Oct 16, 2016

Notes From Mr. Money Mustache

Mr. Money Mustache is one of the very few blogs that I subscribe to. This blog has had a huge impact on my financial wisdom and habits. Financial freedom, which is the theme of the blog is a pursuit worthy of working dedicatedly toward. I dream of the day when I no longer have to work for money and only work if I have to. Money Mustache tells you how to achieve this seemingly impossible pipe dream, with a barrage of thought-provoking posts, each post augmented by comments by a lot of smart people bringing in varied perspectives.

Of late, I realized that I've been consuming the blog only passively, without really internalizing what Mr. Mustache advises that we do, and without really understanding the math behind the numbers he comes up with. So I've decided to restart working my way through the blog's articles from the very beginning and make detailed notes and mathematical formulas as I go along, so that I can start running calculations similar to what Mr. Mustache does, only difference being that the variables are suited to my own life. We start at the very first post, here.

- Savings: The amount of money you save on your take-home pay. Deductions such as your investments in ESPP, retirement account contributions and any other investments can be added to your take-home pay.

Apr 8, 2011
- Save at least 50% of your take-home pay every month.
- Your car shouldn't cost you more than 10% of your annual gross income, and only if you can pay in cash without having to finance the purchase.

Apr 10, 2011
This post talks about what to do with the money that has been sitting idle in your zero-interest checking/savings account.
- After paying off debts, start with conservative investments such as buying units of the Vanguard VFINX mutual funds or SPY shares if you have a brokerage account.
- 7% is a fair and conservative rate of return to target, after adjusting for inflation. So if you can live on $49,000 a year contingent upon the fact that you own a house that has been paid off, you need to have $700,000 invested in a financial product that kicks back 7% every year.

Apr 13, 2011
You can retire when you achieve the below two goals:
- You adapt to a lifestyle that prepares you to live on 25% of your income, while you sock away the remaining 75% toward investments.
- Your investments and savings generate the above stated 25% for you forever.

Apr 15, 2011
- $29,000 invested over a period of 10 years with interest compounding at 7%, would yield you $57,000. How do we determine this? Here's the formula.
[Principal Amount] * [1 + (Interest)/100] ^ [Number of Years.]
For instance, 29,000 * (1 + 7/100) ^ 10 = 29,000 * (1.07) ^ 10 = 29,000 * 1.967 = $57000.
- To get a weekly expense compounded over 10 years at 7%, multiply by 752.
- To get a monthly expense compounded over 10 years at 7%, multiply by 173.
- An array of tools for various kinds of calculations: Calculator Soup.

Apr 17, 2011
- Aim to spend 25% of what the average indulgent person spends in product categories. If your regular guy spends $600/year on clothes at branded outlets, you'd do better by spending $150/year by shopping at Target.

Mar 16, 2016

A Saunter Through Death Valley

This President's day on February 15, 2016, we hit the road and headed south-east to the lowest, driest and hottest place in North America with a dark name - Death Valley National Park in the state of Nevada.

This national park is unlike anything I've seen before. A vast remote landscape with many different terrains thrown together, all close to each other. After a hike through the red rock canyon, if you feel like rolling in the sand, you are only minutes away from the towering sand dunes. As you climb up and down the dunes and then feel like getting into a crater, a 40 minute drive will land you at the mouth of a reasonably big volcanic crater. The terrain choices at your disposal are varied - Snow peaked mountains, a perennial waterfall, sand dunes, volcanic crater, large areas of salt flats and canyons all within small distances made our visit to this park quite interesting.

The drive from San Francisco Bay Area to Death Valley isn't a short one. We broke up our 8 hour onward journey into two halves with a night's stop at Bakersfield. This gave us a much needed night's rest and recharge for the second leg of our journey the next morning. It was close to noon when we made it to the valley.

Winter is probably one of the best times to visit a baking desert like Death Valley. This place is considered one of the hottest on the planet and temperatures soar up to 50C/120F during summer times, rendering a visit here during summer an exercise in fighting the sun, dehydration and shelter-seeking. During our own visit during the February winter, we found the land pretty warm. I personally would certainly not want to experience the wrath of mother nature during summer here.

Here's a brief trip report of our Death Valley itinerary.

Day 1
As we entered the park, we hit a hiking trail right away. This trail is called the Mosaic Canyon trail, a narrow pathway winding through smooth mosaic canyon walls. The drive on the unpaved dirt road to this trailhead is quite a hassle for people with humble cars like Toyota Corolla, such as me. We hiked the trail for a while, watched the sunset and then got back before it was too dark.

