Stories

Productive Absurdity: Investment lessons from giant furry animals will make you rich!

Today I will expose the alternative investment strategies big playas use to roll RM30 million (USD8.1m). Thought I don’t mean to offend anyone with this essay, if I get in trouble for this blog post, please bail me out with all the money you might make from reading this. Deal? Deal.

30mil
Photo adapted from Thinkpanama

Imagine this: RM30 million is yours. All yours.

How will you invest it? Think big playa. Big playas usually think for a moment before they invest RM30 million. So I’ll give you a moment to think.

Yes. Invest RM30 million in a smart way. What will you do…

What was that?

Buy 2 giant pandas?

Pandas you say. Hmm. 2 giant pandas. You’re thinking ‘out of the box’. I like that. Sounds like a plan. Let’s buy 2 giant pandas then.

JEEZ LOUSIE I GIVE YOU RM30 MILLION AND YOU BUY 2 GIANT PANDAS guess what sis that’s what Zoo Negara plans to do with RM30 million See the article on theStar.

Wait wow wow wait wait… let’s not jump to conclusions here! There’s more to the story.

First, let’s get our facts right.

In Zoo Negara’s defence, they’re not going to spend RM30 million just 2 giant pandas. They know exactly what they’re doing.

From the article in the Star:

… Malaysia was eyeing the giant pandas, ringtail lemurs, white tigers, and golden monkeys from Chinese zoos. “On our end, we might be sending them our milky storks and painted storks, and other animals which we have in surplus.

Golden monkeys! This how big time playas do deal-making. It’s not just “Oh I’ll take 2 of those what are they giant pandas yeah OK two of them for 30 quid” It’s more than that. Big deals involve golden monkeys. As in like, gold. And milky storks, just like in the stock market.

Think big playa investments stops there? The deal gets sweeter.

“If we do get the giant pandas, one male and one female, they will come with their own curator, veterinarian and Chinese bamboo.”

Don’t settle for the just the friggin Pandas, big playas get the works, like a McPanda Happy Meal, supersized to RM30 million.

Does it make sense now?

Maybe not. But this is where the lesson begins.

Introducing: Productive Absurdity

Some things don’t make sense at first, but they can be very useful to us if swung the right way.

I call this ‘Productive Absurdity’.

pandabrand 
Photo adapted from XianMing

To grasp the bull of ‘Productive Absurdity’ by its horns, or rather, the panda by its ears, do the following

  1. ACCEPT that some things don’t make sense to you, and might not make sense to anyone! Does absurd stuff really frustrate you? I understand. But then again, maybe I don’t understand. It’s absurd! None of us will never understand it. Our brains aren’t equipped with that kind of superpowers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be in PEACE with things which don’t make sense at all, right?
  2. FIND a way to make it useful. Either by laughing at it, learning from it, tweaking the idea, letting it spike your creativity, use it to inspire others to take action, or use it make them laugh, cry etc. Think about it. The very same energy you use fighting with the absurd (knowing you will lose)… converted energy making the absurd very useful. Suddenly, you’re a Productive Absurdity ninja!

For the seriously introverted, this may remind you of existentialism and absurdism if you’re thinking about “In a world without meaning, you’re free to creating meaning for anything”.

You nailed it. Create meaning.

This is exactly what we’re going to do with the 2 giant pandas, since the big playas and golden monkeys involved in the deal seem unstoppable.

You too can apply Productive Absurdity to this example, as we return to alternative panda investment strategies used by big playas:

The big picture of Return on investment

OK, let’s say, on some alien planet somewhere, we have a zoo which aims to spend RM30 million of taxpayer money on 2 giant pandas. That may be absurd right? And perhaps, not so productive if left at that. But sprinkle a bit of Productive Absurdity and you will get…

Alternative Investment Strategy #1:

RM30mil for a giant robotic panda instead! If it’s going to be absurd anyway, might as well make it useful! Build a giant robotic panda! ROI? A giant robotic panda will attract more tourists than two normal everyday bamboo eating slow moving real pandas. Same price. More tourists.

And consider the positive externalities: It may even attract Ultraman to fight it. Now you will have a fight Don King might promote to get EVEN MORE TOURISTS just like how the Thrilla in Manila worked for the Philippines, we will have the Paannnnda in Malaysia. Boom. There’s another genius idea.

love-at-first-fight1 
ABSURD AND AWESOME ARTWORK: Love at first Fight, by Malaysian Artist, Munkao

Alternative Investment Strategy #2:

Extend the same logic to the Malaysian Economic Stimulus Package. Cancel entrepreneurship grants, and spend the cash not 2, but 200 pandas instead! Think big! That will attract tourists more than 2 pandas can. Do the math. 100 times more tourists, minimum. We can even put the 200 pandas on the F1 tracks and have this massive panda race. And shoot a Malaysian film based on these F1 pandas, called “The Fast and Furriest”. Kung Fu Panda grossed $631,910,531 so let’s say we gross the same, we would have made back our money, AND we get to keep 200 pandas for MORE box office hits. Eg. We get the 200 pandas to hit the gym, then shoot the film “200”.

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(Yes. Believe it. The view of this animated panda’s crotch. Stare into it. This grossed USD600M. Absurd. But productive. Imported oriental culture and sold it back to China. Very productive.)

See how far Productive Absurdity can take you?

Smart people don’t restrict their ideas to pandas. See how it can be applied to tigers in Penang: You won’t believe it. See article on theStar

In summary, Productive Absurdity makes life a ride in an amusement park. Just accept things in general may not make sense, and find a productive use for it anyway 🙂

Trust me, I do this for a living. I rally a generation of bored youths on YouthSays.com and carefully take time to unlock their potential to save the universe from doom.

Absurd? You bet.

//

Further reading thinking:

Of Prosperity Burgers and Morality

Update: Part of this post was featured here in The Malay Mail, thanks Sheila!

image If I knew my brief encounter with the Prosperity Burger at McDonalds would haunt me forever, I would’ve never made that order. But you know how it can be difficult to predict the future right? It’s much easier to blog about the past, and act like you knew it all along.

However, this story plays itself out quite differently.

Some men say that a woman can tear even the strongest man apart.

But with a prosperity burger?

Well, let’s start this story at almost midnight, on a recent Thursday. A very hungry Thursday. My gut suggested grabbing a prosperity burger from McDonalds (yeah I know, I usually avoid McDonalds, but I was in the mood for beef, and there wasn’t many beefy options at the time).

Little did I know what a horrible choice it would be.

Because it led me to “her”. Yes, her. She was standing right there, behind the McDonald’s counter in her clean white headscarf. Innocent. Her pleasant demeanor invited me to approach her, and initiate the conversation that would change everything.

The deadly order

“One double prosperity burger, just the burger, no fries or drink or any of the other stuff”

Damn her. She accepted my money like a pro. Smiling. Clearly, she has done this before, many times. I didn’t think too much of it, after all, I was in McDonalds paying for a burger. I don’t overthink such things.

Upon handing me my receipt, she said “Duduk dulu.”, smiling. Which means “Sit down, first” in Malay. She didn’t give me much of a choice. Firm but friendly. I obeyed.

Moments later, she passed me my Prosperity Burger, still smiling. But my thoughts were only on the burger. For someone on the brink of starvation, everything looked like food. Her headscarf contained beef patties. Her lips were made of ketchup.

And she fulfilled my desires.

Having an actual burger in my mouth, at the time, was like having my daydreams come to life. Oh it was so, so good.

But funnily enough, something felt wrong.

It didn’t taste right.

I looked at the burger. Seemed fine.

I went for my second bite.

Yummy. OK. MM. Yes. Ok. Hmm. OK. Halt.

Something tastes wrong.

Something IS wrong.

Very wrong.

I looked at the burger again.

I knew it.

The edge of reason

What I was holding in my hands completely DISGUSTED ME.

It was actually a SINGLE prosperity burger.

What sort of vilified heartless soul would cheat me of my magic gastronomoment?

Didn’t she know I paid for a DOUBLE prosperity burger?

I was outraged. RM16 for a double burger is silly. Starved senseless boys like me fall for it. But RM16 for a single?

I was back at a counter with a burger in my hand, demanding the additional beef patty I deserved. Deep down, I was hoping she would even let me finish this single AND give me a new double. Then I would have TRIPLE prosperity burger and be a very prosperous guy.

But no. She had other plans.

Smiling of course, she said nothing. Her body language instructed me to instead, give up my single burger. I was hesitant. If I gave her my burger, I would have no burger. What would she want to do with my half eaten burger anyway? I bet she could get plenty of burgers from where she is at.

But after some more of her smiling, and hand gestures, I gave in, and handed her my burger.

I could see her. Holding my burger. Walking behind the trays. She spoke to some dude who I assume is a manager of sorts. Good. She is using my half butchered burger as evidence to give me plenty more burgers. Burgers I deserved. Right? RIGHT? Huh, lady?

But no. Like I said, she had other plans. Involving torture.

The moments which followed happened in slow motion. She would look at me, smiling, then gently look downwards, letting my burger slip out of her hands… I would stretch my arm across the counter shouting “Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakkk….” (“Sister, in Malay. Polite way of referring to “devil woman”)

SLAM DUNK. She friggin threw a PERFECTLY GOOD burger into the bin.

A perfectly good burger HOLY MOTHER.

Sure, it was missing one beef patty. But surely it didn’t deserve the bin? Think about what could’ve been my free burger. Think about the starving African children without prosperity burgers. Wasted. Didn’t she hear me scream? What was she smiling about?

OK. No more Mr.Nice guy.

In perfectly broken Malay I demanded answers:

“Did you just throw the burger away?

Or did you put it in some drawer? Can you take it out? I can still eat it.

It was a good burger. Can you dust it a bit and bring it out for me? You didn’t throw it away, did you? C’mon. Did you throw it away?”

The only response was the same devious smile she so consistently maintained. Mocking me. Her lips no longer reminded me of ketchup. It made me think of blood.

“Duduk dulu”. She ordered me to sit down again, smiling.

Defeated, I went into the corner of McDonals and sulked. She eventually passed me a double prosperity burger (believe me, I checked). I didn’t even look at her, in fear of her safety. Hungry men can do nasty things. I wolfed the burger down and drove off, still grieving over the innocent burger sacrificed at the hands of that… that… heartless beast.

The drive home was a long one.

Between the traffic lights, I fought against my emotions. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. I obeyed, yet I didn’t want to. What’s the point? Why should I listen and obey the social constructs of our ‘civil’ society, when there may be dozens of innocent burgers out there DYING as a result?

Post trauma rationalization

Yes, I know you may be emotionally worked up upon reading this. It is kind of a big deal. That’s OK. I know how you feel. No need to over-react, my dear. Let’s slow down a bit and make sense of the situation.

Times like these are testing.

You question the deeper things.

What’s right and wrong? Was it right for the smiling lady to destroy my burger? Was it wrong for me to feel bad about the incident, despite me getting bonus burger bites at the end of it?

As far as my lawyer friends laughed, there are no statutory laws, landmark cases, or legal implications useful to the situation. Turning our backs against the law, we’re forced to fall back on something equally made-up: our moral compass.

To use this compass, we need to cut our heartstrings from the equation with the reliably sharp broadsword of logic, and invite a special guest onto this episode.

Meet my friend Norman. Normative ethics.

Normative ethics involves arriving at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. In a sense, it is a search for an ideal litmus test of ‘what is proper conduct’ (I stole of all this smart talk from this website, just so you know I am not nearly as smart, or as original as I can sound.)

According to normative ethics, there are 3 ways to (very simplistically) look at, and judge the prosperity burger incident – and who was right and wrong.

1) Virtue Theory

This is where virtues, like values or habits, like wisdom, courage, temperance, justice, generosity, self-respect, etc is called upon to just
ify what is right.

Verdict:

Since

  1. I cannot describe any good virtues to justify the smiling lady’s waste of my burger.
  2. My good virtue is ‘Valuing food and not wasting it’

Hence, by virtue theory, I am morally right.

However, some might argue that the lady was protecting me from having too many prosperity burgers (which are clearly bad for me). Perhaps the lady didn’t want me to smell like pepper and onions for a month, or add too many calories to my diet. We need to look at this objectively.

2) Duty Theories

This suggests that all of us have some sort of duty, or obligation. Such as the Golden Rule: “We should do to others what we would want others to do to us.” For example: I shouldn’t spit at babies and young children, if I don’t like being spitted at myself.

Verdict:

She should not throw away my perfectly good burger, in the same way she wouldn’t want me to meet her at home later and throw away her nasi lemak.

Hence, she is morally wrong.

3) Consequentialist Theories

“An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable.” Or “the means justifies the ends”.The most popular form is Utilitarianism: Eg. “It is right if it results in the greater good to the most people”.

Verdict:

The disposal of a perfectly good burger benefited NO ONE. Ok?? NO ONE. However, giving the burger to me would have at least benefited me, right, and consequently my loyal support and positive emotions of gratitude will indirectly benefit her.

Hence giving me the perfectly good burger was morally right.

Conculsion

So there you have it.

A partially fictional (of course I’m not worked up about a friggin burger. Though it was a perfectly good one. A good, edible, burger. A prosperous beefy burger.) moral dilemma thoroughly detailed, debated, and demystified, without any tangible effect on what happened.

Looks like you can’t change the past with bitching rhetoric after all 😉

Though you can change how you feel about it. And perhaps how you would feel about the future incidents. Right?

You might even ask, how would I deal with a similar situation in the future?

Since you asked. I thought of ordering a DOUBLE prosperity burger, eat one of the patties, and bring it back to the lady and accuse her of giving me a SINGLE. Ha! Take that! But that wouldn’t be morally right, by any moral measure. Oh no. And it probably won’t get her stop smiling either.

Anyways. I’ve been working so hard lately, this blog post really is an absurd satire thingy to entertain myself. Not to be taken too seriously 😉

Hope 2008 has been a great year for you. Here’s to a prosperous new year!

Watching out for love

I never thought I would fall in love on the plane.

But yeah I’m on the plane right now, on the way to Sarawak, and guess what.

 watch1

No, it’s not the dude in the magazine.

I know you like looking at pictures, but let me give you the full picture. I think I found love. And it’s in the advertisement pictured above.

1. The ad copy

This is Seiko Criteria. Selected by Daniel Wu. A chronograph that measures in increments of 1/20 seconds for up to 12 hours with rotary slide rule. 10 bar (100m) water resistant. The watch for the man on the move. Is it you?

Babygirl, you read my mind! You must be psychic! Gosh it’s like we’ve known each other for ages!

“A chronograph that measures in increments of 1/20 seconds for up to 12 hours” is EXACTLY what’s missing in my life!

I’ve been dreaming of it ever since I started time traveling.

Or when I leap through trains doors on the way to work, the last thing I want is to miscalculate an increment of 1/20 seconds, right? Heck I remember being late for business meetings for up to 3/20 of a seconds WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE sweet mother praise the earth!

What was that? It comes with a rotary slide rule? Okay. Might come in handy when I bored on the throne, and decide to measure a body part.

But yeah. Just look at you. You’re a work of art. Just look at your face.

2. Your face…

What a round, smooth face you have…

I remember all those lonely nights, when I’m in my room, 100m underwater, I would dream of a face like yours. Mysterious. Look at all the junk on your face. You’re an enigma.

watch2

Will you tell me more?

Nautical miles? Fuel? Oil? Stat? LBS? Calculator? Is the temperature in the cockpit okay? Is it tiger mating season yet?

Your face tells a thousand stories, and my brain will hurt if I knew them all.

3. Plain looking man

Who is this guy? Why is he undressing you with his eyes? This ticks me off a little. I’ll let him off this time. But you ask him to watch out okay.

4. My tie

My tie has nothing to do with my rant about this stupid watch advertisement. I’m just killing time before this aircraft lands.

And the pilot just mumbled some stuff about it (the landing, not my tie).

I guess this is where I stop bashing the advertisement. I mean, I’m sure some men will rush out and buy this watch, and I haven’t worn a watch since kindergarten so perhaps I’m out of their target market.

Conclusion

If you want to be seriously confused every time you want to know the time, or if you truly desire a chronograph that measures in increments of 1/20 seconds for up to 12 hours with rotary slide rule you can ask Daniel Wu for shopping advice.

Meanwhile, I’m off to the rainforest music festival in Sarawak, and forget time even exists.

Talk later.

The Death of SMS

Three weeks ago my mobile phone decided not to send SMSes on my  behalf. If you sent me an SMS, I would read it and compose 160 characters of wit just for you… but you would never receive it.

What a pity.

hddThen the unexpected happened…

I would call you instead!

You send me an SMS right? And I’m like KAZZAAAAM!!! HELLO!!! And you’re like WHOA SLOW DOWN BOYO, but I’m like YOWZAAA!!! MY SMS IS BROKEN SO TALK TO ME HONEYBUNS

This would happen with every SMS that demanded a reply.

I started talking to more people.

And people talked back.

Profound?

I wish I could tell you how I now have deeper relationships with the universe. But no. It has made no noteworthy difference in my life.

I guess I’m still noting it down, because I never imagined a lifestyle experiment involving not sending any SMSes for 3 weeks.

I mean, what if you couldn’t send SMSes for 3 weeks?

Try it.

You’ll see what a pointless exercise in frustration it is. I’m getting my phone fixed this week.

Side observation:

Mobile phones and me = Women and me

They look good at first, but after a couple of months they start to act strangely. Guess I pressed the wrong buttons.

The sketch you see is “hdd”, from my gallery of digital doodles

How to combat snatch thieves and robbers

I just got back from the Police station.

It was a long night.

Nika’s friend had a friend visiting from Poland, it is her first night here in KL. She was walking in front of Bangsar Permai apartments on Jln Tanduk, Bangsar, when 3 men leapt out of the car, armed with a giant curved parang.

She got robbed, in front of the guard house of the apartments!

DSCN9851

Being the courageous hero manly man I am, I was in Nika’s apartment hanging out, drinking some sour Polish soup they made.

As soon as Nika’s friend stumbled into the apartment in tears, my spider-like reflexes prompted the extension of my muscular arm into my pocket, initiating crucial contact with the police department.

Then my shirt…

I could go on.

But let’s not dwell in the past.

This blog post is about solutions!

If you think about it… everyone you know, knows someone who got robbed or snatched or whatever. Right? Don’t know someone? Well, you know me, and it’s happened to my mom, my ex-girlfriend’s sister, and even I got robbed! Twice! (Both times the robbers got caught / humiliated but that’s another story.)

Gah! Bah! We have to stop these crimes!

Since I want to avoid any real confrontation, here’s the plan.

  1. Guys and girls walking around the city? Carry an ugly market-like plastic bag, and put vegetables in it.
  2. Make sure a cucumber, or a cabbage is sticking out, so it is clear that you are carrying a bag of vegetables.
  3. Place all your valuables next to the cabbage. Wallet, money, handphone, whatever. Wrap it up, place it in the cleverly disguised bag of vegetables.
  4. Carry your usual bag, the way you normally would, except you could place a home made booby trap. No booby trap? Place a couple of extra vegetables in there. Maybe a rotten one, too.
  5. In the event of danger, drop your plastic bag of vegetables (which contain your belongings) on the floor. Or throw it far away. And give the criminals your expensive looking bag (the one with the booby traps)

OK…ok… You may think this is a stupid idea.

38248548_e4816932ca_m After all, not too many people have real booby traps for robbers. Heck I was thinking time bombs but not everyone has time bombs.

You can also argue that a robber who goes home to find a bag of vegetables might anger him enough to go out and rob some more victims.

But perhaps, in the long run, if all of us implement my idea, robbers may get sick of vegetables, and try other stunts to get money, like becoming social entrepreneurs.

I guess, the idea has too many maybes.

Since this is a serious topic, allow me to suggest some alternatives.

  1. Resolve economic disparity through changes in public policy and the education system
  2. Increase employment opportunities and skills development for the urban poor
  3. Form a special task force to crack down on snatch thieves and robbers

But if you analyze the above solutions, and compare it to my vegetable bag trick, they are just as likely to get implemented, and have any real effect on the recent crime spree.

Seriously.

132543195_bf179b7f74_mBut I won’t complain about stuff here… Solution focus! Yes, yes! And if for some reason, the solution is beyond my pea-sized brain, I need your help.

If you have any real ideas on what we can do to stop this sort of crime, do share.

I promise to give the best idea a bag of vegetables. (I did this for a friend’s birthday once, so I’m not kidding)

Tell me your great idea for solving snatch thieves and armed robberies, and I will give you a healthy reward.

Protect The Fat Kids From Getting Punished During Chinese New Year

Poor fat kids.

cny In my extended Chinese family, the annual exodus back to the village for Chinese New Year is pure hell for fat kids.

Pure. Hell.

My relatives have no mercy on fat kids.

Maybe it’s just my relatives. Or maybe all Malaysian families, not just Chinese ones like mine.

I don’t know. You tell me.

Imagine for a moment…

  1. You are related to me
  2. You put on weight since last year
  3. You came to my village

Are you imagining that?

Scary eh. It is just the beginning.

  • Everyone will take turns to point at you with comments and questions. Like “Wow, you are so fat now! What happened?” or “Putting on weight? Very prosperous! Hehe!”
  • They will even pit you against other fat relatives… “Look at kor-kor (means brother in Chinese dialect), if you don’t watch out your belly will be as big as his!”
  • They will do this, a couple of times, even if you smile politely in return, or ignore them.
  • They might even throw you some rude accusations cum weight-loss advice… “Exercise! You never exercise!”
  • And yes, they do all of the above, even if they are fatter than you.

In some other context, or culture, this is called bullying. But for my relatives, this is Chinese New Year.

Sigh. I can’t help but feel bad for the fat kids in my family.

But to be very honest with you, sometimes, I’m tempted to join in the fun.

Hey bro, it’s not the year of the pig!

2005Pig

Haha. Ok, that was mean. But you have to understand, I was keeping that in all day.

For the record I am not a fat kid.

I’m fortunate to have an athletic figure. I probably don’t know what it feels like to be fat (and I intend to keep things this way).

However, my older brother, who has long ago decided being fat was no big deal (pun), has to endure this.

Good thing he developed a few defense mechanisms against my extended family. The most powerful being “Wall of ignorance”. It’s almost as though he puts on an invisible cloak, as he goes for the next plate of rice.

Why does it have to be like this?

It’s not like fat kids go up to the elderly and go “Wow! You’re so old!”

I’m guessing, either…

  • My relatives are mean! They get kicks out of laughing at fat kids.
  • Or, my family members mean well, and believe taunting will drive a fat kid to shed the pounds.

Anyway, I just wanted to highlight this issue to other Chinese families out there to see if it makes a difference. I’m not doing this to make my relatives look bad. I like them, they are generally nice people, who contribute to society meaningfully.

It’s great to have family to celebrate with, even though some members come in different sizes 🙂

Here’s to a healthy, happy new year everyone!

Recent Weeks + Pics + My 1st steps in the singersongwriter scene

The recent weeks have been tiring… apart from work and a bit more socialising that usual, there was:

Lezel celebated her Birthday by throwing poor me into a Karaoke room chock-full with veterans!

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Then it was a series of MindValley parties. First, in celebration of Hannu’s new apartment.

1134

Then there was celebrating the launch of MindValley Labs and BlinkLife – which is still undergoing some major cosmetic changes.

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Click here to see the rest of April’s madness.

Towards the end of the month, we took a very sudden detour to Pangkor to chill out.

1085

Check out more interesting pictures like this one, by clicking here.

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Oh yeah, the past 2 days, I had the privilge of having 3 really high-energy, free-spirited Philippino ladies as guests at my place.

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See how happy they look? *hint* To all my overseas friends: Come visit me!

They even gave me super-feedback to help me prepare for my “debut” solo open mic at Troubadours this Sunday.

If you can make it, come at 9pm to catch all the proper acts perform, and stay to watch the open mics – where n00bs like me show our stuff.

My longtime buddy ChitSoon will be doing his solo stuff for the first time as well. He has got a really really good voice so even if I suck big time, he will probably make your trip worth it.

Check out what’s the deal that night by clicking here.

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Well, things have been pretty fast-paced, and it will speed up in coming week, work aside. Strangely enough, stuff at Laundry, thecicak.com and Project Bazooka are really taking off – at the same time, too!

I’m really looking forward to my vacation in June in California…