Thursday, December 31, 2015

Book Reading in 2015

With internet on all the time, the only reading I get to do is not book or e-readers but internet rabbit-holes of Wiki, Buzzfeed and way too many blogs. At some point in time, I had to exercise extreme restraint and get back to book reading, for way too many reasons:
  1. To be able to hold my own attention on one thing, instead of switching between 10 browsers to read 10 articles, all at the same time
  2. To stop my mobile from torching my eyes every night till 2 am
  3. And to show my kids what book reading meant. I mean, there is a point till when you can push a book in their face. But they will start reading only when they see competition. "Oh ya, look I finished this many books" smug is the best way to get them going. Oh ya, everything is a game for kids.
  4. I don't have dataplan, so I need something in the bus. There are only so many billboards that I can read.
That way, I did end up reading many books this year. Here are some of them with my notes, in no particular order.

Why Not Me - by Mindy Kaling




This one was a good ride. Which is a raise compared to my experience with her previous book.
I loved her dialog delivery, even the unconnected comedy on TV. I loved her quote, "I have a personality defect where I refuse to see myself as an underdog. My parents raised me with the entitlement of a tall, blond, white man."
So I got her first book "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)". My dad read it first, and he was all shrugging, "What is this ? Nowadays everyone can write books !". I blamed it on him being from different generation and culture and him not having seen her shows. But when I started reading it, I could barely turn pages. I think I gave up after 2-3 chapters. It did nothing for me.

So it took me lot of courage to get her second book. I mean, I was still impressed by her quotes. I had to read something from her. Thankfully this book turned out good. It was about her experiences in college and from professional life. So along with her wit, I got a glimpse of the TV show making world. I was impressed by her hard work, even though I expected it. The most profound portion is where she explains that confidence comes from entitlement which is supported by hard work. And her attempt to remove the derogatory tone from the word 'workoholic'. It was a good chapter.

Fresh Off the Boat - By Eddie Huang

This was a fun ride. Very engrossing from the very first page.
I got to know about this book because it was recently made into a TV show. I saw few of the episodes and it was funny but predictable. I would expect the story to go one-way, and that is exactly where it would end. Standard Asian immigrant in USA with second generation kids plot; something covered in numerous ABCD line movies. But I guessed the book would have to be different.

I got the book and laughed through it. It was different. Book moved from his kid years to college and then adulthood.  Was stunned at the self-destructive actions. Learned some minute details about growing up as immigrants children, what they face, some terminology. I grew up in cultures different from my parents, though within the same country. So I could connect to some parts. But growing up in a very different country, especially one with strong set rules like America, combined with immigration challenges, which make us feel like we are living in borrowed time for years, it makes the experience very different. Culture clashes of home vs school vs peers.

Language used was also why this was so engrossing. It was clean for his initial childhood till he settled and made friends. And then it was littered with s, fs and mfs, picking up speed towards his college and working years. Towards the end of the book it was totally studded with repeated profanity. This maybe for effect, maybe his individual style, but it did help make the points it wanted to make.

Dean Karnazes Books 

  1. Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
  2. 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days -- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!
  3. Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss
 

If you want to get enchanted into the world of running, get captured by charisma of a filmy hero, Dean Karnazes books are the ones to read. He glamorizes the world of distance running, and in a good way. Totally cheerful and no bitterness anywhere. All Mr California-Sunshine in tone. Even the sad parts in the books are so well-written but they don't pull you into it. Keep you at the interested in sports level. Equivalent of a masala movie.

To his credit, he did run some incredible awe-inspiring races and won many. All 3 books are detailed humorous and informing. I learnt many things needed for running from his books. Felt inspired by his adventures and his enthu, self-deprecating yet humblebrag descriptions. His association with corporate Northface showed in all places. He talked about some of the DNF, which were reassuring for me, that its not all hahahehe.

Eat and Run - by Scott Jurek


This one had the most impact on me. A quiet loners simmering recount about all the running in his life and about some of the high-profile races. His chapters were more poetic. Every chapter had a recipe, which did not interest me the cynical-cook .

The Extra Mile - by by Pam Reed


By now I wanted to find out specifically about Elite Women. Deans and Scott Jurek's books were good to learn about the world of trail and ultra distance running. I know a lot of women did it too and won many. So what were their experiences ? What about unique to their gender ?

Dean mentions Pam Reed in his book. She won Badwater twice. Not division or category, but won the actual complete race ! Now that's intriguing. So I got her book.

Her language was factual but not enough race info. More than 50% of the book covered her affair, anorexia, her business ventures. Given that it is her autobiography I should take it. I was looking for 100% racing info - greedy me. She kept it real, and real life is mundane and boring, even of an achiever. She did not Hollywoodise it. I appreciate that she did write about most of her races. I wish there was more of which guide others towards it. It does have helpful info. She details her competitive nature. Talks about her athletics in her school years and how it linked with her everyday life. She talks of running as a mother. Running experience in different events.

Everything I learnt about running was bit by bit from RunWorld and FB pages, runner blogs and these runner books. But nowhere do they tell if anyone makes money, even for expenses or if the elites. So I conclude that the use their creativity to earn or sponsor. Once they build their strengths and capability, there must be professionals who know how to use it for corporate or charity benefits.
A lovely write-up on Anne Weber's GoFundMe page gives some clues.
(Update: found one article: Prize Money Aimed at Americans Helps Emerging Elites )

Wild - by Cheryl Strayed



I heard about this book around the time when the movie started to spread the word about it. I have been fascinated by long-distance, so this was intriguing. Plus the writer is originally from Minnesota. It was a good read. Many pages were devoted to her pre-trail life in Minnesota.  Her story-telling was flashbacks of her mother and her divorce as she moves along the hike along the PCT trail.

Found parallel with my new venture as runner. Each run or race, is a revelation. The way we get absorbed during self-training and research for it. Also I prefer long distances versus a short-distance at greater speed. It matches my noncompetitive temperament.

I remembered this book while running in Lake Minnetonka Half-Mara. At about mile 5, the cushions below my toes started hurting. Like I had cement for shoe-soles. And then I thought of Wild, where her boots were 1 size small and killed her toes & feet, but she did nearly half of her nearly 1500 miles in those shoes. I had brand new shoes of excellent quality and I was complaining ! That helped me cover rest of the miles. My pain actually disappeared after few miles.

The book details her alone time while hiking. At different rest camps, she meets other trekkers. They all relax together, enjoy meals and rest. And then they each start at their own schedule and move forward. They don't decide to stick together, or slow down for someone else or pickup pace to match another. Its only at stopover that they hangout together. Its not a competition, but individual journey. This is something I believe strongly in life.

Saw the movie after reading this book. That was worth it too. The movie time & format is way different to squeeze in all details, and they didn't. But they touched upon each of her personal life events, could convey the pain about death, not so much about the divorce; which was a good thing. Way too many movies linger about the love-pains; it get more attention than it needs. Not enough talk about strong mothers in the modern life. And then the movie captured the outdoor beauty of the PCT trail. That alone made it was worth a repeat watch.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Colors of Fall

Today while walking across my usual aisle, I looked out my usual window and saw cars. I didn't remember seeing any cars out of this window. Hmm , left me wondering. And then I realized. The leaves have all fallen away and the tree are bare branches & twigs. That's why I could see the road across. Haha.

There will be Day Light Saving change, which makes our evenings dark like midnight.
There will be rain, which strips the leaves off from the tree.


But before that, they are impossible beautiful colors.
The beauty which brightens you up.
No painting depicting the Fall colors, can capture this beauty.








Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. - Albert Camus

So true.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Four Seasons of Minnesota

The trees are on fire, this time of year in Minnesota. It's almost a ritual to drive far & wide, to places with sweeping views of colorful trees, click picture and then post it on FB :)

People crib about MN winter, but everyone loves that MN has 4 seasons. Each season change is so  tangibly different, its a verifiable phenomenon every year. I tried to capture it by clicking a tree outside our balcony, at different times of the year. Its not a flawless time-lapse sequence. I changed phones and lost some of the pictures. These 4 do capture, how it is in different Quarters of the year.

