The cynosure in most village festivals in Tamilnadu would be entertainment items such as the theru koothu, karakaattam, dancing, singing, drama or a pattimandram (debating platforms), etc. But, what many, even in Tamilnadu, do not know is the fact that this nondescript village enacts 100 dramas every year to please the village deity – “Thaanaai mulaitha Thanilinga Perumal” (தானாய் முளைத்த தனிலிங்கப் பெருமாள்) meaning “self-sprouted Thanilinga Perumal”. So much so, the villagers do not fancy cinema theatres.
Even in this modern scientific era, women barred from entering the Thanilinga Perumal temple, pray to the deity standing outside the temple.
On the stage erected in front of the temple, the villagers allow only performance of dramas. They consider the stage sanctified and none can approach it wearing any kind of footwear.
According to a former village headman, the deity Thanilinga Perumal loves staged dramas; hence his devotees perform dramas 100 days per year to please him.
Devotees entreat the deity to fulfil their request and in return pledge to stage a drama of their liking when the deity answers their prayers.
This tradition of staging dramas in this particular village dates back to the days of Thirumalai Nayakkar who ruled Madurai from 1623 to 1659 when a severe drought brought famine to Valayankulam and other surrounding villages. Since the people believed the deity Thanilinga Perumal loved staged drama, they pledged to perform a drama if he answered their prayer for rain. Miraculously, it rained and the village had a bountiful harvest. As obligated, the villagers staged a drama the following year to thank their village deity. From then on to date, the village has been performing dramas to please their deity.
Around this time, when king Thirumalai Nayakkar visited the Thanilinga Perumal temple, the villagers entertained him by performing a drama from Mahabharata titled “Abhimanyu Sundari” – the story of Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna and Subhadra, and his first wife Sundari. The king relished the play and praised the actors who took part in it, and those actors adopted the phrase ‘Thirumalai mechinaar‘ (திருமலை மெச்சினார்) meaning ‘Praised by Thirumala’ as their family name.
Consequently, the first play performed during the drama festival would always invariably be Abhimanyu Sundari performed exclusively by members of the Thirumalai mechinaar families
Every year the drama festival begins on Maha Sivarathri or ‘Great Night of Shiva’, a Hindu festival celebrated annually in reverence to mark the marriage of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati – the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. From that day onwards the villagers enact a drama daily for 100 days without any interruption.
The villagers believe that if anyone prays to their deity and pledges to stage a drama, the deity would hearken to their prayers. The villagers of Valayankulam boast that barren couples who pray for issues would come to the temple the following year with their offsprings and offer their thanks by sponsoring a drama.
In the past, when there was no electricity, the villagers lit the stage using flaming torches. Hence even now, to uphold the tradition, the villagers carry flaming torches from the village square to the stage with pomp and ceremony before the day’s play begins. When the torch bearers reach the stage, the pujari or archaka (priest) performs special ceremonies in the temple.
After paying the due respects to the seniors of the village, the play will begin at 10:00 pm and will proceed till 5:00 am the following day. The pujari keeps the door of the sanctum sanctorum open during this time for the deity to view the play.
The drama festivities will culminate on Chithra Fullmoon Day followed by a banquet for people belonging to all castes.
The minimum cost of staging a play by mediocre actors would amount to ₹25,000 and might go up to ₹60,000 to ₹1,00,000 if performed by cinema actors. Almost all Tamil drama actors and artisans connected with the dramatic art have performed or taken part on the stage at Valayankulam before the deity Thanilinga Perumal.
Staging a play at Valayankulam whenever one likes is not easy as anyone might think. Devotees who have pledged to sponsor a play have to pay ₹100 and wait in a long queue for at least a year to stage it on a stipulated date.
Note: I gleaned most of the above details from the article published in dhinasari.com written in Tamil titled, “வருடத்தில் 100 நாட்கள் நாடகம் நடைபெறும் கிராமம்” (“A village where dramas are performed 100 days per year”) by Mr. S.P. Senthilkumar, a reputed Tamil journalist from Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.
A few days ago, during the incessant rain and floods in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India, a little boy wanted 100 rupees to buy food for his family who had not eaten for two days. He prayed to God. When nothing happened and no one officially came to help them, he decided to write a request letter to God.
A puzzled post office staff on seeing the letter addressed to God forwarded it to the Chief Minister.
The amused Chief Minister thought that 100 rupees would be a lot of money for a little boy to buy food. So, she instructed her secretary to send the little boy 30 rupees instead from the Chief Minister’s relief fund.
When the little boy received the money he was delighted. He wrote the following ‘Thank you’ letter to the CM:
“Dear God, I thank you for sending me money through the Chief Minister’s Office Secretariat in Chennai. However, I would like you to know that corrupt asses there must have swindled 70 rupees as their commission! “
Patti Frustaci, a 30-year-old English teacher at Rubidoux High School, in Riverside, California, and wife of 32-year-old Samuel Frustaci, an industrial equipment salesman for a Buena Park firm, had already conceived a child, a healthy toddler named Joseph.
Even though they already had a healthy child, Patti and Samuel opted for fertility treatment. From August to November of 1984, Dr. Jaroslav Marik, a pioneer in his field with a stellar reputation treated Patti Frustaci at Tyler Medical Clinics Inc., of West Los Angeles, where Marik was a part owner. He treated Patti with the drug Pergonal, a fertility drug used for fertility issues in women, especially women who are anovulatory and oligo ovular.
When ultrasound examinations performed during the following January revealed the presence of seven fetuses which meant that the fetuses had a slim chance of surviving until term. When Patti’s obstetrician warned of the possible outcome, and counseled her to have a selective abortion by which a doctor would remove several of the fetuses in order that the remaining unborn offsprings would have a better chance of survival. Being Mormons by faith, the Frustacis invoked God’s teaching and spurned abortion.
Patti Frustaci got admitted in St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California on March 25, 1985.
A 38-member medical team was constituted at St. Joseph Hospital to assist Patti’s obstetrician, Dr. Martin Feldman, in what was to become the first largest multiple births in the medical history of the United States of America.
The average duration of a normal pregnancy is 280 days (40 weeks), calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period, with 85 to 95% babies born between the 266th and the 294th days. Common deviations thus range up to 14 days in either direction. However, in the Frustaci case, the medical team determined that the babies would have a better chance of survival if they completed 28 weeks of gestation in the mother’s womb before their birth.
Patti’s hypertension threatened to deprive the fetuses of nutrition. As a result of hypertension, the team of doctors scheduled the surgery after her condition declined from good to fair.
On May 21, 1985, Patti Frustaci was wheeled into the delivery room at St. Joseph Hospital.
Beginning at 8:19 am, the operation went smoothly without any hitch led by Dr. Martin Feldman. It took only three minutes for the caesarean section team to deliver the first septuplets in the United States, prematurely at 28 weeks. For Dr. Feldman, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The seventh-born septuplet, later named Christina Elizabeth, was stillborn, apparently died in the uterus several days before. The 32-year-old Samuel Frustaci, had a moment alone with the stillborn baby and held it as did his wife Patti after she came out of the general anesthesia.
The weights of the septuplets ranged from 15.5 ounces (439.42 grams) to 1 pound 13 ounces (822.14 grams).
About 10 minutes after delivery, to compensate for the immaturity of their lungs and immune systems, the six surviving Frustaci septuplets requiring a higher level of care were transferred to the adjacent CHOC Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph Hospital and placed on respirators and antibiotics.
At St. Joseph Hospital, where the babies were delivered and as Patti Frustaci remained in the intensive care unit, the switchboard was flooded with calls of well-wishers. Many of the calls were from new mothers offering support, prayers and outgrown baby clothes. Also, bouquets of flowers and huge baskets filled with stuffed toys arrived at the hospital.
On Thursday, May 23, 1985, the sixth-born septuplet, David Anthony, the tiniest of the six Frustaci septuplets who survived birth, nicknamed “Peanut,” went into “respiratory distress” around 7 pm. The doctors were able to resuscitate him. He died the following day, Friday, May 24, 1985, at 12:34 am.
Peanut was brought to Patti from CHOC after he died, and she held him for about an hour. According to Samuel Frustaci, the hardest thing for Patti is the fact that she never got the chance to see (Peanut) alive.
On Wednesday, May 29, 1985, around 12:30 pm, wearing a lavender robe and cradling a bouquet of roses, a joyous Patti Frustaci emerged from St. Joseph Hospital on a wheelchair to the cheers and applause of employees of the hospital in a wheelchair. A jubilant Samuel Frustaci accompanied his wife Patti, passing a horde of reporters got into a waiting car en route to the home of Patti’s parents where she would continue recuperating while her five surviving septuplets remained behind at CHOC. A wagon full of stuffed animals attached to balloons followed her car.
The second-born septuplet, James Martin, who was in the most critical condition and had been given a 50-50 chance of survival died after 16 days on June 6, 1985.
Three days later, on Sunday, June 9, 1985, Bonnie Marie, the fourth-born septuplet, who for so long beat the odds against her survival, died at 12:25 pm. She lasted a week longer than they gave her.
All three infants succumbed to cardiopulmonary failure and arrest due to severe hyaline membrane disease, a disorder of the alveoli and respiratory passages that result in the inadequate expansion of the lungs.
The three surviving septuplets, two boys, and one girl: Steven Earl, Richard Charles and Patricia Ann, were on oxygen and medication to fight infection. Because of their traumatic birth, the doctors suspected that both boys may also have cerebral palsy. The Children’s Hospital of Orange County released them one at a time beginning in mid-August 1985 as they recovered from problems that afflict premature babies.
Extraordinary expenses such as the cost of their medical care amounted to more than $1 million, offset only partially by offers of free food, goods and services and an exclusive interview contract with People magazine. As the infants died, many withdrew their endorsements and many offers never materialized.
The first birthday for the three surviving Frustaci septuplets was marked by disclosures that the two boys have cerebral palsy and all three suffer from eye, hearing and breathing disorders. The two boys had hernia surgery and all the infants attached to monitors that sound a warning when breathing stops.
Initially, the Frustacis considered the births as a “blessing”” on their family, but grieved the loss of four children. Then the reality of caring for three premature infants quickly became an ordeal.
Since they followed the Mormon faith, it stands to reason that the outcome of the pregnancy was God’s will. But since they could not sue God, the Frustacis went after the next best candidates, the Taylor Clinic and Dr. Jaroslav Marik.
On October 7, 1985, the Frustacis filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Tyler Medical Clinics Inc. of West Los Angeles, the fertility clinic that treated Patti Frustaci, and her physician, Dr. Jaroslav Marik who prescribed and injected Patti Frustaci with the fertility drug Pergonal.
The suit accused the clinic and the physician of failing to monitor fertility medication properly and to perform tests that could have indicated the potential for multiple births before conception. It blamed them for health and developmental disabilities of the surviving three babies afflicted with eye problems and considered developmentally retarded.
The suit also alleged medical malpractice, four wrongful deaths of their babies, loss of earnings and of earning capacity as a result of the overprescription of the fertility drugs. The Frustacis sought $1 million for current and future medical expenses, and $1.25 million for non-economic losses – $250,000 for each parent and for each of the three surviving infants.
The fertility clinic admitted no wrongdoing.
In July 1990, the Tyler Medical clinic agreed to pay $450,000 immediately and the three children would receive monthly payments for the rest of their lives. If the surviving three children live to a normal life expectancy, the award could total $6 million.
Dr. Marik, the fertility specialist who treated Patti Frustaci, refused to participate in the agreement. The doctor said at a news conference that he was not to blame for the plight of the Frustaci septuplets because Mrs. Frustaci was a patient who did not follow instructions and had a tendency to decide what she wanted to do.
On Monday, June 22, 1987, Patti Frustaci was driving from Las Vegas to Barstow on Interstate 15 with her three surviving septuplets. Her van got stuck in the sand in the middle of the highway when she tried to make a U-turn across the center divider. California Highway Patrol officers arrested her on suspicion of drunken driving. She was released five hours later on her own recognizance and her 2-year-old infants were handed over to their father.
On December 21, 1990, Five and a half years after the birth of the septuplets, the 36-year-old Patti Frustaci treated with the same fertility drug, Pergonal at another clinic gave birth to healthy twins – a boy and a girl, at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. They named them Jordan Browne and Jaclyn Lee.
Pathetically, the family broke up. Samuel and Patti Frustaci divorced a few years later.
The “Island In The Sun” is the title song of the 1957 movie bearing the same name. It was written by Irving Burgie and sung by Harry Belafonte.
Oh island in the sun
Willed to me by my father’s hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand
As morning breaks, the Heaven on high
I lift my heavy load to the sky
Sun comes down with a burning glow
Mingles my sweat with the earth below
Oh island in the sun
Willed to me by my father’s hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand
I see woman on bended knee
Cutting cane for her family
I see man at the waterside
Casting nets at the surging tide
Though this song addresses the island of Jamaica, it is equally applicable to Sri Lanka the pearl of the Indian Ocean and nature’s treasure chest.
The island paradise, formerly known as Ceylon until 1972, is in the northern Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest. It is one of the most delightful destinations in the world to visit.
Sri Lanka is the home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Though the island’s documented history spans over 2,550 years, evidence shows that it had prehistoric human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. Its history boasts of planned cities, magnificent palaces, temples, and monasteries, expansive reservoirs, green forests and gardens, monuments and works of art.
Sri Lanka due to its geographic location and endowed with natural harbours has been the cynosure of strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to World War II.
Today, Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a presidential system. The capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city.
Sri Lanka is home to many races speaking diverse languages, and following different religious faiths. It is the land of the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils, Moors, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Veddas.
The island has a rich Buddhist heritage spanning from the time of the Indian Emperor Ashoka Maurya (304–232 BC) of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all the Indian subcontinent from circa 269 to 232 BCE. The first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon dates back to the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BCE.
The island is one of the most beautiful and delightful destinations in the world for tourists to visit. Its historical planned cities, magnificent palaces, temples, dagobas, monasteries, monuments, sculptures and other works of art, expansive artificial reservoirs, green gardens, etc., illustrate the characteristic rich history of its ancient rulers.
