Aug 22, 2019

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

I have been reading "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain" every summer since 2015. Listened to this book on this time and like every-time I loved this book. I remember the fine day in March 2015 at the public library in Charlotte when I first found this book, read a few pages and was hooked. I had started losing weight by end of March 2015 and was lucky to find this gem. I used to get up early morning to go to the gym and worked very hard. I must be in the high intensity (maximum heart rate - 25) zone for at least 15 minutes every day at that time. And instead of tiring me out these workouts gave me lots of energy. Spark explained why exercise is important not only for physical fitness but also helps to keep brain younger. 

What I loved about the book is - 

1)The idea that one man's easy workout may be other man's ideal HITT workout. That is the reason workout needs to be tailored for each individual. Heart rate monitors help to measure and track intensity of the workouts. 
2)Why and how people who need the exercise the most are least motivated to do it. Example - if the Physical Education (PE) class in school is only sports based, heavy and weak kids can never compete and are left behind in PE. Because of this they don't get any exercise. These kids need exercise the most and would benefit from a regimen which encourages them to work hard and be graded accordingly. If a weak student works hard but produces outcome which seems less effective than a stronger kid, the weaker student should get at par grades at least. This is the same reason I appreciate obese people working out at the gym. It's very hard to get out of comfort zone and start a exercise program. 
3)How exercise prepares kids body for education. Exercise forms the brain circutary needed for learning and once the brains are ready we can solve the hard problems we face. 

4)We all know that the problems which can't be sorted out after a long walk are real thorny problems. Also remember the countless time when something seems so hard and undo-able but worked out after a quick run or bike ride. 

I had gifted this book to a friend on his birthday and he loved it. With the audio book now there is no excuse to not read the book. Highly recommended. Thanks Dr. John Ratey for doing the literature survey and sharing the amazing research with us. 

Aug 6, 2019

Compost City : Practical composting know-how for small space living

Compost City : Practical composting know-how for small space living 
Rebecca Louie 
Roost Books 

It has been 13 years that I graduated college and started work. All these years I have always tried to do my best to make things better than what they are. The amazing book - "The Man Who Planfed Trees" has been my guide. I turn to the book when things are hard and I have to think hard. That and long walks are two things that have never failed me.

My wife, office colleague and friends kid went for tree plantation activity in Huntersville, NC in fall of 2014. It was a balmy early winter morning and we worked planting trees for about three hours. Coffee and hot chocolate was served and we were happy. The organizers blessed us with parting gift of Dogwood sapling. We didn't know what to do with the sapling and requested my friend if he would like to plant it. My friend graciously accepted the offer and planted the sapling. He and his wife took great care of the sapling, it grew and it grew tall. If grew so tall that my friends neighbors trees won't grow because of it and the Dogwood got a trim. This summer I got to see the tree standing mighty. Today morning my Dad showed us flowers from our Champa tree in Goa. I got the sapling from Mr. Farmer in 2006 and my Mom and Dad took care of the tree. The point I am trying to make is that imagining, planning and taking action is so important. And there is nothing like taking care of mother earth by planting trees, reduce - reuse - recycle, and composting that can help us think, plan and do.

I picked up the book - "Compost City" this week from the local library. Because I was so busy proving that someone is wrong on the Internet and because social media is designed to be addictive I did not find time to read the book. When I remembered how much I used to read not too long back, I had to take this challenge to read this book un-distracted. So the smart phone went on airplane mode and I began reading the book. Like all addictions social media addition had withdrawal symptoms and it's hard to focus for the first 15 minutes. But because the subject was easy to understand, I was on the bus and wanted to compost for quite sometime, I managed to read the book. Of course I didn't read the book cover to cover, because I wanted to know the basics of composting for a small family to start with. But it felt good to understand the subject and got to know where to look of I want to dig deeper.

I will of course ask more questions and be critical of the process but will start composting soon. It would look stupid not to do it. Will log my progress on my blog too.

Jul 12, 2019

चातुर्मास - 2019

चातुर्मास - Sankalp - Study for one hour every day - next four months.

Define study - "something I have in mind to read/think/write/To-Do".

May 24, 2019

Pooja procedure

My mother has compiled procedure for Pooja. She was afraid that I will lose her notes. That's why took photos and archiving it here on this blog. Thanks Aai.

May 22, 2019

The Flying Tigers

The Flying Tigers : The World War II exploits of American's heroic fighter pilots in China 

There are two reasons I picked up the book from local library. Firstly we went to the National Museum of the US Air Force in January, and were amazed to see different types of aircraft on display. Secondly the Pulwama attack and India's response in Balakot had made me curious about fighter planes and pilots. And the book taught me some lessons about fighter planes and pilots. John Toland has done a fine job explaining adventures of the American Volunteer Group (AVG) in India China during the World War II. 

Flying Tigers is the story of a magnificent leader Claire Lee Chennault and his group of volunteers who had been recruited from the Army, Navy and Marines. Chenault taught the group unconventional air-combat techniques which no one believed would work but enabled most impressive records in the World War II. In three years the group lost 468 planes while destroying almost 3000 Japanese planes. They sunk and damaged 2,230,000 tons of enemy merchant shipping. This feat was achieved under the leadership of Chennault, who was termed "prima donna" by his superiors. Another example of a rebel leader. 

Chennault and the AVG proved their mettle so much that President Roosevelt recommended him to write to him personally. He had proved so important for securing China in the war. Chennault built good rapport with General Chiang Kai-shek of China and Madame Chiang Kai-shek too. In many incidents he showed great character in taking care of his team while demanding unimaginable feat of bravado. He was instrumental in creating new teams and training new team members as well. I am sure his leadership talent must have been put to test in organizing the unit, keeping them motivated, getting the scarce supplies and fighting the mighty Japanese air force. I was pleased to learn about Chennault's pet dachshund Joe and how he used to take Joe everywhere he went. I saw his benevolent side here. 

The book made me more curious about military air-crafts and strategy. I have a list of documentaries and books to understand the topic more. I am glad that I spent around 4-5 hours on this book. It makes me appreciate the struggles of our troops.