Friday, July 30, 2004

Occupational Hazard

It is commonly believed that the only occupational hazards that engineers face is cramped posteriors from sitting all day and cockeyed expression from staring at the screen for too long. There have been reports of computer-induced sterility, brains exploding because of too many Eurekas, and health problems amongst overworked programmers with 70% coffee in their blood instead of water, but those are either just rumours or extreme cases.

Most people neglect to realize the fact that an engineer's life-cycle nudges him slowly to abstain from social life outside his friends' circle, which commonly includes other engineers. As a result, jokes like the following become very popular:
Engg 1: "And when I turned it around, it was only a burnt capacitor!"
Engg's friends: "ha ha ha"
Engg 2: "And then I realized it wasn't even a capacitor, it was just a burn!"
Engg's friends: "HA HA HA HA HA"
Nearby people: Gurgle! Gurgle! Choke! Puke!

The nearby people call these "PJs" and shun the people who make them, causing immense happiness to the Goddess of Engineering, thus making engineers bond together even better. Soon the circle expands in circumference, and others start excommunicating engineers with non-engineer friends. And so it goes on ...

So, I was chatting with a friend from school the other day, who had just returned from abroad, a foretelling I had received from some (engg) friends there. We discussed the Indian victory over Sri Lanka, school nostalgia, my internship, lab reports, then I made a joke. I could detect a slight difficulty in the conversation here. It turned out she was an ornithologist.

While on ornithology, imagine a herd of noisy ravens in a tree and a gunshot nearby. Now imagine how the crows would respond to this. A similar sound went through my head when I found out her occupation.

Needless to say, we haven’t talked ever since.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Oye India!

Finally! It had to happen sooner or later, but it may not have been so spectacular. Totally tension-building, edge-of-the-seat, nailbiting, dinner-without-thought-for-food game. Excitement to the last ball. Boundary or not. Wicket or dot. Skipper shaping field before the last ball. Zaheer wiping sweat on his sleeve. Batsman nervously licking his lips. He bowls - a delivery on the onside. For a moment, time stands still as the ball zooms towards the batsman, bat ready in hand, aiming for the boundary. Suddenly, he cuts his bat towards the ball.

And then India won!

That's when I realized I was having delicious mom-made shahi paneer. It's never felt this good in the mouth before.

5 more days before I leave for IITM again. Time to savour the good things in life - TV, AC, midnight raid-able refrigerator and mom's cooking.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The Aarghthooey conspiracy

Long ago before time began
When God's nose with influenza ran
He snoze an awful sneeze that day
And today we-of this universe-still pay ...
For, on that unfortunate date
Was twisted the Universe's fate

Get the entire scoop at

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Inspiration (or How it began)

One of the most difficult things to come by in a situation like mine is inspiration. I am currently lying at home, wallowing in an absolutely tension-free environment – a nirvana disquieted mainly by rumblings of the stomach, only to be instantly satisfied by mom’s cuisine; noises from the TV or AC or the odd phone call; and the bed creaking beneath oneself more and more as one’s “health” enhances. Lack of inspiration results in lack of evidence for the same – hence no blogging.

In such paradise, the occasional inspiration one comes across can only be while recounting earlier experiences and contrasting the mad rush of “normal” life with one’s pleasantly serene surroundings. What one therefore needs is a diversion, if you could call something causing one to break away from eating, sleeping and watching TV a diversion.

To break the monotony of sedative life, I decided to read a few books. This also meant a trip to the bookshop, which in turn implied getting off the bed. And with the hot Delhi Sun outside, it was an admittedly difficult thing to do. But sometimes, you have to do what you have to do. So after weeks of symbiosis with my Kurlon mattress, I had to bid it goodbye, with only my ancient buttmarks left as a token of appreciation. A few hours later, it was done. I now had the first two parts of the Wheel of Time, Dune, Mein Kampf, Contact, Airport and a GRE guide to act as diversions.

The other books were really interesting, but the book that gave me the most inspiration was Mein Kampf. It talks about Hitler’s struggle – his childhood, his notions about polity and society, and more stuff that I haven’t read about yet.

Don’t write me off as a Nazi just yet. The most important realisation was yet to come. That dawned upon me as soon as I had reached page 237 and felt annoyed at having been duped. Mein Kampf is full of high sounding but meaningless propaganda which makes very very boring reading. No wonder Hitler wasn’t taken seriously at the beginning of the World War. The leaders must’ve read the book and just thrown it away asking for a good cup of tea or some cheese.

If this guy could write this unreadable crap and sell six million copies of it, then I too can write a blog full of crap and not feel bad about it. It was the best inspiration I’ve had in years.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Down Memory Lane (or How it began)

I remember that my school was one of the best ones around. Everyone said so. That’s because it “produced” so many engineers and doctors that the principal could boast about later. I also remember that four out of every five people were two couples (It would be difficult otherwise – two and a half pairs?). School was such a great place. The classrooms and the front seats, the teachers and the exams, the playfields and the bruised noses – well, it was not all so good.

