I am the alpha and the omega
June 30, 2004
Cheops's Law
Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.

The End of the Line
The End of an Era

A Metre Gauge Electrical Multiple Unit (MG EMU)
undertaking one of its penultimate journeys.
Taken at Egmore Station.

June 30th, 2004 in Madras will be always remembered as the last day of the service of the Metre Gauge EMU's. For me, atleast.
The significance of this is that it is, rather, soon to be "was", one of the last remaining Metre gauge suburban service, anywhere in India. It has served the city of Madras for about 75 years. In that span of time, it has become a part and parcel of everybody's everyday life. It has played a more important role than any other mode of transport in the city. It was the only vehicle that could take you from Tambaram to Beach in about an hour. In any traffic.
Many commercial activities were incubated by the suburban service going through that area (including Mambalam). To say that it has symbolised the life of Madras (not Chennai, but Madras) is but an understatement.
The reason for the change: increasing commuter traffic, lack of availability of spare parts and the Railways dream of Unigauge (meaning a single gauge size everywhere - Broad Gauge). The spanky new BG EMU trains, similar to those on the Mumbai suburbans, have a much larger capacity (2.5 times more) and has more cars than the MG EMU's.

As an MG EMU leaves the station, a BG EMU arrives.
Quite Ironic, isnt it?

(I was extremely lucky to have got this shot. I was just about to leave the station, when they announced the arrival and departures of the two trains.)
I am all for the change. It would definitely ease congestion on the roads and will have lesser traffic.
But all I am saying is that: Dont let go of 75 years of brotherhood so easily. Put a fight. Thats all I ask.
P.B.: The author also managed to travel on one of the penultimate journeys of the MG EMU, as a token of appreciation. And he is also a maniacal train fanatic.

Posted by satosphere at 11:53 AM

June 28, 2004
Checkbook Balancer's Law
In matters of dispute, the bank's balance is always smaller than yours.

The Longest Yard
The title being shamelessly borrowed from Quake III Arena

This Sunday, I had attempted my longest morning-cycling expedition.
For those who know about Chennai as well as I do, I travelled from T. Nagar Bus-Terminus to under Gemini through Cathedral Road and then on to beach, finally reaching War Memorial and then BACK AGAIN through the same route.
While this idea had seemed crazy to me and to many others whom I had told, it seemed to make perfect sense to cycle about 18 km in less than one and half hours on a warm Sunday morning.
But as always, I almost pooped out nearing the last quarter of that journey. It always seems to get tiring, whenever a lot of traffic swamps the road.
(I did realise though that cycling through heavy traffic is one of the most envigorating exercises though.)
I did manage to reach home safely, and capture some memoirs digitally, for ... future storage.

The Napier bridge - All six spans of it.
Yes, the famous place which figured famously in the famous movie
Aaitha Ezhuthu

War Memorial - A big circle just beyond the Napier Bridge

Anybody who is somebody care to elaborate me on the significance of the War memorial?
BTW, I am just lucky that even as I am posting this, heavy showers grace the skies of Chennai. Yo

Posted by satosphere at 11:33 AM

June 26, 2004
Chases Laws of Car Repairs
  1. Leakproof seals- will.
  2. Self starters -won't.
  3. Interchangeable parts-won't.
  4. Any tool dropped while repairing a car will roll underneath to the exact center.
  5. After you have repaired it yourself you will have one small part left over that doesn't go anywhere.
  6. Every automobile comes with a built in abyss which things that you have dropped fall into, never to be seen again.

School Reunion

The title above, reflects what the most important event of my otherwise extremely "buzy" life is all about. That I blog everyday shows how "overworked" I really am.
While the point that I arrived at 2:50pm at my old school for the 3 pm meet should not be dusted under the rug, it did seem funny that everybody else wanted to prove that Indian time is IST + 1 hour; all of them honored the occasion by arriving beyond 4 only. The latest entry was at 4:30pm. (that being your highnessSudhon himself).
Some old memories relieved, some interesting anecdotes passed, some old classrooms revisited, some phone numbers exchanged, some news updated, some snaps taken and finally "some" migration to Beasant Nagar beach.
The only worthwile thing done there was nothing other than some old memories relieved, some interesting anecdotes passed..... You get the idea.
After this exercise for the mouth, some decided to give equal weightage to the stomach, by eating.
Including me. Besides why would I say no to a Mushroom and Veg Sub.?
That done, there were some pleasant partings, and your highness returned home.

The entire gang there.
Well, almost the entire gang. Not everybody had arrived.

The old gang at the old classroom where we had studied.

The people in this: L-R, Front to back
Ramji, Prassana;
Nithyanandan, Neelakanthan;
Mukund, Sudhon, Siddharth, Sandeep.
So long folks.
Take care.

Posted by satosphere at 11:40 AM

June 25, 2004
Chase's Rule For Success
Trust only those who stand to lose as much as you when things go wrong.

The person entered this non-descript room, non-descript as far as the stale furnishing was concerned, but rather lavishly adorned in any other aspect. Two more entered in after.
A glistening white formica table centered the room, graced with two beautifully carved wooden chairs. The first person was asked to sit on one of them. A brite bulb threw some light on the scene, a scene which was happening rite below it, a scene which would have made heads turn and faces sweat.
The bare skin of the person exposed naked to the air-conditioned room felt the cool chillness sweeping right past; felt the warmthness of the bulb invade every tiny pore. Sweat gathered, only to immediately disappear. Shadows danced on the floor.
A man approached. With his cold, metallic, hard object. It held inches above the body, searching for the right spot to enter. Location found, a liquid was rubbed there. Cool to the core, it immediately numbed all sensations.
It hovered about the skin for a while.
And then plunged in.
It started making waves inside. Sensations, unique and unknown were produced. Signals that coursed to the brain asked it to make every effort to stop it. But to no avail. The mind prevented it.
And then it squeezed. And it ejected. Ejected every ounce of liquid in it. And they coursed throughout the body.
Somewhere in the back of the brain, and mind, an ecstatic pain screamed. Screaming blindly.
And then it retreated. It left.

Sounds like the beginning of a ahem ahem .... novel. Read on.

He opened his mouth. Words came out. Words that didnt quite register in the mind. But words that sounded something like:
Ok. Now please show your other hand so that you can take the second shot.

It was me.
Just getting my required immunizations.
One of the pre-requisites for my stay in the US of A.
The first one was the first dose of Hepatitis B.
And the second one was for MMR - Measles, Mumps and Ruebella.
Actually, I didnt scream. That was just for effect.
I am not one of those guys like some who scream "Eeek" at the sight of the steel of the needle, scared to death as if they have just seen a Boa Constrictor or something. (That snake is quite rare, BTW.)
Happy mood now.
Got my passport today (with the VISA stamped on it), and will be getting my (my cousin's) digicam tomorrow and Broadband in another week.

Posted by satosphere at 11:48 AM

June 24, 2004
Chase's Observations of Human Belief
  1. The most preposterous notion that Homo Sapiens has ever dreamed up is that there is a Lord God of Creation.
  2. That this God is the shaper and ruler of all the universe.
  3. That this God lives up in the sky.
  4. That this God wants the saccharine adoration of his creatures and can be swayed by their prayers.
  5. That this God becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery;
    Conclusion - This absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.

Just another forward

Before I go on with that, I am just posting this, to complete my day. The reason for not a proper write-up is that this blogger was out of the house for the entire day, visiting a close relative who was sick, and it was an obligation.
One bad consequence of this is that, my passport had arrived today, and I would have got it, had someone been home to accept the delivery. Since nobody was there, there was the usual Sorry to have missed you card.
Before I forget, here is the good forward (Read: I have not got this before), an extremely good joke, which I found appropriate to put here.

Two Nuns

There were two nuns...
One of them was known as Sister Mathematical (SM),and the other one was known as Sister Logical (SL).It was getting dark and they were still far away from the convent.

SM: "Have you noticed that a man has been following us for the past thirty-eight and a half minutes? I wonder what he wants."
SL: "It's logical. He wants to rape us."
SM: "Oh, no! At this rate he will reach us in 15 minutes at the most? What can we do?"
SL: "The only logical thing to do of course is to walk faster."
SM: "It's not working."
SL: "Of course it's not working. The man did the only logical thing. He started to walk faster, too."
SM: "So, what shall we do? At this rate he will reach us in one minute."
SL: "The only logical thing we can do is split up. You go that way and I'll go this way. He cannot follow us both."

So the man decided to follow Sister Logical. Sister Mathematical arrived at the convent and was worried about what had happened to Sister Logical.Then Sister Logical arrived.

SM: "Sister Logical! Thank God you are here! Tell me what happened!"
SL: "The only logical thing happened. The man couldn't follow us both, so he followed me."
SM: "Yes, yes! But what happened then?"
SL: "The only logical thing happened. I started to run as fast as I could and he started to run as fast as he could."
SM: "And?"
SL: "The only logical thing happened. He reached me."
SM: "Oh, dear! What did you do?"
SL: "The only logical thing to do. I lifted my dress up."
SM: "Oh, Sister! What did the man do?"
SL: "The only logical thing to do. He pulled down his pants."
SM: "Oh, no! What happened then?"
SL: "Isn't it logical, Sister? A nun with her dress up can run faster than man with his pants down."

Now all those who had thought that this was going to be dirty, say "Hail Mary" three times and lie down.

Posted by satosphere at 11:41 AM

June 23, 2004
Chase's Contentions
  1. The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is the most likely to be correct.
  2. Whenever two hypotheses cover the facts, use the simpler of the two.
  3. Cut the crap. A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

The VISA Interview - Another aspect

The day before my interview, I was somehow reminded of the character Arjun, played by Siddharth in the movie Aaitha Ezhuthu.
If you remember, it was Arjun who goes to the dance club the day before his interview and hooks up with Trisha. (And then the amazing song Yakkai Thiri - Ahhh)
Though I would have loved to do that, I didnt want to. Sounds ironical. It isn't. (Too many punctuations, bear with me.)
I am not the kind of gregarious guy who goes and freaks out like that and who goes gaga over gorgeous girls and glorius Miss Goody Two Shoes in over-glorified gloated - I want to say glubs, but its clubs or pubs.
For me, having a nice relaxing evening, spending time leisurely, and going by life slowly, is what I like.
Of course, that doesnt apply to certain other aspects of my activities, like gaming, where I like things to be fast and action packed. I like my gaming desires to get my "need for speed".
This can actually form part of my 101 things that you dont know of me. I have to start working on it though. Earnestly.
Come to think of it, this post isnt related to the title at all.
What would have been more poetically appropriate.?

Posted by satosphere at 11:53 AM

June 22, 2004
Chappaquidick Theorem
The sooner and in more detail you announce the bad news, the better.

