Last Walk Around Mirror Lake

Last Walk Around Mirror Lake - Boom Bip (Boards of Canada Remix) from FroschYankee on Vimeo.

Music is a Boards of Canada remix of Boom Bip's "Last Walk Around Mirror Lake". Footage is repurposed from a film called "Adrenaline Rush". Great marriage of music and visuals.

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- October 18, 2011 4:27 PM // General

The Dishum Digest I

Here's a collection of links I found over the last month or so that I found relevant but never had the time to expand into full fledged posts. Here goes:

  • Move over Bikram! The new Yoga King of LA wears "a message-free tank top and shorts, without a Buddhist bead or Sanskrit phrase visible anywhere." Devoted fans say "‘I’d rather take yoga from you than some weird dude in a robe."
  • The Saffron Sandalwood Sour as created by Seattle bartender Anu Apte. Alternate take here.
  • File under lazy movie naming: a documentary about Israelis in India. Why, let's call it Hummus Curry, of course! Brilliant! Other less brilliant names would have been Shalom Namaste or Falafel Dosa. [Thanks Amar]
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- July 1, 2009 10:06 PM // General

Amusing Airport Codes II

Recall I recently wrote about some of the funnier airport codes? One of them, Sioux City, aka SUX, has now decided to embrace its status wholeheartedly:

Now, though, Sioux City is trying to get in on the joke. Bernstein is making T-shirts - and a lot of other stuff - emblazoned with "Fly SUX." (Remember, that's pronounced "S-U-X," not "sucks.")

It all begin as a lark last fall, when Bernstein, who sits on the airport's Board of Trustees, had about a dozen of the T-shirts printed for some local travel agents at an appreciation dinner. Soon he was deluged with requests for them, including one from the president and CEO of Northwest Airlines, Douglas Steenland.

Since then, the line of Fly SUX merchandise has grown to include caps, coffee mugs, luggage tags, and bumper stickers.

"Let's exploit it rather than let it bother us," said Luanne Lindblade, the owner of Sioux City Gifts, the company marketing the Fly SUX merchandise. "We have always believed, 'Why fight it? Why not have fun with it?' "

Indeed.

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- August 11, 2008 9:31 PM // General , Travel

Amusing Airport Codes

From Orbitz's list of US Airport codes, we have:

Colorado Springs, CO (COS). Only if you like your trig.
Dickinson, ND (DIK). Sophomoric, I know but can't resist.
Eek, AK (EEK). Mighty Mouse's home base? Mouse phobes?
Fargo, ND (FAR): A long long way to go ..
Fresno, CA (FAT): This place must be rolling in it.
Goodnews Bay, AK (GNU): Only amusing if you're a geek and the Free Software Foundation means somthing to you.
Hot Springs, AR (HOT): I am sure the locals still chuckle over this one.
Huron, SD (HON): Sexist? Maybe. Warm? Certainly.
Los Angeles, CA (LAX): Describes the schedules, quality and service at this place to a T.
Lansing, MI (LAN): Wonder if this place has free wifi. Har har.
Mobile, AL (MOB): An airport we cannot refuse?
Nulato, AK (NUL) - Nothing here, move along.
Pueblo, CO (PUB) - Watering hole.
Rutland, VT (RUT) - They're stuck.
Sioux City, IA (SUX) - At least they don't try to hide it.
Topeka, KS (FOE) - You know where you stand right away.
Watertown, NY (ART) - Or exploitation? You decide.
Wenatchee, WA (EAT) - The Jewish mother of airports?
Yakutat, AK (YAK) - Must be a chatty place.
Yuma, AZ (YUM) - Let's end on dessert.

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- July 9, 2008 3:22 PM // General , Travel

Desi Spam

Usually, I ignore my gmail spam - I don't even see the spam on my Yahoo mailboxes since they have the option of directly depositing everything they deem unacceptable to the trash folder. Since gmail doesn't, I occasionally will scroll through to see if there's been any false positives - it's happened once or twice.

Wading through the spate of announcements attempting to zero in on a host of male insecurities, I was struck by what seemed to be a recent development in the names of the senders. These are utterly bogus of course, often being a random combination. It was funny though to see desi names in the mix. I include some salient ones:


chuck pradeep
hermie raj
ignacio giridhar
killy deepak
dalston prasad
engelbert nikhil
kleon shashi

I am sure these names are but further attempts to fool the mail filters of the world. Still, it's always good to see a dash of curry powder in a block of spam. Ignacio Giridhar and Engelbert Nikhil actually sound quite space agey.

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- July 4, 2008 7:14 PM // General

Of Soccer And Coverage ..

Something odd happened when I was in my car yesterday. It was afternoon and I had AM radio going - KNBR 680. It was some kind of national talk show, the kind devoted to endless musings on whatever is hot in the USA at the moment, be they the NBA playoffs, Danica's NASCAR win, ice hockey or baseball, good, solid merkin games created and played in North America.

Only there was one difference. The callers wanted to talk about soccer. Not water polo, not lacross, but football. The global kind, not the American one.

One more thing: the callers weren't on the line with questions about the US soccer league. No, they wanted to vent about the just-concluded Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea in Moscow. The announcers wanted to steer the conversation to how soccer could be improved for US consumptions. The callers weren't having any of it. They wanted to talk about the penalty shoot out. They were outraged by the slippery state of the pitch. They were touched by Alex Ferguson's victory dance in the rain.

The announcers, clearly taken aback, could only comment on the sheer volume of people lined up to talk.

I never thought I'd live to see this day. I recall, 20 or so odd years ago, when as a major English Premier League fan, trying to get the latest scores was a fiendishly tough task. Forget any US radio or television, your only hope was the New York Times. Or a short wave radio able to tune into the BBC world service.

We've come a long way indeed. Now, a black man and a white woman can vie for the US Presidency and an Indian American can attract attention as a potential Republican Vice Presidential candidate. And US fans avidly follow a game held in Moscow, Russia.

The personal irony in all of this is I've long given up following the Premiership, preferring baseball instead. So it goes.

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- May 23, 2008 9:18 PM // General

Popular Desi Baby Names In the USA

The US Social Security Administration has released, on the eve of Mother's Day, their annual list of the top 1000 most popular baby names for the preceding year. Forget web searches and all that, this is what parents are actually naming their kids. In summary:

Emily has topped the list since 1996. Jacob has done so since 1999. Elizabeth returns to the top ten after a two year absence.

I was curious how many (if any) desi names made the list for 2007. So, I took a look and here's what I found on the boys' side:

510. Rohan
729. Arjun
749. Aditya
821. Nikhil
829. Samir
881. Pranav
958. Rishi
959. Arnav

Quite frankly, I was surprised to see so many. But perhaps if you think about proportions, 8 out of 1000 is 0.8%, roughly 1%, which is in line with the size of the desi diaspora in the USA. I'll have to look at the lists from previous years to see if there's been an uptick. One notable omission, as noted by the SSA themselves:

Although “American Idol’s” Sanjaya did not influence this year’s list, other young celebrities influenced the naming of American children.

Heh, heh. As for the girls, another surprise - I only found Maya at position 62. The other name that came close was Saniyah at 565. There were two others, "India" at 690 and "Karma" at 859 but those aren't names desi parents assign to their daughters, not that I've heard of anyway.

You can find the lists here.

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- May 10, 2008 10:22 AM // General

CA Cash For Kal

In "Your lost cash just waiting for a reunion", San Jose Mercury News' Patty Fisher writes:

If you haven't checked the state's unclaimed property registry lately, you could be costing yourself some bucks. That utility deposit you didn't bother to get back when you moved, the safety deposit box you forgot to clean out, a gift certificate you didn't get around to using - they all could be listed at www.ClaimIt.ca.gov.

The database includes millions of names, and billions of unclaimed dollars. Even if yours isn't there, it's great fun to search. Clint Eastwood has $300 in salary coming from MGM Studios - probably a rounding error. Lindsay Lohan has an outstanding legal award of $1,559.80. Steve Jobs can claim a $120 from an insurance company and Larry Ellison has $59.30 coming from Hertz. My neighbors Judy and Richard are due more than $200 from various insurance claims and deposits.

Call me voyeuristic, call me a good samaritan, whatever, I couldn't resist the urge to see whether any California company owed any money to the desi diaspora's finest. Of course, first I had to try my own name. Nothing. No overlooked rent deposit or gift certificate. After that initial search, I tried putting in some of the brighter names in the desi firmament. And was surprised to see some actually come up. Here's what I found:

Deepak Chopra
The web site came up with a couple of hits. I ignored the fellow living in the Bay Area and picked the entries with the Palos Verdes address. Here's what I found:

Deepak Chopra Claim I

That's right. Allstate owes $48 to Dr. Chopra. Somehow, I doubt he'll be rushing to collect it anytime soon, flush as he is.

Another entry was this:

Deepak Chopra Claim II

What kind of court settlement? The good doctor has been in the courts a fair amount but this amount of money is piffle, barely enough to buy one or two of his hardbacks. What could it be? Neighbors playing Van Halen too loud perhaps? The mind boggles.

Vinod Khosla

Vinod Khosla Claim II

These were all for prescription overpayments, the well known (and exceedingly well off) venture capitalist presumably not needing to bother with insurance co-payments like the rest of us mere mortals.

Kal Penn

KalPenn Claim

Paydirt! Kal Penn is owed a cool $5K for his acting services. I know brother is living large what with Harold and Kumar doing boffo box office but I am sure this is still not chump change territory. Hey Kal, throw me a 10% finders fee when you claim the money, will ya? :-)

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- May 7, 2008 9:26 PM // Diaspora , General

Hindu Prayer In Senate

A word of appreciation here for Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), the current Senate Majority Leader, for inviting Pundit Rajan Zed to give the brief morning prayer for a senate session last week. True, it was briefly disrupted, but that shouldn't detract from the bigger picture: an acknowledgment of the many Hindus living and practicing in the USA.

More details from the Washington Post:

Zed, the first Hindu to offer the Senate prayer, began: "We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the Earth, inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of the heaven. May He stimulate and illuminate our minds."

As the Senate prepared for another day of debate over the Iraq war, Zed closed with, "Peace, peace, peace be unto all."

Zed, who was born in India, was invited by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Speaking in the chamber shortly after the prayer, Reid defended the choice and linked it to the war debate.

"If people have any misunderstanding about Indians and Hindus," Reid said, "all they have to do is think of Gandhi," a man "who gave his life for peace."

"I think it speaks well of our country that someone representing the faith of about a billion people comes here and can speak in communication with our heavenly Father regarding peace," said Reid, a Mormon and sharp critic of President Bush's Iraq policies.

YouTube vid here:

Good to see which party has a greater commitment to diversity. If you have to compare and contrast, all you need to do is to see how many of the GOP presidential hopefuls actually turned up to the recent NAACP GOP presidential forum:

Only one, Rep Tom Tancredo, showed up out of a field of nine.

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- July 15, 2007 4:31 PM // General , Politics

FUSE THIS

Yes, I've been away for the past week or so but all for a good reason. You see, I was commissioned (ie. "volunteered") to re-design the lobby at my workplace. The other floors in our campus were in the hunt too with a grand prize of $3000 going to the best defacement. Anything went. Carte Blanche and all of that good stuff. The only caveat? It had to fit the company theme: FUSE (Find Use Share Expand). Last Thursday (April 6th), everybody walked up and down the floors, surveying the extent of the damage in each lobby. Some enterprising folks had converted theirs to a Hawaiian bar. Another lobby had transformed itself into a London underground station. Still another had a live band cranking out oldies. I didn't wait around to see if they were taking requests.

And what did we do? Well, my co-conspirator Maya D. and I took an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to the whole thing. Many hours of sweat, swearing, toil, head scratching and last minute pitching in by many people on our floor produced the following:

  • Three purple balls for unwary visitors to bump their head against as they came into our lobby.
  • One wheel of fortune game with categories from one of our own properties.
  • Purple filter gels to cover the lobby lights and give it that Prince-like ambience.
  • Whiteboard panels covering most of the lobby walls complete with pictures and markers for visitors to make comments. Create your own content indeed!
  • Hundreds of jello shots
  • Even more home baked cookies
  • Video projector 1 complete with webcam showing time delayed footage of people wandering through. This was projected on the ceiling.
  • Video projector 2 looping edited interviews of folks on our floor. Also projected on the ceiling.
  • Best of Green Day blaring from the speakers.
  • Streamers and our theme sign, "FUSE THIS," hanging from the ceiling.

Add in numerous bemused and amused partygoers plus webcam, do severe time lapse processing on resulting footage and you have this video below. Hours of mayhem reduced to a 1 minute and 48 second clip courtesy Rob McCool and Rajesh Shenoy. And if you haven't guessed my workplace by now, the little logo at the center of the Wheen of Fortune in the video should give it away. Enjoy!

Launch in external player
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- April 9, 2006 7:46 PM // General , Technology

BlogMela

The PRM Bharateeya Blog Mela,a weekly roundup of what the desi bloggers are saying, is up and Saket had kind words for yours truly's entry:

And if you were to ever start a desi rock-fusion band, Soam has great tips on naming it, and a ready list of names you could consider giving it. You must however, supply free passes to Soam if you decide to take up one of the names suggested by him. A very amusing read.

Thanks mate! The rest of the mela is well worth a look too.

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- December 21, 2005 6:02 PM // General

The Newspaper Dilemma

Remember my rant on how newspapers were becoming "all-singing, all-blogging, all-linking, all-tagging, all-podcasting, all-streaming, all-dancing wunder critters?" Well, it turns out there's a reason for this. They are not doing well. David Carr writes in the NY Times:

The newspaper business is in a horrible state. It's not that papers don't make money. They make plenty. But not many people, or at least not many on Wall Street, see a future in them. In an attempt to leave the forest of dead trees and reach the high plains of digital media, every paper in the country is struggling mightily to digitize its content with Web sites, blogs, video and podcasts.

David Carr's solution is a portable newsreading device that could do to newsreading what the iPod did to music downloads:

Consider if the line between the Web and print matter were erased by a device for data consumption, not data entry - all screen, no baggage - that was uplinked and updated constantly: a digital player for the eyes, with an iTunes-like array of content available at a ubiquitous volume and a low, digestible price.

Sure, there are tablet PC's and so-called viewpads out there, but they need to boot every time they are used - they are just computers without keyboards. The iPod was not a new kind of CD player, it was a new way of listening to music. And the dangling white headphones became something that brought joy to the ears and also cachet to the wearer.

But then, what am I supposed to use to line my shelves?

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- October 10, 2005 11:45 AM // General

Why I Hate The Term "Blog"

James Berardinelli has it right when he writes in ReelViews:

"Blog" is an ugly word. It sounds like something that comes out of the nose when a person is sick with the flu. As I'm sure nearly everyone reading this knows, "blog" is short for "web log." (I prefer the term "online journal.") Initially, it was a noun, but its versatility has been expanded. It became a verb (to blog). Then the verb became a gerund (blogging). So the ugly word has legs and has become an official entry into all comprehensive dictionaries.

A weblog, from a technical standpoint, would refer to the trace from a web server. Hence, "online journal" is more appropriate. But quibbles aside, blog is an ugly word. It's one "l" removed from "bog", which according to webster,

is a poorly drained usually acid area rich in accumulated plant material.

Hmm, that sounds about right, "bog" is also UK slang for the loo. Not only that, blog doesn't even rhyme with anything interesting. Only "frog" comes to mind. Again, not a pretty thought. So, when I read stuff like "AJ Reinhold is blogging on the environment!", I think, "good lord man, what's mother nature ever done to you for you to dump on her this way?" Or when I hear that "Shanachie Kitmer is live blogging from the courthouse!", my immediate response is to pray for the sanitary wellbeing of that edifice.

Speaking of blogs, newspapers have embraced the whole phenomenon like nobody's business. All of their staff reporters seem to have blogs these days and when they're not busy podcasting, another lovely buzzword, they are linking to each other's blogs. Their motto seems to be blogito ergo sum i.e. "I blog, therefore I am." But then, why blame newspapers? Seven years ago, everyone had a website, including the vending machine at CMU. Back then, a friend and I used to joke it was only a matter of time before a toilet had its own website. If so, the visitor site counter (This site has been visited 12687 times) would have another meaning entirely! Can you imagine? Now, of course, everyone and their dog has a blog ("dog blogs", what else?), usually on blogspot. How much longer before the aforementioned toilet has an exclusive blog, I ask? No wait! It's already been done!

And never underestimate the power of blogs for procrastination! These days, the very first thing for anyone who's thinking of doing anything is to open a blog and link to someone else droning on about the very same thing. There are blogs on books in progress, films in progress, albums in progress, gardens in progress and on life in progress. No, I'm too lazy to link any examples of these - this is meant to be a rant - but you know exactly what I mean!

Of course, as you no doubt have realized by now, a lot this venting comes from jealousy. When a new media form is invented, there exists a small window of opportunity for amateurs to jump in before established content producers jump in and become all-singing, all-blogging, all-linking, all-tagging, all-podcasting, all-streaming, all-dancing wunder critters. As for desi-come-lately's like us, perhaps there's still a little bit of time to jump on the video blogging bandwagon before the big cheeses take over. Maybe, I'll start a new blog on video blogging and link to other video bloggers who then will link to me. Yeah, that's the ticket...

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- October 5, 2005 5:05 PM // General