Saturday, February 28, 2009

With Friends Like This.... No One Needs an Enemy.

I'm fully prepared for you to not get the point, my dear reader. I think that I have issues getting my point across anyway.

Now today has been a major exciting day. I was supposed to meet my friends at Plaza Singapura for dinner as a birthday celebration for a friend. I wanted to go to Kinokuniya to pick up some JLPT past year papers and drop by Borders as well.

So off I trooped. While at the MRT station, I was attempting to enter the faregate when I saw an impatient hand wanting to scan his card as well, unfortunately I reached the gate first. I believe that was what started making the person upset with me. After a while, said person caught up with me and stood infront of me on the escalator.

At this point in time I would like to point out that said person (he's a plump caucasian with a short blond mohawk) was standing on the right side of the escalator. I heard the train coming and seeing that the left side of the escalator next to him was clear and there was space for me to move around him. So I decided not to ask him to make way for me, but to move around him instead.

Unfortunately, this person must have been allergic to touch, because as I moved, I accidentally touched him. I'm not sure if he was upset by the touch or the fact that I got in front of him, but I heard a distinct "You stupid bitch" from him.

I decided to ignore him, but then he got more brazen and said "Twat".

Ain't nobody going to get away with calling me that kind of names, so I turned to him and said loudly "Excuse me."

He feigned ignorance.

I kept up. "Do you now that if you were not moving on the escalator, you're supposed to be on the left side of the escalator?"

More ignorance.

"I don't know who's the silly one."

He moved on into the cabin and I followed him right in. That's just because it was convenient, wasn't gonna pick a longer fight with him.

So now I'm on the train and I was bored so I decided to SMS a couple of friend, and delete msgs off my phone. One of my friends actually replied to the sms I sent very much later.

Friend: Doesn't that guy know that you can overtake on the escaltor or he doesn't have escalators in his country?

I: I think he's upset cos I got in front of him twice. Unfortunately, unlike him, I speak more then one language.

*Here I was referring to the fact that I speak English, Mandarin and Teochew. I was suspecting that the SAM (Stupid Ang Moh) thought that I couldn't understand what he was muttering behind me and decided to 'enjoy himself' further*

Friend: So you scolded him in Japanese.

*I was wondering why I would do that. You only do such stuff if you wanted to show off, cos there is ZERO reason to do it. Also, why would you want to scold someone in a language no one can understand.. unclusive of the person you are scolding?*

I:No, why would I want to scold him in a language no one else understands? Duh.

Friend: So English would have sufficed.

I never replied to her for that one.

Seriously, with friends like these, I don't need enemies. She really didn't get my point. I guess you don't as well but then I'm not SMSing you right now.


That's not all to the exciting day. I tried to get to get from Wisma to Borders, but that escalator leading out of Wisma led me into a human jam because it was raining hard so I had to take the escalator back down, and take the underground passage to Lucky Plaza and then to Tangs before going into the underground passgaes all the way to Wheelock Place. On my way back, I was going into the tunnel leading into the MRT station from Tangs when I started to feel this heat wave.

Then I saw it.

This huge human jam. The tunnel was just clogged with humans and it was as warm as a sauna. It was incredible. The jam was due to the renovation works in that tunnel. This Orchard Turn thinggy is causing jams all over the place. At Wisma, at Tangs, OMG.

I tried to join the crowd but decided it would take me too long to get through and it was crazily hot. I excited the tunnel and ended up just behind the busstop outside Tangs. Luckily I managed to get on a bus to PS very quickly.

For the dinner, we arranged for a cake surprise for our friend, the waiter actually came to us and asked "Would you like your ice cream cake now?"

My friend who verbally spoke with that exact waiter to tell him what to do with the cake surprise gave the I'm so gonna kill you look. Another friend said "想要扁人啊?"

I said "何止扁,想放火烧。。。"

The waiter realised his mistake and apologised. Shortly after, the cake came up and as he lit the candle I said "放火咯!"

There were four of us in total and the one who was having a birthday actually did not hear the slip the waiter made so she didn't know about the cake till it landed on the table.

