Friday, June 12, 2009

Uniquely Refreshing Ideology

Reading all kinds of non-fiction and non-science books, literature, articles and websites is one of my big passions. Recently I came across The Voluntaryist Website, which presented a totally ideology to me. The idea and thought of Voluntaryism. Feeling interested I browsed through the site reading the various articles posted online. The site belongs to the Voluntaryist newspaper which propagates the idea of Libertarianism or voluntaryism, meaning live freely and responsibly. Voluntaryists don't want government or any other body controlling their freedom and tell them what to do or what not to do.

One of the articles in the website defines freedom as a "Mental condition - a condition of the spirit". Another article on the website by Carl Watner describes the Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 and how the US Government handled the situation.

It is a different thing whether I agree with the idea of Voluntaryism or not, but one thing I definitely say is that this website is a treasure trove of human knowledge and everyone interested in free society, true liberty and responsibility must read it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Campus Rumpus

Summer classes started on Monday and things have become atrociously busy since then. Six hours of classes every evening with at least one quiz, test or exam every day. This semester is short, just five weeks, 20 days of classes and in that we need to cover 10 quizzes, 5 tests, 3 exams and one comprehensive final exam. What does this mean? 18 out of 20 days we will be having something or the other. The only way to excel or get an A grade is to obtain 90-100 in every one of the test, quiz or exam.

When I first started college in the US last year somethings were shocking. For one thing students never address professors as sir/ madame, it was by their name. On the contrary some professors address students as sir and madame. Something almost impossible in India... at least in my college days.

When I told people that I was studying, they would ask me "Which school do you go to?" Initially I wondered whether I look like a high school kid or are they pulling my leg. But later I came to know that here, a university is referred to a school and a PhD research scholar is also going to "school".

Students come in and go out of classes whenever they please, no need to ask permission of the faculty.

Most students come into class carrying bottles of cool drinks, tall mugs of coffee/ tea, snack boxes, sandwiches, etc. Classes are like picnic spots, students can eat, drink, chew gum, etc. The only requirement is to listen to the lecture and not disturb other students. Even professors bring drinks and sip on during the lecture. This never happened in India. I remember in my college days if anyone was found eating in class, he/ she would be sent out.

There are hundreds of similar differences I could write about. For now this is enough I guess. Would like to know your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Harley Davidson - My Dream Motorcycle

Every biker's dream would be to own a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The deep throaty thumping beat of the motorcycle generates flutters in everyone's heart. I have been attracted to this big V-twin motorcycle ever since my teen years. At that time I was in India and it was impossible to even see a Harley, let alone ride or own one. But being a great fan of this legendary motorcycle, I bought several Harley Davidson Accessories such as a jacket, key chain, cigarette lighter, etc.

I moved to the US 18 months ago and now I live in Texas, the big state where one can ride motorcycles almost round the year. Here is where I got an opportunity to ride a Harley and also visit a showroom. I now understand that the cost of owning a Harley is quite high. Buying a new Harley is quite expensive and in this country, insuring one is even more expensive. Then there is the cost of maintenance. HD Parts can be expensive if bought at the wrong place.

One thing I must say here is that Texas is definitely an out and out Harley Davidson state. On clear days one can see hundreds of Harley riders enjoying their ride on the highways. These guys attired in leathers, astride on gleaming motorcycles, ride on without a care in the world enjoying the sun and winds blowing against their faces. Sometimes I do stop by and have a chat with the owners of these beautiful motorcycles.

Somehow or the other the topic moves to maintenance and I have gathered that most people don't patronize a mechanic or repair shop. They work on their motorcycles and fix problems, if any were to occur. One owner was very candid and said he would simply go online and order Discount Harley Parts because it is a lot faster than fixing a repair appointment and taking the motorcycle to a shop. I guess the high labor costs at official Harley Davidson shops could be quite a deterrent. But looking at the other side, I'd say it gives the owners immense pride to say that the motorcycle is self maintained.

Benjamin Bolger - A Saga of perseverence

There is something special about some people, I guess they are gifted with one special quality, perseverance. This was my first thought when I read about Benjamin B. Bolger, a 33-yr old dyslexic individual who has obtained 11-advanced degrees from the premier universities across the world, including Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard. Being dyslexic his reading and understanding ability is still at grade 5 level. This makes him take much much longer than any normal individual to read through and under the same material.

Bolger was diagnosed dyslexic when he was 2-and-half years old. Since then his parents, especially mother, have been very supportive. They searched around and put him a school which caters to special needs children and when they couldn't find one suitable, they just home schooled him.

The fact that he is a gifted individual became obvious to me when I read that he enrolled into college at 12 years. Despite his dyslexia, he was able to enroll into college at the age of 12 and that is not all, he graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I am sure lot of us would want to be in Bolger's shoes and achieve such grades.

Anyway, I think this guy should be looked up for inspiration by parents with dyslexic kids or even teachers who work with children. This proves that when an individual is under-endowed in one area, he is gifted in some other... it is only a matter finding the area in which he/ she is gifted and work on that.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Head to Branson for a Fun-filled Summer Vacation

Hey friends! Summer is already here and my gosh I still haven't made my travel arrangements. Luckily for me I don't have to make new plans, I have decided to visit Branson, MO and take in the fantastic festivities and shows that is on offer there. My New York-based friend is going to book ouaccommodations at the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing and all I have to do is to pack my bags and get onto a plane that will get me to Branson. I am all the more thrilled because I am staying at a hotel which is close to the center of all action. I will have easy access to all the shows, museums and other attractions of the Midwest's entertainment capital.

