Lockdown updates

Yesterday marked two weeks since we are locked down.

Today as we head into the Easter weekend I am excited about a few pieces of promising COVID-19 news:

  • Lowest number (29) of COVID-19 cases since March 21.
  • Tighter border controls, and mandatory quarantine for new arrivals since this midnight.

And in a piece of more exciting news…

  • Lockdown decision will be reviewed on April 20.

I’m hoping lockdown will be eased to Level 3 and some level of routines will resume from April 28.

Pandemic thoughts

It’s been two full weeks since I started worrying about Covid-19 pandemic. And we have three weeks of lockdown ahead. Like many of my generation, I haven’t seen anything like this before. Hopefully this is once-in-a-lifetime event and so I wanted to journal my thoughts in this post. That way, years later I don’t have to think hard to share the pandemic stories with my grandchildren.

The pandemic

By now it is needless to say we are experiencing unprecedented times around the world with this COVID-19 pandemic spreading fast in many countries.

New Zealand is currently at Alert Level 4. Like in many countries, we are locked down and mostly restricted to our homes. We have at least another three weeks of lockdown ahead.

I think the prime minister Jacinda Arden, her cabinet and the Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield are showing great leadership. I can’t think of any safer place to be in the current state of things. I hope New Zealand maintains its low profile with the number of COVID cases. Like many of my country people, I can’t wait for this lockdown to be lifted.

I hope our collective efforts will be fruitful, and we get rid of the pandemic in the coming few weeks in this country and many countries around the world.

The impact

I thrive on routines, and this lockdown upended my routines. Although I work from home and I love it, I have a few, small pockets of time during the day I go out briefly to grab a coffee and run some errands. I am bummed to be restricted to home all the time. In the last week, I went out only once to the supermarket to get weekly groceries.

I had a great line up of work and personal travel coming up this year: a trip to Rarotonga, a trip to Asia, a trip to Europe and a trip to the States. All that travel is now cancelled. I have no hope I will be able to board a flight anytime soon.

In the larger scheme of things though, I feel fortunate to be where I am.

Coping up


I am sticking to my routines as much as possible. I am meditating every day and exercising three times a week. I am yet to miss a day of meditation or a week of workouts this year.

I am eating (snacking) a bit more than usual. At this stage, I am missing my daily coffee buying routine and the weekend coffee dates with my wife. I decided to live with this temporary inconvenience.


Not much has changed with my work thankfully. I am lucky to have work and the work I love. And do that work from home all the time and especially now. 


I upped my gratitude practice in the past two weeks. I was disturbed by this outbreak initially. To cope up, it helped a lot to reflect and count my blessings. The current crisis became bearable when I started counting the good things in my life. 

I have my job, and my wife has hers. We have a few months of savings. As a happy coincidence, between late last year and early this year, we liquidated a family property before the impending economic disaster and holding some extra cushion of cash that we hope we don’t have to tap into.

Although this reflection is in the business context, I believe it applies to personal finances too:

My wife sat and cleared a significant English test just the week before the lockdown was imposed. She had been working hard at it for the prior four weeks since mid-February. It was great to be able to conclude it just in time before this virus mayhem. She can now continue her studies online at the comfort of the home, unaffected by this pandemic. It would have been terrible if her effort was hindered due to this outbreak.

All my immediate and extended family, and the team members at work are safe around the world.


I have been reading a lot more news on NZ Herald, and Stuff for mainstream news, Kiwiblog for some opinions, and Eenadu for Indian news. 

I am following the NZ Ministry of Health website, the NZ government’s COVID-19 website and a lot more local and world COVID updates and news on Twitter.

I found great solace in reading the Collaborative Fund blog. Morgan Housel is terrific and I have been reading his blog for a long time now. But the last month’s posts on his blog have been particularly helpful in this crisis. I highly recommend you read the March 2020 posts from his archive here.

This is another great post that Morgan shared that I recommend everyone to read: Living well through crisis.

I also noticed a surge in the blog posts and news items about remote work and workouts. I am reading them as well. 

The timeline

This timeline would be helpful to look back a few years later.

  • 23-March-2020

    We did not send our son to school in the fears of potential case in our neighbourhood. That case turned out be negative luckily!

    Went to Indian grocery store and stocked up some food.

  • 24-March-2020

    Schools closed.

  • 8:30 am, 25-March-2020

    Bought the last coffee from BP Wildbean Cafe before the lockdown starts.

  • 11:59pm, 25-March-2020

    New Zealand moves to alert level four, and the entire nation goes into self-isolation.

  • 30-March-2020

    Grocery store trip to replenish food

  • 04-Apr-2020

    Two weeks since this all started affecting me.

    Continued here.

How not to text your customers before the lockdown

And so are your customers!

Bummed to receive this patronising text from my LPG provider just before the lockdown.

I don’t even need a gas bottle anytime soon!

Surely, they can send an empathetic copy, to the customers who actually have upcoming orders?

Books I read in 2019

Here is the list of books I read in 2019, lifted from the Todoist Read project.

♥️ are the books I enjoyed and learnt the most from and would love to revisit from time to time.

Text Message Forwarding on iOS

A while ago I noticed that I am receiving texts only on my iPhone, but some texts don’t show up in the Messages app on either of my Macs.

The texts I can’t see on my Macs are usually the two-factor authentication codes and other texts sent from the special three-digit phone numbers typically used by the businesses and other organizations.

This felt odd because until some months ago I always used to receive ALL the messages on ALL my computers. So certainly something has changed.

This problem meant that while working at my computer I have to walk to my phone to check and use the two-factor messages and other texts that are needed for my work. I put up with this inconvenience for a while, but felt like I had enough. So last night I set aside fifteen minutes to Google and understand why. It took a lot less time to figure out that Text Message Forwarding is disabled on my iPhone from Settings > Messages. I did not check further but I presume it must be from one of the recent iOS updates. Sigh!

As a professional troubleshooter, I love when I figure out and resolve pesky technology problems.

Twelve on Twitter

Twitter helped learn a lot of things despite aggressively pushing its preferences at times. This post is my tribute to Twitter.

2019 workouts

Exercising is one of the foundational habits that I wanted to incorporate in my life. In 2014 I found a colleague who is passionate about personal training. He used to run exercise classes at my then workplace. He encouraged me to work out three times a week, became my accountability partner and have been since.

Three hours a week seems to be just about the right volume of time and effort to be consistent with my exercise goals and make working out part of my lifestyle. Anything more than three times is a bonus. But I hardly ever worked out more than three times a week in the past six years. Outside these three hours, I try to be active as much as I can through other things like using a standing desk, playing with my son outdoors and taking stairs instead of escalators or lifts (up to certain floors), walking as much as I can (and I love driving!) so my body is not rotting.

In 2019, I logged 127 workouts. At three workouts per week, I moved my backside 42 out of 52 weeks. Most of the ten weeks I missed my workouts are during and around my travels. I am fortunate to be able to travel internationally, and I don’t regret the longer flights from the Down Under. However, travel disrupts my workouts. So that’s the challenge I am looking forward to tackling in 2020.

But for now, here is the monthly break up of my 2019 workouts:

MonthTimes exercisedNotes
April8Travel to Seoul
June5Travel to the UK
July2Travel to India
September10Travel to the US
December101 week Xmas break

I could have been more diligent and logged a few more workouts in June and July. Other than that, overall, I had a great workout year, and I look forward to levelling up in 2020.

What’s in your soap?

A few weeks ago I was listening to an episode of the Rework podcast titled Lab Week.

At [00:02:23] I heard this:

We three live together and we just liked trying things out and one day we needed soap. We kind of looked it up and we’re like, well, how is soap made? And did a lot of research and figured out that a lot of soap is made with animal fats. Beef fat or even pork fat. And it’s not usually obvious in the ingredient list, but there’s like sodium tallowate, which is very common in a lot of mass-produced soaps. And we’re all Muslims and we also happen to be vegan too. And so we just really didn’t like the idea of like rubbing those animal ingredients all over our bodies.

This naturally made me curious to check if the soap I rub everyday over my body has this disgusting ingredient. I checked today and relieved to find this:

I think it is worth a few minutes of your time to Google and make sure your soap is free of stuff that you may not want to apply on your body.

Outlook app issues

I finally removed the Microsoft Outlook app from my phone. It still keeps freezing and getting in my way.

The Outlook tech support person was kind and offered further help when I blogged and tweeted my troubles with the app in October.

However, I still face this problem with the app. The frequent “performance improvements and big fixes” in the app’s version history doesn’t inspire my confidence. I captured only the latest few in the following screenshot but the same note repeats for many earlier versions.

Version history of Microsoft Outlook iOS app

I have enough demands in my life that I don’t want to spend any time to uninstall, reinstall, and configure my email accounts, and setup my preferences.

I just want a simple app that lets me check my email on my phone with as little effort as possible, so I can move on to deal with other challenging aspects of my life.

Outlook app is not fitting this bill anymore. So I simply uninstalled the app and reinstalled the iOS Mail app.

That’s the brutal reality of life. And I say this as a tech support person myself. It helps me empathise with the problems my customers face with the technology I support.

Uninstalling and reinstalling is not as easy as it sounds on the surface. It costs time and effort that can’t always be justified. It is much more quicker and easier to switch to an alternative app like I did. It helps to remember this fact and acknowledge it before dispensing this seemingly benign and common advice to customers.

It’s not the customers’ job to help troubleshoot problems with the technology they have been kind enough to use in a world where they have a lot of choice.