Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Shifting Gears

I recall a story.

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

The World's Only Soccer Widower


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

What I Wished Bar Exams Looked Like

Question 1

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

Question 2

You must talk to the following person to obtain the Drakefire Amulet:

(a) Rexxar
(b) Thrall
(c) Onyxia
(d) General Drakksaith

Question 3

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.