Rajesh Kumar

Optimizing life, one day after the next

Brandishing my nose

13 Jul 2005

Dear All,

Yes, I have not written anything for a long time. Yes, my garrulousness has escaped me. Yes, I have successfully graduated from high school without bruises. Yes, I am free now. Yes, I have been hearing rumours through the grapevine:

"Whatsup with Rajesh? Haven't seen him in a while..."
"Shhh, I believe he's gone back to India for good."
"Oh my, what a drain on Canada's human resources!"

No, no, I am here, well and fine, my arms and legs all intact, thank you. Save your presumptuousness for a later day, you temerarious little concluders.

If I have been foolish enough to expect my summer vacation to be work-free, it would all be my fault, and my fault only. The start of summer could not have been as busy as the good ol' days of April and May 2005, but justifiably busy all the same. I am now doing an intern with Novare Res Media Inc., a three-year old web development company, employed as their PHP programmer plus database architect. At times, I take the liberty to be their official suggestion maker also. Our head office (snicker) is a sprawling yet cozy studio-style, two-storey apartment, fully furnished with kitchenette and balcony, situated on the intersection between 6th and Granville. The balcony deserves special recognition as it is a calm and quiet place where one can enjoy an amazingly breathtaking vista of the Vancouver skyline. Besides, we're on the fifth floor, so that gives us an altitudinal bonus.

The job is all nice and dandy, but the deadlines are as tight as a sumo wrestler's underwear. I have air conditioning in my cabin to keep me cool over the next two months. I spend three hours on transit everyday, staring out the windows, watching people sleep, or reading translated works of Gabrielle Roy. But reading on transit makes me nauseous, so instead I settle to observe little Korean girls whispering amongst themselves in a dialect I fail to understand, and all of a sudden, without due caution, they burst out in a gale of laughter which only makes me want to look elsewhere. The scenery isn't breathtaking either. Every time I'm in a good mood for some visual food, I find myself in a tunnel at Columbia or Granville. If anybody has any useful suggestions as to how I could productively spend my commute from Gateway to Granville without breaking the law, I'm all ears.

I now sit once again in front of an NEC monitor, appreciating the current state of affairs, and how speedily and splendidly the last couple of months have flown. I don't like the monitor anymore, maybe because I've been spoilt by the Philips flat-screen monitor I have been offered at work. First, the IB exams. The monitor at home gives me a splitting headache after just three hours. Then, the easy, but at the same time, difficult provincial examinations. The new monitor at work works well with my new lenses equipped with anti-glare protection. And soon after that graduation ceremonies and all the religious gala that follow. If I were asked to buy something for myself, it would be a lovely 17" plasma monitor. Finally, we got back our IB grades early this month; didn't do exceptionally well, but I'll still live. I turned eighteen soon after that, and boy, wasn't that unexciting. I have set my eyes on that plasma monitor.

Today, I am telecommuting, which, trust me, is ridiculously fun. You can engage in all sorts of things that one cannot, or does not, usually engage in an office environment: play games, sing nursery rhymes to yourself, go to sleep mid-way, just to name a few.

Our home seems surprisingly peaceful and serene today. Clad in velvety black slacks and lightening white shorts, I have but the slightest idea as to what I am to do. I can only hear the gentle hum of a chainsaw trying to prune a tree. Don't these people understand how bad an idea it is to prune trees in the summer? Where are your gardening books, my fellow green-thumbed gardeners?

So what's on my agenda for the day? Nothing too occupying, but at the same time, not a day to laze off either.

8:00 Wake up
8:30 Get up
8:35 Brush + Shower
9:30 Breakfast
10:00 FTP novareres stuff
11:30 Shopping with mum at Superstore
12:30 Make a blog post
1:30 Lunch
3:30 Explore MagpieRSS and RubyOnRails
4:30 Get started on next short story (after having been consumed by the likes
                                      of J.D. Salinger and Edgar Allan Poe, I
                                      have resolved to write at least one
                                      short story every two years for my own
                                      reading pleasure)
5:00 Tea with biscuits 
7:00 Go down to the gymnasium and do something that makes you sweat
8:00 Start working on the profile management module
9:30 Dinner
10:30 Sleep

I have an uncanny ability to deviate from my schedule. Let's see if I can't do that today.

So, what's been pulling my strings lately?

  1. PHP: I've been doing crazy amounts of PHP programming this week. That's mostly because of the kind of work my job entails. A day doesn't pass by without me looking at some ingenious PHP library that can do everything from rinse your dishes to soak your socks.
  2. Granville Street: More on this in a future blog post. It will suffice to say that Granville St. is more active and vibrant than even Orchard St. in Singapore in the twilight hours of 5 PM. The walk across the Granville St. Bridge is fun and so is the underpass that runs underneath it.
  3. Adobe Illustrator: I somehow managed to lay my hands on Adobe Illustrator CS. The installation didn't have the tutorials that were supposed to come with it, and now I'm going to have to learn it myself.
  4. Google Earth: I'm not sure if this neat app should be receiving the hype it presently is. I mean, it's a cool app and everything, but not terribly useful for the Common Man. Besides, the resolution drops dramatically every time you zoom in. Coolness factor is high, but utility factor is close to nil, if not negative.
  5. Text-Twist: This Yahoo! game is quite interesting if you're seeking to improve your spelling aptitude. Just recently, I got bored of figuring out the six-letter word, so I wrote a nifty script that does the guessing, thereby permitting me to advance to the next level.
  6. Bubble Trouble: I've been playing this Miniclip game for quite some time now, but can never seem to get past level 17. It's like that level in Prince of Persia where you have get past Jafar with a lose tile impeding your way. If you manage to get past level 17, don't hesitate to boast about it in front of me.
  7. Picasa 2: I've been trying to somehow make that Dig Cam Perspectives page look complete, but can never get myself to do it. Just last week, a brilliant idea struck me while playing Frisbee. A collage! Yes, that's what I'll do, I'll make a collage using Picasa! Picasa does a fine job of making scatter collages no matter how many pictures you have in your album.

My colleague Ken asked me if I could display any math/physics formulas using pure HTML. He wanted to be able to select each variable in the formula with his mouse and so images, I was quick to note, were unfit for this purpose. I came up with this:

<em>e &ne; mc<sup>2</sup></em>
e ≠ mc2

Of course, nothing beats the home-grown solution of one pint of LaTeX DFS, a pinch of PNG graphics and a dash of PHP to create a magical potion called Latex2PNG.

\$\$ e \neq mc^2 \$\$, which results in
$$e \neq mc^2$1.2$

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