Of Red Bull, Dandelions and Portable Toilets: Random Photos

I thought this was pretty funny; looks like someone had one too many energy drinks during finals week!
Red Bull Gives Pedestrians Wings!
Red Bull Gives Pedestrians Wings!

I’m not sure what these are, could be dandelions or maybe they’re the seeds of some other plant and just look similar. Either way, there were thousands of these floating around last week; enough to cover the grass with a thin layer that looked almost like snow!
Dandelions I
Dandelions I

Dandelions II
Dandelions II
I wonder why they needed so many portable toilets (the sign on the side says Pit Stop)
Pit Stop Portable Toilets as far as the eye can see
Pit Stop Portable Toilets as far as the eye can see!

Visit To The High Museum Of Art, Atlanta

We visited the High Museum of Art at Atlanta during the last week of our winter break - they have free entry for residents of Fulton county on the first Saturday of every month. We didn’t anticipate the crowd though and we waited in line for over an hour before we even got to the ticket counter! They had Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition up at that time and we figured we might as well take the opportunity to visit it – that meant another 20 minute wait. By the time we were done, it was kinda late and we were hungry so we didn’t really get to see the rest of the exhibits. And to be honest, I’m not really the kind of person who can really appreciate art; don’t get me wrong, I appreciate good work as much as the next guy, just not enough to sit and look at a sculpture or painting for hours at end.

Photography isn’t allowed in almost half the areas of the museum and you need to sign an agreement that states that the images you take of the artwork are for personal use only and that you will not share or post them online (including Facebook or blogs!) so there isn’t anything for me to post except for a couple of pictures of the museum itself.



Of GRA Positions And SSN Applications

I've got a job as a Graduate Research Assistant at the GT-RNOC lab which is an awesome place for someone like me - the work involves all sorts of interesting technologies and platforms, ranging from mobile devices to set-top boxes to VoIP - and people there are really smart and fun as well (hey guys!).

As part of the whole "employed and getting paid" thing, I was out early this morning to apply for an SSN. The Social Security Administration office at the Peachtree-Summit Federal Building, 401, W Peachtree Street, Suite 2860, Atlanta is open 0830-1530, Mon-Fri. Here's a tip, if you're looking for the building on Google Maps, don't search by just the street address - marker will turn up at the wrong intersection. You want to also add the building name - Peachtree-Summit Federal Building. The entrance is at the corner of W. Peachtree St NW and Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd/Ralph McGill Blvd NE. And for some reason, this building doesn't show up when you search for 'social security' but I've edited the marker and added the type 'Social Security Office' so it should be part of the search results, whenever the data is updated.

I took the MARTA to the Civic Center Station which is right next to the building and stepped out at 0830 but because Google Maps told me to go the wrong way, I wasted about 10 mins - trotting off in the wrong direction and then coming back. At the entrance, you need to sign in, show some identification and go through an airport style security check with everything through the X-ray machine (didn't need to take off my shoes though). The office is up on the 28th floor but the elevator was fast! I'm pretty sure I've taken longer to get to the top of a 5-storey building in India!

I'd already filled out the form (Application for a Social Security Card - SS-5) but the one they gave me at the OHR was kinda outdated, so after I took a time-ticket, I filled out a new form. There were just a couple of people before me - I waited for about 20 minutes and the actual process only took about 10 minutes. I was back home by 0930.

I was told to expect the card in about 2 weeks so now I wait!

 UPDATE [1500 11 Feb 2010]: Bummer - after almost 4 weeks of waiting, nothing. I called up the Social Security office and was told that my application showed as processed and that I should've received it. The lady told me to come in to the office in person, with all my documents, again. So now I wait another two weeks, hopefully this time it won't be lost in the mail.

 UPDATE [1300 22 Feb 2010]: Woohoo! It's finally here! Interesting to note, when they said 'card', I expected something like a credit card, made of plastic. Instead, it's made of card stock.

Snow Day In Atlanta

It was really cold here, in Atlanta, these last couple weeks - temperatures dipped to -8 °Celsius and with the wind blowing, it felt even colder. At first there was ice all over and it finally snowed last week on the 7th of Jan. Georgia Tech was closed on Friday - too bad classes on only started this Monday :D

The night it snowed, we found a bat sitting outside our door - the poor little guy must've been half-frozen in the cold. He stayed there for two nights but was gone the third.

P.S. Yeah, I know, this post is a week late but I've been busy and uploading so many images to Blogger is slow work, so...

Ice Skating At The Centennial Olympic Park In Atlanta

Waterfall at the Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta

Waterfall at the Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta

Waterfall at the Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta
We went ice-skating yesterday at the Centennial Olympic Park yesterday and it was a lot of fun! The entry fee is $7 per person for 90 minutes with optional $2 for skate rental and $1 for a locker (for upto 2 hours) but as Georgia Tech students, admission and skate rental was $6 per head so that worked out well for us. As of this post, College Discount Days are Mondays and Tuesdays - valid during the usual operating hours of the rink.

The outside of the ice skating rink at the Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta

Ice skating rink at the Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta
It was our first ice-skating and the first few minutes on ice were awkward and scary as our feet kept threatening to slide out from under us - we hugged the wall all the way around! After a while though, I was managing quite well (in my own opinion) and my first and only fall was almost an hour after I stepped onto the rink. The only problem I had was with stopping! My friends had a slightly harder time moving around though - they probably need a little more time. To be fair, I've had some practice on roller-skates, even though that was over 10 years ago.

Ice skating rink at the Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta

Concession stands at the ice skating rink at the Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta
The rink wasn't over-crowded - I suspect the sub-zero (in °Celsius) temperature had something to do with it - and there were quite a few other first time skaters so we didn't feel too out of place! I don't know how the rink compares in size to other places but it seemed big enough for a beginner. The only thing that sucked about the evening was that my skates were wet from the inside and my feet were numb by the time we left. So if you go, you might want to make sure you've been given dry ones!

All in all, we had a great time and if you haven't been ice-skating before, this is a great chance to try it out. And if you're studying at GATech, the student discount should be reason enough to go at least once.

UPDATE [1507 06 Jan 2010]: Though there's an ATM on the premises, it might help to keep in mind that the rink accepts payments by cash or check only.

UPDATE [2035 20 Jan 2010]: According to the Inside Access blog on ajc.com, the rink is 64 by 116 feet — and has 350 pairs of skates available.

Georgia Tech Gets New Stinger Buses

The new Stinger Green Route

Classes for the Spring semester at Georgia Tech start on Monday, 12th 11th Jan, 2010 and the Stinger service which was suspended during the winter break started today (Monday, 04th Jan, 2010). The big news is that the Green Route has changed.

We also have new buses and they look much better than the old ones - those were getting kinda worn out. And it looks like there is someone new in charge - the sides of buses have the legend

Owned And Operated By
Groome Transportation of Tn, Inc
DOT # 924765

The new Stinger buses

The inside of the new Stinger buses

Interestingly, Google'ing for this organization brought me to a campaign asking for action to help save the bus drivers' jobs - apparently all 40 of the existing drivers are being replaced with non-union drivers.

NextBus.com was flaky in the morning - the route wasn't updated and the system obviously didn't have the new stops and direction of the Green Route so the predictions were all messed up. It seems to have been fixed in the evening though.

And speaking of NextBus, if you happen to use Samurize you might want to check out my Next Bus scraper along with a sample Samurize config that should look something like the screenshot here.

The sample Samurize config for the NextBus scraper