Thursday, July 05, 2007


I have been tagged by House Negro

Four jobs I’ve had:
* Sales assistant at Grace Bros highlight of which was when I did a 12 hr xmas shift in the men's underwear department
* Call center chick at in the lowest profit making division of Mac Bank, kind of like sweeping the floor of a factory really
* Intern at a psychometric assessment agency - I got to see all the psychometric assessments (and answers) that companies use as part of the recruitment process
* Credit risk analyst at UBS

Four movies I can watch over and over:
* Amelie
* Gone with the Wind (who can deny the charms of Rhett Butler?)
* Before Sunset
* In the Mood for Love

Four places I have lived:
* Kowloon, Hong Kong
* Blacktown, Sydney
* Chatswood, Sydney
* London, UK

Four television shows I love to watch:
* Grey's Anatomy
* BBC News, I used to watch CNN but no longer have access since the introductory offer expire
* STC (shameful but everyone has a vice)
* The Practice, I know it's over but I loved that show so much

Four places I have been on vacation:
* Japan
* Hanoi, Vietnam
* Istanbul, Turkey

Four of my favorite dishes:
* Nabeyaki udon
* Red duck curry
* Joe's Moroccan chicken
* Mum's pork belly

Four websites I visit daily:
* Google
* Reuters
* Facebook

Four places I would rather be right now:
* seeing my parents in Sydney
* partying with dear friends in Hong Kong
* lying on the beach in Barcelona
* visiting the Taj Mahal in India

Monday, May 21, 2007


Here are photos of my recent holiday in Tuscany (full set posted on web album, right sidebar). Tuscany is lush and my photos do not do justice to its beauty. Will do a write up of the trip soon. Maybe.

My amazing friend Anne who organised the whole trip
Others in the travelling crew

Friday, May 11, 2007


Freakonomics was arguably my favourite book of 2006. The book details quirky studies carried out using economic models to explain the power of incentives to predict behavior. Rather than seeing individuals as always rational and solely motivated by the maximisation of wealth (countering the primary assumptions in traditional economics theory), they use statics to distill people's hidden motivations or behavioral patterns. It's economics mix psychology mix sociology at its best.

An excerpt on my favourite study:
In other words, a crack gang works pretty much like the standard capitalist enterprise: you have to be near the top of the pyramid to make a big wage. Notwithstanding the leadership's rhetoric about the family nature of the business, the gang's wages are about as skewed as wages in corporate America. A foot soldier had plenty in common with a McDonald's burger flipper or a Wal-Mart shelf stocker. In fact, most of J. T.'s foot soldiers also held minimum-wage jobs in the legitimate sector to supplement their skimpy illicit earnings. The leader of another crack gang once told Venkatesh that he could easily afford to pay his foot soldiers more, but it wouldn't be prudent. "You got all these niggers below you who want your job, you dig?" he said. "So, you know, you try to take care of them, but you know, you also have to show them you the boss. You always have to get yours first, or else you really ain't no leader. If you start taking losses, they see you as weak and shit."

Along with the bad pay, the foot soldiers faced terrible job conditions. For starters, they had to stand on a street corner all day and do business with crackheads. (The gang members were strongly advised against using the product themselves, advice that was enforced by beatings if necessary.) Foot soldiers also risked arrest and, more worri- some, violence. Using the gang's financial documents and the rest of Venkatesh's research, it is possible to construct an adverse-events index of J. T.'s gang during the four years in question. The results are astonishingly bleak. If you were a member of J. T.'s gang for all four years, here is the typical fate you would have faced during that period:

Number of times arrested 5.9
Number of nonfatal wounds or injuries 2.4 (not including injuries meted out by the gang itself for rules violations)
Chance of being killed 1 in 4

A 1-in-4 chance of being killed! Compare these odds to being a timber cutter, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the most dangerous job in the United States. Over four years' time, a timber cutter would stand only a 1-in-200 chance of being killed. Or compare the crack dealer's odds to those of a death row inmate in Texas, which executes more prisoners than any other state. In 2003, Texas put to death twenty-four inmates-or just 5 percent of the nearly 500 inmates on its death row during that time. Which means that you stand a greater chance of dying while dealing crack in a Chicago housing project than you do while sitting on death row in Texas. So if crack dealing is the most dangerous job in America, and if the salary is only $3.30 an hour, why on earth would anyone take such a job?

I stumbled across the authors' blog today - I would highly recommend for entertaining reading.

My two girls

The primary school is only located 10mins away by train but it's worlds apart from the CBD environment. I think the term they used in the induction was 'socially impoverished'. Friday lunchtimes are now spent at the school playing number games with my two new friends, Paige & Ramou. Paige is a 8 - a bubbly, enthusiastic girl whose favourite colour is blue, likes to go shopping but dislikes fish & chips. Ramou is 7 - sweet and shy, with beautiful coco skin and braided hair, she smiles more than she speaks.

I had thought it would be hard work engaging and entertaining two young children but it turned out to be so effortless. They were so well behaved and beamed with such eagerness. I think the joy in being with children is the ease with which they can delight in the simple things. Their world is carefree, innocent and playful. Afterwards these two very small, very cute girls thanked me with hugs for spending time with them. It was the sweetest thing. But really they are the ones I should be thanking them for brightening up my day.