Courteous Driving 12 March, 2012Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Vroom Vroom.
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I’ve always been an advocate of courtesy on the roads. That meant I won’t cut other people’s lanes unless it is safe to do so. That meant giving way to others, both drivers and pedestrians alike. That meant being patient on the roads.
That said, I utterly hate discourteous drivers. These drivers are largely self centred and thinks that they own the roads. Yuck!
From both my personal traveling experience and talking to my foreign friends, I have made 2 main observations. First, Singaporean drivers drive too fast. They always seem to be rushing from place to place. Second, Singaporean drivers have bad road manners and don’t often give way. Of course, I’m stereotyping here. There are also nice drivers in Singapore.
I believe in reciprocity. If people are nice to me, I’ll be nice to them. If I want people to be nice to me, I’ll be nice to them first. And this brings me to my number one pet peeve on the roads. Signaling.
I always signal. Once in a blue moon, I may forget, but 99.9% of the time, I will always signal, even when there are no cars around. I believe it is basic road courtesy to let other road users know in advance what I plan to do in the next few seconds.
Therefore, it follows that I will always give way to a driver, if he signals in advance that he needs to turn into my lane.
It also follows that I will not give way to a driver if he didn’t signal in advance. I take a hard stand on this. If I see a driver intending to change lane but did not signal his intention, I will not slow down nor give sufficient space for him to do so. If he does try to force his way into my way, I will not hesitate to high beam and sound my horn at him. These people really need to learn the proper way to interact with other road users.
I had an encounter several days ago. My car was stopped at a junction and I was turning right. After the right turn, I will be turning left, so I positioned myself on the left lane, leaving the right lane empty. The space behind me was empty too. I was the only car at this junction at this time. A red taxi came. He stopped to my right, on the right lane. The traffic light turned green and we both moved off.
In the midst of the right turning maneuver, the red taxi started making attempts to cut into my lane in front of me. He was only a quarter car length ahead of me at this time. I checked, no signals. I didn’t give way. He sped up but still didn’t have sufficient space to enter my lane. Still no signal. I refuse to give way. If he had intended to be in my lane, he should have just lined up behind me before the traffic light, and not try to force his way in this manner.
He sped up further and cut into the lane in front of me. I sounded my horn to indicate dangerous driving on his part. Immediately, he started playing brakes. Talk about bad manners. He did all these while there was a passenger in his car. I ignored him and put some distance between our cars. Apparently, he had wanted to turn left after the right too. Later on, when our cars passed each other, he promptly showed his middle finger. Bad driving manners, bad service provider as a taxi driver, and bad personal conduct.
We can really do with less of this type of drivers on the road.
Just a short note here about pedestrians. Some pedestrians really do think they own the roads. Disclaimer, I am not racist, but I do observe that Indian pedestrians tend to cross the roads without due care. As always, I will signal my intention to turn into a carpark, and I have the right of way. Any pedestrians that chose to ignore my signal and cross the road anyway will earn a loud horn from me.
These are just a few examples. If everyone will just do their part. Drivers observe good driving habits. Pedestrians not putting themselves in danger. Then I think the roads will be a much better and safer place for everyone. Not to mention the traffic will be smoother too.
A season parking lesson – Revisit 29 February, 2012Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Vroom Vroom.
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Today is 29 Feb, horray to the special day that occurs once every 4 years!
So, it’s the end of Feb. I recalled that I made a blunder in Feb last year by forgetting to cancel my season parking at my work place despite only being in office for 3.5 days for that month.
Well, this year I was aware of the potential problem and made sure it will not happen again.
My ICT, as usual, took place from end Jan to early Feb, 11 Feb to be exact. I will be extracting my wisdom tooth on 13 Feb, so hopefully my MC will cover me until 15 Feb. So that meant I should only apply for half month of season parking (i.e. 16-29 Feb) for this month. I know that some parking companies do not allow for pro-rated season parking applications. However, I also knew that the parking company at my work place does allow, because I had applied for half month parking when I started work here.
So, in late Dec, I started contacting the parking company to request for half month parking in Feb. First, I went to the parking booth at the basement carpark to enquire. The lady there told me I would need to contact the headquarters for such a request. And so I did.
