Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Old age woes-2

People think that doing all kind of exercises and eating healthy food and having plastic surgery will keep them young for a long time but that time catches up pretty fast as you face various kinds of diseases and your visits to the doctors and pharmacy are increased many fold. Your pace of walking and working whatever you are doing slows down too. Your memory goes down too and you can become a victim of a financial crime which if you are not careful can devastate your life in old age. Although it is a blessing that you have reached an age which is supposedly your golden age but by reaching this age you also become like a child as when a child is dependent on their parents for everything, you also become dependent on your kids and grandkids to do some of the arduous tasks that you cannot do in your old age. When I see an old person, I don’t know if I should feel sorry for them or be envious as feeling sorry means that they are not able to perform as they were before when they were young and envious that they have reached that age which many of us assume will reach there not knowing if we will given the world we live in now. And old folks in your family and relatives are a blessing also since they have much greater experience than you have and thus old age is a mix of blessing and woes but one fact is that every body has to become old and if you have any wishes you should have it fulfilled in your young age because the old age is not the time for regrets but for reflection and looking forward to depressingly your last years of your lives on earth.

Old age woes

First of all what is old age, maybe your kids will say that you are old when you hit past 40 or 45 and according to the government you are old when you reach 50 or even 67 when you collect your social security or even less time than that. But what I am thinking about the number is 70 and above and that is when people will say that you are old since most of the old people start to get dependent on other people and friends and family members for help and support. It does not mean that you become incapacitated or not functional; it just means that you don’t have the same kind of strength and you also face illness of various kinds and are susceptible to many kinds of diseases which need constant doctor visits and other health related issues. You drive slowly and take your own time to do things which you would have done pretty fast when you were young. Old age is not a disease or sickness that only few people will get. Everybody will get old sooner or later and have to face some challenging choices to things which you were taken for granted when you were young. On the other hand you get to enjoy your grand kids and have your retirement and do what you love the most without worrying about the time and when to get up and when to do certain things but that is secondary to what you have to deal with as your bones and your health deteriorates slowly even if you are in the best of your fitness.

Governments relying on Gambling-2

Now the basic rule is the house always wins meaning there is no way the house, meaning the Casino will lose money on a single gambler but with these increasing competition chasing the same amount of dollars (or even less) how many Casinos or gambling areas does a whole area need. Before it was Atlantic City but with the increasing competition, the year 2014 was not good for the city as it lost 4 Casinos without adding any. Now instead of going all the way to Atlantic City which is by the way more than two hours even from my house in north New Jersey, people have the options to go to their own states near their homes. And if this was not enough, North New Jersey is trying to have Casinos in Jersey City and in the meadowland areas which will put a death kneel to anything Atlantic City trying to recover. Everybody knows that when there is more competition in gambling, there will be less revenue and Casinos are not the only venue to gamble as New Jersey has introduced internet gambling and lottery is another type of gambling. I believe that the state governments know that people are averse to raising taxes and the best way to raid their wallets is through gambling but whereas it was only one state raking in all the money, now the same pot of money is being shared by several states but the gambling money is the same or maybe slightly higher. So the more they issues permits to Casinos, the more the same amount of money will be divided among the states and Casinos and at the end the revenue raised will be the same as before. But to rely on gambling is just another way of showing that the state governments have lost the creative touch to increase revenues without resorting to gambling and gambling does not create any new industry or raise the skill level of people involved in it or the general community.

Governments relying on Gambling

Everybody knows that gambling is an addiction and the governments know about it but faced with increasing costs and declining revenues; they keep on ramping up gambling options for people who can ill afford it. Recently New York state approved a number of permits to be issued for casinos in various parts of the state that are supposedly distressed and this the solution that they can all find so that people can get jobs and programs can be funded. The state governments desperate for cash and provide jobs to the economically depressed areas of the state had many permits pending and they decided to give some of them a try in the hopes that gamblers will come to these areas and not the ones that are already operating in other parts of the states and also in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and other others states nearby. Twenty or so years ago, Atlantic City in New Jersey was the only player on the east coast to rival the only other town in the U.S. Las Vegas, where gambling was allowed and it was flourishing. But the word flourishing is not the right word as the area surrounding the Casinos were a neglected rot and a dangerous place to walk at night. I know that because I have been there at that time when prostitution was openly thriving and gamblers from all over the East coast were betting their luck. Nothing was being done to the areas outside the Casinos despite all the rhetoric the politicians were making and this gambling was bound to bring competition.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

On the lighter side-Movies-We still kill the old way (2014-Britain)

Fun movie about the confrontation between the old generation of gangsters and the new ones. Good pacing and nice movie never knew when the time passed. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Sex tape (2014)-Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz

A couple try to reignite their sex life tape their sex making and accidentally upload on their computer resulting in a frantic search to erase it from the cloud before the whole world sees it in this hit or miss sometimes comedy movie. It is okay but not that what I had hoped for. Not Recommended

Too much North Korea

If you have noticed lately North Korea has been in the news so much lately that I am being overdosed with it. It seems that it has been local news as the news of the hacking of SONY® computers have overshadowed everything. The back and forth with the hacking and the accusations that North Korea was involved in it has been big news lately and everybody (including myself) have been trying to figure out what's up in the most reclusive country of the world. Even if don’t see the leader for a few weeks, the media is all over the buzz thinking what is happening with the intelligence agencies of the west (notably CIA) and the South Koreans and the Chinese speculating about what is going on. All this free publicity must be a GOD send to the North Koreans as they have been in the news so much that it is becoming nauseating that you cannot escape a day without hearing anything about that country on the internet, in the newspapers and in the general media. I know that all the intelligence agencies are obsessed with North Korea since they have the atomic bomb and their leadership is very erratic and unpredictable in their actions and you never what they will do next but I mean can we lay off North Korea for a while, since we have other urgent things to do. The more we give coverage to North Korean news, the more they will do something outrageous or some small thing which will be blown out of proportion and the cycle goes on. I know that media need constant news and they know that the North Korean news can be milked but can we give minor coverage to the news so that it does not come right in our faces everything we open the internet or the newspapers or the television.

The latest hacks on computers

Recently one of the largest electronic companies SONY®'s computer system came upon a massive attack in which reportedly 100 Terabytes of files were hacked into of which some 1 or 2 terabyte of information including some movies which are not yet in theaters were released. The attack was so massive and purportedly aimed at crippling SONY® so much that initially they decided not to release their movie The Interview for which the attackers had warned not to release it since it mocks the leadership of North Korea. The attack was later determined to be from North Korea although North Korea has denied it. All this hacking is going on and the companies have still not been able to strengthen their computer security. They just treat these attacks as the price they have to pay for technology and they prepare the general public to go along with it without taking much responsibility. If you have read about the leaks, there seems to be a very less security at the computers hacked. Every other day I here that some company's servers have been hacked and people's social security numbers, email addresses and credit card numbers have been breached. I don’t understand that how long the companies think that they can get away with lax security and how long the public will tolerate these companies whose computer system is susceptible to attacks. I for one am sick and tired of all these hackings and until the public in general start to boycott the companies where these breaches have occurred and force them to do something about it, these kind of events will keep on happening.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Rain and umbrella-2

If you have noticed that every time it rains you will see people selling umbrellas for prices which they would not dare sell in rainless days and some desperate people buy it just because they don’t want to get wet. If it is raining it is fine with me but if there is wind associated with people I am pissed off. I have seen many people juggling umbrellas in the wind driven rain and some umbrellas or I should say most of the umbrellas, the cheap ones are not equipped to handle this kind of weather so they break up. One time I brought an umbrella in the afternoon during raining and in the evening it got broken because of the wind. And umbrellas come in all shapes and sizes, the bad part is the bigger ones are hard to carry in your handbags and bag packs. Those are the kinds I avoid having with me since I already have a bag pack to carry and on top of that I have to carry a big umbrellas is not my standard mode of operation. Now my problem is that some of the people hold umbrella while it is not raining which is really dangerous as they keep on moving it back and forth and don’t let other people walk by when there are lot of people around and when there is rain, some umbrellas are big enough to hit you in the eye. This constant fight between holding the umbrella properly and fighting of the rain sometimes frustrate me and I try to walk as fast as possible by these kinds of people. I know that some of the people reading this post will agree with me as they maybe as guilty as the people mentioned, but respect for other people’s spaces should be observed even if you fighting off a wind driven rain where you are the ultimate loser since the rain will soak you with or without the umbrella.

Rain and umbrella

Via my different posts I have established that I love the rain, not the heavier kind but the light and sometimes sprinkle kind where it is okay to get yourself soaked but not that much. The wind driven rain I hate it very much as it you don’t know which direction the rain is and you are getting hit by water from all over the places. And with rain comes the issue with how to avoid getting yourself wet if it is really pouring that you don’t like to get drenched in water. Sometimes you can just wait under a shade and wait for the rain to either slow down considerably or stop but sometimes you are in a hurry and can’t wait for the rain to stop and it seems that the rain is not going to stop anytime soon and instead of wasting your time waiting for the rain to stop, you decide to either walk faster or just run wherever you can to avoid as much rain as possible and reach your destination. When it comes to rain, the overwhelming majority of people use umbrella. I have a jacket with a hoodie on so when it is raining lightly I just cover my head and walk a little faster although I have two umbrellas in my bag all the time but to take them out and put it on my head and then have the wet one get dried is a little bit of a chore to me. I have seen some people put on an umbrella even when there is a light rain falling and most of the people have not opened up their umbrella although still carrying it with them.

