7 July 2019

My birthday runs in your genes

If you have been unfortunate enough – and apparently with absolutely no opportunity cost of time – you might have read my blog or Facebook posts. If you have followed them with some level of regularity, you would have undoubtedly noticed that I get a boat load of birthday wishes on multiple days in a year. In 2014 alone, there were six days that I received birthday wishes on. In fact, the three most common questions on my blog would be: who is the photographer taking my running pictures, where is the dog when I am playing the tabla and what is my real birthday?

Re-birth theories of Hinduism be danged, it actually started as an innocuous April Fool’s prank. I had simply posted “Thank you to everybody who has made it my day so far or will so by the end of the day”. Somehow, that translated to me thanking everybody for my birthday wishes. In fact, I was thanking them – proactively – for all the chuckles I would get for falling into the trap that it was precisely devised to be.

Certainly having a random day as birthday in Facebook did not help maters. That one took me some time to comprehend. One fine September morning I woke up to a lot of birthday wishes. I had to re-check the date on my iPhone to make sure I had not gone thru a Rip Van Winkle episode. Much later, that day I connected it to the FB birthdate.

Of course, then there are well-wishers like Amitesh who gets on to the game once in a while and randomly posts a Happy Birthday message on my Facebook. That starts another deluge of birthday wishes. I guess in this day and age of social media, nobody wants to be left behind. As a matter of courtesy, I do not correct people and simply thank them for the thought behind the calendar-agnostic wishes.

The good news is that over the years, most of my readers and friends have gotten fairly accurate when it comes to the month. The date is a whole different thing. I get wishes from about four days before my real birthday and lasts for another couple of days after the birthday. It does not help that my younger daughter and I have consecutive birthdays leading to more confusion among even very close friends and family.

While reading a book on math – of all possible things – I found out that my birthday is somewhat unique. No, I am not going to bore you with historical events on this day or famous and infamous persons born on this day. Having to carry my name is enough of a burden for the day, I reckon.

What I found out is that there is a human gene that is named after my birthday! I will be even more precise – it is the tenth gene in the human chromosome.

I looked up Wikipedia which confirmed that but then threw a slew of minimum-thirty-letters-long biological words at me. I struggled through some of it but gave up when I had to deal with one “dash” too many in those freakishly long names. Went back to my math book.

So, there you go. You will never forget my birthday again, ever. It is in your genes.

I question your priorities though 🙂

Category: Musings | LEAVE A COMMENT
5 July 2019

Book Review: “The Story of the Human Body”

Yet another book that I had to read a second time to get the full import. It is a great book if you are interested in how we have evolved as human beings. Daniel does a great job of taking the reader thru history of time with the evolutionary lenses on to see how human body parts become how they are today.

This book might come as a surprise to folks who believe in a particular diet (or have believed in different diets at different times). The author explains the complexity of the evolutionary journey that we have taken and establishes that humans are not adapted for any single diet or social environment or even one exercise regime.

During that journey, the author takes us thru the Agricultural Revolution which solved a lot of problems but created many more (all infectious diseases started at that time since we started living close to each other and around one location) – to the Industrial Revolution which solved a lot of medical problems but created a lot more (sugar became copiously available, meat started having carcinogenic chemicals and consumption of fiber started vanishing) and then to his predictions of the future.

One point he stresses on multiple times is that Darwinian evolution as it existed (natural selection retains those who can have many offsprings in diverse, challenging conditions) has been overtaken by cultural evolution when it comes to homo sapiens. (We wear shoes, drink coke and drive cars not because they help us have more healthy offsprings – to the contrary, they endanger our lives – but we do it for cultural reasons like comfort, lack of immediate pain etc).

A few other things I personally learnt:
(*) All fruit juices are junk food (because the fiber is taken out)
(*) Not all LDL is bad for you (only the small ones are)
(*) It is not fat per se that is the problem – it is the visceral fat (fat in your belly) that gives rise to almost all obesity related issues.
(*) “What does your gut say?” – that comes from the fact that our gut (intestines) are actually our “second brains”. Consuming the same energy as our brains in a day, our gut has over 100 million nerve endings and controls an incredible number of our activities.

If you find these kind of things interesting, I would recommend this book whole heartedly.

Category: Books | LEAVE A COMMENT
3 July 2019

Puzzle time!

Here is one that will have you think about shapes…

Tomorrow is 4th of July and we will be seeing a lot of flags flying proudly all over the USA. Did you know that there is only one country in the world whose flag is not rectangular in shape?

In any case, imagine a country that has a rectangular flag (See my poor rendering in red) with a smaller rectangle of different color inside it somewhere. (See my blue rectangle). Note that the blue rectangle can be anywhere and in any orientation.

Question is, can you cut the flag to make two identical pieces?