Friday, February 29, 2008


It has been such a long time since I last played futsal. I injured my back (ruptured 2 discs on my backbone) while playing sometime in 2007 and I have not been able to return to the game ever since. Well, honestly, I attempted to, but I actually aggravated the injury further. So, I had been undergoing physio, chiro sessions and I have been doing my own physio exercises at home.

By God's grace, I do feel a lot better after the continuous gym work-outs I have been doing. Oh yeah, I will be returning to the gym soon. Will be starting gym work from Monday onwards. I've been eating a lot and I can feel myself tightening up. So, it is time to lose all those unwanted baggage I'm carrying around.

I suggested to the guys to play futsal and everyone agreed unanimously. In fact, last week we played basketball. It is a good work out, especially now that we hardly exercise. My only exercise is walking with Caesar and Vasco, well, actually running with them. I had started the jog with the boys about 2 months back and I am still doing it, but it is nothing like futsal. So, we have managed to book the court and we will be playing tonight after work. Can't wait for it.

Hope we can keep this up. At least a good 2 hours cardio work out every Friday after work.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Top 10 Worst Hereditary Conditions....

Just after I had my bath this afternoon, I looked at myself in the mirror and, hmmm, I'm balding man. Well, not that I didn't realise it all this while, but it shows as if I am heading towards the horizon. Honestly, I am actually thankful that my dad has the same balding problem as I am. Now you see, Appa is also balding, now his balding is from the forehead onwards. So, the both of us have a reclining balding from forehead. I'd rather be balding from the forehead than balding from right in the middle of the head. Appa covers it by combing his hair to the front, so, 'cover-line' la. But if you were balding from the middle on the top of your head, how are you supposed to cover it? So, I am thankful.

As usual I was on my favourite site and I came across this other top 10. Now, I know I am getting a bit carried away with all the top 10s you see below, but these are issues that affects us every day. I believe everyone will benefit from the articles, statistics and studies. Unfortunately, that family inheritance doesn't always come in a pretty package. You can thank your parents for zits, hair loss, and deadly diseases - among the hereditary conditions that one lives with.

So, enjoy it people....

Although baldness is common in men, scientists don't understand much about why so little is going on up there. Genes do play a role, but your mom is not the only one at fault. Baldness is likely due to abnormalities in several genes from one or both parents. People with a rare type of permanent baldness called alopecia universalis, lose hair all over their bodies and carry defective 'hairless' genes.

Lactose Intolerance
The Chinese distaste for milk was thought to be a cultural one, until scientists in the 1960s discovered lactose intolerance in Asians, Africans, and southern Europeans. Within the past 10,000 years, a genetic change allowed the ability to digest milk to evolve, but only where dairy farming was the norm. If you can't tolerate milk, your relatives probably left cow udders alone.

Go ahead and fault your parents for your pimples. Studies have shown that many school-age boys with acne have a family history of the skin condition. As well, having parents who endured a bad case of zits makes one more likely to suffer from severe acne too.

Having Twins
Although identical twins are random events, fraternal twins pop up in families again and again. A mother doing double diaper duty carries a gene that makes her release multiple eggs during ovulation, called hyperovulation. Although a man who carries the gene will probably not father twins, passing the family trait to his daughter could make him a grandfather of twins. This is why twins sometimes appear to skip generations, even though there's no evidence that twins are more likely to occur every other generation.

Heart Disease
A family history of heart disease, diabetes, stroke or high blood pressure isn't good for your heart. Children of parents with heart and blood vessel diseases are more likely to develop them too. Plus, a person with a congenital heart defect is slightly more likely to have a baby with a heart defect.

Super size fries and a heavy set of genes is a recipe for obesity. One scientific theory suggests the same genes that helped our ancestors survive famines are now working against people living in places where food is plentiful. Genes have been shown to be the cause of obesity disorders such as Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. Many of today's bulging waistlines have only to do with eating too much of the wrong foods, however - damn, that explains my constant struggle with my waist-line, need to lay off them McDs, Zinger burgers and my all time favourite supper after the entire night of drinking - BAK KUT TEH...mmmm, yummy.

Next time you're in the principal's office with a pink slip for roughhousing on the playground, point the finger at your family. A gene that increases an individual's risk for violence has been discovered. Researchers have also found aggressive behaviors in boys are more likely to be inherited than non-aggressive antisocial behaviors like stealing someone's lunchbox. But genes play a bigger role in female thieves.

Colour Blindness
Ten million men in the U.S. cannot distinguish red from green. Yet the disorder only affects less than 600,000 American women. Why? The genes for red and green receptors sit near each other on the X-chromosome. Men only have one X-chromosome, which they inherit from their mother. Meanwhile, women have two, and a normal gene can often balance out a defective one.

Breast Cancer
The cause of most breast cancers is still a mystery, however researches have discovered that mutations in particular genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, cause some cancers. Women who inherit the mutation tend to get cancer early in life and in both breasts. Men with BRCA1 have an increased risk of prostate cancer, while BRCA2 increases the likelihood of cancers in the male breast, prostate, pancreas, and elsewhere.

Children of alcoholics are not destined to be alcoholics too. But recent research reports about 50 percent of the risk for alcoholism is genetically determined. The environment accounts for the other risky half. The disease is considered genetically complex, meaning that several genes come into play and they can affect individuals differently. Now this is something that I choose to differ. Appa, hardly has a drink, EVER. But, then again, I am no alcoholic - I'm merely a good drinker, well a fairly good one I think. I don't have to drink every day, so yeah, in that case, true also la.

Cheers Appa, you've given me some really good genes. I just wished I got half of the brains you have. I have such huge respect for Appa - his qualification list is longer than his name. Lets see: His name is Archdeacon Canon Dr. S. Batumalai BD, M.Min, M.Phil (Islamic Studies) & PhD (Theology). Damn.....the man is smart! But, we can have everything. The little Appa has given me has been an enormous impact in my life. So, thank you Appa and Amma very much. Love you both to bits.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Top 10 Bad Things That Are Good For You....

This is really interesting. We must be clear about it that not all things that are bad are necessarily bad. Well, of course they have to be taken in moderation. So, I have to agree that some bad things are actually good for you. I know I will be indulging in some of them. So, please, do take it seriously. Hmmmm......

No.10 - Beer
The newest bad kid on the block, beer has long been overshadowed by its healthier alcoholic cousins. While no one's suggesting you switch that glass of antioxidant-rich Pinot Noir for a tall glass of lager there's still that beer gut to worry about new research has suggested that moderate beer intake can actually improve cardiovascular function. Now if only a scientist will discover the health benefits of ballpark franks and chicken wings. Heaven.

No.9 - Anger
If you're one of those people who tends to bottle things up, only to explode ... don't hold it in so long. Studies show that bursts of anger here and there are good for the health, and can be an even more effective coping mechanism than becoming afraid, irritated or disgusted. Anger, like the consumables in this list, however, is best in moderation: stay angry for long periods of time and you'll be plagued with a host of health issues, like blood pressure, sleep disorders and lung damage.

No.8 - Coffee
Java is one of the most debated substances around. Is it good for you? Is it bad for you? Both? The consensus, now anyways, seems to favor those who enjoy their morning jolt unrelated studies claim coffee is a major source of antioxidants in our diet and can help lower your risk of diabetes. Something in the beans is also thought to ease the onset of cirrhosis of the liver and pancreatitis, good news for those who like to party hard all night before their morning caffeine boost.

No.7 - LSD
We're definitely not in the business of advocating drug use. But check out this interesting science: In heavy drinkers, small doses of LSD have been thought to help bypass the rock-bottom stage of alcoholism and prevent relapses. These studies some decades old were done in closely monitored, clinical settings; many patients haven't had a drink in the many years since. It's an interesting finding that needs a lot more investigation, and not a remedy that should ever be tried at home. Meantimeeand this may come as no surpriseea recent study of 36 volunteers who took an LSD-like drug in a lab setting had them reporting mystical experiences and behavior changes that lasted for weeks.

No.6 - Sunlight
Exposure to the sun's rays is necessary to survive, but can also kill you in gross, cancerous quantities. Asthmatics, at least, could benefit from measured doses of ultraviolet rays, according to scientists. Sunlight suppressed the immune reactions that cause asthma in some lab studies with mice and could be used to treat humans afflicted with the disease in the future. And sunlight even if indirect, such as on a shaded porcheis known to boost the mood. Extra sunlight can help office workers avoid afternoon drowsiness, a recent study found. There's still no excuse to head outside and bake, however.

No.5 - Maggots
They're creepy, slimy and altogether ooky, but maggots can save your life. These squirmy larvae are science's newest wonder-cure and were approved in 2003 as the Food & Drug Administration's only live medical device. Placed on serious wounds, maggots mimic their "wild" lifestyle and munch on bacteria and dead tissue, stimulating healing and helping to prevent infection.

No.4 - Marijuana
It's medicinal, we swear! Marijuana, often associated with memory loss, is ironically now being hyped as a way to stave off the ultimate form of memory loss Alzheimer's. Recent studies on mice suggest that anti-inflammatories found in the drug prevent the clumping of brain proteins, one major cause of the disease. So when should you start preventative therapy? We suggest waiting for the human studies to wrap up.

No.3 - Red Wine
A crucial ingredient in the diets of the world's heart-healthiest populations like those Bordeaux-guzzling Frenchered wine has long been known to have potent anti-cancer and artery-protecting benefits. The key, some studies indicate, is an antioxidant found specifically in the skin of red wine grapes, called resveratrol. The latest studies even link resveratrol to greater endurance, a reduction in gum disease and Alzheimer's. White wine, which is fermented after the skins are removed, is less beneficial according to some studies.

No.2 - Chocolate
Chocolate lovers rejoice: study after study lately has touted the magical benefits of the indulgent treat, which is packed with the antioxidant flavonols that prevent certain cancers and keep your arteries from clogging. The most recent news? These powerful chemicals may even increase blood flow to the brain, warding off dementia. Just stick to the highest cocoa content possible the bars packed with sugar don't help your health one bit.

No.1 - Sex (Yeah baby, yeah!)
Scientists have found that the benefits of sex go beyond immediate, ahem, gratification and satisfying the goal of procreation. Besides the obvious evolutionary purposes, we can all take pleasure in the news that having sex is an easy way to reduce stress, lower cholesterol and improve circulation throughout the body. As if you needed another excuse.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

To My Dear Caesar & Vasco....

The poem below is specially dedicated to my lovely fur-kids. You both bring so much joy into my life.

I lie belly-up
In the sunshine, happier than
You ever will be

Today I sniffed
Many dog butts — I celebrate
By kissing your face

I sound the alarm! Paperboy — come to kill us all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I sound the alarm! Garbage man — come to kill us all —
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I lift my leg and....
Whiz on each bush. Hello, Spot —
Sniff this and weep

I hate my choke chain — Look, world, they strangle me!
AckAck Ack Ack Ack Ack!

Sleeping here, my chin on your foot — no greater bliss — well,
Maybe catching cats

Look in my eyes and deny it
No human could....
Love you as much I do

Woof Woof....

Monday, February 25, 2008

Red Devils 5 - Magpies 1

Good one eh!

From the time Rooney scored in the 25th, I had this gut feeling that it was going to be one of those nights. Being 0-2 up in the going into the 2nd half was comfortable enough - however, when 3 more came by the 90th minute, I couldn't ask for more. Superb play by Cristiano Ronaldo, again. If the players play the way they played on Sun morning, we have a good, or I must say a very good chance at winning the Premiership.

Having the Gunners draw against Birmingham City, we had a good chance of reducing their lead in the table. From a possible 8 point, we are currently down to 3 points. I hope we can continue our charge and keep winning all the matches. I have come to realise that it is not the big wins that enabled a team to win championships, but being consistent in every game. It is not easy to stay consistent - game after game. With all the injuries affecting every team as the season closes, it continually becomes tough on the managers to toggle between players and ensure they do not burn out.

It was sad to see how Eduardo da Silva was rushed into emergency surgery after a sickening tackle from Birmingham defender Martin Taylor in Saturday's Barclays Premier League match at St Andrews. According to the physio, Tim Allardyce, Eduardo was very lucky to have been immediately treated on the pitch as any delay in attending to such an injury would likely result in amputation. My deepest sympathies to the young star who had a very good season with the Gunners. I hope he recovers soon. We all know this is a serious injury and it takes approximately 9 months for full recovery. My sincere prayers goes out to you Eduardo.

Hope to see better games in the weeks to come and hopefully no more serious injuries like the above.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Amazing Things I Didn't Know About Animals....

Once again, I was on my favourite site - While I was just browsing for some updates on dolphins, I came across this interesting article. The title reads, '10 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Animals'. Well, I can bravely say that, these are 10 amazing things that even I did not know about these wonderful creatures. Check it out people!

Crocodiles Swallow Stones For Swimming
The stomach of a crocodile is a rocky place to be, for more than one reason. To begin with, a croc's digestive system encounters everything from turtles, fish and birds to giraffes, buffaloes, lions and even (when defending territory) other crocodiles. In addition to that bellyful-o'-ecosystem, rocks show up too. The reptiles swallow large stones that stay permanently in their bellies. It's been suggested these are used for ballast in diving.

Whale Milk Not On Low Fat Diet
Nursing a newborn is no "small" feat for the whale, whose calf emerges, after 10 to 12 months in the womb, about a third the mother's length (that's a 30-foot baby for the Blue whale). The mother squirts milk into the newborn's mouth using muscles around the mammary gland while the baby holds tight to a nipple (yes, whales have them). At nearly 50 percent fat, whale milk has around 10 times the fat content of human milk, which helps calves achieve some serious growth spurtseas much as 200 pounds per day.

Birds Use Landmarks To Navigate Long Journeys
Can you imagine a road trip vacation without missed exits, stubborn drivers or map-folding disasters? Of course noteyou're not a bird. Pigeons can fly thousands of miles to find the same roosting spot with no navigational difficulties. Some species of birds, like the Arctic tern, make a 25,000 mile round-trip journey every year. Many species use built-in ferromagnets to detect their orientation with respect to the Earth's magnetic field. A November 2006 study published in Animal Behaviour suggests that pigeons also use familiar landmarks on the ground below to help find their way home.

For Beavers, Day Gets Longer In Winter
Beavers become near shut-ins during winter, living off of previously stored food or the deposits of fat in their distinctive tails. They conserve energy by avoiding the cold outdoors, opting instead to remain in dark lodgings inside their pile of wood and mud. As a result these rodents, which normally emerge at sunset and turn in at sunrise, have no light cues to entrain their sleep cycle. The beaver's biological sense of time shifts, and she develops a "free running circadian rhythm" of 29-hour days.

Mole Rats Aren’t Blind
With their puny eyes and underground lifestyle, African mole-rats have long been considered the Mr. Magoos of rodents, detecting little light and, it has been suggested, using their eyes more for sensing changes in air currents than for actual vision. But findings of the past few years have shown that African mole-rats have a keen, if limited, sense of sight. And they don't like what they see, according to a report in the November 2006 Animal Behaviour. Light may suggest that a predator has broken into a tunnel, which could explain why subterranean diggers developed sight in the first place.

Baby Chicks And Brotherhood
It's a mistake to think of evolution as producing selfish animals concerned only with their own survival. Altruism abounds in cases where a helping hand will encourage the survival of genetic material similar to one's own. Baby chicks practice this "kin selection" by making a special chirp while feeding. This call announces the food find to nearby chicks, who are probably close relations and so share many of the chick's genes. The key to natural selection isn't survival of the fittest animal. It's survival of the fittest genetic material, and so brotherly behavior that favors close relations will thrive.

Many Fish, Swap Sex Organs
With so many land creatures to wonder at, it's easy to forget that some of the weirdest activities take place deep in the ocean. The strange practice of hermaphroditism is more common among species of fish than within any other group of vertebrates. Some fish change sex in response to hormonal cycle or environmental changes. Others simultaneously possess both male and female sex organs.

Giraffes Compensate For Height With Unique Blood Flow
The stately giraffe, whose head sits some 16 feet up atop an unlikely pedestal, adapted his long neck to compete for foliage with other grazers. While the advantage of reach is obvious, some difficulties arise at such a height. The heart must pump twice as hard as a cow's to get blood up to the brain, and a complex blood vessel system is needed to ensure that blood doesn't rush to the head when bent over. Six feet below the heart, the skin of the legs must then be extremely tight to prevent blood from pooling at the hooves.

Elephants Do Forget, But They’re Not Dumb
Elephants have the largest brain nearly 11 pounds on average of any mammal that ever walked the earth. Do they use that gray matter to the fullest? Intelligence is hard to quantify in humans or animals, but the encephalization quotient (EQ), a ratio of an animal's observed brain size to the expected brain size given the animal's mass, correlates well with an ability to navigate novel challenges and obstacles. The average elephant EQ is 1.88. (Humans range from 7.33 to 7.69, chimpanzees average 2.45, pigs 0.27.) Intelligence and memory are thought to go hand in hand, suggesting that elephant memories, while not infallible, are quite good.

Parrots Talk More Than Just Squawking
Parrot speech is commonly regarded as the brainless squawking of a feathered voice recorder. But studies over the past 30 years continually show that parrots engage in much more than mere mimicry. Our avian friends can solve certain linguistic processing tasks as deftly as 4-6 year-old children. Parrots appear to grasp concepts like "same" and "different", "bigger" and "smaller", "none" and numbers. Perhaps most interestingly, they can combine labels and phrases in novel ways. A January 2007 study in Language Sciences suggests using patterns of parrot speech learning to develop artificial speech skills in robots.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Well Done, Man Utd....

Some say that it should have been an easy win for Man Utd at Lyon. But we were playing against the best side in France and we were playing at their turf. The initial opener by Benzema was a classic strike by the young yet quickly maturing and accomplished striker. A very good goal, I must say. Going into the 2nd half 0-1 was a tough one. But the Devils stuck to their game plan and played some really exciting football.

A very smart move by SFA who introduced Nani and Tevez mid way of the 2nd half. This proved to be highly tactical as crosses were coming in, chances were being created and what do you know, Tevez scored the equaliser.

The return leg at the Theatre of Dreams will be a mouth watering encounter. So, till then, adios!

Glory Glory Man Utd!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Power Of Non-Violence....

A good friend of mine sent me this article. I call it Ghandism. Enjoy the read and kindly digest the very meaning of non-violence the author (Dr. Arun Ghandi) is trying to imply:

Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K.Gandhi Institute for Non-violence, in his June 9 lecture at the University of Puerto Rico , shared the following story:
I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa, in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbours, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies.

One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father asked me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced.

When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, "I will meet you here at 5:00 pm, and we will go home together."

After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6:00.

He anxiously asked me, "Why were you late?" I was so ashamed of telling him I was watching a John Wayne western movie that I said, "The car wasn't ready, so I had to wait," not realizing that he had already called the garage.

When he caught me in the lie, he said: "There's something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn't give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order to figure out where I went wrong with you, I'm going to walk home 18 miles and think about it."

So, dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads.

I couldn't leave him, so for five-and-a-half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through this agony for a stupid lie that I uttered. I decided then and there that I was never going to lie again.

I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at all. I don't think so. I would have suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing. But this single non-violent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday.

That is the power of non-violence.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Man Utd 4 - Arsenal 0

OMG! What a game it was over the weekend! I had not planned to go out on Sat as I wanted to just chill out at home, have my baked fish, a fruit punch (my all time favourite - Pineapple and ice-cream soda) and some chopped fruits. But, the boys wanted to go and chill, so I agreed. Since I am on abstinence (due to Lent) - well, to those who don't know, I am abstaining myself from red meat and any form of alcohol. I thought it would be difficult for me to get through it, but God has been very gracious. He has been guiding me to stay away from both of the above. Anyway, getting back to the game, we met at T-Club - watched the 2nd half of the Liverpool v Barnsley (1-2 loss, at Anfield) game and then on to the Man Utd v Arsenal game. I believe the star of the Liverpool v Barnsley game was the former Man Utd youngster - Luke Steele. The string of superb saves he made, kept the Championship outfit in the match. My deepest sympathies to the Pudlians, you deserve to at least qualify for the quarters. What a pity! I hope you guys will do well in the Champions League. Although I am an United die-hard, I have a special place in my heart for Liverpool - for its beautiful tradition in English football. It is sad the way the club is struggling at the moment. My very best to the Pudlians.

Among those present were: Paul Michael, Michelle, Peter Michael, Vikhram, Brenda, Remy and myself - oh yeah, I knew I missed out someone - there was another gentlemen, Michelle's friend.

It started off by the Red Devils attacking from all corners. My Men of the Match were Nani & Darren Fletcher. Although Portuguese got carried away with his snowboating skills, which were rather unnecessary, but he played exceptionally well. In fact, he was instrumental in the supplying of all the goals. It started off with Wayne Rooney, the one by Fletcher, a power strike by Nani just before half time and upon the commencement of the second half, another by Fletcher. I believe, the Gunners were thrashed to biscuits at the Theatre of Dream, or should I say 'The Gunners Were Gunned Down'. This is a very positive result for the Devils as we need to revive our spirits especially after the derby loss last weekend. This has inevidently revived the entire team.

It is my hope and prayer that none of the top 16 players get injured. It should be a good ending of the season. Now, I believe the Premiership can go anywhere between the likes of Arsenal (although I am not too sure about that after yesterday's performance), the Devils (of course) and the Blues (Chelsea). United cannot afford to lose any more games. We have lost enough games for this entire season. Now, it is just time to win and keep winning big. We need big goal differences as it may come down to goal differences - the way I see it.

This is a good preparation as we near the Champion League knock-out game on Wed against Lyon. Come on my dear United, let us dream the 'Treble Dream'. I believe we were exactly at this phase in 1999 when Roy Keane said, "The treble is a realistic dream". Let us do it again and be the ONLY club in Europe to win a treble 2 times in less than a decade.

Glory Glory Man Utd!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Time For Trivia....

I have been a huge fan of trivia, especially when it comes to general knowledge. It is always a pleasure to learn and of course to challenge myself on how much I know. Well, I was browsing through a few sites and I came across some facts that one may not have even thought about. Well, here are a few questions. Challenge yourself people, to see how much you know. If you get all the questions right, then you're a level above everyone else. Try it:-

Question 1:
Which country, about the size of Switzerland, has the world's highest unclimbed peak, has normally only one airplane in the country at any given time, has a population living in large houses where people eat lots of peppers and some beef and pork - although the religion prohibits killing animals within the country, has thousands of dogs allowed to bark all night so they can scare off evil spirits, has millions of marijuana plants growing wild, has no civil unrest or international enemies, has a national religion, which is a highly sexual form of Buddhism, and is a place where by law, almost everyone wears a robe, the men often adding argyle socks and dress shoes, while many elderly people climb mountains barefoot?

Question 2:
What country has almost no native plant life?

Question 3:
Which is the only Asian country never to have been occupied by a foreign power?

Question 4:
Which country has the highest percentage of its population incarcerated (yeah, yeah, I know some of you'll will ask me what this means - it means jailed or put in jail) ?

Question 5:
Which two capital cities in Africa have similar to the names of their respective countries?

Question 6:
What is the hottest place on Earth?

Question 7:
What is the coldest place on Earth?

Question 8:
How much space dust falls to Earth each year?

So, what was your score out of 8? I scored a 4/8. Among the toughest questions are Q2 and Q8. Anyway, the answers are below:-

Question 1:
Bhutan. This remarkable country has been described as Shangri-La. Many who have been there feel that it has just about the most splendid natural environment and precious culture left on the planet

Question 2:
Qatar. This desolate peninsular country on the Persian Gulf has managed to "green" itself only slightly with its oil revenue.

Question 3:
Thailand. The rest of East Asia has a long history of changing occupations. The USSR was both occupied and occupier: they were invaded by both Napoleon's and Hitler's army, but later controlled much of central Asia. Much of China's coast has also been under foreign domination, but now Tibet is under its rule. Holland colonized Indonesia; France controlled Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam; Spain ran the Philippines; and Britain dominated a huge area, from the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent and beyond. Japan was one of the last of the occupiers, starting with Korea and China and making its way down to South East Asia before being pushed back at the end of WWII. It was then, in turn, under U.S. occupation following the war.

Question 4:
The United States of America. More than 4 people per every 1000 are in jail, South Africa is a close second.

Question 5:
Tunis – Tunisia & Algiers – Algeria

Question 6:
El Azizia in Libya recorded a temperature of 136 degrees Fahrenheit (57.8 Celsius) on Sept. 13, 1922 - the hottest ever measured. In Death Valley, it got up to 134 Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913.

Question 7:
Far and away, the coldest temperature ever measured on Earth was -129 Fahrenheit (-89 Celsius) at Vostok , Antarctica, on July 21, 1983.

Question 8:
Estimates vary, but the USGS says at least 1,000 million grams, or roughly 1,000 tons of material enters the atmosphere every year and makes its way to Earth's surface. One group of scientists claims microbes rain down from space, too, and that extraterrestrial organisms are responsible for flu epidemics.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Appa is a historian. Having written 2 biographies and multiple history books, he stands as one of the most prolific writers of today. He loves history and to a certain extent he got me hooked to it as well. It is always endearing to read about how people lived their lives in the times' they were in and what were the circumstances in those days. While I was on one of my favourite sites, I came across this article. A very interesting article of why the man was called GREAT.

Here are the Top 10 Reasons Why Alexander The Great, was actually Great.

10. Trained In Philosophy By Aristotle
How many of history’s great leaders can claim to have had one of the great philosophers as their personal tutor? Out of all the intellectuals at the prestigious Academy in Athens, Alexander’s father, Philip, chose Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) to instruct his 13-year-old son. Aristotle, who had been the student of Plato, was offered a handsome salary to move to the town of Mieza, deep in the Macedonian countryside. In the nearby Temple of the Nymphs, Aristotle taught the young prince geography, zoology, politics and medicine. Alexander was greatly influenced by the philosopher’s teachings. On later military campaigns, Alexander brought scientists with him and sent plant and animal specimens back to his former mentor.

9. Tamed The Horse Bucephalus
Philip, Alexander's father, bought a horse called Bucephalus for the exorbitant price of 13 talents (1 talent = 27 kg of gold), but the rambunctious animal bucked all comers. Watching the futile attempts, Alexander noticed that the animal was frightened by its own shadow. He bet his father that he could mount the horse. By turning Bucephalus toward the sun so its shadow was behind it, Alexander was able to climb into the saddle and gallop around triumphantly. To which his father said: ‘My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedonia is too small for you.’ Bucephalus remained Alexander’s faithful steed until it died in what is now present-day Pakistan, fighting elephant-mounted brigades.

8. Assumed Father's Throne In Timely, But Ruthless, Manner
Alexander’s father, Philip, was stabbed by one of his bodyguards in 336 B.C. at a wedding banquet. Although few scholars think that Alexander was directly involved in the assassination, he wasted no time dispatching any possible rivals even instructing his mother, Olympias, to execute the infant son of Philip’s last wife. Alexander spent the next two years quelling rebellions in the lands conquered by his father. Thebes revolted on a false rumor that Alexander was dead. Showing no mercy, Alexander slaughtered or sold into slavery 30,000 inhabitants before leveling the city to the ground. By setting such an example, there were no significant uprisings in Greece during Alexander’s 12-year Asia campaign.

7. Perfected Macedonian Military Style, The Phalanx
The most distinctive element of the Macedonian war machine was the phalanx. Developed by Alexander’s father, the phalanx was a tight formation of soldiers usually 16 by 16 carrying shields and sarisses, which were 20-foot-long spears made of cornel-wood. The back rows of the phalanx held their sarisses upright, hiding the movement of forces behind the lines, while the front rows kept the enemy at bay with an impenetrable wall of sharp pikes. On flat terrain, the phalanx proved unbeatable. Alexander also had at his disposal light auxiliaries, archers, a siege train, and a cavalry. Thanks to his father, Alexander’s army was largely a professional one. In earlier times, Macedonians would stop fighting during the harvest, but Philip and Alexander paid the men enough that they could afford to be soldiers full-time. This meant they were often better trained than their adversaries.

6. Crossed The Hellespont
After solidifying his rule of Macedonia and Greece, Alexander looked east to Asia and the Persian Empire, which was led by Darius III. Alexander assembled an allied Greek army of 5,000 cavalry and 32,000 infantry to avenge the Persian invasion of Greece in 490 B.C. With 60 naval vessels, Alexander crossed the Hellespont (a narrow strait separating Europe and Asia - now called the Dardanelles) in 334 B.C. From his ship, Alexander threw his spear onto the shore. As he took his first steps in Asia, he pulled his weapon from the sand and declared that these lands would be won by the spear. But the first order of business was a little tourism! Being quite fond of the Trojan War story -- even keeping a copy of Homer’s Iliad tucked under his pillow, Alexander made a special trip to Troy to perform several sacrifices and to trade some of his armor for a sacred shield in the Temple of Athena.

5. Untied Gordian Knot, Loosed Metaphor For The Ages
According to legend, the Phrygians, who lived in what is now central Turkey, were told by an oracle to make king the first man to ride into town in an oxcart. As luck would have it, this man was Gordius, a poor peasant. After his coronation, Gordius dedicated his cart to the god Zeus and tied it to a pole outside the temple. The knot was made of cornel bark, which hardened over time. It was said that whoever untied this intricate knot would conquer all of Asia. Alexander could not pass up such an opportunity, but there were no ends to the knot for him to even get started. In frustration, he sliced it in half with his sword, proclaiming, "I have loosed it!" The Gordian Knot has since become synonymous with an intractable problem that requires an unconventional solution.

4. Simply Divine: Declared Son of A God
After defeating the Persians at the Battle of Issus, Alexander decided to enter Egypt, which had been under Persian rule for almost 200 years. The Egyptians despised the Persians for their heavy taxes and religious intolerance. They gladly anointed Alexander as pharaoh, initiating a cultural exchange between Greece and Egypt that lasted for the next three hundred years. While in Egypt, Alexander also made the dangerous journey across the desert to the shrine of Zeus Ammon. It is said that he was guided by ravens and blessed with rain. Upon his arrival, the priest apparently told him he was the son of Zeus. Whether or not Alexander believed in his own divinity, he played it up to his own advantage.

3. Founded Alexandria; Became Poster Child for Librarians
Besides razing cities, Alexander also founded about 20 new ones, naming most of them after himself. The most enduring of these is Alexandria on the coast of the Nile delta. In a superb natural harbor where the Persians had once erected a fortress, Alexander had his architects build a grand city along Greek lines. Alexandria later developed into a cosmopolitan port, with schools, theater, and one of the greatest libraries of antiquity. Greeks ran the city’s administration, but Egyptians were allowed to keep their customs and religion. Egyptians could only become citizens if they learned Greek and accepted Greek traditions.

2. Defeated The Persians
After less than a year in Egypt, Alexander resumed to chasing after the Persian emperor, Darius III. At the plains of Gaugamela, Darius assembled an army of 200,000, which included cavalry wearing chain mail and chariots with blades spinning out of the wheels. Alexander’s 47,000 men attacked Darius? flanks, splitting the Persian forces, while Alexander charged into the center. The Persians broke ranks and were routed. Darius escaped by horseback, only to be later killed by one of his own men. Having conquered the Persians, Alexander was named King of Asia. He took Babylon and Persepolis, the Persian capital. In an attempt to solidify his rule, he began to dress like a Persian, and married a Persian dancer named Roxanne. His men found it unbecoming of their king that he thought it necessary to please a defeated enemy.

1. Extended Empire Into India; Partied-and Died-Like a Rockstar
Alexander’s vision of Asia was that it ended just on the other side of India. Wanting to conquer the continent, he persuaded his men to march east. The Indian king Porus and his elephants fell to Alexander, but the weather and the mountains wore out his men. It soon became clear that Asia was larger than had been estimated. With his campaign suffering from mission drift, Alexander succumbed to his men’s pleas and turned back. But he decided on a circuitous route: down India’s rivers to the ocean, then along the coast back to Persia. It was probably Alexander’s greatest mistake, as 15,000 of his men died of starvation or heat in the Gedrosan Desert -- more than all those he lost in battle. The journey may have taken its toll on Alexander as well. At a banquet back in Babylon, he drank excessively -- as usual -- then fell ill of a fever, most likely due to malaria. He died a few days later, just shy of his 33rd birthday.

The Empire of Alexander The Great - btw, the baige coloured portion is the Empire

Monday, February 11, 2008

Derby Loss....

It was disheartening to watch the loss of Man Utd to Man City at Old Trafford yesterday. A very sad moment for me. Firstly, for the fact that it was the memorial game for the Busby Babes and secondly - we could have gone 1 point above Arsenal on the table.

City, who had not won at the ground since 1974, completed their first double over Manchester United since 1970 with a deserved 2-1 victory. Darius Vassell and new signing Benjani Mwaruwari scored first-half goals for City and United's only reply was in injury-time from Michael Carrick.

From what I saw, the Devils were not even in the Derby. City was running riot all over the pitch. The running saw Vassell and Benjani put 2 goals before the half-time whistle. I do hope the boys will pull up their socks and rise to the occasion when we play Arsenal in the 5th round of the FA Cup on Saturday. Beating Arsenal will cement a place in the quaterfinals of the oldest Cup competition in the world. Do I blame fatigue as an excuse for the loss? Well, not entirely. It could be one of the contributing factors (especially having all the players return from their international friendlies), but also the fact that Man City played awesome football. With the likes of Micah Richards (whom I salute as the future Central Defender of England), Darius Vassell, Benjani and Dunn.

A minute of silence to remember the Munich Air Disaster before the match

Lets pick it up my boys and let us keep pressuring the Gunners as we defend our title.

Glory Glory Man Utd!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

In Memory Of The Busby Babes....

It is a sad day for the Manchester United Football Club today. It has been 50 years since the Munich Air Disaster. To those who do not know about the crash, well, as far as I am concerned if one professes to be a United fan he/she should know about this historical event that had changed the outlook of English and in fact European football altogether. We had lost what could have arguably been the best Manchester United team ever.

Eight United players were among the 23 people who lost their lives on 6 February 1958, when BEA flight G-ALZU crashed on the third take-off attempt after re-fuelling in Germany on the way back from a European Cup success at Red Star Belgrade.

Sir Matt Busby's side - back-to-back English champions and well positioned for a hat-trick attempt - were arguably on course to become the best-ever United team.

The players who died in the crash were Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam Whelan.


Sandy Busby (hereafter referred to a Busby Jr) has recalled the heartbreak he felt after the Munich air disaster claimed the lives of his friends - and almost his dad - in 1958.

In February 1958, Busby Jr celebrated his 22nd birthday by receiving a telegram from Belgrade, sent by the good friends he had made within the Manchester United squad.

Two days later seven of that team had been killed and Sandy's father, United manager Sir Matt Busby (hereafter referred to a Busby Sr), was lying in intensive care in a Munich hospital after their plane skidded off the runway while making a third attempt to take off in a snowstorm.

Busby Jr recalled: "I was associated with United through my father and I grew up with these lads.

"I used to train on Tuesday and Thursday nights when I was an amateur. We used to socialise - cinemas, dance halls, parties, altogether. They never treated me like the boss' son, they treated me like one of them.

"The team were in Belgrade and they sent me a telegram saying 'Happy Birthday and sorry not to be with you'.

"I took a while to get over the lads that had gone. Little Eddie (Colman) and Big Tommy Taylor were all great lads."

The Munich air disaster - which happened 50 years ago on Wednesday - ultimately claimed the lives of 23 people, either club officials, players or journalists following United, and including the fabulously talented Duncan Edwards, who died of his injuries 15 days after the crash at the age of 21.
Sir Matt Busby & Duncan Edwards

The events understandably took their toll on Busby Sr, and it was touch and go whether the manager himself would survive.

"He had the last rites twice," said Busby Jr.

"He was unconscious for four or five days. When he eventually came round he knew it was very, very serious and he turned to my mother and said 'I want to know who has gone and who is all right. You nod your head if they're all right and shake your head if they have died'. She went through the list and he said 'I'm finishing with football'.

"She later said to him 'Look, these players who have gone would want you to carry on and achieve what they would want to achieve'.

"I flew out the morning after the crash. I was concerned about my dad of course and the professor came to see us with his assistants and interpreter. He went through a list (of the casualties) and he came to my father and he said 'no, no, no' and my mother nearly fell through the floor.

"We were devastated. He was very strong my dad, mentally and physically. He came through it and then he started thinking about the lads that he would no longer be having fun with."

Jimmy Murphy took temporary charge of team affairs while Busby recovered, and in 1968 United's rebuilt team won the European Cup with a 4-1 victory over Benfica at Wembley.

Asked how much it meant for his father to claim the continent's top club prize, Busby Jr added: "We could see it in his face.

"There's a great photograph of Sir Bobby and my dad, cuddling each other straight after the final whistle. It told you what they wanted for the lads that had gone.

"Bobby's in tears but it was great. My dad was over the moon that they had won it, that was his goal."

This coming Sunday, United's players will wear a one-off 1950s style kit, free from sponsorship and numbered 1-11 for the Manchester derby.

"I wish I had seen those boys become men" - Sir Matt Busby-

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

PD Trip....

What a trip it was! Damn!

We had so much of fun. Among the guys who went are: Paul Michael (D'Organiser), Vicky Raja (Co-Organiser), Zack (Official Photographer), Vikhram & Lionel (Birthday Boys), Ramesh, Ram, Veke Rama, Viji, Harith & me'self.

We left KL at about 11.00am and we reached PD at about 1pm. Met up with Vicky who was already in PD, for lunch at this Curry Leaf Restaurant. Very good food I must say. Ate some and then headed straight to the Bayu Beach Resort to collect the keys. Upon doing so, we went to Vicky's house for a drink and then bought all our supplies. Then straight to Bayu Beach Resort.

We started off by getting all the food organised, drinks ready and ice chilled. While we were chilling in the apartment we had some home made mutton perattel prepared by Vikhram's mum. Awesome mutton you'all. Thank you Auntie Krishnan for the lovely mutton. Then, all of us headed to the beach for some exciting Beach Football. It has been a while since I played beach football, so it was fun. The 'Dream Team' of Paul Michael (Captain), Zack, Harith, Viji, Veke and myself soundly beat the 'Other Team' of Ram (Captain), Vikhram, Vicky, Lionel and Ramesh - victory of 3-0. What a game la! Some of the guys wanted to go up and chill, but the others had to go for a swim in the beach. So, we went for a dip. It was nice to cool down after such a long day. Oh yes, did I mention, I have not slept ever since I finished work on Fri as we had a long night out, then got back to prepare all the items and by then Lionel came and we left.

Anyway, after the swim, headed back for a bath, got ready and headed down to the beach for the BBQ. Paul's mum took the trouble to marinate all the lamb and chicken. Thank you very much Auntie Anthonysamy for the ever so lovely marination. While we were starting the fire for the pit, the rain came and went. When we started cooking, again the rain came and went. I was praying that the rain will stop. Well, when we were half way through the BBQ, the rain came again and this time it stopped for good - thank God.

We ate chicken, lamb, sausages and not forgetting drank the bottles and bottles of Chivas Regal that were at the site. At the beach, we finished 1 1/2 bottles, but upon returning to the apartment the other 2 1/2 were finished. While we were drinking at the apartment, I was really feeling too tired, so I retired for the night, while the other boys continued till the wee hours of the morning.

I was only up the next day by 12 noon, had a bath and actually went back to sleep. Very nice sleep I had - hmmmm, nice. The boys were not happy about it as I retired early the night before, well not really early la, I retired about 1am - but remember I have been drinking since 9.30pm. I am merely defending myself here against all the 'verbal assaults' I have been getting ever since Sunday. Anyway, we checked out of the apartment and then headed to Vicky's house for lunch. Uncle and Auntie Rajaswaran were so welcoming. Thank you very much Uncle and Auntie Rajaswaran. Auntie prepared some lovely lunch for us - rice, dhalcha (mutton), chicken perratel, mutton varuvel, cabbage and french beans. Very nice lunch.

After lunch, Auntie insisted that we stayed for tea, had some tit bits and then headed back to KL. It was a nice drive back. Left PD at about 5pm and reached KL at 7pm. It was slightly jammed along the North-South expressway, but it was just along Nilai, after that it was smooth.

All in all an excellent trip. I thank you Paul, Vicky, Vikhram (driving me back), Lionel (driving me to), Veke, Ramesh, Ram, Viji, Zack & Harith for inviting me to join all of you for this ever so memorable trip. It is truly one of the best things that has happened to me this year. Once again, thank you my dear brothers.

All the pics that were taken at PD:-