Friday, April 30, 2004
Gateway cutting another 1500 jobs, 40% of their workforce, BUT...
there's a guy living in my house who has been hiring all week for the out-sourced helpdesk. AND, he's hiring domestically, in the US! Now, if only he would stop drinking my beer ;^)
I also noticed that the announcement came from "CEO Wayne Inouye". This would be the previous CEO of eMachines, the competition with whom Gateway merged. Effective 26 MAR, Ted Waite, Gateway founder and cow afficiendo, became ChairPerson. Yesterday, Gateway posted their 13th loss in 14 Quarters, but expect turn-around with the new dawg who had been profitable forever at eMachines.
Life is unfair!
The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of time. What do you get at the end of it? Death. What's that, a bonus?!?
I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you go live in an old age home. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, then, when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day. You work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement.
You drink alcohol, you party, and you get ready for High School. You go to primary school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back, you spend your last 9 months floating with luxuries like central heating, spa, room service on tap, then you finish off as an orgasm!!
- George Costanza (via Kribs, 29 APR 04)
I'm reminded of the old expession that "men spend nine months trying to get out of the womb and a lifetime trying to get back in".
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Complete turn around in Sri Lanka?
I used to get XXX spam from a person in Sri Lanka named "Tiron". Yeah, I know, I was as surprised as you. Tiron offered pix and access to many a skanky ho in that small island nation close to where I worked in Chennai, India. I was curious last month when Tiron's mass-mailing was "Best Wishes for a Tamil New Year". Pretty sedate stuff compared to his old ways. Today's mailing completes the transformation?
"In appalling bad taste, Victoria Secret has produced a bikini with the Buddha image on the breast and the crotch. You can sign the petition against it at, http://www.petitiononline.com/VSlotus/petition.html
I think we Buddhists must raise our voices against this kind of insidious attempt, backed no doubt by the evangelical lobby, to denigrate Buddhism."
Monday, April 26, 2004
What the hell are some parents thinking?
They only have themselves to blame.
Now that I'm back from India and have some private time, I noticed that Kill Bill 2 is at the theaters. Pragmatist that I am (who said "anal"?), I checked the local newspaper to see if Kill Bill 1 was still playing anywhere since missing it on my previous trip to India. Bingo, it was in its final days at the Buck Theater. I call it a buck, but in truth, those days are gone and it was $1.50 for the matinee, maxing out at $3 during prime time. But hey, it beats $8-10 at the cineplexes. Some would say the price is low because of the theater's location in an ethnic suburb, but I contend there's a purist market for seeing a film on the big screen just before it flames out and goes to video. And besides, I work in that suburb. Back to the parents: I'm in queue for the ticket (something we do politely in the US) and there's a young family in front of me purchasing two Adult and two Children tickets for the R-rated Kill Bill 1. Now, R-rated is not X-rated (porn), but it does mean "no children under 17 unless accompanied by an adult". These were two boys, approximately aged 6 and 10. My own little, pre-film drama begins:
Father says: "I didn't know this was R-rated."
The younger boy is looking up at the father, wondering what he means.
The more mature boy is looking to mom for an answer.
YB behind them thinks: "What don't you understand about the word 'kill'?"
Mom responds: "It's only about killing."
YB thinks: "You reap what you sow" and shakes his head like an Indian.
YB takes seat in theater and film begins with a blood bath.
People sitting behind YB won't shut up.
YB turns around to discover the aforementioned family.
YB gives the boys a knowing smile.
Here's a partial spoiler: there's killing, major shooting and spurting blood. There's kung-fu fighting to the point of frequent dismemberment (and more spurting). I should mention the hospital orderly who pimps out a comatose Uma Thurman for $75 a shot. And the Japanese Yakusa henchman are just plain wrong. Do not take your children at any age. The family behind me didn't last until the end ;^)
Saturday, April 24, 2004
after 25 hours of flying from Chennai, India; thru London and Philadelphia, to Rochester, NY. It all started on Wednesday with a last minute British Air cancellation as I was checking out of the hotel in Chennai at 5:30AM IST (India Stretchable Time). Another plane was to be brought in "sometime" on Thursday and we received 4 1/2 hours notice for that 3:30AM check-in. The flight was scheduled for 7:30AM and I thought 4 hours check-in was unreasonable until the ticketing system at Chennai International crashed at least 3 times. In direct opposition to what my hotel confirmed with British Air, I was only ticketed as far as London and my US connection could not be resolved in India. My luggage, however, was booked to Philadelphia. As usual, security at Chennai International was a bad joke. While we may be inconvienced in the US, fear for your lives at Chennai International. I thought it unusual that boarding didn't begin around 6:30AM for a 7:30AM departure considering that the Boeing 747-400 is the largest of the fleet with about 360 seats. At 7AM, I asked about delays since there were ticketing and connections to be made. An excuse was given of the Chennai International systems outage yet I noticed a 7:35AM flight leaving on time for the Mideast. I also noticed that Chennai International allows stragglers right up until departure (and later, in the case of our 8AM boarding). We finally departed at 9AM, 1 1/2 hours late. Yes, I had to stride quickly thru Heathrow airport in London just to get an onward ticket from British Air and make the gate. In passing, British Air said they could do nothing about US connections. On the flight to Philly, a phone call to our company's Travel Manager secured a connecting reservation. Once in Philly, the connecting terminal was as far away as possible, but an airport employee's bus was helpful. All's well that ends well and I found a sports bar that had ICB, Ice Cold Becks (beer), my favorite ;^)
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Phase 1 of India's national election is somewhat complete
On Tuesday, 50-55% of 175 million voters exercised their choice. Poll violence included booth-capturing, smashing of voting machines and 18 deaths. Make-up voting in the violent sectors will be Thurday. The Election Committee is allowing exit polls and the incumbant BJP party has a slight lead.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
A predictable day for footballers everywhere
Memorable Argentine, Diego Maradona, has been hospitalized with "congestive heart failure". Note to youth: this can happen when you snort enough coke to line the field. Recent pictures of the 43-year-old former captain show more chins than a Chinese phone book. Thank you and good night, YardBoy has left the comedy club ;^)
Cholesterol strikes again?
Hamburger giant McDonald's Chairman and CEO, Jim Cantalupo, has died of an apparent heart attack at age 60. The newly named CEO is President and COO Charlie Bell (no relation to Taco Bell).
Let the fun begin
Today is the first phase of India's polling across 13 States and 2 Union Territories. At last count, there were 22 political parties. Of 1,86,603 voting stations, 23% are nominated as "sensitive" and 12% as "hyper sensitive" during the 7AM-5PM polling hours. The eastern State of Tripura votes on Thursday with other States following on 5 dates thru May 10.
In the volitile northern States of Jammu and Kashmir, former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Dr. Farooq Abdullah escaped grenade attack yesterday. In the State of Andhra Pradesh just to the north of Chennai, senior TDP leader and party candidate K. Yerran Naidu escaped a landmine blast injuring his 2 gunman, personal assistant and driver. To the west of Chennai, in the State of Karnataka, near Bangalore (India's "Silicon Valley"), alleged Congress (party) supporters set fire to the house of the Janata Dal (Secular) leader and critically scalded him with acid.
On a positive note, Indian President Kalam has urged a voter turnout "...to exercise their franchise without fear...while sowing seeds for a prosperous India, a happy India, a safe India, a secure India, and above all, an India with nobility". BTW, India got rid of British nobility 57 years ago ;^)
Saturday, April 17, 2004
CSI: Madrid (Spain, that is)
Well, almost. According to the El Mundo daily, Spanish authorities have decided that obtaining DNA markers from the city's 215,000 dogs was too expensive. Instead, the police will have to figure out some other way to frame charges on shitty dogs and their owners. Rather than collecting fecal matter at the crime scene, maybe the Spaniards will import a video team from the porn world who are experienced with scat films. Here in Chennai, India, I would foresee a ridiculously low Rs. 10 fine that would deter no mammal, let alone the humans who turn the public roadsides into toilets ;^(
Back in Rochester, NY, frequent reader Cutie Pie raises guide dogs for blind people and follows an excellent practice when taking those dogs out for a leashed walk and canine bowel movement. In her pocket, she carries a clean, folded, plastic bag, one of many left over from retail shopping. When the dog drops its load, she sticks her hand in the bag like a glove. As she picks up the pile, she uses her other hand to turn the bag inside-out. Most bags have handles that can be tied to reduce odor until proper disposal. Innovative, easy, ecological: Cutie Pie.
Friday, April 16, 2004
Important advice from frequent visitor Slurpee Slinger
"Never hold your farts in - they travel up your spine, into your brain, and that is where shitty ideas come from!!!!"
Thursday, April 15, 2004
No, it's not Michael Jackson...
It's one of India's many spiritual gurus, Sai Baba, blessing Prime Minister Vajpayee during a break in the PM's re-election tour. This darshan (meeting) is a smart alliance. The reputed holy man, Sai Baba, has several residences around India and many followers near them all. Many people pay obeisance to Sai Baba and I have seen agents in our Call Center carrying Sai Baba's picture. Followers are said to benefit from his blessing. Sai Baba is also reported to have built many charitable institutions while keeping Mercedes and servants. Sai Baba is currently residing at his summer ashram near Bangalore to enjoy the cooler air. In the past, criminal allegations against Sai Baba regarding murder and sexual abuse of children have caused the US, Britain and UNESCO to issue warnings.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Beware the Biscuit Bandits
Two passengers on India's Mumbai-Chennai Mail (train) recently fell victim. The pair were found unconscious in their compartment by the cleaning staff at the Chennai terminus and taken to Government Hospital. When revived, the victims told of a youth in their compartment offering bananas and bottled drink. After checking their belongings, they discovered the loss of cash, demand draft, jewelry, and silk sarees.
I'm reminded of my train trip (alone) from Bangalore to Chennai. I was told to book a First Class, air conditioned coach and take nothing from anyone; beware of thieves who lace food products with knock-out drops. First Class had the comfort of slightly reclining chairs, but napping was not possible with hawkers coming down the aisle every three minutes. Their products ranged from foreign-sounding drinks to indecipherable snacks. What to do, other than stick my nose in a book? I eventually found a support group to better help me enjoy my two years in India. Surprisingly, most assistance came not from co-workers, but bikers. Thanks to the Madras Bulls, I discovered what I was missing: stylish travel, good local food, and camaraderie ;^)
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
You knew they were coming: elections and my comments
Man, it's a killing field out there:
They finish the polls in Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) break the truce of Christmas 2001 to start fighting amongst themselves. What will become of self-appointed "Col. Karuna"?
One of India's current political slogans is "India Shining", but I'm having trouble seeing the light thru the smoke and mirrors.
Up in J&K (Jammu & Kashmir), four grenades are tossed into an election rally and no senior police are present.
At a "birthday party" for a senior BJP (reigning political party) leader, the distribution of free sarees caused a stampede that killed 21. Opposition Parties and the Congress are objecting to the EC (Election Commission) that the saree distribution smacks of voter inducement. The BJP politician and organizers had left the function before the tragedy. The Home Secretary indicates no permission under local ordinance was taken to hold the celebration and consequently, suitable police arrangements were not made. The BJP Party and current India Prime Minister Vajpayee have sought permission of the EC to provide relief for the victims. PM Vajpayee happens to be a BJP candidate for the local constituency of those victims.
The contest is close in AP (Andhra Pradesh, state to the north of Chennai) and the PW (People's War) have pitched into high gear, intimidating tribals not to vote on that state's polling date of 20 APR. Recently, the naxalites (guerillas) have gunned down a funtionary of the Telugu Desam Party who was also the husband of the Minister for Tribal Welfare. The renegades roam freely and last week killed 28 policeman in the neighboring state of Jharkhand.
In Maharashtra, the home state of Mumbai (Bombay), the MEW (Maharashtra Election Watch) declares that 15% of Maharashtra candidates (33 of 210) have a criminal background and cases against them. Charges run from rioting, wrongful confinement, death threats, arson, to causing hurt and damage.
As usual, Chennai is quiet in its sultry heat, tho James Bond-like actor Rajnikant has been stumping in the twilight of his career. Regardless of the drought, I suspect mud will soon be slinging by next month's election.
Monday, April 12, 2004
Hapy New Year to all Tamilians
It's 11PM and I'm at work, but I've been hearing music and crackers (fireworks) outside all night. Chennai normally rolls up the sidewalks at 8PM on a Monday night, but I anticipate a little more excitement as we head to Midnight and the New Year.
I guess yesterday was Easter. I hope you all had a good time. Early last week, I dropped a hint to our India Country Manager that we should do something nice for Easter (especially since I know he has passes for the nearby, 5-star beach resort, Fisherman's Cove). It's a good thing I didn't hold my breath for him or the Program Manager. Instead, I asked one of our Call Center agents to join me at the hotel where I'm staying for a nice brunch treat.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
All kinds of bikers in Chennai, India
This family falls a little short of the record I've seen: 5 on one of these little 125cc two-strokers. I wanted to buy helmets for the little girls, but foolish amma (mother) can cut back on the hair garlands and buy her own ;^(
Saturday, April 10, 2004
The ex-French Union Territory of Pondicherry...
is about a 3 hour motorcycle cruise south of Chennai, India. On a Madras Bulls ride last year, we passed many simple villages, clusters of huts off the paved road. There were also fields of green (rice), prawn farms and giant salt flats. In between were many dirt roads, lots of dust and cattle walking where they pleased.
The city of Pondicherry proper has some beautiful, somewhat French architecture. We stayed in a restored hotel that had fantastic furniture, including a 4-post, canopied bed shared by Varun and the Dias (Vernon & Charmain). I was happy to get the trundle bed (and so was Charmain). Additionally, Pondicherry has low taxes, i.e. cheap beer. The food was OK, but not French: no croissants, no soft Brie cheese, no pate, no mousse... you get the idea. The picture below is from an open patio outside our room where we took our meals. That area was enhanced with colorful flowers and greenery growing against the stark whitewash.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
From last October's "Madras Bull's" ride to Pondicherry
On the way back to Chennai along the west side of the ECR (East Coast Road), I stopped my Bullet upon seeing a group of beautifully carved stone horses. They flanked a small temple and there was no further explanation of their meaning. The pic below also shows the usual happiness of our recently deceased friend, Varun.
Monday, April 05, 2004
Where the Hell is YardBoy?
On Friday past, the boss asked me to return to Chennai, India for 3 weeks. I flew on Monday, landing on Wednesday. I'm with a very driven co-worker and we've pushed 10-12 hours every day since. I've now learned a part of that person's drive is returning to the US for Easter with their family and then returning to India. This and favorable health insurance subsidy are examples of great company support given to families.
Back to the timeline: I landed on Wednesday and, unknown to me, Varun, a fellow Mad Bull motorcyclist, was dieing almost simultaneously when his Bullet struck the back end of a lorry in northern India. On Thursday, his body was flown back to Chennai for traditional burial by sunset. A group of us Bulls attended the service at the family home of the deceased. For my first Indian funeral, there were hundreds of people filing barefooted past the body on display in a rough coffin box and lots of wailing. As the sun sank lower on a hot and sad April night, a long procession accompanied the body to the neighborhood crematory. It was another first as I saw our friend laid on firebricks in a 10m square shed and covered with dried dung (fuel to many around the world). Brahmin priests chanted over the initial flames and dripped sacred oil to feed the cremation. As the flames grew higher, we paid our last respects and made our move. I understand the parents not viewing this final act.
I've got a bit of a sticky problem. I've been away from Chennai since November and guess where my Bullet is stored? That's right: with Varun or what would now be his parent's yard. I'll wait a few days before bothering them about a topic (motorcycle) hurtful to their hearts.
I've got some pix of Varun from a ride we took with the Mad Bulls to Pondicherry. It was a good weekend of drinks and wretched Indian strippers.