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Fringe Science

Fringe science is scientific inquiry in an established field of study that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories, and is classified in the “fringes” of a credible mainstream academic discipline. Mainstream scientists typically regard fringe concepts as highly speculative or even strongly refuted. So why am I writing about this highly debatable field? One reason is that all popular TV DVDs are out due to rains in Mumbai limiting time on the bike. Next, is to introduce people to some of the crazy TV that we watch. Do expect a lot of series’ to be covered in the next few months.

A couple of months back, Yooti and I had just finished watching Mad Men, the popular television serial, and were debating which sitcom to watch next. After doing some research on IMBD no conclusive decision was reached – anyways we still went to the DVD shop – once there I kept staring at the large collection of popular TV series’ available. This time around I was clearly looking for the sci-fi genre, the sales man recommended Super Natural and Fringe. In the interest of saving some money, I picked up Fringe (only 2 seasons at that time as compared to 6 in Supernatural – it is a separate discussion that I did end up buying Supernatural later). We had lunch and went home after that. Later that night we started watching Fringe, after watching the pilot episode we both arrived at the same conclusion….this is probably one of the best shows we have seen in a while. Here is the trailer introducing Season 1.

Created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the series follows the lives and cases of the Fringe Division, a Task Force supported primarily by the FBI; the team includes Agent Olivia Dunham, Dr. Walter Bishop and Peter Bishop. They are supported by Phillip Broyles and Agent Astrid Farnsworth, who assists Walter. The Fringe Division investigates cases ranging from transhumanist experiments gone wrong to the prospect of a destructive technological of singularity. They are supported by the members of a company called “Massive Dynamics” – Nina Sharp and William Bell. What makes this sitcom different from others like the X-Files is the meticulous characterization of the cast and the storyline; each episode can be watched as a standalone piece of content, but all 24 come together to reveal a plot that just boggles the mind!

Fringe actually has you questioning and debating episodes much after you have finished watching them – Walter Bishop’s character played by John Noble is unforgettable. Referred to as “The Einstien of our generation”  the character is funny, smart, eccentric and definitely the driving force behind each and every episode.  For all of you who don’t know who John Noble is – he played Denethor in The Lord of the Rings – he is also Artistic Director of Stage Company of South Australia 1977–8, head of Drama, Brent St. School of Arts (Sydney) 1997-00, has directed over 80 plays, including ‘Sons of Cain’ on London’s West End (1986), a freelance actor. Semi-regular in TV series ‘All Saints’ and a Voice and Acting Teacher.

Fringe is a DVD turner! Once you start watching it will take every bit of your will power to press the stop button on your player – an absolute must watch for people who enjoy science fiction. I am currently watching season 4 and some of the theories are out of whack! If you are already a fan, there are a bunch of comics published by DC that are prequel to the series and a must read…a word of advice, the series has a way of taking over your life……Finally check the image for the glyph keys as shown in various episodes of the sitcom – let me know if anyone has a solution out there….

For die hard fans, here is the opening sequance with the absolutely haunting theme.

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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Helmets & More

 

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The Avengers Shawarma Spoilers

Lately, everyone has just been talking about the Avengers. The movie has broken all records in recent times and made over a billion dollars in earnings.  People all over the world seem to have their very own Avenger story – favourite character and all; the bandwagon is moving at a crazy pace and gathering unprecedented momentum. As fans of The Avengers, and super heroes in general, I thought we should also share our Avengers’ story. Also a lot of folks have been asking us about spoilers on the movie, so below is one article which talks about both:

Spoilers first: There are 2 scenes – the first is during the credits; note, this one a lot of people just did not get. After The Avengers have defeated the Chitauri army by sending a nuke into their mother ship, we see their leader talking to a mysterious figure. The Chitauri leader says that the humans are not to be underestimated and to face them would be “to court Death itself.” And then the mysterious figure turns his head and we see Thanos, The Mad Titan, smiling. Now, for people who don’t know who Thanos, the mad Titan, is – originally a member of the race of Eternals “Growing in power and infamy as he travelled the universe, Thanos once met Death itself, as it appeared to him embodied in a female form. Thanos was infatuated with the being, and endeavoured to make himself worthy in order to earn her love in return. With an army under his command, he nearly destroyed his former home of Titan, declaring himself its ruler. He then sought out the powerful Cosmic Cube [known as the “Tesseract” in the movies], and a number of Earth’s heroes assembled to confront him.” We know from Tom Hiddleston’s interviews in promoting The Avengers, that Loki and Thor return to Asgard in the Thor sequel and there’s a greater villain at play which just may force the (not by blood) brothers to work together. It’s likely that Thanos will be coming to get the Infinity Gauntlet (synonymous with him) found in Odin’s Vault (Image below). This was shown in the first Thor Film. Also recently, information was leaked that little known actor Damion Poitier will be playing Thanos in upcoming Marvel Movies.

By now non comic book geeks are trying to figure what is the Gauntlet -The Infinity Gems. There are six of these gems – each has a distinct color and power. The green soul gem grants the power over the soul, orange is time, purple is space, blue is mind, yellow is reality and red is power. Each gem, in and of themselves, has a vast amount of power and grants the user with the power to control and manipulate each one of these things. When collected and mounted in a gauntlet, the combined gems become a weapon of unimaginable power, and grant the user control over every aspect of the gems. The wearer can warp reality to their fitting, manipulate time and so on. Not even the combined powers of the cosmic gods are enough to defeat such a weapon.

Moving on. Now, if you still stayed on after all the credits got over, you will see a scene where all the Avengers are sitting down at a wrecked shawarma restaurant – probably at Tony Stark’s insistence – if you remember, he mentions the same once the Hulk saves him from his near death fall. The after-credits scene is them eating shawarma in silence with Mark Ruffalo trying to keep a straight face. I am sure most of you are now cursing yourself, friends and family because they hurried you out of the theatre. Check the image in case you missed it.

Our Story starts where the movie ends. On the mention of the word shawarma, we all (Ashay, Milind, Yooti and Rachita) had a sudden craving for the same. On finishing the movie, we were all debating about where to eat. The debate lasted exactly 1 minute. The winner? Shawarma place at phoenix. We got on to our bike, the ladies decided to drive and we got to phoenix in about 20 minutes. To our disappointment, Maroosh – the local shawarma place was closed. The manager mentioned they would take about half an hour to open – so we decided to hang around, do some window shopping and come back. The window shopping happened at Hamley’s toy store where we went on an Avengers action figure spree, but not much was available. You think when a big movie releases merchandise should be easily available…..anyways. After what seemed to be forever, we went back to Maroosh and ordered shawarmas; note we ordered the non veg variety: Chicken, Green Garlic Chicken, Chicken Hummus Salad and Lamb. After multiple rounds, finally the craving was laid to rest. If you have an interesting story that you would like to share basis the Avengers do add it to the comments below – if you like Shawarmas but really don’t know how where to get them below is a quick recipe for this Middle Eastern delicacy. Enjoy!

Our Shawarma Recipe

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
5 tablespoons plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
4 (6-inch) pitas, halved
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato
1/4 cup prechopped red onion

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in 1 tablespoon yogurt, 1 tablespoon juice, and 2 garlic cloves. Add chicken; toss to coat. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken mixture to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until browned and done, stirring frequently.

2. While chicken cooks, combine remaining 1/4 cup yogurt, remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, remaining 1 garlic clove, and tahini, stirring well. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons tahini mixture inside each pita half; divide chicken evenly among pita halves. Fill each pita half with 1 tablespoon cucumber, 1 tablespoon tomato, and 1 1/2 teaspoons onion. That it, keep expirementing with different fillings, I am sure you will crack your very own shawarma recipe.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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The Casual Biker

The dictionary definition of Casual is “Occurring by Chance” how do I associate with this? I am a motorcycle enthusiast by chance.

To be very honest, I was not convinced about buying a bike, but my brother’s enthusiasm got the better of me and we went and bought the Bajaj Avenger. I did not even know how to ride a bike when we first got it; after a good week’s delay, I found some time to go and learn how to ride it. I was familiar with riding a bicycle and understood the way the clutch interacts with the gear and accelerator; this due to driving cars, so riding came easy to me. On the very first day, I managed to take the bike around the street where we live and back home without falling off it. From there, it has been about 2 months now and have been riding the bike on weekends; that is also if I wake up or am not lazing around. My brother, on the other hand, takes it for a spin every single day.

I consider myself a Casual Biker. I love owning a bike, but riding it is not the number one priority, not like I don’t like riding, I enjoy it as much as the next guy,  but I ride only when I absolutely feel like it. I don’t claim to be a biker or out of the Hell’s Angels – my lifestyle hardly reflects that. But since owning a bike, a lot has changed. For one, my outlook to people who own bikes, I always use to be scared of people riding like maniacs. After riding the bike, I am even more scared – personally I ride at about 60 kms and it is pure bliss, open roads in the morning, no traffic and so on. I forgot to mention I only ride in the morning. I have started appreciating the Discovery Turbo channel much more and now appreciate the work people do while they customize these monsters. My lifelong aspiration to own a Ninja and a Harley has also increased dramatically.

I am sure there are a lot people like me out there. These are folks who want to own a Motorcycle and also enjoy the luxury of riding, not speed demons that keep going “I love the speed” (trust me on Indian roads if you love speed you will only reach your death faster). A couple of things you should know in case you are Casual Biker – first get a bike that you are comfortable with and is low maintenance, just because the guy next door has an Enfield or Harley does not mean you have to get one. Trust me, from all the stories I have heard those bikes are planets where maintenance is concerned. Find people who have similar interests – more casual riders; you will be able to relate to them and they will speak to you about their rides in a language you understand. Trust me, I have spoken to people who talk like they are engineers and assemble bikes for a living (Good for them I say, but I understand things a little simple).  Visit the local Chop Shop, you will definitely find something you will like to add to your bike; minor customizations on the bike are awesome, low risk and give you another reason to ride. I don’t know why, but the day we get our bike modified, the urge to ride is much more. Finally, keep a good mechanic’s number stored on your phone; you never know when you may need to use it. Find a route that you are comfortable with and ride there, learn the turns and bumps, trust me it is very different from driving a car.

If you have never ridden a motorcycle, but have a casual mindset towards it, go ahead and rent a bike or buy one. It is definitely not a disappointing experience; as a Casual Biker, you will enjoy all the luxuries a hardcore biker would, but it will be more staggered and more by chance…

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Bikes & Builders

 

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The Photography and Bike connection

To start with, I think we are both wannabe Photographers and Bikers. At some level, both these hobbies are interconnected.

Let me explain. Both these can only be enjoyed to their fullest once you are financially secure – that would be between 30-50 for most people; the excitement and adrenaline rush one feels riding the bike on an empty road is equal to a great picture taken; like a camera, a bike needs constant attention and customization, this to fit your style of shooting/riding, both activities are social and get you to meet new people who share similar interests. The list goes on and on….

I generally carry 3 cameras when I mix both riding and photography; an Olympus SPUZ 565, Nikon D5100 and my handy telephone camera, currently it is a HTC sensation XE. It is a pain to lug all these around with additional lenses for the Nikon but the end result is definitely worth the effort. I would like to emphasize all hobbies or past times do require effort; people generally have a perception that one can pick up a hobby and magically he will find Utopia! Reality check does not happen………..you have to put in effort. That being said, I have been learning about photography for about 4 years now. The facilitation started pretty much after getting married and seeing awesome wedding pictures clicked by a friend (the gorgeous pictures were of the Mrs. I look scary on camera). Anyway, after a lot of R&D and debates, I bought a super zoom Olympus SP 565 UZ camera, read up everything there was to about camera and photography. To give you an idea I was familiar with words and phrases like aperture, depth of field, HD, FPS, Shutter Speed 1/2000, bulb, macro etc. From then on it’s been a snowball effect, pretty much live with my camera; I don’t take that many pictures though.

By now you are hopefully getting where I am going with this. Post the purchase of our bike, both my photography and riding have merged together seamlessly; the locations I discovered while travelling across the city are absolutely amazing. Check out some of my work in the gallery below. Beyond that, it has also gotten rid of my reservation with communicating with strangers. I end up speaking to people about both the bike and taking their picture; also strangers will randomly come and help you when you are juggling trying to change lenses while holding up the bike.

About the pictures – I generally shoot using the P mode on both my camera; this is where you control the aperture and the camera does the rest for you. I find pictures with controlled depth of field to be more dramatic, I try to follow the rule of thirds and general best practises but most times the discipline eludes me. I shoot because I enjoy doing it not because I want to boast about my technical genius with the camera. Over the last few months, I have found my zoom lens to be an invaluable tool; this especially when I am shooting from bridges or getting in a portrait from across the road. The Olympus has now been restricted to shooting panorama and macro images (the Nikon is just so much better). I am still figuring the ideal way to carry my camera stand on the bike… currently the bag I have does not support a stand. Once that is done I pretty much will be sorted.

Do share your riding experiences and images if you enjoy either of these hobbies. I hope to cover a lot more of photography while adding to our riding, food, movies and other escapades as we publish more articles on the blog. The street Panorama is where we live – do enjoy the gallery and leave comments.

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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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Lifestyle of the Not So Rich but Loads of Fun

The Classic Biker

First few image which comes to mind when you think bikers & bikes

1) Long Haired Dude with Tattoos cruising on this huge ass bike

The Outlaw Biker

2) The speed demons racing across the road on some killer super-bikes

Both of these images have an aspirational connect which is very evident when we think of them.

Today we are going to talk about the first variety – the one’s who the general population perceives as “Outlaw Bikers”, yup the same who you see on Harleys in movies, documentaries, youtube videos, etc.

Ok so why is this aspirational when folks like the ones mentioned are considered outlaws & are part of gangs, etc… To me, the appeal here is of the negative where in a few aspects help paint the complete picture in our minds of what we could be 🙂

The Classic Bad Boy: Carefree attitude, living life per second, lots of beer, sexy girls around, always ready to pick a fight  & most importantly, the fact they do not do anything but general chilling! Who wouldn’t want to lead a life like that? Clearly this has been showcased in movies since years & has help build the image and a substantial  hype around this community. One aspect which hasn’t been highlighted prominantly in movies and in any media is according to me the most important one “brotherhood & friendship” which basically is about hanging with buddies and friends who are like minded.

The sweetness of doing nothing...

Now we understand why all of us somewhere want to live the so called “biker life”. Who wouldn’t want to wake up, ride to your heart’s content, hang with your buddies, unlimited supply of alcohol… add to that the women quotient and life is sorted :-).

Women!!!

Having said that, most of us are able to achieve the same in spurts where we are able to chill, do nothing much, hang with buddies, get shit-faced, ride when roads have little to no traffic and have a woman to share things with. The only problem here is that the same happens very occasionally, may be on holidays or weekends conidering the lives we lead which from time to time get mundane & monotonous.

I hate Mondays and the basis of this article somewhere stemmed from that. Now I am working towards making the day exciting!!! Hopefully, this article will have a similar effect on you! Take it one day at a time…

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Trips & Rides

 

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