Monday, May 24, 2010

Economics @ Home © Volume 2 Issue 11

Of Mountains and Molehills

Halfway through typing an article for this week, I realized that I wanted to refer to an article that I had previously written, but then I realized that it was not published on Economics @ Home. Then I found it in my personal blog, which I have not been updating of late, I must admit. So, I have decided to officially welcome that special entry into Economics @ Home, and continue with my intended article in the next issue. Some of the information is outdated, but I decided to keep the full article for completeness.

Here it goes:

After hunting high and low to find a decently interesting topic to talk about, I have decided to settle on the juicy topic of women. Believe me, I tried to look for something else. Ideas that crossed my mind were:

1. Cars

I wanted to do a comparison between a BMW 7-series vs a Mercedes S-class but then I realized that my knowledge was not only very limited, but I haven't even been in any one of those cars. All I can tell you is that the BMW looks cooler than an S-class. The S-class has a more mature feel to it. Basically, it's meant for old men in their midlife crises. One good analogy that comes to mind is the Mac advertisement. It is obvious that the Mac guy is the BMW while the geeky, serious looking dude who dresses smartly is the S-class. I shall leave this discussion at that, and perhaps continue it another day.

2. Politics

What can I say that hasn't already been said? In today's newspaper, an MP passed away while another quit his position. The past few weeks have seen frogging like nobody's business and everyone has said their piece. Those people who have not kept quiet about are still telling the same stories about things that other people pretend they want to hear. The first step to solving all problems is to admit there is a problem. Everyone knows that. Everyone wants to blame someone. Once again, this discussion is simply overheated and probably a no-brainer for me. By talking about it, one can pretend to feel good about being superior to the party that he/she is blaming but we all know nothing can come out of it, not just by bitching.

3. Economics

Doom and gloom is around every corner. Keep badgering the US banks. It's all their fault. The Americans. They want to pump in another what? How many zeroes is that? Yeah, yeah, once again, everyone has had their chance to speak. We should feel a sense of relief that the new president has first world thinking. He acknowledges the problem. Step 1 complete! So now you buggers out there who are still pointing fingers and bitching about how the money should be spent and how it should not be spent, or how silly the financial allocation is, or how they are wasting it to banks that no one in the world can trust, well, please give your solutions. I would like to hear something that no one can refute. In bad times, every step you take is going to look bad. Every one wants a piece of the blaming finger.

On that note, I proudly say that I have no viable perfect solution. Reform is necessary, but I don't think I know enough to claim in what areas should the reform be in. So, maybe on another day, we can continue this discussion upon hindsight and you can hope that you were right and you can say "I told you so" in my face. But for now, let's just hope for the sake of the citizens of the world that you are wrong.

4. Sports

So I've pretty much gone through all the current issues that most people can talk about. Among other things such as the sacking of Scolari and the Steelers winning the Superbowl and the Spurs pwning the Celtics, sports will always be sports. Somebody always beats somebody else and the winner is remembered, the loser is forgotten.

5. Women

Well, women are number 5 on my list of important things to talk about? I remember when I was much younger (half my age!!), my classmates and I used to productively utilize our schooling time (in between classes, of course!) to chatter about what was deemed the most important things of our lives at that time, girls!

Fortunately for you and for me, this will not be idle chatter. Let us hope that at the end of the day, one of us leaves this site with at least some sense of awareness of what I am about to share with you.

Please be advised that I do not write this as a closet pervert, not that you should have any reason to believe I am one, but I write this with the intention of banding the men with similar experiences against the evil clutches of women-kind!

What is so evil about women? This question reminds me of a mathematical proof once showed to me by a classmate. At that point, I thought it was clever but it has been completely overused and underappreciated since then. That said, let us be clear about one thing, it is impossible to understand women (as men).

