Ready For The Quarter-Finals?

Well that was an eventful & interesting group stage & round of 16. England goes out in the pre-quarters, losing a controversial match 1-4 to Germany. The Asian challengers South Korea and Japan also bow out losing to Uruguay & Paraguay respectively. The US faced the lone African team left and lost; Ghana is the cinderella team of this World Cup.

So here are the quarter-final lineups and the two matches setup in the middle look very appetizing –¬† Netherlands vs Brazil and Germany vs Argentina. Everyone says that it’s the Argentines tournament to lose, they having been the most impressive side so far. For established nations they have Brazil, Germany & Holland in the offing but don’t count out the South American teams of Uruguay and Paraguay just yet. And can Ghana spring more surprises and proceed to the final and possible win the finals? Who will triumph in the end?

They Also Do Make Music!

Here’s what some rockers have been upto.

  • Motley Crue singer Vince Neil has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and was being held in a Las Vegas jail, police said Monday. The 49 year old rocker was expected to appear in court on Monday. The arrest comes just a week after Neil released his latest album — “Tattoos and Tequila” — featuring cover versions of classic rock songs.
  • Singer Glenn Danzig is facing a lawsuit for allegedly “recklessly” crashing into another car in January. The Misfits rocker reportedly drove into the rear end of another vehicle, which was driven by Guy Wilson, who claims he has endured “pain and suffering” and “emotional distress” since the alleged incident.
  • Ozzy Osbourne has revealed he parted ways with longtime guitarist Zakk Wylde because it was becoming more and more difficult to be sober around someone who drank so heavily.
  • Rocker Bret Michaels has revealed he is in talks with American Idol bosses about possibly replacing Simon Cowell as a judge on the show. The Poison star made his first live appearance after his recent brain hemorrhage and mild stroke on the talent show’s finale and rumours have been rife ever since that he’s the man to take over Cowell’s chair. And now he admits he’s planning to meet with producers to discuss the idea.

6 Year Old On US No Fly List

Could someone explain this to me please? How is that a 6 year old Indian-American girl on the US government’s terror watch list? Dr. Santhosh Thomas is at a loss to understand as to how his 6 year old child, Alyssa Thomas, came to be on that list. The doctor was informed of this when is family were embarking on a recent trip from Cleveland to Minneapolis. When he asked the ticket agent as to how come, the only reply he got was “Well, she’s on the list!”

They were allowed to fly that day but were informed to contact the US Dept. of Homeland Securities to clear up this matter. A flabbergasted Dr. Thomas states that the worst his young child could have done is to threaten her sister during a bout of sibling quarrels that most kids go through, but was that enough to have Homeland Securities get involved as to put her on a watch list? The family then received a letter from the government addressed to little Alyssa telling her that nothing has changed in her file and that she is still on the list.

How stupid can a governmental agency get? What possible harm can she do? The kid has been traveling on planes since she was 2 months old. What did she do? Poop a few many times while in the air?

I Love You, Man

I first heard about this movie when I saw a interview of the main stars on The Hour with George Stroumbolopolous.¬† And I heard them talking about the Rush angle to this movie. That was more than enough to peak my interest in this movie. Plus I really like the two lead actors – Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. Rashida Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones, also stars as Rudd’s fiance and Jamie Pressely, Jane Curtin & Jon Favereau also lend a supporting hand in this movie.

Peter Klaven (Rudd) just got engaged to his girlfriend of 8 months, Zooey Rice but he is embarrassed by the fact that he has a lack of male friends, especially compared with the close intimate relationships that Zooey has with her group of female friends. Overhearing her friends discussing this oddity, Peter goes on a series of “man dates” with men hoping to get a real friend in time for his wedding. However, he always seems to be ending up in awful situations. Feeling rejected, Peter is about to give up, when during an open house at¬†Lou Ferrigno’s mansion, he meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) . The two hit it off very well, despite having different personalities. Later, Peter calls Sydney, and they go out for drinks.

Pretty soon they are spending a lot of time together, including jamming on bass & guitar in Sydney’s garage turned ‘man cave’. They also bond over a mutual love for the rock band Rush – the two of them singing Tom Sawyer in the garage is a highlight of the film! Peter then asks Sydney to be his best man at his wedding and invites him to a dinner with family & friends – where Sydney makes a totally inappropriate toast! Things get a little testy when Sydney borrows $8000 from Peter and puts billboards all over Los Angeles to advertise Peter’s real estate skills. And then Sydney fights with Ferrigno which seems to jeopardize the sale. They break off their friendship for a while.

However, it seems that Sydney’s silly billboards have worked in getting more business for Peter including Ferrigno, who is impressed with the sales technique. Zooey who has second thoughts about their friendship, relents when she sees that Peter is upset on the day of their wedding and she invites Sydney to come. The two friends are reunited and the wedding takes place.

Total dude movie; watch it and you’ll love it. 8 outta 10!

We’re Only Immortal For A Limited Time

The year is 1992 a few months before I turned 16. I had completed high school and enjoying 3 months of summer vacation before pre-degree in a college. Not knowing how to spend my time, I joined Datapro for a 2 month course on Computer Basics. I enjoyed my time there and made a couple of friends. One of those afternoons on the way back home I stopped at this music store / gift shop. I saw the cover of a tape of a band that I had never heard of before. I liked the cover – a young boy kicking a skeleton and the background was a wall made entirely of dominoes. So I bought the album, called Roll The Bones and put it on as soon as I reached home; this song Dreamline came on and boom – I was introduced to the world of Rush!

1-2-3 In 2010 NHL Draft

I am about 30 hours or so late but here are the 1st, 2nd & 3rd picks from the 2010 NHL entry draft held on Friday night held in Los Angeles. The Edmonton Oilers, who will be in the midst of rebuilding after a couple of terrible seasons and finishing last in the league standings this past season, selected Taylor Hall (in the middle) first overall. The announcement ended weeks of speculation as to who would the Oilers pick РHall or Tyler Seguin. There seemed to be very little to choose between the two youngsters but Seguin was ranked higher that Hall.

The 18-year old Hall enjoyed a spectacular year, scoring 40 goals and adding 66 assists in 57 regular season games with the Spitfires.¬† He was also a key component of Windsor’s back-to-back Memorial Cup titles as he was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year.¬† He also found time in his busy schedule to help Canada capture the silver medal at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

The Boston Bruins gladly picked Seguin at # 2 (on the right wearing a Bruins jersey) a pretty solid consolation prize as they were able to select the Plymouth Whalers playmaker second overall after receiving the pick as part of a package from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Phil¬†Kessel. After consumating a trade earlier in the night with the Vancouver Canucks that saw the Florida Panthers shift Keith¬†Ballard to the West Coast, new Panthers’ GM Dale Tallon remained busy as he announced the selection of Kingston Frontenacs defenceman Erik¬†Gudbranson (on the left) with the third overall pick. A behemoth on the blueline, Gudbranson is a stay at home defenceman who should be able to inject some size and strength into the Cats’ defence corps.

My Long Saturday

Well, I’m back from work and what a day it was. Loooong! All because of the harthal and work blockade that happened today in protest o the sudden rise in fuel prices. So I had to depend on the company provided transport as I do not have my on vehicle and since all buses & autos were off the roads. So I went to sleep at 1:30 am after watching some tv and woke up at the unholy hour of 3:00 am! I tossed in my bed as my eyes refused to open and were shut tightly. A few minutes passed and I willed myself to get outta bed and head to the loo.

A quick washing of the face & teeth brushed I headed for the kitchen and made myself¬† a big cup of strong coffee. After downing that I attended the call of nature and then checked with the transport department at the office to check the time that the cab would come to pick me up. I then too a bath and got dressed for at 4:45 am a Toyota Qualis was headed my way. As I waited for the cab in the juntion next to my building, I was joined by 6 to 8 “thorappans” or huge rats the size of¬† small dogs! Scared that they would bite my leg I moved closer to the main road. There were a boy & girl from the call center associate crowd of our company in the cab along with the driver and we went to Vaduthala and Elamakkara to pick up 3 more people.

We reached the office by 5:30 am and I went straight to work and finished a report before it was time for breakfast at 7:30 am. Went back to work and finished another report by 11 am and a third just before lunch time. I also took some rest in a room by removing my shoes and putting my feet up and getting in some shut eye. By 3 am I told my team to gather in the conference room so we could go over the latest products and process updates for the remaining 3 hours. A little after 6pm I got into a cab and went to a colony near HMT junction and then onto Vytilla before the cab dropped me off at Kacheripady at around 7:30 pm. I walked over to Varkey’s and bought a whole chicken and bread and my dad cooked it while I watched an episode of Castle and then settled for a nice dinner.

So how was your day?

Another Harthal Day Looms Large

Well that’s a wet evening behind me now. It’s raining quite a lot these past few days and the best part of it is that it keeps the temperature low and the air cool. You can bundle yourself in sheets or wrap yourself in a thick blanket and stay snug and safe in your sleep. But you can’t do much in the heat except sweat and feel totally uncomfortable.

I’ve had a bad dad and I’m not ready to talk about it at the moment. Maybe during Sunday or after I’ve had sometime to wrap my head around it. I’ll get back to it soon. But I can’t open up about it until I get over it in my mind. But it’s got me all messed up in my mind.

Oh and tomorrow is a harthal! Another fucking day that the political parties are gonna make us miserable and ruin any chance of us normal folk to have a hassle free work day. The reason for the harthal is that the sudden sharp increase in the price of petrol & diesel and hence these motherfucking politicians need to make it even worse for the public and block trains, buses, cars and stop people from opening shops, stores and offices. The political party members usually don’t bother private vehicles too much but a lot of people are scared to take their cars out. Bikes seem to go about as usual but most offices close down….except for the 24 hour BPO companies like the one yours truly works for! Yes, slap my ass and call me Judy!

So, I’ll bid you goodnite as I have to get up really early at 3 am and get ready for a company cab that will come to pick me up around 4:30 am. I’ll probably reach the office by 5:15 am and leave the office around 6pm! Yeah, just like last time.

A World Cup 2010 Update – 3

What an interesting World Cup it has been so far

  • Uruguay and Mexico finish 1st & 2nd place in their group A after 3 matches. Hosts South Africa unfortunately fail to cross the group stage and finish in 3rd place with 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss.
  • What about France? 1998 champs and 2006 finalists, the French were abysmal and were chucked out of the Cup, with 1 draw and 2 defeats. Atleast they scored a goal unlike in 2002!
  • Argentina had too much talent & class in group B and finished with 3 wins, but South Korea trumps over both Greece and my fav African team Nigeria to finish 2nd in the group.
  • One surprise in group C; it’s the USA who top the group with 5 points – two draws and a win. England finally hemmed and hawed and after two draws they finally got a win against Slovenia that gave them 5 points and finished second to go through to the next stage.
  • Group D saw Germany defeated by Serbia but still 6 points from wins in the other 2 games were enough to see them top¬† the group. Surprisingly Ghana, who will be the lone African side in the round of 16, finished 2nd in the group over Australia & Serbia.
  • Group E sees the Netherlands win all 3 matches without much fuss and top the group. Japan trumped over Denmark last night and finish second. Cameroon finished last in E.
  • Group F and how them mighty have fallen. Defending champions Italy finish last in the group with 2 draws and a loss to Slovakia. Paraguay finish top¬† in the group followed by Slovakia. Even New Zealand had more points than Italy!

There’s still 2 more groups to finish the 3d matches but so much has happened that I just had to post this.

Raindrop Falling On My Head

The rains sure poured down on Cochin city today. Funny enough it was quite hot and sunny this afternoon when I went to the mess next to the office for lunch. And it wasn’t raining at 6 pm when a few of us went up to the rooftop cafeteria for coffee. Who knew that within the next 90 minutes it would pour down in biblical fashion. I mean it was a torrential downpour and the roads were flooded. The road that leads from my office to the main road is on an upward slope and walking on it in this kinda weather is an adventure. Water uptil your ankles and swishing around as you walk.

My socks and shoes were quite wet as I reached the bus stand. I got down and went to this small hotel in Kacheripady that I sometimes get dinner from. Although owned by Malayalees the cooks and some of the waiters aren’t from here. I think they are from the North East part of India and maybe because of that, they don’t use as much oil or masala in the food. I like this as the food is cheaper compared to most places & quite tasty but doesn’t give you that bloated / stuffed feeling. I ordered the chicken fried rice and some chicken 65. I was however disappointed with the chicken as it wasn’t upto their usual standard in taste. I threw most of it away and ate the rice which was quite good.

Then it was chatting away on the lappy and then a video call with my good friend / colleague Smitha. Who I haven’t met in real life till date but she’s a good friend nevertheless. Now it’s sleep time and I think I’m gonna have a long dreamless sleep.

Tamil Bashing

Ok this incident happened a while ago but left me wondering for many minutes even after I had come home. I was taking the bus ride back home from work and it would have been about 7:20 in the evening. I was sitting in the last row of the bus and there were two Tamilian men sitting near me. The bus was a bit crowded (not unusual for that time) and I could barely see the protagonist of this event, even though he was standing less than two feet away from me, leaning against the pole near the door. The Tamilians, who were obviously low-wage earning manual workers, were chatting very loudly just like their kind normally do. I have always taken this for a fact of life, labourers can’t talk at normal decibel levels, but they work hard for a living, so just shut your ears and ignore them.

The loud chatting seemed to spark an interest in our pole-leaning fellow. He looked at them with contempt and asked them “Are you from Tamil Nadu? Where in Tamil Nadu?” and then went on to use swear words at them. They even included the words “Motherfuckers, sons of whores, illegitimate offspring” etc. I was wondering why on earth the idiot was abusing them. It seems that, as he would explain to anyone who was paying attention, that he has always had bad experiences with the people of the state. He said that he has suffered many days over there while working in Madras (Chennai) or while searching for a job there. He spent days unable to get proper food or even water to drink and the people were abusive to him. He also faced issues when he came back to Kerala and worked for a small firm, whose work meant that he had to often go to cities & towns in Tamil Nadu.

He also said that one of his relatives was applying for a visa to Baharain on the promise of a job by a friend who was settled there. The embassy in in Chennai and they refused him a visa, cause his passport was “Kerala passport”, which means that a sort of racism cost him a trip to a better life. He asked them “Does anyone bother you here? You live peaceful lives here in return for the work you do.” The abuser continued on, until the two labourers alighted from the bus and turned to several people asking them “Are you Tamilian?” Later one the guy, obviously drunk, apologized with a smile and said he was under pressure and was just letting off steam when he hear the Tamilians.

No doubt he faced some tough times while he was in Tamil Nadu and his relative was denied a visa for no reason other than the fact that he was a Malayalee, but can we agree with the guy? He must have had a rough time but there are several Malayalees who are living it up in Chennai & Coimbatore. But hatred towards the entire Tamil population because of that? On the other hand, a man can only relate to something according to the relation he has with that particular thing.

I was left wondering : Okay, I can’t stand their movies or their stupid meaningless songs with non-sensical lyrics that seem to be everywhere these days. I will never understand why they continue to vote for corrupt Jayalalitha or have such fascination with talentless actors. But still I can’t agree with hating our Tamil cousins.

After all, remember this joke: “Why are Tamilians called the horniest people on the planet”?

Answer: Because they greet everyone with “Wanna cum” (Vannakam)!!! LOL

A Typical Work Day In Idea

The last few days I’ve been thinking about the 2 years that I spent working in the main office for Idea Mobile Communications, located in Ravipuram. I worked there from Jan 2004 till Jan 2006, after which I was moved to their new call center in Thoppumpady. I joined Idea,¬† then known as Escotel, as a call center associates and got promoted to Supervisor in November of that same year and then in April I got promoted as a Call Center Mentor. These were some fun times right uptill the end and I truly enjoyed working there..well with the exception of the shitty management.

Still, I am truly nostalgic about my days there. From my old blog here’s what a typical work day would be like for me:

Monday – Saturdays – I did my usual stuff – strolled in at 3pm said the usual greetings, sat my cell down on the side of the mousepad and plugged in the charger (what with me browsing WAP on my cell the battery is always low), reading the days company e-mails & replies of ones that I sent the previous night until the coffee lady comes in with my brew. The coffee & tea that the canteen staff at the company prefer is what I have labbled “pregnant woman’s coffee/tea” – because it coffee powder, sugar & a cupfull of milk – no water to dilute it. Yuck! I usually have black coffee at home or if I want to add milk it will only be a quarter of the cup. This coffee is ridiculus, but being late afternoon I need something to keep me awake and it’s a slow burn while it goes down my throat.

By then an hour would have passed and I would start the audits, recordings, opening/creating/editting of numerous MS Excel sheets (I so hate Excel – it might just be the greatest office tool but I hate seeing a worksheet) and reviewing the preformances of the 30 call centre agents under my mentorship. Then it would be understanding of the issues of the day and speaking to my collegues in the office. By 6, the majority of the staff would start to leave and I would be deep in my work. By 7 I would go to strech my legs and another, much smaller cup of machine coffee and more work till about 8:15 or so when it is dinner time. By 9pm would be the start of my floor support section of the day, so I head down to the third floor to where the call centre is, relieve my collegue so that he/she can head on home. Then it’s on the call floor till 12 when I finish up all the pending e-mails & files and shut down the terminal. The company taxi would be waiting for me to take me home and in 20 minutes I would be at the gate, bracing myself as Shawny Jr. recognises that it is me coming home.

The affectionate puppy that she is, she comes running as soon as it is established that it is my sorry ass sneaking in at the gate and proceeds to bang into me. She leaps and lunges and a few times has been at the recieving end of my rebukes. I then give her some patting and brushing of her coat and then get into the house with dog slobber all over my hands. A quick wash and a change of clothes and I plonk my self onto the mattress with the remote in my hand. It would be 12:30 or 12:45 am by then and until I feel my eyes feeling heavier I’d watch some tv series or music videos. Then it’s off to never, neverland.

The Happening

I had kinda given up hope on Manoj Shyamalan’s movies getting the same kinda acclaim as Sixth Sense and Signs did. I liked The Village a lot more than most people did and have yet to watch Lady In The Water & Unbreakable. This movie is similar to the kind of movie that you would expect Shyamalan to make. Although I am surprised by the casting – Zooey Deschanel is not the kind of actress I would have expected in this role and neither was John Leguizamo in his small supporting role. I don’t like Mark Wahlberg but I guess he did ok in this role.

The Happening is about an unexplainable natural disaster that occurs on the East Coast of the US. It starts off in Central Park, New York when people suddenly start to commit suicide in the most accessible manner possible for no apparent reason. Stabbing themselves in the neck by a pen, walking off construction sites, policemen shooting themselves with their own guns etc.

Initially believed to be a bioterrorist attack using an airborne neurotoxin, the epidemic quickly spreads across the northeastern¬†United States, slowly moving from large population centers to smaller and smaller areas. The disease is spread through the air and the onset is depicted by the wind picking up. Wahlberg plays Elliot, a high school teacher, who tries to escape the epidemic with his wife Alma (Deschanel), his friend Jullian (Luguizamo) and Jullian’s young daughter Jess. Jullian dies when he goes back to search for his wife and is infected along with others that he is traveling with. Elliot & Alma take Jess with them as they try to make their way to smaller and more open areas with less people as they get the idea that this infections occurs where there are more people. They are joined by a group of people who soon split into smaller groups as the wind picks up and they start to get infected.

Towards the end, Elliot is left with just Alma & Jess and they take refuge in an old isolated farm house occupied by a paranoid oddball woman, who is unaware of the disaster as she keeps to herself and has shunned technology and interaction with other humans. Soon, however she too is infected and she kills herself by banging her head onto the windows of her house. Elliot, Jess & Alma hide out in different parts of her house until they feel that death is inevitable and they come out to embrace in the field. The wind picks up and the trio wait for the onset of the epidemic…but nothing happens!

As predicted by scientists in the beginning the outbreak abates as quickly as it has started lasting only a couple of days. 3 months later things are normal for Alma & Elliot who have adopted Jess and are also expecting their first child. The Northeast is almost back to normal, save for the deaths and some destruction of property. However, a scientist is shown talking on  tv that this was probably just the signs of a bigger wave of the epidemic, saying that humans have been a threat to the planet and nature is fighting back. We are then shown the same epidemic strike in France as the movie ends.

7 outta 10 for me. I like it but they could have done better!

A Stitch In Time Saves Mine

I’ve been lucky that I’ve never had to be hospitalized for days on end. Infact the most time I’ve spent is 2 days in a row when I was 21 years ago, back in 1997. That’s it! I’ve not had much to be taken to the hospital in my life.

When I was about 4 years old, I fell down the stairs of building and hit my head. There was some bleeding and I needed to have stitches done. I vaguely remember the incident (it was a head injury after all, lol) but I do remember my dad consoling me while I cried due to the pain. That is one of my earliest memories as well.

Well funny thing is when I was about 12 or 13, in school I needed to get stitches done on the exact same spot! We had a free period and the guys & I were out on the playground trying to setup a football match on the ground. Since we didn’t have proper goal posts we would get sticks of bamboo and wedge them between bricks and place them on the ground. There were plenty of bricks lying around as there was construction going on in sections of the school property. So some of my buddies went to get the bricks. Unfortunately one fella tossed a couple of bricks without thinking and then yelled for us to watch out. I wasn’t paying attention and by the time I became aware of what was happening, the brick was almost on top of me!

I tried to duck but the broken end of the brick hit me on the exact same spot where I had my stitches done at the age of 4 and it opened up a wound. Bleeding I was taken to the hospital and my older cousin met me there while I had stitches done….once again! What are the chances?

Since then, I’ve had to stay for a couple of days in the hospital¬† when I was 21 years old……for a circumcision! Yeah, go ahead and do the LOL! It was bloody painful and I had lots o stitches. Not to mention being out of commission and resting up at home for 30 days. That’s a whole blog post on it’s on. And oh yes, a few years after that I stepped on a splinter and a thin piece pierced my right foot and got lodged into the flesh. I went to the hospital and they cut out a little of the flesh and stitched it up. Nothing to it – I was outta there in an hour.

The Case Of The Missing Chicken

A big part of almost every kid’s life are the cartoons that he/she watches. I was no exception and was glued to the tv when they showed cartoons (Muthaharika in Arabic if I remember) every morning and evening on Kuwaiti television. This was ofcourse before the cable tv channels showed up but they had a good selection of cartoons to show us kids.

One of the most memorable ones was the Muppet Babies cartoons. And this is my favourite episode which I can’t seem to forget. I loved this episode. Gonzo’s stuffed baby chicken Camilla goes missing.

The best part is when Fozzie bear does a “confession” to taking the bear and running way – he only imagines it. Then Gonzo shares with the others as to how he feels – he sings the song ‘Camilla’ dressed like Elvis. Truly magical!!

Finally it seems that he just misplaced the baby chicken. Things are back to normal.