I Remember – You write long-distance and then wait days for reply

With the advent of Internet and wireless communication, you can write an electronic mail (email) and get a response almost immediately. With so many on-line chat applications on mobile phones, you can talk and see the person across many miles away. You will not feel lonely when you are working in a foreign land. It is just a phone call away on VoIP (Voice over Internet protocol).

This was not the case in the 1980s. There was no Internet, no World Wide Web (www). When I was away on overseas assignment or overseas training, I had to write letters and send them via air mail. The cheaper form of air mail was the Aerogramme. It was lightweight to save on postage cost.

Most personal letters were handwritten and not typed. Penmanship was taught in schools back in the early days. It was a joy to see good penmanship or handwriting. Any errors on a letter would be crossed out and the letter could be full of corrections, unless you want to write all over again.

When you sent a letter back then, it would take days before it arrived at the recipient’s address. To get a reply would take even longer when the other party was busy to craft a reply. So you waited for the postman to deliver the letter, or it might not arrive because it was missing on route to you.

Those were the days and I remember them.

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“The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” by Mitch Albom – A Book Review

Mitch Albom is a great storyteller. I have always enjoyed his books over the years. His latest novel, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, was no exception.  He had kept me turning the pages to read the life of Frankie Presto.

Over a period of 73 years (from 1936 to 2009), Mitch told the story of Frankie Presto from the time of his birth in Spain during the civil war and his musical journey until the end when he returned to his birthplace. This book revolves around music and the musical talent of Frankie Presto. Frankie played the guitar and the strings in the story are the strings of a guitar.

Everyone joins a band in this life. We cannot be alone without any social contact. From the day we were born, we were connected with different people at different times of our lives.

As you read into the story, different characters appeared at different time period. Mitch Albom then connected these characters to complete the total picture towards the end of the book. It all became clear to the reader as to the roles played in the life of Frankie Presto.

What I liked most of the story was the beautiful romance and love of Frankie with his childhood acquaintance. It was a love story that was so touching and not plain sailing. Read it for yourself to feel it.

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I Remember – You will know this special bond …

When I first held my daughter in my arm, she opened her eyes slightly and looked at me briefly out of the corners of her eyes. There was this special bond felt right at that moment. That was many years ago.

Back then there were no baby bonus or government incentives for having a child, not like now. The only decision we had to make was whether my wife and I were ready to raise a child. Bringing up a child was a responsibility that could not be taken lightly. It could not be delegated. We were both working and were in our prime of our careers (nine years after graduation) when we were ready.

When you have love in your heart, parenting can be rewarding. You would always want your child protected and shown the ways to cope with the complex world out there. It is a never ending responsibility (unless you choose to). When we get older, we become wiser because we encounter life and experience it firsthand. We pass it on to our daughter. We set examples by trying to do the right things that are moral and honest.

It is not a one-way street. As parents, we learn from our daughter. She provides the opportunities. Her actions and her psychological makeup have different perspectives, that of a young one growing up in her era different from ours. Whatever it is, it is true love that binds us together, daughter and parents.

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Lao Jiu, The Musical (老九, 音乐剧)

Lao Jiu(老九) was first premiered in Singapore as a play in 1990. It became a Musical in 2005, restaged in 2012. Some 27 years later, the play by Kuo Pao Kun still has relevance today as it was back then.

The boy born to a family of eight sisters before him, hence he was nicknamed Lao Jiu (老九), held so much hope for the family. Being the only male and very academically smart, all members of the extended family hope that he would gain scholarship and honour for the family. But Lao Jiu has a burning passion for the dying Chinese hand puppetry art that ran counter to academic pursuit. He was torn between his passion for the art and his wish to fulfill his filial piety to his parents.

This is so much the landscape in the 1960s, 70s. Hand puppetry and opera were losing their allure. Gaining scholarships and academic pursuits were the only way for poorer families to get out of their poverty trap. This was Singapore back in that era. This tussle between art and academic excellence is still seen today.

As for me, I feel for the lost heritage of our art and cultural scenes of yesteryears played out on stage. The Musical in Chinese, Hokkien dialect was a delight to watch. It was touching and you could feel the strong emotions of the characters on stage. The music, songs and the choreography were easy for the ears and your eyes. The casts played well and my favourite was Johnny Ng (黄家强) playing the role of the patriarch of the family.

Lao Jiu, The Musical started on 6 April and ends this Sunday 23 April. There are 6 more sessions to go and there are still seats to catch this Musical. Re-live and reminisce the past. I was brought back to the era when I was growing up, right before my eyes on stage. Don’t miss it. I am not too sure when it would be re-staged again in the future.

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Can we be more considerate?

On a Sunday, I was driving my car in a car park and came to a stop behind another car. The driver of the car suddenly reversed at fast speed. I could not prevent this car from crashing into the front of my car. What happened next was ridiculous. The male passenger came out of the car and was aggressive towards us. I was with my family, so was he. His wife was the driver. He said that the car had already come to a stop and its hazard light was switched on. I should not have come so close to the car and the accident was my fault.

His car back bumper was scratched slightly, whereas my front bumper and number plate took the knock more obviously than his car. What I did not understand was the aggressive behaviour of the husband. It was as if I was totally at fault! I was prepared to let the matter rest. But he insisted that we should exchange ICs. His wife was more reasonable and said that it was our bad lucks that this minor accident happened at the car park. We then parted without anyone taking any action of reporting the accident.

I reflected since the incident. The aggression shown was something that I was not expecting. I was actually expecting an apology. How can someone reverse a car without regard to obstacles or cars behind it and at such a fast speed? At the end, a person’s personality shows when he becomes the aggressor. When a person gets angry, it gets in the way to resolve the situation.

I am thinking how nice it would be when this world has more people who are considerate.

Always think of others and less of oneself.
Always make things more pleasant for others.
Better still do these without the other party knowing about it.
Make our world a kinder place to live in.

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Pay your credit card bills promptly

I knew that interest charge on unpaid credit card bills is crazily high. I therefore pay my credit bills before the payment due date. In the latest bill, we were levied with $59.12 interest charge and $80 late payment charge. Total amount was $139.12 added to our bill just because we did not pay an earlier credit card bill (March statement) by the payment due date.

What had happened was that we were away on a silent retreat during the period when the March credit card bill came and we missed our payment on the due date.

It so happened that we incurred a huge bill for March since we had used the credit card to pay for air-tickets. (We did not always incur such huge bills.)

Interest charge on overdue account is 25.92% per annum calculated on a daily basis on the outstanding balance and all new purchases charged to the credit card account from the date of purchase(s). This amount of interest charge of 25.92% p.a. is very high to get credit from the bank.

On top of being levied interest charge, the credit card company also levies a late payment charge of $80 every month so long as the cardholder does not pay the minimum payment each month. This late payment charge can balloon very quickly if the cardholder continues to ignore any payment of the bill each month.

From this episode, it dawned on me that we had to be careful and pay all credit bills on time and pay them in full so as not to incur interest charges.

If you travel away and not able to take care of payment while overseas, it makes logical sense to pay the outstanding bills before you travel. Do not wait for the credit bill to come to your home and then take action. It becomes too late.

Copyright © 2017, limkimtong for Living Investment

The material presented is intended to be general and written in layman’s language as much as it is possible. The author shall not be liable for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of material written. Please seek professional advice from your financial advisor or financial institutions on material written covering financial matters.

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“The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling – A Book Review

J.K. Rowling was Harry Potter creator. I read and watched the whole Harry Potter series. Stories of Harry Potter were magical and imaginative. The Casual Vacancy is a break from Rowling’s well-known style in Harry Potter. This novel is for adult audience instead of for young readers.

The setting is in an English small town. This is a fictional story of a society that is real and authentic. It is about human relationships and failings of human characters. It is about “they and us” tussle and getting people down for personal gains. It is about ‘not in my backyard” mentality of some of these parochial and unsympathetic long-time residents of this small town. You read about revenge, about all the ills and immoral behaviours of living in a modern society. You read about tragedies and it saddened me to see that there can be no happy endings for the underprivileged class. This novel exposes all that can possibly happen in our society.

The story-teller J.K. Rowling kept me reading until the last page. After reaching the half-way mark of the book, I pushed on earnestly to read how the stories of different individuals would end. It was captivating just like how I wanted to reach the end of all her Harry Potter stories.

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