Friday, January 31, 2014

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Yeah. That’s sort of wishing joy and prosperity for the new year in Mandarin and that’s the only thing I can say beyond Wo Ai Ni. So though I pretend to be knowledgeable, I am not.

Anyway, today is the first day of Lunar Chinese New Year of the Horse. All of Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau SAR, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand celebrate. That literally means most of world manufacturing is shutdown for the festival.

Lunar New Year is by far the biggest festival celebrated in the world. More than 1/3 population of the world celebrates it. So even if it’s not celebrated in your part of the world, hang on – very soon it will be. (Yeah like we celebrate Halloween and Thanks Giving in Asia!)

The good part of the Lunar New Year is – it always comes in the last few weeks of January or first few weeks of February. That means it is right there in the beginning of the Gregorian calendar. People like me who have already given up on their resolutions can think of resolving to follow them again starting the Lunar new year.

So my dear fellow netizens, I can be statistically very sure that at least 80% of you have given up on your 2014 resolutions by now (yeah, even I partially have!). Don’t fret, you can start them again on the auspicious day of the Lunar new year.

God gives me another chance on restarting my resolutions around end of March or beginning of April when we celebrate the Hindu new year (Gudi Padwa/ Ugadi  for some). It’s ironic how we get all these chances in the first quarter of the year, and still we can’t follow the resolutions for the next 3 quarters.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Be a Zero

I have been obsessed with the GoPro lately. Unless you are living under a rock, I am sure you have come across someone somewhere sporting a GoPro already. It’s a high definition camera that can do “extreme action video photography”. You just mount it somewhere (using its mounting options) while you are doing crazy stuff and then playback to enjoy it! And then ofcourse upload it to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube for the world to admire and be jealous.

If you are tired bored and lazy on a Sunday afternoon, already done seeing all sesame street videos and mindless YouTube surfing, then I would highly recommend you to go see other people’s GoPro videos. And now, even before you proceed with this blog post, go see Kelly McGarry’s 72ft backflip over a canyon with his mountain bike while wearing a GoPro HD HERO3+ right here:

GoPro – Mountain bike backflip

After spending countless hours going through all those videos, I am naturally tempted to buy a GoPro. Yeah, I have been contemplating getting one for the past few months and each time that I walk upto a store to pick one up, I stop myself from pouring all those hard earned dollars down the drain by thinking about the typical heroic life of Girish. Mind you, I don’t surf, skate, kayak, base jump, wing-suite, sky dive, bungee jump, mountain bike, ski, snow board. The most exciting thing I do is – stand in the balcony and look down at tiny people walking on the road.

So, lets say I get a GoPro. What would I wear it to get an exciting video out for? My typical day involves travelling in a crowded train for an hour to and fro daily. My GoPro would capture seas of uninterested and bored people busy playing candy crush on their phones. Then I go to the office and spend hours staring at a computer screen making mindless presentations or boring dashboards. Then I come home, watch nonsensical television, eat and call it a night. Weekends are spent cleaning, washing, cooking and staring at the ceiling.

Just like Rolls Royce has a policy of choosing customers for its cars (yeah, you can’t just buy it off the showroom!), even GoPro should have a policy of selling their cameras only to the cool people amongst us. That way, it will save some hard earned monies for morons like me. But yeah, that won’t make the company the billions that they are raking in now. It’s always the morons that make or break a company, and very soon I am gonna make one.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fogged up

So my article about me swimming in the blind got some of you amused. I know, I know there are options available to not let your swimming goggles get all fogged up. And to be frank, I have used a few of them. So this blog post is all about how to prevent goggle fogging. If you are a recreational swimmer (like me), fogging is not really a big issue. I am generally so slow in the pool that other swimmers do watch out for me. I just need to worry about not bumping into the side walls.

I know of at least 3 ways. If you Google you will get a lot more ways, but I haven’t tested them. Living up to my cheapskate roots I will start with the cheapest and go onto the most expensive method:

1) Spit – I know this sounds gross and unhygienic but well it is the cheapest solution to your fogging problems. Just spit in your lenses before you are about to swim, use your finger to spread the spit around and then simply rinse it with water or let it dry. Should last you for a few laps after which you have to repeat the procedure. Remember to rinse your mouth before you go swimming (else your eyes won’t be happy about it)

2) Baby Shampoo – This thing is dead easy. Just get a regular Baby Shampoo (I have only used the one by Johnson & Johnson). Squirt the liquid onto your lenses and then wash them a bit. Let the lenses dry and then use them. No more fogging problems.

Baby Shampoo

3) Anti-fog liquid – This is the one that everyone recommends. And like you guessed its the most expensive option. It works, but yeah it costs a bit. In my quest to spend and pretend to be cool, I have this solution. It works like a charm (if you remember to use it regularly though!).

View Anti-Fog

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Healthy Fast Food

Disclaimer – Be warned of reading nutrition advise from a guy who has been fat all his life and who hardly has a thorough understanding of what a balanced diet consists of. But yeah, it’s my blog, so I write what I feel like.

So McDonald's has been in the news lately because some science teacher in Iowa ate in McDonald’s for 90 days and managed to lose 37 pounds. The media has gone crazy and I have my two cents to add.

Over the last several decades of my life if I have figured something out about food it is this – most of the times, it doesn’t really matter what you eat as long as you control how much it is.

So the saying “eat everything in moderation”. To a certain extent this principle works, but yeah – you have to be fully aware that you might end up getting deficient in certain nutrients if you do not eat a variety of stuff. (Okay, for laymen like me – if I just eat a perfect 2000 kcal meal everyday, but I stick to eating the same thing (e.g – Rice with a veggie) then over a period of time my body will end up getting deficit in nutrients that are not available from that meal).

Anyway, many a times in my life I am faced with situations in which I either have the option of – fast food or no food. And in such cases, given an option amongst fast food chains, I somehow end up choosing McDonald’s. That is because, I have sorta figured out a pseudo-healthy meal option in McDonald’s that I stick to. So here it is:

  1. Filet-O-Fish
  2. Corn Cup
  3. Roast Coffee

The pseudo-healthy option

A meal in McDonald’s generally consists of a Burger + Fries + Soda (produced by the Coca Cola company). The reason we end up overeating is because – the Fries and the Soda actually contribute more calories (mostly from fat and sugar) than the main burger itself. So though we pretend to think that they are side orders and subsequently are “smaller” they are the main cause of adding in those excess calories to your meal.

McDonald’s has this neat site that lets you calculate calories in your meal. So if I look at the Filet-O-Fish meal in it’s original form the nutrition contents are:

Filet-O-Fish: 325 kcal


Medium Fries: 384 kcal


Medium Coke: 213kcal


That’s a total of 922 kcal almost 50% of my daily RDA.

However if I replace my coke and fries with a Coffee and Corn Cup (McDonald’s in Singapore lets me do it without any charge), I bring down my total calories to 418 kcal. The Coffee and Corn Cup together bring in only – 93 kcal and deserve to be called “side orders”.

The pseudo-healthy option

In conclusion, I agree that it may not be the most nutritious meal that you can get out there (yeah the sodium content looks horrific and dietary fibre is really low). However, being informed is a much better option than going into a fine dining place and not even being aware of how many calories you are putting in.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


If you have not yet seen the movie Minority Report, I would highly recommend that you do. To give a 1 line gist – the movie is based on the premise that in the future we will be able to predict crimes and in turn police will be able to prevent crime even before it happened. Now rest of the movie is a typical sci-fi Hollywood movie that takes a lot of popcorn and soda to digest.

Minority Report

Now, Target (the retailer) has been in the news last week for managing to expose 40 million credit card details of its customers. To put things in perspective 40 million is 8 times the population of Singapore and roughly 3 times the population of Mumbai. Now, how we could have prevented it by not using Magnetic stripe credit cards and how rest of the world is far ahead of the US when it comes to core Banking and Credit Card security is beyond the scope of this blog post.

What I find interesting is – Target. It is the poster child of analytics. It is “THE” company that I site each time I try to convince my retail clients to invest in analytics. It is “THE” company that managed to successfully predict with a fair degree of accuracy which of its customers are pregnant. If you still have not read this article, I suggest, you stop whatever you are doing now, and go and read about it.

While what Target could achieve (with the limited datasets it has) is impressive. What is equally impressive (and downright scary) is – what the internet giants – Google, Facebook, Comcast and a spy agency that shall not be named can do with the kinds of datasets they are collecting.

If Target can predict pregnancy, I am sure with the datasets that Google and Facebook has, they can probably predict every instance of your life going forward (and with certain extrapolation) of all your future generations that are yet to be born. And then, the spy agency that shall not be named is out there building a precognition network, like the one envisioned in Minority Report.

And I am loving the fact that I am living in this period of history. Hold on to your seats people, we are up for an amazingly scary ride ahead!