Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Its been long since I blogged about a book or read any book worth blogging. As it happened, a book club was formed in our office and nominations for your book were given and voted. As fate would have it the book I voted came on top and I was nominated as one of the facilitators to summarize the book for our office audience so they can dwell deeper it they like it. "The Power of Habit", I voted for this book in hopes that it would help me create the habit of waking up early and change my YouTube watching habit. Turned out to be a good choice, I enjoyed this book as much as I'd enjoy a well written fiction!

Any Habit can be better understood when looked through The Habit loop: Cue > Routine > Reward. Cue triggers the habit, Routine is the action performed and Reward satisfies your craving . Habits automates our brain, so we need not concentrate on every aspect of a repetitive action : we are not thinking hard on the route to take, traffic, rules to follow on our daily commute to office.

Habit is relatively easy to form but cannot be eradicated, we'd always crave for the reward. The Golden rule is to keep the same Cue and Reward but change the Routine (action) : Most people smoke(routine) to relieve-stress (reward); meditation or exercise can be used as replacement routine as they also release stress buster hormones.

Some habits triggers chain reaction of changes and creates new habits and eventually snowballs into life changing experience, these kind of habits are termed "Keystone habits" : In an office with flexible office hours and tight deadline it will be hard to establish a good work life balance. But if working hours are mandated in office, employees will have to come on time. So they have to wake up early > more early morning fresh air > relatively traffic free ride > most energetic time period spent in office translates to productivity > leaving on time > more family time in evening  > better life style.

Knowing the habits can be changed is not enough and thus the author provides his personal formula to change a habit. (override routine)
1. Identify the routine you want to change : as it is readily visible
2. Experiment with rewards : do minor tweaks in reward to see if your craving is satisfied.
3. Isolate the cue : what is the cue that sets up routine in motion? mostly it will fall in any of the following five categories,
    a) Location : Office
    b) Time : 4:30 pm
    c) Emotional state : Bored
    d) Other people : When colleagues comes/leave office or bay or Skype
    e) Preceding (previous) action : Did stretches, Sent mail and so on
4. Step up plan that goes on to explain minute detail : Everyday I'll wake up at 6 am, for this I'll set three alarm clock away from my bed, I won't hit snooze, I will brush and drink water, wear my sneaker and go jogging for 30 minutes.

For the simplest idea of changing the routine instead attacking the whole habit and offering a memorable 4 step formula, I'm giving this book above 3.5 in spite of being sort of self-help book which I hate most.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Living on with Back pain

April 2016, it is 11 am in the morning and I'm still not in the office, in fact, I'm still in bed. It is not a weekend, I have to be in office but I can hardly get up from my bed, can hide no more. I called it off, took a cab to an orthopedic hospital, my dad accompanied me as I did for him when he almost broke his spine. First I tried sitting, then lying in the back seat, it was getting terrible by moments and every move I made trying to ease my pain only increased it.

By the time I reached the hospital, I wanted to call for a wheelchair, but I was also not ready to give up on my willpower or self-esteem, worst I could lose all the money in the pocket. As I guessed, I was sent for no questions asked x-ray costing 600 and then advised for physiotherapy for 5 days which would cost 150 every day, topped this with transportation (cab) charge, pain relief medication and consultation charge of 300 on first and last day; total crosses to 3000.

Evidently, I care too much about money still I stuck to the advice of the doctor, because living with lower back pain is horrendous. On the third day of physiotherapy, I made the change to my transportation my cousin dropped me and my friend would pick up, both in bike and not in a car. After physiotherapy, I wanted to step out of the hospital so I can stand beneath tree shade and enjoy some breeze of nature and dust of civilization. I wore my old bathroom sandal that didn't offer any grip on the shiny tiled floor, given my awkward walk attributed to back pain I was destined to fall anytime.

The fall happened when I stepped out, I managed to not hit my butt hard, but enough to undo all the physiotherapy; my pain had reset to day zero. I sat on the steps as I fell, holding my posture and loud cry that I wanted to make, it took me 2 minutes to even open eyes. I was still there sitting, none from hospital cared to ask, I'm their patient sitting on the steps and not leaving... then it stuck me they think I'm resting, so did I.

I didn't return to hospital after that for back pain, I took good amount of rest and started to exercise my back through yoga and tried to make correct posture as I sat or lay down. Flashback 4 more months, I started using a moped to commute to office instead of public transportation that demanded 4 km walking every day. Could be the lack of walk but I was told that its not the absence of jogging/yoga/exercise/gym that contributes to back pain, but it is continuous sitting without minor breaks.

I was not brought to knee on day zero of lower back pain, I suffered tolerable amount of pain for more than a month. I believed it would go away it just didn't, the pain exponentially increased to a point where getting up from bed seemed impossible. Here are some advice that I can offer if you are suffering or if you don't want to ever be affected by lower back pain before age catches up.

  • Move. Your body is not designed to sit about, move around often; even short breaks are fine but long sitting is not acceptable even if you are planning to follow it with long moving
  • Hold your posture while sitting, standing, walking or even lying down.
    • Sit with your spine erect, it is fine if you have to look up a bit stop looking down. (your phone is your enemy)
    • Stand with your spine straight
    • Walk with correct shoe, take real care while you jog or run
    • Lie down facing ceiling, if possible don't use sponge like bed flat surface is best. If you have lie on your side give appropriate support to head so neck is not burdened. Try to not lie on stomach
  • Don't lie in bed for long even if you have back pain, it only worsens. Start slow roll to edge of cot and get down, use arms and legs to support spine while getting up or down from bed.
  • Don't give too much attention to pain, do small job like folding cloth, doing dish.
  • Get a warm bath, it is relaxing. Some say cold ice pack helps too (never tried)
  • Do yoga: I know the name Baba Ramdev sort of strikes funny bone but this one really help me. Think the guy who dubbed has a lot of personal vengeance against Ramdev, some humor is good I guess

Disclaimer : In no way this write up supports not going to hospital. (I just happened to realize with enough and slow movement I can tolerate pain, lying down limp made things worst).  These are stuff that worked for me, some might not work for you consult specialist doctor if your pain doesn't decrease. The yoga video that I have linked here is good for novice, but don't push the limits, you might flatter real bad. 

Image credit  :

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Unmaking of tortilla with corn flour

I'm on my cooking spree, it has been bread & jam or noodles for too long. Now that I have grown a taste for cheese I bought a lot of cheese and started googling recipes that includes cheese. I started out with cheese sauce for nachos, I liked nachos more than sauce cause I didn't get it right the first time. In nachos I found a good evening snack, so moved into salsa or mayo or even thick salad dressing as I found it easier to arrange than cook.

Inevitably I came back to stove when I wanted to eat pasta after having mouth watering conversations with Dewang. I wanted to make pasta with sauce or cheese of my choice also privilege of eating pasta in India is mostly reserved for those people who works in corporate and goes out for casual dinner and lunch were they don't need to pay bill. Cooking at home gives me the opportunity to introduce such cuisine to my parents.

I started cooking pasta and sauce, once I made the cheese sauce curdy and the other day I forgot to add enuf cheese to mac'n cheese :lol: But we all ate it like it is the best, most possibly we did that becoz we didn't know how the original dish tasted like. I didn't give a shit about Parsley, Basil or Oregano I just over loaded it with mint and garlic and taste was just fine. My sis was so happy with the taste that she asked me to make a dish for my niece birthday! oh wow! I made them Nacho and salsa, I was still working on sauce so skipped to Caesars dressing :D and it worked like magic.

With Nachos came the lost love for Mexican food, and accidentally I bought too much of corn flour. I searched "corn flour mexican recipes" and voila the first result was 'Tortilla' only a day back I heard Fluffy saying "Indian love Naans, its fluffy version of Tortilla, We (Mexican) and them (Indian) have much similarities". Then I zeroed on how I'd going to serve the tortilla, 'as a wrap with cooked quinoa, mushroom & capsicum with cilantro pepita pesto', I immediately wanted to empty the jar of 400g corn flour and make tortilla! Nope, nope with experience on experimenting comes modesty I used 1/3 of what we got and started to make dough for tortilla and started to realize that this dough is not going to be like the dough we make for roti.

Youtube again, I watched like 3 videos to just prepare dough for tortilla I was just doing similar to what they were telling. Always remember in cooking there cannot be a standard proceed minor adjustments are always accepted and sometimes they turn out to be even cooler than original recipe. When I realized things are outta my hand, I called out for the most experienced hand, my mom; she tried sometime and decide to add maida to make the patham* right for making dough. And tortilla as I still called it like that came out in smaller sizes, Largest one was of one jaan^ in diameter.

I over sauteed mushroom and it became small in size, capsicum and quinoa came out just fine. Now for the arrangement I took each tortilla, applied pesto coat and arranged mushroom, capsicum and quinoa and wrapped and presented. The stuffing were too heavy for small tortilla to hold, still it turned out to be just fine. Yes I made taco instead of wrap. Once everything it done I googled again "making tortilla" and I found the corn flour != corn meal != Masa harina!!!!! It is Masa harina that I should have used, even corn meal can be called ingredient,, corn flour is just a fucking thickener for soups or any just liquid dish that you want to be served in semi state! :-/

Later I found in another article telling that Masa harina is also grinned corn but they grinned only after treating corn with lime (treat? what? Critical treatment or only dressing o.O ). Spotted another article telling that if you have only corn flour you can add equal amount of all purpose flour that I'd read as maida to make tortilla! Oh! mommy! you are genius

* Patham - indicated the form on dough. Patham is a Tamil word, it has context meaning and generally denotes the form on object in context. In context of dough it should be easily made into balls without breaking or sticking.

^ Jaan - length between tip of thumb and small finger when they are kept part by stretching.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Setting up LAN with BSNL router AN 1020-21

An abstract overview for building a LAN is presented here, you can use the essence of article to build LAN with any other router you can lay your hands on. That said don't confuse modem with router, most routers are modem but a modem simply can't be router*

Post is written in the hope that reader is equipped with basic knowledge about connecting line to splitter to router to device you want to use. It is assumed the your modem is configured for both wireless and ethernet access.

My work requires that I interact daily with servers using putty or such terminal emulator, gradually I loved doing work the *nix way. This made me install Cygwin in almost every machine I use, thanks to MobaXTerm I need not do that anymore :) Off story on to TODO.

1. Connect the machines you want to use to Router
That's all! Your router takes care of establishing (W)LAN

Surprisingly simple to establish LAN, but the hard part is knowing how to use the systems connected in the network. Here is the network topology in my home

Topology | Click to enlarge
If you have the habit of naming your computers you are almost saved. I have the habit, my phone is called owl, my laptop is beast, old machine that runs lubuntu is called delta (I have no idea why I gave such names). If you have given names to your machine try pinging them with names.

C:\Users\nemo>ping delta

Pinging delta.local.lan [] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from bytes=32 time=2ms TTL=64
Reply from bytes=32 time=2ms TTL=64
Reply from bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=64
Reply from bytes=32 time=2ms TTL=64

Ping statistics for
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 1ms, Maximum = 2ms, Average = 1ms

C:\Users\nemo>ping -a localhost

Pinging beast [::1] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from ::1: time<1ms
Reply from ::1: time<1ms
Reply from ::1: time<1ms
Reply from ::1: time<1ms

Ping statistics for ::1:
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
    Minimum = 0ms, Maximum = 0ms, Average = 0ms

Yes,Yes you are awesome, the second ping was target at localhost with request to resolved domain name at it turned out to be beast, cool ways to prove you know commands duh...

What to do when you haven't named, or have named but no response?

1. Go to Router admin page
For BSNL unless you have not tinkered,
Username : admin
Password : admin
2. Locate the DNS Host listing page
3. Verify if your device is connected, oh yes there will be a domain name by default if you haven't overridden you can see it here.

DNS listing | Click to enlarge

You might ask... why were you talking about putty. well as I told already I have lubuntu installed in my old machine which I intend to use for stupidity ;) I have installed open-ssh-server on it and now I'll be able to connect to it via any terminal emulator

Normally domain name is enough to connect, if your tool finds it difficult use domain_name.local.lan . Here I'm going to connect to delta from beast with MobaXTerm Personal.

     │                • MobaXterm Personal Edition v7.7 •                 │
     │            (X server, SSH client and GNU/Cygwin tools)             │
     │                                                                    │
     │ ➤ Your computer drives are accessible through the /drives path     │
     │ ➤ Your DISPLAY is set to                          │
     │ ➤ When using SSH, your remote DISPLAY is automatically forwarded   │
     │ ➤ Each command status is specified by a special symbol (✔ or ✘)    │
     │                                                                    │
     │ • Important:                                                       │
     │ This is MobaXterm Personal Edition. The Professional edition       │
     │ allows you to customize MobaXterm for your company: you can add    │
     │ your own logo, your parameters, your welcome message and generate  │
     │ either an MSI installation package or a portable executable.       │
     │ We can also modify MobaXterm or develop the plugins you need.      │
     │ For more information:    │

[2016-05-08 23:27.23]  ~
[nemo.beast] ➤ ssh shiva@delta
Warning: Permanently added 'delta' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
shiva@delta's password:
Welcome to Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS (GNU/Linux 3.19.0-25-generic i686)

 * Documentation:

241 packages can be updated.
0 updates are security updates.

Last login: Sun May  8 22:15:20 2016 from beast.local.lan

See ya!

Modem : Connects you to Internet. Think like connects 1 device to internet
Router : Connects all the devices connected to it to Internet. Think about Wifi modem as we casually call it. It is router.

You can ask what is the difference. Think like this, you and your dad are connect to your home wifi. Your dad is paying bills late night (bcoz dad's are responsible figure). You are having nasty chat with your friend(s) . If router doesn't do the job correctly the snapchat picture aimed at you might be received in your dad's device... imagine he'd be paying LIC premium and seeing naked mole rat instead of Receipt "Payment is successful" :D

Technically router takes care of delivering response to correct device which made the request by establishing LAN internally :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Shame of Sabarimala : Annadhanam under TDB

Annadhana Prabhuve, Saranam Ayyappa

It means "The noble who donates food, Ayyappa save us". The legend is not clear about how or why Lord Ayyappa is called so, coincidentally the third step of the Pathinetu padi stands for Annapoorna (the God of food) by crossing this step Ayyappamar assure that they have followed Ayyappa by donating food to peers and made sure any Ayyappamar coming to Sabarimala for Punya Dharishanam is not hungry.

I'm sure this year many Ayyappamar did not fullfil this deed to proudly step on it, they neither received nor gave; they were curbed. Though it was ABASS* who started it all many sangam took up the responsibility to feed the hungry Ayyappamar, people have crossed the toughest times by taking supplies to impossible mountain peak like Karimala, Azhutha; now with roads easing pain kerela government and travancore devaswom board(tdb) is pulling the rug on Seva Sangams.

Image edited from The Hindu

Double standard of kl govt and tbd

Facebook page of District Collector Pathanamthitta kept sharing images promoting and prompting Ayyappamar to bring lesser plastic to Sabarimala and to not pollute the holy forest and shrine. I was like wow! this is awesome, lesser that I knew the govt was in hand with viri guys. Viri is a temporary shelter/hotel deployed inside forest for sheltering Ayyappamars from harsh weather. But no don't come to assumption with the word 'shelter' they don't shelter they actually sell the place that they have rented from govt. they are into business, pretty rough business that chases out Ayyappamar when they enter without money - it is not enough that you buy food from them you have to pay an average of Rs.30 per head to rest there. Night stay comes at higher cost.

Coming back to plastic, these viri guys are the most notorious source to all the non-sense plastic waste from water bottle, biscuit packets and anything that you can think of which comes in plastic package. I was shocked to find the way they dispose it, they use it as fire wood when they run out of wood! And yes the Collector keeps Ayyappamar from polluting Sabarimala as viri guys are doing more than enought to kill the forest.

To add oil to this buring issue, govt thrown more forest space for viri this was most evident in Mukkuzhi, Azhutha. There use to be one Bhagavati temple surrounded by water stream on three side, of these stream two should be crossed by Ayyappamar on their trek route so they have iron brigde to assist, 8 years back only one tender coconut shop was present before first bridge now there are 10 shops; wrost - this year there are ten new viri after the second bridge and Collector keeps advising not to use plastic.

When govt & tdb sided with money

Annadhanam reached its peak 4 years back, Ayyappamar was treated with plenty food that they would taste food and then would decide on eating or throwing away. Yes, its cruel but thats what happens when you have excess. But this also affected the business of viri, which means viri guys are not even going to get what they invested, naturally the state that is kerela which boast its 100% literacy complained about this and wanted to lower the viri tender rate; naturally the sakuni literacy wanted to grow the business by addressing (or crubing) Annadhanam instead of lowering rate for viri or totally lowering count of  viri.

Now for the side story: Some 8 years back I used to see viri that are operated and owned by Tamils and now I'm not able to see any! only keralites so low their pea brain works! Yes literacy has no relation to morale. Back to main story - How the crooked mind addressed the issue?
  1. Kitchen can not be in open area as per "all of a sudden" advice of forest dept - Only viri, ABASS has closed kitchen (and they have the ground work started long back)
  2. Disposable paper plates with aluminium coat cannot be used. But hotels and viri still use them when you ask to parcel food, of course they pay money for it over and below table.
  3. Ayyapamars are to be given food not on the open forest but only inside viri, so even if one sangam fights the odds they have to pay huge amount of money to use viri to help those poor lads to grow business and yes we are talking about holy shrine
Is there a way to fight - yes and no. No, they have the final call its pea brains land after all. Yes, when we come together and express our opinion in strongest manner. I'm not sure about the manner, but I know we can't simply be seated.

Source of Plastic vs Anathanam, Paper plate with aluminim foil is considered to be second legal nail in Annathanam coffin while the first being the "open kitchen" which might cause forest fire. But it is very important to introspect which tool you have used to kill the 'unsighted' danger. There used to be pipes running from Pamba to Periyanavattom, there used to be public taps; now the taps are with the viri and only other source of water is packed in plastic bottle. Most pilgrims does not prefer the cooking of viri guys not just for their lack of taste also for their cleanliness and they turn to biscuits and chips packed in plastic. Govt has managed to increase the plastic waste by curbing one  uncommon source.

Akila Bharatha Ayyapa Seva Sangam

*ABASS (website) was established in Trivandrum and later spread to other towns where Ayyappamar hail from; of many sevas(good deeds), they are best known for their Anadhanam. Which after many years is now being carried out by many other sangams that sprung like mushroom, this is no bad as number of Ayyappamar is rocketing every season, to satisfy this humongous need one sangam is not enough. Still many follow the oldest way of bringing their own supplies and cooking it, intentionally they cook excess and distribute to those who need them. But now Annadhanam is not just impossible but also illegal so much for following Ayyappa.

Ayyappamar who are going to Sabarimala for around 20 years would know what is happening right now in Sabarimala they need no breifing, this is for the newbies to help them understand how cheap and low kerala government and tdb is behaving towards Ayyappamar who were vital in bringing up the temple to such stature. Why now? Because TDB is following TTD in constructing jail kinda shelter to create non existing queue and distributes free biscuits & water to them, no they are not as good as you think; they are even cunning than I know. While ABASS was established to help pligrims even when government was not ready, wonder why? at that point of time there was no Indian government it was 1945.

My credentials: If this has not crossed your mind yet, I raise this by myself. Who I'm to talk on this, what are my credentials? I have completed my 19th year, yes people who crosses 18 years are know to attain the state of guru but no I believe otherwise there is more to be a guru, I'm no guru but a follower with lot of anger on Ayyappa himself.

I have seen Sabarimala shape into a commercial establishment from spiritual one. And I have a rich connection with gurus, networking was not tough as my dad himself is a guru with 40 rich years of Sabarimala yatra expirence with him. These gurus visits Sabarimala not once in a year but whenever possible, for most time of the year Sabarimala needs ABASS because tdb is only interested on money which flows during Makara period. Do you know the Rs.5000 lamp that you have donated to tdb is auctioned for less than Rs.2000, because money is more important to tdb as your lamp is of no use; your hopes to get some punya when you lamp is lit in Sannidhanam is doomed.

Before I conclude, tdb stand on 'no-female' rule is backed by the advice of someone that no female should be allowed to see Ayyappa as he is brahmachari in yogi rupam, and that no women has done so in half-a-century. I agree, probably this could have been requested by Malikapurathamma who has love interest on Ayyappa and she is waiting for him to come back to normal life and marry her. Per same advice Ayyappamar do Annathanam to one-another, why tdb is not taking this into account? Why is it stop and crubbing Annathanam? It is contradicting when you fight to uphold one advice and thwart the other (for money).

Request you to bug this guy @ FB as he did to us-


Will update the post with petition.