Log in

No account? Create an account
Entries Friends Calendar Userinfo Homepage Previous Previous
Solzaire's Journal
Adventures of a Paladin
I have finally found out a great use for camera phones - Taking snapshots of meeting room/cubicle/corridoor whiteboard research discussions and transferring them to your laptop with Bluetooth. I guess I am a decade late to the party but hey, it works for you when you are ready for it :-)

Before this I always wondered what the use for camera phones was. I even actively searched for a new phone without a camera and didn't find good ones. I always suspected higher mega-pixel cameras in phones wondering how they could really replace proper cameras. I guess I know now - a 1.3 mega-pixel one is working wonders for me :-)

Tags: ,
Current Location: Delhi, IN
Current Mood: amused amused

Have a great year ahead folks!

It was a great year work wise, travel wise, and personally.
- Worked on some good things with some great people. Am managing to build up a story in the first few years of my professional life, so happy about that. Good things planned out for this year too.
- Travel was great. Cities visited should be a good indicator so the list is: Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Cochin, Munnar, Thekkady, Kumarakom, Austin, New York, Yorktown Heights, Chicago, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, San Luis Obispo. Lets see if this year takes us anywhere interesting.
- Personally it has been a great time health and fitness wise. Have achieved and maintained my medium term weight objectives, and am exercising very regularly.
- On the net I have taken to twitter, re-discovered flickr, given up paid membership of LJ. I'll move to my personal webspace sometime.

Keep eating seafood!

Tags: , , , ,
Current Location: Delhi, IN

Read 9 comments or Leave a comment
They say, if you want to look thin then hang around people fatter than you. If that is what you have been up to in the last few years, then begone my friend!

For the first time in the last few years my weight is now within the 'normal' range for my height. It is close to the upper limit I admit, but hey. It had once gone quite close to the next category when sense prevailed. The loss has been exponentially slow of course but that was partly intentional once the bulk was off :-).

It has been a great three year journey (to the day) - and I'm talking just health-wise. A morning feels weird and incomplete without my 5+ kms. The half marathons last year were a great ego boost. Resting heart rate is comfortably in the fifties. Eating habits/schedules are superb compared to earlier, binges included.

Tomorrow the better half treats me to a feast :-P

Tags: , , , , , ,
Current Mood: jubilant jubilant

Read 8 comments or Leave a comment
Twitter'ing now as solzaire. Still learning.

Tags: ,

Read 3 comments or Leave a comment
This was our first Diwali at Delhi, and in all our enthusiasm, we attempted everything. From making absolutely yummy 'faraaL', to rangoli, to lighting up the house. The best part; we did it completely by ourselves. Click below to go to flickr.

Homemade Diwali faraaL - Chakli, Chiwda, Rava Ladu, Besan Ladu, Shankarpale
Homemade Diwali Sweetmeats

Rangoli outside our door
Rangoli for Diwali

Photos from our California/Nevada/Arizona Aug/Sept trip also up on my flickr. Highlight of that trip: I drove more than 700 miles in the US. Driving there for the first time, wonder why it took so long to do it.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Current Location: Delhi, IN
Current Music: Rock On

Read 3 comments or Leave a comment
I learned a cheat code during my last US trip. I used to be puzzled and unable to use my credit card in certain places in the US like gas stations and grocery store self check outs. The reason used to be I was prompted for my 5 digit US zip code. Fibbing doesn't work. The alternative used to be to stand in line and pay at the regular counter. No gas at nights therefore by the way if the station was closed.

Until now. It turns out the valid cheat code is '00000'. It seems this is to enable international customers and non-US cards. Apparently using this code with a US credit card doesn't work since of course your magnetic strip contains your zip code.

Is this common published knowledge? If yes, then I just learned it anew. If not, I hope this helps someone. Does anyone know if this is just a workaround or intended to be an undocumented feature?

Tags: , ,
Current Location: Delhi, IN

Read 5 comments or Leave a comment
< flame-bait > freegeek and chetanv are getting old. They thought I was actually sitting in my study when I thought that up! < / flame-bait >
I'd like to know where all I have a study to myself.

Visited a couple of very good (expensive but great food) places in the last couple of weeks:
1. Shalom, GK1 N block, serves good Mediterranean food and has a great bar stock (I just had me my Kir Royales). We had good Lamb Tagine, some seafood starters, and grilled fish.
2. Manre, Saket, is a very new French fine dining joint in the MGF mall adjacent to Select Citywalk. Some dishes are very expensive (even 1.5k+ for the steak, salmon, etc.) but the 1k 3-course meal is very good. I had a Mezze platter, sea bass, and Star Anise ice-cream, while the wife had an interesting fusion Lasagne Rendang. The decor is very nice, spacious, and the massive bar is quite nicely designed. A bold experiment for butter-chicken Delhi - let us see if the Kitty parties move out and fine dining actually kicks in. The best restaurant restroom I have seen in India till today by the way.

In other news, I somehow magically qualified to my first elite-level on a Oneworld airline. Result of registering for a promo told to me by a real frequent flier I guess.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Current Location: Delhi, IN
Current Mood: amused amused

Leave a comment
Today morning while sitting in my private study I realized that it was this month a decade ago that I graduated as an Engineer. Time flies.

Waters, Gilmour, Mason, and Wright now aptly make me contemplative.

Tags: , , ,
Current Location: Delhi, IN
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: Time - Pink Floyd

Read 4 comments or Leave a comment
I am seriously impressed by the promo of the new Mahabharat. Looks like the promos of the FPS and strategy games we used to play years ago.
I am told it is an Ekta Kapoor serial too, named Kahani Hamarey Mahabharat Ki :-)

Tags: ,
Current Mood: impressed impressed

Read 3 comments or Leave a comment
VH1 Gods of Guitar - 4 hours of sheer bliss. Catch it this weekend - it is repeating a couple of times. My joy from a few days ago multiplied a hundred-fold.

P.S. What company to pack my bag eh? ;-)

Tags: , , ,

Leave a comment
Leaving tonight for Austin + NYC. 10 days. Meeting the great lord eddd for an old-fashioned SigFood trail :-).

Tags: , ,

Read 2 comments or Leave a comment
Day - 6 May 2008
Time - 9:25am
Venue - Home
Object - TV
Channel - VH1
Program - VH1 Classic
Band - Metallica
Song - One


Tags: , ,
Current Location: Delhi, India
Current Mood: happy happy

Read 4 comments or Leave a comment
Reading The Nine Billion Names of God again seems a great way to pay your respects to the man.

(note to self: get off your backside and read the full Odyssey series now)

Tags: , ,
Current Location: Delhi, India
Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Leave a comment

Antoine Lewis "will be speaking on the history of public dining in Mumbai from the early 1800s to the present. The lecture will be held on the 28th of Feb at 7.30pm at Hotel Ritz, Churchgate."

Antoine knows the subject very well, and he is the editor of Savvy Cookbook. He kick-started the Bombay-On-The-Menu group with an expanded version of this lecture. I can vouch that it is amazing, interactive, fun, and gyaan-filled. I recommend this to anyone genuinely interesting in the food scene in Mumbai. Knowing the gang, a food outing, possibly one of many, is sure to follow.

Some of us Sigfoodies met at the BOTM workshop.

Rushina, additionally spreads link happiness via Feastguru.com for discount coupons and some social networking.

x-posted on mumbai

Tags: , , , , ,

Read 2 comments or Leave a comment
Half Marathon: Last Sunday I partiicpated in the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon's Half Marathon run on 20th January. This time I significantly improved my timing and cut down about 20 minutes. I wasn't actually working on an improved timing, but with the first timer apprehension behind me, I was much more confident and aware of what happens later, so I ran much better and consistently.

Race day: It was a very beautiful route and I thoroughly enjoyed my run, the scenery and the atmosphere. I used the stopwatch on my phone this time, so here is an account.
04:30:00 - Get up, drink water, tea, some biscuits, get dressed, reach Andheri station, catch a Churchgate slow, and ride with loads of other runners
06:00:00 - Churchgate - visit the loo, and walk to the southern end of Azad Maidan gate no. 4.
06:25:00 - Azad Maidan - deposit backpack, reach holding area, do stretching routine for 15 minutes
06:45:00 - Start! - Just about sunrise time and it is still dark. The elite runners and the ones with the timing chip are let off. We are next.
06:50:00 - Outside V.T. - I reach the start line pretty much exactly at this time.
Next times are minutes gone for every kilometer. Relative to start at 6:50 am.
7:51 - 1 km - Past Flora Fountain - I have only managed to walk at various speeds and elbow myself through till now. I finally start jogging and quickly running
6:10 - 2 kms - Straight through Churchgate and left onto Marine Drive
6:05 - 3 kms - U-turn at Nariman point and the 3kms mark is roughly near Brabourne
6:00 - 4 kms - Past Princess street flyover - beautiful Marine drive and Malabar Hill scenery
5:53 - 5 kms - Outside Charni Road station - a very nice run along the see and a beautiful sun rising
5:45 - 6 kms - Girgaon Chowpatty
6:07 - 7 kms - Just before Peddar Road. Immediately after this I see the leaders returning ;-) - An improvement from Delhi where the leaders crossed me just after my 5km mark
7:08 - 8 kms - Walk and do the Flyover and start running again
5:51 - 9 kms - Utilize the gentle down slope and clock a good km to near Breach Candy
6:00 - 10 kms - Past Haji Ali - beautiful run along the sea - Milind Soman crosses in the other direction :-)
6:13 - 11 kms - Worli, past the science center and under the flyover. The U-turn is outside Mela restaurant. The full marathon route continues along Worli sea face again, to Siddhivinayak, Shivaji Park, Mahim, and Bandra Reclamation before their U-turn. A very beautiful running route along the sea!
6:31 - 12 kms - Start on the way back and reach the mark after the flyover
8:19 - 13 kms - First water break, some walking, looking around into the sea - and see the Marathon leaders whiz past!
6:45 - 14 kms - Back past Haji Ali
6:35 - 15 kms - On top of Peddar Road flyover, another water and walking break
6:25 - 16 kms - Near Girgaon chopatty - eat cereal bar
8:13 - 17 kms - Walking break along Marine drive - slight hamstring and back pain signal is attended to - slightly apprehensive about finishing state - hence a drop in speed - though breathing very well and confident of finishing well
7:23 - 18 kms - Near Princess street flyover
6:28 - 19 kms - About to turn to Churchgate
7:17 - 20 kms - Between Churchgate and Flora Fountain
7:21 - 21.097 kms - V.T. - Finished! - An exhilarating feeling! Missed the irritating Dream run rush!

3 photos here

Recovery: Called and told everyone, bumped into (saw) Milind Soman again, stretched for 15 minutes again, drank and ate the goodies, and headed back to Churchgate. End of a successful stint no doubt. I didn't stretch the next day because I took the early morning train to Pune - this led to an additional day's soreness - else I would have been back on my feet immediately. Knees hurt for a couple of days up and down the stairs, but no worries.

Analysis:Need to drink some water earlier.
Stretching before and after is paramount as I have realised during all the training runs.
The difference between training and not is not your timing, but the ease and enjoyment with which you run and recover :-).
I forgot to carry the Gajak and Til Ladoos to eat during the run; left it all in the fridge; the cereal bars were a last minute substitute. arunshanbhag's tip to carry some high-carb thing has been invaluable in training and the races. Thanks saar :-)
Improving time - start running earlier, now I know how to end the race and what happens next, so probably no need to take it easy at 17 km or so. I am happy where I am right now - enjoying my running; depending on fitness and running the next few months I may try and improve timing with some intermediate speed training; then again I may not :-).

Health in general: The doctor is happy with the resting heart rate too so training and fitness in general is currently satisfactory. As discussed with Rahul, who still hasn't healed and didn't run this one, I have put on some weight. It happens during regular training; it is known that long running isn't the best way to lose weight - you actually consume and need lots of carbohydrates. The next few months should see lesser running, a consistent 5-10 kms maybe, more cardio, and some weight loss. As promised, winter in Delhi has been an eat-fest :-).

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Read 14 comments or Leave a comment
I am not a frequent flier these days, so I just noticed that taxes have crossed 2k while domestic air fares are 3 digit numbers. Rather funny situation I think.

Tags: , ,
Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Read 4 comments or Leave a comment
.. I will be running some more. I will follow some of Hal Higdon's intermediate half-marathon training schedule. It is a little more in distance and speed training than what I need or want right now, but it will keep me well challenged. I plan to do this 12 week program in about 8 weeks, in time for the StanChart Mumbai half marathon on 20th January 2008. I have learned about injuries and pulling back and breaks in training, so I am not too worried about compressing the program like this. I don't plan to build up to beyond the 10th week of the program anyway.

Having finished even just one half-marathon gives a lot of confidence and feeling of fitness. I have resumed running after the Diwali hog-a-thon, where I put on a bit :-P, and will be watching my diet a bit. But just a bit ;-) because winter is here, and it is the time to eat in Delhi. Hot samosas, awesome chaat, piping jalebis, steaming chai, boiling gulab jamuns, parathas, makki-ki-roti w/ sarson-ka-saag (waah ki swaad), moong daal halwa, gajak, muli, and lots lots more.

Tags: , , , , ,
Current Location: Delhi, India
Current Mood: excited excited
Current Music: Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

Read 5 comments or Leave a comment
It is done.
21.097 kms in 2 hours, 41 minutes, 55 seconds.
It was a beautiful run, an excellent experience, and a wonderful morning.

The Vodaphone Delhi Half Marathon took place yesterday and thousands of people participated in various categories. I give you my account.

Rahul, Bhau, Nity and me reached Bhikaji Cama Place at 7:15 am and caught the shuttle to the venue, the ground opposite Nehru Park in Chanakyapuri. We walked nearly a kilometer to the start line through various gates and holding areas and were way behind the start line when it must have flagged off at 7:45 am. We were apprehensive of the late start time and were fearing the sun later in the marathon. We crossed the start line and Bhau and me decided to walk for about 10 minutes till the rush petered out and there was space to walk. We walked till 8am actually just past the 1 km mark and the Chanakya inclines. We went our own paces then.

Safdarjung Airport flyover came up very fast and that was near the 4 km mark. The climb of the flyover was my first natural walk break. No sweat yet. I started at my pace again. The leaders crossed me in the opposite direction betwee 5 and 6 kms :-).

I ran till about the 8 kms mark where I gargled and drank only a sip before reaching the India Gate stretch. This was absolutely beautiful and the weather had been perfect till now. I was now sweating though the cool weather was making short work of it. The route took us from India Gate nearly 2/3rd the way till Rashtrapati Bhavan and an about turn till Janpath. We truned left at Janpath and turned about again at Le Meridien. This was roughly the half way mark and my first water and electral break.

The return was nice and consistent, enjoying the view, the lack of traffic, the good road, and enviously fit company. My Karachi Halwa carb boost break was at 16 kms at the Safdarjung Airport flyover. I was not panting too much and feeling like I could easily do a lot more than was needed to finish. A good feeling at 16 kms I guess :-)

At around 18km the 7 kms run junta got mixed with us and slowed everyone down. There were thousands of them doing all sorts of group antics. They were enjoying themselves, but there were too many people to enjoy my run past the 19 kms mark. Anyway I was clocking about 2:00 of running time till this point with the end in sight. Bhau caught up with me sometime then and we agreed that the fun part of the run was over. It wasn't a race against time anyway - so we decided to watch the fun instead. We also saw Nity just behind us, so we walked the last incline till 100 meters before the finish line and then ran ceremoniously to clock 2:41:55. Rahul had finished in 2:07 - good show mate. A lot of water and juice followed with some eating, including Pohe lovingly cooked by the wife at home. Reaching home was quite a another story altogether due to the awful arrangements, but we'll let that pass; we were home by 11:30.

I am very happy with finishing in decent time, and more happy that I enjoyed every step of the way. The best thing is that all my training left me quite immune to any after-effects. I can see a drastically reduced timing with more seriousness and better ending conditions (crowd wise), but then I have nothing to prove.

A million thanks to tons of helpful tips from the lord marathoner arunshanbhag and the black dog :-). To sum up my lessons learnt: correct shoes, training, stretching, hydration, bandages, carbs, energy gel, not trying to overtake the old uncle in front, running for yourself.

Let's run!

Tags: , , , ,
Current Music: My marathon playlist

Read 12 comments or Leave a comment
Day 1 - Stretch and strengthen
Day 2 - 6.5 kms in 50 mins, stretch
Day 3 - Rest
Day 4 - 6.5 kms in 50 mins, strength
Day 5 - 3.5 kms in 20 mins, 20 mins cross-train
Day 6 - Rest
Day 7 - 11 kms in 80 mins, stretch
Week 3 Day 1 - stretch and strength

Going on quite well. Elite gym membership expires later this week. Then it will be office gym in the evenings (change of timing) and weekends. Will be training will office junta including Asterix who have just written a very informative half marathon post.

I have actually gained some weight these last two weeks. I took the 'load up on carbs' advice a bit too seriously I think; may should cut back a little :-).

Of course the awesome Modaks the wife and I made on Ganesh Chaturthi (Saturday) must have had a big role to play :-). Followed the old faithful photo recipe of course.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Current Location: Delhi, India

Read 6 comments or Leave a comment
IBM TICL is something we made in our free time as a by-product of our research project earlier this year. It has now been released for free download and use on IBM Alphaworks. Expanding to IBM Tool for Interactive text Classification and Labeling, TICL is an interactive interface that enables you to create, validate, train, and refine a text classification system.

TICL is a simple stripped down version of something we have been hacking recently. There has long been the need for a text classification workbench felt by researchers and practitioners. I proposed some of these things in my thesis looking forward chapter. Some recent research (including ours), industrial work, and experience has also indicated the usefulness of something along these lines. Now that I am not a student anymore, I could talk of business value and applications but I won't ;-). There is good value in real-world settings and I leave it at that.

While we have a more integrated and richer system going internally, a bare-bones first step is available as TICL. It works on Tomcat with a few downloadable additional jar files, works off Rainbow's directory structure, and has a simple naive Bayes classifier implemented. Database support, support for other input/output formats may follow. Hopefully someone somewhere will find it useful. All comments are welcome.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Location: Delhi, India

Leave a comment