Monday, February 27, 2006

Kraftwerk - The Man Machine

Some of the words come to mind when you listen to this album include "delicate", "artificial" and sometimes "prophetic". "The Man Machine" (1979) was Kraftwerk's seventh studio album, in which they continue their trend of what on the surface seems like naive praise for modern technology and the comforts it provides. Closer examination reveals a wariness which doesn't quite become fear, but it's still like a warning of sorts, which is what I meant by "prophetic".

Kraftwerk (German for "powerplant") were well ahead of their time, releasing albums which are composed entirely of analog synthesizer sounds with little or no recorded material besides vocals.

Recently, Coldplay sampled Kraftwerk's Computer Love (from "Computer World") for their single Talk (X&Y) after Chris Martin (a Kraftwerk fan) wrote a letter in halting German to Ralf Hütter.

Spesh mention: The Model, Spacelab and The Man Machine

Rating: 4/5

Additional trivia: many Malayalam movies produced in the '80s seemed to like using Kraftwerk, in particular, The Model as a stereotypical "western music" prop :)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Spring Creek Trail

Today I did something I usually don't do: get out of home :)

I took a nice long walk down Spring Creek Trail, a bike trail through the middle of Fort Collins, along the banks of Spring Creek. The weather had warmed up and I needed to take my mind of, uh, things (refer previous post). It was good to be able to walk and not need my iPod to block out the sound of traffic. Instead got to enjoy birds cheeping, honking or quacking, depending on species. Around spring, Canada geese migrate back to their breeding grounds, and it seems like NE Colorado is a major hub/terminal of some sort, they're everywhere! You can also see great V-shaped formations of geese flying north. There were a couple of Mallard nests on the way too.

One of the funnier sights on the way was a telephone junction box with this sticker on it. Derived from the Obey Giant urban phenomenon, I found the Bush likeness absolutely hilarious! A jogger further down the trail thought I was nuts because I was still laughing! Also note the attempts to scrape the sticker off... Fort Collins is a conservative town despite the University.

That walk was just what I needed. It cleared my head of some of the tensions that built up over the weeks. I should do this more often. If only my bike wasn't stolen...

Later at night, though, I got reminded why I was in that state in the first place: I went to Zydecos, a local pub with my roommates. As usual, I did my "thing" of standing around, busying myself staying out of people's way. By 10:30 there were the usual bunch of girls trying to get attention from atop the bar (it's supposedly a tradition). My only regret was that the pretty barkeep was not working the bar tonight :/ Each time I go there I wonder why I bother. I can always buy some vodka and coke from the liquor store, so it's not the drink. The women who'd frequent a place like that most likely have no interest in someone who's sole joy on a Saturday night is to buy a Gyro from a street vendor. And my roommates are busy with, um, other things, so maybe I'll just stop. There was, of course, that one time I got hit on by a gay dude... at least it's nice to know I have options.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tongue Tied

How many times does it happen after you've passed puberty? When you're faced with someone who captures your interest completely, when you think that there may be a chance this person finds you interesting too? When you secretly hope, as crazy as the idea sounds, that things could be different, but then reality crashes back down? When all the thoughts running through your head buzz so loudly you can't hear yourself think? When all you could want is a sign, however feeble, of being acknowledged by another? When all you have to offer is a feeble "Please don't walk away and I promise to say something intelligent"? Why here? Why now? It's too soon, I'm not ready for this.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Breakdown

One of Guns 'n Roses less appreciated songs. This one was a great source of inspiration in 9th std... damn, eleven years ago!
We all come in from the cold
We come down from the wire
And everybody warms themselves
to a different fire
When sometimes we get burned
You'd think sometime we'd learn
The one you love is the one
that should take you higher
You ain't got no one,
You better go back out and find her

Just like children hidin' in a closet
Can't tell what's goin' on outside
Sometimes we're so far off the beaten track
We'll get taken for a ride
By a parlor trick or some words of wit
A hidden hand up a sleeve
To think the one you love could hurt you now
Is a little hard to believe
But everybody darlin' sometimes
Bites the hand that feeds

When I look around
Everybody always brings me down
Well is it them or me?
Well I just can't see
But there ain't no peace to found
But if someone really cared
Well they'd take the time to spare
A moment to try and understand
Another one's despair
Remember in this game we call life
That no one said it's fair

I've come to know the cold
I think of it as home
When there ain't enough of me
To go around
I'd rather be left alone
But if I call you out of habit,
I'm out of love and I gotta have it
Would you give it to me if I fit you needs
Like when we both knew we had it?
But now the damage's done
And we're back out on the run
Funny how everything was roses
When we held on to the guns
Just because you're winnin'
Don't mean you're the lucky one

Eek! Manure alert!

Sheesh! And we thought it couldn't get worse... 240,000 litres???

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dummy

Portishead is probably best known for their song off this album, Glory Box, which was featured in that, um, naughty Levis ad. You remember, the one with this couple flirting in an elevator while this kid looks on? Dark, slow and haunting, Dummy is a pioneering work in the downtempo "Bristol Sound" or "Trip Hop" genre that groups like Portishead and Massive Attack helped to popularize.

The music's perfect for that "wallow in self-pity" day, when you can totally understand why Beth Gibbons would pen lyrics like these (from Biscuit)
At last, relief
A mothers son has left me sheer
The shores I seek
Are crimson tastes divine
I can't make myself heard, no matter how hard I scream
The slow hiphop beats make for easy listening, and once you're hooked, you pay attention to the amazing songwriting on this album. On the flip side, it is kinda depressing, and unless your day's already feeling like it's got a flat, save this for a truly rainy day. You'll love yourself for it.

Rating: 5/5

Here we go again...

Hardware always turns around and bites you in the ass when you're not looking. Just a few posts back I mentioned how proud I was of my waveform synthesizer. Well, apparently it's not good enough. For reasons I won't delve into (do I hear a collective sigh of relief?) I have to do a new board. From scratch. Ugh.

There was a time when I'd be happy to get news like this. Heck, a part of me still is, but how do I convince the rest of me? :-/



These are the creatures I do battle with. Pretty, aren't they?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Garden State

I remember vaguely having rented Garden State from Blockbuster about, oh, a year back. Popped it into the player and... fell asleep. It was a busy week, and before I knew it, I had to return it and I didn't even watch the whole thing. Fast forward to yesterday and I watched it again, courtesy isohunt.

One word could sum up this movie: sublime! I could relate to Largeman's view of life as this sort of thing that sails by dreamily, occasionally populated by animated figures you can never figure out. The part I like best was when he's at Mark's party, and everyone's getting happy while he's just watching life sail right by. I think the drugs that did this to him are a metaphor for what "the daily grind" does to us: steals away the curiosity and wonder we were all born with. In a predicament like that, all you need is your own personal Sam to make the dreams sailing by stop and come back to life.

After watching it, I liked the music so much that, again, courtesy isohunt, was able to listen to the soundtrack. About the best OST I've ever heard. My favourite is In the Waiting Line by Zero 7. Close runners up include Don't Panic (Coldplay), New Slang (The Shins) and One Of These Things First (Nick Drake). The only reason Let Go and Lebanese Blonde are not on that list are because I've heard them before. Maybe the best part about this soundtrack is that while all the music (except for The Only Living Boy in New York) is new, it's still instantly listenable, the way only a classic could be.

Rating: 5/5

Where's my Sam now? :-(

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Demotivators

Heh, I like these:

Achievement
Conformity
Delusions
Idiocy
Inspiration
Overconfidence

Two that are particularly apt:
Loneliness
Persistence

D&D

I've never played D&D, although it sounds like fun. Doing my usual browsing around Wikipedia, though, I found this... what will radical Christian groups think of next? It's almost as if a communist government went after people playing Monopoly... no, wait, that probably already happened!

