Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"12, too young for a suicide bomber; 15 is OK."

Listening to Fresh Air today, Dexter Filkins speaks about his interviews with Taliban leaders in Pakistan, relating his book "The Forever War". Very disturbing. These Taliban "leaders" told him "We have many children come to us all the time asking to be sent over the border as suicide bombers, as young as 12. We send them home. When they are 15, that's the right age." Very Messed Up.

The Bloody, Violent, Widespread Mexican Narco War, 2006 - ?

Outside of Arizona & Texas, I am not sure how much of the US (or the rest of the world) is even remotely aware of the Narco War that is currently raging in Northern Mexico. The US State Department has warned against travel to Mexico, as well as the US Military at Fort Huachuca, Arizona University, AAA, and others. 35 Narco killings in 2006. 52 in 2007. 1100 killed in 2008. Earlier this week, the Governor of Chihuahua's motorcade was attacked by machine gun fire that killed one of his body guards. Already, in January, 100 people have already been killed in narcotics related killings have occurred in Ciudad Juarez.

"Gang-related violence has killed an estimated 5,000 people since President Felipe Calderon ordered police and 3,600 soldiers to crack down on drug cartels in December 2006." 5000 people??

There's been recent violent gun battles near the US / Mexico border, involving heavy automatic weapons fire that make the shoot out from Heat look like child's play. It's a matter of time before the violence moves further north. In fact, last June, when I was travelling (it's always when I am not home) 3 young Mexicans in body armor emptied multiple clips into a house that is less than 10 blocks from my home, and killed the man inside. I had walked right past that house on my way to a Rush Concert at Cricket Pavilion just a month prior - it's a nice neighborhood!

A Masterful Speech

If you missed President Obama's speech last night to the joint session of Congress, here's the transcript. This leader knows how to speak, frankly, directly, plainly, relating to real people. Not just rich mfs as W did. Truly an impressive address (as noted last month as well) by one who has a attained a mastery of the English language and it's use to motivate a nation.

Meanwhile, flavor of the month Jindal makes such a ridiculous republican talking-points response, the SNL version this weekend should be quite hilarious! Once again he spoke of a potential magnetic train from Vegas to Anaheim as if it was fact, when it is still conjecture. He derided "volcano monitoring" as misguided / wasteful. Hey Jindal, didja realize that NOAA monitors volcanoes??? You know, NOAA, the ones who accurately warned your state about the intensity of HURRICANE KATRINA? Yeah, we don't need ACCURATE SCIENCE to help make our lives easier and avert disasters, let's just pray instead. This types of puppets who just regurgitate the same RNC talking points without offering substantive alternatives need to STFU.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Aquila D'Oro - Delicious!

Picked up a bottle of Aquila d'Oro 2006 Toscana at Trader Joes a week ago, for a whole $4. Finished it last night. Delicious! Non-typical Italian wines are extremely under-rated. This is even better than many Nero d'Avola Sicilians I've enjoyed, in my perspective. Highly recommended.

What about Animal/human hybrids??

The last person who was President took the time in his "State of the Union" address back in 2006, to warn us of the dangers of Animal Human Hybrids that threaten the nation. I wonder what President Obama will bring up this evening, regarding this terrible menace?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How to keep feral cats out of your backyard in Phoenix

How to keep feral cats out of your backyard in Phoenix:
Dr. Desert Flower and I have two old, grouchy indoor cats. They freak out (read as hiss, spit, fight, vomit, try-to-look-huge-at-the-window) when interloping feral cats come wandering into our backyard. The neighborhood cats are drawn to our wimpy/grouchy/indoor cats at the window, the running water in the swimming pool as the pump hums, and Dr. Desert Flower's uncanny cat magnetism. So today I devised a solution to this problem that I believe will have a high degree of effectiveness.
Tools required:
- old sticks of Crisco (mine expired in 2006... we use EVOO most all of the time now)
- one large container of red pepper (cayenne pepper can be substituted)
- one trowel or paint scraper
- one 6 ft ladder
- one face mask
- one pair of vinyl gloves

Time required: about an hour of available time, on a weekend morning

Step one: stand up ladder at the corner of the ubiquitous border cinder block fence, then don vinyl gloves.
Step two: rub Crisco stick over the top of the corner cinder blocks, and 2 to 3 adjacent cinder blocks, until there is a thin film of hydrogenated vegetable oil glistening on the surface. Then, don face mask.
Step three: shake container of pepper over the surface, until no more glistening can be seen
Step four: use trowel or paint scraper to evenly spread the pepper / Crisco mixture, making sure not to leave any remnants of glistening Crisco or pepper on the neighbor's side of the cinder block's edge.
Caution: if breeze blows during steps 3 and 4, close eyes and turn head to avoid having pepper blown into eyes. Do not touched gloved hands to eyes.

Repeat steps 1-4 three more times, at each corner of the backyard cinder block fence, making sure not to spread the residual Crisco/pepper mixture on your ladder.

With this "barrier method" in place, the neighborhood cats who use the tops of the border fences as "cat highways" will find an unsavory (unless they are Cajun cats) mix of hair-ball tonic and spices on their paws, which they fastidiously clean, and will avoid coming into our back yard. Yes, they CAN leap down, and then climb back up farther away from the corners, but I've observed most of the cats are pretty lazy, and while getting down is easy, getting back up takes more work. Our old orange tabby in Indiana used to love shrimp, and would beg for it, standing on his hind legs with nose over the edge of the stove, on tippy toe. One day, Dr. Desert Flower flicked a shrimp tail covered in Cajun sauce out of the pan and onto the floor. I've never seen a cat drink so much water, after he tried to eat that tail. He also never begged at the stove again.

It gets pretty hot here in Phoenix in the summer time, but the melting point of Crisco is up around 117F. We only get that hot for a week or so in August typically, so I think the solution will last until at least then. I was going to use a tub of old bearing axle grease I had, but I figured that would be bad for the environment AND make the cats sick. That's all I need, more cat vomit in the back yard! (2 batches in the last year, cleaned up already)

Scrabble anyone?

If anyone would like to play Scrabble online sometime, I found this nice Romanian site that allows you to play. Simple download, easy install. I'm finding it quite addictive.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Good news on a Bad day

I had a rather unpleasant work day today, so hearing this story about Canadian dolphin rescuers helped to raise my spirits. 4 hours in a boat in freezing temperatures, ice breaking to help clear a path for the remnants of a dwindling pod of dolphins - Canadians are such nice people. =)

Here in Phoenix, the bright sun, light breeze, upper 70sF temperature, frequent humming bird fly-bys, and 90 minutes of poolside yoga helped to brighten it too... as will the rest of the bottle of Carménère tonight that I started working on yesterday. Maybe all of these things will help me as I reconsider my career path and the last 20 years of trying to build a career based upon technical expertise, fastidiousness, and adept problem solving, as opposed to political posturing, BS, self marketing, and theft of others' work.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Grandchildren's Money

A handy website, if you're interested:

Find projects by state or district

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

GOP Insurgency Admires theTaliban

Colbert's February 10th show's "the W0RD" was "Loyal Opposition". In it, Colbert masterfully re-tells how Hush Dimbulb and Pete Sessions (R-Taliban, TX) have been rallying Republican Insurgents, to copy the Taliban's effective strategies. I can't make this stuff up. It writes itself.
"...he was not saying the GOP should model themselves after Al Qaeda. That would be offensive. No. He was just saying the Republicans model themselves after the Taliban."
CrooksandLiars has a nice piece on it here.

Abandoned US Cities

I live in the 6th most abandoned US city. Could be worse.

41st on international relations, right behind W.H.Harrison

Professor Edna Medford, of Howard University talked about the results of the Presidential Survey she's published on NPR yesterday. The survey is done every 10 years. W ranks 41st on international relations. Dead last at 42, was William Henry Harrison, who died 32 days after his inauguration. Wow, W's legacy ranks higher, globally, than someone who spent his entire 1 month presidency suffering from pneumonia and pleurisy.

Why Bill O'Reilly does not experience cognitive dissonance

The equation is simple:
America's Right To Privacy is less than O'Reilly's need to know.
Unedited Video Here. I've been catching up on The Daily Show episodes I missed while in India earlier this month. The February 9th installment, was genius.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nicolas Sarkozy Vs Chuck Norris

Last Christmas, my son introduced me to Chuck Norris jokes. I'd not heard many of them, and they got me laughing. Well, this morning, my friend Jacques in France sent me these Nicolas Sarkozy jokes... which I think are (H)ilarious! If you are not a franco-phile, you may not get them, or you might say "those are just ripped off from Chuck Norris" - but oh contraire! I think many of them pre-date Chuck Norris's recent surge in cultural popularity, and some of them are inherently French. Enjoy:

- Nicolas Sarkozy a sauvé Alstom et il a libéré Ingrid Betancourt.

- Nicolas Sarkozy peut encercler ses ennemis. Tout seul.

- Quand Nicolas Sarkozy pisse face au vent, le vent change de direction.

- Nicolas Sarkozy peut claquer une porte fermée...

- Nicolas Sarkozy a déjà compté jusqu'à l'infini. Deux fois.

- Certaines personnes portent un pyjama Superman. Superman porte un pyjama Nicolas Sarkozy.

- Jésus Christ est né en 1955 avant Nicolas Sarkozy.

- Nicolas Sarkozy ne porte pas de montre. Il décide de l'heure qu'il est.

- Nicolas Sarkozy peut diviser par zéro.

- Dieu a dit: "que la lumière soit !" Et Nicolas Sarkozy répondit: "On dit s'il vous plaît".

- La seule chose qui arrive à la cheville de Nicolas Sarkozy. c'est sa chaussette.

- Quand Google ne trouve pas quelque chose, il demande à Nicolas Sarkozy.

- Nicolas Sarkozy fait pleurer les oignons.

- Les Suisses ne sont pas neutres, ils attendent de savoir de quel coté Nicolas Sarkozy se situe.

- Pour certains hommes le testicule gauche est plus large que le testicule droit. Chez Nicolas Sarkozy, chaque testicule est plus large que l'autre.

- Nicolas Sarkozy sait parler le braille.

- Il n'y a pas de théorie de l'évolution. Juste une liste d'espèces que Nicolas Sarkozy autorise à survivre.

- Nicolas Sarkozy et Superman ont fait un bras de fer, le perdant devait mettre son slip par dessus son pantalon.

- Un jour, au restaurant, Nicolas Sarkozy a commandé un steak. Et le steak a obéi.

- Nicolas Sarkozy a un jour avalé un paquet entier de somnifères. Il a cligné des yeux.

- Nicolas Sarkozy mesure son pouls sur l'échelle de Richter.

- Nicolas Sarkozy connaît la dernière décimale de Pi.

- Nicolas Sarkozy peut taguer le mur du son.

- Quand la tartine de Nicolas Sarkozy tombe, la confiture change de côté.

- Dieu voulait créer l'univers en 10 jours. Nicolas Sarkozy lui en a donné 6.

- Nicolas Sarkozy est capable de laisser un message avant le bip sonore.

- Une larme de Nicolas Sarkozy peut guérir du cancer, malheureusement Nicolas Sarkozy ne pleure pas.

- Quand Nicolas Sarkozy passe devant un miroir, il n'y a pas de reflet: il n'y a qu'un seul Nicolas Sarkozy.

- Si Nicolas Sarkozy dort avec une lampe allumée, ce n'est pas parce qu'il a peur du noir mais parce que le noir a peur de lui.

