Paris and Amsterdam.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27th, 2007 by byronkho

UPDATE: We’re back (Brian and I) from Europe! Extremely tiring trip, but action-packed. From the ‘Ms. Blankity Blank, you dropped your Vagisil at Gate 32′ voice on the Newark Airport mic system to the hot chick on the ferris wheel by the Tuileries… it was all memorable. For me, anyway.

After touchdown at CDG, we found that we were on the tail end of a strike by the metro and bus union. For some reason, this was manifested in free fares for all trains in and around the city. It was great – free subway for a full day. I still squirm paying $800 for a hotel room (thank god for reward points and GCs…) but man, great location, hot showers and swank sheets. I swear they were like a billion thread count, they were that comfy. Non-stop through the Place de la Concorde, Jardin de Tuileries, Louvre, St. Germain l’Auxerrois church and down to the Ile Cite area for some good old climbing Notre Dame action. All typical tourist material, but I didn’t get to do this the last time I was in Paris. A night spent fruitlessly wandering… we tried seeing a show at the Opera Bastille, but there was a strike there and the show was called off. Don’t ask me who was having THAT strike. Then a walk by the Place Vendome for a quiet pricy Paris bistro dinner, some hot chocolate and a look at Hotel Costes and the George V. Capped it off with a Ferris wheel ride with the aforementioned hottie (from Moscow but living in Switzerland) and then a walk down the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, some late night wandering at the Virgin Store and getting lost down 1st Arondissement alleyways.

Next day, some time at the Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, gourmet cheese, then Place de Trocadero and Palais de Chaillot for some nice views of the Eiffel Tower. Lunch at a 2-star Michelin for some great gourmet food and service. Managed to do it all with finesse in 1.5 hours – really cutting it close to being uncouth, but made it out with honor intact. Hotel checkout, bah… well, after getting settled in the Hilton Eiffel Tower (a head on view of the tower from our room), we did the Tower climb. Skipped the Musee D’Orsay (next time), but did get a good look at the area… Ecole Militaire, Hotel des Invalides, the Rodin, etc. Dinner at a chic French-Japanese place on the Boulevard St. Germain. Bought some funny flipbooks at a French bookstore to kill time, and watched other tourists and Parisians hangin’ at Cafe Flore. I can’t really chill at a cafe with my brother, we just look out of place!

A cheapo breakfast, a run for some Godiva and off to CDG for our connecting to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is much smaller than I expected. We stayed out on the East side by Waterlooplein, and within 5 minutes, found ourselves by the Oude Kerk, Beurs Berlage (enormous place) and the Damrak. Lots of tourists, lots of shopping, lots of restaurants… TONS of restaurants. Space shops (for your shrooms connoisseur) and head shops, lots of strip bars and girlie shows, and what else but rain. After a long fondue dinner and some good Dutch beer, we headed out into the rainy night to check out the Begijnhof at night. Passed by a filled De Admiraal, Amstel (being exceptionally quiet), and the Leidseplein neighborhood. That particular section of town didn’t seem so exciting, or so we though at the time. We got all the way back to the hotel in 30 minutes after having basically covered all of downtown.

Early morning. Walk all the way down the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museums for some great time. I loved the Rijksmuseum; it was just the right size. This area was just beyond the Leidseplein area that I hadn’t liked, and I found I liked the museum area a LOT. All the pricy boutiques were in this area, as well as the Concerthall. Less tourists (aside from the visitors to the museums) made the place more relaxing. Lunch at a Dutch bistro for some GREAT raw sliced tuna on alfalfa and bread, and hot tomato and cheese soup. And beer. Dinner with the relatives at some Chinese place, and a car trip around Amsterdam West. Very quiet suburbs. The East is supposed to be more ghetto – well, that’s what all the Dutch rappers say :) More on French and Dutch music in the blog. Stop by a coffeeshop for some relief, and then sleep.

The awesomest soup shop in the world – more tomato and cheese soup. I was in heaven. Relaxing afternoon shopping, eating more chocolate and packing our bags to the max in order to head all the way back home… which we did. Back to CDG, smoked meats and cheese dinner, out to the Hilton Exec, one night, and a flight back.

BK, Gangsta Ranting, USC

Posted in Uncategorized on November 10th, 2007 by byronkho

I called Brenna Kelly for her birthday, thinking I was 3 days late… but I was actually 3 days early. She sounded pretty happy that I remembered. I felt like a douchebag for missing a bunch of her past ones, and I’ve been missing her, so I made sure to get it right this time. She’s at school in Michigan, and things are REALLY going her way. She always gets what she needs, I guess because she works (and worked) really hard for all of it. Caroline Varin is still out in Cuba, as far as I know. As part of her education in sustainable development, I’m pretty sure – but she does not seem happy about it at all. I also found out Marie McManus is engaged! I was like, whoa! I could never figure out what to do with her back at Penn and we graduated before anything could… so I feel really glad that she’s at a great place now. Basically, I’ve been on a drive to get back in touch with all my old friends, since I’m pretty bad with that. (I’ve also got to remember to call Elizabeth Bauman on Monday.)

I’m going to rant a little bit. Hold on to your britches.

I have a relative who apparently is in some sort of gangster feud with another countrymen – with all the requisite whacking and “tukang pukul” thugs to teach each other lessons. I guess that’s how you do business in Indonesia. You do business like the old Mob bosses – first of iron in a velvet glove. You treat your family right, but rob everyone else blind. My great-uncles own the biggest telecommunications and logistics companies in Indonesia, and god knows how many shallow graves there are scattered around that country as a result (and fat bribes paid out, for that matter). Robber barons, the lot of them! Speaking of robber barons and bribes, who did Suharto pay off so that the Indonesian Supreme Court could declare in his favor AGAINST Time? And is Time Inc. gonna pay Suharto a couple million dollars as damages for committing libel (they said that Suharto stole billions from Indonesia which I’m PRETTY sure is true)? I also have some relatives who allegedly have some drug business in Asia. No surprise. All the biggest clubs are WAY fuller of drug dealers and junkies, and so much more obvious then they are here in the United States. Though it’s a death sentence if you’re found transporting it, it’s still a huge moneymaker and getting away with things, I assume, is so much easier because the atmosphere is so conducive to bribes. How do you think all those US and Canadian companies got into the country to mine oil and gold and destroy the environment in Irian Jaya, Sumatra and the outlying islands? Covering up tons of deaths, toxic waste spills and now over-acidic soils plus an oil test drill that went wrong (unleashing a 8 month and still going hot mud flow sinking a lot of prime land back into the sea)… all that must take a lot of money. Yay for bribes!

With all these rich relatives and rich friends of the family (it’s disgusting that I actually know a lot of billionaires), it really pisses me off that my family kisses their collective rich asses so much. I stay out of it as much as I can, but the rest of the family does a lot of kowtowing to these guys. Sure, it does bring them business and salaries, but the general attitude is of subservience and no self-respect. Yes, we can cancel the entire family’s plans so we can put up with some rich dude suddenly stopping in for a day and wanting to go do whatever HE wants to do (this is during Christmas holidays, which makes me even angrier). It also pisses me off to no end that some of these people have the affront to look down on those of us that earn less. My cousin works for me, and they asked if he was earning $80k a year working for us. The answer was no, and they were like, that’s not worth it. I was like – what’s the other option then? Not earn any money? Not to mention the fact that they looked down on me for not going to medical school. I don’t know what they think of me now, earning a bunch of money running an Internet marketing firm and not being the slob they took me for. I don’t need their approval at all – I just hate their rudeness since I always hear about it, them being family and all.

As a sidenote, USC is such a poor excuse for a school. I don’t know their standards, but somehow they let in a lot of rich Indonesian kids who cheat their way through college and graduate knowing nothing. It’s not called the University of Spoiled Children for nothing. There are unethical people there apparently, as these kids actually do pay somebody to do their work for them. The hacks who do this work get paid a LOT of money for this (probably more than usual just so they can keep their mouth shut). Now, I’m sure this kind of thing happens everywhere with rich kids who bring a lot of money into the school and just want to chill out… but it doesn’t have to be quite so obvious.

New Yawk: P-p-p-party.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 7th, 2007 by byronkho

UPDATE: We’re back (Norman and I) from New York! Highly successful trip out. Spent a lot of time developing contacts: a bunch of guys in the SEO world, a lot of email guys, brand builders, partner networks (CX Interactive, Azoogle, Neverblue, Hydra, eAdvertising, CPAEmpire, and about ten thousand smaller ones). Went to a couple sessions, with lots of great speakers and panelists, including Arianna Huffington, the head of Fox Interactive, YouTube’s VP for advertising, CEOs of major ad agencies (BBDO, Avenue A/Razorfish, etc.) and a major interactive advertising announcement by Mark Zuckerberg. Norman and I were both brought onto the VIP list by MediaWhiz for their poker tournament – it was pretty great, but I lost about 2 hours in. Norman stayed in for another 2 hours, eventually shoving it all in so he could get out. He didn’t have to – he was in the Top 10 and so close to winning that spot on the World Poker Tour.