Looking for parking-6

These parking problems have not only become a problem in the U.S. but also around the world as I have read the pricing for some parking spots sold have gone into six figures in places where the spaces are severely limited. Manhattan in New York, Hong Kong in Asia and other crowded and congested city has a huge problem for parking spaces. As the standard of living of people increase, they desire to own a car as it is a convenient way to go around and also for some places where the public transportation is either scant or nonexistent. And in cities that demands parking spaces which have either have to be created along streets and roads or force people to pay hefty prices for premium spaces. Another option is to provide public transportation but since most of the transportation is not feasible in areas which are far from the city, there would always be an issue with this parking. I can keep on ranting about parking spaces but the truth is there is no easy solution to this ever growing problem. Amount of the space is the same but the numbers of cars are growing and love of the motor vehicle is so great that people spent hours and days of their lives looking for parking. The residential solution is to have parking under your house or above your house, both expensive alternatives and for the city , you can either completely ban cars entering at any moment of the day which will require extensive investment in public transportation or charge hefty prices for entering the city. Because pretty much I am disgusted every time I have to look for parking near or far.

Looking for parking-5

As I was saying, parking at your house either a driveway or a garage is a huge blessing especially if you live in an area where the space is premium as you know, now in the U.S. and also in other countries, you have more than one car in one's family and if you don’t have a garage and driveway with it, you are circling your neighborhood trying to find a space and competing with other driveway less and garage less people. Even if you happen to park your car near your house if you don’t have space in your house, you are still worried about those pesky street cleaning rules that you see all over the place in U.S. cities. You have to move your car from one side of the street to the other side when these rules come into effect and I have done that and it is not fun. If there is no street cleaning rules then you have other rules like two hour parking or no overnight parking. Another one is the handicap parking that is sometimes restrict your parking options as that area is dedicated to the disabled person who happens to live right in front of the sign. And if you happen to find a perfect parking space then you have to worry about your car being vandalized or some harm being done to it like getting hit at night by unknown car who in the dark of the night just keep on going since they don’t know the owner of the car who may or may not be living in front of it. I have heard many instances where some cars parking in the street have their tires slashed or their windows broken into and it is just hard to find the culprit.

Looking for parking-4

If you really have an urgent need you park right in front of the fire hydrant as it is the only space available which is not taken and you go and get done your chores in less time than you assume the cops will be there to ticket you. And this brings me to fire hydrant issue, sometimes in city especially when I am looking for a parking and I see from far that there is space, I become happy and rush to it only to find out it is either a fire hydrant or a drive way. No wonder the space is available since nobody can park there. And if you are not in the city and you are in the suburbs, you better make sure you have either a drive way or a garage for your car. Because parking can be a really troublesome burden if you don’t have one. One time I was in Long Island and we had to attend a religious gathering and on the way back had to stay at one of my in-laws. It was already 2.00 in the morning and I was tired but as you could have imagined there was no empty space to park my car. I kept on driving and driving around neighborhoods after neighborhoods in places that I did not know just to find parking. At that time of the night I did not care how far I could park as I just wanted a parking space so I can walk to the house with some luggage in tow. After about half an hour of wasting my time and gas, I managed to find a parking just a few blocks and had to take a sigh of relief but also of anger that some areas are really notorious in terms of parking spaces.

Looking for parking-3

And this entire parking thing I am talking about when you are living in a suburb, but when you drive into the city the situation changes entirely. As you already know it is already a nightmare driving through the city and if you have to park your car on the street, then it becomes super stressful. I know that there are various parking places in New York city or any other city in the U.S. but if you happen to be in New York city, the parking spaces for even one hour is outrageous, not to mentioned if you want to park for a few hours. The peril of parking on the street is first you have to find a parking spot which is mostly away from the place you want to shop or dine. The second one is you have to make sure that you have paid the parking money for the allotted time because if you lose track of the time when you paid your meter, you will get hit by massive parking fines which just defeats the purpose of saving money on parking in a parking garage. If you are alone and you want to park your car for a moment, it really becomes a crucial time consuming effort to park your car. If you are with your family, then you drop them off and find parking or if you they will be back in a moment, you try to double park which is another pain since you will hear the passing by cars honking and you have also to look out for cops so that you don’t either get ticketed or ordered to move from your place and since your family has already said that they will be back in a moment, you try to get back to the same double parking space and pray that your family comes back before the cops do.

Looking for parking-2

Finding a parking space has become one of the hated chores that is on the top of the list of what not to do but it is unavoidable. Once you believe that you are going to go shopping that dreaded feeling of dropping off your family near the stop and you trying to find a space become a stressful event. Most of the bigger stores and malls have designated parking spaces but it is the smaller and especially stores which share parking spaces with other stores in the vicinity that drives me nuts. I am being paranoid since I don’t want to walk that much to reach a store which does dampen your spirit to shop but seriously if I cannot find parking, I just go back and come another time since I deem that the item I am trying to shop can wait for some other time of the day or even another day. It just seems like I am being bitter like if I cannot find parking it is not worth it but it is just very frustrating and makes me angry about not finding a parking. There have been reports of people fighting over parking spots and even a killing because of who was there first to get the parking. Parking is one of the most stressful items when you go for shopping because despite a new evidence that suggest that there is plenty of parking if you walk a little bit away from near the stores, people still tend to believe that there is no parking and I am also witness to empty spaces not far away from the stores that the parking spaces are available.

Looking for parking

Like millions of people out there, I am also guilty of trying to find parking as near to the store as possible. It is not a problem when it is a normal weekend as you would find parking nearby but when it comes to holidays as the December holiday, your nightmarish experience with parking really goes off. A few days ago I went to get Ice Cream and there was literally no parking and even the ones with metered were also full. I checked and realized that since it was the holidays there had come up with free two hours parking which they say will be strictly enforced, I don’t know how but that was the wording written on the plastic bags on top of the meters. It was a small town and they have plenty of parking near the stores even with meters but this time around there was none. I was willing to walk a little further but still no luck so out of frustration I went home with the determination to get a parking and get my favorite dessert Ice Cream. My point is that sometimes you waste a lot of time and gas just trying to find parking in a place preferably near the store in which you want to shop. And I will be the first one to admit that I am guilty of that. The other situation is not that great either like you follow some person who has done the shopping and walking to towards his/her car and then you wait like an idiot waiting them to take their own sweet time to put their bags and get into the car and reverse or drive off. If you are lucky you will get that parking otherwise you already have competition in the form of another person waiting for that coveted parking space.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Drunk driving menace

Despite all the ads and information out there not to drink and drive and all the punishments that are given out (which I don’t believe are strong enough to deter somebody) people still think that it is okay to drink and drive and not think about having a designated driver if they think they are impaired after a some drinks. And when they are in a drunken mode, there is nobody who even volunteers or stop them if there is somebody nearby to get these drunken people out of the driving seat. I really hate drinking and on top of that driving with drinking is a big No in any language or any country no matter what your excuse is. Too many times people feel remorse after getting sober and they try to get out of it by blaming the drink on some kind of disease that they cannot control. They feel helpless in the face of a bottle of wine or champagne and they succumb to it right away but instead of drinking in moderation or even if it is heavy drinking staying away from the driving wheel are very hard for them. I am not a lawyer or a law enforcement officer or even a legislator but I believe that in terms of punishments in cases of drunken driving, there should be no plea bargains allowed. Too many times, people feel sorry when they get sober knowing very well that drinking impairs your ability to do anything like driving or make sound decisions. So the person who is accused of drunk driving exactly knows what he/she is doing when they take their first drink and sit behind the wheel of the car. So all this excuses about not knowing is just to escape their responsibility of what they have done. I believe that drunk driving laws need to be revisited and enhanced tremendously so that there should be less incentive to drive while intoxicated.

On the lighter side-Movies-Anchorman 2: The legend continues (2013)-Will Ferrel, Christina Applegate

An overwhelming majority of sequels should not be made but money makes people sometimes feel full of themselves or they think that if it is good for the first time, it should be good for another time too. Not this one as the unfunny sequel finds our Anchorman getting fame into his head and losing his touch until he discovers what made him famous by making it to a round the clock news channel in this not necessary of the first successful movie. Don’t mind checking into it. Not recommended

Massacre in Pakistan-3

Three days of mourning has been declared in Pakistan and condemnation has been swift from around the world. There has been much outrage in Pakistan but I have been reading some disturbing news also that some people still think that some foreign power is behind this. The one good thing if you want to say it in a way is that the Prime Minister has lifted the moratorium on Death penalty which has kept all the convicted killers on death row for a long time. And the Army has promised a hardened response as the backlash against the Taliban has begun or has it? That we will have to see as other devastating bombings have happened before and Pakistan has not responded effectively to it and concrete measures have to be taken to tackle this menace which literally destroying that Nuclear Armed Country. Then there is the question of how well the Military will readjust its secret relationship of supporting these terrorists. The parents who have lost their kids would have the hardest part forgetting about what happened to their kids. I don’t know when Pakistan will shun this kind of extremism and support for it which is leading them to the path of destruction only for themselves and also now for the future generation. Pakistani people have to decide if they want to live a normal life like other human beings or become consumed in hatred of such magnitude that it does not distinguish between animals and human beings. The terrorists who have done do have no remorse or regret of what they have done and they should be paid back in the same manner without regard to their lives and property. Until Pakistan takes this monster head on, I am afraid this may not be the last one and somebody else would come to do the job they are so incapable or unwilling to do on their own.

