24 June 2017

This is why grocery shops are not my forte…

Sharmila and Natasha are in Dallas. I stayed back in Atlanta to take care of a few things – including visiting Nikita, who is in a college now for some summer course in North Carolina. Nikita, apparently is running low on some supplies – among which, is potato chips. Sharmila explained to me in great detail how to find out where the chips are in our grocery store and that I was to pick up a large bag if I could find one or a pre-packed box of smaller bags if I could find one.

I had the picture all worked out in my mind how a bag of chips would look like and how a box of chips would look like. There was going to be one of them and I was to pick it.

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men go pretty much the way Robert Burns had predicted. Moment I entered the grocery shop, I froze. Apparently, “look straight as you enter” is not a definitive instruction. Especially when there are multiple doors to enter and all oriented in different directions.

Eventually, I bumbled my way to the aisle that said “Potato Chips”. And my sharp eyes were looking for either a bag or a box of that particular variety of chips like a hungry hawk would be scouting for a dead rat from point blank range.

Aha! Found the bag!!

Alas, that moment of euphoria was quickly drowned by the next discovery I made.

Wait a minute! There is a box too next to it!!!

Now what do I do? The dratted grocery store had both kinds!! She never told me what to do if I found both. I have no idea how the priority order works for this algorithm.

And it is too early to wake her up in Dallas!!

Hmmmm…. I tell you – a grocery store and I – never have gotten along… and never will…

23 June 2017

A logic puzzle after a long time…

Found an interesting one from my friend Prodipta Chatterjee. Took me a few minutes till I realized that the trick is to not think of it as other problems of similar descriptions… Try it…

From a bag that has 26 bills (of three denominations – $1, $2 and $5), you pick out 20 of them blindfolded. You are guaranteed (probability = 1) that you will have at least one $1 bill AND two $2 bills and five $5 bills.

You have to solve for the following question: How much total money is there in the bag?

21 June 2017

Some very interesting and uncommon words…

Came across some interesting words. How many of these do you know?

1. I have a friend – Narayan Venkatasubramanyan – who was once invited to create one of those Sunday New York Times crosswords. I am sure you know a lot of people who are very good at solving them. Maybe you are one of them. What is the English word for somebody who is adept at creating or solving crossword puzzles?

2. You have heard of being addicted to alcohol, to smoking and all that. Did you know that you can get addicted to tea? In fact there is an English word which means somebody who is addicted to drinking tea. Do you know what that word is?

3. You must have seen that when people sign their signature, usually they put in a flourish at the end – a long line, a curved design, two dots and what have you. Earlier, it was put in to prevent forgery by putting some uniqueness in the signature. What is the English word that means that flourish you put at the end of a signature?

4. There is a single English word that means a striptease performer. What is it?

5. I need to research more to find out why it is so but there is an English word to describe all books printed before the year 1501. (Very early stages of printing). Have you heard of that word?

17 June 2017

Half marathon on a warm Saturday morning

Started the run by myself not sure how much I was going to put in. After the first mile, ran into Samaresh running from the other side. Turned around and ran with him. He was clipping at a pretty good rate. The snake he had seen a mile before might have something to do with it 🙂

After we ran for four miles together, he left having completed his longest run in quite some time. I went back to the trail to put in another eight miles.

That 13.1 miles (21Km) took 2 hours and 15 minutes in 86 deg F (30 deg C). The sight breeze and shade in the trail took most of the pain out of the heat…

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17 June 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #14: Gustaf Navy Strength Gin

First, some history behind “Navy Strength”. Back in the days, all English sailors were given their ration of gin everyday in the high seas. I need to go back and do my research, but I think they might have been given twice a day of a serving each time. The challenge the sailors had faced was that gin – which was often stored close to the gun powder in the down floors – would spill (usually accidentally due to the weather in the high seas) and render the gun powder unusable.

Of course, trust the English genius to come up with a solution that had nothing to do with further separation of their storage or anything like that. The solution was to increase the alcohol content of the gin (reducing the water). Sure enough, at 114 proof (57% alcohol by volume), you can mix gin with gun powder and the gun powder would still fire. There is no written record of how serpentine its path was as it weaved thru the sky 🙂

Gustaf, therefore, is much stronger than normal gin and comes with its big kick and a very strong juniper edge. While the name is Swedish, this is actually made in Minnesota. In the northern most distillery in the lower 48 states of the USA – called Far North Distillery. It does have Swedish roots – the distiller’s grandfather was an immigrant from Sweden – called Gustaf – and settled in Minnesota.

The base alcohol is made from Winter Rye. And the eleven botanicals used include juniper, coriander, fennel, meadowsweet, lemons and grains of paradise. One uniqueness of this gin and distillery is that everything is produced in the farms around the distillery – starting from the rye.

The nose was floral along with the distinct rye edge. While many references on this gin suggest juniper is subdued in this gin at least in the nose, I thought I could detect it right from the get go. This might have to do with the fact that, because of its strength, instead of taking it on the rocks, I had splashed some Fever Tree Indian Tonic water on it.

The palette was strong and you would expect from a Navy Strength gin. You can feel the stiffness and heat from from the front gums all the way to the back of the throat.

The finish is not as strong as I was expecting. Almost bitter but very dry…

17 June 2017

How did that come around? – Kick the bucket

This evening a very young visitor to our house was mentioning about the unfortunate passing away of her P.E. teacher. Instantly, the phrase “kick the bucket” came to my mind. And the next instant, I was wondering why is it called “kicking the bucket”?

After the guests left, started doing the research. And finally came to find this…

A common – and wrong – derivation comes from the theory that people used to commit suicide by standing atop a bucket, tying their neck to the ceiling and then kicking the bucket. There is another theory that instead of committing suicide, people were hanged that way. Both are wrong. Buckets are very unnatural choices for this purpose. In fact, statistically, a chair is more commonly used for suicide in that particular way.

There was another theory about the goat kicking the bucket after getting milked and coming to an unfortunate end.

The real derivation has an intersting twist to the word “bucket”. Back in the 16th century, “bucket” refered to a wooden beam or frame. The root comes from a French word. Such a frame was often used to hang an animal up before being slaughtered. Most commonly it was used for pigs. A refernce to this meaning of the word “bucket” can be found in Shakespeare’s Henry IV.

Anyways, the pig while being slaughterd would kick violently as it went thru its death spasms. As gross as that picture is, that is how “kicking the bucket” came around.

Who knew?