Here is a video titled “Heritage of Sri Lanka” produced by The Ministry of National Heritage Sri Lanka, which I enjoyed viewing and I hope you too will be delighted to view it as well.
In Arabic, the word ḥadīth (Arabic: حديث) means a “report, account, narrative”. To Muslims, the word Hadīth connotes “report on the words and actions of Prophet Muhammad”.
The Hadith of Gabriel (ḥadīth Jibrīl) in Sunnī Islām, is the single most important Hadīth. It is found in both the Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and the Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim.
Though not mentioned in the Quran, but summarized in the famous hadith of Gabriel are the Five Pillars of Islam (arkān-al-Islām أركان الإسلام; also arkān ad-dīn أركان الدين “pillars of the religion”) which are the foundation of Muslim life – five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory by believers. They are:
Shahadah (belief, confession, or declaration of faith – Muslim life)
Salat (obligatory worship in the form of prayer)
Zakat (compulsory alms or charitable giving or concern for the needy)
Sawm Ramadan (self-purification by fasting during the month of Ramadan)
Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime)
The Arabic word Ṣawm (Arabic: صوم; plural: صيام ṣiyām), regulated by Islamic jurisprudence literally means fasting – to abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours.
The Muslims of Iran, Central Asia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh use the words roza/rozha/roja/oruç, derived from Persian.
The Muslim communities in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines call it puasa, the word derived from Sanskrit, upauasa.
Annually, Muslims, worldwide, observe self-purification by fasting during the month of Ramadan which lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.
The word Ramadan derived from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, means “scorching heat” or “dryness.” It is “obligatory” for adult Muslims to fast, except those who are ill, diabetic, traveling, pregnant, breastfeeding, or during menstrual bleeding.
The Quran states:
The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks. [Quran 2:185]
Bowling Green is a small public park in Lower Manhattan at the foot of Broadway next to the site of the original Dutch fort of New Amsterdam. Built in 1733, originally including a bowling green, it is the oldest public park in New York City surrounded by its original 18th-century fence. At its northern end is the Charging Bull sculpture, which is sometimes called the Wall Street Bull or the Bowling Green Bull.
While my wife and I were in New York, we saw a faithful Muslim in the Bowling Green at 1:23 pm unmindful of the blaring noise surrounding him, perseveringly reciting the Dhuhr (Noon) prayer. We were spellbound by his faith in God and his steadfast adherence to his religious duties.
The above is a widely copied and circulated quote on Facebook and other social networks, but I could not find the source of the quote anywhere in the works of William Shakespeare. Even though the attribution of the above quote to Shakespeare is incorrect, some people due to their ignorance re-post it without verification. Even goodreads.com, searchquotes.com, azquotes.com, and a few other websites have this fake quote on their pages.
Someone had initiated this fraud by copying the part of the text starting with “Before you speak” from the short poem titled “Before You” by William Arthur Ward (1921 – March 30, 1994), one of America’s most quoted writers of inspirational maxims.
by William Arthur Ward
Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.
Even though we have now stepped into the 21st century, a few choose to remain ignorant. I just wonder why these copycats do not surf the internet, enlighten themselves, and verify facts before posting whatever they copy on social media.
On a lighter vein, I came across this comment by Rodolphe in RoDoLpHe’S wOrLd dated August 18, 2011.
“To blog or not to blog“, said Hamlet, in reply to Othello who told him “Put out the comment, and then, put out the comment.”
Both knew that Henry the Fifth was spamming Richard III’s blogger account on purpose because the latter dated Cromwell’s third girlfriend. It was Falstaff who discovered the plot because he hacked Iago’s secret identity database.
I hope no one will copy portions of Rodolphe’s comment and post them on social media and attribute it to the Bard of Avon.
Many Asians, kneel and prostrate before their elders invoking their blessings. The above down-to-earth photo of Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng, the beauty queen who won the title Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, prostrating and invoking the blessings of her 47-year-old mother Orathai Pormaun, a garbage collector, amidst garbage bins, has won the heart of everyone who saw it on the internet.
According to the Bangkok Post, the 17-year-old Khanittha’s parents had separated when she was young and her mother had remarried. Khanittha lived in a 4-by-5-metre shack with five other family members where her mother also stored garbage for separation before sale.
Because of the crowded conditions at her home, Khanittha had to move and live with an aunt. Due to poverty, Khanittha was then adopted by a salon owner named ‘Know’, who sent her to school until she completed primary school or Mathayom 3.
Khanittha adores her mother. She has never been ashamed of her background or what her mother does to earn a living. “What I am today is because of my mother. There is no reason why I should feel inferior because my mother and I earn our livelihood by doing honest work.”
The teenager helps her family by assisting her mother sort recyclables from the trash. She also takes on menial jobs and sells used clothes to help cover household expenses and her brother’s education.
Because she is tall and good looking, some friends suggested that she should enter the beauty contest “Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015” launched by “Exclusive Star“, the Tabloid magazine, which had just celebrated its 3rd anniversary and entering its fourth year with aims to promote gender equality and same-sex marriage.
The aim of this pageant contest with the slogan “gender equality” was to bring all women together in a beauty showdown, whether identified as female at birth or have transformed to be one over the years. The contest allowed the participation of only Thai women and trans-women between the age of 17-25 years, to show off their beauty and talent for a reward. Applications were available from August 29, 2015, at Imperial World Samrong.
Encouraged by her friends, Khanittha decided to take part in this somewhat cut-throat competition.
The beauty pageant, Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015 open to both women and Transgenders was held on Friday, September 25, 2015, at the Imperial World Samrong,
When the referee announced Khanittha the winner, she thought it was a dream and wondered how an ordinary girl like herself could have won the title of “Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015.”
Almost immediately after crowning Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng as Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, many universities contacted the organizers offering her scholarships. This prompted the organizers to scrutinize her application form. They discovered that Khanittha had lied about her education. She had submitted that she had completed senior high school or Mathayom 6 (Level 12) whereas she has only completed primary school or Mathayom 3.
On Thursday, October 15, 2015, a news conference was held near Khanittha’s house in Samut Prakan province, to end speculation whether she would lose the crown.
Somchai ‘Daisy’ Leknoi, director of Miss Uncensored News Thailand 2015, told the press that the contest, held for the first time at the Imperial World Samrong, aimed to provide opportunities to people from all social classes. She said the organizers and the two runners-up held no grudge against her as the event did not limit the gender or education of competitors. Nobody would take away her prizes, but she should not have lied about her education. Somchai Leknoi said, “However, we think she should apologize for her mistake. We just want all candidates to tell the truth, so they do not face any problems in the future.“
Khanittha apologized to Somchai Leknoi, claiming she had no intention of lying about her education; her uncle had filled the application form for her and she had failed to check it before submitting it. She thanked the committee for not withholding her prizes. She said that she would spend the money on her brother’s education.
Khanittha THB 30,000 in cash as part of her prize.
After the win, Khanittha ‘Mint’ Phasaeng has gained advertising, film and television work which she hopes will improve the situation at home, and would continue to help her mother collect garbage for a living.
Three years ago, when Hurricane Sandy, unofficially known as the “Superstorm Sandy”, devastated the United States in October 2012, I was in Ellicott City in Maryland.
Hurricane Sandy was the second-costliest hurricane in the history of the United States. It was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It all began on October 22, 2012.
A Timeline of Hurricane Sandy’s Path of Destruction
Monday, October 22, 2012
Developing in the southern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Nicaragua as a tropical easterly wave causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms, The depression strengthened and six hours later becomes Tropical Storm Sandy, with maximum winds of about 40 mph. It moved slowly northward toward the Greater Antilles and gradually intensified.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
On October 24, Sandy became a Category 1 hurricane, moved northward across the Caribbean and made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica with winds of 80 mph.
Although Hurricane Sandy’s eye does not cross the Dominican Republic and Haiti to its east, the storm dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Hispaniola. More than 50 people died in flooding and mudslides in Haiti.
A few hours later, it re-emerged into the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane. Off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km).
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Sandy strengthened as it moved from Jamaica to Cuba and made landfall in the historic city of Santiago de Cuba with winds of about 110 mph as a Category 3 hurricane.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Sandy caused more devastation as it crossed the Bahamas and made a slight turn to the north-northwest.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Sandy moved away from the Bahamas and made a turn to the northeast off the coast of Florida. Sandy weakened for a brief period of time to a tropical depression and then restrengthened to a Category 1 hurricane.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Sandy continued moving northeast on a track parallel to the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. As it approached latitude 35 degrees north off the coast of North Carolina, the hurricane’s eye stayed well offshore. Even then, the storm still a Category 1 hurricane with peak winds of about 80 mph sent powerful tsunami-like waves onto North Carolina’s Outer Banks washing out some places in NC Highway 12.
Due to an unusual configuration of converging weather factors meteorologists warned that the storm as it churns northward would likely morph into a powerful, hybrid super-storm.
A high-pressure cold front to Sandy’s north forced the storm to turn to the northwest toward major cities such as Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and New York. And the meteorologists expected that in conjunctions with the effects of the full moon Sandy’s storm surge to be 11 to 12 feet in some places and a little higher as it made landfall.
Sandy expanded into a huge storm covering about 1,000 miles with strong winds.
