# When The Odds Are Trolling

Have you ever taken a stand on the situation and shouted – “how the heck did this happen?” or sighed – “huh! what were the odds?” or, or frowned – “this is not what I expected”? Well then, you have got a company here.

My friends from the spaceflight community would know this –

18th December 2018 (UTC timing) – With 5[1] back to back rocket launches scheduled, this day was going to be written in history. The entire December has been a party for us space nerds but this was like a double bonanza. It has actually started feeling like we have ushered into a new era of space race.

But, but, the lauchapalooza turned into scrubapalooza when 4 out of 5 launches got scrubbed for 4 different reasons.

SPACEX – Falcon 9 with USAAF GPS-III 2 satellite – Out of family reading on first stage sensors

Blue Origin New Shepard with NASA Payload – Ground infrastructure issue

Arianespace – Soyuz CS01 mission – Bad weather conditions

ULA Delta IV Heavy with NROL-71 satellite – Scrubbed due to high winds

ISRO GSLV Mk-II with GSAT-7A satellite – Launched half hour later than first scheduled time but within the launch window

Huh! what were the chances of that? Let’s do a little bit of maths here, should we?

A rocket can either launch or stay hold on a particular day. So 2 possibilities.

Summing it over 5 independent launches, the probability of that all of them would be scrubbed is –

$(\frac{1}{2})(\frac{1}{2})(\frac{1}{2})(\frac{1}{2})(\frac{1}{2}) = \frac{1}{32}$

Ok, things are little weird with binary possibilities because compliment of $\frac{1}{2}$ is also $\frac{1}{2}$ and in any case, the probability would be $\frac{1}{32}$ . For accuracy sake, we should actually take Probability of Go into account for each of those launches. The result would be an even smaller fraction considering weather wasn’t much of the issue for three of them. In a sense, nature actually picked the option which was the least probable.

At the time of writing this post, SpaceX has attempted its GPS-III launch for the 4th time in 5 days and it has been scrubbed again. By the time I would be posting this, hopefully, they will have a successful launch.

But this wasn’t the inspiration behind this post (although, it certainly contributed to some content and an interesting start, in my opinion). The topic first came into my mind at one cold morning of early December when I was standing at the train station. It was an overnight journey and I had another train to catch a few hours later. So I separated myself from the crowd and got to the waiting area. While standing there, I looked around and suddenly it struck me. The scenery felt rather odd.

I have been to that place numerous times before but that day it felt like being caught in the wee hours when it was still getting ready. I do accept that it was more of an internal feeling than an external cause yet it got me thinking – what are the odds of me witnessing it like this? It wasn’t even a planned trip.

Later that day, I took the most defeated walk of my recent memory. A plethora of emotions turned, twisted, collided and merged inside my head as my feet traced the road which stretched to eternity. I felt totally helpless, for now, I held a secret I couldn’t have divulged. On the other side, the usual place of my retreat wasn’t the same because of a sudden turn of events. I wished I could be a recluse, just for that day or the day later. Yet at that moment, I knew, I was the only strong bond holding all loose ends together.

You know those voices at the back of your head which shout the least favorable but probable outcomes? The one we shut down because either we don’t wanna face it or those we think are irrelevant – chances of later being less. What’s the way of safeguarding yourself? Would you turn and run away or would it take it head on as it comes?

There have been far too many such instances recently which led me to re-evaluate the odds of mere speculations. In a sense, this entire year has been like that. Facing the least expected. Fighting the odds which knocked on my door. I was cornered into my little space, confined in seclusion until I turned, looked it straight into the eye and decided to fight. Let’s see what all I can remember for the recap –

I started this year still working in a so-called core company. It was a well-respected Govt. job and I am grateful to it for giving a start to my professional career but it sucked the soul out of me. I constantly felt like I was downplaying myself but it paid well because of which I was finally able to finish my student loan within a year of graduating – that was my biggest relief (people spend years buried in debt). I started out at one place got transferred to another place in the second quarter and finally, after months of scrutiny, I resigned. Seriously, don’t get stuck in a shitty job and get out while you can. Life is too short but weigh your liabilities carefully before you take the risk.

I got a coveted fellowship but took a conscious decision of not taking it. It was after I took a hit of the quarter-life crisis. Relaxed, enjoyed with my bio-design buddies and traveled to a new place to stay with my friend while I applied to different jobs there. It felt like a tug-of-war between my fate and destiny. Things didn’t materialize according to my expectation but settling with alternatives meant neutralizing the risk I had taken. For two months, I fought with the question of ‘what actually that I should be focusing on?‘. Somewhere in between the process, I realized, I needed to re-calibrate my strategy to be able to do things I really want to do. Specialization is for ants but one should develop a strong core-skill first. Other things can be outsourced.

Owning to my responsibility of an elder brother, I came back to look after my brother’s preparation for upcoming exams while I turned my focus towards building a portfolio & planning for graduate studies. I realized that the break would be a little longer because application deadlines approached faster than I could have caught up. On the bright side, I have got time to gain research experience (although it has to be at the mercy of professors I have been mailing). This break has been a bitter-sweet phase but I got to consolidate my future career plans.

Somewhere in February, my school friend called me to talk about this idea about a 360-degree travel experience platform that he has been working on. I liked it and went on-board. For the next 2 months, we worked most part of the nights. We had a working product ready and hence, triplou.com was born.

Working on a startup besides full-time hectic job was a challenge and it certainly took a toll on my physical health. But it was all worth it when we saw the hits counter rising. We entered into few startup competitions in hope that it would bring us recognition (the cheapest and least expensive method of gaining credibility). Didn’t make it to some even after hefty write-up and a concise pitch-deck. Well, that’s how these B-Plan competitions go but it doesn’t lessen our worth. We are now in the finals of one – looking forward to it.

I met my family once in January when my brother’s son was born and then again when we celebrated my parents’ 25th anniversary. I took my niece for shopping and brought her favorite dress with my own money. Held my brother’s daughter like she is a part of me while she slept in my lap – the absolute best feeling of my entire life.

It was also a time to look at relationships from a critical perspective when I understood how each of them rests on a fragile delicate balance. The string is tightened by compromises made on both sides. Also, when we start romanticizing someone, somewhere along the line, it ceases to be about the person and start to be more about the very idea of that person being in our life. It’s not worth it if it is not reciprocated and you should rather spend time on things that make you special. Some people are non-linear humans after all. This story also inspired the plot for my upcoming short film ‘That Thing About Lost Chances‘.

The test also covered the syllabus of friendship when my best friend and I took the opposite stand on an issue which led him to pivot into a totally different career field. Felt like it was for all the wrong reasons and I tried my hardest to convince him. He later came back to his senses and found a rational reason behind his decision. That was certainly a difficult period to deal with but I learned that you don’t easily give up on people you love. You simply can’t.

On the other side, our WhatsApp group ‘Kerala Expedition‘ felt silent for the most part. It was occasional buzz ground but went on frequent hiatuses. It has started dawning on me how our lives have taken different turns after college. We still haven’t made our trip to Kerala, hence the name continues. All four of us are now living in four different cities preparing to pursue four different careers (the odds man!). We didn’t get together at one place even once but I met two of them when I went on the Bangalore trip.

On the creative front, the first half was rather slow and I don’t recall any significant even worth mentioning. By March, I was finally able to churn out my first video of the year -‘The New Kind‘. I made it as a channel trailer promising more frequent videos with more unique stories. It peaked up the momentum afterward and I was all geared but it has come to an absolute halt by the end of the year. Tons of footage has still not made it to the editing room.

I had planned to make a video series titled ‘The Job Experience‘ for which I have been shooting for the past one and half years. I wrote the script, organized the footage and I had nearly finished editing the first episode but then I had to give it a rest. My focus was shifted for the above-stated reasons so I can say that the place and time haven’t been favorable. It’s still in post-production and now scheduled for next year.

For the first time, I got to collaborate with my friend who is an excellent cinematographer to edit his travel video. It felt absolutely amazing editing those beautiful shots and the entire video came out really good. Finally, I was done editing my sister’s wedding video after she continued pestering me for a year and I gifted it to her on Raksha Bandhan. I also shot sort of a documentary on a person in whom I saw a reflection of my own story but I couldn’t edit that too. We went to some exotic places in the land obscura to shoot. Face that These are secluded places which not many people know about, made the experience even more exciting

This lake right here is in a bear-prone forest in the middle of nowhere.

Blog posts which were highly unpolished in the first three quarters finally started taking shape in the fourth, There are still some incomplete ones which I need to finish. My writing grew more and more personal and started piling up in my personal notes rather than ending on this blog. Twitter became my micro-diary but some things are still better left unsaid. I also posted more on my tech blog than the previous year but not to my satisfaction. My reading this year, which was only confined to articles on random sites, finally returned toward novels as I got to complete a few books. I missed my yearly goal by a large margin though and honestly, it sucks!

On the consumption side, I only remember finishing my long-awaited fourth and fifth season of ‘Silicon Valley‘ and now think it is the best tech-comedy ever written. I got hang of Reddit way too much in the first half but got in my senses in second. Later, I got obsessed with videos about ‘Exploration‘ – from Antarctic sea to Amazon forests, hidden civilizations and the world beyond our blue marble. It was a manifestation of the phase I was going through. I looked up for things which would help me become far-sighted and not get bothered by immediate circumstances. It rekindled my tryst with space.

I also watched a lot of SNL sketches (I mean a lot). Some excellent channels were added to my subscription list which taught me a completely new way of looking things. Peter Mckinnon continued to be my push to get things done while discovering Everyday Astronaut & BPS.space is certainly one of the best things that came out of my otherwise random YouTube surfing. I think I teared up watching Rory’s Lake Life 5.

Music continued to be a big part of my existence. It is the voice of my conscience. I ventured to explore even more genres and worldly music this year- not just confining myself to songs I can understand. Music transcends comprehension. I looked into the heart of techno through Charlotte de Witte & trance music through Armin Van Buuren, fell in love with lofi hip-hop – all thanks to Cubic Radiation!

It is mostly people who make up for off-screen experiences and this year, I got to meet some really great ones who accompanied me on this journey – from the toughest guy I knew who broke down when the time came for us to depart to the apprentices who came forward with all their heart to make my stay less miserable at an unknown place. I particularly remember one guy I met through my colleague who wanted me to make a dance audition video for him. He worked as a janitor in the day but slogged his night hours for dance practice because it was his passion. It was my absolute privilege to oblige and a great experience to count for before I left that place. I met several other inspirational persons who showed how talent nurtures among adversity and constraints.

In conclusion, a major part of this year was spent on daydreaming, finding means of escape. I started detaching from things that were near and longed for those which were so distant. Lessons were learned the hard way as I wandered through another year of adulthood without a guide. Let me tell you the crux of it all[2].

Getting what you want, how you want it, whenever you want it, is about three very simple things –

1. Find something you want
2. Find out how to get it
3. Get it.

Only you can get the trolling odds to turn into your favor.

Note – I know this post went quite long but eh! Hope I could pack some lessons in those words. Wish you all a very happy new year in advance. May your wishes come true and you achieve greater heights. Have a great one! 🙂

Footnotes –

1. If we count ISRO’s GSLV Mk-II launch early morning next day.

2. These are not my words but absolutely nails the lesson. I took it from one of Mio’s vlogs.

The feature image is that of Starman on a Tesla Roadster on his way to Mars. It was launched on Falcon Heavy, courtesy of SpaceX. Couldn’t have chosen a better image for my year in review.

Song highlight

This song is attached to a very personal memory of mine. Last year, while I was listening to this song, I actually lived it lyrics (see the odds here?). At that moment I had decided that I have to make a video on it. I had the entire storyboard in mind and I gave myself till this year’s Christmas. Well, that didn’t happen.

It was relatively easier to make videos in college because someone or the other would volunteer for the role. It has been so tough afterwards since I’m not doing it professionally. Anyway, this song is still on my list, so if you or anyone you know would be interested in this project, hit me up. Peace✌

# Stillness

Why is it that when I think of a title, there is always something else attached to the main word? Really, just look at all my previous blog titles. It’s never a single word for the sake of carrying all its essence. Does making it longer convey more information or lesser the word, the broader its domain? Well, certainly this is something to ponder upon.

Anyway, breaking the norm this time, I come up with a topic that struck me hard recently (almost like a eureka moment) – stillness or rather the dynamism behind it.

So, I was combing through my WordPress feed, looking over some of your blogs. There I came across a post which talked about anime. I don’t exactly remember who wrote it but I’m sure he/she was someone I had recently followed. I went to the comment section to see what others have suggested and there I found this movie which instantly intrigued me. Title – The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Now, the title itself is sufficient to raise significant interest, so naturally it tickled the cinephile in me who is in perpetual search for a good addition to his growing list.

I should take a moment here to describe my lesser-explored fascination for anime. I have never talked about it on this blog because I never understood myself what exactly about it that resonated with me, besides my understanding of the complexity involved and of course some of the childhood memories which have faded over time. In college, few of my friends were truly crazy about gaming, manga, anime or anything that involved some sort of artificial character in the virtual world (which is conspicuous unlike fiction).

I always felt disconnected then because I couldn’t relate it to anything real. I was too busy chasing stars in my physical world. Pardon me to say this but it also felt a little kiddish for my taste (or so I thought). Anyway, it didn’t catch up to me until that time in the final year when I fell for someone who identified herself as a proud citizen of the anime-verse. So, I had to follow upon.

I had always looked at animation from a viewpoint of creating it – time, effort, skills, patience – and all of those that are essential to make a beautiful art piece but I couldn’t fathom its extent for effective storytelling until I saw ‘Death Note‘. That anime simply blew my mind and established a new benchmark for any future psychological thriller I’m going to watch. All of a sudden, it felt like a new world has opened up.

How could I be so naive about it? Source – Giphy

Watching ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time‘ simply consolidated my newfound belief. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend that you give it a try. The story, the animation, the sound design – the overall execution is just incredible!

Anyway, more than halfway through the movie there is a scene that captivated my imagination. At this timestamp (what could only be called the climax), everything comes at a halt and there are several still scenes are shown to symbolize that. What’s commendable is the usage of parallax movement of layers to account for the running time. The animator has beautifully utilized movement in relation to the progress of the movie even though the context is essentially that of frozen time.

If anyone has worked with graphic designing software, you would know how it essentially works on layers. In movie editing, we can either use motion keyframes or rotoscoping to separate out the elements and achieve a similar effect but technicality aside, I would let the scene do the talking –

Now, let me put some of those frames as images –

Does it feel the same? No, right? Isn’t that amazing?

At that instant, I knew I had to write about it. But what? As a person who prefers longer posts over short rants, I had some thinking to do. I wanted to look for instances in real life which could be mapped with this stillness function that yield dynamic results. I wanted to look for the inherent property of life i.e. dynamism disguising itself in other still moments. Think about it – it’s so non-intuitive yet so much rooted in reality. It feels like those paradoxical theorems of Quantum mechanics.

As a film-maker, I work with videos which are essentially moving images typically rendered at 24 fps. I know this but if I am to nit-pick individual frames and talk about its effectiveness, I would take a critical stand. Videos, from an engineering perspective, have always been that synergy where the overall effect is greater than the sum of its parts. But photographs are known to elicit strong emotions, right? Heck, I prefer taking photos over test videos to set the framing and test composition. Then, why don’t I venture into it more often?

Honestly, my photographs lacked movement. My still images feel like as if numbness has crept into the liveliness of the scene. But I’ve seen photographs which beautifully incorporate dynamism and I’m sure you have too. I have tried to learn that craft but somehow the learning didn’t translate to the intended effect in the final result. It still felt like it lacked a critical component for wholesome portrayal. Photography is that sense is much harder. It is like a highly efficient compression algorithm that crunches the whole data into its bit size storage.

Thinking about it made me wrap some of my surreal experiences by a single thread. These are the things that strike you at odd moments when you are lost in reverie. When you are motionless outside but your mind is host to turbulent thoughts that try to give definition to abstract phenomena. These are somehow internalized and keep piling up. I particularly remember something like this from my childhood.

Growing up in an Indian countryside essentially meant a constant chase with power cuts. There was no escaping though. In one of those dark nights when it would happen, the time that already passed lazily would feel like coming to a complete stop and the only thing that showed there was life to that still scene was the flickering flame of our study lamp. For me, those were the moments of reflection, of realization of something larger-than-life, of recapturing the world which has slipped out of my fist during the day. You were all to yourself wandering into your imaginary world where solitary nights carried you.

About the imaginary places – do you form imagery of a place or a person just by the name of it? Think about that time when someone told you that they visited a place or met someone or stayed somewhere and suddenly you have a picture in your mind of how it would be. It’s instantaneous without any need for description. Of course, it is refined based on the information like that crude sketch takings its shape as more features are added to it.

Don’t we picture scenes in our head when reading fiction? I’m sure we do. That’s what we are conditioned to. As a human being, we have more grasp over imagery than textual information. Consider it as a stillness.

Now think about the time you actually encountered that place or person in real. Think about the very first thought. Did it strike you? Think about that infinitesimal moment when you are calibrating the picture in your head against what you actually see. Slow it down and analyze how you are modifying that still imagery to better suit its real form. Later, we may be saying – of course! it’s like this. How else could it have been?

Even in contrasting ways, it makes just as much sense. Now, on some random day when you are out of that space and try to re-picture that place or person, it feels like we cannot imagine it in any other way. The imagery has now changed – the disguised dynamism. It corresponds to a different stillness, transformed albeit to a more persistent one.

And it is not just about things outside of my control. It is even evident in my own works – say writing for example. I am not always with my notebook or laptop ready to write down anything. Inspiration may strike in bizarre ways and the sensible thing to do is to just note it down in my phone’s notepad. Sometimes I would write about it soon enough to retain the original context but more often than not, the time passes and I sit on it till the time it has loosened its essence. I can’t remember what I was actually thinking and now, these are just jumbled words I try to make sense of. It all feels still, desensitized until it is revived by my writing, even though it evolves in a totally different way.

I know this post goes all over the place with this topic but hopefully I gave you a glance through my eyes. There are multiple dimensions to it which I could have explored. Say optical illusion for instance – it is the perfect embodiment of subtle dynamism in stillness.

Stillness is an interesting character, a virtue of objects nonetheless but like it’s said – it’s not alive if it’s not moving and thus we see how movement is sneaked in for a lifelike characteristic. If change is the only constant, can the same be said about its converse? If yes, in what capacity? Think about it.

Have you experienced something that’s hard to explain? Tell me about it in the comments.

Feature image source – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/560768591086248106/

Song highlight (put in your earphones and let it progress, gets better every second) –