Saturday, December 27, 2008

Coming to America, McDowells, & who we are as a people

There are some places in life that capture our imagination. There are places we see in movies or read about in books that make us wish we could go there.

For some it's the Yellow Brick road from The Wizard of Oz. For fatter people it's The Land of Chocolate from The Simpsons. For the illiterate it's....well...1955 from "Back to The Future."

But all of these pale in comparison to a mythical place that captured the hearts and mind of every kid who believed in America. Yes my friends, I'm talking about the fast food place of McDowell's from "Coming to America" where Eddie Murphy (Prince Hakeem) works as a janitor and meets owner Mr. McDowell's daughter, Lisa.

Now clearly the restaurant isn't a real place, or is it...

Major props go to my brother who upon watching the movie again today and noticed that they mention the McDowell's address, 85-07 Queens Blvd.

So what did he do? He Google Mapped (yes "Google Mapped" is a verb) 85-07 Queens Blvd., Queens, NY 11373 and found what's in its place! ....and it's also a fast food place, Wendy's !!!
I know. This is big.

In this picture he put together you see a picture of the present-day Wendy's restaurant and in the corner, an screenshot of a picture of McDowell's from the movie.

Yes this is groundbreaking stuff.

Forget about trying to figure out the plot of the Mumbai attackers or who's to blame for the present housing crisis. This kind of research should win award. Big awards. Awards given out at large gala events.

Things to do in my life before I die #372 : Eat at this Wendy's

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Kings vs. Blue Jackets @ Columbus

Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio

Kings win 3-0, to give goalie Jonathan Quick (great goalie name) his first win/shutout of the year. The funny moment of the night occurred after the Blue Jackets had a goal disallowed (the second time for them in 3 games). When the verdict was confirmed by replay, the fans chanted "Toronto sucks" in reference to the fact that the league's central replay center is in Toronto.

Smart taunting is funny. Having Boston Celtics fans chant "Beat LA" while still playing the 76ers since it's in their last game prior to the Lakers/Celtics Christmas match-up is one thing, but yelling that a city sucks even with no reference or animosity to the team that plays their (the Leafs) or their players is hilarious.

Sadly for Jackets it was the loudest the fans got all game.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Drinks on a Plane, Part 2: Ordering drinks on a plane

Now that we have established the Taco Bell Postulate, the concept that a limited number of mathematical options can be trumped by the will of humans has been firmly established.

More importantly my ode to Taco Bell shows that not only is possible to an infinite number of permutation from a finite number of ingredients, but we value it.

Taco Bell has more R&D then most recession hit automakers.

And so with that comes the natural issue of ordering drinks on a plane. When the beverage cart rolls around I always feel a sense of one upsmanship on what to order.

When the steward rolls down the aisle there are several dynamics at work. On one hand you're thirsty, that is a given. But on the other hand the other 3 people in your row with whom you're rubbing elbows with (but never speaking to) will have only three points to judge you on during the whole flight.... assuming you don't smell very badly, which clearly will trump the others:
  1. Assuming you're not in the window seat, when they have to use the loo, do you get out of your seat and temporarily stand in the aisle, or do you make them go over you while sitting down?
  2. What clothes are you wearing?
  3. What are you ordering for your drink!
Constructing broad character sketches out of three random items is a tactic used by only two types of people: passengers and Indian people.

But I digress.

Coke is always an easy option. Ordering water is just sheer stupidity because the water is so freaking cold it increases your propensity to pee much more so than other drinks. And we all know my views towards using the lavatory on the plane.

Lately I've started the new trend of getting orange juice. OJ has taste and it is distinguishing. The problem is that it's a total crapshoot. If you're flying on some shoddy airlines like Alitalia or at times Delta (which is like being on a flying bus with its plastic seats minus the ambiance) the OJ may be overly sour. I mean it's not like I expect anything to be freshly squeezed, but this is going to be tooo concentrated. Your only option at this point is to get ice to dilute it. But this will bring us back to the water sitch, where it's too cold.

The winning choice, after years of research and personal trials, the champagne of soda. Yes, the one and only (or as I heard at some random Indian show several years ago "...the one and one-ly...") Ginger Ale.

Ordering Ginger Ale usually causes one of your other row-mates to change their order OR at least nod approvingly. We're not looking for a ticker tape parade with our choice, just an acknowledgment that given a limited set of choices that were available to everyone, you still won.

And after all, isn't it all about winning?

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kings vs. Blues @ Staples Center

Winner winner, chicken dinner, Kings win 6 to 2, behind three 2nd period goals and a hat trick by el Capitan, Dustin Brown.

Staples Center in LA

The best moment of the game (besides the barrage of hats thrown onto the ice after Brownie's hat trick) was with about 3 minutes left and they played opera solo while the King's mascot Bailey was dressed like a fat opera singer.

The fat lady had sung. Classy, super classy.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Drinks on a Plane, Part 1: the Taco Bell postulate

One of the most amazing innovations in recent modern history has been Taco Bell's ability to create a seemingly endless variety of new dishes using only the same 7 ingredients.

Mathematically we can define the number of permutations that cheese, ground beef, tomatoes, lettuce, beans, chicken, and a tortilla can have as:

P(7,7) + P(7,6) + P (7,5) + P(7,4) + P(7,3) + P(7,2) + P(7,1)

Or put verbally, the summation of the number of dishes with 7 ingredient combos plus 6 ingredient combos plus 5 ingredient combos ingredient combos.

And yet Taco Bell has found a way to take this answer of 8,660 (yes that's the real number) and wave a big greasy finger in the air at math by trumping this number by rolling out a new dish every day. Taco Bell is doing things that math can't even contemplate, such as double cheese and meat dishes.


This concludes Part One of a two part series on seemingly long essay with little value.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Things I Hate #126: Plane Tatti

Flying on planes is fun. They make you go in the air.
Going to the bathroom in the proper situation can also be relieving.

But flying and going to the bathroom are not fun. It's a scientific fact. There are three main reason for this:
  1. Not enough maneuvering space in the plane lavatory (which as a small kid I thought was just the word "laboratory" misspelled)
  2. Everyone from rows 8 through 35 knows how long you've been in the bathroom (first class has their own bathroom that we are not supposed to use)
  3. They smell
One of the things I learned from my math class on partial derivatives class was that if you can't solve for all the variables, you control for those you can. And in this case the only one you can control is #3....well partially (insert "chuckle chuckle" here).

The top way to control airplane bathroom smells is to not use them... or at least minimize your usage. So why in the hell do some people insist on using the bathroom right when they board the plane?

Listen, ass, there are perfectly good ones in the terminal, use those. Why would you prefer to use a small one in a flying metal capsule that is going to now haul your tatti around world. Keep it at the airport!

This is a lose-lose situation. It is not Pareto Optimal. It cannot be said that someone is made better without harming anyone else. In fact I would go as far as to say that it's Pareto Sub-Optimal, everyone is made worse by someone making a shitty decision. Literally.

Do I get overly annoyed by minor issues that don't require a 500 word essay? Maybe. But do I speak the truth on behalf of the muted masses? Always.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Emirates Stadium: 1-nil for the Arsenal....

Arsenal vs. Wigan, @ The Emirates (1-0 Arsenal won)

Any team that can get a train station named after them has some clout...

Every good roll of pictures of a beautiful stadium needs the prerequisite shot of me covering up having the stadium to get my face in. What's that "LB" hat I'm wearing?...ah yes keeping it real in London by all the playaz in Caliente Cali from Long Beach...

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Friday, December 5, 2008

52,000 hits

Ah ha! I broke through the 50,000 hit mark over the past (almost) 3 years. Not too shabby. So basically over 1,000 days nearly 50 hits a day. I'm star. It all started out so simple....

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

I miss trans fats

Rest in peace trans fats. Rest in peace.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kenneth Cole is not a philospher

I hate the stupid quotes on the front of Kenneth Cole stores. You know the quotes the ones that say nonsense like "You can change an outfit, you can outfit change, or both" or "Try walking a day in someone else's shoes, but get the right size."

I hate the fact that it's a pathetic attempt to seem edge, trendy, and so witty....except they're not. They're stupid. And, for that matter, has anyone pointed out that a lot of clothes at Kenneth Cole are nonsense and there shoes fall apart.

I'm not saying that I'm so contrarian and hardcore that I don't shop there. But I gotta say, everytime I walk through their doors I feel a little bit of my soul die. Sorta the opposite feeling of walking into a Banana Republic or eating a Pretzel Hot Dog from Wetzel's Pretzels.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

TSA's finest...watching the Trojans/Notre Dame game at LAX

"National security or the USC football, national security or USC football, national security or USC football....'SC football it is."

To be fair they were probably on their break while watching the game last night it's a funny sight nonetheless.

For the record the Trojans won which means even if they weren't on break, it was a good decision to watch the game outside Home Turf Sports Bar, near gate 68A in Terminal 6.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kings vs. Blackhawks @ Staples Center

[Kings 5, 'Hawks 2 @ LA]

Best play of the night? It would have to be when Bailey (the King's lion mascot) took a box of popcorn away from Blackhawks fan, started throwing kernals at another Hawks fan, and when the fan threw them back Bailey took the whole box and dumped it on the kid's head.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

being 7, MacGyver, & garage doors

In the opening sequence of "MacGyver" there is a scene where Richard Dean Anderson is running and then slides under some sorta closing door while escaping bad guys. As a kid this was a striking sight.

Like most smart children I decided to recreate this scene from TV. For all the people who have studies claiming that children are not influenced by TV are dead wrong. TV provides a great template to little kids everyone of fabulous stunts that their imaginations cannot yet devise.

Seeing that 7 year olds are rarely pursued by bad guys I had to improvise. Enter the garage door.

I figured that if I closed the door and then sprinted towards it I could slide underneath just like Macgyver. It all sounded so beautiful in my head.

So with that thought I hit the close button, towards the door, tried to roll/slide underneath when blammo! ....I didn't quite make it through. I was stuck. The door closed on me and I was pinned on my back. MacGyver never got stuck like this...or if he did it was edited out from the final cut. Hmph.

Ordinarily we would've thought that this was it for our hero. But to that I say nay. Let's just say that as a 7 year old I showed a wonderful sense of risk aversion. Before trying my stunt I decided to take the garage door opener from the car and place it near the bottom of the door just in case something went horribly awry. Lo and behold it did.

And so instead of being pinned down and squirming in a garage in Fountain Valley for the ensuing quarter century I survived to write about it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pirates of the So-ma-lians

The economy is in the shitter, the Middle East doesn't seem to be getting safer with the prospects of a nuclear Iran increasing*, Russia is looking to flex its dormant muscles again, and the Tennessee Titans are undefeated. Just when you thought the world couldn't get more scary you have one more thing to add to the list: Pirates

Seemingly everyday for the past 6 months it seems like there has been a new pirate attack off the coast of Somalia. Nono, I shit you not. Just take a look at this:

Deal with that. And the problem is not only getting worse. Yesterday the Indian navy sank a boat and today a band of pirates that attacked an oil tanker is demanding $25mm in order to free the ship.

So alas now in this world that is seemingly in constant flux we can now agree on two things:

1) A Polish firing squad arranged in a circle is not the most logical setup
2) Pirates that do not resemble Johnny Depp are not a good thing.

*please keep quiet neo-realist IR friends on this point

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

Just saw "Slumdog Millionaire" and I can honestly say that it's the best movie I've seen since maybe "The Namesake". The story about a kid from the slums who makes it onto India's version of "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" a moving personal story with pop culture and realistic drama. Plus the A.R. Rahman + M.I.A soundtrack was dope.

Not to mention that for some reason I had this vibe that the story's main star, Dev Patel reminded me of "Superbad's" McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) for some reason. Maybe it's their protruding ears...

...But that's neither here nor there.

The thing which got me is that for the life of me I couldn't understand two little things...

WARNING Slight spoiler alert...

1. When the Hindus destroy the Muslim slum during the Bombay riots, why didn't the Director make any reference to the fact it was a part of the riots. It's a subtle point but otherwise non-desi watchers are left with the viewpoint that the stupid violence happened without any context. I'm not saying the context justifies what happens but it seems that Muslims are just rounded-up and viscisouly killed everyday. At least they could have the boys walk by some newpaper stand which has the headlines showing how outrageous these attacks were

2. During this same scene, the boys are running from the mob and they cross upon a boy painted in blue ala Ram holding an arrow. The significance of this is to show that this is how Jamal knows the answer to the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" question "What does Lord Rama hold in his hand." But the question I have is why was there a boy just sitting in that room in blue to begin with? It's one thing if the boys had spotted a picture of Lord Rama...but to have a kid dressed up like that? I just didn't understand why the boy was in that room.

These are of course two minor little points for a pretty fantastic, moving, terribly disturbing, and uplifting movie. I guess my first question doesn't really have an answer, but the second one I'm sure someone has a view.

For the love of God speak...or the love of Rama anyway.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Anthony Roberson: a $700,000-aire

One of the most stories franchises in all of sport is the New York Knicks. The Knicks haven't won a championship in decades and lately they're a sorry excuse for a basketball team. But one thing they value more than anything is paying lots of money for bad players.

It's a part of a tradition.

The Knicks don't let little details like old age, lack of talent, or bad attitudes get in their way of paying egregious amounts of money to players for long term contracts

It really is a unique art that few teams could match.

Team Roster
21 Wilson Chandler SF 21 6-8 220 DePaul $1,173,480
25 Mardy Collins PG 24 6-6 220 Temple $1,034,760
11 Jamal Crawford SG 28 6-5 200 Michigan $8,640,000
34 Eddy Curry C 25 6-11 285
1 Chris Duhon PG 26 6-1 185 Duke $5,585,000
8 Danilo Gallinari SF 20 6-10 225
13 Jerome James C 32 7-1 285 Florida A&M $6,200,000
20 Jared Jeffries PF 26 6-11 240 Indiana $6,049,400
42 David Lee PF 25 6-9 240 Florida $1,788,033
3 Stephon Marbury PG 31 6-2 205 Georgia Tech $20,840,625
50 Zach Randolph PF 27 6-9 260 Michigan State $14,666,667
23 Quentin Richardson SF 28 6-6 235 DePaul $8,685,500
5 Anthony Roberson SG 25 6-2 180 Florida $797,581
4 Nate Robinson PG 24 5-9 180 Washington $2,020,179
31 Malik Rose PF 33 6-7 255 Drexel $7,647,500

It is the understanding of this propensity of paying inflated prices that makes NY Knick shooting guard Anthony Roberson so incredible. He is the only Knicks player to make less than a million dollars a year. At $797,581 he's a massive $203,419 from the seven-digit promised land.

What is preventing him from a million dollars? Clearly it's not talent, because that's not a prerequisite for any of the other players. Clearly it's not his size, at 6'2" he may be small by NBA standards but he's a full 5 inches taller than 5'9" starting poing guard Nate Robinson

I think if we cannot point the finger at the player we can safely say it needs to be pointed at the his agent, Chris Grier Luchy.

How the hell can Luchy blow this one? The team wants to overpay players. It's what they do, and what they do well. In fact to not allow the Knickerbockers a chance at overpaying a player is almost like an insult to the franchise and the city itself. It's an insult to every New Yorkers who has paid $4.00 for bottled water when a $1.00 Poland Springs sold by a streetside hot dog vendor tastes the same.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

tall buildings

One of the most devious inventions to ever crush social interactions ever is the tall building. Tall buildings have single handedly taken normal human conversations with people you sorta know and bump into in an elevator, and turned them into nightmares. In the olden days, buildings were shorter. Thus, elevator rides were only a couple of floors, tops. So you'd never be in one for longer than 15-20 seconds. This was enough to ask the usual questions
  • "How are you?"
  • "Man, the weather is sooo [insert adjective]"
  • "How was your weekend?...yeah I know it's Wednesday....but I just love hearing about your past weekends"
Now buildings are much taller, they make frequent stops on like every floor, and you're stuck in them for like a minute or two. A minute as we all know, feels like an eternity. How do you talk with random people for that long? Now the conversation includes things you just make up on the fly...
  • "How are you?"
  • "How's your mom doing?"
  • "So, what do you think of Security Council status of Turkey? Woo!"
  • "I would've never guessed that it's not butter!"
One of the most stressful things of work now is the elevator rides. Who would've thunk that transportation could be so socially challenging.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Seasonal Depression, Michael Phelps, & M*A*S*H

People often come up to me and say "Shakes, I like the way you smell." But that's neither here nor there.

Right now you like millions of other Americans are suffering. Suffering alone. Suffering together. Suffering without understanding why. Suffering without even realizing that you are suffering.

But the symptoms are all familiar. Over the past week you've been coming home after work/school/yoga and just felt...empty. Ladies and gentlemen it's okay. I understand. It's okay to cry.

You are suffering from Post-US Open-Summer Olympics-DNC-Hurricane Gustav-RNC-General Election-Election of Obama Withdrawal. Syndrome Or more commonly known as P.U.S.O.O.D.H.G.R.G.E.E.O.E.W.S.