The VISA Interview

Weeks of preparation, kilometers of roaming around to gather the required documents, loads of energy spent with my college to get the required certificates, and what finally happened was an anticlimax.
I mean, they didnt ask any of the financial documentation which I had prepared (rather my cousin prepared), they didnt look at any of the other stuff which I had lugged around there, they didnt bother to ask me how I am going to fund my studies, about my intention to come back.
Nothing important, in that interview which would have lasted a minute and a half, and would have put all other job interviews too to shame.
As I approached the booth:
Me: Good morning, Sir. It was still the morning, luckily
Visa Officer: Can you hand me your token?
Me: Yes Sir, here it is.Hand over a superfluous token
VO: So which University are you heading to?
Me: Normal Question.University of Texas at Austin.
VO: So thats the UT Austin.Duh... How many universities did you apply?
Me: 10 Sir.
VO: What did you get?
Me: Rice university, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Washington, and then this, Sir.
VO: Why did you select this University?
Me: Standard Question. Well Defined answer too. It has a good track record and lots of research work being done here in this field.
VO: So the other Universities are not good?
ME: Fumble a bit. It is also better ranked. Whats wrong with me? Wouldnt it have been easier to just say "Seniors said so, Sir".
VO: Oh. Whats its ranking?
Me: 9th Sir. Why does he need all this?
VO: How do you know? Which ranking?
Me: That has got to be a totally unrelated question. I got it from the US NEWS ranking, Sir
VO: So this is the first time you are applying for a VISA?
Me: Cool, at last. Yes, Sir.
VO: You will get your visa soon.

Tada. Thats it.
That was what I had to slog for so many days.
I had actually met the VO before. A couple of weeks back, US consulate had conducted an outreach programme for those applying for student visa. Though it was no more than a publicity stunt for gathering more students to apply, it was this same guy who had compered it.
He didnt recognise me, but I did. Immediately. As soon as I had entered the hall.

The most difficult part of the entire interview process is that, the interviews takes place right in front of everybody's eyes, who are sitting in hundreds in a huge hall, one side lined up with the boots of the Interviewers.
And you have to see the people being rejected. Sometimes it was just a spree. Heavy pleading did not help.
But luckily, I got mine.
Apparently, for IITians, all the interviews seem to last like this only.
Probably the result of 2 years of slogging for JEE and 4 years at IIT.
Anyway, thats one block that I have passed. More important problems lie ahead.

P.B.: Thanx to all those who wished.

Posted by satosphere at 12:34 PM

June 21, 2004
Cayo's Law
The only things that start on time are those that you're late for.

The VISA preparation

Every day of my past few weeks seems to begin with a reminder that my VISA interview is on the 22nd of June, at 8:30am.
Oops, sorry, that was 9:30am. (See how forgetful I can be).
This constant reminder was because of the simple mistake that I had made earlier leading to many complex consequences: that of going to my TOEFL exam a mighty one and half hours late (for an exam that lasts only two and a half).
I hope I dont make the same mistake now, not with 3 people reminding me daily of the date, time and venue.
That settled, comes the more important part of arranging the documents.
The instructions just say that I have to bring "supporting documentation". What they are, is not clearly mentioned anywhere.
So I just manage to lug around whatever piece of financial evidence, all my certificates and marksheets and anything else that seems to be remotely related to anything else. My file just resembles a huge bundle of unorganised mass of papers, much akin to those cob-webbed ubiquitous thick bundles which seem to eat up so much space at goverment offices.
Hey, but I atleast learn where all my dad's money has gone to. And I am pretty sure now that I can manage finances "adultwise".
All this for what?
For an interview that hardly seems to last a minute and a half for an average IITian who gets a good university.
Apparently, it seems that once my university name is mentioned, they dont seem to see any other documents. And the conversation seems to be like exchanging pleasantries more than anything else. All my classmates seem to have reported the same thing. The consistency in this is very re-assuring for me.
If this is my case too, I can come back and frown at everybody who forced me to roam around the city, collecting unnecessary stuff, making me a payless payboy courier more than anything else.
Wish me luck, anyway.
The first taste of a success there will result in a transcript of the proceedings. Here.

Posted by satosphere at 9:00 AM

June 20, 2004
Cavanaugh's Postulate
All kookies are not in a jar.

Morning Cycling

It really takes something to get up early in the morning and go cycling. But then again, the pleasure derived from it, is something out of this world.
There is something in it, like you are magically transported to this wonderland where everything seems serene and calm, and the only thing that seems to be active in this mysterious land are your eyes for seeing and your legs for pedalling. The mind is in a realm of its own, thinking in its own waves and all the cycling going on unconsciously in the back of the mind.
Which brings me back to cycling.
Every morning, 6am awakes me with an alarm, the sound of which always seems to permeate my dreams. After the unavoidable morning ablutions, I get up on my cycle, and start cycling, with an empty stomach, as always.
Where? Wherever the road takes me. Though I do plan my trips.
I end up going to some really far-off places: PalliKaranai, Beasant Nagar beach, Egmore, Marina Beach, IIT are to name a few. They usually last an hour and a half, or about 15 km.
The perfect condition for cycling would be: cool weather, cloudy sky, windy day, very less or no traffic at all, and of course, smooth roads. And these are very, I repeat, very hard to find, in Madras atleast.
Some of these journeys also find me with a camera, a Canon Powershot A40, belonging to my cowsin, of course. And with these, I often shoot what I title as "Memories of Madras" and I plan to take them to US, a reminder of where I was from. One simple example which I managed to capture is:

Vivekananda Memorial, on Marina beach, in the morning.

Why I do these? As a form of exercise? Probably, I dunno. Actually, I hope not. But it does seem to keep me peppy throughout the day. It must be noted that I am also partly inspired by all the people doing morning exercise. This one below is but one form of it.

Kanoeing. Another healthy option for exercising.
A costly one, though. You must be a part of the
Madras boat club to do this.

I must say that the last word is that, the day seems to last longer because of this, and the nights seem to be more dreamier.

Posted by satosphere at 11:24 AM

June 19, 2004
I decided to dedicate an entire post to this law.
Cartoon Laws

  1. Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation. Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland. He loiters in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to look down. At this point, the familiar principle of 32 feet per second per second takes over.
  2. Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter intervenes suddenly. Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon characters are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or an outsize boulder retards their forward motion absolutely. Sir Isaac Newton called this sudden termination of motion the Stooge's surcease.
  3. Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter. Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the speciality of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of reckless cowards who are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house, leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole. The threat of skunks or matrimony often catalyzes this reaction.
  4. The time required for an object to fall twenty stories is greater than or equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral down twenty flights to attempt to capture it unbroken. Such an object is inevitably priceless, the attempt to capture it inevitably unsuccessful.
  5. All principles of gravity are negated by fear. Psychic forces are sufficient in most bodies for a shock to propel them directly away from the earth's surface. A spooky noise or an adversary's signature sound will induce motion upward, usually to the cradle of a chandelier, a treetop, or the crest of a flagpole. The feet of a character who is running or the wheels of a speeding auto need never touch the ground, especially when in flight.
  6. As speed increases, objects can be in several places at once. This is particularly true of tooth-and-claw fights, in which a character's head may be glimpsed emerging from the cloud of altercation at several places simultaneously. This effect is common as well among bodies that are spinning or being throttled. A wacky character has the option of self-replication only at manic high speeds and may ricochet off walls to achieve the velocity required.
  7. Certain bodies can pass through solid walls painted to resemble tunnel entrances; others cannot. This trompe l'oeil inconsistency has baffled generation, but at least it is known that whoever paints an entrance on a wall's surface to trick an opponent will be unable to pursue him into this theoretical space. The painter is flattened against the wall when he attempts to follow into the painting. This is ultimately a problem of art, not of science.
  8. Any violent rearrangement of feline matter is impermanent. Cartoon cats possess even more deaths than the traditional nine lives might comfortably afford. They can be decimated, spliced, splayed, accordion-pleated, spindled, or disassembled, but they cannot be destroyed. After a few moments of blinking self pity, they reinflate, elongate, snap back, or solidify.
    Corollary - A cat will assume the shape of its container.
  9. For every vengeance there is an equal and opposite revengeance. This is the one law of animated cartoon motion that also applies to the physical world at large. For that reason, we need the relief of watching it happen to a duck instead.
  10. Everything falls faster than an anvil. Examples too numerous to mention from the Roadrunner cartoons.

Posted by satosphere at 9:14 AM

June 18, 2004
Carson's Law
It's better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick.

The Velachery jheel - Part II
This being the concluding session on the Velachery Marshland. I am mainly going to focus on how it is slowly losing its war for survival.

The original emptiness of landscape years ago has given way to a lot of developmental activities, some unnecessary too. Today, it is nothing more than a bustling residential township sloppily planned, with its own set of problems, caring less than ever for the delicate ecosystem that it is slowly destroying.
The vast Pallikaranai Marshland (which I had captured on camera), reputed for its dynamic ecosystem and attracting a lot of waterfowl is being denuded slowly by unnecessary developmental activities. Part of it has been converted to a waste dump. Another part went to become part of a railway yard for the up and coming Mass Rapid Transit System. Some more research institutions have also set up shop here. A major part, though has gone towards, u guessed rite, residential dwellings, and some commercial constructions too. One with a nice frontal design is shown below.

One of the commercial buildings.
In this case, a ITES company has set up shop here

Still, in pockets of marshland, natural life still survives, rather, just manages too. It is doubtful for how long, though.

A couple of Cormorants and a black drongo inbetween.

If only had the area been developed with proper care and respect for this water habitat, it would have been the envy of every city in India, atleast.
If only.

Posted by satosphere at 11:57 AM

June 17, 2004
Carpenters Law
If you have only one nail, it will bend.

The Velachery jheel - Part I
This is a two-part series on the Velachery Marshland.

The Velachery area, originally was just a huge marshland, large tracts of water and massive grasslands; it was an amazing wetland area, was a reservoir for recharging the groundwater of the southern part of the city.
If you noticed that I was using was, the reason is because, it is no longer now. Already encroached upon by an exponentially growing residential-dwellings and denuded more by other development activities, it more resembles a haphazardly planned over-burdened township more than anything else.

The PalliKaranai Marsh, still attracts a lot of
waterfowl. Amazing place, this, but sadly being encroached upon.

When I first moved into Velachery (about 14 years ago), it was like in the picture, lakes and ponds interspersed by muddy grass islands, a perfect wetland habitat. From my house there, I could see kilometers away; it was like living in the middle of nowhere. The entire region was fed by an intricate network of natural canals sourced from the Chitlampakkam lake, shown in the picture below.
It attracted a lot of waterfowl, and was equivalent to even Vedanthangal in its capabilities as a fresh-water habitat. During heavy rains, the entire region was nothing but a humongous shallow lake. Of course, this had its side-effects; Mosquitoes was one example, travelling here during rains was another problem. All those is nothing but the past now.

The Chitlampakkam lake, full of water from the recent rains,
but half covered by water hyacinth

During my years there, the lake was atleast double this size. And was an amazing place. I still remember those happy carefree days (when Chennai aka Madras was a lil' bit cooler too)

To be continued...

Posted by satosphere at 11:46 AM

June 16, 2004
The Cardinal Conundrum
An optimist believes that we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist fears that this is true.

An article which came in today's edition of The Hindu. Actually, two articles.

Scary message - Singapore
All cigarette pacekts sold here will soon carry gruesome messages including images of a cancerous lung and a sliced brain oozing blood to scare smokers into quitting.
Samples of the six mandatory pictures that will appear on a rotated basis on packets have been sent to tobacco companies with guidelines on how they must be printed and occupy atleast 50% of the surface area of the package.

The Laughter Equation - London
Scientists have developed what they claim is the mathematical formula for the perfect joke. The equation they have formulated:
x = (fl + no) / p takes into account the length of the joke's buld up, the comedic value of the punch-line and the groan inducing qualities of the puns.
The jokes are then awarded a rating on a scale from 0 to 200, the latter being the funniest.
The comedic value is determined by multiplying the funniness of the punch line (f) by the length of the build-up (l). This is added to the amount someone falls over (n) to the power of (o) - The Ouch factor of physical pain or social embarrasment. The total is then divided by the number of puns that redue laughter.
The perfect joke would therefore score 10 for the punch line and length and contain a high number of pratfalls or social embarrasment but no puns.
A neuroscientist and a comedian have developed this formula as part of a coming event at the Science Museum in London that aims to prove the hypotheis that science can be funny.
Jimmy Carr, winner of the Royal Society's Best Stand-up Comedian award 2003, called the formula "total and utter nonsense".

So what do you people think?

Posted by satosphere at 4:11 AM

June 15, 2004
Captain Penny's Law
You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool MOM.

I suppose its stale news now. But then again, it is something that has to be mentioned here.
In fear of the rising popularity of the invite-only GMail, (or so I think), Yahoo mail has relaunched itself with a hundred MB of space.
100 MB of mail account, Baby.

The new Yahoo mail. Here, it shows
the percentage usage of my account.

And it has a new look much akin to GMail, though I miss the Keyboard Shortcuts from GMail. And of course, competing with the 1000MB offered by Gmail is no mean task.
It got me thinking though. I mean, now, in Gmail, I am using only 1 MB. Thats .1% of the total allocated space. And even, I believe, on an average usage, I will end up using only 100 MB. And Yahoo has offered exactly that. Makes business sense common sense. (The pic above shows my usage to be just about 3%. It was 48% before with 6 MB of space).
I wonder what premium account users get?. 1 GB? The answer to that is 2 GB. (Wow)
Reminds me. I still have 3 more invites for Gmail. Any takers for one of them. I plan to auction the other two at gmailswap.

Posted by satosphere at 11:53 AM

June 14, 2004
Cannon's Comment
If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the next morning you will have a flat tire.

For the past few days, I have been hooked a lot to Need for Speed Underground. It is too good a game for me to resist.
Firstly, the graphics is just too spell bounding. The surroundings have been excellently done, and which I have been able to exquisitely experience thanx to my GeForce FX 5200. In my card, I am able to comfortably run it at 800 by 600 resolution.
Then there is something called motion blurring in the game. It blurs the surroundings as you increase speed, giving a extremely smooth effect. And when you turn on the Nitrous with the blur effect turned on, its like going into Warp Drive.
The number of cars they provide is about 20, with a lot of custom cars extra. They range from the Mitsubishi Lancer to the Honda Civic to the Mazda Miata. Each car has its own unique properties (acceleration, top speed, handling) and responds differently to the various performance mods that you can apply to it, ranging from Nitrous boost, to Suspension modifications and Tires.
Apart from these performance enhancers, there are also a lot of visual modifications too. From vinyl coatings to glowing neons on the underside of the car, they just make the car look fabolous. Wishing you could own one of these babies.
The number of tracks also amazes me. Apart from around 20 circuit tracks (where you go for 2 to 4 laps), there are also about 15 sprint tracks (in which you go from start to end). There is also the drift and drag modes, which I have not seen in any other nfs installments. You have got to try these.
The single player mode has something called the Underground Mode, which comprises of a series of 111 races combining all the gameplay modes, and gets progressively tougher as you proceed. (I have finished at present, upto 70 of these). They will provide hours of fun, gauranteed.
The multiplayer mode is what this game was designed for. From a server hosted by Electronic Arts (which markets this game), players from both PC and Playstation II can connect and experience the realistic and exciting multiplayer actions.
Ahh, what I would do now for a broadband.
What am I waiting for now, NFS Underground II, which is under development and promises more action.

Posted by satosphere at 11:41 AM

June 13, 2004
Cannon's Cogent Comment
The leak in the roof is never in the same location as the drip.

Today, I will just leave you with documentary evidence of Rare species of animals at IIT Madras.

The common spotted deer. Here you can see a male on the left and its females
on the right. Yeah, it practises polygamy. No surprises there.

The ALPHA male blackbuck, with one of its many wives next to it.

The rest of its family.
It has seven females in its harem.

The spotted deer and the blackbuck all practice polygamy. Why?
Well, the more females you have, the more progeny you have which share you genes. In the wild, the males usually fight it out to win over females. So the one which wins naturally has the best combination of genes which is fit to pass to the next generation in maximum numbers.
The saddest part about this thing is that I think that this is the only black-back family left in IIT madras, I have not seen another. And many think in similar lines. The reasons being:

  • habitat loss. The blackbuck prefers wide open grasslands. Which is something not very common at IIT. Lots of it is lost towards construction of buildings.
  • vehicle accidents. Too many powered vehicles at IIT madras. A blackbuck was killed recently by a speeding auto.(Another reason why I hate autos.)

Of course, the rarest species @ IIT madras, is a good-looking female Homo sapien. So rare, that I have not been able to get a good specimen on camera. It is only during Saarang that large numbers gather here.

Ahh, those good times.

Posted by satosphere at 11:34 AM

June 12, 2004
Canada Bill Jones's Supplement
A Smith and Wesson beats four aces.

As said before, this day, 21 years ago, on a Warm Sunday evening, I entered this planet called earth.
A celebration of that is what is in the picture.

Lip-smacking vegetarion pizzas in lieu of the cake.
And I DID NOT eat the entire thing. I shared with cousins.

21, I suppose is a landmark age for anybody. It is usually associated with a person turning independent. On retrospect, have I turned so? I may have, I may have not. It is for others to judge.
But whatever the answer, in less than two months time, hopefully, I have to lead a pretty independent life, in a country half-way around the world. That is a necessity for me, not a choice.
I have enjoyed these 21 years of existence. Whatever little childhood experiences I could have captured, I have. I am hoping that these would help me, as I venture out into adulthood, or atleast provide a diversion to my normal life.
I have learnt a lot. It is often said that these early years are when a person learns a lot. I am no different. These are to aid me in my future, hopefully.
I have done a lot of mistakes, and have suffered a few failures. But then, I say to myself:
To err is human
Failures are the stepping stones to success

(Quite cliched, isnt it).
Looking back, will I miss it? Those early years, when me and all my cousins were of that same age, we used to spend a lot of happy times together. Now it is no longer possible. I do miss that.
If given a time-machine, would I ever go back to these formative years? I cannot say for sure. I wouldnt know the end-result of that decision.
As the sun sets on just another day, all I can say for now, is that I should look very hopefully and positively to the present and the future.

Posted by satosphere at 11:45 AM

June 11, 2004
Canada Bill Jones's Motto
It's morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money.

A pictorial description of my travel travails is of the order now. So here I go. These pictures were taken using my cowsins camera, a Canon Powershot A40 (digital, of course)

Smile, You are on Candid Camera.
Security Cameras: Coming soon to a junction near you !

This is the picture of a security camera, taken near a signal near my place. Any Chennaiites care to venture a guess for its location?

I like the nice curving glass covered design of the building.
Especially notable is the red spire partly visible on the top

That is the Arihant Building on Cathedral Road. I still cant get over it.

That poster is humongous. What you are seeing is just half of it

What you are seeing is Sathyam Cinemas, taken on the day of the bloggers meet.
Its a whisky ad, btw.


Posted by satosphere at 1:07 PM

June 10, 2004
Campbell's Law
Nature abhors a vacuous experimenter.

Those darling imbeciles at my college have done it again. They have pulled off the wurssscccchhhht gig ever.
It goes something like this.

Remember my rant about my college, about them not giving my Course Completion Certificates. (That was on March 22nd, I think). Well, since my interview is nearing again, I decided it was time to get that same piece of important, but worthless paper again. It WAS with the hope that by this time atleast, they would have finished it now atleast.

Scene 1:
Two days ago (the 8th). I went to my college. To the Academic Section.

Act 1:
In the Academic Section, trying desperately to converse with the lady responsibe for settling all the B.Tech grades.
Me: Can I get my Course Completion Certificate.
She: Sorry, but I dont have all your grades. Your project grades have not yet arrived. Go to the department and talk to them.
Me: Ummm. Ok. Can I get my certificate immediately after that.
She: Sure. It will be given IMMEDIATELY.
I leave to the Department, the mighty department which I have not visited for quite a while.

Act 2
At the department, sitting in front of Professor S., who is responsible for all the B. Tech projects and for sending the grades to the academic section.
Me: Sir, has the project grades come out. (I actually dont know that)
S: Yes. They have come out
Me: Have you sent the grades to the academic section?
S: Yes, I have sent them. Why, are they saying they havent recieved them? But here is the exact sheet that I sent them 5 days back. (Shows me the dusty file, which contains the choiciest tattered pages [were they attacked by the bookworm?]. And yes, that sheet is there. I would rather not reveal the grade).
Me: Ok Sir. I will go to the Academic Section and tell them that.
I walk to the Academic section now. My hopes arent too brite. I am pretty sure something has gotten screwed up.

Act 3
I am at the academic section, standing in front of the same lady.
Me: Ma'am, the project convener has said that he has sent the grades 5 days back.
She: But then, I have not recieved it. Here is a list of grade sheets for all courses recieved from the department. (She hands me a file in a similar tattered condition as above, and a lot of computer sheets. And flips thru it.
Voila, it is not there).
Me: (Convinced that it is not there). Ok Ma'am, I will mail the prof again. (Completely disappointed. And the prof has left, and so I cant contact him personally).

End of Scene 1
Is there some mysterious black hole betweent the department and the academic section that gobbles up everything thrown between them, or is there some snail that carries the documents between them. (It STILL shudnt take that long).
Its like two blind people trying to throw cowdung at each other, and then asking politely whether they hit each other.

Scene 2:
Act 1:
I am back at my college, today (the 10th). At the mentally retarded academic section. In front of that very same lady.
Me: Have the grades come out yet?
She: Yes, here they are. (Shows em on the computer. Pathetic)
Me: (Heaving a sigh of relief). Finally. When can I get my Course Completion Certificate?
She: You can come collect it tomorrow (the 11th). (Aiyyoooo)
Me: And my marksheet?
She: After 2 more weeks. (Aaarrrrrgggghhhh).

End of Scene 2
Finally, my course completion certificate, supposed to come on the 24th of May, coming on the 11th of June, 18 days late.
Speaks volumes of the "IIT Efficiency".

