Friday, April 18, 2014

Road Trip - San Diego

Named for a Spanish saint, San Diego is the birth place of modern state of California on the western coast of the United States.  This spring break we took the highway (I-5) paralleling the old King's Highway or El Camino Real to visit this wonderful piece of real estate along the Pacific.  Back in the late 1700's it was considered New Spain.

Those Europeans knew how to spend their time during the 1500 - 1800s setting out on long voyages to "discover new worlds".  Now we go to the moon or something boring.

On one such discovery voyage a Portuguese called Juan Cabrillo took off from the Mexican west coast and sailed up to discover new lands and ports.  He found San Diego and continued up to discover Monterey and then Point Reyes north of the Golden Gate.  They missed  finding San Francisco in their travels.

After a few centuries another Spaniard called Gaspar Portola took a bunch of soldiers and set out from the south west coast of Mexico to subsequently also hit on San Diego and establish a fort there.

This visit we skipped the usual hot spots like the San Diego zoo but instead spent some time in the area surrounding it that contains the zoo as one of the attractions.  This 1,200 acre park is called Balboa Park.  Located in the heart of the city it encompasses a number of museums, an open air organ (this term has always fascinated me - I thought of it as someone's lung or pancreas on display) which is a wind instrument made of pipes and keys to push air through them.

We took in vast botanical gardens and enjoyed the sounds of this so called Organ, which happens to be second largest in the world (for the number of pipes).  The largest rightfully sits in Vienna someplace. 

Other attractions were beach bound - this one of a regular seal with an albino version chilling out...

Notice the bum on the bottom right - also immitating the seals in the earlier pic..some life!

Bottom pic is Hermosa Beach closer to LA.

New foods were discovered as part of this adventure from more fusion Japanese to fresh Mexican with a twist - a good twist - the cactus and fish tacos we had were delish.

Also found a Cuban bakery on the drive back, closer to L.A and feasted on variety of baked treats that lasted us the remainder of the week.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Where are you from?

Not in an existential type of way but it is probably the third or fourth question I get asked in a social or work setting when I run into someone I have not met before.

So I thought about the blog I recently penned around 'identity' and it hit me that people are always trying to figure out a social connection when they ask this question.  Sometimes it appears they are reaching even if there is none. 

The 'where' in the question is really about 'who', as in who are you?  Can I feel comfortable around you?  Are you someone I could trust (if it is a long term deal they are looking at)?  Can I perhaps leverage our new formed relation to parlay for something else?

I suppose its natural to some more than others to probe thusly.  It is a matter of what their social upbringing has taught them.  It might well set the stage of how someone perceives you from that point forward.

I often think of various possible responses that may include -
  • I am from the ghetto (as a minority in a land that is foreign)
  • I am from a legacy of brilliant minds that once occupied a seat at the king's table in ancient India
  • I am from all over
  • I am a citizen of the world
Of course this question is responded to differently depending on which part of the world I find myself in and who the askor of the said question itself is.

In America there is also a phrase oft heard - knowing where he was coming from.  To me it first sounded like an intruder tiptoeing into a venue where the occupant was bound to react suddenly.

But that phrase merely attempts to define the source of someone's comment or question.  Much like where does the Nile come from?  Or, where does the chick come from?

Now that you know where I am coming from perhaps you can go away and do something more fruitful.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


The opposite of ironclad is not ironies (ease).

You run after money when you don't have it. You run to keep in shape when you have too much of it.

A prenup for a breakup is now common place even in places like India where the whole premise of getting married is to have and to hold (much like a car reservation).

A chemically induced high is often followed by a non chemically induced low.

Boeing built a much cheaper commercial 777 jet that did a more amazing job of vanishing (with 300 people) without a trace and staying hidden for a month compared to a $2B Lockheed stealth fighter that only carries two people.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Is it a Game?

Life?  I think it is.  I mean there are so many metaphors we see used that it would be a shame to not think of it as such.   In the ballpark to out of left field to getting dealt a poor hand.

It is a game made up of the bookends called Birth and Death.  First you arrive, then you live and finally you die.  Trick is in figuring out how you live.  Birth and Death are both accidents with really no way to predict - at least for yourself.

You can sort of tweak the end but ultimately you cannot predict it.  So best case - try and live.

Now on the matter of living - there are unwritten rules that one has to follow.  How does one go about figuring out the unwritten?  I mean its not exactly some hieroglyph somewhere that one could decipher.

