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Posts from — May 2015

Pawsible: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Over the six years that we’ve had dogs, we’ve moved their and our sleeping quarters quite a bit. Sometimes they sleep with us, sometimes by themselves and other times we sleep with them.

Confused? Well, we have clearly demarcated spaces for sleeping at home. The bedroom is our sleeping space and the hall is the dogs sleeping space but we shuffle around. 😀

Every so often we get tired of sharing bed space and the dogs get unceremoniously evicted from the bedroom. Oh the crying we have to deal with for a couple of days. But these bouts of sleeping without the dogs rarely lasts long.

Before we know it we are back to opening the doors to the dogs and cuddling up for the night. Don’t know why we do it considering that that makes eight of us in that room; its not a bedroom, it’s a dorm.

Every night is a new layout, a new pattern. The dogs have their favourite spots and we find space for ourselves in between them all. And then there is Cuckoo who gets up at every sound and when she returns from an inspection expects you to lift the sheet and make space for her. If you don’t, you get punched until you do.

It the reason for the evictions, after waking up a couple of days in a row sore due to weird sleeping positions and sleepless because of Cuckoo’s punching, we’ll tolerate even Buddha whine through the night just for some bed space. So out go the dogs.

There are many advantages to not having the dogs in the room at night. You get the whole bed. You don’t have to doggy proof the bedroom. You don’t have to worry about things lying around. You bedroom doesn’t have a coating of fur. You don’t wake up in the middle of the night to a nasty fart. And so on…

But nothing beats have them around you snuggled and warm at night. I sleep so much better with them around. And I wake up better too, who wouldn’t when you wake up to a doggie face. :)

 

Photo Credit: Chenthil Mohan

P.S. – Day Fourteen of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 18, 2015   1 Comment

The Week That Was: Week 21

The last week has been challenging and fulfilling. I have been more productive than I’ve been in a while. I got a fair bit done in multiple spaces, and I haven’t done that in a while.

We’ve also had weird weather. It’s boiling hot two days followed by cloudy skies for two days which in turn are trailed by hot days and rainy evenings. This is the wrong month for rain, it hope it doesn’t impact the crops too much.

The Week on the Blog

 

After the AtoZ Challenge this month I’m doing the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. I’ve not best army best through the challenge until now, I’ve missed a few days and not been able to keep up with the study material at all. Got to try harder.

I did make some changes to the blog though. I added the Jetpack and Worpress SEO by Yoast plugin’s. They are simple but packed with so much stuff. With each post I’m figuring out SEO.

The Week in Reading

 

I’ve been trying to finish reading the Perry Mason series for a while now. I just never got down to reading Mason in school and college and had to correct that error. Now I’m almost done, just two more books to go!

Now that the collection is done I’m hoping to finish with my long pending review list soon. Need to make inroads into it and fast. This week I’m hoping to read ‘Choked’ by Bharath Sarma Rejeti.

The Week in Gardening

 

Last week I got some cuttings from an aunt and planted them. The aum plant and lemon grass seem to be chugging along but the strawberries and mint seem to have died. I’ve got my fingers crossed hoping for some magic.

I also sowed a fresh batch of cherry tomato, two varieties of other tomatoes, two varieties of chillies and two of basil. It’s time to get the kitchen garden going in ernest.

The Week in Health and Fitness

 

I’ve been cheating on my diet a bit and have had a couple of coffees and teas. This week been one of lots of gas, mild discomfort most days and one bad night. I test out gripe water last month and it seemed to help so now I’ve a bottle handy always. 😀

Che and I started a 10 days swimming challenge. We’ve been going late evening and this weather it’s been lovely to get into the pool after the heat of the day. However we managed only 3 days before life caught up again. Got to do better next week.

 
What have you been upto last week?

 
P.S. – Day Thirteen of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 17, 2015   No Comments

Saturday Social: Does Your Small Business Need Twitter?

 

Twitter is one of the networks that should be in your top 5 when you think social media, however it’s placement on that list is based on your type of business.

