Monday, June 05, 2017

Update: Blog moved to Wordpress

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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Redefining Leisure

There have been innumerous times when I’ve recollected these lines by W.H.Davies, I admit, usually with a sigh.

What is this life if, full of care,  
We have no time to stand and stare. 
No time to stand beneath the boughs  
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

While I love the entire poem, Leisure, these words have stuck with me over the years.

It was a crisp Spring Sunday, I finally had managed to sell my plans for our backyard to my husband. The detailed plan involved planting three trees, an avocado and a lemon on the ground, kumquats in a container (yes, that’s a tree), a vine over the fence, a couple of flowering hedges along the driveway and a few more miscellaneous plants. Oh what an effort it took. But that deserves a blog post on its own.

We head out to the nearest Home Depot, going around and making a mental note of what’s available and where, before pushing a trolley all around the place. We run into a colleague of mine who was there with his family, shopping for some vegetable plants. We chat for a bit, and I shared my experience of growing tomatoes from seed last year (which the dear husband was nice enough to point out turned out ‘pretty sour’). We talk a little longer about my newfound love for perennials & his struggle with gofers before saying good-bye.

We roamed around for 30 more minutes or so, and were able to pick most of what we wanted, a flowering hedge plant – Indian hawthorne, a jasmine vine and a self-pollinating dwarf avocado tree (Based on my calculations, we’d have to swap the living area & backyard if we were to buy a regular sized avocado tree). All except for an elusive pink-red hibiscus, the store only had red. Thankfully, I had taken a flower from one of our existing plants to match the shade, and well, it didn’t.

We checked out, loaded the plants carefully into our sedan, had a late lunch outside, aerated the plants by opening the trunk for a minute, and drove back home. It was just the routine after that, some chores, and meal prep for the upcoming week.

It’s been a few days since, and I fondly remember how we spent that day. It wasn’t as exciting as a trip to the Grand Canyon or Vegas, which are both great, obviously. Neither was it like binge watching Madam Secretary on Netflix Friday night, which I admit is hard not to indulge in. But this was a different kind of leisure, an old fashioned one, if I may use the term. It was a lazy stroll on a pleasant Sunday, meeting people on the way and heading back home.  

I couldn’t possibly do nothing and simply stare as our cattle friends (nope, Netflix doesn’t count), but I’d happily settle for going out and spending time without checking the watch whether we are late for the next thing on the seemingly bottomless to-do list. This is modern day leisure, W.H.Davies and I dig it. 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Is pen mightier than the keyboard?

I may be in the minority on this one but I'm definitely not alone. I'm talking about the writer's block that hits me with 110mph when I stare into a blank computer screen - thoughts flow much better if it's a piece of paper instead. The worst part is the decline in motivation to write even when I get time!

I've tried to brush it off with a number of reasons like 'I'm not in the zone today', 'I'm just tired today'. Soon it became more apparent that I'm missing something. 

Could it be because I look down at a paper but stare across a laptop? No, can't be. Whiteboards work fine even though I stare across them as well. 

There are generally lot more going on in a computer screen even if I'm on the full screen mode, or have other applications closed. The mind subconsciously thinks what else I could be doing with . This makes sense - there have been times when I've lost the will to write and started paying bills or watching Stephen Colbert or even window shopped! (pun intended of course)

The monitor is far across from the eyes than a piece of paper or whiteboard typically is.  Leaving all jokes about weakening eye sight aside (who am I kidding anyway), I've always preferred working with a laptop than a bigger external monitor. I never cease to puzzle Atma when I'd rather work on the couch with the laptop on my lap, where it was originally intended to be by its creator, than use the nice big work monitor he set up for us. Ok, so this is a valid scenario. 

Also contributing along the same lines is the size of the font. I cannot see more than a couple of paragraphs, or the equivalent space, in paper as opposed to a couple of pages in a monitor. The small subset perhaps helps me focus better. 

