6 July 2020

Report out on not cross posting to Facebook

It was three months back that I had floated the idea of not cross posting from my blog to Facebook. Was soundly denounced by all commenters not to do any such thing. Not exactly of sound mind or body, I went ahead and did it anyways. Actually took Parijat’s advice of “try out for some time”.

I thought I will try it out for a month. It has been three months now. That itself says something. Here are some learnings…

What I gained:
a. A lot of time and self control: It was preposterously difficult in the beginning – missing out on all the comments and counter comments and likes and a rewarding engagement model with the readers and commenters. But over time, I realized what a time waste it had become for me. Now I check Facebook for 15 minutes in the morning – usually there is nothing for me – so, I scroll thru updates of others, smile at the furious points and counterpoints on mask versus no mask, virus versus hoax, Democrats versus Republicans, BJP versus Congress and log out of my laptop screen.

b. Focus on the quality of my blog: With that extra time, I have started focusing on my blog. The writing is still as bad as before but I have started working on how the blog looks. That – and some great encouragement from Larry – led me to learn HTML and CSS (and now I am learning PHP) to make all sorts of tweaks to the blog. You remember how the first time a kid learns fonts and colors and soon the whole document is filled with all the colors of rainbow and all font styles and sizes possible? Yes, I am that dangerous now.

c. Learnt to tweak the model: Over time, I learnt how to mix and match for best results. I still post once in a while directly to Facebook (like this one). After requests from folks like Kenneth, I started a email subscription to my blog (initially I was against it). Instead of immediate email notifications, there are weekly digests that go out. And then somebody suggested – why not send the digest to Facebook with links. Which is what I do now. I am also getting good tips – from folks like Milind, as an example, how to make a lot of things in my blog still better.

I would have missed all this if I had not “tried” out this experiment, that I am afraid is here to stay with me.

What I lost:
d. What I miss most is all the random updates of friends. I had to ply thru a lot of political and other opinions to get those posts, but usually I would get one or two interesting updates every week. Spending 15 minutes on Facebook does not get to that.

Net net, I think Facebook had become an addiction. I think I have been able to get myself back to where I wanted – it is a tool and I will use it as I deem fit and not the other way around.

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28 June 2020

Marketing gone awry?

This goes back a few weeks when Sharmila and I had this debate about distilled water. She had bought distilled water to make coffee at home. We get our water from our well and it can sometimes clog up small appliances because of very small debris.

I was arguing the case that we should not be drinking distilled water. Any water we drink needs to have some amount of minerals etc. Which is why all the cities process the water and add certain elements before it is sent out to the house taps. I also have very severe doubts if the water she bought is truly distilled – that would make the water very costly. It is probably super filtered or something.

Yesterday, when picking up water at the Kroger near our hotel, I noticed “Distilled Water” was the only thing left in the shelves (in the big size container I was looking for). What caught my eye was the marketing twist the label had.

It did state that it is produced by steam distillation. I can’t still fathom the costs of all the energy required to boil the water and then cool it back again after capturing the vapors.

But what made me laugh was mentioning that the source was “Deep Wells”. I suspect to give you a sense of pure and cold water?

My question was – How does it matter? You are distilling the water. The source can be from anywhere in this world – the output will be exactly the same. It is DISTILLED water. It will have no other molecule than H2O. You can boil dirt water and distill it and get exactly the same product.

But I guess these are the days of marketing. We have seen Smart Water, Vitamin Water … Why else would we pay exorbitant prices for tap water put in a bottle rather than have it from a tap?

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28 June 2020

Did you know there is a blue circle?

Usually I get to a green circle on the outer ring on the left set of dials every night. That means I got my 7-8 hour of sleep. Once in a while, I get a yellow if I do not get enough sleep. And in some rare cases, I get a red – especially in long flights because of the disturbed sleep.

On Friday, I woke up after a good night’s sleep. But was somehow not totally feeling well. After driving to Hilton Head, I slept off in the hotel bed for another long bout resulting in getting nearly twelve hours of sleep for the day.

Felt better after it. Also noticed that the Apple Watch sleep ring had turned bright blue! I had no idea that there was another color for the rings!

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28 June 2020

This is a special blog – my 6,000th!!

Taking a break from blogging from my vacation posts to post this one. This is my 6,000th post. What started as a journey of just wanting to write down my learnings from work life during a year off (second one) then morphed into running adventure logs and then a journal for intersection points and eventually became just a place to write down my reflections of moments of my life. And hopefully not forget how to put English words together to form comprehensible sentences.

I remember my biggest fear when I had started blogging. I had a feeling people start doing these things with a lot of gusto and then the energy peters out rapidly. The question I had for myself was how long would I be able to keep up my energy. I believe I have found an answer to that question.

Fifteen years of blogging. That would mean, I have posted a little over one post a day! Some might suggest that is too much! I think they would be right!!

I hope they are right. Life would be nothing if you did not do a few things here and there that people would be critical about.

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27 June 2020

Is “home” a lie we tell ourselves?

I read this a few days back in one of those Stoicism write ups. (Roger Whitney had introduced my to Stoicism). Worth reading for all of us. Although the message will probably not resonate with youngsters as much.

If you’ve ever made it to the end of Homer’s Odyssey, you might have noticed a rather strange part of the ending. It’s a part that’s talked about a lot less than the rest of the poem, possibly because it makes so little sense. You see, despite spending every waking second for ten years fighting to get home, despite overcoming nearly insurmountable obstacles on his way, despite all the carnage of the final battle to reclaim his kingdom, Odysseus does something almost inconceivable the second he possesses what he longed for…

…he starts planning to leave again! On another mission. Another voyage. Didn’t he learn his lesson? Can’t he be content or happy for even one minute? Apparently not.

Perhaps this is really the message of the epic: We are incapable of being still. Even when we get what we want, we immediately crave something else. We are addicted to the hunt, to the journey, and ‘home’ is just a lie we tell ourselves. Isn’t that sad?

Seneca, an ambitious guy if there ever was one, wrote about the shameful spectacle of the “lawyer whose dying breath passes while at court, at an advanced age, pleading for unknown litigants and still seeking the approval of ignorant spectators.” He was just talking about Odysseus in another form — he was talking about all of us who can’t stop, who have to keep going, who have to keep achieving, who are incapable of knowing what “enough” is.

The key to a great life — and to happiness — is stillness. It’s contentment. It’s enjoying what we have. It’s the ability to say “no”. To reject the temptation to do more even if more is another impressive journey or an occupational honor.

Stop. At least for today. Just stop. Be still.

The author also talks about the book “Stillness is the Key” as a suggested read. As you will see in review of the book I did in April this year, I was fairly unimpressed. I will post if I come across better books (by my judgment).

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24 June 2020

Who knew mushrooms could be this beautiful?

This one propped up right next to our road in the property on a steep climb. I saw it while driving down yesterday. After parking the car, went back uphill to check it out.

Apparently, (learnt from Sharmila who saw it is some discussion posts in our local forum) these are poisonous and pets should not be allowed to ingest them. That got me doing some reading up on how to visibly diagnose which mushroom is poisonous and which one is not.

Turns out there is no way of doing it. You have to know your mushrooms. However, I did learn a few things about mushrooms on the way.

Do you know what you call a person who actually knows their mushrooms? A mycologist! Turns out, that has Greek origins meaning “study of fungus”.

A mushroom is actually the reproductive organ of a fungus.

Also, being a fungus, evolution wise, a mushroom is closer to animals than plants!

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