Thursday, December 21, 2006

The most violent show ever

When Joseph Barbera passed on this week, I was amazed to know that one of the creators of Tom and Jerry had been alive until now.

As the owner of about 60 hours of Tom and Jerry DVDs, I watch episodes over and over again - ne'er getting tired of it.

The most violent show ever - with bizarre acts of revenge among the protagonists, diabolical attempts to eliminate each other, all the plotting and scheming... and very quick recoveries. So much of it in every episode. And a lot of the physics involved - elasticity, potential energy, hydraulics, resonance etc all demonstrated often. =)

Fav episodes:
- Tom pole vaults, climbs, flies in the air attempting to catch Jerry and a little yellow bird
- Tom skates around an icy kitchen floor, when the refridgerator is connected to the water supply. His nonchalant 'cool' expression as he skates past Jerry is priceless
- Jerry covets Tom's bubble gum, and what he does with it
- The Cat Concerto episode (1946 - wow!), where Jerry annoys Tom on the piano
- Tom and his alley cat friends in the house disturb Jerry, when the family's out
- Spike the dog (just whistle!) and the puppy episodes
- Episodes when Tom's at the ready to eat Jerry or the bird with condiments, fork, knife etc
- Tuffy the baby mouse and Tom get along

The accompanying music on the show is a big part of every story. I didn't like the later (sharp) drawings as much, and some of the sci-fi storylines.

I've never met anyone that has seen and not liked Tom and Jerry, and have often wondered what goes into creating a cartoon like this - from concept to the final production. Thank you, Hanna-Barbera and producer Fred Quimby.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

'The Cuisinart Murderer of Central High'

This faux movie title from Calvin and Hobbes - I can't get it out my mind. Also, can't stop chuckling when I recall that particular strip. Especially Calvin's expression as he asks mom.

C:'Mom, can I have some money so Hobbes and I can go to a movie?'
M:'What movie?'
C:'The Cuisinart Murderer of Central High'
M:'I really think there are more constructive ways you could spend your afternoon, Calvin'
H:'What did she say?'
C:'Oh, she went off on one of her irrelevant tangents again'


Other classic (fict.) movies that C & H have shown an interest in:
  • Sorority Row Horror
  • Venusian Vampire Vixens
  • Vampire Sorority Babes
  • Killer Prom Queen
  • Attack of the Coed Cannibals
  • Cannibal Stewardess Vixens Unchained
Can just think about any of these and LoL to the bewilderment of anyone that's with me. I own every Calvin n'Hobbes collection there is, hence these recollections.

Watterson, why did you stop? =)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Meteor Shower Ev'ry November

There's this magic about watching the Leonids meteor shower at this time every year.

Most spectacular - I recall this enchanting early morning, Nov 2002, back in Waltham, MA.

I'd stayed up... and before I knew it, it was 330am. Watched about a hundred shooting stars that icy cold morning, against an inky black sky. Amazing.

Then watched Venus the morning star rise.

What magic. Wish upon a..... staaaaaaah!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Would we miss anything?

Just occurred to me:

Why is it so important to stay close to email, and have a cell phone all the time?
I speak for myself, and likely for many others.

Weren't we all fine - once upon a time - without the ability to contact anyone or be contacted - 24x7?

This occurred to me as I settled in for a nightly ritual - running over twelve years now.
Sitting in front of the TV, with my laptop connected to the net, and a cell phone right by my side.

What am I - Mr Connected? A Breaking News enthusiast? I never turn the television off without a last look at CNN.

There're so many that answer cell phones at the movies, in the car at 65 mph, heck - even in airplanes in blatant disregard for all safety requirements.
Some of us scrurry to check email at airports, on our Blackberries lest it be something drop dead important. Sure, like that update on servers down for maintenance, that double upgrade offer from a car rental co, and some $%^&#@! discount deadline for some tradeshow.

What earthshaking event do we need to be on top of, that we need to know about immediately, that we can't afford to miss? What needs our input that can't wait - all the time?

Nothing - I bet. Honest, more often than not for me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My overrated iPod Mini - thoughts on the iPod's 5th birthday.

Reviews@CNet asked me if I was sure. I'd given the iPod Mini a 0/5 rating in March '05. This was different than the rave reviews given to it from other users on Cnet.

I thought then, and still think that my iPod Mini is a piece of garbage. I've had it for almost two years now, and it's an unreliable, non-intuitive to use, overrated gadget.

Nothing on it ever works the way it should. The playlists keep changing, and skipping. The volume control is plain unusable. The *&^%$#@#$+! thing freezes on and off. How can this contraption fetch a huge resale price on eBay?

It's now exactly five years since the iPod was introduced - to unprecedented popularity. Did I get a lemon iPod? Or is it cos we're overlooking the lousy flaws, as it's cool and in to use an iPod?

I'm ready to toss it in the water.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mel blames the tequila

Here's how I'd wrap up Good Morning America if I were Diane Sawyer -

'Charles, I think what Monsieur Gibson's saying here is:

It takes that one drink to evoke deep rooted anti-Jewish sentiments within.
Or
I'm an anti-Semite, and that drink made me express my inherent feelings.'

To quote the Eternal Mel:

"Years go by, you're fine," he says. "And then all of a sudden in a heartbeat, in an instant, on an impulse, somebody shoves a glass of Mescal in front of your nose and says, 'It's from Oaxaca.' And it's burning its way through your esophagus and you go, 'Oh man, what did I do that for? I can't put the toothpaste back in the tube."

'The interview with Sawyer is the first time Gibson has spoken to the media since sparking a scandal by unleashing what he later called "vitriolic and harmful words" during his arrest. Gibson told the arresting officer: "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked him, "Are you a Jew?" '

Read up here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Recollections - The Amish

The recent Amish school shooting tragedy - the third U.S. school shooting incident this past week - brought back memories of this community. I'd encountered these gentle folks on a couple occasions back East.

It was the winter of 1997 when I first saw the Amish, on a trip from Syracuse University to Canajoharie, NY. My friend, a student of chemical engg had to collect water samples from a treatment plant, and I'd driven along with him. On the country road off the exit that icy cold day, I saw road signs with horse carriages painted on them. Soon enough we were slowed down by a horse drawn buggy in front of us. A bearded man in a black hat held the reins, a member of the Amish community in upstate NY.

The next time I got to meet this quaint ethnic group was during the summer of '99. Traveling through eastern Ohio, we came across an Amish farmer's market. In the blazing hot sun, there were Amish dressed in black, selling produce. By now, I'd read up some on their history and ways. I recall:

- Rollerblading being acceptable among them, as a non-motorized means of transport.
- Being surprised on seeing a bunch of them traveling in a van. Apparently acceptable.
- Smiling genial older folks.
- Curious Amish kids that likely saw their first non-Caucasian - me. =)
- Wondering how they managed to live the way they did, out of choice. Why choose to be so? What made them tick?
- Thoughts on scenes from The Witness and For Richer or Poorer, movies that featured them. Harrison Ford as a faux Amish man punching the lights out of some hecklers that bothered them.

Among the many school shooting incidents over the past decade, this one likely affected my thoughts the most. For a community so opposed to non-violence, and steeped in the values of 'turning the other cheek', and forgiveness - these killings are a god-awful calamity. Unpardonable.

But pardon they did, by forgiving the gunman that killed five of their own.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Crikey! Steve Got Stung

See what happens when you go overboard with animals? This guy certainly did, and they got him.

He was known to be a great conservationist, and for that all praise is deserved. Not for his on-camera antics.

Unfortunate, yes - Irwin's death, the current media circus, and the circus he ran.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Was the chief guest's last name Gibson?

Look at these unbelievably ignorant and insensitive jokers - how crass can people get?

Hitler-themed restaurant

A huge poster of the Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler, adorned the inauguration function of Hitler's Cross, much to the surprise of the invitees.

The signage at the entrance also showed the Swastika encircled by the letter O in Cross.

“We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people’s minds,” owner Punit Shablok told Reuters. “We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different.”

!!!! For shame.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Polar bear anyone?


As a fan of bears - all kinds, I couldn't help showcasing this one.

Here's Coldilocks - a nice AP picture on CNN.
CNN.com: 'Coldilocks, a 25-year-old female polar bear, enjoys bits of fruit in a block of ice in the midday heat at the Philadelphia Zoo.'


I rarely miss bear stories on the net. Here are a few ursine escapades: =)

'Juan the Andean spectacled bear first paddled across a moat using a log for a raft, then scaled a wall. Finally he appeared to commandeer a bicycle, before zookeepers with brooms cornered him.' 'Sgt. Bill Heinck said the bear did try one can of Busch, but ignored the rest."He didn't like that (Busch) and consumed, as near as we can tell, about 36 cans of Rainier." ' 'It was a real-life version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears — only in reverse. A woman came home to find a young bear eating oatmeal in her kitchen. Three police officers who went to the home Thursday couldn't get the bear to budge, so authorities let the animal finish its meal.'

Enchanting.


Monday, July 31, 2006

The Eternal Mel

Yes, others have said the exact same things, but let me add my note to all that's being said about Mel Gibson:

- He's so obviously an anti-Semite. There's been enough evidence .... his behavior, his film and his family.
- The first apology didn't refer to his anti-Jew remarks. Gibson only said he was sorry for these later, when it was pointed out. He wants Hollywood and movie-goers to not boycott him. Make no mistake, he still has the same beliefs.
- Nothing he'll say or do in repentance now and later will ever change that. It can't, because - unprovoked - he chose to express something that he believes in. He'll always be a Jew hater.

And no, drunkeness is not an excuse. How can they defend this SS Nazi? How?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Syd Barrett

Roger 'Syd' Barrett passed on last week. One of the founders of Pink Floyd, he left the band in the late '60s, well before Floyd's major albums came out. He was replaced by David Gilmour after he lost his mind, and the album 'Wish You Were Here' was with reference to Barrett.

I chanced upon The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, from Barrett's time, in '04. Astronomy Domine, a weird number from this album, wasn't easy to forget.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Again: Murder in Bombay. Resilience?

'Bastards!' I recall this headline in the Daily Mirror after the London tube bombings one year ago. It was also expressed spontaneously, soon as many of us heard about Bombay now.


Today, a bunch of hatemonger killers left explosives on trains across Bombay and got off, before hundreds were blown up. A curse on these godless heathen.


All Cities Do Step Up During Tragedies
Now about the media that covers Bombay's tragedies. Oh, the city is used to it, right? The city is 'resilient', and it's residents will rise to the occasion, Bombay's spirit shall ne'er die, this is after all 'Bombay'.

Where doesn't this happen?

What city isn't resilient, where don't citizens step up and help each other after a disaster? It happened in New York, London, Madrid, and in any other terror zone. Why does the media keep on about how each city is unique and shall rise from the ashes. Come on, they all do, and it's not extraordinary. Because it's a question of staying employed, not losing an earning opportunity - there isn't a choice for most ordinary survivors. And people will always reach out during a tragedy, like they do in Bombay everytime.

Excitement For Some Of The Unaffected
However I saw a different kind of 'resilience' on television. There were resilient people in Bombay grinning on camera, yelling, laughing as they waved to viewers, and overall having a good time as clueless reporters asked for soundbites. Happens every time, and so terribly crude when viewed against the background of tragedy.

They were obviously not directly affected by the bombings - no damage, no injuries, no loss of life, and for such people this was some welcome excitement. Trains were bombed in the city where they live, nothing happened to them, but wow how exciting - be all buzzed and do nothing. A diversion from their monotonous daily lives. For every genuine donor, facilitator or life saver(there were many), there were several of these jokers on the sidelines. One of them even said 'It is a sad day for Bombay', smiling cheerfully.

News Coverage - Watch Us, We Sensationalize More.
Do any of us care for reporters and news anchors' faux expressions on Indian TV channels? . Those affected are tired of cliched comments about 'spirit' and how 'Bombay is different'. Did anything change for them since the last tragedy? As always, rookie and familiar reporters were competing for stories by asking the most inane questions:

'How do you feel after these explosions?' (I feel great. What do you think?)
'Do you want to go home now?' (Nope, thought I'd standby until the wee hours)
'Will your family be worried about you?' (No, they're hoping I'd be taken)
'Are you going to get on a train now?' (No, heading to the airport)
'Do you feel different than the last time Bombay was attacked?' (Yes, this time I feel really awful. Last time I was happy.)
'Do you think Bombay will get back on its feet?' (Difficult to say. Let me watch and get back to you in 6 weeks.)

Bad enough when posed to dazed victims, and incredibly worse when asked to the grinning/excited folks above. Completely unaffected, their cheerful smiling demeanor, even as they professed sorrow and shock, should make anyone recoil with disgust.

Speaking of expressing disgust, do read this column. Are these attacks a surprise any longer? No.

Windows Live Mail - what a mess!

Right off my comments on Cnet -

Been trying this beta 'upgrade' on and off a few months now.

What a complete disaster Windows Live Mail, beta or not, is! What the heck is the MS team doing - nothing works on this piece of trash!

  1. Can't open an email easily,
  2. Can't open a link within,
  3. Can't update contacts,
  4. Can't delete an email, and
  5. Microsoft even threatens us ambigiously when we try to opt out of beta?! Just try opting out.
Besides they'll keep telling you they're working on the Classic Hotmail view, and that you should try LiveMail. It's confusing as both do not work. Oh, and it works supposedly on IE only, not Firefox. Another super-smart move from MS. Not.

I've anyway switched to Gmail a long time ago. I used Hotmail for 12 years and it became bad to worse to now unusable. Hotmail was already a usability disaster right from login to logout, and so is 'Live Mail' now.

Can MS get anything right?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Did I miss something?

Just finished 'The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari'.
.......
.......
.......
Now what was so fantastic about the book? Honest. Maybe I didn't get the point. Maybe I didn't like the narration and the way it was all conveyed. Maybe it was too much hocus-pocus? Maybe it was hard to recall it all for self-improvement.

Or

It was all about what most people already knew. It was nothing new. There's a zillion self-help books, new age thinkers, and courses that supposedly do the exact same thing.

Felt like the book was much too simple and random in its message. We get the same preaching in many other ways and often. What was different here?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Back - after miles and miles back east

Was away a whole two weeks back east. The sun came back after the first week. Think I covered like 2200 miles on the road - Boston, Connecticut, Springfield-MA, Syracuse, Niagara Falls, Westchester County, NYC and back to the Boston area. Whew!

But it was great to go back to familiar places, and meet old friends in each. Ye olde and oft repeated stories and anecdotes. Good times..... ah, am wistful.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

'Tis good to be in New England

All ye olde familiar places, and familiar people. Good times recalled from the past, and good times now.

Having a great time in Boston, west of Boston, New Hampshire... and all places in between. Feels like home again.

Real nice to meet with old friends, great recollections from years ago, repeated and still fun. So what if it's been raining. Lovin' it much!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Gone batty?

There is a lot of retrospection:
  1. Am I learning anything in what I'm doing?
  2. Am I missing out on some exciting work or life opportunity?
  3. Do I feel like I'm making a difference anywhere?
  4. How come I'm not thinking more often like I did here?
  5. Are some people and peoples more evolved than others?
  6. What was I thinking then and before then?
  7. Why do I endlessly wonder about why I did something?
  8. Will I be wondering what was I thinking now, next year?
  9. How come I don't meet more people that think and react like me?
  10. Why didn't I think of somethings sooner?
  11. Are there people with the same interests and exposure as I?
  12. Why do I dislike 'How to' self-help books?
  13. Why don't I care about the seven habits and the 8th?
  14. Why do I think sequels to self-help books are a scam?
  15. Will I always go through the same sequence of actions before turning the tap off, switching off lights, turning off the ignition, closing doors, and leaving a place?
  16. Is everything around me real or virtual?
  17. Does everyone see objects, people, colors, scenery... whatever, the way I do?
  18. Have I lost my mind a lot?

Now I'm getting somewhere...

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Da Vinci Code film

Watched this yesterday, and it ran through the book so fast that I had to think about the sequence of events again.

  • Yes, the book felt better.
  • Some moments made me laugh that weren't meant to be funny.
  • Most of the scenes were exactly as I'd imagined from the book.
  • No one should watch this film, that hasn't read the book. It'd be hard to keep up or understand.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

In Hong Kong...

....as I watch giant planes lumber past very close by, out the lounge window. About 500 ft away, airplanes land and take off. I could watch all day at that distance. The sight of a huge 747 whatever it's doing - standing, taxiing, landing or taking off - never ceases to fascinate me. You just have to wonder how that thing gets off the ground.

I'm in Hong Kong International airport, probably the most familiar complex for me in the world. There's nothing I don't know about Chep Lap Kok a.k.a HKIA. I was here when it opened in 1998, and have been here visiting or in transit a zillion times since.

No surprise it's rated the world's best airport - everything works, is available, or is made possible for travelers. Besides, Cathay Pacific's lounges are first rate - long showers, snackies, an amazing noodle bar, drinks, wi-fi, personal television, and lots of space. They make my frequent and long trans-Pacific trips bearable. I actually look forward to transit at HKIA. When I think about transits at airports when traveling as a student years ago, I appreciate the place even more. =)

I wanted to post from the airport, because the view out made me think about HKIA. Off for a little stroll now, and likely some sleep.

Monday, May 08, 2006

It's all good.

This was triggered by one of the usually cheesy-preachy emails sent to a mail list I'm on.

Often times we forget (I forget) there're a lot of things going for us. Going well. Instead we focus on the negative stuff - at work, home, about people around us. I'm not the first one to have this epiphany, but it occurs to me infrequently.

We have cool sunny days, silly humor, our six senses, working arms and feet, and good health that we aren't acknowledging. Things could be far worse. Look at the bad news around.

There's a lot to be thankful for. If not there's always some schadenfreude to perk life up with.

Now if only I remembered this often enough, I'd not be concerned about a lot of things, would I?

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday at home

After I shut my alarm down at 11, I was woken up at noon by a friend calling from Boston. A good thing too, else I'd have slept until late afternoon.

Bright sunshine streaming through the window. CNN's all about United 93, and is it too soon. Again.

Then we heard about record oil company profits - woohoo! How nice. Is it as easy as just cranking up gas prices for any rumor? I heard a commentator say sure people will whine and complain, but they'll keep buying gas. The whole thought of possible greedy cartels is disgusting.
I recall gas at 90c/gal in Syracuse back in '97. There were gas stations doing $0.67/gal in Indiana and Atlanta then. The wonderful oil glut, the good ol' times. Heck, gas at $1.50 mid-2000 felt expensive.

Now you get those upgrades to full size real quick n'easy at rental car companies. Downgrading to a compact is near impossible - all taken!

The 9-11 film

I watched United 93 on opening day Friday at the Great Mall in Milpitas. Not many people in the theater, despite all the controversy and the media talking about the movie non-stop. There's 'Is it too soon?' discussions on TV all the time.

Anyway, the film was well made - focussed only on the flight, against the background of the events of 9/11/01. It was a like a camera happened to be observing the incidents as they happened. No flag waving patriotism, no jihadist anti-American rhetoric from terrorist organizations - just a re-enactment of what happened that day.

Many of us watched it all on TV. I kept thinking back to how it was that morning, as I watched from my apartment in Framingham. The jammed phone lines, the incoming calls, the images, the chaos.... My roommate had left from Logan airport just that morning, from the gate next to one of the hijacked planes.

And the theories, the rumors, the controversies... days and months after. Especially about flights 93 and 77. Were they shot down? Did the passengers really save the White House/ US Capitol by bringing United 93 down?

'Let's Roll' is barely heard. I recall particularly how people stopped being sympathetic to Lisa Beamer, after she became a media princess.

The film has none of this. It shows what happens on the plane right from boarding/taxi among passengers, and hijackers on this particular flight. It shows events on the ground among air traffic controllers, and NORAD in response to the attacks. That's it. It ends in abrupt fashion, because there can't be any more to show.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sunny out the window, nice to see from inside

The allergy symptoms have slowly come down. Nice and sunny clear day out, and I'm again in the office. Actually an endless 3 days in the office, with some progress, and it's been a lot of work. The office is now empty save for two coworkers and I.

Would have been nice to step out for some tennis or a run. Not to be. I've rarely managed going home with daylight out during DST.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Electric cars - need a Reva

Looking at the gas prices around here, I feel the need to find a Reva dealership. Where is one when you need it! $3+ at the pump for regular unleaded at this time.

What happened to all that ethanol from sugarcane that we heard about a few months ago? The way things are going, even the prospect of a hybrid seems uncomfortable.

Monday, April 17, 2006

*Sniff*Koff*Kaff*A-tishoo!

Story of the past 3 days. Must be the lousy rainy weather around here. Haven't been out running either.

Trading up from a paper clip to a house.... lookit this guy!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

CNN's lowlife III world view - pretty darn shameless.

This wasn't above the fold but here's what CNN had to say on Wednesday's solar eclipse in India. This is also known as careless presumptive BS. I looked and could not find any such report. This was an AP feed.

Per CNN (AP report):

'Superstition will follow around the world, as it has for generations.

One Indian paper advised pregnant women not to go outside during the eclipse to avoid having a blind baby or one with a cleft lip. Food cooked before the eclipse should be thrown out afterward because it will be impure and those who are holding a knife or ax during the eclipse will cut themselves, the Hindustan Times added.'

Thanks, CNN-Time-Warner of the I world, but where's said report that reinforces your desired III world stereotype? There's not a chance that a mainstream newspaper like HT would do that.

Careless nonsensical reporting, no fact checking by some ignorant moron reporter - makes me lose respect for CNN. For shame.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Celebrities on game shows

Can't stand the celebrity editions on any game show. Where's the fun or thrill? Who the heck cares if they win anything or not - it's not like the $$ is a big deal for them. Couldn't care less about the charities they play for.

When ordinary people play, display their greed on television, get all beady eyed (and lose), that's when it is fun.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Running out in the cold - in between work.

It's been rather fun to go for a run around the office area. Not a soul in sight at 630p, very few cars and I get the road all to myself. Been trying this here a couple days now, and it's been very pleasant. Figured a nice route that's just right.

Now I seem to be the only one outside in a t-shirt and running shorts. But I don't seem to feel cold, nevermind the 45 degree weather. Rather,there's a spring in my step, and I feel like going on running.

Back at my desk in 30 minutes, and no one here has noticed.

=)

Monday, March 13, 2006

In-N-Out Burger on Wikipedia

Look at the level of detail on In-N-Out Burger in Wiki. There's an amazing amount of information. Can imagine the die-hards coming in and editing/adding trivia or facts on the chain. I read it at lunch, while eating an In-N-Out double-double. When I came to the part about bible verses on the wrappers, I just had to retrieve mine from the trash can to see. =)

Wikipedia is a very addictive site for me - there seems to be something on anything you'd want to know. On any page, it's difficult to stop just there, as the hyperlinks to related or referenced wikis take you away toward more discoveries.

Da Vinci Code: What was the "original's" ending?

I likely was the last one in the world to read the Da Vinci Code - a few months ago - after all the hype. What a god-awful ending.... this guy should be sued for just that, nevermind the allegations of plagiarism.

Anyhow, I did look up Google images to see if the descriptions of the Last Supper, (and other Da Vinci paintings mentioned in the book) were the same. That was the fun part when reading.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Stakeout at High Noon - Cops, Guns, & Excitement at the Office

We'd a ton of excitement at work yesterday here in Santa Clara. Events on Friday afternoon provided a dramatic change from the usual day in the office.

During our weekly all company meeting from 2p, in the midst of a presentation, some of us saw Santa Clara police cars coming in to our parking lot. We could see them from the conference room windows. Cops got out and ran quickly across the lot to take up positions around the building next to ours. 5-O in our backyard!

One police car backed up just by our window. The cop got out, put on a bulletproof vest from the trunk, took out a gun, kept it at the ready, and took up a position behind the car. He was facing the next building, and we realized we were right behind him! There was only a glass window between the cop car and us.

Another police vehicle showed on the wrong side of our road, and stopped right by our office. Someone in what looked like a SWAT uniform got out and ran to the first cop, and took position similarly. There were other cop cars around the building.

In the conference room, we'd forgotten all about our meeting. Some of my colleagues hid behind chairs and furniture expecting a bullet in the cop's direction to crash through the window. Some kept up 'expert commentary' on how the sequence would unfold. Was it the bank in the the next block? Was there a holdup? Were there hostages?

I wondered if it was someone that went postal cos of a layoff at one of the companies next door, and was shooting up colleagues. We imagined scenarios of a lone gunman in our corridors - everything we'd heard or read about for such situations. Some of us called up friends, and tuned into radio stations to find out what was going on. This was a lot of excitement for this neighborhood, unlike some place like Oakland.

The cops gestured incoming cars to park a distance away, and people to get in our building. A bunch of bewildered people ran in from outside. Cars on the road slowed down to see what was going on. We expected gunshots to ring out at any moment - it all felt so possible. Hey, there was a cop with his gun cocked and ready - five feet away!

The vigil continued, until police gestured from a distance and some wireless conversations happened. Then it was all over. The cop cars all left the premises immediately. We had no idea what had happened in the last thirty minutes, but it had put our entire workplace in a tizzy. People had been crouched on the floor! What presentation, and what company meeting?!

We recovered in about an hour, and got back to normal proceedings. At the office bowling outing afterward, it was the topic. Everyone that heard it - bartenders, drinkers, anyone - was agog.

As a coworker said, good for hours of storytelling for days afterward!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ah, I've had it....

Driving down Central expwy last afternoon, I was ready to do something drastic - spin the car around at 50 mph, rear-end another car, honk for no reason... anything to get rid of a sound.

The sound of other people in the car chewing. *Aaaack!*

Among the sounds I hate, that I abhor, that close my mind to everything else is that of chewing. Especially chewing after meal times. C'est abominable! I find it exponentially gross and disgusting. What's worse is when the chewer is oblivious to the sounds s/he makes with their jaw movements. What a bunch of inconsiderates!

I find that people are distracted when chewing, and this makes them even more irritating. They also tend to make the most crass comments, talk louder, and are a little more clueless than usual at that time.

Other such god-awful sounds like constant throat clearing (only certain kinds), garbled voices when a throat isn't clear, snoring over a decibel limit, and loud sniffling are also major irritants, and for most people. When people excuse themselves at each time if they're able, it helps calm me down.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hindi Films - A String of Flops

The world's largest movie industry - hundreds of films made every year. I wonder why.

