Happy New Year 2015


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nellaiappan's Column-8: "Rotten Onion Concept"

One rotten onion can spoil an entire sack of onions. That’s why vendors when they store onions in bulk, carefully search for rotten onions or ‘about to go rotten’ onions, hand pick and separate them from the lot. Thereby the good onions are saved. Here is some thing for us to learn.

In every organization and institution a few such rotten onions always exist along with efficient and loyal lot. If allowed, they could spoil the entire team. The first step in team-building in my opinion is to identify such rotten onions and isolate them from the main stream.

Presence of rotten onions may be due to the climate prevailing inside the organization such as nepotism, lack of growth potential for the individuals, monotony of work, lack of role for individuals in decision making and so on.

We cannot fire them just like that for non-performance. Mending or sending comes only after isolating and putting them in less important or less sensitive area. On the pretext of humanitarian considerations, one need not tolerate disobedience or poor performance. It is contagious.

But there is a major difference between rotten onions and the troublesome people. Most of the members can be mended and made efficient whereas the rotten onions cannot.

I should tell you how I handled a trouble maker in one of my earlier assignments. There the trouble was in the form of a senior operator. He was very talkative and that was the problem. He was one among the ten in the synthetic section of that chemical manufacturing unit. Moreover they were coming in shifts.

As the production was done in batches, the work distribution was not uniform throughout the shift. The work was not continuous for all the 8 hours and different for all the ten at any given point of time.

Our operator was good in mimicry and mono acting and used to start some thing interesting during the shift in a loud voice which made all the workmen to surround him and it invariably ended with some quarrel among them. Ultimately it resulted in loss of productivity.

When I became the synthetic section in-charge the first thing I did was transferring him to extraction section where he has to work alone. He was protesting it at the beginning but there was no option for him.

Slowly he settled in his new work and to everybody’s surprise, he started suggesting modifications in material handling and operational simplification because of his creativeness and loneliness. He became one of our best operators and I recommended a promotion for him. That made us to search for untapped potential within the company.

Every successful Business Corporate injects new blood into their organization to sustain speed and growth. There the reverse of the rotten onion concept has to be applied. Protecting the new young ones from the clutches of the existing old timers is the issue there.

After going through this article my wife said, “Now I understand why they have given you a cabin in your office. I think your management is already aware of this rotten onion concept.”

S&T Watch-29: "Water-propelled cars"

It may not be long before cars will be running on the Indian roads literally on water! Sounds amazing, but the senior researcher of the central government's Energy Resources Development Agency (ERDA), Vadodara, G.S. Grewal, believes that it could become a reality in a maximum of two decades or even earlier.

The ERDA has already developed techniques for using hydrogen gas, available in abundance from water, as fuel to run cars and other uses to meet the world's energy crisis likely to arise from the diminishing fossil fuels. Based on the indigenous technology, the system developed by the ERDA for the generation of hydrogen gas would cost just about Rs.three per kilo watt per hour as against Rs.9.3 required for the creation from diesel.

Dr.Grewal said the technology to use hydrogen as fuel for static installations had been fully developed and the ERDA was ready for commercial production,but the technology for using it in moving vehicles could still take some time in developing suitable containers to store gas. Pointing out that storing hydrogen in gaseous or liquid forms would be unviable, he said the ERDA had developed a magnesium-based alloy to use as hydrogen container in solid state,but was yet find an answer to the problem if explosion in the event of even a minor collision in which the hydrogen cylinder could explode like a lethal bomb destroying everything in the range of 200 to 500 meters.

Similar researches was going on the world-over to use hydrogen as an alternative to the fossil fuels and prototype of hydrogen-driven cars had also been developed in some of the countries but the project was not yet ready for commercial production.

The IEEE India Council former chairman, Hasmukh Shah, said some countries had also developed carbon quoting to be applied on the magnesium-based alloy containers to minimise the chances of explosion in the event of collision, but its road-worthiness was yet to be tested. Dr.Grewal said India and the world would have to turn to hydrogen,which was the cleanest green fuel devoid of any pollution.

