Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

"I see dead people. I see them everywhere and they don't know they are dead........"


I hope you guys are all dressed up to have some fun. This is the time of the year to check out really cute costumes and get all crazy. Well, not too crazy. Anyways, here are some costumes I thought looked pretty and fun. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

To Rent or To Buy? That is the question.

From the "Real Estate Talks" forum, I came across a useful spreadsheet model to show what happens in a falling market.

One often hears people say "It is always a good time to buy. After all housing always goes up in the long term and you are throwing your money away on rent.” Is it is better to buy now or rent for a few years with the intention of buying later??


Roger VI made this model based on some basic assumptions:

- renter pays $2500 per month rent- owner pays $2500 as mortgage payment during entire mortgage
- both have saved 100K- 500K is the price of the property
- constant mortgage rate of 5.75%
- renter pays rent out of 100K savings until property is purchased
- savings interest, property maintenance, taxes and utilities are not considered


With a 5% drop the “buy now” purchaser comes out ahead. At 8% it is a tie and at 10% and 12% drops the patient renter comes out way ahead. For example with a 10% annual price drop:

- Former renter ends up mortgage free two years earlier
- In 2015 & 2020 former renter owes much less on outstanding mortgage

The renter is much better off than the model suggests if you consider interest on the savings and that the “buy now” owner was paying property taxes and maintenance for one or two years while the renter was not. But investment return on savings has been left out of the model to avoid debates on what its value should be. In any case, it does not make enough of a difference to affect the results of this model.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Seeing Green instead of Red

MR ALAN Greenspan said last week that he has lost faith with free markets. Well, I started with little faith in him and the market, and my sympathy greatly outweighs any respect I ever had for both right now. Last Thursday, I tuned in to check out the grilling he took from the House of Representatives Committee as he was pinned with the blame for the pit hole America is in.

He was the revered One. He was the most powerful central banker in the world. Markets moved when he spoke. His proclamations were taken as the ultimate reassurance, the cure to all status ailments. “No, there's no bubble in the US housing market, it's just some "froth" and “Yes, the US financial system is sound and all those complex financial derivatives spreading around the world is just a healthy distribution of risk.”.

Apparently, the bubble that didn't exist burst, and derivatives turned out to be the link that tied the financial world together so that as one falls, we all fall. We look to Mr Greenspan again and this time he is no longer the almighty maestro of the financial world. So he humbly retracts, “well, actually, the Fed has no way of spotting bubbles in real time and, anyway, it's more effective to mop up afterwards than to try to deflate a bubble before it bursts.”. Last Thursday, Greenspan admitted that his belief that markets should be left free to regulate themselves was 'flawed'.

He admitted he was horribly wrong. But that does not help us.

Some US$16 trillion (S$24 trillion) or about 80 per cent of the value gained by stocks worldwide in the last five years has been wiped out in less than year. The biggest of banks have gone under. Several currencies and emerging market economies are on the brink of collapse. The whole world is in a deep recession whether they admit it or not.

On a positive note, the greenback has been gaining ground as unified efforts since the G7 meeting two weeks ago pushed down their own currencies to boost the US dollar. In doing so, they hope to accomplish two goals. First, rebuild lost confidence in the US economy. Second, revive foreign export to the US and curb inflation. Japan is the sole exception as their currency has long been the source of carry trading and as people rush to cover their position now, the Yen can only go up.

Two things are certain in this time of uncertainty – a coordinated global effort is required to counter this crisis and recovery time will be slow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

View of Nature

A tree parching under the sun -

you see the beauty

that shines off its green,

but pretend not to notice

the shadows that sleep

in the brown bed

by the roots.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dokapon Kingdoms for Wii

When I heard that Atlas is creating an RPG based board game, I could hardly contain myself. I became a huge fan of Atlas after playing Personna 3 which can easily be considered the most fun RPG game ever. After getting the game on Tuesday and waiting for the chance to play it with my brother, I am finally ready to give this game the rating it deserves - A strong 7, maybe a 8.

The warning label on the game is of utmost importance. Play this game with your friends or don't play it at all.

Despite inital disappointment from the graphics which seemed right out of something in the late 90s and its soundtrack being childish and corny, the game does grow on you.

Throughout the adventure, you engage in battles, level up and improve your attributes with accumulated experience. There will be creatures and guardians ambushing you along the way, but more importantly, you can challenge your friends to a duel. If you beat your friend, you can steal his items, money and even humiliate him. Defeating a guardian will gain you control of a castle which you can invest, tax and receive income from. In the world of battles, you will sometimes die and you will lose turns plus some items/money/land. You can return to the castle to change jobs, hairstyle and suck up to the King. I have uncovered about 8 jobs in total.

There will be random little quests which will reward you with attributes, items or cash. There will also be surprises along the way, both good and bad. Take for example, if you are in the last place, the Devil will find you and offer you a contract which will make you the most powerful being for 15 turns. During the 15 turns, you can put monsters all over the land and kill your opponents, taking their money and leveling up to their level immediately. Sounds like fun yet? You really do have to play it to appreciate how much fun it can be.

However, while the gameplay is entertaining, the outdated graphics and sounds really can use some work. Not to mention they must have forgot to design the AI with any level of intelligence because when you play solo, everything including the roll of the dice you will get is pre-ordered. I am compelled to think that this may be their evil strategy to encourage people to play as a party. If so, why do you even bother putting a 1 player mode?

All in all, Dokapon Kingdoms is well-suited to Wii which is a party system. There will be people who can't stand the game's imperfections or its time consumption but at least the idea the game builds on is original and fun. It should keep me occupied until Personna 4 comes out in December.

