Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Random thoughts: Stock selection and market timing

Recently, my mum-in-law said she was afraid of Korea War, she asked me how. I told her if she is very worried, take some money off the market.

She asked me to take a look at her portfolio. Some of her counters were from donkey years, salted fish until cannot salt Liao. I ask her if she want to remove deadweight, she said ok. 

She showed me her sgx statement for the past few months, the period of STI rise of about 10%. I realize almost all her counters, also rise and gain with the market. Some of the counters are penny with no real future, but they still gain to different extent. The blue chip counters, those bought 2-3 months ago all gained. It's those that were bought way long ago that are still sinking in red

Makes me wonder if we are better off timing the market? 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Random thoughts: Are u attracted to labels

Labels? What is the first thing that comes to your mind?


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Let me guess. Brands? Handbags etc. Labels refer to anything that can be classify under a name. Brand is a label premises on a PROMISE of quality and a particular experience. 

Concepts is a label too. Label makes communication easy. Say "fallen angel" in investment context and people understand. It's makes complex and detailed information concise.

It could do the reverse too. I make people react to the first and basic information without regarding the discourse of it. Let's try another example. Free Cash Flow is good. 

There are traditional ways and conservative ways of calculating FCF, and there is limitation and justifying of -ve of FCF at times. It's easy to gross over the the exceptions and the underlying assumptions made.

Then there are concepts too deep and complex to be label. Let's try this. Buddhism. Tier 1 Label. Ok, Karma, Dharna etc, all concepts all labels. How to explain properly? 

Then there are many concepts and ideas not crystallize into labels yet or those labels are not accepted universally. So not many will understand it. Does it mean those ideas and concepts are not worthy? 

I used to conveniently use labels. For report writing, etc, it is useful. Did u use labels to explain deep concepts simply or use labels to make simple ideas sound very "atas"?

I have always scratch the surface of many concepts. I rely too much on labels. 

From 道德经:
无名天地之始。有名万物之母。

labels are to classify. Make communication and understanding easier. Labels makes analysis easier. But when u move beyond the labels, concepts converge. Everything converge, into a chaotic Mess. 

My own fun interpretation, I no license. Dun take me seriously. But I dun mind u poking me. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

A letter to myself 12 months down the Road

Writing a letter to myself 12 months down the road is an idea from SMOL. It is like a self-check that whatever new found vision or purpose in education I found during the last few months will not be like sun-tan

I had wanted to write this letter at the end of the course, which is 4 weeks down the road. But decided to start writing to get my initial purist ideas as intact as possible. It is getting more hectic now, running back to school to settle work more often. Also, talking about PSLE results with another HOD also kind of shaken my belief and vision.

Ok lets get started:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mike,

How have you been? You are back in the system for a year or more now, are you struggling to just clear things off your table. Is efficiency your only or main consideration when you do things? How have your plans worked out?

You have wanted to

1) Shift your department teachers' mindset away from teaching to the test and examination. Deep learning or meta-cognitive learning have higher retention rate, it should not affect the results adversely too much. How many teachers have you convinced with your words, deeds and values? Or have you yourself thrown in the towel?

2) With the focus away from examinations and KPIs, you hope to see education as pupils actively pursuing knowledge and in whatever capacity, applying that knowledge. You have said that the following words stick in your head, let me remind you in case you forgotten. "The world economy no longer pays you for what you knows; Google knows everything...The world economy pays you for what you do with what you know." With the zero-sum pursuit of mindless competition of who produces more A pupils a National Trend, have you hold steadfast to your belief? Do you remember going to your MLS friend's school to teach for a trial lesson? They wear different uniforms from your pupils. With the bell curve effect, they doing well in PSLE mean the bell curve work against your own pupils. (Don't give me the shit that the new PSLE is standard referenced. It is just a static preset bell curve.) But you love them nonetheless, you think they are cute. You felt proud that Singapore provide good and decent education to pupils in the neighborhood. You suddenly felt that it is really meaningless and perhaps shallow to be upset about being "below National Average". Why should I be happy? The "national average" does not fluctuate that greatly, why should I derives so much happiness or sadness in beating fellow Singapore's Children?