Massacre in Pakistan-2

This ritual of sending the kids to school and they coming back home safely is done practically by hundreds of millions of parents and kids around the world and nobody ever thinks about something happening on a normal day. Now step back for a moment to the time one is flipping the channels and you see that there has been a terrorist attack on a children's school and your ears become alert and eyes see the unbelievable and then you realize that the school that is being attacked is none other than your kids’ school. At the same time the phone bells rings or you call your spouse in panic to go and fetch the kids or you do it yourself and this is exactly what happened in Pakistan a few days ago. As it happened in Russia and then in the U.S. where innocent and little kids some even we call them babies were slaughtered (at least in the U.S. the guy was deranged), the same thing happened in Pakistan. In Pakistan, the terrorists knew what they were doing and they did not have any remorse or paused for a minute to reflect what they are doing. Most of the kids now we know were shot in the head and the more details that are emerging the more it reveals that the terrorists were actively seeking to kill as many kids as possible. And the outrage it has generated on the social media and around the world and especially in Pakistan has been incredible. For a country used to so much violence, even this attack was too much to handle as parents saw their dead kids and blood was all over the place.

Massacre in Pakistan

This is just a hypothetical scenario which I never want to wish upon any parent but here is the scenario. It is a normal day in a family, you wake up to the sunlight and then one by one family members wake up mostly first your parents and then the children but usually the parents start screaming at children to get up and then take turns if you have one bathroom to start taking showers and brush teeth while the mom (usually) start making breakfast for the whole family. Now the kids come to the table running and try to stuff in as much as possible and everybody is hurrying up either to get to the school bus or hop in with their parents to a ride to their school. When the school bus comes and if there is a rush, the kids can only say bye to their parents without hugging or kissing them as there are more urgent things to do since the school bus will leave if you don’t hurry. Now the kids are gone and maybe one or the other parents may have given them a kiss goodbye and getting all the instructions how to manage your school. After all the commotion dies down, you lie exhausted and feel excited to have the whole house to yourself (if are a housewife or a man working from home). You start to do your daily chores and in between the chores you turn on the television to pass your time and entertain yourself, maybe watch your favorite show and relax. And when the times comes to pick up kids, you go out and get your kids or if they are travelling by school bus, wait for the time of the bus to come and then you see your kids smiling and exhausting coming in and asking for something to eat and you ask them about their homework and how did the school day went.

Terror in Australia

A lunatic walks into a chocolate café in Sydney, Australia and holds a number of people hostages demanding an Islamic flag and a phone call to the Prime Minister of Australia. I am talking about that terror that happened a few days ago in the biggest city of Australia. The guy was already known to police as a trouble maker and had a criminal history but also had an erratic behavior. And on top of taking hostages, he was flaunting his credentials as a Muslim and had ranted about Australia role in fighting Islamic terror in the Middle East. And what does he do, he goes into a café and take hostages of people who are not involved in any of this. I understand that people have also died in the Middle East conflicts that are innocent but to do the same thing for people in a country which has given you asylum and given you every opportunity to voice your concern peacefully is not the way to go. And saying that you are protesting by threatening to harm people and portraying yourself as a member of a religious community and a self styled cleric who knows more about the religion than other people will not cut out. There are so many other ways to protest like participating in elections, petitioning elected officials, campaigning for and helping the victims that adapting a violent way will not make you put your point across. Instead there will be a backlash against all the peace loving Muslim living and struggling to make a living in that peaceful part of the world. These individuals have no relationship to any religion and when they have something to prove, hide behind a religion and further their agenda to the detriment of other Muslims who are then signaled out for discrimination and other repercussions just because they happen to share their religion with these selfish individuals. This act of terrorism should be condemned immediately anywhere it happens around the world whatever religious beliefs you have since it is not about religion but about humanity.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On the lighter side-Movies-The Maze Runner (2014)

A young boy is dropped into a community of other boys which is surrounded by a maze and they decide to enter the maze in order to escape their caged community in this teen driven movie which was ok but not that great. The ending seems to suggest another movie continuing from the end of the first one will come in a year or so. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-This is where I leave you (2014)-Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda

Four grown siblings get together at their father’s funeral and home and gets entangled with their own grievances and regrets in this sometimes funny and melodramatic movie with top name actors. But the pacing was good and the time flew watching it. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles (2014)-Megan Fox

Four mutated Turtles with Italian names rise up from the sewer of New York to confront an enemy hell bent on destroying New York City in this reboot of the 1990's sensation which is updated with more technology. Fun to watch with comedic elements intact. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Skeleton Twins (2014)

Two siblings who have suicidal tendencies try to reconcile in this sometimes funny drama about sibling relationship. Recommended

Monday, December 15, 2014

Unisex toilets

A few days ago I read an interesting news that a university in New Jersey is building Unisex toilets so any gender can enter in and relieve themselves of their natural urgings (I don’t know how to put it mildly). As I read it correctly it was done by the members of the LGBTQ community but there has been mixed reviews about it as they rejoice in having gender neutral toilets but there are some concerns that it would signal out the people who associate themselves with the LGBTQ community for harassment or other things. I am still conflicted about this latest trend as I am not sure how to form my opinion about it as it is just a very rare occurrence and have not yet caught on with the general public. And despite this advances, I don’t believe the general public is ready to let their young daughters enter into gender neutral toilet (and I for one share that sentiment). Besides do you believe that some of the people will not become uncomfortable or there will be some perverts waiting for the opportunity to have a little peek. And with that a host of other problems like lawsuits and supposedly hidden cameras and other unexpected situations can happen. So for me and I believe lots of millions of people this concept is going to remain limited in nature and will not spread beyond a certain private locations ( I may be wrong because only time can tell but for now I stick with this prediction).

Phone as your best friend-2

And even you can face time with your friends and your relatives who are not in the same city or country. In fact the things we used to do with multiple devices and sitting down can be done on one with no sitting down sometimes. You can calculate, listen to your favorite songs, pay bills and play games. Texting is the most popular thing that the younger generation and not so younger generation is doing nowadays. And there are tons of apps you can download and make your life easier. Even if you are lonely but if you have your phone you can pass your time especially if you are travelling and you don’t want to be bothered by people around you, you just submerge yourself in your phone like you are busy and people would hardly bother you. Phone has literally transformed the lives of individuals in more than one ways than we could have ever imagined. And with a phone those people who had already isolated themselves from society would not come out of their isolation and those who were attempting to assimilate would go into isolation. The worse thing about a phone is that you have lost the personal touch with your friends and families nearby whom you can meet face to face in person. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of having a Smartphone and relying on it always for everything. But as the technological advances goes on and technology having its good side and bad side, it is up to individuals how well they use to their best use.

Phone as your best friend

There use to be physical friends not to while ago and there still are don’t get me wrong. But the nature of friendship has changed so much that you are unable to meet your friends physically on months or sometimes years on end. And I am also guilty of that as I have not seem some of best friends of 20 or more years in years even if I can go to meet them at their office or even drive some miles down. You can say that it is a combination of my laziness or the pressures of every day work during the week and on the weekend and I also believe that they have the same excuses. And even with the relatives I have not met many of them for years on end because either they live in other countries or they live in other states where it is very hard to take time off and go and meet them and vice versa. And now best friend has become the social media on the internet. And if you are moving around, your best friend becomes your so called smart phone as now practically you can do almost all of your things on while on the go. You can do most of your shopping on the phone plus entertain yourself and manage office work while you are mobile and stay in touch with your friends and loved ones as now it seems everybody has a phone and they are very immersed in it as I see it every day. And use of so called smart phones has also led to a decrease in TV viewing habits according to some studies.

What really is a grocery store?

Recently I went grocery shopping after a hiatus of a few weeks and while browsing the aisles to see if there is something on sale that I missed I was surprised to a stack of store branded dress shirts. And my reaction was like what are dress shirts doing in a supposedly grocery store? I used to think a grocery store is the place where you buy household stuff like food and other necessities which you need on an ongoing basis but the fierce competition that the retailers have been getting lately is changing the thinking grocery stores operate. The competition for the same level of spending by consumers and constant dollars people have to spend has sparked this new trend of a one stop shopping even if you are in the grocery store. Now the grocery stores want you to get your complete household stuff in addition to your grocery shopping right in their stores without going to another store and I must admit that the store brand dress shirts looked good and price competitively. Now you never know what your local super grocery store chain is going to carry next. I have already seen low quality and cheap electronics and other house hold items, hosiery but I was not expecting dress shirts and frankly I don’t like this murky amalgamation of grocery stores and clothing stores. But as you already know that grocery business is a low margin business and so it is just another effort to increase their profit margin and make some extra money in the process and I guess it is just a sign of the times as we will continue to see this increasingly blurring of lines of what really constitute a grocery store.

