Post From The Past – From The Archives Of An Old Blog

Here’s an old blog post, circa 2006 that I posted on my old blogspot account on about the decision to sell our old family house and move to the current apartment we live in:

I can’t remember if I have ever mentioned that my family was planning on selling the house we have in Thrikkakara. Perhaps I have, but anyway we were planning on doing so and finally reached an agreement with a doctor who decided to buy the house and land surrounding it for a good sum – which was 4 lakhs less than what we planned on selling it for and 4 lakhs more than what he planned on buying a house with.

The long search for a good offer has taken us almost three years on & off. This year the search for a prospective buyer had intesified with my dad going all out to find a willing person and my sister pitching in as well. We wanted to sell it as fast and for as much as we could in order to pay off the loan we had with TATA Tea which was incured at the time when my dad’s business went down. The interest on top of the money we own them will take care of a huge chunk of the money we get for our house. And then we had the search for a replacement house or an apartment that would suit our requirements. My dad & mom opted for a flat which would require less of day to day maintainance and cleaning. With me out for most of the days it would be mostly just the two of them plus a part-time maid.

We searched high and low all over Cochin for a good place. We found good houses for less money but the catch was that they were located quite far off from the main parts of town. A really good house with four bedrooms at a price that could be called a steal and a bargain was almost too good to resist. But the fact that it was so far from a bus stop or shops or the town made us decide against it. Several good flats were looked at but the price disuaded us. Or in somecases they were really good and the price was ok as well but either they were months away from completion or the current owners wanted us to buy it immediately which we couldn’t do as they money for our house was not yet recieved. Finally we got one in Kacheripady – in the heart of town, close to everything. I would have a nice bar (there are three nearby), a supermarket, shops of all kind and I can walk back after watching late night shows in three or four movie theatres and be home in less than 20 minutes. What a great deal! The apartment is 3 bedrooms kinda small and the outside looks kinda old. The insides will be fixed with some paint and we have to work out some cabinets and drawers all over to store stuff. That will be done soon – I can’t wait to move.

Alien Hunter

At about 12:15 this movie came on and I decided to watch it cause it has the title Alien Hunter and it stars actor James Spader, who must be a Sci-Fi fan; this is the third movie of his that features Aliens and/or Space. The other two are Stargate and Supernova. Infact, Spader’s character is so similar to that of his in the movie Stargate, where he plays a Linguist who is hired to be part of a team of soldiers who enter a gateway to a distant planet. Here he is a once heralded professor who was chided for being an “alien hunter”. I must say that I am disappointed with this movie which follows in the long line of movies that fail to deliver when aliens are involved.

Satellite imagery detects an anomalous mass six meters long by three meters wide, buried within the Antarctic ice shelf — and emitting radio signals. Crews at the Rundell Peak research station near the South Pole dig it out and bring it in. As scientists wait for the ice around the mass to melt, spectrographic analysis reveals something unexpected: The radio signals are non-random. University of California, Berkeley: Linguistics professor Dr. Julian Rome (James Spader) is called in to the office of his boss, Dr. John Bachman (Roy Dotrice). It’s not, as Julian fears, about that long-ago trouble involving a young co-ed. It’s about his days — also long past — as a decoding cryptologist with the government’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project (SETI). Bachman tells him about the exhumed object, and that the esteemed Dr. ALexi Gierach has invited Julian to the Antarctic to help them understand what the radio signals might be trying to communicate. Not that, when he gets there, most of the staff think it’s communicating anything, or that Julian is anybody. Dr. Michael Straub (John Lynch), a chief scientist on a genetically engineered crop project, chides the beaten-down Julian as an “alien hunter.” And Dr. Kate Brecher (Janine Eser) is downright hostile, for understandable reasons — she was the co-ed from Rome’s past. “There’s four women here,” she tells him tersely. “Try not to set any records.”

He wouldn’t have had time to, whatever his inclination. As the encrypted message becomes clear and as nightmares become premonitions, the ice-station crew begins to realize the danger it faces, and the terror that is hidden in the code — all leading, in a complex and suspenseful drama, to a global pandemic, a U.S.-Russian failsafe, human betrayal, rekindled romance and the end of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. A tussel with Dr.Straub and the rouge alien fails to ignite the screen (although they do have a great scene where the crops wilt as soon as the “infected” humans come towards them. And the four survivors leaving in the alien spaceship is so boring and predictable.

Come on, people : give me a real alien movie!! I rate it 4 out of 10!

What Other Blogs Would You Maintain?

If things were different I’d want to have a separate blog on pure photography – if I had a really nice camera and some skills to go along with it and ofcourse if I went to interesting places. I just don’t go to interesting places. So interesting places and interesting people and I’d want to have the photos to go along with it. So a really good photo blog is something I wish I could maintain.

If I lived in a country that had these awesome craft beers – like Canada for example – then I’d want to have a beer review blog where after I drink various beers, I’d review and rate them and post pics of the ones that I drink. That would be so awesome; maybe some video reviews too.

If I could see all my favourite rock bands live then I’d have a blog dedicated to just music concert reviews with lots of pics. Here’s where the photo taking skills could also come in handy. That would so awesome since rock music is my biggest love and passion. And also if I could arrange interviews with some musicians then I’d post the podcast and/or the video of the interviews.

If I could play guitar then I’d post videos of me playing and singing covers of my favourite songs and even compose my own music and post them on the blog. Then I’d be discovered and signed and I’d sell millions of records, play sold out arenas all over the world and become a rock star. And groupies – oh the groupies!!

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Flashpoint – Season 2

Season 2 starts off with an emotional high – three menwho recently lost their homes to bank foreclosures take the CEO of their mortgage society hostage. While Ed and Sam search for the shooter, Parker tries to talk down the third man, who has doused himself in gasoline and is threatening to immolate himself on live television if his demands are not met. Meanwhile, Parker must find a replacement for Jules while she is recovering from her gunshot wound, finally settling on Donna Sabine (Jessica Steen who joined the cast while actress Amy Jo Johnson had her baby). Two children, their Russian nanny (played by the beautiful Ona Grauer), and a neighbor are taken hostage when they walk in on a group of thieves in the children’s home. The SRU comes in to negotiate, but the stand-off escalates when Mischa, the leader of the thieves, kills one of the hostages when he feels the SRU is not taking him seriously. The situation is resolved with two of the thieves standing down, but the SRU is left with no choice but to use lethal force against Mischa.

Team One is tasked to protect a serial killer who has confessed to his crimes and is now returning to Canada. The party is attacked and Sam is taken hostage by a victim’s father looking to take the law into his own hands. In order to negotiate Sam’s release, Parker makes a call to leave the killer in the hands of a transit agent who is looking for revenge of her own. Donna is forced to shoot the agent before she can kill her target. Kari Matchett and Peter Outerbridge guest star. Next Two teenagers find themselves with hostages when their attempted robbery of a supermarket goes awry. Parker is able to reach out to one of the boys to end the situation peacefully. A young woman (Laurence Leboeuf) gives her son up for adoption, but when her boyfriend re-enters her life, they decides they want the child back, kidnapping him from his adoptive family and demanding a lawyer to find a way to end the adoption. Realising that she cannot care for the baby, the young woman contacts Team One and attempts to end the situation herself. Recognising the young man’s pain at never having had a family of his own, Parker begins negotiations, but is put in a position where he can save either the baby or the father. He is able to return the child to its adoptive family, but the young man jumps to his death.

