Why is it difficult to copy edit your own work?

When I was writing my PhD thesis, as with anyone else it involved multiple drats going back and forth. As far I am concerned writing is never a linear process. At times one cannot even write a single line in a day, and at other times you may finish a couple of sections in a a few hours. Writing is difficult as it involves third level thinking (Dix 2006). You may have several ideas with you, you can also explicate while talking to others. But when it comes to writing it down we find it is not easy. But when we are in the”zone” the writing task becomes a natural thing. Your creative juices flow, the elusive ideas seem to express themselves in words. I usually experience such zone when l am at the end of the world task. The disparate looking ideas are bound together in a coherent whole. The feeling is close to an epiphany of a strange kind. You lose track of time and experience oneness with your work, as of the concrete form of ideas is a physical extension of your self. The feeling can be deeply satisfying to see your ideas on a concrete form. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi uses the term “flow” to describe such an experience.

I experience the similar thing while reading a book. There are times when even reading a couple of sentences feels like a chore. While at other times when I am in the flow a hundred pages are finished in a couple of hours. The result send effortless. Words just seen to read themselves or to you. Of course it also depends on the kind of book one is reading. Technical books will take a longer to read.

When you are reading easily, you actually don’t read the entire words, letter by letter. Rather there is some sort of guess work or pre-processing that happens. Typically by looking at the starting letter and the end letter and also estimating the size of the word, we can actually guess the word before we can read it correctly. That is our cognitive system can fill in the gaps when we are dealing with familiar information. This makes the reading fast for experienced learners. A full use is made is of the repertoire of words that we know, and also rules of grammar. We expect certain words to follow certain words. And at times our system will fill in the gaps by itself when it finds some. This way the reading becomes effortless and we can make name out of it easily. Such fast refund comes with experience and knowing the language. When your children have difficulty in reading they have both problems. Their prediction system is not strong so they have to read each word and each letter in the word individually and only then they are angle to make sense. This then boils to be able to recognise the symbols as quickly as possible.

But how do we recognise the symbols that we see? There are several theories that attempt to explain our recognition of the symbols. The template theory posits that there are as many templates in our long term memory as many symbols we can detect. But this assumption of the theory puts severe demand on the long term memory and also on the processes which would the pattern recognition. A simple example which puts the template theory into spot is that we can recognise a letter in its various forms. The sheer number of fonts and handwriting, some of it bordering on illegible, we can recognise with little efforts lots severe strain on the template theory. The fact that we can also recognise the shape of fonts we have never seen before also poses a challenge.

The feature theory on the other hand posits that the long term memory has a set of features of the symbols which are essential in the symbol. For example, to recognise letter “w”, the feature set might include two lines slanting to the left and two lines slanting to right such as \ / \ /. This as soon as our sensory register gets this input of such lines we immediately pre process such input to a “w”. The feature theory posits three steps in pattern recognition which are collectively called as Analysis-by-Synthesis. In this process the pattern is broken down into its features, then these features are matched with LTM and finally a decision about the pattern is taken. Thus with this theory we require much less number of items in our long term memory. The analysis-by-synthesis is completely driven by the data that impinges on the sensory organs. 

Some of the challenges that this theory faces include ambiguity of how we deal with ambiguity in recognition of the patterns especially when the data is similar. In particular it does not answer our ability to consider importance of context in which the patterns appear and the sensory data itself is not good enough discriminator. In many cases turns out that we rely on other knowledge and information also to make sense of the patterns, in which case the feature theory alone cannot provide good explanations. For example, consider the Greek letter $\Delta$. Though we can identify it as such, the meaning it conveys can be heavily dependent on the context. We take three such examples.

  • If it is seen in a sentence in Greek it will be interpreted as a sound “de” Το Δελχί είναι η πρωτεύουσα της Ινδίας (Delhi is India’s capital.).
  • Now if the same letter $\Delta$ is seen in a mathematical context such as $\Delta ABC \cong \Delta PQR$, it represents a triangle and the sentence is read as “Triangle ABC is congruent to triangle PQR”.
  • Finally, if the symbol $\Delta$ appears in a physics formula, lets say $\Delta E = E_{2} – E_{1}$, it represents a difference in the two values of $E$.

Or consider the two sentences below

In the first sentence we will probably read it as “The number of participants was 190 (one hundred and ninety)” while in the second sentence we would read it as “I go there often”. Note here that the visual pattern is the same in both the sentences. Yet the context of the sentence makes all the difference in how we interpret the pattern. From such experiences we must conclude that context affects the pattern recognition by activating some conceptual information from LTM or pre-synthesising the pattern. Thus our cognitive system adds more information based on the contexts to the perceptual data to make sense of the patterns and context establishes what to expect in the incoming patterns. 

Now this adaptive feature of the our cognitive system can be very useful and allows us to be much faster than just being dependent on the perceptual information. But at times it can be maladaptive also. This notion brings us back to the title of this post. As I completed my first draft of the thesis, and gave it for comments, I discovered to my extreme horror and embarrassment that it was full of elementary grammatical mistakes. In the flow of writing down my ideas, I chose to just go with them. Though I did review what I had written, I did not find any obvious faults in it. This is something that you might have also experienced. It is difficult to see “obvious” break in ideas or abrupt endings in your own writing, and this of course also includes “trivial” grammar rules of punctuation and articles as such.  But when you are proof-reading work of someone else both “obvious” and  “trivial” errors are markedly visible. I can say this as I have copy-edited and proof-read several long and short works, where I did found out the very same errors in other works which I could not in my own work. Thankfully, in my thesis most of the issues were of “trivial” grammar and no “obvious” conceptual or fundamental issues were pointed. I then furiously began correcting the “trivial” grammar issues in my work. 

 

Why is this so? Seen in the framework of analysis-by-synthesis model, we know what we have written or wanted to write and our pre-synthesising cognitive system fills in the obvious gaps and creates the required and expected patterns contextually where they are found missing. We tend to “skip” over our writing as we read it in a flow, with background and context of why the text was written and what it wants to say. All the “obvious” and  “trivial” errors and gaps are ironed out with the additional contextual information that we have about our own work. So we have to be extra-careful while proof-reading our own work. When we are reading work written by someone else, all this background information is not available to us, hence pre-synthesising of patterns happens at a lower level. This leads us to find “obvious” and  “trivial” errors and gaps much easily.

I found out that though I can do a good job of proof-reading other persons work on a computer (using the record changes/comments on a word processor) , for proof-reading my own work I usually take a printout and work on it with a pen. The concrete form of my work perhaps helps me in minimising the pre-synthesising that happens.  I usually take red ink for proof-reading, perhaps reminiscing of how teachers in schools grade assignments. 

 

References

Chapter 2 Hunt, R. R., & Ellis, H. C. (1999). Fundamentals of cognitive psychology. McGraw-Hill.

A. Dix (2006). writing as third order experience Interfaces, 68, pp. 19-20. Autumn 2006.

 

Emphasis

emphasis | ˈɛmfəsɪs | noun (plural emphases | ˈɛmfəsiːz | ) [mass noun]

1 special importance, value, or prominence given to something: they placed great emphasis on the individual’s freedom | [count noun] : different emphases and viewpoints

2 stress given to a word or words when speaking to indicate particular importance: inflection and emphasis can change the meaning of what is said

vigour or intensity of expression: he spoke with emphasis and with complete conviction

Emphasis on something means that we want to highlight it from the rest. A common way to do this in text is to italicize or give a boldface or even underline the text. At times colour is added to text to highlight it or colour is added to the background of the text. All these elements of typography work when there is a common background against which these elements standout. Hence emphasise the words as required. But,

If everything is emphasised, the un-emphasised becomes emphasised.

But consider a block of text which is completely emphasised.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Thus we see that the appeal of the emphasis is lost! The only way emphasis will work is to create a background against which it stands out. Let us return to our examples above

 

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

 

For me, personally I have not used underline or the highlight. And recently have shifted to coloured italics as my choice of emphasis.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

Sometimes this produces very pretty results (at least I am very happy about them 🙂

(ETBB font with OrangeRed  (#FF4500) italics )

In some cases boldface colour also gives very good results:

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.

 

Further reading:

Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

EM Spectrum in Astronomy

EM Spectrum in Astronomy from Astrobites

I created a mindmap from the information above

  • Radio
    λ > 1 mm
    ν < 300 GHz

    • Objects
      • AGN JEts
      • Supernovae
      • Tidal Disruption Events
      • H II regions
      • Gamma ray bursts
      • Radio Galaxies
    • Processes
      • Synchrotron radiation
      • Free-free radiation
    • Observation
      • Ground based
    • Telescopes
      • Green Bank Telescope (GBT)
      • Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST)
      • Very Large Array (VLA)
      • Square Kilometer Array (SKA)
      • Low-Frequency Array (LoFAR),
      • Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope (GMRT)
  • Microwave/Sub-mm
    λ ~ 300 μm to 1 mm
    ν ~ 1 THz to 300 GHz

    • Objects
      • CMB
      • High energy phenomena
        • Relativistic jets
        • Cold dust
        • Cold gas
        • Galaxies at high z
    • Processes
      • Thermal (blackbody radiation)
    • Observation
      • Space
      • Ground
    • Telescopes
      • Space
        • Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE)
        • Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP)
        • Planck
      • Ground
        • Submillimeter Array (SMA
        • Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).
  • Infrared
    λ ~ 300 μm to 2.5 μm
    ν ~ 1 THz to 120 THz

    • Far-Infrared
      λ ~ 15 μm to 300 μm
      ν ~ 20 THz 1 THz

      • Objects
        • Cool dust
        • Cool gas
        • star forming galaxies
        • young stellar objects
          • proto-stars
          • pre-main sequence stars
      • Processes
        • Thermal (Blackbody radiation)
      • Observation
        • Space
      • Telescopes
        • Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS)
        • Infrared Space Observatory (ISO)
        • Herschel
    • Mid-Infrared
      λ ~ 2.5 μm to 15 μm
      ν ~ 120 THz 20 THz

      • Objects
        • Cosmic dust
          • surrounding young stars
          • protoplanetary disks
          • zodiacal dust
        • Solar system objects
          • planets
          • comets
          • asteroids
      • Processes
        • Thermal (Blackbody Radiation)
      • Observation
        • Space
        • Ground
      • Telescopes
        • Ground
          • Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF)
          • United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT)
        • Space
          • James Webb Space Telescope
          • Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)
          • Spitzer
    • Near-Infrared
      λ ~ 0.8 μm to 2.5 μm
      ν ~ 380 THz 120 THz

      • Objects
        • M-dwarfs
        • Cool stars
        • Low-mass stars
        • Galaxies
      • Processes
        • Thermal (Blackbody Radiation)
      • Observation
        • Space
        • Ground
      • Telescopes
        • Ground
          • 2MASS survey
          • Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF)
          • United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT)
          • Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA)
        • Space
          • James Webb Space Telescope
  • Optical
    λ ~ 350 nm to 800 nm
    ν ~ 860 THz 380 THz

    • Objects
      • Ionized gases
      • Stars
      • Galaxies
    • Processes
      • Black Body Radiation (Thermal)
      • Non-thermal
    • Observation
      • Both Ground and Space
    • Telescopes
      • Ground
        • W.M. Keck telescopes
        • Very Large Telescopes
        • Southern African Large Telescope (SALT)
      • Space
        • Hubble Space Telescope
        • Gaia
        • Kepler
        • Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
  • Ultra-violet
    λ ~ 10 nm to 350 nm
    ν ~ 3e16 Hz to 860 Hz
    E ~ 120 eV to 3.5 eV

    • Objects
      • Thermal
        • O Stars
        • B Stars
        • white dwarfs
      • Non-thermal
        • AGN (continuous emission)
    • Processes
      • Blackbody radiation (thermal radiation)
      • Non-thermal sources
    • Observation
      • Ground (longest)
      • Space
    • Telescopes
      • AstroSAT (2015)
      • Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) (2003)
      • Hubble Space Telescope (1990)
      • Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory (2004)
  • X-Ray
    λ ~ 10 pm to 10 nm
    ν ~ 3e19 Hz to 3e16 Hz
    E ~ 120 keV to 0.12 keV

    • Objects
      • X-Ray binaries
      • AGN
      • Neutron stars
    • Processes
      • Thermal Emission
      • Free-Free emission
      • Accretion
    • Observation
      • From Space
    • Telescopes
      • Uhuru (1973)
      • Einstein (1978-81)
      • ROSAT (1999)
      • Chandra (1999)
      • XMM-Newton (1999)
      • NuSTAR (2012)
      • eROSITA (2019)
    • Gamma-Ray
      λ < 10 pm
      ν > 3e19 Hz
      E > 120 keV

      • Objects
        • AGN with Relativistic Jets
        • Gamma Ray Binaries
        • Gamma Ray Bursts
      • Processes
        • Gamma Decay
        • Pair-Annihilation
        • Shock Waves
        • Inverse-Compton Scattering
      • Observation
        • From Space
      • Telescopes
        • Compton Gamma-ray Observatory (1991)
        • International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) (2002)
        • Fermi (2008)

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Free Graphics Illustration Resources and Repositories

Finding a good and accurate graphic or illustration for your need is something that we all struggle with. On top of that if the requirement is that the graphic resource has to be free (as in freedom) then it further narrows down the options. Sometimes you see the graphic you want, but its license terms are unknown or are not agreeable to your work as they are not released freely. So what do you do? Either you use an illustration which is not perfect fit or you use one which breaks your resource (in terms of license).  But the problems is also that there are many free resource repositories which are very well not known. I have personally come across great many graphic resources, only to be forgotten after their current need is finished. This post is an attempt to overcome this. This post is a collection of various free graphics and illustration resources and repositories that I have found useful over the years. It is also a sort of personal bookmark list of the these resources if and when I need them in the future. I hope this will be of use to others too. I will keep on updating this list with new resources that I find. If you know of any resources which are missing please do post in the comments.

The Internet Archive Image Search https://archive.org/details/image

Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Open source illustrations kit https://illlustrations.co/

NYPL Public Domain Archive https://nypl.getarchive.net

David Rumsey Map Collection  https://www.davidrumsey.com/  also https://archive.org/details/david-rumsey-map-collection

Metropolitan Museum of Arts Public Domain Images also https://archive.org/details/metropolitanmuseumofart-gallery

Cleveland Museum of Art Open Access also https://archive.org/details/clevelandart

Brooklyn Museum also https://archive.org/details/brooklynmuseum

https://archive.org/details/bibliothequesaintegenevieve_image

Unsplash Free Images

NASA Images

ESO Images

Vintage Ads

Vintage Australian Print Ads

Vintage British Print Ads https://archive.org/details/vintage-british-magazine-ads

Vintage American Print Ads https://archive.org/details/vintage-american-print-ads

 

Vintage Danish Print Ads https://archive.org/details/vintage-danish-print-ads

https://archive.org/details/vintage-new-zealand-print-ads

https://archive.org/details/vintage-canadian-print-ads

https://archive.org/details/vintage-italian-print-ads

 

A library of microorganisms https://archive.org/details/cmpuj

 

National Gallery of Art also https://archive.org/details/national-gallery-of-art-images

Flickr Collections (there are several collections on Flickr which are openly licensed)

Flickr Commons

NOAA Photo Library https://flickr.com/photos/noaaphotolib/

 

 

 

Interesting LaTeX Packages – Bohr and Element – electronic orbits and atomic structure

One of the USPs of using LaTeX is the variety of packages that are available to get things done. Some packages will give you special environments to make your documents better, some will help in typesetting or some will help you create graphics or some just provide you with commands for specific symbols. Of course, all these can be done manually by creating your own command, but why reinvent the wheel? There are hundreds of packages at the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network. I have come across many packages that were useful via browsing the packages at CTAN. In this series of posts we will see some packages that are interesting and might be useful. This series of posts is also a sort of personal bookmarking scheme for me. It has happened in the past that I have discovered some interesting LaTeX package, only to forget its existence when I needed its functionality in a project.
In this first post, we will look at two related packages bohr and elements by Clemens Niederberger. The bohr package provides you with a simple functionality to draw the Bohr diagrams for different elements along with electronic configurations.
Load the bohr package by \usepackage{bohr} in the preamble
To use the package simple type the number of electrons and the element symbol. For example, Lithium \bohr{3}{Li} will simply give you

Similarly for other elements
Lithium \bohr{3}{Li}Oxygen \bohr{8}{O}Carbon \bohr{12}{C}Mercury \bohr{80}{Hg}

Now another very useful option in the vohr package is to print the shell-wise electronic configuration for a given element. For example Oxygen \bohr{8}{O} \elconf{O} will give you

This will be a very useful feature when you are writing chemistry or atomic physics texts. Of course you can change the way the shells look.
\setbohr{
shell-options-add = dashed, shell-options-add = red, shell-dist = .75em, nucleus-options-set = {draw=black,fill=orange,opacity=0.5}, electron-options-set = {color=green}, insert-missing}

Mercury\bohr{80}{Hg} \elconf{Hg}

The insert-missing option will give you either the correct number of electrons when the element symbol is given, or  will give you the element symbol when the number of electrons is given. There are more options to explore in the documentation.
Now let us look at the elements package.

This package provides means for retrieving properties of chemical elements like atomic number, element symbol, element name, electron distribution or isotope number.

The package provides atomic number, symbol, name, main isotope and electronic configuration for elements upto 118. For example, just using the atomic number 35 I can get \elementname{35} \elementsymbol{35} \elconf{35}

Having the data accessible in the form of number can be very useful especially if you want to generate tables. The table below from the package documentation was generated by iteratively looping atomic number and invoking commands

\theelement
\elementsymbol{\arabic{element}}
\elementname{\arabic{element}}
\mainelementisotope{\arabic{element}}
\elconf{\arabic{element}}


 
 

Cooking as therapeutic exercise

We generally associate cooking with its product – the edible food it produce. But here I would like to reflect on the process of cooking. For me, personally, cooking is a stress relieving exercise. The final product is one of the components not the only one. What makes great food great is not only the product, but the process – how well the cook has balanced the flavours, the textures and aromas. And this is something that the cook savours. For a good cook the best satisfaction comes from the orgasmic faces that eating the food brings out….
So let us look at what are various steps in the process.

Deciding what to cook?

This can be a major challenge sometimes, especially when you have abundant ingredients at your disposal. But if you have limited ingredients the kind of food that you can cook is obviously limited. You cannot make a chicken-noodle soup if you don’t have chicken and noodles, rest of the ingredients are optional in way.

chicken noodle soup

Gathering the ingredients

This I think is one of the feel good parts for me. Getting all the ingredients ready, washing and cleaning them. This also creates a sense of what will be the output. One can visualise the metamorphosis of the raw elements to something well cooked – how their colour, flavour and texture will change during the cooking. When you look at cooking as a process, a lot of imagination has to be therein you as a cook

The Spices and flavours

The natural flavours in the food are sometimes too bland or we need to temper them to suit our palate. Different cuisines uses different spices and herbs to make the food relishable. Lot of powders or different spices are used, while in some cases whole spices are used. The ginger garlic paste is another basic ingredient in many cuisines. And finally salt. Almost no dishes are made without salt. Put too little or none it becomes bland or tasteless, put a bit too much and it becomes salty!
The plate below has onion cut very finely, coriander cut, ginger garlic thick paste, black pepper powder, salt, paprika, chilly powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder.

spice set
spice set

The garam masala is another quintessential routine for much of indian cooking.You can make one yourself easily.
garam masala

Pepper and chillies of various kinds are used to add fire to the food. Choose yours wisely.
cjill
chillies

Fresh or dried herbs are a also used to give the required zest. Basil is the best!
basil
basil

The Cutting Board

I prefer  wooden cutting board. It is easy on the knives and it feels good to cut on it.
Mincing an onion in little pieces with a knofe which obeys and performs with movement of your hands is one of best experiences.

onion and garlic cut

Though onion can be cut in several ways, depending on what you are trying to make it taste like…
red onion cut

A baby cabbage is one of the most wonderful things to cut. To see the internal structure of the cabbage and you know it is going to be a nice dish..
cabbage cut

Halving mushrooms or slicing them is therapeutic in itself. You feel victorious after halving a packet of them. You feel something has been achieved for the day.
mushroom cut

cut carrot onion and sun dried tomatoes
cut carrot onion and sun dried tomatoes

The cutting tools – the knives  – are a separate topic in themselves and deserve their own separate post.. But as they say a good chef will not trade the knives with (think of something which rhymes with knives)…

Setting the stage

Once the ingredients are ready, cleaned and cut, our next step begins. This is the preparation for. the final act of cooking itself. It may be mixing things, marinating them or mashing them up.

preparation of chicken marination
preparation of chicken marination

marinating chicken with curd and spices
marinating chicken with curd and spices

putting the chicken on the spikes and put on fire test

 
and see the marinated raw chicken metamorphise to chicken malai kabab

The Cooking Medium

Each dish has to be cooked in the media it is meant to be cooked with. Depending on the cuisine it can be groundnut oil, coconut oil, mustard oil, butter, olive oil, sesame oil, ghee or lard. Each medium will give its unique flavour and aroma to the food. And some dishes don’t taste the same or even taste awful when not cooked in the preferred media.
When you add the masala to the medium, the way it releases its colours and aromas is something that I admire. The aroma of onions getting cooked in pure ghee… yum.. ir garlic getting cooked in olive oil…

The Cooking Vessel

Over last couple of years I have been introduced to cast iron vessels for cooking and I am not going back. I have already planned not to purchase any non-stick ones in the future. It is cast iron all the way now.

cast iron dutch oven cooking onion

cast iron
chicken cooking in a cast iron dutch oven on a braai

The Order of Things

When the medium is hot enough you start to add things. In the order, sometimes you change the ordery you get good result, or it is a fiasco. I think new dishes were discovered in this way. When you go outside the cookbook and try something new, many times it might be a failure, but at times you will be rewarded with great new dishes.
For example, you would want to make the flour ready for making roties or bread before you want to make them,

flour for making breads
flour for making breads

do we add herbs and spices first or later?
vegetable roast in the oven – do we add herbs and spices first or later?

do we add herbs and spices first or later?
vegetable roast in the over – do we add herbs and spices first or later?

The Aromas

You know you have a great dish incoming when the dish starts to release its aroma. You might now smell it if you are too close to a dish while cooking, go to a different room and come abck you will know its a good dish cooking. A good aroma also creates a sense of mystery and longing for the dish, it stirs up appetites.

aroma from a chicken curry

Unfortunately our science of smell is not that well developed so I cannot make you experience the aromas – but use your imagination..

The Colours and texture

The colours in the food make it attractive. A dull coloured food will be not that attractive. That is reason we find salads so much attractive!

colourful salad – with texture and taste

colourful salad – with texture and taste

colourful salad – with texture and taste and hummus

tomato onion uttappa
tomato onion uttappa looks refreshing

so does two egg omelette!

The Presentation

As we approach the final stages of cooking the presentation of the food is the final frontier. No matter how well you have cooked it, if the food is not presented well, well it loses it’s charm, though it might be still edible..

biryani with raita and salad
biryani with raita and salad

assorted sauteed vegetables
assorted sauteed vegetables

hummus, pita bread, couscous salad, pickles

couscous vegetable salad

ghee rice with dry fruits and caramelized onions

pork pandi curry aka coorg pork with naan and curd salad (raita)
pork pandi curry aka coorg pork with naan and curd salad (raita)

boiled eggs with paprika and fresh coriander

The Taste

The real satisfaction to a cook comes from the pleasure that other find in eating the food that has been cooked. It pays of all the effort that was put in process, while the product is something akin to the metaphorical tip of the iceberg..
mutton curry!
It is always joyful to cook for others than cooking alone for yourself. It helps you relax as you order the seemingly raw ingredients into a masterful recipe full of flavour, aroma and texture. Rightfully done cooking is the most therapeutic exercise for your troubled soul.  It is perhaps this reason that mothers while cooking the food want you to eat more and more…
 
 

Color and underline text in LaTeX

For a particular project, I had a requirement that the text be coloured as well as underlined. Now making text underlined in LaTeX has a default support in the form of \underline{text}, which simply produces an underlined text.

But what if you want to customise the underlining, for example, change the thickness of the underline, or its distance from the text baseline. Or simply you might want to have a different colour for the underline. There are several packages which allow you to customise this exact requirement.

For the present post I will choose the soul package which has some other goodies for typesetting as well. You can load the package with \usepackage{soul} Along with underlining, you have have strikeout and highlight. To setup the underline, soul package gives three options, underline depth, underline thickness and underline colour (page 12-13 of the package documentation).

You can set this in the preamble

\setul{⟨underline depth⟩}{⟨underline thickness⟩}

It is recommended that the units of these lengths are in ex, so that they are relative to the font size. For example,

\setul{0.3ex}{0.1ex}

To use it in the document \ul{underlined text} will produce

Another option is to set the colour of the underline. This can be done with

\setulcolor{gray}

With this option, the above code will look like

The color option can be changed anywhere in the document, so you can have change of colours as required. Defining in the preamble has a universal effect.

So far so good. Now in this case I wanted the underlined text to be of different colour. For this one can define a newcommand with text colour option.

\newcommand{\ublue}[1]{{\color{SteelBlue}\ul{#1}}}

I am also using the svgnames option from the xcolor package for calling colours by names.

\usepackage[svgnames]{xcolor}

In the main text, you can use it as \ublue{coloured and underlined text} to produce the required result. Will produce 

 

 

How many photos are enough?

A photo taken at eye of the Mooi River. I wish I had taken perhaps hundreds of photos, but alas I have only a few.

Whenever I go to an interesting place or look at something interesting, I try to take photos. Though recently in last couple of years this has gone down a bit. But now that I have a camera phone, I try to make up for it. When I am in the process of taking photos, I try to take as many angles and frames as possible. And at that time, it seems whatever photos I have taken are enough or sometimes even think that they are more than sufficient. All the angles and frames are covered. I try to take macro shots if its an object, and some full frame shots. And I am actually satisfied with the quality and quantity of the photos at that moment. And I smugly leave subjecting that subject to further assaults of the camera lens.
But then, when I look at the photos again, I realise that I have taken too few! I then realise a few more photos could have been better, maybe this frame or this angle is missing. And then I despair. While it would have made sense in the era of film cameras, to conserve the film, in the era of the digital, the preview makes it possible for us to delete something which was not good. So you can spend slightly more on experimenting with the photos. But alas, I still have hard time convincing myself that I have not taken enough photos, and always end up taking too few..

The Astronomers

Looking at this vast natural drama from their observation posts on the minute planet Earth as it revolves around the insignificant star called the sun, a handful of astronomers seek to gain an understanding of the cosmos. Using instruments constructed from materials found on their planet, they follow the activities in space from their observatories and launch rocket-borne telescopes from Earth. Some people confuse them with astrologers, but astronomers reject all such notions of kinship; others look up to them because their thoughts and ideas move in realms beyond the imagination of those of us engaged in everyday activities. Their work brings them a step closer to creation, at least to the creation of the uninhabited world, but they are sober scientists who do not attempt to adduce ethical norms from the phenomena they observe. Their involvement with cosmic matters does not make them better human beings. They are not motivated solely by a dedication to greater knowledge. As is true of other segments of human society, thoughts of competition and career advancement enter into their calculations; quite a few discoveries grew out of just such considerations. Yet this is not to deny, as we shall learn, that we find among them a passion for knowledge and much friendly cooperation. The fruit of their research is the work of human beings and as such is often imperfect, even erroneous. But despite setbacks the course of the science of astronomy, beginning with the Babylonians and culminating in modern astrophysics, has led ever forward.

Rudolph Kippenhahn, 100 Billion Suns p. 6-7