Tuesday, August 21, 2018

17 months of being a father

After nearly 17 months of being a father, I think I have that little bit of experience to talk about the changes that happened to me. The changes are significant enough that sometimes me and wife will say BC and AC, which stands for Before Child and After Child.

"Oh, we used to be able to watch movies in the cinema BC 2012...", laments the wife.

"This is AC 2018, I don't think we can afford to have a late lunch at Tim Ho Wan at 2pm anymore...", I complained.

Of course, mothers and fathers experienced the changes differently, but I think we seldom hear about the fathers' side to the story. I'm here to share.

1. I am much more expressive now. I didn't know I can smile so much. This little boy of mine is like a second ray of sunlight. The first is, of course, my wife. I think my life will be so much blander without them.

2. I didn't know I can survive so long without proper sleep for so long. After a few days of less than 5 hours of sleep, every day starts to feel the same. Everything is like the copy of a copy of a copy. In my line of work as a tutor, I sometimes feel the merging of weekdays and weekends. I might be eating lunch and I'll suddenly pop a question, asking which day it is today. This effect seems to be exacerbated by lack of sleep. On the flip side, I think my insomnia is cured temporarily.

3. Before having a kid, I thought my life was very good already. I don't think how having a child can make my life any better; I seriously thought so. After having a kid, I didn't know how I could live my life without one. Every little thing seems to take in more meaning. I think my life before having a kid seems too indulgent. Too much time wasted on frivolous things. Of course, back then, it didn't feel like that.

4. I never stopped worrying for my kid. Before he was born, I'm worried he might have genetic flaws. After he was born, I'm worried that his hearing might have some issues. After a few months, I'm worried about his jaundice. When he still hasn't started crawling, I worried maybe there are some issues with this mobility. Up till now, he is a little slower than the median month where kids are already speaking, so I'm worried if there is anything wrong.

So you can't imagine how relieved (and proud) when he started calling very clearly, papa and mama, just a day ago. I think I'll never stop worrying about him. That's parenthood.

5. I don't know how to fly a kite, but I think it's similar to parenting. There are times you must let go and times you must rein the kite in. Hold too tightly, the kite won't fly high. Held too loosely, the kite will drop too quickly.


Is it all worth it? I guess that question depends on how quickly you shed your role as an individual or as a couple living together. The sooner you accept that your life will never be the same again, the faster you can adapt to the new one that is thrust straight to you. I think it'll be a very long time until I can sleep for 8 hours, or I can just go out on a whim around midnight to Mustafa to go grocery shopping. Those times are fun and memorable, but they are over.

A new season dawns on me, and I think it will also have its own beautiful scenery to admire.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

On why we do anything

There are 3 reasons why we have to do anything:

1) We want to do it
2) We have to do it
3) We do it so others don't have to do it

Reason (1) is more ego-centric, where we focus on the needs of ourselves. Reason (3) is more focused on the needs of a larger community of which we are a part of. 

This concept came to me when I observed my 17-month-old child transition from (1) to (2). Initially, all the things he does is just because he wants to do it. As he slowly understands our household rules, and later, the rules of the society of which he is a part of, he starts doing things because he has to. He might not like it and it might not be what he wants to do, but he will have to do it. I have not seen him doing things because of reason (3) and hopefully, that will come when he gets older.

I have an example that illustrates these 3 reasons - that of clearing trays in hawker centres. Usually, nobody wants to do the dirty work of clearing trays. In Tampines, at the site of the old Tampines stadium, there is a food court when there is an automated tray clearing thing that looks somewhat like those conveyor belt system carrying plates of sushi around. I thought that was pretty cool, so I really wanted to clear my trays just to see how it works. I guess the novelty wears off after a while. But when do we really have to clear trays? Maybe when they start charging a fine? Or giving an incentive? In another perspective, the cleaner is the one who has to clear the trays, because he/she is employed for that purpose.

The really interesting part comes when we talk about clearing our own trays so that others don't have to do it for us. Or we clear trays left by others that are not even on our table so that a person carrying a tray of hot food does not have to clear it. I thought that idea really gels with the philosophy of leaving the place better than when we came in. I think the Japanese are really great at this. We always read reports of Japanese football fans picking up rubbish and clearing the place after the event ended.

