Fri, 29th Sep '06, 7:50 pm::

Just got back from an hour of kayaking at Lake Seminole, about a three minute drive from my house. I figure I could go to places around my house 2-3 times a week for quick workouts and check out the pretty places across Florida 2-3 times a month for my little nature adventure trips. One hour of stringent paddling every other day will improve my technique. Longer trips I take across the state will help boost my stamina and let me take pretty pictures.

Now, I cook something up and relax. Not going anywhere tomorrow or day after. This is my stay-at-home-and-do-chores weekend. Lots of little things to do - laundry, lawn mowing, cleaning etc.

In other news, I got a replacement cellphone and everything is working again. I lost only a handful of contact numbers and it's not really a big deal.

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Wed, 27th Sep '06, 12:05 am::

Hope you like the new look.

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Sat, 23rd Sep '06, 10:05 pm::

I went to Wekiwa River today for what was supposed to be a relaxing kayaking trip after my intense 10mile one last week. Long story short, I ended up kayaking over 11 miles today and the trail was not easy at all, mostly due to the tons of trees that blocked the path downstream. In numerous instances, I had to get out of the kayak, climp atop a log, carry/pull the kayak over the log, then get back in without overturning the kayak. Not a walk in the park by any means. Divine, nevertheless.

Wekiwa was definitely the wildest trail I've been to so far, I guess mostly because nature had truly taken over most of the trail. Unless the path is cleared, I don't think I want to go there again. It's just not much fun trying to cross over dead trees. I got a few minor cuts & bruises too. But I finally got someone to take a picture of me in my kayak :)

For today's adventure, I woke up at 4.45am, left home by 5.45am, got into the water at King's Landing (in Kelly's Park, Apopka, Florida) by 8.15am, got out at 2.15pm after 11 miles, and reached home around 6.45pm. So about six hours of driving and six hours of kayaking - I got more exercise today than the day I ran my marathon. That makes for a very tired Chirag. If I go out next week, I really want it to be relaxing and not as physically intensive.

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Sat, 23rd Sep '06, 8:00 pm::

My cellphone started acting weird earlier today and is not working at all now. If you're trying to get in touch with me, just send me an email. Or you can send me an instant message or message me on MySpace/OKCupid etc. Hopefully I'll get the issue resolved on Monday. Without my cellphone, I really have no way to contact most of the people I regularly keep in touch with. I'm pretty sure my contact list etc. will be safe because I'd recently copied my contacts from phone to my SIM card. Let's hope my SIM card hasn't died or something.

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Thu, 21st Sep '06, 11:05 pm::

I got some more backyard work done today. I rented a gas-powered soil tiller from Home Depot after work and spread Bahia grass seeds all over my back and part of my front lawn. I mixed the seeds with the soil using the tiller. Here's hoping the seeds sprout soon and I get a nice lawn.

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My IQ is -i^infinitySun, 17th Sep '06, 7:55 pm::

While talking to a friend, the topic of games and intellect came up. She asked if I'd played Brain Age, an edutainment video game that boosts your IQ. I've never really been a gamer and unless it's a boardgame involving other people and lots of words, I'm generally not interested. I don't even know what games my cellphone comes with.

However the issue of boosting IQ is something I've previously given some thought to. Despite the numerous arguments by IQ elitists, IQ basically measures your ability to think fast. With a high IQ and good memory, you too can win a million dollars on one of those TV game shows. Problem is, that kind of intelligence isn't really benefitial to anyone other than you. People with high IQ's and decent social skills can get great jobs and impress everyone around them. But they don't prove conjectures or spend seven years solving theorems. Or researching cures. Or explaining causes of economic slumps and methods to minimize the severity.

As always, there are exceptions to every rule, but the kind of intelligence that really benefits humanity and the world as a whole, is something that just cannot be measured by correctly identifying the pattern of shapes that comes next in the series. Personally, when I last measured my own IQ upon a friend's nagging, I was surprised to see it was higher than I expected. However, that is something I just don't care about. So big deal that I knew whether two of the following numbers added up to 13 or not: 1, 6, 3, 5, 11. Not. Does my ability to think fast and add a few numbers off the top of my head really help me "understand" complex schemata that describe the inner workings of network protocols at the lowest level? No. For that, I have to spend hours reading, analyzing, and understanding.

I cannot claim that having a high IQ doesn't help me. It does. Personally. When it comes to understanding how to undo void transactions from past periods in a double-entry accounting system, it's great to be able to think quick and learn just enough to get the job done and done well. But it doesn't give me any tools to make a difference to one other person. I've yet to invent a programming language that changes the lives of millions. It's not that I seek some sort of fame and glory. It's just that IQ is not the tool to measure the positive impact a person can have on the society by the virtue of their brainpower.

If more people stopped worshipping the high IQ folks while doing everything under the sun to become "smarter" and instead realized that dedication and selflessness is what's truly needed to make this world a better place, the world indeed would be a better place.

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Sat, 16th Sep '06, 9:35 pm::

Here's the pics from my kayak trip today to Silver River - Silver Springs in Ocala, Florida. I woke up this morning at 5am, left house by 6.10am, got to the kayak launch around 8.10am, kayaked 10 miles from 8.30am - 1.30pm, drove back to my town by 3.45pm, bought some groceries, went to Home Depot to buy grass seeds, got home around 5.15pm, cleaned & rinsed my carport, washed my kayak, washed my car, cleaned my backporch, showered at around 7.45pm, folded my laundry, uploaded and captioned the pics from today's trip, had dinner, and here I am posting this 'blog entry. I can't even begin to explain how tired I am right now. I have so much to say about today, but no energy. In short, this was the most beautiful nature trip I've ever taken. Hopefully more details tomorrow when I regain some strength.

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What's a living roomFri, 15th Sep '06, 9:35 pm::

My 'blog has been kinda quiet lately because I've been pretty busy last few weeks with work stuff. Things are progressing quite well and a lot of the stuff I made over the years is finally coming together. Still a few more months before it's all done though.

So my backyard that was in very bad state last year when I bought my house, is finally starting to look decent. Last month I bought 20 cubic yards of fill dirt to cover the big holes and level the yard. Then I had the wild weeds cleared and just tonight, I tilled the entire backyard and half of the front yard. I added some calcium/lime mineral and some good weed & feed everywhere. Soon I'll add the grass seeds and hopefully I'll have a nice green lawn in a couple of months. Once the lawn is better, I can get on with my projects. I haven't given up on any of my plans, just got terribly delayed due to... ummm... the space-koalas eating my literature homework.

I haven't been doing much lately other than work and house chores. Last weekend it rained pretty heavily, albeit sporadically, and I didn't go out in the water. I'm hoping this weekend is better so I can have some fun exploring the wild again. I don't have any travel plans in near future so other than my weekly kayak trips, I don't really have much to keep me entertained. Especially since the motherboard on my PC-TV got fried. By PC-TV, I mean the computer in my living room that is wired to the TV and wirelessly connects to my 2TB Raid array in the PC Room that contains 300+ movies in DVD quality. I love to just sit back on the sofa and watch a good movie or two on weekends so now I'm kinda bummed that I have to wait for a few weeks till I find a decent replacement motherboard.

Well, there's always YouTube.

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Fri, 15th Sep '06, 8:35 pm::

Ever since I came to US, I've always wondered why the Americans call the main sofa room the "living room." In India, we just refer to it as the "hall." Additionally, I encountered the "family room" and the "great room" during my four years in NJ. While the American living room doesn't have a television or an entertainment system if the house has a family room or better yet, a great room, the purpose and setting of these rooms is pretty much the same as the Indian "hall."

Nevertheless, the term family room made logical sense to me since the family would often gather around in this room after meals to watch TV or play boardgames. In case the room was huge, it was apt to call it the "great" room. Yet why call something the living room? It's not like there's another room called the dead room that people need to differentiate against.

Actually there is, rather, was. It was called the "parlour" and "in the late nineteenth century, the body of a member of the household who had recently deceased would be laid out in the parlour while funeral preparations were made." In modern homes, the parlour has been replaced by the living room "as a result of a twentieth-century effort by architects and builders to strip the parlour of its burial and mourning associations." Now one wonders, what made the architects scratch off the centuries old tradition of parlour from their blueprints?

I have a simple method to determine the cause of seemingly unexplainable societal movements - look for the industry that would benefit from the drastic change. In this case, Penn & Teller helped me out with their Death. Inc. episode. That industry is funeral homes. Funeral homes were not so common two centuries ago because every house had a parlour and only the ones without parlours would avail of their funeral services. So obviously, over the course of a few decades, the funeral home owners persuaded the builders to wipe out the parlour and replace it with something else. It was only a matter of time till some marketing genuis came up with the term "living room" to replace the parlour.

Enough history lessons. I'm gonna go watch TV in my living room now :)

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Mon, 4th Sep '06, 10:55 pm::

Since my arms were kinda sore from kayaking for 5 hours yesterday, I figured I could use a little more stretching to feel better. So I decided to check out Caladesi Island today. Caladesi was voted #1 Most Beautiful Natural Beach in Continental US for Year 2006 and is about 15 miles from my house. The island is not connected to the mainland by bridges so the only way to get there is by boats or kayaks. Fortunately, I happen to have a kayak. Here's the pics of Caladesi Island Sunset trip I took this evening.

I just wanted to go for a short, two-hour ride so Caladesi was a perfect choice. As you can see from the gallery, there were tons of birds as usual and the weather was perfect. It had cooled down and there was a slight breeze from the ocean. The water was very shallow, less than two feet deep in many places. It's actually much harder to kayak in shallow waters because you cannot get a complete stroke and have to be careful not to get your oar caught in the sea weeds and corals. Good thing about shallow waters is that you get to see a lot of birds up-close because there are no big dangerous creatures lurking below.

All in all, this is a trail I want to explore more, especially since it's so close to me. I didn't even go around the island completely so there's a lot of things I can see. The fact that it's very beautiful and so quiet almost makes me want to go there again.

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Sun, 3rd Sep '06, 7:15 pm::

Here are the photos from my kayak trip to Crystal River Preserve State Park this morning. It was quite simply one of the most breathtaking things I've ever seen in my life.

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Sat, 2nd Sep '06, 11:55 pm::

I've been pretty busy at work lately, just finishing up a big data migration project. Tomorrow I hope to go out and have a little adventure, weather permitting.

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