Making changes to content in a paper is breeze, I can scratch off, add a word and what not. This is purely the old-fashioned me who prefers drawing arrows to say where a sentence should go or drawing a star where further thought is needed. There could be software in the future that fill this void for me, but it's surprising how computers have managed to stay as, just computers - machines until now (RIP Steve - only if you were around longer)

Finally the only scientific reason I have is - speed. If you are like most people, you type faster than you write. When humans upgraded from pen to a keyboard, there was no such upgrade for the brain (as far as I know anyway). The brain creates and processes thoughts in the same speed as before, but now suddenly it can't keep up with the dexterity of your hand on the keyboard. This idea is an interpretation of a study discussed in one of the recent freaknomics podcasts. (I'm not going to give in to the distraction of searching and linking the podcast now just because it's a tab away.) A group of students were asked to take notes with pen and paper and another group with computer. They were all then tested on the subject. Students who used pen and paper were able to recall significally higher than the other group. This is because our brains process information as we write. So we learn as we take notes. Little or no such thing happens when we type. Now with that proof that I'm not outright crazy, I rest my case. 

Yes, and with this inconspicuous post, I have broken 8-year long silence on this blog. It had to start somewhere. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Indian Space Program – The Way to Go

A couple of weeks ago, to be precise on the 22nd of October, I was sitting at the café of my office, munching my lunch. There was an animated team at the table behind me, and they were discussing about the significant happening of that day – the launch of Chandrayaan-1 by the Indian Space Research Organization. A gentleman was asserting that such satellite missions are a waste of a common tax payer’s money and development ought to be focused on other essential areas. This set me thinking and my speech today has what the Indian Space Program has to offer.

Let us start with a brief history.

Indian Space Research Organization was founded a year after Intel (the place where I work now), that is in 1969, in a small church in Thumba in Kerala. If we think that’s where Indian Space Program began, we are wrong. Our feats in the field date back to 1802 when Tipu Sultan in Mysore war used defense rockets made of iron cases filled with black powder as propellant fuel. That rocket could go up to 2 miles. But this in fact motivated the British to develop a similar and more successful design called Congreve rocket. Well that was the innovation and risk taking story of Tipu.

Coming back to modern Space program in India, the first satellite Aryabhata was launched in 75. I’m not going to talk about the list of satellites or other statistics. Let’s rather turn our attention to what these satellites are trying to acheive. There are 2 categories of satellites. 1. Communication and 2. Remote Sensing

Comm. Satellites as most of us know have a quiet yet profound effect on our daily lives. From good old Doordhashan to the latest Navigator series, comm. Satellites have left their mark in our lives.

But what are these Remote Sensing satellites? Okay what is remote sensing? The simplest form of Remote Sensing could be you or I reading a book or taking a snap with a camera. I believe many of us here have sent their entries to the photography contest. In the same way, Remote Sensing is used to model and understand the dynamics of geo-activities like no other land based study has ever done. The power of synoptic coverage gives a totalitarian objective and helps draw a holistic picture.

All fine, but where do I see the applications of these satellites?

  1. Agriculture – the long, strong back bone of our country. As we all know plants have chlorophyll and this chlorophyll has a specific reflectance which is picked by the remote sensing sensors aboard. This prediction is used to find the total production of a crop in the state, where we meet the demand etc. The crops having specific diseases are also being identified.
  1. The direction and spread of forest fires and deforestation have been detected and checked using Remote Sensing satellites especially in Nagaland and other north-east districts.
  2. Oceanology - Not just in land, the chlorophyll in ocean along with the temperatures is used to advice the fishermen about the exact location of fish population. The boats have GPS and their job is highly simplified. This has been implemented in many districts along the east coast.
  3. Disaster prediction and mitigation - How else did US know when and where Katrina and Rita were going to strike and how many were to be relocated!!
  1. And finally Mineral and rock mapping as is the case in Chandrayaan. How is it going to help the common man? As some of us might know, this latest ISRO baby is checking how useful the minerals and Helium found on moon would be. Helium is found in abundance and even if we are able to tap 2 tons from the moon, it could be sued to generate power supply to the entire country for a year.

So what do we conclude and what do we tell the critics?

In any structure, there should be a sustainable development; we can’t hinder progress for the sake of some other progress. In case of remote sensing satellites like Chandrayaan, the chain to reach the end mile or grass roots is highly scientific, lengthy and indirect in a way.  

I believe, like all other systems in our country, the benefits space has to offer us will reach the common man but with a delay. 

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The awesome twosome

The two of them were a part of my family until a few years ago. They both were German Shepherds. One was Jackie, the tan and black father, with a majestic walk and a sharp look that most humans and dogs would give more than just a second thought before interfering with him. The other was Tony, the ebullient gray furred son, full of life and a darling to every one who had managed to come near him irrespective of his inherited outer shell. It was difficult for anyone to believe that the two were related because they never got along well. They probably would have been, had the mother lived with them.

When Jackie was a year old, his owners left the town and news spread in the locality that the dog was for sale. So it was destined that he spent the rest of his life with us. I was at a boarding school then and Jackie had been in my house for a year before I returned. So when I came back, I was a stranger to him. It took me another year to be at ease with him. He was closest to dad; German Shepherds are known to be a little possessive but till the end, whenever dad was at home, he would never let anyone come near him or dad. Other times, he was a very good friend to mom and me. He was a real person(You got to believe me, he really was!), a mature one in that; sometimes when I used to be sad, he would recognize that and look at me with consoling eyes which had made me feel I was much smaller than he was. Other times, whenever a guest came home, he was at his best, barking his throat out (he was tied during day. So all he could do was to bark) to protect his family from potential invaders.

So when Tony arrived at our house 4 years later as a 10-day old infant, it was a matter of not just Jackie’s loss of privacy but also a possessiveness that his place in our hearts was going to be shared. The fact that this toddler was just as smart as he was (He hadn’t made out his bloodline obviously) only more charming and innocent, gave him a revulsion whenever he saw Tony. We had imagined that the two would be good friends (after all, we thought, dogs of the same genes would flock together) if not any extended sentiments. Now everything had to be done twice and separate for the two, accommodation, feeding, bathing, taking them for a walk (morning and eveningL) etc.

Tony indeed drew our attention most of the time and required our attention other times. For the first two nights after arriving at our home, he never slept. Neither did he let us to. He was weeping, obviously searching for his mother’s warmth. I kept him in a bed sheet in a corner of my bedroom tending to him. Moreover that would keep him away from Jackie, who we feared, if left free would devour Tony.

Tony grew into a pampered pup, doing everything and anything he wanted around the house. He used to sneak into Jackie’s room prudently, and then walk in with style as if on a ramp, wagging his tail exuberantly at him. When the latter saw him and barked, he would tantalize him by going nearer (of course ensuring he was in the safe zone out of Jackie’s reach) apparently grinning, turn back, and rush out; the same would continue after some time. His father would be frenzied but finally he gave up and reminded quiet. After all he was a dog with dignity. But Tony’s feats did not end there. He spent his time chasing his tail going round and round about himself upsetting things that were on his way. I had to buy a second set of higher secondary books that year because they had been nibbled by my beloved pup. The same was the case with my footwear. There have been days when I used to wake up in terror only to realize that it was my canine kid that had woken me by licking my face putting his forelimbs on the bed (he was too small to climb) My mom then started to use this as a strategy to wake me by placing him right on my bed. Whenever I call him as I enter the house, he used to come dashing and unable to stop, he would fall, get up with the same speed and put his forelimbs around to welcome me.

Tony lacked the aggression which Jackie had and that made the two complementary. One thing that bound me to them was that they always let their eyes do the talking. They would listen to me and respond too. I used to talk to them, play with them or just stroke their fur starring else where lost in my thoughts, while the two would just lie by my side (of course one at a time!) starring at the same direction as me. They left this world in successive years in 2002 and 2003. I remember them often especially whenever I hear a movie song which translates into something like “When we understand nature and let the hearts speak, there is no need for any language created by man”. For those folks to whom the previous line doesn’t make any sense, you really got to own a dog. It was a very special friendship to me. In fact it still is.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reflecting the inner me..

