Thursday, April 29, 2010

This Vehicle Stops at all Railway Crossings

There is a limit to safety and I thought this morning I reached that limit.I was a wee bit late driving in to work trying to make it in time for a 9 oclock when I had to stop behind a bus which , you guessed it "stopped at all railway crossings". I was on a single lane road when the bus came to a full halt at the railway crossing. I counted to three and then another three and still the wretched driver did not budge. As I waited impatiently willing the bus to move forward, the railway crossing gates began to close. I could have cried but all I could do was sit there my knuckles white on the steering wheel listening to the gates coming down with that irritating ringing sound and--- wait. If the bus driver had moved on the first count of three we both could have been across the crossing. On an impulse I got out of my car and walked over to the side of the bus driver wanting to give him a piece of my mind. As I looked up I saw a beautiful blonde face smiling back at me. I stood there transfixed by her beauty till I realized it was getting awkward and blurted "Good Morning-- have a good day" and walked back to my car. It was a beautiful day.
I think its a good thing that Vehicles stop at railway crossings ;)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tennis Elbow

Over the last few months I have been living with an injury on my forearm termed as a Tennis elbow. This has resulted in me wearing a black band over my upper forearm. On being questioned by most well wishers, I have till now tried to respond as genuinely as possible but having tired of the same routine response, I try and hold a straight face while saying such things as ... "I am wearing a black band as my way of protesting against being over worked and underpaid" or ... "oops did my swastika fall off?" .. or its to remind me to be nice to everyone today -- even you"

Some folks persist and then not being of the mettle that actors are made off, I succumb to a smile and give them the actual version.(Tennis Elbow)

The problem with this injury is that it resfuses to go away and makes you incapable to doing even mundane things as giving some one an energetic handshake or lifting a mug of beer or picking up your laptop to go to work. Most of these actions result in a shooting pain and very soon I learnt to use my other( good) hand-- so much so that I am turning to be a lefty. The funny thing is that I did not get this from tennis. I suspect it is to do with spending long hrs on the keyboard and my resolve to go "paperless". I also do not use a mouse and my efforts to try and bring myself to use it has not yeilded any positive results. It (the mouse )simply lies there un touched till I snap shut my laptop and as i get up to walk away I find it dangling at the end of a cable. I eventually got rid of it and i am back to the touchpad which is not doing me any good , I know but i am hoping that somehow if i ignore it enough .. it will go away. Anyways..... Next time you exetnd your hand to shakehands and you find that I offer not my right hand but my left -- it is not because I am from the Scouts ( Scouts left handed hand shake) but because I suffer from lateral epicondylitis (thats what the docs call this damn thing).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Will Ford drive to Moscoe or drive out Moscoe?

This morning while driving to work , I put on the "John Oakley Show" on AM 640. Normally I am plugged into an audio book but on an impulse I decided to check what else was on in the world besides the volcanic ash. John was on the air interviewing Howard Moscoe. For those not in the know Howard has been a city councillor for over a decade and is known for biting off more than he can chew. This morning he went the extra mile to stay in that league. I heard him say that the city councillors had hired a consultant for 50 grand of the tax payers money to confirm that the councillors who already earn a few $ shy of 100 grand a year, needed a raise in their wages. To be fair to the councillors I believe one can re phrase the objective for this consultant in many ways but what does a consultant "you"hire do??-- they WILL say you deserve a raise -- thats a no brainer. And then going along that same lines one tends to ask ones self as to how do councillors get to decide to spend 50 grand just to determine if they need a raise. I, and I guess most of us will have serious concerns on how our tax $$s are being (mis)managed in the hands of our councillors. Mr Moscoe ofcourse was oblivious of the fact that what the councillors were doing, was ridiculous.

Another aspect that struck me was who supervises these councillors?? It seems no one. Except for radio programmes like the one I was on -- The councillors seem to be splurging with abandon with what seems to be a clean conscience. If you ever decide to run for office, make sure you have killed and buried your conscience somewhere along the way. That makes me wonder as to how will Rob Ford survive his Mayorial years-- my vote is on him. I hope he wins and drives OUT the likes of Moscoe.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mighty Volcanoes on a Fragile planet

The news that has dominated the world over the weekend has been the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland. Travelers are stranded , businesses are impacted and the airlines are wringing their heads in despair. No one can predict how long this ash will continue to spill out into the European skies and literally bring all of Europe to a grinding halt. It makes one think how fragile our planet is where nature can without warning literally stop our civilized world. The ash which is pulverized rock a few mm in size is shot 5-8 kms vertically into the atmosphere when molten lava meets with sub zero temperatures of the glacial ice. The resulting steam which is due to such extremes in temperatures results in the ash being shot so high up into the sky. The higher it goes the wider will be its spread and the winds blowing eastwards have literally blanketed Europe and as far as Moscow. In the midst of all this is Poland trying to grapple with a national disaster of losing almost all its leadreship in one plane crash. A few years ago I recollect reading a policy where more than two national dignatories were prevented from travelling in the same aircraft. Today that policy makes a lot of sense in Poland. Imagine the logistic problems of having a national funeral without having the ability of air travel.

