/* */ vita graphein/-: March 2005

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Just back from the (my university)
recreation center (which by the way I have been trying to be regular about over the last month). I worked out a bit (ya!!) and also played (ping-pong) for a while. Generally I catch up on tennis, but the courts are so full in the evenings, there is no other choice. Its always me and my room mate who go like 2-3 times a week. I am surprised at how time was available, but if you want, you will get it.

I had actually been to the Aurora train station earlier in the afternoon today as my friend had to pick someone and I had never seen it before. Not that anything special about it, but wanted to see it. Was kinda small and real neat as well. Nothing like our train stations we have come to see so often back home. The Metra rail service runs all day/night long connecting the Aurora-Chicago stretch. Then after that all of us were so hungry, that we decided to eat in a Chinese restaurant. Going very hungry to a restaurant can be the worst thing to do, as I ate so much and even now after like 6 hours I am still so full and almost do not plan to eat dinner. Got back home like 1630 hrs and then decided to goto the rec on top! So have got back and just started making dinner (my turn today again, btw, making coconut rice).

Just back after finishing the dinner (making), and eating it will be after a while, as I am still full.

The weather
Oh, I almost forgot in all this brouhaha, the weather, yes, once again, I am bringing it up, as weird as it may seem for you, but I am seeing probably the best weather in over 6 months, and the temperature is over 10 C more than what was a week back, and for the first time I am able to go out without a sweater or a jacket or a hoodie. It is only now that I am appreciating seasons and weather in general. Like almost never we cared for how hot or how cold the day is going to be before we left home for work or school. I never did, like check temperature when I left home till last August!

Cricket sucked big time during the 3rd test in Bangalore which I was again following it keenly till the last day, though finally I was held up and could not watch the last couple of days in the test, which anyways were the worst days. Of course, I am still game for the ODIs and keenly looking forward to it, and am assured of watching the 1st 5 games, as I have paid for the same, albeit a miserly sum. In the same regard, as much as a Ind-Pak series is generating so much interest and more importantly revenue, the Women's World Cup is going on in South Africa and in fact they have such low interest levels, that free tickets are being offered to come and see all matches (except the final). Wo, what a way to advertise to come and watch the World Cup, wish it ever happened with men's cricket World Cup as well!!

One of my submissions got accepted in Slashdot last week, and the story itself is something to read about. As usual Slashdot, Red Herring and Wired news keep me occupied a lot these days. I also came across the Japanese venture of Slashdot and also the Spanish venture.

I also just completed playing Call of Duty, absolutely brilliant!! Next in line is Far Cry, Medal of Honor-Pacific Assault and a couple of others which I had asked my roomie to buy from India when he went last December.

I again have some work to catch up on, like assignments and MATLAB. I also have my offcampus class this Saturday and by then the first ODI will also be over. So I will have a few things to write about.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

motley of things

Have just got off from a late sleep after following the 3rd day's play of the 3rd test of this closely fought Ind-Pak test series, only to know that India ended at 379/6. umm..In fact I was not able to watch anything at all yesterday as we actually haven't been totally legal, so cannot unduly complain. It also sure has been a long week and ironically it has been a fast one as well, never knew when it started or how it passed, as has been the case most of the times. I also had written a software proficiency test for the ITS (Information Technology Services) at my university to work in the computer labs as a lab attendant and just got confirmation that I passed the test. So I may get an opportunity to try a new job in the next semester, just as has been so far.

I was also just reading this article on rediff which talks about India's potential. Makes fascinating reading and think about what we are a part of but hardly stop to think about and always caught up in some other wordly muddle. On the other side, I also came across this portal, where this concept of 'speed dating' in India is slowly catching up and this company AsianSpeedD8 (though setup in 2003) has brought this in. You should check its website in case you were interested (only in Bombay now, though) or just to read about it. It's kinda funny and cool at the same time. It comes with a price tag of course, like Rs.1500, which I think is not a big deal with most of you people back home. Interesting venture, and do let me know (I will maintain confidentiality of identity if you desire) if any one of you decide to try it out.

The last week of course has been a lot of drama here in the United States, with yet another school shooting in Minnesota and of course the intriguing debate and lot of news on whether to keep Terri Schiavo alive artificially. As of today, she seems to be counting her last few hours till death as the debate rages on. I never did really follow it, but you know some news you cannot really be out of, as its everywhere, contrary to cricket which seems to be nowhere here and yet I am so keenly following it.

Culinary skills
To get this degree, I have started taking new courses and seem to be doing my homework well. I have started to make variegated dishes and not the same trend of a sambhar or dal or rasam. I am beginning to start appreciating cooking, and to realize it took me about half a year. Still a long way before I can open a restaurant here but then again, its something I have not totally ruled out. Anyone knows its a 100% profit business anywhere in the world. No sure if its coincidence, but roomies seem to be doing well and the last few days have been some good food to look forward to.

Umm.. still stressing most of the times at the Telefund, but I just keep it going, as it pays me and I need the money. Just a quick run down, I am in the top 2% in the 100 workforce for this semester even as I struggle to work 3 shifts (most of them do like all week). Its good to see your name up there, but after all it boils down to courses, assignments and jobs. I have not had a recording shift in a while, but have 3 coming up on April 9, 13 and 21. So I have to face the music again (literally though).

Just bought off a joystick, 'coz it was cheap and was a great deal, like half price of what was listed. Still looking for a surround speaker system and a webcam and a digicam. Getting too spendthrifty? Not a chance.. I can handle exactly what I am thinking. Over the last couple of weeks, I found time to watch 2 movies, Rashomon (made by the master, Akira Kurosawa) and Donnie Darko. Not comparable movies, but both good in their own ways. Will catch up on a few more sometime soon.

As tomorrow is Easter, I do not have to goto work, which means I get more time to work on assignments, hopefully I use all of it!!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

more cricket and a little introspection

This has been a cold and rainy (no idea where that came from) day and more soberly I just got back from yet another Saturday class. Even as I am writing this, I am watching the 2nd Test between Ind and Pak by the adjacent window (of course I did that in India as well, when I did not have cable, but that was a real window, looking into the neighbour's house!) Words have come to mean a long way in today's world. We actually had a test today and I really don't want to get into the (gory?!) details. Spring break is technically not over, but we still had the class anyways. During the lunch break, we could not have food inside the campus there as the cafeteria was closed for break, and we went out to eat at Bouna Beef. No, I can assure you that I didn't eat what you are thinking (and what the name might suggest). Was real good food though, I did enjoy my lunch. Coming back to class, wasn't all that great as classes have been over the past few weeks. I was sleepy and no amount of root beer (that is my staple drink here now, though nothing to do with beer).

This might seem very abrupt, but Inzamam has just got bowled by Kumble as I am writing and before I can finish this sentence, Taufeeq Umar has just got caught in the slips of Balaji. I know this might seem very weird that I am even writing all this here, but yes, I am very excited about the match today. In fact, I had said that we did not pay for this match to watch, but who cares, the feed worked!!

Its been a roller coaster 7 months for me, so far here, and I have settled in and also beginning to feel the burn out. I am not saying I am calling it quits and look to turn back, but its probably the toughest phase I have been through. I still have mountains of work to get back to and haven't lost sight of it.

In the meanwhile I came across that an Indian (by roots) won the USA National Memory Championship. Know what do you need to do to be there and win, check it here, well it does not seem very easy (probably an understatement) Really neat article though.

Just an incident to round it off. My buddy (here) has a pal working in the construction business, at the lowest of lowest positions, something like the painter's subordinate. Why I am telling you this was that while I was driving back from class today, we were actually talking about some of the world's richest people and as usual feeling like losers and how to make money and not go through the shitty school and education and all that crap instead of concentrating on our lives and the job at hand. It was then, my buddy told me about how some people don't' give a shit about money and all that we chase in life. So he told me about that painter's sub guy who one day was riding on an elevator in California with Slash (now for the music fans, you know who), the former guitarist of GNR. Yes, he was riding in the elevator with Slash by his side and Slash saw this guy staring at him, and asked with a smirk "What you looking at man, want my autograph?" This guy says "Fuck no; you want mine?" I am sure Slash had ever heard something like that and was of course was taken aback, and so was I when I heard this. The point he was trying to make was that, there are so many people in this world that do not give a damn for anything and more than happy with their lives and live it to the fullest content, unlike most others who keep chasing things we may never achieve at all. Just makes me wonder...

Sunday, March 13, 2005

crickets' hot and vegas' not

Up and running again. My spring break has just started and will not get back to school till the next Monday. It seems like a good break, but I can already feel the time is not sufficient to just catch up on assignments and projects. So at the end of it all, may seem nothing more like a little extended weekend.

Just to let you guys know, that I had planned a trip to Vegas. Yes, you heard it right, Vegas. My Pak friend, his girlfriend, and 2 other Americans. Ya, not with my roomies, but with locals. It was planned for a 2 night-3 day trip, and I was ready to go there and get a few things done (lol). Before you begin to make assumptions, the trip itself was not to be. At the last moment, the two Americans dropped out, due to personal reasons. The trip was still open and I had to make a call, but the expenses per head had escalated a bit and to consider, how I would spend there, I decided against it and negated the proposition. A good opportunity gone, but cost-benefit ratio was not worth it. So I am still here, in flesh and blood and just doing what I would do any other day. The university is itself a bit dead, as most of them have gone back home or on break to like Florida, California, etc. I have to resign to the fact that those grapes are sour!

Ind-Pak cricket
Fine, Vegas didn't happen, but cricket sure is hot!! After a few weeks of intense research and even beseeching a few friends back home to actually run a webcam faced towards their TV and relay on the web, so I could watch the cricket, I finally did see the 1st Test match. Almost till the last 2 days, there was no news of who would telecast matches in North America. In the end, Willow TV, bagged the rights for live webcast of the matches, but strangely they say,
Available in high quality live streaming video for the worldwide audience (except residents in North America and the Caribbean)

That is very weird, considering that they charge you in USD only. They also say broadband should be available and considering the number of people who have that here, it is indeed very weird. We also checked out Dish Network, who actually seem to have a scheme of a free month's service, but you need to anyways buy the cricket package which is close to $300. Definitely not worth the thought even. We were still checking on the internet, and boy like a flash, came this site, which was offering Test matches and ODI's at $2 a day's play!! So in effect Tests are like $10 and ODIs are $2 apiece. That is lesser than pocket change, and cannot even get a decent meal for that. This was it. So me and my friend decided to buy it and were skeptical initially to commit to buying all the matches as we were not sure of quality or service. So we bought only the 1st Test, and boy, was it clear. Clear and neat as hell!! They were relaying it over broadband at about 300 Kbps, no problem. So I have not slept in the last 4 days. Watching the matches all night as it used to get done by like 5 AM (local time), and the sleep for a while. It helps, in the sense, the day is not wasted. The result of the match was shitty was another altogether different matter, but I never believed or even dreamt, I could be watching live cricket here in US. This is awesome. What sort of commentary was on, can they ever improve?
So after the 1st Day's play, I decided to buy the ODIs and then after the 1st Test, we thought we will buy the 2nd and the 3rd tests. I just bought the 5 ODIs and just checked after like 5 mins, and all the slots for all matches was gone! No more tests or ODIs for sale. We should have bought all before they ran out but atleast we have 5 ODIs. They sold off like within 24 hours after they put it up. Boy, still hoping they open more slots. There is also another portal which says they will show the matches, atleast the ODIs, and I hope they come out soon with their package so we can get the last ODI. It may seem all very weird, that I am writing so, but you can only know about cricket is such a scarce commodity here and all the desis will do anything to watch cricket here. Back home, DD will always show, whatever and however long there is a telecast dispute and its guaranteed for you back there and you take it for granted. Here, its neither, anyways, good that I can watch it albeit not all the matches.

Finally I decided to start watching a few movies I downloaded. Yesterday, I watched Rashomon, a neat movie by of course Akira Kurosawa. Had heard so much of the movie and finally saw it. Nice movie, catch it sometime. Talking of movies, my friend had sent me an article of a guy being the first to be convicted of downloading copyright movies and stuff, basically illegal downloading. It was an Indiatimes article, but his name is now very (in)famous and google brings almost 6000 pages regarding this. Scary shit, but you know, on careful perusal, the reason, was that this smart (sic) kid, was actually selling of his collection. Now why would anyone in their right mind do such an idiotic thing. Anyway he is now reaping the fruits of his labor.

