elb's hovel of thoughts

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Hollow Halloween

*Knock knock*

I froze for a minute, then asked my housemate who was sitting in the living room a question.

'Is it me or did I hear a knock?'
'Yes you did'

I felt bad. I had always wanted to participate in Halloween since I was little, but over the past few years I had been living either in university accommodation, or in house shares. Those people tend to use Halloween as an excuse to dress up fancily and to get drunk.

This time, I was living in a housing estate with children about. A kid (or a bunch of them) was probably outside in a cute little cloak pretending to be a vampire or an assortment of various characters, holding a water pistol ready to squirt.

I really should have remembered to drop by the supermarket on the way home to purchase a couple of packets of chocolate and candy. But too late, because the supermarkets/ local stores were nowhere nearby.

Instead, I switched the kitchen light off, and closed the door to the living room, giving the illusion that no one was home so that no one would come knocking hoping for candy that was never there in the first place, and got back to work.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Congratulations, Shi!

Shi, a close friend of mine, broke news to me that her boyfriend proposed to her over the weekend. Congratulations! You're the first close friend of mine that I know of who is getting married, I can't believe that you're already 2X! We are growing old! :(
But let not that thought detract us from the happiness of that news, I am very happy that your long distance relationship has worked out, and that the rocky patches have smoothed themselves out :) Not to mention that I am honoured to be the first person outside your immediate family to hear of this most wonderful news!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pimp me a Supercar ride/ Office blues

This can only happen in London, bless:

A: Did you know what happened earlier when we were on the way to get lunch? A guy in a Lamborghini slowed down next to us and asked us if we wanted a ride! *Giggle*
C: Really! Goodness! How exciting!
Me: I'm still waiting for the day when a girl in an SLR slows down next to me and asks me if I want a ride! Or in any supercar, for that matter.
A,B&C: Awwww...


This can happen in any bloody office, curse:

Printer jammed and not working for random reasons.
Network system goes down for a whole day and not much work can be done.
Minutes of boredom as the in tray is empty, and just when you're wondering what to do, several assignments suddenly arrive that will keep you occupied for the rest of the day.

One of the most important lessons so far?
The corporate environment in the Western World is flat. No psychotic bosses yelling at any one, and everyone respects each other. Whether they possess a mere O level qualification or whether they have Masters degrees, or whether they're a director or whether they're the postal staff or receptionist. No hierarchy whatsoever which gives anyone the 'right' to yell at anyone or to be bossy over another.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Terminology headache

Hedge funds. Derivatives. Emerging markets. CAPM. Foreign exchange. Trading. Mergers and Acquisitions. Futures. Warrants. Equity. Zero coupon. FCF. Fixed Income. Short selling. Debt Capital. Options. Leverage. Security. T-bills. Corporate finance. Writing. Pension fund. Trading. WACC. Commodities. Shares. Investment banking. Instruments. Underwriting. Standard derivation. Wealth management. IPO. Inflation. Speculation. Spread. Beta values. Tax shield. Research. Prime Services. Mutual fund. Swaps. Par value (HA!). Market value. Restructuring. Ratings. Preferred stock. Portfolio. Massive pounding headache. Need sleep.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Godfather

If you haven't already, go and watch the Coppola films now! They are absolutely brilliant. At the very least, the first two films. The third film rather pales in comparison with the other two, but its all over 10 hours of cinematic goodness, and priced cheaper than most of the TV series of comparable screen time.

So, how did I get involved in watching these? I've always heard from people who have watched it rave about it ('I'll make him an offer that he can't refuse!' probably being the most quoted line), but I never really gave it a thought. Perhaps it was partially down to my (now vanished) naiviety that old films would pale against more modern films. Such, the modern special effects are something missing from the old films, but eye candy doesn't make a movie. Okay, I'm not going to do a full review or whatever because I don't have time and there are so many well written reviews already out there.

But something I thoroughly enjoyed was the music used in the movies. The haunting and unique music just somehow complemented each other perfectly. The only other instrument besides the trumpet used for the movie openings to which I find equally 'spine tinglingly mournful' (for lack of a better word) was the Norse string instrument used in the Rohan theme song for Lord of the Rings. But there's one problem: The few English songs in the movie just don't fit at all. If you ask me, they should never have been there!

Since then I've also watched 'the Bridge over the River Kwai', with plans to obtain Ben Hur, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia and some of the other classics. Interestingly, in the same vein, my taste in music has also gone back a couple of decades. I think I'm getting old. Ah well, not to worry until I get some more positive cash flow, whenever that is.

Seriously, if you haven't watched the films yet, please do. And please buy the originals because they really are that good.

P.S. Question for those familiar with the Godfather (Spoiler Alert!)

If anyone is familiar with the music used in the Godfather, I'm trying to find the song which was played by Anthony to his father Michael (resulting in flashbacks to Appalonia). Its such a beautiful song (my only clues are that its a Sicilian love song and that the instrumental version is also the love theme for the Godfather). Please do let me know if you know! Thank you.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What free newspapers are good for

I'm sure many of you in London have seen the many people along the streets, giving away copies of the free evening papers London Lite (LL) and thelondonpaper (tlp), which join the more nationally available morning paper, the Metro. If you've been to the City, there are copies of the City A.M., which is more of a light business read. And that's not counting the newspaper that your council delivers to your home for free every fortnight or so (well, not really, that's why you have council tax). Goodness knows what other papers are available out there.

More pests than do-gooders, its not uncommon to see the people trafficking the LL and tlp literally shoving the newspapers into your face. And with the Evening Standard's prices increasing 25%, that doesn't help either.

They're light reads and suitable for reading on the Underground, as long as its not rush hour and everyone is crammed like sardines in a tin can. Most of the time people leave them in the bus or on the Underground.

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Yet another of the free newspapers. Hmmm.. what do we do?

Here's how I reuse my copies, recycling and leaving them on the Underground aside:
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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Back to business

*Work is awesome (so far). How time flies indeed! The only drawback is the need to sleep early, otherwise more likely than not, one would fall asleep at the desk after lunch. Of course, this leaves me not much time in the evening to deal with everything else. This means the need to be selective. Why should I bother with certain issues when I have so much better things to do, actual intellectual stuff to do, with my limited time? Sorry, but with all the legal and finance stuff I am absorbing, I don't have a nanosecond to spare for kiddie play. And please, don't flatter yourself into thinking that kiddie issues are even worth a personal insult.

Back to business.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Plasters and Cards

So, what did I get today?

Besides the usuals, I picked up a couple of other items:

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My access card attached to a clip with a retractable thread, a record card of my monthly Underground pass (no more forgetting to swipe at the DLR yay!), and the rear of the Oyster card. More than double my usual monthly travel expenditure, sigh. And oh, some plasters as well. Why plasters, you ask?

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Bah. I thought my shoes wouldn't need much breaking into, but was I wrong. I think I might need to do as many other people here do (wear trainers while on transit, change into formals at work), but my shoes were supposed to free me of that problem. We'll see next week.

Disclaimer: If you are squeamish, just hit page down and skip the next picture

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At least the cut wasn't as bad as the previous pair of shoes. My heels actually bled, my socks were soaked in my blood, and the shops were not open because it was late....