Category: From Archives

Updates

Been a while since I last blogged. I am not being as regular with my posts as I would like. Lets see if we can rectify that in the near future. Anyways, here is a short synopsis of my life over the last few weeks:

  • A lot of my time was spent a friend of mine from school. She is from the same corner of the globe as me and hence we have a few things in common. She kinda dropped off the face of the planet a year ago and just as suddenly reappeared 2 weeks ago. Turns out she was going through a lot of personal problems and she and her husband are getting divorced now. Since her family isn’t here and most of her friends are friends with her husband too, I have been keeping her company and tagging along on visits to her lawyers and stuff. Kinda sad to see a family fall apart.
  • I finally broke it off with RBG. We both decided we are better off friends than romantic partners. Cliche, I know. She was just too immature and we got into arguments over absolutely nothing. Irrespective of what people might tell you, dating a 21 year old is NOT fun.
  • I am working on a personal research proposal. I got a lead and inside track on a RFP through my dad. It would be great if I actually end up getting funded. I will be a PI and practically my own adviser for the rest of my PhD :) A man can dream, can’t he ;)
  • QoH and I have been getting along spectacularly well. I am the lead on a new research center he opened at school and to his credit he has given me unbridled freedom with its operations. I got to conceive its operations, hire the right people, spend whatever I want on the right stuff, talk to people, and set up an infrastructure from scratch. It has been a great experience!

Is Your Boss an Asshole?

[Image from Amazon.com]

Here is an interesting list of questions from Guy Kawasaki based on a Bob Sutton’s book. Amazing how much similarity there is between management bosses and academic advisers.

  1. Thinks that the rules are different for him For example, a parking space for handicapped people is really for handicapped people plus him because his time is so valuable that he can’t walk fifty additional feet. Or, the carpool lane is for cars with multiple people, hybrids, and her because she’s late for a meeting.

  2. Doesn’t understand the difference between a position making a person and a person making a position. The vice-president of acquisitions for a big media company is a big deal, but all her power, and therefore the ability to act like an asshole, evaporates without this title. Assholes usually don’t understand that their current position affords them temporary privileges.

  3. Requires “handlers.” This means a personal assistant, appointments secretary/lover, public relations flunkie, and chauffeur. It’s funny but if an asshole didn’t have the position/money/status, he would probably be able to answer the phone, make appointments, talk to the press, and drive himself.

  4. Requires the fulfillment of special requests in order to be happy/productive/efficient. For example, she needs a special brand of spring water from the south of France bottled by chanting monks when she’s making a speech. This type of actions represent flexing for the sake of flexing—not because any of this crap is necessary.

  5. Relates to people primarily in terms of what they can do for him. In other words, “good” people can do a lot for him. “Lousy” people aren’t useful. The way a lousy person becomes a good person is by showing that he can help your boss in some way.

  6. Judges people by her personal values, not the employees’ or society’s values. Assholes judge people according to only what they think is important. For example, a boss may value only professional accomplishments, so someone who is “merely” a mom or dad with a focus on a family is therefore inferior.

  7. Judges employees’ results and his intentions. A boss never comes up short when he juxtaposes his intentions (“I intended to do your quarterly review”) versus an employee’s results (“You didn’t finish the software on time”). Instead, a boss should judge his results against his employees’ results and never mix results and intentions.

  8. Asks you to do something that he wouldn’t do. This is a good, all-purpose test. Does your boss ask you to fly coach while she flies first class? Does she ask you to work weekends while he’s off at a hockey tournament? I’m all for using boss time effectively (for example, not making her drop off a package at Federal Express), but were it not that your boss could be doing something more valuable for the company, would she do what she’s asking you to do?

  9. Calls employees at home or on the weekends. Rarely, as in once per year, this is okay, but any more often and your boss is certifiable. His happiness is not your problem 24 x 7. You are entitled to your personal time and space because slavery was abolished a long time ago in America.

  10. Believes that the world is out to get her when faced with criticism or even omission. For example, bloggers don’t write about her because they are all jealous of her. Frankly, it’s more likely that he’s not worth writing about than the blogosphere is colluding against him. This boss needs to learn that “it’s no always about her.”

  11. Slows down or halts your career progress. One can forgive or ignore the previous nine issues, but this one is by far the worst thing an asshole boss can do. Usually it’s a matter of convenience: “How can you leave me? I need you.” For doing this, a boss should go into the anals (sic) of asshole-dom. God didn’t put you on this earth to make your boss’s life better, so don’t hesitate to abandon a boss who holds you back.

Me, and my big mouth

[Image from The Blotter]

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I am dating someone for a while now and things are going ok so far. Well, that kinda changed today. Guess what? She is a virgin, and wants nothing to do with sex till she is married! I am guy, check that.. I am a human, and I have needs. If I break up with her now, it would be shallow, and if I dont, I am denying my urges. I blame religion for putting in these crazy ideas into women’s heads. Empowerment and personal choice is all great, but this just blows!!!

Money Worries

[Image from Wikipedia]

 

I was doing just fine till I got an IM from my father. I am not sure if I had mentioned this or not, but my father has been trying to start a business for about 6 years now, and lets just say it has not been much of a success. Till date it has not generated a single penny in positive cash flow let alone profit. Needless to say he has been running the family and business on borrowed money, both his and mine. A month or so ago, he wanted to borrow $7000 from me for some short term business expense. He promised to return it within 2-3 weeks. I borrowed on whatever was left of my credit cards, and gave it to him. Today he tells me that he has spent all of it, and cannot return it. Normally I would not worry, but this was the last of my credit line. I am close to $30,000 in debt with my credit cards, and have another $21,000 in other loans. All of this money has gone to my dad, not to mention another nearly $40,000 from my internship income.