I have never attempted (never is a strong word, but I say it WLOG (Yeah, yeah, bet you can't use WLOG in a regular sentence like I can)) to understand women. Things women do that drive most men nuts:

OK, I had actually prepared a long list of silly things women do, like taking long showers, spending ridiculous amounts of cash on vanity products etc. but I decided to discard it for the simple reason that who hasn't heard it already?

I'd like to share a fictional story about Adam and Eve (forgive the biblical reference)

Eve texts Adam at 11.03 am one Saturday morning,

"Hey Adam, how are you doing? Just wanted to wish you good morning! I love you!"

2 hours and a few minutes later, at 1.08 pm, Adam finally struggles to get out of bed, no thanks to his Dota buddies who insisted on "One more last game" for the 6th time at 4 am. Adam drags himself to the bathroom, brushes his teeth, shaves (and do all the hygienic things that most men do :P) and then jacks off while he takes a shower, steps out, puts on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, grabs his cell phone, parks his butt on that magical sofa, flips the TV on with his well-trained clicking finger or thumb, looks down on his phone and then finally sees the message that Eve sent him about 3 hours ago (It's 1.59 pm now). So Adam opens the message and thinks to himself, "Aww, that's sweet..." (Adam is a nice guy by the way, he is just nocturnal).

"Hey baby, I just woke up not long ago. I'm starving. You've had your lunch, right? I think I'll just stop by the cafe outside to pick up some food", Adam unsuspectingly replies.

Adam heads out the door, gets a call from his good friend, Chuck, who invites him to go for a movie. Having no prior plans, Adam accepts, grabs a quick lunch, heads out with Chuck and the guys to catch Saw V. Little did Adam know that 30 seconds after he replied and slid his cell into his pocket, Eve had replied:

"Hey you! I was thinking maybe we could catch a movie later. Maybe some dinner afterwards. What do you think?"

If only Adam's cell was not in "Silent" mode. He had classes on Friday and forgot to switch the modes. One knows too well how the vibration doesn't really feel like anything when you are walking with the cell in your pocket. Girls, if the cell is in your handbag, you wouldn't notice a vibrate right? Especially with that arsenal of "goodies" in your bag.

Unknowingly, Adam sits through the 2 hour movie that started at 3 pm, and ended at 5,36 pm because of advertising. Guys being guys, went on to get a few good rounds of Dota going at the nearest LAN shop and before they know it, it's 7 pm, and time for dinner. Now, hold your horses, you bet that Adam didn't check his cell and went to dinner with his buddies, right? Wrong! Every guy checks his cell phone after walking out of a LAN shop. After all, they have to check if their girlfriend texted them. To his surprise and panic, Adam sees 2 unreplied messages and 1 miss call and replies immediately:

"Hey, I am so sorry. I didn't see your message earlier. I was out with my friends. We went to watch Saw V. I know you're not really a big fan of horror movies. It's kinda late to pick you up for dinner now, but I will make it up to you another time. I'm really sorry".

Perfectly honest mistake by a perfectly honest guy who really cares about his girlfriend. While some girls may understand that and accept his apology, but it is all too common that some girls may start giving a guy like Adam a cold shoulder. Reason?

Well, at 11.03 am after Eve texted Adam, Eve goes to freshen up, gets all dressed up (which by then is already 12.30 pm), hoping that Adam would have replied by then and he could swing by, pick her up for lunch and catch a movie (She was planning to watch Saw V with him because she knew how he loves horror). Thinking that she might appear too desperate or being too clingy towards Adam, Eve decides not to call Adam and bug him. "He's probably taking a shower". At 1.30 pm, Eve begins to think, "He's taking an awfully long time to reply. I wonder what he is up to." Another 29 minutes of see-sawing goes by, not knowing if she should or should not call Adam, thankfully Adam replies. "Phew". Eve jumps in shock of her ringtone, opens the message immediately and smiles. "Finally, he replied". She quickly replies his message, hoping to at least catch a movie with him later.

The rest as we deem to be history happened. Now, in between the hours of 2.00 pm to 5.30 pm, she texted Adam:

"Hey, are you back from lunch yet? I haven't heard from you. What are you doing? Did you get my message?"

Another 40 minutes goes by. Eve calls Adam. But his cell was on silent mode. Apparently the vibration wasn't that great either. Perhaps it was off because he was in the cinema. Who knows...

Now Eve is beginning to get really frustrated. "What is Adam really doing? Why hasn't he replied my message? Why didn't he pick up my call? He must be playing computer games with his friends again. Is he out with another girl? I guess that's quite unlikely. He's not the cheating type. If only I could see him. I made sure I left my schedule open this weekend just to see him. I even decided not to go to Jenny's birthday party because it was the premier weekend for Saw V. What is he doing? Where could he be? Maybe he is watching the movie with his friends. Why didn't he invite me along? Is he embarassed about me? Does he think I am too clingy? Am I too clingy? Should I give him more space? Why am I so frustrated? He probably just didn't see my message. But why would someone own a cellphone and not be reachable? Might as well not own a cellphone".

As you can see, this thought process can go on and on and on. This is called "dwelling". To the unsuspecting guy (I guess he may or may not be innocent, but he would in no way suspect he was doing something very wrong), he will wonder what he really did wrong. All he did was just being late in replying an sms. Besides, his girlfriend has been late in replying his messages before too.

On the other end of things, Eve is all worked up, decides to give Adam a cold shoulder and demands to herself that she deserves to be treated better. So now, what is seemingly a small situation had been blown out of proportions because of an innocent mistake. Eve continues to give Adam the cold shoulder for a few days. Adam still wonders why can't Eve forgive him for replying an sms late. Eve has replied more texts late than he has, as far as he remembers. But of course Eve's reasons were "completely valid".

Now, boys and girls, at some point in our relationships with our significant other, we would have encountered a situation similar to this. So it is my hope that we ponder about this story with an open mind and stay aware that some mistakes can be innocent. The best way to avoid a cold war like this one would be to communicate. Talk to your partners. Be clear and honest.

All this could have been avoided if Eve had said in the first message that she wanted to watch Saw V with Adam. She wanted to "act cool" by not being the clingy girlfriend, or so she thinks and thus played a small role in building this mountain out of a molehill. Adam on the other hand, piled on the dirt by not checking his cellphone every 15 minutes, but can he really be blamed? Maybe... If he was the kind of guy who puts his girlfriend ahead of everything he does, he might have checked his phone sooner.

So, once again, communication is key. I guess I take back my point about women being evil. Nonetheless, the mathematical proof is concrete. Hope you liked the story.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Economics @ Home © Volume 2 Issue 10

When I Get Older

When my boss talked about his mode of operation yesterday, it made me realized many things. The first of which, if I don't take my work seriously, no one else will. I was late with posting Volume 2 Issue 10 (this week's issue) and my excuse was the lack of time. But when I was writing Economics @ Home on a weekly basis, I reduced the regularity to once a fortnight, and I still failed to meet the deadline. Before you jump to the conclusion that I am about to write only once a month, I would like to stop you right there.

The problem was not the lack of time. The problem was in my priorities. i Capital has NOT failed to be published on a Friday for 21 years. Just within this year alone, I have failed in meeting my deadline at least twice. I can only express my total embarrassment. 

My priority should be to ensure that Economics @ Home is published on time every week, even if it means I do not sleep throughout the night. This is what my boss termed as "professionalism". 

If I ever want Economics @ Home to be taken seriously, I have to be professional. But of course, being professional is far from being sufficient. Meeting a deadline with a junk article is not going to cut it. I have to at least maintain the quality of my content WHILE meeting the deadline. The sustainability of my business depends on the quality of service from the front end right all the way to the "after-sales" service. 

In dedication to the invaluable lessons that I learnt this week and also in conjunction with the coming World Cup, I present the following video. Just absorb the meaning of the song. I hope you enjoy it.