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

Thursday, September 26, 2002  

As I do when I get bored (and being out of work, being bored is an almost constant state of mind lately), I occasionally do webpage searches on Yahoo or Google for friends of mine, just to see what's out there. Imagine my surprise when I typed in my own name and saw my name pop up on another blogsite! On Derek Miller's September 21st post was a mention about how he came across my site, which basically involved one of those little tracker programs (I gotta get me one of those) and some unknown visitor who went from my site to his via my random blog generator. I guess things have come full circle now. And thanks for the Honorable Mention, Derek; I feel like Steve Martin in "The Jerk" ("The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here! I'm somebody now!").

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 3:52 PM |

I was browsing through another blog site, and came across some interesting tidbits:

Microsoft Terraserver allows you to find aerial photos and topographical maps of almost any address in the USA. The maps are a bit out of date (the 1994 map of my parents' house still shows an undeveloped plot of land).

This other site archives final exams from times long past. The ones below are from part B of a 1931 General Honors course at the University of Chicago. I may not be the brightest light bulb around, but I always considered myself a smart guy. No way in hell I could have gotten a passing grade on this exam.

Take one hour to answer two of the following questions.

1. Discuss Homer, Herodotus, Thucydices, the Old Testament, Plutarch, and the New Testament, as histories, as biographies, and as literature.
2. Comment on the works of the Greek tragedians and Shakespeare's tragedies in the light of Aristotle's Ethics.
3. Compare and contrast Aristophanes, Rabelais, Erasmus, Cervantes, and Shakespeare as satirists and as comedians.
4. Write an introduction to a book entitled "Plato and the Platonists."
5. Chacterize as Romans: Cicero, Aurelius, Lucretius, Vergil, Plotinus and Dante.
6. State the conception of the good life and the good estate according to (a) Plato and Aristotle (b) Cicero and Aurelius and (c) Dante and Machiavelli.
7. Discuss the following authors: Erasmus, Montane, Rabelais, and Francis Bacon, in the light of the four R's: Romanticism, revolution, reformation, and renaissance.
8. Compare the following in the expression of the scientific spirit: Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, Thucydices, Lucretius, Roger Bacon, Ockham, Leonardo da Vinci, and Francis Bacon.
9. Write the Table of Contents and the Preface for a book entitled "Orthodoxy and Heresy from Augustine to Aquinas."

I wouldn't have even made it past this entrance exam for the University of Washington (1908).

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:42 AM |

I had dinner with my friend Mia and her husband Emerson before catching a movie with Mia. We went to see "Bend It Like Beckham", a film which was phenomenally successful in the UK (read Time Magazine's review here), as well as numerous other markets (though I would be amazed if it has or will make much of a splash in the U.S.). I found it to be an immensely charming film, tackling issues of women and Asians in Western society. The story of a young British Sikh girl dreaming of playing soccer is a simple one, yet laden with many themes revolving around the expectations of young ladies in a traditional Indian culture, and of female athletes tirelessly striving for the same respect freely given to their male counterparts. Predictably, the protagonist Jess pursues her dream and passion against the initial wishes of her disapproving parents, who want nothing more than for their daughter to learn how to act the proper Indian lady and acquire a worthy husband. However, as formulaic as the plot sounds, the end result is a movie filled with warmth, humor, and cultural insight. And tons of girl power. It was the first film I have ever seen from a Bollywood director and stable of actors, and I admit I was very impressed (I really don't care for the cookie cutter fare that generally comes out of India). I am especially pleased to see an Asian lead in such a high profile international feature. Parminder Nagra, playing the lead role of Jess, is a lovely and spunky young actress whom I'd like to see in other movies. The other cast members easily pull their weight, with Shaheen Khan (playing Jess' mother) providing the lion's share of the laughs. And frankly, it's hard to go wrong with a sports film.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:23 AM |

Wednesday, September 25, 2002  

Things got waaaay out of hand last night.

It all started because of my new webcam. I was never one for these things. Pete has one, and the first time I watched him on it a few weeks back, I commented that it was “as exciting as watching whale shit.” But lately, it seems that everyone I know has one. My friend/classmate Roy, who lived out here in Hong Kong and moved to San Fran, just got one, and Nera just ordered one last week. So last night, I get my new cam to work. Later in the evening, I’m chatting with Pete and our family friend Lisa separately on Yahoo Messenger, and after a few minutes, I have 2 Messenger windows and 3 webcam windows (one for each of us) on my desktop. Once we figured out how to open a single window for all 3 of us to converse on, things really started going downhill.

There are several things that bear mentioning before I continue. First, Pete and I share a pretty twisted sense of humor. We are lewd, crude, and are 2 bad dudes. No subject is off-limits (though we tend to cushion our blows a bit, like wrapping a big brick in a thin sock =). Any one of us individually is a smarmy bastard; together, we become a highly unstable and explosive combination. Now throw Lisa into the mix, and we become a horrifying and destructive force of nature.

Lisa’s family and ours goes back many many years (she’s Nera’s cousin, and Nera’s family and mine goes back to way before I was born). Lisa is the ultimate party girl and the penultimate computer geek (she’s changed her website layout more times in a year than I’ve changed my briefs in a lifetime). She’s the type of girl that frat guys want with them hanging around the house on a lazy weekend, because she knows how to be one of the guys. In fact, if she wasn’t such a hottie, you’d forget she was a female altogether.

So there we are, me, Pete, and Lisa, making goofy faces, making lewd and offensive gestures, and trading nasty barbs at each other (and even maintaining some interesting conversation, though the subjects of hummers and rimming did come up occasionally), when out of the blue, Lisa grabs a pair of her panties lying about her room and puts them over her head like a super hero’s mask. Not to be outdone, I rip off my boxers (Commando! Commando!! Commando!!!) and put them on like a jester’s cap, then like an Afgani burqua, and then like a ninja mask. Instead of ripping off his drawers and joining us in our good wholesome dementia (some whiney excuse about being in the office), Pete image captures his desktop and posts our cams on his site. In a long long night filled with hijinx and giggles, that was the moment that truly stood out (though the image of Lisa fondling, caressing, and tonguing the DVD case for The Bourne Identity, starring her long-time sex fantasy Matt Damon, did make a lasting impression). Because I was so frickin’ tired I can’t remember much else (after days and weeks of getting my sleep patterns back to normal, I spend the entire night playing like an idiot kid with my 2 cohorts, eventually crashing at 7:30 this morning). The only truly unfortunate thing was that Nera’s webcam hadn’t arrived yet (and plus she was so busy with work), that our threesome couldn’t be a foursome.

Another really great thing that happened last night/this morning was that my great friend Julie stumbled across my cam and websites. Julie and I go back 6 years to when we were both working in Thailand. I was in my second year as an i-banking analyst at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, and she was doing a consulting internship with Central Department Store after finishing the first year of a 3-year masters program in business and international studies at Columbia University. I met her the summer of ’96 through my friend Jade, who I met that same summer and who was interning at DMG during her studies at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies. I can’t remember the connection, but I think Jade and Julie met through mutual friends during their college years. At any rate, given her sassy personality and sharp wit, I clicked with Julie as well as I did with Jade.

It dawned on me during our online chat (and which I commented to her) that she is perhaps one of the closest friends I have whom I never get the chance to see or even talk to, though it is more due to my laziness and inability to get my shit together than anything else. I think the last time I had a chance to hang out with her was back in April of 1998, and we have traded very infrequent correspondence (though we get the occasional update from each other from Jade). So it goes without saying that I was extremely shocked and immensely pleased when she told me that she just got married! Over the past few weeks, my mood has steadily improved from the morose bitterness I was experiencing. Last night, I was giddy and goofy with happiness (or suffering from sleep-deprived delerium), and getting back in touch with Julie and hearing her wonderful news was the cherry on top. I am so psyched to be back in touch with her!

In the meanwhile, I’ll be laundering my shorts and revving up the webcam……

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 4:26 PM |

Tuesday, September 24, 2002  

In another sign that I am bored and have way too much time on my hands (or that I am avoiding doing more productive but less fun things), I have changed the title of my blog site. As much as I liked "Stream of Consciousness: A not-so-daily record of the thoughts, reflections, and epiphanies of Paul Ark", it didn't seem to reflect the true nature of the stuff I am throwing onto the site. I do indeed have my serious, reflective moments, but I don't tend to project these moods externally as I feel them internally. It's not that I keep a public, cheerful face to mask my internal moods. Rather, my moods get "translated" so that they take expression in a more "personable" style. The sarcasm, jocularity, and self-deprecation is not so much a means of altering what I'm feeling so much as a critical part of what I'm feeling, and very much part of my personality. So instead of adopting a poetic, stylish moniker for my journal, I decided to stay true to myself. My crass, blunt, in-your-face, smarmy, wise-ass self.

I have decided to keep the stylish template, though it suits the old name better than the new. Chalk it up to artistic license...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:48 AM |

Like most people, I get tons of junk e-mail about reducing my debt, getting a diploma by mail, increasing my sexual potency, or underage girls diddling barnyard animals. In fact, I have a separate Hotmail account for the express purpose of receiving my junk mail so I can conveniently wipe out the box with the click of a few buttons. Occasionally, I audit my junk mail box on the off chance I find an authentic one I need to read. Today, however, it was more of the same: junk.

But one piece of junk mail caught my eye, one that I found a bit disturbing. I got the spine tingly, squirmy feeling that guys get when we hear about something exceedingly unpleasant (like getting our nuts chopped off etc etc). The subject of the e-mail was "re: Your Bowels Cleaned" from The text reads as follows (if you hate reading junk mail, just skip this blog entry altogether):

Let me ask you this...which is worse:

A. The engine on your Lexus freezes up at 160,000 miles instead of 300,000. You take a financial hit and you are forced to buy a Camry this time.

B. You start bleeding during bowel movements [Paul's note: emphasis added]. You go to the doctor and get poked, prodded, X-ray'd, biopsied, etc. 3 days later you get a call for a consultation. The doctor informs you that you have advanced colon cancer at 45 years old. You have anywhere from 6 months to 5 years left to live. He tells you it's time to get your house in order because you'll be checking out soon. Chemotherapy starts today.

A friend of mine who was a science and health researcher at the University of Chicago, just died this past year of colon cancer at 42. In the midst of the prime of his life, he said goodbye, and left his wife and child behind, wondering what just hit them.

Why do you brush your teeth? Are your teeth falling out right now? For most of us, we do it so we won't need false teeth and Fixodent down the road...right? We want to be able to eat apples. Hey, I agree with that. Natural teeth are great.

But have you ever seen someone who was forced to endure a colonectomy? Someone who now will be spending the rest of their life carrying a bag around?

Incredibly, this is an area where even the staunchest MD's AGREE with us!! Can you believe it? If they knew you had the greatest colon cleanse in the world, I bet they might even refer people to you. NO, I'm not kidding...

This subject is not even up for debate. It's a proven fact. The problem is, most people are not doing anything about it. Please don't be one of them.

****WARNING***** The next section of this email contains graphic material which may not be suitable for squeamish individuals.

Let's talk stools.

The stool tells you a lot about your colon health. If it's dark brown in color, and it sinks, and it stinks, that's not good. And don't feel bad, that's the way most people are. What you want to see is light brown color, which means it's full of fresh bile from the liver, very mild odor, and a stool that floats. We're talking low-density here folks. The more compaction you have the darker the color and the faster it sinks. Compaction is not good. Also, moving bowels should be SIMPLE. If the veins are popping out of your neck and you feel like your doing the bench press, you NEED to cleanse your colon.

When you do the cleanse, for the first few days....things are a little weird. But you know you're cleansed when you see the above good stuff happening, and you are eliminating at least 2-3 times per day.

Cleansing your colon is a 30-day process. Its also very economical at under $50. You may be very surprised at some of the benefits you will receive besides just losing 1-5 lbs of cr*p from your body and brightening your future health.

People have reported more energy, less allergies, clearing of acne, cessation of migraines, and many other results, not to mention restored regularity. When your body is void of old, poisonous toxins that are constantly being reabsorbed through the colon walls, it can begin to heal again. And when the colon walls are clean, the good nutrients from your food and supplements can be absorbed again. You will be thrilled with the results.

At this point you are either nauseated thinking about what is inside your own colon, or you're ready to do something about cleaning it out.

Want more info? Click here and I'll send it to you, including instructions on how to take it. It is private, all natural, totally safe, inexpensive, and very effective. And yes, I have taken it myself.

Currently available only in the U.S. and Canada. Seeking Distributors to meet high demand.

Hey, I'm convinced. Where do I sign up?

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:24 AM |

You go, girls!

Jordanian Woman Attacks Harassers
Sun Sep 22,11:49 AM ET

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - All that was missing was the Wonder Woman costume.

Witnesses say a Jordanian woman ripped off her enveloping black cloak and veil — to reveal a traditional long dress that was nearly as enveloping — and punched and kicked into submission three young men who had been verbally harassing her.

The official Petra News Agency reported Sunday that shopkeepers and passers-by believe the unidentified woman must have had martial arts training. In Friday's incident on the main street in Zarqa 13 miles north Amman, the three men were too shocked to react at first and ended up knocked to the ground, screaming in pain. They then scrambled up and fled.

The woman quoted the title of a song made famous by the late Egyptian star Umm Kalthoum — "patience has its limits" — before continuing on her way as a crowd cheered her.

Petra quoted witnesses as saying the three men had regularly directed obscenities at the woman as she walked in the area. It was not clear if they harassed other women as well.

Police chase woman driving go-kart in Whangarei
24.09.2002 0.07 am

A woman tried to outrun police on a motorised go-kart in Whangarei.

A patrol car pulled in behind the 20-year-old allegedly driving a go-kart at speed along Port Rd about 1.55am on Saturday and tried to stop her with their lights and siren.

Sergeant Graham Pugh said the woman tried to outrun the patrol car, but the go-kart hit a curb and she was thrown on to the road.

She was unhurt but allegedly had a breath-alcohol level of 546mcg. The legal limit for drivers 20 years and over is 400mcg.

The woman will appear in the Whangarei District Court on Wednesday charged with dangerous driving, failing to stop and excess breath-alcohol.

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

Monday, September 23, 2002  

"Øder tis moodle in der noggin tu smacken der ouchey und vinger-slingers ur to smacken-backen und fix de morkin, yøobetcha!" - The Swedish Chef

I was just downloading random stuff using Kazaa when I was suddenly inspired to watch videos of my favorite Muppets character: the Swedish Chef! He never fails to crack me up. Bork! Bork! Bork! I wonder...if Italians take offense at the portrayals of Italians in The Sopranos, are Swedes offended by the Swedish Chef? Things that make you go hmmm...Anyways, here's a site that not only converts typed-in text into Swedish Chef-ese (as well as other dialects), but can convert entire webpages into different dialects. I haven't had much success with blog pages, but it worked great with Arkworld. And speaking of personal webpages, thanks go to Pete for doing such a great job updating my and Nicha's page, with a full and soon to be expanded photo album. Thanks, dude!

I spent more time today and yesterday watching TV instead of goofing off on the computer (though I ought to be sending out resumes or packing suitcases). I just finished watching season 1 of 24 on DVD. In a word: WOW. What an incredible series. Each episode practically kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire 45 minutes. So many action sequences, so many twists & turns & betrayals (like Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Baur, I got to the point where I didn't know who and who not to trust). The energy was non-stop, and I was kept guessing until the season finale. By the end, I was as exhausted as the characters. The acting was outstanding, and the writing was sharp, and certainly not the formulaic Hollywood crap that infects 95% of the airwaves. The real-time concept of the show kept the tension high, making each second that passes vitally important to the story. It was the best work I've seen out of Kiefer Sutherland in years, and well worth his Golden Globe win. He has marvelously reinvented himself from the brash & cocky young tough to the humble and world-weary leading man. Right up there with The West Wing as some of the best and freshest television in years.

Not too eventful of a day, but one thing is worth mentioning. I received a book today that I ordered through Amazon. It wasn't a new book, but rather a used one posted for sale by an individual seller. I normally don't buy used books, but this particular one (a history of the America's Cup) was hard to track down, and not in stock on Amazon. What really shocked me was to discover that is was a library book! The seller had swiped this book (and I'm sure many many others) from the local public library and pawned it on the web. What kind of a lowlife dirtbag do you have to be to do something like that? Unfortunately, I can't really return the book, since it cost me more in shipping and handling than the price I paid for the book. But the thing had the plasticized wrap on the cover and the dewey decimal label in the spine. I have very mixed emotions about this, since I don't like the thought of having a stolen book from a library, but am so looking forward to reading it.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:24 PM |

Sunday, September 22, 2002  

It's over. 2-point conversion is unsuccessful. On-side kick is unsuccessful. Out of the rankings we go.

True to form, Cal wins the miraculous game like last week's Cal-MSU game only to spend the rest of the season squandering "gimme" games against teams that are weaker, smaller, or whatever. Win the hard ones, lose the easy ones. Welcome to Cal Football (insert dripping sarcasm here). Why did I actually think that a 3-0 start could mean a certain winning season? How many times have I seen this frickin' team get to a 3-0, a 4-0, a 5-0 start only to watch them lose 4-5 games the rest of the season?

I'm taking a nap.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 7:13 AM |

OMG. Cal scores for 6, and calls time out. 31 seconds to go. They need the 2-point conversion to send things into half-time, otherwise, it's over.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 7:07 AM |

Air Force scores TD #3 with 2 minutes to go: 23-15.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:57 AM |

fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!!!!!!!!!! Did the entire Cal Football team each down a bottle of Jack before kickoff?!? Where is their offense? What's with the defense?

Air Force just scored their 2nd TD of the game, and now leads 16-15 with under 8 minutes left in the game. If Cal doesn't pull out a win, Paul goes on a rampage.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:43 AM |

What a thoroughly dull game. Cal leads Air Force 9-3 at halftime in an anemic, all field goal game. Cal's offense is pathetic today, blowing several key opportunities, and completing few passes. I don't think they will hit their 50-point game average. I should have slept in another hour and a half. Maybe I'll grab a bowl of Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch.

In the meantime, why not take another psych assessment?

You are Fozzie!
Wokka Wokka! You love to make lame jokes. Your sense of humor might be a bit off, but you're a great friend and can always be counted on.

Or you can take a look at Forbes' recently published list of America's Richest Fictional Characters.

Or perhaps support a presidential candidate?

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 5:30 AM |

Ugh. I am so freaking tired. Lately, I haven't been as tired staying up at late as 5 am, but waking up as early as 5 am is brutal. If Cal doesn't dismantle Air Force, I'm gonna be one major Cranky Franky.

Some good news: Northwestern beats Navy 49-40, upping their record to 2-2.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 4:01 AM |

Saturday, September 21, 2002  

"I smell elephants in the air, so it will be getting cold soon." - My wife Nicha

I just got off the phone with Nicha as I was finishing my last blog, and in the middle of the conversation, she made this statement. Silence. For the first second, I wasn't sure I heard her correctly. Silence. The next second, I realized I heard her correctly, but my mind attempted to process her words. Silence. The third second, my brain started to dribble out of my ears. What in the world is she talking about?!?

She insists that since childhood, whenever she would be able to catch a whiff (or "essence" or something) of elephant, that would always precede a cold (for Thailand, that is) weather snap. I spent the next several minutes in the conversation in bewilderment and disbelief, after which she wails (in her baby voice, of course) "You don't love me anymore!"

My wife, the nut. Gotta love her.

Incidentally, it is confirmed that she was promoted to AVP, which I think means "Awesome Vice President", but she insists that it means "Assistant Vice President." I like my title better...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 9:22 PM |

Oy, I am really wiped out.

I started a new sailing course today, the first session of the Day Skipper certification. I hadn't been on a sailboat in almost 4 months, so it was nice to try out my sea legs. It was a terrific day to sail too: clear skies, breezy, and minimal harbor traffic. It was insanely hot as well. It started out a bit overcast, which made it comfortable for a while, but once the sun came out, I really started to bake. After lunch, I started to get really nauseous, my first bout of sea sickness in a while. I think adjusting to a normal schedule is really messing with me too. I had a major headache until about a half hour ago, though having dinner (turkey sandwich) helped.

I was hoping to start playinga new computer game I just bought (The Sims), but the exhaustion is getting to me. Plus, Cal plays Air Force in Berkeley at 2 pm, which is 5 am Sunday here in Hong Kong, and I want to catch the webcast. so it looks like I will not only be getting to sleep early tonight, but mysleep schedule may swing to the other extreme.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 9:13 PM |

Thursday, September 19, 2002  

Every so often, I marvel at the fact that someone out there wanted to marry me, much less a cutie pie like Nicha. I never in a million years expected that I would fall for a Thai-Thai girl (meaning native Thai, as opposed to a Thai-American girl). I always thought that the cultural differences would present too large a divide. So imagine my surprise when I found Nicha, whom I truly call my soul mate. We have the same sense of humor. We are starting to act alike. We share a similar outlook towards politics, religion, child-rearing, education, and life in general. I could not find a companion more compatible in this or any lifetime.

However, I have come to realize that compatibility doesn’t always mean that interests coincide. In many cases, the axiom “Opposites attract” very much hold, and in many cases, we are very opposite but complimentary. In some cases, opposites have no impact or significance whatsoever. I was thinking about this last night, particularly with regard to my and Nicha’s taste in and reactions towards movies. Here are some examples:

1. I have an almost zealous view towards movies. Nicha is very casual when it comes to movies. I will not hesitate to watch a movie over and over again if I like it. Nicha hardly ever watches a film more than once.
2. I cannot stand being late to a movie; if I miss even the first minute or two, I get pissy. I cannot start a movie without seeing it through. Nicha routinely falls asleep during movies, especially the best ones. Shrek, one of the best animated films ever, is a case in point.
3. Nicha (occasionally in the company of her best friend) will take me to see the worst movies. Resident Evil and Baby Geniuses come to mind. The last time Nicha and I were watching cable, she asked me to switch channels from X-Men so she could watch Problem Child.
4. Nicha is a fraidy cat. She closes her eyes, squeezes my hand, and jumps out of her seat. I’m not just talking about films like The Others, but mainstream action films like U-571 and Lord of the Rings. Sudden movements freak her out. Slow motion movements freak her out. And leave the lights on.
5. I like animated films. Nicha likes straight-to-cable cheese-flicks by B-rate actors.
6. Nicha has neither played organized sports nor has been schooled in the rules of many American sports, so it goes without saying that she doesn't get as pumped up about sports films as I do.
7. Don’t even get me started on comedies. Our mutual sense of humor stops at the ticket gate; when the film starts rolling, we laugh at different things. Think I can turn her onto Monty Python?
8. There are, or course, particular (and in my case, emasculating) genres where are interests coincide, namely chick flicks. Not all types, but we do share a love of romatic comedies and the occasional girl-power/female empowerment story.

I have always been a big movie buff, and would have thought that a mutual love of cinema would have been a primary factor in any relationship I found myself in. Imagine my surprise to discover that it has no bearing whatsoever on how well Nicha and I get along, or how much we love each other. "Love works in mysterious ways."

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 4:38 PM |

I seem to immerse myself from one thing to another. First, it was DVDs, then it was downloading and watching online videos, and now, I'm caught up in blogs. It's not enought that I spend time updating my 2 blog sites, but now I'm spending a lot of time scouring the web for random blogs. I came across a wide cross section of sites, some interesting, some not so interesting. I came across political commentary, poetic exhibitions, and daily observances. Many had very consistent themes and styles, and it made me realize how completely random my own blogs are. Sometimes I talk about sports, sometimes I talk about my wife or family, sometimes post goofy links, sometimes I unleash my innermost thoughts. No rhyme or reason whatsoever. Is this a bad thing? I don't think so. Maybe with no job, with so much time on my own and with all discipline having fallen away from my daily life, my thoughts are just one chaotic, jumbled stew.

Anyways, I found a couple of interesting things in my travels:

If I had a real job, I would post my schedule for the next week. Nera got a huge kick out of this.

I came across a site discussing Nigerian Fee Scams, including the host's (alias James T. Kirk) effort to scam the scammer. An ongoing saga, and a funny one at that.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:16 PM |

Here's another pop psychology test. I went from a Jedi Knight to a Clown.

Take the test: What lesser-known Simpsons character are you?

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:15 AM |

Wednesday, September 18, 2002  

Hey! Look who has his own website! Not only is this guy one of THE best actors Hollywood has to offer (The Contender rocks! For a political drama, that is...), but he is also a very warm, personable, reflective, creative, and Internet-savvy individual. It probably goes without saying that he is extremely artistic, not just as an actor, but also as a singer, musician (remember The Fabulous Baker Boys?), composer, painter, and photographer.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:13 PM |

OK, it looks like I've managed to figure out how to post pictures on my blog site, and judging from the results, I can do a bit of resizing without completely screwing up the image. Pete even showed me how to convert a picture into a hyper link (you can click on the pic to go to the source page) . This 2nd test picture is one of my baby pictures taken from Pete's photo gallery, and from the fact that I am able to walk, I'm guessing that I'm about 1 year old in this photo (interestingly enough, my emotional development halted at about the same time this picture was taken). I have always thought this is one of my cuter baby pics, but hell if they ALL aren't so damn cute!! Nicha loves this one, and hopes that we have sons that look like this photo (I'm still holding out for baby girls that look like her though). Anyways, now that I've mastered this little skill, my blog site should be a little more lively now, and I can also spruce up my travel journal.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:14 PM |

“i have awesome man tits” – My brother Pete on a recent Yahoo Messenger chat

That's my quote for the day. It doesn't matter whether it was taken in context or out; the inescapable conclusion is that my brother Pete is a complete perv. The story surrounding Pete's proud proclamation is actually pretty funny, and can be found under the September 17 entry on his blog site about baby Brenner.

Today, Pete showed me how to insert pictures onto my blog page. However, since the pictures need to be stored onto a server, the number of pictures I have access to is extremely limited, so this will be my only picture for the foreseeable future. This is a picture of Pete and Jane's shit-zoo (or shih-tzu. You say tomato...). His name is Luc (after the hockey player Robitaille, not the Jedi Skywalker), and he is the smartest dog I have ever encountered. He is master of the pet trick, and I am told that he recently learned how to fix transmissions on foreign sports cars and defuse nuclear devices. He is friendly as hell, and on my last visit to California, I had more fun with him than I did with Pete & Jane (sorry guys, but truth is truth). I know my wife would hate him, because she has sexy legs, and I have no doubt Luc would want to hump them.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:27 PM |

Tuesday, September 17, 2002  

I was just cruising the Daily Californian and ESPN websites, and noticed that in the Associated Press polls, the Cal Bears are now ranked #23 in the country (though they are still nowhere to be seen on the ESPN/USA Today poll) after their major ass-whooping of Michigan State (who has dropped off of both rankings and is now in the Other Receiving Votes category).

Bolstering my earlier arguement that the Pac-10 is one of the hardest conferences in the country, 5 other schools are also ranked in the top 25: Oregon (#9 AP & ESPN/USAT), USC (#11 AP & ESPN/USAT), Washington (#13 AP & ESPN/USAT), Washington State (#16 AP, #18 ESPN/USAT), and UCLA (#20 AP, #22 ESPN/USAT). The last 4 teams are on Cal's schedule, meaning a very tough fight ahead. Amazingly enough, Cal currently stands atop the Pac-10, by virtue of its 3-0 record and its combined 150 points scored.

Some interesting facts about Saturday's Cal-MSU game:
1. Total attendance was a sell-out crowd of 72, 634
2. Cal was a 14 point underdog, and therefore beat the spread by a mere 38 points
3. The last time Cal started 3-0 in a season was in 1996
4. The last time Cal beat a team ranked as high as 15 was in 1974 when it defeated the #14 Illinois 31-14 (though Cal did defeat #13 Clemson in post season play during the January 1, 1992 Citrus Bowl by a score of 37-13)
5. Cal's #23 ranking is the Bears' first ranking since they were 25th in the October 21, 1996 ratings

I am hopeful that this year, Cal reclaims the Axe. For those not in the know, the Axe is the exalted trophy held by the winner of the Big Game between Berkeley and Stanford. Dating back to 1892, the Big Game is one of college football's oldest rivalries, and produced what has been dubbed "the greatest team play in the history of college football": The Play, in which a 1982 Cal squad throws 5 laterals in the final 4 seconds of the game to upset John Elway and his Cardinal team. Cal's last Big Game win over Stanford was waaaaay back in 1994; I have my fingers crossed that this November, we'll snap this 8-year curse.

It is perhaps fairly obvious that I am extremely passionate when it comes to Cal Football. I am not a big sports freak in general. I have my favored teams (Los Angeles Laker, San Francisco 49ers, etc), but no team elicits so much emotion from me as my beloved Bears. I am not a wizard for player stats and such, but 90% of my visits to ESPN will occur during college football season, and I will follow rankings and conference standings with an almost religious fervor. Incidentally, Big Game losses has been the #1 reason for me crying in my adult life.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:07 PM |

The weather here is pretty miserable. I generally like rainy weather, but it's been non-stop thunder storms for the last several days. I really would like to complete another sailing course (Day Skipper) before I move to Bangkok, so I'm hoping things clear up next week so I can squeeze in a session or two.

Today was another throwaway sort of day. I slept for most of the day, because I was feeling pretty sick for most of it. Much of it started last night; I had a lot of trouble sleeping because of sharp pains in my chest. It felt like the one time back in my freshman year at Berkeley when I had stayed up for 48 hours straight to study for my European History final exam. To counter sleepiness, I had consumed way too much coffee and Vivarin, and the night after the exam, when I tried to get some sleep, I woke up screaming in pain. Both times, I thought I was having a heart attack. I think last night was a case of indigestion or something. I woke up late in the morning (much earlier than I usually do), and had some broccoli cheese soup for lunch, and felt really nauseous afterwards, so I crashed for most of the afternoon.

I can't seem to normalize my sleep schedule at all. It's not just that I'm up all night and asleep all morning, because then at least, my body would be able to adjust to a regular schedule. Instead, I'm all over the place, some times sleeping at 3 am, then 7 am, then 4 am, and the wake up times are just as unpredictable. I think that might be why my body had such a painful reaction. I'm heading down to Bangkok for about 5 weeks next month, and will be spending the first 3 weeks taking an intensive, total immersion Thai language course through Berlitz, so hopefully, either at that time or even before then, I'll get my body back on track.

It was a good day for my various websites. In addition to this entry, I typed out 3 more daily entries in my travel journal, and Pete is helping me with a major update and revamp of my and Nicha's page. I'm currently most of the way through the 3rd season of The Sopranos. I guess playing around on the web and watching a lot of television isn't the greatest accomplishment, but I'm content.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 3:03 AM |

Sunday, September 15, 2002  

Whoa! Spoke too soon; Wildcats up 26-21, 10 minutes left.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:48 AM |

Holy Ass-Kicking, Batman!!

The California Golden Bears, a TWO touchdown underdog coming into this game, just spanked the #15 Michigan State Spartans 46-22 (Who's Yer Daddy?!?). Jeff Tedford's inaugural season as head coach is getting off to a phenomenal start, almost redeeming Cal's shameful 1-10 record last year. Cal still has a challenging schedule ahead of them, but momentum is definitely with them (us, I should say =). I don't know if I'm going to get much sleep tonight, I'm so amped up.

In Evanston, the score is much closer, with the Wildcats trailing 19-21 early in the 4th quarter. I'll listen to the Cal post-game show for a bit, and then hit the sack. Win or lose, there's nothing that Northwestern could do that would add or subtract much from the high I'm experiencing.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:47 AM |

Screw sleep!!!! At halftime, Cal leads 25-0! When I logged on the webcast (all hail the Internet!), there was less than 3 minutes left in the half, and the Bears go ahead and ravage the Spartans for another 10 points, in Spartan Stadium no less. It's all I can do to keep from screaming and whooping it up out loud (it's 2 am here), and listening to the MSU crowd booing their team going into the halftime has me grinning like a fool =)

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:59 AM |

I was planning on hitting the sack at 3 am last night, but quickly blew that idea out of the water. I started goofing off on the web, and what started out as casual web surfing turned into fairly in-depth research in boat charter vacations. At this point, I've zeroed in on an 8-day liveaboard vacation on a 37' cutter in the Virgin Islands. If I can convert Nicha to my cause, I can squeeze in this dream vacation by the end of 2003 (though I would be perfectly happy if we did it in 2004). By the time I got to sleep, it was 7 am and the sun was up. I'm still feeling the effects. I was planning to sail tomorrow (today technically, postponed from Thursday because of the typhoon), but as it was pouring rain tonight and forecasted to do more of the same tomorrow, there is a chance my sail will get postponed again. Not that I mind, but I won't know until after I wake up, and I wouldn't mind sleeping in.

