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After years of discussing that we should buy a gaming console, this week we finally bought Nintendo Wii U. Juliet and I are not fans of first-person-shooters or fast-paced action games. I've always loved puzzles and she likes games that keep you moving so the Wii U was a perfect fit for us. We bought a really neat puzzle game called Art of Balance that I love and we'll probably get Wii Fit U so she can try out the different fitness programs. She refuses to play Wii bowling with me anymore (I won our first and only game) and instead wants to keep playing Mario Kart (she won 5 out of 6 rounds).
The last 10 months with the baby and the 9 months prior have changed our life so much that we forgot what our normal routine was. Now that Naveen is growing from an infant into a toddler, it is becoming easier to take care of him, giving us a little more free time to play video games or just relax after he's gone to bed. We have quite a few chores / home projects lined up before the end of the year but hopefully after that, we will get to spend more time doing fun things.
Next week, we're planning on doing a number of fun family things - decorate tree ornaments with baby, visit museums / theme parks, and go kayaking. It is way too warm right now and looks like it will be 81F/28C on Christmas Day! So instead of making snow angels, maybe we'll jump into a river.
St. Louis, MissouriSun, 3rd Mar '13, 12:35 am::
Juliet and I have been working for just over a year without a decent break. So we were looking forward to our trip to St. Louis, Missouri. We just got back and here are the vacation photos. Her idea of a good vacation is lots of fun activities. Mine involves sitting back in a comfy chair and reading a book in a room with a view. Suffice to say, we did it both ways.
We went to Gateway Arch, Forest Park (St. Louis Zoo, Art Museum, Science Center), City Museum, and Fox Theater (Book of Mormon on tour). I read The Information while gazing at the river and Arch. We got a private show at the Science Center Planetarium and a private tour of Tree Kangaroos and Butterfly Atrium because we were the only ones there. We let Doctor Fish nibble on our fingers and slid down monster slides at City Museum. We played slots at Lumiere Casino and had delicious Peruvian and Thai food. We went shopping and walked around the downtown. I slept in late most mornings while she attended her medical conference. She watched HGTV in the evening while I did some work.
It was a very relaxing four-day vacation, because even though we did a lot of sightseeing, the entire experience was quite stress-free. Our flights were smooth, our hotel upgraded us to the premium Arch-view room at no cost, we got free entrances to almost all the exhibits because we were the only visitors, we had no wait times at restaurants, and everything was close enough to walk or drive within minutes. I'd love to revisit St. Louis in the future when the weather is a bit nicer. At the end of this month, we're going to Atlanta for a friend's wedding. Hopefully it will be warmer.
A good year for learningSun, 30th Dec '12, 9:00 pm::
Instead of making new resolutions for 2013, I'm sticking with my goals for 2012 - keep on learning. Earlier this year I decided to learn as many different things as interest me - both in depth and breadth. I had no specific target in mind and let my curiosity roam free. Along the way I learned new programming languages, design patterns, and frameworks. I spent weeks digging into the history of the Middle-East conflict and petroleum extraction processes. I learned how to solve the Rubik's Cube in under 3 minutes. I watched hundreds of hours of videos on topics ranging from bio-mechanical engineering and sociology to linguistics and quantum electrodynamics.
I don't think my new-found understanding of how to efficiently compare nucleotide sequences is going to come in handy during my next database project but it makes me realize how much there is to know and how little I still do. I feel I know one percent of one percent of an iota of a minuscule amount of things that are knowable in my own field of computer science. And I know a millionth of that when it comes to biology, astronomy, or art history.
I've been programming since I was ten. During my over two decades of programming, I have spent countless hours digging into everything from transliteration and linear programming to network services and video encoding. Yet I have barely touched the surface of computer vision, neural networks, natural language processing, or machine learning. I have yet to build my own robots! 2013 is going to be the year I learn a lot more things. And I'm looking forward to it more than ever. Happy New Year!
Weekend in the Garden of Good and EvilTue, 6th Sep '11, 12:54 am::
Juliet and I went to Savannah, Georgia this Labor Day Weekend with our friend Sandra and her daughter (our goddaughter) and here are the photos. I had visited Savannah twice before to see my friend Vu but it wasn't until this weekend that I took the time to fully appreciate the city's cultural and socio-political origins.
After a wonderful walk through the Oatland Island Wildlife Center on Sunday, the girls went shopping around Ellis Square while I decided to read some short stories and poetry by the fountains. I came across one of the most haunting poems I've ever read - Seven Twilights by Conrad Aiken and felt compelled to dig deeper into his life. He was born in Savannah in 1889 and when he was a small boy, his father killed his mother and committed suicide himself. This tragedy had a profound impact on his development and writings. Saturday night we took a "ghost tour" around the city during which our guide told us about numerous Savannah residents who had tragically died of malaria or spousal-abuse centuries ago and haunt the old houses to this day. The Aiken name was missing from the roster, though the writing thoroughly conveyed the message.
With a huge immigrant population of Haitians and Irish during the 18th and 19th centuries, Savannah developed its own flavor of Americana literature, art, and architecture, much like New Orleans in Louisiana and St. Augustine in Florida. The city was founded in 1733 by Gen. Oglethorpe and laid out around four open squares intended to provide space for military exercises. The layout was also a reaction against the cramped conditions that fueled the Great Fire of London in 1666. By 1851 there were twenty four squares in the city.
The house we rented was next to Forsyth Park, which was featured heavily in the bestselling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Sunday evening we watched the haunting movie version, starring Kevin Spacey, John Cusack, and Jude Law. The story was set against a backdrop of the traditional Southern social elites in the early 1980s and portrayed elements from voodoo beliefs and alternative lifestyles that are as much a part of Savannah's culture as the ghost tours and historic church congregations.
While there is no single incident during the entire trip that I can point out as haunting, I left the city with a feeling of tragic nostalgia. It didn't matter that the city today is a vibrant port-city or is just one of the many cities around the country with a rich history. In the course of a few days, I had witnessed the birth and death of generations. Time had either wiped clean or set in stone the dreams and nightmares of men and beasts alike. As I reflected upon my own mortality and unfulfilled dreams by the fountains of Ellis Square, Juliet walked up to me and gave me a tight hug. She said "I missed you" and I replied "I missed you too. Now let's go home."
My friend Arthur and his girlfriend are visiting us from New Jersey this weekend and we've been doing a lot of sightseeing with them. We went to the Harry Potter Theme Park at Universal Studios on Friday and visited the new Salvador Dali Museum yesterday. We also went to an equestrian competition in Tampa yesterday evening at the Raymond James Stadium. We're on our way to get some yummy Mexican food before we hit the beach. They're flying back home tomorrow and then it's life back to normal for all of us.
Juliet and I were both pretty disappointed by the new Dali Museum. Architecturally it is a very interesting building design but the entire experience felt hollow and extravagantly commercialized. Walking through the old museum, I always felt like I was getting an opportunity to see a private collection of invaluable art, something I would never get a chance to see anywhere else. The new museum felt like the Disneyfication of Dali's entire portfolio with a Cafe Gala ready to serve you sandwiches and gift shop selling overpriced jewelry by designers who had nothing to do with Dali. The layout of the art gallery itself was very unimpressive, just two large rooms with Dali's artwork splattered all over with no running theme or logical organization. I love Dali's artwork but I was thoroughly disappointed by the complete lack of warmth in the museum design. Instead of Dali, if this this museum housed modern art or Ikea furniture samples, I would have loved it.
