This week’s news of Tiger Woods’ SUV veering off the road down a slope on a curving road brought some memories of dangerous drives. More than a decade ago I took up a job that was based in Dubuque, IA. The place of work was about 90 miles from my home in Madison. While driving back and forth everyday was possible it would have taken ~ 3 hours or more of commute time everyday and during winter even more. The workplace was in downtown Dubuque, which is a nice little town in Iowa. There were quite a bit of out-of-towners who had joined and some of us probably added some color to otherwise lily-white Iowa Dubuque is just on the other side of the mighty Mississippi river driving in from Wisconsin. It’s got colleges and there is some mining history too. Main tourist attraction though is around Mississippi river and National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is a cool place. There is one casino around and a few more in the vicinity. Driving between Madison and Dubuque everyday would have required quite a bit of concentration and with me working long hours preferred to stay in a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) place in Dubuque during weekdays, driving in on Monday and driving back home Friday evening.
The B&B I was staying in was on top of a bluff with a cool view of the river at some distance and other places around. I had joined in spring which is among the better times of year, in terms of weather, around these parts. With office being in downtown and no office parking available my daily routine was driving in from B&B, parking car at a public parking garage and then walking couple of blocks to workplace. Steps repeated in reverse in the evening. Of course on Monday morning would drive in from home to parking garage and on Friday evening drive from parking garage to home, come hell or high weather! The shortest route (through 3rd street) from B&B to public parking space and back is quite steep. During warm weather the somewhat floating feel while driving down to parking space was amusing. Came winter and the routine joy of driving turned into a scare, on snowy days especially. Each day my heart used to be in my mouth as I drove down to work and drive back to B&B literally required stepping on the gas Used to drive to work with prayer on my lips everyday, even God might have been gotten a bit tired of me (It did my confidence no good that during the 2 years I stayed in this B&B my car hit a patch of black ice and skid off the highway while driving in from Madison on a particularly bad weather Monday morning, about 20 miles from Dubuque). There was another route to work through 5th street but that was even steeper with added bonus of the road curving for more driving fun. Suffice it to say the joy of rolling down the windows and driving the freeway on a clear, sunny day evaporated fully by the time winter came calling. Upon learning about Tiger Woods’ unfortunate car accident I googled Dubuque steep roads and sure enough 3rd street and 5th street figured at or near the top of “10 streets you’d rather not have to drive in winter” under “Dubuque’s Most Treacherous Hills” in a local newspaper ( https://www.telegraphherald.com/…/article_67339e4c-d321… ). I guess driving from or to a place at an elevation with view comes with a price when driving conditions are not good. Consider myself lucky for escaping without an injury for the 2 years of heart stopping driving moments during winter. Tiger wasn’t lucky, hopefully he recovers fully quickly
It was a cold winter morning. As is the norm at the start of the year around these parts temps were below freezing. I set out for weekend grocery shopping in masked glory. Shopping list wasn’t too long. Even with my tendency to check out for interesting stuff, not necessarily required, wrapped up shopping quickly by my standards. Stepping out of the shop I was greeted by cold blast of wind. After dropping shopping bags in the trunk turned on the ignition of the car. It was quite cold inside the car. While waiting for the engine to warm up turned on the heater too. Longing for warmer weather my thoughts traveled and I drifted back in time to my early teens back in India.
It was a warm summer day late in the morning in the Mumbai / Bombay suburb Mulund. Summer holidays time. After my lunch I was itching for some activity. My brother was quite engrossed in reading a mystery novel. Other friends in the neighborhood were either preoccupied with whatever they were doing or out of town for the holidays. I decided to go out for a walk. Stepping out of our apartment I headed right. There were some late morning devotees entering and exiting the nearby Ashram Temple (A). I soon discovered my sandals needed some work. Luckily there was a cobbler right near the temple. Waiting as he set about repairing my sandals I could hear devotees ringing the temple bells. Could also hear the sound of flour mill (C) nearby grinding flour for customers who liked their dough fresh for their breads/naans/rotis/chapathis. Repair work done I turned right at the crossroad. Walking at a leisurely pace I was just soaking in the surroundings. To my right were trio of shops: Coal shop, Milk shop and ration shop (D). Coal guy was loading bags for delivery in his cart, Milk shop was serving a customer hot milk in Patiala mug sized containers, there was a line of customers at the ration shop waiting to buy fuel (kerosene), rice and other essentials at Government subsidized rates. Business as usual. I kept walking ahead. Just ahead of the next crossroad were couple of interesting shops: Ice factory (E) with huge blocks of ice covered by sawdust to slow down melting and also serving cold drinks and a used book store (F) which always used to be chock-a-block with all kinds of books, in shelves from floor to ceiling. Those were the days much before advent of personal computing. Always wondered how the book shop guy managed to remember what books were where. While all I could normally see was madness the guy must have had a method to it as he had been in business for years I decided to turn right instead of going straight as the Sun was, at the top of the game around noon time, beating down mercilessly. I resisted the temptation of buying crushed ice from the streetside vendor (G) who was selling crushed ice of all kinds of colors and flavors. At the next crossroad I again turned right. Just ahead of me to the right was Balaji / Raghavendra temple (H). Always had a bit of complicated relationship with God, sometimes transactional (especially around the times school exam results were due ), sometimes pally when prayers were answered and sometimes angry when it seemed bad appear to be triumphing over good . I did a mental bow and proceed ahead. By the time I near the next crossroad my throat was parched and needed liquid replenishment. Fortunately there was a sugarcane juice shop (I) right there and I thought nothing better than a freshly crushed sugarcane with a hint of ginger for quenching thirst. I ordered a glass of the summertime favorite and closed my eyes. Suddenly I heard the loud ringing of telephone. Wondering where the sound came from I opened my eyes. Imagine my surprise when I found myself inside my car and it was wife calling me on cellphone to ask me what was taking me so long .
