Singapored!

This is just another update timelining my life.

Disclaimer: Whatever I have written below is all in good humor and there is no intention to offend anyone.
I like Singapore much better than US. It is amazingly green everywhere ( I didn’t expect this!) and is much more lively with lots and lost of people. Somehow the concept of hoards of people around me running about their lives gets me kicked up (same reason I love Mumbai too), though me walking at my leisurely pace might appear like a paradox. And I love the city lights, the  kaleidoscope of colours that accompany technology and modernization. So basically I love the two things which people always “claim” they want to run away from – the city crowds and the overwhelming technology. Anyways coming back, the most amusing part here is the language – “I need to see passpooooa” “My what?” “Passpoooaaa,I see passpoooaaa”.
On a related note, my conversation with a taxi driver went thus –

“Where you coming from, Eeendia?”
“Yes,yes India.”
“You come here work permeeth?”
“Yes yes”
“Ooo,Coomphany from India send you here, or coomphany from Singapore hire you?”
“Hehe company from India send me here”
“Ooo. Where in India you coming from?”
“I coming from Bangalore”
“Ooo Bangalooo? u come from Bangalooo? Ok. Many people from Chennaai here”
“Yes yes, I know.Lot of tamilians here”
“I like chennai foood, dosai (excitedly makes a dosa in the air), vadai (makes vada shape with hand), prata.”
“Oh cool. Paratha is not chennai food. It is north India food. Chennai food is rice.”
“Oh New delhi you mean? ( Apparently quite knowledgeable)
“Yeah,yeah exactly!”
“So what you eat with rice? Chicken?”
“No no, I am a vegetarian. So I can’t eat chicken”
“Oh you no eat chicken? No beef? Fish? No fish also?Then what you eat?”
“I eat sambar and dal with rice. You know sambar?”
“Oo I see. Yeah you get protheins from that aa? Protheins aa” (Impressive!)
“Hehe ya ya, that’s why we are always deficient in proteins”

“No no, dal also good protheins”

We reached my stop.

“Nice thu meet you sir.No worry. Singapooo very safe city.”
“Ha ha,thank you. Nice to meet you too”.

Most taxi drivers are nice and friendly. I have been slightly wary of people on the roads though they are helpful in general. All the college going crowd seems to be in a different world altogether and I can’t get myself to approach them. Also, yesterday when I asked a middle-aged guy for directions, he waved me off and began walking faster :D.

Coming to my favorite topic, food. I guess after a week here, I can confidently say I am better off then US here. While I will have to forget any kinda of pizza, burgers, chinese or most
bakery products while I am here (no veggie options), there are quite a few Indian restaurants around, so that’s a relief. I will still complain about the change in taste, but I will mostly
keep the complaints to myself.

I have been living out of my American Tourister and Calvin Klein since last week. My luggage is still not fully unpacked, so the spices and my clothes have blended nicely among themselves. We Indians are anyway notorious among foreigners to give out this strange smell of “Indian spices” (that’s how they put it politely),so I guess I am doing a great job of upholding our honor. Not sure any amount of deodorant is helping.

That’s it. This is the beginning.

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30 things that make me smile

Every blog has this post. So I thought I’ll do one too. And I don’t have to think too much.

There are lots of small things around you which bring a big smile on your face, every time you encounter them. They help make our mostly mundane lives a little more interesting, a little more cheerful. Here are MY 30:

  1. Waking up from a Sunday afternoon nap to mild thunderstorms and impending rain (Time for Onion pakodas!)
  2. Encountering all green lights on your way back home.
  3. A surprise visit from a close friend
  4. Finding a new anime buddy (the passion is just contagious :D)
  5. Someone close calling you up with the sole purpose of disturbing your sleep
  6. When the songs playing from your random playlist are all your favorites and you didn’t have to skip one song
  7. SRK and Juhi Chawla in “Ek din aap yun humko mil jayenge”
  8. Meeting an old friend in a far away country (heaps of nostalgia)
  9. Receiving a text message from a friend exactly when you were about to text them
  10. When you wake up from a deep and satisfying sleep and check the time to find that its still 3 AM ( Awesome!)
  11. When your six year old niece gives you a earful when you finally visit her after 5 months
  12. Message from the bank that your salary has been credited to your account.
  13. When you wake up from sleep, power up monitor and see that every download in the overnight download queue is completed.
  14. Any of these combinations when every ingredient is just right – rice+hot sambar+ghee/ masala dosa+chutney/gulab jamun
  15. Remembering an old real life joke
  16. A friend calling/texting to say that your fav song is playing and he/she was reminded of you :)
  17. All songs from Wake up Sid (except maybe the Title song. Highly underrated album IMO)
  18. When a song you suddenly hear transports you to that phase of your life when you listened to it most (happens to me, don’t know if its common)
  19. Street musicians ( I’ve said this before, makes you feel your life is a long vacation)
  20. Sharing an umbrella
  21. A warm bear hug
  22. A perfectly situational situational song on the radio
  23. Smell of petrol (I am not running out of things to list. Its really nice! :P)
  24. Getting a letter in the mail ( hasn’t happened in a long time :( )
  25. When a baby keeps staring at you and finally smiles as if in  recognition
  26. Third Floor Tarles :)
  27. Seeing elderly people write cute,innocent comments on FB
  28. Reddit
  29. When you are reminded of a friend seeing a fictional character in a book/movie/TV series
  30. The thought of relaxing at a beach under a beach umbrella with a good book in hand and music in your ears

Okay, now this seems like a nice post to tag people. Wot say,people? :D

Oh you want to be tagged??? Great! Here you go: Rashmi, Krishna, John, Sady.  Div, Vids, Ashu head to the group blog and write there. And don’t copy from here ;)

A New Beginning

Well, I have postponed this post for a long time. So it has ended up somewhat huge and winding. I had to cut out the entire prologue on my passport episode since it got too big (and no one would be interested to revisit that phase anyway :P) Bear with me, as you guys always have.

So things are going on great here. I am not pining for my weekly dose of Masala dosa and chutney as much as I thought I would. Oh god, why did I write that?Now I am not able to get it out of my head. I’ll go to Indian stores tomorrow and get some batter.The last time I went there I did this: $4*44.45=Rs.177.8,which would get me about 9 such boxes in India, but SHUT UP NOW! I’ll also find some coconut powder/cocnut paste/coconut extract whatever darn thing they substitute it here with. So I was saying,life’s going on good. Sure my birthday was “Meh”, but who needs a birthday when everyday of your life is a celebration? ;) :D

More on food,as predicted, vegetarians live miserably here.The other day, I wanted to have a chilli burger and the waitress said “OK,we can stuff the burger with veggies instead of the meat”.And she suddenly she remembers,”Oh we stuff the chillies with beef too”. Groan.But I had awesome Mexican and Thai food.Particularly that Mexican-Indian place in Downtown San Mateo “CurryUpNow“, they have burittos and rolls stuffed with Indian curries. I was not very hungry,and after dilly-dallying for a while whether to have a burritto or a roll(burrittos are huge), I finally decided on the former  (well, you guys know me,I can EAT). Then debated on which variety to order, finally zeroed in on “Punjabi by Nature” and told them to make it hot. Later, to quote myself exactly(as told to a friend),”Thanks a lot man for bringing me here. Its like a miracle just occurred. You saw how I was wondering what to order there and finally ended up with the perfect choice. Miracle indeed”. That’s how great it was(read spicy+++). I had a bad stomach the next day. Same with the Thai too. I believe it was called Soo kee mau. Something like that. Same routine followed. Yummy.  Very spicy.Bad stomach. Stupidly ironic thing to happen while you are in US.

Things are much more convenient at our hotel . (Seems like I’ll ramble on only about food in this post).We have a very useful barter system going here. Exchanging chapatis for tomatoes, puliyogre powder for garam masala etc etc.(I am not exchanging MY chatni pudi for anything though. Its priceless). Sometimes there are issues between roomies -“Yevveryday, I only prepare rice man. Today I prepared sambar, yesterday I prepared khara kolumbu, day before vetta kolumbu and that guy is always sleeping” or “Illa kano, avattu ello hogi 6:30 ge bandu nange adge maadu anta iddane avnu (No man,he came from somewhere at 6:30 PM only and and asking me only to prepare dinner). Premium entertainment.

