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and the easy art of reviving a blog.. with apologies to the regular reader for the long absence

John Steinbeck’s letter to Edith Mirrielees, his professor at Stanford, with insights on writing the story, reproduced in Letters of Note. Steinbeck writes:

It is not so very hard to judge a story after it is written, but after many years, to start a story still scares me to death. I will go so far as to say that the writer who is not scared is happily unaware of the remote and tantalizing majesty of the medium.

National Geographic photographer David Alan Harvey on the place he calls home – the hurricane-prone Outer Banks of North Carolina, referred to as OBX.

Why would anyone live with such a lack of security? Because we’re all gamblers, thinking our luck will hold. And because when there’s no hurricane, life is at its best. It’s that simple.

The uncropped photo of the iconic Tank Man at Tiananmen Square (via MeFi), and the 1989 NYT article on this moment of defiance.

It all started with a man in a white shirt who walked into the street and raised his right hand no higher than a New Yorker hailing a taxi.

.. to a new pad that I found out the hard way today.

  • It takes more time than you think it does – this is a known human cognitive bias called planning fallacy, if that makes you happy.
  • You will most likely have more stuff than you think you do – the mind may be an awesome calculator of numbers, but it is a bad estimator, particularly when it has to rely on vague visual information.
  • What you thought was minimalist living was really a large apartment. In this context, Galileo is known to have said, “Give me a large enough space, and I’ll make stuff disappear.” Ok, I made that up, but it helps make the point.
  • Boxes are hard to distinguish when not labeled to indicate their contents. And I don’t mean that in a demeaning way – not to boxes.
  • It takes more time to assemble stuff than to disassemble them, just as it takes more time to dig a hole than to fill it. This may also explain why moving out has been, in my limited anecdotal experience, easier than moving in.
  • For those of us who believe that we have inherited certain key traits from our hunter-gatherer forebearers, there is good and bad news. The good-news is: yes, we have. The bad-news: just the ‘gatherer’ trait.
  • Never underestimate the agony that stairs can cause you when moving. As Churchill emphatically put it, “Never, never, never”. No kidding. He did say that, and it was followed by the words “give up”. But if you are carrying one side of what felt like an 100-pound futon up a narrow flight of 22 stairs, you cease to think, let alone remember what Churchill had to say about not giving up more than half a century ago.
  • Cut your coat according to your cloth, and pack your boxes according to your sloth (read: ability to carry them)
  • If you are going to be involved in the moving, and I mean physically carrying stuff and not lording over your movers telling them what they know better than you, warm up and stretch a bit, or your body will ache, badly. I am experiencing it right now for not having remembered this in good time.
  • Get a good night’s sleep prior to the move.

It hailed here in San Diego – yes, pea-sized hailstones that caught me unawares when coming back from lunch this past Wednesday – very unusual for this part of the world. It sure did generate a lot of buzz that day that far outlived the few minutes of hail. So much for all my eulogizing of the sun and shine. Adding an iota of pain to surprise was one particular hailstone that hit me square on the collarbone before falling off to the ground- I hadn’t known until then how sensitive the collarbone can be.


This must have been a week of being under the weather, literally and idiomatically. I was hostage to “a contagious, viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system, primarily caused by rhinoviruses (a picornaviruses) or coronaviruses”, according to Wikipedia, which further adds “It is the most common infectious disease in humans; there is no known cure, but it is never fatal.” Yes, the bothersome cold. No, not the swine flu H1N1 flu, or at least I hope not. I am much better now, albeit the sniffling.


The latest Star Trek movie, I liked. Perhaps a biased view, I’ve enjoyed the Star trek series on TV, and it was good to see the familiar characters of yore make their comeback, especially Spock. \\///.

I’m in San Diego since the past week on work, and will be here for the next 3 months. It’s hard not to mention the weather when one is in SoCal. SD has the right level of warm and consistently so – a step up over the interspersed shine, rain, and chill in the SF/Bay area, though some here complain of May gray/June gloom. Turns out, the weather is not the only place where San Diego trumps SF – I was witness to the SF Giants losing to the San Diego Padres (yes, their mascot is a friar) in a baseball game played on Wednesday here at Petco Park.


Before leaving Berkeley, I managed to complete and return the library copy of India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha. I may post a detailed review someday, but for now, all I’ll say is that this is one of the most informative and well written books I’ve read on the political history of the nation from independence to 2006.


It’s the season of summer movies, and several visual treats await – top on my list are Star Trek, Angels and Demons, and Terminator Salvation.

  • No, it was not my new year resolution to stop blogging – just a prolonged case of otioseness. Yes, it is contagious and now that you have read this far, you shall suffer.
  • I have been doing the one other thing that I have disparaged in the past. I am on twitter. No, I have not yet figured out why anyone would be interested in one’s “twitters” – least so, what someone had for breakfast, lunch or dinner (and maybe you can name 3 people that would be interested in this kind of detail, and perhaps in 2047 you are likely to be interested in knowing what consumed on a nondescript day in the past, but why a public twitter?). Perhaps it human tendency to be interested in l’affaires des autres that makes Twitter and Facebook popular and their founders rich (Why else would be have E!). But I diverge. I was guardedly curious, and it did not help that Twitter is perhaps the next most oft-mentioned term lately, after “recession”, “global recession”, and “the great depression”. The withdrawal symptoms from not blogging and a perceived lack of time (not true) made the easy option of 140 characters-or-less posts tweets hard to resist. The rest, as they say, is history – divvied up as tweets here.
  • Prior to Twitter, another piece of technology (a physical one) I’d long argued against was the iPod – the first versions. I preferred a lightweight device where I could store and carry ~40-50 songs (and there were flash drives that served the purpose), rather than carry all my music around in a far more expensive and heavier player. By induction, it seemed to me that not many people would be interested in such a music player. The subsequent iPod mania caused me to eat my words and buy one of the clunkier video iPods (already a classic) more than a year back. I ended up spending more time organizing my music collection, deciding on,  and switching between playlists than listening to music. I also found jogging with the iPod to be wearisome, if not for the music. A couple months back I got the cheaper $49 iPod shuffle that is perhaps not the most popular of the iPod models, but has all that I care for in a music player – it’s much lighter, saves me the time and agony of choosing between playlists, and it’s cheap. It is strange how with technology, given adequate adoption, popularity drives itself, often at the cost of one’s own contradictory instincts and logic.

I had a never-before moment recently. A Britney Spears quote on relationships was cast my way with undeserving profundity. My retort was a startled, “did you just quote Britney?”. I wondered if anyone kept track of Britney quotes. So I googled it up, and found this on Here’s one I like:

The cool thing about being famous is traveling. I have always wanted to travel across seas, like to Canada and stuff.

And this one:

I did not have implants, I just had a growth spurt.

I await a victim on whom I can inflict a Britney quote. Muhahaha…

  • This a self-enforced post. Please bear with errors, factual or typographical.
  • I realize that I have not been blogging for some time now. I cannot think of any good reason. Perhaps inertia. Sometimes inaction is hard to explain.
  • I realize the absence of posts is unfair to the few and the faithful that follow this blog. My sincere apologies, cher amis!
  • A couple of days back, realization dawned on me that over the past several months, I have not just stopped blogging, but also stopped following other blogs, surfing up information on the web – in short, I ceased to be the information junkie that I once thought myself to be. It’s like when the phone goes dead for several days – for a while the void feels good, but at some point it gets to you.
  • Now that this post is cast, I shall proceed to reclaim my digital life, and share the musings and findings.

Rock on!

Three days overdue, I know. And this goes out to all ye irked by an overload of e-mail broadcasts with wishes for the new year. A friend of mine really hates receiving the spam of holiday e-mails from knowns and unknowns alike. I make it a point to wish him on each of these occasions, for that harmless sense of schadenfreude.

It feels like Y2K was only a couple of years ago. They ought to have a system akin to the weather forecasts for each new year – 2008 but feels like 2002.

Recently switched cell phone service and device . And this is my first attempt at moblogging. Novelty apart, typing is such a pain on this lilliputian keypad. phew!

I apologize for the long hiatus from blogging. Since my last post, I have gone from being a student to not being one, ending a 5 year tryst with la vie academic. I have also moved up north about 300 miles from the sunny shorelines of central California, to the occasionally sombre East Bay. In the course of this prolonged transition and the consequent piecemeal efforts at habitation, I have been unable to keep up with the blog.

The posts will resume shortly, now that I have said it.

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