Next stop, insanity

Thursday, August 31, 2006

El Amigo Loco

If any application form asks "Any disabilities?" most men should put down "Cooking." A majority of us, me included, can't make hot water without instructions. So when one such culinary Neanderthal friend of mine started a phone conversation with "So I tried to cook," I knew the ending would involve fireworks.

This friend, who moved to the US recently, has been a lavish patron of local restaurants. In a moment of hallucination he thought he could cook and bought one of those gourmet frozen chickens.

The instructions looked simple enough:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Cook for 45 minutes

So our friend followed the instructions, started the cooking and popped into the shower expecting to be enveloped by aromas of delicious chicken by the time he was out. In about 20 minutes, his olfactory senses were assaulted by the smell of a dead bird burning. Promptly followed by some smoke seeping in from under the bathroom door and high pitched smoke-alarm, for added effect.

As our friend streaked out and retrieved the ashes of the cremated bird, he realized the mistakes he made. Here are the lessons he learned from the experience:

  1. When the instructions include seemingly non-English words such as "preheat" don't just skip over them.
  2. When the instructions say "oven" don't automatically assume it meant Microwave oven

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Is your girlfriend a computer geek?

A colleague of mine narrated a funny story about how his girlfriend, who is a software engineer, got mad at his playing Solitaire all the time on the computer. She installed a parental control software to prevent opening games on their home computer and refused to give him the passcode. That prompted me to come up with the following list:

How can you tell if your girlfriend is a computer geek?
(You need to be a geek to enjoy this)

  • She always asks you, self-consciously, does my laptop look too fat?

  • She dumps you after she finds out your SIMS character cheated on her SIMS character

  • She describes a perfect date as, "At a romantic restaurant with good WiFi connectivity"

  • She emails you, "I am feeling kinky, can we have VOIP sex?"

  • Your friends call you with computer problems and ask, "Can I talk to your girlfriend?"

  • Her Palm Pilot can play better music than your Hi-Fi music system

  • She has more software CDs than music CDs

  • She has a USB powered sex-toy

  • When you decided to have a kid, she uses the computer to find out the most fertile minute of her cycle. Then she tells you, "There is absolutely no pressure"

  • When she put “I have the best rack” on her profile she meant rack mounted server

  • She told you, "You had me at Hello World."

Friday, August 25, 2006


Lalitha book-tagged me. So hear goes the tag.


World Atlas: When I was 7, I made a sexist comment on my cousin. She hit me with a hard-bound world atlas so hard that till now I never made a sexist comment again, even as a joke.

But, seriously:

Games People Play by Eric Berne: After reading this book I started looking at people, situations and conversations differently.

The manual for our Microwave oven: I read it 50 times and I still can't figure out how to set the time on it!

But, seriously:
Stephen Jay Gould's Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes (mostly because I didn't understand it the first time). It's a mesmerizing book with juicy facts about theory of evolution.

Survive on a Desert Island: Of course :)

Playboy: Not only do you find pseudo-intellectual interviews of women with enough silicone in them to be qualified by FAA as a flotation device but you also find ironic quizzes such as “Are you completely truthful in your relationship” knowing very well that half the demographic that reads Playboy never admits to reading it.

But, seriously:
Code of Woosters by P.G.Woodhouse: It not only made me laugh uncontrollably until tears trickled down my cheeks but also amused people around me immensely because I was reading the book on a crowded train in India.

Check book, after my wife went out shopping with it.

American Constitution: I would have made it unconstitutional for anybody of Dubya’s IQ to be the president.

But, seriously:
Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens: The mastery over language and the subtle but scathing sarcasm always made me wish I could write like that.

Kama Sutra: Because of that incoherent book, now every time I meet a dimwit who goes, “Ohhh India, the land of Kama Sutra” I have to explain that Kama Sutra is a piece of junk with laughable content. India produced much better things than that. 90% of Indians never read Kama Sutra. The only interesting things in the book are the photographs of the white people doing it circus-style.

Children's Story books: What else would any parent of young kid read every day?

But, seriously:
Echo Heron's Intensive Care: The Story of a Nurse: It's an autobiography of a nurse and about the tales of the Emergency Room. Must read for any sucker for medical stories.

My wife's diary: I hear there is a lot of interesting stuff about me in there.

But, seriously:Michael Crichton's State of Fear: I am a fan of Michael Crichton. Haven't gotten around to reading this on yet.

I tag:
If you are not tagged here, don't celebrate yet. I have more tags coming.

The following people are also tagged:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Stupid users

When we design software, it is a golden rule that the software be designed for the stupid user. You will be amazed how often users don't understand the simplest concept or don't see something that is staring them in the face. Every software vendor carefully idiot-proofs their software, even though the marketing material never mentions it (It won't look too nice on the product box to say, "Idiot-proofed for you").

A recent hospital visit reminded me of the importance of idiot-proofing.

I went to the doctor with a minor compliant and she promptly ordered enough blood tests to suck half my blood out. On a side note, I think the only purpose the blood tests serve is to confirm that I am serious about my ailment. If I am not serious, I would disappear as soon as I heard the blood tests mentioned.

I went to the lab holding a lab slip and waited at the counter while the nurse at the counter took care of everything except me. I gave her the customary cough. When that didn't work, I said, "excuse me." She looked irritated at the interruption and grumpily said, "yes?" The lab slip I waved in her face failed to elicit any gentler response. She tightened her frown a tad and said, "Place the slip in the box and take a seat." I did as commanded and waited for my turn to be desiccated.

A couple more people entered the room and went through the same routine, viz. wait, cough, interrupt and be sternly told "Place the slip in the box and take a seat."

My engineer brain sprang to action. I thought, "Instead of telling everybody what to do, she could write that on a piece of paper and hang it at the counter." I looked for a possible spot to hang the note and I was greeted with this sign: "Place the slip in the box and take a seat."

Thursday, August 17, 2006


When software engineers in California are not dreaming about going skinny dipping with Angelina Jolie, they are dreaming about making millions of dollars by starting a software company. I do too. I mean the latter part.

I have an idea for this wonderful software. I don't know how to make the software yet, but a like a true day dreamer, I prepared the packing and the feature list for the software. Let me share my idea with you.

(Click on the image to enlarge. Read product description after the image)

What is Craptastic?
Craptastic is an amazing new software that reads a Bollywood (or other Indian movie) DVD and makes it into a movie that is actually watchable. All you have to do is pop the DVD into your computer, run the software, burn a DVD and watch it! You will never have to hurt your fingers again by holding the "2x" button for one and half hours.

Feature list:
  • Using modern and complex algorithms, this software makes Aishwarya Roy look like she is almost acting
  • Searches each frame and digitally puts a shirt on Salman Khan's disgusting bare body
  • Since most songs are rip off of English songs, those songs will be replaced by original English songs
  • Using digital pattern recognition mechanism, this software makes dying characters die as soon as they say, "I am dying" sparing the viewer the 10 minute monologue
  • By a patented new technology called ChildAgeCorrect, this software adds realism to movies by making children look at least as old as the dialogs they are spewing out. Warning: Most kids in movies will look 18
  • Coat color correction: Rich people in the movie will wear normal gray, blue or black suits instead of orange, green or lavender.
  • We all know how distracting those protean sweat patches under the armpits of heroes and heroines that are changing in every frame. This softwake make them look exactly the same in every frame
  • (Only for Tamil movies) Applies strategic pixallation in fight scenes where the hero is wearing a lungi.
  • And many more features!

Bonus software included:
MovieExperience is a great fun software that comes free with Craptastic. Applying MovieExperience will enhance the sound track so that your movie watching experience is closer to watching in a theater. Some features include:
  • Adds the voice of the annoying guy talking in the back row
  • Adds crying babies (up to 8)
  • Adds the voice of that 12 year old girl who already saw the movie and providing a preview of the upcoming scene
  • Adds whistles and hoots when the heroine's pallu drops
  • After the movie ends, it adds instant reviews in real voices like, "What a load of crap," "I want my money back" etc.
Order now!

Monday, August 14, 2006

I plead guilty of living in the US

Last time I was in India, I went to visit a long lost friend. When I arrived at his place, on agreed upon time - like an idiot, he was not home. His dad assured me that he would return soon and insisted that I waited.

My friend's father, Mr. T, was an interesting guy, interesting being an euphemism for creepy. There was no end to his questions. He seemed to have an ax to grind against Indians living in the US too. He didn't sound like an average curious George, he sounded more like a lawyer arguing for my death sentence.

Mr. T: Where do you live?
I stated my name and address for the record.

