How do you...

...even begin to eat this??

Bread

Anyone tried before? Is it like crisy roti canai/prata?

The case of a banana

Me: What's the banana doing out on the laundry rack??
Rick: Oh can throw it away.
Me: Why is it there in the first place?
Rick: A bird flew in and pecked at it.
Me: (?!) All the way into the dining hall (just to eat your banana)?
Rick: Errr yup. So since it already has a peck on it, I hang it there so that it can eat it. Seems not.
Me: Ok...hey, can just cut off the tip and eat the rest?
Rick: *Rigorously shakes head side to side* Don't want. Bird flu...
Me: Oh yah, good point.

Lightning rod?

Is that a lightning rod on the roof of the bus stop (on the right side)?

Bus stop 1

Bus stop 2

Incompetent taxi driver

Normally if a taxi driver doesn't know how to get to my destination, he would do the following (or a combination):
  • Ask me
  • Call and ask his contacts
  • Look up a street directory
I have no qualms in assisting the taxi driver as much as possible to reach my destination (it is after all in my interest to do so) but the I'm only assisting: the onus is on the taxi driver to get all the relevant information, if he hasn't already gotten it, to enable him to drive me there. Although I generally try to get as much information as possible about how to get to the destination, it should always be the taxi driver's responsibilty; not mine.

Recently, I took a taxi to a client's office and here's what happened:

Me:   10, CBP Central 1.
Taxi:  Ok.

Few seconds later...


Taxi:  Is it after the ABC building?
Me:   Mmmm yes it's near there.

Later, as we were nearing ABC building, I was looking out for the road CBP Central 1 and lo behold it was right after the building on the left. Yet, the taxi driver drove past it and said...

Taxi:  So where? Where?
Me:   I think you just past it. The road is on the left, after ABC building.
Taxi:  No, no. No such road on the left.
Me:   ???
Taxi:  Ok, I turn left at the traffic light and turn left again and you can show me.

Once he did that, he said...

Taxi:  So where? Where? (in a seemingly impatient voice)
Me:   Just drive back to the ABC building.

Once there, it was again...

Taxi:  Where, where?
Me:   See? That's CBP Central 1. Turn left. I don't understand why as a taxi driver, you're asking me to direct you (in a frustrated voice).
Taxi:  I've been driving taxi for a year only (in a rather apologetic voice).
Me:   So? I don't even drive and yet I (have the sense of) always look out for the road signs (and I'm not even Singaporean!).

He was much nicer when collecting the fare. Though I was seething, I did manage to thank him but I refused to give any tips. Usually, if I don't have exact coins and the fare is close to the next dollar, I would round up and let the taxi driver have the difference. All I ask is a normal ride without anything unpleasant. I'm not even expecting good service. But not this time. Ironically, he gave me back 5 cents more lol.

The decline of Fundsupermart

The beginning
I have invested in unit trust funds since 2000/2001 and have a Fundsupermart account (a distributor of unit trust funds) for about 9 years already, almost since the day they came into existence. Note that Fundsupermart since day 1 has always been an advocate of regular saving for the medium to long term (rather than speculation).

The only explicit charge that I paid (until now) was the sales charge i.e. a certain % of my subscription which is levied only once. Other charges are implicit within the unit price, which is the same for all investors, big or small, as it is determined by the fund manager.

The change
However, in a recent announcement, they are decreasing the sales charge quite significantly but introducing a platform fee, which is an ongoing fee charged as a % of amount of assets invested.

Any normal investor would know that this is detriment to him as such ongoing fee will very soon offset whatever saving that's gotten from the reduced sales charge. In fact, someone showed via a simple calculation, with reasonable assumptions,  that after 3 years, amount of ongoing fees would offset the reduction in sales charge.

This could be good news for speculators or short-term investors but most of us are investing for at least the medium-term (i.e. at least 5 years). Also, such ongoing fee will also penalise those of us who have already paid the old sales charge and so we are penalised twice. Such fee reduced our investment rate of return, on a compounding basis, with no appreciable benefits to long-term investors.

Despite pleas to scrap this platform fee and alternative suggestions to generate revenue (e.g. start charging for fund switches, savings on IT side, reduce number of free magazines etc), both the GM and CEO are adamant in sticking to this new pricing structure. In fact, the CEO stated that such structure exists in US, UK and Australia. Yet, people who are familar with US and Australia contradicted him by saying that it is cheaper to invest in unit trust funds in these countries and it's even without such ongoing fee.

The decline
Their main competitors are Dollardex, AvivaDirect, POEMS and Finatiq. I know for certain that the first three do not have such structure (and in fact, Dollardex, in a e-mail response, said that they have no such plan). They are definitely not small fries in the industry either, having existed for between 5 - 10 years. Moreover, transfer of invested funds is free. Thus, it is no brainer that many of us are transfering our investment out of Fundsupermart to its competitor.

Of course there is a chance that the other online fund distributors may follow Fundsupermart's new pricing structure in future but until then, there is no harm moving to them. At worst, it's bye-bye unit trust funds and hello alternative investment instruments (likely ETFs).

Ban's Bread Country


Civ 4: Bread country, originally uploaded by Jaded Jeremy.
What do you do if your country is a desert with a long river (ala Nile River)? Well, in Ban's case, he used his magical units to turn desert squares to plain squares and feverishly turned them into farms which in time generated plenty of food (see those bread?). On those squares, he also earned plenty of money (see those money bags?)

It's just amazing how many farms he had. Too bad food from farms is not something one can export in Civilization IV (or any Civilization game for that matter). He would had been filthy rich!

MYR50

Recently I received an sms on my Malaysia handphone from a phone number that I don't recognise. The sms asked me to provide him/her my bank account number so that he/she can transfer MYR50 each month to me, preferably to either of two specific banks (one of which is RHB and I forgot what was the other).

I thought it was a scam but on hindsight, it could be a genuine mis-sent. What do you think?

Happy baby

One of the poses I learned at yoga classes is the happy baby pose. You know how babies, after a few months, start holding their feet? It's like that.

Recently, I asked Ban to do that pose. After a split-second (probably trying to remember the actual pose hehe), he turned and hugged me and said, "Happy baby pose!".

We were helplessly laughing after that :)