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Citizen

Sometimes we call citizens heroes, which is a shame, because their actions should be commonplace, not rare. The myth of success based on short-term self-interest has been disproven again and again. It seems obvious that leaving things better than you found them is a powerful step forward, because you’ll probably be back this way again one day soon.

Seth Godin, Chosing to be a Citizen

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A decade of self-control

Om calls for a decade of self-control. I think this may be the culmination of my reading of Brett McKay at Art of Manliness, Mr. Money Mustache and Cal Newport, whom he quotes in his blog post.

However, there are things we as people can do to take control of our own habits, our own time, and the tools we use. And yes, we should take our time, attention, and dollars and give it to little companies, not technology conglomerates like Google and Facebook.

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Chair in Space

They’ve flown a chair to space on my birthday ten years ago.

JP Aerospace flew a chair to space

I learnt about it just now.

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Activa called Jupiter

We bought Jupiter home yesterday on December 2, 2019.

Pradeep taking delivery of the Activa
Pradeep taking delivery of the Activa

The Contenders

We were thinking of buying a scooter for Dhanya to help her get our daughter to school, do errands locally and give her some independent mobility. The scooters we considered were the TVS Jupiter and Honda Activa.

Shopping Experience

I really enjoyed the shopping experience I was offered at TVS Century showroom on Alandi Road, Pune. The salesperson showed us the available alternatives, answered queries patiently and made useful suggestions as per our requirement. Only then did he take us through the cost and financing options. Dhanya also enjoyed her test drive of the vehicle and after the showroom visit, we were quite keen on owning a Jupiter.

The experience at the Shanti Honda showroom was the polar opposite. The salesperson asked us what we were looking for. He brought his cost sheet and began explaining what we would be paying for the two wheeler. He then explained financing options. He lost interest when we said we would be self financing the vehicle. We asked for a test drive which he offered reluctantly.

The Verdict

We asked friends and our parents for feedback on both vehicles. As we kept hearing the feedback, we were disheartened that we might not be able to choose a Jupiter. It seems to come with a history of niggling problems and sub-par after sales service that takes the years off the vehicle. Although many people felt the Jupiter was a better riding experience not everyone agreed on whether it was a good vehicle to own. As I was buying this with my own hard earned money, I went with the safer option of buying a Honda Activa.

The Delivery

As I said above, we took delivery of the Honda Activa yesterday on December 2, 2019. The Jupiter has us so captivated, that in our conversations with each other we were never able to say Activa. We kept referring to it as Jupiter. Hence, we decided to name her Jupiter so that it fixes what we call it.

We took her to the Ayyappa Temple at Dhanori. We got a Vahana Pooja done and took her home.

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Quote: Emotional Education

The knack of our species lies in our capacity to transmit our accumulated knowledge down the generations. The slowest among us can, in a few hours, pick up ideas that it took a few rare geniuses a lifetime to acquire.

Yet what is distinctive is just how selective we are about the topics we deem it possible to educate ourselves in. Our energies are overwhelmingly directed toward material, scientific, and technical subjects and away from psychological and emotional ones. Much anxiety surrounds the question of how good the next generation will be at math; very little around their abilities at marriage or kindness. We devote inordinate hours to learning about tectonic plates and cloud formations, and relatively few fathoming shame and rage.

The assumption is that emotional insight might be either unnecessary or in essence unteachable, lying beyond reason or method, an unreproducible phenomenon best abandoned to individual instinct and intuition. We are left to find our own path around our unfeasibly complicated minds — a move as striking (and as wise) as suggesting that each generation should rediscover the laws of physics by themselves.

– Alain de Botton, The Book of Life, An Emotional Education

HT

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Search for Vikram

It has been about 5 days since my last post here. When we last left Vikram, we had left it incommunicado close to the surface of the Moon.

Since then, there has been a lot of speculation with little or no information. There is no information from ISRO including what it seems to be doing now. Information is coming in at a tangent, from astronomers studying Doppler readings of the Lander and the Orbiter.

ISRO’s last official update (at the time of writing) states that it had located the lander and that it was trying to establish communication with it. There was a lot of speculation initially about the status of the lander. Many foreign observers (like Jonathan McDowell, Cees Bassa, Chris B etc.)said that the lander had very little chance of survival knowing the speed at which it was travelling at the time ISRO received the last telemetry from the lander. ISRO released information to some sections of the media (PTI report ) that the lander was intact but toppled. This was not found as an update on the ISRO website.

Science reporters then began to question ISRO’s claim that the mission was 90-95% success. Vasudevan Mukunth for The Wire considered the method by which they arrived at the success rate. Jacob Koshy writes in The Hindu with much more depth and history for the reasons why this quote now looks like a way to airbrush the failure. There has been no official response yet. S M Ahmed who had an instrument on board the Moon Impact Probe of Chandrayaan 1 discusses possibilities as to the fate of the lander on his blog.

The lack of information now has people studying the few statements that ISRO has already made. A story in India Today seems to re-interpret ISRO’s message to say that they were in touch with Vikram till about 400 m above the surface of the Moon and not 2.1 km like many media reports have since claimed.

Meanwhile, Ryan Watkins, a planetary scientist tweeted that NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will look for Vikram on September 17. LRO’s camera has a resolution of 0.5 m at an orbit of 100 km. It is believed that at this altitude, the images would not discern enough detail to let us know whether the lander is intact. There were reports that ISRO will lower the orbit of the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter to take a closer look. The orbiter has a camera with a better resolution than LRO. We got word from Edgar Kaiser, an amateur radio astronomer today that Chandrayaan 2 orbiter has now lowered its orbit above the South Pole.

Chandrayaan 2 orbiter orbit change detected on Doppler. Image: Edgar Kaiser

This seems contrary to rumours that K Sivan, ISRO Chairman has asked scientists to move on and focus on future missions. There were also some fairly stupid remarks from DRDO Chairman saying that PM Modi’s hug enabled ISRO to find Vikram.

While I’ve mostly given up on chances of locating Vikram intact we can await efforts from Deep Space Network (DSN) to hail the lander in hopes that it will be able to contact it.

Doppler seems to be bursting various balloons of hope that ISRO has created. It seems to be breaking news about the orbiter and lander. In space, you can’t lie. Covering up mistakes makes the situation much worse than needs to be.

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Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year 2019 to all.

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Trip November 2018

I’m writing this at the Waiting Room at the Jalna Railway Station. After four months, I finally got my leave sanctioned for one week.

We’re going now to Mumbai on 17618 Tapovan Express. Then, we catch a train to Kolkata where we are going to attend my cousin Vishy’s engagement. Then, we fly to Hyderabad where we stay with my grand uncle before taking the train back to Jalna and go by car to Lonar.

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Nokia 6

Purchased a Nokia 6 yesterday from Croma store at Horniman Circle yesterday on the way back from watching the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.

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On WhatsApp forwards

We all get numerous messages which are fake on WhatsApp and forward it without giving it too much thought. Thejesh GN has written on his blog about these forwards, with suggestions on how WhatsApp could handle fake news. 

It is important that you verify things you hear on WhatsApp from another primary source. If you trust the person sending you the forward, do question if he/she thinks the news is true or not. I would suggest using Google News and to visit a news publication you trust or visit the organisation/individual’s website.