Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jusco Tebrau at Weekday

No feeling of 'rushed' when cross over to JB, the feeling of extra spaces is welcoming unlike S'pore malls which are crowded even on normal weekdays.

My 1st trip to Jusco Tebrau not far from JB central. Upon exiting Iskandar immigration complex, walk down the stairs/escalator at JB Sentral(on leftside just after bridge connecting the 2 complexes). Buses going towards Kota Tingi, Ulu Tiram pass by this mall & usually the bus sign will indicate Jusco Tebrau.

I don't quite exactly know where to align so i just sat behind the driver & told him to inform me when is time to align. Below is the bus-stop to align. If i recall is Tesco->overhead bridge(press bell)->bus-stop.

Above pic show the dirt path to walk up to cross the road to reach Jusco Tebrau.

Continue walking the dirt path & up the stairs to the ground level carpark.

When stepped into Jusco Tebrau building at around 11:15am this is how 'airy' & spacious it is unlike the swarmed malls in S'pore.

Interior views of the mall. No congestion. No suffocating feeling of throngs of consumers rushing about consuming. Is a pleasant experience throughout the afternoon.

Still yearning for more? Tesco is nearby in which groceries are generally cheaper than Jusco. To get to Tesco just exit from beside ESPRIT, turn right & walk down the ramp. You'll see Tesco on the other side of the road. There's even less people at Tesco. Not many shops at the smaller Tesco complex though.

Returning home is simple. Just get to the bus-stop opposite from where you aligned by following the dirt path leading to the overhead bridge in front of both bus-stops. Any bus with sign BandarJB is heading towards JB center. During the late afternoon there are people boarding the 1st bus that stop & i just followed them & boarded upon seeing the bandar destination sign on the bus.

Is a recommended quick daytrip getaway especially for those who got day offs on weekdays- a large mall where you don't feel squeezed. Is sort of a compensation for working in retail sector on hectic weekends serving locusts swarms of consumers. Don't waste your $$ on wasteful stuff that end up cluttering your home by giving in to too many temptations in a mall environment though.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Addiction to Mobile Phones

I wrote about the danger of being a slave to a tech gadget that is suppose to make our lives easier not long ago. Is good to disconnect ourselves from the phone occasionally & get off the 'grid'. New study just came out with the following results:

Summary points from Sleep with your iPhone? U are not Alone:

  • growing obsession among people who would much rather interact with their smartphones than with other human beings.

  • pretend to talk on the phone or fiddle with apps to avoid eye contact or other interactions at a bar or a party.

  • students separated from their phones were under-stimulated & lacked the ability to entertain themselves.

  • anxious feeling of missing something has caused some to slumber next to their smartphones.

  • For others, being away from their phone will almost certainly cause separation anxiety.
On the part of losing the phone & losing the contacts as a result, what i do is i have a softcopy on excel format on my pc which is backed up occasionally from time to time. Too many contacts on address book? Why not cull it? I delete off people whom i have hardly any contact. Less is more. Quality over quantity.

Monday, July 25, 2011

China's Ghost Cities -Sign of a Bubble Waiting to Burst

China's obsession with maintaining economic growth. 1 way of achieving that is infrastructure projects that are grossly underutilized (eg. costly housing which masses can't afford).

Key points from video clip:
- A property bubble that would make the one in the US pale by comparison- 64 million empty apartments in China.
- Is not the quantity of gdp that matters, is the quality.
- Budget housing as part of basic human rights.
- Polarisation continues & is a big worry- conflicts in soceity is inevitable if social division is too big (poor people revolting)

Watching the video i can't help but relate to situation in S'pore. Incumbent party is also obssessed with gdp growth at all cost- grow like cancer also good as long as can grow can already. Heavy influx of people into the country in bid to boost gdp- more consumers to consume stuff & speculators driving up prices.

Both Deng Xiaoping & Dr Mahathir(ex Msia PM) warned about social unrest if the gini coefficient is too big. S'pore's gini is already among the top 3 worse in the world. It still look peaceful on the surface but i wonder if this is just the peace before the storm.

