Monday, July 31, 2006

A Great Weekend Away

Compared to my trip to Vancouver last weekend, my weekend in San Francisco was a blockbuster smash! To be fair to the time in Canada, the trip had its memorable moments - the sight of the kid turn 180 degrees and hit the deck when the hose sprayed his face, Geda Geda being the first song that came on at the reception, the searing heat all weekend...

As I sat in the aircraft on Saturday morning, waiting for it to take-off for more than 2 hours, I almost gave up on the SF trip. The optimist that I am, I figured that things could've only gotten better - sure! I land in SF and turn my phone on - no service; turns out, no iMate fucking phone doesn't receive T-Mobile in San Francisco. My friends' Motorola, Nokia, etc phones just worked fine. So much for the $200 the phone would've cost me if I paid for it! Surd was a master mind on Saturday morning - he woke up when I called him after having landed. Vista wouldn't start up because wireless wouldn't work so I was all but ready to bore a hole in the wall. I resisted, bought myself coffee and a croissant and people-watched instead. The coffee was brilliant and the Chocolate Croissant was scrumptious. Surd showed up (finally), he ordered the Tomato Salad at lunch (which is this trip's unforgettable moment) and things started changing for the better.

The weather was gorgeous as we sat on the deck of Moma's overlooking AT&T Park, the site of many a Barry Bonds home-runs. The rest of the day is a blur of events mingling with one another, the warm weather being the only constant. Entering Madjool is when I felt like I was awake again. The people were just beginning to pack the place in, the DJ was starting to spin some tunes and the tables were being cleared to make way for the crazy dancing that ensued. I loved the place for the ambience, the three levels and the snooty people. We went to Lush around 1am to hang with some of Surd's friends; Nina was an extremely amiable person and an engaging conversationalist. Surd is a lucky guy to have a friend like her!

Wake up, make tea, call the world - a usual Sunday. Okay, I replaced calling the world with a great run by the Bay and brunch by the Bay Bridge. My mortal fear of running has dissipated and with Surd being in Seattle through the week, this running thing might recur regularly. Sitting out in the open and eating while watching cars whiz past on the Bay Bridge was calming and invigorating at the same time. This is a beautiful city, especially the areas by the water and the way the environs have been maintained is exemplary. A place like this in India wouldn't exist or thrive!

I finally saw real family today; that she brought me goodies from home was but a fringe benefit of our "rendezvous". Hanging with her and Kunal took me back home again and brought me a little closer to them both. Kunal has changed in the past year, he definitely is more docile than I remember him and Vishaka is visibly happier so them two must be settling down into a healthy, balanced relationship. Two hours didn't seem enough time but she had to get back to work and I had to head back to the city but this was a parting well made. "Till we meet again" I said to her as I drove off into the sunset. I blame all these prose-filled thoughts for what made me turn left on to the wrong side of the road.

The rest of the evening went by without incident. We ate great Sushi in the Mission district and watched Clerks after coming back home. I read about the Yankees acquiring Bobby Abreu and started typing this blog when I realized something. I needed to get out of Seattle to see that I had gotten myself into a rut. The timing of this weekend couldn't have been better and Surd couldn't have been a better host. I feel healed now, happier too and ready to take on the challenges that face me till my next break. Waking up and smelling the coffee tomorrow morning might be easier than it has the past couple months...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

June - Use your Cell Phone Month

Total Minutes - 5482

My left ear is gonna fall out sometime soon. Ironic that I am on the phone as I type this usage info. Enough talk, time to drive over the Bay Bridge now.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Nature of To Do Lists

Them To Do Lists get longer and longer by the day. I am going to try and knock off some of the items from the latest list but this ties in to a tendency of mine to procrastinate till the last moment. I delay doing something even if I have the resources to get it done because of either laziness or indifference till I can't delay any further. It's just a chance coincidence (or a divine conspiracy maybe) that the deadline to get all my stuff done is usually the same day.

I have to get the following done today:
- Work on the Full Test Pass
- Get a failed emissions report
- Go to Accurate Auto Body to get my car damage looked at
- Fax a copy of my I-797 to the immigration folks over in SF
- Get ready for SF tomorrow

Time to get off my ass and get cracking on this list. Late...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It's Going Down

anywhere you meet me guaranteed to go down

To say the last week was hectic would be saying it just right. I have become the owner of a component in Scott's absence that I have very little prior testing experience with. Every time a test breaks, I have to first understand the test code and ensure it has no bugs before diving into the production code. Review time is upon us so there is the added workload of ensuring the right things happen for my people. All of this is manageable when my social life is going through a lean patch. Nothing in my life can be described as lean these days...