I email the person in charge at the headquarters, let’s call her Miss A. Miss A informed me that pro-rated season parking was not allowed, even though I knew for a fact that it was allowed because I had done it before. Anyway, Miss A was willing to ask her manager, Mr G, about it.
About 2 weeks later, I received a reply from Mr G saying that pro-rated season parking was not allowed, and that I would have to pay for the full month.
Since they will not allow me to apply for half month parking in Feb, my last resort was to cancel my season parking entirely and reapply for one after I’m back from ICT. So, I visited my company secretary, Miss T, to request for a cancellation of season parking form.
It was there that I recite to Miss T my problem and my exchange with the parking company. Miss T promptly told me, “Half month parking? No problem, I’ll settle it for you.”
Within the hour, Miss T drafted an email to the parking company, addressed to… surprise surprise… Miss A.
5 days later, Miss A replied the email saying everything had been approved and I will be paying for half month season parking for the month of Feb.
Should I be happy about this exchange? Well, of course, because I save half month of parking charges. But at the same time, I have to say, WTF?!
Why the double standards? Why did Miss A not simply give me the green light in the first place? Why did Miss A’s manager Mr G expect me to cancel my season parking and reapply, to go through the motion of unnecessary admin? Why did Miss A response so swiftly and differently to Miss T? Why did it take 2 weeks to reject my initial request but only 5 days to approve of Miss T’s same request?
I am very disappointed with such service attitudes. This is a problem that plagues much of our service sector today, including the public service. People are not willing to move out of their comfort zone. When faced with unfamiliar situations, these people simply shut their doors and hide behind the protection of their company protocols and policies.
My simple advice to them, before resigning to “it cannot be done”, first ask yourself “Why not?”
A season parking lesson 14 March, 2011Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Dollars & Cents, Vroom Vroom.
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Most of us with cars will have 2 season parking commitments, one at home and one at work. And most of the time, the payment of the season parking is conveniently paid by GIRO so as to save the hassle of going to AXS machines or the parking vendor’s office to make payment every month. This is on the assumption that we will fully (or nearly fully) utilize the season parking each month. However, this is not a fail-proof assumption as we have learnt the hard way.
This incident happened for the month of February 2011 at my work place.
As usual, the payment of $90 for February’s season parking is deducted in late January via GIRO. I noticed it, but didn’t give it a second thought. It is a regular payment thing after all.
February came and I went to work as usual on the 1st.  <- I’m keeping count of the number of days I physically parked my car at the office.
Then followed by the 2nd which was a half day due to it being the eve of Chinese New Year. [1.5]
The 3rd to the 6th was the Chinese New Year long weekend. Yeah… [1.5] <- It’s starting…
Immediately after the public holidays, I attended my In Camp Training from the 7th to the 18th for a high key call up. [1.5] <- Half the month was already gone.
Now, hourly parking is charged at $1/hr. Assuming that I parked my car from 8.30am to 6.30pm daily, that’s $10 per day if I do not purchase season parking. Put it another way, 9 full days of hourly parking is equivalent to a full month of season parking. That is, if I’m going to park 9 days or less in a given month, I’ll actually be better off just going by hourly rates. See where this is going?
The 19th and 20th were weekends and so I went back to work on the 21st. [2.5]
On the 22nd, I went to work as usual. Here’s where it gets worse. I applied for my entitled exam leave for the 28th and 25th, and further applied annual leave for 24th and 23rd in order to have more time to prepare for my upcoming exam! [3.5] <- Noticed that February has only 28 days so I’m not going to step into office anymore for the rest of Feb!
On the 1st of March, I stepped back into office thinking to myself, “Wow! Time really flies, it’s March already. Now, how much work have I done in February? 1st, 2nd, CNY, ICT, exam…”
Then why am I paying $90 for season parking when I’m only in office for just that few days? A quick calculation revealed that I would have paid just 3.5x$10=$35 by hourly parking. I have in fact overpaid by $55! Ouch! <- I could have bought another board game with this money.
What a heavy price for pay for this oversight!
