02 December 2014

Burnt by Friends and Family

Friendship has an expiry date.

The ones most capable of hurting you are the ones you are closest to.

16 November 2014

Vital Protein Pea Protein Isolate Review

I purchased Vital Protein Pea Protein Isolate at Chemist Warehouse for $30, which gave me 500g of pea protein isolate. This is much more expensive than pea protein isolate sold online, for example, from Bulk Nutrients, but I was willing to give this a try.

What I notice from reading the back is that the amino acid profile is very good. Normally pea protein is mixed with rice protein to enhance amino acid profile, but the methionine and cystine levels in this protein powder seems to be high, which may be a result of the way they isolate the protein from the pea.

I put a tablespoon onto a glass of water. It is a very mixable protein powder. It didn't take too much mixing to dissolve the powder into the water. In terms of taste, it certainly tastes like pea and has a naturally sweet taste. The sweetness is not too strong, just mild.

10 November 2014

We are not perfect. We are not flawed. We are who we are.

08 November 2014

How Can Money Printing Work?

Either quantitative easing works and the US Fed's financial alchemists have invented infinite economic growth, or we are in for the Second Great Depression.

06 November 2014

Bulk Nutrients Rice Protein Isolate Unflavoured

I've been trying different protein powders from Bulk Nutrients. I have always been purchasing protein from Bulk Nutrients, and I like to try different types of protein just because I love variety. I recently purchased rice protein in unflavoured form. I've heard that rice protein tastes horrible, but I have actually just tasted the product in person and it is incredibly bad. The description everyone gives is correct. It is chalky and tastes like sand. I'm going to have to mix it in with other protein powders and some flavouring (for example, pea protein and stevia). I've purchased two kilograms of the rice protein, so it might be hard finishing it all. 

02 November 2014

Meritocracy is Oppression of the Stupid

Most of us agree that oppression is bad. We don't like to see groups of people oppressed, e.g. slavery. However, there is one type of oppression that seems to be acceptable and that is the oppression of the stupid, and it occurs due to the veneration of meritocracy. The theory is that in a meritocratic society, benefit go to the best. For example, the thinking is that if you are smart, you will get good grades, get a high-paying job, and your lifetime earning will be high.

In a meritocratic society, it is the stupid who suffer, and many people have no issues with blaming stupid people for their stupidity. In fact, if you hate someone, it is common to try to hurt them by insulting their intelligence.

The problem is that there are many people in this world who are just born stupid. They are simply just dull people and they cannot help it, and it is painful for me to see them failing at life due to something they have no control over.

Many stupid and naive people who are young and physically attractive are likely to be looked after by others who are more intelligent, e.g. most children or attractive young adults with intelligent partners or spouses. In these situations, stupidity, naivity, or vulnerability can be seen as an attractive personality trait that complements physical attractiveness.

However, physical attractiveness is also something you are likely born with, and for those stupid or naive people who do not have sufficient erotic capital to compensate for their stupidity, it is as if they are left to suffer in a world that shows them extreme prejudice.

01 November 2014

Sugarless Organic Stevia from Chemist Warehouse - Review

As part of working out, I've been drinking pea and rice protein shakes for a few months now. I've learned that for those who have trouble gaining weight, you can mix in carbs to your protein shake to create a "mass gainer." I've been mixing in either powdered oats or waxy maize starch to my protein shake. As a result, the taste has gone south. My pea and rice protein (Earth Protein) was vanilla flavoured and tasted quite nice. However, once I added carbs in, the blend tasted horrible, especially with powdered oats, which not only made the blend taste bland but often clumped together and made the mixture thick.

Today I purchased Sugerless Organic Stevia from Chemist Warehouse for $8 (250g). It seemed pretty cheap. The product came with a spoon that measured half a teaspoon. I put two teaspoons into my carb and protein shake and tasted the mixture. It was surprisingly good. The product seemed to do the job.

The major surprise I got from this product came from looking at the nutritional information. According to the table, this product, which is labelled "organic stevia," contains 0.5% stevia (steviol glycoside). The product is 99% organic erythritol, which is a different type of sweetener.

I wonder then why this product would not be labelled "Erythritol + Stevia" or something less misleading because erythritol is a completely different product. Furthermore, it seems like you can purchase erythritol online for much less than $8 per 250g.

26 October 2014

Could I Make My Own Soylent to Save Money?

Normally I spend about $10 to $20 on lunch. It is a lot of money, and many of my colleague like to bring lunch in from home. The problem is that I simply don’t want to cook. It is too much hassle. Furthermore, bringing in lunch to work and letting it decay and smell is just not an option. I have been reading about soylent, which is an open-source nutritional powder that can replace food. I am not sure the product ships to where I live, but given it is an open-source drink, I can simply make it myself. Supposedly soylent is about 50% carbs using maltodextrin and powdered oats and about 25% rice protein, with the rest being fats, vitamins, nutrients, enzymes, and so forth. I have already been mixing in rice and pea protein with powdered oats to create a “gainer” that will help me gain more weight and build more muscle, so I largely already have something that is similar to soylent anyway. (I am thinking of replacing powdered oats with waxy maize starch because the powdered oats usually clump up when mixed with my protein shake. Plus powdered oats have high GI.)

On the weekend, I love to browse the aisles of the local chemist and check out the latest “greens” powder. I have already purchased a powder that mixes many greens, e.g. chlorella, spirulina, and barley grass. I have mixed a small amount of greens powder into my protein shake. I find that these greens powder (especially spirulina) taste horrible, so I now try to minimize it to just a few teaspoons per week. By mixing multivitamin-type powders with protein and carb powders, I am making my protein shake something that is starting to resemble normal food.

Anyway, if my protein shakes have carbs and a little bit of greens powder in it, I figure I can probably use this as a replacement for my lunch at work. Given that powdered oats cost about $10 per kilogram and pea and rice protein cost about $25 per kilogram, then assuming each day at work you have two serves (two scoops or 60 grams) then the cost works out to be about $1 per day. That is a massive difference compared to $15 for lunch! I eat whole foods for dinner at home, eat out every now and then with friends and family, and take multivitamins, so it’s not as if I will rely on these powders completely. If I want to socialise and go out, then I am happy to do so, but often at work I am just hungry and need to eat something and I go out and eat alone, and I spend about $15 for that when I could be drinking something equivalent for $1. An excuse I used to use for myself to eat out is that I like to get out of the office and walk around and breathe in the fresh air. But I am always free, after drinking my shake, to go out for a walk in the park.

Two days ago, I purchased a bottle of iced coffee and drank it for lunch. I mainly wanted to buy it because it was an HDPE bottle, which is supposedly safe for reuse. I was going to mix my protein shake in it. However, I noticed that in the afternoon I was farting a lot. I may have developed lactose intolerance. I used to drink milk a lot. Recently I’ve experimented with vegan foods. It turns out that maybe my body has gotten used to it, and now I find I cannot drink cows milk. That’s okay for me because there are plenty of other alternatives e.g. oat milk or almond milk. Some people argue that cow milk has essential calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D for bone health, but the reality is that most of these are additives in the milk, and most milk alternatives are fortified with these anyway, and even if they are not, I take multivitamins.

29 September 2014

Runaway Spider in my Bedroom

About ten minutes ago, I was lying on my bed with my spine lined up against a rolled-up towel. I was doing stretches that my osteopath prescribed for me. I have to do these stretches every day. It's very annoying. While stretching, I saw a spider on the ceiling. I took out a plastic container and then trapped the spider in this container. I put the lid on and was about to take this container outside where I would release the spider into the wild. Unfortunately, there was a hole in the container. The spider got out. It ran into a bunch of paper. When I moved the paper aside, the spider disappeared. 

I now fear sleeping in my room because I know there is a spider somewhere in this room with me.

28 September 2014

The Comfort of Deferring to Expertise

When people come to me seeking my advice because they think I'm an expert in my field, I try my hardest not to let them down, and I give the best advice I can give. When people seem satisfied, I start to wonder whether it was wise of them to trust me because nobody knows my own imperfections as well as I do, but whether it is because of trust or image, there is a myth commonly held of the expert. This is why physicians are held in high regard and are respected. They are seen as experts in health. I am not the only one who feels this insecurity, and indeed there is a term for it: impostor syndrome.

When I start to doubt the veracity of my own advice and expertise, naturally I start to question the veracity of other people's advice and expertise, and certainly being sceptical of expertise can save us, e.g. the Commonwealth Bank financial planning scandal.

But at the same time, I understand the comfort of deferring to expertise. Before I went to the gym, every second person I met gave me advice on health and fitness. They'd tell me to buy a bike and then go into detail about different types of bikes, materials used for the types of bikes, and so forth, and yet others say different things, e.g. I should be playing soccer or tennis or badminton. Of course, deep down I knew that these people simply tried to sway me one way or another based on their own personal interests. If they were passionate about cycling, they'd naturally want to steer me towards cycling with them.

After I joined the gym and received advice from one fitness consultant, my friends stopped giving me amateur advice. When people asked me what I did for health and fitness and I told them that I was now a gym member and that my fitness consultant or personal trainer prescribed me this and that, that weight of expertise seemed to intimidate other people from giving me their half-baked views, and suddenly I feel calm and at peace because I don't need to listen to diverse viewpoints, evaluate, decide for myself, and feel ashamed if I made the wrong choice. I can just obey the expert, and typically no one dares to question the expert.

If I knew more about health, maybe I'd do my own research, but health is not my area of expertise, nor is it an area I am passionate about, so I am satisfied with deferring to the experts in this area. But in other areas, e.g. personal finance, I am quite passionate about finance and prefer to do things myself rather than rely on a financial advisor or financial planner, and given the bad reputation financial planners have had recently, I am glad I've taken this route.

There is probably no best way to handle uncertainty. In some areas you want to do it yourself and in some areas you want to outsource to an expert.

27 September 2014

Crazy World

I don’t watch free-to-air TV much anymore because everything I watch is from the internet. I watch casual videos on YouTube and TV shows and movies on Quickflix. I do this because I cannot stand free-to-air television, which is polluted by singing contests and real estate renovation shows. But I still watch the news every now and then, and something that has come up recently is the terrorism scare. The government claims to have uncovered and stopped a terrorist plot in Australia whereby terrorists would pick random people from the streets and behead them. Of course, I have no idea whether this is true or not. When the government tells you something, it’s difficult to verify. It may be true. Nevertheless, I just get the feeling that all this seems suspiciously similar to the leadup the invasion of Iraq a few years back when the government kept scaring everyone about WMDs and terrorists hijacking planes. Of course, all this resulted in massive amounts of taxpayers money being funneled into the defence sector. Taxpayers money siphoned off of the defence sector. You then start to wonder who is funding Islamic State. These are Sunni Islam extremists. Surely the money comes from a Sunni area, e.g. Saudi Arabia. But hold on, aren’t the Saudis allies with the Americans. The Saudi Royal Family gives oil to the Americans in return for cash. What if this is just a conspiracy by the Middle Eastern and American elites to simply take money away from their citizens? You get to a point in your life when you look at an injustice and start to blame the victim. If the taxpayer is dumb enough to be led into giving up their money like this, you start to think this is the natural order, that this is how it is supposed to be.

21 September 2014

What to do after you win the lottery

1. Tell no one. If other people know about it, they will be greedy.

2. To prevent the money being spent all at once, divide the money over time with an annuity or invest it and live off the passive income. Don't increase spending or live extravagantly or more than passive income.

3. Don't get into debt.

4. Don't help others too much. Don't bankroll friends and families' crazy business ideas. Say no to anyone who wants a handout or a loan. You need to help yourself first before you give it all to others. No one is to know of your wealth anyway (see rule 1).

5. Don't divorce. If you are single, don't get married.

6. Don't do drugs e.g. cocaine.

7. Don't gamble.

8. Be careful of being sued. Frivolous lawsuits are common. Protect your assets in retirement accounts or family trusts. Talk to a lawyer or accountant.

19 September 2014

Replace Animal-Based Products with Plant-Based Products

I skipped the gym today. Last Friday I skipped the gym because there was alcohol in my system. Today I skipped the gym because the protein shake leaked out of the bottle in my gym bag and completely stained my gym clothes. Luckily, the protein shake seemed odourless, and there wasn’t that much leakage. Nobody noticed anything. I skipped the gym, brought everything home, and cleaned it all up. The problem, I think, was that I didn’t close the bottle properly.

The protein power that I’m using, which is Michelle Bridges Protein Blend with Ancient Grains, was starting to run out, and I didn’t want to buy the same protein powder simply because it is too expensive. I can get protein powder over three times cheaper from Bulk Nutrients. I just ordered the Earth Protein from this website. I purchased one kilogram for $27, not including $12 for shipping. I could have purchased more for the same shipping costs, but I want to try out a small amount before I get more. It would be even cheaper to bulk buy, of course. Earth Protein is simply pea protein mixed with rice protein. Interestingly, you can buy pea protein and rice protein separately from this website, mixed it together yourself, and you pay $25 per kilogram instead of paying $27 per kilogram. Paying $25 per kilogram for pea or rice protein is even cheaper than whey protein, which is $27 per kilogram. I am not buying pea and rice protein because it is cheaper or because I have any allergies or lactose intolerance. I just feel bad that animals are abused and tortured, and I feel that the only way to address this problem is to divert money away from animal-based products and towards plant-based products. I now also try to drink oat milk or almond milk. As much as possible, I direct my cash towards plant-based products. I use ethanol-blend fuel in my car and I’m starting to invest in agriculture ETFs. I am not a vegan. I still eat meat. I find it is far too difficult to eat only vegetables or salads for lunch. But as much as possible I eat only meat from free-range and grass-fed animals, and eggs I eat are also from free-range chicken.

Does caring for animals make me less of a man, less on an alpha male? I don’t think so. I am happy to attack people, but I usually only attack those who I feel have wronged me. Animals are completely innocent and defenceless.

14 September 2014

Using E10 and Commodity ETFs to Destroy Animal Farming

I've always been a meat eater. Meat tastes good. I also love milk and cheese. But I've always been guilty of the industrial slaughter of animals that occurs in order to produce these goods. When I speak to people about this topic, there is a tendency to rationalise. For example, people say it is natural to kill animals. Even animals themselves kill each other. When I respond by saying that it is also natural for humans to kill humans (as humans have done often during human history) people criticize me for thinking too much about it. In other words, there is a tendency to just stick with the status quo, and if something just doesn't seem right, rationalise it away.

Animal cruelty takes place in an animal farm. If you care about animal welfare, you must study the business model of the animal farm and do everything in your power to disrupt it.

How do you disrupt a business? There are three ways: (1) increase costs, (2) reduce revenue, and (3) increase volatility of costs and revenue.

If costs rise and revenue reduces, the animal farm becomes unprofitable and will shut down. If the volatility of costs and revenue is high, e.g. if the price of feed fluctuates too much, then animal farms are less likely to start up due to unacceptable risk.

Many vegans already try to increase costs and reduce the revenue of animal farms by switching from meat to plant-based food. For example, if instead of eating beef you eat vegetables, the revenue of the animal farm decreases and furthermore because the land that is set aside to make vegetables to sell to the consumer is used for this purpose rather than being used to sell feed to animal farms, then the price of feed will go up.

That is simple enough, but there are two more ways I think we can disrupt the animal farm. One is to use ethanol blend petrol in our cars (E10 for most cars or E85 or E100 if the car is compatible). Proof that this works can be found in American renewable policy that forced petrol to be blended with ethanol. This causes the demand for ethanol to rise significantly, which in turn meant that corn being grown on farms was being sent to cars rather than to animal farms. Animal farmers then had to pay higher prices for feed. This resulted in much higher meat prices (see Ethanol Helps Boost Meat Prices - NPR).

With regards to increasing volatility in agricultural prices, this is where I recommend buying agriculture ETFs as part of your investment portfolio. Not only can it save animals' lives, agriculture investments can make you rich. For example, in Australia, you can buy the Betashares Agriculture ETF. These investments don't actually buy agricultural products like corn and soy and store them. That would be far too difficult. Rather, when you buy these investments, a team of financial experts buy and sell futures contracts for corn, soy, wheat, and rice. Buy doing so, your investment will approximate the prices of the underlying crops. When fund managers buy and sell agricultural derivatives on the market on your behalf, you are contributing to more speculation in these markets, which has the potential to increases prices and, more importantly, to increase price volatility, which makes the business of animal farms much riskier.

The bottom line is that we should be switching from meat products to plant products. This applies not just to what we put in our bodies, e.g. switching from cows milk to almond milk. This should apply to what we put in our cars and our investment funds.

27 August 2014

Healthy Distractions

I finished work early today because there is not much work for me to do. I kept myself busy on the train by reading my phone, as everyone does. When I got home, I ate dinner and when I finished I had a shower. Normally, after a shower, I'd go to bed, but today I came home so early I had nothing to do for two hours.

Only a month or so ago my girlfriend and I broke up. It didn't affect me at first, but now I'm starting to feel bad, and there are times when, because I have no distractions, I start to think about things and all of a sudden I think about my girlfriend. There is other trauma in my mind. When your father betrays you, it's hard to forget, and the anger just stays in you.

I have a Quickflix subscription. I pay $10 a month and get to steam various shows and movies to my TV. I'm glad I paid for it because it's nice to distract yourself. I watched an episode of Boardwalk Empire. I love crime shows. I don't know why.

16 August 2014

Monarchy is Dictatorship

I've just read Geeks for Monarchy about the rise of people who support monarchism and oppose democracy. I find this disgusting. How can anyone support this? Monarchism is effectively dictatorship. If you want monarchism, you risk becoming subservient to Hitler, Kim Jong Il, or Stalin. You could get a benevolent dictator or benevolent monarch or benevolent king, but who wants to roll the dice and risk being thrown in a concentration camp or gulag? I'd rather live in a democracy. Sure, democracies are not perfect. The views of the masses are, quite simple, stupid. People are on average, idiots, but most people want the same thing. They want freedom, they want happiness, they want peace, they want good health--and a democratic system allows them to force these desires on the elite rather than have the elite force their values on the people.

To all these monarchists, I say be careful what you wish for. Democracy is fragile. If our democracy collapses and the elites take over to establish an aristocracy, who is to say the policies of the aristocracy will benefit these hangers on? Perhaps they will be thrown into a concentration camp or thrown into a Colloseum-like stadium to be eaten by lions. Be careful what you wish for.

26 July 2014

Quickflix vs Google Play Movies and TV

I am a Quickflix subscriber. I pay $10 a month and get access to a library of movies and TV shows. I install the Quickflix app on my Android phone and cast it to my television using the chrome cast, which you can purchase from Dick Smith or JB Hi Fi for $50.

I think Quickflix is great. I am watching the Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. I am watching early episodes. That gets to the main problem with Quickflix. The library of movies and TV shows is not very comprehensive and you mainly have to watch old movies and TV shows if you don't want to pay extra. Most content cost extra money on top of your support subscription.

I also have Google Play Movies and TV on my phone and I can also cast to my TV via Chromecast with it. I have noticed that Google has many features that Quickflix does not, mainly the ability to remember at which point of a movie you were at, the ability to download video to your device so you can watch it offline, and the ability to purchase content in HD. Google Play is simply a more polished and better product. However, Google Play does not have a $10 per month subscription. It is all pay per view. There are many shows on Quickflix that are free with the subscription that cost about $40 per season on Google Play.

13 July 2014

Why Use Bitcoin when Bank Transfers are Free?

I have been following the rise of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. I even purchased about 0.2 BTC and stored it on my phone. The problem is that I find that I rarely use it. There is not much on the internet that can be purchased with bitcoin and finding something in real life that can be purchased with bitcoin is even more of a hassle. It is so much easier to pay for something with cash, and paying with MasterCard PayPass is incredibly simple that I use it all the time now when I use a credit card.

As far as sending money to friends or family is concerned, I could use bitcoin and encourage others to use bitcoin, but I found myself having to pay my father back some money and I offered to pay him in bitcoin. He was perplexed by the idea and instead gave me his bank account details. I simply transferred the money from my bank account to his. It happened instantly and it didn't cost anything. A bitcoin transaction, however, has a 1% fee to provide an incentive for miners to process the transaction.

So then why would anyone use bitcoin if there is a 1% fee and bank transfers achieve the same thing but is free? I don't fully understand.

Why Didn't Elliot Rodgers See a Prostitute?

As many know, Elliot Rodgers was a young male who went on a killing spree because he was not able to get a girlfriend. On the day of his killing spree, he released a 140-page manifesto titled My Twisted Life.

An interesting question has been submitted. If he wanted sex so much, why didn't Elliot Rodgers buy the services of a prostitute?

Here’s the thing. Rodger did have “sexual options.” Sex workers in San Diego, not far from where Rodger lived, participate in a market that generated some $97 million dollars in 2007 alone. Had he been willing to make a day trip to Nevada, only a five-to-six-hour drive from Santa Barbara, Rodger could have paid for sex quite legally. Bracketing the immensely complicated question of how sex work should be considered as a legal matter (for a compendium of excellent articles on sex workers and the sex trade, try this Slate Long Form Collection),  and stressing that I believe that sex workers, like all other workers and human beings, deserve respect and legal protection, the question arises: if Rodger, a self-professed virgin who had “never even kissed a girl,” was so incredibly driven by the need to have sex, and if our society, for better and for worse, makes it possible for men to purchase sexual encounters, then why didn’t he pay for it?
When I read My Twisted Life, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Elliot. I think the answer is that you go to a prostitute for sex, but prostitutes are not substitutes for girlfriends. You cannot hire a prostitute to watch a movie with you. There is also a social problem with hiring a prostitute. If you hire a prostitute, it is a secret transaction due to social stigma. It is something you do to satiate your sexual desires, but Rodgers talks often about his desire to have a hot blonde by his side to make his father proud or to show others that he was superior. Having a girlfriend then is a public statement of your worth, much like driving a nice car or wearing nice clothing is.

12 July 2014

Roadside Assistance - RACV vs Budget Direct

I currently drive an old 1997 Toyota Camry that I purchased when I was a student. I've been driving it for about five years now and it has done about 260,000 kilometres. Because it is an old car, it is essential that I have roadside assistance in case something goes wrong. Some people have asked me why I don't just buy a new car. The answer is that new cars, e.g. a brand new $30,000 Toyota Camry, will lose about $3000 worth of value per year on average. I purchased my old Camry about five years ago for $7000 and a search on the internet of similar cars reveals that it is worth about $4000 today, so that is depreciation of about $600 per year compared to $3000. Sure, an old car may need to be serviced and repaired more, but I am sure that cost will not be greater than $2400 per year. A cheaper car is also cheaper to insure.

Back to the topic of roadside assistance. I've been with RACV for a few years now. I have recently received a bill from them to renew my roadside assistance. They are charging $95! Seems a little expensive. I did a quick internet search and found that Budget Direct charges $70. However, digging around a little more I have noticed one feature of Budget Direct's roadside assistance package that worried me: they only offer towing of up to 40km in the country. The biggest fear I have with this is, if my car broke down in the country, would the tow truck only haul my car 40km and that is it? What if 40kms is not enough? According to RACV's website, they offer the following if you breakdown 100km from your home: "$750, Taxi (1@$50), Rental vehicle, Alternative transport, Accommodation." The RACV benefit sounds much more reassuring.

Insurance is difficult because no insurance is the same. We are talking about highly differentiated products. It is not like petrol. Petrol is approximately the same and so you can easily compare petrol prices of different service stations according to price per litre. Insurance is not so easy. The key to comparing insurance, I think, is to look at what benefits you really think you need and then trying to find insurance that provides those benefits for the lowest cost.

09 July 2014

Ripped Off by PayPal Exchange Rate

I just purchased an eBook online from America. I needed to use American dollars and I had Australian dollars. I decided to use PayPal because I had just installed it on my phone and set up an account. I went through the motions, purchased the book, and then afterwards realized that PayPal charged an exchange rate of 0.90 when a simple Google search revealed the exchange rate to be 0.94. PayPal ripped me off! I will see if I can change PayPal setting so that it charges my credit card in US dollars and supposedly the rate charged by the card is not so bad, but if this turns out to be too hard then I will just uninstall PayPal and in rage will never use it again. Credit card is already quite safe anyway. PayPal charges absolutely outrageous fees. Not only are their foreign exchange rates a rip off but supposedly if you transfer money to a friend who also has PayPal, you must pay a 2.3% fee. What a rip off! Bank transfers are free. If you don't feel comfortable giving away your bank account number (research what happened to Jeremy Clarkson when he gave out his bank account number on TV) then bitcoin fees are less than 1%.

29 June 2014

Do you need friends?

I'm starting to wonder whether I need friends. I am in a position in my life now where I love my job and enjoy working, and it is the time I spend outside work with friends and family that bother me. I try to keep my mind away from all the drama among friends and family but sometimes it is just hard to avoid. I am trying my hardest and find that the best way to escape for all the hardship of friends and family is to just do a breakup. For me, I am getting to that stage where a nice evening alone at home streaming a movie or TV show is so much more relaxing and attractive than going to a friend's housewarming or a family gathering where you have to make conversation with annoying people. I am starting to question the conventional wisdom that friends are essential.

27 April 2014

Do You Need a Smartphone Power Bank?

Something I am not too happy with the Nexus 5 about is the battery life. At 2300 mAh, it's pretty poor. It would be fine for an occasional or normal user but the Nexus 5 really is the sort of phone that a serious smartphone user would have, so for it is certainly disappointing. If I were getting another phone now the benchmark would be at least 3000 mAh, and that is what you find in the OnePlus One and the Sony Xperia Z2.
Nonetheless, I fixed this problem simply by buying a qi wireless charger off eBay for only about $13. I have it at work and this allows me to charge my phone at work simply by laying the phone onto the charging mat. It is incredible how convenient inbuilt wireless charging is. It should be standard across all phones.
The qi wireless charger allowed me to have full power by the time I leave work and even after using the phone on the commute home and at home, I can charge the phone again overnight via micro-USB and then come back to work again and keep charging it. I effectively charge the phone twice in a day. It's a little bit of overkill, but more power is better than no power.
Of course, the only problem is if I don't go to work at all. For example, sometimes in the holidays I go out somewhere and I am gone for the whole day. For example, recently I went to a wedding. The ceremony was at lunch, which means I commuted in the morning, and the reception was in the evening and went on into the night. I was taking photos on the phone like a madman and at around 8pm the phone was dead in spite of my best attempts to keep brightness down and turn off data.
My friends at the wedding with iPhones and therefore even smaller batteries also had low batteries but at least many of them seemed to have power banks on them and they recharged their phones by plugging it into a power bank. I thought this was a brilliant idea, so I resolved to get one for myself.
I looked on eBay and found some for pretty cheap, around $20. However, everyone who used power banks at the wedding were females and they had handbags and purses in which to carry their power banks. I am a man and therefore a bag is beneath me. I need to travel light. Where would I store the power bank? I decided to look for slim power banks with similar dimensions to smart phones so that I can carry them in one of my other pockets. But then I remembered that the power bank is more than the battery itself. You need to carry around a USB to micro-USB cable (or USB to Lightning cable for iPhone) around with you as well. I then looked at buying a wireless power bank given that my phone had a wireless charger, but wireless charging is actually much slower than charging with wire and because much energy is lost via heat with wireless charging, the power banks need to be bigger than normal power banks. Wireless power banks were also note expensive, reaching about $50.
Then I realized, why bother buying a smartphone size power bank with a cable on me when, if I know I am going to use my phone a lot during a day, I can just being along my spare phone? If my Nexus 5 has low battery, I can just take out my spare phone from my other pocket or play games or read books offline on my spare phone, and if I am desperate for internet I can set a hotspot. Everyone should have a spare phone lying around when they upgrade. It is necessary because your main phone might break or get stolen. Instead of carrying around a power bank, it is much easier to just carry around two phones and use the other one instantly when low on battery.

26 April 2014

Khmer Font on Sony Xperia Z

If you are a Cambodian person using an Android device, I highly recommend Khmer Standard Keyboard (or try Khmer Standard Keyboard Small Screen for mobile). Once you install one of these apps, go to Settings >Language & input > Default and enter Khmer Standard Keyboard as the default keyboard. The Khmer keyboard should show up whenever you type. The keyboard has a button on the bottom-left that allows you to toggle from an English keyboard to a Khmer keyboard.

If you go to a Khmer website like rfa.org/khmer, you can see Khmer text rendered on the website and, if you are Cambodian, you can read in Khmer on this site. This works for my Firefox browser on my desktop, the Nexus 5, and the Samsung Galaxy S4, as well as many other devices.

However, when you go to rfa.org/khmer using a Sony Xperia Z, the Khmer text does not show up!

This was extremely frustrating. I spent many hours trying to get Khmer font to show up but nothing worked. All the websites kept telling me to root the phone, but rooting the phone can void your warrantly, so it's best not to do that.

I finally got around the problem by installing Firefox for Android and then searching for add-ons and then installing Khmer Fonts Package. This seemed to fix everything up. Khmer text still does not appear on Chrome browser and other apps but it does show up in the Firefox browser, which means you can do a Google search in Khmer and read Khmer websites.

There are a few other apps that seem to show Khmer text on the Xperia Z, e.g. Khmer SMS, Kohsantepheap Daily, and even Google Translate.

20 April 2014

Saladmaster Titanium Saucepans

It's Easter and I am bumming around with family. I had lunch with my father and ate pizza with him. Afterwards, my mother told me to tag a long with her to one of her friend's house. I went along. When I went there, I realised that this dinner was an opportunity for some sales representative from a company called Saladmaster to try to sell saucepans to us. I was annoyed as ever.

A form was passed around asking for our contact details. I then realised why I was there. My mother didn't want her contact details put down and instead wanted my contact details put down. I put down my name, a fake address, one of my many disposable emails, but put my actual mobile phone number there because, unlike email, I don't have multiple phone numbers. However, I am not too concerned about pushy salespeople calling me on my mobile because I can just tell them I am busy and request that they call later and then block their number using a number blocking app. I have done this many times.

My grandmother was with me and she asked me to write down her details. To spare her a phone call from a pushy salesman, I used my details for her, i.e. including my fake address, disposable email, and mobile phone number. The saleswoman noticed that my grandma had my details and demanded that her details be used. She said, "Your grandmother is a separate person. She needs to have her details. Do this otherwise she will break the hosting rules and she will be disqualified!" I was surprised. Here we were kindly offering our sensitive personal details (albeit fake details) and she thinks she can pick and choose how the sensitive details had to be provided. I asked, "Disqualified from what?" She mumbled something about a gift. My grandmother relented and told me to put her my father's mobile number, so I did that, thinking that I can simply warn my father and tell him to block the number after he is called. I also wrote down a fake address for my grandmother.

The sales pitch involved the saleswoman cooking food for all of us using Saladmaster titanium stainless steel saucepans. She then went on about the benefits of these products. The basic message is that if you use other products, you will die of cancer and that Saladmaster products are completely safe. You should therefore consider buying the product and consider it an investment in your health. I was absolutely flabbergasted when the price was revealed. You effectively buy a set of about six saucepans for about $6,000! The cheaper option is to buy only a few of the smaller saucepans for about $2,000. If you buy right away with cash or credit card on the day, you get an extra saucepan thrown in for free, but you had to buy right away.

I must hand it to the Saladmaster salespeople. They are incredibly effective. Many people were buying. Two of my relatives took out their credit cards and purchased the product. I had a sour look on my face the whole time, so I think the saleswoman didn't even bother trying to sell to me. My mother, however, seeing other people buying the product and clearly influenced by the fear tactics being used, wanted to get it. I told her not to get it. My reasoning was simple. Salespeople always try to create a sense of urgency because they don't want you to research and compare. This gives them an opportunity to rip you off. She responded by saying that if you don't buy now, you cannot get the free saucepan they throw in. I told her that any free product provided is funded for by rip off prices from other products. No organisation can give away a product for free unless it funds it by ripping consumers off for other products. The main argument was that titanium saucepans were better than saucepans made of copper or other metals. I did a quick Google Shopping search on my mobile for "titanium saucepan" and the prices of the product ranged from about $150 to $400. I thought it was highly suspect that titanium saucepans were sold for thousands of dollars by Saladmaster when they were sold for hundreds by others, e.g. Scanpan. Whenever someone tries to sell me something, I'm glad I have a smartphone on me. I can then do a quick search on Google or Ebay to see what the market says the price of the product should be.

There were many unknowns. Many products like braces and many utensils like knives and forks are made of stainless steel without titanium. Does that mean these can cause cancer? Do we even know for sure that stainless steel without titanium even causes cancer, and if not then why not buy a normal stainless steel saucepan?

My mother seemed a little down and sad when I told her not to buy the product. I felt guilty but luckily it is mothers day in a few weeks, so maybe I can do some research on my own and buy for my mother some high quality saucepans for mothers day.

19 April 2014

Problems with the Narrative Clip so Far

I have always wanted to get the Narrative Clip, which is a small 5MP camera that you clip on to your clothes. The clip takes a photo every 30 seconds. This allows you to live your life without worrying about taking photos. It is annoying going on a holiday and pointing and shooting using a DSLR or smartphone at the same time. It is better to simply enjoy your holiday.

However, so far, based on reviews I have been reading and videos I have been watching, I will be holding off on getting the Narrative Clip mainly because I do not like the idea of plugging it into your computer to upload photos. To make matters worse, you must have Windows installed on your computer to upload photos from the Narrative Clip. Given I use Ubuntu, it means I wouldn't be able to upload photos, which completely ruins the product. It would be better if the clip has in-built wifi that can automatically upload photos to Facebook, Google+, or some other service, which is currently what happens on a smartphone. Furthermore, although not essential, it would be nice if the clip had qi wireless charging so you can just place the phone on a charging mat overnight, although USB is not a problem.

I am also concerned with the Narrative website saying I need to pay money every month for a subcription to Narrative's apps. I was hoping that once I plug the Narrative to the computer I can just access the photos and upload them to whatever storage I want, e.g. a hard drive or cloud storage, but hopefully this Narrative app is not compulsory.

The Narrative Clip is really a simply device. It is effectively a camera. The ideal lifelogging device would be an Android clip that you can pair to a smartphone. Once you pair the clip to your Android smartphone, you can install apps onto the clip, e.g. an app that takes photos every 30 seconds and then automatically uploads to the internet whenever wifi is detected. Give this device is effectively an Android smartphone without a touchscreen or a high-end CPU, in theory this clip device should be cheap given the standard budget Android smartphone, the Moto G, costs about $250. The clip should be about $100 to $150 or even less.

06 April 2014

What to do about a dirty engine

Recently when I get out of my car, I can smell a smoky smell. My mother thought that maybe there are something wrong with the car and that, if left untreated, the car might explode. I have since spoken to an expert who told me that the oil leaks in my car. Because the oil leaks onto the engine, dirt sticks to the engine. Because the engine gets hot when it runs, it burns the dirt, producing that smoky smell. I asked him whether it was something to be concerned about and he said no. It was normal in old cars.

05 April 2014

Drunkards on Metro Trains

A man carries a bottle of whiskey in his hands and takes a drink while waiting for the train.

Wallet bulge

16 March 2014

Use a Calendar Rather Than a To Do list

Yesterday was a long day. I woke up and did a few small tasks on my calendar. To keep track of what I did, I used to keep a to do list (I used the app Tasks Free) but found that there were too many notifications for me to handle, so I now just use Google Calendar and if I need to do something I schedule it in. Using Google Calendar to do small tasks like reminding yourself to polish your shoes, cut your nail, service the car, or pump the tires, is great because you can set repeating reminders and also because the default duration for a task is one hour, it forces you to give yourself ample time to do something. Even if you give yourself one hour to cut your nails and you finish it within five minutes, it gives you free time to do something else, so you never feel like you are flooded with work. If you cannot do the task in the allocated time, you can simply reschedule to another date. With the to do list, about fifty items would pop up for a day and I would feel overwhelmed. With a calendar I can simply do one thing at a time as it comes.

09 March 2014

Personal Status Update 9/3/14

This is my first personal status update. It is pretty much a blog about how I am going. I plan to get into the habit of reporting to myself (and the public) on how I am tracking with my life.

There are three main risks with my life that I can identify right now. They are as follows:
  • Financial overcommitment (e.g. borrowing too much, agreeing to pay someone else's massive debts)
  • Damage to reputation and integrity (e.g. not standing up for yourself, letting others walk all over you, not being able to do what you want to do)
  • Major health problem (e.g. not getting enough exercise, getting diabetes)
Other risks might emerge. These are the only risks I could think of for now.

Financial Overcommitment (Green)

To mitigate risk of financial overcommitment, I will stay out of debt, not reveal how much money I have to anyone, keep myself ignorant of how much money I actually have (for plausible ignorance), play the pauper, never assume someone else's debts, and try not to promise to go on any expensive holidays with anyone. I also currently save up more than 90% of my income.

In the last month I have been successful with all of these treatment actions to mitigate the risk of financial overcommitment. I have been approached to join someone in a property investing venture. I played the pauper and told her that I didn't have any money and so the bank is unlikely to want to lend my anything. Because I am going with the story that I am broke, I have not been able to assume anyone's debts. I have no idea what my net worth is. Someone has asked me to go on an overseas holiday with them to Asia. I declined. I simply said no. I have been on holidays before and I must admit that the excitement of holidays has gone for me. I feel that happiness comes not from travelling around. Happiness comes from liking where you are. There is no point escaping to forget your problems and then two or three weeks later coming back home and being thrown back again into all the problems and issues that first induced you to escape. If you want sustainable happiness, short-term escapism is not the answer. You need to set your house in order. You need to be happy with your home, your routines, your relationships, and your work. I am working on that. I have worked on that and I continue to work on that. I don't need to engage in any expensive overseas travel to enjoy myself. I do not rule out the odd cheap domestic holiday during a long weekend or a day trip somewhere close. These trips will not break the budget.

My savings and investment targets are on track. I've had to save up more than normal to compensate for not saving up enough earlier in the year because I went on holidays. This is why I am keen on trimming my overseas holiday budget and paying off the debt to myself from splurging on these holidays. In terms of fiscal health, I am fine.

Reputation and Integrity (Green)

This risk is all about people controlling me. I have always been shy and weak and as a result people would take advantage of me. They would ridicule me and tell me what to do. After I while, I had enough and decided that I needed to learn how to stand up for myself. Entering in damage of my integrity and reputation as a major risk allows me to track my progress on standing up for myself and keep myself accountable to myself.

I can report that in the last month I have done a great job of standing up for myself. There are many instances when I have said no to point and have stood up for myself. For example, someone told me that I was stupid and I told her in a very loud and angry voice that I wasn't. She quickly apologised to me. When people invite me to lunch or dinner and I don't want to go, I have often just said no and did away with any politeness or explanation. In a gather or people recently, everyone started talking about a topic I didn't want to talk about, so I told them that I was not interested in this topic and therefore I would not talk about it any further. I do what I want to do and don't do what I don't want to do.

That being said, there are a few times when someone has said something and I have said nothing only to regret not saying it later on. In this case, the only thing I can do is to put down the perfect response in a flashcard app on my phone (I use AnkiDroid) so that I can revise it and if that topic or a similar topic ever comes up again, I will give the correct response. If that topic or a similar topic never ever comes up again, I should be happy with that. In terms of revising my flashcards, I have gotten into the habit of doing about ten minutes every weekday on the train.

All in all, I think I have done a good job. I have defended myself. People don't really think of me as a tough guy. They still think of me as a meek and weak guy. It is still early days and when people think I am weak they will continue to attempt to ridicule and control me. I will just need to be sensitive to attack and to attack back when necessary.

Health Problems (Amber)

I am mainly trying to battle health problems by apply the low-carb diet in a non-extreme way. That is, I don't completely avoid carbs but rather just minimise it. I try to completely avoid refined sugar especially but I'm rather free in terms of everything else. For example, I don't try to stop myself from eating fruits, vegetables, or even fats. I also try to limit my alcohol consumption, but that is not too hard because I don't really drink much alcohol anyway. Alcohol raises the risk of liver cancer, throat cancer, and mouth cancer.

In terms of exercise, there are two areas I am working on: strength training and cardio. I have two sets of dumbbells, 10KG dumbbells and 5KG dumbbells. Whenever I use the 5KG dumbbells, I use both of them and whenever I use the 10KG, I just use one at a time, so in total I carry 10KG at all times. Whenever I use dumbbells, I usually just watch YouTube videos that teach me proper dumbbell technique. Why bother paying a personal trainer when you can get all the answers off YouTube for free? Dumbbells are also easy to get. You can just buy them online. I purchased my 10KG dumbbells for around $60. A friend of mine told me that I overpaid and that buying online is expensive because dumbbells are heavy and couriers would therefore need to charge a lot. It is probably better to get dumbbells then from a physical store but be sure to benchmark the prices of these dumbbells against online prices. Whenever I use dumbbells, I use a stopwatch to time how long I use them and after a session is done I data enter how many minutes I used the dumbbells into Google Forms from there I can create a time series telling me whether I have been using my dumbbells or not. It keeps me accountable to myself. The graph (below) shows clearly that my dumbbell use is on an upward trajectory. I am happy if the line goes up. I am not too concerned about the steepness (gradient) of the line. I just don't want it to plateau.

In terms of cardio, I mainly rely on walking. I think walking is the best cardio workout because it is easy. I rely on the phone app Accupedo to measure how many steps I have taken in a day. I aim for 10,000 steps in a day but I am not really doing too well there. Based on the screenshot below, the average number of daily steps I made in February 2014 was 6325 and for March 2014 it was 6895. I should at least get 10,000 steps daily on average.

Because my cardio goals have not been satisfactory, overall I would say that my poor health mitigation actions are not really going well. I need to pick it up.


Walking: I am averaging 6000 to 7000 steps a day. I need to average 10,000 steps a day.

Learning: For the last 50 weeks I have been regularly revising flashcards on AnkiDroid. The recent spike is to due an exam. After the exam, I didn't revise the flashcards much but have since picked up where I have left off, doing about 50 cards per week.

Dumbbell use: The amount of strength training I have been doing is on an upward trend.

01 March 2014

Why I Got a Red Nexus 5

About a month ago I purchased a red Nexus 5. I used to have a Sony Xperia Z. Some people have asked me why I purchased a new phone. Below are my reasons.

1. Faster processor

The Xperia Z has a Snapdragon S4 Pro processor whereas the Nexus 5 has the faster Snapdragon 800 processor. The Nexus 5 is approximately 80% faster according to Antutu benchmarks.

2. There were problems with the camera on my Xperia Z

For some reason, dust particles appeared in the lenses of my Xperia Z. It turned out that this was a common problem on Xperia Z phones. Luckily for me when I purchased the phone from Kogan, it was still under the one-year warranty. I sent the phone to Kogan for repair and they gave me a brand new Xperia Z. However, it took them about two months to send the new phone to me and during that time I had to use the backup phone, i.e. the Kogan Dual-Core Smartphone, which is a horrendously slow phone compared to the Xperia Z. So I simply decided to buy a Nexus 5. It turns out that when my Nexus 5 arrived in the mail, the new Xperia Z came at the same time.

3. My mother can use the Xperia Z

My mother currently uses the Samsung Galaxy Y and she constantly complains about how bad this phone is. She says she will buy a new phone but hasn't done much about it yet. My intention is that she can use my Xperia Z, although to date she hasn't accepted it yet. Perhaps she is looking for a smaller phone.

4. The Nexus 5 is cheap and I had the money

Whenever I arrive home, I empty any coins in a jar in my bedroom. When my Xperia Z was being repaired, I decided to collect all the coins in this jar and take it to the bank to deposit the money. It turned out that I had enough money to buy a new Nexus 5, so why not? I saved up for it and I haven't gone into debt and I have not gone on a phone plan. It is unlocked and off-contract, so there are no obligations on me.

Don't use Whatsapp

Facebook has recently purchased Whatsapp for $19 billion. Many people use Whatsapp because it allows you to send messages to friends using data. Using data to send messages rather than SMS can mean that you pay a fraction of a cent per message rather than 9 cents (or more). In the long-term this can save you a lot of money.

I used to use Whatsapp along with other messaging apps, namely Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Viber, and Hangouts. After using Whatsapp for a while, I noticed in the settings that although the app was free for the first year, after you have used it for a year or so you are supposed to pay around $1 per year after that. This annoyed me greatly, so I uninstalled the program. All my other messaging apps pretty much do the same thing but are completely free. Viber, in particular, seems like a clone of Whatapps. It uses your phone's contacts to find other people who use Viber, and you can message them, have group chats, and even engage in VOIP conversations (something you cannot do in Whatsapp). Viber has more functionality than Whatsapp but it is free.

Whenever someone pays more for something, they usually give senseless rationalisations. One of my friends said, "Whatsapp is better integrated with your phone." He didn't specify. I hate it when people just say crap to justify paying more for something.

It's true that many people use Whatsapp, but I find that there are so many alternatives that there is no point paying $1 per year. Chances are, if someone doesn't have Whatsapp, they will definitely have Facebook Messenger, and off all the messengers around I think Facebook Messenger is the best. It is the fastest and it looks good as well. I also love Chat Heads, which allows me to chat with friends while watching YouTube or browsing the internet.

Many people say, "It's only a dollar a year! You can afford that." That may be the case. I don't mind spending money. I'll happily purchase a $4 coffee but that is because there is no other alternative. That is the going rate for espresso coffee in my city. But messaging apps are different. Whatsapp is the only app I know that charges money while all other apps are free. Even if I pay little, why pay when you shouldn't?

Then there are those who say that even though Whatsapp say they charge $1 per year, in reality they don't. Supposedly if you wait until the due date for payment, Whatsapp will just keep letting you use the program for free because they don't want you to stop using it. I have problems with this. Firstly, if they are lying about charging you, who is to say they won't lie later? Secondly, it is clear that Whatsapp's is employing a bait and switch technique here, luring people in by exploiting their ignorance and assumption that the app is free and then trying to charge them later when they cannot switch because so many of their friends use Whatsapp.

13 February 2014

Relax, Life Ain't That Bad

I don’t know what I can really say now. My life has been fine. I feeling like, after going through the holiday period, everything is turning back to normal, and I am starting to really enjoy and love my job. I think what I have found is that my satisfaction at a job is mainly dependent on who I work with. My previous job was bad because the people I worked with were bad people. But things have changed now. I am in a completely different team doing different work. The people I work with now are competent and kind. I feel so happy to go to work that I don’t even feel any desire to go on a holiday. In fact, it is not just my work that I am happy with. I am happy with just about all aspects of my life now. I have a girlfriend and certainly the novelty and excitement of having a girlfriend has suddenly worn off, but I don’t mind having a girlfriend, and I don’t mind if she dumps me either, so either way I am covered. I am totally hedged! I think my experience with the girlfriend constantly complaining and putting expectation on you is an annoyance I’d rather not have. I’d be perfectly happy living a single life.

I have made it a goal in my thirties now to man up and stand up for myself. I need to have confidence in my decisions and my ability to manage my own life. I think the way my life is at the moment is fine and I don’t want to change anything. I am also now willing to defend my life to the death. I feel like I need to do this because the life I live is very different to the life everyone else thinks I should live.

I am thirty now. I live with my parents when most people think I should move out. Most people tell me that I should move out in order to gain independence, learn how to cook, get a girlfriend, and not be a burden.

If I needed to, I could simply leave the family home right now and rent a house by myself. I earn enough to live by myself. I have spoken to my mother and have told her that if she wants to I am happy to move out. But she practically begged me to stay at home and argued that I would save money rather than waste it on bills, rent, council rates, and so forth. This counters the argument that I am a burden on my parents. My mother wants me to stay with her and I certainly do not mind being with her because I can save on rent, bills, and council rates. It’s a win-win situation. Because I do have my own job, I am not dependent on her. I could rent my own place and I don’t imagine cooking is difficult.

The cooking issue, in my opinion, is stupid. People always argue that I need to move out so that I can learn how to cook. I could easily just learn how to cook at home right now but I choose not to because I could not be bothered and because I don’t need to. Many people argue that eating out is expensive and so it is necessary to learn how to cook. People usually give me this argument while I am eating out with them! My counterargument is that I don’t eat out all the time. I do go home and eat food that my mother or grandmother have prepared. Furthermore, I am able to save 90% of my income. Can they beat that? If not, who are they to give me advice on living frugal. Sure I eat out, but I don’t pay rent, mortgage interest, banking fees, credit card fees, car loan, day care costs, phone plan costs, etc. Don’t lecture me on frugality! I only really eat out during lunch at work and not only does it provide me with food but it also spares me from having to cook at home and bring in food during my commute that can turn rotten and stale and stink up the office. When I take a break at work, I feel I need to get out of the office to clear my mind and eating out and getting coffee helps me with that. Eating out is also social because I invite friends to eat with me. Most of the time I spend with my friends is during lunch at work. People who criticize me for eating out or not cooking usually do so while we are eating out and I just think to myself, if you don’t want to eat out then fine, let’s stop eating out. I will stop eating out with you.

Another argument people make is that I need to move out because I need to get a girlfriend and because girls don’t like men who live with their parents. Firstly, I currently live with my mother and I currently have a girlfriend, so that hypothesis is dead. Furthermore, even if girls don’t like men who live with their parents, I consider that to be a problem with women, not a problem with me. As I said earlier, I can survive just fine with or without a girlfriend. Back on the topic of independence, I believe I am totally independent. I am not dependent on female intimacy. If the girlfriend dumps me, I don’t care. No female can lure me to get me to do what she wants. I hate it when women think they are powerful just because they are female. They think they can lure men to do whatever they want. Most women are not even that attractive and their attractiveness diminishes fast. I am also mostly asexual and do not care about female attempts to trap men into the web of marriage.

Back to the topic of independence. I have been told to move out of home to be more independent, but I am currently very independent. Like I said, I can move out of home right now and rent a place of my own. Cooking, cleaning, and ironing is not hard. I can easily learn through Google and YouTube. Some people laugh at this idea without giving me a solid explanation why there is anything wrong with it. I am so independent that not only am I independent of my parents but I am also independent of my employer. If I wanted to, I could retire from my job right now and live in Southeast Asia. As the retirecheap.asia website says, retiring in SE Asia allows you to live a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget. I am very happy to fly over and just retire at the age of thirty but I do like my job and I feel like maybe I can make a difference here, so I work for fun, I suppose, and if things go wrong (e.g. I get fired) then I always have Asia in the backpocket as a safety net. I am not like the average person. I have no debt. I have small expenses. I love my lifestyle. I can afford to eat out. Other people, on the other hand, have mountains of debt. They have car loans, credit card loans, mortgage, house and contents insurance, childcare fees, and private school fees. These people must work at their jobs for another 30 to 40 years just so they can clear their debts and finally retire at the ripe old age of 65.

09 February 2014

Feb 2014 Update on New Years Resolution

I've said before that I've started a resolution for 2014 to do more weightlifting. I initially set myself the ambitious goal of 100 minutes per week (lifting 10 KG at any one time, either holding one 10 KG dumbbell or 2 x 5 KG dumbbells), which turned out to be far too ambitious. Nevertheless, I still managed to do a reasonable and regular amount. See the results below.

As you can see on the graph, there is a point when my weightlifting starts to plateau, but that is due to an injury I had when I fell over.

In addition to tracking how much weightlifting I've been doing, I've also been keeping track of how much walking and how much learning I've been doing. I have installed an app called Noom Walk on my phone. All you have to do is install this app and automatically it tracks how much walking you do per day. It is not a perfect app. There were days when I'm sure I walked around quite a bit but it didn't log any of the walking I did. But nevertheless, I like the idea of have everything measured for you without too much effort. The data can be exported from the app in a CSV file.

In terms of learning, I am using the app AnkiDroid to create flashcards for myself. In fact, I am a long-time Anki fan and have been using it since my university days (probably for about ten years now) but only in the last few years have I used it on my phone. I don't study anymore but I still like to learn about new things, so I put new, interesting, and important knowledge into Anki and get into the habit of revising this new knowledge in the morning when I am on the training coming in to work. The great thing about AnkiDroid is that it also keeps track of your progress over time. The worst thing about AnkiDroid is that the synchronization is horrible. That is to say, I get into the habit of syncing every time I start using this app and every time I stop using it, but there are still syncing errors that appear. It is not like Google Keep or Evernote that sync automatically and seamlessly in the background. 

Many people are skeptical of measuring progress like this. Just because I measure progress it doesn't mean I will actually do it, but I do believe that measuring progress is a good first step because you don't know if you've failed unless you measure your performance. Seeing yourself perform poorly can give you motivation to do better. Another idea I've been having is to impose upon myself a financial punishment if I don't get a certain result.

02 February 2014

Sony Xperia Z2 vs Nexus 5

My Sony Xperia Z is currently in for repairs due to a faulty camera. My main gripe with the Xperia Z is the camera, which is far too slow, and the emergence of dust particles in the lenses doesn't help either. In the meantime I have been using my backup phone, the $150 Kogan Dual Core, which although it is cheap is quite poor compared to the Xperia. It is significantly slower and the display is simply bad. If you really need to buy a cheap smartphone, I recommend paying a little bit more to get the Kogan Agora HD (Quad Core) or the Motorola Moto G. I do not recommend the Kogan Agora Dual Core smartphone. The slowness of the device alone has frustrated me.

I am really tempted to simply buy a Nexus 5 right now but I have heard rumours that the Sony Xperia Z2 will come out soon. The Xperia Z2 is rumoured to have the following specifications:
  • 5.2-inch Full HD display with a resolution of 2560x1440
  • quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor 
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 20.7-megapixel main camera
  • 3,700mAh battery.
A 2560x1440 resolution would make this a 2.5K phone, which is quite incredible. The screen size, at 5.2 inches, it starting to get quite large. The Z and Z1 were already large phones, but the Z2 is looking even larger. That being said, if largeness were a problem, there is always the 4.3 inch Xperia Z1 Compact, but there is something about returning to a small screen that doesn't appeal to me. If you pay a lot of money for a phone, you want to get your money's worth, so getting less screen real estate, fewer pixels, smaller battery, and so forth just doesn't sit well with me.

Treating a Shallow Flesh Wound

I am a clumsy person. Over the weekend I fell outdoors and scratched my elbow. Flesh tore off, creating a shallow wound. I was fortunate that there were no deep cuts. See below for a picture taken on the day I fell (sorry image is poor).

To treat the wound, I washed it with Dettol and Betadeine before applying gauze and then sticking it there with surgical tape. I took off the gauze every day but what I found was that, when taking the gauze off, I would peel off the scab and as a result the wound did not heal and I'd be back where I started.

This has been going on for a week now and the wound has not healed. I went to the pharmacist today who recommend that I put on a Smith & Nephew clear barrier film and, instead of taking it off every day, leave it on for as long as possible before taking it off gently and applying the same film again.

Smith & Nephew Clear Barrier Film

Flesh wound with clear barrier film attached


19 January 2014

Five Rules of Wealth Accumulation

Is there more to life than money? Of course there is, but money is still important. For society, money (or currency) provides a medium for exchange that eliminates the need for barter and therefore avoids the inefficiencies of barter. For the individual, money gives you the means to buy essentials for life, that is, food, clothing, and shelter. Of course, if you have enough money to provide you with food, clothing, and shelter for the rest of your life, money is a luxury rather than a necessity. Regardless, below are important rules for accumulating wealth. Although some of these rules may be repeated in other posts, I think if an idea is important, it needs to be repeated.

1. Pay yourself first, automatically

I was made aware of this piece of advice from the book The Automatic Millionaire. The basic idea is that, rather than spending your income and investing what remains, it is better to invest a fixed amount as soon as you receive your pay and then spending whatever remains.

There are two ways to achieve this. One involves simply talking to someone in HR to put a specific amount from your pay into a separate savings account or fund. If you are a salaried worker who received a fixed amount every fortnight, another way to pay yourself first involves having two different bank accounts. You set your bank accounts up so that your pay goes into one bank account and then automatically, a few days after, a fixed amount goes into another bank account. You carry around a card for access to only the bank account you use for spending.

Regardless of the details on how you achieve this, you are fundamentally trying to make saving automatic. Life throws things at you. You don't want to have to think too much or bother with transferring money here and there in order to reach your savings goals. By making savings automatic, you don't have to do anything other than keeping yourself employed.

How much do you save? That is going to be different for different people, but I suggest that you start with an amount that is challenging and sticking to it. When I started working full-time out of university, I was only earning $40,000 a year before tax ($1538 a fortnight), and I automatically saved $1000 per fortnight simply because it was a nice-looking number. After a few years, I increased this to $1300 per fortnight.

2. Diversify

"Divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead."
~Ecclesiastes 11:2 NLT
It's one thing to automatically save your money but it's another thing entirely to make sure your money is safe. Personal finance experts often tell people to minimise risk by researching and doing your due diligence, but investments can be incredibly complex. Warren Buffet, the world's greatest investor, advises people to only invest in what you know. However, I believe that even if you think you know an investment, you may not. For example, if you buy shares in a company, you may know the business model, the products being sold, and so forth, but will you know every decision the managers make or what strategies they have to make the company profitable. You cannot possibly know all the conversations that go on behind closed door among the directors and executives. The problem of asymmetric information that exists between investors and managers is to an extent fixed with financial reporting and accountancy but there are limits to the accuracy and usefulness of this information.

In my opinion, when choosing investments, it is wise to research your investments but don't be afraid to go with your gut and, most importantly, regardless of what your gut says, you must diversify. In other words, do not keep your money in one place. Spread it across different types of investments in different financial institutions.

Diversification is hard work. It's not easy opening multiple funds or accounts in multiple financial institutions. The paperwork can get overwhelming and during tax time it can be difficult to account for the different tax treatments that different investments require (if this is the case be sure to use a qualified accounting at tax time). However, diversification is important, and if you have any doubts about this, do some research into Bernard Madoff. No matter what your research tells you, no matter what your gut tells you, and no matter what the financial statements say, all investments have risk, and the only way to mitigate risk is to diversify.

3. Invest for income

Whenever I invest, I like to invest in assets that produce income. The main appeal of these investments come from the idea that I can have money automatically dropped into my bank account without me doing any work at all. We all have expenses. We need to eat, buy clothes, and put a roof over our heads. If the income from your investments can cover the cost of these necessities, you do not need to work ever in your life and you may find that you enjoy your work a lot more because the pressure is off. You can take risks and be yourself rather than kowtowing to your manager. If your employer won't pay you, your investments will.

Positive cashflow is freedom and negative cashflow is slavery. It's as simple as that.

Of course, when investing for income, don't forget to diversify because high-income investments are risky. The higher the yield from an investment, the riskier it is. Some companies have high yields because their prices are going down because investors foresee future problems. Sometimes dividends are paid not from earning but from borrowings, which puts into question the sustainability of these dividends. You should invest for income but also remember to diversify.

4. Avoid debt, obligations, or commitment as much as possible

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender."

~Proverbs 22:7
Debt is slavery. Try to stay out of debt as much as possible. Debt occurs when you borrow money from someone and have an obligation to pay back at a later date. The problem lies in the uncertainty of the future. Can you know for sure that you will earn the money to pay the money back?

But I will go so far as to say that it is not just debt you should avoid but all future obligations or commitment. This means, for example, avoiding phone plans that obligate you to pay a fixed amount (say $60 per month for 24 months) and getting a cheap but good phone and using a pre-paid SIM card.

Don't get a car loan. Save up money and pay cash for a second-hand car. Some people think a new car must be more reliable and that, when you buy a second-hand car, you are buying someone else's problems. Before you buy a second-hand car, you can easily get it independently checked for defects. Buying second-hand means you avoid the massive depreciation associated with new cars. When you drive a new $30,000 car from the dealer, automatically about $5,000 in value is wiped away. If you buy a $7,000 second-hand car, there will still be depreciation, but not as much.

You should also be extremely careful with intimate relationships with others as this creates commitment or obligation. One of the weirdest observations I have made is how society labels men who are cautious with commitment as "commitment phobes" who need to "man up" quickly. They talk about commitment phobia as if it were negative. If anyone tries to manshame me by labelling me a "commitment phobe" I will simply tell them that yes I am cautious about signing up to something that would bind me and that I am proud of it. If a car salesman tried to sell you a Ferrari and wanted you to go on a car loan and you hesitate, that is commitment phobia. You're expressing reluctance to commit to a long-term arrangement. It is a prudent thing to look before you leap. 

If you sign a marriage contract, you are entering into a serious commitment of your time and cash and there are extreme risks associated. Everyone needs intimacy but too many people rush into securing themselves what they believe is an infinite supply of intimacy without fully considering cost and risk. As a man, how I handle this issue involves treating female intimacy as a product that you buy. You pay a female money in the form of gifts, dinner, lunch, and events and in return she provides you with the intimacy, and you can alter how much you spend on her depending on the quantity and quality of the intimacy she supplies. Do not have the mindset that your girlfriend is the monopoly supplier of female intimacy because otherwise she will charge monopoly prices. Always have the attitude that whatever your girlfriend is supplying, you can get it somewhere else, and this will keep prices competitive.

Of course, there are some obligations you cannot avoid, for example, you need to eat, so you are obligated to spend money to buy food to eat in order to keep yourself alive (unless you grow your own food, but then you are obligated to harvest that food). There are also those necessities that you just must have that only come in contracts that involve future payments, e.g. broadband internet, private health insurance, utility bills, rent, and so forth.

5. Play the pauper

Once I have a fixed amount of my pay automatically invested in multiple investments, I don't keep track of how much money I have saved up. Many people track their net worth every month and proudly boast about it to the world. I don't because I know that I already have enough money saved up to fly off to Asia and retire if I need to. If I save up more than what I need to save up, why do I need to bother keeping track of how much I have? Being ignorant of my wealth helps because, if someone asks me how much money I have, I can, with all honesty, tell them I have no idea. It is genuine and plausible ignorance.

Why is it important to be ignorant of your wealth and be very vague about how much money you have? One word: theft. If other people think you're a pauper, they will leave you alone. If other people think you are rich, you have a target on your back. People will come up with all sorts of manipulations and cons to get to your money. This is especially true of people who are close to you, for example, relatives, parents, children, and spouses.

I would even go so far as to say that you should both conceal your wealth and also play the pauper. In other words, pretend to be poor. This goes against human instinct. Normally people purchase status symbols in order to show off wealth, but I do the opposite because the pride I would get from showing off wealth is nothing compared to the fear and anxiety I get from thinking about theft. This means you should dress modestly (but nearly, not like a bum) and avoid prestigious brand-name products. Constantly talking about how little money you have because of rising costs and try to convince others that you don't earn much money.

By playing the ignorant pauper, you avoid yourself a lot of heartache. Gone are the begging relatives or friends who want to borrow money off you or get you to invest in their coffee shop venture. People will leave you alone and theft risk is greatly reduced.

One potential problem with looking poor is that people who think they are richer than you may put you down. Class warfare is as old as human history. It will never go away, and if someone thinks he or she is richer than you then it is likely they will ridicule you. You can fix this problem by not looking too poor. You can also fix this problem by trying to ignore the bully. If that is not possible, my strategy is to act like a psycho mobster. When someone ridicules you, simply shout back at them and make vague allusions to your connections with organized crime. Constantly read true crime fiction and constantly talk about death and killing and murder. Your friends should become wary and scared of you over time and will be fearful of provoking you. You need to be careful that you act psycho only and that you don't actually kill someone or even threaten to kill someone, as these acts are likely illegal. I only go crazy this when it is clear that someone is a snob and continues to ridicule me and I cannot ignore them or distance myself from them easily.