The House of Random Crap
A clearinghouse for my crazed, deviant, trivial, irreverant & occasionally reflective thoughts.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006  

This really touched my heart. In my brother's words:

I let Jessie play with my old digital camera (a Canon Powershot G1) and she loved it. I stuck a 48MB card in it and she filled it up in no time. She kept asking me to "fix it", since it wouldn't take any more pictures. So I threw a 128MB card in there and she was off to take more pictures. She was very excited. The next morning, she woke up and she was all, "Daddy I want to take more pictures." Haha...that's MY GIRL!

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:50 PM |


Sunday, January 08, 2006  

For the longest time, I had shied away completely from most American network television programming, becoming disenfranchised which the bland, moronic crap that the networks had been foisting upon world. Then, a few years back, I stumbled across both the West Wing and 24 on the networks, and the Sopranos on cable, and I found a reason to follow a few programs, though never on a regular basis. Since these few shows had only made their way out to Asia via DVD boxed sets and file sharing technology was still limited to Napster and some clones, getting ahold of current episodes was a spotty proposition.

Lately, there has been a veritable explosion are really awesome programming, and with the emergence of BitTorrent, I find myself struggling to find time to watch the half dozen or more series that have gotten me excited about television again. When I'm not torrenting episodes of the Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I'm juggling 3 very different crime dramas (CSI, Monk, and Numb3rs), a foul-mouthed western (Deadwood), and hoping to finish off season 1 of Lost. Desperate Housewives has been in the queue for months, and in just over a week season 5 of 24 kicks off again.

While Numb3rs, Deadwood, and especially 24 rank among some of my favorite televesion of the moment if not of all-time, the one series that has me most excited is Battlestar Galactica. I was a fan of the campy original (the toy Viper and Cylon Raider being very popular with me and my brother Pete), and was very skeptical about the Sci-Fi Channel' "re-imagining/re-boot" of the series. Never gave it too much thought afterwards until the mini-series and season 1 were released on DVD, and when I watched it, I was simply stunned. This was no mere humans vs. aliens sci-fi fluff. This was serious human drama and political discourse, which simply happened to be taking place in an out space setting. Time Magazine, which rated the show among its best television for 2005, describes it much better than I ever could:

Most of you probably think this entry has got to be a joke. The rest of you have actually watched the show. Adapted from a cheesy '70s Star Wars clone of the same name, Galactica (returning in January) is a ripping sci-fi allegory of the war on terror, complete with religious fundamentalists (here, genocidal robots called Cylons), sleeper cells, civil-liberties crackdowns and even a prisoner-torture scandal. The basic-cable budget sometimes shows in the production, but the writing and performances are first-class, especially Edward James Olmos as the noble but authoritarian commander in charge of saving the last remnants of humanity. Laugh if you want, but this story of enemies within is dead serious, and seriously good.

I've spent weeks anticipating the new season, and spent practically every hour yesterday searching for the new torrent file. So here I am, blogging about the show so as not to let myself think about how frustrated I should be that my broadband connection is so bloody slow. Hurry up, dammit!!

(Incidentally, in my eager googling, I came across a very interesting article about how the Sci-Fi Channel experienced increased viewership as a result of Battlestar Galactica episodes being pirated via BitTorrent. Worth reading if you're into new technologies and business models).

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:03 AM |


Tuesday, January 03, 2006  

If you grew up on Golden Age Warner Brother cartoons like I did, then you probably can recall the one cartoon where Porky and Daffy, perpetually late sleepers and tardy for work, are threatened by their boss with termination if they are late one more time. Despite a trouble-laden evening of constantly interrupted sleep, they made an extraordinary effort to get to work on time, only to discover that it's Saturday, and there is no work today.

Well, I had a moment like that today.

Yesterday was a public holiday for all workers in Thailand, and today was a government holiday, though some corporations do give their staff today off as well. It's not easy to tell which ones do. I found out the hard way that my company was on holiday today. I was bitching & moaning this morning that I wasn't ready to go back to work. Despite having the entire previous week off for my annual leave, I was still recovering from what was an exhausting holiday (more on that later). So making my way to the office was a drag. Imagine my surprise when I got off the elevator to find the office lights out and the doors locked. A call to my boss confirmed that we did indeed have the day off, and her laughing at me only ensures that most of the people on the floor (CEO included) will learn that I am truly the company's very own village idiot. At least I got to go home, strip down to my civvies, and play computer games and watch cable for the rest of the day. Maybe if I bitch & moan even more, tomorrow will become a holiday too.

