Gripe on Units and Conversions

I went to DUANEreade to get an instant photograph. I wanted a 4 cm by 3 cm photo. The photographer, who is also the store manager was not thrilled at this prospect since his camera did not carry 4 by 3 option. However, since it had 43mm by 33mm option, I asked him to use that. The picture is taken, the prints are out and he used the standard paper trimmer to give me 25mm by 25mm photo. I don’t possess a sharp measuring eye, but this clearly did not look like what I asked for. I requested him to check the size once again since this was clearly looking anomalous. He gave me a startled look and said it was accordingly to what I asked for. He even browsed through his smart phone for 5 minutes to convince me that 4cm by 3cm = 40mm by 30mm. Unfortunately, his validation should have been using the ruler or the measuring scale on his paper trimmer and not the phone.

I am not giving up.. I went to the stationary section, grabbed a ruler and proved to him that he gave me a 25mm by 25mm photo. He clearly did not like this verification and hesitantly agreed to take another photo. So, the photo is take again, printed out (only this time, he used the option of 43 by 33 on his computer) and trimmed. All the while he alluded to his 30 years photography experience where he never encountered a customer who asked for a passport sized photo that is 40 by 30 and that the standard size he is used to is the 25 by 25. I thanked him, paid at the checkout and left. I am never going back to DUANEreade again for an instant photograph even for a standard size of 25 by 25.


This is an old post when I first got my iPhone. I still like my 5s but may be it is time to upgrade to the 6 series.

January 17, 2014:

For some time now, as I am about to get off the bus every day in Weehawken, I am counting the number of people who are busy with their smart phones. The bus carries about 50 passengers and almost always 40 of them are either on “game center”“networking” (Facebook blah blah) or music (mostly iTunes). I was among the few who are left out of the action, perhaps because of my adamancy on pretending to be a medieval person.

Not anymore, as I recently switched to the most elegant smart phone in the market, the one and only iPhone 5s. Indeed, we have made amazing technological progress since the medieval age and the recent smart phone revolution personifies this brilliance. This is not meant to be a review for iPhone 5s as I am still naïve to smart phones, but soon I may have to participate in the eternal debates of iPhone technology vs Android technology. I just hope that it won’t end up like emacs Vs vim. I created a chronology of my exposure to phones that dates back to the antique ringer phone. Have you given a thought about how may phones you had?


Yellen is the Road to Weimar

I wrote about Janet Yellen and her thoughts on gold when she was appointed as the Fed Chairman. She will have to come out with QE infinity to hold the slipping stock market. Here are my thoughts on her (I wrote this blog on December 4, 2013).

“She’s a very bright lady,” Greenspan said of Yellen on CNBC. “I think she will surprise everybody, I mean in a positive way.”

The only person who should be happy about Janet Yellen’s nomination as Federal Reserve Chairman is Uncle Ben himself. Just like how Greenspan got out of dodge before the housing bubble burst, Ben Bernanke is getting off the hook before the next economic collapse. During his term, Bernanke managed to double the stock market with his QE 1 – QE 4 and Operation Twist. He can now leave without tapering and claim credit for putting the economy back on track in five years. However, for this fake growth (bubble) to sustain, Janet Yellen has to take QE4 to QE infinity and destroy the purchasing power of the dollar. Yellen is oblivious to inflation and doesn’t believe in sound money or austerity.

“Nobody has a good model of what the fundamental value of gold is or should be”, stated Janet Yellen in her hearing before the Senate. If one cares about the value of gold (the Fed Chairman should be the first person to care), we do not need “models”. We need to open up our eyes to the fundamental theory of money and realize that it is the very inflation of the fiat money supply that causes the price of gold to rise. With such crazy inflation all around the world now, Weimar Republic and Zimbabwe will only become median statistics in history. We are going to witness, in our lifetimes, the tail of this distribution. Get some gold and crash proof yourself.

Securing the Future of India’s Water Food and Energy

With over a billion people to serve (around 70% in rural areas), India faces an unprecedented water crisis in the next two decades. Inability to provide a reliable and regular water supply for domestic, industrial and energy needs and scarcity of water for irrigation are some of the prominent concerns. The national food security goals (intended toward arresting the food scarcity) have led to targeted regions for the procurement of rice and wheat, with minimum support prices, and a variety of subsidies for fertilizer, energy and seed. This has led to a significant change of the regional cropping patterns away from traditional crops that were adapted to the local climate and soils. Needless to say that it has also increased the demand for irrigation in the targeted procurement regions. Not surprisingly, aquifer depletion and inefficient water use are now endemic. Uncertain climate and needs of the growing population for food will likely determine the shape of the water crisis in the country.

In this context, the work I conducted recently attempts to (a) quantify the dimensions of the water scarcity problems in the country and (b) provide a clear, scientifically thorough, rational set of solutions that can be implemented to restore water and environmental sustainability. The work provides an initial, formal analysis for the re-design of the Indian food procurement system that considers climate driven variations in renewable water supply, the sustainability of groundwater pumping, varying regional productivity of crops and farm level economics. Assuming that the food security goals are to be met while keeping current procurement prices fixed for each crop, the scheme attempts to maximize net aggregate farm income from the procurement system. The results suggest that net farm revenue could be doubled while minimizing or eliminating the need for irrigation to meet the food requirements.

Details of the work can be found in the UNESCO’s Global Water Forum’s Discussion Paper. For the technical content and underlying methodologies, you can read my Water Resources Research Article. You can read my other articles on water sustainability and risk analysis here.

Testimonial for Perennial Ideas

Back in 2010, I attended a workshop named “medhajananam” which translates to “Ignite the Intellect”. Here is my testimonial on it that also appears under the testimonials section. Medhajananam has now grown from a small university workshop to a transcendent organization. Wishing good luck to Medhajananam and Krishna Garu.

“I first heard about “Medhajananam” when I was in a philosophical discussion with one of my friends. Between both of us, he was the better read person, so I was more focused on adding his wisdom to mine. What caught my attention were his excerpts from Medhajananam. Later, another friend referred me to this class during our routine game of badminton in the gym. My inherent inquisitiveness in the concepts of Indian philosophy and my previous New Year resolution of productive procrastination led me into sitting through the class of Medhajananam. Here is my take on the class, instructor and the atmosphere. The class is elegantly structured with an introduction of religion, god, mythology, rituals and concepts of universe etc. From a personal stand point, the initial few classes were a brush up of what I have come across and thought through over years. So the classes slowly progressed and fueled my thoughts. The day I started learning about the 1000 noble laureates, I was ecstatic and felt I am now one of those few who will finally understand the numerous concepts that our ancestors have given to their future generations. Most of us will have known these concepts through various readings or practices and belief systems. However this course is a very finely filtered form of the humongous content out there giving you not only the in-depth understanding of Indic philosophy, but also the framework to relate to the contemporary lifestyle. I was really thrilled by the concepts of OM and Energy and Matter. These concepts fulfilled my childhood dream journey into space and time to explore the universe and its origin. To have visualized the universe at a very fine resolution and understand the conceptual framework was really amazing. The discussions on the idea of Prakriti and Purusha were enriching. For the first time, I started appreciating the artistic and poetic beauty in it. I am sure having understood the deep sense in it men will have less complains about women and will start enjoying the dance of nature. The concepts of colors and the four petals of life are very handy especially for people who are excited to land their feet in the real world. To have brought everything under one foundation, I was struck by awe at the research abilities of our Rishis. Watching the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana, I always felt the need to have a Guru from who I can gain wisdom and light similar to the Heros in the epics. After attending this class I think it is apt to call Krishna Garu a modern time Guru who can spread the light and wisdom around with panache. The class involved a lot of discussions and debates on various topics with fellow friends. The afternoon snack and the awesome coffee usually compounded the benefits from the class especially for a group of graduate students. In conclusion I would call Medhajananam the “FORCE” of “STAR WARS”. It is omnipresent and everyone who will attend it will harness power from it.”