Horses' Back

Here is a look into the corporate mind that is very interesting, educational, historical, completely true, and hysterical all at the same time:

The US standard railroad gauge (width between the two rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did “they” use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots first formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse’s ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses. Thus, we have the answer to the original question.

Now the twist to the story . . .

There’s an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses’ behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses’ behinds. So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a Horse’s Ass!

*P.S. This was a forwarded mail from one of my friends and is not written by me, Posted it here as I wanted to share this interesting observation.

Slippers Over Books

Amazon.com has been a success story for all the supporters of IT & web based selling models from all over the world. In my one year of MBA I have heard a lot of about Amazon.com and was very appreciative of this company which is the hallmark of existence of a virtual world. Amazon.com has been a name which fascinated me for all these years and every time I typed the URL of the website I was greeted by a sophisticated interface.

For me Amazon.com was worlds’ biggest and the best online “BOOK STORE”. Recently an article in Washington Post made me realize and accept a change which was gradually happening and I never realized it. Amazon is changing its business model. They are no more a book store, they are aspiring to be a one stop shop. The title bar on my browser says “Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more”. The interface has changed; it no longer looks like an online bookstore. It is more of a general mart, a variety store or a hypermarket kind of structure.

I had strong inhibitions that this strategy of leveraging the brand, would succeed. As a consumer, Amazon for me does not relate to Online store, but an Online Book Store. The worst part is when I open the site the display greeted me with a display which was not books, stationary, DVDs etc but some pair of Slippers. I can’t believe that a person can have same associations with a place where he buys his slippers and the place where he buys his books. According to me the way Amazon is going it is headed towards doom. Because it contradicts a basic law of branding “The Law of Expansion” which says the power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope. That is trying to be all things to all the people undermines the power of a brand. The strength of a brand lies in being synonymous with a single category. Amazon is a typical example of an excellent brand violating the law of expansion and losing the brand value. The same can be evident from the earnings and stock prices from past one year which have seen a major drop. It would have been a more practical and beneficial solution for Amazon if they would have made a new brand from scratch. Amazon for customers relates to a category as an online book store and can never be a retail mart.

Even Amazon is now aware of the dropping brand equity and customer response. They have been trying hard to regain their positioning buy organizing online shows of Bob Dylan and now lately it has decided to make his foray into movie business by buying right to make movie on a best seller novel “The Stolen Child”. This comes in the light when Amazon’s stocks have shown a dip of 60% over previous year. I still have strong feelings regarding that will these kind of desperate measures be able to rescue Amazon, from the bear ride it is now on. Will the strategy of diversifying from books to a store of 34 different product categories pay off in a long run. All these questions remained unanswered and probably time can be the only teller to it but as of now the situation doesn’t seem to be in favour of Amazon.

A Passing Thought

I had a passing thought, felt good about it so leaving for people to comment,

Mere dil ne khayalo main afsane bahut likhe hai,
Jinka tamannao main abhi baki namo nisha hai,
Mujhe pyaar karne ki sazaa na de, aie Vayaz,
Sazaa dene ke bahane aur bhi hai.

Of Betrayal in Love, Trust & Relatioships

I feel shocked, there has to be an element of trust in every relationship. I have never been betrayed so badly, my trust has never gone for toss with such scorn, and it hurts. Yes it hurts badly. I was one of the early adopters of the product called “Soft Drinks” or “Aerated Drinks”. They have been a part of my life since past 15 years, they have been as close to me, and had replaced water to quite an extent in my lifestyle. I still remember my order when I used to visit the Dhaba( a small food joint, by the highway side) and my usual order used to be “Special tadke wali Dal, Butter Roti and Pepsi” which used to make my dinner night after night in my days of engineering college. How I used to be a lover of soft drinks, a loyalist to their product and as well as brand.

I stand here now, feeling betrayed, dumped for the most selfish purpose in life, making money. I always trusted them bestowed my love on them, and all they did was to play on my life, my quality of my life. They lied to me about everything, I gave them a place in my life and they made money out of my cost. Last evening the highlights flashing on the TV, told me that how badly Pepsi & Coca-Cola had treated me. What they had been doing to me behind my back. I was always told that I was being provided was a world class product, a quality product. I always believed that I was getting into a relationship with these products as an advocate for their quality. I never believed then 3 years from now, when they told me that I was being fed on pesticide. I never believed but yesterday I knew that I was dumped in love, I was used, and my trust was compromised.

It’s so bad that I was being fed on pesticide that too 24 times what was permissible for keeping my health. It was like you were blinded in love and your lover is out to kill you. I don’t know how much I have lost in this relationship, how much my quality and length of life have been compromised. But I would follow a belief that has always guided me through bad relationships “Relationships are like Investment, Get out of a bad one as soon as possible”. Now that my courtship with aerated drinks is over and the blindfold removed, I could see the things clearly and have a determination in my heart that I am not going to allow them to play with my emotions and my life anymore, they don’t deserve someone as loyal as me and I am not going to be associated with Cyprians like coke and Pepsi anymore!!!!

Of Impersonating Profiles, Obscene Messages and Mysterious Calls

Someone just forwarded me this article about an upcoming wave of crime on the internet (click here to read). How the people of the fairer sex who have been impersonated on an online people networking interface called Orkut. The internet has come of an age in India and people are now becoming savvy, using all these technology in their lifestyle. I feel happy when I see around me people using messenger, reading blogs, and updating their life style with the new technologies as an integral part.of their life.

But when I read articles as the above I feel that this exposure to technology has given us a lot of power, and with great power comes a great responsibility. The perverted use the technology to pelter out there own frustrations. How can a person get pleasure in impersonating someone else in a defamatory way? What kind of sadist approach is this to life and human interactions?

The thing which makes it worst is that generally the people who do this are acquaintances or friends of the people they impersonate. I don’t understand why can’t people understand some following simple concepts especially with regards to the Internet & other technology advances-

1- If u search “Nude Pictures” in google you get already get 32,900,000 results and why on earth you find that you are doing great service to the netiezen’s as a whole by morphing the picture of a friend with vulgar and obscenity. Everyone knows it is morphed and they don’t really care, except for the person who is really getting embarrassed. So please get a life, as there are better things to do in life than morphing pictures.

2- I have yet to come across who has started of a real good relationship with lines of the genre “Can I be your friend”, “Your pic looks cute, want to be my friend”, “Your internet profile seems very interesting, I would like to know u better”. Interestingly I have seen profile of a lots of my female friends flooded with messages similar to these. And any conversations which are followed on these lines generally tend to follow on the lines of sex. Another interesting observation is that these kinds of messages are passed not to a single person but in bulk, as in it is a mass marketing mailer campaign. So if you feel or your only objective behind these mass campaigns is that you might find someone good as a friend, or might get chance to get laid or discuss soft porn. There are better ways of doing it to sending these messages to completely unknown people.

3- Another interesting breed is who are diligent enough that when they see a girl they take the effort to follow her, get hold of her phone number (I don’t know how they manage to maintain extra large phonebooks, I have troubles keeping my small phonebook updated where I have no separate group which is non acquainted with me). Then they would end up giving missed calls, obscene messages and would like to tell these ladies “That how they have fallen in love with them”. These kinds of people often send some strange kind of questions popping in my brain. How they tend to correlate which phonebook entry corresponds to which number (I feel it would be difficult if u tend to fall in love so often and specially if u haven’t seen the person u love except for once when u were following her). Regarding obscene messages all I can say if u think people laugh reading your obscene messages may be yes but if u think they think you are the seventh edition and 66th reprint of James bond then may be u r in for a surprise. They really think that you are stupid moronic ass, who doesn’t know what and where to talk. The telecom companies have reduced sms rates but that doesn’t means that gives u the leeway to message anyone, anything that u think might be interesting.

This list is not exhaustive and I can keep on adding but the bottom line is, the technology is here to improve life style and the living quotient of the civilization. Not because what one thinks might be fun and interesting. So when next time you are about to play a prank with someone using technology, ask yourself two questions. First, do you have a leeway enough on personal level to play that prank? Second, how much you yourself, or someone else may be your sister or your girlfriend or your wife would be offended if this was done to her? To end all I can say to everyone is Enjoy the technology with a responsibility….

The Road Bend

On this cold morning, the chilly wind brushing apart,
The city is already awake, the sun is red conquering the dark,
On the lush green trees, the larks sing their songs,
Calling all the city, “Do come along”.
The empty roads, suddenly appreciate crowd,
The shouting engines roared down with proud.
Everyone is rushing thinking of rest & joy,
On the corner stood all alone, a little boy.
All alone in this mad world he decided to toil,
Felt his home beneath the sky and above the soil.
No one in this world he had, to reach out and go,
The mettle in him, he wanted to show.
But he ever knew what will be the endm
Never realized where in eternity he will land.
Strange mix of courage and lonliness his life was a blend,
His only companion in his journey was the Road Bend.

Nice to hear from you Mr. Shourie

Today was the day after so many days of wait, that I finally got to see one of my Idols Mr. Arun Shourie, live on stage, One of the special days of my life. The lecture was good a lot of orientation, though it was a shock to me, I was expecting a high content based session with lots of facts, figures and numbers. i was expecting an economist, a journalist in action. What came was a pleasant surprise (though it was a shock for me, as I always saw Mr. Shourie as an economist, politician and a journalist. This was what I had conceived when I had read his books). It was neither the economist nor the journalist and nor the politician in action. It was the leader Mr. Arun Shourie in action. It was a small talk laden with a vision, a vision to excellence of individuals and their synergies for the country. A vision which he saw for every youth in the country and all he did was to spark the same vision in our hearts, in a profound an elegant manner that every person in the hall was ears to the voice. It was such a pleasure to see and hear Mr. Shourie, his vision and to add salt to the taste was his excellent articulation. I have yet to come across a speaker who is so concerned about his audiences that even when he quotes random verses from ‘Dhampad’ he makes an accurate English translation for his audience. It’s been around 12hrs since I have seen Mr. Shourie, but a thought which is still lingers in my mind, “Just take one public issue, just anyone which concerns you and do something about it.” the thought some how sticks, may be it is too simple to fade away. He came, spoke and went away all he left for the people in the hall was an idea, an answer to the question asked by many of the youths today “How can we make a difference?”
For me the day would imbibe into my life, with an amazing memorabilia. Autograph of Shri Arun Shourie on one of my books. Thanks Shikha, Rahul, Manan, Shweta, Mahima and the I-CIT for helping me get a souvenir for me.

A Rendezvous in Waiting

It’s been long wait, after the truth behind the teasers was revealed. Sometimes little lines change many things. A poster put on the walls of the institute, made me realized that one of my dreams would be true. I would be one of the lucky people who would get a chance to see and listen to one of most admired personalities by me, Mr. Arun Shourie. Meeting a person of his mettle would be a lifetime experience, one of the most radical thought leaders in the current political and social arena., would be right in front of me in my very own institute. Wouldn’t that be fun!!!!
After reading two of his books out of twenty I can say that he is one of the most revolutionary people in the Indian politics, someone who has the guts to stand against the system, say things which are often subdued for the political interest. A person who can give the right perspective about India, a person who can quote excerpts from ‘Vedas’ as comfortably as he can from ‘Quran’ or ‘The Holy Bible’ a true secularist at heart. Someone who has the guts to publish a book on the most sensitive issue of the day like reservations and can state his views so openly as

Falling Over Backwards: An essay against Reservations and against Judicial populism by Arun Shourie
How is it that what was explicitly forbidden by the constitution – classification based on caste – has become the rule? How is it that what were enabling provisions have become mandatory minima? Where does the figure 50 per cent come from? How is it that in practice it is exceeded blatantly? Are the benefits not being hogged by a few, the better-off amont these castes? Has the “creamy layer” been actually hived off? How is it that what were begun as reservations at entry became reservations in promotions also? How did this become a right to accelerated promotions? How did that become a right “accelerated promotions with consequential senority”? How did that become a right to have the prescribed standards diluted – to the point of being waived althgether? Even in educational institutions. Is this any way to become a “knowledge super-power”? As thee has been no caste-wise enumeration and tabulation since the 1931 Census, where does this mythical figure – “OBC’s are 52 per cent of the population” come from? And what did the 1931 Census itself say about its caste-wise figures? How have the Courts come to acquiesce in such wholesale perversion of the Constitution? Is their role to cheer such perversion on? Or is it to conserve, to protect the Constitution?
* T he above is an excerpt of the book which is freely available on the internet

It as been a long wait for me, but tomorrow is the day when I will have a chance to be face to face with Mr. Arun Shourie, a men of guts and rational. Knowing a person who has an entry by his name in the Wikipedia (Click here to view). All this in our very own SIBM, being done by a student body of the college, That’s what we call student driven…Kudos CIT!!!! An idea which will last a lifetime.

This Time its 7/11

It is an hour past the midnight and the date has changed, I am still on internet lying flat on my bed looking thorugh the irony of life. Millions of people left there homes like everyday, telling there kids and wives that they will come back on time and how much they loved them. But 146 will never be able to make it back home, all for the 8 serial blasts in Mumbai. The TV, Radio, Sms all spreading the news like a wild fire, striking like a thunderbolt. Mobile phones are out every where people trying to reach their friends, family and relatives to know there where abouts. Ambulances, Hospital numbers, Political figures flashing everywhere but the fact would be that 146 homes would be mourning.
The beauty of life is it never stops all it ever does is to go on at its own pace, Now the date has changed and it would be a new day. Everyone would again come out of their houses in another 6 hours and move back to the life telling their kids and wife that How much they love them and that they will come early and a self confiding thought “There won’t be any blasts today!!!”.

Just Another Day

Bright rays of light falling on the eyes,
A brand new day with hopes too high,
The first feet to start the day are out of the bed
My face and the sun showing spirits in Red.

The start of the day can not be better, I believe,
A good day ahead is all I can percieve,
The world today would be at my stride,
I will go on a seventh heaven ride.

During the day emotions change, with worldy brash,
Life is unfair, rude and harsh,
The little heart filled with hope slowly slumbers,
Life is long but the days are numbered.

The day is gone, The evening light is dim
Cleared away are all my morning fantacies and whim,
The realities of the world dawn on me,
Today a pawn I was Will King I ever be?

The sun is still there glowing red but my face is white,
Spent the day figuring out how to live it right,
One more day of life some memories amassed
Just Another Day has Passed, Just Another Day has Passed.