Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Drinking vessels make no noise

I really like drinking in earthen and glass containers. Today I had gone to the fine-arts facility to pick up a broken piece of ceramic to keep in my fish bowl. Apparently, Betta fish appreciate the hiding place. While I was there, I picked up this discarded cup.
I am now using it to drink tea in. It reminds me of the sort of earthen cups that are used for serving tea on the Indian Railways. They always add a special flavour to the tea. Unfortunately, my new cup doesn't quite manage that. However, it looks splendid. I took some pictures with my

Smoking to dog droppings

So I found a very interesting setup as I walked home today. There was a used pack of cigarettes on the ground. The label on the Marlboro packet said: "If you decide to quit smoking..." In addition, they made a big large friendly green arrow on the packet. What could this possibly mean? Why would anyone pick up a pack of Marlboro if they decided to quit smoking?

However, the angels parted the clouds of my confusion by directing my attention to was lying right next to the packet. I found the relics of a dog (see picture) that presumably hadn't dropped "as the gentle rain from heaven/Upon the place beneath" and the issue of their being twice blessed is also debatable.

The universe made absolute sense for a fleeting moment.

So whenever you meet a smoker who talks about quitting next week (which they often do for many years before dying of lung cancer), you should suggest the Marlboro way.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mangled Mumbai

I can't believe the recent events in Mumbai (still Bombay for many). It's insane! Only, it's not. It's a fiendish plan to destabilise India's recent efforts to befriend its testy neighbour (Pakistan). It's also frightening that the gunmen were specifically looking for British and American citizens. They pointedly ignored an Italian man and looked for Brits and Yankees. This is a smart way of scaring US and UK citizens away from India and slowing down the economy.

Terrorist attacks have become an annual event in Mumbai. This latest outrage however differs from the usual bombing. My fear is that future terrorists will see the success of this model of attack and emulate it in the future. I fear that this isn't the last we've heard of posh hotel seiges.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Majorly idiotic responses

I am a biology major and I am applying to medical colleges. I hate admitting it in general. Seriously, I am quite secretive about my name and major in general. Do you know why? Just go on reading.

Idiot: So what's your major.
Me: I study Biology.
Idiot (good response): oh that's awesome.

Idiot (anoying response): Biology is just stamp collection for girls. Mathematics and Physics are the true sciences.

Idiot (bad response): You must have to learn a lot of stuff by heart. There's nothing difficult about Biology; it's a lot of mugging-up. (Me: Why, thank you!)

Idiot (Worse response): Ewww...I hated science. I sucked at it in High School. How can you like it? Do you like it? (Me: Of course not; I am just a masochist.)

Idiot (pretending to be smart): What's your research on?
Me: Well, I work with genes in a plant.
Idiot: Genetics!! Oh, can you clone me?
Me: Well, I could give you cancer...

Things get even worse when I mention the pre-med part.

Idiot (bad response): Oh, my grandmother has [insert obscure disease] and her doctor prescribed [insert obscure medicine/surgery]. I think my doctor is a crook, though. Do you think he's fleecing us? (Me: There's this nice medicine called Potassium Cyanide...)

Idiot (worst response): Dude, can you take a look at my [insert embarrassing organ of your choice]? I think I have a problem... (I usually recoil in horror)

Idiot (really slappable response): Doctors are even bigger cheats than lawyers. They overcharge you and then they kill you! (Ohhkkk....)

Idiot (flattering but stupid response): So what do you want to be?
Me: Umm...perhaps a surgeon.
Idiot: Oh, that's intense.
*looks at me in a new light as if he's seen a halo around my head*
Me: Ermm...I am not a surgeon yet, you know.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Mojave Experiment


This is kinda cool. People were asked what they thought of Windows Vista. Almost all said that it sucked. Then, they were shown a new windows operating system called "Windows Mojave" and asked what they thought of it. 94% of the people said that it was amazing. At that point, they were told that it was actually Windows Vista they'd seen. There's nothing called Windows Mojave.

Isn't it typical? People tend to form opinions about things without knowing anything about them at all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

peevish emus and extinct predators

The emu's thoughts may be summarised as follows: "You gloating scoundrel, if it weren't for this cage, I'd fix you. Don't forget that my hugely great grand-daddy was a T. rex who'd chew your entire family up for a mid-morning snack!"

Those who know me well know that I love dinosaurs. One person who probably knows me best calls me a velociraptor. This is one of my favourite images; I took it on my way to a holy shrine in West India. I think this was the first time I ever believed that the birds around us are the last remaining dinosaurs. Their feet look exactly like those of most predatory dinosaurs such as T. rex. In fact, The T. rex is more closely related to birds than it is to a Triceratops. Cool, eh?

Childish Scientist I am.

I am really a child.

In some way, I still find it terribly awesome to be doing really really dangerous stuff; it's absurd. Today, I was making a solution of an antibiotic called chloramphenicol in the lab and, due to the dangerous nature of the chemical, I had to put on a gloves, a mask, and protection goggles.

I just had to take a photograph. Maybe this is just my way of flaunting my work to non-science people. Basically, I am saying: "Ha Ha, you guys aren't awesome enough to do this."

Yes, I am absolutely pathetic.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Well, theoretically....

This is an evil rant.

Have you ever spoken to a geeky creature who looks like he spends the best part of his life hiding from the sun in a windowless room where he spends 16 hours surfing the net? Such denizens of the dark usually are part of three or four hundred different social-networking site, trying to fool themselves into thinking that they are loved by people they don't really give a flying toss about. A common characteristic of this species is the frenetic pace at which they change their profile pictures and favourite quotes section on facebook.

If you walk in on them while they're in the midst of making really scary youtube comments (example: Yo, jojosunlovesmarilynmonroe66, I have done a statistical analysis of the stupidity of your comments and it is apparent to me that your kind needs to be eradicated. Give me your address and I will come and inject you with madcow disease so that you can die after writhing in agony.), they will look at you with bespectacled, bewildered, blinking eyes. Now, I am a strong man at heart and pretty dauntless in general, but I generally recoil out of the room when confronted with that bewildered look. I think I am fair in christening this species as Homo unpleasantus. I am pretty sure that they can't breed with Homo sapiens sapiens anymore.

Well, they irritate me.

One aspect of this extremely creepy species that particularly annoys me is their tendency to begin every reply with the word "theoretically".

I may have miscommunicated previously by lending a sliver of intelligence to the specimen's youtube comment. Usually, they come equipped with imaginative grammar; are physics/computer science/maths geek-wannabes; believe that their squalid taste in art renders them on a higher plane than everyone around them; and are basically destined to be punched violently in the throat. I am sorry; they're usually complete morons who suffer from an everest sized delusion of grandeur with respect to their intellect. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that they tend to begin all their answers with the aforementioned word.


Me: What time is it?

Homo unpleasantus: Theoretically,....

Me: Why did the chicken cross the road?

HU: Theoretically,...the copenhagen interpretation of quantum electrodynamics states...

Would you like strawberry or vanilla?


What's your name?

Err...basically,....but theoretically....

May I punch you very violently in the throat and then proceed to jump up and down on your limp form on the floor?


Yes, they are incapable of beginning a sentence without their favourite crutch: "Theoretically,..." I can't stand this anymore. Theory doesn't figure in your selection of ice-cream or your desire to avoid being beaten to within a femtometre of your life. Someone needs to do one of two things: round them up and treat their addiction to this word or punch all of them damn hard in the throat so that they're, theoretically, never able to say theoretically again.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Really random thought about thinking

I do my best thinking in the bathroom.

Today, a thought struck me in the Writing Centre's rather decent lavatory: why do we hold our chins while thinking. Here are two examples.

I don't think putting our hands there helps the brain work any better. I asked my fellow tutors and they said that it probably made people look smarter. That's circular logic in my opinion. People put their hands on their chins while thinking; intelligent people think a lot; therefore, being seen with your hand on your chin seems intelligent.

Personally, it looks ridiculously pretentious. Ever seen a really bad author picture on the back flap of a book? I mean, this guy writes a puny little essay on Shakespeare's work and feels entitled to throwing in a picture with his chin resting on his right hand as he gazes stoutly at the horizon while considering the complexity of the cosmos. It's really ridiculous.

While I am asking random questions, I think I'll ask another one that struck me today: can we milk whales? Think about it; it might be the solution to world hunger and the whale extinction problem. A blue whale is 77m long! I am going to search assiduously for the answer now.


I found the answer to the Blue whale question on http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schooladventures/planetocean/bluewhale.html

"A blue whale's milk supposedly tastes like a mixture of fish, liver, milk of magnesia, and castor oil. Bleech! But it's very rich and nourishing for baby blues. A baby blue whale drinks over 50 gallons of its mother's milk in a day. In its first several weeks of life, it gains 10 pounds an hour or a little over 200 pounds a day!"

And that's why we don't milk Whales instead of the comparatively puny cows.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Escape from Dubai

I think these videos speak for themselves. Unfortunately, you have to be bilingual in English and Hindi to fully understand what's going on. Basically, my mom decided that it would be a great idea to make a video recording just before I went to the airport to return to New York. My dad is featured in an embarrassing state of undress and my mom is caught chastising me for plotting against my brother. I am seen doing precisely what I did for the entire month I spent in Dubai: removing mattresses and the bed sheets from the floor. Still, it's a peek into my domestic life if you're interested.

Guru Shah Rukh

I freely admit that I learned how to romance girls from Shah Rukh Khan. In case you're wondering what that way is, I'll tell you. It's over the top and it's retarded, but I just can't seem to shed his influence. Mercifully, now that I have stopped trying to impress every girl I meet, there's a lower chance of me causing some perfectly nice girl to foam at the mouth and take up a religion devoted to my destruction.

Don't blame me; I was an idiot child! How was I to know that this would be the most misguided decision of my adult life?

Anyhow, to atone for my sins and to pretend as if I have been cured of the Shah Rukh bug, I have made a video to parody his entry in "Kal Ho Na Ho". Now anyone who knows New York at all knows that you can't fly form India and arrive in Manhattan via the Libetry island ferry. Normal people usually arrive via the JFK airport or (if you are of the perverse disposition) via LaGuardia. However, that's the impression the movie gives us. Anyway, that was the last thing on my mind when I made this video.

The perplexing thing about SRK are some really quirky SRK-isms. For instance, he can't stop playing with his hair (I hear that's a good way to promote follicular growth). The most ridiculous example, obviously, is that grand spreading of the arms in an ambitious attempt to hug the cosmos. The really frightful thing is that people actually love him for all that.

I braved the loss of a considerable number of hair in the making of this video. Unfortunately, I don't have enough of them to pull off the real SRK magic, but one must improvise. I must admit that I really really really wanted to do the aforementioned cosmic embrace, but even I, with my squalid, sordid, and disreputable image, couldn't afford to receive the sure censure of my fellow passengers that the act would have indubitably earned me. Some inhibitions must never be shed.

Serious science...not

This is what we do in our lab under the pretext of doing serious science. We added ethanol to some dry ice that had come with a package of enzymes. The mist was awesome. Dry ice can transform me into an 8 year old in an instant. Seriously, I can't wait to order a new enzyme just so that I can get another box of dry ice to play with!!!

Killing time

Evil guy: "After I kill you, I'll eat your flesh!"
Assiduously fighting Ninja looking chap: "You have bad taste."

That's all I heard before I reeled from the movie on my wheeled chair. Honestly, can we sink any lower in our desperate attempt to kill time during long, passive processes such as the agarose gel electrophoresis which must be ending just about now?

I have to go, but those lines needed to be memorialised in case I ever misguidedly decide to do a post-doc in molecular biology.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


It's really amazing how being absolutely alone in the lab (and possibly the whole science building) on a weekend is a soul sapping experience. Normally, I am given to being quite fine by myself, but working alone in a sub-subterranean lab really strips you of the ability to be a lone wolf. It also makes me hate everyone outside the science building (which is basically the entire set of people in the world since I am usually alone in the science building at such moments of despair). I sometimes feel like the belicose Silastic Amorfiends of Striterax (just read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy anytime I become incomprehensible). Actually, I feel more like Wowbagger the infinitely prolonger. He was a guy who had an accident with two rubber bands, a liquid lunch, and a particle accelerator. COnsequently, he became immortal. Eventually, he got so tired of the universe that he took it upon himself to zip around the universe and insult each and every organism in it; he proceeded to do so alphabetically.

I should not become a researcher.