Thursday, December 31, 2009

Six of My Top Blog Posts in 2009

In the year 2009, I took blogging seriously and have posted over 130 posts in my blog. It is almost like a blog post every third day. I am happy that I could manage time to blog about the things I like and hopefully everyone else who read those also enjoyed.
There are some blog posts that gave me more satisfaction than others. I enjoyed writing those and people liked reading them. Here is a compilation of six of my blog posts that fall under the above category – gave me a lot of satisfaction while writing and also lot of appreciation from readers.

Pregnancy 101 – Where East Does Not Meet West As YetThis one was written as soon as we had our baby. Having seen only the hospital system in India, I found out so many new things when my wife was pregnant and during my visit to the hospital. This post was born out of those experiences.

In US, it is said that everyone lives from paycheck to paycheck. Using credit cards are the order of the day. Last eight years in US has taught me so many ways to use to credit cards efficiently without falling into the traps set by credit card companies. Another blog post that gave me so much satisfaction.
A blog post I published when I was about to cross 100,000 visitors in my blog. This was an answer to lot of my friends who used to ask me the question what motivates me to blog.
A blog post that has so many memories attached to it – I have seen so many strikes, violence and unrest in my school/college days in Kerala that writing this blog brought back so many memories. I am happy that it evoked a good number of comments from the readers.
Even though I graduated from ASU in 2007, I still have a lot of associations with my Alma mater. My wife was a student in ASU till May 2009. I have seen students struggling in the school due to this economic recession. This blog post was an attempt to compare the recession of 2002/03 when I was a student and the present one and to point out how this one is worse than the previous one. Another post that gave me immense pleasure while writing.
This blog post was written when the “cattle class” and “holy cow” controversy involving Dr Shashi Tharoor was at its peak and was re-tweeted more than 40 times.
Hopefully I could post more meaningful posts in 2010 than I did in 2009.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Water Treatment in Pampa River – 12 Questions to Kerala State Pollution Control Board

Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB) has instructed Travancore Devasom Board to restart the addition of ferrous chloride to the Pampa River that is polluted during the Sabarimala season. The PCB claims that adding ferrous chloride reduces the coliform bacteria in water. A temporary dam is constructed across the Pampa river and ferrous chloride that is obtained as a byproduct during the manufacture of synthetic rutile is used for treatment purpose.

Having worked in the area of water treatment for all these years I should say that treating with ferrous chloride to reduce bacteria count is an unscientific method. I should agree with the statement of Dr Thomas P Thomas, a noted environmentalist and academician of Kerala.

The river treatment using coagulants only helps in the settling of the suspended particles in the sewage and not effective in reducing the coliform count in the stream. The coliform count can be reduced only by disinfection process which is not practical in the Njunangar stream as chlorine may react with organic compounds in the sewage to form substances which may be carcinogenic

If what I understand about the whole process is correct then it raises serious questions on the life of people and other living beings that uses this water downstream of the treatment process. It is the duty of the PCB to answer the doubts in the mind of people. After reading all the newspaper reports I have the following twelve questions to ask PCB. Hope someone gives me genuine answers to these questions and clear the controversies surrounding the whole treatment process.

  1. Ferrous chloride is not a disinfectant. If killing of bacteria was the goal why was ferrous chloride selected and not a disinfectant?
  2. Now if the goal was to settle out the bacteria why was ferrous chloride that is not a coagulant selected? Why did PCB not gone for a effective coagulant like ferric chloride or alum?
  3. What is the purity of the ferrous chloride added for the treatment process?
  4. What are the other constituents in the ferrous chloride added for the treatment process?
  5. What is the detention time of the water in the temporary dam after the ferrous chloride is added?
  6. What is the concentration of ferrous chloride, ferric chloride, manganese, zinc, nickel, chromium and other metals 100 meters, 500 meters, 1 km and 5 km downstream of the temporary dam?
  7. How often does the sludge removed from the bottom and how do you make sure that part of it does not overflow through the dam when the removal process is taking place?
  8. What other treatment methods were considered before PCB recommended adding ferrous chloride?
  9. What happens if the water flow upstream of the dam increases (in case of a rain) and all the settled sludge overflows through the temporary dam?
  10. What percentage of bacterial removal is achieved during the entire process?
  11. Where does the sludge taken from the bottom of the river hauled to?
  12. Does an independent agency ever verified any of your results?

I believe an organization as responsible as PCB should be answering all these questions in an open forum before going ahead with an unproven technology for removing coliform bacteria from water.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Look Back into 2009

I used to hang out a lot with this Indian professor in my school all these years. When I told him in 2004 that I am getting married in early 2005 he told me in his characteristic Tamil slang:

Sir – You are going to commit the first of the three mistakes. By the time you commit all the three mistakes your life will completely change forever.

