Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dan Brown Series

The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, The Lost Symbol....having run through (yes! literally, as you cannot keep these books down once you have started!) all of these Dan Brown's "history-mystery" thrillers, it feels like there is not even a fine line between fact and fiction. Atleast that's the way Dan Brown lays them down.

While you are digesting the historical facts, you never realize when you walk into the fictitious land. When you are convinced that it is a cleverly crafted fiction designed to be an "edge-of-the-seat" thriller and top the charts of the best selling books, National Geographic and History channel point out the numerous facts in them. Then you go back to digesting the sometimes shocking facts that mankind lives with.

Unfortunately, it turns that there are multiple versions of history. Not one. The best sold is the most accepted.

Wondering if there was a way to put all of history onto a SAP system, so there is a single version of truth!!**!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Swine Flu & American Germophobia

I agree that being wealthy gives you the luxury of worrying over things that otherwise might not be on top of the list. I also agree that cleanliness is not a luxury but a basic essential to a healthy life. But is it not taken way too seriously in the US, to the point of being obsessive about the microbes that could possibly thrive on your kitchen door knob?

A recent case in point is the swine flu mania that gripped the nation or perhaps the whole world. The world was concerned but the US was crazed. The whole media was clamoring about sanitizing every inch of your body every second of the day. They were talking about travelers being a high risk category. Come on!! I fly every week. But I could hardly feel anything was wrong except when I watched the frenzied media.

Talk of bottled water!! It’s consumed in billions of bottles a year even after it’s been scientifically proved that bottled water has no significant edge over tap water when it comes to harmful germs that they may contain.

Aren’t we killing our natural immunity in the process, in addition to being inflicted by a sickness called “germophobia?” While being cautious, I also like to believe in the natural recuperative powers that we may have.

Anyways I should reveal that watching the “germophobic” folks certainly provide a comic relief in these stressed times.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Connecting the ....dots.........

Steve Jobs speaks.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pop-Pop steam boat project

Pop-pop steam boats have always caught my attention as a kid. Not surprisingly I found out that they continue to do so. Mechanics, motion, water dynamics, electricity and magnetism have been my personal favorites. Probably that’s the reason I chose Engineering as my profession. Now I do a tangentially-off stuff for my livelihood is an altogether different topic. Recently a discovery channel documentary on boats suddenly reminded me of my interest in “Pop-pop boats”. And I set out to make one myself.

A simple putt-putt boat needs a steam boiler, a candle and a toy boat to hold them. First I tried making a steam boiler myself using coke cans. All my attempts were futile as I didn’t have enough tools like soldering rods, silicone-caulking compound etc. So I simply bought just the boilers which look like in the picture above. My boat being a slightly bigger one, called for a twin steam boiler to propel it.Also in the pic is an oil burner that I made using a coke can.

The next task was to build a boat. A little googling gave me the idea that an empty milk box would be the best bet, as its waterproof and can easily be cut and folded to shape. Here’s how my pop-pop boat looks after completion of painting and installation of the steam boilers. The super glues you get in Dollar stores are sufficient enough to make the joints in boat water-proof.

Take a look at the video of my pop-pop boat exploring a bath tub…..…..

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The So-Hi sojourn.

A camp trip after a longtime came as welcome break from the daily grind.
Communing with nature once in a while has always infused a sense of revival in me. I seem to find no words to describe how it felt every time. Plus this being the first camping trip with my family made it sort of more special…….

The So-Hi campground, about 2 hours drive from NYC, nestled in the foothills of Catskill mountains is picturesque and remote-enough to make you feel that you are out of the NYC life. But the streams and ponds that the camp-ground website talks about are in reality, gutters and puddles. Nevertheless the place was beautiful and the campsite officials were nice & helpful.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

India: points to ponder....

Time and again I keep coming across these group emails extolling the greatness of India and Indians. Like x-singh did this first 3 centuries ago, y-Rao invented that blah-blah before westeners stopped roaming in nude, z-Chathurvedi dreamt of achieving this first( and sadly is still dreaming!!) etc etc.

No doubt, a handful of great Indian minds, from past till now, have contributed to some huge human achievements. Around a million bright Indian minds are currently fuelling the IT world. Trade reforms in the past decade have put us on a decent growth curve. Are these enough to start thinking that we can become the next super-power ? Sadly not. Read the following CNN article; India the Superpower? Think again . The facts there in are the points to chew and digest. Less to my liking, however, is relentless way western media portrays India, as a country of snake-charmers, superstitions, maharajas and hunger.

After two centuries of being pillaged by the British,we have certainly come a long way. With a billion mouths to feed, the super power status might be atleast half a century away. But it certainly is possible, I feel.

Monday, April 30, 2007

My favs amongst Aristotle quotes

Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

The gods too are fond of a joke.

Evil brings men together.

We are what we repeatedly do.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NYC tour

Though I have been near NYC for over an year and a half, I never got a chance to explore the city, with the exception of a couple of night club visits. A bunch of friends visiting from Louisiana finally catalyzed my much awaited NYC tour. Armed with Newyork passes, which promises free entry at over fifty tourist attractions in NYC, we had chalked out a plan to visit Statue of Liberty, Empire state building and Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Even that turned out to be asking for too much, given the long queues and security check points at each place. But the New York pass certainly did its part by saving us from the long queues for buying the entry passes.

On an unusually sunny day (in December ’06) we started with the ferry ride, from Battery Park on the southern most tip of Manhattan Island, to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island The Clinton Castle, a circular fortress built in 1811 to defend the NY harbor, from where we boarded the ferry, later led me on an interesting read of NYC history in wikipedia. Sky ride, a simulated helicopter ride over Manhattan, at the Empire state building with narration in the backdrop by Kevin Bacon was the highlight. The finale, dinner at "namba ooru" Saravana Bhavan on Lex avenue – 28th street was a fitting reward for famished crowd after a long-tiring day.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Henry Ford on Re-incarnation

It's mere coincidence that a friend and I were talking about "Re-incarnation" and around the same period I was reading about Henry Ford out of sheer curiosity. I found Henry Ford's view on "Re-incarnation" more appealing than what religion has to offer about it!!

Henry Ford: "I adopted the theory of Reincarnation when I was twenty six. Religion offered nothing to the point. Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Work is futile if we cannot utilise the experience we collect in one life in the next. When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan I realised that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. Some are older souls than others, and so they know more. The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease. If you preserve a record of this conversation, write it so that it puts men’s minds at ease. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

DC trip

After browsing over the internet for good, economical and not-too-far (hard to have all of them together) cabin accommodations around NYC, we decided to change the theme of vacation to “sight-seeing city trip”. Boston and Washington DC were the names that sprang up immediately on our minds. A week later we were on the road to DC. Bright and sunny weather laced with mesmerizing music by “Robert Miles” ensured the five-hour drive was pleasant.

One thing markedly different about DC is the dominance of classical European style architecture. Later I learnt that Thomas Jefferson introduced this style to the US. The DC weather, around this time of the year, makes it conducive for tour-by-walk, providing all the time you might need to appreciate the beauty of the numerous beautiful buildings. If you find more beggers on the streets than other US cities, don’t be surprised; it’s the capital of the capitalism. A stroll in the national mall by the day and through George town by night speak volumes about the city and its culture. One thing I would have loved was the “segway” tour of the National mall. DC metro experience is a far cleaner one, if you have been on NYC subways.

The lover of art, culture and history that I am, I would have loved to visit all the museums there. But time forced me onto only the National museum of natural history. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-see unless you are a kid or a taxidermist. The various animals preserved through taxidermy are worth a quick glimpse. If Jurassic park ever caught your attention, then try the dinosaur fossil exhibits.

On the first night of our stay in DC, we tried Ethiopian cuisine at the Zed's in George town area and without a doubt that was the highlight of the trip. The moment we entered the restaurant, the strong onion and garlic smell struck some known chords. I was least prepared for what was to come. The traditional bread of Ethiopia is “Injera,” and it tastes just like… guess what?... Tamilnadu’s dosa or “appam” to be more precise!! And when you have that with the spicy non-vegetarian side dishes, you get a feel of “chettinadu” cuisine. Vegetarians!! Don’t shy away, you have a lot of choice out there too! If you ever get a chance, don’t miss Ethiopian food !!

The second day, we visited Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air and Space Museum near Washington Dulles International Airport. My recently cultivated interest in aviation history drove me to it. I was rewarded with the sight of one of the “Wright Flyers,” a bi-plane flown by Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC, in 1903. Among other spectacular exhibits, it houses space shuttle “Enterprise”, the Enola Gay (the B29 that dropped the first atomic bomb) and an SR-71 Blackbird ( it’s feast to your eyes).

The Cherry blossom splendor around Potomac River Park can really take your breath away. Understandably the cherry blossom trees were a gift of “city of Tokyo” to the “city of DC”. Its looks like the shores of the lake had been white washed and splashed with lavender. It certainly is worth a look.

Overall the DC trip was a big relief away from the Big Apple!! And a special thanks to the sweet couple who accomodated us!
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