Friday, March 31, 2006

Down with the sickness!

When I returned from playing table tennis this past Wednesday, something didn't feel right. I had a runny nose that made breathing a tad difficult. I didn't think much of it, as I am wont to ignoring minor ailments, and proceeded to work for another hour before heading to the gym. Wednesday night's workout was intense (I'm still a little sore from it) and though cardio was fun, it served to weaken my system further, which was why I was delirious yesterda - I can't be blamed for falling for some TRAPs that were laid in my path !

Fast forward to last evening... My squash match with Sarat lasted four games that were played out over 70 minutes. The fourth game dragged on for approximately 25 minutes and at the end, I was totally spent. We had an audience of maybe 8 people watching the last game, and I know they were a little shocked when they heard both Sarat and I cuss on the court between points. To say that my system was drained would be an understatement.

The steam room provided some reprieve from the soreness, as did the ice pack. A measure of how sore I was is that my abs hurt everytime I coughed or laughed too hard - ayyp! By the time I was done watching Smallville though, I was rehydrated and relaxed but my throat felt like someone had scraped its innards with sand paper. In such circumstances, I resort to this tonic that I got myself from India (Linctus Codine) that works like magic on a sore throat. Of course, it knocks me out cold but it works okay! I slept like a baby, much like that time when Matt gave me 2 tablets of Benadryl in Pune to help me get over my allergies :))

I have a long day at work today and one last squash match for this week later tonight. Tomorrow is Sid's birthday cum farwell party and I've been asked to do the music for it. It has been a while since I did something like that so I'm excited and nervous. On second thoughts though, it's only playing hip-hop and hindi stuff; that's never difficult!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

We need to interrupt regular programming for this important message

I am frigging sore today. Ohh, my knees hurt, my ankles hurt, I can't keep my eyes open and my muscles hurt. The show must go on...

It's only Wednesday...

The Windows Security Team went skiing today to the Summit at Snoqualmie. Being the idiot that I am, I was sick on Monday so I decided against going to the morale event. Instead, I foolishly convinced myself that I would get some work done while no one was around. WRONG!!! I closed just four bugs, kicked off an install and read some code, that's it - that's all I did all day. It's a shame! The highlight of my day was the sandwich I ate for lunch and the traps I avoided all day - how mundane.

To make up for lost time during the day, I stayed at work till a little after 8. Staying extra hours didn't ensure I made progress with the bug closing effort. I did cross off a lot of items on my list though, caught up with email and determined that open items would be done by their deadlines. The day might've been a bummer but if I do the right things, this week might turn into a good one after all.

Today was chest, biceps and triceps day in the weight room. What is more note-worthy than the weights is the fact that I played table tennis today - first time since last March. I'll say it - I sucked; my consistency was at 50% and I lost a lot of games. With that said, all is not lost and practice will help me find the sweet spot again. Back to the workout - after lifting weights, I endured the stair master for 20 minutes with chott face. Chott face is a major motivator for cardio; I'd quit halfway without her pushing me to actually finish the course. The course seems to zip by when I have company and I look forward to these cardio sessions with her. Did I say that she's hella cute?

I am about to have a very difficult talk with Nikhil, my younger brother. Honestly, I don't want to have do this; it is very difficult to be an older brother and not be preachy in times like this, especially now that we are both adults. For the moment though, he knows this is coming his way and he expects the lecture. Hopefully, I will be able to get past his defence mechanisms and convey the essence of my message. Trust me, this burden of responsibility is a heavy one to carry around and someday, I'd like to totally chill out and not worry about him. Amen to that!!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

You know Summer is around the corner

When you can play tennis outdoors for more than 10 minutes. I played at Grass Lawns Park for the first time in many months with Jaydeep. Clearly, he has the better game but I did run him around a bit today, which is a small victory for me. Today epitomizes a perfect day - get to work on time, do a day's worth of work, get out and play tennis, hang with friends, lift weights, watch great TV and finish up with a blog post. The burden to write something meaningful is off my shoulders. I'm officially allowed to now talk about nothing because that in itself makes me write about something!

My crazy cousin Vishaka is online and black-mailing me into going to sleep. She is right; if I slightly adjust my sleep cycle so I sleep a little earlier, I won't have any trouble being in time at work every morning. Eureka moment you'd think? No - I've known this forever. It's easier said than done I tell you. You gotta give me credit for having good intentions though - the alarm is set for 8am everyday. Waking up to it is a completely different story...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Is there such a thing as

... harmless flirting? It all started off with a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago and the thought hasn't quite left my mind. Actually it had, till tonight's episode of "The War at Home". So, can a relationship between a boy and a girl be a 100% platonic? Can flirting ever be innocent? And if it is innocent, when do you know that you've crossed over into the non-platonic, not-so-innocent zone?

I've realized that some interactions with girls are very basic, simple even. Watching a sporting event (that's all testesterone) is the perfect example of that. After a certain point though, it's inevitable for there to be feelings in one of the two parties, at least. Most successful relationships are between friends, no? Given the nature of such relationships, it's maybe just better to avoid forming new ones once you settle down. This might sound extreme but honestly, that's what it boils down to; resistance is futile.

All this leaves just one question - What about the friends I have had for all the years I was single?

Friday, March 24, 2006

To work we must go

But first, watch the season opener of 24, Day 2. Then get a few hours of shut eye after which I will wake up EARLY and finish up my testing work. Might cancel all my meetings though...

And oh yeah, I played a great squash match this evening. We played with a livelier ball which made the rallies longer than usual. The ball just wouldn't die so the four games took more than 70 minutes to finish. Did I mention the fact that I won? :)

Work has a funny way of hitting the pause button on everything else in my life. I'm reading only as much as I need to, I never watch the news but just listen to it while I do other things around my apartment and I let my life become one dimensional. Recognizing this is a great first step, all I have to do is balance things out. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were made jsut for this purpose...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

On a calm Thursday morning

Seattle has warmed up over the last week, especially since this past weekend which was sunny. I walked out of the Pro Club earlier this evening without a jacket and didn't feel cold at all. You could say that my body was warm from the work out but if the warmer you are, the colder you feel when there is a sudden change in temperature - no?

I am halfway though iCon - the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. The book is about Steve Jobs, his personality traits, the mistakes borne out of these personality traits and how only someone of his caliber and vision could reinvigorate Apple since his return to the helm in 1997. I've just reached the stage when he takes over as Interim CEO of Apple and the remainder of the book will be of most interest to me. Partly because I can relate to the computers, the announcements and the media frenzy that followed the 1997 Macworld keynote.

I started seriously using and reading about computers only around 1997, primarily because we didn't have the Internet back then in India. The only source of news for me was The Times of India slid under my door every morning, and my dad who'd write me long letters. At that point, I was enamoured with the Mac because that was the first computer I had ever used, the first computer that spoke out what I had typed in a dialog box. I still remember one of my favourite lines to type into the Reader program, "Nikhil Mehta is an idiot!" :) I digress...

A lot of work needs to be done over the next couple of days. My goal is to spend the bulk of the next two working days in adding test coverage for a new feature that we must sign-off on by Friday. I've got some items done but unless I take some drastic steps to increase my productivity during the day, I'll miss my deadline (which was already extended by a week). Keep your fingers crossed because this is going to be a close one...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

iPod Diagnostic Mode

iPod Diagnostic Mode: "The iPod's Diagnostic Mode
Quickly find out if you have a hardware problem"

I need to do this tonight. My iPod might already be, DEAD.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Silence is Broken Now

It's late on Monday night and though I have so much to say, I don't know what to type. The sun is out, the rain clouds have disappeared over the horizon and I have enough work to make me get out of bed every morning. Hopefully I'll get a chance to use the snowboard I bought from Chris before the ski season ends (I meannn, ski/snowboard season) and do more outdoor stuff this summer. Me wants to learn to roller-blade, play tennis and ride a bike this summer. Too lofty you think with my goal setting?

I was tired all of last week because I didn't get much sleep most nights. I've noticed that the amount I sleep is inveresely proportional to both my cravings for food and aversion to workout; so this insomnia is my nemesis, eh? I've been wanting to write something about my trip to Canada since my return but I've been plain lazy. There will most definitely be another trip though, so I'll get a chance to write some more about my Canadian adventures. I will say that them Canucks are way nicer than a large majority of Americans I have interacted with. And yes, 93.1 Red FM blew my mind away!

"I've felt this way before,
So insecure..."

I had an interesting email interaction over the weekend that left me thinking. I dwelled on my insecurities, on what I consider important and what I consider absolutely unacceptable traits in a future partner. What I came up with honestly surprised me. I'm not as inflexible as I was a couple of years ago; in fact, I'm more than willing to see someone else's point of view. I've gone from thinking life had absolutes to realizing that life is filled with gray. Your interpretation of events might be different from mine and might actually influence my future stance on a subject. Maybe I'm caving in because the rigours of life have taken their toll on me or this is just what growing old is all about - compromise. To be honest, I don't quite like this. Anyway, must end this discursive post and go to bed...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Moving on Up

Only my mood that is. Maybe the amount of time I'm spending at work too. I have got my email under control; happy days should be around the corner. Got my review done too, in record time. Now I must sleep.

Monday, March 13, 2006

This Monday any different?

The return from Vancouver late on Friday evening naturally lent itself to a good night's sleep into the early hours on Saturday. After a CSI marathon, I went to Don's for dinner and partied with the boys at Twilight. What started off as an almost cut program turned into an entertaining and fun experience, capped by Mr Marwah climbing up the parking garage fence outside Twilight.

Today has been a see-saw day. I started off tired from last evening's workout (which mind you, was the highlight of my day) and a lack of sleep. Meetings all day and the looming deadline of Mid Year Reviews weighed me down even further. You know how it is with procastrination - you delay till beyond the deadline but when you actually get down to the nitty-gritty, you wonder why you delayed in the first place. I'm still delaying so when I am finally done, I'll let you in on why I did delay :)

Meetings are usually done by 5 and after some work in the lab, I returned to my office and the dour mood prevailed for the next couple of hours. To look back, my entire theory of the weather bringing me down has been debunked. It has been sunny all weekend, with today being absolutely gorgeous. Ok, enough about this mood crap.

I channeled the negative energy towards getting stuff out of my way during the latter part of the evening. I'm caught up with email, made a list of things that need to be done over the next couple of days, start to understand AES and install the latest Vista builds on my machines. That's a good day's work, if you ask me. Now I'm ready to go home and my mood has definitely changed - I can't wait for tomorrow...

Friday, March 10, 2006

The H-1B Visa Renewal at Vancouver

... and it snows real darned hard here. I've never seen such snow fall in Seattle. there is an orange glow in the sky and the snow is coming down in sheets. It took a lot of skill to drive straight through the snow this morning in the mountains on the way to the US Consulate in Vancouver. No skidding, no sliding, just straight line driving. And my car is a Rear Wheel Drive. I made the 150 mile journey in 3 hours, including the stop at the border and losing my way once. I have to lose my way once before I arrive at a place for the first time. After the U-turns and going the wrong way, I form images in my head that help me get to the destination every other time I have to.

The visa renewal process was more procedure and annoyance and less 1:1 time with an INS officer. I reached the consulate at 10:30 and got out around 12:30. My interview lasted all of 75 seconds. Along the way, the lady at the cash counter returned my passport to me after I had paid the $100 consulate/visa fee, I had to run down a couple of times to renew the parking meter, had to get new photographs clicked, etc. Here is a list of things you should bear in mind regarding the renewal process at Vancouver:

1. Fill the DS-156 form online. When printed after all information has been submitted, the form is 3 pages long and has barcodes
2. Most important documents:
a. Passport
b. Completed DS-156
c. Completed DS-157
d. Most recent PAY STUBS
e. One bank statement
f. Letter of employment (first document in your H-1B visa packet)
3. Money requirements:
a. $100 in CASH - this is the visa fee
b. $50 reciprocity fee if you're an Indian citizen
4. No bags of any kind are allowed in the consulate. Carry your papers in envelopes or folders in your bare hands
5. No closed envelopes
6. No electronics of any sort (Laptop, Cell phone)
7. Parking in downtwon Vancouver is $1 for 15 minutes. You'll need 2 hours at most in the consulate
8. Your newly stamped visa won't be returned till the next afternoon at 3pm. Make plans to stay overnight
9. Try to get into the consulate as soon as you can, even if it is earlier than your designated appointment time
10. The passport photograph requirements are pretty stringent. A photo not 200mm x 200mm will be rejected. Costco is by far the cheapest and quickest place to get your photographs taken - 2 photos for $5. You need just one photograph for the visa.

Finally, don't sweat it. Unless you do something egregious, they'll issue an H-1B to you. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

East is East once you know where West is

I'm in downtown Seattle waiting for my passport to have a new visa stamp, a Canadian visa stamp! While asking for directions to the nearest coffee shop, I had an epiphany of sorts that will help me determine North from South, East from West whilst downtown. West points towards the water (Puget Sound) - aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! And who taught me this - the lady in the Canadian Consular office. She so cracked up while giving me directions when I said, "You know... I'm Indian. Do you think I can tell East from West?"

There is nothing more humorous than shameless self deprecation...

While I'm talking about the Canadian consulate I must say, the receptionist is amiable, jovial and attractive. I was pulling her leg within 2 minutes ;)

Must Get Canadian Visa

I hate my immigrant worker status. HATE it! Get Canadian visa, then get H-1B stamp renewed. But first, fill up silly forms, in duplicate.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Aborted attempts at posting

I've been wanting to write about so many things since I posted last Tuesday but just haven't found the motivation to actually type anything. I've had a great time since I last wrote something, played great squash matches, partied over the weekend and watched a few great shows on TV. The one department I haven't made progress in is reading over the past few days but I'm beginning to catch up!

I just got one of my favourite movies of all time on my Media Centre - Pulp Fiction. You can imagine what I've been watching as I do chores around the apartment or just hang out typing stuff on the computer. I've been wanting to write about the Mac for the past couple of days; nothing positive this time around though. I feel that the Mac OS has got a free ride when it comes to user security since it was first introduced by Apple. The growing popularity of the platform and the move to Intel has created a problem for Apple; the security of its vaunted OS is under the microscope and if initial reports are anything to go by, it isn't standing up to the scrutiny. I can't wait for more security holes to be found in the product. Praise the person who thought of investing in static code analysis tools and insist that they be run on the Windows sources. All the investments in maintaining a high quality bar of the Windows sources will pay off, I knows it!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Tuesday, marginally better than Monday

The last time I typed, I ended saying that things could only get better. If today is proof enough, I have psychic powers! I didn't get much sleep last night but other than that, everything went well. I found a few bugs to file, found bugs that I might be interested in investigating, played a great squash match (my movements on court are more fluid than when I first started out in December) and am generally a little more cheerful. Exult 'o shores, and ring 'o bells...

G thinks my blog is intriguing. Aah, just the right segue into something I've started doing - shortening people's names. Kelly is Kel, Angie is G, Ambur is Ambi, Karan is Gog, Rohita is Ro, Jacqueline is Jack, Nathan is nide - I'm influenced by The Family Guy, which is why I didn't stop mentioning the names till I was annoyed!! Been watching the BBC News while typing and it's good to see the Mardi Gras parade return to New Orleans. The human spirit is indefatigable.

On to Wednesday now...