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The suiting thread


kotmj
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I was curious about the financial arrangement between the vet owner, and his farm caretaker. The farm caretaker told me that it's very simple. He is NOT paid a salary at all. Instead, the vet gives him the right to use about half of his farm. In exchange, he manages the entire farm of 8 acres. 

So anything the farm caretaker can grow on his 4 acres is his. He mostly plants vegetables, which he then sells to the vegetable stalls in Bukit Tinggi. This is how he generates cash for himself.

I brought my mother to have a look at the paradise-like beauty of that 8 acres. She is a lover of steamed gourmet chicken, which is also why she has diabetes, and also why she asked the farmer if he has chicken for sale, having observed several running around.

You know, for very, very many, food is an addiction. It is no different from opium, or shabu. My entire family is a basket case health-wise. Both my YOUNGER brothers are obese and one blood clot away from a stroke or heart failure. Their blood pressures are sky high. Cholesterol levels are through the roof. I can only imagine how clogged their arteries are. 

They can all see that I'm the opposite. My blood tests have come back with perfect results. My blood pressure is perfect. My resting heart rate is 60.

Yet, it never occurred to them to eat as I do. So strange. Humans are so weak.

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^My younger brother's blood pressure. It's the lowest reading in years, and he was so happy that he whatsapped us this. 

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My blood pressure reading

I keep hearing of people ordering through Food Panda or Grab Food during MCO. There is nothing you can order through them that is actually edible without causing harm to your health. There is nothing they can deliver that is the best thing you can eat. Not one thing. Nothing. 

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The real estate agent was wondering if I had paid the rent for the shop. Please reply, he said, after unsuccessfully trying to get me to chat with him on WhatsApp.

There are at least two approaches to communicating on chat, isn't there? The first and most common approach is how you "stay in communication" with people, where you engage them in chat. Over successive messages, you form a bond, a common understanding. 

I was not born to do that. There is almost nothing I hate more than that. I hate chatting. 

My approach has always been to make each message as substantive as possible. The first message you get from me will deal with the crux, immediately, and will have reflected some thought. 

I was expecting an proposal, a concept from whoever represents the landlady. Revenues have been zero. Nobody knows when it will not be zero. Nobody knows how bad it will be when it is not zero. In fact, nobody is even allowed in the shop. 

"Hi, have you paid the rent?" is the retard's message to the customer (the tenant). It reflects a complete lack of sensitivity to the situation, and zero thought. Was he really expecting the full rent by the 7th? 

I know, I know. He merely wants to engage me in conversation. Over many messages, we will come to an amicable understanding. But he fails to realise not everybody wants to use their attention for a real estate agent. For some people, you better come up with a proposal straight out of the gate. They may have zero inclination to spend the afternoon chatting with you. 

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For instance, if I was representing the landlady, I would say:

"Hi Jeremy. I was just talking to the landlady and we would like to offer you 50% rent reduction for the duration of the MCO. We are also happy to discuss a rent reduction post-MCO. If you agree, please pay the rent by such-and-such date." 

Not: "Hi, have you paid the rent yet?" 

But the guy is not perceptive enough for this. When I hire a sales guy for JT, he will be smart enough to produce an approach like this. 

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http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/13/3/255.pdf

What an interesting paper!!! I'm seeing good things coming out of UKM. 

The study was done on post-menopausal Malaysian women from KL aged 50-65, mostly from poor households making less than RM5k per month. Most of us on this forum lack the resourcefulness to survive on RM5k/month (spending that much on footwear alone), and lack the imagination for how an entire family could live on that, but apparently it is considered the boundary between middle and high income. 

The results are so interesting. Malay women carry on average 5kg more fat around than Chinese women. Imagine having a 5kg backpack that you can't shake off.

But the biggest difference is in the serum Vitamin D. The vast majority of Malay women are Vitamin D insufficient and deficient. Only 12% of Chinese women have serum Vit D lower than 50 nmol/l, but a whopping 73% of Malay women are this low. 

What does this tell us? You have to make a conscious effort to expose bare skin to the sun between 11:30am and 3:30pm. Malay women are a lot more covered than Chinese women, so they have to make a lot more effort. 

Having gone through a bout of Vitamin D insufficiency myself, it is a terrible thing. It really lowers your quality of life.

