Thursday, August 30, 2007

~5 kilograms of light reading material

Just found out today that the 8.25% of my pay that superannuates into my pension fund cannot be withdrawn before the age of n, where n >> 23.

And when one leaves the country, the pension fund’s contents cannot be siphoned out.



Saturday, August 25, 2007

Avoiding bank charges and unfavourable buy/sell exchange rates for sending and receiving funds via telegraphic transfer (TT)

Note: This document was originally written to describe the procedures to the parties involved. However, seeing that this blog is suffering from an update-deficit, the posting of this document will serve to notify that the author is alive (and possibly well)

Currently, [name removed] (CYA) receives money from Malaysia, and Yee Wei (TYW) intends to send money to Malaysia. This document describes a way to reduce the transaction costs associated with the transfer of funds. Exchange rates based on Maybank’s exchange rates (24th August 2007) for TT. TT fees in Australia based on charges by the Commonwealth Bank. TT fees in Malaysia were obtained from my father.

When CYA’s parents send money, the bank in Malaysia charges a RM 27 fee for sending a TT. The exchange rate for converting RM to AU$ slightly high, meaning the bank takes a small proportion of the money as its profit for doing the currency exchange. The bank in Australia charges AU$15 for receiving a TT.

When TYW sends money to his parents, the bank in Australia charges a AU$22 fee for sending a TT. The exchange rate for converting AU$ to RM slightly lower, meaning the bank takes a small proportion of the money as its profit for doing the currency exchange. The bank in Malaysia charges RM5 for receiving a TT.

This pair of transactions can be represented as follows, using AU$3000 as the sum that is to be transferred:

Note that the bank gives different exchange rates when changing the currency in different directions. Also observe that in both cases, AU$3000 was sent but in both cases, the sender sends more than AU$3000 and the recipient gets less than AU$3000.

An alternative way to transfer AU$3000 can be designed to eliminate all bank fees:
TYW pays CYA AU$3000
CYA’s parents pay TYW’s parents a sum in Ringgit that is equal to AU$3000

If the Ringgit equivalent of AU$3000 is based on the middle rate, then the exchange rate to be used is (2.820 + 2.894)/2 = 2.857, which is the average of the bank’s buy/sell rates.

TYW pays CYA AU$3000, and
CYA’s parents pay TYW’s RM 8571

The cash flow can be represented as:

Note the savings/gains that each party gets as a result of not paying for the banks’ profits.

Compared to the cash flow which involved banks, every party gains a saving in the form of not paying bank fees and also not paying the buy/sell exchange rate difference.

The savings/gains are as follows:

This scheme is not risk-free. There are risks of either of the payers (TYW or CYA’s parent) defaulting. The use of banks would virtually eliminate this risk at the cost of transaction fees.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Further updates on the author

Yesterday, a lady friend of one of the housemates dropped by, resulting in the photo below:


Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4
Matches my page colours, no?

The last 2 weeks had been filled with introspection. What am I doing here? What do I want to do?

It does not help that the thought process is sometimes recursive, where the mind contemplates upon the process of contemplation. Like Gödel’s theorem suggesting that the edifice of mathematics is as watertight as a colander, recursion can completely shatter one’s confidence in earlier judgements.

(1) I think I will move away from engineering and pursue a career in [something else].

(2) But what if this decision had been made in a moment of rash emotional instability?

(3) Now, if I accept decision 1 and regret it, what happens? I’d realise that decision 1 was a bad decision. I will also regret my stupidity for not factoring in the implications of question 2.

Now, apart from aggressively reading on [something else], I am also inspecting my psyche – admittedly in a quarter-arsed manner – to find potential flaws in the decision-making algorithm(s).


I called up the travel agent on Firday and got my December air tickets booked. Remarkably efficient and helpful, she also put me on the waiting list for cheaper fares and better days.

Jessie, (+61)3 9888 2886
Apparently you can pay by bank deposit and they’ll send you the tickets by registered mail at no extra cost.

When I told her I’m looking for a flight to Kuala Lumpur on the 22nd of December, she breathes in slowly and replied, “Mmm, the 22nd is very packed. There are no more seats on that flight. That period is already very full, I think I can get you…” a pause as fingers fly across a keyboard on the other end of the line. “The cheaper tickets are available for the 11th of December.”

“11th? No no, 2 weeks of leave would kill me,” I replied, horrified. “Let’s not look on price but base it on the date instead.”

She laughs. “Ok, we have… for a flight departing on the Friday the 21st, we have a seat available for $1345. Oh wait, Friday is full too. For Thursday, we have one last seat available for $1461. But Wednesday is still very available, and the ticket price is $1345.”

“Mm, ok, so the difference between Wednesday and Thursday is about $120. Nah, my leave days are worth more than that, let’s stick to Thursday.”

“Haha, ok. Since this is the last seat already, we better lock it in as soon as possible. Can I have your family name please?”

“T A N”

“And your name?”

“Y E E space W E I”

“Mister or Doctor?”

*stunned, extended silence while I contemplated whether to say Professor*


Suddenly, the year end seems so close.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Click here for large size image

I don’t recalling saying any real goodbyes in my life. It had always been along the lines of ‘see you next year’, and there was an element of certainty that this would not the last time we meet. We will cross swords again next New Year.

Now that it has transpired that The Accountant will be evaporating on the 23 this month to condense at one of the Big Four firms far far away, there is an uncomfortably large pair of variables lodged in my solar plexus. Where in space-time will our world lines intersect? What if they never intersect again?

Perhaps this is not the time for abstraction.

I wish you the very best. And perhaps, by two miraculous strokes of luck, our world lines will intersect this Chinese New Year.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Something to match my blog theme colours

A long time ago, I ranted to Lai about the lack of pink shirts at the sales. She asked for my size, said she’d get some for me when she goes to Hong Kong for her business trip.

Today, I received a parcel. It came with big scary stamps.

The items were neatly packaged in a white cloth bag. Embroidered in rich blue was “Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, Dry Cleaning and Laundry” together with the Ritz-Carlton’s logo of a lion head on crown.

Click here for large size image

In the bag were two shirts, a t-shirt and an envelope pinched from Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore.

Click here for large size image

The shirts consist of a friendly lavender and a very faint lavender-pink. The t-shirt is an intense shade of pink. The lavender ones are soo nice *swoons*

That made my day.

When I related this to Jean

Whee, lavender shirt!
Just like my font colours leh
Yeah, that’s the shade of lavender
She gave me 2 shirts and a t shirt
The other shirt is a very very light lavender-pink
So girly
Even I don’t have light pink
It’s damn nice ok
I change my mind
YOU are so girly

Girly? Show you my buffed fingernails then you know...


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Updates on the author

A career fair is approaching. Several large companies of interest include Accenture, Shell, Schlumberger, HSBC, OCBC and KPMG. The challenge is to produce a CV that would bluff impress the finance, accounting and banking people in the last three firms.

-Explained by means of stress analysis how a blunt serrated blade can slice tomatoes with greater ease than a sharp straight-edged knife
-Applied principles of mechanics to optimise some martial arts techniques
-Attempted to code a simulator of a relativistic, vibrating spring-mass system before realising that force transmission is due to exchange of force-carrying particles between interacting bodies

A CV like that is not going to get me anywhere near the entrance of KPMG; an alternative approach is needed.


Due to an aberration in the universe’s fine structure, Saturday was Mr. Chan’s birthday. We, including The Architect and The Chemist, far fed him more ‘wine’ than he would normally handle. He normally handles slightly less than my tolerance limit of 1 glass.

Ribena and vodka

The birthday boy

A note to The Accountant: I may be reading your Futures and Options text book, but that does not mean I'm qualified to give useful suggestions on inflation calculation methods.

A note to the rest of the world: inflation discussed here concerns the increase in price of goods, not the exponential increase in the size of the universe. I'm also not qualified to comment on cosmology.



Click here for large size image


Click here for large size image


Friday, August 03, 2007

An antithesis of the previous religion-oriented post


I ask for 250 grams of Royal Superior Dark coffee beans, and one of the ladies measured out the quantity on an electronic balance.

“Do you want them ground?” she asks.
“Yes please, for a plunger.”

She pours the beans into a grinder - presumably one with to a pair concentric grinding cones – puts the grade selector lever to 7 and starts it. While the machine minces the little pile of beans in the inlet tray into a little pile of grounds in a paper bag below the outlet chute, the lady turns to me and asks, “Do you like Rod Steward?”

A pause.

“Yes, I used to like him, but the later albums have changed a bit,” I reply.
“I just bought his Greatest Hits album, and I’ve been trying to convert everyone ever since.”

The other shopkeeper puts her index finger to her throat, draws it laterally across her oesophagus and grins.

“But since you already like him, I don’t have to convert you.”
“Yes, you’ll be preaching to the converted…”
“On my wall, I have this photo of Jesus,” she holds her hands in the air indicating a photo frame. “Next to Jesus I have a photo of the Buddha,” she holds her hands up indicating a photo frame next to the first. She takes a step to the side, presumably because her hands cannot reach the position of the third frame. “And I have a photo of Rod Steward,” she shows the position of the third frame. She continues, “So you see, I worship Rod Steward as well.”

“Mm, pity you can’t put up an image of Allah as well, since there are no images of Him.”

An awkward pause. “Are you Muslim?” she asks cautiously.
“No, I’m just saying.”
“So, what god or gods do you worship?”
By this time the bag of ground coffee was already in my hand and money in the shop’s till.
“Well… one of them would be Google,” I reply after some contemplation.

The other shopkeeper fails miserably at suppressing a snigger.

“Google?” the first one asks, an eyebrow raised questioningly.
“Well yes, it can do anything you ever need, and more.”
“Ah… and what about your others gods?”
“Mmm, coffee is another important one.”

A baffled, WTF expression surfaces on the other shopkeeper’s face.

“Ah, I see. So… we’re your goddesses, we deliver your coffee to you. We’re like, Virgin Mary who delivered Jesus.”
“Yes, yes, that’s entirely accurate.”
“You would need to bring us some sacrifice in exchange for your coffee”

And it went on, one senseless statement replied with another nonsense statement…

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