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random thoughts, life events, stuff

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2012 August 3 [Friday]

Rest in peace Lawgon

Am breaking a long hiatus from blogging to report a really sad news :: Kenneth Gonsalves, (lawgon on IRC), a long time Free/Libre software (especially INPycon) contributor is no more. When I first saw this mail in my inbox, I could not believe it was true.

My first interaction with Lawgon was via the LinuxChix mailing lists. Back then, I was surprised to see posts from a "nilgiris" domain name and I assumed he was an USA-NRI actively posting on their lists. Later, the Mumbai-LUG list when I had tried to install his "avsap" accounting software ~ it would not work on my machine and I wrote him a mail with the gory error details. Finally, in 2007, I met "lawgon" on IRC, ##linux-india. I was never an IRC person but when he got banned from the channel, I had a long argument with Devdas (f3ew on IRC) about it - mostly because I felt that the rules were not clear, and even more importantly, felt that rules ought to be implemented uniformly, sans cronyism.

A few moons later, I met him IRL for the first time at the first formation meet for Fosscomm and sat next to him through the whole meeting. In my eyes, he was like a father-figure, a person you can talk to freely, someone who didnt see IT and FLOSS as the road to self-publicity, fame and riches. Rather, he saw Libre software as I did - of, for and by the people. It was nice talking to him and hear the stories via the work he had done at NRC-Foss/AU-KBC.

He was someone I respected because unlike some FOSS people, he actually wrote and released his code publicly: https://bitbucket.org/lawgon, and worked within the community, had no illusions or superiority complex about himself. Most of us in the FLOSS community were his kids age and in my interactions I didnt find him patronizing nor elitist in "demanding" we respect his age. Quite the opposite, he never hesitated to ask for technical help from people younger than him, quite ego less. His fiery rants on his blog (http://lawgon.livejournal.com/) always made me chuckle. There are very few blogs I follow and thusfar, I've read every post of his - strong opinions peppered with character. His own.

In his list communication, he could be quite blunt in his comments, and I've had my moments sparring with him on the lists, but if you take a moment to look behind the scenes, his honesty and sincerity towards Libre software showed. I remember his mail asking me not to leave the Mumbai LUG list and my response on the kind of Libre community (the lack thereof) we foster, which, to my surprise, found an echo with him. I remember his long email rant (about someone which I wont get into in public) where he mentioned "...and I'm scared of you" ~ yeah, I too scrubbed my eyes and smiled at his droll sense of humor, as I typed out an apology.

I remember his IRC comment that he wanted his daughter to meet me and my curiosity piqued ~ this was before I had met him in real life and going by the stereotypical Indian fathers attitude, I very much doubted if they would want their daughters to be like me. Or maybe it was his sense of humor - I'll never know!? Some moons later an email asking for some information on "legal rights of women in India" for her coursework, IRC discussions on virtualenvwrapper (he asked me why I wanted to use it and for a moment I thought he was testing me -- I could not imagine a longtime Python developer (atleast a lot longer than me) asking me that, unless he was pulling my leg or if it was an interview question), discussing a recent Python workshop he held at Kerala, and so many other interactions... {Edit1:: His recent mail on the open source business model has some excellent advice for wannabe entrepreneurs.}

I was hoping to meet him at InPycon this year but now the conference wont be the same without him. I hope and pray his family finds the strength to carry on without him and may his soul rest in peace! You will be missed Lawgon..and try not to kickstart a "GPL Vs. BSD" argument in heaven!

2009 December 27 [Sunday]

Red Wine and White Xmas

Rain kinda killed my hope for a white christmas but after catching up on 2012, good food and dancing with friends over this holiday season, I ain't complaining. The flurries flew in last night and today, so after the lake trip, which turned me into a five year old fishing for smooth pebbles in icy waters, our weekend turned red - literally, with merlot, cabernet, and dolcetto flowing around.

I found the dolcetto quite acidic [a detailed listing for acid/alkaline forming foods] as compared to the cabernet, although technically its the other way around. But am told that this also depends on many other factors like the soil, the fermentation process, region it was produced, etc. That I agree with, as it rewinds me to the experience of drinking wines produced within India, to put it politely - now imagine me scrunching my face in disgust at the horrid taste. Besides, the humid Mumbai weather makes it a pain to store wines properly and I only have so much space in my Fridge. Mom, in all probability, must've thrown the last bottle of red wine which I'd preserved for some years, as an experiment.

The whites (Chardonnay and its ilk) dont work their magic for me. I prefer the dry and semi-sweet (scale of 0 to 7 and mood permitting may even push a 10) and the most tempting surprise was Eiswein, but it tipping the scale at 24 was a definite no go.

Maybe I'll be more adventurous the next time! 2009 had forgettable recovering surgical moments and I so look forward to 2010.

Happy holidays / Merry X'mas (belated) / Happy 2010 !!

2009 October 18 [Sunday]

A silent Dipavali

High decibel levels have always resulted in a migrane and since childhood I've always cringed silently at noisy pubs/discos, honking while speeding, loud music and other public noise pollutants. So what is it about Indians being noisy in any celebration? --whether its a marriage or ganesh chaturthi or divali or holi or just about any event ; most Indians think its their public birthright to keep a loudspeaker facing your home because they are the truest custodians of your religion. Gee, isnt a festival supposed to spread cheer, kindness and generosity instead of noise ?!

The maximum pollution is reserved for dipavali -- the firecrackers noise and pollution from chemicals fumes that one is subjected to, whether its the horrid sutli-lakshmi bombs (that was what it was called when i was a kid and i detested the chemical fumes and noise) intended to awaken the neighborhood at 3:30 am or pre-pubescent boys thinking its oh-so-funny to burst fire crackers as women walk past or train a rocket at someone's home as a prank -- Ever heard of a fire hazard !?!

Its strange how people can become a public nuisance under the guise of celebration and indulge in public displays of wealth. In grade4 I had read a news report on small children in sivakasi being exploited to make crackers and seeing pictures of their hands with boils made me resolve that I'd never touch a phuljadi or buy firecrackers (I had also resolved to not wear silk or use leather objects but was forced to give these two up after I outgrew my teenage years) which didnt go down well with my family and especially with school friends who thought peer pressure and jeering would make me change my mind. Didnt happen, this one made it :)

Over the years I used to wonder if we will ever learn to celebrate in silence and despite not foisting my beliefs/thoughts about chemical pollution on others, when I read about school kids being more aware of their environment a few days ago, life came to a full circle -- Eight-year old Mitul Mehta is my favorite!

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