Saturday, May 31, 2014

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-10

So as in other places of visit, the first thing was to get the map of the theme park so that we could know what attractions to attempt first with the least amount of time. In no particular order, these are the attractions we made it through in the amount of time we had. There was a simulation attraction called soarin' Basically it was just sitting in seat strapped and then your seat is elevated maybe six or seven feet and then you are taken through a screen where you feel like you are high up in the sky with scenes of oceans and buildings, it was like hand gliding. For me I felt like I was up in the sky until the ride ended and then I realized that I was just feet away from ground and I felt very stupid and dumb to think that I was flying high, but that was the sort of effects that they had created. It was time for us to take a break and get some liquid inside our system and what better way to get that is to go to Starbucks® and have some coffee. It felt so good to have that coffee and the prices were reasonable not that expensive as compared to outside prices. The next stop was called the advanced training lab; it was about being put in a space lab and be allowed to have a moon landing. There were two entrances once was for the smooth landing and one was the hard one. And since we did not have the stomach for the hard one, we decided to try the smooth one.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-16

We saw many exotic animals native to Africa and the surroundings and atmosphere in the safari looked almost the same as in a real safari if you happen to go on one. After that ride, eating our lunch in between our last leg of the tour was the Asian part of the park, where you can see old Indian artifacts and music. After see the ride Expedition Everest-Legend of Forbidden Kingdom® visible from where we were standing, we decided that we should take a pass on it and went on our last ride called Kali River rapids. It was the most fun ride all, as you sit in a raft and then the water drifts that raft to slowly and sometimes fast but the biggest splash comes when it goes down a rapid clip from a small fall and then you become wet with all the water splashed on the raft. Since it was our last ride, we decided to go for another one and luckily since there was no line, the attendant let us go through it again and again we got splashed with hot on a hot day. It had started to get chilly and my daughter was soaked so we bought her a towel and went back to the bus stand. As you know that most unfunny part of the trip is packing and unpacking so the packing part came and we packed but I had a feeling that bag was heavy so the next day I weighed the bag at the resort area weighing area and it was overweight by 58 pounds (as mostly it should be the maximum 50 pounds) so we had to do some creative moving stuff so that it is under 50 pounds. After that clearing our bills and then we put our bag in the car and went to the airport, returned our rental car and boarded our flight which was this time thankfully peaceful and we landed in the afternoon on Friday.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-15

Then we went to the show called Finding Nemo- The musical. If you have seen the movie Finding Nemo, you would get the idea too, as it is similar to the movie with human characters included. Another show was called Its tough to be a bug® and it was in 3D with some live and some cartoon characters involved. It was cool to watch them and experience it. There was also a ride called Primeval Whirl ® which was I think was more of the movement of how the mouse runs but it was designed like a dinosaur with its slow and not so fast ups and downs but as I had already experienced the Space mountain ride, I was okay with it but still felt glad that it was not that torturous and heart pounding and also it was in the open. After this ride, there was the craving for Ice cream and on to a nearby store we went to get our daily fix on the vacation. Animal kingdom has many divisions and two of the divisions are called Africa and Asia. First we decided to go to the African side and once you enter it you would notice African Music and African made goods and also the African atmosphere that permeates the whole surrounding. The best thing to do is to take around half an hour of safari ride on one of the old buses in a tour called Kilimanjaro Safaris®. The tour buses as you can imagine were made exactly as we were going on a safari and there were hardly any paved roads so the ride was bumpy at times.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-14

After we went back to our room, a debate started whether we should go to the Disney's Animal kingdom or go to Universal Studio' tour. I and my daughter wanted to see the Universal Studios which we did not have tickets for and my wife wanted to see this newest attraction which we had tickets for. So after a long debate and after checking prices of Universal Studios, we decided it would be useless to waste tickets for Animal Kingdom and go there while the tour of Universal Studios was hopefully relegated to another time where we would not have to be really in the Disney Resort and whenever we come the only place we may go will be Disney's' Magic Kingdom. The next day was a hot day as compared to New York weather (we were blessed with nice weather all throughout our trip) and after eating our breakfast ventured to the bus stand to take us to the Animal Kingdom. The rush was usual but not that much if you would have gone in summer and after checking our bags, we went to the stand where the maps were located to chart out our strategy to go on which rides or attractions first. The first one was the wildlife express train, which as everybody by now knows love to travel on these trains in the theme parks. The train was made just like a safari train in yesteryears would be like with empty boxes and dilapidated but workable trains and wooden seats with no amenities. It was a small but fun ride which led us to conservation station where you were supposed to get out and check out how animals are being helped by humans for conservation purposes.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-13

I love crystals and I enjoy watching them sitting there on the shelf but they were very expensive and with financial constraints in place it will stay there. But I got to get their website address so that whenever I have the money I will buy some from them. But we still manage to buy a crystal shoe from there. Also there was a master crystal maker making new items out of crystals. The weather was hot and so there were many people out walking as it must be assumed since it is Disney World. I missed having the ice cream from the main street store and so I fulfilled my wish on my list on the Disney tour. There are many shops in Disney World and usually if you have seen one you have seen all. But just out of curiosity and maybe I can find something new, I went into each store to see if they have something of interest to buy and maybe differentiate from other stores. Even walking from one store to another store becomes tiresome after a while and you also don’t feel like going to all the rides and entertainments shows Disney has to offer. There is a river boat ride we missed in addition to the parade of Disney Characters that starts at about nine at night. And I don’t even remember what we have missed since it is really tiring to walk and then have to wait for the rides. Around nine o'clock we decided to head back to the bus to get to the resort and get the car and eat outside.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-12

There is a whole showcase of different countries where you go to see what their cultures are but we were too tired to walk all the way through so we decided to call it a day and went to our bus stand. After we reached the resort, we took the car and went to eat outside. Next day since we had an extra ticket, we decided to go back to Magic Kingdom because that is the best and the main place to visit in the Disney World area. Please note that although all the theme parks open around nine and close around 11 (some earlier) but that did not mean we were there exactly at the opening time and leaving at the closing time. We slept in late and took our time to go to the theme parks because as I said before you can only see so much in a day and some rides are not worth the time to wait and enjoy. Even if the rides that we missed, there was not much to go back for us anyway except to roam around the theme park. The first thing that I missed last time was the train ride on Main Street, so that was the first order of the day and on the next stop we hopped out of it. We also went to the Peter Pan's flight which last time had more than an hour wait but this time it was not that much so that was done. There was starbucks® on main street so we had took the opportunity to grab our coffee fix there. There is a store on Main Street called Arribas Brothers, you don’t want to miss that store for anything and every time I go to Disney World or Disney Land, I always go there. It is a crystal store with decorative Disney Characters with of course outrageous prices but well deserved.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-11

After a brief trip of training, we were huddled into a small cabin and put on the seat belts and then squeezed up with the navigation wheel and everybody had a task to be done in order to land on the moon, like takeoff, navigation, landing etc. It was a rough landing at the end and we could not have imagined that what it would be like to be on the training lab with the hard landing. They just make it so realistic that you feel like you are in a space ship. We went to another interactive show where there was a talking turtle talking in goofy voice with the kids and the turtle talk was funny and enjoyable. One of the fun rides was called Project tomorrow: Inventing the world of the future where you sit in a car seat like setting and it lets you go through the inventing what it would like to be living in a place of your own making, like flying cars and other cool futuristic stuff. If you know about Ellen DeGeneres, she is the funny lady who also has a spot on the Epcot center, it is called Ellen's Energy adventure, where you sit on huge theater like seats that move and take you through the pre historic dinosaurs’ tour. As you know that long time ago, Michael Jackson the late pop star made a 3D movie exclusively for Epcot center I believe and we went there to see this movie. Along the way we had our ice cream dose and also went to do some shopping and at night saw fireworks.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Monuments Men (2014)-George Clooney, Matt Damon

Very exciting world war II war drama about an weird group of people who are tasked with rescuing art masterpieces and returning them to their rightful owners from the Germans who have stolen it and are ready to destroy it. I loved the movie. Highly recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Veronica Mars (2014)-Kristen Bell

Years after putting her teenage detective life behind, Veronica Mars is interviewing for a Lawyer's job when she is lured back to her hometown by her ex-flame who has been accused of murder. Entertaining movie and if you don’t know anything about the title character, you should watch the series first. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-3 Days to Kill (2014)- Kevin Costner

An aging, dying and ruthless government agent wants to retire and spend time with this estranged daughter but agrees to do a final assignment in exchange for an experimental drug which can prolong his life. Routine action and a visibly aged Kevin Costner make this an average movie. Not recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Motorway (2012-Hong Kong) - Anthony Wong

A rookie cop tries to stop a race car driver from escaping after a jewelry robbery on the streets of Hong Kong. Just race car driving and nothing much to recommended. Fast and Furious this is not. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Guns and Roses (2012-Hong Kong)

Comedy caper from Hong Kong about a small time crook who gets tangled with Anti Japanese Revolutionaries in World War 2 China who are trying to rob a bank so that they can stop an arms shipment. A patient movie but the rewards are great if you are into the Hong Kong style of movies. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Battle of the Damned (2013)-Dolph Lundgren

A private soldier leads a band of mercenaries into a virus infected zone to rescue a daughter of a rich man and battle hordes of Zombies in this action packed thriller which has nothing new to offer just the regular action. Not recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)

A group of friends find a perfect isolated island to have fun not knowing that a fresh eating virus has escaped from a lab located on the island and they fight for their survival. Nothing new here except blood and gore. The third in the series with the first one still the best. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Dragonwolf (2012)

Avoid this criminal assault on your time as two martial arts brother try to win affection for a mysterious woman. Not even the plot is worth mentioning. Not recommended to anybody.

