Prophecies and it's lack thereof

June 28, 2010 0 Comments

Was amused by the self-fulfilling prophecies that dominate worldwide markets.

Some of them are rather cute.

The Icarus Factor (the overly ambitious plans of companies - expanding beyond their means - such that they eventually fail in a dramatic manner)

The Santa Claus Rally (general happiness around Wall Street in the period between Christmas and New Year + the pessimists are on holiday)

Of course there're more mundane ones. Sell in May and go away. January Barometer. Triple Witching Day.

Are these prophecies based on empirical observation? Or are they recurrent merely because people believe and hence abide by them? Should one pay no heed at all or accord cautious attention to them?

Really, so many questions and each of them leads on to many more. It is a binary fission of questions with no end in sight.


Investment psychology

June 24, 2010 0 Comments

One thing about investing is the need to manage one's greed.

So many people have burnt their fingers. But is it the tumultuous markets which has hurt them or was it their greed which has consumed them?

It's easy for investors to think 'I'll sell when it reached point X.' Or 'I'll buy when the price lowers further.'

It's even easier for them to think 'Now that it has reached X, I'll just wait for it to become more favourable by just a little.' But the little change they had been waiting for would never come. Or, more accurately, it would come and leave without being acknowledged and addressed. 'What if it keeps going up? I'll keep it for a while more.'

Isn't such paradigms the reasons why people eventually regret? Greed is the substrate for regret. Greed is both the reactant and the conditions for heart-aching regret.

'I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.' - Sir Issac Newton, the guy who lost money investing in a South Sea Company

'The line separating investment and speculation, which is never bright and clear, becomes further blurred when most market participants have recently enjoyed triumphs. Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money. After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities -- that is, continuing to speculate in companies that have gigantic valuations relative to the cash they are likely to generate in the future -- will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice. But they nevertheless hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. Therefore, the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There's a problem, though: They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.' - Warren Buffett

Greed, loosely defined, can be applicable to all facets of life. One can be greedy for more money, power, respect, love and a whole host of objects and emotions.

But it is through tangible material wealth that greed is clearly expressed (perhaps the most dramatic and dangerous fashion).


x 2

June 21, 2010 0 Comments

The surprising elasticity of time.

Time is a physical unit. Every school-going kid probably knows that time has a scientific definition and the SI unit for time is second. Like any other technical term, time can by measured, gauged, defined, quantified and calculated.

A scientific, methodical analysis of Time is probably going to put most people to sleep; anything that needs to be measured, gauged, defined, quantified and calculated tends to be boring. How about looking at the more romantic side of Time then?

Time is synergistic to emotions. It flies by when one is enjoying oneself and slows proportionately to a bored mind at a boring event. In other words, it compresses when one is feeling positive and stretches when negativity abounds. (Rarefaction and compression under certain conditions…seems that Time, like Light, have wave-like properties too.)

Not as immutable as one thinks. It feels as though all scientific terms should be definite, bland, boring and soporific.

To believe that Time, a scientific term, is otherwise brings a sense of incredulity.

Time, one realizes, can be mould by perception. It feels like play dough, which can be shaped. It is organic; it responds to emotions. Maybe Time should be reclassified as a Living Thing.

Time changes and Time can be changed. Wow.



June 19, 2010 0 Comments

The Native Indians had always found it strange when they saw Englishmen being directed about by wristwatches.
The latter would look at their watches, express surprise then hurry off to their next meal or meeting. They would wake or sleep according to small numbers etched on the little timepieces. How…weird.
The Indians, however, ate when they felt hungry. They awaken when the sun peeped across the horizons. They sang when the harvests were in or when the moon was a full, luminous orb. They rested as birds flocked to their roosts. They smiled, rejoiced, cried in symphony to their inner rhythm.
They were aligned with what was.
To them, it was strange how those Englishmen required intricate – somewhat useless – machines to tell them what to do. Couldn’t they feel what they are supposed to do? Strange how they allowed some little trinkets to dictate their movements.
What about you? Are you allowing little things to dictate your thoughts and actions?


Cat woman

June 16, 2010 0 Comments

There was a faraway look in her eyes.

It felt as though she was wandering in her own world, one solely of her will, one wholly from her imagination. This world, she felt, had given up hope on her. There was no reason why she shouldn’t give up on this world.
In fact, it was only fair that she abandon it the way she was abandoned.

Often saw this middle-aged lady in the estate, carrying a backpack and plastic bags of leftovers to feed stray cats. She would leave the food around on the ground for the felines to feast on.