Snow makes the winter more beautiful and more bearable. It's all quite and cinematic, while it's snowing, even during a Snow-storm. Night sky lights up from all the refraction's from city-lights. Street lamps glows and the orange light on mounds of white snow fallen on the land, is something which never stops being peaceful. All of this from the safety of your house. It does not feel cold, while its actually snowing. Like each flake is absorbing all the cold (which I know is not scientifically possible). The killer cold comes later, when every surface is frozen and out to get to your bones.
Minnesota Spring is legendary. Officially, its after Groundhog day. But we still have leftover snow after that. It's this way from March to June. Once the snow melts away, its Rain time.  One week of rains, and there are leaf bud sprouting everywhere. All lawns turn from white to Green. And flower plants in every lawn and campus.
Technically Summer is from June to September. But it start the exact moment you realize, that you don't need jacket, gloves, hat & muffler anymore. You can throw away the heavy boot and switch to sandals. That's when you know, yes its summer. These are pleasant months, with maybe few days of 100F. This year maybe 2 days were 100F and rest were all in 70F to 80F.  There hasn't been a week when it did not rain, this year.
Beginning of Fall is usually such a beautiful sight. In Sept-Oct, all trees are colorful with dark greens, yellow, pink, maroons and browns. We can't get enough of those sights. Pictures cannot capture the beauty of Minnesota Fall. You don't have to travel far to see it. Any evening at any lakeside or park, and we can see unbelievable range of colors. This tree did not change color. Leaves just dried & fell off. Trees with empty dried stick branches are a usual sight after the colors fall of.
 And finally, a bearable sunny winter again. All year round, we dread the coming winter. But it lasts only 3 months. Initial few years, we forget to enjoy rest of the seasons, because of this dread. What we actually fear is the after-office return, to a frozen car seat - from being parked outside in 20F or lower. The frozen steering wheel cuts through your fingers. Those 10 minutes till car warms up, just resets everything you know. With the increasing thermostat, all is forgotten. And then we are back to the cycle of seasons.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Spectating TCM Marathon 2015

Every year when this comes up I so wish I would run this one. Indeed this is the one from which I learnt about races. Studying the TCMarathon route, I feel like now I have covered most of those places via all the other races I have run so far. And they are all beautiful spots. I think my primary motivator for all the races is to see the corners of Twin Cities which I wouldn't explore otherwise. And it turned out to be true.

TCMarathon is a highly publicized one. In 2012, it started showing up in my FB newsfeed, and once I checked out their site and studied all pages, that was my first time knowing, whatever is a Running Race ? Till then all I knew was at the school levels. I never knew that grownup adults too indulged in it. Till then, running was just a boring torture tool, I knew people used to loose weight. TCM started that train of thought, which pushed me on the way to learn way more now then I ever did. I keep jotting them in my blog-post How to get started with Running - 101. Its a lot of info, that I learnt in bits and pieces, from different articles I read. It's not complete info, because there is always something new going on. But its enough to get started.


So in a way TCMarathon is the one, which got me dreaming about Marathons, while I was still in "couch" stage. In the past 2 years, I keep looking at their registration page, but lack all courage to sign up. Doesn't help that they close in July and I need to be confident by then. Also this Fall Marathon needs training in Summer, which is the time I can do it least. I just can't run in summer heat and have most of the vacation distractions at this time.

Hence TCMarathon remains in back burner for now. And I do the next best thing. Which is to check it out :) Their Specatator guide is pretty informative.

For the 2014, I went to Lake Calhoun with my daughter. It was 35F that morning and we were bundled up in coats & gloves. We rang the cow-bells and shared one with a toddler whose Dad was running. Saw the leaders who eventually won the race in Mens & Womens. We high-fived the middle pack. Saw the guy who juggled 3 footballs throughout the course. This sport is called Joggling, I learnt. We stayed on, till the escort car passed with the last runner. So I got to see the leaders, the middle packers and the ones in last batch. This was Mile 6 and it was amazing to see the varying degree of energy each batch had.


This year, I saw the TCMarathon 2015 at 25th Mile. I wanted to see the state of runners at this close to finish. Temps were a pleasent 50F+. I reached at 10:10 at Summit Avenue, after parking in Grand Avenue. Spectator guide was helpful to figure this out. One of the leaders just passed at that time. He turned out to be 2nd place. This was my first time witnessing a leader actually so close to finish, so early ! Long back, when I would reel off the times of the winners from the result pages, we would kid, "Did he ride a motor-bike ?" Haha.


Wheelers went by and I was quite out of respect & disbelief.

Watching women runners was exciting. I was stunned to see these 3 Women leaders. One in the middle came first place later. But here all 3 stuck together all the while.


And then came the 2:30 to 3 hour finishers. They too ran at consistent pace. Back straight, hands paddling their body, feet just going one step in front of the other. I hardly heard them breathe or know about their breathing at all. If anyone could be in monk-like steady state, that would be these runners. Except they were running. Moving forward. And they had been doing this for the past 2+ hours, across 25 miles. This was across different age groups - younger ones, 45 year old women, men in 60-65 range. Even the ones coming around at 11 AM were running. I saw maybe 1 or 2 stop for a walk break of 5 seconds. That's all. #Goals.

I stayed till 11:15 but could not stay longer to see the middle pack and the last runners. I did want to see, in what state they would be. Surely they could use more cheer from spectators.

I was the last few finishers in my first Marathon run in May-end this year. This Nike: Last ad is so me. I hope to be better next time.





Monday, September 14, 2015

City of Lakes - Half Marathon - 2015 - Race Recap

I came to know about City of Lakes - Half Marathon  in the RunMinnesota magazine lying in my office reception where I spent lot of wait times in the first week :) And since Lake Calhoun and Harriet are my usual long run route, I knew I had to try a race in this place.

I arrived half-hour early at the Tennis courts at Lake Harriet. Hubby dropped me closeby. It's residential area and cars were lined up on all streets. The crowds were all serious runners and very young age group. Since this was MRDA backed, I imagined they used this for pure running exercise . It was indeed non-frilly race. Practically no family kind spectators.


I was intimidated, but I wanted to see the semi-elite perform. I haven't attended any race coaching or group runs. I self-learn from internet and I train alone. I wanted to see, how the 8 pace & 7 pace looks like ? And I did get to see it, thanks to the way the route was laid out.

Race started at 8 am towards East. After a loop of Lake Harriet, we moved through the William Berry Parkway towards Lake Calhoun. And at this point, I saw the Lead runners on their way back for the 2nd loop of Lake Harriet. My mind was blown. I totally disoriented about what the route loops were ?? Took me a long time, to do the math that it was half-way, but yes they were Fastttt !

Then the route went around Calhoun towards East. I saw a Timer screen and sprinted to shave as many seconds as I could :) So my 5K time was 36 minutes. And then it was the usual run-walk-wobble around Lake Calhoun. Towards the end of West Parkway, the lead runners overtook us again. I swear I could feel the whoosh. Spectators cheered them "Half a mile more ! Keep going !" And after a pause, "Halfway there, keep going !" Gave them a thumbs up, coz I knew that was for me :) Those lead runners were a sight to see. The elite ones from Africa and the local serious ones - back straight, hands paddling their body, legs running at the consistent pace, and breathing without effort. One of them wheezed loudly all along, but it did not change his posture or showed any pain. I breath better than before. I should do that with increased pace and lesser walk breaks.

When I reached the Lake Harriet bandshell, which is the finish point, here the first Woman crossed the line. That was exciting. Time flew in my second loop of lake Harriet. Second half of any race is always better. Runners had thinned as usual. I did try to save time where I could. I think I did not look at the lake waters at all; which is my usual distraction. Could be because we were on road and not on the trail, which is closer to the water. In summer runs, I save time, because I have no pocket to store my iPod and so I don't stop to take any pictures. But that also means I don't have many summer run pictures.

The route was lined with trees and very little sun. And thankfully it was not windy that morning. My outfit was just right again. No overheating or cold chills.

  1. ASICS Women's GT-2000 3 Running Shoes - which I had trained in. 
  2. Single Technical Tee and capri pants
  3. Cap to shade from the sun and prevent my hair from flying away.
  4. Chap-stick - lips get dry & burn because of wind, sun and sticky powerade

The 2nd loop of Lake Calhoun started well. The 10 mile Timer showed up and I sprinted again to shaved few seconds off 2:09 hours. And I did not chat with anyone. There was a runner dressed in all black - long pants, full jackets and black cap. I felt hot just looking at him. He was jovial, "I will run slow. I have to work tomorrow. I can't break my knees." :) I so agreed with him. By now, there were very few runners. Yet I did not bother to look back. Didn't want to be disappointed being the last runner, so early in the route. Non-race runners had started running and biking on the route; it was that deserted. I distracted by trying to figure out which ones ahead of me, were racers and which were not. 2-3 miles before finish, I spotted a guy in Blue jacket and cap. I never saw him before in the course. So I thought he was a Bandit. 'No one would wear jacket for this long".


Water stops were just right and evenly spaced. I did not over-drink like usual, nor was I thirsty. At the last water-stop, I was sobbing when I took the cups. I was just happy I was going to finish. It was a pleasant day as well at 60F.

Meanwhile, the Guy in Blue proceeded to finish line. I never saw his face. And then the announcers said, he was Thomas Huberty, 64 and he had Finished the CityofLakes Half every single time since it started in 1975 !!! Wow ! Talk about judging by book-cover. And like in every race, a Senior taught me humility at the finish line.

My finish time was 2:53:03 . Definitely better than the previous races this year and with usual minimal training through the summer. I was happy.
Place Class Place Class Finisher 10 MILE TIME AGE GRADE NET TIME CLOCK TIME PACE
54 62 W35 Prithi Shetty  2:09:17 38.36% 3:04:49 2:53:03 13:12

My cheerful family relaxed at the play-area, Band-shell and then we left for the Lake Centennial Art Fair (Fall in the Arts). I knew once I go home, I would never be able to come out all day. It would be lunch & bed, that's all. This Sunday being the last day of the Art Fair, I could not miss it. It was a good day indeed.
Swag was a cool heavy glittery Medal, Glass and snacks. No T-shirts for me, as they were for winners of every category.


This race was a rich experience watching the Lead runners, middle packer and experience runners, thanks to the way the route is shaped (infinity :).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pre-Bedtime Bored Jar

Week day evenings are so chaotic. There is this rush to cook, feed, eat and packup so we can go to bed as soon as possible. But because we parents are so busy with these main chores, week after week go away and we spend a small % of the day doing some quality stuff with the kids.

I truly like the idea of Bored Jar. Here is my tailored version, for those Weekday evenings. This will help me when my brain can't step away from the chores to think of some short activity with kids. These things are lying around neatly organised. All kids need is something interesting to get started and then they are off doing more by them-self.

Weekday Pre-Bedtime Bored Jar


Pre-Bedtime Bored Jar

  1. Country & Capital / Atlas
  2. Ludo or Snakes N Ladder
  3. Chess Or Checkers 
  4. Catch Ball
  5. Draw / Color
  6. Amar Chitra Katha  / Comics
  7. India History
  8. India States
  9. USA States
  10. Rubic Cube
  11. Jump Rope
  12. Hula-Hoop
  13. Origami / Paper Craft
  14. Book 
  15. Reading
  16. I-Spy
  17. Write / Draw in Journal
  18. Puppets
  19. Build Fort
  20. Shower / Bath
  21. Water Plants
  22. Phone Grandparents
  23. 5-minute Hindi
  24. 5-Minute Tulu
  25. Astronomy
  26. Cleanup Tables
  27. Cleanup Closets
  28. Cleanup Lego
  29. Dance steps 
  30. Jig Saw
  31.  Puzzle
  32. Card 
  33. Games
  34. Board Games
  35. 2 Pages of Workbook
  36. Make Beds
  37. Hop Scotch
  38. Tic-Tac-toe
  39. Connect Dots
  40. Doodle



Friday, August 21, 2015

My Bucket List

Am going to keep this post live & updated to latest dates. Something like the Pinned post feature on FB.

Bucket List


  1. Watch an all-nighter Yakshagana show.
  2. Visit Leh. Drive, walk, click the whole 10 days.
  3. Spend a leisurely month in North-East India. Safari and spend a night at the Kaziranga National Park. Walk the streets of Shillong. Visit Kamakhya temple in Sibsagar. Nostalgia trip across Dibrugarh. Tour Guwahati, Aizwal, Arunachal.
  4. Visit China. Shanghai for city, deserts and rural place as well.
  5. Make a huge artwork , something like 72 inch by 98 inch. A really good one.

Complete:


  1. Atleast 1 Marathon - Ya that's done ! Ran Minneapolis Marathon 2015 !


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Cleaning Liquid

Found something I had published - it said - 15 years ago ! It even had 6 interesting comments !
Wow ! It's that long back , that I was so caught up in Sulekha !
Found everything interesting, like I did not write it, someone else did. That must be the way most of the writers & film-maker feel about their old works - detached. Its only the audience who associates the work with the creator.
I feel like I should save that text here before internet does some purge.
I feel so exciiiited !!!

The Cleaning Liquid

Prithi Shetty
Prithi Shetty / 15 yrs ago / 
  6
Tarun looked at his wristwatch. It was digital and showed 3:32 PM. He had always insisted on precise timings. He glanced up and scanned the computer screen. The entire screen was occupied by crampedly written C code. He was trying to find an elusive bug. The bug, which would allow voice recording to play for 21 seconds among other things. Yesterday the playtime had been 14 seconds. And today, an attempt to run the program displayed hundred and twenty one errors. Again he glanced down at his watch. 3:34 PM.
Eleven minutes and the PL (Project Leader) would be here. PL and "those esteemed members of the industry" who would fund the project. Forget achieving the optimum value, the program even refused to run on the demo-day. Panic, rising from the core of his being, had now reached his skin.
He stood up with a start and in effect pushed his chair. The chair rolled away till it bumped off a table. Now he began pacing around in the non-cluttered center of the room. All the computer-tables were lined along the walls. All his colleagues were away and hence no one was around to share his agony. He hit his clenched right fist to his left palm. Looked around the room. Left. Right. Eyes scanned the entire expanse of the room on one side and then roved over his table. Again he looked at his console screen. Bent towards the keyboard, he pressed the down key and scanned the entire program again. Where lies the evasive change? How was he to find it in eight minutes? A quick look at the watch showed 3:37 PM.
He felt sick. He wished he was sick. He was going to be fired. This is it. This is the end. Over. It's all finished. Finished. Standing straight upright, all he could see was...was a bottle. He took a second look. A rather large, amber colored bottle was lying on the overhead panel of his computer table. It contained alcohol based cleaning liquid. Raghunath, the office assistant, had left it there, after the Friday cleaning. Tarun picked up the bottle. The label read, "...contains Benzene..."
His eyes on the bottle, a smile escaped his lips.
The room resounded with their boisterous laughter. They had just finished their gossip cum ribbing session and were moving out for lunch. As Abhijit got up from his chair he exclaimed, "Hey! Look at this," pointing at the overhead panel of Tarun's computer table. Three bottles stood there, side by side, all labels facing the audience. Assuming the demeanor of a performer, he intoned, "Look, if you are deep in coding or debugging and tired, you drink from this Bisleri bottle. If you had a successful execution of your program, you are thrilled -- you drink from this Cola bottle. And if your program refused to run, you drink this chemical. Howz that?" The room resounded with another bout of laughter.
Tarun uncapped the amber colored bottle, swigged the contents in one gulp. Then he stood still for a second and gulped down water from the Bisleri bottle. The expression on his face suggested that cleaning liquids don't taste good. Okay, so now he had to fall sick. And soon. Very soon. In seven minutes flat.
At 4:00 PM sharp Mr. Suraj Kapoor walked into the research Lab. He was Tarun's PL. Along with him walked in Mr. Sonawale from FocuSys. At 4:25 PM sharp, both of them left. There was no Demonstration of the project, as Mr. Sonawale had another urgent meeting to attend. The three discussed the market aspects of the project.
Tarun sat quietly in his chair. Exhausted with relief. Now he was not alone. All his colleagues were back and the usual cacophony reigned the room. He was not sure what he felt like. "To laugh or not to laugh, is the question."
The phone on the next table rang shrilly. Blankly he reached for it and answered with a "Hello". On hearing the voice on the other end, he came out of his reverie. "Yes, speaking." Gradually, his face brightened and his slick demeanor came back.
"Ah ha. Is that you? Glad to meet you. But have we ever met?"
A pause. He listened intently.
"Okay I will wait for you. You know the address?"
A pause again. The smile on his face grew larger and larger.
"Okay then. I will be at the Tiffany's sharp at five. Well frankly I did not expect you to be a female. I am happy you are. See you."
Tarun moved with his chair, towards his table. With his chin resting on his fists, he stared at the console screen. This time he was hunting for no bug. He had a silly grin on his face and his mind was lost in cyberspace.
The call had been from his keyboard-pal, with whom he had been communicating by email for the past four months. Till half an hour ago, he knew no personal details of the person, not even the gender, though he had shared most of his. And now he was going to meet her in person. He was thrilled.
All of a sudden his grin disappeared. A groan escaped his lips. Clutching his stomach he ran out of the room. His neighbor Adi, startled out of his concentration, stared at him go.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Salad Matrix

Filling Salad for Dinner
Filling Salad for Dinner

This is matrix I use to build my lunch salad or even dinner sometimes. Just grab one or more items from each row and load it in a box or bowl. I have one copy hanging on the fridge and the other works as my grocery shopping list.
Greens
Lettuce
And more …..
Fresh Veggies
Pepper - sweet multi colored
Carrot
Cucumber
Celery
Radish
Sweet Pea
Boiled veggies
Boiled Potatoes (chopped  cubes or slices)
Eggs (Hard boiled or Poached)
Broccoli (steamed)
Frozen / Canned  Veggies
Edamame
Corn
Peas
Beets
Artichoke
Carbs
Pasta
Quinoa
Couscous
Fruits
Cranberry
Dates
Apricot
Watermelon
Apple
Orange / Mandarin / Cuties
Cantaloupe
Grapes
Mango
Dehydrated fruits (like shaved apples, dried pinapple, peaches, prunes...)

Carry these items in separate box, so they don’t get soggy. Mix them at the time of eating.
Crunch
Croutons
Breads
Tortilla chips
Nuts
Groundnut
Cashew
Almonds
Pecan
Cheese
Feta
Parmesan
Dressing
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Vinegar
Lite Mayo
Hummus
Soya sauce
Yogurt/Curd/ Ranch
Cooked Sabji
Channa Chole
Brown channa
Rajma
Green Beans
Black eyed Peas
Squash
Aloo bhaja (spiced strong with green chilly)
A whole bunch of Indian cuisine Sabji’s & Poriyal go really well with a green salad, making you feel full.

Salad lunch at Picnic
Salad lunch at Picnic


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Minneapolis Marathon 2015 - Race Recap


Got up at 4-430 AM; left home at 5:30 AM; race start at 6:30 AM at Theodore Wirth Parkway

It winded from there to NE Minneapolis via Art District. Downtown was in view and I thought, "So 20 miles is this close !" But Half Marathoner turned towards Guthrie Theater, while we Full were diverted to UofM hills towards Minnehaha Park. Now that took up like the rest of 15 miles.

On the way, everyone cheered "Keep Going", "Good Job", "Keep chugging". At Mile 19 turn-back, I looked back to see only few specks for company. And the 6:00 Pacer was gaining. I remembered the cutoff was 6 hours and rest would have to take SAG Wag. I tried to muster all my strength to go faster. But impossible. Then the 6:00 pacer caught up with me and his pep talk helped. I let out a desperate "I want to finish under 6" cry. He was like - you can do it, stick with me and you will be under 6, you have trained. He did the run-walk and I stuck with his pace from 19 to 23. After Mile 23, there was one last hill of this road and the beginning of the crazy UofM hills. So I gave up and said I will walk now.

At around Mile 24 the SAG vehicle came around and said in polite US-English, "Aaja meri gadi mein baitja".
I said, "Chal hath saale"
He gave me water & said this was the last glass. I am ever grateful to him for that.
Every water stop & orange markers were being removed.
At one last confusing junction , the cycle volunteer pointed us to the correct turn.

Everyone was dismantling everything at Guthrie Theater. They had removed the last chip reader but Clock showed 6:11. Since I had started in a late corral, I knew my time would be even less. Some kids were playing around. I was simply thrilled to reach the end point and was running in the winner pose - arms up in air, smiles wide . I asked to no one, "Where is the finish line ?" and a helpful girl pointed, "At that no-parking sign annnnnnd you are done" Yeaaaa ! Then the chip-reader owner came running with a machine and marked me complete. And that's it - My First Full Marathon was complete !

Volunteers helped me with my bag check, food packets, medal & photos. All water stop volunteers were super efficient, cheered all along & bike marshals were helpful and the medic I consulted was helpful. I am so thankful to all of them and the 6:00 Pacer.


At around 1 pm, one super-senior arrived for his finish and I wished him & pointed him to the food store and walked away for my new destination. I thought I would have to walk all the way, but  luckily found a taxi. Rode to best-friend's hotel where my kids were on play-date. Driver politely asked about the race. He joked that once he signed up for what he thought was 10K but turned out to be 10M ! I was too happy & relaxed.

Among injuries I found my first under-feet blister, my big toe is throbbing bad, my bra line is completely chaffed and burning . Sunburn on my arms & legs are itchy. Once Aleve wears out, my knee & shin pain along with soreness will set in. New kind of chaffing was my bicep rubbed the shirt - it started after the hour 3. But boy am I happy - I finished a real Full Marathon.

In this race, my outfit  and weather were perfect. Temp was 45 F at 5:30 but I did not overdress like I usually do. No jackets or layers. Not a single extra gram of weight. That's my learning, in this year of running.
  1. ASICS Women's GT-2000 3 Running Shoes - which I had trained in. So no shin swelling this time.
  2. Single Technical Tee and capri pants
  3. Golf cap to shade from the sun and prevent my hair from flying away.
  4. Carried Gu packets in my hands and ate one every hour
  5. Huge spray of sunscreen
  6. Chap-stick - lips get dry & burn because of wind, sun and sticky powerade
  7. Body glide / vaseline to prevent chaffing
Full race started at 6:30 AM and Half started at 7:30 AM (one hour after the Full started). While I chugged at Mile 9, the Half leaders passed me by. Some muttered encouragements to me. And on the road to Minnehaha, where the other side was for the turnback runners, I could see the leaders and the middle. I know most of them were Relay runners, but it was very demotivating till Mile 19. And scary after Mile 19 for the fear of disqualification. Then for my bicep chaffing, I stopped at the medic for some bandaid or vaseline. There was a chair out there and I slide in to tighten (or loosen) my shoe-laces. That totally changed my momentum. I now know I should'nt ever do that.

Running beyond 3 hours is kind-of boring. Or maybe the scare of SAG's disqualifying me was the thing. I could have saved my 11 9 minutes in a lot of places. I should have slept well at night instead of waking up every hour and dreaming all dreadful things. I need not be so nervous for weeks. I should have trained better/seriously. That's hindsight. But this was my first & I finished it! So everything is excused now ! It also erases all bad memories of last year's cancelled Half Marathon due to thunderstorm.


