Drag race

I noticed the car zoom up from the corner of my eye as I started from the red light.

I had taken a peek at the next light, knew it was amber-turning-red, and was coasting to a stop. Being in the inner lane around a curve, they couldn’t see it so gunned ahead for a few more meters before braking.

We both waited at the red light. My hand on the hand brake, one foot holding the clutch at the biting point, other on the accelerator. I could see them gently inch forward as well. We were both watching the other red light.

It turned amber. I let go of the brake and the car zoomed forward. They were slower to start, I was ahead. I slightly messed-up the gear change to second. We were level. I smoothly rose through the gears. They kept pace. I had a smile on my face. They were focused.

A few seconds in, we were already nearing 70. Rest of the cars from our light were over a 100m behind.

I was in the main lane. They were in the secondary lane and would soon need to merge into mine. The race was over, in my head.

I eased on the accelerator and gave them space to come in safely. Then we both merged onto the dual carriageway. They sped up and off. I stayed under the speed limit and enjoyed the drive home—high on that small shot of adrenaline and the smile.

I wanted to tell them, ‘This was fun, let’s do this again :)

Mine is a 10yo, but still often sprightly, Honda Civic 2.2 Diesel. Theirs was a Mercedes E-Class petrol. Mine has a manual transmission, and I assume theirs has an automatic given the drifting at the red light and the slower start.

Experiment to observe default choice

H: Hold this cardboard in front of one eye, and look through the hole in it at those keys on the wall there.

*I hold it up on my left eye, and close the right one.*

Me: Do you want me to read the text on the keys?

H: No, that’s it. Just wanted to check which is your preferred eye.

I loved the simplicity of this experiment :)

She gave me a deliberately vague instruction. This let my mind fill in the rest based on its default behaviour. She just wanted to observe that default behaviour.


Yesterday’s news Today

Over the last year or so, I have slowed down my news consumption. I have no news apps on my phone. I removed the two news channels I watched—BBC news and CNN—from the favourites. I unsubscribed from all news-related newsletters. I even unsubscribed from all news related podcasts, including NPR’s Indicator and The Economist’s Intelligence podcast.

I still consume news. Most of my world news comes weekly, from The Economist. But a few times a day I open news.google.com on the Firefox Focus browser1 on my phone to check on latest happenings. Once or twice a day, I also switch to BBC News2 (and rarely, CNN) on the TV to check on the news.

Yesterday I decided to also add a delay to the news. Make it slower still. To read yesterday’s news, today.

Instead of checking the news on the phone multiple times a day, and catching up on TV news a couple of times, I would only check news in the morning and then nothing during the day.

Most news takes a night of rest to come to a relative state of conclusion. By next morning, when I check the previous night’s news, it would have rested, matured, and analysed. It would also have moved from ‘he said this, then she said this, and now waiting for them to respond’ to an analysis of the bigger picture of what happened and why.

This is something I miss about having a print newspaper. I was a multi-newspaper subscriber in India. But printed newspaper subscriptions are quite expensive in the UK, so I’ve never had one. I miss getting a newspaper in the morning with a settled, digested, analysed version of the news. The version that also looks at why, not just at what and how.

Since I can’t afford buying a daily newspaper, I’m wondering how to get this delayed news. Online sources are focused these days on the day’s news, if not news by the minute. I don’t live close to a library where I can walk down for a catchup of day’s newspapers.

Subscribing to a morning news-summary newsletter is an option, but may lead to re-cluttering of the inbox. It would also mean opening email before I want to, and possibly getting distracted by other new emails.

I’m open to better suggestions.

Continue reading Yesterday’s news Today

I cooked a steak


Cooked a rib-eye steak for the boys—a delayed treat for Chewie’s birthday.

It was my first time cooking a steak. I overcooked it a bit—more than was needed for the medium-rare that I wanted. I also put in a bit more oil than was needed.

It still turned out well, if I may say so myself. It was juicy and just the right amount of chewy. I didn’t really want to give it to the boys once I’d tasted it :)

Surprisingly easy to cook, and tasty. I may be cooking many more steaks once the weather turns cooler.

More photos.

Duolingo + Range—Learning with interleaving

Interleaving—6 active skills + random test button

David Epstein’s book Range educated me on the value of interleaving and spacing for better learning. (Chapter: Learning fast and slow)

One of the places I immediately applied it is in my daily Spanish lessons on Duolingo.

Block learning—completing one skill from start to finish before proceeding to the next.

Previously I used to start with one skill in Duolingo, say present perfect, and then complete it from start to finish. I only moved to the next skill once the previous skill was golden, or on the rare occasion when I gave up on it for being too hard.

The screen looked like the one on the left: all golds above the current skill.

Now I have six skills in progress at the same time. Every day I complete just one test from at least three of them. The next day I start with the other three. If I want to practice more, I use the dumbbell button in the bottom right—it tests me randomly from any of the dozens of skills I have already completed.

This mixing provides me with a bit of range. Each test daily is from a different skill; any skill reappears only after 48 hours; forcing me to remember, forcing more mistakes, and, hopefully, resulting in better learning.

Continue reading Duolingo + Range—Learning with interleaving

Flimsy ain’t all bad

When something looks flimsy, people handle it with care. This careful use helps it last longer.

The opposite is something that looks solid but isn’t. A solid look will invite people to use it as they please, often without care. The inherent flimsiness will succumb to careless use.

The ideal is something that is inherently solid. But if that’s not really available, rather have something flimsy looking on the outside than flimsy just on the inside.

Continue reading Flimsy ain’t all bad


I meditated. For the first time in months. It was awesome.

I completed 1000 Km of running for the year.

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Final target: A 1000 miles

I also completed 100 Km of running for August, 8th consecutive month.

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8 months of running at least 100 Km monthly; No Swimming or cycling though.

And I had Dudley with me for the day after ages. He was lovely. I’ve missed him. 😘🐕

Continue reading Yesterday…

Typing speed hypothesis


Typing speed increases if there’s no feedback from the input (looking at keyboard) and output (looking at the screen).¶

I’ve been taking book notes of recently read books. While taking notes I realised that I type fastest when I look at neither the screen nor the keyboard.

When looking at just the book, I let my muscle memory (training) take over and get the fastest typing speed. There are a few errors—typos—but the writing speed makes up for them.

Looking at the screen is the next fastest mode of typing. It is probably slower when I’m copying text from the book since I have to constantly switch between the two, specially because I have to locate the cursor in the book every time. It is also slower because any typos are apparent immediately and create a dissonance hurdle in the brain, slowing it down.

Looking at the keyboard while typing is the slowest. The brain skips a lot of the muscle memory, or tries to reconfirm it, and tries to look for keys before typing. It may cause the least mistakes but is really, really slow.

Continue reading Typing speed hypothesis