August 30, 2010

Random Thoughts: Dance

Some dance to remember.  Some dance to forget.  Some forget to dance.

PS: I already posted this on Twitter, but this one is so close to my heart I want a place for this in my blog :)

August 29, 2010

Self-help

I summarize many self-help books into one sentence: "you are responsible".  Now, I think I can summarize many books and movies into this sentence: "if the door you want to enter is locked tight, don't keep banging at it."

August 23, 2010

De-stressing your bike's engine

What would you do if your bike's pick up has reduced noticeably and the engine feels a little too stressed after it's just back from the mechanic's?  Sometimes mechanics tune things slightly wrong, and here are a couple of things you can try to fix the bike yourself:

Reduce the idle speed of the engine if it's too fast.  Recommended idle speed for your bike, how to change the idle speed, etc. vary for each bike.  For Honda Unicorn, the recommended idle speed is 1400 ± 100 rpm.  You can adjust the idle speed by adjusting the knob shown in the picture.  One thing to keep in mind while adjusting idle speed is that, you should ride the bike for 2 or 3 kilometers to warm the engine up before setting the idle speed.



Loosen the clutch cable if it's too tight.  But how do you know if the clutch is too tight?  A few symptoms I know of are:
  • The bike's pick up is slower than usual.
  • The engine stresses more than usual even at slow speeds.
  • When you have to use the clutch very frequently -- for example in stop-and-go traffic -- because the clutch is too tight your fingers become sore quicker.
You can loosen the clutch by adjusting the nut shown in the picture.  One good thing about this nut is that you don't need a spanner (or wrench) to adjust it; you can simply use your fingers.

August 22, 2010

Open vs. closed systems

Many web sites (or apps) now have a mobile interface.  If they detect that you are using a mobile browser, they automatically redirect you to a mobile-friendly version of the site.  Every time I notice a site do this, I think "how nice it would be if my blog also had a mobile version that loaded fast on mobile phones!"

From the little I know, it's very simple to do that on a WordPress blog.  But Blogger hosts my blog.  I have no choice but to wait for Blogger to act on this.  I sometimes (very infrequently) think of moving my blog to Google App Engine so I can have all the power I might need for customizing it.  But then, maintaining a blog is a lot of work, and that's one of the primary reasons I use Blogger.

August 20, 2010

Review and clean up your Twitter connections

I like trying out new tools and apps.  One thing I like about Twitter is that there are plenty of Twitter clients out there.  We have a lot of choice in choosing a client that suits our needs and preferences. I keep trying various Twitter clients every now and then.

Now, a small detour about how you'd authorize a Twitter client to access your account.  There are two ways a third party Twitter client would ask for access to your account: 1. by providing your user name and password to the client, and 2. by using OAuth.  Option 2 is a lot more secure than option 1 because when you are giving away your password to a person or a program, that person or program has unlimited access to your account.  By "unlimited" I mean they can do anything whatsoever including changing your password and even deleting your account permanently!  But if you authorize a client via OAuth, it has limited access to your account, so it cannot do much harm.  (But sadly, many Twitter clients don't support OAuth yet!)

The best part about OAuth is that when you stop using an app, you can revoke the permissions you gave to that app.  (You can do that from Twitter Connections settings.)  If you had shared your password with an evil person or app, your only choice is to change the password.

Today I was casually going through my Twitter settings and found that I had authorized many third party clients to tweet on my behalf.  I had stopped using most of those clients, but I didn't know that these permissions are persistent (i.e. authorizations persist even after we uninstall the clients).



Leaving only the clients that I use currently, I revoked access to all other clients.  You also go ahead to Twitter Connections and remove unwanted apps from there.

PS: Facebook scene is probably worse since you would have unknowingly authorized many Facebook apps.  See my previous post to learn more.

August 19, 2010

Random Thoughts: Choices

We make choices all the time.  But never can we know if a choice we once made was the best we could have or not.  We just live the choices we make.

August 16, 2010

Random Thoughts: Horse riding

One who rides two horses will lose balance later, if not now.  When you must ride two horses, harness them to a chariot.

Random Thoughts: Self

  • Proving to the world is proving to self.
  • Being angry is being angry with oneself.

Random Thoughts: Emotions

Emotions (always?) stem from unknowns.

Random Thoughts: Bitterness

If you happen to bite something bitter, just swallow it.  Or spit it out.  Don't keep it in your mouth forever.

August 11, 2010

A respect hungry mind

I am one of those people who want/need/expect to be respected.  From my conversations with my friends in the past I know that I use the word "respect" to mean something very different than what many people think.  I'll first make an attempt to explain how I define respect.  Respect is respecting as a human being; treating as a living thing; believing that a person is important; believing that what they say is important (at least for that person).

I get really pissed when people don't respect me.  I expect all my friends to respect me.  Especially when the relationship is not going great.  I messaged a friend last night and haven't gotten any response whatsoever till now.  And that's eating my head since morning.  Our relationship never was smooth and it's rough as I write this.  (Although that friend might think otherwise.)  So, in this relationship my expectation to be respected is a little high and that person just doesn't stand up to it.

A part of my mind says only I am to be blamed if I am not happy.  Another part of my mind wants to call that friend and say how bad I feel.  And the first part tells the second part that I just shouldn't be bothered about this whole thing and move on with things that matter.  After all, spending one's energy on hopeless things doesn't make any sense at all.

One important thing is to learn how to respond to that friend next time when I face her and how much value I really give to that friendship.  Maybe I am valuing that friendship a little too much now.

August 09, 2010

Pilgrimage 2010: Manali-Leh highway

People we met casually asked us what our plans were like.  Everyone was surprised that we are taking the Manali route while returning from Leh too.  (There are two routes to Leh from Delhi: one via Srinagar and another via Manali.  Manali route is harder and more scenic than the Srinagar route.  People usually enter Leh through one route and leave by other.)  "You want to do that route again?", "You would save time if you go via Srinagar", "Don't you want to see Kargil/Tiger Hills/Dal Lake/etc." were the typical reactions of people.

On our way to Leh from Manali we had faced a lot of difficulties.  It was raining in Pang, a place where it usually never rains because of its high altitude.  We had to stop at Pang for a night and because of the altitude neither of us could sleep well.  I even experienced a very mild AMS.  Because of the mild AMS, I had to walk out of our tent in rain to throw up.  (I still remember some local lady telling me Kahaan jaate ho?  Gir jaaoge! meaning "Where are you going?  You will fall!")

The next day's ride was even worse.  Around 11 in the morning Saravanan signals me to stop.  We both stop and he says both his hands are completely unresponsive.  "Take your helmet off and breath well", I tell him.  But his fingers just wouldn't let him do anything.  I take his gloves off, help him take the helmet off.  We both eat something we had, and drink some water.  We keep our hands on the hot engines and the exhausts of the bikes.  We did this all while it was raining!  After a few minutes Saravanan feels a little better and I tell him that we'd ride to some place where we get food.  A place where we can sit and relax without getting wet.  We stopped at the first tea shop we saw and ate hot Maggi, drank tea before we continued.

After all this, we both didn't want another Pang in that trip.  That's one reason why we didn't spend the night in Pangong lake -- "no high altitude nights any more", we had decided though neither of us had explicitly said that.  This made both of us hesitate a little to take the same route back.  For various reasons I firmly decided that we will take the same route, and Saravanan agreed too, albeit with hesitation.  (I kept telling myself this quote from The Matrix: "The real test for any choice is having to make the same choice again, knowing full well what it might cost.")

It didn't rain on our way back.  That made the ride a lot easier.  We had been expecting the worst experience of our life, but the reality was way different.  We saw how good those roads were.  (All this while "There are no roads at all" was our impression about that route!)  Because we wanted to reach Manali as early as possible I had decided that I won't stop to take pictures.  So my focus was only on the roads.  And on the sceneries around.  This time I saw everything in a new light.  I saw the beauty and breathtaking views of the terrains, as if I was seeing them for the first time.  It was a much pleasant experience riding back.

Yesterday evening Saravanan told me: "Riding back on the same route was probably one of the best decisions we made."  We would have missed such a beauty if we had taken the Srinagar route, and worse, the image of Manali-Leh route in our minds would have been of a "roadless difficult terrain that's beautiful here and there".  But in reality, that route is one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life.  I'm glad I didn't fall for the Srinagar route's "new terrain" bait :-)

See Pilgrimage 2010 for some background on what "Pilgrimage 2010" is.

Pilgrimage 2010: tents

You find tents everywhere.  Hotels, restaurants, living place for people, and whatnot.  One thing I really like about the tents is that they’re so temporary.  The tent probably didn’t exist a couple months back.  In a few months, when the people leave that place (migrating to someplace where winter isn’t too harsh), the tent will go with them too.  Everything inside the tent, the tent itself with all its supporting polls would be loaded in a pick up and within days you won’t find a trace that there was a restaurant that fed so many passersby.  This impermenance is intriguing and I kinda like it.  In a way I want my life to be like that too.

See Pilgrimage 2010 for some background on what "Pilgrimage 2010" is.

August 08, 2010

Pilgrimage 2010: tidbits

  • Packing for a 21-day trip is way different from packing for a 2-day trip.
  • India is vast.  It took us 10 days of riding (plus one day of rest) to reach Leh from Hyderabad.  We felt like tiny ants climbing their fastest on a tall mountain.
  • Maharashtra is beautiful.
  • Monsoons are probably the best time to ride in India.  As long as you have proper rain gear.
  • Nexus One is a pretty good phone to carry while traveling.
  • I love Vodafone.  (I like the name Hutch though.)  It just works wherever I go.  When other two phones we carried (BSNL and AirTel) were completely dead in Kashmir, my Vodafone worked just fine.
  • One way traffic is boring.  I'd choose old two-way highways any day.
  • It's amazing how well one can drive while sleeping.
  • I have wanted to be a cab driver for a while.  Now I think I'd rather be a truck driver.
  • I like trucks for their enormous size and beauty.
  • I like roads; I find them beautiful.
  • Traveling aimlessly and having time to spare lets you think free.  We should note that Pirsig wrote both his books while he was traveling.
  • On some national highway it was written that a good driver is seldom hurt.  I agree.

Pilgrimage 2010

I have always wanted to do this.  Take a map of India, draw a long line on it, and say "I am going to travel this route."  17th of July, I started on one such trip.  I covered 4842km on my bike (plus about 2200km using public transport, which is not of much importance).

On the bike, I covered about 13 national highways and more than 20 state highways.  I would have approximately burned 105 to 110 litres of petrol.  Here's the rough route map of my travel, excluding public transport.  (Click on the picture to see it in the original size, or see the route on Google Maps.)  With me was my brother Saravanan, who took his bike from my native place Kovilpatti.  His trip is 1100km longer than mine.


I couldn't believe myself when we started on 17th morning.  We kept riding.  As days went by we saw new terrains and new people.  Yet it was all only like a dream; I couldn't believe it was really happening.  Now, everything is over and I shall be at work tomorrow doing whatever I usually do; yet it still feels like a dream.

PS: Pictures I took during this trip are available as a Picasa web album.