2013-02-02

Playing the fool, to play the fools

So I used to find it amusing when my female friends in high-school said that they needed to play dumb to avoid intimidating guys. I seem to have the same problem with women. If I'm smart they leave... if I tell dumb jokes and smile, they take me home, sometimes.

Weird.

... and I used to think it was funny when chicks told me they needed to dumb-up to get a husband. FTS

Eggs

Eggs are good. But oily - so the volume of acidic vegetables (possibly fruit) co-consumed just needs to be higher, to lend a balance.

Facilitating

Doing pitches is fun. Coordinating them, not so much.

Feels like the first time I got myself hired as a sort of coach.

Buttons

I hate sewing buttons.

Familiar nonsense

Just deleted another email from mother. What a bore. Folks who don't learn to ignore their heartstrings. Plague of my life.

Fuck this shit. CNY reunion email ring. MUTED.

I have more tolerance for strangers than relatives, because I've known relatives for too long. Haha.

Plans?!

Business "plans" are a misnamed breed. They vary in form and function, according to their internal and external audiences. I much prefer the term "pitch book," for anything angled at an audience who is unfamiliar with the subject operation. People who are already familiar with the subject operatiom usually plan in point-, and not prose-form.

2013-02-01

Normalising

1983-2000: do fairly predictable boring work (default)
2001-2004: do fairly exciting work out of the ordinary (aggro)
2005-2007: do fairly predictable boring work (moderation)
2008-2012: attempt multiple targets, for the sake of (complication)
2013-2022: do fairly predictable boring work (r&r)

Done. Found something to do until 2022, unless there's a fuckup along the way. Current job extended for a few more months. Possible project launch in a few months. I have begun liquidating my portfolio of warrants. I just turned my phone lines back on, so I have normal Internet access again, haha. Also as a complimentary measure, because my hobbies for this period are still going to be very geeky, I am dialing down my interest in jobs of a purely technical nature. I hope this is the start of a solid period of recuperation, and also study.

Got a solid four days of work till the next deadline. Hope I can find a nice chill space to do it in. Seven to ten months of subject matter expertise to catch up on. Reading like a mad mofo.

Sometimes, I get tired of looking for opportunities. What's given up then, is upside reward. Yawn. R&R.

Branding tweaks

I think it's time to strike programming off my resume. More notes to come below.

The first concern at my second sales interview

September 2007

"I read your resume. I have a concern. You're going to leave."

And this is supposed to impress me, as a potential employee?

Lol

A question from my first sales interview

July 2005

"How do you define success?"

Every night, as I go to bed, I check myself, and delete my dissatisfactions with life to-date. That way, I am sure that I am satisfied with my life even if I never wake again. But I keep waking up anyway, so every day is a new adventure.

;p

2013-01-31

We'rollin

Import licenses, neurological pathways, IT outsourcing, financial statements, and a thespian... in two days... I am going to risk taking a break somewhere in between.

Enforced bedtime. Discipline breeds productivity. Good bye world.

Too much caffeine. Sigh.

Fringe

You know you're weird when your "proper conversations," are other people's "bullshit sessions." :)

Typical employer: "What do you WANT to do?" / Me: "Re-write mathematics. But they weren't hiring non-math-majors for that. So I'll take a paycheck and call it a day. :P"

More like, "call it a life." Haha.

2013-01-30

Trading money for memories

Here's the short version first.
I wasn't supposed to have any savings at the age of thirty. I was supposed to have spent a few years studying quantitative stuff, burnt out my savings, and then attempted to begin life as a normal member of the workforce after that. As it turns out, life never is exactly as planned, I didn't spent too much time actually on quantitative studies. Instead I got stuck in a few jobs, had spare cash, decided to invest it not in the business of making money, but in an education in what happens when you hypothetically try to make money, finished that project, and moved on with "stuff post thirty". At this point I've probably lost most readers, so I'll just get on with the long version.
On memory.
Everything that is done, is only worth doing for the resultant stories. Nothing else propagates as florally as information encoded in streams of humanly sensible imagery. And so I tend to plan about this dynamic of human cognition a lot, and try to ensure that I remember things by having a story to tell about them. This is not a revolutionary thought by any stretch of the imagination - such dynamics are regularly studied in anthropology and neuroscience. I just try to apply them to myself, in my personal operation, quite frequently.
On the way.
  1. I come from a family where we don't really plan to retire, we spend a lot of time investing in knowledge, and pretty much intend to work until we keel over. So in college, I found myself inadequately served by the intellectual culture of the institution and my peers, and stayed for the second-half just to get my degree, on the college's dime. I graduated with a tiny, 10-year, interest-free loan, which as a gesture of thanks to the college community, I paid off within a year or two after graduation. I was twenty-one. The plan was, upon graduation, to focus on learning things, and not on making money, until I was thirty. I figured, naturally, that if I wanted to make money after that, I would be better served by any accumulated commercial knowledge, and maybe I wouldn't want to make money after all. It turns out, I'm still not interested in making loads of money, but I do think it is a novel project to try a commercial strategy, from time to time, and to see how the market reacts. And to see how I react to the market participation, as well.
  2. My first two years after graduation, I moved through three jobs, at a government think tank for track-two diplomacy, at a consulting firm that surveyed job salary prices, and in a supporting role for the equities investment team of a Malaysian bank. I quit that third job, because I had been asking for more opportunities to write computer programs, and they had gotten tired of trying to give me other things that didn't actually need to be done, such as larky training programs, with no particular KPI. I'm no slouch, the money was shit, and I figured I could teach myself much more programming at home for a little while.
  3. From my third to fifth year after college, I helped entrepreneurs to set up two companies. Neither of these turned out to be a high-growth startup, though both CEOs claimed that they would aggressively pursue growth. Not enough appetite for compromises, so more disappointment, I suppose. Both companies have turned out to be lifestyle businesses, and one of them may or may not actually be making any money - of that, I am not sure. But what I learned from this period, was a bunch of stuff about how (i) business operations, and (ii) software systems, are designed, developed, maintained, and eventually put to death intentionally or through natural causes.
  4. From my sixth to eighth year after college, I attempted to avoid jobs, by raising my price for freelance work. I ended up billing larger invoices than I billed in the years before, but met some of the most miserable business people you could ever hope to work with, for, or against. At the beginning of the seventh year, I was trying to stop moving from rental to rental, and was trying to purchase an apartment not too far from Kuala Lumpur, which I could make into a longer-term base for studies. Some of those folk I mentioned were met in the process of trying to transact this property. Half way through the eighth year I gave up waiting for the transaction, and began renting the property. I have been here a month, I hope to not have to move again for quite some time, and it has been gorgeous.
On trading.
  1. I took a slow job while initially waiting for the apartment to transact, and in my seventh year post-college, with the excess cash that I wasn't supposed to have, I forced myself to begin trading stocks and call warrants (European options) on the KLSE. As it was excess, the money was not a problem, so the gamble was on; the point was, if the money was lost, to be able to lose the money without flinching. There was a two week period when I was on on leave from my job, and able to spend the entire day, every day, on the market - that was a positive experience, and I did feel that I had significantly more control over my portfolio during that time.
  2. Otherwise, as the seventh year came and went, and I avoided all employment in a desperate attempt to find more time for study, I encountered social friction in (i) a quasi-romantic relationship, and (ii) separately (as anticipated) with my mother whom I had committed to entertain for the last time, by sharing a home for a few months. I also attempted to spend less time on trading, and was then able to confirm that the less time I spend thinking about trading, the worse my judgment of the markets becomes.
  3. Since then, my portfolio has been all but wiped out, from my failed hands-off approach, and I am wondering when to liquidate the portfolio. But there is a good chance I will simply write it off completely, in order to help myself remember what works, and what doesn't work for me, as a trader. It is very likely that when I can summon the time, financial capital, and presence of mind, I will, in the future, trade again.
On these experiences.
I have spent the last two days working on a project involving financial statements, and have been happy to learn how to balance the balance sheet, intertwined with the cash flow statement, and the income statement. This has reminded me that I enjoy the knitty-gritty of finance, even though I have very limited experience in this field.

The money spent on my trading portfolio was equivalent to roughly half of my net-worth at the time I began trading. I am happy with how it has gone, and will use this experience to remind me of the opportunity cost of hands-off investment management, which I am not particularly good at yet. For example, I could have used that to pay tuition for a formal degree program, as the down payment for a larger home, or on a better car.
Levelling up.
I am twenty-nine now, not quite thirty, but the next phase of my life is upon me, and I am looking out for something to do. I have been vocal to my peers, and in public, about my interest in doing just one job (or vertical path) for the next decade or so just for the hell of it. Let us see what happens next.

