Sunday 17 October 2010


The time has come, I guess, to say goodbye. At least in the virtual sense. I will not be continuing this blog.

I have another blog project in hand, which requires all my spare time to keep up. Unfortunately, I cannot invite everyone who follows this blog over (if there are indeed any), as that particular blog requires the strictest anonymity to work. If you do stumble upon it one day, just pretend you don’t know me.

I won’t be taking down all the posts, not unless I am made to by some authority or something. I have enjoyed blogging here, but it is time to move on. Thanks all, for your support.

Auf Weidersehen, goodbye…..

Thursday 29 July 2010


I had a call 10 minutes ago which almost gave me a heart attack. It was from my brokerage, informing me that I had done a “naked” short sell…..which is illegal in Singapore, and subject to a minimum penalty of $1000.

It turned out that I was careless. The stocks to be liquated were held in my CPF investment account. I forgot about the fact and sold it off without ticking the box which says “CPF”, making it a cash sell inadvertently.

Thankfully, it has all been resolved, although it cost me about $150 after all the transaction costs have been factored in and by the fact that I had to resell those CPF stocks at a slightly lower market price etc. I still ended up reasonably in the black overall, but that was $150 which did not have to be spent in the first place! My heart aches.
My heart is still palpitating from the close call, and you can be sure I am NEVER, EVER, going to do my stock market transactions in a hurry from here out.
I have no idea how those intra-day traders handle the stress, but I guess this means I’m not cut out for that kind of work. Anyway, I am going to go make myself some tea and calm myself down. There is no way I can make myself work for the next half an hour…..

Thursday 22 July 2010


The financial world has coined the term OPM for the use of Other People’s Money as a form capital-less investing strategy.

Personally, I am more interested in the OPT scenario.

That is, Other People’s Time.

Now and then, I feel the urge to vent about OPT. I am fiercely protective of my time. It is one of the few things in life that I value more than money. In fact, the goal of having enough money is just a means to an end, the end being able to spend my time the way I want to.

And there-in lies the crux of the problem.

I have something against people who try to multitask (unsuccessfully) and end up spreading themselves too thin. For most part, I think it is due to a modern society ill, that of the need for instant gratification, the "I want it and I want it now" syndrome.

Kudos to the person who is able to juggle all their commitments successfully, without leveraging on OPT. But how about the ten others who invariably affect others with their time overreach?

Because it ends up affecting me via the following OPT ways:

1) Waiting for perpetual late-comer because of close appointments. Even I am occasionally late (thanks, Singapore traffic), but every time? And at least 30 mins each time?

2) Group events end up being individual events, because everyone realises too late that it is not possible to do 10 things in the time available for 5 things, so the other 5 things get shafted last minute.

3) Having to always adjust my schedule to suit others for committed activities. I remember joining a group boxing class with some friend, and quite a number of classes had to be re-arranged because some of the girls decided they rather go diving, mountain climbing and what not, even though those other plans had been made after we started our boxing classes.

4) Events turn into juggling parade. Ever been to a dinner, where everyone else is on the phone? I have. Refer to my vent on the smart-phone phenomenon. What am I, invisible? Maybe I should just whip out a PC and just work too?

5) End up being the one doing all the work for a joint effort, because everyone is too busy. So I am the slacker? Just because I consciously make a point of not over-committing myself to other activities in order to make time for this one, I am suddenly the sop who should do everything because I have no life.

6) Endure snipes about how I have no life, just because I have no wish to become someone who leverages on OPT. Worse, after that, having to listen to how stressed people are with their busy lives, when about half the activities in their lives could probably be curtailed with no apparent impact. Then again, who am I to say? I am just the girl who has no life.

Sometime ago, someone asked me if I was interested in playing for an alumni band which was having a performance soon. I was frankly interested to get back into playing, but I have had a lot of past OPT experiences when it comes to amateur setups like this. The majority of the players will invariably be:

1) Working stiffs who insist on keeping the same activity in their social lives even with this additional commitment.

2) Players who are simultaneously involved in several different groups, whose practice schedules will, guess what, fall in the same period.

3) Technically excellent players who think that they are entitled to miss practices because their levels of expertise are so much above the rest, and they should not waste their time.

I refuse to set myself up for practices where only three people turn up (and if we are lucky, one of them might just be the conductor). That’s my time, folks. So I didn’t join them.

Despite the frequent urge to vent about OPT, I seldom do so publicly. The OPT phenomenon appears acceptable to most people, because it allows them to use their time the way they want to. The end justifies the means, so sucks to you if you don’t join the game.

Anyway, the recognition that I don’t want OPT in my life has resulted in quite a bit of change to my life, namely, my social life has decreased immensely. I seldom go for group activities anymore, unless I have decided the level of OPT for the people and the activities involved will be at an acceptable level.

