Friday, June 29, 2012

Farewell dear friends

Dear Dr. Rao and Ambica

I am feeling sad to know that you will be leaving Austin soon. I have known both you guys for close to a decade now and knowing you guys was one of the best things that happened in my life.

You are one of my best buddies and the ones whom I knew I could count on under any circumstance. I remember that one time I had called upon Dr. Rao on a weekday to pick me up from my car dealer in Georgetown,TX and drop me back home in south Austin, he didn’t hesitate for a single moment and showed up to help me out. You guys were my support and behind the scene folks for most of our apartment relocations. For all the  events we have hosted, we always call upon you guys for food pickup and you have always obliged our requests.

There is one thing in specific that I am grateful to Ambica is for making me stick with the Art of Living foundation, there was a time when I was dejected with the behavior of some of the members of the foundation, talking to her brought back the sanity in me and I decided to hang in there. I am glad that I did.

The few trips we have done together have been really wonderful and memorable. I wish we had done a few more.  

I have learnt a lot by observing and interacting with you guys. I am a big fan of your down to earth nature and simplicity. I will definitely miss the ever smiling faces, the logical arguments of Dr. Rao, the patented dance moves, the endless jokes and conversations, the list goes on.

Many do not know, there is a poet hidden in Dr. Rao and I was one of the lucky ones to witness the same.            

It is a small world we live in and Bangalore happens to be my home town, will definitely meet you guys whenever we visit India. You sure will be missed here in Austin. 



Another random post

I walk into restaurants like Which Wich or Subway or other non Indian ones, I see a bunch of high school looking kids managing the show. I rarely see anybody old and matured with the owner type looks being there.

Now compare that to any Indian owned and operated. I bet you will see the owner operating the cash register and a bunch of illegal immigrant like looking people who can barely understand English working as bus boys and waiters/waitress or helping around the stores. 

One argument is that the Indian folks are protecting their investment and maximizing their profits. But on the other hand those who have put money to own the franchise like subway or which wich aren't the highest order philanthropists.

Another argument we can make is that Indian operated stores cater to a specific customer base and hence good to have an ethnically familiar face at the head, I can buy that argument to an extent but not completely. It could also be a trust issue that comes with the culture, we do not trust others specially young kids when it comes to money.

I think the sensible argument is that these stores start off as family owned and operated business and tend to continue the same way. Very rarely do they grow to the extent of opening multiple branches across multiple cities and states. I am not stereotyping anything but noting a general trend I have observed across multiple cities across multiple states in the USA.      

Come to think of it, this is the story of most ethnic family owned restaurants. Whether it is Chinese or Mexican or Vietnamese or Indian. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Home sales and economy

Recently we bought a house here in Austin, after evaluating the options of “getting the house built” with “buying an existing house”, we ended up with the latter than the former. In the process what stuck me was the number of people that I directly interacted with in the process of home buying/selling.

Realtors: 1 for each buyer and seller. One thing I realized was that it is virtually impossible to buy an existing house in Austin without the help of the realtor. There are websites like Redfin which help with the listings in the neighborhood and providing  comparative market analysis but wouldn’t give you a way of contacting the sellers realtor without going through them. Apart from this, the agility with which the paper work needs to be done and the paper work itself makes you hire a good realtor.

Finance: There are 2 options here, option 1 is to go with the existing big bank like Bank of America or Chase. Option 2 is to go through a middle man called the loan officer who will work with different banks and get you the rate. I went with the latter option. There was a loan officer to whom I spoke first and then her assistant who worked with me to get my loan through.  

Appraisal: The bank sends the appraisal person but I had to cough up the fees for the same.

Inspection: Are there hidden problems in the house that one should be aware of before going through the sale. This one is for my own peace of mind and not a mandated one. But again nobody buys a house without going through this step. 

Survey: This comes with the house when built and I believe provided by the builder but if there are modifications to the house like a covered porch or a pool. Need to hire a survey guy to do a survey of the property (seller does this).     

Title company: This is the company who acts as meditators between the buyers and seller parties and takes responsibility for transferring the money from buyers bank to sellers bank. They also issue the title insurance quoting that they will stand behind the documents of the house we are buying. They have a ton of lawyers and the Escrow officers and their assistants. 

Warranty and Insurance company: I have listed them together but are actually 2 different ones. One provides warranty for the appliances in the house and can be rejected if not interested (usually good to take it for seller is paying for most of it). The other one is mandatory and no escaping out.

If my count is right, apart from the buyer and seller there were 11 people directly involved to complete the transaction, I am sure there were a few more that I didn’t directly interacted with.

It appears that the sale of existing homes is an industry in itself. Now I understand why the sale of existing homes bears such an impact on the economy. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Iphone 4 home button problem – revisited

Before Apple introduced the iOS 5, my iphone 4 with its iOS 4 had to be connected to the PC to update the software once in a while. But with iOS 5 it introduced “over the air updates” and said even Iphone 4 can be upgraded too but forgot to mention that the phone needs to be connected to the computer once in a while and do a sync with iTunes, In my case failing to do this makes the home button on Iphone 4 irresponsive. 

I had written a blog post a few months ago that one needs to hook up a vacuum cleaner to clear the dust beneath the home button. I think I was wrong, I realized accidentally and proved to myself again and again that if the home button becomes irresponsive then connect to the computer and do a sync with iTunes.

One interesting thing to note is that my wife’s Iphone 4s which was launched with iOS 5 does not suffer the same problem. She rarely syncs with ITunes but her phone’s home button seem to be working like new for ever. My guess is that APPLE made changes in the hardware to support the iOS 5 over the air updates which was never revealed to the public. 

One more interesting thing to note is that the solution I found for the home button problem on Iphone 4 is not recorded anywhere on the web. So, I wonder if my solution works with my phone only.

Birds in our backyard

IMG_0027 IMG_0025

Few days ago we noticed that White-winged Dove’s had nested in both our front and backyard trees. We were so excited that we would get to see the young ones and all but the happiness was short lived. Within a few days both the birds abandoned their nests. My guess, the male was two timing both the females and they got to know about it :).   

Note both pics were taken by my Canon 18-55mm kit lens and the first pic was shot through a glass window with a black wire mesh attached to it. Now I have upgraded my lens to a Sigma 18-250mm lens and life is completely different after that. Below is the pic of a humming bird feeding in our backyard.


Funny part is, I ordered the 18-250mm lens to capture the doves nests from up close but by the time the lens arrived the birds had flown off their nests. May be next season we will have better luck.