Main > Joel's February 2006 News

.:February's Picture of the Month:.
The evil vending machine.


Monday, February 27th 2006

Egads, it's snowing. Did anyone know about this? Last time I checked, it was supposed to be clear skies. Sam Champion, you're an idiot.

My dear stalkers, I have pictures. How many? Forty-friggin'-one new pictures, and I ain't even done yet. I still have a bunch more to share, courtesy of my dear, sweet, short, sister-in-law Anju. More of those later. In the meantime, feast your eyes on some random Joshy photos, and photos from this past weekend's "Birthday Extravaganza!"

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A weekend in NYC

Newsweek magazine has a slew of India-related articles this week. Here they are. I wish I could get a large-size image of the Newsweek cover.

I should mention the weekend, right? Well, it went very well. We did a lot of chilling out, ate like a king and queen (Hawaiian Fusion, Gourmet Mexican, Japanese, Turkish, and even plain old diner food. We (I mean, my wife) did some shopping over in Chinatown. Best of all, did I mention the relaxing. As you can see from the pictures, it was nearly impossible to wipe the smile off my wife's face. It's been a rough adjustment being a new mother, and she deserved a vacation of sorts.

How the hell am I going to top it next year? Hmmm, I'm thinking space travel.


Sunday, February 26th 2006

We have returned from the big Birthday Extravangza weekend. Where did we go? We stayed at the Westin down on 43rd St, a block from Times Square, in a big corner room on the 34th floor.

I'd write more, but we just got back from a Turkish dinner with my wife's family, I'm stuffed, and tired. More tomorrow night, I promise. I will say that we took a ton of pictures, so your needs will be met soon enough.

BTW, thank to Jimboy for providing the music theme song for this weekend. Marvin Gaye was a nice touch. :)


Thursday, February 23rd 2006

Here's a shoutout to my homey TheSchwed, on the East Side. "Yo."

My wife and I are going away this weekend, just the two of us. I've got multiple guests staying over to babysit and cat-sit. I think we'll have fun this weekend. See you all next week.


Wednesday, February 22nd 2006

As promised, the Dallas pictures are posted below [scroll, dammit!]. There are only nine of middling quality, because

1) I was down in Texas all by myself.
2) I can't really disclose what I was doing down there. If I can't discuss it, then I can't take pictures, can I?
3) I didn't do anything exciting, except walk around in my underwear.

Speaking of photos, I haven't taken too many photos this month. Hmmm, we haven't taken too many baby photos, but we have a few. Joshy hasn't done anything cool this month, except for clapping his hands, and giving kisses. If I can clean up the home office tomorrow, I'll post a pic of the new painted wall.

Speaking of flying, interesting article on MSN Money about what we'll be seeing more airlines charging us for in the future, such as pillows, blankets, beverages, etc.

That's all I got for today, kiddies. I need some sleep. Ciao for now.


Tuesday, February 21st 2006

I'm back. I didn't intentionally mean to leave that blank entry for Saturday night, did one FTP upload, but I got preoccupied, and forgot that I ever published.... you know, the date. I'll leave it, because people commented.

I have survived Dallas. I had that 6:37am flight, and I was talking to my good buddy Paul, and I asked him if he wanted me to call him during the weekend. He said yes, because whenever I have a flight to catch, there's always this crazy story around how I almost didn't make the flight. I said, "Ha ha, but I guess there really is always a story, isn't there?"

So, uh, funny thing happened. I did stay up to finish watching Contact. I went to work out around 1:15am, and with 4 minutes left on the treadmill, in the blink of an eye.... the tv turns off, the lights turn off, and the treadmill turns off. Just before I flew off the treadmill, my brain said, "Hmmm, a blackout. How unusual and unexpected."

I went to check out the situation at the front desk, but the part-time kid was all frazzled with a phone on each ear. I hung out the 15 mins until the power came back on, requested a wakeup call for 3:30am, and went back to finish up my run. Yeah yeah, the four remaining minutes. I got back, saw some movie with Michael McKean -- I can't turn down Michael McKean. It was called 100 Mile Rule, and it's a dark comedy. It was alright, but I just had to know how it ended. The answer? Poorly.

In any case, it was 3:26am, and I had to get up in 4 minutes. Naturally, I fell asleep, and woke up at 4:21am, 21 minutes past when I wanted to leave. Right. Also, I hadn't finished packing. So, I showered, dressed, packed my suitcase, in the span of 24 minutes. I remember flying by the front desk and throwing my room card at the guy, and running to the car. Remember I still had to gas up and return the rental car too.

Folks, I made it. BTW, Paul was amused. Anyway, pictures go up tomorrow here. Funniest thing? I went to get McDonald's from the terminal foodcourt, and while walking back, I hear, "Joel!" I look up, and it's Prasad & Mercy Varghese, who were on my flight, on the way back from their vacation in Hawaii. Talk about a weird coincidence. Also, my father-in-law was picking them up from Newark. How weird.

Limited pictures, as what I was down there for is business confidential.

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I've always wanted to see my name on the big board
You can rent Hummers from Hertz. I didn't.
My hotel... with free broadband
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My Grand Marquis drives like a boat
Nice inside, but oddly uncomfortable
When did he get his own highway?
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I was in a remote location, hence the cows
They know about the monkeys?
Prasad Uncle & Mercy Aunty at the airport

This is one crazy marriage contract. I can't imagine what the hell is wrong with this guy. And he wrote it up!

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Now I'm all aerodynamic.

BTW, they took my warning signs down. Those bastards.

I got a haircut yesterday. I decided to shave most of it off. I did this accidently back on May 2nd 2004. I think it's grown on me, and since I'm back to exercising, why not? BTW, I didn't cut this guy's hair, so I don't know what he's talking about [see Playing With Myself -- weird title].

Speaking of exercising, yes, my gym membership at work is active, and I worked out today for the first time. Since Thursday last week, I've unbelievably lost 3 pounds, and am down from 192 -> 189. I'm going to track it weekly, and you folks will get to follow every pound, every Cheeto, and yes, every Chalupa.

If you don't see pictures here after tomorrow night, feel free to comment and scold me.


Saturday, February 18th 2006


Thursday, February 16th 2006

It's Thursday. It's Thursday. Th-th-th-th-th-Thursday. My flight is at 6:37am, and I have to be up at 4am, and checked out by 4:30am -- I have to refuel and return the rental car, get to the airport, etc. It's 11:25pm, and I'm worried I won't even wake up in time. If I miss my flight, my wife would build a matter teleporter, use it to transport to Dallas, and kick my ass.

Whenever I'm on the road, I always manage to watch shows I'd never normally watch. I've seen some interesting shows on like Dallas SWAT on A&E. Pretty neat show. I'm going to start watching it when I'm back home.

After a very busy two days, I'm basically done here in Texas with my review work. There is some documentation that I'm still waiting for, but I should get it next week. It was a good trip, but I wish more people were here with me. Tonight, I could have gone anywhere nice for dinner, as I've got a pretty big daily budget for meals when I'm on the road. It's still not fun to sit by yourself at dinner. Humans are social animals, aren't we? I picked up some Chick-Fil-A for dinner, and ate in my hotel room. Don't feel bad -- it was nice to chill out in my hotel room, watch some TV.

I blew through my first tollbooth today. On the way to my hotel Tuesday night, I was surprised to find out the hotel is right off the Dallas Tollway, which has tolls. On the way home tonight, I didn't have any change for the $0.40 toll getting off at the exit, except for a $20 bill (That's how I roll.... large bills, baby.), and there was no tollbooth operator. With no options, I said screw it, and bolted through the tollbooth. I wonder if Hertz is going to bill me or anything? If I get penalized, I'll be sure to bitch about it here.

I've got a 3-day weekend coming up, which is pretty sweet. No plans yet, so hey, good stuff. I'm working from home tomorrow, when I get home after my flight.

Oooh! Contact (starring Jodie Foster) is on HBO right now. Great movie. Should I stay up to watch it? It's 12:01am. I still have to work out tonight. All-nighter? You never know.


Tuesday, February 14th 2006

Yep, I'm in Dallas. Just got back from dinner at the nearby On the Border, and I'm sitting here in my hotel room, watching I, Robot. You know, upon reflection, this is a pretty good movie.

Isaac Asimov was a really interesting writer. I haven't gotten around to reading his I, Robot collection of short stories, which this movie derives some of its concepts and names. I'll have to get around to that book. His Foundation and Robot series were both pretty good.

My trip today was fairly uneventful, except for my flight being delayed, and getting lost while trying to find my hotel. I had Tex-Mex for dinner. I have to say, spending Valentine's Day on the road, by yourself, eating alone by yourself, is not the way I prefer to spend my day.

The next few days shouldn't be too bad. Just some review work here by myself, and then I fly home Friday morning.

The guestroom is all painted. We had contracted the work to local handymen. They did decent work, but the wall was originally covered in cork, and with the original underlying adhesive residue, one coat of red didn't adequately cover it. The handyman was going to have to come back Saturday morning to paint it for $60 extra. Our concern was that if one coat of paint wasn't enough, and if two coats wasn't enough, how many coats would we have to pay for? Would we have to pay $60 each and every time? Didn't make sense to us. We decided to do the 2nd and all subsequent painting ourselves. We picked up paintbrushes, paint rollers, paint tray, a drop cloth, etc, and even a stepladder, from Home Depot. It ended up taking a total of 4 coats of paint, and the entire weekend. However, the wall looks great, and we saved ourselves a heap of money, just by using a little bit of elbow grease.

