I am the alpha and the omega
March 31, 2005
Ed's Fifth Rule of Procrastination
Spend sufficient time confirming the need and the need will disappear.

Blogospheres Very End

(I know that there is some blogger out there with the very same title!!!)

Life has its beginning. Life has its end.
Everything has life. Including this blog.
So it must end too.

More than one and a half year ago, I was magically and magnetically drawn into the blogger world. For reasons I do not know why.
Eighteen months later, I am still somewhat in the same position.
And as Kiruba once said
  When it came to a point where I began to write for others, I knew something was wrong.
I am still not there yet, but will soon be. And then it has to end. Like falling leaves in Autumn.

For everybody, who had taken time out to drop by the mighty alpha and the omega, for everybody, who had left little golden dewdrops of comments, and everybody, who have encouraged me during times of hardship, I extend my warmest thanks and the heartiest appreciation.
And now, I must send myself off with a golden handshake.

Posted by satosphere at 10:12 PM

March 28, 2005
Ed Yourdonradar's Fundamental Truth
The grass is brown on both sides of the fence.

Some interesting quotes about men.

  1. "What are the three words guaranteed to humiliate men everywhere? 'Hold my purse.'"
    Francois Morency
  2. "The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness and kindness, can be trained to do most things."
    Billy Cooper
  3. "Men do not like to admit to even momentary imperfection. My husband forgot the code to turn off the alarm. When the police came, he wouldn't admit he'd forgotten the code...he turned himself in."
    Rita Rudner
  4. "Men should be like Kleenex, soft, strong and disposable."
  5. "I married beneath me. All women do."
    Nancy Astor
  6. "A genius is a man who can rewrap a new shirt and not have any pins left over."
    Dino Levi.
  7. "I'm glad I'm not bisexual; I couldn't stand being rejected by men as well as women."
    Bernard Manning.
  8. "You know when you put a stick in water and it looks bent? That's why I never take baths."
    Steven Wright.
  9. "There are three stages of man: He believes in Santa Claus; he doesn't believe in Santa Claus; he is Santa Claus."
    Bob Philips
  10. "An extravagance is anything you buy that is of no earthly use to your wife."
    Franklin Adams
  11. "The quickest way to a man's heart is through his chest."
    Roseanne Barr.
  12. "When I eventually met Mr Right I had no idea that his first name was Always."
    Rita Rudner.
  13. "Men are simple things. They can survive a whole weekend with only three things: beer, boxer shorts and batteries for the remote control.."
    Diana Jordan.
  14. "Give a man a free hand and he'll run it all over you."
    Mae West.
  15. "I only like two kinds of men, domestic and foreign."
    Mae West
  16. "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    Gloria Steinem
  17. "If you never want to see a man again say, 'I love you, I want to marry you, I want to have children'. They leave skid marks."
    Rita Rudner
  18. "No man is an island, but some of us are pretty long peninsulas."
    Ashleigh Brilliant.
  19. "Men who don't understand women fall into two groups: Bachelors and Husbands."
    Jacques Languirand
  20. "Women love men for their defects; if men have enough of them women will forgive them everything, even their gigantic intellects."
    Oscar Wilde

P.S:I had even a longer list with women, it had 50 entries, and that was why I didn't post it.

Posted by satosphere at 11:38 PM

March 26, 2005
Economists' Laws
1. What men learn from history is that men do not learn from history.
2. If on an actuarial basis there is a 50-50 chance that something will go wrong, it will actually go wrong nine times out of ten.


Glad to say that I have experienced my first hailstorm. And it was a pretty gusty one at that.

It started as a quite hot day - 30 degrees. (Add a boring dayto it). I was all at home preparing for the interview. It never got very cold. Towards dusk, it started becoming a bit cloudy, which was expected according to the forecast.
Late at nite, I was sitting in front of the computer and doing general browsing, when suddenly, a sound like a thousand leaves rusting came up. I first thought that it was a big 4x4 going by. And I ignored it.
Then my roomies called out, saying that it was a hailstorm. And I went out and saw. Sure it was one.
Ice pieces as big as regular ice-cubes were being pelted from the sky. They were coming down so fast that it dented some of the cars too.
It lasted for about 15 minutes, giving me enough time to take some snaps, in low light, and even a video. Here is one of them - just shows the masses of ice left over after the storm.

The ice after the storm

I had the second stage of the interview. I did better in this compared to the previous one; the questions were quite easy, though. I just hope.

Posted by satosphere at 3:15 PM

March 24, 2005
Law of economic dispersion
The one you want is never the one on sale. If you like it, they don't have it in your size. You never want the one you can afford.

Over the past few days, inspite of being busy, all I end up doing in the nites, is watching Seinfeld. The regular DVD rental has pretty much all the seasons released till now, and we end up going there every day, take a DVD, and watch all the 5 episodes in that DVD in one sitting. Though some of you may think that that would be too much of Seinfeld, I don't. It just results in 2 hours of pure ethereal laughter.

The original idea of joining Blockbuster in order to rent movies is now gone. We are now renting these comedy serials to spend our time. But why these? Why not the regular run-of-the-mill emotional stories that have got acclaimed? Simply because, it lightens the mind. One serious day of work, and all its memories washed away by watching some episodes of a good comedy.

True, if I had had a TV, I can watch a wider variety of shows, including Will and Grace, Everybody loves Raymond, King of Queens, The Drew Carey Show, etc. (Did I miss out on anything?. F.R.I.E.N.D.S, yes. But I have the entire collection anyway!!! )
Its safe to say now that TV and grad school don't go together. Thank God I dont have one)

I do not know how long this pure joy (watching comedies, according to me) will last, but until it does, I will continue doing it!

Posted by satosphere at 10:09 AM

March 19, 2005
Durrell's Parameter
The faster the plane, the narrower the seats.

The interview, well, it went decently well. I could have done better; frankly, nervousness took the better part of me. The questions were quite easy, and in any other situation, I would have answered them properly. Will know the results in another three-four days.

The symphony orchestra, amazing. My first symphony ever, and probably the better one. Having arrived just in time for the packed symphony (Rule: Go late, and you cannot enter.), I felt out of place as the only person wearing a fleece jacket, with all the others coming in full formals. Remind me the next time I go. The seats I had got were in the mezzaine, approximately the 10th row from the front and in the middle.
And according to a veteran who comes regularly, it was one of the better seats, acoustically. (In a concert hall, acoustics are very important, because there are no speakers as such, you only hear what they play. )

The line up was Beethoven's Romance No. 2 in Violin, followed by the New Angles by Harris, an intermission (due to the sheer length of Symphony No.9) and followed by the 70 minute long Beethoven's Symphony No.9 including a choral in the end.

On the dot, 5 minutes after 8, the lights dimmed, and the performers tuned their insturments, which were solely violins, in all sizes from the micro-small to the ultra-large. And a silent hush descended on the audience. Sweet melodies, forming an aural treat, permeated the hall. A vivid calmness spread everywhere, and ears tuned to listen to the delightful music. Me surrounded solely by old, very old, people helped me concentrate more on the music, than the audience. The Romance No.2 was delightful and soft, evoking emotions of youthful playfulness and nostalgia. A short one, it ended in about 15 minutes. After the ovation to the leading violinist, David Brickmann, the next performance started.

The second one, New Angels, is, supposed to be, what the composer thought of the moments of anguish and pain during the months following 9/11. A bit discordant, with sudden sharpness and echoing loudness interspersed by clear smooth music, make it not the highly ranked ones. The surprising thing about this composition, is the number of instruments: violins, large and small, drums, cello, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, tuba, trompone, a piano, and even a harp. This was the first time I ever saw a harp, being used in an orchestra.

An intermission was allowed after this, just to prepare us for the aural onslaught and the performers to get refreshed.
Quoted by Irving Kolodin about Symphony No. 9:
... the d minor Symphony is both an end and a beginning. It is the end - because it is the last - of what he could do, symphonically; but it is only the beginning of what he did, symphonically. The first refers to the end of his effort as an individual; hte second takes in what his effort as an individual conferred on others to follow.
At 70 minutes, its sheer length daunts even the most adept artists, and drains the individual listening to it. You can listen to its four parts here. Sudden surprises in the middle, like sharp pauses, shift of tones, change of moods and the coup de théâtre, the 100 person choral, all create a sublime experience for the listener. The fourth part, the choral, was actually composed of three different choral groups and it was quite amazing (I was and am at a loss of words.)
I was in cloud nine at the end of it.

A standing ovation that lasted for five minutes at the end of the exhausting performance left everyone in a very good mood. The conductor Peter Bay performed an amazing job with it.

Two hours of heavenly music, well worth the time and money spent.

Posted by satosphere at 3:31 PM

March 16, 2005
Durant's Discovery
One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.

Three things.
  1. Interview with nVidia tomorrow for intern position. Its in the afternoon. Wish me luck. Hope I get it.
  2. I am going to The Austin Symphony: the rendition of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. I paid quite a lot for it. And I am looking forward to it.
  3. I want to know of a good photo sharing service. Yahoo photos sucks - it resizes all images to a very small size. I want to choose between Flickr and ImageStation. The problem with Flickr is the restriction of only 10 MB of uploads each month; I certainly will be taking more. Imagestation - apparently, its buggy, and requires a login to view it.
    Any sugesstions?

Posted by satosphere at 10:11 PM

March 15, 2005
Dude's Law of Duality
Of two possible events, only the undesired one will occur.

One of the best NRI stories that i have come across!

Grandmother was pretending to be lost in prayer, but her prayer-beads were spinning at top speed. That meant she was either excited or upset. Mother put the receiver down. "Some American girl in his office, she's coming to stay with us for a week." She sounded as if she had a deep foreboding. Father had no such doubt. He knew the worst was to come. He had been matching horoscopes for a year, but my brother Vivek had found a million excuses for not being able to visit India, call any of the chosen Iyer girls, or in any other way advance father's cause. Father always wore four parallel lines of sacred ash on his forehead. Now there were eight, so deep were the furrows of worry on his forehead. I sat in a corner, supposedly lost in a book, but furiously text-messaging my brother with a vivid description of the scene before me.

A few days later I stood outside the airport with father. He tried not to look directly at any American woman going past, and held up the cardreading "Barbara". Finally a large woman stepped out, waved wildly and shouted "Hiiii! Mr. Aayyyezh, how ARE you?" Everyone turned and looked at us. Father shrank visibly before my eyes. Barbara took three long steps and covered father in a tight embrace. Father's jiggling out of it was too funny to watch. I could hear him whispering "Shiva shiva!". She shouted "you must be Vijaantee?" "Yes, Vyjayanthi" I said with a smile. I imagined little half-Indian children calling me "Vijaantee aunty!". Suddenly, my colorless existence in Madurai had perked up. For at least the next one week, life promised to be quite exciting.

Soon we were eating lunch at home. Barbara had changed into an even shorter skirt. The low neckline of her blouse was just in line with father's eyes. He was glaring at mother as if she had conjured up Barbara just to torture him. Barbara was asking "You only have vegetarian food? Always??" as if the idea was shocking to her. "You know what really goes well with Indian food, especially chicken? Indian beer!" she said with a pleasant smile, seemingly oblivious to the apoplexy of the gentleman in front of her, or the choking sounds coming from mother. I had to quickly duck under the table to hide my giggles.

Everyone tried to get the facts without asking the one question on all our minds: What was the exact nature of the relationship between Vivek and Barbara? She brought out a laptop computer. "I have some pictures of Vivek" she said. All of us crowded around her. The first picture was quite innocuous. Vivek was wearing shorts, and standing alone on the beach. In the next photo, he had Barbara draped all over him. She was wearing a skimpy bikini and leaning across, with her hand lovingly circling his neck. Father got up, and flicked the towel off his shoulder. It was a gesture we in the family had learned to fear. He literally ran to the door and went out. Barbara said "It must be hard for Mr.Aayyezh. He must be missing his son." We didn't have the heart to tell her that if said son had been within reach, father would have lovingly wrung his neck.

