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Happy Holidays Thursday, 25 December 2008

Posted by dragonzlad in Life in General.
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Merry Christmas y’all! Hopefully 2009 will be a better year!

Retrenchment Sunday, 9 November 2008

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I survived. I’ll still have an income to pay my bills. But for how long I wonder. While I always knew that no one is ever indispensable even as hard as one can try to be, I never really had to deal with the anxiety of being asked to go. But I had put myself in that situation when I decided that I ought to pursue something which I have an interest in. It definitely wasn’t a pleasant experience and to witness one’s colleagues being asked to leave and to know that it could be me next. What made it worse was the suddenness of the news and the expediency in which one was asked to leave. The room was deafeningly quiet and the air was heavy and tense. And when it was over in that lightning few minutes, the heaviness of the air lingered, punctured only by the occasional nervous laugh. My heart goes out to all those people who had lost their jobs, those in the process of being made redundant and those who are suffering the anxiety of knowing their fate right now.

In Conversation Monday, 21 July 2008

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Do you sometimes know how a conversation will end with a new acquaintance before you are even mid way through it? I recently got to know a goodlooking new colleague who speaks with an accent having been brought up in Australia. I thought I detected a slight gay vibe but I couldn’t be sure. However, I’m quite certain now after he sort of become disinterested in conversation after he found out I was with someone. Girls on the other hand tend to be more discreet based on my conversations with them. Well, it’s either that or they were never really interested to begin with! Such experiences now provide me with early indications of how a conversation will go with a new acquaintance. I was recently contacted by a reader of my blog. It started off nice enough until I was asked if I was seeing anyone. I wondered if I should tell him but figured it’ll be rude not to reply. So I did and I haven’t heard back from him. I guess amidst our modern and often busy life, most people will not want to invest time and energy in continuing a futile pursuit, which in my case, a conversation!

You’re Not Dead But You Ain’t Alive Either Sunday, 4 May 2008

Posted by dragonzlad in Life in General.
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That was a phrase in the book American Gods by Neil Gaiman of the Sandman comics (which I absolutely love) fame. And that’s how i feel sometimes. Although i do not complain about my life, I don’t really find it exactly exciting either. It’s the same at the work front. Before joining the industry, i was full of hope and looking forward to a role in finance and investment banking. But soon after joining, I wondered if there’s any prospect for further advancement especially in other areas within the bank. Quite a number of people have left to try their hands in other areas of banking only because they have found it difficult to move internally. The common thing about them i noticed is that they have all got a number of years experience before jumping ship. While the thought of staying put in a back office role seems rather unpalatable and with precious time slipping past ever so quickly, maybe I don’t have much of a choice but to duely clock my time too.

Recently i’ve read about the ancient Chinese art of divinity called Ba Zi (translated as Eight Characters or Eight Pillars). It basically provides a snapshot of one’s life using one’s date and time of birth. An elementary check on my own showed that i’m prone to feeling discontented and conflicted even if there’s no reason to feel so. And that is actually pretty accurate. I’ve always been too sensitive about what I see and hear for my own good. And I’m always wondering if I am doing what I really want to do. I wondered if this explains the state of mind I’m in right now or the fact that I think I’m not doing something I want to that is causing my mild unhappiness. Yet, when I reflect upon my life, I realise that I have done and experience many things that not many people might have and so I should be rather contented. But this contentment is akin to being not dead and not alive. Conflicted, right? I think the best thing to do is to ignore all these feelings and hang on for a while longer to learn whatever I can before contemplating on my next step. I guess that’s the only logical thing I can do.

Managing Thursday, 21 February 2008

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I still find myself coming to terms with the vast difference in my current profession and my last one. Where I used to manage the careers of a number of people, I now only manage numbers. Initially, I welcomed the break from managing people as I didn’t find any fulfilment in that when many of these people were simply self-absorbed and wanted to advance themselves without putting much effort into working their careers. But now, I find myself missing that responsibility (though not that type of employees) somewhat. Maybe I am just wondering if I’ll ever catch up to that level of seniority in my new chosen profession…

Tears Saturday, 16 February 2008

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How often do you find your eyes getting teary when you watch a touching scene on TV or in a movie? I’ve always been a rather emotional person despite my nonchalent outward persona but I have come to realise that I tear more easily nowadays when I see scenes of loss (such as the loss felt by Christina Yang and Derek Shepard when Meredith Grey had apparently died from drowning in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy). Some who might psycho-analyse me might suggest that I have many issues which manifest themselves in strong emotional feelings or empathy when I witness scenes of loss. Well, at least this what I would say of myself but the truth is, I do not know any better. Perhaps a person more adept at analysing human relationships and personalities would do a better job than I do. And already, a name come to my mind. 🙂

My regular readers, the few that can be counted with one hand (actually, with that kinda number, hands are not even needed!), would probably have realised that  I haven’t blogged regularly for some time now. My blogging comes in a burst and sort of taper off for a while until I feel strongly about something. Or when I actually have the time to do so. Lately, I have been doing a lot more reading. Partly because of a nice X’mas present that I got. It was a book on option trading and it came totally unexpected from GB. Well, I have finished reading it (all while commuting between work and home!) and am now going through certain sections a second time. Back home, I try to read another book on trading and some chapters in the CFA textbooks to augment my knowledge.  At the same time, I am sussing out online trading games/simulations so that I can try what I had read and to learn more through the process. Hopefully, I’ll learn enough to trade full time or to convince someone in the firm to let me have a shot at trading! So I figured I’ll rather spend my time learning practically instead of taking up a CFA, especially since many traders do not have advanced qualifications (based on what I’ve heard).

