I enjoy reading books and essays in the humour genre the most. However, I find it extremely difficult to consistently find something funny that excites me. I look at the Goodreads recommendations for humour and all are memoir types. Or they were written a long time back. Is this genre just not explored anymore? Why do so few people write funny fiction?
Having written a few humour short stories myself, I understand that it is an extremely difficult genre to master. You can't write something that everyone will find funny. Some will like what's written, while some will consider it to be absolutely silly, or even garbage. Maybe that's the reason not many want to go through the trouble of writing something that won't find universal acceptance.
I do wonder, at times, that may be the issue is about discovery. Maybe a lot of good humour is written but I am not aware of it. If that's the case, I would like to know of them.
So what's the best humour that you have recently read, preferably something that's not memoir (because am tired of reading short essays that are only funny in parts). I would love if they are pure fiction. Or fantasy even. I am ok to read anything and everything funny. Especially in today's dire times.
If there's one positive change that the lockdown has brought into my routine, it would be that I am reading a lot more, both online essays & books. My Goodreads currently reading list is full of some wonderful books. It is a result of some intentional changes in my habit and the easy availability of a lot of free time.
I am "reading" a lot more books in their audio forms. The Audible subscription has been one of the best investments. I enjoy listening to books as I am doing other tasks. Be it the regular household choir or exercising. So if I am thoroughly involved in a book, it clearly shows in my walk/run times. I would go on long walks just to "read" more.
Additionally, I have since long stopped carrying my mobile phone with me - rather I keep my Kindle around. I always take it along as I move through my routine. This is my observation when I had first started following this habit a while back.
I take my kindle, walk to my balcony or to my terrace or to the garden and settle there. Without my phone. Or my iPad. Anyone needs my attention, they have to come and fetch me. And I realised I was back to being more earnest while reading.
This holds even today. So whenever my mind reaches out for some getaway, it's the list of books that is accessible. Not some social media feed. Or emails. No risk of doom-scrolling.
I have also realized that I can't read only one book at a time. What I want to read depends on a lot many external factors. My mood, the weather, what and who am surrounded by, the thoughts my mind is full of. So I have a list of 10 books that I am reading at any given time based on these factors. And I don't hold myself to add another to the list if none of these excites me some time.
Being a completionist has been a habit that I was proud of one time; that's not the case any more. If a book is unable to hold my attention, I will stop reading it. I will skip chapters if it is non-fiction to see if there's any other chapter that interests me. There are more pages that we can eagerly turn than there are minutes that we can breathe. Don't touch a book that doesn't keep you excited to turn to the next page.
Through some wonderful recommendations from folks I have learnt to trust now, I came across this brilliant mystery series featuring one of the most likeable characters I have read, Rabbi Small. I enjoy reading mystery as a genre the most - in that whodunit has a special place in my mind. It is the most difficult genre to write effectively.
This short read falls in the category that Agatha Christie had mastered -- the story unravels itself for both the reader and the central characters together. Everything is laid out in front of the reader with nothing being held back by the "intelligent" detective. I hate the I-knew-it-all-along sort of twists. The mysteries that don't employ such ploys can leave you with satisfaction that is of the highest order.
It is not the underlying mystery that charmed me though. It is the sincere presentation of Jewish culture in a small-town community of Barnard's Crossing, notwithstanding the humorous undertone that author Harry Kemelman maintains throughout. I loved the setting of the lovable town and the characters big and small - I connected with each one of them. I enjoyed the discussions that David Small gets into every now and then, for that matter right from the get-go when he untangles the middling mystery of a broken vehicle with his simple, basic yet effective method of listening. I knew right away that I was in for an enjoyable ride.
This is an intelligent book with a common, sincere central character. He is not the only intelligent being around - each supporting character is important and equally worthy. I loved Rabbi Small's bantering with Chief Lanigan on topics both related and unrelated to the mystery. The later, equally smart, is not there just to hear the detective unravel the mystery towards the end. He is involved too. In that manner, this book is special.
I haven't been this engaged while reading a book, or to find what happens next since a long time now. And I don't remember the last time when I rushed to pick the second book in the series this soon. I think it was when I read Christie for the first time.
I would recommend this to anyone interested in a light, cosy mystery and is ok to not be held up in the cleverness of the plot or presentation. The simplicity, then, will win you over.
I felt very close to the rain today. I don't like to get drenched in a downpour. Or to get damp in a drizzle. As a child, I used to sit at the edge of the veranda and watch the rain play its games. I did that again today after a long, long time.
The clouds gave way to a slight drizzle and eventually burst into an angry downpour. I slumped into the swing chair in the veranda and grinned as the wind lead the stream of raindrops as part of their lovely waltz. I instinctively stretched out my leg to the rain in the hope that nature's playfulness on show rubbed onto me.
It did; I felt calm, devoid of the stress that I had become so habitual to recently. I experienced a general sense of clarity within, but I wasn't thinking about anything specific. A numbness of mind that moves you meaningfully? I wish I could better word this paradox.
My recent lifestyle of the bustling metropolis has made me ignorant. When it rained, I hid behind glass with the raindrops furiously colliding against it. But then they dejectedly glided down. Not today. I let them touch me, heal me today.
I went casual shopping today. I didn't dress up as I would normally do whenever I go out in my hometown. How I look as I go outside does not matter to me much these days. Anyway, all I had to shop for was some groceries and a few ointments.
The way I looked today was fine for the larger town I have settled in. Rather the shabbier I dress up, greater the respect I gain from a store owner. Or so I believe. This theory fails royally in my comparatively smaller hometown.
As expected, I was consciously ignored by the store owners and the attendants. I, then, asked for a specific item, a Himalaya - a well-known Indian brand - face cream. I returned the Himalaya face gel asking for the cream variant. And it is then that they called me "sir".
This incident repeated itself at another store. My shabby attire made everyone attending in the store to ignore me. I then asked for a lip balm of from Nivea. I returned the strawberry flavoured one he hesitantly handed me and asked for a variant that's especially for men. It is then that they called me "sir".
I have realized over the years (and from the sheer amount of effort my dad puts in dressing up just to go out of the main door) that it matters here how you present yourself outside - especially in shops as a customer. However, if a shabby looking attire makes the store owners and attendants ignore you, the specificity of your wants makes you special.
This was such a thrilling documentary. I have rarely used that adjective for a documentary. But this one is so very different. I cannot fathom someone's possession for their passion can blind them to the risks rather conspicuous to the rest. I was aware of the free soloing as a form of climbing. What took me by surprise was the level of planning that goes into the preparation. In hindsight, it was foolish of me to think that wasn't the case, that the act was spontaneous.
I can't think of a better way to captures the immediacy of war than how Sam Mendes does with 1917. The single-take narration grips one right from the beginning and never lets off even for a moment. I was with the characters throughout their journey, feeling their anxiety, their pain. I entered every new terrain, turned every dark corner equally uneasy. What Mendes and his cinematographer Roger Deakins manage to achieve is absolute brilliance. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and was left gasping by the end. A cinematic masterpiece.
Another war flick that, sure, aimed to be different. A fast-paced action thriller about battleships is not very common. However, the economical 75 minutes of the runtime itself felt too long. The fights felt repetitive and with no other thread to hold the plot together, it was easy to skip over. Tom Hanks sells the character though. However, I am tired now of seeing him play the perfect guy. He needs to play some grey characters now, someone with a few flaws.
Bonus - Quarantine Special
I also finally watched the Quarantine special episode of Mythic Quest. This is the best show on Apple TV+, period. And this special episode was exactly what I needed now -- an understanding of what I and most of us are going through in current times. What's commendable is that it does so without giving up on the hilarity. As the episode came to the climax, it had me jumping with momentary joy. With my eyes full of happy, hopeful tears and my fists clenched, [spoiler alert] I joined Ian to shout out loud "Fuck you Coronavirus".
I have been closely monitoring what affects my behaviour recently. One of the aspects that I'd identified was that I was always judging myself, was always thinking, analyzing my current actions for their effect on my future. I'd decided to stop doing that. But while I wrote that, I hadn't realized that there is deeper malady there -- my subconscious quest to be a perfectionist.
As I was reading an essay about the downsides of perfectionism from Amanda Ruggeri at BBC, it made me aware that I've also been affected by the same trait she was warning about. I want things to be done perfectly.
At home. At work. With the activities that I do on my own. With my family. With my peers, my superiors.
It is that perfectionist voice within me that's constantly judging me, judging others. Even now, am thinking and rethinking on the ways I could word this prose. This paragraph. Is it the best way to make my point?
Why? Why do I do that? It can't be healthy.
Even on Google, the first autocomplete suggestion for "Perfectionism" is "Perfectionism is a disease". I wouldn't term this trait as that -- I don't want to flippantly use a word while representing any form of mental disorder -- it ain't a "disease" for sure. However, even an offhand read through the internet would convince you that perfectionism can lead to a laundry list of such disorders. Anxiety. Depression. And much more.
I am not sure if my habit of aiming for perfection in every task is affecting my mood and my mind in any alarming way yet. However, I think it does lead me to procrastinate at times. I don't have time now, will do it later "perfectly," I can hear my mind say every now and then.
Well, it's believed and acknowledged to be a vicious cycle - perfectionism, procrastination and paralysis. Or thought another way, it is the paralysis by analysis. Analysis paralysis.
All this lead me to a post I wrote back in 2013, on exactly the same topic of over-analyzing, overthinking. And it was then that I had linked to this term of Analysis paralysis for the first time.
That was 7 years ago. I believe I haven't managed to get rid of my trait yet. It might be time to think about getting rid of this habit. To not let my pursuit for things to be perfect to affect me, to paralyze me.
I recently wanted to attempt meditation again. I have already tried getting into a habit of regular meditation sessions many times before this. However, as always, even this time, I couldn't go through the sessions for any significant duration of time. I can't seem to understand what I am missing.
Maybe my mind is just not wired to be able to get something out of the process. Or maybe my surrounding, my current lifestyle is too chaotic to lend me space, the time to meditate. Thoughts always rush into my mind. From work. From home. From things done well. From things not yet done. I would never get into the zone where I am listening to my breathing. Maybe I am just too distracted within.
And the fact that meditation can probably help me overcome that inattention is also why it is even more frustrating that I can't appreciate this practice. I have heard many people claim how meditation calms their mind. Get the clarity of thoughts. Focus. So I feel this can help me be not this distracted. But then while I am meditating, I feel helpless to control how my mind wanders around.
I have tried multiple apps. I have tried guided sessions. Nothing seems to help. At times, I am even judging the voice that guides me. And I just sigh in disappointment.
I had heard CGP Grey talk about a similar experience in one of the episodes of Hello Internet where he just can't get himself to meditate.
I gave meditation a real try. It's not that I hate it. It's not that it's hard. It's just that my brain does not want to do this. It's really pushing back.
I was nodding incessantly as Grey spoke about his frustration of not being able to appreciate the benefits of meditation. I feel equally frustrated when I hear someone talk about how the sessions leave them more mindful, more relaxed. It just doesn't do it for me.
I spent the last weekend idling around; I did not do anything that I have always considered "productive". No reading novels. Or catching up on my read later lists. Or writing. Or working on the short story in progress. Nothing. I spent the whole two days lying on my sofa, enjoying a movie marathon with my family. I did all that without judging myself, as I had recently decided.
It's so easy to idle the whole days away. As James Clear has said, "our real motivation is to be lazy and to do what is convenient". It's only understandable then that it takes too much effort to break this built-up inertia of not doing anything. Time, then, is spent generously lazying around, scoring easy joys.
The thought also reminds of this exchange between Dan Buettner and James Hamblin during one of their interviews.
Buettner: In the long-term view, you’re better off buying experiences than some new gadget. Buying things does produce some spike in joy or appreciation, but that wears off over time. A good experience actually gains luster.
Hamblin: Despite knowing that, when I actually go to spend money on traveling or even just tickets to something, I think about how soon that will be over and gone. And if I buy a couch, I have it for years.
Buettner: But the joy from the couch wears out. You’ll still flop down on it, but it won’t provide that bump of joy.
With time as the most valuable currency, what is, then, the parallel in real life to the "gadget", the thing that time can buy? Is it the worthless, hollow hours that one spends on streaming the same, old movies or TV shows? Or is that an experience?
What Buettner refers to as joy when talking about the product vs experience discourse, is satisfaction when moved over to real life. We should judge if the activity is an experience by the longevity of the satisfaction it brings.
There's no doubt that a whole day of movie marathon can lend momentary joy. But does it do that without being a burden on your mind? If so, then it is an experience. Else you have just carelessly wasted the most valuable currency for owning a thing and it will soon stop giving you joy.
What are other examples of such experiences that time can buy?
I'm consciously slowing myself down recently while doing everything . I've spent too much time worrying about the small things, planning about things too far in future. I've realised I'm not living in the moment. That's not healthy.
So, I'm taking time doing my regular day to day activities. Slow down. Take a pause. Be cognizant of the task am doing. Be present, doing it. Not think about 10 other things that I might have to do later in the day. That doesn't help. Keep things simple.
I recently read this brilliant thought from Matt on Twitter.
Fed up of the western idea of self-empowerment where you have to become a better you, discover your inner billionaire, get beach bodied, work, upgrade. It fuels a resistance to the present. It's self-loathing masquerading as empowerment. We need self-acceptance. Self-compassion.Matt Haig
I can't agree more with Matt. I have decided to not be too harsh on myself. It's ok to not be "efficient" every time Not every activity needs to be done effectively. Or in the most time-effective way. Putting undue pressure on myself to plan things, multiple ones, so they can be grouped together. Nope, I am not ok to put myself through that anymore. All it does is adds to the already tall list of micro-stresses. Anyway, it's not as if I've too much work, too little time at hand.
Do one thing at a time. Do it slowly. Be conscious. Be present.
Seriously, I am tired of proving to Google that I'm human by selecting grids with zebra crossings in them. This task has to be a lot easier for bots than it is for me because I suck at it every time.
I think, maybe, just maybe we need some other ways to test if users online are humans. Just test us for what we suck at.
- Keep showing us optical illusions and check how we freak out. Our eyes keep making a fool of our minds and we let them. Of course, we are already being crazies by training computers to fall for optical illusions. Why, why?
- Show us a street full of people coughing and sneezing around openly and ask a single question "what's the risk that you will get coronavirus if you walk out on this street without a mask?" Apparently, no human will say 100%.
- Show the departure time of the flight. Show us the distance to the airport, the traffic en route. Ask us then when should we leave the house. Bots will always make us reach in time. Humans, on the other hand, will be either too early or too late, even when provided with all the data.
- Show us a video of people playing basketball and make us count the passes. Then just make us randomly predict when will the pandemic end. If a user selects "before August starts", has to be Human. Yeah, and also show us next the walking, chest-thumping gorilla that we missed in the video.
- Just put a simple multiple-choice question, "What will you name some random street?" with one of the options as "I don't know… name it whatever the fuck man". Majority humans apparently will select that.
You get the idea. Don't judge us by our smartness. If there's anything that the last few months have proven, it is that we ain't an intelligent species. It is our dumbness, our frailties that make us humans now.
The problem is that most of us have come to accept micro-stresses as just a normal part of a day. We hardly acknowledge them, but cumulatively they are wearing us down. And what’s worse is that the sources of these micro-stresses are often the people — in and out of work — with whom we are closest.
The point is that these micro-stresses are all routinely part of our day and we hardly stop to consider how they are affecting us, but they add up. They may arise as momentary challenges, but the impact of dealing with them can linger for hours or days.Harward Business Review
I know the burn out caused by the micro-stresses. It is pretty common especially with enterprise roles. However when you look at the possible relationships that can lead to such frictions, it is only natural that the causes can be, many a times, way closer to home.
A really insightful look at the problem and possible ways to mitigate them.
Raghav woke up from his deep slumber; he wasn’t prone to these breaks in his sleep as long as there wasn’t a reason for that. He felt he heard a constant buzzing sound; he wasn’t hearing any now. He attempted to gain his full senses. He looked at the dimmed screen of his iPhone; it hadn’t woken him up as there were no new notifications. He wasn’t fully awake yet as he could hardly see anything around through his dizzy eyes. He attempted to see the time again on his iPhone; the screen read 03:28. He didn’t feel thirsty nor did he want to take a leak.
He got up and tottered along the floor to the bathroom. "I am awake anyway, might as well go visit the bathroom". He got back to the still, dark room. The clock on the wall read 03:30 now.
Just as he fell flat facedown on the bed, the sound hit him again. He could clearly hear the steady, deep buzzing noise that had woken him; he was absolutely certain it wasn’t coming from something in his room. He got up, this time fully awake, wide-eyed. He was convinced it was a sound he had heard before, a rattle of sorts on a wooden top. He got out of his bedroom; he was certain now that the sound was coming from downstairs. He tried to calm his mind, suspecting it was his loneliness that was playing games.
Raghav stepped onto the first stair and the sound stopped with the first creak of the wooden stairs below his feet. The lack of sound now made him even more nervous. Did he make someone or something aware of his presence? Why did the sound stop? The lack of persistent hum was making his legs shake. He stood frozen on the stairs peering into the darkness beneath. It was lifeless, as it should be. But even the normal made Raghav quiver. He felt that the narrow staircase was closing in on him on both sides, becoming narrower with each second that he stood there.
"I cannot stand witless here anymore," he thought. He flicked at the switch panel. The light hadn’t even filled the staircase yet and the heavy hum filled the empty soundless surrounding again. He was sure now that his mind wasn’t playing any games with him; there was something rattling on the dining table in the kitchen. He took a deep breath and ran down the staircase. He stood at the entrance of the kitchen and peeked inside. It was pitch dark inside, except for the dancing light from a buzzing mobile phone on the dining table. Raghav was relieved it wasn’t an unexplainable sound. But the relief was only short-lived as the realization that the phone wasn’t his soon hit him.
He ambled slowly towards the shuddering device; the screen visibly showed that there was an incoming call. Before he could see whom the call was from, the phone stopped ringing and fright struck him as the room went dark around him. He scuttled across the floor to the dining table, picked up the phone, and brought the screen back to life. He heaved a sigh as the faint light illuminated his surroundings. He hadn’t even exhaled the full sigh yet before the phone in his hand started to vibrate again. He slowly turned the now-brightened screen to face him; his face went white. The screen read Incoming call . . . Raghav iPhone.
The absence of audio recording technology makes “when” a tough question to answer. But there are some theories as to “why.”Matt Soniak at Mental Floss
I have finally made my mind. I am not going to pay for HEY. It is a wonderful service, no doubt. I love it. I just don't need it.
I have been using HEY for almost two weeks now and since last few days, I have hardly acted on any emails the way the team wants me to. Most emails have been filtered out. Tells me an email as a communication medium is already pretty worthless for me. I can't pay so much for something that's worth so little. Here's my state from yesterday as I responded to an ongoing conversation.
HEY makes my email even more worthless than it already is for me. I hardly see any emails getting filtered through to me. I'm yet to decide if it's a good thing or a bad one.
I have always been a user of the free Gmail service until now. I have evaluated many email services over the years, but haven't paid for any. I do not run my livelihood over my personal email. Neither do I receive so many emails that managing them becomes a hassle of any sort. I could just sit down for a few minutes and handle all of them together. I hardly have to triage them -- snooze or reply later are all nice features. But I rarely need them.
If all the other emails services failed to pique any interest in me earlier, why did HEY even come so close? Well, because I do see how all the features they tout as game-changing can actually solve the problems many people face with their email. No wonder then that even I want to use all the features. But my current lifestyle just doesn't have any need for any of those.
But the screening and the feed and the paper trail?
Well, I spent the last couple of hours on Gmail to clean my filters -- and with that, I have now got a pretty similar workflow in place with the help of filters and customized priority inbox. Here's how my inbox looks.
Will I be able to maintain it? No idea. I have managed to sail through for so long. I had no clue about the sheer amount of emails even my current system was already "screening" out. So, I believe I would be fine.
Won't I love if a system did that for me? Well, sure I would love that. But you see Hey doesn't want to be that system. Here's an excerpt from their manifesto.
Email’s better with a human at the helm. That’s you. You’re better at deciding where things go, what your intentions are, and how you want things set up. The machines have a lot of learning to do before they'll be able to second-guess whether you actually wanted to see that email, whether it was a receipt or a newsletter, and even what you should be writing someone. At HEY, it's human intelligence over artificial intelligence.
The whole workflow in HEY begins with me screening the first time senders before they arrive at my inbox. Well, nice. However, am ok to take the same decision after it has reached my inbox -- I will create a filter. That's ugly, manual work sure. But it doesn't cost me $99/year worth of my time.
I have already created labels for feeds and paper trail. And many more. Because you see, my emails don't just fit in these two categories. I have a lot many more filters. And I have pretty simple rules for each.
- I need this mail in my inbox, unread.
- I need this to skip my inbox, but stay unread. I will get to it.
- I need this to skip my inbox and get marked as read.
- I need this to be deleted.
That's it. All my filters do just this. I will continue to do so manually. (I do wish though that the Gmail's Android app allowed creating simple filters in their app.)
And am ok to lose the email address I want?
Well, I've currently shared my Gmail address everywhere. Even if I shift to HEY, I have to change the email address registered with many of the services. I think if I am ever to go through all this trouble, it would be for one with my custom domain. In which case, it won't matter what email address I get on the service.
All in all, HEY is a brilliant service with a fresh perspective towards the way we use our emails. It can potentially enliven the email offerings from all the players, just the away Gmail did back in 2004. But I don't face the problem it is trying to solve; I have no use for all its groundbreaking features. So, I can in no way justify paying the price it asks for it.
Give me liberty or give me death? In response, the Pandemic leans forward with a big grin full of rotting teeth. Why not both? Go out! Have some fun. You’ve been cooped up too long. You deserve this.
To all who hear me, you deserve something far better than a fun holiday weekend. You deserve a long and happy life. Tell the Pandemic to get bent. Stay close to home, and cheer our nation’s beginning from your backyard or living room.
I wish more people world around listened to Cheri Baker. I do not stay in the USA. But even when peeking from outside, the attitude of "I live my life on my terms, the world be damn" is pretty clearly evident among Americans.
I am making sure I stay sane, healthy. I am spending time on, for and with myself. I am taking care of myself to the extent that I never did before.
What else could I do?
I am making sure my family stays safe. I am sharing stories, laughing a lot with them. I am playing with my daughter. All her games, without judging them. I go on an unplanned date with my wife right at home every now and then, spend a cosy morning with her in the balcony with a cup of hot tea. I am spending time with my family to the extent that I never did before.
What else could I do?
As I go outside, I always wear a mask. I do not have or present any justification to not wear one. There can't be one. I try to enlighten others, closed ones and those that aren't so, the importance of being responsible once outside of homes.
What else could I do?
Well, there is so much more that I could do. I do not openly express my anguish looking at the adverse situation the impoverished lots are going through. I do not stand for the rights of minorities world around as much as I should. Or contribute towards changing the clearly imbalanced societal status quo.
Or speak up openly when I see a gender bias in play. I haven't yet told that one guy to not keep saying "guys" in a meeting with many of my female colleagues. It is wrong. I cringe every time. But I could also speak up.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” -- Mother Teresa
Change doesn't always need radical corrections. I could bring the minor shifts in my behaviour and make my surrounding a fair place for all.
So, what else could I do?
Well, I could not ask that question because I know there's so much that I do not do. Let me make an effort to be a better version of myself because there's no doubt that I can never be perfect.
- Facebook and Zuckerberg. And I think even the big publications all round, the likes of Wired and NYTimes, need to stop writing about the issues inside Facebook. They call their edits "exclusive", tag them as an inside look at what transpired behind the tall walls. But that hardly matters - nothing ever changes at the crazy place. Because the people who can bring the change, don't want to. For some reason that is hard to fathom to outsiders, they all are conflicted within.
- Apple and Google. Too much is said about everything big and small about these companies. It piques interests in readers and so every publication has something to report about them. I can't add anything more to what has already been said, that too by minds a lot smarter than mine. I don't want to add to the noise.
- Politics. Talking about the doesn't help my morale. It rather makes me a lot angrier than I need to be. And to no avail.
- Meta rants about Blog. Not my writing workflow. Not the minor tweaks I keep making every now and then. Not the struggles I go through to get things exactly right. Just write and edit what I wrote. Keep the place the way I like to see it. Hear what others have to say about the place, the workflow, tweak it if needed and forget.
- Things I need to do. Announce them when ready. Instead of writing about it, start doing it. Get started.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started.Mark Twain
I paused at that last word in the title. I was so close to writing "hooked". But then I thought have they really sold the promise yet? No doubt, they are close. But, it's not a done deal yet.
Why is this service so enticing though? I mean it's just an email service. I don't even use the email that much. So why do I keep going back to HEY? It has got something to do with their promise. Of making me care even less for the email.
Every now and then I visit the "Screened Out" section to see all the mails I would have seen had I been using any other email app. And it is a mess in there. These emails never get filtered out with my existed setup. I am tired of setting all the filters in Gmail. It just doesn't work efficiently. Junk emails always end up reaching my inbox.
This hasn't been the case with HEY. Because they have decided on a sane default - everything screened out if not allowed earlier.
We ask every software to side with "opt-in" for every marginal aspect -- something that would split their users on whether they accept it or not. Why can't expect the same from our email service too?
- I have merged and renamed the threads -- I like the cleaner workflow.
- I have set aside the emails and marked them to be handled later. I like the idea.
- I do not like the feed; in its current form, it is almost useless. Is it just there so that I can skim through and ignore?
- I like the paper trail section. I don't want to see those emails, but want them handy.
- I love sticky notes and notes that we can put on emails. Such a simple, but brilliant idea.
However, with all said, I am conflicted. Do I want the clean experience so bad that I am willing to pay the cost? Do the junk email that I have got into the habit of deleting without a second thought bother me so much that I am willing to pay the cost? Can't I just manually screen-out the emails?
I have about a week to decide.
Vox Media has an updating list of all the Pixar movies, ranked by their Culture team from worst to best. They have been doing this since last year. So it is interesting to see the list updated with every Pixar release.
Since the release of its very first feature film, Toy Story, in 1995, Pixar has become one of Hollywood’s most celebrated animation studios. Ranging from superhero adventures to tales of a lonely robot on a post-apocalyptic Earth, the studio’s 22 movies to date have earned plaudits for being artistically adventurous and telling stories ostensibly aimed at kids that have just as many adult fans.
Yep, absolutely. I whole-heartedly agree. I and my family had recently watched Onward and had thoroughly enjoyed it. So when Vox says lets ” take a look back at the high highs and low-ish lows of the acclaimed animation studio”, even I want to attempt that. I do not agree with Vox Culture team’s ranking. So I want to put my own rankings out there.
* Nope, not gonna do that. I can’t rank all of them. There are 22 — how can you ever say if The Bug’s Life is worse than Cars 2. So, I will just give out my top ten; this is not a commentary in any sense. I am not a film critic. I can’t explain why one is artistically better than the other. What I can say is why I like, nah, love each movie in here.
10. Cars (2006)
As far as I can recall, this was one of the early movies I saw from the Pixar studio and I was left completely mesmerized. It was also the first time I realized how emotional an animated movie can leave you. The story was wonderful, made me emotional at many moments. And it wove the same magic for my daughter. So this remains a special movie, to this day; doesn’t matter if it is actually a good movie or not.
9. Onward (2020)
We watched the one the most recently as we were stuck at home for more than 3 months. And the fun we had as a family throughout was completely unforgettable. It made us laugh, made us cry and at times even terrified. It made us forget about all the terrible news that was spread through the world outside — makes it a very special movie for me.
8. Monsters Inc. (2001)
Again, another of the early movies from Pixar. I wasn’t a parent then, but it made me aware for the first time what parenting would be. As I watched Sulley and Mike struggle to keep Boo safe, at the same time growing closer to her, it made me worried and equally excited for the parent that I was one day going to be. I fell in love with Boo as she expressed myriad of expressions through her toddler face.
7. Inside Out (2015)
This has to be one of the smartest and most creative animated movies ever made. Such a creative story stitched into a brilliant movie. The colours, the characters, their journeys alone and together. How they drove the central human character was fascinating. This was again a movie that made me realize what I need not do around my daughter as she reaches adolescence one day. The story was clever, the execution was top-notch and the emotional attachment was to the point.
6. Wall-E (2008)
Another clever movie from Pixar. The first half without any spoken words was absolutely brilliant. I still can’t fathom how the studio made us fall in love with a squarish droid. He doesn’t speak, he doesn’t have any human features. But he expressed so many emotions that many of the well-paid actors fail to do. Wall-E’s struggle to express his love for Eve had me root for this lovely droid throughout the movie. Wish humans didn’t arrive later in the movie to spoil what could have been the finest movie of all times.
5. Toy Story (1995)
Another movie that I watched way back in my teens when I had started to believe I had become too grown up to watch animated movies any more. Pixar prove me wrong — boy what a masterpiece this one is. A movie with a brilliant story that also teaches you so much. Still being so much fun at the same time. Toy Story completely defined the roadmap for future animated films — they had to cater to the kids and the adults with a kid within at the same time. This movie did it so perfectly.
4. Coco (2017)
I love music. And I love getting emotional while watching a movie. Especially if it weaves stories around families. So Coco fit just the right spots for me. Boy, oh boy. Such a wonderful ride it was. Those mesmerizing colours. The peppy, moving music. The story that has you gripped throughout. Coco was an experience of a kind. Again, such a meaningful movie that teaches you the importance of a family. I had a tear rolling down my cheek during the final reunion song.
3. Finding Nemo (2003)
Another film that touched my yet-to-be-a-parent’s heart. I was rooting for the worried, clown-fish dad throughout his transformation. And I can’t recall how many more times have I rooted for this guy since then. I watch this movie every now and then with my daughter. She loves it; she asks me many questions about what plays out in the movie. I pull her close to me into a hug and answer her to the best of my abilities. Knowing very well, that soon she too would want to explore more and I would have to stop being overprotective and let her do that. Anyway, see that’s what even thinking about this movie does to me.
2. Toy Story 3 (2010)
There’s just so much to love about this movie. The friendship, the bond that we’ve seen grow over the 3 movies, comes so close to a culmination here. Full of laughter. Full of life-lessons. Full of heartbreaks. This is one hell of a movie - not just an animated one. Period. As Woody looks at Andy walking away while sitting close to Bonny towards the end, am sobbing away with joy. There are so many plots here and each one betters the last. This one is a string of masterclass at film making, one after another.
1. Up (2009)
Just with that masterful opening montage, this one enters my top ten list any day. I had a lump in my throat right at the beginning. The movie follows it up with weaving such a beautiful story about Carl and his relation with Russel and the many friends he makes over their journey to Paradise Falls. I loved each character in this movie. Russel. Kevin. Dug. Even Muntz for that matter. The movie had me empathize with this antagonist too before he goes all bat-shit crazy, that is. And of course, finally Carl. I loved Carl so much that I had one character based on him in my fictional short story series. Up will always remain a very special movie for me.
Best Moments from other movies
There are of course many other movies from Pixar that didn’t make the list but have some brilliant scenes. When She Loved Me song from Toy Story 2. All the action sequence from The Incredibles. Speech on criticism and creativity in the finale from Ratatouille. These movies could very well have made the list, just for these scenes. But, for me, the others on the list are just very close. So these remain the honourable mentions.
Why do I make things complicated for myself? Why can’t I keep it very simple? There is no need to spend too much time on fighting or working on something that’s not perfect or not exactly the way you want it to be. But it is manageable. Why is manageable not ok for me?
Being satisfied with manageable saves so much time, so much energy. Why do I then waste the time unnecessarily working on finding a solution which anyway won’t be perfect? Sure, may be it would good enough for me. Is that what I want? Manageable, but on my terms? Yep. Absolutely.
I have decided I will learn to live with manageable. At least, attempt to. Somethings are just not worthy enough to spend too much energy to get them perfectly to your liking.
There are three important rules you should live by if you want to survive in this world. First, always look over your shoulder. Second, never trust anyone. And third, never say “sure”.
Not to the shopkeeper that wants you to share your mobile number with him. Not to the neighbour that wants you to help him get some work done in his home. Not to your parents when they message you asking you if they can call now; they tell you it’s not urgent. You should listen to them. Not to your wife that wants you to promise her you would do something for or with her. Not to the politicians that want you to vote for them. Not to the boss that wants you to submit the revised estimates urgently. Not to the friend who wants to add you to a WhatsApp group of batchmates from school.
Because your “sure” is a promise that you know you won’t be able to keep up with. Don’t make any of these promises before you know what you are getting into. Follow their questions with some questions of your own; all should start with a “why”. Get them to be specific. Evaluate and decide what you are signing up for with your “sure”. Never ever lend an easy “sure”.
It is a different sort of day today. Things are very different. I mean what's with the lonliness within? It needn't be this way, but this can't be helped I guess. Anyway.
I am also very much reconsider the way I publish. Am back to thinking the "no-editor" interface is blot is not something I really find attractive at times. Everything is good. But a lack of a nice interface to write and publish does make me look out for alternatives. And WordPress always comes first - mainly due to the web app.
I also looked at Ghost again. This line in its comparison to WordPress left be curios.
If you're looking for a platform that increasingly attempts to do everything and don't mind cutting through the noise to make it work for your publishing needs, then WordPress might be suitable for you.- Ghost vs WordPress
Is that a positive or negative? Plus according to Ghost, WordPress costs "average managed hosting starts at $115/mo". That sounds too high. Don't WordPress plans start from $5/mo?
Anyway, I will continue to explore stuff. Time for change again, maybe?
Another benefit is edit-on-the-go. Fixing issues with post is so much simpler with WordPress. Not with anything else.
The edit on the go is especially more powerful on desktop! I mean it opens up the editor and you can just add the text. It indeed is very powerful option. The editor is one reason I want to really consider WordPress -- even if I have to pay for it. I haven't finalized it yet though. The biggest deterrent for me is the lack of easy way to add IndieWeb support. I am yet sure if I can live without these -- mainly webmentions and syndication.
I have decided to actively be back on Twitter again. In a way, I never was off Twitter; I have been a passive contributor on Twitter for more than a year now. During that time, Micro.blog became the place that I was most active at. However, recently I have found that the platform just doesn’t attract me. It has got nothing to do with the product or the community there. Both remain brilliant. It is the diversity (or the lack thereof) that just doesn’t fit my lifestyle, my routine.
My timeline is never active when I am. Even those who are active in my timezone do not share my interests and my culture. It is frustratingly difficult to become part of this wonderful community.
I had casually pointed out this challenge during my interaction with Jean on Micro Monday. I am afraid the things haven’t improved much in the 18 months since. I have made many attempts to overcome this. I tried to inspire people that I know, that I am friends with to join the service. I built Micro.Threads to check on the conversations that I missed while I was absent. I even tried to change my routine to better fit in. It was this last attempt that made me cognizant of the limits I was going to to just be an active participant at the service.
I know there are people from my timezone, of my interest that are very much active on the service. I am sure there would be a thread somewhere listing all such folks. But that thread cannot be discovered or be searched for. Those folks cannot be easily found. I have come to realize that neither of these is a challenge with Twitter. No doubt, Twitter has its own set of challenges. But, at least, I can participate as per my routine.
Lack of diversity and discovery remains Micro.blog’s Achilles heel. It’s a wonderful community on there; it just isn’t inclusive enough for me to fit in.
The Mystery of the Blue Train is a typical Poirot mystery, just not presented in her signature intriguing style. There are just too many shifts to the points of view of the supporting characters. The clues are perceivable, but they aren’t backed by any information that is revealed earlier. There were many moments when I knew what was being narrated was important, was a clue to something. But I could just not put my finger on why that was so. The resolution towards the end too did not feel very natural; it felt rushed, forced.
With the way the novel is structured, it felt as if Christie began writing this somewhere in the middle when Poirot is introduced, reached towards the end, and began to wonder how to tie the woven mystery up. All the side characters and their backstories were penned at that point and spread across the novel.
As a whole, the story just didn’t feel coherent. It wasn’t boring; I don’t think Christie can write a boring mystery. But it just wasn’t one of her finest works. I have heard even she has acknowledged this fact.