Friday, February 27, 2009

Flame On...!

A friend of mine recently got married and the happy couple seems to be super busy in their pursuit of exploring as many places as they can ever since. This interesting couple (I wish I could add links to Facebook profiles of Tc & Jz but there might be privacy concerns you see ;)) resolved to explore East coast of America in 1st Quarter of 2009 and from the number of Picasa Album updates-I can safely presume that their Tour d'America is well on track! We have always heard about the importance of teamwork and synergy at our workplaces but Tc and Jz reinforce the fact that as individuals we can harmonize our contributions and work towards a common personal goal too.

Before I pen down more about their escapades (Winter biking trips, Cruise trips, Rainforest hikes etc.-both these active members of LP are well beyond crazy), their latest plans intirgued me a bit. Tc and Jz are planning for camping in NH this weekend (Shhhhh-the place is a closely guarded secret :D) and are sending out invites to their close pals with one strange prerequisite-a 50% plus score on a quiz called Fire-IQ. Doesn't this sound odd? I was a bit taken aback upon learning about this condition (it was like a dent on male chauvinism you see ;)) and decided to attempt the quiz right away.
How I felt post the quiz - Enriched and Cheerful ! I said to myself "Wow, There are so many new facts we can learn everyday provided we remain receptive to ideas and connected to friends." Thanks a lot for sharing the quiz Tc and Jz-you kind of made my evening!
Before you attempt the quiz(I know you are curious:)), few words of wisdom - "Don't be either alarmed or discouraged if you find that your Fire-IQ is not as high as you might have hoped. Have a pen and paper handy and take notes while attempting the quiz and treat it like a game!". Hats off to
Keith McCafferty for creating this quiz. What an amazing way to pack seemingly boring and tough facts together and adopt cool strategies such as catchy one-liner feedbacks (my fav ones are below) that make you smile, images that make you think, illustrations that make you say 'Hummm' etc. Wish all tests offered as much fun.
  • Congratulations. You've made fire!
  • You are dead wrong, no pun intended!

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, hit the "Start the Quiz" button. Once finished you can certainly utter the now famous punch line of the Human Torch from FF4 - "Flame On":) Happy Learning folks !

"Smile, it is the key that fits the lock of everybody's heart."~Anthony J. D'Angelo

PS: Now on-I'll be posting links to an interesting ebook and a supposedly nice song :) Hope you like them!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Modern Pilgrimage...!

[Image Courtesy - Cleartrip]

What would you do when you are supposed to visit almost all major Indian cities, meet all possible relatives, buy tons of presents - all this in just a week's time ! Oh and yes - you are making a BIG career move in the same week as well. Well, I am sure that with so much on the agenda, any normal homo-sapien is bound to seek external help (Friends, Relatives, Travel Agents or Divine help - depends on individual beliefs :)) .

Based on this assumption (Hey hang on a sec-I know this is an incorrect English Usage and presumption is the right word in this context but you see old habits die hard and I am still learning the nuances of English Language :)), I and my sister decided that we got to help our parents navigate past this tough situation-afterall we (thought we) are equipped with all possible amunitions viz. Credit Cards-VISA/Discoverer/Amex with Gold/Silver/Platinum Memberships (wish they had something called Uranium Membership too:)), internet ready Laptops, URLs of 10 search engines to grab the perfect ticket deals and ofcourse oozing aplomb required during such testing times. Now, before you conclude that every parent should have kids like us (and wish us luck, happiness and merry times...Ok stop Chinmay!) you might wish to know what happened when we called up our parents yesterday in anticipation that we will be declared the "perfect kids" right away !

Me (on behalf of myself & Surabhi-my sis) placed a call to our parents yesterday (Thanks for providing the superlative service Airtel) , wished them "Good Morning" and asked them right away about their travel dates so that we can quickly start our operation "Perfect Kids". To our utter surprise, it turns out that they already took care of every aspect of their trip-from shopping to booking air tickets to hiring cabs for local commute to hiring Agarwal Packers (They are the UHaul of India) and what really shook us was they planned and executed everything in just a couple of hours !!

Within moments, I changed the topic (I have learned to dodge disappointments in novel ways and what a wise decisioj it was indeed :D) briefed them about my latest (cooking) adventures, discussed couple of crazy ideas I have been getting oflate and brought the conversation to a close in 10 minutes. Phewwww !!

The question that stayed unanswered was-How did they do it - Was it some kind of "Inside Box" approach or was it planning using Post-It Notes or did they use Zoho? Well, we don't know but we'll continue our pursuit of trying to be responsive, cool and adventurous kids Dad/Mom :D.

Njoi this track for now and do check out Cleartrip-one of the hottest site in India these days. These folks seem to be really putting lots of efforts (technical and creative both) month after month and I am certainly amazed!

Click on the Image above (or here) to and enjoy this amazing track called "Change Your Mind" by Sister Hazel !

"I was born not knowing and have only had a little time to change that here and there."~Richard Feynman

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Eye on Zimbabwe...!

[Image Courtesy - The Difference Magazine]
While International concern has been building up against the current Zimbabwean Government since couple of months, the latest Cholera outbreak in the country hurts the prevailing helpless state of affairs (inadequate drinking water supply, weak health system, collapsed social infrastructure, poor land reforms policies etc.) in this African country. I must admit that conversation with a lady (Nyarin is a Zimbabwean Immigrant) in Library last evening shook me to the core and I just hope and pray that things get back to their normal self in Zimbabwe soon. Here's a quick chronicle of the crisis:
  • At independence [April 18, 1980], Zimbabwe was one of the most promising countries in Africa with a one of the region’s highest literacy rates, thriving agriculture industry and a robust healthcare system and everyone seemed optimistic about future of the nation.
  • Robert Mugabe, who was elected as President, took many strategic decisions, made significant investments in healthcare and education systems. A very strong agricultural sector and country's committment to allround development helped Zimbabwe gain a significant position amidst the developing African nations.
  • However, by the late 1990s the situation totally reversed with sky high inflation, severe food shortages, widespread epidemics and breakdown of basic public services due to unexplainable socio-econmic policies by Mugabe's government and lack of willingness to change in accordance with the external factors.
  • Last year, WHO announced that Zimbabwe had the shortest life expectancy in the world - 37 years for men and 34 years for women. This sure was a very very disturbing news for the whole world.
  • In 2008, Morgan Tsvangirai, who leads Zimbabwe’s main opposition party (Movement for Democratic Change) challenged Mugabe for the presidency. However, members of MDC encounteres severe resistance from Mugabe's camp.
  • Finally, Tsvangiri was sworn in as the Prime Minister last Wednesday[11th Feb, 2009] and he aims to put the country on a progressive track again. The best part is the ininhibited support Zimbabwe has from the African Union to realize this dream.

Personally, I feel that Zimbabwe certainly has the potential to tackle its seemingly unending crisis. (There's always hope!) The need of the hour for the nation is one to show the world that it is serious about the CHANGE (Tsvangiri to me seems the perfect man/leader for achieving this) and two to seek International support (WHO/AU/ONE) and sincere well wishes.

I thus request you to grab 10 seconds from your free time today (We are well-wishers right?) and join me in signing this petition (Thanks Much!) or even forward the same to your friends (Thanks sooooo much!). I strongly feel that each one of us can make a difference & like we always say at ONE - "Every Vote Counts!"

Make a Difference

"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform."~Mark Twain

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cleverness Squared...!

[Image Courtesy - KenKen]
What do you do when the thoughts in your mind flow like a running water and you find it hard to give your 100% attention to the coolest project amongst a dozen others you are pursuing at any time? (Now, that certainly sounds familiar :D). Well, the answer is simple, you engage yourself in activities that build your conctration and help you to FOCUS !

The other day a group of cheerful kids in the local Public Library caught my attention momentarily. They looked super excited and were discussing about some logic riddle. Now the word "puzzle" was sufficient for my brain to instruct my ear lobes to stretch themselves and make every possible attempt to learn about this supposedly cool puzzle. After a few minutes of eavesdropping (Hey I knoe its a bad habit but the situation was critical you see), I got the name of the puzzle - "KaneKane".

Very quickly I grabbed a vacant PC in the Library and googled for "KaneKane" only to learn that the correct name of the puzzle was "KenKen":( Anyways, I avoided the immediate disappointment by telling myself that it was more of an accent issue than a hearing issue (Yay-me !) and started reading more about KenKen. I learned that this puzzle was invented by Tetsuya Miyamato - a charismatic Japanese Maths teacher and almost every forum on the internet declared KenKen to be the best and the most brilliant successor of Sudoku. Waaaaoooow - I said to myself, I gotta solve one right away! See this is what happens when you go to Library with a humble ambition of end up doing everything but studying ;). But c'mmon you can do whatever you wish on the weekends-right? Anyways, here are some of the most appealing things about the Puzzle:
  • Quick: Unlike Sudoku, KenKen requires arithmetic (+, -, *, /) and it sure serves to recall the dormal High School Mental / Vedic Maths though its not a necessary prerequisite.
  • Cage Concept: In addition to seeing that any digit is not repeated in any row/column, one has to ensure that the digits within the cage (boldly outlined box) work out using the Arithmetic Oprn shown to yield the target number indicated.
  • Simplicity: The cages with just one box need to be filled in with the target number in the top corner and often you start solving KenKen by filling in these numbers first.
  • Meaning : It means Cleverness Squared :D

While I have always loved solving Sudoku or a Kakuro, KenKen beats them all for its so much more fun! Here are few links you might wish to check out when you wish to exercise your brain, reconnect with your love (with numbers I mean), build concentration and ofcourse join the global KenKen craze :D Happy Solving Folks !

Link 1 Link 2 Link 3 Link 4 Link 5

"When the impossible has been eliminated, then whatever remains, however improbable, is the truth.~Sherlock Holmes"

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Let me know if your face too registers a warm smile after watching this video. Lets hope that Windows 7 is equally amazing as well. (I certainly need plenty of convincing reasons to uninstall Ubuntu from my Tablet and load Windows instead :D.)

But this video seems to be a pretty impressive campaign by microsoft !
"Act out the experience that you wish to leave people with !"

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Acknowledging History...!

I am so amazed upon reading the following email today evening:
From: Bank of America [mailto:artsmedia@bankofamerica[dot]com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 6:00 PM
To: Gupta, Chinmay
Subject: Museums on Us from Bank of America

"This coming weekend get free admission to over 70 museums nationwide with Museums on Us™. Just present your Bank of America check, credit or ATM card, along with your photo ID." Click here to find the list of participating museums in your area, and to learn more about Museums on Us™

While my instant reaction was this, I did a quick computation to get the number of days between today and the last time I visited a museum and the revelation was certainly not a pleasant one! Very quickly, I checked the nearest public library's website and guess what I learned - There are over 25 museums around Boston - now that's certainly very very cool!

While I quickly narrow down the options, get new camera batteries, grab a Staples Recordbook (I love taking notes!), I think its worth mentioning a few points about what can be inspiring about any museum in general (Hope post reading the pointers, my roomie agrees to give me company as I explore one museum after another starting this weekend-Hehhheehh :)). Off to the essentials:
  • Visual Appeal: Stamps, ancient coins, wood cravings, manuscripts from the past - always have an amazing appeal specially when you find them housed in nice glass cases with a short description of the artefact. And such vivid visual patterns get recorded almost instantly in our minds. Which is why most of us find it easier to recall what we saw in the museum rather than what we read in a book/newspaper.

  • Vocabulary: If you represent 98% of the people (Yeah you'll find me in that bandwidth;)) who visit any museum, chances are that you might words/literature in the exhibit you have never heard of before. And believe me noting down some of that esoteric stuff can be really cool. All you have to do next is when you get back home, put that scary word in google search bar, check its usage in ordinary sentences and thats it. See you added a new word in your Vocab. Bravo!

  • Creativity: Have you ever noticed how the folks at museum come up with ways to market the museums in order to draw more crowds? While we all notice the museum listings on internet or in libraries-but have a look at the ad listing and you'll understand how much of reasearch is done by every museum to come up with an ultra-creative Ad.

  • Management: Museums perhaps require much more money than what you and me pay at the Ticket window for their expansion and upkeep. How do they manage to do this fund-raising? Think about it !

  • Euphoria: In any museum, you'll often hear those "What is this Mommy?" or "Why this is the way it is?" kind of questions kids shower their parents with. Now, if you are a parent, chances are that you'll be forced to put your thinking caps on to answer such questions. And if you do manage to give a convincing answer to your smart small wonder, you are going to feel very very happy inside! Bravo Again!

I have always believed that museums have a profound impact of our lives and psyche; but what really pushes me towards the museums (@ New Haven, DC, Chicago, Texas, NYC and now Boston) is that fact that people from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities often visit a museum purely out of interest and being a part of such "interesting" crowd can be wonderful in ways more than one. Enough said - do check out the museums in your proximity here. And Thank-You Bank Of America - I loved the idea and rest assured you have a happy customer here:)

Happy Exploring Friends !

"The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.~William James"