We went to a Karaoke later, I thought we'd get kicked out by 2200hrs, but we didn't. Unfortunately we couldn't stay because on of my friends acquired a bad stomachache. I knew she'd want to take a taxi home, so we had to search for a taxi stand in Orchard during a freaking heavy rain.

We were very close to the MRT station but my friend would rather take the taxi. We ended up in Ngee Ann City with this humongous queue. We waited for over an hour to get a cab, I believe. Walk longer in the rain, wait longer and pay more to get home later....


Lousy day........

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Friday, February 27, 2009

First Choir Practice

I've never been in a choir before, especially since you have to go through those nasty little things called auditions.

I went to audition last friday, it was a most nerve wracking experience. I think my brains weren't processing the notes right because the pianist would hit a key, I would try to sing it and she would hit a lower one. The room was cold and I was nervous so the effect was hugely amplified.

On Wednesday, I received an email informing us of the first practice date, time and venue so I guess I made it lol. The email also said that we would know our parts when we signed our attendance. I figured I'd probably be Alto (judging by the range the pianist was playing that day) and true enough, I'm in Alto.

First practice today, Alto is tricky because you have to make sure you're not following the Sopranos! The first song that I am learning is 春に. They had the old members sing it once for us and it was a really lovely song. I might consider buying a recorder to record the practices since it is hard to remember the melody after hearing it only a couple times. Especially since there are the Soprano, Alto and Tenor/Bass parts.

It all becomes a blur after a while. Choral music is hard....

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Japanese Language Test (Bunka)

So after some last minute mini revision (you guys all know how lazy I really am), I was left praying for a pass.

Maybe cos I'm getting old, learning languages is not as easy. Or maybe it's just cos I'm obnoxiously lazy. Or maybe it's cos at Bunka, they stuff you with the hard stuff right from the beginning. I hate verb conjugation!!

German was hard but I don't remember it being so hard. Maybe I just have a bad memory.

Anyway I managed to scrape through with a pass, so now all I need to do is wait for the school to release a schedule where I can take an Elementary 2 class. We've requested for a class with our current Sensei, so we hope they can fit that in.

The problem with Bunka is that the modules are not one after another. You can have breaks of a few weeks, or even more than a month in between modules.

Studying at both Bunka and JCS is quite tough, because they teach different things so you have to learn different things. It's quite unlike my friend's concept where she thinks I will have the advantage since I'm studying at 2 places.

First I have no clue what she means by advantage. Next it is too early for any advantage to show. Third, if the syllabus is rather different, you are essentially studying for differnt things instead of reinforcing what you learnt at one place, so you get less time to study for each topic (at this point please ignore the fact that I am a lazy bum, please imagine me studying). However, over the long term, it should work out.

For example, right now at Bunka I learn the 6 forms of verbs, so I understand why there are different forms of verbs. At JCS, they only teach us the 'masu' form so I wouldn't have realised that 'kikimasu' is actually the same verb as 'kitte'. Whereas at JCS they taught us alot of sentence structuring that Bunka has not yet taught.

Someday their paths will converge. Till then... suffer! Obviously in the eyes of my friend there is no advantage. I wonder what advantage she expects? That I can hold a conversation in Japanese already?

It's just horrible to have to mess with verb conjugation. My grammar has always sucked and I don't know why I picked all the languages that love funky stuff like conjugation.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Changes in Expense Tracking

Back in December, when I booked driving lessons, I would clock down the total expenses at the time of expenditure. I haven't taken lessons for 2 months and I'm about to dump another sum of money into my student account. I realised that this will make my expenditure very high, which is of course correct because technically I did spend the money.

However, when I finish the course and if there is money left and I get a refund, it will make it look like I have a lot of savings as well. I'm considering treating this prepaid account as transparent like how I treat my Coffee Bean Card and only record the expenses on the day I take the lesson.

It should be more logical treating this student account this way then the Coffee Bean card because I can get a refund of unused funds, whereas I can't get a refund on the Coffee Bean card.

This entry is part of a series of entries that I shall be entering in my blog to get myself into a 'manage my personal finance mode'

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Saturday, February 14, 2009


My current mentality for expense tracking and hopefully for my future financial planning, is to Keep It Simple, Stupid.

As I had previously mentioned, I prefer to keep my expense tracking simple. Now let me see if I can get a sample copy of my expense tracking sheet up for you....
Silverelf's Expense Tracker

Now, I have these main sections in the spreadsheet:

1) The monthly expense records
2) Fixed expenditure tab
3) Wishlist tab
4) A graph tab that shows how much I save each month. Actually more like how much I overspend each month. Let's be honest.

For the monthly expense records, I do not have a record of how much money I have in the bank because I was always horrible in accountancy and I know that I would just fail to make the numbers tally. So that information does not exist. I just track monthly expenditure vs income.

I also do not keep separate records for Cash, Credit Card etc expenditure. They go into one nice long table but I will record the payment mode in the cell appropriately named "Payment Mode". I do not actually do anything with that info though.

I also have a corner to show me how much money I have spent and how much I still have left that month. This will help give me an overview of how deep the shit that I am standing in is.

Every month, I will start a new sheet with my monthly pay in the income area. If I get a bonus , I will include them in as well. I've also included GST credits and stuff like that in the income area.

I try to update the tracking sheet daily, but often times I forget so I will try to remember what I spent and add in the amount. This means that my tracking is not 100% accurate but at least it should be about 90%. I find it important to follow through to the need of the month instead of gving up and starting the next month. Don't give yourself chances to slack off!

*P.S. I love February. Less days. Reach goalpost faster*

Next for the fixed expenditure tab, this is where I enter everything that recurs every month. It's good to have it like this for me because I can see what I HAVE to pay for every month. Of course it serves as a good way for the better disciplined to trim down on fixed expenses. The total I get from this page will be entered as the first expenditure entry on the monthly expenses tabs. *I don't know how to automate this*

Next is the wishlist tab. It's for things like that trip you want, that nice laptop etc etc. I put in stuff like that there and look at the total. It's not for calculation purposes, but more for a projection of how much money I need in the future. Erhmm.. or rather want.... cos these are not needs.

Finally we get to the Graph tab. This is where I manually input the amount of money left at the end of the month. Again, I haven't figured out how to automate this..... so.. it's done manually!to see a healthy positive trending on this graph.

And so that's how it is. Feel free to comment and suggest stuff to me.

This entry is part of a series of entries that I shall be entering in my blog to get myself into a 'manage my personal finance mode'

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ears Need Cleaning

First off, I have to say that it is actually not a good idea to be 'digging your ears'. Ears have an automatic cleaning mechanism. That said, I apparently need to get my ears cleaned anyway.

So I'm taking lessons at Bunka on Thursdays. Today, my friend joined my class for a replacement lesson. She usually has classes on Tuesdays.

During the break, she happened to mention to me that there is an Elementary 2 class on the 26th of February (Thursday) that she can take, and then she proceeds to comment that I have lessons on Thursdays (which I agreed to because I really did have lessons on Thursdays). Following is what I recall of the conversation which is not word for word accurate because I did not record it.

Friend yaks about Elementary 2 schedule: "There is a class on the 26th of February that I can take because I have checked my degree class schedule"

(She is currently taking a part time degree, schedules for each term are released like a week or so before each term.)

Friend: " Oh you have classes on Thursdays right?"

(I agree to this comment because I DO have lessons on Thursdays. At Bunka. Note that this conversation was being held on a THURSDAY during a MY REGULAR CLASS)

Friend :"So you can't take the Thursday Elementary 2"

Me: "Why would I have problems attending Thursday classes?"
(I suspected that she might have meant 'Tuesday' or that I can't take that particular class because it starts before my Elementary 1 ends)

Friend:" You have lessons on Thursdays right?

Me:" Yes, today loh. I'm having lesson now what."

Friend: "What??? I mean your lesson at JCS. What was it, Monday/ Wednesday... Tuesday/Thursday.. aiyah so messy why didn't you answer me properly when I asked you???"
*Friend fumes*

I'm like ...............................................

