Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Influence of Dungeons & Dragons on my investment style.

The daddy of all role-playing games has turned 40 lately.

I'd just like to share the influence Dungeons & Dragons have on my life.

I picked up D&D when I was 10. I started out with the D&D Action figures by LJN ( I used to have Warduke the Fighter and Strongheart the Paladin ) and was told by a senior in my primary school that there's such a thing as a role-playing game. Being a spoiled brat that I was when I was a kid, I was able to got to a place called Leisure Craft at Orchard Point to buy the 1st Edition Player's Handbook ( Yes, I started with AD&D, BECMI is for wusses ). It took me a while to really understand the system and I was only able to start DMing a game for my classmates a year later ( I think it was a Dragonlance module ).

Here's what D&D taught me :

a) Delayed gratification can get you anything you want. 

I remember when Oriental Adventures came out, Leisure Craft charged a whopping $32 a copy. Even though I was a spoiled brat who had $15 pocket money a week, I had to starve myself for 3 weeks before I could get it.     

I think this trained my willpower to delay my spending. At my current stage, I can delay gratification for decades.

b) Arbitrage and Securitization is awesome.

I remember trying to get hold of a Dungeon Master's guide was problematic as I already had the Player's handbook, Unearthed Arcana and the Monster Manual. I suddenly has a bright idea.

My dad's friend who was an old coot, collects copies of Playboy magazine. Somehow, being a corrupt kid, I asked him and he give me a copy because I was curious about human sexuality. My idea was to cut out pictures of the nudes and I sold them individually to kids from Whitley Secondary school (which as next door to my secondary school). I remember getting $15 for a pic of Madonna ( yeah, she did porn ! ) I think my senior in St Johns caught me making the trade but thankfully nobody reported me. 

At the tender age of 13, I was able to make a riskless gain (arbitrage) by splitting an asset in multiple components ( securitization ). If I was'nt caught by my uniformed group, I think I would be with Goldman Sachs today.

Of course, on hindsight, vintage pics of Madonna naked would be worth a lot more $15 these days. But what's a naked picture of Madonna compared to brilliance which was the 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide ?

NB:  And that senior who caught me might have become an auditor, go figure. 

c) All the advanced maths and vocabulary for the SATs at the age of 10

D&D is not a game for dumb kids. I learnt about the bell curve from the DMG and basic probability from rolling polyhedral dice. By the time I did my SATs during my JC days, I was able to get 96+% for my SAT Verbals. Needless to say, having advanced mathematics allowed me to ace my S papers and even got to an IT Olympiad training team. 

Eventually, maths was critical to passing CFA 2. 

d) Dividends investing

I was instinctively able to grasp dividends investing because of D&D trolls. You see, trolls are monsters who regenerate. If you strike a troll and did less damage than its regeneration, it is the same as not doing dmaage to it. I always thought that trolls would particularly like getting dividends because if the incoming cashflow exceeds the damage or your expenses, you will never be defeated by the monster called Modern Living. 

Just be careful of fire or acid attacks.

e) What the rules did not explicitly say that you can't do.

The most important lesson I learnt from D&D was much later during my JC days. I joined a group of pretty insane players and there were all sort of crazy RPG antics which was suited to a different kind of blog. One wizard Stoned to Flesh dungeon walls, fireballed the flesh and told the fighters to eat their way through their rooms. He also cast an Item spell on various undead creatures to shrink them into a cloth-like state and threw the resulting "skeleton-dolls" on party enemies. The druid fire-trapped his mouth and bit his enemies. The fighter has boots of flying and attacked monsters by dropping a Daern's Instant Fortress (10d10 damage, like Mjolnir ) on them. 

In between game sessions, my fellow players told me that one way to play D&D is to simply follow the rules. But they played the game differently. They did things which were not explicitly prohibited by the rules. Very often, they interpreted the rules in hilarious ways. ( eg. Any closeable item can be firetrapped. A mouth is a closeable item. )

My DM called them rules-rapists, they went further than any rules lawyer from other RPG groups. 

