Monday, December 30, 2002
If a great breakfast wasn't enough, how about an impromptu afternoon with the Lallys? (not to be confused with the Osbournes!)
I thoroughly enjoyed my first pro football game of the year thru one eye & a cute two year old thru my other eye.
Sunday, December 29, 2002
Mmmmm, angio-breakfast at Sullivan's Char-Broil: 2 eggs, sausage patty, cheese on a big roll with deep-fried home fries topped with spicy meat sauce. Great, black coffee & the Sunday newspaper. Where's my Lipitor?
Friday, December 27, 2002
**sniff** The turkey is gone. Between the 11 of us here at my brother's house & innumerable visitors, I made the final turkey sandwich (Hellmann's, not Miracle Whip). Thank goodness there's still a little bit of stuffing. And caramel popcorn ;^)
The youngsters have all gone to the movies ("LOTR"). My father (the retired coach) & I are finally getting to see a football game on the tube. Becks beer (& caramel popcorn).
26F outside, so I borrowed jacket & gloves for a trip to Macy's department store as sister-in-law from Oregon wanted to do a gift return. I picked extra RAM at Circuit City for my brother's HP Pavilion. I have to give credit to HP's website & its Search Engine for focusing directly to my query. Dog Bless America: 256MB RAM, PC133, for $19.95
Thursday, December 26, 2002
8AM and nothing is stirring in the house, not even a mouse. Snow is everywhere. Where's the LubriDerm lotion for dry skin?
Happy Kwanzaa (thru 01 JAN).
This cultural celebration was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 during the Black Freedom Movement. At the time, Professor Karenga was at California State University, Long Beach, and the Los Angeles area was recovering from the 1965 race riots. The good Doctor also hosts the Official Kwanzaa Website.
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Season's Greetings from Boston. It's chilly at 4C and while the ground is clear, it's just beginning to snow ever so slightly. At 8:30AM, the rest of the house is just beginning to wake up (I'm on India time, it's 7PM). The parents are here from Florida & my middle brother with his family from Oregon.
Monday, December 23, 2002
With apologies to Kevin Costner: "Open it and he will come."
Sunday, December 22, 2002
Our "Haytch Pea" Blue Team here at the India Call Center pleasantly surprised everyone today with excellent spirit & decorations to celebrate the Christian Holiday. Good show!
Dr. Sendhil, the physical therapist/masseur, stopped by my flat yesterday to wish Season's Greetings. It is still very difficult for me to have younger Indians bend down to touch my feet in respect of the elder. It first happened on Diwali (04 NOV, Festival of Lights) & I was slightly embarassed. I was also confused because if you accidently touch someone with your foot, it's considered disrespectful (and you make a sign of blessing to indicate otherwise). Live & learn, in fact, friends in the U.S. should start practicing for the next time they see this ol' boy ;^)
Are we in the wrong country at the wrong time? The news service Reuters posts Germany awash with cheap beer while here in India: wir haben kein Beck's mehr (German for "we have no Becks beer"), my favorite. German retailers have sloshed prices to empty the shelves before a huge recycling surcharge takes effect in January. This is a win-win situation for the proles & our environment. I stand in solidarity with the Huns & then head straight (almost) for the fridge to get a ceremonial ICB (Ice Cold Beer).
Side note: "Germans drink on average a third of a litre of beer a day each." That translates to 11 ounces, less than one standard beer per day, and I'm not impressed.
Friday, December 20, 2002
What's that noise?
Oh, that's people falling over from the idea of France supporting the U.S., to wit:
"...the French and others who in the past fought against the Bush administration’s hard line on Baghdad also weighed in with dissatisfaction over Iraq’s arms declaration, suggesting that the United States was gaining international support for a war." (complete story)
No, what's that other noise, that clicking?
Hmmm, might be the sights adjusting for elevation & windage.
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
I answered my door at 5AM expecting my driver & instead found some character wearing a balaclava (and we're not talking Zorba the Greek covered in phyllo dough, honey, walnuts, etc., as that's baklava). I quickly stepped aside, expecting a 3-round burst, but the ubiquitous saar (sir) with snappy salute was a give-away. Apparently the Master of India's Roadways was cold on this 22C/72F morning & the ski mask also provides mosquito protection.
Indian HBO ads for "Shrek" and "AI (Artificial Intelligence)" have the special disclaimer "not available in the Middle East". I wonder if this has to do with legal distribution rights or, even more intriguing, some socio/theo outlook that applies to our Brothers (and Sisters) of the Sand. Does Shrek as an ogre represent evil, perhaps a devil? Is the humanizing of Shrek's animal friends an affront to H. Sapiens & some God? Would Mullahs see the engineered being in "AI" as a similar blasphemy? Don't be shy, anyone can answer these questions on the BlabberBoard to the left.
So I was re-watching Peggy Sue Got Married from 1986 featuring a young Kathleen Turner, Nicholas Cage, Helen Hunt, and even Jim Carey. One of Peggy Sue's suitors is the would-be writer Michael Fitzsimmons, played by Kevin J. O'Connor, and something about his voice gnawed at me. Choppy, whiny...it took me a few minutes. Remember Beni, the weasel of a side kick to the 1999 version of "The Mummy", opposite Brendan Fraser? For his voice, click here.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
OK, gentle readers, are your immunizations up-to-date? Are your body functions in good working order? Are you resistant to the nasties that float around? Current vaccinations, often a good idea, have little to do with the likes of 2800 year old cyanobacterium being defrosted from the depths of the Antarctic's Lake Vida. We're talking some wierd shit that lives in an environment 7 times saltier than the ocean. Imagine what this ancient revival might do to your sensitive tum-tum. Imagine this grand daddy of microbes wrecking havoc with modern immuno-deficiencies like AIDS. Imagine the world-wide flu pandemic of 1918 killing 30 million people, more than WW1.
Now that your imagination is temporarily stronger than knowledge, let me say that I'm all in favor of science & the progress of this matter. Besides, a little web search tells us cyanobacterium is a good thing! (Got ya)
Monday, December 16, 2002
Storyteller's Creed or Plogger's Premise:
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
That myth is more potent than history.
That dreams are more powerful than facts.
That hope always triumphs over experience.
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.
credit: made up by friend of Robert Fulgham, but shared by co-worker Anoop (who is heading to Digital in Bangalore. Good Luck!)
I got to thinking about secret beaches: I've had a few. During my years at the Bitter End Yacht Club, British Virgin Islands, we all had boats & hidden coves were just around the corner. While St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands is probably 30 times more crowded than the BVI, I spent a year there frequenting two secluded spots with no crowds or tourists. They were clean, quiet, and you could work on that all-over tan without any hassles. For the final year that I lived on the one acre paradise Saba Rock, British Virgin Islands, I only had to walk out my front door. Oh Peter Pan, you've flown too close to the sun and it feels like a downward glide. The secrets are safe.
Sunday, December 15, 2002
Everyone should have a secret beach & the Madras Bulls rode out to theirs on Saturday afternoon. I'd tell you where it is, but that's on a need-to-know basis & you don't need to know. The sunset was great & we stopped at a dhaba (snack shack) on the way back: chai (tea) and veg samosas (deep fried, egg-roll-like treat).
Thursday, December 12, 2002
Bambi & the Easter Bunny were eaten a long time ago!
For all you kids out there, I just had to steal the left pic from page st.
Our company now provides Pepsi service on the Call Center work floor. It's inexpensive at Rs.7 per 175ml cup, but first you must wake the Beast. Not a lot gets sold as there's also free coffee & tea, but in this labor intensive market, the valued product must be protected.
Yemen/Scud update: the next time you're voting, remember that it was U.S. Vice President Cheney & Secretary of State Powell who accepted "assurances" from Yemen President Ali Abdallah Salih and allowed continued delivery of the missiles. Assurances that the Scuds not on the ship's manifest & hidden under bags of cement were "no prob-lem-o". Assurances after Yemen apologized for buying North Korean Scud parts this past August & then assuring that they would not do so again.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
The Spanish have stepped up: their frigate Navarra in the Arabian Sea had the courage to fire across the bow & stop the North Korean vessel So San bound for Yemen with 15 Scud missiles. Remember Yemen? Site of the USS Cole bombing.