Friday, October 24, 2008

BC Residential Real Estate - A quick overview

For the world, everyday now is a triage for the best actions or rather any action that can restore confidence and stability back market. Lately, there have been news on British Columbia residential real estate developmental projects that have either been postponed or shelved altogether. Let us examine the market to get a better understanding of what is to come.

85% of Canadian wealth is portrayed in home ownership. Since 2001, we have experienced a bull real estate cycle that has been described as once in every 50 years, and it has been coupled with the emergence of high-rise real estate. For Canada which has abundance of land, this was a huge change in real estate structure indicating a shift to higher density communities. Then with intensified population growth and business thriving as a result, profits were almost a given with the focus on maximizing the profits. However, the adulation of this bull cycle is the bear cycle that will follow and surprisingly, while people should be well aware of this simple logic, many underestimate the impact this coming bear cycle will bring.

People were buying residential units or lots, do some makeover and renovations, and then selling it at much higher price. Another group of flippers pay 5% or so for the down payment of pre-sale units, and find another buyer to buy it off them at a higher price. Problem is if you do not find someone to buy it off you by closing date, you either complete the deal which means you need to come up with the remaining 95% or you forfeit your deposit and face the possibility of being sued for damages if the real estate market price have fallen. To complete, there will also be other costs such as lawyer’s fees and transfer taxes. So in any case, the market condition is very crucial when you are investing to flip.

There are also long term investors or home owners who are not looking to sell in the short term. Naturally, they undertake less market risk than the flippers. However, there are many who has mortgages on their real estates increasing their financial burden when the market retreats.

So market demand has been dwindling especially with less foreign investors as their own countries slip into recession. While the prices have adjusted downwards (over 10%), the potential buyers are still waiting on the sidelines, waiting for the market to hit rock bottom.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the residential development projects that has been caught in the down cycle.

  1. RITZ CARLTON - Holborn’s $500 Million Ritz Carlton project has stopped at 50% completion. Despite what they claim, I have reliable sources that reveal that they have cash-flow problems.
  2. THE HILLS - The project on Kingsway have been pushed back indefinitely.
  3. INFINITY - the largest project in Surrey’s history. The developer filed for protection from creditors and sought major financing. Of the five proposed towers, one is completed, two is under construction and two have zoning approvals but have not started work.
  4. SKY TOWERS - Also in Surrey, Sky Towers have both condo towers sold but work has not started.
  5. BRIO - The 28 storey project which is to be the highest residential condo between downtown Surrey and downtown Calgary have also stalled.
  6. EVELYN - Millennium Developments’s Spokewoman Valerie Wan denied rumors of the Evelyn project stalling, claiming that site cleaning and grading have been completed. The marketing for pre-sale is scheduled for Spring 2009.
  7. COSMO - Concord Pacific’s Cosmo on Georgia and Beatty in Downtown also stopped work. However, they explained that it is due to late materials delivery and they plan to resume in January or February 2009.



What can we expect from the Vancouver Winter Olympic 2010? If there is any boost to the economy, it would have probably been reflected in the bull cycle the past 3 years. Also, most expected related projects will be completed by 2009 leaving a lot of workers with no new projects considering the lack of market demand now. Since the full effect of the US recession is expected to be felt in Canada sometime next year, we can expect that the British Columbia real estate market will take another plunge sometime next Winter.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bushisms - Perfect example of stupidity

I know. I know. If a show about little Bush has been made to ridicule his lack of mental depth, there are probably been enough said. But what the heck, we will laugh at Bush for as long as we can.

We know Bush does not know what he is talking about.....
  1. ''It is clear our nation is reliant upon big foreign oil. More and more of our imports come from overseas.'' -- President George W. Bush, Beaverton, Ore., Sep. 25, 2000

  2. "There's no question about it. Wall Street got drunk -- that's one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras -- it got drunk and now it's got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments." -- George W. Bush, speaking at a private fundraiser, Houston, Texas, July 18, 2008
  3. "How can you possibly have an international agreement that's effective unless countries like China and India are not full participants?" --George W. Bush, Camp David, April 19, 2008
  4. "So long as I'm the president, my measure of success is victory -- and success." --George W. Bush, on Iraq, Washington, D.C., April 17, 2008

  5. "The best way to defeat the totalitarian of hate is with an ideology of hope -- an ideology of hate -- excuse me --with an ideology of hope." --George W. Bush, Fort Benning, Ga., Jan. 11, 2007
  6. "Who could have possibly envisioned an erection -- an election in Iraq at this point in history?" --George W. Bush, at the white House, Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2005
  7. "It's a time of sorrow and sadness when we lose a loss of life." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 21, 2004
  8. "The truth of that matter is, if you listen carefully, Saddam would still be in power if he were the president of the United States, and the world would be a lot better off." --George W. Bush, second presidential debate, St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8, 2004
  9. "As you know, we don't have relationships with Iran. I mean, that's -- ever since the late '70s, we have no contacts with them, and we've totally sanctioned them. In other words, there's no sanctions -- you can't -- we're out of sanctions." --George W. Bush, Annandale, Va, Aug. 9, 2004
  10. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004
  11. "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." —Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002
  12. “The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the — the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice.” — Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2003.
  13. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we should allow the world worst leaders to hold America hostage, to threaten our peace, to threaten our friends and allies with the world’s worst weapons.” — South Bend, Indiana, Sept. 5, 2002.

Bush on "Pot Calling Kettle Black"

"And they have no disregard for human life." -- George W. Bush, on the brutality of Afghan fighters, Washington, D.C., July 15, 2008

Bush is in denial

  1. "First of all, I don't see America having problems." -- George W. Bush, interview with Bob Costas at the 2008 Olympics, Beijing, China, Aug. 10, 2008

  2. "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties [in Iraq]." -- George W. Bush Discussing the Iraq war with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ritz-Carlton on Hold - Reflection on the Canadian real estate

“Ritz-Carlton Residences on West Georgia in downtown Vancouver stopped all excavation work.”

