Monday, March 31, 2008

A Fresh Start

Inspired by Broom, I have gathered all the momentum I ever had and I am going to make this happen. Yes! I will start working out and shed all those pounds I "found" hibernating in the winter. I plan go to the gym at least thrice a week. Two sessions of cardio and one session of muscle building. Specifically, here is what I want to do with myself

Current weight: 125 lbs (Yeah, I cant believe I gained so much weight over the winter)
Target weight: 110 lbs
To loose: 15 lbs

If you visit my blog and read this post, please make sure to ask me if I worked out and where I am with my target. Oh btw this is not an April fools prank (I hope!)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Weekend Movie Marathon

Is there a better way to spend a cold weekend than watching movies? Yes, watching Good movies! I spent entire last weekend in a couch watching 4 movies and an entire season of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Here are some quick notes to make sure I remember all the stuff I watched.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S Season 5: With the plethora of reviews and blogs dedicated to this popular sitcom, I will write no more. It suffices to say that I like the series enough to spend a Friday evening watching an entire season in one go.

4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days: This movie started off well and like all the other reviews I read, threatened to be pretty graphic. It is the story of two young women in Romania, one of whom is pregnant and the other helps her through an illegal abortion. The first part of the movie was gripping with its very real scenes and extremely graphic dialogues. The movie builds up pretty well until the abortion actually happens. Then the movie is just left to hang in the air. For all of us who grew up watching masala movies with twist after twist, this one is just disappointing in the second half. Nothing really happens in the second half of the movie and the ending is a surprise because the movie ends when you really are anticipating something dramatic to happen. The extremely long shots were good initially, but they get boring after a point. The dialogue between the two girls and the man who performs the abortion, the scene where Otilia has dinner with her boyfriend's family are examples of how real movies can get. Overall an average movie especially for me because, if I am putting in an extra effort to pay careful attention to the sub-titles, then the movie better be real good.

The Whole Nine Yards: This movie is one of my favorite comedies and I enjoy watching it any number of times. Slick, funny, good plot and great one-liners make this movie complete entertainer. I am really surprised this movie has only a 6.6 rating on IMDB. But I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes the F.R.I.E.N.D-ly (sorry for the cliche) and nervous Matthew Perry.

Miss. Pettigrew Lives for a Day: We went to see this movie because of flopped plan to attend a Middle-eastern song and dance concert. One of those movies that you don't mind watching but complain about after you walk out of the cinemas. Its a typical bollywood-style movie with a young aspiring starlet who's life is in a mess with three men she is involved with for various reasons. Then walks-in Miss. Pettigrew, the street urchin posing as a social secretary, who not only sets the startlet's life in order in one day, but also manages to find love in a famous lingerie designer. Although his love is questionable considering they meet just for a few hours and that he finds designing the heel of a man's sock more difficult than a bra (Seriously!!?!). You can watch this movie if you have nothing better to do (like us) and want to show solidarity to a desi (that too a Gult) director in Hollywood.

Race: What were they thinking when they made this movie? The movie has every possible plot you can think of: murder, wife/partner-swapping, insincere cops, cheating secretaries, punar-janam and you-name-it. And honestly, the many twists and turns do nothing for the movie except making it an unintentional comedy. At no point is the movie believable and added to that insults your intelligence by elaborate spoon-feeding. People that are supposed to die always miraculously re-surface and people that are supposed to live, die or thats what the movie claims. I will not be surprised if a sequel comes out with all the people dead in this part re-surface with fresh vengeance. Please dont watch this movie unless you left your brain at home and enjoy the cheap thrills of watching scantily clad Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif and Sameera Reddy.

To get over the trauma of watching mostly bad movies, I had to go back and watch the classic Shiva. On that note, I think RGV needs to take a break, think hard and come up with another brilliant movie like this one instead of recycling movies.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Switch it Off

There has been a recent campaign doing rounds about switching off all electrical appliances for an hour on a certain day as part of conserving energy. Now it is a great idea for us to completely switch off all lights and electrical appliances for an hour and I have no doubts what-so-ever about how much energy can be saved in the process. There have been a lot of blog posts advocating this and spreading the word and a few have even taken it a step further to suggest interesting activities while we completely switch off.

The Mad Momma had one such post and says
Take a walk in the park, go for a drive (which once in a while is, I assure you, better than taking the car to work when you can take the metro, not carpooling and using it to cross the road to the grocery store!!) light up some candles on the terrace/balcony.
Now I fail to understand how driving a car is better than using electricity?

About 65% of electricity in India is generated from coal-fired power plants. Power plant emissions are known sources of Oxides of Nitrogen which have a direct consequence on ambient Ozone levels. Motor vehicles are major sources of known carcinogens like Benzene. Between Benzene and Ozone, I would rather have Ozone in the air than Benzene, exposure to which can be avoided by staying indoors during the peak Ozone levels. Benzene being non-reactive stays in the atmosphere much longer than Ozone. I am not qualified to and will not compare the health effects of exposure to Benzene vs Ozone. But as a lay person, to me a carcinogen seems deadlier than a chemical that has pulmonary effects which may or may not be short term.

My entire logic of comparing emissions is to prove my point that driving your car when you turned every electrical appliance off at home is not going to help your cause in any way!!. Even if my understanding of emissions was wrong, isnt it just simple cost-benefit analysis that you dont really save a lot when you switch off one thing and switch on another? Besides, which car checks to see if you are on a joy ride with your family or you are driving to the grocery store and adjusts its emissions accordingly!!?

I have a similar problem with all the environmentalists advocating the use of cloth diapers versus disposable diapers. How 'green' are the cloth diapers really? What about all the hot water you use to wash them? What about all the extra detergent used? What about the additional Phosphorus loadings on your waste water system from the fecal matter? When you think about it, may be disposable diapers are better.

The other problem I had with this post is not just the fact that it advocates a cause without checking facts but the fact that an alternate point of view is angrily squished. It is okay to have a strong opinion but it is important for us to stay open to an alternate opinion and adjust our beliefs as and when new information is made available. This Bayesian approach is the fundamental step in decision making!! Again, while it is great that more and more people are picking up environmental consciousness, it is also important for us to verify facts from myths. Especially so if you are advocating something to public even if it is on your private domain!!

PS: Sorry Mad momma, but I have no choice. You ran out of your generosity before I could finish all what I had to say!!


I can never resist the urge to discuss my taste in books and voluntarily picked up this tag from Good day sunshine.

A book that made you laugh: Cannot think of anything specific but probably most cartoon strips qualify. While I am at it, PhD Comics is actually depressing...dont ask me why!

A book that made you cry: I think it was Black beauty by Anna Sewell, when I was a child

A book that scared you: None, I dont read horror.

A book that disgusted you: Not the whole book but parts of 'How Doctors Think' by Jerome Groopman

A book you loved in elementary school: We used to have the entire Walt Disney collection at home and was my favorite as a kid.

A book you loved in middle/junior high school: I only read Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew to be cool alongside my brothers.

A book you loved in high School: I got hooked on to Sherlock Holmes in high school.

A book you loved in college: Runaway Jury by John Grisham.

A book that challenged your identity: Cant think of a book that did so much to me.

A series you love: Lord of the Rings including The Hobbit

Horror: I dont read horror.

Science fiction: The closest I got to Science Fiction was reading Robin Cook.

Your favourite fantasy: Rajaji's Mahabharata, if it qualifies.

Your favourite mystery: Most of Sherlock Holmes'. Hound of Baskervilles was my favorite.

Your favourite biography: Havent read too many but got completely moved after reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel.

Your favourite “Coming of age” book: To kill a mocking bird by Harper Lee

Your favourite classic: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Your favourite romance book: Love story by Erich Segal.