Monday, October 29, 2012
At 12:30 pm, Sandy made its expected sharp turn. It curved west-northwest (the “left turn” or “left hook”) and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds. The storm also has started interacting with other weather systems, gaining energy in the process. The storm dumped heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.
During the afternoon, Sandy brought high winds and drenching rains from Washington, D.C. northward, toppling trees and power lines and cutting off electrical power for millions of people. The storm eventually affected more than 50 million people on the Eastern Seaboard.
At 8 pm, Sandy’s center came ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey. The storm was no longer considered a hurricane, but was classified as a post-tropical Nor’easter. But the storm’s unusual path from the southeast made its storm surge much worse in New Jersey and New York.
A high storm surge, a coastal flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water occurred in New York City with a high tide of 14 ft (4.2 m), a new record for a storm surge in the harbor, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. The surge tops the sea wall at The Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and floods parts of the city’s subway system. The surge also floods the Hugh Carey Tunnel, which links Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The wind, rain and flooding from the huge storm pounded New Jersey and New York throughout the night and through three cycles of high tides and low tides.
Staten Island also was hit very hard by the storm. The Seattle Times later reported that towns such as Oakwood Beach, Midland Beach, South Beach and Tottenville — which lost many residents who were police and firefighters during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — were among the hardest-hit communities.
When I look back, I remember posting several times on Facebook on 29th and 30th October 2012 about Hurricane Sandy to benefit my friends and readers in the United States and to assure my kith and Kin in India that my family was safe:
7:00 amEDT: From the Carolinas to Maine, Hurricane Sandy will affect 50 million people.
Hurricane Sandy is churning off the East Coast and is expected to join up with two other weather systems to create a huge and problematic storm affecting 50 million people. Here’s a snapshot of what is happening or expected, state by state.
The storm lashed barrier islands off North Carolina and rendered several homes and businesses nearly inaccessible. About 90 miles off the coast, a tall ship carrying 17 people was in distress; the Coast Guard was monitoring.
The number of power outages increased quickly in a state where utilities’ response to past weather-related failures has become a political issue. Connecticut Light & Power says hundreds of customers are without power. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked a task force to ensure fuel suppliers are fully stocked. Many residents along Long Island Sound heeded warnings and evacuated.
Hundreds of people fled to shelters as the rough surf pounded the coast. Water covered some roads.
Snow is expected in mountainous areas.
Officials predict coastal flooding and beach erosion, and utility crews have been brought in from Canada to handle anticipated power failures.
Baltimore is opening six shelters; several city intersections are closed because of flooding threats. Early voting, which began Saturday and was to run through Thursday, was canceled for Monday.
Utilities brought in crews from as far away as Texas and the Midwest to cope with anticipated power failures. Most schools and colleges have canceled classes. The Boston transit authority said it would continue to operate as long it was safe.
Gov. John Lynch put 100 National Guard soldiers on active duty to help with preparations. Two shelters are being set up, and some schools have closed.
Sandy’s center is expected to make landfall in New Jersey late Monday. By daybreak, more than 5,000 homes and businesses were without electricity. Thousands of people evacuated low-lying areas, and many inland towns hit by flooding from storm Irene last year issued evacuation orders.
Many residents left low-lying flood evacuation zones, and the subway system shut down Sunday night. A storm surge of 11 feet is possible, the highest of all coastal areas being hit by Sandy. The New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial markets shut down for at least the day. Thousands of flights were canceled at the city’s major airports.
Residents of low-lying areas and along Lake Erie were told to watch for flooding; utilities are anticipating high winds that could blow down trees and poles. Snow is forecast in some areas.
Many schools closed. Philadelphia shut down its mass transit system, and hundreds of flights were canceled at the city’s airport. Dozens of people took shelter at evacuation centers. Thousands of members of the National Guard have been told to be ready for deployment.
Several communities have ordered mandatory evacuations and many schools closed for the day. Big waves are expected to cause flooding along Narragansett Bay, which bisects the state. Authorities told people to be prepared for long periods without power.
Snow is expected in higher elevations, where a freeze warning has been issued. High winds are expected in many areas.
About 2,000 customers lacked power, and a utility said as many as 1 million could ultimately lose electricity. Many residents of Chincoteague Island, popular with tourists, shrugged off the idea of evacuation.
Gov. Peter Shumlin declared a state of emergency to provide access to National Guard troops in a state still recovering from the devastating effects of the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Culverts and storm drainage basins in some spots have been cleared of debris.
The capital area’s transit system shut down rail service for the first time since 2003, and the Smithsonian Institution closed for the day.
As much as 2 to 3 feet of snow were forecast in mountainous areas, and flooding was possible in some areas. Several shelters were put on standby, and power crews were mobilized to handle potential failures.
3:30 pm EDT:
Here in Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed is 41 mph NW. Not menacing at the moment.
