Tuesday, December 30, 2008

beating blogger's block

it has happened to me many times.like writer's block,you come up against a wall,when you want to blog. and don't know on what topic you would like to blog. if you suffer from this problem don't worry . help is near. a twentytwo year young graduate from georgia tech college in atlanta, usa has designed a web-based tool which helps overcome blogger's block.called skribit, paul stamatiou has developed this blogger's cure. go to www.skribit.com. it must be good. within a year since it started,this website gets 4 million hits per month.

necessity is the mother of invention,they say.paul suffered frequent blocks while contributing to his own blog www.paulstamitiou.com which he had started in 2005.he put forth the idea in a conference of entrepreneurs,computer programmers and and marketing executives.with cofounder calvin yu he built the tool over a weekend.
when you don't blog for three days,people start asking why haven't you blogged in a while,he says.with skribit,blogreaders can vote on topics and post suggestions on what to write about. and the widget will sort them out by how hot they are.when the blogger uses your suggestion,you get notified.the key thing is that in skribit you get new ideas rather than just writing about what everyone else has.

users can suggest topics on the site.it can be anonymous or with a user account.then the blogger can read the site to get a clue as to his next post.also,he can post a widget of the tool on his blog.then suggestions will come directly to the blog.paul himself often uses skribit. the proof of the pudding lies in the eating.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

the hot chilli and its multiple uses

the other day i read an article in the 'et' in praise of 'bhut jolokia'. before you think it is a ghost story, let me hasten to add that it is not. nevertheless it is also frightening though to a lesser degree. it is the world's hottest chilli. it belongs to the capsicum chinense family. grown throughout the state of assam,bhut jholokia has SHV(scoville heat units) rating of 1,001,304.oxford university researchers have developed a technique of determining the degree of hotness of chilli sauce without tasting it. jalpeno ranges fromn 2500 to 8000.naga jolokia is 1million.based on nanotechnology,it is like measuring blood sugar levels at home. overtaking mexico's red savina which till last year topped the ranking (577000) in the guiness book of world records. the big red chilly of assam seems to be finding its way to the stomachs of chilli loving fans from india and abroad. recently a company in UK has orderd for 10 tonnes of bhut jolokia.there are many more who have shown interest too. not only for adding spice to the food but also for use as chillicake and chilli fences too to keep wild animals at bay in the farms and chilli coated iron bars as well.

what is behind the hotness that chilli pepper has? it is a substance called capsaicin.even a small dose can create sweat pours,quickening of the pulse and tears down one's cheeks.it is also a pain reliever.in the west which is known for its bland food sans all the spices that the east gobbles, tolerance to capsaicin has been very low.however,the present generation is guzzling hot sauce like never before;tabasco saauce or the superhot habanero peppers have caught their imagination.now a new pepper has emerged. called the dorset naga it is very very hot.it has a scoville rating of 1.6 million units.so now bhut jolokia has slid into second place.the naga which hails from bangladesh has become an instant hit.

the dorset naga chilli has been cultivated by curry lovers joy and michael michaurd in west bexington near dorchester.it has been developed from a bangladeshi pepper.the seeds are very potent.handlers have to wear gloves and cut the peppers under strong wind conditions so that it doesn't strike the eyes.if you are a chilli lover learn more about chilli peppers from michael.he runs workshops for keen gardeners and cooks who want to learn everything about chilli peppers.

chilligrenades is the new antiterro ammunition.drdo(defense research and development organisation) has developed a new kind of hand grenade for the military and police commandos to force out terrorists hiding in buildings and nab them without killing them.how i wish these were available to the anti-terrorists group when they barged in to the taj and trident on the black day of 25th november.the chillismoke grenade will irritate the eyes and cause immediate breathing difficulty and swelling of eyes aand compel the terrorirsts to come out in the open.the devise uses oleoresin capsicum.

for some chilli afficionados,the scoville reading is misleading.just like you cannot rate wine by its alcoholic content,they say chillies have to be categorised by freshness,dryness,pickleability and smokyness besided heat.the flavours change dramatically depending on the other conditions.they prefer the mexican matrix which takes into account both heat and the other conditions. a peruvian chilli called aji(Pronounced 'ahhee') has a lemony taste which when fresh and dried has a banana flavour.

can a fondness for chilli-eating lead to an addiction? and its side effects? after all, all of us know from our grandmothers that hot food causes acidity. bleeding in the stomach in extreme cases.scientific studies though have not drawn any conclusions whether chilli-eating can permanently damage the mucous membranes in the stomach. andhraites eat maximum chillies.but their stomachs are relatively safe.we,perhaps are the only mammals who eat chillies.other animals keep themselves poles apart from chillies.maybe we need to draw some lesson from our animal friends.

we have exported the fondness for chillies.the fascination for chillies has overtaken jason and steve,computer software engineers.and it has led to an addiction.they have given up their jobs and have started chilli farming in devon,uk. encouraged by their iniiitial succcess they have increased their acreage tenfold and have jampacked them with dozens of varieties.besides making chillies,they also make chilli jams,sauces and oils.all cooked by jason and steve.for the future they want to make tabasco style hot sauce and also launch a new chillichocolate. it has been an exciting change of profession for jason and steve. from computerchips to chillifarming.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

an eye for an eye,a tooth for a tooth,two shoes for iraq occupation

the iraqi shoe- thrower, a journalist, has become an overnight celebrity in the middle east for throwing his shoes one after another at president bush. bush with great alacrity ducked and saved himself the ignoniminy of having the shoes on his face. mr zaid was a poor shooter. only from 12 feet distance he missed a sitting duck. but anyway, he was applauded for his courage. for the parting gift that he gave to a visiting head of state. libyan president munnawwar gaddaffi's daughter will be presenting mr zaid with a medal for his courage. and a saudi billionaire has offered $10 million for one shoe. who has the coveted shoes no one knows. not certainly george bush. nor zaid either as he was last seen being pulled away by the iraq cops in his white socks.

in iraq if you are referred to as "son of a shoe" it is a damning insult. perhaps zaid meant that when he hurled the shoes.many years ago when he was addressing the united nations, nikita krushchev, the premier of ussr, took out his shoe and banged it on the table conveying his displeasure when there was a confrontation with usa on cuba. in hindi,' joote se maroonga' or 'cheruppala addikiren' in tamil mean the same.i will hit you with my shoes or my chappals.also when people are to be insulted publicly, their pictures are garlanded with chappals.

hurling shoes or brandishing them are manifestatations of anger and contempt. it is universally acknowledged as an expression of revenge or frustration as the case may be.the arab world is rejoicing at the temerity of zaid.let us hope that george bush learns his lessons atleast now and refrains from public appearances outside the usa.else he may create a record of sorts of being a president on whom maximum shoes have been hurled abroad besides eggs on his face in his own country.

Monday, December 15, 2008

yet another ponzi

it was charles ponzi who promised investors in the usa in 1920 that he would double their money in ninety days flat. those who fell for the temptation lost whatever they had invested.bernard madoff pulled off another ponzi scheme recently with far greater implications. the estimated fraud is in the region of $17 billion to $50 billion. the latter estimate is by his own admission. as if the blood on wall street that recently flowed was not enough,the recent revelation of the 'mother of frauds' has sent shockwaves all over the world and in particular among those unfortunate who believed in the suave and smart-talking madoff.

though how he worked his magic was puzzling to everyone,a steady annual return of 10-15% was too good to be ignored. a former chairman of nasdaq,he knew how money could be made and perhaps lost. his auditing firm was a three- man team-unseen and unheard of. banks like nomura had recently begun soliciting investors for madoff internationally. how much nomura itself lost is anybody's guess. many investors have lost all their savings excepting perhaps their properties while a charity lost its entire endowment.the legendary investor warren buffet had famously said that when the tide is down you really know how many people were swimming naked.

we too have seen many such ponzi schemes in india. and most mini madoffs have fled with their loot.i can understand when a layman falls prey to the lure of high interest. that well-informed and intelligent people and institutions should fall into such pits is incredible.

oh man,thy name is gullibility!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

a taste of bliss

people crave for bliss. they try all sorts of methods possible to attain something which is so very elusive.
some chant and meditate,some worship in temples,some do intense yogasanas to obtain kundalini shakthi.some engage in intense sex.
people are prepared to struggle to obtain that deep feeling of relaxation,a stressfree mind and body,a state of absolute calm and serenity.but then, there are some easy ways too to achieve bliss. "ghar ki murgi daal barabar". sadly,we take for granted what is easily available and start chasing a mirage. that is a common human tendency.

there is a plant called tulsi known for more than 5000 years.it has remarkable properties.it has amazing healing powers.this legendary plant is known as the 'queen of herbs'.the green tulsi is known as sri or lakshmi tulsi and the purple one as krishna tulsi. an important plant for vaishnavites,because this scared plant is dear to lord vishnu. therefore it symbolises purity and brings people closer to the divine(bliss).

it has amazing healing powers.it is used in ayurveda for treating numerous ailments.it has antioxidant properties,it is a painkiller,it is good for those who suffer from diabetes as it reduces the blood sugar level,helps those suffering from high bad cholesterol to lower their cholesterol readings. the aromatic plant is believed to promote longevity.

the other day while i was shopping in the bg club shop,i came across a box of 100% organic tulsi green tea. the manufacturers implore you to take a sip of ancient wisdom and relieve yourself from stresses and also lose weight. by drinking their blend of the finest tulsi and premium green tea. tall claim? i wouldn't think so. already after drinking two cups a day for the last fortnight, i can see the benefits. i feel more energized. it is like a balm which heals your body and mind. i love its fragrance and refreshing flavour. i make it a point to add fresh tulsi leaves to my morning pongal.( the thais use it extensively to add flavour and aroma to their food.it is a very important element in their cuisine.)

tulsi means 'the incomparable one'. it is true to the literal meaning.it is a wonder plant and tulsi tea is a wonder drink.it's winter here these days.i will therefore have it with hot water.and when summertime comes,i will beat the heat with icecold tulsi tea with a slice of lemon to add more flavour to the taste.

that is the route to bliss. don't hesitate. just go for it. you have got the elixir of life.