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

Wednesday, December 31, 2003  

Every so often, I am reminded that, comedically speaking, Dave Barry is a god among men.

Also, here is a super-cute holiday picture of my bee-yoo-tee-ful niece Jessie going zombie a little too close to the television. I would love to post pics of her equally cute cousin Jadon, but the site that used to house his photos are gone. Take my word for it, he's cute. And like Jessie, he's inherited the Ark Family temper...=)

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:02 AM |

Tuesday, December 30, 2003  

Got this off of stilladick's site, and I just had to re-post it. Offensive? Yup. Funny? Hell yup!!

"just started smoking again and watched lord of the rings part 3. by the way...hobbits are definitely gay. i had my doubts before...but now i'm positive they eat cock. the hobbits, merry and pippin are like seigfried and roy...and towards the end of the movie when all the hobbits were jumping on the bed and giving each other goo-goo eyes...i thought all the hobbits were all gonna go to pier 1 imports and go on a mad shopping spree or something. little homos."

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 5:10 PM |

Saturday, December 27, 2003  

"You had best un-fuck yourself or I will unscrew your head and shit down your neck!!" - Gunnery Sargeant Hartman, Full Metal Jacket

Are you ready for the Movie Insult Generator? Bring it on!!

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 3:41 PM |

WOWOWOWOW!!!! Cal pulls an upset with a last second (last 2 seconds actually) field goal!! 52-49, an incredibly entertaining, high-scoring, and nail-biting game. I am hoarse from screaming cheers and jeers! I am so unbelievably amped up!!

GO BEARS!!!!!!!

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:22 PM |

I can see into the future!

Actually, this streaming audio is not live, but rather broadcasts at a 2-3 minute delay. I also have ESPN's GameCast window open, which shows what is happening graphically on a football field grid. GameCast is live, so I get to see what happens a minute or two before it happens in the streaming audio.

It's a weird sensation, bacause I'm used to exploding with excitement or anger with KGO broadcaster Joe Starkey's highs & lows. To get hyped up over a moving blip on a screen just isn't as exciting. Maybe I'll minimize the GameCast window.

Incidentally, TOUCHDOWN, BEARS!!!! Tied up at 28-28!! Also, they are the Virginia Tech Hokies. WTF is a Hokie?!?

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:55 AM |

I am such a major dumbass. I'm still messing up this time zone thing. I woke up a short while ago to discover that I completely missed Northwestern playing in the Motor City Bowl (the Wildcats lost to Bowling Green 28-24) and find myself in halftime in the Cal vs. Virginia Tech Insight Bowl (Cal trails 28-21). I knew the schedule of the games in terms of eastern standard time, but converted the game schedule into Thai time using pacific standard time, so I was off by 3 hours (plus I slept in an hour). I'm not a happy camper.

I guess it's for the best, since waking up at 6 am would have been brutal, and I don't want to be sleepy-cranky when one of my teams loses. I just wish I didn't miss the first half of the Cal game.

Ok, 2nd half has started, so I cut it off here...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:43 AM |

Friday, December 26, 2003  

Here's an interesting article in today's Bangkok Post about Prapaporn Sangchanto, the only Thai to play a hobbit in Mr. Tolkien and Mr. Jackson's most esteemed trilogy.

[UPDATE: As of January 9th, the Post removed both the article and the very cool pictures of Prapaporn, so the posted pics and link to the article have been likewise purged from this blog. Bummer]


Short work
Thailand's own tells of learning the ropes in Middle Earth as Hobbit extra
by Krissie na Klongtoey

Bringing the curtain down on the year's movie scene with a grand flourish is the final instalment of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

Who would have realised that among the thousands of actors, extras and stand-ins taking part in the 18 month filming of all three episodes in New Zealand, there was actually one Thai Hobbit, Prapaporn Sangchanto, or Fon, who was the stand-in for Frodo's friend Pippin.

As you are aware, Hobbits are small people, and that's exactly what Fon is. This 27-year-old lady stands a mere 122 cms tall and weighs 29 kgs. All you see of her, though, is a long-shot of her back riding off into the distance with the wizard Gandalf.

When an agent in New Zealand started casting for actors to play the various Hobbit stand-ins, Fon's agent submitted a videotape, and within three months they got a call back.

Fon flew to New Zealand to join the other shortlisted candidates, where she was trained to ride and sword fight with the team's stuntmaster, as well as how to walk like a male Hobbit.

"I had never ridden before and I was scared of horses,'' she recounted, her small voice full of enthusiasm nevertheless." But I had done some swordfighting before. Horses sense whether you're scared of them or not.''

In the end, Fon was selected from over 100 candidates, and she began an 18-month sojourn on location in New Zealand. Apart from riding, she encountered a lot of new experiences including snow, riding a helicopter to access some of the more remote locations- "Even the toilets had to be transported by helicopter!'' - and meeting all the famous stars who form the cast of the movie.

At first she needed an interpreter, but everyone on the set took her under their wing, teaching her English, until she became quite fluent. In turn, they wanted her to teach them Thai.

"Most of them had seen the movie The Beach and all wanted to come to Thailand.

"Aragorn [Viggo Mortensen] especially treated me like his own kid,'' she laughed.

According to Fon, the cast got into the spirit of things during their stay down-under. "Orlando Bloom [Legolas] enjoyed the challenges of bungy-jumping and parachuting, while Mortensen headed off to go fishing whenever he had the chance.

Director Peter Jackson was always wearing shorts and a reddish T-shirt. I was very in awe of him, because he was very serious while working. But in fact he's a very playful guy. Sir Ian McKellen [Gandalf] was also very playful.''

She was also very impressed by the way they prepared the sets. "The Hobbit village was built one year in advance to allow the trees to flourish. The clean-up team were so efficient. After a shoot, they cleared everything away quickly and without a trace. It was part of Peter Jackson's desire to preserve the pristine environment.

"Frodo [Elijah Wood] liked to hug me, and enjoyed playing games in the coach, but a lot of the times he was under stress because of the demanding role.

"Arwen [Liv Tyler] was the most beautiful, but she kept remarking how Asians have beautiful skin.''

During the first year, she even brought three members of the cast back to Thailand, where she acted as tour guide for a little shopping spree. "I took them to Pratunam,'' she laughed. "That was before the first movie came out, so they were not yet famous faces here in Thailand.''

She then showed a picture of the four of them on a pedestrian bridge near the downtown market area, looking like any typical Khao Sarn Road visitors. They were none other than Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd [Pippin] and Dominic Monaghan [Merry]!

During the shoot, she also starred in a short film, The Long and Short of it, produced, written and directed by Sean Astin [Sam] especially with Fon in mind. With the range in sizes of the members of the cast, Astin came up with a 5:55 min film where Fon plays the "Short'' in the film's title, and Peter Jackson makes an appearance as a bus-driver. The heart-warming film has been submitted to the 2004 Sundance Online Film Festival.

With the movies finished, she has kept a lot of good memories, as well as a number of memorabilia of the shoot - a pair of Hobbit feet which she had to wear for the film, a mini-version of Pippin's sword, a slate used by Peter Jackson on the last scene, a Lord of the Rings wind-breaker - "one of only five small ones he had made for us'', replicas of the Ring, Arwen's elf pendant and the Hobbit leaf pin.

Asked whether she thought Aragorn was handsome or not, she hesitated, and indicated her preference for Bloom. She did have a personal favourite, however. "I had a crush on the coach driver, Nigel. He's so handsome, and he took such good care of me!''

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:39 PM |

Happy Boxing Day!!

(long pause)

If you're not from the UK, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, or any other part of the once-glorious British Empire, you're probably scratching your head and asking yourself "What on God's green earth is Boxing Day?!?" That's what I was thinking my first winter in Hong Kong (I originally thought it was some HK holiday having something to do with the Boxer Rebellion). Also known as St. Stephen's Day, Boxing Day is the day that follows Christmas. Where people spend Christmas Day giving gifts to loved ones, they spend Boxing Day displaying their generosity towards the needy and indigent. A holiday that is less commercial and more charitable in nature is something we ought to have in the states.

Today is also Nicha and my 2nd wedding anniversary. We are having dinner tonight at Angelini's, arguably one of the nicest Italian restaurants in Bangkok, with a black forest cake that brings my chocoholic wife to her knees. It's not accidental that we chose Angelini's; it's located at the Shangri-La, which is where we held our Bangkok wedding reception, so it's a place that's very dear to our hearts. In fact, the hotel gave us a complimentary dinner in one of their other restaurants last year to commemorate our 1st anniversary.

It's actually a shame Nicha never got that transfer out to Hong Kong when I was there; we would have always had a 2-day holiday (Christmas and Boxing Day) to celebrate our anniversary. Then again, the weather is much nicer in Bangkok this time of the year...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 3:18 PM |

Thursday, December 25, 2003  

Merry Christmas!!!!

I hope you all have something fun planned for the holiday, if not today, then at least for New Years. My brother Pete is throwing a party at his place for New Years. From what I've heard, he throws great parties. Actually, now that I think about it, my family has a knack for it. My potlucks have always been a crowded, gut-stuffing affair. My folks only threw a handful of house parties in their life, but they were all humongous events that I'll always remember. My mom's cousins always throw a great New Years party complete with all the Thai foods I adore; I've made that tradiation a regular part of my life, and I've attended 7-8 of the last 10 of them.

Anyways, I told Pete I'd post my recipe for clam dip so he can use it for his party. This stuff goes really well with table crackers, potato or corn chips, and veggie sticks, but as I discovered over Thanksgiving, it really goes will with fried foods (tempura, chicken tenders, etc). So here it is:

Paul's Yummy Tasty Clam Dip

8 ounce package of cream cheese (i like using Philly light cream cheese)
1/2 cup of mayonnaise (again, I like to use light mayo)
6 and 1/2 ounce can of chopped Atlantic Ocean clams, drained
2 tablespoons of clam juice from the can
Worcestershire sauce
1 sprig of fresh parsley, fresh chives, and 1/4 fresh onion (fresh is the key to awesome tasting dip!)
Cayanne pepper, mixed Italian herbs/seasoning

1. Chop into fine pieces the clams, parsley, chives, and onion. The finer the pieces, the better.
2. In a saucepan or pot over low heat, soften the cream cheese and mix with the clam juice until creamy.
3. Remove from heat and blend in the mayonnaise, the clams, the parsley, chives, and onions. Add a dash of Worcestershire, Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Blend until the mixture is predominantly white in color.
4. Cool in the refrigerator for at least a half hour/45 minutes before serving.


posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:58 AM |

Tomorrow is Nicha and my wedding anniversary. Between her birthday on the 21st, and our anniversary on the 26th, the temptation is always high to get her a combo gift. In fact, this became a huge topic for debate among the telecom team when I was at Salomon. Is it better to get multiple small gifts, or one really nice one? The guys opted for one really nice one, while the girls changed the rules and argued for mutiple really nice ones. You can never get into a rational discussion about shopping with Asian ladies =P.

Well, I opted for the combo gift. I got Nicha a nice laurel leaf bracelet and earring set from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Store. The set was fashioned after the Faberge 15th Anniversary Egg commemorating the 15th anniversary of Czar Nicholas II's reign. (I would have liked to have posted a pic of the set, but they have dynamic links; you can visit the store's website if you're so inclined).

She loved it, but unfortunately, the bracelet is way too big for her wrist, and had a nasty tendency to slip right off if she isn't holding her arm perpendicular to the ground. We went by the store after watching Return of the King, and she picked out a french bourbon lily pendant necklace and earring set (pictured; no pic of earrings though), which she adores. all's well that ends well...

[Now that I've had a look at the website, I can't believe how outlandishly high the Thai import duties on jewelry are!]

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:27 AM |

Wednesday, December 24, 2003  

Bizarre, and a bit disturbing...

2003-12-24 - Wireless Flash Weird News
Ballsy Man Testing Acting Boundaries

BOSTON (Wireless Flash) -- A ballsy man in Boston is testing the boundaries of acting -- by making his testicles do the work.

The man, who calls himself "Sackie Gleason," runs a website called, where he puts his testes to the test by dressing them up in costumes and making them act out scenes from "Macbeth", "Enter The Dragon" and "Thelma And Louise."

Sure, it's nutty but Gleason sincerely believes his "multi-talented testicles" expose the works of Stanley Kubrick, John Cassavettes and Sam Peckinpah to a new audience.

That doesn't mean Gleason wants to keep his testicles confined to a film set. His true love is the live stage and he gleefully admits his testes thrive during "live theatrical interpretations on request."

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 9:11 PM |

Tuesday, December 23, 2003  

Go, Thailand! Go!

Hugh flees from hookers

in Bangkok

SHOCKED Hugh Grant fled a Bangkok bar - chased by dozens of hookers trying to grab his WILLY. The movie heart-throb ventured in for a drink with two minders and ended up scarpering with his hands in front of his crotch.

Hugh, 43 - in Thailand filming the sequel to Bridget Jones's Diary - only managed to down one beer before two girls dancing in bikinis recognised him and leapt from the stage.

They made a beeline for his flies - as is the custom among Bangkok tarts. A horde of others taking a break between dances joined them.

One of the girls, a 23-year-old beauty called Tippawan, said yesterday: "The girls were dancing to One Night In Bangkok. They jumped from the stage and went straight for him together with the others. Hugh clutched himself with his hands."

Hugh, who was famously arrested in his car with Hollywood hooker Divine Brown, had gone with his bodyguards to a street called Soi Cowboy - notorious for its go-go bars, naked dancers and "ladyboy" transvestites.

The red-faced actor was in the Tilac bar when he was spotted.

Tippawan said sadly: "He would have been a good catch. But I guess he did not feel comfortable. He hurried out - and left the street."

Earlier the star had suffered more embarrassment while filming a scene with an elephant.

The animal turned out to have a weak bladder - and Hugh wound up having to change his clothes.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 8:58 PM |

Sunday, December 21, 2003  

Today was Nicha's 30th birthday, and she hates how I keep reminding her of it. I told her there's no point in getting snippy with me about it. I didn't make her turn 30; I'm just pointing it out. I told her: "If I say the sky is blue, it doesn't mean I made it blue. It was blue already. So why get mad at me just because you're an old woman now?" My bruises are healing nicely, thank you very much.

Don't feel too bad for her; her ego has been getting a major boosting lately. Friday night, she attended her company's year-end holiday dinner and party. As one of the recent hires, she and the other newbies had to perform a dance for the amusement of the company veterans. She and the others decided to do a Hawaiian dance, and even went so far as to study the opening dance sequence from "Lilo & Stitch" and practice in our apartment the night before. After the performance, the MC went down the line asking for introductions (mainly where each of the youngsters had just recently graduated from). Being the only person in the line-up who hadn't just come out of school, most of the guests where taken aback to find out that this hot young chick actually came out of an MBA program 4 years earlier. If that wasn't enough, Nicha and I attended my cousin's wedding reception last night. Performing at the reception were these 2 adorable little girls (around 6 or 7 years of age) decked out in traditional Thai dress and doing a traditional Thai dance. Nicha noticed the 2 of them speaking with their mother and pointing at her, after which the girls' mother asked if she could take a picture of Nicha with her 2 daughters. Apparently, the girls told their mother that Nicha looked like a movie star, and wanted a picture with her. Nicha was all smiles after that.

We had a very low key day today. We caught a morning showing of "The Return of the King", which we absolutely loved. We were on the edge of our seats the entire time, and found the ending very satisfying. My one complaint: Frodo is a complete pussy. He's always getting the crap kicked out of him, whilst Sam is always saving the day. I was also disappointed that the elvish chicks didn't have stronger roles. Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchett were little more than eye candy. The New York Times reviewer had a great comment where he compared Liv Tyler's scarce speaking roles with the "spoken portions of a Spinal Tap album." I had to laugh at that. I was, however, duly impressed with Miranda Otto's butt-kicking Eowyn. She really came into her own this film, and probably provided the strongest female character of the trilogy. Overall, the film had little in the way of character development (most of the key characters having been introduced in the first 2 films), and was largely story-driven. All-in-all, a dazzling piece of cinematic story-telling. I may watch it again this week.

We spent the rest of the day taking it easy at her parent's place, which capped a very long weekend (if not week). We spent most of Saturday before my cousin's wedding about an hour out of town to say blessings for my other cousin who passed away last month. It was a much smaller gathering than at her cremation. This time around, we said our prayers and made offering to the monks before we took her ashes out to sea. I thought I was over really crushing sorrow I felt weeks ago, but seeing Je Suong's husband Woody crying over her ashes broke my heart, and I started to cry again. On our way back in, we saw a family of dolphin playing near our boat. It was a beautiful way to say goodbye.

The prior weekend and intervening week were only slightly less eventful, but certainly no less interesting. Last weekend, we attending a house party hosted by one of the senior bankers in Nicha's department. It was a fabulously designed house. I have never felt the urge to own a house, seeing property ownership as the ultimate commitment, if not inconvenience (even more or a commitment than marriage; a spouse is more mobile than property).But this house…wow! It was done in a very modern style. Minimalist, lost of bright space, efficient use of space and light, very crisp and clean. I loved it. I asked Nicha to get the name of her colleague's architect & designer. With that kind of styling, I would not hesitate to build a house. One other thing I should mention about the party. Of the gaggle of small children running around, there was one young boy (no more than 3 or 4) who was particularly energetic, mischievous, and charming. When Nicha asked the boy's mother about him, she told us that the baby's name was "Website". Huh?!? Thai people have both a formal given name (usually the long ones Thai people are famous for) as well as a nickname used in everyday conversation (or chuer len, literally "play name"). People are mostly named after natural things, like animals and plants. Nicha's nickname is Neung, Thai for "one", she being the eldest child in her family. I've heard of same kids with parents who were big auto fanatics, hence names such as Ford, Benz, or Bee-emm (for BMW). Well, in this case, this kid's father was obsessed about computers and the Internet, and hence, Website. I guess Web for short will make a decent appellation. Unique kid with a unique name. I had to laugh.

The work week was an otherwise busy one. I love my new company. We have a fairly plump deal pipeline. I myself have about 5 projects on my plate, including 2 potential deals I'm trying to bring in. The upshot is that I haven't been getting a whole lotta sleep. But no complaints here. I'm out marketing, meeting executives at banks and corporates, talking strategy and possible deals. I'm learning, and that's something I haven't been able to say in a long time.

The end of the year has brought with it some terrific news. The climate has become very pleasant. The Thais find it chilly (mid 70's farenheit), but I'm loving it. I love this time of year more than any other in Bangkok. One of my old friends Jack has moved back to Bangkok, having left his job as Wall Street banker. We were analysts out here back in the mid-to-late 90's, and went back for our MBAs at about the same time. He's in the "finding himself" phase, and I hope he decides to stay out here. I could always use more friends! Also on the topic of MBAs, I just heard from one of my former analysts John that he got into Wharton. He sounded completely ecstatic, and extremely grateful, since I had written one of his recommendation letters, as well as gave him extended advice on his essays. It's the sort of pride that an older brother might take in a youngter brother's accomplishments. Go John! Between the work I did advising a girl on her law school applications and this recent success, I've been giving more thought to starting a grad school application advisory business. But if the past is any indication, it's probably nothing more than mental masturbation...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:47 PM |

Tuesday, December 16, 2003  

"Just a gigolo
Everywhere I go
People know the part I'm playing
Paid for every dance
Selling each romance
Every night some heart betraying
There will come a day
Youth will pass away
Then what will they say
About me?
When the end comes I know
They'll say just a gigolo
As life goes on without me..."

- "Just a Gigolo" by David Lee Roth

Are you interested in an exciting and fulfilling career as a MAN-WHORE? If so, this is the resource for you!

(Credit to Dave for the link)

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:29 PM |

Found these on the Rice Bowl Journals courtesy of Ming aka Minimoo; I couldn't resist posting them.

The Difference between Men and Women

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:08 PM |

Saturday, December 13, 2003  

No time for an extended blog today; work is really kicking my ass this weekend. But I'll leave off with an excerpt from an interview with Bob Barker regarding his 80th birthday that I though was pretty funny:

Times: That kind of celebrity worship must happen pretty often.

Barker: "I tell you who's had the biggest effect: Adam Sandler. For one of his early pictures, Happy Gilmore, he wrote a part in which I played myself in a golf tournament and we had this fight. That happened four or five years ago, and I don't do a taping at which somebody doesn't ask me something about that movie. Mostly, they want to know why I haven't done more pictures. I tell them the reason is because I refuse to do nude scenes. I don't want to be just another beautiful body."

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:02 AM |

Wednesday, December 10, 2003  

Another demented-yet-oh-so-fun holiday-themed link.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 7:58 PM |

I was so focused on Cal (5-3, 7-6, 4th in conference) making it into post-season play that I had completely neglected Northwestern (4-4, 6-6, 8th in conference), which I have just learned is also playing in a bowl game. Like the Bears, the Wildcats will also be playing on December 26th; they are matched up against Bowling Green in the Motor City Bowl in (where else?) Detroit. Luckily, it will be Saturday on this side of the world, so I'll be tuned into both Friday night EST games via Internet. Before I went off to business school, I was really excited about going to a Big Ten school, particularly one that had taken the conference and gone to the Rose Bowl in the two years prior before I would enroll (going to the Rose Bowl was a major pipedream I clung to the entire time I was at Cal). But the year I started b-school and pretty much every year since, the Wildcats have pretty much been in the toilet of the Big Ten. It comes as a pleasant surprise that both my alma maters will be playing this holiday season!

If there any Cal or Northwestern fans out there, here is the play schedule for December 26th:
Northwestern vs. Bowling Green (7-2, 10-3, 1st in Mid-American West) at 5:00 pm EST
Berkeley vs. Virginia Tech (4-3, 8-4, 4th in Big East) at 9:30 pm EST

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 9:46 AM |

Tuesday, December 09, 2003  

"Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. All you do is leave behind a lot of noisy baggage."- Unknown

The word has spread on the web that Google has a funny little trick where you type in "miserable failure" and hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button to direct to a pretty funny response. Ami has just called my attention to one just as funny: type in "French military victories", hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, and follow the link. I love ragging on the French!! =)

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:17 AM |

Sunday, December 07, 2003  

It is too presumptuous to nominate myself for the "so-prestigious-that-it's-never-existed-before-and-no-one-has-ever-heard-of-it" inaugural Asia Weblog Awards 2003, Best Thai blog? Well, so what if it is? If you're Thai: either vote for me or nominate yourself; hype up the Thai culture! If you're not Thai, vote for me! Or if not for me, then vote for a really hot chick, just so I can soothe my wounded ego by justifying to myself that I never stood a chance...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:02 AM |

What an eventful week. Where do I start? Chronologically, of course! Warning: this post is gonna be a long one!

Last Sunday, Ami and I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. Since we don't get the 4-day weekend our stateside brothers and sisters enjoy, we decided to hold it over the weekend. We zero'ed in on Sunday, since it was the day most were able to make it. Nicha's best friend placed an order for an 11-pound turkey with a local gourmet grocery chain, and we began allocating out the remaining stuff to the guest list. I suggested to Nicha and Ami's girlfriend Nueng that we ought to have 1 or 2 Thai entrees to accomodate those guests who didn't want to have just turkey, and because an 11-pound turkey likely wouldn't be enough for the 17 guests we were expecting to show up. I decided to make my clam dip, which has displaced my breaded fish fillet as my signature dish.

Well, things started to take a weird turn. Most of the friends I invited called at the last minute saying they had to cancel. I wouldn't have minded if it was just 1 or 2 people, but when 5 of them cancel at the last minute, I get pissed! These things take planning! And the cost of a fully-cooked turkey with trimming ain't cheap. Plus, we were counting on the others to bring stuff like snacks, booze, and desserts. Not only was I looking at a much smaller guest list, but Nicha and Nueng went overboard on entrees. Between the two of them, they made something on the order of 7-8 other dishes. Nicha made salad and chicken fajitas, while Nueng prepared curry, fried shrimps & calimari, and a bunch of things I can't even remember. I went from worrying about not having enough food to having too much! Luckily, a few other friends who originally couldn't make it did, and they brought friends! Hungry ones! The dinner was not only salvaged, but it turned out to be a great deal of fun. About half broke off after dinner to play cards (my wife lost a bunch of my money), while the rest of us chatted away. Plus, people scarfed down my clam dip. Normally, I just spread the dip on table crackers, but Ami showed me that they make a great dip for deep-fried shrimps. Scrumptious! When Nicha started packing up what was left of the dip, Nueng looked at the bowl with a wistful, longing look which turned into a very happy glow when Nicha relinquished the leftovers. My ego swelled just a wee bit =).

We got home close to midnight, but my ordeal was just beginning. I had about 7 hours before I had to get up and head over to Thammasat University to give my lecture on e-commerce business models, and I was still about 2-3 hours away from completing my presentation. I was already pretty tired from the party, so by the time I got to bed, I was majorly fucked up. Overall, the lecture went quite well. As with my previous lectures, I presented stuff which the students and professor alike found interesting if not educational and downright entertaining. What I did find remarkable was how little these college kids knew about anything cutting edge on the Net. When it comes to mobile technology, Asians lead the world in the latest and greatest, but when it comes to setting web trends, Thais aren't even followers; they have very little idea of what's even out there. Case in point: no one in my class even knew what a blog was. One of the largest advancements in web communication, and no one in the class had even seen much less heard of one before. To be fair, Thai ISPs still charge on a per-minute time-metered basis, so it can be costly to just wnader about on the web. Still, I expect college kids to at least have an inkling of some of the more cutting edge stuff that I talk about.

They did find my case study on online dating and Hot or Not to be amusing, something I'm sure they've at least experimented with after the lecture. Since none of them have ever heard of Hot or Not, it was a lot of fun to watch their reactions as I simulated a few ratings, throwing up pictures of an incredibly good looking guy and girl, as well as those of a rather hideous pair. What was particularly fun was when I threw up a picture of Nicha that I knew they wouldn't recognize (and one that I know she hates). Students threw out ratings of "5", "7" and "3", and were undisguised in their surprise when I revealed that she had a rating of 9.1. When I asked if anyone recognized her, I only got negatives and blank stares. I then gave them a hint: she was a guest in this class room 2 weeks earlier (when Nicha and I had attended Ami's lecture; she even explained a few key points in Thai and chatted with students during the break). The look on many of their faces when they realized who the girl in the picture was, and when it dawned on them that they had inadvertantly insulted the lecturer and his wife was priceless!! It came as no suprise that when I next threw up a rather unflattering picture of myself (intentionally so) that I immediately received several boisterous and obsequious "10s". Ass kissers...=)

I normally would have lunch with the professor after class, but Monday was particularly special: it was the first day of work at my new job! I'm the newest associate director (and the 6th professional) of Imprimis Limited, a start-up boutique investment bank with offices in Bangkok and Singapore. Incidentally, I commented a few weeks back that I had no idea how my colleagues came up with the name Imprimis or what it was supposed to signify. I have since learned that it is Latin for "among the first," which begs the question: among the first what?

I rushed over to the new office, but as it would turn out, I wouldn't be spending much time there. At the Thanksgiving dinner the previous night, I chatted with my business school roommate, who had left his job at Boston Consulting Group to start his own consulting outfit. He was off to a successful start, and wanted to meet with me and Jim (another Kellogg classmate who recruited me into Imprimis) to discuss possible M&A transactions involving one of his clients. Unfortunately, the meeting was scheduled in the mid-afternoon on the outskirts of town, so I had to get to the office, get a map to the meeting place, and shoot over there. No time for lunch, and I was starving! The meeting itself was productive, and it was a nice little b-school reunion to boot. By the time we got back to the office, I had enough time to photocopy some reading material and grab a 5 pm lunch before I had to race over to my old company to conduct my regular training sessions for the analysts.

I'm extremely excited about the new job. I miss being among focused and ambitious investment bankers, and after my experience with Tonson Capital, I like the intimate and entrepreneurial envionment that Imprimis presents. I still feel like I want and need to work under accomplished mentors, but at the same time given the freedom and guidance to chase down my own clients. Nicha is having a ball on her new job too. Though she was expected to take some time to get settled in, she immediately brought in some notable deals, and even closed a deal her boss had stuggled for 2 months to close. Her boss is expremely happy with her, and hasn't hesitated to give her credit in front of regional heads out of Singapore. She's on a major fast track, and couldn't be happier.

The rest of the week was pretty much devoted to getting up to speed on projects I will be working on, as well as getting my computer hooked up to the wireless LAN (went the entire week without network access, and will test a new wireless network card on Monday). I (with Ami in tow) also resumed my corporate training sessions for a sister and brother team who are the next generation of leadership at family owned Five Star Production, a Thai movie studio. This has been a particulrly fun and fruitful experience, since this is not only developing into a potentially promising business relationship, but also a budding friendship as well. I've been teaching these classes for free, but the sis-bro buy me dinner afterwards every week, and I am gradually learning about the film industry. During the course of our last session, Ami even managed to do some pretty meaningful analysis of the local film industry using data they gave us at beginning of the evening. He enjoys that type of stuff, but I wouldn't be surprised if they retained either or both of us in some capacity in the near future as the come to trust us as friends and advisers. Plus, they are just a lot of fun to hang around.

This weekend is a 3-day weekend, as the King's Birthday/Father's Day was on Friday. It was pretty much a lazy morning for Nicha and me, and we headed over to her folk's place to have dinner and spend the night. Nicha was pretty excited; she loves her freedom, but occasionally she needs to spend some lengthy, quality time with her family. I managed to get some work done, and her family and I sat down after dinner to watch the Vietnam War film "We We Soldiers." In a word: fantastic. One of the best war films I've ever seen. Although it was told from the American perspective, it did a good job of humanizing rather demonizing the Viet Cong. Mel Gibson turned in another star performance, and Madeliene Stowe, Sam Elliot, and Greg Kinnear were marvelous in their supporting roles.

Today, Nicha and I got to sleep in, which was a much needed respite from a rough but exciting week. We hung around for the morning, and in the afternoon swung by the nearby expo center to attend an electronics expo. She wanted to look for a HP financial calculator, and I wanted to stop by the Sony booth to look at their new 5 megapixel digital camera (my Fuji camera is, after almost 4 years, on the fritz and needs replacing). As it turns out, the expo featured mostly laptops, the HP booth had no calculators, and there wasn't even a Sony booth. In a nutshell, the event sucked ass. I'm glad we had free tickets; if we had to pay for admission, I would have had to bend over and kick myself in the ass. The only thing that was remotely interesting was the Toshiba prototype for an e-book reader. It looks like an ultra-slim notebook, and folds out like an actual book (with the dual screens acting as the left and right pages of a book). If the price is right, I may consider getting one when they are released. The market for e-books isn't a great one, but publishers are persistent and continue to both release new titles and convert old ones into electronic format. I love reading e-books, and lord knows I'm running out of space around the apartment for the paper books I continue to accumulate.

As we left the electronics expo, we grabbed a Thai iced cofee and a bunch of donut holes from the Dunkin Donuts concession stand, and wandered towards the motor expo nearby as we munched on our snack. It cost only Baht 60 ($1.50) a piece to get in, and since we had already come out all that way, we figured why not go in? I normally don't care for auto shows, and am a bit of a gadget freak, so it was quite ironic that I was disappointed about the electronics expo but had such a great time at the auto show. I even learned a new Thai term too. Apparently, the model-babes hired by the car companies to make PA annoucements about the latest models, pose for pictures with the cars, and even answer a few questions about the cars are referred to as a "pretty" (or multiple "pretties") by Thais. It's used as a noun, and is used like so: "The 2 pretties at the Jaguar section are cute." And speaking of Jaguar, Nicha absolutely fell in love with the X-Type. She was drooling over it for ages, and peppered the sales rep with questions. It got so bad that when she was sitting on the driver's side in one of the cars over at Audi, she whipped out the Jaguar brochure and complained that she didn't like the dashboard layout as much as the X-Type, with the Audi rep standing nearby. The car costs about Baht 3.9 million (over US$ 97 grand; frickin' import duties!!), so it will take a bit of saving to get ahold of one. Since Nicha has had a gangbusters first 2 weeks on the new job, she praying for a huge bonus at the end of 2004 so she can get her new dream car.