At the Mosaic Canyon Narrows.
We then drove back and checked into the Stovepipe Wells motel. This is one of the more affordable motels that is right within the national park. It is really commendable that such an equipped accommodation has been established in the middle of a barren, dry, middle-of-nowhere desert. We settled into our new home for the next 2 days, freshened up and eagerly awaited the National park Service's night sky program.

Death Valley is renowned for its night sky. Being way out and away from any urban settlement and its associated light pollution, Death Valley ranks high in the list of places with the darkest night skies. With this knowledge, we were very hopeful about getting to witness the Universe put up a grand spectacle up in the heavens. Mother Nature, however, works on her own terms and had no interest in entertaining us. The skies were partly cloudy, marring the view. It still was reasonably scenic, compared to the few handful stars that we get to see in the skies above our apartments, with the street lights glaring down angrily at us.

At the scheduled time, me and my wife, and a bunch of other visitors gathered at the Mesquite Sand Dunes parking lot. A vast terrain of sand dunes lay ahead of us. The park ranger, a lady named Diane, came along and took us out into the sand dunes. After walking a bit into the dunes and away from the park roads, we all settled down on the sand, gearing up for a night of Astronomical education. The skies had cleared up reasonably, much to our delight, putting up a magnificent display of stars, planets and constellations. Unfortunately, the gaseous band of Milky Way was nowhere to be seen.

Akshata at the Mesquite Sand Dunes.
The ranger talk, while informative to an extent, was a slight let-down for me. I was expecting a technical talk, with topics revolving around Astronomy. The talk however centered around folk stories and legends on how the stars and planets came to be, the mythological background on the names of constellations. Despite that, I did learn some interesting, although trivial, facts such as how to locate the North star, the brightest star in the sky, the red-giant that is set to explode into a supernova - Betelgeuse. The experience on a whole was definitely memorable - being out in the desert under a sky full of stars, far away from the sounds, smell and lights of our city life.

Day 2
On our second day, we visited the park Visitor Center, watched a movie on the natural history of the park and took off to drive down to Badwater Basin. This is an immense expanse of salt flats, known to be 282 feet below sea level, making this the lowest point in North America. We walked down the salt flats, leaving the crowds behind as we went out on the flats for about a mile. On the soaring cliffs behind you, there is a marker for where the sea level is, giving you a perspective on how far below sea level you are.

Akshata at Badwater Basin.
The fact that made our visit to the Badwater Basin unforgettable was that it was Valentine's day - Not many couples will have the bragging rights to claim that they spent their Valentine's day at the lowest point below sea level within an entire continent. :)

At the Badwater Basin.
On our way back, we stopped at other points of interest, Artist's Palette being the main attraction. This is a collection of hills with colors so varied, that the name is very apt. We paid our dues here with a small hike through these hills. This was followed by another hike through the Golden Canyon trail. My wife had had her share of physical activities for the day and chose to sit back and relax in the car, while I went into the Canyon trail alone. The sun had just about set and twilight was dawning upon us. The trail was surprisingly deserted, with hardly any human form to be seen. I hiked blissfully in the Canyon for a couple miles, the trail all to myself. I could have gone on further but with daylight rapidly fading and dusk growing upon me, along with the desolate Canyon's deafening silence with only the haunting sounds of howling wind, a growing sensation of isolation and insecurity made my steps less sure-footed. I continued on for a little longer and then turned back as the fear of the dark Canyon walls drawing closer and closer upon me could no longer be contained. As I got back to my car, my wife waiting for me inside the car told me that she had begun to contemplate calling for help since there were no signs of my returning.

Wildflower Blooms in the Valley.
The varied colors of the Artist's Palette.

Day 3 - Journey Into and Back From Hell
We checked out of our motel and drove to Ubehebe crater - A huge volcanic crater caused by the explosive venting of underground steam. I had only intended to take a little hike around the rim of the crater. As I got to the mouth of the crater, I saw a small group of people all the way down in the crater. The trigger-happy reckless adventurer within me was instantly woken up and I decided on going down into the crater much against my wife's wishes. We started climbing down. My wife came down a few steps and then stopped, rested for a while and then walked back up. I continued further down. The path down was laden with little gravel stones giving me a good foothold such that I essentially ran down into the base of the crater. My descent was all fun and games, with my old faithful friend, Mr. Gravity, very much by my side.

At the rim of the Ubehebe crater.
Once down, I fooled around in the base of the crater, very proud and smug about how easily I hiked down a volcano crater while most other touristy types just play it safe staying put at view points, take pictures and leave. I waved at my wife who was high above at the crater's rim. She waved back. Reveling in my sense of accomplishment, I started my journey back up the crater. The world seemed alright for a while as I walked up. The steps that seemed easy and light at the beginning of my ascent back very quickly turned heavy. Breathing gradually turned into a struggle. It was time for a rest-stop. I sat down on the sloping walls of the crater, rested a bit and then resumed my climb back up. Five steps later, I found myself sitting down again. Things were beginning to go south. I rested another few minutes, pulled myself back up and took another few steps. My thighs burned like crazy and the breathing had turned into wheezing. I wasn't even half way up. My wife was watching this event unfold from the safety of the viewpoint. I waved a thumbs up at her signalling that I was OK. She waved at me indicating that I sit down and rest some more.

I'm a mere pixel down at the crater's base.
Pretty soon, I was scrambling up on all fours, using my hands and legs both to aid my fight against the ruthless pull of Gravity. I was collapsing down with fatigue with every 8-10 steps, with self-doubt about whether I'll be able to make it up top surging in my mind. As I scrambled on a little more, I also began feeling that I might pass out. I have passed out a couple times in the past when my physical exertion went past my limits - once when I had joined a Karate class and the instructor pushed me past my fitness levels. Had I passed out inside the crater, I would have been in real trouble. The worst did not happen, fortunately.

After countless repetitions of scrambling on all four limbs, and resting in between every ten steps, I finally limped out of the crater in one piece and dropped down at the rim. I had totally overrated my fitness levels and Nature had put me in my place. My wife replenished my Gatorade supply that I chugged down as I looked down into the little hole of Hell that I had just barely made out of.

As I rehydrated myself and the fatigue subsided, we got into our car and began our long eight hour journey back home. Death Valley indeed was a very unique place, and I was delighted with this National park, while having had my share of scary moments as well. This landscape is the closest one can get to experience what it feels like to be on the face of another planet, because the distinct barren terrain makes it hard to believe that we are still on planet Earth.

Death Valley fades in the background as we bid goodbye.

Feb 11, 2016

ಅಮ್ಮನ ನೆನಪು

ಅಮ್ಮ ನಮ್ಮನ್ನಗಲಿ ಸರಿಸುಮಾರು ೫ ವರ್ಷಗಳಾಗುತ್ತ ಬಂತು. ಇಷ್ಟು ಕಾಲ ಸರಿದ ಮೇಲೂ ಅಮ್ಮನ ಮಧುರ ನೆನಪುಗಳು ಆಗ್ಗಿಂದಾಗ್ಗೆ ಕಣ್ಮುಂದೆ ಸರಿದು ಹೋಗುತ್ತಲೇ ಇರುತ್ತವೆ. ನಮ್ಮೊಡನೆ ಅಮ್ಮ ಈಗ ಇಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೇನಂತೆ, ಅಮ್ಮನೊಡನೆ ಹಂಚಿಕೊಂಡ ಸಂತಸದ ದಿನಗಳ ನೆನಪುಗಳ ಮರುಕಳಿಕೆ ಕಡಿಮೆಯಾಗುವ ಲಕ್ಷಣವಂತೂ ಕಾಣುತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ. ಅಮ್ಮನ ಕೆಲ ವಿಶೇಷ ಗುಣಲಕ್ಷಣಗಳ ಮತ್ತು ಅಮ್ಮ ಭಾಗಿಯಾದ ಕೆಲ ಸ್ಮರಣೀಯ ಘಟನಾವಳಿಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಬರೆಯಬೇಕೆಂದು ನನಗೆ ಬಹಳ ಸಮಯದಿಂದ ತುಡಿತವಿತ್ತು. ಅಂತೂ ಈಗ ಗಳಿಗೆ ಒದಗಿದೆ.

ಮುಗ್ಧತೆಯ ಅವತಾರವೆಂದರೆ ಅದು ನನ್ನಮ್ಮ. ನಯವಂಚನೆ, ಕೋಪ, ಚುಚ್ಚುಮಾತು ಇದಾವುದೂ ತಿಳಿಯದು ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ. ಅಮ್ಮನನ್ನು ಸುಳ್ಳು ಹೇಳಿ ವಂಚಿಸುವುದು ಸುಲಭ. ಇದರ ಲಾಭವನ್ನು ನಾನು ಬಾಲ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಪಡೆದುದು ಸುಳ್ಳಲ್ಲ. ನನ್ನ ತಂಗಿಯನ್ನು ಪ್ರತಿದಿನ ಶಿಶುವಿಹಾರದಿಂದ ಸೈಕಲ್ಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಮನೆಗೆ ಕರೆತರುವುದು ನನ್ನ ಹೊಣೆ. ಈ ಜವಾಬ್ದಾರಿಯಿಂದ ನುಣುಚಿಕೊಂಡು ಟ್ಯೂಶನ್ ಇದೆಯೆಂದು ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ ಸುಳ್ಳು ಹೇಳಿ ಟಾಕೀಸಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಸಿನಿಮಾ ನೋಡಿಕೊಂಡು ಬಂದದ್ದುಂಟು. ಇದಾದರೆ ಅಷ್ಟೇನೂ ನಷ್ಟವಿಲ್ಲದ ವ್ಯವಹಾರ. ಇನ್ನು ಅಮ್ಮ ತನ್ನ ಮುಗ್ಧತೆಯಿಂದ ಬಲಿಪಶುವಾಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದುದು salesmenಗಳ ಮರುಳುಮಾತಿಗೆ. ಮಾತಿಗೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕ ಈ ಮೋಡಿಗಾರರೆಲ್ಲ ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ ಏನಾದರೂ ಕಸಕಂತೆಯನ್ನು ಮಾರಿಹೋಗುವವರೇ.

ಅಪ್ಪ ತಂಗಿಯೊಡನೆ ಅಮ್ಮ. ಅಂದಾಜು ವರ್ಷ 1995.

ಕ್ರಿಕೆಟ್ ವೀಕ್ಷಣೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಆಸಕ್ತಿ ಬೆಳೆಸಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದಳು ಅಮ್ಮ. ಆಟದ ನೀತಿನಿಯಮಗಳನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡಿದುದು ಅಷ್ಟಕ್ಕಷ್ಟೇ. ನಮ್ಮ Batsman out ಆದರೆ 'ಅಯ್ಯೋ ಥು' ಎಂದು ಗೋಳಾಡುವ ಅಮ್ಮ ಮರುಗಳಿಗೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮತ್ತದೇ ವಿಕೆಟ್ ಪತನವನ್ನು slow motionನಲ್ಲಿ ತೋರಿಸಿದಾಗ 'ಥುತ್ ಮತ್ತೊಂದ್ ಬಿತ್ತು' ಎಂದು ಬಡಿದುಕೊಳ್ಳುವಳು. ಆಟ ನೋಡಬೇಕೆಂದು ಬಯಸುವ ಕ್ರಿಕೆಟ್ ಆಸಕ್ತನಿಗೆ ಅಮ್ಮನ ಜೊತೆ ಕುಳಿತು ನೋಡುವುದೆಂದರೆ ಅದೊಂದು ಮೊಜುಭರಿತ ಹಿಂಸೆಯ ಅನುಭವವೇ. ಇದರೊಡನೆ ಬೆಳಗಾದರೆ ದಿನಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕ್ರಿಕೆಟ್ ಸುದ್ದಿಗಳನ್ನು ಗಟ್ಟಿಯಾಗಿ ಓದುವುದು ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ ರೂಢಿ. ಆಕೆ ಓದುವುದನ್ನು ಕೇಳಲು ಮನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾರೂ ಆಸಕ್ತಿ ತೋರದಿದ್ದರೂ ಆಕೆಯ ಕ್ರೀಡಾವಾಚನ ನಿಲ್ಲುತ್ತಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ.

ಕನ್ನಡ ಸಿನಿಮಾ ನೋಡುವ ಅಭಿರುಚಿ ತುಸು ಜಾಸ್ತಿಯೇ ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ. ಹಾಗೆಂದು ಇಷ್ಟಪಟ್ಟು ಹೋದ ಸಿನೆಮಾಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಅರ್ಧ ವೇಳೆ ಥೇಟರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ನಿದ್ದೆ ಮಾಡಿ ಕಳೆಯುವುದು ಅಪರೂಪದ ಸಂಗತಿಯೇನಲ್ಲ. ಪುನೀತ್ ರಾಜಕುಮಾರ್ ಸಿನಿಮಾಗಳಿಗೆ ತಪ್ಪದೆ ಹಾಜರ್. ಅವನ ಡಾನ್ಸ್ ಇಷ್ಟ ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ. ಹಾಗೆಯೇ ವಿಷ್ಣುವರ್ಧನ್ ನನ್ನು ಡಾ. ರಾಜಕುಮಾರ್ ಗೆ ಹೋಲಿಸಿ ಕೆಳಸ್ಥರದಲ್ಲಿ ಕೂಡಿಸುವುದು ಮಾಮೂಲಿ. ರಾಜ್ ಡಾನ್ಸ್ ಮುಂದೆ ವಿಷ್ಣುವಿನ ಕುಣಿತ ಯಾವ ಸಾಟಿ ಎಂದು ಹೀಗಳೆಯುವಳು. ನಾನು ಮೂಗಿನಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ - 'ರಾಜ್ ಎಷ್ಟು ಚಂದ ಡಾನ್ಸ್ ಮಾಡ್ತಿದ್ದ್ರು ನಂಗ್ ಗೊತ್ತು ಸುಮ್ನಿರು' ಎಂದು ಅಸಡ್ಡೆಯಿಂದ ಗೊಣಗುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ.

ಅಮ್ಮ ಜನರೊಡನೆ ಬೆರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದುದು ಕಡಿಮೆ. ನಾಚಿಕೆಯ ಸ್ವಭಾವದ ಅಮ್ಮ ಅಂಥ ಮಾತಿನ ಮಲ್ಲಿಯಲ್ಲ. ಮನೆಯ ಅಕ್ಕಪಕ್ಕದ ಹೆಂಗಸರೆಲ್ಲ ಮಧ್ಯಾಹ್ನ/ಸಂಜೆಯ ಹೊತ್ತಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಬೀದಿಬದಿಯ ಹರಟೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ತೊಡಗಿದ್ದರೆ ಅಮ್ಮ ಅದರಲ್ಲೆಂದೂ ಭಾಗಿಯಾದವಳಲ್ಲ. ಮನೆಯ ಕಿಟಕಿಯ ಪರದೆ ಸರಿಸಿ ಹೊರಗೆ ನೆರೆಹೊರೆಯವರ ಹರಟೆಯನ್ನು ಮರೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಂತು ಗಮನಿಸುವ ಗೂಢಚಾರಿಕೆಯೇ ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ ಖುಶಿ. ಹೀಗೆ ಗೂಢಚಾರಿಕೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಲೇ ಅಮ್ಮ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಯ ಮುಂದಿನ ತೋಟಕ್ಕೆ ಭೇಟಿ ನೀಡುವ ಹಕ್ಕಿಗಳನ್ನು ಅದೆಷ್ಟೋ ಬಾರಿ ಪಕ್ಷಿಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಜ್ಞಳಂತೆ ಅಭ್ಯಾಸ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದುಂಟು.

ದೀಪಾವಳಿಯ ಸಂಭ್ರಮದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಮ್ಮ - ಮಗಳು. ಅಂದಾಜು ವರ್ಷ 1997 - 98.

ತನ್ನದೇ ಆದ ಚಿಕ್ಕ ಪರಿಧಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅಮ್ಮ ಮಾಡಿದ ದಾನ, ಧರ್ಮ, ಅಳಿಲುಸೇವೆಗಳು ಬಹಳ ದೊಡ್ದವೇ. ಪ್ರಾಣಿದಯೆಯು ಅತಿಯೇ ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ. ಮನೆಯ ಸುತ್ತಲಿನ ಪರಿಸರದ ಬೀದಿನಾಯಿಗಳಿಗೆಲ್ಲ ಅಮ್ಮ ಅಚ್ಚುಮೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಕೊಡುಗೈ ದಾನಿ. ಅದೇಕೆ ಗೊತ್ತೇ? ಬೇಕರಿಯಿಂದ ಬ್ರೆಡ್ ಕೊಂಡು ತಂದು ಬೀದಿ ನಾಯಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಹಾಕುವ ಪರಿಪಾಠವಿತ್ತು ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ. ಇದು ಒಂದೆರಡು ದಿನಗಳ ಶೋಕಿಯಲ್ಲ. ಪ್ರತಿದಿನದ ವಾಡಿಕೆಯಿದು. ಪ್ರತಿದಿನ ಕಡಿಮೆಯೆಂದರೂ 8 - 10 ರೂಪಾಯಿಗಳ ಮನುಷ್ಯಯೋಗ್ಯ ಬ್ರೆಡ್ ನಾಯಿಗಳಿಗೆ ದಾನ ಮಾಡುವ ಕಾರ್ಯ ಬಹಳ ಕಾಲ ಅಡಚಣೆಯಿಲ್ಲದೆ ನಡೆಯಿತು ನಮ್ಮ ಧರ್ಮಛತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ.

ಹೀಗೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಯ ಸೇವೆ ಸೌಲಭ್ಯಗಳಿಗೆ ಹೊಂದಿಕೊಂಡ ನಾಯಿಯೊಂದು ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಯ ಹೊರಗಿನ ಆವರಣದಲ್ಲಿ 6-7 ಮರಿಗಳನ್ನು ಹೆತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ನಾವೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಅವಕ್ಕೆ ಹಾಲು ಆಹಾರದ ಉಪಚಾರ ನಡೆಸಿದ್ದೆವು. ಇಂತಿಷ್ಟು ಮರಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವು ಕ್ರಮೇಣ ನಾಪತ್ತೆಯಾದವು. ಇನ್ನೊಂದಿಷ್ಟು ಮರಿಗಳು ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ವಿವಿಧ ಹೊಡೆತಗಳು, ಶತ್ರುಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳ ದಾಳಿಗೆ ಬಲಿಯಾಗಿ ಕೊನೆಗೊಂದು ಮರಿ ಉಳಿದಿತ್ತು. ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಯ ನಾಯಿಮರಿಯೇ ಆಗಿಹೋದ ಇದನ್ನು ಅಮ್ಮ ಹೆಚ್ಚೇ ಆಪ್ತವಾಗಿಸಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದಳು. ಮುಂದೊಂದು ದಿನ ಇದೂ ಮಾಯವಾಯಿತು. ಅಮ್ಮ ಆ ದಿನ ಸ್ನಾನದ ನೆಪದಲ್ಲಿ ಬಚ್ಚಲು ಮನೆ ಸೇರಿ ಕಣ್ಣೀರಾಗಿದ್ದಳು. ಅಮ್ಮನ ಸಂಕಟವನ್ನು ಕಂಡು ನಾನು ಸೈಕಲ್ ಹತ್ತಿ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಯ ಹಿಂದಿನ ಬಡಾವಣೆಗೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಎಲ್ಲಾದರೂ ನಾಪತ್ತೆಯಾದ ನಮ್ಮ ನಾಯಿಮರಿ ಕಾಣುವುದೇ ಎಂದು ಹುಡುಕಹತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ನಮ್ಮ ಮರಿ ಕಾಣದಿದ್ದರೂ ಅದನ್ನು ಹೋಲುವ ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಮರಿ ಬೀದಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಓಡಾಡಿಕೊಂಡಿತ್ತು. ಅದನ್ನು ಮೇಲೆತ್ತಿ ಹಿಡಿದು ಸೈಕಲ್ನಲ್ಲಿ ಮನೆಗೆ ಕರೆತಂದೆ. ಅದನ್ನು ನೋಡಿ ಅಮ್ಮನ ಮುಖ ತುಸು ಅರಳಿತು. ನಮ್ಮ ದುರದೃಷ್ಟಕ್ಕೆ ಮುಂಚಿನ ಮರಿಗಳನ್ನು ಹೆತ್ತ ನಾಯಿಯು ತನ್ನದಲ್ಲದ ಈ ಮರಿಯ ಮೇಲೆ ದಾಳಿ ಮಾಡಲೆರಗಿತು. ದೊಡ್ಡ ನಾಯಿಯನ್ನು ಓಡಿಸಿ ಮರಿಯನ್ನು ಇಲ್ಲೇ ಬಿಟ್ಟರೆ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಉಳಿಗಾಲವಿಲ್ಲವೆಂದು ಅದನ್ನು ಸಿಕ್ಕ ಜಾಗದಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಬಂದೆ. ಇಷ್ಟೆಲ್ಲಾ ಪ್ರಸಂಗವಾದ ಮೇಲೆ ಮತ್ತಾವ ನಾಯಿಯನ್ನೂ ಆವರಣದೊಳಗೆ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಸಲಹಲಿಲ್ಲ ನಾವು. ಸಾಕುಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳ ಸಹವಾಸಕ್ಕೆ ಪೂರ್ಣವಿರಾಮ ಹಾಕಿದೆವು. ನಮ್ಮೆಲ್ಲರ ಬದುಕಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲಸಮಯ ಹೊಕ್ಕಿ ಹೋದ ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ನಾಯಿಗೆ ನಾನು/ಅಮ್ಮ ಚರ್ಚಿಸಿ ದಯಪಾಲಿಸಿದ ನಾಮಧೇಯ 'ಲಾರಾ'.

ಹೊಳೆವ ಕಂಗಳ ಯುವಜೋಡಿ - ಅಪ್ಪ ಅಮ್ಮ 80ರ ದಶಕದ ಹೊಸಿಲಲ್ಲಿ 

ನನ್ನ ಶಾಲೆಯು ಬೇಸಿಗೆಯ 3 ತಿಂಗಳು ರಜೆಗೆ ಬಂದ್ ಆದಾಗ ನಾನು ನನ್ನ ಅಜ್ಜಿಯೂರು ಶಿವಮೊಗ್ಗ ಜಿಲ್ಲೆಯ ಸಾಗರಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗುವುದು ರೂಢಿ. ಈ ಮೂರು ತಿಂಗಳು ಆಗ ಧಾರವಾಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಬ್ಯಾಂಕಿನಲ್ಲಿ ದುಡಿಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ನನ್ನಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ ಪುತ್ರವಿರಹದ ಸಂಕಟ. 90ರ ದಶಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಆಗಿನ್ನೂ STD ಫೋನುಗಳು ಮಾಮೂಲಾದ ಕಾಲವಲ್ಲ. ಆಗ ನಾವು ಪತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಬರೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆವು. ಅಪ್ಪ ಅಮ್ಮನಿಂದ ಕಾಗದ ಬಂದಾಗ ಆಗುವ ಸಂಭ್ರಮದ ಸೊಗಸೇ ಬೇರೆ. ಆ ಪತ್ರಗಳಿಗೆ ಉತ್ತರಿಸಲು ಕೂಡುವುದು ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಬಗೆಯ ಖುಶಿ. ಒಂದು ಪತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಮ್ಮ ಬರೆದಿದ್ದಳು - ಅಪ್ಪ ಅಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರತಿ ರಾತ್ರಿ ಊಟಕ್ಕೆ ಕುಳಿತಾಗ ನಾನು ಜೊತೆಗಿಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೂ ನನ್ನ ನೆನಪಿಗೆ ನನ್ನ ಊಟದ ತಟ್ಟೆಯನ್ನು ಅವರಿಬ್ಬರ ತಟ್ಟೆಗಳೊಡನೆ ಇಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದಳಂತೆ.

ಅಪ್ಪ ಒಂದೆರಡು ವರ್ಷ ಬೇರೆ ಊರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ದುಡಿಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಸಮಯವದು. ಆಗೊಂದು ದಿನ ನಾನು ಅಮ್ಮ ಮತ್ತು ನನ್ನ ತಂಗಿ North Indian ಖಾದ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಸವಿಯಲು ಧಾರವಾಡದ ಒಂದು ಪ್ರಸಿದ್ಧ ಹೋಟೆಲಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿದ್ದೆವು. ಭರ್ಜರಿಯಾಗಿಯೇ ಸಾಗಿತು ನಮ್ಮ ಸೂಪ್, ರೋಟಿ, ಪನೀರ್ ಮಸಾಲ, ಕಾಶ್ಮೀರಿ ಪಲಾವ್ ಗಳ ಭೂರಿ ಭೋಜನ. ಕಂಠಮಟ್ಟ ತಿಂದುಂಡು ತೇಗಿ ಸಂತೃಪ್ತರಾಗಿ ಕುಳಿತಿರಲು ಕೊನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾಣಿಯು bill ತಂದಿಟ್ಟ. ಅಮ್ಮ ದುಡ್ಡಿಡಲು ತನ್ನ ಪರ್ಸು ತೆರೆದು ನೋಡಿ ತಡಕಾಡಲು ತೊಡಗಿದಳು. ಆಕೆಯ ಹುಡುಕಾಟವನ್ನು ನೋಡುತ್ತಾ ಇದೇನು ಅಮ್ಮನ ಮುಖದಲ್ಲಿ ಭೀತಿಯ ಛಾಯೆ ಬೆಳೆಯುತ್ತಿದೆಯಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ನಾನು ಗಾಬರಿಯಾದೆ. Billಗೆ ಆಗುವಷ್ಟು ದುಡ್ಡಿಲ್ಲ ಪರ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಎಂದು ನಾನು ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಿಸಿದ್ದಂತೆಯೇ ಅಮ್ಮ ಉಲಿದಳು ಗಂಟಲು ಒಣಗಿದ ಕೀಚಲು ಧ್ವನಿಯಲ್ಲಿ. ಅಯ್ಯೋ ಈಗೇನು ಮಾಡೋಣ ಎಂದು ಎಲ್ಲರ ಎದೆ ಡವಡವ. ಜನರ ಮುಂದೆ ಅದೇನು ಅವಮಾನ ಕಾದಿದೆಯೋ ಎಂಬ ಆತಂಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಚಡಪಡಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾಗ ಅಮ್ಮನಿಗೆ ಸುದೈವದಿಂದ ನೆನಪಾದದ್ದು ಹೋಟೆಲಿನ ಹೊರಗೆ ಪಾನ್ ಅಂಗಡಿ ಇಟ್ಟಿದ್ದ ಅಮ್ಮ ದುಡಿಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಬ್ಯಾಂಕಿನ ಗಿರಾಕಿ. ಆ ವೀಳ್ಯದೆಲೆ ಕಟ್ಟುವ ಮಹಾಮಹಿಮನಿಗೆ ಅಮ್ಮ ಬ್ಯಾಂಕಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಹಲವು ಬಾರಿ ನೆರವಾಗಿದ್ದಳಂತೆ. ನಾವು ಆತನಿಂದ ತ್ವರಿತವಾಗಿ ಕೈಸಾಲ ಪಡೆದು ಅಂತೂ ಗೌರವಯುತವಾಗಿ ಹೋಟೆಲಿನಿಂದ ಮನೆ ಸೇರುವಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ ತಿಂದ ಮೃಷ್ಟಾನ್ನವೆಲ್ಲ ಭಯಬೆವರ ರೂಪದಲ್ಲಿ ಕರಗಿಯಾಗಿತ್ತು.

ತಂಗಿಯ ಮೊದಲ ಹುಟ್ಟುಹಬ್ಬದಂದು ನಾನು, ತಂಗಿ ಮತ್ತು ನಮ್ಮಮ್ಮ. ಜನವರಿ 6, 1995.

ಅಮ್ಮನ ನೆನಪುಗಳು ಮೊಗೆದಷ್ಟೂ ಮುಗಿಯವು. ಈ ಮನಮುದಗೊಳಿಸುವ ಜೀವನಾನುಭವಗಳನ್ನು ಮತ್ತೊಮ್ಮೆ ಮಗದೊಮ್ಮೆ ಕೆದಕಿ ಗತವೈಭವದ ಸಂತಸವನ್ನು ಸವಿಯಲು ನಾನು ಸರಿದು ಹೋದ ಕಾಲದೊಳಕ್ಕೆ ಆಗಾಗ ಹೊಕ್ಕಿ ಬರುತ್ತಿರುತ್ತೇನೆ. ಈ ಹಿನ್ನೋಟಗಳ ತೀವ್ರತೆ ಸಮಯ ಉರುಳಿದಂತೆ ಮಾಸದಿರಲೆಂದು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಅಕ್ಷರಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಅಚ್ಚಿಳಿಸಿರುವೆ.

Jan 24, 2016

Deliberate Practice Series - 3: Daily Rituals

With a general foundation of deliberate practice laid out, it is now time to translate that into a workable daily ritual for my area of software development.

Creative Mornings
Mornings will be exclusively reserved for programming. Below are some guidelines I've come up with for my intended 5:30 AM - 8:30 AM time slot.
- Begin with studying up on a BIOS/Bootloader driver source code.
- Make copious notes on the functionality of the driver and what it does in a sequential order.
- Now, using your notes and your memory as your sole reference, recreate the driver's source. This isn't as easy done as it is said, because BIOS code gets pretty complicated with data structures that run up to tens, if not hundreds of fields, and interactions with a multitude of hardware registers. So I need to be practical about what an acceptable level of my recreated code is, because after all, this is not an exercise in code memorization.

Consumptive Evenings
I plan on carving some time out during my evenings for reading. I expect it to be beneficial to maintain a good mix of reading general Computer Science books and highly domain targeted Industry Standard Specifications and Manuals. Some guidelines here would be:
- Since it isn't always feasible to find time/energy on evenings for study, I might want to experiment with getting my daily work done by 5 PM and then read until 5:45 PM before I head home.
- Try allocating at least an hour of the rest of your evening for reading.

General Guidelines
Here are some general guidelines that apply to both my morning and evening plans:
- Stick to one particular topic for at least 3 to 4 days. Do not jump around from one topic to another. This will give you a good amount of sustained immersion and lets you go beyond superficial exposure.
- Have a list of 3 to 4 topics that you rotate through every quarter. After a quarter, switch gears and move on to newer territory.

Every once in a while, it is important to just step back from the rigorous routine and reevaluate the whole scheme and its effectiveness. This will be helpful to spot inefficiencies, rectify such areas and take your routine through a course of evolution for the greater good.

(Photo by Luis Marina)