Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Our NYC trip on Memorial Day Weekend...

Alrighty, here's the lowdown on NYC. We got to New York on Friday night. Our stay was planned such that we would stay with Ami, a friend of ours who's the fiance of Smita, another friend of ours !! How convenient. Anyway, as a bonus, his parents were also there. That meant an unexpected windfall of delicious home cooked breakfast everyday. Our lunch and dinner were in the city and we never actually made it back home in time for dinner. Another couple from Dayton who are good friends of ours also planned to go to NYC. They were staying with someone else but we decided to meet up in the city.

Saturday was exploration time. Even though I had been here once before, for the first couple of hours, I was running around like a headless chicken trying to figure out which way to go. Eventually we went to see the Statue of Liberty (SOL!!) in drive-by mode. What that means is we never actually visited the island on which the SOL is located. We got into a boat that breezed past the SOL so you could take touristy pictures and brag about it to folks back in India. We then went to Wall Street and took pictures with the legendary Wall St. Bull. Also visited the WTC memorial. If you take the politics out of it, you will be extremely moved by how that many lives got wiped out and there's nothing but a gaping hole left. After that our friends headed off to Altantic City which is about a three hour ride from NYC and has beautiful casinos etc. We decided to take it light and headed off to Broadway, the mecca of the world's best performances for musicals and non-musical plays. Last time I was here I saw Phantom of the Opera. Noddy isn't much into musicals but we eventually ended up going to see Fiddler on the Roof ..another musical. Absolutely NO regrets. It is one amazing play with outstanding performances. In all, Saturday was fairly packed with Broadway, downtown NYC, SOL, WTC and Wall St all bunched into one. We got back around 1 am and Ami had to pick us up from the train station at that unearthly hour!! We really exploited his hospitality to the fullest, didn't we?

Sunday was much lighter. After another great breakfast with Ami and his parents, we headed off to the city via the railroad. We had decided we just wanted to walk around and see the city. So we did just that. We boughtsome clothes and then walked around 42nd Street / Times Square area. The city is full of life and people like us who are from other bustling cities such as Bombay, will feel very much at home. Dinner on Sunday evening was with my brother-in-law's sister who lives about 45 minutes from downtown NYC. Once again a great feast which was really a four course meal. Trust me, on this trip we were spoiled with food we couldn't have bought and eaten anywhere in the city.

Monday was time to head back home. Ami and his mom dropped us off to the airport where we hooked up with Noddy's longtime friend from Bombay. They've been really good friends for years and I've known her for quite a while too. She's now married and it was great to see the couple. We spent a couple of hours just talking and catching up in the airport lounge which definitely beats dragging our poor feet desperately sight-seeing in the city.

We've basically firmly entrenched a base in NYC with all these people we met up with after so many years. It was a great feeling to re-establish those friendships. That plus Broadway was what made the trip well worth it. Other touristy things could not be done as we had originally planned but we've fairly laid back tourists and that just wasn't fitting into our schedule. I might post more about NYC later but just wanted to get the recap done. If you haven't seen the pictures, check out the previous post for a link to the pictures.

Monday, May 30, 2005

NYC Trip was AWESOME !!!


We are baaaack !!!

New York was fun fun fun... lots to write but for now it shall suffice to just share the pictures with fellow blogggers.... All pics from NYC Memorial Day visit can be found HERE ...

Enjoy !! Tomorrow shall be a more detailed blog.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Week - End

Okay so this week wasn't as horrible at work as I had anticipated. So I think I can breathe a sigh of relief.

No blogging over the long weekend...I have to stay away from the computer and enjoy the vacation. Blogging resumes after Monday...

Enjoy and have a great weekend everyone !!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Smack!

By now you should be able to tell that I totally suck at having good titles on my blog posts. I come up with crap that is ... well... crap.


Okay so here's the question for Americans ... why is it illegal(is it?) for parents or teachers to smack their children to discipline them? Did some parents set a bad example by going out of their way to hire the mafia to discipline their child? Maybe that might be it. But I don't get it. You can't hit your OWN children to discipline them.


In India, disciplining children by hitting them was the norm. And look at us ... we haven't turned out any worse than American kids. We probably have the same ratio of good, bad and ugly as Americans do. So why the laws protecting a child against getting disciplined by parents. I'm not saying that I'm all for it - I'd probably have a very hard time getting myself to discipline my child that way. But all I'm asking is, why is there legal protection against that? My mom hit me occasionally when I was a kid and I definitely deserved it for being such a pain in the behind. Of course she didn't hit me whenever she felt like it....she hit me whenever I needed to be hit and I'm fully convinced that it was for the right things.


I am not against laws preventing physical abuse of children. For example, I'd hate to see a father hanging his son upside down from a tree branch to make sure he understands not to talk at the dinner table. Overkill (no pun intended!) like that should be punishable. But if a mom smacks a child across his face because he's spitting at some other kid or just being an antisocial rodent, well he deserved what he got. Nice kids don't get smacking. Little girls don't get smacking...period! They're too cute. Little boys ...that's a different story.


In conclusion...I think children need disciplined with the occasional smack and there should be laws preventing over-smacking where the child looks like he was in a 12 round boxing bout the other night. But most parents don't go to that extent. Most parents and teachers try to smack kids to get something right in that pea brain that kids own. I've been there ... I've been a pea brain ... I know!!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Weekend Wrap up

The week was hideously busy, however I expected it to be so. Therefore, no surprises there. Friday is such a different feeling. When we were at the University studying for our Masters program, we had classes Mon-Thursday evenings. So we would go from 4 pm to say 8 pm on a few days or from 4 pm to 6 pm on others. That's it!! It was a lot of work after those class hours but at least it was on our own time. We never had to BE somewhere from 9 to 5. Work changed it all. Weekends became precious commodities that are always wanted so badly.

Friday night (well actually Saturday morning) I didn't go to bed until 4 am. I got hungry at about 1 am so I went to Taco Bell to get some cheap Mexican food. Worked out good. Saturday was all about lazing around. I finished up all the laundry and then we headed off to the mall for browsing around. I watched Road Trip (previously watched). It's AOK, I think I've grown too old to enjoy that. Yikes!


We slept at 4 am on Sunday morning because we watched two movies back to back starting around midnight - Racing Stripes and Finding Neverland, both excellent movies that are soon to be added to our collection. After getting up near noon-time, Sunday was a lot of work. I started off by changing Mars and Oreo's bedding and cleaning out their enclosure. Then I cleaned out Spunky's water bowl. After that it was off to Home Depot for some home improvement things - a shovel, some flower disease control spray and a Scotts' lawn fertilizer spray that guarantees a greener lawn in 24 hours. Yay for stuff that claims to work so fast. Our backyard looks good but our frontyard could use some help. It's not horrible but definitely has brown patches I'd like to get rid of. After that Noddy and I were off to a park where the city of Kettering had dumped free mulch and compost for Kettering residents or taxpayers. Since we fall into the latter category...we picked up lots of mulch for our front yard. Noddy and I spent the entire afternoon trying to set things straight in the yard. It was a whole lot of fun but tiring. I really like how the yard looks now.


BTW, within this week I shall post pictures of my front yard (sodded by the home builders) and the backyard (seeded by Noddy and me). You will see that both areas still need work but are coming up fairly decently.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Who watches this? I'm sure lots of people do

Some of the TV shows make me wonder about the intellect (or the lack of it) within the common population (which includes people like me). Here's my top five trashy list:

American Idol:

On this we want to pick a singing and dancing dude or dame as our American Idol. He or she's our idol because we voted on their abilities to sing on stage and dance away. That's pretty much what you need to be able to do in order to get idolized. Wait ... American Idol is the politically correct name. The real name of the show was "Incompetent Jobless Winner from the Mentally Challenged Masses". Producers didn't like that name very much. The mentally challenged masses wouldn't accept the show. American Idol sounds way better. Good choice!


Survivor:

Continuing the American tradition, we're going to generate more fictitious jobs since the real ones are going overseas. In this show, ten or so idiots happily eat bugs, trees or even each other's brains in order to show their ability to survive. Umm.. never mind the fact that there's really no practical implication of what they're doing but hey it's a million bucks at stake. Why bother doing something useful for mankind when you could be on TV being mean to your fellow humans and plotting to vote them off the planet. Sounds very character building..... The real name of the show is "I've got nothing better to do so I better go back to being a prehistoric ape living in the jungle". Again, the show's target audience wouldn't be able to keep up with the long name there. Good choice of name once more!


The Apprentice:


Ah ... more jobs. This economy just keeps generating jobs out of thin air. How brilliant is that. So on this show, we're going to pick out the nastiest, meanest and most cunning person and reward them for having those noble attributes. Also, they will be employed at a very high position in a corporate environment so that they can lead others to be like them - cooperative, team-spirited and of course looking out for the well-being of others. On the other hand, if I had the kind of money that Donald Trump has, maybe I would've done the same --- uhh...no not really. Can you ever imagine Bill Gates having a show where you should push and shove each other off the cliff until only one software developer is standing. Nope...he's educated. Oh wait -- educated people aren't sellable spicy TV stuff.