You use your smarts.  That is the genetic stuff you arrive with.  As you grow you learn.  More you learn the more you know.  So grow to know.  The unwritten rules that is.

Some people become successful in the eyes of others, who may or may not be.  But that is one man made notion that has gained huge traction - success.  No one actually can define it but it has come to define civilization since the beginning of the beginning.

The philanthropes to me are the ones who help the less endowed with smarts get smart.  So they too can figure out the rules.  Level the playing field (again for the game that is being played).

Figuring out what you want to be is one of them.  There is no right answer.  There is no help.  Everyone does it in the end.  They make choices.  Those are based on unwritten rules.

These rules take you through the hills and vales of the road in the game of life.  Until the Dead End.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Forty Chances

I recently read a book titled 'Forty Chances' written by Warren Buffett's son, Howard Buffett.  It is interesting or ironic how I qualified his name by associating it to his famous father.  He may not want to be remembered as such.

There is something about the genetic lottery (as Warren himself is known to refer), that identifies a person for who they are and what they likely become.  In case of Howard, it was indeed a fortunate accident to be born to one of the world's wealthiest people.

Not to take anything away from what this son has accomplished inspite of this notoriety, is what is captured in this book.  I like the metaphor used in the writing of the book.

It is about any human that is born on this earth having approximately forty good years to do what they are able to before its time to go.  Howard uses the theme to talk about forty crop cycles on a farm that an average farmer can tinker with and influence before he gets it just right to optimize production and best possible yield.

The book largely focuses on the disconnect between food growers and consumers, or in some cases the net surplus and net deficit facing the world's populations.  Africa is a big part of the story in this book with the majority of world's malnourished citizenry facing imminent threats.

He will lead Berkshire after Warren is done and will have tremendous influence on how wealth distribution logistics could be handled to improve quality of life for the most needy.

It is indeed strange to see how religion and beliefs in god and other abstract ideas have been manipulated to steal from people or make them subservient all over the world.  Lack of basic necessity in large chunks of populations is exposed through an old camera lens as the second story line in this book.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I recycle with Jesus

I have not changed my religion.  In fact I am not equipped to quite understand or follow any man made rules or regulations and therefore am a default irreligious atheist.  Its just that when I take my recyclable containers to exchange for their paid value I hand them containers to a guy called Jesus.

That's right.  The recycle station is run by Jesus.  Heysoos more like - kind of like Seuss but with a Hay in front of it (or a Hey).

He is an extermely extroverted, middle-aged, Latino that loves to gamble.  That is what I know about him so far.  He also tries to help me with my pokito Espanol (little bit of Spanish that I claim to speak).  We count the bottles together from uno to cincuenta or so.

He mans the booth for around 8 hours a day for 5 days a week for the entertainment value he told me.  He does not need the money he says.  I have not figured out what that means.   Of course it might mean that he somehow has overcome the adage that the house always wins.  Or that some old uncle left him a rancho some place with enough crops that can feed him.  He does reside in an agrarian part of the state which is a good 50 miles away from where he works.  So that too is puzzling.

Why would someone want to hump that far for a minimum wage job?  May be he really comes for the show (largely smug rich people careening through a parking lot full of gigantic vehicles) and lends a hand to the prevention of adding more hydrocarbons and metal to the soil we call home.

If that is the case then I have to admit 'Jesus saves' (us from ourselves)!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

100 years later

Wonderful premise to write any story you want and claim its quite possible it might be so.  Who is going to argue?  Even if they did its only an opinion.

So today I watched DIVERGENT (the movie) - with my adolescent daughter who is already a fan of the Hunger Games trilogy.   She made it a point to watch it as soon as she had put down the book version of this story a day ago.

So we all did.  And while the characters are watchable the premise leaves you thinking about what you really did for the two hours in that dark hall with popcorn eating and gum chewing denizens.

This story is a metaphor for what life actually was 100s of years ago in places like India - it was called the Caste System where labor and lifestyle was divided based on some kind of innate ability to perform a function - and do so well.  Potters never went to battle and Warriors never took to Professorial duties.  Each to his or her own and it functioned in an orderly manner or so I was told - when my grandmother narrated some tales of Yudhishthira, Lord Krishna, Chokha Mela, Tukaram et al.

We know today that there is no such predefined life path for anyone with a drive and sensibility to achieve what they set their minds to.  Accidents in life certainly play a role in what you do or where you end up.