Thursday, March 31, 2005

A series of unfortunate events

Here's a true life account of what happened when me and Noddy visited Fazoli's last night to pick up some dinner.

Scene from parking lot to entry door:
Noddy and I walk towards the door. So does an elderly and (for some reason) very dressed up couple. I open the door to let them nice of me. The gentleman looks at Noddy and wants her to go. Noddy doesn't go. The lady with the gentleman tries to get in but then Noddy also tried to get in too. They both stop. All four of us are still outside. Eventually, the gentleman decides to get in and his lady follows. Then Noddy and I follow. At the second door, the gentleman opens the door and Noddy and I simply walk in. No more ifs and buts.

Scene at the ordering counter:
Order-guy with wierd looking hat and sorry face: May I help you?
Noddy and I continue to stare at the menu boards behind him. He continues to stare extremely expectantly at us. Unpleasant silence follows. The elderly couple who met us at the door stare at the menu boards too. Everyone is staring somewhere. No one is talking. Order-guy eventually loses interest. Noddy now knows what she wants. She ends the order-guy's misery by going forward and ordering her meal.
Order-guy: Your total is $5.04
Me: Here's 5 bucks and....(furious digging into back pocket)... here's 5 cents.
Noddy: Here's my credit card
Order-guy: (Thinking) Am I on the Jamie Kennedy Xperiment show?
Me: Cash is fine. Here you go.
Order-guy: Is this for here or to go?
Me: For here.
Noddy: To go.
Me: To go?
Noddy: For here?
Order-guy: (Thinking) Make up your stupid mind, people.
Elderly couple: (Thinking) Who lets immigrants through this door. We need a sign outside.
Order-guy: Well if it's to-go, then your order total is $4.65
Me: (Thinking)...moron, your questions were backwards then.
Me: Okay well I'll take my 5 cents back. Here's $5.
Order-guy: Here's your change....35 cents.
Me and Noddy reach out our hands quickly and together to grab those precious gems
Order-guy: Geez people it's only 35 cents...back off a little bit please. One person gets it.
......standing in line waiting for order.....packing lady furiously packing orders....finishes packing something...
Noddy: (Picks it up) ... Thank you.... (Starts to walk away)
Packing-lady: Ma'am that's not yours.
Noddy: (Embarrassed) ... Oh you go.
Other lady standing next to Noddy picks it up because it was really HER order. She starts to walk away but I'm in the way. So I back up a little bit .....only to step real hard on the foot of the man behind me..
Unfortunate-man: Whoa!!
Me: Sorry .. real sorry.
Unfortunate-big-man: That's okay (you moron).
Noddy finally gets her order. We make a quick disappearance in our getaway car before anyone notices us anymore.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Traveler's Log - Day 2

Whoa! Long long day. Again, without giving too much company specific three paragraph blog.

We (Dennis and I) worked at the customer site but towards the end things started to heat up a bit. We had to wrap things up while also maintaining our schedule of leaving Chicago in the evening. It got really hectic towards the end and we made the call that we should leave Chicago and continue working on stuff from Dayton. More importantly the experience for me was invaluable. When push comes to shove and you're the ambassador of the company on a customer site, you don't learn from books about how you handle that. It's a matter of getting in there and presenting yourself no matter how good/bad the situation is without losing your calm composure. I think I did a pretty good job of that. The up-side to that is that the customer feels very comfortable about it too. If you start to get edgy, it's going to make the customer nervous about your capabilities and those of your software too. So I was really proud of the way I handled the pressure cooker atmosphere that built up around 4 pm.

I learned a lot from Dennis and a bit about him personally, during this trip. Much of the learning from him was around the customer interface ability. He's been to hundreds of customer sites, conferences and other such places. What that means is that he's pretty much capable of handling situations where things don't work and you had to do a whole lot of explaining as to why and also maintain your sanity. I'm not saying that's what happened there, but I spent quite a bit of time noticing his interactions with the customer. Invaluable experience there. Secondly, on a more personal note...Dennis must be a great dad because he's really involved with what his kids do. The reason I say that is because he had an MP3 player that we hooked onto the car stereo. Now, I listen to the latest music too but I have a hard time remembering the names of songs/artists and everything. Too many of them these days. However, Dennis knew them all! And these aren't songs from when he was growing up. They're songs from last week or month or year. It sort of surprised me but he then said that some of these collections belong to his daughter Hilary and so that's how he knew them. What that DOES tell me is that he actively participates in what Hilary does and knows the kind of music that is influencing her thought processes. I think that kind of active participation is a good thing as long as your'e not overbearing and suffocating the child's space.

