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Vedika was tired and angry, but mostly tired. Anger was exhausting. Her husband’s father was infuriating even in the best of times – he belonged firmly to a generation that seemed stubbornly incapable of thinking of women as equals and seemed to regard her dedication to her career as a character flaw. The deafening silence of his judgement for the fact that the apartment she shared with his son was not spotless made it difficult to hear anything else. The old man wasn’t overtly rude of course, but it was clear he believed his son would have been better to marry a nice girl from back home than this half-breed woman with an Indian name and green eyes. She did not want him in her home and she especially did not want him passing on his ideas about a woman’s place in the world to her son, Arvind.

For his part, the old man kept his counsel to himself. He hardly spoke to his son and even less to his daughter in law. Ajay, her husband, sat on the couch with a mound of papers fanned out on the coffee table in front of him. Medical records from India and America both, alongside a pile of insurance papers and another pile of brochures for assisted living facilities.

Pita, I know you value your independence and I don’t want to take that away from you, but after your fall last week we need to make sure you are someplace safe.

Pita had fallen on the steps up to his apartment and lain there for several hours until a young couple coming down had found him and helped him to his apartment. Vedika and Ajay had tried to get him a cell phone several times but he complained that the numbers were too small and refused to carry it or keep it charged. When his landlord had called to tell them about the fall, Ajay had panicked.

The old man was, well, getting old. He had worked hard his whole life and, while he had never managed to amass much money, had paid Ajay’s way through college without a lot of student debt. It had not been a gift – it was a contract, an obligation. Ajay had dreamed of being an artist and drawn constantly as a young man but when he had expressed interest in art college the old man had gone into a rage and burned his sketch books. He had not travelled to this strange land and worked and saved for so long so his son could be a starving artist! Ajay would be an engineer and that was the end of the discussion. There had been tears and words of rage but in the end the old man got his way. The two had hardly spoken since, it was only her husband’s sense of duty that made him insist on the old man moving in. Ajay and Vedika had fought bitterly, she did not want Pita in her home! But they could not afford to put him in one of those assisted care homes. In the end, tears or no, it was as simple as that: Pita could not live alone any longer and there was nowhere else for him to go.

The old man didn’t like it any more than she did, it was obvious. He had always been independent and didn’t see any reason why something as mundane as old age should keep him down. She almost admired him, in spite of herself. Meanwhile, the conversation was getting heated and both men were starting to get louder. She hushed them, it would not do to have the neighbors talking and Arvind was asleep in the next room for his after-school nap.

Pita gave her a look of disdain but lowered his voice and turned to his son: “Ajay, I raised you to be responsible and respect your elders – not bully them!”

I am not bullying anyone, but it is not safe to leave you alone at your age. You took care of me alone for years after mom died. Let me do my duty as a son and take care of you now.

Pita was silent, struggling with the fact that he knew his son was right but could not bear the thought of life as an invalid. The thought of giving up his independence to be a guest in someone else’s house, even his son’s, was unbearable; but there was no way out. He was trapped. His shoulders slumped.

All right son, you win. I will give notice on my apartment this month.

It’s not what I want, I’m not winning anything dad. I’m just trying to be a good son and take care of you.

Fine! What do you want from me? Do you want me to be grateful?

Ajay noted with shock that the old man’s eyes were filling with tears. He tried to embrace him but was rebuffed.

I will be alright, I am not some invalid that needs to be coddled. Just give me time.

Enough

Posted in fiction | Tagged ,

Jake sighed as he slumped against the steering wheel of his truck and moved back into the lane.  He had moved over to the side to let a motorcycle past because the truck filled the whole lane.  It had been years since he’d been on a bike, the girl who loved to ride on the back of his cruiser when they were dating had mysteriously morphed into a wife who made him sell his bike because she was worried he’d get killed riding it.  At least that meant she wanted him to make it home, right?  Things could be worse.  Some couples burned hot for a few years and then faded but they still lay in bed on Saturday mornings laughing and cuddling like newlyweds.  He smiled, thinking about her eyes looking up at him. Continue reading

Lucky

Posted in fiction | Tagged , ,

The airstrike rattled the city, everything shook. Dust rattled down from the rafters and somewhere in the basement below an infant cried. Mo sat as still as he could amidst the crush of strangers and tried to focus on breathing. The air was thin, too many lungs sucking oxygen and not enough ventilation. The earth shook again beneath the roar of planes overhead, and the thunder of bombs; aggravating the ringing in his ears.

He had ended up here by sheer good luck, if you could call it that. The university had closed months ago because of the protests and never re-opened. When the military had opened fire on protests in the capital the shock waves went right across the country. Many of the students had joined militias, others fled. Mo headed for the border, he couldn’t muster enough faith to believe in a revolution and the fundamentalists were even worse than the soldiers. On foot it was a long journey and the war overtook him. Continue reading

The do’s and don’ts of online dating, from a newlywed.

Posted in Life | Tagged ,

Almost 2 years ago now I wrote a humorous (well, I thought it was funny…) blog post on taking a data-driven approach to dating.  In that post I promised to write a follow-up if I had success.  Since I got married in July, I guess it’s about time I keep that promise!  So here’s a few things I learned along the way (big thanks to the okcupid data blog and the okc forums on reddit) that might prove useful to others.

For the sake of transparency, these are written for someone who’s looking for a life partner, if you’re just out there to get laid you can disregard most of them. Continue reading

4 phrases men should use more

Posted in Feminism and Men's Liberation, Life | Tagged , ,

There’s an article by Soraya Chemaly that’s been making the rounds on Social Media about the 10 words every woman should use.  It’s a truly fantastic data-based analysis of the way differences in social conditioning around communication styles for men and women have lifelong impacts, in and out of the workplace. I highly recommend you give it a look – especially if you’re a man.  It got me thinking, what are the phrases that men should use more? How can we be better allies, friends, and colleagues to the women in our lives? It’s absolutely essential for women to speak up and demand to be heard, but it’s equally essential for men to support them when they do. Continue reading

Walled Gardens

Posted in News and Politics, tech | Tagged , ,

Yesterday I put up a new post  on how to optimize your mobile app’s URI scheme.  The post is mostly technical but touches on a few important points – notably the fact that the mobile app ecosystem is a fragmented series of walled gardens.  This is in sharp contrast to the free and open web where anyone can add content and anyone can access it.

If you feel the way I do about free speech, feel free to insert your own rant here about the privatization of the (virtual) commons.  This is the digital equivalent of town squares where free speech was legally protected being replaced by malls where a rent a cop will firmly escort you off the premises if you try to do any sort of outreach. Continue reading

3 rules to optimize your mobile app’s URI scheme

Posted in tech | Tagged ,

URIs are the app equivalent of a URL on the web – they specify the path to the content in your app.  For mobile developers who want to use deep links to send end users to specific content in their apps, having well structured URI’s is therefore very important.

The sheer number of mobile apps means that tons of potential URI schemes are out there, since every app can—and should!—have its own. No industry standard for URI scheme creation exists, despite some attempts. Accordingly, I’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to pick a URI scheme that will gives users the best possible experience. Continue reading

To be a man

Posted in Feminism and Men's Liberation, News and Politics | Tagged ,

I’ve self-identified as a feminist since my late teens and have been very vocal about it, sometimes to my own detriment.  Not that I’m some sort of knight in shining armor, I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way despite my best intentions and I can’t claim to be motivated entirely by altruism.  While I am very much interested in equality and women’s issues in their own right, I’ve always been at least as interested in what Feminism could potentially do for men. Continue reading

Perfection

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The night was warm with the scent of rain and a few lonely stars visible through the clouds. I pulled my scarf up the back of my neck, flush against my helmet to take the edge off the wind. Ahead of me, the glow of my high beams threw the surrounding darkness into sharper relief and lit up the underbrush of the trees. Coming into the corner, I leaned forward low over the gas tank and let the bike slide gracefully into the curve as I hugged the edge of the mountain. Continue reading

The art of jumping ship

Posted in Life, tech | Tagged , ,

I started a new job last week and was talking to my good friend Tim O’Neil about the where’s and why’s.  He’s happy in his current position but suggested I write a follow-up to my article on what to look for in a new company addressing when to start looking for that company.  After thinking it over, I thought it would make for an interesting conversation – so please feel free to add your $0.02 in the comments!

One of the hardest professional decisions is when to look for new opportunities.  Taking a new job is a risk after all!  The thing is, job security is a myth – it simply does not exist any more.  Layoffs are a normal part of business and startups die almost as fast as new ones are born.  No one is going to stay at the same company their entire career.   On the other hand, Silicon Valley is one of the only labor markets where demand significantly outstrips the available supply (thanks in large part to the abysmal failure of American schools to turn out the engineers needed to power our tech industries).  That puts talented workers in a uniquely strong position.  Millions of Americans who are struggling to stay afloat would be thrilled to have the opportunity we have.

The solution is to start treating your working hours like a stock portfolio – if you’re not getting the ROI you need it may be time to make a change.  Here are a few KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for that portfolio: Continue reading