I also realised that after having a kid, I tend to do things based on reason (3) more often. My wife and I are the primary care-takers and we have no domestic helpers. After work, I'm usually tired and what I really wanted to do is to have my own me-time to recuperate. But I have to do some baby stuff so that my wife doesn't have to do it. I mean there's only me and her. If not me, then who? Perhaps I can also extend this idea to the larger society, treating them like my family. If I don't do things, then who shall do it? If I see a piece of rubbish on the streets, and I didn't throw it there, so while I don't want to pick it up, neither is it my responsibility to pick it up, I should pick it up so that others don't have to do it.

That should make Singapore a much better place to live it for everyone, yes?

As such, I strive to teach that to my kid. I want him to take care of himself first, then take care of others. He cannot be doing things mainly because of reasons (1) and (2) alone. He exists in a larger community of which he is a part of, and he ought to do more things out of reason (3). For him to do so, I must also show him that I am doing so. I need to be a good role model for him to follow.

Thanks, son, for making me better than I am now.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The problem with grit

Grit is defined as the ability to keep persisting in something, regardless of personal discomfort, until you succeed or die trying. Grit is said to be a good predictor of future success, meaning that grittier kids have something in them that makes them able to take the necessary beatings in life to make it work out in the end. This concept is popularised by Angela Duckworth's TED talk, which I think many of you had seen before.

Let's deconstruct grit.

VALUE JUDGEMENT

Grit involves value judgement. When someone didn't do homework all the time, that is grit. When someone plays truant in school despite knowing all the possible punishment that may come, that is also grit. When a gamer sits at home all day to work on his Xbox, that too is grit. But somehow these activities are perceived unfavourably by society, hence it is not considered as examples of grit. Usually, when we talk about grit, we see them through a lens of what we think is the idealised version of a successful person. Working through the night to do homework, or sucking it up and working OT to do a project, or working over the weekend...these are activities that are judged favourably by society. Hence, when we say someone has grit, it also means that society has judged whether it is worthy or not.

Look at the picture below. 


The person below doesn't have grit because he didn't persist. And he is inches short of hitting pay dirt and would have realised his rewards if he just persists for a little longer. That is a value judgement. Why? Economic work and earning more money is seen as a good thing by society. Nobody talks about the sacrifices these people have to give in order to do these work.

Perhaps the person below gives up digging because he realised that having more diamonds isn't what he wanted in the first place. He already had diamonds, in the form of living, warm-blooded people sitting at the dining table waiting for his return. There's no need for more. But somehow he is defined as a failure in the eyes of society, for having given up early before hitting pay dirt. He doesn't have the grit in him to succeed.

Did we also impose our values onto others when we use the word grit?


WHO BENEFITS?

Who actually benefits from people having grit? To persist in doing something despite it being boring and still continue doing so seems a little psychotic to me. It depends on who says that, isn't it? If it's the employers complaining that workers are not gritty these days, then we need to think why they want employees to do that. Perhaps the conditions are really bad and the salary really low, and since there is nothing material to be hopeful of, they use ideology as a self-control mechanism to exert influence on behaviour. Employers do need employees to have grit if they are going to exploit them by squeezing more of their labour output for the salary given to them.

If it's by teachers, we also need to think hard on who benefits. Maybe grittier students are less troublesome to teach and it's much less work compared to a student who is less gritty. When we frame it like this, the conversation shifts away from asking ourselves why the students are subjected to learning uninteresting things, rather than something that interests them. I've not seen people describing doing something that they are passionate about as grit. The usage of the word implies doing something distasteful in the hope of getting something good in the future.

Usually, grit is determined by people with positions of power and authority. We just need to trace the path to see who benefits to understand why they complain people are not gritty enough. 


MARSHMELLOW TEST

In the 1960s, Mischel did an experiment regarding children and different treats, including the infamous marshmallow. Basically, the children are given a treat, which they can choose to eat right away or wait until the researcher comes back with two. This becomes known as the marshmallow test that is designed to determine self-control and delayed gratification and how it leads to success, better health, happiness and so on. Though it's not specifically used to test for grit, it's related. Grit is how much you can endure shitty situations while waiting for the payload at the end, and that requires a lot of self-control plus the ability to delay gratification. It's commonly concluded that those children who pass the marshmallow test, meaning that they get two treats by waiting instead of satisfying their gratification of one treat right away, are predicted to be more successful in the future.

But there are many reasons for this. It could be a sign of class differences. If you are a child who has access to different kinds of treats all day long, (including marshmallows), you can delay your gratification longer than someone who only eats it once every blue moon. The different access to treats, because of the child's background, could play a part.

And there is a value judgment again when we deem that the child who eats two later is somewhat stronger in willpower than a child who chooses to eat it right now. In an environment where food is scarce, it is irrational to delay satisfying your food craving and hold on for a bigger reward in the future. Due to the difference in the child's background, forgoing present rewards and gunning for a bigger one in the future might not be rational because trusting that the future is going to be better is highly dependent on past experiences by the child. A promise of a better future is going to be harder to fulfil to a child in a lower class than a higher one.


HOW THIS CHANGED ME

In light of these reflections, I want to be less judgemental. I'm a tutor and I face students who don't want to study all the time. Not too long ago, I have a tendency to judge students who are less gritty as having less motivation to do well and thus, a predictor of future failure. I mean it's so easy to blame it on grit and wash my responsibility off because I don't have to do more work for students who are gritty. The truth is a lot more complicated than this. Judge less.

I think being a parent made me a much more empathetic person. I can imagine all the good and bad students as being an innocent baby once. No matter what I do, at the end of the day, show compassion and show love. Long after the incident, that might be all that they remember of your interaction with them.

I also want to stop using grit, because it's so cringe-worthy. It's like the word 'passive income'- everytime someone uses that, my soul dies a little. There's a lot of negative connotation in using the word 'grit', so I'll stop using it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Analyzing an Aphorism

Have you seen this quote before?




On my social media feeds, I've been fed this quote a couple of times this week. The first time I read it, it seems pretty logical. In fact that's the thing I told my wife too when she goes on some bulk purchase to save a couple of dollars. The second time I've seen it, I had a nagging feeling that something isn't quite right. So I went to think and analyse deeper into this statement.

Firstly, what is savings? Savings is what's left of your income after spending. Mathematically, the formula is:

Savings = Income - Expenses

Let's just put a number to these items in order to illustrate the situation better. Let's assume the following:

A) Income = $3000
B) Expenses = $2000
C) Savings = $3000 - $2000 = $1000

The above illustrates the base situation where we did not make the purchases. In our base scenario, our savings is $1000.

Let's analyse 3 possible cases:

1) Discretionary purchases (things you can do without)

For frivolous and discretionary purchases, we usually compare against the case of not buying it vs buying it. Why? Because we can well do without it. If you spend $750, your expenses increases by $2750, so your savings becomes $3000 - $2750 = $250. Between not buying and having a savings of $1000, vs buying and having a savings of $250, you save lesser by $750.



2) Non-discretionary purchases (things you can't do without)

For non discretionary purchases, we usually compare against the case of buying the item at non-discounted price vs buying at discounted price. If u buy at a non-discounted price of $1000, your expenses increases to $3000. Hence your savings becomes $3000 - $3000 = 0. If you buy at a discounted price of $750, your savings becomes $250. Since it's an item that you have to buy anyway, you save $250 if you buy at this discounted price. Notice that we do not compare against the case of not buying it and having a savings of $1000, because it is a purchase that we must make.



3) Investments (things you buy that increases your income)

For purchases that increases your income, the spending of $750 may result in a rise in future income. If your future income increases by more than the amount spent, you save more even after the purchase. If future income increases less than the amount spent, then net net there will be less savings. So, it depends on the investment returns to see if we save more or we save less or we don't save at all.




It's not so simple now, isn't it? As with all aphorism, the simple statement works as a good soundbite - catchy, memorable and impressive. But it simplifies the truth of the matter too much. There's a lot of details that need to be mentioned.


We can put this analysis to the test by analysing the purchase of a car. If a car is a discretionary purchase, the fall in COE has nothing to do with you. Having the cost of the car dropping from 100k to 80k still means that you have to spend 80k. However, if a car is a decision you are going to make anyway, a drop in the cost of the car is great for you. Now you can make the car purchase at a cheaper price, resulting in a net savings of 20k. Finally, if your car can make you earn more income because it extends your range and reach and allows you to save time and energy, it doesn't mean you should commit to the purchase immediately. The next step is to see if the potential increase in income is worth more than the purchase. Frankly, it need not even be just the increase in income, because we could be looking at other intangible stuff that we cannot put a money value to it. If after weighing all the good against the total cost of the car, and you think it's worth it, then we can go on and make the purchase.