The last time I recollect nature reminded mankind of its awesome power and to a much more devastating degree was when the tsunami struck us the Indian ocean on Christmas eve in 2004.

As we follow the daily news I hear that KLM has flown a passengerless airplane through the ash and landed safely. I wonder will the airlines take on the responsibility of flying a plane load of passengers through the looming ash cloud based on this test or will they chicken out-- more importantly will you buy a ticket on such a flight even if the airlines said it was business as usual but is Eyjafjallajokull listening-- from what I last heard it was business as usual at Eyjafjallajokull as well.

BTW have you guys heard of George Kourounis of "Angry Planet" fame. He is the guy who goes chasing natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions. Next week he is going to be in Iceland and taking "calculated risks" to get as near as possible to the lip of Eyjafjallajokull to give us pictures of what goes on in the belly of the volcano-- I personally doubt it will be possible on an active volcano but Mr Kourounis has "been there done that" -- I am sure he knows what he is talking about.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Juniper Remedy

Anyone know of a cure to save a Juniper tree. This one stands guard in front of our house and as the summer is around the corner,we are trying to spruce up the flora surrounding our home. It seems that the the tree is dying in parts ( the brown leaves) and still thriving in the rest of its plumage. Any advise is welcome.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Mergers/ Acquisitions/ Outsourcing/ Insourcing/Offshoring....

Yesterday I was in an discussion on Mergers and Acquisitions at a networking group. BTW, before I proceed those of you who frequent such gatherings did you notice that most of the folks at such sessions are predominantly from the IT/technology sectors? Anyways-- back to my subject; The emphasis in all such ventures, be it Mergers/ Acquisitions/ Outsourcing/ In sourcing/Off shoring-- they are all focused almost entirely on the legal and financial aspects only. Weeks, maybe months are spent on negotiating,bargaining, haggling.. (then it gets worse..) hood winking, downplaying, hiding, misrepresenting, .....lying.. and when finally getting sick of the exercise and running out of patience, Agreeing!! The merger is announced and the stock prices surge in anticipation of the boost that the economy will get from the new merger/acquisition.

Meanwhile..... guess what!-- no one has told operations. Months of deliberations have had no connections with Operations ( the very guys who ensure that the business rakes in the revenues that feeds your payroll). Now, when the merger is announced, the "VeePee's" and the "Pee's" all go off to play golf.. relying on the old Financial Times post adage-- When you’ve got them by their wallets, their hearts and minds will follow. Yes -- they "follow" as they need to retain their jobs and in order to do that the poor folks down in operations have to read through reams of the signed contract to make sense of it and see how it applies to them. Its like trying to service a train that is running a 100kmph with processes that have broken or are not valid. What happens next?? ...

Frustrations mount. Management expectations are in the spirit of the agreement and are now impatient that the operations folks have not yet aligned themselves to the "great strategic path" that the senior leadership has lined up for them. The most competent resources start to leave, others are actively scouring the job market and the situation simply goes South.

Sounds familiar? Those in operations would probably agree with me. I did some thinking and realized that the main cause is Communications. Who are the folks who populate our board rooms? MBAs,CAs and the like.. right?. Rarely do you find any technical manager sitting in on such meetings. And why is that? This is because, as a breed a typical techie is soft spoken, not outspoken at all, preferring to work with his hands and head rather than his mouth and hence he is usually represented by a manager who possess these verbal abilities. These managers swiftly work themselves up the ladder and very soon the touch with the techie is reduced to an electronic status update oblivious to the fact that advancements in technology have overrun his outdated ideas and thinking.

So, what do we need among other things to succeed at M & A's----We need in the board rooms of today, technical managers who are in step with technical advancements, who are articulate enough to convince and negotiate at mergers and acquisitions to include all aspects of operations which will ensure that the mergers/ venture being attempted is as seamless as possible.