New Year, New Writing

Resolution time. I will post at least one item every month on this blog. Here goes the January post.

Looking back just a bit: Fall 2008 was crazy as well as blissful, thanks to Guruji’s visit to Texas and especially right here to Austin. We’ve heard before that the work of a Guru is done at a very subtle level, and this time it has been reinforced manifold for me. He was full of praise for the public talk we had organized, though it was far from being perfect. I learnt first hand what it takes to organize an event with a $20,000 budget, 700 attendees, 40 volunteers, and a Guru. (Hint: having the latter makes all the difference… everything else becomes easy to handle.) After our day with Guruji was past, I traveled with Guruji to Dallas and onward to Houston where I was volunteering for the Art of Living Part 2 course for five days. The short span of a day when Guruji was in Austin, and the bus ride to Dallas, and the time we got with Him in Houston – nothing can come close, and it still feels like it wasn’t enough! (Is it ever enough?) Here are some pictures on Picasa from Ravi R, our official photographer for the Austin event.

I got some good rest in November and December and restarted some reading. I completed The Audacity of Hope, the second book by President-elect Barack Obama who at the moment seems to be the beloved of the whole world (except for the Republican half of the US).

I am amazed at how well this book lays out the whole platform for the presidential campaign. Once he had written out his thoughts in the form of this book, I don’t think there was much new by way of ideas or rhetoric that he had to come up with for the campaign. Foreign affairs, race relations, economics, family values – it’s all there in the book. Another impression I carried away from the book was how well Obama can see both sides of an argument. I’m betting we’ll see less of the black-and-white “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” presidential world-view we’ve become used to in the last eight years in the US.

Here’s another book I’ve started reading: The Toyota Way, by Jeffrey Liker.

My own employer, AMD, has rolled out our LEAN initiative a while ago, starting with our manufacturing where it has apparently done wonders. We haven’t yet changed our ways in the engineering organization though, as far as I can tell. I haven’t reached the part in the book where he talks about LEAN for engineering and service organizations. Let’s see what comes up. Based on what I’ve read so far, I recommend this book highly.

Part of this new year break has been spent reorganizing my computing environment at home, migrating from a mostly desktop-based environment to having a laptop and a home server. More updates later on this front. And for the first time, my photography arsenal is seeing the addition of a compact, the Canon A590 IS, which I’ve decided to use as a walk-about camera at all times and especially for low-light and B&W shooting. Quality is nowhere near my Canon DSLR but here’s what I like about it that the DSLR and my 24-70/2.8L can never provide: it’s human-sized. It’s been fun so far!

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