Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You Think You Are Unlucky?

You Think You Are Unlucky?

Please read these incidents. They will make you feel better. I am not saying these are the unluckiest people in history. I am aware and realize there are starving children and cancer victims in this world.

World Trade Center was previously bombed in 1993. FBI was investigating the case. They found that the criminals used a rented van in New Jersey for transportation. They found the car rental agency. Several FBI and police officers were in that area including in front of the car rental agency. Who walks in there? One of the criminals who rented the van. Why did he come? To collect his deposit for the van. The FBI arrested him.

Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery twice, in 1984 and 1986. He won almost $6 million. He squandered all the money. Today he is homeless.

Richard Nixon. In June 1972, five men were arrested for attempting to burglarize the Democratic Party Headquarters. No big deal. No one complained. They were considered ordinary simple thieves. Police searched the hotel room they were staying. They found a check written by E. Howard Hunt for $6.36 to a local country club. He apparently forgot to mail that check.

E. Howard Hunt was a Consultant to the White House. Now police and the newspaper reporters are wondering about the connection between a White House Consultant and these 5 burglars.

The burglars were not allowed to make any phone calls. Just like our Tamil movies, 2 lawyers appeared at the police station claiming to represent these 5 burglars. Now the police and newspaper reporters are puzzled as to how these 2 lawyers knew about these arrests.

We all know the rest of the story.

In Atlanta, a guy went to rob a bank. The bank manager pressed the silent alarm to let the police know about it. The police car came and was waiting outside the bank to catch the robber. The robber’s get away car was in front of the police car. This robber came outside running with his loot and directly got inside the car. Inside the police car.

On October 7 of last year, Somali pirates thought that they were storming and attacking a cargo vessel. They could not see the ship in the darkness of the night. The ship they really try to attack was French Navy’s 18,000 tonne flagship. It was there in the Indian Ocean to oversee other French naval ships involved in anti-piracy mission.

Next time you think you are unlucky, remember this post.

If you have similar stories, please tell us.

(In my humble opinion, lucky people are more relaxed and open. They produce good fortune through 3 ways. They are very good at noticing chance opportunities. They make the lucky decisions through intuition. They develop an attitude that coverts bad luck into good luck. I consider myself very lucky.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010


What do we really believe? These can be categorized into 3 different convictions.

Public Convictions – It is what we say we believe in. The most perfect example is a politician’s statements and promises. Even we ourselves tell others what we believe in even though we really don’t. For example some of us say we believe in helping our friends when they have a need. But how many of us help when a friend really needs our help. Public convictions can be a lip service.

One company boasts “we believe we are successful when our clients are successful”. May be true. I don’t know. Public Relations people are expert in this field.

Private Convictions – It is what we think we believe in. We seriously think we believe in something but when the situation comes we change our mind. I know an elderly couple who encouraged inter-caste marriage when it happened in their friends circle. But when their own son married a girl outside their caste, they were furious. Our emotions can change our private convictions.

When someone is ill, most of us pray God for a quick recovery. But, still, we go and see a doctor. Same goes for exams. We go to the temple the previous day and pray God. At the same time, we study hard.

Core Convictions – What we reveal by our actions. Our daily actions will tell a lot about our core convictions. It really tells us who we are and what we believe in. Take for example the following actions:

When crossing a street, someone helps a blind person cross the street. Giving up a seat in the bus so that a pregnant woman can sit. Helping a friend even before he/she asks for it (or even better when helping a complete stranger something like whodunit).

While writing this. I am reminded of this story/incident.

Aadi Shankaracharya (I am not talking about modern day Shankaracharyas) once visited Banaras. He wanted to test people’s belief that a dip in the sacred river Ganges wipes off the sins. He fell down near the river and pretended to have fits. Lot of people who were returning after taking a dip in Ganges came forward to help him. But Aadi Shankaracharya said only those people who have no sin should help him. If someone with sin touches him, that person’s head will break into thousand pieces. No one wanted to go near Aadi Shankaracharya.

Then came a low caste cobbler. He offered to help Aadi Shankaracharya. Aadi Shankaracharya reminded him about how his head would break into thousand pieces if he has any sins. The cobbler told him not to worry and he has no sins. Aadi Shankaracharya was surprised. He asked the cobbler how come he was so sure. The cobbler replied: I just took a dip in river Ganges so all my sins have been wiped out.

Then he touched Aadi Shankaracharya and helped him.

