New - Music & PeopleWed, 31st May '06, 10:45 pm::
Yesterday evening my new friend Teresa came over to chill with me. She introduced me to Violent Femmes. Been a while since I found a new band that I liked. I'm very apprehensive about listening to new music. I don't know why but I don't like it when people burn CD's for me and tell me to listen to them. It's not any odd music though. It's complete works of a particular singer/band. Now I feel like I have to sit through every song some guy ever sang and pick out the ones I might like. Since I don't really care how great the band is and am only interested in particular songs, I have to listen to 14 crappy ones to get to the two good songs. Only rarely do I find bands like Cake that have a lot of good songs that I like. From the last few songs I've heard, VF appears to be the same. One distinction here is mixed CD's. Since mixed CD's mostly have tons of songs by different artists, if I don't like someone's voice, I still have 9 other songs to pick from :)
Unlike new music, I am very open to meet new people. Be it coworkers, friends-of-friends, or people I've been talking to online, meeting someone you've never met before can range from a dull boring chore to thrilling experience. The thrill to me lies not only in how exciting the person is by themselves, but also how unexpected their being there is. Most of the times, you already know the kinda person you will meet in a given situation. If I go to association meetings from work, I already know that I'll probably meet people who're into X/Y/Z. And then someone stands out from it all, a peculiarly unique person with different way of looking at things. You didn't expect this guy or girl to come up with such a non-traditional way to look at the mundane, like the economist from Freakonomics. Otherwise, I already know 53 girls who like to "have fun" and want to "have a good time!" *choke* So once in a while, it's refreshing to meet new people with more personality than a sheet of paper.
I don't remember the last time I finished a book in one sitting; I usually get distracted. Freakonomics held my constant attention, maybe because it was logic, math, and economics instead of fiction or lessons.
I cleaned up my house after a long time and am just relaxing now. I should pick up an old philosophy book I have lying around...
Yesterday evening with Lanie was absolutely awesome. We went down to Gulfport and walked around for hours. I had pasta cooked in white wine! We drew colorful designs with chalk on the sidewalk just like the tens of kids with their parents. Of course, we had a "few" spirits during the course of the evening (Bailey's, some sorta white wine, Tequila, Goldschlager, and best of all Frozen Pina Colada with Attitude & Jello shots). Later we went to see X-Men 3 - The Last Stand. The movie kicked ass and I liked it so much, I went to see it today with my friend Brian from work.
Anyways, I'm just sitting here relaxing. Don't have any plans this weekend other than reading a book my boss gave me: Freakonomics. I've heard about it so many times online that I am totally excited to finally read it.
Mama Cass makes an appearanceWed, 24th May '06, 11:15 pm::
Since I don't have any form of commenting on my 'blog, I get a good number of emails each week, many anonymous. Most of them write for/against about my 'blog entries. Yet every once in a while, I get something interesting. Presenting tonight's chilling poem sent to me by someone with an evidently eerie sense of humor and a wanton disconnect with restraint:
"You look better when you're wet.
Body bloated by water, floating out to sea.
Fish food, sleeping under worms, rotting in into the sun..." - Mama Cass
Mama Cass was a famous blues singer and I'm pretty sure she's not back from the grave emailing me. Interesting pseudonym nevertheless. Creepy as it sounds, I like the flow of words. From lifeless to neverending, from eventuality to oblivion. A mere handful of words convey the message of balance, of settlement, and of the final dissipation of everything we were and are into the primodial soup whence we came from. Beautiful.
And here's the few pics I took during my little weekend getaway. Stupid rechargeable batteries wimped out before I could take any more pics.
Megan's Wedding in PhillyMon, 22nd May '06, 12:20 am::
Just got back from my friend Megan's wedding in Pennsylvania! CONGRATS MEGS AND CHRIS!!!!! Such an eventful and packed weekend that I am still not over the excitement. First of all, this was my first time ever seeing Megan in person and yet we felt like we'd been friends forever. Well, technically we have; known her online via Fark.com for over five years now. Chris turned out to be even cooler and much more fun than I thought. I mean I didn't know much about him to expect anything. I kept thinking he reminded me very strongly of someone famous and then it hit me... Abhishek Bachchan - famous Indian actor. I mean it's weird to be reminded of movie stars when you meet real people but the resemblance, especially the walk and body language, was uncanny. Megan was definitely the life of the entire party... laughing and dancing every other minute.
The party for me started at the Tampa Airport on Friday afternoon. Having gone to work early on Friday and leaving early, I was already tired by the time I passed through the dreadded airport security. I sit down at this Mexican food place and ask the waiter for the biggest margarita and the biggest bowl of nachos they have. Next thing I know I'm in Philadelphia. I freshened up at my hotel (which did NOT look as polished as the picture makes it out to be) and decided to take a walk around Center City, Philadelphia. I took a few pictures and just kept noticing the little unique identity marks of the city. I noticed rows of houses sharing common walls, kinda like San Fran, but with buckets of flowers hanging from the front windows.
At 9:30pm, I finally got to meet Megan! First time I see her in person and she's looking gorgeous in a bridal dress. It's kinda cooler than meeting someone at Walmart. Also met her friend Wade & Lisa, and of course, the groom Chris. We had wine and vodka, talked for a few hours, and parted ways. Next morning, i.e. Saturday, I had some continental breakfast, Meg/Chris picked me up, and we drove to Chris' Aunt Kathy's house in the middle of the beautiful rolling hills of Pennsylvania Country. Quite possibly one of the most beautiful landscaping I've ever seen in my life with waterfall, and all sorts of trees and plants, which of course is easily explained by the fact that Chris' uncle, Tom, runs a landscaping business. Oh and their neighbors had ostriches. Yes, OSTRICHES!
I met their families as they slowly arrived and we started setting up the tables under the big (30ft x 60ft) tent in the backyard. Good thing everything was pretty much setup by the time we got there and all we had to do was put up the lights and set up the bar. Gee, I wonder who took it upon himself to make sure the bar was setup right :-P Around 4pm, the guests started pouring in. The most relaxing aspect of this party was the attire - casual - jeans 'n shirt! It was more like a big bar-b-que party than some formal wedding occasion. As the sun set, it started getting cold, and Tom got his son Luke to build a HUGE campfire. I think the fire lasted from 8pm to 3am! And I made sure it kept me warm - I mean I've so gotten used to the warm Florida weather now...
As the evening progressed, most of the older guests left, leaving us kids behind. The music was on, the fire was warm, and the drinksa' floweth. I made my special California Sunset mixed drink for Chris and got two more orders for it. As I tell everyone, I'm a computer guy by mind but a bartender by heart. Around midnight, we setup our tents under the big tent - to keep us warm and protected from the harsh winds. Oh yeah, I took a tent on the plane! It was hilarious because the airport people kept looking at me funny when they saw I'm getting on a plane so I can camp out.
Sunday morning was the familiar post-party lazy-wake up chore. Got up, folded my tent, and showed all my mad sleeping-bag folding trickzzz to Megan & Chris. We had some pancakes for breakfast, packed up our stuff, said good-bye to the twenty new people I met, and drove to Chris' grandfather's house. And that is where I think I saw the most memorable country-side - in the little town of Embreeville Mill near the historic Brandywine River. I don't know much about American history but from what I learnt, every other house in this area was built sometime in 1700's and Chris' ancestors owned acres and acres of land. They were one of the first few canners in the country - canned the mushrooms that rural Pennsylvania is so famous for. It kinda reminds me of my ancestors in India because my grandparents and their parents grew up in the same family house in the village that their parents did. It doesn't matter where in the world you were three hundred years ago, life wasn't too different.
As I walked around Chris' grandpa's house, I noticed the exterior walls were TWO FEET THICK! Chris' dad (harbor-master of Longboat Key Marina in Sarasota, FL and the only other Floridian) said it took four years to actually build this house sometime in 1770's. The construction was rock-solid and the design was rustic yet timeless. The cold-as-ice wine-cellar was probably my favorite part of the house. We saw wild goats right outside their front-door and I was told by everyone to NEVER mess with a male goat - as if that was on my list of 50-things I wanna do or something :)
One of the guests at the wedding was Richard Chalfont, a famous painter. I talked to him at the party and later learnt his gift to the newly-wed couple was a beautiful painting of houses previously owned by Chris' family. Pretty amazing stuff.
After about an hour or so, we left to drop me off at a nearby train-station so I could get to the airport on time. Neat thing how the Philly airport is so well-connected to the local trains. Didn't have a problem at all. But man... the good-bye to Meg & Chris was sad... I told them normally this is the moment I say "alright guys, see you next weekend..." or "give me a call if you wanna hang out sometime..." but I doubt that's possible. It's amazing how close I felt to them as friends, even though it was my first time seeing both of them. Anyways, my train arrived on time, I got to the airport on time, and landed at Tampa after two flights, almost on time. I won't say the return trip was uneventful because there were far too many annoying people, unbearable noises, and frustrating incidents for it to be uneventful. However, I'm home now, safe and sound, and more excited than ever to get back to work tomorrow after my mini-weekend-get-away-to-Philly.
I get to see Megan tomorrow in Philadelphia. I am soooo excited!
I had a kickass time with Taylor this weekend. We went to eat at random places, went to bars, played pool, went to Univ. of Florida campus, chilled all Saturday at a coffee place playing Scrabble, watched Greg the Bunny episodes for hours, drove around the city of Gainesville stopping at junk yards and antique places, and also did some brainstorming about computers and technology. The drive to Gainesville from St. Pete and back was gorgeous too. The weather's beautiful, and I-75 is actually nice for an Interstate Highway. Takes only about two hours each way.
When I got home, Tera jumped into my lap and rubbed her head all over my face and neck. Then Giga walked over from my livin room, put his head on my foot, and started purring. All in all a great weekend. And next weekend's gonna be amazingly fun too - going to visit my soon-to-be-married-friend Megan in Philly! Can't wait!
So far this year, I've been to India (for my sister's wedding), Houston - Texas, Plant City - Florida Strawberry Festival, kayaking in Fort De Soto, camping in Lake Okeechobee, and now Gainesville. On my plate for the upcoming months is Philadelphia - Pennsylvania, Raleigh - North Carolina, Savannah - Georgia, Chattanooga - Tennessee, and Seattle - Washington. Let's see which ones I get to actually visit.
I also want to drive down to beaches in South Florida. Only problem is that I don't know anyone down there. I guess it's time I made some new friends :)
I'm in Gainesville right now visiting Taylor. I think I'm going to get breakfast and then go out into the town soon.
Been a busy busy week. Working a lot, writing a lot of code. Glad to not be bored. The weather is beautiful so it keeps me smiling a lot.
Just got back from the St Pete/Tampa Fark Party at Derby Lane! Met a lot of cool people, including THE MAN: Drew Curtis himself! Drew's the guy who made Fark and still runs it. Here's a pic of both of us: Chirag & Drew (more pics). Met a couple of people my age and had some food later with them. It was Nathaniel, Melissa, Nathan, and Jasmine. They live about an hour or two away from my house so I don't know how often I can go up to chill with them. Seemed like a buncha cool people - both Daniel and Nathan are into computers too. Their poor girlfriends! Haha... Aynways, g'nite for now.
Happy B'day Arthur!!!!
#5 - "Not talk to anyone..." above means if you have to be by yourself for a week because of illness, accident etc. and not that you should stop talking because you're mad at the world. Also no talking means no face-to-face, no phone, no email, no online chats - absolutely no conversations with anyone else. I don't know if I can even do it. But I'd like to be able to.
Ten things every person should be ABLE to doThu, 4th May '06, 11:45 pm::
In my quest to better myself, I often keep trying to compare my skills with leaders and stalwarts in my own field as well as in fields that I am pretty much an amateur, or at best a hack. So while I wonder if my proficiency in computer security will ever get close to Bruce Schneier's or if I'll ever be able to cook Punjabi dishes like my mom, I frequently remind myself that being better at many different things is not the ultimate victory. Somethings you just have to be able to do in life, no matter how good or bad. So here's my list of...
Ten things every person should be ABLE to do:
- Memorize a poem by heart and recite it eloquently and with proper enunciation.
- Unclog the sink. Fix the telephone. Replace a flat-tire.
- Tell an adventurous story that keeps a bunch of kids thrilled for an entire evening.
- Nurse a kitten or puppy that hasn't weaned yet.
- Know the difference between there, their, and they're.
- Not talk to anyone for a week and still stay sane.
- Find your way around your house blind-folded.
- Locate your favorite constellation on a starry night.
- Dance when the moment is right.
- Stay awake for 72 hours without batting an eyelid when a loved one truly needs you.
I found a good electrician last month and finally this weekend, he came over to complete all the projects I had for him. Initially, he was going to charge $350 for just a few things, primarily a new circuit to power my computers, fixing of my backyard lights, and fixing my old water pump. During this past Saturday, Sunday, and tonight, he spent about 15-hours inside and outside my house, as it usually happens, fixing a lot more things than originally planned.
In the end, for a grand-total of $700 I got a new 4-point circuit with its own breaker to my PCs, a pump with pressure gauge, pressure tank, pressure cut-off switch and main switch connected to my underground well, two twin-halogen 90w motion-sensing lights in my backyard, 2-point outlet in the backyard to plug tools into, a lightening arrestor to protect the electric devices inside my house in case of a direct lightening hit, a fresh new ground/Earth line for the main circuit, and pretty much all the wires on the main board reattached. It just feels so "clean" now that my main computer is connected to a strong 20-amp line with decent grounding instead of multiple UPSs split from one tiny plug without ground.
Now that my roof and electric circuits are done, I can get the 4-point inspection my insurance company wants me to get - roof, electric, plumbing, heating/airconditioning. Hopefully there's not going to be any issues with the latter two. Cost of inspection is probably about $300. In these three months, I've spent about $5,000 to fix up the house. Of course, a house almost exactly similar to mine down the street is selling for $185,000 - I bought mine last year for less than $150,000. So it'll be worth every penny spent when it's time to sell. But till then, it makes for some tight financial planning.
I'm also thinking of getting a sprinkler system installed before my lawn is fixed up. It's much better to dig trenches and install the pipes on barren land. It all depends on how much money I can save up for these projects.