When I first came to Jacksonville in 2016, I remember noticing an oddly-placed dinosaur statue while driving through Beach Boulevard, in the Southside. With cartoon-like features, pumpkin orange skin and red lights for eyes, Rex makes for an attractive landmark. On an otherwise uninspiring landscape flanked by retail outlets and grocery stores, the unassuming demeanor of a tyrant lizard with giant bone in hand, is a guaranteed eyeball grabber for passers-by. Rex’s big nostrils, jagged teeth, wide grin and white belly give him a distinctive, hard-to-ignore appearance.
Curious to know more, I decided to look for information about the structure. I googled about it only to realize that his name is Rex, after all he is an avatar of the bipedal carnivore, Tyrannosaurus Rex. I even noticed that he had his own coordinates listed on Google Maps with directions to take me there. Obviously this was no ordinary dinosaur. ‘Historical landmark’ claimed Google search results and he also has reviews on Yelp.
A remnant of the miniature golf haunt, Goony Golf Complex, Rex was originally one of its unofficial mascots. In the distant past, his mechanical arm would operate a door that collected golf balls at the now no-more Putt Putt golf ground.
I even found a black-and-white photograph of him in the book, ‘Images of America – Jacksonville’s Southside’.
So if you ever visit Jacksonville in Florida, don’t forget to take a selfie with this dino, he surely makes for good pictures.
Since my last egg-breakfast-recipe blog post was a hit, I decided to do one more.
This breakfast recipe is a great way to start a day for someone who needs an energy boost first thing in the morning. The slimy Okra which is also known as Ladies’ Fingers is a popular ingredient in Indian kitchens. The green fingers, are chopped and fried with onions, potatoes and tomatoes to create a vegetarian dish usually eaten with Indian flat bread – chapati. I love eating this dish for lunch but I also like to top it with an egg for variety.
In fact, Parsis (followers of Zoroastrianism) love topping their vegetables with eggs. Popular variations include:
– Tomata par eeda (Eggs on tomatoes)
– Turia par eeda (Eggs on ridge gourd)
– Papeta par eeda (Eggs on potatoes)
– Kera par eeda (Eggs on bananas)
– Methi par eeda (Eggs on fenugreek)
– Sali par eeda or Wafer par eeda (Eggs on potato straws or eggs on potato chips)
Below is the recipe I used to make my eggs on okra. Enjoy.
One cup okra – chopped into rondelles (circular cuts)
One onion – finely chopped
One tomato – finely chopped
Two garlic cloves – finely chopped
One slice of ginger – finely chopped
Four green chillies – finely chopped
Turmeric – one pinch (1/4 tsp)
Salt – one pinch
Ajwain (carom seeds) / Jeera (cumin seeds) – one pinch
Oil – one tbsp
Heat the oil. Add the carom seeds/cumin seeds and wait till they splutter. Add the chopped onions and fry till they get a golden brown color. Add the chopped ginger, garlic and chillies. Fry them for a minute. Add the turmeric, salt and fry for another minute. Add the tomatoes and fry till they change color. Now add the okra and cover the pan. Cook for a few more minutes till they are tender. Now add the egg and your ‘eggs on okra’ is ready to be eaten with buttered and toasted bread.
You could also try adding all these ingredients and baking the dish.
I was bored of making the regular omelette, fried egg and scrambled egg recipes for breakfast so I decided to try something new. Since I have a muffin pan, baking omelette muffins instead of frying an omelette seemed like an exciting, healthier option.
So I mixed my regular omelette ingredients in a bowl. I like to add lots of fresh chopped ginger, garlic, onions, green chilies with other fresh vegetables like broccoli, spinach, zucchini, cabbage, mushrooms, tomatoes… depending on what I have. My mix was fairly spicy because I love spice in my food and I think that’s because I was born and brought up in India – the land of spices!
I also love to add cilantro and turmeric for flavor.
I whisked all the fresh ingredients with eggs and poured them into a buttered/oiled muffin dish. I didn’t have enough mixture (and too many mouths to feed) so I left a few cups empty.
I then added milk and baking powder with cheese on the top. This ensured the muffins puffed up.
I baked them for about 20 minutes at 350° F.
Here are photos from my experiment. Of course, I looked up various recipes before making these myself.
Side note: For those looking for an eggless omelette option (Yes, those exist)… you can try making a moonglette. The replacement for egg in this recipe is the yellow legume- moong / moong bean/ green gram without skin. I first saw a moonglette in Delhi, the capital city of India… where they were selling these on the street.
Here’s a picture I took.
I believe the moonglette is simple to make. You have to replace the egg with soaked moong that has been ground into a paste.
Here are two stories I had written for the Times of India. They made me come face to face with the human side of the great free digital reference book.
The first article is about the first Wiki meet held in Mumbai – Dated 2010.
Wiki editors first meet in Mumbai
A new mental disorder is quietly spreading across Mumbai and India. Called ‘editcountitis’, it affects the unseen workforce of volunteers that helps build the largest free encyclopedia in the world, Wikipedia. Symptoms include a craving to log in, edit articles and keep count of every edit. The more articles edited, the higher the count, the bigger the ego. That’s the joke circulating among members of Mumbai’s Wikipedia community, most of whom, however, assure you it’s quality that matters, not counts.
It is no secret that the heart and soul of Wikipedia are the voluntary contributors who do everything a newspaper sub-editor does. From checking facts and adding perspective to correcting typo-spello demons, this community’s selfless spirit of wanting to share has no monetary motivation. Last month, the city hosted its first Wiki meet in a coffee shop in Bandra where a motley group of professionals, students and retired employees gathered to talk about how they used and, in some cases, misused Wikipedia.
Among them was Utkarshraj Atmaram, a management student interning with a Fortune 500 company, who has edited over 35,000 articles since 2004 when he first started. One of the more popular articles he wrote was about Sardarji jokes. “One Sikh editor accused me of being a hateful racist, but most others commended me for writing what was then probably the only page on the internet which discussed this topic in an objective way,” he says. He created the article in 2007, when controversies surrounding Sardarji jokes were reported in the media: first a Matunga-based book seller was arrested for stocking the Santa-Banta Joke Book, and then Reliance Communications was charged by the Lucknow police with “insulting a religion or faith” for sending a Sardarji joke as its SMS joke of the day. Atmaram has made over 59,000 edits, of which nearly 5,500 have now been deleted, some of them for not being “notable” according to the Wikipedia guidelines.
Also present at the meet was space enthusiast Pradeep Mohandas, who started writing on Indian observatories when he noticed that there weren’t many articles on the subject. In his free time, Mohandas reads scientific journals. It’s a chore to read them, he admits, but one which he readily undertakes in order to arm himself to contribute to Wikipedia. The bane of user-generated content is that advertisers use it as a tool to reach out to Wikipedia’s large reader base. Wikipedia readers unwittingly fall prey to pushy salesmanship. But an army of good Samaritans tries its best to foul the intentions of the intruders by cleaning up the articles. It’s a dog-eat-dog situation and the Wiki community is kept on its toes to maintain the sanctity of the website. Mohandas, a resident of Chembur, makes sure Chembur is ‘clean’, on Wiki. “I have removed several commercial links from the Chembur Wikipedia article” to keep it objective. “This has to be done, as often as it is undone by uninvited advertisers who gatecrash the website and edit entries in favour of their clients,” he says.
Like in every community, rivalry is rampant here too, spewing forth in the form of edit wars which occur when “editors who disagree about some aspect of the content of a page repeatedly override each other’s contributions, rather than try to resolve the disagreement by discussion”. The most controversial edit wars on India-related topics have been on secessionist movements (Kashmir, Khalistan), religion-related violence (Hindutva “terrorism”), ethnic history (Indo-Aryan migration or origin of a particular caste), regional disputes (the Kaveri River water dispute and the Belgaum border dispute) and languages. Sometimes there’s a compromise—on the age-old question of whether the 1857 uprising should be called the Sepoy Mutiny or the First War of Independence. For instance, the current consensus to title the article ‘The Indian Rebellion of 1857’.
Not all discussions on “serious” issues are necessarily solemn though. Smiles Atmaram, “The language arguments aren’t limited to standard discussions like the status of Hindi as a national language, but finer debates such as which regional languages should be used in an article on Rajinikanth: Tamil (the language of his films), Kannada (he was born in Bangalore) or Marathi (his mother tongue). If the warring editors reach an agreement, mandating use of all the three languages, another debate starts: which language will be mentioned first?” We hope this doesn’t lead to a new series of Rajinikanth-Wiki jokes.
The second article is from the WikiConference held in Mumbai. Dated 2011
Meet Wiki’s local heroes Some of the remarkable editors of the site’s local language versions include a visually-challenged man and a 10-year-old kid.
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, visited Mumbai last month for the firstever Wikiconference in the country. The 45-year-old American entrepreneur was here to invite and encourage more people to edit Wikipedia in local languages.
“When we have more editors, we’ll ensure people have quality content to read in their mother tongue.” Wales said Wikipedia’s future lies in India. In fact, to support the growth of the free encyclopaedia in the country, the Wikimedia Foundation—the non-profit organization dedicated to the growth of multilingual Wiki-based content projects—is setting up its second office in the world in New Delhi.
Adding momentum to the movement in India are initiatives such as School Wiki, a project launched by the education department of the Kerala government to introduce Wiki editing to students. And then, there is an effort to encourage more contributions from women. “Only 13% of Wikipedia’s editors are female. We need more Indian women to write and edit articles,” says Bishakha Datta, member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
But Wales is most worried about Wiki projects in languages such as Hindi. “Although the language is spoken by over 280 million people, the Hindi Wikipedia only has 1,00,000 articles and less than 50 active contributors.”
One prolific Hindi editor is Delhi University assistant professor Aniruddha Kumar.
Kumar, who is visually challenged, has edited more than 8,000 articles in two years using text-to-speech software. When he first discovered the fledgling Hindi version, he couldn’t resist the urge to hit the sampadan (edit) tab and start correcting mistakes. After his first edit in 2009, he was encouraged with a “thank you” note from another Wikipedian. “I continued because I wanted to race,” he says.
For Hindi Diwas which is celebrated on September 14, the Hindi Wikipedia community had organised a race. “We had to reach the 40,000 article target and were running short by 1,000. There was no stopping me after that,” says Kumar who can go on six-hour editing sprees making changes which could be as ‘minor’ as adding a full stop or as ‘major’ as adding a paragraph. He likes to edit articles ranging from philosophy, Urdu literature, software to Jan Lok Pal Bill.
Another interesting Indian Wikipedian is 76-year-old Sengai Podhuvan who is the eighth most active contributor to the Tamil Wikipedia. Age is not a hindrance for Podhuvan who started contributing in July 2010 and has made 8,455 edits
since then. While he has contributed on topics such as indigenous games of India and Tamil literature, another interesting Wikipedian—10-yearold Achu Kulangara—likes to edit articles on sports.
Achu, who interestingly is one of the youngest Wikipedians in India, edits the Malayalam Wikipedia. “I contributed to the article on Asian Games by adding a section on the medal tallies,” says Achu. While Malayalam Wikipedia has 20,318 articles with 85 active editors, Telugu Wikipedia has 48,803 articles with 30 active editors. One of them is a homemaker who made editing her hobby after she learnt how to contribute to Wikipedia. T Sujatha has edited 7,496 articles in Telugu and is an active contributor to the Telugu Wiktionary, a web-based free content dictionary too. She also promotes the site by contributing ‘how-to’ articles to Tewiki Vartha, an e-magazine of Telugu Wiki projects.
Meanwhile, Kumar too, wants to write a ‘how-to’ article. He’s going to call it, “A blind man’s guide to editing Wikipedia”.
I’ve travelled quite a bit around the world and within the US and the one thing that I never miss to capture on camera are murals. If I spot one, I quickly run towards it to take a stand-alone photo, selfie or posed picture. I absolutely love murals!
They are not easy to create and not easy to ignore either. Big, beautiful artwork on large building, wall, window and ceiling canvases always add character to a landscape. These urban expressions appear as if they are calling out to passersby to be noticed with messages that can be interpreted by the viewer in any way – just like all forms of art.
I remember being mesmerised by the frescos inside the Louvre in Paris and the relief murals in the tombs of Egypt. Inside the Louvre, Renaissance wall art where large portions of ceiling, and wall had perfectly proportional human figures and the correct amount of intricate shading captures every visitor’s imagination. Whereas, in the dark Egyptian tombs, relief art in earthy colours with drawings of royal family members, their ceremonies, and other symbols and motifs have their own lure.
A fresco in Paris
Egyptian wall art
When I look at these large canvases, I always like to wonder about how the artist planned the project and then executed it.
Did he or she have measuring tools to get the proportions right?
How did they climb the wall to reach to its corners? Did they use a ladder or a large crane or some kind of lifting device?
What did their mixing palette look like?
How many brushes did they have?
Did they have a vanity set of paints?
I once participated in a community mural painting project – The Wall Project – way back in 2009 – in Mumbai city. Surprisingly, the local government promoted the painting activity where citizens brushed the neglected sidewalls of Tulsi Pipe Road – a very busy road – often in a state of traffic jam – in the heart of the city.
I loved how some artists, in the later Wall Project drives, included the dilapidated and worn-down parts of the wall to enhance their paintings. For example, a hole was converted into an eye, a long crack running length-wise was converted into a branch.
Deck the hall with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la la. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la.
Well, Jacksonville Beach has replaced hall with ‘beach chairs’ and the result is delightful.
Deck The Chairs, a holiday contest – where participants design beach chairs for Christmas – is held at Jacksonville Beach, every year. The iconic, tall and bright red beach chairs belong to the The American Red Cross Life Saving Corps and the contest raises money for the charity. (I’ve seen the volunteer lifeguards sit on them to monitor and warn beach visitors.)
I attended this year’s lighted sculptural exhibition on Jacksonville Beach and absolutely loved it. There were about 40 participating entries sponsored by and representing various institutions including the Jacksonville Public Library, businesses, schools and charities. Visitors get to vote for three favorites.
The theme of the event was ‘Uniquely Beaches,’ and artists had to reflect a coastal theme. I loved the Gingerbread House, Reindeer Sleigh and Sea Horse. The Car Wash theme appeared to be particularly challenging and was well-executed.
The venue and dates:
If you live in or near Jacksonville Beach city, you totally must visit the exhibit. The free display will be open for visitors throughout the month of December. The venue is the Seawalk Pavilion which is adjacent to Latham Plaza between First Street North and Jax beach.
I usually don’t post too many rants on my blog and leave that for Twitter but I am really upset. I recently bought Walmart’s Mainstays bakeware because I really wanted to bake some goodies for my family and friends. I purchased one cake and loaf pan and they rusted in one use. Ridiculous. They have a 3-year warranty but they want me to send 2 dollars along with the product to Ohio. Really? Do they really think I have the time, effort and money to spend on doing that? I’d rather just warn everyone. Doing this post so that people do not get fooled by the cheap price and buy it cause it is not worth a single penny!
We all know it, the Internet has made life easier. And perhaps, made us lazier.
I, for one, refuse to
– Do simple calculations – even the most basic addition, multiplication, division is outsourced to Google.
– Store info to recall later – rarely do I make an effort to memorize information anymore. I simply store it in the form of digital notes, or conveniently forget because I can always Google the information when I need it again.
And then, for many other tasks that require even minimal use of my brain, I depend on Internet Generators, that can do the tasks for me, within seconds.
Online Generators? Yes, that’s what they are called. Machines that use permutations, combinations and a set of algorithms to calculate and generate things for you. Things? Yup. They will generate slogans, abuses, stories, codes, songs, statuses, memes, poems, passwords, insults, fake news… the list is endless, which is why I decided to create a laundry list of generators I found online. Because? Because the Internet is awesome and we must never forget to celebrate it.
Warning: Some of the results may be formulaic and hackneyed.
ABUSE and COMPLIMENT GENERATORS I thought thinking of abuses was rather instantaneous and something everyone aced at but apparently there are generators for this too. Shakespeare insulter This generator will create an insult, Shakespearean style and also tell you which literary work it was sourced from. For example: [Thou] hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults. Taken from: The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Elizabethan Curse GeneratorCreated by Trevor Stone, this generator is similar to the one above. It uses Shakespearean language but doesn’t produce direct quotes from his literature.
And for those who want to be nice, there is the Surrealist Compliment Generator for perspicuous words of praise. For example: The glow of your teeth exudes the courage of raw liver.
FAKE NEWS GENERATORS Fake news is in the news! And fake news generators can help you create spoof news articles that you can share with your friends for a good laugh. Break Your Own News Created by Jonathan Cresswell, this site lets you create a screenshot of a TV news story with a headline and ticker. You can choose your own image too. The result is a news shot with your photo, headline and ticker along with a LIVE in red. Worth sharing. For example:
Free Newspaper Generator This site lets you create your own spoof newspaper articles with headline, text, a photo. You can also name your newspaper and add your own author. The result is a .pdf file you can share with your friends.
ACADEMIC TOOLS: CITATION, TITLE CASE, PLOT GENERATORS Some more tools, useful for lazy academicians. Citation generatorGenerate citations in MLA, APA & Chicago formats for your bibliography Plot Generator I absolutely love this tool. It lets you fill in key details like – title, opening, conflict, resolution – and generates a story for you. This tool could also be useful for students of language learning how to compose their own stories.
Pun Generator: Created by Tom Benner, this generator helps you have pun creating puns!
And there is a Poem generator and Song Lyrics Generatortoo!
Another tool I used very often while I was in college is the Title Capitalizationtool which automatically capitalizes a title for you depending on the style you choose – AP style/Chicago Manual of Style.
JARGON GENERATORS Tools to impress your colleagues, boss and friends with professional jargon. CorpspeakCreated by Chris Pirazzi, this tool is a corporate jargon generator, best used for internal communication emails and press releases. Corporate Bullshit Generator, Marketing Bullshit Generator, Business Buzzword Generator are a few more examples that do similar tasks for you. Edu babbleThis tool is meant to assist in the writing of reports, grant applications, and other documents related to public schools. It helps creating academic jargon. Political Rhetoric Generator Created by Luke Rissacher, this site claims to generate American political rhetoric and promises to replace your speechwriters to win some elections.
IMAGE and ANIMATION GENERATORS
Making collages, word clouds, lead photos, Facebook covers, Twitter backgrounds have been made easy thanks to a bunch of image editing and generating tools online. My favourite is Adobe Sparkwhich I used to generate the Featured Image of this post.
For posts that need a word cloud, there is Wordle, an old tool that generates word clouds from words you enter. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.
There are several comic strip creators online, two of my favourites are: StripGenerator and StripCreator. Name in lights: This site lets you create an animation of your name in lights. There are various options (with or without sound, with or without an intro) to choose from and the end result is HTML code that you can insert in your blog or website.
GIF maker, GIPHY is well-known but needed a mention here and if you love traditional memes, here’s a site that lets you easily generate them and of course it is called the Meme Generator. The site has the option to allow users to choose from a bunch of very popular meme characters too.
There are several logo generators too. I tried thisOnline Logo Generator to create a logo for my blog (pictured below). It’s quick and easy. You choose an icon, text, a border and your logo is ready.
If you need a custom avatar for your social media or chat DPs (display pictures), you can try avatar generators. There is Avatar Maker for a basic avatar and South Park Avatar creatorfor South Park fans.
SLOGAN GENERATORS If you need some inspiration or you are just looking for the easy way out, slogan generators are great to get you started. http://slogangenerator.co/ Created by Ramesh Jha, this generator’s website says it is a simple tool for creating advertising slogans and taglines. Users have to enter a word and it creates a custom slogan based on a random template from its database. Another similar tool: http://www.slogangenerator.org/
MISCELLANEOUS USEFUL GENERATORS QR code generator: There are several QR code generating websites and apps available online. Puzzle creator: I used online puzzle creators to create customised word search and crossword puzzles a lot! These are really useful for teachers and parents. The list of puzzles you can make includes cryptograms, mazes, number blocks, math squares, hidden message, fallen phrases and crisscross. Sound and music generators: Try Computoserthat generates compositions with combinations of tones, rhythms and instruments selected by users. There is also myNoise that lets you generate noises and alter them according to your taste. Receipt Maker: This generator lets you create free custom receipts for your customers. It lets you choose your payment method, enter your company name, store address, return policy. You can even add details like your company slogan, website address, a “Follow us on Facebook” line, or a tax registration number. Taxes and total payment due are calculated automatically and the transaction ID for each receipt is unique and can be used to record your sales or verify returns. Strong Password generator is a useful tool for people struggling to think of a unique password that includes all the recommendations for creating a strong password. Airline Ticket MakerEnter your Surname, Name, City of Origin and Destination, Boarding Time, Flight Date and Airline and this generator will create a realistic first-class airline ticket for you. Great for spoofing around.
I will be giving my driving test next week after practising for months. Nervous and excited too. Here’s a video I came across that exhaustively lists the most crucial points to remember before doing the practical driving test.