crazythinker00's Journal
20 most recent entries

Date:2014-01-04 12:43
Subject:Grateful for my life - feeling both grateful and awful/sad
Security:Public
Mood: indescribable

Having recently returned to CA via plane from a visit out to the East Coast (specifically, New Jersey), I have been thinking about how incredibly lucky I am to have survived and to get to live the life I have, as follows:

Grateful for my life, awful and sad about how harsh life is for others )

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Date:2014-01-03 22:41
Subject:A Tale of Two Squirrels
Security:Public
Mood:geeky

We have been continuing to leave at least a handful of dry, unsalted raw almonds out on the patio, where some of the apartment squirrels come to feast on them. I have also seen them hoard the almonds, occasionally placing up to four almonds in their mouths at a time. The two regular visitors are a black squirrel (which, per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_squirrel, belongs to to the Eastern Gray Squirrel family) and what looks to be an Eastern Gray Squirrel. They both enjoy coming for the almonds, but per my observations, the black squirrel has been coming more regularly than the Eastern Gray Squirrel. Whenever I see one squirrel near the other, I notice that they intensely observe one another. More specifically, the black squirrel chases the Eastern Gray Squirrel; it chases the gray squirrel around trees and on the ground as well. Intrigued, I looked up why squirrels chase one another, and came across this: http://www.livescience.com/32740-why-do-squirrels-chase-each-other-.html. The article confirmed my observation of the black squirrel trying to establish its territory and telling the Eastern Gray Squirrel to go elsewhere. Interestingly enough, though, professor Michael Steele mentions that Eastern Gray Squirrels form dominance hierarchies and as such, chase other squirrels. Considering that the black squirrel is a subfamily of the Eastern Gray Squirrel, I am not entirely sure whether it is chasing the Eastern Gray squirrel to establish its territory, its dominance, both, or something else.

As a side note, I am excited to see that a photo of a black squirrel has been taken from Santa Clara, CA and posted up on wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Black_squirrel_in_Santa_Clara_CA.jpg. It so happens that I have been living in Santa Clara, CA, so I find this to be an interesting coincidence. Unfortunately, I did not take this particular photo, but the squirrel looks very much like the one that has been regularly visiting us for almonds. The photos I have taken are posted here: https://plus.google.com/photos/104753328374798775515/albums/5954797945278816193

Anyway, it will be interesting to continue to observe these squirrels and how they manage to co-exist with one another, chasing and all.

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Date:2013-12-17 22:20
Subject:My experience with driving
Security:Public
Mood: excited

When I was a teenager, I received my drivers' license (before graduating high school). At the same time, I was pretty resistant to the thought of regularly driving a car. This was for several reasons:

* I grew up in an area where public transportation is readily available, and as such, did not appreciate the need or practicality in having a car

* I could bike within 5-10 miles of where I needed to be, for the most part

* I didn't care for the idea of waiting in traffic (or for that matter, getting into an accident)

* I was afraid it would be too costly for me, should the day come for me to actually own one

This mindset did not change in undergrad or grad school days, as I still found the idea of driving to be too daunting and not necessary for my lifestyle at the time. Even so, I got to practice my driving on Highway 17, a 26-mile stretch of winding roads between San Jose and Santa Cruz. I always did this with one of my parents in the passenger seat. This helped to reduce my resistance to the idea of driving cars and be less scared of doing so.

After grad school (which culminated in only a Masters' degree), I moved back home. While I still did not need a car to get around (in fact, I often carpooled with my father to and from work, as we worked very close to one another while I worked at UC Berkeley), I found myself driving every so often. This was because I drove my father to his medical appointments. Also, I once in awhile drove to meet up with friends in another part of the Bay Area. Once I started working with Accenture (in November 2007), I found myself driving much more often than before. I came to appreciate how handy driving became, especially in the interest of time.

Fast forward six years later, and here I am, still a regular driver. I can even say that I have driven a significant portion of two separate road trips: one from California to Utah, and another from Illinois to California.

I am thankful to state that I have maintained a fairly clean driving record. I am not trying to brag; in fact, I have gotten extremely lucky. One time, I unintentionally rear-ended a lady's van at a stop sign, but she was very nice about it and insurance helped with the damage payments. Another time, I was speeding and got caught, but was only given a 'fix-it' ticket (the cop noticed that he had pulled me over on my birthday).