Ishmeet has been in town, it's summer time, a large chunk of people I know (their mothers too maybe) were born between June and September and people have suddenly decided that there is no time like summer to tie the nuptials. So yeah, it's been hectic! Okay, I'll quit complaining because a wedding provided me with the excuse to go to Canada.

The only difficult leg of the drive to and from Vancouver is the 5 mile stretch on either side of the border. The lines can be serpentine and it is no surprise if you have to wait for around half an hour to get past the gates and march onward. I expected the worst - a car search, more stamps on my passport, a new I-94, etc, etc but was glad to be disappointed. I didn't need any new stamps, the border officers weren't even interested in seeing my face (hallelujah) and once we got to the patrol booth, we were done in maybe 2 minutes. Sometimes no action is the best kind of action!

The hottest weekend of the year was also the only weekend I spent without air-conditioning in a house that wasn't well ventilated. The coldest room in the house was in the basement and spending time there meant dealing with its dank environs and musty odor - I'll take those (and then some) over the 110 degree temperature without blinking an eyelid! The wedding parties - the ceremony, reception and pre-parties - were lavish but I didn't know too many people so they petered into boring events. The folks I did know were incommunicado because they were elbow deep in ensuring that every event went as planned. I am not faulting them at all, I'd do the same for my immediate family :)

Akash and I drove back after the reception on Saturday night and I slept through most of Sunday. The feeling of sleeping at home, in familiar territory is unparalleled and I reveled in it. Sufficiently rested, I actually wanted to come in on Monday but the bus ride delayed my eventual arrival. Meetings, some work, more meetings, a presentation, coffee break - the humdrum routine can be so satisfying.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Weekly Roundup returns

Sugar is surging through my veins right now! It has been a crazy week fa sho. All three days have been intense on the work front with new problems surfacing every day. It's a great feeling to have so much to get done though so I'm not complaining. In all of this action at work, I chaperoned Rash and Junior as they shopped, ate and chilled. That was just the first dose of a multi-part family-time prescription handed to me for the week. I head out to Vancouver tomorrow with Rash, Jyot, aKash and Mausaji for Noel's wedding. The first party is on Friday with the wedding on Saturday. I'm kinda nervous because I have never been to a wedding in America so I don't know what to pack and definitely don't know what to expect. Just some button down shirts and trousers should do the trick though, correct?

My nerves aside, I am excited about going up to Vancouver again though. I love that city, the environs, the mountains, and especially the party scene. The bummer is my phone won't have any service when I'm away - that's no phone for almost 4 days. This is going to be really fun. T-Mobile is going to be glad that I'm away ;) and fewer people will get "All Circuits are Busy".

Talk to you when I'm back!!


F*** Them VANS
F**k Sweet 16s
F*ck Pepsi
Fuck Wisdom People
Fuck 7s jeans for guys (get a penis already)
Fuck, Fuck, Mother Mother Fuck
Fuck whoever didn't drink Bacardi at the Triple Stuff Ridic pre-party!

Go i860! I'm outta here. Peace out.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

It's Sunday night already

Random thoughts occupy my mental bandwidth in entirety. iTunes has been set to Shuffle but I want to keep listening to a song my brother told me about. It goes like this:

I feel you,
in every vein,
in every beatin' of my heart,
each breath I take.

I feel you, anyway,
in every tear that I might shed,
in every word I've never said.
I feel you

I wonder if I am capable of loving another human like this. In the past, being totally in love with someone else has left me equally vulnerable and exhilarated. That we experience emotions, that we fall in love is a sign of our inherent imperfection. Being perfect is overrated, as is being intoxicated or high.

Actually, getting buzzed is an inexplicable delight. Liquid courage makes you do stupid things but for the most part, putting your inhibitions on hold for a few hours is liberating. Triple Stuff Ridic - Deux will be talked about for all its ups and downs, for the copious alcohol consumption and has officially put Spice on my list of places to party at. As for my part, I feel like I woke up a little crazy. I was going to celebrate the birthdays of my closest buddies in Seattle and that was reason enough to be excited all day. So much energy usually leads to a night of inapp ridicness.

Entourage is my new must-see TV show and I have two people to thank for this reason to smile - Juggy and Senior. Now that I am all caught up, I need to figure out a way to watch the new episodes every week. Hmm, after missing all the tennis action, the F-1 races, world cup games, etc. I am considering upgrading my cable plan to include some more channels. A la carte cable is a pipe dream that I can't wait any longer to come to fruition.

