Saturday, August 22, 2009

Insanely Long Post

At the onset of the year 2009, I knew that the 5-6 months that lie immediately in front of me are going to be extremely grueling. Guess, I was wrong! I wasn't prepared for what lie ahead of me, it seems, in retrospect.

For the lack of better word, life (on personal front) had been more than an excruciating roller-coaster ride for past 6 months. It is worth going through all the pains, only if you know there is a sweet end to it, and you can clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel (which you are sure is not from an oncoming train that will run you over). I saw that light on and off, like someone was holding a blinking light and playing tricks with me. That explains sporadic/no emails, no replies, no phone calls, reduced online activity, no login on GTalk/YM IMs and increased isolation! But nothing to worry, for, if I were to assume that my unassuming assumption of 'things are under control' is a right assumption, all seems to be well :-)

Apart from work and coping up with tons of other things, I have been largely spending inordinate amounts of time (mostly with self) philosophy'ing, professing, contemplating, understanding, questioning, discovering and rediscovering the meaning, purpose and essence of life. And going beyond: the purpose of all of the beings, their actions, reactions, sins, good/bad-deeds, death, birth, karma, consciousness, subconsciousness, etc. And I have to admit that I am no closer to any answers than I was at the beginning of this journey (not to mention the additional array of questions that took birth!). Yet, I believe it is worth treading along.

So here is an insanely long post of things (in no particular perceivable order) on my mind today, that I thought I could share... This is not the final version and will probably evolve over a period of fews days after initial posting. For your convenience, here are some shortcuts that will jump to specific sections, this much for being considerate reader of this boring post :-)




Nothing beats the joy of a relaxing (and thought provoking) movie. I utterly detest the act of watching a movie that will shove garbage up a$$ and eventually into head. As long as movie is provoking positive thoughts and attitude, I can watch it.

  1. Ice Age-3,aka Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
  2. I had never seen a movie in 3D in my life before. And this was the FIRST ever 3D movie I have seen. It was an exhilarating experience. This is one of the best movies I have seen lately. After a few minutes, the fact that movie is 3D is forgotten only because the story is so gripping, funny & engaging. My favorite character is Buck; an eccentric, brave and mysteriously knowledgeable little creature in the strange land of dinos. Of all the Ice Age movies, this is THE BEST so far. No nonsense, no emotional garbage, funny quips and lots of action and affection. A perfect package to rejuvenate a otherwise languid day. It would be fair to claim that it is one of the only few movies that is suitable to and enjoyable by every age group: kids, teens and adults alike.
  3. Dispatches Mumbai 26/11
  4. Link to video Disclaimer: The programm contains graphic images and descriptions of the atrocity which may upset some viewers. I myself couldn't watch it in one go! November last year, the world stood still and watched in shock as terrorists went on a rampage in the bustling city of Mumbai in India. Came across this excellent [and] disturbing documentary by Channel 4/BBC, an untold story of 2008's terrorist attack, in the eerie words of its victims and the gunmen. Produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Dan Reed, Terror in Mumbai tells the story of what happened when 10 gunmen held one of the world's busiest cities at hostage; killing and wounding hundreds of people at will while holding India's top notch security at bay. The sad thing, today, is that even after all these months, it is business as usual as far as apprehending the culprits is concerned. Pakistan just released the prime suspect, and is blaming India for his release (which is kinda funny, because Pak is apparently imposing a ban on such nonsensical outfits anyways!). I cannot comprehend what is more sad, the fact that so many innocent lives were lost, our security sucks or the fact that business is back to normal as if nothing happened. Sometimes I wonder if affected people wonder whether it is worth continuing living such a life (where the a$holes eventually shall inherit the world) over total annihilation of human race with nuclear warfare and let the whole world reboot, eviscerated of all the vices. Additional Links: 0. 8 Ways India can hurt Pak 1. Mumbai massacre revisited
  5. Dispatches Pakistan's Taliban Generation
  6. Video 0, Video 1 Pakistan's Taliban Generation investigates how the war on terror is creating a generation of child terrorists - children prepared to kill both inside and outside Pakistan. Journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy reveals how the Taliban are recruiting increasingly young fighters for their campaign. She interviews a 14-year-old boy in Karachi who's desperate to become a suicide bomber. At a nearby refugee camp, Sharmeen interviews two teenage boys whose local madrassa was hit by bombardments (alleged by US drones and Pakistani armies) while children were studying (read: studying? really?) inside. In the aftermath of the attack, a local militant arrives to preach to a large crowd of local youngsters. He successfully bags (read: brainwashes) a handful of fresh recruits! For various reasons, these videos are being forced out of shared sites. So if any of the links are dead, just Google these names out and you will get at least one current active source. It would be nice if you are kind enough to share it with me, so that I can keep it current.
  7. Transformers 2, aka Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  8. I would rate it at just 5.0/10. While good, more than 2 hours of non-stop abuse of special effects is not fun to watch. This happened to be my first movie in IMAX (but non-dome) theater. Frankly, I couldn't appreciate the hyped IMAX factor. I don't know who is to be blamed: the fact that IMAX theater is indeed a hype, or the movie was sh!tty. The movie got on nerves, esp. because the movie is insanely long. Definitely worth letting it pass by unwatched (unless you want to ogle at Megan Fox, I didn't).
  9. Terminator 4, aka Terminator Salvation
  10. I don't know why am I even mentioning this. Probably just to let you know that if you haven't seen this, don't waste your precious time (and money). By any stretch, movie is just average, and falls far below expectations on every front: direction, action and story. Story, is a little too incomprehensible, if (like me) you are not an insane die-hard Terminator fan. Skip it, I would say.
  11. UP
  12. While very engaging and entertaining, it tends to get too depressing (in the memory of old man's sweet wife) very too often. This fact drains out all the fun from a otherwise very well made and directed animation movie.
  13. G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra
  14. A movie so devoid of any substance, that even the starring of bombshells like VS-angel Karolina Kurkova and Sienna Miller doesn't cut it through. Except for the concept of nano-mites (and its applications, good and bad), the movie had no thought provoking substance in it for me. Major part of movie towards the end looks nothing like a movie! It looks like a poorly made VGA-era game projected on giant screen in the year 2009. Fx (if you will call that) comes nowhere close to the epic special effects of a decade old Matrix! Not even two decade old Jurassic Park! Hasbro, simply sucks. The fact that they did such a trashy job on Transformer 2, I shouldn't have craved to watch this movie. I could have done sooooooo much more in those 2 hours and with now-wasted 15 dollars ~~~sigh~~~
  15. Battle of X-Planes
  16. America has a yearly military budget of 600+ billion dollars, which is higher than the military budget of rest of the world put together! This is a technically very thought-provoking documentary. They have made a very nice film out of the quest of two of the biggest aviation companies (Boeing and Lockheed Martin) to build two prototype jets each to replace the formidable (but seemingly unaffordable) F22 Raptors. Very engaging, it has boat loads of technology, zest, energy, thrill and politics in one single package. This documentary left no doubt in my mind as to why USA's military force is so formidable. Additional Links: 0. Military Expenditure by country