According to some papers, serum Vit D of between 90-120 nmol/l is necessary for cancer prevention. But nobody in the study had a level higher than 100 nmol/l. 

The good news is that even older Chinese women (synthesis declines with age) seem to have pretty good Vitamin D levels in an international comparison, thanks no doubt to our climate. In Germany, half of the adult population have levels lower than 50 nmol/l, compared to 88% of older Chinese Malaysian women having levels higher than that. 

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Has to be air fried.

Screenshot_20200422_225542.jpg?raw=1

That beige-coloured corner shoplot is the corporate HQ of Watatime. There are no signs anywhere announcing that fact. It is in a very low rent area of KL, Shamelin Perkasa. Very slum. 

I had called Watatime the cockroach that survives the nuclear holocaust partly because of this. Their HQ avoids any display of prosperity. They do not sponsor any kind of cultural event. The owners are not known as patrons of the arts, the way the Tays are in Singapore. In fact, I don't even know who owns Watatime.

(Michael Tay is known the world over for his good taste in all the finer things. But his mother is a bankrupt. )

Watatime has curiously few outlets. Only 6, all in KL. But every outlet is in a successful mall: 1U, Pavilion, Gardens, Sunway Pyramid, etc. Do you think the owner wishes he could sell more watches by opening more outlets? You bet. But he is disciplined. No sprawling empire that all goes to hell when the economy tanks.

I bet if you were to look at Watatime's balance sheet, there would be a huge cash position. In good times, as in bad. 

Like Padini, actually. Padini is public listed, and for years I've wondered why the owner keeps so damn much cash. When I started looking years ago, he had some RM300m in cash in the company. In the last quarterly report, he has half a billion in cash. 

Something like the current situation is why he has all that cash. It's like the hump on the camel's back. It lets him outlast the drought.

Screenshot_20200422_231552_com.google.an

Would you look at Padini's head office in Shah Alam? It looks like it was designed by a RM2.5k/month droughtsman. It's also tiny, relative to the size of the company. 

Padini is probably several times the size of BritishIndia, yet BritishIndia has a real designer HQ which has won architectural awards. It is several times the size of Padini's. 

IMG36418.jpg

^Britishindia HQ in Kota Damansara 

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23 hours ago, kotmj said:

 

I had called Watatime the cockroach that survives the nuclear holocaust partly because of this. Their HQ avoids any display of prosperity. They do not sponsor any kind of cultural event. The owners are not known as patrons of the arts, the way the Tays are in Singapore. In fact, I don't even know who owns Watatime.

(Michael Tay is known the world over for his good taste in all the finer things. But his mother is a bankrupt. )

Watatime has curiously few outlets. Only 6, all in KL. But every outlet is in a successful mall: 1U, Pavilion, Gardens, Sunway Pyramid, etc. Do you think the owner wishes he could sell more watches by opening more outlets? You bet. But he is disciplined. No sprawling empire that all goes to hell when the economy tanks.

I bet if you were to look at Watatime's balance sheet, there would be a huge cash position. In good times, as in bad. 

Like Padini, actually. Padini is public listed, and for years I've wondered why the owner keeps so damn much cash. When I started looking years ago, he had some RM300m in cash in the company. In the last quarterly report, he has half a billion in cash. 

Something like the current situation is why he has all that cash. It's like the hump on the camel's back. It lets him outlast the drought.

I love reading about your thoughts and tracking your progress. When we first met at one of the get togethers with the baron etc, you used to stare so intently into my eyes that it made me uncomfortable. Your presence was always very plain and dull but you truly come alive when you write! 

You are able to articulate feelings so well - your anger, excitement, love, joy, frustration, annoyance and hubris. 50% of Watatime was bought by the Lion Group - a quick Google search will tell you that. You are wrong about Watatime. It was struggling to survive during the good times. Lion had to lend them a total of RM 15 million in 2018 in order to keep them afloat. 

THG however is an amazing organisation, well run, with SGD180 million in cash and a 10% net margin. Between 2017 to 2019 they reduced their current liabilities by a whopping 70%. They are the very definition of cockroach. They own most of the stores they are in, own their own office building in Malaysia and will be able to their Malaysian entity has RM150million in their bank accounts. Don't forget, they are retailers and don't have ''factory overheads'' like Padini. 

