Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fighting with Uncle Sam

It took two PhD students a cumulative of 10 hours to Not complete a federal tax return and two state tax returns over the weekend. Phaedrus and I have to file joint state tax returns for 2 states as we are residents of 2 different states, and North Carolina tax instructions are umm, not very clear. So much so, that even TurboTax did some totally whacky calculations and confused us for another 3 hours. How did that get THAT fraction?...we tried every permutation and combination, till we figured that it had got it wrong as well.

After having taken turns nudging each other awake from falling asleep over the forms, we finally called it quits at 4.00 in the morning, broken and defeated by Uncle Sam. Phaedrus, exhausted, cursing my home-state, had a sound, dreamless sleep; I saw line instructions and arithmetic all night. I woke up and zombied over to the computer and tax forms blindly staring at them for another hour first thing in the morning, before Phaedrus came to check if I had died or something sitting in my chair.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


After a colleague announced to others in a meeting today that I have a "hilarious" blog, I am forced to fulfill the adjective describing this blog. Here goes.

Playing to the Gallery

Surely you do not think me to be a bad piano
A bad piano throws up when one bangs down on it
I only sputter.

You say, I am off-tune?
Is that your fault or mine or his?

On the other hand, I think you shouldn't sit where you are, up there.
Forcing me to be louder to reach your discerning ears.
I am an instrument, you know,
Not a vocal chord.

On the other hand, vocal chords strain more than I am straining.
What would you do then, compare them to a bad piano?
Like me?



You may have heard the news of the cloak.

The cloak - more recently made famous by a privately wealthy school where Harry and the Romulans studied electromagnetics in 400 AD. The school is known for its legendary cigar smoking statue….. captured with its Hogwartian backdrop only in brochures and tourist-clicked photographs. On clear windless days, it is more likely for the statue to be found cloaked by a dimpled brownish orange bouncing sphere, with no wings, and thin black lines drawn across it. The beauty of this sphere, without the color and the dimples, is that it is the focal point of the diagrams explaining how the cloak works…using the black lines to great bending effect.

Surprisingly, the inventor does not have a mane of wild wavy hair and a tongue sticking out. He does not have a cigar, in spite of the tongue not sticking out. He does not have a scraggly white beard and bushy eyebrows, to draw inattention to the fact that his tongue is not sticking out. Why?

But his other-world non-Romulan pate radiates a disconcerting aura of