ad astra per alia porci

Chicken Soup recipe
June 29, 2007, 8:55 am
Filed under: food

Chicken Soup

I tried this at home but with some modifications. I skipped the noodles mix, pasta and beef bouillon. I used concentrated chicken broth and much more cracked black pepper. The pot I used was a bit too small but having a smaller pot made the soup tastier since the soup is more concentrated. The chicken I used was bought from NTUC, which isn’t a great choice since it would be best to buy an old, flavourful chicken. Unfortunately this is Singapore; the quality of meat available here is… decidedly normal. Next time I might just use two chickens for the stock.


  • 1 (2 to 3 pound) whole chicken
  • 3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled
  • 1 packet chicken noodle soup mix
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 1 pinch poultry seasoning
  • 1 pinch dried basil
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pinch dried parsley
  • 1 (8 ounce) package farfalle (bow tie) pasta


  1. Place chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Place celery leaves in pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and place in a bowl until cool enough to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, place celery, carrots, onion, bouillon, soup mix and chicken broth in pot and let simmer. Season with thyme, poultry seasoning, basil, peppercorns, bay leaves and parsley.
  3. Bone chicken and cut up meat into bite-size pieces. Return meat to pot. Cook until vegetables are tender and flavors are well blended, up to 90 minutes.
  4. Stir pasta into pot and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, until noodles are al dente. Serve hot.


Hengxin Technology Ltd
June 29, 2007, 8:43 am
Filed under: companies analysis

Hengxin Technology Ltd (SGX: I85)

As of 29 May 2007

  • 1 SGD : 5 RMB
  • EPS: 0.08/share
  • P/E ratio: 4.875
  • Earnings Yield: 20.5%
  • 52 Week High: 1.070
  • 52 Week Low: 0.360

Continue reading

eating tips
June 29, 2007, 3:59 am
Filed under: training and nutrition

Here’s a nice article from MSN regarding the benefits of eating unprocessed foods and the dangers of “faux food”. The main gist of the article is that processed foods contain much less nutrients as compared to food that is processed less. Processing food, be it through heating or mixing with chemicals, amongst other methods, inevitably strips a food of its nutrients and usually replaces it unhealthy elements like trans fat and simple sugars. 

The solution is to eat foods that are unprocessed, or at least less processed. In a society where our alimentary habits are often dictated by the range of foods at our supermarket shelves, it is harder to gain access to truly “whole foods” that are unprocessed and organic. We barely have any farms here in Singapore, much less farmer’s markets.

However it is still possible to at least alter a diet towards unprocessed foods. This involves mostly substitution and elimination of dietary options. Some basic guidelines when choosing what to eat:

  •  Unprocessed, not processed foods – eat food that looks like food. Eat grapes instead of grape jam; say no to doughnuts and junk food like potato chips.
  • Whole foods – try to eat the whole of a food item instead of parts of it. For example, eat brown rice instead of white rice and don’t be afraid to eat chicken innards together with the meat.
  • The less items/ingredients on the label, the better – avoid labels with a long list of gibbrish like dicalcium phosphate (?), datem (??) and “artificial flavours” (whatever that means). More “ingredients” and chemicals, the worst it is for health.

For starters, go for complex carbohydrates. Substitute white bread with wholemeal bread; try having whole grains for breakfast. They are healthier and keeps a person full for longer.Popular bread brands like Gardenia and Bonjour have wholemeal and multi-grain equivalents for their white bread, and they are not much more expensive than white bread.

Avoid processed foods. This is quite easily done. Instead of a Mars or Snickers bar, go for real dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. Instead of corn syrup, go for real corn. Honey Stars can be easily replaced with grains like oats and bran.

I wager that most Singaporeans do not eat enough fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. Just look at the paucity of vegetables found in most of our hawker centre dishes and the relative unavailability of fatty fish in most dishes. We have our kuning and garoupers but they do not have the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as “ang-moh” staples like salmon and cod.

A simple solution would be to consume a serving of steamed vegetables at home everyday. For most working professionals doing so during lunch would be hard given the exigencies of work, so do so for dinner. Buy a whole bunch of vegetables on Sunday and consume throughout the week. Nothing too fancy, just steam the vegetables and eat.

Obtaining omega-3 is a bit harder, since salmon and cod are expensive fish and they take some preparation. What I do personally is to buy fish oil tablets and pop two of them each day. A good alternative would be to drink cod liver oil; it’s a bit of an acquired taste though.

