Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to (Not) Decorate like a Guy

The other day, mom and I went shopping. She spent hours in a store that contained various kitchenware and I spent hours in Forever 21 buying ten dollar tops. Later, she met up with me and showed me a graduation gift that she had bought for someone. Now, I’m pretty bad with buying gifts, but mom is infinitely worse. I looked at the graduation gift and said “Mom, are you seriously buying a silver photo frame for a dude graduating from high school?”

Mom looked confused and replied, “But it’s so pretty!”

I looked at her and said, “He’s going to use that frame to roll his joints on.”
In the end, I made her return that and buy something a little more relevant for a teenage boy.

When it comes to things like shopping, fashion, makeup, hair and various other girly crap, I tend to rely on my girlfriends (actually, I literally have 3 girlfriends who are good at these things…the others are almost as useless as I am). While there are times I wish I had the ability to style my hair or apply concealer to my face such that it hides my glasses, the one thing that I wish I was really good at is interior decorating.

A few months back, I visited my friend's "bachelor pad", and some of the things he did took my breath a bad way. So while I cannot tell you the right way to decorate the inside of your house, I can, with the help of my guy friend, tell you the wrong way to decorate your home.

Here are five simple techniques you should never, ever do while setting up your apartment:
1) Do Not Hang Pictures At An Angle
This is a simple one. When hanging a picture up, make sure it is straight. It's such a simple thing to do. Really, I was amazed at how he managed to fuck this one up.

2) Do Not Tape Paper Towels on the Wall 
Depending on the layout of your apartment, the wall where you mount or place your TV might be very far away from the actual cable plug. I think architects do that on purpose just to screw with our heads. In any case, if you do end up with an ugly, black cable wire going across the floor or ceiling, know that taping paper towels over the wire will not do a great job of hiding the wires. However, placing a lamp so it illuminates the disgraceful job you've done? That's actually a great idea.

3) Do Not Buy Craigslist Furniture 
If you're mad cheap, you will feel the impulse to buy furniture from Cragislist in order to decorate your apartment (I'll admit I did this once). Having no furniture is better than having Craigslist furniture. My friend was so pumped about this twenty dollar chair that he insisted I be the first one to try it out. The minute I sat on it, the back of the chair collapsed and I rolled out of it like an aggravated armadillo. He then proceeded to react like that was completely my fault.  
 4) Do Not Prop Up Pictures With Random Things 
If you're too lazy to even hang a picture up, using several other random things to prop it up might seem like a good idea. However, if you do that, you could end up with a ten dollar mirror from Target propping up a five dollar picture you bought off the streets of New York. But, as always, you can never go wrong with placing a lamp right next to whatever shoddy job you've done decorating.
5) Do Not Be Creepy
This is the pièce de résistance. My friend was super proud of the neon lights that he bought and placed behind his TV. The lights would illuminate a different color as you watched TV in utter darkness (because he spent money on buying neon lights instead of paying his electricity bills). It was the kind of sketchy, cheesy decorating you'd expect from a pimp. I refused to even step into his living room until he turned off those creepy neon lights.  
So, dear readers, I hope you found these decorating tips helpful. I know I did.

And as much as I bashed my friend's decorating skills, if any girl is reading this and is considering him as a potential mate, know that he is actually an amazing guy. Just make sure you decorate the apartment when you move in with him. Oh, and also, you're going to have to do the grocery shopping. His cabinets were so empty, I actually saw tumbleweed roll across the shelves, sorta like in those wild west movies.

To protect my friend's privacy, I've blurred his face

Eh fuck it, here is his face, with everything else blurred. His name is Amol. He sucks at interior decorating.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

An Excerpt from "Doggy Paddle"

Getting this ebook published has been an exciting process. Later, I will share with you some really crappy mock-ups I created for my ebook cover using Paint. All I'll say is, I have deep respect for digital designers and illustrators.

For now, I've included a small excerpt from my book. I hope you like it. Sharing a book with the public is a nerve-wracking process because now that it's out there, you've made yourself vulnerable to everybody's opinions. It almost makes me want to go back to the safe world of blogging where punctuation errors and mediocre content are easily forgiven.

This excerpt is a section from a Chapter about Job Interviews. In the chapter, I cover various types of interviews like phone screens, technical interviews and in-person interviews. This specific excerpt talks about the crazy interviews, usually given by companies like Google or Apple, that ask mind-bending questions like "How many windows are there in the city of Seattle?"

Here we go:

The Weird Annoying Interview

These are the Microsoft or Google type interviews where some smartass walks in wearing jeans, mocks the stiff suit you have on, and starts asking real asshole-type questions like “Why are manhole covers round?” or “How many poppy seeds are in a poppy seed muffin?”

There is an actual purpose to these seemingly random questions. They test your creativity. The good news is that college is where you are usually at the peak of your creative skills. The bad news is that you will still need to prepare to demonstrate your creativity. I had gotten an interview with Microsoft during campus recruiting. I walked in and, sure enough, there was an Indian-version of a Bill Gates sitting behind the desk, looking at me through his rimless glasses, wearing worn jeans. As I spoke about my technical skills and development experience, he looked more and more unimpressed. Finally, exasperated, he said let’s take a different approach. He looked around, found a plastic cup and then asked me how I would go about designing a cup such as this. I stared at the cup, realizing this small piece of plastic was going to be the demise of my potential career at Microsoft. I paused for a very long time and then replied, “I would design it such that the cups are easy to stack on top of each other.”

He looked at me and then said, “Which plastic cups have you encountered in the past that you’ve had difficulty stacking on top of one another?”

“I’m not familiar with cups, actually. I usually drink straight from the bottle,” I quipped.

He looked even more displeased, if that was possible.

“What else?”

“It should be made from a recyclable material.”

“That’s excellent! What else?”

“I don’t know. Leave me alone.”

Alright, I didn’t say the last part, but that was how I felt. I was panicking at this point and counting the sweat droplets running down my back. I swore to myself I’d never drink from a plastic cup again. I wanted to run out of the room and rip apart all the plastic cups in the world. I wanted to pile them up, set them on fire, and perform a tribal dance around it. I wanted to—



“Well, thank you for coming. We’ll be in touch.”

No you won’t, you asshole. “Okay, thank you.”

To a large extent, you can actually prepare for these interviews. The first thing to do is ensure that your foundation is very strong. A question that often comes up during Google interviews is: “Explain a database in three sentences to your 8-year old nephew.”

If you take more than five sentences to explain this, you will risk rambling and exposing your lack of understanding for a very core concept. This question can be applied to various other topics, too:

Explain Manufacturing to an 8-year old.


Explain the Stock Market to an 8-year old.
Ensure you understand fundamental concepts and learn to explain each concept succinctly and clearly. And above all, stay calm and collected. If a question stumps you, take the time to think it through.