Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Who's That Blue Guy?

In case the lights ever fall short, we make damn sure He can track his way back by sound.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Bad Calculator Analogy To Life & Profound Things

Shit man, this calculator is just too awesome.

He says this out of the middle of nowhere. The adjective is inappropriate for the noun in question. And the word 'calculator' is pronounced an emphatic 'caliculator'. He usually says things in that way, so this time I only spare a left raised eyebrow in C's direction. The teacher is performing one of our favourite lullabies - Geometric Modelling using Hermite Cubic Splines. But then it's part of my job description to decode this to English and make legible notes for study. At the very least, I must try.

So I let it pass, and I try to think about the kind of man who names his son Hermite. It has to be someone decidedly evil, with a really cruel sense of humor. I'm guessing the mother tries to fight against the name in genuine concern for the boy's future, but patriarchal society shuts her up soon. And little Hermite (the termite, as other the little boys probably chanted) becomes an introvert because of, well, his name. A hermit, so to say, yes? Introversion leads to geekiness and all of that horrible mess churns in a giant cauldron in his head to spew out the summation of his life - Cubic Splines. Fathers can be so cruel sometimes.

But of course none of that matters. So C started again.

I mean, seriously dude. It just rocks. Look at this display!

It is the duty of all wise men to protect the strays from harm in their childish wanderings. The younglings are permitted to roam in dirty mires and etc etc, for they must learn through their own mistakes. But some gross errors must be rectified early, before they spread like a little carcinogenic something.

I take a deep breath. Silly, misled child. It is I who must bring this one back to the fold. I pat his back, and chuckle softly at his adolescent mistake.

It doesn't rock. It looks ugly. Your calci looks ugly, C.

Whaaat? What are you saying man?? Its perfect! I'm going to show my children this calci.

Ah, headstrong youth. More mistakes.

Your children, C, we have already agreed and accepted will be actually mine. Your ... phallus ... having dried up in the infernal sun of those blasted lands down south where you come from, will soon realize its own worthlessness as an organ, much like the appendix, and fall quietly. Like the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. Or autumn leaves. Think of autumn leaves. One Tuesday morning, without a note or a bonus night, it will be gone.

And secondly, the calculator isn't at all perfect. I mean, do you really want to get into this argument? You do? Look at those buttons on the top, so improperly and asymmetrically positioned. What does that mean? What does it show? Inferiority, my dear friend. The Casio 991ES bows is a poorly constructed, atrociously designed assembly which has no standing at all before a calculator of real worth - the Casio 991MS!

Your MS is stupid man. It can't even do definite integrals properly. Look at the graphical format ES has. It's just ... insane!

Nothing more than a child's toy, if it really makes things even simpler than they are. We of the Casio 991MS clan don't approve of such spoon-feeding. We are engineers, fully capable of integrating within limits by ourselves. And please let's stop talking about such frivolities as integration! Look at these buttons. Feel them! FEEL! Now examine closely the rectangular dimensions, just exactly correct to absorb the lightest touch of the tip of someone's index finger. A quiet, dignified grey tone on a navy blue body. And yellow text, man! Yellow text! It matches. Everything just fits.

He just didn't seem to get the point. On and on he argued. Seasons changed behind us and weeks and months passed. In case you check on factual accuracy so much, might I add our teacher knew how to bend the space-time continuum. He used his powers to stretch classes to infinite durations. At the end, he'd bring us back to one hour after he'd started. But anyway.

What nonsense! Look at the ES buttons! They're awesome! Texture and size and all, everything in place.

And then I had him.

Aha! But look at the big round button then. Can yours compete with the 991MS big round button? Be honest. My big round button whoops your big round button's behind!

A careful scrutiny of the two big round buttons was taken against proper lighting for the next half minute.

He conceded.

Fine. So your big round button is better. But the ES is just too sleek, man. It's just sexy.

What? Pardon me? Sexy? Really? Your calculator is sexy? I'm afraid I don't see how oval buttons, ridiculous color schemes and an insecure cover for the thing comprises a sexy calculator. Mine, on the other hand, is one such. Notice the smooth curves of the cover. See how it slides on so effortlessly. And yet, if you listen carefully, you hear the faint click of reassurance - your treasure is now safe, it says. Your work is secure. Go ahead, put me down. I'll be okay. And what of yours? You can't hear anything, God only knows if it has latched properly, and I'm just supposed to assume that things have worked out? No, C. Things don't work like that. Not if you want to get somewhere, be something. Do you want to be something, C? Do you? Then you have to let it go.

No ... it can't be true. Don't say that. I don't believe you!

But it is, C. It is. I don't mean to hurt you, but it's time you knew. It was never going to work out this way. Not in the long run. You have to let go, man. Do it.

No! Don't say this to me. Not now! I can't do it, I can't!

It takes a very strong man to take such a heavy blow and not burst into tears. And C is not a strong man. He's a weak little boy you could beat up if you were 8 years old and had jaundice. He cried. He sobbed into his sleeve, his head kept low on the desk.

I watched the crumbling of this mask ... this facade of his. What a beautiful insight into life! We treasure what we have, and ignoring the world we learn to love it. Despite it's mistakes, despite it's asymmetric key positioning, we learn to accept and to love. But isn't that just denial? The truth will catch up to us sometime. We must face it like men or it will tackle us from behind while we're having tiffin in school and everything spills everywhere and it's all actually quite funny, don't we see it and we can't cry because we're big boys now.

Yes, life is about things like these.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Empty Pots Clatter

Sometimes there are things you just can't say without sounding cliched.

It has been said before. It has been used before. Everyone does it. It's the easiest way out!

And yet, sometimes you still really want to. But you can't. What will they say?

So, we shan't.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Mouth Gone Dry & An Aching Neck*

If you looked, you could see the cuts of the stone-cutting tool the sculptor must have used. On this very piece of stone in front of you, some 2000 years ago, the man had chopped and sliced. With delicate cuts, maybe afraid of a mistake, or perhaps with daring strong strokes, the sign of a master, he had worked days and nights to produce this face.

If you looked deeply, you would ask yourself, what face did he see to make this one? How would he know what Dionysus looked like? Did he let anyone see it while he worked, or did he keep it away from outside eyes? Did he have a glorious vision of a god before him, or was he copying from others?

If you looked, you could see the effects of 2000 years on the surface of the stone. You could see lines and cracks across the ridges. You could see chips of stone missing and the difference in color in the chipped sides.

The lords had ordered the piece themselves, spoken to him in person. He would make a great commission of it, he knew. But that wasn't what was making him smile now. After working for 6 months without a pause, he was going to be done today. And it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

He turned it around, using his fingers delicately on the stone surface to feel for bumps or broken "skin".


It was perfect.

He wiped droplets of sweat off his brow and gazed into the face that had occupied his mind and thoughts for so many months now. He didn't know if he had done it intentionally some day, or did it just seem so real to him now, but he almost felt he could see the veins on Dionysus' forehead gushing strong blood into a mighty mind. An image of strength, force of will and sheer power, brought out by a mortal's work on eternal stone.

They would know his name now. He would be famous. His work would make him immortal for the ages and many years later when he was dead, they would remember his name.

His name...

If you looked closely, it seemed as if soft fingertips had caressed and carved those wild tassles of hair. No hammer and punch could be that perfect. Was it clay that the sculptor had modelled and somehow turned to hard stone? Had he known all the while the disastrous effects of one chip too big or one knock too strong? Or had his hands become one with the hammer and to the punch such that he didn't know where one stopped and the other ended?

If you cared enough, you could read the plaque giving information about the bust. It mentioned the approximate year of completion, off by only about 40 years. The sculptor had died by then, but no matter. The rest of the plaque spoke of the team that had found this magnificent but flawed reproduction of Dionysus. Modern historians and myth-experts now knew Dionysus had a longer face and less prominent forehead. It was but a common mistake of sculptors of that era. Such a pity, really.

But the point is, you wouldn't look so closely. You couldn't care so much. There was little time and clearly no patience for a closer look. Because a sign ahead pointed towards the Cappella Sistina. And The Last Judgment. And The Creation of Man.

* noticeable symptoms after leaving the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel.