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May 16th, 2016

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Welcome to www.theparticle.com. It's the newest pre-IPO dot bomb that's taking the world by storm. Now is a perfect time to buy lots of worthless and overpriced shares!
     What this site is about?

Internet is becoming more and more polluted with junk-mail, people selling crap, and businesses which don't know their place on the net. They're all trying to make this wonderful place (i.e.: the net) in to hell (i.e.: real world). Internet should be viewed as a place of imagination, creativity, and most of all: fun. Internet is not some really advanced tool for searching for people to rip-off. It's about searching, and finding, things which are useful, helpful, and promote the sharing of ideas. This is what this site is striving to become.

News, Updates, & Rants...

     May 16th, 2016

Ok, so this is going to be another of my crazy rants: there's no dark matter. Nor dark energy. It's all an illusion.

Let's take a look at ``Spacetime tells matter how to move; matter tells spacetime how to curve.'' Or does it? Consider Gravitational waves... that's pretty much proof that we can have an indentation of spacetime fly across the universe at the speed of light without having any matter flying along with it...

Now consider Standing waves, and imagine that somehow (forget how for the moment) we managed to setup a standing gravitational wave...

What would it look like? A dent in spacetime without matter...

What if some nearby matter just happened to be in the vicinity---lets picture it falling into the dent and forming say a galaxy, with the supermassive black hole at the center.

The resulting situation would appear like the galaxy has a much bigger mass---because it's ``creating'' this massive spacetime dent that it is right in the center of---and there isn't enough matter in the galaxy to explain such a spacetime dent...

So we (well, scientists) imagine dark matter!!! How would we find the dark matter particle if it's the curvature of space time that's causing us to think that there's dark matter?

Similarly, are black holes objects at all, or can we just think of them holes in spacetime? The objects are never getting out that, and besides the curvature of spacetime, what else is there? (e.g. would we be looking for black-hole particles that are creating the curvature of spacetime near a black hole?).

Similarly, waves want to spread out---making it appear like the indentations in space are moving away from each other... something we can label as dark energy.

- Alex; 20160516
May 16th at wikipedia...

     May 9th, 2016

Pulled a tick out of my side... Must've got it during BBQ :-/

Can't remember ever being bitten by a tick before. They're weird animals. Half the body of the bug digs into the skin, and the other half is wiggling legs... urgh. Pulled it out, disinfected the area, put Neosporin, etc., and googled for symptoms to watch for...


- Alex; 20160509

     May 8th, 2016

Went BBQ in Harriman State Park. Not too cold, but just cold enough not to be completely comfortable.

Had a very hard time starting a fire. Most of the wood was damp, and didn't have charcoal... and starting a fire with damp wood (and some napkins) is surprisingly difficult.

- Alex; 20160508

     May 2nd, 2016

Back in NYC...

- Alex; 20160502

     May 1st, 2016

Train ride back to New Delhi... on a late train. So hurry hurry hurry to get to the airport on time :-/

- Alex; 20160501

     April 30th, 2016

Visited the other places to visit in Bikaner... Junagarh Fort, and a few places I can't remember.

What I can remember is visiting the camel research center, and doing a camel ride around the place---and having camel-milk ice cream :-)

[Bikaner pix] [Other Albums]

Then a 10-hour night train back to Ambala...

- Alex; 20160430

     April 29th, 2016

Train ride to Bikaner.

Got hotel by train station, and a 30-min train back to Karni Mata Temple (aka: the rat temple). ``The temple is famous for the approximately 20,000 black rats that live, and are revered in, the temple.''.

Got to see a white rat :-)

- Alex; 20160429

     April 28th, 2016

After a six hour bus ride, arrived in Jodhpur at around 5 in the morning; in the dark, the place does not look safe at all... once things brightened up, the place looks great.

Got the hotel right across the street from the Jodhpur step well.

Started day with a trip to Mehrangarh Fort. Saw the blue roofs of the entire city :-)

Visited the `the clock tower of Rajasthan'... went inside, and saw the mechanism, etc., The guy who winds/maintains it was very friendly.

Had dinner at the Stepwell Cafe...

[Jodhpur pix] [Other Albums]

- Alex; 20160428

     April 27th, 2016

Started day with a trip to the City Palace. An amazing and huge place... Then did a boat ride to more places, etc.

[Udaipur City Palace pix] [Other Albums]

Spent the evening at another sunset point (another place on top of mountain). Then walked around Udaipur until the bus time.

[Udaipur pix] [Other Albums]

- Alex; 20160427

     April 26th, 2016

Train to Udaipur... Getting hotel in touristy part of town.

Almost cheated by an auto driver, again :-/

Went to visit the `sunset' point on top of a mountain...

Towards evening made way to the Bagore Ki Haveli Dance Show... An amazing dancing show.

[Udaipur Bagore Ki Haveli Dance Show pix] [Other Albums]

Then went for a walk around town---visited temple, etc.

- Alex; 20160426

     April 25th, 2016

Starting day at 4am---train from Delhi to Ajmer. Arrived around noon, got a hotel right by the station, and started exploring...

Almost cheated by an auto driver...

In evening, walkted to the Ajmer Sharif Dargah. Pretty neat experience.

There're virtually no fast-food places anywhere, except for Domino's---so ordered Domino's Pizza delivery to the hotel :-)

[Ajmer pix] [Other Albums]

- Alex; 20160425

     April 24th, 2016

Traveling back to New Delhi... pretty hot. Non-AC sleeper train :-)

- Alex; 20160424

     April 23rd, 2016

Landed in New Delhi, met Suneli, left backpack in cloak room, and spent the rest of the day in starbucks... Then took 7pm train to Ambala.

- Alex; 20160423

     April 22nd, 2016

...and I'm off to India.

- Alex; 20160422

     April 19th, 2016

Finished reading Learning to Love Data Science by Mike Barlow. Very fluffy book. If you don't already love data science, not sure this book will show you the path towards loving data science... It is a collection of essays on all sorts of "this will be great in the future..." stories, about how data science will change the world, etc. Not a book I'd recommend... unless you're really bored and have nothing else to read.

- Alex; 20160419

     April 11th, 2016

Finished reading [Early Release] Fundamentals of Deep Learning: Designing Next-Generation Machine Intelligence Algorithms By Nikhil Buduma. Well, this was definitely not what I expected of a `fundamentals' deep-learning book. And yes, I'm aware that it's only like first 4 chapters or something.

For one, it doesn't actually do anything fundamentally---it uses a library that google recently released---TensorFlow. So all the examples (so far in the book) are using that and only that (and they're in Python!). Also, no mention of the algorithms---just feed this into that library and that's that. Yah, I know it's an early release, but... not coming back to this book once published.

Very disappointed :-/

- Alex; 20160411

     April 5th, 2016

My new laptop finally arrived. Lenovo Thinkpad x260. This will replace my old Thinkpad X200. They changed a few things... some for the better. More ram is welcome (16gigs), higher resolution screen (full HD), and some for the worst: the trackpoint button was better positioned in x200. I was hoping the new laptop would be thinner, and ... the body of the laptop is indeed thiner, but the extra battery makes it just as thick as the old laptop... the arrow keys aren't very good (it's hard to touch them and know where your fingers are).

One nice thing is the claimed 21 hours battery life :-) Also, Linux seems to work with everything. Need to have 4.4 kernel---which required manual installation on Linux Mint. But once it's installed, it all just worked (wifi, sound, etc.).

Opened it up and swapped out the SSD for a bigger one... was the hardest to open laptop I've ever had, but I guess it wasn't meant to be user serviceable in the same way that x200 was.

- Alex; 20160405

     April 4th, 2016

...and back in NYC!

Happy Square Root Day!

In other news, finished reading The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande.

This is a very strange book. It's written by a medical doctor, so definitely not a usual business process book. This book goes over various medical mishaps that happen during medical operations and during flights... the idea is that when procedures get too complicated for individuals, no matter how trained you area, you'll start missing things. For example (book's numbers) about 6% of surgeries forget something inside the patient... Why is one in 16 surgeries "fail" in this way? It's not because they don't know what they should recount all the napkins, etc., after the procedure. It's because there are way too many things to do, and sometimes the stupidest things get missed. Same goes for administering medication at the right times (right before surgery, antibiotics need to be administered no longer than 60 minutes prior to incision---that often gets missed, as the waiting time may be longer than 60 minutes).

So the book highlights that one way medicine deals with complexity was to have more specialization. Like doctors who specialize in only one narrow field, since there's just way too much to know and care about...

Another way of dealing with complexity is to create an outline, a checklist of what needs to happen and when, as a mental guide so that all the important things get done during the procedure. Most of those things aren't stuff that folks don't know, it's things that often get missed because there are a dozen other things that are happening.

I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know there was this many mishaps during surgeries. I'm now a lot more afraid of doctors... It's like every other surgery has some sort of a mistake that causes complications. Most of the mistakes are avoidable, and are usually minor in the grand scheme of things (like not administering medication at the right time, not checking things prior to surgery, etc.)

There's also a lot of stories of airlines having issues... like the Polar route issues and ice-crystals in jet fuel clogging engine fuel intakes... apparently that caused a few near disasters before it was addressed (procedurally---if engine loses power after a polar flight, the natural thing was to step on the gas... which causes more ice crystals to clog the intake----the "checklist" procedure is to ease off the throttle and let the ice crystals melt away and unclog the intake). This is the kind of direct flight I go by from NY to Delhi, so... that part was extra interesting.

All in all, highly recommend this book.

- Alex; 20160404

     April 3rd, 2016

The primary purpose for this trip was to see Mesa Arch during sunrise. so that's where ended up in the morning. Had to wait for almost two hours for the sunrise, but it was great... Like two dozen other folks there with fancy DSLRs and me taking most pix via cellphone :-)

[Mesa Arch Pix] [Other Albums].

After sunrise, went on a loop hike by Islands In The Sky viewing area, then a short hike to False Kiva, then onto Arches National Park.

[Islands In The Sky pix] [Other Albums].

By the time (noon) I got to Arches National Park, there was a huge line of cars trying to get in... So decided to skip and go elsewhere. Not far from there (about 6 miles up the road) there's a Moab Giants dinosaur park---so spent an hour or so there---I wouldn't make it a primary destination of a trip, but if you have a few hours to kill, this is definitely worth visiting. Had a T-Rex burger for lunch :-)

[Moab Giants pix] [Other Albums].

Then a slow drive to Salt Lake City---the flight is at midnight, so drove very slowly, stopping by everywhere, etc.

- Alex; 20160403

     April 2nd, 2016

Landed in Salt Lake City, and rented a cheapo car. Apparently the flight was delayed quite a bit---which I didn't even notice (I passed out in the window seat, and only woke up when the airplane landed). The airplane took off three hours late, and JetBlue gave everyone a $25 credit towards future flights.

Set out towards Canyonlands, Needles. The idea is to do a huge loop somewhere around there, hitting all the major attractions, etc.

Got to Elephant Hill (that's 3miles or so via dirt road) sometime around 9am, and set out towards Druid Arch. Past Druid Arch, via Joint Trail to Devil's Kitchen, then via Cyclone Canyon to Confluence point, then (since was getting a bit late, and I ran out of water) via dirt-road back to Elephant Hill.

Returned just after sunset---didn't even use a headlamp :-)

[Canyonlands Hike] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160402

     April 1st, 2016

Happy Fools Day!

...and in other news, flying out to Utah.

- Alex; 20160401

     March 25th, 2016

Finished reading Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel. Wow, this guy is sure full of himself. First off, the book is well written, and does have a lot of very good points. You could even say it's inspirational. But the vibes are just... bad. Like really really bad.

For example, when you read Warren Buffett, you learn stuff, and even his business attitudes make a lot of sense, and he doesn't come off like an ass. Thiel does.

Here's just one example... Thiel says everyone should dedicate themselves 100% to make their startup a success... like, no lavish salaries, no contractors ('cause they're not dedicated enough), no part-timers, mostly everyone compensated with equity sharing of some sort, everyone has skin in the game, etc. All this sounds great in theory---like if you work for Facebook during its first year... you work on something you believe in, something that might change the world (from your perspective), and then economics rewards you greatly.

But then Thiel himself goes on to say that in *his* selected list of startups (his own VC fund!), those startups that passed all of his red-flag tests (that he lists in the book), etc., just about all of them fail. The VC fund is lucky if *one* startup succeeds... The fund that had Facebook, just about all other startups failed, and profits from Facebook covered all the failures in that fund.

So in other words, he himself selects failures. OK, that's no so bad, after all, he funds startups, and nobody is perfect, etc., but then... none of those vast majority of startups make anyone rich, and the employees are compensated with t-shirts and worthless stock! It's like he's saying, yah, go on, believe in the startup, build the future, change the world, get paid in t-shirts and stock, and I know for a fact that 99% of you will be out of business in a year.

Sure it works out great for like 1% that *luckily* (not skillfully) happen to be in a right company that goes IPO and they make it big... and then write books about how skillful they were in being in the right statup at the right moment in history...

That's pretty much it... in order to succeed, you gotta skillfully be in the right place at the right time with the right idea, and have enough money to make stuff happen. Then your chances of success are pretty high. But if you happen to land a job that pays you with t-shirts and sodas, there's a 99% chance you'll lose your shirt within a year, no matter how dedicated you are or revolutionary your ideas are.

- Alex; 20160325

     March 17th, 2016

I130 filed :-)

- Alex; 20160317

     March 16th, 2016

Did taxes today. Apparently I underpaid, and under-expensed... urgh. Oh, and I really don't like Obamacare :-/

But eh, it's good to get that over with :-)

- Alex; 20160316

     March 14th, 2016

Happy PI day!

This is the 2nd time I arrive in the US on PI day... first one was in 1980s. This time I arrive married... :-)

Though my wife is still in India :-/

Out of the 15 hour flight, I must've slept for 13 hours. Passed out as soon as I sat down, and woke up only for meals.

On way out of airplane, a passenger got arrested right out of the airplane. Apparently they got drunk and peed all over (and screamed at flight attendants). So there was much commotion on the flight that I slept through...

- Alex; 20160314

     March 13th, 2016

Driving back to airport :-/ This trip was tooo short.

Had dinner at Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba. Pretty nice place...

- Alex; 20160313

     March 12th, 2016

Doing a day trip to Shimla. It's cold, rainy, and yet wondefully amazing...

We did a hike all the way to Jakhu temple (the one next to the 108 foot statue of Hanuman). It was great. Got totally soaked, and were freezing the rest of the day, but it was worth it.

[Shimla trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160312

     March 11th, 2016

So... getting married to Suneli.

Arrived at the Deputy Commissioner's (DC) office in Ambala (India) at around 9am... and then wait wait wait and more wait. It seems they had to prepare the forms right on the spot---with typewritten (yah, typewriters!) forms having passport-style photos of everyone involved glued in (and multiple copies of those too!).

Then wait wait and more wait... then the one-toothed lawyer (not kidding, he really did have only 1 tooth) said he cannot be witness since he doesn't know us well enough (!!!that's the dude that prepared all the paperwork!!!) so had to scramble to find another witness (and another lawyer---who turned out to be an actual human being, very cool guy!). Luckily family friend was available to witness such a historic occasion.

About three hours of waiting and waiting and worrying that the DC might just drive off (there was a car waiting for DC to take him to another town), we finally got to see the DC, and very unceremoniously he signed the `certificate of marriage', and that was it... took like 5 seconds.

And then he refused to take the candy, saying he doesn't eat sweets :-/

But YEY, that process is finally over, and we're married!

- Alex; 20160311

     March 9th, 2016

Flying out to India... :-)

- Alex; 20160309

     March 7th, 2016

Finished reading Data Science from Scratch: First Principles with Python by Joel Grus. Yah, it uses Python (urgh), but besides that, it's actually quite an enjoyable book to read. The examles (yes, they're in Python) are pretty easy to pickup, even if you're not a python person (like myself). It has a very good intro sections on math, stats, etc., and has actual working examples of simpler algorithms. Very practical book---the theme of the book is that you're hired as a data scientist and you jump from problem to problem to solve stuff---pretty neat setup.

I think this will be the book I'd recommend to anyone interested in actually doing data science---yes, it's in Python, but, eh, there aren't that many data science with Perl books :-/

One bad part about this book is... Python, and not enough SQL. There is a chapter on SQL, but I kinda feel that 99% of the time folks should really be doing SQL instead of writing procedural code :-/

- Alex; 20160307

     March 6th, 2016

Went to Harriman State Park for a walk. Did the usual loop around red-triangle to Appalachian trail to red-circle back to red-triangle trail. Pretty chilly, and yet enjoyable hike.

[Harriman trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160306

     March 3rd, 2016

Finished reading The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. This is the first thing I've read by Hemingway (yah, I visited his house with mutant six-toed cats, but never got around to reading anything by him until now). Well, this short-story (it's a pretty quick read) is nice... very well written, engaging, visual, and captures your attention.

Also, I now hate sharks. Damn sharks.

- Alex; 20160303

     March 2nd, 2016

Finished reading Optimized C++ by Kurt Guntheroth (pre-print release). It's surprisingly very good and informattive---goes over important points such as keeping things in cache, avoiding certian library operations/data structures, such as incorrectly using std::string objects, and all sorts of tips on using map/vector (e.g. using fixed width character arrays as map keys instead of strings). Highly recommend, even for non-C++ programmers.

- Alex; 20160302

     February 29th, 2016

Finished reading Thoughtful Machine Learning: A Test-Driven Approach by Matthew Kirk. Not sure why all the bad reviews on amazon, but this book is pretty good---definitely above average `machine learning' book. Yes, it uses Ruby. And yes, there are mistakes in the book, and yes, it doesn't actually talk about the implementations of algorithms (e.g. for pretty much everything, it uses a library---so, no, there's no explanation how SVM works, there's just a call to the library...). There's fairly readable code for trivial algorithms (such as kNN, naive bayes, etc.,) but for the most part, I'd call this book non-technical. It's a good place to get your feet wet though.

The theme of this book is pretty unique---that machine learning algorithms need to be tested. Often it's just as trivial as doing cross validation, etc., but I've never seen a book focus much at all on this critical part of the process.

- Alex; 20160229

     February 27th, 2016

Mnt.Marcy snowshoeing weekend. There wasn't that much snow for most of the trail---crampons would've done much better overall, but, eh. The summit had some pretty high cold winds... Did the usual `loop' trail, starting at Adirondacks Loj, going to Marcy Dam, Colden Dam, Mnt.Marcy summit, then back across the mountain to Marcy Dam and the Loj... hike takes around 10 hours, with sections walking across the frozen Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake. That's the best loop in that area---amazing in winter and summer :-)

[Mnt.Marcy trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160227

     February 25th, 2016

Got old passport in the mail---ready to travel anywhere now :-)

- Alex; 20160225

     February 24th, 2016

While riding the E train from work this evening, some dude who was sitting next to me exploded. As in threw up. All over. No, not on the floor, but literally all over... the crowded train. Did I mention he was sitting next to me? :-/ Had to stand in the train for like 15 minutes with all..eewwww... stuff dripping from me. I really wish there was a place to wash up in the subway :-/

- Alex; 20160224

     February 22nd, 2016

Got a new US passport card... (separate mailing :-/

- Alex; 20160222

     February 19th, 2016

Finished reading (EARLY RELEASE) Data Science with Java Practical Methods for Scientists and Engineers By Michael R. Brzustowicz.

Yah, I know it's an early release, but there's like no content in this book... zero. You learn how to open files, how to read files, how to write files, etc. In Java. And then that's it. The topic list looks damn impressive, but most of them are just place holders for more detailed chapters. (so skip this early release).

- Alex; 20160219

     February 18th, 2016

Got a newly renewed passport :-)

- Alex; 20160218

     February 17th, 2016

Finished reading Physics for Animators by Michele Bousquet.

I wasn't expecting much, and it turned out to be a pretty neat book. It doesn't dwell on `animation' aspect at all---just a down to earth description of physics.

- Alex; 20160217

     February 15th, 2016

If day 2 was not planned, then day 3 was up in the air until I started driving. I was off to Death Valley, but when driving out of Yosemite decided on vising Lake Tahoe---so drove there instead.

There are parts around Lake Tahoe that have VERY deep snow. Higher than the car. Good thing it didn't snow while I was there.

Did a loop around the lake, and back to SF... to visit Mystery Spot.

Mystery Spot was all booked, and there were 20 or so folks ahead of me on the waiting list... so... urgh.

Off to the airport to get back into NYC.

- Alex; 20160215

     February 14th, 2016

I didn't plan this trip at all. Just booked airline tickets a few days before, and that's it. So mostly spontaneously decided to drive to Yosemite National Park---avoiding highway 120 (as I hear that's closed).

About 9 hours (and a sleepless night) of driving, got to Yosemite almost at sunrise. Got an amazing parking spot---right by the Yosemite Falls trailhead! Napped for a few hours, and then headed up the trail... About two hours later, was walking in knee deep snow on top of Yosemite Falls. Weather cleared up---it was warm and sunny most of the day.

I didn't expect the snowy hike experience---it was amazingly nice. I did pack microspikes, just in case---and they came in very handy (it's very slippery up there).

[Yosemite trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160214

     February 13th, 2016

Landed in SF. Rented a cheap car, which turned out new (with 34 miles on it). The plan is to drive to Redwoods national park... about 30 miles north of Eureka. From there, do some `new' hike I haven't done before.

About a 6-hour drive later, arrived in Redwoods visitor center. They recommended Rhododendron Trail (from visitor center) and then West Ridge Trail to the coast, and loop back via James Irvine trail... I've done parts of this before, but never done the whole Rhododendron which was a treat.

It's long, and VERY secluded. Followed up by West Ridge, which probably only gets a few hikers a month---it didn't look like anyone has been there in a long while. All in all, I got exactly what I wanted out of this hike... to be all alone among those trees for an entire day. Got back to car just as the sun was setting.

[Redwoods trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160213

     February 12th, 2016

Flying out to San Francisco...

- Alex; 20160212

     February 11th, 2016

Finished reading Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die by Eric Siegel.

Very good book. Has very little actual detail, but I don't think this book is meant for detail. It discusses problems and approaches from the 30000 foot level of business, and I think succeeds at doing that. If you wanna get a grasp of what predictive analytics is all about, and don't wanna get bogged down reading a dense machine learning book, then this fluffy book might be it.

- Alex; 20160211

     February 8th, 2016

Renewing US passport. Sent it in for expedited processing.

- Alex; 20160208

     February 5th, 2016

Finished reading Machine Learning: Hands-On for Developers and Technical Professionals by Jason Bell.

There are definitely good intentions from the author to make this complicated field approachable---but the treatment of some of these problems is very superficial. A bit too much hand-waving for a techy book for my taste. There are much better books on the subject with a lot more details.

- Alex; 20160205

     February 1st, 2016

And back in NYC...

...and off to work, and school :-)

- Alex; 20160201

     January 31st, 2016

Woke up early, got Taj Mahal tickets, and off we go. Quick-walked through everything---there isn't really much to see there. Yah, it's nice... but it's a tomb(!). There were very few people there (we didn't have to wait in line anywhere).

Back to hotel for breakfast, and checkout.

Then off to visit Agra Fort. There are some really nice places there.

Still have plenty of time till the train back to Delhi, so... walked around Arga... apparently once you get out of the touristy areas, it's a pretty dingy place overall.

The train ride back to Delhi...eh, there was no concept of tickets or reserved seats. The train was packed. Like very very packed.

In Delhi, met up Suneli's parents, had dinner and off to airport.

[Arga trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160131

     January 30th, 2016

Woke up feeling much better. Good thing I packed my backpack full of medicine (most of which apparently expired---I don't repack that medicine bag often). But eh, fever appears to be mostly gone.

Today is travel to Arga day. Got a sleeper train there and back, so could stretch out and relax during the very very long ride.

Arrived in Arga in the evening. Got a hotel literally next door to Taj Mahal (perhaps a 30 second walk to the entrance). Even the ticket booth is farther!

Too late to visit Taj Mahal tonight (they open/close at sunrise/sunset). There are no preset hours apparently.

Went out and about around Agra... got dinner. Since the hotel is right next to taj mahal, the cab dropped us off about half a mile away, and we had to walk to the hotel in the dark. Pretty neat :-)

- Alex; 20160130

     January 29th, 2016

Day of the ring ceremony (engagement ceremony).

Suneli and I dressed up (I got a kurta pajama, she got a sari and got her hands painted, hair made up, way-too-much-makeup done, etc.).

I probably got a cold after the Ganga bath---so pretty sick with high fever... but, eh, it's all good.

Priest showed up and did the ceremony; each of us wore the rings, ate stuff, etc.

Shortly afterwards I went to bed and passed out, probably from the fever.

It's worth noting that 1/29 is a special day: it's like my 2nd birthday. This is the day that I woke up in snow on top of Mauna Loa---having slept in snow in a windbreaker during a snowstorm. I could've just as easily not woken up, ever. So doing this ceremony on 1/29 is kinda neat... Yet-another-chapter in my life.

- Alex; 20160129

     January 28th, 2016

Traveling to Amritsar to visit a buncha places.

Kind of weird, but this is the first town where we had trouble renting a hotel room. Most hotels didn't wanna have anything to do with us (they all said they only rent to families).

First place on the list: Wagah border to see the BSF parade. Pretty amazing!

Then to Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple). This is a pretty amazing place---really enjoy the rhythmic music. The food was great (especially when hungry).

[Amritsar trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160128

     January 27th, 2016

Visiting the marriage lawyer day---getting papers signed, etc.

Apparently there are no computers, and everything (all the paperwork) is still typed on an actual typewriter.

The process is VERY involved apparently. First you do notice of marriage, which hangs outside of court room for 30 days, and copies of which are sent all over (including the newspaper). [yep, my name and address showed up in the print copy of The Tribune].

- Alex; 20160127

     January 26th, 2016

It's cold, but... took a dip in the ganga river... (right next to cremated human bones).

Then trip to Ram Jhula...

Then back to the train station...

[Haridwar trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160126

     January 25th, 2016

Have an appointment with US Embassy this morning; apparently I need to get a `no objections' letter noterized with them in order for marriage thing to proceed.

Today is travel to Haridwar day, to take a bath in the Ganga river.

Took a sleeper bus from New Delhi, that took forever to get out of Delhi... whole trip took way longer than planned, arriving in Haridwar pretty late at night.

- Alex; 20160125

     January 24th, 2016

Visited Lotus Temple. Pretty amazing architecture. It's made out of concrete, yet so thin.

Then off to Qutb complex.

Then to Red Fort, which was unfortunately closed :-/

Stopped by Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib temple, pretty amazing.

Then to Akshardham, which is the most amazing temple I've ever seen. The light show was pretty nice.

The security to get into Akshardham was over the top. Took like an hour to get throgh (no cameras, no cell phones, etc., and the guard touches folks in private places).

[New Delhi trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160124

     January 23rd, 2016

Off on a trip to New Delhi.

Met Suneli's friend, and saw India Gate (from a distance).

- Alex; 20160123

     January 22nd, 2016

Now that Suneli and I are getting married, we went to get stuff setup (get paperwork started with lawyer, get rings, etc.).

- Alex; 20160122

     January 21st, 2016

Getting used to the houseboat cold. There's ice on the ground in the morning.

Morning trip to: Muja Gund Ghat. Boring place to visit in the winter, probably very beautiful in the summer.

And back to Srinagar airport, where there was more security than I've ever seen in ANY airport. They went through the contents of my backpack multiple times. Even took my lighter, and questioned the amount of cash I had with me. It was just rediculous.

And back to Ambala. Talked to Suneli's parents, who are very supportive of the marrige idea :-)

[Kashmir trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160121

     January 20th, 2016

The houseboat doesn't feel all that bad in the evening---but by morning, it's pretty damn cold. This is certainly a summer trip place.

Day trip to Gulmarg. Walked around, made snow angels, walked to cable car, and took it all the way up Apharwat Peak. Day spent mostly walking about in snow :-)

- Alex; 20160120

     January 19th, 2016

These houseboats are probably warn in the summer. In winter, you can see your breath while inside. There's like no heating at all, and the bucket-bath boiler is not working---`showing' (bucketing) with ice cold water isn't fun :-/

Day trip to Pahalgam. What an amazing place. Horseback riding up that mountain was amazing---the mini-Switzerland is just beautiful (don't have a baseline, since I've yet to visit the real-Switzerland).

Now a bit on the personal side: I've been hanging out with Suneli these last few days, and she's perfect! So asked her to marry me, and she accepted (!!!). Suddenly the whole trip is very different.

Called up Air India to extend trip by another week---suddenly lots of things to do and too little time to do them.

- Alex; 20160119

     January 18th, 2016

Flying from Chandigarh International Airport to Srinagar.

Got the `Robin Hood' house boat :-)

Did the lake tour, with every single other boat rowing towards us to try to sell us stuff. One boat had BBQ corn (they actually bbq it right on the boat!), so got that :-)

Walked out and about at night by the river/lake.

- Alex; 20160118

     January 17th, 2016

Trip to Chandigarh.

On road to Chandigarh noticed Zoo (ChattBir Zoo), and stopped by there. Saw elephants, tigers, big-behind monkeys, etc. Pretty entertaining.

Then car-camel-bike-eletric-ride to Rock Garden of Chandigarh. Amazing place---everything really is made out of broken stuff.

Then off to Sukhna Lake. Boat ride and a long walk.

Saw the sun-fade (was waiting for sunset, but it never did) from the lake :-)

[Chandigarh trip pix] [Other Albums].

- Alex; 20160117

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