Thursday, December 24, 2009


Last night, after I went to bed I was woken up around 11:30pm by Leena yelling...  I opened my eyes and saw she had the front door open and was yelling out into the stairwell at someone.  After she closed the door I groaned "HUH?" and she told me Mrs. R's servants were out there drilling and hammering something, so she yelled at them to not make noise like that so late at night when people are trying to sleep.

Then this morning when she went to go out running errands, one of her car tyres was completely flat.  One that was completely full yesterday evening when she and the watchman cleaned the car, after which the car didn't move an inch.

She got the car to her family's house, after lots and lots of people stopped her on the road to tell her not to drive it that way, and had one of her family's servants take the tyre to be repaired.  He came back with it fixed and a broken key that had been stuck into the tyre to its full length!

And this isn't the first such coincidence.  Most of the times if Leena asks any of the neighors' servants and workers to make less noise, at hours reasonable enough to ask them to make less noise, usually late at night or very early in the mornings, then there's usually new scratches on the car.

It's just one more reason I want to get away from here, someplace where this sort of thing doesn't happen, where neighbors, even if they don't like each other, at least have a bit more respect for one another.  And there aren't a bunch of uncouth assholes who take petty revenge against reasonable requests.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shakespeare, kick-in-the-rear...

My first exposure to Shakespeare was as a little kid in Piscataway, when we used to chant "Shake spear, kick in the rear!". Not that any of us had a clue what that meant.

Then there were the two plays I had to read in different English classes in high school. Those were awful experiences. My freshman year we had to read Romeo & Juliet, which maybe it's a great play, but let's face it, even though 13 year old boys like I was were all lusting after the girls, but we had zero interest in romance...

My sophomore year we had to read Julius Caesar, which with violence and bloodshed had an appealing sound to it. But reading it in class was just a terrible. We sat in rows and each person read a line then it moved on to the next. We had students from the drama club who read their parts with great skill and emotion and we had kids who struggled to sound out big, complex words, like "there" and "Cay, Cay, Cay-E, Cay-E-Sar". And me, I'm a lousy performer so I'd spend the whole time nervously counting students and counting lines to try and figure out which was going to be mine so I could memorize it quickly and get through it as absolutely fast as possible, then panic whenever someone shortly before me would end up reading two lines instead of one, throwing off the count.

By the end of those I never wanted to read or see Shakespeare again in my life, and associated Shakespeare with fear, panic, embarrassment and boredom.

After I started my career in Portland, in the early 90's though, my mother bought season tickets to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Portland, which every year included five or six plays from various authors and one Shakespeare comedy. Those comedies ended up being hilarious and were the ones I looked forward to every year.

Since then I've planned to read a comedy, but never got around to it till a few months ago when I picked up The Comedy of Errors.

I've seen the play performed and thought it was a whole lot of fun, as well as a few movies with similar plots. Unfortunately, once I got into reading it, it was awfully boring. And I realized that by itself there's not much, it really needs performers to bring it to life. I was left quite disappointed.

For quite some time I've read lots of books or seen movies that refer to other Shakespeare plays, mainly dramas, Hamlet, Macbeth (like Scotland, PA that is a modern retelling of it) and others and they've become more interesting. But I think the one that affected me the most was Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson in which one of the characters narrates, to us readers, about how he studied one play in which you can see the fortunes of two characters one going up and one going down, crossing like a big X right in the middle.

So not knowing them very well, I picked up Hamlet, which is one of the names I'm most familiar with. I was disappointed that it was Macbeth that had the witches I wanted to read about, but I can read that later. Unlike A Comedy of Errors, it turns out Hamlet has a good plot, good story and good characters.

Hamlet was a good story to read, and stood on its own without performers.

Now I'm looking forward to reading some more. Definitely I see Macbeth when I next get to a bookstore that has it, and I should dig out Blue Mars and try to find which one Robinson refers to (Richard something or other?).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bloody Mac OS X Snow Leopard...

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard...

I just got my Snow Leopard
package delivered this week... Leena had a relative pick it up from an Apple store in Toronto, and give it to another friend of the family there to carry it here to India for me....

The install went nice and smooth, even though the main monitor on my 13" MacBook is malfunctioning, making some of the text hard to read.

After installing I switched the desktop wallpaper to the new Snow Leopard picture, since I like kitty cats.

But the bad monitor, because some of the pixels are funny, displays funny contrasts, some colours are indistinguishable, some really stand out, and some are just plain weird (why is the snow purple?)

What stood out in this case, was the blood on the right side of the cat's mouth!

A digital photo of the bad screen itself showing this satiated pussy cat...

While the above picture is a small, cropped part of the original image supplied by Apple...

And the box itself, it looks like it's been retouched so there's no sign of blood there... That image is available at the Apple Store....

Oh well, a quick Google search turns up I'm not the first to notice this, either...

So, Apple, was Windows 7 a tasty morsel?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tears Are Falling

I've noticed over the last couple of years that I'm crying a lot. Not really crying out of being sad (although sad parts of books really do have that effect on me (probably none more than The Children of Húrin)), but my eyes water a lot. It happens most if I'm tired, if I have a migraine, if I'm yawning, if I'm really staring intently at the computer screen, or if I'm at my desk looking up and talking to someone who's standing above me. Every time I blink tears come out of my eyes. I wipe my eyes on my hands which come away quite wet.

But then I recently remembered my mother had the same problem at about the same age. She was a high school teacher at the time and was so used to just dabbing her eyes with a tissue that she almost forgot about it, until another teacher brought a student to her to make him apologize for making her cry. Then she realized what everyone thought.

She ended up having surgery to remove a big chunk of some calcified something or other (e.g. similar to a kidney stone) that was blocking a tear duct, so all the normal tears had to leak out her eyes instead of going where they're supposed...

I suppose I should get it looked at, too, at some point. Who knows, maybe the surgeon can stuff me up with the same kind of cocaine pack she got...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Walking to the A.T.M.

I did my usual trip to the ATM this morning. I've never liked standing in line at those machines and in the U.S. did my banking in the wee hours of the morning whenever I could (real convenient back when I walked past them on my way to to work at 3am).

Nowadays, it depends on how soon Leena needs the cash. If she needs it right away we'll go after work some evening, or on the way home from Saturday lunch at her parents.

If I have my way, I stay up all night on a Saturday and walk down there between 5am and 7am on Sunday morning. That way there's less traffic to scare me, a bit less heat and usually no line at the ATMs.

The worst aspect is the stench. From about the exit of my apartment building all the way to the ICICI branch in Kalyani Nagar, the whole place stinks of sewage. About the only part that doesn't is where there's so much rotting garbage that it overpowers the sewage smell. There isn't even a dumpster there anymore, it's been gone for a few weeks, but people still throw their trash there anyway.

And the sidewalks are always covered in dog crap everywhere, and frequently a lot of what looks and smells (even from a bit of a distance) like vomit. I have walk around it all, which often means stepping out into traffic on the street, since I don't want to track any back in my apartment. Ick.

One thing that makes me uncomfortable about walking to the ATM is the number of watchmen who watch me walk past their posts at each building, and probably guess that on my return I'll have a pocket full of cash. They don't make me feel particularly safe.