On a more frivolous note, I am darn happy for the Singaporean team Colin and Adrian for winning the Amazing Race Asia 2. Adrian happened to be deaf but the two fellas communicated wonderfully and in some ways had an advantage of being able to communicate (signing) in a way that the other teams could not understand when they are close together looking for the same clue. Although they are not as wise-cracking as Marc and Rovilson from the Phillippines nor as good looking as Marc, they certainly won their fair share of supporters for their humbleness and never-say-die attitude. It was really a pleasant surprise as many thought that Marc and Rovilson were too tough to beat as they had repeated come in first in many legs of the race while Colin and Adrian came in a close second. But their luck seemed to have turned when Colin and Adrian started overtaking them with some cool planning and of course a good grasp of general knowledge. You never know when possessing a knowledge of the countries’ flags would come in useful like in this race! Apparently despite coming 20 minutes later into the final task than the other 2 teams, Adrian was able to complete the task in 3 minutes flat, ahead of the other 2 teams that were stumped. And the task? Simple enough, put the flags of the countries in the order that they had raced in. It was truly a good win!

Introversion vs Extroversion Saturday, 26 January 2008

Posted by dragonzlad in Life in General.
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I came across this article (below) in the papers today and thought that it was interesting. If there can be a spectrum with extreme introversion and extreme extroversion on opposite ends, I would most certainly fall somewhere in the introvert zone but nearer to the middle. I like listening to what people have to say especially if what they say is well thought out and while I may not be the most vocal person, I do enough to keep the conversation going! I enjoy being alone and can certainly survive being mostly alone perhaps due to my background of growing up almost alone despite having a brother (we were not close then but that’s another story). However, I do get my moments when I want very strongly to connect with good friends and even strangers just to see how they are getting on or what lifes they live (in the case of strangers).

Would you be the person in a party to stand at a place with a good view and observe the people around you while having the occasional quiet conversation or would you be the party animal that naturally makes plenty of jokes and loud conversations?

Caring for Your Introvert

The habits and needs of a little-understood group

by Jonathan Rauch
(February 14, 2006)

A conversation with Jonathan Rauch, the author who—thanks to an astonishingly popular essay in the March 2003 Atlantic—may have unwittingly touched off an Introverts’ Rights revolution.

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is “too serious,” or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren’t caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world.

I know. My name is Jonathan, and I am an introvert.

Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues. In doing so, I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes. Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts. It pays to learn the warning signs.

What is introversion? In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say “Hell is other people at breakfast.” Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially “on,” we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: “I’m okay, you’re okay—in small doses.”

How many people are introverts? I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. The answer: About 25 percent. Or: Just under half. Or—my favorite—”a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population.”

Are introverts misunderstood? Wildly. That, it appears, is our lot in life. “It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand an introvert,” write the education experts Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig. (They are also the source of the quotation in the previous paragraph.) Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping.

Are introverts oppressed? I would have to say so. For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which only the garrulous are really comfortable. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. To think of the few introverts who did rise to the top in politics—Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon—is merely to drive home the point. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I’ve read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered “naturals” in politics.

Extroverts therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Coolidge is supposed to have said, “Don’t you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?” (He is also supposed to have said, “If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it.” The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself.)

With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. “People person” is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like “guarded,” “loner,” “reserved,” “taciturn,” “self-contained,” “private”—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

Are introverts arrogant? Hardly. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts. Also, it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain. We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours. “Introverts,” writes a perceptive fellow named Thomas P. Crouser, in an online review of a recent book called Why Should Extroverts Make All the Money? (I’m not making that up, either), “are driven to distraction by the semi-internal dialogue extroverts tend to conduct. Introverts don’t outwardly complain, instead roll their eyes and silently curse the darkness.” Just so.

The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts’ Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say “I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.”

How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice? First, recognize that it’s not a choice. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s an orientation.

Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don’t say “What’s the matter?” or “Are you all right?”

Third, don’t say anything else, either.

Lesson in Love Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Posted by dragonzlad in Life in General.
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I caught myself just as I was about to say,”My biggest regret was to have met J.” to a friend when we were discussing the betrayal that I had experienced. Then I realised that it wasn’t true, for if not for J, I would not have understood what being loved feels like and what it is to love someone.  What started off as a game to see if I could be made to leave my then-ex girlfriend, opened my eyes to the games people can play on one another even if they are “friends” and which also turned out to be the greatest lesson in love. While I am certainly more careful now with a certain group of people who will always appear in my life as long as we have the same group of friends, I guess I can’t say that meeting J was my biggest regret.

Zouk Saturday, 17 November 2007

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I used to like clubbing when I was studying in uni. It’s one of the few things that we could do in the evenings then. But I haven’t done so for a long time now as I got older. It was a very rare chance that I found myself once more at Zouk last week. The crowd at Zouk has changed. I remember a time when the dressing would be very avant garde (to me anyway!) where fashionable, quirky and even strange dressing can be found. Now, it is simply fashionable or just simple. I also remember that the Velvet room used to house really gorgeous men and women. Now, it seems just ordinary. Maybe back then, I had stumbled into a models’ night out in Zouk. So there I was back in Zouk after many years of absence. I wasn’t sure what I’ll do. Drinking is very expensive in Singapore so I know drinking myself silly is out of the question. And dancing in Singapore is ridiculous since it more like a body rub with so many people squeezed into a dance floor.

I was introduced to some people my friend knew and we moved over to the members-only area on the second floor where they had bottles of whiskey and volka opened. The drinking started. Somehow the music that I have always found to be far too loud and deafening seems to get softer as the drinks flowed. A caucasian man started talking to me as I looked down on the gyrating bodies below me. After a few minutes of chatting, I excused myself. It just got a little weird to be talking to someone who was very touchy feely. Of course, when that happened I knew I was being hit upon. Seems like gay Caucasian men are less inhibited compared to the locals. The only other two times (yeah, it is so rare that I can remember the number of times) when I was molested were in this gay club that my uni mates and I had gone to (for the great music there of course) and at a night out in Singapore with some friends. The latter was the most apparent as the offender wasn’t too concerned about concealing her actions. She probably knew then that I would never know her identiy as the group hug that was taking place would have concealed the owners of that pair of amorous hands. Luckily she never ventured south and I didn’t have to make a fuss about it.

So my friends were laughing at me for being hit on by a gay man. A few minutes later, another group of men came next to our group. They had Moet with them. There is something about gay men and their Moet I think. So far, I have seen at different occasions where gay men drank Moet at clubs. Was it like an unspoken invitation for other gay men to approach, like in the use of mineral water bottles at cruising grounds many years ago in Singapore. Has the local gay population gone upmarket and adopted the use of Moet instead?

I started to get a little drunk which was easy considering that I hardly drink. And I started to groove and dance along to the music. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and one girl seemed to get friendly with M. It wasn’t surprising given his tanned, model goodlooks and a hot bod.

By the time we called it a night, I was literally stumbling out of the club. Never been that drunk since those days in the military. It was quite a laugh but not the next morning when the high wore off leaving a horrible lousy feeling!

X’mas Wish List Sunday, 4 November 2007

Posted by dragonzlad in Life in General, Objects of my desire.
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I’ve never written a wish list before. When I first started working and for those years that I was “single”, cash flow was never an issue and I never thought more than twice about buying anything so long as it wasn’t an expensive item. Now that I have changed jobs, I find myself having to shore up my depleted savings with a smaller pay. So that takes precedence over many things nowadays. Life was simpler without that  many commitments! And because of that I realised that I had to think hard about the things I want. Yeah, they are mostly “Wants” :p

In fact, I have to create a list and go through a list of questions in my head – “Do I need this?”, “Can I settle for something else and save money in the process?”…. Just like the bag that I had bought last week. I had wanted something stylish (read “branded”) but which would cost me several hundreds of dollars. I mulled over it for weeks before buying a leather bag that costs me a tad over a hundred without compensating in the style department. Of course I didn’t bother much about the leather just so long as it looks and feel real to me. It was a good buy. Everyone thought it looked really nice.

And now that it is November, I have begun to mentally accumulate the things I would like to have for Christmas. Unfortunately, I never once had anything I had really wished for in a Christmas present so I guess I’ll have to be buy them for myself! Here’s what is in my list so far:

X’mas Wish List

1. SonyEricsson w960i S$800

Sonyericsson W960i

2. Nike+ S$55 and Ipod Nano S$248 (previous generation 2GB S$80)

Nike+

3. Mizuno Wave Creation 8 S$229 or Addidas Adizero LT $178 or
    Mizuno Wave Rider 10 S$189

Mizuno Wave Creation 8

4. Nokia speakers S$100+
5. 2 More shirts and trousers S$200 (a definite must-get as I’ve a severe shortage!!)
6. ……..

A bulk of the list (currently anyway) consists of fitness items as I have recently been inspired to run more regularly and I thought it will really be nice to run in proper running shoes and train with electornics (Nike+ & Ipod Nano) that will measure the distance, pace etc and select the best music according to my pace.

Sadly, as my finances is unlikely to improve very soon, I’ll probably have to settle for the cheaper options such as the cheapest shoes in Item 3 and stick with my current phone (which I still think is the best gadget so far)!

 Check out the new yet-to-be-released in Singapoe SonyEricsson W960i: