Sunday, February 19, 2017

Going to use this post to get rid of some mental debris, aka odd little thoughts that have popped up in my head now and then. hopefully i remember them all.

let's get recent events out of the way first. two big events have passed since the last post, namely CNY and valentine's day. odd as it sounds, CNY was a non-event to me. just went to the lab to do some work, or stayed at home rotting. met the date over that period too, so it was nice. CNY has come up as a small-talk topic with some people in lab. the typical conversation with me goes something like this:

them: how was CNY?
me: oh, i came back to lab, did some stuff.
them: eh? you didn't celebrate? go overseas?
me: nope
them: why?
me: no 气氛 (festive mood), i guess. been like that since my grandparents passed away. how about you?
...and so on.

this year, i realized a couple of things. first, the reason why my (paternal) grandparents' passing is my go-to reason for not celebrating CNY is because they passed away late in the year, one year apart, more than 10 years ago. that means we didn't celebrate CNY for 2 years. i guess things just went downhill from there. the next thing i realized was that the other reason i don't like CNY is because how fake it is. this may not apply to everyone, but it's happening close enough to me. here's what i mean. normally, the house is in a state of minor disarray. come CNY, there will be frantic cleaning, cooking, and in general, everything that doesn't happen during the rest of the year. hence why i say it's fake. somehow i think there's a kind of invisible pressure to present your best side, pretend to get along, and show off to everyone that you're the model family or whatnot. and i hate that. i agree with the no dirty laundry in public, but i'm not ok with covering up everything and pretending. if i don't like a person, CNY won't change that. maybe i'll get more into the CNY spirit in a few years...when more of my close friends have kids. i believe that family does not necessarily refer to the people with whom you share DNA.

for valentine's day, we kept it a bit simpler than last year. having realized that most florists are ripoffs, i decided to get a bit crafty (no pun intended) and get flowers myself. i went to the flower wholesale place that i discovered last year, and bought flowers, wrapping paper, ribbons, the works. i'll be the first to admit that it wasn't the best-looking arrangement out there, but the date was impressed enough. had i not told them, i think they may have assumed that it was from a store. a nice bonus was that it was literally about 1/5 the cost of last year, assuming we do a bouquet-to-bouquet comparison. just one bouquet last year cost me a 3-digit figure. this year, i paid under $100, and had enough flowers, paper, etc for 5 bouquets total. might have been more if i split the excess flowers up better. as it was, i was trying to save space, so i just lumped the same kinds of flowers together. the downside was the excess flowers. since it's a wholesale place, they sell flowers by the tens and twenties on average. so i had lots of leftovers after doing what i wanted for the date and mother. it's both good and bad, i guess. good because there's a safety net - some of the flowers may be wilted or misshapen. bad because there's so much excess! i think the most cost-effective thing to do would be to come with friends who are looking to get flowers too. then you buy what's mutually agreeable, and split them among yourselves. might suggest that to the lab people next year.

the other crafty part of valentine's day was the date's gift. if i've never said it here before, let me tell you now that the date is really hard to shop for (they agree too). their fashion sense is way better than mine, so clothes is out of the question. tech stuff and gadgets too. i don't follow what phones are coming out, or what games are nice. so i decided to go for something safe, which is sweets. chocolates, to be precise. the date doesn't like chocolate in general, but is a bit more receptive to white chocolate, so that's where i started. and instead of getting any old box of chocolates, i thought it'd be nice if i made them myself. besides, where in singapore would you find a box of pink heart-shaped chocolates? ok. small confession here: i've always wanted to try working with chocolate, ever since i read a reader's digest article about it in secondary school. i bought 3 X 200g blocks of organic white chocolate (whatever that means) and 2 bags of white chocolate buttons to experiment on. the first 2 batches were disasters. i used liquid food colouring and flavouring (big no-no, water and chocolate don't mix), and got a lump of stuff that stuck to my spoon. it was edible, but not exactly presentable or romantic. then, i went on youtube and learnt about tempering chocolate, and that there's a baking goods store in the kallang region that sells chocolate-friendly food colouring. batches 3 and 4 came out much better. batch 3 was for the date, 4 was for the date's mother. i haven't received complaints yet, so no news is good news i guess? you know, this chocolate thing could become something regular. it's actually quite therapeutic. and outside of the lab, i think this is the most relevance my chemistry degree's had in a while. tempering chocolate has something to do with crystallization and controlling temperature to get the chocolate into the right solid phase. was quite easy to understand. and as a bonus, this is the most luck i've had with growing crystals. i've got a block of dark chocolate in the fridge waiting for a free day. i'm going to be a bit more ambitious and try making chocolate truffles this time. gentle reminder to self, never swallow neat peppermint oil again. i think i burned a (small) portion of my throat. and that was from just one drop!

