Friday, December 29, 2006
I had originally intended this blog to document my life's amusing stories. Somewhere along the way, it became a story of hope, of a new life 8000 miles from the place I called "home". Where I could be who I wanted to be.
The story has soured. Hope became tragedy. The anecdotes had turned into raw bleeding word-wounds. I cannot write my story down anymore. It reminds me of the darkest hour I've ever had to face. I don't want to face it anymore. It is too painful.
Oh, the price of wisdom.
I have the opportunity for a new start. A new job, offered to me by an old friend. A new place to live sometime in 2007. A new life. All I want is peace, quiet and a life to call my own. I'm not sure if I am comfortable writing about my new life, so close to the shadow of my old one. Only time will tell.
If you see me in Singapore, wave and smile. You know who I am. I don't know who you are. Email me at khaycelim-at-gmail-dot-com if you prefer.
Have a happy 2007. I hope it is better than 2006.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
For 6 wonderful years. For showing me a different way. For loving me. For being my wife.
Now we have decided to part ways. We both want it now. I can't live alongside you. You can't live alongside me. I don't know what will happen to both of us, but whatever it is, we can no longer share this road we have walked together for 6 years.
I still love you. I will always love you. I cannot wait for you forever. And now that we are to be apart, I just hope you will remember me well, in spite of everything I've done.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The Family Poem
The entire place is decorated like a Qing Dynasty royal household, complete with lovely ladies dressed in cute Manchu costumes. The men were dressed in Qing soldier uniforms as well, but since they didn't interest me as much, I didn't take any photos of them. Everywhere we went, we were greeted with the traditional Manchu greeting "您吉祥" or "Good luck to you".
My Lovely Guide and I
Assembly of the Maids
The courtyard itself is lovely. Some historical artifacts have been lovingly restored, others replicated.
Bai Family Carriage
The Courtyard proper.
The interior of the main dining hall is equally impressive.
The food is nothing to write home about. It's mostly typical Northern Chinese faire. I much prefer Southern Chinese cuisine like the kind we get in Singapore. Nevertheless, it was pleasant and the ambience sure made the dinner interesting.
Did I mention the maids were extremely easy on the eye?
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I am heading to Beijing for a short trip. Things are getting a little emotional here in Singapore and the distance would do me good. Since there is no access to Blogger in China, I apologise for the state of my blog over the coming week. Will return with updates and hopefully some nice pictures.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
My degree scroll arrived in the mail today. I worked my ass off for it, even though I could have just coasted. I am supposed to be proud of it. Why am I not proud of it? Why am I not happy?
I spent dinner last night with someone very dear to me, and someone that I am secretly ashamed of meeting because I let her down terribly in her time of need. Yet, there she is, being with me in my time of need. I should be happy for her company. Why am I not happy?
We spoke last night of fond rememberings in AC Drama. They are some of my dearest memories, productions I literally gave my all to, pieces of work that have imparted a good portion of the polish I have today. Yet, the memories are bittersweet, marred by feelings of inadequacy, of never being good enough. This nostalgia supposed to be my best memories. These memories should make me happy. Why am I not happy?
For months I've been functioning, and suddenly, last night it all unravels. Why?
Friday, September 29, 2006
One of the things I love most about learning a new language is taking its sentences completely out of context.
I learnt the classical Greek word for seed today. It is "σπερμα". Anglicised, it is pronounced "sperma". Yes, the modern word is derived from the Greek word for seed.
Needless to say, it made today's lessons very interesting.
Found in today's Greek lessons:
"έλθε δευρο, ώ καταρατε, μη κατθευδε άλλα βοηθει. λαμβανε γαρ το σπερμα και όπισθεν βαδιχε."
"Come here, you cursed creature! Don't sleep but help! Get your seed and come behind me!"
"ό μεν όυν δουλος το σπερμα και όπισθεν βαδιχει, ό δε δεσποτης καλει την Δημητερα και λεγει "ίλαος ίσθι ώ Δημητερ, και πληθυνε το σπερμα."
"While the slave takes the seed and goes behind his master, the master calls out to Demeter and says, "Be Gracious, Demeter and multiply the seed!"
"έπειτα δε το κεντρον λαμβανει και κεντει τοθς βους και λεγει "σπευδετε, ώ βοες έλεκετε το αροτρον και αροτρεθετε τον αγρον"
"And then, the master takes his goad, goads the oxen and says, "Hurry, oxen! Drag the plough and plough the fields!"
Nothing is ever boring with a dirty mind.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Linda must have caught my "WTF" expression. She interjected, "I told him that the meaning of life was here" and pointed towards her heart. I tried not to look too long where the finger was pointed.
"Hey you. Yeah. Can you tell me where in Singapore I can find the meaning of life?" At this point, I figured out that he was drunk. His speech was slurred and his cheerfulness seemed chemically induced.
Another man was seated opposite him, and he said at this point, "Forgive him. He almost started a few fights in the bar." I made some reassuring noises.
Linda and I exchanged glances again. She looked amused. I must have too.
"You are in the wrong place if you're looking for the meaning of life. Ask me for something else. Want to know a decent bar?" I leaned back. A coherent response might take some time.
It was the other man who responded. I took the time to examine him. Caucasian, slight build, intense look, and spoke English with an accent I couldn't place. "We just came from a bar. Didn't like it. Too..."
Linda poked her nose and lifted it, "Too proud? Too uppity?" I stifled a laugh. "We were just talking about that. I was just asking her for a place where I could get a drink, without loud music and just chill out. Doesn't exist."
The other man sighed. I took the opportunity to lean in to ask Linda if she was offended. No, she didn't mind, and was having fun.
With that, we proceeded along our new playground - the minds of our unsuspecting neighbours.
We found out in time that our friend had 22 beers and was in Singapore by way of San Jose. Our other friend was from Singapore, by way of Ireland. Both had worked in Singapore for years. We talked through the night about absolutely nothing, and everything. Our newfound friends bought us a round of coffee. We talked some more.
Our San Jose friend tried to convince us Singapore was a peaceful wonderful place. Linda and I, veteran Singaporeans, defended our non-existant freedoms. Our friend cited fighting in Cambodia and Vietnam. I cried plurality in US and UK. Linda, who had never lived outside Singapore, had my full support. It was great.
At the end of it all, Irish guy asked for Linda's number. I had a suspicion that was what they were after for a while, if not necessary from the start. Linda playfully deposited only her email, much to Irish guys disappointment. We stalked off with big grins on our faces.
I maintain that Linda needs her own warning label.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
It's been almost a month since I've returned. I'm in pretty good shape. I'm meeting up with friends, old and new. During quiet days, I read, or play silly computer games, or observe a little quiet time.
My memories of the Bay are becoming increasingly hazy. Occassionally, unexpected corners jolt those memories awake. My hand still hurts when I write. Small amounts of text will send jolts of pain through my arm and shoulder. I know I must have done something to my hand writing for three days consecutively. I'm not sure when my hand will recover.
