Challenge for January 2020: No TV

I’m not watching videos—live, recorded, or in any other form—this January. Not on TV, not on mobile, not on the laptop.

Over the last year or so, I’ve disconnected myself from twitter, then newsletters and apps, then TV news channels, and eventually from email app on the phone. It’s been lovely. Each disconnection led to a few weeks of anxiety but, once they passed, I was calmer, less distracted, and less annoyed about things that don’t matter in the long term (if at all).

One of the big distractions that has remained is TV. I watch many series and movies on Prime video, BBC iPlayer, All4 and Netflix, mindless videos on YouTube, cycling and biathlon events on Eurosport player (while cursing Eurosport out loud), Big Bang Theory reruns on Channel 4, and Match of the day on the BBC. I may also watch occasional reruns of Die Hard on Film4 :)

On 31st, I watched a movie I’d wanted to watch—A marriage story—and then deleted all apps from my phone… YouTube, Prime Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, All4. I even deleted the TED app. To help me out, the old Sky box also conked out, so there’s no live TV feed either.

The only TV I can and may watch is whatever R has on when I’m sitting around the TV.

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Opinion Vs Suggestion

The difference is that a suggestion is backed by a rational reason. A suggestion can answer, reasonably, a ‘why?‘ counter-query.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions. Many feel it their duty to impress their opinions upon others. These opinions, specially when they are about others’ actions, may* be freely discarded.

Everyone is also entitled to give suggestions. However, suggestions ought to be listened to when they are presented along with the rationale, the why. They need not be agreed with, they need not be heeded to, but they should be listened to and pondered over.

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Notes from Viking: funerals and Abrahamic religions

In Vikings, a pre-Christian Scandinavian society is shown as burning the dead in a funeral. This is similar to how the Hindus and quite a few other cultures did it.

They even hint at how burying the dead was a sign of insulting them.

Most modern Abrahamic cultures—Christian, Muslim and Jewish—bury their dead. I’m guessing the modern, Christian Scandinavians bury their dead too. Made me wonder.

The Abrahamic religions started in the middle east in arid, often desert, land. Wood from trees must have been at a premium, so funeral by burning would’ve been expensive. Maybe that’s why they chose burial over burning.

Later, these religions spread to other areas with no paucity of wood, but the religious norm—burying not burning—went along. Even areas where there was plenty of wood, but relatively little accessible land ended up burying the dead instead of burning them.

Coming back to the Vikings, burning made sense for them. Wood was, and is, relatively plentiful in Scandinavia. Moreover, the ground would be frozen hard through long winters, making digging for a burial hard. But once Christianity came in, the new socioreligious norms quickly overturned old wisdom.

It may be the same in parts of southeast Asia where the pre-existing religions—Hinduism, Buddhism and native religions—would’ve burned their dead. Yet, after the adoption of Islam, most societies turned to burial. Despite plenty of thick tropical forests for wood, and expense of clearing land (or lack of it on islands) for burial.

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Friday, the 13th

The dark clouds arrived—Boris returned as PM, winning a big majority, winning a mandate for more lies and bluster for all future elections.

The silver lining faded—Corbyn refused to step down, instead asking for a period of ‘introspection’, and only promising a vague ‘will not lead the party in next election.’ Labour lost 61 seats across the country, and managed to win just one from another party. Labour has now lost two elections in a row under him; elections that any other decent leader would have won comfortably. Still, the ditherer-in-chief says he wants to introspect for a few months to figure out what went wrong!

Then the interesting stuff began.

I published my second Android app: Accelereader for Instapaper. It was in beta for a few weeks, but went into public release earlier this week. It’s always scary publishing publicly, however small the audience may be.

Then I did something even scarier—I decided on the Hanson method for training for the Paris marathon. Even the beginner program has 6 days of running most weeks; I struggle to run 5 days consistently. The beginner program also has almost two months of running 80-90 km per week. My weekly cadence has only rarely been above 50 km. It involves multiple faster-than-race-pace 10-mile tempo runs, and interval sessions that go on longer than my current long weekend runs. I’ll come out of this training season at the top of my running fitness, or broken—mentally and physically.

Not everything is scary. I made progress with the pull-ups. Today I did two full ones. Twice. Last week I was celebrating almost completing one. A few weeks ago I couldn’t even do a quarter. I also do 4-6 chin-ups a couple of times a day, up from just 1-2 a few weeks ago. (Yes, chin-ups and pull-ups are different)

I’ve also made progress with weight loss (despite the muscle gain from pull-ups and running). Yesterday, I weighed-in at 76.2Kg, a nearly 5-year low, and within hitting distance of the goal weight.

And finally, the best bit: I’ve started meditating again. I’m on a 15-day streak, sometimes twice a day, and finally getting back to being able to focus for a few minutes unbroken. If nothing else survives from this period post (I really hope the current government and opposition leadership don’t), I hope at least this will.

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