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


Tuesday, August 27, 2002  

I can’t seem to kick the habit.

It’s all consuming, devouring all my money, all my time, all my free will. Now I am awake all night, asleep all morning, and getting my fix in the afternoon and evening. I can’t seem to break my addiction.

I can’t seem to stop buying DVDs.

OK, OK, I am being the major drama queen, but I have been away from home for a long time, and a lot of neat stuff has come out (I should perhaps buy more VCDs instead, but, oh well, too late for today!). I just finished watching season 4 of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, which has always been one of my more favorite seasons. I’ve also discovered that “The West Wing” is my new favorite show. I watched the first 11 episodes of season 1 on DVD. I had them with me all through Europe and the U.S. but never found the motivation to watch them. I ripped through all 10+ hours last night into the morning, and raced out today to get episodes 12-22, which I will like spend all night watching. I am extremely impressed with the writing, blending a stylish sense of drama, a smart and glib sense of humor, and engaging character development. It’s not even fair to say “development,” as the characters are fully-developed, complex personalities from episode 1; the writing is so strong that the viewer has a sense of having known them for a long time. And to personify such strong characters is an outstanding ensemble cast. Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe are the most recognizable actors on the show, but many of the lesser knowns as still highly recognizable from the diverse body of work each has completed (I bet most viewers would have a nagging sense of familiarity for most of the supporting cast). I rate The West Wing among the top echelon of television programs, up there with The Sopranos, ER, Cheers, and MASH.

I also picked up the 10th Anniversary Edition of "Reservoir Dogs." Most people were introduced to Quentin Tarantino through this colossal masterpiece of filmmaking (“True Romance” was actually my introduction to Tarantino, also another favorite of mine). Like much of his early work, Dogs is characterized by a slick, edgy writing style and cynical humor, with characters that seem very human except a little bit over the edge. And of course, the violence. Unlike John Woo (one of Tarantino's influences, incidentally), who likes to assault his audience with a non-stop barrage of double-fisted gunfighters and limitless bullets, Tarantino’s violence is sparse, but hits you with the force of a sledgehammer. Michael Madsen’s Mr. Blonde and his infamous cop torture scene will go down in film history as perhaps one of the funniest-yet-intensely-disturbing scenes ever. Also, the well-argued translation for Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” is well worth the rental or purchase price of this movie.

I also bought a VCD of “White Squall.” I know very little about this movie except that it stars Jeff Bridges (always a great actor to watch, especially having recently watch “The Contender” for the 20th time) and has something to do with sailing. Yes, it all feeds into my sailing kick. The movie I would really like to track down is “Wind,” about a high-speed sailing race. It stars Matthew Modine (a solid but grossly underrated actor) and Jennifer Grey (who I loved in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and hated [along with the film] in “Dirty Dancing,” and who, incidentally, metamorphosized into quite a hottie after her nose job). While the plot and acting are supposedly drab, the cinematography and sailing sequences are reputed to be fantastic. Unfortunately, this obscure movie is hard to find on VHS, much less VCD or DVD. I’ll have to wait until the next time I’m in the states and see if Blockbuster carries it. By the way, a piece of interesting entertainment trivia: Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, and Christian Slater not only started together in "The Contender," but also played husband, wife, and son in the movie "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (while Gary Oldman, also in The Contender, co-starred with Slater previously in the aforementioned True Romance). An even more interesting piece of trivia: Jennifer Grey once appeared with the TV series Jeanie Bueller, Jennifer Aniston, in an episode of Friends in which she played Rachael's former friend, Mindy, who became engaged to Rachael's jilted beau, Barry.

In addition to being such a total slug in front of the TV, I’m become a total computer junkie, spending endless, wasteful hours playing Diablo II, undoubtedly my favorite computer game of all time, and one that I have played for almost 2 years now. However, I resolved that if I’m going to spend this much time in front of my computer, I’d at least learn something new, and so I’ve decided to finally figure out how to use my digital camcorder and how to use my software to edit the videos. I feel kind of guilty for buying it and never really using it. It’s a Sony DCR-PC9, a nifty little gadget. I should have used it on my vacation, since the next best use would be for when Nicha and I have a kid, which is no time in the immediate future. At least I’ll have mastered it when Baby Jessica and her cousin comes along.