Its all quiet here in Foster City(where I am exactly located,some 20 miles from San Francisco) . We have a nice,big lake nearby. I am yet to take pics there.  But  SFO down town is a charming place. It has this buzz of a tourist city. And there is always someone sitting in a corner and playing a musical instrument. Makes you feel as if you are on a long vacation. And China town is awesome! There is really cool stuff to buy there. And super cool knives, samurai swords,katanas, both really and fake.  The real ones are super expensive too. :(

Hey, howz it goinnn….

That’s how a stranger will greet you here. For the first week or so, I would be caught off guard and go “Aaa, ya ya fine..Aaa”. I’m doing better now. Nice people. If you ask them where the station is, they’ll stop and explain every turn until you have to say “Okay,you’ve explained me clearly enough. If you hold me any longer here, there will be no train to catch”. Another interesting thing.Everywhere you see there’s a sale going on.There are discounts in every store all the time.For flights,tour packages,everything. Even the TV ads focus on how much you’ll be saving if you buy their product.I asked a friend who has been living in US and he said “Oh Americans are very thrifty.They wont spend a dollar more than required”. Hmmm.

And coming to weather, its sunny and chilly. There’s always a cold breeze blowing as its the bay area. But I can’t complain. This is the best weather in the US. And guess what, I have acquired the California tan along with my regular Indian tan.  Apparently its a brand name and people pay through their nose to get it done.

That’s it for now. I will have to put the cynic within me tied up and locked for a while now. As they say,when life throws lemons at you, collect as many as you can, crush them and then make a big pitcher of sweet lemonade. And not follow what Calvin said – when life gives you a lemon, wing it right back and add some lemons of your own! For a while.

P.S: Our cafeteria serves Indian food along with chai tea every Thursday :D

P.P.S: I should visit happening places(if you know what I mean) to get interesting things to write about.

Crises of our times : Part 3 – To grow up or not to grow up

There are two kinds of people in this world : 1) Those who grow up and get serious with their lives and 2) Those who practise kung-fu in their bathrooms.

I think growing up is over-rated. Also being mature. Given a choice,and by choice I mean if someone tells you “You can be as successful and make as much money and pick up as my gals”, none of us will want to be mature. Most people are so engrossed in pretending to be mature and grown up that they have forgotten that they are all pretending to be so. Come to think of it, the truth is, all kids want to be adults so that they can boss around people and all adults want to be kids so they can do fun stuff without people suggesting they take tranquilizers.

Well, if you still haven’t got it, I am the second kind. Its not easy work being a kid, mind you. Being a child in a grown up’s body throws up its own challenges. There are times when we are forced to act grown up when it would be so easy not to. Like with the elderly lady at a wedding who pinches and twists your cheek so hard (“You are next in line”) it drains the blood off your face and you have a strong urge to yell on top of your voice ala Ross “You son of a bitch! It’ll be your funeral if you don’t let go of my face RIGHT THIS MOMENT”, yet you give the most genial smile ever and stand there rubbing your cheek and still smiling and nodding your head. Or in a team meeting at 2’o clock in the aftrenoon when you have to put a mildly contemplative yet interested face when your manager is rambling on about the project strategy since the last 25 minutes and all you want to do is fling your head back and make loud snoring noises just to annoy him or even better, slowly rise from your seat with both hands wide and shout “I have the power of the 9 tails now. I shall make the world tremble.Kneel before me or I will destroy this conference room. Muhahahahahaha”.

And there are times when we do pretend to be grown ups just for the kicks. I sometimes pour chocolate milkshake into a cocktail glass and sip at it like I’m having some classy Scotch whiskey while puffing at my invisible cigarette. Or when I borrow a highly intellectual sounding novel from the library ( like the one I’m reading right now “The greatest show on earth: The Evidence for Evolution”), force myself into reading it for the next 2 months and then forget all about it within a day of returning the book. Or when I get serious with my life and make to-do lists (if you have seen my last post) and fill it with tasks like – put used dinner plate in the sink, finish 10 pages of the book, call mom today, google if Captain Jack sparrow actually existed. Sometimes I goof up and put a herculean task like “FOLD CLOTHES” in the list but then end of the day, finishing 9/10 tasks is job well done anyway.

In fact this blog post is sort of a rant. Everyone says I’m still a kid.That I need to grow up. My parents and close friends sometimes go – “You are so full of yourself Pavan, you actually don’t know anything.You need to grow up”. The rest of them are no good either – “Pavan, don’t be so innocent. Grow up”. It must be my fault that I show totally different faces of myself to different people, but then so does everyone,right? That point aside,what used to irk me is that they both are trying to make the same point. That I’m still a kid. Now I’ve grown up enough to realize I’ll be happier being a kid than pretending to be a grown-up anyday. In other words,I’m not gonna say I loved The Curious case of Benjamin Button (which I saw recently and found dreary) when I enjoy episodes of Full metal Alchemist (another cheesy and awesome anime) more. And if somebody tells me I need to grow up, I coolly draw my death-ray blaster and…. PUFF!

Return of the blogger!

I apologize upfront for this post. Sorry, really. I just wanted to get back to writing. I’ll write something good next up :D.

From order to chaos…
Last 2 years have been really smooth for me. Real cozy and smooth. No speed breakers. No potholes. No nothing. Or maybe I was going so slow a speedbreaker didn’t feel like one when I encountered it. So I thought have had enough of this now. Its time to introduce some chaos. No, a lot of chaos. Muhahahahaha. And I have already taken steps towards it. Of course this was not without having endless brainstorming discussions and one-on-one gyan sessions from my myriad wellwishers.( If I am taking a decision, EVERYONE has to know before I take it). And I know some of the people involved are reading this and smiling. Yeah yeah, you smile now. But be ready to get ass-kicked if things don’t pan out as planned. But what’s the fun if things go as planned? There you go. Typical confused myself.

...And back to order
What else? Ever since I dropped my mobile while on my bike for the second time within 6 months ( and got it back by some awesome luck. I feel I expend all my luck for such stupid things and run out of it when it comes to the bigger things :)), I decided that I should get my act together and be more organized. Oh crap, I just realized the first para was about intoducing more chaos and second is about introducing more order to my life. Ah,whatever. So I am putting sticky notes on my PC, near the mirror etc. Below is a sample:

F.R.I.E.N.D.S
I have been watching random episodes of FRIENDS. And I am falling in love with the series all over again. The best quality about FRIENDS is that you can relate to the characters so much. I can assign each of the characters to my real-life friends and laugh heartily when each one acts like the other. (I am Ross :D ) You don’t get to see this other “popular” TV shows.

Movie every week!!!
The movie marathon has already began. I gather most of my friends are not even aware of what I am speaking ( I have no idea why, people have just stopped watching movies :P) but for me and Krish, the season has just begun. We are gonna watch the shit out of these movies,all the way upto August :D. Below is a list. I hope it motivates our other friends to shake off their lethargy a bit and make a move to the theatre:

22nd April – Rango
30th April – Thor
8th may – Source Code
15th may – No movie
20th May – Pirates of the Caribbean – 4
27th May – Kung Fu Panda 2
June 3 – X-Men : First Class
June 10 – Super 8
June 17th – Green Lantern
June 24th – Cars 2, Zindagi milegi na dobara
July 1st – Transformers 3
July 8th – No movie
July 15th – Harry Potter 7 – Part 2
Jul 22nd – Captain America
July 29th – Cowboys & Aliens

Patch Releases Available!

Updated 20/03/11 7:16AM IST
We are glad to inform that patch releases are now available for both Man v2.3 & Woman 2.3 . Its a major,major release for us and god knows how we have slogged through nights and burnt weekend oils to get you this patch.Take a look at the features and updates below. You can download it directly from our website. ChaosisForever.com.

ATTENTION: WE FEEL CONFIDENT THAT THIS WILL NOT HARM YOUR DEVICE BUT WE (CHAOSISFOREVER.COM) WILL NOT BE HELD LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES THAT COULD OCCUR FROM RUNNING THIS UPDATE. THIS WILL ALSO VIOLATE YOUR WARRANTY SO PROCEED WITH CAUTION AND ENJOY!

Brought to you by the Team @Chaosisforever.com
Special thanks to all my imperfect friends who have been my inspiration,always :-).

New Features added/ Bugs fixed:

Man v2.3 Patch Release 1.0.3

1) Improved compatibility with Wife/Girlfriend(WiGi) 2.1. ( WiGi application is far from stable yet. It will crash randomly causing problems to your system. What the new patch will do is put you in sleep mode for 60 sec cutting off all wireless connectivity. If WiGi 2.1 is still behaving abnormally after 60 sec,your system will turn itself off and has to be restarted manually. This is the best solution we can give as of now.)

