Wednesday, 30 March 2011

VoIP in a Soup

My VoIP phone is very proud of all the service that it offers us. One of which is that it sends us a mail whenever we have a phone message. What's more, it actually, sends us the content of the message in an e-mail. So if we ever miss a call that we never wanted in the first place, we have no choice but to have it intrude on us during the work day. I have had all kinds of sales calls sent over to my inbox when I couldn't care less about it. The latest message totally takes the cake, though. Here it is, without any alterations:

"Hi Belinda this this Sunday. I just wanna let you a pause in Dale now and also on the event that you would good to just to know been, I mean I'm going to be sent without talking to Paul and also do now is the tried to Scott copy machine just leave it there and we we dialed parking weekend and that we don't try to open. Okay. Thank you. And soup. Bye"

I totally love the punch line, "And soup. Bye". Of course, now I understand everything!!! So much for voice-to-text!

Oh! And in case you were wondering, my name is not Belinda!

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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Scoring Books!!

Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!! I had a rare weekend yesterday, where I was Internet free, chore free and thinking-about-work-free. I visited my sister for a whole 23 hours and it was fun. Among the fun things I got to do was to discover another park with some history to it and get my dogs to run like nuts between us. But most importantly there was a book sale going on at a local school to raise money for scholarship for students of another college.

At $2 per hardcover book or large paper backs and $1 for nominal paper back, this was some sale! I was in book heaven. Apparently there were many more books on Friday and Thursday, the first two sale days. Even the significantly depleted stock was quite impressive. I saw a bunch of really famous titles. Tonnes of classics including George Elliot, Shaw, Shakespeare, Austin and on and on. Contemporaries included Barbara Kingsolver, Rushdie, Rohinton Mistry, Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni etc. Unfortunately, no Jasper Fford, Nick Hornby and some others I wanted to get. Annoyingly enough I completely blanked out on the books I had been meaning to get whenever I had the chance. It's kind of difficult to shop for books without a list, especially in a sale. It's so easy to get distracted!

Despite the utter confusion, we made it out of there with some 20 to 30 books for a total of $12! I did score the following: White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondatje and Sea Glass by Anita Shreve. Not sure if I will call the last three a score exactly, but for the price I don't mind the risk. In fact, I did not really like "Such a Long Journey" by Rohinton Mistry all that much. I do have an agreement with my sister to borrow some of the Kingsolvers she picked up.

So all in all, happy, happy, joy, joy. And moral of the story -- time to start making an evolving book-list on my phone!!

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Friday, 18 March 2011

Carpe-ing the Diem

Today is the first day of 2011 that is really, really nice. I am talking 70F nice! It also happens to be the last day of Spring Break. Considering that I spent my Spring Break working, I figured, I will take this day off to see what I can do about my dilapidated garden.

The task for this season is .. well, too long to list. But I at least want to get a few things off my list this year.

For starters, I would like to demolish the crumbling "raised bed" by my front door and clean up the rubble. Hopefully, get around to planting some nice flowering shrubs and perhaps even rejuvenate the grass there.

Opposite to this raised bed, I have another bed which used to house some seriously beautiful flowering plants including roses, lupines, shasta daisies, hollyhock, hibiscus, fragrant asiatic lilies and some very beautiful arborvitae. Unfortunately, the deer, ground hogs and rabbits have, between them, completely ravaged my garden. Two years ago they even ate up my daisies and lilies, which are generally considered deer-resistant. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have pictures of them, just some flowers from earlier years! Sigh. Everything is so ephemeral!

Anyhow, last year, I started saving the remaining asiatic lilies and tried to use lavenders instead since the critters seem to leave them alone! Here is how the bed looks today -- rather sad, but.... once everything starts growing again, it should look good.

The ashy gray looking thing is the lavender. Once spring is well and truly here, it should look brighter and attract a lot of butterflies. Unfortunately, two of the young lavenders that I had transplanted last year,  to complete my front row seem to have died this winter! At least the hyacinths seem to be doing ok. So, today's task is to clean out the debris and add in some more of the ground cover.

I have at least started work on this tiny patch. Add new soil and some weed-preventers. The irises are peeking out on the far side and the hyacinths in the foreground are the ones I saved from the soon-to-be-demolished raised bed. Three teeny lavenders have been transplanted in the front. Hope they take! Need to edge this garden and mulch it.

Oh! Yes, and there is that tiny matter that I have been putting off for ever! The side door to the garage. Which, well, doesn't exist any more! Hasn't existed since ... oh 2006! It would be fabulous if I can get around to putting a new one in this year!!!

So break done! Had my lunch, did my post, back to digging and demolishing!

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Sunday, 6 March 2011

Kale-mixed berries-banana smoothie

After what feels like ages I am back again with experimenting on green smoothies.
So far, I have never really tried to add Kale to my smoothies. Kale is considered to be very nutritious as well as being a very good source of calcium. The best time to get Kale is in the winter, after a good frost. So, when I recently got myself two bunches of Kale, I made a Kale and bean soup with one and the other one I dedicated to smoothies. Since this was the first time I was making this smoothie, I went cautiously here. This is what I did.


5 individual leaves of Kale. Tough part of stem/spine removed. (Wash really well, if you haven't got organic Kale, because it is believed to be high on retaining pesticide residue)
1/2 a ripe Banana
1 cup Mixed berries (blue, raspberry and blackberries)
1/2 a scoop of Whey protein powder (chocolate flavour)
1/2 a cup water
10 Almonds, washed

Blend everything and drink.

Colour: A pretty pinkish purple.
Taste: Let me just say, my husband, who would not go anywhere near anything with bananas and would have filed for divorce if he knew I was trying to feed him ground up Kale, drank more than half a tall glass, when I offered him a sip! I have not told him that it had Kale in it!

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Saturday, 5 March 2011

A Brave Woman on the Bus

The Story Behind the Post: The Women's Web has announced a contest called FemInspiration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of celebrating the International Women's Day. This is my entry to that contest. This is a true story and it happened to me.

A Brave Woman on the Bus

I walked back and forth along the length of the Pondy Bazaar bus stop, kicking stones listlessly, as I waited for the bus to show up. The bus stop was mostly deserted. I was tired, famished and could barely move around. The straps of the backpack were digging into my shoulders from the weight of the books.  I had spent a whole three hours on my feet repeating my Physics experiment at college. My thoughts drifted back to my Mechanics Professor. 

I couldn't help but resent the note of satisfaction in her voice when she said "Nobody likes a repeat!" and wrote,"Repeat", on my lab notebook. She had earned a name for making students repeat their experiments until their results were within acceptable range of the expected values. Acceptable to her, that is. In fact, the whole department and consequently the whole college had gained the reputation for being a stickler for perfection because of this woman! I groaned inwardly, but gave her a brave smile. I certainly wasn't going to give her the satisfaction of seeing my misery. A repeat meant having to stay back in college beyond the last lecture, for an indefinite period of time, on a mostly empty stomach, to complete my experiment. It meant having to take two buses to get home, instead of the single "Ladies' Special" that I would normally take. Two buses that were not Ladies' Specials. Sigh!

Thankfully the experiment went well, I did get the answer that I was supposed to get and I was elated despite the hunger that was beginning to gnaw at my stomach. I manged to catch the first of the two buses that I had to take and here I was, at Pondy Bazaar, on time. My stomach began to nag insistently and I dug through my bag to see what I might find by way of cash. Luckily I had enough change to get myself an ice-cream. I had just finished eating my ice-cream and was wiping my hands in my handkerchief, when I noticed him looking at me. He looked older, perhaps in his forties. I was too young to know for sure. He was giving me the sleaziest smile I had ever seen and lumbering directly towards me. He was large and menacing. I instinctively looked about me and drew comfort in the fact that the bus-stop had filled up with people. Surely he wouldn't dare to do anything in this crowd?