Friday, December 22, 2006

Petty things

Babum (and Jrs),
Bubbly, Caesar, & Bruno,

and now...


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Friday, December 08, 2006

Everyone says...

And I agree. NY is simply amazing. Was there last weekend and had a real good time.

I also happened to catch Dhoom2 when I was in NY. Its true: D(H)OOM without (H)rithik is DOOM !!!
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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wish fulfilled

Hurray!!! It finally happened. And I am thrilled.

I pulled the fire alarm.

I was on the phone talking about Windows Power Shell with a friend. It was about 4PM and my roommates were away. Omkara, Guru and Woh Lamhe songs were playing in background when I smelled something burning. My immediate reaction was "Now, what did I leave in the stove?" When I realized that it wasn't coming from my house, I stopped winamp and could hear a fire alarm from a neighbor's house. After waiting 2-3 minutes, I noticed that the entire corridor was getting foggy. That was when I decided to pull the alarm.

Here, the main alarms (for the entire building) have a plastic safety cover. I just opened the cover to pull the fire alarm, and it immediately went off. I was initially confused that the alarm went off by just opening the safety cover. Then I realized that it was just an indicator for an open safety cover. Finally, I pulled the alarm inside and then, just like that, the alarms all over the building went off.

I nervously exited the building, hoping I had done the correct thing. Slowly, one by one, people started coming out and many themselves were mentioning the smell from the 2nd floor. I relaxed, called up few people to brag about my achievement while fire-fighters (Ladder 19) came and did their job. It was hardly 15 minutes before everything was over and we could get back inside.

I went to the second floor and a police officer was waiting there. I told him I pulled the alarm and he said I did the right thing by doing so. Someone from my adjacent apartment had left something on the stove.

I had been waiting to do something like this for about 2.5 years. I am very happy that I finally got to do it.
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Monday, November 27, 2006

The Cook Islands

As I had wanted to, this season, I cut down on the repeats of FRIENDS, Raymond and Seinfeld. Only few of the shows I had wanted to watch were good (LOST was the biggest disappointment though with just 5-6 episodes which weren't that good anyways). My initial and the only favorite had been Studio 60.

Thanks to ABC, most free-to-air channels (read: NBC and CBS) decided to go online with the latest episodes of their popular shows. I should say that among them, CBS' "inner tube" is simply the best. Because a) all the episodes of the shows are available, and b) you can even skip the ads if you are clever enough. Anyways, the whole point is that I happened to catch the latest Survivor from CBS and it just blew me away.

I had seen the show before, when the now-in-jail "Rich" manipulated his way to become the first Survivor. Not that I understood much then, but I liked the show. Since then, I hadn't quite been able to catch the show until now. I would say that it has been worth the wait.

I cannot say much about this season without giving away some spoilers, but trust me, if you even remotely like any reality game shows, you MUST watch Survivor this season. The twists in the game and some of the characters this time are simply too good to miss. After all, if you are free enough to read through something like this, then you surely are free enough to watch the initial episodes at least. And why not when
you can catch all the episodes online that too without any ads.

Why am I recommending it so much? Because, unfortunately, I don't have anyone else to do some "Survivor Talk". So, in case you do end up liking the show, do let me know.

PS: To skip ads in CBS inner tube, first use real player codec and once the video starts in the inner tube, transfer it to play in your computer's real player. Then you can skip the ads.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mera Name Is Bakwaas

Now, why can't people come up with good names for movies? In case you haven't noticed, the names of most of the recent Hindi and Tamil movies are as uninspiring and meaningless as it can be.

At least most Tamil films now have Tamil titles. (Doesn't help much though, with names like Achcho, E and KD). The situation is worse in Bollywood with even the B-C-grade films opting for an English title. What do you feel about "Mr.100% - The Real Player"? (With the current sequel syndrome in Bollywood, its sequel will probably be called "Miss.100% - Windows Media Player". I know it wasn't funny - wasn't supposed to be coz remember, the names are uninspiring and meaningless.)

Also, I hate the "tags" for the movie name. If you do not know what the "tags" are, they are an alternative longer name for the movie or in many cases, the meaning of the movie name. However, since the movie names are by themselves terrible, the tags end up highlighting how bad the movie name actually is. Consider the previous example "Mr.100% - The Real Player". Which do you think is worse here - the name or the tag?

I know all you Bollywood lovers are now ready to attack me with how I have just picked one C-grade movie to generalize a false allegation. Before you do so, which of the following do you seriously think can pass as names for Hindi films:

1. Lady Chatterjee
2. Kya Love Story Hai
Jaadu Sa Chal Gaya
4. Chalta Hai Yaar
Aisa Kyon Hota Hai
6. Mr. Khujli
Good Boy Bad Boy
8. Mobile Phone
9. Fashion
10. Hot Money

Unfortunately, all these are really names for upcoming Hindi movies. Most of them are in fact A-Grade multi-starrers !! I wonder how the actors agreed to the movie names.
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How much gore can u take?

Generally the movies I recommend to my friends get "two thumbs way down".

(In case you didn't know, "two thumbs way up" is the most over-used catchphrase by reviewers of bad English flicks. "Among the top 10 movies of this or any year" and "A definite must-see" are the other favorites.)

This time, I thought I was in safe territory with "SAW". I had already seen it a long time back and I had loved movie then. The reason I wanted to see it the second time was mainly because the recently released "SAW3" supposedly fills in the gaps in the original.

After seeing the movie again (it was quite enjoyable the second time too although I noticed more plot holes this time around), I was expecting my friends to be as impressed by the movie as I was after my first viewing.

Unfortunately, the unanimous reaction from my friends was on the lines of why I subjected them to a big gore fest!! While I was going "wHaT??", they were happily confirming that "I-have-a-weird-taste-for-movies" / "I-have-a-taste-for-weird-movies" / "I-have-a-weird-taste-for-weird-movies".

In my defense, these guys have dismissed "Fight Club" (annoying), "Pulp Fiction" (gibberish) and "Adaptation" (boring). And yes, they are THE target audience for unadulterated trash such as "Accepted".

However, the point here is that the reason they didn't like "SAW" was because it was gory. If the movie is really so, I must be a sadist psycho for I didn't even have to close my eyes throughout (I did flinch few times though). In order to convince myself that I am not a psycho, I started thinking of movies that I thought were gory.

The goriest movie I have ever seen is certainly "The Devil's Rejects". Hollywood must have ran into acute fake blood shortage after this movie was made. I can count with a single hand, the scenes I didn't have to close my eyes during this movie.

"Hills have eyes" would be a distant second followed by "Dawn of the dead" and "Resident Evil". I enjoyed "Dawn of the dead" while "Resident Evil" wasn't too bad. "SAW2" was a bit gory but it would be way down in the list. I like watching slasher flicks. Although they tend to have several over-the-top blood spurting scenes, I don't think they can be classified gory.

I haven't seen "Hostel" yet. I doubt if that or its upcoming sequel will beat "Devil's..." Either way I am not interested. My next gory choice would definitely be "SAW 3".
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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sanskrit and NLP

Although I wasn't intending to, one of my friend's friend claimed that Sanskrit was object oriented while I said that its regular grammar is what makes it more interesting for computer scientists. I ended up digging out quite some information on the topic.

It turns out, the whole interest in Sanskrit first started when a NASA researcher, Rick Briggs, published a paper "Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence" in the AI Magazine in 1985. The paper proposes that natural languages could also be used for knowledge representation. It details how Sanskrit is ideally suited for the job due to its regular, unambiguous grammar. You can read the entire contents of the paper here:

The part about Sanskrit being OO is also probably true. Prof M A Lakshmi Thathachar (then Director of Academy of Sanskrit Research) says so in a '03 article in the GoodNewsIndia magazine. He says that:
"Words in Sanskrit are instances of pre-defined classes, a concept that drives object oriented programming [OOP] today. For example, in English 'cow' is a just a sound assigned to mean a particular animal. But if you drill down the word 'gau' --Sanskrit for 'cow'-- you will arrive at a broad class 'gam' which means 'to move. From these derive 'gamanam', 'gatih' etc which are variations of 'movement'. All words have this OOP approach, except that defined classes in Sanskrit are so exhaustive that they cover the material and abstract --indeed cosmic-- experiences known to man. So in Sanskrit the connection is more than etymological."
Although not entirely convincing, it is quite interesting. The complete article can be read here:

Another interesting aspect about Sanskrit seems to be that Panini formalized the entire Sanskrit's grammar in his own BNF-like form using meta-rules, transformations, and recursion with just 4000 sutras (rules). All this was way back in 400 - 200 B.C. while the well-known BNF was developed sometime in 1958-60. Details here:

Looks like Sanskrit has the ideal grammar structures suited for machine representation of knowledge. However, it hasn't been shown yet that Sanskrit is object oriented.

