Thursday, December 28, 2006

Back with a Vengeance...

A whimper of a vengeance - there's nothing to be vengeful about, and there's certainly nothing to cause a ruckus about either.

But I'm back nonetheless. I'm sorry (to all 10 of my loyal readers) - after I went to Goa on my grad trip, I just felt a lot of inertia and was not too eager to start sharing thoughts (though I had many). I blame Goa: white sandy beaches and amazing food meant that sloshing myself with food and alcohol at the beach proved more fun than tapping away writing meaningful stuff. I'm kinda regretting it: there's a ton of material during the last two weeks that might not get blogged about as a result (time waits for no man).

So how about a short update on what I've been up to? Then perhaps I can launch into something less mundane and more thoughtful...

1. I think I left my friends dangling with that last post: what was it about??? Well, I wrote this essay for my Ethics professor and decided that I wanted to post it here also. Although it is an academic discourse, I do think it is a pity that only an audience of ONE professor, a certain de Bettignies, is going to read that paper.

2. After that dangling post, I went for my grad trip to Goa - it took almost a week and I came back early morning last Wednesday, for the purpose of... (more on Goa in a separate post, with pics)

3. GRADUATION! I'm now a newly minted MBA. The class of December 2006 graduated last Wednesday (in Singapore) and Thursday (in Fontainebleau) and we never felt happier, nor sadder. In my opinion, the goodbyes started long ago: at the end of P4. However, I think the most poignant farewells were at the graduation ceremony and the subsequent...

4. Graduation party at MOS. Drank, danced, hugged friends and shook hands all night. I can't believe that INSEAD is at an end.

5. Over the last few days, I've been catching up with friends and clubbing rather more often than I wanted to (sloshed with alcohol some nights). Also, I'm having too many late nights, either up with friends chatting or partying. It's a little too much to take: I need to go back to what is probably a lot more important...

6. Which is my job search. Ack - I'm still looking for a job but half the world is busy with their holidays. I guess it will have to be in Jan 2007 when I start in my honest earnest quest for a job (and a paycheck).


In other news, since I've had a little too much free time, I've updated the look and feel of the blog. Actually, it looks pretty much the same, but the advent of Blogger's new functionalities meant that I can now tag (Blogger calls it 'label') my posts.

For a long time now, I've toyed with the idea of tagging my posts using Technorati's tag feature. It isn't too difficult, but the hassle of tagging old posts as well just turned me off the prospect of playing around with too much HTML (I wanted to avoid that - I may be techy at times, but I'm lazy too).

Then when Blogger introduced Beta, I thought it was a godsend, but they didn't allow bloggers who also do group blogs (alas) to use Beta. Without wanting to relinquish my membership in that particular group blog (guys there hardly blog now), it was only recently when Beta became a full version that I started tagging posts.

So, while happily tagging away, I realised that finding the right tags to use increasingly becomes a problem:

1. First of all, you want your tags to express exactly what you mean in your post. Therefore, you come up with very descriptive tags that encapsulate in one or two words what you're trying to say. Simple tags like 'Photography' will include photos, and 'Travel' will be about your trips.

2. Then, when it comes to posts which consist of more topics, you try using two or more tags to express the idea behind the post.

3. But the problem comes when you started to realise that you're having too many tags (the problem I'm facing now). You need to be economical about your tags: after all, there are some tags that reference only ONE post, and what good is a tag if it only references ONE article? It's like, if each and every article is referenced with its own tag, the tagging system makes no sense.

4. So you start being economical about your tags... and that's another problem because you then start force-fitting your posts into your tags. That's not what blogging is about: you're supposed to write what you feel, and THEN decide what your tags should be.

Yuck. I hate tagging, but I'm doing it nonetheless. Tagging is an afterthought: you write a beautiful novel, with all thoughts and ideas expressed as per your plan, but you've conveniently left out the title of the book and now wrack your brains thinking about a suitable title, something that concisely encapsulates the main thrust of the novel, a short phrase that tells the reader all he needs to know about whether he should be reading the book or not.

So, with those thoughts in my head, I took on the onus of tagging all my old posts (to aid you loyal readers! All 10 of you!). I could only do 50 without collapsing from tag piling - I keep introducing new tags and failed to be economical about them. Sighs - there're guys who're able to be really efficient with tags, but I don't belong to that club.

Anyhow, the tags are there to help YOU. Yes, YOU the reader. I hope you find the reading experience enhanced as a result!


PS: Will be posting pictures from my Goa trip (not many, but I think they're nice) and the said Ethics essay in due time. I just want this catch-up post to sit around for a day or two before proceeding with more catching up!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Framing the Great Casino Debate as an Ethical Issue - Prelude

It was 10pm Sunday night and I was at a friend's place in Dover Road. An ethics paper is due on 5pm Monday afternoon, and I don't want to spend Monday night working on it. Given the time constraints (and other factors), it meant I had only about 18 hours to work on a paper I have yet to start writing.

