Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated each year in the United States on the 4th Thursday in November. It is a federal holiday. Most offices are closed on Friday (day after Thanksgiving Day) also. Therefore many people will have a 4-day weekend.

It is supposed to be a religious observation to give thanks to God. The first thanksgiving was celebrated in the United States to thank God for helping the pilgrims survive the brutal winter. The early settlers of the Plymouth Colony (now Plymouth, Massachusetts) were called Pilgrims. It is said the first thanksgiving was celebrated for 3 days. That first thanksgiving was attended by 53 Pilgrims and 90 Indians. That is American Indians and not East Indians.

The traditional Thanksgiving feast menu includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Of course, lot of alcohol also consumed.

Traditionally, in our home, my wife cooks the following. Of course, I help her. This menu idea came from Google.

Starters: Tomato and Roasted Bell Pepper Soup with Sourdough Croutons

Salad: Apple, Dried Cherry and Walnut with Maple Dressing

Main Dishes: (Since we are vegetarians) A Vegetarian Dish, Maple Grazed Carrots, Peachy Sweet Potato Casserole, Mashed Potatoes.

Dessert: Pumpkin Pie

Of course there is always a football game (not soccer) in the TV. We invite a few relatives and friends and eat and drink our heart out.

Friday, the day after thanksgiving, is another story. It is called Black Friday because the retailers hope that their sales figures will move out of the red and into the black. It is the biggest and busiest shopping day in USA. It is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. Most of the department stores open at 5 AM on that Friday and many people will be waiting outside in line all night to enter the store at 5 AM and grab the stuff. There are always huge discounts on all items in the store.

But this year it is going to be different. We are driving to Southern California to see Dinnyland (that is Disneyland) and Universal Studios for the umpteenth time. My family thinks if we do not go on a plane it is not a vacation. That is a different story to be told at a later date.

We are returning from Southern California on Sunday. Next week I have to attend to some urgent and important chores. Therefore, my next posting will be after 12 days.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


A few months ago I read a book titled “Call Me Hope”, written by Gretchen Olson. That book touched my heart. While browsing the web yesterday, I happen to read a commentary on this book.

This is the story about a 11 year old Hope Marie Elliott. She is studying in sixth grade. Hope lives under the pressure of her abusive mother. . Hope’s father ran away from home when she was a baby. Her mother told Hope that her dad ran away because “she cried all the time”. She has been called stupid and idiot so many times that she started to hate these two words. Her mother never said a single praising word to Hope.

Hope is tempted to run away from home but chooses to tackle the situation. She establishes a creative point system. She gives herself points for every bad thing her mother says to her. She finds comfort and inspiration from reading Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl.

Luckily her friends, school teachers, and some neighborhood old ladies shower affection on her. With their support Hope gradually begins to believe in herself. Finally she is able to confront her mother about her abusive words and help her begin to change.

People, who generally think child abuse means someone physically hurting a child will change their mind after reading this book. Even constant verbal abuse is also child abuse.

Parental abuse happens because of different reasons. They themselves were abused as children. Lack of parental knowledge. Expecting too much from their children. Financial problems. Insecurity and immaturity. Alcohol and/or drug problem. Unable to manage children as a single parent. Defective self-image. Some parent think since they give birth, they have the right to do anything with their children.

Children suffering from abuse develop a range of anti social and self-destructive behaviors from academic difficulties to depression to panic attacks to suicide attempts. Many children, especially girls, run away from home and end up in red light districts.

At the same time, there are many children fight back in their own way and excel academically. They become lawyers, doctors, engineers, software professionals, managers, business executives, etc.

This is my 50th posting and I proudly dedicate this blog to those abused kids who have become a success in their life through their hard work and dedication.

News Flash: As I am about to post this blog, the TV is giving this sad news. Anul Ram, a 31 year old Indian origin woman in Sacramento (about 75 miles from our place) has been arrested for allegedly drowning her 3 year old daughter to death. She has been estranged from her husband and living separately. The child’s father called the police asking for a welfare check of his daughter and 7 year old son. When the officers went to her apartment they found the child unresponsive. The officers performed CPR until the paramedics arrived. They rushed the child to the UC Davis Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

Where is the limit for child abuse? How sick can some one be to drown a helpless child? Children are a gift and are to be loved. They should not be harmed in any way.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The World's Most Powerful People

Forbes Magazine, for the first time, has come out with a list of “The World’s Most Powerful People”. The magazine allotted one slot for each 100 million people in the world for a total of 67 slots.

What are the criteria for ranking? There are 4 of them.

1. Do they have influence over lot of other people?

2. Do they control large financial resource?

3. Are they powerful in multiple spheres?

4. Do they actually use their power?

They first ranked all the candidates in each of these 4 dimensions. The individual rankings were averaged into a composite score which determined who was ranked above whom.

Here are the top 10 powerful people in the world:

1. Barack Obama, President, United States of America
2. Hu Jintao. President, People’s Republic of China
3. Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister, Russia
4. Ben Bernanke, Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve
5. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Founders, Google
6. Carlos Helu, Chief Executive, Telmex, Mexico
7. Rupert Murdoch, Chairman, News Corporation
8. Michael Duke, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores
9. Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, King, Saudi Arabia
10. William Gates III, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

There are 5 Indians on that list. They are:

36. Man Mohan Singh
44. Mukesh Ambani
50. Dawood Ibrahim (yes, the same Dawood Ibrahim)
55. Lakshmi Mittal
59. Ratan Tata

Three bad guys made the list. Osama bin Laden (37), Joaquin Guzman, Mexican drug trafficker (41), and Dawood Ibrahim (50).

Oprah Winfrey (45) is the only entertainer.

John Roberts, Jr. (49), Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, is the only person from the judiciary.

Three journalists made the list. William Keller (51), Executive Editor, The New York Times, Wadah Khanfar (54), Director-General, Al Jazeera, and Mark Thompson (65), Director-General, BBC.

I noted some interesting points.

Igor Sechin (42), Deputy Prime Minister of Russia is more powerful than Dmitry Medvedev (43), President of Russia?

Kim Jong II (24) of North Korea and Luis Silva of Brazil (33) are more powerful than Man Mohan Singh (36)?

We can take consolation that Man Mohan Singh (36) is more powerful than Syed Gilani (38), Benjamin Netanyahu (46), Nicolas Sarkozy (56) and Hugo Chavez (67).

Osama bin Laden (37) is more powerful than Syed Gilani (38)?

Dawood Ibrahim (50) is more powerful than Lakshmi Mittal (55) and Ratan Tata (59)?

If they give one slot for every 100 million people, then India should have received 11 slots on a mathematical basis. The highest place an Indian could get is 36. This will bring down many Indian leaders to reality.

Following is the total breakdown:

1 Entertainer, 1 Judiciary, 3 Bad guys, 3 Journalists, 20 Leaders of countries, 39 Rich industrialists or people associated with money.

In the end, money talks. You have money. You have power. That is the bottom line.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Paranormal Activity

Everyone talks about this movie. Some say this is the best horror movie. Some say this is the most boring movie. So, last night we went to see this movie in the theater.

Paranormal Activity is a horror movie produced under $15,000 and has only 4 actors. It was filmed within one week using a hand held video camera. Within a month of its release, the revenue has grossed up over 100 million dollars.

Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat are lovers and start to live together. As soon as Katie moved in with Micah strange things start to happen in the house. Micah bought a video camera to document these strange occurrences. There have been strange noises, whispers, and footsteps.

Micah has been filming all the conversations. He even has the camera filming while they are sleeping in the bedroom. They ask the advice of a psychic. He tells the couple that most of the things are normal house noises. Katie then tells the psychic that these things are happening in all the house she lived since she was a child. The psychic is an expert in human spirits only. He suggests that they should consult an expert on demons. But that demonologist is out of the city on some business.

The video tape is recording everything that is happening every night. The noise and bizarre happenings become more violent each night.

The director tries to tell the audience that this story happened to somebody in real life. The names of the two characters in the movie are same as their real names, i.e. Katie and Micah.

The Director is also trying to tell us that genuine scary situations do not have to include the usual lots of blood, gruesome death and psycho killers.

I am not reviewing this movie. I am just expression my impressions of this movie. If some strange things are happening in the house, my thinking is, why don’t they get the hell of that house? Again, one might argue that wherever Katie goes this will follow her.

When they sleep in the upstairs bedroom there will be a noise in the downstairs. These 2 will run down the stairs to see what it is. They never turn on the lights. They always run in the dark. If this happens in your house, won’t you turn on all the lights the whole night?

There is no photography or music. As I said, the actual filming was done on a hand held video camera. I am sure we all have watched something recorded from a hand held video camera. It is not steady and shaking all the time. So I had to sit through 89 minutes of watching a hand held video camera shoot in the dark. When we came out of the theater my eyes were straining.

