Friday, June 30, 2017

Devaluing Math & Science

I have to begin with sharing Vinod Khosla's medium post.

Is majoring in liberal arts a mistake for students?

Critical Thinking and the Scientific Process First — Humanities Later

So happy this is being spoken about now. Till middle-class parents kept saying this to their kids, it was uncool. I hope more cool folks spell it out too.

There is an India version and simplistically put, yet highly precise, on Live Mint.

Literature graduates aren’t the answer to India’s job woes

There is an urgent need for a revamp of the education system to provide holistic learning which includes crucial skills that allow a person to earn a reasonable livelihood

There is this thing that has creeped in wildly into popular culture. That Math Trigonometry, Science - Bad bad; Humanities - goody good. It's become the lazy go-to point to create sympathy. Or to make a point.

In a lot of fiction or near fiction writing, it is a general lazy-trend to "imply" that Math-Science is forced by parents on unwilling high-schoolers while humanities is an loved and the only preferred option by kids.

For example, this one.
17 Kaafi Useless Things All Indians Were Taught In School That We've Never Needed As Adults
How is any of these useless? Is twitter & argumentative training the only thing needed ?
Why this intense effort to devalue Math & science and only promote Humanities and Performance Arts ? How did they come up with a list like this ? How did they expect anyone who went to school in 90s to agree with them ? Have they not seen the large nostalgia packages, specifically 90s kids ones ?

There is beauty in life, in grown-up adult life thanks to Math and Physics as well as Geography and History. Knowledge of History gives you enough fodder for gossip. And that Geography gives you the wanderlust, enough to make you a camera yielding globe-trotter, even while whirling around sometime mundane 8-5 day job.

Negating a child's achievement of 50% or 98.8% because the neighbors kid got 99.2% - now that is deplorable horrible parental behavior. And that is a totally different thing. I mean if not anything else, but just the role models of internet should be enough to show that the nerds rule the world, not sports jocks (to use 2 terms, I have no idea what they actually mean in life). Sheer diversity in Science and Technology fields, along with well-paying career path in those, are alone to lure kids in STEM path.

But the same whisper campaign continues against corporate jobs. Drudgery, non-challenging 8-5 desk jobs. Oh the disdain, at a well-paying job which keeps your personal life in order. This kind of motif has taken on the Gemino Curse or Doubling charm and multiplied throughout MSM generated opinion articles.

I have lost a friend when I shot back in rant, when he tried to shame me, for not working on a book or film-making. Publishing a book or making a short, feature or commercial film is a career boast, when your profession is politician speech writer, or award function script writer or astro-science technology news-writer, basically part of the writing or film-making world. If not, then it makes makes no sense to dedicate a huge portion of your day away, from your priorities, towards some kind of day-dream when no specific real-life plan in place to jump orbits.

I can't even begin to list, how many kids I have met, who have been exceptional in their STEM fields and yet faced self-doubt because it's more glamorous to write a book or make a movie. If anything, this is the time when you can do both. It is so possible to come back from office and indulge in activities that bring in joy. Take classes or be active in leagues in art, cricket, sports, fitness, writing. There are just way too many forums to compare notes, and then to showcase your output.

Unless the regret is not being part of the industry, living a life of 24/7 thinking, talking, meeting people absorbed in that world. I agree if the longing is for that, then the secure, methodical, "well-settled" life brought by a corporate job is not the same.

A huge amount of Political science material and generic literature have been generated by folks, who went through the technical stream. Loads of runners, musicians, artists all hold a corporate day job thanks to their technical studies. It keeps them from being starving moody artists.
How can dedicating a life to hedonism be glorious ? Its only self-destruction.  Actually a lot of literature has been created by those living a mundane life. Technical studies are not a lost opportunity here. Instead it builds the very strengths these creators have - discipline, networking, technology tools.

To quote Stephen King (from this panel in Zen Pencils), "Life isn't a support system for art. Its the other way round."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bus stops - Dwitiya - The Americas

Minnesota bus-stop photo, in the first post Bus Stops Bus Goes, grew insane, so here comes the sequel post.


Metro transit in Minnesota connects all suburbs to downtown and few other main places. It goes via the expressways and once in a town, it stops every 2 blocks. Then these are connecting stations in major malls.

Bus-stops in quint suburbs are amusingly simple but just as efficient. First reaction is, "Is this it ?" Disbelief, "Will the bus really stop here ?"

I have seen butterflies at a neighborhood Bus Stop. Which is very impossible at a Bangalore Bus-stop given the crowds, and noisy vehicle around. But that did happen at a Minnesota bus-stop - in Spring yes. (Need a special reminder as Minnesota is synonymous with snow).

In Office districts, there are stops where multiple numbers buses will stop, every 2 blocks.

And then there are some with shelters.

Bus stops at shopping malls, have multiple shelters for buses spreading in different direction and connecting other malls.

Speaking of snow,  Metro buses are just as functional in Winters. A sudden snowstorm before the rush hour, will give no time for cleaning up the roads and only that can delay the bus arrival timing.  Otherwise its business-as-usual in winter.

Along with Metro Transit, there are few other private service from suburbs to downtown. Some fancy with Wifi for those who want to start work before reaching office.

Metro monorail connecting Downtown, Mall of America, Airport and those in between. Great way to beat the parking hassles in those areas. Trust me, I agree now after facing 45 minute wait in 1 mile to VMAC parking near Minnehaha Falls. I kept looking longingly at this monorail while locked in my car waiting for the queue to crawl forward. I made it to the race startline with few minutes to spare.


Here is the sole surviving photo of my 2005 trip to Toronto. I was so impressed by my first visit trip in a non-Indian subway, I wrote an entire post about it. but alas without pics. Clicking every single thing was not as epidemic in 2005.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Running Fuel

On the topic of nutrition for a long run, a whole lot of articles have been written in detail. I don't want to copy-paste any, so have the links in below section.

Here I will just summarize the points which I would usually say verbally to anyone in concise manner. But reading about fueling, is very good for the understanding this concept and then come up with your own solution for your long runs.

Any run beyond 1 hour means blood sugar/glucose is exhausted and you are running on empty tank. Since the wheels are still rolling you don't notice. And then suddenly legs and brain come to a stand still and you wonder what happened ? Sheer will-power will get you only so far. This is the reason to eat up something before that 1 hour is up. And then every 30-40 minutes.

And that something is at least 200 calories with sufficient carbs in it.

If you run in loops, then leave the food/nutrition with water at your rest stop. If its a no-repeat trail, then many belts & backpacks are available to carry nutrition with you.

Nutrition choices are enormous. It can be locally available fruits (banana, figs, dates, candied pineapple, Agra petha) and/or processed options (Clif bars, Gu, beans, gels, electrolyte/Gaterade/Powerade).

Getting an electrolyte drink along with water is crucial. It will refill the electrolyte lost in sweat. And it will help body absorb the plain water you are drinking.

The glucose-dense food will quickly nourish, after the stores are exhausted after 1 hr run. They give the jump needed to go the extra mile.
The main tip here is, to remember to refill before your body exhaust. Cause the newly ingested food will take sometime to kick in.

This covers for runs which last longer than an hour.
If your intention for running is weight-loss, then these food items are not the ones you want to skip. You can skip carbs from some other meal. But you need these run-nutrition, simply to finish your long runs in good shape and mood.
For short runs, lasting below 1 hours, there is no need to indulge in these supplementary foods (candies really).

Plug to my old post: How to get started with Running - 101


Runner World Links:

How to Fuel for a Half Marathon | Runner World

How to Eat During Long Runs | Runner's World

The Proper Way to Fuel Before a Long Run | Runner's World

What to Pack for Fueling on Race Day

Mid race Fuel - Runners World

Fueling For Long Runs

Best Sports Drinks for Long Runs

Stay Hydrated on a Hot Run

The Proper Way to Fuel Before a Long Run

For Super athlete:

A Fueling Plan for Every Distance

Fuel the Machine: Eating to Maximize Endurance Exercise Performance

Power Up Your Performance with Taper-Week Nutrition

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Different worlds

They say its a small world. I always felt it's a really large world.

Often times when I am chatting with someone from the same background, age, growing up city as me, and i happen to mention some pop culture refrence or event of that time, and when they says, "What was that?", it stumps me. "Did we live in the same world?", I wonder. It took me time to figure that there are multiple worlds really.

Being in a non-makeup world, someone would not know what concealer is? Or get excited about the beauty of a half-moon handbag.

Cricket is supposed a binder for Indians. But now, it is IPL vs other T20 vs One day vs Test matches vs Local league matches. There are just way too many to keep track of. Then there is Cricket vs Football. Football with its innumerable Clubs, international and local.

That dreamy world of being a Fan of a movie star. Oh its an endless rabbit-hole. Something that has been united into Fan Clubs, even before the online world made its presence. Its self-absorbing world and can get combative when faced with imagined rivals. Now the fan clubs have diversified, to catchup with the diverse set of celebrities. Just their social media shows the mind-boggling number of followers (mix of fake and real).

TV show world as well. There are a 1000s shows to choose from, in different languages and genres. We can totally drown in a TV show, know everything about the story line, sub-story, cast, background info. Even fan fiction. Cross-overs. Heartache when the favorite character dies or actor changes or anything bad happens. But the person next door in our real life, maybe living in a different TV show world.

So many of the 90s and before shows were epic and have a thread of nostalgia for that generation. That's because those were the only show every watched and hence more common things to discuss. Even with Cable arrival for nearly a decade, there were every few top ones and they were watched by all. Its only 00s or later, that the audience split, so even each in a family have their own choices. And with Netflix and other streaming ones and different unwinding times, the islandification will be complete.

Books have long been that individual pods we can escape into. The cozy private world, inhabited by whatever the books has painted. It can be argued that these books, shows and movies and fan following is all imaginary world. Its in the mind. Real life is with family and friends. But here too exist those division building their own exclusive words.

In real life,
the student worlds of tween, teen and collegiate
vs single new adult world
vs couple world
vs parents of single child
vs parents of multiple children
vs parents of small kids
vs parents of grownup kids
vs single working parents vs both working parents
vs empty nesters
vs retirees.
Perspectives are so different for each of these age groups. Every time I read a blog or article or even book, I wish, they would print the age of the writer at the time of writing. Even though the work will gain its own life in future, its worth knowing what kind of eyes wrote it ?

World of actual people cliques and social media cliques behave so differently.

No wonder data is the God today. Marketers would like to aim right at their targets and get better success rate at lesser costs.

After obsessing over a book, its characters or a movie and knowing everything about it. After residing its world, no matter how far removed it might be in time or space, there comes a time of realization that that world is imaginary. Its not real and can never be reached ever. The world we left behind. Of our 20s, our teenage, our childhood. It can't be revisited on this plane. This realization is  when the obsession ends.

So there ! There is hardly any overlap in world. Every time we step from one world into another, whether physical world or online, among people of different worlds. Instead of feeling inadequate or self-doubt, remember that its impossible to master all worlds. There has to be a pause for learning, for fitting in.

No one can change other people. They are what they are in that situation. Trick is to avoid that situation. Avoid landing in that world. There are multiple worlds co-existing. Just reside in the one which works for you.

Its such a large world and there are so many multiple worlds, we often don't meet those we intersected before. Sometimes this is a great argument for "What will they think ?" kind of thinking.