I know he is trying his best to get out of the rut, but I am worried that his best might not be enough. How do I tell him to quit trying? Even if I do, what should I tell him to do instead? I am so afraid of the future now. I am not sure what we are going to do for the next month’s expenses.

Travel and Misc.

[Image from Wikipedia]

The past week has taken me to all corners of the country. I had to attend a training session in South East and it gave me a chance to get a taste of the “real america.” Having seen it, I dont get what is the big deal about it. It is just a collection of boring little towns where nothing happens. Anyways, the trip was pretty eventful. The taxi driver managed to lose my laptop case while I was sitting in the taxi, and I managed to miss a flight. So, ya, it was interesting to say the least.

I have been travelling with QoH on work related stuff for the last couple of days. It is interesting how our relationship is so dualistic. We seem to swing for ever between love and hate. The trip was pleasant and productive, so no complaints.

I have been dating someone, lets call her RBG (Recovering Big Girl) for the last month and half. Things have been going ok. Not great, not bad, but ok. Lets see how things go.

Leadership Workshop

The student body I am involved with organized a day long workshop on leadership on Saturday. It went really well and we had the largest turnout for it in our short history. :) Organizing it was pretty fun, but tiring as hell. The event had its ups and downs (including a fire scare) but was fun overall, and was well received.

After last evenings workshop I realized how attached I am to this organization and how strong my feelings are. One of the staff members had some petty issue was creating a bit of political discomfort. It was put out at the end of the day, but the few hours between was kind of disturbing for me. I guess I am happy that I am atleast invested and involved in something I believe in.

The workshop did bring up a dilemma, a personal one of sorts. I had been encouraging my friends to attend this workshop and one of my room mates signed up. I have been living with him for the last 4 years, so I know him a bit. Here is the problem. He lives by an entirely selfish philosophy that the world exists to serve him and for no other reason. These are his words, and not mine. The leadership organization’s philosophy is exactly the opposite, and we teach to be loving leaders. My roommate is attending these workshops to pick up the thought skill sets so that he can manipulate people better. I cannot stop him from attending the workshops, but at the same time I cannot let him exploit the wonderful resource. I am not sure how to handle it. Any ideas?

Impromptu Vacation

[image from Fonds d'écran]

I went out to lunch with a good friend on Saturday, and we had a sudden urge to head down to San Francisco. We figured that we had nothing better to do anyways, so we drove down to the airport to see if we can get some tickets. The sweet lady at the ticket counter was ready to give us one, but wanted a hand and leg for it. So we drove down to another city about 150 miles from here, and took a flight out of it to SFO. Since we had initially set out with the intention of just grabbing lunch, we had nothing more than the shirts on our back and a wallet to see us through the security in a jiffy.

We spent the next two days roaming the city streets and taking in the sights. We ohhed and aahhed at the view from the twin peaks. Yelled back at the seals on Pier 39. Ate cotton candies till we were sick. Watched street performers till late into the night. Got our portraits made. taken aback by the sheer number of locked lips at Castro. Ate authentic Mexican food.

Basically had fun like there was no tomorrow.

This has to be one of the most insane things I have done so far.

Goodbye old friend.. you will be missed


The President of Iraq, Mr. Saddam Hussein, was executed at 6.00 AM local time. While I do not approve of his actions even if they are not as horrendous as the media has portrayed, he is one of the rare breed of men who stand up to what they think is right.

I did not believe for a minute that he was a noble soul who did nothing wrong, but I do believe that the American Imperialism had no business invading his country. When will we ever learn that democracy has to be born from within, and cannot be enforced.

When your whole pretext of invading a sovereign nation is to spread democracy, what lesson are you teaching when you kill their president after holding a sham of a trial. Both the human rights organizations, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International have unequivocally announced the trials as unfair and biased. The chief judge of the trial resigned in protest of the political influences. What more do we need before we call it a sham? Aren’t due process and “innocent until proven guilty” the very foundations of democracy? How is it what we are doing any different from the lynching?

All media speaks of are the billions of dollars and 3000 men in uniform that were lost in the invasion. While the loss of life is tragic, we need to understand that these men signed up voluntarily for this, unlike the many hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, not to mention the millions more rendered homeless. I am yet to see a real account of what has this done to the lives of millions of Iraqis who did not sign up to wager their lives. There is not a square in the whole country where those who are left can grieve in peace. Why is it that we hold the 3000 lives at a higher pedestal than the millions on the other side?

I will leave you with a quote from Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Happy Hols!


For those of you who celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other religious thing during this season, my best wishes.

For those of you who suffer through this season of nauseating melodies and tasteless decorations, just take solace in the thought that this too shall pass in a week or so. For the pessimists in you, remember soon it will be valentine’s day, then your birthday, and before you know it they will be lighting up the damn tree again ;)

Nuggets of Wisdom from Undergrads

The quarter ended today, YAH!!! I was TA for QoH this quarter for a course on creativity and it was actually quite fun. I liked the students and their insane sense of humor. I think I gave them all pretty good grades, and I convinced QoH to mean the class at 3.6, which is pretty high for an undergrad course. Here are a couple of nuggets of wisdom that I had collected over the last 3 months:

Q: How do you use a barometer to measure height of the building without actually using it like it was intended to be.
A: Use the barometer to knock a few occupants of the building unconscious, and hold them hostage till the city planner hands over the building plans. Read the height of the building from the plan.

Q: Name a technique to increase creativity
A: Smoke pot, and start writing on a scroll. If you do not believe me, ask any poet from the the 19th century and they will attest my views.

Q: Suggest a method to improve social interaction among students
A: Hold a drunken orgy

Q: Suggest a method to improve social interaction among students
A: Sorry, I am an engineer and do not recognize the terms “social”, or “interaction”. Rephrase the question.