Walking Diary

By Hsu Shen On

Quality

February 2024

When I was in school one of my favourite subjects was Literature because I loved to read stories. I got into reading books, and I still love reading. One of my favorite story I read in school was Quality by John Galsworthy. I remember when I was reading it, I got engrossed in it deeply. It affected me deeply even at a young age. I still remember about it from time to time.

The story is about two old-style master shoemakers called the Gessler brothers. They make great shoes by hand and are religious about their art. They do not compromise on the quality. Because they do not change with time, their business is now not doing well, as their customers now prefer other shoe shops. It is a sad story about people who stick to their ideals, and do not/cannot change with the times. These people are left behind in the modern world.

It resonated with me also as my dad owns a shoe shop, and like the book, used to make leather shoes not too different from the ones described. The story is so great as it is very universal and still resonates now. Even now after a century from when this was written, we can still relate to it. More and more I see people preferring to buy from online stores or go to malls. So the small retail stores are going through tough times now. The other issue is many of these are older generation owners, they have tough times changing, so they do not follow the new models to give options like creating websites, advertising in new media, and selling online. Many still only accept cash.

Like the Gessler brothers sadly I don’t see a great outcome for many of these stores, they will just have to close down eventually. While the world is moving forward at such a fast pace, technologies are improving lives. It is also a tragedy that many are left behind because they just can’t keep up with the times.

2024

January 2024

On the last day of 2023, I went to bed early. I don’t celebrate New Year like most people, don’t get the point, it’s just another day. My sister called up and we were chatting in general. In the end of the call, she pushed me to do one thing new the new year day, to get my lazy bum outside the house. As it turns out, I had a holiday on New Year’s Day. So I went out, I visited an H&M store, which I had never been to before, and bought a couple of shirts. So my new thing for the new year was done. Afterward, my sister started putting in my head that for the New Year I need to do more new things!!

The other day I came across a blog by Om Malik, someone I like to read regularly. He talked about a new project he is going to work on, basically, it is to take one photo a day for the full year. That interested me, but I know it is impossible for me to take a photo a day. So I plan instead to do project 52, a photo a week for the full year. If you like you can follow the progress at https://www.flickr.com/photos/131797874@N06/albums/72177720314045211/with/53463799240/

On further thought I am going to push myself to do more in 2024, the plan is

A photo a week

A blog a month

A book a quarter

An international travel a year

Let’s see how it works out by the end of the year.

Lent Notes

March 2022

Every year I have got into the habit of giving up stuff during Lent. For a very long time, it was just no non-veg on Fridays for the family. Some years ago I came to know that my elder brother had a family tradition. He had a family meeting before Lent and decided amongst themselves what each would give up for Lent. The kids usually gave up candies and Ko would give up Youtube. Learning from that I got into giving up Youtube as well, as with everyone I found that a lot of time has been spent watching Youtube. It has and still is very addictive for me. One of the years my niece, knowing I love Pokemon, told me to give it up!

This year since I have no interest in Pokemon anymore. I thought of doing something else. One idea was instead of giving up something. I got myself to do something every day. Which otherwise I would be lazy to do. So the idea came up to start writing at least one paragraph every day, on any topic.

I have started doing this every day, and so far so good. I have written quite a bit by now. Most of these are personal experiences and opinions. I will probably not share them, maybe a few on the blog, and a few more to the close ones.

I think writing in general is a good habit to cultivate. I am into maintaining notes both for work and personal. This helps as a reference and planning. Writing crystallises the thoughts into something more concrete which you can look at. It is one reason I started blogging a few years ago, it was supposed to be at least once per month. Doing it less frequently now but will try to revive it. The thing about writing is, it stays. Just like a photo it is a snapshot of the time. It might be interesting many years from now to look back at these Lent notes.

Free Week

January 2022

I had some pending leave, and so took the last week of the year off. Generally, when I take a long vacation it is usually for going on some trip. This time made no such plan, instead planned to stay mostly home and do some R & R(rest and recreation). Advice: It is a good idea to always take a break sometime from whatever you have been doing for a long time.

One of the things to do was to walk around and click some photos with my Fuji camera. It has been a long time since I clicked some photos with it. I love looking at photos, from time to time I like to take photos also. I would not rate myself, some photos come out nice from time to time. Am sure that if I put more effort(like learning to set the settings in camera) I could be semi-decent in it but too lazy to do that. I got my brother to set it once, but now I just do not play with it :). My philosophy about photography can be summed up with the movie dialogue “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. In a scene Sean Connery tells this to another character after seeing his shooting technique, “Very American. Fire enough bullets and hope to hit the target”. This is what I do, take multiple shots and maybe one will come out well :)

I thought it would be a good experiment to walk each day starting from one particular spot in one direction. So one day go West, next North, next East, and last South. Three days done, below is the link to the pics.

