ifindkarma. elegance is refusal.

May 5, 2012

I spend a lot of time on PandaWhale these days.

If you’re looking for me, I’m on PandaWhale.

I’m stashing many things there.

And reflecting.

December 9, 2011


Filed under: ifindkarma!, life, the universe, and everything! — ifindkarma @ 4:20 am
Anything that happens, happens.
Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen.
Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.
It doesn’t necessarily do it in chronological order, though.
~ Douglas Adams

Most people do not comprehend,
[no matter how] they encounter such things,
nor do they understand what they learn;
they believe only themselves.
~ Heraclitus

Every thought is a seed.
If you plant crab apple, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.
~ Bill Meyer


All the lessons of history in four sentences:
Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power.
The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small.
The bee fertilizes the flower it robs.
When it is dark enough, you can see stars.

~ Charles A. Beard

In the spirit of Thirty and Thirty-Five comes Forty-Two — the following awesome, beautiful, and creative web of thoughts that occupy my brain.

No matter.

I’m not patient enough to write poetry or prose, so I’ll just count down after Futurama.

Don’t you worry about life, the universe, and everything; let me worry about blank

42. We believe in the interconnectedness of all things.

41. Everything is about inclusion.

40. Everything is everythang.

39. Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.

38. As human beings, our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

37. Let it go. This too shall pass.


35. Lessons are repeated until they are learned.

34. The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

33. Reflect on happiness.

32. People are very bad at predicting what will make us happy.

31. There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.

30. We are feedback loops. We are the stories we tell ourselves.

29. Love is when you open your heart to pain.

28. To get over grief, be there for someone else’s grief.

27. Kittie heaven is mousie hell.

26. Bird is the word!

25. The ride does not require an explanation. Just occupants.

24. It’s not going to stop till you wise up.

23. Character is destiny.

22. Reflection creates identity.

21. You can do anything.

20. We can change the world with a pen and paper.

19. Starting is hard.

18. We’ll see.

17. Life is… delicious ambiguity.

16. Beware drift. Do what you love!

15. True happiness comes from within.

14. Get yourself a giant panda! (Super kawaii!)

13. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.

12. That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.

11. It goes to 11. (Be sure to read through to Andy Weir’s story, “The Egg”!)

10. Life is like business. It’s 20 percent what happens to you, and 80 percent how you respond.

9. 80 percent of success is showing up.

8. Our attitudes produce our luck.

7. Love more, fear less.

6. Be grateful for every breath.

5. Be who you are, as hard as you can.

4. Be here now.

3. Be excellent.

2. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

1. Only kindness matters in the end.

********* …enlightenment… *********

August 8, 2009

Life lessons a baby can teach you!

Filed under: babies!, believe!, life, the universe, and everything! — ifindkarma @ 4:20 pm

If you looked at just my last three posts, you’d think my life was nothing but down lately.

But that’s not entirely true. I spent July with my family. I went to Mississippi, and my nephew Zachary turned 3. Also, earlier this year my brother and his wife had their second son Nicholas, and later this year my sister and her husband will have their first daughter (and my first niece!), who remains to be named.

Next week my sister has her shower in St. Augustine, Florida, and I cannot make it, so we got her a teddy bear and a baby stroller and a card from Gibson that was so cute I wanted to capture it here…

Life Lessons Your Baby Will Teach You

  • Everyone needs to be held.
  • One smile can brighten a whole day.
  • Change is good.
  • So are naps.
  • Simple pleasures can bring great joys.
  • Comfort is more important than fashion.
  • Quiet time is precious.
  • Good health is a great gift.
  • The best things come in small packages.
  • Every day is an adventure.
  • Miracles do happen.
  • We never, ever stop learning.

Michelle with baby Nicholas

July 10, 2009

Unveiling of Tia Rifkin.

Filed under: life, the universe, and everything! — ifindkarma @ 4:20 pm

Today Mom, Dad, Aunt Gail, Tom, and I went to New Montefiore Cemetery in Pine Lawn, New York, for the unveiling of my grandmother Tia, who died a year ago. What follows is the service my mom prepared for her; we read all of the passages out loud.

She is Gone, by David Harkins

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

When I’m Gone, by Mrs. Lyman Hancock

When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile
Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned
And remember only the smile

Forget unkind words I have spoken
Remember some good I have done
Forget that I ever had heartache
And remember I’ve had loads of fun

Forget that I’ve stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way
Remember I have fought some hard battles
And won, ere the close of the day

Then forget to grieve for my going
I would not have you sad for a day
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay

And come in the shade of evening
When the sun paints the sky in the west
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best

Sonnet 72, by John Donne

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, 5
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, 10
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Her Journey’s Just Begun

Don’t think of her as gone away,
her journey’s just begun,
Life holds so many facets,
this earth is only one,
Just think of her as resting,
from the sorrows and the tears,
In a place of warmth and comfort,
where there are no days or years,
Think how she must be wishing,
that we could know today,
How nothing but our sadness,
can really pass away,
And think of her as living,
in the hearts of those she touched,
For nothing loved is ever lost,
and she was loved so much.

Remember, by Christina Rossetti

REMEMBER me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.


Shema Yisrael adonai elohenu adonai ehud
Baruh shame kavod malhuto layolum va-ed
Hear Oh Israel the Lord is one over all the earth.

Mah tovu oh ha lehah ya-acov
Mishcanotehah yisrael
How wondrous it is to dwell in the land of Israel.

Yimloh adonai layolum elohai-ik tzion
L’dor va-dor halleluya
God of the world who brings us to Israel

From generation to generation, praise the lord
Barhu et adonai hamvorah
Baruh adonai hamvorah layolum va-ed
Blessed is the Lord
Blessed is the lord forever and ever

Aleina lisha bayah ladon hacol
It is our duty to praise the Lord, God of all things

Mi camoha ba ayleem adonai
Mi camoha nehdar bar kodesh
Who is like the Lord, most high among the mighty?

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season
A time for everything under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die
A time to laugh and a time to cry
A time to lose and a time to seek
A time to be silent and a time to speak
A time to love and a time to hate
A time for war and a time for peace
God brings everything in its time
Nothing is added, nothing is taken away.

The 23rd Psalm

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’ sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

(followed by The Mourner’s Kaddish)

Tia Rifkin

June 14, 2009

Failure, loss, and learning.

Filed under: believe!, life, the universe, and everything!, relax! — ifindkarma @ 6:14 pm

Joyce and I have reflected a lot in the last fortnight.

Among other things, I recall this line a month ago from yishimcgee:

I feel like I failed… I feel no relief.

I wish I could speed the assuaging of her pain… but I cannot. Relief from the feeling of failure — especially when it accompanies loss of someone or something you love — comes only with the passage of time. That’s been my experience.

So today as Joyce, Kenneth, and I pulled two dozen boxes to the point of physical exhaustion, I found comfort in this passage Joyce sent me from Will Wright in the New York Times:

When I’m managing creative people, the way they relate to failure is very important. Because there are certain types of failure that you really want to celebrate. I personally learned a lot more from my failures than from my successes. And if you look at it that way, then all my failures, you know, in some sense brought me to my larger successes, because I recognized why I failed, and I learned from it. And so, at that point, you can even argue that it’s not a failure. It’s part of your learning process.

And so, even with interns, it’s kind of interesting to see how they relate to failure. Does it motivate them, do they go a different direction, do they give up or do they learn from it and get some insight and add it as part of their tool chest? In some sense it is an award that they’ve earned.

One of the questions I will usually ask somebody when I am interviewing them is, what was your biggest failure? And what did you learn from it and what would you have done differently? Within a team setting, a lot of times we’ll go down paths and we’ll prototype things. And at some point we’ll realize it was a bad branch and we have to back up and go take a different branch. Those forays — as a team, we can celebrate those.

Joyce and I have lost a lot of people recently. Billy and Rajeev, to name two.

How am I coping? Mainly through physical exercise and recalling 90-year-old wisdom:

No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

I used to sweat every little detail about every little thing. Now I find myself regularly asking, “In five years, will this matter?

I used to packrat things from every era of my life. Now I’ve started to throw things away. I’m struck by a feeling that until I let go of some things, I have no room to grow. So I look to get rid of anything that isn’t joyful, useful, or beautiful.

I think that’s part of how I’ll get myself back to the right state of mind so I can have the vision to see opportunities again. As Richard the Wise Man once said,

Being in the right place at the right time is actually all about being in the right state of mind.

Richard Wiseman says that only about 10% of life is purely random; the remaining 90% is defined by the way we think. Our attitudes produce our luck.

Failure happens. Think of Thomas Edison, who tried thousands of filaments while failing to make a working long-lasting light bulb, “I never failed. I simply discovered 10,000 ways not to do it!”

So yes, unexpected death and feelings of failure happen regularly. They are an inescapable part of this world.

It’s hard to lose people and things. It takes time to internalize what happened and integrate it all as part of ourselves.

I will remember to breathe, and I will remind myself to be patient because healing takes time.

And remember to get outside every day. Because miracles are waiting everywhere.

June 8, 2009

Thank you, Rajeev Motwani.

Filed under: ifindkarma!, life, the universe, and everything! — ifindkarma @ 1:35 pm

On Friday I learned from Manish and Naval that Rajeev Motwani had died.

Rajeev and Asha invested in Joyce’s and my company Renkoo four years ago, and it really was the case that his friendship and his time were the most valuable aspects of that investment. Over the years, he has been a great advisor, confidant, and friend.

We would meet regularly at the University Coffee Cafe in Palo Alto. Every time I talked with him, he made my ideas better — on both technical matters and human matters. On the former, he always asked about algorithms we were developing so that he could suggest ways to improve them; on the latter, he regularly reminded me to be patient so that I could improve myself.

Over the years I’ve gotten myself into many sticky situations, and Rajeev was always Socratic, calmly advising me and Joyce to be all we can be, and reminding us to believe in ourselves the way he believed in us.

My favorite story about Rajeev is when the going got tough for Renkoo, and we gave every investor an opportunity to exit, his words to me were assured and confident. “Why would I want to leave you?” he asked. “You’re just getting started.” When I pointed out that other people did want out, he seemed peeved but resolved that everyone reacts differently to difficult situations, and that he was not going anywhere. Great things happen as the result of struggle and experience, and the longer we toil, the more experienced we become.

I never wanted to bother him, but he regularly checked in with me, and frankly I don’t know where he found the time. I know he was busy with a million other things, but he always made time for me. In fact, my next call with him was supposed to be today.

I spent a lot of this weekend shocked and sad. I still can’t believe he’s gone. As I read peoples’ thoughts about him — among them Om, David, Ron Conway, and Sergey — one thing really came across: Rajeev Motwani was a kind man. Rajeev gave so much strength and wisdom to so many people that his legacy lives on in all the people we touch and all the work we do.

And that is the greatest compliment I can bestow on anyone. I will truly miss you, Rajeev. Thank you.

January 1, 2009

Get yourself a giant panda!

In pondering a New Year Resolution for 2009, Troutgirl quoted Anne Lamott‘s Hard Laughter to me…

I said that I thought the secret of life was obvious: be here now, love as if your whole life depended on it, find your life’s work, and try to get hold of a giant panda. If you had a giant panda in your back yard, anything could go wrong — someone could die, or stop loving you, or you could get sick — and if you could look outside and see this adorable, ridiculous, boffo panda, you’d start to laugh; you’d be so filled with thankfulness and amusement that everything would be O.K. again.

I repeat: Get. Yourself. A giant. Panda!!!

October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty!

Today is Blog Action Day: Poverty. You can register here.

The main thing I want to say about poverty is that I’m disappointed that poverty has left the discourse now that John Edwards is no longer actively campaigning. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain has said much about poverty, and I’m guessing it’s because it’s not a topic that will help them win the election in a few weeks. That makes me a sad panda. You can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats its poorest people. They aren’t represented much in our Congress because the poor cannot afford lobbyists. More than forty years ago Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty, and we still struggle today. We can end poverty in America and in the world if we have the will. When we do so, America and the world will be much better off.

At least Barack Obama inspires people. John McCain seems like more of a placeholder than an inspirer. Perhaps, if elected, Barack will take up the issue of poverty. He does seem to care more about what poor people go through. But George W. Bush has left him a lot of other messes to clean up as well. So we’ll see.

August 8, 2008

Pandas as proof of intelligent design!

Filed under: believe!, life, the universe, and everything!, pandas! — ifindkarma @ 8:08 am

Evolutionary Panda!

Discover Magazine says,

The panda’s survival proves the existence of God. How is it, they ask, that such a species could have “evolved” to be so poorly suited for survival and could have lasted these “alleged” tens of thousands of years without a little help from a higher power?

So it’s true: Pandas did not evolve… in zoos. They evolved to find their own food and seek out their mates in dense bamboo forests after being raised by their real mothers, not by zookeepers. The panda’s weaknesses in today’s world—from its failure to reproduce in captivity to its yawn-inspiring lifestyle—is a product of its natural history, not a malicious joke of an intelligent designer.

July 21, 2008

Panda love is the sweetest love!

Filed under: life, the universe, and everything!, pandas! — ifindkarma @ 4:20 am

The desire to hug is mutual. Before I die, I want to hug a panda.

June 25, 2008

Pandas spend 10 hours a day eating!

Panda Panda


June 22, 2008

Earthquake Cat!

Earthquake Cat!

Luxury Launches: “Some genius mind from Japan have designed a cool survival kit for cats and dogs that includes some basic items that can keep your four legged furry pal alive till the fire brigade gets to them.”

This picture is begging to be LOLcatted.

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