13 September 2017

4 miles on the Ice Age Trail

Great run on a historic trail that marks the terminal moraine (the edge of the glacier where it dumped all the rocks that it carried) before the glaciers withdrew in the last Ice Age. About 1,200 miles in length (of which I ran only one mile 🙂 to and fro – twice), it is incredibly beautiful. And quiet. And narrow. You have to step aside for another person to pass.

My friend Bob ran this portion earlier in the day and had reported a lot of turkeys and even more deer. I was keeping my ears open for animals, since I had to keep the eyes on the trail. Else, I would have surely stumbled on all those rocks and roots on it.

Suddenly I could hear a turkey near me (and they are not particularly pleasant noise). I was so focused on trying to fix in my mind how far the turkey was from me, that I was not watching out for anything else. The trail took a turn and right when I went around the bend, I came face to face with the scariest of all animals – another human being! Apparently, she was trying to locate the turkey too. We landed up scaring the heck out of each other.

Anyways, we had a good laugh and then went our own ways to take in some more of the beauty and the solitude of the trail…

9 September 2017

Funny one

I was researching for something on the net and stumbled upon this image. Got a chuckle out of it! If you have not seen this before, this should give you a laughing start to this Saturday. Unless you are a friend of mine from Europe or Asia. In which case, it is too late in the day for you and I got nothing on you 🙂

9 September 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Moon River

Continuing with the theme of experimenting with gin and apricot brandy. This one is so far the best of the lot. Gin, Apricot Brandy, Galliano, Cointreau and Lemon juice. So many ingredients make it very complex. The nose is still that of the gin but the palette is taken over by the citrus (both lemon and orange). Garnished with a maraschino cherry.

8 September 2017

A beautiful couplet

“Waiz! Teri duaon mein asar ho
To masjid ko hila kay dikha
Nahin to do ghoont pee,
Aur masjid ko hilta dekh”

To understand this beautiful couplet, one needs to understand the basis for Sufism – which was a liberal offshoot of Islam. The proponents of Sufism – the Sufis – composed a lot of beautiful poetry around three things that could purportedly put you in a transcendental high. The spirit of God, the intoxication of alcohol and the beauty of your woman. Some would argue that they actually merge at one level.

In fact, there are some interesting duels between those three concepts. This couplet is one of them. The poet is saying…

“If your prayers have that much power
Then make the mosque sway in front of me
Or else, come sit with me and take a couple of sips
And watch the minarets swing in front of your eyes” !!!

6 September 2017

From the bartender’s corner: Gin #19 – GW Goodwynn Gin

The literature on this gin is as bland as the gin itself is. First off, I could not find where the distillery is exactly. All that materials that I could find – and that was not a lot, mind you – said that is is made in France and then imported by a company in California. There is more material on the internet about the company in California that designed the bottle label than there is about the pedigree or the uniqueness of the gin.

It is certainly of the London Dry variety. And the juniper is noticeable. It also has citrus and coriander that you can get in the finish. The official website of this gin claims “hints of cucumber”. I have to admit, I missed all those hints. This is nothing like a Scottish Hendricks gin or even an American Uncle Val Botanical.

On the whole it is a very middle of the path gin. Rather tame at that. I would suggest using it in cocktails where there is something else that will render a stronger nose and palette. e.g. mix it with Campari and Sweet Vermouth and have a Negroni perhaps.

5 September 2017

Meeting Suzanne after a couple of decades…

The last time I saw Suzanne was in the software development offices of a prior company in Dallas when the company was very small and both of us worked in the User Interface team. As I recollect, she then moved further south in Texas and all I knew was that she was following her passion. She had found art to be her calling. She was doing bronze sculpture, painting and what not. Thru Facebook when I had finally tracked her down, I found out that she also is into photography and videography.

I am always attracted towards people who follow their passions in life. I was barely 39 when I came to the moment of epiphany that it is only one life we will have. And even that is perhaps more finite than we are willing to admit. Nobody wakes up with the first thought – “One day less. How should I then spend the rest of my life?”.

Given that, my excitement was palpable when I found out that Suzanne was going to pass by Atlanta in one of her sojourns. Sharmila and I were waiting at home to welcome her. When she finally showed up after having gotten a first hand understanding of Atlanta traffic, I was thrilled to see her – like I said, after two decades. I could pick her up in a crowd easily – she looked so similar to what I had imagined.

We were even more thrilled to explore her van. Sharmila and I spent half an hour checking out her Ford Sportsmobile that Suzanne had personally designed. It has a kitchen, her sleeping quarters, hot and cold showers and her art area complete with storage space. I am sure Sharmila will want one like that soon. Can you imagine going around in the country and stopping wherever you want and start painting once a beautiful scenery catches your imagination?

Suzanne has reached where I want to some day. Prioritize her time to do what makes her happy – bereft of what corporate world or even society at large might tell you to do. Obviously, there was a lot of catching up of old friends that we needed to do. But I also wanted to learn from her and get her perspectives on life.

With that in mind, we eventually went to have lunch by the lake and pondered over a lot of questions. Getting her perspective was very insightful. One of the biggest discussion we had was around the seeming dissonance of what we were built out to be versus what the current society values. The basic hypothesis we agreed on is that as human beings, we are not sent to be highly specialized like a machine. In fact, we are happiest when we can pursue multiple goals – when we are not defined by just one thing. We certainly admire people who are world experts in one area, but we are in awe of people who can do multiple things well.

People we have considered “geniuses” (we need at least fifty years after death to consider somebody a genius to make sure the effects are longer lasting) – Edison, Franklin, da Vinci, Tagore… – all of them excelled in multiple fields. None of them were unidirectional. And yet today’s society and corporate life tends to value you increasingly more if you are a deeper and deeper expert in one field. In fact, there is a saying to downplay trying to have a multifaceted personality – “Jack of all business, Master of none”!!

Great discussions!! I certainly had one of the best times in a long time. There were a lot of things left to still discuss. But we just had one day.

Looking forward to the next meeting!!!