For mine is a generation that circles the globe in search of something we haven't tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite, and never outstay your welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience, and if it hurts, you know what? It was probably worth it.
Thanks to the few of you who e-mailed asking about my safety after the earthquake and resulting floods. I was many, many miles away and deep inland when it happened.
My parents have commented that it's a good thing we cancelled our plans to meet up in Phuket, Thailand for Christmas. Here are some photos a tourist took in Phuket during the tidal wave - What I like about these pictures is that they show the secondary waves coming in and then receeding. So the first wave is probably really terrifying, but these secondary ones - you can anticipate them, and you can probably run from them, by there's not a lot you can do to protect your physical property. the password is abc123
I spent Christmas at the Taj Mahal.
Agra is a very old, very historical and very crowded Indian city. Even though there are no tall buildings to block your view, the great white structure is not apparent as you approach on foot. Cars are not allowed within a few kilometer radius, so I had to walk. The entryway makes a turn and suddenly, for the first time, I saw the Taj Mahal and it took my breath away. My heart is fluttering even now as I remember. It sounds silly, but this building really did knock me on my feet.
Seeing it later in the day, from an elevated distance upriver at the Red Fort of Agra - The fort can be more accurately described as a walled palatial city, helped me to appreciate the Taj Mahal even more and to solemnly conclude that it is the single most impressive architectural structure I have ever witnessed. The best description I have read simply called the Taj Mahal a "teardrop in time." And that it is.
I should instead say that I spent December 25th at the Taj Mahal, because Christmas is a time for family and a time for friends, and I didn't have that this year. On Christmas Eve I happened to see a big party in Delhi that was broadcast on television. Lots of young, drunk Indian urbanites were ringing in the Christmas holiday with songs of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and plenty of trashy Jingle Bells renditions. They were drunk and very sloppy, and I wanted to barf, because it seemed so strange to see people getting drunk and smoking cigarettes and wearing slutty clothes to celebrate Christmas. For my Indian friends, maybe it would be like if I held a big Diwali rave in San Francisco and passed out little orange ecstacy tablets with a black ॐ on them.
I mean, it's great that people are celebrating Christmas abroad, but I didn't want to have anything to do with it this year. So I went to Agra and as I walked around these huge castles and monuments of history, I thought a lot about big projects. Big projects that take a really long time to finish. I thought about what sort of things I want to work on over the next ten or twenty years, and I tried to get excited about the future again.
I have been in New Delhi for a day now and spent the last ten hours seeing LOTS of city sights on a grand tour from Rao Travel Company. The city is called Delhi, and that includes both Old Delhi and New Delhi. Tomorrow we start staying in Old Delhi. It's amazing how different this place is from Mumbai. I've seen a lot of big roads and (relatively) clean streets. The weather is wonderfully brisk. Automobile traffic seems to actually work here, a clear benefit of the British planning this city when they moved the capital from Calcutta decades ago.
One of the cooler places we visited was the Bahai House of Worship. If you want to reach me or Akshay, here's our Delhi number- 9891255693.
I am going to Delhi for a few days. Akshay is coming along, as his grandparents live in the city proper. We are taking a train and it is a long way This link goes to a map at LonelyPlaet. Just because I link to LonelyPlanet doesn't mean I am carrying their guidebook, you hipster too-cool-for-guidebook person you. - probably twenty or thirty hours. One confirmed ticket, and one standby between the two of us. This will be my first big trip out of Maharastra, India.
I'm really excited to get out of my comfort zone again. As soon as I told Akshay as much, he put me on a second-class train back from the main terminal in Mumbai. I've probably been pushed and shoved and cramped and stepped on enough for a few days now, thank you very much.
I worked with a programmer, let's call him Andrew, on a project last month. Andrew lives in Kiev, Ukraine and even though our time zones were different, we were making progress towards fixing a strange memory leak in the application. But about two weeks ago Andrew disappeared! Not on-line and no word from him on e-mail. Today he signed on to AIM for the first time and said that he "had been doing political things" for the past two weeks.