On top of switching diet staples, there are some specific foods that can be added to a diet for their extraordinary nuitritional value. I read Superfoods Rx by Steven G. Pratt and in the book the author listed a total of 14 Superfoods. Personally I have been consciously eating most of the Superfoods ever since reading the book and I do experience an overall increase in well-being. My heart rate has decreased and I feel more energetic. Of course this might be the placebo effect at work, but I really do think that eating these Superfoods on a long term basis will yield immense health benefits. What is there to lose? The food is natural and yummy and most importantly, they taste real, unlike processed foods.

i think i just fell in love
June 28, 2007, 5:52 am
Filed under: diary


What a beautiful guitar.

The temptation to buy is overwhelming.

modules schmodules
June 27, 2007, 6:40 am
Filed under: diary


Being in the University Scholars Programme (USP) and double degree programme (DDP)makes module choice rather confusing. In order to avoid confusion when I start school I surfed the NUS website to clarify what exactly I have to do to fulfill the requirements of my degrees.

There are three types of modular requirements I have to satisfy: law, economics and USP requirements.

Firstly, the USP requirements. This website is probably the most useful one with regards to modular requirements for DDP students in USP. Apparently I have to complete 8 First-Tier Modules and 4 Advanced Modules. There is no need for me read Breadth modules, whatever that is. Requirements are published on a yearly basis; I am taking the 06/07 requirements as a proxy for 07/08. I am regarded as an Arts-based student. I can’t make any guess about which modules I will take since the list seems to change and information about the various modules on the USP website is incomplete.

For economics, I have the compulsory modules and elective modules. For elective modules, I am interested in:

  • EC3312 Game Theory & Applications to Economics
  • EC3332 Money and Banking I
  • EC3333 Financial Economics I (will take this)
  • EC3341 International Economics I
  • EC4332 Money and Banking II
  • EC4333 Financial Economics II (will take this)
  • EC4341 International Economics II

I have to choose 4 modules though.

For law, it’s pretty straightforward. I have a grand total of one law elective to take. Here are some potential choices:

  • LL4032 International Investment Law
  • LL4060 World Trade Law
  • LL4065 Comparative Corporate Governance
  • LL4006 Banking Law
  • LL4089 Chinese Corporate and Securities Law

Hopefully the admissions package explains my requirements well. Currently it’s quite foggy, especially with regards to USP requirements and how it merges with my DDP requirements.

calvin and hobbes’ last comic strip
June 26, 2007, 8:50 am
Filed under: diary

I was clearing the contents of my webmail when I chanced upon this mail sent by a dear classmate from secondary school, in which he inserted what is apparently the last Calvin and Hobbes comic strip done by Bill Waterson. I am inserting it here; it’s really poignant.

calvin and hobbes

What makes it even more moving is that it was sent to my secondary school class’s yahoogroups mail right at the end of our time together as secondary four students at the school. The mail was sent on 17 October 2002. It summed up our graduation pretty well; it was a defining moment, a departure that marked the end of the halcyon days of our teenage lives as well as the beginning of life in junior college and beyond.

Being at the brink of starting my university life instills my chancing upon this email with even more meaning and infuses me with a greater sense of nostalgia.

Why I am studying Law and Economics
June 26, 2007, 8:45 am
Filed under: diary


School opens in about one month’s time and I guess it would be good to rationally go over and put down in words the reasons why I am pursuing Law and Economics at university. At least it will be interesting to see how my thinking would have changed after I have started studying. I will write about my potential career paths before exploring the reasons why I am studying these subjects.

Currently, I am considering two potential career paths. I will either embark on a career in the legal sector as a lawyer or forge a path in the financial world, preferably in the area of investment management. As of now I have a tendency to prefer a career in the financial sector.

A career in the law offers me the opportunity to exploit my ability with language and analytical thought. It is a challenging career that will develop my thinking and speaking abilities, on top of my interpersonal skills and problem-solving abilities. I have a tendency to be competitive and goal-oriented and hence being a lawyer caters to these instincts. I have an intellectual interest in the nature of morality and the difficulty of pronouncing judgement; being a lawyer will allow me to directly involved in exploring the frontiers of morality.

Delving into the investment management industry appeals to my wide intellectual interests; life in the financial markets involves being able to utilise knowledge from diverse fields ranging from psychology and economics to physics and mathematics. Being able to materialise academic theory in concrete investment strategies is a great pull factor; I will be able to indulge in my interest in epistemology and economics.

Why study Law and Economics? Below are the reasons:

  • Knowledge of the law will give me an edge in my asset management career. Knowing the rules that govern financial markets will help me in my job, especially if I become a fund manager or decide to start my own fund management business.
  • Studying law provides good training in analytical thinking and verbal persuasion.
  • Understanding the impact of laws on economic behaviour allows me to formulate a trading strategy with an edge.
  • Law and economics are complimentary subjects that gives me a broader perspective and endows me with a more comprehensive understanding of the world.
  • A law degree is a mark of calibre and ability in the eyes of potential employers. The NUS Law school is an established law school.
  • Studying law is a good hedge against the possibility that I might not want to pursue a career in finance, in which case a career in the legal sector is a great backup plan.
  • Studying economics will provide me with the tools of analysis and thinking philosophies required for me to be a good investment manager.
  • The double degree exposes me to people from two different faculties; I will have a more diverse array of friends.
  • If I am to practise law, I will most probably go into commercial law. An understanding of economics will put me in good stead.
  • The double degree opens up many employment opportunities in many different industries and sectors. I can work for the government, banks, law firms or even international organisations like the United Nations.
  • Studying law allows me to explore philosophical problems, especially that of morality, logic and rationality; studying economics allows me to explore the problems of epistemology and to develop quantitative techniques in economic analysis.

Oriental Century
June 26, 2007, 3:29 am
Filed under: companies analysis

Oriental Century (SGX: 5II)

As of 17 May 2007

  • EPS: 0.04118/share
  • P/E ratio: 29.140
  • Earnings Yield: 3.43%
  • 52 Week High: 1.65
  • 52 Week Low: 0.390

Continue reading

Ramen places
June 24, 2007, 9:53 am
Filed under: food

Ramen Ten

Where: Two outlets: 01-22 Far East Plaza, Tel: 6238-7983; 01-06/07 Jubilee Entertainment Complex, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8, Tel: 6552-7328

Open: 11.30am to 10pm daily

Slurpalicious: Teriyaki salmon dry, comprising dry ramen topped with spicy salmon, a special sauce, beansprouts, lettuce, cabbage and carrots, $9.90


Where: Ten outlets, including B1-18A Parkway Parade (Tel: 6345-4339) and 02-35 Plaza Singapore (Tel: 6837-0191)

Open: 11.30am to 10pm daily

Slurpalicious: Crayfish ramen topped with bamboo shoots, egg and spring onions, $10

Ramen Ramen

Where: The Rail Mall, 382 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Tel: 6763-9597

Open: Noon to 3pm, 6 to 10pm. Closed on Mondays

Slurpalicious: Sharksfin ramen topped with char siew, mushrooms and beansprouts, $28

Manpodo Ramen

Where: 01-16A The Atrium @ Orchard, Tel: 6238-6728

Open: Noon to 3pm, 6 to 8pm daily

Slurpalicious: Tonkotsu ramen with char siew, lava egg, beansprouts, seaweed and garlic chips, $12


Where: 01-11 Gallery Hotel, 76 Robertson Quay, Tel: 6733-8464

Open: Noon to 3pm, 6 to 9pm. Closed on Wednesdays

Slurpalicious: Tokusen misou, which is ramen topped with char siew, stewed egg, corn, seaweed, bamboo shoots and onion, $12.50

Kado Man

Where: 01-21/22 Grand Plaza Hotel Shopping Arcade, 10 Coleman Street, Tel: 6339-4333

Open: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 11pm. Closed on Mondays

Slurpalicious: Hiyashi chuka, cold noodles in a special soy sauce gravy, topped with vegetables, $12.

