Monday, December 1, 2008


Thanksgiving 2008

I have lots to be thankful for this year.

A tie for first place is that I am alive to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

The second half of the tie goes to being able to spend the time with my wonderful family.

I am thankful for the good friends that I have.

A minor thing that I am thankful for is the price of gas going down.

I am thankful for living in a country where we have the freedom to write a blog if we so choose.

I am thankful that I have a great job during the global economic crisis that we are experiencing.

When you are feeling down, remember to count your blessings, they far out way your problems.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as reminding them of all the things they have to be thankful for.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Eli Stone

Last night was the first episode of the second season of Eli Stone. For those who don't follow the show, the basic premise is the character Eli Stone is a San Francisco lawyer who starts having visions which leads him to find out that he has a brain aneurysm. His visions lead him to accept cases with little monetary gain but a lot of moral goodness; in short, it leads him to God.

This is a pretty risky show for a big network to take on as it could alienate viewers that don't share the same beliefs. I give ABC kudos for doing so. When shows were being canceled for this season, I was extremely happy to see this show make it for at least a second season. If you can watch the first season and the first episode of this season, I think you will be hooked as well.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as sharing time with them and watching this week's episode of Eli Stone.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Gone to the Movies Lately?

For as much as I like movies, I seldom actually go to the movie theater; I normally don't stay awake during the entire movie.

I don't have a real high standard for movies - if it can take my mind off my troubles for a couple of hours, it did its job and I will classify it as a decent to good movie. If the movie is on a subject that I enjoy and is somewhat accurate, I can classify the movie as good. There are not many movies that I classify as great, even movies that I consider my favorites.

This past weekend I went to see not one, but two movies at the theater. The first one was the Coen Brothers movie, Burn After Reading (BAR). OMG, this movie has to fall into the category of Ishtar and Waterworld as one of the worst movies ever made. BAR used the f-bomb like it were one of the character's names in the movie; and that was not the worst part of the movie. I had a hard time following the storyline; there were a couple of funny scenes at the beginning of the movie, but that was about it. I dozed a couple of times during the movie, which is part of the reason I don't go to the theater very often.

I saved the best for last.

The second movie I saw with my friends was Fireproof. The premise of the movie is a couple's marriage is falling apart and the husband, through the help of his father, starts this 40-day journey to find the true love of God in order to share with his wife and save his marriage.

Fireproof is the first movie that has really moved me in a long time. Needless to say, I did not doze or fall asleep during this movie. It is a religious movie (there I said it) that can get you back on the right path, help you walk the path, or lead you further down the path with God than you have ever been. This is a movie that can change your life for the better if you let it. No matter what state your marriage is in, you need to see this movie.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It can be as simple as taking them to see the movie Fireproof.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bringing Mom to the 21st Century

I recently returned from a trip from visiting my in-laws.

When ever I go to visit the family, I am the resident computer geek. Something on the computer needs to be fixed, updated or configured - "Phillip will fix it." is the normal statement. Any geek worth his salt generally likes to be that guy.

This trip was no different in the demand, but it was very cool for what my mother-in-law wanted. Mom upgraded from a desktop computer to a laptop computer, mostly on her own, but without any help from me since the last time I visited. Way to go Mom.

I brought my Garmin (my hand-held GPS unit) with me, since I can get lost in a brown paper bag. My mother-in-law saw it and saw how easy it was to use that she decided that she thought she wanted one. We went to one of the big stores there and we meandered to the electronics and television department. Mom said that she was interested at getting a flat-screen television; one of the cool factors of shopping for televisions is that most stores have multiple televisions displaying the same show or recorded program so you can see the difference in sets.

Mom found a 32" flat-screen television set that she liked and we asked the associate if there were any in stock; unfortunately, there were none, but we were told to check back on Saturday, as they might get a shipment. We call back on Saturday -no shipment. Mom is resourceful; she has another place she can go to find a good flat-screen. We go to this other place and Mom finds a nice 37" HDTV Toshiba flat-screen that she decides she wants. Mom is still pretty simple, she does not need the very latest and greatest, but she wants something big enough to watch her sports on, especially her beloved NY Yankees. While we are there, she decides that she wants to see if they have a Garmin Nuvi 260W like I have. To her happy surprise they do, so she decides that she is going to get one. So we head home with not only a larger television than she originally thought she was going to get, but also a Garmin. I quickly programmed the Garmin with her home address and set it to go home and Mom used it to get home - if you are looking to get a GPS, I highly recommend Garmin - my friend Ron got me hooked on it. She was a happy camper.

So we get home and my first task is to setup the new television after taking down the old one. For physical tasks, this is pretty easy. Her old 31" CRT is tremendously heavier and bulkier than the new flat-screen television, but still easy enough to move. So the first challenge comes about for connecting the satellite to the new flat-screen and making it work - this should be a no brainer - boy was I WRONG.

Mom has the second connection to the satellite and it operates on channel 73, not the standard 3 or 4 that old cable would use - this still should not be a big deal. I make the physical connection and turn the television to channel 73 - after allowing the set to automatically search for channels. A great big nothing - only gray and white snow on the set. Mom says that she knows the number for the satellite company and calls it. She talks to the guy for about 2 minutes and decides that if she wants it done with the smallest headache that I should talk to the guy, so I do. The guy is pleasant and appears to know what he is doing. He has me go to where the primary satellite hook-up is located and press the menu key and 6-1-5, select the secondary connection, change the channel to 60 and save. He then tells me to go to the secondary set (the new flat-screen set) and change the channel to 60. Voila. Like a champ, it is working.

The problem with a satellite connection is you need to have a receiver for every television in your house, or all the televisions have to display the same show. The reason I mention this is because Mom has a little 19" CRT set in her bedroom that she uses as white-noise to go to sleep. Mom goes into her bedroom to do something and turns on her "little" television - nothing but white-snow. She calls to me and asks what did I do, because she can't watch television in her room now. I do the typical geek thing, scratch my head and say, "hmmm." The first idea that crosses my mind is to turn off the big-screen and perform the same steps I did to get the other television working. [Buzzer sound] Thanks for playing, but you lose is all I get. Ok, I scratch my head a little more and think that the televisions are two different types. So I wonder if I change the channel back to 73 using the main system, if the CRT will work. What do you know - the small CRT works and as expected, the flat-screen does not. I tell Mom I know what the problem is and she has two options - either buy a smaller flat-screen to watch in her room, or go without. Mom has to think about this as she says she only watches about 15 to 30 minutes of shows in her bedroom in order to fall asleep. For the present time - we do nothing for the bedroom.

Earlier, I mentioned that Mom upgraded her computer system to a laptop system. She has an additional keyboard and mouse for the laptop so her great-grandson does not destroy the laptop by banging too hard on the keyboard or touch pad. Another cool -factor about the LCD flat-screen is that it has a VGA connection so it can be used as an additional monitor. The next time we went back to Mom's regular store, I looked around for a male-to-male VGA cable, but there were none to be found. Well, any self-respecting geek knows where he has to go - even though he will seldom admit it - when he needs an electronic part and the regular store does not have one - RadioShack®. So I ask Mom to bring me there and I pick up the part I need. We get back home - using the Garmin of course - and I connect the laptop to the big screen and push a couple of buttons and Mom can now see the laptop screen on her big screen television. She is as giddy as a school girl with her first crush.

One small problem with my setup. Mom is a neat freak and does not like having a mess anywhere. The geek in me has to figure something out so she will use this cool stuff she has.

The next day we are expecting the great-grandson, Anthony, to come over for a visit. Yvonne and I saw some cool 3D chalk one time back home, but have not been able to find it since. Yvonne's twin sister Darlene says that she saw it at Toys R Us. So we all decide that we are going to meet for lunch, but Mom, Yvonne and I will stop off to get the 3D chalk first. When we get to the store, we see a sign on the window that they have WII in stock. Yvonne and I have been trying to buy a WII for months, without any luck because they have been out of stock. I digress; Yvonne and Mom start looking for the 3D chalk and I set out on my own mission to see if they really have WII in stock. Yvonne and Mom have good luck and find the 3D chalk. I in the meantime am still looking for the electronic games section, which I finally find. I ask the associate if they truly do have any WII in stock and she tells me they just got some and they still have some. By this time, Mom and Yvonne found me and Mom says that she wants a WII too. I shake my head in bewilderment wondering not only why does a 72-year-old woman want a WII, but how does she even know what one is. Mom knows exactly what one is and thinks it will be something good for Anthony to use when he comes over - as well as looking really good on her new 37" HDTV. Color me surprised, but she ended up getting one.

While we are in the store, we find out that Darlene is running late, so we can take our time and meet her there in a bit. We have lunch and we head back to Mom's place where my next task is hooking up the WII to her big screen television. Fortunately, there is nothing overly complicated about setting up the WII and we are playing games before long.

Mom decides that she would like to have a television in her bedroom, so we head out to her regular store and start looking at smaller sets. She finds this nice 20" LCD HDTV that is in her price range and they have it in stock. She gets the television and homeward we go for me to setup the new television. The first thing I need to do is disconnect the old CRT television. The challenge in doing this is that the plug for the television is behind her heavy dresser. The dresser is not all that heavy, but it is bulky and challenging to move, as we had to take most items off and make sure the mirror was connected securely,which it was. After getting the old television removed and connecting the new HDTV in Mom's bedroom, I changed the channel to 60 and Mom was again able to watch television in her room in high definition.

While I am unplugging the television, I find that her printer is also connected to the outlet behind the dresser and her USB cable for connecting the printer to the laptop is not nearly long enough to reach the laptop where she currently has her laptop setup so it can connect to the big screen. My mind starts to churn again for a possible solution.

Later in the week, we go to the local mall and start bee-bopping through the mall. Mom decides that she wants to be connected to the internet again so she can make good use of her laptop computer. We cruise the mall and find Mom's phone carrier and ask about getting her connected. For $19.99 a month, Mom can have wireless access to the internet from the convenience of her home. She is sold. The only issue is that hardware is not going to arrive until after Yvonne and I are home. The salesman and I both assure Mom that it is not very difficult to hook up. Again Mom is happy that she has more technology at home.

While we are walking through the mall, I see a computer store that I can peruse to get some ideas to make Mom's life easier with her new technological advances. Since Mom likes to sit in her recliner across the room from her television and do pretty much everything - watch television, make phone calls and take a nap, to name a few of her favorite activities - I figured that her recliner would be a pretty good place for Mom to use her computer as well. I decide that Mom needs a wireless keyboard and mouse so she can use them from the comfort of her recliner and that we can get a longer USB cable to connect to her printer so she can print stuff and not have to worry about trying to move her printer to where her laptop is or vice-versa. She was again giddy with this idea. One final stop at her regular store to get her a laptop desk to put her keyboard and mouse on to use from the comfort of her recliner and life is grand.

Before I left I had to give Mom a tutorial on how to access all of her old and new toys so she could use them. After a couple of times through the list of what to do to access her VCR, DVD, WII, and computer, she was a natural.

On a side note, Mom and I need to have the rubber match game for bowling, as we are tied at 2 games a piece in the best of 5. Mom beat me one game 221 to 183. I need to be on my A-game to beat her.

More on my adventures with my WII at a later time.

Make someones day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple, or complicated, as bringing them up to the 21st century.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Are you a ladder or an "adder"

Sometimes you are the person that is struggling. Other times you are the person that the struggler is going to for help.

When that someone comes to you explaining/complaining about what is happening, are you an adder or a ladder for that person?

An adder is one who throws more gas onto the fire, agreeing with all that the person is complaining about and stokes their emotions, as sort of an emotional support.

A ladder is someone who tries to lift the person out of their predicament by offering words of encouragement and ways to resolve the issue.

Being an adder is really easy. It makes the complaining person feel righteous in their complaint and it makes you feel good because you are standing behind that person.

Being a ladder can be a bit more challenging. It does not mean that you don't support the person that comes to you. It just means that you find ways to make the person truly feel good and productive about themselves. What you say to that person may or may not be receptively received. The person is angry about a situation or another person and wants instant satisfaction and/or gratification. If you disagree with what the person's issue is, the person might walk away without hearing a word you have to say. In the long run though, you are helping the person out far more by being the voice of reason for them and helping them resolve their problem rather than just egging them on.

Being a ladder is not easy.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple (or complicated) as being a ladder for them.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Enjoying or Enduring?

Are you just enduing life? Or are you enjoying life?

Granted, some days are better than others, but everyday has the potential to be a great day.

Some people have their mind preset to expect the best. Having this mindset can make you a self-fulling prophet for the good that happens in your life.

If you fill your mind with at least 80% of good thoughts, the 80/20 rule will work in your favor.

If your mindset is to just get by everyday - you are enduring life.

When you look forward to all the good that is going to happen each day, you are enjoying life.

Life is way too short to endure life. Enjoy life and get the most out of it.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as helping someone enjoy life.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Totem Poles

I was talking to a buddy (Stuart Celarier) at work the other day about work in general. I made a comment to Stuart about where I stood on the totem pole, so he needed to take my comment for what it was worth.

Stuart said that he had to disagree with my place on the totem pole. His point was the totems higher on the pole might be seen more, but without all of the the lower totems, the higher totems would not be the presence that they are. If the base of the totem pole crumbles, the hole pole crumbles.

Garth Brooks has a song entitled Friends in Low Places. I am not exactly sure of the intended meaning of the song, but I like to think that if you want something done, it is better to know people in low places that can actually get the work done than knowing someone at the very top who may or may not have time to try to find someone further down the totem pole to get the task done for you.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as reminding them that they are important to the totem pole even if they are not seen as they are towards the bottom - or on the bottom.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

India - Day 10 (Thursday)

One of the cool things about the Bangalore office is its proximity to many different restaurants all within walking distance. There are numerous different cuisines, so it was not like I had to eat the same kind of food every single day. I think I only ate at the same restaurant, other than eating breakfast at the hotel, one time while I was there.

Today was probably the best food I have eaten so far. We ate at a restaurant called Serengeti that was like eating in a rain forest. The atmosphere was great and the food was even better. The only thing I did not eat were the prawns, which is something I would not eat back home. I tried them just to say I that I at least tried them, but I could not get past the chewing, leathery texture.

One of the items we order was a soup called Murgh Shorba Badami. It was served in a glass (this was the second time I have had soup in a glass, so I was not surprised this time) and it had a good balance of spice and sweetness to make the soup very enjoyable. I think this was Suzy's first soup in a glass, as she seemed a bit surprised as to what was being served.

A couple of different rices were part of the lunch. Both were vegetarian rices (Vamsi is a vegetarian) and both had flavors that did not require meat to make it taste good. I need to find a cookbook that shows me how to make rices like this.

I took a tour around the restaurant to see soak up the atmosphere. The whole restaurant was setup to make you feel like you were in the jungle including waterfalls and streams running throughout the restaurant. There were various semi-animated animals and birds in different areas, but the one that I thought was best was the elephant at the entrance; it was motion activated that would raise its trunk and trumpet whenever anyone walked by. My daughter loves elephants, so it was special to me because it made me think of her.

The rest of the CheckFree team that was touring the different India centers made it to our office later in the afternoon. Like the other sites they saw, they came to see what was happening at the Bangalore office with all the different groups. Each group had a presentation that they gave to the group.

After the presentations were over, we called it a day and went back to the hotel. The CheckFree crew was staying at the same hotel that Suzy and I were staying at, so it made it easy for meeting for dinner. We ended up eating at the cafe at the hotel where we have breakfast each morning. What was kind of interesting though, they seated us at the bar where all the breakfast items are set out, due the large number of people we had in our party.

Today is two days before the elections in Bangalore. The reason I mention this factoid is because starting two days prior to the election through the election day no alcohol is served anywhere in the city legally. This did not bother me at all, because I don't drink, but the majority of the other members of the party were definitely saddened by this. Suzy said that she was very happy she had her beers the previous night at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Dinners were somewhat optional while I have been here because I generally was fed extremely well during lunch that I was not overly hungry come dinner time. Today, was one of those days when I was not overly hungry, so I ordered a four-cheese pizza. The pizza used naan for the crust and there was no mozzarella used at all. The sauce was a light garlic olive oil. For not being very hungry, this was a very good pizza. Suzy was the only person at the table that ordered Indian food. The rest of the party tried their hand at Italian food and most of them found it too spicy to eat; a couple of the ladies sent it back (with a little urging) to get something less spicy - even at that, it was a bit too spicy for them.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as asking the waiter to redo an order because the person is too shy to ask him/herself.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

India - Day 9 (Wednesday)

Today is the day we decided to really go out for dinner; we wanted to go to a place that was not in walking distance of the hotel. We decided that we were going to go to the Hard Rock Cafe. There was a minor problem - the driver had never heard of it and the people he was calling had never heard of it either. Suzy and I could not really figure out how such a big named place was unknown in such a big city. We were about to give up and just head back to the hotel when the driver found someone who not only had heard of the place but knew where it was located. I give Rambas, our driver, credit; he did not give up looking for the Hard Rock Cafe, just because a couple of people had never heard of it.

The Hard Rock Cafe was pretty much what I expected, as it had music blaring (note to self - you are not 19 any more and cannot handle music at decibels that rival a jet airplane) and musical paraphernalia hanging from the walls. The majority of the wait staff looked out of place, except for our waiter. He had the rocker-motif going and he looked like he was supposed to be working at HRC. He spoke with an Indian accent, which is what he should be speaking with since he is from India, but that is the only thing that seemed strange for him. I wanted to take a picture of him because he so looked the part, but I did not want to insult him, so I didn't.

The menu was set to cater to Americans as there were hamburgers and other meals that had beef. The oddity about ordering a hamburger was that it was either 7 ounces or 10 ounces instead of half-pound or 3/4 pound. I ordered the Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger (7 oz.). It was a very juicy burger and very messy. It ended up being a burger that I ate with a fork and knife. I was barely able to finish the burger - it was very big and very tasty; because it tasted so good is why I finished it.

You can't go to a HRC and not get a t-shirt. Remember when I mentioned in a previous blog that I towered over the majority of the people every where I went? They did not have an XXL t-shirt there. When I asked the attendant, she thought I wanted 2 shirts size XL. I did end up buying an XL shirt, as it looked like it would fit me, as long as I never put it in the dryer.

We were done with dinner and my souvenir shopping so we called Rambas to pick us up. He came by shortly thereafter and drove us back to the hotel - all of about 10 minutes away.

Well, after a little research, I found out why no one had heard of the Hard Rock Cafe - it had only been in Bangalore since December 29, 2007. HRC had only been open about 5 months when we went.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as taking them somewhere they would really like to go.

Friday, May 23, 2008

India - Day 8 (Tuesday)

What a difference a day makes. I feel tremendously better today than I did yesterday.

The trip to the office was uneventful, which was a blessing in comparison to the 2-hour trip back to the hotel last night.

No matter how well you try to plan things out during the day, things don't always go the way that you want them to happen. An itinerary was planned out for a couple of days and it was off schedule from the first day.

After work, Suzy said she had some energy and was willing to check out some of places next to hotel. Walking the streets in Bangalore is a challenge as the pedestrians do not have the right of way like they do back home. Fortunately, the walk to the mall was very close.

We checked out the various different restaurants and decided on a Chinese restaurant called Noodles. I think it served Cantonese-style food, as the food centered more around the sweet tastes rather than spicy. Most of the items on the menu I have not seen at the Chinese restaurants back home, but the food was tasty. One idiosyncrasy that I have yet to grow accustomed to at the local restaurants is the staff serving you food all the time. You are not supposed to serve yourself.

We completed our dinner and made our way back to the hotel without anything eventful happening. Suzy says that I am her protector on the streets; I am big enough to scare most people off and since I survived the car accident earlier in the year, the small cars here don't stand a chance.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as having dinner with someone who would normally have to eat alone.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

India - Day 7 (Monday)

Today is the first day that I won't be the only Hillsboro person here at EDC. Suzy, one of my big bosses, came in this morning at about 1:30 AM and we are going to be at the office at 9:00 AM this morning. She gets the same sleep, or lack there of, that I got on my first night in Bangalore.

To the left is a cow walking the streets of Bangalore that I saw from my hotel room window.

Getting to the office was the easy part. Getting back to the hotel was the challenging part. The average time to go from the hotel to the office was about 20 minutes, when there were no special events or cricket matches. Today, there was a cricket match in town. It took us 2 hours to get back to the hotel from the office. And we even left a little earlier than normal; if we left at the normal time, I think it could have taken 3 hours. I don't think this was exactly the experience that Suzy was expecting.

Up to this point, my visit to India was uneventful when it came to health. All was good. Until late this morning. I did not do anything out of the ordinary for me. I ate breakfast - and the only thing that I tried new from any of the other days was an apricot danish. A custodial crew came walking through the office spraying an air freshener today and it was overpowering. By 10 AM I was starting to feel miserable. I was hot and nauseous. The watermelon juice that I had at breakfast was the only thing I could taste. The boss at the office took Suzy and I out for lunch, but I could not eat more than a couple of bites. The waiter brought cool towels for us to wipe ourselves down, but came by to pick up the towel before I was ready for him to take it back. I had to ask for another cool towel so I could keep myself in check. I was able to make it through lunch without tossing my cookies.

I got back to the office and the air freshener smell was still strong, and I started to feel bad again. We had a meeting in a different room a few minutes later and the lack of smell in that room made me feel a little better. Lucky for me, jet lag started hitting Suzy and she was ready to leave early.

I got back to the hotel and food was not sounding appealing at all. I went back to my room and laid down to try to shake this feeling. I kept going between hot and cold and used the shower to try to regulate my temperature.

I was never so happy to see the end of a day as I was today.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as providing a cold towel.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

India - Day 6 - (Sunday)

Yesterday was a full day and then some. Suman said that we could go see a movie or something today and I was hoping that it would be later in the day.

I ate breakfast at the cafe Lido at the Ista Hotel, where I stayed, most mornings, both because of its proximity to where I was and because the breakfast buffet was good. Lido was not considered to be their restaurant, but the staff was always waiting on you and willing to get you whatever you wanted.

Being Sunday, things were not like they were during the week. There was a brunch rather than a breakfast - which started at noon. I figured that I could wait until noon and just have a long meal; the food was very good, so I am glad I did. The best part of the meal was the lamb shank with a rosemary au jus. There was live entertainment, which I really like. There were only two guys - a guitar player and a saxophone player and they played songs from mostly the 70s, but were good enough to keep me entertained. I found that people in India were not much on applauding the guys, but I did anyway.

After eating brunch and taking a nap, Suman and I went to the mall to see a movie. We saw Death at a Funeral. If you like British humor, this is the movie for you. If you are not into the Monty Python type humor, you had better skip it.

When you go to see a movie, there are always snacks. Not only did I find normal popcorn at the theater, but there was also sweet corn that you could get seasoned in one of many fashions. I decided on the black pepper corn and sweet butter. It was pretty good, but it does not compare to regular popcorn. One of the other oddities at seeing a movie in Bangalore was that they created an intermission about half way through the movie so you could take a bio-break and buy some more snacks. Not a bad idea.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as taking them to the movie when they could really use it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

India - Day 5 - Part 2

We left the 3 rivers and it was time to get lunch. We did not just go anywhere to get lunch, we went to a hotel whose slogan is, "We're not a palace, but we'll treat you like a king."

