As I start writing this, it’s been 365 days, 00hrs, and 3 minutes since I started my Texas timer. So, at precisely this time last year, I was waiting vainly for my luggage to fail to arrive at DFW airport and was then whisked away on the wrong side of the road to look after a cat, 6 goldfish and a turtle.

It’s common at a milestone like this to look back and reflect on all the goings on: things that have changed, things that went well, things that went badly, lessons learnt and the like.

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A personal update

Red!Last night I became acutely aware that this blog of mine is read by many of my family members and friends. I also became aware that most of my recent posts have had very little to do with something these people really want to know about: me.

So, I thought I would devote this afternoon to giving you all an update on my goings-on. I have sat down to write this many times, but there’s just so much to write it’s daunting. I also have this desire to start at the beginning, but the beginning is so far away that it would take till next year for me to elaborate on it all. So, here goes, stream-of-conciousness-like.

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Complex Numbers

Mandelbrot Whole setAs I have no doubt mentioned before, one of the perks of my job is I get to work with some very smart people. People who got degrees in pure mathematics because they were simply so geeky they couldn’t help themselves. So, what does a Maths geek do when he/she goes out into the workforce? Well, they program targeting systems for ships, perform calculations that allow us to know exactly where the bomb needs to be dropped, or, in the case of, George Dantzig (uber mathematics geek of the 1940’s) develop the simplex algorithm, for the very purpose of optimizing logistics for the US military during World War 2. Maths is sexy, and maths can kill.

Mandelbrot SwirlSo, it’s always exciting to have a discussion with one of the maths geeks at work. On Thursday, a colleague (who, I am told, actually has programmed some pretty dangerous stuff) showed me this cool construct which is his computer background: a Mandlebrot set. All the diagrams here, I drew myself.

Ok, so anyone can look at a Mandlebrot and say “wow, that’s pretty. But really, what does it mean? Why do mathematics geeks get all weak in the knees when they see one? Why doesn’t he have sexy women or cars on his background? To understand that, we need to delve deeper into the mathematics. Come on, join me, it’ll be fun, pretty and exciting.

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Ode to Automaticity

A few posts back, I promised more Barenaked Ladies. That’s the band, not actual ladies. BNL had quite a few popular songs, although most people don’t know all that much about them since most of their stuff is actually a little off the wall. One of their most popular songs was a quasi-rap called “One Week”. I recall with some fondness listening to my friend “V” singing along to the words:

How can I help it if I think you’re funny when you’re mad?
Trying hard not to smile, though I feel bad.
I’m the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral.
Don’t understand what I mean?
Well you soon will.

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Front of the Kwik-E-MartAs a promotion for the upcoming Simpsons movie, a number of American 7-11 stores were converted into Kwik-E-Mart stores. The Kwik-E-Mart, of course, is a fictional store within the Simpsons’ universe. I, of course, just had to go and see what all the fuss was about.

TV plays such an important role in our lives and culture nowadays that anything like this, anything related to something we’ve seen on TV immediately grabs our attention. Love it or loathe it, we are all influenced by it even if, like me, you haven’t watched any TV in over a year.

Homer Simpson's DonutI guess the very fact that this store exists is a commentary on the relationship between TV and culture, or at least American culture. You see, the Simpsons satire so neatly reflects the true nature of things that while I was at the store, I had a lot of difficulty telling the “fake” goods apart from the “real” ones.

Items such as Buzz Cola, KrustyOs, Squishees and, of course, donuts were all on sale. The store was thick with pundits all here to indulge in America’s favourite past time: buying stuff. I, of course, should be one to talk. I bought half a dozen suspiciously pink “Homer” donuts and a six-pack of “Buzz” cola.