Atop Ballmer Peak

Going through some older issues of xkcd, I found this gem:

Ballmer Peak - The High of Excellence
Ballmer Peak - The High of Excellence

This reminded me of some binge-induced activities that I performed with astonishing clarity and devastating efficiency:

  1. The first time I drank was in 1999, during the first semester of my fourth year at IIT. Those days I was preparing for the GRE. The GRE, as you might know, has a vocabulary section that tends to get ludicrously tough. I had this book called Barron’s GRE, as did everyone else. This book had precisely 50 word lists, which most of us tried to cram. I normally had better luck than others and my typical tally was 3-4 lists a day at 80% accuracy at my first attempt.

    One evening someone had brought a bottle of vodka into our hostel wing. While other folks in my wing had already sampled spirits earlier, I was new to it. I went ahead and gave it a shot. What I drank was quite little and by no means got me on a high. For sure my BAC wasn’t in the Ballmer Peak range. However, a miracle occurred that evening.

    I went through 7 word lists that day and remembered more than 95% of the words accurately. I was never been able to repeat that feat.

  2. The second such instance was in 2000, at a WebTek party. This was the first time I had scotch and I really liked it. In fact I liked it enough to have 2 large on-the-rocks and a couple of Bloody Marys for good measure. After returning home I went about finishing some work. By around 3:00 am I had created a rather nice looking web-site for BTech96.
  3. The third instance was a few years later. This was an instance that would really qualify as a binge. On 1st March 2003 India faced Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup. This was a great match, made so by Tendulkar’s innings of 98, particularly hammering Shoaib Akhtar and Wasim Akram. This also happened to be a day when Deloitte had one of its All Hands Meets at the Kakatiya Sheraton in Hyderabad. Now I am extremely superstitious when it comes to India and cricket. So when Tendulkar was blasting away, I stayed put at home watching the match. Once Tendulkar got out, though with around 100 runs remaining to be made, I decided to go to the party.

    The excitement was too much. In a span of 55 minutes I gulped down five large Scotches on the rocks and 4 Bloody Marys. Not only did I continue standing upright, I also very convincingly debated why Hyderabad was culturally more advanced than Bangalore, but Bangalore was more socially advanced. I then returned home and stayed up until 4:00 AM, finishing a very complicated module of code (essentially a workflow tool), which I was having a lot of difficulty doing otherwise.

    The next morning I had a ghastly hangover, but given my stupendous coding feat from the night before, I didn’t particularly mind it.

I still haven’t figured out the exact BAC for Ballmer Peak, but I am sure several people have had inexplicable bursts of brilliance after finishing 63% of a bottle of scotch of 44.6% alcohol concentration, followed by 57% of a bottle of vodka of 40.1% alcohol concentration. Just that none of them was on the team of Windows ME.