Thursday, March 26, 2009


Leaving home for Barcelona in less than an hour. I'll have updates for you in a week. And then, Char, Guowei, Daniel, Peter and Willy come over to Milan.

I'm really looking forward to Barcelona; I hear architecture there is amazing. Look up 'Gaudi'. In an alternate universe I believe I could be an architect. I've realised how much I love looking at buildings in this tour of Europe. Of course I wish I could study the buildings from more angles, especially from elevated positions.

Madrid will follow, and it's going to be fantastic. Temperature's going to be so good too, high teens to twenties. How comfortable is that!

One other thing, in Italian, 'gn' is pronounced as 'ni'; 'gl' is pronounced as 'li'. Silent G's. So, don't go saying things like Bo-log-na, it is Bo-lo-nia. And Ferrari's Scaglietti is not how you would pronounced it in English. Silent G, remember!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Trader's Diet

What I read and what I eat. I thought the commodities on my plate were funny. Catch ya later. Cooking time.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This is Art

EUR/JPY, 1m, Today

This, my friends, is art. Things are nice and calm the whole day, and all of a sudden, the currency pair whipsaws all over the place like a maniac. In the ensuing insanity I got stopped out of a trade. When I checked to see if it was a good time to enter again, the bid-ask spread had ballooned to a yawning 27 pips. Usually, it's 4. 27 pips means you need your trade to make 27 pips before breaking even. On a good day I make 60-80 pips. 27? You gotta be kidding. At least I walked out of this one with 2. Damn whipsaws. At least it's still a profit. I can't imagine how many people got screwed over in those few minutes.

One thing I've learned in my short trading career is this. Be patient. You don't win big in the blink of an eye. And, have the courage to wait things out, even if the situation looks like the biggest FML moment in your life. More lessons some other time when I'm feeling all worldly and wise and in a mood to dispense crap to you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pisa in a day, 15 Mar 2009

I was really bored so I knew I had to get out and do something. Originally, I purchased tickets to Rome for April when Char and the boys come over, but then Daniel managed to find cheap tickets for Rome on Easyjet, so we decided we'll all fly instead of taking a 6-hour train ride down south. Which left me with two tickets to Rome at hand. I went to see if I could change them to Pisa tickets, and yes it was possible! So I swapped out my Rome tickets at Centrale Stazione for a Pisa round trip ticket. Even got a cash refund for the balance!

Almost missed the train like a certain apartment mate of mine. The thing was, my ticket said Milan -> Pisa, so I was looking at the train schedules at the station for a Destination Pisa. There weren't any, so I figured I was early (which I really was), and would check again closer to my boarding time. Right up to 3 minutes before departure there still wasn't any Destination Pisa. I started to check the schedules more clearly, and only realised Pisa was one of the along-the-way stations to an ultimate destination that was far from Pisa.

Got on the train just fine. Kept falling asleep and getting up over and over again for 4 hours. When I arrived at Pisa, I was struck by how much it felt more like a village than a city. The town was so small I could walk from the south of the map (where the train station was), to the north (where the Leaning Tower of Pisa stood) in less than half an hour.

Walked into the Piazza dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) and took in this sight that is a famous landmark all over the world.

Of course, at its base were thousands of tourists posing for lame photos about supporting the tower. Haha not that I have anything against tourists, of course. They paid good money to travel the world, and what they want to do is none of our business. Except they look silly to everyone else who isn't lined up right to see the picture that they will be filing away in their album when they get home.

I would just like to put a word in for the other buildings in the Piazza dei Miracoli. The Leaning Tower of Pisa doesn't just stand there by itself!! There are 3 other buildings worth our time and attention too. Just because the tower leans due to a defect, the other structurally sound and equally beautiful monuments get forgotten? No! So here is the Piazza dei Miracoli, with the Leaning Tower as far back as I could put it.

