Email signature quote

In the era where most people check their office mails on their phone, selectively screen it based on the subject line/sender’s name are the email signature quotes relevant?

When most people don’t believe the signing their name at the end of the email is relevant, will anyone bother to read the signature?

You are paid to do your job, not open up a parish. Why on earth will someone quote from Bible/Geeta/Buddhism preaching and try to unsettle someone from a different faith? Worse some people use quotes to preach morality to the sender. What they don’t realize is that people don’t like to be corrected

Geeks: Some quotes like “There are 10 kinds of people 1 who ere are 10 kinds of people, 1 understand binary and 1 who does not” only revel that the sender is a geek, nerd or a socially awkward person. Hence it is sometimes important to see what your signature reveals about you.

Funky cartoons & multi-color quotes: Dilbert is sometimes considered acceptable but only if you are sending to your peer group and in-office social groups. Such messages if send outside the organization or to someone you have never met, better rethink your strategy.

Self-improvement: It is OK for a guy with an anger issue to put up a poster like “think before you react” in his cabin or on the fridge or anywhere else to serve as a reminder to mend his actions. However putting this in an email signature could mean only one of the two things. Firstly, you are preaching the recipient and highlighting err in their ways (which nobody likes) or advertising to everyone the err in your ways and creating a negative bias against you.

In short in today’s digital world people (even those sitting in the same office) rarely get to meet each other in person. This lack of physical clues has only aggravated the human’s need to put a picture to the conversation they have. Hence people often like to read/re-read emails and in absence of much information build a false first impression of you even before they meet you.

All said and done, in my first company, a senior guy Venu had a powerful quote. “Success is not created by cutting edge technology, but by solving client’s problems.” He single handedly steered the entire startup away from pursuing academic research and speeding up the quest to make a minimum viable product and launch it soon. If you have a mission in life/office: what better way than to incorporate in every mail that you send out. If your sub-ordinates and peers read it long/often enough… some might incorporate it in life. It is like a contagious smile in an otherwise emotionless office-space.

Depression Quest

The first hypothesis of economics is that Human beings are rational creatures that seek to maximize their utility. The word economics itself means how to maximize the output from a limited set of resources/tools that you begin with. However human beings are not rational creatures, at least not all the time.

Everyone is bound to get into a low phase in their life where they feel depressed. Remember it is not a disease unless you suffer from chronic depression or it occurs very frequently. During this depression phase, the whole world goes upside down. Some people withdraw from the social life and alienate themselves from their friends. Some get into a lethargic mode, others into a self-destructive path of excess. What is worse is that your partner often does not understand why you are behaving in the way you do.

Some partners try to boss around with a hope that you snap out of it. What they don’t realize is that it only makes the depressed person angry and irritated. Some people just skip all interactions with you for a week or more with a hope that one could recompose themselves in this free time. Little they realize that being left alone for long periods only aggregates the problem.

The game is a nice story line based interactive game allowing the users understand how a depressed person thinks, acts and functions. It is a little bit too verbose and involves a lot of reading for those addicted to flash/mobile based games, but worth a shot for someone battling with the dilemma. Best part it is free and has no ads.

Vaginal Sculpture

I was watching “Everybody loves Raymond” season 6 episode 5. In its raw sense of humor, Marie made this giant statue of a female vagina which everybody except Debra thought was abstract art. Now should one blame the artist for creating this work or the patron for the narrow point of view?

vaginal sculpture

However this opens up a different question. “La Fin Du Topless Sur La Plage?” French Elle 2014 (End of toplessness in French Beaches?). A common social phenomenon of topless sun-bathing, much like community heated steam baths in the rest of the world is on the decline because people link it with feminist movement. Sometimes we have to attach a context to our depictions. The same dress in different social & cultural situations will exuberate different messages. Should you judge it from the displayer’s point of view or from the cultural & emotional point of view of the observer?

Moral police is not always right. Take Kareena Kapoor’s movie Chameli. The same 5m long drape that covers you from head to toe can reveal your identity from a trashy prostitute to a cultured noble woman. Jeans & western tops worn by most college girls in contrast are plain and non-descript. Should the BJP goons manhandle the girls or their celibate cadre for having a dirty mind?

The definition of what is art and what is porn has changed over time. Forget Khajrao, any old temple in any part of India would have topless deities, and depictions that are too sensational even for today’s actress. People pour milk over the Shivling which is nothing more than act of copulation cast in stone. However they never arouse wrong feelings or thoughts. M.F. Hussain’s goddess Lakshmi was vandalized but nobody is etching these stone sculptures. Why?

Who is polluting the young mind? In school, we were administered Rorschach Inkblot Test. The psychiatrists in my school used to say that these are abstract random patterns of dye and the mind sees what they want to see or obsessed with. Sex deprived adults and psychopaths will only see vivid sexually stimulating imagery, while an innocent child will see an animal face or a scene from the fairy tale. Should one chastise the artist for creating the provocative inkblots or the psychiatrist for distributing it to students or the student for linking it with porn? Sometimes (not always) abstract art is like the cloud in the sky or the smoke from the chimney. People are free to draw their own conclusions.

Why do men cheat?

1987 movie “Moonstruck” had an odd question being asked repeatedly “Why do men chase more than one woman?”

I thought the winning answer would be: “Deep down all men are little boys who like to be bad.” They are never satisfied by one and wanted the whole herd for themselves. No wonder the motto of many whatsapp studs are “Text her to dates and into bed.” All they need is a girl’s phone number. They will carefully and scientifically share jokes, funny pictures in a hope of a response. The second they get a smiley, lol or any response back, they will take it to the next level… then next and then next… faster than any exponential graph.

Some even try to hide behind religion, history, science and biology. They say monogamy & marriage is an aberration, a selfish parish ritual to treat women like chattel. Well either you believe in this and shun marriage/committed relationship or you should brand yourself a liar and a cheat. Let us not try to use logic, morals into getting a free pass to cheat and sow one’s wild oats.

The director’s response was “Because they fear death.” It had nothing to do with “As time passes we tend to feel unappreciated and taken for granted by our spouse.” It is not liked with strained relationship in the bedroom. It has more to do with mortality and some twisted logic which makes the men believe that they are young if they are in company of young women.

Not every man who cheats is looking for sex. Many of them just like the thrill of wooing/courtship. Just sharing a few lighter moments with someone helps them feel alive and rekindle the missing joy in life. Some people use chatrooms for anonymous therapy. Allows them to share their deepest thoughts, fantasy and desires without the threat of revealing ones identity. Purist are still debating if this amounts to adultery or not, but some people feel closer to their chatfriends that anybody else in real life.

Some people on the other-hand like to post their pictures online, put cool raunchy tags just to get attention. Not only will they depict themselves cooler & happier than what they really are. Editing pictures to show that they are slimmer, with fuller hair is not uncommon. Most do it on facebook, but some do it in dating sites (or in normal social media but ensure that their real-life friends and family are not connected).

I don’t know which one of the two rationales is right, but what I do know is that technology is making it dangerous as well as convenient at the same time. Video calls, smart phones, texts allow two people to have a conversation without the eavesdropper to be any wiser. It also makes a rendezvous easier to schedule in real time. However online identity can be easily tracked and incidents like Ashley Madison hack can ruin those who went astray.

Mantri| double your investment in three years

Repost from the original

Are you an Idiot? Well Mantri developers think that you are.
Well 100% returns over 3 years is definitely eye-catching and I could not resist reading the 4 full page insert by them in the Times of India on 25th August 2015.What the property documents on verification says a very different story.
Here are the few things that I observed.
1. Since the down payment is only 10%, A 100L property being sold back at 110L after three years is a blip for me, 3% returns on under construction real-estate does not interest me. But then the company thinks it is a windfall for its investors.
2. Double the money in 3 years is 26% compounded returns not 33%.
3. How can an investment be a low risk investment if the company is not ready to include the guaranteed buy-back in the contract?
4. In fact the contract has terms like 6 months’ notice has to be given to the company if the individual so that mantra will find a buyer on their behalf. This is disclosed nowhere in the advertisement, also the letter (not notarized, not stamp duty paper) has no provision of what will happen if there are no buyers? In fact Mantri will be charging a brokerage on it
5. Everybody knows how much leveraged (laden with debt) these real estate developers are. So this scheme is no more than a ruse to transfer the debt and liability from their books to yours.
6. The buyback price does not compensate for the registration, documentation and other miscellaneous charges that one is expected to shell out. In fact since your down payment is only 10% of the property value, these prices are substantial.
7. The breakup of the project is 10% downpayment, 60% loan via PNBHFL (interest to be paid by builder) and 30% on possession. Am I a margin trader that will take an expore 10X of the investment for a measly 3% returns?
8. Finally, the prices that they have quoted for these projects are ridiculously high for the remote properties.
There are some schemes that just are meant to prove that the builder thinks you are an idiot. The regulators turn a blind eye so it is up to the individuals and their advisors/consultants to help them navigate the waters successfully.

Marketing Fear| A stitch in time saves nine

Repost from the original

We live in a world where the car mechanics only talk about the number of frivolous upgrades that the car owners buy. No of unnecessary repairs/replacements they are able to push it through the client’s wallets. The hospitals evaluate doctors based on number of pricy diagnostics they refer, no of specialist consults and expensive branded medication (that are pushed by sales reps) they prescribe. Lawyers are no different, they are like psychiatrists. Once they get a hang of the patients inner-most fear, they leverage it to their maximum advantage. Infact sometimes I feel that the whole world is out to get you and exploit your vulnerability.

Is it healthy, is it ideal? I don’t know, but I know for sure that sometimes we build up mechanisms which do more harm than good. Most people procrastinate visiting their doctors esp. dentist till it is absolutely necessary. Yes there is naturotherapy, body does heal itself, but over the years what I have realized esp. the poor sometimes wait till they are inches away from death before they make their first doctor’s call. As a result the chances of recovery becomes remote. What could be a cured by a couple of pills and some bed rest requires a complex surgical procedure. A car is no different, we wait till a breakdown, or red check engine light or repeated reminders from the service company for annual checkup before we turn our cars in. For our property, there are so many steps if taken timely could help us limit our exposure. However we often wait till a notice is served before we react.

Sometimes the fear of getting cheated, taken advantage off makes things worse. All we need is a trustworthy source that rather than exploit our vulnerability help us cover our tracks and limit our exposure. Is it too tough to ask?

Renault Duster: Petrol vs Diesel.

How do you choose between different fuel variants of the same model of the car?

  1. Driving experience:
    1. Just check if you are doing apples to apples comparison. Some times in order to price it economically for taxi segments, some companies come up with an underpowered diesel base variant. Like Renault has a 85PS diesel, 100 PS petrol and 110 PS Diesel (sports variant). Higher power means better acceleration and riding experience.
    2. Turbo-Charger: Some diesel engine has a turbo booster that kicks in at 2000 RPM which greatly improves the car pick-up. Also the torque rating of a diesel engine is inherently superior.

Just because they have replaced one make of the engine with another, does not mean that it is the same. Please test-drive the car and make your own judgment about the real worth and driving experience for the vehicle variant.

  1. Ability to pay
    1. Check your financing options. If you believe that the base version itself is a stretch for you, the more expensive diesel version will only compound to your problems. There is a saying in India “Jis bageeche kea am nahi khana, uske ped ginee ka kya fayeda.” There is no merit in counting the trees of the orchid whose fruits you can never taste.
    2. Car is a depreciating asset, so no point in spending too much today if you are going to replace it every 5-7 years. Buy one that suits your needs, helps you maintain your prestige in the community and is easy on your pocket.
    3. Company financing options. Typically sometimes they have special promotional scheme for one variant (but not for another). Interest free loans or low interest installment options.
  2. Cost of ownership:
    1. Assuming the on the above four criteria, you are OK or ambivalent, then you should put the cost of ownership on a serious excel file and compute for yourself
    2. I have taken 2.4 L as the premium (inclusive of road tax and exercise duty) between the two variants. Don’t forget the taxes as they difference between ex-showroom price and on road price is significantly different.
    3. The insurance cost is typically linked to a % of asset value. Hence diesel would have a higher insurance outflow. Similarly the Upkeep/service/maintenance cost of the diesel vehicle would be higher.
    4. Then you should compensate these additional expenses with the higher resale value of the diesel variant. For same amount of miles & age of the vehicle, the people prefer the diesel vehicle as the operating cost is low and the difference between the petrol and diesel variant is minuscule.
    5. Then based on your expected driving behavior you need to compute the miles that you are going to put on the vehicle. The difference in the mileage between the two engines & the difference in the fuel prices could lead to a substantial saving.
    6. Finally you should sum up the yearly cash flow. (please add any more parameters that I might have skipped)
    7. Compute the IRR of the 7 year (longer based on your forecast).
    8. Finally if you get a IRR that is higher than your cost of funds (interest on bank loan + own capital) then you should go for the diesel variant, else petrol variant is suited for you.
    9. Add the financing charges/sops/dealer discounts to the computation to make it more wholesome.
Year 0 Year 1 year 2 year 3 year 4 year 5 year 6 Year 7
Asset price   (240,000)      70,000
Insurance cost        (1,000)          (800)          (600)          (600)          (600)          (600)          (600)          (600)
Maintenance cost      (1,000)      (2,000)      (2,000)      (2,000)      (3,000)      (3,000)      (3,000)
Higher mileage of Diesel      15,000      15,000      15,000      15,000      15,000      15,000      15,000
Less expensive then petrol      30,000      30,000      30,000      30,000      30,000      30,000      30,000
Net cash flow   (241,000)      43,200      42,400      42,400      42,400      41,400      41,400    111,400
irr 10.0%
  1. Other considerations:

As a rule of thumb, if you are using for more than 1,000km per month, then diesel makes more sense. Also 12% should be the cost for your own capital and SBI gives car loan at 10.50%. So for a 70% financing your cost of capital is 30% * 12% + 10.5% * 70% = 11%

Bangalore there is a difference of 20/- between petrol and diesel prices, in Goa the difference is much lower. Plus government has publically announced that they will reduce the price