Life’s Meandering…

Statuary Warning : I’m gonna get Philosophical in this post!

Its been a long time since i’ve posted now, mainly coz so many things have happened so fast and i didn’t have time for anything else.
It seems like November last year was ages back, i was getting into some research, fighting along the usual bureaucracies and politics involved in getting what you want, getting bored in class, having fun with friends, enjoying my new found love life, and occasionally cursing myself for the life I’ve chosen and wondering about the direction in which I’m moving.
Then, in the midst of all this and college exams, the semester abroad program started, knowing the usual way of how things work in the university, i was skeptical of if anything would work out as moreover, the program was for spring 08 and we had less than 2 months to send applications, get acceptance, complete the visa procedure and reach there after being finalized by SRM, which itself would have taken 2 months knowing the cat and dog fight we generally have .. lol. But inspite of all the odds, we were successful in getting through everything, if not for some divine intervention i wonder how everything happened .. it was magical how finally on 18th of January, 3 days before start of class for spring 08, i landed in Milwaukee… the city totally covered with snow ..

To be continued ..

Ok, i step out of the aircraft and s small fissure between the aircraft and the aerobridge to the airport premises introduces me to the cold air which i have to face for the next few months to come, i felt as if i’m some freezer, within the next few seconds my attire was transformed to one similar to an eskimo .. lolz.
Apart from the extremely bitter cold, (which surprisingly, i was reasonably comfortable with), Milwaukee and American life in general was quite exotic, even though we think we know it all through electronic media…

Anyways, UWM’s college life was like a dream come true, i’ve never enjoyed college life more than in those 5 months, and i never knew how time flew. Academics was for once really challenging, which made you rattle your brains and the sweet satisfaction of success cannot be found anywhere else. Before embarking on this adventurous mission, I had no idea about whether or not i’ll be able to cope up and perform with the standards maintaining in a world class recognised institution.. but i’m happy to say that I surprised myself, and the end of the day leaves me with more confidence, more opportunities and a different outlook of life.

But again, you want more.. coz now you can see more and as you want more you are not satisfied. This insatiable need to keep reaching the higher high is what keeps you going, and it needs continuous fueling by the individual as well as his environ. Coz i feel if the environ is not conducive enough for the individuals desires, the desire to excel burns out and complacency creeps into the picture. I know getting higher in life and keeping your momentum going is easier said than done. In fact, I have a part of me is very lazy and complacent, it wants to be ignorant of the reality and the world around, it likes get lost in its own blissful world where there are no worries, no deadlines to meet and a easy going fun life. Unfortunately this dream world exists only in dreams, and somehow we need to kick some senses into ourselves and snapback to reality, the sooner the better.
Even if we are able to get ourselves to work with full vigour, there are times when you seem stuck, there are problems which seems unsolvable and all our fervor is dampened. This dispirited nature cant get us anywhere; quoting Randy Pausch, ” The Brick walls are there for a reason, They let us prove how badly we want things “, So its these testing times which show us our true potential, these times show us what we are really capable us, I should not be preaching all this as i so far don’t follow most of it strictly myself, but at the same time, i don’t say i’m correct, I accept my weakness and I try to overcome it at several occasions.

Spending a semester at UWM has made me grow much more as a person, and i’m very happy for that. Now my life has taken another turn here, I get the opportunity to take transfer, spend two more semesters at UWM and graduate with a BS in Computer Science, trust me when I say, for a guy from a middle class Indian University, this is like free tickets to the Moon !! There’ll be several instances of your life which later you realize were your major turning points, like for example me getting admitted to SRM initially at Modinagar, but this was one of those moments where I can feel it right there that “Yes, THIS is gonna change my life”.

With every new thing, comes loads of speculations, anxieties, brick walls, but i believe in Providence, Karma and doing my part of the work properly. So far, i’ve been blessed with good luck and things have gone smoothly, and i’m going in this new found direction trying to reach my destiny; at the same time, I’ve put in time and effort to help others to achieve the same and more in life. As i believe that Arrogance and Insolence leads to one’s ruin but having a humble nature and helping others gives you a Divine Euphoria and Peace.

Thus I say my Life’s Meandering as I don’t know where I’m going or what my destiny is going to be, I’ve been so surprised by thew amazing ways life takes turns that I feel there’s no point expecting anything out of it. As nothing seems to have gone as expected. But I can say that things are happening for the better, and i’m very happy with the way things are going, I have dreams and ambitions no doubt, but maybe just by sticking to what i’m supposed to do and not expecting much out of life, I get more than what i asked for .. 😉

Peace out people .. I’m tired…

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All about Nerds .. !

Interesting.. Original Content @ http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2007/11/11/the_nerd_handbook.html

The Nerd Handbook

A nerd needs a project because a nerd builds stuff. All the time. Those lulls in the conversation over dinner? That’s the nerd working on his project in his head.

keyboard

It’s unlikely that this project is a nerd’s day job because his opinion regarding his job is, “Been there, done that”. We’ll explore the consequences of this seemingly short attention span in a bit, but for now this project is the other big thing your nerd is building and I’ve no idea what is, but you should.

At some point, you, the nerd’s companion, were the project. You were showered with the fire hose of attention because you were the bright and shiny new development in your nerd’s life. There is also a chance that you’re lucky and you are currently your nerd’s project. Congrats. Don’t get too comfortable because he’ll move on, and, when that happens, you’ll be wondering what happened to all the attention. This handbook might help.

Regarding gender: for this piece, my prototypical nerd is a he as a convenience. There are plenty of she nerds out there for which these observations equally apply.

Understand your nerd’s relation to the computer. It’s clichéd, but a nerd is defined by his computer, and you need to understand why.

First, a majority of the folks on the planet either have no idea how a computer works or they look at it and think “it’s magic”. Nerds know how a computer works. They intimately know how a computer works. When you ask a nerd, “When I click this, it takes awhile for the thing to show up. Do you know what’s wrong?” they know what’s wrong. A nerd has a mental model of the hardware and the software in his head. While the rest of the world sees magic, your nerd knows how the magic works, he knows the magic is a long series of ones and zeros moving across your screen with impressive speed, and he knows how to make those bits move faster.

The nerd has based his career, maybe his life, on the computer, and as we’ll see, this intimate relationship has altered his view of the world. He sees the world as a system which, given enough time and effort, is completely knowable. This is a fragile illusion that your nerd has adopted, but it’s a pleasant one that gets your nerd through the day. When the illusion is broken, you are going to discover that…

Your nerd has control issues. Your nerd lives in a monospaced typeface world. Whereas everyone else is traipsing around picking dazzling fonts to describe their world, your nerd has carefully selected a monospace typeface, which he avidly uses to manipulate the world deftly via a command line interface while the rest fumble around with a mouse.

The reason for this typeface selection is, of course, practicality. Monospace typefaces have a knowable width. Ten letters on one line are same width as ten other letters, which puts the world into a pleasant grid construction where X and Y mean something.

These control issues mean your nerd is sensitive to drastic changes in his environment. Think travel. Think job changes. These types of system-redefining events force your nerd to recognize that the world is not always or entirely a knowable place, and until he reconstructs this illusion, he’s going to be frustrated and he’s going to act erratically. I develop an incredibly short fuse during system-redefining events and I’m much more likely to lose it over something trivial and stupid. This is one of the reasons that…

Your nerd has built himself a cave. I’ve written about The Cave elsewhere, but here are the basics. The Cave is designed to allow your nerd to do his favorite thing, which is working on the project. If you want to understand your nerd, stare long and hard at his Cave. How does he have it arranged? When does he tend to go there? How long does he stay?

Each object in the Cave has a particular place and purpose. Even the clutter is well designed. Don’t believe me? Grab that seemingly discarded Mac Mini which has been sitting on the floor for two months and hide it. You’ll have 10 minutes before he’ll come stomping out of the Cave — “Where’s the Mac?”

The Cave is also frustrating you because your impression is that it’s your nerd’s way of checking out, and you are, unfortunately, completely correct. A correctly designed Cave removes your nerd from the physical world and plants him firmly in a virtual one complete with all the toys he needs. Because…

Your nerd loves toys and puzzles. The joy your nerd finds in his project is one of problem solving and discovery. As each part of the project is completed, your nerd receives an adrenaline rush that we’re going to call The High. Every profession has this — the moment when you’ve moved significantly closer to done. In many jobs, it’s easy to discern when progress is being made: “Look, now we have a door”. But in nerds’ bit-based work, progress is measured mentally and invisibly in code, algorithms, efficiency, and small mental victories that don’t exist in a world of atoms.

There are other ways your nerd can create The High and he does it all the time. It’s another juicy cliché to say that nerds love video games, but that’s not what they love. A video game is just one more system where your nerd’s job is to figure out the rules that define it, which will enable him to beat it. Yeah, we love to stare at games with a bazillion polygons, but we get the same high out of playing Bejeweled, getting our Night Elf to Level 70, or endlessly tinkering with a Rubik’s Cube. This fits nicely with the fact that…

Nerds are fucking funny. Your nerd spent a lot of his younger life being an outcast because of his strange affinity with the computer. This created a basic bitterness in his psyche that is the foundation for his humor. Now, combine this basic distrust of everything with your nerd’s other natural talents and you’ll realize that he sees humor is another game.

Humor is an intellectual puzzle, “How can this particular set of esoteric trivia be constructed to maximize hilarity as quickly as possible?” Your nerd listens hard to recognize humor potential and when he hears it, he furiously scours his mind to find relevant content from his experience so he can get the funny out as quickly as possible.

This quick wit is only augmented by the fact that…

Your nerd has an amazing appetite for information. Many years ago, I dubbed this behavior NADD, and you should read the article to learn more and to understand what mental muscles your nerd has developed.

How does a nerd watch TV? Probably one of two ways. First, there’s watching TV with you where the two of you sit and watch one show. Then there’s how he watches by himself when he watches three shows at once. It looks insane. You walk into the room and you’re watching your nerd jump between channels every five minutes.

“How can you keep track of anything?”

He keeps track of everything. See, he’s already seen all three of these movies… multiple times. He knows the compelling parts of the arcs and is mentally editing his own versions while watching all three. The basic mental move here is the context switch, and your nerd is the king of the context switch.

The ability to instantly context switch also comes from a life on the computer. Your nerd’s mental information model for the world is one contained within well-bounded tidy windows where the most important tool is one that allows your nerd to move swiftly from one window to the next. It’s irrelevant that there may be no relationship between these windows. Your nerd is used to making huge contextual leaps where he’s talking to a friend in one window, worrying about his 401k in another, and reading about World War II in yet another.

You might suspect that given a world where context is constantly shifting, your nerd can’t focus, and you’d be partially correct. All that multi-tasking isn’t efficient. Your nerd knows very little about a lot. For many topics, his knowledge is an inch deep and four miles wide. He’s comfortable with this fact because he knows that deep knowledge about any topic is a clever keystroke away. See…

Your nerd has built an annoyingly efficient relevancy engine in his head. It’s the end of the day and you and your nerd are hanging out on the couch. The TV is off. There isn’t a computer anywhere nearby and you’re giving your nerd the daily debrief. “Spent an hour at the post office trying to ship that package to your mom, and then I went down to that bistro — you know — the one next the flower shop, and it’s closed. Can you believe that?”

And your nerd says, “Cool”.

Cool? What’s cool? The business closing? The package? How is any of it cool? None of it’s cool. Actually, all of it might be cool, but your nerd doesn’t believe any of what you’re saying is relevant. This is what he heard, “Spent an hour at the post office blah blah blah…”

You can be rightfully pissed off by this behavior — it’s simply rude — but seriously, I’m trying to help here. Your nerd’s insatiable quest for information and The High has tweaked his brain in an interesting way. For any given piece of incoming information, your nerd is making a lightning fast assessment: relevant or not relevant? Relevance means that the incoming information fits into the system of things your nerd currently cares about. Expect active involvement from your nerd when you trip the relevance flag. If you trip the irrelevance flag, look for verbal punctuation announcing his judgment of irrelevance. It’s the word your nerd says when he’s not listening and it’s always the same. My word is “Cool”, and when you hear “Cool”, I’m not listening.

Information that your nerd is exposed to when the irrelevance flag is waving is forgotten almost immediately. I mean it. Next time you hear “Cool”, I want you to ask, “What’d I just say?” That awkward grin on your nerd’s face is the first step in getting him to acknowledge that he’s the problem in this particular conversation. This behavior is one of the reasons that…

Your nerd might come off as not liking people. Small talk. Those first awkward five minutes when two people are forced to interact. Small talk is the bane of the nerd’s existence because small talk is a combination of aspects of the world that your nerd hates. When your nerd is staring at a stranger, all he’s thinking is, “I have no system for understanding this messy person in front of me”. This is where the shy comes from. This is why nerds hate presenting to crowds.

The skills to interact with other people are there. They just lack a well-defined system.

Advanced Nerd Tweakage

If you’re still reading, then I’m thinking that your nerd is worth keeping. Even though he’s apt to vanish for hours, has a strange sense of humor, doesn’t like you touching his stuff, and often doesn’t listen when you’re talking directly at him, he’s a keeper. Go figure.

My advice:

Map the things he’s bad at to the things he loves. You love to travel, but your nerd would prefer to hide in his cave for hours on end chasing The High. You need to convince him of two things. First, you need to convince him that you’re going to do your best to recreate his cave in his new surrounding. You’re going to create a quiet, dark place here he can orient himself and figure out which way the water flushes down the toilet. Traveling internationally? Carve out three days somewhere quiet at the beginning of the trip. Traveling across the US? How about letting him chill on the bed for a half-day before you drag him out to see the Golden Gate Bridge?

Second, and more importantly, you need to remind him about his insatiable appetite for information. You need to appeal to his deep love of discovering new content and help him understand that there may be no greater content fire hose than waking up in a hotel overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice where you don’t speak a word of Italian.

Make it a project. You might’ve noticed your nerd’s strange relation to food. Does he eat fast? Like really fast? You should know what’s going on here. Food is thrown into the irrelevant bucket because it’s getting in the way of the content. Exercise, too. Thing is, you want your nerd to eat healthily so that he’s here in another thirty years, so how do you change this behavior? You make diet and exercise the project.

For me, exercise became the project ten years ago after a horrible break-up. When the project was no longer the Ex, I dove into exercise every single day of the week. There were charts tracking my workouts, there were graphs tracking my weight, and there was the exercise. Every single day for two years until the day I passed out in a McDonald’s post-workout after not eating for a day. Ok, so time for a new project. Yeah, nerds also have moderation issues. That’s another essay.

Significant nerd behavioral change is only going to happen if your nerd engages in the project heart and soul, otherwise it’s just another thought for the irrelevant bucket.

People are the most interesting content out there. If you’ve got a seriously shy nerd on your hands, try this: ask him how many folks are in his buddy list? How many friends does he have in Facebook? How many folks are following him on Twitter? LiveJournal? My guess is that, collectively, your nerd interacts with ten times more people than you think he does. He can do this because the interaction is via a system he understands — the computer.

Your nerd knows that people are interesting. Just because he can’t look your best friend straight in the eye doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to know what makes her tick, but you need to be the social buffer — the translation layer. You need to find one common thread of interest between your nerd and your friend and then he’ll engage because he will have found relevance.

The Next High

As you discovered when you were the project, your nerd’s focus can be deliciously overwhelming, but it will stop. Once a nerd believe he fully knows how a system works, the challenge to understand ceases to exist and he moves on in search of The Next High.

While I don’t know who you are or why in the world you chose a nerd for your companion, I do know that you are not a knowable system. I know that you are messy, just like your nerd. Being your own quirky self will be more than enough to present new and interesting challenges to your nerd.

Besides, it’s just as much a nerd’s job to figure you out and maybe someone somewhere is writing an article about your particular quirks. Good news, he’s probably reading it right now.

Life in The U.S. of A and Lessons learnt so far .. ;-)

It has been quite a smooth yet vibrant stint in the US so far. Firstly there were the various shocks to deal with, weather, culture, cost of living, food, academics and PR. Not all of them were really good but none of them was entirely unwelcome or surprising either. Well, for those who wanna catch with what’s happening here, currently I’m at University of Wisconsin@Milwaukee as a Special Student for one semester. Don’t be so Naive as to be taken by the ‘Speciality‘ of it, Semester Abroad Program was launched under a MoU between SRM University in Chennai and UWM, so under this, whoever can cough up the fee, is free to go and explore the world. Anyways, coming back to where we were.. Milwaukee is the second most coldest city in the US, and I’m surprised at myself and my body fat to have adjusted to it so well. We landed on 18th of Jan and faced temperatures of -6 F. For those more comfortable with the metric system, -6 F is like even below -21 C and you can add the wind chill over that and it comes to somewhere around -28 C.. haha, you could not be outside on the street for more than half an hour tops, then u gotta move in some place and warm up before you wanna go out again. The Sun is highly deceiving, all that is bright is not hot is a lesson people from India learn very quickly here. Though as exciting and new it was to us, winter is not enjoyable for long, and the irony is that today 27th of March, i can still see it snowing outside. I mean what the hell, does the spring semester have only one month of actual spring in it. Well, moving on, the Culture shock was not much, the whole world knows America and its ways of life ( pun intended ), but now that i have seen the reality for myself, i really pity them. As flamboyant and social americans try to be, the truth is that they lead very lonely lives, family ties are very weak and social bonding ain’t that strong either. The Philosophy of every man for himself seems right in many ways, but doesn’t always make you happy. But the cursory attitude adds to the irony, if you are walking down the street, lots of people walking across will greet you, ‘Hi, Howz it going’ is a commonly heard phrase but the person would have said that and walked away even before you reply, so why did he ask the question in the first place if he’s not interested, bcoz thats customary and thats how they are, they try to be friendly and good outside but everyone understands the material world and no one actually cares for anyone else. The Cost of Living in US was a big big shock for me, i never expected things to be so so expensive. The Average living expenses for a month for a student is around 600$, and bcoz we are in University Housing, expenses are as high as 1000$ per month for us. Thats the expense of an entire semester back in India. I can write on this for hours but i guess it would be sufficient to say that a loaf of bread cost ~3$ in US and around 25 cents in India. Even Electronic Stuff, which i could have bet to be damn cheap in US, turns out quite expensive compared to prices to you get back home, but if you living here and earning in dollars , then it wont seem that expensive to you. Whatever be the case, nothing beats good old Nehru Place in Delhi or Ritchie Street in Chennai for me. Then, Food was something which was actually a shock to me, US being a land of Immigrants, gives u taste of food from all over the world. But i couldn’t figure out that what people have as a staple diet here. I mean u have a horde of choices from Italian,Mexican, Chinese etc, but Indian works best for me, so instead of getting confused what’s best to eat and spend lots of money on food, i have started cooking on my own. Get Rice, some Vegetables , MDH masalas , some ready-to-eat curries plus a Microwave and you’re all set. But in spite of all these problems, the excellent education system and quality of academics is what makes me love this place. Your creativity is brought out and you’re actually made to think, studies is fun and exciting. Loads of assignments and projects makes life interesting coz i love challenges and keeping my mind occupied. So far grades have been excellent for me. Lets see how it goes on.So that was a brief description of my life here, i hope those planning to think about following my suit can get good pointers from here.

How to be Creative ???

Well.. here’s one for all those people, who are seeking more satisfaction out of life, wanting to innovate and bring their inner spirit to action. The presentation here by Hugh MacLeod will help to get some good pointers, it gives 26 specific ways to improve yourself and being more creative.. download and view the presentation.. its good!

Download How to be Creative…

Cheerio!

Some More Quotes !

 

Only exceptionally rational men can afford to be absurd.
Allan Goldfein


I take my children everywhere, but they always find their way back home.
Robert Orben


We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.
Arthur Schopenhauer


Man is the only animal that laughs and has a state legislature.
Samuel Butler


Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people’s characters.
Margaret Halsey

 

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Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.
-William Ellery Channing
It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.

-Sir Winston Churchill
Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
-William Faulkner
Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it – what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellowmen. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.

-Carlos Castaneda

Some Interesting Quotes

Think

The Real Voyage of Discovery consists not in making new landscapes, but in having new eyes
– Anonymous

Only in Quiet Waters do Things Mirror themselves Undistorted
Only in a Quiet Mind is the Adequate Perception of the World
~Hans Margolius

“Every achiever I have ever met says, ‘My life turned around when I began to believe in me.'”
– Robert Schuller

“Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.”
– Stephen Covey

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”
– Bertrand Russell

“I don’t have to be what nobody else wants me to be and I am not afraid to be what I want to be.”
– Muhammad Ali

Following Your Dream… Eye of the Tiger

Survivor .. Eye of the Tiger                                                                                                                                                 Tiger

 If you have not yet heard the soundtrack ‘The Eye of the Tiger’ of the ROCKY series, I recommend you download it right now. A line in it goes … ‘Don’t lose a grip on the dreams of your past; you must fight just to keep them alive’. This is so true, so often we digress from our hearts desire, our dream due to circumstances, laziness, family pressure etc and finally after many years, call it destiny. Da Vinci once said ‘Oh wretched mortals, Open your eyes’. Many of us have forgotten the importance of following our dreams, we adjust to circumstances and are finally inured to the way life leads us, rather than we leading our lives. Come out of it people, live life to the fullest, follow your dream, don’t limit yourself by prejudices; it’s never too late to start. You are the master of your own Destiny, Arise Awake and stop not till the Goal is Reached… thus spoke Swami Vivekananda.