Apr 27, 2012

Imagine a blind turtle, roaming the depths of an ocean the size of the universe...

Every spiritual tradition has stressed that this human life is unique, and has a potential that ordinarily we hardly even begin to imagine. If we miss the opportunity this life offers us for transforming ourselves, they say, it may well be an extremely long time before we have another.

Imagine a blind turtle, roaming the depths of an ocean the size of the universe. Up above floats a wooden ring, tossed to and fro on the waves. Every hundred years the turtle comes, once, to the surface. To be born a human being is said by Buddhists to be more difficult than for that turtle to surface accidentally wi th its head poking through the wooden ring. And even among those who have a human birth, it is said, those who have the great good fortune to make a connection wi th the teachings are rare; and those who really take them to heart and embody them in their actions even rarer, as rare, in fact, "as stars in broad daylight."

-- The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Feb 7, 2010

The Last Colony

I just finished reading John Scalzi's The Last Colony. It didn't have the "I can't put this down" feeling that I got from his other books (Android's Dream, Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades).

Jan 31, 2010

Recent Readings

Oct 15, 2009


I watched David Lynch's Dune a few weeks ago. I thought it was OK (I guess I didn't "get it"). I really liked this line from the movie: "Fear is a mind killer."

Oct 4, 2009

Robin Chase

Fascinating talk by Robin Chase, co-founder of ZipCars. Its a very creative solution to the problem of pollution and congestion. Also, I'm sure there are tons of people who don't want to own cars (and the headaches that go along with it), but find them necessary every so often (they even rent cars by the hour). Their story is quiet interesting.

Sep 27, 2009


The market is shifting. And your company is facing hard times. But you don't want to just survive it; you want to move to the next level. And maybe predict where the market is going and be ready for it.

The book, Bounce, deals with such a scenario. I'm sure thousands of books have been written on this subject matter. This one deals with the situation using new terms ("Bounce", "Manage the Mission", ...) and a new way of looking at it: from the perspective of Rangers in the Army and the training they go through to perform under enormous pressure. I think this book was mainly written for managers, so I couldn't connect with it.

But I've been seeing more and more business books of this sort: a long (made up) story that illustrate a few short principles. I think Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box and The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict are two of the best books in that category. (They are also amazing books in general.)

Sep 26, 2009

Three Laws of Performance

I finished reading The Three Laws of Performance a few months back. I'm pretty sure that its an amazing book, but the concepts were a bit hard to understand. So I'll need to read it again to be able to explain what's going on in it. (That's why I didn't take any notes on it -- or maybe I was just lazy :) Anyway, here are the 3 laws (which in the book are illustrated with some amazing stories):

  1. How people perform coorelates to how situations occur to them.
  2. How a situation occurs arises in language.
  3. Future-based language transforms how situations occur to people.

Sep 24, 2009

Born to Run

I just finished Born to Run. A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. And it is one of the best books I've read in a long, long time! Why? Because it has great stories (and stories within stories within stories...), lovely characters and great science that links humanity & running.

But I was really fascinated by two things. First, by what the human body can achieve. The book follows ultra-marathoners who run 50-150 mile races! It takes them anywhere from 6-25 hours to complete them. Quiet amazing!

And second, by the critical role of feedback:

the more cushioned the shoe, the less protection it provides (p173)
So with a modern shoe, with lots of cushion, while running, the foot comes down hard and pushes "through the soles in search of a hard, stable platform." But when it comes against a hard surface, the foot goes into self-defense mode. And so, you come down lighter. Thus, without that "harsh" feedback the foot get fooled, and this is said to cause all sorts of running related injury.

But the best part is that I now have an urge to run, just like the people described in the book

Aug 15, 2009

Simple & powerful teachings

Masters teach simple & powerful truths. Here are the ones I've come across along with my understanding of their teachings:

Byron Katie - your thoughts cause suffering. Don't believe them! They aren't true.

Eckhart Tolle - Now is all there is. Be aware of it.

Alan Watts - This is it! This is reality.

Jim Rohn - work harder on yourself that on your job

Louise Hay - you can heal yourself by loving yourself

Aug 8, 2009

Small experiments are the key

"The Right Plan is to Not have a Plan", a blog post by Tom Peters
While planners treat the plan as holy writ, searchers live by rapid trial and error and learn through constant experimentation and adjustment.
In that blogpost he quotes from William Easterly's book:
In foreign aid, Planners announce good intentions but don't motivate anyone to carry them out; Searchers find things that work and get some reward. Planners raise expectations but take no responsibility for meeting them; Searchers accept responsibility for their actions. Planners determine what to supply; Searchers find out what is in demand. Planners apply global blueprints; Searchers adapt to local conditions. Planners at the top lack knowledge of the bottom; Searchers find out what the reality is at the bottom. ... A Planner thinks he already knows the answers; he thinks of poverty as a technical engineering problem that his answers will solve. A Searcher admits he doesn't know the answers in advance; he believes that poverty is a complicated tangle of political, social, historical, institutional and technological factors; a Searcher hopes to find answers to individual problems only by trial and error experimentation. A Planner believes outsiders know enough to impose solutions; a Searcher believes only insiders have enough knowledge to find solutions, and that most solutions must be homegrown.
And in another post, Peters talks about systems thinking: (Systems Thinking):
My article claimed that "planning" was highly overrated. The best performers, I said, seesawed back and forth between "ideas" and "actions." That is, they had a "big idea." (Or a small one, for that matter.) Rather than think it to death, they immediately got the hell into the field and experimented with some element of it (a prototype). They watched what happened, adjusted, and then quickly ran another experiment—in the meantime the "big idea" also was trimmed or expanded to fit the incoming "real" data, the results of those experiments. As far as I'm concerned this approach, rather than a "planning-centric" approach, is the best (bold assertion) route to success.
And he recommends a book that seems pretty interesting: Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate


Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something
--Thomas A. Edison

May 27, 2009


I just finished Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. And I loved it! I especially loved the parts about him growing up and scenes from his everyday family life. Unfortunately there wasn't too much of that.

In the book, he mainly talks about many of the problems we all (as Americans) face and on ways to resolve them. And some of the solutions he suggests deeply connected with me. It opened my eyes to what could be possible. And so really did give me hope on things I had kinda given up on. I'm glad that he is our President now and can't wait for the next book he'll write...

May 23, 2009


It is hard being stuck to an idea. It becomes the center of your universe. And all you other thoughts converge towards it. When this goes on long enough, it probably becomes a belief, which defines the way you live your life and the experiences you have in it.

But by questioning/inquiring (the hard part), you can remove the idea from the center and consider it to be just another one of your thoughts. And then, Poof! - the idea lets go of you.

May 19, 2009

Henry David Thoreau

We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate. --Thoreau

May 3, 2009


Lately I've been reading 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons To Make Love Last by Linda and Charlie Bloom.

It is quiet wonderful: each lesson is 2-3 pages long and contains a mini-story about a key principle. Some are obvious (like #30. Expectations set us up for resentment). Others are surprising (like #38. Vacations are necessities, not luxuries & #44. If you think, "You're not the person I married," you're probably right.) Overall, it is fantastic book on how to cultivate a great marriage. And not only do the Blooms' share stories about their patients, but also about their own struggles in their marriage!

A few other books I've found very interesting, but haven't bought yet: