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

Wednesday, December 29, 2004  

Let's see if I get this straight. The US government puts together a $15 million aid package, and gets all huffy when the UN calls it stingy. So they kick in another $20 million, for a grand total that is still $5 million less than donations received for Bush's inauguration ball. Compassionate conservatism at its best.

I hope the private donors are a bit more generous than the government.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:00 PM |

Tuesday, December 28, 2004  

If I had to make an educated guess, I'd have to say that this was a clusterfuck of literally seismic proportions. I have no doubt that somebody's nuts are going to be on the chopping block as a result of this.

Warning rejected to protect tourism
December 28, 2004
The Nation

Minutes after the earthquake hit northern Sumatra at 7.58am on Sunday, officials of the Meteo-rological Department, who were at a seminar in Cha-am, convened an emergency meeting chaired by Supharerk Tansrirat-tanawong, director-general.

They had just learned that the Bangkok office had reported a quake measuring at 8.1 on the Richter scale, which was much lower than the level officially recorded later.

“We didn’t think there would be subsequent seismic waves, because a similar quake of 7.6 on the Richter scale, which hit Sumatra on November 2, 2002, did not affect Thailand,” said a member of the department who asked not to be named.

Moreover, the quake this time hit west of Sumatra and officials thought the island might offer a natural shelter, preventing any waves from breaking towards Phuket and its vicinity, he said.

With slightly less than one hour before the waves came ashore, Supharerk said, the department officials did not expect a tsunami. There are just four people on the department’s 900-person staff who are earthquake experts, he said. Also, a tsunami had not hit Thailand in more than 300 years.

But sources said they did discuss the likelihood that a tsunami could hit Thailand’s Andaman Sea coastal towns. This was also played down.

“The very important factor in making the decision was that it’s high [tourist] season and hotel rooms were nearly 100-per-cent full. If we issued a warning, which would have led to evacuation, [and if nothing happened], what would happen then? Business would be instantaneously affected. It would be beyond the Meteorological Department’s ability to handle. We could go under, if [the tsunami] didn’t come,” said a source who attended the meeting.

“We hesitated for a while whether we should issue a warning or not. It was discussed but we didn’t have a chance to do it.”

Supharerk denied that tourism factored into the discussion at the 11th hour. “I think we have done our best,” he said.

Precisely at 9am that Sunday, waves as high as 3 to 10 metres hit the main southern coastal provinces of Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Ranong.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 5:06 PM |

A few photos from The Drowned World, Time Magazine's photo essay of the tsunami aftermath.

An Indian man cries as he holds the hand of his eight-year-old son killed in a tsunami in Cuddalore, 120 miles south of the Indian city of Madras. At least 21,000 people were killed in coastal areas across south Asia after an earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra produced a deadly tsunami

A man looks for relatives among victims of the earthquake in Banda Aceh. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono declared three days of national mourning Monday as the death toll from a massive earthquake off the coast of the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra climbed past 4,700

The Marina beach in Madras hours after the tidal waves hit in the early morning Sunday

Cars pile up at Patong beach resort on the island of Phuket, Thailand

Thai workers make coffins in Krabi province, southern Thailand. Hundreds of people were reported missing and at least 866 feared dead following the deadly earthquake

Indian woman mourns family members killed in the tsunami at a burial ground in Madras

Indian women sit atop the debris of their house that was destroyed when the tsunami hit in Cuddalore. Soldiers continued the search for bodies in treetops as families wept over the dead laid on beaches and rescuers scoured coral isles for missing tourists

The death toll currently stands at 26,000, and with the prospect of devastated infrastructure and lack of clean water leading to regional pandemics, the worst is yet to come. If you can spare the cost of a few Starbucks frappucinos or extra value meals, why not donate to one of these organizations that are working around the clock to assist the millions who are now homeless in South and Southeast Asia?

Red Cross/Red Crescent


Save the Children

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 3:22 PM |

The death toll is staggering. An estimated 22,000 dead, over a third of them children. Thousands of additional deaths are expected in the aftermath as starvation and epidemic set in (not to mention when the media black-out in Aceh is lifted and official casualty reports are released, which are estimated to be as high as another 20,000 dead). The waves even hit as far as Kenya and Somalia. The Thai tourist industry estimates that it will take at least 2 years to recover from the devastation, and the royal family has called for a cancellation of holiday festivities and a mourning of 7 days. The livelihoods of thousands in South Asia are utterly destroyed and may never recover. I've been fortunate that no one I know has been caught up in the devastation (as far as I know), but I am still completely stunned.

I was watching one of the newscasters on CNN interview a seismologist from one of the U.S. geological institutes, and while the scientist was patiently and graciously trying the explain what had happened, the newcaster did everything short of pointing at and accusing the seismologist of single-handedly causing the devastation himself. "So you were able to predict the tsunamis would occur after the quake?" "So why didn't anyone pick up a phone and warn someone?" "So how much would it have cost to put in an early warning system?" Fucking asshole. I'm impressed that the seismologist didn't give him the bird right then and there.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:07 AM |

Monday, December 27, 2004  

Grandson of Thai king among tsunami dead
27 Dec 2004 08:18:54 GMT
Source: Reuters

BANGKOK, Dec 27 (Reuters) - The 21-year-old grandson of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej was among those killed by a tsunami that struck southern Thailand, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Monday.

Bhumi Jensen was last seen jet-skiing off Krabi when the deadly wave battered the popular resort area. His body was found later by rescue workers near Khao Lak beach.

Bhumi is the son of the king's eldest daughter, Princess Ubolratana, who gave up some of her royal privileges after marrying a foreign commoner.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:22 PM |

(Map courtesy of

"Nothing to see here, move along. It's only a tragedy when god fearing white folks die." - Anonymous

I pulled this comment from the Fark forum. Though it was said completely in cynical jest, it really isn't too far from the truth with regards to the general attitude in mainstream America with regards to the value that is placed on an American life over a non-American. An event with 5-7 times the death toll as the World Trade Center attack, affecting half a dozen countries and nationals from many, many more, and what kind of news coverage does it merit in the United States? Well, as long as it doesn't pre-empt football or favorite reality shows or hot prime-time dramas, then the best you can hope for is perhaps a 10 second sound-byte. My brother mentioned that the evening news made almost no mention of death toll, except that a few Americans might have died. Fuck the 13,980 brown people; 20 Americans might have died!!

Apparently, it was only after the guys at CNN realized that the BBC might have something more interesting to broadcast than re-runs of Larry King Live did coverage really begin in earnest (though in all honesty, the website has had pretty good coverage; I shudder to think what kind of short thrift the regional and local news stations are giving the story). After the outpouring of grief and sympathy that the world offered to us after 9/11, I pray we can divert our collective attention from The Apprentice or The OC long enough to give a rat's ass about the thousands who died horrific, tragic deaths, or their family members who witnessed them.

Save the Children and Red Cross/Red Crescent are just a few of the agencies that have set up relief funds to victims. Instead of blowing your entire annual bonus on those after-Christmas sales, why not open that wallet and give a little to help those who don't have much to celebrate (for or with) this year?

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:53 PM |

The quake has been upgraded to a 9.0, making it the 4th most powerful quake in recorded history. Death toll revised to around 11,000, with up to 400 dead, 700 injured, and 200 missing in Thailand.

[Update: death toll now at over 14,000. 430 dead in Thailand, with hundreds missing]

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 8:11 AM |

Sunday, December 26, 2004  

I wanted to write a catch-up blog about all the things that happened to me this past month, but all of it is rather routine and pales in comparison to the disaster that has hit the peoples of Asia. What tragic way to end the year. My prayers go out to all the victims and their loved ones. My personal update will have to wait.

Asia quake, tsunamis kill 4,800
Sunday, December 26, 2004 Posted: 1608 GMT (0008 HKT)

(CNN) -- Massive tsunamis triggered by the largest earthquake to shake the planet in over 40 years have wiped out coastal areas across southeastern Asia, killing more than 4,800 people -- most of them in Sri Lanka and India.

The initial quake, measuring 8.9 in magnitude, struck about 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island around 7 a.m. Sunday (0000 GMT), according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center.

It is the fifth largest earthquake in recorded history, according to the NEIC.

Sri Lankan military authorities are reporting over 2,400 people killed, most of them in the eastern district of Batticaloa. Several districts in the country's south have still not reported casualty figures, and authorities fear the death toll could rise.

Officials, however, said thousands were missing and more than a half million had been displaced.

The huge waves also swept away a high security prison in Matara, in southern Sri Lanka, allowing 200 prisoners to escape. Eyewitnesses in eastern Sri Lankan port city of Trincomalee reported waves as high as 40 feet (12 meters), hitting inland as far as half a mile (1 km).

Sri Lankan officials imposed a curfew as night fell, and tourists were being evacuated from the eastern coasts to the capital, Colombo, unaffected on the west coast.

India has agreed to help assist Sri Lanka, sending two naval ships to the resort town of Galle, in the south, and Trincomalee, according to Colombo officials. Indian aircraft will bring in relief supplies to the country on Monday.

India itself is reeling from the aftermath of the quake and tsunami. Indian officials said at least 1,800 Indians were killed as a result of the massive waves. A resident of Chennai (formerly Madras) in Tamil Nadu district -- the hardest hit area -- said he witnessed several people being swept away by a tidal wave there.

Along India's southeastern coast, several villages appeared to have been swept away, and thousands of fishermen -- including 2,000 from the Chennai area alone -- who were out at sea when when the massive waves swept across the waters have not returned.

Along the coast, the brick foundations of village homes were all that remained.

Interior Minister Shivraj Patil told CNN 700 people were killed in Tamil Nadu state and 200 in Andhra Pradesh. Poor communications with India's remote Andaman and Nicobar islands, which were closer to the quake's epicenter, has prevented any reports of damage and casualties. Most of the aftershocks have been centered off those islands.

Thai authorities say more than 250 are feared dead, and hundreds are missing. One witness said Phuket's famed Laguna Beach resort area is "completely gone." The area provides 40 percent of Thailand's $10 billion annual tourist income.

Among the missing were a number of scuba divers exploring the Emerald Cave off Phuket's coast.

Phuket's airport, which closed down when its runways flooded, reopened, but most roads remained closed, as officials tried to assess the damage, fearing structural damage to buildings closer to the shore.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Chinnawat arrived in Phuket and said the situation was "under control." He told CNN he planned to stay the night and direct rescue and relief efforts.

Over 500 people were killed Indonesia by the quake and the following tsunamis -- many of them in Aceh, in northern Sumatra, about 100 miles from the quake's epicenter, according to local reports.

"We still haven't got any reports from the western coast of Aceh, which is closest to the epicenter so officials are bracing themselves for a lot more bad news," said journalist John Aglionby in Jakarta.

The earthquake is classified as "great" -- the strongest possible classification given by the NEIC.

NEIC geophysicist Don Blakeman said all of the tsunamis were triggered by the initial quake. Waverly Person, Blakeman's colleague at NEIC, said the tsunamis are "long over at this point," and residents and visitors should not be concerned with more high water.

One major aftershock, measuring 7.3 in magnitude, struck about 200 miles (300 km) northwest of Banda Aceh -- on Sumatra's northernmost tip -- over four hours after the initial quake, according to the NEIC. The rest of the aftershocks measured under 6.5 in magnitude.

The NEIC expects the quake to produce hundreds of smaller aftershocks, under 4.6 magnitude, and thousands smaller than that.

"A quake of this size has some pretty serious effects," he said.

He explained the quake was the energy released from "a very large rupture in the earth's crust" over 600 miles (1,000 km) long. The rupture created shockwaves that moved the water along at several hundred miles per hour.

It was the strongest earthquake to hit since March 1964, when a 9.2 quake struck near Alaska's Prince William Sound. The strongest recorded earthquake (since 1899, when such measurements began) registered 9.5 on May 22, 1960, in Chile.

Sunday's earthquake is the fifth strongest in that period.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:49 PM |

Tuesday, December 21, 2004  

Happy Birthday, Nicha!!! I love you, babe.

Today is my wife's 24th birthday, plus or minus 7 years (I'll let you guess which direction). I had the hardest time trying to pick out a gift for her, but I'm glad she loved it. After the brand-spankin' new 4th-gen iPod she got me for my birthday, the pressure was on to express that perfect birthday sentiment that says "I love you just as much as you love me, and I will prove it with high-margin material goods."

(Actually, it wasn't this exact model; the one I got her looks very close to this, but the design is a lot better)

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 9:49 AM |

Monday, December 20, 2004  

Bye-Bye, Breakfast

I'm a complete creature of habit when it comes to my breakfast. Once I settle into a routine, I stick with it, come hell or high water. This current break in my routine is especially painful, because I had grown to really love my breakfast.

The Skytrain station that I catch for my morning commute has the typical complement of vendor stands hawking all sorts of pastries and juices. What amazed me when I spotted it so many weeks ago was the sheer novelty of the new booth by Mediterranean restaurant Pita Pan selling mini pita sandwiches. Medditerranean? As a part of a Bangkokian's morning diet? Sure, why not give it a try? And from the first day, I knew I had my perfect breakfast: a mixed sandwich box with a 3 mini sandwiches: crabstick, tuna, and ham salad. Wash it down with a coffee and some of my wife's apple slices, and I had me the breakfast of champions. My only concern: the booth had disconcertingly low patronage. Would this affect my ability to eat delicious and healthy pita sandwiches into the future? Always a thought in my mind, it was an issue I chose not to dwell on. Until now.

I went to the office last Friday, my first day in the office after almost of week of travel and illness (more on that soon, scout's honor!). As I traversed through the rail station, I rummaged through my pockets for the Baht 35 I would need for my daily fuel, only to discover to my eternal horror that Pita Pan wasn't there. It wasn't merely that the sales lady (the one who would spot me from a hundred meters away and have my breakfast packed and ready to go before I arrived at her counter) was out sick. The entire bloody booth was gone. My stomach sank, my bile rose, and I fought off the urge to curl up in a fetal position and cry.

"It's the holiday season," I told myself, "she's probably just taking a long weekend, and she'll be back on Monday. Maybe they're upgrading the booth to attract more customers, and that's why it's not here. Yes, Yes! That's got to be it!"

An hour and a half ago: no Pita Pan, nary a sign. A light in my universe has just gone out. Going to work has become a bit less pleasant. Pity the pita-less man...

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

Friday, December 17, 2004  

3 days in Jakarta followed by a day of the runs (I would have thought that eating local Thai food would have toughened the stomach for local Indonesian food). Very little time to blog this week, but hope to catch up over the weekend. Cheers!

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:51 AM |

Thursday, December 09, 2004  

I wrote most of this blog over the weekend, but didn't have time to post it. So here ya go, about 5 days tardy...

Denied the Roses: 46 years and counting

“I thought it was a little classless how [Texas] Coach Brown was begging for votes after the [Texas A&M] game. I think a team's record and the way you play should speak for itself, and you shouldn't have to complain about the BCS system.” — Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers

In the aftermath of Cal's anemic 26-16 victory over Southern Mississippi over the weekend, #5 Texas Longhorns climbed over #4 Golden Bears in the BCS ranking, snatched the Rose Bowl from underneath our noses, and relegated us to the much less prestigious (and less lucrative) Holiday Bowl. I am disappointed, distraught, and enraged beyond belief. I almost cried this morning when I read the news. I don't want to denigrate the accomplishments of the Texas team, but this was our closest shot at the Rose Bowl in 45 years, only to be denied because of a seriously flawed BCS system. I am so utterly depressed. The one saving grace: Coach Tedford renegotiated his contract and will be staying for 5 years, plenty of time to build Cal into a mainstay among the nation's football powerhouses.

Like Father, Like Brother, Like Son

The other week, my brother Pete posted a short video of my niece Jessica playing with her grampy, cooking him some spaghetti with her toy kitchen set. It was an absolutely precious scene, watching Jessie bring dad a plate, filling his cup, and getting him a fork, and watching my dad make drinking and eating sounds. I had to listen to the video clip a few times to make out just exactly what he was saying when it hit me how much mine and Pete's tendency to mumble and not clearly enunciate our words we get from out dad. I don't know why I thought of that, but if Jessie winds up becoming a mumbler, I expect I will find that completely charming and endearing.


Pete was commenting the other day about how infrequently I've been blogging on this site lately, especially considering the amount of effort I've put into the Bangkok Metroblog these past few weeks. I don't mean to be neglecting this blog; I'm just really gung-ho to be participating in a project as embryonic yet as exciting as Metroblogging. Once things are up and running, and my work schedule tapers off a bit, I hope to split my time more evenly between my two blogs.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:10 AM |
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