Next time when someone says buying something is not a good purchase, you'll have to ask yourself first : out of the 3 scenarios, which one fits your situation the best?

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Learning new things for fun

In the last week or so, I've been learning programming. I've done programming in the past using an ancient computing language typically used in old ancient physics or engineering lab (Fortran, if you must know) back in my university days. This time, it's a new age computing language called Python.

I've never been so excited about learning new things for a long while. One fine day, I just decided I wanted to continue my coding journey, so I just picked a language and started reading about it. I downloaded the python software (free) and started working on it. The time that I usually spent playing games is now replaced with learning and playing with Python.

The very first thing that I did is to code this algorithm I came up with 3 yrs ago here. I've been thinking about this problem for quite a long while (easily 6 to 8 yrs), but chanced upon the most efficient way to mathematically describe the problem 3 yrs ago while teaching some new subjects to a new student. Once I know the math behind it, the next logical step is to code it in this new language.

Next, I tried to code this problem that I knew will be somewhat challenging to me at my current skill level. I want the user to key in the birth month and date, then the program will be able to give the appropriate astrological signs (e.g. Taurus, Aquarius, Libra etc). I like the challenge of transforming a simple idea into something concrete and I was definitely in the flow yesterday as I came up with the process. 3 hrs flew by and I didn't even notice!




A few interesting insight:

1) This is the first few times I do something first before knowing something. What do I mean? I have an objective in mind. I just try coding it immediately. I fail because there are some things I don't know. Then I'll read up and search around, and try again until I succeed. This problem-based learning makes it frustrating but it's this frustration that the thing is nearly within your grasp that pushes you to dig a little deeper. This exponentially increases the way I pick up and retain new knowledge. This iterative process is usually not the way I learn something.

2) I didn't learn this for work purposes, nor for some certification. I did this purely for fun. I'm actually dreaming up interesting projects every now and then, and try seeing if I can succeed. Actually I'm not so interested in the actual coding part, but more about how to come up with the algorithm of doing things. Might be useful in life, but hey, I'm having fun, and that's the most important!

3) A student asked innocently if I teach coding. Hmm, maybe this might turn out to be a money making hobby after all. Totally unexpected and I definitely didn't plan it this way, so it's quite a bonus for me if I did make some income out of it.

4) How come I didn't sign up for those courses at Udemy or skillsfuture? I don't know. I am 'iron-teeth' (colloquial slang for stubborn) perhaps, wanting to do things my own way. I just got a textbook and jumped straight in. I think structured courses makes life easier, but I prefer charging up the hill. The learning is more robust, more practical to my needs and also more open ended. It's important for me to feel like a total newbie trying to master a new skill, based on my own effort. Puts me deep in the seat of a beginner, and so I can understand the difficulties of learning new things. As a tutor, it's important for me to experience being a beginner every now and then. This will put me in the right perspective when I'm teaching.

5) I'm definitely playing. How do I know this? I didn't just code it, I played with the code. I tried ways to make it more efficient, or set my own limiting constraints. Basically I don't just want to see a program done, I want to keep working on it until it's no longer fun. If I just want to get it done, I'll have paid a small sum and used fiver or other freelancing work to outsource it to an expert.


With the internet and google plus youtube, all the information in the world is out there waiting for an interested student to read it and learn.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The key to unlock doors

Today, my wife and I went to grocery shopping. We're looking for a pack of Origins Organic hulled millet that my son is eating as a porridge daily. It's running out and we desperately needed a packet to refill it up. It probably didn't help that it was about to rain heavily and I only have about 30 mins turnaround time to get back home because a student is coming for lessons. In other words, I'm looking for a grab and go situation, not really in the mindset for shopping around.

Not my wife.

I went to the usual shelf where the millet is, but it was empty. I searched around neighboring shelves to see whether there are any hidden packs, but I couldn't find any. I thought that it's time to go back empty handed now, and I'm all ready to give up and go home.

Not my wife.

She saw a employee packing some stuff at a nearby shelf, with several large carton of unpacked boxes on a trolley near her. My wife went ahead to ask her if there's any more stock left for the hulled millet. She said it's still in the process of packing. Right now, most people would have left there and then and accepted the fact that nobody is going to buy any hulled millet today.

Not my wife.