North: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzwE4z West: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzwyTm East: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzwUEn

The Office

July 2021

One of the things during the Pandemic is you consume even more streaming content. I have found myself spending long hours daily moving from Youtube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Sony Liv. Binge-watching long series has become a regular practice. One of the best ones, which I enjoyed from start till finish, is The Office. The 9 seasons have all been super funny and highly enjoyable to watch. I would say it’s probably ranked second in comedy series after my favorite Seinfeld.

Premise

“This mockumentary follows the everyday lives of the manager and the employees he ‘manages.’ The crew follows the employees around 24/7 and captures their quite humorous and bizarre encounters as they will do what it takes to keep the company thriving.” -IMDB

The way they show how the show plays out and in parallel, the characters get to interview the shooting crew explaining their opinions of the current situation. Then, in the end, it goes meta, where the show is showing the show which was shot during all the years. It is very creative and interesting.

Characters

All the characters and people who acted are great and interesting. The character itself is very different and interesting, plus the people who acted did their job very well. I love all of them. The mark of a great movie/series is that people remember the characters even after many years. I am sure Micheal, Jim, Dwight, Pam will remain with me for a very long time.

Writings

After going through more into the behind-the-scenes of the show, one of the main reasons for the success of the show is the writers. Many actors in the shows also double as writers and producers for the show. The storyline, the characters are all very good because they were written very well. There are only a few times when you feel that these episodes are not fun, that this storyline is no good. Almost all the episodes had a good story, that is saying a lot for a series that had 9 seasons.

Moments

There are many scenes that I loved.

Forever song for the wedding The whole scene was shot, choreographed beautifully with so much fun in it. Also if you go through the Youtube rabbit hole with this, you will find many people recreated this which are also fun to watch. Forever song

The roast of Michael Scott The episode when all the employees get their chance to roast their boss was funny. It is like everyone got their ultimate chance to take a dig. Roast

Goodbye Michael The episode when Micheal Scott leaves the show was done beautifully. It did feel like genuinely they all loved Micheal and gave him a grand farewell. Goodbye

First Aid Fail There are many crazy memorable scenes of Dwight. This is one such where he goes over the top. First Aid

Dundies Another interesting original idea that was introduced, to give ridiculous awards to employees for ridiculous reasons. Super funny. Dundies

Overall I loved the show, and enjoyed it thoroughly and it is totally worth bingeing and rewatching it.

Following sports by not watching it

April 2021

Don’t remember when I exactly stopped watching sports live but realized as much as love sport I actually watch very few matches live now. I still try to watch Arsenal matches whenever possible, but I do miss a lot of matches for various reasons. The main reason mostly is the timing of the matches. Most of the sports I would like to watch are played in different time zones. I used to watch Cricket a lot being a big Sourav fan after he left, my interest waned in that.

Nowadays, I follow a few sports by actually not watching any of the games, but by listening to the commentary, analysis on it, and watching the highlights. Most recently I started following the NFL due to the Tom Brady phenomenon, and what a season to follow him, he just won the Super Bowl! What a story that is, an old guy going to a new team that has not won in a long time, most people writing him and Tampa Bay off, and he and his teammates bringing the trophy home. That is the magic of sport I love, anything can happen. It was fun following it mostly on Youtube. I never watched a single match, not even the final!

I listen to the ESPN analysis team on Youtube discuss it. And the way they do it is actually both informative and fun. Like Stephen A Smith, that guy is special, the way he talks. Even though it’s BS sometimes you still love it. He is super entertaining. The other sport I follow religiously now is NBA, I have become a Luka Doncic fan, that youngster is something special. There are also so many other teams with their own special players making things competitive.

My favorite sport is Football, which is probably the only sport I still try to catch the odd match live. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the excitement of watching it live, the super tackle, the special save, the beautiful pass, the wonder goal, all these if you do not watch live you do not fully appreciate it, even though later you can watch a highlight of it. It’s strange and I am sure I am not the only one who has started following sport this way.

Sandwich

December 2020

This one is a random topic selected by my family to write about. My brother is making his son write an essay on various topics since he has not been going to school due to the pandemic. So this is sort of extra homework. My nephew is quite creative and smart but seems like he is not currently enjoying the exercise after having done it multiple times now. So while we were discussing his writings, someone came up with the idea of all of us writing an essay on one selected topic. So the random topic was ‘Sandwich’.

My brother, his wife, and son have all written quite an interesting piece on this already. My turn to write something, this is a little challenge cause, the blog I have written is what I have chosen to write. So it is easier, now a topic has been selected and one which is quite random am not sure how to tackle it. When you want to write, especially when you know others will read it, you want to make it interesting. One way is to be unique, one way to do that is to have a personal experience/perspective to it. Since if you write it with a personal touch, it is of course going to be unique as generally that would mean no one else could write a similar piece.

Now I do like sandwiches, but it is not really a favorite. I have had very good ones, like Subways, the sandwich from New Market over the years. If I do not have it for a long time, it is not like I get a craving for it, unlike some of my favorite food like Biryani. So how to write about sandwiches if the food is well fine but not a whole lot interesting to me. (Side note for my nephew, see what I did here, when you do not have much material to write about the topic, I was just able to ramble along and just wrote half of the essay even without getting to the main topic!)

So the way I will tackle this is, to actually not write about the food, am going to write about the word ‘sandwich’ instead. Now sandwich as a word has been used in many contexts other than the food.

The sandwich as a verb: “to put something or someone in a small space between two other, usually bigger, things or people: ” It is a very common feeling especially for a smaller person, as a child to be sandwiched and believe me it is not something you like. Like when I was a kid traveling in a car, even though one would prefer to be near the window, you would be normally designated the middle seat, so being sandwiched between two elders. Another time, I remember being in the middle front seat, where I had to spread my legs cause the gear stick was being controlled in between them!!

Sandwich course: “a college course consisting of periods of study with periods of work between them so that students get practical experience” this in my opinion is a great idea, to be able to experience real work while learning for a degree is invaluable.

Sandwich generation: “a way of referring to the group of people who have old parents as well as young children, so they have to take care of both of their parents and of their children” Unlike westerners, Asians generally would experience this phase, and it is both a joy and huge responsibility. Kudos to the sandwich generation.

(Side note, so you see if you ever get stuck, think out of the box, with your creative head you will find a way to fill the pages easily, and remember to give your mum and dad a break, they are a sandwich generation :) )

Corona Diary: Hobby

July 2020

One thing being quarantined at home for so long teaches you is being creative about how you spend your time. I look at my dad’s routine, he basically just sleeps, eats, and watches TV/mobile/iPad, and very little of anything else. And that got me thinking that I need something other than just being a couch potato.

I am thinking, everyone needs to have some kind of hobby/interest to keep us busy.

I need to find one for myself. At various times I tried learning guitar, learning mandarin, doing some creative writing. All eventually either I gave up on or lost interest in. The only interest I have which has sustained me all these years is my love for reading but that again is a little too passive.

It has to involve some, even minor physical activity. I will keep looking else I will end up like my dad.

Corona Diary: Steer into the skid

May 2020

I was watching a TWiT podcast and one guest, Amy Webb, explained a new concept(to me) which I found very interesting. She called it ‘Steer into the skid’, which I later found is a saying people use.

She explained that if there is uncertainty we should not do what the initial normal reaction would be, and just try to stop immediately and try to return to normal. But instead to try to lean into the problem and accept the issue, and adjust accordingly and find a new way to deal with it.

Like if you are driving and suddenly hit an icy road and start to skid. A normal reaction would be to put the brake and stop immediately. This may make things worse but instead what you should do is, let it skid and try to slowly steer towards the road.

She said this in the context of the Coronavirus issue the whole world is facing currently. She explains that it is a wrong idea to just want to get everything back to normal. Currently a lot of countries have been in severe lockdown mode for a long period, and because of that economy has suffered badly. So a lot of people are getting restless and want the businesses to open up again.

This time we should not just try to go back to normal, business as usual. The better solution is to try and find a new solution( a new way of living), accept that this will go on for a year or more, and find a new way to cope with this. Once we accept the problem then we can start working towards a creative solution even though it would not meet our demand to get back to normal. We all must accept the new normal.

Writing tools

May 2020

Here is a list of tools that helps me write. It is ranging from simple note-taking to writing for my blog. What is common to them is that they are simple to use and are free tools( Since I am a cheap person 🙂) Most of them also work across devices.

 

OneNote

I love to take notes. I take notes for all sorts of things like the TO-DO list, for some information, for planning, organizing. Taking notes helps me in planning, decision making. Also useful for a quick lookup when the information is needed. This is my go-to application for note-taking. It is simple to use and since it syncs to the cloud, I can access my notes everywhere. I use it mostly as an android application on my smartphone. Since it is always with me, It helps me keep useful information available to me all the time.

 

Notepad++

Being a Windows guy, I used to use notepad a lot for short note-taking. Now I use this application instead. I use it basically for taking rough notes, so no fancy formatting needed, only just plain texts will do. It does provide me with certain extra features that notepad did not like: multiple tabs for taking different notes. It is also helpful when I need to do a small edit of HTML, code files as it supports multiple languages. I just like this because the application is lightweight and simple to use.

 

Google Docs

I used to use Office Word a lot earlier, but ever since I discovered this, I use this mostly. Firstly it is free, secondly, for my purpose, this is more than sufficient. It has all the main features that I require, like simple formatting, spelling, and grammar checking. It lets you download the document as Word file or as PDF.

I use this extensively for all my writings, like for documentation for any projects, notes, information details for various stuff. Study notes on various topics. My usual flow when writing a blog would be to first write it here, it provides me the basic spelling checks, grammatical checks, and suggestions.

This has also become my repository of all notes, documentations. Since I can access it any place across any device that becomes very useful.

 

Grammarly

This is a great tool to help you write better, it provides you with all the basic spell checking and grammatical checking. Additionally, it provides you helpful tips/suggestions to a written sentence. Though Google docs is pretty good, this application is even better in helping you with better writings. This has become my go-to now, whenever I need to write something important. I would put the text here and just verify what needs to be changed, and in general, I find I need to correct many mistakes.