Saturday, May 31, 2008

@ the Native Place: Paragliding

The actual paragliding while pretty less in the amount of time was a lot of fun. It was hard work too.

Day 1 involved learning the parts of the glider and wearing the harness, opening the wing and setting it up. This was followed by about 15 runs from forward launch trying to hold the glider dead centre. Then we moved to a downward slope. By the end of the day, after carrying quite a few kgs for a few kilometres I was totally exhausted. Not to mention all the friction burns on the arms. So it was good that a hot cup of soup awaited us at home.

Day 2 was an early morning rise. Fortunately we went to a landing site instead of takeoff site at Shelar and practised a few runs. This was my first lift ( ~ 3 feet ) and also the first fall. At these moments when you first learn something there are so many things going on in the mind. Like riding a bicycle you keep doing a hundred things wrong or in excess or just not enough. Yogi kept telling everyone to FEEL the glider. And everyone was 'feel what? Is this some Jedi thing?'. But just like riding a bicycle some things slowly start to seep into the unconscious and muscles start thinking. By day 2 this was beginning to happen to some extent.

Day 2 in the evening was another set of runs finally followed by some bunny hops. By the end of that day I probably sustained permanent wrist damage due to lifting badly formed mushrooms and heavy paragliders.

Day 3 had the morning for theory. This involved watching a video about all the crap rules and conventions, stages and system of teaching/learning paragliding.

Day 4 had nothing important to say except that I flew pretty much perfect

Day 5 was a big day. First the written test for the P1 stage in which I managed to scrape a pass mark ( 16/20 ). The evening had pathetic winds which means we had about 3 bunny hops before we packed up and went up the hill to the 70m top to bottom launchpad. But the strong winds meant that we only got a tandem. Ofcourse I was allowed to use the brakes and bring in the glider for landing. But the view from the top was amazing, and the rush of air when skirting a ridge is worth its weight in gold. I'm going back ASAP!

Ofcourse since we didn't complete the required solo flights, I'm not a Elementary Pilot. All of us had a paltry 7 minutes of total airtime over 5 days... :(

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Changes while I was away

So I was totally disconnected from the outside world for 6 days. There have been a few changes on the Net. First Reddit has a new design with more colours, though for some reason it appears cramped to me. Orkut has a TLD for India. KDE caused a bit of a stir

@ the Native Place: Getting started with Paragliding

I took a 5 day break from my monotonous boredom to go Paragliding. First time pilot, no experience. The location was Native Place, the base for Fly Nirvana, at Kamshet.

First it was absolutely worth the money and the remote location and the bad roads. We had a hell of a great time. We ( me and cousin ) were lucky to meet two other people of a similar age - Rishabh and Apoorva.

For the first three days, I jotted down small notes on my cellphone, so here they are paraphrased. I'll recount the trip in detail in more posts. There will be quite a few of them.

24th May

  • 1:30pm - finished lunch. sitting in a hammock. leave for practice at 3.
  • 8:45pm - drinking soup. shoulders hurt, arms burned by friction, crap it was fun. ( This was first practice, ground handling and forward launch @ Shelar )

Shelar hill - our paragliding site

25th May

  • 6:23am - awake for 20min now. last night's bath will suffice. not much pain, shoulders tender though, will risk short sleeves ( For all 5 days we established a convention to only have a bath at night, although we could have used 2 a day, we were just too lazy )
  • 11:42am - more ground handling, got a few pushes to go about 3 ft in the air. fell once. rishabh had an encounter with a bush. Also practised Parachute Landing Falls - hopefully I'll never need them. I wore a long sleeved t-shirt after all.
  • 8:37pm - back to base from Shelar. Began bunny hops and short flights. upper body is crap ( it hurt so much! ) . chest jarred ( did a bad landing, the harness locked the jerk in ) . old injury haunts. ( this is something stupid that has been bothering me for 4 years now, some internal muscle out of place )

26th May

  • 8:54pm - another day of bunny hops. good success rate this time. stupid radio fails... sorry ravi :( ( The radio got switched off and I couldn't hear instructions when everyone else could here them. Ravi [ instructor ] was helping another student, and I bumped into him before killing the glider )


A Jenga structure just before it fell. We built lots of these, one went 13 storeys. ( Yes, those are fresh gooseberries at the back! )

Monday, May 19, 2008

Markdown and Pypes

For some reason I've decided to take on two really difficult projects. One is the markdown convertor. As I ranted below, I've been stuck at various dead ends. So I've been studying the Lua source. It uses minimum pattern matching and some line scans. That might give me some headway into a proper parser in Factor.

Pypes is based on Pipes, a mobile game I'm addicted to. Now it may not be very difficult, but generating unique structures will take some thinking...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Markdown what does it take to parse you

Its been 4 designs trashed since I've got this need to write a Markdown to HTML convertor in Factor. The catch: I don't want to use regular expressions. I'm trying to make it really generic but some stupid edge case comes along and crashes the parser. Talk about morale sapping. Particularly when I'm already quite frustrated. This is the only frustration which I can rant about in public.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gold-titanium alloy man

I just saw Iron Man, almost 2 weeks after its release due to certain circumstances.

And it is bloody good! Great special effects and acting. What I really loved was the believability, that that suit is really possible with today's technology (almost). Also there was a certain depth of character, not just good-guy-bashes-macho-egoistic-bad-guy.

And the script writers did well to put some humour. The best was probably the excess charge on the repulsor thing which resulted in Stark hitting the walls.

Perhaps it was too realistic, there wasn't any stunned expression as I left, the kind that happens after living in a fantasy world for 2 hours. 4/5

Monday, May 12, 2008

BITSAT bitsad

I gave BITSAT today, and got a score of 304/450. Considering the cutoffs for the previous year, I might not get CS, unless everybody finds the exam tougher.

With that done, I'm free, free for around 15 days after which all the results will start coming in.

Oddly I'm still not out of the exam mindset.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Great song to listen to when um... well you'll get the point after reading the lyrics

Death Cab for Cutie

The Atlantic was born today, and I'll tell you how
The clouds above opened up and let it out
I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere
When the water filled every hole
And thousands upon thousands made an ocean
Making islands where no islands should go (oh no...)

Most people were overjoyed; they took to their boats
I thought it less like a lake and more like a moat
The rhythm of my footsteps crossing flatlands to your
Door have been silenced for evermore
And the distance is quite simply much to far for me to row;
It seems farther than ever before (oh no...)

I need you so much closer...

So come on; come on...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Chyrp: Bloody good design

Chyrp has a great black design

Eating with my hands

As far as I know there are only three styles of eating: hands, chopsticks, knives and forks (spoons are universal).

And if you had to categorize what to eat with what, it would be

Hands: most indian food, fast food

Chopsticks: Oriental, South East, Asian, Japanese

knives and forks: most of the western world

So I find it pretty funny when people try to eat Indian breads which are flat and non porous with knives and forks. The forks don't pierce very well, the knives don't cut very well because the structure of the bread is different. It's all great to appear well educated in table manners, but I'll stick to my hands. Certain things are made to be eaten in a certain way.