It would be nice if we all have many core convictions.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

To Lie Or Not To Lie

Our parents always taught us not to lie. Then they started to lie to us about anything and everything. We then learnt sometimes lying is acceptable. Sometimes it is not acceptable.

Lying is a good thing. But lawyers and politicians gave lying a bad name because they are professional liars (Except of course our Neha and Sanand).

Thirukural says: Telling a lie is not good but one can do so if it is going to be beneficial for the good of all.

It is acceptable to lie when someone asks you “How are you doing?”. You lie and say “I am alright or fine”. You don’t want to say what things have gone wrong for you. And, the person who asked you in the first place is not interested in any of these details.

Lying is recommended when someone asks you if he/she looks old or looks fat. It is highly recommended when someone asks you if someone can see his bald spot. It will make them happy.

Lying is a MUST if someone’s wife or girl friend asks “How do I look in this dress”. Go ahead. Lie. She is an important person in your life. Make her happy.

Exaggeration is also a form of lying. If you tell someone something for 5 times and then say I told you a thousand time, it is a lie. Another form of lying is withholding information. You might tell a loved one that you were out meeting a friend, but in reality, after meeting the friend, you went to a bar.

But perjury is a crime. Perjury is lying under oath.

Adolf Hitler’s Minister for Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels believed if you tell the same lie for a thousand times it automatically becomes a fact.

However, it is easy to find out if someone is lying. When they lie, they don’t look you in the eye. They smile or have a strange laugh if you ask them whether they are lying.

But we should never lie to a doctor. I can tell you two real incidents that happened to people known to us.

A friend of ours went to see a doctor. The doctor asked how is his blood sugar level. He said it is under control. The doctor then asked what is his fasting blood sugar level. My friend did not know. So he wanted to lie. He got confused with the numbers of cholesterol and blood sugar level. So he said his fasting blood sugar level is 180. The doctor was stunned. Fasting blood sugar level should be below 120. If it is more than that, you are diabetic. (It is good if your cholesterol level is below 200.)

Another friend of ours went to see a doctor. The doctor asked “have you ever had a colonoscopy”. He had no idea what the doctor was asking. Therefore, my friend said “yes I have had”. The doctor asked when he had colonoscopy. My friend said “I do not remember”. The doctor immediately knew my friend was lying. The doctor told him “if you ever had a colonoscopy, it is an experience you will never forget that easily in your lifetime”.

Therefore, my friends, it is OK to lie in certain places and to certain people. But please lie in moderation.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Want to Save Money?

Because of bad economic time, people are trying to spend less and save money. We all try very hard at this. But some people have no clue how to save money.

As usual, since my job is to advice others, here are some suggestions:

When you go out with friends, forget your wallet every time so your friends have to pay for everything.

All your family members should stuff their pockets with free ketchup, salt, and other condiment packets every time they are in a fast food restaurant.

Want an umbrella? Go to the lost and found department of a store or library. Tell them you lost a large black umbrella. There have several of them. Pick one and take it home.

Want to make a long distance call? Call them when they are not home. Leave a message. They have to call back. (This is something similar to “missed call”).

Train your dog to beg for food from others. You don’t have to buy the dog food.

Turn off the TV and all the lights to save electricity.

Learn speed-reading and read books for free while in the aisle at the book store.

Push your car to work. You will save on gas (petrol). Plus, you will get a good exercise.

Marry and stay married to a frugal spouse. (Personal note: Unfortunately, neither I nor my wife is frugal.)

Marry a man who can fix things. It can save thousands each year.

Look for and pick up every coin you see on the street. You will become rich very quickly.

Instead of buying toilet paper, use yesterday’s newspaper.

Don’t buy anything. It is the best money saving tip.

And, finally, read my blog instead of buying newspapers and magazines.

If you know of some funny money saving ideas, please let us know. And, we will learn from that.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Women in Non-Traditional Jobs

Many women are taking non-traditional jobs usually associated with men only. A non-traditional occupation for women is one in which women comprise 25 percent or less of total employment. But again this could change from country to country. For example it is common to have women bus drivers in USA. In India, women bus drivers are very rare. In USA, it is very rare to find a male secretary whereas in India it is not that rare. I do not know the current situation in India.

Some examples of non-traditional jobs for women are: detectives, architects, chefs, barbers, clergy, computer and office machine repairers, construction and building inspectors, railway engine driver, machinists, truck drivers, fire fighters, airline pilots, construction occupations, and small engine mechanics.