On the lighter side-Movies-Nebraska (2013)-Bruce Dern, Will Forte

An aging man believing he has won a lot of one million dollars drags his son along for a ride to another state in this beautiful black and white, father and son bond movie which was highly enjoyable especially the superb acting by Bruce Dern. Highly recommended

Friday, May 30, 2014

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-9

The magic of Disney animation was another one of the attractions where you get to draw your own animation and meet your favorite Disney characters from the movie, The incredibles and Wreck it Ralph and also Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters. The best one was the Studio back lot tour where you are seated in a bus and they take you on a tour of the props and replicas used in making movies. As you know that Disney owns Pixar studios also so naturally they have an area dedicated to Pixar characters where we saw a 3D movie and then ate Pizza and bought some souvenirs from a local shop and then went back to our hotel. If you happen to go to Disney you would notice how after you have completed an attraction or entertainment your exit will most of the time lead to a store with the characters of that attraction and other Disney Characters. It is just a clever strategy so that the fresh memory of what you have seen is there so that you can buy the stuff right away without thinking about where you saw those characters. So another hectic day was wrapped up and now it was time to go EPCOT® center, the futuristic and space themed park of the Disney world. As usual waking up at an decent time, we headed towards to food court to buy our breakfast and then after eating it we headed to wait for our bus to take us to the Epcot® center. Once there, although there was not much of a line but you had to check in your bags with the entrance security.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-8

We came home and went to sleep right away and the next day we took our breakfast and off we went to buy some grocery from a store in downtown Orlando so that we have some snacks while we are in the theme parks. Other things bought were some regular toilet stuff. Today was the day we were going to Disney's Hollywood studios a theme park full of Disney® and Pixar® and Marvel® movies and replicas and little bit of rides in between. Although we had not seen the complete Magic Kingdom and we were already making plans to see the rest of it but today was the Hollywood studios too. Although I was not that much thrilled about it but since we had the ticket on hand, we decided to go and see what this attraction is was all about. Well apart from all the Disney and Disney related movies that were made there was the whole showcase about how the Hollywood industry evolved and evolving over the years. The most fun ride was the Toy Story Midway mania where you are seated and have a ride and shoot down aliens with your laser guns mounted on the seats, the lines were long but with our fast entry pass we went inside very fast and enjoyed it the most. The Great Movie Ride® was another one of the very slow moving tram ride inside a hall where they showed the movies progressing from yesteryears to today and then we had the ride with complete props and re creation of some of the movies especially the recreation of the western movies and the alien one was really neat.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-7

As I am not fond of roller coaster rides especially the ones with speed but I saw little kids going on it and so I said to myself what the heck, it is Disney World, how bad they would have it here. There were two rides that were built up to be crazy ones and the first one was Splash Mountain. An initially slow moving ride but when it goes up it comes down faster and splashes on water and once I got on the ride I did not find it crazy but the last one I had it on the first day was really crazy. It was called Space Mountain. First you have to go up the stairs and there you would sit individually on seats and then the ride begins. And it was one I would not have gone had I known that it was be so damn fast. First of all the roller coaster was in the dark and second it was fast with fits and starts that can make you feel dizzy and getting out of the seat. I just sat there holding on to dear life but I was good for one time only. It was time to wrap up the day but we had one more entertainment show to watch which the Mickey dream fantasy sequence was and it was really very spectacular with stadium seats out in the open. We wanted to see the complete fireworks but we were getting tired but we did catch some glimpse of it while walking towards our bus. And after reaching our hotel room, we took the car to eat outside the resort in nearby downtown Orlando.

In search of a perfect house-2

I have seen so many houses and watched the show so many times and just when I think the house that I like would be chosen they go with their own choice restricted by the budget and other convenience that they want sacrificing the things they may want in the future if they have the money. Even if you build your own house, you would still find something lacking after it is completed since we are looking for perfection in places when we are not ourselves perfect. Either the woman would want a big kitchen or when she likes some kitchen, the man steps in and does not like the view or inaccessibility to the beach or the commute to work is too long. And in the case of international houses, the people from their respective countries want to have the same ample space that they had in their native countries in places where it either impractical or prohibitively expensive. As with other things in life, when at the end of the show, there is always a compromise and with budget being a big factor, they have to see what is practical and doable and what can be left out. Human beings rarely do get satisfied with what they have and always looking for a perfect place or house where they can have everything they want but ultimately if you cannot get the perfect house, you can buy the less than perfect house and make it the way you want it to be by remodeling or repairing and changing the way it looks. So people stop trying to find the perfect house and try to find a house which you can call it a home at the end of the day.

In search of a perfect house

No it is not me who is searching for the perfect house but it is I am writing about. There is a channel in the U.S. called HGTV® on which one of my favorite shows are shown. It is called House hunters and its companion house hunters international. Although I am not that fond of house hunters since it basically tells of some couple or buyers looking for a home in the U.S and the various houses that are shown and ultimately to decide it in half an hour which house they choose. It is just a truncated process of the whole buying thing. But I am very much interested in the international version where I get to see people go to new places and try to either buy but mostly to rent their place of residence. You get to fascinating houses in places where you would least expect it and the scenery and other things that go with it. But one thing I have noticed is that if there is a couple, they always disagree on what sort of house they want to buy or rent. There will always be something that either one or both the parties would not like and they have this issue with finding the perfect house with nice access to the beach, big kitchen and updated bathrooms and sometimes a big backyard but when it comes to paying for it, they want to stay within a budget. Then it becomes hard for the real estate agent to combine the wishes of both the parties since there is no such thing as a perfect house.

Martial Law in Thailand

After months of infighting and bickering between the opposition and the government, the Military had it enough with the politicians and declared Martial law and suspended the constitution (except of the part pertaining to monarchy). Although it has been condemned by the U.S. and other countries, it remains to be seen what happens next. Thailand is not immune to military coups and the bickering politicians were just inviting it to stage one, and this is the tragedy of developing countries where the military is powerful and the politicians have no space for tolerating each other. And I am not saying all developing countries have a history of coups as you can well see that India being a developing country has a well flourishing democracy despite all the corruption and the bickering politicians that they have. But the military does not interfere and all is solved at the ballot boxes with much violence and the results are accepted till the next election. Thailand is not the only country to suffer from this bickering politicians and military interventions. Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and several African countries are also on the list where the tolerance level is low and the charges of rigging in the elections widespread which gives the military to move in and since the military is the only organized institution, people who are fed up with their corrupt politicians long for this kind of intervention. Although you can blame many factors for the dysfunctional democratic process but one thing is clear that unless all politicians and common people develop the level of tolerance needed to support a democracy, these kinds of episodes will continue to happen.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-6

After this ride we went to Jungle Cruise, where your sit on a jungle type boat and the guide takes you around a small river designated with different parts of the world where you can find different kind of animals. Although the line was long but we went through it quickly since the empty boats were coming up fast. We also went to Haunted mansion which had a long line but I was not that much impressed with the horrors that they had. Maybe the little kids can become scared but it was not up to par. One of the best things I like is called It's a small world- a slow boat ride where you see the different regions of the world with different customs, cultures, costumes and other related stuff. It is the most entertaining ride and should not be missed. Since we had already eaten but we did to quench our thirst and we then bought some high priced sodas and water bottles from the store. Just a word of caution that although the Disney people are nice enough to allow outside food and beverages but that quickly runs out and when you start buying from inside the parks then you need to keep hefty amount of money in your hands as the prices are very expensive for even a bottle of water. I can understand that maybe of all the administrative and operational costs involved, but still when you start consuming drinks and food, money runs out faster. Anyway there is no other way but to buy food and beverages from inside the park if it is your first day and you did not get a chance to grocery shop to save some money and stock your items in your shoulder supported bag.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-5

But you don’t have to stay at the resort as there are many hotels and motels driving distance from the Disney world attractions and they may be cheaper even with the car rental expenses. But it is of course up to you what you have to do in this particular case. Magic kingdom has many areas which are called Fantasyland, Tomorrow land, Frontier land, Adventure land etc. Although they don’t seem to be much far apart but you really need to walk if your one attraction is in one land and the other one in another land. And you should be well prepared to walk miles and standing in lines for up to sometimes half an hour for popular rides. After this vacation you feel more tiresome but it is all for the happiness of your kids and here nothing else matters at that moment. But that does not diminish the fun for adults as you can see many of them having equal fun with their kids. I will not list my rides in any particular order as everybody would want to have their own preferences and I will not list all rides as I did not go to all of them as it either we did not have the time or were too exhausted to it or were too childish and unexciting for us to wait in lines for rides. And we did skip some rides as the fatigue of walking and standing in lines takes a toll on your body. As we needed to go on rides and attraction which we wanted to do in the minimum time that we were there, we headed towards the ride called The magic carpet of Aladdin- a merry go around type ride where you are elevated up and a similar ride to this is also the dumbo the flying elephant ride where you ride on the Dumbo (elephant) shaped seats.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-4

