Mauriat Miranda     mjmwired

Picking Sides on the Job

When I look back at my days working for a Fortune 500 (actually 10) company, I learned that often business can be just personal - the people, not the principles. A well informed employee sometimes needs to determine with which "side" they need to align in order to get their job done. As an engineer, it was not uncommon that neither side really wanted to do the right thing. They were just taking positions.

A previous manager of mine came to rely on my opinion on some technical matters. Of course this wouldn't preclude me from commenting on non-technical matters. Whenever I wound up sitting by her in a large meeting or conference hall, I would be quick to provide advice on the potential impending situation. I tried to determine that if a battle broke out between the different sections of the hall, which side we should join in order to be victorious. Also where best to hide if a big robot tore off the roof and started snatching people up. And equally as important: which co-workers would last longer against zombie bites before becoming zombies themselves. ... She never out-right admitted it, but I know she appreciated the anticipatory brilliance of my non-trivial suppositions.

This is just another example of how no previous co-worker, team or business unit has ever regretted having me on their side.

Posted in: Random,

In Memory of a Friend

I originally had decided not to post this, but I now think it will be therapeutic to do so. Exactly 2 weeks ago, my good friend, who I've known for over 15 years, passed away after a 4 month battle with cancer. He was only 31 years old and had been married for less than 6 months.

While I was aware of his condition immediately after his diagnosis, I am still in shock of how rapidly everything happened. For whatever wishful reason I naively thought he had more time, and that I would have had at least one meaningful conversation with him. Sadly this was not the case.

I have always observed life threatening illnesses such as this from afar. Occurring to other people or distant relatives (usually much older). The reality of knowing someone so close both personally and in age, makes me more introspective on my own life (as if that were even possible). All these thoughts, memories and regrets flood my mind.

My biggest regret was that I never spoke to him when he was sick. I never told him that I had not forgotten about him and to let him know that he had all my support. I remembered him. I just hope that he heard me on a voice-mail I left for him or saw one of my messages. ... The only thing I am proud of in some small way, is that I did summon the courage to get up and talk at his funeral. Something I did not plan on doing.

Since he lived across the country, I did not see him often. To his credit, he always visited me when in town and I saw him a few times a year, which is more often than I see some people who live much closer. Being remembered is worth so much more than I can properly quantify. I really wish I had expressed that to him.

At the funeral when his family spoke, his brother's wife said something that stood out to me among all the sadness. She said little by little, each step in his life he pursued a small part of his dream. From engineering, to attending law school, to establishing himself to California and to finding his love and getting married. She encouraged everyone to find their dream - their love - to pursue it and once you have it: hold onto to it tightly. Such precious words from a broken heart. Words to live by.

Grief is a very personal thing. I can't imagine what his wife, siblings or parents are going through. For every word written here, I could speak a thousand more. I can recall the past 15 years quite vividly with all the ups and downs. I can appreciate the changes between us: career, life, relationships and everything else. For the handful of friends who I care about, there is now one less, and that change at the moment is quite difficult for me to accept. In time ...

(a big thank you to all my friends and family, especially my youngest brother)

Rest in peace my friend.

Aashish Kumar Garg
July 20, 1979 - March 9, 2011

Posted in: Life,

A Late New Year Reset

Today started what I hope will be an end to my meandering thoughts on life. The month of January has been quite an exhilarating 31 days. A few weeks ago, in a surprise even to myself, I left the cubicle culture of the "mega-corporation" that I gave over 6 and 1/2 years of my life. (I have plenty of reflections, but I will save those for another post). And this morning, I stepped into a more demanding role at a smaller company where the work is more challenging, the hours longer and most importantly the rewards are much better. ... While I'll still be sitting in a cubicle, the environment, people and responsibilities have little semblance to my past setting.

... I had been planning a trip to Spain (to visit my cousin) for February, but due to the circumstances I decided to go ahead in January as a treat to myself. I came back last week after touring Barcelona, Seville and Madrid. In a sentence: one of the best trips of my life. I could write novels on that, but again, some other day.

So apologies in advance, my inbox has been flooded since December and work/life/etc. has just been a total mess ... my computers are in boxes :( ... I hope to be situated and back in some sort of rhythm in the next month or so.

And to conclude this positive post: the net effect of the recent set of events (trip included) is that I feel like a totally different person. I am so looking forward to 2011 and beyond ...

Posted in: Life, Travel, Random,

Happiness and 5 Dollars

If a child got $5 they might be excited to buy them self a candy bar. Or a teenager with $50 would get the latest XBox game? Maybe a college kid getting $500 would pay for their spring break to Mexico? I could go on, but in every case you see someone who is restricted by some cost which, when overcome, would make them happier or provide some momentary gratification.

I'm having difficulty in figuring out what that is for me. I'm not saying I'm rich, but have come to realize that further contentment won't be achieved for me through financial means. Which makes life difficult for me (yeah poor me). In the past few years I've totally curbed my materialistic cravings. Not that I don't "have" stuff, just that at times I almost feel like I'm forcing myself to go for a well deserved splurge. I know it's perfectly healthy to "want" but what do you do when you don't know what to want?

And this "problem" (if you call it that) manifests itself in other ways. It might become easy to care less about your career or your health when you know realistically that continuing your default course of action will still make you much better off than most people. All I can say is that life without some challenge to overcome is almost pointless.

Hopefully I don't come across as some self-medicating blogger. I really shouldn't complain when the truth is that I live a really nice life. But I just know that there must be something I really want to "buy" that I don't have the "means" to pay for. What that is and how to obtain it are a total mystery to me.

Posted in: Life, Philosophy,

Another Wedding in Ann Arbor

So last weekend a whirlwind of events that started in India finally came to an overwhelmingly positive finale. For anyone who doubted that such a major event could be planned in such a short time without disaster, you would be surprised. But, not really, so long as you've got friends and family that you can depend upon - nothing is impossible. So for the most part it was a big success.

Of course, this post would be meaningless if I didn't add my typical commentary. The night started off a little bad for me as the DJ butchered my name after rehearsing it several times. The bride's (rather easy to say) name was also slaughtered. My Best Man's speech sorta stuttered a bit. My mind was so much focused on delivering the Konkani I prepared, that I kept getting brain freeze. No bother, I feel most people liked it. Apologies to the non-Konkani people who were there. The venue did seem a little crowded as there wasn't much space for the bridal party to wait and the food was really so-so, but I'm pretty sure everyone ate their full.

People did a good job with the musical requests. The DJ was a bit tough to hear at times. He was a nice guy but his music system went kaput more than once. Worst during the groom's men's earth shattering rendition of Journey - Don't Stop Believin' (great photo op). Luckily (unluckily?) the air guitar session of Bon Jovi - Livin' on a Prayer will be immortalized on Sony Handicam forever.

The bar started off on a good note. I saw someone order a Rum & Coke and the bartender asked "What type of rum?". Normally I don't see selection - choice is good! As the night wore on, somehow the pouring of drinks got a little weird. When some young folk were "doing shots", I'm pretty sure I saw some glasses that looked like they had doubles or even triples. Measure people, measure. The last few for the night took their toll. I didn't see, but I know there were some incidents and accidents. Later when the alcohol hit people, I think there might have been some hints and allegations. Luckily everybody went home safe to their soon to follow hangovers. As the Maid of Honor put it: it was the fault of the bartender. I'm sure most of America agrees ;-)

In retrospect, I'm completely shocked how much fun people had and how crazy they got considering the relative simple nature of the bride and groom - not that there's anything wrong with that. As it is once again proved, weddings are NOT for the people getting married. They're for EVERYBODY else!

In conclusion, some of you might realize that this was part 3 in the Miranda Wedding Trilogy (part 1, part 2). No one wants to see a part 4 come and ruin a good story.

... and then there was one

Posted in: Life,