31 January 2018

I have an idea

This is a classic demand supply problem. Remember that event that I talked about who called up Sharmila to tell her that she needed to drop more paintings because they had sold off all her paintings?

Well, they called again today to say they are done with second batch too and need more.

Guess what? Most of the other paintings she wants to put up for sale are actually now in other events or galleries. She is trying to see if they want to take other category of paintings she has for sale.

Meanwhile, I have an idea. I am thinking of doing some paintings myself and sign her name on it. Seems like the fastest return to investment to me 🙂


31 January 2018

Royters News: Catching up on today’s news

Finished up my day and sitting in my bed, tried to catch up on the highlights of the day. The first piece of news that caught my attention was that an Amtrak train full of politicians hit a truck today.


Apparently, one of them was carrying garbage. Decided to dig further to find out which one.


31 January 2018

How did that come around? – “Under the Weather”

I was on a birthday call with one of my friends in Singapore yesterday and she mentioned that her teenager son has been under the weather for the last couple of days. After keeping the phone down, I started wondering why do we say somebody is “under the weather”?

Of course the phrase means “being sick”. The first instinct I had was that inclement weather or season had to do with the source of sickness. But why “under”? In a very abstract sense, weather coming from mostly elements like cloud, skies, wind etc etc, in general, you would think that you are always “under” it, would you not?

After researching quite a few etymological sources, I learnt that this is actually a nautical term. (Is it not crazy how many nautical terms have made it to our day to day English?). While a couple of sources mention about the side of the ship during bad weather and one mentions about how when all the sick sailors names were written, some of them would spill over to the column under the “Weather” section in the log book, the most prevalent and accepted reason is slightly different.

During the sea-faring days, on a day of rough weather, a ship would sway from side to side and be tossed around violently. This would cause some of the passengers or sailors to get sick (seasick). The normal procedure was to then send them downstairs to floors lower than the deck since there would be far less swaying there.

This is what gave rise to the phrase “under the weather” – you are sent below the deck level when you get seasick from the ship’s violent swaying caused by rough weather.

Learnt something yesterday.

31 January 2018

It was the pink color that got our attention first…

The moment our car emerged from our property and turned east on the dirt road, Niki and I noticed the rich pink color in the sky thru the trees. We pulled forward for a couple of hundred yards where the trees started clearing up and was immediately faced with the usage of a riot of colors. We could see yellow, orange and pink. Then there was sky blue and dark blue. Crisp, cold morning.

The sight was ephemeral though. Three minutes later, as we came to the end of the dirt road, we noticed that the distinctly pink color was gone and had changed to bright orange!

30 January 2018

Of oil paints and wines…

After missing the cut for two years, Sharmila was finally an invited artist to the “Spotlight on Art” event in Atlanta (Trinity School). I went there for the opening night. Not that I know which end of a painting brush to hold. OR which is oil and which is acrylic. But I am a sucker for these art events since they always give free wine to the artists and their guests!!!

Apparently, this is a big event. I had to wait a long time to get my wine. First, cops turned me away saying parking was full. Finally, I had to take a shuttle. Then I could barely get inside the exhibition. If it were not that cold outside, I would have just stood out. After about a couple of hours, there was enough space to fight my way to bar counter. Of course, then getting to a spot without having others spill my wine as they jostled around me was a challenge unto itself.

Eventually, late in the night, I could go around and see all the paintings. Also took a few pictures of Sharmila around her paintings. And one where the painting handlers were wrapping up one of her painting for a buyer.

That reminds me. As I mentioned before, she was invited on her third attempt. And on day 2 (today), she got a call from them to bring on more paintings – they were all sold out on the ones from her they had put up yesterday!!

I might go back for some more wine 🙂

29 January 2018

Here is a somewhat trickier puzzle – Catching a mouse

There are five adjoining rooms – linearly arranged (from left to right). You know there is a mouse in one of those rooms. You also know that the mouse, every night moves to the adjoining room – either left or right. It does not stay in the same room two days in succession – meaning it will definitely move. However, it is completely random whether it will go left or right – unless, of course it is in one of the end rooms in which case, it has to go to the other side.

