Oct 31, 2009

Worst. Hindu. Ever.

Two weeks ago was Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. It's kind of a big deal, since it's one of the few festivals that most Hindus celebrate - and thus, one of the few that have made it across the pond to become a part of American Hindu traditions. Of course, I didn't even know it was coming until a couple of days before, when my friend Davina mentioned it. Stupid lunar calendar, always messing me up. In my defense, I did call home.

Me: Happy Diwali (or Deepavali, if you prefer)!
Mom: Happy Diwali, Kutty! Did you do pooja?
Me: Well, no.
Mom: Did you light a lamp?
Me: Um...
Mom: At least do something!
Me: I'm actually on my way to a friend's house. How about I light something on fire there?
Mom: *displeased silence*
Me: Heh. Gotta go.

And as it turns out, even President Obama celebrated Diwali (OMG SECRET HINDU!).

Was this a foolish political move, sure to alienate his key constituents? Hardly. Check out this Newsweek article: We Are All Hindus Now. Based on academic analysis and survey data, it seems that more Americans are subscribing to Hindu beliefs ... though they probably don't know it.

This makes perfect sense to me. "Hinduism" is just that - an "ism" artificially created to encompass a group of people holding widely divergent beliefs. There are tensions and disagreements and feuds, but for the most part Hindus acknowledge that there are many spiritual truths. What could be more egalitarian, more American, than this individualized approach to faith?

I'm sure President Obama didn't put this kind of thought into his Diwali message. He was probably trying to be nice, or politically correct, or both. It just makes me feel good when my faith can take center stage, instead of being marginalized or forgotten. Even if I am the worst Hindu ever.

Oct 26, 2009

And by "fun" I mean...

While in Hawaii, I did two things purely for fun. I went to the Waikiki Aquarium and the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. This is my idea of a good time: educational activities and solemn remembrance. In my defense, I didn't have a lot of time away from the conference. And since I didn't have a rental car I had to walk/bus it everywhere. So the Great Public Transportation Experiment continued even in Waikiki.

A word on the Hawaii bus system - it's awesome. There are tons of routes, so you never have to wait very long for a bus. Automatic overhead announcements give you the cross streets and major landmarks. And the drivers (like pretty much everyone I met in Waikiki) are super friendly. You know hapless tourists are pestering them with questions 24/7, but they patiently answer with a smile and a cheerful "mahalo!"

So it was no problem for me and Baby Genius to catch a bus to the aquarium. I suggested (read: demanded) that we go there, since I love aquariums. Sea creatures are so beautiful and serene. Also, I have this idea that fish don't really know they're in captivity, which makes going to an aquarium much more enjoyable than going to the zoo. The Waikiki Aquarium is smallish, but they had some cool exhibits. These included the oldest giant clam known to man and a couple of adorable seals.

These clams were as big as your face ... but they are tiny compared to the real deal.

Cuteness... overload... I'll have to finish with my account of the USS Arizona in another post.

Oct 23, 2009

Aloha, bitches!

Several of my fangirls have been asking me, 'Why so little posting, Sri? You know that they're the only reason I get up in the morning! Are you trying to send me into a spiraling depression from which I will never recover?' Well, the reason for the blog silence is that I am in Hawaii right now, at a work conference.

The conference tag line: "Superlative science, sensational setting." Word.

No, really. I'm hard at work ... um, networking and such. I am definitely not overindulging on complimentary drinks and instigating impromptu karaoke at local bars. There was no flashback to a certain incident involving the Pacific Ocean at the conference in Los Angeles. Nor am I participating in shenanigans at the exhibit booth or skipping important presentations to lie out on the beach, working on my tan. *shifty eyes*

You can't prove that any of these people are me.

This is my first time at the this organization's meeting, and so far I've liked it. There are definitely topics that have gone over my head, and others that have completely blown my mind. There were talks on an amazingly elegant method of gene discovery, proposed treatments for Mendelian conditions, and new insights into the regulation of transcription. And that was all presented in one session.

But you don't care about any of that. You want to hear about Hawaii. But besides a couple of visits to the beach and dinner/drinks at nice restaurants, I haven't really done anything purely for fun. And I'm fine with that, for the most part. I'm here to (a) go to a conference, (b) hang out with people I don't usually see (i.e. my classmates), and (c) bond with people from work. Laura (aka Baby Genius) and I may skip the poster sessions today, though, and check out the art museum or the aquarium. Further updates as events warrant!

Oct 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009

The topic of this year's Blog Action Day is climate change. I'm not about to go all EPA on you ... if you're reading this, you're probably a hippie-liberal like myself and are totally on board with the whole We're Suffocating Mother Earth in Greenhouse Gases thing. The question remains, "what can I do about it?" P.S. The EPA's children's site is much more my speed, sad to say.

For a while now all the cool kids have been talking about "reducing your carbon footprint." And when I lived in C'ville, I knew I was not doing so well with that. I would routinely drive to visit my family (300 miles round trip) or my friends (200 miles round trip) every other weekend. I drove to work, even though I lived within walking distance. I had moderate success with recycling, but I quickly lost interest in composting. I went on a number of international trips and flew domestically fairly often. The only reason I can write all this now is that I've changed/will be changing many of these things, and thus am not as shamed as I used to be.

So I figured my carbon footprint must be HUGE. Like, astronomical and offensive to god, right? For this year's Blog Action Day, I decided that confession is good for the soul. And so I give you, My Carbon Footprint (from the last three years).

So I've clearly outstripped the world target by a factor of five - I was expecting that. What surprised me is that my footprint is HALF the national average. Sure, I didn't routinely burn enough coal to heat the neighborhood or use a rocket-pack to get to the grocery store, but seriously? That's kind of sad.

Clearly, the amount of traveling I was doing was a problem. Well, that's been taken care of - as my loyal readers will remember, I've sent Sheldon (my beloved Corolla) home with my parents. My dad usually drives him to work instead of his minivan (which is certainly less fuel efficient than Sheldon) - two birds, one stone! What I really need to work on, it seems, are all my "Secondary" issues. These are things like buying organic/local/seasonal foods and ... recreation? The one thing I don't like about this calculator is that it doesn't provide direct links with explanations. I know why I should take a walk rather than go to a restaurant in terms of my waistline, but I'm scratching my head as to what exactly that has to do with climate change.

I guess the moral of the story is that there are lots of things we can do, not all of which may be intuitive. For my part I will continue the Great Public Transportation Experiment, check out the year-round fresh food market for some grub, and maybe try to incorporate some "zero carbon activities" into my free time. What about you?

Oct 13, 2009

Down the rabbit hole

Lately, Gilda has been acting out. She moves her litter pan around the cage (though she still uses it, thank god), tears up the drop cloth in her enclosure, and doesn't allow me to pick her up. I know that bunnies are not as affectionate as dogs, or even cats. But it's a tad depressing when you can't even pet your pet.

So when my parents came to pick her up last weekend, it should have been a big relief. I'm going to be out of town next week, and this was the most convenient time for them to come collect my little charge. Once we had moved her cage, I took the opportunity to sweep and mop her area. Now there's nothing but an empty corner where the little miscreant used to dwell.

I miss her so much.

When I get up in the morning I usually say, "Good morning, Gil." When I leave for the day, I admonish her to "Be good!" Sometimes, when I'm lying in bed at night, I tell her my troubles. Yes, I know it's insane to be talking to a rabbit. A rambunctious (dare I say, rascally?) rabbit, at that. But I can't wait for my parents to bring her back in two weeks, so I can hear that familiar scrabbling when I return from work and say, "I'm home."

Oct 4, 2009

Let's play a game!

It's called, Why Is That In My Purse? I will list all the things (besides the boring stuff) that are currently in my purse (read: mondo tote bag) and let you guess why they're there. Ready? Okay!

- Veronica Mars, Season 3 box set
- Two bags of (un-popped) microwave popcorn: one Kettle Corn and one Extra Butter
- Frozen cupcake from Magnolia Bakery (in New York City)
- Three packs of playing cards
- Bottle of rum (unopened)
- Two CDs: The Best of Gladys Knight and the Pips and Pickin' on The Beatles (bluegrass covers of classic Beatles' songs)
- From Eroica with Love, a manga by Yasuko Aoike, Volume 9

Here's the kicker: none of these things were in my bag yesterday. Anyone who can come up with a reasonable explanation will get a prize. Anyone who can come up with a ridiculous explanation gets two prizes. Happy speculating!