Saturday, September 29, 2007

There's a lot of anger and fear over our CPF changes. A lot of questions about what the govt is doing with our money, making us buy a compulsory annuity which we can only cash out if we survive past 85, and how many of us are likely to do that?

It's like a bet: we all put our money in a common pot and if we make it past five years as an octogenarian, we win and we can take our share (plus interest) back in monthly installments. If we don't make it, well, that's the nature of gambling -- win some, lose some. Sure, S'poreans make a national pastime of 4-D and Toto, but who'd have thought CPF would be the latest game S'pore Pools is offering?

I dunno. I'm not really into that debate at the moment. I have more pressing concerns about my CPF. Like how my personal CPF contribution to our housing loan is practically servicing only the loan interest, while June's contribution can only put a tiny dent per month on the principal. And next month, the interest rate is going to be revised again, more likely up than down.

What this works out to is that a truckload of my money doesn't belong to me, but it does pay for my right to own a house... eventually. It's a loss making proposition since the market for my location isn't likely to return to the high, heady time that it was when we bought it. So barring any unforseen incident, we'll be staying put for a while.

This morning, we were at our local HDB office transferring a large chunk of our accumulated CPF to reduce our loan to 10 years from 18. That's 8 year's worth of interest saved, if I calculate correctly.

10 more years to pay for my flat, then maybe I can start worrying about whatever money I have left to retire on.

Friday, September 28, 2007

It's not just us abandoning pets any more! They're doing it in the US too! With domestic rabbits! *shakes head and wonders what the world's coming to. Click here. Thank goodness for animal rescue volunteers, both here and there.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Canis domesticus has suddenly leaped onto the endangered species list. Owners of unlicensed dogs now facing a tenfold increase in fines for the offence have devised a brilliant workaround their predicament: abandon their dogs before the revised law kicks in.

How ironic that a law revised to offer more protection to our pets has resulted in more cruelty to them instead. Couple of issues here: rigid, over-reactive laws designed more to punish than help the situation, and people who would rather save themselves and their money than be responsible for their own pets.

But it's the latter issue that probably caused the former. As people who are urbanizing over what used to be natural habitats of other species, we've been losing sense of our interconnectedness with the plants and animals that form more than just the backdrop of our existance. When they get expensive or inconvenient, we get rid of them like we get rid of garbage.

But a punitive law with such a heavy penalty isn't helping make this situation any better. All the more we've made keeping pets an even more expensive proposition. No one wants to pay for an annual license. They are going to want to pay a $5k fine even less.

Law and punishment won't solve a problem if we don't address the root causes of the problem. Penalizing people isn't going to make them respect their responsibilities. Some dumb idiot abandoned what looks like a pomeranian which somehow wound up on the central divider of the TPE! Charitable assumption: dog somehow ran across the highway from wherever it got abandoned. Uncharitable assumption: dog got abandoned where it got found, owner hoping that a passing vehicle would put the ex-pet out of its misery.

Why do we feel the Govt is always controlling our lives when what we've got is really what we deserve? A little more thoughtfulness towards our fellow beings, people, please! We don't need a Draconian legal system to keep us in line, just a measure of common sense and a little empathy towards others, human or otherwise.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Censorship is the best defence against unwholesome values. Discuss." Yes, another outline.

I think for an 800 word essay, this one is unbelievably difficult to write. Censorship only limits access to specific content in the mass media. It's really hard to link "content" with "values" without some kind of extensive waffling because the two are obviously not the same thing.

I'm not entirely happy with this outline, especially the way I brought in the idea of "education" from nowhere, and some of the connections are more convenient than considered. It's even a little vague and unrealistic. But what can you do with such a minuscule word limit?

Oh, in case anyone asks why my "outlines" are as long as an acceptable GP essay, it's because they're really outlines for a much larger research paper. Get the hint, KIds?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Forgot to mention that M2 went for his 50k servicing. Now he handles a little better, pickup's a little faster, purrs smoother. Wonder if the effect is just psychosomatic?

I think it was Cat who got me where I am today. I recall way back in '91, when we were still young and irresponsible students, she said to me, "why don't you go and teach in a JC?" Who knew it would take nearly a decade of aimless wandering around in the wilderness before her throwaway suggestion would become prophecy?

Thanks, Cat. Now I'm swamped up to my eyeballs with marking; reports, outlines and reviews clawing at my back; vetting of testimonials (SGCs they call 'em now -- same animal, new cage); prelim casualties to comfort and admonish while juggling the inevitable pre-finals consultations that are about to recommence; and a dozen other ad hoc things to accomplish before the year-end hols.

Ah, to be an irresponsible student again...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Whole day spent on drawing up essay outlines and writing exam markers' reports, although according to my schedule perhaps most of what I did was a little premature. I'm confused...

Anyway, while I'm at it, here's another essay outline to bore you to tears with:

"Consider the importance of skepticism in society today." Click here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The mooncake festival is here again. M-i-L got busy and whipped up a bunch of mooncakes and pig-in-a-basket cookies which also come in the shape of goldfish and, these days, Ultraman.

Due to the recent recall of tainted salted eggs, this year M-i-L's "golden yolk" mooncakes are extremely limited in supply. There are none in this batch here.

That's also the reason why the mooncakes here are smaller than usual. Without the savoriness of the egg yolk, the sweet taste of the bean paste filling would become monotonous very quickly. Besides, they look cuter like this.
Just staggered home from the "Planet Terror" marathon at GV Plaza. It's actually Tarantino's Grindhouse double-bill of "Death Proof" and "Planet Terror" that are usually packaged together and meant to be viewed in one sitting. Here in S'pore, the two movies got split up and sold individually, except for tonight's screening at which we could watch both as was originally intended.

Tix pricing was exorbitant, though part of the cost was to cover our "unlimited" supply of popcorn and Coke... which we couldn't take much advantage of because there's only so much of the stuff we can input before it starts generating negative returns.

The movies themselves, well... what's not to like? Babes with guns, babes in fast muscle cars, babes turning the tables on their dumb, macho oppressors; babes fighting and surviving nicely thank you very much against unbelievable odds. Whether it's hunted tuning hunter against a psycho stalker (Death Proof) or victim turning survivor against an ever increasing hoard of disease-ridden zombies (Planet Terror), it's just fun watching babes find strength within themselves, and put even their most "useless" talents to good use.

Earlier this morning, back in the real world, we spent a small fortune taking our animals to the vet. The cats got their shots while Q-tip went for teeth scaling. Combined, June & I spent nearly $400 making sure our family was healthy. Careful as we are, there's nothing like getting a professional opinion in case we missed anything.

Nothing unusual, though Kasey's professional eye saw that we could still take better care of them. Cats have a little hair-chewing, non-transferable, lice problem, while Q-tip's dental plaque build-up has resulted in a few loose teeth which we need to take action on.

Pet ownership is an expensive proposition. Don't get a pet if you're not prepared for this.