You see all summer you've had something to come home to at night to capture your imagination and to wrap you up emotionally and now you have nothing to watch.

The summer started with the US Open, which always causes long nights, especially on the East Coast. This led right into the Summer Olympics when I actually understood every type of swimming stroke. Staying up to watch Michael Phelps just qualify for a final was awe inspiring.

The Olympics quickly gave way to the Democratic National Convention that culminated with The Dark Knight's outdoor speech in Denver. The Republican National Convention shortly followed with a small blip for Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Depression Sarah Palin.

After the sprint to November 4th history was made and when all was said and done.... there's nothing until January 20th.

And so here we are. Just sitting and watching TV aimlessly. Sure there's football and hockey and basketball and even Dancing With The Stars. But it's not quite the same. Everything sorta feels like you're watching M*A*S*H. Oh sure it's a good show and you'll watch the whole episode if it's on TV, but no one turns the TV on with the explicit goal of watching M*A*S*H.

It's ok. We'll make it through this. Yes we can.

Yes we can.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What would a Desi do?: Union Oyster House

Okay this is the scene: You're Indian and you are at the Union Oyster House on a weekend trip to Boston. It's the oldest restaurant in America, founded in 1826.

Over 182 years of history, but I digress. You sit down at a your table and you spot a bowl of crackers at the table. What is the first thought in the mind of a desi?

A) You only take the crackers that you need and leave the rest.

B) You don't find anything odd on this occasion and continue on your merry life.

C) You think about taking all the crackers.

The answer is C.

Without hesitation. Without wondering when you will need to eat them or if you even life crackers. It's free and therefore you take it. You must take it. It's your obligation. It's your duty.

That my friends is what a desi would do.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Boston Garden: Bruins vs. Sabres

[Saturday night: Bruins 3, Sabres 1]

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Carmelo Anthony's' tribute to Woodrow Wilson

Last night before the Denver/Golden State basketball game, Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony stated that he wanted to score 44 points as a tribute to Barack Obama being the 44nd President.

Well upon waking up this morning I couldn't help but notice that not only did the Nuggets lose 101-110, but 'Melo only had 28 points. Now 28 points is nothing to sneeze at, it's a great total but 16 points short of his goal

So unwittingly Carmelo embarked on doing something in honor of The Big O, and instead gave a stunning tribute to Woodrow Wilson our 28th president.

We salute you Woodrow. We salute you. And in the words of Carmelo, Stop Snitching.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

do you believe in miracles?

And so it has happened. Who would've thunk?

When I think about my life so far, all 30 years of it, watching the victory speech last night will definitely be one of them. The other three you ask? Here we go:

1) Challenger disaster - I remember sitting in class in elementary school (Plavan, in Fountain Valley) and the principal made the announcement over the intercom

2) 9/11 - I was in NY, enough said.

3) World Cup 2006, US vs. Italy - There is nothing like hearing our national anthem on foreign soil in Germany

4) Yesterday

Monday, November 3, 2008

'Twas the Night Before the Election

Twas the night before the Election, when all through the land
Every voter was stirring, even those registered with ACORN's hand
The candidates had spoken, all their ads had been aired
Even the stupid ones, that kept bringing up Bill Ayers

Two years ago more than a dozen candidates had started
We're left with the black one and the old guy who can't tell if he farted
Now the VP's are interesting, Biden's comments are a hoot
But Palin I think, has a brain full of fruit

Most of the focus has been on the battleground states
They're campaigning there every where, every place, every date
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Virginia too
Hopefully they can turn a few of them blue

We've seen McCain act more than once a bit erratic
Whether it's his VP pick, his debate style, or suspension dramatics
Obama on the other hand started charismatic, fiery, and leaner
He's now shown himself to have a calm, cool demeanor

Tomorrow, no matter what happens, history will be written
Whether it's our first black President or a second-in-command vixen
So when you sleep tonight think hard and think clear
Who do I want, a smart man or being one heartbeat from fear?

Now I know my poem has been a little bit biased
My pick for President is a person I think of the highest
Whether you root for McCain or Obama like me
The key is to to vote or you someone shall pee.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008


So I was at work with TV's tuned as always to CNBC on the floor, when I swear to God they played the following video going into a break.

Now I can't get this out of my head. And you know what, I'm not sure I ever want to have it not be in my head. It just makes me head.

It's peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat. Now some of you may be wondering, why is a pixelated banana chanting that it's peanut butter and jelly time? I mean there are many things/people that can be happy about that, but why a banana. Well I'll answer your question by asking you another question: Are you so racist as to think that a banana can't want pb&j?

Friday, October 31, 2008

This has been a long long year. Sometimes a year passes, you wake up on New Years and you say "Man I can't believe 1997 is already over! I can't believe Boris Yeltsin is no longer in power, I never saw that one coming!" But this year has felt like a year. Even the past 10 months has felt like a year. I'm going to wake up on New Years Day and be like "Man, 2008, now that was some decade."

And while I can though wallowing in my own pains, struggles, yadda yadda yadda on a Friday night you get texts like these......and with that nothing else seems important. It's one of those things where sometimes we forget that others would feel priveleged to have our problems. And even if you question that, at least you've got your health.

The part I've left out thus far is that when I saw the text pop up on my phone I first thought it was from a family member and watched my heart dropped thinking it was in reference to an uncle. When I realized that it wasn't I became slightly relieved. And having that moment of relief makes me feel even more terrible for my friend.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Major Tom

In my spare time I scroll through the science and technology pages and focus on astronaut ailments. It's my pride. It's my joy.

One of the more poignant things I've read was on astronaut depression. If you think you're lonely down here, imagine being stuck in space. Then you really have problems. The article didn't mean to be funny or quirky but it reflected a couple of images that one just couldn't help but see as being sorta goofy

Most of the ailment revolved around people who are placed in close quarters with other, in high stress, away from other people for long periods of time.
"In 1985, a mission on Russia's Salyut 7 space station was scrapped after colleagues noticed the commander seemed uninterested in the work and spent hours looking out portholes. Three years earlier, a mission on the same space station was hampered by tension between two astronauts."

How tragic. Here you probably have one of the most highly trained elite people in Russia and the poor guy just ended up zoning out and looking out the window all the time. The matter gets even more bleak when you see here this sad cry for help from former cosmonaut Valentin Lebedev who wrote in his diary "We don't understand what's going on with us. silently walk by each other, feeling offended."

Being an astronaut sounds like a mix between going to a Nirvana concert in 1991 and working in a cubicle.

Sometimes I feel like an astronaut. But the one thing I have going for me is that my I don't have any additional physical tortures on me. The article noted that "Space and weightlessness can affect mood by playing havoc with natural body rhythms and sleep. On the international space station, for instance, the normal day-night cues are disrupted as sunrises and sunsets come every 45 minutes."

I get slightly depressed in the mornings. But I can handle that once every...oh I don't know...24 hours. Can you imagine going through that 32 times a day?

....32 X 45min =24hours , for those of you keeping score at home...

That would be a total mind, body, and soul fuck.

Oh and if you don't know why I wrote "Major Tom at the top, look at this. And if you don't know why I chose the picture at the top, it's U2's "Zooropa boy" drawn to emulate Russian cosmonauts who were sadly stuck in space for longer and longer space missions. The picture seemed rather apropos.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Greenspan groupies

So Sir Greenspan was on Capitol Hill testifying about the roots of the current financial crisis for the better part of 4 hours today.

While this was news breaking in it of itself, the real dramatic story was the story behind the story....

As I was glancing to the TV screens from the floor at work something caught my eye. A certain something something.

It was like Jabba the Hutt, except real life.

Next to Greenspan, on the left, was a weird woman wearing white. It was just bizarro. It was like being drawn towards a car wreck

I think it was a Greenspan groupie.

Who was she? What person wear a bright white coat to a Senate hearing? Moreover why doesn't she have a neck?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bloomberg fun

In case you haven't notice the stock market has been in the shitter lately. By "lately" I mean everyday. Everyday it's been in the red. This is bad.

So in such extreme situations, sometimes you have to do anything to keep your sanity, and usually that means some sorta joke. There are few things in life that are more consistently funnier than joking with the help desk at the Bloomberg data service.

Looking at videos of monkeys is a close second.

Bloomberg (yes named after our Mayor, how do you think he made his fortune?) is the market information source of choice and they pride themselves on having great customer service. The only problem is that sometimes they're not the sharpest tools in the shed and can't quite tell when you're joking

So after seeing the market nosedive again on Wednesday I thought I'd have a little fun using the Help Desk chat feature:

ME: Hi there
BLOOMBERG: ***Thank you for using Bloomberg Help! We have received your question and a live representative will be with you momentarily
BLOOMBERG: Hello how are you?
ME: Hi, I think my Bloomberg market screens are broken.
ME: They are not working right I fear
BLOOMBERG: Hello, can you confirm which screens you are referring to?
ME: The World Equity Indicators, for example the "USSW" screen
BLOOMBERG: What happens when you go to it?
ME: Well everything is always red
ME: Everyday.
ME: I don't think the green font is working.
ME: The Dow is always negative and in the red.
BLOOMBERG: Well there's not any green font on here...
ME: Same with S&P. And every other stock index....
ME: They're always down
ME: and red.
ME: Help me.
BLOOMBERG: ok I will need to long in as you to replicate
ME: uhhh
BLOOMBERG: I am going to try to fix the colors so it's not red
ME: Um, you see it's red because they're negative...
BLOOMBERG: Yes so let me see what your settings are
ME: It's ok....thank you
ME: It's all good. Good night.
BLOOMBERG: ok then! Is there anything else I can help you with?
ME: No. You've done more than enough

Saturday, October 18, 2008

are we Dancer?, the Killers, Hunter S. Thompson, & Ziggy

Every generation or so is challenged by a question, a question that is rhetorical in nature but still we struggle to answer.

What exactly were Americans supposed to do differently in their lives when FDR said the only thing to fear is fear itself?

What about Rodney King's simple pleading of "Can't we all just get along?"

Well our generation finally has a calling. Our generation finally has a question that I must answer to. And that question comes, like all good questions do, from...uhh....Las Vegas.

The question in question?.... Are we human or are we dancer? The Killers new song "Human" which sounds like it's straight out of the '80s - the good parts - has a main chorus that crescendos with Brandon Flowers asking "Are we human or are we dancer?"

Haven't we all asked ourselves that question at some point in our lives? But I digress, the real question is what the hell is he talking about?
Close your eyes, clear your heart
Cut the cord
Are we human are we dancer?
My sign is vital, my hands are cold and I'm on my knees looking for the answer
Are we human or are we dancer?
Last time I checked in the Ven diagrams of life, being a dancer and a human were not mutually exclusive events. .

Now through a little bit of research I can ascertain that the line itself is a reference to quote from Hunter S. Thompson who said that America was raising a generation of dancers. Thompson, who died in 2005, was a writer who amongst other things was known for promoting the use of tripped out drugs. Hence it should be no surprise that he wrote "Fear and Loating in Las Vegas"which later became a film.

Thompson's other famed quote was s "Objective journalism is one of the main reasons that American politics has been allowed to be corrupt for so long." It sounds odd but think about it for a second. another second... Anyone who's followed the election this year can appreciate this. Objectivity implies that both sides of a debate require equal time. The problem with this is that it doesn't enable anyone to filter out the crap. In other words, at some point it's okay to say that a claim that a Political Party is making is wrong. For example every discussion on global warming doesn't need to include some random scientist who it even exists in order for the report to be "objective"....

Just because someone has a different view doesn't mean they're right.
Anyone who has parents knows this.

But back to the LSD fiend Hunter, I'm sure the next obvious question is "what exactly is so disparaging about saying America was raising a generation of dancers?"

Well I mean that's just obvious, no? I mean really. It would just be insulting if I had to even explain that. Sorta like reading Ziggy.

I have no idea what any Ziggy cartoon strip means, but that's not really the point is it? It looks cute, and that's what counts.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

bathroom explosion

One of the strangest and most pressing fields of human research that has been neglected is the issue of trying to hold going to the bathroom while you're making your way home. For some reason there can be large stretches of a car, train, or walking in which you don't have any trouble holding everything together....

...but why is it that when you get close to your door all internal bodily controls go haywire? Like maybe it's the warmth of a home or the anticipation but like I find that I barely make it to the bathroom...even after holding it for like 30 minutes....even if that includes walking up and down stairs. Go figure. Me not know why.

Monday, October 13, 2008

2 cents

At some point if you're still an undecided voter, with only 3 weeks left and the longest primary season in memory, does that just make you an indecisive idiot?

I mean when you go out to eat and order a Coke and the waitress says "We just have Pepsi" do you still pause and think about it?

If you goto Target and you see that Colgate toothpaste isn't available, do you seriously consider the consequences for the next 4 hours?

I'm not saying that the voting choice is between two people who are similar, that in fact underlines my point. They're not similar....what are people still waiting to hear? If you seriously are looking at debates to sway your opinion and understand policy, then you are seriously mistaken.

You should look at their websites or something to get policy plans....use the debates to look at their body language not 5 point plans.

Ok? Ok. Good.

At some point you either shit or get off the pot.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

note to Palin: Don't go to a Flyers game

They've booed Santa. They've booed little children. Why did they think Governor Palin think her treatment by Philadelphia fan would be any different?

[Rangers vs. Flyers, Oct 11th]

Even Rangers Alternate Captain Scott Gomez, a native of Alaska, looks to be having a hard time holding in his smile. Even when they cranked the weird music up, it couldn't drown out the chorus of boos. The music sounds like something I've heard in the IMAX theatre at Disneyland (the 360 degree CircleVision thingy) when they show camera shot from a helicopter zooming over the Grand Canyon.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Johnny Desi

One of the ways I demonstrate that I'm a mature young adult is that I take pictures of weird people at restaurants.

It is with this view that I caught a hold of this gem. Ladies, eat your hearts out, and guys....I guess you can do the same. It's ....drum roll....Johnny Desi.

The father of one, and husband to one red woman, Johnny Desi showed his true player self in Edison with the white jacked, and popped inner collar. It's a good look for those approaching their 40s

Also don't forget the other key ingredient in any high flying wardrobe, the white shoes

At this point many of you are probably thinking the same thing, "Shakes, what the hell is your problem?" Well let me answer your question with another one:

Do you think the Spanish were angry at Columbus for finding the New World?

Did Darwin hunt the turles on the Galapagos just to get his desired findings?

I rest my case

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Things I'll Give You A Dollar For: #1

Many years ago in a former life I used to write a running a list weird things that I'd request people to do, and if they did I'd give them a dollar. That's why it was called "Things I'll Give You A Dollar For." It's pretty straightforward really....even if the list name ends in a prepositional phrase ("...For"), a grammatical no-no.

Be that as it may I figured after a little bit of encouragement that I'll end my 2 year hiatus and resume the list, here goes:

Things I'll Give You A Dollar For: #1
  1. Giving me a dollar
  2. Most stocks on the NYSE
  3. Caveatting a comment stating person's ethnicity and then stating something completely insignificant (e.g. "You Chinese and all, I guess we should cross the street" OR "For a Korean you really like hot dogs")
  4. Drop kicking one of those stupid small dogs you see people on the Upper East Side carry
  5. Finding Sisqo
  6. Leading school kids astray.
  7. Going to the L.E.S and pointing at kids saying "Man! I really like your Pumas and your cool expensive but cheap looking t-shirt...You're so counter culture!" Repeat 75 times.
  8. Gum.
  9. Wearing a McCain shirt through Union Square
  10. Asking a cab driver to please follow the Taxi Rider's Bill of Rights printed in the back seat and not talk on the phone or be excessively disturbing.
And there you have it. See, don't you think you're a better person because of this

Sunday, October 5, 2008

sometimes...'s good to take pictures of mean people who are playing Mr. Mister very loudly in their car. Especially if it's obvious to the guy that you're taking a picture of him.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

thought of the day

Why does it take more interviews to be considered for an analyst job in New York than it does to be nominated for Vice President of the United States of America?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

i'm not smart enough for sunglass stores anymore

I like to consider myself as being sorta bright. I can count up to double digits with the best of them. Confidently, may I add. But one thing I don't think I'm good at anymore is sunglass stores.

I used to be good at them, but not anymore. I used to be able to separate the men's section from the women's section, but now everything looks the same. Women wear aviator glasses and guys wear glasses that look like something Jackie O would wear.

As a result whever I walk into Sunglass Hut (which by virtue of living in New Jersey and being an avid fan of Mall Culture, means every other weekend) I just stumble around aimlessly hoping to see a sign that says "Men's". I've never seen one yet. Instead I go towards something which I know is definitely male eyewear, Oakley, and try to guesstimate around there.

It's not easy being me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

this is what the phrase "oh fucking shit here we go again" looks like in a numeric schematic

Yeah when everything is red in the "Net Change" column that don't feel so good. today's massively vomitous Dow drop of -778 points is the worst of all time. While all point drops are relative, and the market has dropped more than today's epic -6.98%, it's not exactly much of a silver lining....afterall the S&P drop of -8.79% is the worst since Black Monday in 1987.

This is what it looks like when people in DC dick around and shmucks think that a Fed rescue package is just being done to bail out Wall Street. I'm sorry, but worrying about executive compensation is missing the much bigger picture. If normal people can't get loans, can't safely invest their money, and generally aren't able to work for companies that can, that's a bad thing for everyone.

When Christmas time comes and you see stores having massive shortages, you'll know the reason why: Companies are not able to borrow money now to pay for goods that they can sell later; if you can only afford to pay for things that you can sell right away then you will never be able to build up supplies.

You think I'm pissed? Yeah I'm pissed. I just used a fucking semi-colon in that last sentence without you guys even noticing it. That's how I pissed I am.

I'm 97% sure that it wasn't even the appropriate usage of one, I was just trying to prevent a run-on sentence that Mrs. Wesley in 6th grade used to warn me about. Suck on that Mrs. Wesley. Suck on that.

Now the dipfucks will mess around for at least 3 days doing nothing....until at some point they provide a bill which is less effective.

Finally who is the assclown that thinks a $700bn bill means that it's going to cost Americans $700bn? Idiots. The money is being used to buy physical assets. Unless the value of every single home they purchase falls to zero, there's no way they're going to come close to a cost of that amount. Meanwhile we have fucktard Congressmen who ask "well Secretary Paulson, how much will this cost?" Well here's a newsflash Einstein, the cost or profit is simply going to be the difference between where we bought the assets and where we ultimately sell them. If you don't know when you're gonna sell them you can't ever know what the cost is. But what you CAN know is that if we're buying shit at firesale prices, at times below the cost of the raw materials to make a house, it's a pretty good sign that there's only upside to be had.

And why can't private companies do this?....Because they have to report these assets on their balance sheet every quarter. Quite simply they can't afford to just have these assets sit their for 2-3 years while their value rises. Governments don't have to worry about that. Besides, companies that do have these assets are being destroyed by the stock market for no good reason. The numbers simply don't make sense, and yet anyone with a hint of even a little bit of exposure is watching their stock price tank in the double digits.

The government isn't going to buy all the loans, but they're going to buy some to start creating a pricing floor. Once a real functioning market is nurtered private money can come off the sidelines. That's the key. Otherwise in the meantime you have bids on property at like 10 cents on the dollar....not because someone has done a bunch of analysis and ascertained that the true value of a foreclosesd home in Ohio is 11 cents on the dollar and they're going to make a 1 cent profit....but rather because there is no other buyer. If you have no competition and you're bidding on something you're gonna bid a pretty low price.

Haven't you watched "The Price Is Right" before? Some moron from New Mexico wins half of the bids from Contestant's Row because they put in a bid of $1. It's not because they really think that the Espresso Maker that Barker's beauties just modeled is really worth a buck. Look I don't like blank checks to any Federal agency, but doing nothing would be criminal.

The Nikkei is down 4.64% in Asian trading and Dow Futures (basically a contract where people can take views on where they think our market will open up at tomorrow morning) are flat. Global badness.

deep breath. deep breath.

There, I'm done. Only 8 more hours until I'm back at work.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Signs you're eating with desis: #14

One of the time honored traditions of any good Indian parental unit, namely the mom, is to reduce every meal you have at a restaurant as being some derivative of a basic Indian dish.

In essence this is the food version of the Indian mom tendency of pointing out that all the cool clothes in the mall are really made in India and instead of buying it now "we can just get it next time we go to Bombay." Uhh, no offense but Cotton World and Armani have very little in common.

But back to my original point, every time you eat a new dish, you parents try to convince that it's just an Asian, Thai, American, or French version of something that can be made at home. For example:
  • Shephard's Pie - alloo and kheema
  • Pizza - dosa with tomato, kheema, and capsicum (we do NOT say bell peppers in front of Indians...ever!)
  • Cheesecake - a form of paneer
  • Hakka noodles - hakka noodles...don't you know that Indian Chinese cuisine is better than regular Chinese food?
  • Crepes - masala dosa
The purpose of finding the Indian roots in things which have no Indian lineage whatsoever is to make you feel like Indian things are cool and not so weird from things kids would normally like.

Of course this never seems to work because instead of enjoying Indian things on their own merit, you end up not liking it as much because it's Pizza really isn't like a dosa...and Cheesecake is, well, a bit better than paneer (okay, not by much, but work with me here).

That irony is that things which are far better than their American counterparts are products no normal parent would rightfully brag about: Thums Up is awesome versus Coke... although I have no idea how they could misspell "Thumb"... and Goldspot was better than any orange soda around these parts.

It's sorta like my Big Fat Greek Wedding, when the father yells out that everything "Is Greek!". So next time you're a restaurant, in Jackson Heights, or just in the state of New Jersey, yell out "that's Indian!" and you're bound to create a cult following with Indian aunties.

Friday, September 26, 2008

what the I stutter?

Ladies and gentlemen, the potential VP of the US of A.

By the way, Katie Couric, you rock. Her calm questioning demeanor doesn't hide the fact that she's about 1000x times smarter than Palin. Palin for her part sounds like every stuttering kid I ran into in high school during speech and debate and MUN who didn't research enough.

Is this all just a very very bad dream?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

politics, the US Open, & jacked up hair

...and we're back. Sorry for the break, but I couldn't help but vomit uncontrollably during this whole Fed-bailout-Dem vs. Republican-John McCain acting like he's saving the day- shenanigans. The whole thing is becoming borderline pathetic.

But be that as it may, here's an observation I had from a few weeks ago.... So I was at the US Open and while sitting in the hot sun I noticed the haircut of the guy in front of me. How jacked up is the tapering job on the back of his head!

I mean not to be mean or anything but allow me to accentuate how fucked up the back is with a closeup. I'm sorry dude but if you're gonna come to the biggest tennis tournament and wear your little wanker Ferrari hat, you better come with a little bit of a better hair situation.

I know this is a few weeks late but it had to be shown.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

weather markets: part 3

There is a god. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. Or it could just be someone else looking in.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

weather markets: part 2

While things were tremendously busy workwise, the feeling today was akin to taking a concrete block, ramming your head into it, and then trying to walk backwards across a street. Good times all around.

And yes I back-dated this post because by time I got home it was already tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

reaching out to readers

Dear loyal reader(s), I got a note from someone named Anonymous (last name not given) yesterday that my market snapshot from yesterday did NOT enable normal people to understand what the hell was going on that constituted a "bloodbath"

As such I would like to partake in an effort to be more lucid in my discussions with you, the voting reader. Here's a good visual depiction of Monday's activites, in a weather-like iconic picture

Monday, September 15, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Tatti Booooy," CNBC, & the moon

This post is dedicated to all those people who have sang Air's "Sexy Boy" and replaced the words with "Tattiiii Boooooy"

So when I was small and used to go to trips to India... for the brown peeps out there you know what I'm talking about, the kind where you spend the full 3 months of your summer break there....and get homesick I'd look at the moon on some nights and think that that's the same moon that my mom and dad were looking at.

This would make me feel at home. Almost re-assuring to be sharing a mutual experience

Now today I find myself at home (friend's wedding) in LA but up at the crack of dawn watching CNBC and taking some work calls. It made me think that people back at work were also watching CNBC on the floor. Does that mean CNBC has sorta become my moon? Is this a beautiful connection to symbolize that I'm not at work but I'm with my work people. Spiritually, that is.

Or maybe it means that I'm a weebit jet lagged and operating on 3hrs of sleep since I stayed up last night eating In-N-Out and watching TV.

I would take the latter for $500, Alex.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

it's today again.

and the airport was a bit quieter as a I flew home to LA from NY today

Sunday, September 7, 2008

when desis attack 4: "how can she slap!?!"

A lot of you are sitting at home on a Saturday night wondering "man I wonder what it looks like when an Indian guy slaps a girl on a reality TV show and then gets the shit beaten out of him."

This is a weird thought, I must admit, but do not fear, I have just the thing for you:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"if the rain comes they run and hide their heads...."

Tropical storm Hannah has caused it to rain massively here in New York. The weekend is gonna be a total washout.

[Central Park West, NYC]

If the rain comes they run and hide their heads.

They might as well be dead,
If the rain comes, if the rain comes.

When the sun shines they slip into the shade,
And sip their lemonade,
When the sun shines, when the sun shines.

Ra-ain, I don't mind,
Shi-ine, the weather's fine.

I can show you that when it starts to rain,
(when the rain comes down)
Everything's the same,
(when the rain comes down)
I can show you, I can show you.

Ra-ain, I don't mind,
Shi-ine, the weather's fine.

Can you hear me that when it rains and shines,
(when it rains and shines)
It's just a state of mind,
(when it rains and shines)
Can you hear me, can you hear me

If the rain comes they run and hide their heads
When the sun shines - rai-ain.

- "Rain" by The Beatles

But if you want a great cover of it, I know I'm biased, you can't beat U2...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Hi, I'm Mitt Romney and I got Punk'd by McCain into thinking that I actually had a shot at being named VP"

My favorite part of his speech was when he blamed liberals for ballooning the US Public Debt. Let's go to the facts shall we!

End of
Fiscal Year
US Public Debt
USD billions[19]
% of GDP[21]
1910 2.6
1920 25.9
1930 16.2
1940 43.0 44.2
1950 257.4 80.2
1960 290.2 45.7
1970 389.2 28.0
1980 930.2 26.1
1990 3233 42.0
2000 5674 35.1
2005 7933 37.4
2007 9008 36.8

So let's examine life since 1980. A large portion of that was under Reagan where the debt rose from $930.2bn to $3,233bn. I'm not saying it was good or bad, I'm just saying that's the fact. We can have discussions on the need for defense spending and the role that played in ending the Cold War but again, facts are the fact.

Meanwhile let's goto 2000, Bush II takes control and the debt balloons from $5,674bn to $9,008bn.

Now we don't need to back out the effect of inflation to see that a large amount of our deficit was done amidst the control of those who generated fear of external threats...

thoughts while flying over the Carolinas

So McCain made the statement that he is not willing to lose a war for the sake of winning an does he reconcile this with his VP pick? She may be a great person and leader, but me a break, we all know why she was chosen.

I'm not saying she should be disqualified because she's not the greatest Republican leader, that's an unfair litmus test, but this moves has all the makings of a Hail Mary being done just to win an election instead of placing the country in the right hands should they need to run the show.


By the way isn't the picture cool. It's a picture of a propeller blade which gets captured quite oddly on a camera

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

if Bush endorses you, is that a good thing?

So you're a kid who sucks. Like everyone hates you. A lot. In fact you have the worst approval rating of any sitting President since the Depression...err...there are lots of polls that people don't like this kid. Now how valuable is it for this kid to give you a ringing endorsement?

I would argue that Bush giving his two thumbs up to McCain is not exactly like Abraham Lincoln tapping you on the shoulder saying you're fit for the job.

During all the recent talk about executive experience, President Bush has the most amount in terms of years but I would say he's the least qualified.


Also during Bush's most bizarro televised speech what was the deal with people taking pictures of the big screen? The moment I saw flashes I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. I mean do you sit in your living room and take pictures everytime Bush appears? (this picture taken for el bloggo withstanding... I do that for you)