She asked if she can help her unpack the cartons containing the hulled millets. And we started partly opening each carton on the trolley to see if they contain the stuff we wanted. If not, we pack it up and move it to another spot, and repeat the process. To an oblivious observer, it seems like we're actually packing the store. Eventually after moving like 5 to 6 big cartons, we managed to find the exact carton with the hulled millet. I think in the process of helping ourselves, we also helped the auntie just a little to unpack the super heavy cartons off the trolley.




This is one of the lessons I'm trying to learn after coming out of school, that there's no definite yes and no and everything is negotiable. Life is not an MCQ (multiple choice question) where there is only one answer in the marking scheme. Human relations is the key to unlock a lot of locked doors out in the real world. Apparently, I needed a revision course on this particular lesson.

Not my wife.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Evolution of worry

Before my kid is born, I am worried about whether he will have genetic faults. The worry is real so both of us went to do some checkup to see if we have any hereditary illness that might be passed down to the next generation.

Then when he is born, I'm worried about whether his hearing is alright. He initially failed the test, but was okay after a second try the following day. When he is still crawling, I worry about whether he can walk. When he starts walking, I worry about when he will start talking.

Basically the worry is always there, just that the thing I worry about changes. That itself is a good thing because the nature of my worry evolves as we grow and mature. It'll be a problem if we keep worrying about the same thing over and over again, because that will mean that we never grow bigger and thus our problems remain the same.

It's interesting being a parent to a growing kid, because you start to see things from its very basic form, evolving to become more complex, and I hope that in the future, it'll become simpler again. A to B and back to A, isn't that back to square one? Isn't that a waste of time? No, I believe the journey itself is the point, not the end point.

My student is sitting for his common test these few days. He worries about whether he will complete the exam on time. But not too long ago, he was worrying about whether he will even pass his O'lvls. I reminded him of it, and he smiled. I also smiled. At the same time, I worry about whether my income can feed the family. Maybe in the future when my health deteriorate, I will worry about whether I can still see my family in the next hour.




While I worry about when my son will start calling me 'papa', I think back about the time when my biggest concern is whether he will be born healthy. All in due time.

And I smile.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

MyRepublic's Uno plan speed testing

Towards the end of May, I switched my mobile plan from a sim only plan from M1 @ $25 per month to MyRepublic's Uno plan @ $8 per month. This plan suits me to a T, because I don't like having a lot of excess data since I only use only 1 Gb per month working at home. I love the free caller id and best of all, there's this thing called boundless data. The plan gives me 1 Gb but if I exceeded 1 Gb of data in that month, I won't be charged for it. Instead, they will throttle the data speed so that you can do the bare minimum of things. If you want a speed that you don't have to rage, then you just need to top up the data and pay more.



The full details of the plan are as follows:

MyRepublic Uno plan 
 - 1Gb data
 - 1000 min talktime and 1000 sms
 - boundless data (throttled speed after 1 Gb)
 - free caller id
 - free incoming calls and sms
 - No contract

The main aim of this article is to highlight the throttled data speed after exceeding the allocated 1 Gb. Does the throttled speed allow you to do the basic stuff like checking email, surf, call (using data) and youtube?

These are the test parameters:

1) I stay in the east, specifically Bedok/Tanah merah area. I work at home and occasionally I'll travel also around the east side. It matters because MyRepublic is under Starhub, so the coverage for different areas will be different.

2) I'm using Android phone, Xiaomi Mi5 and my app for the speed test is Speedcheck Pro.

3) I tested the speed at various timing throughout the day during working hours. No early morning or midnight tests. Also the places where I tested is not crowded with people.

4) I did not do any speed test at any mrt lines while travelling

I'm going to comment on the data speed and quality, email checking, surfing, data calls and also some common apps before and after the throttle.


Here's my data speed before and after the data throttle:


* DL - download speed
* UL - upload speed

I did 6 sets of speedtest before my 1Gb limit is up, and another 6 sets after my 1Gb limit is up. Test parameters of the test had been described above already. You can see that before the throttle, the average download speed is 33.6 Mbps and the upload speed is 9.45 Mbps. After my data limit is hit, the download and upload speed of my data is throttled to 0.23 Mbps and 0 Mbps respectively. In fact, the speed test is interrupted by intermittent connection, especially during the upload part. Can't blame it...each test sends takes 100 Mb of data.


