Thanksgiving 2013 – End Times

For Dad’s Taxi, Thanksgiving is always the start of new beginnings and the end of times. I know many will say that makes no sense at all. Well the answer to that is Yes and No.

I was looking at the empty screen of my posting board and thinking that perhaps I’ll write about what I’m thankful for this year. Yet I knew that would just be a rehash of things that I’m thankful for every day. So I’m taking a left turn and writing more about that things that I found closure in this year, or as I call in my own way.. “The end of the Beginning”.

End of Times:

  • Debt: Many of my readers know that the pervasive thing that I write about on this blog is Debt. Well in 2013, I finally become debt free. Yes! I did it. Yet to be perfectly honest, this did not come free of cost. I lost my dad this year because of him I am now debt free. Everything he said about debt rings true in my ears and a part of him (unfortunately) still lives inside me.
  • Forgiveness and letting go: With my dad’s passing in January of this year,  I learned many important lessons and if not the most important was forgiveness and letting go. I struggled for so many years with not being able to forgive him for the perceived and some real injustices he had done to our family as we were growing up. In the last 3 months of his life, I saw him every day becoming more and more frail and losing touch with reality. He was dependent on my visits as he lay in his hospital bed’s unable to control his life, with flashes of memory of his past. May god rest his soul.
  • Self actualization and understanding: This year I became more aware of how much ingrained personality traits I had as a result of my childhood and adulthood growing up in the dysfunction that I call Dad’s taxi of life.
  • Moving forwards and not looking back: Understand your past and you will be able to move forward. If you continue to regret “what if’s”, you will never be able to treasure what you had and move on with the next part of your life.. I guess this is an ongoing
    Fake Turkish Taxi for Chaos filming - 032120114085

    epiphany that have on a daily basis.

I’m grateful to my wife and kids for giving me all the materials that I get to write about. Without Dad’s Taxi and the postings I make here, I’m not sure whether, I’d be as thankful as I am today for what I have, regardless of where tomorrow takes me.

To all my family, friends, readers, supporters, and I’m thankful to each of you for making my life so interesting..

What are you thankful for?

You can run but you can’t hide – Boston Marathon terrorists bought to justice.

our flagFor the past few days I’ve been thinking more and more about the events of this past week and needed an outlet to vent my anger. As the week progressed, I found myself getting angrier and angrier that cowards like the 2 brothers could bring a large city to its knees.

When I saw the blood stained US flag of one of the hero’s my rage started to boil over even more.

explosion sitesThis week was a horrible week for many of us. As we saw in horror the terrorist attacks in Boston, I personally sat transfixed listening, reading about and watching the news feed both on-line, on the radio and on television the progression on how as these home-grown  terrorists had justice served to them. These cowards (and I’m being generous with these words) killed and maimed innocents at Boston Marathon.

My personal reflections on this weeks events:

  • Both of these cowards came to America as refugees and America opened their doors to these losers (as their uncles called them). The US Government took these boys  from their war-torn country and gave them the opportunity to start a new life.  boston suspects
  • The Russian government had given the US government a heads up on the older brother’s actions as well their suspicions in 2011!
  • Why didn’t the US secret service keep the older brother on the watch list and keep an eye on him and his actions after his return from this 6 month visit to Russia?
  • The 19-year-old younger brother was a recently naturalized citizen (on 9/11/12 – ironic isn’t it?), and was going to an American college on scholarship.
  • How many millions and millions of dollars in resources did we spend to bring these terrorists to justice?
  • How many millions and millions of dollars are we going to spend to keep the 19-year-old alive in the hospital, for the trial and in prison? At least the older one died violently which was a good thing.
  • Are these weeks attacks a part of a larger nefarious act of a “sleeper terrorist cell” that is planning other attacks? How do we act quickly and exterminate these sleeper cells?

