Biking for Multiple Sclerosis

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#BaliBikes is back and this year, I aim to push myself further.
I promise to ride 1 mile for every $5 that is donated towards Bike MS, an organization that helps people with Multiple Sclerosis. Feel free to share this post and help it gain momentum.

Donate here: bit.ly/balibikes

Find out more: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS

 

Ice Bucket Challenge: Just saying

As a lover of science, mathematics, and basic well-rounded logical arguments, I find incompletely supported arguments extremely annoying!

Lately there have been a lot of people complaining about how the Ice Bucket Challenge is the stupidest thing ever. One of the most popular arguments that has gone undisputed in my circle of friends is that the Ice Bucket Challenge is wastage of water while people are dying of thirst in Africa. The inhumane living conditions in some parts of the world are no joke. However, the argument is, kind of, invalid.

Consider this, the flow rate in shower heads in the US are mandated to stay below 2.5 gallons per minute. This is roughly 9.5 litres per minute. Most of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos I have seen involved buckets which were sized somewhere between 4-6 gallons (~14-23 litres).

Most people I know wait a good half-minute (to 2 minutes) in the shower before the water attains the optimal temperature. It is a luxury most of us have gotten used to. That amounts to the wastage of anywhere between 1.25-5 gallons (4.75-19 litres) of water. I am assuming people perpetuating this argument have R&D’ed, theorised and optimised their daily shower routine to the point that their water wastage is far below the water content of the median ALS Ice Bucket Challenge bucket.

I am certain that most people I know do not have water consumption habits that are optimized to an extent where their water wastage on even a weekly basis is below 5 or even 10 gallons (~19 or even 38 litres). I haven’t even accounted for the average toilet flush (1.6 gal. per flush or 6 litres per flush) or cooking habits, or the several other tertiary activities we go about on a daily basis that (inefficiently) consume water.

As for my Indian friends that have attacked the challenge, I have one word for you: Holi! You may not apply cold water to the burned area.

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(Holi is an Indian festival that often involves people throwing color and water on each other. In some parts of India, like my hometown, it is virtually impossible to leave your house on the day of Holi and last 15 minutes without getting drenched.)

Now, getting to the water problems in Africa. Here is a map of Africa:

Africa_satellite_orthographic

You may notice that most places in Africa that are suffering from water deficit in Africa have easier access to water from the Atlantic, Southern and Indian oceans, Mediterranean and Red seas and other lakes and rivers within the continent than to the water in Europe or North and South America. One of the primary concerns with water scarcity is not the lack of water. It is the lack of water fit for consumption. It is not economically feasible to transport water inter-continentally, or even to purify salt water. Reverse osmosis is expensive.

My point is this: There are going to be people who are going to hate. It is the mere nature of social dynamics. But please just think through the arguments you buy into before you perpetuate them. Besides, the social media (accidental) geniuses that made this viral have done an immense job for the ALS Association. I wonder how much it would have cost them to pay for advertising at a comparable scale.

It is, without doubt, one of the most successful pyramid schemes I have ever seen.

 

PS: Some important links

To Donate: http://www.alsa.org/donate/
Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amyotrophic_lateral_sclerosis

Bali Bikes

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I promised to bike as many miles as the number of likes I received on Facebook. It’s not much in comparison to some cyclists, but the 70 mile weekend was a first for me.

An Alien’s Perspective: Breaking ethnic barriers

Wichita State sees a great influx of international students, and for those of you who arrived in the U.S. and joined WSU this spring, you’re probably still in your honeymoon phase. Either that, or you are slowly starting to transition into the next few phases of being an international student in a new country.

And as you start getting used to the way of life here, you might be more aware of new issues bugging you, whether they are academic or social.

It isn’t uncommon for people to notice social groups that seem to be constructed predominantly of people who share a similar ethnic background. You may have noticed this, or might in fact have a friend group consisting only of people with the same cultural background as you.

It took me a while to notice this when I started out here. My first few roommates were from cultures very different from my Indian culture, and I was lucky enough to get to know a variety of people and ways of life.

So when I walked into certain places and realized immediately that I was clearly a visible minority, it would make me nervous about whether or not I was welcome at that place. There were certain times of specific days that I would avoid some of the common meeting places because I felt unwelcome.

It all went back to the first few times I went into the game room at Wheatshocker Apartments, and I was greeted by pin-drop silence and roughly 40 pairs of eyes on me. The tension in the air was so thick you could cut it like butter. In fact, that might be how I put on five extra pounds. Needless to say, this did no good for my self-confidence.

“Excuse me,” I squeaked as I took off.

It wasn’t until a few months later that I finally mustered the courage to speak to some of the people from the group and realized they were just as confused as I was. We laughed the whole matter off, and that was the end of one of the most awkward chapters of my stay out here.

It is easy to resort to making friends with people you have a lot in common with. And sometimes, this can mean making friends who share your ethnic or cultural background. As an international student, you have the opportunity to meet people and learn about different cultures.

Sure, you might not have much in common with others at first glance, but an awkward first conversation should hardly keep you from forming friendships that could last a lifetime.

An Alien’s Perspective: Getting things right the first time

Thanks to you, I’m back by popular demand. It’s been a good winter for me, given that I got to visit my family for a short while. The semester’s begun and while for many of you it means resuming classes at Wichita State, I realize for some of you, it is your first time at WSU. I dedicate this column to letting you know the few things I learned about WSU after just coming here.

Basketball’s big: A lot of countries aren’t able to support a sports program that can get larger than life. Coming to WSU, I knew it supported a good athletic program. What I didn’t realize was how big basketball is at WSU. As a student, you can easily procure tickets for free from the University. Even if you haven’t watched basketball ever before, make sure you get the tickets in advance and attend the games. Your college schedule will get the better of you before you know it, and attending the games is a crucial bit of the student experience at WSU.

The food is terrible: If you’re new and haven’t heard of the phrase, “freshman fifteen,” you soon will. Very shortly, you will realize that the food served on campus is terrible for you. The protein content is lower than one would like, while the fat and sodium levels go through the roof. In a paranoid world run by a paranoid me, I would arrest you on grounds of being suicidal for eating the food on campus.

If you’re living in the dorms, there’s a shuttle service that goes to Dillons and Wal-Mart frequently. Get your own groceries and start cooking your own healthy food. Don’t make excuses for yourself by saying you have no experience in cooking. The solution to that is simple: watch YouTube videos and grab a copy of The Sunflower on Thursdays.

What’s the worst that could happen? You might end up burning down the dorms. At least you’ll look fabulous from eating healthier when you’re running out of the burning building.

An Alien's Perspective - Welcome Spring 2014

Time management: The education system in the country I come from is different in several ways than the system at WSU. Everyone back home shared the same timetable. We had classes at the same time and went to bed at the same time. So when I came here, I realized that I was inferior at time management. Don’t let that happen to you, and make sure you plan your schedule well in advance and stick to it. It’s one of your most valuable assets.

It’s good to be back, and I wish you the best in your endeavors this semester.

What I think about Facebook acquiring Whatsapp

I see several people making jokes about Facebook’s recent purchase. While some people seem to have been following the chain of events, a lot of people merely seem to have discovered the whole matter only now. So here’s a dumbed down version of what is actually happening.

If you google ‘Facebook user decline report’, you should come across at least a dozen legitimate news sources that should get you caught up with the strong suspicion that Facebook’s seeing a decline in users. Now though the number of Facebook accounts might be increasing by the day, the decrease can be measured in terms of the net time spent on the site per month. Also there are strong hints that point out a decline in younger users. There’s strong indication that as more and more people are grasping the concept of social media, and with the increase of mobile access, there are more parents and grandparents joining the social media giant.

As a recent victim of this phenomenon, I instantly see the appeal of leaving Facebook. Combined with this, the fact that several more private social media solutions like Whatsapp, Viber, Snapchat, etc. only make it easier for younger users to migrate to social networks that protect their privacy. Facebook’s ever-fluctuating privacy policy hasn’t helped the case.

Facbook acquires whatsapp

Enter Whatsapp. What started out as a simple app that cut out the cost of international texting tariffs, slowly grew due to its operating ethics. I’ve only looked at it as a mere texting app replacement, the application has gained immense popularity in certain parts of the world as a legitimate social network, one that is more private, and simply more comfortable to live in. At $1.00 a year after the first year, it’s an inexpensive juggernaut hurtling towards a time-local success.

From Facebook’s perspective, if you can’t beat them, you join them. And that’s exactly what has happened. By acquiring Whatsapp, Facebook will be able to keep its place as the dominant social media solution. They did this with Instagram as well, and I can only hope they will have the decency to not change the way Whatsapp works.

It’s been a good two years of being a Whatsapp user for me. I am desperately looking at other solutions to have a texting solution that will not mean giving up what is left of my privacy.

Hello Viber?

Final Friday shows off Wichita’s culture

Compared to New York and San Francisco, Wichita may seem devoid of culture. But on the last Friday of every month, the city comes alive with vibrant local art.

Ever since it began in April 2009, the Final Friday events take place on the last Friday of every month. The event features a variety of artists- professionals, amateurs and students. During the event, several art galleries, museums, restaurants and retailers participate by opening up to the public and displaying visual artwork like paintings, photographs, sculptures and installations.

“Final Fridays are fun,” said Melinda Sudbrink, a fine arts sophomore at WSU. “It is inexpensive and a good chance to expose yourself to all types and forms of art.”

Since it features several artists, the wide range of artwork appeals to multiple demographics. Apart from benefiting the average art patron, Final Friday is quite important to art students who are seeking avenues to display their work and have their work received by a significantly large audience.

“My experience at Final Friday is very warming,” said Matthew Eames, a Wichita State University graduate. “For a city as expansive as Wichita is, the amount of appreciation for art can be limited. When Final Friday comes around, it’s nice to see how many people come out.”

As a student at WSU, Eames participated in the Final Friday on multiple occasions. He works a studio resident technician at the Carbondale Clay Center in Carbondale, Col.

The hours of operation for different venues may vary. However, all participating venues remain open between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. There is no charge for entry, and some artwork selections may be available for patrons to purchase.

An Alien’s Perspective: To international students with love

Dear International Students,

I hope you are enjoying your stay in the U.S. so far. As an international student myself, I believe I may be able to understand some of the issues you might be facing today, and there are a few things I have learned over the last few semesters that I would like to share with you.

Seek friendships, not business cards: When I suggested that he go to a movie being screened on campus, an international student I met asked me if he would be able to make contacts there.

People you meet are human beings, not business cards that you use to your advantage.

You might be afraid of the future, of how you might do in college, or about your career. However, today is not the day to fret about it. You will need all the mental peace and tranquility to make it through college with flying colors.

You need honest, good friends for that – not the number of the HR department at Cessna.

While it may seem scary, do not stick to making friends only from your home country. WSU is an extremely friendly place, and people are really nice and helpful. It is a priceless opportunity to learn about other cultures and open your mind up to new ideas. For all you know, you might find a friend for life.

The money has been spent: And, when it is spent on education, it is an investment. The cost of education in the U.S. is ridiculous by comparison to most countries.

Having to pay heavy sums for fees was probably hard for you and your family.

That money is as good as spent for now. Worrying about it will only reduce your capacity to perform well in school. Take a deep breath, be thankful for today, and head to your classes with a fresh mind.

You will land a part-time job in time: One matter of concern to me was the lack of on campus jobs when I arrived. I applied to several places, and it seemed like all the doors were closed.

Nevertheless, keep calm and look for jobs. You can head over to Grace Wilkie hall by the library and talk to career services. They are more than happy to assist you.

If there no posted jobs that you qualify for, simply walk into every department that could use you, and ask if there is an opening. That is exactly how I landed this job.

Get involved: If you have not realized this already, it is important to be more than a textual genius. A good GPA is important, no doubt. But, your progress should not end just there. Join a campus group that will help you become a well-rounded person.

You could get involved with Student Involvement, or several other campus groups. Whether you join GEEKS, the SAC, the SGA, or some other group on campus, you will learn skills that no textbook can teach you.

Most importantly, enjoy the moment: As a control-freak who thought he had his life planned out to the t before his tenth grade, I cannot stress on this enough. Splitting your hair over what could happen a few years from now is not worth it.

You are in good hands, and you know this. You have researched several schools before you decided you wanted to be a Shocker. Get your schoolwork done on time, and have fun. Plan a trip over the fall break, or ask someone who is from here about places to visit around here.

I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors.

Tiger Woods and public speculation

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Tiger Woods and public speculation

I was told I had to illustrate for a column in the sports section. I ended up being assigned a story on how Tiger Woods was the best golfer ever. After half an hour of reading through what seemed like a youtube comment from an ardent fan, I was just pissed off by the lack of organization or logical construction in the article. I decided to make fun of the article in stead

Speed Art for the Sunflower

This is the first time I made a speed-art video. This was the cover for the Graduation Guide 2013 published by the student-run newspaper at the Wichita State University. The audio is terrible. I had to pick it off YouTube’s default tracks. Anyway, get started watching it already 🙂
Devices used: Microsoft Surface Pro and Apple iMac.

“Life is what happens while you’re on your cellphone”

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Cell phones and life