Main > Joel's September 2006 News
.:Picture of the Day:.


Monday, September 25th 2006

I'm so tired. I rushed to Newark airport by 5:30 yesterday, checked in, and was dismayed to find out my flight was delayed to 7:15pm. I had dinner at Burger King, and read this month's issue of Maxim. When I got up at 6:40pm to check the flight status, it was now delayed to 9:15pm. The rest of the evening was spent watching the flight time move later and later into the night.

From what I learned, there was heavy rain in Atlanta, and all flights in were on hold. At about 10:15pm, they cancelled my flight, upgraded the 8:30pm-now-11:50pm flight to a bigger plane, and rebooked everyone onto the one flight. I did a lot of work at the terminal in the nearly 5 hours at the terminal, and I'm glad I copied over documentation I'd need. I was also glad that I brought those Sharper Image noise-cancelling headphones. They really worked like a charm.

What was ironic was that I had wished that I could have caught the 5:30pm flight -- most of the rest of the audit team coming from NJ had caught that flight, were delayed about 2 hours, but were probably already in Georgia. Then my boss called around 9:30pm. They had been sitting on the tarmac in Newark airport for nearly 3 hours now, as their plane had nowhere to go. I had a lot of sympathy when I heard they were stranded on the plane. Let me tell you, although being stuck in a terminal for hours is bad, being stuck on a plane for hours is even worse.

They eventually boarded everyone on my new flight at 10:15pm on the larger plane, and taxied us off to a far corner of the tarmac, and shut off the engines. We sat there for an hour, but we watched Mission: Impossible 3 (starring Tom Cruise), and using free plane headphones that flight attendants distributed free of charge for our inconvenience. If I had a plane adapter, I could have used my nice headphones instead of the cheapy airline version. M:I 3 turned out to be not a bad action movie, but I struggled to hear everything.

We eventually took off at 11:35pm, and arrived at Hartsfield at 1:30am. By the time we got a gate, got my luggage, and got my rental car, it was 2:30am. I reached my hotel a little after 3am. I couldn't sleep, so I lay in bed watching tv until falling asleep around nearly 6am. 90 mins later, I somehow managed to get dressed.

Everyone was exhausted, and we all dragged ourselves around through the work day.

In the afternoon, I found an airplane adapter for headphones for $13. Later this evening, I was putting my nice headphones away, when something fell out of the little baggie. It was an airplane adapter, which apparently was included. I wish I had known that 12 hours ago.


Sunday, September 24th 2006

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For 42 years, Ester Strogan rented a rotary phone from AT&T for $29.10 a month.
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Joshy's cousin Lisa in Bangalore, on her 2nd birthday

Less than 48 hours after arriving in NJ, I'm on my way back. The car is coming for me at 4:30pm. Duluth is not the most exciting place, and the audit just isn't that exciting either. Maybe it's the team dynamics........ although that incessant complainer I mentioned on Tuesday is getting on my last nerve.

I think the best part has been trying out new food every day. I didn't say new, good food -- just new food. :) I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in my hotel room Thursday night, eating my box of Popeye's chicken and biscuits.

Most of my free time last week was spent on business monitoring, and corrective action plan validations. I'm almost done with both. Unfortunately, my boss committed to my director that we'll close out the Canada audit workpapers early (by Wednesday). My boss will be onsite this week in Atlanta, so I figure that when he's done making sure the current audit is going okay, he'll be all over me. Guess I'll be spending my free time at the airport (and on the airplane) getting the Canada workpapers/documentation in order. I don't want him freaking out on me tomorrow.

If I can fit it in my bag, I'm going to try out a pair of Sharper Image noise-cancelling headphones that someone got me for my birthday. I hope they're slim.

  • For all you apartment-dwelling and home owners out there, did you ever wonder where the best place to store your food was? Our onions are always going bad, so we've been wondering. Here's a Today show article from guest Amy O'Connor. This will do it for now, but I'll have more fun if/when we get a new fridge next year (if I get a bonus).
  • Speaking of The Today Show, here's an awkward moment on Meredith Vieira's first day, courtesy of The Daily Show.
  • I didn't know you could rent landline phones from the telephone company. This widow paid as much as $42,000 over 42 years to rent a rotary phone. How much is a phone to buy? $10? AT&T charged her $29.10 a month. Crooks.
  • Here's's 30 funniest Jerry Seinfeld quotes (site may not be safe for work.)
  • Bamkapow's Top Eleven Best Arch-Nemeses. Love that Sideshow Bob made the list.

Haloscan (which I use for commenting here on this site) added some new feature where you can add a photo to your Comment. I'm going to have to test that out.

Alright, it's 2:39pm Time to go pack my suitcase. I hope this week isn't too stressful, but I believe it will be. If I can just make it through the end of this week (end of the 3rd quarter), I'll be happy. I'll recover Saturday.


Tuesday, September 19th 2006

Can I be frank here? I think I'm going to be sick of most of my current team by the end of next week. So many different, strong personalities, all confined in one conference can't be a good thing. The slackers, the incessant complainer, the stubborn ones, argh. What is with all the drama? Shut up, do your work, be understanding of other people, do what the team leader wants, and don't complain so much. Is that too much to ask?

I hate to harp on this stuff, but every time Iraq war news, Afghanistan war news, or the current administration (and corrupt political leaders) are in the news, I just get irritated about something else. I'll limit today's ranting to the current paragraph.

  • Colin Powell's rationale of why he breaks with the Republican party line.
  • Here's the follow-up on Canadian citizen Maher Arar, who because of irrational fervor to capture terrorists, was secretly renditioned to Syria in September 2002, and tortured in Syria for 10 months on behalf of the U.S. Then after "The Powers that Be" realized that he was a just an innocent computer consultant, and a married father of two children. 10 months of torture, based on no actual evidence, but bad intel. Canada completed a 2 1/2 year inquiry, and just concluded that he suffered as a result of "bad intel". Maher Arar says he was beaten, forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan -- where he never has been -- and then kept in a coffin-size dungeon for 10 months before he was released.

I recently watched a documentary on the Hebrew exodus from Egypt, called The Exodus Decoded, on The History Channel. Executive-produced by James Cameron, the producers dug through scientific and historic facts about the Exodus itself. It was rather interesting. For example, the producers contend that one single event, the volanic explosion on the Greek island of Santorini, resulted in the 10 plagues, and even the parting of the Reed Sea. Yes, Reed Sea, not Red Sea. They did a lot of research at various museums, speak to different types of scientists, archaeologists, etc. A project that covers the historical events, but seeking answers from different perspectives.

On a related note, I saw another show on The History Channel called Lost Worlds. They cover various old civilizations and societies, including what's been referred to as Atlantis. In their research, Atlantis was the center of an empire in the Mediteranean, stretching from the islands of Crete to the Greek island of Satorini. Yes, the same Santorini I mentioned earlier. The center of the empire that has been referred to as "Atlantis" was on Santorini, and lay in the center of the island. When the Santorini volcano erupted/exploded around 1500 BCE, the main city was ground zero of the eruption. It's amazing how this volcanic eruption was a cataclysmic event that redefined that whole region.

We had a long 40 minute wait to eat at P.F. Chang's tonight, so three of us walked over to the nearby Hummer dealership to check out the Hummers. You know, that H2 is kinda cool. If I had a lot of money, I might buy one. If you get the luxury package, it's really comfortable. Of course, it'll cost you about $60,000.


Monday, September 18th 2006

Now I remember why I stopped flying on Sunday nights. By the time you get to the hotel, it's late, you had a crappy dinner at the airport, and you're unbelieveably tired. I had an 8:30pm flight Sunday night, which got to Atlanta by 11pm. My coworker's flight (she was also travelling late) was delayed 2 hours, and got in at 11:30pm. By the time we both met up at the baggage claim, it was nearly midnight. After waiting 25 mins for her luggage, it was 12:30am. By the time we got to Hertz to pick up the car, drove to the hotel 30+ miles away, and checked in. It was 1:30am. I was juiced up, and went to sleep around 3am. Ridiculous.

I'll be onsite here for two weeks. There's no cafeteria here, and there's 11 of us jammed into a conference room. That's the life of an auditor (or consultant.) At least there's a lot of quality food options nearby, including Steak n' Shake, Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits, and Chick-fil-A. A junkfood lover's dream.


