Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ginger & She



She propped herself on the couch and thought hard. Ginger immediately followed her
and snuggled between her feet. She had tried everything that day to spark her memory.
She changed her posture, cooked dinner, gave Ginger a good bath, even tried to call her friend up (which was unusual). She let out a heavy sigh and gave up.

"Come on Ginger, dont be a sloth, get up!", she said pointedly to her pet. Ginger showed no signs of moving. Maybe I will just wash those dishes piled up in the kitchen sink, she thought. She dragged her Macbook and turned the volume up as she played her favorite Itunes playlist.

"I gotta feeling...that tonight's gonna be a good night.."

Ok, am I excited or what, she thought to herself as she looked at the pile of dishes.
On an impulse she went back to her Mac and updated her facebook status "Washing dishes like nobody's business". As if the status update was the most critical task at hand.

Ginger meowed lazily as she took the first dirty dish to wash. Just as she began wiping it dry, her alarm clock went up. Damn, she thought as she washed her hands under cold water. As she turned off her alarm, she couldn't help wonder what the time was on the other side of the world. "Wish I was in the East now, would have atleast passed the dreadful Monday morning meeting", she chuckled, forgetting her worries for a brief moment.

Ginger meowed again. "Stop it Ginger!", she yelled, distracted. Ginger looked up, startled for a second and then went back to half-asleep state. She headed back to her dishes. She loved making bubbles out of the dish washing liquid. Usually. But today wasn't all joy. She sighed as she did a half-hearted job of cleaning up. Atleast I can get rid of this vapid stench of the dishes, she grumbled under her breath. As she hurried, her left arm hit a precariously positioned glass tumbler that fell crashing on the floor.

"Oh nooooooooooooooo!", she cried out loud. "Darn it!", she yelled louder and suddenly burst out in tears. She was surprised at her emotional outburst as she picked up pieces of glass from the floor. Ginger came running to her. "Don't step on it, you idiot! Go back to sleep, goooooo now!", she ordered. Ginger backed off.

She probably needed some sleep herself, she decided. As she prepared to go to sleep, she turned off the lights and pulled up the blinds by the bed. It was a full moon night, she noticed. She had always dreamt of a bed by the window that would overlook the moon and stars at night. She shrugged now. As if that is going to help her remember anything right now. It didn't matter. She tossed on her bed and tried hard to shut her eyes and catch some rest. But her mind kept racing.

Ginger meowed again.

She tried to avoid Ginger's constant whimpering. When she could no longer take it, she threw her sheets to the side and dashed out of her bedroom in the dark. She was so annoyed to the extent that she wanted to hurl something at Ginger when she saw her paw bleed. "Oh my god!", she let out a scream.

It took an hour to bandage and comfort the cat. The clock read 2 am. In 6 hours she would have to give the Sales pitch. Something she worried abt all day long, since she missed the critical piece. As she cupped her face in her hands and stared out at nothing in particular, Ginger limped onto the coffee table and curled herself up on the last week's Wall Street Journal.

"I ought to clean my apartment more often. This is getting disgusting..I never...", and then her train of thought stopped. Suddenly it all came to her mind. OMG, that was it! That was the thing she tried to remember. Last week, when she was reading thru WSJ, she had made note of the number on a piece of paper torn from the WSJ.
She had stuck it in her coat pocket and forgotten! She raced to her closet and pulled out the insides of the pocket. "YES!!!!", she gave out a triumphant cheer. She punched in the number and got what she wanted. "Oh Ginger Ginger Ginger...",she wailed, as thought it were a song. She then picked up her cat and victory danced to her bedroom..

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tales from the FIRST Robotics Competition



Well, a little background doesn't hurt before I dive into my last weekend activity.

FIRST stands for 'For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology', an organization founded by Dean Kamen (more popularly known as the inventor of Segway, although he has got tons of other far more accomplished inventions/patents. But I wont go there..go figure on Google!). And the name says it all abt their mission.

Anyway, so FIRST conducts a robotics competition called FRC held annually that is designed to inspire high school students to pursue engineering in the future. So what more exciting than getting a bunch of kids to put together a robot as a team and then have a robo competition! So I recently volunteered to mentor one of the teams that will participate in FRC in Jan 2011. And if I got to mentor I got to put it together myself before bossing them around right? LOL. Just kidding, its a collaborative effort of course and I will hardly be required until the robots start spinning around themselves instead of getting out of a maze. Haha. But the sheer energy in these kids puts me to shame! I sometimes wonder where all that passion vaporizes once we become adults. The raw passion and excitement to learn stuff and do stuff. I miss that! (I wont digress here, don't worry:))

So I had to attend a mandatory bootcamp for mentors as a prerequisite. Although I will admit it was mostly a dull day (also too far away in Brooklyn and too early for a Saturday - gosh I cant stop whining, can I?). As I said, adults are boring, kids are fun!:) All of us poured through the manuals and tried to figure out wiring of the control system (mostly a National Instruments compact RIO controller) and doing a smoke test before the robots hit the road. You know, adults are just so STUCK UP! (incl. me) LOL. I am more excited abt the team training camps where I will be assigned and dedicated to one single team of kids. So let's see.

Btw, checkout the awesome material on programming robots by the lead mentor at NYC FIRST.

PS: I happened to attend in person, Dean Kamen's speech on his next invention/mission (and that is to make clean drinking water accessible to everyone in the world). I was so blown away. There was a ~15sec applause from a spellbound audience after he finished speaking. Among other things, he spoke abt a black box he built (that works on bio fuel) that takes dirty water and purifies it. No electricity, no batteries required. What a genius!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just wondering..



So like all days, I walk into my apartment (that manages to look like a dump by Friday of every week), take off my shoes (with laces on!) and open the fridge. I glimpse (which also happens to be the name of a search tool at my workplace). Umm, lets see...aha! Got a killer quickie junk food to gobble up. Frozen pizza gets tossed into the toaster oven. If ever my toaster oven comes alive, it will come after me with a spade. Then I make a cup of tea which turns instantly cold once its off the stove. WTF!!! And these are one of the days when I curse my sans-microwave-life.

Then I log on and wonder. Yes, its a pretty addictive habit to wonder. This has been by far the most exhaustive work week this year and yet I managed to complete The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Legendary! I mean, off late, I get bored and simply skim through the many books I read. But this one, oh boy, got me hooked. But, dare I warn you, the initial pages are painful. I almost gave up. Like who wants to listen to pages and pages of Swedish politics. Crazy. But, I sailed through.

Anyways, I picked up Essays of Warren Buffett (wonder why?!). I mean its probably a good book for investors or anyone interested in learning from the guru himself. I am by no means that person. lol. But...again the but...I was simply intrigued. And it didn't scare me like all the other business books do. I remember getting a author signed book that was one fat pile about the Great Depression. Hmmm, I didnt read a page yet. It's lying on my bookshelf, gathering..you heard it..DUST!

So since I am still wondering and there are no signs of my fingers willing to budge away from the computer keys..I will continue writing. Oh btw, there is this strategy game called Triple Town on Amazon Kindle (and if you are a game junkie and are right now smirking at me for getting gung-ho abt a little game on a kindle, eff off!).

Great, now I am drinking frozen tea. What the hell. And these winds blowing and howling outside my apartment window. Stark raving mad. Its time to resurrect all the heavy winter coats I believe. Fall is gone. No more prancing around in a shirt and a tee. And lazy that I am I wont even moisturize my hands. Which means dry dry skin days ahead...

I wonder if I should watch a movie now. Everyone back home is probably enjoying the festivities (Dusshera) and the FOOD and all the movies and special programs on TV. Sigh. Its as though, USA doesn't have a life. Doesn't it? I wonder if I ever feel nostalgic about US when I return to India. My head says "No way, you won't!"

I also happened to watch the new Bollywood movie promo - Break ke Baad since I happen to follow Deepika Padukone on twitter (what?! why???). And I think I am TIRED of all these movies trying to depict that this generation is SO COOL...that they will actually have tons of partners and wont even realize they are in love with their childhood friend (YAWN) have niche jobs (sorry, did you forget half of us happen to be IT engineers?) and then they will have break-up parties (What the hell Love Aaj Kal!) and now in this promo I am supposed to believe that a girl will get drunk in a cinema hall and her boyfriend will carry her home. So that's how you become cool. BULLSHIT. This is making me THROW UP!

Btw read this interesting piece on Norwegian traders hacking through a trading system and manipulating the markets. And now sentenced to prison. Wondering...(just wondering..), what the hell, isn't that what the e-traders do every damn day? Use algorithmic platforms and learn trading patterns and rewrite those algorithmic platforms? LOL. Ok I am just wondering, since all the data up on that link is arguably vague and with zillions of regulatory laws and restrictions, I will quit judging. And anyway, who the hell cares what I think. Do you?

Just wondering.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Aaaaaaaaaaargh!



Yes, that's what happened to my seemingly peaceful start to a bright Sunday morning-afternoon. All I did was go to my building basement to collect my laundry and here's a sight that greets me.

I see a dude piling my clothes off the dryer.

I go stand beside and say:

"What are you doing?"

Dude: (Silent, continues to pile my clothes out)
Me (losing patience): "What the FUCK you think you are doing?"
Dude: "I need a dryer."
Me: "So you think its cool to pile my clothes on the floor like its garbage?"
Dude: "Maybe you should come in time to take your clothes out then."

(In my defense, I was only 5 mins late. But of course i wasn't going to explain myself to him.)

Me: "Maybe you can haul up your ass early morning to use the laundry room then. How abt that?"

I use profanity very sparingly in public until its exasperatingly intolerable to talk to someone as retarded as this one.

Me (continuing): "..so why don't you bounce this idea off to people here in this room (by now an old Indian couple was looking at me like they couldn't believe it..I give a shit anyway)...We all will line up here and stand with a timer and pull the clothes off the dryer as soon as it beeps. Jerks like you, totally make my day. Next time you drag someone's clothes, make sure it's not mine, because you don't want to mess with me."

By this time, the dude was looking at me like deer in headlights. He probably didn't expect a good looking girl like me (I am quite a looker even if its an old lavendar t-shirt and pajamas. Yes, lavendar is my color) mouth profanities at him without as much as a pause. With that I stormed out of the facility.

What a turn off! I hope the guy finds bed bugs in his apartment today, thousands of them. MORON.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Book review: Sh*t my dad says



After a long time, a light and a refreshing read! This is a book that came together as a result of Justin's (author) hugely popular twitter feed. Also, for me it reminded me so much of my own dad.

Good things:
- Honest, real and witty
- There's nothing up there that you haven't heard. It's just a collection of Justin's dad's everyday ramblings and I am a sucker for anything humorous and real.
- I liked how it was organized into chapters with titles that made sense and resonated with the rest of the chapter (how many times did you read a book that had mindless sensational chapter titles?)
- Short read! Yes. Thats a huge for me. I am happy this author didn't find the need to make it a 500 page epic. That would have stole the thunder of this book.
- The book is now also a CBS TV show. FTW, I think.

Some of my fave quotes:

Father to son on yard work:
“What are you doing with that rake?…No, that is not raking…. What? Different styles of raking? No, there’s one style, and then there’s bullshit. Guess which one you're doing.”

Father on seeing his son's bloody nose:
“What happened? Did somebody punch you in the face?!…The what? The air is dry? Do me a favor and tell people you got punched in the face.”

Father to son on importance of watching evening news (ah! this is so much like what my dad would have told):
“Let’s finish talking in a bit, the news is on…. Well, if you have tuberculosis, it’s not going to get any worse in the next thirty minutes.”

(And this one's classic..)
Father to son on asking to have the candy passed to him during Schindler's List:
“What do you want—the candy? They’re throwing people in the f**king gas chamber, and you want a Skittles?”