I almost couldn’t believe it. Last night I was rummaging through my stuff when I found this little notebook from almost two years ago. Apparently, I did jot down many of the things said and done in class when I was at Cornell University.
Class notes always start with the best of intentions. Fresh clean notebooks. Crisp paper. Aahh!
Of course, one day later, the notebook is no longer fresh and clean. It has been written on, which could almost be slang for defiled. I have taken great pains to write neatly and clearly, without messing up anything, but…it isn’t the same.
Mistakes cannot be avoided. Eventually, some words get messed up. In the beginning, I tear out the page and start over, but later I let it be. The notebook is no longer sacred.
And then there are those lectures. While my ears are listening and my brain is thinking, my hands are drawing cartoon characters on the nearest piece of paper they can find. Did I just draw Bugs Bunny on the margin of my page? Uh…
So going back to the notebook I discovered: to fill up a notebook almost completely with no more than a few doodles and only the occasional change in handwriting is quite an accomplishment.…
I’ve had an interesting week.
I spent the whole of the last two nights in the lab, working on a Computer Architecture assignment. Normally, programming assignments don’t take long, but this one was in Verilog, that executes in different modules all at the same time. For a C or Java programmer, this is like debugging a highly multi-threaded program that is eagerly waiting to jump into infinite loops.
The program finally worked. Enough said about that.
I also almost lost all the data on my laptop. I tried to delete a couple of unwanted partitions, and strangely, my data partition also disappeared. Identifying the lost partition using
hexdump was possible, but not practical. Finally, I tried something called R-Linux that miraculously restored my partition. Ironically, I easily managed to recover the partitions that I had actually wanted to delete — and that too without any specialized software. Oh well, everything is back to normal now.
And before anyone says it, I refuse to back up my data.
That’s right, we had a great party on Saturday night, the official “Freshers’ Party” for Indians, hosted by the Cornell India Association. So the CIA (no, not that one) is the news again, two days in a row.
The Big Red Barn is the perfect place for this kind of get-together. The first item was a very good way of getting people to mingle: you pick up a chit that gives you a word or a phrase, and form groups of five with others who have related phrases. In any case, I’ve noticed that people introduce themselves and talk much more freely with others from their own country, now that they are in a foreign land.
To me, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. When we are united by a culture and an ideology, we also proclaim that we are different from all others. A sense of unity at any level prevents us from having the same feeling at a higher, perhaps universal level. People from different states or cities group together when they are in their home country, but the distinction of state or city is seldom considered when they are in a foreign land. If everyone felt the same way back home, how much better our country would be!
Today, I watched Chak De! India, the movie, thanks to the efforts of the Cornell India Association. In brief, this is the story of the captain of the Indian hockey team who is forced to give up the game due to certain baseless allegations, but returns seven years later to coach the women’s national hockey team and lead them to victory in the World Cup.
My opinion about the movie: definitely worth watching. The script and direction combine a passion for the game with light touches of comedy and drama to conjure up a couple of hours of sheer excitement. There are also elements pointing to the personal lives of some of the characters, adding a measure of reality to the story.
For graduate students, it is of particular importance that they attend as many seminars and lectures by external speakers, PhD students and faculty from other universities as possible.
One obvious advantage is that it broadens your horizons to different kinds of problems. Sometimes, you don’t understand the details, but you do realize that some such problem exists. This also means that you get the opportunity to show off in front of everyone else: you can always contribute to a lively discussion on DNA sequences or solid-state devices by pointing out some hidden issues, and then everyone will be impressed.
The most important, yet oft ignored, reason for attending such conferences is that snacks are generally served — pizzas, Pepsi, cookies or something like that. There is nothing as disappointing as missing free pizza.