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The Bridge

by @ 9:32 pm
Filed under: social

The BridgeI'd heard about the documentary movie, The Bridge, and always wanted to see it. Thanks to Hulu I got to watch it last night.

Based on what I had read, the producers had set up cameras around the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, filming for the entire year of 2004. The intention was to capture jumpers. Of course they hadn't mentioned that detail on their permit application.

The movie tells the stories of a few jumpers that succumbed to their deaths and one that actually survived the fall. Shots from their attempt is interspersed with interviews with families and friends. It's a powerful commentary on human frailties and struggles.

Possessing a dark side of my own, I can understand why some people may decide to end their lives. What I don't understand is how their logic and reason is so completely circumvented. I must assume that for the jumpers all hope was lost and despair dominated their lives completely. What was striking is that most were young and healthy. I can understand (and support) the desire to die from an elderly patient stricken with a terminal disease, but these people had many chances to turn things around. Time was firmly on their side.

I don't know, who am I to judge? Maybe we make too much of a big deal of life and living. We're all destined to be recycled anyways.

May they rest in peace.


Fantasy Home

by @ 9:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

If you are not familiar with New Canaan, Connecticut, it's an exclusive, plush town in Fairfield county where a million-dollar home is considered cheap. The movie, The Stepford Wives, was filmed there.

I work in a city adjacent to New Canaan and sometimes browse the listings to see what I can't afford. A couple of weeks ago I saw this listing (depicted below) for $20,000 that almost made me jump out of my seat and call the broker.

Good thing I didn't, because the house is only the size of a small room (160 square feet). But it does come with 99 bedrooms and 99 full bathrooms! I decided that it wasn't worth my time inquiring. obviously the house was made for mice. If only it came with 99 garages 🙂


Mexico Top Level Domain (.MX)

by @ 10:14 pm
Filed under: internet,web

Today I happened to see that Go Daddy is offering the .mx TLD which happens to be assigned to Mexico. Based on what I read the .mx TLD had been restricted to addresses within Mexico up until recently and now they have decided to open it up for international registration - for $210 per year? Altruistic? Hardly. I bet they're hurting for cash and that's the real reason behind this scam.

Are you kidding? $210 annual fee for an .mx domain? No thanks. Unless there is very compelling reason to own an .mx domain, such as a conglomerate trying to establish itself south of the border, I see no reason why anyone would pay such an outrageous sum for it.

There are plenty of other TLD's around to choose from at much lower prices and more are on the way. Why throw good money away?


Virgin America

by @ 10:40 pm
Filed under: business

Virgin America
I flew Virgin America for the first time on a trip to LA last week and I was thrilled with the experience. It doesn't take much to make me a happy flier. A little in-flight entertainment, decent seats, and a clean plane is enough for me. I got all of those on Virgin America. Sort of like JetBlue with a bit of European flare.

Even the safety instructions were pretty entertaining. Richard Branson also makes a cameo cartoon appearance peddling the Gogo in-flight wireless service (it's fee-based like everything else.) He made a humorous reference that made me do a double-take. Did he really say that? I don't remember the exact words but it was something like

… because everything is better at 35,000 feet. Uh, wait, what are we trying to say, like a mile-high club? …

Conservative-minded passengers probably weren't amused, but it made me laugh. I didn't even bother with the TV on the return flight. There was enough selection of classic rock, alternative, and blues music to keep me listening the whole way back. If only the traditional airlines could learn a thing or two from Virgin America.


San Gorgonio Wilderness

by @ 10:19 pm
Filed under: health

San Gorgonio Wilderness

I never thought I would find anything likeable about Los Angeles, until last week when I discovered the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Ok, this is really about an hour drive outside Los Angeles, but hard to believe an area so beautiful is near the smog city.

The San Gorgonio Wilderness is situated in the San Bernardino National Forest and it shares its name with Mt. San Gorgonio, rising from the south of the Wilderness and the tallest peak in southern California.

As I was visiting my sister in the area, we decided to hike the South Fork trail, one of the many trails in this wilderness. The trailhead with a large parking lot is already at 6,000 feet or so, but the to reach the summit at 11,500 feet, one must still hike about 9 miles and it's a relentless climb the whole way.

Since we had started the hike late (around noon) we knew that reaching the summit wasn't in the cards, but we managed to hike up about 6 miles before turning around to beat the dusk. According to some info I had read, South Fork is supposed to be the most popular trail from the group. I had dreaded running into big crowds, but surprisingly people were sparse, giving us a peaceful and serene hiking experience, being greeted with one splendid scenery after another.

The only excitement we had was spotting a black bear after we were about 2 miles into the trail. Not accustomed to seeing bears roaming freely, we were startled and decided to quietly retreat. After collecting our nerves we returned and fortunately the bear was nowhere in sight. Apparently we were the only ones who saw this magnificent animal.

As we wrapped up the hike, we vowed to return to this place and possibly the same trail, this time with the intention of reaching Mt. San Gorgonio's summit. Of course that requires a bit of will power to rise early to stretch our available daylight hours. Considering the reward, that shouldn't be an issue.

If you are in the area and want to give the San Gorgonio Wilderness a try, you'd need to obtain an adventure pass and a separate wilderness pass prior to visiting the area. While it's an inconvenience, these permits directly fund preservation projects and they are used to control the flow of the crowds in an area where open space is such a rare and fragile commodity.


Oracle and Bing

by @ 9:00 am
Filed under: business,microsoft

Oracle has already bagged the U.S. regulatory approval to acquire Sun. If the Europeans go along as well, Sun will become a part of Oracle by September. That means Oracle will also own Java, the popular open source programming language used widely on the Web.

Today while installing a Java upgrade I was presented with an option to install the Bing toolbar. As you know Bing is the much hyped search engine by Microsoft. As you also know, Oracle and Microsoft are rivals in several industries, the biggest one being the database industry. That will just get bigger when Oracle takes control of MySQL (also owned by Sun.)

I wonder if Java users will still be given the Bing option after Oracle acquires Sun. Then again Sun and Microsoft were themselves pretty big rivals until a few years ago. Passage of time makes strange bedfellows.

Java and Bing


Google Chrome View Source Bug

by @ 10:23 pm
Filed under: web

Google Chrome BrowserMany web designers and developers use the "View Source" feature of browsers to check the HTML data behind a Web page. It's perhaps one of most basic debugging tools that has been a part of every browser since the beginning. The Chrome browser by Google is no exception and it also has the "View Source" feature, but as I found out recently, it doesn't work quite as expected.

In general, When a POST request is issued to a URL (for example when a web form is submitted), the content returned is usually different from the original GET request (when the page is accessed the first time.) If "View Source" is selected, all browsers show the source of the currently displaying content, regardless of the request type. That is, all browsers but Chrome.

Apparently Chrome developers have decided to show the source of the page as if it was accessed the first time (GET request). I noticed this when diagnosing a web form submission issue. On Chrome the page source didn't match the content of the submitted page being displayed. That puzzled me for a while before I discovered the glitch.

This bug hasn’t gone unnoticed by others, as evident by this post. What's strange is that Google hasn't done anything about it so far, even in their latest beta release of Chrome. So for the time being the solution is to use another browser like Firefox or IE.


Stock Market – Back to Greed?

by @ 9:28 am
Filed under: financial

For those of us who held on to our 401(k) investments and stuck to our contributions even as the market was plummeting, the rewards are nearly at hand. Looking at my 401(k) balance I was pleased to see a bit of life back in it.

The stock market is still off its highs (for NASDAQ you’d have to go back a decade to the tech bubble era), but it has made sizeable gains in a rather short time and that is cause for a bit of concern.

Many, including bank and insurance stocks, have quadrupled or quintupled in a short few months. Look are Citibank, Bank of America, or AIG. Ford is going for $8 per share now; it was barely over $1 in March. That is just not normal.

Now one could argue that the market is just correcting an extreme oversold condition that occurred a few months ago as a result of extreme fear. Maybe so, but a pendulum swings both ways and we may now be looking at extreme greed and we know where that leads to.

Neuschwanstein Castle

by @ 11:59 pm
Filed under: social

Neuschwanstein Castle

If you ever find yourself in Bavaria, southern Germany, one of the attractions you won't want to miss is the Neuschwanstein castle. The castle was built in the late 1800 by King Ludwig II but its design was borrowed from the splendid castles of the medieval period.

What makes the Neuschwanstein castle a popular destination is its amazing location, perched on a hill at the base of the Alps mountains, its enormous size, and its majestic design. It seems like the king spared no expense in making sure that the castle was grand in its splendor and beauty, bringing it to the top of its class among its peers.

Being a private king, the castle was off-limits to the public, but after the king's death it was opened for all to come and admire the structure.

That's why on a recent visit to Bavaria, I put the castle in my list of places to visit and it didn't disappoint. The castle is about a 2-hour car trip from Munich. Once we reached the town of Fussen, we just followed the signs to the location. There's ample parking at the base and the castle is about a half hour walk up. There are also horse-drawn carriages that can take people up the hill for a nominal fee. Parts of the castle are off-limits but visitors can still wander about the grounds as they try to imagine what living in such a structure must have been liked. There are also guided tours inside the castle in English and German.

With its combination of history, natural surroundings, and architectural beauty, the Neuschwanstein castle is a treasure well worth a trip to experience.


Credit Card Foreign Transaction Fees

by @ 10:02 pm
Filed under: money

This is probably old news to some but it came as a surprise to me. As I have done so for many years, I booked a flight online with a foreign carrier with offices in the US and made a credit card payment in US Dollars. About a month later I got slapped with an unexplained foreign transaction fee. After some inquiry I was told that my credit card was charged in an overseas location, probably the airline's headquarters in their native country, and per new rules I had to pay this fee even though the amount charged was in US Dollars.

Credit card companies have gotten real sneaky with their fees these days. In today's global economy when you make a purchase using a credit card, you can't be sure where, geographically speaking, your card may be charged. In my case, the order was probably routed to the carrier's datacenter in their native country. In past this was of no consequence as long as the amount was in US Dollars. But now the greedy credit card companies have decided to tack on additional fees for these cases.

Something to be careful about the next time you make a purchase. The price you pay may not be the final price. What's next? Charging fees if you use your card outside your hometown? Seems silly, but nothing is beyond these shady companies when it comes to helping themselves to your hard-earned money. So much for the consumer protection laws.


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