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I had to do something productive, or I would've died of boredom.

Outdoor games: Rings, balls, bricks and ladders

I love games. And new innovative games always spark my interest. The outdoor games I played in school including — chor-police (thieves and cops), hide n seek and saankli (game of catch that involves forming a chain of seekers)—involved a lot of running. I remember how we would swallow I lunch just so that we could spend recess time playing these games. We even created our own games, some of them were rather rough with players pushing each other to grab a ball and score.

We also played games that involved some amount of jumping — hop scotch and gutter-gutter (jumping and running from one manhole to the other to stay safe from the seeker), Sunday-Monday-Tuesday (jumping from one step to the other).

The other popular outdoor games that used props include the traditional games of marbles, lagori (flat stones) and gilli danda (two sticks: Hit the short stick with the long one).

I have come across a few interesting games that use props, lately… and thought of doing a quick post on them.

  1. Brick Jenga: 54 bricks are stacked on each other. Players take turns to remove bricks without disturbing the stack. Each removed brick is placed on the top to build the tower again.

    brick-jenga

  2. Ping-pong toss: Players bounce ping pong balls off the table to aim them into the cups. Each cup has a different score labelled with a sticker.

    cups

  3. Hook and ring game: Swing the ring to loop it around the hook and score.

    ring-toss

  4. Cornhole: Aim the bean bags into the holes. The wooden boxes with holes are placed on two sides. Players have to aim the bags into the opposite box.

    img_6184

  5. Ladder toss: Throw bolas (Two rubber balls connected with a nylon string) onto a ladder.

    img_6185

  6. Disc golf: Players throw a disc (frisbee) down a fairway into a basket.

    img_6189

Apple’s ‘delicate darling’ charger cables need a fix

 

While everyone was talking about the brand new, “game-changing” water-resistant iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus phones with their innovative dual lens camera and cordless AirPods, there were some who were disappointed after there was no announcement about an improvement in a much-needed area — the charging cable. It frays far too easily and I am not the only one who thinks so. The tweets below say it all.

 

And even though Apple can brag about its sleek-looking phones, I don’t think it can boast about its cable wires. They are fragile, look ugly when they wear out (which is pretty fast) and are therefore just not worth the money.

And since the Apple 2016, September event in San Francisco made no announcement about an improved cable design, here are a few workarounds for those struggling with the frail cables that tend to expose their insides ever so often.

1. Do not use it. Yes, if you do not use it, you will not ‘manhandle’ it and it will be as good as new.

2. Be your delicate best. Nothing is as important as taking care of the your charging cable. Other problems, meetings, life-altering moments can come second.

3. Try this cheap DIY hack. Yup, you could use the spring from a pen to keep the cable intact.

4. Just replace them with reinforced cables easily available online.

img_9742

5. Use electrical tape to bandage the injury.

 

How food videos on Facebook are making cooking appear quick & easy

Everyone’s been sharing them lately. Closeup shots of recipe videos without cooks or video hosts dishing out banter. They are clean, simple, fast and look simplistic. They are changing the way we consume recipe videos. No Nigella Lawson, no Jamie Oliver, no Sanjeev Kapoor. I too have become rather fond of these quick-paced clips and have shared a few on my own Facebook timeline.

How are they different from good-old recipe shows on TV?

Well, these videos have been created for the Internet. They are very succinct and make cooking, baking, grilling look like a piece of cake. Their shareworthiness comes from the fact that they make — delicious-looking food that always seemed to be the expertise of top chefs — appear so easy to dish out.

At a time where viral dog and cat memes are competing with celebrity selfies and Kim Kardashian’s Internet breaking photographs, you have to give it to these publishers for creating their own space on the Internet. Short attention spans of online audiences have ensured that the makers stick to snappy videos that are usually anything between 30 seconds to 2 minute long.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular recipe video publishers on Facebook.

BuzfeedTasty

  • Launched: July, 2015
  • About: Food that’ll make you close your eyes, lean back, and whisper “yessss.” Snack-sized videos and recipes you’ll want to try.
  • By: Los-Angeles based BuzzFeed Motion Pictures
  • What I like about them: Their closing lines: Oh Yes! after every dish is ready and being devoured. They even have Tasty Junior for kids. Niche and delicious.

    Tasty

Unilad Grub

Launced: December, 2015
About: Food porn and sick recipes by UNILAD.
By: Manchester-based network UNILAD
What I like about them: Their dessert videos make me want to cheat my diet.

uNILAD GRUB.jpg

Insider Food

Launched:
About: INSIDER food is the place for all things food-related, including recipes, hacks, good eats, and more.
By: Business Insider, NYC
What I like about them: Besides recipes, they are a great place to see the latest fancy trends at restaurants around the world.

Insider Food

The Recipe Network
About: Explore new and different ways to approach food. Learn new recipes, get expert kitchen tips, meet international chefs & experience new restaurants.
By: Waiting for their website to launch and give us the details
What I like about them:
They have some really awesome, popular and classical Indian recipes.

The Recipe Network

Hebbar’s Kitchen
Launched: August, 2015
About: Hebbar’s Kitchen is all about Indian & Udupi cuisine. Learn interesting recipes in snack-sized videos and recipes you’ll want to try
By: Melbourne-based Archana Hebbar
What I like about them: 
Great for Indian snacks and South Indian classics.

Hebbars Kitchen

If you are looking for more proof these food videos are a hit… check these pages out

YourFoodLab

Indian Food Network

Now Anyone Can Cook

EaterNY

 

My to-do list that needs some doing

I was not sure whether I should be doing this – sharing my to-do list. But I thought I would do it just for the sake of archiving. Perhaps when I am older, 60, or even 40, I will revisit this list and laugh at my ambition or lack of it.

So here goes, a rough look at activities I include in my to-do list while I temporarily deal with being unemployed.

  1. Undistracted library book reading
  2. Practice for FTCE/GRE exams.
  3. Clean the house with a focus on making it look visibly cleaner.
  4. Cook a new recipe or create my own.
  5. Organise laundry and the pantry.
  6. Get 3 hours of exercise – cardio, weights and stretches.
  7. Complete online marketing course.
  8. Practice American accent, get rid of Indian accent (sigh).
  9. Write a blog post a day, random nonsense will do for starters.
  10. Ensure calorie deficit is in place for guaranteed weight loss.
  11. Watch an award-winning movie, watch an entertaining TV series.
  12. Read the news, share interestingness.
  13. Edit Wikipedia.
  14. Read, answer Quora.
  15. Win a challenge on Fitbit.
  16. Study Google Maps and find a new interesting place to explore. Or just learn a new road name/ route.
  17. Blog a lesson plan. (I used to love creating these as a teacher.)
  18. Make beautiful photographs.
  19. Do something nice for someone.
  20. Make more YouTube videos.

Ha, ha, ha. Don’t laugh.

101 reasons to workout

This piece is a follow up to an earlier post I had written titled, ‘101 Excuses not to exercise‘. Well, I have been working out and exercising more than usual. I wake up at 4.45 am every day and hit the road for a morning wog (walk+jog).

Florida is dangerously sunny and while it’s summer, post 7.30 am workouts can be torturous outside. Why? Cause it’s hard even to look straight because of the sunlight.

After the morning workout, I hit the gym on some days and do a walk in the night too.

Some days, when there is someone around to drive me, I visit a park or the beach to walk a little extra.

So here are the reasons I use to brainwash myself into exercising.

  1. So I can eat dessert.
  2. Cause I ate dessert yesterday.
  3. Cause Bolt is cool on the track and I want to #win like him.
  4. Cause I set the alarm and have already woken up so might as well go out.
  5. Cause it’s time to be bikini ready.
  6. Cause I need to lower my cholesterol.
  7. Cause it’s beautiful outside.
  8. Cause there’s no one outside in the mornings and I can have the whole sidewalk to myself.
  9. Cause I need to win a Fitbit challenge.
  10. Cause my goal weight is 120 pounds for December.
  11. Cause exercising with my neighbour friend is the only time I get to interact with humans, for now.
  12. Cause I have to collect more Pokemon.
  13. Cause I need more Pokeballs.
  14. Cause I need to get groceries and I do not know driving, yet.

WIP list, I will keep adding to this post.

Glimpses of my workouts.

 

 

 

Kayaking at Okefenokee

Ever since I moved to Florida, the land of sunshine and gators, I’ve wanted to see gators in the wild. I’ve been reading some really bizarre gator stories on Florida news websites. Gator spotted crossing the road, man lets gator ride his motorbike and of course the tragic ones that made it to the international headlines – Gator kills boy at Disneyland.

So last week, when my husband suggested we visit Okefenokee — a swamp in nearby south-east Georgia, famous for its wild gator sightings — I was excited. The drive just before we reached the national park was breathtaking, a long narrow road with tall long leaf pine trees on both sides. *Most roads that I’ve traversed along in the US have beautiful trees that dot the sides but sadly give no shade to travellers using the road. That’s perhaps one thing I really miss about Mumbai and other places in India.*

The name Okefenokee, it’s hard to get in the first instance, comes from the Native Americans and means ‘Land of the trembling earth’. The swamp land, which is a national wildlife refuge is abundant with wildlife including the omnipresent gators, birds like the white ibis, wood storks, sandhill cranes, and rare creatures like the gopher tortoise, red-cockaded wood-pecker and indigo snake.

It’s also important to note that the swamp is the source of two rivers – the St Marys River and the Suwannee River. We decided to try kayaking and canoeing on the tranquil Suwannee. It was exciting at the start but after we completed one hour of paddling our way with many failed attempts to synchronise with each other, we grew very tired. The exhaustion was partly because of the harsh sunlight and partly cause our thumbs were bruised because of friction with the oars.

So we decided to head back. On our journey, we saw several snouts and protruding eyes watching us from the sidelines. One was so invisible that we realised its existence only after we bumped into it by the shore. I was pleasantly surprised to see how harmless and calm the gators actually are.

Here are a few pictures from our adventure.

IMG_4937
View from my kayak. Tandem kayaking is not very easy.
IMG_4939
My friends chose the canoe and it appeared to be easier to paddle as compared to the kayak.
IMG_4952
One of the gators who volunteered for a photo.
IMG_9136
Another still gator, almost statuesque.
IMG_4945
Great blue heron
IMG_4932
Double-crested cormorant

After we returned, we visited the museum and store on the swamp campus. The museum was interactive and had activities for children.

What did I learn?

There once was a drink called swamp tea. Described as being a complex brew of decaying vegetation, the drink that was once popular with sailors, is now not safe to drink.

Check out the details below.

IMG_9144IMG_9142IMG_9143

And then there was this juke box with sounds of all the wildlife belonging to the Okefenokee swamp.

IMG_9139.JPG

There was also a movie screening, which we missed and this photobooth where I leapt to take a photo.

IMG_9156

 

Jargon I picked up from the adventure –

 

Peat: Partly decomposed vegetable matter, usually mosses, found in marshy or damp regions, and composed of partially decayed vegetable matter.

Trending news: Where to find viral stories? Social media, of course!

Trending

The social web has a bunch of places where trends appear, grow from small sparks to burning issues that are discussed, shared and dissected by people with web access around the world. Here are a few sites I refer to find new trends. These are useful sources for journalists but verification is a must to ensure credibility.

  1. Reddit – ‘User-generated news links. Votes promote stories to the front page.’ reads Reddit’s homepage. And that’s what it has been since 2005.  A place to find interesting news, discussions, memes, viral images and videos on the Internet. The links are submitted by members of the website and are usually things that they have found to be interesting or share worthy. They get up and downvoted by other members. To find trends, you can visit a subreddit, or a  category. The website’s slogan is apt, ‘The front page of the Internet’ comparing it to the front page of a newspaper that usually carries the most important news of the day.For those who want an easy way to maneuver around the website, there is http://redditlist.com/ that gives you insights on activity on the website including popular subreddits.
  2. YouTube’s Trending Feed – An official source created by YouTube to showcase popular videos. This is an easy way to find what people are watching. You can also visit the Google Trends Hot Videos. This page can be sorted according to time and region and therefore is a good way to find local and global trending videos on YouTube.Google Trends Hot Videos.jpg
  3. Twitter– From being a social media site to a site where journalists and personalities come to create and break news, Twitter has come a long way. You can use Twitter Moments to see grouped tweets related to a trending news topic, or simply visit the Twitter log in page.Twitter Whats happening.jpgFor those who are members of the networking site, a left-hand side panel shows location-based tags and are perhaps the best way to stay in touch with what people are talking about on the Internet on a real-time basis.There are websites that map Twitter trends too. One such popular site is Trendsmap.com.
    trendsmap.jpg
  4. Facebook’s FB News Wire is the best source of viral content uploaded on Facebook.  It’s description reads, ‘a resource for journalists that aggregates newsworthy social content shared publicly on Facebook by individuals and organizations’.Facebook also displays trending topics on the right-hand side of its home page. It is divided into the following categories – top trends, politics, science and technology, sports and entertainment.
    facebook trending.jpg
  5. Wikipedia‘s weekly Top 25 articles list is available. Although it is not really a real-time list, it gives a sense of the week’s most popular articles. There are websites that track Wikipedia trends like Wikistats, Wikipedia Trending
    and Wikitrends.
  6. Google Trends is a source for popular Google searches that is updated on an everyday basis. The trends can be sorted according to location and categories like business, entertainment, politics, health, sci/tech, top stories and sports. Then of course you can also use Google News for news-related trends. The fascinating thing about Google News is that it is often used by online news companies to track popular trends and then cater to interests of what audiences are looking for. So journalists generate news and stories based on the trending topics on the search engine.
    And of course, the most pleasing-to-the-eye site (as seen below) for trends on what people are Googling (searching) for is the Google Hot Trends visualization. Isn’t it pretty?
    google hot trends visualisation.jpg
  7. Then there are other sites used to share content and each of them have their own trending pages…. A few examples are: Google Plus Explore, Quora, WordPress, LinkedIn, Medium, Tumblr.
  8. And sites that deliver viral content news including Techmeme, BoredPanda, Buzzfeed, Mashable, Upworthy and Distractify.
  9. News sites have their own Trending News pages too. Here are a few:
    HuffingtonPost Trending News
    BBC Trending
    CBC News Trending
    Trending – Today.com
    Indian Express – Trending News
    -Buzzfeed Trending

 

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