Mar 2005 BLOG

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4 Mar 2005: Have been at Palomar for the last couple of days. It has been a bad several nights for astronomy here as it has rained more than in several decades and maintained a cloud cover and high humidity levels. No wonder that I encountered more surface water than I have noted in my sojourns here in the last 5 years. Though I missed observing (we could not even open the dome), I enjoyed a walk around. Quickly the noise of water jumping small heights attracted me off the road and towards the lower areas. There were innumerable streams and streamlets where earlier used to be, well, normal ground. Some of them were noisy and shallow (a few cm) and several feet wide. Others were deeper (several inches) and narrow (upto a couple feet). Each had its own beauty: the later made a lot of noise as they involved several small waterfalls (a few inches tall) and the former played home to different flora along their edges. A few springs had sprung up here and there to. The resulting puddles are likely to stay around for several days.

How will the wild flowers be this year? I saw a few Spanish Broom at the foothills and many lupines on the way, but of course nothing at the higher altitudes yet. Just like Palomar (and most of SoCal) Death Valley has had a lot of rain this year - as many as 6 inches(!) in this case :-) and promises to be a prolific place for wildflowers. The Theodore Payne foundations wildflower hotline is up and will be updated every week until may.

wildflower hotline
7 Mar 2005: Finished "Saturn's Race" by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes (Tor, 2000). Not great. Too much of high technology without any conceptual backup. Mixed unnecessarily with the third world. It was missing the Larry Niven touch. Felt like deja vous with Rama. Saturn's Race
Tor SF and Fantasy
10 Mar 2005: Have been trying Mac OS X's Spakable Items to reasonable success (and almost driving Anu mad in the process). Now I can sit up in bed late at night and bark "What time is it?" and amurta answers from 10 feet away. I don't even need to open my eyes.
BTW, saw this nice handle next to a G4 fan: I think G4 iMac.
AppleScript basics
More intro stuff
Speech tidbits
11 Mar 2005: after a heroic effort (essentially lots of modules) was able to get Soap:Lite going.
Modules are under ~/perl/usr/local
A few good articles on webserving with mac webserving
12 Mar 2005: Unveiled the MMLA marathi phirate sahityalay at the Sport's day. There was reasonable response on the first day. MMLA
Also conducted the chess tournament. Only age < 15 group had entries. 8.
13 Mar 2005: Lernt of the game Zendo which seems interesting. Reminded me of Eleusis. Zendo
15 Mar 2005: Rasik has over 1000 marathi books at their site. More importantly, they have a search engine with reviews and book covers, and, most importantly, info on how to see it in devnagari even on unix.
There I learnt of the utility ttf2bdf which can convert the True Type Fonts to bdf. They had shivaji too. As a result can see some of hitguj (shivaji01 but not 05 - did not manage to convert that)
A "xset +fp /fullpath" doe the rest (and restarting the browser of course).
A search example
Have been progressing further in the engrossing "Kite runner". Hope to see Khaled Hosseini when he is in Pasadena on Friday.
The complete list of nominations for Pasadena's one city, one book were:
"Caramelo' by Sandra Cisneros.
"Easter Island' by Jennifer Vanderbes
. "Jamesland' by Michelle Huneven.
"The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini.
"The Namesake' by Jhumpa Lahiri.
"The Time Traveler's Wife' by Audrey Niffenger.
16 Mar 2005: Finished the engrossing "Kite runner". Its a great book. It deals with the frailities as well as the vagaries of life. Rarely are both these used so well in a single work. Yet, no where is there a strong local emphasis on it (as in "why did this have to happen") but they form a strong undercurrent all through. Similarly, the frank nature of Amir's narration is very well balanced. Otherwise it is easy for such books to become either overt or pervert. Time is handled extremely well and loose ends avoided. But the main reason for the power of the book is its fabric being that of a common persons with ordinary failings and yet extraordinary capabilities to hold their own which can sometimes come only from ordinaryness. The use of Farsi words adds a musical quality to it and gives us a (false?) sense of belonging as we identify some of them with Urdu labz and some with even Hindi. Some of the rural scenes and descriptions too take you back in time. Hindi movies are "bad-mouthed" in a couple of places, and in just a couple of places, the book itself seems like one.

I wonder if Americans reading it see themselves to be different from Russians almost portrayed in it. Subtle.

Highly recommended.

17 Mar 2005: Went to the first of 4 Einstein Centennial lectures. Was more historic of a perspective and hence did not hold my attention. I hope the others are different.
18 Mar 2005: Two puzzle sites found from links on mayboli puzzles
more puzzles
Went to hear Khaled Hosseini talk. He is a good speaker. Has a good sense of humour.
As I had thought, the author has picked many parts from his own life.
Dreamworks is going to make a movie out of the book.
19 Mar 2005: Went to the Zuma-Trancas canyon. Wanted to do the backbone trail as many woldflowers were reported along it. But I am not sure if thats what we did. We did see a few species, but not too many. There was a good stream flowing though. Since the rain had let up only recently, it was overall damp also. It was a goodish hike, not too strenuous. Zuma-Trancas canyon
24 Mar 2005: Anu has been reading Shrikant IngaLhaLikar's "aasamant". She mentioned an orchid which has one of its parts looking like a female insect to attract the male for pollination. It was not clear what the insect gets in return (anything other than the nectar?). If it does not, could it not have selected against going after the flower? On the net found ref. to an article by a Yadav in Hornbill, 1. Could not find the issue itself though. Sri Lanka has a beautiful stamp depicting the flower (Cottonia Peduncularis).
Cottonia Peduncularis
25 Mar 2005: Jim Gray was visiting. He had some wisdom to share:
  • There are only two things to worry about: (1) Failure, and (2) Success. Our marathi sahityalaya seems to be ailing with the latter. We now have 24 members. This is certain to lead to some good interaction. We will also be getting more books. And perhaps other media.
  • PIs should keep saying the project is going great. It is the subordinates who should say they can't work any more if it seems to be a bad one. Very relevent?
26 Mar 2005: Sameer/Supriya restarted their abhivyakti stuff with Sinhasan. didn't find it too great. Too obvious. Rather negative-sided. Others liked it though. Unnecessary sub-plot. Simhasan (1980, Marathi)
27 Mar 2005: We had the first session of the sahityalay at our place today. I had sent an email which got forwarded and we had the pleasure of meeting 7 people (3 couples and one) we did not know before. Check the library link
28 Mar 2005: Finished Issac Asimov's "End of Eternity". What started as possibly another time travel tale, quickly became a more interesting story, if only because Asimov was telling it. The number of twists he manages to put in alternate realities is amazing. An artificial many worlds scenario? End of Eternity

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