Excerpt from "Water-propelled cars may run on Indian roads" by Manas Dasgupta, The Hindu, Madurai, Sep.29, 2008.

Grateful thanks to Manas Dasgupta and The Hindu.

Letters-41: "Another Blast"

1. Once again the terrorists have struck. If our leaders are helpless and clueless, they should quit honourably. Mere sermonising will not do. And the declaration that the existing laws are enough to tackle terrorism is no longer convincing. - K.R.A.Narasiah, Chennai.

2. I suppose it is time the Prime Minister realised that there are much more important things to do other than signing the nuclear deal with the U.S. When government is unable to secure even the Capital, how can it protect the rest of India? Every bomb blast is a slap in the government's face. - Divya Velayudhan, Palakkad.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, Sep.29, 2008.

Grateful thanks to Mr.K.R.A.Narasiah, Ms Divya Velayudhan and The Hindu.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Eyecatchers-108: "Apple Sells Unlocked iPhones"

Apple has started selling unlocked models of its popular iPhone 3G in Hong Kong which allow users the freedom to select the telecom provider of their choice.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, September 28, 2008

Grateful thanks to The Hindu.

Facts & Figures-49: "World Heart Day 2008"

Statistics released on the occasion of the World Heart Day 2008 (September 28th) are frightening. One should take it as a warning signal and take due care of oneself.

* 1.5 billion people or nearly one in three adults over the age of 25, will have high blood pressure, one of the biggest single risk factors for Carrdio Vascular Disease(CVD), the world's number one killer.

* High blood pressure and CVD are increasing in prevalence, including among the young, and need immediate action and attention.

* World Heart Day, a major heart health awareness campaign now in its ninth year, is run by the World Heart Federation's member organizations in over 100 countries.

* World Heart Day activities include health checks, organised walks, runs and fitness sessions, public talks, stage shows, scientific forums, exhibitions, concerts, carnivals and sports tournaments.

* Cardio vascular diseases have been projected to cause 4.6 million deaths annually in India by the year 2020.

* High blood pressure (Hypertension: >140/90 mmHg) is directly responsible for 57% of all stroke deaths and 24% of all coronary disease deaths in India at an underestimate, there are 31.5 million hypertensives in rural and 34 million in urban populations.

* In the treatment of heart disease alone, non-compliance with drug regimens and inability to change lifestyle is believed to cause as many as 1,25,000 avoidable deaths.

Excerpts from "Know Your Risk of CVD" by Dr.R.Sivakumar, Senior Consultant, Interventional Cardiologist, Meenakshi Mission Hospital & Research Centre, Madurai in The Hindu, Madurai of September 28, 2008.

Wikipedia article on "CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE":

Grateful thanks to Dr.Sivakumar,The Hindu and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Thought for Today-143:

Photo by Vinod
Unity is the test of truth. Everything that makes for Oneness is truth. Love is truth, and hatred is false, because hatred makes for multiplicity. It is a disintegrating power - Swami Vivekananda

A Thought for Today-142:

Photo by Vinod

The poison generated by hatred could kill twenty persons. When hate somebody you are poisoning yourself. So in your own interest, don't hate anybody - Unknown.

Eyecatchers-107: "Cows and Horses Freely Roaming in Texas!"

In parts of Texas hit by Hurricane Ike, an estimated 20,000 cows and horses roamed free. Four thousand cows had been found dead, and officials thought that many more would never be found. "They are being eaten," said Texas AgriLife Extension Service spokeswoman, Kathleen Phillips, "by alligators".

Courtesy: Sam Stark, Harper's Weekly, Sep.23, 2008.

Wikipedia article on "HURRICANE IKE":

Grateful thanks to Sam Stark, Harper's Weekly and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Facts & Figures-48: "The Chip is 50 years old!"

A grateful world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Integrated Chip or simply IC as it is known to everybody.

To quote Dan Nystedt of IDG News Service, “chips are the brains and nervous system of every electronics device around, from computers to iPhones and are finding their way into more devices all the time, including cars and refrigerators, to make them more energy efficient”.

The inventor of the IC, Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments, went on to win the Nobel Prize for 2000. Unfortunately the co-inventor, Robert Noyce, passed ten years before that.

The annual revenue of the IC industry today is $ 300 billion.

Based on “Celebrating the IC’s 50th Anniversary” by Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service, September 12, 2008, which appeared on Network World.(http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/091208-celebrating-the-ics-50th.html)

Wikipedia article on “Integrated Circuit:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_circuit

Grateful thanks to Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service, Network World and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

S&T Watch-28: "Space Elevator!"

Japanese experts are working on a Space Elevator. It may sound like science fiction or science fantasy. But it may become a reality.
Cables made of carbon nanotubes (180 times stronger than steel) are to be used to run the carriages carrying cargo and people.
A day that is not too far off may come when we will be travelling into space.
Based on "Japan hopes to turn sci-fi into reality with elevtor to the stars" by Leo Lewis in Tokyo, The Times, Sep.22, 2008
For the full article from TimesOnline:
Grateful thanks to Leo Lewis and The Times, UK

Eyecatchers-106: "Spilling 3.7 million nickels!"

A truck carrying 20 tons of money from the Philadelphia Mint to the U.S.Treasury in Miami crashed, killing one passenger and spilling 3.7 million nickels onto I-95.
Courtesy: Sam Stark, Harper's Weekly, September 23, 2008.
Grateful thanks to Sam Stark and Harper's Weekly.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Friends-1: "Mr.M.Senthil Kumar"

Senthil is a dear friend of mine, though he is younger to me by more than a dozen years. But he looks much younger. His many sterling qualities have endeared him to me. If there is any public activity, he will be there in the forefront, shouldering some important responsibility and doing his best. He is a Home Guard. His civic sense and social awareness are worth emulating. For example, he will not take carrybags from shops. He always carries cloth-bags to keep materials he purchases.

Our friendship deepened during our FASOHD days. He is so affectionate to me he would call me now and then and ask me whether I need any help. He has been helping me in almost all of my ventures. He is a tower of strength to me. I fondly and gratefully remember his great help on the days following my father's death and also during and after my daughter's marriage. My people say I exploit his kindness. Maybe true. Whenever I need any help, I immediately think of him and I do not hesitate to take his help whenever required. I do not know how I am going to repay him for his kindness.

May God bless him and bestow on him and his family all that is best.

Thank you, Senthil, thank you very much for all your kindness.

Eyecatchers-105: "Global Financial Crisis!"

American financial institutions faced the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression. Global stock markets lost $3.1 trillion in four days. American International Group (AIG), the world's biggest insurance company and a leader in the $62 trillion credit-default swap market, was nearly bankrupted. The US Federal Reserve loaned AIG $85 billion at 11% interest and took control of the company, which was founded in China in 1919 and driven out thirty years later by Mao. AIG was replaced in the Dow Jones Industrial Average by Kraft, the makers of Cheez Whiz. Central banks poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the market, and the Securities and Exchange Commission temporarily banned the short-selling of 799 financial-institution stocks.
Excerpt from "Harper's Weekly", September 23, 2008 ("Sam Stark")
Wikipedia article on "FINANCIAL CRISIS OF 2007-2008":
Grateful thanks to Sam Stark, Harper's Weekly and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nellaiappan's Column-7: "Communication Skills"

“Long time no see!” - When the Shift Officer greeted the Chairman of the organization who just dropped in, his immediate reaction was a “What!?” To explain that “what” in writer Sujatha’s words, it was 10,000 kilowatts. The GM-HR who accompanied the Chairman and who was also the son of the Chairman came to the rescue of the officer by diverting the conversation.

Actually the Chairman along with his family members was passing by the factory to a distant place and to break the tedious journey for some refreshment, they all just went to the factory. Because it was a Sunday, no higher official was available at the site and our poor officer rushed to greet them with a “long time no see.”

It was a shock to the officer. He could not make out the reason why the Chairman was so annoyed. Because the GM-HR knew the officer well, he intervened and saved him.

Our poor officer learnt the idiom only on that particular day, from the column “know your English” of a popular English daily. After learning something new, he applied it at the first opportunity. When he was expecting some pat on the shoulder for his knowledge it misfired.