Once the property bubble burst whether it be in China or S'pore, masses of people are going to be impoverish.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bandana/Head Scarf for Cycling

Bought 5 pieces of multi scarf for my friend & i & only 4 arrived. Is my 2nd purchase from a retailer on gmarket. I'll forget about chasing about the missing piece, another time & i'll complain even if is a small purchase. At offer price of 70c each is value for $. Shipping is $2.50 for up to 5 pieces so each piece is $1.20 inclusive of shipping. I bought it to wear as sweat absorption to make the cushion on the new helmet last longer since replacement cushion pads are costly & not always available.

Other use i can find is to act as a towel(light & smaller) for use in budget accomodation overseas where towel is not provided for shower.

These scarfs are also known as buffs which i've come across in bicycle shops & saf emarts which retails much much higher. Is apparent the markup is atrocious which put me off. Why buy from brick & mortar sources & get ripped off when you can buy this multi-scarf at a value price at gmarket?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Education System Churning Out Many Mindless Automatons

Was clearing a drawer & came across a newspaper cutting i kept from years ago(at least 3 years). From the issues pointed out few years ago till today, the problem still largely remains. Education system is perhaps the slowest to change according to Robert Kiyosaki. Its main purpose is not so much to educate but to churn out mindless automatons who follows orders without question on the 'factory conveyor belt'

My previous supervisors find me hard to manage cause i have a tendency to question the status quo. They prefer yes-men/women who are 'team players' who just simple follow orders without question. Mindless automatons following orders are given a better grade during appraisal while me being seen as a 'troublemaker' is given a mediocre one. Perhaps is a way to push someone to leave.

Great contributors like Albert Einstein & Thomas Edison would be severely punished under a rigid system like S'pore's since they are not paying attention to boring stuff during class. Memorising such boring stuff is like eating dog shit to many who are not attuned to the traditional academic path.

How is it fair that a young person's fate is often decided primarily by answering a few pieces of paper in a 2hour period? Does one choose a spouse & decide on one's happiness after a 2 hour speeddating session? Both are ridiculous.

Awesome video summary:

Our Smart Students Not Willing to Think Critically
I find it ironic that after decades of praising the education system for producing students who are adept at memorising formulas, a skill that has enabled them to be world beaters in international maths & science competitions, the government now wants youths who are able to express their opinions about what sort of S'pore they want to build.

Unfortunately, as in the case of the bilingual policy, we cannot have your cake & eat it, a fact that has taken the government some time to figure out.

The more we reward students for their ability to memorise model answers, the less willing students will be to use their critical minds. Why should they risk getting low grades by expressing critical, unorthodox views when it is so easy for them to just be spoon-fed by their teachers?

In his article "Lost generation or future leaders: Our call", Mr Verghese Matthews questions whether figures of authority have instilled in young people the critical spirit & the moral courage to use it for the good of society.

He is optimistic that there is hope yet for S'pore's future: "I'm confident that there are many young critical thinkers in our society who are testing the waters."

I applaud Mr Matthews' attempt to bring into public discussion the question of whether enough is being done to encourage critical thinking among S'porean youths but alas his article has come 2 decades too late for my generation.

Having gone to a top secondary school & junior college & now doing my undergraduate studies at a local university i can safety say that there is an appalling lack of passionate, critical thinkers, even among the intellectual elite of S'pore's youth.

It is not that my generation does not have smart people with critical thinking skills. The problem is that too many of my peers lack the moral courage to speak out after going through an education system that rewards conformity & punishes originality.

We have become a nation of sheep, too afraid to challenge the authority of our herders. Few wolves left among us who do challenge the status quo run the risk of being labelled as anarchists & troublemakers.

It is no wonder that many have become so jaded that they no longer feel it worth their while to carry on expressing their views, choosing instead to either remain quiet or to head for greener pastures elsewhere, in which case they run the risk of being labelled as 'quitters'.