Marutama Ra-men

Where: 03-90/91 The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street, Tel: 6534-8090

Open: 11.30am to 10pm daily

Slurpalicious: Marutama ramen, ramen in a rich chicken broth, topped with seaweed, spring onions, stewed egg and char siew, $12

Noodle House Ken

Where: 01-17/18 Orchard Plaza, 150 Orchard Road, Tel: 6235-5540

Open: Noon to 2pm, 6pm to 2am. Closed on Sundays

Slurpalicious: Ramen topped with stewed eggs, seaweed, char siew and bamboo shoots, $12


Where: Three outlets: 01-13, The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay, Tel: 6733-3923 (Open weekdays 11am to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm and weekends from 11am to 10.30pm); B1-16 Hong Leong Building, Tel: 6221-7781 (Open weekdays 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 10pm, Saturdays 11.30am to 2.30pm. Closed on Sundays); and 01-32/33 China Square Central, Tel: 6557-0226 (Opens 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 9.30pm. Closed on Sundays)

Slurpalicious: Tonkotsu ramen topped with char siew, stewed egg, bamboo shoots and garlic oil, $10.80

Kyo-Nichi Japanese Ramen

Where: 01-31 China Square Central, Tel: 6327-3919; 03-249 Marina Square, Tel: 6337-7017

Open: 11am to 10pm daily

Slurpalicious: Char siew ramen topped with char siew, vegetables and an egg, $12

Beppu Menkan Japanese Noodle Restaurant

Where: Three outlets: 01-01 Far East Square, Tel: 6438-0328 (Open weekdays 11.30am to 3pm and 6 to 10pm, Saturdays noon to 10.30pm and Sundays noon to 9pm), B1-16/17 Tiong Bahru Plaza, Tel: 6273-0013 (Open 11.30am to 10pm daily), B1-43/44 Suntec City Mall, Tel: 6238-6789 (Open weekdays 11.30am to 3pm, 6 to 10pm and weekends 11.30am to 10pm)

Slurpalicious: Deep fried chicken and ramen, topped with seaweed, bamboo shoots, garlic and corn, $9.30

principles of luck
June 15, 2007, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Lifeskills

Luck 101

Notes from The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman, an eye-opening book on how “lucky” people aren’t really “lucky” in the sense that their affinity for serendipity is not purely a product of sheer randomness, but rather partly explained by their overall positive attitude towards life. I do not agree with all that he says, but generally the rules mentioned below are probably good general rules of action. Continue reading

June 13, 2007, 7:14 am
Filed under: Lifeskills

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Continue reading

The Book of Wine
June 12, 2007, 12:37 pm
Filed under: alcohol

Some wine recommendations taken from The Book of Wine by Joanna Simon Continue reading

The Warren Buffet Way – Robert G. Hagstrom
June 12, 2007, 9:40 am
Filed under: investments/finance/economics

Notes taken from The Warren Buffet Way by Robert G. Hagstrom Continue reading

covers, originals, nostalgia, quirks
June 12, 2007, 2:54 am
Filed under: diary, the arts


I just finished listening to Jamie Cullum’s cover of Radiohead’s High and Dry; I must say that the original is better than Cullum’s version by many miles, with the rawness of emotions and earnest simplicity of arrangement of the original appealing more to me than the jazzed up, smoothed out, overly-ornamented cover. Somehow something was missing from the cover that was the essence of the original.

I wonder if I have a tendency to prefer originals to covers. Then I thought of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s live cover of Looking Glass’s Brandy, which I feel is much better than the original, and Feist’s dancy, jazzy, spartan interpretation of the Bee Gee’s Love You Inside and Out. Clearly it’s hard to say that I have a clear preference for originals.

Then it occured to me that I tend to prefer the songs that I listen to first. It was only after I have listened to Feist’s Inside and Out that I bothered to dig out my old Bee Gees cd to listen to the original version, which was not as tastefully done as the cover. Van Halen’s You Really Got Me sounded too polished and crassly glam after I have listened (and watched) the Kinks perform their classic You Really Got Me on YouTube. I just can’t think of an incident in which I have prefered the second song after I have listened to the first interpretation.

Perhaps this has something to do with human (or to be more specific, my) psychology. Behavourial economists talk about the anchoring tendency of humans. We tend to “anchor” our future opinions on disjointed past experiences. For example, in an experiment conducted by researchers, participants are flashed random numbers and asked to guess the answers to trivia like the percentage of nations in the United Nations coming from Africa. The participants tend to guess a number close to the random number before, even though it is absolutely illogical to do so.

Maybe I might have been evaluating a song by erroneously and consciously comparing it to the previous version I have heard, even though I should have judged it purely on it’s own merits. But then again, I am of the opinion that everything goes with regards to the arts. Unlike mathematics, in which there are strict and absolute viewpoints and truisms, artistic criticism is about personal response and opinions. I do not believe in an absolute, objective way to judge and ascertain the quality and merit of any work of art; I believe that all responses to the arts are achieved on a personal basis and hence any attempt of legislating an objective standard of responding to the artisitic is impossibly naive and quixotic. I always compare between different versions of the same song; so long as I feel it’s ok to do so, it doesn’t really matter what others think.

That said, I think nostalgia and a fondness for the old and trusted play a part also in my tendency to prefer “first” songs. To me, old Vespas always look better than new Vespas, a old coffeeshop in Chinatown will always feel better than an upmarket bistro and old literature will always triumph over new Booker Prize winners. Somehow the idea of the new and fresh doesn’t appeal too much to me (unless when it comes to new editions of books with fancy covers; I am an absolute sucker for nice covers).

Hence it’s probably a combination of nostalgia and a tendency to anchor that explains my song preferences with regards to covers and original. I think I will search for the original of Yo La Tengo’s You Can Have It All now; the song is on a perpetual replay loop in the iPod of my mind.

definitive books of the 20th century
June 10, 2007, 9:29 am
Filed under: the arts,,2093888,00.html

The Guardian conducted a poll of it’s readers for the list of books that best defined the 20th century. The list is as follows:

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Out of the list of 10, I have read 6 before, three of which are on my own list of personal favourites, namely Heart of Darkness, The Great Gatsby and Catch-22.

While Nineteen Eighty-Four definitely has its merits, I would not regard it as the book that best defines the 20th century. As a whole, the threat of authoritarianism and the infringement of privacy have not materialised in a very substantial manner over the 20th century. While the rise of terrorism post 9-11 has increased security measures all over the globe, I would not count this as a grave infringement of privacy and freedom of thought. I believe that the 20th century has ushered in an age of increased freedom and openness; take the rise of the Internet, blogging, civilian journalism and the opening up of countries all over the world to the freedoms of free market economic systems as examples of the increase in personal freedom in every sense of the word for most all over the world.

Of course, branding something as definitive of an era inevitably ends in gross oversimplification and large-scale summarising; the zeitgeist and concerns of the 20th century is definitely much more complex than what a book can hope to reflect and give voice to. No disrespect to Orwell, he’s a top notch writer who cuts to the chase; however, I do feel that Conrad’s Heart of Darkness represents the 20th century better than Nineteen Eighty-Four does.

Clearly, the 20th century has been marked by wars. The World Wars, the Vietnam Wars, the Arab-Israeli Wars, amongst many others. In each war, “noble” goals often only serve to thinly mask the moral decay and innate propensity for humans to indulge in violence and immorality. Hitler’s rhetoric of rebuilding Germany and purifying Europe only serves to reveal the moral bankruptcy of the Nazi movement, which culminated in the Holocaust. America’s pursuit of the “noble” goal of democratising Vietnam led to the various atrocities committed in the name of “freedom” in Vietnam, which consequences still reverberates in American society today. While Nineteen Eighty-Four‘s idea of doublespeak used by politicians might be representative of what is happening here, I am more concerned with the deeper and more worrying underlying idea that man has always had the innate capacity for evil.

All these are eerily reminiscent of Kurtz’s actions in the Congo in Heart of Darkness, and the larger concept of the “virtues” of colonisation and the concept of the white man’s burden. Kurtz, who was the best that Europe had to offer (to paraphrase Marlow), moved into the Congo with the aim of civilising the “brutes”. His pursuit of this “noble” goal led him to the realisation of the “horror” that lies in every man: the innate capacity for violence, immorality and uncivilised behaviour. This begs the question of just how much men has advanced with the development of “civilisation”.

For all the great technological advancements of the 20th century (the 20th century was probably the most productive century for man in terms of technological advancements), man himself has not changed significantly. We are still animals driven by animistic desires and we cannot hide our basest desires and wants.

Hence Heart of Darkness would have served as a better reminder of the lessons we have learned in the past century, and a warning for anyone who is about to vest power in a political leader or pursue a goal. With the trend of increased individual freedoms and empowerment at the end of the 20th century, we have an increased responsibility to think even more deeply about our actions and keep our innate capacity for evil in check.

Heart of Darkness was written in 1902, at the dawn of the 20th century. It is amazing how one man’s observation at the start of century can cast light on events and issues as observed at the dusk of the 20th century.