Comrades marathon: Can I conquer ?

I recently came across this amazing Ultra marathon and have been unable to take my mind off it. I follow Bart Yasso on Twitter and got the first introduction there to this long endurance race. And a great first hand account of the race and its challenges by someone who completed it, is here at runnersworld. Remarkable !

My body is far from being ready to face 55 miles right now but I want to do this some day. In the next few years. Before the years wither and wane this body I carry around. 2011 might be the magic year and I’ll hopefully be able to conquer this distance. Time will tell …

Micro and Macro – Is there a difference ?

I have been meditating for a few years now and every now and then, I have this realization that I can expand to the entire size of the universe and contract myself to the size of an atom, just moving with my breath. It is a beautiful feeling but my words are inadequate to express them.

But when you look at two images side-by-side, representing the macro and micro universes and find similarities beyond comprehension, there is very little to express in words any more.

Oral surface of a young seastar (40x)

Oral surface of a young seastar (40x)

The neutron star in the "Cassiopeia A" supernova

The neutron star in the Cassiopeia A supernova

Just look and meditate on it. Enough said.


MATLAB and Windows 7

So I bought this sweet XPS 1340 laptop which has some great specs and is lightweight while still providing enough power to run my PhD code ! I threw out the Vista it came with and installed Win7 ultimate on it. Now, as part of the painful process of installing the new apps I needed to make the laptop usable for work, I came to the part where MATLAB installation started.

I found out the hard way that Win7 does not like the Java version that comes with MATLAB 7.0 and hence ran the setup itself in a deprecated mode. And once the installation finished, even the splash screen would not be displayed anymore. Searching the internet yielded very little but then looking at MATLAB/work directory, I found several error logs related to Java again.

The next logical thing was to update my Java version to the latest one and I changed the “MATLAB_JAVA” environment variable to the right location. This useful nugget via Mathworks solved the issue. Of course, I spent couple of hours trying to figure this out based on several other forum postings but none of them helped. And some of these fixes were complicated too.

Amazing how often the simplest solutions solve the problems we encounter most elegantly !

Mind’s eye

I’ve hummed along to the beat of this song by Wolfmother so many times but just listened to the lyrics and found them graceful and beautiful. Here’s the full lyrics for the song.

When the time is right and the night is bright
We will see the things we’ve come to find
I’ve been searching for just a little more
but the days girl just slip away
And the red sunset that we just met
I can see forever

Come and see the mind’s eye
We can find it if we try
Come and see the mind’s eye
Transfixed upon the why
Come and see the mind’s eye
We can find it if we try

Well they say it’s right if it feels alright
When your love burns up in the mire
So I burnt a fire for a lost desire
See it burning higher

Come and see the mind’s eye
We can find it if we try
Come and see the mind’s eye
Transfixed upon the why
Come and see the mind’s eye
We can find it if we try

I’ve got to admit, there is some nice word play and poetry in there. Subtle and elegant.

George Hirsch Runs 4:06:14

Every now and then, you find something so insane and mind boggling that just freezes you on your tracks. I came across this article today and couldn’t help but remember that I passed Hirsch around my 20th mile. And I thought to myself then, “Wow. How did he get here so fast” while little did I know that he was 75. Holy mother of God.

Seriously, if I live that long, I’d be happy to walk around the block without pain in my knees and back. Kudos to pushing the limits George Hirsch !

Some awesome Chemistry experiments

When I was growing up and had to decide what field to get in to for my college, I was in a dilemma. I really liked computers, after the really simple BASIC and C programs I wrote during my high school. But on the other hand, Physics seemed too fundamental and I wanted to understand what is going on around me and explain it with the Math I so love. But what did catch my interest most of all is the explosive reactions that Chemistry opened up. It was something I did not understand at all and that intrigued me. Of course little did I know that Chemical Engineering had nothing to do with pure Chemistry. But enough of that reminiscence.

It always is interesting to me to find experiments that open up new perspectives on things. And recently, this article “Top 10 Mad Science-Worthy Chemistry Experiments” via Neatorama caught my attention. And I just couldn’t let it pass without writing a rant about it…

Do read the article and watch all videos to get some interesting new ideas and the possibilities that Chemistry opens up.

NYC marathon.

Finally, the day came and I conquered the 26.2 miles. There was no turning back, no stopping now. No matter how many hurdles were thrown, with increasing/decreasing elevations and with beers the day before, or with sombre thoughts on finishing research, these legs are not going to wear out today. And that’s exactly what happened.

Chicago was great last year but this time, NYC marathon was a whole new experience. I never forgot the agony of the first marathon but somehow, I enjoyed it this time around and that pushed me to make a personal record (PR). In 3:54 hours (unofficially) and 4:02 (officially), I broke my previous time and have increased the confidence in my training methods. Maybe couple more marathons will prepare me a lot better, both physically and mentally to have the endurance to face what may come unexpected. Pressure is the only thing that always streamlines my mind and it is good to know, that this is still the case.

Anyway, apart from that rant, this is a shout out to all those people who showed up to cheer the runners, all those who ran along with me, and my friends who spared me from getting drunk the day before ! Until the next 26.2 miles, I’m out to take some rest. A triathlon does sound good right now but if only I can swim well …

Update: Got an email today with pictures of my running during the marathon. I uploaded them online. Here is the link and some images where I do look like I’m enjoying the run !!