Sometimes, if I remember to carry small change, I'll get a nice, fresh nariyal pani from the seller if he's set up at the entrance to Joggers' Park.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Small Building in Kalyani Nagar

Maybe part of why I'm having such a bad experience living in Kalyani Nagar is because of which part of it we live in... I don't live in one of those fancy, new complexes, like Fortaleza or Marigold (although before moving here, we booked a flat there, but then I started getting nervous about the idea of borrowing money from a bank and spending my future paycheques, paying interest and all that (but now that I've worked on mortgage software for a few years I do understand it a little better)).

Instead we live in a big flat in a relatively small building near the top of a sloped, dead-end side lane, one parallel to East Street that connects Nagar Road to the bridge to Koregoan Park.

Our building, Keshava Chotani Mansion, has just eight flats, owned by seven families (the one who owns two also owns a third in the next building). About half the people who own flats here didn't buy them here, they bought ones in a fancier building the builder was making a decade or so ago, but he ran out of money to finish that and gave them these flats as a "take this or lose all your investment" sort of deal. One flat was given to the plumber in exchange for him finishing up the plumbing in the building.

Unfortunately, the builder didn't have enough to finish all the legal paperwork for the place, so there are no completion certificates, no legal society, none of the usual stuff.

None of us flat owners can agree on how much to pay a month for maintenance (hardly any of us even speak to each other). Some want it to be a flat fee for everyone, others want it to be based on square footage, and everyone thinks a different amount either way is reasonable. The few times we do come to an agreement, though, half the flat-owners simply don't pay it at all, one says he'll only pay it if we agree to repaint the building (but he won't agree on an amount high enough to afford that!). Consequently, our building is crumbling, our water pump breaks frequently because we get the cheapest repair, the elevator can't be maintained, the building is filthy, we're in arrears with the electric company, and we can't afford an even borderline competent watchman.

On either side of us are two slightly bigger buildings, Madhusudan A and B, built around the same time by the same builder, with the same architectural style. Both are set back from the street a little further than ours, with a wider parking area at the front, so our bedrooms line up with the parking lots and balconies of of the first floor flats in those buildings.

Madhusudan A is slightly farther from us, so there's space in the middle for the driveway leading to Peacock Palace, behind us. And Peacock Palace about the size of all three of these first ones. It's much newer and blocks the view from the back apartments in our building of the famous Aga Khan Palace.

Across the street at the end of the lane is Siddharth Enclave, a big, blocky building in some sort of vague, fake neo-Roman architecture style. I think it's ugly and doesn't fit the area, and looks even worse after they knocked off the triangular bits at the top to make flat terraces, which fit the area but not the rest of the style of the building itself.

Maybe things would be better in one of the big societies. But since we own this outright, with no mortgage or anything, moving out isn't a trivial thing. And given how homesick I am at this point, that wouldn't really make me happy, just a little less unhappy...

Here's the front of Keshava Chotani Mansion, with Madhusudan A in the background. That's our flat on the first floor with the wide balcony. The nose of our former car is just barely visible near the right inside our parking spot.

And here's Peacock Palace behind and Madhusudan B to the left of us, and our watchman on the ladder cleaning the debris dropped on our air conditioner from renovation by our upstairs neighbors... Leena supervising and the stupid maid probably just doing anything to avoid her own work. The gulmohar tree is one of many planted up and down the street by my mother-in-law years ago, when she first bought this flat for an investment.

And here's Siddharth Enclave from our driveway... The metal wall is visible from East Street when the gates of the construction next to Bishop's School are open (usually for people to dump garbage in the open pit some construction crew dug for a foundation of a building that's not being built).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mrs. R strikes again... Noise, noise, noise...

Ug. I'm on the verge of collapsing today, migraine and a loss of sleep... I can't even see the computer screen clearly, it's wavering in front of my face.

Unfortunately, it was our neighbor, the horrible, wicked, nasty, bitter Mrs. R. again...

The 12 days of mourning rites are still going on in her apartment for her recently deceased husband. Last night was some big event and in the afternoon the caterers came in one of the loudest Tempos I've ever heard. I tried to scream over its noise, but couldn't hear myself.

They made noise cooking till pretty late, or at least, later than I stayed up. I slept in the bedroom on the other side of the apartment, and closed all the windows so it wasn't too bad. The Tempo never came back again in the night, otherwise I don't doubt I would've woken up.

But then at 4am in the morning they started making noise in the stairwell, bringing the gas cylinder down to the elevator, banging it on every step outside our door (our elevator only goes to every other floor, since the front and back floors are staggered).

Then under our master bedroom the caterers and the guests' drivers started hollering, ordering, banging, clanging, scraping, pounding, grinding and almost any other cooking sound imaginable. A deafening racket with no escape on either side of the building.

A couple of times when they were yelling to each other I opened the window to "sssshhhh" them (which was a sign I was really pissed off, I'm normally too shy for that sort of thing) but either they never heard me or the one time one looked up, shook his fist at me and yelled a nasty vulgarity (one that one of my friends taught me before my first trip to India, which others said I'd better not use unless I was armed to defend myself...)

When I left for work and opened the bedroom door, Leena was wide awake and looked awful, not having had a wink of sleep for hours, due to all the noise, and not having gone to bed as early as I did...

Many other neighbors (or at least the ones we're on speaking terms with...) have complained to Leena about Mrs. R. and her guests taking over the building. People come out of their flats to find drivers and servants sleeping by their doors, in the lobby, in the parking area, on the roof, all over the place. The ones living below Mrs. R. mentioned that all night Mrs. R. and her guests, other family, probably, talk and shout and fight late into the night over Mr. R.'s will, everyone believing they're entitled to more and everyone else entitled to less...

Back when Mrs. R. ran the building society she called the police if other people's guests parked inside the premises and she hated anyone else's people making noise. Now that she doesn't, it's her staff that are some of the most obnoxious around. We sent her a note a couple of years ago politely asking her to ask her staff not to drink, smoke, play cards and talk loudly late into the night in her garage, which is right under our master bedroom. She didn't reply directly to us, we got a letter from her lawyer telling us if we persisted in false accusations she would sue us in court.

I'm tempted to ask her, if I see her, "who died and made you queen?". It's easy to riff on death-oriented jokes when you've been betrayed, offended and insulted by the widow, for whom you've lost all respect...

Monday, November 30, 2009

The week from hell in Kalyani Nagar (Nov 23-29...)

I had a crazy week. There are crazy ones, and then there are ones like this one, when it's all so clear, my neighborhood is simply an overflow center from the nearby mental hospital.

I guess things started getting bad around Tuesday night... Leena picked me up from work Tuesday and told me about a goat in our building that Mr. C. got as an Eid al-Adha sacrifice (he's a Muslim, despite having a very non-Muslim last name) and how the watchman was appointed goatherd for the week to deal with it.

Tuesday night around 3am or so some of the feral dogs on the street (yes, in Indian cities there's packs of feral dogs all over, probably thriving because it's tropical, no cold winter to kill them off, and Indians in general litter like crazy so there's plenty of food there for the dogs, and plenty of rats as well) attacked it, wherever it was nearby. Dogs barking and growling, a goat bleating and screaming, and eventually joined by men yelling while they tried to break the dogs away...

If only that was the worst, it wouldn't have been such a rotten week...

Tuesday there was a big, huge, pink festival sort of tent in the next building's parking lot, a sure sign of noise to come. The buildings are very close, so that's like right underneath our window. Tuesday night there was lots of banging and clanging as caterers were setting up folding chairs and dropping trays of silverware and all that kind of thing. (And I must be turning into one hell of a curmudgeon to be upset by happy events, like weddings...)