I had hoped to try and squeeze in one more blog before the end of 2005, but I just didn't have the time, so I guess for this first blog of 2006, I ought to make a resolution to blog at least once every 6 months. At the very least, if I have the time to spend the day in underwear playing computer games and watching cable, then I should at least make the effort to crank out a blog, eh?

So why have I been such a blog-slacker? Well, work is always a great excuse, but in my case, a valid one. These past several months have brought me to the brink of burn-out. After almost a year and a half on the job, I still haven't completed any acquisitions or taken the company overseas. But it has been a very busy period for Asian retail M&A, and I am up to my neck in multiple live deals. I'm not pulling all-nighters like I was when I was on the investment banking side of the business, but I have been logging on the hours, and what little free time I get I spend doing mindless crap (like playing computer games and watching cable). I can't totally complain though. There may be days when I dread waking up, when I get pissed off at my colleagues, when I just want to quit my job and become a full-time slacker, but at its very core, I have a great job. It's an exciting job that lets me work on sexy projects and interact with very senior executives both inside and outside the company. So net-net, after all the griping, I love my job (which is why I've held this job longer than any other since business school with the exception of Salomon Smith Barney, but give it time). That said, I'm still gonna be whining big-time when the snooze alarm goes off tomorrow morning.

But a heavy work schedule only partially explains my absence. I guess one of the big reasons why I haven't written in so long is that I just haven't been in the mood. Normally, when I lose the urge to write, it could stretch for weeks at a time. But in this case, half a year without a meaningful post a certainly a bloody long malaise. The timing stinks too, since Kevin, a good friend of Nicha and mine moved with his family to Texas after 10 years in Thailand, and my blog as his lifeline to the two of us (and current goings-on back in his adopted homeland). Sorry dude.

So how's about some random randomness?

Well, I got to visit China for the first time (I don't count the afternoon I spent in Shenzhen back in 2001, since I didn't do much more than buy a few pirated DVDs and get a foot massage). Since I very much enjoy travelling to new places, this was a big deal for me. Back in September, I accompanied several of our senior executives to Beijing to attend back-to-back retail conferences. We managed to see most of the cities retail centers, as well as visit the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. I had an awesome time, and am looking forward to getting out to other cities as Central shifts its China strategy into high gear. I am disappointed that I won't get visit Shanghai next week with the team do the the M&A deals I'm juggling, but givin the rather frigid climate in January, I guess its a blessing in disguise.

Nicha is also enjoying her job. She's starting to make waves in a big way, and I think that 2006 will be a breakout year for her. There are days though when the pressure gets to her. Add to that our resolution to start a family this year, and I think we might see either a scaling down of her hours later in the year, or perhaps even a break or change in her job. Who knows? Time will tell.

Cal had a disappointing season. They had turned a great 5-0 start (and potentially BCS-dominating season) into a marginally decent 6-4 season, eking a spot into (and at least winning) the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas (still can't get the bitter taste of these corporate sponsored bowl game titles out of my mouth). Well, at least we clobbered Stanford and claim that this was a "rebuilding year".

I can scarcely believe that it has been a year since the Asian Tsunami. I had for the most part blocked out the events and emotionally scarring experience of my volunteer work until about 2 weeks ago, when I glanced through a Time Magazine year-end photo retrospective and saw a photo of bodybags at one of the Thai temples. I was stunned, and almost broke out in tears. Even now, I find writing about the experience is hard. A year ago, I had emotionally desensitized myself to the horrors I saw. Since then, I've allowed myself fleeting moments to dwell on the Tsunami, but never for too long. I otherwise bury my memories in the deep recesses of my mind, and try not to let them break me down.

I've been fortunate enough to have been able to keep myself pre-occupied this past week and not think too much about the Tsunami: my mom & dad visited Thailand, their first since my wedding 4 years ago. In fact, with the exeption of the 1 day I was able to spend with them my last trip to the states in 2003, this has been the first time in 4 years that I really got to spend with my parents. I won't go into too much detail, since I'm about to crash for the evening, but it was a real joy to see them again. It was a tiring, exhausting week, but a great one. I've been posting photos on my Flickr page; perhaps I'll write about it in my next blog.

