Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Noteable events in the last few days of 2003 (for me, anyway)
1. Taking on a new HelpDesk in Canada. While I don't kiss & tell in this Plog, I will say: "Dude, you're getting a laptop!"
2. I was reminded & moved by Mona Lisa Smile. 1953 Wellesley college with Julia Roberts & others going thru rights of passage. Could have easily been my hometown university, St. Lawrence, in the 60s.
3. After nobody in India took an interest in NaviCache and the extra handheld GPS receivers I brought to India with me, I gave one of them to a family here in Rochester, NY. Mike L. has tried it on his own and just needed that first lesson. Note the lack of snow & light jacket/shirtsleeves for late DEC.
4. Happy New Year to all my friends & supporters. You're not alone ;^)
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
To quote the comic strip Pogo: "We have met the enemy and it is us."
The spam enemy includes our US Congress
menpersons who are spamming us regardless of the law they themselves recently passed. Congressional email is subject to the same rules as Congressional snailmail, aka franking: mailings of over 500 pieces have to obtain approval of the Congressional Franking Commission and are subject to a 90-day freeze before elections. Franking is free and I'm not impressed with tax dollars being used to send unsolicited emails to constituents. I'm un-impressed with 499 pieces getting mailed under a technicality. In fact, I'm depressed that 40 Congress members have bought or agreed to buy mail lists. And don't tell me these Congressional emails aren't "commercial". It's mass solicitation: the politicians are the product and they want you to pay in votes.
Monday, December 29, 2003
Indians soon to oversee Niagara Falls
Last year, the Seneca Nation of Indians took over the city's convention center and opened the Seneca Niagara Casino within. In their success, the Native Americans now plan to build a 26-story, $140million hotel looking over the rushing waters of the world-famous waterfalls.
For the last 100 or so years, the US government has given all Native Americans many benefits:
greatly reduced or nil tax
employment, construction and infrastructure subsidies
autonomy (private control over their towns, roads, government, police, etc.)
free hunting/fishing licenses and no limits as imposed on the regular public
Consequently, the Senecas will be able to offer hotel rooms 30% less expensive than neighboring businesses. There will be additional savings from their sale of tax-free liquor, cigarettes, and petrol.
Sunday, December 28, 2003
If you see sheep, you need glasses!
(a tip of the hat to the Quigleys on Amity St.)
Now the US is heading into Iran...
not to capture Osama bin Laden hiding in Iran
not to eradicate Al-Qaeda terrorist camps in Iran
not to seek retribution for holding Americans hostage for 444 days in Iran
but to aid victims (and many anti-Americans) suffering from Friday's earthquake in Iran.
At the same time, the US is left to dig out her own dead from landslides in California and avalanches in Utah. I'm sorry for everyone's losses, but I'm also reminded of Darwin's Natural Selection. Not every square inch of planet Earth is meant to be inhabited (whether by modern, code-adhering structures or mud-brick huts). It's Nature's way of "checking" uncontrolled, virus-like growth. When Mother Earth dumps 29 inches of snow in 24 hours on a mountain, snowboarders who challenge Nature may become a sad, but age old statistic. I sometimes wonder why humankind continues to interfere with survival of the fittest, especially the US who can't seem to stay in her own backyard like most other countries.
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Early Tuesday morning, I left freezing Rochester and flew to Florida for a visit with my parents for the holidays. It was deliciously warm (75°F) when I arrived later Tuesday & all day Wednesday. It was damn cold on Thursday (53°F) until the late afternoon and cool today when I flew back thru Cleveland (30°F) and Rochester (34°F).
Whenever I visit the folks, there's a "job list":
1. Update the virus definitions from my last visit (April 03)
2. Update/run the spy-bot cleaner (there were 57 trojans)
3. Pull out the stove, refrigerator, etc. for cleaning behind
4. Explain how 66,000 gal. of water can be lost thru leaks even tho faucets still operate
5. Explain that the "noise" coming from the bathroom is called the exhaust fan
6. Put up a new thermometer (tho the "old" one reads the same temperature)
7. Question their car making "noise" and discovering the power steering fluid empty
8. Replace a motherboard battery when told that the clock "falls behind every day"
I got a lovely shirt for Christmas.
Monday, December 22, 2003
Dragging his geeky feet
I finally took the BlogTree code off my Blog template. The BlogTree function (and image) had been down for ages and I finally Googled its demise:
"My service provider suspended the BlogTree.com site since it was apparently being used for hacking into the server. They suspect a vulnerability in the version of phpBB I was running. I’ve shut the forum down until I can find the time to upgrade it to the latest version."
Dude... you had a good thing going, I believe you were a nominee for "Best Meme" in the 2003 Weblog Awards. Does it really take since 20 JUL 2003 to find an upgrade to a well known player like phpBB?
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Normally a champion of Indy Films...
I mean Independent Films...the NY Film Critics Circle has instead chosen The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as 2003 film of the year. Runner-ups:
Lost In Translation
All, but one, are playing in Rochester theaters and I hope for a relaxing, heart-warming Holiday. I could start tonight at 7PM ET with Titanic on NBC network TV or at 8PM ET with Bridges of Madison Counbty on TNT network followed by Message In A Bottle ;^)
If I might explain to my Indian & Canadian friends...
Many American children give an inexpensive, if not a simply made, Christmas gift to their parents. It might be a drawing, potholder (not that kind), or ashtray made from the least of materials. George W has outdone all the other children ;^)
Saturday, December 20, 2003
When is an Indian not an Indian?
When he's a Canadian by way of Tanzania and distant Indian genes long prior. That's Nick who owns a chain of United Cleaners in Rochester, NY and thinks of himself as a "brown man". We were commiserating today that the local Indian restaurants serve un-authentic food at extremely high prices.
BTW, when I returned to Rochester on Thursday, I befriended an Indian-looking kid at the luggage pickup. Lo and behold, he didn't have some huge monstrosity all intertwined with rope, belts, tape, and roughly penned address signs. I asked where he was from and he looked suspicious, like "why is this firang talking to me?" He meekly replied: "Detroit." I said: "No, no, no; where are you really from?" He then answered: "Bangalore", but some well dressed Dr. So-and-so arrived and swept him away before I could
tell him intimate about Rochester's many dancing emporiums ;^)
Friday, December 19, 2003
Vegetarian or concerned about "factory farms"?
Kudos to IndianImmigrant, BlogRolled on the left as Living In America, for spotting The Meatrix (if you don't have Flash, you probably shouldn't be on the Net).
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Back in da crib, homeys
Up at 5AM to drive across the border and fly home. Uneventful, other than small, prop airplanes are noisy to the point of inducing paranoia.
While nice to be home after 3 weeks, my flat hasn't any hot water. Landlord Geoff Swanson (whereabouts unknown) should be looking over his shoulder, watching for the avenging angel. At least I have heat, a Net connection and Sting's Sacred Love spinning. The CD features single cut appearances by Mary J. Blige (vocals), Vicente Amigo (flamenco guitar), and Anoushka Shankar (sitar... and her father Ravi's gene pool).
I was able to purchase a New York Times today; so much better than another Times, the bottom-dwelling "Dishrag of India". Every Thursday, the NYT has its "Circuit" section: great IT stuff. Today's Business section also headlined that on Tuesday of this week, US President (and Commander in Chief) George Bush declared war on spam by signing tougher legislation into law. It continued that today, the state attorney general of New York and Micro$oft were filing civil suits of fraud against Scott Richter, alleged spammer extrordanaire and President at OptInRealBig. I believe the man to be in serious denial with his reply: "Messing with us is a big mistake. The more press I get, even bad press, the bigger we get." Talk like that might get him a boyfriend in prison ;^)
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Is this like the Himalayas?
some say Him'-a-layas...
we say Hi-mal'-a-yas
as the heavy, wet snow continues in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.
In the snowy Himalayas, does one retreat to the bar and surround himself with man mountain and a friendly woman?
Monday, December 15, 2003
I always raved about the haircuts in India
...the attention to detail
...the scalp oil
Now, I'm intrigued by an employment ad in Saturday's Sault Star newspaper:
BIKINI KUTS opening soon. 2 positions for motivated professionals available. Seeking hairdressers with certificate.
I also noticed in the paper that Canada has an interesting approach to music piracy: the government taxes MP3 players and some recordable media to compensate the artists. An advocate group, the Canadian Private Copying Collective, is disappointed that the archaeic federal Copyright Board does not recognize (and tax) the onslaught of blank DVDs, flash memory cards, and micro hard drives.
Sunday, December 14, 2003
I never saw snow in Chennai, India, but I'm making up for lost time in Canada
Saturday at 9AM, the Holiday Inn here in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario had not cleared 15cm of fresh snow from their sidewalks to the car park. I borrowed their shovel so I could get to my rental car to scrape the windows. This time of year, one must prepare an extra 15-20 minutes to drive yourself to work (no company transportation).
Saturday night was the company Christmas Party here at our brand new Canadian operation. I had begged door prize-type gifts from our upper management. I got little response and NO spiffs, so I bought beer for our hard workers (and myself). I'm concerned that like our India operation, we continue to overlook eSat, Employee Satisfaction. Who questions turnover when we tell employees that they should be happy just to have a job. Most Call Center employees are not 53 years old with reduced options.
I went to the movies to see Jack & Diane in Something's Gotta Give. The man is a classic and she's a timeless beauty like the one close to my heart. Keanu Reeves gambles with a lesser role in this romantic comedy, perhaps a chance to break out of The Matrix's Neo. I brought a hankie.
I wrapped up today attending a local Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds hockey game with one of our San Diego supervisors. They had been on a losing streak, but we brought them luck. Pix tomorrow (I'm currently wireless in the hotel bar with a Superior lager before me).
Saturday, December 13, 2003
If you're concerned about air pollution in India...
if you're pissed at Indian lorry drivers who add kerosene to their diesel...
if politicians & cops are ignoring the black smoke belching municipal busses...
if you believe "oil" is the root cause of world issues, e.g. Iraq...
then get behind fuel cell development. Follow Canada's lead as they plan several hydrogen highways and a hydrogen village in Toronto. With all the IIT banter, India should be the leader rather than companies like
Hydrogenics [its stock performance]
Ballard Power Systems
Fuel Cell Technologies
Stuart Energy Systems
[I'm not necessarily giving stock tips, but as the old saying goes: "If you've got money you can afford to lose..."]
Friday, December 12, 2003
Only in India?
Teachers in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India fight ban on their knitting in school. Would someone remind me of the India term (other than "ridiculous") where teachers do as little as possible during the day and charge extra for tutoring at night?
Speaking of Indian TV...
Did Chennai ever get the cable "set top box" mess straightened out? Does Chief Minister J La still alllow her minions to be the only cable industry test bed? Who's in bed with whom? Are the boxes still very expensive AND difficult to obtain? Where do those set top box profits (and kickbacks) go? Who benefits by Chennai being singled out? Certainly not the Call Center agents who are no longer exposed to English TV channels. Maybe J La thinks we should be downsizing our Chennai operation and moving calls here to Canada (great English, favorable financial exchange rate, government incentives, employee-responsible transportation, etc.)
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Please put your hands together for India Bloggers...
then click away for your favorite Indian websites at the IndiBlog Awards. Polls continue until 20 DEC. My favorites have always been BlogRolled on the left-hand side of my Plog, but by going thru the IndiBlog drop-downs of categories nominated, you might discover a new taste. Adventures with YardBoy reminds readers that there may be adventures of technically savvy voters ;^)
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Something I never saw on Indian TV...
but these Canadians are pretty damned liberal. Apparently some marketing guru decided viewers are ready for K-Y Warming Liquid. Now K-Y Jelly has been on the North American market for many years and with good reason: it's a personal lubricant often used for inserting firm objects into tight body orfices. While I was thinking of thermometers, some readers were probably flashing on the fact that K-Y's water-based lube doesn't disintergrate condoms as would oil or petroleum jelly. The newly introduced Warming Liquid is actually an old idea gone mainstream. Some of you may remember edible body lotion. My favorite was cherry-flavored and when one blew on the glistening flesh, it felt like it heated up.
In a VERY separate paragraph, I'll say "Hi Mom. No, I don't think I'm going to Hell."
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
How to get prepared for MNF...
Monday Night Football, an American tradition for 35+ years and nicely observed in neighboring Canada. Myself and co-workers from sunny San Diego, California sought refuge and pre-game pizza fortification at Joey Calzones. Back at my hotel room, we finally tried (and loved) the hoppy Northern Ale as posted earlier this week. On TV, we watched the St. Louis Rams playing at the Cleveland Browns whose stadium is affectionately termed The Dog Pound. The Rams butted the hell out of the hapless Browns.
Monday, December 08, 2003
Weekend film fest...OK...a little beer & football too
The Last Samurai has rich scenery from emerging 19th century Japan, bloody sword play meeting contemporary munitions, philosophy, and the Tom Cruise look (intense, whether deeply scarred or aimed at the female lead).
The Missing is directed by Ron Howard with Tommy Lee Jones waxing additional philosophies of a white man turned Native American in the 1870s. Add a huge dose of bloody, satanic kidnapping and Kate Blanchett in a strong mother's role. Cinema noir.
Love Actually features a varied cast (including Mr. Bean, Rowan Atkinson) in a woven tale of life's most wonderful and painful drug during the fragile holiday season. This film may not be for the lonely or weak-hearted, tho the end is as predictable as Hugh Grant. Bring tissues.
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Co-workers from southern California have come to The Sault to assist our Call Center start-up
As the Christmas song goes: "Welcome to the Winter wonderland." It's been hovering around 0°C and will continue until April. One of the guys accidently locked his jacket in an office, but he toughed it out for the car ride back to the hotel. Back in my room, the good Canadian beer featured below warmed him up ;^)
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Northern Brewery, SSM, Ontario: 500m from my room at the Holiday Inn
I was heading back to the hotel under a heavy snowfall and I saw a glimmer down the road. I rationalized that I wouldn't be venturing out into the nasty weather again that night and stopped at the Brewery's company store. I enquired about any hoppy brews and ended up with a Christmas gift and the following:
Thunder Bay Lager
Agassiz Bison Blond Lager (trust me, it's made at Northern Brewery).
All were good, maybe slightly better than India's Kingfisher beer, but I need to also try Northern Brewery's Northern Ale ;^)
Monday, December 01, 2003
Winter has returned to The Sault
50kph winds blowing snow off the St. Mary's River. The Holiday Inn locked its side doors due to wind damage. It's about 0°C, but the wind chill has left the roads VERY icy. I have added a Sault Ste. Marie cam URL to the left (below the India weather & above the chat box)
Balance: a great Sunday brunch, a few hours of work, and a film
Master & Commander was another Gladiator-like role for Russell Crowe which he does well. Great action showing the horror of close quarters fighting & the historical use of young midshipmen.