Sunday, May 31, 2009

Types of Successes

While I was introspecting and contemplating meaninglessly, as I often do, I realized...
As I see, from my own meandering experiences that there are two types of people categorized based on how they see and measure their personal successes.

0. People whose success is relative
They measure their success ONLY relative to someone else's. Their success is enjoying/earning/having relatively superior things/opportunities/luck when compared to someone else. In simpler terms, they feel successful if someone else is unsuccessful. If they cannot succeed, more often than not, they want their peers (with whom they compare their success for relativity) to fail. They just want to be relatively successful, and, as with everything else in life, they take the path of least resistance: Think bad for someone. They want someone to plummet in the deepest trenches of hopelessness, so that they feel successful in spite of being not-so-successful. They are successful only when someone else isn't. Their happiness (which is directly linked to success) is pivoted on someone else being unhappy. It is sad to see that the world is infested with this type.

Though exotic, rare and hard to find, there is second category:

1. People whose success is absolute
They DO NOT compare their successes to anything or anybody else's. They use someone's success as a metric, as a comparison point, and then aim to go beyond that. And the only way they want to go beyond that is by elevating themselves to that level, and not by degrading the comparison point. In my view, these people are the true champions in life.

Cannot resist quoting beautiful lines from the 'Sunscreen' song:

Don't waste your time on jealousy;
Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are behind...
The race is long, and in the end its only with yourself.

The sooner you realize this, the more time you shall have to enjoy TRUE success.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Serene Lake

Lake I shot one evening... click the photo to see bigger version.
The Lake From Photography

Photo Credits: Atul Talesara
Location on GMap
Camera : Canon EOS 30D

Lens : Tamron 18-200mm
ISO : 1000
Exposure : 1.3s
Focal Length : 31mm

Perfect Definition of An IT Professional

Long back, a person who sacrificed his sleep, forgot his family, forgot his food, forgot laughter were called "Saints". But now they are called..."IT professionals"!

via: Laugh It Out.

Friday, May 22, 2009

CMU Graduation Ceremony 2009, CMU's 112th Commencement

With my prized possession From Graduation 2009
I was eagerly looking up for this event. The journey to school was tiring: taking red-eye out of SeaTac, hitting Pitt grounds, crashing at a room of friend's, chilly weather, bad bad food (I cannot survive on pizzas, burgers and salads), but all this was manageable compared to what came next. The return journey! I had booked 5.30am early morning flight out of Pitt on Monday morning. Me and Vish took the last bus out of CMU to airport at 11 the previous night. We figured it is better to spend (sleepless) night on ice-cold insanely uncomfortable chairs at airport than over sleeping through flight departure! Soon after boarding the doors were shut, and blurted out the Captain: I have hit a dead battery! God, what is this guy flying, a 40's WW-II plane or something??? But what shook me out of my sleep was his claim that this one-of-its-kind-of-battery is not available anywhere in US but Atlanta (Delta's hub)! And so, the captain added, "we'll have to wait for 3+ hrs at airport", begging to be flown to our final destinations ASAP and our connections taken care of while they fly in the battery from Atlanta to Pitt! (WTF!)

After standing in queue for 2+ hrs, I got alternate arrangements made for Atlanta-SeaTac flight, the Pitt-Atlanta will remain as is: delayed. It meant spending inhuman number of hours incredibly bored at Atlanta airport. Whole of Monday looks wasted. I hate these airliners, never ever in 2 yrs of my travel have I got all flights on-time, international or domestic. This is yet another !@#HOW to cheat! What? You really think there was a technical glitch in the plane! The battery sh!t that captain gave was real! Oh, come on, you naive!
Ceremonial Robe From Graduation 2009
The fun part, the ceremony itself: The grandeur of the event was breathtaking, and I pondered: "Why don't we have anything like this in India?". The answer is simple: We are far too moderate. But come to think of it, the Americans are not stupid, there is a reason for this ceremony. Making the graduates feel good is, but, just one (and I dare say: lesser important) of the factors! Yes, as everything else in the West, it is about business, aka money money and ONLY more money (more about it below)!

But... that aside, I did enjoy the ceremony. I delayed the post in (useless) hopes that I'll get enough pictures from buddies to share. A framed photo promised by department will take time to come, and the hired pro-photographer to cover the event who claimed to email samples in 24 hours seems to be gone without a trace. So, here I'm, sharing one of the happiest moments of my life with very few photos for now.
Me and My Degree From Graduation 2009

If you have seen or attended any one of graduation ceremonies, you will instantly connect to the above claim about money. Starting with building stages, tents, sound systems, flags, graduation robes, food, certificates, photographers, media coverage, hospitality for chief guests flown in from miles afar, sending out invitations, etc. etc. I bet I missed a zillion other things, but the point is that doing all of these requires: man power and money! Then comes the role played by students: 99% of them will be flying from somewhere else to attend the ceremony, a lot of them will bring in the families (and to-bes), friends, colleagues, their accommodation (hotel), food (restaurant), travel (car-rentals, bus), touring around the places, shopping (clothes, chocolates, boozes), and what not!!! So you see, it IS about money! It is a big industry in itself. Look out for one of my upcoming (and probably unrelated) post: I Hate Wall Street!

With fellow raccoons From Graduation 2009
President Jared L. Cohon addressed(video) the audience. Eric Schmidt was the chief guest at the ceremony, and his keynote speech(video), though good, was nothing too inspiring or out-of-the-box. I wasn't too impressed. But his note about everything related to computers and mobile phones to have come from Carnegie Mellon, was very inspiring, though! The whole procession and ceremonial air was exciting me despite the chilling winds torturing most of us through our non-woolens. The following departmental function was when we were conferred with our much coveted diplomas! It was chaired by HOD(link) and few other important current/past professors. Few made speeches, but the one made by '(I'll have to look up the name :-S)' (who divulged a bit into an interesting book he recently read, Augustine's Law) about lawyers. I can't recall the exact sentence, but he said something to the effect that 'Lawyers are a hindrance to the progress of mankind' and with my (albeit limited) reading of lawsuits made perfect sense!

Last but not the least, I would like to thank my family, immediate and extended (aka friends) for supporting, encouraging and helping me through my days at CMU (including, but not limited to pre and post CMU life). No matter what I do, I cannot ever repay back in full for what my family has done for me, and this degree, though technically earned by me, is, in fact, practically conferred to my parents. Kudos and heartiest Congratulations to them! ~~applause~~ I see myself just as an instrument fulfilling what they dreamed of. This is, but, just a humble gift to my family.

  1. President Jared L. Cohon's speech
  2. Eric Schmidt's Keynote Speech
  3. Graduation 2009
P.S. ECE Raccoons, CMU Grads, their families and friends, if you have photos or videos worth sharing, do email them to me (resolution please).

Friday, May 08, 2009

System Programmers Too Can Cook!

And darn pretty well! Yes, and not just regular ready-to-cook meals, but fancy entrées, yummy side dishes and finger-licking desserts!

Lemon Spoon Cheese Cake From Iron Chef Competition

That is exactly what the "The Iron Chef Competition" was all about. Slated as a morale boosting event, the idea was to drive to culinary school, split the team into 3-4 smaller groups, cook some food and then let it be judged while we enjoyed the purportedly tasty food we just cooked!

My whole understanding (as a skeptic) was : "Cook the food, let it be judged, and then what we will end up eating is something ordered on the restaurant menu. And all that we just cooked will find it's way in trash can (at the least, in the can marked 'compost'!)". And so I had planned to skip it and read some code instead. Well, tell you what, I was W R O N G!

When people were moving out for the event, senior teammates were checking every room to see who's holed up in there still assaulting their keyboards with terminals hooked on to some remote debugging sessions. I was one of them. On their insistence, I thought, let me go along, at least I'll meet other people. On the venue, after the rules were explained, each of the four teams were assigned a chef. But still organizers maintained that we will eat ONLY what we cook. I thought to myself: "Baahh... they are just saying that so that we take this cooking seriously and cut ourselves outta work". Soon the cooking started, few minutes into it and I realized two things:
  1. These chefs are real good! Even when I didn't understand more than 91% of the items and items they talked about! But they were very well adept at instructing how-to-cook. (They must be, I learned later they, run that place as a school to teach culinary skills!)
  2. We are indeed going to eat what we cook, and the food is NOT going to be as bad as I imagined!
Being a veggie, I ended up making Lemon Spoon Cheese Cake and chopping lots of veggies for and helping make veggie Spaghetti. Psst... I will post the details if I can successfully re-make the cake by myself!

Rajeev, switching roles From Iron Chef Competition

When the time for lunch came, about 2.5 hrs after we started cooking, it dawned upon me that everything that was cooked here today, is palatable! And the fact that some of these items we are going to devour are prepared by us, only improved the taste and doubled the pleasure! The only guilt, though, is that I ate too much of cheese cake consuming tooooooo much calories while I'm a little out of touch(wft?) with gym or any kind of rigorous physical activities (aka soccer. But after more than a year's break, I did play a little bit of volleyball this Sunday).

All in all, it was much much much more fun cooking with my directors, leads, boss mentors and peers than sitting in dark rooms with something flickering on the gigantic white screens! Or even heading off to go-carting, etc.

Me chopping & JR instructing somebody From Iron Chef Competition

I thoroughly enjoyed the event, and so did everybody else, because everybody got a piece to do in making the luncheon! And there was at least one person who liked something or the other that was cooked. I'm happy my seniors holed me out of my room to join this event.

Me, Surendra(director) & Stone(mentor) From Iron Chef Competition

This much I have decided, someday, when I have enough time out of my work and other hobbies, I will definitely take up a small course to learn some culinary skills! Maybe, then, I will top it off with another hobby: Spoil my, friends' and neighbors' kids/grandkids by feeding them some outlandish dishes!" ha ha!

Have a look at the whole album and more beautifully made dishes:

Venue: Blue Ribbon Cooking and Culinary Center
Photo Credits: Ravikumar(Sony DSC-W120), Katie (Nikon D300)