Finally I decided not to wait for another accident to fill my blog space.. I was thinking on wat to write. Not because there s nothing to write, but because there are a lot of things going on in my mind these days that i cant streamline. Vairamuthu has said he writes on the command of his emotions (உணர்ச்சி௧ளின் உத்தரவால்). Writing and poetry are a means to capture and save transitory (though not always) emotions. let me give a try wat dominates my thoughts these days,.. okay wat do i think right now (9 pm, 21st dec) .. hmmm.. 3 things rise immediately to the surface of my cerebrum.

One (not the first), my final year project. I wish i had acquired more technical knowledge these years at college. Two, my career which is right now a little uncertain. This is one area where i was (am) quite confused. Or is it just that i m thinking too much unnecessarily? I honestly dont know.. As one of my friends adviced, my options are now open and wat else.. lets wait and see. Last (definitely not the least), college days are going to end in a couple of months. This has been bugging me for sometime now. From 4 years to 4 months today. Soon it would become 4 weeks, then 4 days.. Though i ll be here at college for an additional year, most of my friends would be leaving, searching for horizons across the metros of the country (and abroad too). The worth of something is best realised when about to part. I wish i had a time machine to take me back to 17th july,2003. I'm already missing my friends now, while still being with them.. love ya all!!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ils appellent ça un accident (they call it an accident)

Scene 1
Venue: college parking lot
Scooty starting….

(g2 driving with g1 behind)
g1: ouch!! wats this thing tats hitting my leg..
g2: it s the helmet dear
g1: why don’t u wear this hardware to protect your software (giggling)
g2: heheee..
g1: v go….

Scene 2
Venue: adyar signal
g1 proudly and little hesitantly take the driver’s seat…
after a few seconds..
g2: y don’t u drive??
g1: I’m wait ing for the traffic to clear a bit..
g2: (encouragingly) hey go ahead…
g1: hmmm…bit of starting trouble actually…

Scene 3
Venue: beasant nagar murugan idli shop corner
Scooty instead of turning, goes straight… g1 caught up with panic ..slightly turned the vehicle with appln of brakes…
g2: turn turn…
Bike skids around the corner…both g1 and g2 fell off the bike
g1 : are you okay?
g2: (getting up) yeah I think so..
g1 (catching up wit a tinge of guilt) I’m sorry
g2: oh never mind..
they both cross to the safer side of the road.
g1: hey I think I’m feeling giddy.. my vision is blurring
g2: don’t worry.. sit on the bike
g1: (trying to reach the bike) hey I cant see anything…where is the bike??
Crowd gathers…
Man : make her sit….
g2 to g1 : yeah come with me…
A girl gets some water for g1
g1 to g2: now I’m able to c.. I think I’m okay..
g2: Shall v go to the hospital?
g1: no.. v ll go…

Then g2 drives and they soon catch up with their frnds at the beach and have a nice time, g1 with bloody bruises right at her palms, elbow, knee and a shoulder (which g1 realizes later to be perfect places to make half of your body immovable when hurt) and g2 with a swelling in her beau lips (oh.. she shud have worn that hardware) and similar bruises..g1 is very thankful tat g2’s intensity of injuries were somewat less.. The bike requires 2 days treatment.

Yet another episode for g1’s recklessness. she resolves not not to drive again but to drive thereafter with caution.

Moral of the story: Be careful while driving.. heheee

Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

casual person with deep passion about things/people i like....

I was Hermione Granger at the Harry Potter character quiz @
My Birthdate: October 6
  • You tend to be a the rock in relationships - people depend on you.
  • Thoughtful and caring, you often put others needs first.
  • You aren't content to help those you know... you want to give to the world.
  • An idealist, you strive for positive change and dream about how much better things could be.
  • Your strength: Your intuition
  • Your weakness: You put yourself last
  • Your power color: Rose
  • Your power symbol: Cloud
  • Your power month: June
What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

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