Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Why Ask a Question

<This day makes me think of the "What really grinds my gears" segment from Family Guy!>

... when you're not ready for the answer? People have an uncanny ability to ask questions that they expect will be answered to their satisfaction. These so called rhetorical questions are my favourites - the "Isn't this <fill blanks here>?" type. I'd like to release this public service message for the edification of such individuals and eventually, the betterment of mankind.

First up, rhetorical questions about some topics should just not be asked. If they are, the asker of such question should realize that there are two possible answers - Yes and No. Granted that there is at best a 10% chance that the answer might not be unexpected but the key is to be ready for both possibilities. And god forbid, if it is the asker's day to be shot down, it's time to just suck it up and take the hit.

24 Season 4

I am going to resist the temptation of watching this in a marathon session but instead enjoy an episode a day. If the reviews are anything to go by, Season 4 might be the best season of 24 available on DVD (24 fan-boys might complain that Season 1 is the sentimental favourite). Note that I explicitly say "available on DVD" - Season 5 tops 'em all.

What Really Grinds My Gears

Is to wake up on the day after a long weekend and be at work at 9:06 for a meeting that gets canceled last minute. Arghhhh!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Maybe it is time

For Monster Mix - IV

The Tide can change

I was having a very lackluster Friday. The fact that I was up till after 3 the night before had some part to play as did the number of hours I had put at work over the week. As is customary with a torrent of check-ins, I broke the build on Thursday night because of a change I made to a header file. In hindsight, I shouldn't have changed that file at all but oh well...

The towels are back in locker rooms at Microsoft so I decided to take a shower in an attempt to turn my day around. Caffeine had failed to buoy me up and this point, I needed to wake up and finish the last task on my plate. The shower would prepare me for the night of partying ahead of me so it didn't seem like a totally bad investment of my time.

The shower worked! I got back to my office and cranked out code to fix a long standing issue assigned to me. As I walked to my car at 8pm, the stride was back in my steps and I couldn't wait to party it up with Alex, Matt and Sid. What a night of frolic it was my countrymen...

We started with beers at Garage on Broadway, went to Linda's to toast Matt and Leslie (Patron Silver) , ate Pizza, drank coffee at Bauhaus, had drinks at Chapel, had some more beers at Capital Club and finished with burgers and milk-shakes at Dicks. We had it all - a lot of alcohol was consumed, we reminisced over times past, repeated the same stories multiple times, played drinking games and at least one of us was very heavily intoxicated by the end of it all. I realized that someone had to drive us all home so I stopped around 12:15 - smart move given that I drove everyone back home. I can't wait for the next time us four are re-united. I'd like to be the drunk one for once...

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Quick Recap

I'd say this week was eventful without being stressful. I have played two great squash matches, lifted weights twice, written code for the first time in months (and broken the build) and hung with friends. All these are ingredients for a happy existence, and happy I have been (for once cause results in effect). The highlight of this week has been meeting Alex, who I am seeing after two years. We got a chance to catch up on what has been going on in the time we hadn't met and he described his Computer Science theory paper on Paging and the effectiveness of LRU.

The plan for the weekend is to entertain Alex before he returns back to Germany tomorrow evening. I don't think he'd like to spend time in Seattle couped up in a movie hall but if he were up for it, I would like him to see X-Men: The Last Stand. Here's a link to a balanced review of the film :review:. We saw the movie last night (at Lincoln Square Mall) and I really liked it. The movie was fast paced and both my favourite X-men had prominent roles in the plot - Jean Grey and Wolverine. Storm wasn't as annoying in this installment (she was terrible in X-2) so for once, I actually liked Halle Berry. I'm going to watch this flick at least three or four times at the cinemas (once at Cinerama for sure). What is my recommendation then? Go watch it; I'd give it ***1/2 stars out of 4. Hold up though, if you are a die hard X-Men fan (have read the comics, etc), don't belabour the story changes while watching the movie because you don't want to miss out on the fun as you criticize the story writers for the changes. Hey, Stan Lee is on the advisory board of the movie so if he thought the changes were ok, you should sit back and enjoy too!

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

An easy May Monday

I had a lot on my mind as I drove in to work this morning but the 10am meeting almost put me to sleep. A cup of coffee and driving our team's meeting at 11 reinvigorated me, at least till it was time for lunch! That meal sustained me through the first day in many months that I actually did something at work - the jury is out on whether I accomplished anything but that's orthogonal. Having the liberty to look at code, modify it and find hidden issues was motivation enough to keep me at work till I had to leave for my squash match at 8pm. I'll restate the emotion - it was a total rush.

The need for new squash shoes is dire. I might make a trip to the Adidas store downtown sometime this week to get me a new pair - my tennis shoes are just not cutting it anymore :) After 7 games of hectic squash with Robbie, I couldn't even think of lifting weights. Tomorrow has gotta be chest day now and hopefully I'll squeeze in 20 minutes of cardio (cardio - boring). Alex is in town till the end of the week so I will definitely be downtown tomorrow night to catch up with him over a drink. There might be potential to make this a social event!

Monday, May 22, 2006

A Weekend Sans Alcohol

I'll rephrase that - a weekend without shameless alcohol consumption. I had a solitary Long Island on Friday night that hit me quick and gave me just the right buzz for the rest of the night. I was DD for the night so there was no point in indulging myself anymore. The no-alcohol wasn't the only first this weekend. Saturday was a picture perfect day - the sun was out in force and a balmy breeze blew wherever I went. And I went places...

I was invited to spend Saturday evening at Cia's grandparent's house. True to form, I got lost on my way there because of bad directions. When I got there though, it was so worth the drive and getting lost. The simple exterior of the house belied what was inside - a quaint and eclectic collection of goodies from all over the world. The gold plated Buddha statue smack in the pathway to the living room caught my attention as I walked in but that was just one of the myriad items that caught my gaze. Art, trinkets, arcade games, rare wines - you name it and that house had it; a true collector's paradise. One look and you'd think everything was strewn around the place but to a more observant eye, there seemed to be a method behind the madness. I felt like a 5 year old in a museum...

We popped open a bottle of what I consider the best sparkling white wine I have had before we sat out to enjoy the sounds of the lake lapping against the marina in the sunshine. An hour passed by in a hurry as we caught up; we had to go our own ways for dinner, which to be honest had me bummed. I wanted to spend more time by the water but can you blame me?

The drive to Puyallup is worth it for just one thing - the opportunity to chat on the phone (like I need more phone talk time). The three kiddies had ganged up and conned me into driving all the way to hang with them and eat home-cooked food. As payback, they'd wash my car, which seemed like a reasonable exchange.

We added a new activity to our short list - basketball. I got my first lesson in the ways of the game but I suck at it so much that it's going to take a herculean effort on my part to become decent at this sport. It's nothing like I have played before so I'm starting from scratch. Contrast that with football, which I also started playing only this year - the MO in football is throw-catch-run, something that I have been doing since I could walk.

We ate, washed my car and headed to a nearby park to get in a game of 2 on 2 football. The two boys are really competitive and after Junior and I pummeled them the last time we played, they were raring for a rematch. They lost again; Junior and I handed them a humiliating 6-2 defeat. And yeah their touchdowns were definitely tainted.

Something has to fill the void left by lack of partying - in this particular case, we had to make do with milk-shakes and dvds. A History of Violence had its moments - all the fight sequences ended up with someone being killed (awesemo) but the movie lacked pace. I felt like I was on a bad roller-coaster ride - the thrills were few and too far between to keep me engrossed. Ball and Chain on the other hand was a complete disaster. Even Lisa Ray's presence couldn't redeem the movie - 'nuff said. And yeah Lisa, what's with those gross pads?

What's a week in Seattle without randomly shifting weather patterns? It rained for the most part on Sunday so I couldn't do anything outdoors. The drive back from Puyallup was fun though because of all the hydroplaning and rally style driving. I got home, ate and passed out till I received a phone call, which only served as my wake-up call (cuz precious nothing was said). I ended up watching CSI for a bit and picked up "The Kite Runner" again. So engrossing it was that I was out like a light three pages into the book. A Must Read I tell you, especially for those with insomnia issues - this book will cure your sleeping problems! :) Have a good week...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Inappropriate Cell Phone Usage

For the period 02 April 2006 to 01 May 2006 - 5167 minutes.

