Friday, December 06, 2002

My 100 days of Blogging :-)

Lets just go back 500 odd years in time and its astonishing how fast mankind has developed and degraded itself. No no this is not another one of my rants but I am just amused. Let me take you through a few things that happened on Dec 6th over the years.

In 1492 after months of sailing on the sea Columbus heard the sweet words "Land Ahoy!" just when he was about to succumb to his own doubts about reaching India. Instead of landing on our nation Columbus had landed on Haiti at Môle Saint Nicolas. In 1631, when the whole world would crucify anyone who opposed the Ptolemic view that Earth was the center of the Universe, Johnes Kepler along with his colleagues Galileo first sighted the predicted transit of Venus.

In mid eighteenth century our country was already in a turmoil with all kings fighting each other making it convenient for the British to land. And in 1756 British troops under Robert Clive occupy Fulta India. But education and knowledge continued to flourish. In 1768 the first edition of "Encyclopedia Brittanica" published in Scotland. While in 1833 HMS Beagle the vessel that Charles Darwin voyaged in and around Rio de la Plata embarked on its return journey. Darwin had made significant discoveries but only to be ridiculed as the 'monkey man' when he got home. We were not the only country facing turmoil. Despite America having enjoyed nearly a 100 years of freedom there were civil wars within. One thing that cooled the temper was the ratification of 13th Amendment in 1865 and thereby abolishing slavery.

Moving on to 20th century, in 1922, the first commercial electric power line company under the brand of General Electric started to supply power to homes. While in 1956 Nelson Mandela & 156 others arrested for political activities in South Africa. America was not that bothered about others wars then except that it wanted to go one up over USSR in space race. In 1957 1st US attempt to launch a satellite fails-Vanguard rocket blows up but a year later in the US lunar probe Pioneer 3 reaches 107,269 km and falls back. The first object to sniff space.

Coming to India the infamous episode in 1992 when over 300,000 Hindus destroyed the Ayodha Mosque of Babri India; riots followed. And today situation remains tense as self-declared hardcore Hindu's celebrate the anniversary.

All these things happened on December 6th. And today, on December 6th, I complete 100 days of Blogging. Another significant milestone in the sands of time ;-)

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Dine another day

Yesterday I went to meet the management of a software company at Nottingham to get a feel of their products and services. Yes it's the same Nottingham that was famous for Robin Hood and his Merry Men. In total about 10 of us analysts went to see the company and we were pleased with what they had to tell us. But the best part of the whole visit was the post noon session - when the company had hosted a bit of entertainment for us. One of them was clay pigeon shooting and the other was off-road 4x4 driving.

Around half past noon we all got into a bus-coach and headed to Derby which is about half hour ride. From there we took a detour to The Yeaveley Estate which is nudged between the rolling hills of East Midlands. The weather was cloudy and by the time we got into our civvy clothes it had started to drizzle. But that didn't dampen our spirits. We headed straight to the mounds from where we could do a bit of shooting.

I had never done clay pigeon shooting before but I had seen it in Olympics. I wondered how in the world could someone shoot a disc flying so far and so fast in just on shot. I had doubted that I could get a shot, even if I had a machine gun firing rapidly. We were first taught the basics of handling a shot-gun (I didn't need that coz I have used shot gun back in the village where we hunt wild pigs - don't worry we have forest office licence). Then we were on our own - facing a large green field. There were three types of shooting - disk moving from behind me and into the horizon, disk moving from left to right, and disc coming from horizon staright at me. And I played my shots in that order.

The guns were heavy - heavier than the one I use back home and much heavier than long range rifles. We used the 16 calibre bullets. The first shot I fired missed the target as it flew away before I could even pull the trigger. A bit of advice from the estate manager and I got into position again. Since I knew the trajectory by now I was more cautious. **Bang!** The disc shattered :-) And then it went on bang bang bang ... some I missed and some I hit. But I got the hang of it. My weakest division was when the disc flew right over me because I just couldn't lift and chase the gun fast enough.

From there we went and got into 4x4 Range Rover vehicles. It had been pouring heavily for last 24 hours and so the tracks were all slushy and slippery. But that won't stop a freak like me ;-) I just pumped in the revs and went for it. At one point I skidded so much down the slope that I thought I would crash into the tree but I stopped just 2ft from it. Shaken but not stirred :p

The day ended with all of us heading to the country pub within the estate. We had a lovely hot meal and apple pie and toffee for desert. I could barely lift myself at the end and our hosts asked us to stick around for another couple of hours and we could all enjoy dinner at the city. But we were all tired and wanted to head back to London before it got too late. But I don't like putting off dinner invitiations and so I told them let's dine another day :-)

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Golden words

Have you ever seen a movie so many times that you know each and every dialogue by heart? You can probably lip-sync the entire movie so perfectly that sometimes you wonder why is it that you can't remember Newton's laws in such a word-perfect manner despite having to mug it a few zillion times.

The first time we got a TV & VCR in our house was in 1984. It was the year of Olympics in Los Angeles. It was also the year when for the first time our country broadcasted the TV signals to the entire nation and a few bit and pieces of live action. My dad had bought the TV and VCR just a month or so before it all began and the first movie we watched was a Kannada movie. Then my cousin got us our own copy of 'Mackenna's Gold' - starring Gregory Peck and Omar Sheriff. It's one of the best movies that I have ever seen and later on I found out that the whole thing was shot inside the Hollywood sets. Over the years I saw this movie probably a 100 times or more and my flatmate gets amused when I repeat word for word when it comes on TV. Of course whenever I see that much gold (a whole mountain), I sometimes wish I had 1% of that :-))

Speaking of Gold, why is it that it is valued so much? Ok I know the answer - scarcity. Today gold is valued and respected so much that currencies and commodities all have the backing of bullion. If a government wants to print money it should keep aside a similar value of gold. Remember how in the balance of payment crisis of 1989 we had to send two shiploads of gold to UK in order to get foreign currency? Now I wonder, what if someone comes up with a huge cache of gold on one fine morning? Or someone deciphers Leonardo Da Vinci's formula to turn lead into gold? The market would be gutted with so much gold that the entire economies, stock markets, and everything else would instantly collapse because there is no collateral backing. What a scary thought!

Did you know that when Napoleon won his first war he celebrated his victory by eating his food from aluminium plate and spoon, while his other generals ate from gold plates? This was because in those days aluminium was so scarce that it was valued more than gold. Look what a couple of centuries have done to the value of aluminium. Gold has held its value for thousands of years but will it ever suffer the fate of aluminium - only time can tell.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Train Trivia

Kinda busy today. Monday morning and its the week after the Thanksgiving. So we have to analyse how the retail sales over this weekend went- which are considered the lead indicator to X-Mas sales. So that is going to take up much of my morning. Before that I thought I would put a small post on my blog. Actually its a trivia that has bothered me the whole weekend and I don't seem to have cracked the answer for it yet. So I thought - since all my friends are wise and knowledgeable ;-), I would put the question to them.

Do you know how the trucks or tractor tyres just spin in the same place and raise dust when they are in a situation where they have to pull something heavier behind them? In my village I notice that often. Our tractors get stuck in paddy fields and we usually get another tractor to come pull it out. But even in first gear sometimes the pulling tractors just skid and rotate in the same area.

Now why doesn't this happen with trains? Why doesn't the engines wheels spin in the same place? How come it can pull the entire band of thirty odd wagons behind it, all weighing tons, in just one heave-ho? I mean it doesn't even skid one bit! To top it both the train engine's wheels and the track are really smooth. Anyone know the answer? :-)
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