Life hack of a 5 yo

When I drop off Sempi at school, I walk him to the front desk where they have name badges for the kids arranged in random order. I ask Sempi to pick out his badge while I sign the sign-in sheet. This is my way of training him to recognize his name.

This morning he told me, "Appa, do you see how the safety pin is attached sideways to my badge? I did that yesterday so I can find my badge easily in the mornings". 

#proud-papa

It starts early

Yoshi was washing her face in the bathroom while Vian was playing with the bathroom scale.

Yoshi: Why is it upside down?

Vian: Appaaaa

Yoshi: Appa did it? 

Vian: Appaaa

Yoshi: oh, appa did it 

Vian: Appaaa Appaaa

Yoshi: no Vian, you did it 

Vian: (silence)

All of this happened while I was at work. Appa means dad in Tamil.

Shenanigans

Conversation with Sempi this morning. 

Me: I'm going to finish making the fried rice and then we can do our usual shenanigans. What do you say? 

Sempi: Yeah, you finish the fried rice and then we'll throw it in our mouths.

It was a wonderful morning. :)

Eloquence

My younger son (16 months) can't speak any words yet but he has no problems expressing himself by pointing and grunting. When he's hungry he whines and points to the pantry. When he wants a specific fruit out of the fridge he will reject all the other ones with a head shake and sometimes a shove until I offer him the right fruit. 

This morning I witnessed him do a gesture that can only be construed as "Look ma no hands". We were at the coffee shop and he was standing on his chair and leaning against the table and taking bites out his muffin. Suddenly he realized he wasn't holding onto the table but instead using both hands to grab onto his muffin. So he put his muffin down extended out his arms while leaning against the table and started shouting "Ah, ah, ah, eh?". He was quite pleased with his accomplishment. He proceeded to show off his newly learned skill a few more times for good measure.

Words are but a hindrance to effective communication. 


Classical Music - Getting Started

I started listening to classical music in my late 20s. Violin pieces are my favorite. I started with classical because I needed music without words while I programmed. Nowadays I listen to it for the pure joy of listening. 

I got started with Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I thought that was the best piece of music ever conceived by humans. I used to argue with my wife (a music major) about how Vivaldi was better than Tchaikovsky. I was mostly naive and a little bit arrogant. She mostly shook her head in disbelief and let me ramble on. But since then I've changed some of my opinions and I'd like to think that I have a bit more nuanced taste.

If you're interested in getting started with classical music here's a quick list of awesome pieces to get you started.

Concerto, is a musical piece designed for one leading instrument accompanied by an orchestra. There are Violin Concertos, Cello Concertos, Viola Concertos, Piano Concertos etc. Concerto typically has three movements. The first and last movements are typically fast-paced and the second movement is usually slower.

Symphony, is a musical piece designed to be played by an entire orchestra. Symphonies typically have four movements. They are a lot more elaborate than concertos.

1. Vivaldi's Four Seasons - Spotify

This is a collection of four violin concertos. My favorite is Summer. The third movement of the Summer concerto is just absolutely fantastic.

2. Beethoven's Fur Elise - Spotify

This is a solo piano piece. This is a very popular piece that is easily recognizable. It is vivacious and soothing.

3. Mozart's Symphony #40 - Spotify

This is a popular symphony by Mozart that is easy to follow and pleasant to listen.

4. Czardas - Spotify

This is a gypsy violin piece. I absolutely love this piece. It starts slow and methodical then bursts into this flame of rapid fire. It is fun to watch this being played. Try finding a video of a violinist on Youtube. It is worth a watch. :)

5. Carmen Fantasy by Sarasate - Spotify

Pablo Sarasate, the composer of this piece is a fantastic Violinist himself. He has many wonderful pieces that are an absolute joy to listen (such as zigeunerweisen, zapateado etc). Carmen Fantasy is one of those flashy pieces that is hard to play and wonderful to listen.

6. Elgar's Cello Concerto - Spotify

Cello is the big brother of Violin with a deep soothing voice. There are many popular Cello pieces (such as Dvorak's Cello Concerto) but Elgar's cello concerto showcases the beauty and range of a cello. Especially this piece played by Jacquline Du Pre is just moving. Even though this is a concerto it has four movements instead of the typical three.

7. Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky - Spotify

Swan Lake is a very famous ballet piece composed by Tchaikovsky. Ballet pieces are quite long since they are telling you a story and they last for a couple of hours. I've linked only the Swan Lake Suite which is a select few pieces from the ballet that represents the character of the whole piece.

8. Hungarian Dances by Brahms - Spotify

I'm not doing justice to Brahms by choosing Hungarian Dances. It is a light hearted collection of dance pieces that are upbeat and jolly. But Brahms' usual style is very heavy. His violin concerto is a good example of the weight of his compositions. I chose Hungarian dances because it was one of those collections that got me hooked into classical music early on. The popular ones from this collection are Dance #1, #3, #5, #6. My absolute favorite is #5. 

9. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - Spotify

Beethoven has a lot of popular symphonies (3rd, 5th and 9th). But his ninth symphony is ground breaking. It is majestic and powerful. It starts out a bit soft and slow. But it builds up to this wonderful enormous piece. If you like this style, you should consider listening to his 5th Symphony which is also a powerful symphony and equally popular.

10. Carmina Burana - Spotify

You have already heard this piece, trust me. Whenever movies want to show something epic they always choose this piece to accompany the visual. 

This is not a definitive list or a complete list by any stretch of the imagination. I've just chosen a few pieces that I like and that are easily accessible. There are more intricate and delightful composers that I have ommited (eg: Sibelius, Mendelssohn, Dvorak etc). Perhaps I'll do this more often if there is interest.

I would love to hear your feedback or suggestions about pieces that I've missed or pieces that you enjoyed from the list. Feel free to tweet me @amjithr

New and Improved

Vian is eating dates that I bought from the Indian store. He seems to be a fan. I take another date out of the package for myself. Vian intercepts my new date even though his mouth is full. I'm curious to see his next action. He takes the old date out of his mouth and shoves it into my mouth and then proceeds to eat his new one. 

Tugging at Heartstrings

We're all having dinner as a family.

Sempi is complaining about the food. He eats a little, here and there. Yoshi warns him to eat well or he might get hungry later. He doesn't pay any attention. 

Dinner is over and he's ready for bed. Yoshi is reading him a story. Sempi declares he's hungry now.

Yoshi: You should have eaten well when we were all having dinner.

Sempi: I'm hungry. 

Yoshi: It's not dinner time. We just brushed your teeth. Go to sleep Sempi.

Sempi: I don't know why you're making me starve.

-----

Naturally, he's now out of the bedroom eating an orange. 

The boy just has a way with words. 

Goodbye, Portland

It was a dark and stormy evening. The rain was pouring down. A young couple pulled into an apartment complex in the middle of Portland. The wife was pregnant and the husband was clueless (as always). Despite his cluelessness, they thrived in the city. They made new friends and established their roots. The husband sprouted gray hairs and the wife grew motherly. Before they knew it, five years have gone by. With a new kid in tow and a toddler running ahead, they're off to a new city to start anew.

For anyone confused by that paragraph, that's my way of saying we're no longer in Portland. I'm incredibly thankful to NewRelic for bringing me to Portland and raising me into an adult. I've forged friendships that'll last my lifetime. I created things that marked my name in the sand. I found a mentor who accelerated my career growth. I met coworkers who became best friends and confidants. I met humans who were caring and helpful. Thank you Portland, for enriching our lives. 

I'm off to the Bay Area to work for Netflix. I'm sure the future holds wonderful opportunities, I'll always remember Portland as the city that doubled our family. Once a hippie, always ....

Stealing words

I'm playing Tamil songs on the computer and busting my moves

Sempi: Appa why does this song keep saying 'poop'.

Me: Haha. It's not saying 'Poop', it's saying 'poo'. I guess that's not any better. In Tamil 'Poo' means flower. They're singing about a flower.

Sempi: 'Poo' means flower? 

Me: Yeah. But to be fair we had that word a long time before English. English stole it from us. 

Sempi: How do you steal words? 

Me: Ok. I was just kidding. Tamil people heard the sound 'poo' and decided it's such a beautiful sound, we'll use it to mean flower. English people heard the same sound and figured it's a fitting word for excrement.

Sempi: What's excrement? 

Me: Sigh...