Flipping thru Indian cable TV (where channels change without warning):
1: Infomercial for yet another miracle ab-buster. It's the same Anglo, would-be actors from U.S. infomercials, but now dubbed in Hindi. These characters are the beautiful people and need no exercise. Indians, however, would never expose so much flesh & the devices represent their salary for a year.
42: Nickelodeon - When did Broadway Joe Nameth get relegated to kid's programs? I think he was wearing a rug, but looked trim for his age. He wore a #12 football jersey just in case we forgot him. The highlite of the piece was an Etch-a-Sketch artist doing Joe's image.
45: Ten Sports (Australian) - 3 babes in spandex doing the aerobics class. The leader has the credentials AND a sexy voice. One of the assistants is usually quite busty. There are an equal number of tight camera shots below the waist. Why don't they just call it for what it is? In India, it's porn ;^)
65: FashionTV - 2nd tier, Euro trash on runways. For Indians, it's Porn2 (like HBO1, HBO2, etc.)
Credit, where credit is finally due: Sify.com was early and finished my broadband installation. We had the usual Account Setup challenges where the installer kept telling me that my UserName of choice was already taken. I smiled in memory of my previous debacle with Sify installers and said that I knew the bastard stealing my UserName. I then showed him how to log on with my existing (and identical) Sify UserName. SpeedTest.com rates the connection at 98.3kbps (vs. dial-up at 12-22kbps & the work WAN at 460kbps).
The Lord of Linwood has wisely suggested additional bike wear when riding in Chennai, India (or any urban area).
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Getting Sify.com to install broadband into my flat is painful (and expensive when I have to leave work):
0. The original paper advertising Sify's service contained the contacts of 98402-63559 D.N. Sendilkumar & 98410-12608 Mr. Ramesh. Both numbers were inoperative.
1. Saturday, 2 weeks ago, was wasted waiting for Sendhil, Sify's specialist (at no-show, no call).
2. This past Saturday was a repeat performance (lack there of), i.e. no-show, no call.
3. Last night the contractor was hours late and managed to only pull one cable with his 2 helpers before disappearing "to the roof" for another hour. They didn't finish as promised.
4. Tonight, the contractor was 1 1/2 hours late when I had to call Sify to learn that the contractor would be delayed an additional 3 hours (to eventually become a no-show). At 4 1/2 hours past due, a Sify engineer & associate arrived. After another 1 1/2 hours, they crimped one RJ-45 cable end before they discovered missing switches on the roof. They did not finish as promised.
5. Someone will be back tomorrow...maybe...and someday, I'll be expected to pay Sify Rs. 3000 for this criminal "installation".
All this & my browsing speed may be doubled to a whopping 90Kbps. Sify wonders why only one flat in our building of 40 units is wired and why there are only 20 other buildings like ours in the entire city of nearly 7 million people.
Sunday, December 08, 2002
I spent another weekend trapped in my flat without transportation. I shouldn't say trapped because I eventually walked thru the rain, up to the main road & haggled with the autorickshaw drivers. They LOVE to see a foreigner approaching: first, there's the aloof disdain, the look-away, the old "if you interrupt my chit-chat with fellow rick drivers, it's gonna cost you more". That quickly evolves into the uber-respect: "Boss, boss! Anywhere you wanna go, I drive". I say the destination, they respond with an outrageous fare, I start to walk to the next rick, the driver chases after me. I actually had to walk about 50m. yesterday...I think of it as exercise, but for a minute, I thought the band of thieves got their collective act co-ordinated. I supported a good chunk of India's GNP this weekend by ricking it everywhere. On Saturday night, after 9 months & 600 employees, 4 stellar co-workers ricked with me for steaks, beers & singing American Top 40 with a Goan guitar player at the Dutchess hotel (restaurant). I ricked again to Sunday breakfast tea (vintage Daarjeeling), followed by another 3-wheeler for food/beer shopping and yet another for late lunch at "Jus' Parathas", a hotel that just makes parathas (thick, stuffed crepes). My ingredients of choice were gobi (cauliflower) & palak (greens). The ricks are open to the great outdoors & after such a circuitous day, I was ready to get home, degrease from following other 2-strokers & wash the Chennai pollution down the shower drain. (I wonder what is the life span or respiratory condition for a rick driver?)
