Sunday, September 25, 2011

Much ado about nothing

Over the last week, I spent much time scouring the online rental ads to find a place near the nursing school as previously planned. After shifting through various phone and email responses from potential landlords/landladies, I finally had my 1st on-site visit today. From the visit, I am reminded of how out of the way Surrey is and how vexing (knowing me) it may be to rely on the Surrey public transport to get around.

After work today, I checked to find alternative routes to go to school from my current address. One promising alternative route takes around 1 hour, inclusive of wait time. Then I sat down to crunch the critical financial numbers -- my expected cash-flow status from now until end of 2012, assuming that I remain in my current address. It turns out that if things go as per current situation, I would have just enough cash-flow to cover the 1 year full-time studies. Thus I don't really have to worry whether the B.C. government or my bank would approve a loan or line-of-credit.
Note: A line of credit usually has a lower interest rate and better payment terms than a loan, thus it should be prioritized above a loan, unless it is a low-interest government loan with better terms. Here are the links to getting a Student Line of Credit from
TD Canada and
Vancity. The Vancity link includes additional information about getting educational funding.
Of course, I would still go ahead to apply for funding, in case of unforeseen circumstances.

The other point that kicked me into reconsidering my basic assumption about having to move near the nursing school came ironically from the person who would otherwise become my future housemate. As he drove me to the bus exchange with his landlord in the backseat, he discussed my transport options with me. Then he strongly suggested that I get a car. I told him honestly that I am afraid of driving despite having a valid driving license from my country of origin. He then cited the need to travel around for work as a nurse at various hospital locations and repeated his suggestion. I thought about the nursing course's clinical attachment requirement. Student nurses may be deployed to various locations regardless of their residential address. Thanks to my current residential address' proximity to the public rail, the major hospitals in Metro Vancouver are relatively more accessible from here than a similarly affordable rental location in Surrey. Plus, the public transport pass for travel in All-Zones costs only CAD 30 per month for a full-time student. In addition, I don't think I would want to constantly worry about the cost of gasoline while living on a student budget.

Of course, the crucial underlying factor to my reluctance to move is really my caring and easy-going landlord, my landlord's family and my other long-term rental housemates who are generally nice, including Mr Small Potato. I have to admit, I put down CAD 150 deposit on impulse to quickly get a rental location settled this morning. Thus, it seems like that would be money down the drain.


[Addendum on 26-Sep-2011]

I met with my banker this morning. She explained to me that the Student Line of Credit is usually only offered to students of highly paid professional jobs such as lawyers, doctors, and dentists. Instead we strategized a way to get me a Personal Line of Credit.
Here are the links to Personal Line of Credit from
TD Canada and
That's just what I needed. That's why I stick to this banker even though this bank's fees are not as competitive as the other major banks -- she provides good service.


[Addendum on 09-Oct-2011]

A Canadian friend of mine asked me why I did not return to Surrey to ask the potential landlord for my deposit back. The B.C. tenancy laws are such that it is illegal for a landlord to demand for a deposit and not refund it (with interest) at the end of tenancy if there was no damage to the property. A few reasons combined.
  1. In my rush to get to work after viewing the property, I forgot to ask for a receipt of the deposit placed. Thus, it was a cash transaction for which there was no record. Besides myself, the only witnesses are the potential landlord, landlady and housemate. I had expected to return to sign a rental contract another day. [This is not one of my finer moments of financial prudence.]
  2. Throughout the early morning viewing, my elderly potential landlord kept on repeating how they (the elderly couple) don't need the money, their adult offspring is a professional who has recently bought her own million dollar home, how rich and successful their relatives are, blah, blah, blah. Yet, they were not keen to "complete" the transaction until I gave them the deposit. [Compare that to my current landlord who had said before tenanting to me, "No need deposit (in advance). No need to sign contract (in advance). You just come, I will have the room ready for you." and he did just that.] I am a firm believer of "action speaks louder than words" -- i.e. despite their proclamations otherwise, that elderly couple wanted the money. My potential housemate even woke up his family that was visiting and staying at the to-be-shared apartment, just so that I could view the room.
  3. I am a petite East Asian female. The place I viewed was in a quiet, somewhat out-of-the-way location in Surrey. [That said, much of Surrey is rather out-of-the-way.] From the few houses that I mistakenly rang the doorbell, in search of the right address, it seems that the small cluster of houses that formed the neighbourhood was dominated by South Asians. The elderly couple did not offer to refund my deposit when I informed them that I would not proceed with the rental. I am aware that despite what the B.C. law says, some still live by the Asian tenancy norms that the deposit is forfeited when cancelling a reservation. Call it racism or cultural awareness, my gut sense is that if I return to demand my deposit back, chances are a disagreement would arise; and a lone, petite lady is unlikely to win her case in a neighbourhood of people known stereotyped to stand by their own ethnic group and cultural norms over the law. Why court trouble when one can avoid it?
  4. Lastly, will I starve because of the $150 loss? Nope. For sure, I may have to cut back on some optional items, but life goes on.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Facebook exchange: Right-wing Christians in Singapore

Had another of those interesting Facebook exchange where I accidentally scratched beyond the gentlemanly surface of an acquaintance to discover the unexpected.
[Note to self: Why do I keep getting surprised that I count amongst my acquaintances/friends both right-wing and left-wing religious and non-religious folks? I like diversity in my friends, but I have to consciously remind myself to be tolerant and accepting of that diversity, especially when a shocker turns up.]
Anyway, below is the exchange on my FB wall for the record. And perhaps for further thoughts in future.


WD: Sigh, another right-wing religious Christian in Singapore who does not separate her work-role in multi-cultural Singapore from her personal religious practice.

WD: I find it strange that in Singapore, the descriptive phrase "right-wing religious" is almost always followed by the word "Christian"; much like in USA where the word "terrorists" is almost always preceded by the word "Muslim". 2 sides of the same coin.

LKM [Singapore-based acquaintance whom I know personally and had volunteered together with previously]: Not sure what right-wing or left-wing means, but I do not see why Christianity has to be dragged into a decision to cancel an event last minute ? It's a person's individual decision on a matter, isn't it ?

WD: @ LKM : I believe it is within your ability to Google for the meaning of "left-wing" and "right-wing".
Christianity in Singapore is highlighted above for a few simple reasons.

1. It is mentioned in Mr Brown's post that the individual involved based her decision on her interpretation of her Christian faith. From her decision, one would conclude that she decided that her faith is above the fact that it is an event held for the public (including non-Christians) and it was done using public funds (not her church's funds). Mr Brown pointed out this individual's trespassing of personal religion into a public matter.

2. In recent years in Singapore, there is a growing voice of such Christians who lobby policies based on their faith -- policies that will be applied to non-Christians alike. E.g. 377A. E.g. Sex education in schools should not teach about gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transexuals. E.g. Abstinence to be the only method taught for preventing unwanted pregnancy in sex education in schools. In that sense, I respect the Muslims in Singapore more. At least the Syariah Court laws are applied only to Muslims, and they do not lobby for such laws to be applied to the non-Muslims.

3. I am pointing out the double-standard in Singapore media and social norms. When an individual or a group do or advocate something (that non-believers would not agree to) using Islam as a cover, they are often labeled in the press as "Muslim terrorists" or "Muslim extremists". When an individual or a group do or advocate something (that non-believers would not agree to) using Christianity as a cover, we have people like yourself (and sometimes even the press) brushing the matter off and claiming that it's "a person's individual (or a specific group's) decision on a matter" -- a matter that would affect those not of their religion. This double-standard is a form of discrimination. I say, either consistently associate both groups as extremists of their respective religions or drop the religious label from both groups.
WD: p.s. "people like yourself (and sometimes even the press) brushing the matter off". Some of these people who brush the matter of may be doing so because of their personal discomfort with their shared religion being used/abused by the individual/group as his/her/their "reason" for their decision.

LKM: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16 NKJV)

LKM: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Romans 1:16, 18-27 NKJV)

RW [another Singaporean acquaintance now based in Canada. RW probably does not know LKM personally.]: I think this is a sensitive topic. For some Christians they have to live their lives according to Christ regardless of the situation, which includes making tough decisions they think is for the better good. I think there are far more important things to correct in the world than this sort of issues.

WD: @ LKM : Your entire reply holds no meaning to me for I am not of your faith. Go preach elsewhere.
@ RW : Yes, it is true for some their lives have to be according to Christ regardless of the situation. In which case, they should refrain from putting themselves in public service positions in *secular* governments making decisions based on their personal faith and demanding that those not of their faith obey rules specific to their faith -- that is not respecting the multicultural and multi-religious reality of Singapore. They have failed epically to apply what they learnt from the Civics and Moral Education in school and they are disrespecting the Singapore pledge "regardless of race, language or religion". That is the crux of my point. There are more and more such Christians in Singapore.

@ RW : " there are far more important things to correct in the world than this sort of issues."

Not so if you're a non-Christian and having this "I am right because my God is right and you're wrong because you non-believers worship the Devil or are led by the Devil" rubbed in your face every now and then. Just look at LKM's reply to my point. Nothing based on humanity. Nothing logical. Nothing about justice. Nothing about equality. Zilch. Pure religious bigotry.
LKM [whose comment I subsequently deleted because it does not further understanding in the issues discussed]: That's why things are so simple, just trust God and obey, and leave everything else to God's sovereignty, it really is that simple.
[Note: Another of those, if you cannot win an argument logically, just quote god.]

WD: ‎@ LKM : Please do not preach here. Your god is yours and yours alone. Nothing to do with me. I have deleted your last comment and will not hesitate to delete further comments that is not constructive to deepen understanding of the issues discussed.

LKM on his own FB wall: A Psalm of David. The fool has said in his heart,“ There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1 NKJV)
[Note: I won't respond to LKM's FB wall post. I respect his freedom to his express his opinions on his tuft.]

WD: Religious bigotry is bigotry, regardless of which religion it comes from. Such people will cry foul and religious persecution if they experience the similar discrimination from others who are [Edit: non-believers or] believers of another religion.
In the case of right-wing Christians in Singapore, it is ironic that they do not recognize that they have broken their own biblical rules through their words and actions.
WD: Jesus of Nazareth: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matthew 7:12, see also Luke 6:31).
"That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn." — Talmud, Shabbat 31a
WD: Every day, I am thankful that I am here in Canada. Religious bigotry is unlikely to be tolerated here.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

11th month's expenses

My total expense for the 11th month (1st to 31th August) is around CAD2,138, broken down as follow.

Amount (CAD) : Category

Once-off expenses

*      67 : Portable hard-disk1
* 1,062 : Laptop with 2 year warranty, MS-Office, printer2

Yearly expenses


Monthly expenses

* 500 : Room rental
*  40 : Mobile phone bill
*  61 : Medical Services Plan
* 110 : Transport - Monthly 2-Zone Farecard
* NIL : Transport - Others
* 171 : Food/groceries3
*    5 : Clothings
*  39 : Household Items (including toiletries)4
*  22 : Recreation/Entertainment/Restaurant
*  26 : Meals/Drinks
* NIL : Personal Grooming & Make-up
*    6 : Stationery/Postage
*  29 : Others (Lottery, Souvenirs, etc)

Note 1: I have been taking so many photos of my life in Canada that my 6 years old laptop ran down to only 10GB of hard-disk space left. I decided to buy a portable hard-disk for data storage instead.

Note 2: As mentioned above, my current laptop is 6 years old. It cannot function properly for some websites, nor open some new MS-Office documents -- those with .docx extension. For simple needs, I would have continued with my current laptop. However, I wanted to sign-up for a Canadian online trading account and the versions of web-browsers supported cannot run on my current laptop. In addition, I will be starting school soon and I know from previous communications that the school administration uses .docx documents. I decided to buy a new laptop and scanner/printer with my friend's help to get a good deal from the "Back To School" promotions. [Addendum on 09-Oct-2011: In case readers wonder why my new laptop is so expensive, it is because it is an Apple, just like my old laptop.]

Note 3: The amount spent on food/groceries is less than usual because I eat more from my huge stockpile of food bought during the previous months of promotions.

Note 4: I bought some storage items to help re-organize my room.