What Was The Best Birthday You Ever Had?

You know what? I can’t tell. I can’t think of one birthday that stands out as the fondest or best birthday ever. I think my 15th and 17th birthdays were really good. After that I don’t think I have celebrated it much other than by myself or with my family. A couple maybe with friends, like 2 or 3 in number.

I’m trying my level best to remember birthdays of mine during my 20s. Other than my 29th birthday which for some reason I remember a lot and I celebrated it all alone at home. It was also just a few months after my dog Shawny had died and I was not really into celebrating the birthday. But I had a nice day at home and at the bar and I guess that’s why I remember it a lot.

Since then none have been very memorable. The last 6 years I have been either buying a cake or my sister/niece get me one. I order food and we eat as a family. Nothing else has been happening. I guess I need a special birthday some year soon.

Prompt from 30 Best September Journal Prompts for 2022 at Lifegram.com

Five Benefits That Owning A Dog Gives You

Lower stress: Studies have shown that petting a dog or cat can release the oxytocin hormone and decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in a more relaxed state. Incidentally, scientists have confirmed that dogs reap the same benefits from being petted. In recent years, dogs have been brought into airports, nursing homes, even school campuses to help relieve stress and pressure.

Healthier hearts: A study dating back to the 80s found that touching or even talking to a dog can lead to lower blood pressure. In 2002, another study found that married couples who owned a pet had significantly lower heart rates and blood pressure levels than people without pets. Furthermore, in 2003, the American Journal of Cardiology published a reported that claims heart attack survivors who own pets are eight times more likely to live another year if they own a pet.

More active lifestyles: Need to amp up those steps or drop a few pounds? Owning a dog may be the kick-start you need. A 2011 study by Michigan State University researchers found that 60% of dog owners who walked their pets regularly met the recommended criteria for regular exercise. “There appears to be a strong link between owning and walking a dog and achieving higher levels of physical activity, even after accounting for the actual dog walking,” said epidemiologist Mathew Reeves, who led the study.

Fewer feelings of loneliness: From feeling obligated to get out of the house to walk their dogs as well as attracting attention by the presence of a dog, people who own dogs are proven to be less lonely. A study published in 1993 found that “dog owners reported significantly less dissatisfaction with their social, physical and emotional states.” Recently, researchers at the University of British Columbia, Canada, determined that homesick college students could benefit from dog therapy.

Fewer allergies: According to the Department of Pediatrics, infants in homes with dogs are significantly less likely to develop allergies. “Children who had a dog at home as newborns were much less likely to have allergic dermatitius (12% versus 27%) and wheezing (19% versus 36%) by their third birthday,” the department claims. Also, researchers are examining whether the bacteria in dogs’ mouths may have a probiotic-like effect on humans after licking their owners.

Midnight Mass

Midnight Mass is an American supernatural horror streaming television miniseries created and directed by Mike Flanagan and starring Zach Gilford, Kate Siegel, Hamish Linklater, Samantha Sloyan, Rahul Kohli, Kristin Lehman, and Henry Thomas. The plot centers on an isolated island community that experiences supernatural events after the arrival of a mysterious priest. A young man returns to his isolated hometown on Crockett Island, hoping to rebuild his life after serving four years in prison for killing someone in a drunk-driving incident. He arrives at the same time as a mysterious, charismatic young priest who begins to revitalise the town’s flagging faith. However, the community’s divisions are soon exacerbated by the priest’s deeds while mysterious events befall the small town.

Soho Berry From The Brooklyn Creamery

Ice cream and healthy? he healthy ice cream brand, The Brooklyn Creamery is one such brand that aims to give you such. The Brooklyn Creamery started out in 2020 as a small brand that offered healthy desserts. From the family that started Kwality Ice Creams and later who brought Baskin n Robbins to India, the great-grandson has come up with this unique brand that focuses on his own interest of healthy eating.

Offering 50% less calories than usual, Brooklyn is now available in 13 cities in India, including Cochin, and also has outlets in UAE & Saudi Arabia. You can order them via Swiggy or Zomato as well and the packaged ones are available via e-grocers like BigBasket, Zepto, Swiggy’s Instamart as well as some physical retailers as well.

The Soho Berry ice cream is the first one that I had tried. A berry-full low calorie ice cream swirled with strawberry, raspberry and blueberry. Naturally sweetened with no added sugar. 75 calories, no artificial sweeteners, no preservatives with 60% less fat. But it tastes really good.

Where do you like to the listen to music? Why?

Where do you like to the listen to music? Why?

I have always enjoyed listening to music in my bedroom. Back in my family house in Thrikkakara I first had one bedroom, a smaller one facing the front of the house and I used that from 1987 till 1997 – ages 11 to 21. Since my sister had moved out post her wedding in 1995, I soon started storing my music albums in the cupboards of my sister’s now vacant room and soon that became my new bedroom. These two places is where I loved to play music the most. We also had a spare room which was our library and my computer room. I would take my stereo system from the bedroom and place them there for a while as while as I could listen to music while I played on my desktop.

I also used to play a lot of songs on my walkman. Every trip we took, every summer vacation stay in my grandmother’s house and spending time with my cousins, and sometimes even when I would spend the day in the city, my walkman was with me. I must have drained 1000s of batteries in the course of a decade or more listening to all that music on my walkman. When I lived in Bangalore for a year at the age of 19 I had these rechargeable batteries and I got a second pair just so I could listen to music as much as I could as it was my only source of happiness while living in a hostel.

Nowadays I listen to music in two ways – on my Smartphone with earphones or my new ear pods and playing the songs on my laptop and external speaker. I have my mp3s and I have Youtube for my laptop and I have Spotify & Prime Music for my phone. It’s all good and I can listen to music as much as I want.

Prompt from 20 Music Journal Ideas for Young Writers at Journal Buddies

RIP Louise Fletcher

Louise Fletcher, the imposing, steely-eyed actress who won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe Award for her role as the tyrannical Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, died on Friday at her home in the town of Montdurausse, in Southern France. She was 88. The death was confirmed by her agent, David Shaul, who did not cite a cause. Ms. Fletcher also had a home in Los Angeles.  She was also well-known for her recurring role as the Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn Adami in the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–99), as well as for her role as Helen Rosemond in the movie Cruel Intentions (1999).

Born in Alabama to two deaf parents, she was initially taught by her aunt. She was nominated for two Emmy Awards for her roles in the television series Picket Fences (1996) and Joan of Arcadia (2004). Her final role was as Rosie in the Netflix series Girlboss (2017). Fletcher began appearing in several television series including Lawman (1958) and Maverick (1959) before her two guest roles in Perry Mason in 1960. She was a relatively unknown 40 year old when she was cast as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).

Since then he made several financially and critically successful films, while others were box-office failures. Her roles in more successful films such as Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Lady in Red (1979), Firestarter (1984), Invaders From Mars (1986), Flowers in the Attic (1987), Two Moon Junction (1988), Virtuosity (1995) and Cruel Intentions (1999, as Sebastian’s aunt). Additionally, she played the character Ruth Shorter, a supporting role, in Aurora Borealis (2005), alongside Joshua Jackson and Donald Sutherland, and appeared in the Fox Faith film The Last Sin Eater (2007). She also was in tv movies but her most famous role on tv was as the recurring role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the scheming Bajoran religious leader Kai Winn Adami.

Let me tell you something – I will always associate her as Adami (I have also watched her in Flowers In The Attic & Exorcist II: The Heretic. And I, like most people hate the character. That is a credit to her acting; she really played that role so well. Similarly in Flowers In The Attic she plays another character that I despise but man what a talented actress. I feel a profound sadness on the loss.

Reasons Why Some People Do Not Use Smartphones

There are primarily a few reasons as to why people don’t use smartphones

Technology limit : Don’t know how to use them: this will be the most common type that you’ll find. These are mostly senior citizens who are way old to adapt to the new technology.

Affordability : There are some people who simply can’t afford it: let’s face it, most smartphones are not cheap. They are surely costlier than using a regular basic phone. People below the poverty line or those who have income below $1 a day can’t afford.

Not allowed to : usually these are people who are working in a closed environment where data security is the top priority. If they spend a lot of time in such an environment then they might only be allowed a basic phone for communication. Or they are not allowed to communicate with outside people for certain number of days until the necessary task is carried out or when they clock out. In such a situation, they might choose to not keep two phones and instead only use the basic one.

Skeptical of using one : Very less people belong to this category. These are people who know the fullest potential of a smartphone and it’s ability to break into user privacy. They know the darkest and unethical secrets of the smartphone world and choose to avoid getting trapped into it.

Anti-technology : Admittedly some people are technophobes, Luddites for those of you who understand the term, people who have no use for high tech devices. Certainly, the Amish have been living for a long time without technology and life does seem to function for them.

Reaching Out To Those Who Cannot Voice Themselves!

There are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide and 300 different sign languages. Only two percent of deaf people have access to sign language education. The United Nations day is to raise awareness of the importance of sign language for deaf people’s human rights. To support the development and preservation of sign language, the International Day of Sign Languages is celebrated annually on September 23. As the name suggests, this day aims to spread awareness regarding the importance of sign language in the realization of the human rights of people who are deaf.

This year will mark the fifth such celebration which seeks to encourage early access to sign language and services such as quality education among the community. My interaction with deaf and/or mute people has been very little. Back in 1999 the sister of a friend used to meet up with a bunch of us and she had lost her voice as a child in an accident. So she could hear very well but her vocal chords were badly damaged and hence she used sign language. Other than here, I have met a couple of guys in Bangalore way back in 1995, who were both deaf & mute.

Other than that I haven’t met anyone from the community. Back in early 2020, I was supposed to take a session for around 25 young folks as part of an outreach program we had at the office, a skills enhancement sessions for some young folks who were speech and hearing impaired and I wasn’t sure how I would be able to contribute to conducting a learning session for them. However on the actual day I found out that it was instead folks with various motor impairments. While I was able to take the session easily, had it been the hearing impaired I would have been provided with an interpreter. It made me think, maybe I should try and learn sign language so I could communicate with them if the opportunity arose.

Five Benefits Of Eating Blueberries

1) Maintaining healthy bones : Blueberries contain iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K. Each of these is a component of bone. Adequate intake of these minerals and vitamins contributes to building and maintaining bone structure and strength. Iron and zinc fulfil crucial roles in maintaining the strength and elasticity of bones and joints. Low intakes of vitamin K have been linked to a higher risk of bone fracture. However, adequate vitamin K intake improves calcium absorption and may reduce calcium loss.

2) Skin health : Collagen is the support system of the skin. It relies on vitamin C as an essential nutrient, and works to help prevent skin damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke. Vitamin C may also improve collagen’s ability to smooth wrinkles and enhance overall skin texture. One cup of blueberries provides 24 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.

3) Lowering blood pressure : Maintaining low sodium levels is essential to keeping blood pressure at a healthful level. Blueberries are free of sodium. They contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Some studies have shown that diets low in these minerals are associated with higher blood pressure. Adequate dietary intake of these minerals is thought to help reduce blood pressure.

4) Managing diabetes : Studies have found that people with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have low blood glucose levels, and people with type 2 diabetes who consume the same may have improved blood sugar, lipid, and insulin levels. One cup of blueberries contributes 3.6 grams (g) of fiber. A large 2013 cohort study published in the BMJ suggested that certain fruits may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults. Over the course of the study, 6.5 percent of the participants developed diabetes. However, the researchers found that consuming three servings per week of blueberries, grapes, raisins, apples or pears reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 7 percent.

5) Protecting against heart disease : The fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient content in blueberries supports heart health. The absence of cholesterol from blueberries is also beneficial to the heart. Fiber content helps to reduce the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease. Vitamin B6 and folate prevent the buildup of a compound known as homocysteine. Excessive buildup of homocysteine in the body can damage blood vessels and lead to heart problems.

According to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia, in the United Kingdom (U.K.) regular consumption of anthocyanins can reduce the risk of heart attack by 32 percent in young and middle-aged women. The study found that women who consumed at least three servings of blueberries or strawberries per week showed the best results.

20 Years Of Blogging : From Sporadic Posts On Blogspot To Daily Blogs On WordPress

How did you get started blogging? Tell your readers about the day you decided to become a blogger.

Way back in time, in the wonderful year of 2001 I started going to internet cafes a lot and spending a few hours each week browsing the internet and I started reading a few blogs. The blogs I read kept me entertained and I was finding myself spending more and more time reading them. Having kept and maintained personal journals from the age of 15, which was way back in 1991, I wanted to create a blog of my own soon.

By October of 2002 I had decided to create one even if it was sporadically at first that I could enter posts. Moving to a new city back in July of that year also meant that I would have new experiences to share as I was living on my own in a lodge. And initially it was more like updates of what I did, how the work was going, how living on a very tiny budget was like and how I was basically getting along. I would come back home most weekends so that was usually the time that I would find time to enter a few lines of a post on my blog.

l like blogging as it brings out my creative side. It is an outlet and it is I also try to be as honest as I can on my blog. I don’t hold back – well maybe I might tone down the language a bit, even though I have thrown in a few choice words many times. Yet it is still very tame when I compare it with what I say when I get angry or think. I also try to post as much positive things as I can and keep it varied. It’s like a release from the day to day life and a way that I also let my frustration out.

If I didn’t blog and use it as a therapy for myself, I might actually go a bit angry and nuts at things that happen to and around me along the week. Even sometimes at home, when I get pissed off because of family, even if I may not blog about that exact incident, I do find that blogging keeps me from acting out.


The Handful Of Black Male Artists In My Music Collection – Part 1

So a year ago I wrote a post about the lack of Black female singers in my music collection. I listed only two singers who I have enough music from, enough songs from, and who I love, though I do like some songs from other artists. Now it’s the turn of the men. There’s a lot more in this list as there are more Black make singer/musicians who create the kind of music that I do like to listen to. Let’s start to look at the main ones in my collection.

First up is bluesman Robert Cray. The first I had ever heard about Cray was in an article in a magazine about his mentor Eric Clapton. Curious to know about the guitarist mentioned in the article, I went to a music store back in 1992 (I was 16 years old) and saw that there was a cassette of Cray’s 1992 release I Was Warned and I bought that. It soon became a staple in my stereo system and later on I bought the CD and a few other of his albums. Born in 1953, in Columbus, Georgia to a military family Cray’s musical beginnings go back to when he was a student and by the time he was 20 he had seen his heroes Albert Collins, Freddie King and Muddy Waters in concert and decided to form his own band; they began playing college towns on the West Coast.

In the late 1970s he lived in Eugene, Oregon, where he formed the Robert Cray Band and by the early 80s he was steadily making albums and touring, joining other Blues based musicians, playing with Chuck Berry & Tina Turner and opening for Eric Clapton. Cray has generally played Fender guitars (Telecasters and Stratocasters) and there are two signature Robert Cray Strat models available from Fender. His success continued in the 90s and past the 2000s and in his late 60s he still tours and makes new music and is highly popular in the Blues rock scene.

Up next is Living Colour. Although I first heard of the band a few years earlier than Cray, it would take me until 1993 to get my hands on some of their music. I first heard of the all-Black American band back in the summer vacations of 1989 when on a chart program show my cousin & I saw the video for the band’s biggest hit Cult Of Personality off their 1988 debut album Vivid. Over the next couple of years I would see the videos for this song and Glamour Boys once in a while on tv but in 1993 I was finally able to buy both this album and their 1993 release Stain., which was the first with their current bassist Doug Wimbish.

A compilation albums of their hits plus some unreleased songs were released including the cover of Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love, which also had a video as it was supposed to be released on Stain. While singer Corey Glover, drummer Wil Calhoun & guitarist Vernon Reid concentrated on their solo careers and albums, the older Wimbish continued being a much in demand sideman for other artists like Joe Satriani, Annie Lennox, Carly Simon as well as releasing 2 solo albums. The band reunited in 2003 and have released 3 more albums and have toured a lot in support of the albums and will be soon releasing a new one soon.

About Blogging Full-time And Why I Can’t Do It For Now

Write about blogging full-time. If you aren’t already a full-time blogger, is it something you’d ever aspire to do?

I wish I could do that. Well I could but I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. See during the time of November 2018 till August of 2020 I was getting a lot of money from sponsored posts that I was getting from mainly 2 agencies. They would send me content and images on various topics, with links to their clients’ business website and I could make some changes to the format and the images if I wanted to and then upload it within 48 hours. It was a good side business for that time and I got some nice chunk of cash for the little work that I did. It was very stable for a while and even during the first few months of the pandemic I was getting a steady flow of side income.

If only that had continued. To be honest I was hoping that there would be 1 or 2 more agencies who could give me steady work to do as I wanted to branch out but it didn’t happen. I did manage to get one more agency to give me some stuff to do but it isn’t paying much. If I had the same flow of posts and articles, and especially the money for doing so, that I had especially during the first 6 months of 2020, I would so quit my job as they pay would be more than what I am currently getting as my salary – almost double what I am getting paid.

So yeah I would so love to do that and get paid to blog full time. As in 2-3 posts per day and get a nice big fat cheque at the end of the month for it. Who gets cheques anymore – a nice load of money into my bank account via PayPal (which is how I have been getting paid) every month so I can afford to quit my regular job and live the comfortable life as GBP & USD into INR is always  very beneficial for us.


5 Weird Laws In The Philippines

You can “legally” kill people : Under Article 247 of the Revised Code, anyone “who having surprised his spouse in the act of committing sexual intercourse with another person, shall kill any of them or both of them in the act or immediately thereafter, or shall inflict upon them any serious physical injury, shall suffer the penalty of destierro.” Likewise, the article also applies to parents “with respect to their daughters under eighteen years of age, and their seducer, while the daughters are living with their parents.”

The State Will Do Its Darndest To Get a Couple To Stay Married : Ever wonder why, Catholic culture notwithstanding, it’s so hard for couples to get away from loveless or hopeless marriages in the Philippines? It is because the State is mandated to do so according to Section 2, Article XV of the 1987 Constitution which states that “marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.” The State will always be the third party in any marriage between individuals.

Annoying People Can Be Charged for Being Merely Annoying : The second paragraph of Article 287 states that “any other coercion or unjust vexations shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine ranging from 5 pesos to 200 pesos, or both.” Both legal experts and laymen have condemned unjust vexation as an ambiguous catch-all provision with no specific meaning, merely something to charge annoying people with.

Women get charged with adultery, men get charged with concubinage : One look at Article 333 and 334 of the Revised Penal Code and you can see why the law tends to be stacked against women. Charging a husband for an extra-marital affair in court is infinitely harder to prove since the woman has to prove any or all of the following:

a. He has kept a mistress in the conjugal dwelling.

b. He shall have sexual intercourse with a woman who is not his wife under scandalous circumstances.

c. He shall cohabit with her in any other place.

And even when the husband is convicted, he will at most serve a sentence of only six months to four years while his mistress would only be slapped with destierro or banishment. On the other hand, proof of sexual intercourse between his wife and another man is all a husband needs to charge them both with adultery which can carry a penalty of two to six years.

Immigration Laws Are Ridiculously Ancient : Commonwealth Act No. 613 or the immigration law reeks of antiquity, considering it was made and implemented in 1940. Among the many outdated sections include Section 29-A which denies entry to foreigners suffering from insanity, loathsome or dangerous contagious diseases, or epilepsy. It also excludes paupers, vagrants, beggars, or persons who practice polygamy or who believe in or advocate the practice of polygamy. A bill right now is being pushed to update this decades-old law.

Rock Concerts Of The Years Gone By

During my teenage years I used to go to a bunch of rock concerts held in my hometown of Kochi. Most were by bands from Kerala who played solely covers of famous hard rock & metal bands. A couple of them were big names at the time in India – 13 AD from Cochin and Shiva from Calcutta – both long since disbanded.

There were many others for a while since I turned 15 a couple of my cousins and I went to almost all of them. Despite no internet or any promotion from radio or tv, we would get to know about the concerts atleast a few days in advance and ensure that we would go and see them on the Friday or Saturday nights that the event would happen in. Most were open air concerts in one of the small stadiums we had at the time but there were a few that were held in closed venues as well. We went for all of them and had a great time singing along with the songs that we knew and would usually head to the cold drink stalls during the ones that we didn’t know.

When I moved to Bangalore for a year back in 1995 I also went to two awesome concerts held there and one of them had two established bands from India. Those were really awesome but unfortunately I have never been able to see an international act in my life, despite several coming to India since then. Someday I hope to see one of my fav bands live.