When I was really "trapped", I cleaned: laundry, dusted (including fan blades), wiped corners & sills for cobwebs, mopped, changed linen, etc. Is there a worse job than wiping grimy ceiling & exhaust fan blades? The only redeeming factor is that the ultrafine, dusty crap is no longer being spun thru the air.
Thursday, December 05, 2002
At 1PM yesterday, in the middle of a meeting, I got a call from my block manager as BSNL/Chennai Telephone was at the front door of my flat for repairs that have been 2 months overdue. Both the phone company & the manager had my mobile number...too bad they couldn't call ahead of time to arrange something (even the 20 minutes it took me to rush home). As I suspected, they found a wiring fault 10 meters outside of my flat, near an elevator shaft. Once repaired, the hum went out of my line, modem speed doubled to 45Kbps, and even my intercom started working again. Some things in India work just as they do in the U.S., i.e. the phone company left a pile of wiring snippets on my living room floor.
Regardless of faster modem speeds, I'm into Day 3 of nearly non-existant U.S. routing. That's right, I can browse India, but not de mudderland. My local ISP (sify.com) uses an Asia-Pacific route once called reach.com, now referred to as scum. Busted:
Tracing route to lw3fd.law3.hotmail.msn.com [220.127.116.11] over a maximum of 30 hops:
1 140 ms 141 ms 140 ms lan-202-144-64-11.maa.sify.net [18.104.22.168]
2 140 ms 141 ms 140 ms lan-202-144-64-1.maa.sify.net [22.214.171.124]
3 140 ms 141 ms 130 ms lan-202-144-64-6.maa.sify.net [126.96.36.199]
4 161 ms 170 ms 170 ms lan-202-144-32-54.maa.sify.net [188.8.131.52]
5 191 ms 220 ms 170 ms lan-202-144-83-10.maa.sify.net [184.108.40.206]
6 450 ms 421 ms 431 ms 220.127.116.11
7 441 ms 450 ms 571 ms i-15-1.wil-core01.net.reach.com [18.104.22.168]
8 471 ms 561 ms 530 ms i-0-0.paix-core01.net.reach.com [22.214.171.124]
9 791 ms 671 ms 611 ms i-6-0.sjc-core01.net.reach.com [126.96.36.199]
10 * * * Request timed out.
11 * * * Request timed out.
And kudos to you brain sturgeons who understand that I'm Plogging from my 9th floor view of the Indian Ocean aka the 4-1 (maybe the 9-5 for you).
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
After 6 weeks of monsoons, our beloved Chief Minister, Jayalalitha aka Amma (Mother) declared Chennai's roads to be repaired. On my way home from work yesterday afternoon, I was fascinated to see freshly painted lanes at the intersection of Greenways Road near Ministry housing. I was equally impressed with Stop Lines & Pedestrian Crossings. Let's hope the quality of paint lasts & that the police enforce.
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Surprise, sify.com has been a no-show since they said they were coming on Saturday re: cable modem..
BSNL/Chennai Telephone came to my flat a month ago as amateur audiologists & confirmed my hearing ability, i.e. yes, there's a hum in my phone line, noise responsible for my slow 24Kbps modem connections. BSNL has since disappeared, but suddenly called me at 8PM on a Sunday night (go figure). Speaking in Tamil, they wanted to know my phone number. I suggested that they just called it. You could hear the "whooosh" as their hair parted overhead. They asked for my name, I gave it & asked for theirs, but they said it was against the rules. I wanted to ask if they observed "the rules" while driving like banshees thru the streets of India, but I simply asked them for verification that they weren't marketers. They gave me a call back number, I called them back & that's where it ended ... for now. No apparent action was taken from the phone call other than testing my patience & ability to remember my own phone number/name. I wonder if I "passed" the test as I'm still waiting for ANY kind of follow-up.
Coming to work this morning, I noticed a sign that I've been meaning to share with faithful readers for some time. It reads: Pasteur Lepto Clinic. Farmer Dave, aka Treg, may recognize this infectious bacterial disease passed from India's many cattle to people. On Nerd TV (The Learning Channel), I've seen cow urine used as part of a religious person's daily ablution (items 19 & 20). Other cultures call that kinky.