Showing posts from January, 2011

Data Analytics with Open Source Tools

A long time data wrangler serving many masters as one must in this role, I have been looking for a book that talked about the real life challenges of the job. I would love some practical advice on how to do my job better without driving myself completely crazy. I found at least some of that in Philipp K. Janert’s book Data Analytics with Open Source Tools. I am not the right audience for the math in the book and based on my experience translating something that technical to executive management would be extremely challenging if not impossible. Often there are no serious math nerds on the team that understand the concerns of the business well enough to bring their numerical and computations skills to bear on them effectively (i.e. three action items to improve customer engagement by 15% in the next 90 days). More often than not, it is falls on the rest of us who straddle the technical and business worlds, to divine (or help divine) something of value from the many cesspools of enterpri…

Saving For J

I was chatting with another mom about saving for kids to go to college. "Have you already started a college fund for J ?" she asked. I did not know how to answer that question honestly. I don't have a fund started for her and will likely never have one. Both DB and I agree that it is a bad idea to give children the idea that their parents will bankroll their education. I tell J that she can go to any college that she can get a full tuition ride to. The final outcome depends on the amount of hard work she is willing to put in. We will support her in every way possible but she is already getting the message that we will not pay her way to a school of her choice. So, I may never really put aside money for her college tuition. I would also never allow J to take out a big loan to attend some pricey school. DB is willing to let her work part-time to pay for school. I am not sure I can get behind that idea fully. I'd rather she spent that time and energy to secure a tuition…

Heart's Traverse

January is usually the month, I clean up my Inboxes. This year I have been tardy. This short verse was written in 2004. There are no notes to indicate who and what prompted this. So many years later, I cannot even hazard a guess. Clearly, this is not a road I will be coming down again. There was something bitter-sweet in that realization. Of all places that you and I will never
be together, the traverse to your heart
will be the most rued. From the summit
of joy to the death valley of gloom there
was a path that led there. You never
told me , I never asked to know. If I ever
come visiting, it will be down that road.

This other one written in 2005 is much easier to decipher. No, this one I have not forgotten - at least not as yet. Yet reading it bring back no memories good or bad. It is like remembering the receptacle and not its contents.

Greetings to you my Medusan muse !
I see your youth reflected in another
who like you is not mine or even meant to be.
He of burnished copper skin…

Continuity Errors

I was driving DB's car most of last week. One evening, on the way back home, the radio station he has it set to, picked up a song I had not heard in a long time. I caught the last few bars, it sparked recollection but not recognition and then it faded out to headline news. I tried to remember when I had heard it last. It was so long ago, that it could have been another life. 

But again, I have a few different lives - the life in India as a young girl enjoying the independence that comes with her first job, a new bride who came to America full of romantic ideas about marriage and high hopes for the future, an emotionally devastated new mother who left that marriage to find her way in the world alone, the determined single mother who raced against the clock non-stop for eight years and now a woman who is trying marriage, husband and home one more time. 

Each phase of my life, I was a person that bore little resemblance to who I was before or after. Music and books have formed the tenu…

Lolita In The Suburbia

I picked up the movie Towelhead from the library recently. Relationship angst and a thirteen year old Lebanese American girl caught my attention. J is going to be a teenager soon and I will the immigrant parent trying to make sense of the life changes she will deal with in a culture that I don't fully understand. I am always trying to learn ahead of time so I can support her better.To that extent, any and all insights into the world that a minority teenager dwells in America are useful to me. Sadly, I was not able to bring myself to watch this movie past the first thirty or so minutes. The idea of a child (which to me thirteen year old Jasira, the film's protagonist is) could be so vulnerable got me anxious to the point that I could not bear to sit through the rest of this thing. Her mother's boyfriend "helps" her shave her pubic hair and her father's neighbor leaves porn magazines at her doorstep for her enjoyment. The men in her life are either outraged by h…

Myths Of Innovation

Innovation has to be one of the most overused words in the modern cultural lexicon. It is sought ardently where it cannot be found,ascribed where not apropos and most definitely widely misunderstood. The free and loose way we have with this word and all that it stands for piqued my curiosity about Scott Berkun's book The Myths of Innovation. Berkun does his readers a big favor early in the book, by disabusing them of the idea of the moment of epiphany which causes innovation to supposedly happen.There is no Eureka or falling apple instant that turns someone into an Archimedes or a Newton. Instead, Berkun argues there is a method and discipline to the business of innovation. It is not happenstance, but the result of many years of hard work and persistence with ideas that very few believe in, coming to fruition in unexpected ways. One of the magic recipes for innovation, Berkun says : Hard work in a specific direction - The majority of innovations come from dedicated people in a field …

Thwarted Education

The events that lead up to my request for a meeting with J's teachers usually have me anxious even before the meeting. At the conference itself, I find it difficult to stick to my rehearsed talking points and before five minutes are up, I am rambling way off topic at furious pace trying to cover all that I have to say in the twenty minutes I have alloted. My frustration levels run so high, that I can't keep it coherent anymore. Each time, I feel like I failed and should have handled it a lot better than I did. This year for the first time, I had DB to accompany me and that was comforting. We had agreed, if I wandered off-course, he would nudge me so I'd come back on track. I had wanted the time to understand why J's motivation was diminishing. Why it was that she refused to apply herself to do anything beyond "minimally required" to make a decent grade. It took a while for me to even get them to see that there was a problem, that I was interested in whether m…

That Right Feeling

There was something about Vir's voice that told Sheila that he may be the one. She had not seen him at the time - they worked in different locations of the same company and had met for the first time on a conference call. She tried to remain focused on the agenda and not get distracted each time he spoke. She chided herself for being irrational and ridiculous but it proved hard - Vir seemed to have some subtle subtext just for her as he went over the list of risks to the project. She was glad when the hour was up and Vir was gone.  They would meet three days later, he would ask her out to lunch. They would end up spending two hours talking about everything under the sun except business. He would ask to meet her again the next day and the day after. Instead of flying out home on Friday, Vir would extend his stay for the weekend. They would spend those two days together. Sheila would feel that supreme sense of comfort she had never felt with any other man in her life. Vir would tell …

Reviving Ties

The past year has been about change - often of the cataclysmic kind. DB's coming into my life ending a ten year drought in love was as welcome as it was challenging. It was the year when some friends who had supported me for close to ten years as I flew solo, decided that our friendship had run it's course. So I got used to not hearing familiar voices on the phone, not seeing their emails and in time learning to forget that they were once an important part of my life. When the new marriage hit a bump on the road, I had no one to turn and talk to. Instead DB and I sulked in our corners and came back together when we were done. I was forced to cleave my life in two - yet again. Life before DB and life after. It was reminiscent of when R (my ex) and I parted ways years ago. Spending New Year's eve with my old friend E was very poignant. She met DB for the first time and J after four years. We felt just as welcome as a new family as I did when it was J and I. DB and E got alon…