Wednesday, December 31, 2008


It's funny how things work out.

If I had succeeded in getting into the Jessups or Shipping Moot team, I'd have become what I wanted to become at that time, a successful litigator. I'd have had a rigorous apprenticeship under a big-name lawyer, and picked up skills and networks that would have helped in my early career.

And at the end of that, I would have become as my friends have become - disillusioned, and wondering if this was all they could do for the rest of their lives, victims of their own success.

If I had gotten onto the moots team, I would not have entered into a (admittedly stupid) business venture.

If that business venture had succeeded despite all odds, I'd have quit law, and entered business. I'd have worked through a moderately successful business, right up to the point of the dot-com bust, and I'd have entered the work-force, having lost nothing but a few years, but with solid business experience under my belt.

Instead, I was outmanuevered, and was forced to make a decision between finding love and finding justice.

And because I was outmanuevered, I was much richer for the experience, because the first rule of business is not succeeding. It's knowing how not to fuck up, and I've since experienced almost every variation of second-hand fuck ups in every job I've been to. It's a valueable experience, knowing how and when things fuck up, because my job requires that I fix them.

If I had not entered that business venture, I would not have met my ex-wife. I'd have been spared the heartache of watching her tear asunder everything we've built. I'd not have been called boring, uncreative, and a typical Singaporean. I'd not have to face rejection from every angle, from someone I deeply trusted, to complete strangers who refused to give me the time of the day.

I would also have missed out the small opportunities that turned into big ones - the unpaid internship I procured in California, which turned into a job here in Singapore. I'd have lost the single greatest opportunity to prove what was best in a "typical Singaporean" - hard work and never-say-die.

I'd never have realised that success is not about huge successes, but of small accumulated wins, and not giving up.

I'd never have realised that life is transient, and all the more beautiful for it.


Here I am now, a failure at everything I had wanted to be 10 years ago, and so much the better for it. I failed at becoming a Jessup mooter. I failed at becoming a businessman. I failed at finding a new job and life in California. I failed at keeping my marriage together.

Yet, somehow, I ended up where I wanted to be at 32 - a decent job, close to family, with friends and loved ones close by.

If I had succeeded then I'd have failed now. I'm glad I failed.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crazy Stupid Long

By request, I've decided to share my experiences with the crazy new Johor Checkpoint, from the bus taker's perspective. Suffice to say, I managed to get an eyeful of the suck that Cowboy Caleb's wife experienced.

I've take the bus into JB twice weekly, for the last year. For bus-takers, the old experience was fairly simple and no-fuss. Get on a bus at Kranji or Woodlands checkpoint (your pick), alight bus at Woodlands, alight again at the old Johor checkpoint, and from there either (i) hoof it to City Square or (ii) take the bus all the way to Larkin.

The new Johor checkpoint, in a word, sucks.

  1. For one, the checkpoint is now located further away from the Causeway. Hoofing it from the checkpoint to City Square is about the same distance as just hoofing it across the Causeway.
  2. The only other exit point by foot is the Jalan Jim Quee. I checked out that exit, and since I don't know where the damn thing leads, it might as well be in the middle of nowhere.
  3. The bus platforms are now split to Platform A and Platform B. The split seems entirely arbitrary. Previously, all SBS buses used (roughly) the same platform, so if all you wanted was to get to Kranji or Woodlands Checkpoint, you could take your pick of 160, 170, 950 and (if you were so inclined) the Causeway Express. Now, 950 and the Causeway Express is on a different platform from 170 and 160. It makes no sense.
  4. The 160 and 170 platform is the furthest platform away from the elevator. I'm not kidding. The SJE has a closer platform than the 160 and 170.
  5. There are something like 20 immigrations stations at the new checkpoint and the queue is still moving like a snail. To be fair, it seems like the officers are actually checking passports now instead of waving a whole bunch of people through the lines. Still, it's excruciatingly slow.
In short, a trip to JB that would normally take me an hour would now take me an extra half an hour to one hour. It's insane.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Mom is a FOB

This is an awesome website. Brings to mind some of the conversations I've had with my mom.

A "FOB" stands for (F)resh (O)ff the (B)oat. That's often used as a derogatory term, representing the use of Engrish, and flawed understanding of western culture. To me, it shows that they are trying hard to understand and accept the world they are now in, albeit through murky lenses.

I especially love this story where a FOB mother refuses to take a "YES on Proposition 8!" sign because "Our family has the gay!".


The often-cited "Singapore is not ready for XYZ social change because of traditional conservative social values" is a bunch of crock. Quite beyond the often-hilarious aspect of this website, I think it provides a stark insight into how traditional asian values are not incompatible with modern social issues like same-sex marriage.

To me the question here is this - which value are you championing?

What is more traditional than loving your children unconditionally?

What is more traditional than wanting your children to have a happy marriage?

What is more traditional, more Chinese, than wanting your children to have a better social conditions than the one you come from?

Answer these questions, then tell me again that social change is incompatible with Asian values.


I returned to Sunday practice yesterday after a long absence. Apart from the exhaustion and morning aches today, I think I learnt quite a bit from yesterday's class.

Abrazare, or unarmed combat, is the foundation of swordplay. It is the foundation because the basics of body movement, balance and combat can all be found in this portion of the treatise. To be specific, the domination of the center line, grounding and breaking the opponent's structure are all aspects that get repeated throughout the text, but are most readily apparent in abrazare.

Our training yesterday was essentially wrestling. Strikes, counters, takedowns. The interesting thing about wrestling is how easy the situation turns into two just just grunting and pushing against each other with no avail. This is not ideal - a quick cover to break structure, or relaxing firm but guarded is a far better way of eventually taking out the enemy.

I've also discovered half-speed wrestling is much harder to do than full-speed, mostly because the periods of destabilisation usually take place only for a split second. Half-speed, people tend to restabilise themselves long before being able to take advantage of it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Klein-Four Group

Another awesome video. Stumbled across this at the Penny Arcade forums.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Prop 8 - The Musical

This video is fricking hilarious!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

(HT to Kathleen)