DateJanuary 22, 2009

drop in the bucket

Saad arrived thirty minutes before exam time. The halls were full of nervous, chaotic students chattering about possible solutions and methods. Saad, however, felt a silent calm. It wasn’t that he was confident, he was simply tired. He had been up all night long, in bed with the textbook and problem sets, and with coffee as his companion.

When the TA had given the go, Saad decided to pace himself through the exam. Easy questions first and hardest questions last, he thought. Half an hour into the exam, his stomach started to growl. Saad had skipped breakfast in the morning, or perhaps he had forgotten. He tightened his abdomen muscles hoping no one heard anything.

With an hour left to go, Saad started to doze off a little. He quickly shook it off, and continued with the exam. He started to feel that his nose had started to run, and before he could reach for a tissue paper, a drop from his nose fell splat on the exam paper. Except that this drop was red in colour. Saad realized that his nose had started to bleed. He brought this right hand up to his nose, as a cup to hold and collect the drops of blood. He raised his left hand to catch the TA’s attention, “My nose is bleeding.”

“Are you okay?” asked the TA, a little concerned and a little suspicious.

“I’ll be fine, it’s just blood,” Saad rushed towards the washrooms.

As drops of blood fell onto the sink, Saad rolled up a piece of paper towel, stuck it up his nostril, and washed the blood off his hand. He cleaned up the sink and looked at the ceiling for a few minutes, hoping to let the blood clot and hold. Once satisfied, he took extra pieces of paper towel with him back to the exam room, just in case.

“Are you okay?” asked the TA again.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Saad took his seat in the exam room.

There were a number of problems left to solve and Saad started to work his way into the exam. After a few moments he heard a sound, “Psssttt…”

Saad looked around and everyone seemed to be continuing as normal. The TA was seated at the front of the room, reading a magazine.

“Psssttt…,” Saad heard the sound again, realising that it was coming from the drop of blood, “You had a great chance to cheat there.”

“What?” replied Saad, in a whisper.

“When you went to the washroom, you had a great chance to cheat.”

“No, I mean… what is going on? How is this possible?”

“How is what possible?”

“This conversation, I am talking to a drop of blood.” Saad looked at the drop that had now embedded itself into the exam paper and turned a purple like colour.

“So what? Who told you blood can’t talk? You’re talking to me now, so this must be real.”

“This is insane!”

“Hah, I think you had better concentrate on your exam, Saad.”

“Not with all this talking, can you keep it down? The TA is already suspicious of brown people, I don’t want to get into any trouble.”

Saad continued on with some of the harder problems on the exam.

“I think you better double check that.”

“What? Double check what?”

“That problem you just finished, the third step is messed up.”

“Holy shit, you’re right! How did you know?”

“I’m literally a part of the paper. Oh, and you should know, the answer to question number 11 is the same as question number 3. Question 11 is the hardest.”

“Wait a minute, this is cheating!”

“How is it cheating?”

“You’re giving me the answers and correcting my mistakes.”

“But I was a part of you, I am your blood. How can this be cheating?”

“Because you’re telling me what to do before I think of it. Are you just my mind?”

“No, I am your blood.”

The TA fake coughed, putting an end to Saad’s whispers. The answer to question 11 was indeed the same as the answer to question 3.

“See, I told you so,” said the drop of blood.

“Yes, thank you, but there is something so wrong about this. I need you to go away.”

“You still have a few more questions to do.”

Saad went on to finish the exam with hints from the drop blood from time to time. The exam time ended and the TA started to collect all the papers.

“I hope I never have to see you again,” whispered Saad.

“Excuse me? If you’re taking thermodynamics next semester, you will see me.”, said the TA, slightly disturbed.

On the way back home all the students were discussing their answers and planning for the next exam.

“How’d it go Saad?” asked Helen.

“It was weird, but I think it went fine. I think,” replied Saad, “I’m too tired to think, I haven’t slept.”

Saad immediately fell asleep when he got home.


It’s been over two years with the domain name change to jaaduhai, and there has only been one actual magic video so far on the blog. And nothing with cards.

So here it is, one of my favourite effects:

intertubes from Adnan Ali on Vimeo.


Impro for Storytellers

The following is an excerpt from Keith Johnstone’s Impro for Storytellers (it’s an extension/expansion of his thoughts in Impro) that I came across today.

Journey without Maps

My son is scowling at a piece of paper.
“What’s that?” I ask.
“A semantic map!”
“A what?”
“I have to write a story and I’m supposed to map out everything that’s going to happen so that my teacher can mark it. She says it’ll stop me writing the wrong things.”
(He’s aged ten and yet she’s already destroying his pleasure in writing just as someone once destroyed hers.)
“Why not draw the map afterwards?”
“But how will I know what to write?”
“Have you ever been on the beach and discovered a cave?”
“Did you go in?”
“Of course.”
“Well – writing a story can be like creeping into a forbidden house, or lowering a gigantic hook into a haunted lake.”
He likes this idea. “But how do I begin?”
“Start with something ordinary and then have something mysterious happen.”
He goes away for a while, full of enthusiasm, but then he comes back disheartened, and says, “I’m stuck!”
“What’s your story about?”
“It’s about a boy who has to write a story.”
“Is he in trouble?”
“Well, stories are about people who get into trouble.”
He rushes off for a whole hour and comes back looking pleased. “He’s in such a mess. Now what?”
“Either rescue him or make him suffer more.”
“But how can I end my story?”
“Feed things back in that happened earlier. Where did your story begin?”
“At school.”
“Then why not work the school into the end of the story? Stuff you’ve mentioned earlier should be reincorporated.”
“Fed back in. Oroborus.”
“What’s oroborus?”
“A snake eating its tail.”
Stories seem so well constructed that it’s natural for teachers to assume they were thought up in advance, but Gregor Samsa could have mated with another cockroach, and Humpty Dumpty could have been unscrambled by feeding him to a chicken.


We were made to do the MBTI Personality Test as part of the Organizational Behaviour course. I’ve done one on the internet before and have been classified as an INTP type. I was curious to see whether doing the “official” test would result in the same, it did. When the professor asked us our opinions about personalities and personality tests I wanted to raise my hand and say, “yeah, so I did the personality test, and it says that my personality is awesome.”, but I didn’t.

I find personality tests both odd and interesting. It seems to me that a personality test would tell you what you think of yourself since you are the one answering questions about yourself. This way the result will be what you think of yourself. So if in one of those blog quiz personality tests you get the results saying that you are awesome, it might not be because you are awesome, but because you think you’re awesome. It would be interesting to see how the results would differ if someone else were to fill in the test for you. I did say that in class, that the results are what you think of yourself. The professor said that the tests are designed to work around that. I’d be interested in reading stuff by Carl Jung and David Keirsey.

I think that the description of an INTP is fairly accurate in describing me, but then again, I think that it’s what I think of myself anyway.

Here is what Wikipedia says about INTPs:

INTP types are quiet, thoughtful, analytical individuals who don’t mind spending long periods of time on their own, working through problems and forming solutions. They are very curious about systems and how things work, and are frequently found in careers such as science, architecture and law. INTPs tend to be less at ease in social situations and the “caring professions,” although they enjoy the company of those who share their interests. They also tend to be impatient with the bureaucracy, rigid hierarchies, and politics prevalent in many professions, preferring to work informally with others as equals.

INTPs organize their understanding of any topic by articulating principles, and they are especially drawn to theoretical constructs. Having articulated these principles for themselves, they can demonstrate remarkable skill in explaining complex ideas to others in simple terms, especially in writing. On the other hand, their ability to grasp complexity may also lead them to provide overly detailed explanations of “simple” ideas, and listeners may judge that the INTP makes things more difficult than they are. This to the INTP, however, is incomprehensible: They are merely presenting all of the information.

INTPs’ extraverted intuition often gives them a quick wit, especially with language, and they can defuse the tension in gatherings by comical observations and references. They can be charming, even in their quiet reserve, and are sometimes surprised by the high esteem in which their friends and colleagues hold them.

When INTPs feel insulted, however, they may respond with sudden and crushing criticism. After such an incident, INTPs are likely to be as bewildered s the recipient. They have broken the rules of debate and exposed their raw emotions. This to an INTP is the crux of the problem: their emotions are to be dealt with in a logical manner. If improperly handled, they can only harm.

Here is what Wikipedia says about Architects (Keirsey’s equivalent of an INTP):

Architects are introspective, pragmatic, informative, and attentive. The scientific systemization of all knowledge, or Architectonics, is highly developed in Architects, who are intensely curious and see the world as something to be understood. Their primary interest is to determine how things are structured, built, or configured. Architects are designers of theoretical systems and new technologies. Rearranging the environment to fit their design is a distant goal of Architects.

Of all the role variants, Architects are the most logically and verbally precise. In casual conversations, they may be tempted to point out errors the other speaker makes, with the simple goal of maintaining clarity within the exchange. In serious discussions, Architects’ abilities to detect distinctions, inconsistencies, contradictions, and frame arguments gives them an enormous advantage. In debates, Architects can sometimes be devastating, or alienate themselves from the group with overly logical arguments.

Of all the role variants, Architects have the greatest ability to analyze the world in depth. They prefer to quietly work alone and they may shut other people out if they are focused on analysis. This, coupled with the fact that Architects are usually shy, makes it difficult for other individuals to get to know them. In social exchanges, Architects are more interested in informing others about what they have learned than they are interested in directing the actions of others.

Credentials or other forms of traditional authority do not impress Architects. Instead, logically coherent statements are the only things that seem to persuade them. Architects highly value intelligence, and can be impatient with people with less ability than they have. Architects often perceive themselves as being one of the few individuals capable of defining the ends a society must achieve and will often strive to find the most efficient means to accomplish their ends. This perspective can make Architects seem arrogant to others.

What does your type look like?

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