Friday, February 22, 2008

Should I be blogging?

Just dug out this poem I came across a while ago. Made me think again as to what exactly drives me to blog... Enjoy :-)!

The Misanthrope
(Oronte and Alceste are friends who are in love with the same girl - which perhaps explains Alceste's rather cruel review)

In short, I am your servant. And now, dear friend,
Since you have such fine judgement, I intend
To please you, if I can, with a small sonnet
I wrote not long ago. Please comment on it,
And tell me whether I ought to publish it.

Sir, these are delicate matters; we all desire
To be told that we've the true poetic fire.
But once, to one whose name I shall not mention,
I said, regarding some verse of his invention,
That gentlemen should rigorously control
That itch to write which often afflicts the soul;
That one should curb the heady inclination
To publicize one's little avocation;
And that in showing off one's works of art
One often plays a very clownish part.
You're under no necessity to compose;
Why you should wish to publish, heaven knows.
There's no excuse for printing tedious rot
Unless one writes for bread, as you do not.
Resist temptation, then, I beg of you;
Conceal your pastimes from the public view.

-- Moliere

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Let it snow

I had major doubts about my choice of vacation destination when I noticed that the first reaction people gave whenever I said "I am going to visit Wisconsin in Feb" was a look of incredulity followed by laughter and concluded with an unsaid "You are sooooo crazy".

Not surprising since the Mid-west is one of the chilliest places to be around in winter. One of the Wisconsin friends I was visiting said the temperature, with wind-chill factored in, was at -35°F the day I booked my tickets.

I am the kind of person who pulls on her warm winter woollies and finds a comfortable spot near the heater when the temperature goes anywhere below +50°F. Still, one ought to experience different experiences, no?

Yesterday, I got back safe and sound from Wisconsin. How was the trip you ask? I have simply fallen in love with snow :-). Believe it or not, I actually had a slight twinge of sadness when I landed in San Jose last night and confirmed that my fantastic wish of seeing snow-covered grounds in San Jose was not going to happen.

My Wisc friends tell me that the joys of snow pale pretty fast after a winter of living in it. But as of now, my head is still filled with thoughts of wintry white fairylands. A fairyland where I walked on a frozen lake, threw mounds of powdery soft snow, built a snow-girl, stretched my arms out blissfully as I stood under falling snow-flakes, stepped off the sidewalks to see how deep my feet would sink into the white mass on the ground, sat by the big window of heated house watching the world turn white ...

Instead of justifiably whacking my besotted head, my friends totally humored me (I have said they rock, right) even when I admitted that I was cold and numb but was having too good a time in the snow to get away to a warmer spot :-) and when I insisted on treading on the icy sidewalks "just to see how slippery it is".

Ah, snow!
The first snow-girl I have ever made. Note the "ribbon".

Stark trees beside Lake Michigan

Watching falling snow from the cozy confines of a fifth floor apartment

The ivy covered walls looked ethereal

Sleet covered roads

I thought the white cap gave every house a fairytale look!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Compliment(!?!) of the day

Female Colleague (FC): Hey, you have been losing a lot of weight of late!

Me (looking up from computer): Mmmh? Really?

FC: You are looking very thin.

Me: Really? I don't think so. I don't think I lost...

FC (interrupting fiercely): Don't lie to me! You HAVE lost weight. (stalking off crossly)

Me (huh, what just happened?): ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Placebo effect

This morning, I was reading a post revolving around the Placebo Effect on Seth Godin's blog. In simplest terms, placebo effect is something which happens purely on the power of suggestion (thanks Wiki). Though the post I read did not really dwell on the Placebo effect as such, it set me thinking. I have had my share of experiences when I totally believed something which was not true just because my brain insisted it was true.

Experience #1
A couple of weeks ago I had a horrifying dream where I was being chased by a big dog. In my dream I was doing a sprint of Olympic standards. But the dog was doing even better and was fast gaining on me. Finally, with a huge pounce it jumped on me.

At that exact moment, I woke up, found myself pinned to the bed and I simply couldn't move. My eyes were still closed and I totally believed there was a huge dog sitting on my chest, not allowing any movement.

Then it struck me, wait a minute - I had been running away from the dog. So I should be lying down on my stomach now with the dog on my back. But I was actually lying down on my back. So maybe this wasn't true...

Cautiously I opened my eyes and peeped at the world. All I could see were the flourescent stars on my bedroom ceiling - phew! My brain had done a good job at convincing me even if it was only for a short bit.

Experience #2
This other incident took place years and years ago when I was in the fourth grade. My family had just figured out that I needed to wear spectacles for myopia (ya, it was established quite early in life that I was destined to be one of those wise bespectacled people). My parents took me to the spectacles store to try on various frames. After a lot of tries, I finally decided on a pair I liked. My parents asked the proprietor to get us a non-display version of the same frame. The proprietor brought out the new frame, complete with lenses and all.

I was super thrilled. I wore them and grinned at my mom - "I can see so well now". And I could actually read some stuff on the far wall. My mom looked at me surprised and said, "Well, you do know that these lenses are just normal glass. Your prescribed lenses will take some time to arrive". I had been able to see well with ordinary glass for a brief bit because I had thought the glass was designed to help me see better...
I do believe the mind-body connection concept has something going for it. Which is why it is all the more important to try really hard at maintaining positive thoughts I guess!

Do you have times when your brain has convinced you of some impossible thing?

Friday, February 08, 2008

A free tip

Never check in a huge bulk of code on a Friday evening 30 minutes before you want to head home.

You could spend the rest of your Friday evening fixing broken tests.

I should know.

Darn it - grrr!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Déjà vu

Oh my God! I am sure PhD comics spied on me in grad school!

Long, long ago, I was a Teaching Assistant (TA) in grad school. One awful quarter, our department secretary decided (what did I ever do to her) that I should be the TA for two graduate courses that quarter. Those were two huge classes and there was no reader. Which meant yours truly had to do the grading too besides holding office hours and stuff.

Coming to the PhD comics spying on me part. Many of my weekends that quarter went precisely like this:

If the scenario is popular enough to appear on PhD comics, then I guess this pain has been felt by TAs across the academic world. Misery loves company. And so, yaaay!

p.s. I still believe though, that quarter was God's way of showing me just how wrong I had been during all my years in primary school when my life's only fervent ambition was to become a teacher when I grew up - just so I could write big check and cross marks on notebooks with a red pen and then sign on them with flourish.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Conversations with friends

Conversation #1

So, what do I get if I do you this favor?

Friend-1: A prize.

Me: Ooooh, really? What is it? What is it?

Friend-1: Oh, I can't tell you now! The prize is a secret!

(Time lapse.)

Me: Okay, I am done! Where is my secret prize?

Friend-1 (in a sad voice): I can't give it to you! Otherwise it will no longer be a secret.

Me: Grrr!

Conversation #2

Me: You so don't look like Keanu Reeves.

Friend-2: Of course I do! I know I look like Keanu Reeves.

Me: Yeah right! Other people are supposed to tell you that!

Friend-2: No way! I am the only person who has looked at my face every single day of my life. I should know better than anyone else whether I look like Keanu Reeves!

Me: ....

Conversation #3

(While listening to this song from the Tamil movie Bheema)

Man, this song sounds very familiar.

Friend-3: Obviously it does! After all it is composed by Harris Jeyaraj. Didn't you know Harris Jeyaraj is very popular among all OOPS managers?

Me: Huh!?! No. Why?

Friend-3: No one else has mastered the concepts of reusability, inheritance and polymorphism quite as much as he has!

Me: Hahahahahah!

p.s. In case you are wondering, nopes - did not make any of this up!

Monday, February 04, 2008


What's up with the Bay Area weather these days? It is so cold all the time. Which is kinda okay, since I always have the choice of staying put in my apartment, turning on my heater, curling up beside it and never going out. However, in order to be able to afford the above said heater and apartment, I need to work. Which brings me to my actual grouse.

Whichever sadist designed my workplace decided that the air conditioning in here has to be directly proportional (and if possible, be lower) to the coldness of the weather outside. The cubicles are chilly enough. But the conference rooms are even worse. Stepping into one of them is like getting into the freezer compartment of a refrigerator.

Today we had a day long meeting and I sat in the conference-room like a salted snail, shriveled into a ball with the least possible surface area. A colleague looked at me concerned and asked if I was really that cold. Another sympathetically observed that it does get colder inside the office as it gets colder outside.

I have been wearing more and more layers of clothing to work everyday. Other than making me look more and more like Tuntun, this has not made me feel any warmer. It is just a matter of time before I go all out and wear my woolen cap, gloves, muffler, thermals and winter-outerwear inside the office.

The cap should help muffle the sounds of pointing and laughing I guess.