An All-Nighter at Work Followed by a Terrorism Threat Scare

We had too much excitement at work pulling an all-nighter. Then when we thought we could go home and sleep, there was a terrorism threat at our building. An stranger placed some threatening packets mentioning anthrax and terrorism.

Fortunately, one of the employees saw this suspicious person and alarmed the rest of us. As we came out and saw him, the culprit took off. Five KRD engineers chased after the culprit, splitting up to not loose him without fear of their own safety while the others called the police and took photos of the scene.

Within minutes several police cars lined up outside the KRD office. Other police cars raced looking for this man. After a long chase in downtown San Jose and almost losing him a couple of times, a KRD engineer caught him and handed him over to the police. The police arrested the suspect and he confessed leading the police to more packets he left at our office we didn’t know about. It seems he was not a real terrorist, but just some disturbed person. What a night!

The full story, photos and videos1 are below.

Knight Ridder is an enjoyable place to work. The employees are diverse, talented, hardworking, friendly and fun! No wonder I’ve been here for almost 8 years.

On this Friday night/Saturday morning, many folks from the Knight Ridder Digital Technology, Product and other departments happily stayed at work late hours to ensure that a data center migration project went successfully. As you can see, besides working hard that night, they also had a lot of fun.

Photographs

Click here to see the photos on my photos.rajiv.com site (Many of the photos here show folks having fun, but they worked very hard too.)

Video Clips

(Note: The movies may take 2 to 3 minutes to download even on broadband connections. I will move them to a streaming video site in the future.)

  • Sharon demonstrates Kung-Fu. Moral: Do not mess with the CTO.
  • Peaceful engineers would rather fight Kung-Fu virtually
  • They are enjoying Tekken Tag Tournament during a break
  • They play hard too
  • But Bob Hucker will not take a break from work. That’s our Bob :-)
  • Wayne Weber can’t take a break right now either
  • Finally caught camera-shy Patrick Carter on video. That’s our Patrick :-)
  • Some Laughter and Conversations

Police Investigating

  • Police walking towards the materials left by the culprit
  • Police photographing the materials left by the culprit

I was there that night to provide moral support, food, and entertainment. These photo and videos were posted online while the work was going on. I work for a news media company after all :-)

  1. Update: videos moved to http://rajiv.blip.tv/ on 2007-12-15 []

As a Change from Corporate Travel and Expensive Personal Vacations, Consider Backpacking

I love to experience contrasts during my travels. Traveling first-class and staying in luxurious hotels is a pleasure indeed, but tourism on a shoestring can be a rewarding experience too.

(From ABCNEWS) At age 29, looking at what lay beyond his third decade, Lars Berg knew things weren’t quite right. The San Francisco software product manager itched for something more. His cubicle, he says, had become “both too much and too little,” and he couldn’t shake the growing feeling that he needed to make some serious changes.

Over the past two decades, this kind of travel has become increasingly popular with young people from countries with strong currencies, who, instead of taking a vacation from their lives, decide to turn their life into the vacation.

Full Story: Sick of Your Cubicle? Try Backpacking

Business Travel Checklist

Suitcase

 Clothes & Shoes

For a trip longer than 1 week, carry 1 weeks’ worth of clothes and plan on using laundry and dry-cleaning services.

 1 suit (2 suits for 3 or more days’ trip)

If carrying more than one suit, it should be of a color that the same shoes and belt can go with it.

 1 tie (2 ties for 3 or more days’ trip)

 1 leather belt

 1 shirt (+1 shirt for every additional day)

 1 set of cuff links

I like to wear shirts with cuff links

 1 set of undergarments for each day

 1 pair of formal shoes

I’ll be wearing one pair of shoes during travel, so pack the other in the suitcase.

 1 pair of workout/hiking shoes

I prefer Vibram FiveFingers for this. They are lightweight and take less space.

 1 pair of merino wool socks for every 3 days

Merino wool socks are comfortable, versatile and can be worn for 3 days without causing odor.

 spare shoelaces

I’ve had shoelaces break during trips before.

 shoe bags

 1 pair of jeans

Jeans can be used as workout pants, hiking/trail walks and for casual wear.

 cloth (or plastic) bag for used clothes

Cloth laundry bags are preferable as they are better for the environment and less noisy than plastic bags.

 bathroom kit

 comb or hairbrush

 hair product

 toothbrush

 toothpaste

 razor handle with 2 blade cartridges

I use Dollar Shave Club’s “Humble Twin” blades: http://shaved.by/zMvP

 shaving cream or shaving soap

Solid shaving soap bars are more economical than shaving creams: http://www.rajiv.com/blog/2010/04/17/cleaning-soap/

 bath soap bar

Solid soap bars are more economical and easier to carry: http://www.rajiv.com/blog/2010/04/17/cleaning-soap/

 deodorant

 nail clipper

 First-aid kit

 Empty space to bring back things acquired during trip

Whether on personal or business trips, I always end up acquiring and bringing back things. Be sure to keep some space in my briefcase empty for them.