Existing expectations that women are more verbal, more eager to please, and easier to talk to than men…..make them prime candidates for jobs that combine technical expertise with sales.

Some of the benefits are higher salary, advancement opportunity, more job availability, and job satisfaction.

They have to face some disadvantages also. There are work place harassment, lack of family support, and problems in taking care of children.

Here are some of the women who were “first” to take non-traditional jobs.

Lt.Col. Sharon Preszler of the United States became the first woman fighter pilot in 1993.

In July 2008, Capt. Jammie Jamieson became the first female operational and combat-ready pilot of the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft, the F-22 A Raptor.

In a male dominated world of global shipping, Capt. Karin Stahre Janson of Sweden became the first in charge of a cruise ship. She has taken command of Royal Caribbean’s 2,400 passenger ship Monarch of the Seas in May 2007. We were in her ship and met her last year when we took a cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico.

Capt. Emily Howell Warner became the first female commercial airline pilot when Frontier Airlines hired her in 1973. (Note: Many other names are also floating as the first female commercial airline pilot.)

Carly Fiorina became the first female CEO of a large corporation. In 1999, she became President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company.

In 1997, Violet Palmer became the first female referee in the NBA (National Basketball Association).

Women continue to progress in taking many “non-traditional” jobs. As more women take jobs that were once dominated by men, many jobs that were considered non-traditional will no longer be in that category. Let us hope, some day, there is no job that would come under non-traditional category.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3 Out Of Top 5 Is Not Bad

Whenever a non resident Indian or a person of Indian origin becomes famous, we all celebrate his/her achievements. Indian media go overboard and start interviewing any one remotely connected with that person. There will be a huge celebration in the town/village that person was born. If that person was never born in India, there will be a huge celebration in the town/village where his/her ancestors lived.

I am tired of the whole thing. We should celebrate our own achievements. I was browsing through the web and this news caught my attention.

According to Yahoo Travel, the following airports were selected in this year’s list. The top 5 are ranked as follows:

1. Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi, India)
2. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai, India)
3. Istanbul Ataturk International Airport (Turkey)
4. Anna International Airport (Chennai, India)
5. LA-Ontario International Airport (USA)

These are the top 5 “Most Delayed” airports in the world. And, three airports from India are included.

A flight is considered "on time" if it arrives or departs less than 15 minutes after its scheduled landing or take-off time. At the Indira Gandhi International Airport, only 45 percent of the flights arrive on time. The article relied on FlightStats, a service that tracks historical and real-time flight information around the globe.

We should either be famous or notorious. 3 spots in the top-5 in any category calls for a big celebration. The following are some suggestions:

A three day holiday should be declared by the Delhi, Maharashtra, and Tamilnadu Governments. Set off firecrackers in the middle of the runways at these 3 airports. The Director General of Civil Aviation be awarded the Padma Vibushan. We should resolve that we sweep all the top 5 spots in the next year’s list. The Government should announce extra bonus for the employees involved to make this happen.

Airlines should do their part also. They should tell the truth to the passengers why the plane is being delayed. For example: “We apologize for the delay. Unfortunately, the machine that rips the handles of your bags is not working properly and our employees are doing it by hand”.

Delay due to pilot shortage? Delay due to staff shortage? Delay due to not loading the luggage on time? Or any other reason? Please announce the only truth, which is “delay due to weather conditions”. When you call it a weather delay, you are off the hook. No passenger will complain.

Another way we can sweep the top 5 in this category is never listen to the passengers. Look at surveys. Fill the planes through computers. Measure success totally on the basis of load factors and revenue per passenger mile.

On the flip side, Osaka’s Itami Airport arrived and departed on time 94 percent of the time in 2009. Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport had 91 percent on time arrival and 93 percent on time departure.

We read the following incident in “”. We both laughed and laughed and laughed. I want to share that with you.

“During the "rush hour" at Houston's Hobby Airport, a flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem.

Since they needed the gate for another flight, the aircraft was backed away from the gate while the maintenance crew worked on it. The passengers were then told the new gate number, which was some distance away. Everyone moved to the new gate, only to find a third gate had been designated for them.

After some further shuffling, everyone got on board, and as they were settling in, the flight attendant made the standard announcement, "We apologize for the inconvenience of this last-minute gate change. This flight is going to Washington, D.C. If your destination is not Washington, D.C., then you should 'deplane' at this time."

A very confused-looking and red-faced pilot emerged from the cockpit, carrying his bags. "Sorry," he said, “wrong plane." He then deplaned.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Neologist is a person who creates new word. We are all neologists. May be accidental neologists. We always add suffixes like ism to someone’s name and become neologists.

New words need not be public and/or popular. We create new words at home, at work place, and among our friends. It includes all the languages in the world. All babies are natural born neologists. When we talk to babies, new words known only to them come out constantly. And, we love them and those words stay permanently. A child we know called “medicine” as “badhadha”. That child has grown up now. Even today, within his family, “badhadha” means “medicine”.

See how many neologists among us bloggers! Look at their blog names. I would even consider extension of a name is also coming under neologism. Guria is a neologist for coming up with the name Nehatrix Blogstrange. I am also a neologist for coming up with the name Insigniacharya.

I am in favor of neology. It is one of the ways vocabulary in a language will grow. Even adopting a foreign word is also most desirable. For example, even in Tamil, a spoon is a spoon. A bus is a bus (and very rarely people call it “peyrundhu”).

This is very much true for technical and scientific words. We should adopt them into our language as it is and not try to translate. When someone said “madi kanini”, it took me several days and several inquiries to find out it is the Tamil translation for “laptop”.

If an individual uses a new word and it is adopted by several people, it will be included in the dictionary. Rachael Ray (famous chef) coined the phrase EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and it has been included in the dictionary now.

U.S. Presidents are famous for being neologists. Jefferson is known for creating the words “lengthily” and “belittle”. Theodore Roosevelt is known for “lunatic fringe”. And, our own George W. Bush created “misunderestimate” and “embetterment”. Even former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle is a sort of neologist. When he was visiting a sixth grade class, he asked a student to spell "potato". The student spelled it correctly. But the Vice President insisted on adding an "e" at the end (potatoe).

Are you a neologist? Then say something. Do you have any words that are popularly used within your family or friends circle? Please share with us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Awesome Music Video (and an award)

There is a band group named OK Go. They are more known for their videos than their music. When you see any of their music video, you will certainly nod your head in astonishment. Your reaction will be: Wow.

Recently they have released a music video titled “This Too Shall Pass”. They used a complex Rube Goldberg machine that sparks chain reactions. Please view and listen here:

(A Rube Goldberg machine is designed deliberately to perform a very simple task in a very complex fashion. I am remembering a Tamil saying here. Mookkai nera thodaradhukku padhila, thalaya suthi thottanaam. (Instead of touching the nose straight, a guy took his hand around his head and touched the nose.)

The band members said they tried 60 times in 2 days to shoot the entire video in a single-shot. But succeeded only 3 times.

Creativity is missing in today’s musical world. Congratulations to these guys. What do you think of this music video?
And now, the award ceremony.

Anyone who has visited Gautam’s blog would have noticed on the right side a caption “My Photos in Picasa”. If you had seen those pictures, you would know that he is a very talented photographer. Insignia also wrote a post about his pictures on his birthday. I wanted to recognize Gautam’s talents. So, I proudly present this award to Gautam.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Patty Hearst Syndrome

Patty Hearst is the grand daughter of publishing magnet, William Randolph Hearst. He was one of the richest people in USA. He built the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. It is a palatial estate, which is known as America’s “Taj Mahal”.

Patty Hearst was a student at the University of California at Berkeley. On February 4, 1974, she was kidnapped from her apartment. The whole country was in shock. After a few days, a guerrilla organization called Symbionese Liberation Army took responsibility for the kidnapping.

At first SLA demanded that they swap Patty Hearst for their jailed SLA members. That negotiation failed. Then they demanded that Patty’s father, Randolph Hearst distribute seventy dollars worth of food for every needy Californian. This would cost a little over $400 million. Randolph Hearst made arrangements to distribute food throughout the entire San Francisco Bay Area, as a starter. SLA then reneged on their promise to release Patty Hearst. They said the distributed food was of poor quality.

Here comes the twist. Patty Hearst was hit with what is known as “Stockholm Syndrome”. It is a strange psychological occurrence where the hostages start to show slavish admiration of their captors and have positive feelings toward them. This happens even after the hostages are mentally, physically, and sexually abused by their captors. At the same time, they begin to hate people who genuinely like them.

She started to participate with the SLA on some bank robberies. She issued statements that she is committed to SLA’s goals. She changed her name to Tania. She was arrested in September 1975 along with other SLA members.

(Picture taken by Hibernia Bank's Security Camera)

Famous attorney, F. Lee Bailey defended her in court. He argued that the SLA brain washed her and was forced to participate in bank robberies. The judge found Patty guilty and sentenced her for 7 years in prison. President Jimmy Carter commuted the sentence after 22 months in prison. She was granted full pardon by President Bill Clinton.

Patty Hearst is now married and lives a quiet life with her husband and two daughters. After this episode, the “Stockholm Syndrome” is now being referred to as “Patty Hearst Syndrome”.

Prime candidates for Patty Hearst Syndrome are:

1. People who suffer from severe isolation.
2. People who get depressed a lot
3. People who have had emotional and physical abuse like a battered spouse, incest victim, abused child, prisoner of war, cult victim, kidnapped victim, or a hostage victim.

The earlier they realize (or people close to them realize) they have this syndrome the easier the treatment will be by a psychiatrist.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Child Air Traffic Controller

There is a news item that on February 16 an Air Traffic Controller at the JFK Airport in New York took his child to the Control Tower and let him direct the departure of a flight.

The Air Traffic Controller and his Supervisor were suspended. Investigation is pending. This is against FAA’s (Federal Aviation Administration) rule. Many people are outraged at this because it endangers the plane and the passengers. But some people, including the pilot who received the take off instruction from the child, think it is no big deal. That pilot is finding it as amusing.

In light of this, I have some suggestions:

We should let a surgeon’s child operate a patient.

I won’t say we should let a gynecologist’s child deliver a baby via cesarian section. That has already been done in India.

We should let a commercial pilot’s child fly a passenger plane.

We should let an investment banker’s child make a multi million dollar deal.

We should let a soldier’s child guard our borders.

We should let a politician’s child run the country. Come to think of it, in some countries, it is happening.

We should let a college professor’s child teach a course.

We should let a nurse’s child pass on the medication and inject medicines on patients.

We should let an engineer’s child build a dam or a bridge.

We should let a general’s child prepare a war strategy.

We should let a police inspector’s child go after a criminal.

We should let a bus driver’s child drive a bus.

We should let a lawyer’s child defend a person accused of murder.

May be these kids would do a better job than their dads. Who knows!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Week End Visit to Los Angeles

We spent a long week end in Los Angeles. Friday and Saturday can be described in 6 words:

Torrential Rain, Gusty Winds, Tsunami Warning

Sunday attended a Valaikappu-Seemandham ceremony of a Tamil couple. This religious ceremony is performed during the 6th or 8th month of pregnancy of a first child.

This family has been living in USA for more than 25 years. I was very pleased that they follow these customs and perform these ceremonies.

Valaikappu is a bangle ceremony. All women put bangles in the hands of the pregnant woman.

Seemandham is a religious ceremony done for the well being of the mother-to-be and the fetus. The sastrigal (priest) chants the mantras. At the end of the ceremony, the husband drops the banyan tree essence into the pregnant wife’s nose. It is supposed to go all the way to the mother’s womb and becomes like a protective mask for the stem cell.

(Sanjay and Mathruka)

An important part of the seemandham ceremony is that the function should end with a veena recital. The people in Los Angeles followed this tradition also.

No Indian function ends without yummy yummy food.


Heard this conversation in our host’s house in Los Angeles.

(Patti in Tamil means grandmother. Thatha means grandfather. The child’s name is Lucas. He is 3 years old. Even though he does not speak Tamil, he calls his parents “amma” and “appa” and grand parents “patti” and “thatha”.)

Living Room
Child: Patti, I want milk.
Patti: Go tell your thatha you want milk. He will give you.

The child comes to the Family Room.
Child: Thatha you want milk
Thatha: No

The child goes to the Living Room.
Child: Patti, thatha says no
Patti: Go tell your thatha I want milk. Then he will give you.

The child comes to the Family Room.
Child: Thatha, patti wants milk
Thatha: Ask patti to get it herself

The child goes to the Living Room.
Child: Patti, thatha wants you to get it yourself
Patti: Thatha did not understand you. Go tell him Lucas wants milk

The child goes to the Family Room
Child: Thatha, Lucas wants milk
Thatha: Come with me to the kitchen. I will get it for you.