Nevertheless, I did learn my lessons from this incident. Do not take regular payments for granted. Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it. Take season parking for example, one should really look ahead in the calendar and take into account travel plans (be it business or leisure), public holidays, block leave (although you should never take block leave), ICT, etc, and decide whether or not season parking is worthwhile in that time period. Similarly for other regular bills such as broadband and mobile phones, does one’s consumption patterns warrant such high bandwidth high priced plans? Time to re-examine our lifestyle and trim the excess fats.
OPC Calculations 3 31 March, 2010Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Dollars & Cents, Vroom Vroom.
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We are now considering converting our OPC car to normal car. The purpose for this is to facilitate bringing Baby1 to her grandparents’ place during the daytime when Dear2′s maternity leave is over and needs to return to work. It would be rather inconvenient if we have to bring Baby1 out before 7am each day and only bring her home after 7pm each day. So now, we need to consider if it is worth forking out around $15000 in cash to convert our OPC to normal.
There are many factors that will affect our decision to convert or not. Some of the more intangible factors include the comfort and flexibility of driving, the availability of car seat in our car (versus taxi), and the need to transport baby equipment frequently. However, for today, I’ll just give an analysis on one of the more tangible factor – the value of the converted car. In other words, how much of the cash top up will depreciate and how much can be recovered eventually.
Let’s ask our buddy to help us out. ;)
Let be the COE of the car, be the OMV of the car, and be the PARF of the car. Let be the number of years passed before scrapping the car, and be the number of years passed before converting from OPC to normal plate. Hence, let denote the PARF of the car, which was converted after years, after years.
The amount of top up required to be paid to LTA can be express as . This will be apportioned to and in the same ratio that and was deducted initially. For example, assuming and , then the amount apportioned to will be and the amount apportioned to will be .
Now, we can formally define .
Next, let us define the value of a normal car (i.e. ).
We substitute in .
Here, note that is the residue value of the initial OPC rebate after years. Remember the assumption that , therefore is the amount of deducted as part of the initial OPC rebate.
Notice that , therefore . That is, the PARF of an OPC car that is converted to normal is always less than that of an identical car that is normal from the beginning. Additionally, the PARF of the converted car at any time will be further reduced by a factor of . That is, a factor of will permanently be lost from the PARF of the car, and this factor increases with .
To visualize this, I have plotted the PARF of an OPC converted to normal with respect to and .
Graph of PARF against at varying .
I’ve used our car as an example in this diagram. “Converted at 0 year” refers to a normal car from the start. “Converted at 10 year” refers to an OPC that did not convert to normal. Notice the gap between the normal car and the OPC which converted to normal. This is what I refer to as unrecoverable loss. The pro-rated cash top up amount paid to LTA to convert an OPC to a normal car does not restore the car to its original value. So for people who are considering the convert, do keep this unrecoverable loss in mind.
Where does this bring us? Well, from the percentage of loss point of view, it makes sense to convert as early as possible. But from the absolute amount of loss point of view, later is better. So, to convert or not to convert? There is really no straightforward answer. But now, at least, we know that we must be prepared to bear some immediate losses from the minute of the conversion.
OPC Calculations 2 11 December, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Dollars & Cents, Vroom Vroom.
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Oh, it’s equations day again. Haha…
In my last post, I mentioned that high COE is more ‘beneficial’ for OPC owners from the savings point of view. But of course, it is often more practical to discuss actual spendings instead as savings can be very misleading. So I’ll try to formulate some equations now to calculate what is the actual amount spent for low and high COE. Let’s use this very simplified equation to calculate amount spent .
Let be the COE of the car, be the OMV of the car, and be the price of the car without COE. Hence, we assume the actual selling price of the car to be . Also assume .
Let us further assume that we will scrap the car at the end of the 10 year COE period. Let be the downpayment paid and we assume that is a fixed value becos the buyer only has amount of available cash. Let be the interest rate, and be the loan period.
First, we consider the case that person bought an OPC at .
Next, we consider the case that person bought an OPC at .
Since both and are positive values, therefore . Hence, we arrive at the following result.
