Thursday, July 17, 2008

Arrow Stealth With Scarecrows

This post consists of two parts. First part is a story, based on the famous Chinese novel "Romance of the Three Kingdoms". The story was based on how much I could remember from the novel, as I was simply re-writing it with my own flow of words, hence it might not be 100% accurate. Nevertheless, the main points are there to lead me to the second part. The second part is what we actually experience, here right now, where a vow was broken merely by silly assumptions.

Part 1 - Arrow Stealth

Zhuge Liang was stranded in the land of Wu. He had no time. Being the most famous military strategist of all time, he could not have let his life hanging on a thread just like that. The Kingdom of Shu needed him. The king, Liu Bei, needed him. And he needed to supply enough weapons for his temporary acquantance, Zhou Yu of Wu, to wage war against the tyrannic Cao Cao of Wei waiting at the other side of the river bank - waiting to attack. He was given 10 days to produce 100,000 arrows, lest he will be beheaded together with other prisoners.

Zhuge Liang raised his hand to shoulder height, pressed his fingers against his thumb, and gazed at the stars in the clear starry night. A short while later he exclaimed, "Three days!" His servants were shocked!! You were given 10 days for a task that would take a month, and now you said 3 days; are you mad, thought the servants.

"Three days?" Zhou Yu was stunned, and was seeking clarification.

"Yes. In three days, you will have 100,000 arrows against Cao Cao. You can have my word."

"If you say so, then so be it. But let me remind you. If you fail, you will never get to return to the land of Shu anymore, for you will be entombed here."

One day passed. Zhuge Liang was enjoying his time around the palace of Sun Quan (king of Wu), pacing around, enjoying the lotus blossoming in the beautiful pool, drinking wine, playing chess, and playing qin. He seemed oblivious of his apparent death sentence that he imposed to himself. Many servants of the palace thought that he was enjoying the last moments of his life. However, Zhou Yu thought otherwise. Being a smart military strategist himself (to the kingdom of Wu), he was getting suspicious of what Zhuge Liang was up to.

Two days passed. Zhuge Liang was still not making effort to call the blacksmiths to begin with arrow manufacturing. Even the blacksmiths themselves were stunned. One of them said, "He is crazy. If he wanted me to make arrows for him tonight, I will tell him straight in his face to go to hell! No one, not all of us, could make 100,000 arrows in one night. It is impossible. The guy is crazy, let him die tomorrow."

The sun was about to set. The weather seemed clear, but at moments a thin layer of mist could be seen hovering above the wide river that separated the palace and the vast army of Cao Cao. Zhuge Liang smiled. He knew he had calculated it correctly. He always knew what was to come. Three days was not a coincidence after all.

He called Zhou Yu's servants to gather as many scarecrows as possible, and placed it in a gigantic warship. After everything was done, he asked the servants to put some lanterns on both sides of the ship, and placed a few gongs and horns on the boat.

By the time the ship was equipped according to Zhuge Liang's commands, the river was completely covered with mist. It was too foggy that the visibility was poor - you cannot even see your outstretched hand. Zhuge Liang smiled again. With confidence, he boarded the warship, and commanded the servants to set the warship to the center of the river and hid inside it.

At the center of the river, he ordered the servants to light all the lanterns and made as much noise as possible with the gongs and horns. And so they did.

On the other side of the bank, Cao Cao's army was alerted and alarmed. How could they be, coming with a small army and attack us with this heavy fog around us? We must stop them, their chief commander thought. Thus, he ordered all his archers to deploy themselves and started shooting the giant Wu warship with arrows.

The waves of arrows were all swept towards the warship. In about 5 minutes, all the scarecrows on the exposed side of the warship was filled with arrows. Zhuge Liang then commanded the servants to rotate the ship, so that the previously unexposed side of the ship would face Cao Cao's army. After that, once again the servants were called to make as much noise as possible.

"That cannot be!! Wu army is weak! Sun Quan could not have so many soldiers left!" The chief commander panicked once more. He commanded all his archers to once again shoot as many arrows into the mist towards the feeble lights on the ship.

In another 5 minutes, the scarecrows on the other side of the ship was filled with arrows. Satisfied, Zhuge Liang commanded the servants to sail the ship back to the bank where Wu palace was. After collecting all the arrows trapped on the scarecrows - voila, they got more than 100,000 arrows!

Zhou Yu was furious, for he could not kill Zhuge Liang! The former was jealous! "I must be a cleverer man, but now I am downplayed!" he thought. He nevertheless smiled and greeted Zhuge Liang at his success of supplying what he demanded. In his heart, he was scheming to kill Zhuge Liang at other times. Never did he know that he would be killed soon, not in war, but by the counter-schemes Zhuge Liang had to plan against himself.

Part 2 - Disgust over broken promise

An engineer was asked mby his manager to supply a table summarizing his findings by 2pm, so that the manager could present the report at 3pm. However, at 1pm, the manager went into the engineer's cubicle, reprimanding him for not taking his effort to compile the summary table. Earlier that day, this manager had given this engineer loads of assignments that stopped him from doing something else.

This situation sounds familiar huh... of course it never happened on me. It happened on somewhere in KL. Btw, the story not yet ended.

The engineer calmly opened his workbook, pressed a pre-programmed macros, and within 2 minutes - voila, the complete summary table was generated! The manager was looking - lak seh (lose face) lor...

What if Zhou Yu did like what the manager did? He could have said, "Zhuge Liang is showing no effort of making the arrows. Let's kill him!!!" History has to be re-written liao.

What if the law enforcers told everyone, "DSAI was commanded to report to us at 2pm, or else he will be arrested. He did not show any signs of wanting to show up at 1pm. Let's arrest him, now, at 1pm!!" THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY!!! They just attempted to kill Zhuge Liang and try ti re-write history!!! What a disgrace!

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