Octopus attack!

Octopuses, while kinda creepy, are supposedly one of the most intelligent invertebrates. They can apparently solve problems, figure out complex ways to get at food (including opening jars!) and have one of the most sophisticated eyes in the animal kingdom. Probably why you get that creepy feeling, looking at their eyes.

Anyway, I found a video of shark getting eaten by an octopus. Well, gotta shelve those scuba diving plans :)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Snow day

Woke up this morning with a slight shiver... despite my stoopid room heater! Looked outside and all I could see was white. Another day where I had to put on four layers of clothes to beat the fscking cold! This morning it was -12 C outside (or 10 F as our metric-challenged friends would say...), but with the nice bright sunshine I thought the foot of snow would melt away. No such luck, because in the evening it was down to -16 C and I almost froze my palms to the radar site gate while locking up...

On the flip side, the stuff I'm working on, well, works! For the terminally bored, it's a radar waveform synthesizer, and today it actually synthesized arbitrary waveforms when told to do so :) I'm so proud of it I'll post some pix Real Soon.

There's something almost funny about the crunch snow makes under car tyres. Maybe it's old Beavis and Butthead-style gross-out humour, but hey, that's me! Snow itself, though, sucks. Despite my colossal Columbia snow boots, I still skate around all over the place! For now I'll just blame that on a defective inner ear and hope that I don't fall tomorrow...

Woohoo! I tried one of those online "personality tests" which cheerfully told me that the world leader I most closely resemble is... (drumroll)... Adolf Hitler! Gak... never saw that one coming. Apparently I don't trust people. :-/

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Sub

By popular demand (hehe!), here's a pic of my Onkyo's sub. It's shy, so it's looking away! The center channel's actually under my table. The rears are stowed away since I don't have much space in my room. Also making a guest appearance is my Athlon64 which I optimistically named "beast". It's a year old, but still potent: A64 3000+/1G PC3500/GeForce 6600GT/MSI Neo:4 Diamond mobo/1x 120GB PATA, 2x 80GB SATA. OS of choice: Fedora Core 4! Festooned with fans, it certainly sounds like a beast!

No seriously, my digs are too small, gotta move out...

Things work again!

After yesterday, I almost didn't want to touch my scope and LSA at work today for fear that I may jinx them all over again... so I busied myself with getting Linux onto yet another Athlon-MP S2460 machine. This time, I was careful, so I ran memtest86, made sure that everything checked out OK. Then I started the install, with some hiccups along the way coz I couldn't decide if I should make a RAID-1 array out of the two 60GB WD Caviar drives. Anyway, while RAID is nice, I figured it's not safe to make the bootable drive a RAID because recovery is that much harder. It installed, booted fine, sat there for a while... and locked up! CURSES! Rebooting gave me four beeps - bad RAM! Tossed one module out (these are expensive babies: ECC, registered) and it booted fine, ran a Prime95 torture test for a solid two hours with no signs of stress. Good good...

All the time away from my tangled mess of LSA probes cleared my head, and I hunted down bugs in the design much more easily. And guess what, no coffee except for my morning cup! *yawn*

Today's album: Images and Words by Dream Theater. Whoa, awesome! Portnoy really shows off his double-bass! Spesh mention: Surrounded and Wait for Sleep.

Rating: 5/5

Wilfred and Tony, from Div's old band Mixed Fruit Jam, are huge DT fans, and I remember how they used to practice so hard playing Surrounded until they got it just right...

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Ultimate YES


I first heard a Yes track when we used to live in California, my dad used to record stuff off the local FM radio channels. The song was, of course, "Owner of a Lonely Heart". For 19 years, that was the *only* Yes track I had heard, so when I was in NY I did something about it: I bought this! I like their style, and their skill is right up there with my favourite Rush. Songs I like in particular are Yours is no Disgrace, And You and I, Tempus Fugit and Rhythm of Love. I suppose it does very little justice to a band that has recorded 19 studio albums, but for a beginner, I think it's a good intro to Yes.

