Fountain and autumn

During my last trip to Canberra, I made the effort to capture the feel of autumn there. Here are some photos taken at Civic (which is like the town centre of Canberra):

Autumn Civic 1

Autumn Civic 2

Autumn Civic 3

They look quite nice to me, although I still don't like the cold weather then :)

In the same trip, I also manage to take a photo of the tall fountain at Lake Burley Griffin:

Canberra fountain

Another bread

Yay! I discovered another bread that works just as well as the Hailam bread when it comes to my delicate stomach: it's French bread i.e. the long baguette.

What happened was that I asked Ban a favour to buy Hailam bread for me. Unsurprisingly, there wasn't any stocked at the Jaya Grocer nearby. Ban then bought the French bread, believing that there wasn't milk in it (is that the reason, Ban?). In any case, I believed he can eat it if I couldn't.

So good news is that I have another alternative. The downside is that the French bread is more expensive. Oh well.

Car wash: man and machine

Until recently, I have never gone through the experience of having a car washed by that multi-brush machine typically found at a petrol kiosk,

To my surprise, there was substantial manual work involved: the high-pressure jet spray of water (to wash away the bird shit, which is the main reason I took my car to wash this time), the soaping of the car and then at the end, the drying of the car. I had always thought that everything was done during the time in the 'small tunnel'.

However, it appears that handwash is a little cleaner and detailed from my experience (a total of 2 times hehe). Perhaps that's why handwash is a little more expensive?

What's your experience?

"Traditional" curry chicken

Curry chicken 2

This time, since Ban was not here, I cooked it closer to my usual style. The differences, compared to previously, are:

  • Chicken thigh, with skin on, though I didn't eat most of the skin
  • White onion
  • A tad more oil
  • Curry leaves (finally found some)
  • No sugar added
It was still hardly spicy lol. I'm now even more inclined to believe that this is due to the brand of curry powder. It was a little oilier than I like it to be but no more oilier than that sold outside.

Snake? Lizard?

My sister's sons found this in their backyard and alerted us to it (thank goodness they did that rather trying to "get to know it" or something):

Stumpy snake

I've never seen such snake before, be it in books, on tv or at the zoo. It was short and its head looked too huge for its body - like a stumpy snake or (scary) lizard without legs. Any idea what is it?

Price vs Income

One of the most persistent myths in Australian politics has been that providing
household assistance undermines the effect of imposing a carbon price. If the
prices of carbon-intensive products rise by$10 and you give me $10 in
assistance, aren’t we back where we started?

If there were only one product in the world, the answer would be yes. If
there’s only one thing I can buy, you can be sure that’s where every dollar in
my wallet is going to go. Soif you put the price of that product up and
increase my income, I’ll carry on exactly as before.

Yet the one-product world is a far cry from the vast plethora of options facing
modern consumers, who can spend on anything from a ballet lesson to a
bunch of bananas, a train fare to a television. And here’s the insight from
modern economics: when you have choices, changing relative prices changes behaviour.



In understanding how carbon pricing works, there’s no more critical
distinction than the difference between prices and incomes.

- Andrew Leigh in the article "The price is right for consumer shift"

Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodle

There are lots of 'local' food in Singapore that can also be commonly found in Malaysia and vice versa, though they may not be cooked the exactly the same way e.g. wantan mee, fried carrot cake, satay, roti canai, ayam ponteh etc.

However, it's not the case for Singapore's Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodle. This is a common noodle dish in Singapore but could never be found in Malaysia...until now (apologies for the gimpy photo quality):

Pavilion Food Republic 7.50

It was found in the Food Republic food court at Pavilion. Food Republic is owned by Breadtalk, a Singaporean company. Food Republic has a number of food courts in Singapore. Though the design at Pavilion is quite typical of a Food Republic food court, it is more spacious.

Some observations about the noodle dish:
  • It had 4 medium-sized prawns, few slices of squid, some egg and beansprout
  • The noodle was either the Korean potato noodle (chapchae) or something similiar i.e. translucent and smooth, unlike the one in Singapore where 2 types of noodle are used i.e. yellow and white
  • It tasted the same as that in Singapore
  • The sambal was different: it was watery and not as spicy but tasted ok
  • The serving size was similar to the any noodle dish in a typical 'tai chau' place. Hence, at the price of RM7.50, it's about RM1-1.50 more expensive

Inverted pyramid

Historically, as country modernises, families have fewer children while retirees live longer. This gradually changes the typical pyramid-shaped population demography to an inverted one. This raises serious concerns on many financing problems such as health and pension, among others.

For various reasons, families choose to have fewer children (fewer than 2 on average) that causes this shrinking population, while everyone generally lives longer beyond retirement.

Among the measures countries have been doing to cope or improve this situation are to provide incentives to have more children, attract new citizens from overseas and to extend retirement age (but only effective if older workers can still get employment).

Here's a radical idea: what if the states pay to get ovaries and sperms and hire surrogate mothers (or use whatever futuristic device) to have their (the state's) own children? The states then act as parents to these children until they are adults (age 18 or 21).

Of course there is a host of issues associated with this but it's an interesting idea, isn't it? Perhaps it'll be made into a movie :)


It's amazing what can happen when you want to flick raindrops off an umbrella:

Broken umbrella

Home loan as leverage

Let's say someone has the cash to pay fully for a house. Assuming that he's not risk averse and just interested in generating good investment rate of return, should he pay fully or get a home loan and invest the rest of cash in, say, shares? If further assuming that there's little fluctuation in interest rate and investment rate of return on share price, then the answer is pretty obvious.

However, from my experience, not many people realise this. Hence, I set out the example below to show the answer.

Cash = $400,000
House price = $400,000
House price appreciation = 10% p.a.
Rental yield = 4% p.a.
Share price appreciation = 7% p.a.

Option 1
Use cash to buy house. Rent received is invested in shares.

Home cash
b.o.y = beginning of year

Investment value at the end of 10 years = $1,395,072
Investment rate of return = 13.3% p.a.

Option 2
Use 10% cash and 90% home loan (over 10 years) to buy house. Rent received is invested in shares. Shares are liquidated if needed to pay the loan instalment.

Home loan interest rate = 5% p.a.
Yearly instalment = $46,622

Home loan
e.o.y = end of year

Investment value at the end of 10 years = $1,459,101
Investment rate of return = 13.8% p.a.

Hence, the answer is to take the home loan. In fact, there is no need to consider rent because it is applicable to both options. For the same reason, there is no need to consider expenses relating to the house e.g. maintenance and taxes.

The key factor is whether home loan is borrowed or not. The difference in the investment rate of return between the 2 options in the example above is 0.5% p.a. This difference will be larger the greater the gap between the investment rate of return on the share price and the home loan interest rate.

In deciding whether you should use cash or take a home loan, you may want to consider taking the home loan if you are able to generate a return on your cash that is at a higher rate than the home loan interest rate.

Update: the above points are also applicable when deciding how much loan to take e.g. 90% or 80% and also when deciding whether to make partial prepayment in the future.