Broken out of my reverie and transported to the present I mumbled that I ran into an old friend at the grocery store and would be back home shortly. By then the inside of the car was hot as I must have been lost in my thoughts for a good 15 minutes. I opened the windows to let some outside air in. Nothing like a cold blast of air to jolt one back to reality. Driving back home I was amused by the thought how my wife would react if she unmasked the “old friend” and learned I was referring to was myself, albeit younger. Was also hoping my marriage had a “can get lost in thought every now and then” clause for me to cover for reaching any place later than planned
Wow. awesome! Dr Fauci’s energy, willingness to learn, adapt and act accordingly, put in extra hours for research and other administrative work and then communicate clearly simply amazing Perhaps the most amazing quality is speaking truth to power and it’s good that is specifically mentioned as a reason for the award Qualities worthy of admiration and emulation You da man, Dr Fauci! Take a bow!
Fictional American United States (AUS) Inc an enterprise, formed over 240 years ago, is well known in its field. Over this period of time the enterprise, which has grown into a behemoth, has established a rich history of innovation, scaling and responding to the needs of its customer base. Thanks to its wide sphere of influence and its sometimes controversial methods, it has attracted, in equal measure, awe, respect, admiration, fear and hatred from friends, foes and competitors.
VxCine is the current flagship product of AUS Inc, designed to address the C-19 problem that has vexed researchers and people around the world in recent times. AUS Inc has two main divisions, GOP – responsible for sales and marketing and Dems – responsible for R&D, production and distribution. For Q4 2020 quarter AUS Inc, under stewardship of CEO from GOP division, reported $74 billion in sales and $81 billion in expenses. It’s the biggest loss in AUS history and under pressure from the public a new CEO, from Dems division, assumed leadership role as CEO in January’ 2021.
The unprecedented loss in Q4 2020 was attributed to quality issues with the VxCine product. The aggrieved GOP division has accused the Dems division of stealing a march and getting a raw deal. Per GOP division sources losses can be reversed quickly by budgeting more for sales and marketing and solving quality and production, distribution problems on the fly with emphasis on moving at warp speed. The Dems leadership, on the other hand, have advocated for a more deliberate approach by increasing investment in R&D, streamlining and standardizing production and distribution. Per Dems the problems with VxCine run deep and require both a short-term and long-term approach for restoring AUS to good health. For the short-term, the Dems want to target the highest priority VxCine problems with alacrity which they expect to act as a shot in the arm cutting down the losses and returning back to profitability relatively quickly. For the longer term the Dems’ fix will require a overhaul of production and distribution processes and more spending on R&D to strengthen the offering and ensure consistently high quality product. The Dems contend GOP approach will result in more problems getting reported and resources getting diverted from more important tasks and their own approach will be better for long term health of AUS Inc.
Both approaches have their own merits and drawbacks. Continuing with GOP approach would probably improve the top line while addressing the existing problems could act as a drag on the bottom line. The Dems proposal comes with a hefty price tag involving transformational change with risk of falling short if the plan does not work as expected. Dems say that’s needed for the long term viability and stability of the enterprise. AUS Inc finds itself at the crossroads of history. Remains to be seen how it all works out. The world is watching
Living in Wisconsin means snow in winter is a given! There are some fringe benefits though. For example, you can earn cookie points. Lost? Let me explain!
When I blow snow from my driveway and sidewalk I clear snow for my next door neighbor too. My reasoning is simple: I get some physical exercise and if I can get undue credit for snow blower doing the hard work, why not? Neighbor is a good person and feels guilty I do it for free. So, sometimes I get paid in kind. Neighbor knows I have sweet tooth and offers to make home-baked cookies for me in return. Of course it’s an offer I can’t refuse. Who says no to fresh, home-baked cookies, right?
Couple of weeks ago I cleared snow and got a choice of 2 types of cookies: Peanut butter cookie with a little chocolate on top OR Chocolate chip cookies. Greedy me wanted to say “Make it a double order, I will have them both” but sometimes even I feel shame. So, I asked my son what he would prefer. With a rueful look he replied “I will adjust with chocolate chip cookies” . I was enraged. No, not for any good reason. I immediately shot back in mock rage “Hey, that’s my line!” à la that Seinfeld series episode where the main characters utter that line in a humorous way. Three dozen fresh, home-baked cookies were ready for dad and son to tuck teeth into by the time snow was cleared!
Today I was offered some more fresh, home-baked cookies as reward for clearing the snow. We still have some cookies left that we got as reward for our previous effort. Even though it was heartbreaking to say no I politely declined the offer and took a rain check instead. With the temps below freezing all week and for the next few days and a cup of joe always welcome in such weather the twisted side of me felt tempted to encourage the neighbor to become a barista. Another opportunity for neighbor to creatively express food and beverage art, what say? Ultimately I convinced myself not to push my luck too far and be satisfied with cookies rain check.
Bottom line: My simple ambition in life is to do one good deed a day and crack one good joke a day. Snowfall sometimes helps with the deed part. As for good joke, I still have some ways to go
Hey kids, are you hungry? Raj is putting it all together, cooking something That’s been known to perk up the mood Especially when it’s cold weather He’ll kill it when it’s done, so stick around You’re gonna witness something special Encased in dough walls of round!
Say, Candy and Ronnie, have you seen it yet? Ooh, the veggies are well spaced out Oh it’s quite weird but wonderful It’s got the cheese and tomatoes It’s got the olives and bell peppers You know you saw it here first, ohh-oh R-R-R-Raj and his naan pizza creation!
– Lyrics sliced from Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets”