28 June 2020

Checking out the waters…

First there were a few dolphins that swam by. And then five sharks came by and drove everybody off the water. The sharks were barely visible. Talking to the life guard, I found out that they take a hint from those birds (brown pelicans?). They usually stay 300 yards away from the shore.

When shark – usually small ones – come near the shore, they drive all the fish towards the shore. The birds follow the fish and come up almost to the shore. We saw something we have never seen before. A boat load of fish – I mean a whole lot of them – were jumping up from the water level and then splashing back again making it look like there was a rainfall happening there. Of course, the birds had a great time scooping them up.

28 June 2020

Have you heard of the dust storm that has made it from Africa to the USA?

One thing I did not realize is that most of the hurricanes we get on the East Coast actually originate from over Sahara and make it westward picking up steam on the Atlantic.

Another thing I had not realized is that dust storms make it to the USA by the same route! This year, there has been a particularly dense and strong one. It crossed the Caribbean last week and came into USA this weekend. As you can see the skies are hazy and the air quality in Hilton Head is fairly bad. Apparently, the dust is going to make its way to some parts of Ohio and Indiana even!

27 June 2020

Is “home” a lie we tell ourselves?

I read this a few days back in one of those Stoicism write ups. (Roger Whitney had introduced my to Stoicism). Worth reading for all of us. Although the message will probably not resonate with youngsters as much.

If you’ve ever made it to the end of Homer’s Odyssey, you might have noticed a rather strange part of the ending. It’s a part that’s talked about a lot less than the rest of the poem, possibly because it makes so little sense. You see, despite spending every waking second for ten years fighting to get home, despite overcoming nearly insurmountable obstacles on his way, despite all the carnage of the final battle to reclaim his kingdom, Odysseus does something almost inconceivable the second he possesses what he longed for…

…he starts planning to leave again! On another mission. Another voyage. Didn’t he learn his lesson? Can’t he be content or happy for even one minute? Apparently not.

Perhaps this is really the message of the epic: We are incapable of being still. Even when we get what we want, we immediately crave something else. We are addicted to the hunt, to the journey, and ‘home’ is just a lie we tell ourselves. Isn’t that sad?

Seneca, an ambitious guy if there ever was one, wrote about the shameful spectacle of the “lawyer whose dying breath passes while at court, at an advanced age, pleading for unknown litigants and still seeking the approval of ignorant spectators.” He was just talking about Odysseus in another form — he was talking about all of us who can’t stop, who have to keep going, who have to keep achieving, who are incapable of knowing what “enough” is.

The key to a great life — and to happiness — is stillness. It’s contentment. It’s enjoying what we have. It’s the ability to say “no”. To reject the temptation to do more even if more is another impressive journey or an occupational honor.

Stop. At least for today. Just stop. Be still.

The author also talks about the book “Stillness is the Key” as a suggested read. As you will see in review of the book I did in April this year, I was fairly unimpressed. I will post if I come across better books (by my judgment).

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26 June 2020

Back to our stomping grounds…

Hilton Head Island. Thought we will make a dash for the beach for the weekend. It will be a quick Friday-Monday thing.

Well, turns out the whole world had the exact same idea too!!! The beach resort is filled to the brim. Good news is that most are honoring social distancing. But not so much the mask thingy…

25 June 2020

Remembering my Lyft driver from last January

It had been a long sixteen hour flight. And my jet lag was starting to kick in. Immigration, Customs and Starbucks later, eventually my Lyft ride showed.

“Yes, sir! Rajib?”
“Yep. Do you mind if I sit in the front? I get car sick behind.”
“No problem”

As I settled down in my seat and Gregory (Roso) started navigating thru the evening Atlanta traffic, I was tempted to doze off. Instead, decided to see if a conversation and the Starbucks coffee could keep me awake. I was hoping against hopes that Gregory would be up for a conversation.

“So, what do you do outside of Lyft rides?”
That was interesting, I thought.
“What kind of music? Do you play music? Sing?”
“No, I produce music”.
“Produce music?”

Frankly, I had no idea what music production meant. What I learnt fascinated me. Gregory composes his own music and records them. Then he leases them or sells them outright.

Turns out he comes up with his own tunes and rhythms and then composes them with the instruments that he has.

“So, how do you sell them?”
“Mostly thru my website and networking”.

I checked out his website – https://www.producedbyvino.com. Fairly impressive.

“Why that URL?”, I asked mildly amused by the name.

“I am a big fan of basketball. And Kobe”. Looks like Gregory grew up with Kobe as his idol. The one thing he learnt from him, he said, is the value of practice. I understand, Kobe practiced for long hours. I do not know much about basketball. But Gregory informed me that Kobe had a nickname Vino because he got better with age unlike most other players. And that explained the website name. Gregory fashions himself after his idol.

“How about your personal life? Where are you from?”
“My mom is originally from Dominican Republic. I was born in Connecticut and spent early childhood there. Moved here with my mom eleven years back”
“And your dad?”
“He is in Connecticut”
“So, they are separated”
“Yes. My dad remarried and I have a step sister”
“And your mother?”
“She never married again. It is she and I.”

“Do you see your dad much?”
“Yes. I visit them whenever I can”
“You are close to your dad and step sister?”
“Now, I am. It did not start this way. I was very angry with my dad. I did not like him”
“And then?”
“Well, as I grew older, I realized that this was probably for the best for both of them. Now, I am glad that they are not together.”
“Yes. They are both in better places. And me working thru my anger with my dad has put me in a stronger place.”

“How about your girlfriend?”
“I do not have time for girls now.”
“I want to stay focused on making money. I want to make a lot of money. I have my youth now. I do not want to lose focus. That is what Kobe would have told me.”
“What will you do with a lot of money?”
“I want to take care of my mom”
“How so?”
“I want to buy her a good house and make sure she is financially very stable.”

“You know, your mom sounds like a wonderful person. Certainly has a wonderful son. I hope to meet her some day.”
“Thank you, sir! If you had come half an hour earlier, you could have met her.”

That surprised me!
“How? Were you giving her a lift?”
“No. She works in the hotel when I am dropping you.”

Wow!! What is the chance of that?
Sharmila and I were going to meet at a Westin for a drink instead of me going home and from there were going to head out to her art show inauguration. It is exactly in that hotel, as liuck would have it, that my Lyft driver’s mom works!!

Sure enough, when I enquired later in the restaurant in Westin, Maria had left a little while ago.

“No worries, Gregory. I go there once in a while. I will remember to meet her and tell her that she has a son who has great head on his young shoulders.”

That is when we pulled up to the Westin. I quickly introduced Sharmila and Gregory to each other and Sharmila took our picture.

If you ever run into Gregory, don’t forget to say Hi and encourage this incredible young gentleman.

24 June 2020

Who knew mushrooms could be this beautiful?

This one propped up right next to our road in the property on a steep climb. I saw it while driving down yesterday. After parking the car, went back uphill to check it out.

Apparently, (learnt from Sharmila who saw it is some discussion posts in our local forum) these are poisonous and pets should not be allowed to ingest them. That got me doing some reading up on how to visibly diagnose which mushroom is poisonous and which one is not.

Turns out there is no way of doing it. You have to know your mushrooms. However, I did learn a few things about mushrooms on the way.

Do you know what you call a person who actually knows their mushrooms? A mycologist! Turns out, that has Greek origins meaning “study of fungus”.

A mushroom is actually the reproductive organ of a fungus.

Also, being a fungus, evolution wise, a mushroom is closer to animals than plants!

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