/* */ vita graphein/-: July 2005

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Venetian Night

Its that time of the year, when most leases for housed get over and so has ours (in Chicago) and I have been fricking moving stuff till like 4 am on Sunday morning. Must have been the craziest thing to do at that time, but we had no other go. In fact, I am sure all of our neighbors must have been cursing us, but fortunately no one came out with a shotgun or so (lol). Anyways its some 2030 hrs on Sunday night and we are on and off still moving stuff from inside to outside and outside to inside! Phew! In all the hullaboo, I had to make something to eat for the night and guess what, first day in new house, we had to eat burnt food. Yuck!

Well, this was a bad day to start with, but yesterday I had been to the
48th Annual Venetian Night on the lakefront (Lake Michigan) and there are some pictures here (no, I did not take any, why; I will explain later). In fact the start itself was a little screwed up. This website, which generally gives accurate info, had listed the address wrong and I ended up going to the South side of the Lake Shore and could not see a single thing happening there and it was like 15 minutes to showtime. Without a computer (something we rely on for everything now), I could even map where I was and how to get away/around from there. Finally did reach the right place which was basically on the North side. Just reached in time to see the first boat drive by in full flow. Basically, this event is when boats are very beautifully decorated, just like Venetian boats and with a lot of music and some great crowds. Then there was some of the most awesome fireworks, I mean well choreographed with some great music and the fireworks actually danced to the music. The first song was aptly Lucy in the sky with Diamonds when the sparkles just lit up the sky. This has to be the best fireworks display I have ever seen and sure was stunning. We had some 700,000 people watching it on the Lakeshore. After this, was back close to midnight and then started moving to the new apartment (luckily on the same floor), and kinda got one stage done like 4 am, when I decided to catch some sleep. This morning we were up again and got the remainder of it done and now being some 2130 hrs, it seems ok and a little sane now. Well, I should have taken some good pictures of the Venetian Night, but did not..why..well last time when I had been somewhere, I did not take the reel (yes, I am still analog kind) and this time, the batteries in the camera were dead and of course, was of no use, @#$%!! I should have double checked, anyways, what I saw, kinda stays with me and I can't share/show it. Hmm...

Also this week we had fire alarms go off on a couple of days, one of which turned out to be a drill and the other was some real call, though minor. The entire exercise is kinda cool (you may think I am mad for saying this!), but the way they get the entire building evacuated in some 5 minutes and then you stay away from work for some 20 minutes. The fire truck, cops and the ambulance are there in minutes and to see the entire operation carried out at the height of efficiency and co-ordination is pretty nice. This week, I also started playing volleyball with some of the IT managers and interns. Well, they don't have as much work as the engineers and can afford some time off. How can I afford, you ask? Well..I just sneaked out one day and was back soon. We leave to a nearby lake and play on the shore in beach volleyball settings!! Its kinda crazy considering that you have to get back to work in all the sweat and mud. These guys come real prepared for this and I also learnt. Its really cool!! As part of the intern events at work, there has been a trip arranged to Arlington Park this Wednesday and I hope to have a good time there. Some derby is also taking place at the time we are going and also there has been lunch organized, looking forward to it.

I also plan to take a Spanish course this fall, provided my advisor approves, lets see how it goes...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

a short one this time around

I had thought of posting midweek, but as you can see I didn't. Even as I sit inside a furnace of a room, I am happy to be doing so. Its fricking unbelievable 100 F (roughly 38 C) outside today and there is a severe heat warning today, so you would rather be inside than out. People say, 'as hot as hell', not sure if even hell is also as hot as I am experiencing. You may find it weird that I am being bothered so much by the weather, something which we never bothered too much in our lives, but here, its too much IN our lives. (Chicago weather)

Well, yesterday, I went to see this movie, The Island and was pretty exhilarating stuff. A Michael Bay film (Pearl Harbor, The Rock, Armageddon, etc). It had some amazingly good action sequences and I think you should catch it if possible. After that, I went roaming around downtown again, checking some stunning condos and skyscrapers. Went past the Chicago river, and then headed to eat somewhere, some nice food and then came back close to midnight.