I caught up with Jeff Okubo from Swish Marketing and Sarah Jankowksi (formerly of eDebitPay, now of her own company) there, and went with them down to Club Pacha for the DJ Rob Base and Turbo party. I’m totally younger than all these ad people, because everybody else was like “OMG, Breakin! I loved that movie!” and I had no idea what they were talking about. “It Takes Two” and some of his other stuff were pretty good… yeah, yeah. Anyways, we met up with some of Sarah’s girls, all So-Cal ad people. They were cute, they were good company, and I drank SO much. Went with them to two of the W Hotels and spent a lot of time hanging out. Also talked shop for a bit too. Hopefully, I can do some business with Sarah (and see her again, she’s awesome). At the same bar were these two dudes who were also there for AdTech but apparently “only” owned a Swiss bank. I was like, what are you at the conference for then? Are you laundering money for someone? I never got around to asking cuz it was rude. Hahahaha.

Spamalot was good vocally and design-wise, but content-wise… not as enjoyable as Monty Python and the Holy Grail was. We went to Tao for dinner the first night, and had the Kobe beef shabu-shabu. Oh my freakin god, it was awesome. I need some more of that marbled beef in scallion broth. Argh. A pretty good followup was the steak at Sidecar by PJ Clarke’s, right before Spamalot. Totally missed out on Marquee (LeadFlash throws good parties, but I’ll wait till Vegas for their next one… possibly the Pussycat Dolls again?), also the Adverb Media thing. Too tired for it.

UPDATE: Yours truly will be going budget by staying at the Chelsea Star in New York City, next to Madison Square Gardens. Was going to stay at the Marriott, but I decided a tradeoff was necessary: gourmet food and entertainment, or nicer rooms. The sleep would be just the same, I’m sure. So. This means I can now grab meals at Asia de Cuba, Tao, Amalia and Sidecar at PJ Clarke’s, plus see Spamalot and American Gangster. Meanwhile, I’ll be attending the Ad-Tech NY conference and roaming the exhibition hall. On the night of the 5th, I was chosen to play in the MediaWhiz Poker Tournament at Club Strata, so hopefully I win something, anything. And not embarrass myself. Other than that, I’ll be attending the Datran party at Marquee and the Money Makers party at Pacha. On the 6th, I will be attending Adverb Media’s little soiree at Flute. It will be a busy few days… and during the week too!

UPDATE: I will be in New York now for the 5th as well. That night, we’re going to some poker party hosted by MediaWhiz at Club Strata, and then heading over to the Jamster gig with DJ Rob Base at Pacha. It better be good… but Jamster usually puts on a good show when it wants to. Earlier this year, their Vegas party took up the MTV Suite at the Palms and went on into Rain and the Playboy Club. Pretty freakin awesome.

Sayre, GC

Posted in Uncategorized on November 3rd, 2007 by byronkho

UPDATE: The Sayre performance went exceedingly well. The kids loved the cast (especially Lucy and Sally), and I didn’t have to use the keyboard, which was probably broken anyway. I haven’t been in that building since the afterschool programs I helped out with, and the vaccination program. Don’t know where I stand with //ahem// but I think progress was made. Who knew being peppy, cool and self-contained could be so hard?

I patched things up with Steve so that I’m now talking to him – I’m sure there’s more that we need to cover before we’ll actually be termed acquaintances again. The Glee Club show was great in that the singing was of a much higher quality than before, and Penn Dance actually showed a little more variety in their choreography and execution. There was actually some interpretation in their interpretive dance! Tomorrow, will be heading over to Kate Allen’s housewarming. Rebecca canceled her party, so I’m free to go to the afterparty for the Glee Club show. Saw Josh and Patrick tonight, both of whom I will not likely see tomorrow night.

Random thoughts re: marketing

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1st, 2007 by byronkho

I’ve been tinkering with video ads for a while today. Basically trying to figure out better way of monetizing blank space on your site. Video is interactive and better than AdSense text links, I would think, since I’m already desensitized to those and never click on them any more. The Bidvertiser ones look so much like the Google and Yahoo ones on a quick glance that there’s always the fear that you’ll get porn if you click on one of the ads (Viakgra! Feet specialists near you!). Anyway, one of the new ads can be seen on this page. It’s called a peeker video, and is pretty cool. Since my company already does crazy good with normal banners, we’re trying to get into other specialities… it really pays to be diversified.

I should really stay off Facebook. While “super-connected” can sound good, it can become weird when you’re hungering after what everybody else is doing 24/7. Just like Twitter… what is it really? I could tell you that it’s a self-promoted stalking tool, but that would be looking at it in a bad light. Really, everyone wants just a little bit of attention, and some more than others. Haha, if I go too far into that, I might start criticizing myself for having my own website. I’m in marketing and marketing is all about selling yourself. Not selling out, per se, but getting across the point about who you are to a targeted audience. One day, somebody will Google me, read this and think that i was a very thoughtful person. On the flipside, they might assume that I had a giant ego.