Friday, October 29, 2010

Tweetposts - 29th Oct 2010, Friday

A strange incident at the grocery store yesterday:
In my company, food is free (upto a cap provided I use the food card). During checkout, I learnt that the card machine wasn’t working so I had to pay cash. I had to keep out a big bar of chocolate (reserve judgment please – I am slightly indulgent because of the free factor!). I don’t know if the disappointment in my face showed or whatever, the billing clerk added the chocolate to the grocery bag in the end. I pointed out that it wasn’t billed. He just nodded “it’s ok”.
I am not sure if it was a kind gesture, or if he thought I was upset or if it was because I was dripping wet from the rain!

I just remembered that the recent trek was when I saw a live scorpion! Useless trivia! It was fully grown, about the length of my index finger. I was slightly scared as I was trekking barefoot. Yes – it was to maintain an “elemental connection”. So I had to take out my trekking shoes, tie them together and carried it on my shoulder along with the trekking bag!

Raining here! I hope it continues to rain leading to Oct 31 EOD!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vote for Krishnan on "CNN Heroes"

Got this as a forward, but one of the thing worth passing around calling for action. This is not the first time I am writing about Krishnan on my blog, but I heard about this voting only today. More than recognition, which I am sure is not why Krishnan is doing what he is doing, it will help him with funds to continue on with his work with self sufficiency.

Dear All,

Click on the Vote for Krishnan, it will lead CNN Living site and vote for him and make him a hero of the year.  A young Indian deserves all that he deserves.

New Delhi:  If you had not heard of Narayanan Krishnan, as I had not, it is a collective failure. This is one of the most incredible stories of personal commitment.
Narayanan Krishnan, all of 29 years old now, does what he was professionally trained to do as a chef. Feed people. Only Krishnan does not do this in the swanky confines of a 5-star hotel. Every day, he wakes up at 4 am, cooks a simple hot meal and then, along with his team, loads it in a van and travels about 200 km feeding the homeless in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
Krishnan feeds, often with his hands, almost 400 destitute people every day. And for those who need it, he provides a free haircut too.

According to CNN, eight years ago, this award-winning chef with a five-star hotel chain was all set to go to Switzerland for a high-profile posting. On a visit to a Madurai temple, he came across a homeless, old man eating his own human waste. That stark sight changed Krishnan's life.

Much to the dismay of his parents, CNN says, Krishnan abandoned his career plans and decided to spend his life and his professional training in looking after those who could not care for themselves. He has provided more than 1.2 million hot meals through his nonprofit organisation Akshaya Trust, and now hopes to extend this to shelter for the homeless too.
Krishnan is the only Indian in a list of 10 heroes that CNN has picked worldwide to honour. One of them will be chosen CNN Hero of the Year, selected by the public through an online poll. If many Indians get together to vote for this inspiring man, he can win by a long mile.
If Krishnan wins he will get $100,000 in addition to the $25,000 that he gets for being shortlisted for the Top 10. Akshaya Trust needs all the monetary support it can get to build on Krishnan's dream. Let's help him get there.

Vote for Krishnan here. The poll continues through November 18 2010 at 6 a.m. ET.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tweetposts - 26th Oct 2010, Tuesday

Was listening to "keeravani" from pAdum paRavaigaL. And I was thinking - "I can do one whole lifetime of Sadhana [which means whatever it takes to develop that kind of skill and creativity] to compose a tune like that and not even come remotely close to it". He really is a mystic in the world of music!

Was listening to Radio City today while driving. The RJ was trying hard to be "cool". Was painfully obvious! Also, their mail address was They operate out of Chennai, Coimbatore and probably a few other cities. This email address reflects very poorly. Why not procure a domain with (500 Rs per annum!) and have etc. Also assign one unique mail id to each RJ on the station?

"Mirchi Suchi" - I find her voice irritating. And it's not the tone. It's the forced accent. I think most RJ's get caught in the sounding cool trap! She is one of the more popular ones, so I shouldn't expect her to change anytime soon!

"My name is Khan" - the review is a mixed bag. Sharukh's performance is awesome! At certain points, the emotion the character is visible - not on the face, but at a subtler level. But the character is unable to express them. Another aspect is the realistic portrayal of situations. The psyche of the American public is demonstrated realistically and sensitive situations are handled as they are without chickening out or diluting the proportions. The only questions are - is the timing of this movie correct? Another is this fetish of Bollywood for drama. It is too much in this movie! But Sharukh takes the cake for his performance!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tweetposts - 25th Oct 2010, Monday

The Bullet Train - a high tension movie made in the times without CGI. Very impressive! Tension drips every moment even after things appear safe! I wish a movie is made like this now - where CGI is not used to kick the villain 30 feet in the air. BTW, at this time (early 80's!), trains in Japan were running at 220 kmph. And we are averaging 60 kmph twenty years later!