▾ ☐ Briefcase/Backpack

 MacBook Pro

I’ve found that my iPhone and iPad (even with physical keyboards) are not yet satisfactory for my content authoring and editing needs on business trips.

 iPad (optional)

 Kindle (optional)

If I am planning to read books in sunlight, then the iPhone and iPad are not suitable.

 Power Adapters Kit

 MacBook Pro Power Adapter

 iPad/iPhone/USB Wall Charger

 iPad/iPhone/USB Car Charger

 iPad/iPhone/USB Portable Battery Charger

 iPad/iPhone Lightning Charger Cable

 Micro USB Charging Cable for Kindle, Android Phone and Motorola S-11 Wireless Headset

 Power strip with surge protector

Useful when only 1 power outlet is available or convenient to me, which is often the case during travel.

 Audio headphones

I use Motorola S-11 HD Bluetooth headphones.

 Documents & Information

These could be all in digital form on my smartphone, but if so, should be quick and easy to find on my iPhone.

 airline tickets and schedules

 hotel reservation info

 car rental reservation info

 addresses and directions to and from key places

 to do lists

 complete contacts info / address book

 contact info of people in the area grouped together

 tourism info for the area

Carry a physical tourist guide book only when traveling internationally. For domestic travel within the U.S., use my smartphone.

 Backup eyeglasses

 Eyeglasses cleaning cloth and liquid

 Paper tissues

▾ ☐ Additional Wallet for Travel

 100 business cards to give out

 Passport, if traveling internationally

 Global Entry card, if traveling internationally

 Foreign currencies, if traveling internationally

Keep cash in a separate wallet in the unfortunate event of being pick-pocketed or robbed.

▾ ☐ Miscellaneous

 iPhone

 Wallet

 Keys

Even though I don’t need my keys during the trip, I do need them upon return. Keep them in my briefcase upon commencement of travel.

▾ ☐ Do Not Carry

 More than one physical printed book to read unless necessary

I haven’t gotten time to read all the books I carry on trips in the past. Too many printed books are a burden to carry. Examples of unless necessary include textbooks for classes, book gifts for someone

 Bulky audio headphones

I’ve personally not experienced a need for bulky noise isolation or noise canceling headphones. To me, they are not worth the bulk of carrying.

 Digital Camera, unless required for an event

These days smartphone cameras are good enough for many types of casual photography. Carry a digital camera only if I need it for taking high quality or low light photos at and event or when visiting family or friends. If carrying my digital camera, also pack my camera accessories pouch.

 Portable GPS unit, unless traveling internationally

If traveling internationally (even to Canada), consider carrying my Garmin nuvi with international maps loaded. Using data on my smartphone internationally is expensive. I should also research a navigation app that pre-downloads maps and can work without using data internationally.

 Food to eat on the plane or train

On a business trip, meals are reimbursable and carrying food is an unnecessary hassle, especially considering the risk of food leaking in my bag.

 Towel

While sometimes needed on personal trips visiting family or friends, a towel is not needed on business trips since hotels provide them.

 Handkerchiefs

I have switched to paper tissues as they are more hygienic.

 Anything else of value that is not necessary for this trip

Avoiding carrying things that are not necessary for the trip keeps the weight and space manageable and reduces chances of loss or damage.

▾ ☐ Before leaving, do the following

 Change voicemail message at work. provide alternate contact person and number.

 Enable email out-of-office auto-response at work. provide alternate contact person.

 Ensure that any tasks one-time or recurring that I had scheduled for the duration I’m away are assigned to alternates.

 Plan itinerary, including confirming meetings including personal visits.

 Reach out to some family and friends in the places I’ll be visiting.

 Back up and secure portable computer I’ll be carrying with me in case it is lost or stolen.

 Back up and secure smartphone I’ll be carrying with me in case it is lost or stolen.

 Allocate a pocket or pouch in my briefcase dedicated solely to storing receipts required for reimbursement of business related expenses.

 Ensure that will, insurance and emergency plans are in place and communicated to immediate family.

▾ ☐ After returning, do the following

 Change voicemail back to usual message.

 Disable email out-of-office auto-response.

 File for reimbursement of business related expenses.

Document updated:

  • 2014-Feb-09: Revision 4. Updated to keep up with the times.
  • 2010-Jan-24: Revision 3. Updated to reflect changes due to technologies like smartphones.
  • 2001-July-20: Revision 2.2.

Can multiple contradicting religions all be true? An imaginary discussion between two people

Cast:
Rex, a philosopher.
Fanatic, a religious fanatic who believes all other religions are false.

Rex: Do you believe in God?
Fanatic: Yes.

Rex: Do you believe God can do anything?
Fanatic: Yes.

Rex: Is God above human sciences, logic and reasoning?
Fanatic: Yes.

Rex: Can God do something that we humans can not understand or that we find impossible or contradictory?
Fanatic: Yes.

Rex: For example, can God make two plus two equal five?
Fanatic: Yes.

Rex: How about this: Can God make two plus two equal five and at the same time also have two plus two equal four?
Fanatic: Yes.

Rex: And, how about this: Can God have multiple religions which all seem contradictory to us by logic and reasoning, but still have them all ultimately true?
Fanatic: Hmm… Yes.

Lessons from martial arts that apply to life

Interacting with and helping other people

  • Some encounters are not worth the experience. If you spar with Mike Tyson, you will get hurt and have a headache afterwards.
  • Your vulnerabilities get exposed when you do certain things. It is ok to be vulnerable while you are doing what you believe is the right thing. Do remember to always guard your vital points, however.
  • Do not assume you have understood someone fully based on their past actions. Don’t wish for surprises, but be prepared for them.
  • Bow to the other person with sincere respect, but watch them and be on your guard even as you do that.
  • Be good, not evil. Analyze and improve your character with every experience. Be good and wise, not good and foolish.
  • Pick the right fundamentals and stick by them. Change your interface to suit the situation, but don’t let anything change your core self.
  • No matter how good you are, there will be times when the other person wins. Don’t allow a loss to crush you, and you will not be defeated. Look at the positive side. You put in a sincere effort and learnt things. Don’t have bitter feelings afterwards.
  • The most important lesson isn’t learning how to fall. It is learning to be able to get up.
  • True victory is when you win others, rather than defeat them.
  • Use logic to override emotion. Your brain is your most important shield and weapon. Use it to its fullest, but only for good.
  • Do not give up easily, even when things don’t seem to be working right. Have faith. Put in a sincere, hardworking, and good effort without thinking of results. Do the right things and the right results will follow. If they don’t, you are still a better person.
  • Some games are best not continued, even when the match appears exciting. When you find that, end the game. However, don’t suddenly turn your back without first telling what you are doing.

On Relationships, Romance & Love

Q. How long does it take to build a lasting relationship? 6 months? 1 Year? 2 Years? 5 Years? 10 years?

A. None of the above. It takes a lifetime of commitment.

It is easy, perhaps, to start a romantic relationship. What takes effort, though, is to keep improving it while at the same time, not letting it fall.

You may have gone out with someone for years and may think you have them figured out. That is unwise thinking. In the first place, you can’t know another person’s mind that well. In the second place, people change, situations change. You are never “done” building your relationship. To make it last a lifetime, you have to work on it a lifetime. However, work does not mean a burden. True, it takes effort to do any work, but work can be satisfying and pleasurable. Seemingly tedious work done in building a relationship can lead to a lot of long term peace of mind, happiness, and even great pleasures. A lasting relationship that gives pleasure throughout life and lets you have peace of mind is much better for your life than short term relationship that gives only pleasure on the short term.

Q. How does one find the right person?

A. When you look for the right person, don’t look for someone with all the qualities you desire. The probability of finding such a person is low, unless you commit a major part of your life to the search. (If you do that, other aspects of your life may suffer, making you a less desirable person.)

Look for someone who shows the potential of someone willing and able to build a lasting, happy relationship. Look for someone who has commitment. If you are both the types who will and continue to work hard to make it work, the chances are that you won’t have to work too hard.

Plan your life around long term goals. Before you start seriously dating someone, think if they are the right person for you in the long term.

Q. Is it ok to live with someone before marriage?

A. I’m not an authority on religious ethics, so that’s something you should first check with your belief structure. I will give some practical reasons why I believe that it is often not a wise idea. By living together unmarried, you build barriers between the two of you that don’t disappear after marriage. For example, you get used to separating your certain key finances that (in my opinion) a husband and wife should share. You get used to living without the special commitment to each other that is required of a marriage.

What ends up happening often is that not much changes after marriage. Now if you were a special committed couple and were already sharing all aspects of your life that a couple should (certain finances, responsibility without keeping accounts of who did how much), you are fine. However, in many cases, the life together without marriage only looks like a marriage from the outside, but isn’t anything like marriage on the inside. There is major and fundamental difference between almost married and married. Marriage is not defined by sex. Marriage is not defined by a close friendship. Marriage is not even defined by having children. Marriage is defined by an unfailing commitment to another human being. Your spouse is the relative that you choose, not a relative by birth. You should chose well, but then you should stick with what you choose. (This does apply to a marriage, but it may not apply to other things in life like a job. They are different things.)

Pleasure isn’t something you should have to seek. Pleasure comes automatically when things go well, when good things happen