The postal service of the United States

I was standing in the line at the post office on one Saturday and a line developed in a few minutes as people wanted to mail things or just buy some stamps at the prompt. There used to be two people on Saturdays to cater to more people as there is more rush on the weekend but they have cut back on employees as they are saying that now more of the mailing is done online so they don’t need that many employees. But the way I am looking is that there is always a line in the post office and when I was coming out from my small town local office I saw a small postal truck filled to the brink with mail going out to deliver. Now if I see the lines not only in one post office but several in different states (New York and New Jersey) I will not even guess that there is still a huge demand for the postal service. Despite people paying bills on the internet (I included) and doing other stuff which they use to do primarily through the post office, there is still a great need for the postal service as overwhelming majority of senior folks and younger ones too rely on the postal system to deliver their mail in all circumstances and I don’t see the postal system of the United States getting irrelevant anytime soon or even further down the road.

On the lighter side-Movies-Tammy (2014)-Susan Sarandon, Melissa McCarthy

A woman fired from her job and have marital problems can't take it anymore and is forced to take a road trip with her comparatively rich and drunk grandmother in this hit or miss drama with spotty moments of comedy and not that great either. One of the not so great movies from Melissa McCarthy. Not recommended

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

On the lighter side-Movies-Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)-Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana

A group of criminals must put aside their differences and band together and fight a evil enemy hell bent on destroying the galaxy in this comedy/sci-fi movie which is fun to watch. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014-Norway)

Those Nazi zombies are back in this hilarious and bloody sequel to one of the best Norwegian horror movies in which the Nazis are pitted against the resurrected Russian soldiers which they had slain before in World War II. Recommended

Monday, December 8, 2014

Where does our school tax go?

I had written about school taxes long time ago but need to visit this one again since I got an email and by regular mail from my daughter's school that they are having a vote on issuing bonds to fund the repair/renovation of the school facilities. Now my question is where our whole property taxes do go which includes the school tax that we pay each year. I mean when I get the tax breakdown from the town I live in, it seems that I pay almost 25 percent of the property tax to support schools and I am just on the average side of the property tax as people who don’t have kids still have to pay the property tax (which includes the school tax) and I have many homes in my town which average more than a million and their property taxes goes into five figures but still it is not enough to support the school system. And if you have noticed that all year long there several fund raisings going on to benefit the school. I am all about the welfare and education of the children as being the top priority but where does all this huge funding of schools through our taxes go. Although I know that they provide statistics but still in my district things have not been upgraded for the last sixty years (as their email states). And even if the property taxes are raised to address this school funding, I am sure there will always be shortfall of funds in any given year. That is why New Jersey has become one the highest taxed states in the nation but supposedly we are always short of funds, I don’t know where the money goes and I am not happy about it a bit.

Assembling things

This is one of the things that I hate the most. You buy something from a store and then you have to figure out how to assemble it when you get home. And I am not that good at assembling things or figuring out how to follow somewhat the directions which are sometimes hard to comprehend. Whenever we buy stuff from the store or from the internet and the items arrive with instructions to assemble, I leave it up to my wife to do the assembling as she is very good at assembling things and she manages to finish it up in one stage and not linger it for the next day. It is a very frustrating process, although I help in to tighten the screws or to hold one part of the item, while she tries to read the instructions or is making sure the partially assembled work is correct. Sometimes you get screws that do not seem to fit in the holes or sometimes there are more screws that seem to be necessary but ultimately she is the one who takes care of the assembling around the house. It is not that I cannot assemble things, it is just the thought of fixing things up and putting things together that puts me off. But I am guessing many people out there have the same feeling that I have regarding assembling things and although you cannot get away with the fact that now and then you would have to assemble items by yourself (since hiring somebody to do it just defeats the purpose of buying an item cheap and besides it is really expensive to hire somebody to do the assembling and they may not be available right away), it does not diminish the hatred that you would have in assembling things. Some people may enjoy it but I for one want to stay away from them if I can.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gun Safety issues-2

And this is not the first case of accidental gun violence. I also read that a little child was playing with a loaded gun and accidentally shot his younger sister. I love guns (although I don’t own one and have no intention to do so in the future) but there should be some sort of safety lessons before a person is able to handle a gun. Like a car driver has to be licensed and pass both written and driving test in order to be eligible to drive, so it should be the case with gun handling. And in the cases that I have mentioned, you don’t need to have a college degree to exercise some basic safety issues that I have highlighted. And I am sure that the so called accidental gun discharge will keep on happening as people think that they are careful enough to handle the gun when in fact they are not. You can see sometimes in the movies that even if the gun is not loaded, nobody wants a gun pointed at them and this should be the case in real life also. But you know people are fascinated by guns and they get sidetracked by the sight of it without realizing that you have to extremely careful when handling them. The guns should not be in the house or they should be in area not accessible to kids. The guns should be empty and locked and only accessible to the person carrying the permit of the gun and no one else. People kids and guns don’t mix so don’t try to clean or even keep it in sight of kids like the medicine bottle says keep out of reach of children, the same rule should apply to the guns with the added rule that you should not have guns in your hands loaded or empty anywhere near the kids.

Gun Safety issues

I have been reading these Gun disasters all the time. I am talking about people being careless when handling guns. Recently I read that a father no less was cleaning his permit less gun in front of his kid and the kid got shot. I mean is there a limit to the amount of stupidity involve in this situation. Ok firstly the person should have a permit to carry a gun or keep it in the house. That is the most basic of all since cops hate handguns without permits that will get you a felony of keeping an unlicensed gun. The next thing is why you are keeping an unloaded gun in the house where you have your kids in sight. I mean are you really in a battle zone that you need to keep a loaded weapon in the house. I know that some parts of the U.S. sometimes resemble a war zone but it is not the breakdown of law and order but just a matter of allocating the right resources and you will see the reduction of crime. But there is no need to keep a loaded gun in the house when things are peaceful outside supposedly. Okay the next thing is why do you have to clean a loaded gun, I mean if you are going to clean the gun why not empty the chamber and clean. And other thing if you in your infinite wisdom wants to clean a loaded gun, why would you want to do that in front of a child? Even if there is excuses that the person was babysitting, can the gun cleaning campaign wait a little bit till the mother comes home.

On the lighter side-Movies-As above so below (2014)

A team of researchers go underground in Paris in this boring drama/mystery and less horror movie which should be avoided to save you time. Not recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Rigor Mortis (2013-Hong Kong)

Could not quite understand the bizarre happenings going on in an apartment building in Hong Kong in this supernatural horror drama which you should enter on your own risk. Not recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Under the Bed II (2014-Hong Kong)

The only horror you are going to see is this so called horror movie is the waste of time that you will experience as a group of friends enter a supposedly abandoned hospital to find out if it is really haunted. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Huntresses (2014-Korean)

Korean martial arts movie about the adventures three beautiful female bounty hunters. Better than usual comedy, action movie. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Dawn of the planet of the apes (2014)-Jason Clarke

The sequel to Planet of the Apes as Apes and Humans fight for survival in this great action, drama movie. Recommended

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Your words can kill-2

If you do a search on the internet, you will find out where you cannot insult a ruler or post something on the internet which can be construed at hurting the sensibilities of the local population. Especially people are who traveling from relatively so called Free speech nations have to be very careful and not speak ill of the things they encounter or the people they meet and specially do not talk about politics or religion in every part of the world. And you should also be careful taking pictures as some areas could be off limits to the public especially if you are travelling in very authoritarian or repressive regimes or even in places where there are tourists since you never know what pictures you are taking can be treated as a threat by a government or some criminal organization. One of the ways that you can circumvent these restrictions is to learn a language of a place where it is in a very low minority. Another thing while travelling abroad is to follow the expression "silence is Golden" as it will get through your trip without any incident and you can also stick to your plan of having fun. Although I believe in freedom of speech but there are certain times for saying that and using your free speech in foreign trips is not one of them. Your words can either land you in trouble or get the local population get violent or both. So think before your speak because the words do kill.

Your words can kill

Everybody or nearly everybody has heard the expression that pen in mightier than the sword. Because a sword you kill one person but with your writing and your words you can set a neighborhood or a country on fire and many people can either die or injure due to your incite or hurtful words. And it has been true throughout history that words and not the sword or guns have killed more people and created fear and hatred in the eyes of society. At different points in history, books have been banned or censored just because the government of that time deemed it offensive and feared that it lead to public violence. Old classical books of the American history are being banned just because at the time of writing some words which are now considered very offensive are in it. Even now some of the books are banned and words have become an effective weapon to incite whole nations to violence. Recent events in the Muslim world have shown how toxic it is to speak your mind or offend someone. The American short movie about the insulting Islam, the Danish cartoons and the blasphemy laws in Pakistan specially are enough evidence to prove that words do kill without being the intent of the author to do so (or maybe they do). Your words can even hurt your loved ones beyond the killing as ill will can develop which can linger on for years just because you did not choose your words carefully or used it carelessly. In some countries it is almost a jail time or even death sentence if you utter any derogatory or funny thing about the ruler there (usually a monarchy).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Walking your way to health

On Saturday last I went to get my weekend coffee for me and my wife and there was line and I just got my coffee at my turn and drove to get my gas at a nearby gas station (not that nearby even if you are driving). Since I live in New Jersey and you are not allowed to pump your own gas, I was just waiting to get gas when I saw a lady walking with coffee in her hand and I instantly recognized her from the coffee shop. And as I said before, the gas station is not of walking distance from the coffee shop but somehow she walked all the way from the shop to the gas station and did not stop there as she kept on walk for her destination that I did not know. But I realized that how easy is to lose weight and enjoy a walk even if it is cold when we are so lazy to stay in our warm cars and drive everywhere. I am also a culprit in this laziness as when in my previous job I use to walk 2 miles a day to and from my work address to the station and did not felt a thing. But now if I have to walk then it becomes a chore for me although I can still walk around my house and still lose weight or outside my house but I do not do it and I believe millions of people don’t either. Rather than paying for the Gym and going there for doing exercise, why not just walk and lose weight. In this way you don’t have to make time for gym and also save money when you become lazy and don’t use the gym as often while you pay the fess month after month.