I spent a good 6 hours here. It was a very peaceful day. My trip back to Milan was rather problematic. First, I got to the train station 20 minutes early, and saw the train at my designated platform boarding. So I hopped on, and just as I did, the train doors closed and the train chugged along. It was leaving 20 minutes early! So I thought maybe it was lucky I was already here and not dawdling away somewhere behind, still thinking the train was gonna wait for me.

Then I realised maybe this wasn't my train. And so I asked another passenger and he said it wasn't going to Milan, it was going to Genova!

"Today, I got on my train back home 20 minutes early. Turns out it was going to Genova. FML."

I bought a cute pair of boxers because it was impossibly stupid.

I'll definitely be back to Pisa another time! I'd do anything for a night photograph in that place.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Meet Friar Cesare Bonizzi, 62, frontman of Italian heavy metal band Fratello Metallo (Brother Metal). The cowboy hat is cool and everything, but I suppose it's obvious which one is the friar and I don't have to point it out to you explicitly by saying he's the one decked out in those funky monk garbs?

He is a real Capuchin monk from a place near Milan. He loves metal. He says metal is the music that has the most life and energy. He sings about tobacco and alcohol and drugs and sex. But not in the normal metal fashion. He says things like 'man needs sex and sex is good but you must do it the right way' (except in poetic Italian.) His reason for going into metal? Metallica and Megadeth. He attended a Metallica concert 15 years ago and he found enlightenment.

His other bandmates are much younger, but Bonizzi steals the whole show everytime. Who wants to cheer for killer guitar solos and bass grooves when the vocalist is this fat and bearded grampa growling throaty lyrics into the microphone? You just can't help but laugh and rock out along with his band.

I'm going out to an Italian music store one of these days to look for his CD, this is one I have to own. Can't go wrong with a Metallica-Megadeth inspired man of God, right?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Woohoo Monster Spurt


Hot from the oven, fresh profit potential!!!! EUR/CHF has gone ballistic (something like 400 pips in 15 minutes!) and is out of the park! It has even broken through resistance set in Jan and Feb. However this is just too fast too furious; when RSI crosses its upper bound mark back down in its regression to the mean, short sell!!!!!!

After that, see what the signs are, probably long it for a bit.

I'm going to Switzerland next month, bye bye Swiss Francs! Yay for cheaper chocolate and watches!

Mark F-kerberg

Him and his stupid new Facebook layouts. Just as we were all beginning to get used to the new (and now rendered 'not so new') layout, his team goes and changes it even further to something more distant from and less recognisable than the original. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

On another note, they removed my INSTEP Feb 2009 video on Facebook because it was infringing on third party music copyrights. You know what FML is? FML is this awesome website. Go to for your daily dose of humour. Really, you won't regret. I'll make a fan out of you.

Modelli Finanziari class got cancelled today. I'm gonna tour the city. Beautiful weather! There's a pig still sleeping in the room though.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Italian Colours Yay

Ciao Bella!

One of these days I'm going to the Duomo (again...!) to take a picture of it at sunrise. Sunrise and sunset, those precious fleeting instances, the highly coveted 'magic moments'. It should be gorgeous.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring's Here

Again, at the Duomo. I know, it seems to be all I take pictures of. But that's because each time I see it, I feel like I'm looking at it all over again for the first time and I just enjoy its magnificence. It's also got to do with perfectionism; I feel I have yet to take the perfect shot with the Duomo. And this obviously isn't a perfect shot. It's been cropped. Too many distractors in the original photograph, angling isn't ideal, and the picture framing could be improved. But Canon lenses yield this attractive six-pointed star in reflected light, which is very pretty (click photo to see star).

I know, I know, I'm always in shades. It's because squinty eyes in harsh sunlight and untimely blinking are the bane of every photographer. So I try to eliminate that problem by adopting a solution that serves several purposes -- shades cover the eyes so that as a subject, I can pose for longer with my eyes being able to blink as much as they want, and, increase a subject's (specifically, my) coolness factor, and deliver the possibility of said formation of reflected six-pointed star (you can't have it without the reflective surface of sunglasses!). The only downside though, is that you cannot accurately judge picture coloration when viewing your captured shots.