Sunday, September 17th 2006

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Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

This crap really burns me up. Author Rajiv Chandrasekaran has written Imperial Life in the Emerald City, which states that above all other goals in rebuilding Iraq loyalty to the Bush administration was the deciding factor. Read the book excerpt on Between the tens of thousands of lives lost (including Iraqi), the few thousand coalition soldiers injured, and taxpayer money spent so far, this is what it call came down to? I want to vomit.

Did you know there's a limit on the number of photos that are posted to a free Flickr account? It's 200 photos, which I reached last week. Now early photos don't show up. My wife is reluctant for me to spend another $25 year for pictures of my thumb. I don't blame her. I'm going to have to drop some inane pictures of my meals, and then sneak the money out of her somehow.

I'm heading to the airport in a few hours. Off to Atlanta, I go. There's wireless in the Marriott, so I'll try blogging in the evenings. I'll be back Friday night.


Wednesday, September 13th 2006

Our sincere condolences to friends Sandhya and Vijay -- their father passed away yesterday.

My Canada audit is just about done. I drafted the audit report in 30 minutes yesterday, and we had the closing meeting today. There's still some leftover odds and ends to finish up, as well as submitting my expense report. I hope to start wrapping those up tomorrow. Onto my next audit in Georgia, which starts on Monday.

I think this is a cool video. A Lego chaingun, which shoots 11 rounds/second. Thanks for the link, Kanishk.

I have a lot of sympathy for all the troops (U.S., British, Canadian, etc.) in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families. What we've asked them to do is risk their lives for our country's goals. What bothers me is how the politicians are politicking, making partisian complaints about each other about who's right and who's wrong. Meanwhile, no one is doing anything, or coming up with real plans, to get the mission accomplished, and get all those people home. You don't play around, and use people.

I have no hope for Iraq. Maybe we'll be successful in Afghanistan, but I feel like civil war is inevitable. And a Shiite theocracy is in the cards. I doubt the war planners had that in mind. Check out this interview with Sadr aide (and big time player) Mustafa Yaqoubi. The whole Middle East is a mess.

I just found out that the Canon Powershot s80 digital camera that we purchased in May 2006 is now discontinued. It's a great camera! I contacted Canon, and they said there are new successor models coming out to replace it. Grumble, grumble.

I've been doing this 7:30am - 4:30pm schedule all last week, trying to see if I could do it regularly. I can, but I'm so tired in the morning. I'm so not a morning person.


Thursday, September 7th 2006

I'm so glad it's Thursday.

One of my friends may have contracted Lyme disease. We're waiting for them to get the blood test results back on Monday.

I watched Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children on DVD (borrowed from my friend Kanishk.) See my review on the right.

Mental note: annuities are probably not a good idea. And my investment advisor at the bank was pushing me to get one last year. Hmm, thanks for nothing.

Pakistan's rape laws suck. Very unfair, and I don't very much like the politicians there either.

I added two more MOBLOG photos. Call me crazy.


Monday, September 4th 2006

Holy cow, I only had six blog entries during the entire month of August. Egads, that has to be a new record for me. Or a low point. Truly, it was a testament to how busy last month was for me. This month should be better. I'm working on new Moblog photos to upload. I've also published new photos for July, August, and September. See two photos from the July 27th 2006 dept bowling team-building activity, a few new July & August 2006 Family photos, and some recent photos from this past Labor Day weekend.

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Raj & I bowling for morale
Painting the master bedroom
The Knapiks take over

Sorry Vib & Deepa -- due to the perfect storm of sick baby, bad weather (Ernesto), and mucho traffic on the road, we missed their wedding this past Saturday night. I spoke to my friend Kenar, and he said the wedding was great, so that's all that really matters. We've never been MIA to a wedding before, so I hope this never happens again. Obviously, we've gone through the pain of organizing a wedding, and to see that money wasted is very frustrating. We feel really bad. :(

This weekend, we had some of Num's family from Virginia stay over Friday night. My wife did a lot of cooking.

Now that fieldwork on my audit is officially over, I'm currently in documenting mode. The report has to come out Sept 29th, so I hope I'm not tardy with it. To celebrate, my little family of 3 went to Applebee's for lunch today. I gotta say the Apple ChimiCheescake was great.


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