Dec 18, 2011

The Ups and Downs of 2011 for Me

As the year draws to a dark and rainy close, I thought I would pen a few thoughts about how 2011 has played out for me.

It wasn't the best of years. It wasn't the worst. The biggest change was moving to my new house, getting all the renovations done and helping everyone to adjust and adapt to the new home. It wasn't always easy, but now we are nicely settled down and I'm grateful.

We had a few incidents with unpleasant neighbours. There were also various unhappy incidents between other neighbours (not involving me). One of them reached the point when a defamation lawsuit was actually threatened. I spoke to friends and acquantances and it seems that such unhappy incidents aren't exactly that uncommon in cluster houses.

A contractor told me point-blank that in his experience, the owner of the largest unit always has problems with neighbours (I happen to own the largest unit). According to the contractor, the underlying cause is their jealousy. Well, I put all that unpleasant stuff behind me now. But there is a particular neighbour whom I will completely ignore for the rest of my life. Either that, or I will give her a cold glare. My children call her the "fat bitch". In this particular instance, I won't object to their language.

I was pleased that at the start of the year, we managed to get our son transferred to a better primary school. He is now a Catholic High student. He has adapted well to his new school and enjoys being there. At his previous school, he was shy and quiet and had been targeted by bullies more than once. Catholic High seems to have given him more confidence and he has even assumed a leadership role as class monitor.

My daughter had a great Primary 1 year in school and enjoyed herself thoroughly. She isn't in one of the top schools, but sometimes maybe things work out better that way. She's having a fun time being one of the top students. It's a self-esteem building experience which  she probably couldn't have had, if she had gone to a more competitive school.

At work, I had two surprises in the early part of the year. The first was a surprise of the disappointing kind. Despite many earlier promises and positive words, I didn't get promoted. The second surprise was that I received what was a rather large bonus (considering the state of the financial industry these days).

I think that to some extent, the organisation was trying to make up for my non-promotion by giving me a bigger bonus. Oh well. All in all, not such a bad deal, after all. Between an improved corporate title and a big sum of cash, I'll take the cash anytime.

The work itself was pretty interesting. I did a lot of legal work relating to very new developments in the industry, concerning how the governments in various  countries are creating new laws to regulate the OTC derivatives industry, post the 2008 financial crisis. I think I've carved out a niche in this area. I was invited this year to speak at a conference on such topics, and I have another invitation to speak at a conference in April next year.

I took another CMFAS exam, and passed. I am now qualified to be both a stockbroker and a personal financial adviser. Not that I have any concrete plans to do so anytime in the near future, but hey, everyone needs some kind of Plan B. In 2012, I may sign myself up for more CMFAS exams.

I didn't travel much this year. I did take the family to Penang and Langkawi in June, and to Korea this month. Penang has plenty of good food, and a temple or two that's worth a look, but otherwise it's still a rather sleepy town. I found Langkawi more interesting, for the eco-tourism aspects. We explored a bat cave and fed some eagles and visited a fish farm, things like that.

It was very cold when we visited Korea. The temperature was down to -2 degrees in Seoul, and even colder when we went to the mountain area to see their national park. But the kids had plenty of fun in the snow and ice. We also went to the northernmost point of South Korea, where after passing several military checkpoints, we got to peer at the mysterious land of North Korea, using telescopes at an observatory.

On the writing front, I had a few old poems published in new anthologies. I was a featured writer in the Singapore Writers Festival. I was also part of the Moving Words project, and had a poem featured on Singapore's MRT trains. Those were the highlights, but overall it wasn't a great year as I hardly wrote anything new.

A dear old aunt of mine passed away in February. Colorectal cancer. I worry sometimes about my uncle (her husband), who's in his 80s and now lives all alone in a little HDB flat in Ang Mo Kio. I know that he was very, very affected by my aunt's death. I hope he's gotten over it by now.

It waa a crap year, as far as my own health and fitness was concerned. For a while, it appeared that I had borderline high blood pressure. I resolved to exercise regularly, but it didn't quite work out that way; I just never managed to stick to the plan. All the good intentions would peter out in a few weeks, then two months would pass, then I would try again, then the cycle would repeat.

I did succeed in eating more healthily (I now often have a salad for both breakfast and lunch). My BP has fallen back into the normal/healthy range, but whatever the reason was, it sure wasn't because of exercise.

I'd say a few things about Mrs Wang's year too, but she's told me not to. She likes her privacy.

My happiest moments of the year were the same kind as the happiest moments of the past seven years or so. Private moments with my two children - playing with them, talking to them, hugging them. I love being a dad, and watching them grow up.

P.S. My daughter just asked me why my blog is known as "Mr Wang Says So", and not "Mr Koh Says So". Long history, my dear. Tell you another time.


JB said...

Hi Mr Wang, glad you took an active role in managing your son's bullying issues at school.

