Friday, March 31, 2017

The creep of the crib

A warm feeling trickled down the back of his buttocks. He savored the new sensation and smiled. But as his back gets warmer, it didn't feel comfortable anymore, so he wailed. It began as a soft whimper, barely audible, but the cries progressively gets louder, almost like the siren of an emergency vehicle dashing nearer and nearer towards you. Within a minute, he felt manhandled by a pair of hands that is even bigger than his head. The cones and rods inside his eyes are still forming and he couldn't make out distant objects clearly, and yet nobody bothered to prescribe short sighted glasses for him. He only saw a blurry figure lifting him up, whispering a few indecipherable sounds as he got carried off. When he opened his eyes, he found himself in another place. The new sensation stopped his crying immediately as his mind whirred to take in the new sensory information. During this hiatus, he recognized that voice that is constantly whispering at him, and it immediately soothed him down. That same voice that accompanied him all the time while he was still in that warm comfortable darkness where everything was nice and good.

His felt his pants being pulled off, exposing his legs and lower body to the cooling air. Contrasted with the warm and sticky feeling at his buttocks, the whole situation just became even more unbearable for him. He wailed louder and more insistently this time, crying for someone, anyone, to make things whole and good again. He was so agitated that rivulets of tears streaked down his small face, soaking the pillow that his head was resting on. In between sobs, he felt something cool wiping past his buttocks and cleaning him up. Just like the dirt that was cleaned up, that initial discomfort that plagued him was wiped away little by little . Soon, he had long forgotten why his eyes were wet in the first place. Throughout all this ordeal, that soothing motherly voice was speaking to him, comforting him and letting him know that all will be okay. While he didn't understand the words, he giggled because he recognized that familiar voice. He let off a toothless grin and soon he heard a string of single syllable sounds that he will soon know as laughter. He cooed in a feeble attempt to mimic that sound, but of course, he failed, resulting in even more strings of single syllable sounds from the voice.

While he was paying all his attention to the voice, he didn't realize that his legs started to get all warm and cosy again as his pants were being put back on. He was scooped up by the powerful hands but soon he was wailing yet again. This time, it was that groaning feeling in his stomach that strikes every other 2 hours or so. It was agonizing and his entire world was about to crumble. It was so disconcerting that he had to try making that awful feeling go away by sucking on his tiny hands.

But the voice seems to know what is troubling him. He found that his head was being pressed into a warm, round and soft body with a protruding tip. It smells right and feels right. Acting on instincts, his mouth opened and he latched onto that warm body. A warm liquid filled his mouth and he drank it hungrily. After a few mouthfuls, his stomach felt better. He was cuddled close to a warm body while feeding, and the voice continued speaking softly to him, encouraging him. In the background, he could hear a faint 'lup-dup-lup-dup-lup-dup' emanating from the warm body. It was the same sound track, that reassuring organo-techno music that he heard when things were utopic. For that moment in time, everything felt right and proper, just like it was back then in that warm comfortable darkness before he was brought into this world.

With all his needs and wants satisfied, his eyelids relaxed and closed gently. His little hands, initially grasping his mother's clothing for dear life, were now relaxed. His body shuddered as he fell into slumber, as if an off button on a great machine that had been working overnight had been shut down temporarily for maintenance. Except for the soft rise and fall of his chest, his entire body was motionless and he is like a ragdoll - all soft and maneuverable. As his body rested, his mind wandered off to seek new adventures and sensations to experience, occasionally with arms flailing in the air in his baby dreams.

Rest well, my child, there is a lot more adventures waiting for you when you wake up.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Need a financial tribe?

If you want to be financially literate, you should be immersed in an environment where everyone is talking about it constantly. Some wise men did say that if you want to find out the character of a person, you just need to look at 3 of his closest friends. We're the average of the 3 persons we talk to most frequently.

Being in a group of like minded individuals allows you to be completely immersed in an environment that will saturate your mind with the things you want most to learn about. There are times when I was 'addicted' to games and will devour any and every material related to that game, like the faq guides, the hacks and the secret areas. All of it. This saturation of mind allows maximum absorption of new materials and the constant contact of people who are also like that makes everyone more involved due to the shared activities and interaction.

If you don't have such a group formed offline among people you already know, there is a recent Facebook group formed for such a purpose, titled aptly "BIGS World - Build Wealth, Live a Good Life". Some of the prominent financial bloggers are already in, and you can ask questions, share articles and learn from the comments shared among like minded individuals. After joining the group, my facebook feeds are not longer so saturated with watches, hand bags and food pics, but more about those good hard questions and thought provoking articles that we find awkward to talk to others, and that are specially curated by people who are of the same frequency as me.

However, if you're looking for stocks tips, FA write ups or TA stock charts, this group isn't for such posts. In fact, this group is not solely about money. Wealth encompasses a lot more things than just finance, so expect to see more sharing on healthy living and personal growth as an individual. You want to be in a nice community where there are people who are above your level whom you can emulate, people who are of the same level as you but doing better than you, and people who are below your level but are doing things better than you did when you're at that level. It will be hard not to grow as an individual.

If you're looking for people to talk and discuss about personal finances, or just topics about personal growth that you know will be yawn inducing to your peers or colleagues, consider joining BIGS World. This is the closest thing to a community of financially conscious individuals you can get locally.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Living your life in 2 hr block

There was a remake of Battlestar Galactica. It's a sci fi show about how a group of humans was attacked by a race of robots that they had created (it's a long story) called cylons. Only a few ships made it off the planet and they are wandering in deep space being pursued by the cylons. The attacks on the cylons are relentless, because every 33 mins, they will find out the location of the entire fleet and everyone will have to be battle ready. The pilots have to fly out to meet the cylons in space dog fights, while the commanders and staff at the command center will have to coordinate the hyper space jump of the entire fleet so that they can escape.

Cylons from Battlestar Galactica. They are also known affectionately as toasters.

Every 33 mins for the last 150+ hours it's like that. Relentless. Fatigue sets in and they will make a mistake or two, like leaving a ship behind because of the wrong coordinates for the hyper space jump. Or a pilot gets killed in the dog fight. So every 33 mins, after they had successful accounted for all the ships of the fleet, they will reset the timer and prepare for the next cylon attack, taking whatever rest they can afford.

Why do I tell you this sci-fi series? It's because my life is sort of measured in 2 hours block now.

My baby 'cylon' needs to be 'fended off' almost every 2 hours like clockwork. Each feeding/diaper change cycle presents different difficulties that throws your routine out. Once he starts wailing, then both me and wife will have to figure out what's wrong. Is it because his diapers are soiled? Is it because he needs to feed? Is it because he needs to be carried? It doesn't matter if it's the day or the night, because the baby 'cylon' will come every 2 hours, rain or shine.

This had been our routine since our confinement lady left about a week ago. While we could certainly do with more sleep, I think we're happily taking it in stride. The philosophy of appreciating all experiences, whether they are good or bad, is important for mental strength and fortitude. I guess for me, that's what being a parent is about. I don't want to know the good times only. I want to go through all the bad times too.

It's a cliche but it's very suitable here - Life's rainbow is made up of rainy and sunny days.

Friday, March 03, 2017

T+30 of being a Father

My baby just reached one month recently. In the midst of the showering, feeding, changing diapers routine, I didn't realize that 30 days had just flew past like that. So, how did a first time father feel after a month?

1. Baby is living in blissful zen

I must have mentioned it before. When a baby eat, he eats. When he shits, he shits. When he is uncomfortable, he'll cry. When comforted, he stops crying. I think we can learn a lot from watching how a baby reacts and responds. They are living so much in the present that they are not haunted by the past nor worried about the future. At least not yet.

2. Whoever said "Sleeps like a baby" obviously haven't seen a baby before

I haven't really taken the full load of taking over the care taking part, but my confinement lady is leaving today. D-day! My wife is a little worried over the night duty part. Rightfully, because she is feeding him from the breast at night, so her sleep is disrupted every 2-3 hours if we're lucky. But I think once our short term help is over, it will be suicidal to depend on my wife just for the night duty feeding. I'll have to feed formula milk and do guard duty lol

3. Pain is inevitable, but it need not come with suffering

In the first few weeks, there are short bouts of anger when I couldn't calm the baby. It had arisen out of frustration and perhaps lack of sleep. I recognized it (thank my 100 days meditation!) at the onset and dispersed it. I think after here is where reading Tools of Titan helped. I remembered reading about Tony Robbin's State -> Story -> Strategy. Essentially, it is this: if you encountered a problem, ask yourself if you had enough sleep and food. Settle the biochemical state of mind first. Then you construct a story. For me, the story is that there is meaning behind the pain and frustration of being unable to calm a baby, or waking up in the middle of the night for feeding duties. All these are bonding time. Besides, the baby won't be in this needy state for long, so enjoy it. This story helps tremendously in coping with everything that seems like a chore when I became a father. Lastly, strategy is just the specific hacks that I can utilize, the practice that I had, and the sharing of good habits and routines from experts like my mother and the confinement lady.

The creep in the crib, the nipple nibbler, sleeping comfortably in my laps

4. To build trust, be vulnerable

A baby is so needy and fragile. It depends on you for everything needed to keep it alive and well, and that is precisely why everyone will treat the baby very well and to take care of it. I'm not talking about psychopaths here, just normal well adjusted adults. Can we also accelerate the process of building trust in relationship? When I meet a new student, usually I'll share some of my own story and vulnerabilities, so that rapport is build up fast. In the past I thought I'm wasting their time because I could have taught them more things. How foolish! I'm teaching a person, not force feeding content down their throats, so the more relationship points we get, the more leverage I can use to change my students and make a difference.

A careless mistake admitted by me when doing a math problem is a better relationship builder than a perfectly executed model solution copied from a pre-prepared sheet. It makes me genuine, and human too, so we can close the gap between us. If I'm perceived as a super teacher who can't make mistakes, then they might see my abilities as being too far and out of reach.

5. Expenses shot up like crazy!

Nah, just kidding. Besides the one off, there really isn't much increase. There is a spike in groceries expenses because of all the milk powder and diapers and nappy rash cream, but it's somewhat offset by zero restaurants trip, almost zero carpark charges and fuel, zero cafes trips and so on. What's the actual expense increment? I'll blog about it once I have a 2-3 month average, as it's a bit premature to see the increment now. But it's at most $500 per month increment, and I think I'm pretty generous about it already. We'll see in due time.

6. Work is a relief from care taking

I think it's important to take our minds off our kids regardless of how much we love them. There is caretaker's fatigue to worry about, so that's something that SAHM (stay at home mums) have to think about. For me, a few hours of work where I concentrate on something else is a very welcome break from the caretaking, no matter how much I love spending time with my son.

Are we also working too hard in our jobs? A month or two of a good break in between jobs can clean up all our pent up frustration and negative energy can be a good thing to revitalize our work. That might be all it takes to change from dragging to skipping yourself to work. Thankfully in my line of work I always have 'in-built' 1-2 months slack time, so no complains there lol

7. To have someone sleeping in your arms is such a wonderful thing

Babies are so manipulative. After making them comfortable, they just sleep in your arms. That feeling is better than having a multi bagger, or a job raise, or a promotion at work. For those absent daddies who are not 'into' kids, do not miss out on little things such as these!

If you're ever angry with someone, remember that they are once babies and cute and lovable too :)

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Comfort delgo : Goodbye or good buy?

This is a guest post from Investingnote. It's regarding Comfort delgro and it's mainly about touch and go FA and other industry news. I had already bought it some days ago and my views can be summarised in two pictures:

Comfortdelgro weekly: bullish weekly divergence

Comfortdelgo daily: break out of down trend line and retracing back to trendline

Can ComfortDelGro(C52) regain its customers of taxi service?

Brief Background of ComfortDelGro: 

ComfortDelGro Corporation Limited is a Singapore-based investment holding and management services company. It operates in eight segments:

1) Bus & bus station
2) Rail
3) Taxi
4) car rental and leasing
5) automotive engineering services
6) inspection and testing service
7) driving centre and
8) insurance broking services and outdoor advertising.

Summary of ComfortDelGro’s recent financial performance: 

The group maintains a steady growth of net profit despite a slight revenue decline caused by unfavourable currency translation this year. With the entrance and fierce competition brought by Uber and Grab, ComfortDelGro’s taxi business succeed to keep growing profitability. The five-year lowest P/E ratio indicates it is undervalued in a greater degree by the market. However, ComfortDelGro’s actions and measures towards issue of diesel tax and further competition are vital.

Recent Event: 10 Feb 2017 ComfortDelGro - Full Yearly Results of 2016 

Key Financial & Operating Highlights:

1. ComfortDelGro group had a steady growth of revenue during the period from 2012 to 2015, but experienced a light drop (1.26%) of revenue in 2016, which is mainly caused by unfavourable foreign currency translation, as the Group revenue should have been increased 1.76% by $72.4m. Stable growth of both operating and net revenue can be observed, but the growth rate has been declined after 2014. Also, the group achieved its highest profit margin in 2016.

2. From the perspective of segments operation (the eight segments can be found in the previous part of Brief Background), in the financial year of 2016, more than half (57%) of the group revenue was contributed from the segment of Public Transport Services Business. One third (33%) of the group revenue was driven by the segment of Taxi business, which is also the most discussed segment in recent years because of the competition from Uber and Grab. Approximate 10% of their revenue came from the Automotive engineering services.

The chart represents revenue of the three largest segments of ComfortDelGro. According to the chart, revenue of taxi business managed to maintain slow growth under the competitive pressure of Uber and Grab, especially after the aggressive expansion of Uber in early 2015. ComfortDelGro stated in their financial report that the revenue growth in the Public Transport Services Business, Taxi business, and the Driving centre business was offset by the decrease at Automotive engineering services business, the Inspection and Testing Services Business, the Car Rental and Leasing Business and the Bus Station Business.