- Le calendrier de Nicolas Sarkozy passe du 31 mars au 2 avril. ... Personne ne fait de blague à Nicolas Sarkozy.

Ne l'oubliez jamais !

Here is a description of our National Rambo, a friend of Bush ...-) Joe, A bientot

- Nicolas Sarkozy has saved Alstom and freed Ingrid Betancourt.

- Nicolas Sarkozy may encircle his enemies. Alone.

- When Nicolas Sarkozy piss into the wind, the wind changes direction.

- Nicolas Sarkozy may slam a closed door...

- Nicolas Sarkozy has already counted to infinity. Twice.

- Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears a pajama of Nicolas Sarkozy.

- Jesus Christ was born in 1955, before Nicolas Sarkozy.

- Nicolas Sarkozy is not wearing a watch. He decides what time it is.

- Nicolas Sarkozy can divide by zero.

- God said "Let there be light!" And Nicolas Sarkozy said: "You must say please".

- The only thing that comes to the ankle of Nicolas Sarkozy. It was his sock.

- When Google can not find something, it asks Nicolas Sarkozy.

- Nicolas Sarkozy makes onions cry.

- The Swiss are not neutral, they are waiting to know which side is Nicolas Sarkozy.

- For some men the left testicle is larger than the right testicle. In Nicolas Sarkozy, each testicle is larger than the other.

- Nicolas Sarkozy can speak Braille.

- There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of species that Nicolas Sarkozy allowed to survive.

- Nicolas Sarkozy and Superman have a wrestling, the loser had to put his pants over his trousers.

- One day in the restaurant, Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered a steak. And the Steak obeyed.

- Nicolas Sarkozy once swallowed a whole pack of sleeping pills. He blinked.

- Nicolas Sarkozy pulse measurement on the Richter scale.

- Nicolas Sarkozy knows the last decimal of Pi

- Nicolas Sarkozy can touch the speed of sound.

- When the tartine de Nicolas Sarkozy falls, the jam besides it changes.

- God wanted to create the world in 10 days. Nicolas Sarkozy gave him 6.

- Nicolas Sarkozy was able to leave a message before the beep.

- A tear of Nicolas Sarkozy can cure cancer, unfortunately Nicolas Sarkozy not crying.

- When Nicolas Sarkozy passes a mirror, no reflection: there is only one Nicolas Sarkozy.

- If Nicolas Sarkozy is sleeping with a lamp on, not because he is afraid of the dark but because the dark is afraid of him.

- The calendar of Nicolas Sarkozy goes from 31 March to 2 April. ... Nobody plays a joke on Nicolas Sarkozy.

Do not forget!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cannot tell Russian from Polish

Being a Pole, you'd think I could differentiate, but 10 feet (or about 3 meters) behind me here in the Frankfurt airport, is a Slav speaking very loudly and clearly on his cell phone. Lots of "tak, tak" s... sounds Alot like the conversations I used to hear at paternal family gatherings my entire childhood... but there's so many Russian newspapers and magazines lying around here, I am thinking it may be Russian. The guy looks like a blue collar Pole, not a Russian mobster... who knows.

I could'da been bi-lingual... had not my parents been afraid of discrimination and immigrant stigma. Argh.

The door, or.... ?

In the vast Bangalore Office complex in which I worked for the last 12 days, each and every rest room door had a sign like this on the outside, seen before entry. I am Not Sure if it is intended for the door, or, as a warning of what not to do once inside. The Indian diet does include a great deal of fiber.

On the insides of the doors, were the following signs (on the men's room at least, not sure if the women were admonished about pulling) ubiquitously posted.