Sometimes I ask myself whether this insistence is worth it. I really lose out quite a bit in terms of the stuff I am able to participate in and accomplish by scheduling with so much buffer. The upside is that I seldom have to live with the anxiety of an over-committed life and the guilt that someone wasted their time because of me.

I guess I just answered my own question.


I have been seeing a renal specialist lately for some baseline tests on my one and only kidney. Good news is that my one kidney is working fine, except –

(There is always an except, isn’t there? Doctors would not exist but for the “excepts”…)

1) There is some blood in my urine (has been for some time).

2) I have low levels of blood albumin.

According to the specialist, the first happens to some people sometimes, and there is nothing he or I can do about it. The bad news is that my insurance company has rejected a recent insurance proposal for this very reason. And it looks like there is nothing I can do about it.

Moral of the story: Go and get some medical insurance coverage when you are young and healthy. This should be the top priority after securing your first job. I thought I was invincible and wouldn’t need it – I was wrong.

The low blood albumin is puzzling. According to my own research, it could either be due to a) malnuitrition (me? Really?), b) liver diseases (uh-oh), c) kidney diseases (uh-uh-uh-oh) or d) it is just one of those things. On the kidney front I am cool, and I don’t appear jaundiced, so liver problems are unlikely. I could be malnutritioned of course, but it doesn’t seem to have done me a lot of good on the weight loss front if that’s the case, so the doctor thinks it might be “just one of those things”.

To be on the safe side, if my albumin levels are still low next time I see him (a year later!), he will send me to a gastro-specialist to check my liver. Since it was a gastro specialist who discovered my single kidney (and sent me to him) and tumour situation in the first place, I would have come full circle!

Back to square one after all these $$$ spent.

The ultrasounds last month has revealed some small growths in my left ovary. While they are too small to be of concern right now, I feel kind of suspended in limbo, wondering if this is a sign that “IT is all coming back to me now”. I wonder also if this is how people feel when they are in cancer remission, the fear that it might come back someday will always haunt one.

I am somewhat glad that children are not in my plans. With my crummy family health history and apparently crummy genes, I don’t think it will be a good idea anyway.

By the way, it really bugs me to visit SGH. It feels like the entire sick senior population in Singapore is congregated there, and it really disturbs me to see them, and be reminded that the day may come when I will be one of them, unable to walk properly, speak intelligibly, see and hear clearly.

Aging is scary, aging with ill health is worse.

Monday 19 July 2010


This morning at the office, we received news of an ex-colleague’s passing from a cardiac arrest. He leaves behind an elderly wife, who is still having problems accepting the fact that he is not around anymore.

This is the second such news I have received in the last 2 months. Last month, SB’s young friend passed away from stomach cancer, one week after being diagnosed, without a chance to even say goodbye to his young wife due to situational issues.

I was, and still am very, very affected by these passings happening so close to home. Death by itself is already sad enough when one can see it coming, but when it happens without any warning, it enters the realm of the tragic.

I find it very hard to concentrate on work this morning, even though a crisis has arisen at work and needs my attention. Maybe I am particularly sensitive because we have experienced some of this in the family, though it has been some years. But such things don’t go away entirely. SB nearly had a nervous breakdown some weeks past because of all these fears, and while I have more stoic nerves and can handle it better, I am no less affected.

It is going to be another long, sad day.

Saturday 12 June 2010


When I was first informed of my new assignment and new supervisor at work after I returned from my operation, I knew I was going to have problems sooner or later. I just hoped it would be later.

I like my work scope now, although I have been advised to be careful not to get stuck in a rut. Now that is fodder for another post. But in the meantime, I am enjoying the work that I have been given.

The only fly in the ointment is my current supervisor, whom I have had doubts about from the very beginning. Tis not that he is a bad guy, just that our innate characters conflict and there is some history that involves some other people. As a result, we are somewhat suspicious and wary of each other, and most of the time it feels like a wary truce between us, then an amicable working relationship.

He is what we call a “micro-manager”. He tends to nitpick and control the smallest thing (like document formatting mistakes etc) and leaves the big picture dangling. Now, if I were much lower down the ladder rung, it might not have been so bad. But I am used to a boss who gave me the big picture and allowed me free rein to accomplish that, but will chip in and support me whenever I ran into problems. So mostly, I feel totally directionless when it comes to what to do next, and yet totally constraint in those little tasks.

And I hate it that he has put me under surveillance. Since I am still supporting multiple bosses, my seating has not been changed, which means I am somewhat far away from him as our office is quite large. So he often just walks over to confirm for himself that I am at my desk working. Now my job involves quite a bit of information gathering, which means I have to go around talking to people. So I have taken it upon myself to inform him of every single movement I make so that he will not get the wrong idea. Gosh! I thought I was light years away from the days when I had to raise my hand to go to the toilet!

And it also means that I have cannot openly talk to my ex-ex-supervisor and former team mates, whom I am still very close to, because there is some bad blood between them. I got caught a few times and boy, was it awkward!

I am trying not to let it affect me very much, and am managing to keep quite zen. But I can feel the situation scrap away at me slowly, so I don’t know if I will keep the zen-ness after a few more months. I have another colleague who was transferred to the same supervisor a few weeks after me, and we have been commiserating with each other. He is considering taking up a posting to our new subsidiary on the Indian East Coast just to get out of this situation. I have not gone to that extreme yet.

The thing is all opportunities which will get me out from under my supervisor’s thumb will land me in the exact situation which made me so miserable few months ago – being my own boss (running my own project). So I am now between the devil and deep blue sea.

The employee appraisal is here again and the employee self appraisal and feedback form is on my table. What do I say this time?

Sunday 6 June 2010


I have not been very prolific on the blog in the past few weeks, but then I have not been idle either. Contrary to that, this one month past has been one of the busiest and most productive months of my life.

It has been a month of a lot of introspection, reflection (watch out, the big words are flying) and planning. About where I am now, where I want to be, and how I hope to achieve that.

The initial frugality bit was only a start. As I started planning and budgeting, I started asking myself more questions, and forcing myself to look at things which I had been unconsciously avoiding and now I am in full fledge attack mode.

I sat down and asked myself what I really want on the financial front. After some soul searching, I defined my goal – to fully retire at 55 years old with enough to support myself and my parents comfortably.

That led to the how bit, and I added excel sheet after excel sheet to calculate and track everything I can think of. And came to the realization that my goal would be very, very difficult to achieve, but not entirely impossible.

I won’t bore anyone with details on the processes, but the gist of it is, I have a financial goal now, at 32 years old in life. A bit old to start, but hopefully never too late.

Fitness and Health
I mentioned to my coach the other day that my fitness goal is to fit into the wardrobe I acquired pre-surgery. Once there, maintenance would be my focus. I could tell he was quite disappointed. As he rightly pointed out, I could aim for more than that.

And therein lies the next part of what kept me so occupied last month. Figuring my priorities and working out some sort of balance. I am already well aware I don’t do so well with multi-tasking.

Back to my coach. Whittling myself down to a bikini worthy size 0 may be achievable yet, but the net ROI would not be worth the time and effort to achieve that. All I ask is that I don’t waste my wardrobe and be healthy. It also ties in majorly to my revelations about certain other parts of my life (which is another post in itself), but there you have it. There has to be some kind of balance between a whooping 81 kg and drool worthy 45 kg, and I think….this is it.

My top priority is my goal of early retirement of course, but I don’t want life to pass by while I try to achieve that. To that end, I will work as hard and as much as I need to meet my goal, but I have no plans to climb the corporate ladder aggressively. I am sure everyone had enough of whiny work-related posts from me last year. I am half convinced that ovarian tumor was a result of stress accumulation during that one year.

I am fortunate, or maybe some consider unfortunate, that I don’t have many friends and social obligations

There was a period of time in the past two years, when I thought I needed to get out more, meet more people and make more friends. Though it was alien to my nature, I forced myself to do exactly that. And ended up tired and fried, irritated and disappointed, and generally miserable, with a rapidly expanding Facebook friends list but not a lot of people I still talk to on a regular basis.

I don’t think I have grown any wiser since then, but I am certainly more honest with myself these days. While I can see the usefulness of a big social network in many aspect of life, it still does not mean much if I can’t live life the way I want it – left alone. I don’t need to spend a lot of time socializing to feel happy. In fact, too much of it irks me. I am happy enough to meet whatever friends I have for meal/drinks once a month. Somewhat “hermity” to be sure, but there needs to someone to balance the social butterflies out there.

And I intend to keep it this way.

Finish my MSc. I can’t afford the 40K it would take otherwise if I want to retire by 55 years old.

What an about-face after my last whine! But money talks! Really!

This part was the easiest and most fun to plan!

• Go to the library, read good books, and think a lot.
• Read the news, and think a lot
• Go to the bookstore, read trashy novels and think, not so much though
• Talk to smart people, and think a lot
• Treat myself to KFC once a month
• Sleep…and enjoy it
• Spend time with my parents, but not too much (for all our sanity)
• Travel once a year

In conclusion….

I feel like a computer which has undergone defragmentation. Various bits that have been tucked away in various spaces of my psyche have suddenly been pieced together and properly organized. As a result, I have a direction, I am more efficient, and more importantly….

I am contented.

And I can really, really ask for no more than that.