Whatever be the case, I am just happy and proud that I got to learn not only Sanskrit (in my school days) but also about BNF and Machine Learning so that I can appreciate it all !!
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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Know your Rights: (RTI time)

This post has been due for quite some time. AID Cincinnati had organized a talk about 2 weeks back on RTI by the Magsaysay Award winner Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. I myself didn't know much about RTI till then, but, I must say that the talk was quite enlightening.

Even though I was skeptical when Mr. Kejriwal painted RTI as the simple solution for corruption, I was certainly impressed and taken by RTI and its success stories. Later, I tried to explain the same concept to some other friends, but somehow I couldn't convey the essence of RTI and ended up confusing them. The least I can do for RTI now is to spread the word, so, this post is going to tell you most of what I know about RTI. I have tried to keep it short by answering 5 simple questions about RTI.

I am just going to paraphrase the talk (from what I remember) in many places in order to keep it least confusing.

1. What is RTI?

Simply put, it is your fundamental right. The Supreme Court of India declared the Right to Information as one of our fundamental rights way back in 1972(?) because without information, we cannot use our Right to speech and expression. However, until the RTI bill was passed in late 2005, there was no way to enforce our fundamental right to information. In essence, RTI is not something new; it is just a means for us to enforce one of our fundamental rights.

2. Okay, so what is RTI?

RTI gives us the right to ask the govt for its accounts. To understand what that means, our's is a democracy meaning we are the masters and the govt is our servant. It is the duty of the servant to show the accounts to the master whenever asked for. Even a beggar on the street pays taxes to the govt when he buys anything from a shop. It is our right to know how our tax money is being spent by the govt.

RTI now allows us to ask any govt dept (in any state or territory) for any information. You can ask whatever info you need (from the dept) in an RTI appln (which costs Rs.10+ depending on the state) and submit the appln to the officer-in-charge in that dept. Within 30 days, you will get a response to all your questions. If you do not get any response in the given 30 days, for every day it is delayed, the officer-in-charge will lose Rs.250 from his salary. Now, this places the burden of answering your questions on that officer-in-charge.

3. So, how is this helpful?

Let me take the real example of Nandu, a person below the poverty line, who applied for a ration card (to get rice, flour and sugar at subsidized rates every month). Even though it should technically take only 10 days for him to get a new ration card, he didn't get it for 3 months. With the help of a NGO, he submitted a RTI application asking for 3 simple questions:
a) Give me the day by day progress on my ration card application
b) Who are the officers-in-charge of processing my ration card
c) When am I likely to get my ration card

Now since there had been no real progress on his ration card application, answering these questions would be admission of guilt on paper which the govt officers can not do. However, they had to answer Nandu within 30 days or else start losing Rs.250 a day. Finally what happened was that the head officer in the dept went to Nandu's home, gave him his new ration card and pleaded with him to take back his RTI application.

4. Is that it?

It's not just questions. You can ask for copies of any govt. records that you might want. Also, what is unique to the RTI act of India (RTI is already in place in 40+ countries) is that you can go to a construction place (such as roads), tell the supervisor and perform an inspection and can take certified samples of any material that is being used. How is that?

Nandu's case was just a simple example. RTI has been used successfully in bigger scales. For example, ration distributors generally deny ration to the ration card holders and sell the stock to the black market all the while falsifying records that they gave ration to the card holders. Using RTI, NGOs in Delhi asked for the monthly records from many ration distributors and comparing the distributors' records with the people's ration cards, found out that about 90% of the stock was being transferred to the black market. There have been many bigger success stories.

5. What can you do?

The least you can do is know about RTI. In order to keep it short, I have tried to highlight the key aspects of RTI; is a good place to start learning more about RTI. Remember, RTI is not a bed of roses. But it certainly is a step towards having transparency in the workings of the govt.

And yeah, spread the word.
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Friday, October 27, 2006

Somewhere out there

Ever wondered who checked out a book before you did or who might do so next?

I get a lot of books from libraries. When I finished reading 'The Concrete Blonde' (which was about 2 months back) I realized that in all probability, anyone who has / will read the book might love murder mysteries just like me.