The mosque bombing in Nigeria

Another of many of the bombings happened in Nigeria recently where people were praying in the mosque and a suicide bomber detonated bombs which killed more than 60 people outright with many more casualties reported later on. This was another act of Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist organization which aims to establish an Islamic state on the corpses of Muslims. I don’t know what really is going on but it seems that the Nigerian Army is either ineffective or purposely not being used like when the Taliban were detonating bombs in Pakistan and the Army was just sitting on the sidelines until they woke up (under the new Military leadership) and took on them in a big way. But in all this mess, the common people for no fault of theirs are getting killed in increasing numbers with no relief in sight. In Pakistan, there were the U.S. drones which were being used effectively in countering the Taliban, but in Nigeria the people there are left to fight or sacrifice their lives in the face of this real threat. As I felt sorry for the people of Pakistan for enduring years of bombing, my sympathy goes out for the people of Nigeria who are facing increasingly brutal tactics of Boko Haram with no one including the Military unable or unwilling to stop them. There were hundreds of girls kidnapped one time and nothing happened in that case and this bombing would not be the last one to happen as I have read increasing senseless killing on happening in that oil rich but poor largest country by population in Africa.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Drowning in debt and Black Friday deals

I have been tracking this Black Friday deals for a long time, not looking for anything particular but just seeing how crazier it has become and how nauseating it is to see it all happen. I am not here to discuss how we all fall into a trap of getting lured into these black Friday deals. No I am talking about how a person already drowning in debt has to see all these tempting ads right in front of every newspaper and also on the internet and then enticing them to go out and further dig a debt hole for yourself. Then there are stories about how people line up outside stores to get their favorite or desired stuff at supposedly steep discounts and here the person who does not have money to begin with really feels depressed and angry at his/her situation. In this situation a lot of self control is needed otherwise people have been known to go into debt every holiday season. I am also one of the millions of people who are subjected to these tempting ads but thankfully have not fallen into the trap and gone into further debt to satisfy my immediate material urges. Standing in line in the cold morning, fighting with the crowd and then getting that dream item which you can get it anytime of the year if you look on the internet is what I stand for. And I have no urgent need to buy any upgraded electronic item when that item is of inferior quality as mentioned in some news articles. I urge everybody who is drowning in debt not to fall into this black Friday temptation and stays put and reduce your debt before you accumulate and pile more and stress out later.

Black Friday work

I know that it really is hateful to work on Black Friday, the day after thanksgiving in the last week of November every year in the U.S. While most or even all the schools are closed and children are asleep at home, some of their fathers and mothers have to get up and go to work where most of the private sector employees are enjoying a long weekend. And I am one of them working this day while some of my colleagues have taken off. It is a quiet day for some, busy for some as only the United States is closed on Thanksgiving and slow on Friday the next day but the world is working and since we deal with international clientele also, they send us email which remains unanswered till we are here on Friday. Most of the mood of the employees this Friday is not that great as they see their work as not essential as the offices are half staffed and the majority of the private ones closed. But hey looking at the brighter side (if there is any) I discovered or rather enjoyed by traffic free drive to work, trains and buses are empty so you can have a seat if you want to (if you have a good transit system in your city). There is less foot traffic in the streets and the overall atmosphere is calm. Depending upon where you work, if you office is open, the work flow maybe less but still everybody is getting jealous of their colleagues who have taken this day off to enjoy with their families or just relax at home. It is a mixed blessing but mostly it still sucks to work even on a quiet day like this.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

On the lighter side-Movies-Danger Dolls (2014-Japan)

Four highly skilled female martial arts fighter travel between two parallel Universes to stop an evil plan to destroy both worlds in this sorry excuse and confused martial arts movie. Not recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Shadowless Sword (2005-Korean)

A martial arts fighter must escort and protect a reluctant prince to his embattled kingdom in this dramatic martial arts movie. Recommended for action fans only. Subtitled in English

On the lighter side-Movies-Horns (2013)-Daniel Radcliffe

A man is accused of rape and murder of his girlfriend who somehow wake up one day to develop supernatural horns which gives him the ability to hear exactly what people are thinking. With these new powers he pursues the real killer. Not for all tastes and sometimes annoying, but different. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies- The Expendables 3 (2014)-Sylvester Stallone

Action packed sequel as the expendables expand with new younger blood included to take on the former co founder of the expendables who is now determined to destroy the expendables. Plenty of superb action and some comedy inserted in with aging action stars competing against new comers. I enjoyed the action and the movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Giver (2014)-Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges

A perfect community where your destination is predetermined and where there is no memory of any human pain whatsoever, a boy is chosen to learn real world realities from a reclusive man known as a giver in this science fiction drama. Nothing special as it is seemingly geared towards teen audience. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The November Man (2014)-Pierce Brosnan

An ex-CIA operative living a quiet life is brought back into service to foil attempts by an assassin involving Russian President-elect in this pedestrian action thriller by the former James Bond Star. Okay for only one time viewing. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Zombeavers (2014)

A group of friends vacationing near a lakeside are attacked by Zombie beavers in this better than usual horror comedy. Recommended for usual take on Zombie genre.

On the lighter side-Movies-Fist of the dragon (2014)

An MMA fighter goes to China to meet his online girlfriend and get entangled with arms smugglers in this hit or miss martial arts movie which is not that impressive. Recommended for action fans only.

The translation issues in foreign language movies

I love movies and increasingly crave movies in foreign languages provided they have English subtitles in it. I rarely go for dubbed into English movies because it is rare that they do justice to the people speaking the language as sometimes I have stopped watching movies where the mouth is speaking something earlier and the dubbed translation is later and also because of the fact that you cannot literally translate the another language into English because of different words and alphabets that other languages may have and English may lack. And now I am seeing in movies which are not professionally subtitled that you see that it is literally translated by the computer and then the incoherent structure of sentences start to pop up and you are left scratching your head that what was the dialogue was about. Although you may enjoy the movie if you are as experienced as me in watching the subtitles and the movie at the same time but if it is done professionally it makes a happy movie watching experience. Most of the Chinese language movies are professionally translated and you can make sense of what they are talking about since they have both Mandarin and English subtitles on it and they are more or less understandable but some of the Korean movies and also Russian and some other foreign languages movies which are not supposed to be shown outside their countries have subtitles done by some downloadable software and they literally translate movies which if you are not use to it, you will not make sense of it. And because of this, despite being a good story line and movie, you are just frustrated and mad about not watching a good movie. I think that since now the world is global place and movies are increasingly seen outside their home countries and they are getting most of their revenues outside their home countries, they should at least do a better job in subtitling their movies into English professionally as it would ensure a wider audience and more adherents.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A real snow day in Buffalo, New York

If you have not heard this yet, there was a snow apocalypse in Buffalo, New York, a city near Lake Erie in western New York, where almost 8 feet of snow fell equaling the total of full year in three days according to some reports. I live in the New York area and the news that is trickling down here and the pictures that are being shown looks like a town under siege with everything buried in snow. I was just telling my co-workers that if our business was in that area, we would not be even able to go to work to our alternative site. And we in the New York region complain about six inches or more of snow that we have to clean up and I see this and I say wow it would take days just to clean up and then wait for it to melt. And the sad part is that the season has not even started yet and they have already gotten the snow for the whole year. Although the housing is cheaper there and this is one of the reasons as people are leaving it for a little bit warmer climate. I feel for them digging out and then trying to go on with their daily lives. It is already tough there and with all this snow life really becomes a struggle. I love snow and the cold season it brings but if the snow spreads over the season that is fine with me but I am not sure I would like to have this kind of massive snow storm in three days and waiting for more to come.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Taken out of context

I have been hearing this phrase so much that I think that it has just become an excuse to try to control the damage that you have done. I am talking about people who say something so offensive about something that when there is criticism all around, they or their representative or their supporters try to control it by saying that the statement or whatever they have done have been taken out of context and it was not what they meant it or they were referring to something else. I believe that they are just trying to control the damage of what they have said or done and they perfectly knew and believe in their heart and are truth in their feelings about what they have said. It is when they are hit with criticism, they realize that they should not have said nor done what they believe and then they try to retract their statement but the damage is already done meanwhile. And it is not only in the U.S. but all over the world in different languages they say something but when people criticize them, then they scramble to say that their words were taken out of context and they did not meant to say that but this. Well they exactly meant what they said and if they are still not convinced in this day when there is technology over all over the place and everything is being watched and recorded, people don’t need to analyze what they were saying since that recording is the proof. Nothing is taken out of context and people are smart enough to see what the whole question and answer or speech was all about. So watch your mouth when you are saying something as it can hurt or damage you personally or your career.

Will an end to Israeli-Palestinian conflict bring peace to the Middle East?-4

I have seen far more Muslims killed by other Muslims than this Israeli-Palestinian conflict has. I know that Palestinian people have been suffering for a long time but there is always a give and take in all conflicts. And the Muslims despite all the talk are in no urgent mood to tackle this conflict head on. Although I admit that resolving this conflict will take out a major excuse for the Muslims to blame the West for the disturbance in the Muslims world but it would not bring peace to the Middle East. There are many issues and resolving this, which I don’t see it anytime soon (like in years or decades later) will not bring the much needed and touted peace to that area. As I said that even with dialogue going in fits and starts, it will be impossible to bring both the parties to the table as they are not even keen to find a solution to little problems. I believe that there are elements with vast majorities on each side who are not keen to resolve this issue but do it from time to time under U.S. pressure or just to show the world that they are at least trying to do something about it. Even if for example the Israelis and the Palestinian decide on day that they want peace and recognize it whole heartedly (assuming all the issues are resolved), there will be people outside that will stay claim for the destruction of Israel and removal of it from Arab lands. This issue is not going to resolved and that is way each of them like it as it suits them well in their own interests and keep this issue as the major cause of conflict in the Middle East which it is to some extent but not the only one.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Will an end to Israeli-Palestinian conflict bring peace to the Middle East?-3

But even if both sides agree to a solution (not likely) and there is peace between these two parties, what is the guarantee that some crazy person or organization bent on sabotaging the peace do something horrible and kill some people. And if you are still hopeful about the whole Israeli-Palestinian issue, you don’t have to look much further than the so called Arab spring that swept the Arab world recently. I had been following closely this event and despite various efforts on my part there was no mention of the plight of the Palestinian people or the issue dealing with the Israeli state. Everybody was worried about where their next food will come from and protesting the dictatorial regimes in which they had no say. Maybe some fringe elements in some Arab countries were vocal about this Palestinian issue but nobody was worried about them as much as they cared about improving their own lot. And if you are not convinced still, you can see by the latest war between Israel and Hamas that no Arab country was vocal enough to support Palestinians in it since they are already hampered by their own economies or do not agree with a certain stand that Hamas the organization representing Palestinian people in Gaza Strip was taking. And still people are not convinced then they should see all the mayhem that is going on in the Middle East in the name of religion as these so called religious fanatics slaughter people in the name of not religion but their particular sect. My question here is does killing of Muslim minorities by particular Muslim sect has anything do with Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Will an end to Israeli-Palestinian conflict bring peace to the Middle East?-2

Every U.S. President since the creation of Israel has been fighting for the elusive peace but to no avail as neither sides except each other the right to exist. There was the Israeli-Arab war in the early seventies when Israeli with a population equal to New York city showed who had the actual power as the Arab armies were pounded (no matter how you see it because Arabs blame the U.S. of taking sides) but apart from that the war showed that Arabs are no match for the Israelis and then Egypt and Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel knowing if I say bluntly that being in a constant state of war with Israel is futile and harmful for their economies and its people. But after getting ten of billions of dollars Israel has advanced to the status of an advanced country while Egypt and Jordan are still struggling with poverty and still dependent on U.S. grants to keep them afloat. I do not understand this unless I go to those countries to find out what went wrong but that is another topic. But the issue of Palestinian homeland remains there even when it has become somewhat of an exercise in frustration with all the peace initiatives and dialogues between enemies who are not ready to let go of anything. The Israelis want the Arab nations and specifically the Palestinians to explicitly declare the right of the state of Israel to exist in return for peace and the Palestinians insist on their so called right to return policy of all Palestinians exiled since 1945.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Will an end to Israeli-Palestinian conflict bring peace to the Middle East?

First of all my condolences to all the people killed in the Synagogue attack in Israel as well as all the people killed on religious beliefs and ethnic identities around the world. I am not going to go into the detail of what is happening to significant religious and ethnic minorities around the world as it will become a topic later on somewhere in my blog. As my title says, an overwhelming majority of Muslims say that the main issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the occupation of the Arab lands in Israel (including some say Israel itself). And this they blame it for all the ills that affect the Muslim world in particular and the world in general. The Palestinian supporters say that if Israelis return the land to Palestine there will be lasting peace. I maybe in the vocal minority, since most of the majority may also feel that way that this is not going to happen. Since I was little I have been hearing this conflict from different angles and I don’t see any resolution to this conflict in the near or far future. For the optimists, who are always positive or very utopian type, every time there is a chance of peace in the Middle East (specifically Israel and Palestine) somebody is out there to ruin it for the peace loving people. But the fact is there is never peace but just a lull in between wars. As long as both sides think and act that they are on the right path no amount of peace exists. It is only that some people are not killed in the peace time era but eventually this illusion of peace is shattered now and then by some extremist measures on both sides.

On the lighter side-Movies-If I Stay (2014)-Chloe Grace Moretz

A teen dies in a horrible car accident along with her family and experience an out of body phenomenon which gives details of her life before the accident as she struggles to make a decision whether to fight back or die in this excellent romantic/sentimental tearjerker. For people who like a mix of laughter and tragedy and romance all mix in one. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Extreme Fox (2014-Hong Kong)

A villager who has just failed his imperial guard examination returns to his village and engages in several adventures to improve the lot of his people in this Hong Style comedy with minimal action inserted in. Not that great and you should skip this one. Not Recommended

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On the lighter side-Movies-Sin City: A dame to kill for (2014)-Mickey Rourke, Powers Boothe

Sequel to the equally graphic movie in which some of the most dangerous criminals encounters its crazed citizens in this beautifully made bloody movie. I enjoyed it for its visual effects but this movie is not for all tastes. Recommended with caution.

On the lighter side-Movies-22 Jump Street (2014)-Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill

The duos from 21 Jump Street are back, this time infiltrating a college to find out the drugs being distributed to the students. Funny and serious at the same time but highly enjoyable sequel. Don’t forget to see the credits as they are equally hilarious. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Housebound (2014-New Zealand)

A mystery movie rather than a horror one as a woman returns to her childhood house as a part of detention given by a judge and starts to feel that the house is haunted. Good entry on a small budget but not enough to sustain your interest for long. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Into the Storm (2014)

Storm chasers American style as a group of thrill seekers, townspeople and amateur storm trackers chase after several tornadoes touching down in a small town. Great special effects and really enjoyable and thrilling movie. Recommended

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes it isn't -2

And there have been many cases where some people have edited some pictures to put a public figure in that picture which they have defend for a time till the picture is term fake or as they say photo shopped. It just make you cautious about what picture is real and what is fake as now many magazines try to make their cover girls look thin from what they are really are and immediately some people cry foul over it and then all people get caught in the frenzy of condemning the fake picture. It is a scary situation since you never know what your enemies can do with your pictures taken that they can insert whatever dirt and filth that they can insert in your picture to make you look bad and maybe in the process ruin your reputation and shatter the peaceful life that you exist right now. Now most of the time if you see some scandalous pictures in the magazine or on the internet, you need to be skeptical about it. Somebody in the print department (with orders from management) may have edited the picture to make the person featured look skinny and then you start to wonder about what is the real picture. I can understand some of your enemies editing your picture to make you look bad but why does the print magazines have to go to extra lengths to make the picture fit into certain societal stereotype. Our teenagers are already having body image problems; they don’t want any assistance from the media to aggravate the situation.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes it isn't

It is use to be that picture was worth a thousand words and it seems to be true today to but to an extent. Everybody knows that what you can say with one picture, you cannot describe with one thousand words that is why you see that people want to take pictures and expose themselves and where they have visited on many websites. Even when writing a blog, people tend to add pictures when describing a subject matter if possible so that the people can see what the blogger was doing at that particular time for the article that he/she is writing about. I have not posted any of the pictures on my blog not because I don’t want too but I did not have the chance to go to so many places and sometimes out of fear that I may violate some picture which is copyrighted and I may land into some legal trouble which I am least prepared to any time now or in the future. Maybe I will post pictures sometimes in the future to give my readers a glimpse of what a picture can say than many words. But with the rise of the so much technological advances in photography and photo editing software, it feels like the pictures are not worth the same anymore. Now we have seen that pictures can be deceiving since people can photo edit a picture and put something else or somebody 's else in that picture to give it a look that the person was there at the particular time.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The thrill seeking individuals-2

The other thing that I work on from time to time is the fear of heights, it just seems that whenever I am up there and I look down, I just feel dizzy and strange thoughts comes to my mind like jumping. Although every time I am up there, I try to convince myself that I should not have that kinds of thoughts but it keeps on coming but I am also stubborn and keep on going up and looking down. Although it is not as thrill seeking as like bungee jumping or riding a roller coaster (which I did recently this year at Disney World®) or jumping from a plane or putting myself in harm's way, but for me this is thrill seeking or I should say fear conquering activity that I confront. But I am still fascinated and sometimes start to doubt the sanity of people who try to defy death by doing things which will in some circumstances can bring your life to an end. Some of these people do it for money but most do it for their own satisfaction and accomplishment since there is nothing more compelling than you doing it for your own pleasure. Although I salute these thrill seekers but for me the biggest motivator will be money but even some feats that these thrill seekers do is not worth the money to put your life in danger and also give pain to your loved ones. But to see these people do incredible feats is in itself a thrill and you must give them credit for pushing themselves to prove how far the human strength and determination can take them.

The thrill seeking individuals

I am not a thrill seeker, meaning I am not the one to look for challenges to conquer to prove a point or win a bet. But there are some people who for the fun of it try to do dangerous things which a normal person in any circumstance would not do. There are people who do bungee jumping and there are those who seek mountain climbing and some do go venture out to nearly impossible places to reach. Some will do parachute jumping and some may drive a race car. All these kinds of people thrive on adrenaline rush which pumps them up to do these daring things. If you recall there was a show on television called The Fear Factor, in which people did dangerous stunts just to win prices or I should say show up ( I believe that this form of show still exists in other countries in various forms). As I said that I am not a thrill seeker and I don’t go out looking for one not for any money or just to show my prowess. But what I try to do is conquer my fears. For example I have already said that I have drowned twice in water, once in a swimming people and once in a lake). But I still go inside the pool and have started to learn swimming too ( I will admit that I have a long way to go in this department). I just wanted to conquer this fear of mine and enjoy swimming like normal people.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Is America a violent society?-2

But does a homogeneous society make for a peaceful one too. The answer maybe yes and no. I have already told you about Japan and small European countries which seems to be peaceful but if you look at South America and Africa, there are many countries with equally homogeneous population but are sometimes more violent then the U.S. one. And I believe that guns can be one reason some of the nations are peaceful and some are not but again if you look at Switzerland, there is gun in every house by law but again their crime rate is low. But back to the U.S. we as a society are made up of different ethnicities and different cultures; essentially we are a nation of immigrants. The vastness of the country compels some of us to own guns to protect our lives and property but we are also a nation of laws and most of the people are peace loving and docile, it is just that when people see our television and movies it will seem that we are a violent society. But despite the perception of the U.S. being a violent society, overall our crime rate has been falling every year and generally it is now safe to walk the streets of some big cities at night. But like in any country even the peaceful ones, you need to be careful and take care of yourself as there is no substitute for being alert and vigilant. This is I am telling you by experience since I have been to two big European countries and have lived in Asia for a long time. So safety is a personal issue and perception should not deter you from a visiting a country as there are both good and bad people in every country.

Is America a violent society?

This question often arises when talking about why there are so many violent crimes in the U.S. and why the U.S. is the only big industrialized country to incarcerate the highest number of its citizen in proportion to the population. The countries who treat the U.S. as a violent society are mostly in Europe and the industrialized countries of the Asia but others like the South Americas and Africa don’t even bother with that blame since they are also in the same boat. I can understand that the countries who are blaming the U.S. society for being violent are relatively peaceful themselves but they have forgotten their own history. And it is also true that the second amendment to the U.S. constitution giving the citizens the right to bear arms (debatable but for now I will leave it at that) is the most unique right very rare in any modern day constitution of any country. For example people say that Japan is peaceful because it is illegal to own guns and therefore the crime is low. But they forget that Japanese society also has its crime organizations and their TV shows are as violent as any in the U.S. (and sometimes even more), there past history is nothing to be proud about and they also have a homogenous population which means that their population consists of Japanese people only with same characteristics and cultural traits. Same thing goes for Europe too with most of the peaceful nations outlawing gun ownership but their past is nothing to be proud of either as they were embroiled in World War I and World War II and millions of people were killed and also if you go really back, the middle ages in Europe were no utopia too as killings were aplenty at that time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How big is Space?-2

And even remotely by chance we know that there are certain numbers of galaxies with certain number of stars in each of them, we don’t know what is the weather pattern of each star, which one is hot and which one is cold, what is the length of each galaxy and the age of them. Is any of them contain water and can be habitable for humans. If you keep on digging further, your mind stops working after a while because even the scientists don’t know the above answers. It just seems like there is no end for the universe for if you start analyzing the sheer numbers, you will not be able to comprehend how vast this universe of ours is. My mind is already spinning round just think what is the length and breadth of this universe. It is a fascinating world out there which needs to be explored and I don’t believe that humans would ever be able to go to every corner or galaxy in their lifetimes. I am not a scientist but am fascinated by the empty space in the sky (which is not that empty once you start to think about all those billions of galaxies and stars). After existing for millions of years, we have just started to explore our galaxy and that too also on a nominal basis as it costs money and technology and sometimes it is not even practical to go near them by robots. I wish we could know more about all the galaxies and stars and be able to visit them but not in my life time and not in anybody else either as some of planets is inhabitable for humans and we cannot travel to nearby stars in our galaxy what to talk about other galaxies.

How big is Space?

Nobody knows as the scientists keep on guessing the length and the breadth of the space on which they have little to no knowledge. It is just a guessing name for now but I am afraid nobody will ever know how vast and deep the space is. Although I have written about the mysteries of space and what we don’t know about it (nothing), but the vastness of the space fascinates me. I was just looking at a article about how some star scientists have discovered whose light is just reaching us after around some billion of light years away and I was blown by the sheer number of miles it is. Imagine a light year is equal to number of miles the light travels in a year which is roughly equal to 186,000 miles per second so you can do the math. And if it is millions or billions of light years away, you can just imagine how vast the space is. According to some estimates the human beings have been here on earth maybe a billion or a million years or anything in between, the scientists are not so sure about when the human beings arrive since they keep on discovering evidence putting different dates to the human existence. But whatever the date, it is only recently that we have started to reach out to space and only in our own galaxy. As such we are just guessing that we have 100 billion galaxies and in it we have 100 billion stars in every galaxy (I have read this somewhere don’t know the source and I have already mentioned this once before in my blog).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On the lighter side-Movies-How to train your dragon 2 (2014-Animated)

In this second outing, Toothless and Hiccup discover an area home to hundreds of dragon and becomes embroiled in a battle to save the peace between humans and dragons in this computer generated animated movie. Highly enjoyable and fun for the whole family. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Gun Woman (2014-Japan/US)

A doctor in his quest for revenge inserts weapon in a woman so that she can kill his prey in this bloody violent movie with nudity galore. Not bad but not for all tastes. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Iceman (2014)-Hong Kong-Donnie Yen

An imperial guard who has been ordered to be hunted down by his three friends gets frozen for 400 years and continues the fight after getting unfrozen in the present day world in this very expensive action comedy science fiction movie from Hong Kong. Recommended with caution

Monday, November 10, 2014

If mommy bloggers then why not Daddy bloggers

If you see on the internet, there are lots of the so called Mommy bloggers where they write about their daily routines, their activities with their babies and kids and their hobbies and activities that is happening around them. Some of them have been successful enough that they have created substantial regular income just by writing about it. A lots of news highlight this mommy bloggers and some advertisers activity court them in order to be in front of millions of those women who are mothers and who are staying at home to take care of their babies but have substantial control over the budget of their families. In all this, nobody has cared to see whether only Mommies take care of their babies and the Daddies don’t have any input. In fact there is really a shortage of Daddy bloggers and even if there are, it is not highlighted in the media and advertisers tend to ignore them. Although I am a father and I blog too but not about what I do with my kids and that is sorely lacking about what the dads interests are and what their daily routine is. Besides going to the office and back (which increasingly number of mommies does to) I am sure there are lots of dads who actively take part in taking care of their kids and participate in their interests and school activities. There is a dire need to bring a balance to the blogging issue and men should be taking active part in chronicling what they do and what their interests are so that the society does not assume that only mommy is responsible and takes care of their kids while the dads just watch sports or do other manly stuff. Taking care of your kids is also a very manly stuff and if dads take time out to blog about their activities I am sure the perception about them being a hands off parent would change too.

Why I don’t write about pets-4

My idea of pets is slightly different than most of the other people. I use to have chicks and birds and parrots but it was long time ago when I was in my junior school years. But I like goat, cows and sheep too. And the horses I love the best. Although horses are traditionally not considered a pet but I still love them the most, they are the most beautiful of animals in my eyes. If you have noticed my love of animals being slightly different also has one key element, all of the animals that I described above serve dual purposes. Not that all other animals don’t have less importance as they may give you company and security but the animals I am describing gives you plenty of food and milk and transportation. For example chicken gives you eggs and more chicken and if you hungry, they can provide you will fat free food. The goat and lambs and cows are the same, they provide you with milk that you can either drink for consumption or sell it in the market and also in case of need you can eat them too. This will make some vegetarians and some other people squeamish but that we all (except for vegetarians) eat meat without thinking the way they are killed or prepared to come to our table. Horses provide you transportation even in places where you have other means of transportation and also you can enjoy rides on them when need be. If I had a pet I would have written about it even the ones that I mentioned above but for now the above reasons would suffice why I don’t write about pets very much.