What the heck did I just get scolded for.... She asked if I had lessons on Thursdays..... which should have been obvious cos she was attending a lesson on Thursday WITH ME.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Solidifying Travel Plans

As I had probably previously mentioned, this year looks set to a be a year where I take a few trips. The following are the ideas in the works, probability of it happening and other considerations.

Trip 1
Location: Teochew, Beijing
With: Parents
When: Maybe 1st week of May
Likelihood: 95%
Considerations: Work schedule for May. Approval of leave.

Trip 2
Location: Shanghai, Beijing
With: Friend
When: July
Likelihood: 35%
Considerations: Need to commit to trip, at the moment just remarks. Work schedule for July. Approval of leave.

Trip 3
Location: Macau, Hong Kong.
With: Friend
When: October
Likelihood: 95%
Considerations: Work schedule for Oct. Approval of leave. Friend wants to throw in Taiwan. I don't. Class schedule for Japanese lessons to be considered during planning of trip as well.

These are the current plans for the year. Have another friend who mentioned Japan next year but it was only a brief mention. We'll see.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Personal Finances and Losing Weight.

Yesterday I was reading a few blog articles about Personal Finances. So far, the common theme is that everyone needs to manage their finances but there is no one sure way to do it. Some people work well with certain methods and others don't. However, the basic concepts remain the same regardless of what method you subscribe to. The main difference amongst the articles I read yesterday was that most advocated totally not using credit cards and some advised using credit cards.

This morning I was thinking and I realised that managing your personal finances is exactly the same as losing weight.

First let us look at the concepts of weight loss.

There are many ways to lose weight. I guess I need not list them all but the basic concepts remains the same. Eat less or exercise more. Preferably eat less AND exercise more.

Now let us look at managing personal finances. When you manage personal finances, what do you want? Hopefully accumulate some wealth right? So how do you save up money? Spend less, or earn more. Preferably spend less AND earn more.

See? They are EXACTLY the same!

Some weight loss methods tell you to count calories, some tell you to exercise like crazy, some tell you to cut the carbs and some tell you to cut the fat. At the end of the day, they all mean that you should reduce your caloric intake one way or the other.

Some personal finance concepts tell you to pay yourself first, some tell you to make a budget and keep to it strictly, some tell you to cut up your credit cards and use cash only and some tell you to pay for everything with a credit card (but make sure you pay the balance in full every month) in order to help keep a expense record. At the end of the day, they all mean that you should spend less then what you earn.

Personally, I do not have a budget. I know that if I had one, I'd stray off it in a week. I'm just that ill disciplined. What I currently do now is to get into the habit of recording everything I spend money on. I don't even really control what I spend on. Hopefully, little by little I will get tired of seeing disgusting expenditure numbers and gradually my spending habits will change. I'm not sure if they have changed much but I know that I have managed to keep up the expense recording for about a year now. I only have about 6 months worth of records though, since an incident with my pc wiped the previous records.

I don't record how much I have in the bank, because I'm too lazy to tally it all up and one of the reasons I never managed to keep up expense recording with other available expense software is that they require too much information from me. Information like balance in account A, balance in account B etc etc. To me, it is simple. As long as I keep within my monthly pay, then it should not matter how much I have in my bank. If I want to know how much I have in my bank, I will just check my bank account.
if I have too much information to tally, I know I will just say heck it and throw it aside.

If I forget to input something and I really can't remember how much it was, I either approximate it or forget it. It's not a good thing to do, but rather then fuss over it and get frustrated (thereby increasing the likelihood of me ditching the whole project), this is probably the better way.

I'm also pleased to say that I am an advocate of using credit card to pay whatever I can use it to pay. This is because I can see what I spent on at the end of the month. I can't do that with cash. Cash just... goes. Suddenly my wallet needs cash top ups (bail outs seems the hot term to use these days) and I just have to go to an ATM again. However, all credit card balances must be cleared every month. NO CARRYING OVER!

Hopefully, I will not only continue to keep up recording my expenses but will improve my personal finance situation.

This entry is part of a series of entries that I shall be entering in my blog to get myself into a 'manage my personal finance mode'

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