Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thankgiving - A man trampled to death

Jdimytai Damour, a 270 pound man, was trampled to death by rabid shoppers at a Wal-Mart in Long Island this past Friday.

Now, stampedes happen from time to time. In a time of panic, when people are desperately fleeing to a new area, it makes sense that sometimes people get hurt. You hear about it occasionally on the news: pilgrims trampled in Ramadan pilgrimage. Nigerians tramped in riot. Religious pilgrimages are emotional events usually in a poor country with people at their wits end scrounging for food.

But bear in mind, this is in Long Island. In US. Over Wal-Mart merchandise. On Thanksgiving.

Cause? Shoppers eager to get their hands on cheap, chinese-made goods literally broke down the store's glass doors, running over Damour. Yet, as people after people stepped over a man lying in a pile of glass, they would not stop. They can not stop as the back current rushed them in.

Now, I know the economy is bad. But, there will only be a small group of shoppers that are depending on Wal-Mart's holiday's discount in order to survive. Most of this insane mob of shoppers are probably looking for slashed prices on electronics, outdoor gears and clothing.

Thanksgiving used to be a time when people gave thanks for what they were given. Instead, now it has become a time when a man's life is brutally taken. Let us remember that even in the worst times, human lives are still the most important.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Death of the gentleman

Definition of a good man:

"The man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe."

~ John Walter Wayland ~


Kudos to the death of the gentleman. Manners are overrated, replaced by efficiency nowadays. The Media make their daily outcries at the loss of cultural grace and style while the ladies (what pass for one nowadays) stick up their complaints of the extinction of good men. Meanwhile, I am left with self-evaluation on where I stand on the gauge of class and social etiquette.

Class to me represents a level of dignity. As I have observed, dignity is a scarce commodity nowadays. I mean you find yourself either in the company of street punks, corporate wolves or political asses. Neither is a paradigm fitting of class.

Now there is a reason why women love bad boys. Bad boys are rushes of adrenaline, bursts of spontaneity and surprises or just plainly they make you feel alive. Gentlemen bestow upon others respect and courtesy, but leave you feeling nothing more than a little flattered. Yet after runs and runs of bad boys, after the adrenaline runs dry and all that is left is your broken heart, you will begin to yearn for that little respect that all humans deserve. By this time, you find that good men are few and usually taken. You cry a river and curse their death, but it is all too little too late.

Good men finish last. This is no longer just a saying, this is a fact. As men realize that they are losing out to be kind, sweet and loving, many deflect to the dark side. The few that are remaining either do not have what it takes to be bad to the bone or still possess inherent self-worth and pride. This means that it is either a since of weakness or seeking a person bearing similar values.

Forgive me if I am singing a little self praise. I will admit I have done my share of regrettable mistakes in my limited relationships which I constantly wish I can do over. Many a times, I still let my desires take the better of me only to recover in the nick of time. If I am a gentleman, I am by no means a typical one; I have forgone on many of the superficial manners which would otherwise make me hypocritical. In other words, I try to show respect not necessarily in traditional ways. Some may disapprove of my standards but who ever said respect is one thing and not another? Regardless, I am content to carry myself with a certain self respect and confidence which I hope I can transcend upon others. If all else fails, my conscience is still there to keep me in line. Maybe, that is enough to consider myself as a gentleman.

So my distinguished ladies, if you will lend me your ears. As a close to extinct species, I ask in the greatest humbility, that you will participate in the preservation of our gentle kind. We might be an embodiment of excitement and fun, but in our defence, we will provide you with warmth of constancy, the deepest appreciation of all your qualities and a love we will carry to our graves.


A little humor to brighten your day, a little courtesy goes a long way.
  • Ladies are not ‘air heads’. They are ‘reality impaired’.

  • Ladies are not ‘bad cooks’. They are ‘microwave compatible’.

  • Ladies are not ‘bleached blondes’. They are ‘peroxide dependent’.

  • Ladies are not ‘cold or frigid’. They are ‘thermally inaccessible’.

  • Ladies are not ‘conceited’. They are ‘intimately aware of her best qualities’.

  • Ladies are not ‘dumb’. They are a ‘detour off the information superhighway’.

  • Ladies are not ‘too skinny’. They are ‘skeletally prominent’.

  • Ladies do not ‘gain weight’. They are ‘metabolic underachievers’.

  • Ladies do not ‘go shopping’. They are ‘mall fluent’.

  • Ladies do not ‘hate televised sports’. They are ‘athletically ignorant’.

  • Ladies do not ‘have a mustache’. They are ‘in touch with their masculine side’.

  • Ladies do not ‘nag you’. They become ‘verbally repetitive’.

  • Ladies do not ‘tease or flirt’. They engage in ‘artificial stimulation’.

  • Ladies do not ‘wear too much makeup’. They have reached ‘cosmetic saturation’.

  • Ladies do not ‘wear too much perfume’. They commit ‘fragrance abuse’.

  • Ladies do not get ‘drunk or tipsy’. They get ‘chemically inconvenienced’.

  • Ladies do not get ‘fat or chubby’. They achieve ‘maximum density’.

  • Ladies do not want to be ‘married’. They want to lock you in ‘domestic incarceration’.

  • Ladies do not wear ‘too much jewelry’. They are ‘metallically overburdened’.

  • Ladies have not ‘been around’. They are ‘previously enjoyed companions’.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


The moon lingers in anticipation, the night deep.

The city is bright as always, but surprisingly quiet. Sometimes cars roar by, blinding me with hazes of lights. A second later, all is quiet. Again.

The night likes hide and seek. More hiding than seeking. I like the night as it offers solace for the real me.

The night is cold, leaving loneliness bare and awake. And it is brave to look solitude in the eye and appreciate what it brings. Sometimes it will feel scarily unreal, but the real you thrives in the night. I learn the most about the real me at the darkest hours of the night.

Everything between the sunset and sunrise lulls me to a serene clarity of mind. It awakens hidden senses, amplifies intuition and induces thinking. Most of all, it leaves plenty of room for reminiscence. It is when the old me and new me lives in harmony. It is when the roads I have walked and yet to walk converge. It is when my mistakes know that they were wrong and move on. It is when I find courage while drowned in fear.

The night never sleeps. Neither do I.

Bankruptcy in the Cards

An email I have received lately talked about redemption of gift cards which ties in with my belief that the rate of bantrupcies and store closings will climb dramatically on or directly after January. Read more below.


I wanted to give everyone a heads up that if you tend to give gift cards around the holidays, you need to be careful that the cards will be honored after the holidays. Stores that are planning to close after Christmas are still selling the cards through the holidays even though the cards will be worthless January 1. There is no law preventing them from doing this. On the contrary, it is referred to as 'Bankrupcy Planning'. Below is a partial list of stores that you need to be cautious about.
  • Circuit City (filed Chapter 11)
  • Ann Taylor- 117 stores nationwide closing
  • Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine's to close 150 stores
  • Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January
  • Cache will close all stores
  • Talbots closing down specialty stores
  • J. Jill closing all stores (owned by Talbots)
  • Pacific Sunwear (also owned by Talbots)
  • GAP closing 85 stores
  • Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January
  • Wickes Furniture closing down
  • Levitz closing down remaining stores
  • Bombay closing remaining stores
  • Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January
  • Whitehall closing all stores
  • Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
  • Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.
  • Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ ( New Brunswick)
  • Macys to close 9 stores after January
  • Linens and Things closing all stores
  • Movie Galley Closing all stores
  • Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
  • Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores
  • JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
  • Et han Allen closing down 12 stores.
  • Wilson Leather closing down all stores
  • Sharper Image closing down all stores
  • K B Toys closing 356 stores
  • Loews to close down some stores
  • Dillard's to close some stores
I thought you might find the following article from interesting: Bankruptcy in the cards

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Back to Demand and Supply:

There are two types of demand for RE, physical and speculative. The former represents people who literally need a roof over their head. Most people either rent or own, so other than new arrivals we are looking at first time buyers and trade up buyers. Speculative demand includes all those who are buying with the expectation of price increase. This includes not only investors, but home owners who are only buying to avoid being priced out. What has happened to the demand causing all these undigested RE inventories?

Speculative demand has taken a hit from the suffering global financial crisis which suggests that there will not be any price increases anytime soon (short jerks discounted). It may even be accurate to say that speculative demand will die off and would not get resurrected until prices trends have turned around accelerating upwards again. If you ask me for a timeline, cycles suggest that it may take 7-10 years from peak to peak with metropolitans like Vancouver taking shorter strides.

What about Physical demand? Let’s face it, average Joes do not and can not buy 2, 3 or 4 homes. They buy the one primary to stay in, and if the need arises and finances allow, they may upgrade (which means one sale, one purchase). This accentuates the fact that there has been excessive buying. The bases are full. Ownership rate is up because there has been borrowed demand from the future with people who would normally buy condos in their late 20's buying in their early 20's.

What can we do about all these RE inventories? They definitely are not conducive to a healthy real estate market. First we have to acknowledge that inventory is always a lagging indicator which means that it does not react immediately to the crunch of demand. By the time inventories start to become a problem, demand is almost completely dried up. Now, without a balance in demand and supply, there is simply no sensible way to stabilize the RE market let alone move towards recovery.

When talking about balancing demand and supply, the key lies in pricing. By pricing, I am referring to the value in which they can realistically sell for. Take British Columbia for example. 8% completed sales of the listed is hardly indicative of what is the price that balances demand and supply. As discussed above, demand is basically dead leaving the increasing supply undigested. If you think things are bad now, just ponder over the following

B.C. (or more specifically Vancouver) is heavily tilted to small companies and branch offices. Smaller companies also operate with tighter margins so when the going gets tough they cut jobs faster than big companies. Also, when big companies cut, it usually target their branches and secondary employees first. Certainly bad news for Vancouver, even if there aren't as many high profile layoffs as Ontario.

With increasing joblessness, there will be even less demand. Also, there will be an increase numbers of loan delinquencies both commercial and personal, which means that there will be an increase in foreclosures. No matter how the Canadian government chooses not to acknowledge this fact, this result becomes more inevitable with each day.

Somehow I find what's happening to Vancouver now a good thing. Money should go to R&D and other industries beside real estate. Vancouver for the past 3-4 years felt like Hong Kong before the 97 financial crisis: so much money, so many expensive cars on the road, city filled with a false notion of easy money and a severe lack of investments in infrastructure for the economy's future growth. This downturn is a bubble popped, for the collective good of the economy, the people and serious idea/innovation driven economy.

We still have a problem to solve. In midst of the looming supply boom and pricing collapse, what can we do? We have to find some way of stimulating demand. Lucky for us, Vancouver is still one of the best and most disirable places to live in the world. We always have the option of loosening our limitations on immigration (which would mean reducing health care and social services as well) so as to generate new home owner’s demand. New immigrants will also improve the business conditions in BC thus creating the much needed jobs.

So at the end of the day, what can we take away from this experience? I know I have learned to be thankful that I am residing in Canada. I have also gained a new found respect for the conservative approach my dad has always preached.

Understanding Pre-sales

Buying into a pre-sale development was a sure thing when the market was all hype. People were lining up for days just to be the first to buy the next hot development. Needless to say, many do not even have the time to clearly read and understand the terms in which they agree upon. Yet novice investors that had no idea what they were doing were looking and sounding like savvy investors. Self serving Realtors were pushing pre-sales as the gold standard of real estate investment, preaching about the 2-5-10* warranty, without really knowing what that the warranty covered. No one was complaining, at least not when new assignees were in abundance and so were profits.

Some investors thought they were above the game, choosing to cut out buyer’s agents and go direct to the developer’s sales people, many of which are not even licensed realtors. With fancy promotions and logos, buyers were tricked into believing that they were getting special offers. Suddenly, mega marketeers like Bob Rennie become epitome of the successful real estate investor. Many think that they can be like Donald Trump only to find themselves left holding the bag so to speak when they can’t assign their contracts. They will have to complete, and depending on how many pre-sales they wrote contracts on, their closing costs could be multiplied, plus they’ll be on the hook for GST on the purchase price.

With the exception of the few investors who knew what they were getting into, most pre-sale investors fail to see the associated downfalls. You enter into a two year or so contract with no certainty that the project will be on time or even completed. For late deliveries, all you can do is wait. If the project collapses, all you get is your deposit back(no interest). There is also no certainty that the product will turn out the way the showroom portrayed it to be with many developers cutting corners to save profits especially with escalating costs and slowing market. The only thing guaranteed in a pre-sale contract is the developer cannot change the agreed upon sale price. GST is payable on all brand new property. This is extra cost that is hard to get back in a flat or down market.

So, it is not surprising to see a lot of pre-sale buyers walk away and give up their deposits. They are basically in breach of contract and will be liable for any losses incurred by the developers as a result. However, in the case that it goes to court, the judge will ask for the actual losses incurred excluding lawyer fees and consider the deposit to be paying for the losses. Even if the developer does win, the compensation amount he receives will often be too meagle to make hiring a lawyer an option. So pending a market collapse of over 20% market value, it is actually advisable to walk away now instead of getting stuck with a property at the start of the down cycle.

* 2-5-10 Warranty was developed as the minimum home warranty insurance for new home constructions not being built by the home owners themselves. The two year portion covers the labour and materials of the home. In general, this includes electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning etc. The 5 year portion covers the building envelope against unintended water penetration. The 10 year portion covers the structure of the home.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thriller Commercial 2008

Second bailout for CitiBank

If you are interested to see how the credit crisis is affecting the world, check out Reuter's map on Global Financial Crisis.
On Monday, Wall Street put aside its worries, at least for a day. Citigroup’s share price, which had plunged to a mere $3.77 on Friday, shot up to $5.95. Shares of its biggest rivals — banks which, with the government’s help, are emerging to dominate the industry — also soared. Bank of America jumped 27 percent, JPMorgan Chase leapt 21 percent and Wells Fargo gained nearly 20 percent.

In the short term, the latest effort(a multi-million dollar backstop) to steady Citigroup has removed the risk that a sudden failure of the giant bank would send losses cascading through the financial industry.

But longer term, the new bailout could haunt regulators and taxpayers. The move ultimately may encourage banks to take more risks in the belief that the government will step in if they run into trouble.

Below is a message delivered by Jonathan Larson, CEO of CitiBank Singapore Ltd.

November 24, 2008

To: Customers of Citibank Singapore Limited

Dear Customer,

In light of the recent and unprecedented volatility in the world's financial markets, I am writing to update you on Citi's continuing financial strength and our commitment to serve all of your financial needs.

Much has happened during the last year as the global financial crisis has unfolded. At Citi, we took decisive and early action to prepare ourselves to weather these tough times through significantly strengthening our capital and liquidity positions. Governments around the world have also responded to the financial crisis by providing explicit support to the banking systems. So you should rest assured that your deposits are safe with us.
  • Deposit Guarantee: In Singapore, the Government has announced that individual and corporate customers of licensed banks, including Citibank Singapore Limited and Citibank NA, Singapore branch, will enjoy protection of the full amount of their eligible deposits.
  • Our Capital: At Citi, while we have taken significant asset write-downs, we have also increased our capital by US$85 billion. Taking this into account, Citi's Tier 1 pro forma capital adequacy ratio is approximately 10.4%, which not only exceeds regulatory requirements but also makes us one of the most well capitalized banks in the world.
Citibank Singapore Limited is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and, as such, is subject to all prudential and other requirements applicable to banks in Singapore. The locally-incorporated Citibank Singapore Limited maintains S$1.5 billion in paid-up capital and over S$3.2 billion in shareholders' funds at the end of the second quarter. Its Tier 1 capital ratio is 15%, which is far in excess of the minimum requirement as prescribed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
  • Our Liquidity: Citi has a unique and diversified universal bank model with over 200 million customer accounts in over 100 countries, which gives us strong and stable operating income, US$780 billion in deposits, unparalleled access to funding, and, as a result, extraordinary levels of liquidity. In addition, like other banks in the United States, we have access to lines of liquidity through the U.S. Federal Reserve.
  • Our Balance Sheet and Ratings: Citi's balance sheet is in excess of US$2 trillion, and our credit rating is among the highest in the world for a financial institution or otherwise.
As for recent movements in Citi's stock price, the safety of your deposits with any bank is not dependent on its stock price. Rather, a bank's ability to meet its obligations is dependent on having strong capital and liquidity. We have carefully reviewed our potential exposures under a wide variety of stress scenarios and are highly confident that between our capital, liquidity and continuing strong operating cash flows, we will maintain our financial strength through these difficult times.

Citi has an almost 200 year history of leadership throughout the world, and we have been serving customers in Asia for over 100 years. We look forward to serving you in the years to come.

Driving your success is what drives us. That's why Citi never sleeps.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. (Wii)

TOS2 is out barely a week and has been getting thumbsup all over the place. This is what I would consider a successful sequel.

There is a new monster system in place which will certainly keep players occupied trying to get their favourite pets to evolve to their most powerful forms. The pet monster system is very popular in recent games, so I find.

There are also very hilarious and interesting dialogues along the journey which help explain a lot of the histories and relationships with a few jokes here and there.

Adding the "Free Roaming" concept from Vesperia and Abyss nicely augments the already enjoyable, mash-happy combat system, and simplifying the multicharacter Unison Attacks will surely appeal to Chrono Trigger fans. However, I find it difficult at times because the target lock basically controls your character's movement directions.

TOS2 is not difficult but definitely offers many hours of fun. After completion of the game, there is the grade shop which will allow you to buy special upgrades with the grade points you accumulated through the game for your repeat. Trust me, you will want to repeat the game.

Since Wii is not particularly known for their RPGs, TOS2 is actually a Godsend probably only topped by Zelda. The hefty price tag however may be a damper for some. But I do not believe there have been any complaints that it is not worth every cent.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Buried secrets

This evening, the gloaming is punctuated by the reflection of orange and blue horizons. My heart flutters in deep anticipation. Finally, after all the sleepless nights waiting and countless days......

I never liked wearing a watch. Counting the seconds is as excruciating as strolling on fire or dancing on broken glass. Hardly anything is worth that pain. But today, I am wearing a watch.

5:06PM. 9 more minutes to go. My eyes are drawn to the diamond glitter flickering through the haze. I lay on the golden sands, take up a handful and feel them tickle through my fingers. Breathing. The salty air is heavy and refreshing. The cool wind sweeps by and caresses me softly. I close my eyes and let the serenity in.

5:10PM. My eyes open. Sitting up. From my bag, I take out my worn-out diary and flip to the last entry.

November 20th 2008

The minds of men hold dark corners, in which lurk our inner most obsessions, phobias and unutterable desires. These corners of our ego are cloaked from the ones we love lest they unearth facets beyond their conception. Indeed, we fear to probe deep within ourselves, afraid to find what skulks in these devil’s alcoves to be outside even our own reason.

They seep their poison into consciousness and constantly cry for satisfaction. Some find the strength to keep them in abeyance, below the surface, masked from all. Some will choose to be free of this burden by their own means.

Tomorrow I will find my grave. I will go to it not with fear of death itself but of what my mind will glimpse in the last moments of life.

I have witnessed great good but even more of great evil, all by great men. In the end, the evils corrupted my soul, infested and left it rotting. Deep inside, I know my life leaves regrets. Regrets feed on you, eating away till that moment when there is nothing left. This is my ever persisting losing streak. They will not go, the evil and the regrets, till I end this. Tomorrow, that moment will come.

Tomorrow, I will bury all my secrets and regrets. The concourse of my actions have left irreparable repercussions, damaged many and destroyed many lives. Nothing I can do can make it right. But tomorrow, I can stop it once and for all.

My final words as I will speak no more tomorrow.

“I am sorry. For everything.”

5:15PM. Book closed. I bury it in the sands. Standing up. I look at the raging waves welcoming me. A smile breaks out as I go and embrace their welcome.


“Today at 6:45PM, a body has been found in the Marina Bay. The body was washed up to shore by the waves and discovered by a passerby. The body has been identified as Peter Walker. Walker has been seeing the headlines lately following police investigations suspecting him of being involved in a number of missing person cases. However, the police lacked sufficient evidence for prosecution.

After a sweep of the area, the police has recovered a diary believed to belong to Walker. When asked about the diary’s contents, the police has refused to comment.

The police has ruled Walker’s death as suicide with no cause for suspicion otherwise and his diary has been entered into evidence.

Hopefully, he has left us with some hope. ”

Greater Vancouver Real Estate Charts

Take a look at this chart to see what the growth of real estate in Greater Vancouver has been like. (Click on picture for a bigger view)

If you are looking for statistics in RE of Greater Vancouver, REALTYLINK is a good site to check out. I personally was quite intrigued with their listed vs sold graphs of detached, attached and apartments (click here).


Now let's look at how Canada is doing.

The effect in the Okanagan on RV sales, and every part of the tourist economy is huge, forestry is in the toilet for interior cities. Alberta has already felt some pressure especially since the price of oil plunged dramatically. Alberta has been supporting a large part of the Canadian economy, now some of the oil developers are saying they will delay development in Fort McMurray and Edmonton. The effect has already been felt in B.C. as rich Albertans dump their recreational or investment properties.

At this point, with every country in a serious crunch, it has already transcended the state of "real estate correction" into a global correction. While there are reports of optimism (governments still in denial), fact be told, the Canadian economy relies heavily on foreign support, be it trade or tourism.

The collapse of public confidence is probably the worst crisis of all. It will be reflected on the real estate activities or the lack of. When the RE dies, so do the banks and then there will be people losing their jobs and before you know it, the domino effect will spiral out of control. So it is not that I do not understand why the government has to keep a positive outlook or instill confidence. However, given the circumstances, I seriously question if anyone still believes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hand in Hand - Step by Step

Teases aplenty but fool me not.
The pantomime of signs and glances speaks to this heart.
Bewitched by your smile of sweetness and eyes of spark.
One touch from you, my skin does tingle.

Hand in hand, we wake.
Morning after morning, flamingos and butterflies
dance and sing, low and high,
of a rebirth of hope of a beginning.

Hand in hand, we sleep.
Night after night, my mind can't rest, my heart won't slumber.
They fly to you in hope to keep
you sleeping safe and dreaming tight.

Hand in hand we walk.
In the shadows where the heart knows not
the rhetoric of words or the taste of bliss.
Together. Step by step.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Where is the silver lining?

So as fear percolates in the ever so exciting market world, where is the silver lining in this storm? I would say that the silver lining is that as bad as things are, there will be a time of recovery. This implies that we have to make the most use of the bad mistakes of others.


Everyone knows that there is a pileload of foreclosures and building up. Of course, the key is to pick the right property at the right time. And in the end, it still comes back to the US as the place with the highest potential for rebounding following a few criterias.
  • Focus on the Metropolitan cities which has high population growth and community development.

  • Need to have foreseeable future projects or growth of major local industries.

  • GDP must be high indicating high productivity and networking.

Timing is important, some areas in US like Texas has not seen a rise in real estate for over 10 years. Timing is also tricky and very hard to catch. Perhaps if you are the safe type, you would be wise not to be the first in the water but learn to catch the wave as big players move in.

If you are looking for foreclosures in the US, ALL-FORECLOSURES is one of the more comprehensive search and resource site.


The same goes with stocks. You have to learn to play smart. A few stocks that were brought to my attention lately possess new technologies fulfilling our future needs thus they possess the potential to be profitable.
  • Emergent BioSolutions (EBS) - They make an anthrax vaccine and have a pipeline of other drugs with potential. Their biggest customer is the government. Stock is hitting 52-week highs even as the market craters. 30% revenue growth y/y.
  • Aecom Technology (ACM) - Company provides support for major infrastructure projects. Again, their major customer is the government. Stock price is 25% higher than October lows. 20% revenue growth y/y.
  • Insituform Technologies (INSU) - This company has a proprietary trenching system for replacing or upgrading underground pipe systems. Stock is nearly 50% higher than it's Oct low. Constant revenue growth.
  • Telecom Sao Paolo (TSP) - Operates land-line telephone, television and internet services in Brazil. Stock is 30% higher than October lows. Constant revenue growth. Pays a 12% dividend.
  • IShares MSCI Chile ETF (ECH) - Chile is probably the best performing emerging market over the last few weeks and is still 30% higher than it's October lows. It also fell less from it's highs earlier in the year, demonstrating a stronger economy. If (big if) I were to make a bet on an emerging market recovery, Chile would be the first place I look.

The first rule of picking good stocks are looking at the fundamental networth of the company and its products.

Mirror Mirror on the wall......

Shrek, Angelina Jolie and Bill Gates were all having lunch together.

Shrek said, 'I have always thought that I'm the strongest man in the world, but how can I be sure?'

Bill Gates said, 'I'm pretty sure I'm the wealthiest man alive but I've never had it confirmed.'

Angelina Jolie agreed. 'I'm told I'm the most gorgeous of them all, but sometimes I wonder.'

They all decided that the best way to find out if their beliefs were true, was to ask the famed talking "mirror, mirror on the wall" to confirm for them whether Shrek was the strongest, Bill is the wealthiest and Angelina was the most gorgeous.

They agreed to meet again the next day for lunch to discuss their findings.

The next day Shrek walked up with a smile. 'Well, it's true. The mirror told me that I am the strongest man in the world.'

Angelina said for sure she was the most gorgeous.

Bill Gates came in and asked,


"Who the fuck is Chen Sui-Bien?"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Just a baby, not yet a man

That lazy slugabed lays ensconced
in the overprotective parents’ arms.
He uses every cry, being implacable
until he gets what he wants.

Do not be deceived
by that adorable smile,
behind which hides
an annoying child.

Kicking and screaming,
night and day.
Stealing your sleep
and eating your pay.

After endless feeding and playing,
you think he can rest,
he kindly sends a stinky reminder
to clean up his mess.

It is not easy to be a baby.
Parents, you need to understand.
A thousand worries and hundred aches
are nothing compared when he becomes a man.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wild Roses

Like a garden of wild roses
our silly leaves entwine with unabashedness
revealing in the newness of a provocative mystery.

And like an uncharted country, your crimson petals
journey my long stems, kissing my thorns
until they soften from tender awakenings.

The breath of summer whispers its consent
as with trembling fingers, you leave a cold
invisible handprint drawing the petals
of my heart.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The luxurious extravagant wedding

Saw this on the news today. A DaLian's real estate development company CEO's son's luxurious wedding involving a 100 black Benz, a limo, a luxurious hotel and two hot air balloons.

You know. If you can't a better use for your money, I am sure I can help........

It turned out pretty frustrating as I embarked on my quest to find scores of pop songs I want to learn on piano. A search on "Magic Waltz" came up with 1 result which doesn't even have the full piece.

Of course, there are always Tom Lees or plenty of scores shopping sites if I get desperate enough. But for now, I will settle for a registration on Piano Files and requesting from people who are willing to share. You will be surprised at how many people actually wants to spread the joy of music.

For those of you who has great beautiful pieces, please do not hesistate to send it to me.

And because of complaints of the music on the site, I have turned the music Autoplay off. You can still choose the songs you want and listen to them manually on the sidebar.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Greater Vancouver Real Estate - The past 2 months

Here is a little update on how the Greater Vancouver residential real estate is holding up for the past 2 months.

  • GREATER VANCOUVER (Active - 7970 Sold - 708)

  • Vancouver West (Active - 971 Sold -68)

  • Vancouver East (Active - 950 Sold -106)

  • Richmond (Active - 928 Sold - 70)

  • West Vancouver (Active - 546 Sold -30)

  • North Vancouver (Active - 444 Sold - 116)

  • Burnaby (Active - 661 Sold - 95)
I have only listed the data of the main cities.

Based on the data, Vancouver West, West Vancouver and Richmond are among those with less than 10% of its active being sold in a two months period. While Vancouver West and West Vancouver are among the higher ends in the millions range, their owners are less compelled to sell during times of turmoils compared to those who are servicing home loans. What concerns me more is Richmond which has an abundance of overvalued new highrises. Taken into consideration that a lot of the past demand was built of speculation, Richmond's real estate does not look promising in the least bit.

North Vancouver and Burnaby experienced comparatively higher sold to active percentage as they are in the low to mid-range pricing and first time buyers are taking the reduced prices as an opportunity.

Now let's examine the numbers for two prestigious subareas - South Granville and Shaunessy. South Granville has a total of 3 sales and 126 listings. Shaunessy has a total of 6 sales out of 76 listings

With a lot of beautiful homes on the market, the low sales number suggest that despite whatever impulse you may have to go for the purchase, most people are just sitting on the sidelines worrying about the economy and anticipating further price drops.

For the complete statistics package for October, click on the following link: October Stats.
Paul B also has RE market comprehensive data compiled: Real Estate Data
Take note that sales in October dropped off sharply mid-month when the financial crisis became big news meaning that almost all sales recorded for October were at pre-crisis prices.
Vancouver Suns also has an article today on "Depreciation of condos expected to exceed that of suburbs".

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Scene of La Seine

I just added Origen's Music Widget to the Blog and it works wonderfully. Although I connect with Jazz easily, lately I have found a new appreciation for classical music.

At the moment, I am learning a piano piece "A scene of La Seine" by Yuhki Kuramoto. It was a very special feeling when I first heard the song. I was instantly mesmerized and then slowly lulled into a dream. As I listened in my sweet slumber, I could hear its beautiful story. I almost smiled and almost cried. Words failed me. The music seeped into me and took me to what must be heaven.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


With the convenience of online movie sites lie surfthechannel, it has been several month since I have caught a movie in the cinema. There were a bunch of choices but I don't think I could have done better than "Changeling". If you like, there is one pretty good review I found at Cannes Review.

When I first arrived at the theater, it was filled with elderly couples which indicated more or less the kind of crowd that would better appreciate movies of this drama genre. Compared to all the other meaningless shallow good-for-a-laugh-but-nothing-else junks that flood the screens nowadays, this show is a masterpiece - well written, well directed and even Angelina Jolie haters will have to admit, a great performance.

First off, the movie is long. 141 minutes. But as with any good movies, you would not feel time dragging on instead, the experience draws you in. There is a reason why I do not want to let on too much with a review, instead I want to give the movie the praises it deserves. The bottom line is, I want you to watch it.

At the end, few left without their eyes red from the crying. Well, I was one of the few exceptions since I have a high threshold for touching moments. But, there is almost no words to describe how touched I felt from Angelina's character Christine Collins's unwaivering love for her son.

If there is one movie you watch this year, make it "Changeling".

Chirstine Collins: He's not my son.

Capt. J.J. Jones: Mrs. Collins.

Christine Collins: No, I don't know why he's saying that he is, but he's not Walter and there's been a mistake.

Capt. J.J. Jones: I thought we agreed to give him time to adjust.

Christine Collins: He's three inches shorter; I measured him on the chart.

Capt. J.J. Jones: Well, maybe your measurements are off. Look, I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for all of this. Christine Collins: He's circumcised and Walter isn't.

Capt. J.J. Jones: Mrs. Collins, your son was missing for five months, for at least part of that time in the company of an unidentified drifter. Who knows what such a disturbed individual might have done. He could have had him circumcised. He could have...

Christine Collins: ...made him shorter?

Panasonic ER421KC Nose Hair Trimmer

So a friend of mine has a birthday coming up and I decided to give him a nose hair trimmer for obvious reasons. A little research revealed that the Panasonic ER421KC Nose Hair Trimmer is the most popular. However, I was only able to find a Conair NE1152CS Trimmer around Zellers which I settled for.

Panasonic ER421KC Nose Hair Trimmer (~$14.95)

The Panasonic ER421KC Nose and Ear Trimmer comes equipped with a built-in, bright, focused light for precise and accurate grooming. You can keep your nose and ears clean and trim without worrying about navigating your nostrils and ear canals in the dark. Designed to be used in or out of the shower, this trimmer can be rinsed under a faucet for quick and easy cleaning. Wet or dry, your nose and ears will be groomed exactly how you like them.

The trimmer's stainless steel blades leave the proper amount and length of hairs to help ensure you still benefit from nature's design. Without some hair in your nose and ears, you increase your chances of inhaling irritants and contracting disease, but your grooming needs are worry free with the ER421KC. Panasonic has also designed this trimmer with a safety cone that guides hair into the blades and protects the skin from direct contact with the rotary trimming system.

The ER421KC is easy to clean because the whole unit can be washed in warm water. Be sure to wipe off any excess water and allow the blades to dry completely before mounting them back onto the trimmer body. Remounting the blades is a breeze -- simply place the inner blade back onto the outer blade, and then place the outer blade onto the body by pushing down gently and twisting clockwise.

Conair NE1152CS Trimmer (~$ 16.95)

This cordless, battery-operated unit features a powerful motorized trimmer that rotates at a high 10,000 RPMs to quickly and safely trim unwanted nose and ear hair with twin surgical-steel rotary blades. There's no grabbing or pulling, and the 5-position pivoting head allows for easy use on hard-to-reach or delicate areas. Soft grip handle with trimmer head that easily rinses clean under water.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Office Printer Hunt

Yesterday, I was on a hunt for an office printer that would be cheap, fast with lots of features. Since I doubt that there would be any heavy printing involved, I was willing to compromise the speed for mainly pricing. After relentless research, I have broken it down to four great deals. Since I have always been a fan of HP products despite their little imperfections, let me start off with them.

HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi MFP ($398 - $670)

The HP Color LaserJet CM1312nfi MFP is notable for its combination of low price, high quality output, and full set of functions. Small size. High-quality output. Standalone fax and copier. Scans and faxes over network. Slow speed and low paper capacity.

HP Officejet Pro L7590 All-in-One Printer ($146 - $365)

Thanks to fast speed, high-quality output, and lots of office-centric features, the HP Officejet Pro L7590 All-in-One Printer is a clear winner for the small office. Slow photo printing. Photo quality is a touch below par for an ink jet.

Brother MFC-7840W ($276 - $384)

Inexpensive monochrome laser all-in-ones (AIOs)—that is, the few that cost $300 or less—tend to be for personal use. Most connect only by USB cable. Even those with network connectors typically offer limited networking features, allowing printing over a network, for example, but not scanning. The Brother MFC-7840W ($300 street) breaks that mold, delivering a full set of AIO features for a small-office or home-office network.

Samsung CLP-315 ($170 - $254)

If you always wanted a color laser but didn't think you could justify the cost, now would be a good time to reconsider. Priced at just $200 (street), the Samsung CLP-315 takes color laser printing to a new level of affordability. (The same printer is available with Wi-Fi, as the CLP-315W, for $250.) The CLP-315 offers a lot of printer for the price, with reasonably good output quality in general and great-looking graphics in particular

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dubai Mall - Grand Opening, November 4th 2008

Dubai Mall is the largest mall ever built to date, spanning well over 5.9 million sq ft on a 12 million sq ft land. Twice delayed since 2006, it finally opened on November 4th, 2008 with 600 retailers and a 1,200 shops capacity.

A lot of hype has revolved around the Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre as well as the Dubai Ice Rink.

Some economists have questioned whether they can meet the original target of 30 million visitors amidst global economic gloom. However, seeing that the Dubai real estate prices have gone up instead of following the global downward trend suggests to me that their economy is strong and is capable of weathering the financial storm.

There has always been the debate whether Debai will be just an oasis in the sand considering that their GDP is much lower than their outstanding debts. Do they run the risk of going bankrupt? I certainly think so. Yet they have always been ahead of the crowd in being the best and the newest attraction putting the focus on their tourism industry. You have to admit that they are so smart, they will probably find a way to survive.

Huggies - Be Happy

Had a hard day?

Sometimes, you just need to learn to smile.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Iphone 3G = lots of work

So I finally got around to getting an Iphone 3G without the outrageous data plan that Rogers offers. Basically, I am satisfied to be using Wifi for my internet access till a more reasonable plan comes out. Almost immediately, I made a call to their customer tech support and made sure they block the data usage on my phone. To my surprise, I was told that even with the manual block there can still be data transfer in the background. All the warning signs led me to see this as one of the scare tactics they use to persuade you to get the data plan.

Naturally, I was not impressed. Not with the amount of work I had to go through just to set up this phone service and I was even feeling offended that I could be facing a huge bill at the end of the month for something I didn't use. Unwilling to give in, I went and did some research on how to best protect myself from unwanted charges. My results led me to try the following:

Step 1 - Go to on your iPhone in safari

Step 2 - Hit next, disable data, install, and finally install now

Step 3 - A profile which disables data will be loaded into your iPhone, test it out, see if you can use data while not on wifi. It won’t work. If you check your usage stats, you won’t have used any data

If you want to get a data plan one day and remove this profile, go to settings, general, profile, then hit remove.

The reviews I have read indicated that this method completely blocks all internet access when not on a WiFi network. One problem solved. Next, I still need to jailbreak my iphone and then customize it. I have also decided that since the mail program is probably going to be a pain in the ass, I will do without it.

All in all, it ended up being a lot of work which made me question if I have the patience to go through it a second time. After all the sense of novelty has passed? I think not.

Some light reading - Markets and real estate

I have been doing some light reading (whatever passes for it nowadays) when I can't sleep at night. Yesterday, upon some random roaming, I came across Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis. Nothing spectacular to me here but his market analysis are quite extensive and detailed especially useful for those who are looking for somewhere to start to learn about the market.

Meanwhile, voting for the US election has begun and that seems to give global stocks a lift. I wouldn't go as far as to say that the financial turmoils are settling but it does give some people the chance to unload. I believe firmly that in the long run, the stock market is still doomed to callapse so get out if you can.

In Canada, there are impending worries of what lies ahead. Last Friday, on 31st October 2008, Bob Rennie indicated that Vancouver has the fundamentals to survive this financial storm. Read the whole article here. This attempt at pacifying the panicking public is unlikely to produce much results. There is no denying that Rennie is a gifted marketeer but suggesting that this is the time to buy instead of sell? Sure, the price have fallen to 2005 levels for some properties, but many businesses are shrinking, cutting jobs and not to mention, the stock markets are in a mess. I seriously doubt any sensible person will choose this particular time to jump in the market.

Also yesterday, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver released the October real estate figures further confirming that the real estate market is still decling fast with an overflow of inventory and lack of demand. The % decrease varies from different areas to different types of real estate, but the bottom line is that no matter how the authorities package the situation, Vancouver's real estate is going to continue the downward trend. You can read the report here.

Now, I stand on the sidelines with those bottom fishers. My guess is that it will be another year at least before the market settles. Meanwhile, I will stick to my light reading.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween - the deadly pumpkins

I know it is late, Halloween is over. It was a hectic birthday party for my sister but I had as much fun as I can remember. There were music, stories and games. Nothing too scary since I didn't hear any screams.

Anyways, I thought some of you might enjoy the pumpkin craving art below. I won't post the pictures of the pumpkins we did that night 'cause....... they suck!!

So I had my first attempt carving a pumpkin and I can safely say I am not gifted at it. Haha, so you probably won't get the chance to see me have another go at it anytime soon.
Till next year!!

Murder - by choice

This feeble heart is pounding hard
like a galloping horse digging its feet - deep
Another heart lays quietly asleep.

By choice, I reek of blood.

That moment ended before it began
in a blink of an eye,
leaving my tears completely dry.

By choice, I was weak and blindly insane.

Now, I stand before this piece of art
admiring the mess I’ve made.
My knees are shaking, hands are dead.

By choice, I took a life to be alive.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


There is soothing left asunder.

Something changed.
The books were empty. Drawers out.
Picture in their frames disappeared.

Something is different.
The fridge is warm. The bed is not.

Something is not quite wrong.
One note. The piano sounds off.
One note. Resting on the mirror.
One smiling face.
One graceful goodbye.

Something is different.
The fog clears. The mirror smiles.

Something changed.

Knock. Knock.

I open the door.

Closure walks in and I walk out.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Too good to be true

Do you know how frustrating it is to get all these junk mails of advertisements and fraud? Especially the fraud. If you are not careful, you can easily find yourself a victim of the increasingly common identity fraud.

After all, all they need is a name and possibly some basic information such as your date of birth or social insurance number to tap into a wide pool of resources which can potentially reveal even more information about you. They can find out your address from the yellow pages, run credit checks on you and even set up fake accounts using your personal information. In the end, they will leave your credit destroyed and a bunch of debts under your name. Are you afraid yet? You should be.

Unfortunately, one of the reason why these criminal acts are increasing in numbers is because of the slack punishments in place for offenders. Consider this, in Canada, you can walk into a bank with a gun and get a few hundred dollars. If you get caught, you will face 4 to 12 years imprisonment. Impersonate someone at the same bank, steal $100,000 and you will likely get away with it, but if you are apprehended, you will get a severe slap on the wrist. Can you honestly blame these new age criminals for making a mockery out of privacy laws and the justice system?

Now, there are many traps including fake ids, checks, bank drafts and currencies, but what can we do to avoid becoming a victim?
  1. NEVER give out your Social Insurance/Social Security #.
  2. NEVER disclose your credit card, check routing information or bank information
  3. NEVER believe that you have to pay to get winnings or get some benefits.

For websites, you can check where it is created and when at WHOISNET. You should also make it a point to confirm who you are talking to and the information you are given. Even when they have sent you checks or bank drafts, they could be clever imitations of the real and you could be committing a felony just by attempting to cash in.

Finally, though it is difficult to guard against scam artists, sometimes you can make it hard enough for them to back off in search of an easier target. So be careful and smart. Usually it is the ignorant or greedy that end up victims in these schemes.

And remember: "If it seems too good to be true...... it usually is."