Archive: Apr 2007

Incompetent Cricket Council

World Cup TrophyThe World Cup is over. Australia are the champions! Huge congratulations to them. They were brilliant through the entire tournament. They won every match by a huge margin. They were never challenged. They are they first team to ever win the World Cup three times and they have done it consecutively! Wow – they are truly in a different league from the rest of the teams. And thank you to Sri Lanka, who kept the South Asian representation going all the way to the finals!

Now, let’s come to the ICC – the International Cricket Council who have demonstrated they are nothing if not incompetent. This World Cup was the most pathetic ever. Writing about it makes me so angry because of the pain they have caused the teams, the fans and the damage they have done to the game.

  • Length: Who the hell has a tournament for seven weeks?? They are insane.
  • Ticket prices: So high that locals could not afford to attend. Every match I attended in the Super 8s had at least half the stands empty. The semi-final matches were also not sold out. Amazing.
  • Rules at the stadium: They sucked the joy out of Caribbean cricket – the fans didn’t bring their musical instrument and there was no Calypso. Damn – it was almost depressing.
  • Two mile exclusion zone: Fearing terrorism, all ticket holders were bused to the stadiums. The buses never ran on time. People often waited 45 minutes in a bus (I waited in a bus for an hour once!). And if you showed up late, you were out of luck. Huh? I paid for the ticket – I can go whenever I want. In Grenada, people walked 2 miles to the stadium!! What if someone was elderly? Amazing stupidity. In the US, fans still drive to Baseball and Football stadiums. There are ways to ensure safety and comfort for the fans. Oh, and in the midst of all this, in Grenada, I saw Mercedes cars and SUVs pull into the stadium for the ICC bigwigs. They should have been made to experience what the fans had to go through – aarrgh!!!

And finally, today’s sheer stupidity. The Barbados ground has no lights. That means the match has to end before it gets dark. But of course that would be impossible to ask of this incopetent organizing body. At the end of the day, the players were playing in the dark – we could see the players on TV, but when they turned off the camera enhancements to show us how it looked live, I could see almost nothing. The players could barely see each other.

With Australia having pretty much won the tournament (Sri Lanka needed 63 runs required from 18 balls with 7 wickets down!!), the batsmen were offered light (i.e. they could walk off because they couldn’t see anything). Australia assumed they won and celebrated. The scoreboard declared them winners. But oh no! Because of the stupid rules, the batsmen would either have to come back tomorrow to play or come out and play out the overs in the dark. The commentators were completely disbelieving of what was going on. With everyone wanting to get it over with, the Sri Lankans trooped out and batted out the final three overs. And then, Australia won – again.

When Tony Cozier introduced the ICC officials at the prize ceremony, the crowd booed loudly. And rightly so.

Heads are rolling in various cricket organizatons around the world because their teams performed so poorly. I hope heads roll in the Incompetent Cricket Council as well. The ICC should hide their heads in shame at one of the most poorly organized tournaments – ever!

Jeff Jarvis on the brouhaha

I’ve been reading Jeff Jarvis’ blog for years and have always found that he has the rare ability of being pithy while hitting the nail on the head.

Here’s a perfect example — he was on CBS being interviewed about the Don Imus brouhaha and more specifically the reaction in the blog world. Apparently there is some concern that people are out of control, saying mean, horrible things… and in light of the other bad publicity the blog world has been getting, should there, in fact, be some regulation of what people can say on the internet? Jeff’s answers could not be more perfect!

Market-driven religion

In the fight for the world’s population, the CEOs (heads/pontiffs) of major religions need to listen to the market in order to win the greatest number of customers (practitioners/believers/converts). It appears that the Catholic Church understands the business quite well –

In the 5th century, St. Augustine declared that all unbaptized babies went to hell upon death. By the Middle Ages, the idea was softened to suggest a less severe fate, limbo.

In his Divine Comedy, Dante characterized limbo as the first circle of hell and populated it with the great thinkers of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as leading Islamic philosophers.

The document published Friday said the question of limbo had become a “matter of pastoral urgency” because of the growing number of babies who do not receive the baptismal rite. Especially in Africa and other parts of the world where Catholicism is growing but has competition from other faiths such as Islam, high infant mortality rates mean many families live with a church teaching them that their babies could not go to heaven.

Father Thomas Weinandy, executive director for doctrine at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the document “addresses the issue from a whole new perspective — if we are now hoping these children get to heaven, there is no longer any point in worrying about limbo.”

With this step, Catholicism has removed the disadvantage they were facing. I can’t wait to see how the competitors respond as they try to regain an advantage 🙂

Hat tip: Boing Boing

MyBlogLog – brilliant customer support

MyBlogLogI’ve used MyBlogLog for a little over three months. I love the product – so well executed! In addition to the community features, I also use it to view the stats on my blog – it is very quick and easy.

I recently had cause to write in to their customer service. Immediately I got an auto response email that has to be one of the funniest I’ve seen in a long time:

Business opportunities

Please email [email] with details. Please keep in mind that we’re now a part of the Yahoo! team, so if you want to sell ads on our site, you’re SOL.


Piss off.

When was the last time you’ve seen SOL and Piss off in an email? Hilarious. Please Yahoo lawyers, don’t squash this free-spirited email with legalese – please!

Later the same day, a customer support gentleman, Steve H., wrote to me asking me for more information. When I provided it, he replied with a detailed explanation of why I was facing the problem. And then, he fixed it – by going way above and beyond what he needed to do. Wow! When was the last time someone did that for me? God, I can’t even remember.

We have become used to terrible service. So even when you get the service you deserve, you feel thankful.

However, there are very few companies who exceed expectations. Steve H. and MyBlogLog just did that and for that they have a loyal customer who will be sticking with them for a long time. I really hope that as Yahoo integrates them, they keep the wonderful aspects that MyBlogLog has going for it. Thanks again, Steve!

Recently on Tatvam

I’ve been getting slightly better with writing on my Tatvam blog and I promise that things will only get better. Really! I already have a ton of posts in my head.

With that said here’s what’s recently been on Tatvam:

  • Acting for directors: my first, formal, acting class – what I learned and the crazy things I did
  • Like no other: Sony Bravia’s fabulous advertisement shot on the streets of San Francisco and what went into it
  • Final cut tussels: Why directors and producers fight over “final cut” rights
  • In honor of Scorsese: Written in early March, thoughts on a brilliant review in the New York Times of the most un-Scorsese of Scorsese’s movies, Age of Innocence

I hope you enjoy them and I look forward to your thoughts!

An emergency landing

This past week, I got on an Air Jamaica flight from New York to Grenada. I had barely slept the previous night so right around take off at 7:40am, I fall asleep. I awake to hear the captain telling us to start preparing for landing.

I groggily look at my watch. I can’t possibly have been 5 hours. It was 8:00am. Huh? I flag a flight attendant – what’s going on? Apparently the captain announced that we have to go back to NY because there are flight control problems. Oh, and I should read the card in the seat back since this is an emergency landing and we will all need to be in the “brace position“.

That’s a first. In all my years of flying, this has never happened. I look around at the other passengers. There seems to be lots of nervous energy but everyone is dong something to keep their minds and hands occupied.

Oddly, I am not stressed. At all. In fact, it is the other extreme – I am very calm. I wonder if this is how I am going to die. At some level, I don’t really believe we are going to crash and die. Very detachedly, I think “Ah, well, it is what it is”. The pilot circles the landing strip in huge circles, trying hard to dump as much fuel as possible. I guess the turning is hard because of the control issues he’s having. But this goes on for about 35 minutes. I read the safety instruction card and examine the brace position – very straightforward.

Then the captain asks the flight attendants to take their seats. He orders all of us to go into brace position. This is where things got a touch nervy. The brace position I assumed was with my elbows on my knees, my hands clasping the opposite arm, and my head against the seat in front of me. The thing is that in this position, I couldn’t see very much. Actually, nothing besides my shoes. So, not knowing what was going on was what made it a touch scary. That and the fact that the captain barks over the PA system “Brace position! Brace position! Brace position!” Yes, we get it dude, we are all in brace position already. Snapping at us is just making us nervous! Maybe he had to do this – mandatory protocol to make us aware that this was serious stuff.

The plane made the approach and it was very rocky – lots of swaying with one wing always above the other instead of in stable equilibrium. He hit the ground and jammed on the brakes like there was no tomorrow. Screeching halt, my head firmly imbedded in the seat in front of me. Phew – we had landed. As soon as we came to a stop, 40 or so emergency vehicles surround us. More ambulances and fire engines in the distance leave the scene, happy that the plane didn’t explode. The captain tells us that one of the wheels is on fire/smoking and the fire department is looking into it. We sit there for a while and then finally start pulling into the gate.

There is an Air Jamaica employee sitting near me. I see her quietly take her cash and passport out of her bag and put them in her pockets. Hmm… I wonder if they will make us leave everything on-board. I do the same.

The captain announces that this happens sometimes. Much like a car, aircrafts need service. What?? How dare he even make the analogy?! Well, first, you don’t find out you have to service an aircraft when you are in midair. Second, as an airline, you are PAID to make sure that aircrafts are serviced regularly – BEFORE there are issues. Isn’t that what service days are for?? Honestly, I was not upset that this happened – stuff happens. But the captain trying to make a lame excuse? That made me really mad. When things go wrong, accept responsibility, stand up and be accountable. That’s what differentiates great companies that can lead in times of crisis

We disembark – I see the Air Jamaica employee hug another employee on the ramp. She is shaken. Must have been a first for her too. And apparently this was quite serious. I learn later that even when we landed, we could have blown up since we had so much fuel. Thankfully we didn’t.

Air Jamaica does a terrible job sharing information. No apologies, no information. The standard $8 meal coupon for passengers is handed out an hour and a half after we have disembarked. Terrible – this load of passengers just went through something scary – do you need to check their tickets before handing out a coupon? Hand them out like candy! Break the rules and give everyone four coupons so they can eat a great meal. Make them happy!!!

I think airline employees should learn how to step up in these situations and make the passengers feel better – break the rules, do more than expected and you will have customers for life. Do the basic required minimum and you’ll have people who will try to avoid flying you ever again. Air Jamaica clearly fell into the second bucket for me.

I see the captain a couple of hours after we land as the crew is being changed. I ask him if it has been fixed. He says yes. I ask him are we sure it won’t happen again. He says that we can never be sure, but if it happens again, the new captain will be able to land the plane again. Such words of inspiration!

I spend my time calling family and telling them I am fine. I watch some cricket on my computer and chat with my fellow passengers – many of them Grenadians who live in New York who are going home for a visit.

Finally, at 2:30, the plane was fixed and we took off again – on the same airplane. Everyone was nervous this time around. The plane seems to struggle to get off the ground. But we are off.

I look out the window at a shrinking New York. I wasn’t really nervous through 99% of the experience (except when brace position was being yelled at me), and even though I know how statistically safe air travel is, I think this experience will come to mind each time I take off – at least for the next few months.

The US in data

Want to know male/female ratio of a city before you move there? Want to know the income levels, racial composition or educational levels of any part of the US? Well, you can find out all that and more on Social Explorer, a site that maps the demographic data of the US in fascinating detail.

Demographic Map

All based on census data, you can spend hours looking at detailed information for your neighborhood – I just found out that 45-50% of the people on my block have never been married! And you can go back in time and look at how things looked in 1940 too.

Go forth and get to know your neighbors through data!

Discovered this very cool map via VSL

I get it now…

I love the ocean. Love, love, love it. My ideal location for a home would be on the beach. Although I technically live on an island, oceanfront-living is er… somewhat out of the question in NYC. So, I love our little beach vacations.

But one of the things I’ve never really understood was lying on the beach, under an umbrella1. Isn’t it boring? Don’t you get hot? Wouldn’t it be more comfortable to lie on the balcony of your room perhaps? Don’t you feel totally decadent lying there – getting up only to apply more sunblock, or langorously pick up a drink or pop a snack into your mouth?

With all these questions flashing through my brain, I decided that before I judged what was heretofore a purely foreign concept, I should try it. So I packed up my bag with my book, sunblock, camera, wallet, iPod and sunglasses. I donned the requisite bathing suit and definitely requisite wrap, stylish hat and comfy flipflops and sashayed (I hope I sashayed!) over to the beach.

The perfect white umbrella was setup and I ordered the mandatory drink with mandatory umbrella and I settled down. Hmm… this was not so bad. The view was spectacular – wow! (for actual view see picture below) And the people-watching was quite fun too. Oh, couple frolicking at 11 o’clock. Father with cutie baby splashing about at 2 o’clock. Kayakers milling about at 1:30 o’clock (wait – I can’t say that, can I?)

Drink arrives. Enough looking around like an inexperienced newbie! I have to look the part – quick peek around at everyone else. Yes, they are all ensconced in their books. I too must do the same. Sip the drink, take out book. Sip the drink, read book (loop endlessesly). This was quite a lot of fun. The coconut tree branches make the most wonderfully soothing rustling noise in the wind. There are moments where there is no breeze and I start to feel a touch hot, but right on queue, the wind kicks up again. Perfect for a little nap.

The hours pass quickly. A late afternoon snack is consumed while continuing to recline. Little surprises are delivered just when you want them – a cold towel to wrap around a hot neck, a piece of melon to munch on. Equilibrium is maintained All is well with the world. And right around 5:30, the wind picks up, the warmth of the sun diminishes and I get ready to go back to my room having accomplished my mission.

All it took was one afternoon to make me a convert for life. I totally get what this is about. It is about nothing. Absolutely nothing. Deliciously spending an afternoon doing nothing. No stress, no to-dos, no walking, no talking, no heavyduty thinking. The only sounds you hear are the waves and the leaves. The only sights you see are the open water, the trees and out in the water, people being happy. What could be as relaxing? A massage, probably, but this is right up there with a great massage. And it lasts a lot longer and costs a whole lot less. What a novel concept.

I loved it. I am sold. I want to part of this club. I promise I will do my best to graduate to a full day the next time around. Ooh, just the thought of that sounds delicious! I can’t wait…

My view

  1. As an aside, if you actually spend all vacation lying under an umbrella, you may wonder why I go on beach-oriented vacations if I don’t lie on the beach. Well, the thing is that looking at the beach is wonderful too. And so is just being in warm, wonderful weather, eating yummy food, etc. etc. 

Amazing cricket, anguished fans

Three to winWhat. A. Match! Wow!! To watch a match like today’s Sri Lanka versus England match live is what makes cricket so much fun. While the World Cup so far, and most definitely the matches in Antigua, have been very one-sided, today’s match was amazing.

England bowled well to keep the Sri Lankans to 235. And then they batted well to stay in the match – for the most part. They sort of lost the plot in the middle and it looked like Sri Lanka might win handily. But Ravi Bopara and Paul Nixon came together and they batted brilliantly. Last over – England needed 11 to win. Last ball – England needed 3 to win…

The stadium was packed with English fans. Where are all the Sri Lankan fans? There were barely a handful and a big chunk of them were Indians who were rooting for Sri Lanka – like us.

Now, I’m perfectly fine being in the minority, but I’ve never really watched a match with English fans. While the large majority cheer their team and behave like “normal” fans, there are a handful that behave disgracefully. The problem starts because they drink non-stop. A bunch of guys around us were never without a beer and the few seconds their cups were empty was when they were walking to get more beer. That’s fine if you can handle your liquor, but some of them can’t.

So, around the 40th over, when it seemed like England was going to lose (before the Bopara/Nixon run-fest), there started to be loud cries of “Cheaters” hurled at the Sri Lankans. Excuse me?!?! Then, there was an incident when Sri Lanka appealed a tad excessively, the “Cheaters” and “Cheating” cries re-emerged. When does appealing constitute cheating, folks? Never, that’s when!

Then comes the final over. The final ball is due to be bowled. Three runs needed off one ball… Fernando runs up to bowl and completes his action – but where’s the ball? It never came out of his hand! Dead ball is signalled by the umpire. Now, I don’t know why that happened – if he had a glitch or if it was intentional. If he felt that he couldn’t deliver the ball the way he wanted, he is fully within his rights and within the rules of the game to not deliver the ball.

But it was very clear what the vocal English fans around us thought. Screaming, yelling, “Cheaters” “Disgraceful – that was disgraceful”. One of the guys yelling was right behind me, so turned around to get a quick peek and I noticed he was yelling looking at us (assuming, naturally, that we were Sri Lankan). It was almost frightening to see how upset and angry they were. I can understand disappointment, but letting their anguish get to the point where they lose all judgement? These are grown, adult men, behaving like children who can’t deal with losing a game. Disgusting. What was truly disgraceful is how these English fans behaved.

I never want to watch another match where England is playing. England, much like India, is a pathetically unpredictable team. They can be brilliant, but more commonly, they collapse dramatically without a moments notice. So their fans are likely going to be upset a lot. Who wants to deal with this kind of nonsensical behavior?? And remember, the English cricket fans are supposed to be leagues better than the English soccer fans!

Sorry, back to the match. Re-bowl the last ball. BOWLED HIM. Shattered the stumps. Silence all around. The handful of Sri Lankan supporters, us included, stand up and yell and scream “Yeah, baby!! Clean bowled!” (Well, to be honest, I said the “Yeah, baby” bit 🙂 ) The Sri Lankan team get in their huddle, celebrating. Amazing. Seven hours of play and it all comes down to the final ball.

This is why I love cricket! I could not have asked for a more brilliant match to end our wonderful sojourn in Antigua.

Sri Lanka win

Photograph credits: Me 🙂