My new year’s resolutions—2019 edition

Here are my resolutions for the new year:


1. Get a suitable job in Data Science in Pune.

Revise the resume and upload / send out by January-end.


2. Wrap up my research on the non-relativistic QM:

Get a Beamer presentation (containing all the main points of the paper) out by Date-1.

Get the first version of the QM paper out, by Date-2

Submit the paper to a suitable journal which accepts papers on the foundations, by Date-3.

The optimistic-realistic-pessimistic estimates for the dates are:
Date-1: 28 Feb — 31 March — 31 May
Date-2: 31 March — 31 May — 31 July
Date-3: 30 April — 30 June — 31 August

The reason for the somewhat larger variance is that I will also be working in Data Science, and probably also just beginning doing a job in it. Much depends on how circumstances work out in this regard.

It’s very likely that QM will cease to be of much interest to me after that, though, of course, I will keep myself available for discussions concerning this paper. Another exception is noted near the end.


3. Self-metered ‘net access:

No more than just one hour of general surfing per day, preferably 45 minutes. The time spent on blogging, browsing news sites, reading personal blogs, emails, etc. is included.

Time taken by the OS and software updates, and by large downloads like software libraries, large data-sets, etc. is not included. Any time possibly spent on programming in the cloud, on browsing tutorials, help on python libraries etc., also is not included.


4. Daily exercises and meditation:

To quantify: “Daily” here means on at least 300 days a year.

Do some mild exercises at home, daily. (Really mild form of “exercise”s. In the main, just a few stretching exercises, and a few “surya-namaskaar”s. No need to exceed 12–15 “namaskaar”s a day eventually; begin with just 3 to 5.)

Offer a small prayer at home. Just about 10–15 minutes, but try to do it daily. (No particular time-slot in the day.)

Meditate more regularly, say for 15–30 minutes, at least 4 times a week. At least 10 minutes on the remaining days, just to keep a continuity.

Try: Taking a morning walk to a nearby garden at least 3 times a week, preferably daily (rainy days excluded). (Currently doable, but it depends on where I get my next job. If I have to spend some 3–4 hours a day in just commuting (the way I did during 2015–16), then no guilt for dropping this resolution.)

Come to think of it, I have done this all for extended periods (of several years). It was just that since moving to Mumbai (in 2013) onwards, there occurred a break. I am just going to pick up once again these good habits. All in all, should be easy to keep this resolution. Let’s see how it turns out.


5. Eat more salads:

Once in a job, try to have mostly just salads for the lunch (thus ensuring 5 meals a week predominantly of salads). Even otherwise, try to have salads for lunches, for about 15 days out of a month.

I have tried eating salads, and have found that, once again, this resolution too should be pretty easy to follow. Indeed, this is going to be the easiest one for me to keep. The reason is: really good salad services are available in Pune these days—not just veg. salads but also the greens + nonveg type of salads.


6. Begin cultivating a pet-project in Data Science:

Settle on an area and begin working on it this year.

The topic is likely to be: Rain-fall predictions.

A good, more modest initial goal might be to build a model for predicting just the temperatures in between October through May. That’s because predictions for temperatures in this period, I guess, would mostly involve only temperature and wind-speed data, which should be more easily available. (Data and predictions for pressure, humidity, and rainfalls might turn out to be a more difficult story.)


Things noticeably absent from my resolutions:

1. Restrictions on food & drinks. The idea is that the above resolutions themselves should lead to a better lifestyle so that restrictions as such aren’t necessary. And, in case the above resolutions also get broken, then trying to observe restrictions on just food and drinks is going to be pretty artificial, even just a “duty”! To be avoided.

2. Some other “Good habit”s like maintaining records of expenses on a daily basis, writing diary, etc. I just cannot maintain such things on a regular basis, so no point in making any resolutions about them.


Other things on the todo lists (though not resolutions):

1. After getting a job in Data Science, also try to explore a job as an Adjunct/Affiliate Professor in Pune. No more than 6 hours of commitment per week, including any time spent guiding student projects. For about 2 hours / week, even pro-bono positions can be considered, if the college is convenient for commute. Only for the computational topics of: Data Science / FEM / CFD / computational QM.

2. If possible, begin exploring relativistic QM. No time-frame being specified for its studies. It will be just an exploration. The only reason to include it here is that I believe my new approach is likely to simplify understanding the relativistic QM as well; so would just like to explore the simplest theoretical topics (at UG level) concerning the relativistic QM as well. (So far, I have summarily ignored it, but from now on, especially in the second half of the year, and especially my paper on non-relativistic QM is out, I would like to pursue it, just a bit.)

3. Participate in a Kaggle competition, especially in the second half of this year—purely for fun. If possible, do it right in the first half (though because of QM and all, it might not be possible, though if I get someone else suitable to form a team, this option would be still open).


Changes at this blog:

1. For the songs section, now on, I may from now on repeat some of the songs I have already run here.

It sometimes so happens that a song comes to me very naturally, I like it too, but it’s just that because I noted it on the blog some time ago, I cannot mention it again. In the new year, I am going to break this (self-made) rule.

2. I will also try to reduce the length of blog posts, preferably to within 1000 words/entry


A song I like:

(Western, instrumental): The title song of the movie “Chariots of Fire.”
Music: Vangelis. [Inspired from the song “City of Violets” by Stavros Logarides? See the note below.]

Note: I guess I had missed this movie (though I had watched its trailers in the movie halls many times back then in the early 1980s). Thus, the version of this song which I first listened to probably was not the original one [^], but some later rendition by someone / some orchestra, very possibly, that by Paul Mauriat. My primary memory of this song refers to this later version. Yesterday, when I checked out Paul Mauriat’s version [^], I felt that this wasn’t it. Some time in between, there also appeared a rendition by Yanni [^], and I liked it too. (I am sure that I had listened to this song before Yanni’s version came on this scene). Finally, just yesterday, I also caught, for the very first time, the London Olympics 2012 version (i.e., “Isles of Wonder” by the London Symphony Orchestra); once again, I found that it was a great rendition [^]. … It’s wonderful to see different emphases being made to the same “tune.”

Today, if I have to make a choice, I would pick up Paul Mauriat’s version [^] as the one I like best.

Incidentally, yesterday, while browsing the Wikipedia for this movie and the song, I also got to know for the first time about the plagiarism controversy involving this song [^], and so, I checked out Stavros Logarides’ song: “City of Violets” [^], especially this version [^]. The similarity is plain unmistakable. Even if Vangelis is a reputed composer, and has won not just the academy award but also the court-case (about the alleged plagiarism), if you ask me, the similarity is sufficient that I have no choice but to note Logarides’ name as well. After all, his song historically came first—whether Vangelis was inspired from it or not!


My approach, my credit:

The song controversy again highlights the reason why care must be taken by any original author, for protecting his IPR. … Another reason why I have been insisting on holding those informal seminars in the physics departments in this country, and why I got upset when all these physicists declined me.

The latest email I wrote (a couple of days ago) has been to Prof. Sunil Mukhi, HoD Physics, IISER Pune [^]; he also maintains this blog [^]. I wrote that email with a cc to Prof. Nilima Gupte [^] of IIT Madras, my alma mater. (Gupte and Mukhi were students at SUNY Stony Brook at the same time, I had gathered years ago, while reading the blog maintained by Gupte’s late husband.) As of this writing, I still await Mukhi’s reply.

The reason now to rush up at least a set of presentation slides (on my new approach to QM) has also to do with the fact that my computer was broken into, over the past few months. Best to hurry up the publication. Thus the resolution # 2 above.


Anyway, enough is enough. Any further editing will be very minor one, and even if I effect it, there won’t be any additions to my NYRs, for sure! For the same reason, I won’t even separately note such minor updates.

Bye for now, take care, and wish you all a happy (and a prosperous) new year!

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Why are NYRs so hard to keep?

Why do people at all make all those New Year Resolutions (NYRs)? Any idea? And once having made them, why do they end breaking them all so soon? Why do the NYRs turn out to be so hard to keep?

You have tried making some resolutions at least a few times in the past, haven’t you? So just think a bit about it before continuing reading further—think why they were so hard to keep. … Was it all an issue of a lack of sufficient will power? Or was something else at work here? Think about it…

My answer appears immediately below, so if you want to think a little about it, then really, stop reading right here, and come back and continue once you are ready to go further.


My answer:

People make resolutions because they want to get better, and also decide on doing something about it, like, setting a concrete goal-posts about it.

Further, I think that people fail to keep the resolutions because they make them only at the 11th hour.


A frequently offered counter-argument:

Now, you might object to the first part of my answer. “Who takes all that self-improvement nonsense so seriously anyway?” you might argue. “People make resolutions simply because it’s a very common thing to do on the New Year’s Eve. Everyone else is happy making them, and so, you are led into believing that may be, you too should have a shot at it. But really speaking, the whole thing is just a joke.”

Good attempt at finding the reasons! But not exactly a very acute analysis. Let me show you how, by tackling just this one aspect: making resolutions just because the other people are doing the same…


Following other people—what does that exactly mean?:

If someone goes on to repeat a certain thing just as everyone else is doing it, then, does this fact by itself make him a part of the herd? a fool? Really? Think about it.

Suppose you have been watching an absolutely thrilling sports match, say a one-day international cricket match. Suppose you have specially arranged for a day’s leave from your work, and you have gone with your friends to the stadium. Suppose that the team you have been rooting for wins the finals. Everyone in your group suddenly begins dancing, yells, blows horns, beats drums, and all that. Your group generally begins to have a wild celebration together. Seeing them do that, almost like within a fraction of a second, you join them, too.

Does your action mean you have been a mindless sheep following the others in your group? Does it mean that you derived no personal pleasure from the win of your team? That you yourself had no desire to express your joy, your exhilaration? Is your excitement predominantly dependent, on such an occasion, on what other people are doing? Or is it the case that the excitement and the joy is all authentically your own, but it’s just that its outer expression differs. For instance, you wouldn’t be able to go *so* wild if your boss were to be sitting in the next row, rooting for the other team! May be it’s just your outer expression which is shaped by looking at how other people celebrate at the occasion. The most you actually gather by observing others is how to express your joy—not that you have joy. (Observe how the Mexican wave works.) It’s not an instance of the herd behaviour at all!

Something similar for the NYRs too. People make resolutions because there is some underlying cause, a personal reason, as to why they want to do that. And the reason is what I already said above. Namely, that they want to get better.

Of course, it’s not that you didn’t have any point in your argument above. The influence of the other people sure is always there. But it’s a minor, incidental, thing, occurring purely at the surface.


How people actually make their resolutions:

Coming back to the NYRs, it’s a fact that around the time of the year-end, there are a great number of other people who are so busy with certain things at this time of the year: compiling all those top 10 lists (for the bygone year), buying or gifting diaries or calendars (for the new year), and, of course, making resolutions for the new year. Often, they “seriously” let you in on what resolutions they have decided, too.

If so many people were not to get so enthusiastic about making these NYRs, it’s possible, nay, even probable, that you yourself wouldn’t have thought of doing the same thing on this occasion. Possible. So, in that sense, yes, you are getting influenced by what other people do.

Yet, when it is time to take the actual action, people invariably try to figure out what is personally important to them. Not to someone else. In making resolutions, people actually don’t think too much about society, come to think of it.

No one resolves something like, for instance, that he will take a 10,000 km one-way trip in the new year, and go help some completely random couple settle some issue between them like, you know, why he spends so much money on the gadgets, or why she spends so much time on getting ready—or how they should settle their divorce agreement. People typically aren’t very enthusiastic about keeping such aims by way of New Year’s Resolutions, especially if they involve complete strangers. Even if it is true that a lot of people do resolve to undertake some humanitarian service, it’s more out of feeling of having to combine something that is good, and something that is social—or altruistic. The first element (the desire something good, to bring about some “real change”) is the more dominant motivation there, most often. And even if it is true that there are just six degrees of separation between most of the humanity, the fact of the matter still remains that while settling down on their resolution, most people usually don’t traverse even just one degree, let alone all the rest 5 (i.e. the entire society).

On the other hand, quitting drinking—or at least resolving to limit themselves to “just a couple of pegs, that’s all” is different. This one particular resolution appears very regularly near the top of people’s lists. There often seems to be this underlying sense that there is an area where they need to improve themselves. An awareness of that vague sense is then followed by a resolution, a “commitment, come what may,” sort of. To give it a good try all over once again, so to speak.


The paradox, and a bit about my recent take about it:

And yet, despite this matter being of such a personal importance, people still often fail in keeping their resolutions. Think of the usual resolutions like “regular exercise,” or “not having any more than a 90 [ml of a hard-drink] on an evening,” or “maintaining all expenses on a daily basis, and balancing bank-books regularly…” These are some of the items that regularly appear on people’s list. That’s the good part. The bad part is, the same items happen to appear on the lists of the same people year after another year.

Now, coming to the reasons for such a mass-ive (I mean wide-spread) failure, I have already given you a hint above. People typically fail, I said, because they make those resolutions at the 11th hour. They make them on the spur of the moment, often thinking them up right on the night of the 31st itself.

OK, let me note an aside here. The issue, I think is not, really speaking, one of just time. Hey, what are those new year’s diaries and planners for, except for using them at the beginning of the year? And people do use such aids for some time period at the beginning. … So, yes, time-tables and all are  involved, and people still fail to keep up.

So, the issue must be deeper than that, I thought. In any case, I have come to form one hypothesis about it.

Come to think of it, some time ago, I had jotted down my thoughts on this matter in a somewhat lighter vein. I had said: if you want to keep your resolutions, make only those which you can actually keep!

Coming back to the hypothesis which I now have, well, it is somewhat on similar lines, but in a bit more detailed, more “advanced” sort of a way. I am going to test it on myself first at the turn of this year, and I am going to see how good or poor it turns out to be (for whatever worth this idea is as a hypothesis anyway).

As a part of my testing “strategy” I will also be announcing my NYRs on the 31st (or at the most the 1st) here. Stay tuned.


Oh yes, by way of a minor update, even if I was down for a few days with minor fever and nausea, I have by now well recovered, and already am back pursuing data science. … More, later.

… Oh yes, the crackers remind me. … Happy Christmas, once again…

Will be back on the 31st or 1st. Until then, take care, and bye for now…


A song I like:
(Hindi) “Yun hi chala chal rahi”
Singers: Kailash Kher, Hariharan, Udit Narayan
Music: A. R. Rahman
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar


[Guess no need to edit this post; it’s mostly come out as pretty OK right in the first pass; will leave it as is.]

I am keeping my New Year’s…

I am keeping my NYR [^], made last year.

How about you?


No, really. I AM keeping my NYR. Here’s how.


December is meant for making resolutions. (It doesn’t matter whether it’s the 1st or the 31st; the month is [the?] December; that’s what matters.)

Done.

January is meant for making a time-table. … But it must be something on which you can execute. I have been actively engaged doing that. … You could see that, couldn’t you? … And, what’s more, you could’ve bet about it at any time in the past, too, couldn’t you?

Since execution can only follow, and not precede, planning, it must be February before execution proper itself can begin. As far as I am concerned, I will make sure of that. [And you know me. You know that I always deliver on all my promises, don’t you?]

March is known for madness. To be avoided, of course.

April is known for foolishness. To be avoided, as far as possible, but, hey, as “friends” of this blog, you know, it’s nothing to be afraid of!

May, in this part of the world, is far too hot for any one to handle it right, OK? The work-efficiency naturally drops down. This fact must be factored into any and every good piece of planning, I say! (Recall the British Governors and Other officers of the Bombay Presidency shifting their offices to Matheran/Mahabaleshwar during summer? [Anyone ever cared to measure the efficiency of this measure on their part? I mean, on work?])

Now, yes, June does bring in the [very welcome] monsoons, finally! But then, monsoon also is universally known to be the most romantic of all seasons. [It leaves a certain something of a feeling which ordinarily would require you to down a Sundowner or so. [I am trying to be honest, here!]… And then, even Kalidas would seem to agree. Remember (Sanskrit) “aashaaDhasya pratham…”? Naturally, the month is not very conducive to work, is it?]


OK.


This is [just] January, and my time-table is all done up and ready. Or, at least, it’s [at least] half-way through. …

I will really, really begin work in the second half of the year.

Bye until then.


A Song I Don’t Ever Recall Liking Back Then [When Things Mattered Far More Routinely in Far More Respects than They Do Today]

[Not too sure I like it today either. But there were certain happy isolated instances related to my more recent career which are associated with it. I had registered, but hadn’t known this fact, until recently.

But then, recently, I happened suddenly to “re-hear” the phrase (Hindi) “yeh kaunsaa…”, complete with the piece of the “sax” which follows it…

Then, the world had become [in a [comparatively] recent past] a slightly better place to live in.

So, I’d decided, not quite fully certain but still being inclined to this possibility, that I might actually like this song. … But I still don’t fully, you know… But I still do fully want to run it, you know…

Anyway, just listen to it…]

(Hindi) “chocolate, lime juice, ice-cream…” [No, it really is a Hindi song. Just listen to it further…]
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar [A peculiarity of this song is that precisely when [an aged] Lata sounds [a bit] heavy [of course due to the age not to mention the pressures of the day-to-day work and every one’s normal inability to hit the sweet spot every time!], the directors of the movie and the music together focus your attention on a rather cheerfully smiling and dancing Madhuri. [No, never been one of my favorite actresses, but then, that’s an entirely different story altogether.]]
Music: Ramlaxman
Lyrics: Dev Kohli [?]

[PS: And, coming to the video of this song, did you notice that the hero drives a Maruti Gypsy?

I mean, ask any NRI in USA, and they he will tell you that it was because this was an early 90’s movie; the fruits of the [half-/quarter-/oct-something-/etc.] economic liberalization had still not been had by the general public; the liberalization they [I mean these NRIs] had brought about.

If these [I mean the economic freedoms] were to be brought about , they could easily point out, with good amount of references to Hindi movies of the recent years, that the presence on Indian roads of the [government-subsidized-diesel-driven] SUVs could easily have been seen in the same movie!!!

Hmmm…  Point[s] taken.]


How about your NYR?


[A bit of an editing is still due, I am sure… TBD, when I get the time to do so…]

“Blog” less; write journal papers!

“‘Blog’ less; write journal papers.”

That’s my NYR for 2018.

Allow me to explain.


My research is not experimental, neither is it connected with, say, design of a new machine or development of a new manufacturing process. The most concrete aspect my work involves only computational modeling. But that too is not of the kind which engineering researchers typically undertake. I don’t do FEM of this multi-physics problem or that. What I work on are some very fundamental issues of physics and engineering.

My research thus is decidedly theoretical, often bordering on being “speculative.” It tends to concentrate on fundamental aspects. For decades by now, I have been trying to tackle some of the trickiest, deepest or very abstract problems (e.g. foundations of QM). At other times, I have been busy just isolating something new as a problem in its right (e.g., instantaneous action-at-a-distance in diffusion, or non-uniqueness of solution to the diffusion equation, or the fundamentality of stress vis-a-vis strain, or mode transitions in ideal vibrations and their relation to vibrations in the real mechanical system, or the physical meaning of the delta of calculus of variations….).

OK, there are some simple experiments here and there I might do. But they are not a very significant aspect of my work. The experiments are more in the nature of illustrations (e.g. melting snowman). They are not even fully in the nature of quantitative validations, let alone the prime vehicles to discovery. So, they are just “potatoes” of my research. The meat is: deep theoretical issues themselves. That’s what it’s like when you say “fundamental.”

The only way in which you can formulate or tackle such problems—fundamental or foundational—is by being a bit “relaxed” about both the specifics of your topic and the way you go about tackling it.

If you believed too much in the existing theory, you wouldn’t be able to spot unidentified problems with it or find new solutions to the known ones. If you try to do theoretical research and if you still try to stick to a schedule like what they do in experimental research (say in designing and fabricating a gadget, complete with bill of materials, or in developing a process, complete with prototype 1, prototype 2, etc.), you wouldn’t able to even get off to a decent start. After all, a schedule can be made from only those ingredients that are already known to you, not of never seen possibilities or unknown ideas. And, while in experimental research, reality has a wonderful way to throw up new possibilities, you have no such luxury in theoretical research. Every “never seen” possibility has to be forged by your own mind. If you don’t think in a relaxed manner, you are never going to believe that the issue is easy enough for you to tackle it.

But one unintended consequence of it all is that, in theoretical research like mine, it’s easy (far too easy in fact) to get a bit too relaxed. It is easy to pursue too many diverse theoretical threads, and in examining them, to run around in circles and so keep on getting back to the same points again and again.

But now I have come to realize that perhaps time has come to stop pursuing new threads in my research and to consolidate what has already been learnt.

The best way I can think of for doing the latter is: writing papers.

In particular, I have to kick aside this one habit: writing things down only when and as “inspiration” strikes.

Writing thoughts down (maintaining pocket diaries) has done a world of good to me. But this long-pursued activity seems to have by now come, in my case, to the point of diminishing marginal utility.

In place of this habit (of keeping on idly brain-storming and noting down possibilities it throws up) I would now like to put in place another habit: writing things (papers, actually) down in a structured, routine, regular, day-to-day, and time-bound manner. Allow me to explain this part too.

Given the way I have pursued my research (and in fact, given even the very nature of problems I ended up tackling), it would have been impossible for me to say something like this:

“OK! January, diffusion paper! February, stress-strain paper! March and April, QM position paper!”

“… What, in February, I don’t write something on QM? neither on diffusion? How ridiculous?”

That is how I would have reacted. But not any more.

Instead, I am now going to be a bit “bureaucratic” about my research. (UGC and AICTE folks ought to be happy in discovering a new soul-mate in me!)

What I am going to do is what I indicated just minutes ago. I am going to make some kind of a “time-table”: this period, work (i.e. actually write papers about) only this particular problem. Leave aside all other issues. Just finish that particular paper. Only then move to those other, more interesting (even alluring) issues in a next delimited period specifically allocated for that. I will have to pursue this policy. And I had better.

After all, while “passively” letting myself jump from issues to issues has yielded a lot of new insights, there are any number of issues where I have “hit the plateau” by now—and I mean those words in a positive sense. By “hitting the plateau,” I mean not a loss of creativity or originality, but a sense, even a firm realization (based on logic) that a certain stage of completeness is already achieved.

And that’s why, I am going to concentrate on “professionally” writing papers, in the next year. Following some kind of a time-bound schedule. As if I were writing a report, or delivering a software product on its schedule. So, it’s high time I became a bit less “creative” and more “professional,” to put it vaguely.

Since I will not be pursuing this bit of this idea or that bit of that idea a lot, I will be blogging less. And since a lot of my research seems to have actually “hit the plateau” in the above-mentioned, positive sense, I would instead be writing papers.

Hence the “slogan”: “`Blog’ less, write journal papers!”

That’s my NYR for 2018…. though I wouldn’t wait for 2018 to arrive before getting going on it. After all, a new year is just an excuse to make resolutions. The digits in the date aren’t important. A definite, demarcated change (“quantum jump” if you will! [LOL!]) is. But a change of the last digit in the YYYY, since it comes only after as long a period as one complete year, is a good time to making the required definite change.

So, there. I will keep you posted, with very brief notes here and there, as to how this paper-writing “business” is actually progressing in my case. My immediate plan is to get going writing the diffusion papers, and to finish writing them, right in January 2018.

Let’s see how things actually progress.


A Song I Like:

This is that Marathi song which I said I had liked a lot during my childhood vacation (see my last 2–3 posts). I still like it. It is the one which has a decidedly Western touch, but without spoiling or compromising on the Indian sense of melody. …

(Marathi) “raajaa saarangaa, maajyaa saarangaa”
Music: Hridaynath Mangeshkar
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Lyrics: Shanta Shelke


Bye for now, make a time-table you can stick to, and also take care to execute on it. … Best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year!

For your holiday reading…

So… it’s the holiday season [for you], and so, you are looking for some light reading on quantum mechanics, right?

Well, I won’t disappoint you.

Check out this document [^].

Happy reading. Happy Christmas. Happy New Year! See you at this blog the next year!

[I am running the initial sanity-check on my new QM ideas. [I am, like, 99.99% certain to declare in the new year that my approach as stated in my published papers is wrong, and that it needs to be replaced by some new ideas such as what I now have [though I will not be retracting my papers just as yet]], and thus am likely to share my new thoughts on QM the next year. In the meanwhile, once again, happy: reading, Christmas, and New Year! Oh, BTW, writing on my new QM ideas (and explaining why my old ones are wrong, and how they are not all that completely wrong), is my NYR for 2016.]

 


 

A Song I Like:

(Western, Instrumental) “The Girl from Ipanema”

[I mean the instrumentals version of this song. Not (any of) the sung version(s). And certainly not the one where the singer has a double-decker of a hair-style.

As far as versions are concerned, Wiki tells [^] me that this song “is believed to be the second most recorded pop song in history, after `Yesterday’ by The Beatles” [and the needed citation is supplied, too; it refers to an article in WSJ]. Thus, it’s useless trying to be knowledgeable about this song—all its different versions.

I will therefore come straight to the version which I listened to for the first time in life, and which is one of the versions I still like: it’s the recording by the 101 Strings Orchestra. [Apparently, there are some good things in life that go by the name “101”, too.]

In my book, The 101 Strings Orchestra has a tie, actually, with the version by James Last and his orchestra. And, with just one page of one google search today, I now find that I like this version [^] equally well, too! In all the three cases, the instrumentals beat the human voice-sung versions by a galactic margin. … There is something about the instrumentals that make them appear a bit more restrained (and therefore more deep or even profound!), and yet, at the same time, also more suggestive. May be it’s because of the fact that they are more abstract—I don’t know. Anyway, enjoy the music, best wishes, and bye for now!]

[E&OE]

Yo—8: This tomboy is lovable. Also, a bit about the NS equations

“This tomboy is lovable.”

That was the note on which I wanted to begin my new year’s writing.

But I liked the way this tomboy handle maths so much, I had to begin messing around way before the new year’s eve would even arrive. …

OK. My puny ability to make puns is more or less fully exhausted by now. So, let’s go on to the thing straight. … More details, here [^]. And, for the maths part, here[^].

BTW, I don’t know about the other platforms, but at least on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, after installation of the tomboy-latex plugin, you have to “enable” it from the “Preferences” dialog, and then close the software and restart it, before you can use it.

If you have a scatter-brain sort of a mind the way I do [heck, did I say something materialistic here?], you will find this tiny little piece of software a great help. … No need to compile the LaTeX document; the equations become directly visible as soon as you finish typing them in. Very handy.

… I am not sure if I am going to use the linking feature a lot. … But let’s see what the feel of the software becomes like, once there are, say, over 100 or so notes.

Anyway, that’s what my New Year’s Resolution for 2015 has been. To use Tomboy. … Low maintenance. Easy to keep. [If any pun has slipped in once again, then that is totally unintentional.]

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Still twiddling thumbs on the job front… Hope something works out soon. … If you (once again) go  jobless, you think of some terrific ideas like trying your hand at some funny writing, and out comes some pathetic, or (Hindi) “bakwaas” or even (Marathi) “bhakaas” sort of puns . … Only to be expected… OK, more, some time later. … But, yes, Tomboy is handy for jotting down research ideas.

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[As usual, a short and sweet Yo post has become lengthy… Might as well continue writing a bit….]

In the meanwhile, am continuing reading up here and there on CFD and all.

… Got confused about one seemingly small part of the derivation of the Navier-Stokes equations, in the conservative differential form, i.e., with a differential element fixed in space, i.e., an Eulerian infinitesimal element. Which means, none of the following three: (i) Eulerian integral, (ii) Lagrangian integral, or (iii) Lagrangian differential.

Instead, as I said, we are talking about the fourth possibility: Eulerian infinitesimal.

When it comes to equations put forth in the so-called conservative form, no text-book ever gives you a direct derivation in a differential form—I mean, with sufficient generality.

The modern texts almost always begin with the integral form of the equations, i.e., the Reynolds Transport Theorem (or RTT) for a finite (or integral) element, and only then, on the basis of the RTT, derive the conservative differential form. The derivation, thus, is indirect. As far as a derivation directly in the differential form (with an infinitesimal element) goes, text-books invariably choose a moving (i.e. Lagrangian) element, not a fixed (Eulerian) one.

But I wanted the odd combination: Eulerian, differential, and direct derivation.

True to my style, I thought that it would be very easy to do a derivation directly in this last form. So, instead of first working it out with paper and pencil, I directly started writing a small note in LaTeX, until I began stumbling around, whenever I tried to supply a “brief” conceptual explanation of what was going on in the derivation. Something wrong would sneak in into my derivation, and I could spot it only when I tried to explain the kind of assumptions I was implicitly making in conceptual terms. I tried may be some 2–3 times afresh, every time, directly in LaTeX, each time only to stumble on to some or the other error. (Of course, I was trying to build the derivation in general terms.)

Then, to get the matter straightened out, I consulted may be some 8–10 books/online notes, even one pedagogical paper on how the NS equations should be presented to students. This paper was written by a professor who had taught introductory FM course some 33 times! [(pdf) ^]. But still, a derivation of a sufficient generality but directly in the conservative differential form is not there even in this paper.

Finally, I found something mentioned in White’s introductory text on fluid mechanics. It was the only FM text to mention this point, even though, it does so only passingly. White, too, doesn’t give you a derivation directly in the required form, but it does only passingly mention a remark—which led to the lighting of the bulb for me!

Well, in a way, this is quite minor a matter—nothing even remotely like a new or a research idea. But still, I found myself getting confused about “such minor” an issue for an unexpectedly long time—for a few days or so (with some 2–3 hours per day, writing typing directly in LaTeX).

… May be, I will post something about it, some time later. (And, yes, I have made a Tomboy note about this confusion, too.) Bye for now.

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[This post was originally posted on January 7, 2015, but then, I decided to hold it back for a while. Reposting the same today, with a bit of a revision (2015.01.15)]

[E&OE]

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to keep a New Year’s Resolution and be happy

I am not going to ask you what you have chosen for your New Year’s Resolution (NYR) this time round—only whether you have not already broken some of them by this time. (As I write this post, it is the afternoon of 1st January in India.) Be honest. You have broken some, haven’t you? And, even if not, I mean, even if you are still holding strong, be honest: How long is it going to last? How long did your last year’s NYR last? For the year before that?

Umm… no. The idea is not to make fun of you, even as you read this post with a bit of a daze and all, but to let you know how I am going to keep my NYR this year. No, really.

You see, the key to keeping NYRs is to go a bit abstract about them right while making them. Make only those resolutions that you can actually keep, in a way. Easy, no?

For quite some time, while I was pondering whether I should continue blogging or not, another idea was gaining ground in my mind: whether I should begin writing a diary or not—whether writing a diary should be my NYR for this year, or not.

I then decided to both have it and also not have it, simultaneously.

I mean, I decided to write a diary, but not every day. That’s my NYR for this year. Easy to keep, no?

But thinking about writing diary was such a pleasurable act that I continued doing it—I mean thinking—for quite some time. Here are a few things which have emerged from the exercise. I am noting them down more or less completely at random.

The very idea of a diary is, really speaking, a compromise of sorts.

A diary is a solution offered for far too many objectives, for far too many disparate kinds of aims. But most essentially and saliently, a diary is both a planning tool and a recording tool. Some times, the two are in conflict or at least in competition for occupying the space in the diary; even if they are not, in any case, they have very different natures. And, the technology of a typical diary fails for each. Let’s see how.

In the usual diary format, you typically have, say, a page devoted to each day, but often only for the work-days, not the weekend days—even if perhaps many interesting things to note down in a personal diary might occur on week-ends. Then, often, this restricted and uniform space for a day is then subdivided into time slots. The time slots usually run very neatly from 9 AM to 5 PM. Then, there is a small area for marking general notes. These provisions are attempts to make the diary a tool for planning your time. But, everything in here is, I have found, actually problematic for me.

My day does not necessarily begin at 9 AM. The classes might be held from 8 AM, for instance. Or, when jobless, I may get up at 10 AM. Then again, I often find myself working beyond 5 PM. Weekends are, as I noted above, carry much more happenings for me.

None of my activities can be neatly divided into nice one hour slots. Even if I try to, at times the description for one time slot runs into several slots. Etc.

Most crucially, on those days when things are actually moving, they move just too rapidly for a single page to handle them all in sufficient detail. On the other hand, there are just too many days when there is absolutely nothing to plan for. I mean, I might be actually planning and executing even on these days, but these plans aren’t big enough that I can’t handle them simply “off the head.” I don’t need any explicit notings in my diary for me to be able to handle those plans well. So, the pages allotted to all such days simply go waste. And worse. As the new year progresses, seeing all those empty pages fills me with a bit of guilty feeling if not a depression about not having written the diary regularly, and this feeling finally snaps me towards giving up the very resolution of writing diary.

That’s for the planning part.

As to the recording part, once again, the same pattern emerges. On some days, I have just far too many things to note down. On other days, there would nothing of note to note except perhaps writing that I ate and slept. Or, that I taught a class. Or read a paper or two. I could easily do without noting such things; writing them down in a diary adds nothing to my life.

Another point. If I ask myself, of what use is any record that I might have at all succeeded in keeping, to be honest, the technology or the format of the usual diary fails me magnificently once again.

The paper-based diary does have that convenience of manually jotting down something very easily. (I don’t have to boot up the diary; flipping to a page is enough. An equation can be noted down and a rough diagram can be plotted so easily when I am writing by hand on paper. Etc.)

But this convenience comes with a cost. I can’t then also search for something with an equal ease. If I were to note down, say, a good paper on QM that I read on some one day, and some other good paper on some other day, then there is nothing in the technology of the ordinary, paper-based and bound diary that would allow me to collate together all such papers together. For data retrieval, I have to primarily rely on my memory—or flip feverishly through pages. The act of recording down does by itself help the memory, sure.  But still, the retrieval depends mainly on your memory—there is nothing in the usual diary format to help it. (One page per month is a bit too short a space to note all the important summary matters or metadata.)

Another point. The diary does not have anything to distinguish between different kinds of records. People tend to think of a diary as a handy place to note down many different things: phone numbers, email IDs, passwords, serial number of checks/DDs, amounts of expenses, visits of friends and relatives and their birth-days/anniversaries, tour schedule, class schedule, exam schedule, meetings schedules, research ideas, food recipes, song lyrics, whatnot. Precisely because its format is so bare-bones and so general, sometimes there is this temptation to overload the diary with noting down every thing of every kind. And, the end-result is inevitable: The important gets lost in the detail. And, that way, what is important on one day isn’t the most important thing to look some other day.

Therefore, soon, there comes a point of that you end up seeing the pointlessness of maintaining a diary. The NYR goes in the dust-bin.

Neat NYRs like regularly writing a diary fail regularly, and that’s not so much because people are inconsistent (or at least because I am that inconsistent), but simply because the format is too straight-jacketed for anyone to follow it well, and also too featureless to be put to really great use for information retrieval. In short, the NYR fails because the technology and the format is so useless—even if it is so attractive.

Instead of going on cribbing about it, I have decided to do something positive about it, this year. I am going to keep a “diary,” but in my own way.

I am going to try a “shoe-box” idea for a diary this year—I mean for the recording part of it, not planning. I am going to separate the planning and recording parts into two different diaries. The planning part will be handled by the usual diary. But the recording part will be handled by this idea of a shoe-box diary. The idea is the following.

I am going to buy a bunch of A4 sheets of various colors, and am going to print a simple heading on top of them: Date, Time, and Sheet No. (for that day), that’s all.

Whenever I have to record something in the diary, first, I am going to write the material on one of these papers. Then, after noting the date, time and sheet nos, I am simply going to drop the papers in the shoe-box.

Then, at some convenient (though probably irregular) intervals, I am going to empty the shoe box, arrange the papers in sequence, re-read the material, and systematically file the papers away in a separate file, possibly with summary sheets that might come in handy for review/retrieval at a still later date.

Since this diary is not going to be in a bound format, I could always use as many sheets for a single day as I would like, and I could always insert summaries or special notes helpful for information retrieval, any time I feel like inserting them.

Since the summaries would be written after a period of time, I should have a better sense of perspective about the happenings, and so, any summaries or notes for information retrieval should turn out to be better.

It might look like an overkill, but at least this year when I would be first trying this idea, I am going to try using different colors for different purposes: say, something like red for the money-related matters, blue for notings on hobbies etc., and plain white for research ideas, paper drafts, official work, etc. All of them would go in the same shoe box, to be sorted out later on.

Of course, as I said, I am also going to have the usual kind of a diary for general notings related to planning. But I would be clear, this year, that it doesn’t have to be written regularly; its pages don’t have to look “full” to me. I could perhaps note down a few points by way of recording (as against planning) in this diary, too, but the notings here would be more like metadata. The real stuff would be written on those sheets put in that suggestion-box like container of a shoe-box. (In my case, it actually is going to be a shoe-box, not a cereal box. Recently, I bought a pair of shoes for attending interviews.)

That way, I also thought of this idea of writing emails to myself, by way of keeping a diary. The emails would be going via just a localhost account, not via the ‘net. But then I realized that I probably draw rough diagrams and write equations, or jot down my thoughts in a rather unstructured way quite often, and so, emails wouldn’t fit so well. Yet, there was something neat about this idea of “reporting” the day’s happenings by emails, even if strictly only to myself. Emails are a bit more formal a medium and so in writing them, one tends to tidy up one’s writing better. Also, there is that sense of completion as you click the “Send” button—and this was a feature which I did want to retain for my diary. But since my content has a lot of diagrams and equations, etc., emails wouldn’t be suitable. So, I instead came up with this idea of using paper sheets and dropping them into a suggestion box-like container.

Keeping the papers in a file wouldn’t help; filing requires a bit too much systematic-ness—something that I cannot always manage. But noting things down on paper, and just dropping them in a box, to be looked up only sometime later, is something that could work by me. It should. The papers would remain safe and secure in the shoe-box. And, unlike a file or a diary, with the shoe-box, there would be an element of “drop it and forget about it”—a sense of completion, as it were.

So, there. That’s my NYR for this year. I am certain that I am going to keep it because its very formulation itself is such that it could at all be kept—even by me. Perhaps, I may end up being a more regular diary writer, too, after all. “Drop the day in that shoe-box,” or something like that could be the slogan to remember it. … Oh well, I may not be fully regular, but still, this way, I could possibly be much more regular. And, improvement is what a NYR is all about, what say?

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And, oh, as I was organizing my thoughts for writing of this post, I received a (very) welcome news. Recently I had attended a couple of interviews for professor’s positions, and I have just been informed by telephone that at one of those places, a job offer is being made to me. Though the appointment letter would arrive later, this news is a great way to begin a new year, isn’t it? … OK, since it is so, I will sure add a “Song I Like” section here later on, say, tomorrow or so, when I come back to possibly further edit and streamline this post.

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A Song I Like:
(Hindi) “kaun disaa mein leke chalaa re…”
Music: Ravindra Jain
Singers: Hemlata & Jaspal Singh
Lyrics: Ravindra Jain (?)

[E&OE]

A Post about Not Posting

That’s my resolution for this year. One that’s kinda hard to keep, right? Or is it to break? You decide…

Anyway, that’s what I am going to do this new year. Not to post. At least, not so frequently. And, whenever (infrequently) I may end up blogging, I now resolve to write shorter posts. No, seriously. The reason is: I am hard-pressed for time. Am already lagging behind my planned study + research schedule. So, I am cutting down on everything: blogs, e-interactions, emails, … why, even browsing and tweeting.

And the time that gets saved—I am going to invest it into my study + research.

So, if you run into something interesting on foundations of quantum physics, or computational science and engineering, or history of physics (say, a paper, a blog-post, course-notes, open-source software, etc.), and if you think it might help me, then do me a favor and drop me a line.

Wow! 2011 is here already! The “1-1-11”!! Happy New Year, once again!!!

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A Song I Like
(Marathi) “sampale swapn_ te, shodhishee kaa punhaa…”
Singer: Rani Verma
Music: Shridhar–Uday (?)
Lyrics: Shanta Shelke

[E&OE]