The first thing you will encounter are lots of people along with their kids. And anywhere you to or any attraction you want to go have lines very long and they are not even straight lines but zig zag side by side so instead of seeing one long line and getting discouraged, you see a long line broken down into several lines. But now thanks to the Disney app, we have an option to see where the lines are the longest and where they are the smallest so that we can go to the attraction with the smallest line and take care of the longer ones later on. Also with the fast entry option that I told you before you can skip past long lines and enter the attraction must faster. And the rush also depends upon when you are going on vacation. If you are going in summer vacation or spring break, you should expect long lines and crowded attractions although I do admit that sometimes the long lines can be an illusion since some of the attractions are pretty fast to complete even with the long lines and they have more capacity to hold people. So instead of discouragement, you should embrace the attraction and plan smartly and accordingly. No need to stress out since you will have plenty of time to go each attraction provided your trip is five days or more but if less than you will have to budget your time and skip some lesser known attractions. Although we had our own rental car, but we preferred to stay at the resort since the resort buses can take you to and from your place of stay to the attractions and you don’t have to pay anything as the price is I believe already included in your stay.

Baby advice from the male's perspective-2

Raising a baby is a full time job which many people don’t realize. As soon as the baby comes your whole life is changed and don’t think that you as a male will be immune to it as your wife will need more than just casual help around the house and outside. Your whole world revolves around the baby timing and we used to sleep whenever the baby used to sleep. And when my wife was sleeping or was not around, I had to time my bathroom things around when the baby needed the least help or when the baby was secured enough in her surrounding for a few minutes and even at the time it was all rush so that the baby does not hurt herself or just cry because she was hungry or the diaper is wet. When you are going to go out you have to make sure that the baby is buckled properly in the car seat and you will have to carry the baby for a few months till your wife is strong enough to share that burden. In this day and age where both the parents are working, it is imperative that all burden of child rearing should not fall on the mothers as the fathers have equal responsibility to take care of the baby. I for one am a big supporter of taking care of your baby as it takes two to bring them in the world and you should as a father do everything you can to make sure that you bond with your baby whether you are giving them bath, feeding them, taking them out for a stroller walk or playing in the house. The more you interact and take care of your baby the more appreciative will be your wives and the more you would feel connected to your baby.

Baby advice from the male's perspective

The other day I was talking to my niece about babies as she is expecting one and we started to talk about how I handled my own baby. She was saying everybody was giving her advice about what to expect and what should be done and we started talking about my own advice which was not advice but rather a discussion. Most of the mothers think that Fathers cannot handle a baby and to a point they are right but to dismiss them as not good at baby rearing should not be generalized. Although men are not naturally inclined to rear a baby as good as women does but once taught how to they will do just nearly fine. Although fathers are usually said that they can't handle babies and babies cannot be trusted with their fathers in terms of child rearing but it should not generalized that every father will act this way. Although I am not an exemplary father but I tried my best to take care of my baby. She was a good baby and did not wake up as at night but if she my wife would wake up and in some rare cases when she was tired, I use to wake up. Once I learned how to put on a diaper on the baby, whenever I was alone with the baby I used to clean the baby and put the diaper on. I also used to clean the milk bottles and feed her whenever my wife was not available. I understand that taking care of the baby is not easy as you have to been constantly on your guard to make sure the baby does not put something in her/his mouth and does not hurt themselves.

Pakistan hits back at the Militants

Recently the Pakistan Army hit some militant hideouts and killed dozens of militants and destroyed their hideouts. Nowadays you will hear a lot of killings of Militants by the Pakistan's Military and since there is no news about if the casualties are civilians or militants you have to rely on the Military's version of how many were killed. And whenever you see this news in that country's newspaper, overwhelming majority are all praise for these attacks and very few question the number of deaths or whether they are even civilians or not. And even the politicians who cry hoarse over the U.S. drone attacks keep a hypocritical silence on it. As if the politicians are dumb struck whether to support it or criticize it, so they keep quiet about it as they are loathe to criticize their own military and since there is no statistics regarding which kind of people are killed the public tend to be err on the side of the Military's version. So my question is when the almost precision hit by the U.S. drones is criticized because it has caused civilian casualties which the people cannot back up why they are being quiet about question the Pakistan's Military's version about all the killings in the attacks on the hideouts are all militants, they may be not there alone and maybe with their families. This is the height of hypocrisy on the part of the Paki people. They jeer whenever the U.S. drone attacks kill some militants (and sometimes civilians) and they cheer when their own military kills militants who may also include civilians. You can judge by this how things are being played out in Pakistan

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-3

After relaxing for a while, we decided that it will be waste of time to stay in the room all day since the parks were open till eleven. But first we had to take a quick lunch since we had not eaten anything since breakfast time. The resort had its own restaurant with breakfast, lunch and dinner menu and after eating Pizza, we hopped on the resort bus to go to the biggest theme park of the Disney World called the Magic Kingdom®. I may have not told you but I had been here before with my parents and siblings but it was way long time ago and I came here knowing that things may have been changed considerably. My wife took the guide map from the entrance and checked in our bags as you know security has become tight now everywhere and after entering started to map out our trip. When I came before, we had to stand in long lines to wait our turn to enter some attraction. This time with our magic wristbands and a facility where you can have your own separate line for fast entrance has been introduced which sometimes shaves off half an hour or more of the regular lines and as we were a resort guest, we had that privilege but they only give you like three passes for the fast lane so in order to avail that we had to managing which attractions are worthwhile enough and the lines are long enough that we can use that facility to see the attraction. For this scheduling to work, Disney has an app that you can see and check and manage your ride times right on your phone.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®-2

As the plane landed earlier than usual and we were at the airport at 12.10 we took a rental car instead of taking the resort buses as we had already decided to eating just pizza and French fries and the limited amount of menu available in the resorts will not cut it. The rental car was an American car smooth and spacious and we had already packed our GPS from our car so that we don’t have any problems navigating around the unfamiliar terrain of Orlando, Florida. As I started to drive towards our destination of the resort called All star sports, I noticed the roads wide and the traffic not that much. Maybe it was Sunday but as I drove I also noticed that you can easily change lanes with your indicator without the hassle to wait for someone to give way. As a Northeaster I was seeing that you can drive an 18 wheeler truck through the distance between one car to another. When we reached the resort, we checked in and they gave us the newest Disney innovation, the magic wristband with your names on it so that you can use it for numerous purposes, which I will tell you later on. After the check in, we went to our room and the since we did not have any card to insert to open the door, the wristband had the Disney logo that you touch it on the door knob that opens your door. Since you will be wearing it all the time, you would not need to remember if you have forgotten your room keys as it has many utilities.

On the lighter side-Travel-Walt Disney World®

Disclosure: Please not all the copyright and trademarks are owned by their respective owners and I am just writing my experience as a tourist in Disney resorts. I don’t get any compensation and not endorse any of the products. This year we decided that we should take our vacation on the happiest place on earth (as being called by the Disney People). Before the price of the tickets rose, we had already booked our hotel at the Disney Resort. On the day of our flight in the morning we reached the airport early because we did not knew how the traffic situation would be from our house but the traffic was light and after checking in with our luggage, we proceeded towards the Gate where we had to get in for screening and checkup to make sure we are not carrying anything illegal. The process of taking off your shoes continues but it has now been relaxed for children under the age of twelve. And since I was wearing strapless sandals so it was just easy for me to take off. After the check in, we went towards our gate and since we had not eating that much for breakfast, we decided to buy some coffee and croissant to fill up our stomachs. The flight was short and nice except that there was a single father with a around two or three year old kid who kept on constantly crying and giving a hard time to her father. And after an hour or so she went to sleep and when the plane landed she woke up and was all smiling after creating such a ruckus in the plane. Okay I love babies and kids they are the most adorable human beings on earth but in this case either the father was not able to control or calm his child or the child was too much for the father. Another episode happened that when the plane was landing, a boy vomited without the help of air sickness bags and so most of the vomit was splashed on the area where he was sitting in the aisle side.

On the lighter side-Movies-Bad Blood (2010-Hong Kong)

When a triad boss gets executed by the government, all hell breaks lose for the succession struggle. Martial arts mayhem with nothing else to recommend. Recommended for action fans only.

Does the U.S. have its hand full in tackling world crisis?-5

Although Africa has been up in flames for a long time since I have been reading it and there has been several conflicts going off and on like in Somalia, Sudan, in the southern part of Africa but most of the conflicts were local enough that the U.S. did not get involved much and since France has been the traditional colonial power there for a long time they have been sending their own troops there to take care of the situation. The U.S. was involved one time in a humanitarian situation in Somalia but got burned there and had to get out and stayed out not sending any troops on the ground. But with these Nigerian kidnappings and the threat of more Islamists violence growing, the U.S. is trying to help Nigeria in eliminating this threat. So the only places where we don’t have any conflict resolve issues are the South Americas and the Australia. As you can see from my discussion, the U.S. has its hand full in dealing with world crisis and we are just scrambling to resolve all of them. But do we have the means or we are just pretending that we have the means to do it. I think the U.S. thinks that it has the means but it is just stretching itself thin financially and military as the other major powers like China, France and Britain are not interested or do not have the means to project global power as the U.S. does. But as they say we have to choose our battles and right now we are not choosing but fighting on all fronts. We don’t have the money and sinking deeper into debt and we have to decide where we can affect problem solvers and where we should leave it to other regional powers to resolve their neighborhood issues.

Does the U.S. have its hand full in tackling world crisis?-4

And then we have our favorite topic, the talks of the nuclear arms with Iran. As we have not have enough on our hands that we are trying to have another chance at stopping Iran with acquiring nuclear weapons. For example even if they stop the development of it, they still have to know how to make it quickly and the neighborhood in which they are living is already dangerous enough for them not to acquire some deterrence. As for the rhetoric about attacking Israel and destroying it, everybody who is sane enough knows that it is just talk and Iran will never do such a thing unless attacked. The Arabs are scared because of the religious and ideological differences and so they want to finish the Iran Nuclear arsenal if they have any. It is also strange that the Arabs sharing the same religion but different sect can have so much hatred for other fellow Muslim that the whole concept of Muslim Ummah blows up on the face of Muslims. Anyway the talks are going on and we have another situation at hand with the Syrian Crisis going on and guess what the U.S. is trying to steer the war towards more pro Western forces but is failing due to the increasing numbers of Islamists fighters and the fear that the regime after the current one in Syria would be more radicalized and anti West. And if that is not enough, we have a crisis brewing in Africa with the abduction of more than 200 school girls by a renegade Islamic terrorist group (see my article on it before in my blog)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Does the U.S. have its hand full in tackling world crisis?-3

Now we go to the old ones that keeps on propping up and we are about to open a new one in Africa. You the one in the Middle East that has not been resolved for the last 66 years and will not be resolved anytime soon since both the parties distrust each other and there are elements on both sides who don’t want peace between them. Israel and Palestinian officials have been trying to find peace with the help of the United States but for a few people aside, the U.S. public has more important things to do since on theory the U.S. don’t want to take sides but do take sides with Israel in this case and thus they are not neutral arbitrators and this just hinders the process of negotiation because if the arbitrator is not neutral then you cannot trust its judgment and decisions. But the Palestinians are stuck with the U.S. since it is the only power that can persuade both sides to find a negotiated settlement but the world is getting tired now with this issue despite human suffering because both sides don’t budge on issues that are important to them. And with the Chinese increasingly asserting itself in the South China Sea and are in conflict with countries like Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam and Japan, the U.S. is trying to keep the situation calm with angering anyone but all this is not helping because right now despite all the treaties it is hard to believe that the U.S. will risk war with China. And it does not help the U.S. that the above mentioned countries look up to the United States to help them in case conflict breaks out between China and any other country mentioned.

Does the U.S. have its hand full in tackling world crisis?-2

And if the conflicts were not enough to keep the U.S. on its toes, there was report that the intelligence agencies in the United States now regard water scarcity as a very grave threat to the global and national security of the U.S. as there can wars on the distribution of water in different areas of the world. So before I deal with the water issue and how it will affect the U.S. security, let me give you how the U.S. has its hands full in dealing with different explosive issues around the world and how well it can or cannot respond to it given its military and economic might. Let's see where we start. I would rather start with the latest one in Ukraine as people are more familiar with it. As everybody knows that Ukraine is in crisis and one of part Ukraine has already been annexed (or whatever you want to can it). Some other parts of Ukraine has through ballot box have voted to become independent of Ukraine and ask the Russian federation include them in their country. And despite all the concerns of the U.S. and west nothing has been done to reverse this trend. And Russia knows that nobody wants to go to war with them over Ukraine so it did what it thought can be easily done without invoking the wrath of the west if any. And also right now the U.S. does not have the appetite to have another war when the one in Afghanistan is slowing down but not yet over as it has still troops based there.

Does the U.S. have its hand full in tackling world crisis?

As I keep reading news regarding crisis after crisis in the world and how the U.S. is expected to respond to it, I started to think that does the U.S. has the resources and manpower and the will to handle several crisis simultaneously? And it seems like the answer is No. After the two devastating wars in the Middle East, no sane American would want their country to indulge in another war in far off lands where you don’t know the language, the terrain, the people and culture and you are after the initial euphoria of the citizens, you outlive your welcome and then the resentment and the guerilla warfare starts and then you regret that why did the Americans have to go there in the first place. And if you don’t believe me, just read what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan to back up what I have said before. But with all the crisis and potential conflicts going around the world and the world weary Americans nothing wanting to do anything about it, the world still looks at the U.S. to resolve conflicts or at least try to contain and prevent one. And even if the Americans don’t like it, they have been forced by their leaders into treaties that make the U.S. committed to the security of different regions around the world which I will come to it in a moment. And even if the U.S. is not bound by treaties, it feels obligated to put out flames where it flares up by some moral obligation that is very remote from the daily struggling Americans and still they are not loved by the outside people.

Turning towards GOD in times of need

I know that most of the people hardly read any news let alone several per day (as I do) but being a blogger I am constantly in search of news which interests me and will hopefully interests some of my readers. And I was reading in a newspaper that recently an earthquake was felt in some parts of Pakistan and people were deathly afraid enough that they started to fill the mosque of the locality so much that there was no place left to pray except to be outside the mosque. And the regulars of the mosque were saying that they don’t see so many people but only during the holy month of Ramadan. And I was not sure to either laugh at this story or feel sorry for the sad state of affairs that the humans have become. And this reaching out to divine powers in times of needs is not an exclusive Muslim thing. Every religion follows do it from time to time in the times of crisis. This is a basic human trait that when in times of crisis or hardship, there is more intense personal involvement with GOD and people become a little more religious even if they are not right now. And when that wish or trouble is fulfilled or vanished, then we the humans just behave like we don’t want to pray anymore and then the next time it happens again. We are all guilty of it and it is ingrained in our nature but we can change that if we remember GOD in times of needs and crisis and also in times of happiness. Because if GOD puts us in crisis and then provides us with happy times we should be thankful and pray to GOD either way.

Is Russia becoming a new enemy of the U.S?

Although it does not seem that way right now but as the things are boiling over in Ukraine and the sanctions that the west and the U.S. is putting on Russia suggests that Russia has after a long time assumed the status of being the new Enemy (besides others) of the U.S. And it would be a shame that after all the cooperation between the two countries like in Iran Nuclear deal and Syrian Chemical weapons use and also the war going on and the international space station besides other things, things would have to be reset to the level of the cold war status. Although the relations were not perfect as compared to say Western Europe and there were always problems somehow but the cooperation was working most of the time and it did not stooped to the level of sanctions which both sides can ill afford. The only way was too diffuse the tension but now that is also gone too as both sides have dug into their positions. I don’t believe that we will ever return to the cold war status because it would be shame that the world's two most powerful nations are again loggerheads on issue in Europe. But one thing is clear that due to this Ukraine Crisis, NATO which was struggling to finds its purpose after the demise of the old Soviet Union has become more relevant and Europe has somewhat started to see the feasibility of having this force around their Neighborhood. So let’s hope saner heads prevail and everybody takes a step back before the tension rises to a more unmanageable level.

The Turkish Mine Disaster

Right now the reports are preliminary but more than 200 miners have died in a mine in Turkey and more are missing in this one of the greatest tragedy to hit Turkey in recent times. It was reported that there was some kind of explosion after which miners died and many are stuck and according to some reports at the time of explosion around 700 miners were working in the mine. I cannot say what kind of safety measures were in place or if there were some safety issues that were ignored but this is a great tragedy and I feel for the miners as these people are desperate enough to work in mines when they are unable to find any jobs above ground. My father told me once that when he was young, he was taken to a mine field somewhere in Germany and that experience he did not wanted to have again. There was this reason behind it that he may have felt claustrophobic with all sides closed and he is just gone deep into the mine, but apart from this any mine would not be a luxurious hotel stay or regular office work. It is a hard work with close encounters with other beings and no sun light or any human contact besides your own co workers. And I for one will be the last person to work in a mine, any mine but here I just want to sympathize with the families of the victims who don’t know yet what has happened to their loved ones and may not be even able to receive the bodies. There should now to concerted efforts to improve the safety of all mines in Turkey and beyond so that these kinds of tragedies must not occur again.

On the lighter side-Movies-Inception (2010)-Leonardo dicaprio

A beautiful movie must be seen two or three times to understand about a thief who steal ideas from people minds but have also ruined his life and is given a new task to do the inception-planting an idea in a person's head to get back his life. I can't explain much but the dream within dream within dream sequence must be seen to appreciate the beauty of this film. Highly recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Come drink with me (1966-Hong Kong)

Considered by some to be one of the best Hong Kong Martial movies it is about a group of bandits who kidnap the Governor's son to be exchanged by their imprisoned leader. The governor sends his other offspring to get his son back. If you see the action, it was revolutionary at the time of its release and this became the standard bearer for the subsequent hundreds of Hong Kong martial arts movies to come. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Philomena (2013)-Judi Dench, Steve Coogan

A journalist pursue the story of a woman who has been searching for her son for the last 50 years when she was forced give up the baby for adoption in this superb movie with great performances by lead actors. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-I Frankenstein (2014)-Aaron Eckhart

Frankenstein's Monster gets caught between the centuries old conflict between two immortal enemies in this CGI effects laden heavy movie with abundance of violence but little else. Recommended for action fans only.

On the lighter side-Movies-Her (2013)-Joaquin Phoenix

A computer expert falls in love with the voice of the female software installed in his computer in this futuristic weird romance movie with good acting by Mr. Phoenix but it was too slow and boring to linger on for so long. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Vampire Academy (2014)

If you have read the books, you would know how the story works and the books were best sellers but something got lost in translation. In the movie, a half human, half vampire girl trains to protect the peaceful mortal vampire from evil vampires. It is a story that I did not get it in the first or the second place and there was no horror whatsoever. Not Recommended

Saturday, May 17, 2014

On the lighter side-Movies-Pompeii (2014)

A slave turned gladiator races to save his true love before the volcanic eruption of Pompeii in Italy in AD 79 in this dreary movie with useless acting and no redeemable feature. Not recommended.

Raw emotions in sports-2

When a team loses when it was suppose to win or as the fans say that it was their turn to win and when their team does not win they then take out the anger and agony of the fans should be seen as some are crying and some vent their anger and seek refuge in violence. And even a tiny minority start to suspect something sinister in the game itself that have robbed their team of a deserving win. Even the coaches show their frustration when the team players are acting not according to his/her expectations or the other team is playing better than his/hers. And this is just I am talking about the major leagues or big boys game. The little league is not that far behind either as emotions overflow and great expectations are building up for the games. Yelling, spitting on the ground and pushing sand with your shoes are some of the anger and frustration that is witnessed on the field and sometimes outside too. I don’t understand when we become fathers and mothers, we tell our kids that just play and enjoy sports and don’t worry of winning or losing as it is not important. But when we are in the field, our competitive instinct wakes up and beating our opponent becomes the only and ultimate goal at that time. No amount of rationality or reason stands in the way of our goal of winning at all costs and even to the point of not enjoying sports but competing like crazy. Sports should be played for enjoyment and not for some ego boosting stunt as it just destroys the spirit in which the sports is being played. So relax and calm your nerves and enjoy.

Raw emotions in sports

I know overwhelming majority of people love sports and some are even on the brink of fanaticism. Some of the fans dish out thousands of dollars every year to attend season games of their favorite teams and even if their team has not won any championships, they follow them blindly. They may question the tactics of their team and how it should be played but they stick to their team no matter what. And they defend it vigorously even if they are known that they are the ones who are in love with them. And if you have seen any sports, some fans resort to violence to protect their teams or do it in their team's name. This raw emotion is hard to understand given that they are not the players on the ground and most of the time has nothing riding on their team success except to give them an ego boost. If you have read some newspaper items, some fans have been killed by other fans and also when the European football league cup games are being played then you should expect violence as rival teams fans sometimes take their emotions out of the stadium and into the streets. Cars are damaged property destroyed or put on fire and sometimes running Street battles erupt between the winning team and the losing team and between the police and the fans. Sometimes the celebration of victory turns into hooliganism as fans in the height of euphoria destroy and set property on fire and sometimes attack the losing team fans too.

World of finance: The complex balancing act of saving-2

Some people save it to buy a house with money going towards down payment and some save it for some awesome vacation with placing a jar somewhere in the house and any change at the end of the day going towards putting it in that jar. And some save because of the unexpected expenses they may encounter while they live in their houses. But only so much you can save as your income gets consumed by all the bills that don’t stop because you are income is lower or you don’t have one since whatever you have consumed, you will definitely get a bill for it, which most of us either don’t realize or don’t care but when they receive the bills they become angry. As like most of the people, I try to save but it is really not that possible when you have debt and so many competing interests that take away your earned income. Every individual and every family faces this balancing act of saving and there are no easy answers. Everybody has to follow their own saving behavior based on how much they are earning and what percentage of that earning if any will be saved and how that saving will be divided among different priorities. It is easy for people who are rich enough that their savings cover every possible need but as your income level goes down, it becomes hard to fund every possible wish list you have and then some wishes remain that way and some gets fund to the minimum or even less than that. And if your income barely covers your expenses, then all this talk about savings from countless financial advisers and other well wishers is useless to you since you are barely keeping up.

World of finance: The complex balancing act of saving

You see that if you are working or have seen your parents work, you will notice that there will always be a discussion about how to save. Usually the saving is done by normal people is when all your combined expenses have been paid the remaining amount left is your discretionary income meaning it is up to you what you want to do with it. You can either spend it on vacations, buying stuff for your house or you can stash away for a rainy day. But here comes the complex, how to divide those savings into places where you will either see your money grow like investing or just putting it away for some other use. It is perplexing issues because there are so many competing interests that can lay claim on those savings that it your head starts to spin widely. I mean where you start allocating your savings to different venues. If you have merger savings then you would either want to save it and put it in the savings account and let it grow (excruciatingly slow almost barely nonexistent) and leave it there until you need it for emergency use and slowly and steadily you build your savings. But since your expenses are usually more than your savings, those savings can disappear fast. But if you have more discretionary income then you have more options to allocate those savings to different things. You can put it towards your retirement account and you can also put it towards your kids’ college funds.

Internet censorship in Turkey and other places-2

I know that internet has been used effectively in highlighting corrupt politicians and the countries they represent and this is why the uncensored web is so much a threat to most of the world. Even some supposedly free countries don’t allow uncensored material to pass through their country's internet services. I thankfully live in a country where the internet most of the time is not censored and that is why you see the major websites located here in the United States as anything and everything you can see on the internet is available without much hue and cry. But that does not mean that I go to sites which I don’t feel interested in. I have even less inclination to visit sites which offend anybody's religious beliefs as you may have see some which preach all kind of hatred that should be known to human kind. But the best thing is the internet has helped people repressed by their respective governments to voice their opinion. This is the beauty of the internet if it is uncensored it can help you educate and to make you a better person or turn someone into a monster. I believe that no country should censor the internet in any way whatever the content is as it is should be the individual responsibility to access what they want to access. But I know that not every human being are created equal and so some may have the tendency to gravitate to the dark or evil side. And as my suggestion is in a very ideal situation most of the people and countries will have to stop some material on the internet from being exploited by unscrupulous people who may want to create anarchy across the society. It is a difficult between censored and uncensored internet and there are no easy answers.

Internet censorship in Turkey and other places

There has been a lot of buzz regarding the some websites being banned in Turkey like Facebook and twitter because the government there not likes what they see about the negative postings about their activities. It has been a lot of roller coaster ride for the internet as websites are being banned and then unbanned by the courts and then they are coerced into silencing their critics. And it is not just Turkey which has been in the news lately. As you know long time ago when the internet was in its infancy, it was not deemed as a threat and was welcomed as it dissipated much needed information for developing and developed countries alike. But as the web (or internet) has developed immensely throughout the years, it has become a potential to disrupt lives of individuals and countries. You know you can post anything on the internet which may or may not be true and then wait for the reaction. It is up to the individual and countries to decide what kind of material they should access or allowed to be accessed. I know it is censorship but it is better to completely ban the entire internet. Okay I am not taking the sides of any repressive governments but there is some sensitivity involved in case of religion or something offensive that can hurt the feelings of majority of the public. But I am favor of unfettered and not regulated internet since who is to judge what is wrong and right for the public to view and read.

Disposal of your deceased loved one's items-2

After a few years I decided to clean up his stuff when I decided to rent my house and after a short reluctance I decided to throw away the sofas and beds in which my parents use to sit and the house where they used to walk was up for rent, but all the clothing and other stuff I brought to my place of residence. I threw the stuff which was not to be used anymore by anyone but I have still kept some of these clothes and other items which I have memory of him. The other day I was shifting through this stuff and found a note written by him, I was so glad I found something with his hand writing. I am still finding I hard after five years to let go of some of the stuff he had or used that I want to keep with me for how long I don’t know. And I believe I am not the only one grappling with this issue as millions of people try to decide a heart wrenching decision of what not to dispose and what to keep of their loved ones. The decisions are not easy as you sometimes involve your spouse and then your siblings in that decision. But here is another issue that if you have a sibling then that sibling may want to keep some of the stuff which you want to dispose off and you want to keep some of the stuff that they may want to dispose off. I mean where to start and deal with this issue. As I am the one with the sentimentality issue and keeping my father's stuff because I have no idea why, this is the thing to ponder which is an issue takes time and I mean years to resolve and sometimes maybe never.

