Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Book Review : Algorithms to live by

This book came up in the circles of job search and discussions of things that don’t matter.

It would have been a fallacy if the title said stood by what it said. Algorithms are thought processes and having behavioral philosophies of itself, that mathematicians may appreciate better. However, math being a yesteryear wonder-keyword and a dreaded subject across the globe. It may be better marketing tactics that prevailed over the political correctness, which is may be why the book is titled so.

The beginning of the book tries to shake the forgotten skills of probability and experience with uncertainty, the only use of probability theorems. The book is divided nicely in chapters that are digestible and probably demand a time of rest to rethink and re-iterate.  Game theory could be claimed as child of mathematics, logic, probability or computer science. As I mentioned , I could not think of computer science as something beyond mathematics. Somehow, the term “computer” make it technically appealing rather than the old school math. I feel same about control engineering leading to systems engineering, leading to mechatronics and robotics, and cyber physical systems  graduating into internet of things. More recently,  probability giving space to artificial intelligence and expert systems, to machine learning and deep learning and what not down the line.


References from the book for further reading:

Essay – “Walking” , Henry David Thoreau. ” There is a harmony discoverable…”

“The Scientist in the Crib” – Alison Gopnik – ” Extended period of human child’s development provides a way to develop exploration/exploitation trade-off”


“What’s best ? > What’s new ?” – Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig


Quotes I want to remember:

“In the practical use of our intellect, forgetting is as important a function as remembering” – William James

I was asked to draw my learning curve of whiteboard during an interview. I drew a upward going zigzag. My Y axis being “knowledge’ and X axis “time”, (this happened before I read this book) .I explained that my knowledge increases and shown by an upward slope and then I remove what I do not want reach a local minima and continue to pick up from there, leading to another maxima, again throwing away things I do not want and keep going. Some of my friends were impressed by this answer. Interviewer definitely had not seen such a learning curve, and I did not land up with a job offer.

Future reading:

“The Oligarchs” – David Hoffman – on optimal stopping

“Organizing from the Inside Out” – Julie Morgenstern

“Keeping Found things Found” – William Jones

I had read ” Eat that Frog” . This book compares some title in a single shot such as “The Now Habit” ( schedule leisure than work first), “Wait” ( dangling unfinished tasks), “Getting Things Done”. And then the classic Lao Tzu kicks in ” Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small”.  This chapter simply opens up the thoughts into scheduling ideas than I have used on my own. And it is as expected a nice mix of all these and similar techniques with minimal regret as the first priority..

Another interesting term that came up when reading the book is QED. Unlike Quantum ElectroDynamics, my friend expanded it was “Quite Easy Decision” (QED). While  the book describes Charles Darwin’s algorithm and conclusion to marry being written as “Quad erat demonstrandum“, which translates to “Hence proved”. Remember our school math ?!

The book also gives insights into the optimization problem that shows itself in mathematics, industrial engineering, operational research and project management. The origins of “traveling salesman problem” and why it was not called “prairie lawyer problem” was an interesting read. It was also mind-blowing to learn that the word “Serendipity” is derived from the fairy tales of “The Three Princes of Serendip” ( Serendip standing for Srilanka).

About the book:

Sans the notes the book is average at 262 pages. Reading is heavy with examples and intellectually simulating. This will make the reader think and read. Making the reading time longer than fiction. If the reader has used or searched about some productivity tools and thoughts then this book is interesting.


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Posted by on June 23, 2017 in Book Review, Uncategorized


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Incomplete, me!

Once, I went to an office to sign up for my paperwork due for an employment. Being in USA, I like the way they present the tax forms upfront, so we know that we are part of something bigger and tax is being paid directly, there is nothing illegal about the job offer, etc.  This happiness is short-lived by the amount of confusion innate in any Government forms. And after multiple questions, filling up portion of the forms and going back and forth, I made a friend out of the front desk clerk. Then comes the part which asks for my status in the country. I say without any expression, but surety to know the answer “I am an alien”. That lady held my hand in a semi-sympathizing manner. I was startled, for a moment, because I never expected such a reaction. The movie “Independence Day” (US American English movie) came to mind. I did not dwell myself too much into the implications of the movie, in this context, for I have a job at hand. A job to complete. As I continued, more spaces stood out blank “says aliens to read instructions”, I read out. This time the lady had come to terms with my kind of reading. So, we were back to the content, directly.

Sometimes, in life, when confused, I feel that I live to fill up the blanks in the forms presented at various stages of my life. Except for the space for family, parents, I used to wonder all the humongous amount of information that we had to put into paper to get various benefits from the Government, or even in the case of employment. This continues into online applications, tax filing and almost every place I end up being me. And then this funny incident happened.

In my last visit to the health services I was told there was nothing to do, except the chores. The freedom of the country, I am in, gives the practitioner a complete picture of my previous medical cases. Only, whatever I chose to reveal in the beginning, of course. This is a routine in USA, where you are asked the history of your health, about your parent’s health, so the complete case history is at the fingertips of the doc. This time I only had to verbally fill the form that they had in their system. It is mandatory for them to remind me of all the background I had. Especially allergy and surgery. I have been asked in India, my home country, too, about allergy to medicines. This may be standard across the board. However, surgery was something new. So, I am told ” You had no major surgeries except removal of wisdom tooth”. I ask back, curious to know if it is really that important ” Is it a real surgery?”. Doc replies ” Yes! because they gave you anaesthesia, opened your body and a part of your body is removed “.  I retorted “I am incomplete!”. She in a surprise said “I have never heard someone say like that”.

That realization that I had left something of my body back from where I came from, I had lost it to the modern medicine. A part of my body is removed, therefore I am incomplete. Nevertheless, it helps fill the form, where there is space to fill up with any surgeries I had.  Cynically, I had lost something to gain something. And the insight struck that I do not have to be confused enough to do something to fill up some random blank space in some equally arbitrary event in this life.


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Posted by on December 22, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Conversations in the USA and discovering some freedom

This post is about what I experienced in the USA through interactions of people. I have met people from many different places here. And life is dynamic. I believe this is more so because of the state of studies that I am in where I have had some full time experience in India and then came back.
There is a sense of freedom. I heard  this from a young mother. She said that kids are free when they feel secure with the person they are with. The kids are otherwise very well behaved in front of everyone else. But, as they be with their mother alone. Then the hell breaks lose. This is said to be due to their sense of freedom. This is one thing that I , may be like many, feel here.
The best time of life is when one graduates and gets a job. Here, the most luckiest person is formed, who earns, learns life and enjoys freedom to do what they wish. This has happened to me twice. And I am waiting for a third one. However, even before that I felt the sense of freedom. This is somewhat odd. The way I feel looking at the leaf in the breeze, in rain, and feel timeless. That moment is priceless. That is made possible by this new found liberty. I am surprised and wondered how it can happen, when I am in a university studying for another degree.
My best guess is that this can be the result of knowing that there is an end to the program, not too soon. I earn part time, and live on what I earn. And also I do not have anyone to convince around. I can wear what I like and behave the way I am. I am answerable to myself, my studies and health are my responsibilities. There is no one to judge. And the better portion of it is that even at the part time work even though I am subservient in my student employment, I have the freedom to quit any time, and find some other similar job. And keep pursuing my academic interests. Converting time into money is made possible and made available to students in the USA. Even though I am a student and the work can be loaded on me, I am treated at par with any employee. I am treated equal, irrespective of my social status of being a student. Irrespective of my earning potential. And the demeanor does not change with my race or age or color or even the accent. This is great. I am not judged. And then I am free.
I am trying to figure out why I feel free. And what freedom means.
At the same time. Though I stay with folks from my native state, speak the same language and sometimes cook and eat the traditional dishes. They , I feel make their conduct not too different from what they were. In fact, many times I have felt that people from my place are extremely helpful and hold to their own mannerisms. This magically changes when they speak to someone who is not from my place. Strange people exist. This is especially true when the person at the other end is a fresh student , without any prior experience in industry from India. They have started their real freedom by being free with me!
This led me to answer the question, when do people grow up? I realized that this new belief regarding age came up. Age is in mind. Age is reflected in how one takes care of another person, people around us. This includes how we handle ourselves with positive impacts on people with us. This include how we care about others. This includes how one’s self is effecting the others by the least.
The freedom in the USA allows anyone to talk to anyone. This is directly related to the other person’s body language. And in general , I feel it is easy for people to start conversation in the USA because there is no discrimination. This is in contrast with people and conversations in India, where, in Tamil Nadu you hear being referred to as “Antha Payyan” (அந்த பய்யந்) in dialogues of elderly, “Sir” because of office staff and beggars, “da / de” (டா/டே)”by friends and people of similar age, and by name when an acquaintance girl addresses you in office, “Uncle” by small children, “Anna (brother)”(அன்னா)  by youngsters. I was not too older than 26 when I had the completed the collection of these titles.
And there was this personal joke, where , unlike the old system of giving the title of “Sir” , reserved for by the monarchy of some small country near the arctic, we as individuals rose to that level of royal heights to call everyone by “Sir/Madam”. In fact, in Chennai, I was advised to call the bus conductors as “Sir/Madam” to show respect. This has its own benefits. By the way , who does not like praise. That freedom from these tags and labels is broken when I enter the circle of natives (people from my place) in the USA. Again, I wonder why even younger people call me “Eda” in the USA, but never in India. But outside that, in the USA, I am treated as equal. At maximum the way people address diverge into “Dude” and in the boyish craziness “Hey Man!” no more than that. This was an interesting development. Thanks to my practice of calling people with the postfix “ji” to show respect. This is a versatile discovery from Hindi language. Where anything with “ji” is with respect. This wonderful because it works with names, can be added easily to any Indian name and applies equally well to any gender and any age. But, I had to stick with the “Sir” for a few old bosses. They may not respond to name +”ji” extension in a place , which is not mainly Hindi speaking. And this occasionally breaks out and comes to the tongue in the name +”Sir” form or even better just plainly reverent “Sir” sometimes in the USA. It is unfortunate and hard to throw that away.
As conversations are made simpler with a “Hi/Hey/Hello” instead of a formal way to grab another person’s attention and kick start any conversation – official or casual. It frees the mind to focus on the content than the intricacies of level of honor/respect in the words used. For this is a rule of emphasis in German , Telugu, Hindi and Tamil and many other languages.
Explanation of the titles, of respect, used in India to an American (USA) colleague, made me re-think what exactly each of these stood for. And why I used it ! And so , here is the blog post ,so that, may be one day; when I forget these usages, I can refer to this back then.
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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in travel


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About : Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from VenusMen Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book acts as a self help guide for life. It is really wonderful to know that you can program your life to get the best of both worlds viz Mars and Venus. It is commendable that sometime put the time and effort to compile this collection of experience and practical knowledge. Now, I can with some understanding ( being single) understand what exactly is happening in the conversations between the married couple in my family.

The way John has written about Love Letters is interesting. He mentions writing one for the self. Writing for the sake of venting the emotions, not just for another person to read. This kind of reflection and catharsis goes a long way in helping to cope with stressful life. I know people who believe in law of averages. They would make a law and say that either life or career should be smooth. Not both can be in volatile volcanic state, and if it is so , it is difficult for me to handle it. And therefore, they conveniently choose their career over their life matters. I have never seen ( in quarter century of life) someone who has put all his life and blood to the job and gained everything out of it. Family and social life is the only segment of life that gives and lends without asking, allowing unconditional borrowing and offering unconditional life situation. This is truly priceless and invaluable. if someone is trading this for a career or anything else , that person deserves the treatment he gets! No Offense.
This book can help guide people who are obsessive in forgetting about family. People who have difficulty in understanding spouse and I guess it is useful for me went my status changes from that of single.

The book is a nice work. Not too boring for a self help guide and not too boring if you are serious about understanding what to expect and what not in a married life. I would recommend this to anyone who is an adult.

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Posted by on June 6, 2016 in Book Review, Review


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Happy rain, travel woes and the useless buffalo

People should be taken out of the road. The road is for those who pay road tax and apparently obey traffic rules. The traffic policemen, the security at the gate of office all give due respect to the motorists. Salutes are crisp and clear for those who travel by car. Anyone with an SUV or luxury car can expect a free hand wave to get it through the traffic. They must be the rich, the elite, the powerful, they cannot be stopped.

I had this odd incident , I had a 12 hour journey in train. I had learned enough football to give shoulder pushes on the people around. To push them from blocking my way. My way is right and my way is always free. No one can stop me. I am invincible. I could happily push through the people and get out of the unreserved compartment. I could push all on my way from the platform to the road. I could push people around in the bus and make space to stand. It is my right and my way, that is always right. I get down at the destination. The moment I get down it rains. A gentle reminder that there is someone above, who can always play with the tap with ceaseless source of water. It flowed heavily , swept the dirty roads, cleaned the sideroads and whatever was left of footpath.

There was water everywhere, I was not thirsty. So, I left it where it is, that is, on the road. It started filling the roads. I was happy to get wet in the rain, since anyway I had not taken bath. I had the head dry, that was the most important aspect. Head was safe with a plastic cover. And then Whoosh! Splash! I was drenched in that dirty muddy water, it was done by Some Qualis with Taxi permit. May be he is busy, may be he did not see me. May be he is in an emergency. With lot of effort I tried to place him in a position to receive my forgiveness. But the ego of a man is not thwarted that easily. I was searching for some stone to throw at his window. But he was lucky , there was not even a small piece in vicinity. I dropped the plan and got myself on the middle of the road. This time no one should splash muddy water at me without hitting me. And then the motorists seem to understand my feelings. Sometimes, there were a few unmindful, who honked at the nuisance created by me. I was all the more happy. I am getting a natural bath that will will clean up the dirt.

I reached the room, threw my clothes for washing and showered myself to cent percent cleanliness. I was sensing the neatness about me. I was feeling slightly spiritual. Cleanliness is next to godliness. I decided to visit the temple nearby. And then proceed to my office. I started again onto the road and forward. I had the end of my pants folded up so that no water can directly make me wet. I had discarded shoes for normal footwear. I was prepared with a cap and an umbrella. I could see bikes struggling through the potholes of the road. I was happy that I was not being inconvenienced by being in possession of bike and facing the hardship of driving through the rain. I did not have to buy an expensive raincoat, and I could help myself with a low cost umbrella. I could be happy with so much less. I could enjoy the wet wind on my face and slight dampness of the surroundings. I thoroughly enjoy this, while a raincoat would have marred this entertainment.

I waded through the clean waters this time. And faced the most ugliest portion of the path. It was a 100 metres of dirty flood. A forgotten footpath were the garden plants and trees shook with pleasure at the sudden rain. The gates of a few compounds opened to the footpath blocking it. I pushed it back and try to regain the invasion of the householders on the footpath. I could manage with what was left of footpath, a clear 1 feet width was only occasionally touched by the waves of the muddy pool. I worked through the pre-determined path. I could foresee a vehicle in opposite direction and went behind a parked car to safeguard myself. I stayed on and a vehicle went past me. I walked peacefully thinking about the waves of sea. The rain that I had experience near the seashore. With the tides hitting violently at the rocks that block the high tides. The waves in the muddy pool on the road were mere minor reflections of the same from a different angle. And a Toyota Innova went past me splashing all the dirt on me. I was soaked. Drenched. Inundated!.

On a normal day I would expect such rowdy behaviour from a Ford car owner but never a Toyota. That too an Innova. That too when I was feeling happy and lost. So much for the reality. I decided to protest with my misfortune. I did not return back to change clothes. I went to the bus. Pushed the conductor and people around. I felt slightly happy that an otherwise silent self was joyfully pushing against others. This was revenge for the forces that had pushed me into this situation.

no footpath, no respect for fellow beings. This is a merciless, pitiless world for real.

To take a pro-active, progressive and positive steps with forgiveness may prove fatal.

To be an useless buffalo which accepts anything that come the way, be a block , unmindful of the consequences, was more easily done and said.


Congratulations! You have read 2 pages, totalling 969 words.


Posted by on October 22, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Getting my hands dirty ; Studying How to make Bonsai…



I have lot of small banyan tree sapling sprouting out from water drainage pipes atop the roof of my apartments.

Banyan trees are very powerful. It can grow even on rough rock. Such power bestowed upon a tree is rare. And for that matter it is King of trees and prayed upon. This holy tree is a symbol of divinity and trinity in Hinduism.

“Vata vriksha is worshipped all over India as a representative of the Trimurthis,Brahma (roots) Vishnu ( bark) and Shiva (branches)). Vishnu is also compared to the seed of the Banyan tree, by our ancient poets, as the entire universe is said to have emanated from him, just as the gigantic Banyan tree originates from a single minute seed.” –

Significance of Banyan Tree


Amazing Things about Banyan Tree

Natural strategy to remove thetree growing on walls and buildings is to cut it of and pour acid on the remaining part of it. If this is not done, we will never know when the building is going to fall, lest the tree is not killed.


For an amicable solution, I pulled out the possible roots and branches of the sapling that was growing on the rooftop. And was wondering what to do with it. I had forgot to put it in water. The leaves that remained with the plucked plant became weak and shrunk due to lack of water.


On the third day, I thought of making bonsai out of it. I rushed to the place where the saplings were kept and alas they were gone. As if due to negligence they walked away soberly!

Only later I learned from the sweeper that it was thrown with other ever-growing waste and taken away by the Waste-Collector.


I was almost assured that the plant will grow better at the waste dump-yard. While the wastes accumulated and remained forgotten and not taken to processing, these saplings were bound to grow the way they please in open space, that was lottery for them I believe.


But given the circumstances and chance to shout, I shouted at the sweeper for taking away the saplings that were kept carefully and safely! So careful was I that I had forgotten about its whereabouts for two days!


I went to rooftop in search of more roots and sprouts, and found some, put them in suitable pots and started reading about Bonsai making


Here are some Bonsai links

Bonsai Theory and Practice


Youtube Search for Banyan Tree Bonsai:…16822.27609.0.27845.…0.0…1ac.1.CZixA_bejnU





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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


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