Monday, November 14, 2011

Potpourri of things

Frequency of posts have definitely dropped, but that is not for the lack of ideas/thoughts/drafts for the posts. Quite the opposite, I have more than enough to last a year if I were to regain my regular posting frequency.
I think what is affecting my posts is a deluding perception that life is regressing from a state of Ordered Chaos into a state of Meaningless Chaos (no proofs needed!).  Which is making me question everything I do more often than I used to.  My email responses (of which at one time I could boast of less than 24hrs turn around time!) have become slower and more spaced (in time).  Activity on (anti)social networks has dropped to near-zero (but that is a good thing!).
Not to say I am not having exciting moments.  Quite a few, actually.  And I wish that this (and upcoming) post(s) will make you believe so (without regards to what the reality is :-P )
So I thought of posting something that is potpourri of various things, in no particular order, just to prove that the (un)creative juices are still oozing strong, often inundating me with enough of it to prevent any productive work from happening :)
Lack of posts is often perceived by my friends as a cause of turbulence in my life.  So I hope this post will help me debunk their notions in that regards.
0. Microsoft Photo Book: Inspire

Inspire: Sporting my shot
While it isn't as great as getting your photo published in NatGeo, getting one in Microsoft's PhotoBook (along side many NatGeo-quality photos) is nothing short of exciting.  Every year (since last 2 or 3 years) shutterbugs at Microsoft request employees to submit their best shots.  They then run it through judging process and of the thousands that they swift through, they choose a few to be eventually published in to a nice hard-cover book, with a photo each on glossy paper.  Another team of volunteers then toil hard to get it printed and make it available at the right cost.
All this work is volunteer driven, that is, people do it out of sheer passion in their spare time.  One of the most exciting parts about this whole effort is the economics...  Every copy of book that is sold, part of the purchase money ($35 of the $50 book's value) goes to charity, United Way. To top it off, Microsoft matches $-for-$ which doubles the charity to $70!  You spend $50 buying the book and somewhere a charitable organization receives $70! Interesting!  Personally I'm not too game for donating where I don't know when/how the money is spent, but the thought of doing something that aids charity is, at the least, heart warming.
So, "show me the photo", say you.  Here's the one that got through:
Dreamy Eye
And the description reads (this was a nice touch they added compared to last year's book):
Dream Eyes
Kirkland, Washington | I was trying the typical macro of an eye and couldn't get enough light on the eye, so I tried moving a little farther away to allow enough light in.  During post-processing after a few crops, I soon realized the result was not going to be anything exciting.  Having seen many amazing black-and-white shits, I then wondered what the original photo would look like in pure black-and-white!  One click and there it was, this dreamy-looking photo.  I didn't quite anticipate this outcome when I was shooting; I guess the best shots happen unplanned.
Canon EOS 30D | 100mm | 1/200 | f/5 | ISO 250
While there is no doubt that I love this photo myself, I wasn't expecting this one to make it through.  But, as they say, beauty lies in the eyes of the judges, err... beholder.
My two other submissions were:
Lady Bug's Descend

Space Needle By The Night from Kerry Park
I think the one quality that these two photos lacked was uniqueness.  But that's just a guess.

But...  If only this were an eye of some beautiful girl! Why?  Well, if it were, then I could have easily gotten an opportunity to ask her out on a dinner (date) ;-) That was actually a humorous (but seemingly serious) comment from a colleague of mine at work.
Colleague: Did you ask her out for dinner?
Me: ~~~befuddled and scratching my head~~~  Sorry what?
I was almost certain I missed to catch a few words in the sentence. Judging by my looks he figured I was as lost as Alice in Wonderland!
Colleague: (wearing a teasing smile) Did you ask her out for a dinner, the girl who's eye you shot?
Me: (bright bulb lighting over my head! Smiling but with saddened feelings...)
Oh! That! No! Unfortunately that is a guy's eye!
(With sunken hearts, we both walked in silence for a few seconds, we were on our way to buy copies of book for ourselves and that did cheer me up, though).
BTW, if you do want to buy a copy, you can do so online.
Go to Microsoft Online Company store, create a new account and search for "Inspire".  If you are wondering, then no, I don't get no money or commission if you buy one. More press here.

1. Rediscovering the joy of Jurassic Park
If I haven't said this already (though, I doubt it!), Jurassic Park still ranks top in my list of top-9 scifi movies.  It has been, what, close to 2 decades now and the only scifi movie to beat Jurassic Park at the top spot is Matrix-I (art, direction, cast, concept, Fx, etc.).
So shortly after I read Micheal Crichton's State of Fear, about which I recently raved about in another post, I had an epiphany: "Boy!  Jurassic Park, isn't that your favorite of favorite'st movies based on novel by the same author.  (inner voice, damn right you are!) Don't you think you should read it, then!"
Bam! And off I trotted to my local library to borrow my copy.

The movie is very well made, but as it is with most movies-made-from-novels, what you ramble out in words is often not easy to portray on screen.  Often words (aka imagination in this case) has no boundaries, no limitations, none whatsoever.  Movies, as they involve physical/material elements, more often than not, are severely restricted in what they can do and show us.  Even when you have the best of Hollywood's creative artists at your command.  It fails me why I didn't read this book sooner.  But better late than never.
I am still a few pages from the back cover of the novel and I'm enjoying every bit of it.  So much so, that if I'm dropping dead from sleep and it it dawns onto me that I won't be able to read even one line on any given night, I still keep the book besides me when I hit bed :D
(Just so you know... I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested :-P ).

Well, this has become a LONG enough post and I'm barely the scratching surface.  If I were to cover everything I set out to cover in this single post, it will become YAILP (Yet Another Insanely Long Post) that nobody will ever bother reading (though I know a few who still would, I thank you in advance!).  As a side note, YAILP's happen when you don't post often enough. See the (un)creative juices I was alluding to now!

So I will just outline things I intend to post in the hopes that doing so will urge me to follow up on them sooner than later...

 2. Kindle
After much thought and checking out various e-readers, I finally bought Kindle.  Of a few things, I'm relying heavily on Amazon's proven great history with consumers.

 3. Aquarium
Almost every friend I meet, talk to or converse with over emails (e-friends, if you will!) have asked me about my aquarium(s).  Since I was all gung-ho about it when I started and posted almost no update since then, it gives an impression that the fire has ebbed.  Quite contrary.  I am still spending increasing amount of time nurturing (and enjoying) my 2 tanks.  I owe you all a short update, at the very least.  Watch this space for more soon.

 4. Photos
I haven't been shooting as much as I would love to and used to, but that is not for the lack of interest.  It is just that the opportunities to shoot have reduced significantly because of very few (almost no) hikes and treks in recent months.  Blame work for this.  Part of reason is also the lack of time to do even minimal post-processing and captioning.  But I will share a few photos I clicked that I didn't share here.

 5. New Lens!
I splurged and bought a new lens!  Which one? That's a surprise for another post!  Supposed to be gift from my bro, but he hasn't paid me yet! lol ;-)  But it is the sentiment that counts, right! (Though my credit card company refuses :D) !

 6. Movies
Again, very little on the front of movie entertainment and enrichment.  But a few noteworthy ones, vaguely in the order of their awesomeness, I saw are:
  1. Ip Man
  2. Ip Man-2
  3. Flashpoint
  4. Revisiting the Harry Potter's
 7. Ipod Nano: Hits and Misses
On my birthday my brother gifted me iPod Nano.  And I love it.  But it is a far cry from perfection (for my use-case) that I have come to expect from Apple and I want to share my thoughts.  I still love my 3yr old Shuffle.

 8. Jeans
A jeans a year or two!  Keep guessing!

 9. Cruise to Alaska
My family was visiting me for a few weeks and after lot of back and forth, never-ending debates, lot of arguments and absolutely no planning, we went on an outing that turned out to be one of the most amazing family outings we have had so far: Cruise to Alaska. Watch out for details.

10. Vibram Five Finger shoes (linky)
For their alien'y look, my mom was strongly opposed to the concept of me owning Fiver Finger Shoes, let alone wear them.  Glorified socks, she told me!  Don't dare you even think of wearing one to work was her stern ultimatum.  But my perseverance and love won her over and now not only I own one but two beautiful pairs of Five Fingers, I even wear them to work daily! Yes D A I L Y!  I hope to share my feedback on these lovely footwear.  But, like me, if you hate to wait, here's a short one line verdict: If you are a bare-foot'ie just get one, don't think twice!

11. Teas: Green and Oolong
I have always been fascinated by teas, mostly because of its ancestral following and origins than the (un)scientific studies that say they are healthy.  I have come to believe that modern scientific research should be taken with a grain (read: bagful) of salt, esp. where big bucks are involved (which, come to thing of it, is almost everything!).  So I often take refuge in following ancient methods over what science says is best.  I'll share my experiences, sure you are eager to hear them.

12. Obsession with Old Songs and Vividh Bharati
It is now completely official that I'm totally misplaced in time: my ways of life (by and large) and taste (notably in terms of music) is very very archaic.  So my unyielding obsession towards old songs should be no surprise to any.  Watch out for how I rediscovered my lost love and more craziness!

13. Meeting Old-Time Buddies
The joy of connecting with oldest of friends who remain so even in the wake of lack of proper contact and irregular communication, is something that words will always fail to explain, no  matter how hard I try.  But that doesn't mean one should not try!

14. Go-Green: Stop Getting Crap in your Snail-Mailbox
I can swear on my blog that I had a draft post on this when, about a year back, I spent some time researching on how to put an end to those useless annoying marketing bat-crap flyers (which I didn't ask for) that landed in my mailbox.  And it has worked, wonderfully. Except one that I can't put an end to.
I promise to dig out the information and share with you all.

I will add posts as and when they occur to me, hope but I you got a nice preview of upcoming posts, now just wish that I stick to the schedule here.
See you back soon enough! But wait...

Ending Note...
I realized that the post would be incomplete without some dash of music...  So I bring you a rare song from my collection.  Chances are you haven't heard of this song.  Or at least not as often. That's because it is part of an incomplete/unreleased film Picnic from the 60s.  Where did I hear it, of course Vividh Bharati! Though I cannot wish for you enjoy it as much as I did, but least I hope is you enjoy this song once.  I didn't realize Sadhana looked so gorgeous.  Maybe it is the setting of the song that's making her seem prettier and the lyrics is definitely accentuating her beauty: Kitna Rangeen Hai Ye Chaand Sitaaron Ka Samaa.
And if you are wondering then the answer is yes, I too have a feeling this will become my new loopy-song for a few weeks to come ;-)
Turn down your volume, treble seems a bit off on this one.

As usual, the music is effectively simple and lyrics, deeply meaningful (if you care to dig into them).
Singers: Asha Bhosle and Mohammed Rafi
Music  : N. Dutta (Datta Naik)
Movie  : Picnic (unreleased)

If you crave for the full version, head over to here.