Anyway on the other matters, not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke a good luck. So don't be too disappointed if things do not go according to what you have expected.

I'm quite surprised on the neighbour problems in your estate. I always thought people who could afford expensive homes would be more civilised. LOL. Apparently not huh. Perhaps you should consult your fengshui master for advice in this area. Haha. Always good to have some fs protection against jealous neighbours.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your ups and
downs of 2011.
I am an old man and an avid reader of your blog.
I can tell that you are a good guy
and an outstanding son of this nation.
I just like to wish you and your family lots of happiness for the

Anonymous said...

"We had a few incidents with unpleasant neighbours." Mr Wang

Can you elaborate? So that this may also serve as a learning experience for us and to avoid them in the first place.

Ser Ming said...

Mr Wang,

Somehow this entry turned out to give that kind of warmth, the very earthy, fatherly type of 'feel'. Not sure is that intended in any way.

Wishing you another year of harvest ahead =)

Anonymous said...

"She isn't in one of the top schools, but sometimes maybe things work out better that way... It's a self-esteem building experience which she probably couldn't have had, if she had gone to a more competitive school."

Eh, what happened? I thought according to you, your daughter was gifted, had a high IQ and upon testing by a psychologist, was found, based on preliminary assessment, to be gifted linguistically? Now no longer the case?

No, I am not trying to throw stones at you or your kid. The above "sarcasm" is just my way of pointing out why it is best in life not to boast (or appear to be boasting) eg. about one's financial means or (especially in asia/singapore's context) about how gifted / clever one's kids are. People can get envious / jealous / feel that you are so boastful or arrogant that they hope to see you or your kids down and out one day.

Humility (or hypocrisy depending on how you see it) is the way to go: "No lah, my kids are not that clever. They just happen to work harder. Anybody can do that...", "I am not rich...", rather than "I do make a lot more money than most Singaporeans!"

Eg. I do know of a Briton whose never-ending boast about his 11 yr old Singaporean son being a "child prodigy" in Chemistry on his blog and media releases in Singapore, has been met with private ridicule and laughter now that his son is merely taking long distance courses of a 3rd-rated Australian university in KL, Malaysia. People even make racist comment at his son. Worth it just to boost the father's own ego? Geez..

Mr Wang said...

Actually, the psychologist's report assessed her to be well above average. However, for convenience, we still sent her to the primary school nearest our home. The Education Ministry doesn't have any special programme for very bright Primary 1 kids.

mr wang said...

Problem with cluster houses is that some residents think of them as freehold landed (which means that they feel that they have the right to renovate their property as they please) while other residents thik of them as "condos on the ground" (which means that they feel that all residents need to maintain a certain uniformity in the appearance of their houses).

Of course, the cluster house is a unique species and it is actually somewhere between a landed property and a condo.

The unhappiness arises when certain neighbours renovate their houses in a certain way, or install certain fixtures etc, that other neighbours don't like. Eg they may even object to the colour of your awnings!

mr wang said...

Eh Yamizi , merry Christmas and a happy 2012 to you too!

Stephan H. Wissel said...

My kids go to Catholic High Primary too. P6 in 2012. Guess I'll see you during a school event

Anonymous said...

have missed your posts, so glad that you are writing again.

glad that your children are enjoying school and you are one of those parents who are not obsessed with grades

all the best for the new year and hope you continue writing

Anonymous said...

" appeared that I had borderline high blood pressure. I resolved to exercise regularly, but it didn't quite work out that way..."

Mr Wang,

High blood pressure is due to sodium-potassium inbalance. I believe your doctor did not tell you that. It is not caused by too much sodium (table salt), most doctors will say so, but rather not enough postassium, depends on which way you look at it.

Changed your table salt, if that is what your are taking, to sea salt. Not that white sea salt but that greyish one. Have more potassium-rich foods, I believe that will take care of your potential high blood pressure.

Excuse my grammers.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Thanks, Anon 1:32 pm. I will look into this.

And hi Stephan! Will look out for you. You might not recognise me though, I've put on fat over the years. :D

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang,

I live in Tai Keng for 36 years, moved out in 2008 when I migrated.

When I moved in as a teenager in the early 70s, Upper Paya Laber Road was a two lane road. now, I just read that its gonna be widen, again.

Tai Keng used to be surrounded by Kampongs, peace and quiet and people are nicer, and I really like it then, and I too felt that in the last 15 years, many houses had change hands and every house seems to had been rebuilt and it just doesn't feel the same anymore.

I went to Catholic High for 10 yrs, from Pri 1. Same for my son, went to pri school there until we migrated. Good choice!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang, may I know which CMFAS exams you took? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sir,

I would like to ask you regarding your son transferring school to Catholic High.

Was it under MOE STEPS ? or any other way you could recommend?

Thank you very much and look forward to your reply.