So, how do you celebrate a cold Christmas when you're all alone for the winter break and your flatmates are gone to sunny California?
<scroll for answer>
Eat a lot of pie and watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
|This french pecan silk pie was killer. Had a ton of whipped cream on it. Also, as you may already know that I live in the land of obesity. That reminds me I gotta do some ab crunches next morning.|
My education has rendered me no choice but to seek out and characterize everything. To put labels to things, to set patterns and logic behind every existing phenomena, and to find rationale behind every happening. No matter how far my science may be from the truth, it's hard for me to not to give out personal and biased judgments.
There, there you have your disclaimer.
I've often tried to explain to myself and my friends the definition of a genius and what separates him/her from an average person like me or anyone who is modestly willing to accept himself/herself as average. Thus I'm attempting to make some theoretical claims based on the graph above. The graph belongs to spectra collected from a Raman spectrometer, which I just got from google.
Now imagine the X axis is a span of all possible fields of art/science and Y axis be the magnitude of input in arbitrary units (a.u./intensity). While an average person would try and fool around different fields in life being able to put only limited effort in each due to constraints of a lifetime, his spectrum would be like a noisy spectra. Just pure noise, wobbling, shaking line along the X axis (see 700-800 cm-1).
But a genius would spend a life which would result in a spectra with sharp peaks at 1-2 points, spending his/her 40 years of life in a single, very specific field and making the most out of it (eg 950 cm-1 and other selected peaks). That's what separates an average person from a genius. An average person, at least me, is often afraid to put too much energy into one thing, so I'll try to do 2 things at a time, and then 3 and then 4 things, ending up as well-rounded human being who is perfect at nothing. But mark that I'm not saying, that a person by birth is a genius or average, it's simply a matter of motivation at a given point of time. If someone gets highly motivated in one specific area at some point, he/she may do well in that field, but then the question is will she/he stay motivated long enough? You could argue that geniuses stay motivated all the time, working on a problem unflinchingly, long enough till they solve it. I leave that open for interpretation.
If you want to make something out of your life, reduce the noise, and get some peaks. Focus.
Trivia#1: By the way, I know a bit about crystallography and I can tell you that in the results of most spectroscopic techniques and X-ray/neutron diffraction methods, sharp peaks denote crystalline material and wide humps denote amorphous material. Noise is simply subtracted or removed from the figures for convenience of knowledge dissemination. And most researchers try to study crystals because they are so precious and so rare. (oh and of course some people study amorphous materials like Glass too, well good for them, not so thrilling as crystals)
Trivia#2: There's a reason why all women like gems and diamonds. Now you know why. (because they are crystalline and give sharp peaks in their spectral features, just like geniuses!)
10:38 PM | | 5 Comments
As I hurried down the corridor, Tom, an undergraduate student from the class in which I serve as the teaching assistant, smiled at my gloved hands.
8:05 PM | | 2 Comments
People often ask me why I don't travel as much as an average Indian does on his/her stay in the US or any developed country for that matter. People characterize me as too lazy or too nerdy or too stingy to travel and spend money on the pleasure of travelling. Yes, those are some of the reasons I don't travel but then, there's more to it.
|Excuse me for my fine art.|
I read a book and I travel to the world that may be more beautiful than anyplace in the real world. I read a research paper and I travel to a world that can't be perceived by common sense. In this way, I travel all the time. And did I forget to mention, if you want to classify travel, you can either travel in space or time, or both. Most human beings will do very less time travel (they will live in the present, and enjoy live action all the time, seldom pondering about the past or the future) and their space travel will also be limited to a couple of orders of magnitude in length/distance (when they travel around the world, its some thousands of miles, and when they make love, they move a few inches).
But if you do the kind of travel I do, you can travel to any time period (access historic/science fiction art) or do space travel (study astrophysics for travelling to higher orders of magnitude in distance or pursue quantum mechanics for travelling to much lower orders of magnitude)
We must remember that all of us as living beings, can only experience limited amount of things due to the constraints of mortality. But its entirely up to us, in which direction and to which depth, do we want to travel.
7:52 PM | | 20 Comments
Professor X sat staring at me and I could feel myself shrinking down before his gigantic eyes.
"So make sure you pay attention to your second paper. I don't want you to tell me later that this one also came back like the first one."
"Uh-yes, yes, I'm trying my best-"
"Don't try, just get it published."
"B-but, the-the data is not good, I can't help it. And the topic is also not very innovative. But I'm trying my best to write a good discussion on whatever I've got."
"Topic not good? How come Prof. Goswami got so many papers out of it? Did you read them? They've got a bunch of papers on this topic. Don't tell me you can't even get one paper out of it. Don't tell me you can't. All right, see you next week, I've other things to do now. Have the draft ready by then."
Little did Prof. X knew why Prof. Goswami got a bunch of papers on a shitty topic so easily. Following are the reasons:
1. Prof. Goswami is from an AWEsome university.
2. Prof. Goswami has got 400 papers. (Prof. X has got 40 papers.)
Thus, when peer reviewers see the name of Prof. Goswami on a submitted paper, they tremble in fear, sweat in profusion, wet their pants a lil bit, and finally accept whatever comes from the Goswami group of AWEsome university.
That's how academia works.
What are books? What is music?
8:25 PM | | 6 Comments
"These are Dark times, that is no denying..." HP7, JKR
As I gear up towards my graduation in the next semester, uncertainty about my future is growing at an exponential rate. Perhaps that's because of my mental disease in which I want to see everything to be planned in a clear and set pattern. If something's not logical and rational, my mind fails to decipher it. And the worst part is, all this world, all this life is inherently illogical, irrational, and unpredictable no matter how many millions of research dollars we spend in modeling the behavior of materials and men. We still get good MS and PhD thesis out of these studies though but I can't say how closer do we get to really understanding everything we want to.
So yeah, I'm not sure what it will be like after my Masters. I remember the quote from The PHD movie, "Life's tough and then you graduate."
I'm thinking probably I might go for a PhD, although often do the toils of other crazy PhD students discourage me, and make me feel that I am too dumb to pursue more of grad. school. But then, even if I do end up encouraging myself to pursue a PhD, I need to find someone to fund me (Of course I don't want to continue with Prof. X, no matter how much he would love to exploit me more) I kinda want to move on.
Move on, yes, I think that's where the whole problem is. I can't stick to a place long enough. It just bores me, tires me. The people around me, I can't stand them any longer, more importantly, they can't stand me any longer. Probably that's the reason why my past is so faint and I've hardly any old contact who I'm in touch with (except a very, occasional few people).
I just can't drag the past with me. I'm too much occupied with the present. But it's the future that I am most worried about.
8:57 PM | | 4 Comments
# We both sat staring at each other across Professor X's office table, waiting for the other to break the ice. My professor's huge square glasses hung low on his nose and through his unrestrained fiery eyes, he had begun to rupture my soul.
"So...umm...," I attempted to begin our weekly meeting, "did you get my email about the paper?"
"Of course, yes. Of course. I know." He sat still, ready to burst out any moment.
"Uhmm, it was my first paper...I hoped it to go through but...I feel bad."
"I told you. Didn't I? I told you but you never listened to me. You even argued with me, and that's your major problem. You have to do more tests if you want to publish papers in academia. You have to do more and read more."
"Umm, but the reviewers said that its rejected because its nothing new, we need to do something new to be accepted. Actually I don't feel bad now. It was just a bad paper with bad results. My next one would be better."
"No. You should feel bad. It's not about being new. Look at xuxuxu (insert random chinese graduate hero), look at his work and papers. Xuxuxu's project is very common but he still got good papers out of it. You just don't want to work hard. And your attitude is not good. You have to focus. Focus. Otherwise you won't be able to get things done. You're always running after scholarships and fellowships, but you're not so eager for research," Professor X's lower lip quivered intensely as he announced the climax just like pouring whipped cream on lemon cake, "You-you, you have the potential but you never seem to use it."
# So I went and sought some guidance from this old grumpy scientific guy, who's like the only person in the entire department who knows things, and that's what he said to me,
"I know professor X, been working with him since past two decades and I perfectly understand what you're saying. And lately, he's been having a lot of issues with students, I saw that, I saw that and I don't know why. But anyway, if you want to pursue some research that really matters, go and do your PhD under a real doctor. Someone who can teach you how to do things. Not these bunch of people who run this department and do stuff and publish stuff. You know what I mean by stuff?"
I suspect that my silly blog is somewhat getting famous and hence I'm getting promotional spam email. Here's how I dealt with it. The funniest part is that, this spammer chick, actually replied. Although I wouldn't be surprised if it was a smart bot's doing.
I was reading your blog today and wonder if I could get your opinion on a diet/fitness app I am working on ?
For me, I think the main problem with being healthy is motivation. It's an abstract, overwhelming goal. I think the best way to counter this is to turn it into winnable games and small victories.
So… my app makes living healthy, and fitness into a RPG game, where users earn points, and "level up' as they accomplish their health goals. Everytime they add something healthy like veggies to their diet, they earn points. Everytime they complete a workout, they earn points. As they achieve more and more, they'll level up and unlock badges, and discounts/coupons to rewards like spas, health foods, etc.
There'll be challenges, which will get harder as people level up. And it'll follow a certain structure. First will come changing your environment such as getting rid of all junk food. Then, reducing stress, as stress leads to eating comfort food.
The whole point is to turn it into a game so people will rely less on willpower, and more on fun, achievement, and changing our environment.
What's your opinion on this idea? Would you want to know when I'm done with it? If this sounds too silly, or absurd, just ignore what I just said, hehe =)
8:19 PM | | 7 Comments
# I was fighting with my professor over an issue as usual and the conversation was now coming to an end. Professor X stood there, looking down at me with a stolid face and fiery eyes, and his lip trembled as he finished our talk with his pet line, "Don't argue with me."
Oh, I am so sick. So, so, so sick that I can't get out of my bed since two days. It's the usual cold/headache/sore throat/fever but trust me it's not that usual as it seems.
12:36 PM | | 2 Comments
It all began with pizza and pop. I mean the onset of nervousness that spread down my spine the moment the cold gush of diet coke flooded my throat. The warm free pizza helped somewhat but it could not contain the fear of having a sore throat the very evening I had yet another theater audition.
I walked out of the free food event in time and prepared myself and my belongings to leave for the auditions. This time they were held in the main theater of the city and I had guessed right that this time I'd be auditioning on a real stage instead of a small room. After all, this was a bigger play, with a bigger cast, and a bigger chance.
"Hi! Are you here for the auditions? What's your name, let's see. Hmmm, oh, you're quite early! There's still a good hour before your turn. You can fill up this form and chill around till I call ya!" The stage manager faked her excitement very well till the point she handed me the form, and then resumed her whining to her assistant about how long she had been sitting on her desk collecting forms.
This standard protocol was only applicable to me because the rest of the actors and actresses (majoring in fine arts) merely swooped in, exchanged some hugs and old stories with the stage manager and went straight for the auditions with an unearthly confidence while I paced the hallway up and down in sweat, waiting for my turn, and simultaneously wishing I should have been anywhere but there. In my second trip to the bathroom, I decided to stay a bit longer, lured by the solace that it offered and the huge dressing mirror that demanded a final practice before the one in half an hour. I rehearsed the monologues in hushed voices, carefully watching my movement and that of the door lest anyone should walk in by chance and discover me in a theatrical pose sufficiently comical for their next day's gossip about an Indian.
When I entered the auditorium, I found the judge occupying a central place amidst the massive seating capacity,
"Fear not, you'll not die here today!" She could sense the shadow of nervousness that had fallen on my face upon viewing the grandness of the stage.
"I see, you're willing to do any role, hmmm," she continued to make comments as she read the form I handed her, "and this is one of your first times, not a lot of experience, hmmm, well I'd have you read the two monologues that you've prepared, and you can climb up the stage and begin whenever you're ready."
I acted. Slipped up a word in one of them, and then to make it worse, I corrected it by saying the word that was supposed to be in the phrase; perhaps I should have just better gone along with what I said first. But, a certain phrase did invoke a chuckle out of my dear judge which greatly cheered me. I finished and we read out loud a dialogue together, in which I think I did merely okay and not very great as compared to her. My practiced monologues were better. And in the end, when we thanked each other for our times, she said something that made my day,
"You know, it takes a LOT of courage when its your initial trials, and it's good for you, good for you..."
While leaving I asked the stage manager about the statistics of participation and selection.
"About 75% of people trying in would eventually be given some kind of role, it's a huge play."
I had missed my last bus, it was late in night as I took the cold, lonely 3km stretch of a road to my apartment by foot. A single thought invaded my mind, If I don't make into this, I better not fool around anymore. My rejection would mean that there's something seriously lacking in my ability to be on stage in this foreign land. And I was partially convinced that I'd be rejected and why not, when the experience column in my sign up form is often empty. Walking alone in the night, I felt dejected and lost. Nobody misses me or ever did, I mouthed. I tried to thumbs up to the vehicles scurrying along the road in the hope of a lift on that chilly night but nobody paid attention, and it only worsened my state of mind.
When I keyed in to my apartment, dragging those heavy legs to my room, I galloped a glass of milk on the way; undressed myself and crashed straight into the welcoming bed. How long I lied still I can't remember but soon my hand crawled out of the bed, searching for the laptop. Plugging it on, I turned to the only thing that mattered to me in life. The only thing that made me happy, and content, and joyful. And thus, I began to write this post.
EDIT: I got the results and as usual I'm not selected :| This is like the deepest depressing moments in recent months, not to say this massive breakup I've been going through. Hope by next week I'd have got something cheerful to talk about, but I doubt so.
9:19 PM | | 9 Comments
PLEASE PLAY [THIS SONG] IN BACKGROUND AS YOU READ THIS POST TO FEEL THE ESSENCE OF IT.
# Unfortunately we will not be able to use this work for _. We receive many well-written, compelling, stories, but can only take a very limited number due to constraints of space and style. We wish you the best of luck in placing your story elsewhere. Thanks again. Best of luck with this.
# Due to the large number of high quality flash fiction, our decisions were difficult to make. Unfortunately, we will not be able to include _ in issue 7, but we truly appreciate your interest in _. Please feel free to submit again. We are able to accept only 4 to 5 flashers a month.
# Unfortunately, we have decided not to accept it for publication. I wish you the best success in placing your story elsewhere, and hope to see more of your work.
# We appreciate the chance to read your poem. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us. Thanks again. Best of luck with this.
# Sadly, I regret to inform you that we are declining acceptance at this time. We enjoyed the work and found many of the ideas you presented interesting, but we don't feel the story is the best fit for _. Thank you again for sharing your work with us and we wish you the best of luck placing this story in another market.
# Unfortunately, I will be passing on _ this cycle. While I appreciate the opportunity to review it, it just didn't grab my attention as well as some of the other stories I received did. Because my policy is to only accept the stories that will be published for the specific issue I am reading for and not building a back list of stories to be published, I am often forced to reject good stories simply because I don't have enough available slots and other stories just grabbed me more than others. I do hope to see other submissions from you in the future.
# We enjoyed reading it but after careful consideration have decided that we cannot use it at this time. Please feel free to submit other work to us in the future.
# Congratulations! Guest Editor _ has selected your poem “_” for the Issue X of _ Journal. Take pride in knowing that you are among only twenty writers selected from the hundreds who submitted to this issue.
I am writing to secure the proper rights to publish your poem. But first, a note about payment. [...]
I paced up and down the corridor slightly avoiding the closed group of all the white students, maintaining my own proximity and wondering if I even looked good, in the first place. Shyness dripped like hot sweat from my soul, it could have flooded the floor if it were as real a thing as I imagine it to be inside us Indians among Goray people. Acting would be a secondary thing but first am I even presentable on stage, among those well figured and chisel faced white theater students? What must they be thinking, what's a brownie Asian doing in here? There's still time, perhaps I can turn back, shove the cellphone up my ear and leave the corridor in pretension of attending some important call. Through the corridor, out the door, into the free and lovely sun, away from the fear of auditions and the nervousness that they brought, I wanted to hide.
My name was called and I went in to feel slightly amused at how pleasantly the director shook hands with me, and made the entire atmosphere so comfortable as if I were his holy guest.
"So which year are you?" His eyes quickly scanned the sign up form I handed him immediately upon entering, but before I could answer he had managed to decipher my scribbling, "Oh I see, a graduate student! Engineering, hmm, interesting."
I only nodded and smiled at this welcome reception, and tried to keep my answers as courteous as possible, nearly failing to hide my nervousness.
"So you were selected at the Shakespeare thingsha kshj Shakespeare thing, nice, yeah I heard about it," he continued to make comments and general questions as he read through the form when ultimately, "Allright. I'll have you read this text for me. This is from the short story _ by _, have you read it before?"
"Yes, yes." I nodded in fresh enthusiasm as I had done my homework, and after two silent readings, I read out loud the given three para's, making sure to stress on the clauses and phrases I considered important. Though I screwed up badly the last clause at the end.
The director replied in a broad smile and said those words (which could be generic and perhaps were being said to every other actor that tried but nevertheless they made me write this post)
"That was lovely. Great, lovely."
And when I thanked him for this, he added, "I will decide the cast by tomorrow but if not for this particular production, I highly encourage you to attend more auditions that are coming up this semester. Would you like me to add your email to the emailing list about those?"
"Yes, please, that would be great. I came to know about this by a lucky accident when I glanced at a clipping in a newspaper that was lying at somebody's else desk yesterday. I'm so glad that I got this opportunity."
"Wonderful! I'm not sure if you can take theater classes while being an engineering graduate but I'd definitely recommend you to get involved with us, the theater department, I'm sure we'll have lot of opportunities for you in coming future," he finished and allowed me to leave out of the room, in sort of a trance, through the corridor, out the heavy door and into the smiling sun, and I didn't know why but all the way back I couldn't stop asking myself how beautiful everyone and everything was.
To try, try, try and not feel shy.
And those people who are winning in everything they pursue and getting acceptances where ever they submit themselves or their work, either they are limiting themselves to a too narrow a field or they are the ones who have chosen to play level "easy" in the setup menu of this game of life.
So, are you shy? Or did you try?
Can a perfect society exist? Is the existence of a flawless society of humans possible? Well, I ain't got any frikkin' ideah.
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