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Money matters May 26, 2010

Posted by Siew in Society.
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Robert Kiyosaki is a man whom I knew about, but never really paid much attention to. I remember distinctly the kind of effect that he had on the assitant director of the student’s affiars department in my university, and I remember conversations with him turning quite unpleasant when discussions about student activities turned towards profit and money. That man waxed lyrical about the great Robert and the wisdom that he brought to the world, but I never did appreciate him trying to teach university students how to make money with student activities. But this isn’t about the somewhat distant past. Its about a rather dull lesson in personal finance that I had with a bunch of new colleagues.

I got an invite from a very excitable new friend to join in a boardgame session. I was told that it was a lot like monopoly. To be honest, I was already expecting what was coming, having seen an investment based boardgame being pushed to MMU students some time last year. And I was right. I went there with my housemates to be and within half an hour, they faked an incoming phonecall with their iPhone and left. Without me. Shrug. The bastards.

Anyway, the game itself was simple enough. You go round the board collecting paycheck after paycheck and decide what you want to do with that money. Once in a while share options and realestate option will crop up. You then decide what the economically feasible thing to do is. As a game, I admit, its pretty fun, although the financial planning element of the game is painfully simple. But I was a little weirded out by the way the game came packaged automatically with a flurry of financial advise. The game seems to preach on ‘leveraging’ on the labour of others and using ‘other people’s money’. According to the organizer of the session, Kiyosaki’s aim is to make more people richer. Apparently, the gap between the rich and poor is only going to get larger and you might as well get on the rich side.

I find that kind of thinking to be a bit unnerving. I actually asked the question “Do you realize that if your message reaches enough people in the world, we will ultimately reach an unsustainable economy?” She said she did. Then I asked her if the message is essentially speeding up the widening of the gap which would ultimately lead to political collapse once the gap is wide enough. She shrugged. It felt like I was talking to Bush. You are either with us or against us.

I admit to being somewhat concerned about my financial security, but I have never once asked myself if I could ever continue my lifestyle if I were to be fired tomorrow. I have never given a thought to passive income. I just think it makes for a very lonely world, where people think primarily about taking care of themselves and making sure that they don’t need to rely on other people. This is going to sound philosophical, but I think it erodes the biggest competetive edge that humans have over the rest of the life and that is the social intergration that we have. We no longer complement one another, we compete against one another. And at some point, I think we will find that there is no one competing next to us, and eveyone is fighting for themselves. There is no more team. Just me and you.

Reality sucks.

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Miri – 1 May 6, 2010

Posted by Siew in Uncategorized.
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Okay, let me first get some things straight. Miri is not a backwater town like some people would describe it to be. Before I left, I was told that there is one Starbucks in Sarawak, and that is in Kuching.

An hour into my arrival I saw one in Miri, somewhere in the shopping complex. The next day, I saw a Coffee Bean in my own office. And there is a Secret Recipe within walking distance to the hotel I’m living on now. Miri is not Mar Sara.

So far, life here has been everything I was expecting it to be. Miri is mostly quiet, with small pockets of happening-ness that caters to the oil and gas employees that come from all over. The drive to work is pleasant in the morning, but I can’t help but feel like I’m late for work everytime I step outside. By 6.30, the sun is out.

Integrating into Shell has so far been a very good experience. Somehow, the company has managed to make it so that everyone seems to be happy to see someone new come in. No sulky faces, no mono-syllabic grunts of acknowledgement when I was introduced to all the people in my department. I’ve already had a game of squash with some Shell fellows and some others have asked me to play tennis. Apparently, with the lack of a nightlife in Miri, most of the people here just turn to sports. I can definitely live with that.

When I got here, I found out that I will be doing procurement for IT services, which was a bit of a surprise. I’m working in Finance, and I didn’t even know that until I stepped into the office. Whats even weirder is the fact that there were 2 other engineers coming in at the same time as me going to reservoir and production engineering. Both of them got hired later than me. Can’t help but to feel that I should be in their office instead.

But then again, all things considered I am pretty happy with my current position. My supervisor is really nice, and more importantly, efficient. I got my smart tag (Shell calls it a GID card) on the first day, and by day 2, I was beeping myself in and out of the office. Plus, having been a graduate trainee before, I know what its like to constantly feel like a deadweight in the company because people are constantly training me, but during that time I’m practically useless to the company. Engineers in Shell tend to be in training for the first 2 years or so. If I got into engineering, I’ll feel the same way I did in MOX all over again. I’ve had enough of going from one place to another and having everyone there look at me like they can’t really give me anything substantial to do (which they can’t because of the limited time I have in the departments).

I’ve been asked to sign to about 6 different training sessions relevant to my department, but then that would have to await my entry to the Shell Open University.

Owh, and the best news I got was that Shell Sarawak observes the Gawai holidays, and so the office shuts down for 10 days at the end of May. I’m coming home at the end of the month!.(Flight bloody expensive though, but its 10 days. I’m not going to pass up a holiday like that. I’ll only be back for about 7 days though.)

So I guess I might be seeing you guys pretty soon then. Heh. I’ll blog again about Shell soon. It’s a very interesting company indeed.