If you run a small business, managing your own social media makes sense financially and for branding. But when you are doing everything yourself, you have to choose carefully what you spend your time on.

So, how do you know if Twitter is for you? Before you decide to launch your company on twitter you should sit back and figure a few things out.

 

Objective

Evaluate what is your objective is to use Twitter for your company/product and what you would like to achieve from it. Being clear at the start makes it easier to decide what you will do on Twitter and how much of it. You’ll be able figure out whether you need a company profile or a personal profile. It will also help to measure ROI.

 

Audience

Twitter is quite a popular network in India but not everyone is on it. For example you may not find a lot of retired folk on it but you will find a lot of celebrities and young people. So gauge your audience carefully and see if they hang out on Twitter. Twitter is the network for you if it’s users are your audience.

 

Relevance

A good place to start is with some searching and reading. Look up keywords that are important to your business and assess how much people talk about it. For Example, if you are into a herbal products business, search for words like hair, shampoo, herbal, etc. and see how many people are talking about the topic. If you find enough chatter, Twitter is worth getting into as you can make relevant conversations.

 

Activity

Look for others doing similar business to you on Twitter and study the activities they do on their news stream. Make note of the things that have worked for them and the mistakes they have made. These learning will help you chose your activities well and make them a success.

 

Time

Remember that your time is limited. Also remember that becoming successful on Twitter takes time. With all the information you have gathered you can now figure out how much time managing your twitter profile will take. Can dedicate that much time consistently?

 

With all this in mind, now look at Twitter and see where it fits in your Top 5. For that matter you could use this same yardstick to measure any other network too.

After all this assessment if you know for sure that Twitter is the next network to add to your social profile, go to Twitter.com and click Register. All the Best!! :)

P.S. – If you are wondering what to do next, I’ll be covering that and more as the weeks roll by. Leave me any questions you have in comments and I’ll try and answer it. :)

 
P.S. – Day Twelve of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 16, 2015   No Comments

Friday Review: Woodpie( ver 2) – A Paper-Book Sharing Site

About two years ago I came across the site ‘Woodpie’, a site for the exchange of books. The idea was very interesting and so I explored the site and wrote my views and review on it.

After the initial week or two of use the site fell away and over time I forgot all about it. Then a couple of weeks back I received an email telling me Woodpie was all updated and new and shiny now.

I figured another review was due. I was also curious to see what the improved site looked like and how many of the issues I’d raised, had been sorted. 😀

Welcome Page

The new welcome screen is clean and engaging. It’s well laid out with enough information to show that the heart of Woodpie has stayed the same through all changes. The site is all about book exchange.

And guess who’s testimonial was up there 😀

Home Page

The first thing I notice after the home page is it simple clean lines. It feels nice on the eye and makes we want to explore more. A pinterest type layout that is easy to navigate.

This page tells you all about what other users of Woodpie are doing in a nice cards layout. It feels good to scroll through all those book covers and see which ones catch my eye.

The page also has little widgets/column’s with lists of popular books and popular people, to help you find books to read and make friends in the community.

‘Me’ Tab

The ‘Me’ section has all the books I’ve added placed on shelves. There is also options to check out the ‘Reviews’ I’ve done, my ‘Wishlist’ and my ‘Friends’.

The page looks clean and I like how it is laid out. The bio section with numbers of reviews, books and wishlist is a handy thing for a quick appraisal.

Editing the profile is also easy and intuitive. On your Woodpie profile you can currently list links to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and your Blog. What you see in the Me is what everyone else sees too when they come to your profile.

The Friends section has three divisions – the people you are connected to,people who are connected to you and Facebook contacts. The first two work quite like the following options on Goodreads or Facebook.

Clicking on Facebook contacts lists out my Facebook friends with an invite button next to each profile. As of now the listing seems limited to 32 friends and the site can’t load beyond that. I would have also liked to see a search option so I could get past the letter A quickly. 😀

Library

Clicking on the Library option takes you to a page filled with books. Here there are some excellent options to choose from. You can take a looks at all the books shared on Woodpie or look at just books in your city. You can also choose to view books from a list of 20 countries and active cities in it.

