Friday, September 29, 2006

Time

Exactly today last year I took upon this job I have currently. I can safely look back at an year to date and think it is the best year of my career so far. Six months of it, I spent 12 hours per day another 3 months working 10 hours average. I just wanted to see if I can give my best and see what its like. So far I am extremely contented with the results as it was a labor of love.

I belong to a pre-sales group with the charter to convert a prospect into a customer within 4 weeks or less by making sure everything they need from a technical standpoint is in place. Now, this required cross functional liasing skills to make sure I delivered what my sales folks needed. Before I knew I was on the rolls of engineering, operations and sales while I properly belonged to marketing. Looking back, I am fortunate to be placed in such a role as I never have been bored with my job (yeah! there are always occasional dips but thats normal in any job?). Other than high sea piracy and hedge fund management there are very few opportunities to my knowledge that offered this kind of variety. Every week had some share of talking to the customers and making them subscribe to my religion (which is my companie's service) , administer a bunch of systems, write scripts both to measure and validate stuff, write code to build tools that make it easier,recommend product changes by passing on what I see in the field and ultimately evangelize the good stuff with both customers and other partners. Yes! I liked every one of these functions thought my core function is to analyse and report on HTTP related stuff.

Not many firms I know would give such a free rein to people just because they like doing. Just because I was doing something right enough to inspire confidence so that I can be let loose on the rest of the roles isnt actually good enough reason that many folks would say okay. As organizations grow, they dont like these kind of cowboy actions of a different team in their turf as it gets kinda feudal. As we all know, good growth of feudalism ultimately leads to some despotism which isnt uncommon in today's business. I chose my current organization over a much bigger well known one for precisely avoiding that problem. I thank my employer for allowing me to do what I believed would help us in the long run.

And today is a piece of history for us and I am proud to be a part of this revolution. We have our best quarter yet where closed this quarter with our best ever numbers. The number of customers have tripled since I joined and churn rate was practically zero. Our P & L statement looks fabulous and we might be on our way to an initial public offering sometime next year.Yes, these kind of things happen in the valley a lot but I am excited about this just like Z in Antz

And, y'know, I finally feel like I've found my place. And you know what?
It's right back where I started. But the difference is, this time I chose it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Quote of the Day

If it is language that makes us human, one half of language is to listen.
Silence can exist without speech, but speech cannot exist without silence.
Listen to the speech of others, listen even more to their silence.
-Jacob Trapp


Monday, September 25, 2006

Closure

Closely look at all the various fields that have the concept of closure. You see there is a common thread uniting all of those definitions. Anyhow when I was first introduced to closure in an elementary math class it sounded very close and intuitively appealing to me.

It boiled down to something like this: lets say all we know about is integers and suddenly we are asked to express the diagonal of a square with side of 1 meter. You'll be at a loss to express it in terms of integers as it more than a certain integer(1) and less than another integer(2) but you can never measure it off precisely using your tools (because your tools can only measure integer lengths). Well, you can do it by subdividing the tools but its a process that will take you aeons and after a lengthy stint you'll need a insight to see that this process of subdivision can produce the same result as sqrt(2).Thats what evolution is about (lower primate in us loves to go through the process whereas some other higher form tells us there is another way). When we have this way, we say the issue is "closed" under some arbitrary property.

I tend to think certain emotions need to be closed in the sense you know of a category to put them in place. Just like in sorcery, if you name something you have power over them.(in the above case, simply call such numbers "irrational", define them rigorously and boom! you are a master).

I just "closed" such an issue for myself today. Its been more than 5 years since this bugged me in some corner of my mind like a crow.(actually they were much like a terminate and stay resident (TSR) programs that were written as viruses in C under early DOS versions..remember the "cookie monster" or "raindrop" virus? today, for me it is like cleaning the interrupt vector table(IVT) and restoring it to default). It feels really good to reach such a closure.

The only sad part is that with every closure the complexity/bloat increases slightly and sometimes you gotta give up something (for example, the closure of real numbers lead to complex numbers that costed us the relational operators like greater than,less than,equals to) . Life is complex: has both the real and imaginary parts :)

The Razor's Edge

I had my best weekend of this year to date. My friend M used to say I loved to live the characters of a book and this time it just coincidentally so happened that I was straight in a situation where life imitated art.

A nice co-worker of mine extended me an invitation to join him at his ranch for the weekend. We picked up charcoals,meat,sodas,ec (the usual stuff) and drove out in a monster 4x4 all the way to his ranch.

By the time we were off-road close to the ranch I knew I was in for something special .It had a beautiful road winding up to the mountain (almost picture perfect) and the only place where we could actually sit on the middle of the road and smoke.We also found a lovely bunch of Wild turkeys across the road.The way to the ranch also had to pass through other people's ranches and hence it involved opening something like 10 gates before we were in his ranch (reminded me of the movie "The Ninth Gate" which is a very cool one to watch). The funny part was each ranch owner had his lock on each of those gates and opening any one would leave the gate open.Very nice idea I must say.

And then we went up through a canyon to our desired destination which exactly looked like Walden. I mean to the letter perfect. The only sounds I could hear was the sounds of a distant woodpecker on a tree and the rattling of a housefly's wings. This particular house is nestled on a small hillock situated between 2 peaks. Whats more my co-worker made sure it had all modern amenities like DirecTV, A/C, etc in the middle of nowhere. Then we had a nice barbeque using the grill under a tree. After a sumptous dinner, we moved towards a place where we used a bunch of quarter-logs to create a campfire while sipping beer. Then I just glanced up to see the whole sky lit up with stars. Being in Urban locations deprives you of the complete view of the sky. We were following the milky way, ursa major and orion the hunter. We could hear the coyotes howl in the middle of the night and smiled to ourselves that we had fire (It was a moon less night and fire is guaranteed to scare away any such animal). It was just cool to end the day like that.

Woke up early morning,made coffee and then I saw a giant cargo container (like the ones used for shipping). While I was wondering what was housed inside it, I saw a buch of quails pass through our path. Then quietly sipping coffee I spotted a weaver bird (or something like it) right on top of my head around the tree. It was a beautiful structure. After drinking in the sunlight sitting around and watching all kinds of birds (I saw Magpies too) I went in the cargo container and saw a mini tool shop(had all kinds of axes, sawzalls,power tools) but what caught my eye was the 3 ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles much like Kinetic Honda but larger in size). Hopping up on one of those we decided to explore the terrain. My colleague offered to show me a nice spot and we went riding on it across the mountains. While negotiating the ridgeline between two peaks I beheld a magnificent sight of the valleys below me.

He took me to a plane crash site where an old Cessna seems to have crashlanded with its tires were in the bushes (yeah! Dunlop is Dunlop) some metal plates on the grass and some other debris. But then the beauty was not about the crash but about the site. Looked like a mustard plantation but it happened to be a dry grass of some sort. This is where I saw the most beautiful butterfly in my life. It was very small but had an exquisite fractal like shape etched on its wings with a symmetric precision. I followed it for a while only to see that there was also this huge dragonfly (just like those big aircraft carriers which carry planes inside their bellies). A few honeybees were hovering around a hive in a tree.I clearly see the bluejays open their wings and close immediately almost like that of a hop skip jump motion that leaves a flicker of blue in your eyes. The wind had an upwardly draft and for one moment when it hit my face I suddenly felt I became one with the universe :)

Shape I may take, converse I may, but neither god nor Buddha am I, rather an insensate being whose heart thus differs from that of man

On our way back, just like old times we chopped some firewood out of Oak. Then I had a surprise. My co-worker bought a set of handguns for target practicing.I Never held a gun in my life (apart from the winchester bolt-action rifle used in NCC) and I was given the lowest powered one in his repertoire. It happens to be a 9mm Ruger P89. It was very hard to land one shot on the target board leave alone bulls eye. The recoil, hand posture and stance completely make it hard for an inexperienced guy like me. All in all, I can see why these toys can be quite additcive. Gives you a sense of power and all those adrenalin rushing sensations. It was still fun to fire them just like I shoot golf balls at the driving range.

We had some nice hot dogs for lunch over the charcoal grill. Rested for a while watching "The Last of the Mohicans" on an old 1960 RCA telly. Finally as it was about to get dark we wrapped up, turned off solar panel/generator/water supply, etc locked up and started to return.

The way back was almost a zoological expedition. We first saw a coyote being chased out of a range by 2 horses. Then we saw a rattlesnake at a distance but the best sighting was that of a wild boar eating acorns.Actually found 3 of them with black bodies and white tusks. Cows and Horses are always expected in a ranch but not this much wild life. A few cottontail rabbits crossed our trail on the way back and at the gates.I cam back watching those mountains make way to the causeways and back to the city.

The whole point of this incident is that I managed to understand the "Kafka On the Shore"

You sit at the edge of the world,
I am in a crater that’s no more.
Words without letters
Standing in the shadow of the door


Now I know how riddles form a part of the solution. I need to go sleep now. Or if you prefer Dream..

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Manju

Whenever I listen to the first track of this movie, I always think of my sister and probably how happy were parents were(it is possible to vaguely correlate with a particular emotion in temporal dimensions:). I Cannot believe she is a mother herself now..

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Music Recommendation

I recently discovered this underground rap/hiphop group called "Gnarls Barkley" who have some fundoo lyrics in their now popular song called "Crazy". Here they are:


I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was
something so pleasant about that phase.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space
And when you're out there
Without care,
Yeah, I
was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew
too much
Does that make me crazy
Possibly

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice,
that's my only advice
Come on now, who do you, who do you, who
do you,
who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think
you're in control
Well, I think you're crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb and all I remember
is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I
was little it looked like fun
And it's no coincidence I've come
And I
can die when I'm done
Maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're
crazy
Probably

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Timing is Everything

I made the my best tea and coffee, to date, in a single day. I felt like not going to work when I woke up so worked from home taking my own sweet time for everything.

At 3:00 pm yesterday I yearned for a 'cup of tea'. The secret for a good tea is the time the brew very well. A second more on the heat can spoil it as well as a second late in adding the tea can make it bland. It made me realize that making proper tea is akin to playing the violin. You dont have any markers but rely on the fact that your finger is going to smoothly slide from note to another.

After a very good volleyball match, I returned with a couple of my acquaintances and made coffee for four. Making good coffee on the stove is akin to playing a guitar. You know you can get the same note provided your finger is right on the marker but beautiful nevertheless. The dependence on timing is a li'l less than that of tea but can enhance the quality.

Now I need to repeat this exerscise atleast 20 more times before I can get the same taste again.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Provincialism of America

I dont need to say more. Kipling took notes of america more than 100 years back in 1890 and I can say some things in his notes havent changed. The next time I visit the Golden Gate, I definitely shall remember the verse by Bret Harte

"Serene, indifferent to fate,
Thou sittest at the Western Gate;
Thou seest the white seas fold their tents,
Oh, warder of two continents;
Thou drawest all things, small and great,
To thee, beside the Western Gate."

And tommorow at Pier 39 our temple's ganesh would be immersed which would be quite a sight :)