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Awesome! Now I have formal permission from Doc to ride cycle :D

Had accumulated guilt filled 530.7 KMs till now :P

He did suggest me to ride normal bike without bending too much. Good thing is that I have twisted the drop down bar slightly upwards to get the bull horn type grip engaging the hud over shifters and brake. Also, I have reduced the seat height a little bit so that I don't have to bend my back a little too much.

Have lectures starting from 15/16th Feb which will go till 27th Feb. The evasive 100 KM ride probably won't occur in this month, it seems like. I do hope that I am able to earn it before the hot weather kicks in. As of now, I am toggling between Road Bike and 29er. I do find Road Bike more comfortable with better cadence but I do am scared of wearing out the tires of road bike faster than the MTB counterpart on the 29er. Will be difficult to ride Road bike during monsoon, so I do plan to ride road bike as much as possible during winter and summer. And yeah, I still haven't given up on the 10000 KMs target though it is nearly an impossible target considering how lazy I am and haven't had stamina to convert even 70/80 KM ride into a 100 KM one :|
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Docooler M9S Pro

As usual, the story of getting this box was/is a weird one. I had been contemplating buying raspberry Pi 3 for home with an intent of fiddling with it for IoT stuff and at the same time, let it serve as enabler of smart tv thingy out of the Micromax 40" FHD TV that I have. Was unhappy with the excessive price tag it carries in India and started searching for alternatives. Went through Orange PI, Banana PI and whatnot. Stumbled upon Aliexpress courtesy Orange PI thingy and eventually onto M9S boxes. Fiddled around two days looking at these boxes, variants and what separated it from OrangePI/RaspberryPI etc. Decided to buy the 3GB RAM, 32 GB ROM variant (https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Docooler-3GB-DDR-332GB-ROM-Android-TV-Box-Amlogic-S905-Quad-Core-KODI16-0-Fully-Loaded/32697868748.html) as against Raspberry PI at price of 3.7K as against 2.5K of Raspberry PI. Aliexpress delivered it within 10 days and have plugged it with HDMI of TV since then for playing HEVC encoded stuff, a format that my TV won't understand.

Before you read further, here's quick suggestion - Don't buy it!!

Okay, now you may read further :P

Box works perfectly fine for the normal routine usage. Antutu reported score of 29000 but also reported that the kernel running on it is 32 bit even though Amlogic S905 supports 64 bit processing. There aren't ready custom ROMs in 64bit available to upgrade the OS from 5.1 32 bit to 6.x variant with 64 bit kernel. While hunting through all the stuff on net, came across Russian site wherein one person claimed that Chinese are cheating by wrongly claiming it to be 3/32GB box but in reality it is 2/16GB box. So I ran through 3 different apps to figure out about the claims. CPU-Z and Antutu are listing it to be 3/32 GB configuration but Spec Device app is listing it to be 2/16 GB configuration.

Docooler M9S Pro configuration as reported by CPU-Z

Docooler M9S Pro configuration as reported by Antutu

Docooler M9S Pro configuration as reported by Spec Device

Now here is my problem. Which app reads only the sysinfo file sorta thing vs which app actually drills the hardware capacity isn't understood. In essence, which listing to trust, is not known. It creates lots of distrust with Aliexpress and vendor not knowing whether I have been scammed or not. So here's my recommendation - Go for 2 GB/16GB variant. Because, anyways the kernel is sub-par until they come out with 64bit upgrade but I doubt anyone at docooler is working on it. These boxes were out in Aug 2016 and since then no updates to stock rom has been rolled out by anyone.

As for equating it with Raspberry Pi, I doubt I can do that level of trickery in electronics to jump some circuit and connect IoT/Sensors on it. People are attempting few things and I surely am tempted but whether I am able to gather that sort of courage of frying up circuits... Only time will tell :)
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Update of the day - discharged from Physiotherapy

Three Physiotherapists guided my recovery in last 6 weeks. Primarily by Dr Khushboo with last two sessions presided by Dr Shobha Atre and occasional guidance of Dr Mrunali. I thank all three of you :)

Dr Shobha was happy with the progress and concluded my physiotherapy sessions training me on one more additional exercise. The count stands now 14 and the last one requires me to lie down on my stomach, take support of pillow at abdomen, keep hands stretched and then slowly slide them closure brining elbows in bending position and lifting shoulder and stretching back upwards.

Will seek closure and clearance of Dr Arvind Kulkarni in coming week. I hope he approves of my cycling because then the guilt of riding without his consent will fade away :D

I need to maintain discipline of exercising daily without letting laziness get over me. Also need to get the earlier momentum of cycling back in action. Hopefully, this year I should be able to target 10K KMs :D
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Logs of last 7 weeks - attempted

Though I had planned to log each week's experience so that I don't forget how I progressed through it, but could not do for multiple reasons. The first two weeks were painful enough to even sit for more than 5 mins. And typing on lappy lying down on bed with no pillow support turned out way tougher. Subsequent to that, was busy tackling backlog of one activity that went till 30th Dec. It kinda broke rhythm between plan and action. Anyhow, here's the log as I remember it (accuracy level will be low though).

30 Nov to 6 Dec
Mild discomfort in back, aggravated gradually across 6 days. My biggest mistake was not to take leave during this period. I should have rested my back but there was some sort of weirdish deadline for a weirdish activity. Worse part was that activity wasn't completed as I had difficulty sitting in chair for more than 10/15 minutes. Standing and walking also wasn't helping out. Until this time, me and family believed that it was chanak/chamak thingy and kinda took it lightly. My walking posture started become more and more stiff. 5th December, I made another mistake. I stood in queue at ICICI bank to deposit few notes. But machine won't accept cash deposit because bank was awaiting KYC thingy that is supposed to be done every 3 months apparently. Waited for staff who came in very late and who was so busy talking with her boyfriend on phone that she didn't pay heed to my request. Frustrated I left from there, went office and by evening it was big mess. Decided to take off and sought Brother's help. He arranged my meeting with Dr Arvind, who diagnosed it to be minor slip disc and prescribed bed rest for 5 days.

7 Dec to 14 Dec
Bed rest wasn't easy. Lifting up to get into sitting position was awfully painful. Standing up was challenge of different sort. By now posture was completely screwed. I was hating my decision of previous week, my body parts and one organ specifically (bladder, if you must know :P). One friend had arranged lumbar support belt but eventually decided to have my own. Talked to Doctor and bought lumbar support belt. By then Ultracet and Dynapar started kicking in better. Pain was gradually sorted out but the posture remained major issue. Even when I was standing straight, my body appeared tilted more towards left side. In followup visit, Doctor recommended Physio which I started very next day itself.
Resumed office on 12th Dec with occasional leaves in between.

Dec 15 to 22 Dec
Was taught 5 exercises for back strengthening. The first 5 exercises were
1) Lying down, lift waist a few cm up keeping knees straight. Requires heels to dig in.
2) Lying down, clamp buttocks which inadvertently lifts the waist but without any pressure on heel.
3) Lying down, fold knees and lift waist a few centimeters
4) Lying down, keep knees in folding position, bring each knee one at a time closer to your chest.
5) Lying down, keep knees in folding position, drop knees to left side by 30 degrees then to the right side by 30 degrees.

I was told to hold position in each exercise for 5 counts and do each exercise 10 times. I enquired with one of my closest friend if doing more counts and more rounds will be bad. She said it will be okay but I need to pay heed to pain. If I am feeling pain, I need to take break. I started doing 10 counts of holding position and 20 steps in each exercise. Also started doing exercise twice a day. Once post bath, other after returning from office. In followup visit with doctor, asked him when can I start cycling again. Was told strictly not to do for another month. He said Back strengthening requires more time. Told me to continue with Physio until then. Next visit is due in last week of Jan.

Dec 22 to Dec 29
Was taught 4 more exercise.
1) Lying down, stretch left leg downwards while moving right one slightly towards up. Repeat with right leg.
2) lying down, lift left foot upwards keeping right pinned to the mat. Repeat with right foot.
3) In sitting position, lift left foot to bring leg in straight position parallel to ground while keeping right one folded. Repeat with right one.
4) In sitting position, keep hands on waist and left twist waist so as to see as much as to left/back side. Repeat to right side.

First time, lifting right leg was quite painful in both lying down stance as well as sitting stance. Even though doc had said I can take painkillers on SoS basis, I decided not to take any meds. Talked to friend again. She enquired if it was stiffness pain or the body pain. Realized it was stiffness pain. Ignored it and continued exercise gradually overcoming the stiffness pain. It's not completely gone but sensation is quite mild now.

Dec 30 to Jan 6
Was taught 2 additional exercise for standing position
1) Take support of wall, but stand with feet bit farther from wall so that you have a slightly bend position from waist down. Then start bending forwards keeping your palms aligned to legs till you reach knee caps. Slowly try going as farther as possible.
2) In same position, this time bend side ways so that left hand can reach knees cap side ways. Repeat with right hand.
This exercise didn't create any problem. I did try going beyond knee caps gradually. I must admit, I could never do crunches properly. Going beyond knee caps was quite a new thing for me :P

Jan 7 till date
I was told to take off from physio on 14th Jan. Will be visiting them on 21st now. Was taught 2 more exercises this time for strengthening abs.
1) Lying down, keeping knees folded, I have to press tummy inwards as much as possible and hold in that position for 5 seconds.
2) Lying down, keeping knees folded, I have to cross my arms so that left palm touches right shoulder and right palm touches left shoulder and have to lift my head/shoulder/back upwards.

2nd was way tougher to manage. I went breathless with both exercise to start with. But I have maintained the double count thing for these as well. As of date, the total exercise routines are 13 which I perform in counts of 290 in morning and 260 or 290 in evening subject to my laziness level :P

There are 3 exercise that I perform for 30 count. Lying down, lifting each leg up; Sitting, lifting each leg; lying down with arms crossed, lifting shoulder/head/back upwards. Others are done for 20 counts. I try for 10 seconds but to be honest, our counting habits tend to go faster over time. So I suspect if they are 10 seconds to be precise. But they are at least 6/7 seconds for sure.

One good thing during 7th Jan visit with Physio was that this time they allowed me to start cycling smaller rides and let them know how it goes. I was to start cycling last friday but ended up taking off to make Til-laddu at home :D. As of today, I think my posture has gone back to how it was earlier. It was never perfect because I always tend to keep my shoulders in drooping position as they are best for my lazy stance :P. I am wearing lumbar support only for long journeys (like Pune trip on 10th Jan) and only for cycling. Lumbar support is off for most of the time.

Small confession - My physio allowed me to cycle probably because of nagging in each session :P. My doctor might kill me if I disclose about cycling to him. Am I worried? Yes, a lot. Slip disc/herniated disc is a bad word. It may be recoverable but it tends to shake up your confidence a lot. I am more nervous about lifting weight than other things. Your brain tends to go over active in monitoring any pain/sensation in back or limb. You get afraid of jerks and speed bumps. Your reflexes go for a toss during the pain period. Your reaction is very slow. Even if doctor would have allowed me for cycling, I know I could not have managed riding bikey. Thanks to Doc, Physio and my friend who kept me in check on cycling. I whined like a kid but they didn't pay heed :D
  • Current Mood: anxious anxious
  • Current Music: Age of Adaline - Starg again
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Preamble to log of a different kind

Nov 30, 2016 marked the auspicious day when I surrendered to lower back pain and left my cycle in office after the morning ride (https://www.strava.com/activities/789450789). Till I recover, I will be logging down the recovery process. Now for the preamble part.

I am still clueless about what triggered it. Was it lifting a thin looking kid (but literally "loaded" with enough weight :P) to help him sit on the saddle of triban 300 or was it stressing out with ride in morning instead of taking break and taking the day off or was it me riding triban 300 for two days in row across 4 rides on the pathetic road stretch between Andheri or Bandra? Underwent multiple experiments at home on advice from friends, family before settling onto Doctor's diagnosis and prescription eventually on 6th December. By 5th December was in tremendous pain and thanks to Bro, met with Dr Arvind Kulkarni on 6th who diagnosed symptoms for minor slip disc. Took bed rest for some 6 days. Started physio. Started office routine. Started normal walk routine. But more about all that in the logs that will follow.

I am very much interested in knowing the cause because I would want to avoid similar circumstances in future. I am not giving up on cycling. It's a forced break that I am despising with each passing day. In all, one thing is for sure. No lifting of any kid or any weight in wrong posture. If I am feeling stressed out, I will take short break. Will follow recovery process post long rides properly. Gotta work on the stamina, reduce weight and do right set of exercises in tandem with cycling and not just cycling alone.

Kinda awkward but "never back down ever again" kinda sounds more like pun for the situation :P
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Wonder if Ratan Tata has thwarted the non-hostile takeover of Tata group by Shapoor-Pallon via Cyrus

The way the three Parsi bigwigs (Wadia, Godrej, SP) are standing besides Cyrus Mistry post his termination as chairman, I somehow am made to feel that these bunch didn't want Tata group control to go out side Parsi community when Ratan Tata is non longer in any position (healthwise) to carry on any further. As for Cyrus, removal from Tata should be no end of road thing considering backing of SP but they are still fighting from quite some time. And the way Tata is trying to get rid of 3 big wigs from the board one by one makes this suspicion stronger. The only thing that doesn't make sense is despite having enough shares of Tata, why wouldn't SP go for hostile takeover.

Why am I writing this? What business I have with Tata? None. Nada. Nothing et al. And yet like my fellow countrymen I decided to come up with "opinion" of things that I have no control of, no impact of. Yesterday came across Trevor Noah interview where he mentioned something very interesting and dangerous. As of today, opinions are treated as facts powered by Facebook and Twitter. See, what they did to US elections. See, what they are doing to Indian ecosystem. We are probably more worse. No body even calls their imaginations as opinion either but simply spread it around as "knowledge"/fact. What about recipients? No body is interested in digging for facts but are ready to believe whatever bullshit is imagined by someone and circulated as fact. We used to receive hoax mails in Yahoo and Gmail earlier wherein I remember even telling my friends to stop spreading hoax. But that was one to one thing. Now with FB and Twitter, hoax/opinion ripples are simply uncontrolled. They are just forwarded across for the greater good :)

Having said that I would be really amused if this imagined controversy theory actually turns out to be true :P
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Beware of people calling you up about ATM verification

Received call from mobile number 9955259527 in which the person on the other side said that because of lots of frauds happening with jan dhan accounts because of recent demonetization, Govt is now doing ATM card verifications. I told him I don't have Jan Dhan account. He said but I need to do ATM card verification. I asked him from which bank are you calling. He disconnected call. For those who are getting such calls, do not fall for such traps. Best to my knowledge you have no obligations of responding to any ATM card number or pin number verifications. Do not share any information with anyone on phone or even in person. If at all there is some prob with ATM card, you better visit your bank branch to get it resolved.
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Lets celebrate the incredible human we know as Renu ma'am

2006-2007 was the era of transitions. New Boss, new project, new client, new team and the new unknowns. It's 10 years down the line and as I sit back to think and remember how it all was, I realize how I must have taken for granted everyone, everything that redefined me back then. Still feel proud of being part of the team that didn't know how to give up on anything. And yet things could have taken turn for worst, if it weren't for Renu ma'am who, I don't know how and when, turned from Project Director of a complicated project into a close-knit family. She represented a perfect amalgamation of discipline, quality, pride, love and kindness. She could change her forms from being boss to a teacher, to a sister, to a mother whatever the moment demanded of her. I was told this by Tanmoy as well that she was also responsible to help another MMP see light of the day which was entirely being run by another ministry altogether. Did she get everything easy? I will never know what kinds of challenges, interferences, roadblocks were presented to her because I never heard her complaining. Despite developing backache courtesy high stress job, she would continue working on her assignments. Give her the project and give her the freedom and she will get it rolling for you. Give her project and take away her freedom and yet she will still do her best to get it rolling for you. And all this without exploiting or belittling the team around her. Got to work with her for 3 projects/assignments. Never realized how lucky I was until yesterday when she broke news of her VRS to me. Am I sad? Yes and no. Yes, because I will no longer have the coolest boss one can get to work in the Ministry. No, because I am happy in her happiness and knowing that she's going to be around for me in any capacity that I will need of her. That's the perk of being affectionate to an incredible human being called Renu Budhiraja :)

Thank you, Renu ma'am. Always indebted to you :)
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Counted. 14 dry non-cycling weeks.

First thing first. I am not a cycling freak irrespective of how many cycles I own or that most of my recent blogs are only on cycling. Don't like to discuss my work or home or politics. That leaves out random thoughts, cycling and photography. Anyways, back to the dry week thingy and its significance :D

Count of weeks since July 2014 could be approx 120. 14 dry weeks out of 120. Out of 14 weeks, at least 6 weeks were unavoidable. Personal loss, lectures and two out of town visits lasting a week or more. 8 weeks were mostly avoidable. Either I was scared to ride (during 2014) or was getting lazy (2015) or had tire/tube/axle issues in the bikey. Now for the significance. It's Marwari thingy I guess. When I bought Raleigh Elevation 20, I had promised myself that I will earn back each penny spent on it. As it turned out, across time I did end up spending 3K more thereby taking total cost to approx 8K before I passed it onto Abhyudaya. Raleigh Terrain 30 was bought in 14.2K with additional expense of 2K till date in terms of tubes, tires and axle. Had promised myself to ride at least 14000 KMs on it before I would consider buying any more. And barely within 8 months and some 4000 KMs of riding, I ended up buying Triban 3. Expense on it? This one was bought in 25600 considering the cycle stand thingy that it came without. Didn't make any promise to this cycle because here's the problem. If I were to apply either logic of the previous bikey, there is no way I could recover cost of even 26K by riding it for commute. Also I have no intentions of biking 26000 KMs because except for few stretches, roads are mostly horrible and T3 seems too delicate especially the Microshift R8 derailleur. So here I am, who has spent approx around 50K across 3 bikes with upgrades, component changes. I am not the early morning riders kind who cycle for 100KMs on daily basis. My primary use is still limited to commute on daily basis with random rides once in fortnight or so. Despite wanting to finish off 10000 KM in this year, I haven't even crossed half of it so far and honestly have no greater motivation to do either. Makes me wonder why the hell did I buy all these bikes and if it was more sensible to get motorcycle or car instead. But to be honest, can't see much use to them either. I am not the roaming kind to take family around here and there on weekends. Man, anything beyond basic necessities are so damn confusing and guilt filled. Damn!
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