Thursday, October 23, 2008

Adiyenin Mokkaigal - Part 2

I think this whole thing is cyclical....

One of my friends had a photo in orkut with his biceps which were not very flattering and when he told me that he had trouble growing biceps, I told him to call them as Hi-ceps instead of Bye-Ceps!!

{I know, I know!!}

Another friend of mine had some status message in Orkut as Difficult Times. My Comment: I know of New York Times. What is Difficult Times? {Adi vaangama thappichadhu pona jenmathu punniyam daan.}

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mumbai moonjila kari

I used to find the attitude of Mumbai-Vaazh makkal to be irritating. There is no city like Mumbai adhu idhu kinda Bullshit. Just because there are some seth kabodhis with their crores, Mumbai is the finance capital of India - nothing more. And the latest riots over North Indians being targetted by MNS and subsequent happening just prove the plain old fact that all parts of India are equally crazy and bad - there is no better or worse. And as much as Madras is 'oh-so-orthodox', Mumbai is 'oh-so-pig-headed'!!

Go Madras! :D

Vaaranam Aayiram - First Video Song

Going by this song, methinks that Mani Ratnam has stiff 
competition coming up from Gautam Vasudev Menon. :)

Florida - One to be proud of...

For reasons many, I do not like Florida - too much of non-tamizh desi population, Madras-like weather throughout the year and of course the senile population.

But with the Tampa Bay Rays progressing to the World Series, Florida is up there as a Sports-Lover State.

1. Best Sports Team - Gators in NCAA Football - Consistently the best team in SEC. Gators also won the College basketball title quite recently.

2. Tampa Bay Bucaneers - I'm not a fan of this defense oriented team of oldies, but they are a Superbowl winner in the era of Patriots and thats something to be proud of.

3. Miami Heat - Shaq and Wade won the Championship not too long ago.

4. Florida Marlins - 2003 ( and previously in 1997) World Series Winners

5. USF Bulls - The new kid on the block in the Top-25 NCAA CFB Teams. If Selvie doesn't make it to the first round draft pick, I'd be surprised.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning - Stanley Cup Winners.

I do not think any other state has been so dominant in every sport as Florida has been.

Go RAYS!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Seasons' Flavor

Thanks to History .

1. Tecumseh Curse (also called Curse of Tippecanoe) has 2 other names - Zero Year Curse, Twenty Year Curse.All US Presidents elected in an year ending with zero have died in office till Ronald Reagan when it is believed to have been broken. Line of Presidents felled (supposedly) by the curse: W.H. Harrison, Abe Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, W.G. Harding, FDR, JFK. Reagan survived the curse. G.W. Bush (Jr.) has also survived it - but I think his presidency has had far more grim-mer consequences than a dead President. ;-)

2. Since A. Lincoln, 18 out of 28 Presidents have been Republican.

3. The only American president to serve four terms in office was F.D. Roosevelt. After him, there was an amendment made to the constitution limiting Presidential terms to a maximum of two.

4. The only Presidents who had adopted surnames - Gerald Ford (Originally Leslie Lynch King, Jr.) and Bill Clinton (Originally William Jeffersion Blythe III).

5. The only President and Vice President not elected to office was, again, Gerald Ford - He took office as Vice President when Spiro Agnew, the incumbent resigned on Tax Evasion and money laundering charges. When President Nixon was embroiled in the Watergate Scandal and resigned, he became the President.

6. Four presidents took office in spite of NOT winning the popular vote - they did not receive a plurality in terms of the popular vote. They were elected, instead, by the electoral college or in the case of John Quincy Adams by the House of Representatives after a tie in the electoral votes. They were:

John Quincy Adams who lost by 44,804 votes to Andrew Jackson in 1824
Rutherford B. Hayes who lost by 264,292 votes to Samuel J. Tilden in 1876
Benjamin Harrison who lost by 95,713 votes to Grover Cleveland in 1888
George W. Bush who lost by 543,816 votes to Al Gore in the 2000 election .

 7. The only President to win unanimously was President George Washington - There was no popular vote in the election of 1789. Instead, the electoral college chose from a group of candidates. Each college member cast two votes with the candidate receiving the most votes becoming president and the runner-up becoming vice-president. George Washington was elected unanimously receiving all sixty-nine electoral votes. John Adams came in second and became the first Vice-President.