In other words, all else equal, the actual amount spent by person is lesser than that by person . In fact, the difference in amount spent takes the form of . That is, the interest incurred by person in borrowing the extra 17000 from the bank, and an additional 8500. This additional 8500 can be interpreted as person spending 17000 more than person on COE and recovering back 8500 more than person (due to person having higher OMV) at the end of 10 years.
It is interesting to note that this result is independent of the amount of downpayment, price of the car (without COE), and the OMV of the car. Also, the amount of extra money spent by person is determined by the interest rate and the period of loan. At best, even if we assume both persons may have sufficient cash for full downpayment such that , then , and person is still worse off by 8500.
There you have it. It is more practical to buy an OPC when COE is low becos the actual amount spent is lesser. :)
OPC Calculations 26 November, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Dollars & Cents, Internet & Blog, Vroom Vroom.
Ok, I’m in a mathematical mood today so I’m going to test out the functions in wordpress and present some of my calculations and observations on our Off Peak Car (OPC).
Let be the COE of the car, be the OMV of the car, and be the PARF of the car.
Let us consider the PARF of a normal plated car at each year within the lifespan of the COE of 10 years. For simplicity, we will consider integer number of years .
For an OPC, the 17000 rebate is deducted first from the COE, then from the OMV. Let us assume that and . Then, the COE will be completely deducted and the PARF of an OPC at each year is defined as follows.
Next, we substitute into .
This equation shows us that if then OPC owners receive 8500 less in PARF compared to normal car owners at the end of 10 years. That is, OPC owners received 17000 rebate when they bought the car but recovers 8500 lesser when they scrap the car, meaning the net rebate enjoyed is only (17000-8500=) 8500. If, however, then OPC owners will receive the same amount in PARF as normal car owners at the end of 10 years, and they enjoy the full 17000 rebate.
This means that OPC owners who got their COE at prices lower than 17000 do not enjoy the full 17000 rebate by virtue of the fact that they will receive a lesser amount when their car is scrapped. In the worse case scenario, the OPC owner will receive only 8500 in rebate if their COE is zero or near zero (i.e. $2 COE in Nov 08).
Of course, there are other factors to be considered such as the actual sale price of the car, the interest rate, amount of loan to take, length of loan, etc. This is only a very simplified calculation to find out the maximum and minimum rebates an OPC owner can get. Yes, in times of high COE, you get the maximum savings, but you might also end up paying more in absolute terms becos of the higher cost of the car and interest payable on loan amount. It’s like buying a brand-less backpack at full price of $20 or a designer brand backpack at 70% off the usual price of $1000. Sure, you saved $700 but you also just spent an extra (300-20=) $280 more than just getting the brand-less one.
Lastly, typing equations are fun! <-geek!
Counting 130 cars in queue 25 October, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Vroom Vroom.
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Yesterday (25 Oct 2009), Shell organised this promotion to launch/introduce their new line of petrol called FuelSave. The promotion is a 1 day only event, from 10am to 6pm at almost all Shell stations around Singapore (only some of those industrial area ones were left out). FuelSave 95 or 98 sold at $1 per litre. For comparisons, current petrol price was $1.767 and $1.90 for RON 95 and 98 respectively.
For us, we’re normally supporters of Caltex due to our OCBC Titanium card which gives us 12% off at Caltex. And I tend to think Caltex petrol with techron technology gives our car engine a ‘smoother’ feeling. But $1 per litre was just too good to ignore. And since our tank sits at around 40% full, we stand to make some good savings with this promo. Furthermore, I’ve never pumped anything other than RON92 before, so I thot it was a good chance to try out higher grade petrol for a change.
Oh, but we had a small constrain. Our OPC car can only leave the house at 3pm. Ok, so let’s hope that they still have petrol left in their station tanks by late afternoon. We’ll set off at around 3pm, wait in queue (there was no doubt that there will be a queue) for about 30 minutes, then set off to our destination for shopping and to attend a wedding event at night. Or so that’s what we thought.
We woke up at 3pm from our afternoon nap. :P We washed up and got ready to leave the house. We set off at 4pm and drove to our nearby Shell station at Bt Batok Road. Oh, there’s already a queue. That’s expected, no worries. We also saw numerous station helpers to direct traffic and organise the car queue. Nice.