Trade

The Trade section has a listing of exchange offered made by you and to you. Since my trade section was empty I decided to try requesting a book and see how it worked out.

You can choose the book you want from your Wishlist section or click on any book in the Library. In your wishlist if a book is available (someone has it) you’ll see a ‘Get It’ note below the book details. The library of course has book that someone already has.

Searching for a book isn’t a great option as the results show all editions of the book and if you do not choose the same edition as other users, you will not be able to request the book.

Clicking on the ‘Get It’ option causes a drop down with the flow of getting the book. You first see a list of users who have the book. After you have chosen the user, you next have to choose the book you want to give in exchange on your list or books the user has requested. Finally before you confirm, you can suggest a place and time to meet up.

The exchange process is well laid out and simple. Once a exchange request is placed it shows up in the trade section. I would have liked to see options to mail or courier books too. That way I’m not limited to any city.

Adding Books

There are also two little buttons at the top to Add/Review Book and Invite Friends. Clicking on the Add button leads to a search box, and the results of a search give you a listing of various editions of the book.

The listing also has a lot of books related to your search topic. That’s means aside from the usual title, author and ISBN, you can also search by topic, though you may have to scroll through a lot of stuff.

Each book listing has options to add it to your library, request it or review it. If the book is already in your library, on your wishlist or reviewed the buttons will be depressed. The difference in the buttons being active and inactive is very slight. I’d have like it to be more prominent.

Invite Friends

The invite friends option leads to a page with three ways to find friends – Facebook, Email and Woodpie. The Facebook option here works well and lists all friends in a never ending list. Here too a search option would have been helpful.

The email section asks for a list of email ID’s. I would have liked a way to import email ID’s rather than type or copy paste them individually. In the preview email invite sent out goes from Anuradha Bajpai. I’d have liked to send the email out with my name.

The last option is to connect with users on Woodpie. This is a great way to find new book friends and create a new network of friends.

Apart from all of this in the top right hand corner you have settings and notifications. Settings allows you to choose what notifications you get and control Woodpie’s posting on your behalf on Facebook. Notifications is the usual listing of alerts. I would have liked to see date and time here tomato each alert more relevant.

Summary

Over all Woodpie looks and behaves way better than when I saw it two years ago. The usability and smoothness is good and I enjoyed going through the page. There are still some glitches to be smoothed out but nothing that majorly takes away from the experience.

The biggest drawback I see is not in the site but the concept. I don’t know how many people today want to metope and exchange books. That needs to the core missing piece I saw. There aren’t enough users right now and until the critical number is reached the site isn’t going to be very helpful.

That said, I would like to see a future for Woodpie as it would bring book lovers closer and revive paper books to some extent.

P.S. – I also hope they move their Social Links elsewhere. On a page with unlimited scrolling trying to click on links at the bottom of the page is a b*tch. 😛

 
P.S. – Day Eleven of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 15, 2015   2 Comments

Thursday Travel: Top 3 Travel Companies that Make a Difference

Nothing really beats travelling on your own or travelling on a shoe-string budget but sometimes some tours and packages come a close second.

Some trips, even though organised, can change your world, yep they are that good. These packages tend to be the hatke, they do things differently. An whether they intend to or not, they make a difference.

Disclaimer – the following travel companies / organisations are run by friends but that isn’t why I’m recommending them. Well, partly. 😀 Mostly though it’s because I’ve travelled with them, experienced what they do and just can’t stop talking about them. 😛

Without further ado, here’s my top 3 travel companies in no particular order except that I’m start with wheels and end with stationary. 😀

 

IndiMotard Adventures

Traveling by motorcycle is a thing to do at least once in your life. It’s a different experience, the way you see the world and feel it changes. The sun in your face, the wind in your hair are cliches until you actually experience it. And if you haven’t experienced this yet, IndiMotard Adventures is a good place to begin.