Now isn't that cool, enjoying summer vacation at Branson, where all the action happens. I have told you all what I am going to do this summer, now it is upto you to decide and if you want to join me and my friends, book your accommodations immediately at Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. We could hang out together and enjoy a great summer.

The reason why I insisted on staying at one of the Hilton hotels is because, they provide access to every conceivable attraction in Branson. Shops, restaurants, boutiques, river walk, tourist attractions and even a beautiful golf course. Now that is what I call real enjoying a holiday. With all luxury and facilities at our beck and call, the days in Branson would be packed and relaxed.

Whenever I visit Branson I look forward to their live entertainment and theaters. Of course there are other attractions such as the Father's Day Salute, Annual Clown Jam, etc. I hear that there are 49 live entertainment theaters in Branson, I have been to three and would love to take in the remaining 46 or at least three more in my next visit. My most favorite attraction in Branson, continues to be the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, a great family attraction. I simply feeding the fish and watching gobbling down the fish food. The guides out there are simply cooperative and they will talk to you and explain interesting features about the fish.

So are you coming to Branson with us this year? If you are still contemplating, the special packages offered by the Hilton hotels in Branson should convince you to vacation there this summer. Check it out and you will definitely create memories this summer.


Re-discovering Kannada Movies

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is a common saying that people use while talking about their loved ones, especially when they are away. It is true we miss our loved ones when they are not with us. Having moved from Bangalore to Dallas, I miss my parents and my home town. But after moving here one thing I find myself missing is Kannada films. That is surprising because back in Bangalore I rarely watched movies and Kannada movies were only on TV and probably one in a few years.

But having moved here I began to miss Kannada films and that is when I started searching online to watch movies in my mother tongue. I agree the films are not as well made as Hollywood flics or even Bollywood movies. But nevertheless there is some strange joy when I watch these Kannada movies. Even though the, barring a few, heroes look like ogres and heroines are almost always garishly made up, making them look more like vamps than heroines.

Anyway the purpose of posting this was to drive home the point that when one is away from an object of affection, be it an individual, vehicle, language or place, it is highly possible that the love for that something will increase multifold. This will make us do things which we would normally not do. In my case watching Kannada movies.

Speeding up your computer!

I have been using computers since the past 15 years, both for work and for personal use. Over the years the bulky desktop computer has made way for sleek and light laptops and tablet computers. But advancement in technology has come with its own problems, memory issues, compatibility, software upgrades, new operating systems, etc.

In my previous PC the most frequent problem I used to face was shortage of memory. The moment I started multi-tasking by opening more than 5 windows the computer would become painfully slow. Those were frustrating days and the only way to fix the issue was to spend hundreds of $$s and expand memory. A few years ago Microsoft came out with, what it claimed to be a radical change in operating system. The Windows Vista was launched and the geek in me wanted it so I bought it and installed it on my computer.

The frustration began then, slow speeds, frequent crashes and painstakingly slow operating system. I was desperately trying to get it fixed and approached several technology professionals and the standard quote was that they would charge $50 just to look at and diagnose problems in my computer. I felt let down.

A few days ago I came across this fantastic solution online. This group offers a great software solution to improve our productivity. Their promise: 30 seconds is all it takes to increase power and productivity by 500%. Well even if they live up to their promise by half i.e. improving my productivity by 250% I'd be overjoyed.

The price for this is just $12.95 and there is a money back guarantee too. The next time I have a problem with my PC I know where to go to improve my computing experience without spending hundreds on memory. I can finish my work faster and accomplish more.


Weekend Picnic: Visit to an Automobile Junkyard

Yesterday we did something totally outrageous and sort of adventurous. We went to an automobile junkyard looking for a set of good used tires for our Toyota 4 Runner. After visiting couple of junkyards and looking at what they have to offer, we simply decided to forget all about it and buy brand new tires from Firestone or some such store.

Thousands of dead cars, awaiting a decent funeral. Being mauled and molested even after their demise...

The first place we visited was a U-pull it yard. What does that mean? Well simply put, it is a vast area.. maybe 40-50 acres of open space piled up with crashed, trashed and junked cars of all perceivable models, makes, sizes, shapes and colors. One has to pay $1 to enter inside and pull out anything from any car out there, come out pay for it and take it home. In a nutshell, I'd call this place as a big graveyard for cars and a few motorcycles. People come here and salvage the parts they need and repair their cars cheaper.

Parking lot or a stack of crashed cars?

Anyone who is proud of their car and feels like a king behind the wheel should not visit this place. The once proud boy toys lie in mangled heaps all over the place. There are ice-cream vending vehicles, automobile maintenance vehicles gone into disuse, church vans and many more.

Once Proudly owned and lovingly maintained cars.. now nothing but a stack of sheet metal..

There's beauty at the far end of the junk yard... a quaint lake with beautiful bird life. But I wonder how long the lake is going to live? As Americans use and crash more cars, many more are going to end up in places like this and when space becomes scarce, the first thing to get hit is the creek. I hope it doesn't happen.

Nature thrives, where human beings don't meddle... even in junk yards