Sunday, October 19, 2008

Galant head-covering meets a grizzly end ...


Obituary for "Hat"
The proud and gallant head-covering made of woven straw met a grizzly end on Oct 17th, 2008 at approximately 3pm near Los Banos, California. "Hat" as it was affectionately called, had a very happy life right from when its owner, Ramanan purchased it at Disney World, Orlando, Florida on July 1st, 2003 for the princely sum of $14.99. A veteran of many campaigns over the years, "Hat" was cherised and loved by its owner.
"Hat" had survived many trips to the wilderness (even a trip to New York) but it meets its match in the hands (and teeth) of a pudgy and pugnacious (and possibly hungry) eight month old strapped to a car seat in the back seat of a Volkswagen Passat station wagon. "Hat" succumbed to the brutal attack somewhere between the towns of Madera and Los Banos on highway 152 (heading west) and was the only casualty in an otherwise wonderful 5 day trip to Yosemite and Bass Lake. "Hat" is survived by owner, Ramanan and family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Make it Right Foundation.

Why is it so hard to upload and organize pictures ...

I spent most of yesterday uploading pictures of Adith's eighth month and pics from our recent trip to Yosemite to the popular flickr web site. Dont ask me why flickr is popular cause I wasnt very happy with their interface. Okay - they do have some nice tools to help with the uploading but organizing the pictures wasnt very intuitive. How do I sort the pictures in a group pool? If someone knows do let me know.

After much soul searching, the mrs and I have decided to splurge on a new iMac - the one with the 24" screen. Hopefully the new Apple computer will come with some decent applications for photo editing and perusal.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A lot has happened ...

It has been a while since I made time to pen a few thoughts. A _lot_ has happened in the last few months that has left me emotionally drained. Here are a few salient features from the past ...

My parents made the pilgrimage all the way from Chennai to the west coast of California in the end of April' 2008 to visit their first grandchild (Adith). Airline travel is getting to be a big pain these days what with the new baggage regulations and the fuel surcharges. The flying time from MAA to SJC is a grueling 19 hours - enough to shrivel up a bonny lad of 18. Imagine what this does to travel weary grandparents aged 65.

The weather in sunny California is not what it used to be. It was May but the weather was averaging a chilly 60 degrees Fahrenheit much to the discomfort of my parents who are used to 20 years of steady 85 degree Fahrenheit Chennai temperature . Due to the chilly weather, my father suffered a mild heart attach - or a myocardial infraction to those of you savvy in medical lingo. A visit to the ER revealed that he did indeed have a couple of minor arteries that were completely blocked or close to it. The cardiologist recommended a quick angiogram/angioplasty to fix this minor problem which could turn into a major problem if left untreated. This quickly turned into two nights in the cardiovascular ER in the local Good Sam Hospital. Three stents were placed in his heart to keep the affected arteries open. I can only thank God that this event took place in SJC where the immediate family were all present. I can not imagine the turmoil my mother would have had to go through if this had happened on the plane trip over here or earlier in Chennai.

I sincerely hope none of you ever have to visit a hospital here in the US of A (excluding those visits made to visit the new baby - those are quite fun). The care is very basic and very impersonal. The ER patient has to call down to the cafeteria to order his/her meal. If the patient forgets (even if he/she was unconscious) , then he/she doesnt get a meal. But if one takes a look at the bill (which is really a book/tome), it would appear as if the ER patient was tended to by President Bush's own personal medical staff and Air Force 1 was used exclusively to courier in the medical supplies (which were all purchased in Europe using euros).

Almost three months have passed since that fateful day in May. A lot of good things have happened since then. My father is healthy and has regained his strength and spirits. Adith has had a wonderful time with both sets of grandparents spending quality time with him over the past six months. Now my parents are getting ready to head back to Chennai and we are looking forward to about three months where we will have to take care of Adith all by ourselves :). Come November, we are all headed to Pune and Chennai to visit the grandparents - little Adith's first visit to his motherland.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Indian Ads rule ...

Since Jofus has taken a (hopefully, only a) temporary vacation from blogging, here is a snappy Indian ad from the folks at Vodafone. I do realize that they are focussed on only selling you something but such an ad does raise one's spirits.

Dont google for the song - i already looked. The song was written and sung exclusively for the ad but it sounds like it is loosely based on the "Rising Sun" title song from the movie "Casino".

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Global Dimming ?

