Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Free! Free! Free!

And I thought this day would never come. I finally finish the last interview for the MBA admission process. Started with SP Jain and ended with MDI, though I wish I get into NITIE. I loved the campus, the seniors, the atmosphere and what more? It's in Mumbai, the place to be!

But then there's a part of me that wants me to get a job, something inside my head that tells me that a job is the best way to go. The idea of getting paid doing what I love is very exciting; so exciting in fact that I've had thoughts of bunking a few interviews. I'm glad I didn't, because those interviews were a whole new experience of their own, each completely different from the other, but each one just as enriching as the other.

As of now, it's a huge relief to get the whole process over with. I can now read that book without thinking of that current affairs mag I haven't read. I can now watch a movie without worrying about wasting time. I can now take all day to finish my animation assignment. On the flipside, I can no longer give excuses for not finishing assignments. That reminds me, I have a very lengthy assignment to submit on Thursday which I lied about having started. So while I go start the assignment, I give this, for you to ROTFL -

Friday, 25 March 2011

emotion. brain. art

I've been wanting to share a few things over here for a long time now, but lethargy (and well, laziness too, to an extent) got the better of me. I cleared up my desktop today, finally, and was scouring the internet for wallpapers of the movie Tangled when this expression of Rapunzel caught my attention. The expression intrigued me so much I was compelled to share it immediately. What intrigued me so much about it is that the expression conveys three emotions - fear, wonder and intent - with hardly any noticeable muscle or eyebrow movement, unlike most other expressions which usually show dramatic movements of the eyebrows and muscles. I don't know much about the Facial Action Coding System yet, but the intensity score for the action units that make up the expression is probably an A or a B. Maybe even a C. Think about it that way and the expression doesn't seem so intriguing after all. But I still am very intrigued. I'd like to believe that it takes a certain amount of expertise to get such an emotion on an animated face.

Tangled reminds me of a book I finished reading a week ago. What happens when neurons in our brain get tangled and crosswired? Lots of interesting disorders ranging from the familiar to the unbelievable. Some disorders make us think, wonder and question our own sense of being and our perception of the world around us. The brain is the most complicated and fascinating organ of the human body. One small damage to a tiny part of it and it can make you think your left arm is your brother's and not yours. Dr. V. S. Ramachandran explains it all splendidly in his book "Phantoms in the Brain". I've never found a non-fiction book so riveting before. Here's a very interesting lecture he delivered at UCSD on what is it in his brain that makes him like a certain kind of art. The video is an hour and half, but very engaging. But, I speak for myself. I've always been interested in all things brain ever since the day my biology teacher in school made me draw a picture of the brain as homework that had me wonder, this yucky thing is the reason I can think and feel and reason? Wow! If you feel the way I do, then go ahead and watch it. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Art Thou A Nerd

If you are, then you are probably already aware of what makes today so special. Today is Pi Day. Yes, today nerds celebrate the mathematical constant pi.

All non-nerds out there, you have another day to celebrate. July 22nd. Because, July 22nd is Pi Approximation Day. A day to celebrate the fraction 22/7.

Or does that make you a supernerd?

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Out of harm's way

The Libyan unrest will forever be etched into my memory, because for me and my family it was personal. My dad was evacuated from Libya only two days ago. Thankfully, he left Zawiyah just before things got worse. Not that things were good before he left; in fact, when I called him up two days before he left Zawiyah he told me that he could hear gunshots outside his house. I was so scared I thought it was best if he just stayed inside the house; getting out of the house even for evacuation could be dangerous. But yesterday's news showed what would've happened if he had stayed there any longer - dozens of civilians were killed.

Dad's evacuation would've been painless if his bag wasn't stolen on his way to Tunisia. Dad and his Indian colleagues were to go to an airport in Tunisia to take a flight back to India. The Indian embassy sent buses and trucks to Zawiya. People would take the bus, and the luggage would be brought in trucks to Tunisia. At the Tunisian border, he had to give up his simcard and his phone! This meant he wouldn't be able to contact us until he reached India. On reaching Tunisia, he found one of his two bags missing -- the bag that had his laptop (months worth of research!) and all the cash. His bag was stolen. Dad was now rendered phone-less and penniless. Dad could manage just one call back home explaining his situation and that he had a few friends helping him out. He stayed in Tunisia for four days until his name turned up on the roster of evacuees. By then all his friends had already been evacuated. His stay at Tunisia, however, seemed pleasant because he and all the evacuees were accommodated at a three-star hotel and were provided with free and unlimited food (both veg and non-veg) throughout the day.

On the fourth day, he boarded EgyptAir (apparently Indian Airlines wasn't the only carrier bringing back Indians) which brought him to Mumbai with one stop at Cairo International airport for refuelling. At Mumbai, the embassy gave every evacuee a free air/rail ticket to anywhere in the country along with Rs.2000 so they could reach home comfortably. Dad was given a 3AC ticket to Chennai that evening. He reached Chennai the next evening. My mum, sis and I were at our native place (Berhampur, Orissa) for my cousin's wedding ceremony all this while which, of course, we couldn't attend. We reached the morning after dad reached, but boy were we relieved to have him back and safe.

Dad is very upset about losing his laptop and all his research work in it, but he sure has kind words for the way the Indian government handled the evacuation process. Mum also agrees that the officials were very supportive when she had called the control centre at Delhi to find out what and how things were being done.