Monday, February 28, 2005

Jim Fixx...

Thanks to the comments to my previous post by an Anonymous reader, I ended up discovering some interesting facts about "James M. Fixx".

Jim Fixx was a famous author credited with starting America's Fitness revolution. His 1977 bestseller, The Complete Book of Running , still in print, sold over a million copies and helped launch the "running boom" in America. Apparently, when Fixx took up running in the late 1960's he wieghed 220 lbs and by the time he completed his book he had given up smoking and was down to a 159 lbs!

But the sad and rather ironic way in which he died is probably the one that will be remembered the most. Jim died at age 52 while (of all the things) running! His autopsy revealed that one of his arteries was 99% clogged, another 80% obstructed and a third 70% blocked, resulting in a massive heart attack. His legacy still lives on... according to a survey by the USATF in 1984, the year of Fixx's death 170,000 runners finished American marathons, that figure jumped upto 400,000 in 2003.

So what does this mean to all the runners and fitness freaks out there? Does it mean that we are the same (if not better off!) being a regular couch potato? NO... research suggest that the number of people who die from heart attacks while exercising is aprox 1 in 50,000. Physicians admit that although runners are at risk during the hour or so a day that they train, particularly Marathon runners, but the reminder of the days they are at much less risk than the general population and can actually extend and improve their lifestyle. A classic study in harvard concluded that we can extend our lifespan by 2 years even with minimal exercise. Other researchers believe we may actually be able to extend our life 6-9 years through exercise and attention to diet....

Well... I am off to the gym :-) hope this motivates you enough to move your b*** too.. and thanks again to the Anonymous reader (see... thats why my blog's mission statement says "puhhhleeez do post comments"... thats my blog's dal roti ;-) )

Saturday, February 26, 2005

"Not Excercising is like smoking a pack of cigarettes a week"

Just read that off of a banner in my Gym today... hmm... something to ponder about... so.... ponder away :-)

Friday, February 25, 2005

Competition brings out the best in Business and services..

If you have been following my blog you probably know that I was "hoping" to get up to Mammoth Lakes this weekend. Turns out I won't be making that trip afterall because commitments at work prevent me from taking Monday off. But I did go upto the point of doing some initial ground work and planning.
One of the essential things about driving up to a ski resort ofcourse, is having a reliable vehicle and snow chains. Since we were a bunch of folks making the trip, we decided to rent a car for the weekend. A few calls to car rental agencies revealed that none of them actually provide renters with snow chains. I found this really surprising for a country where businesses thrive on cut-throat competition and that's what ultimately goes on to create the best of services for consumers. We see this "one-upmanship" attitude in almost all sorts of businesses. Like, I just saw this "Applebee's" ad on TV, that boasts of a "CARSIDE-TO-GO" (way to take the drive through concept to the next level I say) and then there are the Bank of America "Drive-through ATM's" and even the rental car agencies have the "pick-you-up-from-your-home" concept
So, the question is, why would the car rental guys let this one slip away? Is it because, its hard to find snow chains that fit multiple tyre sizes? Is it because they end up changing their fleet too often? or simply because people dont really ask them for snow chains as much? I wonder why?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Is Windows that good??!!

A friend sent me this interesting email today and asked me what I thought of it and if it was true:

Interesting piece of info.
Windows crashes automatically if you don't switch off the machine for
49.7 days.This is accepted by Microsoft.
Do you know why?
In windows the Virtual Machine Manager(VMM) is responsible for
creation, exe cution, monitoring and termination of virtual machines.
VMM is a
32 bit protected mode operating system, provides a number of system
service at chip level of programming.
One of these services is "Get_System_Time". This particular service
loads the EAX register with the time in milliseconds since Windows
started.This service is accurate to 1ms.
EAX is a 32 bit register. So the maximum number of milliseconds it can
hold is:
(2^32) - 1 = 4294967295 milliseconds
= 4294967.295 seconds
= 71582.79 minutes
= 1193 hours
= 49.7 days
So after 49.7 days the EAX resets to zero.Most of the Drivers use this
Time Service to keep track of the time out of various services they
provide. So after 49.7 days the drives cannot use the Get_System_Time
funtion of VMM and they crash.

Well... the only thing I had to say.... "I'll be really amazed if you can have windows running that long" :P

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mammoth Lakes...

... Hoping to drive up there this weekend and get some quality skiing and snowboarding done. The last time (and the first time) I went skiing was nearly 2 years ago in the Portland/ Seattle area.... should be fun!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

"Bless you" for sneezing?? Not sure if you need that anymore!

Southern California has some of best weather in the United States. Its never too hot or too cold, just right. It doesnt rain a lot here either, but when it does, it rains cats and dogs. At the begining of this year we had rains non-stop for almost 3 weeks. I was lucky to have escaped that because I happened to be on vacation in warm (rather hot) India! Well... the rains seem to have come back again, its been pouring, almost non-stop, for the last 3 days. With rains, come colds and sneezing, which brings me to my topic. Why is it (or has it become) customary for people to say "bless you" when someone nearby sneezes?
Some research into this revealed various theories, ranging from the rather ridiculous "Your soul leaves your body when you sneeze" (and has nowhere else to go, so returns? ;-) ) to the seemingly scientific "your heart stops when you sneeze". But the one that I felt was the most convincing states that it all may have started as early as 150 AD. And predictably, back then it wasnt just out of etiquette of thoughts, but rather due to a serious illness that many Romans died from. One of the symptoms of this illness, as you may have guessed, was sneezing. Over the years, saying "bless you" became a way of wishing a person well or good health. And now it seems to have totally become common courtesy (like saying "thank you" or "you're welcome").

Well... isnt' it a lil' ironic that the more a person has been blessed... the more he has sneezed in life!!

Back in Business..

Getting back to work after a Looooooong weekend... always an uphill battle!! :-)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Presidents Day...

I always thought that this day was marked as a celebration of George Washington's Birthday. Turns out, the 3rd Monday of February has been marked as a celebration of both George Washington and Abraham Lincon's Birthday's.

Washington, of course, was the first president of the United States and is also known as the "father of the country". A very apt title for someone who fought valantly in the American Revolution and played a major role in the Declaration of Independence signed on July 4th, 1776. What's interesting is that, the signers of the original declaration of independence were from only thirteen states - Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, Georgia, Virginia, N and S Carolina, new Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland

Lincoln was the sixteenth president and is also known as "The great emancipator", probably because the civil war broke out just 6 weeks into his first president term and he was assasinated just six days after the war ended.

Presidents day, like other festivals and important days seem to have become more of a commercial thing nowadays, as the following news articles seem to suggest.

Lincoln’s legacy turned into way to make a buck
"... The front door opens, and Abraham Lincoln appears -- tall, lanky, just a bit melancholy. He smiles gently, assesses his visitor for a good five seconds. Then he draws in a breath and slowly, deliberately, he speaks.

"Did you park at the Holiday Inn?" the 16th president asks....."

Lincoln belongs to the ages, and to the marketers
"... Today, Abraham Lincoln is an empty vessel for dreamers and schemers, for humorists and educators and trinket salesmen and appliance dealers looking to add a bit of cachet to Presidents Day sales. "Time to take Lincoln and Washington shopping," an ad for Macy's encouraged last week...."

Maybe I didn't make things quite clear....

Having got some reviews from my friends, I realized that I wasnt quite clear in describing my reasons for starting a blog and what it was going to be about. So here goes:
Through this blog I hope to present (at as regular intervals as I can) my understanding of things we all see, use and do on a regular basis, but rarely care to think about the reasons and purpose behind them.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and I look forward to your comments and criticism (can be left by clicking the link at the bottom right corner of the posts)!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Yep... I finally did it...

Its sunday night and the middle of a (President's Day) long weekend. I am usually out on a roadtrip or some kinda outdoor activity on such a weekend, but it began pouring almost before folks at work could say "TGIF" on friday (duh!) and I decided to take it easy.

So, what prompted me to start this? Well.... lotsa thoughts, but to keep things terse (which I am notorious for failing to do) I mention the two main ones. At some point in life I figured that rattling out my daily schedule of events and experiences to a good and patient listener is vital to me. I was lucky enough to have someone or the other as my "patient listener" until one day I stumbled upon the concept of a "blog". I was both, pleasently surprised that I wasnt the only one who absolutely needed to do the daily "core dump" of thoughts and also a little disappointed that I wasnt the only one with this (so called) gift for being outright about things in life.
So, the thought of having my own blog (and relieving someone of the daily dose) occured to me about 3 years ago. I dont know if it was just the fact that I was preoccupied with too many things in life (Engineering School, Grad School, career planning, job hunting... you name it) or the fact that it usually takes me a while to really appreciate an idea fully, but yeah, I am pretty sure this has been in my head for atleast a good 3 years now.
Okay, so I had all the ingredients, but then there has to be that spark that motivates you to actually make a move, doesn't there? Well... so... what was my spark? Interestingly enough it was the long weekend itself. I was sitting on my couch watching TV when it suddenly hit me that it's almost Monday morning. Shortly, I was relieved when I remembered it was a long weekend after all, but then I began to wonder why I have a holoday in the first place? So, I fired up my laptop and began to look for stuff about the Presidents Day and its significance. And thanks to the modern marvel called "Google" it wasnt long before my curousity was satisfied. I retreated back into my comfy position to continue staring at the idiot box when a random thought hit me. How many times in life have I actually cared to find out the actual reason behind the things I see and do? Hmm.... its hard to put an exact number on that, but I am pretty sure its countable.
And there it was, I had found a theme for my blog!!