The Ipoh born founder is declared a bankrupt solely because they don't allow her access to the holding company. The 2014 4 SLR 1149 case will explain a great deal of how the divorce basically locked her out of the holding company because Dr. Tay and his son controls 51% of the company. 

Back to Watatime. The geniuses at the retailer and Parkson did not bother checking the agreement they had with Tudor and Rolex prior to the JV. The agreement stipulated that the founders were the distributors and not the company. So when one of them left, they lost Rolex and Tudor. They were appointed a Tudor retailer recently and I hear will carry Rolex by 2022, which maybe the reason why Parkson is keeping them afloat. 

Parkson has 1.6B in cash.

EF Lau

 

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Informative! I didn't know anyone else would have the same interest I have in these sort of businesses for purely recreational reasons (as opposed to professional reasons). 

It occurred to me there are two camps about how to deal with covid. One camp says, we need to defeat the thing. Drive it back to extinction. We want a covid-free society. 

The other camp says, covid will be with us permanently. Just like the seasonal flu. We just want to flatten the curve to prevent a spike in hospitalisations. To prevent doctors from having to decide who gets a ventilator, and who doesn't. But ultimately, this camp says, the area under the curve is the same. Everybody will eventually get covid. The thing is too contagious for us not to. 

I belong to the second camp. But the Malaysian government wants to "hapuskan" covid. It belongs to the first camp. It also has not unveiled any exit plan to the cripplingly expensive MCO. I mean, I read about the Health DG saying, we managed to flatten the curve. I think to myself: How many trillions did that cost us? The issue of cost does not seem to cross his mind. Any idiot can flatten the curve. Said idiot will come up with the prescription we have now. 

We need someone with a more holistic view of the situation. This is an engineering problem. There are many factors at play, not just public health. 

I then asked myself the following question:

Why is Muhyiddin so stupid?

And the answer is, he is not. He is anything but. 

The reason Muhyiddin wants to hapuskan covid is because he, and all those he hangs out with, belong to the group of people most vulnerable to covid. If he gets covid, he will very likely die. 

So, he wants to drive it out of Malaysia. At a cost of trillions. He will be unsuccessful. In the process, many lives will be mangled beyond all recognition economically. 

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It's really a humanistic decision we have made. My parents are very vulnerable to covid, just like Muhyiddin and most of the cabinet which comprises overweight or obese older individuals with pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, and very elevated cholesterol. (There is only one cause to all these: the stuff you swallow everyday.)

What am I willing to do to delay my parents getting covid? 

Death by pneumonia is terrible. It is a slow suffocation that stretches over a week or more. In that process, your skin turns black from a lack of oxygen and from carbon dioxide poisoning. 

Would I mind being under house arrest for 10 years in exchange for my parents catching it a month later than they otherwise would? 

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IMG_20200426_155213.jpg?raw=1

Great weather today. Two days ago, just for fun, I took 1000 IU of Vit D. The bottle is always on the passenger seat of the car. 

It is a small dose of supplementation. I used to take 4000 IU daily. I stopped a few months ago because I got myself the real thing---direct sunlight. 

Then, since MCO, I got myself reflected sunlight by sitting in sunny shade. The kind of indirect sun you get by sitting under the shade of a tree, or a porch. 

I thought that would be sufficient. 

Until I took that 1000 IU. I slept earlier and better that night. The next day (yesterday) I took another 1000 IU. My God, my sleep was early, it was deep, and it was long. In a way it had not been since a couple weeks.

I think maybe indirect sunlight, even for more than an hour a day, is insufficient. It appears I really need to go into the hot sun. Or take supplements. 

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Only about 5-15% of UVB (the Vit D-inducing stuff) is reflected from various surfaces. A patchy opaque shade (like a tree canopy) also blocks out most of the sunlight. Thing is, our eyes are terrible at estimating absolute brightness - it's the necessary evil to having an adaptable iris. A shade may feel only 50% dark when it has only 10% the available light (usually much, much much less).

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In photography, there is the concept of "stops" of light. Each "stop" either halves or doubles the amount of light. I did a search, and the difference between direct sun and a shade surrounded by direct sun is 4 stops. So by sitting in the shade, I get something like 6% what I would have gotten in direct sun. If I am happy with my serum D levels at 15 minutes direct sun each day, I'd have to sit in the shade 4 hours to achieve the same effect. 