Several questions followed that reiterated the accusations against me.
Mr. T: How long have you been living in the US?
Mr. T: Do you own a house? How much did it cost? Oh my god, for that price you can buy two houses in India.
Mr. T: Which company do you work for? Do you they have a branch in India? Oh, they will, soon.
Mr. T: How frequently do you visit India?

After it was established, beyond reasonable doubt, that I had been happy living in the US, he continued scornfully.

Mr. T: What platform do you work on?

These days, everybody in India, including retired Math teachers, know everything about software. Not to worry, I have prepared answers for these questions.

Me: I don't have a specific platform. My strength is in adapting to various platforms.

That answer worked well in job interviews. But he looked at me like I was retarded. He proceeded, speaking very slowly.

Mr. T: What language do you use?

My answer would've started with "Language is just a tool," but I knew Mr. T would interpret it as "I don't know any software languages. I am a complete moron." So went with an answer he could appreciate.

Me: I use C

Mr. T smirked like a lawyer would when the opponent's witness makes a blunder.

Mr. T: You use C? In this advanced age, even people in India are using modern languages like Java, Oracle and Cisco. You are living in America and still using C?

I didn't know which part to correct first. But I knew any attempt to enlighten him would be futile.

Me: Yeah, I never learnt Cisco.

At this point, Mr. T decided to stop beating around the bush and determine my worth.

Mr. T: How much do you make?

A question that is not considered too personal in India. If one evades the question, it would be assumed that one has pathetically low income. I gave him some vague number.

Mr. T: Do you get housing allowance? Vehicle allowance?

After I confessed I didn't even know that they were, his Math-teacher-brain worked like a super computer. He took my salary, compensated for inflation, dollar value fluctuation, housing market downturn and draught in Ethiopia. He arrived at an arbitrary adjusted net salary.

Mr. T: My cousin's brother-in-law's son, who works in Bangalore, makes gazillion rupees. Considering his house and car loan allowances, he is making almost as much as you make. So what is the point in your living in the US?

He rested his case.

My friend arrived and bailed me out before I could make an opening statement. I don't know how he interpreted my lunging to hug him and saying, "Man, you have no idea how glad I am to see you."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Don't misunderestimate the power of tag

I was tagged by Mary Poppins. Rules of the tag are:
  • Say who tagged you
  • Say eight things about yourself
  • Tag 6 people
You see, I do want to do the tag, but most people know a lot about me already. Everybody knows (1) I am from India and careful observers must have already guessed (2) I am from the Southern part of India. It's not difficult to perceive that (3) I have at least one son and (4) at least one wife. Of course, everybody who recognizes Alfred E. Neumann knows (5) I am a fan of Mad magazine, from where I derive most of my juvenile sense of humor. I could say (6) I play a bit of Piano but nobody cares as long as they don't have to hear it. I am not going to announce to the world that (7) I am a huge fan of Frasier, because every time I say it people are asking me, "What are you, like 60?" When (8) I say my favorite author is P.G.Woodhouse, people who know me too well nod their head understandingly and ask, "Does he write good porn?" So what's the point in saying that either?

If I had done the tag, I would've tagged: Anand, Ekta, Casement, Nithya, Anu and Free Spirit (hoping they haven't done this specific tag yet).

As you can see there is nothing interesting to say about me. So I thought what's the fun in doing the tag as yourself? Why don't I do the tag as somebody famous? Like, say, our beloved president, George W. Bush!

So here is how Georgie boy would do the tag:

  1. Tony Blair and I have pajama parties and pillow fights. We exchange hand-woven sweaters too
  2. I bed-wet some times. It's not my fault. I can't get hold of Condi in the middle of night some times to get permission to go to bathroom.
  3. My wife keeps collecting weird stuff. She has about a 1000 "I am with stupid" T-Shirts
  4. I am the most intelligent man in the world. Last time I took the IQ test, the result came back as "Your IQ is not in the range of 50-220." Whoohoo.
  5. I am very tolerant of other religions. Just to prove the point, I agreed to be the recipient of some Jewish honor at this party a guy named Mohel is throwing.
  6. A lot of people confuse me for the CEO of Coca-Cola. They keep calling me "Coke Head"
  7. Right now I am at my ranch in Crawford, "working" from home *wink* *wink*
  8. I speak fluent English and Mexican
I tag:
  • Dick Cheney (Or he will spank me)
  • Kenny boy
  • Saudi King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz
  • President of Canada, Stephen Harper
  • That governor general dame from New Zealand
  • How can I forget you darling, Tony Blair

Thursday, August 03, 2006

How handymen are made, or not

The shower at our house has two settings - scalding hot or freezing cold. After getting burnt, frozen, burnt and frozen in the span of two seconds, I decided to do something about it last Saturday.

Here is the chronology of events:

10:30 AM:
Decide to fix the problem

10:45 AM:
Read from the "Do It Yourself Home Repair" book that the problem is easily fixed by changing the shower stem.

10:46 AM:
Google to find out what the hell a shower stem is

10:57 AM:
Groan realizing "Do It Yourself Home Repair" and I have disagreement on the definition of "easy."

11:20 AM:
At Home Depot

11:40 AM:
Still cruising Home Depot to find faucet stem. Ok, take a deep breath and ask for help

11:55 AM:
After the numbnut associate took me on the exact same route I traversed to find the stem, look for somebody who has a clue and ask for help

12:30 PM:
Back home with the stem

12:40 PM:
Shut off the water

12:41 PM:
thirsty. Curse loudly remembering I had just turned off the water. I deserve a coke anyway.

12:50 PM:
Take off the shower knob. Home repair isn't that hard after all

12:51 PM:
Realize I don't have Pipe wrench to remove the existing stem. Panic. Curse Home Depot. Curse neighbor's dog, for no specific reason

12:52 PM:
Oh wait, the new stem came with a stem wrench

01:00 PM:
OK, got the stem out. All I have to do is put the new stem in, call my friends and brag about it

01:01 PM:
Funny optical illusions. The new stem in my hand looks considerably larger than the opening it needs to go into

01:02 PM:
Holy crap. It's the wrong size

02:00 PM:
Back from Home Depot armed with right sized stem

02:30 PM:
Stem firmly in place, I am minutes away from a lazy afternoon

02:40 PM:
*&*%%! now the knob doesn't fit. This white threaded thing the knob has to slide onto, is too short. What the hell is this white tube thing called anyway?

02:45 PM: Look up my trusted "Do It Yourself Home Repair" and figure out it's called a nipple. Giggle like a school girl.

02:46 PM:
Need to figure out the size of the *giggle,giggle* nipple

02:50 PM:
Explain to shocked wife why I was looking up "nipple" on google

03:30 PM: Go to Home Depot. Explain to the lady associate, who jumped in front of me asking "May I help you", what I am looking for in phrases that do not include any human body parts

03:45 PM:
15 minutes of searching and the only nipples I found were of the red-necks walking around without shirts. With a sudden surge in gray matter activity, realize if the nipple doesn't fit the knob, buy a new knob. I am a genius!

04:00 PM: Back home. Everything fits! Whoohoo. But why is the water coming out of the wall though?

04:01 PM:
Goddamnit, I didn't tighten the stem enough.

04:10 PM:
Aha! All done now. All I have to do is brag about it, carefully skipping over the part where I dropped the wrench on my toe

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

911 cheat sheet

In some random TV show I happened to catch a glimpse of, there was a woman calling 911. She was huffing, puffing, yelling, cursing and sobbing on the call to 911. Not many people mastered the art of calling 911 like she did. For those people who don’t know what to do after calling 911, here are some tips:

  1. Speak as fast as you can. After all you want get the message across quickly.
  2. Punctuate your account with abundant "Ohmigod"s for the dramatic effect.
  3. Remind them multiple times, "Come quickly. Come quickly." Unless you tell them, how would they know it's an emergency?
  4. If the operator doesn’t panic even after the above, telling her, “It’s an emergency, bitch!!” might jolt her into action
  5. If it is a medical emergency, don't play the broken phone.Put the patient on the phone directly
  6. Don't forget to start with an opening joke like, "A large pizza for delivery please he he he"
  7. If the operator sounds like a cute girl, don't hesitate to flirt with her.They appreciate some fun and these 911 chicks are HOT.
  8. When signing your house lease or when calling 911, it is important to understand the reason for each question.So for every question the operator asks, take time to ask "Why do you want that information?"
  9. The operator might be very impressed and hence help quicker if you use the police jargon you heard in the movies, you know, "We have a 433 here. Dispatch 122 ASAP"
  10. Call back every 90 seconds to make sure help is on the way

Please do take time to check out these real 911 tips: Link and Link