Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Old age woes-2

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

Old age woes

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

Governments relying on Gambling-2

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

Governments relying on Gambling

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

Saturday, December 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

Too much North Korea

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

The latest hacks on computers

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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Rain and umbrella-2

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

Rain and umbrella

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

Looking for parking-6

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

Looking for parking-5

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

Looking for parking-4

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

Looking for parking-3

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

Looking for parking-2

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

Looking for parking

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Drunk driving menace

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

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

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

Massacre in Pakistan-3

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

Massacre in Pakistan-2

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

Massacre in Pakistan

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

Terror in Australia

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Unisex toilets

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

Phone as your best friend-2

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

Phone as your best friend

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

What really is a grocery store?

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

The postal service of the United States

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 8, 2014

Where does our school tax go?

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

Assembling things

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

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gun Safety issues-2

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

Gun Safety issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Your words can kill-2

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

Your words can kill

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

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Walking your way to health

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

The mosque bombing in Nigeria

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