20 March 2018

For good old time’s sake!!

That was four of my colleagues from mid ’90s under one roof! Just like in the ’90s, I did my level best to bring down the average IQ at that table. What if you had overheard what we were discussing? In the ’90s, that table would have been passionately arguing about constrained anchored optimization and supply chain and all that. In the ’00s, we would be probably talking about our new jobs (most of us went our own ways).

Last night, in an indication of how old we have gotten, the topic de jure was meditation versus mindfulness. Don’t ask me how we got into that. But one thing has remained the same over the years. The passion in our articulation!! Although, I think we have become more thoughtful listeners now.

The best quote of the evening came from Magesh: “You can text the text. Now can you talk the talk?”

Thank you Anand, Madhav, Karthik and Magesh for a great throwback to the yesteryears!! I could not have grown up to be whatever it is that I am today without being surrounded by smart folks like you!

19 March 2018

Those indelible ink marks – another new one from China

This is a heavy set pen. Like many fountain pen lovers, I like the pens to be heavy set. The nibs one the other hand needs to be fine for me. One thing I am realizing is that the Chinese medium nibs are not as broad as in America or Europe. But they are not as fine as in Japan either. (Clearly a medium in Japan is a fine in Europe or US).

Thanks to Raji and Karthik for letting me borrow one of their plates when we went for dinner at their place a few days back. I thought it would make for a good composition for a picture of the pen.

18 March 2018

It was all about local laws!!

The idea was to return the motorbikes to Magesh and Avijit (if you remember, they had left their bikes in my garage last Friday). I had just finished my long run this morning. The skies in Georgia could not be any bluer and the sun was out in full glory. The temperatures were high sixties promising to touch low seventies soon.

We convinced ourselves that it was against Georgia law NOT to take the bikes out for a ride on a day like this. The excuse was of course that we needed to grab a lunch outside somewhere.

The lunch place turned out to be an old haunt of ours in Dawsonville. Not because there were not any other lunch places in the thirty five odd miles between my house and the Dawsonville Tavern. It was just that none of them involved a lovely motorbike ride thru rural roads of Georgia like this one!!

18 March 2018

I needed that run today…

As I confessed to a couple of my friends in the last two days, I have a fear that I am losing interest in running. Everyday, after a couple of miles, I feel like I want to give up and come back to the starting point. Somehow, I start convincing myself everyday that I am tired and out of breath.

I was starting to question if my running days were behind me. I had imagined that I would be prevented from running due to knee issues at some point of time, but I never thought that I would lose interest in it.

Then I met Lia a few days back on the trail. As we chatted, she mentioned that she was putting in a 100 mile run this weekend. Just the other day (in fact less than six months back), she had put another one. That is 100 miles!!! In about 27 hours!! That is running for more than a day!!

I came back from that conversation convinced that I needed to change up something in my run. I figured that my problem was I was running solo. Running by myself gave me tremendous flexibility on time. But running with somebody else or in a group (like I used to many moons back) put the peer pressure and had the added benefit of making it a social interaction too.

I woke up this morning worried if I was done with running.Then I told myself if Lia can do 100 miles, I can surely do 10 miles…

That was enough to push me to run a 10 mile solo run at a 9:30 pace on a wonderful, sunny, blue sky morning!

I needed that run. Just to reassure me that I am still fighting a mental battle not a physical one. Not yet, at least!

17 March 2018

Why do we call this bird a cardinal?

Sitting in the patio, sipping some hot coffee, on this cool and rainy morning, it was a sheer pleasure watching all the cardinal couples flying around from branch to branch and the bird feeders. This particular one was sitting in the wet branch about ten yards away from me.

That got me wondering whether there is a reason we call this pretty red bird a cardinal. This is what I found – and this goes back to the days when the European settlers came to this country. This bright colored bird was new to them and it apparently reminded them of the bright red robes worn by Catholic Cardinals back home when they performed their religious duties. Further, the pronounced plumage on the head reminded them of the high headgear worn by the same Cardinals.

And that is how they named this bird a cardinal … and it has stuck…

17 March 2018

From the bartender’s corner: Gin #33 – New World Gin

I was gifted this bottle about a year back by a friend in Florida. Folks outside of USA might not be aware that St. Augustine in Florida is the oldest city in this country. Its roots go back to the very early 1500s. This gin is actually made in that city.

One more of those small batch distilleries that seem to be sprouting up all over the country, this one too has focused on the American Style Gins (and not the London Dry style) and the stress on local botanicals. To add a twist to it (perhaps as a throw back to the old habits of many centuries back), the distillery advertises how their botanicals are not ground by machine but by hand. The distillery is situated in an old power and ice building that is over a hundred years old.

Coming to the gin itself, as I mentioned, this is American Style – so the focus on juniper is less. Once I opened the bottle earlier this week, out of of sheer habit I held the bottle to my nose. I was not sure whether to expect anything from a Florida gin. (The week before the Georgia gin was not something to write home about). But I was pleasantly surprised by the floral aroma and the lemony nose that came right after that. I believe the base is cane. The botanicals (and this is not an exhaustive list) includes juniper, cassia bark, angelica, lemon and orange (my guess is peels although from the research I could not find out the details), coriander and cinnamon.

As mentioned, the nose is very smooth with the floral and citrus notes. The palate is distinctly citrusy – a mix of both the zingy lemony side as well as the softer orange-y part followed by the junipers. The finish is not very long but you can feel the traces of the spicy elements (coriander, for example).

Overall, I would give this a thumbs up. I had it neat the first evening and then with tonic water the next. I have not made any cocktails yet with it but intend to fix that problem this week 🙂

17 March 2018

Post bike ride relaxation

As enjoyable as the bike ride was, the sitting by fire with some scotch and wine with the two guys who got me into motorbiking was even more enjoyable. That was almost six hours of discussions on mostly philosophical questions.

The most intriguing topic was “What if you were told that you have one year to yourself – you do not have to worry about family responsibilities, you do not have to worry about work – you got one year to go out in the world and do whatever you want to do – what all would be in your list of things to do and why?”

Undoubtedly made all the more enjoyable for Magesh and Avijit by the fact that I have a throat infection and could not speak a lot 🙂

[In case you were worried, nobody rode after drinking. Their bikes are in our garage and they were dropped home].

13 March 2018

Those indelible ink marks – newest in my collection

A couple of years back, I was looking for a Wingsung Hero pen. It was a pen I used to use in the early eighties. Eventually, after not being able to source it from anywhere in India (or for that matter US), I had eventually found somebody in China to send it to me. For all of two dollars and thirteen cents.

Ever since then, I have become a big fan of some of the pens from China. I am finding out about new brands and boy, they are inexpensive. Of course, shipping takes a lot of time but it is worth it. I have not made friends with some of those folks in China.

This pen had caught my eye in of those emails from them for the bright fiery colors of red and black. I finally have it in my hand as of today. But I will have to wait for some time before I can use it. It has a medium nib and now I have to find out a fine one to retrofit it.

What should I use – red ink or black ink?