Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rat tip of the day

Rats love it when you scratch them at the base of their ears, on their foreheads and their throats.. in short, they are just like cats. :)

Dhoom 2 Review

Well, let me say it.I loved the movie.

It was a fun 2.5 or so hours. The stunts are amazing, and so is the entire cast, except one haggard looking lanky fellow. There is a sappy love story, which leaves you laughing all the time, but there wasnt a single wedding or a sangeet sequence.

I am 6 years too late to climb on the Hrithik bandwagon, but what the hell. Byebye lankmaster.

This is escapism at its best. Things will never be like this in real life. Dhoom 2 is in the Charlie's Angels category, not in the Batman/Spiderman category. Please go in with those kind of expectations, and you wont be disapppointed.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I am so ignorant, it's offensive

Last spring, I was sitting in an extremely busy cafeteria enjoying my coffee and the free NYT the Univeristy provides, when suddenly a guy with a vaguely eastern European accent approached me. He asked me if I was willing to participate in a survey, and since I had nothing to do, and feel bad for grad students who go about begging for subjects, I gladly agreed.

The guy took out a map of Europe, and a numerical legend of all the countries, and asked me to mark as many countries as I knew. And thats when it dawned up on me. I dont know as much as I thought I did about Europe. And I felt SO happy! It was wierd, because the expected reaction would have been of shame and guilt. I realised that somewhere down the road, I had prioritized, and made up my mind that knowing all the countries of Europe really isnt going to help me in my day to day life. If I need to know, all I would have to do is go to Google. So with a bright beaming smile, I marked what I knew, UK, Ireland, Italy, Sicily, France and Germany. I didn't even think any longer than that and handed the sheet to the guy with a big beaming smile.

The guy took one look at the sheet and his smile just vanished. He looked SO offended I thought he was going to bite my head off right there and then. But he controlled himself and asked me 'Where are you from?' 'India', I said.
'Oh, thats okay', says the guy (HEH?! what do you mean! I am thinking) 'I probably dont know that many Asian countries either'.

With that he went off to another table, and I went back to my coffee. I think he was offended just because I didn't mark his country on the map. (I still dont know what it is, and where it is on the map)

Months later, I came across an article in a Univ publication (thats what I do during my coffee breaks...read NYT, USA today and random Univ publications strewn around the cafeteria..all free). The article was a survey of 25 grad students who were asked to mark the countries of Europe. I dont remember the exact figures now, but I clearly remember that there was one outlier who was thrown out of the study because that student had too few countries marked on the map.

I am 99.5% sure that was me.

BTW, in case that grad student comes up to you one day, please be prepared. I am inserting a nice little map of Europe for you.

Friday, November 10, 2006

P.O.P drama

One of the bigggest drama in my childhood ever was the case of the 'P.O.Ps'. It was a New Year's Party we kids used to organize on the terrace of the building. Of course, we had very laxed curfew times that time of the year, and so we used to 'okay,thank you,party over' the guests and have our own blast playing games and gossiping about everyone who came.

One of the games, I dont know how, or even think ANYONE knows how, turned into this chase where ten girls were chasing one guy. The chase goes on for a while and the guy freaks out and get scared and of course swings a fist at the girl closest to him (leader of the conspiracy, we thought at the time) and sends her flying across the terrace, with a HUGE bump on her face..Much crying follows, and soon an elder from the girl's family comes to scream at all of us. The guy accuses all the girls of trying to indulge in what shall be refered to as ' P.O.P'. The girls are stunned, like OMG! are you crazy, we were trying to kill you..not 'P.O.P'! (I seriously dont think that was 'P.O.P' on the agenda. We generally chased guys around. In fact, I was 6 when I first joined this group, and my first ever conversation went like 'Hi, can I play with you? ..'Sure! That guy there is N___R, and we are chasing him.The first one to catch him gets to be queen for the day. Lets go, or we wont make it'..)  The elder of course doesnt get this and turns to the girls gives a half hour lecture and dares them to 'P.O.P' on him. The girls dont know where to look. Most of us go rolling on the floor laughing their guts out.(mentally, of course). Following this was a lamba bhashan which I am sure no one remembers and then  everyone was sent off packing to their houses.

Till this day, I am not entirely clear about (a) why we started chasing the guy. (b) Why was he sent scot free and we got the firing. (c) perhaps 'P.O.P' was on the agenda, but I am sure no one would have actually done it.

Google Scholar

I found this link from google news, which cited a study in the BMJ that basically states 'Searching with Google may help doctors to formulate a differential diagnosis in difficult diagnostic cases.'

That's great, so does this also mean that using google for research is also legit?

Apparently, it has been for while, I just didn't know it.

I used to use only pubmed earlier, but then I was led to scholar.google.com.

The difference apparently between pubmed and scholar.google is that while pubmed searches only abstracts, scholar.google will search the full text of an article and then present its results. However, pubmed wins because of its PMID feature that assigns a unique number to each article and its ease of use with Endnote and 'related links'. My experience is that Scholar.google is useful when you want to look for detailed methods used, or if the information you are looking for happens to be hidden somewhere in an article but doesnt appear in the abstract.

I was once by a senior student (this was in '04) that if you mention that you used google to search for articles, you will be looked up on as a joke.. (he was the one who introduced me to scholar.google, but then gave this above 'warning' as well). A quick run of the words 'scholar google' on pubmed gave several articles in which cited 'Google Scholar' in their methods, the earliest one going down to March '05.

So far, I have never been asked where I came up with a certain article, if asked , I will mention scholar.google.com, in addition to Pubmed. Because now I found an article on pubmed, extolling the benefits of google scholar, and it was published in Nature News. You can't get more legit than that. :)

On an other note: There just HAD to be a desi involved in it. :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Stress buster!

This is probably the most addictive activity evver.Well, besides orkut of course..

My sister who for some reason is addicted to orkut , youtube and combing the net for obscure things sent me this link, which she also posted in the 'orkut rehab community'.. (you might find this surprising, but she does hold a normal day job too..)

Popping bubble wrap has been a wonderful passtime for us for a long time.. the fav. ones used to be those envelopes that come with the bubble wrap as inside lining. But the best bubble wrap experience I had was in my MS lab.
It was late in the night..(well not THAT late, probably 10ish) and I was generally loafing in the lab..looking to check if everything is in its place, things are shut down or not etc etc.. I came across this huge box, size of probably a computer monitor.. I opened it and guess what! It was full of bubble wrap!:) I unrolled all the bubble wrap (about 6 by 2 feet) and laid it on the floor of the lab and popped all the bubbles by walking all over the wrap.

Phat!phat! phatphat phat!..talk about the ultimate stress buster.:)