  1. Long Weekend with Aurn-Suchi
  2. This deserves a post in itself, but I figured if I delay it any more, it won't happen. So, in the essence of something is better than nothing, I clubbed it along here. It had been a long time I met my old time buddy Arun (aka Anna). My plans to spend a week with him and his wife (Suchi, aka Su) before I started my new journey got cancelled, and ever since we have been itching to meet. Finally, that happened on the Independence day long weekend. Wow! It was such a rejuvenating and relaxing 4-day trip, I don't have right words to put it in perspective. We had made great plans, but Su's health didn't cooperate, so we spent lot of time unplanned at home. I bet it was far more fun than anything we had on paper to do if Su's health were better. Eating yummy food, watching movie, talking on and on, seeing photographs, etc... it was real fun. The night I landed in LA, me and Anna talked about everything there is to talk about under the sun: technology, life, computers, cars, economics, movies, philosophy, psychology, spiritualism, religion, love, hatred, books, laptops, operating systems, algorithms, stores, and what not! For a 5-6 hours talk, that was pretty dense variety of topics :) We went for La Jolla Beach, but the @#$ing traffic on I-5 consumed all the time we had (more than 2+ hrs of ride, for a usually about 50min ride) and so hit the beach only at hours past sunset. We had food at a nice Persian restaurant, though. To help recuperate Su's health, we let her stay home while we went to San Diego SeaWorld the next day. It was a great outing, but the time spent unplanned at home were the most fun filled moments! Click here for photos from my LA trip.
    Long Weekend of July with Arun and Suchi
    Essence: Nothing beats the joy of connecting to a close old timer.
  3. Green Lake Park
  4. On some odd sunny Sunday we ventured out to yet another park. We couldn't spend much time there, for some of us had to reach back home early, but I managed to click some photos. My favorite one is this:
    From Green Lake Park
    click here for whole Green Lake Park album.
  5. Snoqualmie Falls
  6. On a lazy Saturday, we longed for hitting a waterfall. Snoqualmie Falls it was this time. Picturesque place, amazing water fall.
    Magnificient Falls From Snoqualmie Falls
    Click here for more pictures Snoqualmie Falls
  7. Rattlesnake Ledge
  8. Another outing, a wonderful trek for beginner to advanced trekkers. And once you are done with the trek, you can come down and have a nice refreshing dip in the cool waters of the Rattlesnake Lake!
    From Rattlesnake Ledge Trek




