Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What we did while they traded monkeys


I've always been a non gambler. I've never won any bet in my life as long as money's involved. Every time I put my cash down, it went 'Pooof!!!' The only time I won some money was eons ago when someone asked me to place a bet on a number for her. Of course the winnings went to her. So, since then my hobby has been to watch from the sidelines, until I got sleepy or bored. The only way to keep myself entertained during family gatherings is to make myself a drink, croak into a mike, play with a camera, or just strum on a guitar after all the good food has been stuffed away.

I know of a few people chasing the money in the stock market. Out of about ten, I only remember one saying he made some profit. Only he wasn't sure how much. Another honestly said he broke even with one or two good stocks to cover the disastrous ones. The rest were probably too embarrassed to talk about throwing away their hard earned salaries chasing bulls when the bears ran, tails between their legs. (I’m not sure if bears got tails anyway)

I guess not being in the high income bracket (just what do you mean by 'high'?) makes me very cautious about where I put my money. It's certainly not in someone else's pockets and definitely not for buying monkeys. It could have been the life-long training from the time when I first learned how to use money. It was a scarce item those days. We could even describe it as sacred. We’d learned to stretch every dollar and when the kids came along they picked up the habit. They’d go to school with bread and jam (or margarine) and a bottle of water in lieu of cash (I’m told some kids use up to RM5 a day). Mine said canteen food never appealed to them. Besides they didn’t like the rush and the queues. One even had a classmate called her 'bread-face'. She laughed and thought it was a good joke.

Wife thinks spending other peoples' money is not happiness. And I got sort of dismayed when she also classified my income in the same category as 'other peoples' money'. I had to keep reminding her, it's not MY money, it's OUR money. Truth be told, if she wasn't there holding the fort, handling the ‘homework’ I wouldn’t be having that free hand and ease of mind to bring in the dough. Yeah it’s nice to have both of us earning more money and having everything. But it’s even better to come home to a nice warm meal, change into freshly washed clothes, and walk barefooted on cool squeakily clean floors. You should know what the jungle is like out there. Home is your sanctuary where your wounds get healed from all that clawing and scratching and patching up the bullet holes.

Putting the kids through higher education has been our major goal in lieu of the inheritance we can’t give them. While it looked impossible in the beginning it's now already two done and one more to go. And it looks like we’re making it through without too much of a sweat as the two older girls who're already earning are pitching in. I'm not comparing us with people who're doing it a lot better and could send their kids overseas. I think ours is, and will always be a great team. If we had any specific goals it's just to live our lives well and face the future together, while keeping it simple.

They tell me I've done a great job in spite of being the sole bread-winner. All I’d say is every one of us worked hard for it and together we made some right decisions. But I believe the all knowing One Who Determines it all has dealt me a great hand for which I will always feel thankful. Looking back now, it all seems so easy. But no sir, it's not a gamble. We never trade monkeys.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

So, what's in a name?


Some say, plenty. Others just try to avoid doing things like giving a dog a bad name. Some illiterate parents of my previous generation wouldn't thing twice about naming their kids after some farm animals. I'm not saying they're bad as names go, but that's all they could come out with. The nicknames they label their kids with were even worse.

When you want to give your child an appropriate name you may want to consult the 'tongshu' and base it on the date and time of birth. That's for the 'technical' minded.

When I wanted to name my kids, I made sure I tested each one out loud how it would sound like in a few major languages to avoid giving anyone a red face later. Some names could sound like profanities in other languages or dialects. Others could insult those with sensitive ears.

Make a name simple, that's my motto. Your kid could easily live up to it. Not a name so complicated to pronounce that foreigners have to twist their tongues into a knot trying to address them. Not a name so huge in historical fame that your kid can't measure up. LIke Mohandas Karamchand, Ghenjiz Khan or Shih Huang Ti.

And I think you won't go wrong to apply that same principle to your product's brand name or company name.

So, anyone going into the drinking water business? Here's a suggestion for the brand name: "Glug-Glug".


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

stuck at three o'clock in the morning

To someone stuck at three o'clock in the morning,

On your way back to a happier

or more bearable existence

Life's a long road full of distractions,

obstructions, pot holes and detours

that come in many forms

through your daily journey.

To redeem your self-respect

and to being able to look at yourself

with dignity again,

you're going to need all the help you can get

to get through each day.

But you owe it to yourself

to keep going

and you must remember

to assure yourself each new day

that it will be worth it

to live on.

Occasionally you'll need to look out

and away from yourself

to gain back that perspective

of sharing this world with everybody else.


You're not lost

Just need a little hug to go on