Saturday, January 24, 2009

Open letter to California Senator Ms. Elquist

Dear Senator Alquist,

My name is Sandeep Jain and I am a resident of the 
city of Santa Clara.

I care deeply about state of California and with this letter I want to bring to your kind attention the pressing issue of 
water scarcity in California. On its website, the Department of Water Resources mentions that “California is facing the most significant water crisis in its history”.

I would like to suggest one approach which can help save several millions of gallons of water per year – through the use of 
waterless urinals in public places. 

States of 
Arizona and Oregon have already enacted bills and to this effect.

Arizona Bill 2276 (effective Jan 1, 2005)

Oregon State Plumbing Board Ruling (effective around Jan 7, 2005)

I sincerely request you to enact similar law for the state of California.

Your kind attention in this matter is most sincerely appreciated.

Thanks & Best Regards,
Sandeep Jain

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Help-You-Carry (more...)

Last week I sent out emails to Senior Citizen centers of Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Campbell, Cupertino, Fremont and Los Gatos. I got strong interest from Cupertino city. 

I met with the co-ordinator at the Senior Center today and she mentioned that the service would be quite useful for 15-20 seniors she serves. She also promised to discuss this service with other organizations working for seniors. 

I am happy to see that the effort is progressing!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I started Help You Carry (HYC) this week after seeing the discomfort certain people have in carrying basic shopping items.

Help-You-Carry (HYC) is a volunteer effort to help people with disabilities and old people to carry shopping items. 


1. Send email to helpyoucarrry at to schedule time/pick-up 
2. Proposed time: Sundays 1-5pm. 
3. Currently servicing requests within roughly 20 miles of Santa Clara. 
4. If you do not have your own vehicle, HYC can bring its own car. 
5. Pick up from home and drive to the shopping place (preferably close by) 
6. HYC will help in shopping and picking items and finally delivering and dropping them off at pick-up place. 

Water Conservation: Another milestone to reach

In 1994, US Government released a mandate that restricts the capacity of single toilet flush to no more than 1.6 gallons of water. It was a great step to reduce water consumption across every household in US. 

If you wish to learn more about water conservation standards mandated by US and individual states, check the following site:

Through this site, I came to know that in Arizona and Oregon, water cannot be used for flushing in urinals! I haven’t been to either of the states so far, but will be on the lookout.

I suppose there is one more way to substantially reduce water wastage: Push-button water-control for showerheads.

Most of us have a lever based water-control for our showers. At the time of entering bath, one has to fiddle around with the right setting of the lever to get the desired temperature of the running water. Due to the effort involved in doing this, I suspect if anyone turns off the shower while soaping. And this is where the problem lies. Assuming an average bath time of 10 to 15 minutes, I would suppose one spends roughly 20% of the time is spent in soaping (during which running shower is not required), we end up wasting around 5 gallons of water per bath (federal standard mandates water flow rate of showers to be less than or equal to 2.5 gallons/minute). Now, if we had a way to turn off the shower at the push of a button and restart the shower which delivered water at the same temperature as before, we can save 5 gallons of water per bath!

Doing some rough calculation (see below), based on Santa Clara country water rates, a family of four will save the following:

Total water savings/year = $9.80 (modest)

Pride in saving 7300 gallons of water = Immeasurable


Water usage per year = 365 * 5 * 4 = 7300 gallons

Water rate for Santa Clara, CA = $0.877 per Hundred Cubic Feet (HCF)

1 HCF = 748 gallons

Total cost of water usage per year = 7300/748 = $9.80

Doing some rough calculation based on US population, the average savings per year comes to be around 456 billion gallons of water!! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

HDMI - a useful feature it lacks

When you connect a device to your computer through USB, you may have noticed how the computer “recognizes” the USB device and displays the name of the device in the directory. USB standard must have a provision which allows for easy identification of devices connected to the computer through USB. 

Let’s move over to HDMI. A High Definition television (Plasma or LCD) contains usually a few of those (1-4 ports). Now, usually multiple HDMI ports are in use simultaneously e.g.,

HDMI port 1    connected to   Cable box

HDMI port 2    connected to   DVD/Blue-Ray disc player

HDMI port 3    connected to   Game console (Playstation/X-Box)


The trouble comes when you have to switch the input to the TV from one HDMI port to another. Since HDMI standard very likely does not have provision of device identification, my TV just displays “HDMI port 1, HDMI port 2,....” leaving me to guess which port is connected to which device.

I wish HDMI had device identification built-in in which case the TV could have displayed “HDMI-1: Cable,  HDMI-2: DVD,...” or something like that making it really convenient to change the inputs.

