Sunday, 30 January 2011

No easy solutions

I always feel slightly guilty flushing the toilet, but where is the option? There is a lot of talk of green toilets. and chemical or solar toilets.
All these need land. They are fine for rural settings, rich people's farm houses, holiday cabins etc, but living in Ameerpet , Hyderabad or Mandaivelli, Chennai, can it be even thought of?
All solutions I have heard of need space-- a lot of space.
In fact, when I built my house, I had a small extra sink put in the kitchen where I planned to wash my rice/veg etc --no vim/detergent. This sink had a drain that simply led to my small back garden. I was very pleased with my design sure that I didn't need sand filter/soak pit etc for this.
I moved in and used this sink for about a month. Soon every time the breeze came through my back window, I could smell something rotting. Sure enough-the drain. I promptly connected the drain to my regular drainage.
I do not have enough space for a grey water treatment system, which is why I had left my washing machine drain alone , but wash water from rice/dal I thought would not need treatment.
Well it does!
Lesson learnt, there are no easy solutions.

Friday, 28 January 2011

A must-see hoarding

This is a verbatim reproduction of a hoarding advertising Oakridge School. I saw this huge hoarding beside a flyover, a few days back, but waited till I could get the exact words. Today I passed by this place again and noted the exact words, believe me.
"16 Nobel Laureates now faculty to Oakridgers at Stanford." (don't miss the NOW)
I haven't made up my mind whether I find it funny, atrocious or plain stupid.

Friday, 21 January 2011

IISER again

The IISER students I met were from Pune. I checked all the IISER websites. Mohali did not load. It's only Pune that has this system of no major. Tvm and Kolkatta have 2 yrs of courses in all subjects and in the third year, the student chooses his/her major.
The IISER Pune grads are not eligible to teach in any college in India. Of course I am sure no one who graduates from IISER will want to teach in a college in India, but the point is the govt should encourage them to do so since these IISERs were setup with the aim of improving science education in our country. The fact that the institution itself is making it impossible for the one odd idealistic graduate who wants to provide quality teaching at one of the colleges in India, is defeating the goal with which these Instts were setup.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


Today I met some students from IISER who are conducting their student-run test-- a sort of science talent test.
It seems they do their 5 year course with no majors. They just choose courses they like and do them. This may sound good, but it will lead to a good outcome ONLY if the student is very savvy from his 1st sem. For every course he plans to do by the end of his 5th year, he must plan in the 1st year, do the prerequisites and then progress. I am sure no one has this vision at 18.
If after his third year, he likes organic chemistry, but finds he has not done Chem 211 or whatever that is prerequisite for organic chem. But to do Chem 211, he has to have done Chem 103 in the first year. So now where does that leave him?
I think it's dicey. Or each student must have a jolly good course counsellor...and what do you think are the odds of that?

In the WSJ on child rearing

Some of my relatives live in the US where they are bringing up their children. One thing that strikes me is that they never reprimand their children for wrong-doing, and for every small thing the kid does, they lavish extravagant praise. Children as young as 3 do know when they have done something wrong (even dogs do). So some form of reprimanding must be done.
As for extravagant praise, by the time they are 8 or 10, they too can see it is not merited....picking up clothes from the floor does not merit a national award. I think such spurious praise damages self esteem as much as denigration. Children have no motivation to improve.
Of course the other extreme is dangerous notwithstanding what Amy Chua says.
I have brought up two fairly balanced, fairly happy children. I still have no idea how it must be done, but one thing I am sure-- there is no model, no procedure, no right and wrong way for bringing up children.
From my Inbox

Dear Sir/Madam,

Greetings form City Academy.

We are the Premier Coaching Institution since 1992, having branches in various state capital cities. We are dealing with many recognized Indian and Abroad Universities in offering Guidance, Counseling and Coaching for various courses from 10th to Ph.D levels.

In this context, we are very happy to inform you that we have been tied-up with some of the Universities as Service Providers in connection with M.Phil and Ph.D Programs in almost all subjects.

As such, we need a large number of Supervisors (Guides) to be approved by such Universities, to guide the Research Scholars of M.Phil and Ph.D Programs.

Hence, I request you to accept our proposal to be an approved guide in your Subject for the students enrolled in M.Phil/Ph.D Programs through CITY ACADEMY from time to time under remunerative basis.

For other Terms and Conditions, you may kindly revert back at the earliest possibility by attaching your resume and specifying your SUBJECT in capital letters under ‘HEADING’.

Thanking you,

This is a letter I found in my inbox. An academy that coaches students for classes 10 to PhD.

Which are the Indian and "abroad" universities that awards the PhD/MPhil?
Another question, how did they get my mail id ?

Sunday, 9 January 2011

IPL auction

I maybe old fashioned, but the statements made in all the news channels all through the last two days about who is sold for how much, sounds so terrible. I wish they would come up with an euphemism for the IPL auction. Actually I wish they wouldn't auction people at all, but if they must, please wrap it up in some pretty paper.
Does it not offend anyone else?

Saturday, 8 January 2011

chemical bond

After 10 years of not even seeing a book on chemistry, I interviewed for my present job. One of the panel members asked me to define a bond in one sentence. This stumped me since I could not think of a one line definition....I thought there are too many kinds of bonds and we cannot define the chemical bond in a single definition. So I answered in a general manner something that I thought did not exclude any of the different kinds of bonds I knew of. The person was not happy. He wanted a single line definition and he then gave me such a definition. I do not remember it, but even after the 10 years hiatus, I thought it was too narrow and excluded ferrocenes, and such molecules.
Now an interesting article .

Friday, 7 January 2011


When I was getting my house constructed a few years ago, the builders were ISO 2000 certified. So every decision of mine--where to have my windows, where to place the washbasin etc was documented, signed in triplicate etc. But at the site, there was no paper. The contractor and the masons decided what to do based loosely on some vague idea they had.
So my file looked wonderful, but everyday I had to get a window's position altered or a washbasin shifted or simply curse. That is ISO for you.
Colleges that get accreditation with a good grade are also very good at documentation. A NAAC A grade says just that.