Signs They Just Want Your MoneyFri, 5th Nov '10, 3:05 pm::
I'm skeptical of people who talk for a living. If you wrote a self-help book and now give lectures around the world talking about your book, chances are I want nothing to do with you unless everything you say is grounded on hard science. If what you say cannot be proven or disproven, I'm not interested, even if all of it might be true. This includes alternative medicine advocates, nutritionists, personality coaches, most business / leadership coaches, NLP counsellors, and definitely the followers of pseudosciences like astrology, faith / spiritual healing, dowsing, ghost hunting, homeopathy, magnet therapy, and ESP. I know many people in my personal life believe in some of the above but it doesn't bother me. After all, I'm a fan of a time-travelling Doctor from the extraterrestrial planet Gallifrey so who am I judge what someone else believes in.
I came across an interesting video yesterday titled Your Brain At Work by a business coach. While the title, presentation format, and mention of a business coach set off red-flags, I gave the video a shot because it was presented in the Google Tech Talk series. I was pleasantly surprised to find it had many moments of insight with the presenter constantly citing case studies and medical research to back up his claims. What he said obviously seemed very true. The brain indeed has a prefrontal cortex and certainly studies have shown it is important for complex thought processes and critical analysis. And personal experience tells me that humans certainly get affected by negative stimuli much more intensely than positive stimuli. The presenter certainly knows what he's talking about.
His words reinforced my understanding of the brain's functions and capabilities and I even mentioned it to my wife that she should watch this sometime. I was so impressed with the presentation's logical reasoning, structured format, and reliance on actual reason that I let my skeptical guard down and completely ignored all the subsequent red-flags that I always watch out for. This morning I decided to go back and review some of the research he cited before I shared the video with some of my friends and that's when the house of cards came falling down. None of the original research has been published in any well-known journal in the fields of neuroscience, brain, medicine, or even psychiatry. The presenter made substantial references to studies but they were conducted by him and most of them were published in a journal founded by him. He coauthored many of these studies with researchers with impressive CVs but some of these researchers were not even in the fields they conducted the research in. None of these are deal-breakers individually but when I spot a series of them, I step back and question a validity of the primary author.
While there is an easy way to sniff out bogus science, there is no tutorial on how to spot a life coach who wants a lot of money to teach you how to live better. So having failed to identify the lack of hard science last night in the presentation, I decided to make up a list of my own. This list is not a critical analysis of the video I watched yesterday but is just a model to help me and hopefully others.
Five Easy Signs They Just Want Your Money:
- Bold, dynamic speaker: You need two things for someone to pay you to talk: (1) Have something worthwhile to say and (2) Be an awesome speaker. Most life coaches I've seen only have the second part and they do their very best to hide the lack of actual, original content in their presentations. But that is an art in itself as you'll see below.
- Obvious facts get repeated: This is an easy one to spot. If you catch yourself agreeing with someone talk, that's a big red flag. Knowledge doesn't work like that. You have to work hard to understand scientific methods like path integral formulation. I'm learning a new programming language using online documentation and video presentations and I keep going back and forth every few minutes to make sure I really "get" it. If something as mundane as a programming language is that difficult, what makes you think someone can explain "how the human mind works" in 45 minutes? Asking 1,000 people whether they like red or blue after seeing green and concluding that the human mind prefers red is not science, despite gratuitous use of fMRI images. At best, it is a well-designed survey. The goal here is to make you feel like they know what they're talking about so you can feel like you're learning something. If I show you that I know something, then I talk about it, instantly you'll feel like you now know it too, especially if I ask easy to answer questions that cement your beliefs.
- Generalizations abound: Real science is very, very specific. Generalization in science is very difficult, if not impossible in some fields. For almost a century now, many scientists including Einstein have tried and failed to come up with a unified theory of how everything works in the universe and so far, this remains an open line of research. Yet the guy on stage who wrote a book on herbs can explain everything about everything? Usually, speakers with a good grasp of one field will try to apply it to every problem that the audience presents. So a guy on stage selling vitamins will say there is a vitamin tablet for every single problem in your life, including your son who keeps getting into trouble at school, your boss who doesn't appreciate your hard work, and your business partner who keeps trying to steal your share. Another guy selling meditation tapes will tell you that meditation is the solution to all of the above problems and the guy selling "mind-body control" or "neuro-linguistic programming" will say his tools will fix everything. Beware of generalizations.
- Unique perspective on the common: This one's a doozy. I said above that most speakers don't have anything new to say yet now I say having a unique perspective on a common phenomenon is a gotcha. The reason is that this is their big sell and how they managed to get on the stage. If there is absolutely nothing new in someone's talk, it is easy to call their bluff despite their dynamic hand-waving abilities. But if during all the hand-waving, the speaker makes you wonder "huh, I never thought of it that way" even once, then you've fallen hook, line, and sinker for their act. And every act needs a setup. The speaker's unique perspective is their thesis statement, their angle, their bait. "Have you ever felt like A, B, C? Believe it or not, but A, B, and C are all because of W, which is just an upside-down M!" Surely you never thought W being an upside-down M had anything to do with A, B, and C. So this person on stage must have some insight that you don't. Right?
- Special acronyms & mnemonics: I saved the best one for the last because it is something EVERY SINGLE life coach does. They make up really cool, action-word-laden acronyms to help you remember the bad and the good. Often they'll put up a slide saying "The real cause of stress in life is DONKEY: D for Dishes, O for Office, N for Naggers, K for Karma, E for Enemies, and Y for YOU!" Hey, that sounds about right. This guy sure is insightful. And then they say "The solution to DONKEY is NOPANTS: N for Never giving up", O for Onomatopoeia, P for Palindromes, A for Ants, N for Nts, T for Ts, and S for Seriously, I'm done making this stuff up." There. Easy as pie. Making lame acronyms doesn't make anyone deep or insightful. It simply gives them more practice at making stuff up, something they're already doing when writing the rest of their speech. Instead of cheap acronyms, I prefer Steganography, "the art and science of writing hidden messages in such a way that no one, apart from the sender and intended recipient, suspects the existence of the message." You want an example? Scroll up and read the first-letter of all five of these paragraphs :)
I really don't have a problem with experienced people teaching others how to do anything, including living a good life. Most of what I've learned is from others. However, I do have a problem with people who claim to have done SCIENCE and then when you dig in, turn out to have done no such thing. I don't expect a hair-dresser teaching an apprentice on how to curl hair to cite a dermatological journal. But if you talk about neuroscience, quantum mechanics, nanotechnology, or any hard science, you better be standing on firm ground. Quantum Thermodynamics is a wonderful field but you can't use it to explain why sometimes you feel like aliens are watching your every move.
It's been over a week since I started my new schedule and I'm pretty satisfied with it so far. I've gone running with our two puppies almost everyday, worked on my projects like I intended to, fulfilled all of my commitments, and got a taste of being in the zone. My stress-level has gone down drastically and I've been feeling extremely creative all the time. I know this because yesterday, after a hiatus of almost 3-4 years, I felt excited to dabble in computer graphics once again.
I made a 3D city out of Jenga Towers (warning: 7mb) by programming in Structure Synth and rendered it using SunFlow. To see how I did it, read this and to do it yourself, read this. While playing around with 3D graphics seems like a waste of time unless one intends to make it a career, I know from past experience that once I feel creative enough to make some artwork, the energy and enthusiasm starts to flow into my code and projects.
In other news, we cancelled our cable TV and home phone line. We mostly watch shows and movies on-demand via Netflix Instant ($9/month) so there's no point in paying $100/month for less choice and worse programming. I've been watching Doctor Who episodes while Juliet loves to watch chick-flicks and romantic comedies.
My plans for our big desert/canyon trip in October are coming together. I planned the entire 1700-mile route last week and will make the reservations for the camping sites later today. I'm so excited!
Don't blackmail yourselfSun, 15th Nov '09, 10:25 am::
I came across a post on Hacker News this morning on "how to be successful by blackmailing yourself." The basic idea is that if you really don't want to do something then you should tell everyone how you will do it, thereby forcing yourself to do it by way of guilt and emotional blackmail. The author suggests that you should "use the power of blackmail whenever you feel that urge to avoid a certain piece of work (you know, the one you really should be working on right now)." It's the last fragment within parentheses that I want to talk about.
Don't compel yourself to do anything you don't want to. Don't guilt yourself into thinking that you should be doing something else instead of what you really want to do. People need to stop doing this in the name of productivity, efficiency, ambition, or goals. Instead, focus your energy on making yourself realize why something must be done, if it needs to be done at all. If you can convince yourself that it needs to be done, then you will have no problem doing it and will in fact do it willingly. If you can't convince yourself why it needs to be done, then you should do something to make sure you don't have to do it.
E.g., writing a school paper for a class you don't much care for. That is something that happens to me because some of my required Masters classes are a bit too easy (in fact my undergrad courses in the same subjects were much more advanced). I tell myself that life is a learning experience and writing well is an art that I must continually practice to remain proficient, regardless of the subject matter or specific task at hand. Knowing that this one 10-page assignment is a small piece of the bigger jigsaw puzzle of my life as student makes me want to work on it. Not because I love the class but because I see how this particular assignment fits into the big plan I have previously made. I always try to stick with my big plans unless there is a true reason not to. Is a 10-page assignment a true reason not to stick with my Masters degree and my academic plans? No. Then it is something that will take me one step closer to my final goal. Who doesn't want to take one more step in the right direction?
I don't play tricks with my brain or try to excite myself by small goals or high-scores (try to get an A+ in a 10-page paper I wrote in 2 hours). I see a lot of advice in such motivational posts that are mostly tricks and advice on lying to yourself. I don't set my clocks 10 minutes ahead. I try to understand why it must be so instead of fooling myself and hoping that a safety-net for my follies will somehow help me.
Why do I work on the really boring project at work that nobody else wants to help me on? Because I understand that this is something that helps with the bigger picture of my career. If it doesn't, then I will make sure I don't have to do it. I don't want to live a life avoiding things that must be done or playing tricks on myself just so I do things I don't want to do. If I sit back and truly don't want to do something, I make sure I don't have to do it.
This doesn't mean I look forward to doing the dishes. Wife and I both hate doing the dishes and we avoid using too many pots and pans while cooking. However, I do the dishes whenever I can because it makes the misses happy and that is my bigger goal. Doing the dishes gets me one step closer to marital bliss and who doesn't want that? Do I really want to claim "honey I will do the dishes" and do them reluctantly only because I claimed that publicly? Or do I do the dishes willingly because it makes my wife happy and thus me happy?
Feeling like a kidFri, 24th Jul '09, 12:30 am::
For the first time in many years, I feel like a kid discovering how a computer works. I had been so busy with making websites, software, and applications for others that I forgot what it was like to just learn and explore like I once used to. I've spent the past decade worrying so much about clients, projects, and deadlines that whenever I had to learn something new, I rushed in, learned the bare essentials, and then got back to finishing the project. I never took a day or a week to just fiddle with new things. All I cared about was building something useful that did whatever the users wanted. While that seems quite productive initially, over time I started to lose the passion I had for computers, mainly because everything felt dull and boring because everything had predetermined specifications and deadlines. In a way, it limited the scope of my knowledge and skills by pushing me towards familiar, proven tracks.
I haven't been working on any major computer projects at home for a few months now and was having a hard time NOT working on something. The habit of constantly building something for others has become a chronic addiction. How can I sit around watching TV or spend 12 hours a Saturday training for my marathon instead of writing code? The feeling of "I should be doing X instead of Y" is one of the most guilt-ridden, debilitating experiences that an ambitious person can face. However, I also believe that all work and no play makes even the most interesting activities suck. How can I make something useful when all I care about is making something useful?
When I look back to see all the fun things I've made, I either made them when someone either asked me directly or when I was sitting around fiddling with something else. It's been a while since I've made random little things while playing around. Tonight I spent some time toying with Processing.js. It looks quite interesting. There are a million other neat projects that people around the world are working on. From a new database system to programmable art, there are so many things I want to learn about for the sake of learning instead of using them as tools for specific work-orders or turning them into full-blown business proposals. I'm excited!
Juliet and I went to Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in south St. Petersburg today. It was a gorgeous Florida winter day and here are some photos of our hike. Earlier in the day, we both donated blood. Both of our blood type is A+ and it's usually in high demand. After our nature hike, we went to Home Depot and got some stuff to build a covered enclosure for our tortoise Herbert in the backyard. It took under an hour to build it all and I'll post pictures of that tomorrow. We're going out with Sandra tonight to an art show downtown in a few minutes.
Don't do muchThu, 16th Oct '08, 11:15 pm::
I had my first real in-class exam today after a break of four and a half years from college. I think I did well for someone who barely had the time to sit down and study. I have been pressed for time lately and this very lack of time is gradually teaching me how to better manage my todos, stress, expectations, and goals in quite an unorthodox way. I know my thoughts below will initially seem to be going all over the place but just hang on a bit because I will eventually reach the focal point that I intend to discuss.
The problem with life is that for most people, it really is the same story day-in and day-out. Even if you have an exciting work or social life, the excitement has the same flavor on a day-to-day basis. Then one day something changes and it starts to get more stressful. You can't change your life around immediately to counteract the increased stress, so it builds up. Pretty soon you fall way behind on your todo list and your goals and hopes are nowhere in sight. A few years later you ask yourself how did I end up here and whatever happened to my dreams and all those plans.
At the same time, you see successful people in every walk of life around you. The gym instructor is in better shape than you'll ever be, your coworker knows more about Excel than you thought was possible, your sixty year old neighbor can run faster and further than you can, the mechanic knows more about your car than you ever will, your friend has read more books than you can imagine, and even the stupid guy who interrupts movies on cable TV seems to cook better than you can ever hope for. It is as if we are being told we suck at life by being encouraged to be good at everything and we are going crazy trying to deal with it all.
Then New Year's Day comes around and the go-getters among us make resolutions and promises. Time to join gyms, lose weight, start reading, help the community, sign up for a music class, and take a course in web designing. All of this is supposed to make us a better person and help us grow. And I am all for it too, regardless of when and how you start. Knowledge, skill, and art makes one a well-rounded person so go for it by all means. The problem isn't that these things don't help us in the long run. The problem is that they displace the honest, self-actuating goals we had on our list and have forgotten over time. What was once a list of unique, personal goals, goals that truly mattered to you, is now a list telling you to sign up for pilates, swing dancing, and pottery classes just like eighty million others.
The trick is to not buy into it. I don't want to run faster than anyone and I don't need to be an awesome cook. I will not be jealous of my well-read friend's library and I will not try to be the best Excel number-cruncher (though I'm pretty damn good at it already.) What I will be, is the best me. I no longer want to be the best at anything and everything. If that means I get a B in Accounting while making more time for my wife and pets because that's what matters more, that is how it shall be. If it means my website gets fewer hits because I'd rather be sitting outside staring at the moon instead of computer code, so be it.
Throughout our lives we have been taught that it is a great thing to be good at something and success is what we should strive for. Society puts a great deal of value on the champions in every field. You cannot fight these uncontrollable urges to be better at everything unless you are consciously aware of your true desires in a given field. From the bottom of my heart, I do not care about running a mile in under six minutes. I never have and never will. However, the moment I see someone dart past me at a park, an annoying little bulb lights up in my head and commands me to "wake up early every morning and start running again so you can be fast like this runner." So I wake up the next morning, run for a few days or weeks if I'm lucky, and then give up. Why? Not because I hate waking up early or despise running, but because running is not something I genuinely want to do at this point in my life.
The simple reason most of our resolutions fail is because we don't want to do them. And on top of that, we are told that we are utter failures if we don't stick to our resolutions and plans - plans that we never even wanted to make to begin with. So this is where we are right now. We make our own dreams but get sidetracked when we get stressed in our day-to-day life and see others succeeding at their own goals. So instead of working on our goals, we pick up their goals because self-help books and self-titled gurus said so. We try hard but fail after we realize we don't really like bending over backwards in yoga or rock-climbing. Then finally we ask ourselves what happened to our goals and why life seems so stressful and joyless despite our every effort at improving things.
I learnt all of this over time after trying to do too many things too fervently and failing miserably at almost all of them. I still hope to do a lot of things but only ones that I really, really want to do and without trying too hard to succeed in most of them. The handful of things that I am passionate about and dedicated to, will still get my full attention but the rest of the things on my todo list will get sort-of done, whenever, if ever. By not caring too much about everything, I am able to care a lot more about some specific things and that I feel is the key to reducing stress and reaching one's personal goals.
I have a new favorite wine, Moscato D'Asti Beviamo. So long Verdi Spumante. It's past 11pm, I have no chores, I'm sipping on sweet bubbly wine, listening to wonderful music on Hype Machine, and reading interesting articles. Life is alright.
Last night rocked! It was supposed to be a coding marathon (sorry Taylor) but Sandra dragged my lazy ass off to an art exhibit in Ybor City, Tampa. An old Cigar Factory had been converted into an art warehouse with paintings, sculptures, and photographs plastered all over. Pretty cool stuff. We had dinner at TC Choy's and walked around Ybor late night before our movie started. We grabbed some popcorn, I had a spiked Pina-Colada, and got ready for what I knew was gonna be an awesome movie: 300. And it was. If you get a chance, ignore the critics and go watch it.
I got home late and just woke up. I'm hoping to go kayaking tomorrow but till then, it's code-crunching time.
Bring back VaudevilleSun, 4th Feb '07, 10:40 am::
If debauchery was illegal, the cast members of Thee Vaude Villians would be serving life sentences. Last night my buddy Nathaniel from Tampa came over and we drove to see the Burlesque Company perform at Chiq. Vaudeville is "a style of multi-act theater which flourished in North America from the 1880s through the 1920s. An evening's schedule of performances (or 'bill') could run the gamut from acrobats to mathematicians, from song-and-dance duos to trick high divers." In the early twentieth century, burlesque theater, with its "origins in nineteenth century music hall entertainments and vaudeville, emerged as a populist blend of satire, performance art, and adult entertainment, that featured strip tease and broad comedy acts that derived their name from the low comedy aspects of the literary genre also known as burlesque."
Knowing the show would be quite different from the Broadway musicals and strip-joint tricks, I walked in with expectations of being mildly entertained and pleasantly amused. Boy, was I wrong! Here's part of a mission statement of sorts from the group itself:
"Throughout the history of theater, many revolutionary ideas have made their impact and become mainstays of modern entertainment. More often than not, the origins of these ideas have been diluted and forgotten as the entertainment industry drones forward. Among these casualties lies the lost art of burlesque. In these first years of the new millennium, only a relatively small number of people endeavor to keep this genre of entertainment from falling into oblivion unsung. Only these few strive to ensure that the word “burlesque” is not easily associated with stripping or the fetish scene. In fact, Thee VaudeVillains Burlesque Company’s main goal is to snatch burlesque out of the jaws of fetishists and bring back all the forgotten elements that once made this genre great. We feel it is our duty to restore the original ideals of the art form and make it shine once more. "
I say bring back vaudeville! I want to leave work at 5pm and taunt the bearded women by 6pm. I want to a see a man eat his own jaw and a woman who can crush coconuts with her bare chest. I'm tired of the puritan and the sleaze fighting over zoning law establishments and what I can or cannot see within 50 feet of a school bus stop that's less than 100 feet of a liquor store on 3rd weekends of months that end with a "Y." I say bring back the innocent burle-laden maidens! Fortunately for me, Thee Vaude Villans are right on track.
In classical vaudeville style, the show consisted of a variety of acts from story-telling and singing to contortion and satire. Saying that I was entertained is putting is mildly. A more appropriate word would be enchanted. The show lasted for over two hours not including the intermission. Nathaniel introduced me to a few cast members before their acts. It's not everyday that I'm introduced to a pretty software engineer that works on digital imaging by day and prances around on stage with feathers at night.
In a society where beautiful girls often starve themselves to become skinnier because the magazine says so, it was refreshing and in a way comforting, to see women not ashamed of their own bodies. Tall and skinny or short and curvy, as long as you can shake those legs for hours on end, you're beautiful.
Having seen the bottom of three Long Island glasses within two hours last night, I have but vague recollections of specific performances. Additionally, smoke-filled cramped rooms, which I guess were the prime seats of such shows once, are really not my thing and often give me headaches. We were too tired by the time the show ended so we parted ways. I got home, consumed lots of bread and orange juice, and went to bed. Here's to a good night out.
Leave me aloneTue, 21st Nov '06, 8:15 am::
I was reading an NY Times article on being alone on reddit and following the comments when it got yanked off the front page. I'm not sure what happened but here's my reply to the article, which will make a lot more sense once you read the original article.
I think the bigger picture is not that some people are introverted or some other people desperately crave attention. The truth is that while genetically we are all 99.999% equals, our minds, emotions, and thus desires are completely unique. Our social structure isn't; it is extremely stratified. There are minor variations in social structures from country to country but over all, we have well-defined hierarchies in place almost throughout the entire civilized world.
From maternal and familial bonding to friendship and marriage, we all "know" how things should be. A person must find a mate and have a monogamous relationship with them. A person must form non-sexual bonds with others that they shall deem "friends," who may be called upon from time to time to help them lift a couch when primary domiciles change. This is how the young of the species must act in training environments and once they have been skilled in the fine art of survival, this is how they must seek a single mate.
All of this makes sense too if we want some form of just, stable society. None of this makes sense we find ourselves restricted and bound by these imaginary chains that do nothing but make us feel worse for being ourselves. Society doesn't take kindly to those that choose not to conform to these norms. You want a mate that is your own gender? Tough luck. You want two mates? Tramp! No mates? Loser. You want friends that are also physical partners? You want love interests without physical intimacy? You wish to dress up like the opposite gender while engaging in physical acts with multiple partners of both genders, under and over some hypothetical age? FREAK! There's a tragedy written on each of these subjects every generation and there's a good reason for it.
The human condition is not one of task-designated ants. We don't have one queen, a few thousand nurturers, and a few million soldiers. Every person is a unique blend of all these characteristics and have the birth-right to be who they truly are as long as they pose no threat to others. It is our ancestral notion that strictly adhering to the prescribed social guidelines is the only way to sustain the propagation of our species. While that is indeed true and I would find it hard to believe arguments against that, I think we have arrived at a stage when propagation of our species is not the biggest challenge we face. The challenge we face is to prevent the destruction of our species. That has for centuries and will indeed forever henceforth, be brought upon by individuals that feel ostracized by the society for thinking different, feeling different, and not "fitting in" regardless of the fact that they may be tyrants or eerily quiet neighbors.
Our goal as humans should no longer to be to beat out the dinosaurs and tigers in the wild. Our goal should be to ensure every person indeed feels human, accepted, and part of the human community. And if that means leaving the person alone, then so be it.
Movie MarathonsTue, 28th Feb '06, 8:05 am::
So here's my list of Top 10 Movie Marathon Ideas with 4-6 movies each:
- View Askew Rapid-fire: Clerks, Mall Rats, Chasing Amy, Dogma
- Nerd Alert: Tron, Hackers, Pirates of Silicon Valley, Antitrust
- Coen Classics: Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother - Where Art Thou
- Uncomfortable Embarrassment: Rushmore, Napolean Dynamite, Garden State, Lost in Translation
- Future's Farked: Gattaca, The Matrix, Brazil, Equilibrium, Twelve Monkeys, The Fifth Element
- Antiestablishmentarianism = 'Screw The Man': Fight Club, American Beauty, Office Space, Falling Down
- Tarantino Torture: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill I, Kill Bill II
- Pacino's Rage: Godfather I, Godfather II, Scarface, Carlito's Way
- Mind Jobs Mania: A Clockwork Orange, Memento, Cube, Donnie Darko, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich
- Hair-raising Heists: The Italian Job, Ronin, Ocean's Eleven, The Usual Suspects, The Thomas Crown Affair
Futurama: See you on some other 'blogSat, 17th Dec '05, 4:00 am::
The first DVD series that I put on my rental queue the minute I signed up for NetFlix was the entire collection of Futurama. Futurama is an animated cartoon series about a pizza delivery boy Philip J. Fry, accidentally frozen in a cryogenic facility for a thousand years and revived in 2999. Signing on with Planet Express, a space courier service, he befriends a one-eyed mutant, Leela, an alcohol-powered robot, Bender, office manager Hermes Conrad and Dr Zoidberg (my favorite character), a lobster-like alien.
While it seems like any other children's cartoon show, I've always known that Futurama is much more... it's humorous and clever on the surface but beneath the nerdy jokes are all sorts of weird characters and creatures that have one thing in common - they embody the innate human emotions, beliefs, and flaws, no matter how much titanium and dark matter they are composed of. In addition to the spontaneous bouts of random craziness, there's a distinct level of timelessless to the entire series, clearly evident from the numerous underrated nuggets of profound wisdom like: "When you do something right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all." - God Nebula
Of course, everytime I mentioned that Futurama is more than some funny cartoon about aliens and future, everyone would just stare at me as if I'm an 8-year old awestruck by an escalator. So I felt vindicated when I found this article tonight about the creators of Futurama, Matt Groening (also created The Simpsons) and David Cohen.
In the article, Cohen says, they hoped to "incorporate all the craziest ideas from science fiction, but we also wanted to have a point and reflect on life today." Groening says. "We had this show that looked goofy, with robots and aliens, but was actually very sophisticated. Having people overcome the hurdle of taking us seriously was something we didn't anticipate... What I love about the reaction to Futurama these days is that people who did give it a chance and fell in love with it are still ardent fans." Both Futurama and The Simpsons, Groening says, share an ambition to tell timeless jokes. "Both shows are trying to do something which will knock people out the first time they watch it, but will also hold up years later," he says. "Jokes that make sense now, and will also make sense 10 or 20 years from now."
It's refreshing to hear that the creators of the show share the exact same thoughts as I do as a regular viewer. I mentioned the timelessness of Futurama to my friend Art just the other day but wasn't really able to back up my views with better explanations as to why. When I mentioned how moving some episodes of Futurama to my coworkers I got a mere chuckle. While I understand that South Park and Family Guy are not everyone's cup of tea, I don't see why Futurama is so undervalued and ignored by everyone except the hardcore-fans.
All I can say is that if you're not in tears by the end of Episode 4-07: Jurassic Bark then you don't have this little thing called a "heart." Or try Episode 4-12: The Sting. Or Episode 4-03: Love and Rocket. Or Episode 3-01: Parasites Lost. I can go on but I got a few more episodes to watch now before I go to bed. G'morning!
Walt Disney Travel Company Sucks Monkey AssWed, 2nd Feb '05, 7:15 pm::
After my friends Art 'n Michele left Florida in mid January, I thought my problems with Disney were over. Turns out, I couldn't be more wrong. I said it once and I would like to repeat this again: Walt Disney Travel Company Sucks Monkey Ass! They have absolutely the WORST customer service that I've experienced in US ever. Everytime I've talked to them, they have been completely arrogant, extremely uncooperative, and overall a bunch of jerks.
Basically, they billed me $61 more than they should have and are telling me to wait 2 months to get my money back! The only way I can get my money back sooner is if I return the original documentation they sent me. Of course, once I do that, I no longer have any proof that I should be getting my $61. Other than trying to sue them, the only sane thing I can do is just wait for 2 months. THIS is what happens when a company grows too big - they can afford to treat their customers like crap and actually get away with it.
I didn't go into the details of the whole nightmare before, but basically, I booked my Disney tickets + hotel via them around Jan 5-7th. It was gonna cost me $520-something. An absolutely horrible woman from the company called me a few days later to tell me that the hotel I had booked and paid for was overbooked and they were cancelling my reservation. After going through a LOT of convincing that I really needed a hotel, she finally moved my reservation to a hotel outside of Disney, that turned out to be awful. But fine, I didn't care. I'm gonna go have fun with my friends.
The lady told me my tickets will be at Disney when I get there. When we got to Magic Kingdom in Disney, of course my tickets weren't there. They were at the hotel where we were gonna sleep at night! Took us about 45 minutes of convincing the guys at the Disney entrance to let us in. They called the hotel, got some confirmation numbers, and finally gave us our tickets. Once inside Disney, we had a great time.
But of course, the hotel was run by a bunch of total retards. When we got to our hotel, they did not have our tickets to Disney for the next day. The room was stinky, the beds were uncomfortable, but whatever, I was with friends and even though it was waaaay overpriced, I didn't care. I was told that they will locate my Disney tickets by morning. I'm sure you can already guess that by morning, the tickets were still missing. I went to the hotel reservation desk and turns out, the genius lady who gave the ticket confirmation number to Disney the day before, decided to TEAR MY NEXT DAY'S TICKETS! According to her, now that the package was opened, it had to be destroyed by their policy. But she assured us to no extent, that our tickets could now be instantly issued at Disney. I didn't trust her at all, but well we had no choice.
After arriving at Epcot Center on Jan 16th (it was FREEZING cold that day), it came to me as no surprise that my tickets weren't there at Disney and they could not seem to re-issue them. I was not in their database. Well at least the lady at the counter from Casablanca, Morocco was very nice and helpful. So I think me and my friends waited for over an hour to get our tickets and finally get in. Well, so we finally got in and pretty much enjoyed the rest of the day.
My friends came here all the way from New Jersey and the whole point of the vacation was that we wanted to spend some time together and have fun. During the course of the whole mayhem, I did not whine or freak out about the absolute lack of service. I swear anyone in my position would have created a major scene. But once again, I was with friends and we were there to enjoy and not fight.
So as I stated above, after my friends left, I thought, phew, the nightmare with Disneyi s over, until an hour ago when I got my credit card statement by email. Turns out, Walt Disney Travel Company (which is a part of Disney) charged me $61 more than they should. They charged me for the original hotel instead of the hell hole they put us in. Now, they are not going to return me my own money for a whole month more.
I could technically dispute the charge on my credit card and make it harder on their part or I can just wait for a month or two till they return my money. I somehow think I have a lot better things to do than screw with them anymore. I'm sure if I had nothing to do all day, I'd fight with them and teach them a lesson but now I'm just so sick of them, I don't wanna deal with them anymore. I've already forgotten about my money so if they ever pay me back, it'll be like I found money in one of my old coat pockets. Though $61 can't even pay for my weekly grocery bills these days. Ha!
More artwork :)
And here's a little more artwork :)
This weekend's been pretty good so far. I've made a few more artwork. Last night I picked up Ash from her house and we went to Panera Bread because I was so hungry. I brought her to my place and she loved the furniture and the whole setup. I gotta give credit to my awesome friend Lynn for it, who picked everything for me :) We watched American Beauty and then just chilled together for a while.
I know that someday I'm gonna look back to these days with warm 'n fuzzy nostalgia at how happy I was.
So I've been making more and more artwork lately. I'm absolutely addicted to it. Today to see if my art is any good, I decided to print it and if possible, hang it in my computer room. Here is the picture of my artwork on my wall :) I feel quite proud of it. In addition I made a pretty damn hi-res wallpaper for my friend Tony. Here are his dual LCDs with my image as the background :)
I'm addicted to digital artistry.
Created more artwork tonight :) I'm getting addicted.
Presenting the chir.ag/art gallery :)
Here's a brief summary of an exciting day. I went to the Clearwater Beach today with Arthur. While in the sea we met a gorgeous 22 year old ex-waitress/stripper named Crystal. We talked and swam for almost two hours and then me and Art headed back home. Now I know you're thinking what-the-hell but it's true. We wanted to stay longer but Arthur had to pick up his car from the service department before five.
MasterCard Ad follows: Parking - $4, Lunch - $20, Gasoline - $2, Meeting a bikini-clad stripper on a beach - Priceless... There are some things money can't buy. For everything else there're the Florida Beaches.
Here's to a new way of life...!
Today is the one year anniversary of moving into my bunker :) Here's to one amazing year in a tiny little place that has provided me shelter for months and many a peaceful days. Oh bunker I love thee like thou art a palace for the richest of the kings :) And coincidentally just today I got a call from the manager of my new apartment in Florida! Hopefully everything's gonna work out now *crossing my fingers*.
In one month, I will be moving to Florida with my buddy Arthur the Awsom-O. Last night was fun. Met Art's girlfriend Kate at her house and chilled with her friends. I had enough drinks but as usual, none of it affected me. Before we went to Kate's house, we stopped by at Art's, and his dad offered me an imported Polish beer - now THAT was strong :) I'm not a beer person and so it hits me quite hard.
Anyways, have my research to complete now. Working on a site as usual. Life's going ok I guess. Talked to my family a couple of times in past few days. Missing them a lot. Especially for my graduation.
Quote for the day: "This internet thing is killing the art of watching television." - some old guy (via Slashdot).
As usual one thing leads to another. A new Fark photoshop contest is coming up with "Photoshop theme: The ABCs of Fark. A is for asshat..." My entry is this long A-Z of Fark (let's hope I win). What got me thinking, was that the word "Asshat" is what kinda brought me and Art together. I remember sitting in a boring Computer Architecture class and some guy's cellphone went off. I muttered "asshat!" and Art, sitting two seats away from me, laughed and said, "Wow, never heard anyone say that in real life." I guess from then on, we've been cursing a lot more together.
So tonight, I sit down and see if I can come up with one word or phrase for all of my friends. Some of these phrases probably won't make sense to anyone except the person involved but bah! Least they mean something. And sorry if I forget you. Feel free to remind me. After all, this is a list that's hopefully gonna grow throughout my lifetime.
Art bought me 100lbs of sand for my research today!!!!! Thanks soooooo much :)
What a night. Went to see the World Premiere of Red vs Blue at the Walter Reade Theater part of Lincoln Center in NYC with my buddy Arthur and his friend Shawn. Red vs Blue is a series of episodes shot by these amazing folks who use the video game Halo to do the animation and dub extremely hilarious dialogues over it. The Blood Gulch Chronicles is a story of two armies - the Red and the Blue army, who are stationed in a barren wasteland on a remote planet and their only mission is to wipe out one another. While this sounds plain violent, the folks at RedvsBlue have made it so funny that you'll laugh non-stop throughout each episode. See the videos of the Blood Gluch here.
After the premiere of their movie, I got to meet Bernie & Dan, two of the lead characters and got autographs from the other characters. Here's more pictures from RvB in NYC as well as a couple of pictures from my ski trip with Art.
Quote for the night: "I got violated by Private Donut!" - Chirag
Today three really cute girls hit on me. Unfortunately, two of them with their snowboards on both my kneecaps and the third one with her skis on my neck. Ow ow so much pain. Exactly a year ago I went skiing for the first time ever. Today I went skiing to Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania with my buddy Art and his friend Shawn. Of course it was a lot of fun (except for the thirty-forty bruises I have all over my body). I didn't get hurt badly, but there's a lotta pain everywhere. I really should start working out and exercising more often now. Being out of shape is no fun.
I'm still alive :) Don't worry. Just taking a lil break. Been working on a friend's site all weekend. Yesterday I went to see Return of the King. Of course, keep in mind these 24 things NOT to do while watching Lord of the Rings just to be on the safe side. Been watching a lot of movies once again. Cable TV is waaaay too expensive (and frankly not very entertaining given the high price), since I already get my South Park online.
I saw the hilarious Monty Python film Life of Brian today. Saw three films by late Stanley Kubrick in the past week beginning with the satire/black-comedy classic Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Amazing (three) roles by Peter Sellers. Then the Vietnam War story Full Metal Jacket (thanks Art!) and finally after months of procrastination, A Clockwork Orange. Once again I ended up watching three films by the same director in a series, without planning to. But it's all good, since these movies were amazing.
Then it was time for an old Kevin Spacey (of the American Beauty fame) hit: The Usual Suspects. I kinda figured out the ending midway but it was still entertaining throughout. Also saw Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Pirates of the Caribbean again. I think that's about it. No more movies. Hehe. Well, I still have a lot of movies to see.
Here's the 2003 List of Banished Words by Lake Superior State University. These are the words that have crept into our daily conversations and seldom add any meaning to the context. Since 1976, there have been a lot of banished words. Come to think of it, they banished state-of-the-art in 1983! But then when you look at the full list of every banned word you realize that's pretty much the whole vocabulary of the news media out there. Ooops, I can't say 'out there' because it was banned in 1983 too.
Just had a nice sub w/ Art. Gonna git back to workin now...
Context-switch ConversationsFri, 17th Oct '03, 7:30 pm::
In the past hundred thousand years since man has communicated his emotions to his peers through verbal or physical gestures, never has he faced the emotional complexity that the everyday AIM conversation solicits. In one of my computer classes, I'm learning about something called: Context or Task Switching. I realized the same thing happens in my brain while chatting with more than one person - instantaneous switches between multiple moods and personalities. In one tiny window, I could be talking to Art and telling him how something is not going right and in another window chatting with Kat, I become all excited at her wonderful news from the family front. Then talking to Tay, I remain calm, comforting, and give the best advice I can offer so that he can salvage his 2,500 music files after iTunes "organized" them without permission. Another window, I'm laid back, discussing the pros-and-cons of reading books before watching the movie, with Jen. And back to Art, I wail how the hell might I get out of this current problem. All of this happens at the same time; my brain has about 1/100th of a second to switch between wise-and-composed to neurotic-and-whiny. I do this everyday. And everyone I know who chats online, does this everyday.
This doesn't seem to be an out of the world experience either. It's something very common and everyone I know is quite accustomed to it. However, from a psychological evolutionary point of view, this is something that is entirely new, brought upon us by the dot-com generation. Our personalities and behaviours change depending on who we are interacting with at any given moment. Around your teachers or customers, you put on a helpful or obedient mask, and around your friends, you quite possibly take off that mask. Right now, people who chat online, do the same, except 100 times an hour. Maybe this is something I noticed and probably doesn't deserve an observation. Or maybe this is something that requires intense research, to learn what happens to an individual's personality, after he or she is subjected to such rapid context switching for 6 years online. I am not a psychology major, but I feel the effects of chatting with multiple people simultaneously should not be ignored. Various psychological aspects of the computer life have been extensively studied, from causing social anxiety and reclusiveness to increased violence among video game players. However, I wonder why nobody has tried to explore whether engaging in multiple simultaneous conversations online increases the probability of developing or worsening Dissociative Disorders. Any Psych majors reading this? Tamara?
The season is back; the season of me getting static electricity shocks. I just got shocked for the second time in last 10 minutes after touching my monitor @ work. As much as I hate the heat during the summer, at least I don't get shocked ten times a day. Now that winter's approaching, I guess I gotta get used to not touching metal, doors, cars, and anything that can transfer static. Grrrrrrrrrr!
Anyways, just had an awesome lunch with my buddy Art, who took me to Taco Bell. That's definitely my b'day present every year since I came here. Hehe. And I discovered that my economics class @ 1:10 was cancelled. So I'm here at work till 4:30 pm. Got a lot of stuff to do though. Tata for now...
Today was a long day. I worked till 12:30 pm and my buddy Arthur came to pick me up. We went to my aunt's house, I got dressed, and we drove to Freehold - for Michele's mom's viewing/wake. It was a sombre atmosphere and since I had never seen a corpse before, I was kinda scared. Not scared like a child, but by the realization of inevitability - the fact that this is how it's all gonna end, always, for everyone. As usual, Mich seemed to hold herself strong. She's a very strong person and I know her friends love her. It's gonna be hard for her but I'm positive she'll manage. She's gonna live on College Av. campus now and so will be just a 2 min. walk away from me.
Art, being the awesome guy that he is, dropped me back to my place - prolly 4 hours of driving for him all total. Thanks a lot buddy. I REALLY appreciate it. At 6pm, my friend from work Mason called and said I should dress up well for the ResLife Banquet. We reached the Busch Dining Hall at 6:30pm and I was amazed to see how formal it was - I simply thought it was a nice dinner for the 150 students who monitor the all dorms. Turns out it was a formal event, that takes place every year just before school starts, to prepare and wish best-of-luck to all the students. These are the same 150-180 people I have been showing my system to, in the last few weeks, and almost all of them recognized me as the 'computer guy' or the 'new system guy.' While it sounds like an informal and quite insufficient title (considering the work I do is pretty complex), it's amazing how good it feels, just talking down Easton Av, and hearing 'Hey man! Good job...' just randomly.
Mason introduced me to a few close friends and we just chilled around the dining table. Food was decent and since I wasn't that hungry it didn't matter. What mattered is how I felt. After an eight year gap, I had a rush of adrenaline that I used to have in RKC, right before the prize giving ceremony - the feeling that what I do is important. Last few years, I've been making softwares, websites, and systems for people I never see. Half a million people have downloaded Glass2k and TrayPlay, and I have seen not 20 of them. Tonight, as I walked alongside Mason, everyone smiled at me, said they love the new system, and congratulated me on a job well done. Stuff like this never gets into my head. I don't suddenly feel all important or heroic. I simply feel accepted and loved. This is a good feeling. Something tells me, this final year in college is going to be wonderful.
I've decided a couple of things. I am NOT going to complain anymore about my studies. I pay FAR too much to study and fretting over homework is just plain immature. I have already decreased my website load and not taking new clients - meaning I'll have a little spare time to relax and unwind, like tonight after the banquet. I went over to Mason's place, we played James Bond 007 and some other Boxing Video game. He kicked my ass in both the games. Hehe. Yes, I suck at games. And then we grabbed a beer, opened a bag of popcorn, and watched Terminator III. I just got home, and here I am.
Gotta wake up @ 7:30am tomorrow, so I better head to bed.
Me hungry! It seems all I want these days is to sleep and eat! Phew at least I'm still human. Oh and last night's Econ exam was decent. I better get an A in that! Otherwise I'll be real mad @ myself. Art came over to my bunker after the exam and I introduced him to the fine cuisine of the little chinese food place two houses down - "Panda House" - Veg Chow Mein @ its best :)
It's not everyday that I get interviewed by a sweet lil PhD from Cambridge University, UK. So I know this lady Penny from one of my classes and she told her daughter Dawn about me 'n my work. Dawn is researching trends in the small and medium business market and how it varies based on age, culture, and field. Being a 22 yr old Indian making websites according to her, I was a prime candidate. Had a nice Iced Mocha (on her 'business' tab) and talked about me and my work for 2 hours. I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity. I love talking about me (DUH! you should know that by now) and even more I love talking about my work. And here's a smart PhD actually interested in what I have to say. She taped my on her dictaphone cuz I was speaking too fast for her to write down. What can I say... I love talking 'bout me! Anyways she said the interview was very helpful & in-depth. So I guess it's all good.
Had International Econ class after that and then went to Taco Bell with Art. It's been over 3 months since I had Tacos... Mmmmmm.
Since early this evening, I've been busy writing The 'Blog Potential. It's my view on how 'blogging can and probably will change the world slowly. It's presumptious for anyone to claim that 'blogging will ever cause any major social revolutions, but that's exactly what they said about art, music, radio, TV, computer, and the Internet. I still have to complete the article... might do it tonight, might do it next year. I dunno...
It's not everyday that a 65 year old lady talks to me for 15 minutes and makes me laugh like a best friend since first grade would. My landlady, Sunny, an asian woman (I don't if she's Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese) came down to collect the rent for this month. My bunker is right under her bedroom so sometimes when I play music loudly, I worry if it bothers them or not. I told her to instantly call me anytime my music is too loud. She calmly told me, "Chirag, you need your music. It doesn't matter to us if you play your Indian music, Rap, or Hip-Hop loud, because we have learnt to live with it." There are not too many people like this in the world, people who want to "step into a college student's shoes and look at life their way."
Sometimes I wonder what makes some people so understanding. She told me she recognized some song I was playing yesterday and I told her it was Frank Sinatra's "That's Amore." Her husband, Ed, told me when I first signed the lease, that he was a big Sinatra fan too. She admitted Ed sings quite well, but just lacks the "something" that was in Sinatra's voice. So every now and then she sits in front of Ed and his microphone and tells him to "talk to me... sing for me..." I tell a lot of people that I don't really want to live beyond 60. I mean come on, what exactly will I do after I get old? Just sit around and nothing! But just imagining that if I'm lucky, I could end up with someone like Sunny, who can make each day seem like the best day of your life, makes me want to live beyond 100.
Her elder son she said was into Heavy Metal, even had his own band and played guitar really well. But obviously only one in a million makes it big in the music industry. After years of trying to break into the music industry, he ended up being a successful accountant on Wall Street. At his wedding, she told him to cancel the regular wedding-band and instead get his own Heavy Metal band to play the music that he lives for. Her son's friends call her Ozzy-Mom, basically since she told someone her favorite musician was Ozzy Osbourne. Nowadays, she said, some people are calling her Hip-Hop-Ma since she likes listening to the latest music by Eminem and Naaz.
Times change and the only ones happy, are those who change with it. And yet she said "technology is not that good and someday you will realize that only music and nature will bring you true happiness, not checking your email." It's at this point, I guess I differ from her. I'm sure most of you reading this actually side with her but I can't. For me technology is just another aspect of life that brings me pleasure. I'm not writing this 'blog just because I want to write. I'm also writing it because I love writing and instantly sharing what I write with you. And technology is an integral part of it.
I dread the day when I might look at a computer and curse at it that it ruined my life. A lot of people have told me it'll happen someday. I have, of course, cursed at specific softwares on dreadful days, but never have I looked at a computer and thought that it has caused me pain. It's second nature to me. Call me a nerd/geek/whatever but technology brings a form of joy that is unfelt by me otherwise. I'm not an artist, I'm not a creative musician, but I am an innovative programmer. I don't understand how thinking up a new and faster way to access websites is any different from writing a poem, because as far as I know, both bring the same amount of joy to me, first when I create them, and second when others appreciate them.
The cliched saying goes that "Technology is most efficient when it's invisible." I'd like to say that "Technology, once it becomes invisible, is no longer technology at all - it's art; inspring, life-giving, and comforting."
Shameless Capitalism rocks my world!!! Well I got my $1000+ tax refund yesterday and let's say only 80% of that is left now. I went shoppin' to Franklin Mills Mall with my buddy Art :) You wanna know what I bought? Practically the whole men's section! Hehe. Let's see (takes out the 5-6 bills), I bought a REALLY nice Van Heusen suede jacket, two expensive jeans & two t-shirts from Guess?, two khakis & three t-shirts from Old Navy, and to top it all, two Reservoir camp shirts & four pricey sweatshirts from Modells :) Had some baked-ziti @ Sbarro and got back here. So why did I spend all this money? Because I can! Actually, last night I calculated that I can afford a frivolous expense of upto $250 between now and May, and so I decided to spend 80% of it today. But sorry dear, I'm all outta extra money now. Can't buy anything for you. All out! Hehe...
Anyways, I'm off to the library in a few, to finish up on my reading. Gotta do it by tonight, otherwise I'm screwed.
Econ lab in progress... Hopefully I'll be free tomorrow (and so will my buddy Art) to go shoppin' and get some good summer clothes...
Readin' the 'blog of Mar 7, 2002, I realized my this week's kinda been good too. Sure, it's not that beautiful outside, but things are going good overall. God I can't ever forget those good ol' days :) Totally loved spring.. can't wait for it this year either...
So what's my plans for spring break? Well not Aruba or Cancun or Spain or Hawaii :( Sadly can't afford it, since I'm trying to take summer classes this year. I'm gonna work 8-4 and will chill with my friends otherwise. Prolly going somewhere cool with my buddy Art :) Might catch a movie or two with Kat. I dunno... I just hope it doesn't suck as much as last year (cuz I had toooo much work then).
Here's to another great free lunch @ the Busch dining hall with Michele! Thx girl :) Well you see, me and her have Physics lab together on Monday (we're lab partners) and since we always finish our lab before everyone else in the class, we leave early and she takes me lunchin' @ the dining hall. She's got a 50 meals per semester plan, and since she doesn't eat @ the dining hall everyday, rather than waste 50 unused meals, she feeds me :) I love free food! Hehe. Sure... it's not that expensive and I can probably get my own meal plan (actually, it IS kinda expensive), but the thing is, I don't get hungry during the normal dining hall hours. I am hungriest after 10pm in the night, and they close at 8pm. So it's pretty much useless for me. However, free lunches... aha... I'm ALWAYS hungry for them :) Ya ya, I'll prolly have to make it upto the girl some way or another. I know she loves Taco Bell, so let's see...Hehe...
Anyways, tonight some guy's gonna come to see my room and decide if he wants to move in or not. If he does, then I'll be sharing my room with him till May-end and it'll save me (and the other 9 people in our house) like $65 a month! However, it'll also mean I lose some of my privacy. But oh well... let's see how it goes...
I got a class @ 4:30pm, then going to my room. Will do some computer science homework, setup two websites, and if I have time, work on Chime Away! v2.0 :) Yup, there's a v2.0 coming soon, basically cuz everyone wants to cycle their own away messages. So ya, I'm gonna try my best to finish it asap. You know what I love about my life @ the moment? I'm not bored. There's always some work I can do (and hopefully it's something I like).
And if you're reading this Vishal... you rock dude! And I miss you and Chetan - the two best friends I will ever have. And if you're reading this dear Dad... u da bomb pops! And if you're reading this grandpa 'n ma... I love you... And if you're reading this mom and sis... you are the two loveliest women on the planet and I love you both... And if you're reading this Niki, Keval, Sneh, Sagar, Chris, Megan, Vicky, Mich., Kath, Art, Manzinder, Syed, Steph, Aript, Ritesh, Vu, Steve, Taylor and whomever else I forget, you have made a big difference in my life, even if in small gestures of friendship; you guys have certainly made my life worth living and it is because of you guys that I look forward to waking up everyday (and those stupid 10am classes). And if you're reading this Jackie... yes I know I just mutilated and slaughtered the good ol' English language, but you know what, you inspire me and you better keep writing. And if you're reading this Jenny... you already know how much you mean to me, and just to annoy you even more, I won't write explicitly why you're the coolest chica I know.
There! Now I sound just like a high-school girl on her sweet-sixteen birthday! Hehe... Ok class now - it's already 4:25!
I know only a handful of web designers read my 'blog and here's a link for them specially: Art and the Zen of Websites.
I just took The Art Test and it turns out that if I were a work of art, I would be Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night
|"I am a tiny village at peace while overhead rages the tumult of the heavens. Objects whirl and flash around me in a fevered haze only partially reflected in reality while I remain grounded and secure in my isolation."|
Finally I get some peace and quiet. Lemme begin with yesterday @ NYC. At 12 noon, we went to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The best thing I saw there was 'Tradional Gems of India from the Mughal Era." From there we took a nice walk through the beautiful Central Park to the American Museum of Natural History.After that we had dinner @ a small little place called Chilli's. And then came 'Aida'; my first Broadway musical. It was one of the most wonderful and moving experience I have ever had and to put the mega granduer of the show in words would be a crime. If you ever come to NYC, make it a point to spend a little money and see Aida. It is wonderful. And the The Palace Theater (where Aida is currently playing) is just sooooo beautiful.
But the bestest thing about the musical was that after the show I went upto the musical director and asked for her autograph. The lady was sooo nice that she gave my her autograph, talked to me for a few minutes, asked me about my college, music class and everything! I didn't know people in showbiz were actually nice! Well I have to write a paper for my music class and I'm sure gonna write about Aida.
After Aida came movie time! We rented two really silly movies: Road Trip and Legally Blonde, and watched them till 3 am. I woke up @ 7 am today (yes, 4 hours of sleep) and came back to New Jersey. Of course there were a lot of funny, silly, exciting, hilarious, stupid, interesting, and cool things that happened in NYC in the last 3 days, but then you'll have to come here and talk to me to know it all :)