www milind org

This is my personal website. My professional website is https://www.engineering.purdue.edu/~milind. The views and opinions on this blog are my own and do not reflect those of my employer.

April 10, 2006

State fans are nuttier than a Payday

Filed under: Journal — Milind Kulkarni @ 10:46 pm

As proof, I present this thread

Background information: Earlier today there were rumors floating around that John Calipari was coming to Raleigh to tour NC State’s facilities, possibly as a prelude to his agreeing to coach the Wolfpack. Later in the day, a Memphis paper reported that Calipari was, in fact, still in Tennessee, but another outlet (don’t know which), said that Calipari was merely coming to Raleigh later than planned. And so the stalking… err… race… was on!

If you ever need a stalker (and God knows why you would), you could do a lot worse than some of the people in the thread. Highlights include:

  • Finding a private flight that left Memphis and was scheduled to land at a little-used municipal airport in Chapel Hill.
  • Tracking the flight as it was en route and noticing that it didn’t actually land in Chapel Hill, but instead diverted to RDU. This was proved by overlaying the actual flight path on Google Earth and comparing it to the locations of the two airports.
  • Monitoring the RBC center webcam and noticing that the lights were turned on several hours after they were turned off, for no apparent reason
  • Calling the RBC center security office and finding out that the media was cleared out of the building
  • Putting it all together conspiracy theory style to make all the timelines line up

I rest my case.

March 22, 2006

Crazy news

Filed under: Journal — Milind Kulkarni @ 11:45 pm

So some of you have heard this news already, but I figured I might as well disseminate it to all of you at once rather than wondering who I’ve told and who I haven’t. The short form of it is this:

I’m leaving Cornell.


Of course, the long form isn’t quite as drastic as that sounds. The general story is this: My advisor has decided to leave Cornell (and the long form of that really is as drastic as it sounds), accepting a position at the University of Texas (at Austin). He’ll be starting there next semester, and moving down there some time this summer. This, of course, puts a major crimp in my previously-held view that I would be living in Ithaca until my degree was completed. Instead, I, too, will be moving down to Austin so I can continue working with him while pursuing my degree.

The first question most people seem to ask upon hearing this news is “Are you still getting your degree from Cornell?” And the answer is, as always, “Yes.” Basically, I’m going to be living and working down there, but will remain a Cornell student (and hence why it’s not quite as drastic as leaving Cornell). I’ll even have the joy of flying back to Ithaca in two years (or whenever) to give my thesis defense. So the upshot is: All the benefits of a Cornell education without having to actually deal with living in Ithaca.

The second question people ask is “How do you feel about moving?” And this one doesn’t have as pat an answer. I have conflicting feelings. In many ways, I’m very, very excited to be moving to Austin. In terms of things to do, Ithaca doesn’t hold a candle to Austin. I’ve gone to Austin before for a job interview and remember coming back and thinking that I definitely wouldn’t mind living there, and now I get the chance to. Until I decided to come to Cornell, I don’t think I ever contemplated living in Ithaca.

The downside to moving to Austin is more or less the same downside as all other moves. After living here for four years, Ithaca has become my home. I’ve put down roots here and would have to leave a lot of friends behind. That’s always the hardest part. Not to mention finding some place besides Shortstop to go to for lunch on weekends. Also, I have to move out of this apartment, which I had planned to keep until I graduated, continuing my trend of moving every, single, freaking year. Bah.

Final good point: Austin is more accessible, so all you folks can come (and better come!) visit me easily. It’s warm, it’s fun, and if you come during SXSW, I promise you that we’ll never fall into the trap of trying to figure out something to do.

December 17, 2005

Womack!

Filed under: Journal — Milind Kulkarni @ 4:07 pm

John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry on the West Wing, died yesterday. The first 3 or so seasons of the West Wing, in my opinion, were the best television I have ever seen, and John Spencer’s character was a big part of that.

I don’t know what’s weirder: the fact that when I saw that John Spencer died, that my first thoughts were about the character he played, or the fact that I grew so attached to the characters of the West Wing that I’m more upset about this than any other recent celebrity passing.

Rather than cleaning my room today, I’m going to go back through seasons 1 and 2 and watch some of John Spencer’s greatest hits.

(also, he played Womack in “The Rock,” hence the title of the post. Read in a Sean Connery accent for full effect)

October 15, 2005

Bond, James Bond

Filed under: Journal — Milind Kulkarni @ 12:59 am

From here:

Rumored to have also been in the running were British actors Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gerard Butler and Ewan McGregor.

One of these things is not like the other. Hugh Grant? Hugh “charmingly befuddled Englishman” Grant? How was that going to work?

Bond: Hi… m-my name is… oh dear, I’ve gone and forgotten it… Bond, yes! That’s it! Bond. Jack B — wait, that’s not it. John. Oh dear… James! Yes, James Bond! My name is Bond, J-James Bond!
Hot Bond Girl: Piss off.

October 14, 2005

Who wants to listen to Guster Radio?

Filed under: Journal — Milind Kulkarni @ 5:48 pm

So I stumbled across Pandora, which purports to answer the question “Can you help me discover more music I like?” It’s quite straightforward. You enter a single artist, or even a single song by that artist, and it begins to stream music to you that’s similar to your artist. So feel free to punch in your favorite artist! I typed in “Guster,” at first. The first song it played me was “Amsterdam.” Good job, geniuses, I thought. But then it came up with The Shoes, and now The Greenhornes, both bands I’ve never heard of, but which sound pretty good to me.

This is an outgrowth of the Music Genome Project, which is a way of very specifically describing any song over a range of variables. Apparently I like bands with “mild rhythmic syncopation” and “a subtle use of vocal harmony.” I guess they do some sort of matching to bring up songs that you’ll probably like.

The only drawback is that after 10 free hours of listening, it costs 3 dollars a month after that. But it’s still pretty interesting to check out. I may even choose to subscribe.

September 14, 2005

A pox on all meth labs

Filed under: Journal — Milind Kulkarni @ 10:38 pm

Pseudoephedrine, the main active ingredient in common cold medicines such as Sudafed, is chemically quite similar to ephedrine (hence the name). As such, it can be used to make methamphetamine. Since crank is quite illegal, and with the growth of small-scale meth labs which use pseudoephedrine in their production, many states have placed restrictions on the purchase of pseudoephedrine containing medicines.

So why do I care? There I am at 7:30, standing in Target (Tar-zhay?), and I’m in the market for pseudoephedrine. Not because I’m planning on starting up a meth lab in my new apartment. Instead, I just have a terrible cold, and I’m out of everything but Nyquil. Unfortunately, New York no longer allows the unregulated sale of pseudoephedrine. At Target, the process is very similar to purchasing large items: rather than picking up the item itself, you take a ticket for it. You then take the ticket to the pharmacy, and if you’re over 18, and you’re not buying too much, they’ll give you the medicine. Unfortunately, Target’s pharmacy closes at 7. So I’m without cold relief! Damn you, illicit methamphetmine producers!

September 6, 2005

Well. That’s something you don’t hear every day.

Filed under: Journal — Milind Kulkarni @ 1:07 am

It’s amazing how many interesting, or even disturbing, things you just hear as opposed to see, and how these fleeting bits of sound get put together into a coherent story.

Earlier today, I heard a domestic disturbance going on in the apartment downstairs. A man was yelling at a woman rather loudly, something along the lines of “you can’t just take her and leave!” The yelling lasted for maybe 10 minutes before it stopped. I wonder if she left, I thought to myself.

Then, earlier this evening, I heard a lot of loud knocking downstairs. Maybe the guy left and now he’s trying to get in?. Once, twice, and then one last time. Then the knocking stopped. Well, either she was stupid and let him in, or he gave up and left (at this point, my various survival/scaredy-cat instincts kick in, and I deadbolt the door).

Finally, five minutes ago, I heard even louder banging. Well, I guess he left last time and now he’s maybe drunk and trying to get in. Once, then again. Then: “Open the door!” *beat* “Open the door! This is the police!” Huh, I guess she was dumb enough to let him back in. I wonder who called the cops. “Get down on the ground! Now!” I guess the police got inside. I hope this ends well

I haven’t heard anything since then. I wonder how things turned out.

September 1, 2005

Biking fun

Filed under: Journal — Milind Kulkarni @ 1:17 am

Today, I had my first flat tire. As I was pulling out of the bike rack area at work, I heard a fairly steady thump, thump sound. I looked down and thought to myself, “You know, I’m pretty sure that my rear tire isn’t supposed to stick that far out to the sides at the bottom.” So I stopped, and took a better look. Yup, definitely flat. I hadn’t gotten too far away from work, so I walked the bike back to the shade (a necessity, since it topped out at 98 degrees here, today) to try my hand at fixing it.

Fortuitously, last Sunday I decided that I had tempted fate long enough, and went down to the local bike store (Livermore Cyclery). While there, I bought a seat bag, a spare tube, a patch kit, and a pretty swanky multi-tool (what can I say, I’m a gadget freak with too much disposable income). I also got an on-frame pump to complement the pump I already had at home. I’d like to say that my buying this stuff so recently was prescient, but I think it’s more likely that I was just stupid for not having gotten it sooner (especially considering how much use I get out of the bike). Having bought that stuff, I decided that I should probably learn how to use it. Enter the Park Tool website, where I read through how to pull off a tire, how to patch/replace a tube, and how to get everything running again. I will chalk up having read the site before setting out on the bike again to some fairly good common sense on my part.

Armed with a vague recollection of how to deal with my flat, I pulled the rear wheel off the bike and saw that there was pretty much no air at all left in the tire. Using my now so-handy multitool, I got the tire off and saw that the tube was likely ruined beyond repair (it was torn right at the valve stem. Anyone have any ideas why that may have happened?) so I decided to just replace the tube. That’s when I hit my first snafu. It appeared to me that the spare tube I had was far too big for the bike wheel. Even partially inflated, it didn’t fit snugly around the wheel. Getting a little skittish, I actually took the tube off the wheel and compared it to the broken tube. Turns out they were both the same size (so why is it that the tubes seem significantly bigger than the wheels?).

After getting the tire back on (that was surprisingly hard to do!), I reattached the wheel on the second try (the first time through I had cleverly gotten the chain to be completely on one side of the hub) and headed off. Total time: about 30 minutes. Not bad for my first attempt, I think. It was even sort of fun!

Anyway, that’s my biking story for the day.

August 29, 2005

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Filed under: Journal — Milind Kulkarni @ 12:30 am

I’m about to write something that I basically never do: a review of a CD. But, in classical Milind style, I’m first going to preface it with some navel-gazing about why I basically never do these things.

There are basically two broad reasons, these being, roughly, an awareness of my own shortcomings, and a fear that other people will develop an awareness of said shortcomings. Now, before you think I’ve up and gone super-angtsy on you, realize that when I say “shortcomings,” I don’t mean in it in the “My life (and by extension, I) suck for the following reasons” sense. I mean it in a more specific sense, a failing of knowledge in the first case, and the fear of a failing of taste in the second.

While I listen to a lot of music, I don’t listen to it in the sophisticated, even analytical, way that many people do. My library, and my listening range, is simply not large, nor varied, enough for me to make comparisons such as “This track sounds like early Talking Heads, or perhaps Radiohead before Thom Yorke went batshit crazy.” I have listened to both Talking Heads and Radiohead, but I don’t know their music well enough to make such comparisons. For all I know, maybe Thom Yorke never even went batshit crazy.

Because I don’t have this sort of background knowledge, I would generally feel more comfortable doing something like linking to a Pitchfork Media review rather than trying to make such comparative statements myself. As a result of this, any sort of “review” that I may write will mainly be about my opinions of the music. If I were to write something like “This track reminds me of Modest Mouse,” I couldn’t say for certain that it really does sound like Modest Mouse, only that I, myself, feel that way.

Thus, the review would go from being something relatively concrete, grounded in a fairly rich musical background (although in the case of the Pitchfork Media review, this could come off as pretentious) to a much more personal (although, again, in Milind style you’re not going to get much “This track is as refreshing as a rainbow, first appearing after a spring shower”) review, grounded instead in my own taste.

That’s where the second reason comes in. I don’t trust my taste. Or rather, I don’t trust that others think I have good taste. This shows up most often when I’m asked about a movie. I refuse to say definitively whether or not the movie is good, hiding instead behind a wall of “I liked it”s and “I thought it was entertaining”s. I feel that if I unequivocally state my feelings for a movie I am essentially putting my tastes on trial. And if others don’t agree, it always feels like it’s my tastes that are lacking. So, by writing a review, I am once again putting my tastes out there for inspection and derision.


But to hell with all that. Here’s my review of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah‘s debut album, unimaginatively and ungrammatically titled Clap Your Hands Say Yeah:

Short form of the review: I liked it! You should go buy it, if you can (see below).

Long form:

This is fun music to listen to. It’s not particularly deep (well, maybe it would be if I could understand most of what the lead singer is going on about). It’s just fun. I can have this on as my background music all day, and simply not get tired of it. A lot of people that don’t like the album have a large problem with the lead singer’s voice. I admit that his voice isn’t exactly Julliard trained (although the band is from NYC, so I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering: “Why the hell not??”), and at times can be sort of grating. But it has an oddly hypnotic quality that seems to blend really well with the music, for some reason.

And oh, the music. The rest of the band is reason enough to buy this CD. The lead singer could literally spend his entire time jumping on cats’ tails, and I’d still recommend buying the CD. I can’t quite put my finger on why I like the music so much. I think it’s just about as close to pure, distilled, poppy indie rock music as you can get. Or, at least, as close to pure, distilled, poppy-indie-rock-music-that-Milind-likes as you can get. Suffice it to say, it’s good.

Now to specific tracks:

There is, in fact, a track that reminds me of Modest Mouse, “Over and Over Again (Lost and Found).” There is a guitar/rhythm line going at the beginning that, if it were on “The Moon and Antarctica,” would have me convinced that it belonged there rather than on this CD. It’s quite good.

Another good track is “In This Home On Ice.” Having just re-watched Garden State, I feel that this song would not be out of place at all in the movie, or on its amazing soundtrack. I think that it may have fit just after the scene where Zach Braff and Natalie Portman sit in front of the fire in his friend’s mansion. Not during any scene that was actually in the movie. Just after that scene. It just seems right. I dunno.

Despite really liking that track, it may not even be my favorite track on the album. That may instead be “Is This Love?” which has the curious distinction of getting easily stuck in my head without my minding. It’s just an upbeat, happy, pop song. I love it.

And lest you think that by specifically mentioning these three tracks that I’m implying that the others are in some manner wanting, let me disabuse you of that notion. There are no songs on this CD that I dislike. I like them all.

But anyway, this is just one man’s opinion. Feel free to form your own. They have three of their songs available for download from their website. You should give them a listen. If you do choose to do the right thing and buy their CD (far be it from me to pass a value judgment, but if you don’t, the terrorists have already won), be aware that they produced and distributed it themselves, so it can be hard to find. I bought it from Amazon, but through a third party, as opposed to Amazon itself.

Hope you like it!

July 20, 2005

India trip 2005

Filed under: Pictures — Milind Kulkarni @ 10:51 am

Finally, in a fit of non-procrastination, I have put up the photos from our India trip. They’re not sorted yet, so there are just 450+ of them in one large directory. I hope to get them all sorted into sub-albums this afternoon some time. Until then, check them out here.

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