Thursday, January 25, 2007

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Dearest Blogger,

I don't quite know how to break this to you, so I'll just say it... I'm moving on. While we've shared many cherished moments over the past year or so, I've grown and my needs have changed. I've found a new blogging service. She's just more flexible and accommodating... easier to be with. I learned a great deal from you, and I hope that we can still be friends.

If you ever need me, you can find me here:

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Super Bowl, Super Bears!!

I am no die-hard sports fan... in fact since college I've pretty much limited my game watching to the post season series. I usually pick things up around the Sweet 16, NBA Playoffs, NFL Playoffs, etc... It's almost like skipping ahead to the end of a book (which I don't really do) - you miss the build-up, but if you're looking for efficiencies it's a good way to go. Well, this is one football season where I wish I had walked the road with my team... this year's NFC Champions: the Chicago Bears!!!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My baby's a boxer.

Over the holidays I visited the local humane society with a friend to find a dog for his mother. Didn't find the right dog, but we did come across a beautiful 9-month old russian blue that almost knocked me out with his left hook. I thought about it, but in the end decided against adopting since my new roommates might not be cat-friendly.

So much for reason. The next day my friend came over with cat-in-a-box and changed my life (well, at least my day-to-day). Meet Smokey Cassius Clay. (Smokey was his name at the shelter; Cassius Clay was tagged on b/c it befits his boxing polydactyl paws). I always thought of myself more as a dog person than a cat person... but the cat thing is a much better fit for my current lifestyle, and this guy is the BEST! :-D He's very playful, very loving, and *very* curious. He cuddles up with me while I work, and is fascinated with water. This is a pic I took of him pawing at running water for the first time. So adorable... I love you schmoke, muah!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

2006 Retrospective

Damn, is it already 2007? I distinctly recall sitting on the opposite side of this very table writing my "New Year's Resolutions 2006" post, as if it were yesterday. (On a side note, why do I feel like a loser for being at the same dining table I was at 378 days ago? Maybe it's that being in the same physical place makes me feel like I've gone nowhere in the last year... Or maybe it's that I'm sitting here on a Saturday night having opted to blog instead of go out. Whatever.) In any case, here is a quick run-through of how I performed on my '06 resolutions...

1. Take Cal Train to work more often
-- A+. I'm flying through those eBay commuter checks.
2. Learn or re-learn a foreign language
-- F. I think I actually just forgot more of the little I did know. Carrying over to 2007.
3. Go to Tahoe at least twice to ski
-- C. I did go once, and that was awesome.
4. Travel outside of the US at least once (unrelated to work)
-- D. Wow, this is a recurring one that I never fail. I started to plan a trip with a friend to South America, but we deferred it to this year for a number of logistical reasons. Boooo. I did go to Maui, but that doesn't really count.
5. Re-engage myself with some social entrepreneurship organization
-- A. Go Kiva!
6. Be better about staying in touch with friends (call at least one remote friend every two weeks and try to send birthday cards (making it quantifiable))
-- C+. I don't remember sending any birthday cards, but I do think I was better about calling friends.
7. Make 10% of my 2006 income from an outside investment/venture (interest payments, option grants, & ESPP disqualified)
-- F. No new outside investments or ventures. Definitely carrying this over to 2007.
8. Eat Tiramisu
-- A+. I love getting credit for being a glutton.
9. Whine less
-- I really have no idea how I did on this one. I definitely whined in 2006... hopefully less than in the previous year.
10. Blog more
-- A. :-)

Happy Belated New Year!

Monday, December 11, 2006

In loving memory of Raja Das...

I sent the note below to my loved ones last night, but wanted to post it here as it is mostly a tribute to a wonderful human being.

Dear friends & family,

As many of you know, I lost a very dear friend this week and I wanted to thank those of you who have offered your condolences & support. This is my first such loss in life, and surely it won't be the last. It's comforting to know I have so many wonderful people to carry me forward.

I also wanted to take time to introduce you to my friend Raja, undoubtedly one of the best human beings I have ever known. I met Raja over 5 years ago and he grew to be a very close & cherished friend and one of my most trusted confidants. He was a cheerleader for everyone he cared for and always seemed to take more pride in my own accomplishments than I did. His genuine passion for life and for people endeared him to everyone who had the good fortune of knowing him. My world was more beautiful with him nearby... I will forever miss his fun-loving spirit, grounded wisdom, and warm, charismatic nature.

One of the many things I loved about Raja was how inquisitive he was about everything - people, places, ideas... After learning that I grew up in Chicago, he became unusually fixated on Lake Michigan and randomly brought it up numerous times over the course of our friendship. I remember debating the size of the lake with him because he wanted to know if the state of Massachusetts could fit inside of it. He later mentioned in an email that he would need to visit Chicago at least twice: once in the summer so that he could float in the lake on his back (noting, however, that this could be difficult due to the lack of salt in the lake's water); and once in the winter so that he could "slip and fall on a frozen Lake Michigan." The highlight of this mild obsession was a mid-flight phone call I once received - "Seema. You will NOT believe what just happened... I *just* flew over Lake Michigan."

I chatted with Raja almost everyday online and our conversations generally followed the same pattern of shared wisdom weaved into hours of banter, unusual analogies, and ridiculous tangents; he had a quirky tendency to focus on the random details that most people overlooked and to interrupt one mid-sentence to inject affection like, "i love you!" or "you have movie star hair." And sometimes the conversation took a back-seat to the file swapping. We were our own little P2P network. Our overlapping tastes in music was one of the many connections I was quite proud of. We have the same all-time favorite hindi song... and he recently sent me a zip of music that by chance included an obscure song that I had spent all morning in search of. I always wondered how he managed to accomplish great things while splitting his time across so many friends and family.

I saw Raja at most a few times a year when he was back in the Bay (and those were always really fun times!), but I never felt the distance between us because he always involved me in the most basic aspects of everyday life. I remember getting a late-night phone call from him once because he couldn't decide which user ID to go with for his new gmail account. ...And we often watched "Heroes" at the same time, though on separate coasts, so that we could throw around theories on the developing plot. And while I had barely met his family, he spoke of them all the time. A few weeks ago he asked for my help in brainstorming gift ideas for his little brother... I asked about his budget and he replied, "no budget. he's my baby." And Sangeeta... countless times (after I had the pleasure of meeting her at work), he pinged me just to have me reconfirm how smart, beautiful, and generally amazing she is (and she is).

But most often we just talked about how the other was doing that day. Whenever I needed advice or consoling or just some comic relief, he was a mere keystroke away. And I always loved calming his silly paranoia… I went on a week-long business trip to Shanghai last year and returned to find numerous frantic voicemails from Raja... apparently he forgot about my trip (even though I had "cleared it" with him) and was worried. And after I saw him over Thanksgiving, he kept asking me if he was getting chubbier... initially I said no, but recanted after he generously offered to "fix" my face (apparently I have a crooked nose!). In one of our conversations last week, he told me he was feeling rather "Sith-like" when he always wanted to be more of a Jedi. I reassured him that he was definitely not a Sith... he was more like Han Solo - fighting for the light side of the force, but with a definite edge. Oh how he loved hearing that! :-)

There was always a lot more to Raja than he ever let on. Meeting him casually, you would never know that he was pursuing plastic surgery to fix facial deformities in children and not to give the world more silicone, or that he was a talented tabla player with true respect for the art, and a hopeless romantic (for which he blamed Bollywood), and an incredibly loving son and brother (although he *always* bragged about his younger sibs). He rarely talked about himself in social situations because he was always much more interested in learning about others.

Those of you who have known me for a while have often heard me speak very fondly of him. I loved him dearly and always looked forward to seeing him or even just arguing with him online over the proper use of some phrase... he was just always there. The pain of his loss is unbearable as his death leaves a huge void in so many lives. I can't imagine never again seeing his big toothy grin or hearing his slightly mischievious chuckle or watching him dive into a circle of pop & lock dancers even though he can't pop & lock... or wiping my forehead dry after he planted one on me. Raja had *so* much charm & character and was truly a very lovable and beautiful person. As a friend of mine so perfectly stated, "No amount of time spent with Raja was ever enough."

The last text message I received from Raja was on the evening before his death... In response to a conversation we were having that he had to cut short, he wrote "to be continued." The unfortunate irony is torture right now, but I have to believe that there is continuity in that his spirit, and his unfortunate death, truly changed me. I feel very blessed for having known Raja and am so grateful that I told him I love him.

Cheers to an amazing individual and a beloved friend...
Rajesh Ranjan Das (February 2, 1980 - December 6, 2006)

(L-R: Sangeeta, his beautiful little sister; Raja; me; our friend Rahul. 11/24/06)

Raja, you are missed and will never be forgotten.

Friday, November 03, 2006

"Down" with Kiva! is an incredible & innovative non-profit run by a friend of mine and an organization for which I volunteer (I'm also a satisfied lender!). I wanted to throw up a quick post to memorialize what I consider a huge milestone for Kiva: After a Frontline segment about Kiva on Tuesday night, Kiva's server (note: singular) succumbed to the overwhelming demand generated by the show. The staff at Kiva quickly put up a static page to welcome the enthusiasts, explain Kiva's plight, and offer two alternatives to lending for the time being: Contact Us, Donate through PayPal. Plain. Simple. Highly effective.

Here's a screenshot of the current static page (post recovery, pre migration):

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Anyway, while I'm sure that the folks at Kiva are frantically trying to resolve this situation, I think this calls for some celebratory champagne! Congrats, guys - you have arrived! :-)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I've been outed by Adam Nash

Oh so embarrassing... surely some of my colleagues who read Adam's intelligent discourse on topics like Asimov, E-commerce, and Space (as in the last frontier) are now foolishly redirecting to my drivel... Sorry, wrong turn!! Spare your brain cells! Sigh... you've been warned.

(Thanks, Adam, for kindly noting that my blahg doesn't quite capture the extent of my intellect. I'm just trying to stick to the original theme. :-))