Monday, January 27, 2014

Scottish Rite Club of Hamilton & Frozen Niagara

There was an open-house at Scottish Rite Club, Queen Street, Hamilton.

This 'farmhouse' originally built by James Mills in 1820 was later modified in 1895 by George T. Tuckett.

We ventured out in the freezing wind to have a glimpse inside this mansion.

The woodwork was elegantly rustic, and their majestic cathedral used for masonic ceremonies was breath taking. They have all-inclusive wedding packages.

Our trip to ‘frozen’ Niagara last month was enjoyable too. My video of frozen Niagara went ‘mini’ viral following news about frozen Niagara in BBC website. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

10 ways by which cosmetic companies sell time machines

Mouse embryonic stem cells. More lab photos
Mouse embryonic stem cells. More lab photos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. The actual formula will be a secret. (Our secret (patent pending) collagen stimulant........)
  2. A simple working principle. (peptides stimulating collagen, catalase improving melanization.)
  3. A reference to an unrelated article from a highly reputed journal. (Rheological properties of peptides from Chemical Society Reviews, H2O2-mediated oxidative stress from Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.)
  4. Anecdotal reports of extreme efficacy. The reports will include skin types of big asian markets.
  5. Creator of the product will be a non doctor (or a PhD in ornithology), mostly a middle aged good looking lady with a sexy name. (Amanda or Catherine).
  6. Successful animal studies. (Mice improving their looks in just one application, Chimpanzees becoming fair after one treatment)
  7. Proclamation of research community as a bunch of goons. (Millions wasted on stem cell research while Ms. Amanda isolated stem cells from the apple in her garden that could make you immortal.)
  8. A fictitious doctor in a posh locality saving the lives of millions. (Dr Smith in Las Vegas, Nevada has found Ms Amanda’s stem cells highly effective for her million patients.........)
  9. Claims not in line with the proposed mechanism of action. (Amanda’s apple stimulates your T-cells thereby making your skin look young and healthy.)
  10. Proclamation of doctors as a failed lot. (Dermatologists do not have a cure for grey hair. Your only hope is Amanda’s apple.)

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Palli Perunnal to Festival of Lights

Went for the festival of lights at the waterfront yesterday, marking the beginning of Xmas celebrations. Was it impressive? Well, not for someone who has seen  കുഴികട്ടുശ്ശേരി പള്ളി പെരുന്നാൾ , അയ്യപ്പൻ കാവ്‌ ഉത്സവം and Kombodinjamakkal ചന്ദനക്കുടം.  :)

Sinu asked me a question there, that every wife asks the husband many times. What are my favourite dishes (Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana - style)? (Excluding the ones she cooks). My answer was quick: My Mom’s chicken, Mother in law’s pork and Geeta Aunty’s Beef. Here are the reasons why: My Mom adds tomato sauce to chicken fry giving it a unique flavour. My Mother in law adds പെരുംജീരകം instead of ordinary ജീരകം to pork. Geeta Aunty uses a unique breed of beef found only in Aloor and bought from the slaughter house near Aloor gate!

 Some tastes stay with you forever!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kerala among top ten holiday destinations!

Kerala Temple Festival
Kerala Temple Festival (Photo credit: beapen)
Lonely Planet has named Kerala among the world's 10 best family destinations in 2014. This is a historic moment, and an opportunity to help the reeling economy of the state badly battered by the returning expatriates. But are we (and our leaders) ready to embrace this opportunity?

I have blogged about our power crisis and promised one on our waste management crisis, which I could not deliver. Do the rating organizations take our problems also into consideration before we are added to the elite club that includes New York City, Denmark, Prague, Iceland, Italy and Hawaii?

Our homestay industry is another example of gross mismanagement. A quintessential malayalee expatriate (ഗൾഫ്‌ കാരൻ) always builds a big house, that invariably remains unused or converted into a homestay. So Kerala is replete with homestays everywhere that are mostly not licensed. It is important that homestays are regulated as it can raise several security issues. But the present system is neither suitable for effective regulation nor effective data collection on foreign visitors. These are the things you need if you decide to register your homestay legally. (From the kerala tourism website)
English: From the backwaters in Kerala.
English: From the backwaters in Kerala. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Prescribed application form duly filled in.
  • Proof of ownership/lease of the building.
  • Location plan showing access to the building from the major roads (need not be scale.
  • Plan and elevation of the existing building.
  • Plan and elevation of the building incorporating the proposed alteration, if required, certified by a qualified engineer.
  • Photographs of the building, including interiors.
  • Police clearance certificate from the Local Station House Officer.
  • The department has prescribed regulatory conditions to be abided by promoters of classified projects. The promoters should furnish the acceptance of these regulatory conditions in the prescribed form. The regulatory conditions and proforma of acceptance is appended along with the application proforma.   

English: Backwater in Kerala, India
English: Backwater in Kerala, India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are lucky, you may receive a registration in 6 months, that is valid for 2 years. And here is the most absurd part. After 2 years, you have to go through the process again, submit all the above documents again, for renewing the registration. Once you register, you have to upload your visitor statistics using a system, that is even difficult for a tech savvy person like me to use. On top of that Kerala Water Authority will impose commercial rate on your homestay, even if it is unused. The red tape is killing an industry that accounts for 15-20 per cent of the State’s tourism industry.

Hope Kerala's tourism minister AP. Anilkumar and the Kerala Tourism director S. Harikishore will take note of this. Hope they can bring many more tourists to ദൈവത്തിന്ടെ സ്വന്തം നാട്.

Thanks Dr +Ashique K T for the beautiful pictures of Kerala!

Friday, November 01, 2013

15 Cosmetological emergencies: Presentation and management.

Beauty Girl Surprise.
Beauty Girl Surprise. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After helping out the burgeoning cosmetic dermatology brands with 30 tips, I have compiled this clinically important list for effective ‘client’ management.

  1. My friend says, my face is not symmetrical after fillers. (Send your friend to an ophthalmologist.)
  2. OMG, I have a zit. (Call 911)
  3. I lost 101 hairs today. You said upto 100 is normal, but... (Tie the last 2 and count again.)
  4. My Melasma is still the same after 12 peels. (You need another 12)
  5. I became pregnant while on laser treatment. (Fire the laser operator)
  6. My eyebrows did not lift after your botox. (Your doctors eyebrows did)
  7. I have gained weight after starting your treatment. (Don’t worry we have a slimming plan)
  8. I got hair on my face after mesotherapy. (You are an ideal candidate for laser)
  9. I lost hair after laser. (You are an ideal candidate for mesotherapy)
  10. I applied the day cream at night and vice versa. (Oh don’t worry, All are same, only the colour is different)
  11. I was exposed to sun when I opened the door to let my husband in. (You may need post exposure prophylaxis, and please keep your husband out.)
  12. I think I have a heart attack. (Please come immediately to pay your dues)
  13. I look sick and tired in the mirror. (Change your mirror after the treatment)
  14. My friend says I have worsened after your treatment. (Send your friend to our competitor)
  15. My husband says you are too expensive. (Oh these men, why are they always sensible?)

Have I missed any?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an ending is a Man Booker prize winning novel by Julian Barnes, that I read recently. Ending of ‘the sense of an ending’ did not make much sense to me, and I later realized from some other blogs that I was not alone. I am not a critique, not even a regular fiction reader. Here is my take on the ending. If you have not read the book till now, look away and go to the library.

Adrian was the most mature and intelligent member of Tony’s clique. Hyper-mature Adrian fell in love with a hyper-mature woman (Sarah) who had a husband, daughter (Veronica) and a son (I forgot the name). So here is the equation:

Man Booker Prize
Man Booker Prize (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Adrian was in love with Sarah.
Tony was in love with Veronica.
Veronica was in love with Tony.
Tony was Adrian’s friend.
Tony introduced Veronica to Adrian.

At this point Sarah knows everyone, though everyone doesn’t know this. So Sarah gave some hints to Tony, that impressed him.

Sarah leaves her husband.
Sarah marries Adrian.
Veronica and Tony split up.
At this point Adrian is Veronica’s step-father.

Adrian writes a letter to Tony that he is in love with Veronica to show him her true worth and probably to instil jealousy, for which he receives a spiteful reply. Adrian basically wanted to bring them together again.

Adrian fathers a child (veronica’s brother) who happens to be downs and commits suicide.
Veronica doesn’t want to give Adrian’s diary that explains everything to Tony.
Veronica still wears the red glass ring that Tony gave her. (of course Tony doesn’t remember this!)

If you are in doubt, read the equation in the book again…


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

DSL woes

English: DSL cable into modem
English: DSL cable into modem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ok, Here is how you get internet connection where I lived before. Just call the ISP, they will send a technician the next day with a fibro-optic modem, and you are online. The line never drops and the quality is good. If you face any problems call the ISP’s call centre and they will sort it out for you. If they cannot do it over the phone, they will send someone to your home to sort things out.

Now here is how I received internet connection in my new home, half way across the globe. I called an ISP and selected a plan. After one week, I received the DSL modem in the mail. Few days later, a technician from another company came to give the connection (BTW, we share the same name. The company and me, not the technician). The technician gave us a “dry line” connection and connected the modem. The dsl light kept flashing with no internet. The technician called the original ISP, but they did not respond. He told me that his job is done and advised me to contact the original ISP to sort things out and he left.

A DSL Modem
A DSL Modem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So I called the original ISP. They asked me to wait for 24 hours. Nothing changed after a day and I called them again. They said the problem may be with the line inside the house. 2 weeks of no internet was too much of a first world problem to bear, so I got into the DIY troubleshooting mode. I read about dsl and realized that certain home appliances can potentially interfere with signal which incidentally shares the higher frequency band of your normal telephone line. So I switched off all electrical appliances except the fridge. I inverted the chord and tried to keep it as straight as possible. Reset the modem several times. But the light kept blinking and blinking……….

Finally after few hours of desperate trouble shooting, I checked the telephone socket. The ISP support guys never asked me to see inside the socket. I noticed that the contacts inside had some rust on it. I cleaned the contacts with my deodorant and q-tips and voila.. it started working. So if your dsl is giving you problems, don’t forget to look inside the socket. Your q-tips may come handy to clean inside.

Later I started facing another problem. After about a day of trouble free connection, the internet becomes very slow. I googled for probable causes and found that it could be due to faulty memory management by the modem firmware. There was no option for a firmware upgrade. Now I switch off the modem before going to sleep, so that it will work trouble free in the morning. Somebody had suggested using a garden timer to reset the modem at a specific time of the day, the most ingenious solution I could find.

In the country where I lived before, the ISP had different problems though the connection was stable and the support was good. If you get billed extra by mistake, you are screwed. You have no rights as a consumer. I once got charged extra (by a huge margin) for a mobile data service. I took the bill to their service centre and they accepted their mistake. But I received the same bill next month and I did the same again. Following month I received a notice from their lawyers for not paying the bills! There the ISP has the right to decide what you should not see on the net and such sites are blocked. But that is another story

BTW, does your dsl give you problems?