Everything but the plot

Recently started reading 2001 A Space Odyssey and in the foreward, Arthur writes a bit about his collaboration with Stanley while writing the book. He wrote this from his journals when he was very close to finishing, and I found it very funny:

“July 12. Now have everything – except the plot.”



I bought this book for Avi and Akshna after reading some good reviews but not knowing exactly what story it was and not expecting a whole lot. But today Avi said he was a bit confused on how to write 8 as a binary. Akshna was standing there and she said open, closed, closed, closed. At first I didn’t get it but then I realized she was saying “1000”, which was correct. I asked a few more small numbers and she correctly converted them to binary as well. I was surprised and amazed. That’s when I realized that this book is teaching binary as well.

So before dinner, I gave them some more basics on binary representation and taught them how to convert larger numbers to binary as well. I would say it was totally worth getting this book and would highly recommend it for anyone wanting to get their kids started in CS.

FRC LA Regional 2017


Even though we were ranked 14th after the end of qualifying round, we didn’t get selected by any alliances for playoffs. It was heartbreaking. We made a lot of improvements to the robot and were able to deliver gears and climb reliably. But we need to understand the logic behind the way team captains choose the alliances and why they didn’t pick us but picked much lower ranked teams. Our communications team tried to make friends with other teams, but that didn’t help. Guess we lacked in our PR efforts.

Another thing lacking is that the team itself is not convinced that they are strong contenders. We have come a long way from a couple of years ago, maybe even from last year when we were happy if we just made it out of the last 20 teams. We were so happy if we got the autonomous mode working. But this time, our robot can perform all functions, some more reliably than others. But the team still lacks the confidence to go to other teams’ pit area, ask them about their robot’s functions, talk to them about the strategy and just show them that we are strong contenders for alliances.

Anyways, we still need to continue making improvements. Both to our robot and our team’s confidence. Looking forward to Irvine.


Some friends of ours go to Chinmaya and they invited us for their holi celebration. I anticipated a little bit of color on the face and some mildly interesting food. But I underestimated grossly on both accounts. The food was very good, and the amount of color we got on us was about 20x times more than my expectations. It was a lot of fun. Kids had a blast too, they just wouldn’t stop throwing colors around and on people.


Happy Holi and a prosperous and peaceful year ahead.

TSA and current state of affairs

On my way back from Dallas at DFW as I was going through the security line, my bag was somehow flagged and a TSA official scrutinized my laptop extra carefully. I had to wait while she was doing that. She said they had to do that because I had placed my laptop in the same bin as other things. But I hadn’t and I told her that. She said that it somehow just got put in the same bin. It felt mildly weird at that time, but I thought she would just check my laptop bag and I’ll be on my way.

But as I waited, she also said that they’ll have to do a thorough pat-down on me. I was surprised but before I could say anything she walked away and called another TSA officer. He explained that he’ll be doing a complete pat-down. I just wanted to get it over with so I said ok. He said I had set off the metal detector but I’m pretty sure I hadn’t. I was much more surprised and frustrated because first of all, their stories didn’t match and it seemed they were just making up an excuse to pat me down. And secondly, if I had set the metal detector off, why would they let me go through and stand next to the place where travelers are putting their belts/shoes back on and collecting their bags? Wouldn’t they stop me right away?

It was humiliating to say the least. This is the video I found on web of similar experience some other traveler had: https://twitter.com/angela_rye/status/809602853853626369/video/1

This video is cut short though. Mine lasted atleast twice as long.

I have to say that after going through the experience, I don’t feel any more safe. If they are choosing to “screen” people thoroughly either randomly, or based on some vague racial profiling, I don’t know what other biases they have which is making them overlook something that’s actually bad. Ultimately I hope there are some security procedures that take into account those biases and correct them.

Wonder – R.J. Palacio

Avi recently read Wonder by R.J. Palacio and recommended I read it too. I read it and I liked it very much. The story, heartbreak and uplifting twists, as well as the style of writing kept me engrossed and I kept other book that I was reading on hold until I finished this one.

There were a lot of nice thoughts in the book but one quote especially stuck with me:

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind. – Dr Wayne W. Dyer”

How I Built this – Zappos

This week’s episode is on Zappos and Tony Hseih: https://www.npr.org/player/embed/510576153/510618930

The podcast touched upon the factors of Zappos’ success but  didn’t go into what exactly it was about their culture and caring for their customers that turned it into a successful company.

A couple of noteworthy quotes from this podcast:

  • Tony says: “sometimes people ask me what my definition of success is and I would say for me it’s getting to a point where you’re truly ok with losing everything you have”
  • He says one of the ways he fights his introversion is by forcing himself to do something uncomfortable every single day. And the day we spoke with him, he decided to dye his hair red and spike it up into a mohawk.