Sunday, October 11, 2009

De return of Des

So I've had writers block for almost two years now. I used to love writing, and think I still do, and even though I've had enough material to write (with all the stuff that's been happening over the last couple of years), I just haven't gotten around to writing it.

Bad excuse. I got on a reduced work week, so for four months in the past (and a few months in the future, depending on how busy work gets over the next few months) I've been putting in four days a week instead of five.

What would you do with the spare time? The one day a week on a weekday that you've got to yourself? Home improvement? Extra work? Consulting? Setting up a business? Getting on the stock market?

So what I've done so far is think about setting up a solar panel fabrication plant (small scale, low efficiency, lower cost solar panels). I thought this would be a good way to do something interesting while helping people (would be ideally suited to rural areas where electricity transmission isn't really upto reasonable levels), while keeping me busy and employing a few people to get the work done. It's also a very green thing to do. I did a little research on it and found that it would be cost effective, but I've been just too lazy to execute. The excuse I've been using was the lack of funding. Getting space anywhere near home would involve pots of money that I just don't have, which brought on the next plan...

The fact that I'm on a four day work week helps out in that for one weekday, I've got time to get on the markets and see how they're swinging... and they're swinging... I'd get addicted and wind up losing most of the money I have (and probably some I don't) if I didn't put a cap on what I'm putting into the markets, so I decided that if I have money that I can afford to throw, I'll throw it in and see if I can make some more... if I lose it all, I won't feel too bad about it since it was "extra" cash. Enter the 1 lakh cap.

During my purely experimental stage, I managed to pump in the entire amount on stocks that dropped... and they dropped pretty far down. I was left with roughly 70% of the value that I'd put in... in such a situation (where you're sure they're going to go back up), you normally wait. But hang on... this was investing where I wanted to trade! So I decided to up the ante a bit and put in another 100K, only this time, I'd try day trading... managed small profits, went on a holiday to Turkey and saw my "investment" shares pick up like mad. Cashed out as soon as I could (on hindsight, this was probably a mistake since they went up by quite a bit more after that). I was left with 250K and a holiday (mostly) paid for by the markets. I decided then to up the total to 250K on investments and 100K on trading recently - after I realised that annualised, my profits stood at 98%. I don't expect anything like this if I trade one day a week on a regular basis, but a little extra cash never hurt anyone... much...

Okay, so I got carried away. I always do. I lost sight of the goal. I wanted to make a bit of money on the side so I could carry out the plan. But then land is expensive, and this money; although it's not exactly small, is nowhere near enough to cut it. I refuse to gamble more money on a market that goes up and down more on emotion than facts, so what next?

How about using the day off to do what I enjoy the most? Enjoyment? I'm now the sort of person who's not truly happy unless I'm partying as many nights as possible - and a few days as well. I decided to overdo it a bit and wound up pulling late nights every night of the month for a few months now. I've taken 4 days off in the last couple of months or so when I wasn't out drinking at night, and at a friends wedding recently, drinking in the day time wasn't set aside either.

I do enjoy a drink or six, but then I'm not getting the sort of exercise I should be getting. Podgy isn't a word I'd like to be associated with, but at this rate, that's where I'm going to be in a couple of months.

So this one day a week I'm thinking I'll start using for the markets (for a couple of hours) and exercise, to compensate for the wilder portions of my hedonistic lifestyle. It would probably also be a good idea to get my room setup. Having thrown most of the furiture out of here, I think it's time I get off my beanbag and paint my wall or something.

Come to think of it, maybe I should start using the time to get some writing done :-)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

De great infinity

I've been here long enough. There's lots to do, but that will to do it has dropped dramatically over the years (as it invariably does).

I always start new things with a vengeance... then the intensity begins to drop as I realise I can complete it. This applies to just about everything I've ever done (and possibly to everything I'll ever do). Let me give you an example or three. I switched schools relatively regularly in the early part of life; trying to get three kids in the same school at the same time in Delhi couldn't have been very easy for my mom. Every time I shifted schools, I'd be one of the class superstars. Things were new and interesting so I had the thrill of change to spur me on. The same thing happened at college where I started out with the seemingly effortless ability to do well. The marks started tapering off almost immediately because I realised that the subject material was all stuff that I'd learned; exceptions were handled erm... well... exceptionally.

I'd grown up thinking of everything as simple. Getting a machine to do what you wanted (no matter what you wanted it to do) was easy. At some point early in my experience with computers (in the early 80s) I came accross an article on Elisa - the first NLP program. Getting a machine to pretend it was human seemed to me to be the next step, so I started (a few years later - was always really lazy) working on an NLP program, only to realise that I had no idea how humans would react to situations and questions.

A 16 or 17 year old kid standing back and looking at his life and realising that he'd spent so much time understanding machines that he'd neglected one of the more important things in life. Life itself. This scared the living daylights out of me. I wasn't a machine, yet I could write a program to "emulate" me. I was at the time a relatively anal guy (yep... that's the word I'd use now). I had no problems with lending people stuff in college as long as they put them back... in the same place they found them... in EXACTLY the same place that they found them. I'd optimised my life to the extent that if anything was out of place it hurt because it was sub-optimal. At the time I was also neat to the point of OCD.

Then things began to rapidly change. While I was breezing through college, I took time off from talking to machines to actually interact with the scariness of people. I made it a point to get out and meet as many different types of people possible to get an insight into how they work. What they would do given a certain situation, how they'd react to external forces. I tried to change myself in the meantime into something less predictable. Someone yet. I discovered life. I moved over to chaos and (I didn't know the name at the time) the chinese concept of Tao - going with the flow. My neat and tidy room became, in second year, the place that it is now. Clothes thrown in what appears to be a haphazzard manner.

So here I am... drifting through life, allowing all earth shattering decisions to take care of themselves. Every now and then, there's a little push I put in, but life seems to be most enjoyable when you run with it. I'd turned what was an introverted technogeek to an extroverted philosopher. It's sometimes really difficult to get me started on a conversation, but it's usually very difficult to get me to shut up once I start. A mass of confusion topped with rigourous planning of my social calendar.

This story's far from complete... it just keeps going... it's life after all, so I'll publish now and consider part II sometime later... it's been over a month since I started on this post.

Lazy life...