According to the speedcheck pro app that I'm using, they mentioned a rough guide on what is considered laggy and good speed (DL/UL) for different uses. These are screenshot as follows:

Email:


Browsing:


Streaming:


Video chat:


Gaming:



Based on the above guidelines, my usage experience before throttle gives me this:

Email: green
Browsing: yellow
Streaming: green
Video chat: yellow
Gaming: yellow

And after throttling:

Email: red
Browsing: red
Streaming: red
Video chat: red
Gaming: red

Wow..is it so bad after my 1Gb limit is reached? I tried emailing myself using a small attachment of about 200kb and felt no difference. Maybe it's a bit laggier, but I wouldn't know much because I don't have a lot of experiences sending email with attachment using my mobile phones. But normal email experience is perfectly fine. While the rating for email is red, I will say it's still usable. Just don't attempt to attach big files to your email and it should be fine.

Browsing feels appreciably laggier. I have to wait for the entire site to load and you can see parts of the site being loaded while others are still waiting. Pictures takes forever to load. I mean I can finish the entire text and still the pictures are still loading. I think browsing experience really deserves a red rating. Don't do serious browsing here, or you'll go crazy and start pulling your hair.

Streaming is a mixed bag. Netflix recommended at least 0.5 Mbps download speed, and we don't have that kind of speed after throttling. I tried to watch Netflix and the "loading...." screen seems to be there all the time. I gave up after a while. As for youtube, you can still continue watching. I find that the best experience for me is to watch it at 240p. Anything higher will have to be continuously interrupted by the loading every 10 s or so. I think 360p is also okay, but you might have to wait a while longer for the loading to be done in ahead before you actually view it. I'm actually surprised I can watch a you tube video after throttling.

Facebook work fine, until you start clicking on the video or the comments. It'll take a little longer than usual to load but it'll work. It's not as irritating as browsing though, so I feel it's still acceptable. Whatsapp messaging feels as normal and I tried the data call from whatsapp too. To me it's okay, and not especially lagging (data call are already laggy). But why would anyone want to data call when there are 1000 mins from voice call? I didn't switch on the face mode though, so perhaps there might be a suitable lag with the data throttle.

I don't game online with my handphone, so I've no comments on that.

Someone did a speed test before and after throttle too and got about the same result as me. The post is linked here. He practically got the same numbers as me, with the download/upload speed as 0.25 Mbps / 0.08 Mbps, so altogether we have 2 sets of independent study on the data throttling by MyRepublic after hitting the data limit of 1 Gb on the Uno plan.

As a side note, I really love their app. At a glance, I can see how much data I have, the number of sms and min of voice call left. If needed, you can top up and get instant data boost. This is one of the most friendly app I've used. I've used starhub and M1, but not circle line. But I suspect these days the telcos are really ramping up on their app to boost user experience.



I especially like it that the app have a date and time to tell me when the next reset is. There are many times when I have to check my contract and guess when the reset is when I'm with starhub and M1. Their app is just not that intuitive. This app even give me the exact time of the reset.


Verdict:

What's not to like about this? As I said, this plan fits me to a T. I understand that there are people who uses more than 1 Gb and this will not be a good fit. As for me, I'm smiling broadly because I save about $200 per year off my handphone bill.


Update 1: 21st Jun 2018 2pm

I just got wind of the fact that 3-4 hrs after I posted this article, MyRepublic no longer have this plan. Now they have 3 plans with the cheapest at $35/mth. Thankfully I didn't wait longer, otherwise I will regret for the rest of my life! Haha, I exaggerate, but yeah...

Update 2: 21st Jun 2018 5pm

A bigscribe member told me that the Uno plan is still available.
1) Go to : https://mobile.myrepublic.com.sg/plans/promotions
2) Go check out forum to see the promo code to get the Friends Of MyRepublic
3) Sign up Uno plan for $8/mth

But better hurry, not sure when they will really stop the plan once and for all.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Easier to be a good dad than a good mum

When I go out, I always see wives scolding or complaining that their husbands are doing a super bad job taking care of kids. The husband literally just stand there and suck it up while their furious wife is pouring out all her troubles in public. I ever asked my wife if she'll do that to me in the future, and she asked if I'll do that to her instead.

