Archive > December 2003

Happy 2004!

31 December 2003 » In Other » 1 Comment

Happy 2004 New Year, everybody!

Armed With an Almanac

30 December 2003 » In Rants » 6 Comments

When I saw this story on the front page of Yahoo!, I could hardly believe my eyes. To summarize:

The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

This is rapidly approaching the crest of ridiculous and crossing over into land of idiotic. Almanacs? Yes, the level of precipitation in Guam or who won the Emmy for best sycophant in 1962 are really dangerous facts to know. Let’s up the stakes: put the passport control at the library entrances, outlaw tourist guides (buh-bye Frommer’s, Fodor’s, and the like), immediately arrest those with Farmer’s Almanacs (weather forecasting is the domain of Homeland Security), and remove any sort of map installation that says “You are here”. That’ll stop them. They’ll think twice about picking up a copy of Webster’s too. At this point, the goverment’s efforts to stop terrorism remind me of a person who thinks a bee is about to sting them – spasmically waving hands, trying to shoo the insect away, and wreaking havoc on everything and everyone around them. Whatever will come next…

Shaky ground

22 December 2003 » In Bay Area, Work » 4 Comments

Last Friday I got moved into a new cube. I have one all to myself, finally! This morning while setting up the cube I felt the building shake gently – and being used to that from my days at FAST, where the trucks passing on route 128 regularly affected the foundational equanimity of the building – did not pay much attention to it. But, turns out it was a fairly significant earthquake in central California, near San Simeon, about 6.4 in magnitude. Wow, my first quake since moving here.


11 December 2003 » In Tech » 2 Comments

At one of the pubs in London – The Ship, I think – we heard a song that seemed familiar but we could not come up with the name. So Darren said, “Watch this”, and dialed 2580 on his mobile. After the connection was established he held the phone up and waited. In 30 seconds the other side hung up and in a few minutes Darren got an SMS from that number. It was the song, identified – “Get Off” by Dandy Warhols. I was amazement personified.
Apparently, this service is called Shazam. It’s not expensive at all (50 pence for every confirmed song) and they have a database of 1.6 million tracks, plus it keeps a history of the songs you requested identification for on their website, so you can come back and see the list at any time. Now that is a clever application of mobile technology. I would definitely pay to use something like this.

The Tale of Two Cities

10 December 2003 » In Travel » 4 Comments

Sometimes the best things happen in the most spontaneous way. I was supposed to go to London to work out the project plan with the UK engineers there. Originally, we planned it for middle of November, but the visit of Mr. Bush there resulted in enough disruption that we had to postpone until the week of Thanksgiving. “Well”, I thought, “since I have to work on Thanksgiving and I have 2 floating holidays that I need to use before the end of the year, maybe I can combine all the vacation days and work out a quick trip somewhere nearby… Paris!”
Yes, Paris, that fabled City of Light.. I have heard much about it from my parents and friends, and I seized this opportunity to see it with my own eyes. I stayed there from Nov 19 until Nov 25, with no particular plan of action; every morning I would sit in a cafe, having coffee and pain aux raisin or pain aux chocolate and figure out what I wanted to do. Of course, I went to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tour, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, and the rest of the tourist staples, but I also walked a lot every day, exploring the arrondissements (the districts), sitting by a fountain here, window shopping there, stopping for lunch at the wonderful outdoor cafes, grabbing a banana-nutella crépe from a street vendor.. That is the only way to get a feel for the new city, in my opinion.
Some good places in Paris to go to for food and drink:

  • Aux Trois Maillets, an excellent jazz bar, very friendly and non-assuming
  • Les Bookinistes, owned by Guy Savoy, serves up delectable cuisine and exceptionally friendly and pleasant service
  • China Club, good place to relax and chat with friends or listen to jazz in the upstairs room. The bartender there really knows his stuff!
  • These guides that helped me get around Paris:

    On morning of Nov 25 I took the Eurostar high-speed train to London. I had not been there previously either, and obviously, I did not have much free time in that city, but I still managed to see a few sights and go on a pub crawl with the UK guys. If you visit London, check out The Porterhouse in Covent Garden – they have 200 draught and bottled, and also the largest collection of beers on display that I have seen, over 10,000 of them. If you bring in a full bottle of beer and they don’t have it yet, you get a free drink and they put it in their collection.
    The pictures from the trip are here.

    Erase, Rewind

    02 December 2003 » In Other » 1 Comment

    This must be the coolest clock I have seen anywhere online. Make sure you have Flash installed.