Hello from |Florence. There is so much to say about how beautifuil this place is, how messy it is, how wonderful it is. But its dinner time n we are cooking pasta.

Random dreams (& hobbies) - updated May 2012

I hope to one day do a musical performance on stage. Either sing or play instrument.

Not sure how that is going to work out considering I can't play anything properly at the moment :P


Discussing with the best friend on hobbies (and my lack of it) and came to a conclusion that I will start one. Life gets tiring when your life revolves around commuting (2 hours a day), work (10 hours a day), eating (1-2 hours a day), errands/housework/grooming (2+ hours a day), sleep (8 hours a day).

The problem is always on how to fit it in.

So based on her research, there are three types of hobbies.

Collecting things - Not for me especially since now that I have moved into my new place, my focus is on getting rid of things instead of getting new things. In fact, the thought of owning more things irritates me nowadays (maybe because I need to find a place for them).
Art - Music and art have never been my forte though I love it so. Maybe baking desserts? Palm reading? DJing?  Volunteer work? Some options there I guess.
Sport - Again, I have never liked sports and my only time in a gym my whole life was when I was feeling inspired for two weeks, around three years ago, and went in twice a week. Not been in a gym since then unless I am meeting my husband for dinner and he picks me up from there. I suppose learning to shuffle or takeing dance class could go into this category?

And then there is always travelling. <3 If money and leave from work were endless, my hopes for the year include Boracay in Philippines, Spain, Portugal, London and New York! Ah, life.

Singapore Bookstores

So recently I had to get some (uncommon) law books for my cousin and had to scour through the different bookshops in Singapore to find them. Here is my evaluation of the local bookstores:

1. Kinokuniya - Replied within 2 hours, telling me that they did not have the books but could order it immediately. Books would arrive 4-6 weeks later. 4/5
2. Times - Replied a day later, gave me a follow up call the next day when I didn't reply. Very helpful and proceeded to order the books and gave me pick up options. Told me that the books would arrive 1 week later. 5/5
3. Borders - Replied after three days, apologised and informed that they did not have the book. 2/5
4. MPH - Called me after one day, apologised and informed that they did not have the book. 3.5/5
5. Harris - Replied after two days, apologised and informed they did not have the book. 3/5
6. - placed an order immediately. Books would arrive 2-4 weeks later. When I had queries, staff managed to get back to me within 3 hours. 4/5

All in all, service was pretty decent with all the bookstores getting back to me in one form or another. Service staff I dealt with were also very kind/helpful/apologetic.

The book stores can improve by allowing for an online search of their database. That way I can find out for myself if the store carries the book. Also all the store websites should definitely have a special order email address to send these type of requests to. There were 1-2 instances where I had to send it to a general email.

In the end, I ordered one of the books from opentrolley and the other from Times. Should be getting them real soon :)

I don't invest but...

The price of gold is through the roof again (I monitor gold for my client) and I must say the best thing to invest in now is either 1. Gold 2. Asian currencies/economies

The truth is that no one has faith in the US dollar nor the Euro. So where are the super rich going to park their money? They are going to buy gold. Either that or invest in economies that have growth potential. (hello emerging asian economies!)

Interesting article on drilling in the arctic

Published September 29, 2010

Cold front opens up in energy race

Opening up the Arctic to economic development is risky. There is already geopolitical conflict brewing in the region


IF WE didn't already have the phrase Cold War, we'd have to invent it to describe the power struggle taking place for Arctic Ocean resources. Companies such as BP Plc and OAO Gazprom are readying themselves for the last great energy frontier.

Russia, the US, Canada, and Iceland are vying for control of the wealth and power that exploitation of the Arctic will create.

It is all madness. Trying to bring the frozen wastelands around the North Pole into the global economy involves two huge risks: catastrophic climate change, and a major war.

It isn't worth it. The world is making progress with alternatives to fossil fuels. It has enough growth opportunities already. There's only one sensible response: a complete ban on the economic exploitation of the Arctic.

The melting of the polar ice cap is providing access to vast, untapped reserves of oil and gas. BP estimated in September last year that the region may contain about 200 billion barrels of oil-equivalent resources. That may be as much as half of the world's hydrocarbons still to be discovered.

BP's recent experience in the Gulf of Mexico might have slightly damped its enthusiasm for offshore drilling. But even if the company doesn't want to tap the Arctic fields, plenty of its competitors will be happy to.

It isn't just oil. The melting of the ice cap may allow direct shipping between Europe and Asia, halving the journey time. New trade routes will mean new ports and transport hubs.

Iceland, bruised from its recent attempts to become a global financial centre, may find its future in trade instead as ships pass through the Arctic.

Throughout history, trade routes have been a great source of wealth. This one won't be any different.

The trouble is, opening up the Arctic to economic development is fraught with risk. There is already geopolitical conflict brewing in the region.

'It is important to maintain a zone of peace and cooperation in the Arctic,' Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at the International Arctic Forum in Moscow last week.

'I have no doubt that all issues, including those of the Arctic shelf, can be resolved in the spirit of partnership.' If you believe that, you'll believe anything.

In reality, Russia is pouring huge sums of money into assembling the scientific and geographical evidence that will allow it to push its territory as far into the Arctic as possible.

The world has seen how Mr Putin's Russia uses energy as a weapon of power politics.

That Mr Putin believes Arctic disputes can be resolved amicably is about as plausible as believing he has genuinely handed over power to President Dmitry Medvedev.

In truth, the Russians are planning to grab control of as much of the Arctic as they can. But so are Canada, the US, Iceland, Denmark, and Norway.

If the Chinese can think of some plausible reason for saying it is theirs, no doubt they will be there soon as well.

There are two good reasons to place a ban on Arctic mining. First, climate change. The logic of the energy industry appears to be this: Fossil fuels create global warming, which melts the polar ice cap, which is sort of handy - even though upsetting for the polar bears - because it means that with all that stupid ice out of the way we can start drilling for more oil.

And once we get it out, and start burning it, it will melt the ice some more, and make even more oil accessible.

It's crazy. If the polar ice cap is melting - and the bulk of scientific evidence suggests that it is at a rapid rate - the first thing you need to do is stop drilling for more oil.

True, not everyone is convinced that climate change is man-made. There is room for argument. The scientific consensus has been wrong before, and may have gotten this one tangled up as well.

And yet, given the catastrophic consequences if the consensus is right, why take the risk? Great progress is being made with alternatives to fossil fuels.

Electric cars are on the verge of breaking into the mass market. Wind, solar, and nuclear power are increasingly able to heat our homes and offices.

They are better for the environment, and they don't leave you dependent on people in Moscow or Riyadh to stay warm in winter.

Why not press on with developing those rather than drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic? Second, no one really knows who owns the Arctic.

When it was just a big block of ice, no one really cared. Now that money is at stake, half the world is making claims. In the 19th century, the major European powers competed for control of the resources and trade routes of Africa and Asia. They ended up with World War I.

There is a risk that a similar rush to control the Arctic may trigger another major conflict. Even if it doesn't, competing ambitions will poison relations for years.

A ban on mining and drilling in the Arctic is the only way. For a few more barrels of oil, it's not worth the risk.

Matthew Lynn is a Bloomberg News columnist and the author of 'Bust', a forthcoming book on the Greek debt crisis. The opinions expressed are his own