It feels great to be back. Talk to y'all again soon.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:17 PM |


Tuesday, November 22, 2005  

I am waaaaaaayyyy overdue on a blog. But not just yet.

I'm so friggin' tired. I need a vacation.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 9:36 PM |


Thursday, August 04, 2005  



I've always enjoyed Bizarro, but now that I'm in the retail business, I enjoy this particular strip all that much more.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:37 PM |


Sunday, July 31, 2005  

I've decided to avoid doing work on this Sunday afternoon in order to post some random updates on me and my life, for the benefit of friends and family who visit this blog to hear more than just me ranting on about Cal Football or some bizarre article I found trolling the Internet.

Work

Few complaints here. Having a great time working in the retail biz, though a bit concerned that I have yet to close any headline-grabbing M&A deals yet. I guess I'm gonna have to work extra-hard to make sure that my year 2 is a busy blockbuster of a year.

While my career is pushing forward nicely, Nicha's career is going absolute gangbusters. After being hounded by several major international money center banks, she finally got poached by one that made her an offer she couldn't refuse: the chance to head her own desk. As Head of Corporate Sales, she is in charge of marketing foreign exchange options and interest rate derivatives to Thailand's marquee corporate clients, which in a nutshell means getting to meet big shots and going to nice dinners. I'm hoping she has a great year and makes an obscene bonus so I can quit my job, be a house husband, and play X-Box all day. And maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt; stranger things have happened.

Family

No kids yet, so stop asking! Actually, now that it looks like neither Nicha nor I will be switching jobs anytime soon, we think this might be a good time to start squuezing out a few brats, since I'm pushing 35 and I can feel my ovaries shrivelling.

It seems like lately a lot of my friends are either 1) getting married, and unfortunatly telling me at the last minute (maybe they don't want me at the wedding, but are too polite to not invite me? Things that make you go hmmmmm.....), or 2) working on their 2nd babies. No point in any of this; just thought I'd mention it.

The rest of the family is doing well, and the next generation of Arks are getting cuter with each passing day:

(Photo: Pete's daughter Sydney's transformation into the Incredible Hulkling. You wouldn't like her when she's angry)


(Photo: Pete's daughter Jessica admires her handiwork after her evening teeth brushing)


(Photo: Don's adorable twin girls, Vanessa & Natalie. Nessie is the perpetually happy one, while Nat always looks curious and wide-eyed)


(Photo: Don's boy Jadon is enjoying an Easter Egg hunt)


Play

Nicha and I pretty much low-key homebodies, which basically means we don't get out much. We spend more than our fair share in the shopping malls and we do like to treat ourselves to nice meals, but we ain't pub & party people, which means it takes something special for us to drag our asses out of the comforts of our couch.

Since the early days of my return to Thailand, my friend Ami has been telling me about Suan Rot Fai, or Railway Park, so named because the former golf-course-turned-public-park is on land owned by the state railway authority. I never got around to checking it out, but Nicha went there a few weeks ago with her family and loved it. So last weekend, we met up with Ami and his wife Neung to rent a few bikes and make a few laps around the park. Awesome! It was crowded as hell, but seeing so much lush green was a pure joy; a true oasis in an urban pit. After Nicha and I spent some time at Singapore's East Coast Park, I had a major urge to buy a pair of rollerblades; a few days after visiting Suan Rot Fai, I went out to buy a pair. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon blading around such a huge park, especially since the bike we rented were so crappy; can't expect much from a Baht 20 (US$0.50) rental though.

One problem: I haven't been on rollerblades since my senior year in college. 13 years ago. And that was my first and only time. Tried them out this weekend, twice. Legs are sore, and I was not unlike a wobbly newborn deer, if you picture a wobbly newborn deer liquored up on one too many tequila poppers. But I did not eat concrete a single time, and managed to pick up a bit of speed during my 2 hours of practice. Not bad if I do say so myself. A few more days, and I'll be ready to enter the X-Games.

Cool stuff

I guess you could say I'm going through a weird version of a mid-life crisis, minus the marital infidelity and cool sports car. But I am trying to re-capture my youth (via the rollerblading. Sore! Ouch!), and I have been spending my money to buy cool toys that I want. Last year it was the iPod , PDA, and new laptop. This year it's been a new cellphone, digital camera, and rollerblades. I haven't been the only pack rat either; I think Nicha is on a quest to acquire every model of handbag that Coach has to offer, at the expense of me acquiring a really kick-ass plasma screen television. There are moments that we experience pangs of guilt at our hedonistic, materialistic ways, but then we remind ourselves that after 2 years of working like dogs without a vacation, we actually like to buy nice stuff. So now that we've rationalized our crass borgeois ways, our latest acquisition: his & hers Longines Evidenza watches.


I've been meaning to get another watch for sometime now. The Tag Heuer that I bought 5 years ago still works great, but after wearing the same watch every single day, I thought it was time to mix things up a bit. Last night, Nicha and I were at the mall to get some furniture for the house, and since Central Department Store is in the middle of a big watch sale, I wanted to see if there was anything I liked, not expecting to open my wallet so close to closing. Instead, Nicha and I walk out with a pair. It worked out nicely, since I wanted something that didn't make me look like an effeminate twat when I wore it, and Nicha wanted something that would appreciate in value on the second hand watch market. So now we got a pair of investments hanging on our wrists. Better make sure I take it off when I go rollerblading...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 5:27 PM |


Saturday, July 16, 2005  

Bruce Campbell is keeping it real. I highlighted his last quote, which is the best.
____________________________________

Bruce Campbell Rips Hollywood

July 14, 2005 - Complaining that Hollywood is "creatively bankrupt," fan favorite Bruce Campbell ripped into the studio system and the recent spate of summer blockbusters at today's Comic-Con Q&A session. The cult actor cycled through the films that came out this summer and deconstructed each one.

"First of all, every A-movie is a now a B-movie," he said. Any movie that relies on costumes and aliens falls into the latter category, according to Campbell. Speaking about War of the Worlds, he complained that the idea was tired, stating that "every 50 years they do something with that idea."

On Batman Begins, he said "Well, this was a good one. It took 'em five tries." On Bewitched he simply said, "Hollywood has a file drawer 30 years deep." Later in the presentation, he added "I urge you not to support the same horsesh*t you're getting out of Hollywood." Then, tongue firmly in cheek, he added, "Except Sky High," which he appears in.

He didn't hold back comments about other member of the acting fraternity. When asked about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, he said "Well, I can guarantee that I don't give a rat's ass about them." He repeatedly jabbed at Ashton Kutcher, joking that the actor would reprise his role in the Evil Dead remake. He even called out Ben Affleck more than once, stating "…William Holden can kick Ben Affleck's ass any day of the week."

But his special affection was reserved for the MPAA, which he referred to as "stupid" and "embarrassing." "The MPAA can kiss my ass so hard it can come out the other side." He has no love for network censors, either. He stated that it was wrong that violence is much more acceptable than nudity on television. "You can shoot a boobie, but you can't kiss it."

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:53 PM |


Wednesday, July 13, 2005  

With only 52 days to go before Cal kicks off against Sac State, I'm starting to get that college football itch. Having lost so many seniors, it will be interesting to see what Tedford does with the team, and if the Bears can sustain the momentum the team has worked hard to build up over the last few seasons. I want to get really amped and excited, but given the Cardiac Kids' record over the past decade, I'm gonna stay cautiously optimistic. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are football powerhouses.

Here's an excellent synopsis and fair assessment of Cal's prospects this season, courtesy of SI.

52 days....
_________________________________________

CALIFORNIA

The worries are different around Strawberry Canyon these days. Fans once fretted over having more wins than losses, whether the coach would be around the next season and by how many points they would be stomped by traditional rival Stanford.

Since Jeff Tedford took over, the worries are of a different variety. Can Cal be a BCS bowl team in 2005? Will Tedford be lured away by another program or an NFL team? And how badly will the Bears beat Stanford in the Big Game?

Indeed, expectations are high coming off a 10-2 season that ended in deflating fashion when Cal was squashed by Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. Tedford became a wealthy man by signing a contract extension that runs through the '09 season. The official announcement came down that Cal is going to renovate aging Memorial Stadium.

And while the long-term health of the program has never been better, the '05 Golden Bears figure to take half a step back. Cal will be without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, tailback J.J. Arrington, All-America defensive end Ryan Riddle and a host of other key contributors.

"This is a different team," Tedford said. "We lost 26 guys from last year's team and a lot of them were seniors. We're going to make mistakes."

OFFENSE
Tedford's most imposing project will be turning junior college transfer Joseph Ayoob into another Rodgers. Ayoob blossomed at City College of San Francisco, where he was considered one of the top junior college recruits in the country. The starting job, however, wasn't handed to him during spring practice. He must first beat out redshirt freshman Nate Longshore, who isn't as quick on his feet as Ayoob, but is an adept passer with a big arm.

"We have two guys who we know can run the team," Tedford said. "I probably won't make a decision about the starter until the week of our first game."

As a true freshman, tailback Marshawn Lynch averaged 8.8 yards per carry as Arrington's backup. Now, the question becomes, can he be that productive as the Bears' featured back?

The receiving corps was wiped out by graduation. Sophomore Robert Jordan is the only returning player with any significant experience -- he caught 29 passes for 332 yards last season.

Former Parade All-American Lavelle Hawkins, who transferred to Cal from City College of San Francisco, and incoming Parade All-American DeSean Jackson, the Bears' top recruit, should make an immediate impact at wide receiver.

Cal's offensive line, which could be the most talented unit on the team, features four returning starters, including All-America center Marvin Philip. Philip and right tackle Ryan O'Callaghan, both seniors, were first-team All-Pac-10 selections last season.

DEFENSE
Defensive end Nu'u Tafisi recorded 16 sacks last season en route to earning All-America honors at Mt. San Antonio (Calif.) Junior College. He will be asked to step in for Riddle, who was sensational as a senior for the underrated Cal defense.

"Tafisi has the talent," Tedford said. "It's a matter of the learning curve. He has to get used to the speed of the game and the transition from junior college."

Part-time starter Ryan Foltz is the only returning linebacker on a unit that was wiped out by graduation. Tedford will attempt to patch the holes by adding junior college All-Americans Desmond Bishop and Mickey Pimentel. Redshirt freshman Worrell Williams, the half-brother of former Miami star D.J. Williams, will also fight for a starting spot.

In the secondary, the Bears return rover Donnie McCleskey and cornerbacks Harrison Smith, Daymeion Hughes and Tim Mixon. McCleskey was an All-Pac-10 selection.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:13 AM |


Monday, July 11, 2005  

There is a new man in Nicha's life.

A dark, handsome stranger. Tough & rugged, yet deep & sensitive. He speaks little, but his large eyes are wells of emotion. He's playful, energetic, affectionate, uninhibited. His smile melts Nicha's heart. Who is this rival for Nicha's love and attention?

He is Nong Bank, the 18-month old boy whose parents are part of the construction crew working on the interiors of one of the houses on our street. His family is living on site during the course of the project, so our street is his domain.

Nicha has opened our home to him, and he has turned our kitchen into a playground-slash-wonderland of exploration. He is curious, loving to explore the drawers and cabinets and closets and knick-knacks that abound. He is tough, often smacking his head opening a cabinet or slamming his fingers as he closes them, crying sometimes as a long as 2 seconds before shrugging it off before exploring the next drawer. He is a man of few words, choosing his words ("hai", "mah", "blah") wisely. His limited vocabulary is composed of actual Thai words, though he does tend to grossly misuse them, with 80% the objects he points to apparently being a "mai".

He also runs around naked and regularly pees on our floor. Now how am I supposed to compete with manliness like that?

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 9:20 PM |


Thursday, July 07, 2005  

Perhaps for the first time ever, I clicked on a banner ad. There it was, at the top of CNN.com, an advertisement for upcoming PBS special for "Gun, Germs & Steel", based on Jared Diamond's book tracing the 13,000-year history of human civilization. I read this book when it first came out in 1997, and it remains one of the most fascinating books of non-fiction or history I have ever read. Now if I can just find a way to get ahold of the episodes...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 5:57 PM |
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