8. The only divorced man to have been elected to office - Ronald Reagan. If John McCain does win this time, it would be the second instance. James Buchanan is the only bachelor to be elected president.

9. Much before Hillary Rodham Clinton made a bid to be the Democratic Party's Presidential candidate, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for President in 1872.

10. While faith in God aka being a Christian is a big eligibility criteria that even seemingly atheistic people like B. Obama has to claim to be a believer, the Founding Fathers were surprisingly, anti-religion .

11. Presidents who were Freemason s- George Washington,James Monroe,Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Howard Taft, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford.

12. The only President to have a Ph.D - Woodrow Wilson.

13. Aaron Burr, who was Jefferson's VP, shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. The men decided on the duel based on insults exchanged over political issues. Burr was charged for murder in New Jersey, but the State never pursued to convict him on the grounds that 'civilized nations' do not treat dueling deaths as 'common murders.'

14. The only US President to wear the NAZI Swastika - Ronald Reagan when he was an actor!! :)

15. Washington ($1), Jefferson ($2) , Lincoln ($5), Jackson($20), Grant($50), McKinley($500), Cleveland ($1000), Madison ($5000), and Wilson ($100,000) are the only presidents to be represented on Dollar Bills.

16. Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded the prize in 1906 for his role as peacemaker in the Russo-Japanese War.

17. The first president to have a televised address:  Harry S. Truman.

18. Eisenhower was the man behind US's biggest asset - the Interstate system. He was also the only President to serve in WW1 and WW2. His experiences in convoy trucks while in war gave him the idea for limited access highways which would act as a lifeline for communication and transportation of supplies and troops in the event of a foreign invasion. In fact, the original interstates built were designed to even facilitate emergency air landings of fighter planes. An interesting document which resulted was the Pershing Map.

19. The first and only President to be a Rhodes Scholar - Bill Clinton. Rhodes Scholarship is typically awarded to candidates exemplifying the following traits:

  • literary and scholastic attainments;
  • energy to use one's talents to the full, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports;
  • truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship;
  • moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one's fellow beings.

20. James Garfield, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, George Bush, and Bill Clinton were the left handed Presidents till date. As many of you would have noticed, come November 4th, there will be a definite addition to this list as both Barack Obama and John McCain are lefties (what we tams call as lotta kai!)

21. One of the nicknames of FDR was The Boss! Now you know where Shankar had the inspiration from to name a cinema character who was against black money and pro-poor to be called Boss.

22. Who gets to President if the incumbent dies? A no brainer - The VP. What if both the P and VP die at the same time? The Speaker of the House gets to be the P and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate gets to be the VP.

23. Last outgoing President to deliver/give a State of the Union Address: Jimmy Carter.

Abraham Lincoln was one of those rare souls who had the gumption to take and make jokes on himself. When a political rival accused him of being two faced, he replied: "I leave it to my audience: If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?"

Now a googly: George W. Bush is the 42nd and 43rd President of USA. How is this possible? (No - the consecutive terms is not the answer)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sometime midway my graduate studies, I was made a Teaching Assistant - I had to go through some kind of a vetting process before that - where I had a 3 day workshop on how to be an effective teacher and to my greatest surprise, I found that I was given a 99 percentile rating by the students in the workshop amongst a population of 44 teaching assistants and even more surprising was that when I had to take the SPEAK exam where again, I, with my desi accent - complete with the inability to roll the R and stressing on 'Ta' syllable in lots of words - scored a perfect 60. After that, thanks to my professor, I ended up setting the syllabus, charting class/lecture plans, making lecture slides, quizzes, exam questions, assignments and grading them and helping makkal in the class with help sessions. The only thing which I didn't do over the course was that I didn't teach the class during class meetings - but that 'kurai' was theerthu-fied when my professor went to France for a conference mid semester and I had 2 hours notice to take charge of the class and complete it. At the end of the semester, the course got better ratings than 3 previous years and my TA rating was very good too. Now, I say all this to substantiate my belief (till 3 days back) that I consider myself a capable teacher.

Regarding my speaking skills, I'm a very bad 'prepared' speaker. If you give me a script and ask me to deliver it, more often than not I'll flounder. But extempore, I think I do better. So when a couple of weeks back I got an email from a professor back in alma mater, asking me to help with a guest lecture as a SME - Subject Matter Expert - I said okay because of 2 reasons - 1. This professor allowed me to enroll for his course much past the deadline and it ultimately helped me graduate when I did, and, 2. Being called upon to address a class as a guest lecturer always has its gleam.

