Saturday, September 11, 2010

Home Improvement

Imagine moving every single thing from a 1000 sq foot apartment into an already furnished 900 sq foot apartment. That's exactly what happened when Anu's things arrived a couple of weeks ago. I've always wondered what it would be like to live in an RV for an extended period. Well, now I have some idea...

We've spent the last few days throwing out stuff. Every item, however small was scrutinized and given away or disposed of if it did not meet the bar. Multiple trips to Ikea were made to purchase various storage solutions that we so desperately needed. Our perseverance paid off. After two long weeks the house finally looks presentable.

On the work front, things have been getting busier as we sink our teeth into features for the next product cycle - SQL Server 2011. With multiple deadlines in October and November, it looks like we are in for a hard slog before the holiday season.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Road Trip!

Just got back from a cross-country road trip from Boston to Seattle. My girlfriend was relocating to the Seattle area and we decided to drive! It turned out to be a great decision. We got to visit Chicago, Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Devil's Tower, Big Horn National Forest, Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park on the way. It was an amazing experience.

Yellowstone was obviously the highlight of the trip. It is a stunningly diverse park with something for everyone - Geysers, hot springs, wildlife, rock formations, lakes, mountains. We were only able to spend a day and a half in the area but were still lucky enough to spot huge herds of bison, a grizzly bear and mountain goats.

Glacier National Park was all about the aptly named "Going to the Sun" road with very scenic mountain views for the entire 50 mile stretch. We traversed the road both ways since the views can differ dramatically.

I've added a few pictures from the trip below. (Not too many for fear of boring my limited audience. :-) ).Talking of pictures, I'm still kicking myself for not getting a camera with a more powerful zoom (Ours was a supbar 3X) before setting out on this trip. For everyone wanting to photograph wildlife, I would strongly recommend a camera with atleast a 10x zoom.

I've now visited 31 states in the US! Here's to 50 in the next 3 years. :-)

Old Faithful erupting

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Yellowstone Lake

Lake Sylvan

Middle Geyser Basin, Yellowstone

Grizzly Bear


Mountain Goats

Mount Rushmore

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hurricane Ridge

I just got started with customizing the new base template. Check out the Bing search box on the top right and the second sidebar on the left.

Yesterday, a few friends and I drove up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. We ended up having to wait for a couple of hours for a ferry. I was a little puzzled at first because I had made the same trip with my girlfriend last year in the middle of July (Yes, that was a Saturday too) and there was no rush. Then realization struck. It must be the improving economy I figured. :-)

The view from the top of Hurricane ridge was worth the long wait though. I enjoyed the scenery and the hike just as much as I did the first time. If I had to pick one picture to describe yesterday's trip, it would be this:

Sunday, July 04, 2010

A New Beginning..

The fourth of July brings me back to this blog. Why? Because I was suddenly reminded of the fact that I started this blog on July 4th 2005. It has been five 'short' years and I'm back for a fresh start. Going through my older posts, I marvel at how much I've grown up during this period. Let's see what the 2010 - 2015 period has in store for this blog. (Hopefully, more posts than the 45 I managed over the last five years.. :-)..)

Work has been going really well. We shipped PowerPivot in the middle of May. In a nutshell, PowerPivot is a self-service Business Intelligence tool that helps excel users analyze very large(or small) data sets and allows them to create amazing visual reports based on their analysis.

Now that we've shipped, I've been able to take a break and recharge while we plan for the next release. Visited India last month and had a great time meeting family and friends.

This has been a nice and relaxing weekend so far. Played some tennis, watched the Wimbledon finals, did a little cooking, caught up with a few friends over the phone.. and signed up for Twitter! ( ID: leoncyril )

Happy Fourth of July! God bless America.. and India.. and every other country in the world. :-)

PS: Please bear with the new template for now. I know my previous customized template was far better, but I had to upgrade to be able to use some features offered by Blogger. Will get around to customizing the new one shortly.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Photosynth rocks!

Ever since Photosynth was released to the public in the second half of 2008, I have been wanting to try this out. A trip to St. Louis while visiting my sister for Easter gave me a chance to create a memorable synth of the city from the top of the Gateway Arch.

Check it out! Select 'View synth in Direct3D viewer' for the best experience.

Unfortunately, I was unable to create a synth of the Gateway Arch itself. It was too huge and I simply did not have the equipment to do justice to this magnificent piece of architecture.

Hopefully, this is the first of many synths that I will share on this blog.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

India - Dec 2008

I recently returned from a trip to India. Some random musings:

- The new airport at Hyderabad was impressive.

- I would trade all the 'Starbucks' and 'Dunkin Donuts' in the world to have a 'Coffee Day' in Seattle.

- I'm driving slower with each passing year. (Much to the relief of my passengers)

- I walked into a bank and watched helplessly while 10 people pushed past me to get ahead in the line. I seem to have lost my ability to push back.

- Each time I walked out of an Indo-Chinese restaurant, I contemplated quitting my job and settling down in India.

- Trains now have power outlets for Laptops. suddenly I prefer a train to long flights. :-)

- Kerala has more water than land.

- I'm convinced that Kanyakumari is the windiest city in the World. (Yes, even windier than Chicago)

- The highlight of the vacation was a day on board a Houseboat. It was thoroughly relaxing and refreshing.

- Beggars make me more uncomfortable with each passing year. I even cited this as a reason for taking a flight instead of the train. My point being: Why feel bad when you can't do anything about it. My Dad's response: The more you are in touch with reality, the more likely it is that you will do something about it someday when and if you can. Can't say I disagree with that.

- It was great to spend Christmas at Home after three years!

- Nothing beats meeting up with very close friends you haven't seen in a while.

- Discovered that all the 'Ready to eat' foods I brought back with me should actually be called 'Ready to throw'.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Formal World

The modern day definition of a smile seems to be: " Stretch your lips in each direction until your two front teeth are visible. Hold for one second. Bring lips back to original position.".. An alternate definition (Presumably for people who are too lazy to visit their dentist) would be: "Stretch your lips to the maximum extent possible without having to open your mouth. Hold for one second. Bring lips back to original position." The other day, a flight attendant 'smiled' at me.. and that put paid to any hopes I had of catching some sleep on the flight. I knew I would only have nightmares of vampires.

There's also this habit we have of saying 'Hi' to all and sundry. I don't know about you but it puts immense pressure on me. I live with the constant fear that I would forget to wish somebody and that they would then pierce pins into a voodoo doll to exact revenge. It also makes me wonder if I did something wrong when somebody else forgets to wish me. "Hmm.. did I forget to acknowledge their contribution at the team meeting? Did I forget to ask how their vacation was?" And in the process promptly forget to wish the next person passing me.

Moving on to a question that really throws me: 'How are you?'.. It has taken a while to realise that people are not really interested in hearing about my recent visit to the doctor or about my fantastic road trip when they direct this question at me. My initial ' Hey, you asked for it, so take it ' response has now been adapted to the universally accepted 'good/fine' response. But is any other answer even a possibility? Would someone who just returned from a wonderful vacation answer the question any differently from someone who has been sick the whole week or even a person who has just been diagonised with a terminal disease? Probably not.

It is only right to place 'Thank You' at the end. No points for guessing why.. Every trivial action must end with 'Thank You'. This rule is consistent enough to become Newton's fourth law. I wonder if we realise that when we thank someone for getting out of our way, we are actually thanking them for not colliding with us! which they would not want to do anyway, at least not unless we were Aishwarya Rai (I would prefer Kajol myself, but I'm vastly outnumbered here) or Brad Pitt.

Nothing emphasizes my point more than an email exchange:

A to B:

Hi B,

I have a question. Thanks in advance for (......).

(.. Question here ..)

Thanks again.


B replies:

Hi A,

Thanks for asking me this question.

(.. answer ..)


("Thanks in advance" is actually a cool trick.. After all, once you have been 'thanked' for something, you HAVE to get it done. :-))

All jokes aside, it seems to me that the more civilized we become, the more formal we get. (Which explains why the United States is a far more formal society than India.) Somehow as we progress towards becoming a tolerant society, we seem to need reassurances in the form of 'wishes' and 'thanks'. But when this is overdone it leaves a sour taste in the mouth.