Friday, February 09, 2007

About Chicago

Hi! I'm back again... after a not-so-long break of 2-3 days... ;-)

Today's space is reserved for a review of my trip to Chicago, as I had mentioned earlier in dampened spirits that I'd write about it. If you ask me what gives me this sudden inspiration to write about that, for after all Chicago is truly a great place in its own right, with a great history about it, and it doesn't really depend on patronage from you know what kind of people..., I'd blame it all on the weather. Over the past week or so, the midwest has been engulfed by a protracted cold storm and its raging flurries, to the point of life almost coming to a standstill. Whereas when I was in Chicago, barely three weeks earlier, I was treated by fine weather and had a memorable experience...

To start with, my first few days in Chambana as I've already bragged about, were boring. Thanks to Sushanth and Co., and kulli's stopover plans, I got sinister ideas. I took my "ever dependable" pal a whole week to figure things out (actually he never really figured out anything!) and I was off in a flash, on the friday evening LEX. Thanks to his brilliant sense of directing newcomers, I ended up getting lost from my local bus ride (supposedly to Lincoln Park/Armitage) at the right place! ;-) And the moment I met up with them late in evening (kulli was still jetlagged and starved of sleep), the party began. We had a night-out party at his friend's place nearby and I got introduced to many of his cohorts. Some Miller Lite, Martini, Tequila and good ol' hindi party music kept things afloat. 5:00 am- job well done, thank you very much, good night and bye everybody.

The next day began at around 1:00pm or so... everybody (with the exception of an insomniac) had slept a log. As usual, we we short of ideas and so it was Saturday at Downtown Chicago. That was where I got to see a good many wonders... the drive beside Lincoln Park by the side of lake Michigan, and then onto Michigan avenue- the prime avenue of downtown... Chicago Tribune, The Ritz, the Water Station which is a lone survivor of the great 1900 inferno, the bridge on the river Illinois... and a few other tall boys among them. We spent a good deal of time shopping some random stuff at the malls out there... I happened to meet Vaibhav, a long time friend from NPS, with whom I hadn't spoken in like 6 years! Of particular noteworthiness is the G A P showroom, where we were holed up for over an hour for want of an evening plan. Thanks to some genius getting a brainwave, we carried on to go Bowling. I was a once-upon-a-time accomplished 'underarm bowler' with many back-to-back strikes to my credit, but I realised the hard way that after 4 years I had little grace in this sport! ;-) Some tortillas and pizza to fill-in-the-blanks and we were out by 8:00!

The night still young, we thought of watching a movie, and thanks to an excellent suggestion from one of his ever so knowledgeable friends, I ended up sleeping through my first movie ever, an animation at that, in all of 22 years. The verdict was unanimous- Happily Never After! But it was just 11:00pm yet. I went along with his friend Rohit, who was accommodating me at the IIT dorms. I just did a few random things, met up with a couple more friends (Sriram and Jathurshun), had a chat, plus did some random stuff before deciding to retire for the night. Barely 10mins later, we got a called to a sports bar.. okay, so get ready, drive down across half the city and end up reaching there some 5mins before closing time. Nothing much happened, getting kulli into the car turned out to be a gargantuan task, and the three of us (Sriram, Rohit and I) had to walk down the streets of Chicago during the cold, wee hours of the night. And the fun part was when I went to Sushanth's place to pick up my stuff... kulli stole the show with her melancholy wails - "I don't like grad school; I won't do my assignments; I won't pass out from grad school!" Lol!!

Sunday was a great experience.. It was Bhogi and we decided to go to the Lord Venkateshwara Temple at Aurora. The drive was smooth (we cruised at some 80-odd mph), and kulli treated our ears to her mellifluous voice along the way. It took no more than an hour to reach there, and I was completely enchanted by the place. The temple is beautiful, it has all the amenities for the American way and yet retains the best part of our Indian traditions. For the first time, I had been to a place where all Gods had their own exclusive Sannadhis, all of equal import. I had never expected to find this several nautical miles away from home! And now for the best part- I came to know that the Aurora is famed for its brilliant roster of South Indian cuisines. And so for Pongal, it was all of Venn Pongal-chutney, Vadai-Sambar, Puliyodharai, Thayiru Chaadam and Oorugai- Semma Vettu! ;-) That was like the fulfillment of a long time dream, especially after missing good home food for days, and the days to come ;-) We got back, a little stressed out for lack of sleep. Some went off to watch the Chicago Bears in action while I just did some random stuff for a couple of hours before packing off.

At around 4, I said goodbye to all- kulli (she had her flight on Monday), Rohit, Richard, Jathurshun, Sriram et al and left for Union Station. Sushanth, for once thankfully, got me the the place in the nick of time. Just before leaving, I got a chance to walk by the Sears tower, stare its magnificent rooftop up somewhere in the heavens, obscured by the haze of the clouds, and took one last pic before adios ameego to Sushanth. And then, I got back again to a damp Chambana amidst torrential rains, late in the evening.

And that is all I have to say about Chicago, folks!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Oh Hell, how much more ThermoD?!!!

This time around, I am posting an article I received, by chance, as a bulk forward from a good friend of mine. Not to be dismissed as any random forward though. Needless to say any more, for this piece shall speak for itself. Just read on...

The following is an actual question given on a University of Liverpool chemistry final exam.

The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues via the Internet, which is why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law that gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that, if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.

Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell. Because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay constant, the volume of Hell must expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Sandra during my freshman year, that "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is endothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is extinct...leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being - which explains why, last night, Sandra kept shouting "Oh my God."


Friday, February 02, 2007

As an afterthought to yet another of my reckless antics..

I am feeling terrible today. Much of it I would attribute to the faulty monitor of mine, at my office desk with the CEG - Beckman Insti. I was prepared for a decent take-off today but as it turns out, I am grounded indefinitely until my secretary gets a new one installed. Of what use is a few gigs and some more of raw and supreme computational power when you don't have the primary accoutrement to interact with it, in your desperate bid to tame its unyielding nature? And so I am jobless all over again. It just seems like the vicious circle which the poet, Ogden Nash is renowned for ;-) In my case, more than just a double-ended pun... more of a all roads lead to Rome (joblessness) curse! So let me flip myself back to the sinister face of the coin...

In my last post, I had briefly referred to my friendship with the likes of some very illustrious men of yesteryear, and how I knew them... I am actually reminded of this very popular joke of the famed thambi comedian Vivek, from the movie Minnale, which goes as follows...

Vivek has been dumped by his pal Maddy, who is crazy about his proposed gal- Reema (HOT!!). Maddy jumps a signal, crashes under a lorry and gets going in search of her while Vivek is left squeezing the juice out of the drishti kazhikkara elimbichcham pazham under the lorry. A brief verbal altercation follows between him and the driver, before the traffic cop arrives at the scene for his share of the pie... Vivek builds up the scene beautifully with his usual nakkal-nayyandi-thanamaana style and has the cop and the driver literally at his feet by claiming- "Enakku I.G. romba nalla theriyum" (I know the I.G. very well)... but his tryst with trouble had to be more dramatic and so he also adds on- "Aana avarukku thaan enna theriyadhe" (But he doesn't know me at all!)... the result that followed was natural, I don't think I need to even describe his state after that :-)

For a more accurate, and dramatic description of what I just mentioned, you can check out a clip containing that sequence from Minnale

Now, the reason why I've quoted this is... basically I know, some of the illustrious men that I have mentioned above, very well... aana avangalukku thaan enna theriyadhu! And Prof. Einstein couldn't have probably cared any lesser for me! ;-)

So with due regards to my maligned friend GREram, who knows me well though, I would like to openly declare that my last tryst with entropy and availabilty before I got sinister ideas yesterday was some 4 years back during Trichy days. And GREram has gone many levels up onto a higher plane and articulated, in sublime form, his take on how enigmatic entropy is. With a new and profound reverence to his perspective, I am all but compelled to direct you to his blog- Mercurial moods (Enigmatic entropy)

Thats all folks!! ;-)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The availability paradox!

I am suddenly gripped by a burning desire to write... joblessness as usual. I don't really need to go through the whys and wherefores of being so frequently jobless (not merely in the literal sense, of course), since I've already complained enough in my previous posts. So much so, that even I have become sick of repeatedly being in a jobless state of writing about my being jobless. Awright, thats enough of playing around with recursive gimmicks! :-) So my state of perennial joblessness (not to be mistaken for steady state as by nature I claim to be versatile, dynamic, vivacious, etc etc) coupled with the fact that I am a wanderlust, makes my thoughts wander beyond the realms of sanity... at grad school, you have to do this on a routine basis in order to prove a point or two and get your name prefixed with the coveted, elusive "two magical letters and a dot". While I casually generalize, you must not mistake me for being insane; or for that matter I am not claiming to be the only sane chap around. I just wanted to let you know, that insanity is fast catching up with me, by using the most imprecise, uneconomical and hyperbolic choice of words and expression. Now you know that there isn't even a mathematical chance of ruling out possibility of my being eccentric! ;-)

Now that we've got off to a good start, its time to consolidate. Let us touch upon subject matter and analyse...

