Posted in Uncategorized

Meow Learning

The other day I showed Meow a picture of Angela Merkel; precisely this one:

merkel.jpg

and taught her to say “Merkel”along with me.  I made her repeat it thrice and let her resume watching Tinkerbell.

Last week, Angela Merkel was shown many a times in the news after the Brexit results and I was on cloud nine when Meow identified her every time she was shown on TV. Like all proud mommas inhibiting earth, I was bragging about it to my mother when she saw Evelyn Harper from Two and a half men on TV and yelled “Mekkel!!!”

For those of you who did not pay attention to that insanely hilarious show your sibling downloaded from torrents, this is Evelyn Harper.

evelyn.jpg

As an adult you wouldn’t think of this a as a resemblance but apparently the only things that caught her attention were the red suit and blonde hair. To confirm , I showed her this:

diana.jpg

But this was just “Akka” (young lady) to her. I was baffled.

And then we googled for Angela Merkel in a different colored suit:

merkel2.jpg

She got this one right. “Mekkel Mekkel Mekkel”.

I took the experiment a bit further and showed her a picture of Meryl Streep but wearing a dress instead of a suit.

meryl

She marked this as a half hearted “Mekkel” followed by “Mekkel illa” (Not Merkel).

This experiment has seriously got me thinking about the cognitive learning process in human beings. There is no hard and fast rule in identifying or classifying things; there is something much more than just the defined features that makes the process of identification precise. Had it been only the haircut and the suit then Meow should have labelled Diana as “Mekkel” and if it had been just the haircut and the aged look, she should have called Meryl Streep as “Mekkel” without any hesitation.

The results mimic my many experiments with classification problems using machine learning. Some results are true positives and true negatives but at the same time some others are false positives and false negatives.

When I showed her more and more distinct examples of Angela Merkel, Princess Diana, Evelyn Harper and Meryl Streep and gave her a surprise test later, she was able to accurately identify all four of them irrespective of their hair and attire.

Our identification/ classification accuracy increases as we see/ experience more and more over time, but what is that hidden ingredient that makes our classifications 100% accurate after sufficient amount of data but not any machine’s ?

Is it the absence of a pushy momma?

Posted in childing, parenting

Childing, Parenting and Dictating

Childing is when your toddler tries to doodle on the laptop screen assuming it would respond to touches like the Ipad.

Parenting in my opinion is to doodle along with her on the laptop screen and create an imaginary painting; not telling her that the screen is unresponsive – she will learn that herself. When she learns that, the doodling will stop automatically.

Asking her to take her to stop doodling without giving her a reason is dictating.

Sometimes it is okay to dictate. For example: When you are done doing a hundred such imaginary paintings and she is still not bored of it; at this point you might want to use a little dictating and get her a cheap third hand laptop that does not run.

Remember, dictating moderately and at the right times is the key to parenting(as well as to writing, governing, diplomacy and a dozen other radical things that change the world).

The more confident a dictator you are , the less you will be considered a dictator by your child. She will worship you as the almighty who can silence her at times for no apparent reason.

Go ahead, try some.

 

 

Posted in meow

Of pen pals and patience

Both desert and dessert, remind me of a certain “sweet loving” pen pal I used to have from the land of the Thar desert. As much as the both us wanted to write to each other as many times as possible in a month, the snail mail deliveries would mean that we’d get to read each others letter only once in the time frame.

It would be a long wait with bated breath until the next letter arrived. Before that, the current letter would have been circulated among my friends at school. She used to write about the cuisines and traditions of her land which were new and fascinating to all of us. Sometimes, she’d also write a few words in Marwari along with the meaning and I’d translate that in Tamil in my reply. We were not fortunate enough to have Wikipedia or google translate when all this used to happen. One needed to be patient to gain knowledge. The wait could be endless, be it for the letter from this Marwari friend and her two cents, or to lay hands on that library book which someone had borrowed and is yet to be returned. Even changing music albums meant removing the cassette from the player and loading a new one on the right side, fast forwarding to the song of choice and then play it by pressing that big green button on the player. Songs did not play by the touch of a pseudo button.

All our pocket money would be spent on buying letter heads, stamps and glitter pens and not on recharging data packs.

Back in the day, having a pen pal made you the talk of the class. If that pal happened to be from a different country then you’d most likely be elected the “School Fine Arts Secretary” for your writing skills. Now with the advent of Facebook, teenagers these days can quickly befriend anyone from the other side of the globe and even get instant replies. This generation might get a cardiac arrest if I tell them that they might have to wait a month before getting a reply from the friend or to find out the meaning of ‘Gracias’ .

When Meow grows up I will ensure she gets a taste of this pen kinship; if not for the knowledge transfers, at least to experience the feeling of waiting. Even if I am unable to find out a pen pals listing anywhere, I will write letters myself with a pseudo name and a P. O. Box address (Here’s hoping all Postal Services stay alive for another ten years.)

 

 

 

Posted in meow, parenting

How to train your Meow

Toddlers never do anything we order them to do. Take my word for that. They pay attention to something only when it is mutually beneficial for the both of you. And then at times, they don’t pay attention at all, period. But it’s okay. She is a toddler, not a broker.

Meow will never agree to shower if I tell her she needs to get rid of all  the germs from her body or she might fall ill. However she will grin like a Stanley Ipkiss with a mask if I tell her that showering also means playing in water and making soap bubbles.

Same goes for cleaning up after eating. If I tell her she needs to place her plate in the sink after eating because it is good manners, she’ll most certainly go “No no no no no no”. But when I say throw it in the sink and you can hear a “clang”, she’ll run to the kitchen like her life depends on it.

Brush your teeth – “No no no no no no no no”. Care to eat some fluoride free strawberry flavored tooth paste ? Hell yeah.

Come lets read a book – “No no no no no no no no”. Do you want to tear pages off it? You know the drill.

Yet, there are some days when he/she will chose to just stick with her “No” no matter what sugar coated goodies you offer.

The best part of this drama is when such a day occurs at school in front of the tiger/ helicopter/ bullet train moms who are bragging about how obedient and perfect their preschooler is; all it takes for them is just a raised eyebrow and a fraction of a second. Yours might not pay heed even if your eyebrows are stuck at the top of your head for rest of the month. You would be forced to wish for your child to magically turn into Noddy (I mean literally nodding for everything you say).

I have wondered many a time of a life where Meow was like their children. No matter how many times I wonder, thoughts converge at this point: “This blog would not have surfaced.”

Your toddler rebelling in front of others might feel like an Ostrich moment*,  but come to think of it, this is actually a very subtle sign of your toddler’s shoe size getting bigger.

Be proud momma, you’ve done a good job.

Not that one should neglect a child’s disobedience but one should accept that sometimes they behave like that for a reason and the reason is that they don’t need a reason – they are toddlers after all.

*Ostrich moment: Feeling like burying your head to hide from the world.

 

 

Posted in childing, meow

Neigh Patchface

Neigh the horse fractured her leg while entertaining a (huge) bunch of dimwits at the race track. Her master got it fixed at the nearest hospital and was anxious to make Neigh race again as quickly as possible for his fortune at the race track would be at stake otherwise.

Poor Neigh wanted to escape from his clutches and so managed to leave the stable at fall of dusk with the help of Nina the bull dog. Once in the streets, Neigh went in search of a place to spend the night. It was cold, dark and windy; all signs of an impending storm and Neigh hated rains.

A few minutes passed and Neigh spotted a dim light at a distance where a lonely house stood. The sign in front of the house read “Dr. Jolly’s Homeopathy Clinic”. The house also had a stable where another horse like Neigh stood sleeping.

The door opened even before Neigh knocked and in there was a tiny man with a sharp nose. He was busy singing a jolly tune, mixing a green potion and afterwards sprinkled them on small, white mustard sized balls. He greeted Neigh without turning back and a genie offered her some warm horse gram.

The doctor was very friendly towards Neigh and suggested that she spend a few nights at the house until she healed. Neigh was delighted and thanked the doctor for his kindness. She then went to the stable, sat beside the standing horse and slept soundly through the stormy night.

In the morning, Neigh’s stable mate Nathan, woke her up and took her around the garden where they spoke about so many things from Napoleonic cavalry to modern equestrian sports. Later in the day, Neigh’s fracture caused her moan in pain and the doctor, with his never fading smile, gave her some potion to ease the pain.

 

Nathan and Neigh became great friends over the next few days. One morning when Neigh asked him what he had been doing before he came to stay with the doctor, Nathan revealed a secret that changed Neigh’s life forever.

Nathan had been a lazy, sleepy, peasant who was once down with an unknown fever that lasted for months. He visited Dr. Jolly for treatment and learnt of the latter’s magical skills. Since he wanted to stay lazy, sleep as he pleases even while standing and do nothing for the rest of his life, Dr. Jolly turned him into a horse.

Neigh was gobsmacked. She went to the Dr. Jolly and asked him for a favour. She explained to him how she had always wanted to be a unicorn and not just any plain horse with a shabby face who was treated badly. “A unicorn will be treated like a princess.”, Neigh dreamily spoke to Dr. Jolly.

Dr. Jolly being the nice bloke he is, promptly turned her into a plush unicorn, wrapped her as a gift and placed her on a two year old’s birthday table.

Let us call the birthday girl Meow. Unfortunately for Neigh, Meow was having a bad stint of constipation and was moody on her birthday. As much as she would have loved to build a castle for Neigh, her neurons went astray due to the constipation and the very first thing she did with neigh was to pull apart that adorable horn from her face.

After two days, Meow’s constipation was gone and she did build a castle for the horn less, patch faced Neigh. They are bosom buddies now.