IMR: 2000: November: 09 — Thursday, 11:01 p.m. Singapore Time
Sir Henry Keppel II, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Singapore

There's an enormous wedding reception shaking the walls in the room across the hall. They're dancing and clapping and shouting to Shaggy.

As this is the last 'prep' day before the meeting proper begins tomorrow, everyone decided to make an extra effort to get to bed before midnight... or a few minutes before 11 p.m., to be exact.

It'll probably be the earliest any of us will get out of this office for the entirety of this trip.

All in all, things are going well. Especially since we were only joined by two more of our team today, and the last two aren't due until tomorrow. Some harrowing nightmares with the equipment (Xerox copiers and fax machines), but nothing out of the ordinary for us. With some last-minute office supply shopping (for whatever reason, the stuff we packed ended up with the people arriving tomorrow), the office is set up and ready to be the nerve center for the next three days.

I even reviewed my website presentation with the boss and finalized most of it, even though I'm not on until Sunday.

Apart from site updates, photography, and basic office administration, I'll mostly be assisting Sharon with registration and program logistics, helping her stay sane and keep her from stranging someone (which she was tempted to on numerous occassions today).

Apart from meeting stuff and organizational politics, most of the idle chatter today has been about the U.S. presidential election. It's beginning to sink in just how historic, just how bizarre the deadlock and delay is. We're wandering into parts of the Constitution that were drafted ages ago with slave states in mind, and are suddenly dealing with fine print I doubt anyone expected ever to be invoked.

And the rest of the world is starting to chime in, either with anticipation, bewilderment, or contempt. Some are casting it as a major failure of our supposedly enlightened political system. But most are seizing upon it as an educational experience, and meanwhile talking to every consultant within 500 miles about what happened, and what life will be like with either Bush or Gore in the White House.

With few notable exceptions (like Russia — who knew?), and while everyone of consequence is properly ambivalent on the record, it seems most of our planet is somewhat worried about life with George W. Bush at America's helm. And I don't blame them.

If Bush wins, in the final analysis, I can only hope this once-in-a-lifetime, nearly tied election is followed with an absolute landslide in 2004, when America gets smart and throws the moron out.

It was essentially nonstop work from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., but I did make it a point to slip out of the hotel this afternoon, if only to get one glimpse of this city while the sun was up.

Singapore is just as pretty during the day as it is at night, and that is to say, immaculate, sharp, and bustling. Again the only thing that drives me back into the office is the humidity, which nearly defies description.

Clearly everyone here is used to it, but I gasped when I opened the door and literally felt the heavy muggy air pour over and around me like a wave of invisible blood.

After night fell, it got cooler, or at least cooler than it was last night. Sharon and I, completely maxed out on our tolerance for hotel buffets, headed out to find someplace, anyplace else to eat dinner.

We again found ourselves on Orchard, and ultimately headed down more than half the distance we walked last night. While there were dozens of restaurants in every building, we were struggling to find a place that met one single criteria:

We wanted to eat at a restaurant that we didn't have in Honolulu.

And as it turns out, in an international, cosmopolitan city like Singapore — or at least in its business and shopping district — that's pretty rare. We saw KFC, California Pizza Kitchen, Sizzler's, McDonalds, Genki Sushi, Pizza Hut, and at least six Starbucks coffee houses... as Sharon remarked, we could just have easily been in the heart of Chicago.

We ended up ducking down into a basement food court, with a ceiling so low even I almost hit it with my head. But it was packed with lots of unique vendors and tasty looking food.

Sure, it was a food court, but instead of Mexican, Italian, Chinese and Japanese, we had Indonesian, Taiwanese, Indian, and many other less-than-familiar cuisine styles to choose from.

In fact, I don't know what I ordered. It was Number 13 on the picture menu on the wall. But it sure was tasty!

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 8 November 2000 · Last Modified: 12 November 2000