I'm going to wait for Char and have her model for my photographs. Watch this space in a month's time. We will also be at the Colosseum in Rome. That, I assure you, will be breathtakingly amazing. And what a couple shot that is going to turn out as!

Quick Tips for photo-taking:
1) Frame a subject well
2) Remove distractors by going close to your subject
3) Add depth to photos by juxtaposing sizes, distances and dimensions
4) Work the light beautifully; it's how most photo competitions are won!

Anyway, this weekend was so beautiful, I'm sorry I got carried away with the photography segment. Antonio, Mel and I wanted to make Nutella crepes but Mel finished all the milk with her cereal after complaining about her hunger, and when we wanted to make crepes to solve that hunger, we realised we didn't have milk anymore so to her chagrin we didn't make crepes because the essential ingredient was non-existent by this point.

I also cooked a mean rabbit casserole on Saturday night, before Antonio and his pal Vincent took us out to take a walk around another part of Milan were youngsters hang out.

Today's Business Strategy case discussion was on Harley Davidson. I was in heaven.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


This past Sunday I visited the city that is the other major industrial metropolis of the country, the Detroit of Italy, and home of football clubs Juventus and Torino. I didn't enjoy myself as much as I thought I would, though for the benefit of not discarding any of its tourism merits I would attribute it to the weather. It was raining all day and the skies were white and it was cold and man, those things don't add up to produce an awesome trip. I was even lying in bed that morning thinking I shouldn't go. I should have listened to my body.

In other news, I got mail from Char today! She calls it a mercy relief package. One Speedposted parcel of goodies bursting with two 5-packs of Maggi Mee, one irresistible 5-pack of Indo Mee, Dewberry biscuits, and Nutella snackpacks! I love her so much. Do you know how much it costs to Speedpost such a bundle of items!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

When the floor crumbles beneath your feet

Dow Jones, last night.

What a party! Things are really going down the toilet, eh? 300 points in a night, man!

Today I had problems using my Citi ATM card to withdraw some Euros for this month. I'm not sure why, but I'm suspecting it's because Citi is a big steaming turd that no one wants to associate themselves with. The ATM told me this "We were told to return your card. Contact your bank."

What kinda tone is that? What does "your bank" mean? Hahaha. Well yea back to the DJIA. Marvel at this piece of art. You don't everyday get a chance to admire something so powerful and dramatic and shitty all at the same time.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Love

Today I'd like you to meet my girlfriend. I know I've put up a picture of her before, but let's have a better introduction. We've been going out for some time and come November this year we'd both be in the third year of a very serious relationship. This is Char, she just had her birthday. I love her very much, I tell her that all the time. But I don't seem to nearly tell that enough to my friends. So this is dedicated to that purpose.

Char possesses many skills. Capable and multi-talented, she is a steady and decisive driver, an excellent master in the kitchen, and a very disciplined and profitable currency trader. Keeper of an enormous family of bunnies and a pair of garrulous cavies, as well as educator and nurturer of a class of preschoolers, you don't know what responsibility is till you've met her.

And if you didn't notice, she is beautiful too. And unlike some people I know, her mind isn't a vacuous hollow! A voracious reader who appreciates her literature as much as a metalhead bangs his head to Iron Maiden, Char knows of books way before they're made into crappy Hollywood movies. (Yeah you lot who only began reading Twilight and falling in love with Edward thanks to the film are such weaklings.)

Here are three pictures of us, one each from 2007 to 2009.

Here's a tip to you, dear reader. Come across someone you think is the best person for you, hold tight and don't let go. You have no one to blame if you let go unwittingly. In which case you deserve all the jeering heartbreak that rains down upon you from the heavens. Unless of course the object of your affection finds someone better, then tough. Life goes on.

Happy Birthday Char. I look forward to you coming over. It'll be an awesome time I promise.