Excursions by Amit Gawande

This social distancing exercise takes a toll on one’s mind, it is not very easy to undergo. When we go outside and meet others, be social that is, we let our mind wander from the day to day grind. It doesn’t matter then if the social gathering” is as regular as just at the office. People around have stories that they are keen to share.

We chat, discuss, debate, tease, prank, laugh. We brainstorm, we learn from others, we teach others. We do this all together as a group. Everything kind of stops when the group is no longer present in-person. Video and audio conferencing feel too formal.

This all can’t be healthy - it is sure to have some psychological effect. Melissa Pandika writes on Mic about the emotional toll such social distancing precautions can take.

Right now, even the simplest, purest of human gestures, the ones we crave most in times like these — a hug or squeeze of our hand, reassuring us everything will turn out okay — now carry risk.

So true. There are already reports of how this is affecting families all around the world. I am afraid the chances are people will soon get fed-up, get impatient. They might stop caring about others, become isolated within. Become indifferent.

Of course, another possibility is that this will bring immediate families even closer. I can do all that I do in a group while I am at home with family. I can decide not to isolate myself at home. I get focused hours for work and at the same time decide not to stay glued to the laptop throughout the day while working. Take the breaks that I usually take and spend that time with my family.

There is no need to wind the working day down with media consumption as I can relieve stress throughout the day when required. Look beyond the mobile, tablet and television screens. I can spend the hours I generally wasted on commutes on something productive.

Share stories. Hear from loved ones. Play with my daughter. Talk, chat, discuss, debate, tease. Laugh. Do everything I do at the office. And more.

I think I will give this possibility a chance. Distance, not isolate. May be, social distancing, physically distancing myself from the outside world, will bring me emotionally closer to my family.

Tue, Mar 17, 2020 thoughts covid

Coronavirus has completely taken over all forms of media and the discussions around me. Not an hour goes by without a mention of the global pandemic. It’s not an all-out panic yet, but an increasing number of positive cases in my city has, for sure, put the people on alert.

I am avoiding unverified information that gets spread on social media and group messaging platforms. But it is difficult to stay and keep others, sane amidst the deluge of news bites that get spewed across every few minutes. It becomes tedious and tiring to focus on facts and keep enlightening people around you about the same.

It sure looks like a storm is brewing within all. I just wish that the uncertainty subsides before there are more cases of worst sides of humans on display. If not, any hope for the social solidarity that Kara Swisher, so succinctly, calls for will be lost.

In addition to social distancing, societies have often drawn on another resource to survive disasters and pandemics: social solidarity, or the interdependence between individuals and across groups. This an essential tool for combating infectious diseases and other collective threats. Solidarity motivates us to promote public health, not just our own personal security. It keeps us from hoarding medicine, toughing out a cold in the workplace or sending a sick child to school. It compels us to let a ship of stranded people dock in our safe harbors, to knock on our older neighbor’s door.

Mon, Mar 16, 2020 thoughts covid

I am having fun getting back into Indieweb stuff — working on adding support for updates to Blotpub. This has been in works for so long, I had to get to it. I also recently added support for syndicating longer posts to Twitter and Mastodon. Always makes me relaxed.

Sat, Mar 14, 2020 dev update micropub

Is there anyone who can easily find the one emoji that they do not use very often? How many of the 1500+ emojis can one possibly use? There is a limited set of emojis I use regularly. And because they are front and centre every time I open an emoji keyboard, they tend to get used even more often.

Even the way they get categorized is horrible. Which category do you think you will find a loudspeaker in? Objects, you say? What about a balloon? Now the answer to that might differ based on which platform you use. Android puts it under Activities” while iOS puts it under Objects. Not just do the emojis vary across platforms, even the simple thing like how to categorize them varies.

I think the emojis need a better, simpler replacement. I do not think memoji is that - it calls for too much effort before one starts to use them. Maybe the whole emoji set needs a complete reset. Anyway, how many of the myriad face emojis can you correctly identify and use? Do you know how many we started with? Just two - a smiling face and a frowning face. Now that is manageable.

Thu, Mar 12, 2020 opinion emoji

A quick question for the IndieWeb community here, how do you send the webmentions? Is it automated on posting? Is it part of the micropub or an independent script? Are there ready resources, scripts or tools available? I couldn’t find much on indieweb.org.

Tue, Mar 10, 2020 dev indieweb

With the recent exercise of changing a few things around, I have also reset my \now page. I intend to keep it very simple going onwards - my thoughts log as a list. I know I won’t keep up with anything more complicated.

Tue, Mar 10, 2020 thoughts

I have completed the consolidation exercise that I had planned to carry out this weekend. All the posts exist on the home page of the root domain now and is hosted by Blot. There are no sub-domains for separate posts. There is no landing page. It’s all words.

Of course, I had butterflies in my stomach before I began the whole exercise. I had posts spread across different categories. I had very specific styling done for some rarely used components of the blog posts. And I had pages.

Then I had some complex pages and posts. It was the thought of migrating this varied content that made me a bit edgy. Posts like this guide on moving to Hugo. Or this one about displaying webmentions along with posts. I had to manually migrate such posts along with the necessary styles.

I am happy overall with what I have achieved. Things are simpler now. If I have to post something, I know where it would be. Doesn’t matter what the nature of the post is. This space now supports all types. Along with the /now page reseted to begin from now.

What this also means that I have to bear with few things. I have lost webmentions to the blog sub-domain posts. I have to reset my indieweb presence, clear all caches with indieauth sites. Thankfully, not much was broken that couldn’t be fixed simple re-logins and re-configurations. I (and you) have to bear with the configured redirects to propagate through the Internet and reach all. So the old links will stay unreachable till that happens.

I have kept the Hugo site alive. It hosts the archive, something I did not want to carry along. I just restyled it to make it resemble a timeline leading back into the time. I do not wish to ever post to it again. Simplicity of maintaining and updating my website with Blot has won me over.

Sun, Mar 8, 2020 update setup

I am going to consolidate all my online posts at single place. I currently have posts spread across Hugo and Blot. I want to simplify this — and am extremely comfortable currently with posting to Blot. So I will eventually migrate all my posts there and make that my main and the only web presence. It will also help me get rid of all the sub-domain mess that I currently have spewed across.

This will, for sure, break a few stuff. But I am ok to live with that. I do not think I want to get into this mess ever again. All the posts need to stay in a single place. I do not want to divide them based on their types.

I know the biggest problem in the whole plan is my curious mind. Next time a new platform comes around, am sure I will get on board and sign-up for another experiment. This time, I will try to not bring it onto my domain and let it stay offline.

Anyway, no point thinking about the future. I know what I want to achieve now. And that’s the goal for this weekend.

Sat, Mar 7, 2020 blog thoughts

Stand-up is an extremely difficult form of comedy — it cannot be easily mastered. There are very few who actually manage to talk sense and still make folks laugh out loud. The abundance of the streaming platforms unleashed recently has flooded the timelines with available non-heard folks doing stand-up. But very few of them are any good.

The problem is actually finding them. And I am tired of watching the same set of voices. Any recommendations?

Fri, Mar 6, 2020 thoughts

What’s it with the UX of the apps on Android? They just don’t look clean, finished. Is it a limitation of the platform? Or the complexity of the SDK? Or it is simply the misguided belief that design is not really important for users of an open” platform?

Tue, Mar 3, 2020 thoughts

I recently ordered a new t-shirt and, of course, it was delivered with a pair of extra red buttons. I have never used these - most often, I simply throw them away. Who finds these useful?

I couldn’t help but remember this act from Seinfeld.

Sun, Feb 9, 2020 thoughts

I recently finished reading Suspect by Robert Crais. I enjoyed this book, almost most of it. However it is, by no means, a great book.

The story is too formulaic. The mystery is predictable. Most of the characters are not built well. Every plot twist” can be seen chapters ahead. Even the narration is too simplistic. It is linear with the problems introduced in a chapter and solved right in the next one. There is simply no tension.

However, the overall book is a breezy read. No part gets boring. I especially liked the parts where it was just about Scott and Maggie, the German Shepherd. I usually do not enjoy the subplots involving pets. They are overdone most often, made too dramatic. That’s not the case here. The bonding between them is developed really well. You care for both. And that’s where lies the strength of the novel. I just wish it was backed by a nice crime mystery.

Tue, Feb 4, 2020 review thoughts