Thursday, March 29, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull

The fourth in the long line of adventures of Indiana Jones, this time taking him to Peru to put the crystal skull which has supposedly magical power and out of the hands of the Soviet colonel (played by Cite Blanchet). Also on the way he meets Shia LaBeouf, who he knows is his never known son. Action and adventures galore in the old fashioned way. A good movie to watch especially on the big screen. Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies- The Thing (2011)

Updated special effects remake of the 1982 movie (which was a remake of the 1950s Movie of the same name). If you have seen one you have seen all but for those who want to update their viewing library, this one is for the dumpster as it is bloody and have decent special effects regarding a team of international researchers who stumble upon an alien creature thawed in ice who comes to life after it released from the ice and wrecks havoc with the researchers and kills them in the process taking over the bodies of researchers and continuing its destruction. Not recommended

The Human Resources development reality

In the years before the Human resources department of a corporation or an entity used to be called Personnel department (in some places it still do) but on the way some smart person decided that it would be nice and much better and sophisticated sounding name of Human Resources should be more appropriate to put on their Personnel department and then this trend started. And here I have some argument with that. I have rarely seen a Human Resources department where they really develop the Human Resources as it should be. The Human Resources department is one of the most neglected of any entity (unless you want to hire somebody and deal with your personal matters). Development of Human Resources has long been abandoned and now most of the entities demand that the person whom they are hiring should be well versed in the job they are getting hired for.

One of the requirements of the Human Resources department should be to develop the new recruits and have continued development of the current ones otherwise the Human Resources department is just a post office where you get your personal details and requirements sorted out. Either the name should be changed back to Personnel Department (which is more appropriate) or a real effort should be made to develop the Human Resources for which the name stands for. It is no use masking the true nature of the Human Resources when everybody knows what they are doing in the first place-recruiting and catering to the personnel details of their current employees and not much developing.

The fragility of the humans

As I have mentioned in my blog before that my recently my mother in law passed away. As we were burying her and I was standing on top of the empty grave and the thought of a person going in that place made me cry a lot that I started to imagine that this is how the end of humans come too. Granted that many people do cremate their loved ones (that is another story) but most of the people are still buried and so come to think of it, human beings are very fragile and not at all what you see outside with their egotistical existence and arrogance shown all above. What I started to realize that all these CEO, Presidents, Generals and powerful politicians and influential business have all one thing in common with ordinary folks like us is that all have to go one day. Maybe they may elaborate and expensive funerals but all are buried in the ground (or cremated in some cases).

In the United States, they say that Death and Taxes are certain but all over the world the only thing certain is Death. You may be the most powerful man (or woman) in your country but when you die you get to have only six feet of land on which your body lie. The Fragile nature of human beings are most of the times ignored and people go about doing their business as if they are going to live forever but the harsh reality is that we all have to go and at that moment we are at the mercy of others to make sure we get a decent burial (or cremation) and that is where you will find the human finally the most venerable and fragile.

What's up with getting there early?

Recently the New IPAD® was launched and people waited in lines for days to get their hands on that gadget. Although by the looks of the reviews, it seems that it is just a glorified IPAD® 2 with better quality things (Disclosure: I have not owned or tried any of the IPAD®) but here my point is that the fanaticism of some people to wait for days to be number one in line to get their hands on the latest gadgets. Another one was the recently introduced Nike® footwear which was selling as hot cakes and during the first day of sales, fights broke out to get their hands on them. I can't understand why there is so much impatient to get their hands on the first day and even the first hour. Can people not wait a few days and get the items, it is the same item that people have the same day and you are not going to get a different version in a few days.

It is not only with the latest products but even with movies, people want to the first one to see it and then brag about it online or with their friends. Is it just me or are people just don’t have the patient to wait to get their hands on things. My philosophy is let other people try it and if it is okay then I can go ahead and buy it and anyway it is really hard to stand in line at wee hours of the day and night to get a hand on a stuff which will be available after that anytime. I guess people have too much time on their hands. If I have been sponsored and paid by somebody else then I can stand in line otherwise patience is a virtue for me and for some others too.

Capturing life with Pictures-2

Even if you don’t take pictures of human beings or your loved ones, there are many who take picture of inanimate objects. This may include buildings or just natural scenery. Animals are another category that people are fond of taking pictures and then put them online for everybody to see. Pictures are just capturing a special and not so special moment in one's lives weathering it is a flattering image or just plain being yourself or any other object. I don’t know of anybody who has not indulged in taking pictures. You even see people on tourists sites requesting other people to take pictures of their families and small children are at the forefront of being in the picture. Parents are specially obsessed with taking almost every picture of their babies and kids to cherish them maybe in their older years when their kids have left their homes.

Fond memories and stories behind those pictures captivate and fascinate the heart of the loved ones and the people seeing them. If you also see some movies the picture is a central part of that movie and it comes alive with many stories behind them. Right now just writing about the taking pictures makes me wonder if I have taken enough pictures of my family to live later part of my life relying on them to reminiscent of the previous times and put a smile on my face or make me cry remembering the long gone era.

Capturing life with Pictures

Photography is a hobby many people adopt, sometimes they do it professionally but most of the times, they want to capture a certain moment in their lives or other things surrounding them. I also use to take pictures but not so lately but I believe that it is really an important part of people's lives to engage in taking pictures. If I did not have pictures or nobody would have taken pictures of myself and my family and extended ones, I would have missed out at important and not so important moments in my life which I now cherish and live with it. Like when I was little I had pictures with my dad on several occasions, that was the happy times and I remember where I was when that important moment was forever captured on picture.

The pictures have enabled me to show my kids how their grandfather looked like and my sisters looked like and their cousins in faraway places. Even when you go to vacation, you try to capture as much pictures as possible to relish that time and then you post it on your face book account for everybody to see and enjoy with you. Every picture conveys its own history and story behind it and even years after you have taken them, you remember the exact moment you have taken that picture. Taking picture is an art which some people take very seriously and spends thousands of dollars on equipment to take a picture as perfect and as sharp as possible and then show their masterpiece to their family and friends.

Living with Memories

When someone dies or if you have done something in the past, you get to live it through your memories. It can be bad memories which despite your efforts does not vanish or fade away from your mind or there can be good memories which you hold onto it and try to remember as much as possible. As with all human beings I also live through my memories. As already mentioned I lost my father (whom I was extremely close and loved him dearly) in 2009 and since that time, I live with the memories I had with him overwhelmingly good memories throughout the years.

Talking to him, taking advice from him, going to grocery stores and doctors office and just chilling around is so vividly remembered that I smile every time it comes to my mind. It is like a DVD recorder being played over and over again and the memories do not get erased forever.

Wearing the stuff he gave me on my birthday and helping me out with my first home and my education and just plain looking at stuff reminds me of how he was and how he enjoyed life with his family and others. The same thing can happen with any person and when someone dies it is these memories that you pass along to your kids and that makes you keep on going on and you live your life with it and don’t want to let it go.

Seeking pets-2

I did not got to see the dog section since we were looking for cats and there were kids with their parents checking out the cats. And once they liked it they were taken out of their respective cages and put in a big one with their prospective adoptive family to make sure they are comfortable with each other. We liked two cats, one was shy one and the other one had a leg broken (now healed) who wanted a house with a cat already in. After making acquaintance with the family, my nieces' uncle family decided to adopt the cat (it was a male). The adoption process was smooth but a long one with all sorts of papers, including ownership and health certificates, their food intakes and all the related things that the cat needs for their new adoptive home. They had already brought a cage for the cat but it was small compared to the cat so they had to buy another big one from there.

The faces of the kids adopting the cat were superb like they have conquered some city. On our way back, the cat kept on making small noises occasionally maybe to let us know about his feelings of being caged in or being taking to a new place. When we reached their home, I was already getting late for my trip home to New Jersey, so I was unable to find out how the new cat adopted to his new place with another cat already there. Pet adoption can be a breezy process but to get used to them and they to you and your surroundings is another matter.

Seeking pets

A few weeks ago I went to see my nieces and sister in Rhode Island. My nieces are huge Cat lovers and they have five cats at home. Their uncle has also become a fan of them and when I reached there they took me to a cat show in Providence, Rhode Island. An amazing assortment of cat lovers and cats greeted me there. Every kind I guess was there including breeders who sell kittens. Since it was in Rhode Island, mostly the cat owners were from the North East area as far back as Pennsylvania. Although the cats looked beautiful but the maintenance scares me a bit. It is not about the money but the taking care of them and making sure they are okay with food, health, safety and cleanliness makes me a little hesitant to keep it in the house. Although I had parrots, birds and chicks but never cats or dogs or any other animal and I am not about to have one right now.

Anyway after looking at the cats with awe and weary eyes (although my nieces were having a ball with the cats). My nieces’ uncle decided to go the Animal rescue league of Boston to adopt a cat they have seen on the internet. After driving almost for an hour, we reached Boston and the office of the league. I have never been to an animal shelter and besides cats; they had a dog section, and also some birds, parrots and ferrets

A Family death

Recently my mother in law passed away after a two year battle with Multiple Myeloma (a form of blood cancer) (May her soul rest in peace). It was a heart wrenching to watch a young woman who was really started to enjoy her grandkids died. My wife who was very close to her was devastated since the thought of her going away so soon was too much to bear. My mother in law family tried their best to get her the best treatment in the best hospitals in New York but it was not meant to be. The Cancer was too much to bear. Even with all the advancements that human beings have achieved in the field of technology and other areas, the human body remains one tough mystery to crack.

