Friday, November 30, 2012

IQ Test Puzzles

In London, there was an awesome Science Museum which sold plenty of puzzles and brain boggling puzzles. I bought an IQ Test from Dynamo House to try because I like those puzzles and think they're fun. They require our minds to think logically but not in a direct line.

If you enjoyed the Legs Puzzle that I posted up a few months ago, you may like to try some of these IQ test puzzles:

Puzzle 1: Mary had a number of cookies. After eating one, she gave half the remainder to her sister. After eating another cookie, she gave half of what was left to her brother. Mary now had only five cookies left. How many cookies did she start with?

11-22-23-45-46 ?

Puzzle 2: A spaceship received three messages in a strange language from a distant planet. The astronauts studied these messages and found that "Elros Aldarion Elendil" means "Danger Rocket Explosion" and "Edain Mnyatur Elros" means "Danger Spaceship Fire" and "Aldarion Gimilzor Gondor" means "Bad Gas Explosion". What does "Elendil" mean?


Puzzle 3: John, twelve years old, is three times as old as his brother. How old will John be when he is twice as old as his brother?


Puzzle 4: The price of an article was cut 20% for a sale. By what percent must the item be increased again to sell the article at the original price?


Enjoy and I'll post up the answers in a few days (or weeks) time =)


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Establishing Goals And Dreams

Yesterday I posted a recap of 2012.

Mr SMG looks up from his iPad in surprise that I finally updated this blog, reads it and then grumbles about how going snowboarding in Canada and Colorado is unfeasible due to our commitments and plans for 2013. It is rather disappointing to know that we may be missing a few snowboarding seasons.

We will be going away to Singapore in a few weeks time, having returned from Europe not long ago. So can't afford to jet off to multiple holidays plus an overseas wedding in addition to buying a freakingly expensive house in Sydney.

I'm rather trepidacious about the potentially monstrous mortgage and have compiled several what-if worse case scenarios if anything goes wrong - what I'll liquidate first (the emergency funds in the mortgage offset), liquidate secondly (my stock portfolio and his managed funds) and liquidate as last resort (my apartment).

I'm being overly dramatic though. We can still afford the potential house mortgage for approximately two years with both of us not earning any direct income from employment before we hit the wall and need to liquidate the illiquid assets such as my apartment. So yeah, haven't bought the house yet but have already crunched the various scenarios into a pile of crumbs already. 

So here are my rough goals(again) going forward into 2013, reposted with edits:

1. Something massive x 2 (could I be more 007 like? lol)
2. Buy a house
3. If time+budget+life permits, travel South East Asia (Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam)
4. Work on side hobbies (photo props/card designs/iPhone apps) and get them launched

Just remembered that I also did a recap of 2011 goals which you can read about here.

Oddly enough, the goals that I hadn't fully achieved in 2011 were all achieved in 2012.

The goals that I haven't fully achieved in 2012 will undoubtedly be achieved in 2013.

Below is a how-to guide on how to set goals and objectives if you don't know how or you wish to learn how. Remember, that all goals must meet the S.M.A.R.T criterias of being specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. You can always sneak in some pie-in-the-sky goals like I always just never know what may come true ;)

Setting Goals And Objectives:

1. What do you want to achieve in the long term 5-10 years from now?
2. What do you want to achieve in the medium term 3-5 years from now to achieve your long term goals?
3. What do you need to do in the short term, today-3 years time to achieve your medium and long term goals?
4. Establish your dreams and goals for various categories such as: family, friends, personal relationship, career, health, finances. For each of those categories, break them down into what you want for the long term and what you need to do in the short to medium term in order to realistically achieve those long term goals.

Note that the time periods are just a guidance and you don't have to set long term, 10 year goals.

However Robert Kiyosaki writes that you need to start off with what and where you want to be in 5-10 years time before you know what you need to do for the next few years to get to where you want to be. (It's blatantly obvious that I've been reading Kiyosaki's books eh?!)

Example Of How To Set Your Goals

A friend of mine tells me that he wants to buy a house. I asked him when does he hope to buy one? He says he doesn't know when and he's got no idea when or how he can afford one. I asked him a few questions to sort out what he wants:
* Which area does he like and wish to buy a house in? Coastal
* What type of house does he want? At least 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and 1 carpark
* What are the prices of houses like that in the area he wants to buy in? $500,000

From those answers, we deduced that:
1. He'll need to save up 20% of $500,000 as a deposit
2. He'll need to save up 5% of $500,000 for the miscellaneous expenses such as legal fees, stamp duty, mortgage duty, pest and building inspections, settlement fees etc
3. Therefore he'll need to save up at least $125,000 to buy a house
4. How much can he save each week? $125,000 divided by what he can save weekly or monthly will determine how long it will take him to realistically achieve his long term goal

Example: If he can save $800 per week, then his goals would look something like:
$125,000/$800 = 156 weeks worth of savings = 3 years worth of saving

1. Long term goal-  buy a $500,000 house in 3 years time
2. Medium term - save up at least  $41,666 annually
3. Short term - save up $800 per week     

 So instead of drifting along with the idea that he wants to buy a house in the near future, he can set realistic goals and KNOW that he can buy one in three years time IF he saves $800 weekly

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Birthdays And More Birthdays

Tis' The Season To Be Birthdays
It's been birthday season for the past few months going into Christmas.

Haven't even had time to contemplate the Silly Season because of Birthday Season.

What have you been up to? Christmas shopping? Just to let you know in advance, this post has a little bit of everything to compensate for the weeks I haven't been prolifically blogging.

The Aussie Economy
Our Aussie economy is in a slump right now and it would be foolish of me to ignore the potentially darker economy heading our way. Maybe we're in a slump because we mutilate ourselves, economically speaking. We buy goods online from overseas and that means local retailers(one of the biggest employers in Oz) are struggling and this translates to cut labour hours and reduced income for retail employees. All this flow on effect leads to reduced consumption. It's the circle of economics 101.

Travelling and More Travelling
Mr SMG and I will be travelling again in a few short weeks to Singapore. We're actually driving south with a group of friends next weekend. So much happening. There was a looooong hiatus from blogging because we were in Europe for several weeks. I can't even disclose exactly when we'll be travelling because there are other third parties out there who know where I live. That's what happens when you post under your real name duh, *smacks forehead*.

I had good intentions of posting up some holiday snaps but it's been crazy busy even though I supposedly have almost all the time in the world. Over the last few months, I've been thanking my younger, sagacious self for looking after my older self. I could not be in my current position of relative comfort without my younger self prudently investing madly(juxtaposition intended lol).

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
Yours truly has been preoccupied with an iPhone app idea. Will that venture take off or crash and burn?

I won't even shed any tears over how my dear friend Mr Z and I could have been gazillionaires already if we had bought Apple shares back in 2006/2007. He and I could have had ten million each under our belts if we had chosen that route but when the road is forking, you never know which road to take until it's too late. Who could have foreseen the successful, phenomenal Apple product releases of the iPad and iPhones? We knew Apple's imagination and creativity was starting to ignite back then, but as you know, coulda, woulda, shoulda. Oops.

An Early Christmas Pressie For You
What can I give my readers for Christmas? Maybe a wry comment to go easy on the credit card and Christmas gifts if you think you may end up with a financial headache in January. Go through your recurring bills and find more competitive offers out there, ask for a price match and save yourselves thousands of dollars. What else hasn't been said?

New Years Eve Resolution For 2013
Okay, so I'm one month early =) Why wait?

If you've got NYE resolution from back in January, maybe reflect on those and what you've achieved?

I look back at what I posted in January 2012 about my NYE resolutions:
"a huge promise to make, a house to buy and a few travel destinations"
1. Yep; the huge promise was made
2. Nope; didn't buy the house
3. Yep; few travel destinations were travelled

Two out of three ain't bad I guess. It would have been sweet to achieve all three but I'm still happy overall about 2012 =)

Got some MAJOR plans for 2013:

1. Something massive x 2 (could I be more 007 like? lol)
2. Buy a house
3. If time+budget+life permits, go snowboarding in Canada/Colorado
(Mr SMG says this is pie in the sky and I should have omitted this one  >.<)
4. If time+budget+life permits, travel South East Asia (Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam)

5. Work on side hobbies (photo props/card designs/iPhone apps) and get them launched

What about yourself? Are you happy with 2012?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Traffic Stats: Over 100,000 visits to SMG

Sorry dear readers. Haven't been posting consistently. Just wanted to say that I thank you for visiting, for reading and for subscribing.

Just thought I'd do a quick post to say that my Google Analytic traffic stat has hit over 100,000 visits to this humble site. It may not be a super huge number but it means that I'm writing something that is of interest or of  use to you as readers.

Even without posting regularly, the views last month was crazy at 15, 696. The figures are growing exponentially.

My 'statcounter' is only tracking visits to the main homepage(almost 47,000), whereas Google Analytics track visits to all parts of my blog, including archives.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Harvesting, Pruning and Eating Your Basil Plants

A friend of ours was showing me his super healthy, potted herb garden.

I envy folks who live in houses. House gardens are much more conducive to gardening than most balcony gardens. Our balcony gets windy most days because of the height and proximity to the river so we get a lot of wind which causes the soil to dry out and harden.

Anyway, for anyone curious about how they can prune or harvest their basil to eat, I'm posting some pictures below of how we harvest ours. All varieties of basil, mint and rosemary thrives on being cut back so that their side buds can grow bushy. Pruning them to eat also prevents them from flowering so that you can enjoy eating them for several months.

It's tempting to let your beloved plants to grow unchecked and uneaten but before you know it, they'll start flowering and it's all over unless you cut all the blooms off before they start seeding and dying off. As you can see below, it doesn't matter where I cut, as long as I remove the flower and cut just above the leaves/shoot nodes:

 Cutting your basil or mint plants (it doesn't matter which variety you grow):

1. Decide how high you want your basil plant to grow and aim to lop off at the height you desire
2. Identify the two big fat leaves at the node and the little baby shoots growing from the stem
3. Cut just above the two big fat leaves and the baby shoots and lop the top off
4. Eat

As you can see, our dear friend Peanut, gave us this Thai basil plant months ago. It was too hard to eat Thai basil all the time so it ultimately started flowering because I wasn't pruning them back diligently. I've been stir frying, having basil in the soup, basil in rice paper summer rolls and have been taking a break from basil so they started flowering.