Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

I'd like to use this opportuity to reflect on the significance of the beginning of a new year. What does the new year mean? Is it just an opportunity for people to let down their hair and party all night, get drunk, hang out with friends. Or is there something more to the beginning of a new year.

Personally speaking I come from a totally different culture where a New Year doesn't begin on January 1st, rather our new year is on the first new moon day after the Spring Equinox. This day is known as Ugadi and we celebrate it by eating a neem flower with brown sugar with a promise that we will accept both bitter and sweet experiences in the coming year equally. This is quite significant to me because there is some kind of meaning to the beginning of a year.

I still don't understand the main significance of January 1st apart from the fact that it is the beginning of a year. Of course some people make resolutions and try to keep them up in the coming year, but most of us generally party hard, drink and forget all about the day once we are back at work the next day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nature Reigns! But.....

Public parks in Texas are generally vast sprawling locations with good tree cover, walking trails, lake, etc. These are havens for several species of wildlife such as snakes, hare/ rabbits, bob cats, etc. But these havens are being destroyed slowly by a species of bugs... litterbugs... this species is very intelligent, and aware but some members just don't seem to care and spread their litter everywhere irrespective of whether it is a tranquil park or a freshwater stream. The pictures below explain everything.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Another Year Coming to an end....

It is that time of the year again when Americans exchange gifts, take holidays, meet with their extended families, etc. It is the end of the year holiday season... formerly known as Christmas season. Anyway the point of this blogpost is to say that another year has gone by and there has been few changes in the situation of the world and in my life. I still go to school and work weekends. I switched careers early this year.

One of the highlights of this year was that finally I was able to visit India and spend some quality time with my parents and sister's family. That apart life has been pretty much the same throughout.

The bone chilling cold season has started in DFW area and everyone is now attired in thick jackets or sweaters.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Smelly Problems :)

This afternoon I was listening to the radio and on PRI (Public Radio International) I heard this story about Brussels' subway. As I heard the story I smiled and remembered the days when I was traveling in North India with my NRI friend. I had never left India at that point in time so I was not used to the so called "better quality of life" that is accessible in first world or developed nations. My friend, (if he reads he will understand, others need not know his name) continuously complained about the pungent odor of human excreta while walking around narrow lanes of Delhi's famous Connaught place aka Indira Chowk aka Indira Chowk. All the time we were in Delhi (about 24 hrs) he glorified London, and Singapore and said that there was no foul smells in and around roads, railway stations were clean and odor free and et al. At that point in time I just agreed because I had not stepped out of India and there was indeed an overpowering odor in some places we walked around.

This afternoon I listened to this program titled "A smelly problem in Brussels' subway" I remembered my dear friend's complaints about India and lack of civic sense of our people. Well it seems like even westerner's of first world nations are no better. The video below accompanied the article online and it gives a sense of the problem faced by the establishment in Brussels.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

When More is actually less!!!

Yesterday me and some of my friends decided that we'd celebrate the end of this semester by going out for lunch and also treat our professor who has been so nice to us. We decided to head out this Thai place in Allen, TX. The ambiance was great, food was good, and the service was comfortable also. There was one catch with the place though, the restaurant levied an auto-gratuity of 18% on groups of 5 and over. What this means is that whether one likes it or not the restaurant will charge you 18% over and above your check amount. It is like deciding the tip amount for you, even if the service were shoddy and you didn't enjoy the meal you will end up forking out an extra 18%. I was completely surprised to see this concept of auto-gratuity.

I have heard of businesses providing a discount when there is a large order. Because of the volume of business they offer a small discount so the consumer feels better, but this is completely opposite, the more business you give the more you pay. I guess this can happen only in a capitalist economy driven by businesses, such as the US. It is possible for the restaurant owners to pay less for its wait staff because they will charge the customers extra if they come in groups... even a family of five will be slapped with an 18% auto-gratuity...

I think this is an unethical practice.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Foggy Morning Drive

Winter has set in... the evidence is this picture shot while driving to college couple of days ago. The visibility was pretty low but everyone was still driving at 50-60 miles per hour. Anyway that is life in America, fast and furious.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lake Views in Plano

Plano city has a few small lakes of its own. Though the city gets its water supply from Lavon Dam located in Wylie, Plano is proud of its lakes and water bodies. The city protects these natural water resources pretty well. Every water body is pretty much stocked with fish, has a trail around, and is located inside a green belt area or park. Here are some pictures of a lake in Bob Woodruff Park, Plano.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Frisco City Hall Art Displays

One unique feature of Frisco, TX is the city's patronage of visual arts. The Texas Sculpture Garden is a unique example of how businesses in the city have contributed to create an open air museum of art and sculpture. I had been to the Frisco city hall recently and was impressed by the many sculptures on display in the grounds of the city hall. Here are some pictures of the sculptures I saw out there.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fall Colors in Plano, Texas

One of the biggest national natural events in the US is the occurrence of fall colors. Almost ever state in continental US has its share of fall festivals to celebrate the change of season as evidenced by the changes in colors of leaves. Trees, plants and shrubs change the color of their leaves in preparation for a cold icy winter. This change from Green to red to yellow to brown and finally falling is a phenomenon worth watching out for. Aspen, Colorado is known for one of the best places to view fall colors. When I first came here people said that there is no fall color in Texas, but in the past three years I have been here I have seen fall foliage. Here are some pictures of what I saw recently along the road.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bar Breast Examination by a Quack!!!

It is interesting the wide array of things people get convicted for. This man who became a woman is still obsessed with the female anatomy. I bet he is wondering how the natural ones feel like as apposed to his/ her artificial ones. So he figured out that posing as a plastic surgeon would get him access to female bodies and it did... but only for a short time. Now he/ she will be put away for a long time and can wonder about the female anatomy behind locked doors at leisure.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Road Views - Mobile Pictures

I am of the opinion that for the most part we spend our life on the road. We go to work, run errands, visit friends, check on family, go to movies, etc and every time we step out of our home we can be certain of hitting the road. How many of us actually look at the sights around the road that we commute by? Most of us just drive past without bothering to look left or right. Well I simply can't do that and here I am with some of the vistas of the road in Plano, Texas. I captured these pictures as I drove, or walked in and around Plano, and surrounding areas of Dallas Metroplex.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sights of DFW Metro area

Sometimes as I drive around I just turn around and click a picture from my mobile phone. These pictures are not great in terms of quality, technicality or any such aspect. It is just hard cold truth of what I see... I shoot images such as these not to impress anyone, but just to document what I see as I drive around the city running errands and leading my daily life.

I have traveled 7 out of 50 states in the US and I must say that the best roads are in Texas. Though there is not much traffic like in East Coast or West Coast of the US, the roads here are something one needs to marvel at. It is amazing how the roads have been built and continue to be created. The above picture is of President George Bush Turnpike, a toll road on which one can see cars whizzing past at 70+ miles per hour. There are Multiple bridges built at many levels to separate traffic into different directions, exits, and entries. As you can see there are six different roads, each with at least three lanes in this picture.

Because Texas is still a sparsely populated state it is still possible to view an sunrise as we drive to work early in the morning.

Friday, November 12, 2010

An Amazing Film

I found this movie on Youtube about a cougar trying to hunt a bear cub and how survival instincts work in the animal kingdom. It is indeed one of the best short films I have seen.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Photography on the Move!!!

Earlier I had talked about how one can use modern technology to preserve their fondest memories on canvas. Well this time I would like to talk about my little but powerful mobile phone camera. I have one of the most basic phones the LG sliding phone. It is great instrument to talk, communicate and have some fun with. The camera that I had hitherto ignored is a really cool gadget, as I discover now. I shot some images recently as I meandered my way around doing my daily activities, going to school (college)... working..

Monday, November 08, 2010

Capturing and Preserving Memories!!!

This post brought to you by All opinions are 100% mine.

Human life is nothing but a bunch of memories, some good and some not-so. It is up to us how we preserve the good memories and keep remembering them often to get motivated and move on in life. Remember the first time you won something, the pride of achievement in your face is well worth capturing. The time when you got married, when your child was born, when your child took its first steps, etc. These are the moments we wish to preserve for lifetime. photos {to} art

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

Today is Kannada Rajyotsava

Wallpaper by

Happy Kannada Rajyotsava 2010

The day our great state was formed into its modern entity in 1956. The birth of a new political entity and the proud member of the Union of India. Two years ago I started the only Kannada Radio Show on this day but of course since then the station itself closed down and there is no Kannada show in the DFW Metro area now. Every other Indian language is being represented in the currently existing South-Asian radio station. Anyway that is not the point of this post. I just wanted to wish all Kannadigas worldwide on this grand occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cards to Project a Positive Business Image

Since I moved to the United States about 3 years ago I have learned a lot about this country and the way the economy functions here. There is a huge emphasis on business and entrepreneurship and everyone wants to have their own business. This is specially so in the state I live in, Texas and Dallas area is acclaimed as one of the most small-business-friendly areas in the country.

When you are in business projecting a positive image about the entrepreneur and the enterprise is very important. There are many ways to do it. The simplest way perhaps is by having a well designed business card. I recently came across an online store that sells ultra-creative customized business cards. Their rationale is pretty straightforward, they help the business owner i.e., you design the business card by enabling you with the right tools.

For example their computer business cards features several creative templates. IT professionals have the opportunity to choose from the wide range of smart and stylish templates that illustrate the wonders of modern technology. These cards give an opportunity to the professional business owner to demonstrate their expertise in the way they wish to project themselves, serious, tech-savvy, humorous, etc.

I believe if a business card is creative potential clients keep it in front of them and when they need IT services, you will be the first person on their mind. So get your business cards and get ahead in your business.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A week after Diwali contests...

I hope the new people that came to my blog to participate in the contest are revisiting. There is really no way to tell, that is one of the beauties of the internet. But this is soon coming to an end if one of the radio interviews I listened to this evening is true. According to the radio program I heard there are companies out there that are building lists and data to track down individuals. If you thought your anonymity was safe on the internet think again. There are firms this like this company, I don't recall the name, who will mine your data and sell it to individuals/ businesses who are looking for your demographic.

Next time I use the internet to do anything I will think a hundred times...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thank You Readers!!!

If not for all your support and encouragement and enthusiastic response this American Express Diwali Gift Card Campaign would not have been such a grand success with over 25 people writing in response to the quizzes. I would like to thank each and every one of you for visiting my blog and leaving comments or sending me e-mails in response to the contest. Hopefully American Express and their publicists will be so happy with y'all that they will decide to run a campaign on this blog whenever they launch a new gift card, be it for Diwali or for Christmas or for Valentine's day. At that time I will be back eliciting your response to the contests.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Vijaya Dashami to All

Vijaya Dashami marks the end of the Dushera/ Dasara festival in the Hindu/ Indian Calendar. This relevance of this festival is obvious by the name, Vijaya meaning "Victory" and Dashami meaning "tenth day". This is the day when the war between god and demons were finished with the victory to the God. In the history of Hinduism there have been quite a few of these wars and the most significant are still remembered as festivals and celebratory days of the good forces.

On Vijaya Dashami we celebrate the victory of:
1. Lord Ram over Ravana
2. Goddess Durga over Mahishasura
3. End of Pandavas Exile.
There are many more reasons but I'd limit myself to these three. Read up on Wikipedia if you'd like to know more.

Contest Time
There are two more American Express Diwali Gift Cards on the table. I will announce the final winners on Monday afternoon.

This contest is real simple. All you need to do is to tell me how you celebrate festivals of any kind and what makes you look forward to them. You can tell me about any festival not necessarily Vijaya Dashami or Diwali.

Happy Shopping to the winners who are getting their gift cards.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Season of Gifts, Joy and Love

First of all I must say a big thank you to all my blog readers and occasional visitors for the overwhelming response to my first contest. The first contest had one winner chosen via a random draw of lots. And the winner is Ms. Sudha Maheswari from California.

I am touched by your response and I have decided to increase the number gifts. Today's post will carry two $100 American Express Diwali Gift Cards which will be given away to lucky winners. So today and tomorrow there will be two lucky people who will win the gift card. If you respond to the contest and not win today also, don't worry the final contest which will have two more winners will be on Saturday, October 16, 2010.

Today I am going to talk a little about my fond Diwali memories. I was born and grew up in Bengaluru, the IT city of India. Most of my holidays would be spent in my grandparents home at Hosur, a small industrial town about an hours drive away. Diwali meant all of us 20 cousins, and an equal number of uncles & aunts getting together in the sprawling home of our grandparents. Those were days of fun all of us boys would get together and head to the hills at the outskirts of the town and spend our day climbing rocks, roaming in the woods. We would return home promptly at meal times.

Diwali celebrated with the entire family getting together was always fun and joy. More fun was getting the numerous gifts from all uncles, aunts, and my grand parents, clothes, pens, candy, and sometimes cold hard cash also. Now all of us cousins are spread out across the world and rarely meet in person. It is only memories that we carry and of course the all pervasive linkage through the world wide web. It is through online greeting cards and gift cards we keep in touch in this wireless world.

Today's contest
I think it has been enough of my reminiscing, let me talk about how you can get a $100 American Express Diwali Gift card today. It is quite simple. Leave a comment on this post, and mention your fondest memory of receiving a gift. If it is a Diwali Gift it would be appropriate for the occasion, but if it isn't you can still share it and win the $100 gift card. Once again based on the number of responses winners will be chosen by a draw of lots and all comments posted before 2pm CST on saturday October 16, 2010 will be eligible for the drawing.

This offer is exclusive for residents of United States. If there are more than one correct answers, winner will be chosen by draw of lots.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Spirit of Diwali!!!