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Evil is dispensed $1.25 at a time

We surived the big blizzard on this weekend. Painting gave us something to do. :)

Remember the evil, wicked, naughty vending machines in my office building? The ones I mentioned last week? Well, I printed big warning signs about them, and posted one on each machine. And you know what? I found out one of my coworkers used the soda machine anyway. And what happened? His soda got stuck. Geez, really? How could he have known that would've happened?

I came back to the office Tuesday, and I think the vending machine guy ripped off the signs, because they weren't there anymore. Too bad for them -- I have the warning signs saved on my laptop. I'll be happy to swoop in and post them again, right the wrongs, fight injustice, and save your $1.25.


Tuesday, February 7th 2006

I was out sick Monday. I think I got sick on Saturday. Ironically, I didn't lick any sick people, so I don't even know what happened. I came into the office today, and nobody missed me. They even got together, and signed a card, and left it on my desk. "We didn't even know you were gone." Why would Hallmark make that kind of card? Sadists.

Do you know what I had to do today? Of course not, so I'll tell you. I was planning to take some business writing courses offered online, but you know, the upper level stuff. However, our management has required us to complete all the writing courses, including the punctuation and grammar courses. Online courses are good, but come on, it's annoying to click through all those Flash-based animations, answering stupid questions about what a comma is.

I did take the initial assessment for grammar and punctuation, and got a failing 58%. Probably because the test asked inane questions about the difference in using a hypen and a dash in a sentence. Argh. I took it, learned it, passed it. Still a waste of my time. Now I'm on the 2nd one. We all have to finish all four courses by Friday. Pain in the butt.

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Evil is dispensed $1.25 at a time

See this vending machine? Looks innocent, doesn't it? It isn't. It's evil. This machine is on our floor, and depending on its mood, it might have drinks when you need it the most. It might have no drinks, and you're dying of thirst. You might be thirsty, and all it has is 3 rows of only Sierra Mist, and that's just wrong. You might walk by, and find 4 bottles of Pepsi just pressed against the window, tragic symbols of drinks paid for, but dangled and teased before your awe-struck open mouth.

Or you can put in $1.25, hit A4 for a Diet Pepsi, watch the little gate open, nothing happens, and watch the little gate close. Then you stand there, in shock and disbelief, wondering what kind of demon takes the shape of a vending machine that dispenses Pepsi and other assorted beverages, and why they'd stick it in your building. Why would they do that?


I'm going to Dallas next week. Leaving Valentine's Day no less. I come back Friday morning. Is my wife pissed? I don't think so, because she's used to me travelling. Still, she's a woman, and they don't always let you know something is bothering them, until suddenly they hit you in the face with a frying pan, run upstairs crying, and slam the bedroom door.

That's when you first have that inkling that something stinks in Denmark.

For some peculiar reason, I took the...[wait for the drumroll] The Muppet Personality Test. Yes, that's right, the Muppet Personality Test. I still don't know why. I will tell you that, based on my answers, I'm most like Gonzo. Anyone surprised?

You Are Gonzo the Great
"Is something burning in here? Oh, it's just me."
You're a total nutball who will do anything for attention.
The first to take a dare, you'll pull almost any stunt.
You're one weird looking creature, but your chickens don't mind!

I'm not surprised. I went, "Hmmm, makes sense."


Saturday, February 4th 2006

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Betty Friedan
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Al Lewis as Grandpa Munster
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Terry Tate in Reebok's 2003 Super Bowl commercial

Interesting news facts to share:

  • Author (and societal mover-and-shaker) Betty Friedan died today at the age of 85. Thank you to Ms. Friedan for your contribution to changing the nation.
  • "Grandpa" Al Lewis died at the age of 95.
  • Lance Armstrong & Sheryl Crow broke up. Eh, I don't care, even if they were engaged. That's life. Now entering Splitsville. Population: the two of them.
  • MSNBC has a list of some great Super Bowl ads of the past. I love the 2003 Reebok ad featuring Terry Tate the best. "You know you need a cover sheet on the TPS report" "Hi Terry." Hi Janice!" Love. It.
  • Thirteen (count 'em, thirteen) Al-Qaeda convicts dug a 70-meter tunnel and escaped from a Yemeni prison. These guys were convicted in the attacks on the USS Cole and a French oil supertanker. All the effort to hunt these people down, bring them to trial, and successfully convict them. Now they're free to attack us again. Good job, Yemen.

I took Joshua to Gymboree for a free preview class this morning. Last time, he was all about grabbing other babies, and crawling on everthing, but today, he wasn't very much interested. I think it had something to do with the class being at 9:15am. The previous class was an hour later, and I suppose that hour made all the difference in his energy level. I don't blame you, Joshy. I was damn tired this morning too.