As a citizen, I applaud the tenacity at which the local and federal law enforcement officials collaborated to swiftly bring these 2 brothers to justice, These cowards kept Boston and the surrounding suburbs of Boston in terror for the past week. Without doubt the veracity and the swift actions of all the first responders, FBI, local police, and all law enforcement officers in Boston, showed our resolve and that these acts of cowardice will be met with swift justice.

I’m almost certain these home-grown terrorists would have done more harm to the innocent citizens of our nation of over the next few weeks. With the amount of explosives and firepower they had in their possession, it was obvious to me that the Marathon may just have been the first of many acts these horrific human beings had planned.

Some of the questions that raced through my mind during this week:

  • To hear of a “All American” 19 year old turn into a terrorist is just disturbing.
  • What made these 19 and 26 year old immigrants become such horrible human beings?
  • What made them turn into menaces to the same society that embraced them and gave them the opportunity to have a good and prosperous life?

As I sit here writing this post, I have a sense that the other shoe has not yet dropped and the senseless act of terrorism that we saw this week in Boston may not be the end.

The one consistent lesson our country has taught  terrorists we capture/kill:

“You can run, but you cannot hide from us – We are strong and unified.”

God bless America and I wish the speediest of recovery to the victims of this horrific act that we were all a witness to..

Hurricane Sandy: A week after

Map of New Jersey
Map of New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

So it’s almost a week after Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey. There are still almost a million people in NJ without power and many communities are devastated.

 

When I reflect on that, my situation at my home (no power) is trivial. Yes, we are living at relatives houses in other parts of New Jersey, but the sheer impact of Sandy is felt no matter where we are. Especially the gas situation.

 

Some highlights/low lights since my last posting:

 

  • As of yesterday the odd/even system of getting gas was implemented by Governor Christie. I commend him on doing this. I spent almost an hour on-line getting gas a few days ago. These kinds of lines reminded me of the lines I saw over 20 years ago when I used to live in NYC during the Oil embargo when Gas was less than $1 a gallon. Now we are paying over $3.50 a gallon and the sense of deja vu is back for me!
  • I realized my elderly father needs immediate attention as his mental faculties have deteriorated tremendously and I have to now take charge of his entire life. If Sandy had NOT come around, I would never have seen this, so from the bad came this good/bad news. I’ve spent the past few days getting organized on how to take care of my father who is in his mid 80’s and let me tell you this is an absolute attitude adjustment, for me. I’m thinking that I’ll spend the next few weeks posting some of the things I’ve done and hopefully this will enable some feedback and interaction with others that are or have gone through what I’m going through!
  • In times of need the people that reach out to you from all over the world shows that people do care. I’ve received so many emails on Facebook, Linked In, Text messages that I’m truly touched at the outpouring of affection from my friends and relatives.
  • Living with my various relatives has been such a joy.. These people have opened their hearts and homes to my family, and this is truly touching. This scenario is being played out in many families and I’m sure many will attest to this.

 

Good thing about today.. it’s Sunday and I have a TV to watch the games!

 

 

 

Texas on my Mind

A few weeks ago, I spent about a week in Dallas, Texas. This was both a personal and business visit. Personal first, business last. My brother and family live in Plano, Texas and they always show me a great time.

This time was extra special because, I got to eat the cheapest and most delicious Indian Food I’ve ever had. As my friends know me, my mantra is always “if it’s cheap or free it’s for me”. I try to be the ultimate in frugal. It doesn’t always work out, but I’m pretty proud of the ability to find deals.

In the Plano Area I’ve found 2 places that fit the bill for me for cheap and good eats

  • Mexican Food – $1 for a sit down meal for tacos. Chito’s has fresh chicken, fish, pork and beef tacos, you can’t go wrong. The salsa combinations are to die for as well
  • Indian Food – 99 cent daily specials at India Bazaar in Plano! Every day a special that you don’t want to miss. These are not just samples, but a full serving of amazing vegetarian food like Paani Puri, Bhel, and the topper, pure sugar cane juice
  • Beer and Darts – $2 dollar drafts and free games of Darts at Fox and Hound.. You can’t beat that. I’ve never played darts, but when you get a bullseye, that is worth the price of admission. Oh by the way, there is no admission charge! Only problem with this place is that it allows smokers and it doesn’t have a non-smoking section.. I gotta remember the name of this place. Highlight of this place was and I swear this would never happen to me in NJ.. A guy I just met sees that I don’t know how to set up the darts says.. let me help you and he gives me the edges to the darts out of the kindness of his heart. In NY/NJ.. they would tell you to go to..

After my awesome visit with my brother, I went to the pinnacle of luxary: The Hilton Anatole , in Downtown Dallas.Let me tell you I’ve been travelling for so many years for both business and pleasure, this hotel is #1 on my places I’d like to stay again in. From having the beautiful artwork (Including having 2 pieces of the Berlin wall, multiple Buddha statues, the Indian artwork, the pictures). This place is state of the art and huge! I felt like I died and went to heaven! You gotta see it to believe it!

I have to tell you, If I had my druthers, I’d be planning my relocation to Plano Texas.. Every one of my financial issues would be solved instantly. Yet I know, my Kismet/Karma is not that good. I’m destined to continue struggle daily in the Garden State.. oh well such is life.

Oh wait, I can close my eyes anytime and I can visualize myself living in Plano and being Dad’s taxi driving my daughter from activity to activity!

Blogging Hiatus

Normally, I try to blog at least once a week, but for the past few week it’s been totally crazy.. I just came back from Dallas from an employee resource group conference.

I tell you Dallas just continues to amaze me at the size of the malls and the number and variety of restaurants that are available in almost any neighborhood and mall. I found a little strip mall which had 10+ small restaurants in Addison, Texas that were all different (Mexican, Italian, Tex-Mex, Grill, etc..)

Another thing is the size of these malls, the sizes are just huge, I guess when they say “Things are bigger in Texas” they must have meant the shopping malls!

The more I go to Texas, the more I realize, I don’t think I could live there. It’s just different. Yes there is diversity, but just the general mood of the city is different. I’ll go into that more in other postings.

Anyway, Dad’s taxi is back in operation and has to hit the road to drop off the younger one to school. I’ll post more later.

Almost forgot to add that the amount of spam that I continue to get on this blog is mind boggling.. People don’t leave comments (that’s ok), but I was gone for 2  weeks and I had over 30 SPAM comments.. How many pairs of UGGS shoes can a person buy?

TTYL for now!

Dad’s Taxi – Texas on my Mind

I didn’t post any new perspectives over the past 10 days as I was out-of-town. I was visiting the lovely state of Texas, which my brother calls home.  I gotta tell you this, the state of Texas and especially the city of Plano, has a new fan in me.

I guess my perspective would change when I visit Texas in June, when it’s scorching and you can basically burn without much effort. I gotta say one thing (amongst my various opinions), I can easily imagine leaving the friendly confines of my native Monmouth County, NJ home and relocating there.

Except for the one tornado warning that I experienced, I found my first visit to Texas in 25 years to be really eye-opening. Plano is a wonderful place to live, with everything you may want with a healthy dose of very comfortable quality of life. The parks, schools, roads, malls, technology and just about everything just shine. As many people know, I’m never one to give compliments easily to anyone, anything, or anyplace.

What struck me most about Plano was that financially, relocation to Plano would be a no-brainer. The amount of money I could save provide a BETTER quality of life for my family is beyond my wildest dreams. Yet, in order to make this kind of transplanting you need to always think things through. As everyone does, I carry plenty of baggage, both literally and figuratively. A few months ago, I wrote about debt and my constant battle beat this devil. Well moving to Plano, would wipe out my debts and still leave me with plenty of change to plan for the future.

