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.

Music trends, from 2010 to 2019

I wanted to share the music that I have found and loved over the past 10 years. In a trend form so less about a single artist and more about genres of music because that seemed be to the easiest way to summarize my music spanning over ten years. Each trend has an accompanying Spotify playlist (listen + read ☺️).

Stats

According to Last.fm I listened to 28,791 songs and a total of 129,107 times from January 2010 until end of 2019, that’s about 35 songs a day. I listened to 7,828 artists and 15,697 albums.
The year with the most music listened to was 2011 with 17,494 songs listened (not unique songs, total listens). And 2017 being the year with the least music listened at 8,351 songs which less than half of 2011! The reporting could be a bit off because Spotify and Last.fm don’t always play well together. The song with the most listens is “Crosses” by Jose Gonzalez at 269 plays. And Fleet Foxes with the most plays for a single artist at 3,464 listens (and so is their self-titled album, with 1,426 plays).

Desert rock

This is not really the genre most of this music fits in but I discovered it as such because the prime artists of this category are the groups like Tinariwen, Bombino, and other Malian musicians. Half of Tinariwen’s music is somehow about the desert, so, feeling like you’re experiencing the most out of your own world sort of music experience is completely expected.
But mostly, I think of this as desert music because of the instrumentation and much less about where the artist is from. There are many different artists on this list but a few interesting highlights would be Souad Massi who has the softest song I’ve heard with so much depth behind it. A summer obsession of “Raoui” led me to include the song on here and on many other playlists. It all began with Tinariwen’s “Asuf D Alwa” somewhere in 2014, over the last 6 years, I’ve heard countless new music because of that one accidental pandora recommendation. In 2017, there was a good few months where I would listen to “Kothiboro” by Ayub Ogada while I was in the shower. The song is a good wake up song, doesn’t hype you up but slowly wakes you up. I don’t even know what the song is about and it sounds great to me. I’m sure there are songs on this list that might not mean something I hear them to mean but that’s music, to one person it might mean everything and to another nothing at all, and to some, just something.

Pakistani, Bollywood, and Junoon

This second list of music is something I have listened to for as long as I can remember, it’s not really a new trend for the past decade but instead a reintroduction. I put Junoon in the name of this trend because I don’t know how else to describe the rock music that Junoon makes. This category of music has really resurged in the last few years as I found it to be helpful in concentrating while working and especially during writing code. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a different language and my brain is not easily distracted. Same would go for the desert music as well I suppose. This list contains a lot of different music but I think most of it I listened to together so that’s why I’m including it as one list.

Electronic, various genres

I can’t keep up with all the different subgeneres of electronic music, maybe I’m ignorant but I’m happy collecting and listening to music without much knowledge of genre names. So in the trend, maybe I am thinking of individual artists. The overall trend here has been more instrumental, similar sounding music so working for a decent period of time can be done with one 10-15 song playlist. I don’t like to listen to too much music of the same genre in more than one sittings in the same day. So, idk if others have this but I don’t have “grunge days” or “rap days”. But here and there, I will listen to a specific genre more than a couple of hours. There’s one particular song that sticks out more than others, “Stuck – Superpitcher Remix” by Contriva, I listened to that song a lot when I first started writing code at work. There are so many artists on this list that I had no idea existed 10 years ago! Well…here’s the list.

Folk and American Primitivism

If there’s one thing that was pretty hectic in the 2010s, it was the number of so many different music curation services that came and went. Rdio and Songza were two I used quite a bit. Rdio was just to tide me over until Spotify became available in the US and after that, I stopped using that too. Songza introduced me to a genre I had never heard of before called American Primitivism, which is a folksy sort of instrumental guitar music as far as I can tell and it has a very calming sound. I started listening to this when I was working at Outbound and then the songs I discovered stuck around. Artists from this genre include John Fahey, Sandy Bull, and Bert Jansch (his music might not all fit in this genre). Then there are the folk artists like Cat Stevens, Fleet Foxes, Jose Gonzalez, and so many others who have been about a quarter to a third of my music over the past ten or more years, these artists range from me liking one or two songs all the way to every song released by them. I think it started with Fleet Foxes in 2008 and now, 12ish years later, there’s still so much more indie folk and classic folk that I’m discovering. Singer-songwriters are also in this category.

The Witcher

Ok fine, this is not a category and I’m explicitly calling out an album but I guess it does have a sound that’s unique, the game brought me lots of joy and the music has stuck around afterwards.

Top 20 songs of the 2010s

At first I was reluctant to put this list on here but really wanted to keep a list of the songs I liked out of so much music I had heard.

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 last.fm 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 last.fm 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.

Purging music for the year

I’m currently in the middle of writing two posts and I feel that I’m still very far from completing them so I wanted to post just a song and talk about purging music for the previous year. Kristen gave me this suggestion at the end of 2018, make a playlist for the year in Spotify (or whatever music streaming service you use) and clean the library itself. This was a good push into discovering new music in 2019. I’m doing the same for 2020 so while I do that and finish up the other two posts, I wanted to share the following song too: