Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Eve Party?

Today is New Year Eve. Lot of people will have parties. Lot of drinks. Lot of drunk driving. It is alright. There is a funeral home in USA that has a deal for you.

Before noon Thursday, drivers can visit that funeral home to sign a contract stating they plan to drink or take drugs and then drive on New Year's Eve. If they die in a wreck that day, the funeral home will give them a free burial. Services included in the package are a casket, grave, limousine and preparation of remains. Funeral home officials said the program is designed to save lives by making partygoers think twice about drinking and driving.

Any takers for this offer?. I sincerely hope not.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My View of 2009

So many things happened in this world in 2009. I consider the following 12 events are very significant. These are my own personal views. You may even laugh at me for considering some of them as important. You may not even recognize some of the names. So here it goes:


Barack Obama, first Afro-American, was sworn in on January 20, 2009, as the 44th President of the United States.

U.S. stock markets recovered from their 2008 disaster. With only 3 days to end the year, compared to the beginning of 2009, Dow Jones Industrial Average is up by 17%, NASDAQ Composite is up by 40%, and S&P 500 Index is up by 21%. A better year financially.

Summer Bird, a horse owned by an Indian-American couple, Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman, won the prestigious Belmont race on June 6, 2009. (I wrote my first blog on this on June 8 and only one person commented and that too a month later on July 6, 2009.)

Scientists discovered water on the moon. They had long assumed the moon was dry. This will make way for growing vegetation in the moon.


Senator Ted Kennedy died on August 25, 2009, at the age of 77. As President Obama said “His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives.”

Michael Jackson, King of Pop, died on June 25, 2009. He was 50. His album “Thriller” still remains the best selling album of all time. It sold more than 50 million copies.

Ed McMahon, long time side kick to talk-show host Johnny Carson, died on June 23, 2009, at the age of 86. As Donald Trump said "America has lost one of its great icons. Ed McMahon was a terrific entertainer and a wonderful person”. When Ed had financial difficulties during the last days of his life, Donald Trump helped him.

Farrah Fawcett, actress, model, national sex symbol (to any age group) died of cancer on June 25, 2009. She was 62. Michael Jackson’s death on the same day over shadowed this sad news.

In 2009, H1N1 (Swine Flu) broke out in many countries across the globe. Fortunately major catastrophe has been avoided.

Tiger Woods Affair. Very sad. Tiger is a child prodigy. He won a putting contest at the age of 3. He is credited with popularizing the sport of golf. He is solely responsible for other golfers to get more prize money. His picture-perfect family life and his public image as a disciplined person were all shattered. For better or worse, I consider him as Man of the Year for 2009.


On February 24, 2009, a triumphant President Barack Obama addressed the Joint Session of U.S. Congress for the first time. His speech was eloquent and at the same time plain-spoken. It showed how well he reads the public.

Whenever the President speaks before the nation, American television networks give equal time to the opposition party to give a rebuttal. (I do not think this practice is followed in many countries.) This rebuttal will be broadcast live immediately after the President’s speech. The opposition party, Republican Party, chose Governor Bobby Jindal to give the rebuttal. Governor Jindal is likely to run for the President of the United States in 2016. Everyone thought this rebuttal will be an introduction of Governor Jindal to all the people of USA. But what a disappointing performance by Jindal! Boston Globe wrote: "Insane, Childish, Disaster". Even Republicans criticized his performance. Some people commented since no one wanted to stand up to Obama at that time, Governor Jindal was made a scapegoat.


Indian Government’s approval to create a separate Thelungana State. In 1956, for the first time, a new state was created based on language. Andhra Pradesh was created from the Madras State. It paved the way for creating many states based on language. If that was a bad idea, this one is worst. A state is being divided into two even though both states will be speaking the same language.

This is going to be a precedent for many more problems. Royala Seema wants to be a separate state from the proposed Thelungana State. Gorkha Land from West Bengal. Vidharba from Maharashtra. Saurashtra from Gujrat. In addition, the U.P. Chief Minister wants to divide it into 3 different states.

Mr. Karunanidhi is going to take advantage of this situation. He is already thinking of dividing Tamil Nadu into 3 different states. With Madurai as the capital, there will be Azhagiri Nadu. With Chennai as the capital, there will be Stalin Nadu. With Coimbatore as the capital, there will be Kanimozhi Nadu.

(I have a question. How did the central government approve the word “nadu” in Tamil Nadu? Nadu means country. Nadu does not mean state. Tamil Nadu means Tamil speaking country. Is there a separate country within a country? What is the motive here? After all, Karunanidhi and his party were advocating seceding South India from Indian Union and naming it Dravida Nadu. Thank God they did not have enough support in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala.)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Avatar 3D Movie

Yesterday, Christmas Day, we went to see Avatar 3D movie. This is an awesome movie.

Here is the plot. Jake Scully (Sam Worthington) is a paralyzed Marine. He was recruited for a top secret program to infiltrate an alien planet. This would give him a chance to walk again. This alien planet is called Pandora. The population is known as Navi. With some sophisticated lab work, he gets a Navi body. He can control his body through his mind. After several months of living with the Navi, Scully’s sympathies begin to shift after he falls in love with a beautiful Navi warrior girl (Zoe Saldana). My grading: C for the story.

Sam Worthington came out better than this role in Terminator: Salvation. Zoe saldana fares a lot better as a Navi.

Avatar is a solid exciting science fiction adventure. The sound is almost as amazing as the visual effects. They used the state-of-the-art 3D filmmaking techniques to create a visually stunning alien world.

AVATAR is one of the best movie experiences I have ever had.

This is a must-see film in the theater in order to fully enjoy the 3D visual effects accompanied by the incredible surround sound. After coming out of the theater we did not feel like we went to a movie. We felt like we spent more than 2 hours in the planet Pandora.

This is the 3D glass I wore in the theater. They let us take home these as souvenirs.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Decoration

Received in the Email and I am sharing with you.

“Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after two days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories. But two things made me take it down.

First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by.

Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn’t realize that it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of the many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn’t take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.”


To All My Blogging Friends: HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brittany Murphy

Brittany Murphy, actress, 32, died this morning of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles. Very sad.

She was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Her parents divorced when she was only 2 years old. Her mother raised her in Edison, New Jersey. Brittany had a very poor and sad childhood. Her mom struggled financially.

She wrote an article in the Glamour magazine. In that, she stated they were forced to eat spaghetti night after night and some nights even that was not there. She had to beg her mother to buy clothes for her at Kmart. In addition, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and survived a double mastectomy.

Brittany got her first job in Hollywood at the age 14. She starred as Brenda Drexell in the series Drexell’s Class. She acted in movies like “Clueless,” “8 Miles,” “Just Married,” “Girl, Interrupted,” “Sin City,” and “Riding in Cars with Boys,” among others. In addition, she acted in many television series. She has also given voice in many animated films.

Brittany married Screen Writer Simon Monjack in May 2007.

Such a talent is gone at this young age.

May her soul rest in peace.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ancient Sayings

I would like to write this post about an ancient Sanskrit writing and how it does not have any significance in today's world.

A Sanskrit saying from many thousands of years ago goes as follows. (Please pardon if there is a spelling mistake or a pronunciation mistake. I read this in English and not in Sanskrit.)

Uththamaa Aathmana Kyaathaa Pithaa Kyaathaa's cha Madhyama
Maathulena Dhama Sasurena Dhama Dhama

(If a person is recognized because of himself, he is the best. If a person is recognized because of his father, he is mediocre. If a person is recognized because of his uncle, he is low. If a person is recognized because of his father-in-law, he is the lowest.)

It says if someone is recognized in the street for what he/she is, then he/she is the best. For example: She is a gold medalist in our university.

If someone is recognized in the street because of his/her father, then he/she is mediocre. For example: He is our MP’s son.

(It does not address people like Jawaharlal Nehru and President John F. Kennedy. They were born to famous fathers and became more famous than their fathers.)

If someone is recognized in the street because of his/her uncle, then he/she is low. For example: She is our Managing Director’s niece.

