No change in DJIA for the day!

DJIA_Apr 24, 2014

I’m not sure how many days like today has there been, but this seems pretty incredible to me!

Categories: Economics, News, WTF | Leave a comment

Polar Bear Plunge 2013

The Polar Bear Plunge is held as a fundraiser for Special Olympics Minnesota. U.S. Bank is the biggest corporate sponsor, they even have their own special tent! This was my second year running.

[click on the 1st snap and you’ll be able to view bigger photos as a slideshow]

Categories: It only happens in Minnesota, WTF | Leave a comment

Wealth inequality in America

An eye opener. See if you what you “think” corresponds to reality.

Jon Stewart once said something along the lines of (and this is not verbatim, just as much as I remember) : “People say that 50% of the population doesn’t pay enough taxes. Let’s suppose you tax the bottom 50% of earners 100% of their income. Take away all their possession, you still will not get enough in taxes as you would from the top 10% . The bottom 50% simply don’t have wealth.”

The visual corroboration of that statement.

Categories: Demystify, Economics, WTF | Leave a comment

Affairs of the defense

Two pieces of seemingly unrelated news came in through the news today, late on a Friday evening.

Or are they?

Decorated General, CIA director David Petraeus resigned after admitting to an extra-marital affair. Why did he admit? Anybody’s guess …

Christopher Kubasik, incumbent CEO of Lockheed Martin resigned after admitting to an improper relationship with a subordinate.

Let’s see. Lockheed Martin is one of the biggest contractor of the Pentagon. CIA is the clandestine organization within the Department of Defense. Somehow both these chiefs resigned on the very same day, due to eerily similar reasons, after admitting to their failings, not caught red-handed or accused by someone else.

How coincidental is that?!

Categories: Life and Times, News, WTF | Leave a comment

Something’s wrong

…when you can get more cash back on your credit card than you can earn on interest on your bank accounts (checking/savings accounts).

If that did not sink in, read the sentence above again. Then close your eyes and think what this means.  No one – the government, banks, corporations, the SYSTEM – wants you to save money. It’s all about spending, baby!

On one of my cards I get back 1.5%  on every dollar that I spend. On another, I get 1% guaranteed back, and 5% on various categories, which change every quarter. The 2nd card gives me anywhere between 2 to 3% cash back every month.

When compared to the rate offered by most banks, either brick-and-mortar or online, which is a pittance nowadays. You’d be lucky to get even 1% rate of interest on your checking or savings account.

Except, certain credit unions and small banks which offer over 4% interest on your saved up money. Use this link to see the rates in your area.

Now think about one reason why you would not avail these.


…when you go to the theater to watch a Hindi movie and invariably there are babies/infants/toddlers who will cry out time and again.

How hard it is for Indian parents to either a) not go to a movie when you have a kid who is young enough to disrupt everyone else’s viewing time  b) get a baby-sitter at home, if you really can’t wait for the movie to come out on DVD? Apparently, quite hard.

Doesn’t fail to happen every single time  we go to watch a Hindi/Bollywood movie (which is not very often)!

And the strangest part of it all is that the same parents will never take their babies to a Hollywood movie. It is just somehow acceptable to take them to Hindi movies, where you know there will be an overwhelming majority of Indians. The thinking goes something like this: Oh, everyone is Indian there, they won’t mind my baby screaming at the top of its lung.

We DO mind. A lot.

Categories: Economics, Rant, WTF | 2 Comments

Man on plane, beside me

I was flying back from Nashville, Tennessee to Minneapolis. The plane had a stopover in St. Louis, Missouri but it was the same plane coming to Minneapolis so I did not have to disembark and board again. There I was sitting pretty in an aisle seat. The middle seat next to me was vacant. The plane was almost full.

Here comes a Caucasian male, mid-twenties. Sweating, looking distraught. His eyes switch quickly to the open seat and then to me, and first thing he says, “I’ll give you 20 bucks if you let me sit in your seat and you take the middle one“. Before I could respond, he adds “This is my first time flying, I’m so scared man“. He’s almost crying. I take pity on him and move into the middle seat and graciously decline the payment for this good deed. He is persistent. Takes out his wallet (which is laden with bill, denominations unknown), withdraws a note and tries to stuff it into my palm. Now I’m embarrassed, telling him that it’s fine, he doesn’t need to pay me. He plops down with a deep exhale.

There begins a very interesting 1 and half hours of my life.

Once he buckles in, and tightens the seat belt so far taut that it cuts into his belly, he starts talking to the person across the aisle, the person in front of him and to the person sitting in the window seat, next to me. Explains, repetitively, how this is his first time flying, how scared he is, how he has children waiting for him back home. When he has calmed down a bit, I try to strike up a conversation with him, hoping this would provide a distraction to his inner fear.

“Where are you from?”

I’m from Oklahoma, man. I have my kids back there. And my girlfriend. Will I see them again?

“I’m sure you will! Flying is one of the safest mode of transportation.” Gotta steer the conversation to neutral ground. “Were you on business in St. Louis?”

Oh, yeah. I had to strike up a ‘deal’. A lot of money involved. Are we already flying?“. Understandably, as he wasn’t trying to be shy about how much money he had.

“Oh, good. I’m glad it went well. How long were you in St. Louis?”

Just for a couple of hours, and I was in the airport for most of that time. Are we already flying?” Strange.

“Oh, ok. So what do you do?”

I drive, man. Cadillac. All my life. My dad did that before me. I like driving. Cadillacs. I wish I could drive up to Minneapolis. Are we already flying?“. Stranger.

Not telling him aloud that flying is statistically safer than driving, I ask, “So what prompted you to fly this time around?”

Five thousand dollars, man, five thousands dollars. My cousins will give me five thousand dollars when I reach Minneapolis. Are we already flying?“.

Ohkay, I’ve heard enough and not trying to prolong this conversation, I slowly extricate the book that I’ve been reading from the front flap and start reading. But he isn’t done yet.

I’m Italian (born of Italian parents, I presumed, as he sounded quite American). I joined my dad into the family business. My mom is Irish. She lives in Rochester (around 2 hours drive south from Minneapolis). Thanks man for giving your seat to me. Let me give you a 20“. Tries to take out this wallet again. When I stop him, he shakes my hand profusely and says, “You’re a good man!“.

By this time the plane is ready for take-off. Once the plane begins to accelerate, he turns pale(r), grips his seat rests and looks straight on. Once the plane lifts off, he turns towards me and gives a sheepish grin. He now knows we are flying.

At cruising altitude, he struggles with his seat belt to get it off. The stewardess come to help him. As soon as he’s free, he jumps up and hugs the her! She’s surprised. She asks if wants anything to drink. “Rum and coke“. Then proceeds to ask all around him if he can buy them a drink. No takers.

Gets his drink. Seems to be calming down. He turns to me and says, conspiratorially, “I’m used to weed. Can’t have them on the plane, so I’ve been drinking.” Ah, explains – if you’re used to weed, deprived of it you’re bound to act strange. Alcohol to the rescue!

He has finished off his drink in 2 or 3 gulps. His tongue really lets loose now.

Hey, you look like one of those guys.” My querying eyes begs him to define ‘those’. “You know, man …those guys who wants to bomb our planes“. To justify his theory he adds, “With your mustache and everything ….” By this time I’m laughing out loud. “I’m kidding man, you are the good guy“. Again offers to give me money, now a hundred buck and buy me a drink.

As if he realized he’s stepped out of his boundaries and to make peace, he adds after a few minute, “Do you do coke man? I’ve got plenty of coke …do you want some?” I’m still laughing about the previous comment. I shake my head. He shows me his Rolex, apparently thinking that he still needs to make up. He looks at my watch (a Titan – a gift from almost 5 years ago) and asks if I want to trade! Assures me that his watch is at least $300. No, thank you.  Enough is enough, I decide. I put my book away, adjust my neck pillow, close my eyes, and fall asleep.

The jarring of the landing wake me up. The guy is sleeping. Let sleeping Italians lie, I pray silently. But the guy across the aisle, prods him awake. He’s paranoid. “Are we in Minneapolis?” he asks at least 4 different people around him. Satisfied he grabs my fist again, for the last round of shake.

We de-board and I put as much distance between him and me. Since I don’t have checked in baggage, I walk out of the airport with my carry-on. Mr. Cadillac-driving-coke-snorting-Rolex-wearing-Italian, (I can’t put my finger on it, but what does that remind me of?) bye and thanks for the hilarious time!

Categories: Life, WTF | 4 Comments


  • Minnesota State Government has shut down since 12:01 am today. Except for essential services, everything else is closed.  The impasse is over the approval of the state budget, which faces a $5 billion deficit. Democrat Governor Mark Dayton plans to fix this with (more) tax on individuals earning over $180K and couples over $300K. He is ready to limit this to only those earning over $1 million. The Republican state Congress do not want any taxes, only spending cuts. Come on folks, get this done!  I’m with Gov. Dayton on this one.
  • This article was a cracker! An email written by a would be step-mother-in-law to the prospective bride, gone viral. On one hand this is so inappropriate, but on the other hand all the points she mentions are actually quite valid points! Given a different context and mode of delivery, these are things I was taught growing up.
  • Have you ever had this moment: you’re walking out of the house/work, talking on the phone; you check to see if you have your wallet and phone in your pocket, and when you don’t find the tell-tale bump in your pocket where your phone is supposed to be, you panic and turn around? And a second later realize, you are actually talking on the phone! Yeah, happens to me a lot.
Categories: WTF | Leave a comment

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