They have three main trips as of now Cambodia, Himalayas and Sri Lanka. But they also do customs tours so you could plan with them to go just about any where you want. I recommend their Cambodia trip. I haven’t done this myself but many friends have, and my do they have stories to tell.

Contact:
Website – http://indimotard.com/
Email – info@indimotard.com
Phone – +91 94484 94080

 

Journeys with Meaning

My most recent journey to Meghalaya was with JwM and I’m glad for it. There were experiences I’d not have had otherwise. JwM opens new doors in your mind as you travel, you start to see things you never saw before and by the time you return the world isn’t the same anymore.

The guys over at JwM aim for an all round experience so you will not only see the sights, but also meet the people and understand their life, culture, challenges and more. It’s a great way to travel for you’ll really know the places you’ve been to. Like their ad copy says, theirs is ‘Travel that Transforms.’ :)

Contact:
Website – http://www.signposts.co.in/
Email – journeyswithmeaning@gmail.com
Phone – +91 98191 54365

 

Spiti Ecosphere

Local and Sustainable are the words that come to mind when I think of Spiti Ecosphere. This organisation aims to create sustainable livelihoods and in the process save history and culture. If you like to experience what it’s like to live in a mud house in the Himalayas, use a dry toilet, ride a yak, trek, mountain bikes, and such, this is the right place for you.

Spiti Ecosphere makes history and culture lucrative in such a way that locals want to hold on to their old ways and people want to experience those ways. It’s an excellent ecosystem that I hope more places and people will implement. This does not mean the arrest of modernisation or amenities but rather a balance and well informed choice of change.

Contact:
Website – http://www.spitiecosphere.com/
Email – info@spitiecosphere.com
Phone – +919418860099, +919418439294

 
These are my picks but there must be more out there. Have you experienced travel with a difference? Are there other travel companies you’ve journeyed with? What did you think of them?

 
P.S. – Day Ten of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 14, 2015   No Comments

Video Wednesday: Becoming a Youtuber

Youtube is turning out to be quite a medium for video consumption and I’m slowly getting sucked in. I’m not much of a Youtuber but I’m trying to experience it and see if I like it.

One of the key criteria for this is enjoyment. Apart from the movies I watch online, my other Youtube consumption also has to be fun. That means I need to follow the right channels so I get the right goods.

In an attempt to curate and cull my subscription list I have been going through the videos the channels I subscribe to post. This process is going to take a while but the upside is that off and on I come across a well done video or short film.

Here’s two short films I came across and enjoyed. One’s the sweet cute love story types, the classic story most of our Bollywood movies are build on. The other is a thriller of which I didn’t see the end coming.

Enjoy…

 

The Most Beautiful Thing

 

 

A Missing Housewife

 

 

I’m on a search to find good Youtube channels for short films. Have recommendations? Please, let me know in comments.

 
P.S. – Day Nine of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 13, 2015   No Comments

Tuesday At The Movies: Night Crawler and Dawn Of The Planet of The Apes

I’d been meaning to share two more old hindi movies I watched in April but Che and I impulsively watched two movies today, so I’m sharing those instead.

Nightcrawler

 

Rating: ****/5 – Should Watch
Release: 31 October 2014
Language: English
Running time: 117 minutes
Director: Dan Gilroy
Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton
Music: James Newton Howard
Cinematography: Robert Elswit
Editing: John Gilroy

 

 

 

An serious and thought provoking movie, Nightcrawler is about a guy who roams the streets at night stealing just about anything he can. He stumbles on to an accident one night and sees a cameraman in action.

This sets him off on a mission to improve his prospects. He buys a video camera, a scanner to monitor police frequencies, gets himself an assistant and starts out.

Initially it’s as simple as listening to the radio, rushing off to the accident spot to grab a video before anyone else and then selling it to the news channels. But as he gets into the game he finds that is much more to it.

A snarky take on the corporate world about the games played, the sweet sounding insults, the stellar sales pitches and the politics, Nightcrawler is a fun movie to watch.

