2004-08-31

Another Brick

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Friday afternoon we were invited to see a Pink Floyd cover band at a bar in Hyderabad, later that evening. "An Indian Pink Floyd cover band," I wondered? This I had to see. While there, we got to chat with some other folks about Rock 'n Roll—apparently there's a huge cover band scene here. Who knew?

The group playing was great, except that the vocalist wasn't so hot with some of the more subtle tunes. We later discovered that he's the lead singer for another band, a thrash metal group. Heh.

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Later on in the weekend the Sunday paper arrived, and somebody came across this article in the Society section, complete with a writeup of the show we saw. Double-heh! One funny thing about the show was the bar's layout — there was no stage. The path the servers used to get to the storage room went right through the band, so workers were constantly walking between the singer and the rest of the group carrying drinks, etc. Nobody seemed to mind...

PaulG

I just love reading Paul Graham's writing. He has a way of articulating a given topic that not only gets my mind racing, but also has me constantly laughing out loud. I brought Hackers and Painters with me to India, and finished Chapter 4 this morning. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be available online, but here's a great snippet:
"Data is by definition easy to copy. And the Internet makes copies easy to distribute. So it is no wonder companies are afraid. But, as so often happens, fear has clouded their judgement. The government has responded with draconian laws to protect intellectual property. They probably mean well. But they may not realize that such laws will do more harm than good."

"Why are programmers so violently opposed to these laws? If I were a legislator, I'd be interested in this mystery—for the same reason that, if I were a farmer and suddenly heard a lot of squaking coming from my hen house one night, I'd want to go out and investigate. Hackers are not stupid, and unanimity is very rare in this world. So if they're all squaking, perhaps there is something amiss."

Rakhi

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Yesterday morning when I got to the office, three of the Indian ladies here came over and tied these bracelets around my wrist. Apparently, all of India is currently celebrating Raksha Bandhan, "a festival meant to commemorate the abiding ties between siblings of opposite sex." (Hi Natalie!) They put them on all the other expat guys as well, but I think I'm the only one who got three... <grin>

Here's UCLA's Department of Social Sciences on the matter:
"The word raksha signifies protection, and bandhan is an association signifying an enduring sort of bond; and so, when a woman ties a rakhi around the wrist of her brother, she signifies her loving attachment to him. He, likewise, recognizes the special bonds between them, and by extending his wrist forward, he in fact extends the hand of his protection over her."
I can dig that.

2004-08-30

Tension

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On the way to Golconda Fort this weekend, we drove through a small enclave of Muslim houses and shops. Gopal, my (Hindu) driver waved his hand around pointing at the houses and people. "Muslim people bad. They kill Hindus for hundreds of years." Sigh.

2004-08-27

Where?

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Where am I right now? The rumors are true—Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh, India. My pictures are here, more of the city (props to Google Images) are here. I don't really feel like I'm "traveling" just yet, since I'm working from our office for the majority of each day. (and being fed by amazing cooks and driven around by courteous drivers and being cleaned up after by smiling staff... more on that later). Fortunately I'm here this weekend, so I'll be able to do some site-seeing with some of the gang.

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Where am I going? September 1 I fly Air Sahara back to Delhi to rendezvous with Zach (far right) and his Dad. September 2 we head to Agra to see Taj Mahal, then back to Delhi on the 4th.

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September 5 we fly to Leh to begin our trek in Ladakh. Originally I was only to do the first two weeks, skipping the Stok Kangri extension. But as the trip neared, my dormant travel bug decided to wake up... "So you should do the extension and stuff because you're already out & up there (the remote Himalaya), and you might not ever be there again. And there's the possibility of summiting a 20,000 ft. peak!" [ego is stroked.] So Stok it is.

Assuming all goes well, we fly back to Delhi September 22, and I head home the 24th.

2004-08-26

Blast from the Past

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Via David Rutan, here's a John Markoff piece from the 1982-09-06 edition of InfoWorld, about my Aunt and the company (RIP) she founded. That's my cousin Sarah using the Apple IIe. In email Ann said, "This article led to a contract with [an unnamed large computer company] that doubled our financial base and put us on the map." Far out!

Here are pages 1 & 2, and here's the new company she's starting.

2004-08-22

Flights

August 22nd:
• Air Canada #756, Leave SFO 11:50am - Arrive Toronto 7:39pm
• Air Canada #51, Leave Toronto 9:30pm - Arrive Delhi 9:00pm Aug 23

August 24th:
• Jet Airways #9W 827, Leave Delhi 05:50 - Arrive Hyderabad 07:50

September 1st:
• Air Sahara #S2 136, Leave Hyderabad 09:55 - Arrive Delhi 11:55

September 19th:
• Air Canada #52, Leave Delhi 11:30pm - Arrive Toronto 5:30am Sep 20

September 20th:
• Air Canada #757 Leave Toronto 8:30am - Arrive SFO 11:00am

Note: the Sep19&20 flights will be changed to Sep24, and there are Delhi <—> Leh (Ladakh) flights in there on Sep5&22.

Namaste!

2004-08-19

Lessons: India

"Our streets and our stations are thronged with people from a thousand different backgrounds with whom it is practically impossible to avoid conversation. During the conversation you may find that your money has been stolen, or you may find you have been speaking to a sage. Both experiences are considered educational."

—Gita Mehta, Karma Cola

2004-08-11

Score!

Excellent, I knew Ottmar would take the bait!
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(originally uploaded by o2ma)
"Let's take it one at a time. Milan in September is a track only available on the Australian version of Euphoria and in our Listening Lounge. It was inspired by a morning in Milan, I believe it was in 1992, waking up at the Diana Majestic Hotel... Mind you, it wasn't a Sheraton Hotel then. No flash, just old and lovely. From the Diana nothing in Milan is too far. One can walk to the Duomo, one can walk to the shopping centre and one can get about anywhere in Milan with relative ease."
Read on...

Update: Two stories about Istanbul, one from Mexico and one from Brazil!

Truth via comedy

If you haven't seen this episode of The Daily Show yet, get thee to the BitTorrent site, download the latest version, then snag the torrent and watch it!

2004-08-08

Behind the Music

Backstage pass to Ottmar's show at the Saratoga Mountain Winery
For a while now, I've been meaning to bug Ottmar to tell some stories about his songs. See, the majority of his tracks have no vocals, so you're left wondering how and why he named them; here are a few geographically-named tracks about which, as a traveler, I've always been curious:
I know he's done a bunch of traveling, as a teenage vagabond as well as an internationally-acclaimed musician, so I just know there are some fascinating stories behind his music. It's likely that I've missed some in his archive, but it looks like he's started telling us about them:
"Bombay was written in memory of a now defunct ferry from Bombay to Goa, sadly no longer operating according to Steve Hillage with whom I talked about the Goa scene a few years back. Actually, I wrote two songs about that ferry-ride in 1978 after waking up from a dream about the experience in 1993. Morning Arrival in Goa is, of course, the second of the pair, which both appeared for the first time on The Hours between Night + Day

It was a spectacular trip that started around 10 or 11 at night in Bombay harbor and ended in Goa after the sun rose. What a sun rise!!! The sun coming up over the ocean competet with a lighthouse on the coast as the ship reached the harbor in Goa. I had bought a third or fourth class ticket, which entitled me to sleeping on deck. I figured, while being the cheapest option, it was also a sure way to catch the sun rise."
I hope he turns this into a series... (wink wink!)

2004-08-05

Impermanence

"These words, passed down from the ancients, will carry me through every adversity and maintain my life in balance. These four words are: This too shall pass. For all worldly things shall indeed pass. When I am heavy with heartache I shall console myself that this too shall pass; when I am puffed with success I shall warn myself that this too shall pass. When I am strangled in poverty I shall tell myself that this too shall pass; when I am burdened with wealth I shall tell myself that this too shall pass. Yea, verily, where is he who built the pyramid? Is he not buried within its stone? And will the pyramid, one day, not also be buried under sand? If all things shall pass why should I be of concern for today?"

--From The Greatest Salesman in the World, a birthday present from Ms. McLaughlin.

Though impermanence is one of my favorite things, books like this are healthy reminders.

2004-08-04

It's All About The Customer

Fast Company, Inside the Mind of Jeff Bezos:
"And 'sometimes we measure things and see that in the short term they actually hurt sales, and we do it anyway,' he says, because Amazon managers don't think the short term is a good predictor of the long term. For example, they found that their biggest customers had such large collections of stuff -- especially CDs -- that they accidentally ordered items they had already bought from Amazon years ago. So they decided to give people a warning whenever this was about to happen. Sure enough, the warnings slightly reduced Amazon's sales. But it's hard to study the feature's long-term effects. Would it reduce sales over a 10-year period? They didn't think so. They thought it would make customers happy and probably increase sales. 'You have to use your judgment,' Bezos says. 'In cases like that, we say, 'Let's be simpleminded. We know this is a feature that's good for customers. Let's do it.'' "

2004-08-02

Vietnam

Mike continues to do an excellent job blogging from Saigon:
"One thing I've noticed about living down here as opposed to HN is that you tend to see more people missing limbs. I'm not talking about hordes of individuals walking around missing arms or legs but even seeing a couple every once in awhile is unsettling. Sadly, there are still landmines and unexploded ordinance littering the countryside. In fact, not more than a week ago, 3 people were killed by explosives left over from the war."

2004-08-01

Skyline

Another snippet from the book from Chapter Nine, when Randy heads out for a bike ride in my neighborhood:
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"I reached the top of Page Mill Road and turned north on Skyline, along the ridges of hills that mark the volatile San Andreas Fault. These hills, the result of the millenia-long collision of tectonic plates, literally define Silicon Valley to the east and shield it from the Pacific Ocean on the west. This ridge is part of a plate drifting inexorably toward Alaska."

TiVo, back in the day

Returning home from San Francisco to a cold, drippy Sunday afternoon, I built a fire and curled up with Randy Komisar's The Monk and the Riddle, a birthday present from Chuck. Here's a snippet from Chapter Six about TiVo:
Book Cover: The Monk and the Riddle
"Their Teleworld idea was to sell a new kind of hardware, a home server that not only digitally stored incoming electronic information, including audio and video content, but also linked the gamut of digital devices rapidly becoming commonplace in the home: computers, PDAs, and Internet appliances. Concerned that they might be ahead of the market and that customers would be slow to appreciate the ultimate value of their product, Mike and Jim planned to jump-start the business by giving customers the ability to digitize and store several hours of television programming in a set-top box. Their initial product would be, in effect, a souped up VCR with a clever programming guide..."

"Mike and Jim talked about selling hundreds of thousands of set-top boxes, but that wouldn't build a large enough audience for service providers and advertisers. They would have to sell millions of units, and quickly. If they focused on the boxes, I told them, 'your legacy may be that you sowed the seeds of a huge market, which the consumer electronic giants and service providers ultimately reaped.'"
Komisar was spot-on...