Even with all the research being undertaken for cancer and some promising results, whenever you hear that a person has cancer you instantly believes that it is a death sentence on the person and their families. You can prolong their lives and maybe a chance that the cancer will go into remission but most of the time, it is just waiting and going to the doctors and trying to make your loved ones happy but it is really very heart wrenching especially when it is your parents and kids and siblings, it is hard to prepare yourself for the inevitable day of reckoning since you know that it can come anytime. This is what is happening now with my wife since the acceptance phase that her mother is gone takes a lot of time. Believe me I know since the time my Father passed away more than three years ago I still can't believe that he is gone and I would not see him again in this world.

The manipulation of History

There has always been a grand scale distortion and manipulation of history not only by individuals but by countries. Most of the time it is to conceal the truth about their past and other times to suppress their population and others to question past deeds of their countries. You can say that since history is in the past and is written by historian who may or may not be on the payroll of the government or maybe from the majority of that country, there is always a bias in mentioning different episodes in history which may not be flattering or depict the current regime in not so favorable conditions. It has been going on throughout history and is not a recent phenomenon.

There are many instances like the Armenian killings in the early twentieth century, the rape of Nanking by the Japanese Imperial Army, the systematic near extermination of Jewish population by the Nazis, the creation of Bangladesh from Present Pakistan and the resulting atrocities on both sides, the killings in Cambodia and Laos, in Rwanda and Congo and now in Syria and so many other places. Now if you see the books of those countries very few of them will mention correctly what happened since no body was there to witness it. It is all about he said, she said. Most of it is done to conceal the fact that the governments don’t want to acknowledge that their previous generations were complacent in the unholy deeds and at other times, there are some ultra nationalists in their population who genuinely believe that it was done out of necessity or not done at all. Anyway it is really very dangerous when you suppress facts since the so called future generation of victims never gets justice.

The consequences of war

Now that the drums of war are being clearly heard from Israel and the U.S, nobody seems to think about the consequences of this war. All the obsession about the Iranians not getting the Nuclear Bomb has lost sight of the fact that War should be the last resort (and even not then) but do you believe that the if you are going to impose war on a country, then that country will take pounding after pounding without retaliation. I believe that since Iraq and Syria did not respond to the Israeli hits on their country, Iran will do the same. But just for one minute if I was Iran would I have not studied how Israel struck both those countries and got away with it unscratched. The Iranians have all the time in the world to play the game of getting hit by the Israel and/or the U.S. and how they would respond.

I believe they have been studying all the scenarios of what if they build the bomb and what consequences they will encounter from the west if they do find themselves in defense of their country. I don’t know if the U.S. or the Israel have created a scenario that what would really happen if they attack Iran and what if they don’t succeed, will Iran learn from the North Korean and speed up their allegedly weapons program so they are not attacked by anyone. Anyway before rushing into war, we need to think hard about the consequences it can unleash in the Middle East and the world.

Change or perish

There have been many instances when the old companies are slow to adopt to the changing technology that is sweeping their industries or generally overall and they miss the boat and ultimately go out of business. Well if you don’t keep up with times and skills and technology you are bound to be left behind and perish. Individuals who resist learning new skills and technology are left behind with few jobs or even no jobs and then they blame anybody but themselves for their predicament. The same happens with companies even the ones as simple as selling clothing and regular merchandise, if they don’t change with the times, adapt new fashions or even reach out to the new social media, they go out of business.

Without naming any names in industry, you can see that the stores of yesteryears are no more, even the ones who have been around us for more than hundred years and were pioneers in their fields at the time, have been left in the dust since their founders or their CEO were slow to adapt to new business methods and new technology. It is hard to adapt to new technology and changing tastes of customers especially for those companies who have been in the forefront of old technology, but time does not remain the same forever and if they don’t change, then they perish and then they become part of history taught in business schools of how not to become like them.

The gas prices volatility continues

The price to fill up your car has been going up due to higher gas prices all across. You can blame it on the government but more so it is due to the demand and supply and also the Middle East tensions that is being escalated between Iran and the West over the former's allegedly nuclear program. But also due to the fact that the American economy is doing much better than the Europeans and thus more demand for gasoline. People have started to complain about the gas prices and blaming it on the incumbent President but he may have little to do with the supply and demand. The global oil market is dynamic enough that it does not follow the dictates of any superpower unless there are major geopolitical tensions and thus we come back to the wild card Iran situation.