SO much fun, brought to you by the Indian government and Lufthansa

I just finished a scathing letter to Lufthansa Service Management. Recaro reclining seats are nice, and look fancy, they don't always work. Form over substance. Seat 26D, my lucky seat, reclined 1/2 way and stopped, at 330am, just minutes after wheels-up flight. The head flight steward, an apologetic British chap with perfect German, apologized profusely. I moved to the middle seat, 26E, only to find it reclined fully, and would no longer sit up. Lufthansa 747s have 115V outlets, that work from time to time, Perfect for draining a laptop battery, when you THINK it is plugged in, and it's slowwwwly discharging. Then, over the Black Sea, over the Crimea, again over the Carpathian Mountains they TURN ON all the overhead lights. No reason, just fun to wake up the passengers. 2 minutes later, they turn them off again. Three different times, within an hour. That's probably when my laptop's 115V power supply was being toggled off. The British steward said "everything is going wrong, 2 passengers in 1st class cannot turn off their lights, and a woman in business class's movies won't work, and now these 2 seats...." as he knelt with a flash light, wrestling the seat without any results. Upon landing, I was semi-reclined (and the plane did not crash! it's SO essential to have your seat all the up you know!)

Ok, so the flight mechanically was not a good one. Not all old 747s are created equal, I understand. My flight TO Bangalore was trouble free, can't win them all, mechanically. I get that. But why does it take 45 minutes to get a refill on a cup of tea? Why when pancakes are served, is there no syrup, jam, or honey? And when you ask for honey, it takes so long to get to you, that the pancakes are now ambient temperature. The crew was either under-staffed, incompetent, or at least extremely disorganized.

Upon exiting the warm 747 at the permanently-under-construction-Frankfurt-Airport, the British chap again profusely apologized as the bleary eyed, poorly rested passengers inched down a mobile stair case to walk across frozen, ice covered asphalt, and get into a large transfer bus. This was the kind of ice that most US work places fear so much that they spread copious amounts of salt everywhere so that people don't slip and fall. The really thin, really slick and smooth, black ice... yeah, it covered the asphalt all around the transfer bus. Not a grain of eco-unfriendly salt or FOD-causing sand to be seen anywhere. Of course, coming from Bangalore, and being forced to check my carry on - because OMG, it was 2KGs over the 8KG limit!!!! - I was dressed for 32C India weather, not -1C weather. Brilliant display of complete ineptness for a country that prides itself on process, discipline, method, and excellent quality.

My letter to Lufthansa won't get any results. Some nice German Customer Service Manager will email me, and again apologize, in perfect English, but it's not like they are going to upgrade my United Airlines "Mileage Plus" account to Gold or Platinum or something, or give me a free upgrade somewhere. It was cathartic to write it though.

Getting out of India, seriously, was a gauntlet I hope I never have to do again. My corporate AMEX card (AMEX bought GE Capital's consumer credit card business, and forced all corporate card holders to dispose of their Mastercards and take up AMEXs that don't work at most goods and service providers) wouldn't work at the hotel, or at the car-hire service I'd used for the previous 12 days. I did find a no-limit ATM that dispensed enough Rupees to pay $400 (20K Rupees) for the car driver, but the hotel bill was over 100K Rupees. Front desk had the gall to ask for another card, which I told them I did not have, and they could run a copy of my AMEX on a photocopier, or call AMEX right then and there... I wasn't going to put $2k of company expenses on my personal card, and then fight all the international fees and BS.

So I get to the airport, and 2 camo'ed and masked commandos with AKMs over their shoulders, and what looks like a 12.7mm (50 cal) machine gun with a third commando & sandbags behind them, screen all the cars. Fun! Getting into the departure door there's a guy with a Chinese made sub-machine gun, and an officer, checking "tickets" - it's an e-ticket, f*ck head; Get with the program - before allowing entry. Then, just prior to getting into the Lufthansa counter line, there's another another guy (no visible weapon this time) within sight of the door. At the counter, I get stripped of my carry on that has gifts and things that are not dirty laundry in it, and head up with my boarding pass to immigration.

Another green uniformed play solider has to check your passport and boarding pass BEFORE you get to the rubber-stamping immigration guy. Then, the standard STAMP STAMP STAMP, and they hand you back your passport (that's the fifth person who "needed" to see it). 10 feet behind the stamper, is another guy - another airport bureaucrat, no uniform, pre-middle aged, who has to check that stamper just did his job. # 6. Then, mens, and women segregated security lines... 20 feet away... # 7 gets to check # 6's work. Stripped of dignity and metal-less, I am wanded by grumpy old man. His wand doesn't make noise, so he turns up the sensitivity after the first pass. This American asshole must have SOME metal on him - the 2 little titanium vas deferens clips I got 10 years ago when I decided reproducing again is not something I want to do, actually set off his wand now, through my trousers. He glares at me... ? And then pats me down... wtf?

So 8 people have checked my passport, I think I'm done. Nope. A uniformed Lufthansa person has to see if you are in the right line.. ok.. German organization... BUT THEN, the bull shit luggage tags that security STAMPED in the x-ray line, have to be checked by more submachine gun wielding army personnel, AT the gate, pre-jet way. WTF. The gate agent scans my boarding pass - she doesn't count, that's her job, and the only way they know I am on the plane, so she doesn't get included in the count. 8 was not enough, and 9 isn't either, because JUST BEFORE setting foot in the 747, asshole # 10 has to look at your boarding pass, at the very end of the jetway. #10 is a fat, middle aged, no-uniform wearing type of bureaucrat, probably looking for Pakistanis to hassle. 10 f*cking times, my passport, or boarding pass had to be checked.

10? Really? Are the Governmental Indians that corrupt, or that incompetent, or that paranoid? or all three? I'd seen enough fire power to take over a Baghdad police station. Welcome to "Incredible India" - as the BBC advert sang praises all week. An incredible hassle, one which I hope I never have to do again at any Indian airport. Getting out of China just took paying a $50 exit tax, and one person checking your passport. 2 max. Not 10.

Now, 2 more hours here in Frankfurt, eating huge semi-tasteless bananas, drinking Spanish wine, with a well stocked liquor counter... and it's off to IAD's inane security screening and immigration in DC. Happy Happy! Joy Joy!

I'm not working tomorrow. This has been enough fun for the week.

Sorry to have vented. I feel much better now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

8lbs 6oz...

One of Ricky Bobby's fans on the road from Mysore to Bangalore India.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Bangalore Eagles than Phoenix Pigeons

One of the most amazing, and consistent sites I've had the privilege to see everyday I've been in Bangalore are the raptors. Black eagles, crest serpent eagles, black kites, all sorts of accipitrids... it is quite a site! In west Phoenix, and down-town Phoenix, the few hawks we have cannot keep up with the over-population of obnoxious pigeons. Here in Bangalore, these majestic raptors are circling, prowling, soaring, perching, all over the work campus, around and over my hotel, and everywhere I've been in Karnataka (Banglaore, Mandya, Ramanagaram, Mysore).

I've seen a distinct lack of mice, rats, pigeons, lizards, urban monkeys, and smaller birds. Also, all of the raptors have feathered heads - no vultures - that have been observed. Remarkable to see so many of these large, beautiful birds. I wish there were a few more hawks, and alot less pigeons in urban Arizona.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Zombie Survival & Defense Wiki

Thanks to my buddy Zim for this gem. I laugh everytime I see it. There's some great graphics on the WIKI page here, with riot gear troopers on Segways, forks stabbed into zombie heads, hot babes with automatic weapons. Be prepared for Z-day! Viva Humanity!

Playable online games to hone your zombie killing skills (kind of lame) and time wasters here.

Handy Currency Converter

Getting cash when outside your home country is difficult. ATMs charge you substantial fees & then give you large denominations that cab drivers and bartenders hate or refuse to accept (can you break a 50€ note with a Paris cabbie? or a 500 Rupee note in a Bangalore lunch room?). Airports and hotels are notoriously insidious for skimming currency conversion rates and short changing you. The Bangalore airport and my hotel's front desk are no exception.

For the business traveller, it's less of a problem for the individual. Every time I have to get cash on a business trip, I check the international exchange rate Here, at XE's handy site, and whatever I am short changed, I turn it in as a business expense. The XE site even has a handy "calendar" option, where you can pull down past dates of conversion rates (back to 1995), for making expense accounting less onerous.

Raw Honey, not HFCS

While in Bangalore, I've indulged in pancakes or waffles each morning at the restaurant buffet. I know I normally skip breakfast, but I am never sure of what will be coming for lunch that is low enough in capsaicin that my fore-shortened Polish GI tract can actually handle, or just a Scoville-ian nightmare. Part of the breakfast has been honey - on toast, waffles, pancakes, or just about anything.
Why the hell did I wait over 40 years, loading up with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), when I could have been enjoying all the naturally occurring micronutrients in honey? The stuff is delicious, been eaten for over 10,000 years of recorded human history, AND it is good for you. HFCS on the other hand, is mildly tasty, awesome for bringing on type II diabetes onset, has zero micronutrients, zero health benefits, and no place in normal human metabolism. Someday, what passes for future humans many centuries from now MIGHT evolve enzymes to properly process HFCS and guard against it's detrimental effects to human health, if humans don't kill themselves off first, but I don't have that kind of time left. I'm not indestructibly 18 years old anymore! =)
Stick with the raw stuff (unless you are feeding an infant), not the processed stuff. Come to visit us when I am back home, and I'll have raw honey available. This goes along with the "eat food" theory I have embraced.

HBO in India

The gigantic plasma TV in my hotel room has an HBO channel on it, which I didn't notice the first 5 days I was here because it plays commercials, and I channel surfed for all of 5 minutes. All Hindi commercials of course, for Fiat automobiles, Nescafe instant coffee, HIV testing, toilet cleaners (contains sodium hypochlorite!), 72 hour "Unwanted" pregnancy pills (called "Unwanted" , seriously), Eriksson phones, HBO, life insurance, etc. The movies (Single White Female, followed by The Chamber) are sub-titled in English - and spoken in English, like normal - with all the colorful colloquialisms removed. "Bullshit" becomes "Bull". "Those assholes." becomes "Those." "What the hell are you doing?" becomes "What the are you doing?"

A nation that freaks out with national protests when a Hollywood star kisses one of their Bollywood stars on a public stage, loves American movies, but censors the sub-titles? WTF.

Doom, dah-Doom CHA! Doom, dah-Doom CHA!

Doom, dah-Doom CHA! Doom, dah-Doom CHA! or,
dotted eighth note, sixteenth, eighth, ACCENTED eighth, repeat...
This is the sound track continually running through my head for the last week, here in India. Nearly every radio played song, video seen on TV, and Bollywood movie dance sequence has this rhythm running through it.

'It's got a good beat, and I can dance too it'. Catchy. I caught myself tapping it on my water bottle with my fingers during the 4 hour drive back from Mysore this afternoon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bangalore News Update

It's amazing what makes front page news here in Bangalore. A few excerpts, before I start my Friday:
"Bangaloreans gird up to ward off V-Day Kill Joys", The Times of India reports. This is the lead story, on the morning paper, headlined. Their local extreme fundamentalist - read "fundamentalist" as intolerant, extremist, rabid, openly judgemental - sect "Sri Rarna Sene", aka "Rashtriya Hindu Sena", headed by the charming and reasonable Pramod Mutalik, has publicly stated that "it has formed five teams. They will roam Bangalore with a video camera and turmeric stub. If they find young couples dating, they will force them too wed on the spot. 'The couples will be taken to a sub registar's office to solemnize the marriage.' " So the world's largest democracy has fanatical fundamentalists who want to impose their view points on others. Too bad I'll be back in AZ on the 14th.

"Mumbai's slums charm tourists more than Australia's sweeping scenery" - slum tourism is a new burgeoning business in India. Sick.

"Leopard Injures 4 in Kempegowda Nagar, Byalahalli" - Front page news for The Times of India hard copy. The online story has this quote that caught my eye "“I was on a stroll near my house when the leopard jumped on my face around 11 p.m. The big cat ran away as it was being chased by a group of residents,” said Lokesh, a resident of Kempegowda Layout." And Colbert thinks Bears are to be feared and "The USA Today" is the source for quotable news!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Why there are not more traffic accidents in India

I had no clue, that in crowded urban Indian cities, when someone gets in a traffic accident, the driver of the larger vehicle is subject to "mob rules" - beaten, bludgeoned, often killed, depending on the severity of the traffic accident. Senior Co-workers were discussing their close calls with angry mobs after different minor traffic accidents. The news has some really nasty reports as well.

Perhaps it is the same reason why there's little theft in Saudi Arabia - if your hand gets cut off, you think twice before taking what does not belong to you. Here in India, every driver must maintain absolute vigilance in a 360 degree perspective, looking for the millions of motorcycles, cars, buses, three wheelers, pedestrians, mopeds, lorries, and bicycles that vaguely, or generally, follow a loose set of traffic rules - Very un-British of them, divorced from Colonial rule entirely. Hit someone, even accidentally, and you could / probably will lose your life. As you stop to see if they are ok, the mob closes in around you. I am SO GLAD I am not driving!

In China, where there's no democracy and totalitarian rule has kept the masses quietly down, they don't inviscerate a driver. She just pays off the local authorities and there's little risk of losing one's life.

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

In flight to India, I finished Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food". Back in November, I mentioned starting to read it, but one thing lead to another, and I got distracted by work and other things, and the book laid around the house unread until my merged Friday-Saturday-Sunday 38 hour marathon day. Anyways, Pollan's mantra is the title of this post, "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants." ...and it is ingenious in it's simplicity and straightforwardness.

When I first encountered it, it sounded outright silly. "Eat food." What the heck else is a person supposed to eat? But Pollan defines food as follows:
- don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food
- avoid food products containing ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, or more than five in number, or that include high-fructose corn syrup
- avoid food products that make health claims
- shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
- get out of the supermarket whenever possible (as my buddy Ron does in London, going to the green grocer, the fish monger, the butcher and cheese shop, establishing a relationship with those in his food chain)
On my United Airlines flight to DC, I asked for a can of cranberry juice. I was disgusted to find the high-fructose corn syrup as the main ingredient. Ew.

The "Not too much" part is attributable to fiber and micro-nutrients, most of which modern processed food stuffs, or food like products, have taken out, for instant gratification, ease of shipment, reduction of spoilage. The "Mostly plants" part relates to all the healthy Omega-3s that are only found in chlorophyll producing plants, and animals that eat healthy plants.

So I am going to try my best, while here in India, to adopt a nearly vegetarian, or "select-tarian" diet of mostly cooked plants (to avoid the nasty digestional diseases that eating uncooked ones here would give my weak Western intestines).

And yes, eating a healthy, organic (or nearly organic), shortened-food-chain, natural diet is more expensive, and harder to do, but it will help me live longer (12 to 15 years longer), and as more and more consumers who can afford it adopt it, such foods will become less expensive for others.

I'm just disappointed with myself that it took me so many decades to realize all the yummy, processed, food-like-things I was putting into my body were screwing up my metabolism and making me less than healthy (elevating my triglycerides, hemoglobin A, insulin resistance, LDL, and screwing up my hunger hormones). Diet soda I've got down from 6 a day to 2 or 3 a month. Now, for the high-fructose corn syrup, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and other ADM, BASF, Monsanto, Dow, and other corporate conglomerate produced BS that doesn't need to be there. And if it is there, it doesn't need to be in me. When I get back, I need to find the Avondale AZ Farmer's market!