How am I doing right now? 2021 edition

It was exactly a year ago that I had posted my thoughts on a few key questions. The idea was to capture how I was doing right then. It was a welcome and much needed introspection. I didn't want to miss on the opportunity to revisit the answers from the last year and see what has changed.

It was a nice exercise. My thoughts a year back were so quite unfamiliar to what I am going through today. So, here's an update to the same set of questions. Again, I would love to hear how you are doing.

How are you taking care of yourself today?

Regular exercise and daily meditation. Reading a lot more fiction and non-fiction. I'm still listening to music and many audiobooks. Staying far away from news.

What part of your shelter-in-place residence have you come to appreciate the most?

Garden at my home. The wooden swing at the top floor that overlooks the garden.

What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (that isn’t toilet paper)?

Biscuits. Lots of them.

What’s a story — from a book, a movie, an article, a conversation — that you’ve been gripped by recently? Why did it capture you?

Nothing grips me any more. Maybe I have grown numb?

What habit have you started, or broken, during the quarantine?

I have stopped staying awake late into the Friday and Saturday nights. That was one habit I had, stay up late either mindlessly watching something or working on side projects.

As an effect, I am following a pretty routine. Get a calming and wholesome sleep.

Which specific place in your neighborhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?

Again, every part of the neighbourhood. Especially malls and the restaurants.

What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?

Getting bored. And getting creative.

What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?

Cash. And fancy clothes. What I wear at home is often good enough even outside.

What’s something you own that feels useful?

Kindle. Headphones.

What is your COVID-19 nickname/alter-ego?

Calm workaholic.

What problem—either yours, or something more global —do you wish you could solve?

Global Stupidity. Political Divisiveness. Natural Selfishness.

I am happy with the format that I’ve settled on for my newsletter Slanting Nib. A regular personal update followed by the recommended reads. Plus a colorful artwork from India. It’s simple enough for me to curate and I feel should be clean enough for the readers to follow.

I finished reading Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day today. I cannot apply all the suggestions that the authors have to offer. But it’s a fascinating list of a few easy to follow tactics, presented in a no-nonsense manner. The authors stay to the point; they don’t ramble along as many authors of the self-help books tend to do.

I did find a few of the suggestions pretty useful and have already incorporated a couple. I can clearly see the benefit. What helped is that the authors worked in an industry and in roles that I can closely associate with. So, I could relate to many of the problems they talked about and was keen to hear what changes worked for them.

If you are at a full-time job and are struggling to get the right balance between work and life, this book would have a few strategies that you might find useful. 📚

“The happiness of loneliness” - such a curious phrase from my yesterday’s post. I really enjoyed reading this one a day after. I like to reflect on my posts from past. There’s on this day for the yearly reflection; for the daily one, I’ve setup an email digest. Tinkering time.

Music is the only time machine out there. You come across a song or an album, and a flood of memories and emotions come rushing at you. You almost relive those priceless moments. Exaggeration? I think not.

You get transported back to the time when you listened to that song the first time. Or when you spent hours and days crooning along, the album on repeat mode. You vividly feel your surrounding from that time. The place you were at. The mental state you were in. The happiness of loneliness. Or the craziness with those few, old friends. You remember the moments that matter, the moments that are tucked deep within your heart.

I am not saying anything groundbreaking here. Each one of us has experienced this ability of music. Many have worded it a lot more beautifully even.

I consider this a superpower and am reminded of this every few months. Most often, the time I hop back to is the early 2000s, the time that I cherish the most. It was a new phase of my student life. A period with a lot more independence. A period when my thoughts were moulded. Today was one such day.

A lesser-known A.R. Rahman album. It's not even among one of his best. But it's close to me, though. I can't explain why; maybe the feeling of the songs resonated with what I was going through in my life. I didn't understand a word of those lyrics; it was the first non-Hindi, non-English album I listened to. But as they say, music has no language. And good music doesn't need words to convey an emotion.

Sure, the album doesn't evoke the same feelings in me today. But I momentarily relive that unfamiliar phase of freedom every time. Just as I did today.

The reminder that Patrick Rhone inspired me to set seems to be working. This is a second update to my /now page in the last one month. Nice!

Another day, another Covid tale -The Pandemic Has Been Tough for Extroverts. The introvert in me quips it’s been hard for me too, pal. Because the extroverts like you have been roaming around and reaching out to make new friends.

Bug in Notepad Involving Asterisk in Title Bar

[W]hen you open a text document and change the text by using the Delete key to delete the character ahead of the cursor, the asterisk does not appear in the title bar. If you delete the character using the Backspace the asterisk appears though.

I’ve unsubscribed from the NYTimes digital subscription. I haven’t been getting enough benefits, and there were a few events & posts that made me seriously reconsider whether I should continue to pay. And it coincided with me subscribing to New Yorker.

I came across a headline “Six Tips to Avoid Being Overwhelmed by the News” with the first “tip” being “Regulate consumption”. That one’s enough, with one change - don’t regulate, just stop the consumption.

Whoever coined the adage “picture speaks a thousand words” must have seen a post from his colleague with just a single image gain a lot more conversation and interaction than his post with a title and more than a thousand literal words. Just saying, not complaining 😬

I love the Android platform, but I also love the ecosystem of apps and services on iOS. I can’t hence be happy with any smartphone I own. Unfortunate!

My family loves to watch singing reality shows. It's an opportunity for me to get some focused time when I read or write. I do join in occasionally, though. This weekend was one such occasion.

For one, A. R. Rahman was going to be on the show as a guest. I love this man and his music. I won't miss a chance to watch the people contending to be good at singing attempt the maestro's brilliant tunes. The episode did not disappoint -- a contestant attempted one of the trickiest songs ever composed by Rahman, Satrangi Re.

As the performance came to an end (and the director decided to stuff it with unnecessary stuff), a little dialogue happened at our home. The contestant mentioned the first album he purchased was Rahman's, and he wanted Rahman's autograph on the old audio cassette. My daughter looked on with her curiosity piqued by watching the object the guy was holding. She genuinely asked, "what's a cassette, dad?"

Boy, I had a nostalgic few minutes. I explained all about how I used to listen to songs when I was a child. I showed her the images of the audio cassettes, up close and afar. But you know what she was most interested in? Sony Walkman.

I dearly wish I had not given away my Sony Walkman to one of my cousins. Sure, I had made her day by passing on the tech I did not need. But I loved my Walkman. And pleasing to see my daughter get fascinated by the beauty. And she has owned every type of iPod -- yet the retro-tech will always hold its charm.

By the way, the contestant I mentioned above, Ashish Kulkarni, is too good a singer. Just watch him nail a track I love, Alvida from Life in a Metro.

Image Credit: Binarysequence at Wikimedia

I just had a wonderful power nap – even a few whole night’s sleep don’t revitalize me as much as these 20 minutes did. Nice! I love my afternoon naps.

I had a productive writing and reading Sunday this week. Read many of the long pending posts from my Pocket queue. Wrote a few drafts, they are ready to be edited. Published a new issue of Slanting Nib. A pretty satisfying end to the week.

I have been reading many books from Christie recently. Every time I get into a reading lull, I pick up a Poirot mystery and start reading. I was facing one such lull and Dame Agatha was to the rescue again. Her books always help me get back to reading more.

Anyway, after I read another of her wonderfully crafted mysteries – Lord Edgware Dies – I wondered why are these books not generally adapted to TV series and films. Most of her books are perfect. Yet, we hardly see any adaptations. Is it due to licensing?

Anyway, the one attempt I had seen recently was the disappointing Murder on the Orient Express from 2017. It was unnecessarily stylized, the adaptations need to let the story take over. The complex simplicity is the most important virtue of the Christie’s stories. Then there is the old, yet long-running, TV series Poirot – again, enjoyable in parts but tries too hard. That said, I have liked whatever I have managed to see (mostly on YouTube).

There’s so much scope for something in the middle, not too stylized and yet, a modern adaptation. Preferably in the form of a film or a TV mini-series. I did come across one such adaptation, the 2015 three episode television mini-series of And Then There Were None. IMDB Plus has made all the episodes available on YouTube. I enjoyed this particular form. I felt it worked.

So sad that there isn’t much readily available.

Unless you’re really sure the other person will get your humor, or appreciate it, it’s usually better to say what you mean instead of trying to be funny.

Oh, I agree with Dave. Being funny isn’t easy, especially when you’ve no sense of the other person’s sense of humour.

The recent ad from CRED feat Rahul Dravid is an absolute masterclass. No doubt it is trending heavily. It subverts people’s perspective towards a gem of a man and that always works with ads. And yet am sure Dravid’s image is hardly blotted.

Om Alone

I have also developed uncanny abilities—not exactly superpowers, but I am now able to read entire books while thinking about other things the whole time. When I first realized that this was happening, I would reread the paragraph or two that I’d missed, but my subconscious—or, more specifically, my third eye—told me that it wasn’t necessary, so I just kept reading and thinking and have now read more books than ever before.

Revisiting 2020 through the /now page

I updated my /now page today after a long time. I usually maintain a thought’s archive as part of the page for the updates that are no longer relevant. The idea behind is revisiting the thoughts that once were at the top of my mind is another way for me to retrospect.

Today I’ve reset that section for 2021. And below is an unadulterated list of the thought archive from 2020 – so in a way a snapshot (incomplete, sure) of the year that went by.

  • I’m trying to get into a habit of regular meditation. I want to give it a chance again.
  • I’m in love with the Hamilton soundtrack. I keep going back to it every now and then.
  • Study Café Album on Spotify has been my go-to album every time I want to focus. If that fails, the real café ambient noise from Coffitivity does the job.
  • I have started writing frequently now. The simpler writing workflow with WordPress is helping.
  • Need to get the backup solution for posts (probably in WordPress) addressed.
  • Focus on deciding on the format, the frequency and the tone of the newsletter.
  • Where would my blog go next? Or will it stay here? It would most probably not be WordPress
  • I want a better writing interface. Or maybe not? Why do I want to create something perfect myself?
  • Need to get to the improvements planned for Wall.
  • Read. Read. Read. Write. Write. Write.
  • I need to finish the couple of books I had started reading in the last month
  • Implement a micropub client. Get anything working. Without UI. Dropped the idea
  • Getting used to the new normal.
  • Write about and share details about Wall. Feedback and issues.
  • Get IndieLogin working – just been too long now
  • Get distracted with the side projects, again. IndieWeb’s done.
  • Start reading and writing again
  • Stop procrastinating items from must-do list
  • Fix issue with webmentions from
  • Send webmentions to target on replies/likes
  • Support for updates in blotpub
  • Decision on upcoming nearby travel
  • Handle crossposting to Twitter and Mastodon for longer posts
  • Style webmentions section to my liking. It is too bloated in the current form
  • Start \now page to be updated regularly
  • Consolidate all my online content onto a single place (most probably blot)
  • Move old content from Hugo to archive (a Hugo site)
  • Change stuff around

The effort that the developers across collectively spent on building the “small”, “light” javascript framework of their liking is way too high. Sure, build that framework – just don’t carry an expectation of it being perfect.

I am curious - isn’t a drone that can carry a human just a helicopter? A self-driving, may be. What about a flying car? What makes it different from what exists today? Every sci-fi futuristic world has such flying cars, even trains for that matter. I don’t like those skies.

If you maintain a /now page like I do, what do you write in there? What’s a good enough update? I keep swinging between very text-heavy and too terse – I haven’t found the right balance yet.

Dan Lewis recently made me aware of one of the most beautiful love story, that of Long Distance Love Birds.

The story would have ended there but in 2001, something unexpected happened: another stork arrived. A male stork. The two mated and shortly afterward, the male stork left, as one would expect, being a migratory bird and all. But storks are also known for being serial monogamists; while they don’t mate for life, they tend to stick with the same partner so long as that partner is on the same migratory path. In this case, though, Malena had no migratory path, and the bird that happened across her nest seemed unlikely to return.

Until he did, a year later. And a year after that. And a year after that, too.

Ah, love indeed is universal. And in this case, it literally has no boundaries. Such a pretty, happy story. To anyone who says long-distance relationship doesn't work, I have another real life story bookmarked now.

What Data Can’t Do

Numbers don’t lie, except when they do. They [statistics] can help remedy our human fallibilities. What’s easy to forget is that statistics can amplify these fallibilities, too.