Sunday, January 7, 2018

Read more

One more negative impact of too much access to the internet is that - I have almost completely stopped reading books. I have gotten used to consuming bite sized information off the internet, whether it is through my RSS Feed reader (Feedly) or through Reddit.

I hardly read 2 books in 2017. A very miserable number in my entire adult life. Looking at the way we are getting addicted to consuming news online, I felt it was important to force myself to read books and tune out. So one of the first purchases I have done this year is to buy an e-book reader (Kindle) and plan and book reads on the go.

While I have always been the traditional paper book variety reader, I realized that carrying big books around is a burden that I no longer enjoy. The result has been that I only ended up reading books when I was at home. I hope the Kindle with its light weight  helps me to read more books on the go.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year-end reflections

2017 will go down in my professional career (till now) as the year I worked the hardest. Personally it will be the year I traveled the craziest (mostly for work) and didn't really have much of a work-life balance.

The way things are getting extremely connected (always-on) we are increasingly immersing ourselves into a work-only culture. The constant checking of email on phone, the buzzing of instant messages from all over the world (office colleagues, customers, partners, vendors - the list goes on). I think it is now time for us to actively disconnect or at least have preset hours in a day where we intentionally switch-off our email and all kinds of messaging services even on our phones.

If you are like me, what can we strive to do differently next year? Well, I have been going through a mid-life crisis of sorts (for several years now) and I am beginning to question my definitions of both - happiness and success. These are highly subjective, overly marketed and poorly defined terms in everyone's life. Unless you really "identify" your definition of happiness and success - you will be endlessly and thanklessly stuck in the rat race called the "fast-paced life".

So, my plan for my resolutions for 2018:

  • Identify what is my definition of success and happiness
  • Ruthlessly cut down on peripheral activities that do not contribute to either
  • Subscribe to the JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) philosophy
  • Actively minimize and simplify my life
Wish you all an amazing 2018

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Binge Watching

Today will go down in my life history (in Google) as the day I binge watched Conan videos all day! I have binge watched only once before. That one time when we discovered House of Cards and completed Season 1 in one day. But today was different. I was not watching episodes (they have continuity, and that's a reason why we can't stop at the end of an episode cause you are curious to know what happens next!). Today I was just randomly watching Conan videos all day, with my YouTube on auto-play.

Now, I am a big fan of a lot of talk shows. My daily dose of YouTube videos (in no particular order) consists of:
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
While all of the talk show hosts are funny and interesting, I guess most of them are very driven by political opinions and current affairs. Conan on the other hand is pretty random, and I love his sense of humor. He has all these random videos of him traveling, learning self-defense, being mean to his staff and generally being silly. I would highly recommend you binge watching him.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Wise Men Dancing

In my quest to stay abreast with the latest music that the current generation is listening to, I still try to listen to the top tracks every week from YouTube. Most of the music is hit and miss for me now. Reflects my age.

I realize that you somehow can only associate with the songs that you heard as a teenager. Songs before that are too old for your taste and the songs after that are just not cool enough. I think every generation thus has a decade of music and musicians that they really like and then everyone else is just okay.

Anyway, while listening to the latest generation, I chanced across this video by Carly Rae Jepsen featuring Tom Hanks (my generation). It is tastefully done, and for some reason I think I really love videos which get popular old male actors to dance in them.

So without further adieu I need to link you guys to the other cool song that I know of an old male actor featuring - Christopher Walken (again) and his amazing dance in the Weapon of Choice by Fatboy Slim.

So I guess, I can safely conclude that - to get a lot of views for your video, you don't necessarily need a lot of cute girls (read K-pop) but you can do it by getting a wise old actor dance for you!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Beat Yesterday

By some pleasant random act of fate, I ended up switching my fitness trackers from my beloved Fitbit to a Garmin. While the Garmin by all means is awesome, I have a feeling it is meant for serious athletes among us. Most of the times I feel like my Garmin fitness tracker looks down upon me. It's like - "You are too unfit for me! Getup you lazy human, I am designed to be worn by active ones!" Doesn't help me with my inferiority complex.

Anyway, the one thing I like about it is the concept of beat yesterday! It doesn't set me ambitious impossible goals. The goals for the next day are based on what I did the previous day (or rather they use a smoothing factor of last several days!) This means that if I have had a particularly active week, then my challenge for next week is to live up to my previous week. In the same context, if I have been lazy for a while, Garmin steps down my challenges and just expects me to do marginally better.

This I feel is a very important life lesson. You have to work hard for everything in life. And consistency is rewarded more than random acts of hard-work followed by bouts of lazy days. Your goals, hobbies and ambitions can only be achieved if you consistently work towards them and just continuously aspire to beat yesterday!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pseudo Carpenter

Last few weeks, I have had the pleasure of installing a lot of IKEA furniture. Tables, Chairs, Beds, Wardrobes, you name it and I tried my hand at assembling them.

IKEA furniture assembly is easy. I believe they have a bunch of monkeys in a room somewhere. And the monkeys have been trained to follow instructions. The assembly manual of every new piece of IKEA furniture is tested and quality controlled by the monkeys before it is released to the general public.

Assembling the furniture gives you a false sense of accomplishment. I pretended like I was a carpenter for a few days. In reality, all I did was follow the simplified instructions. Playing with a lot of LEGO blocks as a child also helps.

Anyway, IKEA deserves all the credit for making me feel happy! I have never ever been good at wood-work. The only time I had to do some remote wood work was in the first year of engineering. We had to make a T-joint using a block of wood. I think mine was the worst amongst my classmates. So now being able to assemble several pieces of furniture really gives me a high!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Anti-social Media

Sometime almost a year ago, I felt depressed, demotivated and very sad with where my life was headed. I decided that Social Media was turning me dumber, and I was wasting a lot of time on things that didn't matter to me.

I deleted my Twitter and Facebook account in one shot and got rid of the social media addiction that I had developed. Now I no longer get to see my friend's babies, their travel routines, and how much fun they are having. My real-life friends are still in touch with me, and then I occasionally reach out to distant people whom I miss.

Deleting Facebook was the best thing I could have done to my time. I magically garnered at least 1 hour of time on weekdays and a solid 3+ on weekends. I never ran out of data on my phone, other than that one time I had to tether for work related stuff. That, along with the fact that I didn't have to be jealous of anyone else's awesome life, really helped.

Over the years I have realized that I can't wane myself away from stupid addictions unless I really discipline myself by taking extreme steps. This doesn't mean that I don't waste time anymore. It's just that my new time drain is Reddit.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Simple Wardrobe

Talking of minimalism reminds me that I have reached the zen state in one aspect of my life - clothes and shoes. The rule I have adopted is very simple.

You can only have "X" number of items of clothing. The x is what you are comfortable with (it can be any number, smaller the better). And the x splits into a, b, c for types of clothing and so on. So a simple wardrobe could be:

10 Formal Shirts
5 Formal Trousers
5 T-shirts
3 Shorts
etc. etc

While the concept is deceptively simple, it's harder to implement than what you think. The key is to maintain the X constant. So if you plan to purchase something new, an old piece of clothing has to give way. And it has to be of the same type. So a trouser can only replace a trouser and so on.

I have been using this system for last 2+ years. I look boring cause I keep repeating my clothes, but at least, I have reduced my clutter, and I am happier with my wardrobe more than ever before. And the best part is - every piece of clothing is something I love and comfortable in. And I no longer do random purchases because I see things on sale!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fake Minimalist

So we moved again. Again??!! Yes again. And I went through the notions of packing, throwing, repenting buying and cursing myself for all the stuff we own. And while I thought I had become a minimalist since the last time I moved, I figured that was just a notion.

The good part is - there was no significant increase in stuff since the last time we moved (28 boxes). The bad part is - I still have a lot of stuff (28 freaking boxes of what??!!). Minimalism is harder than you think it is. While I have severely cut down on my purchasing habits, it's next to impossible to reduce what I already own. And trust me - I have already minimized my clothes and shoes. So the boxes I am talking about are everything else but clothes and shoes.

I think true minimalism comes when you actually manage to throw away 80% of the stuff you own and live in the 20%. So here we go again. Back to square one. Minimalism is a journey and I have just begun.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Smart Consumerism

So 4 years ago I bought a Samsung Smart TV. It is an internet connected TV that lets me do other things on the TV beyond just watching cable. Now my favorite activity on the internet that I love to do on the television is - watch YouTube.

I believe I watched more YouTube on my TV than I watched cable television. Then all of a sudden on 30th June 2017, YouTube stopped working on my TV. I searched around on the internet a bit and realized that YouTube decided to move to a new platform (HTML5) and the older apps are no longer supported. Samsung has gone silent on this issue, but it is anybody's guess that they won't go update their old TVs.

And it dawned on me that - what used to be consumer goods with decades of life (our TV, Refrigerator, Washing Machine grew up with me), now will suddenly stop working on you, even though they are in a perfectly good condition. This my friends, is the beginning of SMART Consumerism.

While we get all gung-ho about IoT and everything getting "SMART". What we tend to forget is - these products will not be updated forever. I am sure most manufacturers will support them for 3-4 years (even if they plan to support!) and then they will expect you to trash it and buy a new one.

There goes minimalism down the drain and so does the planet. Say hello to more stuff.