Shit, my brain is getting fried!

Friday, May 19, 2006

What The Doctor Orders

... is more days like today. It has been a while since I was at work after midnight and oddly enough, I don't grudge being here at all. The Captain's log for the day reveals that I got a lot done - I closed all bugs assigned to me, I attended meetings and participated, I am self hosting Vista and am doing a small part of what I can do to make the product better. This is a starting point, a first baby step of sorts towards gaining lost productivity and making my mark.

Keeping a log of what I am doing in the day might prove to be a small change that has a huge impact on how I do my job. In my quest to become a better people manager, I have paid less attention to my technical pursuits. It is time to pick these up again and delve deeper into the parts of the system that stoke my intellect. The first order of business is to review some randomization code, resolve all the bugs assigned to me and talk to my mentor about the next baby step...

Two of my closest friends aren't going to be in town this weekend. There are some parties lined up for the weekend but between squash, tennis, working out and catching up with work, am I going to have time to party it up? This has been a month of long nights out which have taken their toll on my body - I sure as hell would appreciate a weekend sans inappropriate partying! Maybe it's time for either a CSI or 24 marathon :))

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The New York Adventure - Day 1

Friday morning is literally a blur. The only things I remember having done that added any value were waking up, packing and sending off the SP2 sign-off email. Before I knew it, the clock had struck 1 and John was driving me to the airport. I had no expectations from the flight experience - it was Delta after all, so I anticipated a rough ride and no food. When I walked in and saw the insignia for Song, I started experiencing a rare emotion - optimism. When the individual TV screen in front of my seat (and over my tray table) actually worked, my spirits soared. Here was a domestic flight that actually cared about entertaining its passengers. Go Song, GO!

TV or no TV, a near six hour flight is too much to handle for someone like me. Given that I can't sit still for too long after a cup of coffee, I thought I did pretty well on the plane. I hardly conversed with anyone, watched a lot of TV, created myself a 100 song playlist and tried to get some shut eye in preparation for a sleepless weekend. I have been on the phone a lot, till very late at night these past couple weeks but I usually make up for lost sleep over the weekend. Given that I'm not going to sleep much over the next three nights, Monday is most likely going tobe a wash.

My first impression of JFK airport was that it, like the city, was in much need of some attention. The place is filthy, the air-conditioning is almost busted and most of the equipment begs for retirement. JFK is a far cry from the renovated and very swanky SeaTac airport; people gotta stop complaining about Seattle's airport me thinks. I walked in to the bathroom, put on a new pair of clothes (we were gonna go out partying straight from the airport) and awaited Vishal's arrival.

My first destination was Vishal's apartment in midtown Manhattan. I knew he lived in a studio but I wouldn't have guessed how compact his place was till I actually set foot in and looked around. Living in Manhattan teaches you to optimize - everything is limited and everyone is on a tight budget. I didn't realize how tight space was though and how expensive a small piece of Manhattan real estate would actually cost till now.

Vishal and I have been friends since my first semester at RPI. Even though we hardly speak to each other, we have a connection that can now be broken only if either of us is immensely stupid (which only he is capable of being ;)) I am fortunate to have friends like him, low maintenance and very accommodating. Back to my story; this was the first time I was going to live in Manhattan (I've lived in Queens and Brooklyn in the past), which is why it took me a while to get used to not having to factor in commute times in our plans. It took us five minutes to walk to Tao that night (hallelujah), which was good because we left Vishal's place only around 11:30pm.