Come to think of it, my hand is a pretty apt allegory to my situation. When I'm awake, the situation bothers me little. I know I have done everything conceivable, and for that I will not regret what has gone on. Yet, late at night, I occassionally wake up to some bizzare thought or vivid nightmare.
I am alive. That is more than I can ask for.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Monday, August 14, 2006
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you
Now you got someone to blame
When it's one need
In the night
It's one love
We get to share it
It leaves you baby
If you dont care for it"
So ends this chapter of my life.
Somewhere through the mess of recent events, I hear a small voice. It is a familiar voice, one I had not heard in years. It is a voice of breathtaking clarity and aching beauty.
That voice is me.
It is happiness only found by following your heart, whatever the consequences. It is hope that drives away despair. It speaks with every tear shed, every moment you never get back. It reminds you that pain, like love, is necessary to grow. The voice is so clear. I travelled 8000 miles to find it. It was always with me.
I hear you now.
"Did I disappoint you?
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it's too late
To drag the past out
Into the light
But we're not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other
Unconditional love is impossible because we are not perfect. All we can do is to love, in what way we can. Sometimes it hurts. I understand now that love is not about consequences, a happy ending or a life together forever.
Love is it own reward.
I have no regrets loving my wife in the way I did. I want so much to blame her condition, hate her for making me cry and for cutting me out of her life. I cannot. You never really stop loving someone. You just learn to live without them, and that's okay. I will love until it hurts, because there will always be more, until you decide there is no more.
I will love again.
"Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come tor raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head
Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got
But we're not the same
We hurt each other
Then we'll do it again"
I have no regrets coming here. I've grown in ways I did not expect, in directions I never thought I'd take. I am grateful for this unexpected detour in this vast journey of life. The pieces of my life finally fit together. With it, I can finally move on.
I go where my feet take me.
In three months, I get my California Bar Exam results. Whatever happens from there, happens from there. I may end up anywhere. I don't know and that's okay.I will always have memories of the one amazing year I spent at the Bay.
My voice is yours.
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt"
Who among us has never suffered heartache, disappointment or failure? Somehow, we live. The pain dares us to be better than what we are. The voice tells us we still hope, dream and love. The tears remind us we have been hurt, and it's okay to grieve.
My life is yours.
In our pain and tears, we are connected. In our hopes and dreams we are connected. Our lives speak of many events, some hurtful, some wonderful, but it speaks in only one voice. I hear that voice now.
It is me. It is us.
You got to do what you should
With each other
But we're not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other."
- U2, "One"
Sunday, August 13, 2006
The last week has been a slow, drawn out process of watching the apartment disintegrate. The apartment is now one tv, two desks and a computer - almost like the first horrid week I spent here, only in reverse. Sometimes, I see the empty space and I break down and cry.
I worked so hard to put all this together. This is much much harder than I thought. The only thing keeping me going now is that I'm coming home in 3 days. I'm counting them down.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
A year ago, my life-changing journey began. Today, I write about how it ended.
I write this for whatever wisdom my readers can take from it.
My wife was bulimic and anorexic. I never knew this. Not until 3 weeks ago.
She has not exhibited the symptoms over the 6 years I have been with her. She has her methods of keeping these symptoms under control. What I didn't realise until 3 weeks ago was that bulimia and anorexia are themselves symptoms of a deeper condition.
I have no name for this deeper condition. I only know how it works. It feeds of healthy self-respect people should have of their bodies, excreting guilt and shame. It whispers dark seductive thoughts of how you can be the image of what you are bombarded with, and the teeny little sacrifices you have to make, but they are worth it, right? It is the dark monster formed of objectification and false images.
I know this condition well. More importantly, I know how ill-suited I am to tend to this condition. My ex was also anorexic and bulimic. She did terrible things to get my attention. Once, she tore her wrist open with a fork. "It's the only control I have", she told me.
I set myself up against this unquenchable thirst and failed the first time round. I lost my ex-girlfriend's attention, and she moved on to another man in very short order. I grew bitter.
When my wife asked about my ex, I told her all the horror stories, never knowing that my wife had gone through something similar. She was scared by my stories, and how bitter I had grown. She felt she couldn't tell me. She tried for 6 years to work herself through this and she failed. I don't blame her. I saw the same symptoms but I didn't understand them. Without understanding them, I was doomed to repeat the mistakes of my past.
And so it was. During the 6 years, I hurt her badly, and I never knew.
I dearly want to work through this with her. I love her deeply. I still do. Being the cause of her pain, however, I cannot. She cannot help but see me as a source of pain. She cannot heal with me beside her.
Alone, she might stand a chance.
Hence, I wait. At a determined point in the future, we will sit down again and decide whether we can heal. If it ends, it ends arbitrarily. We will have our closure.
Thus ends my journey. I return to Singapore for three months. Even if I get back together with my wife after three months, it will be to face the future together. If I face the future without my wife, then at least, I face it with a clean slate and hard-won wisdom. I am content.
This is only one of many reasons behind the seperation. I choose to write about this one because it is the most poignant. If I cannot avoid my past, I can at least prevent someone else's future. More importantly, this is my attempt to make people understand: The monster claims no single victim, because it hurts us too.
I refuse to be a victim. Today, I take the fight to the monster.
Friday, July 28, 2006
I actually feel kind of lost at the moment. All I have is this vague inkling that I need to pack and come home.
Update: To perpetuate a tradition...
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Funny how much this verse reminds me of home. I was first introduced to this from a dear old friend from AC Drama. We ended up in law school together and yet, now we take such seperate paths.
Time is truly circular, and this is the proof.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
My taking of this exam has been an unmitigated disaster. I have, in the process of preparing for my bar exam:
(1) my laptop crash so badly I can't use it for my California Bar Exam
(2) have to leave a job, because of the stress of everything that was happening
and last but not least
(3) Go through a week of cursing, swearing, crying, angsting and finally, accepting that my wife and I have marital differences, bad enough that she wants to leave the marriage.
I'm done - everything I know, I know. Everything I don't, I can only read lightly to stop myself from imploding from the sheer weight of material.
I've been reading that the California Bar is a psychological test of endurance. Somehow, it looks absolutely pale in comparison to what I've already been through.
I don't know if this will be enough to pass, but I know that whatever happens, it will be in God's hands.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
My marriage that is.
My wife and I have been discussing this back and forth for the better part of a month. I can't make her stay. I can't persuade her to stay.
Therefore, I can't stay.
I've made the arrangements as best as I can, and there's nothing more I can do.
I've given it my best shot, and it's not enough.
Update: I've made arrangements to fly back on August 15th.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I'm still angry at him. I understand, however, that it's not his fault. Regardless, fault has very little to do with this - he understands what his responsibilty is - to pay me back. I am very encouraged to hear that he has taken 2 jobs to help out with the repayment. He is at least making an effort, which is all I really wanted to see.