Enough babbling; Diablo II and West Wing awaits…

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 8:01 PM |


Friday, August 23, 2002  

I just found out that I didn't make it to the 2nd round of interviews at ING. There are many reasons why I shouldn't be too disappointed, the primary ones being that this was my first interview of the process and that ING isn't all that high on the prestige scale of investment banks. But I'm still pissed and cranky anyways. Rejection is never pretty, and getting it from a bank that, on paper and when I put on airs, is "beneath" me just makes it worse. On top of that, it means I have no other leads at the moment.

I admit that I am getting a bit scared. I don't mind being out of work per se, but this past interview has shown me just how far my skills have atrophied. Additionally, the money situation is loomimg large. I suppose from an outside perspective, I've been making some monumental mistakes. Keeping this insanely expensive apartment while being out of work has been a major drain on the savings, and I saw my friend Ken go through the same thing when he lost his job at Salomon and held out for a job without any success. I have seen my friends Roy and Linda pack up and leave Hong Kong in a bid to stem the cash outflow, but when I see the effort that Linda has gone through moving multiple times in a matter of a few months, I feel that the rent money is almost worth avoiding the hassle. I know my folks are still pretty pissed about me taking that around the world vacation, which did accelerate the drain on my savings. For that, I can only claim selfish reasons: I was going batty here in Hong Kong. Plus, I had never had the chance to do that kind of travel when I was younger, and this was perhaps a sort of "catch up"; it was a present to myself. The big concern is getting Nicha up here. Having her here would be a great boost to morale, plus I've always been inspired to work harder when she's around. Also, if her company gives her even a partial housing allowance as part of her compensation package, I would be able to stretch what's left of my savings much much farther.

Well, definitely not the best news to wake up to first thing in the morning, even if it is 11 am.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:42 AM |
 

I miss my wife.

I was thinking earlier about her childlike innocence which I find so endearing. In fact, I was chatting with my friend Nera on Yahoo! Messenger when 2 of my favorite stories of Nicha came up in conversation. The first involves Shamu, Seaworld's mascot killer whale. Nicha first learned about Shamu from a television program she saw back when she was 11, and has ever since had a dream of going to Seaworld to see him perform. Last year, as we made preparations for our post-wedding California trip, she expressed an interest in going down to San Diego to visit Seaworld. I thought that was a great idea, since I hadn't been there since I was perhaps the same age as she was when she first learned about the whale. I did have to ask her "You DO realize that this won't be the original Shamu, right?" and she was like "What?!? What do you mean?" I told her that the Shamu she saw on tv when she was 11 was probably retired, if not dead. She was horrified and unbelieving, so I did some research on the Internet, and even discovered that the Shamu she saw back then wasn't even the original Shamu, as she had been harpooned during capture (the whale, not my wife), and died before reaching port (the Shamu she saw on tv was likely Shamu III or even IV). I also learned that each Seaworld has about 4-6 whales that they use for shows, and that they are called "Shamu" for show purposes (like an honorary title), but that they each have their own names. She was like a kid who learned that Santa Claus did exist, but was a gay ex-convict who ate the Easter Bunny for dinner. She has no interest in going to Seaworld anymore, and she refers to something as "shamu" now when she wants to call it "bullshit" ("That's total shamu" or "What a load of shamu"). Poor poor traumatized kid.

More recently (last week, actually), when I was telling her about the Golden Globe round the world race I was reading about in "A Voyage for Madmen," she was amazed that it took the winner and lone finisher 10 months to complete his voyage, especially when she read a story about a man who completed an around the world trip in 80 days. I had to explain to her that 1) the man she read about completed his trip by train, steamship, and other means available to him in the 1800's, and more importantly 2) that Phineas Fogg, the man who completed the journey, was a fictional character in Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days." Another shocking revelation, further tarnishing beloved childhood memories. As despondent as she is (or pretends to be), and as much the heartless bastard that I am, I find her naivete so charming and heartwarming, all the more endearing because of her polished sophistication, keen intellect, and tough-as-nails reputation. She is my puppy and my pitbull at the same time. =)

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:08 AM |


Wednesday, August 21, 2002  

I've been caught up in one of Pete's most self-destructive addictions: Literati. This online version of Scrabble has basically sucked up a lot of my free time since returning to Hong Kong, as well as much of this afternoon. Pete has gotten quite good at it, and he put me on a 3-game losing streak yesterday, though I do get credit for significantly boosting his rating. I actually think that it's a preoccupation with boosting one's own game rating that people find so addictive. Hard core gamers always seem to have the need to keep score. That includes me, only made worse by my fiercely competitive nature and steadily declining rating. Today, I came across a girl in one of the beginner lounges who had approximately the same rating as me (provisional player, just under 1,500), so I figured she might make for a challenging game and boost my score. I was right on both counts, sort of. We played a neck & neck game until the last few minutes before I was able to pull out a win, break my losing streak, and up my rating. Our next two games were no less exciting, but she got the upper hand both times and did a bitch-smack on my rating. I need some practice...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 3:27 PM |
 

For the sake of efficiency, I've migrated my travel journal entries to a seperate blog site: PAUL ARK'S TRAVEL JOURNAL, 2002.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:34 AM |
 

My first job interview in 2 and a half years and I go ahead and fuck it up. Sure, I scheduled it for the morning after I get back, and yes, I haven’t even thought about finance in 10 months, but I hoped for a far better showing than the self-ass-kicking I gave myself today. I interviewed for a senior associate position with ING (major Dutch banking group) in their 5-person TMT (telecom, media & technology) team. Admittedly, I was pretty nervous, this being my first interview in ages, and on top of that, I was drinking a café mocha in the morning, so by the time I sat down with my first interviewer, I was pretty hyper and twitchy. I rambled on and on at a mile a minute, and even went so far as to make some improper criticisms about Salomon. The topper of the session was the host of technical questions, the most brutal of which was to outline an M&A auction process, which I was completely ill-prepared to answer (hence, the rambling). This is bad enough, but my interviewer was the head of telecoms, so I don’t think I made the most favorable impression.

The second interview went a little bit better, as I had kept my coffee high in check and maintained a measured, reflective pace. It was also helpful that I interviewed a more junior telecom associate who was also Thai American. He asked a lot of questions about Korean, Malaysian, and Thai telecom companies, which I handled fairly well, and his questions about costs of capital and cash flows were pretty standard MBA stuff. It will likely be the third interview, with the head of tech, that will decide whether I get invited to a second round next week. That, however, is an iffy proposition. I felt at ease with the guy, and clicked relatively well, but then we got to the technical questions, and he gave me a cash flow valuation model to analyze. I didn’t feel too happy about my analysis, and was cranky for most of the day thinking about it. But I met up with my good friends Mia and Linda at Starbucks, which by itself is a major mood lifter for me, but since Linda is also out of work, it helps to have a partner in misery. As it happens, she also interviewed for the same position yesterday, and her analysis of the spreadsheet was very similar to my own, so maybe all hope is not lost.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:27 AM |


Tuesday, August 20, 2002  

Wow, 3 blogs in 24 hours. Well, with me, it’s feast or famine. Plus, I’m feeling very lazy, and don’t really feel like unpacking now (it may very well take 2 and a half months to unpack after my 2 and a half month trip). I got into Hong Kong just before noon today, and raced back to the apartment to drop my stuff off so I could meet some friends from Salomon for lunch. Of course, my mailbox was crammed with stuff. Most of it was junk mail, since reams and reams of flyers, apartment listing ads, and take-out menus are standard operating procedure here. But I did get my Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Level 3 certificate today for the course I finished back in June. Lunch was fun, and I stopped by HMV to pick up the 3rd season DVDs of Star Trek: The Next Generation (or STTNG to the Trekkies). I was also pleasantly surprised to find episodes 9-16 of the 8th season of Friends, so I picked those up too. Strangely enough, only the 1st season is available stateside. Pete was surprised that Asia and Europe already has the current episodes whilst the US of A is still 7 seasons behind, but I figure since there’s probably no money in syndication overseas, there’s no reason to not release all the seasons out here.

I’ve actually spent most of the late afternoon online, just surfing my favorite websites (it’s nice to have 10 mbps broadband after 2.5 months of questionable Internet access) and downloading songs. I’ve also started getting into the habit of downloading music videos. While I was in Italy (Lake Como to be exact), I saw a video of Kylie Minogue’s “Love at First Sight.” I had visited a number of dance clubs and discotheques this year, and had really liked this song, but didn’t even know who it was until I saw her video. I heard it a few more times during my trip, and so by the time I got to New York, I decided to buy her “Fever” album (and was pleasantly surprised to learn that “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” was hers too). I decided to take a look at her videos, which aren’t too bad at all, though some of her dance steps are a bit unusual. I’m amazed at how much her image has changed from the bubble-gum Pollyanna to the sensual sex kitten. I also stumbled across her performance at the British Music Awards, where she did a New Order “Blue Monday” mix with “Love at First Sight.”

