Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Preparing for retirement

Ok, I admit. I'm behaving like an ostrich burying its head into the sand. There are reminders everywhere about having strategically plan for retirement i.e. knowing how much you need, and how much you need to start putting aside now, but truth be told, I am only looking at our current mortgage. Further planning is unbearable, mainly because I can't bear to look at how much more I should probably be saving, and how far I am from the target.

Conventional wisdom has it that we need two thirds of our last drawn salary every month to sustain our desired lifestyle, but how can that be achieved without continuing employment?

It was great relief to find out about CPF Life, a kind of compulsory annuity that provides a small monthly income after the age of 65, if the minimum sum is met. The allowance isn't much, but it does mean never having to actually be impoverished.

In the meanwhile, like a squirrel saving nut by nut its winter store, I purchase a high-yield stock occasionally, whenever there is cash to spare. Nope, I'm still not taking a good, hard look at my overall finances, though I probably should :( Maybe when I get my salary back after graduation :P

Little Fish and I had a brainwave yesterday. After retirement, maybe I will offer pet boarding and grooming for small animals at home. What a fun job it would be!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Another tussle for love

Whitty wants some love. She wants Blackie to groom her face, and makes her request by squashing her face in front of him. 
 But Blackie wants some love too. He is pushing his face back at her.
Hey you two, be nice and take turns.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Psst...there is a secret tunnel here. Let's see where it leads to...make sure nobody is following me.
 It is a tiny tunnel, but nothing is too difficult for the rabbit

 I'm well hidden in the darkness. I cannot be seen, except for my white bobtail.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to write job advertisements

The newly passed "Fair Consideration Framework" takes on discriminatory job advertisements to ensure that Singaporeans get an equal opportunity for each vacancy. No potential employer is allowed to express preference for applicants of foreign origins.

Perhaps in principle, the requirement to give Singaporeans a fair chance is a sensible one, as anecdotal evidence suggests that some employers tend hire people of their own nationality, overlooking Singaporeans who may be equally qualified. However, the actual implementation of these guidelines baffles me, especially how these guidelines restrict the way these advertisements are phrased, and what is perceived as discriminatory language.

It is commonly recognized that language conveys more than their literal meaning, and hence it could be exploited to hint rather than convey, and thereby pass on certain hidden agenda that would make sense only to those who are cued into the intended, true messages. Still, the new guidelines seem to take this concept to the extreme, by claiming discrimination in sentences that seem perfectly innocuous to me. Take for example:

"Singaporeans and Permanent Residents are welcome to apply".

This is no longer allowed under the Framework as it supposedly suggests that bias for foreigners. How does one arrive at this interpretation? I would have thought that it meant that Singaporeans are welcome!

As rumblings of discrimination continue, I worry that we overreact by perceiving it everywhere, or worse, claiming victimization for our own failings. After all, it must be accepted that not every Singaporean would be suitable for the jobs that are available, even if they happen to be unemployed.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A picture of innocence

I was in the bathroom when suddenly loud crashes rang out from the yard. Wham, bang, thuds! Sounds like somebody dashing rapidly around the yard and kicking everything in his way!

Hurriedly, I rushed to check out what was happening. And this is what I saw: 

Two fat rabbits lying lazily on the floor, as if they had never run, never kicked anything, and never made a mess. 

Hm...just to be sure, I checked their furniture, but nothing seems damaged...that is not already damaged. In that case, I guess all's well that ends well.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hamster in a bowl

The bowl is perfect for one hamster to sit and feast among his food. When we had two hamsters, they would both want to get in at the same time, and end up squeaking and squabbling a lot over it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

His view, her view

His view: Whitty gazing up at him limpidly in submission. 

 Her view: Blackie watching over her, alert and protective

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Waiting for Oct 17

I sold off all my short-duration bond funds, which are supposed to be one of the investments with the lowest risks. I can accept the low rewards that come from taking less risks, but now it seems like even this option is not available! In a financial catastrophe, cash is king. Actually, cash isn't, because what we have is fiat money based on faith. I would buy gold...except that gold had already been subject to too much speculation.

Maybe some experts would tell me I just made a wrong move. Maybe I'm being "Chicken Little". But I can't help remembering that during the Lehman Brother crisis, even boring old money market funds broke the dollar. So, imagine how much worse things could get if the mighty American government decides not to keep playing the game of musical chairs.

I must admit, I am pretty cross with Obama and the Republicans, though without knowing enough to know who is right or wrong, and who should be doing what.