I forgot, somewhere in my mad rush to stay in California is how important my friends are to me. Sure, they can be demanding at times. So can I. My friends have my back, I have theirs. Sometimes, its really just that simple.
Things haven't been going well since my bar exams started. I've been behind at lot of times for my bar exam review. I've had some significant problems on the home front. My laptop has crashed and I'm facing the prospect of having to handwrite my exam. I've basically screwed up on my part time gig because of having to deal with too many things at once.
I've fought back. I'm speaking with my boss to see if I can extend my probation period to a month AFTER I clear my bar exams, and he sounds agreeable to that. I'm practising handwriting my exams. It slows me down. It also forces me to stop writing fluff and concentrate on what's really important.
There is nothing I can do about my problems on the home front. Ultimately, though, my problems on my home front are not my problems.
I've forgotten what it was like to have my balls to the wall. Now I remember. The world may beat me up, but it will never keep me down. This time I -know- it's me. Every part of me. Especially the relationships that keep me strong.
Besides, nothing annoys God more than a moving target.
Monday, July 10, 2006
I finally had some time for personal upkeep yesterday. As I was winding down towards the last two weeks of my bar exam preparation, I decided to shave off all the remaining stubble on my head for good.
I must admit I was influenced in part by this. I've always been a sucker for children's charities. I can't join them, and I'm down on my luck, so the least I can do is show some support in spirit.
I've never really been happy with my hair. Fully grown, it is a curly monstrosity that just refuses to be tamed. My scalp stubble feels like velcro. My t-shirt gets caught by it as I am putting it on. My hair is -that- thick. Yet, there are children who would kill for any hair, even mine.
I hope people sign up for this. If nothing else, it reminds us how much hair means, and how little hair -really- means.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Hui Neng, the 6th Master of Shaolin, once overheard two men arguing about a flag fluttering in the wind.
"The flag is obviously moving!" cried the first man.
"Don't be stupid! It's obviously the wind that is moving" cried the second.
"The flag is moving!"
"No! The wind!"
The argument went back and forth, until they almost came to blows. At this point Hui Neng interrupted.
"Neither the flag nor the wind is moving. It is only your hearts that are moving."
Enlightened, the two men joined Hui Neng for his daily meditations.
What is Buddha?
Three Bushels of Rice.
The California Bar Exam has not moved, but I have.
The California Bar Exam is not a pleasant experience by any measure. It tests your knowledge on 14 subjects - all of which are boring as hell. You have two months to prepare. You have 6 essay questions, 2 performance tests and 200 multiple choice questions to complete within a 3 day testing period, of 6 hours of exam time a day.
I am not, however, writing this entry to express my mental and physical exhaustion, which is admittedly considerable. I'm writing about the scope of the exam because it will give you some idea of how emotionally draining the experience is.
Especially when you are unsure if you wanted to be a lawyer in the first place.
The California Bar Exam therefore tests one more aspect of me - how badly I want to be a lawyer in California. In light of that, everything other bar-exam related stress seems to pale in comparison.
I've written about why I am here and why I am doing this. It isn't enough, I've discovered. Yet, has anything really changed from then till now? No. But I was almost resentful enough to call it quits, pack up and go home.
Until I was made to realise that what I thought I was doing out of love, I was ultimately doing out of cowardice - it is always easier to make yourself think you don't have a choice, and that you are the one making the hard choices, taking the pain, being the victim.
That no one was making me a victim but me.
I can blame Singapore for my twisted upbringing. I can blame my wife and my stupid sense of duty for my circumstances. I can whine, complain, shake my fists at the world, wonder what the fuck went wrong and stomp my feet.
Or I can realise that I am human, and thus have free will, despite false choices and imperfect knowledge, and being burdened with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. That I can hate my choices, or I can take control and transfix myself onto the World Tree and sacrifice of an eye for a drink in the Well of Wisdom.
A sacrifice of myself, for myself.
I write in symbols because symbols have power. I show improvement on my mock tests, but I note with some detachment that this particular symbol has ceased to exert power.
Has anything changed? Nothing - except my heart.
What is Guilt?
Three Points on the MBE.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
World Cup Fever has begun.
To my suprise, ESPN has actually got decent coverage of the World Cup. I was fully expecting partial coverage at best, but ESPN has telecast ALL the matches live, so far. My pet theory is that they are dutifully broadcasting the World Cup only because the US team is still in.
Why am I writing about this?
People close to me know I've been a soccer moron most of my life. Prior to 2002, EPL meant the Eastern Plaguelands and the European Cup sounded like a modification undergarment manufacturers from China are obliged to make. I will , however, watch the World Cup, and follow it with mild interest.
Mild interest is NOT how my wife follows the World Cup. The games are telecast at 6 am local time. She will wake early, and watch all three telecast matches. Daily. Meanwhile, I will either (i) wake up at 8 am to haul my sorry ass to BarBri courses or (ii) haul my sorry ass in time to half-watch, half-read my BarBri materials in the morning.
Unlike many female soccer fans, she's not watching just for cute football players. She's a Brazil/Argentina supporter. She jokes, and I agree, that the Brazil/Argentina players aren't, by any definition, "good-looking". Having seen them myself, I agree. Ronaldino and Ronaldo are particularly goofy-looking.
Needless to say, everything my wife talks about now is soccer. She's stopped surfing for ice-dancing videos. That's good. Instead, now she surfs for video clips of Ronaldino scoring.
You just can't win.
So which team do I support?
(You can screw your eyeballs back into your head now.)
I can hear the cries of "Why Korea?!" in the background. I will explain. In 2002, while I was still working in my law firm in Singapore, there was an office pool going. I picked Korea - not because I thought they would win, but because it would make the matches I watched a bit more interesting. Plus - Korea was going at $2. The favourites to win, Brazil was going at $60. Italy was going at $50. I watched every Korea match after that.
The rest, as they say, is history. The day after Korea beat Italy in the quarter-finals, I received a personal visit from several irate Italy fans.
My only remark to them - "Best $2 I've ever spent!"
Seriously though, there's something about the Korean World Cup team that I really love watching. I know they aren't the best team out there, nor are they the favourites. Perhaps that's why I like them so much. They aren't the best team out there. I know plenty of Italy, France, Brazil, Argentina and England supporters in Singapore. Quite a few support their teams because they genuinely love those teams, but there are many Singaporean soccer fans who support a team only because they think that team is going to win.
Korea isn't going to win the World Cup. Heck, even the Korean players KNOW they are underdogs. That's not the point. I watch them because I respect them deeply. They refuse to give up. I've seen numerous examples of this in the 2002 World Cup. From Luis Figo's controversial "offer" to Korea to ask them to step down the pressure, to Ahn Jung Hwan's 117th minute goal against Italy, outjumping legendary Italian defender Paolo Maldini no less. They fought every step of the way, even when no one thought they should be able to win.