A young man is persuaded by his half-brother to use his position at an electronic bank to end his half-brother’s gambling debt. However, as soon as the transaction is completed, his half-brother reveals that a Mexican gang has kidnapped the young man’s pregnant wife and is demanding $500,000 in exchange for her life. Team One lets the stand-off play out long enough to find the gang and rescue the woman from her captors. A student brings a gun to school to carry out revenge attacks against some bullies who humiliated him in front of the whole school. The situation is complicated when a local police officer on-scene believes the boy has killed his son, and goes looking for revenge of his own. Parker leads the SRU’s efforts to calm the boy and defuse the situation with the help of a student close to the boy. But just as the stand-off ends, the distraught father arrives on-scene and shoots the boy. The boy survives while the father is arrested. When Laura, a woman (Kathleen Munroe) finds out that she has a brain disease, she decides to end her own life. Her fiancĂ© Even (Luke Kirby) promises her one night where they will do whatever she wants before administering a fatal overdose of morphine. After skipping out on a restaurant bill and robbing a pawn shop, they take hostages at a wedding reception where they plan on killing themselves after one last dance. Team One convinces them to stand down, promising that they will be able to spend their time together before Laura dies. A young boy, Mattie, is shot after witnessing a local gang killing. His brother Derek takes him to a hospital, but the gang pursue them, intent on killing any witnesses to the crime. The SRU arrive on-scene and must stop Derek and the gang from killing one another. Derek surrenders, but Mattie is convinced that there are more gang members looking for him and they will only back down if he kills them first.

A series of bomb threats are made by an environmentalist extremist group. Team One have just 90 minutes to end the threat, and reach out to the surviving members of a dormant extremist group for help. While Spike disarms one bomb, Lou accidentally steps on a landmine while approaching the second. While the SRU locate the bomber – revealed to be the daughter of the original extremists – Spike attempts to save his friend. Lou convinces Spike to leave before taking his weight off the mine, knowing that Spike will only endanger himself. Lou is killed in the explosion, and Team One must deal with the loss of one of its own. The SRU unit must rescue a young woman (Joanna Douglas) from a delusional man (Brian Markinson) who insists she is his missing daughter. Jules persuades him to let her go. Team One’s newest recruit, Leah Kerns (Olunike Adeliyi), has been seconded to the SRU in the wake of Lou’s death. A prison riot begins during a parole hearing where Anton Burrows (Roger R. Cross), a man convicted for murder, is once again denied parole after a statement made by his victim’s daughter (Sarena Parmar) and wife. Burrows takes them as hostages to protect them from the other prisoners during the riot. As the SRU attempts to defuse the situation, Ed is convinced that Burrows – a friend from his time before joining Team One – means the hostages no harm. Spike discovers that the riot is not an attempted break-out, but an uprising by one prison gang against another. Burrows protects the women throughout the riot, and they promise him they will speak on his behalf at his next parole hearing.

After winning custody of his children in court, a man takes his wife’s lawyer hostage and leaves Team One searching for answers. Jules discovers that the children have been kidnapped and their mother (Kathleen Robertson) is unaware of their disappearance. Ending the stand-off in the lawyer’s office, the SRU realise that the mother conspired with her boyfriend and her lawyer’s assistant to stage a parental abduction and escape to Ireland. A radio talk show host (guest star Michael Riley, Gemini Award winner for this role) is hunted down by the SRU when he takes a politician hostage and threatens to kill the man live on air if he does not confess to being a murderer. The talk show host believes his hostage used his family’s money to cover up a drunk driving accident that left a young man dead. The politician admits to staging the scene of the crime, but only to protect the real driver, the young man’s girlfriend. Police arrest a woman for robbing a rural convenience store. The SRU, however, has her released when she tells them she ran away from a small community known as The Farm after hearing plans of an attempt to commit murder on its residents. Ed and Jules enter The Farm and discover that it is a cult, but Ed is captured by their leader, Charles. He learns that Charles has cancer and is planning on making poison gas to kill everyone living at The Farm because he believes that he cannot protect them from the outside world once he dies. The SRU rescues the residents, but Charles commits suicide. Parker is lured into a trap after being called away on undisclosed personal business. Ed leads Team One to track him down, finding a meth lab on the waterfront. Parker’s captors demand that he reveal a secret from his time as a homicide detective, or else they will kill him. Parker’s secret concerns an 8-year-old girl named Hayley, whose mother died during a shootout when Parker and his colleagues served a warrant on her home. Parker’s captors are convinced that he shot Hayley’s mother and then covered up the truth and has been taking care of Hayley out of guilt, but Team One learns that Hayley accidentally shot her own mother, and that his care of her helped him recover from his alcoholism.

Robert Cooper, an anti-drug advocate, takes the law into his own hands when his brother overdoses on cocaine. Team One follows a trail of injured drug dealers to try and stop Cooper before he kills someone. They follow him to the Steele brothers, two rich men who started dealing drugs when they were cut off by their family. Cooper surrenders to the SRU, and the Steele brothers are taken into custody. Meanwhile, Wordie and Leah clash when Leah comments that the neighbourhood is a bad one, unaware that Wordy grew up in it. Team One is called in to a hockey arena that is scheduled for demolition when shots are fired inside. The subject is Darren Kovacs, a former soldier suffering from survivor’s guilt after his friends were killed in Afghanistan. Kovacs has returned to the arena because it is the only place he feels comfortable. Sam uses his experiences at war to try and talk Kovacs down, but Kovacs takes Spike hostage, leaving Ed with no choice but to shoot him. Sam is torn between his belief that he could have talked Kovacs down and his shared experiences of Afghanistan, leading him to question his place on the team.

Change the World

So I go to sleep tonight and I can choose that one thing had changed about the world? It’s easy. I’m going to go ahead and choose the one deadliest disease known to mankind that has caused more deaths, destruction, horror, chaos, causes friction, takes away your rights as a human, divides people, wants to run your life and still manages to piss off a lot of people on a daily basis – religion.

So I’d like to wake up tomorrow and find that all the temples, churches, mosques, gurudhwaras & synagogues of the world have been either demolished and malls, houses, public parks or something else nicer have been established there. I don’t see divisions amongst people, no recognizable differences that show up because there is no religion. There also seems to be no poverty, no homeless people because we’ve apparently had humanist programs created by the rich and the government to eradicate poverty, famine, hunger and homelessness. Oh and what’s that, every human has a safe home with enough power, food, water, plumbing and entertainment stuff? And say what; there are no reports of murders, looting, cheating, abuse, racism or rapes? Far out!

No money? What’s that, money is no longer needed because guess what, we’ve created a safe way to create food, clothing and everything we need because instead of fighting for money & power, we’ve pooled all the world’s scientific minds into creating clean energy. No one will ever need to be greedy for money anymore. Oh and what’s that, every family keeps a cat or a dog and sometimes more than one of each? Awesome. And guess what – we’ve aimed for the stars cause planetary exploration is up next and everyone wants to go visit the neighbouring planets and stars and see what’s out there.

Wanna join us?

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The Sorry State Of Affairs Of Queensryche

Despite having internet access at my fingertips I only came to know of this incident now, despite being a fan of the band. This is sad to hear about a once awesome & tight rock band.

On April 14, 2012, during a show at HSBC in SĂŁo Paulo, Brazil, singer Geoff Tate threw several punches and physically assaulted and spat on drummer Scott Rockenfield and guitarist Michael Wilton in an act of retaliation stemming from a pre-show argument on the firing of Susan Tate as band manager and his daughter Miranda from running the band’s fan club. Tate continuously spat on band members during the show and had to be restrained by band crew and local security. Despite this incident, the band attempted to reconcile with Tate over the course of the next two shows. But his last show with the band was during the Rocklahoma Festival on May 26, in Pryor, Oklahoma. During the show Tate commented to the crowd “You guys suck”. The show was broadcast live to a national audience to the entire United States on the digital cable channel HDNet.

Court testimony eventually revealed that the band fired Tate’s family due to misuse of the band’s corporate accounts to pay expenses for an Irish band Susan Tate was managing called the Voodoos, who did not have legal work visas and were also opening QueensrĂżche shows during their 2011 U.S. tour. In 2012, singer Geoff Tate brokered a deal with zoetifex Studios for the rights to a cg animated film adaptation of Operation: Mindcrime, which would pay him an advance and most of the royalties associated with the movie’s merchandising. Tate alleged that he alone owned the rights to the story although most of the band contributed music to the concept of Mindcrime.

In May 2012, it was announced that original members Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson, along with Parker Lundgren and Crimson Glory frontman Todd La Torre had formed a band called Rising West, playing songs from the first five Queensrÿche albums only. They performed two shows in Seattle at the Hard Rock Café on June 8 and 9, 2012. Then, on June 20, Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson announced that Queensrÿche had parted ways with Geoff Tate and would replace him with Todd La Torre going forward. Soon after the split, Tate and his wife filed a lawsuit in a Seattle court against his former bandmates, claiming that he was illegally fired from the band. They also sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson from using the Queensrÿche name. On July 13, 2012 a court defeated this motion, while also giving Tate permission to use the name until the lawsuit is settled.

On September 1, Geoff Tate announced a new QueensrĂżche lineup featuring Rudy Sarzo, Bobby Blotzer, Glen Drover, Kelly Gray and Randy Gane. Soon after, Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson motioned for a preliminary summary judgment requesting that Tate should not be allowed to use the QueensrĂżche name and imagery, claiming that he was legally fired from the band after the April 14th assault in Brazil. However, the Washington state judge denied this motion. Who officially owns the name and imagery of QueensrĂżche will not be determined until the lawsuit is settled. On November 2012, the Todd LaTorre-fronted QueensrĂżche announced they would enter the studio in December to record their next album. The album will be co-produced by James Barton, who also co-produced the album Promised Land. According to frontman LaTorre, listeners will hear “a difference in sound, style, and writing in the new QUEENSRŸCHE record as compared to the last several albums.” He also hinted an early-2013 release date.A trailer with demo recordings of the upcoming album was also released.

Arsenal 5 Tottenham Hotspurs 2

Needing a good boost for themselves and their fans, Arsenal needed a win against hated local rivals Tottenham. Playing at home Arsenal were able to win 5-2 and give their fans some well needed cheer.

Arsenal benefited from Emmanuel Adebayor’s sending off to secure a comeback victory over Tottenham and move above them in the Premier League. Old Arsenal boy, Adebayor tapped Spurs in front against his old club but was dismissed for a high and late tackle on Santi Cazorla. That would put the lid on Spurs’ first half chances and Arsenal capitalized. Per Mertesacker headed the hosts level and then strikes from strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud before half-time saw Arsenal going into the break looking comfortable and poised for a good win.

Showing us some deft moves Spaniard Cazorla slotted in giving the Gunners a 4-1 lead and the side looked dominant. However Spurs would not lay down and die; plucky Gareth Bale drilled in to pull one goal,a goal that gave Szczesny no chance to save at all. But Arsenal would not be denied and Theo Walcott sealed the points late on with a goal of his own. Arsenal now have 19 points and sit at 6th spot but that looks temporary.

On My Deathbed I Will Be Thinking…

“Oh won’t you come to my funeral when my days are done” – Crash Test Dummies.

On my deathbed is the time when things from my earliest memories to stuff that just happened a day or two ago will be playing in my mind, like a movie reel that goes fast but focusing on just a few highlights here and there. That is provided ofcourse that I retain my memory towards the end of my life. As death approaches do things get clearer or do they start to fade away? I cannot be certain so I shall wait for that particular moment to come and find out for myself.

I suppose I will start with my childhood and go onto adolescence and then my teenage rebellious years and my 20s and 30s and whichever decades that I do get to live out after now and before my death. I will think about the best things that I have experienced and the deepest regrets and pains that I have felt and try to be at peace with them. I shall think of friends come and gone and family & loved ones. I shall try not to think about the enemies and bad people who I encountered throughout this life, no need to waste precious time on them. But I guess the regrets will be the ones I will spend more time on – for I shall not have another opportunity to remedy them. Sigh, such is life.

I shall then close my eyes, think of something good and keep a smile on my face and welcome the nothingness that will envelop me as death takes over. I was not alive for billions of years before and I had a brief existence as a lifeform on this beautiful planet and I am lucky. Now it is the end. Goodbye and goodnight to the universe, for it is now time to cease to exist.

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Much awaited and much awaited for me too personally, I finally watched Prometheus last night. Set in the same universe as, and considered to be kind of a prequel to, the Alien Quadrology movies (and therefore a sort of sequel to the Alien vs Predator movies) Prometheus is directed by Ridley Scott, and written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. The film stars Noomi Rapace,Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, and Charlize Theron.

Since this is quite a recent famous movie I’m just gonna touch upon some of the major points and my opinions on them. Now, do not get grouchy – these opinions are my own and I choose to air them here. If you do not agree, state your own opinions in the comments as nicely as you can. Here we go:

  • So according to this movie we see how the lifeforms on earth or to be more specific humans came to be. One of the alien races, we call them the Engineers, stayed back on earth while his ship left, drank a dark liquid that caused him to disintegrate his remains fell into a waterfall. His DNA , spread in the waters and oceans is what triggers a biogenetic reaction and we evolved out of that.
  • In 2089 Peter Weyland, owner & multi-billionaire of the Weyland Corporation, funds a research team to head to the distant moon LV-223 – the location of which is discovered by two archeologists, Holloway & Shaw by noticing that a star map in a cave painting they unearthed in Scotland, matches that in several paintings of other civilizations. The Prometheus is the ship designed for the mission, headed by Miss Meredith Vickers.
  • Did the Engineers create the black gooey substance and thus the worm-snake like creature as a weapon for war, as theorized by the captain (when he says that the structure was probably an Engineer military installation that lost control of a virulent biological weapon, the dark liquid). So I’m guessing that their experiment went all wrong when they created a weapon too deadly even for them. The Engineers on the moon were all killed with the exception of one individual who is found in a hibernation pod by David.
  • The actions of David the anderoid (played superbly by Michael Fassbender) is understood more when it is later shown that Weyland was on the ship all along, unknown to the rest of the crew. The main agenda was to seek the Engineers and ask for extending the life of the now very old Weyland. But I still don’t get why he intentionally brought some of the black liquid back on board the ship and tainted Holloway’s drink with it – causing the young archeologist to get infected and pass on the worm-snake like creature onto Shaw when they had sex later that night.
  • For some reason the Engineers created us – why, I haven’t a fucking clue? David brilliantly says to Holloway that if humans created David just because they could and had the capabilities to do so, then perhaps the humans were created by the Engineers for no purpose; just because they had the ability to do so, ie. just because they could. Purpose & meaning of life solved so well!!!
  • But why do the Engineers want to now destroy the humans? They had plans to take the liquid to earth to destroy us no doubt, but why? They created us, why this malice? Perhaps they had a glimpse of our politics and religion and went “Oh no! This cannot continue!” Anyway that is an question left unanswered in the movie. Whatever the reason we know that because as soon as the sleeping Engineer is awakened he kills as the humans and tries to get his ship off to earth. When that fails, he heads to kill the surviving Shaw.
  • Having just discovered that the bible and her religion is false Elizabeth Shaw still holds on to her religion & faith. “Give me back my cross” like nothing else matters. Baloney! Smack them on the head with the truth and they still are blind.
  • The movie is shot so well and visually it is a treat. Best scene is the one in which Elizabeth has to rush and use the automated operating machine on herself to remove the growing facehugger!!!
  • Now let me get this straight – Engineers and us have almost the same DNA because we came from them, or one of them as it is shown in the movie. The Engineers created the black liquid from which comes the worm, which grows into a snake like creature. Worm ingested into a human man (Holloway) and through sex transmitted into a woman (Shaw) creatures the first facehugger (from the Alien franchise). Facehugger gets hold of the Engineer, inserts that stuff into it and out comes the first Alien creature. Is that how the species known as Alien from the movie franchise is created? Pretty fucked up!!
  • So at the end of the movie only Shaw & David remain – David is in two pieces – and they take one of the Engineers ships as Elizabeth intends to reach the Engineers’ homeworld in an attempt to understand why they wanted to destroy humanity. And ofcourse post the main credits we see the Alien creature burst out of the Engineer’s chest.

Visually stunning, storywise good too. 8.5 outta 10!

Package From Flipkart Arrived – 1TB HDD

So I had ordered a little something online a few days ago, last Friday to be exact. I was running out of disk space on my 3 external hard drives – a 160 GB Western Digital I use only for storing mp3s anyway, a 320 Transcend I use for movies & tv series and a 1 TB with external power supply Western Digital I use for tv series. So I needed more space and hence for the few days before last Friday I was checking out the various online shopping sites for Indians – ebay, Myntra, HomeShop 18, Flipkart & for good offers on external HDDs. I missed out a really great offer that last only a week because of a delay in my salary on a 2TB WD at the same prices as that of a 1TB drive. Alas I was too late!

Anyways I selected a good price offer from Flipkart, a website that I knew was reliable based on several friends’ experiences and seemed like the lowest price at the time (it still is this week). And today:- a package has arrived!

From Flipkart. Apparently they use a courier service called AFL which has been bought out by FedEx and will soon change to that name. The customer care numbers of AFL do not work!

I love the package design. The box was a bit crumpled though.

Ohh that looks small! That’s tiny and gorgeous looking. This is actually the basic design; there are more fancier design casings for WD.

For a bit of size comparison, here’s my new 1 TB drive on the left side by side with my optical USB mouse!

Some Points On Evolution For The Doubters

  • The word theory in the theory of evolution does not imply mainstream scientific doubt regarding its validity; the concepts of theory and hypothesis have specific meanings in a scientific context. While theory in colloquial usage may denote a hunch or conjecture, a scientific theory is a set of principles that explains observable phenomena in natural terms. “Scientific fact and theory are not categorically separable,” and evolution is a theory in the same sense as germ theory or the theory of gravitation.
  • Evolution does not attempt to explain the origin of life or the origin and development of the universe. While biological evolution describes the process by which species and other levels of biological organisation originate, and ultimately leads all life forms back to a universal common ancestor, it is not primarily concerned with the origin of life itself, and does not pertain at all to the origin and evolution of the universe and its components. The theory of evolution deals primarily with changes in successive generations over time after life has already originated. The scientific model concerned with the origin of the first organisms from organic or inorganic molecules is known as abiogenesis, and the prevailing theory for explaining the early development of our universe is the Big Bang model.
  • Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees. The two modern chimpanzee species are, however, humans’ closest living relatives. The most recent common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees lived between 5 and 8 million years ago. Finds of the 4.4 million year old Ardipithecus indicate the ancestor looked like a small, long limbed chimpanzee with a rather short snout and was a moderately competent bipedal walker. Contrary to the idea of chimpanzees as “primitive”, they too have evolved since the split, becoming larger, more aggressive and more capable climbers. Together with the other apes, humans and chimpanzees constitute the family Hominidae. This group evolved from a common ancestor with the Old World monkeys some 40 million years ago.
  • Evolution is not a progression from inferior to superior organisms, and it also does not necessarily result in an increase in complexity. A population can evolve to become simpler, having a smaller genome, but biological devolution is a misnomer.
  • According to the California Academy of Sciences, only 59% of U.S. adults know humans and (non-avian) dinosaurs did not coexist. The last of the non-avian dinosaurs died 65.5 million years ago, after the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, whereas the earliest Homo genus (humans) evolved between 2.3 and 2.4 million years ago. This places a 63 million year expanse of time between the last non-bird dinosaurs and the earliest humans.
  • Evolution does not violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. A common argument against evolution is that entropy, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, increases over time, and thus evolution could not produce increased complexity. However, the law does not refer to complexity and only applies to closed systems,[210] which the Earth is not, as it absorbs and radiates the Sun’s energy.
  • Evolution does not “plan” to improve an organism’s fitness to survive.For example, an incorrect way to describe giraffe evolution is to say that giraffe necks grew longer over time because they needed to reach tall trees. Evolution doesn’t see a need and respond, it is instead a goalless process. A mutation resulting in longer necks would be more likely to benefit an animal in an area with tall trees than an area with short trees, and thus enhance the chance of the animal surviving to pass on its longer-necked genes. Tall trees could not cause the mutation nor would they cause a higher percentage of animals to be born with longer necks. In the giraffe example, the evolution of a long neck may equally well have been driven by sexual selection, proposing that the long necks evolved as a secondary sexual characteristic, giving males an advantage in “necking” contests over females.
  • Dinosaurs did not go extinct due to being maladapted or unable to cope with change, a view found in many older textbooks. In fact, dinosaurs comprised an adaptive and successful group, whose demise was brought about by an extraordinary event that also extinguished many groups of plants, mammals and marine life. The most commonly cited cause is that of an asteroid impact on the Yucatán Peninsula, triggering the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Also, not all dinosaurs went extinct. Birds evolved from small feathered theropods in the Jurassic, and while most dinosaur lineages were cut short at the end of the Cretaceous, some birds survived. Consequently, dinosaur descendants are part of the modern fauna.
  • Mammals did not evolve from any modern group of reptiles. Soon after the first reptiles appeared, they split into two branches, the sauropsids and the synapsids. The line leading to mammals diverged from the line leading to modern reptilian lines (the sauropsids) about 320 million years ago, in the mid Carboniferous period. Only later (in the late Carboniferous or early Permian) did the modern reptilian groups (lepidosaurs, turtles and crocodiles) diverge. The mammals themselves, being the only survivors of the synapsid line, are the “cousins” rather than “siblings” of modern reptiles.

Fish n’ Chips – Mini Version

One evening last week I was aching to get some fish & chips and remembered that Abad’s Cafe Canopy (a place I used to go to a lot with family as well during my teens and just recently started going to again) had it on their menu. Alas, it was a miniature version of Fish & Chips. I had this and an ice tea and well, although it was ok in taste, it left me disappointed.

Beer Types – Barley Wine

Barley wine or Barleywine is a beer style of strong ale originating in England. The first beer to be marketed as Barley Wine was Bass No. 1 Ale, around 1870. In ancient Greece it was known as “”krithinos oinos”, “barley wine” and it is mentioned amongst others by Greek historians Xenophon in his work Anabasis and Polybius in his work The Histories, where he mentions that Phaeacians kept barleywine in silver and golden kraters.

A barley wine typically reaches an alcohol strength of 8 to 12% by volume and is brewed from specific gravities as high as 1.120. It is called a barley wine because it can be as strong as wine; but since it is made from grain rather than fruit, it is, in fact, a beer. There are two primary styles of barley wine, the American which tends to be more hoppy and thus more bitter with colors ranging from amber to light brown and the English style which tends to be less hoppy and thus less bitter with more variety in color ranging from red-gold to opaque black.

Until the introduction of amber coloured Whitbread Gold Label in the 1950s, British barley wines were always dark in colour. The Anchor Brewing Company introduced the style to the United States in 1976 with its Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale.

The one pictured is the Doggie Claws barley wine from the Hair Of The Dog brewery in Portland, Oregon.