About me in three words

For a long time I described myself as unparalleled, unpredictable and unassuming. I had filled all my online bios with just these three words. They still apply to me but I stopped using these adjectives for no clear reason.

Later I learned that using adjectives is a terrible way to describe oneself. While I think there is merit in “show, don’t tell” idea, adjectives are the only way I can express myself in minimal possible words.

Unparalleled, not because I am special but because I am unique. This spared me lot of “me too” comparisons.

I hate to fit into stereotypes. So I choose to be positively unpredictable.

Until such time I know everything, I better be unassuming.

Which three adjectives describe you?

Back to Toastmasters

I recently quit Toastmasters as I am not finding enough time to practice my speeches. Insufficient practice shows up pretty badly in front of audience. Toastmasters are incredibly forgiving. They will put up with the worst of the speakers.  But it hurts to not live up to the Toastmasters Promise.

There is one thing that all bad speakers have in common. They don’t practice enough. It takes about  an hour of practice for every minute of a speech. So you got to practice at least five hours to deliver a five-minute speech reasonably well. This is in addition to the time spent to research and write the speech. I don’t have that much free time. This was the reason I quit.

But I really loved being a Toastmaster. So I decided to go back to the club meetings as a guest and take part in impromptu speeches. I won’t have a membership but that doesn’t matter. What matters is practicing in front of audience and remembering to use word of the day in the speech.

In that sense, I am calling myself a Toastmaster again.

Leveled up in Pushps

I just completed the Level 2 Pushp Challenge and signed up for Level 3.

Level 3 helps me do 30 pushups in four weeks. I reached to 30 pushups in the last few days but today, on the last day of Level 2, I had to land on my knees at 28. But the numbers doesn’t matter much. The aim is to keep practicing. So I just signed up for Level 3.

That is 130 days to nearly 30 pushups. Not too bad.

I also bought this Dead-Simple Exercise Plan yesterday to complement my three high intensity exercises a week. I hope to use this plan on those days I don’t exercise.

James Clear

James Clear is one of my favorite habit bloggers. I came across him sometime last year. I am reading his blog ever since. It changed me for the better. I love his content, consistency, and writing style. His work has been immensely helpful to me while I was forming my habit philosophies.

Until last week he published two high-quality articles every week on his blog JamesClear.com. From this week he is only going to publish only one. I welcome this change, wish him all the best, and look forward to continuing to read his posts.

I can go on talking about the lessons learned by reading his blog. But if I were to pick only one, it is this post titled Identity-Based Habits. And this image in that post sums it up.

Identity-based habits.

“Decide the person you want to be and prove it to yourself with small wins”, he prescribes. This idea has helped set up my exercising habit.

I told myself exactly what’s in that image. I have been consistently showing up three times a week to exercise. I can’t do 100 pushups in a row yet but I did 30 this evening on my toes; my highest ever in a row. I have proved to myself that I can do pushups on my toes, over the last 128 days. I have no plans to stop; so I may be able to do 100 pushups in a row someday. I lost a bit of weight by the looks. Nevertheless, performance and appearance are external and don’t matter as much as my identity. I don’t pretend that performance and appearance are not important. They are. But focusing on them isn’t going to take me far. What if people don’t say anything about my performance? Does that mean I am not performing? Instead, I focus on my identity and see performance and appearance as offshoots.

I have few other identities that I would like to keep to myself at this stage. But the point is, identity is a powerful concept. Once you find who you want to be, it is difficult not to prove your identity to yourself. Do it often times and it becomes your reality.

I have no affiliation with James. I have only emailed him once to thank him for his great work and he thanked me back. But I always like to spread the good work and endorse its creators as much as I can. So go to his newsletter page, scroll down a bit and give your email id. You will learn a thing or two.


I feel sick in my tummy as I write this.

Both my grandparents, who raised me, are dealing with an unfortunate health conditions. My grandfather had an eye surgery recently and is recovering. But my grandmother’s situation is what is making me sick.

She was operated yesterday as she broke her hip. She was knocked down to the floor by an electric shock while she was trying to switch on the water motor.

I spoke to her yesterday on phone just before she was taken to the operation theater. She spoke very briefly in a feeble voice that she is going to be operated soon. She then handed over the phone to my aunt saying she can’t talk anymore.

Now she is in ICU after surgery. The surgery went well but she is suffering unbearable post surgery pain. Doctor said this pain is expected after operating on such a weak body. But she is finding it very difficult to cope with the pain.

She also needs some blood and my family are trying to find it. Apparently to be able to draw some blood from a blood bank, we need to first give the equal amount. My family is trying to donate and get some blood in return, as I write this.

She is about 75. She broke her leg once and has to drag one of her legs to be able to walk. The day before yesterday’s mishap aggravated her situation. I felt the helplessness in  my grandfather’s voice. They both are supposed to reunite at their home after my granddad’s eye surgery but fate had other plans.

I am feeling terrible to see something like this happening not just to one but for both at the same time. And for a silly reason. She absolutely has no reason to turn that damn motor on. There are other people around who would have done it if she did not bother herself. But she is not a kind of person who mucks about. And it cost her dearly.

Hopefully this is it and I can’t wait to see them getting back on with their simple lives.

Exercising enough

I used to wonder if exercising only three hours a week is enough. Now I am convinced it is.

I exercise on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. I train equally hard on all three days. But the after-burn (that nice and mild pain in the muscles) of Thursday’s kettle-bell workout lasts until Sunday. So if I push myself hard enough on Thursday, the seemingly long three day break between Thursday and the  Monday allows my body to recover from the worthy suffering.

I sometimes dilute the exercising gains by making poor food and sleep choices. Although I am aware of it and am making increasingly wiser food choices, I am far from eating sensibly. And eight hours of sleep a night continues to be elusive.

Nevertheless, I am convinced quality, not quantity matters for exercising too.

Loving Coffee Again

I started drinking coffee in August. I had a coffee everyday except Tuesdays.

It took a lot of mental energy to continue not drinking coffee. I missed the routine more than caffeine. And I couldn’t find a substitute routine. I tried very hard. I wasted more than fair share of my day’s cognitive budget on just deciding whether to have coffee. How silly is that! So I told myself this struggle is not worth it. I am now back to sipping coffee every workday except Tuesday – I fast till evening on Tuesdays. However, this is not the only reason I took the U-turn.

I did not go looking, but all the following posts came my way. Two of them appeared on my twitter feed. The other two were written by the people I admire.

Moderate doses of caffeine is exactly what I drink, as mentioned in Reaching Peak Productivity Is Easy (5 Simple Strategies) :

Our mind and our bodies are intertwined and Davis encourages us to focus as much on our physical health as our mental health. He recommends the usual: stay hydrated, eat smaller meals more often, moderate doses of caffeine and moderate exercise.

“Do keep drinking coffee”, suggests this post titled 11 Morning Habits That Will Change Your Life (And Make You More Creative), among other useful tips. It elaborates:

Caffeine makes us more alert, yes, but perhaps more importantly, it also increases our brain’s production of dopamine, which gives us a feeling of reward and motivation when we start having good ideas. Making it a habit to grab a morning latte in the morning adds structure to a morning and helps create the aforementioned windows of creativity.

Structure is what my coffee break adds to my morning.

Jeff Finley, who coached me on how to wake up early, wrote a great post on why he started drinking coffee. I can relate to some of the thoughts he shared.

Lastly, Jeremy DuVall advises on CNN:

Don’t forget caffeine. Coffee lovers rejoice! It turns out that cup of java may give you more than just an energy boost midday. When researchers gave subjects coffee and then measured their caloric burn, they found that the caffeinated individuals burned more calories than their decaf-ordering counterparts.

I am sure there will be heaps of material on the internet explaining at great length on why coffee is bad. But the above information is from the people I admire and sources I trust. So it is valuable to me. I experienced some of it first hand.

That’s the end of my coffee chronicles. I certainly learned a lot from this experience. Not hesitating to retract from opinions, being the foremost lesson.

Disk space mystery

Today I resolved the disk space mystery on my work computer, the latest generation Mac Book Pro. This has bothered me for few months.

Few months ago I noticed that there is only about 45 GB of free space in my Mac. This is on a 500 GB hard disk. This did not sound correct. I keep my computer organized. I certainly did not overload the computer with 450 GB worth of files and programs. The largest file is the Windows VM sized about 200 GB. Rest of the files just don’t add up. 

This problem in no way is stopping me from doing anything I do on the computer. But mysteries bother me. More so, if they involve technology.

I can’t recall the specifics but when I first noticed this anomaly, I ran my usual drill. I googled, found and installed Disk Inventory X and tried to troubleshoot. But I couldn’t figure it. I eventually gave up.

Today, after several months, for some irrelevant reason, I decided to troubleshoot this mystery again. I googled, found a post titled 5 Ways To Free Up Disk Space on Your OS X Mac on How To Geek, found a section titled Analyze Disk Space in it and ended up on Disk Inventory X – the same tool I tried last time. I installed it, let it analyze my disk and voilà!

I noticed an abandoned Windows VM holding 200 GB of disk space. I must have created it when I moved the VM around in the early days of getting used to OS X.

Now my free disk space is a realistic 290 GB.

What a relief!  Only few things are more gratifying for a keen troubleshooter than resolved mysteries.