We drove along Bt Batok Road to find the end of the queue. Hmm… no end in sight! We passed the first U-turn point and the queue didn’t end. Somewhere further down the road, we spotted the last car in line and so we made a U-turn at the next traffic junction. Wow! The queue was longer than expected, we probably needed to wait for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
We took up our position and inched forward. 15 minutes into our wait and Dear2 counted that we’ve moved about 10 car lengths. Why is it so slow? When is it going to be our turn? We might be trapped in this queue for longer than we expected. Is it even worth the wait? How much can we save from this? We still want to go shopping before the dinner event u know… Many questions raced across our minds.
We give up!
Turn on the right signal, change lane, get out of the queue, and we decided to do more meaningful things with our Saturday afternoon than to waste our time waiting. As we drove past down the line, Dear2 began counting the number of cars in the queue. I slowed down to a comfortable speed so that Dear2 can keep up with the counting. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10… 64, 66, 68… 98, 100, 102… 126, 128, 130! O_O
There was about 130 cars in queue, and about 10-14 cars within the station itself. OMG. If we had only moved 5 car lengths in 15 minutes, we would still be queuing when the sky turns dark. And taking into account that the promotion only lasted up 6pm, we were most likely going to miss the cutoff timing for the $1 per litre promotion anyway. Can you imagine waiting for 2 hours or more only to discover that promotion is over and having to pay normal price?!
Maybe this marketing event can be improved a bit. First, the long queues caused traffic jams, especially in the city areas. Second, turnover time is still quite long. Maybe they can try a redemption coupon kind of thing? Go to any Shell station, get a coupon, redeem anytime within the next 2 days. Sure, the current promotion stirred up quite a big hoohaa (and traffic jams), and they’re getting all the (bad?) attention/publicity. The redemption scheme probably won’t have the same impact.
We were glad that we decided to abandon this useless waste of weekend time. What can one do in a car for 2 hours anyway? And think about the petrol wasted while waiting in line.
We had a great time afterwards, window shopping and meeting up with old friends. And we’re going back to Caltex for our no-frills, zero waiting time, 12% discount.
A visit to F1 weekend 2009 6 October, 2009Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear1, Dear2, Travel & Discovery, Vroom Vroom.
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“It’s F1 weekend this weekend!”
-Dear2, 26 Sept 2009
Two Saturday walkabout tickets for Singapore GP 2009, courtesy of Dear1′s mum.
Dear1 and Dear2 got tickets to go on the Sat F1 event, complimentary of Dear1′s mum’s boss who gave the tickets as some form of staff reward. It’s walkabout Zone 4 tickets and that’s what we did on that day – walk about in Zone 4.
Dear1 parked the car at Central (beside Clarke Quay MRT) as we wanted to avoid congested road conditions at the circuit area. Funan might have been a slightly nearer location, but again, the North Bridge Road so near to City Hall MRT which happened to be the most commonly used train station might be jammed with vehicles too. So it was with much surprised that we saw the foot markings directly to the F1 gates, and they starts from the Clarke Quay area. Good job done!
Road signs to the gates can be seen from miles away.
From Central to Riverwalk to Asian Civilization Museum, there were plenty of people, events and stalls along the way. As first time goers, it was a pleasant walk to our destination, the Gate 5 as the excitement was already quite strong by the time we reached the Gate.
Asian Civilization Museum & Gate 5.
We entered the area at about 6.30, and it was people here people there, and many of them carrying huge cameras ready to capture the action. It’s just amazing to see that there are so many F1 fans around. At 7pm, the first and only practice round of the day started and it was the first time that Dear2 found ear plugs to be really effective. Even if you din bring any, think it’s still worth to buy the $2 survival kit which consists of the earplugs and poncho even though it was obviously going to be a sunny evening.
Photographers eager to catch some action at the practice session before the sun sets.
We walked in the direction of Esplanade and towards Marina Square for dinner.