The festival of lights is coming up and I am excited about celebrating it with my friends... I don't have much of a family here but hey... when you are in a foreign land every good friend becomes your family.

Before I forget let me thank all those of you who responded to the contest yesterday. I am totally floored by the enthusiastic response I received by both Indians, Americans and Indian-Americans. I will be announcing the first winner of the American Express Diwali Gift card on Thursday October 14, 2010. There is one more day to enter that contest so let your friends and contacts know about this fantastic give away. In case you are not the lucky winner of the first contest don't despair. There are two more opportunities to win on Thursday (October 14, 2010) and Saturday (October 16, 2010) I will be running contests and these will have two winners each.

For now there is still chance to be a winner just enter the contest by visiting my previous post titled "An Exclusive Diwali Gift...".

Last but not the least remember good things are always enjoyed best when shared with loved ones. So share this contest with your family and friends and let them have a go at winning these awesome gift cards from American Express and Discover the World.

Monday, October 11, 2010

An Exclusive Diwali 2010 gift for you!!!

Like I said in my earlier post Dasara/ Dushera, and Diwali are two of the major festivals celebrated by over a fifth of the world's population. Diwali is especially relevant to all Hindus/ Indians across the world. The festival has gained immense popularity and official recognition in several countries with a significant Indian population. In 2003 White House celebrated the Festival of Lights and the US congress accorded official in 2007. Now with over 2.5 million Indians living in America Diwali is one of the major celebrations in most major cities in the country.

Philosophically Diwali is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and love over hatred. The best way to celebrate this is by getting together with family, and friends. In America families get together for Thanks giving, in India Diwali is one of the major festivals when extended families get together.

Diwali is celebration of life, family, community, and relationships. This is the season of giving, to loved ones, family, friends, business associates, etc. In India large corporations wait for this season to launch new products so people will be motivated to buy. This trend has now extended into America with American Express pioneering the effort. The global services company has launched a new gift card designed for Diwali celebrations. I would say this is a great way to express your love to family, friends and associates who are celebrating this festival.

The American Express Diwali gift cards are available in numerous denominations of $25, $50, $100 and $200 and are available for a limited time. Now here is the chance of giving this card instead of cash along with the sweets. Cash is old fashioned, the American Express Diwali themed gift cards are the trend of 2011, but available in 2010.

Now here is your chance of winning a $100 Diwali Gift Card, right here in my blog. American Express has graciously agreed to let five readers of this blog receive $100 Diwali gift cards. There is a little catch though, you need to give the right answer to the question below: You could either post it as a comment in response to this blog or email me directly with your answer. If you are the winner you will receive an exclusively designed $100 Diwali Gift Card from American Express. That will add another $100 to your shopping budget this festival season.... Hurry, the last date to respond to this contest is October 14, 2010.

Diwali Quiz Question
The third day of Diwali is specially sacred because....
a. Lakshmi the goddess of wealth is worshipped
b. Lord Vishnu rid the world of Evil by killing Narakasura
c. Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya from 14 years of exile

Choose the right answer and like I said either email me the answer or post it as a comment here.

This offer is exclusive for residents of United States. If there are more than one correct answers, winner will be chosen by draw of lots.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Dasara/ Dusshera is here...

The festival of dolls or Dasara/ Dusshera has started since couple of days. The festivities are taking place in some homes in India who still remain strong in roots and have not sold out to the modernization that has swept the Subcontinent since the opening up of markets in 1991. There are a wide array of ways people celebrate this 10 day festival which culminates in the Vijaya Dashami, the day when Goddess Durga vanquished Mahishasura, the evil demon who was terrorizing the people of the world.

When I was a kid growing up in un-liberalized India, these 10 days were marked by festivities at home. Dolls of all kinds would be kept on display and kids from neighborhood would visit homes to look at the dolls and enjoy some snacks. But now kids are busy with their television programs, computers, video games, and last but not the least studies, so there is no time for visiting neighbors. Parents are busy working in their jobs trying to achieve their performance targets and getting promotions so they don't seem to have any time for festivals and ceremonies.

The one way everyone definitely celebrates this major festival in India is by sending greeting cards, and gifts to their loved ones. This is spurred on by large corporations that have stepped up and introduced special products for this season and I guess now it is the businesses that will make sure that people don't forget the festival seasons.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Fall Season Brings Cheer!!!

It is usually said that spring season brings cheer with new sprouts, blossoms and leaves, but for someone living in Dallas area the only periods to cheer are the transition times between summer and fall and winter and spring. Peak summer from May to September is searing hot and not conducive for outdoor activities during the day and sun sets at 9 pm in the night. Winter is the other extreme it is too cold to get out of the house. So that leaves us the four months that are the transition times between these extremes. Which is right now... great weather for outdoor activities and fun. All sports leagues are full now and every park, trail, and outdoor space will be packed with people trying to get their share of outdoor life.

Unfortunately for people like me students who are full time in school and have a weekend job, there is no respite. Couple of years down the road maybe we will get some time off during these pleasant period, but for now it is books, labs, classes and of course work.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Becoming Callous and totally insulated....

I don't know whether it is the busy schedule of fulltime school and work and life in general or whether it is me. Of late, since earlier this year I have noticed that I have been forgetting about everything that used to matter to me before. Since I returned from India I have pretty much forgotten every major national event that relates to India. I remember these things only after they happen and seems like I am slowly but surely losing my intimate contact with everything Indian. I forgot Ganesha Festival, Raksha Bandhan, Upakarma, and even Janmashtami. Two days ago it was the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi aka Mahatma, the father of our nation and I am remembering this day today. I wonder in a few years if I would become one of the hundreds of thousands of Indians who settle down in America and promptly forget their roots. It would be ironical if it were to ever come to that.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Heartening News from India

I have been following the Ayodhya dispute since it hit the national headlines in the 1980s. It is good to see some sort of a verdict from the courts on the issue now, finally. The mob had its say and did what it had to do, that was an angry, passionate, mob and the repercussions were not good for the entire country. But now after several years people have moved on, and there are other priorities in front of the nation's youth now. This is precisely the reason the courts have been able to deliver a reasonably fair judgment.

I am pretty sure the secular intelligentsia, media celebrities, and politicians are highly disappointed with the judgment. I am pretty sure now people of India are aware of the games the secular people play. That is why there has been no riots and trouble after the judgment.

Personally speaking I am happy with the judgment. The courts have responded to the sentiments of the hither-to beaten down majority of India. They have upheld the sanctity of a holy space for Hindus even while showing token respect (or appeasement) to the Muslim Invader and his descendents who ruled India for several centuries. I hope this will continue and Hindus will gain more respect not only in India but across the world.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Customer service promises

The US is a highly capitalistic economy. Businesses in every sector have to compete for every dollar they earn. The customer is spoilt with choice and corporations try everything possible to lure them into the door.

I noticed this hoarding enroute to school and truly I'm wonderstruck by this kind of promises made by a hospital. On one side hospitals are trying to cut staff and increase profits and on the other they want to promise the moon to the consumer. This kind of advertising even before the healthcare facility has been built.

I wonder tomorrow when the hospital is complete how they will live upto this promise.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Promotional Calendars - Business Enhancement Tools

Businesses need to be constantly present in front of their customers, and prospects. One of the best ways to achieve this is to be part of something that the consumer will look at several times in a day or at least once every day. The best place to be is in the calendar, everyone looks at his/ her calendar to plan their days, weeks, and months ahead.

It is easy to be part of the calendar, just get your business to make promotional calendars well before the new year starts and distribute it among your established clientele and prospects. Your promotion starts from there, especially if you are the first person to give the calendar or if your promotional calendar looks attractive and has many colorful pictures, meaningful quotes or things like that.

Small businesses tend to think that creating promotional calendars is an expensive affair and they would rather not do it. I would say that the money invested in promotional items such as calendars will yield benefits at a much higher rate than any other forms of advertising. In this case you are aware of who has the calendars and you can be sure that they remember you every time they look up some date.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Back to regular blogging... I hope

My blogging has been sporadic and irregular during the past couple of months. Work, school, and other pressures have kept me away from posting new and interesting incidents, pictures, news items and general musings and thoughts here.

Anyway I think I am kinda reaching an equilibrium with my studies and work and arriving at a balance. Once this is achieved seamlessly I can continue blogging as before and posting stuff that would be interesting for people who visit here.

Hosting Your Website With a Reseller!!!

Website design, development, hosting, and search engine optimization have all become the keywords of a new breed of entrepreneurs who are trying to cash in on the viability of internet as a platform for doing business. While it is largely true that it is quite impossible for a business to succeed without a strong online presence, entrepreneurs would be better served if they are careful about where they are hosting their websites.

There are several models of website hosting service providers. There is the do-it-yourself model where the service providers just give you a username and password and you do the rest. Then there is the full service model where the service provider will register your domain, design the website and host it on his server. Often these full service models are operated by entrepreneurs who take advantage of reseller hosting.

While reseller hosting doesn't change the way you operate your business online or offline, it does matter in a variety of different ways. For example, how much of live time does your service provider offer. How quickly will their servers come back up if it goes down? How much bandwidth do they offer? How well optimized is the server for the web? The best way to decide which service provider is best suited for your need is to read user reviews and ratings. The greater number of positive reviews and five star ratings a service provider has the better it is for you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Welcoming Visitors to Texas

This is the first tourist information center one finds while entering Texas from Mexico through the Laredo border. The building is pretty attractive with nice water features and open spaces within its premises. Ample parking enables people to park and take a breather before entering the busy freeway.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

10 non-blogging days

It has been long since I blogged or even opened up this platform. School, and work have been quite hectic and I am still not update with school. It has been quite eventful so I couldn't be manage the time to blog. How did I manage the time now? Well this is the time when I am half asleep just awake from deep slumber and getting ready to go to school. So I thought I'd use this time effectively and post a short note here.

What has been happening over here? Well nothing much except that my rollerblading skills have improved thanks to the weekly skate meet up with some great people of Pegasus Flyers, Dallas. That has been the only physical activity I have indulged in. Everything else I do is pretty much done sitting on my backside. I hope to get more activity done, let us see if I can accomplish it....

Friday, September 03, 2010

Earn a teaching degree from a renowned university from the comforts of your home!

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

For people who have a job it is often impossible to attend regular college and earn a degree. Especially when a higher degree is essential for career advancement, it becomes highly challenging for individuals to decide on the future course of action. Thanks to the proliferation of high speed internet there is the possibility of earning most of the degrees online.

A case in point is the Masters in Teaching degree offered by the USC Rossier School of Education’s MAT@USC. The unique program provides aspiring teachers an opportunity to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from an elite research university without having to leave their present jobs or alter their schedules. According to the program information, classes are held online and are highly interactive. The program is an accelerated one which combines some field-based experiences and can be completed in as little as 12 months.

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If you haven't already heard about USC, then here is a small intro. The school has been around over 100 years and has been educating teachers since its inception. USC has been known as a research institution and its School of Education has been ranked #22 in the United States, and #9 among all private universities by US News and World Report.

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Some Blackberry Images

I have always been a big fan of small handy devices and integrated gadgets. If one device can incorporate everything that I'd need that is what I'd buy. Well the kind of gadget I have always dreamed of having is yet to be manufactured, but for now I am content using the Blackberry with internet connection. This phone has a pretty good camera which is obvious when you look at the images below. I shot these pictures at the Frontier Flight Museum sited alongside the Love Field Airport in Dallas. I liked the venue and there are somethings that I really feel that should be incorporated by all nations in the world to enhance their revenues and also provide a learning, fun locale for kids and elders alike.

Americans love to show off their nationalism and patriotic fervor. They put up their national flag, state flag, quotes like "God Bless America" etc pretty much everywhere. This kind of love for their country and pride in national symbols is very healthy and should be inculcated right from infancy in every nation across the world.

An example how exhibits are arranged in such a way that visitors learn about the actual aircraft and how they fly. Then there are these bouncy fun stuff which children would love to get into and play. These things make the museum experience memorable and children would look forward to visiting again and again.

The above image is an example how private businesses take advantage of the museum to promote their brands and support the local community. The museum runs mainly on grants and sponsorships like these and the businesses gain visibility and recall value in the minds of children who will grow up to become adults and employees, associates or customers of these businesses. This kind of attitude should be developed in the minds of Indian businessmen who are only keen on hoarding money for their dynasty and don't think of giving to the community.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fantastic Mobile Phone Service gets even better!!!

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

Mobile phone market in the US is getting more and more competitive. Consumers are getting spoilt by service providers with an array of services that is getting better every day. The latest offering comes from Boost Mobile. When I looked up the simplicity of having a mobile phone with Boost, I was impressed. There are pay as you go mobile phone plans that start from as little as 10 cents a minute/ talk and 10 cents a text, or you can get everything unlimited (including web) for just $50 a month. If you want a fancy handset like the Blackberry then it costs a mere $10 more per month.

I was particularly fascinated by Boost Mobile's flexible method of adding money to your account. The concept known as Reboost enables you to add funds either online, in-person or over phone. If you want to know more about how to Re-Boost your account just visit their website. You can also set up automatic payments from your credit/ debit card.

Mobile phones have become more than talking instruments. People use them to check their online profiles, facebook, twitter, email, text, etc. The possibilities are endless, but unlike many popular mobile phone service providers Boost Mobile enables affordable access to these services. I get to update my twitter account on the move at no extra data cost, all I have to pay is one small monthly payment.

There is no dearth of phones at Boost Mobile, almost all the popular models are available on easy payment options. Even the extremely popular Blackberry models are available on Boost Mobile.

Now if you were wondering about high cellphone bills, you can forget about it with Boost Mobile.

Visit my sponsor: Reboost

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The American Way: Lose Weight or Lose Job!

The single greatest obsession of almost everyone in the 300-million strong population of USA is looks, figure and youth. It is proved every four years when the presidential elections takes place, it is almost every time that the better looking candidate wins. Coming to the subject of this blog, I saw this news video on MSNBC about a waitress at Hooters, she became slightly heavier than the company's diktats and was asked to shape up or leave. That is America for you...

I wish they would bring about a similar set of rules in every profession.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations!

When I was back home in India living with parents, surrounded by hundreds of second and third cousins we would celebrate loads of festivals. Sometimes I would even joke with my mom that it seems like for a devout Hindu everyday is a unique festival. Mom would immediately reply "Yes, the gift of life and that too in the Karma Bhoomi, i.e., Bharat aka India is indeed cause enough to celebrate every day we live there." Perhaps that is why most Hindus in America including me are hardly aware of the exact dates of the many festivals that we would have celebrated if we were in our homeland. The festivals I have missed even remembering the dates in the past month include, Varamaha Lakshmi pooja, Upakarma, Raksha Bandhan, etc. It is the same story every year, when I realize I have missed a festival, I make a mental note and tell myself that I should not forget it the following year. But as it is said History Repeats.

This year luckily I have blindly signed up to be on the mailing list of several Hindu religious and Secular social organizations formed by people from India. Recently I got a mail from the Jagadguru Kripalu Yog about the Krishna Janmashtami celebrations they are organizing in Plano, TX for the benefit of all Hindus in the area. The celebrations are being held on August 29, 2010 (couple days before the actual festival because of weekend) at the Precious Beginning Montessori School, on Alma road in Plano, TX.

This is the day when Lord Krishna the most recent incarnation of the supreme Hindu god Vishnu. Lord Krishna is a highly revered by over a billion Hindus across the world. There are numerous western devotees of Lord Krishna who are members of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCon).

I will be working during the weekend else I would definitely go and participate in the event. Last year we had been to Houston to participate in the grand celebrations and brought back several great memories and enthusiasm. This year I guess I have to contend with working... For a few dollars more

Weekend Getaways are vital to well being!

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

One of the vital necessities for everyone in order to lead a good life is recreation and leisure. This can be achieved either through hobbies, travel, recreational sports and other activities. Personally speaking I feel recreational travel is the most important necessity. Though the economic downturn of the past two years has made it a little tougher to take as many breaks, I have still been able to manage few weekend getaways and one long holiday.

Talking about weekend getaways, I recently came across this huge promotion by Hampton Hotel, they are giving away a free weekend stay everyday. Yes, you have the opportunity to win a totally free weekend stay at any Hampton hotel. They are offering a fantastic offer titled: Hampton Chain of Friends Sweepstakes under which entrants have a unique chance to win a free weekend stay at any Hampton hotel in the country.

Enter the contest and get your own chance to win and take a break with your friends this fall and have a good time bonding and building your team of well wishers. Weekend getaways are short, intense and highly relaxing and this is a great time to bond with people who are going to be part of yoru life for a long long time. This king of opportunity doesn't last long go for it now.

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Visit my sponsor: Win a free Weekend Stay

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Milky white inflorescence - a visual delight

Here are two snapshots of a shrub in full bloom. I captured the images around White Rock Lake area in Dallas. Even in the early morning that I was there the weather was quite muggy and hot. During the day it becomes searing hot but even in this hostile conditions these wild flowers thrive. Once again nature proves that there can be beauty and lively glory amidst hostility.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Get affordable eye glasses at Zenni

In America everything related to health care is either atrociously expensive or available to a select few. This was the case with eyeglasses till Zenni Optical came along with their largest online showroom. One of the first things that Zenni revolutionized in the eyeglasses market is the pricing. By eliminating the middlemen Zenni began to offer affordable and good quality eyeglasses.

Their specialty area includes prescription eyeglasses. Many opticians check your eyes and tell you that you need corrective glasses but they advise you against ordering online. That is because they have their interests in mind and not yours, if you order at their preferred retailer than they will get the benefit of referrals. Now by ordering online you not only save money but also get the impeccable ZenniOptical quality.

It is not surprising that ZenniOptical has become the No. 1 online eyeglasses store. This has been possible because of their attention to detail and providing amazing quality in all the eyeglasses they make for their millions of clients.

Opticians are now trying to forcible prevent you from ordering online at Zenni by not providing you with your PD or Pupillary Distance. This is the distance between the pupils of your eyes, center to center, in mm. This is a vital bit of information needed by eyeglasses manufacturers to make the right glasses. By withholding this information opticians are trying to divert business away from online to their preferred stores.

I don't think this trend will last long because in the long run they will lose customers and earn bad reputation. While Zenni will become more popular as provider of high-quality eyeglasses at affordable prices.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Glorious Independence Day

Today my compatriots back home are celebrating my homeland's Independence day. A day when we emerged out of 1200 years of oppression, treachery, cruel exploitation of foreigners. I have been out of the country on this day since the past three years... here is hoping that next year I will be home to celebrate independence day. Of course Indians abroad celebrate this event more as a festival rather than remembering the sacrifices our founding fathers and mothers have made for our nation's independence.

Bharath Mata Ki Jai.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Earn a Masters Degree in Teaching Online

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

One of the most important aspects of modern life is a need for acquiring new skills and certifications. It is not possible for everyone to go back to school and acquire new degrees. Thankfully new technologies have enabled prospective students to learn online without having to step out of their home/ office. The biggest benefit of studying online in my opinion is flexibility. One doesn't have to go to school at a specific time to attend classes, it is possible to go through the lectures at your leisure.

I recently came across the program information of the prestigious USC Rossier School of Education. They are currently a Masters of Arts degree in teaching for those who are teachers and aspiring educators. The USC is a well renowned research university and certification from this school is recognized across the country.

Though online the program is highly interactive and combines a wide array of field-based experiences of students. The program is designed in such a way that you complete a Masters degree in just 12 months while most regular programs take nearly 2 years to complete. By studying at the USC you will become an integral part of the elite USC TRojan family.

The best motivator perhaps is their amazing tuition reimbursement and scholarship program. You can more information at MAT@USC Student blog where the insights of current and past students are detailed.

Visit my sponsor: Master of Arts in Teaching degree online from USC

Computer Surprises....

I received these astounding tidbits of information as an e-mail forward. I tried some of them and was surprised. These have not been explained or debugged thus far, despite several super-brains trying their best to do so...

An Indian found that nobody can create a FOLDER anywhere on the Computer which can be named as "CON". This is something funny and inexplicable? At Microsoft the whole Team, couldn't answer why this happened!

For those of you using Windows, do the following:
1.) Open an empty notepad file
2.) Type "Bush hid the facts" (without the quotes)
3.) Save it as whatever you want.
4.) Close it, and re-open it.
Noticed the weird bug?
No one can explain!

Again this is something funny and can't be explained?
At Microsoft the whole Team, including Bill Gates,
couldn't answer why this happened!
It was discovered by a Brazilian. Try it out yourself?
Open Microsoft Word and type
=rand (200, 99)
And then press ENTER
And see the

Did you know that a flight number from one of the planes that hit one
of the two WTC towers on 9/11 was Q33N. In Notepad / WordPad or MS
Word, type that flight number i.e. Q33N. Increase the font size to 72.
Change the font to Wingdings.
u will be amazed by the

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A tool to monitor who plagiarizes from your blog!!

One of the biggest drawbacks with the world wide web is the lack of copyright enforcement ability for individual users. Large corporations can spend the time and money to monitor their copyrighted material and prevent plagiarism. Individual bloggers find it very difficult to prevent unruly pranksters from making aBlog Copy. Now there is a website which will help you monitor your blog/ website, to see who comes from where and what they copy off of your blog.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

More Pictures of the Frontier Flight Museum

Each Exhibit has its own customized mount and surroundings to make it look attractive.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Frontiers of Flight Museum - Dallas, Texas

Last weekend I had an opportunity to visit the Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas. The museum is a treasure trove of information, exhibits, models and simulations. There are several different metal birds, right from 1920s and 30s, an era known as "Golden age of Flight". On display are award winning aircraft including the Culver Dart, Regulus II, Tiger Moth, Learjet 24D, and several others. The museum set inside a giant hanger in the precincts of the Dallas Love Field Airport is a visual delight of colorful planes. Recent models of fighter jets are also on display.

I was on duty so I couldn't really enjoy all the exhibits on display but I tried to capture as many of them as possible in my mobile phone. I was particularly impressed by the way the flights were kept on display within the hanger, some were parked on the ground while others were suspended from the roof as if they were in mid-flight performing aerobatics for the benefit for museum visitors.

Of course like all things American there is a marketing twist to the entire place. Apart from educating visitors the museum generates revenue through ticket sales ($3-8 depending on age), selling collectibles (made in china), books, toys, and souvenirs in the store. There is a children play area where kids can get into bounce houses resembling flight cockpits, air traffic control towers, etc. Of course there are private corporations that have sponsored the museum. This in my opinion is an expression of the corporation's promoter's love for their country and the pride they have about their people. I wish Indian corporations would get into sponsoring and creating such institutions in the country.