The truth is that it's easy to be a good dad. In fact, it's easier to be a good dad compared to a good mum. The standard of a good dad to hurdle over is way way lower than that of a good mum. I mean a dad just needs to do a little housework, maybe cook a little, wake up at night perhaps once a week and change the diapers once in a month, and he'll be hailed as a national hero to be lauded with praises. "He's a good catch!", says random friends and relatives.




But the mum, despite having to work, look pretty, do housework, cook daily, do night duty almost every day and change the diapers almost every time, will still fall short of expectations. "How come you're still so fat 2 yrs after giving birth?", asked concerned random relatives during family gathering. "How come the baby is waddling in the mud, tsk tsk...the mum is not doing a good job", says observant random passerby.

I see it and I try my best to correct the inequality and unfairness in the whole dynamics. I did my fair share of work, but due to conflict of interest, perhaps only my wife can comment on whether I am really fair and equal in sharing the duties of child caring between ourselves.

To all the fathers who are ticked off by their wives in public, I wish I can help you deflect some of the attention, but you know I can't. The best thing you can do is to step up to the challenge and start being a good dad, by living up to the standard of being a good mum.


Happy Father's day.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Astrea IV private equity Class A-1 bond

Astrea IV is a wholly owned subsidiary of Azalea Asset Management Pte. Ltd, which is indirectly wholly owned by Temasek Holdings. They are issuing bonds from their private equity funds, so this marks the first time we have a retail bond linked to companies that are not publicly listed and thus not accessible to the general non-accredited retail investors like you and me. Wholly shit.


BOND DETAILS

Name: Class A-1 Bonds 10NC5

Interest: 4.35% pa, semi annual payment. If not redeemed after 5 yrs on Jun 2023, will step up to 5.35% pa

Maturity: 10 yrs, on 14th Jun 2028 with scheduled call date on 14th Jun 2023. "Scheduled" is not "optional". If there is sufficient cash set aside for the class A bond to be redeemed, it must be redeemed. It's not an option. 

Application for IPO: Min $2k, with integral multiples of $1k thereafter

Period of application for IPO: 6th Jun 2018 9am to 12 Jun 2018 12 pm

Rating: Expected to be rated Asf by Fitch and A(sf) by S&P

Extra features: There is a bonus redemption premium of an amount not exceeding 0.5% of the principal amount. This means that if the par value if $1.000, the bond might be redeemed at less than or equal to $1.005, if conditions are met. The condition is that the sponsor receives 50% of its total equity (US $313 million) on or before 14th Jun 2023.

You can read more details from the full prospectus here. Product highlight can be found here.


Kyith has a more in depth and detailed write up on this same bond, so if you're into the nitty gritty details, you can check it out here. Kenichi kindly shared this video by Azalea regarding the bonds. Have a look below:



PERSONAL TAKE

1) Firstly, this is not Hyflux. This is a rated A bond by the rating agency. While I don't give a shit what they say about the bond, ultimately a rated A bond is still better than an unrated bond because the financials support it.

2) Putting money into a bond is lending money to others, who are likely going to take the borrowed funds and invest at a higher returns while giving you a lower interest. If you're not comfortable lending them at 4.35% while they earn an astronomical returns of 15 to 30% and pocketing all the difference, then don't lend. The risk profile of investing in private equity fund directly and lending money to private equity fund in the form of bonds are totally different. While it's true that private equity investors have higher upside, they have a greater downside as well.

3) After IPO, the bonds is going to be transacted in the open market at SGX on 18th Jun 9am. If you're not going to hold until they redeem back, you can sell it off at the market price. The market price is just what the name suggests - it can be higher or lower than the capital you put in, and you still have to include commissions. If you hold until maturity at the 5 yr or 10 yr mark, then you'll get back all your principal, and perhaps plus a little more because of the bonus redemption premium.

4) The interest rate is going up now, so in the event of a huge rise in interest over the next 5 yrs or so, the market price of the bond might go lower. If you can't hold for the entire duration of the bond until they redeem it, you might have to suffer a capital loss. But if you hold till redemption, it'll be redeemed at the principal value, minimally. In other words, it's capital guaranteed upon maturity.

5) Since the interest rate is going up, there might be more enticing bond than this in the future. I wouldn't put my whole warchest into here. A suitable allocation here should be fine. I'll be applying for this. Initially I wanted to put in some new funds from my parent's retirement fund into here, but I think I'm having second thoughts.