Friday, December 30, 2011

Celebrating 100th post!

Over the past two decades the Internet has brought a series of changes to the web that has completely altered the way we interact with it. We are all part of that. I still wonder how I entered into the World Wide Web. The word “blog” has evolved as a new word in the world of internet. What exactly is blogging?  And why does someone blog? The blog is an online personal diary shared with others. In other words it is a website where you can write on an ongoing basis. Some write a blog to earn a living, some write as hobby on any interested topic and some write to express themselves. Personal blogs are written to connect with other people by sharing their experiences around happening in their day to day life. Written for whatever reason, a good blog post must influence its readers. Sometimes I am carried away by reading plethora of information a few bloggers share on their blogspot. Be it about cooking, customs, traditions, politics or history - choose a topic you will find ‘n’ number of blogspots. I think people read blogs as a source of information or because they find the writer style interesting.  The writer may have lot of knowledge to share and mostly writes informally.
Personally I enjoy talking and sharing my experiences or whatever I read in magazines and newspapers. My childhood practice of writing letters and sending through snail mail, now an outdated fashion, paved a path to write a blog.  As I named my blogspot as “my thoughts”, I am enjoying the journey of writing. I am not a literature major or an avid writer. I am just trying to put all my thoughts and my experiences in a language i.e., my own English. My elder son is the brain child of my blogspot, his perseverance and inspiration made me take up “blogging”. My husband’s encouragement guided me to write day after day, posting after posting. My younger one is a great evaluator and critic of my English.  My commenter’s, known to me or anonymous, words have boosted my confidence level to continue my posts daily. My silent readers have contributed their views offline. My mom, who is not an English reader, shared her experiences while I was writing on some of the topics that were related to her. Not only I learnt writing, blogging helped me think and rethink. The process of freelance writing made me think from a different perspective. My ideas probably evolved as I wrote. While writing a non-fictional topic, I started off lamely, but later researched thoroughly and composed them in my own way. This process expanded my view of understanding the essence while reading articles and magazines.  The best part of blogging to me is the progression of writing and receiving comments from readers like you. Thank you all who accompanied me in the journey of blogging to my 100th posting. 

“Blogging is an art, same as any other method of self-expression. Some are better at it than others.” 
-Hugh Macleod

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quiz of the day (23)

I enjoy answering quiz questions. If you are like me, here is a random quiz question of the day in general knowledge for you to answer or else check back tomorrow for the answer.  
This would be the last quiz question of this year. With New Year around the corner have fun time and have laughable moments to share. I know we all enjoy being around people who are funny and make us laugh. If somebody says they are coulrophobia, to which kind of ‘funny’ people are they fear of? 
a) clowns
b) humorist
c) comedians
d) jokers
Quiz of the day (22) Answer: d) pentastich 
"Your fingers barely have to twitch,
To scribe a little pentastich,
In lines laid five,
As feet sprout toes,
The pentastich's pattern flows."


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pushya maasam-the tenth month of the Hindu lunar calendar (December 25-January 23)

Pushya maasam is the tenth month in hindu lunar calendar followed in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, and Gujarat. The star pushyami coincides with the pournami of this month, so is the name of the month. This month is considered as inauspicious month for some sorts of rituals like marriages, gruha pravesh, engagements, etc. but is well-known for its spiritual importance. Dhanurmaasam (solar month) started on Dec 17, lasts till Jan 15. Apart from the major festival four day festival of Bhogi, Makara Sankranthi, Kanuma, and Mukkanuma; Vaikunta Ekadasi is also celebrated this month.
There are 24 Ekadasis (11th day after amavasaya or pournami) observed by Hindus during the year. Of these Vaikunta Ekadasi (January 5) the 11th day after pournami in pushya maasam, is considered very auspicious. Vishnu’s abode or heaven has an open house where the gates are opened on this day. Lord Himself came to the doorstep of Vaikunta to receive His devotees, who entered the temple through the ‘uttara dwara darasanam’ (north entrance to the temple) which remains open on this day. People take up fasting on this day for all their wishes to come true. It is believed that one who worships Lord Vishnu on this day will reach Vaikunta (Heaven). Vaikunta is the sacred abode of Lord Maha Vishnu, the Maintainer God. “Vaikunta Ekadasi” is the most powerful, and it is believed that we can be rescued from our current confusion and suffering by seeking redemption in this place of peace. If one observes this time, then it is said that the gates will be kept open, till the person’s soul leaves the physical body. The importance of Vaikunata Ekadasi was narrated to Yudhishtira by Lord Krishna and is found in the Bhavishyotara Purana. 
Bhogi (January 14) is the first day of four-day Sankranthi festival in Andhra Pradesh. Bhogi 2012 date is January 14. Bhogi mantalu or sacred bonfire, Bhogi pallu-a mixture of fruits with turmeric rice is showered on children by the elders on this day. Bommala koluvu, various dolls are assembled and show cased. We draw Sankranthi Muggulu on the occasion of Bhogi inviting Sankranti Lakshmi into our houses.
Makara Sankranti (January 15) is the only Hindu festival which is based on the solar calendar rather than the lunar calendar. Uttarayanam (winter solstice) starts with the Sun’s movement into Capricorn (Makara) constellation are considered very important. It is the beginning of a six-month period of the auspicious time of Sun’s called Uttaraayana Punya Kaalamu (Uttar-North, aayana-course, Punya-divine, Kaalamu-time).  In some parts of India, the festival is celebrated by taking dips in any river and offering water to the Sun God. Special puja is offered as a thanks giving for good harvest on Sankranti day. Since the festival is celebrated in the mid winter, the food prepared (ex. Sesame seeds) for this festival is such that they keep the body warm and give high energy.
Kanuma (January 16) festival is usually celebrated by farmers, as thanksgiving to the harvest. Cattle, instruments used in farming like tractors, plows are worshiped. Cattle and harvest help nourish us. The energy in them is considered like real nature of God. On this day there is wide display of gangireddu (decorative bull) in front of the homes, the owner of the cow is given grains or clothes in return for the blessings. Animals are decorated and races are held, sometimes the banned cockfights and bullfights are common. At home usually we make dishes with urad dal as main ingredient (vada or garelu), offered to Goddess. There is a saying “that even crow takes head bath on this day”, and normally traveling outside the town or village is not advised.
Mukkanuma (January 17) is observed the day after Kanuma and is primarily a day of feasting and merry making.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quiz of the day (22)

I enjoy answering quiz questions. If you are like me, here is a random quiz question of the day in general knowledge for you to answer or else check back tomorrow for the answer. 
I am sure you all love reading poems some enjoy writing poetry too. If a poem has five lines, what is the poem called?
a) Limerick
b) Sonnet
c) Quatrain
d) Pentastich
Quiz of the day (21) Answer: a) troy ounce (weight equal to 480 grains or 31.1034 grams)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice

We have seen enough winter season’ already! Today is winter solstice day. Solstice-in Latin “sol” means sun and “sistere” means to stand still. The winter solstice happens on the 21st or the 22nd of December. It is on this day when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, which means less light for us in the Northern Hemisphere. This means today we get the shortest day – and the longest night of the year.  In fact, right around December 21st of every year, the Sun reaches its lowest point above the horizon. After that, it begins to rise again, and take a longer path through the sky. After today, the days well begin to grow longer and the nights will get shorter. The length of our day is affected not by our distance from the sun but the tilt of Earth’s axis. The axis is an imaginary line running from Earth’s North Pole to its south pole that rotates around. Many cultures have some sort of celebrations shortly after winter solstice. Some of them  that I collected from web
  • The Welsh word for solstice translates as “the point of roughness.”
  • The Talmud calls it “Tekufat Tevet,” first day of “the stripping time.”
  • For the Chinese, winter’s beginning is “dongzhi,” when one tradition is making balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize family gathering.
  • In Korea, these balls are mingled with a sweet red bean called pat jook.
  • In parts of Scandinavia, the locals smear their front doors with butter so that Beiwe, sun goddess of fertility, can lap it up before she continues on her journey.
  • In Japan, young men known as “sun devils,” their faces daubed to represent their imagined solar ancestry, still go among the farms to ensure the earth’s fertility.
  • In Ireland, people called wren-boys take to the roads, wearing masks or straw suits. The practice used to involve the killing of a wren, and singing songs while carrying the corpse from house to house.
  • In areas of northern Pakistan, men have cold water poured over their heads in purification, and are forbidden to sit on any chair till the evening.
  • Purification is also the main object for the Zuni and Hopi tribes of North America, their attempt to recall the sun from its long winter slumber. It also marks the beginning of another turning of their “wheel of the year,” and kivas (sacred underground ritual chambers) are opened to mark the season.
  • Christmas is one of the most globally recognized mid-winter celebrations in Northern hemisphere.
  • In India, Makara Sankranti is celebrated at the beginning of Uttarayana (Sanskrit meaning sun traveling towards the north on the celestial sphere). Bhogi bonfires are set up every nook and corner of the streets early in the morning on the previous day of Makara Sankranti. Special offerings to the Sun God and special pujas are performed as thanksgiving for the harvest; special foods are prepared to keep the body warm. Different regions celebrate this festival with different names like Lohri, bihu, pongal etc.
Whatever way you celebrate, enjoy the shortest day of the year; don't forget that longer days are ahead starting tomorrow!

"Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart."
-Victor Hugo

Monday, December 19, 2011

Quiz of the day (21)

I enjoy answering quiz questions. If you are like me, here is a random quiz question of the day in general knowledge for you to answer or else check back tomorrow for the answer. 
Women are fond of buying jewelry (men gift their loved ones); some are sold by piece and some by weight. What are the weights used by jewelers known as?                                 
a) troy ounce
b) strontium
c) carats
d) tare
 Quiz of the day (20) Answer: b) trees (dendron in greek is trees, -ologist means a person who studies)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quiz of the day (20)

I enjoy answering quiz questions. If you are like me, here is a random quiz question of the day in general knowledge for you to answer or else check back tomorrow for the answer.
Did you ever wonder what a dendrologist would study in the nature?
a) insects
b) trees 
c) rivers
d) mountains
Quiz of the day (19) Answer: a) China (one of the 5 permanent members since 1946 as Republic of China and since 1971 as People's Republic of China)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Quiz of the day (19)

I enjoy answering quiz questions. If you are like me, here is a random quiz question of the day in general knowledge for you to answer or else check back tomorrow for the answer.  
Which is the only Asian country to be a permanent member of the influential United Nations Security Council?  
a) China
b) Japan
c) India
d) Malaysia 
Quiz of the day (18) Answer: c) horology (hora means hour, time; ology means study of)

Monday, December 5, 2011

A short-term project – Long drive

It was after a long weekend, I was savoring the moments of joy of the get-together we had after a long time. In this setting, I received the news that I had to take up a short-term project. The short-term project was not alone I had to think about, it accompanied with the long commute to work. 60 miles drive was part of my short term project; initially I felt can I, but there was no choice. Before the start of my actual day, I had to do some homework to commute the 60 miles daily. So far my driving distance was a max of 10-15 miles. The question I had to figure out was, what is the best and optimum route to follow. I found out there were three to four routes I can take, to start off my husband advised me to take a trial drive on one route to get an idea. On a Sunday afternoon we both started on a compatible route, quarter of the route was OK, from there started the trouble, mid-half of that route had road construction and added detours. Finally after 2 hours, I parked my car at my destination. After taking a trial on a different route, I came up with a best possible route by paying toll. First week of my drive, I had to concentrate on the road, flowing traffic, sudden lane changing, I was thinking can I really drive, as no alternative, so continued with my drive. Second week, I got the grip of drive on the long road, merging and exiting the highways, and then I thought I think I can. From then my thoughts went on to how I can I make use of the long drive. I downloaded some of the podcasts to listen on my to and fro drive. Sometimes driving time has been a best place to think through my thoughts and shape up my ideas. One such day I got the idea to put in writing about my long commute. Variety of experiences on the road made me think through the situation which I could not have imagined. My morning drive was beautiful; the rising Sun says “Hi” to me from the center of the rear mirror and accompanied me half the way of my drive (you know the direction of my drive). 
On some roads, construction workers gave break to the fast running traffic. I was amazed looking at the construction workers working in hot summer. This the time of the year they work to the full extent, which is otherwise not possible during rain or winter. I happened to see couple of turned vehicles, traffic jams, closed lanes due to multiple car accidents. I was lucky to avoid such situations with the grace of God and the help of co-vehicle drivers, be it a motor cycle, car or 18 wheeler truck. One evening, it was the first drizzle of the season, I was struck in a traffic jam due to multiple car accident couple of miles ahead of me. I was on the cross roads of exiting a highway and trying to merge onto another highway. It was an elevated ramp, there was nothing I could do there in a single lane, I tried to look around was amazed to look at the ongoing traffic on the roads below our road and then I was wondering and could not stop appreciating the meticulous work of the civil engineers who built the multiple crossroads connecting highways. There is no point in cribbing upon the traffic jam, it is not in our hands, so tried to appreciate the scene around which can be seen only from there. 
One question always comes to me whenever I see abandoned cars on the road side. How come the owner of the car left it overnight or why the car was not towed away? I could not find one. My car crosses the downtown roads to reach my destination. I wonder looking at the roads so narrow, and see all the pedestrians of the city in downtown. It is hell to find a parking spot but I am lucky to have a parking spot. At the end of my four months project, I learnt the art of lane changing for quicker travel time. I enjoyed the long drive, the roadside beauty which I would have missed had I not got this project. 
There is nothing like adapting to commuting each day is unpredictable. Indeed, my short term project was a blessing in disguise.

“We’re spending a lot more time in our cars commuting, and we’re doing a lot more in cars, especially with new technologies. We do a lot of things and we don’t get caught. But in fact we’re just lucky and we get complacent” 
-Charlie Klauer (Research Scientist, Transportation)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Quiz of the day (18)

I enjoy answering quiz questions. If you are like me, here is a random quiz question of the day in general knowledge for you to answer or else check back tomorrow for the answer.  
We measure time from picoseconds to millennia, what is the scientific name for the study of measurement of time?
a) Chronology
b) Tautology
c) Horology
d) Astrology 
Quiz of the day 17 Answer: c) pencil eraser (Until, the invent of rubber eraser in late 1700's soft parts of bread were used to erase marks made by lead, graphite, chalk, and crayon)