  1. Long Weekend with Arun-Su, Hollywood, SeaWorld, La Jhola Beach
  2. Long Weekend of July with Arun and Suchi
  3. Woodland Park Zoo
  4. This is my most prized photo from this trip:
    Emerald Tree Boa From Woodland Park Zoo
    And here's the link to whole album:
    Woodland Park Zoo
  5. Green Lake Park
  6. Green Lake Park
  7. Snoqualmie Falls
  8. Snoqualmie Falls
  9. Gasworks Park
  10. Gasworks Park
  11. Seattle Downtown
  12. This is a beautiful panorama of Seattle Downtown across Lake Union. You must zoom in 100% to enjoy it.



My original first tank had some major issues a month back, and all the plants suddenly died :( I suspect it was the attack of hair-algae. But I'm not sure. I had setup new tank some time back. Two days back I saw 2-3 baby ghost shrimps emerge out from dense plantation, today, I can't see them. They usually make good snack for fishes, I fear they must have gotten devoured. Quite a few of the baby fries that sunburst platy gave birth to, have grown in size, I moved about 7 of them into larger tank. Waiting for the rest to grow up. I haven't gotten around shooting it, but here is one photo of my second 30gallon planted tank.

From New Fishtank






End of July, we experienced the hottest sun that has never been experienced in over a century here in Seattle, it soared around 105F (~41C). Intense sun extreme along with humidity made the weather unbearable for about a week. So much so, that even the cooling systems at my office failed to function, and many worked from home for 2-3 days. Fans were only as useful as a AA-sized battery operated hand-held fan is useful in scorching Sahara dessert!





Don't compare yourself to other people. It won't help. You will only find what you expect to find. If you think you are weak, everyone else will seem stronger. If you think you are strong, everyone else will seem weaker. It is futile to compare like that. Simply look at where you are now, and aim to get better as you go forward, that is the way to go. That is the only way to not be a part of the crazy rat-race. (inspired by Self-Discipline and seems to be inline with my theory of Types of Successes)







Only a few people know about my craving for serene soothing music. I am always on a lookout for one. Recently I stumbled upon this soothing performance. I don't know the language it is spoken in, or if the lyrics have any meaning in some spoken language, but it indeed is very soothing Dona Ceri'Tun by Gary Stadler & Stephanne.





  1. KenKen (it is like advanced Sudoku, you must try it, it is addictive!)
  2. GIMP and Layers
  3. Green Tea (link2)
  4. LOST
  5. last.fm (revived)



I haven't been reading much lately...
The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman
I didn't find the book as engaging, except for few pages. This book was on my to-read list of a very long time now, glad I can now strike it out from the list.
You guessed it right, the name of my blog is kind of derived from the title of this book :)





Things I intend to take on going ahead, preferably through the end of this year (not necessarily in that order).

  1. Diving deeper into photography
    • contemplating buying a CPL filter
    • creating panoramic images (you already saw the sample above)
    • learn layers in GIMP (see an example below of what could be done with it)
    Playing with layers in GIMP From Photography
  2. Sports
    • Volleyball: just re-started playing volleyball after almost 5yrs, best stress buster I have found (this Thursday I played non-stop for 3 hours, and I felt I was in heaven and wished that the night would never end!)
    • Nutrition
  3. Movies I Want to see
    • Public Enemies
    • G-Force (yes, I'm a big animation movie fan! plus I love watching cartoon films!)
    • Harry Potter-6 (only for Fx)
    • Ninja Assassin (to be released: Nov 25, 2009. I like a good movie based on martial arts, even if it has outlandish stunts, as long as they are well executed)
    • Drag Me to Hell (has been a while I have seen horror flick)
    • District 9
  4. Books I want to read
  5. Haven't done much reading lately, books on my mind:
    • Windows Internals
    • Brave New World
    • Acupressure, mainly interested in points on palm and foot
    • The Digital Photography, Scott Kelby, vols. 1-3
  6. Geekdom
    • Mastering vi, complete the tutorial (typeset in TeX/LaTeX) that I abruptly stopped working on
    • My resume using TeX/LaTeX (yes, I'm still hung on it!)
    • Move to [K]Ubuntu
    • Upgrade my homepage to be managed via new infrastructure (suggestions welcome)
  7. Outings
    • Mount Si, 4mile trek, each way
    • Mt. Rainier, I want to catch the glimpse of how gentle rays of rising sun alchemies the majestic snow-clad peaks of the Mt. Rainier
  8. Posts to expect
  9. And, if, after all these, I still have some time, I would like it to save for myself :)

7 comments:

Indrani said...

Phew!!!.. that was really long.. but worth reading:)

Anonymous said...

I think all of us go through a phase where we question the meaning of life. :) Interested to know what books you've read, and your thoughts on the matter.

Read Man's search for meaning by victor frankl. It's awesome.

The Shaolin said...

@Niyati: Well, I cannot add Chrome because I haven't used it at all! I would not do justice to Chrome. But IE vs Firefox will come up soon.
[K]Ubuntu: I am a BIG fan of Debian distribution for its rock-solid-stability, manageability and access to large package base. But it can be sometimes pain to get latest software unless you are on development version, which can it PITA. Since Ubuntu is derived from Debian, that switch will be easiest for me.

@Indrani: Thanks!

@Anonymous: Thanks for your suggestions, I will add that book to my list.
At the top of my head books that I think I have read on life/philosophy/values which have provoked my thoughts are Siddartha, Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, Art of Living (Epictetus), Hermit in Himalayas (Paul Brunton), Wings of Fire, Ignited Minds, Godfather and fictional novels like Coma and largely by experience :)
Do share if you have more suggestions.

Loquacious said...

Haven't read it fully but commenting based on the parts I read....

The " beautiful panorama of Seattle Downtown" is awesome....One another patel shot from Atul's cam just like the CMU nd cathedral of learning at nite!!!

Abt photography, why don't u also try HDR stuff....U can apply all your algos knowledge too ;)

And abt linux, try MAC ;).....I can recommend it now that I am in Apple....lol

Sheetal Kamat said...

omg that is a longest post i have seen :)

On Ice Age 3 - well i think i liked Ice Age 2 much better than 3. And I am among one who saw all three in 3D :) But I so agree that Ice Age 3 is one of the best movie I saw this year.

I like your fish tank :) big one.. I so crave for the bigger one. we have normal homely size :) Did you think about trying marine aquarium.. One day I sure want to do that. Its the toughest to maintain and most beautiful to look at esp since the fishes are more colorful and delicate.

Mount rainier: We too planning to visit it since so long - but most probably would be going this weekend. Ping me if you want to join us :)

Lost: Did you catch Lost season 5 live (when it was first aired or you are in process of catching up old ones) whatever it is I am huge huge fan of that and cant wait for the finale season :) The characters are so real in there. the links, chemistry - so well sketched and maintained across all 3 seasons.

The Shaolin said...

@Loquacious (Hiral)

> Haven't read it fully but commenting based on the parts I read....
Read it, I'm sure it will provide you more entertainment (and knowledge!) than Bolly movies :-P

> Abt photography, why don't u also try HDR stuff....U can apply all your algos knowledge too ;)
Thanks for compliments :) Yes, I want to try HDR, but haven't gotten around reading much about the technique. Right now, it is more of less, shooting as it opportunity comes.

> And abt linux, try MAC ;).....I can recommend it now that I am in Apple....lol
Ha Ha! I don't hold such great view about Mac Books. I had one when I was at Google, and it would hang twice a day! I can give the benefit of doubt that it might be some corporate software that Google must have installed is the culprit... but even then, LINUX rocks! :) Mac has got amazing bell-n-whistles, but Linux helps me get work done ;-)

The Shaolin said...

@Sheetal

Yes, the post is LONG :) I _had_ to take revenge for not posting for this long, isn't it!

> And I am among one who saw all three in 3D :)
Cool, you have NO idea how much you are envied right now :-P


> I like your fish tank :) big one.. I so crave for the bigger one. we have normal homely size :)
Thanks Sheetal. You can upgrade, just buy one off craigslist, I did the same.

> Did you think about trying marine aquarium..
> One day I sure want to do that. Its the toughest to maintain and most beautiful to look at esp since the fishes are more colorful and delicate.
Certainly they look more beautiful, but marine aquariums are hell lot of a maintain. And marine fishes tend to be more sensitive to water conditions than fresh water ones. When you shift to marine, do let me know, I will come every week to see it :)
My next step is to have bigger tank :) and then, even bigger and even bigger, till I get one of the size of a wall :)

> Mount rainier: We too planning to visit it since so long - but most probably would be going this weekend. Ping me if you want to join us :)
Do let me know your plans. Last weekend I trekked heavily, so I'm not sure if this weekend I'll go outing much. But lets see, what my body says :)

No, I'm playing catch up on LOST. I just started watching. Very enthusiastically I reached Season 3, and suddenly have lost interest :( First 2 seasons were soooooo gripping, Season 3 haven't got that charm, I think. But yes, more or less, LOST has all the elements of a good serial: suspense, thrill, characters and above all good direction.