Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Laches and Charmides

Amazon link -

Thanks to Charles Pletcher (Chuck) for generously giving me this book to read. What a delight to read. It took me more than a month to finish this tiny book. It is a great pleasure to read this book, but it is quite heavy material if one wants to see the hidden layer. The best part about the book was how the sentences were constructed and how conversation was written. Here, this is Kudos to Chuck who insisted that translation matters a lot.

This book is a good introduction to Socratic method of understanding a topic. More about the Socratic method can be read here. I need to do more reading in this area to fully understand it. The best part of this book is that it was both philosophical and literary in nature. It was educational without being didactic. A fun to read, definitely to be included in one's summer reading list :)

And i think, one can clearly see the "thass" being applied in practice by none other than one of the masters of thass aka Socrates.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Life in June 13 - Aug 14

A day before Indian independence day. There is a new rendition of National Anthem with full song of Tagore sahab. You can listen it here -

Two months, wow a long time. The last 7 updates cover the important things that happened. This post will cover the minor events -

June 14, birthday. Came and went. Took off but there was nothing special about this day. This will change next year.

Lost my wallet at Stanford and later found it. I am indeed lucky. I think this is the karma of returning that 100$ note.

Been very busy at work overall. Very very busy.

Spent 4th of July BBQing at Guy's place. Went to watch fireworks at Dumbarton after that. Pretty good day.

TV Series - Burn notice and White collar. Masala shows but i still watch them.

New board games at office.

Turkey Bowl - Camera cinema club movie of June. A very indie movie which if you hear the plotline sounds boring but its implementation is very interesting. Camera cinema club is getting diverse which makes it more fun. Turkey Bowl needs to be seen just as a lesson in cinema.

Rakhi was yesterday. Spent the day at Deepti didi's house with local family and good food.

Cant remember what else happened. Whenever i think, i only see myself spending time in office.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Movies in Aug 2011

Movies in Aug were seen in an interesting fashion. Because now i have a tv, the chance of watching good movies serendipitously has gone up. Here is the list

Harry potter and Deathly Hallows Part 2. The final installment was seen at IMAX San Jose and it was a very interesting experiment to see that movie at IMAX. The circular dome screen creates a special effect all in itself. Regarding the movie - There is a 30 min sequence when they try to protect Hogwarts, that is very well done. Every HP movie is better than previous and it is HP, it has to be watched.

The Whistleblower -
Whistleblower was the camera cinema club movie of Aug. It is based on a true story about a woman who tried to expose the sex trade happening under the hood of a UN peace keeping mission. Rachel Weisz plays that part and she delivers a great performance. Its the director's debut. Kudos to her for making this movie.

My Beautiful Laundrette -
This was one of my tv discoveries. On a Sunday morning, i was working on my laptop and as usual the TV was on. After some random channel surfing, i hop on a channel and i see Saeed Jafrey. Since i do not have an Indian channel subscription, i am curios. After reading the description which says that this movie has Daniel Day Lewis and is made by Stephen Frears. That's it, i have to watch it now. And boy! what a movie. Daniel Day Lewis is very young yet his performance is very strong. The story is about racial tension in UK with gay and other subjects explored. Highly recommended if you like DDL or Stephen Frears.

Koran By Heart
An HBO documentary about a competition on who knows Kuran the best and who can recite it with correct pronunciation. Made it in the style of spelling Bee, it follows the life of 3-4 contestants, how they prepare, what they want to do and interviews with their parents. What makes it special (and different than Spelling Bee) is the Koran or the religious aspect. What is the take of organizers of this competition on growing religious fundamentalism, why a father wants his daughter to learn Koran and what all he is willing to do to secure a good education for her. There are many interesting insights into this documentary.

Stanford summer theater

Links -
Stanford Summer theater -

This season, SST is having plays on theme Memory. They had two plays and i have seen both of them. Old Times by Harold Pinter and Seneca's Oedipus.

Old Times -
A very interesting play, a play where it takes some momentum to get over the inertia and once its gone, its a delight to watch. I think the story is very well scripted and its sensual nature keeps everyone at the edge. There is so much electricity in the air and no one knows where it is going. The play summary can be read on wikipedia

Oedipus -
Since i had read the book, i was familiar this time with the story line. But everyone knows about the story of Oedipus. The fun lies in how it is going to be narrated because by no means it is no easy to dramatize it. In Oedipus, a big shout out for the protagonist who played Oedipus, he had atleast thousands of lines to remember and speak them as continuous monologues at a high pitched voice and he was just very good at it. One of the big thing in plays is how the set can be used with minimal prop and in this one, it has been done in a very clever manner.

Acting is good in both plays. The plays were quite cheap 20$ a ticket. Looking forward to more of them.

Stanford Tennis

Thanks to Nikesh, i have now seen a live professional Tennis match. It was Stanford women's annual Tennis tournament and we got to see the final match played between Serena Williams and Bartolli. It was not only my first live Tennis match but first live professional sport anywhere.