My parents and grandmother apparently had reached an unspoken agreement.They would deal with Vivek later. Right now Barbara was a foreigner, a lone woman, and needed to be treated as an honored guest. It must be said that Barbara didn't make that one bit easy. Soon mother wore a perpetual frown. Father looked as though he could use some of that famous Indian beer.

Vivek had said he would be in a conference in Guatemala all week, and would be off both phone and email. But Barbara had long lovey-dovey conversations with two other men, one man named Steve and another named Keith. The rest of us strained to hear every interesting word. "I miss you!" she said to both. She also kept talking with us about Vivek, and about the places they'd visited together. She had pictures to prove it, too. It was all very confusing.

This was the best play I'd watched in a long time. It was even better than the day my cousin ran away with a Telugu Christian girl. My aunt had come howling through the door, though I noticed that she made it to the plushest sofa before falling in a faint. Father said that if it had been his child, the door would have been forever shut in his face. Aunt promptly revived and said "You'll know when it is your child!" How my aunt would rejoice if she knew of Barbara!

On day five of her visit, the family awoke to the awful sound of Barbara's retching. The bathroom door was shut, the water was running, but far louder was the sound of Barbara crying and throwing up at the same time. Mother and grandmother exchanged ominous glances. Barbara came out, and her face was red. "I don't know why", she said, "I feel queasy in the mornings now." If she had seen as many Indian movies as I'd seen, she'd know why. Mother was standing as if turned to stone. Was she supposed to react with the compassion reserved for pregnant women? With the criticism reserved for pregnant unmarried women? With the fear reserved for pregnant unmarried foreign women who could embroil one's son in a paternity suit? Mother, who navigated familiar flows of married life with the skill of a champion oarsman, now seemed completely taken off her moorings. She seemed to hope that if she didn't react it might all disappear like a bad dream.

I made a mental note to not leave home at all for the next week. Whatever my parents would say to Vivek when they finally got a-hold of him would be too interesting to miss. But they never got a chance. The day Barbara was to leave, we got a terse email from Vivek. "Sorry, still stuck in Guatemala. Just wanted to mention, another friend of mine, Sameera Sheikh, needs a place to stay. She'll fly in from Hyderabad tomorrow at 10am. Sorry for the trouble."

So there we were, father and I, with a board saying "Sameera". At last a pretty young woman in salwar-khameez saw the board, gave the smallest of smiles, and walked quietly towards us. When she did 'Namaste' to father, I thought I saw his eyes mist up. She took my hand in the friendliest way and said "Hello, Vyjayanthi, I've heard so much about you." I fell in love with her. In the car father was unusually friendly. She and Vivek had been in the same group of friends in Ohio University. She now worked as a Child Psychologist.

She didn't seem to be too bad at family psychology either. She took out a shawl for grandmother, a saree for mother and Hyderabadi bangles for me. "Just some small things. I have to meet a professor at Madurai university, and it's so nice of you to let me stay" she said. Everyone cheered up. Even grandmother smiled. At lunch she said "This is so nice. When I make sambar, it comes out like chole, and my chole tastes just like sambar". Mother was smiling. "Oh just watch for 2 days, you'll pick it up." Grandmother had never allowed a muslim to enter the kitchen. But mother seemed to have taken charge, and decided she would bring in who ever she felt was worthy. Sameera circumspectly stayed out of the puja room, but on the third day, I was stunned to see father inviting her in and telling her which idols had come to him from his father. "God is one" he said. Sameera nodded sagely.

By the fifth day, I could see the thought forming in the family's collective brains. If this fellow had to choose his own bride, why couldn't it be someone like Sameera? On the sixth day, when Vivek called from the airport saying he had cut short his Gautemala trip and was on his way home, all had a million things to discuss with him. He arrived by taxi at a time when Sameera had gone to the University. "So, how was Barbara's visit?" he asked blithely. "How do you know her?" mother asked sternly. "She's my secretary" he said. "She works very hard,and she'll do anything to help." He turned and winked at me. Oh, I got the plot now!

By the time Sameera returned home that evening, it was almost as if her joining the family was the elders' idea. "Don't worry about anything", they said, "we'll talk with your parents."

On the wedding day a huge bouquet arrived from Barbara.
"Flight to India - $1500.
Indian kurta - $5.
Emetic to throw up - $1.
The look on your parents' faces - priceless" it said.

What do you think?

Posted by satosphere at 4:00 AM

March 13, 2005
Ducharme's Precept
Opportunity always knocks at the least opportune moment.
How very true, isn't it.

Some really funny think to spark up our dull lives - cleaning the Bath Room.

I started my spring break by doing probably one of the more despicable things that I could - cleaning the bathroom. It was my turn to do it, and it was something that I had put away for quite a long time, much to the hardship of me and my room-mates.
The cleaning of the bathroom is more challenging because of the fact that there are no drains here, and you simply cannot wash everything away with water.

And before I try to scare everybody / humiliate myself, I will come to the real point I was trying to make.
The challenges of living alone / independently.

When you are in school, one time or the other, everything is going to be taken care for you; you do not need to worry about every inconsequential details.
You get up. Perform morning ablutions. Your breakfast is ready. You take your already prepared lunch. School. Come back. Tiffin / Dinner is ready. And so on. (This does not apply to boarding school, however).
You did not need to worry so much as about a penny dropping on the floor. You did not worry about living life, in the normal sense.

What did create a small change for me, was when I entered college, and the hostel. Now, some of the things you did required YOU to make the decisions. Some quite important ones, at that; the money matters, for example. But still, the majority of work was still not done by you. But the four years staying in a hostel, albeit intermittently buffered me for what was to come, and probably what I was expecting: Graduate education in another country.

Living in another country, required you to make some quite major decisions, major life changing (!!!) at that. Suddenly you are and have to be in control of everything. (At this point, I am reminded of this quote "With great power, comes great responsibility.") And you also have to learn to manage everything, keep everything under control. Not an easy task to do in grad school, where every professor in every department is determined to keep you working until late at nite.
These, according to me, are the biggest challenges:
To keep control of life when you do not have time.
To keep control of life, when nothing seems to be going your way.
To keep control of life when you really need someone else to do it.

And there are many people who have succeeded, many who have achieved the right balance of managing life, while not being too obsessive about it.
And successfully doing it, I think, will set in the correct path. That will set you a good roadmap for the future.
And that will tell you about living life.

And now, as I tread, with some difficulty, through the same path, I always look back and wonder, can life ever be simpler. Can life ever be the idyllic world that we spend day dreaming of. Now that I have come so far, can life ever be the inconsequential place that we have left far behind.

Can I ever go back?

Posted by satosphere at 12:09 PM

March 10, 2005
Dryer's Law of Timing
If you're early, it'll be canceled. If you knock yourself out to be on time you will have to wait. If you're late, you will be too late.

I am still here.
And just kickin'.

And for all those who had dropped by the last week, thanks, and sorry that I had nothing to report / no time to report.
Its just the culmination of everything coming together in the last week had ended up determining what I could do for every second of every minute of every hour of every day for the last two weeks.
Unfortunately, grad school was, is, and always will be like that.

And I seem to have noticed that a lot of people have slowed down their rate of blogging too. Busy life, perhaps.

I am eagerly awaiting Spring Break, a much needed 10 day break starting tomorrow. But even that will not be all basking in the halcyon warm spring days. Grad school decided to punish me even more.
And after that, more drudgery.

I had promised posting photos of my TA (Teaching Assistant) Pizza Party. They are here. This picture has all the TA's and graders, including one trying to take a picture of me taking the picture of him. A happy bunch, leading away to nostalgic memories. (The black and white in that was an accident while trying to resize and save the image in Irfanview

More posts, with more ideas should be coming up, hopefully.

Posted by satosphere at 11:17 AM

March 04, 2005
Dror's Second Law
While human capacities to shape the environment, society, and human beings are rapidly increasing, policymaking capabilities to use those capacities remain the same.

I shall be having a TA pizza party tonite. I will post on that.

Posted by satosphere at 10:56 AM


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