Israel War

Every war has its beginning. This war probably had its beginning in Jan 2006 when Hamas defeated its only rival Fatah in the Parliamentary Elections of 2006; Palestine people were ready to give Hamas a chance to resolve the Israel-Palestine situation. It is notable that both political parties -- Hamas and Fatah -- have militant factions, though only Hamas has been declared as a terrorist organization by several countries. Fights between the two militant groups are quite common, however the situation took a different turn in Jun 2007 when Hamas successfully rebelled against the Fatah party and took control of the Gaza strip. After that war, Palestine Authority took control over West Bank, a distinct part of Palestine and Hamas took over Gaza. 

Since the power shift after Jun 2007 conflict, Hamas has fired rockets into Israel territory essentially trying to escalate the bigger Palestine-Israel conflict. To stop the rocket attacks and very likely to disengage the Hamas, Israel attacked Gaza in Jan 2009. The war still continues with no hope of ending; UN resolution on ending the war continues to be stalled with key members in UN Security Council not backing such a move.

The war will however end one day. I suspect that with the kind of terror civilians in Gaza have seen will further fuel Hamas's purpose.  Maybe Israel needs to fight this battle differently by turning the civilians against Hamas. May be during this ongoing conflict, Israel can show a humanitarian approach by offering to take care of injured civilians women and children. Such a move will not only help in saving lives, it will also help Israel tremendosuly in gaining civilians vote of confidence.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Middle East Mayhem

World is divided between right and wrong. Someone's right could be someone's wrong. 

In the case of middle-east conflict, the root cause of the matter seems to be that Hamas (an organization that publicly uses terrorism as a means to achieve its goals) is leading Palestine (vs. a much more diplomatic Palestine National Authority). However, Hamas came into power through democratically held elections. In that sense, one would suppose Israel's real issue is with Palestine people and not Hamas. 

If at all Israel needs to amend the situation, it needs to wage public opinion against Hamas.  Lets face it, no one wants to see their homes getting bombed and their children, women and youth being killed. By attacking Palestine, it could be prompting more civilian Palestines to think or be like Hamas. A moderate individual from Palestine could now very well decide to become a revolutinary now. What good can it do for Israel? 

Instead, Israel should have focused first on diplomatic means to resolve the issue. With "new" US government support, they could have possibly gone quite far with it. As any able statesman would agree, there are subtle ways of turning people opinion against a Government that uses means of terror to rule. At the end of the day, a civilian living in Palestine cares no less for peace than a civilian living in Israel.

Another thing that this conflict brings out is a template for other countries to follow in future. UN clearly seems to be an ineffective organization, sadly, yet again. [after its failure in Darfur and continued failure for improving situation in Zimbabwe]. In near memory, UN has never been able to take any concrete steps for benefit of people; they always seem to be bound by the diplomacy of the Security Council. UN , for all practical purposes, has been reduced to a red-tape organization. As regards US, they have officially endorsed Israel attack. The other day, I was watching an interview of Dick Cheney. He responded that Israel did not seek"US okay" before starting the aggression. 

I wonder why anyone needs to take an okay from US before trying to solve their international disputes. They should be going to UN; but oh well, I just mentioned earlier how efficient UN is in solving such problems, so never mind.  Coming back to response from US, does that mean that US will now endorse any such similar actions by other countries as well. Does it mean that any country can now attack Somalia if their vessels have been attacked by Somalian pirates? How about Pakistan and India situation? Routinely, terrorists from Pakistan (whether they are State sponsored or endorsed is disputed though) cross the border into Indian territory and rage a proxy war there. If India attacks Pakistan, will US or World react similarly as it has done in recent Israel-Palestine conflict.

When will we stop this hyprocrisy? When will our leaders actually start caring about the people who do not want war, but to be able to live peacefully? Why cant diplomacy be in vogue again?

I am definitely not pro-war and I firmly believe that any sort of aggression should be used only as a last resort. 

Chicago Circus

May be Roland Burris really reserves the Senate seat. However, I fail to understand how any self-respecting man would want to be elected to the Senate by an alleged (though very clearly) corrupt Governor. If Burris thought he was the rightful candidate for the job, why he did not wait for allegations against Blagojevich to be cleared or the next Governor to be elected.

CNN quotes "Burris, 71, is a lifelong Illinoisan and one of the state's most accomplished African-American politicians."

However, Burris recent actions seem to point at his desire for the post of Senator more than anything else. And that clearly does not seem to an action of a deserving leader.