In both cases, thw ultimate loser is S'pore, for conformity results in stagnation while 'invention is always born of dissension', as the French philosopher Jean Francois Lyotard so rightly pointed out.

In 1784, the great german philoshoper Immanuel Kant wrote his famous essay 'What is Enlightment? in which he appealed to his countrymen to have the courage & resolution to use their own reasoning skills instead of blindly depending on the authority of so-called experts. More than 2 centuries on & in a country far away from his beloved Prussia, his emotional appeal still remains relevant.

Sadly, the works of Kant seldom take pride of place on the bookselves of many of our policy-makers, who would much rather fill their shelves with more 'practical' books such as those by economist John Maynard Keynes.

The price S'pore is paying for their narrow reading habits is an entire generation of lost sheep: My generation.

Jamie Han Li Chou

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tagline that's Useless - Rodalink example

Rodalink's tagline to get people to patronise & buy from them is 'Just Ride with Us'. Do people go into their stores & buy stuff just because they want to ride with Rodalink?

I bought my bicycle, floor pump & hand pump is not because i want to ride with Rodalink. It has been proven time & time again in forum messages that people find certain merchandise there value for $(esp their Polygon bikes).

In an attempt to stand out from the competition, a tagline that says a useless phrase is as good as nothing. Is obvious the person who decided on this tagline has forgotten about the favorite channel that people often tune into which is 'What's in it for me?. Basic common sense - no marketing degree needed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cao Cao-Learning from Defeat & Being Complacent

In first 3mins of this clip from the new drama, Cao Cao conducts a rally to his demoralised troops & generals after his narrow escape from Chibi. I don't remember such a rally in the old 90s drama series. How does this relate to the education system in S'pore? In schools we are taught to avoid making mistakes. Making mistakes make one look stupid & as we can see from our politicians' mistakes hardly any acknowledge their mistakes like Cao Cao. Afterall many are scholars...

Nevertheless i've watched a few clips here & there from this 2010 drama & find the following Pros & Cons of this newer series:

- better battle scenes
- better equipment
- better scenery
- better palace interiors

- Many actors portraying the characters still lose out to old series
- Parts like Jiang Wei's defection & Xiahou Mao's battle scenes are omitted

Overall i still prefer the older series due to the actors appearances being more alike to the novel.

Monday, July 18, 2011

What Lies on Brand Are U Telling Yourself?

Stumbled upon a thread in forum about furniture maker Da Vinci accused of faking country of origin. I find the markups darn absurb just for the brand & there are still foolish people buying products primarily for the brand. 'Price is what you pay, value is what you get' by Warren Buffett succinctly sums it up.

Those foolish buyers ought to ask themselves if they have bought into the lies the maker of a product project about its brand. On the bicycle scene in S'pore there have been comments about Trek being overpriced & people are paying premiums for the brand. Other commodity products like Finishline lube sells for $11 there while Rodalink sells it at $9. Money is certainly not wasted in such a way on commodity products & mainly for brand name.

Do you heavily depend on brand for using a product? For example, does riding a Trek bicycle make one a much better cyclist? Does using a Yonex badminton racquet make one's racquet skills better than other equal quality but lesser name brands(perceived by others)?

Another quote i like is 'We buy things we don't need, with money we don't have, just to impress people we don't know'. Relying on branding by external products as a primary way to impress people is shallow & fleeting. What about that person's internal attributes such as integrity?

Da Vinci accused of falsifying origin of furniture
Shanghai investigators have said Singapore luxury furniture retailer Da Vinci deceived its customers about the origin of its products.

Local media had reported that the company's furniture was made in China, and not in Italy as claimed.

Preliminary investigations by Shanghai's Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau showed that for the first half of this year, nearly 10% of Da Vinci's so-called "imported goods" were actually made in China.

They were made in Chinese factories, exported to a logistics park, then re-imported on the same day to its warehouse in Shanghai.

