Monday, April 30, 2007

TAG Paintball

Just had TAG Paintball at Orchid Country Club today - must admit it was superb fun, I really liked running around and shooting at people with the paintballs! Only thing is, some ugly bruises like this!

Basically, it seems like the bullet hit the point in the centre, squeezed all the blood out in the surrounding veins till it burst the vessels, or even burst the skin in its bid to escape.. sigh... Ouch!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Exercise has a placebo effect!!

You know that healthy feeling and weight loss you get from gym? It might not be because you're exercising, but because you think you're exercising. Check this out!

Read: Jennifer Government

I just finished Jennifer Government by Max Barry. This is the author who wrote the Nation States online game as a promotional for his book. I was quite surprised to see this in the National Library, and picked it up out of sudden interest.

The book is written in a more or less spoofy manner - the tone is deliberately over-the-top, and while an entertaining read, does not seem to me to really introduce any new ideas. The premise of the book is (what seems to me to be) a libertariansystem - the Government's role has shrunk to enforcement of the laws protecting persons from violence, and Government itself has become a corporation only able to pursue cases where there is an interested party willing to pay for investigations. Beyond that, the large corporations have generally "taken over" and most people are defined by their employment to a ridiculous degree - Jennifer Government is so named because Jennifer is employed by the Government. And so Hack Nike, Buy Mitsui, Billy NRA are all employed by those corporations.

The problem is, Max Barry takes such a tongue-in-cheek look at the premise that it seems to me that he's making fun of the whole idea rather than placing us in a hypothetical future. In that way, it's quite a lot more like Headcrash (Bethke) than Snow Crash (Stephenson). So it's an entertaining read but no brain activity going on, you know?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

God, Inc

Stumbled across this interesting Youtube sitcom, God, Inc. It's funny!
Love the part where he says "Don't they have a cure for that [leukaemia] yet? ... Oh, that's next year.." to the girl who just died from it...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Warrior Knights

Just bought two games - Warrior Knights and Carcassonne (Big Box Edition). I haven't opened up Carcassone yet but have played online before - it's fun and easy to learn, and I think it runs pretty quickly - the box says it runs in 30+min, which means it'll actually run for about 1 hour on a newbies' run.

Warrior Knights, on the other hand, is this huge, high-thinking, backstabbing, strategy game - projected to run 2-4 a whole day for newbies.

Here's a preview of a trial run game in progress..

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

SWA Restaurant

Going to treat Nekki and PL at the SWA Garden Restaurant tomorrow. No 540-542 Macpherson Road, Singapore 368223 - tel number 67445009.

Peiling's recommendation, a Teochew restaurant. The reviews look really good... lol. Here's one by a food blog, and another by a blogger. The dishes look really delectable - and I'm looking forward to crab, calamari, broccoli and kway teow!

What HDB flat can I afford? v1

I'm going to assume for this post that I'm buying a HDB flat - I'll cover the rationale for renting and my aversion to buying condo at this point in a separate post.

I'm considering one of two options:

a) Putting in for one of the Bi-Monthly Sale of 4-room & Bigger Flats in my area. Of course this would mean I've to get married pretty much within the next 3 months...

b) Putting in for one of the Build To Order flats in Punggol... which means I'd have to prepare to move in in about 4 years..

(See, that's one reason to rent rather than buy - pure flexibility!)

of course, there's always
c) Wait ...

which could also arise from
d) Apply but get unlucky at ballot.

Anyway, before that.
What can I afford? I must admit I have little idea about this, but there's this HDB MoneySense Guide which helps a bit. I'm gonna open a Google Spreadsheet and try to follow this.

A few information blocks along the way:

The first thing I should find out - am I eligible for a HDB loan at concessionary interest rate? This HDB article covers it. And, yes I am!
Generally, this means that I get an interest rate of 2.6% on my loan - presumably better than bank loans but I have no idea. Got to keep my eyes peeled for promotions as I walk around.

Then if I take a loan at 90% of the flat value, I can estimate my instalment payments here.

Keying it into the spreadsheet, I find:

a) For a flat worth $250k, I end up paying about $1020 in instalment payments, of which $120 must come from my cash. Not too bad!

b) For a flat worth $350k, I end up paying $1400 in instalment payments, of which $400 must come from cash - much tougher...

I've published the mug-ugly version 1 of the spreadsheet here.
Still need to
1) Figure out how HDB calculates the monthly payment based on
a) Loan amount
b) Per annum interest
c) Years to repay
So if you know this, let me know, okay?

2) Figure out the renovation loan interest rate and work out how renovation impacts the sheet

3) Add in calculations to reflect property tax, fire insurance, mortgage insurance, conservancy charges, maintenance costs, as the MoneySense guide advises.

Getting my financial life in order

So now I'm looking at HDB flats to settle down in with my dear Key - time to get serious about getting my financial life in order!

Problem is, after having read all those useful personal finance blogs, I realize that I haven't found one that's based in a Singapore context. And the world is totally different! For one thing, the best interest rate you can get on a savings account in Singapore (for someone with my funds) appears to be StanChart's 1.8% - whereas that guy at The Simple Dollar is always raving about the HSBC account with 4% interest rates... For another, the whole thing about buying homes using CPF and stuff is just so bloody confusing.

So now, I've got a few tasks ...

1) Figure how much I can afford for the HDB flat - or indeed, whether I should be renting instead (heaven forbid I buy a condo at this point!);

2) Find out how I can maximize my investment from this place where interest rates on all kinds of deposit accounts seems abysmally low;

3) Think through how much insurance I need, and get that amount!

4) Appropriately for the number 4, make my CPF declaration and draw up my last will and testament.

Of course, I'm ridiculously blur about this and still finding my way around.. So I might as well make a journey of it and a) entertain some people, b) share the experience, and c) seek inputs from anyone who happens onto the site.

So... let's start!

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Had dinner at Hogsbreath at Vivo City recently - let's just say it serves fantastic beef at a decent budget!

Here's how the basic meal looks like at lunch - nothing special yet other than the overwhelming portion size.

and then, when you cut the beef (which you should have asked for medium rare), it's like this - juicy and delectable! It's not the Tavern, but it's pretty good!

and then finally - there's decent dessert too!

Well worth the price, try it out, near the Daiso in Vivo City.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Handphones for children?

NYTimes is now carrying an article about handphones for children - like primary school, not secondary, and not like in Singapore, where the kids carry adult-type cellphones, but some really cute and kid-friendly handphones - like with just 5 buttons, so probably they can contact you, and you can contact them, and there's no incentives for criminals to steal their handphones (though I don't know about bullies).

There was another article at Communities Dominate Blogs about phones targeted at kids. It mentions the same kinds of features - bright colours, child-toy shapes and robustness, cutesy interfaces. But it comes with additional features!

It has a built-in alarm. One that is viciously loud. But better than that - when that alarm is sounded, the phone camera takes a picture ! Yes, that is why the flash, because the target may be attempting to bully (or rob) the child in a dark alleyway. And yes - the best part - when the alarm goes off, the childrens' phone - and KDDI - immediately send a picture message to the parent. If the child is in trouble, just take out the phone, sound the alarm, point the camera at the bully, and your PARENTS immediately see who is attempting to bully the child.

Lol.. they should put these features on every phone, not just the children's ones. But ask you a question, how would you like it if your kid got antsy while you were out and pressed the alarm for fun?