Now that we're on the topic of sailing, today (the 15th) marks the launch of the 6th Around Alone race, a singlehanded circumnavigation that is a descendant offshoot of the 1968 Golden Globe race that I described from the book "A Voyage For Madmen." In fact, this 6th race is being managed by a team headed by Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, the winner and only finisher of the Golden Globe and a legendary figure in the sailing world. Today, 12 men and one woman set sail on the first of a 5 leg race. This first leg runs 2,930 nautical miles (1 nautical mile equals about 1.15 land [aka statute] miles) from New York to Torbay in the UK, and it is expected that the first boat will arrive in 9 days. The entire race is expected to last 7 months, concluding in April. Unlike the non-stop Golden Globe, the Around Alone is run in legs, with about 3 weeks between legs, allowing the skippers to re-stock and repair the boats (and get on dry land for a while).

Also in sailing news is the upcoming start (October 1st) of the Louis Vuitton Cup, a 4-month double round robin elimination series that determines the America's Cup challenger. The following overview of the Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup is taken from the joint website: The America's Cup is a best-of-nine (first to win five) Match between the Defender and the Challenger. Racing for the America's Cup begins on February 15, 2003 and racing will take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays until the Match is decided. By virtue of its 5-0 victory in Auckland in 2000, Team New Zealand is the Defender. The Challenger will be determined in a four-month elimination series known as the Louis Vuitton Cup. For 2003, a new and complicated formula is being used, which will begin with a double round-robin and then advance into a split pool system with an A-Group and a B-Group competing separately. This is designed to give the stronger teams more opportunity for internal training and development, instead of devoting time, resources and energy to competing against teams with little chance of victory. At the semi-final stage, there is an opportunity for the top-scorer from the B-Group to advance to the Louis Vuitton Cup final. The final begins on January 11, 2003 and follows the same format as the America's Cup with a best-of-nine series to determine who will challenge Team New Zealand for the America's Cup. Although I'm new to the world of sailing, I'm actually pretty excited, and only regret that I was not more "in-the-know" during the Volvo Ocean Race.

In other sporting news, today (14th in California) the Cal Bears football team (2-0) are playing the #15 Michigan State Spartans (2-0) in the hopes of extending their win streak and attain their first 3-0 start in ages. Though they won their first 2 games with a combined score of 104-35, they played relatively weaker Baylor and New Mexico State. The real bummer is that even if the Bears have a stellar year, they are prohibited from post-season bowl play because of academic and recruiting scandals last school year. I'm a bit exasperated by this, not just because this looks to be the first decent season in ages, but because we are not even a powerhouse football school; I can understand (though I don't condone) a strong football school getting caught up in ethical lapses under the pressure to maintain a winning tradition, but this is Cal for Pete's sake! I do miss the glory days when Cal whomped Clemson 37-13 in the Citrus Bowl (1992, New Year's Day no less!!) and actually ranked #7 in the country post-season (Associate Press), and won 4 bowl games in 5 years. Now, I'm happy if we can finish in the top half of the Pac-10 (which, in Cal's defense, I must argue to be one of the toughest leagues in Division I football). All said, I'm cautiously optimistic about Cal's chances today, and as I write this, the Bears are up 15-0 in the 2nd quarter.

I am not as optimistic about the Northwestern Wildcats (0-2), who have thus far lost to AIr Force and Texas Christian by a combined score of 27-100, and are unlikely to take the conference this year. Today they play the Duke Blue Devils, and are trailing 0-7 in the first quarter.

That's all in sports news. I was planning on going to sleep, but instead, I'll try and catch a webcast of the Cal-MSU game. GO BEARS!!

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:41 AM |

Saturday, September 14, 2002  

I was on my friend Nera's blog site and came across this Love Test, one of those arm-chair psych assessments, this one using animals as metaphors to interpret my views towards love and marriage. Here are my results, many which I think are pretty accurate:

1. What kind of person you'll be attracted to in real life situation..
A. Rabbit - those who has split personality, like cold as ice on the outside, but hot as fire in the heart.

2. In the process of courtship, which approach would make you feel irrisistable...
A. Monkey - creative, never let you feel bored

3. What impression you would like to give to your lover...
A. Dog - loyal, faithful, never change

4. What incident would cause you break up with your partner which character you hate most...
B. Snake - emotional, too moody; and you don't know how to please him/her

5. What kind of relationship you would like to build with your partner...
D. Bird - you care not only about present but future with your partner, a long-lasting relationship that you can grow with

6. Would you commit adultery...
A. Human - you care about the society and morality, you won't do anything wrong after marriage

7. What do you think about marriage...
B. White Tiger - you think of marriage is a precious thing, once you get married, you'll treasure it and your partner very much

8. At this moment, what do you think of Love...
D. Pigeon - you think of love as a committment for both parties

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:21 AM |

Once I got out of college, I pretty much stopped watching network television. I would catch occasional episodes of shows like Frasier, The Simpsons, or Star Trek, but not with any regularity. Once I moved to Asia, I pretty much stopped watching any sort of network programming altogether. If I watched television at all, it was mostly to view my favorite videos (a habit I've continued to this day). Lately, however, I've been watching a lot of television. It's my firm belief that The West Wing is the best television series in the history of network programming. I've run through my Season 1 DVDs three times already, and have spent the last week downloading and watching episodes from seasons 2 and 3 (all hail Kazaa!). I'm eagerly anticipating the DVD release of HBO's Band of Brothers, an incredible mini-series covering the exploits of the Easy Company (506th PIR, 101st Airborne), one of WWII's most accomplished companies (which sustained over 150% casualties), from their first assault on D-Day through the capture of Hitler's Eagle's Nest. This series, based Stephen Ambrose's outstanding book of the same name, skips the formulaic and overly dramatic Hollywood style of war film making, opting for a true-to-life realism that makes the series as much a documentary as it is an engaging story. While I await the DVDs, I've been watching the episodes I've downloaded (you can find almost anything on the Net!).

I should probably spend less time glued to the computer and more time preparing for my move. My landlord attempted to get me to stay by offering to slash my rent in half until I get a new job. I told him that I was pretty firm on moving, and he is letting me apply my 2-month security deposit towards my last 2 months of rent, which gives me a lot of financial breathing room as I prep for my move. I'm really amazed at his generosity, which is rare among landlords in general. Granted, he is the father of one of my Salomon colleagues, but he has definitely been far more generous and accomodating than I would expect of any landlord.

Although I've been lazy when it comes to packing, I have been hustling when it comes to leveraging my contacts in Thailand and abroad. I've managed to tentatively schedule a set of interviews with a venture capital fund during my next visit to Bangkok, and I'm making solid progress towards landing interviews for consulting positions with Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey (my 2 top choices in the consulting industry). I've started gathering reading material to prepare for my interviews (case interview guides, books on financial modelling, texts on valuation and financial analysis, etc). I actually managed to find a pretty comprehensive industry report (184 pages) on the Thai economy on the McKinsey site, which I imagine will occupy several of my days.

On top of all that, I'm anxious to update our (mine and Nicha's) webpage, which I haven't touched since early in the year. I'll do that this weekend (unless these thunder storms clear up, in which case I'm going to do some sailing).

3 am...maybe I ought to get some sleep...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:07 AM |

Friday, September 13, 2002  

For the third time since I started posting blogs, I have changed the formatting of my page. Actually, I had intended to use this template the last time I changed it, but the original had a right margin that took up more than a third of the screen. I liked the rest of the layout, but waste of space was an eyesore, so I opted for the dark blue template that Pete uses on his. It just hit me that if I could play with the HTML to customize the blue template, there was no reason why I couldn't figure it out for the template I originally wanted. Soooo...voila!

It wasn't as easy as it looks, since I know jack-shit about HTML. It was like writing a book report in a language that you never studied. It took a lot of trial-and-error, but I finally got the look I wanted. Hurrah hurrah!

I also added a few more entries into my travel journal, which means I've managed to complete the first of 8 weeks.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:34 AM |

Pete posted a link to the Punk Kittens in his most recent blog, and I just had to include it in my own because it was so damn funny, I almost peed my pants. The original site (The Lair of the Crab of Ineffable Wisdom) is awesome, filled with thoroughly bizarre and completely hilarious animations (not dissimilar to a potent LSD trip taking a turn for the worse, not that I've ever had LSD).

Warning: if you're at work, you might want to turn down the volume on this...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:37 AM |

Wednesday, September 11, 2002  

"I know it's not PC right now to be sick of flag waving and 'God Bless America,' but I really, really am. I just feel like the whole thing has been cheapened by our culture's saturation of patriotism." -- Network news producer, 29, in New York

This quote is probably not a popular sentiment, especially on the first anniverary of the attack on the World Trade Center, but one that I have felt for much of this past year. Like many Americans, I was glued to whatever media source at my disposal that day a year ago. I anxiously sent e-mails to everyone I knew in New York, praying for their well-being, and I cried at the sight of the burning and collapsing towers. I was truly blessed that no one I know was harmed, but felt profound grief for the thousands of strangers who died. I still feel a tug at the heartstrings everytime I read about the many acts of heroism that emerged that day and in the days afterwards.

Which is all the more reason it pains me to see the aftermath a year later. I see September 11 becoming increasingly a commercial event than a memorial one. When I visited Ground Zero back in July, I was dismayed at all the tasteless commerical souvenir crap that the local convenience stores were peddling. All the videos and music compilations and books and t-shirts that have flooded the market sickens me. Yes, this is a capitalist land of opportunity, but it seems that at some point, we Americans ought to check our baser instincts at the door; there are some things in this world too sacred. Yes, we are ardent patriots, and yes, we want to show our support for our country. But wouldn't our money be better spent (and our dignity better preserved) by making a donation to the Red Cross instead of wearing a "Fuck Bin Laden" t-shirt? This is a time of grief and rememberance and respect, not a Hallmark holiday.

I have never been a fan of reactionary, anti-war peaceniks, but it seems that 9-11 has brought out the worst of the patriots as well. I was pleased to see more public displays of the American flag following the attacks. But in many cases, ardent support and solidarity for our nation has devolved into a zealous, intolerant patriotism that is every bit as insidious and venemous as the perverted, twisted, bastardized views of the Islamic terrorists that have declared jihad upon America. In a time when we should be educating ourselves about Afganistan and the suffering of her people, about the religion of Islam, about the grievances of fringe groups who hold the Koran hostage and subverted it to their causes, a large portion of Amercians have cloaked themselves in a shroud of ignorance mistakenly labeled as patriotism, choosing to shout down opposing ideas, or spit on Indians or "ragheads" or anyone else who is brown, without taking the time to understand who we are truly fighting, or why we are fighting them. We defend the right to make an honest buck, but not the right to express a minority opinion, or the right to live in peace if we aren't born a white Christian.

Of course, this is not representative of the 250 million who live in the U.S. (and the many of us who do not), but it is my hope that the majority of Americans who feel a pure and untainted patriotism and love of country are not outshined or outshouted by those few who would sully or tarnish that purity.

God, Buddha, Allah and Jehovah Bless America.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:50 PM |

Oh yeah, it's probably worth mentioning that I will be twice-made an uncle: Don and Fiona are expecting a baby boy in February. I'm truly happy for them, though I admit not as happy as I could be. It gnaws at me that Don & Fiona don't get along with Pete & Jane as much as they should (or at least, as much as I'd like for them to). I think it has to do with the fact that I live so far away from my brothers, and to see them live only an hour apart and never really spend time together, it seems like a distressing waste to me. I grew up never feeling that close to family, and spent the last few years cultivating a strong belief in family ties and the strength and sanctity of those bonds. In my daydreams, I see a world where my, Pete, and Don's kids are close, and that the cousins are more tight-knit than the 3 of us ever were. So it saddens me that little Jessica will have a cousin only 3-4 months younger than her, but separated by personality and ideological differences among the parents (which will very likely be passed down to them anyways).

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 4:22 AM |

Lately, Nicha has been really obsessed with mashed potatoes.

It all started with a story, namely that of my first day of school in the first grade, and more specifically, my first school lunch on that first day in the first grade. I had never before eaten mashed potatoes with gravy, or even knew what they were or that they even existed. So naturally, when I saw that ball of white (scooped by an ice cream scooper no less) covered in a brownish sauce, it would be perfectly natural for a 6-year old to assume that his school lunch would include a scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.

I recall very little about the first grade, and even less about the first day, but I do remember the mashed potatoes, and my mild and pleasant surprise to discover that my "ice cream" was in no way cold, but rather hot, and actually very delicious (thus beginning a lifelong love of mashed potatoes). I still didn't know what I was eating, but I knew I liked it. It was as vivid a memory as I could have at that time in my life, but it was a fleeting one, and a subject I gave little thought once I got to the entree, and one I gave no thought once I'm sure I got to dessert, whatever they may have been (I don't remember).

Nicha, however, won't let me leave it at that. She finds a 6-year old Paul's first experience with mashed potatoes to be a momentous one, and his hot-not-cold surprise to be utterly charming and adorable. I have no doubt that she replays the scenario over and over in her mind, trying to imagine what a 6-year old must be thinking, expecting ice cream and getting something completely different. She is absolutely certain and vehemently insists that my mind must have been swirling with thoughts and emotions at such a historic moment in my life.

