Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Grandpa's memories

So children, did I ever tell you about the time I went to court? No? Well it was 50 years ago. I was in Vancouver then, in my later twenties and studying at the University of British Columbia. I wasn't like this then, I had quite a bit more hair, loved climbing trees, chased girls in skirts and red boots and drove a motorcycle. That is where the story begins. With a motorcycle.

Grandpa was pretty poor then, much as I am now, but quite happy. All grad students are poor by definition, and so was I. But I loved motorcycling and so with the little money that I had I had bought this motorcycle which was almost as old as I was. But it wasn't a piece of junk from the 80s, it could go like the wind and I loved it.

Well in Vancouver, which is in Canada, on the other side of the world, you have months of Winter were you can't really ride a motorcycle and so poor people cancel their insurance and once in a while go down to where they keep their motorcycles, pet them and run a hand over them and go back up. They wait for the summer when it isn't that cold to buy insurance and ride again. Eh? What is insurance? Insurance is money that you pay the government so that if something bad happens, and you don't have enough money, the government pays for you and the people that you might have hurt.

Well one day, grandpa wanted to fill up the motorcycle's tank with gas. I had read somewhere that if I leave the motorcycle without it being ridden for long, its better with a full tank of gas. Otherwise the insides of the tank could get rusty. So grandpa had been taking a can to a petrol pump nearby to fill up the motorcycle bit by bit. But the second time I did that it leaked pretty bad, and I was even kicked out of my lab by my friends for reeking the place up with the gasoline smell from my backpack. Have you smelt gasoline? Some people like it, some people don't. Well most of my friends didn't.

Well so grandpa thought hard and long for a few days. I was a law abiding young man, as you should all be when you grow up. So I didn't want to break the law and drive the motorcycle to a petrol pump without insurance. But the day was too beautiful and the petrol pump was a small distance away. So grandpa stuck an old number plate onto the motorcycle, crossed fingers, and with a vary eye out for the police, drove down to the gas station close by.

Thankfully the police didn't catch grandpa and I filled my bike full of petrol. I started it up and was a few blocks away when it died. A motorcycle not ridden for a while tends to act weird. Its like when you have been sleeping for a few months at a stretch (like say Kumbhakarna or Snow White) and made suddenly to run. You mostly fall pretty soon. That was the case with grandpa's motorcycle. And I couldn't start it up again. So grandpa called a friend of his, who though sick, brought his truck down to help grandpa. Using the truck, grandpa could get his motorcycle started but it died again soon after and to make matters worse, the truck too wouldn't start anymore. So this friend and grandpa pushed the truck to a place close to the friend's home and was planning to do the same with the motorcycle.

So, grandpa and his friend, went back to the motorcycle where the friend advised him to try starting it up again. So I gave it one more shot and Vroooom! it roared but with coughs in between. Then grandpa decided to make a run for it to home with the hope it wouldn't die in between. I was doing that, and because I was trying my best to keep it from dying again, I didn't notice I was going too fast. So the police caught grandpa. And fined him 740 dollars for speeding and having no insurance, and took his motorcycle away! Grandpa was devastated. 740 dollars was a big amount back then, especially being a grad student. Well grandpa got the bike back after running around and paying 110 dollars more! But the fine had still to be paid. To try to make it lesser, granpa went to court to plead his case of stupidity and poverty to a sympathetic judge. What grandpa did in court is another story.

So it was a very expensive day for grandpa and all because he was foolish to risk breaking the law. So children, when taking calculated risks, always remember that things could fcuk up big time.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fatherhood II

I just sold my old motherboard and processor. I had posted it on Craigslist and I get this call around 10PM. He says he is calling from Coquitlam and that he might take an hour to get to UBC but he has to do it tonight. I tell him I can wait and give him directions.

He calls around 11:15PM and I can see him in a white station wagon. I get down from my apartment to wave him in and I see a kid sitting right next to him in the passenger seat. I take him up to my place and on the way I ask him if its for his son. He says yes and that its the kid's 16th birthday. He had bought a graphics card for his son but the card unfortunately was a PCI-E card rather than an AGP card. His son's system had a motherboard that had an AGP slot and so he couldn't plug in his brand new 7600GT into his motherboard.

I give him the motherboard and all the stuff that came with it. Wondering if he knows how to put it together, I ask him whether his son's motherboard has a SATA or IDE cable and surprisingly he knows. I didn't know why it surprised me but maybe it was the rough looking station wagon or his appearance in general. He seemed an outdoorsy, non-geeky guy who would not know the difference between SATA and IDE. I mean SATA is relatively new. I ask him what he does and he tells me he is a bus driver. So I tell him he is pretty knowledgeable about computer hardware and he says he has 4 kids from 7 to 17 and they have 4 computers among them and that if whenever one of them failed, he called in a technician, it would have been expensive.

And the guy pays me and leaves. At the door I tell him that I have the same graphics card he bought for his son and it would work fine for most games. He says the kid was pretty disappointed when he found that the new card wouldn't work. So he drives late night, probably after his shift, from Coquitlam to UBC.

Some people spoil their kids :-)