Given that I have been living in the San Jose area for the past four years, I have come to appreciate having a car more than ever. While I have occasionally taken public transportation in this area, I realize that the frequency of service is usually not suited to my schedule. I have had to spend a decent amount for car repairs, and have had my car breakdown at times, but my mindset on driving has shifted significantly from what it was when I first started driving. I have stopped fearing the thought of driving and look forward to more adventures ahead.

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Date:2013-12-14 21:47
Subject:Livermore temple trip
Security:Public
Mood: rejuvenated

Going to Livermore's Shiva Vishnu temple (or any temple, for that matter) is an experience I usually look forward to. It allows me to temporarily get away from the regular hectic nature of life, de-stress, and rejuvenate myself. If I am feeling down or bad about something, a temple trip will help me become more positive.

With this mindset, I looked forward to today's temple trip, and I was not disappointed.

Today is no exception. I went for a Samskritam class, during which we practiced some shlokas - short prayers (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shloka for a far more complete definition of this term). The class will be holding a camp for the students (most of which are children), and I am looking forward to volunteering at this camp. While I have also been attending Samskritam classes (I try to attend in person about once a month), the camp is for the kids to showcase what they have learned and practiced from the classes. I am perfectly fine with being a part of the camp behind the scenes; in fact, I prefer doing that to actually performing on stage.

After the class, I visited the temple itself and prayed to the various deities. Among the various priests I regularly see working here, I saw a priest that my family knows and has a very nice relationship with. He has conducted some important family functions for us over the years, so he also knows and remembers us. I had a chance to pay my respects to him and ask how his family is doing. Afterwards, the lunch served in the community center behind the temple was great. The lunch included rice with cumin and peas, spicy garbanzo beans, a potato curry, yogurt rice, Indian chips, and a sweet. To sum up, the temple trip was great.

I am looking forward to attending this temple once again during the following Saturday, as that is when the Samskritam camp will be held.

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Date:2013-12-12 21:19
Subject:My favorite sweet foods
Security:Public
Mood: thankful

When I was a kid, I loved most sweets - both Indian and Western sweets. I should be clear that when I mention sweets, I am referring to anything that happens to taste sweet (other than fruits). I'm not proud of it, but I can safely say that I wasn't alone in terms of loving sweets as a kid. As I got older, though, my sweet tooth gradually reduced. Now, as I'm starting life as a 30-plus year old (okay, fine, as a 31-year-old), I think of all of the sweet foods I used to eat as a kid. Among these sweets, I have many for which I wonder: "Wow, did I really eat that back then?" Some such sweets are: doughnuts (especially the powdered ones), Honey Nut Cheerios, Froot Loops, Jolly Ranchers, and lollipops. Now, I can't imagine eating any of these - in fact, I am surprised that I haven't lost any of my teeth after all of the abuse I have put them through. While I still have a sweet tooth (and am not proud of it), I am very selective and particular about the kinds of sweets I choose to eat.

Now that I am more discerning (and yes, wary) when it comes to sweets, I can manage to come up with a list of my most favorite sweets without too much work. What are these sweets?

* Indian: laddoos/laddus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laddu), especially the ones made with besan (garbanzo flour). These are small and shaped like balls, and are very easy to bite. I have fond memories of eating laddus during breakfast at my grandmother's house (yes, you read that right, during breakfast)

* Middle-Eastern/European: baklava (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baklava), a multi-layered dough pastry, sweetened with honey and syrup. Yes, this is quite sweet, but not too heavy.

General:
* Non-dairy ice cream, especially the kinds produced by Turtle Mountain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtle_Mountain_(company)). One of my favorite flavors is the Chocolate Velvet...mmm, chocolaty goodness. I like all the ones I have tried so far (at least four or five flavors).

* Chocolate chip cookies (egg-less)

* Dark chocolate (especially the ones with some crunch/chili in them - among my favorites is the Dark Chocolate - Rice Crunch (as shown here: http://www.tastethedream.com/products/category/493.php))

* Ginger candy (no gelatin or eggs)

* Earth Cafe cheesecake
https://earthcafetogo.com/onlinestore/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1

So far, I have tried their 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and 'Who's Your Daddy' cheesecakes, and I find them to be great. If I ever go back to regular cheesecake, I'll probably find it too rich for my liking
Yes, my sweet tooth will be completely satisfied with any or all of the above. Today, I had half of a besan laddu for dessert today, and that was heaven.

