Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesdays With Morrie Book Review

I read a book called 'Tuesday's with Morrie' a non-fiction book written by Mitch Albom. The book chronicles his meetings with Morrie Schwartz, his favorite professor in Brandeis University, who is battling ALS(amyotrophic lateral scelerosis) and has his days numbered. But rather than wobbling in self-pity and die decides to live each of his day fully.

Morrie is Mitch's favorite prof when in college, and promises to keep in touch with him after leaving college. But he gets caught up in the rat race becoming a sports writer and publisher and never gets a chance to meet Morrie again. He accidentally meets him on a wheelchair while going somewhere and has to visit him but not before completing his work. And he is hooked after the first meeting. He is reminded of the days when he used to study under him, discuss things about life with him. Due to the union strike in his company, Mitch gets a chance to visit his professor every tuesday which is the name of the book.

Mitch who considers Morrie as a coach decides to ask Morrie about the questions vexing him. I felt these questions universal and surely every reader would identify with it. To quote Mitch

On the plane ride home that day, I made a small list on a yellow legal pad, issues and questions that we all grapple with, from happiness to aging to having children to death. Of course, there are a million self-help books.
But there seemed to be no clear answers. Do you take care of others or take care of your "inner child"? Return to the traditional values or reject tradition as useless? Seek succees or seek simplicity? Just say no or Just Do It?

This forms the core of the book as Mitch discusses these things with Morrie every tuesday that he visits him as Morrie tells his thoughts about the world, culture, love, money, marriage and death too. In the context of dealing with emotions, he says that we should let the emotion take over us, experience it completely and after having the knowledge of the emotion, to detach from it. And he makes a profound statement with regard to the impact that culture should have on us.

He says

" I don’t mean you disregard every little rule of your community. I don’t go around naked, for example. I don’t run red lights. The little things, I can obey. But the big things - How we think, what we value - These you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone- or any society - determine those for you"

The book is very touching and just put the fact that the things which make us happy are the simple joys of sharing and caring.

A must read to see life from the perspective of a dying Morrie who considers himself lucky to have the time to say good bye to his loved ones. And he says 'Everyone is not so lucky'.

Wish we make the best of the short time we have.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Civilization - State of Affairs

The Pulitzer prize winner Arundhati Roy rants eloquently about the neo-imperialism and India's policies and asks What can we do now that democracy and free market are one?. To summarize it she argues that democracy does not encourage equitable development of all as it is pandering to corporate who look at india as consumers ignoring all the other people who are poor and destitute. She asks if there is another form of government which can do better and she prods us all to fight against the government.

There is a comment in the post which struck a chord with me.. It is below the fold

For better or worse, what we're all experiencing today, world-wide, is simply the consequences of being civilized. And, civilization itself is a consequence of the Neolithic Revolution that emerged as the Earth started to warm and the glaciers began to recede some 12,000 years ago.

Becoming civilized is a long, complicated story, but the most important factor is that humans did not "progress" to a sedentary subsistence and life way, no, the first herders and farmers were forced to it in order to survive. The practices of agriculture nearly always borrow too much from the future to maximally enrich the present. Always. The reason this survival strategy has lasted so long is because the Earth is huge. In time, agricultural / industrial civilization will collapse. Survival strategies are never sustainable.

In every case, where agriculture emerged, civilization soon followed with it's social hierarchy, organized warfare, the pyramid of power and wealth, an ever-expanding human population, simplifying the local biota, the selection of plants and animals by size, the need to store and defend surplus food, a coin economy, writing, music, organized religion, monumental architecture, etc.

Democracy, in all it's forms, is simply the rule of the majority, and sometimes, the tyranny of the mob. Yet, small-scale, regional, direct democracy is probably the most accountable, and thus the best form of government possible (most likely, because it mimics the egalitarian ways of our paleo-lithic evolution) to civilized people.

Concerning capitalism and socialism and feudalism and fascism, all these economic systems work basically the same way with the same outcome. As each system matures, it creates a pyramid of wealth and influence for a small elite while simultaneously stripping the natural resources of it's region. Naturally, this creates the need for ever more resources to provide for an ever expanding population. It has always been so.

I suggest, the greatest illusion of being civilized is the illusion of "human progress" by means of technological, political or social schemes. Human beings, like all species, do not progress. Humans evolve, meaning, our populations change over time. Which human populations evolve - not progress - is based on our abaptation (our genetic ability to survive and thrive as conditions change) and adaptation (our good choices and good luck).

I think that is the root cause of everything, we have come till here all along solving problems and we will live to see another day solving the problems. As darwin said, it will only be the survival of the fittest. Evolution favors only those who are able to adapt to these problems and come out.

I have a question for Arundhati Roy. What is the other way in which India can develop if it will not embrace free markets? She writes

Today, words like “progress” and “development” have become interchangeable with economic “reforms”, deregulation and privatisation. “Freedom” has come to mean “choice”. It has less to do with the human spirit than it does with different brands of deodorant.

Yes I too agree that that freedom has come to mean choice.

Is she suggesting that we go to stone ages and live like that? If she is so keen to show the world how to develop sustainably, let her take a village which is not doing well and somehow make people happy there, then the whole world will be ready to listen to her words. Otherwise it will just be a rant and sustainable living just a wish.

I am not saying that sustainable living is not possible, but that doesnt mean that building infrastructure or more electricity is wrong. I think the government should find ways of doing in a sustainable and in a way that is least disruptive to ecology there but building them cant stop till an ecologically sustainable way can be found.

Neetho Unte Inka konnallu Lyrics - Josh Movie

Was listening to songs of movie Josh, starring Nagarjuna's son Naga Chaitanya and Radha's daughter Karthika produced by Dil Raju. The music is by Sandeep Chowta one of my favorite music directors. The film is building a lot of hype. I loved a song from this movie called Neetho unte inka konnallu, emavutayo edigina innellu.. lovely song sung by karthik.. So sad that I couldnt share it with you. The audio will be out on 20th July. Listen to that.. for now these are the lyrics

neetho untee inka konnallu, emavutayoo edigina innellu,
neetho unte inka konnallu, emavutayo edigina innellu,

ninnippudu chuste chaalu,chinnappati chilipi kshanalu, gundello guvvala gumpai vaalu
neetho adugeste chaalu, munumunduku saagavu kaallu, untunda venukaku velle veeluu
kalanne tippesindee eelaaa, balyanne rappinchindeevelaaa,
peddarikalanni chinaboyelaaa, podderagani nalupedo tarigelaaa.. voo voooo. o..voo voooo

neetho unte..

nilabadi chustaye aagi lellu selayellu chitranga.. nee vaiipalaa,
parugulu teestaye lechi rallu raagalu neelaaga, nalu vaipulaa,
bhumi anta nee perantaniki bommarillu kaaga, samayamanta nee taaranganiki sommasilli podaa

chedayina teepavutunde nee santhosham chusi, chedukuda chedutunde nee saaavasanni chesi
chedayina teepavutunde nee santhosham chusi, chedukuda chedutunde nee saaavasanni chesi

neetho unte..

eyo eyo eyooo oaaaa haeyo eyo eyo oo aaaaa

nuvvem choostunna ento vintalle annni gamaniche ascharyama
ye pani chestunna edo ghanakaryam lage garvinche pasi prayamaa
chukkalanni digi nee chupullo koluvuvundi poga chikatinnadika ralede nee kanti paapa daaka
prathiputa panduga la vuntundanipinchela telisela nerpetanduku nuvve paatashala
prathiputa panduga la vuntundanipinchela telisela nerpetanduku nuvve paatashala
voo voooo. o..voo voooo

neetho unte..
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Mobiles - Nokia Vs Sony Ericsson

My first highly used mobile phone was a silver colored Nokia 6030 which I bought in October 2006. This phone was good basic model. It was a color phone and it had FM. I have talked for a long time on this phone approximately 1000 hrs. After these many hours, I could see that the battery was discharging fast and I decided to change the battery. As the silver color of the mobile looked worn out, I decided to replace it with a new case. So I scouted for original Nokia batteries in Koti and it costed about 550 rs for a new one. But I thought it was a little too much for a phone I bought for 2600 two years back. So I went to another authorized Nokia dealer and asked him to get me an original Nokia charger. He said it costed about 400 and that he would remove an original from a brand new phone and give it to me. I was stunned, because if they are removing an original from a new piece, that means they will put a duplicate one in that and sell to unsuspecting customers. Hmm, anyhow I bought it and also a new black case for my mobile. It stayed with me till the middle of May 2009 till it was stolen. I wrote about the ensuing drama after that here. But speaking of the phone, it was a very very good phone. I never had any problems with its software or battery. It worked very well. And I dropped it many many times.

I am reminded of two particular incidents which show the durability of Nokia mobile.
Once, when I was running behind an RTC bus to catch it, my mobile literally jumped from my shirt pocket and fell on the ground from a running bus. I got down, collected the pieces fallen on the ground, the battery came off, the case came out. I just assembled it again and switched the mobile on and nothing happened. It was working as before.

I put my clothes in the bucket for washing without removing the mobile in it. I realized it just a minute after I put in the water. I removed it but by that time, some water might have crept in. The center button was not working. I switched it off as presence of water will short circuit the internal circuits, and I put it under (not above ;)) a burning gas stove for few mins, again switched it on and after half an hour everything started working fine again. Except for that half an hour, my experience with Nokia phone was very very positive.

After I lost that mobile, I bought a Sony Ericsson C510 phone. It had all the wanted features like mp3 player, a 3.2 MP camera and bluetooth with 1 GB free memory card. It costed about 11,800 with insurance. I wanted to buy a Nokia mobile only but I saw the photo quality of Nokia mobile and didnt quite match the Sony experience. So for only that I bought a Sony ericsson.

Used to a Nokia, the battery was a let down. I had to charge it daily but I will accept it because of high usage. The photos are very good.

When i was getting used, I observed that the phone would hang sometimes and i have to restart it (In my two months of usage i did it only twice, so we could consider it an exception). But I was disappointed very much when the phone did not start when I tried restarting after changing the sim card.

And dont ask me about the customer service experience. It was very bad. There is no reception. When I went to the person taking the complaints, he asked me to wait and after that he didnt call me. After some time, when he didnt call, I went and asked then he noted it down. He told it was a software problem and it will take one hour to reload it. After one hour, he told it is not working and asked me to come and take on Monday. I had to beg him to repair it that day only. After lot of prodding, he agreed to do it that day only. On the whole, the sony ericsson customer service centre was run very unprofessionally, though it was not unbearable. A lot can be improved in the customer handling and experience. Already in two months, it gave me a scare. Im just hoping I never need to visit the customer service again.

One thing is clear, I can never take the sony phone for granted no where near how I would treat my Nokia phone.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How to be an Innovator for life - Ideas from Tom Kelly

As I said in a previous post, I was listening to the podcasts there.

I have read a book called Ten faces of innovation written by Tom Kelly, CEO of IDEO a firm which does design. They designed many products and services, like the improving the in-patient experiences at a hospital etc. They have got more than 1000 patents from 1987. In that book he discusses the methods they use in IDEO for innovation. They are something like six thinking hats and make an interesting read as well as can be applied in our life.

He gave a talk in Stanford. In that, Tom Kelly proposes five ways to be an innovator for life..

1. Think like a traveller
2. Treat life as an experiment
3. Cultivate an attitude of wisdom
4. Use your whole brain
5. Do what you love..

Listen to the complete podcast at stanford ecorner

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thanks to the NET

This is a post where I want to thank the creators of the internet for it has changed my life in ways i cannot imagine.

How could I hang out with the likes of Seth Godin, Fred Vilson or Steve Pavlina if not for the internet?

How much would I have missed the experienced words of Joel or the head first way of Kathy Sierra?

How much the hacker and painter in me would have lost if not for the essays of Paul Graham?

How would I have missed the satirical takes of Atanu Dey on India or the touching posts of Rajesh for his kid, or the passionate posts of Rashmi and the well researched posts on Sastwingees ?

I am not even touching the increase in my productivity due to the various web applications which we use day in and day out.

Internet like never before makes it easy to hang out(blogs, twitter) with any person of our choice so easy and I am so happy for that.

Apart from being grateful for allowing us to learn from the experiences of the very best in their fields, I want you to point you to two great resources on the net which I am currently using.

I know youtube has lot of videos and channels for various things, but videos in these two places have inspired me very much.

1. TED talks: Ideas worth spreading.

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.

Some of the interesting talks there are why are or aren't we happy? or why we do what we do?
Head over to Ted.com and browse the various videos out there, you will not be disappointed.

The Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) Entrepreneurship Corner is a free online archive of entrepreneurship resources for teaching and learning. The mission of the project is to support and encourage faculty around the world who teach entrepreneurship to future scientists and engineers, as well as those in management and other disciplines. The site has been developed by a dynamic team of educators, entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers at the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP)
Some of the popular videos here are The black swans of Energy Innovation by Vinod Khosla, Dont Kill projects morph them by Merissa Mayer

The whole lists of talks is here.

Dont you think internet deserves kudos for this. How on earth it could have been possible for you to attend those conferences in Stanford University if not for the net.

Thanks to the creators of the internet, you have changed the world definitely for the better.

What do you think the best thing about the internet for you?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Poems to Ponder

Diana looks for leadership at the U.S. CapitalImage by kevindooley via Flickr

I would like to share with you two poems which I encountered during this week which impacted me...

One is about giving rather than taking.. About not being moochers of the world but being the value adders and value creators...

There are two kinds of people on earth today

Just two kinds of people, no more I say,

Not the good and the bad, for 'tis is well understood

that the good are half-bad and the bad are half-good.

No! the two kinds of people on earth I mean

Are the people who lift and the people who lean.

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

I found the above poem in '21 Irrefutable laws of leadership' which I was reading.
Another poem is about how a good leader is like... I found that here

‘A good soldier does not inspire fear;
A good fighter does not display aggression;
A good conqueror does not engage in battle;
A good leader does not exercise authority.

This is the value of unimportance;
This is how to win the cooperation of others;
This to how to build the same harmony that is in nature.’

Don't know who wrote that but it is how a leader should be.
One interesting point which John Maxwell, author of 21 irrefutable laws of leadership makes about leadership is about the real test of leaders... It is 'influence'. How many can you influence for the better?

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