Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Jalaga"

means leech in telugu. I have several distinct memories of my mom using the term to refer to me (no, not in any affectionate way, I might add). Mostly because I never let go of anything I had set my mind on.

It's time for me to reawaken the leech within!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Never

ever take out your space-bar on a mac powerbook.

EVER.

and please, no snide comments about other (ugly) laptops, please.

PLEASE.

P.S: and AFTER all that, I found this here.

"I just repaired my space bar on a powerbook. It had developed some unresponsive spots, probably due to particles that had become lodged under it. It took me four attempts, good light, and a pair of tweezers.

Probably as part of the removal process or earlier attempts, all three of the little plastic ring/lever constructs under the space bar had become out-of-joint (the little things that stick out on the sides weren't in the little holes that they were usually in). I didn't notice at first, but it's clearly visible if you know what to look for. The white plastic thingies required removing from their metal holders, rejoining into each other, and reinsertion into the metal holders.

To stick the two white plastic rings into one another: the little plugs go into the little holes. There are two ways of doing that - one right, one wrong (with the ring flipped over). You know you've got it right when the resulting two-ring construct lies flat, as if it were cut out of one sheet of plastic.

To insert the double-O ring back into the metal holder: first, slip the side that faces you under its latch, then insert the two hooks into the metal holders on each side. This is where you really want that pair of tweezers.

The large piece of wire under the space bar is in two halves. I left the upper half attached to the space bar and slid it under its metal latches on both ends. The lower half I detached from the space bar and inserted into matching holes on either side of the keyoard tray, pushing up the upper half (it has a little room to move until it slides out of the latch again.)

I then pressed the space bar flat on the keyboard tray, and everything just kind of clicked into place. Yay, space bar!"


Bleddy hell. Well, atleast I did it right, it seems.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Clumsy

Doing something foolish, unintentionally upsetting someone, then falling over yourself and sending long-winded messages to apologise and set things right. Why do you have to set things right always? You know, sometimes, you've just goofed up beyond repair. So shut up and deal with it. What makes you're so deserving of being able to offer an explanation or make amends? It's very irritating and only exacerbates the situation.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On criticism

There's no room in science for niceties. You need to learn to take criticisms less personally- stop being defensive and use what you can get out of it.  So if I stand over your shoulder, and correct you, be thankful- nobody did that for me and I learned the hard way. (And yeah, there will be plenty of things for you to learn that way too) I am not responsible for taking care of your feelings or ego  if I have to train you to be a competent scientist. Sorry. Grow up. Thank-you.

p.s:  yeah, the posting won't necessarily stop, thanks to email ;).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

BLOCKED!

I've blocked bloglines, blogspot and other waste of time domains on my
home network. Sorry for not answering comments, it will stay this way
for a while now. Time is slipping by and I am slowly reaching the "not
even a miracle can help" phase. Pray for me, kind people. God, FSM,
whatever you fancy.

sigh.

p.s: posted via email in case you're wondering. ;)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Confession

So, in a hypothetical situation- if you get an anonymous note from someone you don't know, asking to meet with you, I am thinking you would be quite freaked out. Even more so if both you and the writer of the note maintain anonymous existences. Well- I recently did the sort of equivalent of this in blogworld-and am feeling a bit silly. I want to confess, if the recipient of my note ever got my message and found it creepy- that was not the intention. It came off all wrong. All I wanted was to establish communication over email- just to ask a few innocent questions- about an organisation and a city you may be associated with (so says my statcounter). I am not some sick psycho stalker who leaves anonymous messages. I did not mean to write a note that looked like one of those "you don't know me, but khopche mein mil". :p. That too from one female to another. :) And I did not intend to compromise on your anonymity or harass you about your identity, in case you got that feeling. Thousand apologies if I freaked you out.
Whew! now I finally got that out of my system. :-)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Calling all men

I speed-read falstaff' s post here and I mostly agree. Sitting back and saying women "shouldn't have to suffer" is idealistic, and doesn't help. Solutions have to be sought or better defined. Obviously, it's easier said than done, and it's a still-evolving movement. The protests/making noise are but ways of empowerment- since the struggle is largely about that.

However, I see more efforts by men (in the form of long, well-thought rants, for example) at fault-finding in the ways that women protest, and very little to actually eliminate/reform the root cause. Sexist as it might sound, such posts seem almost "armchair-critic-esque" to me . It would be ideal if well-intentioned progressive men actually went out and tried to , for example, educate the male population at large. How come that never happens? How come all the flaws are pointed out in the ways of protest, the terms of protest, but nobody discusses as passionately the education of and/or punishment to the perpetrators? (besides those feminists shouting hoarse, of course)

Women are constantly fighting the problem, and yes, they have not arrived at the most fool-proof, ideal, balanced solutions, but you can't blame them. And while constructive criticism and calling out extreme approaches is as important, give women the credit to realise the errors in their approaches as they go along, and fix them. Meanwhile, fuel your efforts towards addressing the root cause, not the victims. I'd love to see lots of strong, open minded men taking to the streets and protesting against sexual harassment, picking out the offenders in public, raising their voice every time they witness an act, and thus show their support. Not only in telling the women where and how their protests are wrong or what words to keep or remove from their slogans. How is that helping? I look forward to the day a blogathon would link posts by men where they detail how they raised their voice against sexual harassment in public, in their real life. Utopian idealism?

By chance


I was waiting at the airport, working away on my laptop, on last minute corrections to a paper I was co-authoring. I was off to my sister's for just a day- but had to carry my work with me, just because of this paper and associated deadline. I noticed a family with three cute kids across from me. Kids catch my attention very easily, and of course, I stopped working and started playing with the kids. The parents didn't seem to mind and so it went on. But the father kept eying my backpack- it was a bit disconcerting. We got on the same flight, and the father (lets call him D) and I got chatting. He asked me what I did, and when I told him- he said he was interested in my backpack because it had the logo of some IT conference on it, and was wondering if I worked in the IT field. Oh! no, it is my dad's that I mooched off, (since he doesn't have a laptop I figured he wouldn't need the nice backpack) I replied. We got talking, and he happened to have been to the very same conference, and it turned out that my dad and he worked in very related areas. So we exchanged emails, I put him in touch with my dad, and they exchanged a few mails. A year or more later, D was off to India for a trade show, and said he'd love to meet up with my dad. My dad made the trip to Delhi, caught up with his old friends there, met D, and I got a little package in the bargain. The music is beautiful and refreshing. And it is amazing how a desi plastic bag and a mithai dabba can make one all happy. That's why I love coincidences.

P.S: All don't put nazar on my mithai!!! (lavang latika if you need to know which) Already I have eaten one too many and stomach pain is coming! :o

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Quote of the season

"What the mind of man can conceive and believe, It can achieve."
-Napoleon Hill

Monday, March 05, 2007

:(

The morning brought sad news about one of my closest friends - about a terminated pregnancy. Later today, good news from another very close friend- about a baby on it's way! Cruel ironies these are- and to be honest- my tears of joy at the good news were tinged with tears of sadness from the earlier news.


No comments, because I know how hard it is to find anything appropriate to say at such times.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Anti-rant

So here's a bit of boring background that I was too pissed to write about then. I have been a T.A (teaching assistant) through most of my time in grad-school - 9 out of 12 semesters. It was something I knew I was getting into when I picked my current lab to work in an area that was quite outside of my advisor's realm of interest. For the past few years, my teaching evaluations have been stellar, and a prof I taught for suggested that I should be nominated for a T.A award last year. Each department gets to put forth only one nomination for this University-wide award. The department screwed up my nomination and it didn't go out in time. With more teaching experience than anyone else, and such good evaluations, I was pretty bummed when I realised the goof-up and saw someone else get the award. Anyways, I got lots of apologies from those concerned with a promise that they would make sure my nomination went in this year. When the time came this year, I found out I was no longer eligible for the award, because of some new stupid rule that the University had implemented and that's when I kicked the walls and ranted here.

So much for background, there were other important things to do and I let it go, but not before bitching about it to my advisor during a particularly bad day. She really had no business in this, but took it upon herself to see that my application got a fair chance. She approached whichever committees where involved and explained to them how the new rule was unreasonable, how I missed the boat earlier for no fault of mine, and successfully got my nomination in. Getting nominated itself was an honour and I was really grateful to see my advisor take up my cause, when she need not really have. A couple months later, today, I got a letter in the mail saying I had been awarded the "Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award"! Yeah! am very happy to see recognition for my effort and for all those pains my advisor took.

All of this got me thinking about my advisor. It is quite rare that a mentor-student relationship is the most hunky-dory, especially over 5 - 6 years of graduate school. My closest friends during my early grad school years got to hear the most of my rants about my advisor. At first I was too young and junior to openly revolt, so I stressed out, bitched, cried, and all that. Later on I got more upfront, verbalised my disagreements with her, (which went surprisingly well), but for the most part, I'd still have to be wary and pick my battles, and eventually just developed a thick skin and didn't let things get me down any more. In spite of her being a very demanding person, a perfectionist to an overbearing extent and ostensibly unreasonable on several occasions, I discovered over time that I didn't really have it that bad. For one, I have done really well for myself in graduate school. Her picky nature and absolute ruthlessness was what made me an excellent and confident speaker, and I had some great exposure in presenting my work at several meetings, winning awards each time. She pushed me to my limits, and it worked out to my advantage. While I may not entirely agree with her teaching philosophy, I was beginning to see a method to her madness as I went along. And when downtimes hit, she has always been amazingly encouraging, reminding me to critically evaluate the data for what it was, not what I wanted it to be.

Life in grad-school cannot be dissociated from personal life, and however much I kept the two separate, the one time things spilled over into my work-life, I found remarkable support and direction from her, that enabled me to pull things together which I probably would've never been able to do by myself. Those times she really surprised me, because we never shared much beyond a professional relationship and it was heartening to see her understand and help out in her own ways.

I am not done with school yet, and we still don't see eye to eye on several issues. She is not my most favourite person or my best friend. But she deserves a lot of credit for mentoring me, and doing a good job of it. It's quite unfair, in some ways, that while I will be getting her to write me recommendation letters for the next several years, I don't really get a chance to thank her and express my respect for her in more visible ways, besides the customary blurb in acknowledgments for my thesis etc.

If only every rant had an equal and opposite anti-rant like this. :-)