Newton’s Laws of Graduation

I read and cried.

  1. First Law: A grad student in procastination tends to stay in procastination unless an external force is applied to it.
  2. Second Law: The age, a, of a doctoral process is directly proportional to the flexibility, f, given by the advisor and inversely proportional to the student’s motivation m.
  3. Third Law: For every action towards graduation there is an equal and opposite distraction.

From PhD Comics via Cubical Life.

A Tasty Dinner

I made this dinner last week which is a combination of a few recipes. I am not sure how to classify this. May be it could be called a Brazilian dish.

Couscous is a North African staple which I was introduced to while living in Libya more than 2 decades ago. I bought two packs (6oz each) of instant couscous from the grocery store. Just follow the simple directions on the package for cooking it. It takes about 5 minutes to cook.

To make the dinner more interesting and tasty, I added some chicken and fried bananas to it. This makes for great dinner, though it is best when eaten hot right after cooking. Here are the recipes for those two items.

Sautéed Marinated Chicken Breast
From Modern Italian Cooking.

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Juice of 1 large lemon

Skin, bone, and split the chicken breasts. Put the breasts in a large bowl. Add the oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, garlic, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Cover the bowl and marinate at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Put a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and all of its marinade. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, turning the chicken once during the cooking. The chicken should have a light golden color.

Stir in the additional lemon juice and cook and stir until the juice has evaporated.

Banana Farofa
From a Brazilian Recipes webpage.

Requires 15 minutes:

  • 6 bananas, cut into thick slices
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion cut into rings
  • 3 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs

Fry the bananas in the butter until golden brown then remove the bananas from the butter. Fry the onion rings in the same butter. Add the bananas back in, along with the breadcrumbs and brown. Don’t let it get too dry. Add more butter if necessary. The crumbs should be coated with butter, but light and loose.

Nauroz Mubarak

Happy Persian New Year to Kianoush and my Iranian readers.

سال نو مبارک

Happy Persian New Year to Kianoush and my Iranian readers.

Are you guys in the 14th century still?

PS. Kianoush, when are we going for dinner at a Persian restaurant to celebrate the new year? I love Persian food.

Weeks 11–19

Will my child be bald?

In weeks 14th—17th the fetus grows hair. I was very upset that time ‘cause it looked like I was going to get laid off. So Zack kept telling me that due to all that worry, we will have a bald child as the fetus will lose all his/her hair. So what choice do I have?

Why the starter for life can endanger the life itself?

Besides major cramping and nasal congestion, rest of my first trimester ended fine so when the 18th week started, our doc gave us a “go ahead” for intercourse (they prefer to avoid calling sex). He said but masturbation is not allowed and the question comes “why? is it because it’s always better?” And to my surprise answer came out to be yes which I had said as a joke. My doc said masturbation in women results in a much stronger stimulation than regular sex so stay away from it.

I shared it with another friend of mine who is pregnant herself so she asked it from her ob/gyn at her next visit if she can use her paw or vibrator and the doctor’s eyes were wide open, unable to reply for a few minutes. I guess it’s still not good that women talk about it. They just do it quietly.

We were quite excited as nothing had stopped us in last 10 years 🙂 before. We planned like it’s our first time or at least we felt it that way. Everything went smooth from candle-light dinner to nice cuddling etc.

48 hours later I was spotting again. First few days I thought it will go away and on day 3, I called my doc who asked me to come right away for a check up. Everything looked fine. So they asked “were you sexually active before it started?” and it reminds you of teenage years when your mom asks you what were you doing talking so late on phone with a guy like what can you do beside talking but..and very shyly like we have made a mistake, we both agreed that we shared the bed one night. And the doctor was like “No, you can’t do it then.” We were like but you said it’s ok and they said “no, not any more. SEX is not for you.”

Progress of the fetus

During the 19th week,

This is an impressive week for growth! The baby will increase in weight to 8 ounces (227 grams)! If you are having a girl, her ovaries now contain primitive egg cells. Lanugo appears all over the baby’s body. This fine hair will remain until birth draws nearer. Sometimes you can still see some on the baby’s face and ears after birth.

Permanent teeth buds are forming behind the already formed milk teeth buds.


I am going on a semi-hiatus. What that means is that I’ll still be posting but more irregularly. I am trying to get Amber and Captain Arrrgh to write more regularly. Let’s see how that works out.

I have got to work on my thesis. Plus I had some surgery done yesterday and am a bit under the weather right now.

The Jingoists Have Won

I have been hopping mad since yesterday. Somehow I waded into the warbloggers’ world and found everyone berating the Spanish for letting the terrorists win.

I disagree. The terrorists did win. But not on sunday. They won on thursday when they killed 200 people. On sunday, the Socialist party won.

I don’t understand what the hooplah is all about. A major terrorist act affected the outcome of a national election. Well, duh! What else did you expect? That the Spaniards would totally ignore the attack, the casualties and the conduct of their government and vote according to their preferences on wednesday? What should a Spaniard voter have done? If she was going to vote for Aznar’s party, then not change her mind in the last 3 days? If he was planning on voting for the communists, then not switch to the socialists? If she had decided to abstain, then she shouldn’t have changed her mind at the last minute and voted?

If you look at the election results, it seems that not many Popular party supporters switched. The support of voters of some minor parties of the left and an increase in voter turnout were also factors.

Imagine if there was a US election was scheduled for September 14, 2001. Do you expect that the election results would have been exactly the same as the polling on September 10 had shown? So terrorism, war, economy, etc. affect elections. Great insight!

And it isn’t the first time terrorism has affected elections, though the first with such media coverage and a clear swing in the last 3 days. Remember Israel? Remember the suicide bombings right before elections there? Do you think those had no effect on the Israeli election results? Do you think that may be Hamas wanted Netanyahu and Sharon to win? Did you say absurd?

Some say it isn’t about the Spaniards. Instead it is about the perception of the terrorists. Great! Now we must weigh every single action of ours based on what Bin Laden might think of it. If that were true, Israeli soldiers would still be dying in Lebanon and American troops would still be stationed in Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, some great bloggers, who are obviously on my blogroll, have jumped off the cliff following the “warbloggers” on this one. The most stupid comment among these bloggers was by Virginia Postrel:

Regardless of its perpetrators, the election results provide an unhappy, and potentially dangerous, lesson: If you kill enough people, you can change the outcome of a democratic election.

Warning to terrorists: Americans do not draw the same conclusions from massacres that the Spanish did. Americans tend to rally around the president and direct our anger outward.

Isn’t that also terrorists changing election outcomes? What if the terrorists wanted Bush to win reelection and took Virginia’s post to heart?

I am too angry to write coherently, so you’ll have to go and read Randy Paul, Jacob Levy and A Fistful of Euros for some reasoned analysis about this issue.

Spring Break Movies

When one’s pregnant and not feeling well, there’s not much one can do outdoors. So no camping trips or long drives for us this spring break. We stayed home and watched a lot of movies. For the ones we watched in theater, I am not sure Amber enjoyed them since she went to the restroom about couple of times during each movie.

Touching the Void is a documentary about two British mountaineers. One of them breaks his leg and is left for dead by his partner. It showed an amazing climb down by the injured guy. If you liked Vertical Limit, this documentary is a must-see. Amazing! It was nominated for an Oscar this year but lost out to Fog of War. I think it is much better than Fog of War.

The Fog of War is a documentary about Robert McNamara, the US Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. The documentary is good with some interesting observations by McNamara, but I think some of what McNamara said about the Vietnam-America war was a bit self-serving.

Whale Rider was an interesting movie. The kid, Keisha Castle-Hughes, was good.

Twelve Monkeys is among a few select science fiction movies that Amber liked.

Rabbit-Proof Fence is the amazing story about the escape of an aborigine Australian girl of the Stolen Generation by walking across the continent. A good movie.

Spartan is a good thriller, other than near the end. However, please do not read any reviews before watching the movie. This is a movie best watched without any information. A lot of the reviews spoil some of the suspense and plot twists.

Monster makes Charlize Theron look like a monster. What’s up with beautiful actresses taking the parts of ugly women on-screen and then winning oscars for their performance? Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman and now Charlize Theron.