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spikegifted.net - Archive Q1 2006

March 2006:
It has been a very busy time since the beginning of the year. My list of counterparties are growing and many of them are highly complex (in terms of the credits and their structures) and have high priorities. To add to my to-do list, I have my regular list of clients to review. A lot of the clients that I've recently been assigned are fairly 'high maintenance', meaning that they're not great credit, but they have substantial trading volume, which means they're constantly putting their credit limits under pressure. As credit officer for these counterparties is not easy as aside from carefully picking through their accounts to achieve a balance between their financial positions and our front offices' trading appetite, there is a continual need to adjust our trading limit to satisfy the clients' demand and our risk appetite. All in all it is hard work and very time consuming - in the last week of March, I managed to write around half a side of A4 worth of review on a client that the front office is desperate to start trading with - not ideal. 
For those who care, and those who bother to read these pages, a sincerely apology for the lack of updates and new contents to spikegifted.net during February and the first week of March. It has been a difficult and frustrating few weeks, not in terms anything personal or work-related. It was my main rig that give me the trouble. Back in December 2005, the PSU of my main rig gave up on me and instead of seeking a replacement from the retailer, I bought another power supply. The new PSU worked just fine, except for a rather annoying high pitch whining for one of the fans. Owing to the approaching Christmas and New Year holidays, I kept the unit and sought a replacement from the retailer after the New Year. After convincing the retailer that the unit was really faulty (they claimed the did not detect any whining noise when they tested it), I sent it away for replacement at the end of January. A replacement unit arrived in the beginning of February, but for some obscure reason, the rig refused to boot into Windows. It was doing fine in 'Safe Mode', but every time I allowed it to boot normally, it crashed mid-way through the Windows start-up process. Very frustrating!
January 2006:
This piece of news is amazing! The 2007 Tour de France will start in London. The prologue will be around the city center and the first stage will lead out from London towards Kent. This will significantly raise the profile of cycling in London and the UK, and it will be a excellent advertisement for London. As a cycling enthusiast and a keen follower of the greatest cycling race in the world, fantastic is probably the only word to describe this development. 
In the name of economic progress and growth, many chemical plants in China have been systematically polluting the country's rivers and coast line, and more than 100 chemical plants beside China's rivers pose safety threats (Chinese). According to the officials, the government acknowledged that in the past it had valued economic growth above environmental degradation, but that its priorities were now changing. However, is it changing quickly enough for all those who live along the country's great rivers? As the chemical spill into the Songhua in November last year demonstrated, the state and local authorities were too quick to hide their mistakes and tried to deny the safety precautions which will save the lives and health of the people. It is high time something concrete is done about this issue.
An investigation carried out by the Council of Europe claims that European governments were almost certainly aware of the CIA's secret prisoner flights via European airspace or airports. Not only are these activities illegal, they raise moral and ethical concerns regarding the human rights of suspects and their treatment by an alien intelligence service and the governments that have (willingly or unwillingly) cooperated or allowed such actions.
There have been several cases where internet companies have 'helped' regime(s) or companies by providing data that directly or indirectly led to censorship, arrest or detention. These 'cooperative' actions not only breach the privacy and human rights of the end-users, they also threaten the use of the internet. So a big "well done" to Google, the internet search engine, who resisted the request from the US Justice Department to hand-over details of searches carried out using its engine. While excuse for the request is to fight crime and terrorism, I'm just wondering what has happened to good old fashion detective work?
As a sign of how much Communist influence there is in HK and its news reporting, I see news on China
on the BBC News website after I came back from Hong Kong! Several reports from the website showed that there is evidence of internal pressure building up in China's power structure. There are two common themes linking all of these stories - corruption and abuse of power. First there is the local Communist Party leadership has good connections and is linked to the previous President Jiang Zemin, and despite several scandals of crime and corruption, the local chief continues to hold on to his post. Then came the official statistics which concluded that public disturbances and disputes are on the increase. While the Communist leaders clearly identify social unrest as the biggest threat to their rule, local officials are too greedy to march to the center's tune. Finally, there was the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao publicly claiming that the leadership recognizing that "farmers were paying the price for China's rapid urbanization". So is the greed of the rim going to win over the lust for power of the center? Is this the beginning of the end?
It was a rather a shock to come back from Hong Kong. Although the weather in HK was not great when I first got there, it generally warmed up towards the end of my trip. So it was a real shock to the system to have come back to a biting cold winter day in London. What really didn't help was that it was freezing cold on the flight back. To make matter worse, I couldn't sleep because some arrogant selfish morons who sat next to the windows refused to close the window flap to block out the day light, which was with us all the way back. I was not a well man when I got back home!
You won't believe how much I miss the Ruler_of_spike! For the week in HK, it was an emotionally difficult time for me. While it would be unfair to have dragged her all the way out to HK to be my emotional bunch-bag, I greatly missed her presence and counsel. I'm glad that I was able to talk to her every day during the trip. It is difficult to put into words how much I missed her. 
Of course I have a lot of relatives in HK and I would have loved to have hooked up with all of them. Tika and Seatiger, sorry that I didn't have a chance to hook up with you guys, but my trip was just too short. Next time I promise to look you guys up.
One advantage of being in Hong Kong this kind of time of the year is that I can be there to celebrate my mom's birthday with her. I'm happy that I was there and we had a good time under the circumstances.
Last November, I hastily arranged a trip to go to Hong Kong this month. The reason is to sort out some outstanding stuff for my mom. I say hastily is because it was not my intention to visit HK at this time. Also I was hoping that on my next trip to HK I won't be traveling on my own, but instead be accompanied by the Ruler_of_spike. Yet, owing to the urgency and the nature of the trip, it would not have been fun for the Ruler_of_spike to have come along. I'm very grateful to my cousin, 'MyMut', who put me up in his apartment, giving me the space I needed. Actually, my trip to HK wasn't as difficult as I have originally envisaged. My uncle managed to straighten out a lot things prior to my arrival and I'm indebted by the help he has provided for my mom and I.
After Yahoo! last year, Microsoft has now admitted to helping the Chinese Communist regime to suppress a journalist by censoring his blog. Yes, that's right, in the name of chasing 'market share' and 'commercial opportunities', Microsoft 'ensures that products and services comply with global and local law, norms and industry practices'. What MS has forgotten to inform through this release is that up-holding human rights against oppressive regime is not as important as pleasing the government of a potentially important market. Ethical Investors - you have been warned.
'Bird flu', the H5N1 virus, has spread to Turkey and I read that "the cases are the first human deaths from bird flu outside Asia"... It's not entirely clear what is meant by "outside Asia". Is it because Turkey is now pursuing membership of the EU that it is already being considered 'part of Europe' by the BBC? I haven't done geography for a long time and
may be my memory on the subject is a little fuzzy, but since when has Asia Minor cease being part of Asia and 'migrate' to Europe?
As soon as we finished work on the Friday before Christmas, we left for the airport and flied out to France for Christmas. It was great to get away from London! We haven't been away from the city since coming back from our summer vacation. However, we weren't away for long - we actually came back before the New Year - owing to me not having insufficient days left on my holiday allowance. I guess I can gain comfort from the fact that I shouldn't face a similar problem this year.
2005 ended in a bit of a rush... At work, I was working on a deal that was signed on the Friday before Christmas. Needless to say, I was busy up until right at the end. Luckily, the Ruler_of_spike was equally busy with her work, so she didn't have to wait around.
Happy New Year!!