Just don't default! Is all this just a game for those in power? Now, in the event of US government default, Obama is still going to be President. The congressmen are still going to be congressmen. Those who are rich and powerful are still going to be rich and powerful.

It only matters for the REST of us, yes, even if we are not Americans. I How can so few people determine the fate of so many others?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Marauding Rabbit

Don't they all say that rabbits are prey animals who prefer to keep their feet on the ground? Not this one. Behold, Whitty the brave marauder. 

Knowing that all her treats and toys are kept on top of the cage, she makes repeated attacks whenever she has the chance. The bad girl tore through yet another bag of hay cubes.

There is no such thing as complete rabbit-proofing, only how much damage you are willing to endure.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Sleep tight

Potato - curled into a tight ball, head at the bottom. So cute :) Hamsters have the cutest sleeping poses.

Monday, October 07, 2013

RIP Peanut

Sad to hear that Mic's hamster, Peanut passed away suddenly.

Peanut was a true rescue story. Mic and family found her abandoned in her cage WITHOUT any water. Why do people keep treating living things like rubbish! They adopted Peanut and cared for her with much love.

Sadly, it turned out that she had a lump which was probably malignant. Is it why she was thrown away in the first place? Before they could bring her to the vet for further inspection, she passed away :(

But I am so very glad that at least for the past few weeks, Peanut had a wonderful life, playing in soft tissue paper, eating yummy food and playing on the wheel, so she wouldn't think that life on earth is all about suffering.

Bye bye Peanut :(

The Truth Will Set You Free

Now, I know many of my friends are aghast that I hardly ever go to the dentist. But it is because you folks have no idea what the compulsory dental check-ups were like in the bad old days when I was a child.

We lived in fear and trembling of the dreaded yellow card which would be sent to our classroom. In the midst of the class's collective gasp, our teacher read out the name of the unfortunate child whose turn it was to go to the dentist's surgery downstairs. The rest of us relaxed until the inevitable day when our turn came.

Our dentist in those days was a dragon lady, at least so it seemed to me. Wielding an extraordinarily sharp tool, she would determinedly chisel away plaque and tartar, digging into tender gums, even as I squirmed and cried. As I spat out mouthfuls of saliva, blood and water, the metallic taste made me want to vomit. One day, when I returned to class in a smeary mess of tears, my teacher marched to the dentist's surgery to demand an explanation.

So when it was finally time for me to go to the dentist again, I was a nervous wreck in the waiting room, filled with ominous drilling sounds. On the dentist chair, I screwed my eyes shut, resigned myself to fate and tried not to have a panic attack.

Oh boy, it must have been a truly long time since my school dentist's days. Dental treatments have transformed so drastically! Instead of that horrible needle-like gum-killer, the dentist used two machines that felt much gentler. There was none of that nasty scraping and digging which had caused me so much trauma when I was young. There was hardly any blood either. And yes, there was no one to shout at me, "open your mouth wider!"

Before my latest visit, memories of my former dental visits kept returning to haunt me, especially visions of water and blood swirling down the sink. I hated to experience that again.

Yet the actual experience is so different from my fears. Maybe children's terrors get magnified out of proportion, and I never grew out of them. In a very trivial way, this experience showed me that the best way to exorcise fears is to confront them with the truth. When I know what the truth is, the truth will set me free.

Friday, October 04, 2013

After a meal

Potato just feasted on wheatgerm and mealworms, ran on his wheel, and came out to play on my lap. Now, tired and satisfied, he went into a cosy corner and slept like a log.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Tuition: Less is More

I suppose, if a child is really failing in a subject, tuition could help to salvage the child's performance in crucial examinations. Beyond this fire-fighting assistance, is there really beneficial for a child to have extensive tuition even for subjects he can manage on his own?

Since time and resources are so precious, there are inevitable trade-offs for the benefits that tuition may offer. More tuition means less time for family bonding, for exercise, for pleasure reading, and for interacting with friends and growing in socio-emotional maturity. One may gain a little in academic performance but it seems to offer little else in the way of holistic personal development. If anything, it encourages a "crutch mentality" and excessive reliance on others' help. A child may have gained higher marks but has he really become better at learning?

I am pretty sure that entrepreneurs, pioneers in all fields, didn't get where they are because they had fantastic tuition. Rather, they probably had varied experiences, rich interaction with people, and occasions to put themselves to the tests, and yes, opportunities to fail.

Rather than trying to chase the extra point, the "plus" in the B, it may be better for the child in the long run to have the chance to become a more resourceful and resilient individual by relying on himself to improve his results.