Sunday, June 17, 2018

The alternate universe

I always thought of an alternate universe as a science fictional concept. Stuff that futurists talk over beer and argue in the parallel dimension. But increasingly I have been experiencing it right here on earth.

I left Facebook temporarily 3 years ago. Temporarily because I just "deactivated" my account, I didn't permanently delete it. Yes there is a subtle nuance. I believe Facebook still has my data somewhere.

Anyway, long story short, I have been out of the Facebook world for more than 3 years now. What that means is, I am in touch with people that either physically meet me, contact me, call me, email me or somehow reach out to me or I reach out to them. I am no longer aware of what happens in the Facebook universe.

And in that alternate universe, my friends have married, gone on amazing vacations, had a happy fulfilling life, shared their toddlers taking first steps, speaking their first words and going to their first schools. They have shared their political opinion, their world view, sports interests and fiercely debated about everything under the sun and beyond. I have missed knowing and being a part of all of that. It's a bit embarrassing to catch-up with friends these days and discovering that I don't know anything about their existence in the parallel universe. They smirk at me, and sometimes look down upon me in utter disgust.

So what's the moral of this blog-post you ask? Well, if you happen to be my friend and expect me to be in that parallel universe, my existence there has been completely wiped out. So if you have some time, please let's be in touch in this realm as well!


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

God of Car

Growing up in (religious) India, I am very used to having a God staring down at the passengers from the dashboard of a car. It's an extremely common sight in India, and just by looking at the God, you can pretty much guess from which part of India the driver (or the owner of the car is).

For a while in USA, I didn't see many Gods staring down at the passengers other than when an Indian was driving a car. So I pretty much assumed that it was a totally Indian thing till I came to East Asia. Here I occasionally find Gods of different religions sitting above the Dash. But these Gods tend to focus on the road (look out) rather than look at passengers.

So I guess, Indian Gods need to keep an eye on the driver to make sure that he is driving safe. While the rest of the East Asian Gods need to keep an eye outside to make sure that everyone else is driving their cars properly.

I came across this video of a driver in UK (I am assuming he is of Indian origin) who put his Tesla in auto-pilot and moved to the passenger seat. Of course he was fined for reckless driving and his license has been revoked for a period of time. But what I found most interesting in the video is that there is an idol of a God looking at him while he is in the passenger seat and the car is driving itself! Now the reason I felt the driver was of Indian origin is because the God seems to be looking into the car than onto the road.

Now I think I have changed my theory about Gods in car. We (Indians) need the God to look at us so that we don't misbehave (put the car in auto-pilot and do something crazy like moving into the passenger seat!).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The N Slide Rule

In my job, I am expected to present at random conferences on random topics. Nowadays I am coming across this unique but useless rule of "N Slides only". I don't get it, why do they care about how many slides I use to convey my message as long as I do it in the time alloted?

I have always believed in using more pictorial and less wordy slides. This way I can focus on delivering my content without looking at a distracted audience which is trying to frantically read my slides before I jump onto the next one. if all you want your audience to do is just read your slides, then you can as well print them out and distribute them before or after, rather than standing on the podium and reading them out collectively.

Anyway, last few occasions I tried to be a maverick and didn't adhere to the conference organizer's N slide rule. One organizer actually took matters in their own hands and randomly cut off slides from my deck that they felt "were not relevant".

It's frustrating to see how wordy some presenter's slides are. Wordy slides are also known as Documents. Presentations are not Documents. Just because you make wordy boring slides to put people to sleep, don't make it into a rule!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Say no to straws and single use stirrers!

I am amazed that it is 2018, we all are so conscious about our use of plastics and the impact it has on the planet earth, and we still insist on having straws in our sugary drinks and single use stirrers!

Plastic straws are one of the major pollutants in our oceans. I believed everyone knew about it by now. If this is the first time you are reading this, my friend, please Google the impact of straws. If you are (un)lucky enough you might get to see a video of a turtle choking on a straw in the ocean!

Last week I was told off by a colleague for not taking a straw and directly drinking off the glass as "unhygienic". I was a bit saddened but then didn't say anything about it other than defend myself on why I avoid straws.

I am happy to say that, some governments are now actively planning to ban the use of straws altogether. While you wait for your own country to ban it, I highly recommend to stop using straws "as much as it is possible". Let's reduce our footprint on this planet for the generations to come!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lost in Distractions

More than a quarter of 2018 is now over. I almost gave up on my new year resolution, yet again. And mundane life has been taken over again by the 3 biggest enemies -
  • Busyness
  • Laziness and
  • Procrastination
I am convinced that if these three evils didn't exist, every human being is capable of greatness.
Anyway, I think the last of the new years have just gone by (Tamil new year/ Thai new year). Whatever is now left is all about getting things done!