Uh, no. Ok, it's not ice cream. Ok, it's tasty. That's 5 seconds of my life. Time to move on; what's next? But no, she can't leave it at that! It's mashed potatoes, for heavan's sake! In her mind, Moses parting the Red Sea couldn't have been more significant than a first grader's first taste of mashed potatoes! And so for the last few nights, she'll call and ask me, "So what else were you thinking that day? Did you go home and ask your mom about it? Did you ask your friends?" Uh, no. It's food. You scoop it, you eat it, you poop it, and life goes on.

I have no doubt that she'll bug me about it tomorrow.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 4:11 AM |

The saying goes “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” Well, for me, the sun has set on my days in this former British colony. I’m packing it in.

My original plan was to spend at least 4 or 5 more years in Hong Kong before settling down in Bangkok. I very much enjoy living here, but not having a job is turning me into a pauper, and frankly, spending the first 10 months of my marriage apart from my wife hasn’t been the most ideal situation.

Has it improved my mood and outlook? Marginally, I suppose. I’m still bummed out a lot of the time, and I definitely remain the lazy slug, but things don’t seem as bleak as they were last week. I hope that I’ve turned a corner, instead of experiencing a brief respite from this storm. I’m not exactly 100% wild about moving to Thailand, but I’m hoping the drastic change will be a bit invigorating. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I just need a change of scenery. I’m still going to miss this place. I love my apartment, and the sailing options are much more attractive than in Thailand (though joining the yacht club in Pattaya will be significantly cheaper than the ones here in Hong Kong).

It runs deeper than that, though. I am also contemplating a change of career. I still enjoy investment banking, but after getting the shaft for the second time in my career, I am thinking that perhaps this isn’t the best career choice for me. I’ve been thinking about management consulting a lot lately. Part of it is because I’d like to utilize more of my MBA than just the finance and accounting stuff (I’ve always enjoyed the more strategic aspects of my job anyways). Another big part of it is that the scope of work in consulting would be much broader and substantive in Thailand than banking would be. In Asia, investment banking operations tend to be concentrated in Hong Kong (or to a limited extent, Singapore), with each country housing a small representative office. In consulting, work is spread across the various countries, so that work is not concentrated in any single regional headquarters. In Thailand, I feel that being a consultant may offer a more meaningful experience than being a banker. Of course, I could always look at private equity, but if I eventually want to run a business (a large one, or even a start-up of my own), having exposure to managerial issues I would have as a consultant would definitely broaden my set of skills. We’ll see.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:14 AM |

Tuesday, September 03, 2002  

I wake up each day, not having the will or desire to drag myself out of bed. I sit in the apartment the entire day and all the night, mired in my squalor and filth and self-pity. I’m bitter and angry and frustrated, and fight so hard not to break down and cry, and lately, it’s a fight I’ve been losing. I hate what my life has become, and I don’t know what to do about it.

This isn’t a regular depression that I am experiencing. I’ve felt deep depression twice in my life before: in my 4th year at Berkeley back in 1991, and living in Thailand in 1995. Both times, I closed myself off from the world: not spending time with friends, not talking to family, just keeping to myself, plodding along, and biding my time for when life and my outlook would change for the better. In both cases, it was more a feeling of melancholy than anything else. I just wanted to be left alone.

This time, the depression is so different, so much worse. It’s a depression with nothing to keep my mind from pondering it endlessly, and with no hope in sight. It’s not a fleeting anxiety and despair, one that I feel for a few seconds or minutes, but one that keeps nagging me all day, every day. It crushes my spirit. It’s almost funny to think that all my problems, the root cause of my anguish, all comes down to not having a job. Sounds stupid, huh? Maybe these long months of being inactive and unproductive are weighing heavy on me, but I think it’s more than that. It’s years and years of working hard, setting ambitious goals, and setting expectations beyond my reach. And for what? I am alone, friendless and jobless, and sooner than I hope, penniless. I've always taken great pride in my work, and my confidence and self-esteem have always been closely tied to the job I held and the pride I had in it. Nicha keeps telling me that it isn’t me, that the economy is beyond my control, and I understand. But looking at my life, I’ve managed to face a very volatile life with a strength and fortitude that I have long been proud of. I overcame failure with this strength and a dogged persistence. But what I have come to realize is that a loss of control over my life is as much a poison to my soul as any personal failure in my abilities. What good is my education, my determination, my sense of adventure and risk-taking if at the end, it comes to nothing?

It seems petty and trivial, my “suffering” against those of the world, of those far less fortunate, of those who lost loved ones in New York almost a year ago today. But right now, I don’t even care for myself, so how can I care for the suffering of others? I look around, and I see an apartment that hasn’t been cleaned and bags that haven’t been unpacked since I’ve returned. Trash and discarded junk mail and unwashed clothes are everywhere. Dishes that aren’t piled up in the sink are scattered on the coffee table along with empty bottles and cans and stained napkins. I’m beyond self-pity, because I don’t even have pity for myself anymore. I should have everything to be happy about. I married my dreamgirl, I have a niece whom I love dearly even though she hasn’t been born yet, I have friends and family who love me, and I still have a little money in the bank. But when I look around, I see none of that. I look at Pete’s life with envy: surrounded by friends and family, enjoying home and work, and I ask: “Where’s mine? Where did my life go wrong?” Did I set my goals too high? Did I want too much, only to end up with nothing?

In my last blog, I joked about an addiction to videos, and came to the sudden realization that in this sarcasm, as in all sarcasm, is a heavy dose of truth. There are far more insidious and destructive addictions such as alcohol and narcotics, but I could never bring myself to do that to my body, which would take no comfort in it, I’m sure. Rather, I have succumbed to addictions of the mind. I immerse myself in the fantasy worlds offered by movies and video games. I use these “drugs” to escape from the world and ease my pains. I use them constantly, only emerging from my cocoon to shop for food and pay the bills. Otherwise, I sit in my apartment, curtains drawn, shrouded in darkness, and plod along until my eyes turn red, or my chest hurts. Sometimes I read, but not the newspapers or textbooks that I should to improve my abilities or keep in touch with the world. It’s just more of the fantasy/sci-fi stuff that further detaches me from reality.

I’ve been listening to Rush’s “The Pass” a lot lately. In the past, the song has always given me inspiration and urged me never to cave into fear and frustration. Now, it seems to bring tears in my eyes. I still feel its message, but somewhere, lingering in my heart and mind, is the fear that even this song will not save me for much longer. I’m scared to think that my sanity is hanging on by a thread as thin as a single song. How different things would be if Nicha were here, or if I were close to family, or even a few friends.

I don’t know why I chose to finally write this. Is this my catharsis, a pent-up emotion seeking a release? Or is it a cry for help, for something as simple as a hug? I can’t say.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:38 PM |
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