This hotel, Lalitha Mahal Palace, pictured on the right, was built in 1931 and is humongous. It was built by the Maharaja of Mysore to host the Viceroy of India. If you decide to eat here, make sure to bring your credit card (or take out a second on your house), as it is not cheap. The food is very good though.

We finished lunch and made our way to Mysore Palace - one of India's best kept secrets from the rest of the world - albeit it is very well known in India.

Now the Mysore Palace made the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel seem average size. This palace was built in 1912. Before you can enter the palace, you must turn in your camera to a camera room, very similar to a coat room. You also need to take your shoes off prior to entering the palace, but your shoes go to a different place than your camera does. There is a standard fee charged for shoes here - 1/2 Rupee. I think I got more than my money's worth this time as they had a watch my size-15 shoes.

I got a kick out of walking around the palace and watching the reactions from kids and a few adults as I meandered the hallways. I already stood out from the crowd because I am white and it looked like I had not been in the sun for months - I live near Portland, Oregon, what do you expect? - but I towered over the majority of the people there as well. The little kids would look up and me and I would smile at them and they would smile back. The adults, on the other hand, looked like they were a little worried. The average height in India is about 5'5". The average height at the palace was doing good if it were 5'. There were many people shorter than than that, so those people were having to look up at least 18". My height was an advantage as I could look over the top of the majority of the people to see whatever there was to see in any particular room.

Words cannot describe the architecture and craftsmanship that was put into the building of the palace. Built way before the time of power tools, remarkable is not a strong enough word to describe it. I have no idea how they built the structure as tall as they did. If you ever go to India, I do recommend going to see Mysore Palace.

Our last stop prior to heading back home was to see St. Philomena's Church. The Gothic structure was built in 1956 and is a marvel to the eyes. While we were there, a wedding was happening. It was rather cool to see a historic building actually being used for what it was originally intended.

The trip back to Bangalore seemed so much longer than the trip to Mysore. I think the reason was that we were tired from our adventure and that we did not have any stops along the way to entertain us as we made the stops on our way out.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as showing someone the sites around your area.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

India - Day 5 - Saturday (Part 1)

Today we went to Mysore. Mysore is noted for the grand palace that is there, but there are also wonderful attractions to see while on your way to Mysore. Now to travel to Mysore from Bangalore by car is no small trip - it is not an hour and a half like some tourists are lead to believe - it is about 3 hours if traffic is good.

The day started out at about 6:30 AM. My Driver Rambas came by the hotel and we went out to Suman's place to pick him up as he was going to show me around so I would not get too lost.

Our first stop along the way was to get some breakfast. It looked similar to a rest stop on the side of the highway back home, but then you went a little ways back there were at least two different outdoor restaurants and both were extremely crowded. We sat down at the first one and found out that they were not serving breakfast, so we decided to go to the next one. It seemed to be more crowded than the first, but it was a buffet, so people were constantly moving around giving it the feeling of being overly crowded. The food was good - so it was understandable to why it was so busy.

Our first official stop was in Srirangapatnam (don't even think about asking me how to pronounce the city name). The picture at the top of this blog is of Tipu's summer palace. Its grounds were so peaceful filled with many very colorful red trees. This is also where the Tipu Sultan is buried next to his wife and son. There are also numerous other tombs around the grounds; some are adorned with silk covers. We could not figure out exactly why some were and some were, but our best guess was that they ones covered were those of women. Before you can enter the palace, you must take off your shoes. No big deal. I take off my shoes and one of the guys manning the shoe area hands me a red token with a number on it. Suman takes off his shoes and does not get a token. We go touring and when we are done, we go back for our shoes. Suman walks out without any problem. I try to walk out and I am blocked until I give them some rupees. I can just see the headline - Man heald hostage for his size 15 shoes. I give the man 10 rupees and I go on my way. I tell Suman and he says he must have gotten lucky.

So we start on our journey again and we make a stop at a park where the three rivers all meet and flow into one. It is well off the beaten path, but it is definitely not unknown by people, because there are vendors and people everywhere. There were organized vendors with some facsimile to booths and others who tried to solicit business by going person to person. If you did not pay attention to them they would yell either Hello or excuse me or both. I felt like I was being rude to them by not turning back around, but I did not want to buy what they were trying to sell. The coolest attraction I saw at this park was the river rides (pictured to the above left). They would take people on short rides around the river on the disc-like boats. Suman and I both decided that it probably would not be a good idea for us to go on a ride on a disc for two reasons. Firstly, the disc probably could not support my size and weight. And secondly, the drivers probably would not know how to balance one with someone my size on the boat and then everyone on board would end up going for a swim. I did not exactly feel like getting that wet and having to remove leeches from my skin.

I must stop for now as I need to get ready for the day. I will continue the trip on my next blog.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as showing someone the sites around town that they have never seen before.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

India - Day 4 - Friday

I have not been able to tell what time the sun rises here in Bangalore, as it has been overcast each morning. The sun did come out for a little bit, but it turned to rain later in the day.

Today I went to lunch at a different style of Indian restaurant - don't even ask, I have no idea, other than it was not a place that I had been to yet. Suman ordered a green salad for an appetizer (known as a starter here). I expected lettuce for a green salad, but it was cucumbers, carrots, red onions, and what I thought was a snow pea. I really like snow peas, but it looked like there was just one snow pea, so I left it for a while to see if Suman was going to eat it. Well, after sometime, he did not eat it, so I decided that it was fair game so I ate it. After about 30 seconds, I found out that what I ate was not a snow pea. I started sweating like someone opened the dam gates. I told Suman that I ate something hot. He asked what I ate, and I told him the snow pea, and he said that was not a snow pea but a green chili pepper. I tried eating the chips, drinking the coke and eating more cucumbers and carrots, until the heat finally became bearable. Then our main meal came. With the meal came naan, which would have been really great to have had to get rid of the heat of the chili.

