How class differences perpetuate. If you’re one of the fortunate ones, the least you can do is acknowledge it and not be an asshole.

99% of the Bitcoin Addresses have no Bitcoin Wealth. 1% of the Bitcoin community controls 99% of the Bitcoin wealth. So much for being egalitarian.

A Beach Vacation

Be patient. You’re on island time now” said a sign behind the counter at a coffee shop in Port Aransas. That’s exactly how we felt – on island time. With no pressing deadlines and nowhere to go, we could finally kick back and relax. Otherwise even vacations with tightly packed itineraries can be stressful for us. But this time, we did it differently.

Due to our busy work lives, we couldn’t get away last year. We finally got a chance to take a much-needed beach vacation before the summer heat sets in. Nothing too far or fancy, we booked a condo right off the beach at Port Aransas. This small town is on a barrier island off the south Texas coast. Most of the island is a protected reserve with the exception of several condominium complexes set right off the beachfront. No more than 3,000 people call this town their home and vacationers outnumber them 10 to 1 during the peak summer months. Our daily schedule was simple. Get up at leisure, have a quick and light breakfast in our condo and head straight to the beach. Spend couple of times on the beach with the kid who was returning to the coast after nearly 2 years. Since he’s just beginning to form memories, this could very well have been his first time.

As the sun rises, we drive down to the town’s center for some wonderful fish and shrimp tacos and then head back to the condo for a well deserved afternoon nap. Late afternoon, we could either hit the beach again or drive down to Padre Island, one of America’s ten national seashores. It’s a pristine naturally-preserved 50-mile coastline with only with seaweed as litter. It’s the perfect place for a long beach walks with the kid running up and down the beach with the occasional splash in the sea. We can stop for a while to gaze at some barnacle-crusted driftwood otherwise just pass other beach visitors who are just as peaceful.

The evening ends with yet another stomach-stuffing seafood right on the seafront in two of Corpus Christi’s famed restaurants. One of them offers excellent choices in fried seafood (fish, shrimp, oyster, crawfish, etc.) and the other is a slightly more-classy [1] place with grilled and stuffed fish. We head back to our condo and can take yet another walk on the beach, which is a mere 100 feet from our condo doorstep, separated only by grassy sand dunes. The other option during the evenings is to drive down to Corpus Christi, the larger town on the coast to visit the Texas State Aquarium or the USS Lexington, the now-retired aircraft carrier museum.

We just rinse and repeat our schedule for the next three days until it is time to leave which the kid obviously is not ready to. But return we must. But we’ll be back.

More photos after the fold:

Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. I use that term very loosely []

Changes. Again

Yes, this blog still lives. After a brief attempt at moving this blog to a blogging service where I wouldn’t have to pay for my self-hosting, I decided to persist with the current setup. I got an instant dose of the perils of such convenience even though the benefits are immense. Several hardcore bloggers with much superior tech skills have already made the jump so me still hanging around here seems insane. But for now, I’ll stay put. 

Since I was already digging around the backend of my blog, I decided to do what I always do when I can’t seem to think of what to blog about (rather what I rather not share anymore on this blog) – I installed a few plugins and changed the theme of the blog. Now I’ve to resist trying to tinker around too much and get back to posting more often. As a way to keep this blog active, I tried to select a theme that would let me showcase links that I find worth sharing. These were earlier shared on another blog that I doubt more than 5 people know about. I’ll try not to inundate with too many link for those few subscribers on this blog. 

PS. This is the first post I wrote on the iPad. I wonder why it took me this long coz I have written much longer content on it before. 

A field experiment about who gets free bus rides in Brisbane, a city on the eastern coast of Australia, shows that even today, whites get special privileges, particularly when other people aren’t around to notice.

Your brain is active when you sleep. One of the things that happens during sleep is that memories consolidate. That is, the things you were exposed to during the day are solidified in memory

If Asian Americans saw white Americans the way white Americans see black Americans

J.D. Power & Associates, a research firm, collects feedback on brands and products from consumers through surveys and shows ratings based on the feedback. When it shows ratings for service — for automobiles, for example — it generally breaks those ratings into a report that is separate from the ratings for the product.

Why is that? Dave Sargent, a J. D. Power executive who oversees automotive research, said that if people want to read about products, they can look up product ratings; if they want information on service, they can also look up reports on service.

Just last year, a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies looking at long-term consumption of coffee and the risk of cardiovascular disease was published. The researchers found 36 studies involving more than 1,270,000 participants. The combined data showed that those who consumed a moderate amount of coffee, about three to five cups a day, were at the lowest risk for problems. Those who consumed five or more cups a day had no higher risk than those who consumed none.

Justifying Violence

This statement was made by a recently-appointed Governor of Tripura. This isn’t about Gujarat but rather about the justification of violence. What happened in Gujarat was unfortunate but more than 13 years later, a public official can openly justifies the actions of a murderous few. Why? Simply because it is not an unpopular opinion in India. The general sentiment during and following any communal violence is that the other community should be taught a lesson. Often the lesson involves hacking to death innocent people of that community who probably had nothing to do with the act that people are offended by. It’s just like, advocating killing the nearest left-handed batsman if a left-handed batsman smacked a bowler with his bat in Australia. Apart from justifying violence as an appropriate reaction, people are often content to deflect the onus of “teaching them a lesson” onto others. So if a psychopath who would’ve otherwise committed a crime now feels emboldened. Most of us I’m sure will not kill anyone when it’s actually time to do so.

But still, such sentiments are expressed openly and without remorse even among close friends and family. I’ve heard them first-hand from people around me, men and women alike. Surprisingly, even from people whom otherwise you wouldn’t suspect of harboring such murderous tendencies in their hearts. Is it because they’ve never been told that such a reactions is in fact wrong? You live in your close circles where most agree with the sentiment and the tiny minority that doesn’t chooses to keep silent lest they be chastised for not agreeing with the majority.

Thankfully, in that sense, Twitter has been a boon. People especially openly tweet about what they think is the norm. It happened in the case of the Salman Khan verdict. Now they’re surprised by the backlash that such an opinion is in fact looked down upon. Maybe slowly, it will creep into their minds to be more civilized especially if you claim to belong to one of the oldest civilizations in the world.

Razorblogging Part Trois

Continuing the proud tradition of razorblogging on this blog, I present the third (trois) in the series to reflect the constantly shifting preferences to keep me free of facial hair. After going old school with a stainless steel razor for nearly four years, I’m back to the warm comforts of gliding safety razors that modern innovation has bestowed upon us. However, I do not go back to the arms of Gillette and its ever-increasing number of blades. Instead I decided to give the startup guys a chance. Currently I’m a month-old customer of Harry’s [1]. I heard about them on some tech podcasts and between the Dollar Shave Club, I decided to give them a try.

Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. Not an affiliate link and definitely not a paid review []

My Photo Management Approach

I’ve been interested and involved in amateur photography for a while now. I started shooting with film and even got around to developing in a darkroom before photography went completely digital. I think my parents still have my crappy first attempts at shooting the Taj Mahal when we first visited it in 1989.

Not Windows XP

Butler Park, Austin

It takes time to develop the technique and have an eye for capturing the right moments or the right angle but all I can say is that it gets better, the more you shoot. Shoot a hundred, keep about 10, and show only 3 and soon people start thinking that all of your photos look like the 3 you show them. You don’t have to dispel that notion.

But given the ease and often ephemeral nature of photos these days, don’t neglect the importance of backing up your photos. I’m describing the approach I use and yours may be different given the tools you use.

Continue reading

Experimenting with Composting

Sqrlta asked me to write a short post on my experiences with composting. There are several excellent how-to articles on the web on composting that may do a better job but this is my experience and suited for my purpose.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, we were lucky enough to have space demarcated for composting although it was an open-style composting made up of wooden planks and chicken mesh. The previous owners had simply dumped dry leaves and twigs in and weren’t actively composting kitchen waste. The first thing I did was remove the mesh and planks from one side of the composting area and place a plastic composting container that I got from Amazon.

Compost Enclosures

Compost Enclosures – one open and other closed

Although you get composting barrels that make for better aeration and stirring, I found those expensive for my first foray into composting[1]. Plus, this container perfectly fit in the current enclosure I had carved out. The important aspects of composting are that its bottom should be in contact with the ground so organisms like earthworms can make their way through your compost. It should be well aerated and needs to be frequently stirred. Ideally, it should be damp and should have a proportionate mix of brown (dry leaves, small twigs, etc.) and green waste (kitchen waste). The container did not take too long to assemble and I already had some dry brown leaves to start. Also, make sure to keep it covered with a tight lid at all times so you do not attract rodents. It is advisable to place the compost container/area a little away from the house or rather the entrances of your house.

Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. Most cities offer rebates for composting if you provide a receipt. Check with your city’s recycling/composting department first []

Spring Gardening Prep

It’s that time of the year again when the cold recedes and spring is around the corner. Although the winter isn’t much in Texas, it still prevents you from tending to your garden and everything looks dreary. We have two large live oak trees; one in the front yard and one in the back. The thing with live oak trees is that, they shed leaves in early spring instead of fall. So the truest sign of spring in our parts is when the ground is littered with an inch-deep layers of leaves. Now, you can’t start clearing them up because you’ve to wait until the trees have shed them all otherwise it’s just a futile effort at keeping your yard clean. For 2-3 weeks, your yard looks absolutely dreadful and only when you start seeing fresh buds on the treetops, should you consider cleaning up the leaves. You probably read about how much leaves those two trees shed.

Then follows the hard part; the personal part that you don’t pay someone else to do it because you want your personal touch. I’m talking about the flower beds, the planting beds, and the vegetable garden. We cleared out a corner of our front lawn because it was getting too much sun and not much grass was growing. So rather than force the hand of nature, we decided to plant some flowering and non-flowering/ornamental plants that loved lots of sun. Preparing such beds for the spring seems minor but is an arduous task. First it involves a trip to Lowes where you consider getting plants to replace the ones that did not work last year, plant food, some cow manure to boost, and of course, bags and bags of mulch [1].

However, this year it was different. We did not buy compost which otherwise is an integral part of prepping the garden for the new year. When we bought this house, we learnt that being Austin and all, the previous owners were very environment-friendly. Not only did they have water-saving adaptions in the water closet but also to our delight, two open-air compost enclosures. It wasn’t working exactly as composting should but at least it was a start. I could always work with what we got and then turn it into something we could actually use. I had read and done (rather got done) some composting on our farm in India but never actually done it on a daily basis. So how did we do? Well, I’ll keep that for the next post [2]

Footnotes:
  1. Trust me, you can never fall short of mulch []
  2. It will keep me coming back to write, right? []

Nothing Much To Say

Who says blogging has to be hifalutin[1]? Well, sometimes I do. We consider Twitter for stray random thoughts and reserve blogging for serious long rants or as they say now, think pieces. But it doesn’t have to be, just like this post proves it. I started typing without knowing what I was going to write and now I’m just making it up as I write.

I’m just enjoying a rare day when I have no pending tasks. Having submitted a much-worked-on deliverable today morning, I’m content enough to chill out in my freshly-cleaned backyard with a beer and this blog post. Our backyard was cluttered with leaves almost an inch-deep. Our regular lawn guy was out of town so it kept delaying but in hindsight, that let our two large live oaks shed all their leaves, like they do every spring. So basically we experience fall at the beginning of spring. Anyway, he finally got around to cleaning it up yesterday and had quoted us $5 per bag. Over email, he estimated it would be 5-6 bags. It ended up being 30 bags! Holy guacamole!

30 Bags of Live Oak

Anyway, now that it is clean, edged, and trimmed, the front and backyard look fabulous and will finally let us get started on our spring gardening. It’s the time we are probably better off direct depositing our paychecks to Lowes. But as I sit here in my backyard with a beer and 70F sunshine, it all feels worth it. Heck, I even tried out the latest in tech fads – Periscope live streaming.

Footnotes:
  1. isn’t that just oxymoronic? Damn, I did it again []