Sunday, June 29, 2008

Diablo III

Eight years after Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, that insanely popular expansion to its equally well received predecessor, Blizzard has finally *gasp* resurrected the Diablo series with the unveiling of Diablo III. And from the looks of it, Diablo III appears to stay true to the original storyline and game play, promising to be wilder, better and darker than before.

Which means this is one game I WILL be queueing up sic pre-ordering even if it means I have to take leave for it. After all, Diablo and Diablo 2 & the latter expansion were highly enjoyable if only a little addictive in the beginning. All the skipping of classes, nonchalantly strolling past the teachers' office, out of the bright red gates and hopping on a bus home just to play Diablo and subsequently thereafter Diablo 2 and the expansion.

Even if the quests were the same after having completed one round of the game at normal difficulty, the allure of Diablo remained so much so that I was able to level my assassin, sorceress, paladin, necromancer and paladin to levels well above 80, which naturally involved numerous runs at hell difficulty and 15 mins fights with the major bosses. There was something gratifying about plowing through the endless hordes of demons and fixing together sick items/armour.

What helped too in a way I guess was the tight storyline which like most Blizzard games makes sense and is highly attractive to those partial to the fantasy genre. Nothing like a bit of lore to put some meaning behind what would otherwise be wholly and absolutely brainless slaughter. Which isn't too bad in itself but it's always nice to have something extra.

I still remember the first time I saw the cinematics at the end of the acts in Diablo 2 and Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction, particularly act 3 and the start of act 5. I was enthralled. In a way, I almost wished, it were a movie and not just a cinematic. But that's how good their storyline is. Which is why I will wait for Diablo 3's release with bated breath.

I leave you now with the 2 cinematics which sent chills down my spine, Diablo's return to hell (end of Act 3) and Baal's breach of the gates of Sescheron (start of act 5) as well as the very short teaser of the official Blizzard trailer for Diablo 3 replete with a scene that could have come straight out from Saruman's orcs and the siege of Helm's Deep in LotR.

The Three Prime Evils (Diablo's return)

Baal's breach of Sescheron

Official trailer for Diablo 3 (Teaser)

And the Heavens shall tremble.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Days are Numbers

There are songs which you just want to sing along to, there are some which just get stuck in your head and there are others where the lyrics and song itself are incredibly meaningful, such listening to it is therapeutic. Days are Numbers by The Alan Parsons Project is all three.

There is always something appealing about going on a journey, leaving the well-trodden path along with the attendant baggages that have been accumulated over time. To leave familiarity and the past behind whether they are mindsets, dysfunctional relationships or fucked up Exes, and just venture again into the unknown. All because of some internal primal urging to do so.

And when you do set out, remember, days are numbers, count the stars for we can only go so far. And someday, someday you'll know just where you are. Enjoy.

Days are Numbers (The Traveller) by The Alan Parsons Project

- The Alan Parsons Project Lyrics

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shopping, Sweat and Sluts.

If the Great Singapore Sale is the time when Singaporeans decide to head out and raid the malls to restock on necessities or just for some hardcore shopping therapy on account of the significant discounts/offers; the annual PC show must be the time when 75% of Singaporeans decide it's time to get a new desktop/laptop/printer/ (insert random gadget) and head on down to Suntec City Convention Halls. That's not including the geeks or tech-savvies who make their annual pilgrimage down to the jam packed exhibition halls without fail and inevitably end up with something ("oh look, a new thumbdrive!") regardless of whether they actually need it.

I never liked crowds, certainly not the kind you'd find at the PC show, where one would have to literally shove and elbow your way through the teeming mass of humanity just to reach the desired destination or flee. In terms, of PPS (People Per Shove), the layman's no brainer indicator of human density and potential stampedes, an outing at the annual PC show is only second to the horrific human jam of screaming party-goers and grope happy bangala workers that was the Millenium Countdown in '99.

Which is why I usually avoid the Show like the plague, unless
(1) I need a computer desperately (negative)
(2) Someone special (to me then) needs(ed) a computer desperately. (Check)
(3) I feel morose after having to come in to work for the third consecutive Sunday and decide to go 'see see' and grab something. (Check)

So I headed down after work at what turned out to be the worst possible time, the last two hours
before the Show ended, which meant the floor was strewn with downtrodden and crushed pamphlets, exhibitors were yelling hoarsely about the latest discounts and last minute special offers like auctioneers on crack while the crowd swelled and jostled with frantic determination.

After wandering aimlessly for some 15 mins, I eventually settled for the Samsung P2 mp3 player after toying with the idea of grabbing the Samsung I-770 pda phone which while smart looking with decent features, left me with the unshakable impression that it wasn't quite there yet, as in something better and more worthwhile would come out soon.

But more than that, it was the startled recognition of the rate at which I was burning through the hard earned moola. Not that the outflow was no longer sustainable but having run through the reserves with the various rounds of compulsory treats and substantial shopping therapy and starting on the actual salary meant it was getting uncomfortably close. Which naturally made me slightly finicky.

Settled for the Samsung P2 which on hindsight wasn't a bad decision at all. Nope, considering Samsung launched the very cool and functional Samsung Omnia and Starhub had a crazy offer which was simply too good to let up. I know I'd be cussing myself to the high heavens if I'd plonked down $700 bucks on an outdated and decidedly inferior I-770. So I had no qualms digging in a little more for the Omnia and going over to the green side. Even if it means I need to exclude Soup Spoon and the Sandwich Shop plus varied other ATAS outlets from my daily lunch menu next month.

I mean it's decidedly better to be sitting in Maxwell and using an Omnia than having lunch at Soup Spoon and trying to get the increasing erratic Sony Ericsson phone to function normally and not dissolve into a meaningless jumble of numbered alphabets. To avoid the expected torrent of abuse at my unabashed banality (Shopping therapy is not philosophy. Shopping= New Things= Happy before thinking of bills. It's banal. Face it.), I move on.

I signed up for Hot Yoga, Bikram Yoga to be exact at one of the specialised yoga studios near my workplace. After all, I hadn't been exercising regularly if at all for months and the thought of working up a sweat and burning a ton of calories while getting all *ahem* flexible was highly appealing. Now the 50 class card did cost a veritable bomb but the first three classes in that week and I felt great thereafter. Nothing like working up a good sweat.

Basically, what this hot yoga thing entails is performing yoga in a room heated to 40'c which is good cause you stretch and sweat more and can be more than a little tiring because you sweat like a pig and feel like a baked piece of meat half the time. All for a seeming eternity of 90 mins. So yes, some forms of torture like the aforesaid are actually good for you. Won't be a human pretzel for the foreseeable future but the workout is good.

Now Sluts. I'm sure everyone has heard the tired joke about the village bicycle, you know that one which everyone just loves to ride? Well love them or hate them, sluts are here to live. Hell, you may even be one too. I've been encountering a fair share lately due to the nature of my work, just not the kind or sex I might be remotely interested in taking for a ride.

From Husbands who complain about their wives and their purported infidelity ,"She's been sleeping with men!" Long pause. "Other men, I mean." (I'm glad you noticed) to Sluts who complain about other sluts and/or their husbands. "So what if I got a boyfriend, you know how many women he has in Batam??" She waves both hands for emphasis, the numerous rings clinking in disapproving tandem.

But really, I couldn't care if the client is a slut or the client's husband/wife is a slut. All that really matters is that the client, slut or otherwise, pays the bills on time, furnishes the requisite deposit and not scream about how rude my secretary is, when you woman have a seriously screwed mindset. Good lord and you wonder why I need shopping therapy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Show me the money

I don't know why but I still find it a bit mind boggling when the amount I bill in a single day is a little over half the monthly salary.

Perhaps it's still the dormant lay man that remains confounded by the concept that one can and does bill clients a seemingly obscene amount of money for a single day's work (though when actually doing the work, it doesn't seem so obscene). Or perhaps the startled employee that uses his salary as a general yardstick and remains just a little disturbed that technically speaking, his entire month's salary can be accounted for with two days of work. Or perhaps both.

Billing is all nice and dandy but as any lawyer worth his bill salt knows, what really matters is getting your clients to pay the bill on time and with minimal hassle. After all $1,000 on hand is a whole lot better than $10,000 in a bill which client (or rather the soon-to-be erstwhile client) simply refuses to pay.

Which is why when the time comes to bill (and the modus operandi is to bill often and progressively rather than hit the client with a huge chunk at the end and face the prospect of him/her running off without paying a cent) my personal observation and experience is that corporate clients tend to be more compliant, paying the bills on time, less likely to press for discounts and often promptly provide further requested sums for anticipated work to be done.

Individuals, by and far, tend to be more problematic when it comes to bills. Which in a way is understandable because an individual (assuming they're not the dirt rich and/or principled ones) feels the pinch of having to foot the bills more keenly than say a corporate entity which is faceless and arguably has a greater capacity to pay. But understanding where they might be coming from doesn't make the job of asking for moola any easier or less necessary.

In fact, the converse is usually true. Because you know there is a chance that Mr so and so won't pay either because 1) he indicates to you that he wants a discount or 2) wants a lot of work to be done but hems and haws when it comes to footing the bill, it becomes all the more imperative that you call the bugger and bludgeon him into paying the said bill.

Which is one reason why asking clients to pay the bill for matrimonial matters can often be a tedious, draggy affair that ranges from gentle cajoling to outright pay-or-we-discharge now over the phone, correspondence etc. Thankfully, with the exception of a few particularly nasty cases, the 'pay or discharge' cases tend to be few and far between.

And for matrimonial cases, clients usually want an inordinate amount of correspondences, meetings, telephone conversations, urgent applications to prevent spouse from bashing them/running off with the kids/threatening to set the flat on fire, etc etc. And when the time comes to pay, they (some not all, thank god) whine and snivel over the phone, ( But why so expensive huh? Only divorce ma. Yes ma'am only divorce and your 58273281 pages of correspondence), ask for discounts, try to reduce the further deposit sum and haggle over things like 'Er, next hearing how much? Maybe you pass me the documents you want to use, i go out and photocopy.' Add the inherent emotional undercurrents that are ever present in matri cases to the concoction and the outcome can be singularly unpleasant.

So sometimes you talk very nicely, in firm, measured tones and sometimes you scream at them. Haven't had to opt for the latter yet, though a number were certainly told off in no uncertain terms that a price had to be paid for proper legal advice and service, a price that was fixed and agreed from the onset, certainly not to be haggled over the phone like a housewife buying fish at the local wet market.

Billing, unpleasant perhaps but wholly necessary. I mean come on la, think about it this way if it helps you, we're providing a service, you pay for the service, the said sum from the bill isn't pocketed by the Associate whom you may be haggling with over the bill. At the end of the day, it's a job. So if you like/desire/demand good and prompt service, you should be prepared to/jolly well pay the said bill on time.

Then your lawyer will spend more time doing your work and less time trying to elicit some moola from you for work done on your file. And of course we won't need to have to bill you for the time we spent on the phone with you while you bargained/raged/screamed at him/her for a bill we are expected and required to issue to you. Chew on that ya?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Nuffnang pays.

I've always been sceptical about all the earn moola while you do absolutely nothing schemes. If anything, common sense and personal experience has made it clear that things which are too good are often too good to be true, or last.

Still it was rather pleasant to receive the cheque from nuffnang for doing nothing other than leaving a couple of non-intrusive advert spots on the blog. It may not be much but hey, should be enough for a week's lunch. Thanks Nuffnang. ^^

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Day in Court

So this week has been really hectic yet interesting, certainly the busiest by far, it's still a little surreal. That kind of slightly breathless feeling one gets when everything seems to whizz by and one is left a little disoriented. Or perhaps its the lack of sleep and copious amounts of coffee and tidbits the seccie has been plying me with.

But I certainly never envisaged myself having to hold the fort against weepy clients, get a DIY crash course on PPO proceedings, go for my first hearing in chambers and make submissions in open court by the second week from call, let alone in the span of a week. Everything went by in a blur which is good I guess, gives you less time and opportunity to freak out.

The PPO hearing was totally unexpected, I'd been expecting the contested custody hearing in 2 weeks time, time enough to get the affidavits and relevant plans out, etc, so it was kind of a shocker to get a call from the client whose file I'd just taken over from the departing partner and learn that an EO and PPO had been taken out against the client and her mother by her psycho husband and was up for hearing in 2 days.

It didn't exactly help that no one left had ever done a contested PPO hearing. It was strange blundering about, figuring out what the procedures were and then deciding on impulse to do brief submissions with a semi-proper bundle of authorities even though it was strictly speaking a mentions stage in open court but with the ability to raise issues.

To cut to the chase, I thought I was late when I arrived, being 20 mins past the scheduled time but thankfully as is usually the case for Sub and Family court (but not Supreme Court) the judge was later. The start was almost an anti-climax, yours truly was nodding off when the summons number and names of parties were called. So after the usual formalities were dispensed with I first obtained leave to make the brief submissions then referred the judge to the relevant subs and the bundle of documents and wanted to launch into the oral submission. But he indicated that he wished to read the subs first.

Whereupon the usual background titter amongst the lawyers and the odd person in the gallery immediately died down. Which made for an awkward 10 mins or so as the judge read thru the subs and flipped through the tabbed documents and I kept alternating my line of sight between my own set of documents and the judge, just to get some indication of when he was done. After a while, my neck started to ache and I settled for staring at some non-discript white panel a little above his head.

Still that strange silence was a little unsettling and as I noticed the female Sikh lawyer beside me looking up from time to time and smiling, I just leaned over on impulse," People hardly ever make brief submissions at this sort of mentions eh?" Whereupon she smiled and said,"Yeah, I don't think I've ever seen it being done at this stage. Certainly not with documents and written subs." Smile. "You representing that little old lady and petite one beside her?" she asked. "Yep, client's psycho husband took out the EOs against them, it's crazy and he's the one harrassing them." " I can see that, oh he's the husband, he's got quite the reputation (cuz the bugger was discharged by all three previous lawyers) " Smile.

It was strange having such a tete a tete in the middle of the proceeding, with the judge reading the subs and us talking in muted tones, it was almost like being in school, sneaking a moment to chit chat with one's classmate while the teacher was pre-occupied. Though here the rest of the "classmates" were old birds and I think I was the only one younger than 35.

So again to cut a long story short cuz i'm damn tired, the oral submissions itself was strangely relaxed, certainly no where like that moot session as year one students, where making a case to the teacher 'judges' with one's back facing the students, had me feeling like a nervous wreck, my knees feeling like they would give way any moment.

So at the end the Judge basically said while the case was convincing, he could not deny an extension of EO just based on evidence that was untested in a trial and unless the guy's complaint is so incredible and spurious, he would have to give the madman the benefit of the doubt till the actual trial. though he did state that the EO would not be held against my client nor would it be taken into account at trial.

With that, Judge adjourned the next mention to a later date as the sod said he would be getting a lawyer to represent him and gave further directions. The lawyers beside me were surprisingly friendly thereafter, enquiring about a partner, etc. On hindsight, the submissions wasn't necessary but still i'm glad in a way i did it, rather than just the standard YH, I have just been instructed, requesting XX weeks adjournment to file YYY.

And so now I've been instructed to attend a mediation session and present client's agenda all by my lonesome self. Ah well, hope it goes decently well. Ok shag gonna head to bed cuz tml's client is a #$%^ bed of @#$% roses. They and their It's urgent-you are-only-working on-one(my)-file-draft-4-letters-by afternoon-u got court?-fuck u kind of urgent. bah. Well i get my revenge billing em to the high heavens. F. You.