Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It is a firefly...

It is a flashing speck of dirt!


Am up and awake to check out the eclipse. It looks awesome cool :-D! If you are in the americas/australia/eastern asia, go poke your head out of the window right now (exact details here).

Yeah, am sleepy now. Tata folks... zzzzzzzzzz!

p.s. Did you say my camera sucks at astronomy pictures? Yeah, I already know :-)!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I wonder

...how I can pick enough hair strands off the carpet of my apartment every week to comfortably cover two adult-sized heads and still not go bald. Either my hair is regrowing at an astonishing rate while I sleep or there are a lot of spare hairs on my head I am not aware of (am not complaining either way).

...why Shah Rukh Khan can't abandon acting in the K3Gs and KANKs of the world and instead act in more movies like Chak De India. Chak de... is a wonderful movie!

...why flight fares have the annoying habit of going up by at least $30 within the span of the 12 or so hours you need for further planning before you can actually buy them after first checking them out.

...how I persuaded myself to voluntarily re-watch I (heart) Huckabees, once in my list of the most terrible English movies I have ever seen. Now it is merely on the list of the weirdest movies I have ever seen. This poem from the movie has in fact made it to my list of favorite quotes:

Nobody sits like this rock sits.
You rock, rock.
The rock just sits and is.
You show us how to just sit here and that's what we need.


...why some desis have this habit of wearing dressy Indian clothes when going to watch an Indian movie. I agree there are not too many occasions out here to flaunt the lovely clothes from India. But wearing a flashy ghagra with matching accessories especially to "celebrate" the occasion of watching Chak de India seems just a little bit weird.

...why the Greatest College Hits (from the 80s) cassette in my car has caught my fancy so much. It has been going on in a continuous loop in my car for more than two weeks now. I especially like listening to this song:

and this song:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

If at first you don't succeed, try try try again

This noon, at long last, I decided to give my car tires some TLC. I took my car to Sears for a long-overdue tire rotation and other what not. Only after I got there and stood in the line did I realize that I was not exactly sure what the other "what not" were called. Was it called balancing or alignment or some other term I had forgotten? And how foolish would I look if I accidentally used terms which are in no way connected to car tires?

A SOS call to a friend for help regarding terms resulted in failure - no one answered. Before I could think of other options, I was called to a counter. With as much confidence as I could muster, I said "I would like to rotate and balance the tires." The customer service rep (CSR) asked me if I had noticed any vibrations in the car. I said "Er, no." The CSR filled out my work order sheet and noticed that my customer info on the computer did not have the car VIN number in it.

As we walked to my car to get the VIN number, I hesitantly asked, "What are the maintenance things you usually do to car tires?" The CSR gave me a strange look (to his credit, he did not laugh) and realized that he was dealing with a newbie. So I got some basic car tires maintenance advice.

With the VIN number in hand, we walked back to the counter. Now, whoever wrote the brilliant software program for validating the car VIN number had somehow decided that a Honda Civic 1.6L 4 Cylinder is not equivalent to a Honda Civic. Na-huh. And my car was already registered in the system as a Honda Civic 1.6L 4 Cylinder. The VIN validation thus failed and try as the CSR might, he could not update the VIN details. He tried the same sequence of steps about a half-dozen times and each time did not meet success (obviously) before giving up and asking me to return in 2 hours to get my car back.

After more than an hour of browsing through the mall stores (did you know winter clothes are already on display?) , I got a call that my car was ready for pick up. By a stroke of chance, I got served by the same CSR again. The CSR brightly said, "I need to update VIN info for your car before ringing you up." I thought that some software update had been made in the interim one hour because of which the computer program no longer thought that a Honda Civic 1.6L 4 Cylinder and a Honda Civic are vastly different cars.

But no. The same screen popped up. And the same validation failure occured. At which point, the CSR hit the cancel button again and started all over again. And met the same error again. And he cancelled and started re-entering the info all over again. Only to be met with the same unsuccessful result. I watched in fascination. Did he really think that if he did the same sequence of steps again and again the program would somehow miraculously start working as expected?

After his 6th attempt, it took all I had to not burst into laughter. It was quite comical to see the hope writ large on his face at each "fresh" start and the subsequent disappointment at each failure. Finally, after attempt number 9 or so, the CSR finally came to terms with the fact that the program *might* not start working miraculously after all and told me "Something is wrong with the computer program. I don't think I will be able to update your customer info" and finally rang me up.

I walked out grinning. What the CSR had been doing was actually not very different from all the times I have, in desperation, repeatedly re-compiled and re-ran programs after ultra-minor changes in the fond hope that a bit of change in scene would somehow help it regain its senses :-). Only, my optimism has never lasted for more than a dozen times in a row!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Public service request

If anyone knows if Jyothika and Surya finally had their baby, please let me know. Quite a few people in the past two weeks seem to have landed on my blog hunting for "Jyothika+Surya+kid", "Did+Jyothika+have+baby" etc. etc. And they all landed on this post which obviously was of no help.

Seeing the amount of interest in a topic which ideally should be concerning Jyothika and Surya the most made me make up mind to have a more "informative" blog. Please help! Thank you.

p.s. I suppose I could google myself. But when there is an even easier way, why not use it :-P?

Update: Kuttichuvaru has added the important info in the comments section! Thank you, KC :-)!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

San Diego - 2007 edition

Revisited. Two weeks ago.

The yumm moment
Cafe 222 is alive and well. I re-realized all over again why I love that place so much. The coffee was very nice. The 30 minute wait did not seem unreasonable at all. The pecan waffle was wow. As were the eggs benedict and the french toast (yes, two of us ordered three main dishes. The waiter automatically closed his note-pad after writing down the first two orders. It was rather embarrassing to tell him we were not done ordering yet). BTW, Cafe 222's french toasts taste good as a cold leftover too :-)!

The patriotic moment
Balboa park has a bunch of international "houses" - each representing a country from the Pacific Relations alliance. Try as we might, we could not locate the "House of India". However, C spotted her country's house and had a patel picture taken there. As a consolation, I got a picture taken in front of a rose-bush with huge roses instead. Don't ask me how roses are related to India - when it comes to posing for pictures, something is better than nothing, no :-D?

The ah-ha moment
Happened when I walked into the sea at Mission Beach. When the first wave lapped at my feet, I felt like I had attained nirvana. I could feel myself grinning from ear to ear, euphoric and ready to burst with joy. Five minutes later, I still couldn't stop grinning.

In my head, I was jumping around like these kids:

In reality though, I managed to maintain a more dignified stance. But for the broad smile which remained etched on my face :-)!

The nostalgic moment
La Jolla - Same place, same beauty, same take-my-breath-away vistas.

This time around, the weather was awesome - quite unlike the clouds and rains of last year. Still, as I stood on the jetty, I terribly missed both S and A - my companions of last year's San Diego travel edition. We three make an unbeatable traveling trio. Their presence would have made San Diego even more awesome.

The self-appreciation moment
By the time we left San Diego, I had a pretty decent idea about where each place we went to was located w.r.t. the hotel/airport and the general direction to take to get there. I read maps with the confidence of a pro and I re-routed with the expertise of a Magellan. Go explorer :-D!

The funny moment
"The red bus goes to the various terminals". C and me read that sign and stood at the bus shelter in the San Diego airport, waiting for the arrival of the red bus. A red and blue colored bus appeared. But it was not going to the terminals. Ours was supposed to be a red bus. Then a completely white-colored bus appeared. "White? Naaah - our bus is supposed to be red in color". We both were about to turn away when we noticed the bold lettering on top of the bus: "RED BUS". We both collapsed into laughter as we boarded the bus. The next time my favorite white top is in the wash, I am going to wear another top and put a post-it note on it stating "Favorite white top." You reckon it would work :-P?

Yes folks, San Diego continues to rock. As always :-).

Happy 60th Independence Day :-)))!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


For quite a few months now, the building where my office is located has been undergoing a lot of renovation. First some overgrown trees were removed. Then the building got a fresh coat of paint. Followed by re-flooring, re-carpetting, re-ceiling and re-everything.

Finally, the finishing touches began. The landscape artists filled the mud patches outside with pretty shrubs. The cleaners washed the transparent-roof of the walkway to the entrance to a shiny sparkle Then, one fine day, paintings, sculptures and other arty stuff started appearing in the building lobby. It was pretty interesting to see the various items on display and the way they were being arranged and re-arranged till they (whoever the 'they' was) arrived at a configuration they were satisfied with.

Shortly after all these changes were completed, one noon, my colleague V and I were waiting in the reception area for some more colleagues to join us to go for lunch. I started telling V that I was surprised that so much money was being spent on the interior decoration of sculptures, paintings and stuff. To which V replied, "Oh, I asked those decorators the other day. They have not bought all that stuff. It is supposed to be an art exhibition. The items are for sale."

When I heard this piece of information, for a moment my jaw dropped. Then I burst out laughing, "Hahahahahahha! They have an art exhibition in a building full of engineers. They really think some engineer is going to appreciate it and buy them. Hahahahaha! Talk about optimism! "

Both V and me laughed some more and then started speculating about the terms under which the artists would have agreed to the exhibition. Soon, our colleagues L, D and M arrived too and we included them in the discussion as we all started walking out of the building.

Near the entrance, there was a basket like thing which had been lying on the floor for quite a few days. V looked at it and said, "Actually, I like this display." Suddenly L and me had a burst of enlightenment and we both simultaneously exclaimed:

Me: Oooh it is an exhibit! That explains it. I was wondering what that basket was doing on the floor.
L: Oh, I had been wondering why they had not thrown away one of the baskets they had brought the bamboo plants in.

On the way back from lunch, we decided to take a break and have a more careful look at all the exhibits. M stared intently at two paintings hung on the wall and then turned to L.

M: L, may I please ask you a question (M, being a non-native English speaker, is always super polite)
L: Sure!
M: Is this painting finished? When will they complete it?

(to be fair to M, the paintings did look like black blotches of paint with white scrawls over them.)

Then we all stood in front of a sculpture made entirely of Thermocol. It was rather cool looking and we all were examining it from all angles. At this point, D got a sudden gleam in his eye and said, "Do you think it will topple over?" And, in front of our horrified eyes started to happily rock the structure. The rest of us immediately backed away and pretended to not know him. D then stopped and said in a disappointed voice, "Oh, they have used wires to secure it. I was wondering how much force I would need to topple it."

Yeah, we engineers are big-time art connoisseurs, alright :-P!

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Time and again, I have heard quite a few people complain about their (former and current) room-mates. I am usually a passive listener in all such conversations. When someone asks me for my input, I answer truthfully, "Oh, I have gotten along fabulously with all my room-mates right since my undergrad days in the hostel. In fact, I am in touch with most of them still and we are good friends." And people suspiciously ask, "You did not have problems with even one room-mate of yours?" and I just shake my head, "No."

At this point, there are gasps of disbelief. Some people then say, "Wow!" while the more charitable ones say, "Oh, you must have a very nice and adjusting personality then." To the latter I always react with, "No - I was just lucky I guess." To which people inevitably reply, "Don't be modest!"

Well, recently I was proved right - O boy, o boy, don't I love it when I am right :-D. I do have buttons which when pushed (even by people I usually get along well with) can annoy the heck out of me. Keep pushing them and there is your murderess in the making! So I was right all along - I have been extremely lucky in getting great room-mates (in most cases, pre-chosen) and great friends who hardly ever push(ed) those buttons. And the entire credit goes to them.

Thank God for friends. In particular, thank God for giving me great friends. Each of you is so important to me in so many ways and you make my life even more wonderful :-D!

Happy friendship day folks :-D!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The problem with learning a new technology

When something does not work, you do not have a predefined set of "these things I did are 100% right I am sure". Thus you can spend ages poring over your code closely wondering why the data is being repeated in your table. And spend time nodding in empathy (without getting a solution though) when you find other users complaining about the same problem in online user forums. Only to discover at the end of 2 hours that the reason why the data was repeating was not because you did the new technology wrong - you were 100% right there. However you had accidentally added the same data twice to the display list in the first place. Ugh :-(!

But the brighter side - the stuff I am working on is still on the (b)leading edge of technology. So when I get some customized thing to work, I can take full credit for coming up with the solution. Thus, in between all the hair-pulling, these days, my work day is also littered with "ah-ha" moments. Kinda makes up for all the times I feel like kicking the computer I guess.