But, its not just that. I believe there is this invisible connection between all the people who read the same book. When I say the same book, I mean the same copy of it. Forget the books that you borrow from your friends (what's the thrill in knowing that you and your friend have a connection). The book that you have just returned to the library might actually be read by someone else who may end up being the next big thing (I am not implying that you couldn't be the next big thing; you could be one too). Are you not interested in knowing that random person who might have liked the book just as much as you? What makes it more interesting is that since you may have all kinds of people within any locality, even though the book itself may be geographically bound, the people who read it may be very different.

All this is probably a side effect of my interest in the 6 degrees of separation. But, when you have theories such as the butterfly effect, don't you think it's magical that a book might play a role in many people's lives without anyone realizing it? And, it's not just a book. It could be anything. It could be that random movie dvd that you check out and finally end up loving or that pen you use to fill out your forms at the DMV office.

Wouldn't this make all these inanimate things have a life of their own? What if they play a good or bad role in your life depending on how well you treat them? May be the reason the movie dvd gets stuck in the middle of an exciting scene is because it hates you and doesn't want you to enjoy the movie. How about that?

Btw, somewhere out there is my old Motorola v557 instrument that I exchanged for another. So, in case you got a v557 with emi 358253000563695 (check by doing *#06#) then we share some connection.
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Thursday, October 05, 2006

I hate my classmates

Top 5 types of students I wish weren't in my class:

5. Miss.KnowItAlls:
How to identify one? She is probably the first to enter the class, never even blinks till the end of the class (lest she might miss something important) and constantly takes notes (although already knows it all). She ll never miss a chance to show off she is a KnowItAll and obviously is among the teachers' pets.
PS: It could have been a "He" too. But generally, Mr.KnowItAlls do not show off as much and hence are a lot more tolerable.

4. Everyone look here, I lack manners:
Members of this club include (but are not limited to) those who come in late but insist on sitting in the front row, those who bang the door while walking out in the middle of the class (to answer their phone calls), those who attend their phone calls inside the class (yeah, that happens too), those who cannot stop shaking their legs (along with the desks and chairs), who stretch as if in an aerobic class and those who pick their noses because they are bored. The only reason they are this low in my list is coz I somehow manage not to get distracted during a good class. If it is a bad class, then who cares !!

3. Mr. and Ms. Doubts-Fire:
The ones that stick out their hands in a boring class as soon as the prof says "Questions?". I am not against those who ask questions in class. But these are the ones that ask questions simply because they think it makes them look smart. They are not dumb but the questions they ask are either way off the topic or dead simple. And they do it all the time. Grrrrrrrrr.

2. The hypocrite parasites:
You just have to be careful with this lot because you generally have outside-the-class interactions with them. They copy your work and shamelessly claim to have worked it all out by themselves - even in front of you. Oh, and they hate helping others. They never share their copied HW with anyone else because its bad !! They might know very little but love to act like KnowItAlls. My advice: Never trust them.

1. The bootlickers:
If the class is very boring (which is like every 2.735 out of 4 times), then you are in for some big trouble with this lot. You wouldn't believe what all they do to "butter" the prof. They go "Yes Sir, Yesss Sirrr." to every word uttered by the prof, they laugh-out-LOUD to all those not-at-all funny attempts made by the prof. (and make sure the prof sees them do so), are generally a variant of Mr./Miss. Doubt-Fires (they only ask questions for which they are sure that the prof. will know the answer!!), they never ask the prof for delaying the assignment due date or for reducing the exam syllabus (although thats what they complain about to the rest of us), meet the prof before & after the class and also during his office hours to ask doubts (!!), and wish that there was something beyond excellent in the course evaluation sheets (while the rest of us are coming up with "awful", "horrible", "terrible", "dreadful", etc.)

If you ask me to name my favorite classmate whom I love to hate, its MM. I can not be anymore specific (as it won't be fair to that person) but (s)hes THE perfect bootlicker I have ever seen.

What about you??
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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Chandler Bing 's back... with a Bang

This season, after a lot of thought (since I wanted to cut down on my tv watching time), I decided to stick to only 5 shows on TV. Four I chose were from abc, including the 3 biggies - Lost, Grey's Anatomy and Desp. Housewives. Among the several new shows from abc, Six Degrees seemed more interesting to me (than Men in Trees, 9, Help Me Help You and Ugly Betty) although its premiere episode wasn't too flattering. However, it is the new show from NBC - Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - which has been the best of the lot till now (of course, Lost is yet to begin).

If the first two episodes of Studio 60 are any indicator, I am sure this show is only going to boost nbc's comeback. Till now, everything about the show has been great. The first two episodes were very racy, the cast has been amazing and the cold open at the end of the second episode was hilarious. Even the background score was very cool (slightly familiar though). But what I liked best about the show is that everything is so real-like. We have a SNL-ish "show-within-the-show" (Studio 60 inside the Studio 60) on the fictional tv channel NBS (!!), which is trying to get back on top. Its all so "Adaptation." over and over again.

And some good news: you can watch the episodes online @ Shows from abc are also available @ Do watch the episodes of Studio 60 and let me know if you enjoyed it as much.
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Thursday, September 21, 2006

How Opal Mehta lied, cheated and 'internalised' -- OR -- How I fell for hype, again.

Ever since the book "How Opal Mehta..." was under scrutiny for plagiarism, I wanted to find it out for myself. I couldn't get a copy of the book (which just shows how all people fall for hype) but I somehow managed to get the books that supposedly inspired Opal - "Sloppy Firsts" & "Second Helpings".

Before I read "Sloppy Firsts", I had zilch expectations. I reasoned that if it was good enough to have a sequel ("Second Helpings"), then it couldn't be too bad. And anyways, it was only some 300 odd pages. Surprise surprise, I really liked the book. I have seen quite few American teen movies and even those that are supposedly great (like Sixteen Candles) weren't really up to my taste. However, I found the book (which has the same plot as any of those movies) really witty and charming and in many places, laugh-out-loud funny (esp. sequences involving the clueless crew).

So much so that, I was looking forward to Jessica again in "Second Helpings". And that didn't disappoint either. It was equally charged as the first one and maintained the continuity for all the characters. When I found out that the 3rd book in the series ("Charmed Thirds") was out, I couldn't stop myself. Although, it wasn't as good as its predecessors, the 3rd book was still good. Jessica Darling and her journal had me entertained throughout. Opal Mehta was still in demand and I finished 3 other books ("Only", "The Concrete Blonde" (W-O-W) and "Starry Nights") before I could finally lay my hands on "How Opal...".

I finished it in about 4 hrs. And I can say without doubt that Kaavya has more than 'internalized' from the Jessica series. (Minor Spoilers Ahead) May be since Opal is also a high school senior, it is okay to be using the same slang in the book (I distinctly remember 'dregs', 'upper crust', 'Krispy Kreme' and esp 'puh-leez'). But lifting off the entire cast of characters, the situations and the narrative style cannot be justified. Just to list out some of the many: Opal Mehta is the desi version of Jessica Darling, the clueless crew have been changed to the HBz, Marcus becomes Sean, Opal's parents are a lot similar to Jessica's, Jeff is a straight version of Paul. And, this is supposed to be a totally different book. While reading, I constantly had a sense of deja vu. You will too, because there is a lot of paraphrasing going on (see here). And did I mention that both the stories are set in New Jersey?

I do agree that the plots are quite different. "How Opal..." has a funnier polt (which hasn't been well exploited) and even if nothing else, the acronyms - PISS, HOWGAL, HOWGIH and TIP are quite funny. But they are completely overshadowed by the 'internalized' happenings which occurs in just about every page of the book.

So, what did I find out? This Opal is fake. But, going by the hype was certainly worth it (how else would I have known about the Jessica Darling series?). Now, if you prefer watching 'Zeher' or 'Killer' to 'Out of Time' and 'Collateral', then, Opal Mehta is exclusively for you. Otherwise, go for the Jessica Darling series and have some clean harmless fun.
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Friday, September 01, 2006


Remember "Fanaa"? Yeah, the worst movie ever. Or so I thought until I was forced to sit through "Shikhar". It beats Fanaa big time in being the most illogical, horribly over-acted, plot-less movie I have ever seen. Hopefully, the worst I'll ever see. May be that's why I liked most of the movies I saw afterwards. Anyways, I thought these movies were good and worth recommending.

"Chocolat": A safe bet which was way more entertaining than I had expected. Johnny Depp doesn't have much of a role though.

"Millions": A very sweet movie that had me smiling and laughing throughout. I had trouble following the british accent but liked the movie very much.

"Adaptation.": The most intelligent and original movie I have seen in a long time. A certain must-see. (My tip: Watch the movie first and then if you feel lost, watch the trailer. Also, look at the credits.)

"Dirty Pretty Things": I saw it solely for Audrey Tautou ("Amelie", "He loves me... He loves me not" and "Happenstance" more than made up for the not so interesting "God is great, I'm not"). A real racy thriller which reminded me very much of "Gosford park" (you'll know why if you've seen both the movies).

"Little Women": A very entertaining movie, worth watching for the costumes, sets and the superb acting. You should like family dramas though.

"Gandhi": I thought it was good but not up to the hype (maybe because I have seen it many times in bits and pieces whenever it was telecast in DD). Worth watching simply because its Gandhi.

I am planning to stick with popular choices for the time being. Let's see.

PS: The post title doesn't mean much. You should be able to crack it easily.
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My little secret

Now that another batch of juniors and few of my friends have come to US, I was trying to recollect my initial days here. My biggest complaint used to be that everything here was the wrong way. It wasn't just the traffic on the roads. Too many things, including the flush in the toilet were on the wrong side and it was just too hard for me to get used to. However, that's not what I want to talk about now.

I was thinking of something stupid that I did after landing here; something that came to my mind yesterday and made me smile.

After landing here, I was just getting used to the new place and surroundings. Everything was new to me and I was curious to find out how each thing works. After playing with the stove and the TV remote for some time, I noticed the telephone. Immediately, I picked up the phone, dialed 161, hung up and waited for the phone to ring. Actually, 161 is a simple automated test call system in India and we used to play with it a lot. We used to make these 161 test calls, pretend as if someone had really called and then fool others by telling them that they had received a call. Obviously, it didn't work here although I did try some 4 - 5 times before accepting defeat.

Now that I think of it, I guess it was just me trying to find my home environment in a foreign place where everything was different. I was probably just trying to find things that hadn't changed. I am quite sure everyone else too would have tried the same or at least something similar. I wonder why we all hate change so much.

PS: I guess my post title made you read through this fully. I might employ this dirty trick again. Beware !!
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Friday, August 11, 2006


Ooh, I wanted to write this post a lot earlier. Anyways, now I am going to squeeze in few other recent happenings that wouldn't have made LTNS-2 but for the delay.

1. Bad Movies: Bad luck. Almost all the movies I recently saw (English/Foreign/Indian) were bad. Not bad, but BAD. The last good movie I recall is POTC2-DMC which doesn't seem as much funny now. The worst of the lot was certainly Fanaa. I knew it was bad, and watched it for the sake of my cousin. But didn't think it would be as bad as it turned out to be.

2. Moving out - Moving In: I shifted to a new apartment and had to go through the pain of cleaning, packing, cleaning, unpacking, cleaning and more cleaning. However, it wasn't too bad because of two reasons - One, I generally keep my place pretty neat ('how much neat is pretty neat?' is relative!!). And two, I left for Detroit the very next day after moving and my room mate did most of the cleaning. What was actually more painful than the actual shifting process was the change in address forms that I had to go and fill out in different places. (They should simplify this process - its too much work for students). Well, the new house is great and I am almost done with taking the wrong corridors and barging into wrong houses.

3. Traveling Michigan: I went to Detroit to my Aunt's place for a week. From there, we all (Uncle, Aunt, Cousin and myself) went on a road-trip to many places in Michigan - the Upper and the Lower Peninsula. The week long vacation was really great and the places we went to were awesome. You can have a look at the pictures in my photo album.

4. The God of Small Things: Without doubt among the best of books I have ever read. It was as if I was transported to Ayemenem and the entire drama was happening right in front of me. The narration moves back and forth and had me hooked throughout. The very first chapter gives away the (sad) ending and raises a lot of 'how's and 'why's. The rest of the book answers these questions little by little. With every new bit of information you are given, you get drawn more and more into the tragedy. The only little thing that didn't go well with me was the character of Baby Kochamma. She was a bit too dark and her lack of remorse even years later was a bit hard to take in. All in all, a must read for everyone.

5. Say Cheeese: I have uploaded new photo albums in my website. These include pictures from my Michigan trip, Sania Mirza match pictures (see my previous post) and few others. You can have a look a look at them here. Because of the low space in my website account, I have uploaded only few of the good pictures and the quality is not all that great. Let me know if you want to see them all in better quality.

I guess that sums up most of it. Other posts will hopefully follow soon.
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Sunday, July 30, 2006

LTNS - 1

Hmm, more than a month since my last post.

Not that I have been awfully busy or that I didn't have anything good enuf to say but mainly coz I have been lazy. I did intend to post on several topics that I thought would make for a good post. Let me now refresh my memory and list them out (briefly).

1. After spam, it was scam. Yeah, thanks to my roommate I was forced to sit through a quixstar session. If you dont know what it is, contact me and Ill help you sit through one ;). And it took place at my home at 1AM!!! Thankfully, it didnt last 5 minutes and after we rejected it straight away, we found how we "lacked" ambition in life and how much -ve influence we were on our roomate!! It was a laugh riot that night afterwards though. It probably would have made a really good post but then, I am not sure if Im talented enough with words to have brought out the of the hilarity of it all.

2. Office troubles. I got shifted to a new dept. as an intern and although the work was (is) hard, the most difficult part started the second day. It was my neighbor (was on leave my first day) who s on the phone all the day literally screaming. I was trying to read a 150 page pdf file and couldnt concentrate for a second. And what made it worse was that it was (and still is) a major chunk of his work. Now if you were a new employee and you encounter this situation where everyone else is keeping quiet (he has at least 3 other neighbors and a lot more people who hear him) what would you do? Not to mention, he is not in my team and I dont know him!! Would be funny if I mention what/how he speaks but thats besides the point. What did I finally do? I changed my schedule to work only 2.5 days a week, and am finally adjusting to concentrate inspite of the background noise.

PS: Reminds me of a compsci paper where they proposed a cubicle ettiquette system where it indicated if you were loud enough to disturb your neighbors. Please do let me know if you have any info on that.

3. The Tennis fad. Thanks to the new tennis courts at UC and to friends who were equally enthu about learning to play the game, I bought a racquet (probably the first time in years that I bought a sports item out of interest) and we all "played" fine the first week. Then the second week got tougher as another roommate joined us and 5 of us couldnt play all at once (previously, we usually played doubles matches). Also we had only4 racquets (I am yet to return one I borrowed a while back!!). We used to leave someone out everyday and tried keeping it 4 for the day. After another week of exertion, my knees and elbows were out and I literally limped around this past week. Anymore tennis was temporarily discontinued (the courts are still closed for polishing work). Now Im fit again and hope to compete in the championships (the singles tie-breaks we played when all 5 of us were present) in future.

4. Serena, Sania and Domachowska: Tennis reminds me of the Women's Cincinnati Open I went to, where I saw Serena Williams and Sania Mirza. It was also the first time I was in a tennis stadium and although it wasn't very big or great, the experience was really cool. After an indifferent singles match (who cares if Bardina or Bartoli won/lost !!), I had to choose between Sania's doubles or Serena's singles match. As I had already taken Serena's autograph (I also shook her hands and wished her 'all the best'), I went for Sania's match. Her partner Domachowska was also beautiful and played well. Finally after the 3 set match was over, I was able to get the autographs from both of them. They won the match (it was quarter finals) but eventually lost in the finals.

PS: I have the fotos of the autographs as well as the pen with Sania's figerprints (!!) somewhere in my photo album. Lazy to post link/pictures here now. Will do later.

Im too sleepy to continue (have to wake up at 6AM tomorrow), so I guess I shall continue with the rest of the stuff later (oh yeah a lot more intended posts will be mentioned in brief). Till then, ignore the typos, grammar errors and thank me for being lazy as otherwise you would have been subjected to a detailed post of each !!!
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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Fighting the junkie

SPAM. I am not going to talk about how bad spam is. Everyone hates spam. But can we do something about it? After a lot of thinking, I have come up with a solution that guarantees punitive action against one form of spam - the paper mail kind.

How many times do you open your mailbox to find another letter from a credit card company that says "you have been pre-approved" along with 0% APR for 6 months offers? Do you immediately throw it away? Wait. You can do better. All these "offers" come with a reply envelope with "no postage necessary / postage will be paid by the sender". Why not use that against the company by simply posting it? If you post it empty (or with the unfilled form they sent - to add more weight to the envelope), the company will have to pay for the postage. The company will also be paying someone to open the envelope and to throw it in the dustbin. Isnt that a great way to let them know that you dont want any more offers from them? Well I think so. I am happy, USPS is happy and the company loses money for spamming me. I wish I could do something similar about my email spam or those phone call spam.

Did you know why you call it spam?? The name comes from a Monty Python skit in which all normal conversation was drowned out by the word "spam" being repeated over and over again.
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This is a test. Real posts to follow soon.
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