Now, you are allowed to open any one random room in the morning. If the mouse is there, you can trap it and catch it. But if you do not find it, you are not allowed to go to other rooms. You have to come back the next day and open any room you want again (including the one you opened to today – totally your choice).

What is the strategy you will use (of targeting rooms to open each morning) to eventually catch the mouse?

29 January 2018

Merry Go Round Puzzle

This can be a very simple problem or a very confounding problem depending on the approach you take to solving it…

In a merry go round for kids in the mall, a kid rider observed “Two thirds the number of kids ahead of me added to three eighths the number of kids behind me add up to the total number of kids on this merry go round”.

How many kids were there in the merry go round?

28 January 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Ungava Vesper

People who have read the Ian Fleming’s 1953 classic “Casino Royale” or have seen the 2006 Bond movie would recognize this double agent’s name (Vesper Lynd) for whom 007 was going to give up his career; however she died… but the recipe was made famous in the movie… “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel”. Translated to Rajib’s bar who is still experimenting with the Canadian Ungava gin, that would be gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc in those proportions…

28 January 2018

Book Review: “Rome’s Last Citizen”

Roger Whitney piqued my interest in Stoicism a few weeks back. I had downloaded a few books to understand what he was talking about and started in a slightly unconventional way. Instead of reading about the subject, I first started by reading about people who have followed it.

The history of Cato attracted me. Supposedly a very principled person and Julius Caesar’s arch nemesis (who he viewed as somebody bent on destroying the constitution), he was most famous for how he committed suicide rather than live one day under Julius Caesar’s reign. Ironically, Cato’s son-in-law – Brutus – would be instrumental in the killing of Caesar a couple of years later.

I would give this book about a 6 out of 10. It portrays Cato fairly brilliantly. It does a great job of not steadfastly putting up Cato as just a principled person. In fact, it highlights the fallacies and foibles that Cato had too. The times that he seemingly compromised. And the one time that he did not – when it could have completely changed Roman history in his favor. All due to deep seated fears he harbored of Pompey’s ambitions. It also does a great job of the times that Cato stood up to the rest of the world and like the Twelve Angry Men got the world (or at least those who mattered) to his point of view.

The best contribution the book has is to trash the myth of the so-called greatness of the Great Roman Civilization. If anything, it lays bare the internecine warfare, the depth at which corruption ran, the mockery of democracy by bribes, the backstabbing, the temporary friendships, the brutal use of force and all those things you would not call a civilization by the adjective “Great”.

Where the book gets tedious at times is getting lost in seemingly unimportant details. The book that is 381 pages in lowest size font in iBook (on an iPad Pro) could have been easily put in about 150-180 pages and still contained the full import. (That readers may not have paid the steep price for that thin a book is a different concept altogether)!

The other place where the book failed me personally (less to do with the book, more to do with the fact I was trying to understand Stoicism) is the way the authors make fairly weak and sometimes extremely tenuous connection between Stoicism and how that must have affected Cato. As an example, he giving his second wife Marcia off to the sexagenarian Hortensius – and how that comes from Stoic beliefs of women and their (re)productive years is extremely tortured if not outright misplaced.

As an aside – and the authors mention it only once tangentially – the parallels between the Roman democracy during those years and contemporary US politics was intriguing to me. The influence of money; the conservative (often associated with the Republicans and Cato) versus the liberal (often associated with the Democrats and Julius Caesar), the use of filibuster, the “oppose everything the other guy stands for” … was almost prescient to me!!

Would I suggest you read this book? Not if you are trying to understand Stoicism. But if you had any interest in understanding Cato or the internal workings of the Roman elite (versus the public), it is a reasonably good read. A tad long though it might be.