Archive for December, 2009

Electrical plan

I had to make so many spot decisions on the electrical plan. Where should every single switch be located? Where should wall outlets be located? How many? One-way, 2-way, or 3-way switches? So complicated! The electrician, contractor, architect, AM and I went through every single location and made spot decisions on everything. It was all so fast! I thought some more and will need to change a few decisions. I also have to change the entire plan of the kitchen. What I have in mind is not easy, and it needs to be executed right to be done well.

Also my architect made an error in measurements for a bathroom which resulted in a few issues. The toilet has to align with a closet, and shower with the sink. My architect had the sink quoted at 1 foot less, but I got sinks that fit the correct size. The problem is, when you enter the bathroom you may run into the sink countertop or see it since its not aligned. The other issue was that the contractor already developed wall framing around the areas where bathroom lighting was supposed to be, and since the architect missed by a foot, the lighting is not centralized. After much deliberation I think we just have to live with the fact that the medicine cabinet and lighting are not aligned – its not that obvious really. I would prefer that it were aligned though. I usually check all dimensions and work of my architect, but she did not send it to me to approve, and I did not think of double-checking.

While I have been annoyed at the lack of interpersonal skills in my contractor and his manner of saying stupid things and throwing tantrums, he is proving to be very helpful. His ideas are good, he points out anything that is wrong with the plans, he gives his opinions on everything, and does not hesitate to say “this is BS” if he thinks so even if the idea maybe mine. I don’t mind that – I kind of prefer that he is opinionated and outspoken because it gets me thinking. And his ideas are good, he speaks from experience. But he is more practical than aesthetic, and I try to balance both. When I took this job, I had no idea how many decisions I would have to make. I mean, even where the switch should be located.

AM and I have different opinions on small things – should 1 switch control 4 lights or should we have 2 switches control 2 lights each? He thinks the fewer the switches the better, and I think that the fewer the lights we use the better. Our building pays for electrical bills so we don’t need to conserve electricity, but I don’t want to use more lights than necessary. We decided to rely on our contractor’s decisions wherever we disagree. I see now why my contractor thinks architects are impractical – architects just draw on a piece of paper while contractors execute and know more about the stuff. Architects focus on aesthetics and may sometimes be impractical while contractors are always practical while being aesthetically-challenged sometimes.


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Vampire Diaries

I recently got into the show Vampire Diaries. I am growing to like CW11 shows – Gossip Girl, and now VD. As the title suggests, the show is about vampires and is based on a series of books by the same name. I completed two books in the series, but the show is way better.

Stefan is a vampire 165 years old. He has an older brother, Damon. Stefan has stopped killing people for blood and instead survives on animal blood (per the book and hinted at slightly on the show). Damon, OTOH, has no qualms about killing people and drinking their blood, which makes Damon more powerful than Stefan.

Stefan lives in Mystic Falls (Falls Church in the book, located in Virginia). He goes to school and comes across Elena, who is a doppelganger of his long dead love, Katherine. Damon loved Katherine too. In the book, Katherine is a vampire who turns both Damon and Stefan into vampires. Both brothers hated each other. Katherine was kind and had a good heart, and since she could not choose between the two, she killed herself because both brothers wanted her to choose. This increased the rift between both brothers. The books focus more on the love triangle between Elena, Stefan, and Damon, with the scale tipping in favor of Stefan and Elena. Book Elena is selfish, a typical teenager, popular in school, and has a dark side.

The show is much more amazing, and has reversed Katherine and Elena. Show Katherine is ruthless, mean, and selfish, while Elena is mature and good-hearted. Damon is intrigued by Elena but the love triangle is not yet in the picture – not sure if the show intends to go there. But the show does intend to bring Katherine back, probably to wreak havoc. She will for sure throw a fit when she sees Elena, and Stefan in love with Elena.

In this story, vampires are converted if some vampire drinks their blood and feeds them their blood. If someone dies with vampire blood in their system, they become vampires after they are dead and need human blood to survive. Damon and Stefan are the only few vampires who can move around in the sun due to a ring that they came in possession of through Katherine. They can eat and drink other food too like normal human beings and consume a lot of alcohol to keep away the craving for human blood. They cannot enter any residential area unless invited in, and once invited they can come in as and when they desire. They can compel and manipulate other people to do whatever they desire. They have very good senses, and can move very fast. On the show, Katherine compels Stefan to love her while she did not need to compel Damon since he already loved her.

The show uses very dark background and setting to add mystic to its characters, and Stefan and Damon look fair with red lips which is so typical of vampires. Stefan has this deep and brooding look with sunken eyes. Elena is a brunette who is as brooding and serious as Stefan. The dialogs are amazing!!! They are humorous and show how much Stefan and Elena have in common, which adds to their chemistry. Elena’s best friend Bonnie is a witch, and there is a werewolf lurking somewhere in the story. The show also refers a lot to the history of the town, which is depicted through Elena’s parents books read by her younger brother. Elena lost her parents recently and is trying to move on with her life. Elena’s other friend, Caroline, is a sweet blond who is looking for the perfect hot guy. Everyone on the show is so good looking. Stefan and Elena have oodles of chemistry which builds with each episode. While the over-arching theme is that Stefan is not as strong as Damon, there are glimpses into Stefan’s strength and potential dark side. Damon’s careless confidence, charming ways, and brutality will surely get him into trouble.

Small things like Logan (a new vampire) not being able to enter his own house because he lived alone and has nobody to invite him in, Elena’s asking Stefan “are you thirsty” (duh he is a vampire and you know what thirst is for him), and Stefan’s telling Elena that he keeps a journal to keep memories intact (well, if you live for 165 years, its a long time to remember things!!) add a touch of humor to the overall dark tone. The show is amazing, and I do hope it keeps the pulse alive till the end. And in subsequent seasons. Most shows fizzle out in following seasons after the first wave of popularity, which is what happened to Gossip Girl, Heroes, and The Apprentice. I hope this show stays for good.

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I watched Avatar in Imax 3D in the very first seat. Never ever ever sit in the first seat in a 3D Imax show – close images look blurred and for the initial 30 mins I considered returning my ticket because I could not watch the entire film with blurred images. Anyway I sat through it, but never again.

The images used in the film are quite good, and although reviewers everywhere are raving about the film and its imagery, it fell short for me. It was too long, boring, lacked effective storytelling, was predictable and cheesy in every single way. Its probably worth watching once, probably. I am too bored to write the entire story, but its such a typical film. The dialogs are quite bad too. Really, nothing interesting except for the two lead actors (Sam Worthington of Terminator Salvation, you know the movie where Christian Bale threw a fit and that video was leaked on Youtube and Bale had to issue an apology for his tantrum; and Zoe Saldana of Star Trek where she was paired with with adorable Gabriel Grey of Heroes, and “how to apply her eyeliner in Star Trek ” videos ruled Youtube when the movie was released). Both actors have done an amazing job. Some of the visuals were quite good, but visuals do not a movie make. I compare it with Pan’s Labyrinth which had haunting visuals and excellent storytelling, and I prefer Pan’s Lab much more.

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I watched 3 Idiots on its release date 12/23. I have been waiting and waiting for this movie – Amir Khan is my favorite actor and ALL his movies are amazing in every way – acting, direction, songs, etc. 3 Idiots was not up to Amir’s level. I have come to expect nothing but perfection from him, and this one was not. I expect it to do well though because it is overall a good movie.

First, none of the songs were good except for “All is well” and”behti hawa sa tha woh”. All the other songs were boring. He usually uses AR Rahman’s music for all his films, not this one. Second, the story was stupid, cheesy, and totally unrealistic – not like Bollywood movies are realistic, but still. Third, pregnancy scenes. I hate pregnancy scenes in general because they are gross and show women in the worst possible manner. Fourth, sending the hero to martyrdom. I am so sick of Bollywood heroes playing the martyr in movies. This movie had plenty of that.

Now for the good part. Amir was adorable and has not aged a day. He has maintained his youthful look. There are many funny parts in the movie. Amir’s movies have day-to-day humor and friendships that last a lifetime. The humor is what keeps this movie alive and a must-watch at least once. And Kareena’s Indian dresses – she looks adorable in them.

The story is based on Chetan Bhagat’s book – loosely based. The entire film was shot in IIM-Bangalore. Amir and his two closets friends are students at the best college in India, ICE (ahem… based on IIT). His friends cram for the exams, a big problem with the Indian education system. Their parents put a lot of pressure on education and going to the best colleges (again so typical of India). Parents want their kids to be doctors or engineers. The movie is based on this pressure felt by kids and problems with the education system that encourages students to cram to pass in exams rather than inculcate in them a desire to obtain knowledge. Amir is different – he is there just to obtain knowledge, and comes first in class on that basis alone. His friends always come last. They are all so naughty, and the principal played by the lovable Boman Irani is fed up with their tactics. Amir Khan falls in love with Kareena who is Boman’s daughter and a doctor.

After Amir and his friends cross a line by stealing an exam paper set up Boman to fail one of Amir’s friends (BTW Kareena gave them this info and the key to Boman’s office), Boman rusticates them from the college. The same day the city is flooded with rains. Boman’s older daughter (Mona Singh) is pregnant and needs to be driven to the hospital. (Another blip – Mona Singh looks like Kareena’s YOUNGER sister, not older). No taxi will take them in the floods. This is when the story goes downhill and gets oh so cheesy. Instead of taking Mona back upstairs in the house, Amir and his friends take her to the college’s ping pong table. Kareena on the webcam tries to teach them how to push the baby out. She tells Amir that there is a vacuum that doctors use to push the baby out when the mother is too tired. The light then goes out. Amir uses his knowledge to get the lights back on, and uses a vacuum cleaner to prepare the suction that Mona needs. Ugh!!! Finally the baby is out. But that is not all. The baby does not cry, and everyone is worried that it is not alive. Amir says “all is well” and the baby starts kicking. OMG!!! This is just so Bollywood. How many times have actors come back from the dead just after hearing such cheesy lines? Ugh.

Then Amir, the martyr that he is, delivers the baby and picks up his bags to leave dutifully since Boman kicked him out. Of course Boman stops him, and Amir is the best student of the class on graduation day bla bla bla. But yes there is a surprise ending which is quite hilarious.

A funny, cheesy, typical Bollywood movie with a lot of good humor and adorable actors in Amir, Sharman Joshi, Madhavan, and Boman Irani. A good movie but not to Amir’s level. Amir is like the boy who never grew up – all his movies focus on youth. Dil Chahta Hai, Rang De Basanti, and now 3 Idiots. Dil Chahta Hai was amazing. I gave the cheesy Rang De Basanti a pass due to the awesome songs and parallels with the extremists which kind of made the cheesy & martyr-type ending justifiable. I hope he doesn’t make any more of such cheesy films – its time for him to grow up.

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J Sisters is one of the most popular waxing places in NYC, and rightfully so. I have been a customer for years. I usually go to Teresa, but she recently left — now I have to find someone new! The question is, should I go to Teresa in another salon or to J sisters? I ended up with J sisters — this is what they are known for, and they probably use better products than other salons. So yeah I found someone new. Ever tried their Brazilian bikini? Amazing!!!!! They are pricey, but totally worth it. I strayed to other salons for lower prices, but nobody is as good as the J sisters. Their Brazilian is a must! My husband and I are happy customers (lol).

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I bought my first pair of shoes online, and am addicted to online shopping. Imagine shopping from the comfort of your home – no dealing with crowds, waiting outside fitting rooms, annoying salespeople, transportation, etc. I have 8 boxes sitting in my living room. I ordered so many pairs in different sizes because I wasn’t sure what would work best – this is the first time ordering shoes online and comfort is so important!

I ordered from Zappos, Piperlime, and Naturalizer. Zappos is awesome – they have a VIP promo where if you sign up for it you get next day free delivery of the shoes. I order at night and by the time I get home the next day, I have new pairs of shoes waiting for me! I like Piperlime’s website the best though. But I got way better deals from Naturalizer. They had a 20% off promo, plus I got a coupon code for 15% off, plus free shipping till Dec 25. I saved $40+!! I ordered from Zappos and Piperlime, tried out the shoes, purchased directly from Naturalizer for the lower price and planned to keep the ones from Naturalizer due to the lower price. But I ended up keeping the ones from Zappos because they had the right fit. Zappos has the most collection but doesn’t do discounts.

I really like Naturalizer shoes – they are comfortable, seem durable, and have great reviews. Now I need to send all extra boxes back — for free! Zappos and Piperlime do free shipping free returns, and I can return Naturalizer in their stores.

Maybe in time I will start shopping for clothes online too. My fav store Nordstrom is now opening in NYC, I am excited! I don’t have to go to New Jersey now.

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I came across the Bocci light fixtures while surfing for lighting. Gorgeous, gorgeous fixtures designed by Omer Arbel. They look like candles floating in water. These pictures do not do it justice. They are pricey – each globe costs $200 with the pendant. They come in clusters of 5, 10, 14 or more. 14 is ideal, but too expensive!

The new American Eagle store on Times Square has these fixtures on the entry floor. They probably spent $10,000 on it — yes I counted them, and they had around 52 of these. But the store display does not do these fixtures justice. There are track lights brighter than the Bocci all around this fixture, and since the track lights are way brighter, the Bocci’s visual awe is diminished. What a shame! To spend $10K and not even worth it. Waste of money if you ask me. The Bocci is best when its the only lighting in that area, although it doesn’t give off enough light to be a primary source.

Club Monaco on Columbus Ave also has these fixtures – I will check them out today. Gorgeous, gorgeous fixtures, best seen from afar.

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