I am still downloading and still collecting. Its about time I went to get ready for my job now and shall take off. Will keep you posted soon.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I am just entering into a period 10 days where I do not have any classes and stuff, so I will have little more time for everything, or so I presume.

Anyway will come up with a detailed post in the next couple of days. Still fricking cold here though..

Saturday, March 05, 2005

facing the music everywhere

Been a while, but I am sure by now, you already know what I am going to say - I was dead busy. Probably doesn't make sense anymore I guess, if I said I am busy. I presume you all are as much as I am, but only that I write about it! I have been tied up in a few things here and it isn't too much different from what I am have been writing about. The test and the assignments are following on top of each other regularly.

I am just back from my off-campus course at Naperville. I was up today like 6 AM, that IS early in this cold, trust me. I had get the printouts and stuff regarding the assignment to be submitted (which at the end of the day I never did) from the Department, and in the meanwhile my friend would have picked up 2 others going to the class and then we rendezvous at the marked point to tango. All done and we left like 8 AM, was well in time for the class, though the prof came late today. Somehow always this class, even though of its length, is probably one of the best I have taken. I mean the prof makes it so interesting and stuff, and talks so philosophical in the class, that makes it all the more intriguing. I mean we were learning about all pole filters and stuff last class and he talked about sine wave having 2 poles always due to nature being symmetrical by property. Today when he was talking about harmonics and there was a DC component, and he postulated that DC is itself imaginary. Said it cannot exist in nature actually, as the DC components never exist at positive and negative frequencies, as simply they do not have a frequency. So DC is only a way for us to explain things and actually no such DC is there. Umm..a different point of view. By the way, cellphones have become a necessity from a luxury now, so all of us, just want better and better ones with more functionality and looks. The underlying concept of how the voice is sent over the 2 speakers is what we have been overly obsessed with for a while and it is damn neat to know that there is so much happening when all we care is what we talk. I mean, I am beginning to get a feel of what exactly the phone is doing when we speak into it and how our voice is recreated at the other end. In fact put in simple words, the phone actually predicts and reforms our voice frequencies at the other end. Neat shit, I am beginning to really like it a lot.

Not that I wanted to get techie and teach you. There are far too many universities offering an online degree these days and I do not want to add (lol). Also we have a few things coming up this week before we break off for Spring break. Really looking forward to that now, also may get a trip out of Illinois for 2-3 days, will write about it later if anything. We had our 2nd officers meeting of IEEE on Thursday, pretty much to catch up on what to do this semester. We have a talk this Thursday and I am giving an intro for the seminar. There is our annual Networking Social next month, which is going to be a cool thing. Lots of food, lots of alums, lots of people form the industry and a chance for networking and jobs, maybe..

Our broadband phone is up and running and is way better than our previous service. No more need to worry about minutes and stuff and can call when I want where we want (US and Canada). Nothing else, also have another recording assignment coming up on Wednesday and Friday. Speaking of music recording, I was called up last week for an emergency recording of a faculty performance. This prof, had developed his new composition, and wanted to test it out and get it recorded. So in trooped like 60 people, including, an Indian on the Tabla, and the prof himself on the Guitar. There was a confluence of harps, trombones, voila, bassoon, oboe, flute, drums and I think like a xylophone as well. Well, there was no audience or such and he was playing in front of a couple of people from the Art Institute of Chicago to evaluate and critique it. I had to get recording done on a Yamaha MX-150 mixer, never seen this shit before and boy it was the worst day of my recording in terms of setup and stuff. Firstly they never give us the keys to any place and they expect us to use the resources and the rooms and what all shit. It was crappy, needed so many wires and equipment and access to rooms for setup and stuff, as this was in the concert hall and not in the recital hall, where generally I record and sure was really screwed. To add insult to injury, this was a very important recording and no one was around to assist. They had a recording guy (professional), but he needs to know where the consoles and the equipment are to setup and so do I!! We have never been told, never been trained in these stuff and they expect us to do at a moment's notice. Barring all that, the concert itself was stunning, and lasted like a couple of hours.

I am tied up once again till like Thursday and shall write after that again. As a passing thought the weather is getting better here though.