Nick Gray WFU: hey Andrew, how's it going? I haven't seen you on-line lately
iConsultant biz: i'm participating in political activities here
Nick Gray WFU: can you tell me a little bit about the situation there in Kiev? what sort of political stuff have you been doing?
iConsultant biz: actually we have two candidates for President position. One is a "successor" of current power, he has 2 criminal records and cannot write a word without 1-2 mistakes. Also he wants Ukraine to move towards Russia (he promised to make Russian an official language here and allow double citizenship with Russia)
iConsultant biz: his name is Victor Yanukovich. Now he's a premier-minister. Second candidate is Victor Yuschenko. He is a very talented banker, one of the world's six best bankers in 1997. He stands up for democratic ideas and moving towards Europe, integrating into EU etc, although he was a premier-minister in 2000 and managed to make couple mistakes at that time
iConsultant biz: Actually I don't know any person here who supported Yanukovich: no one wants to join the Russian empire nor see an illiterate criminal as a president. However after elections current state power announced that he is a winner. But it seems like people didn't vote for him. There are tons of evidences that there were grave infringements during elections. For example, in some cities 110% of inhabitants has voted for Yanukovich :-)
Nick Gray WFU: and then the KGB poisoned Yuschenko, right?
iConsultant biz: Well, I don't know. But Russian special forces seem to be involved.
iConsultant biz: And then people just came out in the streets to protest. It was expected that protests will grow into bloodshed however there were no confrontation at all because there are actually no opponents at all: everyone want the same :-)
iConsultant biz: I have participated in protests couple days. Now I'm registering as an official observer for next elections. (previous elections are canceled by supreme court)
That's his real AIM name - iConsultant biz - so feel free to chat him up and encourage the democracy in Ukraine.
In continuing with the vidbits theme, here are some random video clips I took recently in Pune, Maharashtra, India.
Shoutouts to this awesome dashboard development team, who treated me in mid-November to fast broadband and great lunches for a week. We're standing outside of a restaurant that I will remember for its terribly spicy apetizer. It was a dark brown beverage, filled with strange green leaves that would quickly make me feel like my ears were coughing out fire.
Some satellite news from DailyWireless:
The first flight of Boeing's new heavy-lift rocket was scrubbed to allow pad engineers time to work through a computer glitch. Boeing's Delta 4 Heavy rocket, the largest of its Delta 4 family, was reset to launch Sunday at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
With its three-engine common booster core, the Delta 4 Heavy rocket is capable of carrying payloads up to 28,124 pounds (12,757 kilograms) into orbit. The DemoSat and two Nanosat-2 satellites together weigh about 13,500 pounds (6,123 kilograms).
But nobody cares -- "There is no demand for a big launcher right now or in the next five years," said Phil McAlister, an industry analyst.
Elon Musk to save the day! If he can do to the space industry what PayPal did (is doing?) to banking... touche.
"Among Chuang-tzu's many skills, he was an expert draftsman. The king asked him to draw a crab. Chuang-tzu replied that he needed five years, a country house, and twelve servants. Five years later the drawing was still not begun. "I need another five years," said Chuang-tzu. The king granted them. At the end of these ten years, Chuang-tzu took up his brush and, in an instant, with a single stroke, he drew a crab, the most perfect crab ever seen."
When a client proves refractory,
Show a picture of his factory.
If the boss still moans and sighs,
Make his logo twice the size.
But only in the direst cases
Ever show the clients' faces.
Another quote from the ancient Iacocca biography. Besides, here's my reading list of late:
There's a cute picture of a leopard on the front page of the newspaper here in Pune, India. He was captured on the outskirts of town after several neighborhood dogs went missing. Leopards are a fact of life around here - usually inciting fear as they come down from the hills to look for food. But sometimes they can make great friends Leopard befriends cow in Gujarat village - Official: "They approached each other at very close proximity and the fearless cow would lick the leopard on its head and neck."!
The mall, partly done by the Atlanta-based firm of Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart and Stewart, stems from the Communist Party's push for a "xiao kang" society, a term that picks up traditional Chinese dreams of prosperity - a car in every garage, a chicken in every wok.
For more China reading, see The Perils of Pat - Yes, huge mistakes were made and hundreds of millions of dollars were lost. Yes, China's banking sector is "a cock-up of truly astronomical proportions". And yes, joint-ventures were probably never a good way to go..
Charlie Beacham would preach against being a one-man band. "You want to do everything yourself," he used to say. "You don't know how to delegate. Now, don't get me wrong. You're the best guy I've got. Maybe you're even as good as two guys put together. But even so- that's still only two guys. You've got a hundred people working for you right now. What happens when you get ten thousand?"quoted from an old copy of Iacocca that I found here
The Tao of Soldiering - I spent an enormous amount of my military career as a private. I took out the trash and mopped the floor. Now that I'm a sergeant, I want you to shut the fuck up and continue sweeping, is that clear?
I want to write The Tao of International Urban Travel by 2010
My daughter made them with her bare hands!
These sweets are covered in a thin silver foil. Silver is good to eat for your health.
Try this- it's good luck.