I've been using the evaluation version of Winzip 9 for a year now, and I'm considering purchasing a license. I know it'd be the right thing to do, since it's not a free product. However, I'm a cheap bastard, and Indian, and we really don't like to pay for stuff. Do I want to pay $29? If I paid for it, would my wife slap my head right off my body?

It's been long in coming, but I've returned Anna's Diary back to the Links page. Thanks to Anju, for letting me know about her real diary/blog page.

I tried making some home movies via webcam to email to my sister-in-law and my parents, but the file sizes are huge. 1 video at 1 minute, 16 seconds, is 30 Mb. The email limit is generally 10 Mb. I'm going to set up a secret movie download page (Ssssh, it's secret!) for the family members to download. Of course, they're all on DSL, so they're broadband speeds are no where close to my hi-speed cable line. Amateurs. I feel snarky sympathy for you.

Now to work on the Video page! Ssshhhh!


Thursday, February 2nd 2006

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Final January 2006 photos added to the Family gallery

I'm chatting with my Dad on MSN Messenger right now. I'm so glad they got a new computer and broadband.

Some interesting developments this week:

I finally got around to publishing the final batch of January Family photos. Yep, that's all this month. Nothing really exciting happened last month anyway. I can't believe the kid is going to be a year old next month.

I just received word that I'm finally off the waitlist to join the company campus gym. I have to participate in a "Fitness Check" (whatever) next Wednesday, then I'm free to work out. Oh, believe me, I can't wait. I'm going to use the gym immediately afterwards that evening.

I've been working on improving my gas mileage -- driving at 65 MPH, no fast starts. After driving only 365 miles on a single tank of gas last week, I was able to drive more conservatively (AKA boring), and squeezed out 404 miles on just 15.5 gallons of gas. That's huge!

I hate junkmail. I hate junkmail from scammers even more. My wife got two pieces of junkmail today -- you know, of the "get rich quick!" variety.

  1. One from a retired attorney who was selling a pyramid scheme to send 6 people $1 dollar each. I think you've seen these before. My two favorite parts were when he "guaranteed" that if you do this, you'll make $800,000. To increase your chances, mail $1 to as many people as you can. You could make your own mailing list, or you could buy one from the company he lists. Don't worry. It's all legit. Also, our new friend recommends that we don't tell our family & friends about our new money-making scheme, because they won't understand.

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    Gozer the Destroyer / The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man / my lovely wife?
    The 2nd one was an offer from the "Neo-Tech Society". It's a super-secret society with unimaginable powers. I won't go into it all, but you'll have to read it yourself. Suffice it to say, if my wife joins the Neo-Tech Society, I'll be scared. Then again, it sounds like she could put the smackdown on Gozer the Destroyer.

Here are the excerpted scans of the two letters, in Adobe Acrobat pdf files. I've highlighted the best sections for you. Enjoy. Scam1 [1.65 Mb] and Scam 2 [3.23 Mb]. Please, read about the awesome powers that the secret members of the Neo-Tech Society can wield, such as "Learn how to make your new powers render all others helpless." :)

JetBlue, what has happened to thee? Once the darling of fliers, it's now in the red, and has one of the industry's worst on-time performances. I've been waiting to fly JetBlue. Hmmm, maybe I'll wait a little longer.

I haven't travelled for a long while (September), but I'm looking forward to seeing some new sights. I think my wife could stand to get out of the at-home doldrums too. We're looking to visit relatives in Maryland & Virginia in late June, and I'm tentatively going to be in Atlanta (AKA "Hotlanta") in the Sept-Oct timeframe. I'm leading the IT piece of an integrated audit (you don't know what that means, do you?) in July-August, but that'll be in NYC. Still, it'll be stressful, but interesting.

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Hooters Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

Hooters just opened its first hotel & casino in Las Vegas. I've never eaten at a Hooters, so you know what I think about a Hooters hotel? "Eh." Anyway, here's the link for your itinerary-planning needs.

I hate greedy people filing frivolous lawsuits. I should add that as a new Pet Peeve. People suing that idiot James Frey (of A Million Little Pieces infamy) to compensate themselves for "the lost value of the readers' time." A Louisiana man suing Apple because Apple Computer didn't sufficiently warn consumers that playing your iPod at extremely loud volumes will cause hearing loss. No shit. Really? That'll happen? Greed, my friends. Pure, unadulterated, greed.

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The Canon Powershot S80 I want so badly, it hurts. No, not really, but I would like it.

My sister-in-law purchased the Canon Powershot S80 that I wrote about last month, which I'm also interested in buying this year. Her verdict/opinion? She loves it. Ah, now I really want that camera.

I can't believe tomorrow is Friday. This week went fast, and the weekend is nigh. I'm taking Joshua to Gymboree Saturday morning for another free preview class. We sure do like "free".