Rating: 4/5

People are Strange


People are strange when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven when you're down
Been a while since I listened to some Doors... Now all I need is a pipe.

Frustration

Not a good day at all. Things just seemed determined to be borked. My fingers for example. Even as I type this, I have to correct roughly one typo every two words. My otherwise well behaved FPGA board decided to go loco today. Scopes don't trigger when they should. LSAs do whatever the hell they feel like. Dave thinks it's because it's the 13th of the month. I found this Calvin and Hobbes kinda appropriate.



© Bill Waterson



Funny how we all used to pronounce Hobbes to rhyme with "coat", but after exposure to "Friends", it became Hobbes, rhyming with "cob". I suppose early adopters always suffer. I remember it was in 9th standard, waaaaay back in 1995 when Pradeep got a CnH to school during Lit Fest, and we couldn't stop laughing while the debate competition was going on! Pradeep, Pavan and Amit, while not reading CnH, were busy practicing for DC. Nerdy moi, on the other hand, was on Josephs Quiz Team B. Team A had the legendary duo of Shailesh Rai and Arjun RN. Together, we decimated the rest of Bangalore's quiz teams in almost every quiz we took part in. Fun stuff.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Us and Them

Trawling around other blogs today, I found out something rather... horrifying. I had always thought that to a point, communal divisions and notions of "us and them" were something common only to our parents and grandparents, and that we had overcome these to some extent. Then I find some bloggers, who are probably younger than me who think that religious tolerance is the root of all evil and that in the name of "appeasing" minorities, Hindus in India are themselves subjugated. This sounds terrifyingly like propaganda used by pre-war Nazis. Some question why Hindus, whose sensibilities are apparently being walked all over in India, don't rise up and behave like mobs in the middle east reacting to events they see as threatening or insulting to Islam.

I, for one, am a devout atheist, and that alone will probably mark me with an "ignore" flag. The thinking, apparently, is that your opinions count only if you're religious. One can only hope that the said bloggers see the light that this sort of bigotry leads nowhere, and that the time is ripe for demonstrating that you can be religious and tolerant at the same time. A time to show how much better we are than those whose only solution to everything is violence.

My HT system

I moved my Onkyo HT to my room, from the living room, where I never got to use it anyway. Now I can listen to Strangelove by Depeche Mode in peace :-) I first tried just snapping a pic with the camera defaults and it looked ugly. So I decided to stop it down to f2.8 and used a shutter speed of 1/4. Lacking a tripod, I stacked some boxes on a chair, but there's still a bit of shake. I wish I had a camera capable of cable release!

Yes, that's my RV Youth Festival '99 gift clock! Boy, that was seven years ago... I'm getting old.

"Another one of those"

I hopped on over to the local Safeway to pick up some stuff, after waking up at 1 PM... Two incidents were kinda funny: first, there was this lady selling newspaper subscriptions at the door. She asked me if I wanted a subscription, and I mumbled out a "no thanks" She stopped me and asked "are you trying to quit?" I must have stood there a whole minute trying to figure out what she meant when she asked if I had a sense of humour at all :-) I made up the lame excuse that I had just woken up. Which was true...

The other incident was at the checkout. I was chatting up with the clerk (is it still politically correct to say that?) and he asked me what I do, when I replied "Graduate research assistant in double-E", he shook his head and said "hmm... another one of those" Guess we really are a dime-a-dozen.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Word!

Word: Write Letterz n shit, yo.
He he!

Google power!