3) You wanted to prepare the pupils not just for the examinations, but also the future. You believe that joy in learning, is perhaps one of the ingredient for effective learning, and that pupils must be self-regulated learners. You realize that preparing pupils for examinations and the future in that sense, need not really be a zero-sum game, as the two are not mutually exclusive.

4) Joy of learning is not about having fun doing activities, it is about making sure every pupils can progress and achieve. You seek to do this with Differentiation Instructions (DI). You have in the past, pursuit only the form and not the substance of DI. You have a better understanding of the whole DI approach by Tomlinson , you understand what it means and possibly how to differentiate the process/ content or product according to pupils readiness or if possible, also take into considerations pupils' interest and profile. You are no expert in this, but with Formative Assessment (FA) and DI in your mind when you did the 2 trial lessons in 2 different schools the last 2 days (6-7th April ), you genuinely felt different. I think I will cut you some slack for not able to prepare lessons as thoroughly as when you are on course. But, did you stop observing pupils' readiness? Have you stop asking yourself how to present your information more clearly and preparing for multiple content sources and process to cater for pupils who cannot follow your intended lesson? If you have been doing this at least once a week, I think you are already doing well. You also want to present your true self to your pupils, you realize you are generally a fun-loving person, so the humor in class should let pupils feel more at ease. But have you become so tired or pressured about the academic performance of your pupils that you have start reverting to becoming a team commander of soldiers in a war zone?

5) Self-regulated learners are learners acutely aware of their own learning. During MLS, you have been reading a lot about how the brain works, about metacognitive strategies, and the easy essence of it are having
1) Compare and Contrast
2) Classification
3) Meaningful Transfer
4) Self-Monitoring
5) Mindful selection process
6) Gap filling either individual or in group

You have worked hard to try to figure out how everything can be applied from reading comprehension stage to speaking and writing. Did you continue to use these? Have you extend the activities and strategies? How many teachers beside your soulmate/ friend in your department have you gotten excited about all these teaching methods. I can't write the teachers' names here, but MS, SC, JAN, NF, YZ and SY are potential champions you have considered, are they really champions now? Have you not even started? Did you keep their interest burning, did you make them turn around and help you keep your own passion alive?

6) You want to streamline working processes such that you can reduce at least 5% of teachers' workload. You had wanted more flexibility in weekly PDT, you wanted technology to help in discussion and some marking. You wanted to scale down some programmes. You understand a burnt-out teachers cannot really inspire pupils. This is one area that you felt is toughest to do, if you have actually found a path, you do yourself proud. One area you are looking at is purposeful reflections, as diagnostic data collection means and stimulus for discussion. Have you done anything about it. How did it fare?

7) You have wanted a more systematic approach to integration of various learning objectives across levels with strong build-up of differentiated resources. One key success factor shared selflessly by your HOD friend about active selection of topic to drill in the final year is not a short cut, but a meticulous and calculated move(3 years prior to ensure maximum exposure and repetition), much like company prospecting in investing. Have you embarked on this journey?

8) You have wanted the professional learning project to be of more rigor. You have bought books for teachers to engage in literature review, and the use of lesson study lesson plan template for discussion and planning. You wanted more informed and well-planned initiatives. How has those plans work out for you?

9) You wanted to continue with the NIE library membership and spend at least 2 days in a year visiting the NIE to borrow some books to read.

10) Finally, something less tangible. You said "Human First, then teacher, then a HOD to bring everyone along" How does this sound to you now?

Are you smiling now, or are you crying inside?  Or you didn't have time to read this letter because you didn't even dare look at the checklist?