Work as art

I'm not fussy about jobs, no seriously, I'm not. It's because the stuff I do for fun is pretty esoteric, and no one would really pay me to try and redesign the language layer of math. (I'm sure someone would, but I'm not desperately looking for that.) It's also annoying to hear people disliking their jobs. It's furthermore annoying to hear people hate the notion of disliking jobs. Too much hate, there is, out there.

I treat my jobs as work. I don't seek a work-life balance. I seek a perfect, indistinguishable, blend, of life, as work, the expenditure of energy. I don't want to love my work. I don't even want to be conscious of my work, outside of just doing what I would do anyway, for fun. Of course, the economics of this entails getting paid to do things that you enjoy doing, so really, I'm saying nothing new.

But if you 'wanna get with me, baby, my work has to like you. I am my work.

LOL

Financial Growth?

I don't understand obsessions with "growth", in revenue, in earnings, or in market share. Growth for these, in a period-on-period sense, is inherently limited once a player is market-dominant. Shouldn't profit velocity, and profit acceleration, be enough? I haven't dug into the specifics of any company that I can use as an example, to whine about specifically. But some obvious candidates come to mind.

Wait, Bezos said this about $AMZN? There I was thinking it about $AAPL #fail. (Going out on a limb, I'm not sure if they realise that $AAPL's investments are also in software infrastructure that drives sales of their hardware. Probably too often discussed, and no direct comparison here. I'd say I'm just making this up.)

Touch

Over the years, I've found that while I take to making abstract decisions really easily... I'm often wrong. I've got a much higher accuracy when working with high volumes of data, whether it is sensation, or numbers. Maybe I'll just learn to move away from too many high-level decisions in the absence of detailed data. Maybe I'll focus on stuff that I can micro-manage. Maybe I'll never learn.

Learning to state finances

Today I'm putting together the projected three-year balance sheet, cash flow statement, and income statement, for a project. I have done this once before, in 2008, and with very limited review. So much of today is spent studying accounting, specifically the terminology and structure of these statements.

At the end of the work day, I have a complete set of these statements which sketches out roughly where the project stands, from a monetary point of view. However, the accounts do not balance, so I will attempt to fix this discrepancy tomorrow by reconstructing them from scratch.

I also am learning more to
  • begin with the more concrete data points, the cash flows,
  • and then to progress to the balance sheet, which is a summary of cash flows,
  • and then to progress to the income statement, which is a further abstraction of all the above, with regards to the fiscal year
It is not yet clear to me if my understanding of this is correct, but the above schemata / working-hypotheses are what I have at hand.

I intentionally ignored accounting studies since the 10th grade, when I opted out of classes in school. It is good to catch up on postponed learnings. I have had various less in-depth exposures to financial statements, since school. (I have generally tried to only learn things when it seems efficient to do so - perhaps the algorithm for that sort of judgment should be put into another blog post.) Sometimes, more commercially oriented friends of mine will say that I have an over-intellectualised vocabulary. HAVE YOU HEARD WHAT ACCOUNTING SOUNDS LIKE TO A NON-ACCOUNTANT? It probably sounds like Shakespeare to someone with no sense of metre, or like analysis to someone who does not analyse. Other memories of having interacted with generally commercially-oriented people flood back into my mind. Particularly, of course, I remember an interview at a boutique corporate finance consultancy, but that is a story for another day.

It is good to work with startups, again. Aside from these quantitative projections, I have much qualitative subject-matter knowledge to catch up on in this project's domain.

Aside, today I also received a message from a web startup CEO that I worked with in the past. It is somewhat amazing that after five years in the business, she still can't figure out how/where to hire CSS coders. That is almost literally like trying to set up a restaurant for five years, and not learning how to train and retain floor staff.

Update: the next day, I balanced my first set of financial statements for an entire operation, by myself. Excited. Had been putting off this domain of knowledge for over a decade!!!

2013-01-29

PhD blues

My poor post-doctoral friend had concussive damage in a skiing accident. While recovering, she Tweets that her mind is sad and hungry.

My mind is always sad and hungry. Maybe I have permanent head damage. *sic*

Social management on $FB versus $GOOG

Facebook doesn't have a place where you can annotate your relationship with a contact, where the annotation is visible only to you. Does it?

Google most certainly provides this feature.

As a sometimes-hyper extrovert, I need this feature. Otherwise, I forget who my friends and co-workers are from past points in time. There are just too many. I don't really care about other people in general, too seriously, *sic*, and my "inner-circle" is simply whomever I'm working with in the present.

Honeypots

Social media - intelligence organisations can be hilarious.

Dirty in the house

I snap on gloves and raid your crannies
Discovering dirt and extracting filth
Scrubbing you down, cleaning you out
Inside your stone flesh

A clean surface makes for greater pleasure in contact, between foot and floor. :)

2013-01-28

Bad medicine, for the soul

Trite thoughts while sweeping.

Many people seek to resolve their emotional inadequacies through social interaction. This is of course, a norm. But I tend to frown upon it, as it is crutchy. I wished people would more often seek to firm up their internal constitution, instead, or as well.

There's a dimension of psyche that can be construed as multi-polar emotional instability, on one end, and complete stoicism on the other. To stoics, the majority of society ("the norm") appears to be bipolar. To bipolarians (?), the majority of society ("the norm") seems cold and mean.

What to do? Some will say find a social medium, some will say just get on with your own path.

LOL.

Work-life balance

Managed to clean up the flat, before a whole day of meetings. Hopefully the meetings will be productive. Mostly, just meeting friends. But I always hope that my friends contribute to my productivity - that is how I pick friends. :)

Update: two social meetings ffk-ed, but the one business meeting was successful, so I am on-project for a month!

The artist

I don't know if it's your curves, or the paper, but something's annoyingly fuckable.

2013-01-27

Y-trovertion

Managed to set up three meetings within five hours of each other, and still pitching for more. If I wasn't such a pathological ambivert, I might actually get conventionally-somewhere in life. Abiverts are supposed to make good salespeople. Maybe I'll actually find out someday. I'd thought I'd figured out how to work a crowd when I was 14.

BACK TO DIJKSTRA DAMNIT.

Hours later: after more farting around TwitterJaya... DIJSKTRA DAMNIT...

Malay

Listening to Malay radio, because it's a good time to learn how to speak it properly. Now playing: KL FM (yeah, not too proper, I know.. :p).

My Chinese neighbour must think I'm a bit wonky, because the Azan is playing really loudly now.

Later a lazy sax plays "We Three Kings," as the DJ announces it's nearing midnight... and soon there's a ballad sung in Mandarin. Malaysia is nice for this sort of thing.

Sex in neutral

There's a clear correlation, it seems: when I'm less socially active, and therefore have weaker memories of women, and their public exhibitions of fertility, my basal sex drive is weaker. And that's a good thing too. Who needs a sex drive in solitude? It gets in the way of study operations. Lol.

Back to the frame of mind I had in college, and during the first two years of exploratory post-college work. Don't get me wrong, I mean, in the right relationship, it's great to have sex everyday, more than once a day... sometimes more than once per hour, but right now, there's just no reason to go looking for that.

Maybe I'll regret it someday. Maybe not.

Values

I just updated my public profiles with a note on my priorities: usually I put work first, and family last. My own, of course, not those of the people around me.

I find that, after living in a society of such easily surprised people, and having repeated myself so many times, in reiterated explainations, it may be be best for me to simply mark myself this way.

Tablets don't bend... yet

... and it's a good thing, too, because after reading too many things that I don't immediately understand, I'm instinctively inclined to crumple up the tablet, and toss it in the trash...

Page 278/300. Gonna eat my veggies and go to bed...

Rules of engagement with child soldiers?

If you encounter a weaponised child, you treat it like any other weaponised entity. Disable or distroy it. Then you find the weaponiser.

One might just surrender if it's their child. Weaponiser wins.

"Quiet time"

Quiet time, in the evangelical Christian tradition that I was raised in, refers to a regular (usually, daily) period of Bible study, prayer, worship, and reflection. It was always helpful for composing the psyche. After figuring out the technical underpinings of how to interact with religious rituals, I generally stopped this daily practice.

But since setting up my base of study in Cheras, I have begun to readopt this form. My quiet times are essentially a few hours of my day, and I study math, stats, logic, and other languages of quantification.

It took me a few years to figure out a structure behind the entire modern Protestant Bible. I guess figuring out math will take longer.