Electric toothbrush

I recently started using an electric toothbrush based on my dentist’s advice. It’s nothing fancy – an Oral-B Pro 4000. I got a decent deal with a 2 handle bundle so that V could use one as well.

What’s interesting is that I never knew how long I brushed my teeth. The recommendation had always been to only brush for 2 minutes at a maximum. Since I never looked at a timer, I always assumed that I was following the advice. This toothbrush has gentle haptic feedback after every 30 seconds to remind you to move to the next quadrant of your jaw. Finally, after 2 minutes it gives you a violent feedback almost as if it’s yelling at you.

When I started, I found myself only about halfway done at the 2 minute mark. It means I was almost twice as hard on my teeth and gums as recommended. And I must have done this for years! I have improved over the last week and now am able to time my brushing just right to finish at just about the 2 minute mark. Good learning!

For someone who recently moved to DE blade shaving, it seems backward to now commit to replacement brushes from the same manufacturer. But, it is different. Brushing with a ‘cartridge’ isn’t nearly as bad as shaving with a razor cartridge was for me. I am also using less toothpaste now (the brush head is circular and smaller) and timing my habit just right. Besides, brush cartridges are cheaper and there is potential to buy generic ones.

So, yes, I must be the last person I know who finally started using an electric toothbrush, but here’s to improving your life!

Time Flies, and Then it Comes Around

Corner of Prinsengracht and Brouwersgracht in Amsterdam
Corner of Prinsengracht and Brouwersgracht in Amsterdam (April 28, 2016)

I just took this picture while on my way back from my morning coffee. It has been more than 5 years (5 years, 8 months, and 3 days, to be exact) since we moved to this charming city, and every day feels like we just arrived. It is easy to get lost in that daily routine of re-discovering the city. There are still centuries old buildings that look like they were just built yesterday.

But, today, the walk home especially struck me. The scene reminded me of that rainy day in our first week in the city when I was standing on that corner, umbrella in hand, while V&I waited for the mini-bus to arrive so I could ride it to my new job. There used to be a blue-colored Stop-n-Go bus service in those days that went around the canals all the way to the Central Station every half an hour or so. It was raining, a bit windy, nothing extraordinary now, but perhaps the first time that I was actually using an umbrella in the morning. Then the bus arrived, I got on quickly, did not find a seat and so grabbed a railing on the side of the bus as I stood and waved at V.

The bus service is no longer there, and I no longer treat the walk from our home to the old office as anything that would require me to use public transport. Life has changed in so many ways, and yet, the city still has me re-living precious old memories.

Phoenix Redux

Phoenix is the name I chose for this blog years ago. At that time, my goal was to publish a few times a week, ramblings and ideas about anything and everything. This helped me get past one of the most important phases of my life. And then, my world changed a little – I got married, moved around a fair bit, and changed jobs and careers. Social networking became the hot thing where everyone interacted with others. Original thought all but died as we started measuring our network-i-ness by the number of likes and re-shares we accumulated. Apps were, and continue to be, the only way to gather knowledge and ideas.

If you were not building your personal brand you were doing it all wrong.

I have come to believe that the world-wide-web is much more than a backend for our apps. It continues to be the one medium which is still colorful, diverse, and full of the same vigor that it had a decade ago. It also remains the best place to be whatever you want to be. The only rules are your own.

Everything has a tendency to come around full-circle.

And so, here I am again. The phoenix has arisen. I will be writing in the same tone and with the same optimism about our future as I did 10 years ago. There’s a lot more to come!

Cheers!

Happiness

What is happiness? Some would argue that having access to food, drink, companionship is what makes someone happy. Some are happy by virtue of having access to wealth which makes the aforementioned readily available. Some gain happiness from being successful in whatever endeavors they undertake, irrespective of whatever their motivation. In essence, everyone has their own basis for defining happiness. Who are we to even begin a judgment on whether they are right or not. Bottom line is being happy.

But, I think it’s a bit more than that. Happiness is also about making sure your surroundings are happy. Sure, you can isolate yourself from all that mess, but sooner or later you will see that there’s only so far you can run before the reality of living in a social, well-connected, interdependent world bites you. But, I digress. So, then what is happiness? Is it dependent on others appearing happy? Is it just wealth? Is it just success? Being content?

I don’t know. But, that admitted, I can now say that there is one underlying factor I see in all people who are happy – they live, and I mean really live life without regrets. It’s really not easier said than done. We make mistakes all the time, but only the weak let themselves fall behind and repent all their life instead of picking up and making sure the mistake(s) of their life work for them in the long term. So that’s it – live life like you have no regrets and everything that makes you happy will casually follow.

Here’s how I keep myself happy, and everyone knows I am always cheerful and optimistic –

1. Be dreamy; imagine the good that has yet to come in your life.

2. Stop worrying and just do it. If something worries me a lot, be it whether injustice towards me or someone else, I try my best to take action at the right time.

3. Never say no to yourself.

4. Do unto others the way you would have them do to you. This is not just a biblical verse. It’s one of the first step towards being human. Is your selfish behavior making life worse for someone else? You will never be happy because guilt is subliminal and goes with you.

5. Keep yourself enlightened; Never stop learning. I could learn something new everyday and still know only so much about this wonderful world.

6. Don’t let negative energies or thoughts build up. This one is really hard to adhere to, and I fail often. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to be 100% happy! And no, this doesn’t fully conflict with being optimistic. You could be largely optimistic and still have negative ideas about something in your life.

7. Don’t let others rule over your life. The only person in control of your life should be you and a very very small group of really close family members. Everyone else doesn’t matter.

8. Be loyal to people you care about.

9. Don’t lie. This is easier done than said, actually.

10. Do whatever it takes to keep the important people in your life happy. If they’re unhappy, you’ll never be happy.

11. Money is immaterial. It’s all about your mind. If you are smart, money will come, if not now, then very soon.

12. Always always think about changing the world for the better with your actions. Everyone is capable of doing so. Just smiling at that person in the train could make their day better and lead them to do something nice for someone else.

13. Be largely immune to selfish thoughts. Avoid jealousy. If you’re happy you’d be more worried about making sure that other jealous people don’t infect you with negative vibes.

14. Travel whenever you get the chance. Embrace change in surroundings.

I think this is it. This is how I stay happy and continue loving my life.

You can, too!

PS: Plato was a genius. If you’re really interested in understanding humans around you on a more philosophical level, you owe it to yourself to read the Republic. I will do so soon, too.

Posterous

I have always been one to experiment with new ideas and technologies, and I am proud to say that, albeit late, I am now going to actively use Posterous. This blog has always served to be a bigger and more thorough outlet for my thoughts. The Posterous aspect of it would serve to expose my other side – the side that takes casual pictures, does casual business through emails, and is often on the move but doesn’t want to let the thought die.

I hope you enjoy the new – posterous.cerebrawl.com!

It’s been a while…

…and how times have changed. The last time I blogged, I was on a train, commuting to DC on a daily basis for a federal project that everyone was in just to rake in utilization hours (bonuses) and bide time. I was single. I had a roommate. And, I was careless.

Now for the exciting part. I am married, drive a hybrid, don’t have roommates, and no longer commute 2.5 hours to and from the client site to work on some of the most technologically backward and ill-designed projects ever. I am now a more serious iPhone and Mac developer, thanks to the commute time saved, and have actually gained enough experience to put out apps (albeit small ones for now) on the App store.

I have gained more understanding of how small business in America works. I have seen the economy take one of the worst nosedives in my lifetime, and seen desperate efforts to bring it back on track. I have seen people responsible for the mess make it big, and I have seen people suffer. I have been humbled. I have come out stronger.

For those wondering what I am up to now, I am still the good old me, although with the wisdom of two. I am still diffident, so much so that I sometimes sell myself short, but it doesn’t matter. The people who are smart enough to realize my strengths are the ones that mean something. I am now, however, spending a lot of time pursuing my passion – learning to become a diligent software engineer, working on mobile services, next generation entertainment and communication software, and of course ECM. You can teach a violinist how to use their long fingers to type fast, but you can’t teach them how to compose poetry with their keyboards. Being able to do just that is something I am proud of. Thank you, school!

I am back, and hope to make this blog mine once again. Thanks for being a reader.

Dad’s Interview on BBC World

My dad’s very brief interview on the competency of the State owned BSNL in the face of increasing competition from newer private telecom operators was featured on BBC World’s weekly ‘India Business Report’ program.

Fast forward to the 40 second marker for the actual interview.

Of course, since it was meant to be only a segment in the 30 minute program, the entire half an hour long interview could not be included, but was used as a build-up for the story.

Next goal – Me on CNN Business!

A very disquieting scene

I consider myself to be a relatively compassionate and generous person, which is why it doesn’t take a whole lot for me to lose faith in humanity, occasionally.

Last week, on my way back from work, I witnessed two young women feeding birds right outside the homeless shelter, with the desolate watching them hopelessly, unable to digest the mockery. The pigeons were being fed fresh crackers as every other human, even the ones in their cars, just watched the girls frolic around, unaware of their surroundings. It was possibly the happiest moment in one of their lives, too, as could be concluded from her cheery laughter and exclamations.

Were they just suffering from disconnection with reality?

Randy Pausch did not die today

No, Randy Pausch did not die today. He’s still alive and breathing in the hearts and minds of millions of people all over the world who suddenly stopped and took time to reconsider the purpose of their lives, after watching his ‘Last Lecture’.

He will continue to live for a long time. Maybe even more so than the average human.

I am sure you have already watched his lecture online, and read the other hundreds of articles about him, but I just want to say what these other articles/critiques fail to mention. What Randy did was not anything complex; he did not prophesize something deeply philosophical, nor did he even remotely aim at radically changing values.

Instead, through his lecture and the subsequent book, Randy actually trivialized what most leaders teach. It isn’t about working hard or making sacrifices. It’s about just doing what you enjoy, and keeping your dreams and hopes alive during the journey. Randy taught the distraught youth that it is easy and possible to get what you want. You don’t have to do anything more than just want something, really bad. There is no point in making sacrifices.

What made the ‘Last Lecture’ a phenomenon wasn’t the depth of this person’s message, rather the simplicity of it. Here was a man who admits to failing at almost everything his first time around, but never gives up hope. Almost all of us associate ourselves with these kind of experiences in life. Failure is just fate’s way of making sure that it doesn’t favor someone who doesn’t deserve it.

I read his book before I watched the lecture of his video, and it makes me sad yet happy every time I recall the video. I am happy that I still have time to pursue my goals.

Rest in peace, Randy. You compressed more than a century’s worth of wonderful experiences and achievements into a life smaller than 50 years.

See you tomorrow.