I don't know that much about soccer. I can't recognize the stars, I can't tell what the tactics are. I can't play the game to save my life. However, there is one thing that I can recognize that transcends sports, business and life. Heart. Cojones. Fighting Spirit. The ability to take a career-ending hit, bounce back and yell back "Is that all ya f**king got?!"
I support Korea. Somebody has to.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Your DM offers your Level 4 Fighter the choice of a +1 Flaming Longsword and a +2 Longsword. Your choice depends on:
(a) Your to-hit roll
(b) Your Strength
(c) Your AC
(d) The spread between your to-hit and your enemies' AC
You must talk to the following person to obtain the Drakefire Amulet:
(d) General Drakksaith
Assume you watched Star Wars Episodes 1, 2 and 3 and read PvP. Select the most accurate choice. "_______ is my master now."
(a) Darth Vader
(b) The Emperor
(c) Joss Whedon
(d) Han Solo
Essay Question 1
Explain, with special reference to the weapon size damage charts on Version 3.5 DMG page 25, your optimal level 20 monk build. Explain your choices of race, class and equipment. Assume that you are only allowed material from WotC source material only and you can only use material from ONE setting, (i.e Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, or Eberron).
Back to studying.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Instead of a coherent narrative, I can only provide non-sequiter mental impressions. Any attempt at coherency feels like a giant game of connect-the-dots without knowing the sequence by which to draw in the lines.
Bear with me, please.
I've graduated from my LLM a week ago. I did not attend my graduation. I told my professors it was because I planned to go on a trip out of California at the time. I did no such thing. In truth, I was ashamed to admit that I did not want to spend the US$50+ to rent a gown. It felt like a frivolous expense at this stage where I feel the need to make every penny count.
I regret it of course. That may have been the last opportunity I had to see some friends in the LLM program. One will return to China in short order. Another will be heading to New York to take the bar exam there, then head back to Japan. I have no doubts that another will be buried in work, and another is preparing to deliver her first child. And then, there is me.
And thus, this phase of my life ends without ceremony, because I refuse to pay for ceremony.
I guess my feelings of isolation were exacerbated because I had also recently started my bar review course in Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley. Logistically, this represented an extra hour of sleep and not having to fight with the I-880 morning gridlock. Emotionally, I feel like I'm stepping into Berkeley again for the first time - there's almost no one I know at the Bar Review. This, and the fact that I'm getting my a$$ kicked in my practice questions, does not make me a happy camper.
If I had to sum up what the LLM program taught me in a word, it would be "respect". In many ways I've always appreciated that Singapore's legal universe is smaller than many Singapore lawyers would like it to be. However, it's a whole different deal to be confronted by the sheer puniness of Singapore's jurisprudence. 50 states plus a federal government plus a country that actively engaged in shaping (not copying) international law generates a lot of legal thinking.
More so than black letter law, the differences in how people of a certain country approach legal thinking is fantastic of itself. I'm not sure how to describe it, except that in Santa Clara University, I was afforded more freedom to explore than I've ever been afforded. I cannot say it is purely a product of postgraduate education - I've had contact with postgrads in NUS Law that were not nearly afforded the same level of exploratory freedom.
Living in a foreign country reinforces the fact that you are the foreigner, that you are the one who speaks with an exotic accent, eats foreign foods, and imports foreign ideas. I bring this up because of this incident.
I have two things to say about this.
Firstly, regardless of how uncouth the behaviour of natives are, complaining about them on a public forum belies one important fact - you are the guest, not them. You are here by their leave. They are not here by yours. This remains a fact even if the natives behave uncouthly in your own country, because their behaviour in your home country is not the point.
Secondly, I ask Singaporeans anxious to make a distinction between themselves and China nationals - Do you have more in common with a national from China, or an Indian, Malay or Caucasian living in Singapore? Do you have more in common with a university graduate from China than a Chinese-educated manual labourer who grew up in Singapore? I ask these questions to illustrate a simple fact - as Singaporeans, we may have less in common between ourselves than we think. If so, then on what basis do we have to infer generally superior social graces, culture, education, or social standing?
It feels good, however, not to have to travel an hour a day to school on a long dreary highway with nothing to see but sound walls and other cars. Berkeley is a beautiful place to live. Thanks to my schedule last year, I've been unable to take advantage of that. I've resolved to discover more about Berkeley this year.
My job situation is holding up okay. If nothing else I will have something to tide me through my 1-year employment authorization. I'm still looking for an employer willing to sponsor my H1-B, but I recognize that it's not an easy deal.
The dealbreaker, of course, is the Labour Certification. I've spoken about this a while back. Essentially, the Labour Department must make a determination of what your wage is. This determination tends to err on the high side. My problem is this - I'm too "exotic" for most law firms, as I do not carry the traditional JD degree. They are the firms that are most likely to be -able- to sponsor me, but they are not willing to give me the time of day in the first place. The smaller law firms who -want- to sponsor me tend not to be able to sponsor me, because the wage determination tends to be a lot higher than what they are willing to pay.
I'm still working on it. I figure that if I knock on enough doors, someone will eventually take notice.
A lot of my recreation time over the last year has been on World of Warcraft. I play it because there doesn't seem to be anything better out there. I may switch to another MMORPG once I make enough to afford another MMORPG - or not.
I've just joined a raiding guild - which means spending inordinate amounts of time in a large dungeon, hoping for ultra-valueable items to drop. I'm not sure this is exactly what I -want- from my gaming time, because it's starting to feel a lot like work.
So, even my online life is at a crossroads. The irony does not escape me.
One thing that I've noticed over the past year is that I've provided far less Singapore-related commentary than I used to. At risk of sounding lame, it's because I'm not there anymore. At best, what I can read about Singapore is second hand from blogs (and since I don't trust MSM coverage, blog news is about all I get). Speedy and timely commentary seems impossible when someone else has already written what you want to write.
There is also the emotional distance from Singapore. Things that would set me off while I was in Singapore are now mere irritants. I notice the growing gulf between what happens in Singapore and how it affects me. The sad thing is, I'm not sure if I care about this gulf. I know it won't grow to a point where I will not feel anything, so long as my family and friends are still there.
Nevertheless, the shadow of Singapore still affects how I define my problems. I still plan in terms of material growth, career, children and what not. That I've got to execute my plan here and not in Singapore is by-the-by. There's still no divine revelation, no inspiration, no grand narrative that has made itself apparent to me, save one - the nagging doubt that perhaps, for me, the journey -is- the narrative.
So much for the Singapore Dream.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Like LawyerWriter, I've pretty much been a hard-core geek almost all my life. I wonder where girls like LawyerWriter have been all my life. They certainly didn't appear in my teenage years. It would have made my gawky teenage years much easier.
In the spirit of my discovery that girls like LawyerWriter actually existed, I set out my own geek credentials.
My Top 7 Geek Credentials
1. I not only own some of the old Dungeons and Dragons game books, I owned books from every edition ever published except the very first edition published in 1977, where you were able to play a young balrog. I know the current version 3.5 is a misnomer - there were boxed sets published way before the version 1.0 was published.
What's my favourite class? Depends. I often joke to my gaming buddies that I play whatever gives me the most plusses.
That's just for Dungeons and Dragons. I have more game books from other genres than I care to admit. Chances are, if it was ever published, I'd probably have played it at one point in time or other.
2. I wasn't addicted to a computer game. I was addicted to entire gaming platforms. My first gaming platform was the Commodore C64. Then a Nintendo, Nintendo 16 bit, Sega Genesis, Neo-Geo, PS 2, XBox and PC games. I've beaten someone on Street Fighter 2 one-handed and looking away from the screen. I've beaten every Rockman released except a recent 3D spin-off.
I'm already seriously addicted to World of Warcraft, but my long-time readers already knew that.
3. I've watched more anime than I care to admit. Apart from old standbies like Robotech, Captain Harlock and Voltron, I've watched Crying Freeman, Fist of the North Star and Legend of the Overfiend at the tender age of 14, not to mention the "core" watchings like Akira and Ghost In The Shell.
4. I wasn't just picked last for games - I well and truly suck at them despite my best efforts. I still can't catch keys thrown at me.
5. Steady bullying during my youth - check. At least 2 different stages of life - check. "Popular" bullies - double check. With life experiences like that, you stop taking things like social acceptance seriously.
6. I had, and still have, an unhealthy interest for theoratical science. I look forward to the day I can control my computer through an implant (for plebians, the first bit of culture that referenced this was NOT "The Matrix"), taking Soma, meeting a Selenite, or leaving the Silent Planet, or discovering Great Mambo Chickens, or building a Dyson Sphere (or Ringworld).
7. Three words. Han. Shot. First!!!!
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Since I have a number of US-based readers, I will attempt to summarize the Singapore political system here.
Since Singapore's independence some 40+ years ago, Singapore has been dominated in one party - the (P)eople's (A)ction (P)arty. In US terms, this would be the equivalent of having a super-majority in both the House and the Senate. When I say super-majority, I mean having enough legislative seats to amend the Singapore Consitution at will. Also, since the Executive Branch is essentially nominated from the legislative (different from the US, I know), the head of the Executive Branch, the Prime Minister, is also a member of the PAP. So are all the ministers (about equivalent to the various Secretaries and the Vice Presidents).
There is a lot more I can say about the incumbent, but I won't. Do a little research on "Lee Kwan Yew", "Lee Hsien Loong", "Lee Hsien Yang" and "Ho Ching". The connections should be fairly obvious.
What I will instead focus on is the role of opposition parties in Singapore.
Given the overwhelming strength of the PAP, Opposition parties have very little legal power in Singapore. Indeed, many mothers (including my own) worry about their sons and daughters running for Opposition Parties - which tends to turn into a career death sentence in many ways.
However, what they increasingly have is symbolic power. They are the Little Engines That Could. The Parties that Just Won't Quit. They represent the underdogs forgotten by an over-sanitised system that has no place for old men, unemployed graduates, and retrenched middle-managers. There is a significant and growing minority of voters that have had it with the Singapore System, and want alternatives.
There are a few indications that I have seen these elections that lead me to believe that there is a growing dissatisfaction with the incumbent's methods of government.
(1) This is the first set of elections that our current Prime Minister has had to undergo. The PAP under his leadership captured 66% of the nation's votes. This is 6% higher than the absolute -worst- performance of his predecessor (which I note, wasn't during his inaugural election).
(2) The Prime Minister of Singapore, faced against 6 aged 30-something complete political unknowns, fared a little worse than the national average of 66.6% votes cast FOR the PAP.
(3) In spite of thinly veiled threats against long-time opposition consituencies, these constituencies still voted opposition. In some other consituencies, the loss against the incumbent was very close.
I suspect that the PAP has two possible strategies ahead. It can either (i) crack down more on opposition politicians or (ii) find a method of coopting or engaging the disenfranchised, which I note, are either the youngest segment of voters, or the oldest. The former risks turning these politicians into political martyrs, the latter undermines their own symbolic strength by implicitly admitting "weakness".
Either way, the Opposition can only grow in strength.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
(1) I've finished my thesis. It's 10 pages longer and 2 topics shorter than what I had intended to write, but it's over, it's done and I'm not looking at it again. I'm fairly sure my supervisor will take it as is.
(2) I'm finally done with my internship. I know I'll miss heading down to the cubicle every other day, but I've got some time for myself at least, except...
(3) My first exam is in a week's time. I've got some serious cramming to do in the upcoming week. That's not gonna stop me from taking breathers though.
(4) For those of you who have been sending me prayers/well-wishes about my financial situation, thank you. Things are looking slightly up. I've got a few prospects for part-time work during the summer, so I won't be forced to loiter on the streets or starve to death, except...
(5) I start bar review courses 4 days after my last exam. These review courses take up every weekday morning for the rest of May-early July, and I'll need to work in the afternoons to pay my rent as well. In short, I'm gonna be working my ass off during summer.
(6) For those of you who have been worried on my behalf about my visa situation, I'm glad to report a few more new prospects. It's way too early to tell if any of these things pan out, but I've got more than 1 decent opportunity in the works. I'm fairly confident that at least one of them will turn out well.
Thanks all, for those of you who have been putting up with my whining.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I'm Christian. I don't, however, profess to know all the answers. For example, I cannot believe that playing D&D is tantamount to Satan worship. Like Holly Q, I don't believe that Christianity should discriminate against homosexuality.
Does this make me a bad Christian?
I've had a long argument with Dawn over the nature of morals. I told here a while ago that I do not believe that all morals are subjective. I hold to that. There is the objective existence as we commonly understand it i.e the way a chair exists. There is also objectivity in the sense that a common view defines reality. Diamonds, for example, are valueable simply because everyone agrees that they are. Does that make their value false? Maybe, but it's still objectively obtainable.
Morals are real. God is real, even if God isn't three pounds of flax.
My greatest problem with my own faith has always been the state of knowledge. I do not know, for example, how men can claim to know God's divine will. If God is truly infinite, how can man understand God's will through our puny senses? The Bible? That is guidance, not a road map. The Bible does not tell a young french student whether to take care of his mother through World War II or to sign on to fight Nazis.
Who are we to know with absolute certainty what God wills?
Yet, in my uncertain state, I still have to make moral decisions - the first of which is whether I believe in God. The fact that I have to make a decision and the fact that I never know exactly what consequences my decision will have fills me with dread and anxiety.
The reverse, however, must be true. If I choose, it is ultimately my choice. If I choose to persecute homosexuals, D&D players, Muslims and the such, it will be my choice, not God's will. If I choose send the National Guard to Iraq, the fact that New Orleans didn't get the National Guard's help is not God's will, but mine alone.
My faith is not run on certainty, but best guesses. I feel an obligation to seek out the best thing to do in a situation. It does not mean I know it is the best thing, merely my best guess. It means I am never certain if what I am doing is God's will. All I can do is pray about it, believe in it, and do the best I can.
People have asked me why, despite all the shit Christians have put me through, why I still remain Christian. This is my answer.
"I don't have the right to punish God for Man's sins."
Monday, April 03, 2006
I use the past tense because I no longer consider this person a friend.
This friend came upon hard times. He had to take a break from his education because he could not pay his school fees. His father approached me, asking me to help him out. I did.
One loan became two, two became four, and four became many more. I've lost count of the number of times his father approached me for money, all the time promising that he would have it returned before I got married.
Then my wedding came, and the money wasn't returned.
My friend's father spoke to me, told me what a hard time my friend and his family were going through. He told me that if one, just one, of his ideas would work out, he would have enough to pay me many times over. When I put my foot down on not extending any more loans, the requests changed. Ideas. Questions. Advice. Anything my mind could lend itself to his cause.
One request became two, two became for, and four became many more. I've lost count of the number of times his father approached me for advice, all the time promising me that he would have my money returned to me soon.
Then came time for me to leave for the States. I'd long since given up on seeing any of the money. For an experienced businessman my friend's father displayed a shocking naivete about the way business works now. As I sighed at yet another heavy-handed, over-reaching, money-making scheme, I made my preparations to leave.
Before I left, I asked for help, contacts, anyone my friend and his father could put me in touch with. They did, and gladly. They promised me that I would have a warm welcome there, in the States. They promised that I would get the help I needed to get settled in.
I went to the States. I waited. I tried to get in touch with this contact. No response. Not a peep. I waited some more. Finally, I got on with my life, disappointed, but far from beaten.
And then came the request for help again. More questions. More thinking. More advice. By this time, I had been in the States for so long that whatever help he could give in helping me settle in was long overdue, and probably not needed.
It was during this time I found out my friend had been borrowing money off another mutual friend of ours. My friend lent him the money he had been saving for his honeymoon. When came time to repay, he couldn't. Except, this time, it wasn't for his school fees.
It was for an Apple Powerbook. When I found out, I recall staring bitterly at my 100-page, looseleaf notepad, which I had relied on to take my notes for the longest time in the States, because I couldn't afford a laptop with the little money I brought along.
I sent him a short, terse reply about exactly what I thought of his actions. I should have told him exactly where to shove that Apple Powerbook. I haven't spoken to him since.
I found out a short time back that he still wonders if our friendship would recover if I had time away. Perhaps he doesn't understand me well enough after all those years - my trust, once betrayed, is almost impossible to regain. Making restitution would only be the beginning, not an end in itself. Perhaps if he doesn't understand why I am so deeply disappointed with him and his family, then maybe, just maybe, I was the fool. I will not be fooled twice.
Why do I write about this now?
Because I looked at my account yesterday, and the money I lent him was the approximate amount I needed to remain here in the States.
And because no good deed deserves to be unpunished, let me now say....
...this might as well have been my story about Singapore.
Monday, March 27, 2006
I've been having problems with my computer for the last months since I got here. It'd shut down inexpicably, or crash with whenever I'd leave it on too long. I took it to the computer shop and they told me it was because my graphics card was old.
It never occurred to me what the problem was until one day, my wife complained to me that my computer sounded like it was choking.
So today, while my wife is away in Ohio, I opened up my computer casing and found the problem - a thick layer of dust over the heat sink vent. I cleared it out and voila - the computer sounds like it's working normally again.
Proves that sometimes, all you really need to do is to get your hands dirty.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Having recently hit level 60 at WoW, I could not help but notice a startling similarity between WoW and Singapore.
For the benefit of those not in the know, level 60 is the absolute highest level you can attain in WoW. In many ways, it represents a coming of age. This is where your character stops growing and starts participating. There are many "60's only" places and quests. It's like getting keys to the executive bathroom. A whole new world awaits you.
Here's the catch. The game at level 60 is vastly different from the game at level 1-59. Strategies that once worked from level 1-59 absolutely do not work at level 60. At levels 1-59, you have many choices to thrive. At level 60, you really only have two choices to avoid character stagnation.
You either sell out, or compete for scraps.
Like WoW, Singapore literally hands you the game from levels 1-59. Sure, there are super-performers in school who get all the perks. Sure there are people who get crushed by the wheels of a merciless system. By and large, however, you -will- get a decent education, you -will- get your bellies filled, and you -will- enjoy a standard of living that, while not fantastic, is certainly comfortable. Singapore hands its citizens the equivalents of level 1-59. The system facilitates both casual participants as well as fanatic workaholics. You can choose to work hard, or not.
Once you hit 60, the environment changes. The strategies that kept you alive at levels 1 to 59 don't work any more. You realise that your NUS degree, and whatever few marketable skills you have means little and increasingly less in the big bad world out there. You realise that that you are largely helpless in spite of the fact that you may have worked your ass off during levels 1-59. Casual participation becomes nigh impossible. Only complete utter dedication will allow you to thrive - anything else risks stagnation. You realise that there are only two ways to achieve the end-game rewards. You can team up with people to get "raid" end-game dungeons, or you can fight other players in "(P)layer (V)ersus (P)layer" battlegrounds.
Teaming up requires having a skill set that the team needs. That skill set may not be the one that is most desirable to you, merely those most desirable to the team. The team does not care if you have hopes, dreams and aspirations of your own. The team only cares if you can contribute to help them slay Blackwing, Onyxia or Ragnaros. Except, if you've played WoW long enough, you will know that many raiding guilds are run like military organizations or corporations, and have more than their share of catass-ery.
"PvP" requires something else. It requires you to pit your skills with foul mouthed kids and teenagers, who have nothing better to do but to hone their skills in the Battlegrounds. Alternatively, you'd face a person who plays a character that is invulnerable to damage, can teleport from place to place, and can kill you with a keypress. In short, you remain breathlessly disbelieving and wondering why the system rewards loophole exploiters and the obsessed, but punishes the casual.
Both of these are not the problems. The problem starts when you are level 1 to level 59 - the system gives no indication of the problems you will face at level 60. All we get are anecdotes of players before us - players who have their own self-interest at heart when doling information out. The senior players are likely to have gotten ahead either by nefarious means or by simply "grinding" away while the rest of us casual gamers have lives to tend to. They are not likely to lobby for casual-friendly gaming. In suffering, they expect us to suffer along with them for rewards. These hard-core gamers exert a disproportionate amount of power and often lobby and obtain landscape changes that yet again favours them while stiffing us.
So you look at your options, and wonder why you pay dues for the privilege of aggravating yourself. Your eye starts wandering. You discover other MMORPG's, and wonder if they are just more worthwhile. Unfortunately, you have a sinking suspicion that jumping ship may mean a serious case of "Same Shit Different Day".
You know that the problem is not with the system, but with the inherent nature of man.
Chances are also that while you hate the problems with WoW, you have friends you made there. Leaving WoW means leaving your friends behind, and you just -cannot- do that. Ever.
So what do you do?
I'm still trying to find the answer.
Some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Last week was spring break, except it was so bloody cold that no reasonable person would expect it to be spring yet, and I didn't have a break. The reason I didn't have a break is because I have started work.
Yeap, you read right. I found some work. The only shitty thing is, they want to pay me but I can't accept payment, since I'm still on an F1 visa. I'm working for free right now. No expenses claimed, no salary paid, everything out of pocket. Plus, I have to cross the bay 3 times a week, and each crossing costs USD$3.
Why am I insane enough to do this? The simple answer - I need every break I can get. I've already alluded to the difficulty of getting a visa sponsor. If I do a good job here, maybe, just maybe, word will get around. Besides, I promised almost a year ago that I will do absolutely everything in my power to stay. I'll not break that promise now.
Hope may be the last of Pandora's evils, but in the end, it's may be the only thing we have.
Plus, free beef jerky and cup noodles, plus all the apple cider, coke and coffee I can drink ain't bad.
On a brighter note, I have finally presented the work I've been doing with my professor. We just gave a presentation on Wednesday at Santa Clara University on "The Emerging Role and Voices of Women in the Legal Profession in China." Or something like that.
I don't remember much of it now. I was decaffinated on Wednesday. What I do remember is that the presentation went better than I expected. My ghoulish sense of humour and wisecracks were suprisingly well-received.
At the end of a presentation, a good-looking female student walked up to me and asked me if I knew her boyfriend, cos he's Singaporean and we all knew each other, right? I told her politely that we don't, or at least, I don't. Apart from Ben, who I know through blogging, I have no clue about the Singaporean population in Santa Clara U.
Would I like to meet them? Probably, but I have no clue who they are.
So, good-looking female student, if you happen to be reading this blog, I'm sorry I sounded really standoffish, but I was tired, drained and generally cranky that day. Plus, I really didn't know your boyfriend. Really.
P.S It'd be funny if it was Ben's girlfriend I met. I honestly have no clue. She didn't identify her boyfriend.
Friday, February 24, 2006
I've often wondered why Hope was trapped in there with all the evils. I've read accounts that it was either (i) without the evil, there was no need for hope or (ii) that hope was the greatest of all evils.
After today, I think it's a little of both.
So, I had an offer, and a sponsor for a work visa. There was only one catch. The prevailing wage requirements meant that she had to overpay me. And she could not do that. This was in spite of the fact that (i) the prevailing wage does not take into account the fact that she's a sole proprietor and (ii) that she's not located in "prime" Sillicon Valley.
And after a week of running around like a madman trying to put the pieces together for what is needed for a work visa, I end up with a big fat zero.
I'm going to be off for the next few weeks sulking and angsting about being back to square one. I really wished I had a happy ending for everyone today, but it just isn't happening.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Love is the sacrifice you never knew you'd make, and don't mind making now that you know.
Love is the answer to the question "What the **** am I doing here?!"
Love is the courage to send out just one more job application after a long string of rejection letters.
Love is always knowing that there is something more important than just yourself.
Love is the tantrum you wished you never threw.
Love is forgiveness unearned.
Love is grabbing today by the balls....and squeezing hard.
Love is spitting in the face of an uncertain future.
Love is the faith that, somehow, things will work themselves out.
Love is staring at your dwindling bank account, and the corners you have to cut to make it last, just a little longer.
Love is the heartache you get from the millions of things you can't give.
Love is joy from the one thing you can give.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Saturday, January 28, 2006
(Translation: This is Teabone, wishing you a Happy Lunar New Year! May you succeed in all endeavours!)
The WoW Lunar New Year started a little early. We went visting to get angpow...
Aurelius: I BOW TO NO ELF!
Ferragamo: Shut up, kneel and get your angpow.
The lengths we go to get angpow....
After that, what better way to celebrate than to have a wonderful (banned in Singapore) fireworks display!
After much celebration, it was time to confront the fearsome Omen, or 年. Half an hour later and after many deaths, Omen lay slain before us! What a way to usher in the New Year!
Yes, Omen is that damn big.
Happy Lunar New Year, once again, from....
Teabone, aka "Almost Infamous" Anthony
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
9. You refer to dates out with your wife as "Wife Faction Quests", except you know you will never be Exalted.
8. You refer to talking about WoW on a date with your wife as "generating aggro".
7. Punctuation marks are -much- more meaningful now.
6. One question mark good, two question marks bad.
5. You think Elf/Tauren babies are acceptable dietary supplements.
4. Chinese New Year is a big deal (especially if you are a farmer).
3. You think this comic strip is a hilarious joke.
2. You -don't- think this comic strip is a joke at all.
1. You organise group outings with the preface "LFG".
Friday, January 20, 2006
4 Jobs You’ve Had In Your Life
Salesman selling Post-It's at a Post Office (I kid you not)
Management Flunkie in an ill-conceived Dot-Com
Lawyer in a mid-sized law firm
Legal counsel in a tiny telecommunications start-up
4 Movies You Could Watch Over And Over
Kung Fu Hustle
A Better Tomorrow
Fighter in the Wind
Transformers the Movie (and with that I display my age)
4 TV Shows You Love(d) To Watch
The Daily Show with John Stewart
CSI Las Vegas
4 Places You’ve Been On Vacation To
Hong Kong + Shenzhen
Sydney + Hunter Valley
4 Places You Would Rather Be
In space, preferably with a space suit on
The Orient Express
In an underwater dome
4 Of Your Favourite Foods
Mom's fried bee hoon
Fried Carrot Cake
Stanley's Ice Cream
4 Websites You Visit
The Hungry Bunny
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Medisearch is Singapore's first medical services website searchable by location and operating hours. Pretty useful, if you happen to be stuck in the office and need a doctor for an MC badly.
Take a look for yourself.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Downtown Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Downtown
Our first stop was to the Visitor Center in Santa Cruz. We got there too early, so we spent some time chilling out at the Macdonalds opposite. At the Visitor Center we were redirected to downtown Santa Cruz. We spent some time exploring the cute downtown and assembling supplies for our foray into the Santa Cruz coastline.
Clock Tower at the end of Santa Cruz downtown
We did not, however, manage to find what we wanted - a picnic basket. After some discussion, we headed to another possible location where we could obtain picnic food - the Santa Clara Wharf
Santa Clara Wharf
The Wharf was a tourist attraction in its own right. Extending a half-mile from the coast, it is also the nesting place of many a seagull, pigeon and sea lion.
Don't seagulls just look rude?
Sealions taking a break from mating season
Mommy and Baby Sealion
I personally liked the Sealions. You could hear them barking from under the wharf. At first, I thought they were seagulls until I actually -heard- a seagull caw.
I missed a really good photo opp though. From the wharf we saw a sealion catch a fish, only to be attacked by a particularly rude seagull wanting its share of the spoils. The sealion dived under the water to escape and we never saw that sealion again.
We bought some really bland fish and chips and headed to our next stop, Lighthouse Point, for an improvised picnic.
Lighthouse Point is a lighthouse (duh!) converted into a Surfing Museum. It also has some of the best views of the Pacific Coastline I've ever seen.
We also saw surfers. I never realised how dangerous the sport could be until I saw this...
Surfers climbing down jagged rocks
I could only imagine what happened if the waves got too big and wached these surfers onto these rocks.
Still I reckon they had fun, even if it was a lot of paddling for a couple of seconds of surfing.
With that, we headed for our final destination.
Natural Bridges State Park
We headed here on the recommendation of the Vistor Center. We hoped to catch a glimpse of Monarch Butterfly clusters. Instead, all we got along the path was this...
A felled tree blocking the nature trail
We then proceeded to catch some tidal land pools, and the natural bridge for which the park was named.
Dinner deserves a special entry. It was a letdown. We returned to the wharf for dinner after exploring the coastline for the afternoon. My wife and I were of the same opinion - that salt and spices must be REALLY expensive in Santa Cruz.
Names are withheld to protect the guilty.
I'm glad we made the trip. With some luck, we'd be able to head down to Half Moon Bay or Napa sometime in the near future.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Here's what Straits Times quoted.
"'YouthInk is a symbolic gesture in the right direction. I acknowledge the pressing need to make our youth feel engaged in Singapore's social structure. At the very least, it symbolises an attempt to show the youth of Singapore that their views actually matter.
'However, as a forum for youth expression, YouthInk has a long way to go.
'A young voice is powerful because it is young, free from the preconceived 'wisdom' that afflicts adults. It took a child to question the emperor's nakedness. Yet, in the articles I have seen, there wasn't a single one that posed the tremendously difficult questions that the youth are privileged to ask.
'Two articles on blogging advocated simple truisms without further analysis - that we should be responsible with what we write online. Why is no one challenging the conventional models of career success? Why does no one question why young people are flocking to the modelling profession in droves?' -- ANTHONY LIM, 29, currently doing postgraduate studies in San Francisco"
And here's my full text.
"I appreciate the vote of confidence. As you well know, I am not exactly a fervent supporter of mainstream media. If the objective is to get a counterpoint to how well YouThink is doing, you might have come to the right place. If the objective, however, is to get a quote useable by the Straits Times, I'm pretty sure you've asked the wrong person.
Nevertheless, since you've asked, here's what I think.
YouThink is a symbolic gesture in the right direction. I acknowledge the pressing need for mainstream media, and the Government by extension, to make youths feel engaged in Singapore social structure. At the very least, YouThink symbolises an attempt to show the youths of Singapore that their views actually matter.
However, as a forum for youth expression, YouThink has a long way to go.
A young voice is powerful because it is young, free from preconceived "wisdom" that afflicts adults. It took a child to question the emperor's nakedness. This is perhaps the greatest lesson that YouThink should take to heart. Before the eyes of youth, we are all naked.
Yet, in the six articles sent to me, I have not read a single one that poses the tremendously difficult questions that the youth are priviledged to ask. Two of the six articles simply advocate more of the same - a top down, government-driven approach to solve problems. The two articles on blogging advocate simple truisms without further analysis - that we should be responsible with what we write online.
Wherein lies the wisdom of youth? Why is no one asking whether the modern Singapore student wield so much power that teachers are unable to do their jobs? Why is no one challenging the conventional models of career success? Why does no one question why young people are flocking to the modelling profession in droves?
I do not know, nor do I wish to speculate as to this cause. What I am certain of is this - the day that such questions are asked and published is the day YouThink, and all of Singaporean society, has arrived.
I pray fervently for that day to arrive."
The parts in bold are the portions that Straits Times omitted. Not a terrible omission, but one that takes a lot of force out of my opinion. My wife points out the irony of the omissions - that the truly provocative questions have been omitted.
I believe these omissions speak for themselves.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Buddhists believe in a cycle of karma and retribution. Taoists believe that events occur in natural cycles. Historians believe those who do not know history are doomed to repeat history. Scientists believe that beautiful people are beautiful because their faces are symmetrical.
Such was my visit to Singapore.
I started my acting stint 12 years ago, in the ACJC drama club. My first production was the Merchant of Venice. I played Solanio. The drama teacher in charge at the time had it in her head that we'd look interesting in chinese costumes. We wore awful satin sam-fu's and most of us didn't have a clue what our lines meant. We acted to a huge audience in the AC auditorium.
12 years later, I headed to the Substation to watch the Merchant of Venice done by the current batch of AC Drama. What else can I say about the production, apart from singing its praises? This was the first time AC Drama had used a live band for its musical performance. Electric Guitars, Drums, Bongos even. The results were spectacular, to say the least. They are part of the Art Elective Program now. I say they've earned it.
12 months ago, I started playing World of Warcraft. I stumbled around, pretty lost. That's the price I paid for being an early adopter. No information, no news, and no one to help me around. I changed server three times, moved from Alliance to Horde, and played almost every character in the process except the Paladin. I remember being scoffed as being an addict, and told that no one else would join me in the game except me bro and Apocalyptic Wen.
When I moved to California, I stopped playing for a long time. I had a level 46 troll shaman which I gave up in frustration. My bro and Wen operated at a time zone that I couldn't coordinate with. I tried hard to keep in touch through WoW, but no one was there.
When I returned this time, my friends were talking about nothing but WoW. The guild which I signed the original charter had grown tremendously in my absence. Apocalyptic Wen was the guildmaster. I recall the days of dragging Apocalyptic Wen's cloth-covered ass down dungeons for equipment. They all made me a promise - come back, and they would help me get back in shape. For some odd reason, they were happy to see me back.
I've been playing again for the last week, and I've got a level 24 Tauren Druid. All that playing around with other classes allowed me to understand Druids better than most starters.
12 is a magical number. There are 12 months to a solar year. Both the Chinese and Western Zodian have 12 constellations. There are 12 numbers on a clock. 12 is the number of the cycle completed. 12 is the number of renewal.
As I had struggled 12 years before, so does AC Drama now bear fruit. As I had struggled 12 months before to help, so I am now helped. It all came round.
Symmetry is beautiful. Beauty is Symmetrical.