The drive back was such a drag. For some very wierd reason, we couldn't find a single decent place to eat for over 2 1/2 hours. We finally stopped at Outback Stakehouse. The rains made driving a total nightmare and our crappy rental didn't really grip the road as it should. I got back around 12:30 am .. poor Dennis had to again drop me home that late before eventually heading to his home. Back at work at 8 and continuing to work on the pending issue....we'll see how it goes. Overall.... awesome trip...great company ... definitely lots of learning and definitely worthwhile.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Traveler's Log - Day 1 March 20th 2005

Dennis and I are on the road again. We drove here to Chicago. We reached here pretty quick and
I won't give out the exact time it took us to get from Dayton to the "Welcome to Chicago" sign.
Suffices to say it was pretty quick and I'll leave it at that. Our hotel we're staying at is very wierd. It's full of rich and snooty people. Everyone looking away from everyone else equates to rich and snooty. The lobby looks great and is very arnately decorated. However, the room is really crappy. Everything is cramped into very little space so you have to jump over your belongings to get from one area to another.

Anyway, after dropping off our stuff at the hotel, we headed to look for dinner places. Our first
stop was Harry Carey's. We were told that there was a 45 minute wait. So Dennis put his name down and we headed off to find a backup. 45 minutes was going to be too much -- we were starving because we didn't stop to eat on our way to Chicago (that's why my earlier comment on getting here REAL quick). A litle way farther was House of the name suggests...dedicate to Blues artists. It was pretty neat but it was so damn dark inside that Dennis had to use my cell phone light to read the menu. The food was crappy...or at least what I ordered was crappy.

Shultz met up with us over there. She had driven an hour from Indiana to get to Chicago...awwww so nice. So we ate at House of Blues and walked back to the hotel. Next task - look for a place to drink a couple of beers. The concierge directed us to a place at the lower level of the hotel called The Big Downtown. Okay now if you go to a bar and you want to sit down, then you sit down. We tried that simplistic idea, however a pony-tailed snooty waiter told us, "Sir did you check at the front desk? Please check at the front desk to be seated!". And he didn't sound happy either. So we did that and then left after a couple of drinks. Shultz hung around for a while and then headed home. Tiring day! Slept at midnight...zzzz

Saturday, March 19, 2005

First Rain .. The smell of my country's lands

Let's go down Nostalgia Lane for a few minutes.

The roads were dusty back home when I was growing up. Bombay is very hot and humid. As children, we would play outside on the street. There was no respite from the heat except from June to September. That's the rainy season when it pours quite heavily and incessantly. But the best part was the arrival of the first rains right after summer when it was hot, humid and you really need respite. All of a sudden a water drop falls on your face. Then some more. Now you're rushing to open up an umbrella, if you were carrying one, or trying to seek shelter under the broken and leaky roof of a nearby store.

But something else distracts you. You notice there's this peculiar smell in the air. It's not food and it's not a man-made fragrance but it's very strong and you really like it. And then it hits you. The dust/dirt/mud on the ground soak up the fresh drops of water give out this damp fragrance of the "first rains" in return. Now you want to be outside a little bit longer just to enjoy it while it lasts. If you're home and the first rains come, you want to sit by the window and stare outside at the very same street that's been there for years. You see the same things you have been seeing everyday. People walking, cars going by, children playing and stray dogs. Yet the first rains make all these special. You notice a bit more carefully taking your own time to absorb each moment that nature's fragrance is making special for you. Each year, when the first rain showers come....the same monotony called "everyday life" seems colorful, appealing, soothing, comforting and definitely feels like home.

The strong scent of freshly moistened soil makes you want to get a really hot cup of tea and basically sit wherever you need to in order to enjoy this while it lasts. The downpour continues and slowly the scent diminishes. The land seems satisfied at the amount of water it has been given and moves on to other things. The exhileration is now passing but it was well worth it. The rains have always been special to me. They remind me of that playful boy who is now a grown man but still feels like jumping for joy whenever he detects that smell .... home or away from home.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Well work SUCKED but besides that....

God what an awful day at work. Had to deal with incompetency and for the first time I pushed back real hard and I said it's NOT okay and I won't just deal with it. I ruffled quite a few feathers but plan on continuing that spree tomorrow. Management is CC'ed all over those emails so we'll find out if they want me to do by-the-seat-of-my-pants work or something more methodic. Tomorrow is really crucial in finding out where things stand and what management truly wants me to operate in terms of how work gets done.

Other than that, attended a Microsoft event and that turned out to be a partially useful effort. So that's good. I did get a T-shirt out of it all, if that's worth mentionable. Plus some cool DVD's with development platforms etc. So I came out happy with that. Overall, the event turned out useful for me although it took away an entire afternoon's worth of work at office.

Evening comes and Noddy and myself go out to Tumbleweed. Her favorite restaurant I must say. We did well. I had one beer and she had a couple of margharitas highly diluted with all that melting ice. Food was stellar as usual. St. Patrick's Day meant that my beer was nice and green. Back after that and I went to Target to buy myself headphones because my previous set broke. I ended up getting these and am using them right now. They're AOK but that's about it. You get what you pay for. I almost bought these but decided not to. I've had bad experiences with these in-the-ear type thingies.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

A Saturday to Remember !!

This was one of the best weekends I've spent in a long time. It was productive and entertaining and eventful. That combination is always either very good or very bad for you. It was great!!

Went to Lowe's and got some supplies for the home. Being a new homeowner brings these joys and Lowe's is my second home. Some bulbs, two bags of water softener salt and an electrical receptacle were purchased and I was on my merry way. The library was my next stop where I had to deal with evil and nasty looks from the librarian because the books were 10 days late. Why do librarians look like that? They look so forlorn, ready to eat you like sushi and very upset that they are librarians. Sometimes I feel it's a government conspiracy. Maybe first time crooks and rookie criminals get punished by the federal government by making them librarians. That's a "light" punishment for them but a heavy one for the patrons of the library!!

Anyway, I escaped before the librarian could disintegrate me with her looks. Next stop, Sears, for a water filter replacement for our refrigerator. Then some work at home. Noddy was distracted twice by phone calls and other irrelevant things while she was cooking. So TWICE I had to clean the cooking range before the smoke alarm went off, because whatever she was cooking had spilled over. Not her fault but I cursed the cooking range nonetheless. You've got to curse something if it ends up being nobody's fault. We've got one of those flat top ranges, so cleaning also means scrubbing hard to make it look shiny like before.

Evening was the best part. We went to Applebee's. Noddy ordered herself a margharita and I got Michelob Lite ( I now hate that beer !! What a tasteless, bland, watered down waste of money). Now, Noddy is not a drinker. Yet this big and potent margharita got her light headed. So we had an absolute great time over there because we kept laughing at each other and at everyone else there, hoping we'd get thrown out and wouldn't have to pay the bill. We got back home to even more fun. I turned on the laptop, connected to Yahoo Launchcast audio service and we were off dancing on really good music with mood lighting. By the end of all this dancing Noddy's light headedness is gone and we're back to our quiescent state d'affaires.

Good night !! See u tomaaarow ....

Friday, March 11, 2005

Never say that again! NEVER !!

New Blog Rule: To keep myself out of trouble I shall not be mentioning work related activities here. I have been hearing more and more about people getting fired from work because they wrote stuff the company did not appreciate. Since most employment terms are "at-will" they can fire you "at-will" !!

Anyway, back to real life. I really appreciate you fellow bloggers reading my blog and trying to perk me up. The support structure helps ... definitely helps. Blogspot seems to be hosed lately. It's hard to publish posts. It's hard to post comments on other people's blogs....things just seem to be wierd on their hosting side lately. Maybe they've been hacked -- who knows.

Visited Noddy's workplace last night after gym. It's really nice. Mine is a pig-sty compared to her clean cube. Maybe that's because she's a woman but I don't think that's it. I have ample opportunities to organize my cube but never get around to it. Also the cubes in my office are dreary ... very dull grey that reminds you how menial you are in the cube world. Speaking of grey I was talking to a lady and she said her grandchild was in pre-school and they were teaching colors. She said, they were trying to teach the color grey and she found it very odd that they would teach a child a color that's not an obvious one. That's like teaching a pre-schooler what the color Magenta is. However, the pessimist that I am, I responded to her by saying, "Hey that's not a bad thing to teach especially since life is going to be of that color for the most part so he better learn to recognize it". She laughed her heart out but almost instantly I realized what an unhappy comment it was. Life is NOT grey. You can make it grey but if you want it to be brightly colored, yeah that's entirely possible. Sure there are some dark moments but it's absolutely ridiculous that I would say something that generalizes an entire lifespan like that. I've been kicking myself ever since then to change my attitude. That kind of attitude is very damaging to .... guess who.... ME! What's even more surprising is that if you meet me, there isn't going to be ONE dull moment. I love to laugh, make others laugh, joke around and basically have a great time. I love to be the life of a party simply because I am always trying to have fun. Then why did I say something like that...that's the part I'm going to work on and think about.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Looking for an upswing

Bought a smaller entertainment center. The one we had previously was gigantic and made the room look extremely full. This one is much smaller. Now the issue is, I can't fit all my entertainment systems, TV and CD/DVD collection onto this one. So I have to now go out and buy a CD/DVD tower.

Watched "The Notebook" last night. Sad, sad, very sad, depressing depressing movie. It was a bad idea to watch it before I went to bed. Stupid thoughts floating in my head while I'm trying to get some precious sleep. The movie was really good but it really killed my smile by the end of it. I'm going to try and not get affected by such stupid movie crap. I get really affected and then I'm visualizing and theorizing for a longer duration than what it took to make the damn movie.

Yesterday was quite unproductive. Didn't get much done at work. Didn't go to the gym. Didn't do
some of the housework I was supposed to do. Or maybe I'm just a pessimist and am not looking at the things that I *did* get done. Okay somebody needs to REALLY help me to get perky. This post is about as dreary as it gets. I've had a fairly miserable run of days and need to get out of this phase quick without letting myself down too much. Need to get out of this rut. I love joking around, being happy and making fun of everyone including myself. I definitely need a good stretch of enjoyment. So I'm going to find ways to do that. My mood feels like a submarine where the captain is yelling "Dive! Dive! Dive!" and it keeps sinking lower and lower into dark depths.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Very wierd stuff going on. ... help!!

After coming back from Chicago, things have been extremely wierd.

Thursday was pure frustration because I dealt with utterly clueless people at work. It is so hard for me to deal with mediocrity and people who are hard to train on something really simple. Thursday was spent dealing with such lambs and goats. I feel really really tired after dealing with such idiots - somehow they manage to drain you out by sucking out every fiber of patience you might have in your body.

Friday was the exact opposite. Things went well, everyone at work was (for some reason) seeking my oh-so-valuable advice on things that didn't even relate to me. Must be some kind of halo voodoo. So I was surprised more than twice when people asked me what I thought they should do about "blah" when "blah" did not concern me at all. In a way it's a good feeling but the way Thursday was, I wasn't handling Friday's upswing very well at all.

Saturday was very rushed. Extremely rushed. I missed two appointments and barely made it to the dinner meeting with Dr. Rea and his family. It was his Mrs. Rea's 65th birthday. They are the nicest people I've met and the entire family is great fun to be with. His website is here .

Now you see why I feel wierd? Frustrated to elated to rushed. Anyway, watched Swades. Definitely liked it. I wish the songs were missing and I wish some of the dramatization was gone. But it's definitely a very good movie to watch. Not the typical pointless Indian movie.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Post Chicago ... here I am

Back from Chicago last night. The trip was awesome. Dennis (my co-worker) and I drove up there on Sunday evening. The drive was quite adventerous and the details are boring so I'll leave it at that. The Hyatt where we stayed in Chicago was a really nice place. Much much better than those bomb-shelter like Holiday Inns around here. We had a great time.

For our meetings, we had to go a few blocks away. On Tuesday morning we got gutsy and decided to walk. That's a bad bad thing to do in Chicago in February. First of all, it was cold as hell. Secondly, it was windy enough that any amount of layered clothing would really not help unless you had 20 layers. The wind just cuts through. Dennis was sure he had lost an ear somewhere on the way while we were walking because he didn't even have a cap on. Me, I was cursing all the way. The meetings themselves were fun. There's a lot I could say here about Microsoft (since that's where we went) but I'd rather not. It's against my company policy to discuss that. I loved going back to Chicago for the big-city charm that Bombay used to have (before it became the big black smoke filled piledump). Walking down the shopping section of downtown was fun except for the windy blistery weather.

Night times were fun. We mostly went to the "Big" bar at the Hyatt. They call it Big because most cocktails there come in extremely large glasses. Apparently, it was a good place for women to pick men up or viceversa or both. There was this lady wanting to dance with everyone and somehow I ended up as the only one on the dance floor with her. So I had one dance with her before I decided that was a bad idea because she seemed desperate. After that I got off the dance floor and declined twice on the next two songs. Thankfully she just picked someone else. Next night, Dennis has this wierd looking woman come and start talking to him even though he was ignoring her. After about 45 minutes of heart to heart conversation she left. Dennis was thankful. She looked really beat up and was a chain smoker - a great put off so it wasn't hard for Dennis to ignore her and want her to go away. But we really laughed about all this crap and made fun of a lot of these morons while we were there.

No pictures sadly! The downtown area is nice and the shopping places are interesting although expensive. Other than that, the trip and the ride home were a whole lot of fun. Dennis has an incredible sense of humor and that is key to going with someone on a trip. Or else you end up bored, uncomfortable and wanting to go back all the time.

Back home now to my family of a lovely wife, two guinea pigs who fight a lot over food and the territorial Betta fish. Ah ... joy !!!