Summer season is going to start soon and demand will go up dramatically and if the war between Iran and West Start or if Israel attacks Iranian nuclear facilities then the resulting tension will increase the price of gasoline very much. Since if you attack a country, that country being as important as Iran will lash out at anything that will hurt the west and right now with the world economy recovery slowly moving along, the resultant price hike of gasoline will scuttle that recovery and even may push the world economy to recession once again (unless Saudis and other oil countries take up the missing oil which is a big if). So for now we will be seeing much gas price volatility for the near future. Stay tuned

Thursday, March 15, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-Contagion-Gwyneth paltrow, matt damon, jude law, kate winslet, Laurence fishbure

Fantastic movie about how a virus spreads and creates worldwide panic and destruction in its path. The detection, spread, cure and ultimate antivirus story is fascinating with good acting by everybody involved. It also shows how internet can spread news quickly and sometimes falsely panic people. Highly Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Alvin and the chipmunks 2 the Squeakquel

Those chipmunks are back in this cute squeal to the hit movie, this time going to school and pairing with their female version to win money for their school. Usual music and comedy. But only the first time was the charm for me. Good for kids, adults should skip this.

On the lighter side-Movies-Paranormal Activity 3

Prequel to the earlier hit movies, this is about when it all started with creepy happenings going on in a house. Not that great but I still don’t understand how it made loads of money. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Doghouse (2009)

Horror comedy from Britain regarding six friends who try to cheer up a friend going through a divorce by going to a small village and find cannibal females who are only after male flesh. Hit or miss comedy with stupid gore. Not much scary or horror about it. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Blitz (2011)

Action movie with Jason Statham as a copy trying to track down a serial killer targeting cops in England. Not much action, too much talk and slow pace sinks this movie. A waste of action star talent Jason Statham. Not recommended.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Streaming wars

If you are like millions of Americans you may have now noticed that there have been more choices than ever to watch movies on your computer without the bothersome work of downloading. It is called streaming and it is just like DVD player in that you can fast forward, stop, pause, rewind, start again, raise volume, change the movie screen size and do almost anything that you DVD player is supposed too with one exception. You don’t have to physically put the DVD inside the player in order to watch it. Although the quality is questionable at best right now but it is improving rapidly due to the increase use of faster broadband internet and with this popularity has come the wars among different old media providers and new startup players.

The Streaming war among media providers is heating up in this exciting field. Every now and then there is an announcement that new players are entering the market to provide streaming shows and movies to customers. It is good for the customers since they have more choices and with that lower price but ultimately with all the other industries there will come a time when a correction will have to take place and only the strongest will survive and the weak ones will exit either due to content restriction or financing issues. In order to side line the restrictions of content providers, the streamers will have to finance their own exclusive shows and movies in order to differentiate them from the crowd and that will again mean only the financially strong will be able to survive in this brutal field.

On the lighter side-Movies-Horrible bosses

Very funny movie about three friends (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) who becoming fed up with the bosses ( played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrel and Jennifer Anniston) decides to kill them with super hilarious results. Very good acting by everybody. Don’t miss this gem of a movie. Highly Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Quarantine 2: Terminal

Sequel in name only to the Spanish hit REC, this time in the terminal of an airport where the remaining passengers of a plane are quarantined after they become infected. Nothing new here just a cheap sequel with cheaper settings and some gore to give it an air of horror. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Gutterballs (2008)

Extremely violent and low budget movie which starts with an extended rape inside a bowling alley and then the bloods start flowing. Extremely graphic sex and no holds barred violence and nauseatingly gory movie. Not Recommended for anybody

On the lighter side-Movies-Final Destination 5 (3D)

Another one in the long series this time in 3D (which is kind of wearing me out) about a bunch of kids trying to cheat death and finding out that you can't. As I have already wrote in my blog I am a sucker for sequels but to be true there is nothing new in them so if you don’t want to be like me avoid this rehash of a movie with 3D novelty added in to make sucker out of people. Not Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Immortals

Another Greek Mythology with less violence than usual but good special effects with a King (Mickey Rourke) trying to fight gods after they ignore his pleas to save his wife and family and unleashing the titans to fight the Greek Gods. Better production values save this movie from oblivion. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Easy A

Emma Stone gives a stellar performance whose one lie snowballs into rumor mill gone mad in this cute and highly entertaining movie. She plays a school give who lies about sleeping with a boy and it gets tongue wagging in the school and her reputation goes down. A good cast of Amanda Bynes and Lisa Kudrow adds to the fun. Very much Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Tactical Force (2011)

Another action vehicle for the former wrestling star Steve Austin who heads an Los Angeles Swat team who become trapped in a hanger swarming with criminals. The usual standard action and cheaply made, with Michael Jai White as his assistant. Not Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Black Forest (2012)

As science fiction movies goes, this is pretty straight forward, a group of tourists are conned into going into an enchanted forest with nightmarish bedtime stories come to life. Uninspired acting mars this movie which has nothing to recommend. Better off watching some other horror/science fiction movie with better budget. Not Recommended