Krishna — The best for all

We’re sharing memories of Krishna Venkatesh at wearekrishna.com.  If you know Krishna, share your stories there, too.  I’ve also cross-posted my story here, though comments are only open on the remembrance site.

Galactic Lego spaceship battle Every few months, my inbox would light up with an impossibly-great subject line.  They were recommendations for a new restaurant (Self-serve beer), a unique event in town (Flaming tetherball), or just interesting news that Krishna wanted to share (USA and Canada: Bizarre Borders).  He’d find something new, learn all he could to confirm its greatness, think about who would most like it, and share accordingly. The results were perfect personal recommendations replete with a backstory. And they were quintessentially Krishna.

I’ve known Krishna since the summer of 2008 when we both interned at Microsoft. Knowing Krishna means knowing his thoughtfulness, his fastidiousness, his kind sharing, his insane preparedness.  To me, the periodic emails represent all of those qualities.  I can’t point to just one story as the single most impactful for me; instead, in Krishna’s wake is a host of moments and recommendations.  Memories that together start to show how Krishna constantly reminded me about how to live.

Krishna at Golden Gardens near Seattle in 2011.  Photo expertly taken by Jason Malinowski.
Krishna at Golden Gardens near Seattle in 2011. Photo expertly taken by Jason Malinowski.

Little gestures speak volumes. On a drizzly night in Seattle in early 2010, Krishna offered me a ride home from a dinner with friends. Before we got underway, he pulled out his GPS, set it in a complicated mount, and put the whole thing on the dash. He called up a route to “Jason’s apartment” and we were off. It didn’t matter that he already knew how to get downtown to my place. Or that I could have given him directions if we got lost. He had been saving addresses of friends in his GPS just for such a moment. It touched me how a little gesture of preparedness, like adding an address to a GPS, could reveal so much.  We were friends and Krishna kept tabs on friends.


Got an afternoon at Pike Place? Krishna recommends… Elleno’s Greek Yogurt. They moved across the market to their current location after getting into hot water for selling yogurt in an area zoned for fruits and vegetables. Also, the yogurt is really delicious.


When you see a problem (even a silly one), fix it right then. House of Cards was a favorite of Krishna’s. After hearing his enthusiastic recommendation for Season 1, I lamented that I was falling behind in life without a Netflix account. He got up, signed in to his account on my PC and that was that. Just one of countless times that Krishna saw a problem and fixed it before anyone even thought to ask.


You can be ready for (almost) anything. When Krishna moved from the suburbs to downtown Seattle, he got a second wallet. A decoy wallet.  This was taking preparedness to a whole new level—Krishna was now ready for the unlikely eventuality of a mugging. He stocked the decoy with an expired driver’s license, some expired credit cards, and some cash, to be convincing he said. The way he told it, it was a totally natural thing to do—being prepared would make the whole ugly incident easier. Not that it was a likely scenario, but he was ready.  More ready than anyone else I’ve ever met.


Find yourself in downtown Dallas? Krishna recommends… Clyde-Warren Park. A new addition downtown, it’s built over an interstate running near the Dallas Art Museum. Lots of people-watching, plus books and games for you to borrow while you’re there.


Never stop learning. When tending to his impossibly clean apartment, Krishna would watch documentaries on Netflix to keep learning new things. He could (and would) explain in depth about dog breeds, Wal-Mart, or the properties of great mac and cheese. All the while, he was keeping an eye out for quality documentaries he could recommend others watch. My new Netflix queue filled quickly.


When you’re prepared, everyone else is better off, too. Krishna noticed when your phone was dying and just hand you one of the spare portable chargers he always had with him (yes, he was really that prepared).


Krishna consults the rules as we play Bang! in the Blue Highway Games loft in 2008.

On Upper Queen Anne? Krishna recommends… Blue Highway Games. It was started by some former Microsoft employees and you can play games for free up in the loft.


Greatness is in the details. While we were never on the same team at work, Krishna’s passion was clear in his stories from the office. Your laptop has a tiny icon to tell you how your battery’s doing. And if your laptop has Windows 8, you can thank Krishna for the icon just making sense. But how do 9 tiny pixels best communicate your power level? Krishna wasn’t satisfied with dividing 100% by 9 pixels and calling it a day. Even though it was just a small part of his project, it could be done better so it would be done better. Krishna did a survey of how people interpreted each of the 9 tiny levels to get it just right. That was Krishna’s unfailing commitment to details – and we’re all better off for it.


The joy of giving a perfect recommendation is huge. It was a rare treat to get to return the favor of Krishna’s great finds. In fact, I can think of only one occasion where I shared something he didn’t already know about. He was super excited about the event, immediately followed by peppering me for how I found out about it first. Of course, I divulged the source, just glad to once get to reciprocate his thoughtful expertise.


Want a beer and a burger in South Lake Union? Krishna recommends… Brave Horse Tavern in SLU. It’s from Tom Douglas, but isn’t crazy pricey. Plus, they have shuffleboard.


Krishna and Phil ahead on the trail as the three of us hike to Lake Serene, WA in 2012.

The connections between people matter most; you have to work to maintain them. Krishna took time to maintain his relationships, whether it was stopping to say hello to someone he knew across a restaurant, blocking off long blocks of time to call home to family each week, or using a postcard project we worked on together to write letters to far-off friends. And when he connected friends with one another, he brought the same thoughtfulness he’d use in recommending anything else. Even since his disappearance, he’s been introducing me to more wonderful people via the search efforts.


These past couple weeks have been tough. How do you begin to fill in a Krishna-shaped hole? You don’t. You can’t. All we can do is remember stories and aspire to live up to his expectations and example.

I can only hope to be half as kind, half as thoughtful, and a quarter as organized as you, Krishna. But I’ll try. And I’ll keep sharing your recommendations, because I know that’s what you want for each of us – the best.

Thanks to Jason Malinowski for another great photo.

Measuring Community – Counting what really counts

Season 4 of Community premieres Thursday. To make sure you’re ready, here’s a look at the first three seasons:

preview | go big on zoom.it

As the old adage goes: you can’t save from cancellation what you don’t measure.

UPDATE 2/7:
Got some requests for a printed version. Head to Zazzle if you want to pick one up for your wall. Also, thanks to Redditors for the comments and votes. Happy October 19th!

Olympic coverage that pushed the envelope

With the London Olympics coming to a close, we can all look forward to the end of the refrain of complaints about NBC’s coverage of the games.

The Closing Ceremonies also free Mary Carillo from her nightly gig hosting “Late Night at the Olympics” on the peacock network.  This nightcap for NBC’s coverage featured a hodgepodge of less-than-mainstream events (whitewater kayaking! table tennis!), a wrap-up of all of the big moments of the day (montage!), and a brief fluff segment/sign-off (puns!).

Wait – puns?  Yes, Mary Carillo bid the country adieu each night with content varying from an explanation for why she is not on Twitter to a sprint through several bad puns while keeping a straight face.

Lest these bits of personality be forgotten, here’s one such segment from coverage on Friday, August 3… See if you can count how may puns she slips in to the story.

Take note, kids – you won’t see gems like this on the live stream of events online.

Windows Phone tip: Stop your calendar from showing Monday’s meetings on Saturday nights

My Windows Phone treats me well; it’s great at e-mail, I love my Zune Pass, and there are lots of great apps.  It also has a very efficient lock screen that gives you the date and time; notifications for missed calls, new texts, and new e-mails (by account); and music playback controls all in one glance.  Plus, when I’m at work, the lock screen always helps me find my way to the next meeting on my calendar: what it’s called, when it starts, and where I should go.

That’s great during the week, but not so much on Saturday night.

You see, the logic for appointments showing on the lock screen is pretty simple. If there are any appointments the same day or the next day, they appear on the screen.  Perfect for knowing what’s next for the day or what’s coming tomorrow morning.  Except when it comes to Saturday nights.  After midnight on Saturday (a.k.a. Sunday morning), that two-day window of time includes Monday morning.  And Monday morning’s meetings.

Nothing like enjoying a bit of a respite from work and being reminded that Monday’s coming up soon.

But luckily there’s a really easy solution to the problem (without doing anything weird to your phone):  set up a recurring weekly appointment on Sunday nights to serve as your next appointment over the weekend.  I have my phone show “Happy Weekend!” until Sundays at 10pm.  No longer does your weekend have to hasten to a premature end.

LockScreen
A much nicer picture to spend your Sunday with.

To make it easier to get set up on your phone, here are some .ics event files I made that  you can add to your own calendar (in Eastern or Pacific time zone flavor).  If you’re using the calendar that comes with your Windows Live ID via Hotmail, just import that file on this page to get it synced to your phone.  Of course, you can customize the message and the timing for when it’s OK for Monday morning meetings to start showing up.

Happy Weekend! :-)