While trawling around other blogs, I found a link to a compliance tester for websites, so I tried mine. Whoa, whaddya know, it tells me that a search for "Jim's Weird Wired World" on Google points to my site! I tried "Weird Wired World", mine is the fourth hit. All of which says Google's got an impressive search engine :-) On the other hand, my site seems to be popular among electrical engineering students working on their final year projects. I'm not complaining, at least I get mail from someone...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Indian Languages

I don't talk much to people, but among the few I'm lucky to meet are the guys I work with. We usually chat up on the ride to/from the radar site and during lunch about, well, all sorts of stuff. One topic that comes up quite often is language in India. It surprises them to know that there are so many spoken languages in our country, and that we're still not at each other's throats :-) Well, I guess it's for some other lunch break when I let them know about the shit that sometimes happens in Karnataka with Kannada activists doing stupid stuff like defacing buildings and signboards.

Just to set my facts straight, I headed for Wikipedia and looked up "Indian Languages". Twenty two "official" languages and 216 languages spoken by groups of 10,000 or more. Incredible! Something we should all be proud of. It shames me to say that my linguistic skills are right at the bottom of the barrel, I can only speak halting Malayalam and Kannada. I also found this article about Indian English, quite interesting. There was also this brightspark who thinks that Gujjus are the only Indians around! OK, that was mean, he was just using an example. Wow, a whole site dedicated to language in India! Cool.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Two "bash"ed keyboards later...

Linux, you either love it or you hate it. For a while now, I've been lovin' it, and to great effect! The CSU-CHILL radar site now runs on about 60% Linux, some of it is Solaris, some VMS (eek!). Lately I've had some real bad luck with getting Linux running on some old hardware we wanted to resurrect.

First, I tried to put Fedora 4 on a K6-233 with 384 MB of RAM. Seemed easy enough, pulled out the old CD drive, plugged in a DVD unit, popped in the Fedora CD, started the install. Smooth sailing until I got to copying files off the DVD. It got to about the 4th file (glibc) and then froze. Mouse pointer frozen, keyboard LEDs unresponsive. Great... so I try again, this time in text mode. Now it installs glibc just fine. I thought my worries are over and go back to my regular work. 10 minutes later, it's frozen again, at some different spot. This time, I *can* switch virtual consoles, and one has a trace dump. Ugh. I suspected the media, even though one of my colleagues installed Fedora from the same DVD onto one of our servers. So I did a media check, there were no errors. So I try again, but it crashed at a different point, but this time the screen background turned red with gibberish characters all over. I tried doing a netboot and install from FTP, that didn't help either (same sort of error). Oddly, Knoppix works just fine on the same comp. Gave up on this one pretty soon, coz it's a ratty comp anyway.

Next, we got a pair of old dual Athlon-MP machines, with a gigabyte of RAM each, on a Tyan Tiger-MP (S2460) mobo from a dismantled Beowulf cluster. The Athlon-MPs weren't the fastest on the block - 1600+ - but were more than enough for our eventual application. I tried to install it on the first box, this time I started right away in text mode. Locked up about 75% of the way through the install... rats! After fiddling with several kernel arguments and disabling all optional packages (X, Gnome, etc), I finally got the blessed thing to come up. Satisfied, I moved the comp off the desk and turned to the next one. This time, Fedora Core threw up a kernel panic almost immediately. Ugh... but then this comp's BIOS was detecting only half of the 1 GB RAM we stuffed in there. memtest86 told me that all RAM after 512 MB was bad, so I removed one DIMM. This time, Fedora installed flawlessly in graphics mode. The system came up fine, I set up the three NICs we put in there (it's gonna be a router) and everything was good. Tux seemed to be beaming down on me! The next day we got a KVM switch and some extra fans to cool the cases. I can finally boot both of the Athlon-MP comps and test out the router config etc. Or so I thought... the first comp refused to boot! AARGH! First, it just sat there after power on. No BIOS, no POST beeps, no nothing. After reseating the RAM and NICs, I tried again. It came up, and booted FC4. I did a "yum -y update" and left it for a while. After downloading 24 of 115 files, it locked up. Bummer. It rebooted once more into Linux, then hung again. After this, no amount of coaxing could get it to do anything but sit there dumbly, a whirring mass of fans. Tried removing the CPUs one at a time, no joy. Swapped RAM modules to no avail. Did everything except wave a dead chicken (we were fresh out, you see...) Finally, Dave thought it'd be best if we just buy a new mobo and CPU.

Today I started off on using Linux on a little ARM embedded control board I'm using for a project. This is fun, a tiny little chip on a board, with two DRAM chips and some Flash can run Linux! I can telnet to it, tinker around... fun! See the Technologic website for info on the TS-7250.

Considering converting my laptop to use Linux too. I use it for FPGA programming, and was therefore reluctant to switch. Now that Xilinx released ISE 8.1 for Linux with a *sane* user interface, I no longer have a need for Windows at all!

Guess what, I wear my Tux baseball hat every day!

Yuck!

I just discovered that Orange Juice is not a good mixer for rum. I know, I know, I'm not very good at this stuff, but this is really bad! Sigh, gotta go get some coke tomorrow... (grumbles)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Flash: just say NO!

Flash, the bane of the 64-bit user. Apparently, creating a VM, a scripting language and an audio output is something that requires such wizardry, nobody outside the open-source community is willing to roll them together. We got our whiny Macromedia folks saying it's too complicated to be done right away... buffalo excrement! You don't even need to release the source, just change your licensing, buddy! We'll do the rest...

Oh we've also got the Unix vendor everybody wishes they loved, Sun. They now sell Athlon64 and Opteron workstations and servers, and support Linux too. And yet there's no 64-bit Java plugin for a web browser. How hard can it be, folks? Come on...

Standards compliance is the only way forward, show your support for Open Source, do not use Flash or any proprietary plugins/formats on your site. Write to webmasters who insist on using Flash anyway.

Time flies like an arrow

I've always wondered how people manage to forget parts of their lives that leave a strong imprint. A traumatic event, a long relationship that went sour, loss... does it always keep coming back around when you're by yourself? Do you fear being by yourself just because your past comes back up to the surface when there's no "now" to distract yourself with?

Maybe reality is just the drug we need to blot out parts of our lives we'd rather forget about. Especially on days when you're absolutely sure that there's no way in hell you're going to remember what happened five minutes from now. Days when you look at your watch too often, wishing the hours to fly by, while secretly hoping they're stored away and you can claim them later with interest. Saved away, but in this case, for the occasional sunny day when the only thing that worries you is that the day has to end at some point. That's when you wish you could just reach into that store of time and pull an hour or three, kicking and struggling, back to reality. Back to where they have meaning to someone.

I dont get to hear much of what happens in people's heads, but I sometimes get a rare glimpse of someone in a similar state. It could be that it's all in my head, and even though I mean them no harm, I still sometimes wish that this is normal. Even though it shouldn't be. If only I could somehow stop reminding myself, maybe it goes away, except it never does. Months, years afterwards, it's always the same. All that can be done is make a face, grimace, punch a table or the nearest keyboard, whispering "damn" so that nobody can hear me. And yet they stay...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My trip home, part 1: the journey

After a year and a half in the US, supposedly studying, I got a chance to go home for a while. The big day was Dec. 17th, which only meant that I had a whole month to buy gifts for people at home. The usual dilemma (or is it?) followed, and I had to figure out something which was unique, useful and thoughtful all at the same time. Somehow I came up with MP3 players, which I hoped were not ubiquitous back at home.

Dad decided to get me tickets from New York to Bangalore, coz flights from anywhere else were booked solid many months back. Duh! This meant a frantic search on Orbitz for some way to get from Denver to NYC. I also wanted to meet my cousin Subhash in NY and I thought it'd be a good idea to check with him first before booking. Unfortunately, it was impossible to get him to answer his phone (I'd find out why later...), and the delay meant I had to settle for a three leg (!) flight.

My prof decided to spice up my visit by getting me to go for a conference that was in Bangalore on the 19th... the morning I land there! This meant I had to figure out how not to snore while I slept through the first day of the conference, even while I was packing... which turned out to be a hasty last-minute thing. My friend Akshay, who is a pathological CD-burner, asked me to get him a DVD writer many months back (when they were still expensive in India), and two minutes before I stepped out the door, I looked at my comp and said "damn, I forgot about the drive!" So I opened it up, pulled out the DVD writer and stuffed it into my suitcase... problem solved! So anyway, I rode the trusty old Shamrock Shuttle to Denver airport, listening to "Back to Bedlam" by James Blunt. Happy happy, joy joy!

I had a long wait at the airport, so for a while I played "Vexed" on my Palm, then I thought I'd call people I know and let them know I'm headed for India. Why this never struck me before I'll never know... called my other cousin John in Salt Lake City. I introduced myself as "your cousin Jim, the one who never calls!" I also spoke to Div for a long time. I dunno, somehow I always associate airports with calling her. Even though I really shouldn't.

The first leg was from Denver to Washington. They showed Little Manhattan on the flight, cute, but I watched the first half with no sound coz I couldn't figure out how to plug in my earphones without waking up the lady in the next seat. Anyway, at Washington I made an interesting observation: almost everyone working at the airport was either Haitian or from the Dominican Republic. This really is strange if you've lived for so long in a small town like Fort Collins! Had a nice hot cappuccino and tried not to fall asleep. Two hours later, I was ready to board this tiny little Canadair jet. I was one of seven people on board, headed for Raleigh. One short hop later, I had a hard time finding my way around the Raleigh/Durham airport, where a lot of construction was going on. I finally found out that I needed to be in the other terminal, and the only way to get there was to walk... and unless I ran, I'd miss the flight! So that's what I did, bags bouncing along behind me. This was another Canadair jet to NYC, but this time it was packed solid. Anyway, at NY, I had lots of time to kill, so I got chatting with a few other passengers who were waiting for the same flight.

Finally, after almost seven hours, I got onto the Air India flight to Bangalore.... woohoo! The guy next to me was a doctor, we spoke for a while but mostly slept through the flight. At the stopover in London, the stoopid Heathrow guys made us get off the plane, go through a security check, then get right back on! It was a 1.5 hr stop, they could've just let us hang around the gate... anyway, that gave me a chance to get some Toblerone :) The second leg of the flight was just as uneventful, slept through most of it. The feeling I got stepping off the plane at Bombay was... depressing. It must be the lights or the humidity, but something about that airport gives it this grubby feel. I mentioned this to my doctor friend, and he seemed offended, he took it to mean that I had somehow become too snobbish after staying in the US. Sigh... The security check at Bombay was a bit funny, too. This guy standing at the entrance to the security plaza with a rifle says something to me in Hindi which I don't understand. When I gave him a puzzled look, he gives me a bunch of luggage tags and sort of grunts. Hmm... anyway, to keep him happy, I put the tags on. When there are so many rather jobless looking people inside the security plaza with apparently nothing else to do, why can't they put the tags on for passengers instead of this slipshod treatment? Anyway, I got on the plane and finally, two hours later, reached Bangalore at 3:00 AM. The customs lady asked me if I have a laptop, pointing to my backpack. I said yes, she wants to know if it's an old one. I nod my head. Then she asks "how many laptops?" Geez, are people that rich these days?

Anyway, I got out of the terminal hoping to see Dad, but nobody was there! Hmm... so I called him from a nearby phone booth, and he says they had a sign up that said my flight was going to arrive at 7:30 AM, so he went back home! Man, these guys can be jackasses! He drove back to the airport and I finally managed to get back home, almost 50 hours after I left my apartment in Fort Collins!

Ze first one!

Alright, I bit the bullet, got me one of these. Let's see how long I can maintain it!