Friday, November 27, 2009

A Not-so-Happy Thanksgiving

This is the festival season in the US and this year the cheer has not been very high. Yesterday was Thanksgiving day and today is the much acclaimed Black Friday. Retailers and corporations across the country gear up for this one day of extensive shopping by consumers. A phenomenon which did not happen today, at least not as much as it happened last year or the year before.

The economic downturn which resulted in massive job losses is starting to show its effect on retail industry as well. People simply can't afford to buy as they used to in the past. I wonder whether the US as a nation and the people will learn from this economic downturn and save. It would be interesting to see where America heads in the next half-century. With so many threats looming for this "immigrant nation" including that of home grown Islamic terrorism (the Fort Hood Shootout is a classic example) and the Iraq and Afghanistan war, it is definitely the stage where the world's drama will be played out.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Charter's Smashing End-of-the-year offers!!!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Charter Communication. All opinions are 100% mine.

Chartercom_black_friday__234x134 One of things I love about Charter communications is their creativity in coming up with new and innovative deals and offerings. Since the past two years Charter has been one company which has been giving away fantastic gifts such as a HDTV every day, a brand new eco-friendly Toyota Prius for greenhorns and a fancy 2010 Chevy Camaro 2SS for the speedsters, for the gaming aficionados Charter gave away Xbox 360s. It is a wonder that this company gave away expensive prizes even in this economy.

As the year comes to an end Charter has decided to make one big bang before the year comes to a close. There are two easy ways to win great deals on charter cable, internet and phone services. There are gift cards and special deals which would enable you to win really cool prizes.

Check out this snazzy Thanksgiving offer, starting Black Friday and going on through Cyber Monday, Charter is offering $200 gift cards for those who sign up for their special online deals. The gift cards are from major retailers, clothing, home, accessories, electronics and even restaurants. This would save you money during the festivities.

The specials don't end on Monday, they are just beginning and will continue through the next 38 days. Every single special deals and prizes and great gifts will be given away to Charter customers. So if you want prizes you need to check out Charter’s Daily Deal Web Site
more often. Prizes and gifts include iPods, camcorders, TVs, GPS units, webcams, photo frames and lots more. There are lots of Big Love and Entourage box-sets too.

If you think that visiting their website everyday is a hassle then just become a fan of Charter on Facebook and you will be kept updated of all the new deals, offers and gifts. Now is this enough reason to celebrate or are you still waiting for something magical from Charter???

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Volunteer and help Exotic Cats in Texas!!!

I had blogged about Insync Exotics, a non-profit organization based out of Wylie, Tx which is working towards providing safe, decent, and healthy homes to abandoned, ill treated and diseased exotic cats. I volunteered at this place on two occasions and though I would like to do more the paucity of time has prevented me from spending more time working with these regal cats. I do hope that sometime soon I will be able to make the time to volunteer at the shelter.

Anyway yesterday I got an e-mail from the volunteer coordinator which I would like to append for all my readers so if any of you are free you could help out.



In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue and care of abused and neglected exotic cats. We are building three new enclosures for several of our cats and need people willing to help with construction. All materials and equipment are supplied; you only need to bring yourself - and any willing friends! This is a great opportunity for service groups or individuals looking to meet community service requirements or simply wanting to be involved in something great!

For more information about volunteering or to make a donation, feel free to “take a tab” and give us a call or visit our website at or call on 972–442-6888

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fantastic iPod/ iPhone Acessory

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Yamaha. All opinions are 100% mine.

Ever since I bought the iPhone I have fallen in love with the gleaming electronic gadget which offers a world of possibilities. Prior to getting the iPhone I was of the firm belief that phones are for talking and there is no need for other features. All this changed after I set my eyes on the iPhone. When I first handled a friends iPhone I was totally impressed by its games, movies, internet, and other facilities.

In a matter of few days I bought one for myself and now me and my iPhone are simply inseparable. I use the iPhone for everything, talking, e-mail, internet browsing, games, videos, listening to music, radio, etc. The possibilities are simply endless. If at all I want something more from the iPhone, it would be greater volume for its sound applications.

This gap is effectively being filled up by the Yamaha PDX-60 Speaker Dock, which comes equipped with he yAired (tm) wireless technology. According to what I read about this new gadget, it connects with the iPhone/ iPod seamlessly and instantly. There will be no buffering or delay in the sounds and the quality will be the same deep, rich bass. Another great feature is its dual charging facility which means that both iPhone and iPod or two iPhones can be charged at the same time.

I am simply enamored by the brand new Yamaha PDX-60 and definitely look forward to check it out soon.

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Book Review: Wanna Study in the U.S. 101 Tips to get you there!

Guide to US-bound students
Wanna Study in the U.S.? 101 Tips to get you there! by Natasha Pratap; Rupa & Co, Price: Rs.395; 302 pp

According to recently published US student enrollment statistics, India has surpassed
China as the No.1 country of origin for foreign students in American universities. Last year (2000-09) the aggregate Indian student population enrolled in institutions of higher education (95,000) topped the Chinese total. With a large and growing number of Indian students hell-bent on pursuing at least a part of their education in the US, this aggregate number is expected to grow by 20-25 percent annually. But making it into the US of A for higher study is easier said than done. With half the third world’s population fleeing communism, socialism, dictatorship and plain socio-economic mismanagement, aspiring to enter this fabled land of opportunity, the US immigration and naturalisation service is working overtime to keep out the scrambling hordes – especially after 9/11. Unsurprisingly the admission process is tedious and difficult questions are raised about adequacy of funding. Visa procedures too have become complicated.

For the swelling number of hopefuls fleeing India’s dumbed down institutions of higher education, Natasha Pratap’s maiden book Wanna Study in the US? 101 Tips To Get You There! is a boon. This easy-to-read volume written in simple English is a comprehensive compendium of accurate information and useful guidelines to students and professionals on ways and means of accessing American universities and institutions of higher education. “There is so much to be gained from a US education, that I continue to be grateful for it every day. Studying in the US is about pushing your boundaries: academically, intellectually, geographically and emotionally. The best thing is fearlessness and confidence I developed from my own experience. Choose to study in the US because it is better. Go because you will be the better for it,” writes Pratap an alumna of the blue chip Cambridge (UK), Stanford and Boston universities.

The merits of this chatty and unapologetically how-to book apart, a striking achievement is that she has persuaded Mukesh Ambani, chairman & managing director of the telecom, textile, petroleum and IT behemoth, Reliance Industries Ltd to write the foreword. “All these years, information on studying in the US was limited to a privileged class of Indian students, by virtue of their advantaged school, teacher and peer group environments. This book would democratise this advantage to a much wider cross section of Indian students,” says Ambani, himself a Stanford alumnus.

Though the information, data and procedural guidelines provided in this deliberately casually titled book is by no means novel, the fact that it has been collated, sorted and compiled into a one-point, well-laid out compendium is its unique selling proposition. “When friends asked me questions on their applications or essays I realised that what seemed obvious to me was not to others. Book stores in Mumbai had little information on the application procedure, and even prospectuses of colleges say little. The internet is too vast and some information is misleading. Since I had experienced the system first hand I decided to write this book,” says Pratap explaining her motivation to write this valuable guide.

Though the author claims to have completed this comprehensive volume in just seven weeks, this 302-page compendium is well organised into 11 main chapters each offering valuable nuggets of information and advice. The main chapters are: top 10 reasons to study in the US; 101 tips on the application process; scholarships from Indian sources; visa Q&A in consultation with the US Consulate, Mumbai; interviews with Stanford and Harvard university heads; application datelines; a special section for parents titled ‘heart to heart with indian parents’ among others.

Particularly useful is the chapter which includes the essays (SoPs) of Indian students which dazzled admission evaluators of blue-chip universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Columbia. The essays are discussed and dissected with the plus and minus points highlighted. “Many applicants tend to borrow SoPs from others and then modify it (sic). You may not be exposed to the kind of introspection and writing that applications to US universities demand. For many, the idea of writing itself is overwhelming and the nature of the questions makes them apprehensive. By including the essays of people who have gone through the process and written everything themselves, I want to illustrate that the task at hand may be different, but is not incredibly difficult,” explains the author, no mean correspondent herself who has written for publications such as The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Economic Times, The Times of India, The Indian Express, Mid-day, Verve, Man’s World and Elle.

The overwhelmingly major preoccupation of Indian students aspiring to education abroad – scholarships and bursaries – is also addressed. There seems little awareness that the natural instinct of institutions of higher education in the industrialised nations is to levy higher tuition fees on foreign students than payable by natives. Nevertheless there is widespread belief that scholarships are available in plenty. Wanna Study provides a list of trusts and foundation which offer (usually grudging) scholarships and bursaries to merit students.

Though a useful guide to the growing number of students driven to foreign universities by the abysmal and declining Indian institutions of higher education being relentlessly dumbed down by politicians and educrats, the publication and reportedly enthusiastic reception to Wanna Study is a wake-up call to Indian academia. That a rising number of Indian students are ready to pay relatively huge tuition and residential costs abroad and endure the rigours of incrementally humiliating visa and admission processes is a severe indictment of India’s higher education system. Quite evidently Indian educationists and academics need to get their act together and canalise the huge annual outflow of hard currencies into their own cash-starved institutions. But this requires the practice rather than mere preaching of excellence in Indian academia.

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Canadians: $20,000 Kitchen Makeover can be yours!!!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Dr. Oetker. All opinions are 100% mine.

How would you like to win a $20,000 Kitchen Makeover??? Imagine what all you could add to jazz up your kitchen with $20,000. It is easy to enter this contest, there is not entry fees or forms to fill in. All you have to do is to pick up a PIN from specially marked packages of Cass Di Mama Pizza and enter it in the website. Lo you will be automatically entered into the Dr. Oetker Kitchen Makeover Contest, the best thing about the contest is that there is no limit to the number of PINs you could enter. The more you enter the higher your chances of winning are.

Don't worry if you don't win the $20,000 grand prize you could walk away with one of the eight second prizes which include Whirlpool appliances: a fridge/ freezer, freestanding electric range, dishwasher and microwave. Then there are 2,000 consolation prizes which is a Cass di Mama Pizza or a pizza cutter. Like all other good things this contest too has some limitations. The first is that it ends on January 4, 2010. Secondly it is open only to Canadians.

While entering the contest it would be a great idea to become a member of Savoury Moments. The membership will entitle you a periodical newsletter full of fun information, more contests, tips and great savings.

Personally speaking the first thing I'd do with the $20,000 kitchen makeover would be to install fancy new counter tops, appliances and of course a large new refrigerator. This would give my kitchen a new look and also help me cook faster and better.

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Movie Review: Mandinga

Slavery, Sexploitation and Incest

I would never have come across this flic if not for youtube's new movie channel. This a movie about the slavery era of United States of America, when being a white man was the most privileged status one could aspire for. The movie starts off with the arrival of the sister-in-law of a plantation owner from England. The guest's sister had died mysteriously and she pretty much comes to take her place in the plantation. The plantation owner as like every other white man lusts after the female slaves, though black and considered beneath animals.

One such slave girl is the virgin daughter of the chief of Mandinga tribe. A group of hardy, strong and supposedly exotic black people. She is raped by the plantation owner and predictably becomes pregnant and delivers a baby. The infant is hidden away by the other slaves who fear that the owner might kill it. Despite a long winded search the owner is unable to find the baby.

Meanwhile the white woman is lusting after slave men to satisfy her carnal cravings. A few years pass and the only son of plantation owner, Clarence, returns from England after completing his education. The white woman immediately latches on to him and starts a torrid affair with him. Clarence while at the market meets the daughter of the pastor and promptly falls in love with her and decides to get married. A fact detested by his aunt and paramour, who is awaiting for revenge.

The newly wedded bride gets pregnant and delivers a bonny baby boy but the infant is black and not white. This confounds everyone and they all decide that she has indeed cheated on her husband and hence a black child was born. Clarence returns and what takes place forms the crux of the story. If you can digest watching the gory sex scenes and sights of a woman forcing herself on a imprisoned man you will get to the part when the plot is revealed.

The movie is one of the several C grade flics churned out from Hollywood and clearly exposes the desire of white people to show off their superiority. Even the slave girl who is raped is supposed to be the daughter of a chief, a princess in short. Why? an ordinary slave girl couldn't have gotten pregnant from the rapacious owners??? Or is the director attempting to show that even when slaves were raped their social class was considered???

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Affordable Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico

One of the biggest obsessions, especially of women, in America is to look young, beautiful/ sexy and desirable for as long as one lives. There is nothing wrong with the desire to look good and feel beautiful. In fact this entire culture of wanting to look young and beautiful has spawned a whole new industry in the healthcare field: surgical weight loss and body enhancing programs. The exorbitant cost of these surgeries have kept people away from them. There is hope now with clinics in Mexico offering low cost of lap band surgery.

This is a great opportunity for those wanting to lose weight but who don't have the time to exercise or the inclination to diet. The cost of a lap band surgery in Mexico is now affordable and easily accessible. In the US it costs around $14,000-25,000 for a lapband surgery. The same procedure would cost less than half the price in Mexico and other countries. Surgery prices start from $5,000-$7,000 and this is all inclusive.

I would say this is a great opportunity with several benefits. You could travel to Mexico, get a surgery done and with the money saved you could take a relaxing holiday and come back home feeling completely rejuvenated. That would be a great holiday gift for yourself wouldn't it?