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Date:2013-12-09 23:00
Subject:Squirrels in our backyard...or patio
Security:Public
Mood: excited

A black squirrel (which actually belongs to the same family as the Eastern gray squirrel - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_squirrel for details) has been visiting multiples a day, every day, for the past several days. Living in a relatively small apartment of ~720 sq.ft, we don't have our own backyard. However, we have a patio, and this squirrel comes there, multiple times a day, every day. On the weekends, when I'm at home, I look forward to its daily visits. In fact, I have captured some photos of it, shown here:

https://plus.google.com/photos/104753328374798775515/albums/5954797945278816193?authkey=CNPhjry5tdzQcw

So why does it come every day? Is it because it loves us so much and would miss us too much if a day went by without seeing us? Not exactly. It comes because it eagerly waits for its daily handful of fresh, raw, unsalted almonds. Although I am generally not a fan of feeding wildlife without official approval, and am all for letting them eat the foods that they are naturally meant to eat, I am okay with feeding a squirrel a few unsalted almonds. I looked up whether it is okay to feed a squirrel unsalted almonds, and have found positive results on this:
http://thesquirrelboard.com/squirrel_nutrition.htm
"Nuts: acorns, whole roasted pumpkin seeds, and almonds are the healthiest..."

This lady seems to be enjoying feeding the squirrels, and has gotten positive attention for it:
http://thevillager.com/villager_330/maybeitsnuts.html

Here's to more squirrel visits, and some more unsalted almond feedings.

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Date:2012-06-09 02:39
Subject:French Open Final - Djokovic vs. Nadal
Security:Public
Mood: excited

So for those of you that don't know, I'm a huge tennis fan - its been one of my favorite sports (to watch and play) from my childhood days. I have not been watching tennis matches in years, though. (In case you were wondering, the last match I remember watching in its entirety was a ATP Tennis session held in San Jose, CA; James Blake and Andy Roddick were present, among others whose names I cannot remember).

Anyway, I like to keep up with the tennis news time to time, so given that we have reached the French Open Finals, which are being held in Paris. I realized I had a lot to catch up on! Here's one story discussing updates of the finals this time around:
http://www.latimes.com/sports/tennis/la-sp-french-open-20120609,0,1152098.story

Two top-seeded players, No.1 Novac Djokovic and No.2 Rafael Nadal, have reached the French Open Finals. They have won over rather challenging competitors along the way, such as Roger Federer.

This final has historical significance for both Djokovic and Nadal. If Djokovic wins, he will end a 43-year term of no man winning four consecutive championships. If Nadal wins, he will have won seven titles at Roland Garros, a feat yet to be reached by any other man.

To me, it is equally interesting and difficult to predict who will win this championship. After all, both players have rather impressive statistics. Djokovic has won all of his last 27 Grand Slam matches, and has previously beaten Nadal on multiple occasions. At the same time, Nadal is a clay-court specialist (French Open has clay-court surface, so this is important) and apart from Bjorn Borg, he is the only man to have won French Open six times. Also, Nadal has won all but 1 of his 52 career matches at French Open, an extremely promising performance. He has also won 10 Grand Slams. If I absolutely had to pick who would win, I would say that the match would be close, but Nadal's specializing in clay-court may give him the upper hand in the end.

Anyway, looking forward to keeping tabs on this.

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Date:2012-06-04 21:53
Subject:Lenovo trying to become largest PC producer
Security:Public
Mood:geeky

As an owner of a Lenovo PC (I specifically have a Lenovo ThinkPad), this article caught my attention:
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9227734/Lenovo_plans_to_use_ultrabooks_to_surpass_HP?source=rss_keyword_edpicks&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+computerworld%2Fs%2Ffeed%2Fkeyword%2FEditorsPicks+%28Computerworld+Editors%27+Picks%29&google_editors_picks=true

Looks like Lenovo has been competitive with Hewlett-Packard (HP) with regards to PC production, which is not surprising when considering that Lenovo currently ranks ahead of every maker except for HP in terms of PC production.

How does it plan to overtake HP? Its approach is to promote the selling of ultrabooks. An ultrabook (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultrabook) is a high-end sub-notebook, having attractive characteristics such as maintaining high performance and a great battery life while not running much power on the processor. Today, two such ultrabooks have been released - IdeaPad U310 (13.3-in screen) and U410 (14-in screen). In fact, Lenovo has previously released ultrabooks - the first being October 2011, followed by three more in January 2012 and a demo of a hybrid model at CES (Consumer Electronics Show).

Lenovo is also making note of HP's various changes, including a major reorganization, layoffs and other. This is important because HP's focus on remaining the No.1 PC maker could have been offset to deal with the aforementioned changes, so Lenovo is trying to take advantage of this time to try and forge ahead.

Along with the struggles that HP has been facing, Lenovo has been on an upwards path in terms of its PC production. In 2011, its rank went from No.4 to No.2, surpassing Acer and Dell along the way. A compelling statistic, as stated in this article, is that Lenovo's fiscal fourth quarter had a net profit indicating a 59% growth from before (from $42 million/year to $67 million during that quarter).

To sum up, Lenovo's path to becoming the No.1 PC maker in the world looks quite promising. Still, there will be challenges to face along the way. Lenovo is going to have to be smart about where it targets its PCs, so as to capture a larger market share with respect to HP or other PC makers.

I am excited to see where this goes - I bought my Lenovo ThinkPad a couple years ago at a local Best Buy store and am generally happy with it. I honestly did not even think about Lenovo's reputation with regards to other PC producers (though I had a good impression of Lenovo when I had purchased my computer). That said, I'm glad I caught up a bit on the tech news on this, and hope to keep up with it.

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Date:2012-03-20 22:26
Subject:peanut butter and chocolate cups
Security:Public
Mood: determined

If you've read the subject line, you're probably thinking along the lines of 'Reese's' or another popular peanut butter-chocolate candy that you happen to be familiar with. Having grown up in the US, I have been exposed to Reese's peanut butter cups from an early age. For those that are not familiar with this particular candy, please read about it over here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reese's_Peanut_Butter_Cups.

Anyway, in general I'm not a big fan of eating candy, but I do like certain types of candy. I'll admit that I love the peanut butter-chocolate combination, or for that matter, any combination of chocolate and nuts/nut butter. Reese's is definitely no exception here. Recently I have rediscovered my childhood liking for Reese's peanut butter cups. Yes, the traditional milk chocolate cups with peanut butter encased inside - I limit myself to either one regular or two mini eggs a day, and clean up my mouth right after eating. It certainly doesn't help that I have a ridiculous amount of Reese's peanut butter cups left over from Halloween, either! Thankfully, I have the ability to stop eating these dangerous things, as awesome as they taste (to me, anyway).

Okay, fine, so I won't quit chocolate-nut butter cups altogether. I want to challenge myself to make a (hopefully) 'healthier' version of the product, with the following substitutions: xylitol instead of sugar, dark unsweetened chocolate instead of milk chocolate, and unsweetened almond butter instead of regular peanut butter. Yes, I realize that the product I plan to make will probably not do justice to the original taste, look and feel of Reese's peanut butter cups. Yes, I realize that I will not be making something that will win any nutritional awards. Still, I am willing to take on the challenge. I have been inspired by the many recipes I've been reading online about making peanut butter cups w/chocolate. Once I actually carry out this plan and have a successful result, I will post up that recipe (and perhaps a photo or two of the end result).

(As a side note: for those that may wonder why I would bother to replace sugar with xylitol, I've read many sources that mention that xylitol is actually good for our teeth as it stimulates saliva and therefore discourages bacterial growth in our mouths (thereby helping us reduce formation of cavities). More info on xylitol can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xylitol#Dental_care

I've tried xylitol before, and chew xylitol gum. It tastes pretty sweet, actually.)

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Date:2012-03-17 18:05
Subject:Rainy Weather here in the South Bay
Security:Public
Mood: contemplative

Its been raining a lot this week, and the forecast for this weekend includes showers. Sure enough, today was one such day. Hopefully we will still be able to go to my cousin's music performance on Sunday, though! The issue is not so much with us adults going, but rather with my very young niece (15 months) and nephew (3 years and 9 months) going, as we don't want to expose them to the rainy weather if possible. At least the performance will be quite close by, and it will be great to see my cousin after so long. It will also be very inspiring (for me, anyway), as she is a professional Carnatic Music singer (see an earlier post for details about Carnatic Music).

Just to be clear, I usually don't mind the rainy weather. In fact, as crazy as it sounds, I used to attend practices with the X-Country Team in high school, rain or shine. I enjoy seeing the rain from indoors, and I appreciate how the natural rain water washes my car and makes it clean. Its always nice to go out after the rain is over, too, and have the opportunity to witness a rainbow. I must admit that the rainy weather makes me more lazy (not a good thing!), and sometimes it is sort of a pain getting around in the rain (because everyone naturally drives slower). Still, though, given the larger picture, I like having some rain.

From an ecological/environmental perspective, I also appreciate the rainwater for the opportunity to do rainwater harvesting and store rainwater for future use/reuse (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainwater_harvesting for more details). I can even see a potential for performing analysis upon and incorporating rainwater harvesting systems as part of the home automation company I work for (Control4, http://www.control4.com), at least sometime in the future - one such analysis could be something like: if it rains, store water for supplying to the necessary systems in the home (baths, toilets, and even regular drinking water). This may come in particularly handy in case it becomes cheaper to reuse rainwater than to use water coming from other sources. Anyway, not sure if I would ever dare to suggest this approach to anyone in my company, but just a thought I had.

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Date:2012-03-11 23:57
Subject:Carnatic Music performances coming up!
Security:Public
Mood: excited

One of my cousins (a second cousin, actually) has now come into town for giving Carnatic Music concerts. She is a professional Carnatic Music singer, and is also very well-versed in Tamil and Samskritam (two Indian languages). It will be awesome to see her after again after so many years, and also attend her performances and listen to her sing.

For the benefit of those who have not heard about/don't know much about Carnatic Music, it is a form of South Indian Classical Music. I have put together some basic information about it, based on http://www.carnaticindia.com/ and my personal experience (I have been fortunate enough to have learned Carnatic Music from a number of amazing instructors during my childhood).

Some Basic Information about Carnatic Music )

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Date:2012-03-09 22:30
Subject:Good Stuff for Teeth and avoiding cavities (or trying to, anyway)
Security:Public
Mood: excited

I'm happy to say that I have been diligently going to the dentist about every 6 months for the past 5-6 years. In fact, I had my latest appointment today, and am incredibly happy that I have no cavities this time around. (No, I'm not trying to brag. In fact, I must admit I never once visited the dentist while I was in grad school for two years - too lazy to bother, I guess. When I finally went again, I regretted not having gone in awhile, because I had one rather big cavity to fill after going back to the dentist, not to mention other smaller ones).

Anyway, the reason I am so happy this time is: I have hardly had a visit in the past several years without at least one cavity being discovered each time. This has been a bit disheartening to me, to say the least, because I have been working hard, for many years, to take care of my teeth by maintaining good oral hygiene with the following habits:

Personal Oral Hygiene )


I decided to do some research on what contributes to cavities (beyond the obvious reasons of maintaining a healthful diet and regularly cleaning our teeth):
Why we get cavities, and why some people get cavities easier than others )


For those of us who have to work extra hard to maintain healthy teeth (myself included), its probably worth taking advantage of everything that's available for helping our teeth. That said, here is a
list of foods that are good for our teeth )


Apart from knowing what causes cavities and eating the right foods to help keep our teeth healthy, I also find it interesting that our ancestors used chew sticks to keep their teeth healthy. Check out one such study:
http://scienceblog.com/community/older/2000/A/200000237.html

The concept definitely sounds intriguing to me, and simple & practical enough to try when it is simply not easily possible to brush/floss after meals. I just might go online and purchase a pack of these to try out on my teeth - I won't let all my hard work go to waste! I'm at least thankful that my gums have been healthy, at least based on my prior visit to the dentist.

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Date:2012-03-02 20:16
Subject:some current research for diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries
Security:Public
Mood: scared

I've been fascinated by the human brain for as long as I can remember. Therefore, when scanning the news, this article caught my attention:
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57389325-10391704/new-technology-could-change-how-traumatic-brain-injuries-are-diagnosed/

The brain is, without a doubt, an extraordinary part of our body (or for any system/organism, for that matter). Unfortunately, it is not indestructible; it can be severely damaged and therefore drastically affect the lives of those for whom it is damaged (not to mention the family, friends, and well-wishers in the lives of such individuals). This article acknowledges from its start that being able to diagnose such brain injuries, while important, is unfortunately a challenging task.

Some Current Research for Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries )


Although I don't have a background in neurobiology/neuroscience (and hence performed a very rudimentary summary of the aforementioned article), I have enjoyed what I have learned from this article. In fact, reading about this brings me back to the good old days of taking a couple of classes in neuroscience/human memory in the good old days of graduate school. I might even consider going into brain research down the road, if I ever get the courage/drive/willpower to do so. For now, its just something I like to learn about, even though this article made me feel a bit sad and scared for the doctors and patients involved!

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Date:2012-03-01 22:12
Subject:To use or not use a microwave
Security:Public
Mood: hungry

I was chatting with a co-worker today, and he told me that he doesn't use a microwave to heat his food. In fact, his family doesn't have a microwave at home. The idea definitely sounds neat to me - I'm not a huge fan of heating/reheating food in a microwave, though I have been regularly doing so out of habit and convenience. If I can work up the willpower, I would like to use what my co-worker mentioned as inspiration to try and stop heating up my food using a microwave.

As is the case with almost everything, the decision to use/not use a microwave is a personal one. The last thing I want to do is try to convince anyone of either approach; its basically what works best for each individual. I can definitely see pros and cons to both approaches. Here's the list I have (a lot of these are based on lots of personal experience using a microwave):

Pros:
* fast
* convenient
* effective heating of refrigerated/frozen food

Cons:
* microwave may not always be clean when using
* some food is packed with material unsuitable for microwave use (e.g. styrofoam/paper)
* nutrients of food can get lost with microwaving (although sources compiled for the findings at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_oven#Effects_on_food_and_nutrients indicate otherwise), so at best I suppose there are mixed results on this point

Probably other pros and cons, but this is probably a sufficient general list. I'll probably continue to use a microwave, but will definitely do my best to limit my use of it.

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Date:2012-02-29 21:26
Subject:This is a special day
Security:Public
Mood: excited

What is so cool about February 29? Just another day, right? Nope, its a day that only occurs once every 4 years, hence making 2012 a 'leap year'. Apparently, Julius Caesar was behind the making of Feb.29 as part of a leap year. Check out:

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2012/02/feb-29-45-b-c-julius-caesar-takes-the-leap/

I'm too lazy to bother to summarize/analyze this article here. While I can see that this 'extra' day may have helped realign the years, over time, in terms of calendar days, I can't help but wonder if having such a day may cause headaches for those in the programming world (sorry, this is just me coming from a geeky CS background and working in the software industry). I have seen some of my co-workers at it for days and weeks, coming up with an elegant solution for setting time and handling tricky situations such as accounting for DST, and that's just in my own small company. That said, I would not be surprised if accounting for an 'extra day' in a leap year also caused complications for many people working in the software industry.

I guess this turned into somewhat of a rant in the end. Oh well, its still a cool day (to me, anyway).

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Date:2012-02-28 22:51
Subject:Cooking Brinjal/Eggplant
Security:Public
Mood:accomplished

Note: It may be in your best interest to not read this entry in its entirety if you are hungry.

I cooked eggplant (the Chinese kind: see http://www.foodsubs.com/Eggplants.html for details) today, hence the profile picture. I like cooking eggplant because it is fairly easy: I don't bother with peeling, and its easy for me to cut it up fairly quickly. This time, I cut up eight Chinese eggplants into small-medium pieces (about bite-size) and added some turmeric, salt, and ginger powder when cooking. Unfortunately, from past experience, I have come to realize that adding water causes the eggplants to become soggy; of course, its entirely possible that I added too much water (I typically don't follow a set recipe for cooking things like vegetables). Instead, I added quite a bit of canola oil (about 8 tablespoons worth, to allow for easier stirring and cooking). Admittedly, the oil amount was probably too much, but I didn't care in the end, as I enjoyed eating this with some chapattis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapati).

