Archive for March, 2011

First Name, Last Name, Surname, Middle Name, Other Name, Given Name and Nick Name – It Is Complicated

This is the part two of my earlier post “First Name, Last Name, Surname, Middle Name, Other Name, Given Name and Nick Name”. I am going to go through another scenario. Some of my friends picked their name as the first name and their father’s name as the last name. Let’s say one (man) of them is going to Sri Lanka to get married to a woman over there as I did a few years ago (My marriage ended in divorce in a couple of years-that is a different story). In the marriage certificate, the bride’s married name will be her husband’s (single) name. So when that woman applies for a passport, her first name is her single name and the last name is her husband’s  single name (I assume that she prefers to choose her husband’s name instead of her maiden name).

A few years passed. This family has a daughter now. The complication begins here. The father and the daughter will have the same last name which is my friend’s last name that is actually the little daughter’s grandfather’s single name. The mother will have a different last name which is actually my friend’s single name. One of my cousins, who lives in Canada, faces the same issue. She has a son. Whenever she travels to Sri Lanka with her son, she encounters questions by the airline officials. It is because the son and the mother have different last names. We cannot blame the system since a lot of child abductions are happening in the world. Also, there are occasions where the mother takes the child to her home country without knowledge of the father and vice versa in divorce situations. So when something alerts the officials, they do all sort of checks to make sure that there are no wrong doings. My cousin always takes proofs of father mother-son relationship and a letter from her husband saying that he aware the travel.

First Name, Last Name, Surname, Middle Name, Other Name, Given Name, and Nick Name

Most people know me as Yathi Yatheepan. They think my first name is Yathi and the last name is Yatheepan. In the official records, my name is Vivekananthan Yatheepan. Then you may wonder “where does this Yathi come from?” It is a shorten form of my Last name Yatheepan. Sounds strange!!! Yathi is my “Nick Name”. Then why don’t I use Vivekananthan as my first name or a shorten form of that as a Nick name? I am going to answer all these questions to my best to clarify this confusion.

I grew up in Sri Lanka. My race is Tamil. In the Tamil community, there are no first names and last names. We just have a single name. My single name is Yatheepan. My birth certificate shows just that single name. In my home town, people call me “Yathi”. When I applied for a passport, I needed a first name and a last name. I believe that the passport naming convention is based on some international standards. So I picked my father’s name as my first name. Actually, Vivekananthan is my father’s single name. It has no association with me other than it is my father’s name. It is no wonder why I don’t go by the long name Vivekananthan.

Let us look at this situation. I have two brothers. One day an average Joe meet my brothers and me and asked our names. After hearing our names, Joe might collapse right away. We three have the same first name and different last names.

The other race who lives in Sri Lanka is Sinhalese. In the Sinhalese community, each person gets several first names and a last name. Last name is referred as Surname or Family Name and the first names are referred as Given Names over there.

Some Studies on Public and Private Sector Employment Compensations

In the past month, Libyan revolution and the Wisconsin protests hijacked almost all the TV and radio news slots. I am not going to write about Libya, but the Wisconsin protests weren’t lucky enough to escape from me. Many media portrayed that all the public employees of Wisconsin protested against the government. It is not true.  Some public employees who are also union members protested against the government to keep their bargaining rights. All the federal employees, military, state employees of 22 states including Nevada are not part of any unions that have collective bargaining power. I am not a big fan of unions in the public sector. I will write about it at a later time. But in the Wisconsin case, the union members agreed all financial cuts as requested by the state. The protests were not primarily related to the employee compensation at this time. And we know now that the State finally ripped off the unions with the collective bargaining power.

Let me come to the point. I did some research on the pay and benefit of public sector employees. A University of Wisconsin Study concludes that if the goal is to compensate public and private workforces in a comparable manner, then the data do not call for reductions in average state and local wages and benefits. A report on Reno Gazette Journal says that the state employees are paid 4% less than their private sector counter parts. In exchange they get more job security and merit increases. A 2006 survey in California  reveals that in some classifications, government sector employees compensated more than the similar private sector while other sectors are not. New York Times published a blog that compares the federal employees and private sector. This is not a comparison of compensation of similar jobs. It is just a comparison of percentages of employees fall within a salary bracket. A reason foundation report discusses the difficulties in comparing the salaries of government and private sector. We all know that Reason foundation is a libertarian think tank who ideally wants to get rid of any government.

Blood Type and Diet

I have never heard that certain foods are beneficial to certain blood types until my friend Dale introduced me the work of Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo and his website a couple of month ago. Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo first wrote about this concept in 1997. Later on he wrote several books based on his work. All of books are about diets, exercise and healthy living and he try to correlate them with A, B, AB, O blood types. For each blood type, Dr. D’Adamo categorizes three diet groups; highly beneficial, neutral, and avoid. Dr. D’Adamo does not claim that blood type diet is directly helpful to lose weight, but he claims it will lead to a healthy living. The healthy life style will make us lose weight. We can see more details at his website. On the other hand, many nutritionists and critics cite that there is no scientific evidence behind Dr. D’Adamo’s claim.