Me – Sir, so what are the other two mistakes?

Sir – second will be buying a house and third will be having a kid…

The year 2009 is getting over with me completing the third and final mistake according to him.

Jokes apart, 2009 was a eventful year for Deepa and I. This post is a look back into the year 2009 and a peek into 2010.

This year started with me completing a half marathon and Arizona Cardinals reaching the Super Bowl – two things that seemed impossible to happen a year ago. Tell anyone that Arizona Cardinals will go to Super Bowl in 2009, they could have laughed at you like anything.

Deepa completing her Masters in Biomedical informatics in the middle of the pregnancy was a great thing. All the pain she had to undergo in those days bear fruit on October 3rd when she gave birth to our daughter Gayathri.

Another memorable happening of 2009 – captaining the team, Rodeos, in the final of the Summer Cricket tournament and leading it to a comprehensive win. Playing in team Rodeos is always special for me as the core of the team is formed by my close friends who have been in all my ups and downs since I came to US in 2001.

Now about my blogging – the year 2009 transformed me into a serious blogger. Blogging that I started for fun in 2005 turned into a serious hobby in 2009. I have posted over 130 blog posts in the year that includes post from few guest bloggers. I owe a lot to the readers of my blog for the encouragement and constructive criticism that help to develop as a blogger. Keep them coming!

The year 2009 saw me becoming very active in Twitter. The other day my wife was telling someone, “the easiest way to tell Brijesh that the dinner is ready, is to send him a tweet”!

The most fulfilling moment of my blogging life happened this year when I could associate myself with the campaign of Dr Shashi Tharoor for his election to the Lok Sabha from my home constituency. Through my blog posts I was able to meet and communicate with so many like minded people from all over the world.

As far as my professional life is concerned I am happy that I have a job to go to every day. In this economic recession in US this is a great thing.

It is said that “Man Proposes God Disposes”. Deepa and I have some great plans for the year 2010 and if God accepts our proposal, then we will have sea changes in our lives. Will let all of you know once we are final with our plans…

To all readers of my blog - from Gayathri, Deepa and Brijesh Wishing You All a Happy New Year

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Vote for “Indian of the Year-2009”

Based on the nominations of the readers of the blog here is the list of six contestants for the final round of “Indian of the Year 2009”.

1 – Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi led Congress Party to an impressive win in the 2009 Lok Sabha election. As Kenny Jacob pointed out, while nominating Sonia Gandhi - “for having revived the congress party and also maintaining composure and maturity in times of victory and failure.”

2 – Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh became the first Indian Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to win re-election after completing a full five year term. His image has played a great role in helping Congress party win big in many states during the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha.

3 – Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin this year completed 20 years of international cricket. Great accomplishment by this living legend of cricket.

4 – AR Rahman

Winning 2 Oscars this year is enough to win the nomination for the Indian of the Year 2009.

5 – Shashi Tharoor

From a former UN Diplomat to a Congress candidate from Trivandrum Lok Sabha constituency to Minister of State for External Affairs all within a span of few months – not many can boost such a resume. Moreover ushered in a fresh lease of life to the ailing image of politicians by being transparent. Most popular Indian in twitter. All these made him into this list.

6 - G Madhavan Nair

The former chairman of ISRO for his incredible achievements in space research.

Vote now for the Indian of the Year 2009

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pathetic – Kerala Cricket Team

I am following the Ranji Trophy in general and Kerala cricket team in particular for more than 20 odd years, thanks to my proximity to Kerala Agricultural University ground, which was less than 500 meters away from my house. That was the only ground that Kerala team used to practice and play those days. So from school days I am following the Kerala cricket team and even now I follow judiciously all the matches involving Kerala cricket team.

Kerala was never a great team but was always an average team. There were some good players like KN Ananthapadbhanabhan and Ramprakash who were really unlucky, never to have played for India. Few times in the nineties Kerala has reached the knock-out stage of the Ranji Trophy (during the old format) and in the new format reached Elite group once and almost all these years reached at least up to the semifinals of the Plate group.

Performance of the Kerala Cricket Team this year was pitiable. They finished last in the Plate group. The Plate group itself is the second division and coming last in that means Kerala cricket team is the worst team in India! The teams from states like Assam, Tripura, Goa, Jharkhand where cricket infrastructure is less compared to Kerala finished way ahead of Kerala.

Just look at these statistics to understand the senseless performance of the Kerala cricket team.

Total Runs Scored: 848

Total Runs Conceded: 1451

Not a single batsman scoring a century

Just 2 batsman scoring half century

Batsman with average greater than 30 – JUST ONE

Just two batsmen scored more than 100 runs in the whole season while none crossed 200 runs.

