Porcupyn's Blog

November 24, 2009

Deep down, they are tigresses!

Filed under: Tennis — Porcupyn @ 1:04 am

Long long ago, when Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger were the new kids (literally) on the block Tennis court, one of the players at the time – I believe it was either Chris Evert or Martina Navratilova – had made the comment I used as the title of this post.

Guess what? The tigresses are getting tinier and tinier, but they still are as ferocious. Last weekend, I went to the local Tennis joint to check out a local tournament (the first time that I have been to one); I believe it was at the intra-state level.

This tiny girl was pretty competitive from the very beginning (at least, from the point at which I started watching) of this later-round match, which I later learned that she lost. With every one of either her well played point or her opponents error, she would egg herself on with a “Come ON!” and it was funny to watch her question line calls – there were three different points of inflection that she used (for the same question, repeated thrice) when questioning a line call that her opponent made – “Are you sure?” Here she is (as you can see, she is probably barely taller than her racket):

Then there was Noah in the under-14s – I could not (and still cannot) believe that was U-14! They could not have been more than 12 (maybe they were not and were just playing at the higher level). But boy, were they whacking the ball around. Their normal rallies were longer than probably the longest I have ever rallied with my Tennis buddies. Here is a sample:

It was fun watching the kids so I could do a reality check as to where I would rank. I am glad to say that I believe I can still probably beat out the under-10 boys and give a tough fight to the under-12 girls in Tennis! Watching these kids was a revelation, to say the least. I mean, the under-10 girls were probably serving better than I ever did – definitely in terms of the first serve percentage and maybe just about my serving speed.

I guess it is time for me to get to the drawing board, and figure out the geometrics of my serve and see how and why it is that I have such a difficult time placing the ball in the right rectangle!

November 19, 2009

One Season Lost – A Baab Tale

Filed under: Family,Humour — Porcupyn @ 10:27 am

There is a proverb about apples not falling far from their trees. Here is some more proofΒ  (while you read it, Mrs. and Mr. Porcupyn are having a discussion as to who is the apple tree referred to above):

Grandfather was trying to fix Katya’s broken toy. After a few minutes, he gave up and declared, “Hmmm … (a) spring is missing”.Β  Immediately, Baab piped up: “Amma, that means we will be short a whole season!!”

November 18, 2009

Who’s Hu?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Porcupyn @ 10:46 am

A friend forwarded me this link.

I can think of four characters from the Mahabharata that form a nice analogy (assuming a similar situation did take place back then). It is up to you to match them up (and no, Shakuni is NOT Uncle Sam)!

1. USA                                                a. Yudhishthira
2. China                                              b. Veda Vyasa*
3. India                                              c. Shakuni
4. Pakistan                                           d. Duryodhana

* – I toyed with the idea of using Bheeshma, Drona, Dhritarashtra, Krishna, Balarama etc. before settling on Vyasa.

November 16, 2009

Switching tracks – arbitrarily or at random* …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Porcupyn @ 3:16 am

When watching videos on Youtube, it is nice when you are provided with a related list of songs to watch. Depending on the song you pick, you are provided with more choices. Each decision is linked to the previous decision.

For example, if you start off watching a song from the 1960s with, say, Sharmila Tagore, you will likely be shown more songs from the 1960s starring Sharmila Tagore to select from. There will likely be one or two outliers where either the song is from the 1970s or 1950s, or the actress is different. If, then, you pick a song with, say, Mumtaz, your subsequent choices will include more Mumtaz songs, and so on. You’ll get the feeling of being in a train, and the train has the potential to switch tracks based upon each of your selections. Talking of tracks …

Thanks to those years of listening to BBC News and Sports, and also cricket commentary over the radio, I can identify a handful of English accents, especially British English, Australian, several within the Indian subcontinent, and American. Since coming to the USA, I have added to my kitty the ability to identify a couple of European English accents (French, German), and a couple of African ones (South African and a mixed West African – i.e., I cannot tell apart the Ghanaian and Nigerian accents). All these are generic, in the sense that I cannot distinguish between the various accents within each of these nationalities.

While watching PBS a couple of weeks ago, I was totally thrown off track by the accent of a reporter for the Financial Times – just when I thought I was getting a handle on her accent, it switched, very much like a train that is not really continuously changing tracks, but is going and back and forth within the same set of two or three tracks. Noting her name, I googled her, and sure enough, she had the set/combination of complementary accents – part British, part French, part American – that, when “shaken, not stirred,” πŸ˜‰ served to addle me pretty good!! Maybe there is a specific mix of accents that she speaks, but I am not that proficient at accent identification. Now that I am referring to accents …

I just watched The Interpreter. While Nicole Kidman does a good job of masking her (natural) Australian accent, her refactored accent was no African accent. She ought to have taken lessons from Charlize Theron; better yet, maybe they should have chosen Ms. Theron for the role.

* = there is a rhyme and reason to this specific choice of words. Back in school, I remember us students using arbitrary to signify random, and we were corrected by our English teacher thus: While the word random does imply random, in the sense that there is no reason one option would be picked over the other, arbitrary, on the other other hand, though similar, is not the same because it would likely be based on the whim of someone.

In other words, though to the observer, it would still appear to be a random selection, to the doer, there would be an underlying reason (his or her own, or even truly random) for making the selection. Of course, in this post, I do explain my arbitrariness in picking a potpourri of seemingly random topics! πŸ˜‰

November 8, 2009

India vs. Australia

Filed under: Cricket — Porcupyn @ 7:03 am

A few months ago, I thought that Michael Hussey was the next edition of The Great One and Dhoni was another Brearley (except for the fact that, in addition to captaincy, he could also bat, keep wickets … and this I learned recently, take wickets!). Unfortunately, those hopes have now been officially dashed. Hussey has reverted back to normalcy and it appears that though Dhoni can still bat, keep wickets (and maybe take wickets too, if he gives himself a chance), he cannot captain or motivate the team. Sample this …

Before the latest match or two, Ponting had cried himself hoarse about the depleted resources at his disposal. [Sidenote: It is a testament to India’s progress in The Civilized World that Delhi Belly, which used to be The Reason of Choice, was the only one among all tried-and-tested ones, that was not mentioned in reference to the players missing in action.] So, naturally, guess what our desi players do? Take away Ponting’s excuses.

While Australia’s best players were only physically missing from action, India’s “best” showed up but decided not to play. Sample these scores at the top of the order: Sehwag 6; Tendulkar 10; Gambhir 0; Yuvraj 6; Raina 0. Also, to fight fire with fire, we picked equally unknown batsmen to deliver the goods: Ravindra Jadeja 57 and Praveen Kumar 54 not out. Conspicuously absent among the run-scorers: Harbhajan 5-2 Singh 0! Oh, maybe Bhajji meant the full-strength Aussie team, not this rag-tag and bobtail outfit.

As if granting the Aussies a batting handicap was not enough, Dhoni also made sure that we were generous in the bowling department as well (though the low target might be claimed as the excuse): other than Gambhir and Dhoni, everyone else got a chance to twirl his arm over.

Conclusion: Australia might have beaten India, but it was only because they – Australia, not India, which even dropped folks who are too old such as Dravid (Tendulkar? Oh, he is all set to play in the 2011 World Cup. Can anyone say otherwise after that gem of a 175?) – did not have a full-strength team.

November 4, 2009

What’s in a gender?

Filed under: Humour — Porcupyn @ 10:34 pm

Well, plenty, as a friend’s wife found out (she probably already knew it, but now she has practical experience plus proof). As a serial joiner of social networking sites, one day she found herself in hot water when she signed up on one specific site; her mailbox was suddenly bombarded with e-mails from dudes wanting to friend, or befriend (for those who are sticklers for authentic English grammar), her.

Finding herself suddenly elevated to the status of an Indian Nobel laureate – and having meagre resources to deal with the issue at hand by herself (her spouse, i.e., my friend, totally distanced himself from the issue, very unlike this dude) – she suddenly had a brainwave. Unlike our friendly Nobel laureate (who could not unNobel himself), she just changed her gender*. Voila! No more e-mails!! πŸ˜‰

Wait! There is more (history). When I heard her story, an old wound came alive. Almost two decades ago (give or take a year or two), I had struck up a good e-mail friendship with a girl who lived far, far away from where I did. Now, as all you readers are probably (hopefully) aware, I am 100% certified male. However, as a South Indian, my name can be confused as a girl’s name – especially by folks who are not South Indians (and even by some South Indians). In those days before www, there was no way of knowing the gender of a correspondent unless he/she specifically (and truthfully) volunteered that information.

As most of our correspondence was related to old film songs and FOB kinda stuff, I did not see any real reason for me to specifically proclaim that I was/am a male. Not only that, I thought that I had made specific references to my short hair, my moniker (Porcupyn) etc that I thought was sufficient for her to realize my gender.

And so it went on for some time. One day, for some reason, I said something that was specifically male. I have no idea what it was that outed me. Anyway, at that point, it became obvious to me that she had no idea until that time that I was actually a male.

Obviously, I did a ROTFL right there and e-mailed her what I was having a paroxysm. I don’t know whether it was the ROTFLing or the fact that she felt deceived – though I still don’t know why she should have felt that way – but I never heard back from her since I sent that e-mail.

Tejaswini, wherever you are, I think you owe me one big apology! πŸ™‚

* = online profile only!!

Happy Halloween

Filed under: Family — Porcupyn @ 8:12 am

To help Baab share in the tradition of Halloween from India, I rigged up this setup that included two speakers, a webcam and a Skype connection via the internet. Got Mrs. Porcupyn to wake up Baab at the unearthly hour of 5:15 am (thankfully, it was a Sunday) to greet trick or treaters in his USA neighbourhood. Baab was only too glad to have some fun at the expense of some dressed up kids.

Though the ‘halo’ was missing from Happy Halloween, Baab was very audible, and louder than this dry run indicated.

The funniest part was when this eight or nine year-old pirate showed up, wearing a mask and carrying a bloodied sword. First, he was taken aback at being greeted. Then, after getting his candy, he regained his composure and peered through the wire mesh of the window screen. In spite of seeing no one there (what could he have seen? there really was nobody there), he brandished his sword at the webcam (at the center of the photo on the left below) and screamed “I can see you!”

Baab was ROTFLing, and so was I. At around this time, the pirate realized that he was all by himself and his fellow pirates, ghouls and goblins had left in search of fresh blood (or candy). So he hotfooted it out of there, still saying “He is there … I can see him!”

Photo of Webcam and speakers

Photo inside room (taken with the flash)

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