Heard that she once got scratched badly while trying to trap a stray cat. She was intending to neuter it. Perhaps that was why the kitty lashed out at her. Was she doing good by castrating the cats? Didn’t know, I really didn’t.

What I knew was the consuming loneliness I sensed from her.

Some people radiated optimism; just being in their company would bring one joy. Others might bring out the recklessness in one. This lady, she evoked no such happiness or unruliness. She called forth an aching sense of discomfort from one – discomfort that reverberated alongside hers.

Sometimes, on my way home, I would see her. Her eyes were forlorn and her vision, casted towards the starless skies.

Was she with the cats by choice? Or was it because she has no else to keep company with?

Lord, may you guide and shelter us with your loving hands so that peace can seal the enveloping vacuum within. (Once again, I prayed. Not out of religious fervour but simply from sheer helplessness.)



June 13, 2010 0 Comments

'You don't have to come.
Not anymore.'

'Don't need your help.'
Statistics, numbers
And reports matter.

She said, 'sorry.'
She typed as she said.

'It's okay.'
A plastic smile.
'I'm fine.'


Lame stuff

June 12, 2010 0 Comments

Might as well write something light-hearted today (since I'm feeling particularly buoyant after a heavy breakfast and a light exercise).

Disclaimer: I didn't do any of the following deeds.
I walked into my favourite bakery and was solemnly deciding what my breakfast would be.

Spotted a new employee and decided to be friendly. 'Hello, are you new? How long have you been working here for?' I gave him my friendliest smile.

He seemed puzzled for a while. 'Erm, I'm the boss.'

I quickly made my purchases and fled in embarrassment.
Left some stains on the floor carelessly. Irritated, I picked up a bottle of water and poured some atop the stains.

Just wipe with tissue and it would be clean, I thought.

To my surprise, the liquid I poured out had a strong fruity smell. Tasted a bit from the bottle...Turned out that it was actually lemon barley drink! *)&^()@%#

I blamed my brother for leaving his bottled drink about. He's just out to make my life difficult.
Went happily for work in the morning. Was glad that I'm doing the morning shift - can get to go with my friends to the beach later :] In fact, I was looking forward to this day greatly; it would disrupt the dull monotony of the current working life.

Asked my friends to stop joking with me when they insisted that I'm supposed to be working in the afternoon shift. 'Hah-ha. It's not funny.'

Turned out that they're right. I'm actually scheduled for the afternoon shift!

Technical analysis of charts, understanding the patterns within the Periodic Table, drawing mathematical graphs doesn't faze me much. That's why I'm astounded that I managed to read the simple schedule wrongly.
Just telling some stories (which I've never experienced myself).



June 11, 2010 0 Comments


5 common responses to dealing with mistakes:

1) The Liar - 'I didn't do it. Prove it.' 'It wasn't me. She did it.'
2) The Justifier - 'It's okay. Everyone made this mistake. I'm not the only one, so it's okay.'
3) The Blamer - 'It's all the teacher's fault. If only she taught me better.' 'If only my parents are smarter or richer.'
4) The Denier - 'It didn't happen. Nope, it didn't. Everything's fine.'
5) The Quitter - 'I shouldn't have tried. I should have known that I'd fail.'
-Kiyosaki's Guide to Investing

So easy to shirk responsibility when mistakes happened.
So easy to simply repeat the mistakes without learning from them.
So easy to not repeat the mistakes by simply never trying again.
Was astonished to find this lesson on life in an investment book. Been expecting notes on fundamental and technical analysis but found these unexpected pearls instead. On hindsight, I shouldn't be that surprised - one's attitude colours one's perspectives in all areas of life.

Such limiting beliefs abound, be it when studying or investing or doing business.
Irked me endlessly when people kept saying that they've failed - even when they haven't even tried.

A convenient excuse for laziness.
Actually shared these lessons with a kid but didn't think it went well. Biting lessons on self conduct are difficult for adults, even more so for kids.

Turned out to be rather awkward for both of us. Felt rather rude - but am honour-bound - to point out the weakness in the kid's attitude towards life and living.
May we all learn to be responsible for ourselves by responding wisely to mistakes.



I or he? Myself or him?

June 10, 2010 0 Comments

Felt as though he was finally ready to move on.

Acknowledged that he didn't have the proper attitude and financial wherewithal to be an artist.

It had felt like a divine omen when his artwork was accepted for an exhibition in London. Was thrilled. Maybe he could still be an artist, you know, do art in his spare time or something.

Was devastated when the work reached the place with destroyed frame and shattered glass. It was an ominous portend. The fragmented glass reflected dreams gone awry, of hopes broken beyond repair.

A realisation - one which he had been denying - that he could never make it as an artist. It felt as though he had buried part of himself and spent much time mourning. Now that it had died, withered and buried, he finally a flitting sense of peace.

There was no longer any lingering desire to draw or paint. It wasn't even aching; it was merely a vacuum. Did he felt sad for himself? Not really. The weight in his heart was gone.


Saint T

June 06, 2010 0 Comments

In 1950, a nun who was a history and geography teacher was called on to help the impoverished in Calcutta. Instead of just talking about caring for the poor, she chose to say very little. She chose to help others with her actions, not just words. It was because of her actions that when she speak, people listened.

She had this to say about the distinction between words and actions. 'There should be less talk. A preaching point is not a meeting point. There should be more action on your part.'

Mother Theresa became the embodiment of selfless love and hope.

-adapted from Kyosaki's Guide to Investing

Note to self: Actions do speak louder than words. Don't preach/nag.


Dali's Dilemma

June 05, 2010 , 0 Comments

Everything becomes dream-like.
Clocks melt under the sun,
and ants nibble the fluid time.
In the distance,
burning giraffes canter about in a panic,
bashing into – then breaking apart –
elephants on stilts-like legs.

Orbs spin about him,
flashing and twirling,
mirages in their depths.
They are graceful
yet menacing.
Alive with a purpose that
only they know.

Everything fluxes.
Time, he can’t tell.
Has he been there for ten minutes?
Or ten months?
Time can’t be defined.
It can’t be held.


Serene Prayers

June 03, 2010 0 Comments

The Serenity Prayer

Lord, please grant me
the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Was idly thumbing through a teenage fiction, feeling wistful that I had outgrown the world of fantasy when the above prayer leaped out from between - beyond? - the pages to ensnare, to enrapture.

The courage to act. The courage to not act. The wisdom to differentiate.

A beautifully succinct poem. Just wanted to share, I guess.


SDU Short Story

June 02, 2010 0 Comments

A story of dubious entertainment value. Please try not to cringe.


‘Xiang Yeow,’ my elder brother said suddenly in a monotone. It was three days after my birthday party and my brother was lying on my bed.


‘Xiang Yeow.’

‘What? Stop trying to irritate me. It won’t work.’ I began to update my blog.

‘Do you think that Li Ping is pretty?’ The wheat biscuit that I was nibbling fell onto the ground, breaking into crumbs.

Now, I have always thought that Li Ping is a good friend. Won’t lose her temper. Miss Sunshine. Always ready to lend a helping hand. For some unfathomable reason, Li Ping never had a boyfriend before. Then and there, I decided that this good friend have the potential to become an even better sister-in-law.

‘Why don’t you sms her?’ I took my brother’s phone and quickly keyed in Li Ping’s number before continuing to blog.

‘Xiang Yeow.’


‘Can you check through my sms for me? See if there’s any spelling error.’ I glowered at my brother. ‘Come on, I’ll buy you supper.’

I scanned through the sms. Too old-fashioned. No one writes like that any more. In a falsetto, I began to read the message aloud. ‘Hi, Li Ping, I am Xiang Yeow’s brother. Would you like to go for a cup of coffee together?’ My elder brother blushed. ‘You sure took a long time to write this. Let me edit it for you.’

I triumphantly showed the edited message to my brother.

‘Are you sure? Do you -’

‘Yes, I am very sure. Don’t worry, trust my judgment. I bet you twenty dollars that she’ll be flattered.’ I send the message into a great unknown.

The next day, Li Ping was blushing furiously when I saw her in the lecture theatre.

‘Your make-up seems rather thick today.’ I deviously suggested.

‘What? Is it really?’ Li Ping quickly took out a piece of wet tissue and began to rub it against her face in a gentle circular motion. Instead of becoming more beige, her face was turning redder.

‘What happened?’

‘Don’t laugh.’ With a sudden motion, she shoved her iPhone at me, blushing furiously.

Dear Li Ping, the sparkle in your ember eyes is brighter than that of any diamond. You have a nicer voice than any canary. I’m intrigued- Sorry, I’m rambling. I just hope that, you know, we can get together for coffee one day or something…

I stifled my laughter when I saw the familiar message.

‘So, how are you going to reply?’ I asked innocently, trying mightily to contain my mirth.

‘I don’t know,’ she rambled, ‘he might turn out to be some psychopath or something…’

‘And if he is not a psychopath?’

‘I don’t know…And how would you know whether he’s a psychopath or not? It’s an unknown number.’ She tried to silence me with a question, thinking that I would not be able to answer.

‘Because he’s my elder brother.’

Li Ping’s eyes widened.

And that is how it all begins.