Humor: “The Anonymous Shredder by” Musafir

It took me years to comprehend and digest why people function so differently in the corporate world as compared to where I was coming from. Whether we like it or not, corporate world is not the real world. In order to ensure you don’t take too much time in finding your footing in this space, I’m sharing with you some insider unwritten rules of the game. This comes from my experience of working with top ten fortune 500 companies for nearly fifty years.

Those who have worked in the corporate world know that it is a kind of jungle, where there are only two ways to survive. First, take risk and get yourself noticed and secondly, hide in anonymity. The first option is easy, therefore, most of us follow that. They either survive; get to the top, or become road kills in the race of unachievable. After all, it is not easy to keep on the right side of one’s boss. It is very uncomfortable to anticipate their every whim, and laugh at their pathetic jokes.

The second route of survival is being anonymous which is not easy either. You have to be a cockroach like Shreedher to do that.

During a routine reorganization at our workplace, my boss and I were going through the org chart. My boss stopped me and asked, “Who is this Shreedher guy? He is supposed to be an employee here, but I don’t see any phone number or cube number assigned to him. Go and find him.”

Not finding a trace of Shreedher in our office area, I decided to take the help of the Personnel Manager, Miss Heart Warmers.

“Do we have any employee working for us named Shreedher?” I asked her.

After looking through the names she asked me, “You mean Shreedher Supersad?”

“Sounds like him.”

“Well, he is a male and was employed five years ago as a manufacturing engineer. Why? Did he die or something?”

“I don’t know Miss Heart Warmers? We are just trying to locate him.”

Exhausting our search, we decided to look in the basement. Suddenly, I heard a sneeze coming from behind a pile of cardboard boxes. I went there and found a man sitting at a desk holding a shredder.

“Who are you?” I asked

“Oh I am Shreedher Supersad,” he answered.

“How long have you been hiding here?” I asked.

“Not hiding. I work here since the day I was hired,” he chirped.

I took him to my boss. My boss asked him, “What do you do?”

“I shred papers,” Shreedher replied.

“You are a manufacturing engineer. Why do you shred papers?”

“My first boss called me Shredder instead of Shreedher and assigned me the task of shredding all the old reports and documents. That’s why.”

“Why didn’t you correct him?”

“If the boss keeps calling you by the wrong name, you should change your name to match the one he is using. One should never attempt to correct his boss.”

“What do you shred now?”

“Whatever I find around me”

My boss was so confused that he assigned him to work under me.

Next morning, I brought him into my office and said, “I want to bring you to the regular work life where you’ll find windows and sunshine. You have been suffering in a claustrophobic environment for too long,” I suggested.

“No, I like the basement. I want to stay there,” pleaded Shreedher.

“But why?” I asked

“I am afraid that some guy in a three-piece suit is going to walk in, slap an anniversary pin on me, and tell me that I am fired. That’s why.”

“Listen Shreedher, You’ve been warming the bench too long. You are an engineer. I am going to assign you a real job. Our plant in Kokomo, Indian is having frequent machinery and equipment breakdowns. I want you to go there and do a reliability and maintainability study.”

Shreedher started trembling and said, “I am afraid of walking into a manufacturing plant.”

“Listen Shreedher, you have to do some real work. If you don’t, I’ll have to take some action.”

The next day Shreedher came to work, but was not speaking a word. I knew that he used to have vocal cords, but they suddenly died.

So, I took him to Miss Heart Warmers. She put Viral on disability leave.

“We value the wellbeing of our employees. You gave him too much stress that is not right. You need to create a congenial work environment for our employees,” Miss Heart Warmers lectured me.

On Shreedher’s return from disability after three months, I decided to leave him alone and assigned him his old job of shredding papers.

Soon after that I accepted another assignment in the corporation. About fifteen years later after my retirement, the company hired me as a consultant in my old facility. Meanwhile, the company went through bankruptcy and restructure. Thousands of employees were let go.

One day I went to the basement of my old office for nostalgia sake. I heard someone breathing under the piles of cardboard boxes. On my approach, Shreedher jumped out of the pile.

“Shreedher, are you still here?” I asked in shock and amazement.

“Yes, he squeaked.”

“So, you survived all the turmoil and bankruptcy of the company?”

“Yes, when you lay low, the storms pass over you.”

“What do you do now?”

“Same old, I shred papers. After all, they call me the Shredder for nothing.”

“Yes, you do your work and do the best shredding anyone can do. I’ve learned a lot about the art of anonymity from you. When I’ll write my next book on corporate survival, I’ll have a chapter on anonymity dedicated to you.”

We hugged and parted our way.
July 18 humor 2

Advertisements

Book Review: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos Author: Jordan B. Peterson

Jordan Peterson says nothing in his book, “12 Rules for Life” that has not been told before. His maxims can be summed as: “Pursue what is meaningful, not merely what is immediately expedient. Stand up straight and face the world with courage and confidence. Get your own life in order before you go out and try to save the world. Treat yourself like a person whom you are responsible for. Tell the truth.”

The very fact that the book is the best seller currently, tells us that we all needed to hear them again as a refresher course in life. Peterson expounds on those 12 rules in twelve different chapters. He weaves nice stories to establish premises before coming to the conclusion. Though an interesting read, many a time his stories do not relate to the conclusions he draws.
I particularly like the first chapter of the book where he compares human neurophysiology to that of the lobster, while making the point that we exist in hierarchies that are at least partly explicable as evolutionary patterns. His advice is then to “stand up straight”, following the example of the body language of dominant lobsters.

In this era when women’s rights and issues are dominant, Peterson draws attention to society shaming males and looking at masculinity only in pathological sense. He speaks against the movement of devaluing fatherhood and other male paternal qualities.

His message can be summarized as realizing personal responsibility, meaning and purpose should be a central part of life’s journey regardless of the outcome.

-Reviewed by Musafir
12 rules

 

 

 

Perspective: Being Wealthy by Musafir

‘If you’re so smart, why aren’t you wealthy? A friend asked me a long time ago.

What do you mean by being wealthy? I questioned.

After some thought, he answered, “Being wealthy means able to afford flying in the first class, owning a yacht and a private jet, having a mansion in the most affluent neighborhood, affording membership in a country club and never having to worry about money.

That’s quite a lofty standard to be called wealthy, so I did my own research on the subject. I found out that defining ‘wealthy’ was as esoteric as defining ‘God’ or say, finding ‘meaning of life.’ Everyone has his/her own definition of “wealthy.” Some say it’s $1 million, others say $100 million. Some say it means making more than your brother-in-law. Others say it means not having to work without robbing a bank.

A survey from UBS shows that most investors say “wealthy” means $5 million—with at least $1 million of that in cold, hard cash. And yet almost half also said that being wealthy was about enjoying life’s experiences and being able to afford what you want.

According to The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of American’s Wealthy, a book by Stanley and Danko, it’s a simple calculation based on one’s net worth.
1. Multiply your age times your realized pretax annual household income from all sources except inheritances. Divide by ten. This, less any inherited wealth, is what your net worth should be.
2. For example, if you are forty-one years old, make $143,000 a year, and have investments that return another $12,000, you would multiply $155,000 by forty-one. That equals $6,355,000. Dividing by ten, your net worth should be $635,500. If you are in the top quartile for wealth accumulation, you are wealthy. That is, if you exceed $630,754.

The above formula is not very convincing to me. I think it’s more a matter of perspective. It depends on whether you’re judging yourself against your neighbors, your fellow citizens, or the entire world’s population. Just imagine this, just 62 people in the world have the same wealth as the poorer half of humanity. These 62 people are very, very wealthy, to be sure, but it’s also true that the global bottom half is desperately poor. And for that reason, who really counts among the wealthy — the top 100, the top 1 percent, the top 10 percent? It gets very complex.

According to Newsweek survey it was once the case that with $1 million in the bank, you’d be considered wealthy by most. But no longer. According to research by American bank Charles Schwab, that benchmark has risen, and you now need at least $2.4 million to be considered wealthy. The $2.4 million required to be considered wealthy is 30 times the $80,000 net worth of the average American household, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

As I said earlier, it’s a matter of perspective. Simple sign of a wealthy person should be those who don’t have to worry about money or those who will never run out of money for his/her needs. So, being wealthy is also related to one’s needs.

In Hinduism Wealth is considered God’s eternal force. All the wealth of the universe arises from God through her actions only (Goddess of wealth is Luxmi). Wealth has numerous forms. Some of them are gross and some very subtle. The wealth of God manifests in creation in diverse ways as beauty, name, fame, status, light, success, victory, peace, happiness, strength, knowledge, wisdom, harmony, vigor, virtue and so on. All divine qualities such as truthfulness, non-injury, absence of anger, renunciation, compassion, etc., are collectively called divine wealth (daiva sampatti).

From a standpoint of life, wealth can certainly be measured in a much more profound ways than just how much money someone has made. So, my friend was right in questioning, ‘If you’re so smart, why aren’t you wealthy?wealth

Observation: “Missing the Forest for the Trees” By Musafir

 There seems to be an insatiable urge in our contemporary society to bask in five minutes of fame. This social disease compels us to record everything that’s going on around us. One can go to the Grand Canyon and find more people taking pictures than observing the grandeur of the gorge. You can join the crowd and visit the Eiffel Tower, and you will see hundreds furiously photographing the tower from every angle rather than taking a good look at it. At the zoos we seem more interested to record the animals than notice their beauty or behavior.

It gets worse during marriage receptions at least the one that I attended recently. The wedding ceremony concluded with the groom kissing the bride, nervously and awkwardly, but at the multiple photographers’ insistence they had to reenact the scene a few times more. Toasts had to be repeated, as were some witty remarks by the groom’s cousin, all at the behest of the avid photographers. I thought I detected a slight look of relief on the couple’s face as their car finally took them away from the guests – and the photographers.

No doubt the popularity of social media has heightened the trend. No private or social event goes unrecorded and then promptly reported in Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or SnapChat. Every birthday cake, wedding dress and reunion buffet is duly splashed in serial photographs of dubious focus and dismal composition. Probably bakers are baking cakes, designers are sketching dresses and hosts are planning parties with the resulting photos firmly in mind.

Why does one take photos? You take a photo to aid your recall. You take a photo of your child so that you can look at it years later and remember how she looked as a baby. You take photos of your sunset gondola ride, for you love to think of your glorious summer in Venice even while you are freezing in Duluth, Minnesota. The album brings back charming memories.

The other reason one takes photos is to share experiences. We send photos of a wedding or birthday to your cousin who couldn’t attend either. You make sure that Grandma gets to see snapshots of the reunion her gout did not let her attend. Were you to get to the peak of Everest, you may share with the world the unique view you beheld. But those have a purpose. The purpose should not be instant fame by displaying them on social media.

Is this what is spurring the tendency to shoot and publish virtually everything? It seems so. Aside from the scourge of selfies, which are nearly always an eyesore, many pictures are of I-and-the-Whitehouse variety that leave us in little doubt which of the two objects is truly important. Perhaps we all crave a measure of immortality, and leaving a visual imprint on Facebook pages is some people’s way to grope for it.

A few years ago, I visited Louver in France. Looked like most of the visitors wanted to see Mona Lisa.  I stood mesmerized for a long time, watching and wondering: What is she thinking? When I came out of trance, I took a shot of the painting, and meditated on it on my way back home. Seeing and snapping photos were discrete actions, distinct in time and purpose. Shooting did not take away from a ‘mindful’ immersion in the painting itself.

But there is a price for this. Looking back, it makes me conscious of what we lose when we start snapping photos the moment we see something interesting: we really don’t see what is important. We care more about how the photograph will make us more important in eyes of our friends and acquaintances.

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for God By Musafir

When I was younger I often used to debate in my mind whether God created us or we created the concept of God. After maturing I came to the conclusion that whoever or whatever created all of us is God because it’s beyond anyone else’s ability to create, maintain and destroy the entire universe and beyond. I didn’t need to be a theologian or a savant to know that.
I also spent some time reading about the concept of God as described in three most populous religions in the world, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. I found stark similarities in the concept of God in all those religions. However, I also found that those beliefs were not above contentions and contradictions.
God in Christianity is the eternal being who created and preserves all things. There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, the messenger who is considered the son of God.
However, the above statement has always been debated by different scholars, branches of Christianity and schools of thoughts. The concept of God is different in the Old Testament versus the New Testament. Later, the religious scholars put their heads together to abate and reconcile the differences.
Another controversy (that was later reconciled by the scholars and religious councils) was about the concept of trinity, Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Some followers of Christianity considered them as three different entities. Later it was decided that it was the same God in three persons.
The differences about the concept of God still exist. For example, Mormons believe (According to Joseph Smith) that God was once a man on another planet before being exalted to Godhood. Many Christians cite The Bible in claiming that Jesus was God.
In the religion of Islam, belief in Allah is the single most important tenet. The Muslim name for God is “Allah,” which is simply Arabic for “the (al) God (Ilah).” Muslims believe that Muhammad was Allah’s chief servant and messenger.
I find Islam (submission) easy to comprehend. The concept of Allah never changes in Islam. Every Muslim child and adult clearly understands the concept of one God no matter where on earth that person resides. There has been no deviation or reconciliation in God’s concept in Islam. According to one Islamic scholar, Allah’s will “is all we have, and we have it in perfection in the Quran
I am a Hindu. According to Hinduism there is one God, the supreme spirit, called Brahman. Brahman has many forms permeating in the entire universe. Most Hindus believe that Brahman is present in every person as soul. It is also called the atman. Brahman encompasses everything and all phenomena. Brahman is one, without a second (Ekam evadvitiyam).
The Vedas are the earliest Holy book of the Hindus. The Vedas conceptualize Brahman as supreme. In the Upanishads (appendices to Vedas), God has been described as Sat-cit-ānanda (truth-consciousness-bliss) and as permanent and of highest reality.
Hinduism allows its followers to worship God in many forms such as nature (wind, fire, etc.) and devas (divinities), thus it is misconstrued as polytheistic.
All religions believe in the existence of only one God who created the world; who is all-powerful and sustains everything. All religions including Christianity, Islam and Hinduism worship the same God in different names such as God, Allah and Brahman. They are different but similar.

(The writer is not a theologian. If you want to contradict, correct and/or educate him, you are very welcome to do so.)

“Trade War: The Sky Is Falling Down, Again” By Musafir

 

The sky is falling down again and Chicken Little is running for cover. This time it is the Trade War. The American industry will be destroyed and the Americans will suffocate under the burden of indirect taxes because the Chinese and the European gods are furious and breathing fire on us wanting to retaliate and impute us. Oh Boy! Didn’t I hear this before?

On Thursday, March 1, 2018, President Trump announced tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, promising that they would protect U.S. producers “for a long time.” The media pundits have been busy predicting grave economic consequences for the US economy as a result of Mr. Trump’s announcement. The news channels can’t get over their indefatigable coverage of retaliation from China and Eurozone. The economists are insatiably predicting apocalypse now (as usual). The Wall Street indices plunged by 1,100 points in days following the above announcement.

Relax! Don’t panic yet. Think for yourself; do some research. I did. What happened when Mr. Trump slapped hefty tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines from China on January 24, 2018? Despite the doomsday predictions by the media and economists alike, China lowered the price of washing machines to compete in the U.S. market and decided to build the solar panels here on the U.S soil. How soon do we forget!

First of all, China and Eurozone are no Mother Teresa. They have been taking advantage of the USA’s generosity for years without reciprocating despite America’s cry in wilderness and now they are crying foul again. Let’s examine the facts:

USA normally sets import duties between 5 to 12% which includes imports from China. In contrast China levies 13% tariff on food and 18 to 30% on industrial goods and electronics imported from the U.S. Eurozone places 6.4% tariff on industrial and 16.1% on food items coming from the U.S. India has put 100% duty on Harley Davidson exported from Wisconsin and charges 60% duty on auto parts. USA charges 0% on motorbike imports from India. The maximum import fee charged on all Indian goods doesn’t exceed 6%. Brazil and Japan have similar stories. That’s a topic for another day. (Sources: Chinaimportal.comExport.GovChina-briefing.comcommers.gov)

Fear mongers have been spreading the rumor that import duties proposed by Mr. Trump will add indirect tax to the U.S. consumers. Yes, to some extent! Soda and beer cans will cost one cent more and automobile will cost on average $45 to $145 more depending on the model. That’s peanuts compared to how many steel and aluminum industry jobs it will save. Nothing is totally free in this world.

If China and the Eurozone decide to go on trade war with the USA, they can’t win. The U.S. economy remains the largest in the world in terms of GDP. The $19.42 trillion U.S. economy is 25% of the gross world product. USA is the greatest spender in the world outpacing the rest by a wide margin. USA’s GDP per capita is $57,638 compared to Eurozone’s per capita of $39,100 and China’s $6,333. Who’d the world like to do business with without affecting their own economy? Go figure!

The Eurozone unemployment rate is 9.4% while the USA is inching towards full employment. China being a communist country, their figures are always dubious. Additionally, China is losing its competitive advantage quite fast. Chinese labor is getting more expensive. Consulting firm Oxford Economics estimated recently that China’s unit labor costs were just 4% lower than those in the U.S. It’s now cheaper to pay factory workers in Japan than in China, per unit of output (Source: www.bloomberg.com). In case you have not been paying attention, Mr. Xi Jinping just became a lifelong dictator of the Chinese people so that he can avoid the wrath of his countrymen in coming days. Just the other day, the Europeans were going gaga on the prospects of China replacing the USA as the new moral leader of the world. “Lord, what fools these mortals be.” (Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

The US Commerce Secretary, Mr. Wilbur Ross summed it up succinctly, “American employees have borne the brunt of all the imported steel and aluminum that’s been coming in. Corporate America might complain, but the president is taking up the banner of Mr. and Mrs. America.”

(The writer is not an economist. If you want to contradict, correct and/or educate him, you are very welcome to do so.)

A nation cannot claim to be advanced without providing mass transportation to its people

mass transit

My friend Joe decided to cut back to one car in retirement because the cost of operating an extra vehicle was very expensive. One day Joe went across the border to buy his medicine since that was 65% cheaper in Canada. While returning home, Joe met with an accident that kept him stranded in Detroit. Joe’s wife could not pick him up since they did not have an extra vehicle. Joe and his wife bought a second car as a backup for unexpected events. They pay close to $10,000 a year on car loan, insurance and registration which takes a toll on their retirement income.

Our cleaning lady, Brenda lost her income for four months this year because her car became inoperable and she could not afford another vehicle. Recently Brenda bought a used car after receiving her tax return from the IRS which she used towards down payment for the vehicle. Though Brenda is back to work now, her automobile payments (including insurance, gas and repairs) don’t leave her much to live on. She has moved with her daughter to afford a living.

On a brutally cold winter evening, I found Duane walking on I-75 in the middle of nowhere almost frozen to death. He had gone to Flint from Pontiac for a job interview borrowing his aunt’s car. The car broke down and no one would give him a ride back. He had already walked ten miles and had another twenty to go. I dropped him to his place and saved his life.

Americans in metro areas are dependent on automobiles due to the absence of mass transportation. This situation necessitates them to have automobiles for every member of their family. In addition, automobiles contribute more than half of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons emitted into our air causing global warming.

Some folks argue that mass transit is not practical because of the suburban sprawl which is designed to provide personal space to all individuals. I agree, but there are many folks like Joe, Brenda and Duane who would like to curb car use for economic and environmental reasons. I personally prefer to use mass transit for going to the airport, medical appointments or downtown events. Others could use that for commuting to work and going to schools. The fact remains, “if you build them, they will come.”

As of today, transit in major American cities does not exist with the exception of New York, Boston, Washington DC and San Francisco. America’s dependence on its automobiles is reinforced by a shortage of alternative forms of transport. The Congress and the President are not doing anything about this either. The government is paralyzed due to partisanship. Unfortunately, the American public seems to care more about same-sex marriage, abortion rights, and transgender bathrooms than mass transit and infrastructure. This may be due to years of social engineering by Hollywood and media. Whatever be the truth, it’s time for us and our leaders to address real issues in the upcoming election instead of dwelling on futile pursuits. If not, we’ll be stuck in the same rut.

 

First blog post

Friday Fun: If you have time, don’t waste others’ – Unknown

Hey! It’s Friday and may of you may be attending parties for a good time.Beware when someone approaches you with questions like, “What is the meaning of life?” That is a red flag right there. He or she is just trying to show intellectual prowess by poking holes in yours. If confronted, simply suggest that person to do a Google search and leave you alone.

Another absurd question those lunatics often ask is,” Do you know why were you sent to this earth?” Recognize the warning sign right there! People ask this question when they feel inadequate and worthless about themselves. Let’s try to get those people back on track by giving a tit for tat answer: “I was sent here randomly and accidently. That’s why! Did your parents design you genetically by choosing a particular sperm and egg so that you could become a menace to the society and nuisance to others?”

Recently a flaky confronted me with “How do you want to be remembered after you die?”

“First of all this untimely and uncalled for question does not establish you as an intellectual or an intelligent person. Secondly, I don’t care about being remembered after I am gone So, may I enjoy my life without you?” I was at my wit’s end.

Once a dippy asked me, “If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?” That’s it! That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. “First of all, only a screwball will give any advice to a newly born. I may give advice to the newborn’s parents instead to keep their child away from eccentrics like you,” I replied.

So, keep away from them. Please call me if someone asks you, “Who am I?” “What is the nature of reality?” “How far east can I go before heading west?” I will come to the rescue and give such a person a free ride to the loony bin. They need to be isolated al pronto.