Monday, October 29, 2012

Some 'small' things


(You didn’t think I was going to let October go without a post, did you?)

This post is going to be about the ‘small things’ that have happened to me lately.

P.G. Wodehouse
When I was in school, during an English class, the teacher asked the class if anyone had read P.G. Wodehouse. She was surprised to learn that no one had even heard of him and then proceeded to tell us that he was a good author and that we should read some of his books. A few months ago, while I was browsing the fiction shelves, I saw 5 books of this author stacked against one another. However,  they were too ‘thin’ and I wasn’t in the mood for such light stories. I wanted something gruesome that gave me thrills so I passed and promised myself that I’d taken them the next time. The book that I had taken then proved to be a bummer and I realized that perhaps I should move on to something else from the suspense, mystery filled stories. Well, the next time I went to the library, I grabbed a P.G. Wodehouse book called “Summer lightning”. Usually, whenever I pick a Dan Brown or Jeffrey Archer, I find the transition from the real world to the book easy and smooth. This however wasn’t anything like that. I struggled at the beginning to get into the groove but I hung on. The reviewes at the beginning showered praise on the author and called him amazing. He had to be good. Well, I finished that book and forgot about Wodehouse for a while until a month ago when I picked up another book called “Ring for Jeeves.” I was finding it extremely hard to find the time for 600 page novels and thought that a smaller book would be easier to read.  This time, I was much more ‘open’ to the book and well, I found it to be amazing. Yes, I struggled a bit at the beginning but I caught on soon.

At school, we sometimes had a 40 minute reading session at the library. I used to see my friends pick a book up and whenever they came across an unknown word, they’d go refer a dictionary to find the meaning. Sometimes, they used to ask me while I was engrossed in my own book. I’d tell them “Mate, not knowing that one word isn’t going to make the book unreadable or the story boring. Just leave it behind and pass on.” I wonder how I managed to learn the meaning of any word by that philosophy and coming to think of it, perhaps I don’t. Almost all the uncommon words I know, I only know their meaning with respect to the context that they’re used in. Of late however, I have found out that sometimes that isn’t possible.
Anyway, while reading “Ring for Jeeves”, I stumbled upon so many unknown words that I didn’t know the meaning to and nor could I make much out of the context they were used in. So, I kept my iPod beside me and opened a dictionary in that and proceeded to find out the meanings of the words that I didn’t know. That made the process of reading and understanding the book so much more easier and fun. Plus,  I got to learn a whole lot of new words (They’re mostly archaic though and I’m worried that my entire vocabulary will be replaced by archaic words that no one knows the meaning to). I picked up another book recently, “The inimitable Jeeves” and it was much more fun that the previous ones. I guess P.G. Wodehouse grows on you over time.

And yeah, if you haven’t read any of his books, I urge you to go find one and read it. I found his stories  very different (in a good way) from the dark thrillers that I usually read which contain at least one murder and one gunfight.

#Wow. I just wrote 665 words on that supposedly ‘small topic’ but I’m not done yet. Let’s finish what I’ve started.

Gamification
Remember that Coursera course that I was talking about in an earlier post, well, I successfully completed it and got a certificate signed by the instructor, Kevin Werbach. Yaay! All the work paid off!

Scoot Young’s learning technique
I like learning about how I can make myself more productive. How can I achieve more in the same time? I mean, I’m a student. I’d love to know how to be able to maximize my productivity during the time I study and ace tests. So uh, I read a lot of articles on the internet and follow some websites.
One such blog is run by an MIT Computer Science graduate who I believe wants to decode the process of achieving more. He’s not satisfied by simple phrases like ‘Follow your passion!’ but wants to know what lies behind them. Well, he writes at a website called ‘Calnewport.com’ I suggest you go check it out. It’s a nice website.

Anyway, the latest post on that website is titled “Mastering Linear Algebra in 10 days: Astounding experiments in Ultra-Learning”

Here’s the link that à

It’s about the ultra learning techniques that the author’s friend, Scott Young, developed over a period of 12 months in which he completed 4 years worth of classes required by an MIT Computer Science undergraduate. Amazing right?

Well, I read that post and was so impressed by it that I’ve decided to adopt it. It is logically sound, connected with MIT and Richard Feynman and ‘proven’.

I’m really looking forward to applying and sustaining that method over the next phase of my studies (however long that may be) and hope that it’ll be of some help as I’ve been finding college unmanageable of late.



8 one hour sessions doing Physics
One fine day during these holidays, I thought “Okay. Today, I’m going to do Physics and physics only.” I ended up spending almost 8 hours and finished solving around 3 chapters in an AIEEE exercise book. Was it fun or was it fun? At the end of the day, I looked at all the work that I had completed and was stunned. It simply didn’t feel like I could’ve done so much in just one day. I instantly assumed that I had received some super powers overnight and thought that I could do it any day and any time I want. Hmmph. It was not to be.

Played volleyball after what felt like decades
Yesterday, (Okay, it’s past 12 so, day before yesterday), my school friends arranged a volleyball match. It was fun playing with them after a gap of nearly four months. Actually, that was the only ‘outdoor’ physical activity that I’ve done in the past 4 and a half months. Lol! By the way, we won. 3-1. Again. Thanks to my serves, some nice saves by Ibrahim and good team-work from Vijay and Hussain.

9 hours of sleep
That’s a luxury I cannot afford on a normal day.

Dusted my guitar and retuned it…
Only to break the high E string and now it is back biting the dust as it is a tedious process to get the string replaced (not really. I just have to spend some time on it) and I simply cannot be bothered to do it as the profit of doing so at this point of time outweighs the marginal cost (just inserting some fancy economics terms here. I don’t know what they mean and whether I have used them correctly but hey, I was in a flow)

Dota2
I logged in 4 hours of Dota2 these holidays at a gaming centre called GameOn. I met someone who goes by the name of ‘Behemoth’ and is of the same grade as me who has logged in 120+ hours. I felt ‘120 hours! That’s a lot of time. I wish I had that much time in my hands to while away. (googled whether it was ‘wile’ or ‘while’ only to find that they are both used today but only one makes sense logically. http://grammarist.com/usage/while-away-wile-away/)  I played a game with him which didn’t go till completion because of a power cut.

One thousand three hundred and seventy eight words.
That is the length of this post until that last period. I think that I should be end this post, get my bag ready for tomorrow and then proceed to read ‘Why does E = mc^2’ until I feel sleepy.


These holidays were a welcome break from the routine and have refueled (I think it is very unfair that Word displays red squiggly lines underneath the word ‘refuelled’. It’s equally correct! ) me with hopefully enough energy until the next such holidays.


####### THIS POST goes completely haywire after this. I have no idea why I wrote, what I wrote ########
Let me give you an analogy (as I’m in the mood for one).

Life for me is like driving a motorcycle up a steep hill. Everybody gets different motorcycles. While one gets a sporty and awesome looking Kawasaki Ninja, another gets a sturdy Royal Enfield while yet another gets a plain looking Hero Splendor+ but with a high mileage. People don’t start with the same bike, some have - what people might call – an unfair advantage but that’s just the way it is. There’s nothing you can do about it. Stealing is strictly prohibited. There is no purpose to this.  There is no end-point. There’s nothing to tell you something along the lines of ‘Congratulations. You have reached the end of your journey. Please proceed through the gates to receive your prize.’ There is no end as such. Only an end as you perceive it.

#### From the point of view of a student #####

Everybody has a bike. Different bikes. Some have a Yamaha R15 while others have to make-do with a scooty or a Yamaha Rx100.

It is not the bike that matters but the distance travelled. The distance travelled determines whether you will ace all the subjects, just pass or fail them.

The class topper, the guy who comes first in all subjects without studying for them, he owns an R15. The guy who fails all his subjects, owns a Hero Splendor.

The idea is like this. The ‘supposed’ objective of the game is – Travel the farthest distance.

This can be done primarily in a single way – use your bike in the best way possible.

That in turn divides into several sub-categories listing ways in which you could use your bike in the best way possible.

-          Learn to drive properly
-          Take good care of your bike by regularly oiling
-          Change tires regularly
-          Stop at fuel stations to refuel
-          Upgrade your engine, chassis etc.
-          Learn to make friends with your fellow drivers who might pinch in with an extra tire in times of need
-          Listen to the radio station that broadcasts help for you to drive better
-          Experiment
-          Learn to work hard at covering the maximum distance
-          Don’t become stagnant because if you do, the bike will start rolling backwards.
-          Don’t burn yourself out by working too hard as it will reduce engine-life

I can connect every single one of those to something that a ‘student’ is supposed to do in real life. I will write them out one day, I promise, not today.

It surprises me as to how I can find analogies or make up stories that explain some situations perfectly. You know how some people find it difficult to follow some classes because they missed some or don’t work hard enough to cope up. I can give you an example in which you are doing another task, your goal is entirely different but everything that has happened to you can be co-related to something there.

This is definitely something that I’ll write about some day.

The word count reads 1,981 and the clock on the bottom right says “1:12 AM”. I think it’s time to say goodbye. Writing this was extremely fun, just like old times.

Until next time,
Adarsh.

(PS:Thewordcountnowis2012exactly.TheYearinwhichwearecurrentlyliving.Isthatsupposedtobeasignofsomething?OOOOOOEERIE)