Apr 30, 2007

Objection, your honor

I had intended to blog about an incident that occured last December when I was presenting a project update to a community group at the Cape. I did not get around to it but I saw recently that the minutes from the meeting are available on-line. In lieu of my usual rambling blog, here's the script and stage directions, straight from the minutes. I just added an Intro and a couple of thoughts :-)

The IART is the Impact Area Review Team, a group consisting of army, agency and community representatives who review the environmental program at the Mass. Military Reservation. The cast of characters is as follows:
Walsh-Rogalski - USEPA lawyer on the Review Team
Mr. McDonaugh - Army Lawyer not on the Review Team
Mr. Cambareri, Mr. Mullenix and Mr. Lanteri - Concerned Citizen on the Review Team
Mr. Gangopadhyay - Your Humble Narrator
Act I, Scene I

Mr. Walsh-Rogalski stated that one of the conclusions being drawn seems to be that the disposal pits, rather than other areas, tend to be the source of contamination. Mr. Gangopadhyay replied that that’s correct. He also noted, however, that not all of the scattered items found throughout the area were inert – some were MEC items, but didn’t show any signs of leakage and therefore don’t seem to be causing contamination that could affect groundwater.

Mr. Walsh-Rogalski asked again if it’s correct that most of the munitions found in the disposal pit were inert. Mr. Gangopadhyay replied, "A lot of them, yes." Mr. Walsh-Rogalski then asked, "Nonetheless, you found these disposal pits to be a major source of contamination?" Mr. Gangopadhyay started to respond but was twice interrupted by Mr. Walsh-Rogalski asking him to answer the question. Mr. McDonagh, who was in the audience, asked Mr. Walsh-Rogalski to allow Mr. Gangopadhyay to answer.

(All I remember is Walsh-Rogalski screaming "ANSWER THE QUESTION!" over and over, while McDonagh kept shouting "LET HIM ANSWER !!".)

Act I, Scene II
Mr. Walsh-Rogalski noted that his point is that if the majority of the munitions found were in burial pits, and most of them were inert, it seems to make sense that very few of the found munitions would be cracked/leaking. Mr. Gangopadhyay said that that’s true. Mr. Walsh-Rogalski then said that if another thousand munitions that were fired on the range were found, "the proportion of munitions that were cracked or leaking would be much higher than what you’re presenting here, in all likelihood." Mr. Gangopadhyay replied, "Could be, yes."

Mr. Mullennix commented that it seems to him that Mr. Walsh-Rogalski was "leading the witness, and this isn’t a court of law," and he would prefer to see the presentation move along without that happening. Mr. Walsh-Rogalski said that he apologizes if his line of questioning was too aggressive, and added that it’s difficult to make points without asking questions.
(McDonagh kept shouting from the audience "HE's LEADING THE WITNESS". )

Mr. Gangopadhyay then continued with his presentation....

Act 2
... Mr. Cambareri (said he..) thinks that a law-like atmosphere is okay, but finds that "locker room catcalls from the audience" denigrate the formality of the IART...
Mr. McDonagh then closed by saying that as long as those speaking on behalf of the IAGWSP continue to be cross-examined, he will continue to speak up from the audience unless he’s told by "somebody higher up than anybody" at the meeting to stop doing so.
Mr. Cambareri said that he has "some trouble" with Mr. McDonagh’s response to his comments.

Mr. Lantery noted that many individuals at the meeting are paid to be there, but he is a volunteer, who participates in order to be informed. He said that he senses "hostility and aggression underlying the presentations, doesn’t appreciate it, and will stop coming to IART meetings if it continues. Mr. Lantery added that he doesn’t come to IART meeting to "get upset" and he recommended that everyone at the table leave their "animosity and hostilities at the door" if they want volunteer participation to continue.

The last bit struck a sober note in the midst of the chaos that goes by the label of community participation in environmental projcts. Thus, the fun ended for the night.


Let no act of kindness go unsung !

Driving this morning at 80 mph down the highway like I normally do, chatting on the cell phone, I suddenly noticed a car square up with me and maintain it's speed to stay parallel. Looking left, I was treated to the sight of the driver gesticulating and mouthing unintelligible words. "Road Rage" I think - the man looked like the comic-book store owner from the Simpsons, complete with ponytail. I decided that I would take a chance with this maniac since my life has been lately short on adventures, and rolled down the window. He did the same and I heard him shout at me "Pull over, or you will lose the rear tire".

It was true. I pulled in to a nearby rest area. The driver side rear tire was really low, though I did not feel it while driving. A few more miles of 80 mph and ka-boom was likely. I am not sure if there are any safety lights that come on for this stuff. Luckily, despite not having changed a tire in years, it took all of 15 minutes to locate the neatly-tucked away tools and get the mini-spare in place. Thanks to the gentleman's effort to inform me about my impending predicament, I was not stranded by the side of a road with a burst tire, trying to repalce a tire while dodging speeding cars.

Apr 3, 2007

इंडिया's Kerry Packer

Everybody is analyzing the world cup loss these days (stop and smell the fumes from Pakora Korner) -- too much cricket, too little exposure, players are soft and complacent, coach must go, captain must go, selectors must go, but expert commentators must stay on (how else would we know who should go?).

In the midst of all this comes the news of a parallel league in India. A $23M venture, involving two Indian internationals, four overseas players and eight juniors in each side, along with cricket academies equipped with state-of-the-art facilities across the country. Nothing like competition to liven things up, and nothing like investment in infrastructure to elicit and groom the talent that has to be out there. However, I think there remains a concern for burn-out. Part of the failure was that we simply did not have the intense urge to win. How else can one explain our losses, Team India is simply not able to keep up the pressure when it matters. We had Sri Lanka on the defensive at one point when we suddenly became the mouse in the game. Who from the Indian team gave a demonstrion of going all-out, like the catch Muralitharan took to dismiss dada.

It has been said that Indian cricket is going the way of hockey, where we are unable to keep pace as the game revolves more around fitness than skill. I think we should keep in mind that physical fitness helps to keep us on our toes but for truly inspirational play, mental fitness is also vital. Burn-out is detrimental to this cause. Perhaps the BCCI should look for some balance between cricket and R&R when it sorts things out with the proposed Indian Cricket League.

Apr 2, 2007

A man for all seasons but with a penchant for spring !

"Suzie P – I ♥ you so bad it hurts" – read the vivid red scrawl. I noticed it mainly because it was a change from the usual "Welcome back, Sgt. Harris" graffiti that has been hogging the overpass-billboard spaces lately. This can only mean that spring is here, the time when a young man's fancy turns to the Suzie P's of the world. The equinox has come and gone, and speckled mounds of black and white snow still sit along the edges of parking lots. I am glad I looked up at the overpass.

My friend Banafsheh has also clued in to the arrival of spring and has her ear to the ground. In her hand she held a camera. Click on the link to see what she sees.