Wednesday night we heard crying pretty nonstop from Mrs. R.'s apartment, and lots of people coming and going with the door wide open. It was sad sort of crying, which is unusual since about the only time we hear her is when she's screaming in anger at servants, laborers, neighbors and police officers... We guessed, and later confirmed that Mr. R. died.

Thursday morning was by far the worst... My morning nap was interrupted early by Mrs. R.'s guests' drivers outside yelling and washing cars and making a lot of noise.

And then a little before dawn Mr. C. drunkenly roaring at the watchman to get his goat back here immediately. So, the goat came back, and I don't know if it was pain, cold, hunger, boredom or just wanted attention but it was screaming and bleating almost nonstop. Probably not hunger because it would stop occasionally to eat some leaves around, then scream some more, and probably not cold because it's not that cold for a furry animal. At one point even Leena woke up yelling "if that fucking thing doesn't shut up I'm gonna to kill it myself."

Oh, but even that got drowned out eventually, a little before 8am... That's when the band for the wedding under the pink tent started warming up. Like most bands in India that play at weddings and festivals, they have no skill, they're probably doing it because their father did it, and his father did it... It was just the trumpet players and the drummers getting warmed up, and none of them playing the same song at the same time or the same speed so it was just cacophonic noise, and deafeningly loud, echoing off all the buildings with not a quiet spot in the apart.

One Thanksgiving that I was thankful to go to work!

Even now Mrs. R.'s guests' drivers are still making noise all around the place, with nothing to do but talk, and for laborers, talk is never done in a quiet, conversational tone of voice, always yelled across the yard. At least as the weekend wore on it seemed to be wealthier and wealthier visitors, as Mercedes Benz cars don't make as much noise as Marutis...

The goat was screaming until Saturday afternoon, when after a few really, really painful ones it was quiet. Shortly after that I saw some guys loading what appeared to be wet butcher blocks onto their motorcycles and ride off, so I assume that was finished. The gossip amongst the servants is that Mr. C. did it far back in his yard, right under Mrs. R.'s apartment and called her name for her attention before slaughtering the goat, just to offend her, since by religious she's a strict vegetarian who doesn't kill things, and a freshly grieving widow...

While hardly anyone gets along in this building, the two of them have the most raging, long running feud going on that's left each of them slightly bloodied over the years from physically fighting. It's their feud that brings the police here more than any other.

I've been so stressed out this week that I've broken down and hit the chemicals... Potato chips, mainly. I was doing good for a few weeks at not eating any and getting slightly less chubby, but when it gets stressful resistance is just so much harder... I come home from work and just stuff my mouth with that junk and it's like an instant touch of relief with the crunch and the salt. But even a few days of that and I feel fatter and have more trouble breathing and pimples...

On the more ironic front, last week I began to read Hamlet for the first time. On Wednesday I read the scene in which Claudius tells Hamlet:

'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature Hamlet,
to give these mourning duties to your father:
But you must know, your father lost a father,
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation, for some term
To do obsequious sorrow.
An understanding simple, and unschool'd:
For, what we know must be, and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense...

And then a few hours later, the commonness showed, and a neighbor died.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Update on the Filthy Yard Across the Street

A couple of weeks ago I walked out and found that the yard has been cleaned up a bit. The rubble and the shrubs have all been removed and the area now looks flat. There's a gate in front with some watchmen there all the time.

And a sign at the entrance that says Dana Builders.

Builders... Uh oh... That means new construction, doesn't it? Leena's father, who keeps up with these things around town, says there's going to be a high rise apartment building going in there...

I wrote a haiku about it:
East, a new building
The end of the morning sun
No more rising moon

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Made for India?

One of the problems we have over and over is with a couple of CD players manufactured by big, reputable companies and sold here in India. Clearly they intended them for India since they came directly from the manufacturers, sealed in the boxes with Indian power cords.

But what we've found is that simply having an Indian power cord does not make the component actually made for India.

The first one we got was a Sony 3 disc CD changer system. Which is okay, but the big problem is that if the power ever goes out while it's in the process of switching discs then it jams and has to be taken to the repair shop to get unjammed. While this sort of thing might be fine in another country where the power goes out once or twice a year, usually in the middle of the night when it's less likely to be used, here in India where the power goes out multiple times a day, this is clearly not made for India.

The other one is a Bose tabletop CD player. Again, we bought it from the Bose dealer in Mumbai. It's big problem is that the slot loader jams with almost every Indian manufactured CD we put in it. Whether it jams when try to put it in, taking a little extra force, or we have to use a knife to try and pry them out when we're done, almost every CD manufactured in India gives us problems (of course, the general quality of goods manufactured in India is a topic for another rant). Sure, the problem is that the Indian CDs themselves feel slightly lighter, or often slightly off-center and often have somewhat ragged edges, but if a CD player can't handle them, it is clearly not made for India.

But if a product is made for India, it should be designed with these sorts of factors in mind. The manufacturers should test with Indian conditions and Indian products.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wait. Wait. Wait... Did you see it? Did you blink?

My wife has a Plantronics Bluetooth headset and I just saw it charging on the floor and was reminded of how bad the UI for charging is.

The way it works is you plug it in, and while it's charging the red LED will flash on for a moment about once every 15-20 seconds. Not much longer than the blink of an eye. When it's done charging, it no longer flashes on.

What's really wrong with this is that in order to tell if it's charging or not, you can't just glance at it and see, you have to watch it. And even if you feel like you waited enough for the flashing light, maybe you blinked and missed it, so you have to wait longer.

A better UI would be to simply show the light while it's charging. Of course that has the downside that maybe if the light doesn't show it means it's not plugged in, or the switch is off.

Even better is it could flash more rapidly while it's charging and then stay on steady when it's finished. That way you can easily tell. Or two colours, one for charging and one for charged.

The way it is now stinks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Maharashtra State Electric Board Sucks

That's another thing that's been increasingly frustrating, all the power failures here. The first year or so I thought it was kind of neat, a reminder I was living somewhere exotic and tropical, but over the last few years it's just gotten annoying. Maybe that's because the adventure has worn off, and maybe because I have Leena's frustration added to mine with it. It's worse for her because she really likes to watch TV and mostly likes food heated in the microwave.

And side effects of all the power failures fall on her... The MSEB is simply bloody incompetent. Last year was really bad, with the power out for seven scheduled hours a day for a good bit of the year, and this year was okay till a couple of months ago when the summer just wore on and on, when it's gotten unreliable with a lot of random outages.

I got upset when I found out that a portion of the power bill is fixed, so they continue to charge us that even when they don't provide service.

And we have other problems, unrelated to the power failures they rarely ever deliver a bill to us, the courier usually returns them because they can't find our address. Leena goes to the MSEB office almost monthly to get them to print a bill, but when the power's out they can't use their own branch office computers to look up our bill or print one.

But don't worry, their system that calculates late fees and interest has full UPS or generator backup!

Even if we get a bill one way or another, it's usually wrong. It turns out that if the power is out when the meter reader comes by to read the meter, then they give us an estimated bill, because they supplied us with a new, modern, fancy LCD digital meter, that doesn't display anything when the power's out...

And frequently the bill is wrong because somehow we keep shifting between residential and commercial status, which costs a lot more and a few times a year Leena has to make a few trips to their office (even more if the power's out) in order to get them to rectify that and recalculate it at residential rates.

