Sunday, October 29, 2006

Whitewater Rafting

The only time I went whitewater rafting was in August 1999 with three other friends (Subhash, Zahid, and Ramesh), in the Wenatchee river (Wikipedia link). The rapids were level 3, which meant there was no real risk of death by drowning, though the guide did tell us that if we didn't listen to him and row as he told us to, there did exist a real threat of capsizing.

The entire adventure took a little over 4 hours. The rapids started appearing only after some half an hour or so, which gave the guide time to get everyone familiarized with how to paddle correctly, and other commands.

The next thing that Subhash wanted me to try was bungee jumping or parachuting, both of which I was not going to try anytime soon. As Seinfeld said in one standup show, the helmet is wearing you, not the other way round. And the helmet is really there to try and protect a head that has stopped functioning...

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Re-posted to this blog June 2013

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Multnomah Falls

This photo of Multnomah Falls, that I took in 2000, is one of my favourite photos, and have an enlargement that hangs in my house. As I remember, I had to place my camera on a tripod for this, and the exposure was 2 seconds. This image is a scan of the print photo, so something had indeed been lost in the scan... Anyway.

You can read more about Multnomah Falls on Wikipedia, and here is another link from the site. This is the link from the US Forest Service site.
This is what the Wikipedia entry has to say about the fall:
"The falls drops in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 542 feet and a lower falls of 69 feet, with a gradual 9 foot drop in elevation between the two, so the total height of the waterfall is conventionally given as 620 feet."
A foot trail leads to Benson Footbridge, a 45-foot-long footbridge that allows visitors to cross 105 feet above the lower cascade.

This below is the 242 foot Wahkeen Fall, one of the many beautiful falls along the historic Columbia River Gorge highway.

This below is the view from one of the trails along the Multnomah Falls. Just beyond the photo, not visible, is the interstate highway, that runs parallel to the Columbia River.

I didn't go to the Benson Bridge that is visible in the photo below - maybe some other time...

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog July 2013.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Vista Point

Some seven years back (1999), when I had a lot of free time on my hands that summer, I travelled a lot around the Pacific Northwest - the Cascades, Olympic Peninsula, Columbia River Gorge, Mt Rainier, Pacific Coast, Mt St Helens, skiing, and more...

I also took a lot of photos with my Canon 35mm film SLR, and had posted many of them to my web site. Now that I have switched to a blog, I shall try and post at least some of those photos to the blog over the next several months.

The photo above is of Vista Point, as seen from the Portland Women's Forum Viewpoint (Chanticleer Point). This is a favorite with photographers, both amateur and professional. When I took this photo, I had a professional photographer there for company, who had been waiting patiently for a long time. He said, "the light is finally starting to get better" - though I admit I could see no such thing... But, taking his expert opinion - that he shared for free with me, I took out my camera, plonked it on a tripod, and took some photos - this above is one of the better ones, I think, though some of the background scenery is a bit washed out.

This on the left remains one of my favourite photos - it also would have come much better in the right lighting conditions, but I didn't have the luxury of waiting (possibly) several hours for that to happen...

If you observe, there is a train track that runs parallel to the road - Interstate 84 (link to Oregon state gov site, wikipedia link) - on the left side of the photo. When I took the photo there was a train steaming along, and I managed to catch it at that instant. And, what I didn't realize at the time, there was a boat that is also captured in the photo - look on the right and you can see the wake of the boat in the Columbia River.

Finally, if you observe the top center portion of the photograph, you will see there is a scenic point that you can stop at to take even more photographs. At sunset, you can watch and catch some spectacular sights as the sun sets over the massive Columbia river.

And this photograph above is of the Columbia River, as seen from Vista Point.

This scenic route is best seen on the "Historic Columbia River highway"

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Re-posted to this blog, July 2013

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini (Collins Business Essentials)

Had I not read "Fast Food Nation" last month, I would have said that this book is by far the best book I have read this year.

Everytimg you have been left wondering and feeling conned, or felt that you were talked into, or otherwise cajoled into buying something or saying yes when you weren't sure or wanted to say "no" or "let me think about it", this is the book to read. Written by an academic, this book is a marketer's nightmare, and strips bare the mechanisms and the techniques that are employed by advertisers, con artists, and what the author calls "compliance professionals".

The author, Robert Cialdini, lists the following principles that people - marketers, fundraisers, con artists - use to persuade other people to buy into whatever they are selling:
1. Contrast
2. Reciprocation
3. Commitment and Consistency
4. Social Proof
5. Liking
6. Authority
7. Scarcity

Each principle, when explained as lucidly as does the author, seems obvious, but only in hindsight. The author explains the reasons why these principles work the way they do, and how people exploit our tendency to react without too much forethought to these stimuli.

In his words:

... The blitz of modern life demands that we have faithful shortcuts, sound rules of thumb to handle it all. These are not luxuries any longer, they are out-and-out necessities that figure to become increasingly vital as the pulse of daily life quickens.
Therefore, it is all the more important that we learn to recognize when someone tries to exploit these "shortcuts", and how to respond.
If you try and judge this book by it cover, it may come across as another "pop-psychology" book that attempts to teach you in a matter of a few minutes how to better your life, make you more assertive, and make you everthing you always aspired to be but could not become.

So, don't judge this book by its cover.

There are more than 25 pages of notes and bibliography for those wanting to delve deeper.
Also, the author has a site, that tells us that "In the field of influence and persuasion, Dr. Cialdini is the most cited social psychologist in the world today."

I think I first saw this book listed on Joel Spolsky's blog (link to post). I reproduced that list on my blog (link). Then, during one of my frequent visits to, I read more about this book, where the Amazon editorial review described it as "Arguably the best book ever on what is increasingly becoming the science of persuasion.". I finally decided to bite the bullet and ordered it last month, despite having a backlog of a dozen or more books that I have bought and have not read. Oh well - this - book buying - is a weakness that I am perfectly happy to live with.

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog Nov 2011

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jayadeva Flyover

Jayadeva Flyover in Bangalore - the night before it opened to the public.
If you see the flyover now, and the traffic that flows through the underpass, I sure am glad I got this photo for posterity.

This is from near the underpass. If you can spot the plants, it is worth noting that they were gone the next day.

Closer to the underpass, you can see that the combination of yellow lights to the underpass, and white lights in the underpass made for an interesting photograph.

This building on the left is Mantri Commerce. The road near this intersection -of Mantri Commerce and Casa Ansal - is more than six lanes wide...

During the day, I also managed to walk up the connector (is that the right word, or is it something else?) and take this photo - this leading towards Jayanagar / JP Nagar.

These are the Laxmi/Ganesh idols, to be used for the inauguration of the flyover.

While the city goes to the dogs, thanks to inept, apathetic babus and netas (I had to take a shot :), how could I not snap this dog having a siesta, even as he kept one eye on me (and I both eyes on him).

Any guesses what this granite slab would have had inscribed on it?

This frantic cement pouring work took place the day before the opening of the flyover. And I think this is the last set of photos I have to post on the Jayadeva Flyover - I may do a reprise sometime later...

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Re-posted to this blog, June 2013

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Golden Gate Signage

Lots and lots of signs to be seen in and around the Golden Gate. Including this one, on the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which also includes a long scenic drive along the shore in Marin county.

The day was really nice - warm and sunny, and all along downtown and the piers you could see throngs of joggers.

Among al these, note the blue sign at the lower right bottom, that reads, "There is hope... make the call"

More signage along the Golden Gate bridge.

I really like these bus signs.

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog, July 2013

Friday, October 20, 2006

RK Laxman on Reincarnation

This cartoon had also originally appeared as a "Science Smiles" cartoon by RK Laxman.

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog, Nov 2012

Stanford University Burghers of Calais

While in the US last month, I managed to eke out a couple of hours to visit the Stanford University campus. One of the more striking things I noticed (the vast oval and the Hoover Institution's tower being among them) was something labelled as "The Burghers of Calais".

If you search for this term on Wikipedia, this link - - provides a good deal of detail on what is one of the most famous sculptures by Rodin.

As you would expect, it makes for a very popular photo destination.

The inscription here provides some background information on the history behind the sculpture as well as the historical incident that inspired the sculpture.
"In 1884 the French city of Calais commissioned Auguste Rodin to create a memorial honoring heroes of the Hundred Years War. He depicted the six burghers, or citizens, who in 1347 volunteered to leave the defeated city barefoot, tied by rope at the neck, and offer their own lives and the keys to Calais to King Edward III of England. The burghers's fortitude, determination, and devotion to their community preserved Calais from being pillaged at the end of a devastating siege. The burghers are shown at the moment of departure from the city."

© 2006, Abhinav Agarwal (अभिनव अग्रवाल). All rights reserved. Reposted to this blog, Nov 2012