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


Friday, April 25, 2003  

Oh, man, I just couldn't resist this one...

blackknight
Running away? You yellow . . .


What Monty Python Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:38 AM |


Wednesday, April 23, 2003  

It's been quite a week for Thailand's tennis hero Paradorn Srichaipan. First, Time Magazine ranks him among Asia's Heroes for 2003, and then he attains an ATP ranking of #10, making him the first Asian (as opposed to Asian American, as was Michael Chang) to ever reach the top 10 in tennis. As amirable as his ranking and talent are, the fact that he is such a well-mannered, unspoiled celebrity makes him one of the truly great figures in a country with so few honest heroes. Keep an eye on this young man; he'll no doubt be as global a household name as Tiger Woods in no time...

Work these past few weeks has been moderately busy with little in the way of exciting events. The Thai Songkran holiday was quiet, since Nicha and I didn't go anywhere (she's a wee bit paranoid about this SARS epidemic, so we didn't really wander outside the confines of out apartment except to see her folks and do a bit of shopping). We have another long weekend coming up soon, so one way or another, I will eventually drag Nicha out yachting or golfing. My free time hasn't been a total loss though: I did start cooking again, and am very pleased about it. Over the past 2 weekends, I've perfected my fried rice with Thai sausage and learned how to make my own pesto sauce, neither of which I've made before. The pesto sauce needs work, but I was pleased with the initial results. I also made my clam dip, which was popular among my party guests in Hong Kong, and is fast becoming popular with my wife. I was moderately pleased with my recipe in HK, but since switching to fresher ingredients here in Thailand, I was astounded at how good it turned out. We finished a huge bowl of it and a box of crackers in a weekend. For those interested, I'll post the recipe in my next blog.

I was going to mention how my HSX portfolio has stagnated since the Oscars, but my investments have really moved big time in the 2-3 days since I last looked at it. My investment in the movie Phone Booth took a huge beating last week, but has since rebounded, so I'm only looking at a 3% loss. I previously made huge gains on an investment in Kelly Hu, but figured that she had gotten too expensive, and decided to sell my bonds and go short, only to see her price skyrocket another 18%. Fortunately, I hedged my position fairly well; I figured that further price increases would be from hype surrounding the impending release of X2: X-Men United (I haven't been this excited about a new movie release since Spider-Man, but then again, I used to be a huge Marvel Comics freak). Balancing out any loss from a short position in Kelly Hu was my long position in a possible X-Men 3 sequel. For the last few weeks, I've seen no movement in this stock, but in the last few days, it's jumped up 32%! So all in all, my portfolio is moving forward again, and I am on the cusp of cracking the top 50th percentile of investors (rank 205,362).

I've fallen behind in my movies. Of the numerous movies I've downloaded, I have yet to sit down and watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Recruit, Narc, Old School, The Quiet American, and Equilibrium. I'd like to get ahold of Anger Management and Identity, but the people at the office are starting to complain about my hogging the bandwidth, so it looks like I have to hope and pray that the recent police crackdowns on pirated DVDs don't have too much of a lasting effect. Then again, my beloved DVD player is acting very tempermental, and may be in need of repairs. I am pretty peeved at this, since I've had the player for less than 3 years, and I've always expected (and gotten) a lot of mileage out of Sony products. For $1,100, I expected it to last much longer before needing repair. The real bummer is that it's not only Sony's top-of-the-line portable, but it's a multi-regional player, so I can play DVDs from all over the world, where most of my collection does indeed come from. Replacing it means hiking back up to HK, which I wouldn't mind, since I have a few sailing lessons to finish up there, but with SARS running rampant in the territory, I won't be able to conveniently plan a trip there in the near future. Hopefully, it won't cost too much to repair down here. Nicha took my Fuji Finepix digital camera in for repairs after 3 years of service. The service office said that the only problem was the on-off switch, and that was already covered as part of some perpetual guarantee inherent in the purchase of the product, so it doesn't cost me a thing. Bonus!

Oh yeah, I just discovered that the Cal Bears will be playing their first home game of the 2003 season on Saturday, August 30th (against Southern Mississippi), the day before Nicha and I are planning on attending a wedding in Sonoma. Yippieee!!! My first Cal football game in over 10 friggin' years!!! Very very excited, I am.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 5:24 PM |


Friday, April 18, 2003  

I was visiting Lisa's blog site, when I saw a picture that reminded me of a joke my friend Minnie told me during our Synopsys days...

Q: What has 2 thumbs and likes oral sex?
A: (See picture) =>

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:51 PM |


Friday, April 11, 2003  

Have you ever been so bored that you went web surfing to see how many webpages contain your name? I do. All the time. And I don't just go looking for my name: Nicha, my friends, my brothers, acquaintances from the distant past, any name that pops into my head during my aimless wandering.

Today, I did a Google search for "Paul Ark"; I didn't expect to find too much new material, since I've done this before. But I was pretty bored, so I went through all 10 pages of results. Imagine my surprise when, browsing through the 10th page, I discovered that a paper discussing venture capital funds that I co-authored in business school had been published! When I was in Hong Kong, I received a form from Kellogg asking permission to edit the paper for potential publication, but that was the last I heard of it until now. Apparently, Kellogg launched an academic journal focusing on technology issues, and my paper was one of those selected for the first issue (read the publication's forward here). Cool!

After I found the link, I did another search and learned that my paper was also used as a source document for a paper on technology incubators written by Samanta Carraro at Venice International University's Center for Studies on Technologies in Distributed Intelligence Systems' SDILAB (you can download the article here, but unless you can read Italian, it may not be worth it). Double cool!

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:34 PM |
 

Found this terrific poem on Nera's site:

Are you tired of all those sissy, mushy "friendship" poems that always sound good but never actually come close to reality? Well, here is a series of promises that really speaks to true friendship!
1. When you are sad, ...I will get you drunk and help you plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.
2. When you are blue, ...I'll try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
3. When you smile, ...I'll know you finally got laid.
4. When you are scared, ...I will rag you about it every chance I get.
5. When you are worried, ...I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be and to quit whining.
6. When you are confused, ...I will use little words to explain.
7. When you are sick, ...stay away from me until you're well again. I don't want whatever you have.
8. When you fall, ...I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass.
This is my oath, ...I pledge 'til the end. Why you may ask?
Because you're my friend!

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


Thursday, April 10, 2003  

"Life is a comedy for those who think. Life is a tragedy for those who feel." - Horace Walpole

To date, I've been fairly blasé about the war in Iraq, mainly because I'm a fairly cynical guy and pretty resigned to global events that are beyond my control. As a result, I tend to be more cerebral and contemplative than passionate; it's less frustrating if I don't let things that bother me whip me into a frenzy. I guess that's why I always liked the above quote.

That said, I found myself surprisingly drawn to and moved by the images of the Iraqi citizens celebrating the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime. Pundits are comparing this to the fall of the Berlin Wall, but for me, this carries so much more emotional oomph. Perhaps because Saddam's regime was oppresive and shockingly brutal like no other. Perhaps because this might be a turning point in the relationship between two religions whose tense undercurrents stretch back to the time of the Crusades (though the relationship could just as easy go the other way and the world may see a modern day Crusade/jihad). I don't know. All I could do is watch the footage and say "Wow."

How's life otherwise? Not bad. Not bad. Have been getting back in touch with friends I haven't spoken to in a while. Syracuse won the NCAA Tournament, their first. Work has hit a bit of a lull, which is nice since I need to catch up on some of the company training modules I'm slapping together and building out our knowledge infrastructure. Also, with the 4-day Songkran (Thai New Year) weekend coming up, I'd rather spend more time thinking about spending some play time with the little woman than with spreadsheets or industry analyses.

And speaking of the little woman, we had a casual but highly momentous conversation Monday night. It actually started the prior weekend when the two of us accompanied my extended family to visit the grave sites of my late grandfather and uncle to pay our respects to them (this is an annual Chinese custom known as cheng meng, and for some unfortunate reason, occurs smack dab in the middle of Thailand's hottest season). I was showing my relatives pictures of my brother Pete's chubby little peanut, and everyone started commenting when Nicha and I were expecting ours, and joking that we were falling behind (since my brother Don just welcomed his own snot-covered monster =). I jokingly replied that we still had a while to go, and had made no plans. This actually wound up bothering Nicha a little bit, because she was afraid that I was reluctant to have kids, and she brought up the subject Monday night. I told her she couldn't be farther from the truth if she tried. I have always thought that I was the more anxious one to have kids, but had put no pressure on her since I knew she wanted to develop her career a bit more, and that she might be concerned about the stability of my income.

Before we met, Nicha was never too preoccupied with starting a family. I think she always took it for granted that she would one day have kids, but for her, it was a concept that would always be in the distant future. As our relationship blossomed and after we got married, she has gradually become more focused on family plans, but since the birth of the aforementioned, extremely adorable peanut, we have both been feeling strong parental urges, which has prompted her to get a little more more clarity from me about our plans for a family. It was a conversation that I have been expecting and waiting for for a while, and was more than happy to discuss with her. I told her that I still wanted to visit the United States in August, since I wanted to visit my family, see my niece and nephew, visit 2 friends who also just had babies, and attend the wedding of a Kellogg classmate. But I felt financially secure and emotionally ready to have a family, so if she wanted to, we could start making babies this September (but keep practicing now, of course! =) and expect a kid as early as next summer. She was pretty happy about that, so tentatively, we will shoot for summer 2004, though if we come back from vacation and decide we need to wait a while longer, we will. In the last few days, we have both been pretty excited about the prospect. When she asked her boss' secretary about her company's maternity leave policy, the secretary got all excited, and Nicha started screaming "Not yet! Not yet! I'm just asking!!" I told her it won't take too long before the rumor spreads throught the entire bank.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:17 AM |
 

Come for the Shopping & Food, Stay for the SARS...

Either a case of really really bad timing, or the worst marketing campaign ever. You decide.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:36 AM |


Tuesday, April 08, 2003  

Trying to touch my monkey? You and what army, punk?

paul ark
is a
Fish-Eating Attack Monkey


...with a Battle Rating of 7.4



To see if your Food-Eating Battle Monkey can
defeat paul ark, enter your name:

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:57 PM |


Thursday, April 03, 2003  

Just came across the trailer for a soon-to-be-released film (April 11) called "Better Luck Tomorrow" that explores the darker side of a group of model young Asian American males in upper middle class Southern California. Looks pretty interesting. It brought back memories of an incident in my home town back in 1992 where a kid named Stuart Tay, an Asian American honors student at my old high school, was murdered by a group of other Asian American honors students while engaged in a conspiracy to commit felony theft. At any rate, I'll keep checking in on Kazaa in hopes that a pirated version of the film turns up soon.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 8:24 PM |
 

Well, if the war in Iraq wasn't bad enough, Asia is afflicted with SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which is wreaking havoc on the tourism industry and has freaked out the general populaces of the region. Ok, sure, that hundreds have been infected and several dozen have died over the last few months and health officials seem to be making little headway in curing or even sourcing the virus is cause for concern, but is this not just a tiny bit over-hyped? After all, with the Songkran (Thai New Year) Holiday around the corner, we can reasonably expect to see upwards of 300 gruesome highway fatalities in a matter of days. Is this death count not just as alarming? Or how about the hundreds upon hundreds of extra-judicial killings spurned by the Thai government's war on drugs in recent months? Of course the countries at risk should take every precaution to protect their citizens and visitors, but shutting down schools for weeks at a time (Hong Kong and Singapore), or implementing 14-day at-home quarantines and talks of establishing "leper colonies" (Thailand) smacks a bit of over reaction. The SARS hype has hit close to home too: Nicha has decided that, for the time being, we won't be working out at our gym, Calfornia Fitness, which tends to be always crowded with a significant number of expats and business travellers. This is actually not a bad things, as I've been pushing her to take golf lessons with me. With a long weekend coming up, I just might be able to get back out on the greens for the first time in 4 years.

By the way, am I the only one utterly sick and tired of war coverage? Can we get back to other news? It reminds me of an article featured a while back on The Onion spoofing the news saturation surrounding the Elian Gonzalez media circus. It seems like everytime Bush scratches his nuts or some Iraqi farts, CNN and BBC have to cover it. Enough already! Great, we're making progress, some people are protesting, some buildings got wiped out, some civilians were killed, yadda yadda yadda. I'm getting so numbed by this endless stream of unremarkable and indistinghuishable updates that by the time something really momentous happens, I'll probably be so inured that I won't give a frog's green ass about it.

