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


Tuesday, January 10, 2006  

This really touched my heart. In my brother's words:

I let Jessie play with my old digital camera (a Canon Powershot G1) and she loved it. I stuck a 48MB card in it and she filled it up in no time. She kept asking me to "fix it", since it wouldn't take any more pictures. So I threw a 128MB card in there and she was off to take more pictures. She was very excited. The next morning, she woke up and she was all, "Daddy I want to take more pictures." Haha...that's MY GIRL!

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 6:50 PM |


Sunday, January 08, 2006  

For the longest time, I had shied away completely from most American network television programming, becoming disenfranchised which the bland, moronic crap that the networks had been foisting upon world. Then, a few years back, I stumbled across both the West Wing and 24 on the networks, and the Sopranos on cable, and I found a reason to follow a few programs, though never on a regular basis. Since these few shows had only made their way out to Asia via DVD boxed sets and file sharing technology was still limited to Napster and some clones, getting ahold of current episodes was a spotty proposition.

Lately, there has been a veritable explosion are really awesome programming, and with the emergence of BitTorrent, I find myself struggling to find time to watch the half dozen or more series that have gotten me excited about television again. When I'm not torrenting episodes of the Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I'm juggling 3 very different crime dramas (CSI, Monk, and Numb3rs), a foul-mouthed western (Deadwood), and hoping to finish off season 1 of Lost. Desperate Housewives has been in the queue for months, and in just over a week season 5 of 24 kicks off again.

While Numb3rs, Deadwood, and especially 24 rank among some of my favorite televesion of the moment if not of all-time, the one series that has me most excited is Battlestar Galactica. I was a fan of the campy original (the toy Viper and Cylon Raider being very popular with me and my brother Pete), and was very skeptical about the Sci-Fi Channel' "re-imagining/re-boot" of the series. Never gave it too much thought afterwards until the mini-series and season 1 were released on DVD, and when I watched it, I was simply stunned. This was no mere humans vs. aliens sci-fi fluff. This was serious human drama and political discourse, which simply happened to be taking place in an out space setting. Time Magazine, which rated the show among its best television for 2005, describes it much better than I ever could:

Most of you probably think this entry has got to be a joke. The rest of you have actually watched the show. Adapted from a cheesy '70s Star Wars clone of the same name, Galactica (returning in January) is a ripping sci-fi allegory of the war on terror, complete with religious fundamentalists (here, genocidal robots called Cylons), sleeper cells, civil-liberties crackdowns and even a prisoner-torture scandal. The basic-cable budget sometimes shows in the production, but the writing and performances are first-class, especially Edward James Olmos as the noble but authoritarian commander in charge of saving the last remnants of humanity. Laugh if you want, but this story of enemies within is dead serious, and seriously good.

I've spent weeks anticipating the new season, and spent practically every hour yesterday searching for the new torrent file. So here I am, blogging about the show so as not to let myself think about how frustrated I should be that my broadband connection is so bloody slow. Hurry up, dammit!!

(Incidentally, in my eager googling, I came across a very interesting article about how the Sci-Fi Channel experienced increased viewership as a result of Battlestar Galactica episodes being pirated via BitTorrent. Worth reading if you're into new technologies and business models).

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:03 AM |


Tuesday, January 03, 2006  

If you grew up on Golden Age Warner Brother cartoons like I did, then you probably can recall the one cartoon where Porky and Daffy, perpetually late sleepers and tardy for work, are threatened by their boss with termination if they are late one more time. Despite a trouble-laden evening of constantly interrupted sleep, they made an extraordinary effort to get to work on time, only to discover that it's Saturday, and there is no work today.

Well, I had a moment like that today.

Yesterday was a public holiday for all workers in Thailand, and today was a government holiday, though some corporations do give their staff today off as well. It's not easy to tell which ones do. I found out the hard way that my company was on holiday today. I was bitching & moaning this morning that I wasn't ready to go back to work. Despite having the entire previous week off for my annual leave, I was still recovering from what was an exhausting holiday (more on that later). So making my way to the office was a drag. Imagine my surprise when I got off the elevator to find the office lights out and the doors locked. A call to my boss confirmed that we did indeed have the day off, and her laughing at me only ensures that most of the people on the floor (CEO included) will learn that I am truly the company's very own village idiot. At least I got to go home, strip down to my civvies, and play computer games and watch cable for the rest of the day. Maybe if I bitch & moan even more, tomorrow will become a holiday too.

I had hoped to try and squeeze in one more blog before the end of 2005, but I just didn't have the time, so I guess for this first blog of 2006, I ought to make a resolution to blog at least once every 6 months. At the very least, if I have the time to spend the day in underwear playing computer games and watching cable, then I should at least make the effort to crank out a blog, eh?

So why have I been such a blog-slacker? Well, work is always a great excuse, but in my case, a valid one. These past several months have brought me to the brink of burn-out. After almost a year and a half on the job, I still haven't completed any acquisitions or taken the company overseas. But it has been a very busy period for Asian retail M&A, and I am up to my neck in multiple live deals. I'm not pulling all-nighters like I was when I was on the investment banking side of the business, but I have been logging on the hours, and what little free time I get I spend doing mindless crap (like playing computer games and watching cable). I can't totally complain though. There may be days when I dread waking up, when I get pissed off at my colleagues, when I just want to quit my job and become a full-time slacker, but at its very core, I have a great job. It's an exciting job that lets me work on sexy projects and interact with very senior executives both inside and outside the company. So net-net, after all the griping, I love my job (which is why I've held this job longer than any other since business school with the exception of Salomon Smith Barney, but give it time). That said, I'm still gonna be whining big-time when the snooze alarm goes off tomorrow morning.

But a heavy work schedule only partially explains my absence. I guess one of the big reasons why I haven't written in so long is that I just haven't been in the mood. Normally, when I lose the urge to write, it could stretch for weeks at a time. But in this case, half a year without a meaningful post a certainly a bloody long malaise. The timing stinks too, since Kevin, a good friend of Nicha and mine moved with his family to Texas after 10 years in Thailand, and my blog as his lifeline to the two of us (and current goings-on back in his adopted homeland). Sorry dude.

So how's about some random randomness?

Well, I got to visit China for the first time (I don't count the afternoon I spent in Shenzhen back in 2001, since I didn't do much more than buy a few pirated DVDs and get a foot massage). Since I very much enjoy travelling to new places, this was a big deal for me. Back in September, I accompanied several of our senior executives to Beijing to attend back-to-back retail conferences. We managed to see most of the cities retail centers, as well as visit the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. I had an awesome time, and am looking forward to getting out to other cities as Central shifts its China strategy into high gear. I am disappointed that I won't get visit Shanghai next week with the team do the the M&A deals I'm juggling, but givin the rather frigid climate in January, I guess its a blessing in disguise.

Nicha is also enjoying her job. She's starting to make waves in a big way, and I think that 2006 will be a breakout year for her. There are days though when the pressure gets to her. Add to that our resolution to start a family this year, and I think we might see either a scaling down of her hours later in the year, or perhaps even a break or change in her job. Who knows? Time will tell.

Cal had a disappointing season. They had turned a great 5-0 start (and potentially BCS-dominating season) into a marginally decent 6-4 season, eking a spot into (and at least winning) the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas (still can't get the bitter taste of these corporate sponsored bowl game titles out of my mouth). Well, at least we clobbered Stanford and claim that this was a "rebuilding year".

I can scarcely believe that it has been a year since the Asian Tsunami. I had for the most part blocked out the events and emotionally scarring experience of my volunteer work until about 2 weeks ago, when I glanced through a Time Magazine year-end photo retrospective and saw a photo of bodybags at one of the Thai temples. I was stunned, and almost broke out in tears. Even now, I find writing about the experience is hard. A year ago, I had emotionally desensitized myself to the horrors I saw. Since then, I've allowed myself fleeting moments to dwell on the Tsunami, but never for too long. I otherwise bury my memories in the deep recesses of my mind, and try not to let them break me down.

I've been fortunate enough to have been able to keep myself pre-occupied this past week and not think too much about the Tsunami: my mom & dad visited Thailand, their first since my wedding 4 years ago. In fact, with the exeption of the 1 day I was able to spend with them my last trip to the states in 2003, this has been the first time in 4 years that I really got to spend with my parents. I won't go into too much detail, since I'm about to crash for the evening, but it was a real joy to see them again. It was a tiring, exhausting week, but a great one. I've been posting photos on my Flickr page; perhaps I'll write about it in my next blog.

It feels great to be back. Talk to y'all again soon.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:17 PM |
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