Last week was really hectic at work and I am excited to go back in tomorrow morning. The brownbag presentation on the 12th was well received (ok, it was a slam dunk), we got a lot of issues under control and I have done some research for work that I need to do over the next couple of days. Exciting time for me, hope you have a great week too. Oh yeah, good luck with the GMAT Gundapps - God Speed!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bombay rocked by serial bomb blasts, once again

There seems to be no abatement in the bombings taking place in different parts of India. I've reached a stage where I don't care who is creating unrest, I just want it to end! The story is all over the News; I can't go to a single website or walk more than a 100 feet without some mention of the carnage in my beloved hometown. True to form, government relief efforts were lethargic and lackadaisical at best. I wonder what the death toll would've been had local residents not stepped up to the plate.

No doubt, there are members of the administration involved in these attacks; the Indian government(if you can call it that) is diseased and infected to the point where personal gains outweigh public health and safety. You would think that the flood related loss to life and property during the Monsoon season of 2005 would result in infrastructural changes in the city. I know that a lot of money was "ear-marked" for such development because the press reported it. How can one then explain the victims of flooding during the 2006 monsoon season? Worst still, year on year, the same areas fell prey to the floods. Whose pockets is the money lining?

Is this The New India that everyone is agog over? If a description of the financial capital of The New India is replete with "IS NOT"s rather than "IS"s, what's does it portend for the future of The New India? For the sake of the country's growth, I hope that something changes for the better and galvanizes my people from their stupor. The pervasive indifference needs to be supplanted by a sense of entitlement and accountability so that the sections of our society that violate every law of the land can be brought to justice.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Domestication Blows!

A weekend of not partying is a weekend spent recuperating, chilling and running errands. Not being up till the wee hours of the morning does have health benefits but it's not something I want to recur for another couple months. I know that alcohol isn't good for my system, I know that I have to drive for half an hour to get downtown, I know that partying it up every weekend leads to a wanton existence. What's to complain here?! As I read somewhere, a lifestyle is a terrible thing to waste.

To be fair I did have a great weekend. Junior drove to the East Side and we played tennis on Saturday afternoon in the gorgeous sun. The wind was the only thing that made the day slightly not ideal for tennis but that's me picking nits. Her slacker ass was tired within the hour so we showered at the Pro and headed to the mall to get some food. A couple slices of Pagliacci's pizza followed by a monster slice of Chocolate cake hit the right spots (the decadent meal was well earned). After some more TP in the mall, Junior headed home whilst I drove over to the waterfront in Kirkland to hang out with Deepesh, Amru and the rest of the gang. Some drinks, some banter, a whole lot of Amru bashing and it was 9pm already.

Damn that media center pc! Whatever hopes I had of tucking in early on Saturday were dashed when I sat down to catch up on my TV viewing for the week. All I have to say is Thank God I'm done watching all of 24! I passed out around 3am, was woken up momentarily at 5am by a phone call (I wasn't dreaming it) and eventually by a call from my brother at 8. He was so excited about what was going on in the Wimbledon final that he had to tell me all about the action till that point.

I'm glad Nikhil woke up because I was riveted through the Wimbledon final, focused especially on Federer's shot making as he scurried around the court. Nadal put up a great fight but when he lost the second set 7-6, it was a matter of time before the King stamped his authority on his fiefdom. That the tennis action ended just before the World Cup final began wasn't mere coincidence if you ask me - it was divine intervention! :)

Italy won the World Cup (whatever), Sarat and I played a marathon squash match (90 minutes long) and I went grocery shopping. While filling my cart up, I heard a friend highlight her reasons to doubt her involvement with a guy. Turned out that her reasons were purely a figment of her overactive mind but it shed some light on what is a core human tendency. All of us, at some point in our lives, have fabricated reasons to not be happy (in our relationships in particular). It's like a big, red self-destruct button that we can't help but press. Luckily, this one didn't commit the fallacy of doing anything drastic but what if someone wasn't there to talk her out of it?

Friday, July 07, 2006

As I Lay in Bed

Anywhere I roam
Where I lay my head is home

This past week has been very satisfying - I am on top of issues at work and have worked out thrice this week. My squash game is looking up too but it's too early to gauge anything based on the inconsistent nature of my game since my return. I have lost matches to people who I could've coached in 2004, which has me really determined to find the form of yore. I have time on my side so all I need now is to work at getting better.

