Killing analytics on my personal sites

Last year, I spent almost a full day setting up Fathom analytics to track my personal projects and this blog. It’s been just over a year now and after looking at my lackluster analytics 😁 I’ve decided to just stop paying the $5 a month to host the Fathom instance. It’s not worth even the $5, I’m doing something like 100 views on my blog and just about 100 on all others combined so in that case, I am wasting more effort maintaining the DigitalOcean box and paying a hefty amount for analytics.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to Google Analytics, that’s just a big no-no in my book.

Go be a Ranger, little Archie

Since last Thursday, we had been fostering a little puppy. We gave him the name Archie. He is a blue healer and Bernese mountain dog mix, so he’s going to be a big dog. Below is a picture of him.

We were fostering him because animal shelters are closing due to the coronavirus lockdowns everywhere. Kristen went and picked him up from Vacaville.

He was a little guy among a bunch of dogs there, the person Kristen got him from is a volunteer at a nearby shelter and she brought him home. He was sleeping outside and Kristen just couldn’t take it so she brought him home.

Archie was a name Kristen picked because it sounded cute for a big dog. We had started crate training him and he was whining a lot at night but getting better night by night. Our house is a mess because he bites and pulls on everything.

A few days ago, I brought up to Kristen that we can’t have a 3rd pet right now because of how much attention he needs while we’re also paying attention to our other two pets, Samson and Heisenberg. Along this, there’s also the fact that he was going to be a foster which made me not want to get too attached to him.

Well, we had gotten some replies on the craigslist post but most were either too vague to be taken seriously or people were just not serious about picking him up. After having him for a week, it’s hard to say bye to him and just let him go to any stranger’s home so Kristen was vetting each reply and making sure the people were actually serious about him.

Last night, she got a reply from a couple who live in Napa and they have a farm up there. They were interested in him because they had just put down their down dog who was very ill with cancer and pretty far along in his years.

They came by today and Archie met them. They asked us what made us name him “Archie” and we didn’t have any reason and Kristen said “His name was Ranger when we got him” and the couple choked up and started to laugh after a quiet moment and said “that was our dog’s name!” So that was it, they couldn’t stop petting him and holding him and he couldn’t get enough of them. He’s now on his way to his new home on a farm, where he’ll be another Ranger and I hope he lives his best life out there. And I do hope to see him when he’s all grown up, one day.

Having a foster is really hard, I don’t think I can ever do it again. A puppy is so loving and so attention hungry, there’s not much you can do to avoid loving them. I’m going to miss this little guy a lot!

Some more photos of him:

Update: We got an update from the couple who took him earlier today. They said he slept on the ride there. He met their other dog named Boomerang and tried playing with her. He met their chickens and walked around the farm. He loves running through the tall grass. We don’t have any tall grass but we had some plants that he ran through. I’m so happy he went to a farm where he’ll grow up to have tons of room. I miss him a lot. He’s so cute and so energetic. I will miss his subtly upset groan he would do if you picked him up while he was barking. They have a farm where there’s a huge area for the dogs to hang out when they’re not around and he has his own 6×6 crate to sleep in.

I am looking around realizing we try our best to give Samson and Heisenberg a good life and I believe here he would’ve been happy too but maybe not as wild as he will be there.

I believe it was meant to be for Kristen to pick him up last week and bring him here so he can find his way to the farm. He won’t be alone, sleeping outside, with nobody to play with. He will be doing a lot of helping and running around, not bored in the dirt in someone’s backyard. Thank you Kristen for showing me this.

He is now called Ranger.

Some songs that remind me of him, in some way I guess:

“Silent Way” by Milo Greene

“Genesis” by Jorma Kaukonen

March 25th, 2020

Today, I think the infected cases for coronavirus in the US are 3rd highest in the world and growing the fastest.

The puppy, Archie, is too much trouble. I forgot how much work it is to take care of a young dog. He’s extremely energetic. Samson is really annoyed with him too. And Heisenberg won’t be in the same room as him.

I hope people are staying inside.

Middle child syndrome and Bluetooth keyboard

I’ve been thinking about often I take for granted the lack of maintenance my pets Samson and Heisenberg require. So little that I never really think about the sound levels around our house. But since we have been fostering a puppy, it’s been way different. Archie is his name. He’s cute but so young he’s clumsy and every little sound grabs his attention.

So, I’ve been leaving behind my Bluetooth keyboard I use to write my long form stuff on my iPhone. Mostly to not make any sound when typing.

I’m pretty sure Samson has the middle child syndrome. He is quiet most of the day, doesn’t want to play, and he’s isn’t eating much.

I’ve not been keeping tracking of Coronavirus numbers but today I think they’re around 300k. I could be a bit off.

March 19th, 2020

I’m writing this to just vent about the current situation going on all around us now.

I don’t know how many days it has been since I’ve been working from home. I’m kind of feeling hazy about it all. Getting cabin fever but I suppose that’s better than getting coronavirus at this point.

The whole day is a blur, working, eating, cleaning, and anything just kind of happens in a fluid but unorganized way.

Today, California was put in a quarantine or whatever the word the governor used to sound less authoritarian. It’s pretty dire to know that 39-40 million people are now supposed to stay home, this will really push the limits of our infrastructure like internet and maybe even electricity since most homes were not using energy at the this level during off-peak hours.

Putting America’s largest economy on hold is going to be pretty drastic for the economy overall.

Some Bulleh Shah mentions in recent music

“Recent” might be a stretch but I wanted to collect my favorite songs where Bulleh Shah is directly or indirectly referenced. Indirectly would be that the song is either an adaptation of his work or uses the elements of his writing to make the lyrics or music stand out.

First off, the earliest to do it a long time ago in the 1990s, Junoon:

Junoon did an amazing rock rendition of the song to the point where very recently I realized that it was referencing Bulleh Shah.

And now, Rabbi Shergill’s amazing taunt here:

The Rabbi Shergill one is worth watching as a music video, it contains a lot of visual elements that really bring the lyrics to life.

The next one is an indirect reference, by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (NFAK) in this remix that appeared later on:

There are dozens of songs by NFAK which are either poems by Bulleh Shah or references to characters and themes of Bulleh Shah.

And here’s another one that’s by Junoon:

Tea at Coleridge

It’s late October, the year is 2017 and I’m sitting at the dining table in my kitchen. I’m in the middle of figuring out if I should continuing listening to music on the Echo or wander off to the living room to read something or even just lay on the couch to watch TV. The music in autumn is the same as it is in any other month if you live in San Francisco, just like the weather. The heater comes on and it’s loud, the music gets droned out while I consider what is next to do. Should I continue sitting at this table, scouring Spotify to find a song I will like or will the heater just go on too long to enjoy the music now?
I decide to get up and do something else instead. As many other nights at my apartment on Coleridge, this night, I go to the stove and grab the blue kettle. A gift from a friend who’s long gone but the kettle keeps on doing what it was intended to do. Filling it with a few cups’ worth of water, I put it on the stove and walk away.
Like many times before this night and nights after this, I have built a ritual around making arbitrary decisions that almost always converged on making and enjoying tea.

Tea had become a staple within my nightly rituals because it helped me destress, relax, and enjoy the moments all at the same time. I would grab a book or turn on the TV, grab some cookies or dark chocolate and just hang out on the couch, slowly sipping the tea.
This post is partly about tea and partly about my time at my apartment on Coleridge street. I loved living there and after moving to Oakland, I wanted to sit down and recollect some of my favorite things about the past five or so years that I spent there.

The beginning

It was early 2014 when Kristen and I were visiting Noah to his newborn daughter, Violet. We got to the building and saw an open door with a fresh paint job recently finished and being aired out. We headed upstairs and went inside Noah’s place. We met the baby, the mom, and Noah’s mom there. After visiting for awhile, we got to chatting about the apartment downstairs and Noah told us it was recently vacated and it’s going to be ready to move in within a month or so.
On the drive back, Kristen thoroughly convinced me by the simple reason that our lease was about to be month to month as well as the rent going up by $250 a month. So, the decision was easy and simple (in hindsight at least, at the time, I was a bit hesitant). We contacted Noah and within a month we moved in.

Thus, started our stay at our home on Coleridge for 5 years.

Before moving to Coleridge, we lived in Pacifica, a nice sight on a weekend but a miserable place to live every other day of the year. We visited on a beautiful day and thought it was a nice place to live especially as our first apartment together. After a year, a motorcycle accident, and few other mishaps, the place had a bad omen which drove us away.

After we moved to Coleridge, I was pleasantly surprised by how much sunshine we saw most days of the week. This is a place in San Francisco and it was sunny, sunnier still than what I was used to in Pacifica by a long shot. About a month after I moved in, I started looking for a new job and so started working at Outbound. After about a year and half, I left Outbound and joined Weebly.

The Home

Work was work but the home was becoming a nest of mine and Kristen’s efforts. Kristen is great at putting things together to make an empty apartment into a home. We are in the midst of that at the new house as I type this. But this was the first place where I felt we were building a home together.

My cat, Heisenberg, was adopted when I lived with roommates before moving to Pacifica. She spent a year with us in Pacifica and then when we got to Coleridge, she was able to thrive, grow up, and just be a cat, she also caught a dozen mice outside. I always wanted to make sure she had a good place to roam around. Heisenberg is the perfect cat, not so needy and loving in times of need and want. After getting comfortable at the apartment, I would go outside with her. On weekends, maybe with a tea or coffee in my hand while she just smelled the various plants and openings. As I type this, her tail is on my keyboard while she looks outside (there’s nothing I can see since it’s night time but she has cat eyes so who knows what she’s seeing).

When Heisenberg was 4, I brought her a surprise which was our very special baby, Bilo. He was always a little cat. When she met him, she took care of him as much as a cat can do. My most memorable interaction of them two is when Bilo was just sitting by me, me drinking some tea and watching TV, Heisenberg came into the living room and in her mouth was a string toy. She wanted to play with him and that just melted my heart.

The home welcomed another member in 2017, Samson. A tiny little puppy I met at a puppy event at my work. He is the spoiled brat of the house, to this day. The three pets kind of got along and things were great.

At the end of 2017, Bilo was so sick we had to put him down. It definitely struck me pretty hard and slowly I moved on.

And when 2018 came around, Kristen and I got married. Things were 100% serious now (as if they weren’t with 3 pets and many years of living together). We got a new car. We got a new landlord. I started working at Square (via the Weebly acquisition).

All that time, tea was a comforting reminder of how life keeps going and you can choose to make a cup of tea or not. It’s that simple.

Around the end of 2019, we decided to look for a house seriously and we’ve found a little place in Oakland. More to come when we’re settled in…

Leaving behind the social networks

My blog is my most open and personal place where I talk about anything on my mind. Ten years ago, it was facebook and twitter. In the last few years, it has been instagram and reddit.

But for a very long time now, I’ve been feeling frustrated and drained by these networks (not by my blog). They’ve successfully used retention tactics to keep me hooked on their apps.

In 2019, I was doing a great job avoiding social media in general but slowly, I gave in and the amount of time I was spending went up steadily. Early 2019, on a daily basis, I was spending 5-15 minutes on Instagram and about 20-30 minutes on reddit, today I’m spending over an hour on each.

I am stealing time away from things that do benefit my mental health and overall well-being like sleeping, reading, listening to music, even eating mindfully and just resting by myself. Every single day, I’m getting notifications and alerts for pointless and time-wasting things. Reddit has become so good at this that it alerts me about topics I might be interested in and sometimes, my weak human mind gives into those shiny notifications.

With social networks, the age-old sell is that they help you connect with your friends, family, and interests. That’s true, but I’m ‘connecting’ and ‘socializing’ for maybe an hour a week and the rest 10-20 hours are burnt on scrolling through junk created by strangers on the internet. I am giving up on trying to find some quality from the unlimited quantity of content online.

I’ll catch up on news, memes, and interesting things once in awhile but for right now, I’m concerned about my own mental health. I have deleted my Facebook permanently and I’m going to delete the other apps off my phone. If I have the urge to post something, I’ll post it on this blog. Otherwise, I want to stay away from social networks online.

Notes and pages

I’ve been collecting notes on various things recently and I want to share them as part of the “All Pages” page. This page will house various kinds of notes. I’m not too picky on what I take notes on and all of these are intended to be shared so hopefully there’s something useful for you.

Current list:

Finding Aspen

Last week, I ran into an interesting mental exercise. I woke up with a song playing in my head that I had not heard for at least a year. It kept playing in my head as I got ready for work. Then on my way to work, I started playing other music so I kind of forgot about it. Later in the day, I was in a meeting at work and it popped in my head again. Then again it came to me when I got home that evening. So I set out to find it.

It’s an electronic song so there are no lyrics. If there were any lyrics, I would’ve searched online with some combination of words and guesses, I would’ve found it. But it was an instrumental song so I didn’t really have much to go off of to start my search.

I started looking around 8pm, first by looking through the the playlists containing any electronic music in my Spotify library. This made me realize how many tiny and unfinished playlists I have while at the same time, I rediscovered some forgotten gems. But even with all the manual looking around, I couldn’t find the song I was looking for.

Then I decided it’s time to use some of my programming chops to make things easier to find. I got the full list of my scrobbles in and filtered them based on artists, duplicates, and anything else that was doable at that point. If I remember correct, I started with about 7k songs I ended up with about 1500 songs at that point. At this point, I felt like this list was pretty big but not impossible to parse through manually again.

At one point I wanted to create a playlist of all the songs in Spotify so it would be easier to skip each song. But after going through oAuth and jumping through all the hoops to get Spotify to cooperate, I was tired and it was around 11pm. I had heard maybe 200 different songs at this point. Definitely some gems and some close ones but none were the song I was looking for.

I went to sleep with an annoying desire to hear this song. And I hoped maybe by the morning the song would be out of my head.

The next day I woke up and thanks to the human brain being so well evolved, I was still obsessed with the song. The same electronic beat played with the distinct backing vocals that I can’t properly verbalize.

But fortunately, sleep brings some good ideas, one being the following: look at the top songs I had listened to in 2018 instead of 2019 since I definitely don’t remember listening to it in 2019. So, as I started scanning the list. After scanning the first page without even listening to each song, I went to the second page on and there it was, my 94th most heard song in 2018, Aspen by Attlas.

Listen to see if you can hear what I heard for pretty much a full day of my life without knowing what it was.

Youtube link in case Spotify loses the track

Some background on the song: it was featured on the first episode of deadmau5’s mau5trap radio show on Apple Music.