Stephen Hawking

And another one bites the dust. Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.

Dr. Hawking was a Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who pondered on and explored the cosmos. In 1988, he wrote A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. He was also the basis of academy-award winning film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne.

ASL. Before discussing his achievements in the world of science, I need to point out the most fascinating thing about Dr. Hawking is his strength. Dr. Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, back in the early 1960s. ASL is a un-curable disease that breaks down neurons to the point of minimal muscle functionality. For Hawking, the disease reduced his movement to the point where he could only flex his finger and voluntary eye movement. His mental strength, fortunately, was left untouched. He was given only a few years to live. He lived for more than fifty years.

The science. Dr. Hawking’s work can be quite intimidating if you are not a science nerd. I, for one, happily admit slight defeat in understanding science, but I happily admit matters pertaining to the universe fascinate me. I will do my best to provide brief explanations on Dr. Hawking’s work.

Post-education life began around the mid-late 1960s. He worked with Roger Penrose to expand the concepts of singularity theorem, which Hawking first introduced in his doctoral thesis. Their paper received second prize in the 1968 Gravity Research Foundation competition. Failing to accept the silver, the duo published a proof in 1970 stating if the universe were to obey Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity plus Alexander Friedmann’s models of physical cosmology, the universe would have originated from a singularity. That’ll show him.

In 1973, Dr. Hawking focused his attention on quantum theory, hoping to connect it with black holes. This came after a visit to Moscow to discuss these matters with some scientists, one of them being Alexei Starobinsky, whose work on black hole radiation was a precursor to Hawking radiation. Calculating it out, Dr. Hawking found that black holes fizzle out, seeping out radiation particles before finally exploding and disappearing. How did he figure this out? He was annoyed by the fact the calculation contradicted his second law of black hole dynamics.

Later in life, Dr. Hawking set out to figure out the massive questions of the universe, such as a singular nature to the universe and what exactly the fate of our universe would be.

The Book. A big believer in universal understanding of science, Dr. Hawking published A Brief History of Time in 1988 for the nonscientific folks (i.e. me). This book provides a simplified insight on the origin, structure, and fate of our universe. In 20 years, it sold more than 10 million copies. By 2001, it was translated into 35 languages.

Fun Facts. My mind is still boggling while trying to comprehend the concepts, equations and theories Dr. Hawking tried to work through in his career. Yes, this is counterproductive to his wish that everyone would know what’s going on in the universe. So, let’s stick to the fun facts.

  1. Dr. Hawking wanted the formula for Hawking Radiation engraved on his tombstone.
  2. In 2015, Dr. Hawking applied to trademark his name. Not sure if that ever got accepted.
  3. Dr. Hawking has been to every continent.
  4. Dr. Hawking would joking apologize for sounding American because of his synthesizer that he uses to speak.
  5. Hawking radiation led scientists on a 30-year controversy to figure out what exactly happened to things after they were sucked into a black hole.
  6. One of the only awards he hasn’t won is the Nobel Prize, but, according to him, that’s because Nobel Prizes are given to theories that can be observed and it is “very, very difficult to observe the things” he has theorized. You can read more about this in Dennis Overbye’s NYT article “Stephen Hawking Dies a 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos“.

Stephen Hawking may you rest in peace. Say hi to Albert Einstein and Madame Curie for me please.

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking at NASA’s StarChild Learning Center. Photo from Wikipedia

March 8, 2018 – #InternationalWomensDay

Today is International Women’s Day. I take this day with some form of bittersweetness, because, let’s face it, we as a society should be at a point in evolution where the genders are equal – men, women and everything in between. However, I am not the ruler of the world (yet), and definitely not the authorized signer of the world’s rules (yet). That being said, we shall celebrate the women of the world. I found this quote from Malala circulating online and thought it fun to share:


December 8, 2017

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.

Lewis Carroll

Snow fell in ATX last night, which hasn’t happened in more than a few years. It was magical and beautiful and unfortunately, not enough to make a big snowman. Just gotta take what you get I guess. Happy Friday!

September 7, 2017

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
“Nobody asked your opinion,” said Alice.

-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


July 22, 2017

How then did it work out, this? How did one judge people, think of them? How did one add up this and that and conclude that it was liking one felt, or disliking?

-Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Any time I see Virginia Woolf I can’t help but sing Edward Albee’s jingle. ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf, Virgina Woolf, Virgina Woolf…?” xD

Spontaneous Outings

It’s never fun when your original social outing plans get cancelled. But that also opens up a whole day to be spontaneous and explore new things. My best friend Siddiqi and I did just that.

We started first off picking up a vinyl player in the Hyde Park area for Siddiqi’s friend whose birthday is tomorrow. Next came the grand adventure at Half Price Books on North Lamar for 50% off day. Sold two overflowing bags of books for $24.50 (a major success) and got a couple CDs for close to $14.00. Siddiqi found two vinyls of Russian classical music for wayyyyy less than that.

We had lunch at MezzeMe in the Triangle. MezzeMe is a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant (I was overdressed for Peace Bakery). Siddiqi got a braised lamb (it’s halal btdubs) pita wrap with spicy tabouli and hummus. I got a Crazy Grain rice bowl with braised lamb, roasted eggplant, hummus, and sprinkled with parsley and feta cheese. It was pretty good. The braised lamb was spot-on. The hummus was amazing too and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like hummus. There was nothing really grand about the rice and the roasted eggplant had too much vinegar. If you get a pita wrap with the lamb, hummus, parsley and feta, it’d be a pretty damn good pita wrap.

Lunch at MezzeMe
He seems to be liking his deconstructed pita wrap.

MezzeMe is located on 4700 Guadalupe Street, #9, Austin, TX 78751.

Our next stop was Goodwill on Peyton Gin near 183. This is the only Goodwill in the Austin area that has a computer store. We browsed through the general area, finding old microwaves and a couple Sony cassette players. We then caroused to the computer store. I am not a computer nerd. I am far from it. I call the Motherboard a flat plate that pricks your fingers. You would think I would be bored as Siddiqi looked for power supplies and cables for a computer he’s building. Actually, I was not. Computer parts are like one big puzzle game with colors and boxes and shapes and weird foreign pieces. During the hour or so we were there I found a cool BG camera that takes lomography for $5.00. Held onto that for dear life. Also found an old Apple keyboard for $12.95. It’s got the USB cord and the traditional clicking sound and everything. The staff was super friendly and helpful (Siddiqi said it was because I’m a girl who was pretty dressed up and girls are rare finds in that part of the store). The supervisor of the computer store knew quite a bit about cameras and helped me look for more film cameras. His mannerisms reminded me of Doc from Back to the Future. Probably my most favorite part of the day. Who knew?

Photo Jul 16, 6 39 32 PM.jpg

Our next stop was Tours Les Jours, a Korean-French bakery in a small Korean plaza on North Lamar in Central Austin. Siddiqi was craving bubble tea and I was craving anything cold (100 degree burning sun is not fun without a cold drink).  He’s never been to TLJ and it was super close to Goodwill. I got blueberry cream cheese bread and a cold chocolate roll. Unfortunately, they ran out of tapioca for the bubble tea. 😦 We weren’t going to give up though! We went to the interwebs and found a place nearby called Snow Monster. We jumped into his Subura and drove off to this 4.6 star place.

Tous Les Jours is located at 6808 N Lamar Blvd B-115, Austin, TX 78752.

Snow Monster is a “build your own shaved ice” joint on Lamar and Braker. It’s relatively new, opened in 2014 by two Taiwanese UT Alumni. Snow Ice is, according to Snow Monster’s website, fruit extracts and fresh milk made into blocks and shaved finely to create flakes. You can add your own toppings, including fresh fruit, nuts and chocolate chips. You can also use soy milk if you are dairy free. It gives the same fluffiness as whole milk. I got vanilla snow ice with a side of strawberries and chocolate chips, topped with  condensed milk. Siddiqi finally got his bubble tea and according to him, it was delicious.

Snow Monster is located at 11220 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753.

It was a grand day full of spontaneous productivity and amazing food. The clouds came in and the wind picked up so it was perfect timing to head on home. Pretty excited to go back to Sno-Mo and the computer store. Hopefully I can come up with a glossary of computer-to-my mind’s version terms of computer parts soon.

30 in 3 Book Challenge Update: Anna Karenina

Update on the book challenge!

I finished Anna Karenina! My 771-page book has been mastered! Took a few months due to fluctuating interest, but закончено. I’ll be honest: When it comes to Anna’s portion of the story, I should have stuck to the Kiera Knightley movie. But that would be terrible. Though I have never seen the movie, I don’t think the movie could encapsulate the other literary aspects Tolstoy so carefully placed in his mega novel. AK is beyond a mushy story about an affair between a beautiful aristocrat and a Russian count. There’s gender roles, philosophy, questions of religion and mental states.

The romance between Anna and Vronsky is exciting at first, but as you keep reading (and reading…and reading…and reading…), you start to think if Anna’s choice to escape with Vronsky to the realm of love and passion was a good idea. You question her credibility and her entitlement. Then, you think “Jesus! I’m just like the Russians in the book!” when you realize you are scrutinizing the woman and not the man. In the beginning of the book, Oblonsky’s, Anna’s brother, affair comes out. No one really does anything though. They don’t exile him. They don’t genuinely scrutinize him because he is the man, the master of the home, the breadwinner. They pity Dolly, Oblonsky’s wife, but it’s only surface deep. And this was set in the mid-1800s! When I think of today’s world with female empowerment and equal rights for all, it’s sort of the same yet sort of different. Women can easily be breadwinners and masters of the home. The shame though when a woman partakes in “inappropriate matters”, like an affair, well from what I have seen and even judged, is gray area. You hear a woman cheats on her husband or partner and others instantly go “what a slut!”. In this time and age though, you also scrutinize the man. I mean, it takes two to tango. Way to go Tolstoy, you got me thinking of gender roles.

My favorite storyline from AK is Levin’s, the co-protagonist. He’s kinda the odd ball out in Society because of he’s not a rebel like Nikolai, his brother, or a bookworm like Sergei, his brother who’s the shining light of Society’s intellectual clique. He’s nowhere near a socialite and hundreds of miles away from bureaucrat city. He doesn’t fit in any category of traditional high society, hence the appeal. He also poses many questions when it comes to Russia’s future. During this time in Russian history, Russia hasn’t full gone Western. Throughout the book, many folks in Society switch from Russian to French to English. Levin refuses to see his homeland go Western, but knows his homeland needs to use Western technology to stay relevant. There is also Levin and Kitty’s love story that is adorable: lost love followed by suffering but triumphed in the end. I am happy that there was at least one happy ending in AK. Literary nerds say Levin is a self-portrait of Tolstoy, citing examples as Kitty and Levin’s wedding and Levin’s acceptance of faith. I can’t necessarily agree nor disagree since I have don’t have much knowledge on Tolstoy, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been known to do that from time to time in my own stories.

Spoiler alert: The mental stability was great towards the end of the book. Anna and Levin’s reactions to their situation greatly juxtapose each other. Anna’s choice to be fully involved with Vronsky sends her down a spiral of living nightmares, delusions and mental anguish, leading to her downfall, both metaphorically and literally. Levin, on the other hand, experiences great inner anxiety about his position in life after his baby is born. He even contemplates suicide more than a few times. But, unlike Anna, Levin finds the moment when everything makes sense and everything will be alright. He accepts his position and his faith and lives happily ever after.

I did love the book, again, mostly for Levin’s storyline. Anna’s storyline did bring a little relief from the intense economic, philosophical and self-reflection aspects Levin brought about. If I read this four years ago, I would have been all over Anna’s romantic story. Now, it’s like “you’re a rich girl with first world problems. You’ll survive (or not….cough cough wink wink)”. I would recommend everyone to read it. I would also recommend you take a longgggggg break from the Russian writers afterwards because it does mentally drain you.

Next stop, the French!

June 21, 2017

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Beautiful words from a beautiful book about a beautiful time of year. Bring it on 100+ degree Texas weather!

June 19, 2017

Books are for those who have cabin fever but can’t physically escape.

-Someone, somewhere (aka me)


Last 100 pages of Anna Karenina? Challenge accepted.

Note to self: stay away from the Russian writers for a long time. Hm, I wonder where that copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls is in my home library. I feel like going on an adventure.

35 books that will change how you see the world | indy100

My friend John sent me this article from indy100 yesterday. I was surprised to know this was beyond books you would typically read in high school English class, listing works such as All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman and The 9/11 Commission Report.

I was glad to know some of the books on my 30 for 3 Book Challenge made this list (i.e. Le Petit Prince, Anna Karenina and 1984). Not for bragging rights or to boast how cultured I am. That’s just stupid. I just like knowing that people also share the same opinion about these wonderful works (I have received much support from various coworkers when they discovered my journey through the 700+ page beast that is Anna Karenina).

Thoughts on the list? Agree? Disagree? Read any of the books or report? Comment below!