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Helping the homeless
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This was taken about halfway up the block on the east side of Broadway, between 79th and 80th Street. It’s at the north end of the "Filene’s Basement" store on the corner, and it’s a place where I’ve often seen homeless people holding up a sign that asks for assistance…

With very rare exceptions, I haven’t photographed these homeless people; it seems to me that they’re in a very defensive situation, and I don’t want to take advantage of their situation. But something unusual was happening here: the two women (who were actually cooperating, and acting in tandem, despite the rather negative demeanor of the woman on the left) were giving several parcels of food to the young homeless man on the right.

I don’t know if the women were bringing food from their own kitchen, or whether they had brought it from a nearby restaurant. But it was obviously a conscious, deliberate activity, and one they had thought about for some time…

What was particularly interesting was that they didn’t dwell, didn’t try to have a conversation with the young man; they gave him the food they had brought, and promptly walked away. As they left, I noticed the young man peering into his bag (the one you see on the ground beside him in this picture) to get a better sense of the delicious meal these two kind women had brought him…

Note: this photo was published in a Jan 6, 2009 blog posting entitled
"Six Lessons from a Wooden Boy: Lesson Three: Don’t be a Social Media Jackass." It was also referenced (and possibly published) in a Jan 27, 2009 Swedish blog entitled "Firmy na celom svete prepustia 76-tisíc ľudí." And it was published in a May 4, 2009 blog titled "More on the .18 million for homeless prevention in Tacoma." It was also published in a May 18, 2009 blog titled "Helping the Homeless: To Do or Not To Do. That is the Question!" It was also published in an April 28, 2009 blog titled "Blog Sobre Mi Tiempo Devocional." I’ve also just discovered that it was published as a "related image" illlustration on a Dec 6, 2008 blog titled…. More recently, it was published in an Aug 27, 2009 blog titled "Ideas for a New Marketing World: Day 36." And it was published in a Sep 2, 2009 blog titled "Eagle Scout Rehabs Homeless ‘Mission House’." It was also published in a Sep 20 2009 blog titled "Dallas Outlaws Crimes of Compassion." And for reasons I don’t understand, the photo was published as an illustration that I found on Sep 30, 2009 in a Boorah blog titled "Kitchen 2 Kitchen, Tacoma (even though it has nothing to do with Tacoma or restaurants)." It was also published in a Nov 22, 2009 blog titled "Keeping Gratitude in Thanksgiving."

Note: since this is the second most-viewed image in my Flickr archives, I decided to make some minor editing improvements on Aug 6, 2009. I used Apple’s Aperture program to eliminate "hot spots" and "cold spots" in the photo, and also adjusted/decreased some of the shadows. Most people probably won’t notice the difference…

Moving into 2010, the photo was published in a Feb 9, 2010 True/Slant blog titled "Should the homeless be arrested or rehabilitated?" And it was published in a Feb 10, 2010 blog titled "Doar à Deus é doar ao próximo." It was also published in a Mar 12, 2010 blog titled " Beck: Beware ‘Social Justice Christians’." And it was published in a Mar 23, 2010 blog titled "“Homeless Count 2010″ now underway in Vancouver." It was also published in a May 26, 2010 French blog titled "Concours des blogs : Votez pour moi ! (ou pour les autres)." And it was also published in a Jun 21, 2010 blog titled "How To Advocate For The Homeless," as well as a Jun 25, 2010 blog titled " Language in the Clinician’s Office." It was also published in a Jun 30, 2010 blog titled "Take a Photo of Someone Doing Good." And it was published in a Jul 28, 2010 blog by "homeless girl" title "Giving Just Food To Panhandlers Is Lazy, Self-centred And Predictable." It was also published in an Aug 30, 2010 blog titled "5 More Homeless Lent Credit Cards To See If They Give Them Back," and an Aug 29, 2010 blog titled "The Emmaus Center Homeless Shelter." It was also published in a Sep 2, 2010 blog titled "Would You Trust a Panhandler with your Credit Card?" and a Sep 15, 2010 blog titled "Helping the homeless requires compassion." And it was published in a Sep 29, 2010 blog titled "Nice Self Improvement Tv photos." And it was published in an Oct 27, 2010 blog titled "When Doing Good Is Bad." It was also published in a Nov 13, 2010 Gobal Debate blog titled "Oxford Round Five Motion," as well as a Nov 21, 2010 blog titled "Lastest 21 Tv Dallas News." I also discovered that it had been published in an Oct 15, 2010 blog titled "Gettin’ all eh??" It was also published in a Dec 21, 2010 blog titled "Q&A: How to convince my parents to get a snake?" And it was published in a Dec 27, 2010 blog titled "Over one million of America’s students are homeless." It was also published in a Dec 30, 2010 blog titled "How Applying Behavior and Motivator Assessments Can Improve Your Life: Part 4."

Moving into 2011, the photo was published in a blog titled "6 Myths That Get Us Stuck (Myth #5 – Self Help)." And for reasons I don’t understand at all, it was published in an Apr 10, 2011 blog titled "Sunday Night Football Odds: Giants vs Eagles." And it was published in a Jun 6, 2011 blog titled "Arrested for Feeding Homeless People." It was also published, in a cropped/sepia-toned form, as an illustration on the Lean On Me Outreach website. It was also published in a Jul 17, 2011 blog titled "Bad Credit? We Can Help!" The photo was also published in a Dec 24, 2011 blog titled "Home for the Holidays to assist homeless people of Boston."

Moving into 2012, the photo was published in a Feb 2, 2012 blog titled "Bronx Interfaith Nonprofit Saved." It was also published in a Mar 13, 2012 blog titled "Bartle, Bogle, Hegarty (BBH) Dehumanizes the Homeless with Their ‘Homeless Hotspots’ Campaign." And it was published in an undated (mid-May 2012) blog titled "HOw To Help Someone With Depression?" It was also published in a May 30, 2012 blog titled "The Secrets of the Healthy Mind." And it was published in a Jul 10, 2012 blog titled "Moved With Compassion." It was also published in a Sep 13, 2012 blog titled Problems With Help?" And it was published in an Oct 30, 2012 blog titled "29 Positive-Thinking Tips from My 29 Years." It was also published in a Dec 3, 2012 blog titled "Who Are Our Neighbors?",as well as a Dec 7, 2012 blog titled "GIVING TO THE POOR? (JOURNAL ENTRY)." And it was published in a Dec 14, 2012 blog titled "One Person Can Change the World." It was also published, as one of several illustrations, in a blog titled "YOLO: 10 Things You Should Do Before the World Ends.."

Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Jan 28, 2013 blog titled "5 Rules for Helping and Being Helped." It was also published in a Mar 7, 2013 blog titled "My Purpose Driven Life: 3/7/13 Thursday – Day 13 – Worship That Pleases God." And it was published in a May 23, 2013 blog titled "Brain Can Learn to be Compassionate, Study Reports." It was also published in a Jun 19, 2013 blog titled "Where to Put Your Savings." And it was published in a Jul 6, 2013 blog titled "Compassion: A Jewish Perspective." It was also published in an Aug 18, 2013 blog titled "‘Direct’ – buying insurance remotely." And it was published in a Sep 5, 2013 blog titled "Generosity Pays Off In The Long Run." It was also published in an Oct 30, 2013 blog titled "Blanket and coat drive helping Montgomery’s homeless," as well as a Nov 15, 2013 blog titled “Bloomberg Says Poverty Numbers On His Watch Better Than Other Cities" and a Nov 27, 2013 blog titled "Los Angeles Considers Ban on Publicly Feeding Homeless People." It was also published in a Dec 4, 2013 blog titled "Ethics & Photography – 22 Pictures of the Homeless."

