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Author Archives: suresh

Ubiquitous poverty

There are moments where I get these sudden enlightening thoughts, atleast, that’s how I would like to view it… One such thought came to my mind today. What if majority of the people in the world are poorer? Think about it… Like the way it was as I grew up. We couldn’t afford a car or the likes of a motor bike. Almost, everyone had to commute through public transportation for long distances. For shorter distances, it was mostly a walk. Even bicycle was a luxury.  No need for an expensive gym or a treadmill… No threat of fuel consumption exploding….

All papers and plastics (milk covers) were exchanged for money.  A great way to recycle plastics, papers and old utensils. Since there was money involved, no one threw their stuff away. Throwing garbage was not a weekly chore as it is now. Even the stuff that came out of cooking, like egg shells, tea and coffee powder, drumstick fibers etc were all thrown in the garden to enrich soil.

If people had less money, eating habits definitely change. You eat what you need, than whatever you can. To cut down costs, everybody will start farming plants and vegetables in their own backyard, which means that eating fresh vegetables becomes a day to day affair. Organic too…  Buying new clothes is a calendered event. One doesn’t buy what what one doesn’t need. Since there is always an uncertainty around job losses, the solution will depend on community. People living together, as a family or otherwise and support each other through their tough times…Ring a bell..;)

While the capitalistic world would scornfully ignore my thoughts as being stupid, may be even rightfully so, I like to think that I am just quoting history and not proposing something idealistic. When the whole world revolves around policies that should make people richer, my point is that, the world is probably better off if majority of people are poorer. There is always a question of who would these people work for and what will be the balance of wealth between different people, which, in turn, would again stir the conversation of imbalance. But, just the thought of poverty as a solution of the current conditions of global problems seemed interesting to me.  Oh well, feel like going for a drive… May be, eat out and on the way back, have my preferred pearl tea. Oh, did I forget shopping for my supply of bottled water and canned soda… I can then catch up on the interesting discussions of global climate change that came up in the recent summit….:)

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8 Comments

Posted by on September 30, 2009 in General

 

My RNR Seattle Marathon experience

When I signed up for Seattle rock-n-roll couple of months back, my only goal was to make sure that I do a mid year marathon to keep myself in shape for the sacramento marathon that I intend to run this year end… However, after my relay, when I really started doing my training runs, I thought that I could do a 3:25 type marathon if I pushed myself. However, I ended up doing a 3:53 marathon… Obviously, there are reasons… Most reasons were psychological than physical…I did 3:53:37… Much slower than I wanted it to be..:)… The highlight of the marathon was that I met Shoba and her relatives Ramesh/Mala and Aakaash at mile 16 and 22… It was very vital to keep my momentum going at the critical portions of the race…

Anyway, many take aways from the marathon itself:

1) As my friend Soochoo had predicted, the first time marathons (rnr seattle is the biggest marathon in northwest US by far) are typically not planned very well. It showed up in the critical aspects of this marathon. The freeway leading to the starting point got really clogged. After 45 minutes of slow down in the freeway, I finally decided to run about 2 miles to get to the starting point. I started 15 minutes after the race start. I heard from the paper that some people started as late as 1 hr after start time…. With 25000 runners (15,000 half-marathoners and ~6000 full marathoners, the race committee didnt think it through)….

2) That said about the starting point, the course as such was very well organized and had enough drinks/banana/ aid-stations etc., With the rock-bands playing all along and with a lot of crowd along the way, it was a pretty good race atmosphere

3) Never count on weather… I chose Seattle in hopes of a good weather. But, as luck would have it, I started at temp of 59F and it went to 75 F at finish line… The sun was shining all along without any cloud covers. A big no-no for me. In retrospective, San Diego could’ve been an ideal race for me… But then, last year, it was apparently very hot in San Diego….

4) I started out with a lot of frustration for having run 2 miles and in missing the pacer groups whom I had hoped to follow. With the weather being warm, I just lost my interest in running… As I started out, I decided to throw my timing goal and do a conservative effort. As time went by, I did slow down, to a point where I thought I was willing to either quit half way or do a 4:30 type marathon… Since I had slowed down in the middle, I had enough energy left during the last 6 miles… So, I finished strong…;). .. There were more hills than I had expected. No major ones, the maximum being 2 hills of about 250-300 feet at mile 16/17… But, in general, it was rolling hills all the way along, with a hill of about 100 feet at the 25th mile…

5) I thought the run-less, run-faster program was kind of aggressive. I used to train 40-50 miles for the sacramento marathon. I cut it down to 3 days of running (1 interval, 1 tempo and 1 long run with 2 days of intense cross-training (biking), averaging not more than 33 miles in any given week). I saw big benefits in my speed. I could hold 7:55 type pace for a 21 miler ( my longest run before the marathon). Obviously, that didn’t translate in my marathon performance. But, on the positive side, I did not get any cramps throughout. I recovered very quickly. The day of the marathon, I was already playing with my friend’s kid in the evening, running around… I felt strong… I think, the 3 days of running puts a lot of focus on running performance every time I went out to run, which could be good/bad..:) … It also gave enough time to recover after each run. I will definitely try it for my next marathon too… May be, I will add in a slow recovery run apart from the 3 aggressive days…

That, in nutshell is what happened. Checkout my finish line video in the following link. My bib-number is 5048.

http://www.rnrseattle.com

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 1, 2009 in General, Running

 

Riches to Rags

I was browsing through a newsletter from Schwab and found certain things about retirement and investing that I found rather interesting. I just wanted to capture it in some place. Where else would it be ? Though any of these may not have a significant impact to most of us, it is a good thing to know.

Firstly, about tax implications due to President Obama’s budget. The tax is going to increase from 33% to 36% and from 35% to 39.6% for the top 2 brackets of income from Jan 1, 2011. For all other tax-brackets, it will be the same as before ( single earning less than $171,550 or married filing jointly with an earning of less than $208,850). If you think your income may exceed just a tad bit more than the 3rd bracket, it might put you in a higher tax-bracket. In that case, it is a good idea to invest extra money towards 401K if you are not making full contribution to 401K already. You not only save on your taxes, but have that money grow tax deferred in your 401K. Remember that the 401K contribution will be excluded from your income for tax calculations.

The capital gains will be taxed at 20% from the 15% that exists today (if the family joint income is greater than $250,000), again from Jan 1, 2011. If you have long term investments that you plan to sell, it is a good idea to sell it off before Jan 1, 2011 so that you don’t have to pay the extra 5%. This applies only if you intend to sell of your investments anyway.

I was surprised by a couple of facts that I read about retirement. If you file for bankruptcy, apparently, the creditors cannot come after your retirement accounts. So, point being, if you are already in heavy debt, looks like filing bankruptcy and protecting the retirement account is a good choice than liquidating your retirement account to pay off the debtors. Sounds a bit unethical… But hey, that’s the law..:)… Also, if you have loan from your 401K account (remember the 401K sayings that the interest on a loan towards 401K goes to your account and hence you don’t lose money) and if you lose your job, there is a 60 day grace period after which the loan will be considered a distribution with the penalty deducted. In other words, your loan should be repaid if you quit your job (within 60 days). One of the best alternatives to getting a 401K loan is to get a Home Equity line of credit (HELOC). Not only you can move some of your higher interest credit card debts to this low interest alternative, it also gives tax exemption on the interest paid. Remember that, if you are in the verge of losing a job, it is a good idea to get a HELOC while you still have a job (otherwise, you wouldn’t qualify for a HELOC). If worst comes to it and if you file bankruptcy, your 401K will still be intact… That’s all folks!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 31, 2009 in General, Informative

 

Generation “gap?”

The blog by Saumya on nourish-n-cherish got me thinking. Instead of expressing my thoughts as a mozha-neelam comment, I thought I will blog about it. It is a topic that has been in my mind for a while. The questions are simple and is centered around the current generation of people in comparison with our previous generation. By previous generation, I mean people who were born in 1940s-1950s. Are we, as a community more social and friendly? Are we more selfless in our deeds than them? Are we smarter? Are we flexible and adjusting?

Call me old fashioned. But, in my opinion, our previous generation (I will restrict this to Indians) seem genuinely friendlier and sociable than the current generation. While I can’t miss the touch of hypocrisy and sarcasm sprayed all over in the previous generation, there is a special sense of caring, that is unequaled. I have seen numerous examples of cases where a relative of some kind would be taken care of through their college till they get to work. As I grew up, I’ve never found anyone considering the act of cooking for others to be a chore. Even when an uninvited guest shows up, people used to go crazy about cooking them good food…

My question is not whether the current generation will or will not do what the older generation did? But, I don’t see that as commonly as I used to, before. There could obviously be more reasons… Is it because we are more independent (esp., financially)? Is it because, our importance to just our family has grown exponentially? Is it because, we are wrapped up in a more competitive and expensive world where everyone needs to work to take care of their own family that there is no time for “others”? We do adore Darwin’s theory and tout ourselves as being smarter than the previous generation. Does it mean that, smartness is inversely proportional to being sociable? Is it because, the community has overgrown from being limited to villages or townships to global? Should there be a dilution factor applied as the community size increases? Or, is it just being rational? Can I say that, courteousness superseded rationality in our previous generation… Is it just that the more closer we get to rationality, certain “random acts of kindness” disappeared? All said and done, everyone likes to be treated with kindness and be considered special, at least by a few… If rationality or being smart is what stands in the way, I don’t know if it is a good idea to be rational…. Oops, I have gotten into an infinite loop in analyzing rationality now…;)

 
19 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2009 in From AM-KICKING blog

 

Powerless…

I’ve been reading a lot of news lately. Though I resent the fact that many people are killed in various fights and militant wars throughout the world, I find a strange curiosity to get the updates. I don’t know why.

As people contend about what the futuristic world holds in terms of technology and what not, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fate of innocent people. As militants get their covers under the civilian population, I see that innocent lives are starting to look “disposable”. It has almost become a norm. Though, on one hand, it looks completely ridiculous, I don’t know what solution stays with the countries that have to defend it’s territories and people at large. Consider the terrorist incidents back in India. If one has to make a choice of getting rid of terrorists, is it worthwhile trying to protect a handful of innocent people? Doesn’t it look very subjective? I do realize that, if I had any of my close friend, family or relatives anywhere close to where such incidents happen, I may have a different take on the subject. But, for a government, it looks like the choices are running out. Will such trend go towards a power shift of the so called “protectors”…Is it the real solution to curbing down the terrorists? I don’t know. But, with growing list of terrorist organizations, I think, more and more innocent people are going to be terribly affected.

Another thing that bothers me is that I am getting totally confused with the responsibilities of organizations like UN. What is their real charter? Is it to just issue statements condemning organizations or countries? I think, as organizations like UN look biased and powerless, more and more countries will start doing things on their own. Why am I concerned with all of this? Honestly, I am not, well, may be a little. I realize that I don’t have the faintest clue whatsoever on the realities surrounding people who go through such painful tragedies, and unless I do, my curiosity or concerns about the topic only stays in the confinement of a blog which is mostly based on what the media projects. And, thanks to technology, I am overwhelmed with more and more information that reaffirms how utterly powerless I am…

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 11, 2009 in From AM-KICKING blog

 

New Year !

As every year goes by, there is a part of me that scoffs on what the big deal is? Another part of me convinces that, new years are a great time to reflect on the past. It is like a water break in running. Especially given the shut downs that we’ve been having, it gave me extra time to think about what I did last year. Even less reason not to brood over the past.

Well, if I were to summarize on what I did last year (apart from the usual) in a nutshell is that, I did a lot of running. I ran about 1600 miles over the year, racing 4 half-marathons, 2 full maratons and the relay. I did improve with every event, which kind of fed back to itself making me run even more. Not sure if this trend can continue for long, especially, the coming year. But, I am happy with how it went last year. Shoba and I had a wonderful 3 week vacation, or should I say, hibernation… The start-up I worked for got acquired by Cisco. Not that it matters much to me except till next year. I was just running out of stuff to list…If it is less than 3 items, the word list sounded meaningless to me? Oh, and then, I did bungee jumping during our visit to New Zealand. I know I’ve bored most of you with these facts. But, I am going to repeat it again. My major revelation during our trip to NZ was that, they don’t have any native mammals in the entire country. What it means is that, you can walk all over NZ evergreen forests and you will never see any other animal other than sheeps/deers/stoats and possums… No bears/tigers/lions…Interesting, isn’t it?

As most people, I do have my list of stuff (aka resolutions) to do for the new year. One of them is to start blogging actively (atleast 1 every week). Blogging, in a way, keeps me tuned to information… As a disclaimer, this has nothing to do with me being part of Cisco… Believe me…:)

Anyway, to start with, I was going to blog something about economy. My inspiration came from an interview in NPR (Forum with Paul Saffo). As I started typing the blog, I went back to listen to the audio archive. As I figured, I wouldn’t do any justice whatsoever to the content than the content itself. To give a sneak preview, it is about where we are heading, in terms of economic trends and how factors like global warming, internet revolution, etc., influence it. It was one of the most interesting talk I’ve heard in a long time. Savor it when you find time. I am sure most of you will love it…

Link to Audio Archive of the interview

Happy New Year Y’all !

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 5, 2009 in From AM-KICKING blog

 

Tax the Rich ?

Came across this in a forum… Had to blog…:)

Our Tax System Explained: “Bar Stool Economics”

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten
comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go
something like this:

The first four men (The poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh would pay $7.

The eighth would pay $12.

The ninth would pay $18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the
arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all
such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily
beer by $20.” Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the
first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.

But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they
divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’ They
realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from
everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up
being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be
fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded
to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).

The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to
drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare
their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20,”declared the sixth man. He pointed to
the tenth man,” but he got $10!” “Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth
man. “I only saved a dollar, too It’s unfair that he got ten times more than
I!” “That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back
when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!” “Wait a minute,”
yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The
system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down
and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they
discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of
them for even half of the bill!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how
our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most
benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being
wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start
drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics University of Georgia

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2008 in From AM-KICKING blog, Humor.. or not?, Informative