As we walked about our designated zone, we noticed a number of food stalls selling delightful local food. A plate of chicken rice was selling for $8. A Curry’O from Old Chang Kee was selling for $2. A plastic cup of beer cost $10. The list went on. Visitors were only allowed to bring in 1 bottle of plain water for consumption, so there was no choice but to patronize these blood-sucking food stalls. Wrong!
There was a choice. Visitors were entitled to unlimited entries and exits from the F1 area. So, we made our way to Marina Square thru Gate 7 and had our dinner at MOF and KFC. (Side note: Food at MOF sucks. This was already our second visit, so we’re not giving it a third chance.) Food at MOF was so bad that we had to compensate for the bad taste with some snacks at KFC. Over at KFC, they ran out of large whipped potato and so the cashier substituted our large whipped potato with 4 small ones since a large whipped potato contains 4 scoops of potato.
Curious onlookers surrounded the F1 car exhibit at Marina Square foyer.
After dinner, we visited the F1 exhibition area at the main foyer at Marina Square. It was fun taking photos of the (mock?) F1 car on display and walking through the many F1 related merchandizes on sale there. Soon, it was time for the qualifying rounds and we re-entered the F1 area from Marina Square.
We decided that traffic will be congested as everyone try to leave for home after the qualifying. Hence, we decided that we will only stay for 2 rounds of qualifying to avoid the crowd while we make our way back towards Gate 5.
Along the way, there were many standing platforms where walkabout visitors like us can watch the race from. Most of these platforms were fully occupied with onlookers and photographers. However, most of these platforms were situated along straight roads and the F1 cars simply zoomed by with noise. There plainly wasn’t much to see. In addition, there were no TV screens nearby so we had no idea what was going on, who was leading or had there been any incidents/crashes. There was some seated galleries with those large TV screens but our lowly walkabout ticket wasn’t allowed to enter those areas (despite them being almost empty!).
Standing platforms along the Esplanade bridge for walkabout visitors like us.
The sound of revving engine and screeching tyres was louder than before with all the cars racing for the best lap times. We could sometimes feel the reverberation on our skins as the cars sped past. We had ear plugs but baby dun have. No worries, baby was well protected from the noisy environment under Dear2′s clothes and skin and muscles and tummy fat (gee…) and amniotic fluid. Sayang sayang.
At F4.9, 1/50, Iso400, the shutter speed was just too slow to get a clear shot of the F1 cars.
We did manage to find a few good spots around the corners where the F1 cars slowed down enough for us to catch a glimpse of their cars, sponsor logos and drivers. Corners really were the best places to watch a race. And these hot spots were usually bursting with photographers and their mono-pods.
Somehow, we found the F1 crowd on this Sat night rather restless. Nobody had any idea of what’s going on and it felt like a session of neck-turning exercises, turning from left to right with every zooming car. However, everyone still had a gleam in their eyes, an excitement, an eagerness, as if waiting for something to happen. That must be it! Everyone was waiting for an accident to happen. After all, losing control of a spinning car and crashing into the side walls had to be the highlight of any race. Suddenly, race watching seemed so sadistic.
Luckily, we did not have to squeeze with the crowd on public transport.
We exited from Gate 5 shortly before the start of the 3rd round and retraced our steps back towards Central. Clarke Quay did look different from day to night. The restaurants were filled with patrons. The flea market had made way for an outdoor cafe. A large projector screen was set up next to the Statue of Raffles for the live telecast of the F1 qualifiers. Race queen inspired waitresses busied themselves with drinks and credit cards.
Over at Central, things were much quieter as the night crowd changed from race fans to love birds. It was interesting to see the different side of Boat Quay on a weekend midnight. We went to the car park to collect our car, smiling happily that we didn’t have to squeeze on the MRT. Owning a car really did improve our lives. The car park fee was about $5.80, pretty decent for about 8 hours of stay.
There was no congestion that night. Maybe we had parked a little too far away from the F1 gates. We exited thru CTE and arrived home about 25 minutes later. The next day, we watched the F1 race at the comfort of our home, just like we did 1 week after our wedding 1 year ago. It was a fun experience to visit the F1 Singapore GP. Will we PAY to go again next year? Probably not.
-Dear1 & Dear2