Moving into 2014, the photo was published in a Jan 29, 2014 blog titled "Altruistic acts more common in states with high well-being." It was also published in a Feb 19, 2014 blog titled The Unlovable." It was also published in a Mar 17, 2014 blog titled "Is It Possible to be Truly Selfless?" It was also published in a Mar 25, 2014 blog titled "Five Myths About Panhandlers." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2014 blog titled "Who is most likely to be compassionate towards a stranger?". And it was published in a May 14, 2014 blog titled "Prompt #1024 The Basis of Compassion." It was also published in a May 26, 2014 blog titled "Aggression rises in Surrey panhandlers." It was also published in an undated (mid-July 2014) Law Street blog titled "The Costs of Criminalizing Homelessness."

Moving into 2015, the photo was published in a March 1, 2015 Dutch blog titled "Zo eenvoudig en goedkoop is het om een einde aan dakloosheid te maken."


This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan — between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

I don’t like to intrude on people’s privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they’re still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what’s right in front of me.

I’ve also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting — literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I’ve learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture … after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it’s pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.

For the most part, I’ve deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don’t want to be photographed, and I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. I’m still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We’ll see how it goes …

The only other thing I’ve noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, far more people who are not so interesting. They’re probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I’ve photographed … but there was just nothing memorable about them.

Airtel Digital TV Review [Updated]
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Airtel announced the launch of its DTH Service, named "Airtel Digital TV" today. I’ve had the privilege of using their service through an employee-only beta since August. Overall, I love it.

The set top box is a piece of beauty in black and red with glowy red controls that lie flush with the box’s surfaces. It would be a perfect complement for your LG Scarlet TV, if you have one.

The universal remote control is a very thoughtful piece of equipment. It can be programmed to learn some of your TV’s critical functions like volume control, muting, etc. and you can switch on/off the TV as well as the set top box with the same remote.

Video quality is definitely not DVD-like. That’s a big hogwash that all DTH providers indulge in. If your TV screen is bigger than 25", expect pixellation and noise reduction artifacts to be visible. Unfortunately, none of the other DTH providers can claim any improvement on this front. They’re all sub-par compared to progressive DVD video. That said, Airtel Digital TV’s video quality is comparable to Tata Sky and definitely better than Dish TV’s.

Audio quality is pretty good and full stereo. I usually hook it up to my hi-fi (Sony DHC-AZ2D, now discontinued) and the quality doesn’t disappoint me.

Airtel’s other USP is the ability to continue working when the skies are overcast. That’s critical for places like Bangalore and Mumbai where it rains too often. I think I’ve seen it not work only once, briefly, when the skies were hopelessly dark.

One more thing I’m really excited about is the inclusion of WorldSpace Satellite Radio in Airtel’s DTH package. I didn’t get to try it with the pre-release but given the really sad state of FM radio in Bangalore, this is a godsend. AFAIK, WorldSpace Radio subscription charges would be additional.

In terms of customer service, expect the kind of service you’ve been getting from Airtel Broadband, which is good. I’ve only had one issue with them wherein ESPN Star Sports’ channels weren’t available due to some "technical fault" for at least two weeks. I’m not at home until end of this month to verify, but I hope they’d have fixed this before launch. Update: It was indeed fixed before launch. Update 2: After going through various issues with Airtel Digital TV, I have to say with regrets that their customer service simply SUCKS! Good luck to you if you manage to get through a call in under 45 minutes without call drops and such. The customer care people are totally lame when it comes to troubleshooting. FWIW, even their website is badly broken. I’ve been trying to register on the website for the last hour but it’s just broken (date of birth dropdown shows no dates, ever!).

All in all, I’m glad that we finally get some class in the DTH provider market. No more Tata Sky-Dish TV duopoly, especially with further launches from Sun and Reliance (who tried to steal Airtel launch’s thunder with a very confusing series of ads).

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