That was not the only time his communication put him in trouble. Our officer was pet to the then GM. Every now and then he was inviting the GM to his house for a dinner. GM also was kind enough to invite him to his house. But somehow the dinner was eluding for quiet some time.

On an auspicious morning, both were discussing about the eluding dinner and decided to have that on the same day at 7.30 P.M. Our officer prepared a splendid dinner in his house for the GM and his family. Till 8 P.M no one turned up. When the officer phoned the GM, he came to know that the GM has made similar arrangements in his house and was waiting for the arrival of the officer and his family.

The Master Trainer of the organization and his Prime Disciple failed miserably in their communication. Both prepared dinner at their place and waited for the other to turn around.

They felt ashamed about their communication skills and decided not to let others know about it. They rescheduled the dinner for the next day and double confirmed the time. When the north Indian GM arrived at the house of the officer to taste the southern dishes, our officer was promptly knocking the doors of the GM Bungalow.

The telephone operator got our unfortunate officer in his mobile once, while he was standing on the open terrace above the 4th floor in the plant, supervising some civil work. She told him that VP was on the line. He answered with a “will call after half an hour”. She promptly informed the VP to call after half an hour. VP got annoyed and it has taken almost 6 months for the officer to bridge the gap.

I need not tell you, who that unfortunate officer was. But I should tell you that his experience helped many fortunate officers to improve their communication skills.

What about a delicious supper at 9.30 tonight? Somehow we should make it!

If you ask about 1) the venue 2) the menu 3) the host 4) the guest 5) the dress (formal or informal) 6) wet or dry 7) transport and 8) the agenda… well then you are smarter than the officer I was talking about.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Photo Album-23: "Suri feeding birthday cake to Aravind"

The photo was taken on Aravind's birthday. After he cut the cake, Suri was feeding Arvind. See the joy in Aravind's face. He radiates joy wherever he goes. How simple a child's life is! How great it would be if one could become a child again! The next best thing is to keep children like Aravind by you so that you become young at least in spirit. (It is an old photo; must be several years old; I came across it while looking for something else. Immediately I put it in my bag deciding that it should find a place in my blog.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Eyecatchers-104: "Man donates blood 150 times!"

Suresh Kamdas broke the myth that donating blood frequently lowers a person's immunity, making him prone to infections.

The 75-year-old, who first donated blood in 1962, is part of a select club of centurion donors. He has donated blood over 150 times. And now he has taken on the task of propagating the benefits of frequent voluntary blood donation.

Excerpt from "Man donates blood 150 times and breaks a myth" by Kounteya Sinha/TNN.
The Times of India, Chennai, June 14, 2008.

Grateful thanks to Kounteya Sinha, TNN and The Times of India.

Facts & Figures-47: "Mental Depression in the USA"

With all their riches and modern gadgets, one in five persons between the age group of 12 and 20 suffer from mental depression in the USA.
A study says that 27% people in the USA find it difficult to concewntrate on anything they do.
It has been estimated that in the year 2000 alone, due to mental depression, a loss of $ 300 crore has been incurred.
39% males and 22% females hafve been severely affected by mental depression in the USA.
Based on news item in Dina Malar, Tamil daily, Madurai, September 9, 2008.
Wikipedia article on "Major Depressive Disorder":
Grateful thanks to Dina Malar and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

S&T Watch-27: "Accidental Fungal Growth leads to Cancer Drug"

A drug developed using nanotechnology and a fungus that contaminated a lab experiment may be broadly effective against a range of cancers, US researchers reported.

The drug, called lodamin, was improved in one of the last experiments overseen by Judah Folkman, a cancer researcher who died in January. Folkman pioneered the idea of angiogenesis therapy - starving tumours by preventing them from growing blood supplies.

Lodamin is an angiogenesis inhibitor that Folkman's team has been working to perfect for 20 years. His colleagues say they developed a formulation that works as a pill, without side-effects, reports New Scientist.

Tests in mice showed it worked against a range of tumours, including breast cancer, neuoblastoma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, brain tumours known as glioblastomas and uterine tumours.

It helped stop so-called primary tumours and also prevented their spread, Ofra Benny of Children's Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Medical School and and colleagues reported.

"Using the oral route of administration, it first reaches the liver, making it especially efficient in preventing the development of liver metastasis in mice," they wrote in their report. "Liver metastasis is very common in many tumour types and is often associated with a poor prognosis and survival rate," they added.

The drug was known experimentally as TNP-470, and was isolated from a fungus called Aspergillus fumigatus fresenius.

Harvard's Donald Ingber discovered the fungus by accident while trying to grow endothelial cells - the cells that line blood vessels. The mold affected the cells in a way known to prevent the growth of tiny blood vessels known as capillaries - Reuters.

Excerpt from "Accidental Fungal Growth Results in New Cancer Drug" that appeared in The Times of India, Chennai, July 1, 2008.

Grateful thanks to Reuters and The Times of India.

Environment-12: "Chlorine Check"

Many recent pollution prevention efforts in the pulp and paper industry have focused on getting rid of the use of chlorine for bleaching, a process which helps to increase the brightness of the paper. Elemental chlorine (that is, pure chlorine) or chlorine dioxide is generally used for bleaching but, in the process, large amounts of chlorinated pollutants such as dioxins - a persistent organic pollutant with very high cancer-causing potential - are released into the water. Hence, there is an increasing trend worldwide to reduce the use of both elemental chlorine and chemical containing chlorine.
Two bleaching processes, which are increasingly being adopted by Western nations are elemental-chlorine-free (ECF) bleaching and total-chlorine-free (TCF) bleaching. In India, most of the paper and pulp companies are small or medium ones. Hence, there is little scope for investment in pollution-prevention technologies.
Courtesy: "Down to Earth" (sorry, other details not available).
Grateful thanks to Down to Earth.

A Thought for Today-129:

Grateful thanks to Paolo Nao and www.public-domain-photos.com for the above photo.
Is it so bad to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

My Photo Album-22: "Suri with his kids"

Suri with his kids. I think it was taken in a photo studio some 25 years back.

My Photo Album-21: "Suri with his kids"

Suri with his kids. I think it was taken in a photo studio some 25 years back.

Facts & Figures-46: "Nauseating Figures"

1. About 65% of Indians defecate in places such as fields, railway tracks and abandoned or unfinished constructions.
2. Globally 1.2 billion people defecate in the open, and more than half of them are Indians.
3. About 2 lakh tonnes of faeces is discharged per day in the open in India.
4. On an average, a gram of excreta can contain about a crore viruses, 10 lakh bacteria, 1000 parasites cysts and 100 worm eggs.
5. 1000 children die daily of diarrhoea or other gastro-intestinal diseases.
6. Proper sanitation can reduce risk of diarrhoea by 40%; malnutrition and retardation growth by 60%; cholera by 72%; schistosomiasis (caused by blood flukes) by 77% and blindness by 25%.
Courtesy: The Week, August 31, 2008.
Grateful thanks to The Week.

Letters-40: "Is this Your Phone?"

1. It is strange that you deliberately mislaid nearly a thousand cellphones across the world just to see how honest people were. ["Excuse Me, Is This Your Phone?", Reader's Digest, August 2007"]. Unattended cellphones could be dangerous - they can be used to cause blasts. It is surprising that people first picked up the phones and went on to return them, risking their lives and that of others. The best course would have been to alert the police about an unattended object. - Divyang Purohit, via email.
2. That you recovered 654 out of 960 "lost" cellphones proves that an overwhelming majority of people the world over, are still guided by an inner personal code of Honesty. It is heartening that there are people in Mumbai who may not have scored a "pass" in the politeness test, but are honest. - Dr.R.K.Malhotra, New Delhi.
3. In June, I lost my cellphone at a wedding reception. Since my phone was "not reachable" I sent an SMS to it. Minutes later I got a call from the finder - a guest at the same reception who had already got back home to a nearby town. He insisted on coming back all the way to my hotel and handing over the lost phone, even though it would be midnight by the time he got to me. He refused any reward or travel expenses. My phone is now more precious - it is a symbol of honesty and goodness. - D.Petersen Priyakumar, via email.
Courtesy: Reader's Digest, October 2007.
Grateful thanks to Divyang Purohit, Dr.R.K.Malhotra, D.Petersen Priyakumar and Reader's Digest.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

S&T Watch-26: "Machines may outsmart humans by 2050"

Machines might catch up with human reasoning capabilities by the year 2050. At the Intel Developer Forum held in San Francisco, Justin Rattner, chief technology officer, Intel, demonstrated two working personal robot prototypes developed at Intel's research labs. One of the demonstrations showed electric field pre-touch that has been built into a robotic hand. Based on a novel sensing modality used by fish, this hand can 'feel' objects before it even touches them. The other demonstration was a completely autonomous mobile manipulation robot that can rocognise faces and interpret and execute commands using motion planning, manipulation, perception and artificial intelligence.

Rattner also demonstrated powering a 60-watt light bulb without the use of a plug or wire of any kind. This has been made possible by a wireless resonant energy link that promises to deliver wireless power safely and efficiently. The technology relies on strongly coupled resonators-a principle similar to the way a trained singer can shatter a glass using her voice.

Intel researchers are also investigating how millions of tiny micro-robots, called 'catoms', could build shape-shifting materials. If used to replace the case, display and keyboard of a computing device, this technology could make it possible for a device to change physical form in order to suit the specific way you are using it. A mobile computer, for example, could be tiny when in a pocket, change to the shape of an earpiece when used as a mobile phone, and be large and flat with a keyboard for browsing the Internet or watching a movie.

Courtesy : Electronic For You September 2008

Facts & Figures-45: "400 TV Channels in India!"

The Govt of India has given permission for 400 TV channels.
Courtesy: Ananda Vikatan, Tamil Weekly, September 10, 2008.
Grateful thanks to Ananda Vikatan.

Friday, September 05, 2008

My Photo Album-20: "Dad with my kids"

Dad with my kids. This was taken by a photographer-friend more than 20 years back.

Letters-39: "Bihar Floods"

1. Every year hundreds of people die, thousands become homeless and infrastructure worth millions is washed away in Bihar floods. By the time people overcome the trauma, the floods come raging again. Unfortunately, the Centre and the Bihar government are indifferent to the people's plight. Instead of forestalling the calamity by constructing a dam, the administration remains a mute witness to the catastrophe. - Tejeshwi Sharma, Stockholm.
2. The Bihar government has neither the strategy nor the executive mechanism to manage the floods. The story is the same this year too - it begins with an aerial survey of the flooded areas by the Prime Minister and his entourage. It is followed by an announcement of financial aid and material relief by the Centre and some agencies. Whether it reaches the afflicted areas in time is a moot point. - Prem Chand, New Delhi.
3. The Prime Minister has done the right thing by declaring the floods in Bihar, caused by a breach in the Kosi embankment, a national calamity. Unfortunately, flood management seems to be nowhere in the agenda of governments. What is important now is to think of measures to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy. If China could tame the ferocious Yangtze river, there is no reason why India cannot tame the Kosi or the Godavari. What is needed is a commitment to the cause. - R.Unni Krishnan, Kochi.
Courtesy: The Hindu, Chennai, September 1, 2008.
Grateful thanks to M/s.Tejeshwi Sharma, Prem Chand, R.Unni Krishnan and The Hindu.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Eyecatchers-103: "Laptops in Space Infected"

NASA confirmed that laptops in space had been infected with the virus Gammima.AG.

Courtesy: Harper’s Weekly, Sep 2, 2008.
Grateful thanks to Harper's Weekly.

India Watch-12: "Bihar Floods"

1.2 million people were left homeless by monsoon floods in Bihar.

Courtesy: Harper's Weekly, Sep.2, 2008

Grateful thnaks to Harper's Weekly.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Eyecatchers-102: "Who is calling?"

"Do not use mobile phones while driving; the caller could be Yama, the King of Death" - Advertisement from the local traffic police.