Customers have been turning up at Da Vinci's flagship store in Shanghai for refunds. Many of them had paid 5- or even 6-figure sums for the furniture. But none of the products had the label "Made in China".

The Shanghai Consumer Protection committee said this amounts to deceiving customers. It planned to get Da Vinci to offer full refunds.

Customer Wang Jun said: "I bought it for the brand(how foolish). But with all the controversy these few days, I don't trust it anymore. Regardless of whether it is really manufactured in Italy, I don't feel like buying it anymore."

Mr Qi, another Da Vinci customer, said: "We bought a sofa set at 450,000 renminbi (US$70,000). We'll be more careful when buying furniture in future and not buy it just because it is expensive, it also has to be right."

A Da Vinci's spokesman would not comment on whether furniture purchased a while ago can be returned and refunded.

Daisy Wu, a marketing supervisor at Da Vinci Shanghai, said: "We will offer due compensation in accordance to the country's legal regulations."

When asked what documents a customer needs to produce for a refund, she said: "Whatever documents as stipulated in the law."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

46km to Woodlands Park Connector Loop Night Exploration

Done a 46km ride. Main interest is the Woodlands Park Connector loop along SLE that loops back to Woodlands. Very exposed route during the day as there's little shade. Is the first night ride that rained since i began riding with a Fri night group. Reach start point & started to rain when about to ride off after 15mins. Waited 75mins for the rain to stop. Had more prolonged extra pitstops along the way due to rain.

Rode up via Bkt Batok. Southern Woodlands PCN 1st(anti-clockwise)

I got impatient from the wait & was wondering how come i got 'time starved & do something' voices in my head instead of just do nothing & watch the rain. Doing nothing ain't easy in S'pore where people are conditioned to speed-walk fast, walk up escalator(escalator not fast enough!) etc.

During weekends where parks get crowded the relax feeling is gone to a large extent. Worst is probably east coast park. Riding there while swerving to avoid people & other riders & skaters kills the mood for a relax ride.

I find it hard to strike up a conversation with other riders as the topic mainly revolves around upgrading bicycle parts. I'm more keen on growing my $$ & my entry level roadbike is for commuting purposes hence mindset is different from them. For commuting uses, we don't like to upgrade parts & tend to keep addons to a minimal mainly due to scare of theft(after having 1 stolen which is darn heartpain).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Is Not Power that Corrupts but Fear of Losing Power

How often have we heard the phrase "Power tends to corrupt & absolute power corrupts absolutely"? Do we believe it as if it's the truth without pondering over it since it is repeated so many times?

More appropriate description that enlighten me is by a myanmese democracy activist:

"Is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it"-Aung San Suu Kyi
Similarly the lack of money is not the root of all evil as we commonly heard. Is lack of money. Likewise power in itself is neutral. Is how it is used whether is for greater good or sinister motives.

Is amazing how her definition rhymes with big corporations behavior. Big corporations once big are mostly fear based organizations that fear change & hence resist reforms in normal times until forced to by outside circumstances.

Current ruling party(big corporations as well) of S'pore is no exception in its behavior. Mainly populated with "yes man/women" in its ranks & view every change as a threat to its survival instead of opportunity. Many of its policies in the last decade tilt towards self-preservation of the party(fear) than for the greater good of S'poreans.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Change Gear

Was reading Billi Lim's Dare to Fail book & came across changing of gears which instantly remind me of bicycle gears since i'm an avid rider myself.
"Many of us are so stereotyped in the kinds of careers or skills that we are brought up with. A doctor gives rise to a Dr's son. A lot of people started as accountant & die as an accountant. Others started as secretary & die as a secretary. They don't seem to be able to 'change gear' even though they are unhappy & can't get what they want from that profession." -Billi Lim
There's an article by the State Times about how S'pore workers are the world's unhappiest. With so many of our countrymen loathing what they do as a profession in their waking hours i'm puzzle when people meetup for 1st time & the usual question is 'what do you do?' A fake smile accompanying their answer? A job title that identifies who they are even though they dislike it?

We know is almost impossible to ride up a lengthly moderate to steep slope on the biggest chainring. Neither can we ride fast on the smallest chainring. However this is precisely what many are doing as in suffering through the job mismatch.

School's primary function is to churn out cogs for the economy. It doesn't teach us about happiness, relationships or how to make $$ on our own. Is up to individuals to find out which unfortunately many don't once they are caught up in the hectic ratrace.

Singapore workers ‘world’s unhappiest’
Survey of 14 countries finds local employees are also the least loyal
By Melissa Ho, May 30 2011

HATE your work? Dread going in on Monday? Considering quitting your job?

Well, you are not alone. Most of the Singapore workforce is with you, according to one survey.

A poll of employee attitudes in 14 countries has ranked Singapore last in workplace happiness. Unsurprisingly, this correlates to loyalty to employers, where Singapore is again ranked at the rear.

Talent management company Lumesse polled about 4,000 employees from a wide variety of industries.

People were asked about how happy they were at work, whether they felt their skills were properly utilised, the career paths open to them, and the training and career development opportunities they had.

The results put Singapore last in three major areas – we least enjoy going to work, are the least loyal & have the least supportive workplaces.

Only 17% of Singapore’s workforce see themselves staying with their current employer forever. The global average is 35%.

‘Clearly, very few employees feel bonded to their companies. This is going to be a problem as companies are not getting the full potential of workers,’ said Mr Rolf Bezemer, Lumesse’s managing director for Singapore, Malaysia & Australia.

At the same time, only 19% of those polled in Singapore look forward to their work each day, compared to the global average of 30%.

When it comes to positive and supportive workplaces, only a paltry 12% vouch that they exist in Singapore. Globally, 20% believe so.

Mr Bezemer attributes Singapore’s poor showing to the lack of transparency & consistency in workplaces here & an absence of stimulating jobs.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Arm Sleeves at S$1.90 (cycling, other sports)

White & light blue arm sleeves

Bought arm sleeves to protect against sunburn after being charred on cycling trip to Lorong Halus wetland at Punggol. Is the best value for $$ i've come across so far at S$1.90/pair. Best of all, its freesize fit my thin arms. Before knowing of this online retailer i see prices of $10-$40/pair which is plain ridiculous.

Finally some protection to mitigate the fear being charred under the sun for long hours.

Amazing how the skin heals itself given enough time from the sunburn. Isn't it worthwhile to spend $1.90 for a pair of arm sleeves & $2.50 shipping to protect our skin against the scorching sunlight?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ratrace Treadmill - Frickin Tiring

At times when i walk past shops/restaurants in malls where some people are so proud of themselves being consumers. Spend & spend, i wonder if they realised that their retail therapy only last temporarily from the darn tiring ratrace.

Many are stuck in their jobs, frustrated like a square peg in a round hole. Stressed about their ill-fit but sacred of losing their jobs especially those job titles which define their self-worth & who they are. Terrible state of affairs & a vicious cycle.

Even taking leave longer than a week also sacred of losing job since being away for longer than a week somewhat indicate easily replaceable.

Fear, fear & fear. Life in the treadmill...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blue Chip Ain't Blue when U Overpay

I'm wary of local property stocks(bubble condition) & the way Capitaland spends $$ on reconstruction of Jurong Entertainment Mall puts me off. After the initial euphoria which rose up a bit after its IPO in Nov 09 at $2.12, it's been downhill ever since. At latest price of $1.47 it would need to rise 45% just to breakeven.

This is no growth stock but a blue chip thus the likelihood of rising 45% is remote considering we are now in the so call recovery period from the Great Recession.

Blue chip ain't blue when u overpay. I'm no fan of IPOs as the company listing it seeks maximum cash from its listing price. Is like a girl dressing up & with makeup to make a good impression on 1st date. Market is always there, there's no need to hurry & get seduce by the story of the listing company.