2012’s been a really great year. I’m writing this before 21 Dec 2012 so quite obviously, I’m not in the ‘world’s-going-to-end’ camp. Of course, the really juicy news this year was all about the various scandals and affairs (think Ng Boon Gay & Cecilia Sue, Yaw Shin Leong, the underaged prostitute who got a boatload of people into trouble and of course, most recently, Michael Palmer). And then there was there were the cases of foreigners in Singapore (think Ma Chi and his Ferrari, Chinese SMRT bus drivers giving us Singapore’s very first strike in donkey years) but if that was what made my year, then I’d be a really trivial and shallow piece of existence.

This year was really a big point in my life- even much bigger than finishing NS, getting my driving license, graduating from University and being born. Of course, the big event this year wouldn’t have happened without all of the above but I think on a personal, emotional level, this year has been pretty much the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life- I got married.

Love

Even if the world comes to an end tomorrow, 2012 would still have been a great year. Why? I got married. And not just to any other person in the world but I got married to the one person that brings out the best in me.

Here’s how:

1) Her attention to detail contrasts greatly with my bird’s eye view. I tend to think more naturally in terms of seeing forests and systems. The problem is that sometimes, you need to pay attention to details and this is where my love is an expert at.

2) Her sensitivity reminds me that life isn’t about heuristics, fixed rules and going fast all the time. I tend to find diplomacy tiring and I am pretty critical of many things. While being an asshole is fun sometimes, no one ever got respect by being one.

With the one that you love, more than ever, you have to train yourself to be more patient. And that patience leads to all sorts of other good behaviour like becoming more of an empathiser and forgiveness.

3) She shares the same values that I do. Let’s face it. It’s tough working towards a singular goal if two people have differing objectives- just think of how impossible it would be to become wealthy if one were to save and invest but your partner drains the account at the same time. I think it’s beyond the laws of physics that a boat will float if one person is filling the boat up with water while another is trying to drain the water.

So there, that’s my love life. Most important development of the year. It’s not perfect (few things in life ever are) but easily the one event that made my year (and life) a better one.

Investing

On this front, I’m glad to say that most things went well this year. But of course, there are the usual mistakes that I made. First of all, I sold GRP at $0.20. It now stands at $0.27. I sold Haw Par too. And it now stands at $6.07 and it now stands at $6.67. As for Spindex, I sold at $0.30 and it now stands at $0.335. And these don’t include the dividends I could have collected along the way.

My saving grace, of course was Adampak which was taken private at $0.41cent. Versus my cost price of $0.235, I can only say that it was a good ride. Adampak was a really well run company, decent cashflow and good business. I can only say that I wish I had the good sense to go in a bigger way when it was at $0.13.

I’ve bought into some new companies which I think won’t do badly (my philosophy is a strong defence is a good offence) and I’m glad to say that the portfolio (as of this writing) is up (just dividends and capital gains) about 22% since the beginning of the year.

I’m moving ahead of schedule towards where I need to be and that’s always a good thing. Hopefully, I find the opportunity to get there way ahead of time.

Career

I got a new job. It’s a fantastic one completely different from the previous one and one that I think suits me much better. I can see the value that the work I’m doing generates (there’s even academic studies to back this up) and it helps that the working environment is a fantastic one- no backstabbing, politicking colleagues; or mean bosses. Well, of course, there’s the redundancy that accompanies the institutional imperative but hey, find me one other big government linked organisation that doesn’t have something like this.

On the whole, I like the job and the pay’s decent enough. Helps that the people I work with are good people too. I think that’s usually the downer for most people just starting out in the workforce- you don’t get the chance to choose who to work with but I’ve been extremely fortunate in both my previous workplace and this one that I’ve only had to work with nothing but the best and nicest people.

Everything else

L’arc en ciel came to Singapore. What else can I say?

Ok, that’s not the only great thing. I visited New York City, Niagara Falls, Niagara on the lake, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec for the first time. It’s always nice to go overseas and see how other people live their lives. Of course, exploring their food is one of the biggest draws for me and it helps that the internet is full of user-generated information. Yelp was a fantastic source for us both in NYC and Canada.

Some of the best I had on the trip include:

– Cheesecake from Two Little Red Hens (NYC)
– Roast beef sandwich from Scwartz’s Deli (Montreal)
– Steak (can’t remember which cut)from the Terrapin Grille at Marriott Fallsview (Niagara Falls)
– Panko crusted oysters, Guest tap wheat beer from Rodney’s Oyster Bar (Toronto)
– Lobster cooked in a garlic butter sauce,  Beef horfun from Sang Ho (Toronto)
Fries from Five Guys (NYC)
– Beef Rendang from Nyonya (NYC)
– Breakfast potato fries from Fallsview Manor (Niagra Falls)
Pierogies from Potash (Montreal)
– Breakfast croissant, Cappuccino from Mon cafe (Montreal)
– Donuts from Donut Plant (NYC)

No wonder I put on so much weight in 2012. Interestingly, restaurants in NYC and Canada really put quite an emphasis on their service standards. It’s not just about the basic stuff like getting orders right, refilling the coffee (at breakfast) and water, smiling and greeting customers, not having to raise my hand for 5 minutes to get a service staff’s attention or clearing plates on time but also coordination with the kitchen also has to play a role to make sure that food for both guests come at the same time.

I’m not saying that every place we went to in NYC and Canada had such good standards but by and large, they had it. And it left such an impression on me that I started noticing these things when dining in restaurants here. I’m glad to say that quite a few places here have had pretty good service (and food of course!) as well.

Dozo at Valley Point (491 River Valley Road)
– Blu kouzina at Upp. Bukit Timah (893 Bukit Timah rd)
– Miharu Sapporo Ramen at Gallery hotel
– Pasta Inc at Keong Siak rd (35 Keong Siak rd)
– Pietro Ristoranta Italiano at Jln Kelulut (12 Jalan Kelulut)

Obviously, these are stand outs and not everyday fare and much deserves to be mentioned about some of the everyday places that I eat at but that’s for another post.

All in all, 2012’s been a fantastic year and it goes to show that even if the world (kinda) sucked, your world doesn’t have to. Have a great year ahead!

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