I Love PI

I love Pi. What a lovely concept to learn in School. The crazy little Pi with its unique non-recurring never-ending value theme was beautiful. I loved memorizing formulae with Pi in them.

Or maybe, it was my teacher’s enthusiasm that rubbed off on me, as the little Pi was painted to us with all of its wonderful characteristics. The circle and the cylinder suddenly became conquerable with this one stroke of Pi. Using more decimals just for the kick of it. 3.1459…. or simply 22/7

For those interested, I found a wiki article proving that 22/7 actually exceeds the value of Pi.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_that_22/7_exceeds_%CF%80

Guess what is being planned by way of legislation for this wonder then?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-squires/republicans-introduce-leg_b_837828.html

The legislation asks for the value of Pi to be simplified to just 3 instead of 3.1459…. so US students fare better in examinations. I quote:

Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Ala.) is sponsoring HR 205, The Geometric Simplification Act, declaring the Euclidean mathematical constant of pi to be precisely 3. The bill comes in response to data and rankings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, rating the United States’ 15 year-olds 25th in the world in mathematics.

Can we legislate constants in the first place? The article is filed under Comedy though – probably satire, or an early April fools day joke.

Idli-Potato Effect Tries to Transcend Generations

There is a wedding I remember particularly well. I don’t remember who got married exactly. Somebody is always getting married in these elaborate Hindu rituals in our family that I certainly can’t be expected to keep track. Well, what is that I remember you ask. A fair question. I remember my mother looking ravishing in a MS blue saree. That saree was becoming of her, and I really liked it because it was a simple, elegant one that suited my mother’s pinkish hues perfectly. In fact, every time somebody complimented her, she blushed uncharacteristically and turned a deeper shade of pink that clashed with the brilliant blue. (The father had bought her the saree as a surprise, and she thought she had to blush every time somebody said the saree was looking good. I told her that that part of the proceedings was unnecessary, but what the mind knows, it cannot undo.) So, there she sat, looking resplendent and blushing periodically.

The wedding was a South Indian one, and wherever you turned, there seemed to be a photographer looking harried and clicking photograph after photograph. To me, it seemed like the crowd was spotted liberally with these sorry looking photographers till I realized that they were all the same guy – he just seemed different by looking harried at varying levels. Anyway, this man dodged the crowds and kept clicking all around my beautiful mother, never once capturing her at her finest. It looked like he was swarming all around her, but not a single photograph of her sitting there turned up in the wedding album, which we were invited to see later despite strong protests from my end. “Bad enough I sat through the wedding!” was not a good enough protest apparently.

Anyway, while thumbing through the album I noticed that the photographer had waited and waited till she beat it to the dining hall and stuffed her face with three idlis and a vada before taking his photograph. So, there she was looking like a particularly vindictive dentist wrought havoc on her face in the wedding album instead of looking divine and smiling like she ought to. One side of her face was swollen with the idli so badly that had I not seen the size of the idlis served that evening, I would not have believed the feat possible.

Where am I going with all this you ask? Well…We’d been on a cruise recently. A 3 day affair that was spotted about with plenty of food and exotic desserts. Not only were there formal dinners where everyone looked smashing, but there were photographers as well. Ha! Now you see where this leads? These guys wanted to catch me at my stuffed face best, and this episode with my mother’s photograph reminded me to steer clear. I think they give these guys some sort of training to just hover around the vicinity and then attack when the spoon reaches the mouth. I’d just popped in a baby potato and looking very idli-in-mouth-like-mother-ish when this guy came to click my photo.

I mean I can only classify it as bizarre I suppose. I burst out laughing with the potato in my mouth and covered my face in glee that I denied the guy the chance of his lifetime. Ha! and Ha! again! He did not take to this kindly, and used zoom lens instead to get a ghastly close-up picture of me making me look like two me-s, but it was better than what the potato would have done. To that I am grateful.

Dumb Criminals

Awareness is key. USA has done a good job in teaching its citizens that 911 is there for emergencies. Take this couple for instance. Nothing remarkable about them. The only thing he wanted was some cash to take his girlfriend on a date, plus a number of other items on his list that he is not in the mood to share with us. This boy chose to get the money by robbing a store. I don’t know whether he experienced any qualms about the modus operandi, but he certainly did not let those bother him on the date. On the way, their car broke down and the smart couple summoned 911, who not only helped them get their car on their way, but offered additional service by taking the boy in to ride with them free of charge to the Correction unit.

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_17482691?nclick_check=1
Robbery suspects dial 911 for roadside towing assistance!

Who said the serious business of life has no sense of humour?!

Time Will Tell

I am all for a little complexity in life. After all, that is what keeps us peppy and full of zing what? But I don’t understand how the time change twice a year is useful. Complex yes, but useful no. Probably in the days of yore if I’d been an old farmer’s daughter, and the extra hour of sunshine meant the difference between having water and milk as opposed to strawberries and cream for breakfast. Now, even if you fill me up to my eyes with daylight, I am not sure I am going to gorge out on those strawberries with the oh-so-sinful cream. So why do we still go about with this bother?

Why do I sound this piqued for something this normal and predictable? Well..it is the unpredicability of it all. You know how your computers automatically fall back an hour in the fall or spring forth an hour in spring? I expected my phone to do that too. It did.

I have the alarm set for a reasonable hour every morning on weekdays and what do you think the correct time showing cell-phone did to me? It rang an hour earlier than it was supposed to. Now, I am a great snoozer eh..snooze-presser. I love hitting snooze, but even I thought an additional hour of this encumbrance can ruin the joy of the early morning snooze because as with all regular snoozes, this cell phone does not allow you to indicate the time limit in which to remind you again. So, 10 minutes later, I will be fumbling again and then again in 10 minutes afterward. Exciting as mornings go, this doesn’t appeal to me very much when the clouds of sleep are still gathering around and singing me my lullabies. So, I dismissed the alarm and set a mental alarm to get up an hour later.

Only the agile mind sprang forward an hour like an over-zealous tiger making it two hours after the alarm went off. The scramble that ensued is not for the public eye to discern and dissect while shaking their heads in dismay, and has been withheld.

One news article claims setting it to airplane mode for a while helps. I may do that, but if I forget to set it back, will it still arouse me, or assume I am travelling by airplane and my fellow passengers deserve to sleep better and flip out on me again?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110314/ap_on_hi_te/us_iphone_glitch

Time will tell ….

Fear

Charlie Sheen seems to have spread himself thin with all the attention he is getting for himself. Not that I am a particular fan of his, but there is something disconcerting about how much people are interested in the life of the rich and the famous.

Here is an article written by Scott Adams on his dilbert.com/blog about Charlie Sheen.
http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/charlie_sheen/
He went on to claim that he had the feeling he knew no fear. Which can explain some of the candidness, but also brings me neatly to the next new article about the couple who got themselves arrested for trying to instill a sense of fear in their unruly six year old.

http://thestir.cafemom.com/big_kid/116709/parents_arrested_for_scaring_daughter?quick_picks=1&utm_medium=sem2&utm_source=outbrain&utm_campaign=outbrain&utm_content=outbrain_feb_test

The parents sought to frighten the child by taking her along to the police station and showing her what happens to bad people. I am not going to go into the merits and demerits of the case, but it seemed like a classic case of seeking out trouble.

Of course, reading about fear brought me to this news article that appeared a while ago, about a woman so fearless that nothing deterred her.
http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2010/12/17/fearless-woman-study.html

So, how much fear is good fear and necessary to bolster a crime-free society and how much too much or too little?

Or is the thing to fear fear itself?

Fire and Ice Appeal

The morning commute was an interesting one. One moment, there was silence and lackadaisical looks from fellow commuters who could not wait to get to their workspots. I was just wishing that something to brighten up the atmosphere would come up, when the very next station brought in mice, ducks, fairies and princesses. Though it is generally an argument (with merit) to say I hallucinate in the mornings, I kid you not. I saw them all. The squealing and the quacking breaking into the still silence of grumpy morning commuters was a very real one.

To one whose most interesting moment in the past week has been the fact that a building’s fire alarm system considered me a hot one, this was indeed something. Again, allow me to explain: I walked past the building and the buildings alarm went off
“WAHANANANNAANANANANANN”

I don’t suppose it is easy to jump up in alarm when one is walking at a steady 45 paces a minute, but I managed it with some difficulty. I restored the nerves from a-jingling, rectified the center of gravity and set off again (for those wondering why I did not do the noble act and help residents out in their time of crisis, the building seemed to be an empty one and not even the receptionist bothered to come out and check) So, I set off again and I had just crossed the perimeter of the building when the alarm stopped. So, I stepped back into the sidewalk right in front of the building and off it went again. The red hot fire alarm seemed to be whistling itself crazy – See?
This morning, a little boy mouse came and sat next to me, I questioned him where he was going dressed up like a mouse, and he grinned and said they were going to watch the Disney on Ice show and that was why it was particularly important to dress up like the characters. “Where are you going?” he asked.
I told him that I wished I could go to the Disney on Ice show too, but I was going to office.

“You can come with me too. You can sit and watch Mickey with me.” he said blushing deeply while his mother looked on and smiled. He then blushed a little harder, looking a deep fire alarm red and said, “We could have ice cream together there.”

A pre-schooler and a building. What can I say about my charm?

I would have gone, but the building might miss me.

Logarithmic-Linear-Logarithmic

When the daughter was younger and had yet to start going to a classroom atmosphere, the father asked her to lift her right leg. Being the loving grand-daughter, she did. Then he asked her to lift her left leg and she obliged, by stamping the right foot down and lifting the other. Not satisfied with the legs, he started in with the little arms and asked for the left arm. Then the right arm, and both arms together. (Luckily, we have only 2 arms and 2 legs, for this gripping tale would have had us spouting steam otherwise.)

Having seen all this, he asked her to lift both legs together, to which she hardly spent a moment thinking and simply lay down on the floor and lifted both legs looking like a very adorable pup waiting to be tickled by the owner.

Fast forward to a time when formal schooling did start and the same exercise has her thinking about the problem and saying, “But the only way to do that is jump and see if we can fly!”

What makes me remember this you ask. A book I was reading recently: It spoke about how some tribes know not the notion of time or numbers. (They don’t need either concept for their survival.) This book actually has remarkable powers, because it has enabled me to forget the title and clean swiped the power of resurrecting the title from the dark crevices of the brain.

Anyway, according to the author, who spent many happy months among the tribes, Piraha Tribe in Amazon, trying to observe and study their behavioral patterns, he noticed something. When given a series of dots and told to plot them on a number scale between 1 and 10, the tribes with no formal introduction to numbers placed the numbers closer together as they approached 10, and farther and farther apart near 1 and 2. Their natural instincts were to think logarithmically.

A study that coincided with how kindergartners plotted their numbers. Basically, the tribes and the children saw the combination of dots as the pattern. Two dots together doubles the area of one dot, but 9 dots clustered together is only marginally smaller than 10 dots together.

But as these kindergartners approached second grade, they plotted the numbers from 1 to 10 evenly spaced on the number line. We move away from a more complex method of thinking logarithmically naturally to thinking linearly, and then relearn the logarithmic concept later in life.

It is a fact that structured thinking has its benefits, but I often wonder how different we would be if we were allowed to retain our ability to think with out being clouded by what is taught to us.

Edit: Relevant links:

Piraha tribe

Kindergartener Number Study