Back at the office, it has been enjoyable to see how fast the team - Vamsi, Suman, Mrinalini - has been catching onto everything I have been trying to teach them.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as getting them a couple of pieces of bread if they happen to eat a chili thinking it is something else.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

India - Day 3 - Thursday

Today is a holiday here in India - Labor Day. Since the Ness office is closed, I worked from the hotel so I could try to catch up on my regularly assigned work. My hotel room has a broadband connection - and they do not offer it free here - so it is almost like working from home, but not quite as fast. The power outages are definitely a challenge here.

The picture above is the pool at my hotel, Ista. The hotel and people are very nice.

I did see something very strange to me though. A car was smoking very badly in front of the hotel and I saw that a person was putting the smoke into the car - at first glance, it looked like the inside of the car was on fire. I found out the reason for the smoking of the car was because a mosquito was found in the car. Mosquitoes are carriers of Malaria and they were doing what they could to get rid of the bugs.

I ate lunch at the hotel restaurant. I had a minced lamb and coriander soup that was really tasty. On the whole though, I prefer the restaurants that Vamsi, Suman and Mrinalini brought me to eat.

Jet lag hit me today. I think I am over it now.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as holding the elevator door open.

India - Day 2

I got to go to two different restaurants today. China Pearl was the first place we went. The menu had lots of items on it that I had not seen before. One of the interesting traits of the menu I thought was the quantity of different soups. Suman and Mrinalini asked me what I wanted to have, and I told them I would like to have something they would normally eat, so we each selected an item from the menu to have. Other than chicken and fish, I have no idea what we had, but it was good.

Then later in the day, Vamsi and Suman took me to an Indian restaurant for a snack. Unlike the Indian restaurant that I went to on the first day with Vamsi and Suman, Vamsi and Suman were not the only Indian patrons at the place. This place today had lots of Indian patrons and I think I was the only non-Indian patron. Vamsi ordered us what he called breakfast for snack time. It seemed like a cross between a pancake and a crepe filled with curry potato. There were a couple of dipping sauces for it as well. I would eat them again.

No more mugging attempts today, so it was a good day.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as asking them to go to lunch or snack with you.

India - Day 1

After having breakfast at the hotel, which had lots of fruits, including mangos and papayas - I found that I like mango juice - I was driven to the EDC office.

I thought the drive from the airport to the hotel was an experience - the experience going from the hotel to the office was much more of an eye opener. Two inches seems to be too much room to have been vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles or people.

The folks at EDC are very nice and accommodating. Suman is in the picture to the right. When we went to lunch, we walked the few blocks to the restaurant. On the way back, there was this little girl, about 8 or 9 years-old, carrying a small bamboo basket. She starting speaking in her native tongue, needless to say, I did not understand a word she said, and was gesturing with her free hand like she was saying someone was talking a lot. Suman shooed her away. I asked him what that was about. Suman said that she said she had a snake in the basket and if we did not give her all our money she would let the snake out to bite us. He said he told her to go away because that trick does not work on him. My first day in India and I nearly get mugged by a little girl who was not even as tall as my waist. My wife got a good laugh after I told her.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as saving someone from getting mugged.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Made it to India

Even though the flight from Frankfurt, Germany departed late, the time was made up in the air and we actually landed on time.

The second plane had much smaller seats in it than the first plane did. I could barely get my hips into the seat. There was an immovable divider between the seats, so I could not even take any of my neighbor's space even though I would have liked to have had the extra room. There are certain disadvantages to being big, and this is one of them.

All in all, the flight was uneventful - albeit, it was turbulent. The turbulence kept me awake for the majority of the journey.

Upon arriving in India, I had to go through customs. There were several long lines. I was fortunate and picked one that moved very quickly. Everything went smoothly.

Now I got to the baggage claim and it looked like all the people that were in customs multiplied by an order of magnitude. It took about 45 minutes to get my luggage. People were shoving each other to try to get to the very small conveyor belt ... I think most were surprised when I did not move when they tried pushing me out of the way. There are certain advantages to being big.

There were hundreds of people waiting outside to pick people up ... I had to find the person that was holding a card with my name on it. He was towards the end, but I did find him. Traffic was definitely different than any other place I have been. I am glad I have a driver.

By the time I got to the hotel, it was about 1:30 AM. I was able to get connected to the internet to let my wife know that I arrived safely. The silver lining to not being able to sleep on the plane was that I was tired enough to sleep when I got to the hotel.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. They might need help finding their luggage at the airport.

Landed In Germany

It is 8:50 AM here in Frankfurt, Germany as I write to you. Back home, it is 11:50 PM. My internal body clock is a bit out of whack because it looks like day time and it never really looked like night time on the plane.

The flight took the better part of 10 hours to complete the first leg of my journey. I was very fortunate and was able to sit in one of the emergency exit rows and did not have anyone sitting next to me – so I had plenty of space. One of the most interesting things I found was almost as soon I got off the plane I had to go back through security. Not that it is a big deal, but I still found it interesting.

The flight actually went through Canada and Greenland rather than across the United States. We could see the GPS tracking of the plane between movies on the plane.

I flew Lufthansa and the staff did a good job of paying attention to us and supplying us drinks and snacks throughout the journey.

We got to see the majority of 4 movies during the leg. We got to see the majority of Juno – the movie was interrupted during the baby delivery and we did not get to see the end of it; what I saw of the movie, it was good. We also got to see the sequel to National Treasure and it was pretty good as well. The third movie was Game Plan with Dwayne Johnson – it was good enough for me to want to add to my movie collection at some point. I don’t know the name of the fourth movie, but it stared Patrick Dempsey in a princess fairly tail. It was cute, but that is about it.

Make someone’s day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as talking to the person next to you to make their trip more pleasant.

Monday, April 21, 2008

4U not 2U

Most people think things happen to them. This is almost fine when it is good things happening, but it really becomes a negative mindset when bad things happen.

Change your mindset. Instead of things happening to you, think about things happening for you.

When good things happen for you, you should grateful.

When bad things happen for you, you should think about what the incident is preparing you for in the future. Don't complain and worry yourself about why something bad happened to you. You will not be ready for the good that is prepared for you after experiencing this particular issue.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be what someone needs to have happen for them.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Make a name for yourself

No matter what you do, you are going to represent someone or something.

If you are fortunate, your represent yourself (in simplest terms) in a positive way. I have a buddy, Scott Hanselman, that is thought of highly in most everything he does. He is a very upbeat, happy- go-lucky, intelligent guy. He is looked to as the guy who either knows or can find out anything. If he cannot, there probably is not an solution.

My wife, Yvonne, is looked at with great envy and amazement. She is a cancer-survivor that has such a lust for life. People wonder how she can have such a positive outlook on life after being struck with such a challenge. Her extended family thinks she is all that and a bag of chips.

Most people work for a company that is not their company. When they go out on business for that company, they still represent that company. They are a face to an otherwise unknown identity. When you make a favorable impression on the customers, you are not only making a name for the company, but also making a name for yourself. Remember, nonetheless, you still represent your company.

To a non-believer, you are the closest representation of God that they are going to see. The way you act, speak and live your life should all be done in the name of God. Everything you do, you do in the name of God. When you represent God in a favorable light, you also represent yourself in a favorable light.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. When you do a random act of kindness, you make a good name for yourself.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Crucial Conversations

I took a class this week at work called Crucial Conversations. The instructor stated that this class was a life-skill, not just a work skill. Of all the important lessons taught in the class, I believe that statement was the most important lesson.

In a nutshell, the instructor taught us how to engage in crucial conversations and that we need to engage in crucial conversations.

The class was not about speaking. The class was about getting results; getting the results that you need, which may not be exactly what you thought they were going to be when you started the crucial conversation.

The most important factor in a crucial conversation is dialogue. If two people cannot speak to one another, there is no way that the results are going to be accomplished.

If you ever get the opportunity to take the crucial conversations class, I highly recommend it. If you pay attention and use the tools and experience you gain in the class in your everyday life, you will see changes. I don't guarantee these changes will necessarily be easy, but they should make a positive impact on the big picture.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. Engaging in a crucial conversation might be the something needed to make the rest of their day go swimmingly.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Become What You Believe

Have you ever heard the saying self fulfilling prophecy? Most of the time it references or is told about a pessimistic person who bad things happen to. Their woe-is-me attitude quite often causes their problems to come to fruition.

How about if we flip the coin to the other side? Let's make self fulfilling prophecies but let's believe that we are good on the inside, we can do anything if we set our minds to it and good is going to happen.

Believe you are going to do well and there is a good chance of that coming true. Become what you believe. Believe in yourself and that you can do well and you will do well.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It just might be what that someone needs to make them become the success they believe they can be.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Dance Like No One's Watching

I can't dance to save my life. Two gifts that God did not bless me with were a good singing voice and good coordination. I tease my daughter by telling her that I can do the white man overbite. But most people let their inner rhythm out when they think they are all alone like the dancing cadet.

Dance like no one's watching to me means not to worry about what people think when you are doing what you like to do.

Going along the same lines, work like you don't need the money. If you have to work, you might as well get paid to do what you like to do. If you won the lottery, and after taking time off to do all the fun things that you would want to do, would you still do the work that you are doing now when you need the money? If not, why not?

The only reason that I can think of for not doing what you currently do, is that you want to do something else as well.

Have a job that you enjoy the tasks that you have to do. Enjoy going to work. It does not mean that work is where you spend all your time, but it should not be a place where you regret going either. If you like what you do, you are going to do a better job at it. Your customers win because they get a better whatever. Your company wins because it keeps its customers happy and gets more business. You win because your company is happy with you and takes good care of you.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as showing them how well (or poorly) you dance and enjoy your job.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Risk vs. Reward

Is the reward worth the risk?

When you are a kid, playing with your friends is probably the most important thing next to Christmas and your birthday.

When you are told not to go outside until your parents come home, but your friends come over and want you to come out and play, you have quite a dilemma on your hands . You have to measure out whether the risk of getting caught (which will probably happen) is worth the reward of playing with your friends outside.

The pure torture. It is a nice day outside and your friends are out playing. If you get caught, you will probably get grounded for at least a couple of days. You have to really figure out if the reward is worth the risk. If it is supposed to rain for the next few days starting tomorrow, the decision is actually pretty easy; play in the sun and then grounded to the indoors when it is raining outside. The reward far outweighs the risk. But if you are supposed to go to a birthday party or to a park tomorrow or this weekend if you are good, the risk probably is not worth the small reward that you get.

If only the adult scenarios were as easy as the ones you faced as a kid.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could make their reward worth the risk.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing is often attributed to Vince Lombardi. The definition of winning is sometimes vague.

Some coaches, parents and players think the score on the scoreboard at the end of the game defines winning. I contend differently.

Your character defines winning in the big picture.

When you leave every bit of energy on the court (or field) at the end of the game you can always walk with your head up high. The final score only determines if you win with grace or lose with dignity.

On the court, you let your game doing the talking. Trash talking is NOT part of the game. If someone else does it to you, you don't have the right to do it back. It takes more character to walk away from the confrontation that it does to join it.

At work, your ideas are not always going to be the ones that are used. If your idea is used, you must help your team to bring it to fruition. If your idea is not selected, you must do all you can to make sure the selected idea is completed.

Character is defined most when you do things for people who can help you least.

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." - Samuel Johnson.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It will show your character.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Schedule Playtime

You have a meeting at 8 AM another one at 10 AM and another 3-hour meeting at 1 PM. Somewhere in there you are supposed to get your work done that they assigned you to do in those meetings. And this is just at work.

At home, you have to do X at 6 PM, then you have to do Y at 7:30 PM.

You go to bed because you are tired. You wake up and you are still tired.

The old mentality was spending as much time at work as possible to show how valuable you are. I suggest that you get as much done effectively and efficiently as possible in as little amount of time as possible. IMHO, it is far better to brag about how much you got done in your 8-hour day than it is to say that you are putting in 20-hour days [no wonder you are tired] to get things done.

When do you have time for yourself to have any fun? Or to spend sometime with the family or to just unwind?

If there is any open time on your calendar, you can bet that someone will find a way to take it. Why not take the time for yourself so that you can have some playtime?

If you take some time for yourself, you will find yourself in better moods and more relaxed. Like the old cliché, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, if you don't give yourself sometime to play, your creative juices will eventually stop flowing.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be as simple as doing a simple task away so the person can get some play time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Release Your Inner Treasure

One of my favorite sayings is If I am going to dream, I am going to dream big. Most of the time I say this in jest, but it is something I do believe.

Dare to dream. And don't just dream small dreams. If all your dreams have come true, you are not dreaming big enough.

It is easy to be pessimistic and say what if I can't make my dream come true? I say flip the coin over and say what if I can make my dream come true.

The pessimist might claim that if the dream is too big, there is no way that they can make their dream come true on their own. I say there is nothing wrong with this. A little help from our friends is a good thing. God is willing to help; all you have to do is ask. Instead of saying what if I can't do this by myself say what if I ask for help and I am able to do this?

By dreaming big and be willing to strive to make your big dreams come true, you are releasing your inner treasure and not only making yourself better by doing so, but also making the world a better place because your big dreams are those types of dreams.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It just might be what someone needs to make their big dream come true.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bucket List

My wife and I saw Bucket List over the weekend and it got me to thinking.

Life is not infinite, so you need to enjoy it while you have it.

The past is the past and you cannot change it.

One of my favorite lines from the movie is Virginia said I left a stranger and came back a husband; I owe that to you. What this line means to me is you never know exactly who is going to have a positive effect on your life. In the movie, Edward was not a person very many people liked (if anyone liked at the beginning) but Carter saw something in him even though Edward was not nice to him in the beginning. Give people a chance. I would rather error and find someone not to be nice than to miss the opportunity of meeting someone nice.

I have an amazing grasp on the obvious; one of the main themes that the movie tries to get across to the audience is to live your life to the fullest.

Do you have a bucket list (things to do before you die)? If not, make one.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. Even though you have done this, you can't cross it off your bucket list because it is something you need to do every day in order to live your life to the fullest.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Life is Like an Ice Tray


It has many purposes. It can make a drink cold by adding it to the drink. It turns into water when the temperature rises. It helps keep the earth as we know it by keeping the polar caps as they are. It can bring swelling down an an injured body part.

Ice trays are a pretty cool contraption. They come in different sizes and can make different quantities and shapes of cubes.

An ice tray can be used for making Jello for bite size consumption.

An ice tray can also be used for making individual pop cycles for kids (or people who just want to act like a kid).

Ice trays can also be used for helping build sand castles. They can also be used by kids as building blocks or just toys.

Don't let the world box you into doing what they think you can do or just being what they think you are. If an ice try was limited to just making ice in one size, think about all the cool stuff you would miss out on.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. They might just need a reminder that they can do anything they set their mind to doing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Look at the Good in Everything

Even when bad things happen, you need to look at the good that is in it.

For example, on January 9, 2008, I was in a head-on car collision. Firemen had to break into the remnants of my car to get me out and I had to be life-flighted to the trauma hospital.

I think we can all agree that this is a bad thing. Instead of looking at the bad in the incident, I am choosing to look at the good. "What good could come out of this?" you ask.

I am glad you asked.

  1. The person in the other car was able to literally walk away from the accident.
  2. I am alive and able to tell you about it.
  3. I have no broken bones - zero, none, nada, zilch - from the car accident.
  4. I do not require any surgery as of this moment.
  5. I still get spend the rest of my life with my family.
  6. People from my work came by to visit me at the hospital and home.
  7. People from church came by to visit me.
  8. I have aches and pains that I can feel. This is much better than the alternative. The aches and pains remind me that I am alive.
No matter how bad things get, always try to look at the good in what happens. This does not mean that everything that happens is good. What I do mean is you should try to find the good in a bad situation.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It could be the something that someone needs to find the good in a bad event.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I was watching ESPN Sports Center this morning and heard Les Miles, the LSU football coach let out a Wahoo during an interview. His team had just won the NCAA Division 1 football championship.

Here is one of my favorite dialogs from the Movie IQ:
Catherine Boyd: You took Albert Einstein for a ride on that thing?
Ed Walters: Sure.
Catherine Boyd: Well don't ever do that again!
Ed Walters: Come on. He loved it. He went Wahoo.
Catherine Boyd: Wahoo?
Ed Walters: When's the last time he said Wahoo?
Catherine Boyd: Well I'm sure I don't know.
Ed Walters: When's the last time *you* said Wahoo?
Catherine Boyd: Well I'm *sure* I don't know.

You need to enjoy the good things that happen to you and every now and then you need to let people know that you are enjoying them.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. You never know, that person might let out a Wahoo!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Pace Yourself

Today is Monday of the first full work week of the new year.

Don't over do it today, as there are four more days that you still have to work.

There is neither a break in the middle of the week nor does the week end after 3 or 4 days.

There is no designated time for you take a nap during the middle of the day either.

You need to pace yourself.

Things are back to normal. And this is a good thing.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. This should be a normal thing for you to do.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Keep On Keepin' On

Some days are better than others; it is just a fact of life.

On the days that are more challenging, you still must persevere. Just because it is not easy, does not mean that you get to give up. Just because it is not easy does not mean that you don't have to do it. You must keep on keepin' on.

There is an adage that goes something like this - that which does not kill us only makes us stronger. The only way it can make us stronger is if we take it on and overcome our fear of it.

Take on all challenges with a happy heart. It makes it easier to keep going.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It might be what someone needs to keep going.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008 - Happy New Year

Yesterday was the end of one year. Today is the start of another one.

Yesterday is a memory. Tomorrow is the future. Today is now, which is why it is the present.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make the most of it.

Here is to a wonderful 2008.

Make someone's day and perform a random act of kindness. It is a great way to start the new year.


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