Gunda and co were at Tao, a restaurant cum lounge on 58th st. By all accounts, this was the place to eat at in Midtown. The lines are long and you have to reserve weeks in advance in order to get a table. Tao's decor was elaborate but not over the top - the ceiling was replete with Chinese scrolls and a huge Buddha statue occupied the far wall (similar to the Buddha Bar in Paris) with bright lights focused on it. The lights created a halo effect as they were reflected off the statue and diffused through the room, which added a funky touch to the overall ambiance of the place. The music was upbeat, loud and very techno, just the kind that would go with a place like this. When we got there, the dinner crowd was giving way to the younger and hipper lounge crowd.

Much to my surprise, Ragz and her crew wanted to go home and rest! It was Friday night, we were in midtown Manhattan and people wanted to go home and sleep? Of course, I couldn't fathom this but to each his own, correct? Gundapps had his suitcase with him, which we wheeled back to Vish's and we hit Branch, a club just outside Vishal's apt. I want to live in the city now, any real city (Redmond is a village). Just the convenience of stepping outside my apartment and having a deli, a club, bars, grocery stores within walking distance is a refreshing change. Branch was like a Chupp convention, the drinks at the neighbourhood bar were too watered down (the OJ was bitter) and the only pizza worth eating was the Plain Cheese variety. But we didn't have to go more than a few blocks from Vish's place to be entertained. All my bitching aside, I miss the city - we were out at 5am and the place was abuzz with activity. There was traffic, blaring horns, cabs everywhere and people were out having fun. The scene was like nothing I have experienced in any other city I have visited, Bombay included.

We got home and the other two just passed out even though Wedding Crashers played to completion. I couldn't sleep (surprise, surprise) so I called my friends on the West Coast. I must say, people's guards are way lowered at night so talking to them at late hours makes for interesting conversation. The end result though is always the same - one of you two passes out or you see the sun rising and it occurs to you, when the fuck when will I get some rest?!

Why Analyze?

Why do we have a tendency to analyze a situation that is going well for us? Why do we rock a boat that is steadily cutting through the waters? Some questions are just not worth answering because the answers doesn't buy us anything. If anything, the process of finding the answer causes so much upheaval that the end simply doesn't matter anymore.

I want to just be, to enjoy the moment and not think much of it. If this happy moment leads to another one, I'd have invested wisely. If it doesn't, I haven't lost anything because in this moment, I am happy. The uncertainty of the future isn't going to magically evaporate because I know something now I didn't know earlier.

This kind of perspicacity somehow comes only after I have pushed the envelope, wanted to know something that I really don't need to. With what I know now, have I overcome my doubts and have my questions been answered? No and No. So, I'm going to put this analyzing to a rest, just enjoy the treats that come my way and not attach meaning to them. Somehow, if there is supposed to be meaning, it will attach itself without my intervention.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Back in Sunny Seattle

But am dead tired and having a hard time keeping my eyes open. I have almost caught up with email and am going to head home. I am writing up a report on my time in NYC and promise to not blog about anything else till I have all the relevant stuff posted to this space.

Peace out!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

New York, New York

Yankees Stadium
The Empire State Building
Central Park
The Night Clubs
Gundapps. Ayesha, Vishal and Ragz

All of New York, here I come...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Everyone seems to be in a trough

People in general are going through a rough patch - some have too much work, some are emotionally distraught and others are physically not a 100%. What makes this baffling is that summer is almost here, the days haven't been better in 2006 and it should be a happy time. So much for the "good weather" theory...

There is a bright side to this all - the negativity (for want of a better word), though draining, is a phase that will pass and will eventually lead to positive thoughts and positive people. I'll do what I can to be a catalyst for this change but the key is that people must want a change in order for the process to begin. You'd think that people absolutely know that a change is necessary but you'd be wrong. I used to doubt the veracity of the statement, "Knowing that you have a problem solves 50% of the problem", but I am slowly becoming a believer. If you are reading this and aren't happy, find out what it is that is pulling you down; you'll feel better already.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Thinking Out Loud

I type this post With a small ice pack cooling my back down and Radiohead playing on my stereo. This is atypical, me being awake so late at night and blogging (especially on weekdays) but I can't seem to go back to sleep. There are myriad thoughts floating around in my head - most of them are simple flashes but the thoughts provoked by the conversation with Arun about work are making my head spin. What can I do to be as inspired at work as he is? I am not Arun so I can't be as involved in this release as he is but there has to be some thing that I can do that makes a difference...

Sarat is back in Seattle after being away (in Boston) for two weeks and the first order of business (after business hours) was to squeeze in a squash match. We played four games and clearly, the two weeks at home had taken their toll on him. I feel lighter on my feet and am covering the court much better - an unforeseen but welcome consequence of trying to finish the Ultrafit challenge. Here's another reason to actually see this challenge to completion. It helps that the nights that Arun bails on working out, I can call on Cia to be my workout buddy. I was ready to pass out after squash though so no cardio for me tonight but we did arms and legs so hey...

The newer episodes of 24 aren't as taut as the first 16 of this season but that is understandable because there is only so much action that can be packed into a season. This show is still hands down the most engrossing (and most intense) I have ever seen in my life and I see how the writers must be groping at straws now - what else can they cram into this season? They have killed an ex-President, the President has almost been taken down, nerve gas has been unleashed, a commercial plane has almost been taken down by an F-18, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. You feel like watching the show now or what?

I couldn't get tickets to watch Tool play this summer at the Paramount Theatre and am very bummed. The tickets sold out within 4 minutes of going on sale and I didn't make it in time :(. If you know anyone who has 2 extra tickets, please let me know. I'll give sleeping another shot now. Peace out!

Monday, May 08, 2006

To Tacoma We Shall Go

The weekend hadn't been going too well. The Cinco De Mayo festivities weren't worth writing about and I spent Saturday catching up on lost sleep. Later that night, after I was done singing Karaoke at Nir's birthday party, I headed to Twist. The place is huge, the music isn't very loud and people are conversing everywhere. I just wasn't in the zone, was a little sleepy and didn't drink any alcohol that night. As has become a ritual, we went to Broadway Grill for some food and more chit-chat. When I finally slept at 6am on Sunday morning, I considered Sunday to be a lost cause.

By noon on Sunday, I had spoken to my parents in Bombay, to Gundapps in Dallas and was walking towards my car to drive to Arash's place in Tacoma. Arash, Jyot and Puneet had called me earlier in the day and given me directions to their place. Puneet's car was stuck because she broke the garage door so I was to transport them around the area. Free taxi service anyone?!

The drive to Tacoma was a pain - it was raining, there was a lot of traffic and idiots were driving below the speed limit in the extreme left lane. Food arrived just as I got to my destination so I didn't complain much. Clearly, I was crabby because I hadn't eaten anything all morning so I got cheerier after the hearty meal. It did help some that the sun decided to show its face through the dispersing rain clouds.

We played two touch football, washed my car (it looks like new now), played a set of tennis (Marina and Puneet vs Arash and Manoj - the boys won emphatically) and did some crazy driving maneuvers before it was time for dinner. Okra is one of my favourites and it was on the menu with lentils and rotis - simple, indian fare but very satisfying nonetheless. We went to the beach for a short while after dinner and then I drove back home.

What I thought would be a washout turned into a memorable day. I really enjoy spending time with the kids because they are hella cool and I don't take offence to almost anything. I wanted to be around people yesterday and my wish was granted. To think my day started with the sad news that my grandfather expired, I didn't expect the day to end on the note that it did. Thanks kids, you made my day!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Typical Bombay Quotes

Chaar Aane ki Murgi
Barah Aane ka Masala

Lene ke dene pad gaye.

Hi Tanx.

Manoj's Uncertainty Principle

Uncertainty and Happiness both cannot co-exist in one individual.

Who am I kidding, I know nothing about coining laws on uncertainty. What I do know is that I am not an expert at dealing with uncertainty (or ambiguity for that matter). I like it when people state their opinions and express themselves so I know how to communicate with them. In Managing People at Microsoft, I learnt about various types of people and was told what kind of person I am - expressive, talkative and curious for context. There was a time when not knowing something drove me nuts but that has now passed - praise the lord!

