tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:/posts Brain Spill 2019-05-07T09:05:55Z tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1403053 2019-04-28T23:35:32Z 2019-04-28T23:37:02Z Punch Line

I sometimes share clean adult jokes that are too clever for a 2 year old to grasp. Sometimes it is fun to see the confused look on his face when he sees me cracking up on my own jokes. Yes, I laugh at my own jokes, moving on.

We're hanging out at a coffee shop and I start with the setup for a great joke.

Me: Vian, did you know that humans eat more bananas than monkeys?

Vian: What? They eat monkeys?

Me: LOL!! Way to ruin the punchline man.


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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1403048 2019-04-28T23:30:25Z 2019-04-28T23:30:25Z Conversations with a 2 yo

We are at the dining table. I take out the croissant from the bag and place it on a plate in front of Vian.

Vian: Appa, what kind of "cossant" is it?

Me: It's a plain croissant, Vian.

Vian: No. It's a bum-bum "cossant".

Me: Huh?

Vian: Look it (pointing to his misshapen croissant that looks like a butt).

You win this round, Vian.

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1388600 2019-03-22T03:10:56Z 2019-03-22T03:10:57Z Good people

Sempi and I read bedtime books together and discuss the story before he goes to sleep.

The story we read had a mention of illegal drugs. Apparently he didn't know what drugs were. So we discussed what drugs were and how some bad guys can sell drugs to victims and why it is illegal.

Suddenly Sempi drops this nugget of wisdom.

People are always born to be strong and good. No one is born to be weak or evil.

Friends who know me well, know that I strongly believe "people are generally good". I guess that belief is a genetic trait.

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1376914 2019-02-22T03:49:53Z 2019-04-06T04:59:12Z Got Problems?

Sempi (my 6yo son) and I have this tradition of sharing our problems and asking each other's opinion on how to solve it. We do this while we walk to his school. We've been doing this since he was 3. Here's an example from Portland.

Me: When I bike to work, I have to wait a long time for the elevator.

Sempi (3yo): You should just build a ramp to your 28th floor, so you can just bike all the way up.

Me: Alrighty then.

Back to present day, I was discussing a problem with him about my work.

Me: I have this big presentation coming up and I'm nervous.

Sempi: Why?

Me: There's going to be VPs and an Executive attending this presentation. So I'm anxious about it.

(Sempi thinks for a while)

Sempi: There is a fire pole at the playground and I get nervous about going down that pole. What helps me is, I don't think about it, I just do it. So you should do the same. Don't think about it, just do it.

Me: Whoa! You know that's actually pretty good advice.

I'm happy to report that I took his advice and I kicked butt.

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1372621 2019-02-10T21:48:00Z 2019-04-28T20:44:28Z Relatives

Some nights I read a book about Gandhi to Sempi for bedtime. There is an incident in Gandhi's life when he's thrown out of a first-class coach in South Africa because he is not white. I told Sempi that it was an injustice and it doesn't happen anymore.  He listened intently and nodded approvingly. The next night I'm reading a comic about superheros and he asks me, "How come everyone in Justice League is white?".

I stuttered to come up with an answer at that moment, cursing myself for introducing him to the concept of race.

Since then he's asked me to read the Gandhi book many times and we talk about the struggles, non-violence and civil disobedience.

Recently, his elementary school teacher did a fantastic job of introducing the struggles of Martin Luther King Jr. He was excited to learn about MLK and how he learned some of the techniques from Gandhi and Thoreau. So naturally, we bought a new bedtime book about MLK.

One night we had this exchange.

Sempi: Appa, how did the first person came into existence.

Me: (I was gearing up to talk about evolution, Adam and Genesis).

Sempi: Appa, if there was a single person in the beginning, then we all came from that person.

Me: (excitedly) That's true. Everyone in the world is related. You're probably related to Ms. Cochran (his elementary shcool teacher).

Sempi: (giggles) Hehe. It also means that Martin Luther King could be my relative. Hehe.

Me: Absolutely!! You know MLK and Gandhi were probably your great great grandfathers.


That's my son. :D

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1370005 2019-02-03T21:25:36Z 2019-05-07T09:05:55Z Manners my boy, manners

This happened a few weeks ago. The kids are having a funtime playing with their mom. I enter the room, which usually sets off the anxiety for Vian.

Vian: I don't need you, appa.

Yoshi: That's not very nice.

Vian: Go away, appa.

Yoshi: Can you say something nice to appa?

Vian: Appa, can you pleeease go away?

Me: Thank you! That's much better. 


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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1359409 2019-01-02T07:08:51Z 2019-01-02T07:08:51Z What do you say?

One of the ways we trained Sempi to say "Please" and "Thank you" is by asking him "What do you say?" after he receives a favor from someone. With that context in mind, this conversation happened in the car. 

Vian: Can I have that monster truck, Sempi?

Sempi: Here you go. 

Vian takes the truck. Sempi being the responsible older brother wants to teach Vian good manners. 

Sempi: What do you say, Vian? 

Vian: Vrooom, Vrooom.

Sempi just shakes his head and mumbles something that vaguely sounds like "Kids these days". 


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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1354089 2018-12-16T21:59:39Z 2018-12-16T21:59:39Z My Cup Runneth Over

Vian is having lunch. I'm still making a plate for myself. He requests some water, so brought him a cup of water.

Vian: Appa, this is too watery. 

Me: I'm glad to hear that Vian. The water is supposed to be watery. 

Vian: No appa, I can't drink it.

Me: Why not?

Vian: Because it is too watery. 

I walked over to him to check it out. He was complaining because I filled the water to the brim and he couldn't drink out of it.

Me: I'm sorry Vian, I will fill it appropriately next time. 

Vian: Yeah appa, next time don't make it too watery.


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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1351965 2018-12-10T06:01:04Z 2018-12-10T06:01:04Z Mom by any other name

It was a cold Sunday morning. Sempi doesn't want to leave the house. I'm trying to convince him to go out for family brunch. Yoshi is still getting ready.

Sempi: I don't want to go. I want to stay home and play legos.

Me: If you want to stay home, that's fine. I'm going out for brunch.

Sempi: Ok.

Me: I'm taking Vian with me.

Sempi: Ok, you can take Vian and I'll stay with Amma.

Me: Nope, I'm taking my wife with me. 

Sempi: Ugh! Appaaaa ...... Fine. We'll all go.

Me: Alright, hurry up and put on your shoes. 

Sempi: Hold on, let's wait for our wife.

Me: Hey! She's my wife, not our wife.

Sempi: Apppaaaa......

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1347899 2018-11-27T07:23:36Z 2018-11-27T07:23:36Z Answer Me!

It is no secret that both Sempi and Vian prefer their mom over me. Vian perceives me as the guy who lives in the same house and occasionally grabs him from his mom to change his diaper. 

If I happen to enter a room in which he is playing, he will preemptively declare "I don't need you, appa". Which is a wonderfully  heartwarming phrase to hear from your child. 

A couple of days ago, the entire family was in the living room. Yoshi was playing with the kids, I was working on my laptop. Yoshi stood up to leave the room, and Vian starts to get anxious. Yoshi reassures him that she'll be right back. I wasn't paying much attention to the surroundings as I was focused on my laptop. 

Vian says something to me. I half-heartedly acknowledge. Suddenly he yells at me, "APPA! Are you going to answer me?". I immediately sit straight, set aside my laptop and focus all of my attention to him. "I'm sorry, Vian. What were you saying, baby?". Vian replies "I was saying that I don't need you". 

Very well then, I'm glad you got my undivided attention to share that, <redacted expletive>.

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1347435 2018-11-26T01:58:02Z 2018-11-26T01:58:02Z I'm batman

Sempi's new obsession is playing police. Every chance he gets, he recruits me and Vian to play police. 


Sempi: Appa, let's play police. You can be the bad guy and I'll be police

Me: Ok! Vian, what are you going to be? A good guy or a bad guy?

Vian: I'm batman. 

Me: I see, so is batman a good guy or a bad guy? 

Vian: No appa, I'm batman. 

Me: Alrighty then. I'm glad we settled that.


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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1346308 2018-11-22T00:23:36Z 2018-11-22T00:23:36Z Hot Cocoa

It is freezing outside. We bundle up and go out to explore. When we got back to our lodging it was warm and cozy. Yoshi decided to make everyone hot cocoa. 

She brings the cups of hot cocoa and the bag of marshmallows.

Yoshi: Vian, how old are you?

Vian: Two!

Yoshi: You can have 2 marshmallows for your hot chocolate.

Vian: Yay! (and proceeds to grab a handful of marshmallows and dumps it into his hot chocolate).

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1346300 2018-11-22T00:01:27Z 2018-11-22T00:01:27Z Ok Wiretap

We don't have any wiretap devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo at our house. So whenever we encounter on in the wild the kids get excited about talking to them. 

We went on a vacation where the AirBnB had a Google version of the wiretap. So Sempi requested it to tell him a story and was pleased with the results.

Vian decided that he will try his luck on this device. Pretty soon I heard him screaming:

"OK! DOODLE!" 

"OK! DOODLE!"

"OK! DOODLE!"

Poor kid, one of these days he will learn how to pronounce the "Ga" sound. 

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1331056 2018-10-11T04:41:04Z 2018-10-18T22:31:14Z What is your superpower?

Sempi is really into superheroes and police. The other day I was walking him to school and he tells me, 

Sempi: Appa, can I tell you a secret? 

Me: Yeah. 

Sempi (whispers): My secret identity is (redacted). 

Me: Wow, really? Why didn't you tell me sooner, I could have used your powers to crush the boxes in the recycling bins.

Sempi: You can't tell anyone. Well, maybe just amma, but no one else. 

Me: What about Vian? 

Sempi: He's too young, he might tell someone. Maybe when he grows up you can tell him. 

Me: Do you think when he grows up he'll also get superpowers? 

Sempi: Yeah. Even you have superpowers appa. You can be police.

Me: Really?

Sempi: Yeah, you can be police who stays indoors and we'll contact you for instructions when we're fighting bad guys. You know, since you're good with computers. 


*sniff* My son thinks I'm good with computers. It is the highest compliment I've received in my life.

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1327897 2018-10-01T18:30:28Z 2018-10-05T22:26:50Z Nice try, dad

Vian is still having trouble pronouncing the sound 'ka'. He uses the sound 'ta' when he tries to say 'ka'. See previous post for some examples. 

We're reading a picture book on the couch. 

Vian: What is this?

Me: That is a farm.

Vian: Farm!?

Vian: What is this?

Me: That's a chicken.

Vian: A Tciten? 

Me: Yeah a chicken. 

I noticed that his pronunciation of "Tciten" is suspiciously close to how he would pronounce "Kitchen". 

So I figured I'll take this opportunity to troll him using cognitive dissonance.

Me: Where is Amma?

Vian: Over there (points to Kitchen).

Me: What is that room called.

Vian: That's a "Titen".

Me: What is this called? (pointing to the chicken in a book). 

Vian stares at me a second while he figures out my trap.

Vian: It's a dut (duck). 

Once again I'm outsmarted by a two-year-old. Never been prouder. 

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1317724 2018-09-03T01:23:55Z 2018-09-10T08:04:41Z Conversations with a 3yo

We're visiting India and the kids are playing with my brother's son, Thiralon (the 3yo protagonist). He's a matter of fact guy who is unintentionally hilarious. 

---

The phone rings at home and Thiralon picks up the phone. It's his grandpa calling. 

Grandpa: Hi Thiralon, how are you? 

Thiralon: I'm fine.

Grandpa: What are you doing? 

Thiralon: Right now I'm talking to you on the phone. 

---

He's a rambunctious kid who loves to smash things. He has just smashed down a pillow fort. I'm trying to get him to admit he smashed it.

Me: Thiralon, what happened to the fort? 

Thiralon: It broke down.

Me: How did it break?

Thiralon: It broke with a kaboom! 

Me: LOL! Of course, it did. 

---

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1313458 2018-08-20T04:47:50Z 2018-10-01T18:20:38Z Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is

Vian is quite eloquent these days. But he still can't pronounce the sounds 'Ka' and 'Ga'. Instead, he replaces them with the sounds 'Ta' and 'Da' respectively.

Here are some choice selections: 

Vian: Appa, where is my tar (car)?

Vian: Tan I have a tootie (cookie)? 

Vian: Amma, gone to yoda (yoga) class. 


I always had a nagging suspicion that my wife is a Jedi. The way she can change my mind in one sentence....

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1304187 2018-07-18T14:39:02Z 2018-09-10T08:24:42Z Zen master or a troll?

My 2-year old (Vian) is getting eloquent by the day. He is not afraid to try out his new vocabulary.

Yesterday we were playing in the backyard. The kids want me to find them a rake. I walk around trying to find it, muttering to myself. 

Vian comes over and says, "I help you".

I accept graciously and tell him that I'm looking for the rake. 

Me: I wonder where it is. (muttering to myself). 

Vian walks over to me and pulls my hand. In all seriousness he says, 

Vian: Appa, it is somewhere. 

And walks away with the satisfaction of having just helped his clueless dad. 

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1292848 2018-06-11T06:41:48Z 2018-10-05T22:35:24Z Social sites and emotional ups and downs

Note: I do NOT suffer from depression. I'm not trying to make light of the serious condition that is depression.

I just got back from PyCon. I had a booth for DBCLI (OpenSource project), I gave a talk about my work at Netflix, I manned the job fair table and participated in the sprints. People were coming up to me and showering with praise about my OpenSource project and my talk. It is like getting a lifetime's worth of positive feedback thrown at me in a span of three days. It was exhilarating.

I got back home and hugged the kids and my wife. My two kids obviously missed me and they clung to me for about 20 minutes before reverting back to being mama's boys. I really don't blame them for preferring their mom over me. My wife is just a better human being than me and the kids just know it.

This is where the hint of a mild depression sets in. I start to wonder why my wife and kids aren't constantly showering me with praise. I just walked from the bedroom to the kitchen and not a single compliment was thrown at me. What is going on? In a couple of days, the trickle of online pampering (via Twitter) starts to taper off. When you refresh twitter there are no more new notifications.

What did I do to deserve this shunning? Why do people hate me? These are questions that run through my mind before I realize I've become an insufferable spoiled brat.

It is alarming how quickly my brain got accustomed to being treated like a "celebrity". I now understand why real celebrities often suffer from depression. They live through this high and low every single day.

I am so glad I don't have to deal with this emotional roller coaster every day. I shudder at the thought of living in a world where I'm constantly praised for doing even the most mundane things in life. Where everyday activities are treated as accomplishments and complimented as such.

Having 18 friends compliment my breakfast. Or 23 friends fawn over a picture of some cat.

Not just any old compliment but a compliment laced with superfluous adjectives.

"OMG! That toast looks super delicious."

"That cat melts my heart super hard, it makes me want to eat my own eyelids."

You know where I'm going with this, don't you? Social networking sites.

Praising someone is just a click away. You can "heart" someone's picture, you can "like" someone's rambling, you can even spread their nugget of wisdom by retweeting. Can you imagine what will happen when all of that is taken away? Someone who is forced to interact with the real world and only the real world. A world where people don't swarm around someone's breakfast to talk about how wonderful that toast and scrambled eggs look. Heck, they don't even bother to take a picture of the food to save it in the archives for the future generations to appreciate.

If you eat a salad without sharing a picture of it, do you really get full?

All of this "attention" is addictive. Soon we're chasing after the next hit. A bigger hit. Let's share something thrilling, something shocking, something dangerous.

I'm sure the "big social" knows all about the emotional turmoil that results from this. But why would they continue to find new ways that make it easier to spread this fake attention? Surely, they're not just trying to maximize their short-term profits at the cost of desensitizing a whole generation of youngsters and sinking them into depression. Because that would make them cold, calculating, heartless, and evil.

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1263760 2018-03-21T05:33:24Z 2018-10-05T22:35:54Z Conversations with a 1 yo

Vian has more than a few words in his vocabulary now and he's not afraid to show off.

-----

I'm having breakfast with Vian. 

We hear the bathroom flush. 

Vian gets all animated and yells "Poop!" and points to the restroom.

-----

Another day, the same setup. I'm having breakfast with Vian.

Yoshi joins us with a cup of tea. 

Vian points to the steam rising from the cup and yells "HOT". 

Yoshi acknowledges, yes. It is hot tea. 

Vian: "Hot Tea"  (sounds more like hottie). 

Me: Yes Vian, you're a hottie. 

Vian (yells): NO!

Me: You're not a hottie?

Vian: Amma hottie. 

Who am I to argue. ;)


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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1262261 2018-03-17T05:11:25Z 2018-10-05T22:36:24Z Fun with dosas

I love dosas. Dosa is a south Indian dish. A better version of a crepe (shots fired) or a ridiculously thin pancake. Sempi (5yo) is also a huge fan. 

I'm making dosas for his breakfast and he requested that I make the dosas into shapes for him. He requested a police car. I was happy to oblige. 

Sempi: What is this?

Me: A police car. 

Sempi: It looks like a spaceship. Next time add some wheels to it.

Me: I'll see what I can do.


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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1262252 2018-03-17T04:24:25Z 2018-03-17T04:24:26Z Language and Thought

I believe that the language you speak influences the way you think. I don't have any kind of proof other than some anecdotal evidence. 

Recently I started noticing this in the field of computer languages as well. I consider Python to be my dominant language. I have a coworker (let's call him Aaron, because that's his name) who likes to bait me by pointing out certain lack of features in Python and how Ruby gets it right. Most of the time I dismiss his complaints as invalid because I never have a use for those features in my day to day coding.

Then it dawned on me that I don't have a need for those features because I tend to think in Python. When I am presented with a problem I think of a solution that can be implemented in Python and my thought process naturally gravitates towards the features available in Python. 

What I learned from this realization is, if you learn many different languages you'll never be happy with any single language. You'll always yearn for that sweet feature that is missing in your current language. 

Let that be a lesson.

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1250624 2018-02-21T03:09:34Z 2018-05-17T09:00:23Z git open - A small git hack

You can add a git sub-command by defining a new alias in your ~/.gitconfig file as follows:

The git open defined in the ~/.gitconfig is mapped to a shell script called git-open.sh. 

This bash script does two things: 

1. It tries to detect if there are any files with uncommitted changes in the current repo and prints out the filenames.

2. If the repo doesn't have any uncommitted files, it'll print the filenames from the last commit.

The git open alias is mapped to open the output from this script using vim. 

Why is this useful?

I can pick up where I left off the previous day by simply typing `git open` inside the repo. This will open either all files with uncommitted changes or open the files from the last commit. There is a very good chance that my work for the day will continue on those files.

A small hack to make life a little bit easier.

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1223609 2017-12-29T14:53:37Z 2017-12-29T16:46:04Z Conversations with a 1 year old

Vian is picking up new words. His new addition is "Yeah". It is pronounced with an emphatic "EYAH!" (imagine a Karate yell).

I like asking him random questions that are at the edge of his understanding and watch him say "Yeah!".

But sometimes he uses his "Yeah!" with such precision it catches us off guard. Such as last night when we were getting him ready for bed.

Yoshi: Vian, would you like to hold a toy? You can pick either Pandie (stuffed panda) or the fire engine.

Vian: Yeah!


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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1217559 2017-12-16T18:47:59Z 2018-02-09T04:36:07Z Words, Words, Words

Vian has been picking up a few words courtesy of Sempi. The words he has picked up so far are the ones that Sempi uses with forceful emotion. 

STOP:

Whenever Vian tries to take Sempi's toys, Sempi yells "STOOOOP" with conviction and distress. So that's the first word that Vian decided to pick up. Now he uses it with us generously. He can't quite pronounce the sound "ssss" so his STOP sounds like "TOP".

It's a catch all phrase for stopping anything that is unpleasant. So far he has used it to stop me from giving Yoshi hugs in front of him (jealousy). It is hilarious to watch him command his toys to "TOOPPP" when they keep sliding off of the couch or the table where he's playing.

NO:

This is the second word that he's picked up from Sempi. But the twist is, Vian says NO with a tinge of joy and pride. We've asked Sempi to ask Vian's permission before taking toys from Vian's hands. Sempi being the older, more responsible brother will ask politely "Vian can I please play with the toy you have in your hand?" and Vian responds "NO" with a smile and enthusiasm. It looks absolutely savage when witnessed in person.

READ:

This one, I'm very glad he's picked it up from Sempi. Sempi is a total book worm. He asks us to read a book as soon as he wakes up, while eating, while lounging, right before bedtime, even while driving (instead we listen to podcasts while driving). Now Vian has picked up on this and he demands that we read to him while he eats. He can't pronounce "R" or "D" so it sounds more like a "WEE", "WEE". He get so excited about this that he would keep asking us to read even while we're reading him a book.

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1199755 2017-10-20T18:08:47Z 2018-02-09T04:36:07Z 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

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1198102 2017-10-13T17:09:41Z 2018-02-09T04:36:07Z 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.

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1197088 2017-10-09T17:57:30Z 2018-02-09T04:36:07Z 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. :)

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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1191829 2017-09-17T19:03:30Z 2018-02-09T04:36:07Z 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. 


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tag:blog.amjith.com,2013:Post/1190879 2017-09-13T06:03:07Z 2018-02-09T04:36:07Z 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

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