Haven't done too much work otherwise as usual. Just saw England lose to Aus today in the Ashes test and also news of contrasting nature of the (bombing) madness in Egypt. Already security is on its rise in public transportation around here and I have begun to be aware that Department of Homeland Security is not leaving any stone unturned and are really tightening security. Its different to actually lead a life in such circumstances and find it odd to be a part of this whole drama directed by some fools across the globe.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Dekalb trip

I am Dekalb for this weekend, as I have some work and also have to pick up some stuff. I also just got my hands on another NY album, which I did not have time to upload and do not think so, I will do so hence as well, but maybe just a couple of pictures I may upload here which may be worth seeing. (The trip blog is here)

What you see on the left could easily be mistaken for a site before a building is built, but in reality it is after a building has been destroyed. What I am talking about, is that, this is a shot of Ground Zero, where the WTC towers stood before, till a few years ago. Now you see what's left, and well fenced and a memorial totally, which still is under legal issues.
(click on pic for a larger image)

This is another picture which we took just outside Madison Square Garden, which is a sports and entertainment hub and the center for many sports broadcasts all over the world. (that's me and a friend standing outside Madison square)
(click on pic for a larger image)

I have been writing this post since Friday evening and now its late Sunday evening. Well I just got back from Dekalb and am pretty tired and have to sleep, but just thought I would complete this post finally. I had gone to a play with an American family who had invited me to watch it. The Secret Garden (ebook here) was what was being performed, and it sure was a great one to watch. It was a musical and lasted some 2 hours and the initial part of the play was set in colonial India, so the family wanted me to come and see how the Indian parts were being played/potrayed. I thought it was pretty well done and I also got to meet backstage the people who donned the Indian costume and they seemed to be amazed, a person actually from India watched it and were thrilled to hear what I had to say!

Then was dropped off to Geneva and I took the (Metra) train to Chicago and just got here sometime back. I can't remember anything else interesting to mention now. The weather is killing me still and is so hot still here. Just watched Requiem for a Dream over the weekend and was another awesome movie I have ever seen.

We (all the interns) had lunch with the CEO and the VPs of Philips (North America) and was a great experience. Got to meet and interact with most of them and was a nice luncheon, last Monday. Also the Ashes is due to start in about 4 days time and I am sorta looking forward to it. Will maybe try to write later this week for a change.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Threat level: High

Last week's London bombings have been a shocker and more so, the magnitude has been horrific. I was actually getting ready to leave for office and was just watching the news and this came right into my face. To think, I was going to take the mass transit system too, just as I had been doing so for the last few weeks. I mean, I never have felt threatened or scared all my life and not that I do so now, but somehow, certain things are just not the same. Its ironic, that people carry on as though nothing happened at all and to see Londoners do the same within a few hours of the incident was surely great to watch. Moblogs seem to have got some stunning pictures and I am sure most of you must have seen them too. First hand pictures and info through other weblogs recreate the incidents as though they happened right before you.

The Department of Homeland Security has increased the Threat level for mass transit system here in the United States from elevated to high and this is very visible. I see more and more uniformed officers and cops in stations and during rush hour when the trains and the stations are swelling with people, their presence is really felt and needed, I wonder. Its very surreal, that I have never thought of anything on my way to work or school apart from getting there on time, and maybe how to handle the day. Now, its a little different...

Moving on, I had been to the Hindu temple of Greater Chicago, as I had to meet someone I knew and had left early in the morning. (well, my early is like 8-9 AM!) We (me and roomie) had rented a car on Friday evening from O'Hare International airport and man it surely is a stunner of a place. Massive and huge to say the least and to see as usual, planes taking off and landing within seconds of each other is so awesome. In fact earlier that day from the office I actually saw 2 planes taking off and 1 landing within like 4 seconds of each other. I can see 3 of the 6 runways O'Hare has, and there is construction on for 2 more. While we were waiting to pick up the car at the airport, every second car happened to be a limousine! Stunning sights. I still can't help being fascinated by the cars here. The Impalas, the Jaguars, the Ford Mustangs, the Subarus, the Nissans, the Cadillacs, the Volkswagens...the list goes on. Everyday, when I am not sleeping (which, by the way, now happens to be my most favorite pastime on the train..err...the crosswords which I thought I had started all over again, can wait!) on the train (to work), I am looking out to catch views of every car, hoping someday I will own one of them, maybe something better than any that has comeout so far (long shot, heh?!). Ferraris are kinda rare, but I did see a few in Chicago, 1 even parked right in front of our house. Cars, cars and cars...all of the most sophisticated and stylish variety..

Speaking of the car, we rented a Ford Taurus and was a nice car, just over 2 years old. In fact, I wanted to try my hand at driving and was doing so in the parking lot of the temple, and I almost whacked a parked car. I mean, I was trying to back up, and just for a second (which was more than enough!) mixed up the accelerator and the brake pedals and was ripping in reverse! Well, I did the needful, but only just.. In fact since I only have a learner's permit yet, rules forbid me to drive a rental car (no prob if you own it), so if I had hit, we were in more shit than we could imagine. After that episode, we drove to Dekalb, as I had to pick up some stuff and then got home sometime back.

I also seem to be putting on a little flab (sic) and more so in a country which is obsessed with (body) shape and health. I need to get back to my (physical) self too and my work which has got a little more sedentary is not helping much. I have to start working out more and be presentable when I am back home, which btw I am planning for December. In just about a month, I would have been here for a year, and I can't comprehend it as of yet, time sure has flown. Well, to think of it, I have been here (on earth) for the last 22 years..man, that sure is a long time (heh)

To round it off, the July 4 weekend was nice, except that everyone termed it as a long weekend (since we had 3 days off instead of the normal 2), and to me it seemed the shortest one so far. I guess the number of days you have off is inversely proportional to the time it takes to get through them. On July 3rd, me and my roomie, went to play (beach) volleyball on the lakefront and sure was good fun. The crowd was amazing! (nothing more). In the evening I wanted to watch the fireworks, but got to see them (unfortunately), not on the Independence eve, which is supposed to be one of the finest in the nation, as I could not get there due to overcrowding. You may not believe it, but there were a little over a million people (!!) who had come to watch the fireworks at Navy Pier (where I was going to go too) on July 3rd evening. Well, after waiting for the bus for over an hour (never have done this back home also), I came back. I did go the next day which was a great display of fireworks as well, but a drizzly weather though. In all, a good weekend though short as can be.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Independence day and a new name

Its the July 4th weekend, and that is Independence Day for America, this Monday, which means I have off (from work)! Well, if you are wondering, independence from whom, its Britain who had many American colonies, and to think of it, now they will do anything that America wants. Its festivities galore here and I am charting up plans of going around and stuff and enjoying in the festivities. It sure is going to be a great experience I am sure, and of course, with the Indian Independence Day not too far off, this sure is going to be a deja vu (!!) in sometime.

I wanted to share this awesome thing I have been seeing for over a month now. I travel by the train (CTA) to work and, when I am returning from office, after this particular station (Clark/Lake) and going towards (Washington), the stretch happens to be underground, by the way, there is the most stunning piece of advertising strategy I have ever seen. The ads work like a giant flip book. Remember, those books which had 100s of pages and images only slightly differing from each other and when the pages were flipped in quick succession, you could see a motion picture kinda happening. That's precisely the same concept. Only thing here, the pictures are stationary and they use the fact that you are zipping past in the train, so relatively, you are stationary and the pictures move before you. There are individual backlit pictures that look animated when the train blasts by, and sure is stunning. They ran the (Hummer) H3 ad so far and yesterday, I see that they are running the (Ford) Land Rover ad. Guess its something new, and the guys behind it are Submedia. Presumably it exists on the NYC subway system also. There is lot of media on this. In fact many of the people when they see it for the first time are so amazed and surprised, that the first thing they do, is look on the opposite side of the train to see if its something reflecting from that side, and I do find that very amusing! Well, anyways it sure is creativity at its best.

At work, I seemed to have acquired a new nickname. Well, after all the names I have got so far, this was another one to the list. Waiting to hear what it is? Well, its... The Alphabet Man. Yes, as weird as it may sound, its true. One of the engineers I work with (a real good friend of mine now), was astounded at my name (most Americans are anyways) and after some thought at it, decided; it had as many letters as the English alphabet (btw, my name in full has 27 letters), and started calling me hence. Ever since that, I am called like that in the lab (!!). I enjoy it along too, seems weird though. I am not sure what else names are in store for me as long as I am here! Also the follwing Monday, we are all having lunch with Brian Dundon, President and CEO of Philips-Advance, so its going to be some important time I guess and a good lunch, definitely ;)

I also started using Google Earth, the day it was realized and seems cool. There is a very good archive of some real good images and you should probably check it (here), especially the ones under India, and a few of them are clear as hell (you can see them in Google Maps and not necessarily have Google Earth, as its about 10 Mb).

We were watching Cats and Dogs on TV yesterday and it was so funny, but cheap funny I thought and also was watching Rat Race today...some shit. I also had heard quite a bit (as usual, 'coz of Khan movie) about Paheli, and I just downloaded a copy, gotta watch it sometime soon.