Two years ago we got a gigantic bill, way out of proportion for the power we were using, like 30 times the normal bill. When Leena went to their office to inquire about it they said it was all late fees and interest because we hadn't been paying the full bills every month for several years, which of course surprised us mightily as we always paid the amount they billed us... With several trips there and hours and hours waiting, they figured out that the problem wasn't that we paid less than the bill, but that they were billing us less than they should've, but at least one computer was keeping track of the full amount the whole time. At first they told us we'd just have to pay it because we were late but Leena managed to fight it out with the managers and supervisors and point out that it was their fault we didn't get correct bills, we paid the amount they charged us in good faith.

And this is the power company supplying power to a major high-tech city in India?

And I come from a place where electricity has been more reliable than this for, oh, not long, maybe just a century. I miss the reliability, and the assumption that a bill is probably right, instead of probably wrong.

A lot the people at work have loud phone calls and then miss days or half days for similar work, with the MSEB, BSNL or their banks, all of which give them incorrect bills or statements, almost always to the institution's advantage. I guess part of what I'm tired of is that here in India, problems and failures like that are the norm, rather than the exception. And I miss a life where most things go smooth with only the occasional screw-up, and bills are probably right, instead of probably wrong.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quality of Life

The other day a coworker sent me an article about lots of educated Indian and Chinese workers leaving the U.S. to return to India and China. In it they gave reasons like earning more money at home and a better quality of life in India and China.

That got me thinking, how does one define quality of life?

Certainly I feel my quality of life in India is far, far lower than in America. But maybe I just miss America, where I grew up.

Comparing cultures, Indians are raised to take care of their parents when they get older, and the article mentioned some of the Indians interviewed considered that a major factor to return to India, because their parents needed them. Along with raising their kids to be Indian, instead of American.

Of course, as an American, I can't really imagine that. My parents are far better off than I am, and probably more capable of taking care of themselves than I am. If they relied on me for care, it'd be a disaster because I don't have the faintest clue how to handle anything like that (unless it involves reading on the couch all day...).

And there must be some differences in values. The returning Indians may feel quality of life involves having household servants to cook, clean and run errands, which to me, having observed my wife and mother-in-law at this for some years, seems a lot more stressful than simply doing it myself.

But to me, quality of life involves things like reliable running water, reliable electricity, not walking on a street covered with cow shit just to get to work.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Filthy Yard Across the Street

Ok, so after ranting and raving about the disgusting, filthy yard across the street that's used as a garbage dump and toilet, it's changing.

I noticed the watchmen hanging out there every morning all week and just assumed they were, well, hanging out there. But yesterday when I walked past I realized they're actually there guarding the place, and it's changed a bit.

They've gotten rid of most of the rubble and cut down all the shrubs growing like weeds. Which looks like an improvement, until I saw the sign for some local construction company, barely visible by the side of the entrance, behind the wall.

Now that's bad news!

What that means is they're going to build something there. That means there's going to be three to nine months of jackhammers, right there across the street, while they dig the foundation. Then months and months, maybe years of construction work, with workers yelling, hollering and staring into our apartment as they walk up and down. Trucks delivering at all hours, with workers yelling and hollering and clouds of diesel exhaust blowing into our windows. All of them probably throwing more garbage on the street right in front of our apartment, too...

And the end result will be a taller building across the street from us, blocking our direct east view. That means no more morning sun, no more rising moon, just another ugly building right in our face.

Kalyani Nagar sucks!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kalyani Nagar Sucks

I've come to the conclusion that the neighborhood where I live, Kalyani Nagar, is the worst place, the noisiest, the dirtiest and the place where the neighbors have the utter most disregard for each other than any other place I'e ever lived.

The noise is virtually nonstop... Ever since we moved here, into our own flat, in 2004, there's been virtually nonstop construction of nearby buildings, and nonstop renovation of flats near ours. There's been a few days, very few, when there isn't the sound of jackhammers, diggers, grinders, saws, drills, hammers and workers yelling.

And vehicles, vehicles, vehicles... So much noise, all the time, any time, day and night... Almost every individual vehicle here makes more noise than a freeway full of them in the U.S. and on our narrow, little street they just go up and down. Just describing the vehicular noise is plenty for another post...

And workers yelling up and down the street to each other, the watchmen yelling across the street to each other instead of just meeting up somewhere and having a normal conversation. The loudest of the door-to-door vendors are the broom salesman and the knife sharpener, just yelling, yelling, yelling as they go up and down.

This street is filthy... Litter everywhere. The worst is probably the yard with the swimming pool, directly across the street from us. It's a small pool and pool house, using less than half the yard. Before it fell into disuse all the construction workers nearby tossed their debris, concrete chunks, bricks, etc. into the yard, so it looks like a quarry or something. But since they stopped cleaning and filling the pool, maids from nearby apartment have been throwing bags of household garbage over the wall into the yard, the workers from the nearby auto garage have been throwing their garbage, used tired, old parts, food wrappers, etc. into the yard by the entrance.

And to top it all off, if it wasn't ugly enough, the workers from new construction on the street have been using the yard as their toilet. I'm sure it's not their fault their employer doesn't give them proper facilities to use, but still, it's what we see all day when we look out from our balcony, people using the yard for a toilet. When I walk to the rickshaws in the mornings, I have to hold my breath from when I get near our apartment building's gate till I get past that yard on my way down the street. It stinks of sewage, it's sickening.

And, to add to it, between the feral dogs and the few herders who bring their cattle, goats and sheep up and down the street to graze wherever there's grass, the street is often covered in animal waste. Ick!
I often see elegant ladies walking on the street with dainty sandals and wonder how they can do that? Aren't they disgusted?

Never have I lived in a place where the neighbors were so inconsiderate of each other. Not just the lack of thinking about things, like honking the horn to wake the watchmen at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am or whenever. But more willful inconsideration...

We live on the 1st floor, right above the parking, and regularly our 4th floor neighbors come down to their vehicles but forget the key and yell up to whoever's in their apartment to bring the key down. We asked them if they could avoid doing that, especially in the middle of the night, but they said they can't stop, they must do that. We asked, them, too, if they could possibly not honk their horn in the middle of the night when coming or going but they simply said "that's the only way we can wake the watchman".

Of course, those are some of the nicer of the bad neighbors... And more is another story for another rant...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How the Neighbor Says "Good Night"

Got woken up around midnight by honking horns, almost asleep again at 1am when the neighbor's daughter came home with some friends in a four door car. Their good bye in the driveway was like: *talk* *talk* *talk* "bye" "bye" "good night" *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *talk* *talk* *talk* "good night" "bye" "bye" *rev* *rev* *rev* *rev* *honk* *honk* *rev* *honk* *honk* and stop.

Then *talk* *talk* *talk* "bye" "good night" "bye" *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *talk* *talk* *talk* "good night" "bye" "bye" *rev* *rev* *rev* *rev* *honk* *honk* *rev* *honk* *honk* and stop.

Then *talk* *talk* *talk* *talk* *talk* "bye" "bye" "good night" *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *slam* *talk* *talk* *talk* "good night" "bye" "bye" *rev* *rev* *rev* *rev* *honk* *honk* *rev* *honk* *honk* and stop.

How they can slam doors in a four door car so many times, I don't know... But they do it frequently...

Book Shopping on Sunday

I went book shopping on Sunday to Landmark in SGS Mall for my couple-of-times-a-year shopping and picked up a load of books. Mostly fiction with a few software development books tossed in for fun.

  • "Song of Kali" by Dan Simmons - I've actually read this before and some of it is incredibly chilling. The best was when one character was describing his initiation into a secret Kali-worshipping cult and says that unlike most idols of Kali, the one in the temple had no severed head dangling from her fingers, and the new novices all knew there would be one by the end of the night.
  • "Queen of the Damned" by Anne Rice - One of my two favorite vampire tales.
  • "Diary" by Chuck Palahniuk
  • "Absurdistan" by Gary Shteyngart
  • "2 States" by Chetan Bhagat - Bhagat is incredibly popular in India and it looked like half the people at the checkout were buying this, his brand new one. All of his books, so far, have a number in the title.
  • "Conan Chronicles I" by Robert Jordan - I've read these all before, and Jordan is amongst the best of the pastiche writers. His Conan stories are certainly not Howard's, but hey, they're not bad.
  • "Conan Chronicles 2" by Robert Jordan - I've read these all before, and Jordan is amongst the best of the pastiche writers. His Conan stories are certainly not Howard's, but hey, they're not bad.
  • "King Rat" by China Mieville
  • "Priestess of the White" by Trudi Canavan
  • "Last of the Wilds" by Trudi Canavan
  • "Voice of the Gods" by Trudi Canvan
  • "Bone in the Throat" by Anthony Bourdain
  • "Gone Bamboo" by Anthony Bourdain
  • "Bangkok Tattoo" by John Burdett
  • "Divine Justice" by David Baldacci
  • "Tall, Dark & Handsome" by Nisha Minhas
  • "The Marriage Market" by Nisha Minhas
  • "Witches' Brew" by Terry Brooks
  • "The Tangle Box" by Terry Brooks
  • "Up In Honey's Room" by Elmore Leonard
  • "A Winter Haunting" by Dan Simmons
  • "Hamlet" by Shakespeare - I used to hate Shakespeare dramas after a few bad experienced in high school, but I've read enough other stories since then that reference Hamlet in one way or another that I figure it's time to read it.
  • "Real World Haskell" by O'Sullivan, Goerzen & Stewart - I don't know what Functional Programming actually is, but with a name like Haskell, I want to learn the language. That way if anyone ever asks me "do you know Haskell?" I can laugh and say "are you kidding? it's my middle name!"
  • "Learning Rails" by St. Laurent & Dumbill
  • "Head First Rails" by Griffiths - The Head First series is fantastic, lots of humor and good tutorials, and I want to learn more about Rails...

The worst problem there, besides the incredible crowds, was that I wore a pair of Birkenstock sandals that I haven't work outside much, so the soles aren't scuffed up rough, making it hard to walk on the smooth polished stone floor of the store. It was a bit like walking on ice and I had to take small, careful steps to avoid slipping and sliding.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

Hmmm... I asked a coworker here in India, another U.S. citizen if he knew what a foreign earned income exclusion was, since he's also had to file taxes with the IRS while working here, and he said he did and would drop by my desk later on.

But then in order to come up with a decent enough question I started digging into the IRS publication 54 and now it seems to make more sense.

It looks like my Tax Home is India. And I most certainly meet the "Were you physically present in a foreign country or countries for at least 330 full days during any period of 12 consecutive months?" test for 2006, 2007 and 2008.

And the definition of "foreign income" seems clear enough, it's what I earn here in India, while I'm here in it as my "tax home".

So, it looks like I can exclude up to $87,600 of my income, or my income if it's less than that from being taxed by the U.S. Except that since I earn less than that, it's all of my income.

Seems too easy, though.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

IRS Publication 54 - "Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad"

Wow, I didn't even get through page 5 of this 44 page form without getting confused and lost...

What is a Qualified Business Unit?

I don't have "business books and records"

I hardly have a clue how to handle the currency thing... I assume I have to use U.S. dollars... But then somewhere should be more information on what to do with my rupees...

The spouse stuff doesn't look too bad. I'll report that I'm married and filing separately, since Leena doesn't have a social security number or taxpayer identification number.

Early Preparations for U.S. Move - Taxes

Ok, so now that I'm serious about leaving India sometime next year, it's time to begin preparing how to get out of here...

1. Job search. I need to find a job in the U.S. of course. Easiest would be if Tieto US was hiring in Seattle, but at the moment they're not.

2. Green card application for Leena...

That's the tough one.

Some parts I've made tougher on myself through my own irresponsibility. Since First Insight made me an employee here in India late in 2005, I haven't really filed any taxes with the IRS because it looks hard. To do that I have to report to the IRS how much I earned in rupees, converted to dollars, how much tax I've paid in rupees, converted to dollars and figure out if I still owe the IRS any above and beyond what I paid in India. The paperwork looks very confusing so I've sort of, well, not done it.

But according to the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, one of the common mistakes made when applying for a green card for an immediate relative (e.g. a spouse) is:

ALL I-864 AND I-864A forms MUST include the income tax returns (form 1040 and W-2) from the last three years along with an employment verification letter for each person sponsoring the applicant. The petitioner and/or any financial co-sponsor may also wish to submit recent pay slips and a bank statement

So, I know I can do the 1040 forms from here in India if I just study up on the IRS's documentation and send it in. Maybe I'll have to pay late fees or interest, too, I don't know.

But the W-2 forms, that's an interesting thing, since I haven't worked for an American company for a while... At least I have bank statements, but they'd probably look pretty boring, just the two annual gift deposits from my mother (birthday and Chanukah) and some withdrawals for online shopping (Amazon, Victoria's Secret, etc.).

There's more than that, I have to prove a domicile and they say:

If you are not currently living in the United States, you must show that your trip abroad is temporary and that you have maintained ties to the United States. You can show this by providing proof of your voting record in the United States, proof of payment of State and Federal taxes in the United States, proof of property ownership in the United States, proof of current bank or investment accounts in the United States., or evidence of a permanent mailing address in the United States.

But my trip has been over eight years now, which might not exactly be temporary and I don't own any property in the U.S. I have voted, but isn't that anonymous, how would I give them my voting record (at least, in this previous election I voted for the winner, so maybe the gov't would be more friendly that way...)

Anyway, I think the tax thing should come first.

But maybe I'll read the Iron Maiden article on Wikipedia, then I can start. Not that I'm procrastinating or anything, it's really a great article, yeah, that's it...

Old Ascent Into Madness from 1999 to 2000...

Okay, so here's my last "blog" from July 16, 1999 to November 8, 2000...
Just as it was, only a little fiddling with the HTML for to change ampersands to the proper HTML code... I guess it worked just fine back then, but that would've been when I used Internet Explorer 3 (2?) and IBM WebExplorer on OS/2...

Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Walking to work this morning a huge flock of birds flew overhead. They were
all in a line, stretching for maybe a quarter of a mile. I saw them when
they were close and tried to see from one end to the other, but couldn't.

Then there was a swishing sound as they were directly overhead, then they
kept going and faded off in the distance.

That flock was followed shortly by two more, but they were both a bit more
raggedly lined up.

Tuesday, November 7, 2000

Ug. I have a headache again today. It's right about time, though,
consistent with my having stopped eating greasy junk food a week and a half
ago. Every time I try to stop eating potato chips and Cheetos I end up
feeling unwell, with headaches and stomach aches... This is no exception.

I guess my almost daily drink of Silk chocolate soy milk and two chopped up
Oreo cookies isn't helping all that much. Maybe I need three cookies in
each glass... At least it tastes nice.

Sunday, October 22, 2000

Wow, today is my father's sixtieth birthday.

This was a relaxing weekend. I managed to not spend too much money, and all
of it on groceries except for a package of four lightbulbs...

Tuesday, October 17, 2000

What a clear morning. The moon is still almost full. It was a shock, I
opened my door to go out and the metal strip on the bottom just glowed with
the moon's electric blue light. Very brilliant.

Walking to work I passed quite a few evenly dew covered lawns, and stared at
the sheen of light reflecting off them. I enjoy mornings like this...

Saturday, October 7, 2000

This morning I got up early to go do some grocery shopping at a department
store. It's only October 7th, but fuck, they already have Christmas shit on

I remember when Christmas didn't start until Thanksgiving weekend, then it
slowly moved to starting the day after Halloween, and then to the Halloween
itself... Now what's this shit with starting at the beginning of

Monday, September 4, 2000

Well, I managed to waste this whole weekend... I guess the time spent at
the office on Saturday wasn't too much of a waste. It was interesting being
there on a weekend, the first time since we moved offices... I'm still
curious what all those thumps were that shook the building.

I enjoyed watching the hawk outside the window. Birds are often fun, trying
ot guess what' they're doing, and imagining being a bird, with the ability
to fly. It must be fun to fly like that.

Otherwise, I watched to many movies on DVD. I've got to stop that, it's
rotting my brain. A few movies are really good, but most aren't, most are a
waste of time. It's rotting my checkbook, too. Fuck.

Reading... If I could force myself to get back into that... Unfortunately,
I'm afraid I'd end up getting into a good book and not be able to quit to go
to work. I'd have to sit at work, unable to read, and that's just like
torture.. I don't know... Fuck.

Tuesday, August 29, 2000

This morning was weird walking to work. Near the office, I felt like I was
out of balance and going to fall off the sidewalk. It was about a block
before I realized what was different. Yesterday construction workers had
removed a temporary fence next to the sidewalk. I've walked past it so much
that its absence felt so weird...

Monday, July 10, 2000

Today was our first day in our new office.

Of course, once home it was time to face the nightmares I'd forgotten about
all day (I think they both slipped my mind somewhere between our old office
and the new one on my commute this morning).

The longest running of the two is that I hadn't been successful getting my
toilet to flush since Saturday night... Yeah, it wasn't smelling so nice in
the bathroom or the hallway (but probably not as bad as your imagine is
running, it wasn't really bad, just a bit...). For some reason, the tank
would not fill with water. I don't know why... So, I got an old chocolate
milk mix tub (some of the junk that should be thrown out) and just used it
to fill the tank manually with water from the shower... Then it worked
fine, and it's been working on it's own since then....

A bit of bleach is taking care of the side effects.

As plumbing problems go, I'll take this one. Not real nice, but it's rare
that I've had plumbing problems that didn't cause disgusting leaks and
spills.... Still... Given a choice, I'll take software problems, because
I'm fairly sure I can fix most of those...

The other nightmare will likely give me nightmares.... When I was watering
the garden outside I saw a slug on the walkway, and was glad it was light
enough to see it, otherwise in the dark I probably would've stepped on it.
And I don't want to step on a slug for two reasons, 1) I don't like killing
things (it just sort of eats at me if I do) and 2) the thought of slug guts
on my shoes and in my apartment makes me retch.

Then I got inside and noticed a dried up slug trail on the towel under my
sink, that I'm sure wasn't there on Sunday... I saw it starting from near
the door, and going to the right of the sink, but not extending either way
too far. I took out the garbage (the bag wasn't close to full, but I wanted
space under the sink). I finally found the slug in the back corner.

For a few minutes I paced around trying to decide what to do. I hate slugs
in the apartment enough I considered using salt to kill it (ever salt a
slug? they just sort of melt). Finally I decided I would use enough paper
towels that I could grab it without feeling it, and maybe enough to not
imagine a slimy, squishy slug in my fingers, and toss it outside.

But... When I got the paper towels and looked under the sink I couldn't
find it again. I moved a few of the old bottles and cans around under
there, but I didn't see it.

By this time I felt like I was running a bit late for work, so I closed up
the cabinet under the sink (which I haven't done for a long time) hoping it
would stay there while I left.

And I didn't really think of it again till I got home. I don't see it.
There looks like slightly more slug trail on the towel than there was this
morning, but I don't see it extending very far in any direction. I have no
idea.... I'm scared, though.

What I need is a pet snake I could let loose. Garter snakes like to eat
slugs, and they're nice enough snakes (they're the kinds I see around here
in bushes and weeds by the sidewalkes).


Wednesday, May 24th, 2000

What a weird morning so far... I woke up earlier than normal, and after
showering, was out watering the garden, around 2:30am, and a woman in black
clothes walked by to dump some garbage in the dumpster. Very unusual to see
someone else walking around at that hours...

After leaving for work, I spooked a black and white cat in the parking lot,
before walking past a drunk couple who were just getting out of their car.
I don't often see others in the parking lot at that time...

Once out on the road there was less traffic than normal, but a huge number
of cement mixers going up Cornell Road, a whole convoy of them. Very
strange indeed.

On Cornell there were a lot of dead racoons. Several right in a row.

And that's just the start of the day...

Wednesday, May 17th, 2000

Last night I dreamt of white rabbits running through portals in the
MaximEyes Rx module to the MaximEye Exam module. Very weird. They were
just running around in the screens and going through the portals.

Maybe I've just been focusing on Rx too much lately, since it's my task to
document every single feature in it and what it does. This is in
preparation for designing the new version, which we'll write from scratch,
so we know what the current version does (but not how it does it, as that's
what we're rewriting).

Thursday, April 27th, 2000

Ug. I'm clumsy today. First I woke up and cursed at the alarm clock, then
in the dark I knocked over the glass of water I've kept next to my bed for
five years (not the same glass, or the same water). I've never knocked it
over before. It spilled and soaked the carpet, and then I was dehydrated
because I didn't get my water... Pani... Pani...

Once I got into my kitchen, I knocked over the plate that was balanced on
top of the can of Folger's coffee, which was balanced on a narrow bottle of
cinnamon powder. Now there are six rupees and 100 pesos scattered on my
counter and in the open microwave...

At the office I dropped my chai mug in the kitchen. Fortunately it didn't

And all that before 5am... Hopefully the day will improve.

Sunday, April 9th, 2000

Well, Surendra has probably reached Pune by now and tomorrow will probably
post the letter I wrote to Archana. I'm nervous about her reaction to my
asking if she has any interest in being more than just friends. I hope she
does. But, every time in the past I've tried this, it's ended up ruining
the friendship. I hope that doesn't happen.

I guess we will see...

Friday, March 24th, 2000

Jet contrails in the moonlight...

Walking on Cornell I heard some kind of screaming bird, and after a couple
of screeches I pinpointed a dark brown spot flying overhead but I couldn't
see any more than that...

Well, today is Archana's birthday. I wrote to her, but she's probably
busy... She got the card I had Ravi mail from India, and said I should've
written a letter with it, which I probably should have...

Friday, February 25th, 2000

Ug, sleep deprivation...

Walking to work this morning a guy in a fancy Mercedes stopped near me,
asking if I wanted a ride, and if I was the same guy he offered one to
earlier this week, which I was. He said "I'm going home from work, I'm a
bouncer in a strip joint... Man I'm fucked up! Had twelve shots in ten
minutes." Great sales pitch for a ride...

