News

Yesterday, I heard something bizarre from one of my friends. The United States has its own definition of what it terms “NEWS”. Basically, it should be dramatic to the point of taking notice, but not dramatic enough to cripple the economy and make it hobble on crutches for months afterward. Which is why, the mortgage crisis and the internet bubble burst and 9/11 weren’t good. On the other hand, there is news just waiting to be reported. But, news from other countries (especially those with a sea between US and said country) doesn’t count for news at all.

So, the San Francisco Chronicle found it prudent to run a full-blown report on the shocking incident of birds now attacking people in San Francisco. (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/30/BA8317TUO2.DTL)

One of my friends just went walking on the street. One bird flew straight at her hair. Said friend ducked in time to avoid being in the trajectory of evidently direction-challenged-and-therefore-attacking flying bird. Out of thin air, a reporter materializes and asks her if she is willing to give an interview. A number of questions arise. How was the reporter there at exactly the same time? Would newspapers actually assign reporters to random street corners waiting for a bird to attack? Or was the bird trained for this in collusion with the reporter? If it is the latter, I would be very sorry for the new lows journalism has taken in this country!

My friend, passed up the opportunity to appear in the local news. I assured her that fame was a fickle friend, and it was best if she wasn’t recognized as the girl the birds attacked. Nevertheless, I stepped out for a few minutes and it looks like I could write a whole newspaper.

“Current generation less tolerant towards children.”
Now, that would sell a few papers surely. Well, I did hear two people say the following while waiting for the walk sign!
“You know, I just can’t stand them. I don’t know how people tolerate kids. “

This means/implies nothing other than the fact that one denizen doesn’t like children. I could also build a study around it, with entirely made up numbers and suddenly my news item gains a shade of credibility.

Here’s another one: Housing economy easing up” OR “Loans not as difficult anymore.”
What I heard on the street again was this:”You know, it’s like buying a house. A bank puts up 80% of the capital, and you just have to sign”
Evidently, some soul was being persuaded to buy a house, or some soul was telling somebody else how easy it is to buy a house, because suddenly, buying became “just signing”

Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get into the house, where I have my child waiting for me with love, to escape the birds.

Thank you!

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Camping

“Amma – Get up! The sun is setting – SEE?!”

I groggily sat and up and peered out. I had barely had an hour’s sleep. I could only manage to fall asleep after I could be reasonably assured that the howling wind around us would not life us and drop somewhere in the pacific ocean. We’d been camping and were spending the night in a tent. It’s supposed to be an insulated tent, but it’s not shaped like a boat! So it would have been a rough sail (if at all, such a thing sailed)

It was a beautiful morning. I corrected the excited daughter – “It is a sunrise, not a sunset!” As you can see, we aren’t one of those who rise before the roosters and wait for the sun to come up. So, the only time, the daughter has seen the sun low, is when it is setting. We had been camping with a bunch of kids (here’s proof!)

The whole experience was great fun, and was quite enough to jerk us out of our cubic worlds momentarily. Treks, hot tea, a waterside, excellent company – everything was just perfect. Even the squabbles were fun to watch. The sheer joblessness of a couple of 1-year olds against the perceived-important-but-equally-jobless 7 year olds, the whipping wind against the tea reluctantly holding its warmth, the good food with the chatter.

I was dubious when we started. The car trunk looked like we were moving houses. Sleeping bags, tents, shoes, jackets all jostled for space. Sure though I was, that we wouldn’t use half of them, I was unsure of leaving anything behind just in case. It’s not like we were taking the moon shuttle to get off in space for a night of camping. We were going to be half-an-hour away from an outlet mall! I seemed to have tired out even before starting!

I had only to reach the spot and inhale the beauty of the place, when all my reluctance vanished with a wisp. In fact, I was thereafter, quite the hearty soul! The only dampener to the exciting trip was the wind. It whipped up with such ferocity – and wouldn’t relent. It raged and stomped through the night – till around 4:30 a.m. But any day, another camping trip is welcome.

Ahh- I love camping!

Camping

“Amma – Get up! The sun is setting – SEE?!”

I groggily sat and up and peered out. I had barely had an hour’s sleep. I could only manage to fall asleep after I could be reasonably assured that the howling wind around us would not life us and drop somewhere in the pacific ocean. We’d been camping and were spending the night in a tent. It’s supposed to be an insulated tent, but it’s not shaped like a boat! So it would have been a rough sail (if at all, such a thing sailed)

It was a beautiful morning. I corrected the excited daughter – “It is a sunrise, not a sunset!” As you can see, we aren’t one of those who rise before the roosters and wait for the sun to come up. So, the only time, the daughter has seen the sun low, is when it is setting. We had been camping with a bunch of kids (here’s proof!)

The whole experience was great fun, and was quite enough to jerk us out of our cubic worlds momentarily. Treks, hot tea, a waterside, excellent company – everything was just perfect. Even the squabbles were fun to watch. The sheer joblessness of a couple of 1-year olds against the perceived-important-but-equally-jobless 7 year olds, the whipping wind against the tea reluctantly holding its warmth, the good food with the chatter.

