Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Memorable Scenes

There are moments. Then there are poetic moments...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bloody Hell!!

So I developed something like a stomach bug on Friday. Still I decided to go down to the Cape early on Saturday. But since I felt too lazy to rack and take my own bicycle, I had to rent one in Dennis. After about an hour of biking -- it was actually a bit chilly -- I decided to call it quits and returned to Boston. It wasn't the weather. I just wasn't into it because of the stomach thingy. I was supposed to have gone to David's party Saturday night in Inman Square but at the last minute decided to stay home and chill.

Anyway.

So I had nothing to do Saturday night. Sudhakar was out in Europe. The dollar was down. Didn't feel like watching TV or reading a book. So I whipped out my pipe -- no, not that one -- and started going through a 3rd of a pack of tobaccy. I am not a smoker. I will probably light up a couple of times a month for a few "look up at the ceiling and puff in contentment" pulls of fragrance. Although I will have to stay away from my pipes -- except that one, of course -- when Luna, my friend Raina's tabby, comes over for a 10-day stay in May. Yay! Hey, that rhymed pretty good: May. Yay. Hey. See? No?

Never mind.

Now when I am home on a Saturday evening, I don't like it. As I puffed away dreamily, I was thinking of my pretty neighbor upstairs who was moving around a bit. Was she with someone? Is that banging noise I hear...Oh, my goodness! That someone has her up against a wall!! No...wait...she is alone. Or is she? Yeah, definitely, someone else is with her. Yes, by jove, I can hear voices! No wait, that came from that other dude who lives across from me. So he is with a guy? And on and on. I decided that I was envious of my friend David. His apartment is the topmost one in his building. He probably has nightmares too...but of a less confusing nature. Lucky blighter!

Anyway.

I could have put a movie on. But I didn't. I could have froze my ass off on the roofdeck in the pretext of reading something. But I didn't. I could have gone out for a walk. But I didn't. Well, my neighbor eventually went out and I decided to peel an orange. Later, I decided to eat it.


I even wondered if conducting 'research' with a neighbor could get me in trouble...

No, Sirree. I certainly don't do well if I stay home Saturday night. Bloody hell!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Indian Premier League (IPL)

So the Rajasthan Royals beat the Deccan Chargers in a close match today in Hyderabad, India.

Y'know, I will be the first to admit that I was pining for Shane Warne's side to win...and they did!! Warnie himself brought the match to a sensational close. Although as the Captain of the Rajasthan Royals -- he is the only non-Indian skipper in the newly formed Indian Premier League (IPL) -- I had expected him to come in to bat earlier. Afridi claimed 3 important wickets for the Deccan Chargers. That was a bit ironic since it was Afridi who had earlier complained that American cheerleaders out on the boundary were being a distraction. I guess the girls weren't distracting him that time. Still his team, the Chargers, lost.

Too bad for the magnanimous Laxman's side: the Deccan Chargers. Today's loss is their 3rd consecutive one in the IPL's debut season. Wait a minute! Being from Madurai, should I be supporting the Chennai Super Kings who have so far won both the matches they have played?! Well, the Super Kings are gonna be playing Kolkata on Saturday. But I likely will be down in the Cape...

Speaking of cheerleaders, the Washington Redskins cheerleaders who are currently in India to train Indian women on the sport of cheerleading will be returning home next week. Yay! I miss them already. I can't predict the future of cheerleading in India but it will likely remain in a much more conservative version rather than the "bare, heaving, alabaster buxoms" version evident so far.

Any which way you look, it looks like non-Indians are the ones making the biggest impact in the actual games, primarily the Australian players (no wonder there)...and Brendon McCullum. I will tell you: that McCullum kid is something. But then, for only six weeks of play, these guys are being paid big money by the IPL, the likes of which have only been seen in Football and Rugby so far. No wonder McCullum's national teammates, now recently arrived in England for a clash with the Brits and the Scots, are being rueful about not being in India.

I am not sure of the long-term outlook for the IPL. I will tell you this: India certainly has surpassed herself in introducing such a league to professional Cricket!

How the Earth was Made (A brief DVD review)



I first watched this show on the History channel at the beginning of last winter and liked it immediately. So I pre-ordered the DVD on amazon right away. It arrived last week and is currently making the rounds in my office!

Many a time, I have visualized how our precocious planet formed and evolved based on paleobiological evidence. I always get a feeling of euphoria whenever I imagine a pristine Earth with dynamics that have been changing over mind-numbing time scales. Well, the graphics in this show come pretty close to my own imagination.

The playback, divided by mostly uneven time segments, starts at around 4.4 billion years ago and eventually works its way to the last ice age before briefly dwelling on the planet's future. There is a time slider that briefly appears at the start of each time segment. Yes, dinosaurs are mentioned and shown but only briefly. Yup, stromatalites are in there as well along with Trilobites. It should be noted that the Cambrian Explosion and the Carboniferous are mentioned. For some reason, I was surprised to learn that granite first formed several billion years ago.

Other subjects discussed in depth include plate tectonics (continents, mountains, etc.), land inhabitation by flora and marine animals and super-volcanoes. The DVD ends with a bunch of scientists dwelling on the future of Earth. I decided not to read too much into their predictions as I won't be around if/when what they predict happens.

Further Reading: Paleobiology with evolutionary milestones across geological time

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Cape


So I was recently chatting with a girl online when she asked me why I was so fascinated with Cape Cod and the surrounding areas. So I thought about it and sent her a reply. She said that she found my reply "soulful". So I decided that the Cape should be a subject for my next blog post. And what better time to write about it than in Spring.

I go down to Cape Cod Spring through late Fall. I have been doing so for many years now. So what's the fascination? Oh, I don't know...


Lazy kettle ponds at high noon with the occasional buzz of an itty-bitty insect and the distant call of birds.


Lighthouses under the moonlight.


Beaches with sand dunes. Tip: For best results, take off your flip-flops. Bring a kite.


Scrubby, oceanside forests.


A long, breezy bike trail that runs by beautiful ponds, dense woodlands, the National Seashore Visitor's Center and several ice cream shops.


Of course, there is the ever-present shimmering ocean with its many moods...probably what Sudhakar and Dan are discussing in this picture.

What else? Well, we have the small-town feel of the communities there -- lively Orleans comes to mind right away, boat houses, great seafood and other nuances that are distinctly Cape Cod. Incidentally, life in the Cape also reminds me of some of Enid Blyton's works that my brother and I grew up on.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring Training 2008 - Part II

Here is the first part. To recap:

1. I am following a periodization plan with the following phases in that order: GPP, Strength, BC and Hypertrophy.
2. I just completed the Strength phase which comprised of the following program design:

Session 1: Back Squats (10 sets of 3 repetitions).
Session 2: Weighted Dips or Push Presses (10x3).
Session 3: Barbell Rows or Weighted Chins (10x3).

How did the Strength phase turn out?

1. I seem to have favored the Push Presses and Barbell Rows to their alternatives. I kept adding weight on all movements in each successive session, which means I got stronger. 245 lbs for 10 sets of 3 reps on the back squat is very good!
2. I didn't take the 4th week off as I had planned. I am taking a few days off now. I have to because of a nagging ligament strain in my right ankle from a hiking "mishap" earlier this year.
3. I also got ambitious after the 2nd week and added a second exercise for 5 Sets of 5 Reps bringing the total training volume to 15 sets. I was completing my sessions in less than 40 minutes toward the end of the 5th week.

End result: I have trained almost 5 weeks straight with 2 to 3 sessions per week. I am stronger, my jawline appears slightly more defined and my muscle bellies -- especially lower quads and shoulders/upper back -- have deepened.

Next: The Body Composition (BC) Phase

I had originally intended to start the BC phase with a session of sprinting. The weather in Boston for the next few days is definitely favorable for track work.



But because of the right ankle, I am going to delay the sprinting. Instead I am going to substitute one of the sessions with low-impact complexes. I will also add a 3rd supplementary exercise to the weight training sessions. So:

Session 1: Complexes (5 to 7 sets of 5 to 6 repetitions)
Session 2: Back Squats (10x3), Pullovers (5x3), Ab Pulldowns (5 sets for time)
Session 3: Weighted Dips (7x3), Weighted Chins (7x3), Static/Dynamic Back Extensions (4 to 6 sets)

Leisure bicycling begins next weekend. Call it a feeder or recovery workout for the lower body in addition to the advantage of being out in the sun. I am not sure when the sprinting will kick in. I am just going to go by how my ankle feels. So I might start with some running up on steps -- plenty of those near where I live, including in my apartment building -- to first test my ankle.

I don't know when the BC phase will end. It could happen by the 1st week of June (I go to India during the 2nd week) although sprinting will continue throughout the summer and into early Fall. So I guess that I will begin the sprinting first, assess my progress and then decide on an end date.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Isn't this blogging stuff great?




There are so many blogs out there and I don't really write enough about any specific topic. Besides a lot of my posts are probably not that interesting. For one thing, I don't promote controversy or take risks in my writing. So I don't really wonder about people not commenting in here. I expect that my posts will get bolder and more interesting as the years roll by. If interaction with readers occurs, great. But I don't plan on spending that much time sitting before a computer and responding to reader comments. I would rather be out on my bicycle down in the Cape, ogling girls at the beach or hanging out in Harvard Square...ogling girls. I primarily put this blog together as a way to gather my thoughts, look back in time to read my own posts and wonder about my state of mind when I wrote those posts. In that way, this blog serves as a great log or diary.

My next post will be on the progress I have made on my Spring training program so far as well as a note on the design of the next phase of the program due to start next week. Next year, I will likely review all this data, think about how close it got me to my goal of reaching a body fat percent of around 10 (down from 16) and then make adjustments as necessary for Spring training 2009.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Pres and the Pope

Apparently President Bush has met with the Pope. Hey, everyone, the war in Iraq is gonna end, like, now.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/04/16/america/16pope.4.php

An excerpt from the above article:

President George W. Bush welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to the White House Wednesday morning, telling the pontiff that Americans "need your message that all of life is sacred."

Yeah, everyone except himself!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fidelity Investor's Quarterly

This is a gem of a magazine. Anyone who has some sort of account with Fidelity will receive this magazine once every quarter. I ignored it for the first few years. Then in the summer of 2006, I somehow ended up casually browsing through one and was immediately hooked. In addition to the usual articles providing financial advice and tips, the magazine comes with an assortment of case studies to extrapolate how well the financial plans of everyday folks ultimately worked out. The latter make up for the most entertaining reads! Now I always look forward to the next installment of the magazine.

Here is an example of what you can find in the magazine:

Plotting a new course in retirement

You have to agree that it makes for fascinating reading!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Harold and Kumar 2!!



Ha! Ha! Ha! I can't wait to watch this one! The first movie, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, was surprisingly intelligent for a movie from this genre. I was pretty sure that Berardinelli had reviewed the first movie but he hasn't. So I emailed him about it yesterday and received a reply stating that he might possibly get to watch/review the first movie before catching the upcoming movie on the big screen.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mobile phone use okayed on planes?!


Yeah, whateva...

This could be a disaster depending on the route you are travelling. I am quite sure most travellers have the good sense to not disturb their fellow travellers. But I am definitely worried about that last leg to India from any airport. Well, I am going to the sub-continent for a week in the middle of June. So I will be finding out, I guess. Oh, brother!


"Shut up!! You son of a mangy dog!"

Occasionally though, listening to someone talk on their cell phones can be entertaining as you get to find out about the various levels of "dead as a doorknob" convo that exists out in the world. This, however, gets tiring quickly. But some conversations can be enlightening in a different sort of way. When I was returning to Boston from NYC on the Amtrak a couple of months ago, there was a ditzy looking older blonde seated behind me. Anyway, she received a phone call from, I am guessing, a nephew. They were on the call for 20 minutes. He was confused about some chick and she was giving him what sounded like some sensible tips without being patronizing. And her voice was so mellow (sigh). So the conversation wasn't too shabby. Still, at one point, I decided to make a trip to the dining car to get myself a cold one.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Run, Lolo, Run!


Mmmm...

In February, my brother and I were watching the Visa Championship series -- Track & Field events -- at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston. Since I admire speed and raw power, I am naturally drawn only to the sprint-based events like the 60m and Pole Vault. Lolo Jones caught my eye instantly. While I believe that Chinese women have the delicate facial features that define ultimate female beauty, African women, IMHO, have the capacity to have the best bodies of all the human races. Lolo is mixed race but I saw absolutely no weaknesses on her. Plus she has a great attitude to boot!


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

2077

No, I am not involved in the making of a movie called "2077". Nor is it a prediction of when I expect to acquire Sixth Sense syndrome. 2077 is the number of calories I have been consuming as part of my nutrition plan for Spring Training 2008. I don't nitpick at every aspect of my diet. For instance, I treated myself to a glass of blush wine last night. And then I brushed my teeth and went to sleep like a baby. Good manly stuff!

I use a log at http://www.calorie-count.com/. Very useful! The foods here come to approximately 2077 calories.

But...I don't eat the Quinoa and the Chicken everyday. I eat the Quinoa -- or, for a change, Pasta with roasted garlic and olive oil -- only on non-training days. I eat the Chicken only on training days. By the way, the Chicken is pan roasted in its own fat -- I add only a dab of olive oil and a select bunch of spices to it. The rest of the items in the list are consumed 6 days out of the week. So I have been eating anywhere from 1700 to 2400 calories a day. My diet gets a bit out of control on Sundays, which is when I visit my folks. But I let that be...

Cheese free and ready in 5 minutes!

1. Fiber, a whopping 75% of the recommended daily intake, is obtained primarily from the bananas (2 to 3 medium), blueberries (1 cup) and a big salad. Yay! During the BC phase -- due to begin toward the middle of April -- I will add a second salad along with either Chicken or Beef. But more on that after it starts happening.

2. I eat 4 whole eggs a day. None of that egg white only stuff.

3. Notice that there is no fruit juice in the list. I don't drink fruit juices anymore.

4. It's official! I have completely switched to organic coffee! I was also pleasantly surprised to recently find that we stock organic coffee at my office as well.


Allegro's Organic Italian Roast, at a whopping $12 a package, has a brewed texture like butter. Although, after brewing, it does not seem to be as aromatic as non-organic coffee (around $6 a package).

5. I also consume 4 servings of goat milk in a week. Each serving has 33% calcium. I never bother about my calcium intake but I thought I would mention it anyway.


Mmmm. Luxuriously delicious!