The price of housing in Texas can best be described as almost 1/2 of what is in NJ (one of the most expensive and overpriced places in the US to live) . The number of “man-caves” I saw on this trip made me blush with joy. I said to myself: “This could be mine!”

When they say: “Everything is bigger in Texas” is without a doubt true.. The Parks, Malls, restaurants, Houses, roads.. everything is bigger in size.

The only thing that I found unusual in my brother’s community house was the obvious emptiness of no kids playing in the front yard.. I just didn’t get it. I think it’s the culture that the kids have so much space and activities going on that they don’t have time to be outdoors running around and playing in their community. And as my brother was driving me around to various communities, I saw the same thing almost everywhere, there were no kids anywhere outside.. It wasn’t too hot so that could not have been the reason.

Anyway, Plano Texas is one place, I’m sure to visit again over the next few months. Who knows, perhaps my destiny will take me there next as a transplanted Northerner..

Overall, my visit to Texas allowed me to reconnect with my brother’s family and my amazing nephews and niece! Warmed my heart and put a huge smile on my face for days.

With all the technology, companies that have corporate homes in the Plano area, it’s no surprise that Plano has so many schools (at all levels of education). Each school is huge and of course  each has amazing facilities.

Let’s see, when is my next trip to Plano? I think I’ll go next month.. I had the best Mexican food at the cheapest price (and we all know how much I’m into good food and low-cost food!).  Even as I returned to my home in NJ, I could still taste the amazing $1 Taco that I had the day before in Plano.. and this taco beats Taco Bell to a pulp!

Overall, my visit to Plano felt incomplete.. you know why? I was so enamored with the city that I felt like that not only had I reconnected with my brother and his family, I felt that perhaps, life outside NJ suddenly become a reality.. Now if I can only unload the excess baggage I carry around every day!

TTFN

Tri-Valley University Scam in California

I was just reading the local publication of News India-Times when  I came across a scam that I wanted to talk about.

Tri-Valley University based in Pleasanton, California, had committed immigration fraud with over $4M in illegal tuitions over the past 2 years. With over 95% of their students coming for higher education from India!  Homeland Secuirity approved Tri-Valley University”  in 2009 and over 2 years had over 1,5000 registered “students”.

In reality, Tri-Valley University was just a pyramid scheme to bring in a majority of their students from Andra Pradesh, India with referral fees and discounts to provide educational visas for students. Of coursed these visas were nothing but  scam to bring students from India via immigration fraud.  Now of course many of the students were not aware of this massive immigration fraud, but wouldn’t you be suspicious if you came to the US for learning and all you saw was a building with minimal educational surroundings and were asked to stay in an apartment with other students?

These students that caem here took their TOEFL and passed their interviews at the US consulate after providing the necessary documents! This is based on an anonymous student who went to Tri-Valley. Now these students will rely on the empathy of the US government, pro-bono cases taken on by large law companies and representation by the various Indian associations in the US to represent the students facing deportation.

This kind of scam really is terrible, because now these students are being deported when they were just part of the scam  that Tri-Valley University concocted to make over $4M dollars over 2 years!

Now that the “University” is shut down, these students  who are either being detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have had their passports taken away or are under monitoring via ankle bracelet.

Let me ask you this question. What should be done with these students? Should they be sent back to India or should they be given the opportunity to find legitimate institutions to pursue their education? Keep in mind, a majority of these students come from poor villages in India.

What do you think? Should these students be allowed to stay in the US or should they be deported?

Updated on 2/22:

There’s a movement in California to get support to these students of the now shuttered Tri-Valley University to get admissions in real universities so they don’t get sent back. What do you think of this?

I of course have my opinion. How can these students be considered “pawns” of this scam? Didn’t they realize that they were being scammed when they came to the US and saw this “college” which was just sham?

Many kids from India and their parents struggle to send their kids to America to study, these kids just because they were defrauded do they deserve to be allowed to stay? What do you think?