Dr. D’Adamo puts a great deal of efforts on the social media to promote his research and publications. He is on the Facebook. He is on the twitter. His website is full of educational resources. The blog is current and updated pretty often. He runs a discussion forum. If we search the words like “blood type diet”, “eat right for your blood type” or similar words that relates to Dr. D’Adamo’s work, his website pops up within the first few search records on the Google. He got an iPhone app too.

When I first read about this concept I could not believe it. My blood type is A. Dr. D’Adamo recommends that blood type A should follow a vegetarian diet. What a surprise. I became vegetarian when I was 10 years old while all my family ate everything. Most of the people who grew up in Sri Lanka cook food with a lot of chili powder so that the food will be very spicy. From the childhood, I prefer to eat non-spicy food. Coffee is a must drink for me in the mornings and it is beneficial to me. Unfortunately it is bad for Dale’s blood type. Poor fella does not drink coffee these days. Type As should avoid distilled liquor and beer (which I am not going to listen), but red wine is great.

I found out that if I want to follow Dr. DAdamo’s blood type diet, I don’t need to make any radical changes in my food habit as I am already going along with his recommendation for most part. I bought the “Blood type A Food, Beverage and Supplementary List” book and I am planning to follow as much as possible at least for a while.

Governor Brian Sandoval Visited Nevada DOT

The Governor of Nevada Brian Sandoval visited Nevada Department of Transportation headquarters last week and had a meeting with the employees. The employees were given plenty of opportunities to ask questions and the Governor did not hesitate to answer any of them. I don’t know whether this is a routine that all the new governors visit the state agencies. I am not a long time employee of the state. Whatever the case, I really appreciate him for this opportunity. Also I learned a good deal of leadership attributes from him.

There were no cameras, staff, security, or any other people accompanied with the Governor. That made the meeting environment very friendly. Only the NDOT photographer was there to take pictures. The attached pictures are her captions. For me, it is a great experience. I spend my first twenty five years of my life in a politically corrupted war toned country where going that close to an elected official like a Governor is almost impossible for an ordinary person like me.

Our colleagues started asking questions. Before answering each question he thanked the employee for asking that question. All his answers were straight forward and didn’t need any subsequent questions to clarify his answers. There were no vague responses. He accepted that within the public sector employees, there is an inequity. He mentioned that Clark county school district employees did not go through any pay freeze or furloughs in the past two years while everyone else sacrificed some or the other way. He also mentioned that the university system will get a cut in education funding due to budgetary constraints, but it is not severe as it appeared on the media. University system compares the current funding with the last biennial funding which included onetime stimulus money. One employee asked whether he will veto it if the legislature wants to continue furloughs instead of a 5% pay cut. He said that he will veto it.

There were several discussions topics. Unfortunately nothing was positive towards the public sector employees. Still, I appreciate him for his time and efforts to face his fellow executive branch people.

Carpool and Vanpool Resources

Have you ever thought about carpooling and gave up the idea just because you couldn’t find anyone to partner with you. If so, that wouldn’t be the case any more. If you are working in an office where hundreds of people are employed, I am pretty sure there are at least a few who live very close to your home. Many organizations’ intranet has discussion boards on carpooling. We have a carpool/rideshare information exchange forum at the Nevada DOT. I can post my details like work schedule and location of my residence that can be seen all other 1700 employees. Interested people can contact me. I found Rick, my current carpool buddy through this forum.

If you are working for a small organization, it may be difficult to find a suitable carpool partner within your workplace. There are resources available to help you in finding partners for carpool or vanpool. The Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission’s smart trip program will help you to find a match. This website can be used to find walk buddy or bike buddy too.

Vanpool is another option. In this case a group of people lease a van and travel from one point to their workplaces. So people drive to a parking lot then assemble in a van. The group members can switch driving within themselves.

Still not convinced!!! A significant part of the cost of vanpool will be covered by a Federal Government program. This is a reward to you for helping the community. In case you are sick and you want to come home early, you can take a taxi to get back to home. The taxi fare will be reimbursed and you can take advantage of this reimbursement four times a year. To get this benefit, we have to register in the RTC smart trip program.

Public and Private Sector Employment

Are the public employees overpaid? The Employer Costs for Employee Compensation news release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the state and local government employees make more than the private and civilian compensation. Private sector wages vary from minimum wage to several millions of dollars. The minimum public employee wage is usually higher than the federally required minimum wage for almost all job classifications. On the higher side almost all government employees get paid less than $300,000. There may be some exceptions like city and county managers, police and fire chiefs of big cities, and reputed professors at some universities to this range. Does a global average comparison of private and government employee compensation make any sense? Not to me.

The other issue is that the public sector employees mostly work in a different trade compare to private sector. Manufacturing and sales make up a huge part of private sector while it is rare in government sector. Management, professional, and administrative support occupations (including teachers) account for two-thirds of the state and local government workforce, compared with two-fifth of private industry.

Above all, all these comparisons of public and private sector compensations come up only during negative economic times. It is generally true that public sector jobs are more secured compare to private sector. During bad economic times, government sector jobs look luxury. But when things are great the private sector employees get a compensation that is not comparable to public sector. I know many young civil engineers were hired in 2004-2005 time period by land development and design companies at a salary that is about 30 – 50% more than the state green engineer compensation.

It is a myth that the public employees are overpaid. It is perpetuated by most of the right-wing activists especially the talk show hosts and the libertarian ideologists.