28 February 2013


I'm so ready for winter to be over. So ready. Please, summer, please come fast.

Wrote this after my mother commented on the weather, saying, "It almost gives an illusion that summer's here, long evenings and all." I was "struck by a passion" then, the lyrics to a poem almost sprang into my head at that moment and I had to write it down. It's not fantastic. But it's something.


Summer is gentle,
romantic, sensual,
long pleasant evenings
the gentle glow of candlelit dinners,
unrushed strolls around the neighborhood,
hand in hand with your other.

Summer is exciting,
surprising, fleeting,
water balloon fights,
the rush of amusements,
sleepovers and bonding time,
smiling with your buddies.

Summer is relaxing,
paced, drawn-out,
streams of sunlight and lazy mornings,
quiet time all by yourself,
time to collect your thoughts.

Summer is exhilarating,
passionate, overwhelming,
feeling the wind on your face,
walks along the beach,
feeling the sea spray sprinkle your face.

Summer is everything.

27 February 2013

Why Your Writing Sucks

Yes, it does. It sucks. And mine probably sucks too. Actually, your writing has a lot of potential. Don't ask how I know. I do. And once you tap into that potential, your writing will be brilliant. It will be so riveting, so down-to-earth and astonishing that readers will not be able to look away. Everyone has that writing genius (unless they are truly idiots) and the level of your writing is determined mostly by how easily you can come to terms with your writing.

Stop trying to be grammatically correct all the time. I don't mean become lazy in your use of "your" and "you're" or "there" and "their". If you use the wrong word there, I will get one of my friends to eat you. What I mean is, stop limiting yourself to rules like: don't use fragments, don't begin a sentence with 'and' or 'but'. Those are terrible rules, and apart from English essays I want you to delete that from your brain. Think how dramatic fragments can be.

"Blood. It was everywhere, streaked on the walls, oozing from the furniture and splattered on the floor; a stark reminder of the tragedy that had just occurred."

See how effective and dramatic that was? The sentence started off with one word that was something like a slap to your cheek; it woke you up, made you blink and shudder a couple of times before you even knew what was going on.

Eliminate the details. Don't try to write like those 19th century poets. Instead of:

"Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions, seems still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. Such a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery, and be overwhelmed by disappointments; yet, when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures." -Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


"Though he was drowning in intense sadness and misery, he still had room in his broken heart to accept the beauties of nature. Every wondrous sight seemed to lift his soul from the earth. He was split in two: he suffered, yes, and faced disappointments, but in his own companionship he was an angel with no cares in the world." -me, my blog

Give your characters flaws. Don't turn your guys into Edward Cullen. Don't turn your girls into the epitome of perfection. Nobody is perfect, and nobody wants to read a boring book about perfect people. Give your characters interesting flaws, like serious identity issues, or a terrible family background, or a flaring temper, or excessive nervousness, or narcolepsy, or color-blindness. Mix it up. Make it interesting. Don't use cliches or stereotypes. Don't make all the popular girls blonde, like Barbie dolls. Don't turn them into typical, popular-girl, hair-flipping freaks. Haven't we all read about those before? Hmm? Don't be all like:

"The intensity of his gorgeous brown eyes made me want to melt into him."


"His skin was so flawless, his hair so artfully messed, his frame so athletic yet slim."

instead, write something like:
"He was on the skinny side, more like gangly, really, tall and thin with clumsy movements. Despite his awkward build and stance, he was quite popular; always making his friends burst into laughter, always smiling and cheerful. He did have a rather blunt way of saying things, however, and often unintentionally hurt people's feelings. Despite his flaws, though, he had a heart of gold." -me :P

Show, don't tell. You've heard this before, but I'm serious. Don't say: 

"He was extremely sad."


"Emotions ran through him like a wind of silvery knives, jabbing and twisting and slicing at his insides."

And finally, embrace your writing voice: it is your one and only original trait and you must enhance it. Don't try to write like someone you're not. Just write. And make sure, throughout all that prose and dialogue, that a hidden shadow of yourself is recognizable.

Goodbye, or as they would say in Hindi, alvida. Happy writing!

18 February 2013

What Disney Teaches Us

Remember all those Disney princesses we loved as kids? Some of us still love em. And there's nothing wrong with that. But lately I've noticed that there are--perhaps unintentional--underlying messages in each one.

For example, in "Sleeping Beauty", princess Aurora was asleep for 100 years, and she woke up with a stranger kissing her. She married him. First of all, the condition for her to wake up was that the kiss had to be one of true love. What kind of creeper falls in love with a sleeping girl in one second, and then kisses her? That is the weirdest thing ever. The prince (Prince Charming), on the other hand, teaches us that for a girl to fall madly in love with you, you need to be rich, charming, handsome, and famous.

In "The Little Mermaid", Ariel falls in love with a stranger she sees on a beach, goes to great pains to change her appearance so as to be more attractive to that stranger (with the aid of an evil lady) trading her voice in exchange. No matter, she apparently has nothing of great importance to say. The prince (Prince Charming) teaches guys to be rich, charming, handsome, and famous.

In "Aladdin", a 'street rat' falls in love with a princess (who walks around in the most revealing outfit ever) and eventually she falls back in love with him and they get married. The guy teaches us to be charming, handsome, and appear to be rich and famous.

In "Cinderella", Cinderella lives in terrible conditions. Her beauty helps her attract a rich, handsome man, and  get married and inherit his wealth. Excellent.

In short, Disney teaches us not to talk to strangers, unless they're hot. Also that all a man needs to get a girl is wealth, good looks, and fame. Actually, in "Beauty and the Beast", looks don't matter. Except in the girl.

But the Disney movies aren't all bad. They're not all chauvinistic. "Mulan" is one of the best Disney movies...ever.

And here's a magazine cover spoof I picked up off of cracked.com:

So now we know exactly why people act the way they do. It's Disney's fault. So there.

13 February 2013

The Complete Guide to Writing Passwords

Writing a good password is a skill that a surprisingly high amount of people lack. Many password tips will tell you not to use the same password for everything. I agree. But it's becoming impossible to remember a password for each and every account you have, which is why several different passwords are enough. However, having one password that will unlock many accounts makes it easier for a person to access all of those, once he knows your password. That means you have to make the decision about which accounts are really important and which accounts don't matter as much. So how can you write a hard-to-guess password? 

There are plenty of password testers out there, such as howsecureismypassword.net, which is what I used to determine my password strength (results above). But don't be fooled: these password testers can only do so much. What they recognize is the variety of characters you use, like symbols, numbers, capital letters and lowercase letters. You want to keep in mind who you are trying to protect your account from more: computers or actual people? For instance, if you want a good password for a home computer account, you'll want to choose something hard for people around you to guess. If you're trying to create a passcode hard for a computer to guess, these password testers aren't always accurate, sometimes a password like "!A56h$32" is a lot easier to guess, with the help of a computer, than a password like "dontgiveuphope". You'll also notice that the latter is much easier to remember. So how can you make that password harder to crack? Try these steps:
  1. Find a phrase or title of a song you like: "dontforgettolive"
  2. Capitalize where appropriate: "DontForgetToLive"
  3. Add punctuation: "Don'tForgetToLive"
  4. Add punctuation in the form of emoticons: "Don'tForgetToLive(:"
  5. This one's if you have a really good memory; substitute letters for numbers: "D0n'tForg3tT0L1vE(:"
Notice that I didn't substitute ALL the o's with 0's, and so on. Password hacking programs are equipped to substitute numbers for letters! So it is at your own risk that you substitute these letters with numbers. 
The password we finally came up with, when plugged in the the password tester I mentioned, estimated this computer cracking time:

That is a lot of years. Remember, however, that testers calculate all the possible combinations for your password, multiply that by the time it would take to try each one. Of course it is not perfectly accurate.

So those were tips on how to write a good password. But what about the don'ts? What do you absolutely not want to do?
  • Don't use numbers in a patterns. A passcode that contains "123", "111", or "246" and the like is very, very easy for a person to guess, and even more so for a computer.
  • Don't put your username or other identifying information (i.e., your name, birthday, country, pet name, teacher name, etc.) in your password.
  • Don't use only one type of character. Use a variety, to make it more difficult for hackers.
  • Don't use letters in patterns, either. "asdfghjkl" and "qwerty" are the easiest passwords to guess, ever.
  • These should be obvious: don't write down your password. Don't tell people your password; if necessary, not over a connection but in person. Over a connection, everything is recorded.
  • If required to change your password, don't make it similar to the previous one. It should be completely different.
  • Don't use extremely common phrases, like "LiveLaughLove<3" or "SharingIsCaring". Plus, those passwords are stupid.
So now you have it: how to write your next password. Keep in mind that this is not your final guide--there are a number of choices that you have to make yourself, depending on the situation. See you soon, or as they say en francais: a bientôt!

11 February 2013

Why I Hate Valentine's Day

I hate Valentine's Day. All the pink, all the lace and frills and hearts, all the couples debating in high voices what they're going to do...it drives me nuts. You could argue that I'm just a bitter, jealous girl who scorns relationships because I'm not in one. That's really not it. I just think, what is the significance of the day? If you like a guy/girl, and a guy/girl likes you, what grain of effect does Valentine's Day have on your relationship? You like each other the same, just as any other day.

I try to ignore Valentine's Day as much as possible. So imagine my horrified surprise when some guy says, "Oh yeah, it's Valentine's Day on Friday, isn't it?" and a bunch of girls reply in shock, scandalized by his mistake, "It's on THURSDAY!"

My French teacher laughs, and says, "What girl DOESN'T know when Valentine's Day is?"

Ahem. Me! I'm sure my face turned bright red. 

So while I am trying vehemently to ignore everything about Valentine's Day, here is how I am being hindered:
  • Overenthusiastic announcements on our school TV and in the caf, "Valentine's Day is coming up! Show your love by buying all your friends a Candy Gram! Candy Grams are only 50 cents each, and they are sure to show everyone just how much you care about them!" Yeah, right. I care about you so much that I bought you a fifty-cent, red, heart-shaped lollipop that tastes like a hyperventilating hippopotamus threw up on it.
  • Excited girls everywhere, squealing and gushing and giggling, gossiping about what outfit they're going to wear, how they're going to color-coordinate ("I am TOTALLY wearing pink. Omg, ___ you should so wear red! It looks so pretty on you!! Omg we can be, like, twins!"). Yeah, cause wearing pink on Valentine's Day totally indicates love and happiness.
  • Advertisements on TV, telling me I have to attend Justice or Abercrombie because of the mega-super-awesome Valentine's Day sale they're having. "You get 2% off EACH ITEM YOU PURCHASE! What a deal! What a deal!"
  • Valentine's Day (more like Valentine's Month, really) specials. "See Lauren and Conrad in this Valentine's Day special filled with MORE drama, spice, and never-before-seen scenes!" Seriously? I don't even watch TV, and each drama is literally shoved in my face from fifty feet away where some member of my family is watching the talking box.
  • Blog updates, all giving me new DIYs for Valentine's Day and suggestions as to what I should get for my nonexistent spouse, my best friends, my mother, my father, even my teachers. "Valentine's Day is coming up, and here's why YOU should be excited!!" Hell no! I don't give a pig's nostril!
Okay, so maybe that was a bit much. Valentine's Day is pretty dumb, but there's one thing about it even I can't complain about: chocolate. The chocoholic inside me is drooling at the thought of all that yummy stuff, even if it is wrapped in shiny pink foil and shaped like a heart.

So Happy Valentine's day, everyone, and I hope you have a good one!

10 February 2013

Animator vs. Animation I, II, and III

Animations galore! I really really really have a thing for 'em. Here are three in a series, by Alan Becker, you can follow him on deviantART: ~alanbecker. The previews look bad quality, but the videos are better. I promise! Once again, enjoy.

Animator vs. Animation

Animator vs. Animation II

Animator vs. Animation III

The Crazy Evolution of Man

Again, another animation. I love how the artist interacts with the drawing. Some people have so much talent!

Credit goes to boolab, a production house dedicated to motion graphics. Hope you enjoy it!

09 February 2013

Many Answers

I came across this story yesterday and thought it was pretty interesting.
   "Some time ago I received a call from a colleague. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score. The instructor and the student agreed to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected. I read the examination question:
     The student had answered, "Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to the street, and then bring the rope up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building."
     The student really had a strong case for full credit since he had really answered the question completely and correctly! On the other hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high grade in his physics course and to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this.
     I suggested that the student have another try. I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said he had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on.
     In the next minute, he dashed off his answer which read: "Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then, using the formula x=0.5*a*t^^2, calculate the height of the building."
     At this point, I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and gave the student almost full credit. While leaving my colleague's office, I recalled that the student had said that he had other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were.
     "Well," said the student, "there are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building, and by the use of simple proportion, determine the height of the building."
     "Fine," I said, "and others?"
     "Yes," said the student, "there is a very basic measurement method you will like. In this method, you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units."
     "A very direct method."
     "Of course. If you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of g at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference between the two values of g, the height of the building, in principle, can be calculated."
     "On this same tact, you could take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to just above the street, and then swing it as a pendulum. You could then calculate the height of the building by the period of the precession."
     "Finally," he concluded, "there are many other ways of solving the problem. Probably the best," he said, "is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent's door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: 'Mr. Superintendent, here is a fine barometer. If you will tell me the height of the building, I will give you this barometer."
     At this point, I asked the student if he really did not know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, but said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think."
The student was Niels Bohr and the arbiter was Ernest Rutherford.

A Lime Called "Peanut"

Wouldn't that be a great name for a novel? Anyways, today I brought a lime to school. I thought it was a lemon. Do not mock me. I assumed, since limes and lemons are shaped the same, taste similar and look the same, excepting colour, that they are the same. A green apple is just as much an apple as a red apple. I assumed that the same applied to lemons. Apparently not. Lemons are most certainly not limes, and limes are most certainly not lemons.

Why, you ask, why did I bring a lime to school?

In science class, we made wet cells out of lemons. Lemons contain a mixture of chemicals that can be converted to electricity. Well, I brought a lime. A lime, apparently, could not be used for the experiment. So I drew a face on my lime with a red permanent marker, and by the end of class, when I finished the experiment with an actual lemon, I had grown somewhat attached to the cute lime sitting on my table. So I dubbed it "Peanut". My friends think I am insane. To some degree, I agree with them. But the lime deserved love. After all, it had been rejected by the science teacher and made fun of my class.

Actually, it's a little creepy how it never blinks.

Moving on, I'd like to ponder on something else, something I came across while browsing a funny picture app on my iPod, something completely unrelated to the post title but interesting nevertheless. Barbie, the doll we girls all knew so well in elementary school years, is scientifically impossible. Her breast-to-waist-to-hip ratio would force her to crawl around on all fours. She would fall over. She is unbelievable top-heavy. In addition, she is anorexic by medical definition. With a height of 5'9" (scaled up to a person's average dimensions) and a weight of 110 lbs, Barbie's BMI is estimated to be about 16.24. She was sold in 1963 as a babysitter, with a book-prop called How To Lose Weight. On the back of the book, the advice was stated in two words: don't eat. Later on came Slumber Party Barbie, who was sold with a pink scale permanently set at 110 lbs. By the clinical definition, Barbie is anorexic. What kind of message is this sending to young girls all across the USA?

Ciao for now. Peanut waves goodbye.

02 February 2013

The Problem With Proverbs

How many times has an adult quoted some old wisdom upon you? Isn't it annoying? Especially when they make no sense! Here are some "wise quotes" people will tell you, and why they're completely false.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Ever heard of polio? I mean, how many people narrowly escape death and become stronger? I think this quote should say, "What doesn't kill you will give you PTSD."

"No pain, no gain." While this can be interpreted several ways to make sense, there are also many ways that it makes no sense. For instance, when you are exercising, pain does not necessarily indicate gain. Pain, in general, indicates an injury. An injury is hardly gain. Many people strain themselves following this saying, and then are surprised when they don't see results.

"Money can't buy you happiness." Try saying that to a homeless person. It cannot be argued that pleasure and comfort, which can both be bought with money, can bring you happiness. What this quote should be is, "Happiness can be achieved without money."

"Failing to plan is planning to fail." Any saying that instructs you, that tells you exactly what you must do, is inevitably wrong. For instance, when writing, different things work for different people. I have planned about two essays in my life, and those were the only ones that I got below an A on. Of course, don't take the wrong idea from this example. Planning is good. Just don't plan like me.

"You are what you eat." I don't remember eating any tall Indian girls in my lifetime. Oh wait...there was that one time...no. Just no. A more accurate saying would be, "You are how much you eat," although that isn't necessarily true. For instance, I think I eat quite a lot per day. I am nowhere near the amount of food I've eaten in my lifetime.

"He who laughs last laughs best." Does this even need an explanation? No...he who laughs last didn't get the joke. I know because my brother does that. HOWEVER: I do realize that this can be interpreted as "having the last laugh"--meaning no one can top you.

"All things come to those who wait." What, all things come to those who wait till the last minute? No, I don't think so. Nothing good has ever come of procrastination: other than the project being cancelled at the last minute.

"Easy come, easy go." Acne comes easily. It does not go easily, unless you have a cortisone injection, which happens to be a steroid, therefore rather expensive. I would not consider that easily either.

"Silence is golden." I can think of so many examples that prove this wrong. What of the woman suffragist movement? Or even the Civil Rights movement? Marin Luther Kind, Jr.? Look what silence would have brought them!

"After the storm comes the calm." Hardly. Hurricane Sandy? The earthquake in Haiti? Those were storms, and the calm certainly didn't return right after.

Furthermore, there are quite a few popular proverbs that blatantly contradict each other. I mean, how can you take one seriously and not the other?

"The pen is mightier than the sword."
"Actions speak louder than words."
"Many hands make light work."
"Too many cooks spoil the broth."
"You're never too old to learn."
"You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
Clothes make the man."
"Don't judge a book by its cover."
"The best things come in small packages."
"The bigger, the better."
"A miss is as good as a mile."
"Half a loaf is better than none."
"Look before you leap."
"He who hesitates is lost."
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
"Don't beat a dead horse."
"The early bird gets the worm."
"The second mouse gets the cheese."

So next time a proverbial saying makes you want to bang your head on a wall, let 'em know just what you think about proverbs! 

01 February 2013


Just wanted to say, I have always been a big fan of animation. I love animated short--the old Mickey Mouse ones, the newer ones--all of them. I found this one while on StumbleUpon (great site, by the way, check it out), and it was so cute!

Hope you enjoy it.