Cold showers and discipline

After minutes, hours, days and years of aimlessly slouching around the couch aimlessly, I am hoping my next initiative will cast a dent to the trend –

  1. Cold water showers for the next 50 days
    I read (actually it was a Youtube video) cold showers provide lot of benefits like improved blood circulation, eliminate depression, kick away ‘slouching around’ encouraging body chemistry etc.
    Taking a cold shower every morning will serve as a reminder to start moving out of the comfort zone. It should also help alter my thought process of aiming for rapid results with restless actions.
  2. 100 push ups everyday for the next 50 days
    Well maybe this is not going to do me as much good as the first one does, but hopefully it is a very easy goal to discipline myself to regularly do one thing without fail

No more movies based on games. Please!

Hitman was one of my favorite games. Gracefully suited, with dark past, with absolutely no dialogue, no obvious display of emotions, stone cold face and body language, the signature walk where he leans towards the left side…. the memories are many of this awesome PC game I spent my college time with.

 

There have been 2 movies made on this game. Lets talk about each one, one at a BLOODY time.

Hitman (2007):

Signature walk – Yes

Dark and silent action sequences – No

Some generic action – Yes

Every thing else – Piece of S***

Olga Kurylenko – 10/10

This version of the movie was still excusable. If not for Hitman, the movie was decent enough (5/10) that it did not annoy the audience.

Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)

Entertainment quotient – 0/10

Female lead – 2/10

Storyline – Stupid as S***

Movie experience – More S***

Most of all, as a fan of Hitman, this movie (or attempt at a movie) was more of an annoyance/ insult to hitman. I stuck till the end hoping to see some hitman.

I don’t think anyone should ever try to make movies on games. Warcraft was another attempt which I did not watch and I am sure it would’ve been a bitter disappointment to those who watched it.

For you non-gamers, here is one of the persona’s of the actual Hitman –

 

 

A pleasant realization

I was fascinated with the concept of sunk cost and why it should never take weightage in in your decision making. To explain in simple terms, if you are on a path A and realized that path B may be relatively more profitable, you decide to invest a significant amount of money to validate your assumption/ gut feeling. If it turns out that path B is infact a bad choice, you must stick with path A. But as part human psychology, since you have made significant investment on path B, your mind might not let go of path B that easily and may even factor in the former investment in the ROI analysis when deciding between path A and path B. The investment made to validate the assumption is a sunk cost and must not play any part in choosing between A and B. Coming back to the current day (and sitting in my couch to be exact), I drove 4 miles to a nearby hiking trail with a determination to complete the trail which I have often withdrawn midway. Just 2 minutes into the trail and I decided to drive back home because of my fear that the cold winds might exacerbate my neck ache. My effort and investment to get up and drive 8 miles (both ways) to the trail did not deter my decision to give it all up and go back home. Why? Because my mind has grown smarter to see it as what it is – a Sunk Cost!

 

 

 

My first Apple purchase

Skeptical of apple’s overpricing strategy,  I have always found myself leaning towards windows or android substitute when it comes to mobiles or laptops. I do have a iPad air but that is an exception as I got it as a gift. But battling with windows laptops for years (hp/ dell/ Sony) of different makes, I decided to give MacBook a try and thanks to my fortune (yes, it literally cost me a fortune), it turned out to be a good buy. The build quality of MacBook Pro 2016 is so amazing it feels like all you have is a screen, keyboard and a speaker and they work magically without any support. I say this because it is quieter  than my cell phone, sleeker than #fillwiththecurrentsupermodelofyourchoice and simpler than my dads wardrobe and best of all it just does it job without reminding you that it is a piece of machine with so many moving parts inside it constantly feeding on electricity and burning your thighs with heat.
If I ever manage to use it for productivity purposes (or should I say if it makes me more productive), I would say it is a worthy investment but then again going by my historical track of planning and expectations, it is a worthy investment at this moment in time.
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Yeah, I do a lot of thinking in shower (Not really!)

I often find myself having random thoughts, spiritual thoughts, story recitals, singing practice sessions or literally a state of idle mind whenever I shower. And sometimes, I am really idle and just act like a stone blocking the water from directly hitting the ground. From the various bloggers/ youtube videos/ discussions with friends (yes, I got a lot of free time these days), I came to a consensus (like everyone) that “Yes, mankind does indulge in deep thoughts in their showers”. But as my latest revelation (that’s the bright light shining down up on my idle, lazy self) exposed, it is (one of) my brain’s cruel and cunning strategy to protect its biggest weapon against me – “Promoting procrastination while fooling my productive self believe I am ideating or growing wiser”.

Except for a minority of instances, the reason I (or everyone) have unnecessarily long showers (even when getting late for work or even when the subconscious is screaming to stop wasting water) is because I may be potentially –

  1. stalling myself from doing something uncomfortable/ don’t want to do or
  2. avoiding talking to family about family stuff or
  3. trying to avoid the reality by closeting my mind

Reason#3 actually sums up the point I am trying to make. You can’t sit on a couch watching some random vine videos for too long before your restlessness grows to a point that you realize you are too lazy/ chicken to do/ act on whatever your subconscious mind is worried about. When in a shower though, your brain cleverly disguises your procrastination by convincing itself (or yourself?) that you are actually  using your brain for something important and that your average progress is higher than the average of all homo sapiens progress..

If my brain (or the Tyler Durden version in me) reads this blog and even notices that I authored this, it/ he (or she?) will probably laugh with a confident assurance that the will to procrastinate (what?) is much more powerful than the will to be productive. Wondering, what the last sentence meant? It just means that…….

When Trump won the election..

…. I started seeing him in a different light admitting that I (along with several others) may have misjudged him. I maybe wrong now about misjudging him, but I realized few things while listening to his victory speech.

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Note – I am an average person having only occasionally/ rarely followed the campaign and provided below are just my personal observations.

  1. I thought I was smart and saw that Trump was a foolish guy rushing through without a plan:
    It turns out I was wrong (or we both are). He played the media well, permeated his message and vision to all his supporters with bold statements positioning himself as the only chance of hope and change that America has. His supporters deeply believed that anyone but him as the next president could take the country backwards and ruin any scope of change for them.
  2. I have been taking his words too literally:
    When a news reporter asked an aged lady why she supports him despite his disrespectful attitude against women, she says it did not bother her because “Trump was just making conversation and did not mean any disrespect to women in general”.
    Although his words sound insane (building a wall, dismissing global warming, stopping Muslims etc.), his supporters did not take his words literally (and were mature enough?) just interpreting them as a sign of potential bold change for the benefit of the country.
  3. He established a vision:
    One of the commentator mentions his experience in an airport where Trump volunteers were distributing /selling his t-shirts with slogan “Make America Great Again”. Where as, Hilary’s campaign t-shirts said “Hilary Clinton -2016”.
    Now if you were in that airport,  to whom will you vote if weren’t already exposed to all the campaign speeches/ advertisements? I am sure a large chunk of voter base never got to hear either of the contenders speeches nor got an opportunity to discuss about them. But I am sure that the simple message “Make america great again” would’ve definitely hit their ears at some point.
  4. He focused on his course rather than promoting his competitor/ opposition: 
    Hilary was too focused on finding Trump’s flaws, exposing them and turning voters away from him and towards her. There was nothing an average voter could remember her for or found appealing in her in terms of any value proposition. All the hate talk was just free marketing for Trump. In the end, her vision statement went something like this “……………………………..” (nothing that I can remember)
  5. He is real and normal”
    Trump appreciated the support of his family, campaign members, supporters, security members, veterans,……the list goes on. He started his victory speech by congratulating Hilary on a well fought battle. Of all his speeches, I am sure this was the most surprising one where elements like ‘humility’, ‘respect’, ‘appreciation’ were first shown by him.
    Comparing this victory speech to his earlier controversial statements makes me wonder if he smartly and consciously stirred up conspiracy in order to push his vision down the voter’s throat. Seeing his careless attitude transforming into a humble one surprised me. Maybe he is indeed smart and played everyone well to win the election.