If it is not such a good movie…story-wise and also production-wise…then how come it has earned more than 100 million dollars within a month? May be some people really like this movie. If they read this blog, they may think, as they say in Tamil, kazhudhaikku theriyuma karpoora vaasanai (Does a donkey know about the aroma and smell of camphor?)

If there is a war movie, I want to see both sides fight like hell. I do not want to see couple of diplomats negotiating a cease fire. If there is a horror movie, I want to see lots of bloods, gory killing, and the audience scream in fear.

This movie is over hyped.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dead Wrong

Ademir Jorge Goncalves was 59 years old and lived in Parana State in Southern Brazil. He worked as a bricklayer. He went out of town on some business.

Monday morning police informed the bad news to his family. He died in a car accident Sunday night. Police asked the family members and friends to come and identify the body. His sister and 4 of his friends made positive identifications. The police released the body to the family.

It is a custom in Brazil to hold the funeral the very next day. Family had made arrangements for the funeral. Friends and relatives had gathered to say goodbye to Ademir.

Finally a guest arrives at the funeral. Who is he? Ademir Jorge Goncalves himself. Everyone was relieved.

What happened?

The corpse was badly disfigured, but dressed in similar clothing. Ademir spent the night at a truck stop drinking with his friends. He did not get word about his own funeral until it was already happening Monday morning.

His niece said she and her two uncles had doubts about the identification. But since an aunt and 4 of his friends identified the body, they went ahead with the funeral. End of story.

But I have some thoughts.

This man should take the names of the people who did not come to this funeral and then write them out of his will.

Why don’t they go with DNA testing?

When someone is late for everything, we always joke that he would be late for his own funeral. Looks like this guy really did that.

He should have sat incognito in the audience. After everything is done, he should have said: So that is what you thought of me?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Economy

I am honored to receive this “Blogging with a Purpose” award from Titaxy. Thank you so much Titaxy. I really appreciate it.

Yesterday, I received the following in my email. It explains how bad the economy is. I thought I should share this with our friends. Here it is:

The economy is so bad ... (How bad IS it?!)...

I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

I ordered a burger at McDonalds and the kid behind the counter asked, "Can you afford fries with that?"

If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.

Hot Wheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.

CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

McDonalds is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.

A truckload of Americans were caught sneaking into Mexico.

Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.

Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore.

The Mafia is laying off judges.

Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.

Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Oh Great!! The guy who made $50 Billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 Trillion disappear

Monday, November 2, 2009

Baseball Tickets

This week baseball fever is at its height in USA. World Series game is going on between New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. People’s interest in this World Series is similar to a T20 Cricket World Cup Final match.

World Series is decided on the best of 7 games. First two games were played in New York on October 28 and 29. The third, fourth, and fifth game will be played in Philadelphia on October 31, November 1 and 2. The sixth and seventh game (if necessary) will be played in New York on November 4 and 5. All tickets are sold out.

Susan Finkelstein

Susan Finkelstein, aged 43, lives in Philadelphia and is a great fan of Philadelphia Phillies Baseball team. She tried very hard to get tickets to go to any of the 3 games to be played in Philadelphia. She could not get the tickets. Therefore, she took out an advertisement on Craiglist. Following is the advertisement:

“Diehard Phillies fan – gorgeous tall buxom blonde – in desperate need of two world series tickets”

Philadelphia police saw this advertisement. They decided that Susan was so desperate to see her beloved team in the World Series that she offered to exchange sex for tickets. They set up a meeting with her and an undercover police officer in a bar. There was a conversation between the two of them. They did not describe the actual conversation. Other undercover police officers from the nearby tables came to her and arrested her for prostitution. She is released on bond.

Susan’s lawyer says his client is a fan of the Phillies and wanted to go and see the game. According to him, she may have dropped double entendres in her advertisement but never explicitly offered sex. If somebody read into that posting a sexual connotation, that's on them. There's no overt sexual reference.

Susan said: I did not do anything wrong. So, I am not embarrassed about my actions. I am embarrassed about how I was arrested. I was hoping to get cheap tickets. May be meet some one, and talk, and bat my eyelashes and maybe get some tickets.

She said at the end of the interview that she needed 2 tickets – one for her and one for her husband.

A local radio station heard about this. They gave Susan two tickets for free so that she and her husband can enjoy the game.

By the way, as of this morning, New York Yankees are leading Philadelphia Phillies 3 to 1.