Just one bowler to take more than 10 wickets in the entire season

Second highest wicket taker has total of 5 wickets to his credit

Finished last with just 2 points

Recently at a function in Thalasery, Kerala the chief selector of the Indian cricket team K Srikanth was mentioning that more players from Kerala will soon start playing for India. If the performance of the Kerala cricket team this season is any indicator then Kerala may have to wait for a long time to see another Sreesanth playing for India. It is time for the cricket bosses in Kerala to take some drastic action to put the Kerala cricket back to right track.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where There is a Will…

World is full of people who get discouraged when the going gets tough. But there are few people in the world who fight all the difficulties thrown out at them with courage and determination and come out with flying colors. We call them “GENIUS” and let me introduce to you one such genius.

Name: Joby Mathew

Job: International Arm Wrestler

Achievements: 1 Gold Medal, 1 Silver Medal and 3 Bronze Medals in International Arm Wresting Competitions

Joby, who hails from Ernakulam district of Kerala achieved all these in spite of the fact that he is only 3 feet 5 inch tall and has severely underdeveloped legs, a condition caused by Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD).

See some of the photos originally published by MailOnline below….

Good Luck to Joby to win more Medals for India… Hope this story inspires all of us to excel in our area of expertise.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going!!!

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nominate Your “Indian of the Year 2009”

I am planning to have “Indian of the Year 2009” contest in my blog. I plan to have the final six nominees for that selected by the readers of this blog. If you think a particular Indian should be Indian of the Year 2009, please nominate his/her name. Here are the rules for the nominations.

  1. You can nominate any number of nominees
  2. Nominees need to be Indian
  3. Please have your nominees as a comment for this post in the following format.

Nominee – Why you are nominating him/her. For example MS Dhoni – for leading India to No. 1 in ICC Test rankings

  1. Last date for nomination is 10 pm MST on December 18th.

Top six nominees from all nominated names will be compiled and an online poll will be created to select the Indian of the Year 2009. Thanks for your nomination.


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Friday, December 11, 2009

Kudos to Indian Railways!

When I was a kid Indian Railways was a source for standup comedians and mimicry artist, to make fun of, due to their inefficiency. I have heard lot of jokes about Indian Railways as I was growing up. One of them that I remember now is something like this. A family arrives at a railway station and sees Kanyakumari-Jammu Tawi Himasagar Express (longest running train on the Indian Railways in terms of distance and time) in the platform. The kid tells his father that Himasagar Express has arrived at the station on time. Hearing that father corrects the kid that the train was supposed to arrive yesterday at the same time and is running late by 24 hours!

On my recent visit to Kerala I realized that no comedian is going to crack jokes on Indian Railways anymore. In four days I travelled three south Indian states in five different trains and I was so amazed by the performance of Indian Railways. I was travelling in a train after a gap of five years and I could really feel the difference.

Once I decided that I am going for a vacation to India I booked all the tickets I needed online. It took me less than 5 minutes to book tickets in all those five trains. Gone are the days we have to go and stand in the queue for hours to book a ticket. Gone are the days we have to get up at 4 am to get tickets in Tatkal scheme only to find out that no more tickets are available when your turn comes up. I am really impressed by the online reservation software of railways. I am not a software guy but I was thinking about the complexity of the software the Indian Railways may be using. The software has to take care of so many trains, so many stops, and so many different classes of ticket and still it does a great job.

Now the timings – I should say, I reached all the places on time. Never was a single train late. That was a really new experience for me. Since all the trains were interstate I thought at least one of the trains may run late. It seems like trains running late has become a thing of the past. I came to one station two hours early and saw all the long distance trains coming to that station on time.

There was a time when you need to wait for over 6 hours to catch a train to Ernakulam from Trivandrum. Now every hour there is some train from Trivandrum to Ernakulam. I was amazed by the increase in the number of trains running in Kerala. Now I don’t think anyone can really complain that Railways is neglecting the state.

What does this point to? If such a huge public sector organization like Indian Railways can deliver to the needs of the people so efficiently, each and every department of Indian government can change and help the people of our country if the people who lead them show the courage to lead them efficiently. Kudos to former Railway Ministers Mr Nitish Kumar and Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav and all the officials in making Indian Railways a great servant of Indian people. Hope Indian Railways will climb up ladders under the leadership of present Railway Minister Ms Mamta Banerjee.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Creation of Telangana State – A suicidal decision?

Government of India has decided to initiate the process of formation of separate Telangana state bifurcating the existing state of Andhra Pradesh. This decision was taken by the Indian Government after the meeting between Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister.

Isn’t this a suicidal decision taken by the Central Government? Doesn’t it encourage the other regional parties/forces to take up agitation to creation of separate states? Is it good in a diverse country like India to have regionalism take over nationalism? We have seen lot of examples in the history what will happen to countries when regionalism takes over nationalism. The disintegration of elsewhere Yugoslavia is a best example. Hopefully India doesn’t follow that path.

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