Blessed with a daughter

The last post I was able to write was January 20, 2017.  I am starting again after almost 1.5 years as December 2016, I was blessed with the most precious baby girl.  I have had no time to write a blog since then as all my free time is occupied by my lovely doll.  In the past year, I moved from always working for startups (Nomis Solutions followed by Lyra Health) to working for a large organization like Intuit Inc.

Leaving Lyra Health was a really big decision for me and I am so grateful to the team at Lyra Health for making me feel this valued.  It was immense pleasure working in behavioral health space and get guidance from Jenny Gonsalves and Albert Baranchuk.  I am sure that under David’s leadership, Lyra is going to do some awesome work and is a company I am glad that I contributed to.  I learnt a lot about working with AWS, Twilio APIs, managing projects from start to finish and managing third party vendors for email communication (SalesForce and SparkPost) and Okta for authentication.

Lastly, I am now a certified AWS Solution Architect – professional and cloud practitioner.  Two certifications that I find valuable.  At Intuit, I have been focused on working with Kubernetes deployment, managing AWS clusters and DevOps related tasks.

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The Comcast Nightmare

After using streaming services like Netflix, hulu, etc. I found a deal with Comcast where they offered a nice TV and Internet bundle for around 50 bucks.  I signed up for a deal after being on a chat for about an hour!  The shipment for the settop box was shipped via UPS and was scheduled to arrive in 3 days.  So far so good!

I had to go out of town for a few days and I was not able to pick the box from UPS at which point I was anyways using the xfinity streaming services so didn’t miss the set top box.  It seems like if you don’t pick the box for cable tv, comcast cancels the other subscription services like HBO thinking you don’t want cable anymore.  They never verified with me or confirmed before cancelling the service for cable TV.  I went into a store and had to ask them to resume the service which after a hour of haggling, the rep agreed to start a new service at the same price.

Today, I finally got the Set top box in mail but they sent me incorrect remote.  Now I can get cable but not use remote to change channels or do anything on the box.  Now I am paying for service that I cannot use and need to walk into a store again to get the right remote.

Although, I have to admit that the customer service has kinda improved since last I contacted them a year ago.  However, a lot seems to be missing with their service.

Toyota Prius: My new car

The new car!

The Toyota Prius 2015!

I moved to San Jose last year from San Francisco but my workplace is still located in San Bruno.  This means driving about 35 miles one way on US-101 or 44 miles on 280.  I guess taking the train would have been one option but that is a bit inconvenient as the station is 5 miles from my place.  I have to pay for parking and monthly pass which adds up to a large number.  Finally, after driving my Altima Coupe for almost a year on the long traffic filled roads of the bay area, I decided it was time to get a car that is efficient and economical.

I hated the Prius to be honest.  With all the bad name that it has accumulated over the years, I never thought I will end up buying one.  However, when my colleague got a Prius and I noticed that it gave a mileage of 55-60 MPG I could not resist buying one.  I am in my 30s and hence I can afford buying a Prius (In my 20s, I would’ve made fun of someone driving the stupid car!!).  I have driven about 1000 miles in the first week since I bought it and am listing my experience with driving the car below.

PROS

The biggest advantage of driving the Prius is the mileage!!  I love the way it drives on Electric power in peak trafiic and at times when there is slowly moving traffic.  Even when driving at speeds ~60 miles per hour, it manages to deliver close to 40 mpg.  The display is also helpful in monitoring the real time gas usage and it has helped me adjust my driving so as to achieve better mileage.  I kind of have a small competition where each day I try to beat the average mpg for the trip to office n back.

The second good thing about the Prius is that it is a good package.  It offers rearview camera, good stereo with 6 speakers, keyless entry, push button start, drop flat seats, digital odometer, bluetooth connectivity, USB charging and a good enough cabin space for a decent price close to 23K for the base version.  With ongoing promotions on loans (0% APR for 60 months), it was quite a steal.

Lastly, It is a toyota and even though Prius has earned a bad reputation previously, I believe that the maintenance should not be an issue.  The company also offers prepaid maintenance packages which are good for the value they offer.

CONS

The car is really SLOOOOOWWWWW!!  I have compared driving the Prius and my older Altima and the Altima is zippy and makes merging on freeways a breeze.  With Prius, merging onto the freeway or driving on an uphill slope is a battle.  The pickup of the car even with POWER Mode on is slow.  It is a mere 99HP engine so don’t have huge expectations from the car!!

This car makes no sound at all in EV mode.  I have made the mistake of stepping out of the car and forgetting to turn off the engine because it makes 0 noise.

All in all, I am loving the car.  The mileage is awesome and if you adjust your driving skills a bit, the drive ain’t so bad.

Cricket

Finally, after almost 7 years I played cricket over the weekend.  It was fun playing with tennis ball on a small pitch with all sorts of weird rules.  Hitting the ball hard – out, one bounce one hand catch – out, if you hit the ball and it goes behind you – out!!  It was as if we turned into kids and got the Cricket world cup fever.

I was the only lefty on the team and even though I played after a long time, I managed to score some decent runs.  My bowling sucks big time though and hope we continue to play this form of ‘gulli’ cricket atleast every weekend 🙂

TCS Layoffs Controversy

Recently, there has been too much hoopla in the news about the exit interviews being conducted at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).  TCS is one of the largest Indian IT firms and they started to let go employees to cut down on costs.  I feel really bad for the employee that was let go and totally sympathize with her but there is nothing inhumane or wrong with layoffs.

We always imagine that we will have a secure and stable job and everybody makes decisions based on this fact.  We take mortgages, auto loans, decide on a rental place, etc based on the assumption that we will always earn X amount of money.  I can only imagine what the woman would’ve felt when HR told her we are sorry but this is your last day!!  However, this is part of workforce optimization.  Large corporations like Microsoft, Cisco, etc also have to layoff employees that are under-performing or just meeting expectations so that they can retain good talent.  Also, if a company is making losses, it has to think for the greater good.

It would have been totally unfair if the person was laid off without any monetary compensation.  TCS pays 3 months of salary as severance pay which sounds humane enough.  The really stupid thing is when judiciary gets involved and puts a stay order on the termination of employee because she is pregnant!!  So if a guy is let go that would be fair but firing a pregnant lady is not lawful?!

I truly hate layoffs and hope nobody has to face it.  However, I don’t agree with claims that TCS layoffs were not humane.

Rahul Gandhi: Fit to be a leader?

I am not politically inclined to either BJP or congress or any political party in India for that matter.  I have never had the chance to vote and pick a leader in Indian politics.  However, recently I saw this video where a reporter named Arnab Goswami interviews the prime ministerial candidate (hopefully not) of congress i.e. Rahul Gandhi.  The video can be found here and it was featured as part of Frankly speaking show on Times Now network.

I was going through the video and thinking oh boy, Rahul Gandhi is screwed big time.  The guy seems to have been given a script before the show by his party members and he keeps repeating those points, regardless of the question posed by Arnab.  For example, when asked how does he react when Narendra Modi personally attacks him, Rahul goes into a monologue about how to empower women, make democracy open to the public and get RTI for all parts of the society.  It seems like no matter what the question, the Gandhi boy has the same answer.  I feel like if Arnab had asked him whether he likes tea or coffee, Rahul would have responded by saying “Arnab, this is not the question.  The question is whether women are empowered to do what they want.  Congress and BJP have totally different mindsets when it comes to this question.  I want democracy to be transparent and there should be proper process to do everything.  I would like to have RTI on this matter so that there is power to the people!”  Really, the guy fumbles in almost every question and has no direct answer to anything.  It seems like mommy dear told him to only say these 6 points regardless of what curve ball comes his way.  Rahul is not at all direct and brief in his responses, even though Arnab time and again reminds him to be specific.

I don’t care what his strategy or plans are but if we had debate in India, like they have between presidential candidates in US, Rahul would be crushed by Modi.  I don’t support Modi or mean that he is awesome but he is a much better speaker for sure.  I would never want a leader for the country this dumb!!  I mean after the initial few minutes of the interview it starts getting annoying that Rahul never responds clearly and keeps raising three or four points which are totally irrelevant to the question asked.  I hope he is not picked by congress to be the PM candidate.  Congress is really in need of good leaders if they want to win the next election.

Rahul, buddy, you are light years away from becoming a prime minister!!  Please get some tutoring in elocution/debates and please please answer relevantly to questions posed.  If you cannot answer such simple questions, how will you respond to the bigger questions/issues in India???

Losing wealth: My perspective

I just finished watching a movie on Netflix called The Last Emperor.  It is the story about the last Emperor of China named Pu Yi.  The movie basically chronicles the hereditary emperor selection in ancient China, the fall of Monarchy and Japanese invasion followed by the rise of Chairman Mao in Mainland China.  Apart from the stunning visuals portrayed in the movie and an awesome chinese background score, it made me wonder about one thing.

The one thing that stayed on with me is that it is so difficult for someone who has been brought up surrounded by wealth, abundance of resources and tons of servants to lose it all one fine day.  I mean losing authority is one thing and some might live with the shame of losing their authority but losing the power to purchase is the worst thing that can happen to a born rich person.  If a person has never known suffering, it is always difficult to face it later on in life.

In comparison to the above scenario, if someone is born poor or in a middle class family, the perception of losing wealth is entirely different.  A person who makes money and rises up the ranks with his/her hard work and dedicaton have a sense of confidence; a sense of pride that even if they lose it one day, they can rebuild their riches.  Even when they lose it all, they still revert back to the starting point, which they are already familiar with.  For example, today you know how to operate a bicycle and in the future you purchase a lamborghini (you made that much money God knows how), you would still know how to bike but a person who always drove a car, if he has to start biking it is a whole different story.

I can only imagine the pain Pu Yi would have gone through to purchase entry ticket to the Forbidden City, his own home where he grew up!!!  Imagine if you were ousted from your own home and then the government sets up a barricade asking you to fork out cash to enter your own home.  The place where you ate everyday, played with friends, fought with your siblings, which is yours and you never imagined that some day it will not be yours any more.  There are so many cases of celebrity children who throw it all away because they don’t have a sense of preservation of wealth as they did not have to work for it.  They think it is their birthright and no one can ever take that away!!  However, the reality is that every parent should train their kids for the worst scenario… If you buy your son/daughter fancy cars also teach them to ride in a humble bus.  That way if they ever have to give up everything, they would still be able to fight and survive!!