I liked it a lot. It was a sunny cool Sunday with clear blue skies and the match was at 12 noon - a time when it is just beautiful to sit outside. We were at the top row which gave us a good top view and enough distance to pass comments at the match. Audience in Tennis match differ a lot by audience in a cricket match. Since audience is so close to the court, there is no loud music or drum rolls going on. Infact the referee had to step in couple of times to ask audience to be quite while the match was in play. And people also don't like others talking while the play is going on.

We liked it so much that we decided to stick around for the doubles finals as well, i do not remember who played. But overall it was a great experience. Watching the play raw and seeing them sweat it out, one realizes is that it is not an easy game. And as audience, it is so easy for us to comment and say that she didn't play well but in reality those players are giving everything there.

From Mixed bag

From Mixed bag

From Mixed bag

From Mixed bag

Friday, August 12, 2011

A song of ice and fire - 2nd post

Last time when i wrote about A song of ice and fire, i had read only three books. Now, i have read five. There was a brief pause in between 4 and 5. Both 4 and 5 took longer for me to finish than the previous three. Partly i was more busy at work, but partly also because they were not as good as 1,2 and 3.

4th was quite a difficult one to read because there was no Tyrion. 5th had some great parts but i had more expectations from Tyrion. Jon Snow saved a lot in 5. Overall i am not super happy but i will be content if GRRM can now say that he is mostly done with the setup and all that remains now is execution on all sub plots. Here are a few reasons why 4th and 5th are below par -

1. Lots of travelling. All characters are going from Point A to point B and they never reach B and GRRM spends lots and lots of time in the journey. Imagine the Arya Stark chapters in 2 and 3 and now instead of one Arya, there are 7 people (Brienne, Tyrion, Frog, Sam, Jaime, Griff and The Iron King's brother, yeah that is 6) and all of them get lost.

2. Very few killing. Lets face it - 1,2 and 3 were interesting because (a) there were many deaths and (b) Good people died too. In 4 and 5, there are very few deaths and all good people are still alive (with some bits of approximation). Death keeps everybody on their toes and made the novel so much more.

3. Varys and Littlefinger are almost absent. My fav part of the series has been the time when Tyrion is at the Casterly Rock and the conversations that happen between Tyrion and Varys. Littlefinger was always a suspicious character but in 3 and 4, his nature is revealed better and more of it was wanted. He is left out of all fun at the Vale.

4. Many new characters are introduced and every character gets less POV time because of that. We need quality not quantity.

5. The woman with Dragons - WTF are you doing ? The woman with dragon tattoo did more than you.

Things that did work in 4 and 5 -
1. I think, without a doubt Reek in 5 was one of the better reads. GRRM has generated sympathy for a villian by creating a bigger villian. And Jon Snow's chapters were also very well done. People who stayed at a place had a much better story to tell.
2. Bran, more Bran was needed in 5. Atleast one more chapter was required. Same goes for Arya. Both Bran and Arya have atleast temporarily reached a destination from where they dont want to leave. More details would have been better.
3. New constructs such as the drowned God, what is dead can never die, wargs, god with many faces were all interesting constructs and good to read.

A very expensive rug

From Knitting

A rug made with Alpaca yarn (130$) and size 50 needles (50$). For the size of it, it just took 8-9 hrs to finish it along with drinking sips of coffee and good conversations.

Standing desk

I have moved to a standing desk at office. Lets do the usual round up of questions?

Why? Were you having back pain?
No, I was not having any back pain. I should not have to wait for back pain to move to a standing desk model. This will be a preventive measure.

Then Why?
There are two reasons - (1) I was never happy with my monitor's height while sitting, i always had to bend my neck. (2) I was just bored of sitting. Two consecutive weekends and all week days included on one chair, it was just too boring to sit and work.

How does it feel now?
Quite good. My feet still hurt when end of day comes. My bar stool option to sit at a height is makeshift and not comfortable. But standing is lot more fun. As more time passes, i am getting more adjusted.

The making of standing desk was quite fun. A genuine standing desk comes at about 700$+ range. I just got an IKEA coffee table and put it over my desk to move to a standing desk model. I also bought a bar stool as my standing option but later found chair in office that can be used as well. My total investment was $20 for the table, $70 for bar stool and $30 for the monitor riser = 120$.

Here is how it looks

SF Moma

Writing blog after such a long time, a month. And you know the best thing about it, this is coming as an inner call. This blog is the space where my mind wants to release the data so that it can consume more. A data transfer from one hard drive to another :)
So, here we go.

Went to SF Moma almost a month ago. It was my second visit to that museum. I have been just meaning to go there for a long time. There was Getrude Stein exhibition going on which included Matisse, Picasso and many more.

Modern art has always been elusive to me, for the most part the questions lie in two different buckets - (a) What is the artist trying to convey with this portrait and (b) Is this really an art worthy of exhibiting.

Initially whenever i looked at a painting of static objects such as flowers or apples, i used to wonder that it is only an apple, whats so great about it. But then later when i realized how difficult it is for me to draw/paint an apple, i realized that it is not that easy either.

The one section which i enjoy the most at MOMA is their photography exhibition. These are photographs of real people/places captured in a manner that one can stare at it endlessly. The idea that time has been framed, that the emotion is captured makes photography truely a great art and one that atleast i can appreciate.

There was also a friday talk at office by Barbara on the Modern art subject and that fueled me to go to MOMA.