Today, I went on a buying spree that's becoming something of a regular tradition. Every 2 years or so, I order anywhere between 4-10 new college acapella CDs. If you didn't know, yes, I am a HUGE fan of acapella music, specifically songs performed by college harmony groups, and to a lesser extent, stuff done by high school groups. I was a big fan of the Cal Men's Octet (two-time national champs in recent years) when I was a student at Berkeley, and found their renditions of 50's & 60's oldies to be utterly charming and mesmerizing. I had a few cassettes by the time I attended law school, where I discovered that one of my study group members had performed with the Smiffenpoofs at Smith College, and her boyfriend (now husband) performed with the Beelzebubs at Tufts. She gave me a few more tapes, and I become completely hooked. My interest in collegiate acapella could have very well had remained with those few albums I had, but whilst I was in New York during my MBA summer internship, I received an e-mail out of the blue by the then-business manager of the Smiffenpoofs who had stumbled onto my webpage while doing random web searches of the group's name. She learned that I loved acapella and was a fan of the Poofs, and wrote to me asking if I'd be interested in buying any of their current albums. I bought two, and fell further in love with the genre. Again, my interest could very well have stayed limited to the half dozen albums I had, but for some reason, while I was at my post-MBA Silicon Valley job, I decided to kill some time by browsing for collegiate group websites and for distributors of albums. From then on, I made it a point to check back every year or two after groups crank out new albums. What truly amazes me about the genre is the performers ablity to create such beautiful and complex melodies with only the sound of their voices (and occasionally hand-claps and other bodily-oriented sounds). Though I love the Octet's oldies sounds that brought me into the genre, most groups tend to play more contemporary pop songs. Hearing current songs that I am familiar with allows me to hear how well some groups simulate songs and even add their own spin. Also, I have been introduced to some of my favorite bands (such as Tonic and Toad the Wet Sprocket) by hearing acapella versions of their songs first. Sadly enough, Berkeley's groups don't offer their albums online, so my alma mater is poorly represented in my collection of about 25 albums (around 35 after my latest spree). However, I have become big fans of groups from schools as diverse as Penn, Brown, Harvard, Florida State, North Carolina, Dartmouth, and sadly enough (being the diehard Cal alum that I am), Stanford and USC. I can't wait to get my new albums!

Yesterday, I watched my downloaded version of "Phone Booth", Joel Schumacher's latest flick about a sniper in New York City. It was different, but very good. Colin Farrell (I am fast becoming a huge fan of this guy) plays a sleazy publicist who answers a phone call from a sniper (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, another actor whom I have become a huge fan of recently) who has been stalking him, and who threatens to kill him if he leaves the phone booth. I say its different because the story takes place entirely in real time (given his work on the film and on 24, Sutherland commented in an interview that he has become Mr. Real Time), 80% of the film takes place within the confines of the phone booth (quite a challenge for Farrell, and one he pulls off brilliantly), and because Sutherland's prescence is felt almost entirely as a disembodied voice on the phone line. I was gripped by the fantastic dialogue and the non-stop tension. I will definitely watch it again this weekend.

And speaking of movies, my HSX fantasy portfolio seems to have hit some major speed bumps. After cleaning up at the Oscars, I can't seem to pick any winners, and I've lost about $50,000-60,000 in recent days. Mind you, I'm still looking at a 25% overall return in this past month, but I seem to have lost some steam. The most frustrating trade has unfortunately been my short of the Brit-Indian hit Bend It Like Beckham. I had made a lot of money on what was a large short position, but I didn't cover my trade when I had a chance, and the popularity of this film soared in the U.S. over the last week, driving the price up and my position down. I exited at a 15% loss.

Lastly, no Pac-10 team made it to the Final Four, which was disappointing. I have no vested interest in any of the remaining teams, but I will send some smidgen of psychic energy out in support of Syracuse, the winner of the East bracket in which Cal played. Go, Orangemen!! (Lame ass fucking mascot if you ask me. What the hell is an Orangeman?!?).

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 5:25 PM |
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