The sun-tanned Mike
7th April 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

随心笔:我输得起

本无一物?比什么?
老爷,你功力深厚,看破红尘。

既然“有”就能比,但也可以不比。
我有,但不比,也没法输。
老哥,你修为极高。

我有,也看到他人有,
我能比,也想比。
但我输了,我接受,
我还替人开心,
觉得他是才俊。
老弟,你够豁达的。

我有,心里觉得少,
看他多,心里难受。
唉,朋友,我了解,
有时我们都这样,
干一杯,笑一笑,
我们坦然。

我有,装没有,
没有,以为有,
知之为不知,不知为之知
小子,这样不行,
输给自己,输得一塌糊涂。

 


Friday, March 24, 2017

Random thoughts: Abundance and buffet

I believe my world is one of abundance, and the world in general can be of abundance too. 

However, abundance need a ingredient. It is thankfulness. Thankfulness is the lens we see things. There is plenty of randomness in this world, I happen to be a beneficiary in plenty of things, lucky if you like. Why do I say this? I know of 2 persons, of equal capabilities doing the same work. Of course, when I say "same" I dun mean factory output quantity. In general, they might have different strengths but basically delivering the same goods. But they have a pay difference of around 40%? I am the luckier one. I am not bragging, just thankful, as she is my equal or perhaps 有过之而无不及。(better)

Having abundance but not thankful or mindful, will simply end up like what one of my lecturer says "so much to live with, so little to live for"

Abundance is a curse, when benchmarked, compared with others. Abundance is introspective. U decide how much is enough. At personal level, it is easier to understand, but it also true beyond personal level.

Let's take the example of Buffet. There are atas ones, mass market ones. But all with the same purpose, let the customers eat to their heart content. Some lament about cheapo buffet. Some eat until their gastric hurts or even vomit. Some tried to hide some finger food to takeaway. 

I seldom go buffet, I am not a big eater and has a weak gastric. But I do like buffet. I can tried a variety of food at amount I like. I can start very small. If I particular food is very tasty, I eat more of it. I no longer have stomach for deserts now (old Liao) if I go second round, so I will just stop and relax and chat over a cup of coffee. 

How do u and others u observe do at buffet? U scream must be value for money? U felt shortchanged when someone just go for that lobster thrice or four times and giving all other food a miss? 

U care more about value for money or value of experience? 

Sorry, it's not the fault of the buffet organizers, if u ask me. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Random thoughts: reflective thinking vs learning through reflections

I took an elective titled "learning through reflections"

The tutor wanted us to define "reflections", think about what is a good "reflection" and what is a bad "reflection". She then give comments about our answers, telling us what "reflections" entails.

She then went on to have us read an article title "reflective thinking" and have us split into groups to summarize the 4 criterions of reflective thinking.

She keep challenging us for our thoughts when the various groups present their summaries. 

Just before the break, 2 groups presented. She ask for final opinion, I told her I am having cognitive dissonance, because reflective thinking is about thinking, not reflections. While reflection is a subset of thinking, I think there should be distinction. 

She then mentioned that the author says there are 4 types of thinking: just being conscious, imaginative and the final stage- believing. She did not really answer my question, but I am fine with it. I am not about to agrue with her over semantics. 

During the break, I returned early. She strike a conversation and I explained my understanding of "reflections". It should be introspective, about personal actualization and not analysis, ramifications and experimentations. It should be about awakening of the self, enlightenment if u like, with the emotional part playing an important role. There is no "educated" or "uneducated" decision based on experience but just whether we are are happy or disturbed over a decision, and that trigger of emotions is dependent on the filter built up over many experiences, called "conscience" I told her there is a difference between reflective thinking, which is what the article is about, and thinking reflections, which is what the course should be about.

Credit to her, she is really open-minded, and ask me to put the boards certain key words like "conscience", etc and said she would like to bring the discussion to the class. I became uncomfortable, but followed her instructions. 

When the class returned, she told the class that I had a different perspective and ask for the class comments. There is silence. She asked me why I felt I could not agree with the 2 model, and somewhat implied what is wrong with a "robust" way of thinking as reflection?  I said "analysis, verification, experiments" give u intelligence but reflections gave u wisdom. 

I said the first model of making meaning of experiences is something I can identify with, but do not accept "educated" and "miseducated" decision. I said these 2 terms are "external validation" and has no place in "reflection", an horrible terrible person will not think of himself as horrible. 

She said there are social norms. I said social norms are there but I need not buy them. I said external experiences are simple "stimulus" and the "filter" is just conscience, educated or not is up to external validation 

I felt very uncomfortable as the debate is dragging long enough. Luckily she moved on the 3rd and 4th models.

The third model is thinking as a community. Having affirmation with and from the community. Someone then quote the example that my sharing is also the case in point, since we all learn from each other and I got affirmation. I kept silence. In my mind, I said, "I need no affirmation from the community, I believe in what I am thinking, I need not have the community agree with me either. I have reflected about this long enough and has beliefs that are not easily shaken. This is internalization through reflections and not easily shaken by different school of thoughts"

Anyway, before We left, the lecturer kindly ask us to think about whether or not, our different perspectives can be reconcile, she "hint" that it is possible since reflections is also part of thinking. 

I wasn't too convinced. In my car, I thought. Chinese is also a subset of human. Humane Chinese and Chinese Human the same meh? 

But nevermind. It's only when I so free now I can talk make chicken and think rubbish la. I need no followers, no in this area of academic discussion. It is just fun. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Random thoughts: Coporate Rats out there, We can be happy rats

This post is sparked by a post from Andy ( Tacoomb) but is in my mind for quite a while.

In our pursuit of FIRE, let's not forget the "now". Of course, FIRE holds a lot of promise- doing charity, your own business, sleep till the sun hits your buttocks. It is a nice picture, and defintely a worthy pursuit. Full time giving back to society, sending your kids to school and picking them. What is there not to like? 

However, a lot of those promises rest a lot on the personality. Look, no one is going to just sleep their life away after FIrE, they find projects/ causes to work on. And in the pursuit of these causes/ they might meet with other problems, nasty volunteers, corrupt officials , whatever. Can they hide behind money and say now that I have FIRE, I quit? Huh? Sorry?

Is it really true that our problems and stress will All be gone when FIRE comes?

Is it easier really to find purpose with what we are doing, simply because u are on FIRE. 

Perhaps FIRE made it easier as you can focus, and give u the luxury of pacing yourself. But finding that purpose in life/ work, has nothing to do with money, if u think deeper. If u already have a purpose, u can have the best of both world. Get paid and perhaps use only one of your weekend to pursue your "purpose", yes, we cannot do it to our heart content, but u get paid while u do a diet-light version of your "calling"

If u like your work, but hate the office politics, the bureaucracy, your stupid and rude boss, whatever, u should be happy too. For me, I love teaching, it went from 80% of my job scope when I begin to perhaps 30% now. Hey, then u strike gold lor. 30% of your pay is actually bonus every month. U do what u want and like and still get paid. Bear with the shit and stay low profile for the rest of the 70%. Shut up when office politics is going on, be a man-whore and say "I am sorry" when your boss is barking and think of the paid 30% you enjoyed. Waking up in the frecking early morning with only 5 hours of sleep? Hey, if Market turns down, you got Fire Power because u are still getting paid. U still has chance. 

Sometimes work turn out well too. Then? Super "shiok" right? You get paid and your ego got stroke, you got a free fan club etc.

This is a Rat and Ant speaking. Grasshoppers and fishermen please do not throw shoes at me. If u must throw, throw a branded new pair so that I can go online and sell ok. 

I am cheering those rats who FIrE remain a distant goal. In the 50s of perhaps never going to happen. If u feel like a loser in this bloggersphere of investors, and if it make you feel better, u have a fellow loser here, perhaps the biggest loser if measured by portfolio size. But it's ok. I am a happy loser. Let's be happy rats before we can evolved into something else. It's easier to be happy when we are grasshoppers; but rats are not doomed to sadness. The external conditions might not be as pleasing, but hey, we got spending power. Bite me. LOL. Oops, I know of someone that passive income a month is perhaps is my 1 year income, but nevermind, I chose to be a happy rat. Running on trendmill and doing my best part-time grasshopper. 

Rats! We can be cute. There is Mickey Mouse.