Showing posts from September, 2012

When apes will rule the earth

Star Movies premiered the Rise of the Planet of the Apes on the weekend.   Having watched the classic  Planet of the Apes the previous day, I was looking forward to this.

While not in the same league as the classic, Rise of the... is a stunning portrayal of what is possible when science tries to control nature.  In the name of medical research, an ape is subjected to drugs which make it as smart as, or even smarter than man.   Before it goes mad and is killed, it gives birth to Caesar.  Caesar exhibits the same traits as its parent and is content to be a pet in the home of the scientist.  But not for long.  Once it is sent to live with other apes and subject to various atrocities and abuses, it undergoes a transformation.

Caesar rallies all the apes around him and then it is time for revenge.

What was pleasantly surprising about the movie was the location it was shot.  Since I had been to SFO barely a month back, I could recall some of the landmarks.  Muir Woods where Caesar is init…

BSNL Landline - RIP

On Sat, 15th Sep 2012, I surrendered my BSNL landline (and broadband) connection bringing to end a 12 year relationship with BSNL.

I still remember early 2000 when I got a landline within a few months of having applied for the same.  (Those were the days when there was a waiting time).   I had to pay an initial deposit of Rs.1000/- when booking and another Rs.2000/- in the first bill.

I took broadband when it became popular in Bangalore.  By and large, I had trouble-free telephone and internet access.

Then came the telecom privatisation and entry of Airtel, Reliance, Tata and so on.  These did not cause any effect on me, since I had no issues with my landline or broadband.  Also, BSNL rates were one of the lowest in the market.

I had set up an Electronics Clearance System (ECS) mandate so that my monthly bills were directly debited from my Bank account.  I had also opted for the annual plan, which entailed me to a two-month discount in the rental.

My first major issue came when I mo…

Nursery rhymes and absurd lyrics

Our son was exposed to the world of nursery rhymes when he was about 8 months or so through Infobells3D Nursery Rhymes.  Once he started developing interest, it became a "carrot" to make him have his food or sit in a place.

As he started watching the rhymes (yes - this was a video CD and not just audio), we got to see them as well.  Some of them were familiar (like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) and evokes memories of childhood days.  But there were others, which were quite unfamiliar.   The lyrics of some of them were surprisingly shocking.  Take Piggy on a railway for instance.   It goes...

Piggy on the Railway
Picking up stones;
Down came an engine,
And broke Piggy’s bones. ‘Ah !’ said Piggy,
“That’s not fair,”
“Oh !” said the engine driver,
“I don’t care !”

I can see so many things wrong with this rhyme.  For one, why on earth would a pig be interested in picking up stones and that too from a railway track?  Even if so, should it not be watching out for the train?   And …

Of ice cold water and piping hot coffee

If you are like me and like drinks at room temperature especially in cold weather, then you will have a tough time in US.  All water dispensers dispense cold water.  To add to it, in restaurants they add ice to water before serving.  
My office had a water dispenser which could serve both hot and cold water, but the hot part of it did not work.  I used to take a glass of ice-cold water, wait for it to "warm up" to room temperature before being able to drink.  In India, having been used to drinking  a glass or two in a gulp, it was a weird experience to do one sip at a time.
It is possible that Americans have better teeth than me, which can withstand the freezing temperature of water.   But I don't think they gulp down their ice-cold water.  So then why the ice?
In discussions with my friends, we came up with a theory that Americans are warm-bodied and needed cold water to cool them down.  This didn't make much sense, of course!
I took recourse to google to help me o…

A fortnight without cellphone calls

Can you imagine a day without getting a cell phone call or SMS?  Difficult, right?

I had a chance to experience a fortnight without this when I made a business trip to US for two weeks.  My company did give me a choice - a local cell phone or a calling card.  I chose the later.

I took my cell phone with me to US. Of course, it had no signal once I landed in US.  I saw the battery running out rapidly, as it tried to get a signal in vain. After a day or two, I realized I could do one thing that stopped it from doing that - turn the "Flight Mode on".

You will ask me why did I have the phone running. Ah, it was a smartphone. Besides the call, it did a few other things - alarm, music, camera to name a few. And internet (through wi-fi).  Since both my office and hotel had wi-fi, I could use the phone to do stuff on the 'Net!

In fact, the phone saved the day on my first day at work, when I reached my office at 8 AM and found myself facing a locked door.  My phone picked up my …