Every other movie is a disaster at the box office, sometimes all releases in a week. Why do these movies continue to be made?

Week after week, a series of turkeys. Flops galore.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The awards telecast...

...nothing to report because I slept through the entire show Sunday. I fell asleep at 430p, just when the red carpet inanity was going on, and woke precisely when it all ended. I woke up to some after-party giggling, and some meaningless questioning of winners by reporters.

Looks like I missed nothing in between - it was the same old thing from last year, and this time I hadn't watched any of the films nominated.

And I enjoy watching Jon Stewart, but on The Daily Show. Apparently, he wasn't the same as the Oscars' host.

I planned to watch it all, but was pre-programmed to tune out for exactly the length of the telecast.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Hailstorm

This afternoon at work, we looked out the window to see millions of hailstones falling from the sky. It made one heck of a sound! The parking lot looked like snow had fallen on it, and all the cars had the white stuff on them. Quite unusual for the Bay area.

It was an amazing sight - tiny pellet sized pieces of ice that gave the place a wintry look. The stones were smaller than in any other hailstorm I'd seen. People were whipping out camera phones to take pictures. Wonder what traffic was like - it felt slippery even when I picked up some hail at the building entrance.

Hail, storm!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Metallica - Always The Same.

Why do all Metallica numbers sound the same? I mean the exact same, unlike what we call the typical sound of a band. We can recognize an Iron Maiden, Queensryche, or Oasis song with some familiar note, sure.

But Metallica is always the same - every single number. The same opening bars everytime, the same guitar riffs, the same roar by James Hetfield, and the same guttural wail at the end of every stanza. How repetitive and boring.

As a metal fan, I listen to a wide range of bands - past and present. However, I've never liked Metallica. Often times, when I mention heavy metal, the first thing I'm asked is 'Do you like Metallica?'. No, I don't.

Unforgiven.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mind Your Language

This week, I chanced upon one of my favorite shows on DVD - the classic 70s British TV comedy Mind Your Language. Laughed for 3 days straight. I watched it as a little kid in the 80s, and still recall many of the characters' lines.

The show's completely politically incorrect which makes it very appealing. Honest.
Audiences from the stereotyped characters' countries find MYL hilarious. No reports of any offense taken.
The title soundtrack is unforgettable.
Reports are MYL will never be aired again in reruns, as it will raise the hackles of the PC set.

'Chinese are peasanto. Japanese not fascisto.'
'Oh blimey!'
'I cannot mally Ari'
'Oh dearie me' -' You can say that again' - 'Oh dearie me!'
'Fly from Africa to here? Like on a big iron bird. Vrrroom!'

A complete laugh riot.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Playlist

Heatseeker
Freewheel Burning
Suite Sister Mary
A Change Of Seasons
The Sentinel
Rock Hard, Ride Free
Revolution Calling
Hells Bells
Aces High
2 Minutes To Midnight
Eyes Of A Stranger
Victim Of Changes
All Guns Blazing
Highway Star
The Hellion/Electric Eye

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A hunting incident.

At least the Veep's ever present ambulance detail was kept on its toes.

Cheney shoots attorney

'Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.'

Fodder for Leno tonight.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

My inbox.

My vast, exaggerated, and aggravated readership (and thanks for caring to write) ;) :
Do not send hate mail, or any email. Post here with your name, so I can edit/delete your critical commentary. No need to login and post any more.
=)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

First in Asia...? Really!

What the heck is 'first in Asia'? (Or best/largest/tallest/widest) This is a title or record claimed for many achievements in India, and other countries in Asia. Why? Because they can't be verified.

There aren't really any statistics or records kept specific to Asia, but there are for a country or for the whole world. So who's watching Asian records? No one, and so it's easy to claim a record. Besides, this is a continent with a lot of backward countries and 3 billion people.

Asia's largest mall. Really? - How do we know?
Asia's largest software company. - So? You're measuring up to who else here?
Asia's biggest solar power facility. - Meaningless. Where are the stats to compare?
Asia's largest plastic maker. - Jeezzz.
First gobbledygook-ology procedure institute in Asia. - Did anyone know of other similar ones?

It's easy to jump and say 'Asia's first..', when people can't really find out if it's true.

In any case, in such claims - the records that really matter usually belong to N.America or Europe.

The ultimate 'best in Asia' tripe I came across was this 'First in Asia' title for someone's TOEFL score. 'My cousin's super TOEFL score made her first in Asia!', said this acquaintance to me.

First in Asia for TOEFL? How could that be? Hundreds of candidates would have received a perfect TOEFL score, and many of them from Asia. Countries like India have several such scores.

Nothing like expanding the importance of a modest achievement - just extend it to the continent. Watch for these non-verifiable Asian firsts - there's one every month. =)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Why is Bryan Adams in India so often?

Anyone recall a 'Bryan Adams', former rock star? The one that was famous over a decade ago?

Well, he's still huge someplace else, long after North American audiences have forgotten him. Three concert tours in 4 years in India!

Wonder why he goes there so often. It seems like there's a Bryan Adams concert in Bangalore every year. Star starved audiences will keep attending, and they're promised acts like U2 every year. But who shows up? Bryan.

PDIs ->Pre-determined Internationals

What's a PDI?
As opposed to the old ODIs or one day internationals, PDIs are a recent and extremely popular form of cricket. The rules are the same as one day games, with one difference - the results are decided ahead of game-time.

History
PDIs were first played in the late '80s with numerous instances of incredible scores, and facile victories. The mid-east venue of Sharjah was an early catalyst in the development of this version of cricket. In one game, a bowler took seven lbws in bad light, and that was considered fair, because it meant fantastic returns for the winning team's backers.

Early enthusiasts were from the subcontinent, before the readmission of South Africa into international cricket in 1991. This was an important point in the evolution of the pre-determined game - South Africa proved to be a top-class source of fixing talent. The country's result facilitators devised complex determining techniques, and blazed a trail for others to follow. By 1996, the PDI version had an influential organization across South Asia, South Africa, and Australia.

Popularity
Lucrative for bettors and and even more so for players, it was no surprise that pre determined games caught on rapidly in the '90s. Top quality match fixing soon became an art many wanted to perfect. It meant acquiring high level playing contacts, detailed knowledge on the weather, gestures, pitches, and team selection. Importantly it also included a fair amount of glamor, which meant a significant upgrade in social status. Who wouldn't want to hang with the stars, and have a good time?

Minor Controversy
The party was a little spoiled in 2000 when the general viewing public, and fans got in on the details. There was some indignation, because so many had been denied their share of gambling windfall for years. If they'd known, so many fans would have gotten with the program early. Much like the stock market, where investors love a good tip, and want it fast. Good ol' sporting capitalism.

Progress and Current State
Soon all was forgotten, and the PDIs continued, and made several people very comfortable. The system was streamlined so that results from the quarterfinals of tournaments were known in advance, so people could make informed betting decisions. Also, a cryptic set of codes and signals were formulated so everything went per plan in a game.

Players' remunerations and perks increased exponentially, and a healthy rapport with result facilitators was established. There was no more an atmosphere of distrust nor fear. After all, every one stood to gain. Once crudely referred to as 'match fixing', the tag 'pre-determined' allowed the game a measure of respectability.

For county, and test cricket as well, a parallel 'Pre-Det' version was created. PDTs - pre-determined tests - are huge in India, Pakistan, and of course South Africa. Recent results stand testimony to the popularity of this version.

Find Out Yourself
What should you look for? Next time, before any PDI/T, watch for the pre-game weather report, and comments made by players in the media. Watch for the gesturing in the field, similar behavior in the pavilion, and in the stands near it. Watch for unusual dismissals and strikes during play that leave you incredulous. The party rolls on....

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Yet another grand thrashing...

What did I say - has SRT ever performed when India's needed the runs? Never.

And that's what happened - again - in the 3rd game. The most overrated cricketer ever.
Not even once has this 'great' delivered when the chips were down. That's for players like Lara to do.

More stupid 'is it the end of an era?' media fawning. Stupid eulogizing for someone that only set personal records.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ethanol - Did You Know This Could Be It?

This was one long article, but I read it all the way to the end. Every time I get a new car, I wonder if the world's oil reserves will last long enough for me to drive it years down. Serious, I sometimes think one day my car will just be immobile because there's no gas left anywhere. I think of hydrogen engines and conversion kits....

And now I hear this:

'An energy source that costs less than gasoline, produces almost none of the emissions that cause global warming, and comes from the Midwest, not the Middle East.'

And it sounds like it could happen, is happening, has happened for a long time. Way to go, Brazil!

Next time I pass by cornfields, I'll think oilfields...ethanol-fields.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Colts - Again. The Pats - Huh?!

Always go back and read what sportswriters said before their heros turned turkeys.

For Peyton Manning, they went on and on about the Colts' unbeaten run. The greatest QB ever, the matchup with the Patriots, his record. 14-0 in the first 14 weeks of the season.

And what? Big deal. It don't matter.

Indianapolis got kicked out of the playoffs again. Pittsburgh won a thriller. The same playoff story for the Colts. Don't see why Manning's record is so important when he's never won a Superbowl, or even reached one.

And every year you'll hear his achievements being tom-tommed to kingdom come, when nothing finally happens. You never hear the same year round hype about Tom Brady who has 3 rings in four years, and 3-0 record in Superbowls.

Speaking of Brady's Patriots.... what happened to the dynasty this time? That was one awful show at Denver. Guess we're too used to seeing New England win in the playoffs.

Throwing my hat in the Monday morning QB ring...

Friday, January 13, 2006

How To Spot A Zombie

What do you do when people that you barely know walk in to your apartment, and try to get you join some 'educational session' that will be a 'life changing experience'? This happened to me recently.

Two things came to mind:

- Amway

- Some zombie cult

I got the name of this organization, and sure enough the internet tells me it's a brainwasher sort of cult, where the sessions cost a packet each time. Whenever there's any kind of proselytizing, you can bet something's up.

Hint : Any acquaintance/friend/neighbor that shows up suddenly and tries to get you to:

  1. attend a 'session', and
  2. says how it changed their lives,
  3. asks you to confirm attendance, and
  4. then says no obligation to join...

... is in a cult.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

J.Priest - Ye Olde Metal Gods

I was thinking of Judas Priest's latest album 'Angel of Retribution', and as always was trying to download tracks for free. Then I realized my childhood metal gods were now like 56 years old on average. That made me think some....

During what I think was their best ever album 'Defenders of the Faith' ('84), Glenn Tipton was 36. For their heaviest album 'Painkiller' ('90) he was 42, and Rob Halford was like 40.

Am I up for people Paw's age screaming their heads off on stage, and doing those guitar riffs? Probably not. Why? It don't fit.

Will stick with the likes of Queensryche awhile. Ah, I coulda been screaming like a banshee as a lead singer..... alas. At least, I had the long hair once.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Arrest me, officer?

Arnie has no license to ride motorbikes. Not in Terminator, not in LA.

Schwarzenegger acknowledged that he never bothered to obtain a motorcycle license because he “never thought about it.”

Maybe we can all drive around without valid licenses, and say 'Sure, well the governor didn't have one either, and I never thought about it'

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hotmail - Is anyone listening?

Why does Hotmail continue to be such a usability disaster? Has Microsoft given up on making this product easy to use?

The difficulties begin right at login. You need to type in an entire email address. Ok, there's ' save email address' option, but what if you have more than one ID? All the other web mail offerings let you sign in with just a user name at any time.

After signing in, there's a meaningless screen that tells you what email is new, from my contacts, and what is junk. More often than not, I find legitimate email in the junk folder.

The inbox screen is completely non intuitive. Composing an email requires looking for some button that says 'new'.

There are too many intermediate 'confirmed' screens to wade through to get anything done. Sure, Yahoo mail has similar stuff, but somehow it seems cleaner and quicker.

I like Gmail's no nonsense approach the best, and I don't care about the text ads. They do not bother me. It has everything that users need - easy to find anything, everything is saved, it's fast, and is thus a complete usability delight.

Once upon a time - Hotmail ruled the net. I think it now ranks a distant third or fourth in favorable ratings.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mining disaster - Now Alive, Now Dead.

Unbelievable! I was just watching and reading news reports about the W.Va miners that were supposedly alive , that were actually dead.

First we heard early today that 12 miners were found alive in that incident. Scenes and exclamations of joy

Twelve of 13 miners who had been trapped underground for more than 36 hours are alive and were being brought out early Wednesday for treatment, officials and family members said.

Ambulances carrying the rescued miners began arriving early Wednesday at the local hospital.

Minutes later, we hear that 11 are dead, and only one is alive and in critical condition. What a god-awful horror story. Can't imagine what those families are going through, especially when we saw those scenes of jubilation, and church bells tolling.

Grief and anger replaced jubilation early Wednesday as mine officials announced that, despite earlier reports, only one of 13 trapped miners had survived a West Virginia mining accident.

'Miscommunication' was blamed for the good news turned bad news.

Per MSNBC, 'the chief executive of the mine blamed the stunning error on a misunderstood conversation overheard between rescuers and the command center overseeing rescue efforts.'

!!!!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Year's Eve highlights

I know this is a couple days late. Been catching up on New Year's eve 'who said/did what after a few drinks' stories. All with a touch of exaggeration, but who cares.

True highlights though:
- My neighbor that had invited people to his place, but hung out at my place at our pre-party. In fact his guests, family and their drinks ended up at my apartment, until they realized who'd invited them in the first place.

- My friend told a guest that he'd 'beat her' if she didn't quit smoking. ;)

- Us returning home real quick to after-party cos the place we went to was a disaster.

- Tequila shots from 3am onward, cos some people didn't feel drunk enough.

So New Year's Eve 2006 won't be in my worst list ... refer to an earlier posting.

Titles at work. Napa under water.

Can anyone explain Assistant Vice President? One of my friends has this title at work, and it seems like it means Vice-Vice or Assistant-Assistant.

Was in Napa just last month, and I hear wine country's completely flooded. Dennis and I were just there and it was picture perfect when we managed to do three wineries despite starting out from Santa Clara at 3pm.

Pretended like I understood wine appreciation terms, and also noted the progressive animated chatter of my fellow tasters. You could tell who'd been to how many wineries.

In all my time in CA, this was the first time I did anything touristy - like visit Napa Valley and go wine tasting. The old guy at Peju Province was a riot - the way he sang and narrated his wine stories. Good times.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Random chuckles...

Ever suddenly chuckle about something that you recall from the past? Some incident, a scene from a film, something on tv? Happens to me often. =)

Even as I think most 'Bollywood' films are poorly made with copied stories and bad acting, they can be funny at times. Intentionally and unintentionally - mostly the latter. Among genuinely funny scenes that I keep recalling for chuckles:

- The Pele-Kele scene in Do aur Do Paanch
Amitabh to the kid:
'Bittu beta..main tumhe aisa football sikhaaonga ke mashhoor football player Pele tumhaare saamne kele bechthe hue nazar aayenge’’...lol

- The missing corpse scene in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.
When asked about it, the two journalists go -'Woh laash (body)...la la la la ...' (sung to the tune of another film song)

- The 'Hamara Bajaj' scene in Andaz Apna Apna.
The crooked twin of the rich man makes plans for his chicken business, when he thinks he now has his brother's fortune.

Non-film:
Whenever I think of my neighbor's 'kid-friendly' german shepherd chasing the children around the pool. That cracks me up. Right after being declared 'friendly' she went after them. LOL.

1996

HNY - 2006 is here! Now do you remember what you did for New Year's 1996? It's a decade ago already!

1996 was the year of the Macarena craze, when the WWW expanded exponentially, when Ind-Pak-SL hosted a cricket world cup together, Pepsi ran the 'Nothing Official About It' ad campaign, the summer when Independence Day hit the screens, and when Clinton-Gore beat Dole-Kemp in a landslide.

It was also the year that you now wish you had bought dot.com IPO stock. It's now ten years since - amazing.

=)