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Is Work-Life balance a mirage for modern day workforce?

I’m writing this while waiting for a flight to head out on a business trip. I will be gone for 5 days, away from home, loving wife and kids. It has been a hectic couple of months for me so far. Traveling, by nature has it’s advantages as it takes you places you might not have been before and opens doors to new people, cultures and experiences. However, at times, it also takes you away from your loved ones as well, which would be a hard thing to do often for many of us.

I guess travel is just one of many things that’s keeping people away from families. In the “new world” many things have changed in terms of how, when and where people work. With the advent of Internet and improved mobile computing experience, while people are getting things done at the speed of light, they are also compelled to take work where ever they go.

While that is the case, there are still many opportunities for people to work at managing their work – life balance. But given the fast, competitive and challenging world, I think it is getting harder and harder for people to be able to do that. I’m rooting and hoping for the day that would let me do all the work that I want to but still help me spend considerable time with the loved ones. I hope that day is not a mirage as I put it in the title of this post.

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My iPad woes

I have been an ardent fan of Microsoft for a long time. Don’t think for a second that I am writing this because I have switched sides or about to. I will continue my fandom to Microsoft despite some of their blunders during the past decade. They have made life easy for a lot of users and developers alike in the 90s, like me, with their innovative and often ridiculed UI rich operating system, applications and tools. I still happen to think that the tools provided by MS make life easy for the developers to build some of the slickest of applications with minimal effort. I know that is debatable but that is my opinion and I am sticking with it.

One of the biggest mistakes, I think, they committed in the last few years is not cashing in on their early entry into the mobile computing. While there are still a lot of handheld devices used across the world for business purposes, from a consumer stand point they missed the bus. Despite that I have been waiting for a long time to find a decent windows based gadget like the iPad, but in vain. So I eventually took the plunge and bought one iPad 2.0, despite having 2 laptops at home.

The primary reason I bought iPad was for it to be my reading and learning gadget. May be that’s two reasons :-). Basically for news, videos, virtual learning so on and so forth. While I knew that Apple has taken a stand not to run flash on their gadgets, I didn’t realize that it would be that big a deal. Fast forward a few months, now I can’t really view any websites that are done in flash. Not only that but I can’t run through some virtual learning classes that some of our vendors have made available for us to enhance our knowledge. This is becoming more and more of an annoying problem as I originally imagined I could lay down on my bed and go through these videos. Now, 50% of my primary purpose(s) is defeated.

If you think about it for a second, it appears really ridiculous how a vendor like Apple can take such a stand. Even more ridiculous is how they can get away with it. While they may have their reasons for it, the decision is hurting two parties the most. One, people like me who would love to use flash content. Two, Adobe. It not only prevents them from expanding their footprint but also brands their product lousy.

So now, I think iPad sucks, with out flash content. But for that, it is still an amazing gadget. While I would love to use it more often, this one big challenge is limiting me from enjoying it to the fullest. I am not sure if this is gonna ever be solved. So, I guess I have to live with it, just like many other decisions I might have made along the way.

Indian Cricket

I have been an ardent fan of cricket since I remember. Being born in India in 70s and getting introduced to cricket at a very young age during the hey days of a world cup win in 1983, the only sport that I knew and played was cricket for a long time. While Diego Maradona inspired us to play football a bit we used to sneak out of class rooms either to watch or play cricket. It doesn’t matter at what level, all we needed was a ball and a flat piece of wood. I still remember days when I used to practice my defense, cover drives and the loft over mid-on for six.

I am watching the world cup final between India and Sri Lanka while writing this. India is in dire straights and will probably lose, while I hope it doesn’t. The thing that inspired me to write is frustration, Ironically. For a country of 1.2 billion people, we have been struggling for a while to win the big one. While I can go on and on and write tomes about all the reasons for not being able to produce a winning team, the one prime reason I think undid all the previous teams is the infighting and all the politics to get into the team and then, once in to stay in the team. While playing for the country is the pride for everyone getting in, money is the reason, in my opinion, thing that will push them to stay in despite being well aware that there is better talent waiting on the wings that can give them better chances.

While Australia has been dominant for the past decade, though there were occasional challengers, India has become the team to beat, off late. I think the reason behind that is the new attitude of the captain being a leader during the periods of stress as well as being fair to the players by giving opportunities for the ones who he thinks will give him a better chance to win. While there are still politics influencing who gets those opportunities, the attitude of the team has changed for good and I am hopeful it stays that way for the years to come. Even if india loses this one, I am sure they will go on and dominate for a while.

Just like any other fan, I am hoping that they will win this one. While I complete and post this entry, a couple of young guns are playing sensibly and keeping India in the chase. Go India.

What is a Life Worth – Part 2 ?

I wrote a blog post about “What Life Is a Life Worth?” some time back.

I was watching a program on TV this weekend about the Deepwater Horizon oil Spill aka. Gulf of Mexico oil spill/BP oil spill. The reporter was interviewing people about the impact the incident had on their lives, the compensation they were being paid by BP through the fund that was setup. BP has suffered probably it’s worst losses in a quarter because of this and probably is paying up the largest amount of compensation ever paid in the history. In this case I think the punishment fits the crime, this incident being the largest oil spill ever. We have all been given vivid details of the magnitude of disaster in terms of no. of deaths, amount of oil spill, lives (human and others) impacted and also the compensation that is being spent in cleaning up the mess and bring things back to normal.

This incident reminded me of another incident that took place in India when I was a kid. It’s dubbed “Bhopal Tragedy“. An excerpt from Wikipedia below:

The Bhopal disaster (also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy) is the world’s worst industrial catastrophe. It occurred on the night of December 2–3, 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in BhopalMadhya Pradesh, India. A leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals from the plant resulted in the exposure of several thousands of people. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Other government agencies estimate 15,000 deaths. Others estimate that 3,000 died within weeks and that another 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.
UCIL was the Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC). Indian Government controlled banks and the Indian public held 49.1 percent ownership share. In 1994, the Supreme Court of India allowed UCC to sell its 50.9 percent share. The Bhopal plant was sold to McLeod Russel (India) Ltd. UCC was purchased by Dow Chemical Company in 2001.
Civil and criminal cases are pending in the United States District Court, Manhattan and the District Court of Bhopal, India, involving UCC, UCIL employees, and Warren Anderson, UCC CEO at the time of the disaster. In June 2010, seven ex-employees, including the former UCIL chairman, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of about $2,000 each, the maximum punishment allowed by law. An eighth former employee was also convicted but died before judgment was passed.

If  you stop and think, what life is worth by comparing the crimes (I think that’s what we should call them given that in both cases a lot of regulations and safety rules have been breached) and the punishment delivered to people and/or corporations, despite taking into effect factors like inflation etc.,  it sounds so ridiculous the way the Bhopal Tragedy was investigated, tried and perpetrators punished.

So I ask the question again.

What is a Life Worth?

How does it change with time, geography, governments, political considerations?

It varies from nothing to invaluable.

That could probably explain why there is migration of people from one geography to another.

I would like to think people would want to live their lives with out being messed with and if indeed some one is harmed, they want their life to be treated invaluable and to be compensated like wise in terms of punishment to the perpetrators and compensation to their loved ones.

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