I had thought about the paper though, and spent about an hour on Friday bookmarking certain sites I wanted to revisit to bone up my knowledge of the topic. But the fact is, it was 10pm, Sunday night, and I had to deliver a paper in 18 hours.

I didn't sleep until 6am Monday morning, and was in school by noon. All I did during my waking hours between that time and 5pm was spent writing the damn ethics paper. And the topic? I thought it was topical to revisit the hotly debated IR issue from a year ago, given the recent award of the Sentosa site to Genting. Nope, I'm not talking about the ethical dimensions of the current award, but about the great debacle from about a year ago.

Given the time constraint I thought it was a decent effort - so I'm going to put it up in my next blog post. Provided I remember to do it. Before I leave. For Goa.

I must be high on the cappuccino... 8)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Wrapping Things Up

This is going to be largely about me: I'm getting so ego-centric these days...


The year at INSEAD is almost over: for most, today heralded the last day of school. The Strategic Pricing prof was nice: he provided champagne, toasted to the success of each and every one of us, and bid us a good life ahead.

It has been a bittersweet year for me. I started the year a rather ebullient personality, enjoying every moment of it, but I ended up alienating a certain section of my network in the process. I'm ending the year on a somewhat depressed note: I'm sad to leave, I'm also happy to go to the next phase of life at the same time.

A friend said that I haven't been very social all period (P5) and it's true. I've shied away from contact with most INSEADers, sticking to the ones I know better and just hanging around with people closer in ethnic terms (the Asians, largely). On the whole, it was perhaps a strategy of withdrawal: to slowly distance myself from INSEAD and the wonderful time it has been. Ironically, because it has been the experience of my life for the last 5 years (or so), I wanted it to end as soon as possible. Because, in my most twisted opinion, it is artificial.

This year is not like life as I know it to be. This year has not been progressive in terms of achieving my life goals (I did get my MBA, but I believe I regressed when it came to being a better human being). That, for me at least, is why I will always regard this blip (of a year) as something of an anomaly in my existence. It was fun, it was great, and the experience was wonderful. But it isn't my life: and that's what I so desperately want to get back to.

Someone said that my reaction seems somewhat escapist in nature, it's like a retreat from all the fun and enjoyment everyone else has been having. An utterance that is not entirely untrue, but also 'reflective' in a way. I'm not escaping: INSEAD itself has been the escape for me.

In the grander scheme of living, I didn't really need this MBA at all, nor the one year away. I just wanted to escape from mundanity, conformity, perceived lower sense of self-worth and a non-too-exciting career. I could have plodded on and not 'seen the world' (albeit through rather biased eyes), but I chose to live this one year of wretched debauchery - oh I exaggerate, it is a fun year, with everyone placing emphasis on different aspects of it.

I chose this year at INSEAD to escape, but I found myself wanting to go back now. My colleagues will probably think that this is a regression, a retreat - something quite like a tortoise who stuck his head out and wished he'd never left the comfort of his shell.


The cabaret was last night and I wished I'd gone for it. The cabaret is an INSEAD tradition brought over from the Fonty campus that is meant to showcase student talents. One can perform, dance, sing or just croak on stage in front of fellow INSEADers. Can't say much else though because I wasn't there: from what I heard about it, the performances were funny, superb, and there was a lot of fun all round.

Another INSEAD 'tradition' is also taking place: The End Game. This one is somewhat more interesting, but again, I'm a non-participant (not by choice alas!). The End Game came about because of a gender disparity in INSEAD. Primarily, the problem with B-schools is that there are more males than females enrolled: in INSEAD, the males outnumber females 3 to 1.

Thus, when it came to the general dating pool, the INSEAD female is faced with 'choice', and the INSEAD male is faced with little choice and too much competition. And if you've read my take on the game theory aspects of the dating scene here, you quickly realise that with competition being stiff, girls find it hard to fend off the die-hards they don't fancy, and find it difficult to approach the ones they do.

Hence, the premise for the End Game - the game to end all games (yuck, I hated how that sounds). The End Game is a party to which only 'certain' guys get invited to go. The invitation can only come from one girl i.e. one girl gets to invite one guy (whom they fancy / had the hots for / lusted after), and everyone gets an equal chance to hook up. No competition, no guys blocking each other out, and more attention given.

The rules (for the gals): 1) you cannot invite your boyfriend; 2) If a guy is already invited by another girl, the girl has to choose another guy to go (the 2nd choice, or 3rd or whatever); 3) you're supposed to keep it a secret, i.e. not to reveal it to the invitee nor other invitors.

It all sounds fun until you think about the poor guys who don't get to go. So, in the spirit of all things to do with parties at INSEAD, there is another element added on top of it: guys have to campaign for that 'coveted' invitation to the End Game. Wow... and I thought there was no competition. :)

I think decisions have been made and invitations sent out: Have fun all End Gamers! And if you've ever lusted after someone, tell them.


The end is nigh and I've got another location update to... well, update on. I'm going on a grad trip to Goa next week onwards, and then will return just in time for the graduation ceremony. If I don't blog in the meantime, it is because I didn't drag my laptop along, or I was just having too much fun to drag myself in front of a PC to hammer away on a keyboard.

Also, since I started using StatCounter on this blog, I've noticed certain discernible patterns among my readership: applying what I've learnt from Marketing classes, there are 3 main segments among the readers of this blog:

1) The Friend / Relative / ex-Colleague / fellow INSEADer who I've told about this blog;

2) The click-througher from another (more popular) blog that links here (Thanks to whoever links me!);

3) The ones searching for 'Markstrat Tricks' - seriously, I have so MANY of these guys that I'm seriously considering posting up a solid article that actually espouses the tricks behind Markstrat (there is ONE and only ONE trick I know: when it's time to kill babies, you have to KILL babies).

There: my segments. :) Which are you?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Drafted and Shafted

There were things which I wrote halfway and abandoned some time ago for one reason or another. Sometimes, I'm just not motivated enough to continue something I started (a familiar refrain alas). At other times, I don't structure my thoughts coherently enough to deliver something worth reading. I also sometimes fear that what I was writing might affect some friendships in certain adverse ways.

Here's one of those posts I started writing and never finished. It's been in the blogger draft folder since October:

The Night of a Thousand Fucks (Only the Verbal Kind though)

It was not a night to remember. I recalled sitting on a bench, and the next memory was 8 hours later waking up in a housemate's bed without any idea how I got there.

Well, it wasn't just about me not remembering - I was a big nuisance and I sure did not leave any fond memories for the folks I troubled that night.


Piecing together the events of that night took a while - my fellow South-East Asian saw most of the action, and the blow-by-blow account blew me away. (he took some literal blows as well, poor sod)

First off, I was already drunk by the time he found me.

And then, he fed me more of the vile stuff.

The vile stuff makes one feel vile. But prior to feeling vile, I became the quintessential angry drunk, and that's when the litany of 'fucks' started.

I see someone familiar, and the first issuance from my mouth was 'F*** you'. A friend started keeping count, and from the time I started the f-ing rant till I dropped dead on the living room floor, it was a ceaseless F-fest.

Yup. Certifiably an angry drunk.

Oh yes, there was the hurling bit as well, and that's when it did not become that fun for my fellow South-East Asian friend. (It is always fun up to the point people get sick) Hurled on his jacket, his car, his shirt. Even violently tore up the hurl bag wrapped around my mouth. Punched and abused him as well.

The amount of verbal and physical abuse they had to endure. Ouch...

So there was sick in his car, and on our clothes. The guys dragged me home, pulled some sheets over the small living room area, and left me curled up on the floor.

I don't know how I ended up in my housemate's bed - and telling him had been the worst thing I had to do today.


Yes I was drunk sometime in October. And drunk in only the kind of way one should be drunk: irresponsibly unconsciously dead drunk.

Another one I tried to write a few days ago didn't get anywhere beyond two points:

Question and Answer / Echo and Bounce

1. Why is it that conversations necessarily follow the Q&A format? I ask you a question, you say something in response, and we both think we are having a conversation. It seems otherwise impossible to elicit information from anyone else: it's all about getting a response.

2. A 'Plop' is an utterance that is greeted with silence. Actually, it is more like an unacknowledged comment. It is a painful thing being a plopper: you never know if it is because what you just said is the single most stupid comment in a conversation.


Like the above painfully lousy drafts that never got published, some things are really better left unsaid. In the 'Better Left Unsaid' (BLU) bin, I've shafted a whole bunch of ideas which will probably never see the light of day.

For instance, I'd always wanted to write a travel blog that would go by the ostentatious name of 'Heart of Asia' (oddly enough, inspired by a particular techno chinois song). Unfortunately for me, I never did travel all that much - not during the time when I was earning a regular salary, and not even now when I'm a student. Not in Asia at least.

Then, there was the other idea about writing political trish-trash, something ala sammyboy forum clap-trap (like there isn't enough coffee shop political commentary already). I feared being flamed and ridiculed for what I think would most likely be naive commentary: better leave it for people without the common sense to shut up then.

The BLU bin is also filled with the (true) thoughts I have of the friends around me, and they are seldom very flattering. I generally don't see people optimistically: this means that I usually have the view that people around me possess more negative traits than positive ones. For instance, a friend of mine who is effusive and good natured to most other people; in my mind, he will be typified as being irritating, obsessed with unnecessary information, and choose inappropriate topics for conversations (think of that annoying kid who talks about the extent of his knowledge of various species of cockroaches while his parents are gagging over dinner).

I just can't see the positives in most people. What I really think about them thus are better left unsaid.

Like I said before, I'm too risk-averse.