A potentially interesting fact: although the eggplant is described in the above link (http://www.foodsubs.com/Eggplants.html) as a vegetable, it is actually a fruit because it has seeds (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggplant for details). Also, it is native to India, the country where my parents are from. I'm glad I actually enjoy eating this vegetable (er, fruit). In fact, I occasionally crave eggplant kozhambu, which is South Indian spicy soup with eggplant (or kathirikkai in the South Indian language of Tamil). Here's one such recipe to make this:
http://www.cookatease.com/ennai-kathrikai-eggplant-kozhambu. I have never made this, though, for several reasons: (1) I'm too lazy, (2) not enough people in my family will be able to enjoy this with me, because of either not liking eggplant/allergies, and (3) I enjoy the version I occasionally order at a local Indian fast food place. Ah well, I'm always up for making another round of cooked eggplant.

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Date:2012-02-26 21:54
Subject:Gymnastics Stuff
Security:Public
Mood: energetic

Over the past month, I've actually had the chance to attend three separate gymnastics meets, all of which involved Stanford Men's Gymnastics. The main reason I attended was out of interest. Also, I have a friend who used to be on the team, who has encouraged me to attend if I can.

Just as a heads up, this post will not be an in-depth analysis of the meets, as I neither have the gymnastics acumen, nor adequate experience in the field to do justice to what had happened. Rather, I'll just focus on some highlights that made the experiences enjoyable and memorable for me. As always, please read/not read at your own risk.

Stanford Open )


Stanford vs. Cal and Japanese All-Stars )


Stanford Showdown )

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Date:2012-02-25 14:29
Subject:Mayan Civilization and its collapse
Security:Public
Mood: sad

While I'm still on the subject of Mexico, I came across a news article discussing how/why the Mayan Civilization collapsed. As I mentioned in my prior post, I have an interest in the Mexican heritage/culture/history, and as such, this article, located at: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/02/24/collapse-mayan-civilization-traced-to-dry-spells/
caught my attention.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a historian, nor an expert in matters pertaining to Mexico. I'm writing about this solely out of my interest. If you know something to enlighten me on this subject, I would love to learn about it.

Droughts and collapse of the Mayan Civilization )

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Date:2012-02-24 16:37
Subject:India-Mexico Similarities
Security:Public
Mood: nostalgic

Continuing the posts about Mexico (yes, I have a fascination with the country, a fact I admitted to in my prior post):
http://theplanetd.com/india-mexico-similarities/

A very interesting analysis (at least, for me). Of course, this scratches the surface of the similarities, I'm sure, but I enjoyed reading this. I might also add that, for both countries, some regions are not safe to visit (at least, from what I have heard). Also, there are many people from both countries who work extremely hard and don't get paid much for their efforts. I find it sad, as I've seen many such people. In relation to other countries, their GDPs are not too different from one another (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal) for more info on this).

For me, one of the most striking similarities between the Mexican and Indian cultures, is the family-oriented nature of both cultures. Having grown up as part of a South Indian culture, I can say with confidence that my culture focuses a lot on bringing families together during festivals, occasions/celebrations, or in general. Key examples include weddings and religious festivals, many of which I got to attend during my visits to India. Also, as noted in the cited article, "family" can extend to relatives, neighbors, etc. This definition applies not only for festivals/celebrations in Mexico, but India as well.

Anyway, while I don't see myself pursuing a career as a historian with a focus on comparative cultures, I enjoyed learning about and writing about this. If you want to chime in with any other cross-cultural similarities you want to share (between any two cultures, doesn't matter), please do!

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Date:2012-02-23 22:17
Subject:Traveling to Mexico
Security:Public
Mood: curious

I was catching up with a good friend of mine this past weekend, after having last seen one another in undergrad days. It was awesome to catch up after awhile! After getting each other up to date with the important happenings in our respective lives, at some point the discussion turned towards vegetarian food. As this friend is of Mexican heritage (his parents are both from Mexico City), I asked him about traveling to Mexico, and the availability of vegetarian food over there.

Here's what I learned/understood from our discussion:

Traveling to Mexico )


Thanks for reading!

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