6 January 2020

An interesting dilemma… what do you think?

This news article from USA Today talks about the twins born in two different decades. One was born on Dec 31, 2019 and the other on Jan 1, 2020.

First off, congratulations to the parents. I never had twins but I suspect they are awesome fun to raise (a little more work though, I presume). (Knowing me, I would have a large excel spreadsheet of similarities and dissimilarities as they grew up).

Now to my real point. The “spreadsheet numbers guy” in me is having difficulty with the thought that the kids were born in two different decades. Two different years, yes. But two different decades? Not so fast.

The Gregorian calendar starts from Jan 1, 1 AD. (Anything before that was BC. And the previous year was 1 BC. There was no year 0). That would mean, the first decade would have lasted from Jan 1, 1 AD to Dec 31, 10 AD. The second decade would have started on Jan 1, 11 AD. And ended on Dec 31, 20 AD.

If you keep going forward, you will realize that this current decade started on Jan 1, 2011 and will end on Dec 31, 2020. Therefore, we really have not moved on to another decade. That will happen this year end.

(Of course, the non-numbers part of me wants to disregard logic and call everything that is XXX0 to XXX9 to be a decade and just sheepishly admit that our first decade was a year short)

What do you think?



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3 January 2020

From the poems of Abdul Hameed Adam

This particular rendition is by Ghulam Ali.

“saki sharaab la ki tabiyat udaas hai
mutrib rubab utha ki tabiat udaas hai
hai husn ka fusoon bhi ilaj-e-fasurdagi
rukh se naqab utha ki tabiyat udaas hai”

Before I attempt to explain…
Some background about the poet: Pakistan born, employed by the Indian Army, served in Iran and Iraq during the second World War, took to heavy drinking after seeing the violence of the War

Also “saki” refers to the lady who serves you the drink at the tavern

Now my attempt to explain a language that I have only a fleeting exposure to…

“Saki, please bring the wine: for I feel depressed today
Musician, please pick up your instrument: for I feel depressed today
The charm in your beauty is the only medicine for my distress
Please lift your veil, my love: for I feel depressed today”

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2 January 2020

This is why I do not read news any more

Was trying to check how the market did today and this popped up in finance.yahoo.com Really? We are surveying the public on whether somebody is guilty or innocent? Are we back to the medieval days of meting out justice? I bet most people who have an opinion on Ghosn do not even know how to pronounce his name. Also probably cannot point out where the country he has fled to (Lebanon) is on a world map.

Who cares about my opinion on whether he is guilty or not? Why not let the legal and jurisdiction system take its course?

I understand that some may be frustrated with the time taken by such systems or the system itself. But taking opinions from people like me who understand very little of the actual subject matter let alone the complications of inter-country jurisdiction and laws is just a way of whipping of passions for no good, if you ask me.

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1 January 2020

Have you thought about this for your New Years’ resolutions?

Happy New Year’s day to all of you. As in every year, I will “wish you enough”. But before that a couple of questions. Most people make (or attempt to, at least) New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you will do too.

Here are a couple of look back questions before we look forward. These are for your self-reflection and no need to answer in the Comments section. But feel free to if you so wish.

Q1. How do you think the Jan 1, 2020 version of you is slightly better than the Jan 1, 2019 version? What habits have you grown, achievements you have reached in the last one year that makes you feel good about yourself? What have you learnt about yourself as a person thru this?

Q2. How are you going to make time for some of your resolutions in 2020? Specifically, what will you give up, reduce etc so as to free up time? It is certainly my perspective that without giving up on something, we cannot make time for something new in a 24-hour bound day.

May your New Years Resolutions come true!!


And here is my customary “I wish you enough” …

Again, credits are to Larry who had “wished me enough” for the first time many years back. On that note, Larry, an extra special wish for you this year – “Kick that cancer’s butt once and for all this year, my friend”.

“I wish you enough!”
By Bob Perks
I never really thought that I’d spend as much time in airports as I do. I don’t know why. I always wanted to be famous and that would mean lots of travel. But I’m not famous, yet I do see more than my share of airports.

I love them and I hate them. I love them because of the people I get to watch. But they are also the same reason why I hate airports. It all comes down to “hello” and “goodbye.”I must have mentioned this a few times while writing my stories for you.

I have great difficulties with saying goodbye. Even as I write this I am experiencing that pounding sensation in my heart. If I am watching such a scene in a movie I am affected so much that I need to sit up and take a few deep breaths. So when faced with a challenge in my life I have been known to go to our local airport and watch people say goodbye. I figure nothing that is happening to me at the time could be as bad as having to say goodbye.

Watching people cling to each other, crying, and holding each other in that last embrace makes me appreciate what I have even more. Seeing them finally pull apart, extending their arms until the tips of their fingers are the last to let go, is an image that stays forefront in my mind throughout the day.

On one of my recent business trips, when I arrived at the counter to check in, the woman said, “How are you today?” I replied, “I am missing my wife already and I haven’t even said goodbye.”
She then looked at my ticket and began to ask, “How long will you…Oh, my God. You will only be gone three days!” We all laughed. My problem was I still had to say goodbye.

But I learn from goodbye moments, too.

Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her departure and standing near the security gate, they hugged and he said, “I love you. I wish you enough.” She in turn said, “Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy.”

They kissed and she left. He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say goodbye to someone knowing it would be forever?”

“Yes, I have,” I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me.

So I knew what this man experiencing.

“Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever goodbye?” I asked.
“I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, the next trip back would be for my funeral,” he said.

“When you were saying goodbye I heard you say, “I wish you enough.” May I ask what that means?”
He began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more.”When we said ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them,” he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Goodbye.”
He then began to sob and walked away.

To each and every one of you that have influenced me in so many ways over the years….. I wish you enough!

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22 December 2019

Strength in Stillness

This book gets a big thumbs down from me. The title “The Power of Transcendental Meditation” made me believe that it will give an idea about what Transcendental Meditation is and how it works. In reality other than talking about there is a “mantra”, all the author does is gives quotes from others and examples of others. The quotes come from very big names like Oprah and Seinfeld and all that. The whole book could have been summarized in couple of pages – “See all these big guys have benefited from this. So can you”.

When it gets to actually talking about how to do it, the book only offers that you get yourself a teacher. Otherwise you cannot learn it. Almost made me feel like I paid twelve dollars to buy me some kind of marketing materials.

This does not mean that Transcendental Meditation does not work or that getting a teacher is not the right thing to do – just that it was not worth spending the time and money to read a book of other people’s quotes and any analysis (if that is even the word I am looking for) that shallow, in my opinion.

I have personally found books by Eckhart Tolle and Jon Kabat-Zinn to be much more thought provoking and insightful.

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20 December 2019

Nothing beats a Friday evening like this…

First time I heard this song was about 20 years back. I was mesmerized by the tune as well the voice of the singer. Initially, I had the impression that this was a Kashmiri song. Much later I realized that the language is mostly Punjabi with some mixture of Dogri words, I believe. The voice of Hadiqa Kiani – from Pakistan – is absolutely sterling. The depth of her voice as well as her ability to move thru the notes is captivating. I will be remiss if I did not mention that the use of flute in this song is wonderful. The flute is the most appropriate instrument to emphasize the melancholic tune.

“Boohey barian
Ena lee kanda tap key,
Awa gi hawa ban key,
Boohey barian… hayee,
Boohey barian

Chand charayaan tey,
Saray looki pey takday,
Dongay paniyaan chey fer,
Deeway pae jalday”

I am not sure of all the words… but I believe she is referring to doors and the windows in the first sentence and telling her lover to come thru doors, windows and walls. Waft in like the wind to my presence, I believe is what she is saying. The last part is completely beyond me. I know Chand means moon. Is Dongay a boat? Paniyaan is water, I am fairly sure. I will leave you to reconstruct the meaning in your imagination…

Maybe somebody who understands Punjabi or Dogri can help out?

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20 December 2019

The Geography of Genius

Eric Weiner starts with an interesting observation: Different parts of the world have had short intervals of time (about fifty years or so) during which, that area produced a lot of geniuses in a burst mode. And then completely stopped. Never did again (with one exception). He gives examples of Athens, Hangzhou, Florence, Edinburgh, Calcutta, Vienna (twice) and the Silicon Valley.

This book chronicles his journeys to those places in quest of analyzing if there are common threads among them. Or at least understand what made those bursts of time happen and then end. Perhaps to get a clue into where it might happen again or even try to artificially create one.

Net net, there is no one formulaic way. Different places had different agents of catalysis. If it was simplicity for Athens, it was chaos for Calcutta, practicality for Edinburgh and so on.

Overall, a great read if you think of it as a journey for Eric where he has put together a lot of interesting thoughts, research quotes and conversations. If you are looking for a scientific analysis into correlation of variables to predict genius, this is not the book you are looking for.

Some interesting things I learnt:

1. Language not only determines how we describe the world but it shapes how we perceive the world. Russians can detect more shades of blue than Americans in a spectrum,. Their language has more words to describe various shades of blue.
2. Humor and creative thinking use the same cognitive muscles (bisociative shock). We find something funny if it is unexpected yet still logically airtight.
3. We recall information associated with incomplete tasks much more readily than other types of information. Something about an unsolved problem boosts our memory and sharpens our thinking. This is why waiters can remember customer orders so well till the food hits the table. Then they have very poor recollection.
4. Ary Goldberger discovered something unexpected about the human heart: a healthy heartbeat is not regular and rhymes but chaotic and irregular. He also showed that extreme regularity, not irregularity, predicted imminent cardiac arrest.

And some interesting quotes:

1. Picasso – “Computers are stupid. They only give you answers.”
2. Einstein – “If we knew what we were doing, we wouldn’t call it research”
3. David Hume – Treatise of Human Nature – “Human beings are not, and never have been, governed by their rational capacities. Passion determines what we want; reason determines how we obtain it”
4. Steve Jobs – “When the lightbulb was invented, no one complained it was too dim”

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15 December 2019

Great words from Tolkien

My friend Stephen and I were having an email exchange (about his passion and such). He reminded me of a couple of Tolkien’s stanzas that I had almost forgotten… Wonderful words…

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”