Wednesday 31 March 2021

Month of March 2021

Quite a number of events happened this month although mostly in a personal capacity.

One morning, my wife woke up and told me she couldn't sleep well. There was persistent numbness in her right hand and neckache. For quite some time, she had been having shoulder and neck aches. These were attributed to the aging body of a mother with children and housework. But this time, things didn't seem right. We quickly arranged for a specialist consultation and upon recommendation, were told to stay in a hospital overnight for a MRI and observation. The suspicion was nerve compression coupled with carpel tunnel syndrome. The stay was uneventful and result came back on a slightly positive diagnosis that she had slight lumbar compression on C5-6 area (probably age related) and mild carpel tunnel on a borderline sensitivity analysis. Surgery was avoided and hopefully, by dosing vitamin B12, the condition may be improved. I haven't got the full bill yet since it was supposedly insurance claimable but should be manageable.

I finally got to clear my IPPT window as the clock was ticking down. It was my first experience at Khatib camp with the automated systems. The test was conducted at 5pm and had rained earlier. I was a little nervous after hearing feedback that the static stations' counter was strict in that non-standard reps would be disregarded. The demonstration by the fitness instructor did indicate the system was rather sensitive. So, I stood behind the line and observed others. Quite a number of youngsters (about 10 years gap from me) struggled and later, I realized they were there to clock an attendance and left without attempting the dreaded 2.4km run. I managed to achieve the required static station points to give myself a comfortable target time to achieve, 14m45s. I dislike running on a wet track, much less one with some uneven surfaces. So we were flagged off and in my mind, I just wanted to do my own pace without relying on any marker. By the end of round 1, it was too quick! After round 2, still too quick! I must have sub-consciously followed the person in front of me who's obviously much younger and fitter. By end of the third round, I could feel the heavy legs and had to slow down. The final 3 rounds were quite a challenge as I pushed myself through the breathlessness. The end result showed 12m37s. Unbelievable! Way better than I wanted and even in my practice runs, I didn't even come close to 13min flat. No wonder I felt my spirit float away at the finish line. So I went home happy with money incentive (credited on my drive home, that's really efficient) while thinking this probably will not happen again.

The month ended on a very sad note. On 27 Mar, my wife and I were preparing to head out for a dinner gathering with friends not seen since Covid. This was planned 2 weeks in advance. As usual, I was getting a snack ready for our pet rabbit to head back to cage and saw him lying flat with hind leg twitching a little. He must be sound asleep like he usually does but when I got closer and called out his name softly to wake him, I saw a last heave and his tail contracted behind. He just passed away like that, softly without a struggle. Thinking back, we should have brought him to see the vet that morning as his appetite was non-existent. That was the warning sign. We couldn't contain the tears as we held his limp body. Dinner was skipped and a cremation ceremony soon followed 2 days later.

Dear Kimi, I hope you are in pet heaven with your favorite food and hiding spots to play with. I remember the times when you snuggle behind my back against the wall no matter if I am sweaty after an exercise. I love that you love the apples and went all out to pinch it from us by climbing all over. You were just a foodie like us. Your sleeping pose was the most carefree expression. I knew you felt safe in the house and only recently began exploring the rooms which were out of bounds. But you were too young to go and for that, it will always remain an eternal regret. Now, go roam free and be that happy boy who will always be in our hearts. Papa and Mummy miss you very much.

Tip: Peter Louis Guntrum Riesling Spatlese 2018

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Finance Investment Movement 7

In the second month of the Syfe Cash+ portfolio, the returns were less than expected, clocking a very poor 0.03%. Taken into consideration that the first month was spectacular, I guess it's a process of normalization since global bond markets had gone into a frenzy over increasing yields and inflation. Hence, instead of redirecting, I shall keep the fixed deposit money where it is upon renewal to earn a fixed 1.15% pa.

The topsy turvy cryptocurrency market continued to cause much anxiety to many potential/current investors. What's another 10% movement, an experienced one might conclude. My approach was to trade Bitcoin and sell Ether, resulting in a realized gain of $800. The mini war chest accumulated remains ready to be deployed as required.

At the moment, I am undecided whether the stock market euphoria is a false dawn or the real deal. Therefore, shall stay sidelined for a while more.

Tip: 100 plus

Monday 15 March 2021

Life Enrichment

Completed my first book of the year. It's "Has China Won?" by Kishore Mahbubani.

He's one of only two living Singaporeans who can entice me to stop all work and tune in to their speeches, articles or books. What fascinates me most are their intimate knowledge in many subject matters especially those related to China and India and their histories. Also, their candid ways of expressing an opinion without being too overbearing. Those are traits of a very skilled diplomat.

This book made several obvious observations about the state of affairs between US and China. It boils down to the age old question of whether two distinctly different civilizations can co-exist together. Even though they differ culturally and fortunately geographically far from each other, there are many areas of collaborations eg doing good for their citizens, climate change, combating terrorism. Hence there is much optimism to be had provided senior figures on both sides come to terms with each other's unique perspectives. Granted that there had been mis-steps made over the years, it's never too late to reconcile with the mistakes for the sake of the global citizenry.

The next twenty years will define how the world functions and impacts not much of me but my children. Singapore could be comfortably seated within the Asian prosperity sphere or peter out into oblivion. Being a long term planner, I do feel slightly nervous. This reminds me to continue the investment journey to be self reliant.

Tip: Isojiman Junmai Daigingo, melon and palette heavy

Monday 1 March 2021

Month of February 2021

Overheard on the radio, we are 10 months away from Christmas! Err... that's too early to think. Let's assess the global situation. The Covid pandemic is still much alive, vaccinations have not begun for many developing countries, airplanes are slowly taken out from mothball and worse, economies are stagnant with inflation on the horizon. So it doesn't look like we can see light out of the woods. Even in Singapore, the government's guess is to complete vaccinations by 3Q 21. That signals the end of travel dreams this year as I think other countries will lag further behind. But it's also possible for a bilateral agreement on a special permitted passport entry with vaccination stamp. In the blink of an eye, Christmas might be around the corner and hopefully, I will be planning an itinerary.

On the investment, I'm looking to trade more actively now that the festive season is over and full earnings reports are due. There's a new trading platform that I am keen to explore and potentially use it for US market.

2021 has already seen much negative news especially tragic ones like the Myanmar coup turning deadly, industrial explosion at Tuas, murders for love and some others. One particular tribute I would like to give is to a guy who was prominent in my childhood. In my generation, he's probably the favorite 3rd uncle (三叔)who kept us entertained during Chinese New Year period when his movies were released. He might not have been the lead actor but his contribution to the plot was immense. I certainly appreciate his comic talent and it's not something that can easily be learnt or copied. Therefore, I rank him higher than more established celebrities and feel the loss of someone so special. Thank you 达叔, you are a legend now in heaven.

Tip: Lepanto Brandy De Jerez, light and smooth, sherried