Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ram Setu

I think this issue is too old for any interest, just my 2 cents. The chief minister of Tamil Nadu and Government of India are bent upon destroying the age old Ram Setu as it helps in economic progress. Agreed, nothing wrong with that, but if Rama is considered god by many people in India and we celebrate atleast 1 or 2 festivals each year to celebrate the triumph of good over evil (Rama killing Ravana) across the whole of India, wouldn't Ram Setu become a national symbol worth preserving.

To draw a parallel, in USA alcohol is not sold on Sunday’s till 12:00PM. This is done to honor people who go to church. There is no science involved to suggest no alcohol till 12:00PM on Sunday’s but it is honoring something that most people in this country at one point believed in. I am sure this is an economic hit for many but is pretty strictly implemented.

Scientifically speaking may be Ram Setu was never built by Rama and it is a natural formation or for that matter Rama never existed. But what matters is it is imbibed in our culture and it is part of our identity.

Science alone should not rule our lives but we need a combination of science, faith and belief.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ends of the Spectrum

Isn't the world amazing, on one side is the Austin puppy which was abandoned in a dumpster and on the other side is the Florida dog which died only to be cloned back.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Amazon Market Place

Couple of months ago I was going through my old books and realized I am not using them and haven't touched them in years and can either donate them or sell them to some place like half price books. The half price books rules were so weird and they offered me really meager amount and I ended up bringing all the books home.

I started looking at alternatives where I can make some reasonable money. The first thing that came to mind was eBay but after having heard from a friend on how he was not able to sell his stuff on eBay I stopped thinking about eBay.Then there is but the prices quoted are so ridiculous I gave up on that.

The other alternative that I found was Amazon market place, the catch though was I can only sell items that itself sells, if they don't sell then I cannot list the item independently. All I had to do was create a seller account and link a bank account for future money transfer (whenever I make a sale). We can name our price but shipping is fixed by (unlike ebay where item costs $2 and shipping $20). The commission is also a bit higher than eBay.
Initially I listed a few books and CDs online and to my luck I sold around 5 items in 1 month (beginners luck) and made way more money than I would have if I had gone to half price books or similar. Encouraged by the initial success I went through the whole apartment and listed all possible things that I don't need or use. Yeah the sales became slower after initial gain but it is not completly dead.

Somethings I don't think I could have sold for a decent price anywhere else I sold them here, for ex: I had a circular polarizing filter that I had bought for my old Olympus C2100 and rarely used (bought in 2001) and I managed to sell it a few weeks ago. Another example is that of a DDR266 memory stick, I listed it on eBay and no bids but managed to get a decent price on Amazon.

Things are not all that rosy either, the shipping cost is fixed and many a times the cost of shipping is higher than actual amount I have collected from buyer. As said before their commision is higher, for the books they charge by the weight. Lastly there is the competition, some item I may have listed for $10 and there will be some one else who would list for $3. I truly recommend Amazon market place for people who want to get rid of items that they no longer use like books, CDs, cameras, lenses and so on and so forth.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cooking Arugula

Other day me and my wife were roaming around farmers market (it is a weekly market where farmers from local area sell there produce) and thought we should try to cook up some other greens other than spinach (aka palak). We saw a store selling some greens without a name, we figured we should be adventurous and picked up a bunch, my wife couldn't resist the temptation and asked the seller lady what is it called and the lady gave a stare as though we were ignorant or novice and said it was "Arugula".

A day later our adventurous spirit died and we were back to our safe zone and wondering what should we do with so much Arugula. We called my brother, I consider him a goat who at some point would have tried all possible greens and veggies. He said "yeah it is very healthy and like all healthy stuff it is not great tasting. You can try adding some extra masala and dal and give it a shot" and added "It tastes so weird that even insects wont eat it". I guess that was enough to scare me and I almost made up my mind to throw it away. The conservationist in my wife woke up and insisted that we should cook a sambar with it and if it turns out bad we shall look for alternatives later.

So began the process, I started cutting the greens and could smell a strong pungent odor. I started sauteing and the odor almost filled the entire apartment (nope it didn't trigger any fire alarm) and interestingly the odor kept reducing and after long enough time the odor pretty much died away.
I was still scared when it came time to eat, needless to say I prayed to all Indian and other gods. As it turns out the bitter/pungent taste of Arugula was lost in our cooking process and it tasted pretty delicious. Only snag was that it seemed a bit under cooked. I guess it needed more cooking time than spinach.

At the end of this experiment we decided to add Arugula to our cooking list and probably in the future combine spinach and Arugula and give that a shot or get more adventurous and try some other greens/veggies.