Monthly Archives: January 2011

Life with a Law Student: Dinner

Mr. Cinical: Do you agree that my success had brought about some degree of material comfort for you?

Me: Hmm, yes, to some degree.

Mr. Cinical: Then you should be buying me dinner.

Me: Why?

Mr. Cinical: Since you agreed that my success has benefitted you, you should be buying me dinner as a form of reward.

Learning point: Always think before you answer. Particularly if you are married to someone who’s learning the art of asking questions.


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Week 3/11: To Hell & Back

Even NY Times has an article about people like me posting up their resolutions online (and tracking them). By opening declaring your resolutions (e.g. weekly blog post challenge), it apparently increases the price of failure, as you get judged by your friends. So I Resolve. World, Don’t Fail me Now.

It’s all about work this week….

  • When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Darn right! It’s been a hell work week with 12/13 hour days and pressing deadlines. I kept myself sane by leaving the office at 5.30pm on Wednesday for dinner and drinks with a friend. Who knew just walking away could be so simple? And who knew that the early escape on a Wednesday could be so darn effective to give me the additional drive to finish up most things on Thursday and Friday. I should try this more often.
  • Hard conversations.I have been on both receiving and initiating ends this week. Tough, but that what’s growing up is all about isn’t it? You HAVE to say/listen to things that you don’t want to. And I have realized, the harder the conversation’s going to be, the more important it is to get it over and done with. If not, you are just stuck with that heavy feeling in your heart. Sure, you burn bridges, as I invariably did, but oh well, “may the bridges I burn light the way”.

Some other interesting stuff from around the web.

  • Bookshelf porn. If I ever move to a new house, I want a reading room, filled with books and a comfy couch. In fact, I want a new shelf now. My current shelf is filled and my newly acquired books are lying around waiting for a home. [Credit: Picture is lifted from website]
  • An absolutely brilliant article : Don’t date a girl who reads. I concur.

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Life with a Law Student: Action/Intention

Mr Cinical: I attempted to reserve a Banyan Tree Villa in Bintan for Valentine’s Day, but it was all booked out.

Me: Oh, so what’s your alternative plan?

Mr. Cinical: Nothing. And I thought it was the thought that counted.

Me: Before marriage, it was the intention that matters. After marriage, it’s the action that counts.

Mr. Cinical: And I thought it was the other way around.

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Week 2/11: It’s all about Perspectives

This weekly blog challenge isn’t a bad thing. I can feel myself  attempting to make an effort to keep my eyes and ears out for inspiration, rather than going through the motions of daily life.

  • Dinner and Drinks with Ms. F and Ms. K. There’s nothing quite like sharing different perspectives on life, work, men, relationships with friends. I can’t quite remember all we said, but I think one went like, “I think we are having a mid-life crisis.”/”No, we are just on the crossroads of attempting to discover something better for ourselves.”
  • Loving this Work is Not a Job Blog. These posters are amazing. A personal take on job versus work – A job is what you do to earn money, but work is a craft you honed. You get better at it the more effort you put into it. It extends beyond the necessary skills needed to do your job better, it’s also about what you do and how you do it so that you can live life better. [Credits: Picture above is lifted from the blog as well. Check out the print shop! ]
  • I like how Seth Godin always manages to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, like this one about uncashed cheques in wallets as opportunities not realized. I think it’s about time I clear out my wallet.
  • I surprised myself by finishing 2 of Patrick Lencioni’s books this week. One was about how to overcome silos in organizations (Silos, Politics and Turf Wars) and the other was about how to become a better consultant (Getting naked*).  I like how he presents concepts in the form of short stories. They are almost like Aesop Fables for adults, i.e. less of a preach about what’s right/wrong, but leaves one to discover what could be best.

*figuratively of course, not literally. Haha.

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The Old Honors Thesis

I found a draft of my Honors Thesis while cleaning out a cupboard. The thesis submitted for my political science undergraduate degree when I was 23 was proudly titled “Institutions, Gaiatsu and the Politics of Market Liberalisation in Japan”.

It proclaims the research focus as “understanding the conditions under which gaiatsu  (specifically foreign pressure from the US) will have a greater impact in shaping domestic policy outcomes”.

  • “Putnam’s framework of 2-level games is used as a reference for this study… where a negotiator in international negotiations must deal simultaneously with counterparts at the international level (Level 1) and constituents at the domestic level (Level 2)…However, Putnam assumes that the domestic is a unitary whole… the 2-level game framework also does not address the dynamics of interaction between the domestic political constituents and international counterparts and the conditions under which these interactions operate”. [WOW, who was I to critique Robert Putnam like that??]
  • “The practical application in examining policy changes in the rice and telecommunications sectors will take the form of a time-series analysis”. [Do NOT ask me what the hell is a time-series analysis. Actually, I’m not sure whether I had even grasp its real meaning then.]
  • “It recognizes that all states lie at the confluence of international and domestic pressures and that domestic politics can be affected by external events. This has the effect of altering existing power configurations consequently affecting the process of policy making”. [Ooooo, new insight, I bet.]
  • “A theoretical implication of this study will be its contribution to the debate on the future role and sustainability of the “developmental” state….A practical application of this study is to question whether Japan can actually change without gaiatsu”. [Great plans I had.]

And now for the last sentence in the thesis.

  • “Relying on past behavior of reactivity is risky. Policies and institutions must adapt to changing circumstances, motivated from within, not without”.

Re-reading it 9 years on at the ripe age of 32, I can’t help but marvel (and cringe) at my 23-year-old naivety, idealism and the verbose writing mode with those too-big-for-my-mouth words.

But I’m proud of it. That 64-page binder. Prouder still that I managed to break out from that verbose mode for the most important bit in the Acknowledgment Page with a dedication to my friends written in the simplest and plainest words:

“To Ms F, Ms.F and Ms.A, Thank you for coffee, companionship and constructive criticism”


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Life with a Law Student: Pillow Talk

A typical night.

Me: So what did you learn in school today?

Mr. Cinical: ….difference between Constitution and Constitutionalism… blah blah…supremacy of the Constitution… blah… blah…blah… Kelsen’s Theory of Law….. Whether our right to vote is explicitly stated out in law….blah blah blah blah…

(15 mins later)

Mr. Cinical: (Pokes me in the ribs) Hey, why are you sleeping?

Me: You know sometimes when I ask a question, I’m really (really) just expecting a 2-sentence answer.

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Week 1/11: The Start

Ducks waddling in Bali’s padi fields (Photo: January 2011)

For one who declares that she loves writing*, I’m quite lazy about actually getting down to it. I clocked a total of 54 posts in 2010, an average of 1 a week. Not dismal, but not great either.

And yes, despite that one of my 2011’s resolution is to write MORE, I logged on to wordpress today for the first time in 2011 and chanced upon the “A Post A Day/A Post A Week” challenge.

I know it’s week 2 of 2011 so that’s probably a sign that I should get that resolution going.

Knowing that I’m that type of person who needs a concrete goal to work towards (just like how I sign up for mass 5km runs to get myself to exercise), this challenge for writing seems right for me. I’ll start slow, a post a week (at least to fulfill challenge quota) plus my typical load. If all goes well, I may be able to hit up to 100 posts for 2011 (New Goal?).

Nothing specific I want to write about for A Post A Week, but inspired by the radio (Class 95FM) where the DJs talk the few things that brought a smile to their faces each day, I thought I might want to use this weekly post to write down the things in that week that made me smile or think, or something new that I have learnt or am inspired by.

  • Ms. J’s post-it reminders from friends to self. It was her 2011 project to solicit honest feedback from friends. I need to work on that “Do not roll eyes” advice too. Years ago, Ms J and I used to sit across the meeting room from each other, rolling our eyes to comments bordering on stupidity. Ms. J kindly reminded me that my “rolling eyes” was internal and hers was external. I used to have to mutter under my breath, “Don’t roll eyes, don’t roll eyes…”
  • Did anyone catch Heston’s Feasts on BBC Lifestyle? Heston Blumenthal, of 3-Michelin star fame for The Fat Duck Restaurant showcases his skills in creating the most magical feasts ever. I caught Season 2 (Episode 1) where he recreated the world of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, completed with chocolate waterfalls, lickable wallpapers. Yummy. I think I need to start the “Eating at the Fat Duck” Fund. In the meantime, I’ll reread Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and watch old Youtube videos of Heston’s Feasts Season 1.
  • That WSJ article on the superiority of the Chinese style of parenting. On reflection, I’m glad for the parenting style of my mum. Sure, she was the typical Chinese parent that did not allow me to play at the playground with what she called the neighborhood riff-raff. She was concerned about my grades and wanted more than anything for me to do well in school, but she didn’t push me too hard. She gave me time to be myself, to play with paper dolls and indulge in books. She was disappointed when I did not turn out to be like a math/science whiz or receive top academic awards, but she came to terms with it. And funnily, she stopped me from pursuing violin based on a hare-brained superstitious belief that it will leave a black patch on my neck(!!??)
  • The talk-back session with the actors from the play “Model Citizens” (part of the ongoing M1 Fringe Festival). I can’t remember the exact question from the floor, but I was inspired by the actress, Karen Tan’s conviction and dedication to her craft when she said, “It’s my job. It needs to mean something.” Don’t we all wish we had that level of passion and dedication to something? Anything? That serves as a higher purpose to keep us going?
  • Funny, this is turning out to be a longer post than I thought it would. But I should stop. I quote Haruki Marukami (What I talk about when I talk about running) on what keeps him going as a writer, “I stop every day/night at the point where I can write more”.

To a better week ahead.

*loves writing: No correlation whatsoever to quality of writing. My dismal blog stats attest.

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