Author Archives: Sandeep Ayyappan
As Simba proved to us, we’re just people people who find in dogs the same values we see in our best friends: unending loyalty, selfless attention, a caliber of nonverbal communication that puts even the most well-selected words to shame. A dog’s unyielding curiosity, his purity of heart and of purpose, his unparalleled ability to look up at the world, to look up at us – these we wish for ourselves. Our dogs seem to innately understand the simplest idea about us as people – that all we need to be at our happiest is our favorite people right next to us. And this huge, shaggy, spirited, partially blind golden retriever, for ten wonderful years, made everyone he met just a little more human.
It’s been a heads-down ride so far at mycirQle, which we recently evolved to Delve, and I’ve been generally struggling to invest the time in tending to this piece of land. But as I start to have a bit more time to think, I’ve missed this, and I’m looking forward to posting a bit more frequently here.
We went down to Mr. Fino’s Spanish class where we usually took a few minutes to watch the news in Spanish and attempt to translate what was going on. But this morning, all we watched was the news, which was some stunning images accompanied by stunned people trying to make sense of what was happening. Some people in our classroom were in tears, some were frantically trying to reach relatives or friends in the northeast, while the rest of us, including me, sat there in silence.
There’s no app for the big decisions in life. I can’t plug this data set into a recommendation algorithm or have some prediction engine tell me what the right decision is or how either path will turn out. Sometimes, oftentimes, one path turns into two and you can only pick one, and those that pretend as if there’s a formula to these questions haven’t ever truly faced them.
Many of the next few blog posts will be my attempts at identifying the problems along the process and dealing with them. I’ll be discussing entrepreneurship, recruiting, networking, fundraising, and of course, building the product itself and getting it out there. And scattered among them will be other random ideas, other stops along the way.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
After weeks of photo editing, writing text, demo books and publisher-hunting, the final product has hit the presses – my coffee table book, A Young Man Goes West, is finally out!
Reading news makes the exercise a bit more objective, especially with the range of sources I use. The personality at the other end comes through much less, and the human connection is mostly gone. But it’s safe to say most news-watchers don’t have the same experience. A generation or two ago, journalists like Cronkite, Koppel, Russert and Murrow were some of the most revered figures in America. Today, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Olbermann, Maddow, Stewart and Colbert probably reach more people than Couric, Williams, Gibson and the CNN army.
The plastic ball spins and tumbles inside the cage as someone turns the wheel until a slot pops and it rolls out. On it is a number which someone speaks into a microphone and far away in the packed hall a family jumps and screams, someone grabs a kid and tears flow. For that kid, the American Dream is still alive.
For a few years now, my life had been committed and planned, every weekday subject to a schedule, every trail previously blazed. Nurturing resumes and meeting expectations doesn’t leave much room for really losing yourself and finding your way back. When the opportunity came to take a big fat break from all that, I took it.
It was beautiful – tall, at least 20 stories I thought but it looked taller because there was nothing around it, but also big and regal – it looked like the Venetian Casino tower in Las Vegas, except this was Detroit. It was broad, at least a couple hundred feet wide and a good bit deep too. A double-floor appeared at the top, a hallmark of the original skyscrapers built in Chicago and St. Louis, housing their pumps and elevator machinery and such. I had no idea what it was, but I was drawn in and I drove closer to it.
We stood in the hot Chicago sun on a muggy Saturday in mid-August, scanning the horizon for any of the six F/A-18s lighting up the sky that afternoon. The Blue Angels were in town, the stars of the Chicago Air and Water Show.
Here was Omaha growing up, turning hip and cosmopolitan and urban, maintaining its underappreciated ethnic diversity, turning away from its endless sprawl to the west and finding its youthful pulse.
What possesses a sculptor to turn a mountain into a Presidential memorial, I wondered. But this sentiment occurred often to me in South Dakota: why this, why here, why? I took the short stroll along the boardwalk leading to the foot of the mountain and stared up at the four of them: they seemed equally puzzled at their situation. Was Teddy the only one who had actually been anywhere close to here?
Here in roughly the north-central part of the state, some ways east of the cowboy-touristy town of Cody and Greybull where I’d stopped for lunch, the plains dropping down from the Yellowstone plateau had climbed back up into the sky.
I pulled off the highway beside a wooden fence that seemed to head right at Grand Teton. A fading layer of fog obscured the lower end of the mountain but the peak glowed in the rising sun. Clouds above cast ribbons of shadows across the range. The moon was still visible high above.
This is Yellowstone at its finest: the first and in many ways only place where you can see nature as it is, and understand how it should be. Appreciate its spectacle, but don’t leave until you feel its character.
Iceberg Lake stood at the end of this trail, an emerald and blue pool at the foot of a curved granite wall with shelves draped in snow. The snow blended into the end of the lake, forming sheets of ice that even now, in the middle of July, covered an end of the lake. Icebergs had broken off and floated peacefully through the lake.
I flew down to Edmonton after a few days in Fort Mac surveying the oil sands, and found my car baking at the airport. It was a welcome dose of familiarity, and I headed into town for a night. The next morning, I walked around Whyte Ave on the south end of town, catching a music street festival getting set up. The World Cup Final was just about to start, and I caught a seat at a bar across from a guy who couldn’t wait to move to California.
Meeting a glacier for the first time is a transformative experience. This was the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park, and there I was, a few feet from the beginning of it. It was like staring at the very bottom of the foot of a sleeping giant, where scale and meaning challenges even the most tested of imaginations. Looking up and seeing it continue and continue, turning a bright white in the distance before fading into the thick, monochrome cloud cover, left me with little air in my lungs.