Every fifth guy out of school was an engineer. The other four were the pairs and went separate ways later. But that is a different story.

Absolute slosh

I’ve decided to write a post which makes absolutely no sense
whatsoever. The story below was originally meant to be a birthday card
but was reused.

Once upon a time long long ago, in a galaxy far far away, there lived
the race of the Bloobloogobbs on their home planet Blooplanet-III. They
were the most primitive and most peaceful intelligent species to ever
have existed. This of course had partly to do with the fact that their
tools were blunt stones which couldn't possibly have scratched the soft
underside of the Swarm Blooflallows that they hunted for food. In fact,
the Swarm Blooflallows, which were then a significantly more
intelligent race then, took pity on the Bloobloogobbs and decided to
kill their useless and more senile members and leave them for the
Bloobloogobbs. This also took care of the problem of old age homes in
their civilisation, since building old age homes when you have four
legs and no arms is a difficult task inspite of brains and the
Blooflallows were not particularly proficient in it.

The Bloobloogobbs were undoubtedly very pleased with their hunt
everyday, and made small chants in a nonexistent language, which they
didn't know didn't exist, or they couldn't have made them at all. In
their nonexistent language, the only word which had one fixed meaning
was "Bloobloogobb" which meant "dead Swarm Blooflallow" because they
thought that it described them best.

It was on a warm summer afternoon one day when after a tiresome hunt
and a good catch, several citizens of Bloobloogobb society were
returning back to their camp, when all of sudden one of them tripped on
a letter with funny letters scribbled on it.

This is described by most Historians as a turning point in their
history, since the profoundness of the letter left so many of them so
shocked that over the next few months, they developed a language,
better tools, writing, and laser-guided lock-on movement-following
rocket-propelled weapons. With these, they killed all the younger Swarm
Blooflallows who madly and uselessly ran for their lives, and left only
the useless and more senile ones who quietly stood there and did
nothing. So finally everyone lived happily ever after, especially the
useless and more senile Swarm Blooflallows, who discovered that their
life expectancy was otherwise infinite. Therefore, some other
Historians maintain that this was a turning point in Blooflallowian
lifestyle rather than Bloobloogobbian.

It was, however, discovered several centuries later by young and
promising Bloobloogobbian engineers that contents of the
aforementioned letter were to the effect - "Enjoy my next post which is
so full of slosh that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, even in
non-existent languages.” Since they agreed with their government on the
fact that it was indeed a useless thing to get so excited over, they
reverted back to their primitive lifestyle.

Historians describe this as another turning point in their history
because following this, they promptly starved to death since there were
no young Swarm Blooflallows left to aid them in their otherwise
ineffective hunting.

Hmmm, the title does seem to correlate a bit with the story. And I put in the word engineer in the sixth para somewhere.

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Eureka Effect

We engineers are a simple folk. We believe everything existing exists for a reason, no matter how complex. For example, the three successive e-words in the last sentence. These exist because, well, I put them there. Of course, the reason could have involved random variables, keyboard layouts, divine intervention or accidents, but some engineer would have guessed it anyway. It is this characteristic of the engineer that causes the Eureka Effect.

Try the following: Find an engineer and walk with him. Make small talk. You’ll observe that every five minutes or so, the engineer will suddenly realize something around him and will feel the need to blurt it out.
“Look, the spelling on that billboard is wrong!”
“Ever wonder how the cheese mixes with the popcorn?”
“No, it’s not gonna rain – that’s cumulus cloud, not nimbus!”
“If only I had a long enough lever…”
“Garble Farble Warble”
Of course, it takes an engineer to notice this as a process and not just an annoying habit. And another engineer to name it after. Archimedes must be turning in his grave.

The Eureka effect works in the exact same way as another famous phenomenon, the Axe Effect, only in the opposite direction.

Anyone who exhibits the Eureka Effect 5-6 times in a half hour can be labelled an engineer. The number of Eurekas grows proportionally with the engineerdom of the subject.

Yes, that was a Eureka.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Why me blogi?

I’m an engineer. Or at least I’m on my way to becoming one. Engineers shun nature. Nature bothers them. Which is why we have bridges where nature intended water, cellphones with cameras when nature thought privacy was a good idea and computers instead of brains.

I’ve often noticed that as the volume of stuff on the internet keeps on increasing, the amount of pretentious garbage dressed as ‘cool stuff’ decreases while that of unadulterated crap increases. It’s nature. And this is just an attempt to go along with nature for a time instead of against it (I can do that when the time comes). Why have a real page with real information on it when you can get away with writing slosh and then claiming it too?

To summarise, engineers shun nature. It’s their nature.