Most of you would have heard about global warming and even have done your bit to reduce your personal contribution to global warming but what I found out about global dimming scared me pretty bad. The irony could not be more explicit - I am cradling the sleeping Adith and watching the PBS special about global dimming.

While I encourage all you to real all about it at the aforementioned link, here is the short summary. We all know that global warming is raising the global temperature and is caused chiefly by greenhouse gases - so far so good. But do you also know that a second type of pollution (particle pollution) actually causes a cooling effect (and hence termed as global dimming or dimming the sun by man-made clouds) and therefore hiding the real impact of the greenhouse gases. Particle pollution is caused by factories, airplanes etc. With the advent of carbon scrubbing technologies, particle pollution is being reduced significantly in the developed world. But in the short term, it appears that this might lead to a double whammy effect. Temperature increases of 3 degrees centigrade are expected in the next 20 years or so.

What kind of world will we leave to our children? The future looks harsh at the moment. I am thinking of investing in a submarine since San Jose and Chennai are likely to be under water by 2040 ...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another missed opportunity ...

Dang it!! Yet another idea that the Batman (you can run but you cant hide), Jofus and I only talked about several years ago has been implemented. I refer to the neat "Shelfari" (virtual bookshelf) website. Look to the right and you will see my virtual bookshelf. Dig a little deeper and you will find a wonderfully put together website that enables friends/groups to share their past, present and future reading lists. The site of course is helpfully interlinked with Blogger, Amazon etc and stands a real chance of becoming yet another successful "social" networking product.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Eric Schlosser's dire prediction ...

I just finished reading Eric Schlosser's seminal book titled "Fast Food Nation - The Dark Side of the All-American Meal". In my opinion this is one of the two best books on how we should live and eat after we inform ourselves about the food that we eat - the other book in this genre being Micheal Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma.

In the afterword, Eric makes a very honest assessment of our current way of life that I found to be very chilling in its prediction. Given my previous post about the amorality of businesses, I though the following was something I should share.

Excerpt from Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: "The history of the 20th century was dominated by the struggle against totalitarian systems of state power. The 21st will no doubt be marked by a struggle to curtail excessive corporate power. The great challenge now facing countries throughout the world is how to find a proper balance between the efficiency and the amorality of the market. Over the past twenty years, the US has swung too far in one direction, weakening the regulations that safeguard workers, consumers, and the environment. An economic system promising freedom has too often become a means of denying it, as the narrow dictates of the market gain precedence over more important democratic values."

Powerful words, eh? Comments?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Adith rules and the impossible passport size photo of a baby


Since Adith pretty much dictates my life these days, I changed the color and template of this blog to a shiny baby blue :). Hope you all dont object.

It has been a fleeting three weeks since Adith's birth and I have not found the time to document these past few weeks. I am back at work this week. Isnt it a cruel world where the mother gets 6 months maternity leave and the dad gets one measly week. Anyway, I managed to go to work one day and then worked from home the next four days. This in order to ease the transition for the family is what I told my manager. But it was really to ease my transition to the daily grind :).

Adith received his SSN today and this meant that we could apply for his passport. 2 passport size pictures, application form and Adith's birth certificate are all that are required. We drag the baby to the local Kinkos only to find out that they dont take passport pics of babies - too hard they say!! Take the baby to a professional studio was the recommended advice. It is bad enough that one has to pay something like $20 for a couple of passport size photos - going to a studio is likely to cost much much more. How can these guys get away with charging us these big bucks for a couple of snaps? They dont give us the negatives since these are digital pictures anyway (and they dont give you the JPEG file either). The bane of the free market economy is that one can charge what ever he/she wants as long as there is still a demand for the product - is there no sense of morality in businesses these days?. I hope that with the advent of cheap digital cameras and digital printers, more and more people will make their own passport size photos and put an end to this daylight robbery (okay - i am done with my rant on passport size photos).

Long story short, I made my own passport size photo of Adith. Oh, before I forget, the passport photo instructions mention that the distance from the chin to the top of the head must be between 1 inch and 1 & 3/8 inch. What they mean to say is that the distance from the chin to the top of the head must be between 2.5 cm and 3.5 cm (now isnt that something you can measure using a normal ruler :)). Score 1 for the metric system.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

112 diapers and counting ...


Yes - he is finally here. Adith (pronounced Aadith) arrived into this world loudly complaining about being squeezed through the birth canal even though it took him only a few minutes from the beginning to the end of the "squeezing" part of the process.

Adith arrived three weeks early catching everyone by surprise. He is a cute tiny little guy but is very active and very curious about the new world that he has descended into. With each day, I think his lungs and stomach are growing exponentially (at least it sounds this way). It is amazing how these little guys can pack it away and then download it all into the diaper. Adith is averaging about 8 diapers a day and so since he is two weeks old now, thats 112 diapers and counting :).

As new parents, the first few hours are exhilarating. We are the proud parents of this darling boy and everything is new and exciting. Fast forward a couple of days and the proud parents are still happy and delirious but more due to the fatigue rather than anything else :). I must say that the feelings that you go through as a new parent is nothing like anything you might have gone through in your life before. In the first few traumatic days, the extended lack of sleep should have converted the new parents into walking zombies but it isnt like that at all. One look at that cherubic face and a mother lode of endomorphines is released into your system to cancel out the fatigue.

Friday, February 1, 2008

More musings on the cricket scene ...

Read this article. I cant believe how out of proportion the "Harbhajan-Monkey" episode is being blown up in the media. This is crass sensationalism!! Now we have Indians questioning the racist tendencies of Indians. Please - Indians suffer from a whole host of maladies and/or quirks but racism isnt one of them. The day we call preference for the white skin, racism, then we better call all the women in the world who want to be super-models, racists too :).

Harbhajan probably did call Symonds a "monkey" but I dont think he did it because he is racist. I think he did it because that is what needles Symonds. Calling Symonds a whole bunch of proper insults would not have unsettled him :). All these types of insults only unsettle the Indians (and the Aussies are very fluent with these types of insults). Bhajji did what any good antagonist would do. When faced with a strong enemy, find the weakness and go for the jugular :).

Disclaimer: This piece in no way condones what Bhajji did but in all fairness, he only gave the Aussies a taste of their own medicine.

ps: Here is a neat article from Harsha Bhogle that kinda puts everything about this fracas in perspective. I think I agree with him - the fault lies with both parties and it is best to learn from this and move on.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sense and sensibilities ... musings on the cricket scene ...

With reference to the incidents described by Joe in his post, it is really funny to see how this world turns. Heckling the batsman is okay as long as one does not make racist comments but one is free to use all other forms of insults. The Aussies certainly look like poor sportsmen for taking something that should have been settled on the field and making a mountain out of a mole hill. It painted them in a very poor light. Ponting's legacy will forever be tainted by these incidents. He will not depart the game with the same respect and adulation that Waugh commanded on his retirement.

Gilly's timing of his retirement announcement might have something to do with him trying to distance himself from this team as soon as possible. He was certainly one of the old school warriors of the Steve Waugh generation and would not have liked where this team was headed. But of course he is too much a team man to say this in a public forum.

Now on to the fun part - nerves of steel and a sound backbone. Thats whats new with the Indian team. The bowling has been a revelation and it only seems to get better. Pathan's back and so are a whole score of bowlers all superbly coached by a very underrated bowler, Mr. Venkatesh Prasad. With the bowling stopping all comers, the batsmen are under less pressure to win the matches and this has allowed several batsmen to flourish.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 - the year that was ...

Year 2007 - it is gone - part of history now. It went by so fast that it took me until Jan 1st, 2008 to reflect on the year. Overall, it has been a very interesting year although the start of 2007 was a little traumatic for me. January had me in a new role in a new job and led to some stressful times at the start of the year. But challenges are part and parcel of life and I survived to tell the tale. G3 got a new IPOD in February on our 4th wedding anniversary (isnt it amazing how materialistic we can get when I mention that the acquisition of a new IPOD is the highlight of the month :)). The month of May was when the in-laws arrived in the US for their first visit just in time to attend G3's graduation. She received a Bachelors in Computer Science from SJSU. June was when G3 gave me the most earth-shattering news - I was going to be a daddy in about 39 weeks!! July was when we all made a very nice visit to Niagara Falls and stayed at a gorgeous Victorian bed-and-breakfast. September saw the end of the in-laws visit and the end of various delicious dishes that were served to me by mom-in-law. But everyone was excited because the in-laws will be back in Feb,2008 to help with the pregnancy and delivery. October saw the introduction of Tarun in this world. November and December was just a blur because I was buried under a mountain of work but served to remind me that I must not devote so much time to work when the baby is born.

The year 2008 holds much promise for us. The baby is due in March and I cannot look beyond March at this point. My new year goals are simple: Make more time for family and loose some weight - not try and loose weight but really loose some weight :).