Feb 16, 2019

To Read List

Galib penned amazingly -

हज़ारों ख़्वाहिशें ऐसी,
के हर ख़्वाहिश पे दम निकले
बहुत निकले मेरे अरमान,
लेकिन फिर भी कम निकले
There is so much to read. Folks recommend good books often. And I buy books and don't get to read them. Making a list of books to be read and a short comment them. 

Utility like - SearchOhio - doesn't leave us with an excuse not to read really. 

1)Why We Buy : David Platt recommends Why We Buy in Joy of UX. David's columns in MSDN magazine is something we shouldn't miss. It opens up lot of good technical thoughts for me.

2)The Annotated Turing : Uncle Bob recommends reading the book in his "Future of Programming" talk. If you loved "The Imitation Game" you might love The Annotated Turing. 

3)The Gene : Book about history and future of genetics. 

4)The Joy of UX : David's Platt's book on User Experience design. UX is a skill everyone in software engineering field should possess. Had a brief discussion about it with Mariah Hay at a Microsoft conference in May 2016. 

5)John Muir : Summering in the Sierra : John Muir is supposed to be grandfather of conservation movement. His thoughts on nature are inspiring. 

6)Orange is the new Black : This is a gift for my wife. But I want to read it too. 

7)Apollo 13 : I have watched the movie at least two times. 

8)The Wisdom Paradox : Explains how we become wiser with time. NN Taleb recommends the book. 

The Elephant in the Room : One Fat Man's Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America

I distinctly remember one dinner at Brixx Pizza in Birkdale Village in Huntersville, North Carolina, in spring of 2016. We were expecting and a friend had traveled from India and we had good company. Weather was not too cold, not too hot and we had worked out hard at the Y in the afternoon. We deserved oven fried Pizza and oven friend Pizza was had. Wood toasted, fresh baked Pizza is heaven and the taste still lingers on. While we were gorging the Pizza we got into discussing how many calories one might have. I had watched a feature in the news at Y and was shocked to see calories in popular restaurant foods. Entrees at the Cheese Cake Factory were the worst with 1600-1800 calories and Brixx pizzas were about 1200 calories a piece. Truth to be told, the thin crust pizza doesn't look like it's worth 1200 calories but when we requested for nutrition card from the server it was confirmed that it really had 1200 calories. In fact it was on the lower end and there were some pizzas (with meats I think) which had about 1600 calories. It was quite a realization and led us not to go ahead with the plan to order a "dessert pizza". So much for spoiling pizza.

It's easy to gain weight in US. Fast food is cheapish, calorie rich and nutrient sparse. Its amazing how eating one thin crust pizza doesn't satiate you enough and you are ready to eat in another four hours. No wonder the US Army is facing shortage of suitable candidates to recruit from. Americans are eating way too much and playing too less. This trend is spreading to India too. People are living a little longer may be, but quality of life is not what it can be.

I gathered these and many such thoughts while reading the book - "The Elephant in the Room : One Fat Man's Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America". Tommy Tomlinson writes about his upbringing as a boy from working class south, what led him to be fat and his struggles with weight. The book takes you on an emotional roller coaster with sprinkles of witty humor. It's hard to be funny with a weight problem but Tommy manages to be brilliant at it. I think Tommy has highlighted a very crucial aspect of weight which most of the people who have never been overweight don't understand. Most of the thinner folks think that it's just a matter of "eat less and move more" and ridicule fat people. If it was really that simple would billionaire like Oprah struggle with weight issues? If it was that easy would we have a billion dollar weight loss industry?

I found this book amazingly funny and witty. It has lessons on how to get over something you have been screwing with for long and why not to listen to the "USUCK : FM" station playing in our mind when we think about trying something new. Tommy loves his wife and parents and the love shows in the pages of the book. This is a book I couldn't put down and rush-read in less than a week. Loved it. 

Feb 14, 2019

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Listened to the Elon Musk biography during a 16 hour drive last week. The story was so captivating that I listened it again this week and loved it second time around too. No wonder this book has a Young reader version. Kids need role models like Musk

Joe Rogan's podcast with Elon Musk last year was sensational because of many firsts like CEO of a large company smoking pot on screen. However I liked Ashlee Vance's biography better because of the fluid writing style and personable account of Musk's life. 

I got information about the key people and technologies in Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla. Engineering descriptions in the book are so vivid that I contacted two of my engineering batch-mates who studied Mechanical engineering to ask what they are currently working on. One of them works in still works in automotive sector. I would want to learn more about it. Typical to "old days" of programming, programming was "means" to solve problems in the the specific domain for these rock-star engineers. If you are pressed for time, I would recommend reading about SpaceX's rocket launches and way Tesla handles braking systems. 

Elon Musk has already made a positive impact on our society and culture and will contribute more in the days to come. And I will want to invest in SpaceX IPO. When?

Jan 23, 2019

Dixit Diet

I have been on the Dixit diet for the last one and half a months. Here are some observations from it. Like I did with the previous post, I would want to track it over a long period of time, probably five or ten years period. 

1)The plan works for me. I lost 10 pounds in a month on the diet. Pants which did not seem to fit properly when I started fit perfectly now. When I started to get in shape in 2015, I lost quite a bit of weight but then I looked too thin. This time less people could notice the change. I think that's because the fat loss was from stomach and thighs.

2)I skip breakfast. Eat two large meals. Lunch and dinner. Try to eat between a 12 hour feeding window. The feeding window starts even with a no calorie black tea or black coffee. That's because anything except water starts the body's clocks. Gradually switched to black tea from black coffee. Although I love coffee, its too strong for me. 

3)I track my meals in MyFitnessPal. I eat one salad of green leafy vegetables every day. Eat about 2000 calories per day. 

4)I eat when I am really hungry. For lunch it takes about 16 hours after dinner the previous day. If I am not hungry even after 16 hours gap, I wait till I am really hungry. I am usually hungry for dinner because I work out in the evening. Anyone who works out knows how hungry we are after a decent run. 

5)The first week on the diet is difficult. I distracted the hunger pangs by taking small walk breaks, climbing stairs or talking to a co-worker. Going on the plan must be hard for people who have lots of weight to lose. I think I had it little easier because I have 20 pounds to lose. But when I remember how I worked when I had to lose about 60 pounds, Dr. Dixit's plan looks much easier. 

6)Benefits in addition to weight loss - 

a)Better sleep, not too less/too much. This might be due to switching to tea from coffee. 
b)Although I workout everyday, duration/intensity is lesser than my previous workouts. I follow the recommended 30 minutes a day prescription and don't workout more even if I have the time to do so. This is because workouts to maintain weight is not sustainable. Workouts are for a healthy body and mind. 

c)Remember Siddhartha - "I can think, wait and fast". We seem to lose our minds when we miss one meal. This is absurd because we have a paunch just to feed us when there is no food around. The ability to be hungry and function well seems like a superpower. This superpower allows me to skip eating candy,come home, fix a nice whole some meal and enjoy it. This is surreal. 

7)Looking forward to follow the plan for a long period of time and keep fit. It worked wonders for me. I am thankful to Dr. Dixit. I will update this post every three months. 

Jan 18, 2019

Five Years of Aam Admi Party and Kejriwals Election as a CM

I had setup a call with my friend Vivek five years back to discuss what difference Kejriwal made in politics. Five years is a good enough time to gauge progress and frees us from daily news update bias. It stands test of time especially when there was a government change at center. I supported AAP with a donation once but did not continue but overall I think that AAP emergence is a net positive thing. Noting down some reasons for the same.

1)Made government more accessible to people. AAPs use of social media - Facebook and Twitter was a trendsetter. It was later used by BJP and now by all parties. Anything that gives more information is good. Although at times it looks messy and chaotic. Trump wins in this manner because he is constantly in touch with reporters and takes difficult questions. Modi doesn't.

2)People have an alternative. BJP is a bully and Congress was once a bully. There was no outlet for urban middle class. AAP provided that outlet.

3)AAP has done great work with education and health care. If they are able to add infrastructure to the mix there is nothing more government neees to dirty hands in. Would be formidable.

4)Their model is small screw ups so that there is no big blow at the end. It's more like a small community where there are daily fights but they have to be resolved quickly and everyone has to get back to business. Its like the Swiss model of Governance. When I remember what I saw in Hiware Baazar and Ralegan Sindhi local libertarian politics was at play.

5)Kejriwal may look overzealous at times. Most of AAP leaders are. But that's a symbol of entrepreneur. Look at Parrikar. Or any leader in Silicon valley. Virat Kohli. Times are changing so is the leadership swag. Gone are the days of constipated speeches.

Will be interesting to see how politics shapes next five years. Vivek let's talk on this again in winter of 2024.