20 August 2016

Nikispeak: Procrastination, by any other name!!!

Niki – that queen of “I put the pro in procrastination” and I were at home Wednesday evening and she needed to get one small homework done and she would be free for the rest of the evening. It was a simple writeup she had to do that would take her, at best, ten minutes to get over with. But she kept on coming up with more and more excuses why not to do it. Finally, I had to tell her – “You do realize that all you are doing is procrastinating, right?”.

She thought for a second and said – “No. I just have a writer’s block” and walked away.

Even for a guy like me, I did not have a good comeback.

18 August 2016

Puzzles!!! After a long time!! 2 for 1!!!

Headed to DC on a Thursday. Which always reminds me of those puzzles I used to post every Thursday on my way out of DC. Posting puzzles after a long time. And since one good turn deserves another, I will post two…

First a warmup one…

1. Assuming you are as old as me (which is about 50), what is the probability that you have seen in your life somebody (human being) with more than average number of legs?

a) Certainly
b) Very likely
c) As likely as not (50-50)
d) Unlikely
e) Impossible

Now for an interesting one…

2. In my running trail, there is a spot where I have to climb up ten stairs. At any step, I can jump up one stair or two stairs. How many different ways can I climb up those ten stairs?

If you are reading this on Facebook, just send me personal message with your answer – I will let you know if you got it and post your name as somebody who got it right. There might be some time gap – I have a long night in front of me today.

17 August 2016

“This is your life in Silicon Valley”

An amazingly well written and funny article. And it is that much funny because it is so uncomfortably close to the truth. Written by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur himself – Sunil Rajaraman. Thanks to Amit Paranjape for pointing me to the article.

Here is the link: https://medium.com/@subes01/this-is-your-life-in-silicon-valley-933091235095#.nya91mz6o

and here is the text:

You wake up at 6:30am after an Ambien-induced sleep. It’s Friday. Last night at The Rosewood was pretty intense — you had to check out Madera and see if there is any truth to the long running Silicon Valley rumors. You were disappointed, but at least you did get to see a few GPs from prominent VC firms at the bar. Did they notice you? Did you make eye contact? You remind yourself they are not real celebrities — only well known in a 15-mile radius to the Techcrunch-reading crowd.

Your non-English-speaking nanny shows up at 7:30am on the nose. You are paying her $24/hour and entrusting her (and Daniel the Tiger) with raising your child. You tell yourself that it’s ok for now — when he’s old enough he’ll (someday) be in public school in the Palo Alto school district.

You commit to being a better parent this weekend and spending more quality time with him as you browse through the latest headlines on Flipboard. You recently realized he may not be the next Mark Zuckerberg after all — still you send him to a music school even though he’s only 3. You swear he’s a genius because he can say a few 4-syllable words and can clap perfectly to the beat of “Call me Maybe”. He’s special. He is destined for greatness and you’ll make sure he achieves every ounce of it. After all, both of you are so smart and accomplished.

You ask your nanny if she has any availability to watch your son this weekend. Bummer — you wish Cal Academy of Sciences hadn’t sold you on the annual pass 11 months ago. You figured you’d be going there every weekend, but only ended up going the one time. Not a break even proposition for you.

Your wifi enabled coffee maker downloads the perfect instructions to brew a cup of Blue Bottle — and you don’t have to do anything. The Roomba purrs in the background while you continue to read from your smartphone. You see a few articles about Trump and how crazy he is — somehow this comforts you.

You decide to share an article about Brexit from “The Atlantic”, which will somehow shed light to all your friends as to why it happened. The article is 1,000 words long — you only read half of it, but that’s good enough. It captures all the arguments you’ve been wanting to make for the past two months to your friends. Will this be the Facebook post that finally spurns your friends into action? You realize your Facebook friends all agree with your political views and social views already.

Fifteen minutes — only 3 likes — better luck next time. The FacebookNewsfeed algorithm totally fucked you — you should have shared from your browser, not your phone, and perhaps at a more optimal time.

But then you realize another friend already shared the article. You feel stupid.

Your spouse hurriedly gets ready for work — you are a two income family and you have to be one for now. The spreadsheet shows that with only three more years’ savings, you can finally afford that 2 bedroom condo in San Bruno. So what if the weather is shitty 340 days out of the year? At least you’ll be homeowner in the Bay Area — and nothing says you’ve “made it” like being able to afford a down payment. Besides, San Bruno is “up and coming” — and Youtube has an office there.

Your commute to work sucks, but at least its an opportunity to catch up on Podcasts so you can have great conversations over cocktails with your friends. Should you listen to “Serial Season 2” today? Or should you listen to that amazing “Startup” podcast? So many choices, so little time. You instead decide to expand your horizons by trying a new playlist on Spotify — something about Indian-infused-jazz music. It sounds great. It makes you feel cultured.

You decide to park your car using “Luxe” today. You justify it to yourself by saying that parking garages are only $10 less expensive. And you have to spend all of that time walking back and forth. And besides — today you are meeting some friends after work for dinner and you’ll be on the other end of town. You can’t decide whether you’ll take Uber or Lyft to the dinner from your office — decisions, decisions.

You are the Director of Business Development at your startup. You aren’t even sure what that means, but the startup seems to be doing well. Your company recently raised a round and was featured in Techcrunch. You have 5,000 stock options. You aren’t exactly sure what that means, but that must be good. If you exit, maybe that will mean money toward a down payment.

Your day starts in Salesforce. You have to email a bunch of people. You briefly contemplate a business idea you have that will totally kill Salesforce and Facebook at the same time. But you need a technical co-founder. Eventually you’ll get to it — after all, you’re smart and destined for greatness yourself. And your friends all tell you how you should start something someday.

Your 27-year-old CEO calls an ad-hoc all-hands meeting and regales about company culture and how your mission is to “kill email because it’s broken”. He wants to make every enterprise company in the world switch to your product. He’s never worked for an enterprise company, or any other company at all.

The sales team got rowdy the night before. They missed their quota, but it was not their fault — it was implementation’s fault for fucking up a major deal. Also — marketing didn’t send them enough inbound leads for them to hit quota. Maybe next quarter. You trade emails with your college buddies on Gmail about how ridiculous Kevin Durant is for joining the Warriors. You come to realize email is working just fine for you. You feel depressed for a moment. Your summer intern is trying to figure out a Snapchat strategy.

It’s time for that afternoon coffee to keep you going through the day. You head over to Philz with some co-workers. You order a vegan donut and very clearly ask the barista for 3 Splendas. He was clearly a Splenda short, but the line is long and you want to be civil. You are above mentioning something like this to the barista — you let it pass and feel a “micro aggression” bubbling inside.

You have to decide where to go for dinner tonight. You look at Yelp for a place that’s within 1 mile and is rated at least 3.5 stars. But really you’re looking for something 4 stars plus and at least $$$. What will your friends think of you if you pick a place that’s too cheap? But you also don’t want to go $$$$ because that’s too expensive. You have good taste. This comforts you.

You realize your reservation with your spouse at the French Laundry is coming up this weekend. Your calendar app reminds you of this. You’ve been looking forward to it for months. You can’t wait to take perfectly Instagrammed photos of the meal to go along with your perfectly Instagrammed life.

#San Francisco is trending on Twitter. You realize the San Francisco journalism community is angry about something — they are full of rage at the way a homeless person is being treated. The reporters all share photos and videos of the homeless person, but no one talks to him.

It’s time for some afternoon Facebook browsing. Your friends are all doing SO well. You are secretly jealous of your friend who just bought a house in the Noe. You speculate as to how rich they must be after their exit from LinkedIn. Even though they were only employee #500 they must have done well. You briefly try to do the math in your head. Maybe that can be you at your current startup. It’s only a matter of time.

More browsing. One friend was employee #5 at a company that just sold to Twitter. They must have made so much money, you think. You like the status, but you are jealous. Another friend’s kid seems to be more advanced than your kid based on the Vine they just shared of them playing the piano. Damnit, need to be a better parent.

You go to Redfin to see how much they paid for their house.

You briefly daydream about how you once had an opportunity to work at Google pre-IPO. And that you could have joined Facebook right after IPO — and imagine that — the stock price has tripled in a short amount of time. Would that have been the big break you needed?

Your CEO grabs you in a panic and asks you to do a quick analysis for a board member. The board member was base jumping in Mexico and panicked about something related to burn rate and strategy. The CEO’s job is at risk.

You do the grunt work and analysis, and finish it just in time for him to breathe a sigh of relief and tell you what an “Excel Ninja” you are. Your analysis makes you realize the company maybe should have saved money on office space, and perhaps the rock climbing wall and Segways. You realize your CEO knows nothing about your business.

Your mind briefly drifts off and you think — “is this all really worth it? should I move to Seattle, Austin, or maybe even Florida?” After all there is no state tax and you could live a great quality of life there with an actual house with your beautiful family.
You browse Redfin again. Hmmm. Maybe not Austin — what about something less ambitious like Fremont, Morgan Hill or Milpitas? That wouldn’t solve your commute problems, you think. It would be more affordable though.

You know what? If you move to Austin you could somehow get by. After all your spouse is so amazing at baking. She could easily make a living selling her cupcakes — she has so much talent as a cook and you could afford culinary school. Worst case, she also has an amazing knack for craft jewelry. The three pieces she sold on Etsy last month are evidence of that. How talented both of you are.

And hey — if you move to Austin, you can finally build that home with a “Zen minimalist” theme you’ve been dreaming of. You go to Bluhome’s website — their design aesthetic perfectly matches yours. You just need to save the money to make it happen. You browse Pinterest and Houzz for ideas on how to decorate the interior. Is Red or Navy Blue TOO bold of a color? You don’t know. Maybe you should use an on-demand service for that.

You forgot to order groceries and the nanny needs milk for your kid ASAP. She texts you frantically in broken English. Thank goodness for Instacart — you spend $10 in delivery costs, but you need to add a bunch of items to your cart to hit the minimum threshold. You add a few squeezies, some bananas and a few artisan cheeses to hit the mark. You realize you haven’t stepped into a grocery store for months — but don’t worry — your opportunity cost of time is way too high at the moment. Especially if you factor in those stock options.

Almost time for dinner. You are having dinner tonight with the “Chief Hacking Officer” at the company and the “VP of Awesomeness”. You arrive at the restaurant, and they marvel at your taste — nice job surfing Yelp.

Your dinner conversation centers around how autonomous vehicles are going to be better in the long run than ordinary cars for a variety of reasons. And something about how Elon Musk handles meetings. You are all too busy making your own points and citing articles to really listen to each other. You order the $17 dollar Risotto and the $9 glass of Pleasanton-brewed IPA.
On your ride home you find the time to catch up on the Malcolm Gladwell podcast. What an interesting guy he is — he’s so smart and he makes youthink about things.

After coming home you briefly use that “7 minute workout” app, which scientists have proven is way more effective than a one-hour cardio workout. You got your exercise in for the day — nice work.

You and your spouse get ready for bed. What’s in your Netflix queue? Well, you have to catch up on “Making a Murderer” since it’s been all over the news lately. And let’s not get too far behind on “Mr. Robot” since it’s so critically acclaimed. For lighter fare, and if you have time, you can always try “Last Week Tonight” — John Oliver always says exactly what you’re thinking in your head — just funnier than you would have said it.

You quietly shuffle to bed, tired from the long, hard day. You check your email, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat one last time before bedtime. You don’t think you’ll have enough energy to check LinkedIn today — and besides — their mobile UI is not very good. Maybe you can start a company that will disrupt LinkedIn? They did just sell for a bunch of money after all.

Your last thought before bed — should you switch to the Android ecosystem? You are on the “S” iPhone replacement cycle and you are getting impatient. But then you realize you are so heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem that it may not make sense.