It took me almost 2 years to dream, dare and try. And one item from my bucket list is ticked off now.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon - 2015 - Race Recap

I registered for Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon on an impulse. Just to bolster my confidence for the upcoming Marathon. I had it on my calendar but never did register till few days back. I did not trust my schedule to let me any long run before Marathon and opted to pay for a long run with the convenience of water & other support. Plus I got curious to see the route. I have never run this race before.

Packet pickup was on Saturday. We had not been to this area, so it was useful to scout the route to start line. And on 3rd May Sunday morning, all of us left home early.  Hubby dropped me at the school for the shuttle bus to starting line and then off he went with kids for breakfast. It was a pleasant 75F, with summer just about to start, and so a pretty good crowd. Just the right kind of day to be outside.

The starting corral was very slow moving. It was in a quint little town streets, with cute shops and sculptures everywhere. Soon after the race started, there they were. Hills. And then around some lakes. And then hill again and ponds, and hill and lake and that's how it went. By the time I reached 5.5 mile, where relay exchange happened, I realized there were freaking hills in like every single mile. I was muttering fk in pretty much every breath. And here, my feet cushion below my toes started hurting. Like I had cement for sole in my shoes. I was worried I would have to dropout, but turns out I was stronger than that. The pain disappeared after 2-3 miles.

Rest of the route wounded around the large part of a lake, right in front of the houses. But it was hilly throughout. There were lake houses dotting the route throughout. At 10 mile point , a father was working in his lawn and kid was eating ice-cream, I heard the kid say, "But they are not running" :D And father clarified, "Ya they have run a lot & are tired." Good to hear the defense. At the starting line, I had seen an Indian couple in their late 40's and then at mile 11, where the lady had some knee pain. But they stuck together and I saw them at the finish line later.

I could not appreciate the views - tiny towns, greenery, houses with acres for front-yard, ponds & lakes. They were beautiful. People stepped out of their house to cheer the crowds run. Reminded me of the Lola Half route in Waconia from last year. I won't be doing Lola this year because its 1 week after my scheduled marathon. Both were similar views. I so wish I had carried my iPod for pictures. But all my summer races without jacket are without any route pictures. I did not train to run with the shoulder patch or belt to carry the iPod.

This race was 10 days after the Get in Gear, which had my personal worst performance. So I could use the learning's which were fresh in my mind. My outfit was minimal. No jacket at all. Shoes were well-worn.

The finish line was at a beautiful location in Excelsior. Commons Park was at a beautiful rocky beach of Lake Minnetonka. It was soothing to sit by the side, pleasant water spray and waves.

This event also had a kids run. It was fun for my kids, who met another friend. They are always thrilled to get the Medal, Shirt and  Mall of America Nickelodeon tickets.




My T-shirt and Medal for this race were quite good.





Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Arsenal for Kids studytime

My arsenal for kids homework. It make kids homework time , a lot more fun - for Parents ! And this is focused on Pre-K, K and 1st grade kids.


Half the time, kids give ideas on how to use the same-old tool in different way. Nothing can beat our jaded brains than the freshly minted creativity of a kids.
And the other half-time, I rely on homeschool blogs. They have done so much hard work and shared their knowledge. Hats off to those home-schooling parents.

What better tools to learn new words than flash cards, magnetic letters or Scrabble letters and Marker pens. 

Here I enclosed Read-Build-Write printouts in plastic.





Eventually practice with spelling tests.
Name-Place-animal-Things game - nostalgic and awesome tool for all round development of language. Older kids have to brain-storm through their data mine and achieve speed. But younger kids can hunt the right word on maps or books and write the entries. that will build their database.

Number grid - the most powerful tool of all. Can teach a variety of things - like count by 2,3,4,5,10; additions, subtractions. Because seriously, how many times can you write these things, over and over again ? And how will it reveal the stuff between the lines ? 
By using it like a board games - that's how !
So we used:
  1. 2 players
  2. pair of dice (pink ones at that)
  3. printed number grid
  4. Barbie shoes for keys
And practice additions, subtractions & mystery numbers with pebbles, toy-cars and other small objects.


Links:

  1. Materials & methods to keep toddlers busy.
  2. Math paper generator: Math-aids
  3. Math worksheets: math-salamanders 
  4. Word games & word-shape Worksheet generator: softschools 
  5. Printable worksheets: tlsbooks
  6. Flashcards: havefunteaching
  7. Graphing: kidslearningstation
  8. Blog: Confessions of a Homeschooler