Friday, March 30, 2007

Where the menu is an appetizer

I had to share this with you guys! I am a big foodie, I might not cook a lot, but I do enjoy trying out new cuisines in different restaurants. I just came across this article on and was simply blown away by the chef's unique methods of cooking - creating a whole new technology in food!

Homaro Cantu is a Chicago based chef who uses tools like the ink-jet printer and Class 4 laser (normally found in an operating room or a welding shop) to create delicacies which look too good to be eaten!

Check out this link to see the innovative techniques he uses to cook food.

One of his dream is creating edible ads, where consumers can simply rip off and eat the advertizement in a magazine and get the taste of it!

What really intrigued me about him is that he is one of those few who have actually managed to dethrone chef Masaharu Morimoto in Iron Chef America. Iron Chef America is a popular action packed one hour show in Food Network where chefs from all over US challenge one of the four Iron Chefs. Among them, I consider Masaharu Morimoto to be one of the finest and I have never seen him lose to anyone, expect to one other Iron Chef Bobby Flay in the original Japanese Iron Chef show.

Find out more about Homaro Cantu and his technology here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Of diets and witches

The whole of last week I was on the GM diet. I followed it diligently with the hope to shed few of my extra pounds. 5 days into it and to my disappointment, I had lost only about 2 pounds. Now I had done this diet before too, but only for 4 days and that too cheating once in a while and I had lost like 4 pounds then. So I was hoping for better results this time.

Come Friday evening and me and my friend SR left for Stamford to V's place. By the time we reached, all three of us were famished and we decided to meet at a very popular 60's diner style restaurant called Lucky's. V told us about this amazing hot dog you get there. My diet for the 5th day consisted for beef, so I thought, what the heck, why shouldn't I try it. Anyway, my weight didn't show much difference and my interest in the diet was diminishing. So we all dived into the hot dogs. Man! Were they good....seriously the best hot dog I've ever had! Lucky's shot up to My Favorite Restaurant list from my Place I Like to Eat list.

Saturday morning me and V drove to Boston, Massachusetts to meet V's friend who was there for a few weeks. The weather was lovely - sunny, bright and warm. In the eve we went to Boston downtown. Boston downtown is somewhat like NY's financial district, but cleaner and less crowded. Lots of big old time buildings with beautiful architecture. Just as we were thinking of taking a walk to get the feel of the city, it started to rain. Having nothing much to do, we decided to watch a movie. Zodiac was the only movie whose timing suited us and the story interested us. It turned out to be a decently entertaining movie, except that I felt it was a bit too lengthy.

On Sunday we decided to visit the town of Salem which was about 20 mins drive. As many of you might be aware, Salem, MA has always been linked with witches and witchcraft in pop culture. Even Sabrina the teenage witch's cat is named Salem. Ever since I had been to the US, Salem has been in my list of places to visit, so I was quite excited by the prospect of going there.

The reason Salem is synonymous with witchcraft is due to the infamous 1692 Salem Witch Trials where 19 innocent people were accused of being witches and were hanged to death. We went there hoping it to be some kind of a ghost town with freaky stuff. Sadly, it turned out to be an over hyped place. The town itself is beautiful with lovely architecture. Many of the touristy places were closed for the season. However, the Salem Witch Museum was open and we reached there just in time for their rendition of the trails. We bought the tickets and were ushered inside the theatre. The show started eerily enough but we soon realized it was just a bunch of stationary mannequins placed in different sets depicting the 1692 events that lead to the killings with a booming recorded voice over. Once the show was over, expecting more museum stuff, we moved around, but were sorely disappointed to see that they just had a souvenir shop which for some weird reason were selling Rajasthani glass work purses among other equally unrelated things. It was a complete money ripping set up!

After that our interest to see other 'witchy' locations went away and we decided to head back. It made me realize how they say in India, tourists get ripped off their money at the tourists places there. Now I can say we are much better than how its done here. In India people cheat to fill their stomachs, but here its the entire town cheating the tourists. What a sham!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spartans Rule!

300. What to say about this movie? I had heard a lot about it, from how good the movie's been made to all the controversy surrounding the Persians portrayal in the movie. On the making of the movie which I had seen on HBO, it seemed like a lot of CGI was in use, coz all the time the actors were in front of a blue or green screen while filming the movie. To me, it seemed to be a mix between Gladiator, Troy and Sin City. So, I went to see the movie with not much expectation.

300 has two releases, the regular release at regular theatres and "The Imax Experience" in the Imax theatres. Of course, when it comes to such a digitally acclaimed movie which had special release just for Imax, then it doesn't make sense going to regular theatre right? We went to the nearest Imax on Saturday to see the 1230am show. However, we had to opt for another movie since it was sold out. Now that really intrigued me! 1230 show in the night all sold out?? If you've ever been to theatres in US, you'll understand my surprise. It's very rare that a movie is sold out and even rarer to see a crowded theatre. So anyway, we went instead for Premonition - its better I say nothing about that movie! We also booked tickets for the next day's 730pm show for 300.

Imax theatres always amazes me - the huge screen does take your breath away. I felt excited to watch the movie even as I sat on my seat. We were an hour early for the show but still we didn't get the back seats. Yeah, it had already become that crowded!

The movie is based on a graphic novel which is based on the famous tale of the Battle of Thermopylae that has been the inspiration of many Hollywood movies. It tells the story of how a Spartan king Leonidas with the help of his strong 300 men stand against the Persian ruler Xerxes and his huge army. The movie turned out to be all what I expected and a bit more. It had all the blood, gore and brutality that I had expected. But it has been made in a way to grasp your attention from start to finish. Leonidas is bold, filled with raw power while Xerxes with all his jewelries and make-up look chillingly cold. The Spartan men look amazingly toned and muscular and their skimpy costumes don't try much to hide it. Of course, as with many other movies, this too has unnecessary nudity to some extent.

The look of the movie is everything. It is a visual masterpiece, grandiose and breathtakingly beautiful. There are a numerous action sequences but each one turns out to be quite refreshing and not a boring repeat of the other - with the introduction of new monsters every time and awesomely cool flicks of the swords and spears to get done with them.

Do not watch the movie looking for story, message or performance. 300 is a visual experience with images meant to embed themselves into your memory from the start to the finish.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring is here!!

Officially, Spring starts today. Yippee!!!

However, I am still confused how they can come up with the exact date and time. I mean, c'mon, did Spring personally make an announcement of her arrival??

But, I can live with that as long as someone promises months of sunshiny bright days :)

Wish you all a very Happy Spring!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Haves, Have Nots and Want Tos

Tagged by Juneli! Those who have been tagged for this and have been putting it off due to the sheer volume of it, lemme give you some tip to work it faster:

Open a Google spreadsheet (ok an MS Excel will work as well). Add 3 more sheets so you have one for the entire list, and each for the haves, have nots and want tos. Copy the list to the first sheet. Now simply work your way down the list and cut-paste each item to appropriate sheet. In the end, consolidate them all! So simple!! (additional tip -> I found it more convenient by sorting out the list alphabetically before starting out)

My Haves:
* Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
: more than just a moment.
* Adopted an accent for an entire day
: not for an entire day but maybe for a long part of it...and many times too!
* Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
: yeah! Been there too
* Broken someone’s heart
: unfortunately yes. Its such a bad feeling when something like this happens and the worst part is that you just cant help it!
* Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
: mostly V's :D
* Climbed a mountain : does hills and hillocks count?
* Dyed your hair
: not only regular colors like auburn and red, but even BRIGHT RED, color of the Ferrari team and BLUE
* Eaten shark
: yep! Have done it...I believe in Florida :) Yummm! ;)
* Eaten sushi
: one of my all time favorites!
* Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
: *cross my fingers*
* Gone back to school
: just once. I wanna go back again, but I feel shy meeting teachers. Maybe next time will be when I take V to show him my school.
* Gone sky diving : one of the most amazing experience I have ever had!
* Gone to a huge sports game
: thrice to the US Grand Prix and once to the US Open (tennis)
* Got flowers for no reason : something like that just makes my day!

* Gotten a tattoo : just temporary ones
* Had a snowball fight : hehe, its FUN!
* Had amazing friends : *touch wood*
* Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
: oh many embarrassing but funny times! But I think I have better control now...or do I ??
* Had to put someone you love into hospice care : my best friend D, I still shudder when I remember that fateful day! Thank God she came out fit and fine
* Had your picture in the newspaper
: a local paper back home in Sikkim
* Hugged a tree
: i believe when I was a kid while trying to enact the movies
* Kissed in the rain
: :)
* Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
: and the view is so wonderful!
* Lounged around in bed all day : oh I love doing that, if not all day then at least till late afternoon
* Made cookies from scratch : i enjoy trying out new recipes....sometimes
* Midnight walk on the beach
: it was not romantic though, bunch of friends had gone to Diveagar near Pune. V was also there but those days we just knew each other :) Would love to go back there with him
* Parasailed
: and paraglided! Parasailed in Florida Keys overlooking the Atlantic Ocean..the view was breath-taking! And paraglided in was fun too!
* Performed on stage
: did something when I was in the KGs and later did some group thing in college. Am not a stage person for sure!
* Piloted an airplane : a helicopter to be precise. And not exactly piloted, but I did sit in the copilot's seat and wore the helmet and the headphones etc. So I did get a copiloty feeling :)
* Played in the mud
: don't all kids do?
* Played in the rain
: again, don't all kids do? Now, don't like getting wet in the rain much, in spite of all the romanticism attached with it.
* Rafted the Snake River
: well, not in Snake River but have rafted in Ocoee River which was the host for the 1996 Olympics and we actually rafted through the Olympics trail!
* Ridden a horse
: as a kid in Darjeeling while going from Chowrasta to Dara Mandir
* Ridden a roller coaster
: my favorite in parks and fairs
* Said 'I love you' and meant it
: each and every time
* Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
: i enjoy singing in the car more than singing in the shower
* Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
: just so that I can hear the echo. Else I am not the screaming kind :)
* Seen a total eclipse
: though not directly as we were told that it will spoil our eyes
* Selected one 'important' author who you missed in school, and read : lots
* Shaved your head
: my parents had my head shaved when I was a toddler. They still have the picture and I look so funny!
* Skipped all your school reunions
: skipped once purposely and skipped the rest just coz I was never there
* Slept under the stars
: in Aurangabad, at my friend's home. It was exciting since I had always wanted to do it. Had seen it only in movies
* Spoken more than one language fluently
: every desi knows more than one language. Though I am ashamed that I don't know my own mother language Newari :(
* Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
: many times. That's the only way I can be awake during those hours!
* Sung karaoke
: at my cousin's home. Its fun! I was actually planning to buy a set for myself
* Taken a road-trip : Me and V's favorite weekend pastime :)
* Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
: more often since meeting V
* Toured ancient sites
: my love for travelling has taken me to many places. Though most ancient sites have been in India, I would love to see the ones in Europe and Africa
* Visited more foreign countries than U.S.
: well since I am an Indian, Nepal can be considered as a foreign country. And have visited Bhutan too!
* Won first prize in a costume contest : twice. My class had won during our college fest. We had all dressed up once as clowns and the next day as kids

My Have Nots:
* Asked out a stranger
: but have been asked out by a stranger :)
* Been a DJ
: not a real DJ, but have played music (read as change CDs) during parties ..same as DJ -ing, right?? :D
* Been elected to public office
: who wants to?
* Been in a movie
: i guess home videos don't count :)
* Been on television news programs as an "expert"
: i stay away from anything related to 'public speaking'
* Bought everyone in the bar a drink
: nope, never done that. Like I said, I stay away from anything that brings focus on me
* Broken a bone
: mine or someone else's? :P Well, I haven't done either
* Built your own PC from parts
: am a software engg, not a hardware :)
* Buried one of your parents
: that's a bad question! *I am so lucky*
* Caused a car accident
: thankfully no
* Changed a baby’s diaper
: Does watching from a distance count? :P
* Crashed a party
: hehe, never done that either
* Created and named your own constellation of star
: not into astronomy
* Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking : not a dancer either
* Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
: nope
* Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
: back home, we often hear stories about how entire families get wiped out due to poisonous mushrooms. So I always make it a point to buy from reliable and safe sources.
* Eaten fried green tomatoes
: but I have eaten grilled red tomatoes. Shouldn't that count?
* Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
: how about an air gun while trying to burst balloons at fairs?
* Given more than you can afford to charity
: i am not that worldly
* Gone without food for 5 days
: while in college, under the influence of a friend, I used to keep navaratri fast twice a year for 9 days. However, we were allowed to eat certain things. So i guess it doesn't count.
* Gotten divorced
: have been lucky in love :)
* Grown and eaten your own vegetables
: but have eaten the ones grown by my parents. :)
* Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
: i sometimes feel it should be fun to have my belly button pierced. :)
* Had a booth at a street fair
: not personally, but my class had booths in college fairs
* Had a snake as a pet
: one creature that I despise are snakes!
* Had major surgery
: no.. phew!
* Had plastic surgery
: i love the way I am. Wouldn't mind being slimmer though
* Had two hard drives for your computer : weird question, but no
* Held a tarantula
: eew!
* Held someone while they were having a flashback
: huh?
* Helped an animal give birth
: no!
* Hit a home run
: am not much of a sports person leave alone baseball
* In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
: i'm not that great with strangers
* Killed and prepared an animal for eating
: have killed (insects and once a lizard) and have prepared (not insects and lizards!!) but never done both to the same thing
* Lost over 100 pounds
: i've been trying so hard to lose 5 pounds and you are talking about 100!! Have mercy on me!
* Milked a cow
: am scared of animals having the potential to hurt me
* Petted a cockroach : why in the world would I do that??!!
* Petted a stingray
: why in the world would I do that either??!!
* Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
: nope! Never played that though I have played Monopoly and Scrabble for that long
* Pretended to be a superhero
: that is a guy stuff, making a cloak out of a towel and wearing their underwear on the outside. *rolling my eyes*
* Recorded music
: but been with friends who was a fun thing we did in Crossroads in Mumbai.
* Saved someone’s life
: nope, even though I have written a post that I saved someone's life today
* Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours : i guess 12-14hrs is the max for me
* Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
: don't do art
* Started a business
: not a business person
* Stolen a sign
:! Cant think why in the world would I do that!
* Taken a martial arts class
: nope
* Taken care of someone who was drunk
: thankfully haven't been in such a situation!
* Written your own computer language
: am not that geeky! But I do get amazed at the people who have. What brains they must have!!
* Wrote article for a large publication
: just for school mags
*Survived an illness that you shouldn’t have survived : *touch wood*

My Want Tos:
* Backpacked in Europe
: well, I'm not a trekker but wouldn't mind if that the way to travel in Europe
* Been inside the Great Pyramid
: wow! I would LOVE to be there!
* Been on a cruise ship
: hopefully soon :)
* Bet on a winning horse
: have never bet on a horse, but wouldn't it be awesome to win!!
* Bought a house
: money money money!!
* Bungee jumped
: am scared but excited about it at the same time. V says it's scarier than sky diving since you are dangling in mid air.
* Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
: that should be fun! I have actually communicated with people who can't speak, shouldn't that count?
* Eaten kangaroo meat
: eating kangaroo meat would mean that I'd be in Australia, so why not? And I enjoy trying out new stuff to eat as long as they are not gross
* Gone rock climbing
: to do that I need to be in a fit shape, and if I'm fit, I'm sure I'd enjoy doing it!
* Gone scuba diving : once I get over my fear of water and learn to swim!
* Gone to a drive-in theater
: there was one in Columbus, Indiana and we never got a chance to go there. Me and V have been thinking about going to one for quite some time now
* Gone to Thailand
: would love to visit the place.
* Gotten drunk on champagne
: but I have gotten drunk on beer...once!
* Gotten married
: when O when?
* Held a lamb
: hmm..never thought about it, but yes, I'd want to!
* Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
: we'll be going to Grand Canyon but not sure if we'll get to hike to the bottom though!
* Raised children
: first lemme get married!
* Read The Iliad
: should be an interesting read!
* Ridden a gondola in Venice
: awww! That's my honeymoon dream :)
* Seen the Northern Lights
: after seeing Ricky's post on it, it has been included in my 'to do' list
* Swam with wild dolphins
: have seen dolphins and their shows and even petted them! But swimming with them would be something!
* Taken a candlelit bath with someone
: hmm!
* Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
: now wouldn't that be something!
* Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
: *dreaming*
* Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
: missed our chance in Niagara due to windy conditions.
* Touched an iceberg
: gosh! would love to go somewhere with ice bergs
* Visited all 7 continents
: travel, travel, travel...thats all I wanna do!
* Visited Ireland
: and have Irish beer!
* Visited Japan
: would love to! I get captivated by their culture and technologies
* Visited Paris
: another honeymoon dream!
* Visited the Great Wall of China
: will I ever get a chance?
* Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
: Italy's in my 'to visit' list too!
* Watched a lightning storm at sea
: judging by the pictures that I have seen, it would be an amazing view
* Watched a meteor shower
: but not be showered upon ;)
* Watched wild whales
: we are actually thinking of going whale watching this spring/summer!
* Won money on a T.V. game show : would love to get some unexpected cash!

Whom do I tag?? I guess everyone's already tagged. If you aren't, consider yourself tagged and complete the task!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Now that's what I call innovation!

Startup company Emotiv Systems have developed a unique and very innovative technology that can connect human brain signals to computer hardware and software.

They have come up with something called as the Emotiv Development Kit which is basically comprised of three detection toolkits as explained below. These toolkits interact with their neuro technology based headset called Project Epoc to capture various brain signals and transfer them as electric signals that can be interpreted as different activities.

Expressiv: The first toolkit Expressiv identifies facial expressions, such as blink, smile, wink etc that will provide for more realistic virtual chatting.
Affectiv: The second toolkit Affectiv detects a user's emotional state such as frustration, anger, excitement etc which would be great for role-playing games. Another interesting use would be to unconsciously rate music in iTunes or videos in YouTube or likes.
Cognitiv: The third toolkit Cognitiv which sounds the most interesting of all, will allow users to manipulate virtual objects using mind control. It supports actions, such as lift, drop, rotate, push, pull, etc.

These kits are currently in alpha phase, so it still has a long way to go before it is ready for consumers like us. But it has certainly brought out an innovation that has a bright future.

You can get some more information here