I think playing D&D with this group had the most profound influence on my life.
  • There is no law in Singapore that say that Engineer's can't write a bestselling non-fictional work.
  • There is no law in Singapore that say that you can't create a perpetual cashflow to replace your living expenses.
  • There is no law against 8.5% portfolio if your risk appetite can handle it.
  • There is no law against reinvesting 150% of earned income to ramp up your cash flow. 
  • There is no law that says that you can't work and earn one income and supplement your expenses from another source of cash flow. 
  • There is no law in Singapore that say that you can quit the rat race at 39 to reinvent yourself. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thank you Mr.15hourworkweek !

Sometimes, the effectiveness of one's writings and financial ideas should best be explained by a reader.

This blogger read my first book, took my $100,000 challenge, and completed it before the age of 28.

He now runs a much more successful blog.


Note : My books are no longer on sale at local bookstores. You can buy it from me by writing to me at chrisngwaichung@hotmail.com. In a few week's time I will open an e-commerce website to sell my remaining stock.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dun Pretend - Outcomes matter.

Another interesting insight from the Harvard Grant Study is what's NOT a significant contributing factor for longevity ( Living beyond 85 ) was found to be as follows :

  • Low cholesterol.
  • Heavy exercise.
  • Lack of obesity.

In fact, having an advanced degree or  a happy childhood is a greater contributing factor to attain longevity.

But I just came back from a run. I ran for about 30 minutes because I had developed a headache after 3 hours of statistical programming with R. Running produces endorphins which can eliminate headaches.

There are other reasons why I run and have one fibre meal a day, my blood sugar control is poor and medication is no longer sufficient to keep things in control. If my condition gets worse, I will develop a vascular problem which will eventually affect my chances of living to 85. ( Three vascular conditions and I am not expected to see my 70th birthday )

Exercise is an area in my life that I'm pretty sure  I know why I do what I do.

In other areas, I am less confident of the outcome I want.

I now have the means to retire, but at this point of time, I am as busy as before trying to pick up all the latest technologies I missed out while I was working. The outcome I want is still unknown.

Some people run to deal with boredom. That's a valid outcome but there are better ways of dealing with that. Others run because they want to look good, although I think that requires much more vigorous exercises.

The key takeaway is that if you want to do anything, know what of outcome you want to achieve. The thing that you do, might not be significant in meeting your objective over a long run.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

If Life is a board game, here are the victory conditions.

As an extremely competitive person at school and at work, I have been criticized for treating my real life as a game.

Engaging in gaming behaviour means that you live you life to win. Because we live in a modern society where no one has any incentive to tell you the rules of how to live your life, I've made up my own victory conditions. ( D&D players do a lot of that )

In school, my objective was a First Class Honors with the highest possible ECA record that I could reasonably attain. Much later at work, I basically just kept count of my dollars and wanted to be the first to have my investment income exceed my earned income. There were all sorts of other victory conditions I made up for myself like start a family, get an advanced degree, take the largest number of exams in a given year while holding a full time job ( I think I hit 21 in 2003, dunno why I bothered ).

Well, apparantly,  it looks like I might not be playing it right.

In the book Triumphs of Experience : The Men of the Harvard Grant Study has an interesting set of outcomes that denotes a flourishing state.

I think these sets of rules are a balanced set of victory conditions for the Game of Life.

Here is the list. Score one point if you achieve anyone of this when you reach 85 :

a) Included in Who's Who in America. ( I wonder what's the equivalent here )
b) Earning income in the Study's top quartile ( Household income is about  $13,000 in 2012 / $4,000 per member in SG although the original study targeted high flyers. )
c) Low in psychological distress.
d) Success and enjoyment in work, love and play since age 65.
e) Good subjective health at 75.
f) Good subjective and objective physical and mental health at 80.
g) Mastery of Ericksonion task of Generativity ( You can nurture and empathize with an adolescent or child who is unrelated to you. )
h) Availability of social support other than wife and kids between ages 60 and 75.
i) Good marriage between 60 and 85.
j) Close to kids between ages 60 and 75.