So yeah, I will go into direct sun from henceforth. 

A few weeks back, looking at the fire sale prices for equity, I casted around furtively for cash that I can use to buy equity. I offered to sell a kidney to a friend of mine whose son has only one, but he thought it was a joke. 

I am always "fully invested", which means I am always low on cash but high on assets. This is not supposed to be a problem because in times of crisis, asset prices are low so even if your income goes down, you can still buy quite a bit of asset. But nobody seems to have taken into account zero income. 

Then, in a flash of genius, it occurred to me it is possible to use EPF money to buy into mutual funds. Now, I dislike the entire mutual fund industry the way I dislike the tailoring industry. But, it's OK to pay the sort of fees stupid people pay if I get exposure to a historically cheap Bursa. 

So I applied for an i-Akaun. It took me a whole day to prepare the application forms. It is necessary to have that account to move funds from Account 2 of my EPF to mutual funds. 

A few weeks later, EPF told me they are too busy to process my application. If I am applying for i-Lestari, please just do that, they tell me. But I have no interest in RM500/month. I want to put as much money as possible into the stock market. Even that is not possible. 

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IMG_20200428_181342.jpg?raw=1

While out on a walk, I saw a Chinese farmer with a shotgun under his arm. He was accompanied by a younger foreign worker, probably from Indonesia. He was shooting monkeys. 

Where I live, one hears the sound of gunshots quite regularly. Some wild boar hunting takes place here---there are various strategies on how to do this. One is to use a pack of dogs. The dogs would make a hell of a noise when it encounters a boar, and will not stop chasing it. Your job is to follow the dogs, and ultimately shoot, or chop down the boar. This is the method employed by foreign farm workers. It is super back breaking. I was once asked by a sweating and panting farm worker if I saw his dogs. He was quite outrun by both boar and dogs. 

Chinese farm owners use a different way. A bunch of them, all with shotguns, would stand, back to back, in an outward-facing formation. They stand on a slope, say of a hill. They are allowed to shoot up the slope, but not down it. Then, a few of their employees would go "beating around the bush" downhill. This scares the boars, who then run uphill. The hunters take aim and shoot them from the back. This method minimizes shooting the wrong thing, or shooting each other. Also, when you shoot something running very fast from the rear, it is a lot easier to aim than something running from left to right of you. 

The worst way to hunt is to just go out with a friend and try to shoot at something plausible. 

Monkeys are regularly hunted here. The Orang Asli hunts them for food. They have learnt to use head-mounted LED spotlights to great effect: these spotlights can be bought at the kedai runcit here. Farmers hunt them because they are a pest. 

That shell was manufactured by SME Ordnance Sdn Bhd, the only manufacturer of ammunition in Malaysia, and owned by MoD. It had trouble paying salaries in 2018. One forumer commented that it is only in Malaysia that you see monopoly businesses going bust, lol. 

https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/4637375/all

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These long afternoon walks may soon come to an end. Monday, life regains a semblance of normalcy. And with that, I lose these restful, leisurely days. What can I say: I look forward to retirement.

I shall have to return to dealing with a volley of things coming at me nonstop. Many of these I will have to somehow deflect, because it is necessary to pick your battles. There are only so many things I can turn my attention to in a day.

I think the real management challenge has only just begun. For tailors, the rest of this year will see a dwindling of demand. Demand for suits are in two categories: wedding and business. 

People are not allowed to hold dinner banquets anymore. Do they still want wedding suits? 

Business travel is very curtailed, and business congregations like professional body meets, congresses, and seminars have evaporated.

I guess I can count on the lawyers. They still need their black suits. Senior execs, too, when they need to get loans from the bank and want to go in a suit. And the salespeople. Nothing like seeing clients paying you millions a year in a suit. ("Finally, this useless sales guy is taking our account seriously. He's in a  suit!")

Tailors will have to reconsider the employment terms of their employees. If any of them gets covid, regardless of the source of infection, the entire treatment and quarantine period is paid leave. There is also the cost of disinfecting the premises. And other costs. It may be necessary to convert employees into freelancers. It may even be necessary to do this quite soon because the government wants to change labour laws specifically to take into account covid---in favour of employees. This is after they tried strong-arming businesses only to realise they lack the laws, which caused a backtrack. Expect no resistance from the opposition, who has always been socialistic. I applaud progress in making labour and capital more equal. But it all ends when the host---the company---falls due to the burden of its obligations.

A model like Grab drivers and Grab (the company) would be quite advantageous. The drivers are not the employees of Grab. They're freelancers. I might even charge the freelancers rent to use the workshop space, much like what you'd pay for co-working space.

It would be a mistake, I think, to even briefly change the fundamental course of the company. Say, from making suits to making hazmat suits. JT needs to always be better: higher quality and creativity, more mature processes, more compelling presentation and better communication, ever shorter lead times, and ever more flexibility for the customer. You keep doing this for a couple of decades and then you realise you're standing quite alone in rarified air.

(Most of these improvements will come from hiring people to do the things I suck at.)

I don't expect demand will remain low for long. Nothing can stop the people from enjoying life. Merriment is the whole reason for existence. People will find a way back to luxury again. 

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I tried applying for permission to commute to and from PJ today at the village police station. I was denied permission. Pahang, I was told, does not recognise CMCO. 

Maybe it'll be different tomorrow after Azmin made an open invitation to companies to sue the state governments for damages arising from the states' non-compliance with the new federal rules. Maybe Naza will contact its lawyers first. Followed by Genting. However, the states may find other ways to undermine the authority of the federal government.

(No actually, I think the lawyers have already whatsapped these clients asking if they should proceed with suing tomorrow. So much fees! Ahhh... )

I think the first thing I need to do is buy some latex gloves. The customer will be offered a pair when he comes in. (He can take it with him if he wishes, or dispose of it after we're done. )

I assume everybody has a face mask on by now, so I needn't offer that to the customer.

I will then have to source for a Mi Air Purifier. In its promo materials, it is supposed to be able to filter out 99% of particles larger than 0.3µm. This doesn't filter out the virus per se, but removes the airborne droplets that has been sucked in by it. Notice the specificity of the language. It doesn't filter out things that wasn't sucked into it.

Then, I need to buy ethanol. Fill it into spritzers and basically spray onto all kinds of surfaces like chairs and table surfaces and cloth books, the filter cartridge of the air filter, etc. Also for wiping door handles. I intend to use it neat, for faster evaporation, unless I discover a reason not to. 

I think most floor cleaning detergents contain bleach, but I'll add a little bleach to it just in case.

I'll have to swap out the current customer consultation table for a wider one, for more distance. 

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I wonder how Azmin Ali plans to win a seat as MP in the next GE. Nobody seems to have anything but derision for him. He has become an anti-brand. Is there any constituency in the country where he stands a chance to win?

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There are now voices from very articulate doctors in covid-19 ICUs that patients are not actually suffering from classic ARDs, and that the established method of treating them may cause more harm than good.

One of these WhatsApp chain letters I received suggests covid causes something more similar to disseminated intravascular coagulation, and that the first line of treatment is anti-inflammatories. 

Doctors have, as a matter of fact, found a lot of blood clots in covid patients. They find blood clots everywhere, not just in lungs. 

I wouldn't be surprised that doctors have gotten this all wrong. Most of them, like most humans, are quite clueless. People who can look at a situation and see it for what is actually is is pretty uncommon. 

I think many doctors still see diabetes as a disease of too much sugar, or sugar precursors (like carbohydrates). So funny. Maybe they think the earth is flat. 

And do I have to tell you most of the population thinks they are fat because they eat too much carbs, so they eat more meat and less carbs. ROTFL.

They even think EPF makes 6% returns a year. 

 

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Mixing bleach and ethanol produces chloroform. I think.

Use ethanol for quick-dry hand cleaning. Or just soap and water.

A weak bleach solution can be used for hard surfaces. 

The mortality of ventilator-assisted patients may be due to the grave condition said patients were in, rather than the ventilator treatment itself.

Respiratory function compromise due to a clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) requires different ventilatory settings than compromise due to the lung itself failing.

Some say the tendency for a covid19 patient to clot may be related to the extremely sedentary lifestyle the patient underwent due to MCO-like orders. 

 

I heard that the roads are clear from roadblocks.

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