Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Day For the Year to end

Looking back on 2011 and forward to 2012
A day that comes once every year
Repeats once every 365 days
Returns every 12 months
Reminds us of a year gone by in 52 weeks
Was 2011 a year well spent
To learn new skills and talents
To earn new friends
and nurture old relationships
Was it a year squandered
On wasteful pursuits?
Damaging activities?
Burning bridges?
What was it for you?
A good year 2011
or a Bad year 2011
What will it be in 2012
A year of promising future
Or a year of challenges!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Countdown 2011 - Three days to go

In just three days, under 72 hrs we will be saying bye bye to another year. Most people are planning to celebrate the arrival of the new year by attending parties, midnight drinking binges, dancing the night away, etc. What is the big deal about New Year, I still don't understand. Except for changing calendars, what else happens on January 1? Government's don't change; fiscal policies remain the same; elections don't take place; nothing changes in the solar system or in the universe. The earth continues to revolve around the sun. Sometimes I think New Year is just another excuse for people to party and for corporations to sell stuff in the name of new year. Then there is the New Year resolutions, most people in America resolve to exercise more and lose weight in the next 12 months. Who gets to benefit most from this resolution? The people who make and stick to the resolution benefit the most, no doubt, but they are not the ones who derive maximum benefit. Gyms, health clubs, personal trainers, coaches, sports clubs, nutritional supplement manufacturers and sellers, etc are the one's who make the real money at this time of year. People who wish to lose weight sign up for memberships to all these places and buy products, services that they hope will help them lose weight and attain a beautiful body - high school slim - that is what they call. I don't know when humans will give up this frenzy of event-based lifestyles and live according to what they need and when they need.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Getting a Second Chance!!!

Once an individual takes to crime, especially murder, it is almost impossible for him/ her to lead a normal law abiding life again. Imagine an individual who has killed about 40 people and still getting a second chance at life? Wouldn't that be something shocking even to think of? Or would it be heartening to think of, saying that the individual is finally reformed after years in prison?

When I was at Bonham, TX recently I came across this story board i.e. the story of a Texas gunman neatly printed and framed, hanging outside one of the quaint downtown shops. The display has the City of Bonham emblazoned, so I am assuming that the city has put it up. The story in the board is self-explanatory for everyone, but I need to explain why I am blogging about it.

As I read it one thing became clear to me, despite the fact that there is so much importance given to life and people today in the US, it was not so in the past. This guy John W Hardin has been referred to as "The most dangerous gunman in Texas" but still his story supposedly endorsed by the city, hangs prominently in the city square. He killed so many people and then turned to religion and law in prison. This enabled him to enter the bar in Texas and become a lawyer and established a practice. It is a different matter that he couldn't stick to law and was killed by a sheriff later.

The point I am trying to make is that even after killing 40 people this guy was given a chance to lead a normal life. Would that be possible now? in any other country? Should it happen? What about the families of those killed by him? How did they feel when he started practicing law? I don't know the answers to these questions but these things continue to bother me...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Have a Messy Office? Enter to Win $1200

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Contest Factory for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Since the economic downturn started in 2008 I have heard lots of my friends saying that their job responsibilities have doubled and sometimes tripled because of lay offs and hiring freezes. As a result their office cubicles, desks are a mess, full of clutter, papers, objects, mail, etc.

I am sure lot of you will say that your office is not in any better shape. Well if your office space is really bad, dirty, or outright pathetic then here is an opportunity to win $1200 in prizes. All you have to do is to shoot a video of your cube/ office/ workspace and explain why you think it is horrible and why you deserve the prize and upload it on the Pimp My Cube Contest website.

That done now invite your friends, family, colleagues, and associates to log in vote for your video. You get points for everything you do, registering, voting, commenting, and inviting your friends etc. If your cube is selected by the Contest Factory judges based on the contest criteria including but not limited to the most votes, best/ worst video and the most compelling story etc, then you hit a jackpot.

The grand prize winner will receive a office update which will feature either a new high end computer system or new furniture (Desk, chair and decorations) or an snazzy entertainment package with high end stereo, espresso machine, etc.

Uploading your video is very simple you can use your phone to do that too. The more fun and witty the better the video will entertain and the higher the chance of winning.

Don't worry if you are afraid your video may not be the best. There is still an opportunity to win $200 gift card. One registered user will be chosen at random and awarded this prize at the end of contest period which runs from 12/5/11 to 1/31/12.

There is not much time enter the contest fast so you have lots of time to promote your video and get as many votes as possible.

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Good Bye 2011 - Welcome 2012

2011 is almost over and it seems like only yesterday when it was Christmas 2010. Another year comes to a finish, 12 months of economic upheavel in Europe, 52 weeks of bickering between Republicans and Democrats in the United States, 365 days before the next Presidential elections in which Obama is mostly likely to succeed, not because he has been a gerat president but because there is no other suitable alternative.
Wow.... I simply can't believe it another year has come to a close... I am older by a year so is everybody in the world. Did I achieve anything great this past year, well apart from gaining about 10 lbs cumulative weight, and completing 2 more semesters and getting closer to graduation, I don't think I did anything significant this year. In terms of physical activity this past year was a mess, I hope to make next year more productive and lose some of the excess food stocks that have gotten stored in various areas of my body.
I know I have promised myself that I would compete in a Triathlon next year. It is not going to be easy, I need to work hard to get there, especially in the area of running. I have to hit the gym or the trail to start running, cycling and swimming on a regular basis. Discipline is the key to achieving all this and that is something very difficult to achieve for people like me.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Confederate Hellcat: Motorcycle Inspired by The Mahabharata

Image Courtesy Wall Street Journal
It is rare that one comes across someone saying that they have been inspired by the Hindu Epic Mahabharata. Specially in the day when ridiculing everything that is connected to Hinduism, Hindu spirituality or Hindu Epics is a fashion. This morning I read an article in Wall Street Journal about a master motorcycle designer Ed Jacobs and was heartened to note that he derives his inspiration from "Arjuna the silver-bright and unconquerable charioteer (should have been warrior) in the Mahabharata" among others.

Ed Jacobs is the chief designer at Confederate Motorcycles a boutique that manufactures custom, aesthetically designed, two wheeled beauties. I read the entire article and was awe struck by the attention to detail that makes this motorcycle the beauty that it is. Confederate's X132 Hellcat is their latest offering which is priced at $45,000 is one beauty on two wheels that will make every bike lover go weak in their knees.

According to the article Ed Jacobs got his inspiration to design motorcycles after he visited India and rode the Enfield Bullet to the Himalayas. He decided to work and build beautiful motorcycles that are aesthetic, functional and unique. I am glad that at least this individual has acknowledged that he derived inspiration from the Hindu Epic Mahabharata.

I wonder how many Indian designers of any kind - be it motorcycle or software or car would even think of the Mahabharata as a source of inspiration and even if they did how many would acknowledge the fact. Because if they did, there is every likelihood that the Indian media would brand them "right wing Hindutva fascists."

In my next blog post on the same topic I will discuss how motorcycles made in India could get a more intimate feel by simply renaming the models. It goes around to make a statement that we are aware of our heritage and are rooted in our culture, which unfortunately I think India is fast loosing.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Exploring Rural America - 2: Bonham State Park

Green Spaces for Public Good

America is responsible for a whole lot of pollution including and not limited to consuming over 40% of the world's gasoline, emitting over 30% of the world's greenhouse gases, etc. I would add a positive statistic to this country i.e. this is one country where local environment is preserved very well. Most of the natural creeks, rivers, and culverts have been preserved, even though these come alive only during the rains. Then there are vast open spaces that have been designated as National and State Parks, Wildlife refuges, and other types of protected areas that are basically green spaces open to public and that also help enhance the environment.

I have been exploring America since the time I landed here, not just the glitz and glamor of cities and popular tourist destinations, but the interior lesser known rural and local attractions. My reaction to this is mostly that of surprise and admiration to the sustainable planning and development of communities. Recently I visited one of the state parks of Texas - Bonham State Park. Located close to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro area this is a vast green space with a 261 acre lake. The park is full of trees and the lake adds a beauty to the entire setting. Rustic old-style buildings house the administrative offices in the park that provides facilities for walking, hiking, mountain biking, swimming and aqua sports such as sailing, canoeing, kayaking, etc.

During summer months this park is usually full of visitors but now being winter and biting cold I was the only visitor in the park. Here are some pictures of the park for your viewing pleasure.

The Main entrance to Bonham State Park

Water Fowl enjoying their day at the lake without any visitors disturbance...

The deserted swimming area of the park - summer brings crowds of families to the park

The fishing pier which can also be a scenic look out...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Exploring Rural America: Bonham, TX - 1

When I was in India visiting America means going to the most popular sights i.e., the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Museum, the Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, etc. Reading about these globally renowned destinations I was under the impression that America doesn't have much to explore, it is just a commercial paradise. Now that I am living here I am slowly becoming aware of the vastness of the country and the richness in terms of natural heritage and also man-made creations of the land. Each state, and county has its own historical museums, nature parks, and recreation spaces for local citizens as well as travelers. Most visitors are locals but there are some people from far off/ different states and rarely from other countries.
Yesterday I visited one such place in North Texas area. It is a small city known as Bonham with a population of a little over 10,000. The city is very small and it is mostly a village, except for the fact that there are all the modern amenities such as super markets, ATM, a prison, large post office, court, etc. It is indeed amazing that for a population of 10,000 the government has invested in all these amenities. I wish other nations also followed suit so there would be no necessity for crowding the big cities.
Bonham's major attraction is the Bonham State Park and the Lake Bonham Recreation Area. Then there are couple of museums and that is pretty much it. Here are some pictures of Bonham City. I will be posting more information about the other attractions soon....

Sam Rayburn Library and Museum - I will write more about this shortly...

Mr. Bonham, the person after whom the city has been named. His statue occupies the main square of the city

The county Prison... of course the maintenance is pathetic with the economic down turn...
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Raising Children - A Poem

Raising a good kid

Everyone has an opinion about how to raise a child
Those who have had a few believes their method
Is the ideal and can't be bested

I don't have kids, haven't raised one
But definitely have an opinion
on how to raise good children!

It is futile to carry the child who can walk
or speak for the kid who can can talk
or impose your thoughts on the kid who can think

Don't build a wall of opinions around a child
Let him/ her see the world innocent eye
And form his/ her own opinions on the world

Set the child free both in body and spirit
Let them take flight from a solid foundation
composed of education, knowledge and truth

The child grows only when they are allowed to go
out to seek their fortunes and manage their ego.
They may trip and fall, get wounded and buruised...

It is as much necessary
As the sharp strokes of an awl
are needed for a rock to become a work of art!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

LG Doubleplay - the ultimate cellphone for talk, text, and data!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of LG DoublePlay™ for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Modern cellphone technology has taken communication and internet access to a new level. With these brand new cellphones it is possible to talk, text, browse the internet, manage bank accounts, update twitter and facebook status, within seconds. With the wide array of cellphones available in the market it is very difficult to arrive at which one would best suit our unique needs. Even though each one of us have varying needs there are few cellphones that can fulfill all of our unique needs and offer us more.

I recently came across the new LG DoublePlay™, a unique phone for people who prefer to multitask like me. Equipped with the Android™ 2.3 (Gingerbread) operating system, this phone empowers users like no other. Offering seven home screens and nine touch screen shortcuts this is one of the coolest phones I have come across. It is so cool that it offers a dual customizable touch screen : a 3.5-inch main display and 2.0-inch sub display. The cellphone lets you manage the screens independently or in tandem as per your wish.

I particularly love this phone because of its full slide-out QWERTY keyboard and Swype®. Thanks to these features I can still send 200 texts a day and my fingers wont feel tired. Like I said before this is one of the few true multitasking phones I have come across. You can browse the internet, check your email, send text messages, and update facebook at the same time. Moreover with its multiple text facility I can use the cloud text, and group text features to check my messages on my PC or tablet. These features make it much faster for me to manage communication with my team at work or with my friends outside.

I would say this is a great tool for social networking on the go. The phone would let me be connected 24/7 and I can update all the time. I don't have to use the cumbersome laptop every time I try to access the internet. This phone is available only for T-Mobile users and subscribers. So if you are into social networking and text be sure to check this out, if you don't you may get left behind.

As far as more cool factors the LG DoublePlay™ is packed with features. A 5-mp camera with LED flash, with a 720p HD video recorder.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

US Presidential Race 2012 getting crowded

Everyone is aware that America is going to elect a new president/ commander-in-chief in 2012. What most people don't know is that there 40 candidates in the fray to become the president. These people represent both the parties and come from varied backgrounds and have entered the fray for reasons of their own. I read about the primaries that are going to take place early next year in today's Wall Street Journal and was surprised to know that even in a two party democracy like America it is possible for so many candidates to be in the fray.

According to the news report there are 30 Republicans and 10 Democrats running to become the respective party's nominee for the presidential race that is going to take place next year. There is an engineer who is promoting alternative technology, then there is the war veteran who currently is a UPS pilot who wants to implement better benefits for servicemen and eradicate homeless. Then there is the home builder who wants to tour each of the 3,143 counties on a mobile home and campaign for his election.

Of course in the national focus are four Republican candidates Mitch Romney, Neut Gingrich, Rick Perry and Herman Cain. On the defending side there are no candidates on national focus except the incumbent Obama. I wonder how many of these 40 candidates will actually become nationally famous let alone become republican nominees. Time will answer the question, but for now New Hampshire primary voters have a truly wide choice in terms of the candidates.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Technology Security - A Vital Need For All

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Norton Small Business by Symantec for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

New Message-494Information Technology and Internet have come to be ranked among the basic human needs of this era. It is unthinkable for anyone to live in an advanced economy like America without depending on technology. With advancement in technology and ease of internet access comes the perils of data security compromise, identity theft, hacking, malicious attacks by viruses, worms, and other malware. In these circumstances it is vital that everybody has adequate protection in the form of a reliable antivirus software program.

It is specially relevant to small businesses who have begun to depend on technology more than ever before. The best way to protect your Small Business from the latest online threats is to have in place great antivirus program such as the Norton Small Business by Symantec. This program not only protects your computer from viruses but also checks your emails, chat and all the sites you visit. It neutralizes the threats even before they come close to you. If you are a small business owner and want to keep your business safe from attacks I would encourage to check out the latest offerings from Norton.

Internet security is paramount for everyone, specially for small business. Norton has a fine solution for protecting your computer against online attacks. The Norton Internet Security 2012 is the finest tool to protect your enterprise against malicious spyware, malware, viruses and other online threats. Norton acts as your digital army to fight against online dangers and boosts your PCs performance.

One of my favorite products from the Norton is the Norton 360 which is a complete suite of protection for your computer, data and internet. Launched this past September along with Norton Internet Security 2012 this suite has been ranked No. 1 in online protection. There are a number of features including identity protection, parental controls,  online backup and storage. That is not all, Norton 360 makes your computer run faster. It optimizes your disk space by fixing problems, discarding cookies, temp files and other things that bog your computer down. 

NortonLogo_white.jpgI would also be happy if you would like to share your profession and what Norton product fulfills your security needs. That would give an indicator to other readers of this blog what to expect and what kind of security to opt for. At the end of the day remember your businesses survival and profitability is dependent on the data and security of this data is more important than anything else.

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Sunday, December 04, 2011

Beading Designs

I am preparing for my final exams and of course what is the best way to take breaks. Create some new beading patterns which I might or might not implement in beads. I sure hope I will have the time and inclination to create them in beads/ seed beads during the winter break from school. For now here are the designs for evaluation by all my blog visitors and readers.

Fresh Brewed Coffee at the Office

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tassimo for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

NEW Tassimo Pro logo.jpg (2 documents, 2 total pages)There is nothing like having a good cup of coffee between meals at work. A freshly brewed cup of coffee invigorates and makes me more productive. This is the opinion several of my colleagues at work also share and it is not surprising to see everyone walking into the office with a large cup of coffee from one of the popular stores every morning. It is not like we don't have a coffee machine at work, but it simply doesn't provide us the freshly brewed coffee that we love to drink and enjoy.

I recently came across the Tassimo Professional brewer which delivers high quality coffee-house style drink right in the office. The machine affords the possiblity of being able to prepare a Cappuccino or even a Latte using real Gavelia espresso and real milk creamer. The machine offers a wide array of beverage possibilities which will satisfy everyone's taste and preference. Thanks to the Tassimo Pro it is possible to enjoy Gavelia, and Suchard coffees and Twinings tea at your office. All you have to do is to convince your manager to install it at work. If your manager is worried that great coffee like this will be prone to pilferage by unscrupulous employees tell him that the double bar codes on the Tassimo Pro T Discs prevent it from being used in home brewers.

The best thing about the Tassimo Pro is the ease and speed with which one can get his/ her favorite brew. The one touch operation and beverages take less than two minutes to make. The machine is so easy to maintain that there is a LCD display on which prep and cleaning instructions are shown. Anyone can use this machine to prepare fantastic beverages.

brewer straight on.jpg (2 documents, 2 total pages)Now that I have gotten your interest piqued about the Tassimo Professional coffee maker let me also tell you that they are offering a free demo. Yes! you can register for a Tassimo Professional free demo by visiting their website. I am real excited about the upcoming demo at our office and looking forward to trying the cappuccino and the tea. If you are interested in drinking world class coffee at work register for a free demo now.

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Friday, December 02, 2011

The Beauty in the Beast

The Beauty

Picture courtesy: Internet (Santa Rosa Lioness Club
She walks like a river
Swaying and swirling
Beautifying the world around
With her thunderous roaring laugh.

It is not a wonder she commands
respect and fear from one and all
Adored by humans, feared by animals
She reigns supreme in the jungles

The lioness that nurtures
The cubs, feeds the pride, and
Rules the Jungle
Is now in a state so Fragile

That hunters, and poachers
Bay for her blood and fur
while governments look on
and do nothing to protect her...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Learning about Country Singer Buck Owens

This morning while returning from the library I was listening to Fresh Air program being aired on National Public Radio. The program was about Buck Owens, a renowned country singer who was born in Sherman, Texas, but made his fortune in Bakersfield, California. I am not a big fan of country music but I do enjoy good songs when I hear one. The song that was being featured on the broadcast was one titled "There Goes My Love" and the lyrics simply impressed me. I decided to post the same here for all of you to enjoy:
There Goes My Love
There goes the girl I used to know
There goes the girl that I love so

There goes the arms that used to hold me tight
There goes the reason that I sigh
There goes the reason that I cry
There goes the lips I used to kiss goodnight
There goes my love

Read the full lyrics on All Lyrics

Saturday, November 26, 2011

America's Annual Shopping Frenzy Settles...

One thing I admire Americans for... their ability to amass... from household items to clothes to credit card debt to educational qualifications, pets, etc everything that can be hoarded they will do it. Both people as well as institutions - commercial and non-profit - have perfected the art of sales. If corporations offer deals and appeal to the consumers ego, non-profit groups dangle the carrot of self-actualization and make people part with their money.
Americans are in a shopping mood throughout the year as evidenced by the bustling malls that are always full of people buying stuff. The past few years this has been down due to the economic distress and job losses millions of Americans have faced. Otherwise it is business as usual in most shopping malls. The shopping reaches dizzying heights during the festival holiday season just after Halloween and continues until Christmas.
Since the economy has not turned around yet American corporations were impatient to rake in profits of the Thanksgiving shopping. So they decided to forget about the prayer and holy aspect of the holiday and just focus on the shopping aspect. The end result stores opened several hours earlier than before for the traditional black friday shopping. Of course there was some outcry but consumers nevertheless thronged to the stores looking for deals.
I wonder what it will be next year... maybe the stores will open a week in advance for shoppers of black friday. If that happens then consumerism would have successfully prevailed over tradition. I guess in the land of consumption and corporation few would rue this happening.
Now that the initial frenzy of holiday shopping has settled down we will have to wait and watch out to see how much money changed hands over the weekend and how much profit corporations raked in...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving... or is it??

Today is the national holiday of Thanksgiving in America. Today is the day when people travel hundreds of miles to get together with families and loved ones. It is a day when people thank the lord for giving them everything that they need and pray for more next year. Of course like all other national events everywhere in the world there is a legend or story associated with this holiday too, but that is not the point of this post. 

Ever since I landed in America I have wondered about this festival where hundreds of thousands of birds are killed to satiate the hunger of humans. So whenever I hear someone say "Happy Thanksgiving" my mind travels to the plight of the innocent Turkey which was raised, fed, and fattened only to be killed today or perhaps a few days ago so that it's carcass may be cleaned, processed and packaged to be sold in the big box retailers across the country. It is not such a "Happy Thanksgiving" for these hundreds of thousands of birds afterall. They lose everything they had including their life.

The simple justification I have heard from lots of people here is that: "Animals don't have a soul, so they are born to be killed and eaten by humans. That is how god created the world." Really! you want me to believe that? If that is true why is that when animals become even remotely dangerous to humans they are instantaneously killed or quarantines or sometimes whole speicies decimated? It is this insatiable human greed that has become a danger for the planet that has given us so much and continues to sustain our lives. Do we ever stop and say thanks to this planet?

I wonder when that will happen... or should I say that if it will ever happen?

Native American Beading Patterns

I wanted to take a break between studies for the upcoming exam on Monday, so I decided to get creative and here is the result. This is a pattern to make a beaded bracelet leaning toward the Native American style. Once my exams are over I will try to create it in beads and post some pictures. For now let me know if the designs are worth anything at all...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Possum Sighting in McKinney

North American Opossum with winter coat.
Image via Wikipedia
This evening there was a small incident of wildlife sighting in our apartment complex. I went to the apartment office to collect mail and as I stepped out of the door my eyes traveled upwards towards the entrance arch and there it was a large white and black coated animal. It looked like a huge rat but only difference was that it was bigger. The animal sat there frozen, motionless and for a moment I wondered if it was a decorative doll that the management of the apartment had placed for the recent Halloween festival. I stood still and watched it for sometime and sure enough it moved its head and stared at me. I retraced my steps and called the apartment staff and asked them if they had noticed anything outside their door.

One of the girls there looked me incredulously and stepped out with me and the moment her gaze fell on the strange looking creature a scream escaped her lips: "Oh! My God. It is a Possum." Then the frenzy of activity started, she called a colleague of hers who came, saw and went back to get her phone so she could take pictures of the creature.

As for me I was fascinated by this sighting. Having been in Texas for the past four years I hadn't seen any wildlife except dead armadillos, turtles, rabbits, and snakes during my drives in the countryside. This is the first instance when I came face to face with a Opossum or Possum. The animal looks like a huge rat with a mixed black and white coat. McKinney is indeed close to nature if these kind of critters can be seen in our apartment which is surrounded by retail stores and showrooms.
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cockroaches traumatise passengers on US flight

How would you like to be 30,000 ft above the ground, confined inside a box, with cockroaches for company? That is what happened to an American couple who traveled in the budget airline AirTran recently. Like all good consumers they promptly reported to the flight crew, who didn't take enough action to rid the plane of the arthropods. So like all good Americans they took pictures of the cockroaches and once they were safely on the ground they found an attorney and sued the airline for $100,000 damages for mental distress, negligence and failure to provide a pestfree environment.

I wonder how much this calim will be settled for. I have heard of millions of dollars claims being settled for a few hundred dollars. We will see what happens to this couple. Meanwhile I am sure Airtran cleaned up their act and of course their planes and perhaps a few cabin crew are back in the job market.

Read for more details: traumatise passengers on US flight

Friday, November 18, 2011

Catholic Church To Buy Famed Crystal Cathedral in California

Catholic Church To Buy Famed Crystal Cathedral

"Everything in this world is for sale, given the right price" goes the often heard saying. The truth of this saying can't be more appropriate anywhere else in the world but in the United States of America. In this capitalist economy if you aint making money and paying your bills and taxes you will be forced to declare bankruptacy and your property will be sold.

That is what happened to the congregation of the Famous Crystal Cathedral of California. I heard this newscast on the radio as I drove to work this evening and boy am I surprised. In a country which prides itself in saying "In God We Trust" and where millions of dollars poured in for a fake pastor who claimed that the world was going to end I wonder why nobody is opening up their purse strings to save this cathedral.

The congregation members of this church are outraged, the pastor says that the church is not a building... but isn't it true that when a place is sanctified by the pious prayers and good vibrations over several years the place becomes truly divine. Since this cathedral is being taken over by another caste (order as it is referred to here), I guess it is ok.

Business Takes Precedence Over Holiday Traditions!!!

Since the inception of the holiday tradition Thanks Giving has always been a time for families to get together and offer prayers to the Lord. Ever since I moved to the US I have noticed that people travel hundreds and sometimes even thousands of miles just to spend quality time with their families. Of course businesses have always used this holiday to sell more and there are discounts galore year after year. All the sales have always happened on the day after Thanks Giving, popularly known as Black Friday. Shoppers would get together with their families on Thanksgiving day, enjoy the Turkey dinner and prayers. Then on Friday early morning as early as 5 am head out to stores to shop. This has been the normal tradition in America till 2010.
This year is going to be different. Retailers have decided to open up their stores for black friday shopping on thursday itself. They are trying to entice shoppers to step outside their homes after dinner on Thanksgiving night and shop. This decision of the business owners and CEOs to open up stores on Thursday itself has angered both shoppers and store employees. Businesses seem to only be interested in money and nothing more, they don't care two hoots for tradition.
Hitherto I had believed that it was only the liberals, leftist and communists who didn't care for religion, tradition and heritage, but now it is becoming apparent that even hard core capitalist, right-wing conservative, businessmen also don't. I wonder if this is the way forward for the world or not.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

380-Green Belt Park, Denton

I have to commute about 55 minutes one way to work everyday. It is a long and boring drive during which I just put the car on cruise control and let it run at 60-70 mph depending on where I am on the road. There are couple of places which do offer some relief from the otherwise boring scenery. The first place is where Lewisville Lake intersects the highway and the second is where the 380-Green Belt is located. Wide, long bridges have been built at both the places so that only those who are really interested in getting into either area will pull over and the rest will just drive on. I stop by sometimes at the 380-Green Belt Park to spend a few minutes amidst old trees and nature.

If you are wondering what 380 stands for, it is the highway that I travel on and on which the park is located. It is also known as the University drive because the Texas Woman's University is located on this thoroughfare in the city of Denton. Of course this park is part of the Texas State Park System and as such it requires entry fees, which I don't have to pay because I bought a State Park Pass way back in May 2011. I am glad I did, now I can get into any state park by just waving my card and not bother about having to pay entry fees.

What I like about this green belt area is that the trees here are really old and tall. The place does look like a true green belt, unlike some others I have been to which looks more like a manicured golf course with grass all over and not a single tree. Here there are several thousand trees, and I'd not be surprised if I were to sight any wildlife. Here are some pictures for you to know what the park looks like.

Zenni - Offering affordable eyeglasses to all

America is the land of early adopters. Everything new is launched first here and people love change and things that make their lives better. Computers, vehicles, clothing, household items, appliances, etc are frequently changed not because the old ones are broken, but people want newer and better ones. The same applies to fashion accessories such as eye glasses - prescription or otherwise. People feel the need to change eyeglasses to match the trends or sometimes to get better quality frames, or because their prescription changed.

Eyeglasses can be expensive, specially when it is bought in a fancy store in the mall. In these days of economic hardship everyone can't afford to buy eyeglasses at these fancy stores. Identifying this need of the people Zenni came up with an innovative solution. They have merged technology with business acumen and are offering cost effective eyeglasses via the internet. Zenni uses the most modern materials, state-of-the-art manufacturing and marketing systems and offer their products direct to the customer. There are no middlemen to add margins to the price. The entire transaction takes place between the manufacturer and the consumer.

The result, an immensely happy customer base, and a nation of healthy-eyed, fashionable people. If you are looking for eyeglasses be it prescription or a fashion accessory or a protective aid then just visit Zenni's website and you will see their wide array of frames, and glasses at very affordable prices. Once a customer of Zenni, you will be their customer for ever.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A walk in the Wild

I went to the 380 Greenbelt park last week after work and walked a small part of the 10 mile trail that is part of the Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Lewisville trail system. This park and trail is one of the few places in DFW area where there is so much tree cover that sun light streaks through only at some places to illuminate the trail. Other places are quite dark during evenings and early morning. I was there at late afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk.

A Walk in the Wild
Looking for quiet and peace,
Seeking solitude and solace,
I venture out of urban space
Into the jungles and green space

Little did I know,
the wilderness is no longer the getaway place
for those who shun the corporate rat race
It has indeed become the competitive space

For all the naturalists, and eco-lobbyists
who solely live by creating tons and tons of drama
around the theme of environmental protection
have descended into the wilderness
To make it more constricted a space
than the narrow congested boulevards
Of Downtowns of American cities

Heaving a Sigh of sadness
I return home, which has less noise pollution
than the jungle where one hears
nothing but automobile sounds

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Work is Worship - A Peom

Work is worship

They say "Work is worship"
So give it your best
But when office is like a "War Ship"
Full of oppression and harassment
It is tough even for the best
to endure the trauma for long
It would probably be best
If "work" was separate from "worship"
Then everyone would be
happy and give their best shot
Both at work and at life...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Karnataka Rajyothsava

The Gandaberunda emblem in the Mysore Palace. ...Image via Wikipedia

November 1 is the day when my home state of Karnataka was born, i.e. formed by amalgamating all the Kannada speaking regions of India. Today I am in Dallas, Texas, United States and pretty much not in touch with the language of Karnataka. Back home in Bengaluru there will be official and unofficial celebrations galore but in the US it is hard to get to know of these events and harder to attend one. For myself I have tried to remember the language by watching a Kannada movie on Youtube.

Wishing all Kannadigas worldwide a very very Happy Karnataka Rajyotsava 2011.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Compassionate Biker

<a href='' target='_new' title='Calf Saved From Canal By Passing Motorcyclist'>Video: Calf Saved From Canal By Passing Motorcyclist</a>

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Diwali 2011

Diwali 2011Image by Jayesh Bheda via Flickr
Wishing all my readers, friends and family a very very happy Diwali 2011. May the year bring only light and no darkness in your life and if at all there is anything that is bothering you may the god bless you with enough joy that everything you touch becomes gold.

Diwali is the festival of joy, light, and the victory of good over evil. Every year it is one celebration that most Hindus don't miss. Now it has become so ubiquitous in India and the World at large that many non-Hindus have made it part of their culture to celebrate this festival of lights. The American Congress celebrates this festival as a official event. There are numerous Diwali parties that are happening across America in which several non-Indians, non-Hindus participate with full fervor.

Times of joy are to be shared and the happiness doubles for both the giver and the receiver. Let us promise ourselves that we will give out only joy to others from this day on. That would be the true spirit of Diwali 2011.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

It is the season of festivals

Fall and winter is somehow associated with festivals not only in India but elsewhere in the world too. For example Americans are bracing up for Halloween, later this month and Thanksgiving next month and then of course Christmas in December. What does all this mean? It just shows the similarity between the diverse cultures across the world. Halloween is celebrated as an event when children go trick or treating to various homes collecting candies. In India during Dasara or Navrathri kids visit homes to take a look at the display of dolls and receive home made snacks and treats. America being a industrialized society there is very little that people cook at home, it is mostly pre-packaged in large factories.

While in India we exchange gifts and get together as a family during Diwali and pray to the lord for a better and prosperous year, the same thing repeats in America on Thanksgiving day when individuals travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles to be with their families. Thanksgiving is synonymous with the black Friday sales that happen all over the country in which fantastic bargains are offered on all consumer products from clothes to computers. That is exactly what happens in India, there are sales galore everywhere.

Every business worth its name comes up with special commemoratory products during this season. Similarly American Express has come up with the Diwali Gift Cards to provide a festive flavor to gifting. These gift cards are specially designed to match the theme of Diwali and are available in various denominations.

You can enter a contest and win your own $50 Diwali gift card from American Express. All you need to do is to share your favorite Diwali memories on this blog. Leave a comment here and tell me what you think about Diwali and how many fond memories are associated with this festival. The entries will be placed in a draw of lots and five winners will be chosen on Sunday, October 23, 2011. Winners will receive $50 gift cards from American Express shortly thereafter.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Diwali is Approaching Fast....

Diwali celebrations in Coventry, United Kingdo...Image via WikipediaThis year Diwali is going to be on October 26, 2011, a little over a week from today. What have you planned for the festival? What about gifts you are going to give to your loved ones. I have always believed in giving the perfect gift - something that the recipient has always wanted. It is quite tough to be able to read someone's mind and give them the gift that is desired.

The closest one can get is giving an instrument that will enable your loved one to get what they desire. After all we want the best for our loved ones. Since last year I have started giving my family and close friends and of course the most avid readers of my blog the Diwali Gift Cards from American Express. These gift cards are so convenient they come in different values and can be used any where online or offline. As part of the festival offer we are giving away five $50 gift cards to my blog readers.

All you need to do is leave a comment in response to this blogpost elaborating your plans for this Diwali and what special things you plan to do for your loved ones. That is all you need to do to get a $50 gift card.

You could even tell me what you would do with the extra $50 you get during this festival season. Will you spend it on clothes, gifts, eating out or just give it away to your family. I will be choosing five winners from those who have commented during the past few days and sending the gifts pretty soon. If you want to get into the drawing make sure you leave your comments today... no... right now...

Monday, October 17, 2011

A story of Human Grit

Today I met a gentleman in my apartment complex. He is an avid biker and has several interesting bikes of the vintage era including a 500 cc Matchless, BSA Golden Flash, couple of Triumph twins among others. I stopped by his garage to have a chat about his bikes because I saw him working on one of them. We were primarily talking about bikes and riding. "I feel far more safe on the highway 75 going at 75 mph, than on the city roads going at 30mph," he remarked. I was surprised and he explained that on the highway as long as you maintained the speed and rode in your lane at a safe distance from other cars it is no problems. In the city cars come really close to you and it is quite dangerous to ride. He still rides bikes that don't have disc brakes or electronic ignition. Slowly our conversation progressed from motorcycles to traffic to business, employment and he said that there was so much corruption in the corporate world that he wouldn't want to go back to his job. Then I asked him if he was retired, to which he explained that he is technically blind. Apparently some undiagnosed illness afflicted him few years ago which made him completely blind. Now after some aggressive treatments he can see fairly well. He further explained how he had built up complete motorcycles when he was so blind that he couldn't find his way back home from the paring lot (about 20 steps). "I adjusted valves and set the guides in this bike when I was completely blind. I just knew what I was doing and had a feel for how much smooth the valves had to be ground and adjusted". After having the chat, I have a new story of human grit and another reason that I need to start riding motorcycles again. I need to get a license and find a motorcycle too. Let us hope that this happens quickly.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Diwali - The Festival of Lights

Diwali has been one of my favorite festivals for a very long time. Though over the years the way I celebrate the event that signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, god over demons, etc has changed. My fondness for the festival has remained the same.
Diwali was one of those occasions when the entire family got together in my maternal grandfather's home. It would be a riot of colors and a cacophony of noises as we 20 grandkids played, fought and frolicked for the few days we were together. Those were the carefree days of childhood when the only job was to have fun and be happy, eat and sleep well. What better way to enjoy than by wear new clothes, receive gifts of cash, toys, etc, burst crackers, and of course eat whole lot of goodies.
When I got together with my cousings during these festival holidays we would have eating competitions and our moms would never get tired cooking and feeding us. At those times due to my apparent ignorence I never valued the great family together time. As I grew older and got busy with my own life, studies, college, adventure sports, travelling and other activities took precedence and the first thing to be ignored was family and these festivities. As a young college student I would look forward to these festivals but for a different reason - holidays so I could travel with friends.

After coming to the US, Diwali has taken a whole new meaning. It is now more than ever in my life that I appreciate and miss the family time together, that I took so much for granted in my younger years. The gifts I received were not of great value but it was given with so much love that even the most expensive gifts felt cheap in comparison.


As we approach another Diwali this year I remember and cherish the family times and shared enjoyment that I miss today living in America. Last year American Express launched a new gift card exclusively for the Diwali festival. This is one way through which I can show my loved ones living in this country that I remember that it is festival season and that I do care for them, even though I may not be meeting them on a regular basis. The American Express Diwali Gift Card is a great product in my opinion and I have been sending them to my family and friends here since last year.


American Express is now offering my blog readers an opportunity to win $50 gift cards by sharing their memories of Diwali. All you need to do is to leave a comment in response to this post about your favorite memories/ experiences of Diwali and five winners will be chosen at random to receive $50 gift card each from American Express. So get those memories from the corners of your heart and pen them down here and your story could get you a little extra money for the upcoming festival season.












Thursday, October 13, 2011

American Express Diwali Gift Card Giveaway is back

Last year I ran the Diwali shopping contest and gave away American Express Gift cards to winners. Well Diwali is an annual festival and the giveaways and gifts are back this year too. Thanks to American Express. This year it is going to be simpler and easier to win. All you got to do is to leave a comment on my blog talking about your favorite Diwali memories. The five best expressed memories will receive $50 gift cards from American Express to help with your festival shopping.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

India on the verge of losing the Taj Mahal

Image courtesy DOTW News

I read a lot of news and those that really touch my heart I blog about it. Here is a news report about two things I feel passionately about: India and its heritage monuments. I read this news report titled The Taj Mahal in danger of collapse on the online DOTW News portal. I am definitely sad but I am not surprised at all. India is one nation with a large population and a relatively small landmass. Coupled with the fact that India is full of heritage monuments, almost every small village in the country has historical temples and structures that need to be preserved.

Now given the small land mass of country, our ancestors should not have been so magnanimous to give away large tracts of territory to create smaller nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh. As if adding insult to injury the our people have ceded a third of land in Jammu & Kashmir to Pakistan to create Pak Occupied Kashmir and some more land to China in the contiguous Ak-Siachen region. Then there is the dispute with China over Arunachal Pradesh, then the Narasimha Rao government as recently as during the 1990s ceded some part of the Tin Bigha corridor to Bangladesh which has now been completely leased (read given away) to Bangladesh recently. Now with so little land left for such a huge population there is simply not enough resources in Mother India to feed, clothe and house the teeming billions.

Then we have our self-serving politicians and businessmen and the so-called societal leaders who are more interested in stripping the country of its riches and filling their own coffers. The net result natural resources of the country are ravaged, antiquities are sold. The Taj Mahal being in this kind of precarious condition is the result of this kind of the rapacity of the country.

There is a saying in Sanskrit "Yatha Raja, thatha Praja" meaning "How the king is, that is how the citizens will be". With the country being ruled by corrupt, self-serving politicians, the nations populous is equally corrupt if not more. Nobody is concerned about anything that belongs to the society, everyone is bothered only about his/ her self, immediate family, bank accounts, property. So who cares about the Taj? The media which should play the role of a promoter of national interest is doing the exact opposite. They make heroes out of terrorists and villains of the soldiers and police.

The net result is drying up of rivers, damage to our heritage and monuments like Taj will collapse. I am sure the bureaucrats and politicians who are talking about protecting the monument are more interested in the pickings they can get out of the contracts they will award to engineers, architects and builders rather than really restoring and protecting the Taj.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Walking on Wilson Creek Trail

Yesterday I went for a walk along the 1.5 mile Wilson Creek Trail in the McKinney Town Lake Recreation area. It was a nice evening and the weather was just perfect to enjoy the great outdoors. As I approached the parking lot I was impressed by the number of cars and then I saw that the entire Wilson Creek playing fields was filled with children, youngsters, teenagers and older people. Most of them playing soccer, American football, lacrosse or some other similar highly involved team sport. This kind of infrastructure has been created by the government so that people can enjoy the outdoors and then of course the natural wooded areas around the Wilson Creek are preserved. That is achieving two goals with one task. Simply taking a walk along the trail besides the wooded area and looking at the creek meandering by is a big de-stressor for me. Nature so beautiful helps me forget my troubles and focus on my dreams, goals and ambitions.

Here are some pictures.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Happy Navrathri 2011

Mysore Palace, illuminated for the Dasara fest...Image via WikipediaNavrathri or Dushera or Dasara is one of the most important festivals of more than a fifth of the world's population. I mean there are over a billion Hindus worldwide and all these people celebrate this festival which commemorates the victory of god over demons, light over darkness, good over evil, etc. This is one f the most widely celebrated festivals among the Indian diaspora in the US. When I say Indian I mean the Hindus from India, not the native American tribals and their half-bred white descendants who so ardently cling on to this ethnic identity label and refuse to let go and take pride in their own national identity.

The highlight of Dasara or Navrathri in my home state in India is the celebrations in Mysore. The way these celebrations are carried out is simply mind-blowing and people from across the world come to view the grandeur of this event.

Anyway this post is about the celebration of Navrathri and I sure wish everyone across the world irrespective of their religion, nationality, ethnic identity, or culture a very happy festival season.

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