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

My failed attempt – attending an Obama rally

I really wanted to do it. Listen to Obama speak, not on TV, but in real! So I signed up for a political event organised by ‘Hillary for America’ where he was going to speak. It was close by, at the University of North Florida. He was to speak at 1.45 pm and we were told that the gates would open by 12pm.

An email cofirmation also informed us that:

Please be aware that your RSVP is sufficient enter the event, but neither your RSVP nor a physical ticket will guarantee admission. The event will fill up on a first come first serve basis, so please plan to arrive early.

So we figured we should be there by 11 am. But alas, we were so wrong. By the time we reached the campus, we saw a long, long queue and later realized it was not just one but three long, serpentine queues of people waiting to get it in. The capacity of the arena was about 8000 people so we did not give up and decided to walk a mile to reach the end of the general queue.

Before we did that, we were cluelessly standing in a VIP queue only to later realize after overhearing someone’s conversation that we did not have the blue or red VIP passes, and therefore had to be part of the general queue. How I wish that that had been made clear by the organisers.

After three hours of finally waiting in the general queue, we were informed that the arena was packed to full capacity. So we departed. Disappointed. But luckily, we got to see the President’s all black motorcade.

Here’s a photo essay from our visit. (which I dedicatedly live-tweeted from the scene)

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Parking info to greet us. The original parking was full so we drove to another location from where we really had to walk to reach the queue.
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At first, we stood in the wrong queue – this one was only for VIPs. Wish there was a board or something that gave this info to visitors.
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VIP queue members had special red and blue tickets – some were volunteers, some said their senators gave it to them.
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The front half of the mile-long general queue
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We walked, and walked. There were several senior citizens too. I did not see any separate queue for them.

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There was a group rallying another cause at the site.
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This was their cause.

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Our place in the queue
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Smiling cause we finally made it.
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Nasty Woman tees being sold
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Some Madam President tees and badges
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Those who couldn’t stand decided to sit.
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Obama bags being sold in a cart
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My selfie after waiting for over an hour and a lot of walking. We were told the arena was full by now and there was another viewing place that was being filled.
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Garbage collection. All this was produced by the long queue
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The final wait before we were told to disperse. There were hundreds of people before and after me.
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UNF police telling us thank you for showing up
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Trump supporters passing by.

I just found this video on YouTube that clearly shows how early I should have been camping at the UNF to see Obama – 7.30am!

My first Halloween

October 31, 2016 was my first ever Halloween. Never before had I played host to trick or treaters and I was almost clueless about what to expect. I had no idea how many kids would come and so I bought a packet of 150 ‘fun-sized’ chocolates. Soon I was overwhelmed with Internet research and started believing even 150 would not be enough. Someone on Reddit suggested I keep 500 candy ready. So I spent my day googling how many chocolates to give each visitor. Aggggh!!! (I even found a ‘highly-scientific’ Halloween candy formula! What it does: Tells you how much candy to buy based on your location)

After it was all over, I ended up having extras cause I was stingy with the first few guests assuming that I would need some for the late comers. But this was a learning experience for next year. Here is what I learned, overall.

– For one: You must decorate your house. Lights, ghosts, pumpkins, anything that signifies that you are welcoming trick-or-treaters. I left my front porch light on which was good enough but next year I intend to do up the house. It just makes it more exciting for the children and clearly indicates that we are participating.

Check out my neighbor’s house!

Here are pictures from Publix and The Home Depot of things you can buy to decorate your house and lawn.

Ideas for decor include:

-Pumpkins
-Scarecrows
-Spiders
-Ghosts
-Gingerbread houses
-Reapers
-Tombstones
-Mummies
-Witches
-Skulls and skeletons

Here’s me with some more fancy, large-sized animated puppets. Guess these are for hotels and shops to decorate their windows.
The first one is man-made monster Frankenstein with wrist manacles, large plastic shoes, a cotton suit coat, LED eyes. The second fellow is a butler who mumbles something and can serve your guests candy in his metal plate.

Walmart started stocking these pretty early. August! They had various types and sizes of decorations and welcome messages.

– Secondly, I now know that only about 30 kids/guests will come. So I can divide my chocolates better. It’s nice to give about four or five. Stocking the correct approximate amount of candy is important so that you do not run out fast.

You get large packets of chocolates. You can also give out pretzels if you want to be different. This is what they were selling at Sam’s Club.

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Savory treats instead of the usual sweet candy – Pretzels and Cheese Balls at Sam’s Club

– Thirdly, the host must dress up too! I was unprepared so I wore my giant goggles for a while to welcome passersby but no one looked interested. haha. Next year, I will dress up as a Florida alligator or maybe Morticia Adams (she is easy to imitate)

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My last-minute costume. Big goggles and an inviting smile.

Here are photos of my visitors this year! They were so sweet. Some knocked at the door, some rang the bell and a few made creepy sounds for special effects.

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Clark Kent – Superman. He loves M&M’s
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Disney Princess Belle in a pretty golden gown.
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Woof, woof, woof with a lightsaber
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Mr Shark and Ms Elephant
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The desi gang. The girl with the dollar tie said she was a ‘gangsta’ 🙂
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She was dressed as a baby, had a pacifier
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Adi had dressed up as a dinosaur, his favorite animal

Writing in a circle at the Jax library

Today, I attended a free workshop at the Jacksonville Public Library in Downtown Jax. It is the ‘main library’ of the city housed in what looks like a heritage building and appears to be larger than the other public library centers in the city. The workshop was organised by the Women Writing For (A) Change, Jacksonville Chapter. The organizer was a friendly and welcoming host, writer Jennifer Wolfe.

Since we were a little late we drew chairs and joined the circle of about 20 women belonging to different age-groups sitting engrossed with handouts. They were reading a poem, titled Hallow-een by Winifred M. Letts. We grabbed our set of handouts and joined in the reading. I quickly glanced at the center of the circle at what appeared to be a colorful mat with a mysterious bowl on it. I drifted wondering how the bowl was connected to our workshop for the day. After the reading was complete, we passed on a stone. And then I realized that these mysterious objects were attributed magical powers based on the host’s imagination. How nice! The stone was passed around to all who were present giving the cue that whoever held it was conferred the magical power to speak. Everyone got a chance to pick their favorite lines from the poem… The workshop continued with some writing and discussion. It was a fun day out for me and I was happy to be in downtown Jax after so long. I still haven’t completed my driving test so usually end up being stuck in the suburbs. Feels like a bubble.

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Anyways, we had a free write task to do with a couple of starter options. Here’s what I wrote in the 6 minutes were given. I chose to start with ‘Alone in the night she waited for…

My free writing assignment submission.

Alone in the night she waited for someone to knock at the door or ring the bell. The lonely door which she had decorated with vermillion glitter, a garland of plastic pumpkins and friendly ghost cutouts. She had painstakingly handpainted white grimaces on the silver canvas skin of the ghosts to make them look welcoming. Inviting little trick-o-treaters was a front-yard fenced pathway decked with dancing fairy lights that were not too bright, not too jazzy, just perfect for the festive season.

Inside, she had three humongous bags placed on a sturdy rack, very close to the door. It was almost as if the bags were packing to leave on a month-long international tour. But the bags were filled with three different types of goodies. The first one had candy, the large packs which you get at Walmart and Costco. The second one had sour candy and cracker pills that shock your tongue when you wet them with saliva. And the third one had something unusual. Something only she would have thought of handing out to little sugar-crazy children – Strawberries. Strawberries because she wanted to send out a message – sugar is good but natural sugar is better and healthier. After all, she was a nutritionist.

(Added a few details after the event)

 

 

The bizarre videos that trend on YouTube

Lately, I’ve been spending sometime on Youtube.com/trending just to stay in touch with the latest on what is catching the Internet’s interest. Everyday, I come across something bizarre and I thought of listing some of these videos that pique a lot of interest and curiosity online. I really wonder how the creators of these videos think of ideas. It’s like the inside world of Reddit. Some of the stuff on it is so bizarre that you wonder how it manages to get a conversation started.

Like this one. 1131 comments in 10 hours and rising.

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Anyway, back to YouTube. Here are a few videos that probably went viral cause they satisfy the need for visual shock. Viewers want to know what happens next after reading the title. They are egged on to watch.

TRAMPOLINE VS 10,000 CHEESE BALLS!

What Happens If You Pour Boiled Water into Liquid Nitrogen?

Drinking Cyanide

The genius of Dylan

When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window, and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m a-traveling on
But don’t think twice, it’s all right.

I see a lot of people
As I make the rounds
And I hear her name here and there
As I go from town to town
And I’ve never gotten used to it
I’ve just learned to turn it off
Either I’m too sensitive
Or else I’m getting soft

Your mother says I’m a stranger
My face you’ll never see no more
But there’s one promise, darling
I’ll see you on God’s golden shore.

I heard the sounds of a clown who cried in the alley

Hurricane Matthew: Top viral images and video from social media

I was tracking Hurricane Matthew on social media. There were all kinds of posts and these are some that went viral. They were shared and reshared across social media like Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and YouTube.

1. The satellite image of a skull-faced storm: This satellite image of the storm appears to look like an evil-looking skull grinning away as it approaches the east coast of USA.
Matthew skull face.jpg

2. The indoor stork: This image of a stork whose usual habitat is usually outdoors, wet and arid was seen taking shelter inside a restroom at the St Augustine Alligator Farm. Based in Anastasia Island, the farm that was opened in 1893, hosts a range of crocodilians, reptiles, mammals and birds. For more information, visitwww.alligatorfarm.com.

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    Marabou stork sheltered indoors at St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Credit: www.facebook.com/TheAlligatorFarm

    3. The huge tree that was uprooted from the earth

 4. Hurricane Matthew meets slayer: A Florida man holds an American flag and defies the hurricane to the tune of Slayer’s Raining Blood.

5. Fox News reporter’s strange threat telling Florida residents they and their children would die.

6. Birds in eye of hurricane: So this is something new that I learnt. Birds fly into the eye of the hurricane which is apparently calmer. It’s a way they stay safe from the gusts of wind in the sky.

7. Waffle House surrenders to Hurricane Matthew

Apparently, FEMA unofficially uses Waffle House shutdowns as one of the methods to track the severity of a hurricane.

 

Hurricane Matthew: My first big hurricane experience

Hurricane Matthew will be here in some time, knocking on the door. That viral satellite image of the spinning storm that appears to look like a skull with an evil smile is stuck in my head. I am scared. It’s been raining for days in Jacksonville. Severe weather alerts and warnings have been issued on cellphones, television and radio so that people do not miss important messages. And while I wait for this storm to pass, I thought of jotting down a few things I learnt from my experience preparing for it.

A) Prepare the Hurricane Kit with essentials: Shop before it’s too late

Make sure you shop for these a few days in advance because there is usually a last-minute rush at stores and even the big shops run out of essentials. We went last-minute shopping because it was unavoidable and went from closed shops to ones that had run out of essentials including torches, propane, packaged water. Walmart closed early, Costco and Publix had run out of water, Home Depot had run out of torches and propane.

Water was being sold on the street for a steep price. Those who had no choice had to buy what was available. (Increasing the price of essentials is illegal)

Here’s the list of must-haves

  1. A battery-operated torch
  2. Batteries
  3. Battery-powered radio for news and updates.
  4. Propane / wood chips / charcoal for outdoor grilling
  5. Matchsticks / Lighter
  6. Packaged water / Drinking water – If you are okay with drinking tap water ensure you have containers, bottles, jars to fill and fill them in advance.
  7. Water for washing and cleaning – You can fill water in buckets or use the bathtub and washing machine. If you are using the bathtub, ensure you have a tub drain stopper in place.
  8. Packaged, ready-to-eat food/snacks. This includes granola bars, nuts, fruits, canned food (you will need a can-opener too), chips and biscuits, bread, pizza and baked food. Milk powder is a good alternative for milk.
  9. Vitamins and other medication.
  10. First aid kit: Bandages, antiseptic cream
  11. Sanitation wipes and sanitizer
  12. Tissue paper
  13. Ice bags to ensure frozen food doesn’t get bad fast. An alternative is what my friend on Twitter, Kirk Kittell suggested. Filling milk jugs with water and freezing them https://www.flickr.com/photos/kittell/3242517725

B) Secure all objects in the patio: Pots, furniture, outdoor grill should be moved indoors. They can be blown with heavy gusts of wind and cause damage.

C) Follow important news updates: You can do that by following mainstream media and verified sources on social media.

Officials: Governor Rick Scott (FLGovScott), Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry (lennycurry).

Government agencies, police, essential service providers: Jacksonville Sheriff’s office @JSOPIO, The City of Jax @cityofjax, Jax Airport @jaxairport, Jacksonville Electric Authority @NewsfromJEA (to send and receive updates about water and electricity outages).

Local Jacksonville news agencies on Twitter: @jaxdotcom, @news4jax, @ActionNewsJax @WOKVNews @metroj @FCN2go

D) Evacuate if you need to

E) Avoid loitering around

F) Volunteer to foster an animal:
Find out details about animal adoption and rescue agencies that need help with hosting animals. In Jax, animal shelter, The Jacksonville Humane Society had volunteers fostering all their animals. Isn’t that amazing?

G) Share important helpline numbers


F) Digitize important documents:
Digitize and create an online, password-protected copy of important documents and IDs.

G) Sit in a room, away from a glass window


H) Keep close friends and family updated

I) Do not touch downed power lines: Do not even drive or walk over them.

J) Enable emergency messages on your smartphone

 

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Cell phone hurricane emergency alerts that I received on my phone.

 

K) Refuel your vehicle.

L) Do not operate a generator indoors. People suffered carbon monoxide poisoning cause they did that. So operating generators in the garage, or carport is also an absolute NO-NO.

M) Keep sandbags handy: They are an inexpensive way to keep floodwaters out.

N) Keep your phone and mobile charger charged: You might suffer a power outage and have to be ready.

Indian celebrities on Snapchat

Just in case you were struggling to find IDs to follow. Here’s a list to start with. Mostly includes Bollywood actors.
The snapchat IDs are in blue font.

Sonam Kapoor – sonamakapoor
Her snaps are mostly from events that she is attending or places she is travelling. I like checking out her outfits.

Jacqueline Fernandez – jacqueen143
She’s fun and snaps a LOT. Her snaps are from her shoots and TV shows. She’s usually snapping while getting her hair and makeup done.

Sonakshi Sinha – asilsona

Parineeti Chopra- chopraparineeti
Parineeti’s snaps are usually of her fooling around on film sets with her colleagues and crew.

Nargis Fakhri- nargilove
Nargis does a lot of selfies.
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Rahul Khanna – MrKhannaSnaps
Rahul’s workout snaps are the best. Very inspiring and they always make me want to hit the gym.

Sunny Leone- imsunnyleone
She’s pretty active and snaps herself and her husband while travelling on assignments or for shoots and holidays.
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Sania Mirza- sania1586
Campion tennis player, Sania’s snaps are mostly of family and friends. She recently shared snaps wearing traditional wear from her sister’s wedding. Very pretty.

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Hoezaay- hoezaayc
VJ Hoezaay is one of my favourites on Vine and I bet he is really good on Snapchat too.

Not very active…
Ayesha Takia
ayeshatakiaazmi
Shraddha Kapoor- wanderlustmagic
Aditi Rao Hydari- aditiraohydari
Nikhil Chinnappa – nikhilcx

How to make emoji pillows: Video

Emojis, emoticons, smileys, smiley icons or whatever you like to call them – are here to stay. They’ve become the go-to replacement for many written words. Plus, they are trendy and we use them almost everyday to communicate with friends and family, sometimes even with colleagues. In certain cases, this fun and quick way to send messages is perhaps more effective than banal words and phrases. For example, a :p at the end of a sentence could imply that the person is fooling around, and an upside-down emoticon could signify irony.

And now, emojis have become the face of many accessories too. You see emoji mugs, bumper stickers, magnets, teeshirts, bags, soft toys, badges, cards, frames and stationery everywhere. One of the most popular emoji accessories is the emoticon pillow. I saw them at Walmart and a couple of other stores too.

img_5274And as easy as it is to buy them, it’s even easier and should I say challenging to make them yourself. They make for awesome gifts! Hand-made emoji pillows are the perfect toys for children too. here’s a video of me making emoji pillows for Cartini scissors. Making them is really easy and this step-by-step video will show you just how. You will need basic craft material which is easily available. Hope you like the video and try making these at home yourself.

I created a step-by-step guide on how to create these smiley cushions at home. The DIY video is part of a series I did for Cartini scissors, a Godrej brand.

Here’s a video of me making the emoticon pillows.

You will need basic craft material which is easily available. Hope you like the video and try making these at home yourself.

What you need:

Scissors – Try Cartini, they are pretty sharp and sleek
Yellow, red, black and white felt cloth
A glue gun
Some polyester stuffing
Cloth pencil
Determination
A person you want to gift the pillow to :p

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