Posted by satosphere at 11:36 AM

June 08, 2004
Camp's Law
A coup that is known in advance is a coup that does not take place.

So what happened at the Madras Blog Meet??? For the uninitiated, the blog meet was a place where bloggers from Chennai, of all ages were present. And unlike last time, it wasnt an affair of Gumbal Sundal and a lil bit of Bloggal. It was more of a spread-out in the spacious lawns of Amethyst, where Mocha had set up shop.
Not that we like its "deadly" coffee (yeah, it kills) or its insipid teas and juices or its "ooh aah" cost which could burn a hole in anyone's pockets and who charge just for sitting on a sofa inside. It was just its amazing ambience and environs. Its like being in a silent forest with a costly coffee shop nearby. (Jus like IIT, I must add).
You can understand when you see the pics here or here.

The meeting which started tangentially at 4:15 when Ravages and Divya honored their feet at that place, and officially when I met Dinesh (I, unfortunately didnt catch his URL. Never mind, I am not good at remembering details.)
Slowly, the other familiar faces from the last meet had come. There was Guru (yes, Guru, married, but present minus his wife), Anand (we still dont know what mdeii stands for), Pleomorphous present as the Oaf (He has been having a identity disorder, and morphs his name often), Sudhon (my classmate, or so I think), Nirenjan, Krishna (who was present in the last bloggers meet also), Kingsley (no bloggers meet is complete without him, though I must add that he was not complete himself that day) and a lot of new faces. There was AK, Kiruba (who was the official organiser), a venerable old blogger from the Railways, another blogger with the most prized possession: A Nokia NGAGE, a couple of others whose name i didnt get, and a couple more late comers (No blaming them). Alas the spy who blogged us last time wasnt present this time too.
After the initial round of a Iced tea (ostensibly, the welcom drink, and the only drink for the day), we got to chit-chatting. Some interesting anecdotes were quoted, some gossip passed around and some incidents from the last meet routed from the brain to the mouth. After most of them had settled in, the round of introductions went on, just as in the last meet. Simoultaneously, the NGAGE was passed around ceremoniously, like a piece of costly jewellery, lots of ooh's and aah's included. Followed by that was the quoting of incidents, that would not be otherwise put in blogs. Something to pep up the meeting, I presume.
The highlight of the meet, was the almost presidential speech given by the venerable old blogger (I still cant recall his name). Quite a lot of interesting stories rang to the air that time. And his passion in blogging was well explicated.
Time wore on, darkness set in (Can I help it?). The settling of dues was done in an informal manner. (I wished I didnt have to pay. Actually, that could have been feasible. Apparently, Sify had taken up such an interest in this meet that they wanted a write-up and pictures, so that they could put it up on their blogs pages as a sort of advertisement. Heck, we could have made them foot the bill had they asked earlier.)
As the time ticked on towards 7 pm, everybody got up, and started giving farewells. This process, surprisingly lasted a long while. Some email addresses and phone numbers exchanged, some url's swapped, some future meetings arranged and some happy byes passed on. And then everybody dispersed one by one, me being on of the last to leave at around 7:45 pm.

And so, the sun has set on another beautiful bloggers meet at Chennai. Will I be able to attend another one? Possibly. Will I be able to attend another one here? Thats an impossible question with a negative answer. Probably my next meet will be in Austin, who knows.

Posted by satosphere at 11:44 AM

June 05, 2004
Calkin's Law of Menu Language
The number of adjectives and verbs that are added to the description of a menu item is in inverse proportion to the quality of the resulting dish.

The Tirupati images, will follow shortly, probably tomorrow, if I manage to transfer the images to a computer.

The legs that had taken me all the way up also took me to the place of my friends upanayanam. But we (the last grp) went too little too late. All there was time for was for a hearty, albeit cold, traditional rice dinner, followed by a hearty escape to spacious rooms which could comfortably accomodate all of us. After an hour of fart sessions, which made us laugh until the point of crying; we were recollecting all our happy memories of the four years we spent together in the hostel, some happy anecdotes, some sad stories, other witty ones, including some unusually funny stories. Ahh. I will miss those days. I stop here,; they will mostly end up as part of another post, that is, my student life @ my univ.
Morning came, and that awoke us. Part of the gumbal went to an early morning darshan. (Early morning, as in 4:30 am morning.) Luckily, for me, mine was scheduled at a more comfortable time of 8 am. And we did go. And it was a pretty fast darshan, going by how all others take. Would you believe it, we entered the temple complex by 8:15am, and we were back in our comfortably cool rooms by 9. (For the non-believers and first timers, the average wait of a free darshan there is 2 days. We went in a special entrance thanx to generosity of the relatives of the friend who had invited us to his upanayanam.) But inside, its the same for everybody. Unless u happen to know somebody who is anybody in that temple: the iyers or the ushers who regulate the crowd there, all u get is the same treatment that is given to all flavors of people. Quite the utopian temple, it seems. The treatment is simply a shout of jergandi, jergandi which keeps the people moving like a well-oiled train. U cant even get to spend a half-minute inside the sanctum sanctorum. On the way out, we collected our regulation share of laddoos. After all, Whats Tirupati without laddoos.
What did strike me in the temple, was the remarks that it is one of the biggest organisations, financially atleast. As you come out of the inner gopuram and start to go round that (a regular Hindu tradition), u hear the huge cacophonic jingle of the money machines sorting out coins and counting them. Followed by that, are iyers sitting behind bullet-proof glass counting the notes in all denominations: fifties, hundreds, five hundreds, thousands. I must say, it was one stupefying site. Quite lip-smacking, I must add. U must witness it for urself to get that kind of feeling. I mean, there was even a huge queue to put money into the hundi. (Even me donated, an amount of 250 to be exact)

After a light breakfast, followed by lunch 2 hours later, interspersed by another pooja for the function, where there was even a good photo session, we bade each other hearty farewells, promising to mail on the group more often, we left.
First stop, after the twisting turning road downhill was the temple at a nearby place called Tiruchanur. Legend has it that it is the wife of Lord Balaji who resides there. (Correct me if I am wrong). It was turning out to be a hot day, after the cool retreat of the hill temple. And it was getting extremely difficult to stand on the stone flooring in that sun. There was sure a lot of jumpings and runnings, with many playing hoppity skop trying to dance their way to more shady places.
After paying our due respect to the diety, off we were to another famous temple in AP, the temple at Kalahastri. Unfortunately, this is my first time here, and I do not seem to recollect much about this place. But atleast, the inner sanctum sanctorum was air-conditioned (Oh yes, it had AC).
Following this, well, there was nothing else to do, but to return back. It was, I must add, an extremely tiring journey back to Chennai, and as we approached the city, the traffic increased exponentially. Luckily, I reached home safe and sound @ 6pm.
That ends my mini pilgrimage tour in AP. Happily ended, I must add.

Posted by satosphere at 11:48 AM

June 04, 2004
Cahn's Axiom (Allen's Axiom)
When all else fails, read the instructions.

Well, here is my invite for the Chennai Bloggers meet at Amethyst, 5 pm on Sunday. This and the kutti one on the rite.
The one on the sideline took about an hour of work from concepualisation to completion.
The one above took a lot more time. 5 hours of work actually. I still havent got a suitable background music for this. If I do find one, I will add. I also wanted to put a pre-loader (which basically shows the percentage of the file loaded) but didnt find time. Enjoy.

Posted by satosphere at 11:39 AM

June 02, 2004
I now start with the C-section (No no, not the Cesarian) of Murphy's Laws.
Cafeteria Law
The item you had your eye on the minute you walked in will be taken by the person in front of you.

This post, and probably the next is and may be about my trip to Tirupati. I will put the pictures, as soon as I load them to my comp.

The place: Tirumala.
The event: My friend S's Upanayanam, a ritual where they put the poonal for him.

That was the reason why we set out to Tirupati. We includes myself and 8 of other IITian friends, and 2 who were to join us from Bangalore. Nothing could have spoiled the calm balmy, and extremely hot, sweltering day when we started out to Tirupati, by van @ around 10:30 am. Nothing did, in fact.
Our entire itenary was, to reach a place called Koney falls by 1 pm, leave by 2, arrive at Tirupati by 3, have lunch, and attempt to step our way to the top of the hill, and hope to reach by 6. But things never did happen as they had been planned (Murphy's Law, a delightful reminder is at the top of this, and every post.)
Firstly, we arrived at Koney falls, at 3pm after being misled a lot by wrong directions. And Koney falls was a total fizz. It was just an excuse for a fall. There was not much water, and it was more like a shower we take everyday, albeit with 20 people huddling under it. So we skipped it. And we reached Tirupati by 4.
A little bit of Geography here.
Tirupati is about 150 km from Madras, and is at the foothills of Tirumala, which is the actual place where the diety resides.Travelling there is easy. There are 3 trains daily from Chennai, apart from a lot of other places. And buses are aplenty, from Everywhere.
Back to Tirupati.
After a lite lunch (we didnt want to have a heavy lunch lunging the stomach while we attempt the hill), we went to Alipiri, the place where we start the climb.
Another bit of trivia about the climb. It is a 3600 steps, 8 km long climb, with the steps not uniformly distributed. The initial stage is a 2000 step climb, in a space of 1km. Following that is a 7 km long walk, with a few steps in-between here and there and a 2km long walk along the road included, and then a 500 step climb after that. And then u reach the top. I actually dont know what the minimum time of climb is. But I reckon the average time is about 3 and a half to 4 hours (if elders are there). We reckoned it would take 2 to 2 and a half hours. And it did. One group reached the top in 1 hour and 45 mins (thats very fast, mind you). Others took 2 hours and 15 min; the last group (mine that is) took 2 hours and 40 mins. The reason, I will explain now.
The last group, myself and 2 others, started the ascent @ 5:20 pm. After the first 500 steps, a friend of mine fell flat, literally. That same was repeated every 250 steps afterwards, inspite of having a lot of lime-sodas (a salted version of limca or lemonade). I suffered from dehydration (Did I tell you that I sweat a lot and would have happily consumed about 2 litres overall. No lime sodas for me). Myself was happily clicking away photos of the cityscape of Tirupati as I ascended. After we finished this first stage at around 6:40 (the average time of this stage was supposed to be 40 min), we did some brisk waking to catch up. We covered the next 4 km in about 40 minutes, and reached the road @ 7:20. Another 2 km walk and a short climb later, we were at the top by 8 pm. (The time I had taken in previous climbs were more than 3 and half hours).
Some of the more succinct points, I will mention: It is not a climb for the faint hearted. A lot of stamina is required, and previous warm up sessions are necessary. A big bottle of water should also be included. Dont forget to carry a big towel. I bought a small one, and I had sweated so much that after reaching the top, I swear that I would have squeezed atleast 200 ml of sweat (Grose). If possible, bring a good camera; there is a deer park on the way, and you can get site of some of them.

I think I will discuss the rest tomorrow.

Posted by satosphere at 11:20 AM


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