If someone is recognized in the street because of his/her father-in-law, then he/she is the lowest. For example: He is the son-in-law of this “particular movie director”.

The above Sanskrit saying may be OK at that time when it was written. It is totally out of tune in today's world. People don't bother as to how they are recognized. They can and will say:

If my father is famous and I was born to him, it is not my fault.
If my uncle is famous and I was born in that family, it is not my fault.
If I meet a very good mannered and beautiful girl and we both fell in love and marry, don't blame me if her father is famous.

Another example of what was OK then (thousands of years ago) and out of tune today is Manusmiriti, the Code of Manu. He said a female should be protected by her father in her childhood, by her husband in her youth, and by her son in her old age. If I tell that to any woman (including my wife), she will immediately remove her shoes to hit me. I have read a little about Manusmiriti. But only in English. What he said may have been correct at that time. In his days, the world was cruel and exploitative. So he may have wanted to help women and children. Other writings by him show that he is not anti-woman. For example, he also wrote:

A house where women are ill-treated and weeping will never prosper.
If an unmarried girl gives birth to a child, it belongs to the man she is going to marry.
If a bride is pregnant at the time of marriage, the bridegroom automatically becomes the father of that child.

Pre-marital motherhood existed in ancient times? May be.

Phone is a very good example to see how things change. First there was no phone. Then phone with no numbers and you have to call the operator to give you connection. Then phone with numbers to dial. Then phone with numbers to touch. Now phone comes with us wherever we go. Had someone documented about 100 years ago how great the phone (no numbers and has to call the operator for connection) was and if we read it now.......I will leave it upto you for comments.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Customer Service

USA is considered one of the best in customer service. But the customer service here has deteriorated compared to 10 years ago. But still it is better than many countries in the world. The high level executives are more interested in top notch customer service than the actual customer service rep. Here is what happened:

On December 6 I went to a famous electronic retail store and made arrangements for a home theater installation in my home. They gave a due date of December 15 between 8 to 12 PM. I asked them to give me an earlier date if there was any cancellation. They said they would if there was a cancellation.

On December 9 evening I got a call from that store and said they have rescheduled the appointment for tomorrow (December 10) between 12 to 4 PM. On December 10, no installer came. And, no telephone calls. Therefore at 7 PM I called the store. The customer service rep did not give any satisfactory answer. He said he does not know why the installer did not show up and he would write an email the next day to the dispatcher and get a new installation date. I asked if the installer missed the due date is it not his responsibility to come the next day. He said he does not know.

After I hung up, I was so mad at the poor customer service. I wanted to do something. I could have approached the local store manager and fixed the problem. But since I was very mad, I wanted to take it to their Headquarters. I browsed through the corporate headquarters web page of that electronic store. There was a list of names of CEO. President, Executive Vice President, CFO, and other Vice Presidents. But there was no email address. Then I looked at the business card the sales rep gave me on December 6 when I first went to make arrangements for the installation. It had his email address. It is like this. Suddenly I had this idea.

I wrote an email explaining the situation. I selected the Executive Vice President’s name at random. For his email address I put I took a chance and sent that email. I thought it would come back as “mail undeliverable”. I waited for 10 minutes. It did not come back as undeliverable. Now I was glad I was able to correctly guess his email address.

I was not 100% sure if I would get any help. There are many reasons. First, if my email goes to his “spam”, he or his secretary would delete it. Second, if he is on vacation or tour, he may not have time to read my email. Then I went to bed.

That store’s headquarters is located in the East Coast whose time is ahead by 3 hours. On December 11 I got a call at 7 AM from that store’s Director of Executive Complaint Resolution. That Executive Vice President must have told the Complaint Resolution Director to take care of this problem. She profusely apologized for the inconvenience. She said she has contacted their installation manager for California and asked him to send an installer to my home immediately. She then gave her personal cell number and asked me to call her if no one contacted me by 4 PM California Time.

From 9 AM I started receiving several phone calls from several people apologizing for the inconvenience and every one promising me that they will send an installer today to my home. Finally the installer showed up at 2 PM and installed my home theater.

