Twenty Fourteen, customized.

I somehow love spending best part of my spare time on this blog. I spent lot of time of late, thinking about color schemes and changing them numerous times. I got obsessed over fonts and simplified Twenty Fourteen to what I believe is minimalistic. And yeah, this site is now responsive too. At some stage I will push these customizations to GitHub.

The customizations I did are by no means out of this world.  These changes are primitive  but they are what I would like them to be.

This is the end of first wave of changes. I am going to live with this design for quite some time so that I can move on to do other interesting stuff.

2 am rants

Today I finalized a number of tweaks to this site and pretty much implemented everything I conceived. Among others, I fixed the color scheme, menu style and security (Check that additional tag in the footer).

It is 2:21 am but I am happy I am able to put all my ideas into action in a single sitting rather than over next two days as I initially planned. Although it means I traded my sleep.

Everything is good until I tested the site in iPhone. The header is disarranged in the mobile browser. However iPad seems to render this site okay. It turned out that I screwed up the responsiveness.  But that is for another day to fix. Yawn.

Don’t lose out, work out.

The title of this post is not mine. That is my current read which is the latest title from the India’s sought after sports science and nutrition expert, Rujuta Diwekar.

I am a great admirer and follower of her work. I respect her immensely.  Whatever few good food habits I have are the result of reading her first book, Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight. Whatever little awareness and appreciation I have for exercising are the result of her gentle nudges via her tweets.  Here are some of her tweets I keep referring for I don’t want to lose out.

The No Sweets Diet

Today I swiped The No Sweets Diet habit in the Lift app for 15th time in a row. This is some significant achievement for me, who loves eating.  In another 13 days I would have contributed my bit to the “world’s largest crowd-sourced randomized diet trial ” a.k.a. The Quantified Diet Project.

NoSweets

Why do you have to diet?

Just like that. Just for fun. There is no compelling reason for my participation in this diet. I never dieted in my life earlier so I just want to test myself if I can be on diet for a stipulated time. So I picked what I believed is the simplest diet to stick to. And then, this contribution to the bigger goal thing.

How difficult is this diet?

I found this diet to be very easy to follow. In fact, I expected this diet to be the simplest and easiest to follow of all the 10 available options. After 15 days, it proved to be so. Because I just don’t have to east sugary stuff. I can still eat nuts, savories, chips, meat etc. And trust me, zero sugar coffee is not really bad.

Though it was a bit difficult ( or even rude) to say no to all those chocolate cakes, cookies, treats and post-biryani cokes, I think it is not impossible. It is also very well worth it because at the end of every day I had that much less unnecessary sugar in my body.

I feel slightly bad about not yet being able to put my tongue on some of my faves like Giapo, Whittaker’s and Hide n Seek Fab in the new year. Nevertheless,  if Whittaker’s are selling since 1896, I don’t see any reason why they can’t continue to sell for another 13 days and beyond. I am sure, so will be the case with other stuff that I am missing temporarily.

What are the advantages of this diet?

Besides much touted advantages of eating sugar free, most importantly, I became more mindful about what I put in my body. Every time I eat something (sugary or sugar-free) , I pause and think a bit rather than mindlessly stuffing the food. This is an important positive change for me.

What next?

I am going to continue the streak for the next 13 days which will give me the satisfaction of finishing something that I started and contributing to the project that matters.

The idea of this whole exercise is not to eat sugar-free for the rest of my life. That is not practical and unsustainable for someone like me who has year’s worth of bad momentum.

It only means now I became more mindful about sugar and junk. Therefore I am less likely to eat them every time. Perhaps I will eat sugar selectively rather than hog any candy, cookie or cake that comes my way.

On Giving.

Today I read thank you cards from a couple of families to which, a  group of amazing individuals I have been fortunate enough to be part of,  made a difference in the just ended festive season.

Some of those messages were written by little hands. Their gratitude moved me. And made my day.  At the time of doing the work, I never thought that result of our efforts would be this much gratifying. It only cost each one us, puny money and a couple of hours of time. But the collective effort of our awesome team happened to be far reaching.

I have been involved in some charities in the past but this particular giving experience is not something I came across so far in my life. In this setting, both the donor and donee remain anonymous to each other. We only knew our beneficiaries by their first name and age so we could buy fitting presents.  The idea is to NOT to make the children feel like some random group of individuals donated stuff to them but to project the whole thing like Santa and his helpers brought them presents and other goodies. The quality of presents was on par with the stuff we would buy for our own children.

Festivals and holiday season is not necessarily a good time of the year for everyone.  The air does not always bring cheer to everybody. For many unfortunate families (with children especially), this season can be very stressful given the expectations and burden festivals bring along. So it feels good to do something about it.

No single person or group will be able to help unfortunate life situation of every needy family, everywhere in the world. So the point is not doing nothing or everything but to do something, sometimes at the least.

[The point of this post is to commemorate the amazing feeling I experienced today after reading thank you cards hand written by children. Not the public display of charity.]

Strawberry Picking

This summer we hoped to visit strawberry farms around the city to experience PYO ( pick-your-own). Although we don’t particularly like eating strawberries, we figured it would be a good outing doing something fun with our little one.  So I searched for any farms that are offering PYO around the city. Google suggested a couple of farms, one of which is very close to the city which is why I deliberately avoided it. So we choose another farm located a bit farther west named Phil Greig Strawberry Gardens.

This garden is right on the state highway 16 en route to Kumeu. It is very easy to identify the place with big enticing hoardings advertising PYO, ice cream, smoothies and coffee. There is a plenty of parking available. Entry costs $7.5 upfront per adult which includes the first KG of picking. Children under 12 go for free. We are allowed to eat the fruit while picking. Any picking that weighs more than a kilo should be paid for at the rate of $7.5 per kilo.

After paying the entry fee, they give a bucket wrapped from inside  with a polythene cover to collect the picked berries. The farm is quite big with so many rows of plant beds so it has plenty of space for everyone. There are good number of fellow pickers mostly mums and dads with their children, spread across the farm. Thanks to today’s temperate weather.

While entering I was a bit skeptical about finding the berries as I learned that they allow PYO  only after the major crop has been harvested. However I became excited after finding the first couple of berries. The pathway between the plant beds is very narrow so had to walk a bit carefully. The berries are mostly concealed under the leaves. There are berries of all sizes including some unripened green ones and flowers. The small red berries are really sweet.  In fact, I don’t particularly get excited about eating strawberries but those tiny ones made me rethink. After about an hour and covering many rows of plant beds, we collected almost 2 kilos of fruit so we didn’t need to pay anything extra.

While leaving we stopped by the enclosed ice cream shop . All the ice cream is strawberry flavoured. Though I could not eat due to my participation in The Quantified Diet Project, my wife and son had it. Apparently the ice cream is good but not good enough to break my streak. So I saved my ice cream for later.

So that’s our first time picking experience. It is so much fun to pluck the fresh and live fruit off the plants. Most importantly our little one enjoyed a lot pointing the berries and asking us to pick. The aroma of farm fresh strawberries is awesome. We definitely look forward to do this next summer.

Samanyu with berry. sam1farm

Countdown to 2014

My 2014 Countdown.

This page also lists the principles behind my 2014 resolutions. These are based on my learning around behavioral science evangelized by Lift app.

I’m going to keep the actual 2014 resolutions to myself because I’d like to delay the satisfaction until they are actually done. In other words, I’m avoiding the undue satisfaction social acknowledgement brings.

.com to .org

Today is another significant milestone for this blog. Effective today, this blog is served as a self hosted WordPress.org site that’s housed in one of the Bluehost’s servers somewhere in the ether.

It’s a bit unfortunate that I had mistakenly registered my domain at WordPress.com without fully aware of the consequences and as a result I had to wait for 60 days before I could transfer out. But on the bright side, I got to know how life is on the hosted version of WordPress so I could appreciate the freedom of WordPress.org.

The wait is finally over in the last couple of weeks. So I attempted the transfer but ran into some troubles. Today I was able to plug the last problem that hindered the move.  It turned out that, besides changing name servers to that of Bluehost, I also had to disable Domain Privacy, generate and enter authorization code . That completed the Domain Transfer and then I just had to update URLs in WP dashboard to chaitanyamsv.com.

First thing I worked on soon after the move is to override Lato with my favorite fonts: Bitter for post titles and Source Sans Pro for post content.  The only thing I liked with Twenty Thirteen is its fonts. So Twenty Thirteen’s fonts combined with Twenty Fourteen’s layout and black plus green color scheme appears cool for the time being. I changed few CSS bits and did try to change the color scheme of Twenty Fourteen to orange but it sucked so I undid it.

There are some interesting bits that need sorting. I will eventually fix them.

Troubleshooter. WordPress-er. Toastmaster. Husband. Dad.