Posted in Journal

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

Routines

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.

Work

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. 

Gratitude

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.

Reading

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.

Posted in Apps, Tips

How to declutter your Twitter timeline

I recently changed my Twitter iPhone app from Tweetbot 3 to the default Twitter iOS app.

Twitter for iOS app is largely good. But I noticed that my Twitter timeline both in the browser and iPhone app got noisy than they should be for the fifty people I follow. This is making me spend (not waste) more time than I would like to spend on Twitter. The clutter also means the actual tweets from the people I follow, the tweets I would love to see, are buried in the noise. This made me feel like I am missing important tweets.

I only ever wanted to see the tweets from the people I very carefully and deliberately choose to follow, in the order they are tweeted. Nothing more.

On a deeper look, I noticed that Twitter is not just showing me the tweets from the people I follow, but also the tweets liked (marked ♥️) by the people I follow as well as the conversations the people I follow are having with other people I don’t follow.

This has been a great revelation for me! This is my first-hand experience of Twitter’s aggressiveness and setting the defaults that work better for Twitter but cleverly wrapped as what I likely care about most.

For many weeks I thought there is no way around it and felt like I have to live with it. But having had enough, this week I decided to check if there is a way to declutter my timeline. I poked around the settings on my Twitter account and found this gem (in the red box) at https://twitter.com/settings/account:

Turn off best / top Tweets in Twitter web app.

Clicking the blue Learn more link took me to What’s in your Home timeline page on which I found this:

You can choose between viewing the top Tweets first or the latest Tweets first in your timeline (Twitter for iOS and Android only). Top Tweets are ones you are likely to care about most, and we choose them based on accounts you interact with most, Tweets you engage with, and much more. You can find instructions on how to toggle between the two timeline views below.


So instead of showing me what I want to see (latest Tweets), Twitter is showing what it wants me to see (top Tweets)!

At the end of the same help page, I also found the instructions to turn off Top Tweets in the iOS and Android apps.

Turn off best / top Tweets in Twitter mobile apps.

So changing the Twitter’s default settings by turning off Show the best Tweets first in the browser and toggling to latest Tweets in the iOS app made my twitter timeline much cleaner and calmer in both the places I check my tweets.

Barring these little annoyances, Twitter is the only social network I use and find really helpful by being deliberate about who I choose to follow, and override some of its default settings I mentioned in this post.