whoa. big digression. the last thing we did for valentine's day was to go out for dinner on the sunday before the actual day. unlike last year, i didn't cook. we went to the cornerstone at bishan park. it's a pretty atas place, with above-average prices. i figured it would balance the homemade feel of the gifts...and the date did express interest in the place previously. i'd made reservations about a month in advance, and they didn't email me back to confirm. i called twice, and they said that my reservation was there both times. i asked for email confirmation both times too, still never came. i also went to their facebook page, where there were a mix of positive and negative reviews, but more positive. so, i decided that we'd go down and see for ourselves...and i'm thankful we did. since it was out first time there, i don't know if the crew was extra on form in preparation for valentine's day, or whether it was their normal level of service. whatever it was, i was super impressed. i think that that dinner ranks among the top 3 best service experiences i've ever had. the lady who served us remembered my name, and kept us feeling really comfortable. if there is one single negative that i had to pick, it would be that the food was not up to my expectation (the menu described the pork as being melt-in-your-mouth. not quite). but then, i'd gladly go back for such wonderful service. at most, i'll order something else. there are a few more dishes that caught my eye. next time i guess would be the date's mother's birthday? hopefully they're consistent. and also, the date got me a 3DS for valentine's day. quite unexpected, but i'm kind of enjoying it.

right. that's recent events done. next thing. car purchase. i realize that my previous comparison had too many variables, so i'm going to do another one with more solid figures, as in, with the cars which i am inclined to buy. let's start with the old car. COE prices are about $50000 now for a 10 year renewal. if i renew, i also forfeit the PARF rebate of about $10000. inspections will be annual instead of once every 2 years, and road tax will increase 10% of the original amount per year to a maximum of 50%. totalling that up, it's 50000 + 10000 + (60 X 5 additional inspections) + (400% X 740) = $63260 total over 10 years, or $6326 per year, excluding repair works and servicing.

one of the more interesting cars that's caught my eye is a toyota prius. yes, it's a hybrid. and because it's a hybrid, i only get back 30% of the ARF rebate as PARF, instead of 50% as with a petrol car. the asking price is $58321, which i will try to lower to $55000. the rebate of it's ARF is $6900 (rounded off). it would thus cost me 55000 - 6900 = $48100 over the 5 years left on its COE, or about $9620 per year. this is assuming it doesn't require major servicing and more importantly, that its battery doesn't malfunction. a battery replacement could cost 5 digits.

comparing that to a regular petrol car, i just saw another black civic for sale. the asking price is $50888, which i will try to push to $49000. i'll get back about $12000 at the end of its COE, so the total cost is 49000 - 12000 = $37000, or $11300 per year roughly. that's high depreciation.

of course, renewing the COE is still the cheapest on paper, but who knows how much work the car will need a few years later. comparing between the hybrid and regular, the hybrid seems to make more economical sense over its lifespan, though the upfront cost is higher, and you get back less at the end of its COE. that actually makes getting a car after this one a bit harder. less capital and all. the one thing i haven't accounted for is the fuel savings that a hybrid is supposed to bring. reviews say that it can go as high as 22km/L, compared to the 14 or so that i get now. a difference is in the tank capacities; my civic holds 50L, while the prius holds 36L. perhaps we'll have to use absolute distance. i normally fill up the tank at around 12.5L (or a quarter tank) remaining, and that's after about 560km. 560km/37.5L = 14.9km/L. hmm...a bit higher than expected. 560km/22km/L = 25.5L for that same distance, using the review's figures. but 3/4 or the prius' tank will get me 27L X 22km/L = 594km. i can probably fill up the tank a bit later, though my fear of running out of gas will mean that i fill the tank at around the same frequency. so that's unchanged. what changes is the cost. each time i go to the petrol station, i spend about $65 for a full tank. with the prius, that would go down to $46. if i go for petrol once in 10 days (3 times a month), annual savings will be $684. assuming road tax is calculated the same way for both hybrids and regulars, it's a saving of $45 per year. nothing to write home about, but still a saving nonetheless. so factoring in the hybrid savings, the cost for the prius would be 9620 - 684 - 45 = $8891 per year. that's just a bit higher than my current civic! the one key assumption is that the fuel economy is as high as stated.if it's say...18km/L instead, i'd still save, but not as much. i suppose i could check out other models, like the vios. or maybe find cars that have COEs expiring in 2019. after all, my candidature will end in mid- or late-2018.

that took up way more time than i thought it would! maybe blogging is a skill - you lose it with infrequent usage. and i haven't even talked about my recent dental appointment yet! have to wait for the next post, i guess. other things i may want to talk about include occupying my time, credit and debit cards, research, driving, and whatever else crosses my mind.

-random thought of the day: Be more efficient.-

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