 

Dawn Of The Planet of The Apes

 

Rating: ***/5 – Could Watch
Release: 11 July 2014
Language: English | American Sign Language
Running time: 130 minutes
Director: Matt Reeves
Actors: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo
Music: Michael Giacchino
Cinematography: Michael Seresin
Editing: William Hoy, Stan Salfas

 

I’m not a great fan of this series but I have watched all the previous movies and this one completed the set. The movie is about how the Planets of Apes came about.

It all starts out with the accidental outbreak of simian flu and the escape of the apes that were being experimented on with the virus.

Over a few years the flu ravages entire counties and leave only a very small number of people surviving who are immune to the virus. One particular group of survivors sends out a search party with the objective of finding and restarting an old dam as they are running out of fuel. The group stumble upon the the ape society and there conflict begins.

If you are a Planet of The Apes fan you’ll enjoy this movie. The costumes and graphics are well done and the storyline is quite believable too.

What movies have you watched lately?

 
P.S. – Day Eight of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 12, 2015   No Comments

Pawsible Weekly: The Kibble Konundrum

Ever since the heat set in, the mongrels have been fussing about their food. They don’t like most meat pieces, have specific requirements and the requirements change so fast that I can’t keep up with them.

Especially Elu who has been turning up her nose a lot. The amount she has been doing that has had me worried and I switched to chicken for a bit to ease her appetite. But even chicken she is fussy about. She isn’t eating with gusto.

For this reason and the desire to get the dogs used to more types of food, we tried kibble. Drools Focus seems the reasonable best in the market right, so Focus it was. The first attempt seemed a hit with all except William.

The dogs seemed to like the change in their menu. I’d thought they wouldn’t take to kibble easily after meat but no such thing happened. They pounced up on it, happy about the variety and enjoying the crunch of the pellets.

William the first time we tried kibble did funny things as he ate it. His eyes started to water and he looked dopey for a while after eating. By second day he wasn’t bounding up to eat, had had loose stools and he even threw up. At this point we switched back to meat.

It took a week for systems to settle back down and poop to come back to normal. Then this week I decided to try again. One of the mistakes I made last time was to split the meal into two like I do with meat.

When you switch between types of food, or you introduce a new food/meat, you introduce it slowly and gradually. Instead of doing two meals, I should have done 4 or 5 meals in a day. Small amounts of a new food would be easier on the stomach then a big quantity. That might explain Williams reaction.

Anyway, this time round I went at it slow and did 4 to 5 meals spread through the day. And the dogs seemed to have transitioned better. Tummy’s seemed to have settled, poop is soft but well formed pellets and appetites seem good too.

It’s been a bit more work, feeding six dogs multiple times a day, but the upside is that they and I have had a chance to practice patience. All dogs have had to sit patiently outside the kitchen while one is eating inside. They come one at a time and only when called. They then have to sit and wait for food to be served.

Sounds like a process but when I started out, I was chasing dogs in and out, and doing a lot of other drama too. But doing something 4 times day for one whole week, makes for practice, rhythm, tweaking and good understanding.

It’s amazing to watch Max get better and better each day with his impulse control. Eli is still struggling to figure our the kitchen laxman-rekha but she’s getting better at it. It’s also been fun doing it all with the dogs as the food isn’t messy and icky like meat. 😀

But a week of kibble hasn’t been all good, there are some things that I’m just not content about. Drools Focus doesn’t have corn and hence is the better of the packaged foods in the market. That said, the poop quality though better than other kibble, is still not as good as meat. It’s not hard, compact and only mildly smelly like meat poop, this is poop you’ll remember for a while after cleaning up.

And it’s just the poop that is smelly, even the pee is off. No, it’s not smelly in the stinking sense, but rather smelly in the rich sense. As if it’s filled with nutrients. It’s an overwhelming smell and you can’t escape it. After a week it feels like my whole house smells of kibble pee.

Even the dogs smell different, I think. Over the past couple of days I’ve been feeling the dogs have started to smell kibbley. Dogs should smell I dogs and I’m fine with dog smell but this is body odour.

This week I switch the dogs back to meat and chicken and I’m looking forward to all the smells changing back to before. I wonder how long it will take.

Now that their systems have settled I’m unlikely to ever do kibble for so long here on. I’m going to be switching between kibble, chicken and meats often. Have you done kibble in-between meat cycles? Noticed any of the stuff I was mentioning? What kibble do you feed?

Gawd that was a lot of talk about food, poop and pee. 😛 In other news Max’s ear wax culture reports have come and the Vet suggests a ear canal flushing. One of these days soon we’re going to have to put him under and clean out his ear. I’m hoping the procedure goes off well.

All else is fine on the Pawsible front. See you next week. :)

 
P.S. – Day Seven of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 11, 2015   No Comments

It’s Simple, Josh Talks! – Part 2

***Continued from Part 1

Back after stuffing my face with only a mini samosa and and small veg sandwich, as there was time only for that. I grabbed my seat again, looking forward to the second half of Josh Talks.

Anirudh took over the host duties for the second half and invited Sijo Kuruvilla to take the stage. Sijo is the co-founder of Startup Village, a space that promotes entrepreneurship in college. Sijo shared his tale about growing up in Kerala, bunking college, playing basketball and starting a company.

The next speaker was one of my favourites of the afternoon. Revanna Umadevi is and has been a typist in the Karnataka Horticulture Department for some 35 years now. It was at the age of 29 that she discovered her love for and her skill at billiards. She started learning, practicing and playing and in 2012 Revanna won the World Billiards Championship.

Revanna is a quiet simple woman, whose humility was the most moving thing for me in her talk. Vineeth Vincent who came to speak aftercare was anything but that. Vineeth is a beatboxer, that’s a person with the art of producing drumbeats, rhythm and musical sounds with the mouth and voice.

Vineeth was another speaker that is not heard but experienced. A chirpy smiling full of energy guy, he takes your breath away. He started his talk with teaching how to beatbox, beginning with the simple stuff. He then followed it up with examples of what he does and his growing up years. Vineeth didn’t seem like he had struggled much to achieve his dream but then again, maybe there’s more to that smile.

Madan Padaki took the stage after and told us about his childhood, his first company MeritTrac, his learnings and experiences and his journey to Rubanomics. His current project that aims to bridge the gap between Rural and Urban.

Madan was followed by Shradha Sharma of Your Story. Shards reminisced about when she was in 3rd standard. Her teacher had told her she was not good enough and that set her off to keep proving herself. That incident made her believe everyone had a story, a story that makes them stronger people, and it was this inspiration that was behind Your Story.

The event wound down with the last speaker Niranjan Mukundan. Niranjan was born with a rare medical condition – Spina bifida. He was lucky in that the condition did not affect his mental faculties, only his body. He was told to swim by his doctors to strengthen his body, his mother took him to Jayanagar Swimming Club and the rest is history. Niranjan is now a many time state and national champion and one of India’s hopes in the next para-olympics.

The event closed with a vote of thanks and the entire team of volunteers took to the stage to be acknowledged. The team had done an awesome job, the event had been organised well and it ran on time without many glitches.

The brain child of two 20 year olds, Shobhit Banga and Supriya Paul, Josh Talks amazed me. I hadn’t gone with very many expectations but I certainly hadn’t expected this. The event far exceeded my expectations. 😀

An event that aims to showcase India’s Most Inspiring Stories, Josh Talks delivers on it’s promise.
Their speakers were gems, simple people from around us but yet local unsung heroes. Listening to ordinary people who had done extraordinary things and their tales about their struggles leaves you feeling inspired, filled with an urge to get out there and do your thing.

Still a relatively new idea, this was just the third edition of #JoshTalks. But that doesn’t faze Shobhit and Supriya who have plans of doing a lot more events across India before the end of this year. I wish them luck and look forward to attending future Josh Talks.

Please visit the Josh Talks website for more details on events and speakers.
 

Photo Credit: Chenthil Mohan

 
P.S. – Day Six of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

May 10, 2015   No Comments