You briefly use mobile Safari to browse for Vipassana retreats — you hear a 10 day retreat in Soquel may be the ticket to shake things up. You realize it’s not going to be possible. You download a meditation app. You turn it off. You don’t have time.

You briefly recall your ride home on the 280 tonight. The sun was setting. It was beautiful. You realize you live in paradise.

17 August 2016

Oh boy! How am I going to tell her this?

You probably read the whole story yesterday about me forgetting to get food for the speed runs and the ensuing confusion about oranges thereafter. Well, guess what? Certain somebody read it too. When I came downstairs this morning, this was sitting right on the kitchen counter so that I will not forget today.

An apple, two oranges, a bar and dates! Curiously two bags of dates – not one!

You think I should tell her that the day after speed runs is a rest day for me to give the muscles a chance to build back? 🙂 🙂


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17 August 2016

From the bartender’s corner – Pontarlier Julep

This drink was created by William Elliott in the bar of Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, NY back in 2012. It used to sell for $13 then and I believe it sets you back by $17 now.

It is a very interesting but refreshing drink. It has gin, absinthe, aperol, sweet vermouth, orange bitters and crushed ice.. Technically, you should put in a couple of drops of orange flower water too. Unless you are a connoisseur, you won’t notice it if that is skipped.

It is pretty interesting for a Julep. For one, there is no muddled mint. Instead you put in absinthe. You mix the ingredients first and then put the crushed ice. Moment you put the crushed ice, you can smell the minty smell of absinthe pouring out. The mint sprig completes the bouquet. The Pontarlier part of the name comes from the traditional French home for absinthe distillation.

The gin is mostly to stretch the strength of the absinthe. The bittersweet taste with the strong mint aroma makes it very refreshing on a hot and muggy day like today.

I would let the crushed ice to sit for some time to get the full effect of the drink.


16 August 2016

This is why I do not go to grocery stores

This morning was a speed run day for me. After a few long mile runs, I wanted to get some balance in the muscle group stress points. Now, before you get any ideas, let me explain that when I say speed runs, these are speed runs by my standards. My 100 meter dash timing is not going to threaten Usain Bolt any time soon. In fact, by the time I am done with my dash, he would have completed his race, gone around the stadium one full round waving at the crowd, draped in Jamaica’s flag and would have further just finished his third autograph. Fifth, if he cared to hurry up.

In any case, back to my story. Halfway thru to the running track, I realized that I had forgotten to pack some food with me. I get very very hungry after the speed runs. And thirsty. Experience has taught me that a couple of oranges or apples fixes that problem very easily – I guess they are very hydrating and are rich in nutrients. So, reluctantly, I decided to stop by a Kroger (grocery store) to pick up a couple of oranges.

I say reluctantly because the grocery store is one of the most confusing places for me. The rare few times I go there, I find myself knowing what I want but not where to find it. After every single item, I call up Sharmila to direct me to the right aisle and the exact corner of the aisle. But, there I was – running into the store to pick up a couple of oranges.

Right at the door, I was greeted by an elderly Kroger lady of particularly cheerful disposition. She wished me Good Morning and asked me “Are you looking for anything in particular, hon?” with that Southern hospitality. “Good morning! And yes ma’m. I was going to pick up some oranges. Can you tell me where to find them?”.

Her answer – which was really a question – stopped me in my tracks to a screeching halt. “Clementines, Tangelos, Navel Oranges, Tangerines or Mandarins? Or perhaps Blood Oranges?”. I stood there listlessly looking at her, perplexity writ all over my face, no doubt. On an aside, did I say I know “what I want” in a grocery store? Allow me to take that back.

Not to come across as an idiot, I confidently replied “Tangerines, ma’m. Yes, that is what I want. Tangerines”. She, with a big smile, pointed me to the right corner of the store where all those confusing fruits lay all over the place. I went there, matter-of-factly picked up a couple of them, and pretended to inspect them – all the while tempted to Google what is it that I should be buying. I had no idea if Tangerine is what I was looking for.

And the moment I realized – by the glance from the corner of my eye – that the lady had become busy greeting the next customer, quickly picked up a couple of bananas and left 🙂