This summer was very different from last summer. Last summer, I was injured and at home. So I ended up doing some constructive work for my research. This time around, summer was magnificence to the max. For readers in Chennai the importance of ‘summer’ is unknown…but here it makes a huge difference. Summer is when we can go out in actual non-Eskimo clothes. Summer is the best time of the year since it’s truly when the grass is green. But I have enjoyed this summer too much to my liking that it has pushed me to the limits of complacency. Most of my friends here in Minneapolis started to leave in May after making a job, in California invariably. So essentially it was one guy’s treat or the other. We had a party everyday. We bought a PS2 and played soul calibur (a weapons fighting game) and virtually beat the crap outta each other. I have some videos of my friends making really funny faces while playing this, that I now understand why Rajinikanth thinks he needs to make that face when he’s fighting. In the evenings we would play soccer which was great fun. In short I was so hard-pressed for time to do research. To make things worse, I joined our tennis ball cricket team which played some ‘serious cricket’ in a local league that comprised teams filled with imported TCSians, Infoscions and CTSians. Only that they preferred to be known as working for Walmart or BestBuy. What they failed to realize was that Walmart and BestBuy are nothing but the Saravana Stores and Vasanth & Co. of the USA. Anyways we were actually the defending champs of this tournament but we got our asses kicked in the second round and didn’t make it to the semi finals. One interesting trait of this series was that someone from our team dropped 2 catches in every match. I am proud that the roll of honor did pass on to me as well. I visited my friend in Michigan and got sloshed for the first time in my life there. I made some good friends there and got my first acquaintance to the World of Warcraft.
For people who are unaware of this game, here’s a south park episode on it.
http://www.southparkzone.com/episode-vid-1008.htm. It’s called Make Love not Warcraft :D.
This episode actually won the emmy award. (What’s happening to this world? :O). Now from then on I saw an interesting parallel between the world of warcraft and the ‘real’ world ( Please avoid elaborate discussions on the meaning of the ‘real world’. It’s a term for convenience.) As Stan’s father explains to his colleague in the South Park episode, in the real world I am Guruprasad Somasundaram, one of several research assistants to Professor Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, helping the cause of Robotics of computer vision to develop humanity. But in the World of Warcraft, he is Blodirun the Night elf druid. He’s a conjurer, he’s a spell-caster. He lives and fights for the alliance against the Horde. He lives in harmony with nature and uses the power of nature in his spells and possesses polymorphism…OOPS. He ‘s level 34 now out of a possible end-game 73. Blizzard entertainment has produced an ultimate life killer in WoW. If unattended or ignored WoW can kill your actual life. Or so they say; I think it has made me philosophical. I believe in the concept of the Matrix more than ever. (I think the concept has a name I am sure). I am also Hugi the dwarf hunter who has a pet snow leopard. MPD is not a psychological problem in the WoW. I am also doing great financially. I have 50 gold.
Anyways, to know more about this massively multiplayer online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), I seriously not recommend playing this game but limit your knowledge to what this post gives you. I am trying to get myself out of it.
In actual research life I went out filming. We filmed crosswalks all across Minneapolis and it’s suburbs to study vehicle behavior in various types of crosswalks. I worked with Curtis Hammond a researcher in the Human Factors Lab in the School of Kinesiology. The cameras did the filming and my code did the analysis; we were fooling around. He’s a versatile person who taught me some basic martial arts skills like throwing a screwdriver or a knife at a tree. The important factor for successful nailing was the amount of rotation you offered versus the horizontal velocity. In other words, during the time of travel the knife should perform a 180 degree rotation or if you are an expert, make it rotate multiples of 180 degrees over long distances. I also learned to use a staff to block and parry. Curtis is an expert of sticky-punching, which according to him suits his personality because it’s about parrying and avoiding blows and if possible break the enemy’s arm as opposed to attacking. He says he would never harm someone however pissed off he is at him. He’s one of those Americans who likes to make fun of Americans. According to him Americans are insensitive and selfish drivers. pfffff… dude! come watch us drive in India. Oh there’s one thing he can’t stand and drives him crazy ( actually me too) is talking on the phone while driving. I think people who talk on the phone while driving should be hanged without question.
In the WoW I am an expert at wielding staves and daggers. Oh wait! I am supposed to be out of it.
Towards the end of summer it became busy. I wrote two papers for the International conference on Robotics and Automation. I am not sure about their acceptance though. My professor thinks I am hardworking and I feel a little guilty about that. So it was all sun, fun and Blodirun in summer. There’s not much sun and fun these days.. and hopefully not much of Blodirun too in the future.