It should be no secret then that once I am familiar with a person, I interact openly and state my mind without fear of jugment. This tendency is precisely why guarded people terrify me. If I can't get a read on a person, I don't know what their loyalties are, which makes it hard for me to trust them. In my opinion, there is a time for uncertainty, a time for not being straight-forward, a time for games. It is vital to recognize when it is time for some ol' fashioned honesty and to be honest at that appointed moment. Who knows, good things might come out after the clouds of uncertainty blow away and the sun shines through.

The days are getting busier

I have more to do at work and though a lot of it isn't coding related, it fills up the hours and keeps me busy. Soon, I will find something I actually excited me to the fullest extent but till that time, the status quo is acceptable.

The day started on an interesting note - I took the liberty of watching the end of Tuesday night's Veronica Mars episode because I woke up an hour too early (for my 10:30 meeting) this morning. The copious amount of food I had consumed last night needed some more time to be digested fully and the time spent on the couch watching the trial of Logan's dad unfold on screen was what the doctor ordered. I walked into WAR on time and though I didn't know this as I was driving, my day would be spent in meeting after meeting.

Natasha pinged me around 11:35 and suggested we catch up over lunch. We eventually ate at Chili's and here is an interesting fact - if you are vegetarian, there is only one entree that you can get at this chain of restaurants. This is utter bullshit if you ask me! I can't complain though since I ordered and devoured the Margarita Chicken entree - delicious it was. This is a new trend that started with dinner at Machiavelli's and hopefully, I will diversify my palette to include other meat. I am particularly interested in cultivating a taste for sea food...

Coffee while talking to Bambo and "The Friz" was highly entertaining, as were the next three hours of meetings that followed. It was the first time (and it was after 5pm) that I got to my office and stayed for more than ten minutes. I stayed till a little after 8 actually, at which point I couldn't take it anymore - it was time to stop slacking and start working out again. Arun and I started on the Ultrafit challenge today. Let's see how far we get before one of us quits.

The leftovers from last night's elaborate 4 course dinner were as tasty this evening as they were last night. It feels weird to eat all by myself, that's for sure.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

To Get Modied

You Get Modied when a lady friend walks up to you and shakes your hand, when she could very easily have hugged you. This term mocks the act of shaking hands, it doesn't celebrate it.

Thanks to the original Mody who was the motivation for the coining of this neologism.


Dude, you just got Modied!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Enough of this lazy existence

I used to be totally on top of things. Of late though, I have become remiss, relaxed and started letting things slip. I don't care about most of the things that I've calmed down about but I hate the fact that I don't take care of my car as much as I'd like to. This ends now, the buck stops in May.

Starting this month, I'm going to get my car in shape - get regular oil changes, get it detailed regularly (if I have to do it myself, so be it) and be a good car owner. This is the second resolution of May - the first is to try the Ultrafit challenge. This is achievable in my opinion though so I'll do it. If you know me well, you know that you'll have to keep tabs on me but hopefully, I'll get things done right!

God Damn Lower Back

I had to clear out my storage space last night because the space is no longer on my lease. There wasn't too much in there to begin with - a few boxes, a microwave oven, a couple of suitcases and one tall box with some old knick-knacks. I think it is time that I threw stuff away - I haven't even looked at all this stuff in the last three years so clearly, I mustn't need it, correct?

I start moving the boxes out and all is going well till I pick up the tall box. It wasn't really that heavy but as I put it down, I knew I had messed up my lower back. Now my lower back isn't the strongest part of my body - I injured it a few years ago while playing squash (without stretching) and it has been my achilles' heel (or back) since. I got through moving all the boxes into the apartment last night but have been in a great deal of pain since. Nothing has helped - icy hot, moov, ice, steam, bed rest all have reduced the soreness but haven't taken it away. I am going to have to wait this one out...

This is very demoralizing because I just started on this great workout program. Now, I'm going to have to ease into my workouts again, which will take an entire week. Maybe this is my body's way of telling me, "You are old Manoj, all this intense working out isn't for you!" I don't believe the old part so once I become okay, I'll be sure to add core strengthening exercises to my daily workouts. This won't happen again.