Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Texas Hold 'Em and Omaha Hi Lo

Played Poker for the first time last night. My office crew plays once every two weeks and I go most times but end up just dealing and not playing. Last night Noddy was with me and we decided to play. We played two versions - Hold 'Em with two cards and Hi Lo with four.

So here we were, after three hands, down twenty dollars and playing with another twenty. Some of the players were high betters so if you lost, you lost big. Our losing streak was interrupted by a game of craps which Noddy didn't care for very much at all. Anyway, after that the losing streak continued and we were down to our last three dollars and fifty cents which we went all in with. Whoa !!! We won that hand ... well actually Noddy won cos she was the one playing. It was a Flush in the Hi Lo version of that game. As I said, the bets were high since some players always bet big. We won back 4o so we were essentially even for the night. Noddy played a few more hands that we lost and we walked away only 10 under for about 3 hours of fun !! Not bad at all. We're probably going to play again. Will keep you posted on our luck with gambling.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A working holiday?

I still want to know what exactly is the purpose of a holiday? Everytime I take one, work at home or errands seem to catch up on me. The past three days have been spent on home improvement. Curtains and drapes for all rooms of this home - four rooms in all. They look magnificient and kingly. All curtains were hand made in India and come complete with linings for the outside (view from outside) and sheer material for the inside (view from within the home). But it was a lot of work. The lining is very very heavy and the extensible double curtain rod from Linens N Things is probably at it's edge trying to hold that heavy lining up, even with it's center support. So you can imagine. The rod and it's support are flimsy though, so not all is to be blamed on the curtains. I shall post pictures and point you readers to that location soon.

Still checking out NY Eve parties locally. There's one hosted by KissFM ( a Clear Channel Radio station). Might go to that. Price is steep but probably worth it - $25 per head. Tonight we head to Dave and Busters with the crew - four couples in all. It's a pretty neat place to have fun. I've always enjoyed my time there.

Dad got upset when I didn't return his phone call to my home phone and my cell phone within a 12 hour timeframe. This is what ticks me off about some people. They call on one phone, then the next and then the third ...until you finally pick up and you find out that all they wanted to do was say HI . C'mon!! Leave a goddamn message and drop it. If it's urgent shout and scream in the message or do your thing of calling on multiple phones. But if you're checking to see what we're going to have for breakfast, for heavens sake just try one phone. Someone somewhere should write this down as a part of some phone etiquette book.

My heating bill for December is going to be very close to my annual bonus. The gas fireplace has been used very very frequently and being confined in home due to the snowstorm means the entire house always stayed heated at 71 F. Don't know why that odd number is my comfort temperature. Noddy's is 73 F. I choke at 73 F.

When work resumes I shall have to recover from my jetlag and roll back my clock a full five hours. I am sleeping at 3 am constantly during the vacation. That won't do when work starts back next week. Argh !! That thought is so frustrating in itself.


Friday, December 24, 2004

A white Christmas

First the bad part:

So here we are, on vacation since Wednesday. A snow storm hits Ohio on Wednesday and into Thursday. It dumps about 15 inches of snow on the average. I have shoveled my driveway twice. One and a half hour each time. Since ours is a new constructions, apparently the county does not believe anybody lives here yet because they have NOT CLEARED OUR STREET !!!!!! Argh this is so frustrating. We're stuck in home for 3 days now. The outside temperature tonight is -7 F. Whatever happened to global warming? Where did that go? We need snow to go away from here forever. I hate snow or at least living in snow. Now that Christmas is here, I don't expect any cleaning on this street until well past Monday. So we are effectively locked in till then. What a brilliant use of a vacation. I hope snow burns ... I really hope it dies a horrible death.

and now the good part:

I'm stuck at home with Noddy. You cannot imagine how much this is a blessing. She's of course brilliant company and puts up with my crankiness. I love her beyond all reason. And she cooks the most fabulous food and loves cooking....which means I get a 24/7 buffet. Well not really 24, but more like 18/7 buffet. But I am so glad I'm not alone and I'm with someone like Noddy. If I were stuck with someone idiotic like me....we'd be divorced by now. Thank God for sane people. I am so happy I'm stuck here with a sense this helps.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

End of Work

Work has ended for the year. It was personally a very satisfying year. I've done more work in terms of responsibility this year than I have done before. I expect the next year to bring more responsibilities and higher challenges. That's because my superiors recognize that I feed on that. I feed on anything that's harder to do than what I'm doing. Bring me a computer on which our application does not work well and I'd be glad to spend hours on it getting it to work. It's an addiction that has thankfully stayed on the good side of sanity and not taken over my life. I think I like it that way and will keep it that way.

A Merry Christmas to Puppetainer and Jody. Let me know ( via comments) what y'all did this Holiday season.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Winding down the work

Got called into an unexpected emergency customer situation at work on Friday. Barely spent 10 minutes at the annual company Christmas luncheon. But it's always satisfying to help the customer overcome their crisis.

Noddy's last day at work was today. She had a reorganization at work and now she's got a new boss - someone she hates with her innermost guts. So we shall see how this situation works out. She loves the company and the work. But under this guy she is going to be stuck in a rut for as long as she works for him.

The holiday spirit is growing on us now and we're cleaning the home, decorating here and there and plan on putting up the tree tomorrow.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Drive like a MAD Santa !!

Before driving in the United States (starting in 2000), I had driven cars in Bombay for six years. If you've ever driven in NYC, you might be familiar with certain basic rules of big city driving but here's a quick primer:

1) Horns are installed on a car for a reason. Use them. A good horn costs somewhere between $150-$1000 installed. So why not use them on slow drivers, or just as a means of saying Hi to other drivers.

2) Brakes are made of brake-pads. Brake pads are replaceable. So make sure you use your current set of brakes completely before you are forced to replace them. Therefore brake hard and brake often.

3) Red lights are to warn you about traffic that might potentially be moving in a direction across from you. There's no need to stop at a red light, but make sure you look in either direction and slow down to show appropriate courtesy before you proceed.

4) Stop signs are for the weak. A 4-way stop sign is a test of brute strength between four drivers. You have to come ahead by avoiding eye contact with the other three drivers and proceeding in your direction without caring for who's turn it is to occupy the intersection.

Anyway, what I was getting at is that my initial driving years were spent in a city with rules such as the above. In Bombay we also had other exciting and challenging dynamics such as stray dogs, people, the occasional sleeping but much-revered cow and trucks that look like they will fall apart any moment.

Today, all those memories came back to me. We had to go shopping to the mall. Initially I was trying to get accustomed to the amount of cars near the mall and the fact that the only way to make a left turn on a green light was to wait for that light to turn red. Very soon, basic instincts took over. While Noddy clung on desperately to the passenger side door handle wondering if she should really bother to shop if we were going to soon be in an accident, I was starting to drive like I would in Bombay. For once I felt free. I felt like I had nothing to care about, no courteous behavior and no giving way to other oddities that claim to be drivers. I was so happy that I declared myself to be a Mad Santa. I cut lots of drivers, made two U-turns on double yellow lines and caused one driver to honk madly at me at Walmart when I honked at him and cut him off ( it was his fault - really!!). By evening I was too tired to drive crazy but I think I spent the day less stressed than I would've been if I had driven courteously in this mad rush of Christmas gremlins and green monsters.

Ho(nk)-Ho(nk)-Ho(nk) !!!!

Friday, December 10, 2004

The DVD Hackmen

So Noddy gets these DVD's from India. Not pirated - very original. They are cheap and have the same quality as here. The problem is to get them to work on DVD players here i.e. Region 1 encoded players. India falls under a different region obviously.

I've looked into hacking into my Apex AD800 months ago. I just didn't want to do it because it involved firmware upgrades. This time I figured, Oh what the heck... all I might lose is a DVD player that is so cheap that my monthly cell phone bill is higher. And there's always the original firmware you can restore this back.

Noddy, is the expert hacker since she already hacked a DVD player while she was in India. That one did not involve a firmware upgrade. It was a sequence of going through hidden menus and enabling the right stuff. Noddy went to various Yahoo groups and finally figured out the group we needed - an Apex AD800 discussion group. Found the firmware, saw how to upgrade, created the ISO CD and in 15 minutes, we became proud owners of a player that can play DVD's from Pango Pango!!!

The week has been extremely hectic. A very very long work week and personally I'm glad it's over. Being in rainy Ohio makes me happy but makes everyone else very sad around here. They hate the dull weather. I am okay with it because the rain has kept snow at bay and that's what I want.

Next week is more critical than this one but should not be equally hectic. I love you all who read this and hope y'all have ( or had, if you're reading this Monday) a good weekend.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Slowly up and then quickly down

You know how you hear about movie stars and politicians who's reputation dips overnight - a reputation that they spent years earning. Well apparently, that is not restricted to those big guys alone.

Happened to me yesterday. I usually don't mess up real bad at work and am known to have a high quality of software that I deliver. Well yesterday, I wasn't exactly that. In fact I was nowhere close to that. I delivered the most shitty installation package to QA that I have EVER made. Nothing that was working before, worked in this package, let alone new things that were packaged.

And it didn't take long for people to start off jokingly and then spend the entire day making snide remarks about the quality of the package and how I might be here all night blah blah blah. Someone asked me what my schedule is between now and December 21st when the customer deliverable is due. And I said, "Well I plan on continuing to package" ...meaning that I will create more packages with more stuff for the customer. That comment was appended by someone with the words, "... until you get it right?". Now add those two lines together and you've got a not so nice comment about your abilities.

So like I said, I spent three years creating a reputation of being a quality developer. And I had to spend eight hours to ruin it for the most part. Next time I make a package, believe me it is going to be taken very cautiously because of this one f*** up as opposed to people looking at what I've developed so far.

What am I whining about? I still get paid, don't I ? Isn't that why I really should be showing up at my job as opposed to wanting to be good in what I do?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Ever happened to you?

This has happened a million times to me but here goes:

So I want to get into work before 8 am (cos that's just a benchmark I keep). I use the inner roads instead of using the highway or main streets. I do this to avoid SUV's who think that the highway is a way you use for driving when you're high. Main streets have too many lights and too many school buses in the morning. I hate this stupid American thing about halting traffic in every fricking direction when someone gets on a school bus. Seriously, what are the odds of a kid running away from the bus and INTO traffic. When a bus halts at a kerb, the kid gets in .. and the rest of the stopped traffic watches this miracle.

Anyway, not to digress from the point of this post. I get onto this inner road with one lane per direction, that takes me straight to work. Speed limit - 30 mph for 2 miles, 35 mph for 2 miles, 25 mph for 2 miles. As I get onto this road, I begin to notice that the car ahead of me is going a tad below 30 mph. Now there are two reasons for that - old man or old woman. Reading the license plate closely, it said "PT GRANY". And that right there told me that I might as well forget about making it to work before 8 a.m. I keep following her and then I see that ahead of her is ANOTHER pt cruiser and that one is going at speed limit as well. Hmm- I never used this road exactly at speed limit and it seems way slower than if you were, say, 5 miles above.

After what seems like eternity 'PT GRANY' decides to make a left turn and I am now behind the first pt cruiser. It continues to go that way and I'm just left with nothing to do except follow granny. Lo and behold - a school bus. And what's more, it picks up two children. So naturally, we're all stopped.

So my morning ride was comprised of a highly frustrating low speed chase of two grannies driving PT cruisers and a school bus ahead. I did eventually get out of their way (since there was no way that they were going to get out of mine).

Boy was this frustrating beyond everything!!!

Monday, December 06, 2004

The "Christmas" month

At RCS, my workplace, most people have the following work patterns:

January - 70% capacity i.e. 28 productive hours a week. Recovering from the holiday season.

February through October - 75% capacity i.e. 30 productive hours a week. Idea is don't stretch yourself too much else you'll burn out before holiday season.

November - 70% capacity. Trying to make sure the preparation for holiday season goes well.

December - 50% capacity. Work? What work? I thought December was the month off !! We gotta put up the tree (which takes 5 QA women - I never knew that) and then every employee has to bring a decoration that represents them (how do I bring "pissed-off") and then we have to donate things to this and that (can I donate a few employees? There are no tax breaks but that's still a good thing).

That results in an overall per employee per month productivity figure of 72.5% i.e. 29 hours a week.

So you can imagine how well the company's money is being put to use. Employees are paid to goof off and that's highly appreciated (if their reviews are anything to go by). At this point, people like me wonder - why bust your ass? For more money ? For recognition? Eventually these perks, which by the way, we don't have much of anyhow, fade away and the lethargy around you starts gnawing at your own abilities to do work. That results in me picking up headphones and listening to music at ear-drum-damaging volume just so that I can tone out the uselessness around me and try to stay above the unproductivity curve.

What totally sucks is that I'm sure that most companies probably operate at these kind of efficiency levels anyway.....except probably Google Inc. but I'd never want to work there anyway.

I better stop blogging .. I have to put in my 29.6 hours this week!!! That'll keep me just above average.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Day 12 Wednesday December 1st 2004

The last month of the year is here. The countdown to holidays begins. My last day at work is December 21st. That means I only have 14 more workdays left this year. Not bad, eh??

On the other hand, that's scary because I have so many things that I need to wrap up at work before that. 14 days is just not enough but I'm going to have to play with the cards I'm dealt.

Cards reminds me - I played poker today with the RCS gang. More importantly, I also played Craps. Anyone played craps? I think I like it more than poker. It's all mathematical for the dealer since the payouts are different based on the bets. But it's so much fun trying to keep up with the bets and the payouts. I'm going to master being dealer at craps. One more thing added to my do-before-you-die list.

Day 11 Tuesday November 30th 2004


Today is Cleanup Day Part -1 . I have to restore the house to proper working order before Noddy gets back. Not that it is broken or anything but it looks like a 4x100 metres hurdle race. You gotta step over things if you want to get anywhere. If you need to find anything start from the kitchen because most things are seen there last.

Okay if I give out anymore details she will kill me. Best to not dig my own grave too deep.