The excavation is about 60% completed when everyone is told to stop work and leave. All signage advertising the Residences at Ritz-Carlton have been removed from the site scaffolding and all construction trailers have been removed. The developer is saying that this is not due to any credit market problems (as we’ve seen in a number of other lower mainland condo developments). Although sales have been slow, financing is in place and there are enough presales to move ahead with the construction. Since they are going to be doing some ‘modifications to the design’, there’s no point in having work going ahead or having the presentation sales center open until the modifications are done.

Question is - Do you believe them?


Due to the panic which has dropped downward pressure on financial markets, a sense of emergency has emanated. While the governments are working expeditiously to restore the disappearing market confidence, their efforts have been mostly otiose. The few rebounds have been nothing more than an opportunity for people to unload their position and is little indication of a recovery.

I turn my attention to the local Canadian real estate market which has been holding up since market declined towards market stagnation dating back to January 2008. However, the optimism that seemed to have supported the hold-up dissipated in September when Lehman collapsed. Hit especially hard are those who have employed high leverage in an attempt to flip for a profit while the real estate market was red hot.

There were many developers who have invested heavily in home or office constructions with completion in 2008 to 2010. They are now stuck in a dilemma – on one hand, the construction costs have escalated to erase any potential profits and may even cause them to incur losses; on the other, the longer they drag it on, the more their long term liabilities will accumulate. To make matters worse, the banks are tightening their loan requirements making it very difficult to get construction loans.

For the investors, they are witnessing properties listed for several months without any market interest. Those who had originally laid the deposit for pre-sale units would rather choose to default, returning the problems back to the hands of the developers.

While the statistical numbers reported by the Canadian government has not shown any serious cause for concern, take note that their reporting cycle is always almost a quarter or two late. It is fair more accurate to get a feel of the market through direct observation.

But I can tell you now. The Canadian real estate market is already in recession with the worst yet to come.


If you are interested in doing research on condos, Condo-Advisory is a new site with plenty of reviews, rates and so forth. They may be lacking in pictures at the moment, but is expected to upload them soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Protected, Guaranteed and Returned - Do you know the difference?

If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.

When you are told that your investments are protected, secured and guaranteed, can you really tell the difference? Do you know what are “Principle Protected”, “Principle Guaranteed” and “Guaranteed Return”? If you are confused, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Let me try and break it down for you.


Principle protected funds are as the name suggests protected by secured backing. The type of secured backing involved depends on how each fund is structured. Some may be backed by investment grade (eg. AAA, AA, etc.) bonds while others may be backed by put options. As you probably know by now, the investment grading may be flawed while the put options are susceptible to market volatility.

Principle guaranteed funds have secure third parties like banks to provide a 100% guarantee of the principle sum. Of course if the guarantor folds, the guarantee also disappears. Therefore it is imminent to get a strong guarantor’s guarantee for the principle guaranteed fund to be truly secure.

Guaranteed return is, as its name suggests, a guaranteed amount of return on your investments. However, many people mistakenly assume that the guaranteed amount involves the principle.


Please read the fine print of the terms and conditions carefully to better understand the risk you are undertaking. If you are interested in getting a better understanding of the financial terms commonly used nowadays, you can read this Dictionary of Financial Terms.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Why do people go to watch Horror movies if it scares the hell out of them? Is it for the adrenaline rush that makes you feel alive? Or perhaps, we all have a little misanthropic nature in us allowing us to appreciate destruction. Some even say that such self-inflicted torture is purely an attempt to numb the pain we have to live with in reality.

Since before I can remember, I have grown somewhat addicted to horror flicks. There was a point in time when I was playing GO while the background music on my computer features the voices of howls and eerie suspense. My reasons for my preference for this genre is simple. They test your threshold for fear and to conquer them is in a way gaining courage. But, of course, there are some paranoia which some people will never get over. For me, I have needles.

If you ever find me breaking a chuckle during a movie or even falling asleep, it is because I have grown so immune to the trickeries of the horror film industries or otherwise known as horror cliches. Check these out:

  1. The Phone - If there is one thing horror movie killers are impressively adept at, it is planning ahead. Not to mention, their plans seem to become more and more elaborate and foolproof. They know that their victims will inevitably want to seek help thus making it almost a certainty that there will be a scene when the victim picks up the phone to discover..... someone has cut the line. Well played, slasher man..... And why is it that no one has cell phones or is conveniently in a no signal zone.
  2. "Lets split up". Does strength in numbers mean nothing to you? We already have several missing friends and someone figured that it would help us find them faster if we split up. Yes........ maybe in hell it would.
  3. "It probably is the wind". Yes, if someone ever made a movie about a vengeful wind.....
  4. "I'll be back". Isn't this another way of telling you, I am going to die next? And please. If someone tells you to "Sit tight", that's tantamount to telling you to stay put till the psycho comes for you.
  5. "Anyone there?". Maybe you were expecting him to answer, "Yes, it is your friendly neighbourhood psycho killer."
  6. Reflections are scary. Wash your face or brush your teeth, looking down for a split second. But beware when you come back up. You will find yourself looking at the mirror and we all know something is wrong.
  7. The Classic Car Getaway - Oh, thank goodness! The victim-to-be has made it to his/her car, gets the key inserted (after shakily trying three or four times), fires the ignition ... and griiiind. And again, griiiind. Oh, crap -- the killer's getting closer, but this auto just won't start! The killer's closer ... and closer ... and now he's at the door, reaching for the handle (or, even better, breaking the window) and ... success! The car starts, the lucky driver peels out.
  8. Black stands out. Sad to say, if you see a Black guy on the show, you know he is almost certainly the first to get the shaft. Maybe he is the most charming and intelligent guy, or the easily going frat compandre or possibly the most physically developed, it doesn't matter. Why? We live in a cruel, cruel and unjust world.
  9. There is NO ESCAPE!! As the script unfolds and horrific events kills one after another, body parts are flying, zombies taking over the town and still there must either be that special reason you are freaking choosing to stay. I mean if you have the option of running in the wild or hiding in the room and locking the door, you will pick to stay indoors. Yes, a lock is what will keep us safe in this case......
  10. "Killers NEVER die". I mean NEVER. Shoot them, stab them, run them over, burn them, cut them in half and bury them. Trust me. They will find their way back to hunt you.
  11. Killers are slow. While there is no question of their intelligence and even determination, the killers are anything but quick on their feet. They will stroll with a knife on their hand while you shriek and scramble to run. And yes, you will run and you will fall. Everyone is that clumbsy. If they get you, assuming you are the main lead, they will decide not to kill you plain straight and simply but put you in a situation which seems to be life threatening yet you will always escape.
  12. Killers are lovers of exotic weaponry such as knives, hooks and chainsaws. Perhaps they do it for the joy of watching the fears on faces while slowly draining the life out of their victims. One can only assume that they could care less for efficiency but rather quality of a kill since a gun would be quick and simple. Bang. Bang. Game over.
  13. Killers are like ghosts. Literally. When it is all over, the corpse of the supposedly dead killer mysteriously disappears. Yes, they may be severely hurt but they suddenly can tiptoe faster than they have been moving the whole show. Can you spell SEQUEL?

It is actually rather hilarious why we never get tired of cliches. And for you hardcore horror movie addicts, SAW V is coming out October 24th. Let's watch it together.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Recession in Canada - Signs

The experts are promulgating many esoteric ways to determine the financial condition of the economy. Here are some of my observations of Vancouver to determine that the Canadian economy is unhealthy and probably going to get worse despite what some may believe.

  1. The public transports such as the transit and skytrain systems are experiencing increased traffic while car traffic is considerably reduced. People are making the effort to save corners on transport.
  2. Restaurant reservations are no longer required even for the hotter spots. Meanwhile supermarkets are experiencing increased traffic. People are finding ways to cut back on spending unnecessarily outside. I have seen people holding smaller wedding during off-peak periods to try and save costs.
  3. No lineups for golf, spas and gyms. People are cutting back on luxurious pasttimes.
  4. Newspapers and magazines are featuring merchandizes with all sort of discounts and promotions. And if you pay attention, you will realize that the discounts and promotions are getting better with time.
  5. Real estate market is almost at a standstill even though the prices are still holding up. Even the Downtown properties in prime locations are on the market for months with literally no offers. Many home constructions have been suspended because of escalating construction costs, less loan availiability as well as a dwindling market. Other industries also affected include the mortgage, construction and housework.
  6. Government has decided to cut the interest rates half a percent this month and has indicated that they will cut again soon. What better indication is there than the government's actions?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


A simple board game like Monopoly can get pretty boring after a while. You simply have to learn how to spice it up. Here are some variations of the game rules:
  1. Crazy Eights - Roll an 8 and get to steal a property or $200 from someone
  2. Railroad Rush - Land on a Railroad and get to steal a property or $200 from someone or choose someone even yourself to go to jail.
  3. Jailers Domain - You can only build if you are in jail. Visiting does not count. You can build any number of house on any property. Doesn't need a set.  Or if you want to mix it with Railroad Rush, the rule should limit the number of houses allowed to build each trip to jail to one.
  4. Land on GO - First to land on GO wins.
  5. Snake eyes - Roll double 1s to steal someone's money. Roll 2 double 1s in a roll to steal someone's properties. Roll 3 double 1s in a roll and you forfeit the game.
  6. Devil's Hand - Roll double 6s to donate all your money to an opponent of your pick. Roll 2 double 6s in a roll to donate all your properties to the Bank. Roll 3 double 6s in a roll and you win the game.
  7. Perfect 10s - Roll a 10 and go to any property you want. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
This are purely suggestions, but you get the point. Come up with any rules or combination of rules to make the game work for you.

Have Fun!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I rather die.... laughing

Please give me a chance....

To show you that I rather die than live a day without you.

I had tried to cutting my wrist with a potato chip, banging my head against tofu, jumping off a building with a parachute and even hanging myself with a string of noodle. Yet each time, I ended failing.

Finally I realized this must be God's will. This is fate. And if you don't believe me, you can try what I did. If you fail, then we can be certain we were meant to be together.

Love admiably.


The Respect You Deserve

I was with a group of friends chatting when the topic drifted to you. Then there was a heated argument and we almost broke into a fight.

I couldn't take it because one of them said you look like a monkey and another said you look like a gorilla. They have all gone too far. They totally didn't show you the respect your pig looks deserve.


If I Can ....

I want to use the sun to warm you, the stars to dress you, the wine to intoxicate you, the food to satisfy you, fireworks to bloom you and bliss to drown you.

But I have given up my God status a long time ago. So lower your standards of what you want from me, please.


Don't Make Me Jump!!

A man sits on the edge of the rooftop of a building as he prepares to jump. Finally, the police manages to get his wife to the rooftop to try and talk to him,

"Honey, don't be rash. We still have our lives together and a long road ahead of us."

The man leeps off the building.

The police shakes his head and tells the wife, "You shouldn't have threatened him."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Changemakers - Making a difference

The other day, I stumbled upon a social innovation website, Changemakers. Changemakers, as its name suggests, focuses on providing solutions and resources needed to help everyone become a changemaker and presenting compelling stories that explore the fundamental principles of successful social innovation around the world.

There are plenty of informative resources to keep you occupied and I particularly found the following articles stimulating - "Alternative Currencies", "Financial Crisis - An Opportunity To Innovate" and "Imagine: A Bank Putting Your Money Where Your Heart Is".

The key here is these are real life problems we are reading about here. When you talk about making a difference in the world one small step at a time, this may be a good place to start.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hydrogen Power

Hydrogen powered Ford KA

While alternative fuels and electric automobiles are amongst the most anticipated next-evolution in the diversifying vehicle landscape over the next decade or two, let’s not forget that there is another option - the hydrogen-powered fuel cell.

In concept, a fuel cell is very much like a battery, except that it generates electricity electrochemically rather than just storing it. To do so, it must be replenished with fuel. In the case of automotive fuel cells, that fuel is hydrogen. Within the fuel cell it reacts with oxygen pumped through the system to create electricity and water. The electricity is used to power the vehicle and there are no other by-products except heat. No smog-forming emissions, no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.

Fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) research has been ongoing for somewhat 20 years. Mercedes-Benz was the first to seriously pursue the potential. Working closely with Canadian fuel-cell pioneer, Ballard Power Systems of Burnaby, B.C., the company produced a series of prototypes through the 1990s.

Through the years, many of the engineering issues like low-temperature start-ups and operation and driving range between fill-ups have been substantially resolved. But cost remains the major factor deterring this technology from commercializing.

One of the main issues leading to high costs is the process of Hydrogen extraction so that it can be used as fuel. The ideal cheapest solution would be the electrolysis of water using electricity generated by renewable means, such as solar, geo-thermal, tidal, or wind power.
Until that happens, the production of hydrogen incurs ancillary costs that must be weighed against any reduction in petroleum use.

In addition, there are the challenges of transportation and storage.

Even when contained at very high pressures (70 kPa or 10,000 psi for gaseous H2) or very low temperatures (-253C for liquid H2), hydrogen tanks must be considerably larger than those for gasoline to contain an equivalent quantity of energy. And in either gaseous or liquid form it cannot be transported or transferred as easily as gasoline, which is liquid at ambient temperature and pressure.

Then we have to factor in the competitive automotive markets. Despite hundreds of prototypes produced every year, until production volumes reach the levels of mass production (hundreds of thousands), FCEVs are likely to remain significantly more expensive than today's automobiles.

Another marketability hurdle is the Hindenberg incident 70 years ago which many people still bear a strong memory of. As a result, the modern day stigmatizes Hydrogen as a highly unstable gas when in fact, Hydrogen is actually less dangerous than other fuels, including gasoline. Being lighter than air at ambient temperature, it quickly dissipates when leaked into the atmosphere, rather than pooling in a concentrated mass that can ignite.

Depending on how it is produced, hydrogen has much to offer as a vehicle fuel. But along with it, the many obstacles lead me to believe that the future still belongs to the hybrids.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I have always been somewhat of a clean freak. My desire to be neat and clean has transgressed with time into a fetish. I believe my parents must have been as pleased as they were puzzled at their more diminutive son’s reticence to allow dirt house room. There is a certain allergy to impurities that give me goosebumps, induce me to wash, to bathe and to clean. My conviction was so stalwart that no amount of calluses and chastisements could have forced me to desist in my efforts.

Being neat has rendered me resistant to any big changes. Yet my life is anything but boring and mundane. My epiphanies have been many. They are the result of long periods of solitude and silence. They come almost everytime I clear my mind. And the source of my inspiration? I think it has to do with some kind of obsession with trying to link and associate everything together. I look at the clowd and maybe I see a circus, maybe I see a beautiful face or maybe I see the sun hiding behind it like a shy baby.

My lifetime has been short but eventful. I have travelled to many places, seen many things and dreamed every night. Yet, I stumple to pinpoint a single time as my defining moment. I say this because my life with you in it was not made of days and nights, not marked by dusk and dawn. Life is a single stream of consciousness, with integrity as the cornerstone of its beauty.

More than anything, we were content in each other’s company. Being content is the foundation of a long-lasting relationship. Yes, this was an epiphany too. It made monotony bearable. It made life fulfilling and enjoyable. It made the world beautiful. And the day I saw you, waves and waves of ephiphanies consumed me.

And being content is taking whatever dirty laundry you have. Maybe I will get it cleaned today. Or maybe tomorrow. In that sense, you took away my fetish and made me less of a freak.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Terms of marriage

One day, a group of male friends gathered for a drink. After a few glasses, they started complaining of the stress at work and the boring life after marriage. One of them asked, “What if you can choose the terms of marriage like a work contract? How long would you want the contract to be?”

There was instant silence. Everyone was caught in his own thoughts trying to figure out what kind of terms should them limit the marriage to. 1 year? 5 years? Or maybe 10?

One guy who recently got wed replied, “I guess 5 years is the most logical. It gives us enough time to get used to each other and by that time, we would know if we are meant to be together.”

Many followed his logic, but there were two who enjoyed single life way too much suggested a one year probation period.

Finally they came to the guy who hasn’t spoken a word the whole night. He sighed and answered, “Let it be eternity then.”

Everyone moved closer to make sure their ears deceive them not. First came shock then bursts of laughter. The question followed, “Why?”

Taking in a deep breath, he composed himself and explained, “For the first, two years of marriage you will enjoy the newly found independence and marital bliss. With time, in 5 or 10 years, the raw passion erodes and love changes gradually into a form of responsibility towards your family. But there is a fundamental difference between men and women. With age, men gains maturity and financial stability. Women usually end up at home giving up their youth and career prospects for their off-springs. In the case of divorce, it would be very unfair to the ladies and your innocent kids. To me, a divorce is a selfish decision. The worst kind.”

The other men were left speechless.

“And one day many, many years from now, when you look at her face, you will realize what she has sacrificed for this family and remember why you married her. You will look at the joyful children and thank God for giving you something so special. You will think back to how wonderful your life has been because you two walked the road together. Maybe things are not that great sometimes. Think about it."

He paused briefly before a silly smile breaks out.

"With time, you will learn to cherish what marriage brings. Even an eternity is too short."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Wii Necklace & Earrings

For you techno geeks out there stuck in a dilemma because of a birthday coming up or some cosplay event, San Antonio’s NBsCloset has created quite an accessory for you. The Wii necklace is custom cut and etched from fiber boards using a (frickin’) laser beam.

Of course, with a necklace, you need a pair of earrings to go with it. These gaming icons will help you claim your elite status among the hardcore gamers.

If you are still unsatisfied and want more, you can check out the other available designs at the Etsy shop.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Paris Hilton advises Sarah Palin on fashion

"My advice to Sarah Palin is, you've got a hot bod; don't keep it to yourself. Why wear a pantsuit when you can wear a swimsuit? Welcome to the Lower 48, girlfriend."

--- Paris Hilton gives fashion advice to Republican V.P. nominee and Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, in the new issue of Harper's Bazaar

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ways to call someone dumb.

  1. A few clowns short of a circus
  2. A few fries short of a happy meal
  3. An experiment in Artificial Stupidity
  4. A few beers short of a six pack
  5. Dumber than a box of hair
  6. Doesn't have all his cornflakes in one box
  7. The wheel's spinning but the hamster's dead
  8. Not the coldest beer in the fridge
  9. One Fruit Loop shy of a full bowl
  10. All foam, no beer
  11. Has an IQ of 2 but it takes 3 to grunt
  12. Couldn't pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel
  13. An intellect rivaled only by garden tools
  14. Has the IQ of a house plant
  15. As smart as bait
  16. Chimney's clogged
  17. Elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor
  18. His antenna doesn't pick up all the chanels
  19. Proof that evolution can go in reverse
  20. Not the sharpest tool in the shed
  21. The lights are on but no-one's home
  22. The light at the end of the tunnel has been extinguished
  23. 2 sticks short of a bundle
  24. A few pints short of a quart
  25. Cables connected, no voltage
  26. Swimming in the shallow end of the gene pool
  27. One neuron short of a synapse

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Going public with IPOs

While public companies appear to be more glamorous and well-known, they may entail higher risk as well as less stability than private companies. Let us examine the pros and cons of getting an IPO (Initial Public Offering) :

  • Increased capital
  • Improved financial position
  • Reduced personal funding and guarantees
  • Public company status
  • Marketability of shares
  • Business succession
  • Better employee morale and productivity
  • Increased pressure to improve growth and maintain profit
  • Disclosure of information and additional compliance requirements
  • Dilution of control
  • Listing cost


As an owner or shareholder of a private company, before committing to obtaining an IPO, you need to weigh you options, the pros and cons of an IPO as well as consider in accordance with the goals and prospects of the company. Usually a successful IPO listing involves,
  • A track record of revenue growth
  • Capable leadership
  • An experienced and credible management team
  • Operations in a strong industry with potential for high performance.
However, it is difficult to accomplish the above-listed prerequisites for success. The track record of revenue growth may be misleading when the market is on an upward trend. Since the quality of the leaders and team are measured by their profit-generating capabilities, they too tend to mislead in a booming cycle. With that in mind, we can see the importance of evaluating the strength of an industry and its future potential to judge the true value of the public stock.

One thing many people fail to understand is that a truly successful and stable business does not need to go public to attract new capital (unless it is of a substantial amount). Doing so will not only undermine their control of the company, increases their accountability to shareholders but more important it will expose the secrets of their success to competitors. If there is urgency to go public, it usually is for the purpose of a quick profit (early exit), serious need for capital (burnt out accounts needing new funds injection) or financial leverage (higher risk but if successful generates high returns).

So before you believe everything you read or hear in the news, learn about the foundations of these mega-corporations to have a better grasp of the true extent of the risk you are undertaking.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Colbert Report: Interview with God

Stephen Colbert: Good evening. It is time for the Colbert Report. We have a very distinguished guest here today and he is very pressed for time so let’s have a warm welcome for he who doesn’t need to ask permissions, the consistent and omnipresent peeper, the one who sets all the rules and makes no mistakes, the one and only, Your Holiness.

The walk-down music plays “Bad” by Michael Jackson. A beam of light rests on his seat as he descends from above. He is gracious and surprisingly young for the most powerful being.

GOD: (waits patiently as the applauds and grasps fade off) Steve, are you mocking me?

Stephen: I wouldn’t dare. But, I wanted to see if you really can’t get mad.

GOD: (calmly smiling) My temper is quickly offset with forgiveness.

Stephen: (his hand brushing his forehead) Thanks God, what a relief. It has been common assumption that the God is perfect. But it sounds like you still experience anger and grief?

GOD: Perfection is a myth as are many things. Everything has an effect on me. It is the only way I can stay involved, continue to learn and improve.

Stephen: So there is room for learning and improvement, even for God?

GOD: (glowing brighter) There always is. Otherwise Steve, it would get really boring, wouldn’t it?

Stephen: By the way, nice glow. (crowd applause again then fade) So I understand this is your first appearance on TV. Why have you decided to make a public appearance on my show?

GOD: Well, I have been getting many hate prayers lately and I feel it is time for me to address some issues. By the way, I am giving you this honor because your ironic style and deep-pan humor largely resembles my own.
Crowd bursts into laughter and cheers.

Stephen: Thanks, I try my best. Anyways, it is a difficult time for us all, people without money, food, homes and cars. We may even get a black president.

GOD: Believe me. I know. First things first, I have to make sure you understand that I cannot interfere with anything that happens on Earth - the restrictions of free will.

Stephen: Doesn’t God have the free will to do whatever he wants?

GOD: That only applies to normal people. We (let me call us the outsiders) have to respect people’s free will. Technically, we are spectators. However, we are allowed to play with our influence.

Stephen: So let me get this clear, even the devil needs to respect us? There is a devil, isn’t there?

GOD: (getting excited, glow brightens) Yes, she does. We have meetings and dinners all the time. But it is my preferance to have her over rather than me going down there. As a matter of fact, she likes to turn up the heat at her place which makes it too unbearable to stay there even for a second.
The crowd murmurs in disbelief but quickly settles down, curious to hear more.

Stephen: The two of you are friends? We always thought you two are on bad terms, the bane of each other's existence.

GOD: We are adversaries but also friends and colleagues. Try and see us as the balance of each other’s power to make sure there is not too much good or too much evil.

Stephen: So the devil is female. Interesting. Does she have a name?

GOD: I call her D and she calls me G.

Stephen: Are there other immortals?

GOD: No, it is just us. You see, the good will eventually become part of me and the evil, part of her. It is just two of us and all of you. In the end, it is still just about balance.

Stephen: So if everything is about balance, let me assume that there is really no such thing as good triumphs evil.

GOD: That depends on how you interpret that saying but the point is there is hardly ever any pure good or evil. If there are, good will triumphs evil as much as evil triumphs good.

Stephen: I see. So tell me more about your dinners.

GOD: It is really quite similar to your dinners. We meet up at night but we immortals do not need food. You can say the dinner is time for us to share how our day went.

Stephen: Sounds like a couple’s thing.

GOD: (laughs) Maybe it is.

Stephen: Does she tell you that she is destroying the world? With the world facing problems like hunger, global warming and wars, some people are asking why is God not doing anything. How do you respond to that?

GOD: All I can say is that everything happens for a reason. The most important thing is not to lose hope.

Stephen: Is that enough to make things better?

GOD: (laughs) At least it doesn’t make things worse. Hope is the glue that holds things together and it creates the drive to change for the better. Without hope, life would be more or less like death.

Stephen: Thanks for explaining. So with infinite time, what else do you work on other than listening to prayers and meetings?

GOD: A little bit of this and that. D and I have been trying to work on the design of the universe and fix all those holes. We also have other projects to keep us busy.

Stephen: That makes sense. But the devil as part of the creation team, who could have imagined? By other projects, you are referring to other lifeforms in other planets? Or maybe another Universe?

GOD: We have infinite creations, each different in their own way - Life, planets, universe and dimensions. The good thing is the free will universal law applies regardless where and when. That means they live their lives and you live yours.

Stephen: Can you elaborate on what the others are like? I am sure the audience would love to learn more.

GOD: (laughs) How long is your program? Sorry, I have let on more than I should. Those are classified information and D wouldn't like it.

Stephen: At least tell us this: as your subjects, how are we faring in comparison with others?

GOD: Sorry, I can’t answer that either. I am not here to lay judgement.

Stephen: I can't say I am not disappointed. It seems like you are avoiding half of my questions.

GOD: (laughs) Maybe because you are asking the wrong ones.

Stephen: So what would be a right question?

GOD: (laughs louder) Steve, I think you are getting better already.

Stephen: (showing disdain) You sound like you don’t have any of the answers.

Suddenly a flash of light zaps across the room, hitting a wall.

GOD: (snickers) You are a brave man, Steve. But be careful. I have been known to smite people.

There is complete silence as everyone sits in awe of his peaceful wrath. Everyone in the studio held their breathe. Seconds crept by.

Devil: (In a thunderous roar) G! How many times must I tell you to practice more. It is embarassing that you keep missing? Do you want me to blast him for you?

GOD: Oh man, got to go. Stephen, take my advice and hide. She throws quite a tantrum. Pray if you need me. (hands together as he looks up.)

Stephen: Wait!! Just hold on!!

Orchestras of Halleluyahs start to sing. Above, a beam of light hurriedly drops and envelops the holiness. Before you know it, the light has drawn back and the seat is empty. Murmurs and shock remain.

Stephen: (wiping off the sweat on his face) Oh God, I guess that’s all the time we have today. Thank you for joining.

Stephen Colbert sprints off chased by echoes of thunders. Never to be heard of again.

Monday, October 6, 2008

US dollar rises, Yen quietly follows

Oil prices briefly fell to an eight-month low below $90 (U.S.) a barrel Monday on speculation that the spreading financial crisis will exacerbate a global economic slowdown and cut demand for crude oil. Another reason for the slumping oil prices is that the U.S. dollar has experienced significant gains against the Euro.

The sudden spike in U.S. currency value on Monday may not come as a surprise to many. Growing investor anxiety that the U.S. bad debt crisis is enveloping Europe and the rescue package is insufficient to respond to growing global economic woes caused the world stock markets to plunge on Monday. Players from hedge funds to major financial institutions are liquidating assets abroad and repatriating U.S. dollars to shore up their balance sheets. The $700 Billion rescue package which is basically a loan from other countries, forces them to exchange their own currencies for U.S..