I got my 45 day notice for the next stage of my green card processing to begin. Not that I really understand what this notice business means except that it'll take an entire year to get the next stage. I asked the attorney how much time I had to get married to a non-American citizen and she couldn't stop cracking up. You know for once, I wasn't trying to be funny even!!

Some part of the upcoming weekend should be spent in putting my house in order. I need to get an estimate on the damage to my car, post my iPod battery replacement form, collect my mail, load the dishwasher and fold multiple laundry loads. Time to recruit Amru's help again in this laundry folding business. Don't you think she won't extract her price - she'll make me cook something, which I don't mind cuz I like cooking!

So here's the weekend lineup. Bizo's cover band's first show starts Friday evening. Some team activity on Friday night. Tennis with Junior on Saturday followed by lunch at CCF. Surprise birthday parties on Saturday night. Soccer World Cup with the chance of a potential lunch with the Pope on Sunday. And a whole lotta chores interspersed with these activities all weekend long. I can't wait to wake up tomorrow morning! Lights out...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Existential Questions

This used to happen a lot earlier but I've managed to find a way to stay upbeat over the last couple of months. There seemed to be no cure for the insidious down times because nothing would make the questions go away, not even intense workouts. I thought I had found the prophylactic prescription to keep the blues at bay: surround myself with friends, watch a whole lot of TV and read to keep myself occupied. I was wrong - the "drug" was no panacea because the blues are back, as is the dour mood.

The questions are the same - What am I doing?, Where is my life headed?, What do I want to do next?, Who am I going to end up with?, etc., etc. I have found that there are no straight answers to my questions because them questions aren't straight-forward. One might hypothesize that these questions are tailored to drag me down till I realize that there is no point deliberating over answers. Given the recurrent nature of this phase, this last hypothesis definitely has merit.

Maybe I need to just accept that I am not going to find answers. Something I read about the human brain comes to mind. The right frontal cortex is most active during stressful times and that meditation helps stabilize the elevated activity. Maybe that's the thing I need to do, meditate. What's it going to be then - meditation to calm myself down or acceptance that I'll never find answers so I should just proceed on with my life? Maybe a little bit of both might be the silver bullet that vanquishes this "demon", for now at least. I'll give it a shot...

Healing The Heart With Bone Marrow Cells

I have stayed abreast with the raging moral debate on the use of stem cells to cure disease. This article, on the heels of another I read on religion (and the hubris of the human race) make me lean towards the use of stem cells. Here are some interesting snippets from the article:
Researchers at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Toronto General Hospital have discovered the 'SOS' distress signal that mobilizes specific heart repair cells from the bone marrow to the injured heart after a heart attack.

While it has long been known that bone marrow cells have the ability to clear the dead tissue after a heart attack, what has not been known until now is the critically important role of bone marrow adult stem cells in repairing a damaged heart, restoring its function and enhancing the growth of new blood vessels.
In the study, mice with defective c-kit bone marrow cells, could not mobilize these cells to race towards the injured site and regenerate the injured heart. Their heart function was dramatically impaired and, 42 days after a heart attack, their hearts dilated to twice the size of the normal mouse heart. However, the heart function of the c-kit defective mice could be restored to normal by restoring the c-kit cells in their bone marrow, confirming the importance of these cells in repairing the heart. This suggests that a similar treatment of an infusion of bone marrow cells after a heart attack may prevent progression of heart failure in patients who survived a heart attack.

The study may explain why some patients have mild heart attacks and others develop progressive and potentially fatal congestive heart failure. "We know that the number of c-kit positive cells decreases with age and that elderly patients don't recover from heart attacks as well as younger patients. The key for the older patients would be to find new ways to restore this particular subset of cells in their bone marrow," said Dr. Fazel.
Hopefully, this research is "real" and isn't another case of the medical community indulging in Cargo Cult Science.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Don't make a deal with the Devil, err Terrorist!

Here are some cold, hard facts:

- If terrorists are blackmailing you to do something for you, don't give in to their demands.
- If they are holding your family hostage, they're going to kill them.
- Once they are done with you, they'll kill you.

So in the end, you'll lose your life for sure, the terrorists will have their way and you'll become a martyr for the wrong cause. It's a cold world, eh?!

Here's the final word on dealing with terrorists:
- If a terrorist asks you to prove your allegiance by shooting someone, do it! Most likely it's a test and the gun will either have blanks or not have any rounds.