Why I don’t write about pets-3

Then there is a huge accessories industry for the pets where you decorate your pets in different seasonal clothing like Christmas and Halloween and if it is cold then sweaters and other things to make them stay warm. It is not only the young but all ages of life cater to their pets and have them. You would rarely see a house without some sort of pet in there and if they don’t have it then the kids ask why not. Especially the people who live alone have at least one pet with them and I have see beggars and homeless people on the streets with their pets begging for money and food. My point in all this is that at least here in the United States and I believe based on what I see on television and read, there is a growing number of households with at least one and even multiple pets to enjoy their company in every age group. So as I said before since I my pet is a fish, the only thing I do is to watch it since my wife takes care of cleaning the tank and feed it , sometimes my kid feeds it too. But since you cannot take the fish out on a walk or cuddle with them or even talk to them (some may even do),I don’t write about pets very much (or negligible) but that does not mean that I don’t like pets. The pets I have described above mostly relate to dogs or cats. I don’t have either, although some dog and cat breeds are great to be around.

Why I don’t write about pets-2

And if you go to a grocery store, sometimes a whole aisle is dedicated to pet related stuff. Sometimes it surprises me that even poor people with food stamps in their hands buy pet food so that their pets don’t go hungry. Then if you have been to New York city, there is a huge kennel show going on for decades where the owners proudly display their dogs and ultimately the best one wins ( I don’t know the criteria since I have not attended it once, one of reasons being I don’t have a dog at home). Two years ago, I went with my nieces and sister to a cat show in Rhode Island and saw many cats and their owners who were selling cats and then my sister's brother in law adopted a cat from a animal shelter in Boston. And I have seen people walking their dogs during even snow time. And I have also seen people carrying their dogs onto trains in their handbags. And although I have been talking about dogs as pets, there are millions of households with cats and other animals in their houses who care for them. I have a fish in the house, which for all practical purposes is a pet but for me it is not a pet as I don’t cuddle with it and I don’t walk it and keep it beside me. It just stays in a glass aquarium and we (meaning my whole family) feed it from time to time. There are pet hotels and pet grooming places along with pet day care where people drop off their pets to be taken care of while they are at work.

Why I don’t write about pets

A big question since if you have been reading my blogs, there will hardly be any topics related to pets or related issues. So the question is why I don’t write about them. I know that pets are a huge industry and people take care of their pets and make them part of their family and even call them their sons and daughters and if anything happens to them like sickness or surgery, they even tend to skip office to attend to their needs. If you drive through small towns in New Jersey where I live, you will see towns with less than 12,000 have animal hospitals in them ( I covered animal hospitals in my earlier posts). There are animal graveyards and people go to extreme lengths to make sure their pets are given the best food, house and other necessities that human beings enjoy. Just to give you some examples, one family in Australia did not wanted to part away from their gold fish who have developed a tumor, so they paid a surgeon around 200 dollars or so to remove it and the gold fish survived. One of another example that you may encountered is when the pet dies away and you see so many tears in their owner's eyes that you assume that their family member has died (and for some they are). Then if by chance the pet runs away from home or is lost, the owners go out of their way to advertise them all over the place and offer rewards for finding their beloved pet.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The right time to breakup-2

Like marriage, there is a thing call compromise, you can be angry with your partner and don’t talk for a while but you forgive and reconcile knowing his good attributes far outweigh the bad one which may be just a bad judgment call, a mistake, a blunder, a lapse of judgment, in some spur of the moment, being angry and taking out the frustration one time only and any other of the human things that people do when they make wrong decisions that they think affect them only but hurts their loved ones in the process too. You have invested too much time and your emotions (not to talk about the financial factor) that you will just jump your partner for trivial matters which you have in a fit of anger thought were of highly significant nature. Before even you go to this length, although you should treat other as adults but as you know adults to make mistakes, there should a level of threshold that you should talk about that you would not tolerate any mistake whether intentional or not. I point is that you cannot just breakup during a certain time to avoid the comments of people and you have to work it between yourself that what made you fall in love in the first place despite all the annoying habits that each one of you had. Once that is settled then you can compromise on certain things and try to build a relationship free from lies and threats of each other. But in case you really are adamant in dumping your partner, you need not wait for a certain time of the year and tolerate them until then, you can break up any time of the year if you feel that all your efforts at reconciliation have failed and you have lost interest and have fallen out of love with the person who you were certain you would spend your life with and can't live without.

The right time to breakup

This topic always creeps up during the holiday season that what is the best time to dump your boyfriend or girlfriend if you really are not getting along. Some say before Thanksgiving, some say before Christmas and some say after the holidays are over. Why do people differ on the dates people dump their partners and why dump them right at the time of holidays and is there no way to reconcile? The reason for dumping before Thanksgiving, Christmas maybe the fact that they don’t want to give presents or introduce their soon to be ex to their parents and families. But on the other hand there are some who say that we should dump our partners after the holidays because we don’t want to be alone in this season of job and the invitation people get to attend parties, cuddle or just stopping nagging comments from your relatives that you are alone or how come you did not bring your boyfriend (if you don’t have one) and other silly reasons. But irrespective of dates dumping strategy you might approach, why do you have to dump a person whom you have fallen in love. I can understand that after a weeks, if things does not work out, you try to gently end the relationship, but if you are in a relationship for months, if the other person have not done something gravely wrong (like cheating or ending up in jail or harming you, you decide which one is your threshold of tolerance for forgiveness), can't you not try to reconcile with your partner.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The bombing at India-Pakistan Border-2

As the much touted military operation is going on, there was hope that the suicide bombings would decrease and in fact they have decreased but with the fragmentation of the Taliban groups, there are now many smaller groups who have now joined with ISIS to wage war against the weak government of Pakistan. I know no matter how much you can secure your country, there will always be someone willing and able enough to penetrate some security hurdles to do what he/she is supposed to do but I think that there should a fundamental thinking on the part of Pakistan regarding its support of these organization to further its utopian agenda to get the disputed region of Kashmir or bleed India into submission. The use of so called Jihad as a foreign policy is doing great harm to the country as the so called Jihad is now being directed towards Pakistan itself. After a few days, people tend to forget about the bombing till the next one and it has been happening for such a long time that people have resigned themselves to being killed. But the Pakistani state should rethink its strategy of what to do with all these militant organizations who despite all the military operations keep on hitting on the poor people of Pakistan. A new kind of open talk should be initiated and sponsoring of these organizations whether covertly or overtly should be stopped.

The bombing at India-Pakistan Border

A few days ago there was a bombing on the Pakistan's side of the border with India. It was the only border crossing between the Pakistani city of Lahore and the Indian city of Amritsar in northern Pakistan and India. It was a routine day there when both sides use a ceremony to lower their flags in the evening ( I have been there so I know the area and the ceremony). As usual there was a huge crowd witnessing this ceremony and when the ceremony was done, people were leaving when a suicide bomber (initial reports indicate) detonated his bomb and killed almost 50 people and injured dozens others. All the deaths occurred on the Pakistani side and the claims were made by some militant groups that it was to the response of the Military operations going on against them in the northern part of the country bordering Afghanistan. There have been now more threats by the same militant groups that if they can kill on the Pakistani side, they can do the same for the Indian side. In this bombing kids, adults and women got killed who had come to enjoy a supposedly secured ceremony and now they are dead at the hands of these so called Muslims. Nothing happened to the Indian side as now you can witness that Muslims for whatever twisted reasons have killed more Muslims than the non-Muslims. And some even point to the toleration of the security establishment in Pakistan which have harbored and nurtured these groups for their supposedly Jihad against India but now they have come back to bite the hand that feed them.

Church closings

Recently the New York church announced that some of the churches will be consolidated with other churches as there seems to be a lot of churches with not enough members to sustain them financially. Firstly I don’t understand why you have to a member of the church, can't anybody join it without being a member. I believed before that since a house of GOD is built, in this case churches they should remain open irrespective of the congregation. Why do they say that there are too many churches and they need to consolidate them, meaning some of the church property will become vacant and be sold to financially help the newly consolidated churches. Do people need the church or the church need the people? There is something fundamentally wrong in this picture. The churches are there for spiritual guidance and they should not be place of grandiose architecture so that they are unable to maintain in times of crisis. Now some people are lamenting the loss of these churches but is it not the fault of the people too that they are not coming as much to the church and supporting it financially and by their participation. It is a two way street, first the churches are built so big and huge without thinking about how many people are there actively coming to the church and then when the attendance is not there then you have to start closing or consolidating it. According to me once a place of worship is opened there should be no need to close it and if it is just financial then it is both the fault of the people and the church administration and they should reflect on why this is so that the churches are empty and people are not coming.

On the lighter side-Movies-Maleficent (2014)-Angelina Jolie

An alternative take on the Sleeping beauty saga with magnificent storyline and amazing special effects as a fairy in revenge of a betrayal by a man (later a king) puts curse on the daughter of the king but later relents when she finds out that the daughter is a kind hearted person. You really have to see the movie in order to comprehend the beauty of it. Some scary scenes for the kids but otherwise highly enjoyable and fun to watch. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014-Animated)

A racing plane whose engine is aging gets a second chance to be fire fighting plane in this entertaining animated movie but not the finest Disney has to offer. Though fun for kids. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Hercules (2014)-Dwayne Johnson

Second Hercules movie of the year, this time with the muscle bound “The Rock” fighting to take revenge for the killing of his family and helping a kingdom get rid of tyrant. More action and nothing else in between. Recommended with caution