Protos' Musings

"In the long run men hit only what they aim at" — Thoreau

Archive for the ‘books’ Category

The Months That Were – July/Aug ’06

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July 2006 was a month of very less activity, lots of reading, some great moments, and some heartbreaks. The heartbreaks started with the German team loosing out to the eventual champions Italy, and the final twist came when Italy managed to steal the World Cup. If ever there was a Champion unworthy of the title (when teams like Argentina, Germany and France were around), it was Italy! Of course, they won and they are the champions, and I better keep my mouth shut! :)

As I was saying in the first para, during this month and the next, I managed to read quite a bit (compared to my recent book reading trends). The best of the lot must be the works of Robert M Pirsigthe Zen book (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) and the not-so-famous, but equally good (if not better) second part — Lila. Both have had tremendous influence in my life, and I would advice anyone to give the books a go when they get the chance! The depth and breadth of coverage is quite remarkable.

I should also stress upon the fact that they are not the usual fiction or the fad books, but are categorized under “Philosophy” by the publisher. They are a bit heavy (in terms of pages and theme wise), but are well worth the time invested. I would try to post more about them later on, but for now these two links would do. But suffice to say that the concept of the Metaphysics of Quality (which is explored in the Zen book and given a firm shape in Lila) are simply the best thing I have ever read! But I am sure I wouldn’t mind reading both the books a few more times, time permitting!

In fact, if you are still having a doubt, this is what Joel Spolsky has to say about the book in his famous Book Reviews post:

“Some people’s attitude towards programming is that it’s a nifty way to
pay the bills. For others, that’s not enough… our work is a
significant a part of our lives, and we need a philosophical
understanding to make sense of it. This book goes a long way towards
relating engineering and philosophy”

I am deeply indebted to Joel for making me aware of this book (in 2002), Jiju for referring these gems way back in 2003-04 when I was out to purchase a gift for a friend, and to Raghu, who gave me the thing I appreciate the most as gift: Vouchers to buy books (at my engagement) :). In fact, when I left my previous work, I was asked what I wanted as a parting gift. I told them, I am planning to buy a book. Give me your contribution in cash, I will contribute the rest to pay the bill for some book I had on my mind. Probably, I am just crazy! ;)

Apart from these two seminal works, I also managed to read two more great books: Tuesdays with Morrie and The Alchemist. I also enjoyed the Dan Brown novel Angels and Demons. I recommend A&D to anyone who thought The Da Vinci Code was good! This is the novel in which Brown introduces the character of Robert Langdon, and is quite absorbing in itself. I heard that the movie will be out in 2007.

Apart from this, I had been to Trivandrum and Mahabalipuram during this period, and there were lots of team-treats at work as well. So, in all, I was having a nice time.

The lows during this period include a few days I was not well, Mom suffering from fever and being down for more than 30 days (in three slots of 10 days each over a period of 40 days starting in May and ending in Aug), the countless visits to the Doc and the Apollo for treatment. Mom is doing fine, except for muscle pain in her right leg, that makes her limp while she is walking these days. Docs say that it will take at least couple of months for the muscle pain (induced by Chikungunya that spread like wild fire down south of India during summer) to go away!

Thanks for reading thus far. Have a great week ahead.

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Written by Proto

September 3, 2006 at 21:39 hrs