Jerry Springer Show:


Really not much to say here except that the name "TV Show for losers of Survivor and Apprentice" wasn't selling very well. So they called it Jerry Springer show.


So here's the bottomline:


Can you sing or dance at all? No? Oooooh too bad .. we could've put you on American Idol where people would idolize you for having a voice or synchronized feet. Brain matter isn't a pre-requisite. All you need is one music album anyway.


Can you be mean to others and climb up the ladder real quick (within weeks) at the cost of others? No ? Well that sucks cos you could've been on Survivor and if you didn't want to be naked, then we could've put you on Apperentice.


Can you at least fight with your own family members and be mean to them publicly so you can be on Jerry Springer? What? No ? Well what good are you then? Go back to your desk job ... loser!!!


So you see, for people with more than three neurons, it might be worthwhile to distinguish themselves from the other "survivors" or "apparentices" that are hoping to someday be "american idols". I'm so glad I got an education and actually do something respectable that doesn't involve morons voting on my cha-cha. Ah the peace of mind!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Top 5 Things I wish I had never done...

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Okay ... here's the thing. I'm trying to cancel my already confirmed ticket to Hell and I'm hoping that I can at least get on the wait-list to Heaven when my name pops up in God's Microsoft Outlook calendar schedule. So the first thing to do is admit your sins. Here we go...

TOP 5 THINGS I WISH I HAD NEVER DONE:

1) Too Fast Too Stupid?

While in India, I once pitted myself (driving a car) against a motorbike rider. I drove for about 10 minutes like a madman, taking sharp turns in front of buses, skidding onto sidewalks. It was 11 pm but there was enough traffic to make this a really stupid idea. So you're thinking --- hmm...that sounds kinda cool and exciting. Well it's not if you've got your MOM in the same car with you. More than the fact that she gave me an earful, I hated myself for not only jeopardizing my life but more importantly jeopardizing hers as well. If I wanted to be stupid, I should've gone ahead and been stupid by myself. No need to take such a kind and loving person with me on my ride to death.


2) Cheat and you shall receive?

Yep...done that. I've cheated in some exams. I wish I had never done that.... especially since I know I'm capable of doing it the right way. Where I stand today in life is because of my abilities and not my exam scores. So in theory, if I am able to sustain a successful career, there must be something worthwhile in this head of mine. And if that's the case...WHY CHEAT in exams!! Bad Bad Bad thing to do. There's a lot of academic pressure in India to succeed. Trust me, the American education system is like a honeymoon to us Indians who've come out spending 22 years in India getting educated. But that's not an excuse to cheat.


3) They're not friends...it's a mirage !!

There was a time in my life when I had given up everything ... everything including my ability to think clearly and life normally. I had given all this up for friends who really didn't care that much for me anyway. It was a completely imbalanced friendship and by the time I was done being friends with them, I was filled with nothing but regret and remorse for wasting that much time and giving up that much. Now, when you've got lots of regret and remorse... you should either drink yourself to death (which I didn't do) or be patient and let things just settle down (which is what I did). It took years for me to learn to respect myself again. It has been uphill from there...life is good and I love it.


4) Screwed up my Grade 12!!

Okay so if I hadn't gotten a miserable and wretched score in my Grade 12 in Bombay, I would not have had to spend 4 years commuting 2 hours each way by train everyday to go to this back-of-the-beyond Engineering college just because my grades weren't good enough for main-town colleges. Those are 4 very forgettable years of my life academically. I really really wish I had gone to a better undergrad school. The flipside to that is that I met Noddy there. She's an academic ace but she ended up in that college because she had just moved to Bombay and admissions were already over elsewhere etc.etc.etc. In any case, I do have that to thank my stars for. I met her, we dated, we came here, we studied more, we got married and I haven't regretted any of that even the slightest. But yeah I do wish it was a better undergrad school. Nevertheless, my fault there for messing up my grades when they mattered the most.

5) Take her advice three times a day

Okay so I guess every teenager is guilty of this. And now I look back and think of the words of advice that mom used to give when I was a teenager. It was a perennial struggle. I refused to listen to her and she refused to give up. After all these years, in retrospect, she was right most of the times. Maybe it's a "dumb teenager" phase that everyone goes through...or maybe it was just me. In any case, I do regret the heartburn that I caused her as a kid. She's obviously forgiving enough like any mom is and she brushes it off with , "Ah don't worry about it. Every child is like that!". I won't say that things in my life would be much different had I listened to her. No, I think I still would have ended up where I am. It has nothing to do with that. It's just that all that time I could have enjoyed with her, I spent locked up in my room and ignoring her just so that she wouldn't try to help me. How silly is that??? Mothers are meant to help and give advice. That is part of their job description. I guess the perk to their job is that their kids listen and pay heed. My mom obviously didn't get that perk most of the time. That's my regret. Love you Mom !!!