Disposal of your deceased loved one's items

You know this is going to be a touchy subject for any one and I have been in the same boat too. It is hard to lose a loved one at any age since you are so much attached to them but when they die the only thing that remains are their memories and the items they leave behind. I just came up with this topic when I was putting some stuff under the desk of one of my late colleagues desk and I saw his stuff (although it is actually bank's stuff but he use to use it to do his work) and it reminded me of him and I said to myself that it is really hard to use or get rid of so many memories associated with it. Some people even feel uncomfortable using any of the deceased person stuff even after a long time since they are so hurt by the association that the dead person had it with them. You may know where I am heading with this and some may not know. But since my father passed away five years ago, it has been a roller coaster ride for me in terms of what to keep and what not to keep. The first thing to be thrown out was the medicines since it was not needed by anyone and it was already very much expired by the time I started disposing off my father's stuff. For a long time I did not throw out anything else as it was painful for me to let go of the things that my father had used.

China's rise to the top-2

This news came out using the Purchasing power parity (PPP) thing where a thing's cost is compared between countries. And obviously it will cost more in the U.S. than in China since the standard of living is higher in the U.S. than in China. But as I was reading, this news was not headlines in the Chinese media and it was not mentioned much in fact the Chinese disputed the claim and with good reason. As my reading went on I started to understand their reluctance, as mentioned further in that article. It said that they are reluctant because with being No. 1 comes responsibility. They still designate their country as being a developing one and any distinction or labeling them as No. 1 will make them have to contribute more the United Nations dues and programs and also take lead effort in maintaining peace in the world besides making the currency freely convertible and encouraging it to be the alternate reserve currency. Then they will also lose the leadership of the so called third world (developing world). And also the fact that they may become one day No. 1 but the per capita income is still very much lower than the U.S. due to the fact that all the GDP of the Chinese economy has to be spread among its more than 1 billion people as compared to the U.S. 300 million or so people. And people in China despite all the hype have millions of poor people which will take time to alleviate them to the middle class level. For this China has a long way to go from being No. 1 anytime soon as demonstrated above and also the reluctance of the Communist party to celebrate this achievement.

China's rise to the top

As readers among you who have been regulars to read my blog, I have written quite a bit about China, not that it is enough since there are extensive things to be written about. As I have to confess I lived in Hong Kong when I was in my childhood and I still have fond memories of it and is still one of my all time favorite places to visit and live. But at that time, Hong Kong was under British control , and I have never visited China in my life (hope to do that someday GOD willing), but for now I keep on reading articles after articles about the incredible accent of the Chinese Economy and it has been a very interesting ride for them. There have been several articles detailing the rise of Chinese economy and its impact on the world. China's growth rate has been almost double of those of the U.S. and the rest of the world is trying to play catch-up with them for many years. Now this debate has been going on for a long time regarding when and not if the Chinese economy will be No. 1 in the world dethroning the current No. 1, the U.S. And anytime you read it, there is always a conflict between the timing of this. Some say it is already there, some say five years, some say eight years and some even say that it does not matter. But people and economists are especially obsessed by this numbers game. And again recently news came that it will be in five years time much later than what common people were thinking.

Dial 911 for U.S. help-2

But back to my topic, so why the world needs the U.S. helps when you are not loved so much abroad. I mean people will say that we the U.S. are morally bound to help other people in need since we are the world's sole superpower but if we are so morally bound that means that the rest of the world is morally dead. If there is a will, there is a way and if people seems to be outraged over so international issue they should not wait for the U.S. to take charge or take a stand and then the whole world wakes up to that tragedy. Why are we helping the world when all the world has to do is to criticize us for everything that is wrong in this world? The so called other powers should step in whenever they feel that the U.S. is interfering too much in other people's affairs or helping them out of its so called "moral obligation". We should not stop feeling guilty about ourselves and let the world show their outrage and back it up with whatever force or monetary aid they can must to help people in distress. It does not mean that the U.S. should take a step back and wait for things to get worse and other countries to get involved. It means that the other world powers and nations should be more morally outraged and help others before inviting or asking for the U.S. help or support.

Dial 911 for U.S. help

It has now been reported that the U.S. is ready to help Nigeria in rescuing more than 200 girls kidnapped by Islamic extremists. So now the question begs why the world always have to call U.S. for help. You see if you need emergency help in the U.S. you dial 911 on your phone and the help comes right away in the shape of an Ambulance or a Police car but it does come faster. Although a Military help is not out of the question but why does the world always have to wait for the U.S. to take the lead. I can understand that it is a superpower and have the means to intervene aggressively and massively but why are all the other countries keeping quiet on this issue. I have not seen any major power besides the U.S. offering any help or outrage over the kidnapped girls like the Russians or the Chinese who have the means to Mount Massive efforts to help these poor girls. Speaking of help and condemnation, what is going with the so called Muslim world, why are they being silent on this critical issue? Why there is no hue and cry over this and what happened to all the religious leaders who are used to issue Fatwas on minor things are just silent over it. Oh yeah I remember there are more urgent things at hand like making sure that somebody don’t pass themselves as Muslims when they actually are and keeping women confined when they know that there are more women than men and issuing Fatwas against things which creates more confusion than it helps.

The case of abducted school girls in Nigeria

I wrote about a Islamist extremist organization in Nigeria called BOKO Haram (meaning western education is forbidden) and said that if it is not checked in time, will become a bigger menace in the future for Nigeria and Africa and the whole world in general. Although we are not at that point yet but remember that Al-Qaeda also started small before it became such a monster. But this story coming out of Nigeria is truly horrifying as more than 200 girls were abducted from schools in Nigeria and taken away. Initially nobody claimed responsibility and the government response was inadequate to say the least. But recently a video surfaced in which the leader of the group BOKO Haram (BH for short) said that his group has abducted the girls and will sell them in the market as he claimed there is a market for them and invoking the name of GOD in the process. And I just read that more girls have been abducted in Nigeria. So the government there is either not doing enough or can't handle the situation as I read that it has sought the help of the United States in tracking and rescuing these girls. It is pathetic that this thing has to happen and the sad part is that the world and particularly the Nigerian government has not done enough to rescue the girls or even mount an operation of some sorts. I feel for the parents as they are caught in the middle of all this and they are just praying that their girls come home safe. If the Nigerian government is not capable or willing to help the girls let it allow foreign forces to rescue them on their own as no civilized country can allow their girls to be kidnapped and treated like this.

The Polio Menace-2

The religious leaders are of no help either as they just trained to follow blindly have little education and have to pursue their own narrow agenda urge the illiterate followers to oppose the vaccination that they know little about. If the leader of the community who is more supposedly more educated tells his congregation to take a path of destruction then government already weak on all fronts have even less sway over the populace. Although to be fair, the government has been doing its effort to battle this disease but due to precarious security situation in some parts of the country where the polio is at its severest it is facing an uphill battle to convince people to let their kids have the polio vaccination. This warning or restriction on the citizens of Pakistan was a long time coming as they had been told many months and they still were lax about their commitment. Now that Pakistan has been recommended for travel restrictions, now they have started to scramble to do more effort like screening at all exit points out of the country. They could have prevented this in the place by going aggressively after people who were refusing to vaccinate their kids and effectively mounting a campaign involving the religious and tribal leaders to give the government point of view. Why did it have to come to this after the international pressure Pakistan has been forced to act. There are lessons to be learned here for the Pakistani People and Government but will they, by the track record that they have established it is in the negative.

The Polio Menace

The Polio disease has finally reared its head and it is making a comeback again in this world when it was thought that the disease will be eradicated completely. Before it was named that Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan were the prime source of the disease. But now on the recommendation of WHO (World Health Organization of the United Nations), it is now named Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon as the prime source for the disease and urged other countries to require these countries citizens to vaccinate before leaving their respective countries. And the disease is once again spreading rapidly. And the number one culprit on this disease spreading is Pakistan. Although it is somewhat true that the doctor who helped locate Osama Bin Laden (OBL) used fake vaccination campaign to find him and then inform the U.S. of his location but that is still no excuse for refusing to vaccinate your kids. Another reason that is given by parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids is that it is a western conspiracy to sterilize their kids and reduce the population of Muslims, which is at times a laughable thing to believe in the least. I am saying laughable because the population is already exploding and do these people want more kids with the disease or less kids with no disease. On top of these the Taliban has been mounting a campaign to kill the health workers and the security people who are helping them delivering the vaccination in the volatile and violent northern part of the country.

All eyes on Vladimir Putin-2

And Latvia has been fearful since the United States have been reluctant to use force in the case of Syria supposedly using Chemical weapons and then despite warnings to Russia, Crimea became part of Russia without much bloodshed. Americans are right now wary of any thing that can suck them into a war with Russia as they are just coming out of the War in Iraq and Afghanistan and there is not much militarily that the West or NATO can do to Russia that can be deter Russia from invading any of the former Soviet republics. Although sanctions are being placed on Russia in increasingly varying stages but that is all the West can do for now. But sanctions has its own problems as Russia is one of the largest economies in the world with huge gas and oil reserves on which the European Union is somewhat dependent and the West is reluctant yet to impose any sanctions on the Oil and gas sector of Russia. Russia knows that the West would not risk a war with it over some former Russian republics unless the Western Europe is threatened actually. And despite all the war talks everybody is trying to take a step back and trying to negotiate so that situation does not escalate and out of control. But it is now all up to Mr. Putin more than any other leader including the U.S. one to take the next step and diffuse the tension as he has now all the leverage and knows that everybody wants to avoid a direct conflict and he can get some concessions out of the some countries and get away with things victorious. So all eyes are now on him to see what moves he will make next.

All eyes on Vladimir Putin

Since the Invasion/annexation or whatever you want to call it happened in Crimea by the Russian forces on the orders of President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation. Now all eyes have been focused on Mr. Putin as the world holds it breath of what he would do next in Ukraine. On top of this, I read a news story that he does not use cell phone or other modern forms of communications which makes it hard for intelligence people in the West to know what he intends to do next. He has amassed thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border and is not pulling them back and the fighting between pro-Russian forces and the Ukrainian military is going on in the some towns of Ukraine where the separatists want to join the Russian Federation and are not backing down from their belligerent posture. Although there is suspicion that this rebellion is being encouraged or even instigated by Mr. Putin himself but no concrete proof is available for that. And now I was reading the Latvia another small country with huge Russian ethnic population is getting nervous about Russia since the first excuse of Crimea was that Russian speaking people were not getting treated fairly by the Ukrainians and the same excuse can be used in this case also. Although Latvia is supposedly part of NATO and the NATO has pledged their support in case of any Russian aggression but still they are nervous in the sense that Latvia does not think that the NATO would go to war with Russia over them and since they were part of Russia before they believe that Russia would invade them and West would not do anything.

The landslide tragedy in Afghanistan

Recently there have been heavy rains in Afghanistan and a big landslide in of the remote areas buried thousands of poor people. Approximately 500 bodies have been dug out and also more than 2,500 people have been killed in that landslide. It is one of the biggest single tragedies in Afghanistan history in the last ten years. And the international news media has been slow to report this calamity there have been more reports about the missing Malaysian plane that I have seen and read then this epic tragedy where lives have been upended forever and people have lost their brothers, sisters and parents in one go. As I am reading in of the newspapers, there is no electricity and running water in that area and people help each other without much government services in place. Even when the government and some foreign aid is pouring in, people are not hopeful for their loved ones as they say that government people will come say something condolences, take picture and then go their comfortable homes in the capital. Although people are taking upon themselves to dig the dead bodies since the machinery to do this will take time to come due to impassable roads if any but the people are resigned to the fact that they would not be able to find much under the landslide and they have left it to GOD's will that this is what their fate was when they were born. It is a shame but we can only pray for the departed souls and hope that this tragedy will serve as a lesson when something terrible like this strikes again to better get help faster and save some lives.

Sharing and over sharing on Facebook-2

It really becomes very difficult to judge what to share and what not to share on FB, For some people sharing everything becomes the norm and it borders of being annoying if you happen to have them as a friend. There is like a button which I have not used yet, wherein you can have FB trace your location and then post it on the internet so that you know exactly what someone is at what place and doing what with their time. And this I see it on FB where you see your friends and relatives reveal their location and what they are doing all the time. You can find posts of inspirational and educational value which I have no objection to and then some may suggest some websites where you are encouraged to go and see what is so important about them. But what do you share and when it is enough to stop sharing some of the ludicrous recommendations to like something where the absurdity of topics can make you angry I know everybody has their own threshold of what to share and what not to share and I respect that since I am not being forced to like something just because I am looking into it but sometimes it feels like there are some people who are just there to have people follow them everywhere and whatever they do. It is sometimes nice to know what your friends are doing and where they are now but to have you follow them to the point of creepiness is just strange. But as I said there are no clear cut criteria of what to share and when it becomes over sharing. It is up to the individual to decide how they want their lives to be exposed on the internet and the world to see. As it is said "to each their own".

Sharing and over sharing on Facebook

As you know Facebook (FB for short for this article) is a supremely popular social media which has almost 1 billion members (maybe more). You ask anybody and they will say that they have a FB account. Before it was a cool place to hang out among teenagers but now they have their parents and even grandparents setting up account and trying to befriend online. And many of these hundreds of millions of people go on FB every day to check any updates on their friends and relatives and also update their own status to let others know what they are doing. Posting pictures of yourselves and what you are doing are increasing being seen on FB for your family and relatives and friends to see your updates. Interesting things that you might happen not to see it is posted and they are asked to like it or not. Parents and grandparents keep in touch with their college going kids and grandkids by seeing their pictures in the privacy of their homes and they also let them know what they are doing. For a long time, I have been resisting creating an account on it, just because it is too much hassle keeping up with all the updates of yourself and other people and also I had no interest in it to be frank. But after resisting I reluctantly joined and I am okay with it, not too happy not to sad since I keep in touch with my family overseas and also have learn many things on it but there is one feature that I just don’t get it. It is about what to share and what not to share, meaning sharing and over sharing.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Tears in your eyes

Have you ever noticed that if you read an emotional story, watch some movie and just generally witnessed something you are so emotionally overwhelmed by it that tears starts coming into your eyes even if the story or event has not affected you personally? And I have the same thing happening although according to my spouse I am the most insensitive person she has ever know but that is beside the point. I have my sensitive side too but I choose not to show it on times but as human being everybody has their sensitive sides. And sometimes you cannot help yourself because the story maybe so inspiring that very few people would be able to hold on to their tears, I will give you some examples to show when this happens. You read that some small kid is having an operation and the faces they depict are so innocent that you feel like a sympathy wave and emotional overbearing coming over you. Also you see many times that soldiers coming home and surprising their families and other inspirational stories that overwhelms your emotions. In the movies you see people triumphing against all odds, and you know that it is all scripted, but you still can't help but unable to stop tears flowing down your cheeks. And sensitive or not, you will not be able to help your feelings and emotions that you will be exhibiting once your read, hear or see a story. Crying is a very emotional and highly charged attribute of human nature and everybody has it, it all depends upon when and how it is felt by an individual.

Some topics don’t deserve full length essays

Whenever I write about some topic I try to make sure I have enough stored in my head to keep going for a full essay length (usually beyond 250 words) to write about since I love to share my opinions about everything that interests me. But there are some topics which I avoid because they don’t deserve to get the full essay length treatment and it is useless to keep on going for no reason when you can give your opinion across in less than 250 words. There are many stories that I read and they are quite interesting but there comes a time you need to shut up and just have your opinion stated in a few simple words without going into much detail. I love to write and the longer to article the better but I don’t want to bore my readers into ranting on and on when I have already stated my point across. So with this intent in mind, I will start writing short essays on topics which interests me like I write about my opinion on movies which are less than even 100 words so I will put my own twists on things which are to the point and not that lengthy so that you can get a better grip on the topic while not wasting too much time on frivolous details that you may not be interested in. Although my preferred style will be still be the long ones but this will also be something that you should be looking forward to the short essays.

Some topics don’t deserve full length essays

Whenever I write about some topic I try to make sure I have enough stored in my head to keep going for a full essay length (usually beyond 250 words) to write about since I love to share my opinions about everything that interests me. But there are some topics which I avoid because they don’t deserve to get the full essay length treatment and it is useless to keep on going for no reason when you can give your opinion across in less than 250 words. There are many stories that I read and they are quite interesting but there comes a time you need to shut up and just have your opinion stated in a few simple words without going into much detail. I love to write and the longer to article the better but I don’t want to bore my readers into ranting on and on when I have already stated my point across. So with this intent in mind, I will start writing short essays on topics which interests me like I write about my opinion on movies which are less than even 100 words so I will put my own twists on things which are to the point and not that lengthy so that you can get a better grip on the topic while not wasting too much time on frivolous details that you may not be interested in. Although my preferred style will be still be the long ones but this will also be something that you should be looking forward to the short essays.

Some topics don’t deserve full length essays

Whenever I write about some topic I try to make sure I have enough stored in my head to keep going for a full essay length (usually beyond 250 words) to write about since I love to share my opinions about everything that interests me. But there are some topics which I avoid because they don’t deserve to get the full essay length treatment and it is useless to keep on going for no reason when you can give your opinion across in less than 250 words. There are many stories that I read and they are quite interesting but there comes a time you need to shut up and just have your opinion stated in a few simple words without going into much detail. I love to write and the longer to article the better but I don’t want to bore my readers into ranting on and on when I have already stated my point across. So with this intent in mind, I will start writing short essays on topics which interests me like I write about my opinion on movies which are less than even 100 words so I will put my own twists on things which are to the point and not that lengthy so that you can get a better grip on the topic while not wasting too much time on frivolous details that you may not be interested in. Although my preferred style will be still be the long ones but this will also be something that you should be looking forward to the short essays.

