Sunday, May 14, 2006

Finally ...

the boat was launched today! The weather gods smiled upon Seattle and all the stars aligned today, and we launched the boat in the Beaver lake behind our house.

We loaded the boat atop (the roof rack on) the car. Tied it up securely and drove to the lake. The boat weighs in at around 70-80 lbs, so it is a pretty light boat. But, due to its size and shape, it is a little bit unwieldy while un/loading on a car. While unloading, it slipped our hands and we dropped the stern from about 3 Ft. Visual inspection revealed no damages. Fiberglass seemed to do its job well. No cracks and such. Stress test (unintended) successful. Launched it into the lake, and I took it for a short spin. Things seemed to hold well. So, both my wife and daughter boarded. Spent a couple of hours on the lake and the trip back home was a breeze. We have now mastered the art of loading the boat onto the car. We will know, during our next trip.

As you may notice in the picture, the oarlocks are still not on the boat. The reason is that there is no set formula for calculating its location. We have to figure it out by trial and error. There are thumbrules to get you started. So, I used c-clamps to place the oarlocks in different positions to figure out which works best. Finally found a sweet spot and marked it. I will now attach the oarlocks and we should be set.

With the launch behind us, we need to get the boat registered, and we are good to go.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Dr. Rajkumar lives!

Nata-saarvabhouma (the Emperor of Acting) Dr. Rajkumar, the distinguished Kannada actor passed away on 12 Apr 2006. He was the most popular actor in Kannada cinema. He acted in more than 200 films, was a well known singer, received numerous awards including the Padma Bhushan award as well as the Dadasaheb Phalke award. His death sparked riots in Karnataka's capital, Bangalore. People were sad that he passed away.

The day we heard the news, my wife said that she felt sad. I am trying to understand why she felt sad. Was it because we lost a Kannada icon? Was it because Dr. Rajkumar is no longer with us?

I, for one, was not sad (I was not happy either). Let me explain before you start flaming me:

I did not know Dr. Rajkumar personally. For me, Dr. Rajkumar is represented by his legacy. So, as far as I am concerned, Dr. Rajkumar still lives. I agree that if I were meeting him everyday and eating breakfast with him, I would miss him terribly today since he cannot be with me. But, that is not the case. I was not personally connected with the private individual Dr. Rajkumar. I was personally connected with the legend Dr. Rajkumar through his work and passion. Since his legacy is still with us, Dr. Rajkumar is still with me.

Everyday, statistically, 1.78 people die every second. What really makes me sad is that so many people are dying every day and only a small fraction of those are leaving behind a legacy. We should be sad for those who could not make a difference, who could not leave a legacy for the next generations. From what I understand, Dr. Rajkumar lived a happy and fulfilling life. He loved what he did, and did what he loved. He left us a great legacy in many dimensions. He fulfilled his purpose during his lifetime. We should be happy to have been born in the age of Dr. Rajkumar. We should cherish what he left us, and make sure that our younger generations get a glimpse of his greatness.

Let's sing "Aagadu yendu, kai katti kulitare aagadu kelasavu yendu" from one of Dr. Rajkumar's hit "Bangarada Manushya" and step out of our comfort zones and make a difference.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Happy cows and sad cows ...

We have been giving our daughter organic milk for most of her life. Recently, we switched to a local dairy which offers home delivery. I noticed that the cartons contain a statement that it does not contain the artificial growth harmone rBST. It doesn't specifically say that it is "Organic". The organic dairy products sold in stores do contain the USDA stamp of approval that it is organic.

Hmm, does this mean that the milk we are drinking now contains rBGH or some other kind of harmone? What does the label 'organic' really mean? Do I care? Should I care? This sparked my interest and I started researching into this subject.

When I was a kid growing up in India, milk was delivered to every home by a village woman who used to milk her cows that morning. These cows were the ones which used to graze in our lawns. Their main job was to laze around grazing on lawns and gardens, and give milk, and occasionally deliver calves. In general, these were happy cows. Nobody used to harass them since cows are sacred, and they were free to roam the streets.

The only way to increase production (and make more money) was to water down the milk before delivering. Once this was discovered, the angry consumers demanded that the cows be milked in front of the individual customer's house. This made sure that there was no foul play and everyone was happy.

Those cows were fed natural greens and were healthy cows. They were never given any harmones, or subject to cruelty. Known as Kamadhenu, cows are worshipped by Hindus. So, this is what I think of, when I hear the word "organic".

Organic food products are those that are not subject to synthetic chemical inputs. In case of dairy products, it means that the cows are not given any synthetic chemicals, and the cows are not fed anything that is subject to synthetic chemicals. That is one mouthful. Using this definition, and my example above, organic could mean small farms, cows roaming never-ending green pastures, and cowherds singing and dancing around trees. Oops, that is in Bollywood movies.

But the reality is the cows end up spending most of their life in production lines, grazing out of troughs, and getting shots of all kinds of chemicals. Even in cases where they don't get exposed to synthetic chemicals, most live in inhumane conditions. I wonder how many products coming out of these factories are certified organic/natural. Reading about all these makes me want to go vegan.

Cows should have access to open air and natural pastures that are not subject to harmful pesticides. They should not be given any artificial harmones to increase their milk production. These cows are happy cows, and produce healthy milk, which in turn is good for human consumption.