I think overall these are very balanced victory conditions compared to what Asian society heaps on us (I'm quite glad that a Porsche and a Patek Philipe watch is not in this list ). Most people score 3 on this list. If you can score 5 and above it means that you've lived quite a good life.

Looks like I'll be thinking up ways to change my style of living moving forward.,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Systems vs Goals - Lessons from Scott Adams.

Scott Adams' How to Fail at almost everything and Still Win Big is a book which puts him ahead as a self-help author. His book is chock-full of good, realistic and down to earth advice which is relevant for American and International audiences.

I'm only going to discuss one important lesson from the creator of Dilbert.

Systems trump Goals.

This is a very unique and interesting idea.

Scott proposes that goals are not as good as systems. Goals are a one-shot objective. The guys who take my $300,000 oath will position their goals as follows - Save $300,000 or never get married. The limitation of such goals is that while the goal is not achieved, you are considered a failure ( and you remain celibate, tough luck). After a goal is achieved, you experience a moment of triumph but the goal ceases to exist, and you lose a source of motivation..

Systems are superior to goals. A system is action-based and not outcome-based, although actions are keyed to meet certain outcomes. A system succeeds the moment you execute on it and rewards you with a high when you execute it properly regardless of outcome.

Guys who want to take my $300,000 oath should create a system which works for them such as :

a) Limit expenses to $300 a week.
b) Save 80% of earned income to a portfolio of REITs and stocks which yield at least 8% with sustainable free cash flow.
c) Farm the entire bonus into the stock market.
d) Farm all increments into the stock market.
e) Ignore market sentiment and keep searching for counters which meet this criteria. ( They are quite hard to find )
f) Date casually and look for a life partner in a school or place of personal development. Ask at least 2 girls out for a date in these environment.
g) Eschew single bars, salsa classes, hipster cafes or areas of frivolous pursuits as these places may not yield the proper life partner.

Once a system is created, every cycle ensures that you will get closer to your final objective. You succeed every month when you can farm 80% into the stock market. You also give yourself a pat on the back whenever you meet someone in a writing/ accounting/ finance/ language class. While the system may not get you to $300,000, if you can sustain this over a few years, it will improve your net worth substantially.

You may even like this system so much, you can carry on with it even after meeting your target. ( But you should'nt carry on dating different women after marriage, not good for your health. )

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The mouth speaks, the testicles feel good : The Power of Negative Predictions.

Recently the Government refuted an article that predicts the Singapore economy going along the same way as  Iceland as it crashes due to the various bubbles which are already forming right now as we speak. I was asked for my opinion as to whether the situation might actually come true.

My basic answer is - I don't know. But having spent some time in the public sector, I am confident that the government will react to this prediction. As to whether the government overreacts ( I am always inclined to think that they do, given my personal experience ), the jury is still out. I am inclined to think that MAS has  acted years before the article to start cooling the property market.

But my blog is not so much about the greater economy but about what, at a micro-level, people can act when faced with a similar situation.

Similar to Philistines are a class a fellow citizens that many of us are not particularly inclined to hang out with.

These are folks who are full of negative predictions.

You know these guys, if you are studying for an exam, they will predict that you'll get a C-. If you participate in an ECA, they will say that it is not of practical use in the workplace. Because we are such a competition society, some people think that by predicting a negative outcome on something, another person can be brought down a few rungs.

As the Hokkien saying goes "Chui3 Gong4 Lam3 Par1 Song4" - The mouth speaks, the testicles feel good.

According to these very insecure people, making a negative prediction does not incur a cost, if you do actually fail, they get to say "I told you so."

Let me tell you a little secret ?

I love negative predictions.

They are the fundamental building blocks of my success. A negative prediction let you prepare for failure. They allow the person to do another reality check on their goals and ambitions. Perhaps you did not account for time management when you signed up for more public speaking. Did you back-test your portfolio strategy before you invested your hard earned cash ?

To sweeten the pay-off, the negative predictor will eat his words if you succeed, that is a very powerful motivation for me. You should make it a point to exult in your triumph against such folks, nothing psychically damages them as much as your personal success.

For me, the flabbergasted look from a frenemy is the most beautiful thing to behold. I think it feels better than seeing Serina Wee.

Of course, since we live in a very competitive Asian society, you will never defeat all of these people. Their faces changes but you will always have people who will predict your next big failed attempt to do something. But I think a large part of personal success comes from confronting your critics and making each feedback personal.

You need to get angry and personal over things if you want to be significant in any pursuit.

For a guy who has set-up a family, built a career to retire before 40, I still get plenty of negative predictions in my current state.

a) People predict boredom in early retirement.

That's what enrolling in an online University is all about.There are multiple projects in the pipeline ( many involve programming ) and the escape plan to pick up part-time work in 6 months if "retirement" does not pan out. I can always write my next book, and I've not even started calling our all those friends on FB for lunch.

b) Some people think I will gain weight

To prevent that I am eating less and introducing one fibre meal a day. I am also targeting to exercise everyday. Without a day job, your willpower reserves can be channeled completely into keeping healthy.

c) Increase in interest rates will drive me out of retirement.

No one said this to me yet, so I conjured an inner critic and made this one up. All investors will need to monitor their interest rates. If it goes up, not only will it impact your mortgage payments, your REITs will have to channel their rental income into their loan payments. You'll be hit by NAV loss and lower investment income. The way out of this is a day job some exploration of part-time options will take place once I get a good rest.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wanna retire early ? Don't be a Philistine !

I was trying to find the perfect word to explain why despite living in one of the friendliest tax regimes on Planet Earth, many Singaporeans still struggle with modern serfdom.

This word is Philistine.

Singapore is full of Philistines.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as follows :

a :  a person who is guided by materialism and is usually disdainful of intellectual or artistic values
b :  one uninformed in a special area of knowledge

Philistines are everywhere in Singapore. These are the folks who get upset when someone else buys a car or goes on a holiday. Of course, they will eagerly buy a car or go on a holiday once they get the funds to do so, often with the aim of inflicting psychic damage on fellow Philistines.

Generally speaking, local Philistines do not contribute to the knowledge economy, money is largely made by hustling, which explains the disdain for intellectual values. They are also too lazy to develop any special area of knowledge.

But interestingly enough, Philistines are not dumb - anyone who knows their brands well can't possibly be stupid.

Philistines miss out on two key things when it comes to personal finance:

a) The pursuit of material goods reduces your financial capital which allows you to escape from the rat-race.

b) It is intellectual pursuits which provide the knowledge to really thrive in this economy. i.e. The jury is still out on how Big Data will revolutionize business functions like sales, marketing or HR.

Even though I am retired, I generally don't give a hoot about the guy who drives a BMW and wears a Patek Phillipe. I actively discourage consumerism, although as an investor, I am like a vampire that feeds on the consumption by others.

Introduce to me a 40-something year old geek who understands MapReduce and can build his own Hadoop cluster and he will gain my envy and respect.  I might even buy him a kopi to tap on his expertise.

My advice to folks who aim for early retirement is to eliminate your Philistine friends and start looking for intellectuals to replace them. It's easier to live a non-materialist life if you are surrounded by people who respect ideas more than material belongings.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Settling into a retirement lifestyle...

After spending my first week populating my timetable, I've finally settled down into a slower retirement lifestyle.

My day today began with a brisk jog because I've recently been waking up tired. The jog managed to release some endorphins in my brain and gave me a high before I had my breakfast. After that I settled down in Woodlands library to attack all the quizzes in the "Computing for Data Analysis" course in Coursera.

I think so far, a combination of physical exercise, programming study and reading will allow me to spend my retirement with relatively low personal expenses. Beginning tomorrow, i will be attending a series of Finance/Tech related talks to find out what the rest of the world is thinking about.

Anyway, let's talk about constraints today.

When i retired one of the things I wanted to do is live with some constraints so that whatever I'm planning becomes sustainable :

a) No computer games.

Initially I used to dream of wasting my time playing MMORPGs upon retirement but now I think I'm getting too old for that. By restricting myself from games, I have to force myself to seek alternatives for mental stimulation and flow, which led to MOOCs being the new MMORPGS. Scoring quizzes, getting technical certificates and benchmarking against students internationally, is not too different from killing monsters and taking their treasure.

b) No more taxis, restaurants, weekend movies and other large expenses.

This constraint is something I made up until by first gush of dividend payments this March. I have a reasonable dividend flow of about $24k a quarter, if I spend the first 3 months on austerity, I would have a  cash hoard which I can use to fund my courses and condominium renovations for the rest of 2014. So far, keeping expenses low is really easy if you do not have a day job. Your willpower can be used solely to keep expenses down.

c) No travel... yet

This constraint is practical. My wife is on a new job and has yet to accumulate enough leave, as such I will skip travel for at least 45 days and, even if I travel, it would be to KL for my next book buying spree. There are certainly plenty of opportunities to see the world but I want to get fit so that I can take long walks and endure the "hardship" of living in a cheap hostel.

There are some projects I will be holding in reserve, I would like to setup an online store to sell my books sometime next month, thereafter I think there is room to learn a new language. If I get fitter over the next few weeks, I should be able to enroll in a self-defence class.


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

How rhetoric can be used to diagnose the problems with PAP.

One of the constraints I built into my retirement plan is that the learning should never stop. My learning program will mirror a liberal arts program, something which I was unable to pursue in my youth. Right now, I'm trying to teach myself rhetoric by day and R programming by night.

After some basic grounding in Rhetoric, I think I am getting some insight into the recent problems faced by PAP.

Rhetoric is the ancient art of persuasion, Aristotle divides it into the three parts of Ethos, Logos and Pathos. By understanding the three components of persuasion we can look into the PAP's strengths and weaknesses.

a) Ethos

Ethos is an appeal to authority. When someone has ethos, this person not only has a stake in politics but is also qualified for the role. PAP candidates have usually strong ethos, coming with an almost perfect academic record and has enough knowledge to run a constituency. The PAP's weakness is that it's difficult to field a candidate that's vested in the interests of middle-class voters as many believe that PAP chooses elite candidates that really cannot understand the problems faced by many Singaporeans today.

b) Logos

Logos is a measure of logical appeal. This is where PAP reigns supreme. No matter how you look at government policies, PAP is the candidate of choice to push unpopular but logical policies to be accepted by the electorate. Having a policy based on statistics and logic ensures that it's watertight and immune to attacks by the opposition.

The having the strength of logos is also it's weakness. Appeal well to logic comes at the expense of being human. Which brings us to the next point...

c) Pathos

Pathos, or emotional appeal, is the PAP's Achilles heel. PAP has lost its emotional appeal which made it the dominant party in the 1960s. PAP candidates are largely drawn from the upper echelons of the Administrative service, spent most of their lives being celebrated for their academic achievements. These candidates are then pushed in front of the people and made to show that they understand the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Every remark which the people deems insensitive is then magnified a thousand fold in social media.

Fortunately, I have some ethos of my own. My time in NTUC and a government agency actually allows me to offer some ideas to beef up the PAP in future elections.

This is what I think should happen to turn the tide :

Launch an NTUC Scholarship ( eg. The Devan Nair Industrial Relations Scholarship Award )

Having worked in both NTUC and a government agency, I will make the conclusion that NTUC Industrial Relations Officers have way more EQ than many Administrative OfficersI knew.

Yes - Senior civil servants tend to lack Pathos.

The PAP should tap the Labour Movement for its future generation of leaders.

For emotional appeal to work, the government needs to invent a scholarship which is heavily biased towards candidates who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. These candidates will then be offered free local university education and be bonded with labor unions for up to 4 years.

By sifting candidates based on grit, tenacity, perseverance, and to a lesser extent academics, the PAP can slowly build a cohort of candidates which appeal to the middle and working classes.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Quick initial thoughts on life without a day job.

The reality of having no day job has not started to sink in yet as my first weekday without employment was actually spent quite productively. I spent the morning in NUS certifying my transcripts and the afternoon helping my in-laws with an errand.

For the first time in years, I had decent sleep. My Fitbit registers about 5.5 hours of sleep on a normal weekday when I needed to go to work the next day, yesterday I had the luxury of having 7.5 hours of sleep and great rainy weather to complement my first full night of rest.

When I woke up I had grains and cereal for breakfast, something which I hated in the past because they took too long to chew and made me late for work. Now, even though I hate cereal, I had the whole morning to finish my breakfast so there's no excuse anymore. This meant more energy for the rest of the day, and no carbohydrate-induced coma after lunch.

Lunch was also different. In the past, I would choose any stall with a short queue and always came off thinking that food in Singapore tastes bad and is overpriced. Today. I went to a hawker centre and deliberate went for the food with the longest queue and had probably had one of the best Wanton Mee in Singapore for $3 ( It was at Clementi hawker centre ).

I also saved on coffee, as I no longer require a shot of caffeine to concentrate on my approval papers.

I think the insight I had for today is that a hidden side of Singapore exists once you escape the rat race :

So long as you are not competing for resources with the rest of the corporate world, transportation rides are leisurely, food and even movies can be cheap.  

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Heather Chua is wrong ! All RGS girls should absolutely fall for ITE guys !

Once the storm has calmed down on Heather Chua, cool heads will prevail and she will be revealed for being a troll who is playing the rich-poor gap card to get attention from the Internet.

There are certainly many unions which people will support, much like the way some football fans love or hate Manchester United :

- Twilight fans wage war over whether Bella should go for Edward or Jacob.
- Hunger games fans support the not-so-fun-to-pronounce Peetniss union ( Peeta/Katniss )
- Mediacorp fans also gush with excitement over the Joanne Peh/Qi Yuwu union.

As for me, I think there is a great value and logic in the RGS girl / ITE guy union. So if Heather Chua is right and there is indeed an RGS girl who married in ITE guy, I'll be cheering them on !

It's something policy makers really think about.

Right now, i think Singapore still believes in traditional Asian matches, where an "A" man is expected to marry a "B" woman, a "B" man is expected to marry a "C" woman, etc... Such an arrangement will result in an overwhelming supply of "A" women like those from RGS and the misunderstood ITE guys who get an unfair rating because of the elitist society that we belong to.

An RGS woman is intelligent and completely capable of looking herself, does she really need an intellectual powerhouse like an RI-guy or the swaggering wealth of the the ACS guy ? She's probably smart and rich enough to take of herself.

Here's why ITE guys should be given fair consideration:

a) ITE guys start work earlier and can start compounding their savings at a younger age.

The problem with advanced degrees is that you start work late. While you have a higher pay, you will have fewer years to compound your savings. ITE certificate guys start work immediately after NS at about 21. Compare that with a medical doctor who can only get their first paycheck at age 26.

b) ITE guys can expect better increments due to the political sea change in Singapore.

Have you wondered why plumbers and electricians do so well in Australia and England ? These economies are not as open to globalisation as Singapore is. Our inflow of foreign talent keeps the folks in services related fields low. As our electorate is starting to reveal their fangs in the last election, I think that blue collar work and services oriented jobs will receive a larger proportion of pay increments in the past as foreign workers are sent packing. So it's highly probable that an electrician can have a better increment than a magazine editor in the next few years.

c) Opportunity costs to have a single breadwinner in the family is low.

A professional couple is always struggling to balance work with family. If you disagree with my points (a) and (b). the ITE guy can quit his job and start doing stuff to keep the family running. If his pay is low relative to his wife, it only means that it the opportunity cost of quitting his job is lower. If a RGS doctor marry an RI/ACS lawyer, the opportunity cost for one spouse to quit is too high and child rearing duties normally become outsourced to the maid.

I think with that in mind, perhaps policy makers should really start to address the oversupply of highly educated women and blue collar men. Here are my proposals :

a) Have special subsidized dating events for RGS women and ITE guys.

While the policy of having SDN run events with the private sector comes from a good place, tax payers money should be channeled to where it can help the most. RGS-ITE couples can run these events and talk about how to make their union a success.

b) Provide an actual cash award for such couples.

In countries like Qatar, men are financially rewarded for marrying locals. Why not credit $50,000 to such couples for a start. I think the impact on our budget will be minimal.

In summary, I think part of the reason why people are hurt by Heather Chua is that Singapore is truly elitist. While people get upset with Heather Chua, no one has actually stepped forward with a logical reason for RGS women to marry ITE guys and propose policy interventions.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Some thoughts on my last day at work.

Today is my last day of work.

Officially, at age 39, I am retired. But in practice, I expect take a good rest and then I will decide what I will do for the rest of my life. At the moment, my quarterly dividends will pay my bills and mortgages, something which my investment income has been doing for sometime.

At this stage in my life, it's probably not wise to stop working. Even if the bills are being paid, work is a great way to meet people and interact with friends. Work also keeps my mind sharp. What I am currently quite sure about is that I will not be pursuing jobs that I've been doing for the past 15 years. My jobs tends to be very procedural or bureaucratic in nature with very little technical expertise required to perform them. Two more years and I would have lost all my industrial know-how. The 90 minute commute in each direction is also quite draining.

In the short term, my priorities are follows :

a) Keep healthy and improve my diet.

As much as I hate to, not having to rush to work means that I can take my own sweet time to finish my bowl of oatmeal. I also have a Fitbit to track my activity to ensure that I am at least twice as active as before. And retirees also have that rare luxury of 8 hours of sleep everyday. (My Fitbit tells me that for my recent working years, I've been clocking only 6 hours of sleep a day. )

b) Develop myself as a person.

Being an IT engineer who has to track market movements everyday takes a toll on your humanity. Retiring gives me a rare privilege of really examining my life. One of my personal disappointments in life was missing out on Cornell University scholarship during my A level days due to my poor ECA and CL2 results. This is a great time to get acquainted with the liberal arts again. I'm starting with the personal study of Rhetoric. These days are plenty of web resources and library books which I can use to improve myself even though being self -taught is hardly equivalent to being taught in an Ivy League University.

c) Update my tech skills.

As an investor, I need to keep up with my technical skills. Analytical tools like the R statistical language are exoskeletons of the mind. I'm going to spend my evenings attending a MOOC to pick up enough R to crunch financial data-sets. Right now, I compute my financial ratios by hand and key them into a spreadsheet. Perhaps proficiency in a statistical programming language can help me with better investment decisions. I would also be trolling Bloomberg for free classes on their platform. There are also plenty of things about the tech world which I'm curious about, like Hadoop and DevOps.

Long term, I have not decided what I want to do. One possibility is to return to school, another is to start a business and a third option is to seek part-time work as a lecturer. I will do some travel and engage in my hobbies before I make a decision.

In the meantime, you can expect some interesting articles to be put up on this blog.