A stronger U.S. dollar may not be all that bad. It means that the commodities’ prices will drop thus curbing inflation globally. As inflation is curbed, governments around the world would be able to cut their interest rate in the effort of unfreezing the credit markets . The big question is whether these are enough to stop the global recession.

Interesting to note is that the Yen is the only currency holding strong as the increase in rates like LIBOR and drop in credit is forcing speculators to close out carry trades and pay back yen-dominated loans. Carry trades became popular as swings in exchange rates fell to record lows because there was less risk that rapid changes would wipe out profits. Things have certainly changed at the blink of an eye.

So for now, the U.S. dollar should continue to grow against the Euro as the European governments have their hands full trying to save failing banks and their financial system. The Yen should quietly follow.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One centimeter more

The stars are out tonight. So faintly, so dreamy - but they were there. If I only reached a centimeter further, I would have touched one, burned myself on its beauty and unionized in its understanding.

But the answer isn't found in a shiny dime - the answers aren't above, they're here. You only have to reach out that centimeter more.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Good or Bad? Just a state of mind.

How important is you state of mind? In a world where things never cease to let you down and dreams are constantly shattered, one must learn to derive the best of the situation. Success brings joy, failure experience. Forever is a promise, but so is never. The concept of this sort of inabsolute time escapes many. Clarity of thought. Sometimes that is so envied and sometimes it is so achieved.

Life as always is bittersweet. All good things come to an end. When something lifts you up, there always has to be that one thing to bring you down again. When you are in the dumps, life finds a small glitter of light, just enough to make you feel better. And after it all, you come away with a litte more appreciation of everything good and bad.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Missing you

I looked at the old oak tree through my window as my left hand touches the emptiness beside me on my bed. I can no longer feel my heart as the disappointment once again kills me. This morning like every morning brings me hope only to leave me with loneliness. I reach for my glasses and drag myself out of bed. Still..... a part of me wishes I never got up.

"You taught me love. You showed me love. But you never showed nor taught me how to stop."

This day is like every other day. Waking up is like a curse. The sun is no longer as bright as it used to be. Nothing is. Yet so much has happened lately.

I have finished composing our song “Hestia”, a beautiful duet piano piece that you would love. It is soft and sweet as you are. My hope is that one day there will be two people that can play it and share the love that we had.

I have done some renovations around the house but I have kept our room the same way it was. The greenhouse is completed, filled with your favourite lilies that I have grown. Yes, I have become quite good with flowers. I talk to them like I am talking to you now.

My dear, I live my life together with yours. I have tried to learn and do everything you wanted to do. But I have aged and is running out of time. My hair, what is remaining, is mostly white. They remind me that time still moves on even if my heart doesn’t. My eyes are growing weak and soon, they will be gone. But they do not matter, I do not need eyes to remember how beautiful you are, to see you. I can still hear you calling me every morning and putting me to sleep every night. It is easy because you have always been by my side and in my heart.

My love, you can't possibly imagine how much I miss you. Remember the old oak tree outside our home? We once stood there and dreamed of a home, our home. We have once kissed and cried there with tears of happiness the day our dream came true. There, you made me the happiest man when you told me I was going to be a dad. The oak tree has been our love's witness. It understands how each little thing that reminds me of you makes me miss you more.
Soon, we will be together again. I promise.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Over the phone, you sound like God

Time for some laughs. Check these phone lines out:
  1. What? No signal? Hold on. I'll get my pilot to fly the copter higher.
  2. I told you many times before, never call me about deals that are less than 10 billion. Let the doorman sign the contract and next time if this happens again, I am deducting the phone bill from your pay.
  3. Baby, are you sure $5 million daily allowance is enough? Call me if you need more.
  4. Sorry I am late. My bodyguards insist our meeting in person will be a breach on the security parameters set and would potentially leave me vulnerable. But for you, I fired them.
  5. What do you mean this is an emergency? Wait, this is an emergency. My phone is dying.
  6. I just called you to tell you to never call me again. Don't worry, I will remind you again tomorrow.
  7. Sorry? You are asking for money, aren't you? You got the wrong number. I am not a fool.
  8. Hello? (pretending not to hear anything) Damn this phone and its allergy to ugly people. Hello? Hello?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Eureka: a World of possibilities

One of my favourite Sci-fi series. The story is based on a top-secret town of geniuses that work on the frontline of evolutionary breakthroughs.

Colin Ferguson plays Sheriff Jack Carter, a US Marshall who unwittingly ends up as Sheriff of Eureka. Jack is consistently dumbfounded by the wonders Eureka produces, as well as their propensity to produce things that often threaten the entire town, if not the world. Despite being an average man in a town full of geniuses, Jack's admittedly stupid ideas often save the day.

And here you have it. Colin Ferguson giving an introduction to the show. Give it a try. You will be amazed.

Stupidity VS Intelligence

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are dead sure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

The intelligent are full of doubt because they know the limitations of what they do know or understand and the extent of their ignorance. The stupid, on the other hand, knows only their blind self-confidence and stubbornness.

Take for example democracy. We have a group of less intelligent or stupid that thinks they are voting for the intelligent to help them run the country for the betterment of the society. Yet as it turns out, the voters are the intelligents as they know their limitations. The so-called leaders are nothing more than a package of superiority hiding the fact that they are equally clueless or even more so.

Or maybe, it would be more accurate to define the intelligent and stupid as a never-ending cycle. Sooner or later, the stupid grows intelligent and the intelligent grows stupid.  Maybe it would be easier to just think that everyone is intelligent, with the ability to distinguish right and wrong, and to learn from mistake and what it means to be human. 

My life is exemplified by many mistakes. And they are mistakes of my ignorance. But, at least, I am willing to learn to change.