A couple of days back, I was in the most common state of joblessness and resorted to watching a B++/A- grade thambi movie. Basically the protagonist wasn't an anti-hero and his chick was HOT, so it was a decent thing for timepass alright. But somewhere in between, I unfortunately had a quick chat with GREram at his best - reading up some blog by a seemingly not-so-eccentric but in all probability a yet-another-very-eccentric friend of his (I can safely count on you for not getting a quick cross-reference towards me - yet-another-friend of GREram for I believe I have already supplied you with a well-posed problem of determining my state of mind, and obviated the need for that with a reasonably strong disclaimer). Touching upon sensitive matters like the zero-circle-infinity connections, and presented his Mundane Philosophy with compelling reasons and examples, in a very witty and entertaining fashion. Although the crux of the matter was discussed in a state of mabbu, I would give it a lot of credit for the ultimate conclusion drawn that "nothing means anything to him". Except of course for the one thing I'd like to point out to him that his "the shape of zero is the stroke of a genius" funda is a li'l bit flawed to this extent that in the extreme limiting case of an infinite circle (r~inf.), we end up with a straight line! I don't wish to undermine his claim by any means, since the shape of zero to me is like the most obvious. That is self-evident truth for me! :-)

Hmm.. seems like I've wandered too far, thanks to my fantastic habit. I suppose you are still puzzled at what mundane things like the zero, circle, infinity etc etc have got to do with "The availability paradox!" I am sorry to say, that if you actually had hopes of such a connection, even a tangential one at best, you have also unfortunately crossed the barriers of sanity as I am walking you along. So let us well and truly revert to subject matter, this time around.

The compelling urge that I started off with (and didn't quite manage to touch upon yet) was a random login to Gtalk. For some weird reason, I found my entire list of friends to be available! Alright, I know that it is not a unique spectacle for even such an occurrence has a substantial probability associated with it, but I am trying to look beyond just that... like I said, crossing the barriers of sanity to prove blah blah blah... More than just the uninteresting mathematical connection, the "Available" hit me like a buzzword, thanks to thermodynamics. I am naturally inclined to this line of thought process for I am well and truly mechanically aptituded, as I have already posted earlier.

In thermodynamics, we spend eons of time in trying to understand Energy and its associates. An axiomatic zeroth law, a qualitative first law, two quantitative second laws, the death of perpetual motion machines and consequently our limited ability to do work, and the third law. A few wise men like Joule, Kelvin, Planck et al had stopped at that, fortunately. But I'm afraid there was this one slightly more mischievous friend of mine by the name of Clausius (infamous for the Clausius inequality for non-quasi-equillibrium and irreversible processes), who had to perform a complete autopsy on entropy, free-energy, spontaneity etc, to finally state that since the universe itself is a naturally occurring spontaneous process, all energy is not completely usable, irrespective of the form it manifests itself in.

Okay, I have somehow managed to state the underlying certainly-not-so-mundane-philosophy behind my claim, with the least damage inflicted, to the best of my capability. I will now go ahead and apply this concept of availability<1 (it is a perfect inequality, mind you) to what I observed of the status of my friends on Gtalk. I do not know in what form each one of them intended to say that they were available. It is quite obvious that they were here to chat, present physically at their desk, but I have no idea about what their state of mind was and what kind of talk they wished for. Some like it smooth, some hard while others go well with a heady mix of both, but all of that is extraneous to my analysis. I claim that they were NOT available, even if sitting at their desks, staring blankly at their chat window with blinkers on.. The reason is quite simple and obvious- they were involved (at levels of varying intensity, obviously) in a spontaneous act, which has a positive entropy associated with it, which is accounted for very well by their availability being less than 1. Now if you are wondering how I am trivially connecting a highly involved Thermodynamics funda to a mundane and low-impact activity like Gtalk-ing, I would like you to consider my friend- the late Prof. Albert Einstein's proof of mass-energy equivalence. So whatever the matter be, it is ultimately a manifestation of raw energy and hence the availability paradox holds!

If that still weren't enough to convince you, don't get started off thinking that you are a tough-skinned hard nut to crack. If time permits, look up one Werener Heisenberg who proved beyond any element of "doubt" of the absolute existence of uncertainty of both position and velocity. So that implies that all of my friends were matter waves and in any case associated with their own values of uncertainty in position (I don't really care about velocity and momentum here, for we are not dealing with rocket propulsion!) and consequently their complete availability is uncertain and very much open to debate! ;-)

If I were to generalize this (I don't know how sane or insane) philosophy of mine, it may become quite apparent as to why an artist doesn't at any point of time have all his talent available for use, and hence produces just "the one" masterpiece in a lifetime instead of "a" masterpiece every time.

And an even more compelling, though insane, thought- whenever your prospective girlfriend (or boyfriend for girls) comes forward to tell you that she (he) is available, you now know that it may not entirely be true. So beware! ;-)

Closing note...

It is my utmost belief that anybody trying to validate a claim, should do so by himself complying with his logic, and thus prove how worthy he is of his salt. I would at this juncture just go ahead to state that my presentation of this theory is a testimonial in itself- it is a hare-brained act of spontaneity, much of my intellect and sanity (perhaps all of them) were not available in the very development of this hypothesis, and it was lacking (at least partially) in subject matter anyway! ;-)

I sincerely hope that you haven't managed to read all the way through to this point. If you have, God save the world from yet another lunatic!

Finally, I'm left wondering.. why did I have to go through all this, when I could have instead buzzed on one of the seemingly available pals of mine and rather made a more worthy expenditure of my time?

The dawn of a new era of.. well.. er.. joblessness for me.. Lol!!