Tuesday, October 20, 2020

static

 I realize most of life is cyclical. Ups and downs. Never a straight line. A dynamic equilibrium.

Seasons are cyclical too.

And this pandemic is turning out to be more cyclical than initially imagined.

But there are times when things do not seem cyclical.

Halfway on the way up of the cycle, just before things start to taper off, we probably don't care much. Things are great, sure, and even if the upward trajectory seems like it will flatten out, it's still great, right?

Things are different on the downturn though.

Things are going downhill, fast.

The trajectory is headed straight down, with no apparent force to bring things back to flat.

But as things go downhill, the feedback should start to kick in. Shouldn't it?

Survival instinct is a label for so much more than it might seem like on the surface.

At what point does too much of a good thing become a bad thing?

How do you turn too much of a good thing, that's become a bad thing, back into a good thing?

Is it really about the good thing or the bad thing?

Time continues to move at its constant pace, while my perception of it seems to slow down. Days, weeks, months lived without a trace. And all this while, what seemed like things going OK is actually more like dropping at terminal velocity, giving the impression that nothing is moving.

I don't think I have ever spent such a long period of time just... static.

Not moving.

Not thinking.

Not anything.

And the funny thing is, I know what can help me.

I need to get off the couch and drink a glass of water.

Stretch my legs.

And m shoulders. Damn, my shoulders need a stretch!

Take out the trash.

Fill some air in the bike.

But I'd rather not.

And that's what worries me.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

paypal scam/security issue: you could be billed by merchants you've terminated your agreement with!

Paypal users:

Turns out some sellers add themselves as pre-approved billers and don't/can't remove themselves when you cancel your membership/billing agreement. You have to remove it yourself, or they could charge your paypal in the future without any advance warning. Your only clue would be a notification that the money has already been deducted from your paypal, and at that point you cannot decline/reverse the transaction by yourself.

To prevent that, remove unwanted billers from the following link:
When I checked today, I had a couple of merchants on the list who I have not used in years, and am personally aware of merchants who have fraudulently charged people I know in the last couple of days. 
Paypal refuses to entertain any complaints regarding merchants if they're on the list - their argument is that you have agreed to be billed by the merchant, so any problems are now between you and the merchant. Paypal has also said that the agreement can only be ended if agreed by the user AND the merchant, which leaves the feature wide open for abuse.

The feature of being able to view pre-approved billers is new to paypal even though having pre-approved billers is an old thing. it could be that paypal added the feature in response to complaints, but their handling remains poor. Please take care of yourselves by removing billers from the list, or you might be faced with a lengthy fight to get your money back! If the balance was deducted from paypal itself you're out of luck. If it was deducted from your credit card you still have hope as you can raise a dispute there.

ps: special shout out to past users of Shaw academy (www.shawacademy.com), as they recently did this (deduct money from people who had canceled their memberships over a year ago)

Monday, September 14, 2020

problems and solutions

some problems become easier to solve by merely by thinking of the solution.

others need you to actually grab your tools, get over your fears and get your hands dirty while getting nowhere, and then dig in and remind yourself the biggest failure is to never have tried.

- kris, trying to solve two different problems on the same day

Monday, August 24, 2020

38... sorry, 37

you know you're old when you need to subtract your birth year from the current year to get your age.
-kris, not many years ago

 

you know you're old when you subtract your birth year from the current year to get your age, and get it wrong.
-kris, 15th august 2020

That's right. It happened. Luckily for me, I realized it before I posted my age anywhere... or wrote this blog post.

It's been an interesting year, for sure.

Last year, on my birthday, I had just passed my UK driving test (oh yeah!), and was preparing for my motorcycle test. My parents were over for a 3 month visit. We were doing one vacation every month.

Things seemed to be going rather nicely. Everything was "on track" - I was checking things off my (imaginary) checklist, and so was Shruti.

In the 12 months since then, things have changed.

Work got busier, our vacations changed from hopping on to a flight/train/bus to hopping onto our newly purchased motorcycle (and usually, taking the motorcycle on and off a ferry).

I discovered the joy of running. And for the first time in my life, I was able to run 5K without limping past the finish line with my legs on fire. I was able to run 5K thrice a week, during my lunch breaks, chatting with my running buddies while we ran. I could probably have run 5k every day if I wanted to, but I didn't.

Shruti got her first full time permanent job in the UK. A big relief (and step forward) for the both of us.

We about a month of dealing with living in a house with both of us working from office 5 days a week.

And then, COVID-19 happened.

Beyond the obvious canceled vacations (and postponed visit to see our family back in India), and the expected cabin fever/work from home etc that everyone we know had (/has?) to deal with, we got to experience more time together than we usually would. For the first time since we met each other, we've been within 12 feet of each other almost 24 * 7. We got to watch each other work, share our ups and downs in ways we never imagined we would.

We also realized that if we take away the social aspect of eating/drinking, it stops being fun. And so, we embarked on a health trip of sorts. No significant exercise, but just eating healthy. Eating clean.

I lost 8kg in 4 months (that's over 10% my body weight). I'm now lighter than I was 20 years ago. The last time I weighed this much, I was an acne-riddled teenager, who hadn't had my first shave yet.

And for the first time, this feels sustainable. Almost.

It feels amazing to be able to use my body the way nature intended it to. And while I'm not in perfect shape, it doesn't seem like i'm very far from it (yes, i know, there's no such thing as "perfect" anything, but let's just say I have an idealized image of what I would like to be).

On the other hand, it's also been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

I've tried to ride the rollercoaster the best I can, trying to reach for greater heights, and avoiding the murky depths of no return. So far, so good - but there are times when it feels like it's just sheer luck that keeps me from doing things I'd regret.

I have tried to learn from this year. I have tried to learn differently from this year.

I have tried solving problems as a partnership.

I have tried not "fixing" situations, but working cooperatively to find sustainable solutions for everyone involved.

It's hard to say that it's working - things always seem good until they're falling apart. In fact, things seem better than good until everything flips and it's suddenly a complete disaster.

But I'm learning to see things differently. And I'm also learning that it's not enough to see things differently, but to also try to see things alike. And work together towards that ideal.

Also, after maybe 15 years of "make every moment count", and frantic madness of trying to squeeze the most I can into every day of my life (only to despair when the unsustainability of it all comes back to bite me), I've started treating my life as a journey, not a series of destinations.

I once believed (and publicly stated) "life is too short for reruns". I don't believe so any more. Life is not too short for reruns. Life is too short to waste it doing things you don't enjoy.

Life is too short to waste it trying to be happy within the constraints I've assumed I need to live within.

Life is long enough to make every moment count. Even if it's not on the bucket list.

Life is more than a bucket list. Life does not even need a bucket list. Life just needs you to be mindful of what is fulfilling (not necessarily happiness-generating), and what is not.

Oh, and age is not even a number.


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

unlocked

two weeks ago, when we took the plunge and decided to venture out of home for a 3 day ride/vacation, thanks to the governments of UK and Ireland deciding it was safe to do so, and bnbs and campsites opening up to take guests, we were finally out of our home for the first time in 4 months, down to the day (11 march - 11 july).

we didn't decide on our trip until literally 36 hours before our departure time: we read all the guidelines, news, statistics, thought long and hard about the precautions we could take, etc.

and then, we hopped on to our trusty motorcycle and enjoyed the ride. sanitizer every where, frequent hand washing (in public washrooms, which aren't really known for being perfectly clean, and in these times, gave a feeling similar to navigating a minefield!). i joked at one point that we're probably the cleanest we've ever been on a ride.

while we were riding back, we told each other: precautions notwithstanding, we'll stay away from everyone for the next two weeks. just one of us doing groceries, once a week, wearing a mask, etc.

that was not to be.

by the time the weekend had neared, our friends were making plans to meet up. we wanted to stay away from people to minimize risk, and thought it shouldn't be difficult. staying 2 metres apart in a park spread over thousands of acres, right?

and then there were other friends planning to meet up. the cafes were open. people were making plans to consume some good ol' alcohol in each others' homes.

and every time we accepted an invitation, we told ourselves: we'll take precautions.

sure, we didn't do silly things like sharing food/drink.

but you can't play exploding kittens without touching each others' cards. and we were probably a foot apart at the cafe. literally shoulder to shoulder with the windows closed in the car we pooled in.

and so, here's the tally over two weeks:

meeting in open spaces maintaining more than 1 metre distance: ~19 adults + a few kids (we did gather closer for a few seconds for photos)

meeting in closed spaces maintaining 1 metre distance: 3 adults

meeting in closed spaces not maintaining 1 metre distance: 13 adults

meeting in close proximity: 6 adults

restaurants/cafes visited: 4 (3 on vacation, 1 after)

oh, and we have collectively made over 5 grocery store visits in 2 weeks after the return from vacation + at least as many during our vacation itself (it's surprising how quickly these add up!) + visits to other shops + 2 ferry rides.

when you add these up, the numbers are mind boggling! we're up from meeting 1 person in an open space at over 1 metre distance over a two week period, to 41 people, most in higher risk situations over the next two weeks!

i just hope whatever analysis fed into the decisions to reduce restrictions and the test-and-trace programs that have been recently kicked off do their job in case the number of covid-19 cases increase.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

life after a pandemic

the last few months have involved more than a few revelations, as far as my relationship with "life" is concerned. it started with re-evaluating the obvious stuff: work, private open spaces, friends, food, health, my couch (oh yeah, I'm sure a lot of people feel very differently about their sitting arrangements now). but beyond the obvious stuff, there's a lot more that I've had the opportunity and time to evaluate.

my marriage, for example. being with the same person 24x7 has changed us. we have covered in 3 months what we would have been lucky to cover in 3 years in more ordinary circumstances.

but the biggest revelation of all, one that I think I have observed for the first time today, is that travel has something to it that cannot be explained by anything else. I used to think it was just about new experiences, a break from the normal, pushing myself, planning (just kidding, my travel does not involve anything more than very superficial planning), or maybe just time with my two wheels... but no, it's not any of those. because travel is not the only way to experience anything I could think of. and in these 3+ months that I couldn't travel (in the way I would like to), I think I gave all of the alternatives a shot. and they all worked, up to a point. but then they didn't.

I still can't explain it. but all lack of rationalisation notwithstanding, I will sleep in a strange (hopefully well sanitized) bed tonight, exhausted, but fulfilled. a feeling I have missed for these months.

a feeling I've felt every time I've travelled. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

good

as i get ready to fall asleep, my mind inevitably finds things to mull over. tonight it was "how was my weekend?"

well, my weekend was good. but not in my usual sense of "good" - in one phrase: i did nothing.

well, technically i didn't "do nothing". i slept in (both days!), we saw a movie (horror, for a change - thanks to shruti noting it's a genre we have both avoided in the 5+ years we've known each other) and countless episodes of family guy (only a handful of seasons left!). i read stuff online (didn't touch my kindle though), took vicki for a spin (got stuck in traffic, didn't expect that!), ate (mostly) healthy, baked a wee cake, did our week's grocery shopping. and slept even more.

spent a lot of time thinking, talking about non mundane stuff, getting cosy, and just generally being together... but not doing anything particularly memorable.

perhaps having a good weekend is not about what we do, but what we feel.

and i feel rested and recharged.

and good.

static

 I realize most of life is cyclical. Ups and downs. Never a straight line. A dynamic equilibrium. Seasons are cyclical too. And this pandemi...