The Mayonnaise Jar and the Coffee

One of my friends forwarded this to me ... so credit goes to whoever wrote this..NOT ME ... :

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar . . . and the coffee.

A professor stood before his Philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, " I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life."

"The golf balls are the important things - your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favourite passions - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."

"The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car."

"The sand is everything else-the small stuff."

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life." "If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness."

"Play with your children."

"Take time to get medical checkups."

"Take your partner out to dinner."

"Play another 18."

"There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal."

"Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter."

"Set your priorities." "The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked". "It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Trip to India

In about six months (sometime in December) we're trying to get a trip to India planned out. It's going to be Noddy, myself, her brother and her sis-in-law. They're pretty much the same age as us and as much fun. So it'll be great if we can all go together. I've got to call my sister in Australia and make sure she isn't planning something of her own that will conflict with this trip of ours.


Excluding food items, I need the following from there:

1) Music CDs
2) Video CDs , DVDs
3) Cotton shirts (maybe - this is getting cheaper and cheaper here in the US)
4) Lots of teeny tiny Indian artifacts that I can distribute around
5) A 6" marble replica of the Taj Mahal
6) Maybe some software and some computer parts (I've heard they're cheaper there)
7) Cricket 2005 - the game. Sad part about this is my PC's graphics card is too old to support this. I can barely play Cricket 2004
8) Some cricket stuff such as arm guards, some extra bails, balls etc.
9) Some Indian clothes for some guys at work who liked traditional stuff I wore.


Blogger peeps, if you have a wishlist post here. Noddy and I are allowed two big suitcases each during international travel. Plus whatever you carry as hand baggage. Trust me we can fit quite a bit. Put your wishlist here and then we'll get what we can.

Anyone need anything? Hey Archana, I can ship your stuff to you in UK ... no worries. Even though you've just come back from India, if there's something you missed out on , let me know.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Just so you know where I stand....

Religion:

I don't particularly care for religions (including mine). My friends include believers and non-believers. I don't consider someone backward if they believe in a particular religion and I don't consider someone progressive if they're non-believers either. Religion to me is an attribute that someone chooses to have. I do however discourage people from letting religion come in the way of rational judgements. For the record, I do go to the temple and do believe in talking to someone inside me. Call it what you want. If you believe there's one God and yours is the chosen One - good for you and I'm happy for you.

Politics:

First and foremost, I have no voting rights in this country. So Democrats can't hate me for electing Bush. For those who really care - I think Bush has done some pretty stupid stuff but I heard all three debates and almost every speech that Kerry gave on TV. My problem was this - with Bush I could tell he's ignorant. With Kerry - I can't ... he was too artificial and I couldn't see enough to feel comfortable. Edwards was just a bad choice for VP. He reminded me of the used car salesman at the local dealership here. So in either case ....sorry I didn't vote them in or vote them out so you can't hold that against me.

Gay/Lesbians:

Yeah no problems here either. Feel free to choose your own partner. However, I would highly discourage my kids to go that route simply because of the practical implications that it has on relationships and family. This has nothing to do with moral values. I think quite a few people in this country have a long way to go in terms of moral values before they even get to being gay or lesbian. If I had a gay friend ... well so be it. I wouldn't be his friend because it's fashionable to have a gay friend and I wouldn't not be his friend just because he's gay.

Immigration:

America has two choices - close the doors on immigrants or open them. With Mexico and Canada as borders, it's rather hard to do that. I can understand if you had Russia up North and China on the South. Yeah then I would probably have a 10 foot wall with electric fences and day-night monitoring. But trust me ... a few Canadians here and there won't make a difference. If you're so concerned about Mexican immigration, I suggest you take over that country quietly overnight. It's smaller than Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover it won't be too hard and you will find very few Mexicans against that idea anyway. They'll be happy if you don't make them cross the border illegally and instead the border legally crosses them.