As for me, I fell in love with the BMW Z4 Roadster. When I visited my buddy Ken in Germany in the summer of 2002, we cruised around Northern Germany in his Porsche Boxter S convertible, and I became really enamoured with the roadster, not just with Porsche's, but with BMW's and Daimler Benz's models as well. I don't care as much for the Benz, since it's under-stylized and over-priced, but the Z4 is a classy-looking ride. Seeing it up close brought out all my Pavlovian responses, and I was practically salivating all over the leather seats. It will set me back about as much as Nicha's X-Type, but if Imprimis hits its targets next year, I may in for a decent bonus as well. Hell, if I'm gonna plunk down simoleans for my first car purchase, I'm gonna make it a good one. Nicha thinks it's too much money for a car than can't hold any of our future kids, but my solution is easy: we stuff 'em in the trunk! Nicha's petite; how big can our kids be?!? Besides, I told her we'll be able to afford it under my innovative and ingenious savings plan: we pick the kid we like the most and he/she gets to go to college; the rest we put to work at an early age =)

I love my wife, but I'll be dreaming about my Z4 Roadster tonight...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:46 AM |

Thursday, December 04, 2003  

Crank up the audio for this one; it's funny!

The 12 STD's of Christmas

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:25 AM |

What is your Cyborg Name?

You may refer to me as either P.A.U.L.: Positronic Artificial Utility Lifeform, or P.O.L.A.P.A.T.: Positronic Obedient Lifeform Assembled for Peacekeeping and Accurate Troubleshooting. I'm either a slave-bot, or a pansy pacifist-droid...

Actually, this one is cool: P.A.U.L.A.R.K.: Positronic Artificial Unit Limited to Accurate Repair and Killing. I can only build...or destroy!

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

Wednesday, December 03, 2003  

Between arranging and attending Sunday's Thanksgiving dinner party (my first in Thailand since 1995), teaching my Thammasat class yesterday morning, starting my first day of work at the new job, training the analysts at my old job yesterday evening, attending my first full day of work today, and teaching a corporate training class this evening, I am extremely worked over. I need sleep! I'll write more about all the events of the pass few days later, but I did want to leave off with this article about Cal's invitation to attend the Insight Bowl on December 26th. This bowl invitation ends a 7-year post-season play drought. Interestingly enough (to me at least), the Insight Bowl used to be the Copper Bowl, the bowl game that Cal (and me, and my frat bros) attended back in 1990, which ended a 12-year bowl game drought, and was their bowl game win in 52 years.

Bears To Travel to Phoenix for Insight Bowl
Tedford Has Engineered Football Program’s Turnaround

By Eli Miller
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Coach Jeff Tedford has brought Cal back-to-back winning seasons and its first bowl game appearance since 1996.

The seven-year postseason drought has officially ended for the Cal football team.
Yesterday, athletic director Steve Gladstone announced that the Bears have accepted an invitation to play in the Insight Bowl, which will be held Dec. 26 at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, Ariz.

Cal, who was excluded from postseason play last year because of its probationary status, will face Big East power Virginia Tech in its first bowl game appearance since the Aloha Bowl in 1996.

“It is such a great opportunity for our program,” Bears coach Jeff Tedford said. “I know our players are excited about it. They went through a lot to accomplish this, so I know in the coming weeks, they’ll be very focused on the task at hand.”

The invitation is the culmination of one of the most successful opening coaching tenures in Cal football history. Tedford has led the Bears to their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1990-1991, and he has the most wins (14) in his first two seasons as Cal coach since Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf registered 19 wins from 1947 to 1948.

Based on its plus-.500 record and third-place finish tie in the Pac-10, the Bears (7-6, 5-3 in the conference) were guaranteed to find themselves in a bowl game of some kind. Cal was also mentioned as a possibility for the Sun and Las Vegas Bowls, but the most likely invitation seemed to be from the Insight Bowl, which takes the fourth-place team from the Pac-10.

The Bears would have been a more viable candidate to the Sun Bowl, which takes the conference’s third-place squad, but its loss to Oregon (8-4, 5-3) means the Ducks will almost assuredly be selected for the Dec. 31 game in El Paso, Tex.

“What bowl game we go to, that really doesn’t matter,” Cal offensive lineman Mark Wilson said. “It’s a great chance to end the season on a high note.”

Though this is only the 15th edition of the Insight Bowl, the contest has undergone two name changes. Formerly the Copper Bowl, it was changed to the Bowl after the Web site gained sponsorship of the event in 1997. Then, last year, the dot-com moniker was dropped to represent the sponsor’s growth beyond the online realm.

The Bears have been to this bowl before, beating Wyoming 17-15 under coach Bruce Snyder in 1990. Snyder’s victory was also a significant drought-ender—it marked Cal’s first bowl appearance in 12 years, and, remarkably, its first bowl victory since shutting out Alabama 13-0 in the 1938 Rose Bowl.

Virginia Tech (8-4, 4-3 in the Big East), meanwhile, has never played a game in the state of Arizona, nor have the Hokies ever faced a team from the Pac-10.

One thing the Hokies have done under coach Frank Beamer is appear in the postseason 11 consecutive seasons. Ranked as high as No. 3 this season, Virginia Tech features running back Kevin Jones, who is tied for first in the nation with 20 rushing touchdowns and is seventh with 1,494 yards rushing.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:57 AM |
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