Sunday, September 25, 2016

Small victories

After almost 7 years of shying away from the gym, I finally gave in and signed up for a membership. My swimming pool ain't that great (opens too late in the morning), and I don't have the discipline to go in the evening. I ain't that regular with my gym, but well, something is better than nothing.

What I find starkly different this time around is - I saw remarkable progress in the first few weeks. I will credit it to the fact that I hadn't been doing any weights or cardio for 7 over years and this time my instructors asked me to increase the number of repetitions I do for each set without worrying about the weights too much. Earlier, I used to focus more on increasing the weights, than worry about increasing my repetitions. This has been the single most effective improvement for me.

Anyway, gyms are a source of inspiration. Everyone I look around are fighting their own battles. The ultra-fit guys and gals are either trying to go that extra mile in the same amount of time, or lift that extra kg. The beginners like me meanwhile are just trying to be better than yesterday. I love the feeling of being marginally better than yourself from yesterday. That's all you need to aim for. Nothing more.

And if you need motivation, this poster by the oatmeal is all you need.

Just do it Later

Sensational News

We have come to a point in time in history of human evolution where we almost consume all our news from social media (62% of U.S adults use Facebook as their primary source of information, and I am pretty sure the story is similar elsewhere).

Now, things that get shared and clicked on Facebook, generally don't tend to be of the garden variety. These are necessarily sensational, controversial or down right false. To add to it, Facebook fired it's human editors that curated news and used news bots to decide the "Trending topics" that we got to consume. This led to a false but sensational news to trend on Facebook for a long while sometime ago. While I am sure over a period of time, these bots will be intelligent enough to sniff out the false and bury, sensationalism shall remain.

When I was young, I subscribed to the fact that we were being manipulated by big giant corporations with their hidden agendas. Now as I am getting older, I have realized that we are just getting fed what we desire. If you click on "5 ways to lose 10 pounds by next Friday" that's what you are going to get more of. There may not be any hidden agendas. After all, everyone has a profit motive. In the big bad world of the internet, our clicks are the currency. What we click is what we get more of!


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Briefest History of Time

I loved this webcomic by XKCD this week. Though it's written to counter climate change skepticism, it also serves as a super compressed explanation of human history and it's associated events on a beautifully drawn timeline explaining the average global temperatures back then.

I highly recommend taking some time off your busy schedule and reading it. I spent a few hours reading about events that he has mentioned and I didn't know about. I have always had problems relating things in history to each other (Like what was happening in India when Roman empire was at it's peak etc.). This timeline sort of manages to clear the relations.

Please note that I have cut off the period between 19500 CE to 500 CE here. See the complete timeline on XKCD

A timeline of Earth's temperature

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Banana Dilemma

I try to eat Bananas in my breakfast on weekdays. It's been a while since I switched to eating oats for breakfast. Now oats by themselves are quite tasteless to eat. So I decided to put in some cut fruits. I chose bananas because they are easy to peel and cut in the morning rush, taste good and are known to be instant sources of energy and happiness.

If you are still eating sugary cereals for breakfast, I would highly recommend switching to oats. Besides, the health benefits of oats, one of the major reasons why I love them for breakfast is - they keep me full till lunch. I don't feel like having a mid morning snack ever.

Anyway, this post ain't about the oats. It's about the bananas. Now, the "organized" being that I am, I try to grocery shop for the next week on a Sunday. That way, we don't need to worry about groceries during the weekdays. So every Sunday I buy a bunch of bananas (5-6) with the thought that they will last me till the Friday of the next week.

However this is the problem with bananas - When I buy, they are green. Monday, Tuesday, they ain't ripe enough. So I eat unripe bananas for breakfast. Wednesday they are perfectly ripe. Thursday and Friday I eat overripe bananas. So my perfect breakfast only happens on the mid of the week. Rest of the time, I am struggling with unripe or overripe bananas.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Gift giving

While I am very convinced by the idea of buying gifts for others, I firmly believe that most of the times I have no clue what to gift to other people. Just the other day, I attended two birthday parties. One for a 1 year old and the other for a 1 month old. Abiding by the social norms, we bought gifts for both of them. The 1 month old got a teether. The 1 year old got a dress.

Now, I am quite sure both of them have had enough teethers and dresses gifted to them already. I just added more to their stuff just to confirm to social norms. But the sad part was, we spent a few hours choosing the "perfect" gift, though completely knowing that those kids would already have something like that.

I am now totally convinced that in this age of social media, we should all have a "Wishlist" online of the things that we wish to buy openly shared with our social circle. Also, it should be perfectly acceptable to just give money as a form of gift so that the recipient can go and buy what they desire. This would lead to people accumulating less stuff, and clueless people like me not spending hours in the wrong aisle of a supermarket wondering what to gift!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Whiteboard Markers

As a part of my job, I get to meet people and convince them how our software can best solve their business problem. So besides spending time to prepare for that very short hour that I get to meet them, I also need to be prepared for all eventualities so that I can walk out of the meeting room at the end of the hour with a convinced customer.

While the regular presentations and live-demonstrations have their needed impact, I have realized that drawing things on a whiteboard when a customer asks a question has it's own charm. Not only does it help to visualize complex problems easier, but also it adds a certain level of interactivity that presentation slides lack. Now, over the last several years, I have been to countless meeting rooms and seen thousands of whiteboards. If there is one consistent thing that I have always noticed is - the white board markers never ever work.

I can safely make it into a corollary - "A randomly kept whiteboard marker next to a whiteboard in a meeting room will never work".

So, if you are in a job like mine, always carry a working whiteboard marker with you. Trust me, it will make you look good and well prepared to do your perfect presentation!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pens of India

There is this particular brand of ballpoint pens that I have been using for the last 10 over years. Every time I do an India trip, one of the items that I stock up on - are these pens. They just work without any hassle, and are very very cheap. Somehow, inflation in India doesn't seem to have affected their prices and as far as I can remember it has always been Rs. 5 (The Lexi 5n Variety).

Lexi Pen

Now before you judge me, I have to remind you that I have given other pens a very reasonable try.  From the very expensive Watermans and Sheffields of the world, to the Lamys, Parkers, Pilots and Uni-balls I have tried them all.While those pens look incredible beautiful and are a pleasure to show-off, when the pedal hits the metal (or when the tip meets the paper!), I find that the paper qualities that I use to write on are not upto their standard. The most common problem I have is - they blot/ smudge on the paper.

I also toyed around using classy ink (nib-tip) pens. They write beautifully but they are a nightmare to carry around. Especially in an aircraft, the ink tends to come out because of the low cabin pressure. And then carrying around the ink everywhere is kind of a hassle.

As for these pens from India, they just write! Smoothly, without any issues. Any kind of notebook or paper I buy, they work. I am running out of my last pen in my current stock, and I thought I write about them. Why? Well cause they help me plan my day every day!.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Get up and go

So Pokemon Go was released in Singapore yesterday. I bumped into a lot of people walking around with their phones out hunting Pokemons in the mall next to my house yesterday. I can see the frenzy catching up instantly. Now it will be another round of national pastime until something else comes along. Angry Birds and Candy crush, you have been now one-upped.

Anyway, social evil or not, I believe this game will go down in history as the first game that made people come out of their houses out in the open and explore their neighborhood albeit through Augmented Reality. What Geocaching, most fitness bands and health tracking devices couldn't do, Pokemon Go achieved it. Period.

This is what Gamification is all about. Challenging friends on Fitbit never helped if they were as unmotivated and lazy as you were. And if you had a really fit friend, most of the times they were far far ahead of you and you had no motivation to compete. Thank you Pokemon Go for making the world a healthy place again, I hope you figure out how to keep people out of danger while they are zapping away monsters with their phones out in the open. And I hope you can monetize all that information you gather from our Pokemon habits to creep us out further.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Follow your dreams

As far as I recall, every kid is told that they can follow their dreams. Somewhere in the middle of your life you are beaten into submission and you follow a safe track for your life. Sometimes you choose it, but most of the times it is the "tried and tested" path that your parents walked on. Get a "stable" job (or whatever that means!). Work a 9-6 routine till you retire.

There are some amongst us, who go against all odds and still follow their childhood dreams. I always am amazed by such people and I have my utmost respect for them. A few years ago (2013), I came across this relatively unknown singer (for me!) and his song. Now, if you read the YouTube comments below his song, they are mostly negative. For me, however he was an inspiration. Follow your dreams. He did what he loved, and he did what most of us can never do. This was his first English song that got my attention a few years ago. It apparently took him 30 long years to pen the lyrics for his first song. That's dedication!

And recently I came across a new song by him. It's different, but mind you, he got a nice voice and he followed his dreams, what many of us dare not do!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

10th Anniversary

So it dawned on me that I have been writing this blog for 10 years. Today, I officially mark the 10th year of me writing my thoughts here. What started as a "Hello World" persisted as a weekend hobby for a decade.

A decade is almost 30% of my life. A long time indeed. But as I grow old, I realize that time periods look smaller and smaller. So a year of my life used to be a significant time period when I was in school. Now even 5 years look small. I think that's what growing old is all about. In my teens anyone above the magical age of 25 looked old to me. Now in my late 30s, everyone looks young (may be the early 70s are the old people for me as of now!).

Life goes on. Thank you for reading my thoughts. And thank you for being with me in this journey.