Wednesday, January 26th, 2000

We had a masseuse come in to give people (mainly in tech support) mesages
this afternoon at the office. Everyone said they were wonderful, but I
didn't go for one. I figured I'd rather wait on something like that, close,
good, physical contact until I have a girlfriend for it.

Besides, it's not my body I want masaged, but the insides of my head...

Unrelated, I noticed that the person daily searching for the text woodstock
nude photos is now getting this page, thoughts.htm instead of the CD page,
after I first mentioned that search last year in here as a thought. Pretty
funny, methinks...

Sunday, January 9th, 2000

Well, I'm home, and I'm glad. Oregon welcomed be back with wonderful rain
to go walking in this morning. The feeling of getting soaked in the cool
rain was awesome after a week in miserable southern Florida...

Florida wasn't real kind to me. The weather sucked, mostly hot and sunny.
It just isn't right for the dead of winter to be 80 degrees.

My vacation was not great. There was too much tension between various
relatives to be able to relax nicely, and I wound up with headaches every
day and not enough time to vegetate and read books. The TV was on too much
for my taste.

But, Gaby's Bat Mitzvah was good, and that's the primary reason I went. She
did a great job in the service and I'm proud of her. That was the last one
for my generation of cousins.

Tuesday, December 28th, 1999

Ug, today was bad.

Working twelve to eighteen hours a day the last few days, including Saturday
and Sunday, has been okay, because we were getting somewhere, with Ravi and
I learning a bit about Filemaker from Hank, a consultant from the Bay

But this morning I had a hearing about an ex-coworker's unemployment. He
had gotten a subpoena for me to go, so I was absolutely required there,
where he asked me tough questions about the quality of our software that I
wouldn't normally say. I feel really bad.

He left on real bad terms with the owners of the company, and I feel like he
did this more to use me to get back at them than for any other reason.

Fortunately I'll leave for a short vacation tomorrow night. Off to Florida
for Gabby's Bat Mitzvah on January 1st.

Tuesday, November 2nd, 1999

Well, I wonder what I should've done...

Since January I've been writing periodically with a girl named Michelle, who
found my ad in a Jewish singles place on the internet... At the time she
was in Seattle and didn't drive, so that kept things pretty distant... Then
she spent the summer volunteering in Romania, even more distant.

But when she got back she enrolled at Portland State University for a
masters degree... Now that's right here in my own town...

So, we made arrangements to meet at 6:30 this evening, by the computers in
the PSU library, where she would be working on something (that way she
wouldn't be too idle if I wasn't able to get out of work on time).

Well, I got out of work on time (early, in fact, if you call working merely
10 and a half hours early) and went to the library around 6:10. I didn't
see anyone who looked like a slightly older, slighter bigger version of the
girl in the old picture she emailed me, and no one who looked up
acknowledged me.

So, unsure of myself, nervous and being as incredibly shy as I am, I left
and wandered the fringes of campus until I came back to the library around
6:25. I walked by the computers another time, but this time instead of a
lack of acknowledgement, the librarians gave me very negative looks as my
gaze swept the people at the computers, some of whom looked at me, but none
gave a positive acknowledgement.

I walked around inside the library, took another trip to the water fountain
and back to look at students again. This time the librarian waved her hand
to shoo me away.

After that I figured I'd probably better head on out... So, I came home and
immediately called her, leaving her my phone number on the voice mail.

I feel stupid. I feel like whatever I did I should've done something
different. But what???

Friday, October 22, 1999 -- My father's birthday, 59

I saw the foxes again this morning. I saw them first a few months ago, pale
grey shapes in the dark some distance away, and had no idea what they were.
Sort of like dogs, but not really, definitely not dogs.

I saw them two mornings earlier this week, still too far away to get a good
look, with them nothing more than pale, grey shapes darting across the

Ah, but today they were closer, and by different coloured lights. They were
a light brown, and looked like pictures I've seen of foxes. Long, thin
dogs, with sharp, pointed noses. The pair leisurely crossed 185th and hung
out a bit on the field on the other side so I could see them.


Monday, October 18, 1999

It's Monday night and I'm depressed.

I'm just thinking about Radhika, and how soon she'll be landing in a far,
fabulous, almost mythical city halfway around the world, Bombay. From there
she'll take a train through the Western Ghats to get home...

And me? I'll get to the Microtek Building, after walking up Cornell Road,
maybe Evergreen Parkway if I want something wilder. For excitement I
suppose I could take the elevator up to the second floor...


Her journey may be to home, but it's the places my dreams have been taking
me for quite a while (being there once didn't diminish them at all, just the

I guess there's not much to do but work hard to forget my dreary life...

Monday, October 4th, 1999

Ug, it's early. I stayed up too late last night after drinking too much
caffeine at work. Way too much. It makes me hallucinate. After I turned
off the light, I kept having visions of particularly wild and violent
rodeos, with bucking broncos smashing people and themselves against walls.
I'd shut my eyes and see that, then they'd flash open to make it go away.

Saturday, October 2nd, 1999

With lunch today I had the first drink I'd had since mid March. I never
really quit drinking, but for months I just hadn't felt like it, and then
after that I just hadn't wanted to start, but neither did I want to quit.

But a glass of stout with lunch was a nice way to break the long, stubborn,
teatollaing time...

Thursday, September 9th, 1999

The sales pitch for guns that I saw on HREF="">Heckler & Koch's web page this past
weekend is still bothering me.

I've seen a lot of violent movies and thought of sales pitches for violence
oriented stuff, just as a joke, but looking at H&K's web page was sort of
shocking, because it was real.

There could be no doubt that they were selling a lot of those things
specifically for killing people, and no other reason.

The various
submachine guns with sales pitches about how reliable they are, or how they
have attachements for being small and concealable. One had a special
accessory to hide it in a briefcase, so it could be fired right from it,
which can have no purpose but for shooting people. And sound

And what legitimate purpose could a sniper rifle with a sound suppressor

I certainly found it disturbing, more so than any violent fiction...

Monday, September 6th, 1999

Well, I successfully avoided doing cleaning this weekend, which may come
back to bite me, as the apartment inspection is tomorrow. The last
inspection went fine, but I was home for it, so I chatted with the guy doing
it. This time I'll be at work. The last time they did it while I was away
I ended up getting a notice that they'd kick me out of I didn't clean it
within two weeks. The notice actually said "Your Unit is being kept in an
unsanitary condition and could be a health hazard and breeding bround for
pest infestion".

So, we'll see how it goes...

Thursday, August 26, 1999

Today was fun. For Rakhi, a bunch of us wore nice Indian clothes to work.
I wore my silk kurta pajama. The first person in the office, I put it on
early, when I got there, then people started showing up and noticing. It
wasn't for another couple of hours that the rest of the guys dressed up came
in, so I wasn't alone...

Tuesday, August 17th, 1999 -- 5:45am

I saw a shooting star this morning while walking up Cornell. I looked up in
the sky and saw it blazing down the sky, leaving a small trail of sparks,
then it flared brightly and faded to nothing.

When it faded and disappeared it left me feeling scared. Alone and
frightened there was nothing else moving, and no birds chirping, just me all
by myself.

Sunday, August 15th, 1999

Today was India's Independance day, so there was a big festival downtown at
Pioneer Courthouse Square that I went to with Muffi, Amol, Ankur, Surendra,
Satheesh and Prasad. From about 3:30 till 9:00 I didn't get up from the
brick steps I was sitting on.

It was a lot of fun. They had singing and dancing, representing various
parts of India, and it was all fun to watch. Some of the little kids were
quite impressive with their dancing.

I definitely liked this better than American Independance Day celebrations.
India's represented the art and culture of the country, compared to the
American one which represents a war from long ago. And America's
celebrations hardly have anything to do with it, except for fireworks
symbolizing bombs and death, instead of art and culture.

But, this was a fun day and I had a great time.

Saturday, August 14th, 1999

Today was fun. Had my friend Muffi over and taught him how to bake
chocolate chip cookies, which fortunately turned out great.

August 8, 1999 - 8:30am

So, now I've completed three decades. I'm not sure what I have to show for
it, though...

What's been special about this birthday so far is that two friends have
actually remembered it, with no hinting or prompting on my part. That's
never happened before... Thanks, Radhika and Archana!

August 7, 1999

This afternoon I went to Cinemagic and saw a Hindi movie, "Hum Dil De Chuke
Sanam" with my friends. It was a good movie, but like all the Indian movies
I've seen, there are some differences between them and western movies that I
find a bit disconcerting or strange when watching.

The movies change so much between the first act and the second act, and
often it isn't a subtle transition. This movie was happy and cheerful, with
the main characters just playing around, having a great time in the first
act. Then in the second act everyone was unhappy. The transition was one
action, but the mood and feeling was a sudden change, not at all smooth. It
didn't build toward it, it just happened.

This one didn't have much violence, which is good. The violence in Indian
movies seems extremely harsh to me, and makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.
While not as graphic or gory as violence in Hollywood movies, it just feels
different, feels more real, less boundary between fiction and reality to the
violence. In Hollywood movies, no matter how realistic the violence is,
it's still just a movie, but in Bollywood movies, it seems more real, less

Negative emotions are so much stronger in Indian movies, too. When the
characters are angry, the anger comes across much sharper. Part of that
might be that I don't know Hindi, so I just get the feelings without the
words to distract or dampen the strong anger. Maybe... I don't know.
Although, there are a few Hollywood movies that do that, so maybe it's just
that the majority of Hollywood movies avoid such strong emotion and take
everything lighter.

This movie, "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" was certainly colourful. I loved
watching the women dance around in bright, attractive clothes. And even the
men dressed in a lot of colour. The feel of the characters in India was
very comfortable, like they were casual and loose. When it switched to
Italy, the clothing of the Italians then seemed stiff and proper, and not
nearly as comfortable.

I liked it. I definitely enjoy watching these Hindi movies.

August 5, 1999 - 6:00am

I definitely feel safer walking around at 4am than 4m.

August 2, 1999

Walking to work around 4am this morning on 185th, my path crossed with that of a man
and his dog. When we got near they stepped off the sidewalk and stood on
the grass. He (the man) said "good morning" as I passed, and I replied with
"Hello". Less than five seconds after he was behind me, he said to the dog
(I assume) "it's safe to move now".

July 28, 1999 - 5:00am

So, how does this moon thingy work?

When calendars show the phase of the moon, what time of the night are they
measuring it at?

This morning I was just observing that while I was making breakfast the moon
was full. Then when I left my apartment there was a small slice missing
from the lower left edge (was that a chord?). Then by the time I got to the
office, it was little more than half full.

So, is this a full, gibbous or half moon?

In other amusements, I notice from my web log that yesterday someone was
searching for "nude photos from woodstock 99" which took them to my CD page,
that has all those words. The today, they were searching for "nude photos
of women from woodstock 99" and that took them the same place...

July 28, 1999 -- 7:00pm

Well, I found out after my coworker got to the office that the whole moon
thing was a lunar eclipse. He'd tried to get up early to see it, but
failed, and I saw the whole thing without knowing what it was...

July 25th, 1999 - 5:15pm


The parking lot outside my apartment is empty. It looks so totally dead out
there. The afternoon sun is fading a bit, and the grass is turning
brownish. It goes with the emptiness of the parking lot, I guess.

July 24th, 1999 - 5:15pm

Ug. I'm still sick. Today isn't quite as bad. Taking most of yesterday
off may have helped a bit.

I did go out this morning to Powell's Books to
shop a bit. There wasn't much in the Sci-Fi section that caught my
attention, which is unusual, but could be because I'm sick and it was too
crowded there so I didn't feel very comfortable. Somehow I wound up in the
regular literature section, which I generally think of as being full of
high-brow, intellectual books and usually avoid unless I'm looking for
something specific. But, walking through a few books did catch my eye, for
titles or covers. I guess that's a great new way to shop for books...

I got home in time to miss a phone call from a friend inviting me to go
along with them to a Hindi movie on the east side. So, instead I took a
nap, didn't answer the phone when it rang, in fact, didn't even come all the
way out of sleep for it...

But it did turn out to be my boss, so later a I called him back, at a
customer site and we tracked down what might've been a problem. I suggested
a fix and I suppose he'll call back if that doesn't work. We'll see,
hopefully it will...

July 21st, 1999 - 9:00pm

I'm even sicker today. It got so bad that I left work after putting in only
a mere eight hour day. I think the final factor that got to me was I was so
stuffed up that I couldn't hear a background office noise that I always
hear, and that was just too disturbing for me.

July 21st, 1999 - 5:00pm

Bleah, health degenerated during the day. I had a meeting that lasted
several hours, and that made it feel like that part of the day never
happened. I'm not sure where it went, it just disappeared. I can remember
most of the meeting, but not all of it.

July 19th, 1999 - 3:50am

Ug. I can't believe I'm at the office already... It sure is early. My
throat is still sore, but not as bad as yesterday, so maybe it won't last

Walking past a field this morning there was something big flying around.
Probably an owl or some other night bird, though I couldn't hear the usual
*swish* *swish* of feathers as it flew, it was fairly silent, like a bat.

July 18th, 1999 -- 1:30pm

I do think I'm getting sick. My throat is hurting badly and hasn't gotten
better all day. *sigh*

July 16th, 1999 about 5:00am

Walking to work around 4:15 this morning from a third
floor apartment I was passing I heard the sounds of a couple making love.
It's really the first time I've actually heard that. The woman was moaning
and saying "oh, oh god, oh god" loudly, but calmly and I could hear it for
at least half a block on either side of that window.

Now I'm stuck here at the office with such thoughts running through my head,
making me wish to be somewhere else. I'm hoping it gets busy soon, so that
I'll have enough to think about to take my mind (er, uh, and other things)
off those thoughts.

I guess this is tied to a discussion I had in email with a close friend
yesterday, in which we both agreed I may be a bit obsessed with work. My
main excuse is that I'm pretty good, so it takes my mind off other

While I've often imagined what it would be like to make love with a girl,
now that I've heard it "live" I'm quite sure my imagination has been missing
a significant amount.

July 16, 1999 - Earlier

When I surf the web, the stuff that appeals to me most is content about
people, since I enjoy people. I'm often captivated reading people's
thoughts, and after one nicely presented one, figured I could start. And,
with something bugging me on my way to work, it seemed time...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Short break in blogging...

Okay, so everyone's doing it. I blogged before, before it was called blogging. I still have the hand edited HTML file I used on my old ISP, Teleport's web server. The latest entry is from Wednesday, November 8, 2000, and nothing after that.

It's late now. Maybe this weekend I'll post the whole thing here as one entry or something...

Off to bed.