Awful lot of rain

A few days ago, my area and work place got drenched in an enormous amount of rainfall that was supposed to be spread over a month but we got it in one day. An estimated 5 inches of rain fell in one day and some areas were under water along with roads and some house basements too. The day the rainfall started was not bad as I reached my office on time and everything went smoothly but on the way back I forgot my umbrella in the office but luckily I was wearing my jacket with a hoodie so I had to keep that on my head and get drenched by the time I reached my car. The way back commute was not bad as it was still raining but people were driving at the normal speed. But the next day I thought since the rain was on its way out with just sprinkles coming down, the driving would be a breeze but I was so wrong. Once I was on the road after a while I listened to the traffic and the road leading to the New York area was flooded and reportedly shut down. Since I did not have any alternate way to go I drove slowly with all the other slow moving traffic. But at one place I was able to take an alternate route soon to find out that it was also flooded and the traffic was being diverted again to the same area that I drive through every day. After fighting through all the traffic and road closure I reached my office a few minutes later than usual.

The presence of foreign fighters in Pakistan

Another news from Nuclear Armed Pakistan, since the government there is negotiating with the local Taliban, the presence of thousands of foreign fighters fighting the U.S., NATO and Pakistani forces have come to the forefront. The Taliban spokesperson said that since they are talking with the Pakistani government for peaceful end to their many years of conflict, foreign fighters who had flocked to the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan feel left out and fear that they will be targeted by the Military if left behind and they are moving out of the sanctuaries in Pakistan to Afghanistan and most of going to Syria to get another training in Jihad conflict. But here my question is who gave them permission to enter the country in the first place? Why with all the noise of not permitting your soil to launch attacks against another country by the country's leaders do these fighters still do it anyway. There is quite a few estimates of how many they are and what nationalities but that is about it as Pakistan does not know exactly how many there are residing illegally in the country and even if they have the estimates the government seems to look the other way and tolerate them to launch attacks on other countries. It just puzzles me that how easy it is for foreign fighters to enter into Pakistan and leave whenever they want and the government is not interested in collecting data on them. Seems like the government is in cohorts with all these fighters for their own benefits and don’t give a damn about what other people or countries think. And nobody in the country really cares about how these fighters are living among them as long as it is not hurting them. It is this indifference that is going to hurt Pakistani people more than other things.

The state of media in Pakistan-3

All this tussle between the media and the military and other sections of society leads us to believe that the media is under siege and the casualty is the truth that does not get reported because of not that the media is afraid to report but it is under constant attack from all sides whether, the Taliban, the military, extortionists, criminal elements or the separatists and the corrupt officials and other people who don’t want to get exposed for their dirty work. If the media does not report on the Military's bad side, they are threatened and if they report on the Taliban's attacks in a negative way, they are threatened with death. Same goes with the extortionists, criminals, separatists and corrupt officials. And when they report something positive about some people, they are accused of being on the payroll of those people who want to implant only good stories about them. And if they do report about negative stuff about some people, then they are accused of being a biased journalists and not trustworthy. So seemingly it may seem that individual journalists and media houses may have considerable influence but that influence is camouflaged and wrapped into playing nice on all sides of the conflict whether between the armed forces or Taliban or criminals and corrupt officials. And in this case since the journalists are also human beings, they tend to self censor themselves as not to getting killed or have their families suffer grief when reporting on dangerous items. Any way you see it or slice it, things look extremely dangerous for journalists and media people in general in Pakistan.

The state of media in Pakistan-2

And although if somebody does wrong, they should be criticized but I believe that after the state religion, the armed forces in Pakistan were the holy cow that was not to be criticized or discussed in a negative manner. I don’t know how true the accusations were since the journalist was covering the missing persons case in the province of Baluchistan and other issues related to the armed forces but the allegations have divided the journalist community there as some are with the injured journalist and some are saying that it is a conspiracy to drag the armed forces in the dirty game of the enemies. But whatever is the case it is true that the journalists are a threat there and Pakistan has been termed as on one of the most violent places for journalists and the freedom of the press and speech, although on the surface seems to there but in fact it is not as self censorship is the mainstay of all the press. But the truth is that it is really very dangerous to report about anything criminal and when it comes to armed forces and the Taliban, the media is stuck in between. And these are just the major players, as the criminals, extortionists and would be Taliban factions along with corrupt government departments and officials can target you anytime and never get caught. You know that freedom of speech and press is only that good if you don’t report anything bad about some department but once you cross that threshold then you are marked for silence and in Pakistan, this is thing is happening with increasing frequency.

The state of media in Pakistan

If you have not that much into international news or don’t care about that much what is happening in other parts of the world, you will not be interested in this little bit of news again from the land of always something happening- Pakistan. A journalist was attacked in Karachi, the biggest city in Pakistan and immediately thereafter he accused the intelligences agencies of orchestrating it to keep him silent. Actually the targeting of the journalist is a regular matter but what set this one apart was the journalist happened to work for the most popular television station and newspaper and had considerable amount of clout among all people. But what rattled a lot of feathers that his accusations that Pakistan Premier intelligence agency under the Military command did it and he did not mince words about it. Usually the Military and the media have a cordial relationship as most of the media refrain from criticizing directly or indirectly the armed forces. But now there are more than two dozen channels churning out news 24 hours a day and any newsworthy item is played constantly on their channels. And still there was muted criticism of the armed forces until the U.S. raided the compound of Osama Bin Laden (OBL) and found him a few miles from that country's Military Academy (no matter what your opinion is about OBL being in Pakistan or not this is what I am reporting here). After the raid on OBL's compound and then the attack on the Military and Naval base, the criticism have started to flow in and suddenly, the armed forces not used to this kind of criticism feel them under siege.

The case of a nine month suspected killer in Pakistan-3

So the case was not dismissed until it embarrassed the government and also the grandfather of the child hid him in another city since it did not trusted the police. If you cannot trust the people who are supposed to protect you then there is no hope for anybody but to protect themselves however they can. And on top of that the lawyers and the judges have also become the laughing stock of the world. Although they should be upholding the law and follow it where did this law came into being in any law of the any country to hold a baby responsible for attempted murder and then finger print it in plain view of the TV cameras and then give it a bail instead of criticizing the whole procedure. And these people are among the highly educated people of society and their behavior has put everybody in that country to shame (not that they care for that anyway). I believe that the whole system of Justice is broken down in Pakistan as people wait for years to take their turn pleading their case and in some cases the litigation goes on for years on end with no end in sight and the petitioners die before their case gets to get heard in court. Along with rampant corruption (of which tales are chronicled every day in the newspapers and on the television in that country) which is pervasive in all departments of the country, the denial, delay or miscarriage of justice and disregard for law is destroying that country from within amid dwindling hope for millions of people which is a sorry state of affairs and I don’t see it improving any time soon.

The case of a nine month suspected killer in Pakistan-2

The story did not end there as the suspended cops recanted their story and said it was not the nine month old but another toddler responsible for the crime. Well after all the hue and cry, the case has gone away and everybody got their sanity checked. But I guess not as another case of Graffiti (also called wall chalking in Pakistan) violation was slapped against a 15 month old baby, although it is will go away very fast as the embarrassment for the government is too much and people have started to make fun of the police and the judiciary system where the baby was finger printed and booked and then bailed out by a person no less than a judge. How much stupidity can you accept in a person who is accusing a nine month old baby of attempted murder and other crimes? And this is the same place where the government has surrendered to the militants and is in talks with them to please spare them of more bombings. It is the fault of the government that they have purposely not invested in education and keeps on hiring illiterate, uneducated and devoid of any logic police and judiciary people who should be better off not hiring. But you know even if they hire educated people then still this will happen because of the rampant corruption going on in every sphere of life and the people are comfortable with it as it has not gone down any less since the reintroduction of the so called semi democracy (my term somewhat) in that country a few years ago.

The case of a nine month suspected killer in Pakistan

If you read a newspaper or on the internet you would notice weird kind of news which seems unbelievable and ridiculous at first but then you say that human stupidity knows no bounds and that is where I am getting to today in this article. I don’t have either the time or the financial means (unless supported by donations) to search for weird news happening around the world which shows the infinite stupidity or just plain incredible weirdness but sometimes I stumble across a news which is hard to resist to analyze and give opinion upon. I found news which has made it the joke of the century that a nine month old boy was booked on the charges of attempted murder, assault and destruction of property along with his family in Pakistan. The case was that people were protesting against the government and apparently a government employee or some person got hit and they filed charges against the baby and his family. And I saw the video of the baby who was crying and holding a bottle of milk in his hand and then I saw the unbelievable when the lawyer was finger printing him and the baby was crying. Then absurdity kept on happening as the judge presiding over the case granted the nine month old baby bail in the case. All this happened in the supposedly Islamic country of Pakistan and when this news hit the international headlines and was ridiculed all over the world at the justice system and police incompetency then the authorities woke up and the Chief Minister of the Province took notice and the case was dismissed and the police officers were suspended.

On the lighter side-Movies-47 Ronin (2013)-Keanu Reeves

A group of samurai band together and get revenge for the dishonor of their leader from a shogun in this extravagant and overblown movie which lost tons of money at the box office. But really it is a good movie if you happen to catch it on the DVD or on the internet. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-The legend of Hercules (2014)

Hercules tries to rescue his love from a forced marriage and also comes to grip with his identity in this average action adventure movie which did not do well at the box office and I did not find it particularly exciting either. Not Recommended