I also downloaded Eminem’s “Without Me” video, which I find completely hilarious, and prompted me to load the song onto my MP3 player (my Apple Ipod, which I love, though I’m pissed to find out that they are not only releasing a Windows version, but also knocking $100 off each model’s price. Grrrrrrr!) a few weeks ago. I was never that much of an Eminem fan, and felt that he was more hype than anything. But I find his new song pretty catchy, and his video is cleverly self-deprecating.

I think having the capability to rapidly download music (courtesy of Kazaa) has introduced my to a lot of new stuff lately, which is a nice change, since I was in danger of becoming a bit set in my ways (not that there’s anything wrong with my massive doses of Rush, Beatles, and Pink Floyd; I just need to diversify my musical palate a bit). Before I left for my trip, Pete recommended Five For Fighting’s “Superman,” to which I have become quite addicted. Nicha finds the lyrics amusing, but I find them extremely poignant. I love this song. The video is pretty nifty too, with technically impressive transitions/swipes as the singer and sole band member John Ondrasik moves from scene to scene.

In addition to playing around with MP3s, I’ve taken advantage of my unemployment to catch up on some reading. At the beginning of my vacation, I finished off Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, only to discover that a new hardback “Red Rabbit” has just been released, taking Jack Ryan back before the events of “The Hunt for Red October.” Hopefully, it won’t take too long before it hits paperback. I also finished a book by Robert Clark Young called “One of the Guys” about a sex shop janitor who finds a dead Navy chaplain in one of the peep show booths, and decides to start a new life by impersonating him on board his new posting. It was an interesting read for a first book, which I picked up in early 2001 when I was rotating through New York (kind of fitting that I finish it just as I return to New York). In NYC, I borrowed my friend Janin’s copy of “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band” which is a bio on Motley Crue. I only managed to get through the first 250 pages before I left for California, but it was a pretty funny book, and I learned a lot about the band and the whole ‘80s L.A. glam rock scene. I may read snippets in the book store over the next few weeks to save me the cost of buying the book. When I was in California, I borrowed (stole, more like it) Pete’s copy of the Dragonlance books, which is among the favorite of fantasy/sci-fi books for me, Pete, and Don, and perhaps one of the few that we read in common. I read the original 2 trilogies (Chronicles and Legends) for nostalgic reasons, but decided to read “Second Generation” and “Dragons of Summer Flame” as the are necessary preludes to the new “War of Souls” trilogy. To be honest, I found the last two books (particularly Summer Flame) to be extremely disappointing. I liken it to an artist that spends years creating a masterpiece of art, only to turn around in a fit of whimsy to shed the masterpiece with a knife and piss on the canvas in a few seconds. The co-authors killed off many of the original characters, but did so in such a non-chalant, “oh well, no big deal” kind of way that I’m a bit apprehensive about the next 3 books. We’ll see.

I also just finished Peter Nichols “A Voyage For Madmen” about the 1968 Golden Globe race, which was an attempt by 9 men to be the first and fastest to single-handedly sail around the globe non-stop. It was an immensely fascinating story, covering a time when sailing technology was more similar to that of the 19th century than that of today. The lone finisher complete the trip in 10 months, while the other 8 met with failure, madness, and/or death. I’ve always been one to enjoy reading histories, and with my recently acquired interest in sailing, it made for perhaps one of the better books I’ve read in recent history. I’m like one of those really annoying and incessantly jabbering fellows who can’t stop going on and on about the latest and greatest thing in their life, and for my part, I’m amazed that Nicha and my friends & family haven’t given me more grief over my sailing obsession. I just ordered a couple of books (one textual and one photographical) on the history of the America’s Cup, arguably the most prestigious race in the world of sailing. Interestingly enough, the U.S. had won the Cup 25 consecutive times over a 125 year period, making this the longest win streak in sports history. Likewise, New Zealand’s win in 1983 is considered one of the greatest upsets in sporting history, and as defending champions, New Zealand is the locale for the Cup in 2003. Now that I can tell bow from stern (front and back) and port from starboard (left and right), I will actually enjoy following the race!

