Tuesday 31 May 2022

Month of May 2022

I have a narrow nasal passage and mostly breathing through mouth when asleep. Hence, my throat typically feels very dry after a night's rest. On Mother's Day, I woke up feeling the same but my wife told me to do ART test because she thought my overall condition looked different. The result came back negative and we proceeded for a dim sum meal with the kids and her mum. The next morning, I thought to do the test again just to be sure. This time, it was positive! As I recall, the infection probably came from the office environment where I was present for 2 days. Soon, my second son joined me in the isolation room and we were together until I got the all clear. Now, I have this nagging lower backache and no matter what position I adopt, the discomfort remains. Can only hope this clears up soon.

The bi yearly CPR/AED course was due and this time, the first day theory lesson was conducted online. The trainer was very sticky to ensure the participant's face was visible throughout for audit purpose. Learnt some new updates such as no need for bandage if victim suffered from jaw dislocation, continuous chest compressions without need to blow air into the mouth etc. Second day was in the classroom for practical tests on bandaging, rescue actions and injury management. I thought the most meaningful takeaway was that as a first aider, you improvise during a situation so as to preserve life. If you are given a chance to learn, go for it.

By now, most people would have heard about the coming inflation environment or is it already here? For the unaware, the loose monetary policy of the US Fed led to cheap and easy money during the start of Covid. As companies and individuals went on spending spree, they racked up large amounts of debts. Now, with the global economy showing recovery signs, the days of almost free money are about to end. Interest rates are rising and coupled with a tightened monetary policy, there will be pain for those servicing debts accumulated earlier. Buying food has also become an expensive trip as price of ingredients soars, wages increase due to short labor supply and rental adjustments to compensate for higher mortgage repayments. India has halted sugar export, Malaysia did likewise for fresh chicken and I'm sure more to follow. The ramifications of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is now showing as they are major suppliers of wheat, fertilizers and energy which are impacting food and industrial productions. For the average Joe and more so the below average ones, I expect a tough time till mid 2023.

Tip: Umenoyado Junmai Daiginjo, off dry with a tinge of fruity and sweetness

Saturday 21 May 2022

The Role We Play In Each Other's Life

I didn't plan to read this as I thought to take a break from "personal development" genre of books and perhaps read something fictional. But as luck would have it, my wife happened to borrow from the library and I swooped in once she had completed it.

It's such an amazing coincidence that she would pick this book from Mitch Albom, making it my second experience with this author. There's a familiar theme to the previous one I read in that the story began with a near death experience. This time, the protagonist got into a dreamy and fantasy like world where she got to meet five people her life crossed path with. Each of them showed her their version of heaven and how the interaction on earth impacted each other. The first person was the doctor who helped deliver her, then her childhood dog companion, her mum, the man who saved her from a falling carriage and finally her husband whom she had desperately tried to save on their wedding night when things started to unravel. To each, there was an attachment on how they interacted and also an opportunity to explain the actions taken then. The underlying message is that despite the ending of a period in time, it spells the beginning of another. Our time in the present will shape and influence who we are and others as well.

Just like the dog, I think what's most important to learn and appreciate is to empathize with others. If one can really achieve that, the world would be a much kinder and calmer place. It's not an easy thing. Read this and treat others well.

Tip: La Dame De Montrose 2011, vanilla, black berries and medium bodied. Drink now

Sunday 15 May 2022

Finance Investment Movement 21

The milestone of the first option trade I had ever done was achieved on 5 May. The strike price quoted was US$141 with a week long duration and a put was sold. This honor went to Apple as I'm a fan of its products and didn't mind holding its stock even if the put was activated. Otherwise, I stand to gain a net premium of about US$25. And one trade became two when a put option for Disney was made days later. This is for a strike at US$95 versus US$55 payout. In total, I collected about US$35 in premiums after a rather spooky stock market week and closed the Disney position early.

As the US market tanked last week, investors were left grappling whether to buy the dip or hold onto cash. With a rising interest rate trend, I had set aside a little spare cash. Since the cash was idling, it set me thinking on how to maximize its value. Besides equity purchase, some options that were considered include CPF Housing Refund, Singapore Savings Bond and short term endowment plan. This cash was meant to be liquid so I narrowed it to SSB and began searching for its latest offer. On the MAS website, it showed T bills were available too and the last yield was 1.56%. How could I have forgotten about this instrument! This could have been my go to option when the fixed deposit was redeemed in February. So I applied and am waiting for the result.

Another instrument that I'm monitoring is the unit trust, JPM Income Fund. It's invested primarily in US national debt and pays a monthly dividend that works out to 4% pa. This might be the right alternative bond portfolio for diversification purpose. Various platforms distribute this but there are different fees, so I'm still looking around.

Tip: Chateau Moulin Riche 2014, nice floral bouquet, slight spice, medium body and length

Tuesday 3 May 2022

Not As Easy As It Seems

Got this book at a random atrium fair for a steal at $8. This is the third Malcolm Gladwell book I have completed within the past year. Still as spell binding, still as engaging.

This time, the topic revolved around human communication and perception. Specifically, between strangers, how do they size each other up in a given situation. The most interesting example was the one involving the CIA and one of its Cuban agent. She was a double spy and had infiltrated for more than ten years. The matter was further compounded by the revelation of many other spies who worked for the Cuban government. For so long, they combined to put the veil over USA and fed wrong information to distort the picture in the country. Could it have been prevented? Hard to say as body language may sometimes be said as a giveaway but in the book, several other examples clearly showed this theory is flawed. Human's tendency to default to truth (believing the honesty of a stranger) is the Achilles heel. We think we know but that's not the case. Without belief though, the world would be a distrusting arena where survival is compromised due to continual suspicion.

Sadly, there had been much news on scams wherever you may be. Singapore was hit by mobile breaches, the elderly got conned to transfer money, corporate honchos invested in a nickel scheme that doesn't exist... the list goes on. It's not difficult to understand the reason behind a scam's success. It preys on the human heart and you just got to be alert to clear warning signs and pause to question yourself at times. The message I got from Malcolm is to practice humility, be kind and improve knowledge. When dealing with people, whether strangers or not, thread carefully to avoid misunderstanding and for me, give the other person the chance to "win" by nodding and walking away.

Tip: Tignanello 2007, cassis, mostly black fruits, slight tobacco. Fine tannins, medium length