Outsourcing:

So if you're thinking that India, China and Philippines are the axis of economic evil and are conspiring to take your jobs away, you're a little off the target. Actually ... your companies are the ones who are sending those jobs there. Think about it for a minute. Do you actually believe that companies from those three countries come here and BULLY corporate giants like Intel, IBM, Microsoft and others to send jobs there. Nope. Plain truth is they're doing it because it's cheaper. Why is it cheaper? Because labor is cheaper. Why is labor cheaper? Because we got too many people willing to work and are without work. Labor markets are always based on demand/supply. If you had 100 million Americans out of work, labor would be pretty cheap here pretty quick as well. So it's basically a matter of economics. Companies from expensive labor countries are outsourcing to companies of cheap labor countries. Trust me - it's for the better. With back-office and call-center type jobs out there , you can do something more respectable here.


Sorry if I scare a few blogger friends away....I just wanted to go on the record on some cornerstones of my thought process.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Pictures from OuterBanks....


Outerbank pics

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Accurate ... but highly stupid answer

Friday evening, we go to Marion's Piazza for ...what else?

The place is crowded and noisily full of teens, most of them dressed in a baseball outfit of some school team. Then there's the crew that accompanies every kid to the game - the mother, the sister, an annoying crying and drooling little brother and the mini-van. It felt like a shelter house for a brief moment before I realized that I was going to pay for food here and I wanted to eat what they were serving. Those were key differentiating factors obviously.

Anyway, Noddy and I ended up gettting a pizza and a drink. Half way through our delicious and hot meal, I realized that the drink was empty. Now, if we're eating at a place where I'm not sure about free refills on drinks, I always go and ask before heading to the counter and demanding a refill. And here's that conversation:

Me: Umm..excuse me.

Uniformed crew member with large tray full of ice: (Says nothing , ignores me).

Me: (Waiting for him to do the needful with all that ice and then..) Hi ... do you guys provide free refills on drinks. I've got a coke and needed a refill.

Uniformed crew member: (extremely cheerfully and in a warm tone) Sure we do Sir. No problem. The only thing is we will charge you full price, like as if you were buying another drink.

Me: (Too dumbfounded to say anything other than..) Thank you. (and then I walk away).


Now which part of this conversation was too difficult for him to understand. If you provide me free refills and you charge me as much as another drink, then maybe you do a little jig and dance a bit near the table before I get the refill. I don't know. It could also be that I might get a 10% discount coupon for my next meal just for reusing my drink glass and doing my bit to save the environment. I'm desperately trying to come up with reasons why a restaurant might want to instruct their waiters to say that to customers. I am also desperately trying to come up with reasons as to why the waiters wouldn't question the logic behind such a business choice.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I don't have a title for this one

Will has rightly advised me to try and be careful about blogging work related stuff here. I appreciate your advice Will. You will find that the previous post has now disappeared. Sometimes I really need a let-out and it's sad that companies are now invading into a personal expression space such as one's personal blog to see if there are any anti-corporate statements there which could be used for terminating his or her career. Sad- but nevertheless - true.

Anyway, yesterday I had the dreaded employee review for 2004 . I have lots to say but I won't say. What I have to say can get me fired so why bother. I'll pick another avenue to vent whatever I feel like. The less said about it, the better.

We watched "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events". The movie is quite offbeat and definitely reminded me of "Big Fish" .... a pure fantasyland movie where you have to go with the flow and the imagination to enjoy it. I think it was good but I don't know if I'd put it in my favorites section. Definitely well made - I really liked the sets and the special effects. The little girl was the cutest doll and very adorable. I probably would have hugged her 50 times a day if I was on the set of that movie. I love chubby kids ... umm... maybe because I was one too.

By the way, there is a charity cricket match for Tsunami victims at Lords in England. Damn ... I looked at the teams lineup and it's just breathtaking. Check out the team line-up here . I couldn't help notice how clever the organizers have been about this. The MCC team has an impressive and very formidable bowling line-up but a so-so batting order. On the other hand, International XI has one of the best batting line-ups that a selector can ask for, but the bowling does not come to the same par as MCC. This is going to be an exciting match.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Shrek 3 - Donkey's Revenge

That's not the REAL title but I did find out this morning that there's going to be a Shrek 3. I hope these guys aren't pushing their luck. Shrek 2 was great but they will have to do something really outstanding in the sequel to that because people are now being able to predict Donkey's humor and Shrek's out-of-place expressions.


Fingers crossed until 2007 which is the official release date as of right now.

Oddly enough, Justin Timberlake is going to be doing the voice of King Arthur, a new character that is being introduced. I find it not coincidental that he's a voice in Shrek 3 AND he's Cameron Diaz's boyfriend. She's been pulling some strings with the casting crew I suppose.

More info here and here