I am sure there are lot of decisions to be made and work to be done and my points above (I acknowledge) are just observations made from the surface of the events with no real research.
Never the less, his humble speech should’ve turned the night a little less bitter to his non-supporters after losing the battle. Good night America and let us hope for the best.

Connected to animation

Ghost in the shell was the first anime that I got to watch when my dad finally agreed to get cable connection which offered hundreds of tv channels.

I was innately fond of cartoons when I was a kid (jimmy neutron, courage the cowardly dog, samurai jack, blue….) but few of the animated series (manga mostly) struck me with awe and appreciation of the directors work. I am going to list the best animated series that I have come across recently (in the past 5 years) and which I couldn’t stop appreciating because of their brilliant story line and execution:

  1. Monster – I’d say the best villain ever portrayed was Johan. The dark storytelling with infused fairy tales that give you shudders. It is 74 episode long and I may not watch it ever again, but I am glad I came to know about it and experienced it.
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  2. Bojack Horseman – Easy going, fast paced and yet deeply touching. Maybe I like this because of my connection to the existential nihilism brightly portrayed by most of the characters. Oh, and its humorous and entertaining as hell. Todd and Bojack are my favorites.
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  3. Shiki – A undead community-coexisting-with-humans tale that is so dark, gruesome, suspenseful and entertaining all at the same time. You get so involved in the story line that you find yourself in the shoes of the characters thinking over their decisions and running through their situation and thoughts.
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  4. Death note – the masterpiece of all where you are forced to accept the silliest of concepts like “god of death(s)”, “book of death”, “gods playing scrabble”……. etc and take them seriously. The brilliance of animation and sound composition makes this nothing short of any Hollywood blockbuster.
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Bojack horseman was my recent find. I am hoping to stumble upon another animated series that is worthy of joining this list.

Freedom is a state of mind – Momentary and recurring

There is always one special thing/ activity for every person which they engage in times of stress or maybe just to be with themselves in solitude and organize their thoughts.

It was (and still is) running for me. I run approximately 4 miles at a time and it feels absolutely refreshing. Not just after the run but even while running with no music, feeling your heartbeat, working your breathing pattern (inhale for 2 steps and exhale for 2 steps) and if lucky, feeling the runners high.

Most important than the physical workout and stress relief, in your cool off period (when you just walk for a brief period after a lengthy run), you are at peace with your thoughts and get a chance to look at your life as a third person without bogged down  by emotions or stress. Personally, this is when I kill my anxiety (forward looking thoughts) the best. Additionally and occasionally, I get all these revelations ranging from “Life is not a race, so ….” through “I need to improve on building professional relationships so that .. “. Occasionally.

 

sprintingvs-joggingWhen I have a good run (they all are), I promise myself to run everyday so turns into a checkpoint for my thoughts to see where I am and how far I have managed to stay on track. Because honestly, I had days when I literally was too lazy to just take some decisions (family/ professional/ major/ minor/ amazon orders/ to order medium or small pizza) because my eyes and ears were glued to tv/ laptop/ ipad/ mobile watching irrelevant videos. Running in the open (yes, NO gym) is freedom to your senses freeing you from the enslavement of lazy distractions.

Not sure if you felt any of the above, but I am sure you have your own version of benefits that you reap from your special activity. So keep doing (running) whatever it is that helps keep you on your master track, keeps you happy and most importantly, enables you to pause and feel your mind and heart doing their best.

Working hard or just going through the motions?

Stumbled up on my blog when my good old friends visited me and when we were reconnecting with old stories. I had to show them a post about a (hopeless and hilarious) room mate with whom I had to live with for a couple of weeks. While the conversations (quickly) wandered to other topics, I was stuck to my laptop scrolling through my old(2013) blog posts. Honestly, I was a little dumbstruck to realize that these days, I rarely think. That’s right, I don’t THINK anymore. Here I am, working with (one of the) world leading manufacturer as a domain expert, holding accountability on several aspects to powerful executives and yet somehow managed to gain their trust and support thus ensuring that I make my life and job easy. Not to brag, but maybe I am efficient and deserve an applause for handling the job well. Or maybe, I am settling (as an underachiever) for a no-longer challenging role which I can easily breeze through with little application of the grey matter. When monotony kicks in (at any level of intellectual stimulation), you no longer learn and you no longer grow. The subconscious ambitious YOU becomes more restless.

Maybe this revelation hits everyone (or maybe only to some Virgos whom I read easily become discontent with their life due to their heightened realization of the imperfections of human life) at some point almost day (at varying levels?). How do they make changes in their life and ambition? Step by step? Aggressively? Or just passively sitting still waiting for things to happen?. I for one have my next 6 months laid out with clear objectives which should help bring back the dynamism and excitement that I always seek and have gradually lost.

Regardless of the success of my plans, I am glad I got to read my old thoughts and remembered the times I used to have a perspective (about something!). I will make a conscious effort to keep visiting this page and write regularly  – for my intent to blog is to improve clarity of thought and to improve written communication.

Every time I am in a movie…

it is only when I sit for a stupid movie in the theater that I suddenly realize my long forgotten destiny – “To rid this world of mediocrity- one bit at a time.” The unit of measure here is a person. 

My current feeling is that anything and everything in this world will seem less mediocre than what I am going to experience in the next 2 hours. But, this also makes me realize the bitter reality of the problem of sub optimization (def: individuals do their part with the best of their abilities with no view on the integrated outcome). Often (or I’d rather say, for sure), this problem can be avoided with a smart guy who can sit on top and integrated things well. And what is needed for the person who puts high quality chunks into a flawless product? Is it management skills? people skills? intellectual ability to see a holistic picture? or the ability to understand the vision from multiple perspectives (the viewer/ customer in particular here). But the most important piece here is an element of the people skills – requiring huge effort and expectation communications/ corrections with all the stakeholders before the individual pieces were even built. The integrator faces this challenge of envisioning the end product and aligning the individuals vision to the same. I guess this applies equally well to IT projects as well (Seasoned experts and managers often failing to churn out a good outcome)

Coming back to the movie, here is what I could correlate the characters to. The director is the guy who is responsible for a unified good product leveraging all the skill sets available. Producer- the overburdened guy having too little time to focus on this movie because of his worries on ROI and also because of setting foot in multiple projects at once. Hence, I would say less of a direct contributor.

The  characters whom everyone could relate to their life story is the guy playing the side character- Middle class, talent less, devoid of ambition and conviction. But despite these individual’s utter lack of focus of their life’s journey/ direction, they tend to deliver great success and productivity. Amazing isn’t it. But, here is the catch. This success and productivity is not to their benefit or growth, but it is for the integrator who needs and uses these whole bunch of side characters to do their lesser-valuable chores aiding in achieving their end-vision. Such is their valuable contribution to the society. It is a win-win situation actually. The side characters win because they are satisfied with whatever carrots that they earn for their work. The integrator wins as he or she gets to utilize them for what they are worth for- an operational cause at best.

Wow! Is this is too much analysis for a movie? Did I ever introspect my role in life?  Well….. let me enjoy this movie first. Well it did not turn to be that bad of a movie either. Nice comedy, beautifully portrayed actresses (not one but two, Yay). Good laughs and time pass. Well the movie will be done by 1 AM as its a late night show. Guess I just have to go home and crash to get up early enough to finish my pending office work… before tomorrow’s work hours begin….