Along with Reddit, YouTube and Feedly, now I have found a new distraction. It is called - Netflix. I stayed away from it far too long and now I have succumbed to its addiction. I warn you all from not subscribing to it. I have consumed more TV in the last 2 months than I had in the last 5 years.

Take that as a warning!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Read more

One more negative impact of too much access to the internet is that - I have almost completely stopped reading books. I have gotten used to consuming bite sized information off the internet, whether it is through my RSS Feed reader (Feedly) or through Reddit.

I hardly read 2 books in 2017. A very miserable number in my entire adult life. Looking at the way we are getting addicted to consuming news online, I felt it was important to force myself to read books and tune out. So one of the first purchases I have done this year is to buy an e-book reader (Kindle) and plan and book reads on the go.

While I have always been the traditional paper book variety reader, I realized that carrying big books around is a burden that I no longer enjoy. The result has been that I only ended up reading books when I was at home. I hope the Kindle with its light weight  helps me to read more books on the go.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year-end reflections

2017 will go down in my professional career (till now) as the year I worked the hardest. Personally it will be the year I traveled the craziest (mostly for work) and didn't really have much of a work-life balance.

The way things are getting extremely connected (always-on) we are increasingly immersing ourselves into a work-only culture. The constant checking of email on phone, the buzzing of instant messages from all over the world (office colleagues, customers, partners, vendors - the list goes on). I think it is now time for us to actively disconnect or at least have preset hours in a day where we intentionally switch-off our email and all kinds of messaging services even on our phones.

If you are like me, what can we strive to do differently next year? Well, I have been going through a mid-life crisis of sorts (for several years now) and I am beginning to question my definitions of both - happiness and success. These are highly subjective, overly marketed and poorly defined terms in everyone's life. Unless you really "identify" your definition of happiness and success - you will be endlessly and thanklessly stuck in the rat race called the "fast-paced life".

So, my plan for my resolutions for 2018:

  • Identify what is my definition of success and happiness
  • Ruthlessly cut down on peripheral activities that do not contribute to either
  • Subscribe to the JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) philosophy
  • Actively minimize and simplify my life
Wish you all an amazing 2018

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Binge Watching

Today will go down in my life history (in Google) as the day I binge watched Conan videos all day! I have binge watched only once before. That one time when we discovered House of Cards and completed Season 1 in one day. But today was different. I was not watching episodes (they have continuity, and that's a reason why we can't stop at the end of an episode cause you are curious to know what happens next!). Today I was just randomly watching Conan videos all day, with my YouTube on auto-play.

Now, I am a big fan of a lot of talk shows. My daily dose of YouTube videos (in no particular order) consists of:
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
While all of the talk show hosts are funny and interesting, I guess most of them are very driven by political opinions and current affairs. Conan on the other hand is pretty random, and I love his sense of humor. He has all these random videos of him traveling, learning self-defense, being mean to his staff and generally being silly. I would highly recommend you binge watching him.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Wise Men Dancing

In my quest to stay abreast with the latest music that the current generation is listening to, I still try to listen to the top tracks every week from YouTube. Most of the music is hit and miss for me now. Reflects my age.

I realize that you somehow can only associate with the songs that you heard as a teenager. Songs before that are too old for your taste and the songs after that are just not cool enough. I think every generation thus has a decade of music and musicians that they really like and then everyone else is just okay.

Anyway, while listening to the latest generation, I chanced across this video by Carly Rae Jepsen featuring Tom Hanks (my generation). It is tastefully done, and for some reason I think I really love videos which get popular old male actors to dance in them.

So without further adieu I need to link you guys to the other cool song that I know of an old male actor featuring - Christopher Walken (again) and his amazing dance in the Weapon of Choice by Fatboy Slim.

So I guess, I can safely conclude that - to get a lot of views for your video, you don't necessarily need a lot of cute girls (read K-pop) but you can do it by getting a wise old actor dance for you!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Beat Yesterday

By some pleasant random act of fate, I ended up switching my fitness trackers from my beloved Fitbit to a Garmin. While the Garmin by all means is awesome, I have a feeling it is meant for serious athletes among us. Most of the times I feel like my Garmin fitness tracker looks down upon me. It's like - "You are too unfit for me! Getup you lazy human, I am designed to be worn by active ones!" Doesn't help me with my inferiority complex.

Anyway, the one thing I like about it is the concept of beat yesterday! It doesn't set me ambitious impossible goals. The goals for the next day are based on what I did the previous day (or rather they use a smoothing factor of last several days!) This means that if I have had a particularly active week, then my challenge for next week is to live up to my previous week. In the same context, if I have been lazy for a while, Garmin steps down my challenges and just expects me to do marginally better.

This I feel is a very important life lesson. You have to work hard for everything in life. And consistency is rewarded more than random acts of hard-work followed by bouts of lazy days. Your goals, hobbies and ambitions can only be achieved if you consistently work towards them and just continuously aspire to beat yesterday!