Happy 12th Anniversary!Mon, 27th Jul '20, 1:45 am::

Today marks twelve years since the day Juliet and I eloped to Yellowstone and got married in front of a waterfall. Last November after we brought Leela home, I was planning on a Costa Rica vacation to celebrate our anniversary but scrapped everything once I noticed the uptick in coronavirus cases around the world earlier this year. So now instead of creating new happy memories, we're just staying home and sticking to our normal family/work routine.

As much as I'd like to lament over how repetitive and mundane our life has become these past few months, honestly I'm just glad I got to spend more time with Juliet this summer. Of course it would have been great going out and celebrating all of our special days with friends and family but given that my chronic dry cough is back with a vengeance, I'm happy to be home with the love of my life without worrying about catching anything outside.

We've been cooking healthy meals, working on puzzles, exercising regularly, playing video games, and watching the kids together. No matter how bad things have gotten for us over the years, I've always been able to rely on Juliet to make me laugh, pull me out of any rut I find myself stuck in, and be open to sharing our thoughts, worries, and dreams. Not that I ever forgot but this summer made me appreciate how amazing she is and how lucky I am.

I love you Juliet!

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Isolated but not isolonelyFri, 8th May '20, 3:55 am::

Leela turns six months old today! She is healthy, smiling, and surprisingly easy to care for. Naveen is doing well, especially now that Juliet bought him a tiny indoors trampoline to jump on all day. We've been at home for 7 weeks now and keeping ourselves busy. Four days a week, we attend an online martial arts class hosted by our friends Maria & Megan at Mt. Song. Naveen's been playing Terraria on his Kindle and I've been catching up on last few years of DC superheroes shows on Netflix.

Not to say that things are all peachy. It is definitely a detriment to both the kids that they have nobody else their age to play with at this time and might not for another few months. Juliet has started getting Naveen to exchange letters with his friends. She is pretty social and outgoing herself and hasn't seen her friends in a while too so I'm sure it's been hard on her. Not much has changed for me since I barely go out to meet people in person; most of my socializing is online or on the phone so I'm the least impacted.

As to my thoughts on how the virus will further spread or die out - no idea. I've been keeping an eye on it since late December when it was just a rumor. We now know so much about it but it is still not enough. We don't know which medicines help and at what stage of the infection. We don't know if lack of Vitamin D has a material impact on severity. We don't know if most people already have it. We don't know if there will be another wave or two. We don't know if there will be a vaccine in a year or two. We don't know which country is doing is right for the long term - Sweden or Singapore.

What I do know is that we know a lot about seasonal flu. We have vaccines, procedures and protocols, and a century of painful experience and medical knowledge. And yet seasonal flu kills tens of thousands of people each year. This variant of coronavirus is new, unlike other common viruses, and as of yet, incurable. So regardless of whether it's ro factor is higher or lower than flu, there are far too many unknowns for anyone to predict months out. We can extrapolate infection case counts for a few days or week but beyond that, nobody knows. We can look at community infection rates and suggest mitigation efforts but we cannot predict how people will adhere to them. Anyone who says anything concrete is just giving their best opinion. Will it go away after everything reopens? Nobody knows. Will it caught a million deaths by end of 2020? Nobody knows.

It is common for there to be world-wide issues that affect everyone that nobody knows how to predict. That's been the standard of our experience for millennia. Nobody knew when the World Wars would end. Nobody knows when the next big earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, or volcanic eruption will be. Nobody knows what price of oil will be in three years. Our entire society is built on not knowing something but working very hard to find out. That's what we humans do. We say "I dunno but..." and then we figure it out a decade later. Our problem isn't that people don't know. Our problem is people who don't know but claim they do. It is totally ok to be cautious at this time because we really don't know. And frankly, since we don't know, it is also ok for others to have different outlook than you, provided they are based on something resembling reality.

My long term outlook of coronavirus is that we will either have a decent enough vaccine or a pretty reliable treatment procedure. Along with the seasonal flu, we will have seasonal COVID cases but they will be fewer in number. Unlike SARS, I don't think coronavirus will be contained and eliminated from general population since it has already spread so much. So it will be closer to swine flu or norovirus. Billions of people with none to mild symptoms, tens of thousands of deaths annually. If my suspicious are correct, then it won't matter if countries chose the Singapore route of "test-everyone and wear masks" or Sweden route of "keep elderly safe but everyone else keep working" except to flatten the hospitalization curve.

Right now most places have indeed flattened the curve but I think that might give people a false sense of safety. People in countries like Vietnam and New Zealand who now have close to zero cases might think their country avoided the COVID pandemic completely. But until there is a vaccine, there is no guarantee that they won't become the next hot spot after reopening their borders to tourists. Contrast that with Florida that is already reopening and most likely will have an uptick in cases over the summer. A year from now almost all Floridians will either be immune from COVID or some unfortunately dead. So in 2021 summer who will have a better tourist season? Vietnam or NZ which could be a coronavirus zone or Florida which already went through the worst?

These are just opinions, like everyone else. Nobody knows and so all I can say is stay safe, stay healthy, and try not to lick handrails!

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Love in the Time of CoronaMon, 23rd Mar '20, 1:45 am::

Last week, we went to court to attend the final adoption hearing for our baby girl Leela. Due to the numerous state-wide cancellations in light of COVID-19, it turned out to be a private, memorable event. We met with our wonderful attorney, walked into the court as a complete family, baby Leela in arms, Naveen rocking a Super-Brother cape, and met the judge who heard our case. It was a brief 5-minute affair and at the end of it, the judge declared that Leela is now recognized by the State of Florida to be a part of our family in every single way that Naveen is. My parents were there with us to share the culmination of what I can only describe as a four-year journey towards becoming the family that Juliet and I dreamed of, so many years ago.

A couple of days after the court date, my parents were on the flight back to India, just in time before India imposed travel restrictions. This past Thursday I found myself alone at home with the two kids, looking up virtual museum tours. Juliet's been home last couple of days and I finally got some time to catch up on my projects.

Originally I had planned on taking the kids to museums, libraries, and nature parks every day after my parents left for India but now, I'm just staying home with the kids until the situation changes. I do worry about Juliet since she works in ENT/surgery and they're running out of protective gear at the hospital. But honestly, I am more proud of her than worried because right now, the world needs people like her to keep going into work and taking care of everyone.

Before kids, I always remarked that while I spend my days making things green and red in Excel, she's out there performing live-saving surgeries. Now I could say that while I spend my days playing lego and cuddling babies, she's out there fighting a global pandemic. 2020 has been an interesting year.

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Sun, 8th Mar '20, 7:35 am::

Leela turns four months old today! She's doing great and babbling a lot more now. She smiles, grasps objects, and sleeps soundly through the night. She's even doing something called bubbling, which Juliet says is a milestone. My parents have been here for two months, helping take care of both the kids. They're planning on going back to India in less than a month. Once they leave, I plan to be with the kids on weekdays and resume our daily museum and library outings.

Unless, of course, everything shuts down due to coronavirus. We're not panicking but we are being cautious. Best Floridian analogy I can think of is a hurricane that's already ravaged the Caribbean is slowly heading north. Maybe it misses us and fizzles out of the gulf or it's hunker down time. Only time will tell but best to keep our eyes and ears open (but not touch them without washing hands).

In preparation of my new home daycare routine, I've setup a computer desk with my dad's help, where I can work and watch the kids safely. A decade ago I had a desk with 5 vertical monitors, with a combined resolution of 5250×1680 pixels. My new system has three 4k monitors at 3840×2160 each which is nearly three times the pixels. The real difference is the computer needed to power it. Back in 2010, I had a beast of a PC with three graphics cards powering the five screens. Now I have a tiny Mac Mini mounted under my desk, completely invisible from the view. Additionally, all the cables are now neatly tucked away and I can adjust the desk's height as needed. I'm still waiting for some more parts but once it is all done, I will share some pictures.

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Fri, 7th Feb '20, 12:25 am::

A couple of hours ago as we were all getting ready for bed, all of our phones started buzzing with a National Weather Service Tornado Warning. We took the kids and rushed into an indoors bathroom and stayed there from 10:40pm until 11:05pm, wondering how far the tornado was. I was able to view our outdoors cameras on my phone and the rain was coming down heavy. We could hear the wind pick up speed around 10:45pm. Thankfully for us, everything quieted down by 10:55pm and a quick backyard inspection showed no trees down. I'll have to do a thorough walk-through tomorrow and make sure no roof tiles were damaged. We're 4 months away from the hurricane season in Florida but the unexpected alert from a winter thunderstorm felt no less severe.

I heard on the news that there were people injured from downed trees a few miles away from us. Coincidentally just earlier today I messaged my lawn guy to trim down some branches that are starting to hunch near our garage. Such is life in evergreen Florida.

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Our daughter LeelaMon, 2nd Dec '19, 3:25 pm::

I waited until we got home to announce this because I still cannot believe it really, actually, finally happened! Early morning on November 8th, we got a call from our adoption attorney saying we needed to fly to Arizona immediately because our daughter was going to be born soon! Within an hour I booked the flights, hotel, and rental car while Juliet and Naveen packed up everything. Just as we were locking up the house, we got the word that our daughter Leela was born! We flew to Arizona a couple of hours later and got to hold her the same night! I don't think there are enough exclamation points in the world to describe how we felt looking at her tiny little face and hands and feet!!!

Leela doesn't know it yet but we had been waiting for her for a long, long time. And she is everything we could have asked for. The adoption process has not been easy but holding her for the first time made the years of trials and tribulations worth it. Naveen has been very helpful throughout the process, repeatedly asking us how he can help with the baby chores.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with lots of food, thanks to Juliet's bestie Rebecca who cooked up a delicious dinner for us while we were on the flight back from Arizona. Juliet is taking some time off from work, my parents are going to come stay with us soon, and the holidays are coming up. Leela is going to be loved and coddled beyond belief :)

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Tue, 29th Oct '19, 12:45 am::

It's been four weeks since I started homeschooling Naveen. While I had very modest expectations to begin with, I can honestly say that even my wildest expectations would not compare to how great the past month has been. We've been to more museums, libraries, art galleries, parks, and family events in four weeks than the four years since he was born! I had a handful of measurable goals before we started and he has made progress on all of them.

First and foremost was his weight. Having had an unexpectedly large growth spurt earlier this year, his weight was too low compared to his height. In just four weeks, he's gained three solid pounds! Another improvement is his physical endurance. He would often get tired and not have enough energy to run around. I've been taking him on long hikes and regular classes for gymnastics and swimming. Yesterday he swam freestyle over 100m on his own! I learned how to swim at age 11-12 I believe, so that's a pretty solid distance for a kid under 5. I didn't have any academic goals for him but he has started reading science books on his own now, so that's a bonus.

All of his progress aside, the most uncertain aspect of homeschooling was not how well he would do but how well I could manage it. Turns out, I can. I absolutely love it and want more. I look forward to going on our little 'adventures' daily, even if we just go to the neighborhood park. I don't think I've lost much weight but I've definitely increased my walking endurance. Since I still have a lot of stressful 'grownup' things to handle besides the kid, it's not like I'm living a life of peaceful retirement in sunny Florida. But for a working chump like me, it is as close as it can be.

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Positive interactionsThu, 10th Oct '19, 12:20 pm::

There is no better feeling than interacting with people who know what they're doing. I often have to contact companies for help with software issues and usually, that involves creating online tickets, filling out detailed forms, going through multiple levels of customer service tiers until I finally reach someone who knows the software well. Sometimes I never even get that far and just give up. But every now and then, I end up working directly with the person who made the software and it can absolutely make my day.

Many years ago I ended up buying a few licenses for Bvckup2 software for work. Backups are a big deal and I cannot afford to have them fail. Ever. But when you have hundreds of users, computers, and tens of millions of files, backups can be a nightmare. There are a thousand different pieces of software that take files from one computer and put them on another. Every use case has a different tool that works the best. For my case, Bvckup2 beats every alternative. I know this sounds like a paid ad but I'm just a happy customer. I've been getting my daily 'Bvckup2 completed successfully' emails for years now and I could not be more satisfied. However, every now and then it fails because of some new issue. Today it was me trying to backup a single file over 2TB to the cloud. No matter what I tried, the backup software kept erroring out.

So I just emailed Alex, the developer of Bvckup2, shared with him some of the log files, and he emailed me the exact changes I need to make to the configuration to fix the issue. This seems like such a simple problem-troubleshoot-solution process but I cannot even begin to describe how rare such an occurrence is for me. I currently have multiple tickets open with a software documentation company, a payroll processing company, a cloud storage provider, a network security firm, and a ton of smaller IT vendors. I swear if each of these companies had an 'Alex' working for them that I could email, I would save so much time each week.

I hope that whenever people interact with me for IT issues, they get the same experience but of course, for complex issues it is not always possible. So whether it is Alex who writes backup software, or Bud who fixed my leaking pool, it is always a wonderful feeling to work with people who know what they're doing.

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Tue, 8th Oct '19, 11:00 pm::

One week into homeschooling Naveen, I'd say things are going better than I expected. Over the last 7 days, we went to multiple public libraries, museums, art galleries, parks, and a local aquarium. We also worked on a number of minor house projects together and he's gained some much needed weight. The only problem with all of this is... me. I love packing picnic food and planning our daily activities but there's still an annoying voice in the back of my head that says "Why are you chasing butterflies at 10am?! You should be programming!!!"

The weird part about this is that I rarely work at 10am anyway. My schedule for many years has been erratic and I do most of my work in the evenings and weekends. Until last week, most days at 10am, I was either sleeping or slowly waking up. But I would console myself that it's ok, since I worked until 3am. Now that I'm not working insane hours and have a better sleep schedule, not working during daytime feels "wrong" for some reason. I'm hoping it is just a temporary feeling and that pretty soon I will ease into the homeschooling-dad lifestyle.

I've had a lot more time to think lately and that's heightened my desire to write more. Someone suggested earlier today that I should maintain a blog about all of our homeschooling activities but I'm apprehensive. While my parents certainly would like to hear more about the grand-kid shenanigans, I'm hoping to get back to this blog's roots and write about whatever piques my interest. Maybe I could merge the two. On Saturday, we went to Tampa Museum of Art where I talked to Naveen about what art means to me and asked him how he felt when he saw an ancient marble statue or a vibrant painting. I loved that hour or two of us just walking around, speaking out loud our feelings after seeing a piece of art. Sure, it wasn't anything poignant but it was still surprising when I saw a dark city painting and sighed "congestion", he yelled out "skyscrapers!"

I've written here for almost two decades and while things slowed down a bit in the last few years, I feel re-energized to write more once again. Even if I don't end up writing often, wanting to write more, makes me happy. And hopefully, I'll be able to share my happy-little-thoughts with you.

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Adventure awaitsTue, 1st Oct '19, 8:15 am::

It's hard to recall the last time I was at ease with myself. I have been stressed for weeks, months, maybe years now; constantly moving from one list of tasks to another string of projects, with a few vacations in between. Due to the nature of my work, vacations just mean I have to work significantly more before I leave and have a barrage of issues to deal with when I return. It just feels easier handling 50 emails a day than 300 after a few days away. I've known for a while that such a hectic life was not sustainable but didn't have a good vision of what my life would be.

Last month, life presented a challenge, which turned out to be a golden opportunity for me to simplify things. Naveen, now four, has not been adjusting well to the Montessori school environment. We explored many different avenues over the last couple of years but nothing felt right. After countless meetings with his teachers, caretakers, and school administration, I've decided to take things into my own hands, at least for the time being. I'm not qualified to be a teacher or or even a part-time tutor but there's one advantage I have over everyone who has ever tried to manage him for more than a few hours — I totally get him. It's like dealing with a raw concentrate of 50% Juliet, 50% me. He's highly inquisitive, incessantly curious, and defiantly independent. While these sounds like requisite traits for a 30-under-30 entrepreneur profile, preschools don't exactly line up to recruit non-compliant four year olds.

So I've decided to take over, for now. I say "for now", because all of this is new to me and I have no idea what is going to work out best for him, when. For now, I've changed my work hours to early mornings and early evenings. Weekdays, after breakfast, I plan to take him to museums, libraries, parks, and playgrounds. In addition to these open-ended excursions, we've enrolled him into typical planned activities. Mondays will be swimming, Tuesdays tumbling/gymnastics, Wednesdays arts & crafts, and Thursdays group activities with kids his age. Still trying to find something good for Fridays. Weekends will be same as always - regular family time, birthday parties, and some local traveling.

When I look at this from the perspective of an unqualified educator who has taken up the role of a child's primary education, the task seems daunting. However, when I think that most of my days will now be spent going to museums and parks, I get super excited! I'm guessing the reality will be somewhere in between and that's ok by me.

Today, we're going to the Largo Public Library!

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