I was dubious when we started. The car trunk looked like we were moving houses. Sleeping bags, tents, shoes, jackets all jostled for space. Sure though I was, that we wouldn’t use half of them, I was unsure of leaving anything behind just in case. It’s not like we were taking the moon shuttle to get off in space for a night of camping. We were going to be half-an-hour away from an outlet mall! I seemed to have tired out even before starting!

I had only to reach the spot and inhale the beauty of the place, when all my reluctance vanished with a wisp. In fact, I was thereafter, quite the hearty soul! The only dampener to the exciting trip was the wind. It whipped up with such ferocity – and wouldn’t relent. It raged and stomped through the night – till around 4:30 a.m. But any day, another camping trip is welcome.

Ahh- I love camping!

Pensick

Those were the days! The years when the heart was young, and the palpable energy of youth was looking for an outlet. The finality of the written word against the hazy thought circulating in the throes of the brain.

I revered my heroes with an insane love. I liked my hero to be either maroon or green. I rather liked the green for luck, and the maroon for looks. With my heroes by my side, I could tear any examination apart, I could make the protoganist of any novel cry through my sarcastic witticisms. In short, I truly believed in the power of the pen.

Yes, another one of my quirks. I was very attached to my pens. I had two “Hero” pens as they were called. I took care of them. While the apes among us used their hero ink-pens as darts, I polished them, made sure they were filled with ink, and were never insulted with a bent nib. The pen somehow aided my flow of thoughts.

The ballpoint pens nestled in the box too. The sleek and thin Reynolds. The super-hero that could save you, when you had to ditch the quaint calligraphic style and rush in a hurriedly drafted incorrect assignment.

Through my college, I stuck to my hero-pen and reynolds ballpoint pens. They were my friends.

Then, something sad happened. I entered the corporate world – the world of mass production and abundance as it were. I tell you, the more people earn, the pettier they become. At one point, people started perceiving free pens as a component of their salary! I once saw a person stuff his pants with free pens (I had to keep trying not to think how/where it would poke when he sat!) I lost the awe for pens – ruined forever! I could pick up any pen, that looked exactly like any other free pen in the office. As long as I tried not to imagine it being used a tooth-pick, or a gum-substitute or a ear-bud by somebody else, it would give me the same experience.

I am penstalgic and I want my own special pens once more. (Yes, I made up the word penstalgic – Bad? Yes, I know! But I am sure I could come up with a better word if I had a pen I was attached to!)

Laptop retirement schemes

What is a laptop?

Pardon me, but I am in the mood for pedantic explanations. It is a portable device with a processor that can be used without constraining the user to a particular geographical location. Wireless routers just worked hand-in-hand with this definition, because you were not required to have the network cable plugged in.

Have you seen this advertisement where an old grandmother uses the laptop as a cutting board/pizza pan/baking/cleaning surface etc? If you haven’t, then here it is.
http://current.com/items/89889276_funny-ad-grandma-proof-laptop.htm

I wouldn’t say our laptop was stress-tested by a grandmother, but it has been stress-tested by a budding family. The device has aged gracefully in my opinion. The first signs started with the wireless. It now remains immobile by being chained to a network cable because the wireless doesn’t work anymore.

After hours with a customer specialist, nothing was achieved – in fact, the last of the calls finished with the exasperating statement from the husband telling the CSR that he was a network engineer, and has tried “right clicking and hitting repair” several times before calling! Unfortunately, customer service representatives are not trained to handle network engineers who have already tried Option X on their list, and our wireless died.

Never one to chicken out this easily, we just bought a network cable long enough to stretch across the Golden Gate Bridge and restored a certain mobility to it. I think the laptop sulked for a while, and tried acting up because of the leash, but seeing the other option – that of jostling for space on the tiny computer table, decided to work with the leash instead.
One time, it whined too loudly and the sound blasters stopped working. So, now, we could attach those over-the-ear speaker phones at the sound socket, and listen to sound. Here’s a hint, it isn’t worth the trouble. For one, you can never find the headphones when you need them. One of my friends is a popular audio-blogger, and that meant letting go of tuning in to her site every now and then to listen to some treats (hey, she wouldn’t miss one of her fans not being able to listen as much I miss listening to her songs!)

“It is still functional though”, I argue weakly. “Yeah? Tell me one thing you still enjoy doing with the thing?” demands the network-engineer-husband. “I can still see photos, and I love to do that!” I counter. I wear a smug smile on my face and move towards the laptop again. It’s spooky, it was like the laptop HEARD me, and in a last bid to free itself ruined the screen. All I could see was red and blue all over. It had streaks all over, and if I squinted my eyes and tilted my face, I
could still find the icons on the desktop.

Then, one day, one of us went somersaulting on the long cable. The flying sensation was not good for 2 reasons:
1) The actual airborne sensation was exceptionally short-lived and

2) The body doesn’t take easily to falling-by-tripping-on-network-cables that easily. Maybe a respectable fall while running/playing, it can still manage. But tripping on a network cable? Your body asks : “Dude seriously?!” And then, just hurts like crazy!

So, now the cable is bundled up and tied with a rope, and the laptop jostles for space with the computer anyway. It really can’t whine too much, because the sound blasters are gone, and if I squint hard enough, I can find the mozilla icon somewhere.

I am not sure if laptop societies had any laws on retirement per se, but mine really seems to have reached the end of it’s reign. It’s time my laptop retired – what do you say?