2) Added color detection capability to the system. This is a major enhancement. The capability has now increased from 7 colors to 68 colors now.You will now be able to identify colors you knew existed but had never seen before (like mauve,amber,peach,mustard etc) in a flash. And you will be able to tell the difference between violet and purple.

3) Sensors for detecting and alerting when these people enter within 200 meters radius – Your boss,hot gal,cute gal,any gal & Dolly Bindra.

4) Option to set alarm/reminder for amount of time spent in couch switching channels. This is an awesome way to know just how big a couch potato you actually are. What’s more,you can’t trick the app into resetting the alarm by just switching off your TV with the remote. You will have to do it the hard way. Actually getting up and powering off the TV.

5) Fixed the “inadvertently picking nose in public and realizing when its too late” bug

6) Fixed the “Monday morning blues” module. Works perfectly now without any crashes or force stops.

7) Fixed a bug where the system goes into hypnosis mode after listening to a gal’s voice and starts taking orders like a robot (except when its through WiGi). No more distractions from TV and games!

8) Removed spurious and potentially dangerous messages like “You look fat today”,”that chick is hot” seen often while running WiGi 2.1 program which got introduced after the latest hotfixes added to the program.

Woman v2.3 Patch Release 1.6.3.6.8.4

1) Improved compatibility with Husband/Boyfriend (HBo) 2.1. ( HBo application is as slow as ever. It still hangs and stops responding when TV 6.3.2 program is running in parallel. What the new patch will do is put you in sleep mode for 90 sec cutting off all wireless connectivity.If HBo 2.1 is still not responding after 90 sec, your only option is to load our most useful app “Tears 1.6.3”. [If you are still on 1.6.2, upgrade now for greater stability and improved results]. If even the “Tears” program doesn’t do the trick, then your only option is to kill the “Husband/Boyfriend” process from the Task Manager and restart it.)

2) Fixed all blues modules from Monday to Sunday. But other blues keep coming into the system and upsetting it for which there seems to be no definite pattern. This should be up in the next release or the one after that.

3) Fixed a bug where the system goes into a infinite loop of “cho chweet, cho cute” on spotting babies or Imran Khan.This has a dependency HBo 2.1 program which might get jittery. Now the loop is exited after 5 times of “cho chweet”.

4) Fixed the bug where the “Tears 1.6.2” gets loaded automatically when “Movies 1.6.2” was operated in “Romantic” or “Drama” mode.

5) Removed spurious messages like “not in the mood” or “I have a headache” which tend to cause Hbo 2.1 to go into a tizzy.

6) New Modules added “World affairs”, “Stock market”,”Sports”,”Gadgets” and a few more. Can be installed or uninstalled independently.

7) Improved the “Shopping spree” module. This is how it works : When you pick up any apparel, the algorithm will calculate what else exactly you have to buy and what color so that it matches the one you picked. And it does all this keeping in mind the stuff already rotting in your wardrobe,which is stored in the database.

We hope you have a great time with the new patch. We’ll keep you updated on the work being done here. Have fun!

ATTENTION: Please ensure that your system is charged to at least 50% before beginning this process and plug it in as well. If the system gets bricked after or during the update, please don’t panic. Call our customer service center (Saturday,Sunday holiday) and the executive will take you through the procedure to unbrick your system safely.

Crises of our times:Part 2 – Really bad times at the movies

I love all genres of movies (cheesy Bollywood fare included) and take pride at being an intelligent movie-goer.But these are grave times for a movie-buff to live in.Friday after Friday, one crappy movie after another gets released,is rejected and bites the dust. 2010 may well have been the worst year for movies. If you are a movie buff, you will know what I am talking about. Lets get some perspective. I was in 6th standard when Jurassic Park released, in 1993. It would take too long for the movie to reach my small town theater; so I watched it on VCD. Little did I realize that years later, I am going to regret all my life for having missed that cinematic experience of a lifetime. Year 2000. Lagaan releases and sweeps the nation in a frenzy where theaters turned into cricket stadiums in a never-before-seen mass hysteria. Or so they say,because I watched the movie in its 12th week,with a 3rd or 4th time audience who only cheered when Bhuvan hit the winning sixer. Since then, I’ve taken a silent pledge that I will watch all big movies in theater. And that’s how I came to see Iron Man 2,Clash of the Titans,Tron:Legacy in 2010,to name a few.Your regular,big-budget, highly-anticipated movies.The twist is,instead of enjoying these movies, I had to endure them. So I thought its time for a rap on the knuckles for our filmmakers.

Let me address our Bollywood fraternity first, one by one:

Mr.Akshay Kumar,
I have somehow ended up seeing lot of your movies in the recent past and have hated most of them. I am sick and tired of your shout-out-your-lines dialogue delivery,your dead-pan-face type of comedy or your I-am-just-being-really-really-stupid-so-you-morons-laugh-at-me kind of roles. I believe there are more such roles of you in 2011 too, one among which is directed by Shirish Kunder.God bless your career. Just one question: How the frig did you think Tees Maar Khan was going to work at any level???

Mr.Johar & Mr. Bhansali,
I want to believe that your attempts were sincere. But please avoid mish-mashing 4-5 Hollywood movies into one movie and presenting it to us and thinking that if one part of the mish-mash doesn’t work, the rest 3 definitely will.Copy just one movie at a time and do it sincerely. Stick to the original. Also please avoid adding sequences just to manipulate the audience’s emotions and make them teary-eyed. Try this : Hrithik Roshan’s mom comes to meet him, and in the next scene,BAM! she is dead. Ash’s husband appears, beats her and takes her away and is never seen again.

Mrs.Farah Khan,
I liked MHN & loved OSO, but TMK? All I can say to you is,keep your husband out of Bollywood. And same question as Akki: Didn’t you at any point during the shooting of that horrendous movie have a hunch that something really terrible is going on here? Or were you just conning everyone involved into some kind of heist like hero does in the movie?

Mr.Shirish Kunder (writer of TMK,Farah Khan’s husband)
Stay away from movies. JUST.STAY.AWAY.

Mr.Hrithik Roshan ,
Just when you are about to sign a movie,please follow these steps: 1) Take a deep breath. 2) Pause. 3) Take a deep breath again. 4) Relax for a minute. 5) Now continue.

Mr.Abhishek Bachchan,
No idea? Get idea.

Mr.Imran Khan,
Making cute puppy-like faces is not going to get you anywhere as an actor.Grow up fast and choose better roles.

Mr.Ram Gopal Varma,
Sir, no one knows what goes on in your mind.You won’t listen to me anyway. Even as you dump one crappy idea after another on us, we still expect you to suddenly come up with another spark of brilliance like a Satya or a Company or one of your superb Telugu movies from times long past. I sometimes wonder where you get the money for all the “experimental” cinema you make.

Ms.Deepika Padukone, Ms. Priyanka Chopra, Ms.Sonam Kapoor and all ladies,
Munni & Sheila stole the thunder from you gals last year. I hope you follow their footsteps and do a better job in 2011 :P ;)

To all Hollywood filmmakers in general,
You guys have succeeded in making me groan every time at the end of a film trailer, you announce “in 3D” with a thud.Lets admit it, not all of us are James Cameron and not every movie is Avatar. Please don’t use 3D just for the heck of it and definitely don’t add it as an afterthought.10 out of 10 times, the effects are going to be disastrous. (Clash of the Titans, Avatar:The Last airbender). I also want to point out that original ideas and great story-telling will always be appreciated, but I guess we are too late for this year. 2011 is again going to choc-a-bloc with dead and buried franchises being brought to life, prequels,remakes,sequels of remakes and what not. I daresay I’m looking forward to few of them ( X Men: first Class,Kung Fu panda 2, Captain America etc). So I can only appeal to you not to spoil the the sanctity and the honor for the original movies, and if you can, at least try to get some sort of plot going.

But we can’t stop going to the movies,can we? :) Like, I know Transformers-3 is going to be as crappy as TF-1 & TF-2, with close up shots of colorful metal clanking and scattering all over the screen, but I am still going to catch it anyway. I only hope things get so bad that Micheal Bay gets nominated for Oscars next year. Have a great time at the movies!

Update: Seems like 7 Khoon Maaf is also getting bad reviews. Goes to prove even a brilliant filmmaker like Vishal Bhardwaj can have a bad day too. Alas, where have the good stories gone?