Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ties to India

Wow Factor of India: Ties to India: "I just got mentioned in a blog posting. See me all dressed up, wearing ties!"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Shaved a Wall

I recently took a photo of a wall on a music store in Glendale, which was a mural in remembrance of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The side wall of the building had signs hung up which I wanted to erase, and I thought I could do this image retouch using Gimp, the GNU Image Manipulation Program.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Friend's Zinfandel

My old boss, Jason, has made available his vineyard's first zinfandel release. According to the website, the barrel tasting notes state, "Vibrant, med purple garnet color. Tons of jammy berry fruit - raspberry, blackberry. Ripe berry fruit dominates. Excellent structure with good acid, med tannins, and alcohol in balance." According to me, this is a great wine to sip on cool (or cold) California evenings.

Solution to Missing Mirrors

The bathrooms at work at being remodeled, which is great. We are permitted to use the rooms before they are one hundred percent complete, which also is great. The bathrooms are sans mirrors, which is not so great. Someone at work posted some mirror replacements, which is funny. I love the creativity and fun at DreamWorks Animation!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Indian Fast Food

I categorize Indian fast food into either dhabas or street food. Dhabas are usually road side eateries with a fast food feel. They serve meals, but don't have the ambiance to match fine dining. Street food consists of vendors selling items from a cart or out of a booth. Some of the best food can be found at places that don't even have a sign out front. Anything else is a restaurant, and not really fast food, in my opinion.

American Fast Food Abroad

One of the things I found interesting about traveling last year are the differences in American fast food chains when they are opened in other countries. Consider this bit of dialog from the 90's movie Pulp Fiction:

Jules: You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France?
Brett: No.
Jules: Tell 'em, Vincent.
Vincent: A Royale with cheese.
Jules: A Royale with cheese! You know why they call it that?
Brett: Because of the metric system?
Jules: Check out the big brain on Brett!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

King of TT

I never really played table tennis until I moved to India. There, it seems to be a very popular activity. Since I was such a horrible player, I became known as टी टी का माहाराजा or "Ti Ti ka Maharaja - grand king of table tennis". At the DreamWorks Animation office in Glendale, there are several tables and just about any time of the day you can find people playing.

We recently held a tournament, and someone captured a video of the final match. I am posting it here. I don't know what happened to game two, but hopefully YouTube user ceark will post it in the near future. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dragon Day at DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation recently released How To Train Your Dragon, which I think is their (our?) best work to date. Yes, I work at DreamWorks, but as a computer nerd I had nothing to do with the creativity which led to the magic of this film. Anyway, we celebrated the opening of this film on campus and I wanted to share some photos. I took some pictures too, but some coworkers took much better photos. Links to the complete sets of their photos are available at the bottom, and here are some photos from the day taken by others.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Contra on Your iPhone

This is extremely geeky, but phone to do a time or two. Using Safari on your iPhone, browse to and then enter the "code" by swiping Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right. If performed correctly, two buttons appear on the screen. Press B then A and the site will return a character from Contra.

Bangalore Nostalgia

Memories of Bangalore, originally uploaded by s_w_ellis.

IT World sent me an email with links to the article "19 Weird but Real Gadgets and Gizmos". The Bug Zapper is one widget on the list. In Bangalore they were commonplace and I purchased one for just under $4 USD. Plus, mine plugged into the wall outlet to recharge the batteries in the handle.

Anyway, seeing this item surfaced great memories of Bangalore. Hello to you all in Ozone and at ITPL!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dragon Wrap Party

The latest release from DreamWorks Animation is How To Train Your Dragon. We attended the cast and crew screening, watching the movie in 3D at the Gibson Amphitheatre. After introduction from the producer, directors and our CEO, a special guest came out to say a few words. Gerard Butler joined us for the screening and expressed how pleased he was with the film, where he voices the main character's father, Stoick. Something funny he mentioned was that he is concurrently in the best rated and worst rated opening films on Rotten Tomatoes, also starring in The Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Aniston (as I write this, one is one hundred percent fresh and the other is eight percent fresh). Of course, this is not his first time working with dragons nor working on horrible films, as he was also in Reign of Fire.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dinner with Friends at Carousel

Catching back up with friends in Los Angeles has been great. I work with Victor and Raffi, so we met up with them, their wives and a couple who are friends of Raffi and Kristine. Reservations were at Carousel in Glendale. The Middle Eastern cuisine was delicious, and the food just kept coming out well after we were full. I could have eaten nothing but the muhammara, which is a dip of chili peppers, crushed walnuts and pomegranates. Of course, I forgot all about the spicy dip once the boureg and kofta arrived. By the time the entree appeared, we were pretty much done. As much as we wanted them, the kabobs were just going to have to put in a doggy bag.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cape Town, South Africa

There was a Tuesday holiday in India for Republic Day, and so I decided to take Monday and the preceding Friday off as well, giving us a few days to travel to South Africa. What an amazing trip! Kerala is called God's Own Country, but the person giving the name most likely never visited Cape Town. The scenery is unmatched by any place I have ever visited, the people are friendly, the food is delicious, the area is filled with people from all over the world and the cost of things is reasonable. We stayed three nights in the wine lands of Stellenbosch, and two nights in the city of Cape Town. Honestly, we should have stayed all five nights in Stellenbosch, as driving into the city was not a hassle and the wine country was lovely.

Anjali and me, as far South and West as we could go in Africa

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Year in India

I moved from Los Angeles to live in India back in January 2009. This past year has been an interesting one:


  • Took one overnight bus and three overnight train rides. And, spent one night on a boat and two nights in tents.
  • I visited nine of the twenty-eight states: Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Maharasthra, Haryana, Punjab, Goa, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. I also touched down at an airport in Andhra Pradesh, but am not willing to count that.
  • Northernmost point visited: Wagha, Punjab. Southernmost: Alleppey, Kerala. Distance between: more than three thousand kilometers.
  • I traveled with Anjali to points on the west coast, on the Arabian Sea, as well as on the east coast, on the Bay of Bengal.
  • Anjali and I went on a nine-day road trip across Rajasthan, totaling nearly fifteen hundred kilometers in a car.
  • Outside of India, I ventured to Stonehenge and the Pyramids at Giza.


  • I was invited by Richard to attend an Iron Maiden concert. I think I still owe him for my ticket.
  • Tried toddy in Kerala for the first and last time.
  • Got painted during Holi.
  • Learned a bit of Tamil and Kannada, from some of the drivers.
  • Learned a fair amount of Hindi, something I intend to keep up with. I am even able to write what I hear.
  • Learned a small amount of Punjabi - thanks Tanuj and Nikhil. You guys would have only gotten me into trouble, if I had used anything you taught me.
  • I now know how to write my name in fourteen Indian scripts: Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu, Oriya, Gujurati, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali, Manipuri, Old Manipuri, Punjabi, Assamese, Telugu and Nepali. I have learned how to write Anjali's name in thirteen scripts.
  • Did my best to understand and remember the Hinduism relayed to me.
  • Received a rakhi from my neighbor, Raina.
  • Saw three of the Times of India newspaper's Seven Wonders of India: Taj Mahal, Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) and Bahubali. Bahubali is also the world's largest monolith.
  • Spent Diwali in Faridabad, being introduced to most of Anjali's family in Delhi.
  • Watched an idol get submerged in a lake during Ganesha Chaturthi.
  • Attended a puja for the start of a new business.
  • Revisited Delhi to attend Sharad and Aditi's wedding.
  • Witnessed the Pakistan border "Lowering of the Flags" ceremony. Neha's father was kind enough to provide us with VIP passes and a government escort from Amritsar.
  • While in Rajasthan, we visited Karni Mata temple, filled with approximately twenty thousand rats, as well as India's sole Brahma temple, in Pushkar.


  • Got engaged near the top of a mountain in Wayanad.
  • Spent several nights in a hospital on two separate occasions: once when Anjali broke her arm, requiring surgery; and again when I had my hernia operation.
  • Watched the clock exclaim, "It is now the new year", from a bed in an emergency room.
  • I obtained a drivers license, valid for motorcycles and cars.
  • I did something nice for the parents of a street full of kids that wanted their picture taken.
  • Am the healthiest I have been since high school, having lost a few pounds and started eating better.
  • It was a challenge to work in a foreign country: language barriers, work ethic differences, time zone issues, shipping problems, product availability concerns... It was also quite rewarding to be the technical lead for an animation studio, and to contribute, in small part, to their successful premier release.
  • In my life, I have never had more sick time off from work.
  • Became the टी टी का माहाराजा, or the "Grand King of Table Tennis."
  • I gained some true friends here and I promise to revisit.

There is probably so much more to write. Just looking back over a year spent in India, the memories bring a smile to my face. Bangalore has been "home" for me, and I feel as tied to this city as I ever did to Los Angeles, San Francisco, or anywhere else I have lived in the States. I met Anjali at lunch one Sunday in Bangalore and now we are going to get married. Before I came to India, I had never left North America. In the past year, I have spent time in four continents. It has been a wonderful year and the years to come have much to live up to.

Monday, January 11, 2010

cisco High Load

It is annoying when you have a small network component which acts funny. Here is a switch with a high load.


Switch has a high load. Consistently, this L2 switch has a load of ninety-plus percent.

Puducheri and Auroville

In Tamil, pudu means new and cheri means town. Puducheri, or Pondicherry, as it is better known, is a union territory of India, and was once a French colony. Different from states in India, union territories do not have elected governments, but rather obtain rulers by federal appointment. The Indian president personally appoints a Governor for each territory. Today, seven territories exist within India, separately governed and taxed from the states which they border. The French influence is still evident in the city, as many of the street names are in French. And, interestingly, the story Life of Pi is partially set in Puducheri. Also, M. Night Shyamalan was born in Puducheri, though raised in the United States.

Driving Through Tamil Nadu From Bangalore

National Highway 66, what a great stretch of road. You can travel one hundred kilometers per hour easily on most of it. The only slowdowns are toll booths. That would not be so bad if it weren't for the people at the toll booths. Even though all the lanes are clearly defined, some people insist on being idiots, slowing down the process for everyone else.

Trucks in the car lane
Here you see trucks in the lane marked for cars

Toll booth asshole
This idiot drives between the toll lanes to cut in front of everyone

About midway, we stop for some lunch. Roadside eating in India is always an adventure. There are no signs in the windows with health department ratings, and you don't have a Zagat booklet. We stopped at Hotel Sri Punjabi's Dhaba, which boasted of serving north and south Indian meals, as well as Chinese (the sign said Chinees). The menu had an impressive selection and I was in the mood for some delicious Punjabi cuisine. But, everything I ordered was something they could not prepare. It turns out they could not prepare any Chinese food neither. And, their south Indian selection was limited. The sign and menu boast of all these flavors, just to get you to stop. Once you have stopped, you find out they only have a few items. This has also been our experience with restaurant wine lists in India: print anything you want, but only have three choices.

Hotel Sri Punjabi's Dhaba in Tamil Nadu
A very non-Punjabi Punjabi dhaba in Tamil Nadu

Coast to Coast

Earlier in 2009, I visited both Mumbai and Goa, both on the Arabian Sea. Big Beach just outside Puducheri is on the Bay of Bengal. The Arabian Sea is the west coast and the Bay of Bengal is the east coast. Visiting Puducheri allowed me to see the beaches of both Indian coasts.

Big Beach outside Puducheri
Big Beach, just outside Puducheri

Fishing boats on Big Beach
A fishing village on Big Beach


Outside Puducheri, in Tamil Nadu, just up East Coast Road, there is a settlement called Auroville. It was founded in the sixties by a French woman with a simple set of rules. Basically, Auroville belongs to anyone that lives and works within Auroville, serving and unifying humanity.

Anjali enjoyed shopping in Auroville, as the crafts displayed are all manufactured within the compound. After I had reached my shopping quota, I sat outside and took photos of people with their cameras (so everyone in their group would be in the photo). I also grabbed a chocolate-soy cookie and a soda. While sitting, I noticed a dog trotting from person to person, looking for some food. Since my cookie was not very tasty, I whistled him over and he gobbled up the cookie. We were so hungry after the shopping, that we decided to leave instead of checking out the central temple, the Matrimandir (Mothers' Temple). The temple is rather interesting in that it looks like a golden golf ball and the interior is lit by sunlight scattered through a seventy centimeter crystal housed at the top. At night, a light is passed through the crystal, fed from solar-powered lamps.

Friendly folks in Auroville
They would not stop waving until I took their photo

Cookie-eating dog in Auroville
I shared a cookie with this dog

Blessed by an Elephant

If you visit Puducheri, be sure to stop by the Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple and get blessed by their elephant. You extend out a coin, which the elephant takes into his trunk, which then is handed over to his keeper, and then his trunk comes down gently on your head to bless you.

This temple elephant blesses visitors
The blessing elephant at a Puducheri temple

Elephant blesses Anjali at Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple
Anjali getting blessed

Elephant blessing me at Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple
My turn getting blessed

Looking for Lunch (in all the Wrong Places)

We came from Auroville to get some lunch in Puducheri. Hearing so much about the French influence, we were sure a small cafe would have something nice to eat. We could not find anywhere to eat! Evidently, if you are in town, everything closes at three in the afternoon. Even so, we visited some recommended spots and found their menus lacking anything exotic (to India). So, we wandered around the French-named streets looking for anything to eat, not finding one decent place.

Gandhi statue in Puducheri
Statue of Gandhi on the beach, surrounded by pillars displaced from Gingee

Line of Ambulances near the hospital
Street lined with ambulances

Puducheri police station
Police headquarters

It was decided by us that the only thing French were the street names. Hungry and disappointed, we headed back to Big Beach.

Final Walk on Big Beach

Posing on Puducheri's Big Beach
Early morning stretch before the surf

The morning was cool, chilly even. When we walked along the coast, some drizzle fell. We enjoyed watching crabs scurry about and listening to the waves crash.

Big Beach
Last morning on Big Beach

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Rat Temple in Deshnok

A rat in Karni Mata Temple
One of the estimated twenty thousand rats of Karni Mata

Our last full day in Rajasthan took us from Phalodi through Khirva, Gajner, Bikaner, Deshnok, Barani, Rol, Didwana, Moulasar, Ranasar, to Kuchaman. Karni Mata temple was a great site to visit. Kuchaman Fort was a great place to stay. The trek across Rajasthan was a wonderful vacation. A huge thanks to Sudev for putting together an itinerary for us. For me, the temple in Deshnok was the highlight of the trip.