In cellular providers' world there is cut through competition now. Even at this time, people are looking for innovative ways to squeeze money out of the customer's pocket (an example is the ridiculous charge of 6 Rs / min for the call you make to change your dialer tune!). Still wondering why no one is making an attempt to innovate to serve! There is still an amazing opportunity to provide a superior web interface for managing customer accounts. Customer service still sucks (can speak only of Aircel here).

Seth Godin wrote a book called "All marketers are liars!". "All" is a hyperbole. But when you see examples like this - where a plan is called "unlimited" and then an asterisk saying "fair use policy: capped at 5000 minutes" you can imagine why he titled it that way. Another example!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tweetposts - 23rd Oct 2010, Saturday

Was at Kerala the last few days. Again, couldn't help noticing the greenery and clean water as we traveled. But also getting signals that development in Kerala is going the TN way. "God's own country", you can learn some consequences of stupid mistakes from your neighbors without repeating them.

Watched "Up". Beautifully made. I have written and observed - Pixar is outdoing itself every time! Some one said Pixar makes movies for adults that kids can also enjoy. Interesting twist in perspective, but it's true as well! Some deeper elements have also been portrayed - like out growing limiting but comforting beliefs.

Watched a very nice short Tamil movie on YouTube. I wonder how/why they are being made? Hobbyists, projects? Who? But you get a lot of talent / exposure this way. An example of crowd accelerated innovation.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tweetposts - 20th Oct 2010, Wednesday

Broke the iPod that was gifted to me :-(. Have to service it.

Attention to detail has become so difficult because we are continually trained to fritter away these precious moments of focus. Try a simple experiment to remember common things in your life. Like number of switches on your switchboard. Avatar rightly called us sleepwalkers.

MTR makes this really tasty rava idly mix. Can get it ready in five mins flat. I saw Na2CO3 (sodium bicarbonate) as one of its ingredients and checked out its health implications. All I see are health benefits. On a related note, its ready to eat products are pretty good as well. They don't have preservatives or artificial flavors and have a shelf life of 1 year because of the packaging licensed from DRDO. While expensive for day to day use, why not carry them on treks?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tweetposts - 18th Oct 2010, Monday

Was reviewing which pages were *most* viewed (all time thing). In descending order:
1. IRCTC ticket printing (I have a feeling people did not get what they wanted looking at this. Too technical, but Google drives them to this page anyway)
2. Sadhguru’s talk at TED India (should have left a lot of frustrated readers. The original video was later removed for whatever reasons)
3. Sathuragiri trip (this is like a blast. Ever since I posted this, I remotely expected so many people searching for this content on the internet. In terms of post longevity versus viewer count, this should be on top)
4. Atul Kasbekar (I didn’t expect when posting, but a lot of curious people about him!)
5. Kinseology (I thought it was an esoteric topic, but a lot of people on the internet!)
6. Toggle IE Script (techie post, but people looking for exactly this!)
7. Sivapuranam (people looking for lyrics – so I added that to the footer)
8. Linga Bhairavi (smiley, smiley, smiley)
9. Professional couriers (yeah, again, many people share my unhappiness)
10. Sadhguru Sannidhi

While driving today, was seeing a very old woman in the middle of the road (this was a high way). The van driver in front of me stopped the van, apologized to me and started driving only after he made sure she was safely on the side.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tweetposts - 15th Oct 2010, Friday

Saw a trailer of "Knock Out". It's a rehash of the Hollywood Phone booth. I doubt if it would be credited. But even from the trailer, it is easy to make out - it is Phone Booth taken and a glorious sprinkling of Indian masala added. I love trailers! Five minutes of investment to decide if you get to save three hours or not! Also saw a trailer of "raththa charithiram". Ram Gopal Varmas ultra violent movie. Even from the trailer it is easy to see you can expect a glorious dose of blood splatter and gruesome violence. But it has Surya as well :-(.

Was dusting a white canvas shoe. I saw a white spider - almost invisible backdropped against the shoe. I never see white spiders here. I can only assume that the spider camouflaged itself against the shoe. If that is the case, another spectacular case of the adaptability of life around us. Except one life form of course!

Totally in awe of the "planet earth" crew. I wrote briefly about them earlier - but the series deserves a separate post. Totally in awe of the infinitesimal variety of life in the planet. Did you know life thrives in corners of the planet not powered by the sun? There is a separate food chain going on. Awe - no wow!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tweetposts - 11th Oct 2010, Monday

I find reading online more difficult. Was reading a lot of stuff on paper recently and couldn't help noticing how easy it was on the eyes. I spend 9-10 hours a day with pixels - may be the contrast is helping. May be, the future of technology will be in making electronic displays imitate the "feel" of paper to the eyes. Amazon's kindle attempts that in B&W. Full color will be awesome!

A part of me wants Endhiran to break-even. Its not much to do with the quality of the movie or the "R" factor. Its more with encouraging risk taking. The scale of the movie is dare-devil - breaking even is like a reward for the risk. On the other extreme, people tend to start fleecing when it comes to cashing in on a high tide. Seriously, one guy mentioned he paid 6K for a black ticket! In the US, they spiked the prices from 10 USD to 28. 180% increase. Fortunately, TN has a cap of 120 INR.

Maam "J" is scheduling an opposition meeting at Madurai. I am guessing with the prep work on, there will be a massive crowd for this (50K?). The agenda is to "condemn" the ruling party. I am wondering, instead of this, if this time and effort is rallied towards some thing the ruling party filed to do it will generate a lot of respect and goodwill among people. 50K people in one place all burned up and fired up because there is an "enemy" is easy. What will they do with all that drama? Nothing! This is exactly why people lose respect with politicians. In case the roles reverse, "K" will do the same thing. There is no official position required to something constructive. Especially when you can generate huge strength of support from people. Inspiring them is the harder part.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Unabated growth

I am talking with reference to economics. Unabated growth is overrated – and dangerous in current situations. Globally, the accepted performance indicator is growth %. Nothing else even seems to matter. Why? Because, for publicly listed companies, this ties back to how much the shareholders get in the pocket.

Now, a 400 billion dollar company like Walmart is looking to grow. Though it is the largest, there are a lot of comparable sized companies also looking to grow. Extrapolate this to the entire spectrum of companies all over the globe looking to “grow”. If Exxon wants to grow, it has to mine more petroleum. It also has to encourage growth of its business which means more cars and more driving. About 100 years ago, this sort of question wouldn’t have existed. Within this century we’ve created an inflexion point where a finite planet cannot expand to cater to the goals of gazillion companies all trying to grow and impress shareholders.

It is time for a new performance parameter to be introduced. Along with growth %, a sustainability index must be introduced. What this must measure is that – if the company aimed to grow like this for the next 10 or 15 years, is it sustainable (not measured from a standalone perspective but from a collective perspective of all competitors put together along with allied industries that must match this company’s growth to keep pace)? Our population was 1.5 billion at the start of this century. Within this 100 years we have made it 500% fold and clearly everyone with some math skills will say this isn’t sustainable. Ditto for all the companies vying to break records in growth. This new equation where corporations try to establish a sustainable baseline point is vital.

It would be healthy if corporations decide this inflexion point consciously of their own will. If Governments are forced to do it, it will be ugly. If the planet decides to do it, the consequences are unpredictable, but inevitably devastating.

Note: A book has been screaming about this for nearly three decades. As long as money rolls in or the course of growth is not forcibly altered, this message will be last priority to economics.

A review summary - "Briefly, humanity has overshot the limits of what is physically and biologically sustainable. That overshoot WILL lead to the collapse of the planetary environment's ability to support not only our species but much of the rest of the biosphere if we do not act rapidly and effectively to reduce our footprint. These conclusions provide reasons for both optimism and alarm: optimism because humanity has demonstrated its capacity to act appropriately in one specific instance; and alarm because thirty years have been largely wasted since the consequences of our failing to act were detailed. There is still time but the need to act quickly and effectively is urgent. The authors demonstrate that the most critical areas needing immediate attention are: population; wasteful, inefficient growth; and pollution. They show how attention to all three simultaneously can result in returning the human footprint on the environment to manageable, sustainable size, while sharply reducing the disparity between human well-being and fostering a generous quality-of-life worldwide. Absent this, the prospects are grim indeed."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Tweetposts - 5th Oct 2010, Tuesday

Well, on the verge of 6th Oct here - 23:48

What is a parasite? A parasite depends on its host for its survival. It sucks life nourishing nutrients from its host while damaging the host. Some parasites, eventually kill their host as well. Strangely one species (a mammal) comes dangerously close to being called a parasite - humans. Sad but true. I am counting on the host!

Joy and self-importance are inversely proportional. How much ever one hedges or rationalizes self-importance into a thousand different expressions, at its root it will always be what it is. A joyful person is leaves very little foot print! An ecstatic person leaves no foot print!

Two happy videos!

First one - the hero of India and it's backbone as well!

Second one - CNN coverage of PGH and ARR (a bit). I hope someone breaks the Guinness record set by PGH.

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