Friday, February 28, 2003
Off to a good start...
I had an astrologer friend tell me several times that on our birthday, the beginning of our annual cycle, we're much stronger & in positive touch with life. The opposite was also reinforced regarding the end of our birth year. I'll take the liberty of extrapolating to one of the biggest, most consuming forces in life: our jobs, our employment. I just finished the first day of the work year and feel good. I was rested, prepared, and the ride to the office on my Bullet was less conjested than usual. People, including the boss, were glad to see me after only eight days absence. Friends became friendlier by inviting me to their flat for tomorrow's big cricket match on TV: World Cup 2003, India vs. Pakistan. I caught up on all my email before I went to the office, so tasks-at-hand continued smoothly. Dinner was good: they ran out of curd rice, but I enjoyed the saffron rice & chutney. When I rode home at 2:30AM, the streets were clear & safe. Now, if I only had some beer at home ;^)
Thursday, February 27, 2003
Back home in Chennai, India
I had to immediately air out the flat & do some laundry after a week of traveling. After 30 hours of flying in hellacious Economy, I couldn't keep my eyes open & succumbed to a nap that lasted until the witching hour. Most nights, at approximately 6PM, juvenile neighbors with pitiful Napoleonic complexes attempt to exert some pseudo-upper-caste superiority over each other by progressively shouting louder than the next moron. You'd think that parents would control their ilk, but these so-called adults have left their child's care & development to maids. These servants are typically children themselves, taken from some native place. Socially, they are not in any position to discipline their master's children. The maids appear to be nothing more than companions.
And for faithful readers, it's also my Blog-iversary
Attention, road-warriors, ATTENTION: Ellen W is Sweet 16 today & getting her learner's permit to drive.
Sunrise in Mumbai... about 17hrs later ;^)
The 29C temp & corsu (mosquitos) are back. The touts were hustling sleeping rooms near the domestic airport for Rs.1500-2000. I stayed where I have stayed before for Rs.950, but had to call for the water pump to be turned on. I quickly caught the end of India's cricket team beating England in a World Cup semi. National pride is up & will peak with the 01 MAR match against the enemy Pakistan
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Sunrise in Amsterdam...
and the weather doesn't seem as cold as New Years. Come April & May, this place will be covered with acres & acres of crocus, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, etc.
Monday, February 24, 2003
MadBulls & english speaking men...
Sunday, February 23, 2003
Can a CGI character be eligible for an Oscar?
I saw the cinematic answer in last summer's film, Simone. I remember that the character (Sim One) was not only eligible, but the beauty of bits & bytes (alliteration taught by my mother) tied for "Best Actress" in two separate films. It's refreshing that the judges could be so tolerant of the hypothesis.
Suresh in U.S.
Much as I'm a vellakaaran (white boy) in India, Suresh is an Indian co-worker assigned to our Rochester, NY office. While I'm visiting the U.S., I can look after Suresh more so than the others I've asked to do the same in my absence. Thursday, there was a small office gathering where I introduced Suresh to a cross-section of Call Center professionals. As a bonus, there were some ex-employees kind enough to visit & several varieties of chicken wings (I had previously checked that Suresh eats non-veg). I think Suresh is getting the idea that American women can be very personable & dress attractively. Last night, I picked up Suresh & took him to his first, professional ice hockey game. We had a real treat of sitting in the company's luxurious skybox as the AHL Rochester Amerks defeated the Cleveland, Ohio franchise. Rochester arenas are noted for their sale of the succulent Red Osier Prime Rib Sandwich & it should be noted that Suresh is now a veteran. He even went for the spicy horseradish condiment.
Friday, February 21, 2003
Come to the U.S. and shop...
If you're looking for a Mac iBook (700MHz/128MB RAM/12" LCD/CD-ROM), forget the Rochester, NY area CompUSA because the laptop is only available on 2-4 week order. The closest in-stock is 400km away in the state of Pennsylvania.
I'll bet you never knew you could buy a US$45 bulb for your vehicle headlight. PIAA will be glad to lighten your purse.
Thursday, February 20, 2003
32 hours & a sore bum later...
the plane landed in Rochester, NY and -4C weather. Western NY has been spared from the current East Coast blizzard, but has 50cm of residual snow. I seem to have brought warm Indian weather with me: the temp rose to 5C yesterday, but the rest of the week will be colder. Visa renewal has gone well. Cavemen had their quest for fire, I've succeeded with my quest for meat: steak on Tuesday night, spicy chicken legs last night. Several Indian friends have emailed their shopping lists...does that make me a mule?
Sunday, February 16, 2003
Happy One-Year Anniversary to me (as I pour myself a glass of guava juice).
India & I haven't been the same.
For the first three weeks, the company put me in a great hotel with full services as I jumped into the tedium of a 24x7 call center. I introduced myself to South Indian food & acclimated to the hot, humid climate. After those three weeks, I transitioned from being a busy visitor into a busy resident: paying for my own noisy flat, sending my laundry to an undependable dhobiwalla (washing person), & eating whatever I could find or cook for myself. After a few months, I graduated to quieter, cheaper housing & was better off cleaning my own clothes & floors. Today, I'm still busy, but lighter by 16kg/35lbs. I've recently met a group of people who like to go out, have fun & see a bit of India. I just bought a vehicle which not only solves the occasional hours spent waiting for a driver, but lets me shop for groceries, socialize & travel around this exciting country. Things are looking up, tho it's time to return to freezing NY & renew my visa.
Saturday, February 15, 2003
Riding under a full moon
About 25 Bullet owners gathered for the semi-weekly meeting on Elliots Beach at Besant Nagar. Even Ragu & a friend showed up from work. We're starting to see some new members riding on the recently introduced Thunderbird 350cc cruisers. We had our chai (tea) & called it a night about 9PM. A few of us reconvened for dinner from Dhaba Express, a good restaurant in the style of a Punjab roadside stall. Ummmm: grilled Arabian murg (chicken), butter chicken, black dal (lentils), and roti (flat bread). The riding was perfect: the moon lit up the streets, the cows & dogs stayed out of the roads. Have I mentioned that my bike doesn't leak a drop of oil ;^)
Friday, February 14, 2003
Evil Sabu is on notice
and Grace is the least of his worries! BTW, I just noticed the crop circles in the dark, thumbprint-sized area to the southeast of the target area (that's lower-right to you civilians).
Thursday, February 13, 2003
"Mother On Board"
Who remembers those silly, yellow signs that hung facing out from car windows? I suppose it was early Instant Messaging. Back to my point: I just discovered that me dear young mum is perusing this particular detour on the Information Highway. Yes, I gave her the URL a year ago (and probably a few times after that), but there has never been any feedback until the motorcycle appeared this past week. I ass-u-me-d that the web page visibility disappeared with previously lost electrons into the hidden recesses of their powerful Cyrix 200. Mom's a retired English teacher, so give her a hearty shout & mind your spelling/grammar on the BlabberBoard or Backfill comments.
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
StreetBoy...evolving in a city of 6 million
About the only "yard" I've seen lately was on Sunday's Madras Bulls motorcycle trip to the grounds of the Mamallapuram beach temple below. The ancient stonework in this town continues today. A larger, close-up has always been in the Pix link at the lower left page frame. On Saturday while waiting for the tyre walla to finish repairing a friend's flat (posted 10 FEB), I noticed a semi-permanent cobbler's hut on the same street corner. I ached in sympathy watching this gentleman sit cross-legged as pictured below. He was impeccable with his perfect hair & brilliant white dhoti (loincloth). He seemed a social center as many spent a friendly moment while passing by. All the while, he deftly glued, stitched, hammered, trimmed, shined, etc. in the midst of his treadle & lasts.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Spyware/Adware (as prompted by What the Hell did he say?)
These insiduous software programs are often hidden in other downloads. If you haven't yet learned the reason for this ploy & deceit, take your computer back to your retailer for a refund with the following explanation: "Tech support says I'm a Code ID 10T". These near-viruses invade your privacy & report your web surfing habits back to the creepy author of the program. The hidden software processing slows down your machine & often generates SPAM, UCE, Unsolicited Commercial Email.
To combat Spyware/Adware, I'm a long time user of the free product Ad-aware. The downside is that the free version only cleans, it doesn't protect in realtime. It may rid your system of nasties at Startup, but whatever you contract in-session will work its evil until you run Ad-aware again. Nonetheless, it won "Best Software 2002" awarded by PC World Magazine and recently released the long awaited version 6.0.
About a year ago, I discovered a 20 day free trial of Guard-IE. This beauty protects realtime against everything: cookies, scripts, pop-ups, browser history, and a dastardly trick called a Web Bug. I was glad to register for US$29.95 (tho Ad-aware now finds nothing to clean).
Monday, February 10, 2003
Boy In the Street...a YardBoy
A friend here in Chennai, India recently gave me feedback that he better enjoys those cyclical periods when I write about my experience rather than the snippets I find interesting in the local newspapers. I'll respectively start with my observation of construction across the street from my flat. The construction noise hasn't been bad, in fact, it's less noise than the screaming kids playing in the entranceway to our own building. The construction dust tends to come in my kitchen window, but the builders have thoughtfully tried to erect a thatch blockade around their work. What caught my eye about the building were two effigies intended to absorb the evil eye of any observers. Supposedly, a painted face on a pumpkin or coconut will catch a coveting look, more so than the building. There's also a dummy pictured below to counter similar, jealous observations.
Saturday, I was riding with that same friend (the Plog critic) & he gets a flat. No worries, there's a tyre walla (repairman) on every other corner. Every night his sign comes down off the street post & the tools go back in the crate. It's probably his corner.
Saturday, February 08, 2003
Finally got the deal to go down: 1997 Royal Enfield Bullet 500
modified with Lightning 535 instrument cluster & tank, Fury forks, hi-rise handlebars, contoured seat, cafe silencer, & a nitrogen-filled Duro 110/90-19 tire on the rear. Front disc brake & hi-output oil pump get installed on Monday.
Friday, February 07, 2003
Happy Birthday to:
Dona L Speir, Norwalk CA
Ashely Allen, San Antonio TX
Hrafnhildur Hafsteinsdottir, Iceland
Cerina Vincent, Nevada
Suzy Wilcox, Hilton NY
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
U.S. budgets US$53million for India
but the story quickly reverts to pointing out the aid as 1/6 the allocation for Pakistan. My first reaction: "Didn't our parents teach us to not compare gifts?"
Secondly, as an amateur diplomat, I might turn the clock back & look at foreign aid as a relationship. Long ago, India bedded with Russia & Pakistan with the U.S. India took on Soviet military arms & wheat. Pakistan was stocked from the U.S. To this day, my mother says: "If you make your bed, lay on it." Who would have guessed the USSR to go belly-up? I'm reminded of another saying: "It's hard to change horses in mid stream." But not impossible. "It's easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar."
I wish the article would have fairly pointed out the Russian budget for India vs. Pakistan (just the ratio, as the USSR gross never compared to the U.S.).
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
India's "Avatar": safer, cheaper, reusable satellite launcher
This patented hyperplane design is in the planning stage and would use air collection technology to produce in-flight liquid oxygen (minimizing the explosive combustion of a ground launch). Investment considerations: Rocketdyne (a Boeing unit), Aerojet Corporation (part of GenCorp), Sacramento, California, and Pennsylvania State University have completed a one hour testing of their air-breathing engine. Andrews Space & Technology Corporation has also developed a similar concept.
Monday, February 03, 2003
GuestMap to your left. Another glove has been thrown down, where are the freaks?
24fun.com actually had more features than bravenet.com
They both collect your email addy which is why I use a junker. They can also set cookies & trigger scripting which is why I run Guard-IE (it also stops pop-ups & is a bargin at US$30).
Seach area is growing
Space Shuttle debris on eBay (quickly removed by same)
“We live in an evil world, and there are people that will do those types of things,” said a stunned NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Sunday, February 02, 2003
Southwest state of Kerela, India: major power crisis looms
Hydroelectric is at half the capacity of a year ago and might be considered in light of recently announced Call Center growth (2500 seats).
Saturday, February 01, 2003
"Unidentified" U.S. Air Force Boeing-707, 170 nautical miles East of Chennai
Indian Air Traffic Controllers tracked the North-South flight at 35,000 feet altitude from 10:30AM-1:45PM IST yesterday. That all sounds pretty "identified" to me. Not to indirectly relate any covert activity, I'm reading Robert Ludlum's Janson Directive which fictionalizes a covert operations airbase in the Indian Ocean, East of Chennai.
Sants & Sadhus protest Ganga pollution
The holy men are boycotting the sacred river as too dirty for kalpvas (month-long, ritual bathing).
Who is at fault? The authorities or the guy risking a US$0.20 fine when he craps in the street?