It was when I reached the school that I was told this would be a recording and would be played to the students later - which meant I had to 'shadow' teach - which I've never done before and the second factor being without an interactive component, no lecture can be made effective. But the greatest factor which kept throwing me off the whole 1.5 hours was that a monitor in front me showed me the live video of me lecturing. This totally screwed it up for me. I know that being a shade over 6 feet and being used to size 44 (Indian size)  shirt means that I'm huge - but then seeing yourself on a video can actually give you an idea as to how huge you really are. I literally dwarfed the professor, who I suspect was close to 5 and a half feet and my body shape in a formal jacket tie and all that literally resembled an inverted triangle (delta, rather) with a head. I somehow managed to wade through the lecture and completed the stuff I'd prepared for one and half hours in1 hour and so the professor and me ended up doing an impromptu question-answer session in the end where he made me talk about Design Controls and how it is being seen as extra-work by med device companies.

This experience, I believe is an one-off one and literally opened my eyes to how tough teaching is - Its high time I know it as I was behind 2 of my UG profs crying in class as they were not able to teach us due to the racket that me and the others were creating.

P.S: Just now seeing that video from the link the prof provided, another defect of mine is noticeable - I have a voice which does not sound like a 24 year old person. I sound really boyish (an euphemism for immature?). Man, I hate this!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guess I have to start drinking....

If you had purchased $1000.00 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.00

With Enron, you would have $16.50 left of the original $1000.

With WorldCom, you would have less than $5.00 left.

If you had purchased $1000.00 of Delta Air Lines stock you would have $49.00 left.

If you had purchased United Airlines, you would have nothing left.

But, if you had purchased $1000.00 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the cans for recycling, you would have $214.00.

Based on the above, the best current investment advise is to drink heavily and recycle.

 This is the 401 - Keg Plan.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Go... Gone, Ganguly!

Finally, Saurav Ganguly has decided to take the sane route and has decided to call it quits from cricket . I guess this should be a cue for Dravid and a bit later, Sachin Tendulkar to start planning for their swansongs too.

While I might not be a very vocal supporter of Ganguly, there was a period of time when I liked Ganguly a lot - the time when he scored centuries in ODIs against teams other than Kenya, Namibia and Holland. And, arguably, he along with SRT formed the best ODI opening (or any?) batting partnership. The dominance of India in ODIs in the last 10 odd years can be mainly attributed to the stability that he provided along with SRT. Comparisons have always been there, especially when you are batting alongside the finest batting genius India ever produced (for the ODI format) and to his credit, Ganguly has stood up to the comparison and delivered. If not for he taking his "aggressiveness" and "Captain Courageous" tags too seriously, he might have ended up on the good side of more people. I cannot forget seeing Ganguly in the Indian dressing room (at MAC Stadium) in 2001, talking on a damned cell phone when Steve Waugh was at the center, waiting for the toss. It was my first experience of watching a game with the players and it was bad that I had a bad taste at that with Ganguly's disrespect for the Australian captain. And while he was instrumental in people like Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh being successes, he was also responsible for not backing people like Shriram or Badani - who are much better fielders than Yuvraj and are decent hits with the bat too. But, for all the negatives I've given here, SCG remains the most successful Indian captain ever (which, I hope Dhoni would break, at least in ODIs). Here's wishing him the best in life after the playing field - in IPL or the commentary team (How many of you remember Ganguly saying that if you are chasing 260 plus, you need to score 90 odd in 15 overs during the Kochi ODI against Australia in 1998 - the game where Sachin took 5 wickets).

Here's a list of favorite Ganguly knocks/performances.

1. Dhaka - Independence Cup - Scored a gutsy 120 odd. This, in my rating is the best Ganguly ODI innings.

2. World Cup - 1999 - Sri Lanka @ Taunton - 183 runs - Muralitharan was never spanked more in my knowledge.

3. Sahara Cup in Toronto - Ganguly's most favorite tournament, I guess.

4. Obviously, the debut series against England, 1996

5. Brisbane 144 against Australia in the first test in 2005.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

Chicago - A throwback!

This pic is possible at one precise location - if you are using a non-zoomable camera, such as this . Been a while since I've travelled anywhere and its telling.