Weekly Digest : 2018 07-09 to 07-15

  • Lunatic Soul : Fantastic ambient progressive rock from Riverside frontman. Under the Fragmented Sky is a tremendous album.
  • Learn How to Learn : Coursera on methods to learn in an efficient manner. It’s good to reinforce learning techniques and discard the bad ones. It’s also interesting to know how the brain works and rewires itself.
  • Thogarihunkal Estate coffee from Blue Tokai is excellent. The citrus notes come through when the coffee is not so hot. The vanilla flavour is noticeable, and the slight nuttiness of almonds adds a roundedness to the coffee.
  • Container support on Firefox is awesome! I’m not going to browse in any other way from now on.
  • Minimalism : A Documentary about the Important Things – Maybe not entirely applicable to India, but definitely takeaways for how to live a less materialistic life. Throw away things when they are no longer useful. Not when they are no longer fashionable. You can never get enough of what we really want. It’s one of the ways to become happier.
  • Why open offices is a bad idea : Been an advocate of quiet offices, remote work etc after having seen the benefits. It’s about striking the balance, however. Too many days of remote work when you don’t have a social life is a recipe for disaster.
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Game of Thorns

With the advent of smart phone apps, everything has become a game that you play. Learning a new language is measured by your leader board abilities rather than how skillful you are at it. Same goes for hobbies like photography, cooking, playing an instrument, music composing etc.

Rather than doing it for the joy of being immersed, you do it for the dopamine rush you get by being praised for it on social media. At least, I have fallen into that trap.

I’ve forgotten that it’s OK to not be good at something. That it’s OK to fail. That it’s OK to do something for enjoyment than win imaginary points from strangers on the internet. That you can do things for the sake of doing them.

Concerning Deaths

YOU FEAR TO DIE?

“It’s not that I don’t want… I mean, I’ve always…it’s just that life is a habit that’s hard to break… – Reaper Man, Sir Terry Pratchett

In the brief duration we spend on earth, we end up seeing births and deaths. While one brings joy every time, it’s not always sorrow that accompanies the latter. Having had to deal with the loss of multiple family members and friends, I think I’m at a place where I can talk about the subject with some authority.

Some losses leave wounds that may not heal at all. You’ll remember the minutest details of the incidents surrounding it. Some losses are mere unnumbered chapters that just exist. You don’t remember the date, month, year. You don’t even remember the time of the day it had happened.

In every death, one tries to find some bright spots. And in every death, one also tries to find the what might have been. The ones closest to the deceased tend to try and be on the side of the what might have been. It’s up to the rest to restore some balance.

The deeds of the individual are counted, and we are satisfied if they spent their time here in a meaningful way. Then there’s also the side that would think the person went too soon.

They say time is a great healer. It’s a generalization. Some wounds are forever. You miss them when something happens. You wish they were there. You wish they could have lived long enough to be there. You wish they could go on with the habit of living. In the end, we all end up as ash, organic matter rotting away etc. All that’ll remain are the memories. And when they are gone, we truly die.

Back to School

I still get nightmares about missing exams even though it’s been 5 years since I last sat inside a classroom. I was never a fan of the regurgitation scheme of exams. Learning should always be about the practical applicability of things. I have so much to rant about the educational system, but I’ll reserve it for another day.

I read somewhere that the one thing that school does teach you is how to learn. And that is with discipline. I have an appetite for learning new things, but I have a very short attention span(I have checked mail and twitter 5 times in between writing these many lines already). Blame it on the information overload. I call myself the noob of all trades because I know only enough tidbits about anything to start a conversation without any depth to sustain it. I wanted to go back to systematic learning which will let one go in depth into the subject. At the same time, I didn’t want it to be a boring collection of information without any examples provided to it.

Amidst my short attention span periods, I did notice that people were talking about this new way of learning things online. There were quite a few sites that offer free online courses. Having taken a few of them, I can say it works. Being able to learn at your own pace is a perk, however, procrastination can take over.

Being able to apply what one has learned in one of these courses is what would make it stick. Unfortunately, that can be an investment in itself, if such situations don’t present themselves to you in your day.

I think I will be going back to school informally. To be able to regain the skill to learn again. To experience the joy of understanding how the world works. To be a better version of myself.

From being a son to being a father

I became a father 7.5 months ago. I’d been meaning to document the events around it, how it has changed me etc, but just couldn’t find the energy, motivation etc to do so. During an IRC conversation, I mentioned that I vividly remember everything about the events surrounding the delivery of the baby and I was asked if I would be writing it down for him to read one day.

Being a parent doesn’t begin on the day your child(ren) are born. It starts from the time the pregnancy is confirmed. Every decision you make is around the mother and the yet unborn child. There’s caution in every step. What you eat, what you say, what you listen to etc are all governed by the question, “How will this affect the baby?”

The number of hospital visits for periodic checks tends towards infinity. There are scans. Every parameter mentioned in the reports are analyzed. We scoured the internet for what all of it meant, comforted ourselves before heading to the doctor’s office.

The joy of hearing for the first time, his tiny heart beating is something that can’t be put into words. And then there’s the thrill ride of not knowing about the gender, how the kid will look like etc.

The guy slowly started growing big inside his mother’s womb. Weeks, months passed. The final doctor’s appointment happened. The advice was that she would have to get admitted on a Tuesday irrespective of labour pain developing or not.

The Thursday night before that, we went to bed counting down the days. Around 11 15 pm, she woke me up and said that she had passed a lot of fluid that didn’t resemble urine. After spending about 15 minutes looking up symptoms online (I blame my over reliance on Google for my full time job for that) we decided to go to the hospital. Only, it was pouring and our car was parked a little away from the house. We had packed all our bags in expectation for this moment. We (the in-laws, my wife and I) waddled through the shin high water to the car. It was my first time driving in the rain and it was midnight by the time we started. 40 km later and an hour fifteen minutes later, we were at the hospital. As soon as she knocked on the gynecology department door, the lights in the corridor went out. That was ominous.

2 am: We are told the water bag had lost a lot of fluids.

3 am: She was administered a mild dose of drugs to induce pain.

The rest of the day: Waiting because the little fellow decided that he wanted more time inside.

We were told that the next dosage would be the next morning at 4 am. Woke up for the occasion.

The wait continued.

At about 9 am, the doctor confirmed that the delivery would happen by evening.

Around 1 pm, we were told that it would be any time soon. The wait continued. Those who had faith prayed. The doctor gave an update that she had miscalculated the head circumference and that a normal delivery was quite a bit of struggle. She realized it only after the crowning had happened. More prayers happened. Multiple thoughts went through the mind.

3:05 pm: We heard the cry of a baby inside. One of the nurses comes out and announced that it’s a boy. Smiles all around. There were quite a bit of tears.

3:20 pm. The baby was brought outside and handed over to me. I held him like he was the most delicate flower in the world. His cry was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. To hold a tiny human in your hands. To watch a being that you co-created. To have a child that loves you unconditionally, and being able to return the love.

He teaches me something new everyday. About himself. About me. I want to be a better person than I used to be the day before. I want to revisit my childhood through him while letting him have his own that’s quite different from mine and hers. I want him to grow up and be a good friend. A rational choice maker. A lover of all things beautiful. Above everything, a fantastic human being.