Alrighty, I have to get up in 6 hours to prep for a job interview (my first, not including those with headhunters, since being laid off 10 months ago). Nite nite.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:04 AM |


Monday, August 19, 2002  

At long last, here is the first installment of PAUL ARK'S ROUND-THE-WORLD TRAVEL JOURNAL. I'll be posting the rest of it bit by bit over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

[I'VE MOVED MY JOURNAL! READ IT HERE]

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 3:48 PM |
 

I'M BAAAAAACK!!!!!!

And to kick off my welcome back blog, here is a blog I typed up last Monday, but couldn't post due to the technically inadequate servers in my favorite Bangkok Internet cafe:

"Still no travel journal yet, but since last week was pretty eventful, it's worth a blog.

From Sunday to Wednesday, Nicha and I, after 7 and a half months of marriage, finally went on something resembling a honeymoon. She found a 4-day/3-night package deal to Chumporn and Koh Tao in southern Thailand, though it was more like a 2-day/3-night trip since we took a mid/late afternoon flight on the first day, and spent most of the 4th day in transit, but we had a great time nonetheless. We flew out on Air Andaman in a twin-propellar plane, which freaked me out, but the flight was short, and they served a tasty poundcake for a snack, so me happy =). Chumporn is located in the southern tail of Thailand on the eastern coast facing the Gulf of Thailand. it's supposed to be an ideal place for scuba diving and nature-oriented activities, but we didn't get to see the town or area at all since out hotel was pretty far removed from everything. That was fince, since we had to get up really early the next morning anyways, so we had a great dinner and watched my Lord of the Rings DVD.

The next day, we caught a bus to Chumporn, and from there took a 3 and a half hour boat ride east in the Gulf to Koh Tao, literally "Turtle Island". The ride got a bit rough, and near the end of the ride, Nicha puked her guts out about 2-3 times. Her mood improved considerably once we got an up-close look at the island though. Koh Tao is in the same general region as Koh Samui (about 2 hours south from Koh Tao), a much more commercially well-known and popular island and venue of the famously infamous Full Moon Party. However, Koh Tao is considerably smaller and less-developed (i.e. pristine). Koh Tao is one of Thailand's most popular destinations (and consequently one of the most competitive markets) for scuba diving, with at least 24 dive sites around the island. Consequently, the water is amazingly blue and clear, with wide diversity of sea life and coral formations.

When we first got off the boat, we were inundated with people hawking rooms and taxis. The only to arrive and depart from the island was at the main dock (which was at the end of the main street in the island's largest "town"), so it was natural that all the service vendors would be huddled here. Many if not most of the roads branching out from the main one was really rough dirt road, giving even out taxi (a 4-wheel drive flat-bed) a challenging time, but it was a short ride to our resort. The Charm Churee Villa exceeded all of our wildest expectations. It's a quaint little resort made up of fewer than 2 dozen teak wood bugalows. CCV assigned us a "butlerette" by the name of P'Noon to show us a choice of rooms, and basically cater to our needs during our stay. We chose a Panorama-class bungalow (#7!!) on a hill with the most amazing view of the bay, Koh Nang Yuan (a neighboring chain of islands off of the northern tip of Koh Tao). The bedroom and bathroom were comfortably-sized, with large windows all-around to enhance the view from anywhere in the bungalow. The patio deck became a central place for us to chill-out when we weren't on the water, since the patio cushions and the hammock made for en extremely peaceful, lulling, and serene environment, and the location of this particular bungalow (on the hill at the tip of the bend in the island) gave us an almost 135-degree view of the bay and water, and had a sufficient enough breeze to make a deck fan completely unnecessary. I was in heaven!

We grabbed lunch at the resort's own restaurant (Chaba Seafood), which is an open-air buglalow-style structure built on a small cliff face among and entwined with the rocks and trees. Just sitting there was a cool experience. All our lunches and dinners would consist of a curry or soup, a fish, and a third dish, topped off with a huge plate of watermelon and pineapple. Hunger was never a problem. After lunch, we headed down to the resort's private beach. Like all the other facilities, the beach was awesome. In addition to beach chairs, restrooms, and changing rooms, it had it's own restaurant/bar, as well as a booth to rent out snorkelling gear and towels. I can't say enough what a huge plus that this was a private beach, since seclusion was a big factor in us enjoying the water. This was my second time snorkelling since me, Pete, and Dad were in Maui in 1987. I remember having a good time and taking pictures of the fish, but I couldn't remember the actual sensation of snorkelling. Nicha had never been snorkelling, and though she absolutely loves marine life, she was a bit nervous and apprehensive. That feeling went away about 5 seconds after she got into the water. Just a few feet from shore, the water was teeming with schools of fish of all sorts, and coral formations were only a few dozen yards out. I didn't realize how buoyant you are when snorkelling, and felt completely at ease without a life vest. The rental booth also sells little bags of fish food, so Nicha and I had tons of fish swarming about us. After an hour and a half, we called it a day. We were both wiped out, but ecstatic from the experience. Words can't really describe. We spent the rest of the day wandering about town (we also picked up a waterproof, single use camera for the next day), came back to the Villa for dinner, watched my pirated DVD of Monsters Inc. (which she adored, as do I), and did the huggy and kissy thing until we crashed.

The next day, the Villa planned for us a 9 am to 4 pm boat ride around the island. Getting around the island by water involves the use of water taxis, essentially long boats holding up to 6-8 people comfortably. P'Noon accompanied Nicha and I around the island, making about 4-5 stops in total. At each stop, we would snorkel for about an hour or hour and a half, with this great box lunch in the middle (pad grapaow, moo tawt, kai dao, and rice; yum!). One stop had this great floating cafe and dive stop right on the water run by 2 Germans who had become permanent fixtures. That was the case with the island, which attracts a lot of foreigners, a few of whom decided to never leave. Coincidentally, Nicha introduced the subject of perhaps retiring to one of these types of islands to run our own resort. I say coincidentally because after my last trip to Phuket in '95/'96, I thought about how cool it would be to run my own open-air sports bar/seafood restaurant when I made my money and wanted to downshift. I thought about this even more as I started to get into sailing. So when Nicha brought it up, I jumped in eagerly, and we started nursing our idea. We'll see.

I won't go into the snorkelling, since we did so much of it (over 5 hours of it during the 7 hour tour, ending with a 6th hour back at the resort's own beach). Suffice to say that is was perhaps one of the best of many wonderful days that Nicha and I have spent together. Up until this trip, I had thought that She would be reluctant to do too many outdoorsy things, since she is really sensitive about letting her skin get burned (or even tanned). But despite the back of legs getting painfully sunburned (hence earning her the nickname Lobster Girl), she had such a great time that she is eagerly willing to take up scuba diving with me. We definitely plan on coming back to Koh Tao, staying at Charm Churee Villa (especially bungalow 7), and doing a bunch of dives (if not get our certification) here.

Wednesday was, frankly, a pain in the ass, and the only black spot of our trip. Nicha took a motion sickness pill, sipped a Sprite, and gazed at the clouds (rather than the on-boat movie) during the ride back to Chumporn, so she didn't feel queasy in the least bit, but we learned that our 4 pm flight was delayed by 4 hours, which put us in a pretty pissy mood, since we would have rathered taken a later boat and squeezed in a bit more snorkelling time. We stopped off at the original hotel for lunch, and the airline (after Nicha yelled at them on the phone for a while) had arranged for a small discount and for us to stay in a room for the few hours we were delayed. At first, they put us in the most horrifyingly rundown, dingy cabin (usually for the super-budget backpacker/diver guest), and Nicha went to chew out reception until they put us in a room with either a fan or air con (we got ac) so that we could take a nap with out suffocating in the cooking air of our room. The rest of the trip back was uneventful, though we were a bit put off with Air Andaman after that. We can't complain too much, since the airfare, accomodation, bus services, boat/snorkel trip, and meals came out to under $200 a person.

Nicha took the day off on Thursday to take care of errands, namely to change her surname on her passport and Thai ID card to Ark, so now, with the exception of her credit cards and business cards, she is pretty much now Nicha Ark. How cool is that? =) Since Thursday morning in Bangkok was still the evening of the 7th in California, and since the 7th is my brother Pete's birthday. I gave him a call, a received some stunning news: my brother Don and his wife Fiona are expecting a baby. Not only that, but that they also knew since Memorial Day. I called Don, who filled me in on some of the details. I'm incredibly happy for them, though I can't help but wonder is they are ready for it, since they just very recently bought a house, and (for reasons I won't go into now, if ever) Don and my parents aren't speaking, so he won't be able to count on their help or support. Oh well, at least little Jessica will have a cousin and little playmate come February 2nd or thereabouts."

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 3:38 PM |
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