Here is the best part I like. That Electronic Store waived all the charges. Installation was done for free at no cost for me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Poor Judgement

His name is Larry. An Anglo Saxon White guy. He was working in our company as a junior level manager. He was a bachelor, never married. He lived with his aged mother. He was not heterosexual. Unlike some others, he never advertised his sexual orientation as a gay person. But his mother and friends knew this and accepted that fact. Of course, he had a lover. His name is Charles.

I knew him well. But he was not a close friend of mine. We have been to his house one or two times. He, his mother, and his lover have come to our house once.

Larry loved his mother to death. He took care of her daily needs with love and affection. He would cook for her every day. Made sure she had her medications every day. Daily, Larry would take her mother for walking exercise. He took her on exotic vacation twice a year. In short, he took care of his mother as if he would take care of his own newborn baby.

He never drank. He never smoked.

One day, the fate struck. His doctor diagnosed he has AIDS. He was devastated. His mother was even more devastated. As months went by, his health deteriorated. Larry weighed 200 lbs. And, after 9 months he weighed only 130 lbs. He could not go to work. Therefore, he went on medical disability. He was unable to drive his car. His lover, Charles and another close friend, Sam (a straight guy) took care of the daily needs of Larry and his mother.

Larry was becoming depressed more and more every day. One day, he took several sleeping pills in order to commit suicide. However, Charles saw this and rushed him to the hospital in an ambulance. Doctors saved his life.

Many visitors came to see him at the hospital. All of them (except Sam) were unanimous in their scolding to Larry. “Why did you do this stupid thing? Your mother is very old. Who is going to take care of her if you die? If you die, your aged mother will become an orphan. Your mother is having health problems. You are going to aggravate her condition by committing suicide.”

Larry was discharged from the hospital 3 days later. Since Larry cannot take care of himself, Sam and Larry’s mother decided to admit him in a Care Home. Care Home is a home where they take care of sick people for a fee. He was there for a week. His mother was lonely at home. Sam went there every day to see how she was doing. She knew that her son was dying of AIDS. She decided to take Larry back home. Since Larry had suicidal tendencies, Sam was opposed to this idea. Sam and Larry’s mother approached the doctor in that Care Home. The doctor refused to talk to Sam. It is the law that doctors are supposed to talk only to family members, if the patient has one.

Larry and her mother talked to the Care Home doctor. No one knew the conversation. The doctor decided to release him from the Care Home and let Larry go home with his mother.

On a Thursday evening Larry called Sam about his car insurance. Sam said he will do the needful. On Friday evening Sam called Larry at his home. The phone was ringing and there was no answer. Sam decided to go to Larry’s house on Saturday. Larry’s neighbor called Sam on Saturday morning at 10 am. He said he knocked Larry’s door and there was no answer. The newspapers have not been picked up from the patio.

Since the neighbor had the extra key to Larry’s house, Sam asked him to open the door. After 10 minutes Larry’s neighbor called Sam and informed him that Larry and his mother are dead. There is blood all over the house. Sam asked the neighbor to call the police and rushed there.

To end this post, this is what happened. The visitors who came to see him in the hospital were scolding him as to what would happen to his aged mother if he committed suicide. This was a very poor judgement on the part of the visitors. Since Larry was already depressed and loved his mother, he was worried so much about the fate of his mother in case he should die naturally or commit suicide. He finally decided to kill his own mother, before taking his life, so that she would not suffer or become a helpless orphan after his death. So on Friday he took a claw hammer (a sharp V shaped at the end) and hit his mother forcefully in the back of her head several times. Blood was forced out of her head. There were blood marks on the ceiling, on the window screen, and on the side lamp shade. She died.

Larry then went to his room. Took a blade and cut the veins in his hands, legs, and neck. He also died 20 minutes later.

This is not a fiction. This is a true story. Larry and Sam worked in our Company. I have changed the real names to protect their privacy. Couple of days later Sam came to see me and told me the whole story. I said Larry made the wrong decision to kill his mother. Even if it was right in his mind, I told Sam, he could have put a bullet into her head as opposed to beating her forcefully in the back of her head several times. Sam just wept.

The lesson: When we visit someone who is very sick, we should say some encouraging words. We should not depress more a person who is already depressed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fair Play

Last Saturday, December 5, there was a soccer match in Italy. It was an Italian Second Division match, Ascoli vs Reggina. Reggina's Carlos Valdez pulled a muscle and attempted to kick the ball out of play so he could receive treatment. Apparently, it is a time honored tradition that the opposite team will let the ball go out of play in that situation. However, in this match, a player from Ascoli intercepted the ball and passed it to another player in his team who scored a goal.

Immediately, there were protests and fights between the players. Once order was restored and the match resumed, the Ascoli players stood still and allowed Reggina to score an uncontested goal in order to be "fair". After the match, the Ascoli Manager said that the decision to allow Reggina to score an uncontested goal was a unanimous collective decision by the players. After the match, they had to hide in the changing room for more than 2 hours to avoid facing the protest from Ascoli fans.

Now Italian soccer officials have started an investigation whether Reggina's free goal constitutes a fair play or breach of soccer rules. They are also investigating whether the original goal by Ascoli is legal or not because the referee should have stopped Ascoli from scoring that goal.

A gesture of kindness has become a controversy.

Ascoli's good gesture did not bring them any luck. Reggina won the match 3 to 1.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Visit to Universal Studios

The next day, Friday, November 27, we went to Universal Studios. Any one who goes to Universal Studios will have a wonderful time. At the same time, they will be amazed at the technical marvel in film making.

We took the Universal Studio tour. They took us on an open air trolley and toured the whole studio with a live guide giving commentary. Some of the memorable things we saw were:

Wreckage from Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.
Cars used in many movies.
The famous Bates Motel (Psycho) and a guy posing as Norman.
Parting of the Red Sea
How floods are created for the movies.
Plane wreckage.
And, many more.

Then there are several other attractions available. They are:

Special Effects Stage – How special effects are created in movies.
Revenge of the Mummy – Ride
Jurassic Park – Ride
Terminator 2 – a 3D show
Shrek – a 4D show
House of Horrors – Walk through seeing horror movie characters
And, many more.

Because of the bad economic situation, if we buy a one day ticket, the studio is offering free admission for the second day (valid upto one year). Therefore, after the studio tour, we decided to see only Shrek and House of Horrors. I am sure we will be in Southern California many times within a year and we can see other attractions on our next visit.

Shrek is a 4D adventure which is exciting. It is a short film where the spirit of Lord Farquaad returns from the dead to kidnap Princess Fiona. Shrek and the donkey come to the rescue. It is 3D plus an extra dimension. This extra dimension is the “physical effects” experienced by the audience in the theater. For example, when the donkey spits, they spray a mist in our face. When another character is going very fast on a horse, the whole seat is shaking as if we are on that horse. The seats are made that way. When tarantulas fall down on the floor, we feel something is crawling on our foot.

Enjoyed it very much. Will go back again.

Before the start of the show they advised it is not suitable for pregnant women. Half of the Indian origin audience left immediately.

Then we visited the House of Horrors. We came face to face with Frankenstein, Wolf Man, Chucky, and many more characters from the horror movies. The advertisement for House of Horrors says: Get ready to scream your head off at House of Horrors. Your worst nightmares will come true as you make your way through the dark and windy terror maze. Now I understand why Insignia says “horror movies seem funny to her”.

Here are some pictures:

Entrance to Universal Studios

Car used in the movie "Back to the Future"



Rome, Italy, inside the Studio

The Bates Mansion in the Hitchcock Movie, Psycho

Airplane Wreckage

Highway 5 on the way back home. Traffic was not that bad.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Disneyland Video/Music Clips

When we visited Disneyland, I took 8 small video clips of Disney Parade at 5:30 PM and the Fantasyland and It's a Small World. I am not a technically savvy person. My technical advisor (Insignia) has her hands full. Therefore, I did not want to bother her. The entire time for these 8 clips is less than 15 minutes. I tried several methods to upload here. First I tried to individually upload all 8 clips. The Blogspot will not accept it. Then I made a movie of these 8 clips in Picasa. I tried to upload that movie. It was in upload status for more than 12 hours. Then I gave up.

I wanted to share these 8 clips with you all. I finally decided to make a web album of these 8 video clips and share this with you.

Hope you all like this. Keep your volume up so you can enjoy the music.

I will keep this web album "live" for another 30 days in case some one wants to copy these clippings.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Visit to Disneyland, Anaheim, California

This year we decided to go to Disneyland and Universal Studios during Thanksgiving holidays. We thought it will be less crowded in Disneyland on Thanksgiving Day (November 26). But we did not take into account that the previous day, Wednesday, November 25, is the most travelled day in the USA. That is the day we drove from our home to Disneyland. The distance is 356 miles (573 km). We usually cover this distance in 4 hours plus 30 minutes snack/lunch break midway. Since there was heavy traffic on Highway 5, it took us 8 hours and 30 minutes to reach our destination. We stayed in a hotel opposite to Disneyland.

At the Disneyland entrance

The next morning we went to Disneyland. We have been there many times. Therefore, we have decided to visit for only one day and see those attractions that we did not see before. We were expecting a long line to purchase the tickets. But to our surprise there was no line in the ticket counter. We bought the tickets and went inside.

Since it was a Thanksgiving Day, there was a special Turkey Parade at 10 AM. It was very colorful.

Special Turkey Day Parade

We first visited Pirates of the Caribbean. Even though it was less crowded in the Park, we had to wait for 30 minutes in the lines to see this. The ride is built underground and it is filled with water. We travel in small boats and see the exploits of the treacherous Captain Jack Sparrow who is going after the buried treasure. The special effects and the way the story is told in the very Disney style are awesome. The 2003 Movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” is based on this Disney attraction.

A snapshot from inside the "Pirates of the Caribbean"

After this, we decided to visit the Haunted Mansion Holiday. This is available from September to January only each year. This incorporates Tim Burton’s story “A Nightmare Before Christmas”. We are supposed to scream and shout as we see the ghosts. Of course, there were lots of screams in the dark by many visitors. We, personally, were disappointed. We think Chamber of Horrors in Madame Tussauds in London is much better than this.

Outside the Haunted Mansion

Then we took a ride on the sailing ship Columbia. This is the exact replica of the first American ship to sail around the world. The ship sails through the “Rivers of America”. There is a museum in the lower deck. We can see the ship employees’ (Captain, Crew, and Doctor) quarters and the galley. For this ship, they use the same U.S. flag that was used in 1787.

On the deck of Sail Ship Columbia

It is now 2:00 PM. We left the park to have some lunch and take a break. They put a stamp on your left hand which will enable you to reenter the Park.

We got back in the park around 5:00 PM. They have 2 daily parades. One at 2:30 PM and another at 5:30 PM. We saw the second one. We videotaped portions of the parade with our digital camera. It was very fascinating.

Then we took the Disneyland Railroad to tour the entire park. It is one of the most popular attractions. It has 4 stations. The Main Street, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown, and Tomorrowland. You can get down at any station. Or, you can keep riding all day in this train. Between Tomorrowland and Main Street, we can see Grand Canyon and Primeval World.

Finally, before watching the fireworks, we went for the most popular attraction “It’s a Small World”. There was a 45 minute wait. If it was a regular day, the waiting time would be around 2 hours. It is a boat ride. It is located in the Fantasyland area. The boat goes softly and smoothly and you can witness more than 300 brightly costumed dolls and animals sing the following song:

It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small small world

The costumes represent more than 100 nations. The dolls sing this song in 5 languages. It is a wonderful and unforgettable experience. It will make you come back here more and more.

Dolls inside the "It's a Small World"

At 9:25 PM the fireworks began. It lasted 17 minutes. One simple word to describe these fireworks. Spectacular. This and It’s a Small World will make you come back to Disneyland again and again.