3. Compared to the number of 31 Dec 2015, the group burdened less secured and unsecured borrowings and less payables. Total equity had a growth of 5.96%. Net cash generated from operating activities edged up to $702.5m from $600.2m at the same period of last year. However, the amount of free cash flow has a small slide of 1%. Overall, the group maintained a stable financial and cash flow position.

4. Now the group has a P/E ratio of 16.732, lower than that of the Transport industry (33.267), it is also the lowest number observed during the five-year period since 2012. The Earning per share (EPS) is 14.7 cents, with a dividend yield of 4.187%. (source: here)

ComfortDelGro’s Competition with Uber and Grab:

Are entrants of private-hire car threatening the profitability of taxi business?
After Uber and Grab entered the market, the amount of taxi licences issued was indeed affected by the rivalry.

“There are early signs of taxi weakness”, refer to the full article here.

For ComfortDelGro, the quantity of taxi licences were prone to fall since 2014.

However, the group presented positive numbers in both revenue and operating profit of Taxi segment during the recent years.

Hence, during the competition with Uber and Grab in the taxi industry, ComfortDelGro neither suffer from decreasing profit nor from loss. The possible reason could be that certain amount of consumers choose Uber/Grab because of the attractive coupons/Promo code they can use for car services. However, under the circumstance of urgency, they still prefer taxis as they do not have the time to schedule rides in advance and do not wish to waste time waiting for the Uber drivers. ComfortDelGro has witnessed improvement in service quality since they started the competition with Uber and Grab.

Is the Business of Uber and Grab sustainable?

Uber and Grab have proved their success by conquering the Singapore market and becoming well aware by people within a short period of time, but still, they face various obstacles with their operations.

1. How long can they allure customers by using promo code?

2. Private hire cars obey the Road Traffic Act (RTA) that they cannot carry a passenger who is under 1.35m without a booster seat or a child restraint. Taxi do not required to follow this Act because they are public vehicles. Related news here.

3. Singapore's private car hire business including Uber and Gran need to be licensed according to the amendments to the Road Traffic Act (RTA) after 7 February. Related news here.

4. Private-hire scam deteriorate customer’s trust. Related news here.

New threat: increasing diesel cost and new competitor HDT singapore

The Budget 2017 of Singapore announced the levy of diesel tax of 10 cents per litre, thus increase the operating cost of taxi business. Though taxi operators adopt plans to pass on tax reduction savings to drivers by less rental fee, the actual cost will increase according to research.

“Budget 2017: SMRT, ComfortDelGro to pass on diesel tax savings to taxi drivers”, to see the full article here.

“Diesel tax will add to costs, say cabbies”, refer to the full article here.

The new competitor HDT taxi company expand their customer base quickly and adopt a fixed salaries with benefit plan. Refer to the full article here.

Trans-Cab and Premier Taxi adopt new plans to attract cabbies

The 2 taxi operators introduce surge pricing (dynamic fares) and cut their rental fee to deal with competitions from Uber/Grab. But ComfortDelGro, as well as SMRT taxi, has not disclosed any intention towards the new plan.

Related news: “2 taxi firms plan to Grab hold of more customers”, shared in the post of @FGD, refer to the news here.

“Trans-Cab cuts rental fees in bid to attract cabbies” here.

What's the discussion in our community? 

“Ever-increasing challenges for Uber’s profitability”, shared by @alansmith in the post of

“Cab operators urged to offer driver more job options”, shared by @bgting in the post of :

@yjlim queried the opinion that Uber/Grab threat the business of ComfortDelGro in Taxi business, to see further discussion and share you opinion in the post :

@raynersu held the opinion that ComfortDelGro group did not make enough effort in updating their strategy for the latest market trend but rather stay out-of-fashion, while their peer Taxi operators keep improving and acquiring larger share of market gradually. Refer to more discussion in the post:

Our Key Takeaway: 

ComfortDelGro performed well under the fierce competition with private hire services and new entrants in Taxi business. Under the circumstance that Uber or Grab maintain their operating strategy, ComfortDelGro group has a great chance to gradually gain their customers in Taxi services back. However, facing with declining growth of revenue, ComfortDelGro group has to carry out appropriate measures to deal with rising diesel cost and make greater efforts on cost reduction. Additionally, ComfortDelGro’s movement towards the latest plan promoted by Trans-Cab and Premier Taxi is vital.

For ComfortDelGro, and also for the taxi industry, it is the right time to have an innovation now.

Also check out some estimations: