Thursday, February 28, 2013

Humor – IVR at the Mental Institute

Hello and welcome to the mental health hotline.
If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.
If you have multiple personalities, press 3,4,5, and 6.
If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Stay on the line so we can trace your call.
If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will transferred to the mother ship.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are manic depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press, no one will answer.
If you have a nervous disorder, please fidget with the hash key until someone comes on the line.
If you are dyslexic, press 6969696969.
If you have amnesia, press 8 and state your name, address, phone number, date of birth, social security number, and your mother's maiden name.
If you have post-traumatic-stress disorder, slowly and carefully press 000.
If you have bipolar disorder, please leave a message after the beep, or before the beep, or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.
If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short term memory loss, press 9. If you have short term memory loss, press 9. If you have short term memory loss, press 9.
If you have low self esteem, please hang up. All our operators are too busy to talk to you.
It was interesting to read this. Not just from the humor point of view but also from the point of view of understanding a facet of customer service. This is a fine example of understanding and pre-empting your customer and their needs and giving them easy options. Interesting.

Monday, February 25, 2013

GM Diet once again …

Well … I have begun yet another attempt at GM Diet

In the last 3-4 months, I have spent more than 50-60% of the time away from home … resulting in a lot of outside food being consumed along with quite some junk food too.
My weight today morning stood at 92 KG and that is way too high for my own over-weight comfort.

My trousers have needed alteration around the waist and being over-weight is anyway a pretty tiring thing. So, GM diet is my way of getting a bit of my weight in control.

I have been thinking about the GM diet for over 6 months now but the constant travelling has not allowed me to get a shot at it.

Assuming that I get through the GM diet successfully, I should lose anywhere from 3 to 5 kg in a week with some weight gain after resuming normal diet and travelling lifestyle. So the net loss should be about 2 KG.  

So if I can make that happen, I should be able to achieve my target of 80 KG after about 4-5 iterations over a period of next 5-6 months assuming again that I get to stay at home for 2 week periods.
So I wish myself luck at yet another attempt at GM Diet .... !!  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: Chanakya’s New Manifesto by Pavan Varma

Book: Chanakya's New Manifesto
Author: Pavan Varma
No. of Pages: 248
Genre: Non-Fiction, Political and Social Commentary
Publisher: Aleph Book Company

For a change, I opted to review a non-fiction work on Blog Adda and I must say that I wasn't disappointed. Chanakya's New Manifesto is about solving the current problems plaguing the country with help from age old concepts and core principles prescribed by Chanakya. By the way; the full title of the book (main title and the sub heading and sub text reads: "Chanakya's New Manifesto to Resolve the Crisis within India") and the book does justice to the title.  
The author does a decent job of identifying the problems which India, as a country, is facing now and also makes an attempt at understanding the source of the problems. As an ordinary citizen of India, I was able to closely identify with the problems and the source of the problems.
As a learned Politician, Administrator or Academician; I might have been able to judge the authenticity and correctness of the assumptions, deductions and connections made by the author. But I was satisfied at reading one man's thoughts on how the Indian situation could still be salvaged.
The author places his thoughts in a very objective manner and you find yourself nodding your head in agreement at several instances in the book … even when he challenged Democracy and other 'usually considered good' things. The book is convincing.
The book is Current. It has references from as recent as 2012 and it often gives you a feel of reading a long editorial on India's state of affairs in a Sunday newspaper rather than a book. The author takes us through a journey from Independence to the current year (not just current times / decade) and shows how each of these 5 areas overwhelmed a system which was created for Free India by our leaders of those times. Then in individual chapters, each of the 5 areas is dealt in detail with razor sharp focus with clear recommendations. He also looks at existing recommendations by various committees and individuals and Election Commission and comments on their suitability, feasibility and utility.
The author has identified 5 core areas which are the primary causes of the problems in our country (the areas themselves are not problems; the way they have shaped up in last 60 years is). These are
  1. Governance
  2. Democracy [the Indian variety]
  3. Corruption
  4. Security and
  5. Inclusive Society (which we are not).
The author shoots holes in each of these areas in Indian context and lays threadbare the sorry state of affairs of our country.
We often criticize our country and its state (infra, education, corruption and so on) but most of the times, we talk out of thin air with perceptions and generic statements. This book actually says the same, based on facts and analysis … and goes ahead and recommends ways and means of changing that.
I wish there were certain men and women in power (political power) who would take cues from the book and have the courage to apply some of the suggestions and action plans to make the country better. I know it is wishful thinking but then I am a hopelessly hopeful optimistic idiot who thinks that someone would actually have the guts to take the recommendations in the book seriously enough to implement them successfully.
This review is a part of the biggest  Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. Participate now to get free books!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mental Block or sheer Laziness ??

I haven't posted a post for more than a week now and that's not normal for my blog anymore. I have a series of blog posts lined up (in my head, titled on a word document with high level points) but I am feeling too lazy to actually pen down the posts themselves.
 This month has been busy. Started off with 4 days of marriages and related functions followed immediately by a trip to client location for project activities and this will be followed immediately by the planned Goa Trip with cousins … and in the blink of an eye, more than half of February will be over.
 All this has not only kept me busy but also has resulted in a general sense of tiredness which is positively making me feel lazy.
 On the other hand, there have been times when I have sat down to write but failed to key in much. I felt almost blank in my mind (although the pointers are there right in front of me) and could not type out any worthwhile content for the post. Not even the January Reading post was populated with content.
 So to kick out the laziness or the mental block, I began by writing at least this particular post on my laziness.
 Hope, after returning from Goa, I can kick start blog writing once more with the same zeal and post a blog post every alternate day and at times daily in this month.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Series Tracking in 2013 - 2014

As indicated in my earlier post, I will reading several short story series as well a series of 3 novella trilogies this year. I will be tracking my progress every month on these along with maintaining a count of ACD & PKD short stories along with Satyajit Ray stories of Prof. Shonku (I recently discovered that besides Feluda, even some of the Prof. Shonku stories were translated into English and published).

I pulled out from my unread archives; two thick (actually 'very thick') volumes of short story collections – one with 80 short stories by various famous authors while the other has some 200+ short stories by O. Henry. I had bought these years ago (could be even a decade ago) and finally they are out for reading in this (and next) year.    

About 2 years ago, I picked up 3 volumes of short stories with Alfred Hitchcock written in big bold letterings on the cover page. I have pulled them out to be read this year. Also discovered that there is a 4th book in the series which I need to buy and include here. 

AND … I have decided to include HINDI literature also in my reading from this year. I read a lot of Hindi stories in my childhood through children's magazines like Chandamama, Nandan etc. Somewhere as I grew up, I lost in touch with Hindi reading and I feel I need to get back to it. And so I will be picking up some Munshi Premchand short stories and might even consider reading his novels. Also, if I could get my hands on them, I would probably pick up a Chandamama or Nandan too if they are still around.

This post was originally title 'Series Tracking 2013' but I guess I need to add 2014 also in there since the reading plans I have made give me more than 400 short stories to read (Not to forget the novel that I will be reading) and although not impossible to do but still it might be more practical to have these spread across 2 years.

So this is what my series reading plan for 2013/2014 looks like (and of course, I might add something going along the way). I will be tracking this on a monthly basis.


Novella Series (32)

09        Three Short Novel Trilogies by various Authors

23        3 Investigators Series – Crimebusters series & Series by Mark Zahn


Short Story Series (400)

200      O Henry Short Stories (O Henry Shorts)

80        World's Greatest Selected Short Stories (WGS Shorts)

85        Philip K Dick short stories (PKD)

40        Arthur Conan Doyle short stories (ACD)

30        Munshi Premchand short stories

15        Professor Shonku short stories by Satyajit Ray

29        Hitchcock – Shrouds and Pockets

21        Hitchcock – Most Wanted

28        Hitchcock – Shadow of Silence

12        Hitchcock – Home Sweet Homicide


Note: I am not adding any novel trilogies etc here since I am soon going to change jobs and I don't know how my reading life will change after that. I could still manage to catch up on the short story reading somehow, but readings novels regularly might become a challenge.


Saturday, February 02, 2013

Reading Plans 2013 and beyond

The New Year has begun and so I thought … let me look at my near future reading plans. A year ago, I had made a similar post about 2012 reading plans and reviewed it around July to find that there were 3 authors that I wanted to read but had not begun. One out of the 3 was read but 2 still remained. Clive Cussler and Rick Riordan get carried forward to 2013 for reading. AND a lot many get added to read in 2013 and beyond …

Short Stories … Have read them in 2011/2012 and will continue to read them in 2013/2014
Arthur Conan Doyle – Quite a lot of short stories and none of them has Sherlock Holmes
Philip K Dick – Quite a lot of short stories still to be read even after reading 35 in 2012
Three Investigators Series – Crime Busters series and Series by Mark Zahn - 23 of them
Satyajit Ray – Professor Shonku short stories; recently discovered 2 collections translated in English

Novels …
Robert Ludlum – I haven't read them all yet ;)
Clive Cussler – At least 2 novels       
Chris Kuzneski – At least 2 novels    
Frederick Forsyth – At least 2 novels
Norman Limpert – The James Potter (Son of Harry Potter) series + a few shorts  

Ashwin Sanghi – 2 Novels; Chanakya's Chant and the Rozabel Line (and any new one)
Sidin Vadukut – The third installment of the DORK trilogy
Amish Tripathi – The third installment of the Shiva trilogy
Vikram Chandra – Sacred Games – a 1000+ page novel

Trilogy (Novels) to be read …
Stieg Larsson – The Millennium Trilogy
Mario Reading – The Antichrist Trilogy
E L James – Shades of Grey Trilogy
Rick Riordan – The Kane Chronicles to begin with … and then maybe the Percy Jackson Series in 2014 …
Cornelia Funke – Inkspell and Inkdeath (I read Inkheart a long time ago, probably 2010)

Short Novel Trilogy - I also have 3 trilogies of short novels (less than 200 pgs) by different authors.

Alfred Hitchcock Series - Also to be read is a collection of 90 short stories put together in 4 volumes under the aegis of Alfred Hitchcock with titles such as 'Shrouds and Pockets' (29 stories), 'Most Wanted' (21 stories), 'Shadow of Silence' (28 stories) and 'Home Sweet Homicide' (12 Stories)

Many More Short Stories: I pulled out from my unread archives; two thick (actually 'very thick') volumes of short story collections – one with 80 short stories by various famous authors while the other has some 200+ short stories by O. Henry. I had bought these years ago (could be even a decade ago) and finally they are out for reading in this (and next) year.    

Hindi Literature - Munshi Premchand Stories: I have decided to include HINDI literature also in my reading from this year. So I will be picking up some Munshi Premchand short stories and might even consider reading his novels.

I might also read some short stories from the editions of the following Magazines … in 2013 (hardly) / in 2014 (probably) / in 2015 (most likely) …
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine - several editions
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine - several editions
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine - several editions

I will surely be reading a lot of new authors as I keep receiving books for review from, Authors and Publishers.

THAT looks like a fiction reading list for 2013 & 2014 (and maybe even 2015 and beyond) … a heady mix of novels and short stories