Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why I want to be a cat in my next birth?

When people who believe in life after death asks me who I want to be in my next life, I say cat. Why?

Because cats, they are the beings I love most in this life. Refer to my home to know why I am a feline aficionado.

Yes, I want to be a cat.

Because I love to be dynamic in my life. I always love the dynamicity, the change in me, try different things and to adapt with the reason why I changed. Being a cat would be just amazing, Changing into an altogether different perspective, an identity matchless to the material universe defined by human. Playful with anything I like, arrogant to the everything I hate, forgetting what has happened and possessing no grudge, adapting to an altogether different environment, play the prey before it's death or consumption, play the life to it is fullest...that is a cat, the most wonderful being on this planet. Cats, they are the model beings for the 'neutrality' as per the human perception are concerned.

Do I think being faithful matters much? NO, rules of nature are something else, hence dogs aren't my favorite.

Yes, I want to be a cat.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

How to recover and archive hidden flickr photos if you are not a pro user?

Flickr is unarguably most popular photo site in the world. I have been using it from 2003 but unfortunately I could never change my subscription to paid 'Pro' status due to economical constraints. Successive to the Yahoo take over, Flickr has changed it's policy for free users by limiting the number of photos to 200. This means that though you can very well upload 20 MB each month for any long period, only last 200 photos are accessible through flickr site.

After seeing disappearance of thousands of my old photos that I have been uploading since 2003 at the flickr site and could not be found on 'archives' section, I contacted the flickr team. This is how they responded:

On 6/30/06, Flickr Support <> wrote:
Hi Felix,

You will have to delete your newer photos or upgrade to Pro
in order to recover your older, hidden photos.


If you are a huge flickr fan and have similar difficulties in accessing older photos just because you have not switched to pro subscription, this simple trick might help you. I am not sure any of the leading hack-sites like Life Hacker have published similar description.

First of all, go to Flickrleach or Flickrgrab (that site looks like a mirror of Flickrleech). Select 'By Username' if you have been using flickr before yahoo takeover. Or else select 'By User ID'. Type your User name (old users) or User ID (Yahoo ID won't work. You have to copy-paste the URL address of your flickr page). Now click 'Go'.

Now that you can see all of your photos no matter when you have uploaded, as shown in the photo below Permalink is here.

Now, select all photos by mouse. Be aware if you are a heavy flickr user, you will have thousands of photos and flickr leach too will have many pages (each page having 200 photos).

Now, drop these photos to your html editor like MS Frontpage or Dreamweaver, as shown below (in this case, MS Frontpage).

Now publish it if you like (have a look at my photostream), or just keep it by yourself as a secure archive of your whole flickr photos!

This method has only one draw-back. If you have some hidden photos in flickr that you would like to archive, flickrleach cant help to grab them. Any out sights on this issue are welcome.

PS: Some one might think why you need to do all these, depending flickrleach would be just simple to see your hidden photos. But no one knows when yahoo/flickr is going to change it's API policies such that flickr leach can no longer grab them. But yahoo cant change the URL address of your old photos or delete them, by breaching their promise gave to us years ago.

Lately I give a try at google's picasaweb and I found it impressive. Total upload limit for free users is currently 1GB and that obviously matters, but ability to make as many albums as you want is a plus point (in flickr, albums or so called 'sets' are limited only up to 3 for free users).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Name, that matters

Many (thanks to social network services) asks me why did I change my name. To tell you that, let me give you a little of my back ground.

In India, there still exists thousands of years old hierarchical caste system in which there are 4 prevailing classes where topmost class is known as brahman. If you look in to history, brahmans are in fact not original indians, they are a clade migrated from Europe and conquered native indians (Dravidians) a long long time ago. A Recent rDNA Profiling evidence traces Brahman clade back to finland.

I was born in a hindu family, aristocratic and priestly as it has a tag of brahman. I remember when I was young, my grandma used to say we are living gods and goddesses and I have to be very reserved while making friends outside brahmans. She did not even care to touch low caste people, and this untouchability still exists in many part of greater India.

Brahmans are vegans, and I was brought up as a pure vegetarian too. Till I was 18 yrs old I never even tasted meat or fish or egg. Through all those years of regression and confinement, I started to dream a world of more freedom and intellectual integrity. It started at the age 18, through the age 21, much reading and thinking transformed me to an iconoclast, an upheaval from incarcerating stupidity. I bushwhacked dirty ideological bondage to the perfection, that I ever dreamed of. Listening to my heart's whisper became an impetus for decision making. I haven't read bible or koran or any of those supposedly sacred texts, as I need no other succor than my own heart. As a free thinker and pacifist, I believe all religions are preposterous, and till date there were not even a single moment I remorse this detest (Could anyone please tell me a month where NYT or BBC not reported bloody religious conflict, let it be Israel-palastine or India-Pakistan or Iraq or Afghan or thousands of dirty genocides in Africa?). Religion, what ever you name it, do no good than terrorism and strife (haven't you noticed? I have a reason why I never capitalize any religious words).

I have been attracted to ancient Egypt for several reasons, the reasons that I have explained elsewhere. Coming to the objective of this post, I changed my name because I would rather be known by a name best depicts me as a free thinking individual. I chose Felix as my first name because it resembles the name 'Felis', the genus of cats and as I like the animation "Felix the cat". I chose my sir name Bast to emphasize my love, devotion and reverence to my mother goddess, ancient Egyptian goddess of cats, Bast (some call her Bastet).

My godly faith is in 'Kemetic paganism'. As opposed to 'Kemetic orthodoxy' where humanoid priest- 'Netjer'-dominated church still exists, Kemetic pagans are not bound to any moral code of justice and we have no church. Kemetic pagans are segregated nature worshipers with only one thing in common, a deep sense of appreciation for the nature and the cult once prevailed on the banks of ancient Nile.

I was known as "Vadakke Madam Sreejith" till the age 24 in which the first two names refers to my brahman status and last, my hindu religion. I thought it is senseless to be known that way, especially given how much loathe hinduism or the archaic caste system. Being incognito in a society where the name matters much to earn respect, helped me immensely to boost my self confidence. It was tough, I was unable to convince my parents on the motivations. They opposed me, but I did not care because I knew it well how much matured I was then and how much needy this 'name change' was. Judicial proceedings was fortunately not that lengthy as I was expecting to be, and finally I have become Felix bast. The immense joy and confidence I experience while signing my name anywhere, even today, are ineffable.

I believe change of name is an inevitability to any freethinking person. Further, let me provide you with an excerpt from the talk I had with my friend Mr Haison Harold, during sometimes in my 3 yrs of stay at Hostel 4, IIT Bombay, India.

Me: man, why are you a catholic?
Haison: because my parents are christian
Me: Why is your name Haison Harold?
Haison: Because my parents named me so.
Me: Parents, parents... are you still fostered by the fetal placenta, you guardian vassal? If I where you I would have thought I have been enslaved by my parents.
Haison: *********

Haison can be contacted here to confirm the authenticity of this transcript.

Mr. Terumichi Kawanishi had recently organized a conference on "social injustice in India" where he felicitated my courage on taking such a rebellious step in my life. I believe his comments are relevant to this post. Excerpts:

"...Mr Felix has done something which not many of us ever do. His revolt against obsolete Indian system of social injustice is notable and let his decision to change his very name be an incentive to all who want to be pragmatic in this battle against racial prejudice..."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Me and my cat, honest arrogance justified!

Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change

He was a man of great creative energy. His architectural style was revolutionary in its design. The Journal of the American Institute of Architects at the time of his death stated that "his place in history is secure. His continuing influence is assured. This country's architectural achievements would be unthinkable without him. He has been a teacher to us all."

Frank Lloyd Wright, famous American architect and writer said the above quoted words and I find it pretty much like my own life. It is not that I upheld a puritan philosophy, but honest arrogance is what I value than the humility which is hypocritical. I was much attracted to him, his words and his style such an extant that if ever I have to name my model individual, just Lloyd! For those who have never heard about him, let me provide you a brief sketch of his life, mostly obtained from the sources: Frank Lloyd Wright. America's Greatest Architect, by Herbert Jacoby, 1965.
and The Lloyd Foundation

Lloyd was born June 8, 1869 in Richland Center, Wisconsin to William Russel Cary Wright and Anna Lloyd Jones Wright. Even before he was born his mother, who was confident her firstborn would be a son, had decided he would be an architect. While she was still carrying him she decorated the walls of the nursery with engravings of old English cathedrals cut from an illustrated English magazine.

While at the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876, Anna Wright bought her son a set of Froebel blocks, a new educational toy which consisted of cut maple blocks of various colors in the shape of cubes, spheres and cylinders, which were meant to be assembled into various patterns as illustrated in an accompanying booklet. The purpose of the blocks was to give a child a sense of color and form. Wright quickly duplicated the suggestive patterns and was soon inventing patterns of his own. This simple set of blocks made a lasting impression on the young boy for the forms of these blocks would influence his life's work to the day he died. In an interview at Taliesin West in Arizona, just days before he died, he told Louise Rago, an art teacher from Long Island, that a child should begin to learn art at the earliest possible age. "Put blocks into a child's hands," he told her. "Let the child hold a sphere, a ball and get a sense of the universe, a sense of God." Again he was remembering those Froebel blocks which his mother had put in his hands so many years before.

Another strong influence from his early years was the times he had spend on his Uncle James' farm near Spring Green, Wisconsin. His mother's brothers had an enclave of flourishing farms in the area. Those periods spent on the farm instilled in Wright a lasting appreciation for the land with its woods, green valleys, furrowed soil and seasonal rhythms. Wrights designs would come to reflect a natural harmony between structure and the environment in which they were placed, an outgrowth of those wonderful childhood memories spent in the rural Wisconsin countryside on his uncle's farm. In 1911 he returned to Spring Green after many years absence and built his home, Taliesin, on two hundred acres of land given him by his mother, her inheritance from the family farms. The house was built off the crest of a hill and was constructed with local quarried stone. The effect was to create a structure which when viewed from a distance resembled a natural outcropping of native sandstone; the structure blended harmoniously into the hillside, a characteristic which Wright called organic architecture.

Another major aspect of Wright's designs also stems from still another incident which took place early in his life. As a youth, Wright read widely. While reading Victor Hugo's "Hunchback of Notre Dame," in a chapter on the architecture of that great cathedral, he read the statement that the Renaissance was only a sunset that man had mistaken for the dawn. This statement so thrilled the young boy that it planted in him the seed which would grow into the conviction that architecture based on historic styles must be by their very nature esthetically false and should instead be an expression of the time and places for which they are designed. Although Wright was not the first to execute a contemporary design, he would become its major spokesman and give it its distinguishable form.

This executor of contemporary design was a practitioner by instinct. He had little formal training in his chosen field. He was unable to afford the cost of attending an architectural school and the University of Wisconsin in which he entered didn't offer courses in the field of architecture. So he took courses in engineering science. While attending the University he witnessed the collapse of the Wisconsin State Capitol building which was under construction. This graphic lesson in building failure became burned in his mind. He resolved subsequent to this incident that his designs would combine good engineering techniques as well as fresh architectural designs. Wright's engineering studies served him well for he received basic grounding in the science of calculating stresses and in the use of various building materials. When he designed the Johnson Wax building and was confronted by state inspectors who claimed that his slender lily pad columns would not support the weight of the building, he proved them wrong by constructing a test column and placing ten times the weight on it that it would normally have to support.

Designs flowed from the creative mind of Wright faster than he could get them transferred to the drawing board. He could look at a site and envision the design even before he left the site. When asked how he produced such a flow of creative ideas he merely said with a twinkle in his eye that they simply rolled out of his sleeve. Many of his designs were never executed and many were embroiled in controversy—too expansive, too costly, etc. Controversy not only surrounded his work but also his personal and financial affairs. Despite many setbacks, Wright weathered the storm of personal and professional criticism which would have broken many a weaker man.

In 1932 with few commissions now coming his way, and having already made his mark in his chosen field, with his work given the recognition it deserved, he decided to establish the Taliesin Fellowship and teach the essentials of architecture to aspiring young students, providing them with a well-grounded curriculum of philosophy, sculpture, painting, music, and industrial science. He set up the Fellowship in the old Hillside Academy which he had built many years before for his two aunts, who had operated a private school there. In the mid-thirties he also built a fall and winter retreat for the Fellowship near Scottsdale, Arizona, to be known as Taliesin West.

Wright was never totally comfortable in the role of instructor, for he believed that esthetics could not be taught, but only exemplified. He felt you could help create an atmosphere in which the components of design could be realized. but the key to creativity lay within each student. Long an enemy of sterile uniformity, he recognized the fertile imaginative resources within each student which is the true product of the divine spark in each person. Once a student understands his capacity for differentiation his work can become prolific and his capacity to turn out a different design from the one before would become inevitable.

One successful student, reflecting back on his Taliesin experience, stated that he received a better education there than he had gotten at Princeton and Beaux Arts in Paris.

It would be a mistake to give the impression that Frank Lloyd Wright's career as an architect ended with the establishment of the Taliesin Fellowship, for after a short hiatus he began to execute some of his greatest works, beginning with the Edgar Kaufman retreat at Bear Run, Pennsylvania, more commonly known as "Falling Waters." This was followed by the Johnson Wax Building in Racine, Wisconsin. He designed and executed the campus of Florida Southern College, the Madison, Wisconsin Unitarian Church, the H. C. Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, among many others.

Just short of his ninetieth birthday, the man of "honest arrogance," who once told the people of Los Angeles, with a twinkle in his eye, that their town was much worse than the average American city, because it was larger, and that the best way to improve Pittsburgh was to destroy it and start over, passed away at his Taliesin retreat in Arizona on April 9, 1959. He had just completed the design work on the Marin County Civic Center project. This grand design would be successfully carried out in all its major components by his associates. Frank Lloyd Wright was buried in the Lloyd Jones family churchyard at Spring Green, Wisconsin, in the rural setting of his cherished childhood memories and among the low-lying hills and valleys which had first inspired in him his unique sense of architectural design and which is today still a major influence in the field of architecture through the efficacy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

I find this honest arrogance of Lloyd more like mine. Because of this, I have undergone many bad times and made many friends to alienate me, yet this is how I am, how I gonna be!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Taepodong and me

Now that North Korea finally did it, irking the powerful nations. I have always been a pacifist but I find no reason why to condemn the test done by the North Korea a day ago. North Korea is after all a republic with all the powers of a free state and the decisions are ultimatum of that republic. The missile is obviously part of a future offensive, but I couldn’t digest it why powerful nations only have to possess the arms. US or Japan have no moral or ethical right to speak a word against this latest missile testing of the North Koreans unless they disarm all nuclear and chemical weaponry in possession. They indeed have the right to impose economic sanctions, and I believe that in that case Pyongyang must have been well prepared to phase it prior to the decision of missile testing was taken. And I am in favour of such sanctions if any, that might limit their further proliferation of arms.

Yesterday in the BBC webcast(full transcript here), I saw the reaction of president Putin to the question concerning this matter. He don't believe the North Koreans have the technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles. I have been hearing this, equivocal statements from state heads all these days. Things get unclouded when they make decisions or deeds. I found it hilarious when the Russian media person read out a question asking Putin, when did he lose his virginity. He said the day was hazy but he could remember to the exact minute when he had it last time! BBC dare not to ask him questions like this as their archaic censorship does NO GOOD!

Back to the missile, my point here is that even if they have the right technology, developed indigenously or acquired illegally, it is their absolute right to possess and use it in this volatile world. But analyzing further in to this matter, I disagree with everybody who possess weapon of mass destruction as I dream of a pacifist world!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Asia Union 2006

I spent the last weekend (1st and 2nd of July) with Japanese students of Kochi university in the so called 'Asia Union'. When I got a call from Miss Ai masuyama requesting me to participate and give my talk, I commented that the very title 'Asia Union' invites location based prejudice that shouldnt be done in a university campus. Obviously she didn't listen, hence the banner remained AU when I arrived. Well, KU has so little foreign students if any from out of Asia , yet I have friends who are from Kenya, Chile and Poland with in this university. That was the exact reason why I strongly suggested her to consider renaming.

It was fun, being with teen japanese in the venue. Almost all were girls aged 18-22, and the organization was funny. I did try my usual culinary skills, with the so called 'Indian Pork Curry' and few really enjoyed it (believe me!). AU is more like booze party and watching soccer in the big TV in a group of some 30 people (but alas, brazil lost it and sweet, portugal made it). I talked about my IITB friends: Haison, Joseph and Vijayan to give a portrait of the real life in a typical Indian University set-up. PPT is accessible at my home page.

There I met this lady, whose father is an Egyptian. Wow, the first person I ever met with the real blood of Egypt. Well she IS attractive too:-) and the rest of night, I spent with AiChan, the coolest among all participants ;-) >>>>>>>>