3:40 pm EDT:
Landfall for Sandy within 3 hours time near Atlantic City, New Jersey shore with a wind speed of 90 mph in the center. The system moves at 18 mph.
8:40 pm EDT: In Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed has risen to 49 mph WNW.
8:54 pm EDT: Sandy landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm.
9:00 pm EDT:
Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 11.87 feet high. Water might enter NYC subway. Trains and buses won’t run on Tuesday (tomorrow).
9:30 pm EDT:
Waters from Hudson river has breached the Manhattan Broadwalk. Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 13.7 feet high. MTA confirms that the subways are flooded.
1.5 million homes experience power outages in many states. In Maryland, 195,000 homes are without electric power. We have still not been hit by a power cut.
9:45 pm EDT:
Power surges, outages and flashes being experienced in the New York City area. Everything is dark over there. Manhattan is in darkness as well as the Statue of Liberty.
10:47 pm EDT:
All bridges were closed for traffic. Chesapeake Bay Bridge that connects Baltimore-DC area with the northern parts of Maryland such as Kent Island too was closed for traffic around 4 pm.
Sandy is still on its way towards us playing havoc with everything in its path.
Sandy had its landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm. Ellicott City, MD is about 210 miles from the landfall area. The system is moving around 20 to 25 mph and I expect it to come here on Tuesday (tomorrow) morning around 6 am EDT.
Tuesday , October 30, 2012
2:10 am EDT: Hurricane Sandy plays havoc: Widespread Power outages have occurred in all the north-eastern and eastern states. In Maryland, 391,005 homes are experiencing power cut.
2:15 am EDT: Sandy is 10 miles southwest of Philadephia, PA.
10:50 am EDT: Sandy has passed us. We did not incur any damages. We did not lose any power.
I thank all of you for praying for us.
However, my heart bleeds for those who have suffered and are undergoing hardships due to the havoc created by this “Frankenstorm” called SANDY.
11:00 am EDT: Sandy: The loss to properties has been assessed between 10 and 20 billion dollars.
11:30 am EDT:
Sandy slammed New Jersey last night and early morning today. At least 16 deaths reported. Massive flooding, high winds, and widespread power outages hit the East Coast as Sandy moves inland.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Hurricane Sandy dissipated over western Pennsylvania, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its final advisory on the storm: “multiple centers of circulation in association with the remnants of Sandy can be found across the lower Great Lakes.”
Sage Laozi (or Lao Tzu, Chinese: 老子) literally meaning “Father” or “Old Master” wrote the Chinese classic text, Tao Te Ching (道德經;) or Daode jing (道德经), translated as “The Classic of the Virtuous Way.”
According to tradition, Laozi wrote the Tao Te Ching around 6th century BC, although the oldest excavated text dates back to the late 4th century BC, leading to the true authorship and date of composition or compilation of the text under debate.
Although a legendary figure, Laozi is usually dated to around the 6th century BC as a record-keeper at the court of the Zhou dynasty. He is also reckoned as a contemporary of Confucius (September 28, 551 – 479 BC), the Chinese teacher and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. However, some historians contend that Laozi actually lived during the Warring States period of the 5th or 4th century BC.
Laozi deified as the Daode Tianzun (道德天尊 – “Moral senior” or “the Grand Pure One”) and venerated in traditional Chinese religions as “the Heavenly Lord of Dao and its Virtue” founded Taoism, an ancient tradition of Chinese philosophy and religious belief profound in Chinese customs.
Throughout Chinese history, various anti-authoritarian movements embraced Laozi’s work. As a central figure in Chinese culture, the emperors of the Tang dynasty and modern people of the Li surname claimed Laozi as the founder of their lineage.
In 1973, archeologists unearthed a large number of silk manuscripts from Mawangdui tomb 3rd, Changsha, Hunan Province, China. Among these were two versions of the Daode jing by Laozi, dated to around 200 BC. The two silk books are part of the Cultural Relics from the Mawangdui Tombs collection at the Hunan Provincial Museum.
In 1993, archeologists discovered three bundles of 71 bamboo strips with the Daode jing text written on them in a tomb in Guodian in Hubei province (east central China). The “Guodian Laozi” that has survived intact since 300 BC, is by far the earliest version of the Daode jing ever unearthed.
The Tao Te Ching is a short text of around 5,000 Chinese characters in 81 brief chapters or sections composed of two parts, the Tao Ching (chapters 1–37) and the Te Ching (chapters 38–81).
The ideas in the Tao Te Ching are singular and the style poetic. The rhetorical style combines short, declarative statements and intentional contradictions.
Many western scholars with a foundation in the Chinese language and Chinese philosophy have attempted to translate the Tao Te Ching into their own native languages.
The Tao Te Ching written in classical Chinese relies in essence on allusions. For many non-Chinese scholars, it can be difficult to understand the verses completely due to their inherent semantic meanings, nuances, subtexts and many words are on purpose vague and open to more than one interpretation.
In Laozi’s period, people memorized this work. They reinforced the allusions by using them in their writings. Today, even among the modern Chinese translators, there are only a few who have a deep acquaintance with ancient Chinese literature and many have lost sight of the many levels of subtext.
As there are no punctuation marks in classical Chinese, it can be difficult to determine where a sentence ends and the next begins. Moving a full-stop a few words forward or back or inserting a comma would completely change the meaning of passages. So, it is for the translator to determine where the divisions are and the meanings.
Some editors and translators say that the original texts of the Tao Te Ching written on one-line bamboo strips linked with silk threads are much corrupted, and it is difficult to understand some chapters without moving sequences of characters from one place to another.
Many popular translations are less erudite. They give an individual author’s interpretation of the Tao Te Ching that deviate from the original text and incompatible with the historical thoughts of the Chinese people.
Holmes Welch (1924-1981), an American scholar of Daoism and early 20th century Chinese Buddhism remarked: “It is a famous puzzle which everyone would like to feel he had solved.“
Today, the perseverance of non-Chinese scholars to preserve and bring out the original meaning of the Chinese text in every respect has spawned hundreds of versions of the Tao Te Ching in western languages that in certain instances even contradictory. To prove my point, I have quoted below a few attempts by some authors to translate Chapter 74 of Tao Te Ching:
“If people do not fear death why attempt to frighten them by capital punishment?
Supposing the people are made constantly afraid of death, so that when they commit unlawful acts I arrest them and have them killed, who will dare [afterwards to misbehave]? For then there will always be yiu–sze, or civil magistrates, to execute them. Now the execution of men on behalf of the inflictor of the death-punishment [by those not legally qualified to do so] may be compared to hewing on behalf of a master carpenter; and people who [attempt to] hew instead of a master carpenter mostly cut their hands.“
– Translated by Frederic Henry Balfour, 1884
“It is futile to threaten people with death. If they are not afraid to die, they cannot be frightened by the death penalty; and if they are afraid to die, why should we kill them?
Only Nature knows the proper time for a man to die. To kill is to interrupt Nature’s design for dying, Like a blundering apprentice judging himself to be wiser than his master.
Whenever an apprentice thinks he is smarter than his master, he is very likely to hurt himself.
It is futile to threaten people with death. If they are not afraid to die, they cannot be frightened by the death penalty; and if they are afraid to die, why should we kill them?
Only Nature knows the proper time for a man to die. To kill is to interrupt Nature’s design for dying, Like a blundering apprentice judging himself to be wiser than his master.
Whenever an apprentice thinks he is smarter than his master, he is very likely to hurt himself. “
– Translated by Archie J. Bahm, 1958
“It is not the leader’s role to play judge and jury, to punish people for ‘bad’ behaviour. In the first place, punishment does not effectively control behaviour.
But even if punishment did work, what leader would dare to use fear as a teaching method?
The wise leader knows that there are natural consequences for every act. The task is to shed light on these natural consequences, not to attack the behaviour itself.
If the leader tries to take the place of nature and act as judge and jury, the best you can expect is a crude imitation of a very subtle process.
At the very least, the leader will discover that the instrument of justice cuts both ways. Punishing others in punishing work.“
– Translated by John Heider, 1985.
“If people don’t love life, they won’t fear death, and threatening them with it won’t work.
If people have lives worth living, then the threat of death is meaningful, and they’ll do what is right to avoid it.
But killing itself should be the province of the great executioner alone. Trying to take his place and kill is like cutting wood in the place of the master carpenter: The odds are you’ll hurt your own hand.“
– Translated by Ren Jiyu, 1993.
“When the people are not afraid to die Why then threaten them with death?
Even if they normally are fearful of death, For worst offenders, we may seize and kill them.
But who dares to execute?
There is always an expert executioner who kills.
Substituting for an expert executioner, Is like hacking wood in place of a master carpenter.
Whoever substitutes for the master carpenter, He seldom escapes injury of his own hand.“
– Translated by David Hong Cheng, 2000.
“The people do not fear death, Why threaten them with death?
Suppose the people always fear death, One who does strange things (ch’i), I shall seize and kill, Then who dares [to do strange things]? Killing is carried out by the executioner.
To replace the executioner and kill, Is like chopping wood in place of the master carpenter.
To chop wood in place of the master carpenter, Rarely one does not hurt one’s own hand.“
– Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary by Elen Marie Chen
“If people don’t love life, they won’t fear death, and threatening them with it won’t work.
If people have lives worth living, then the threat of death is meaningful, and they’ll do what is right to avoid it.
But killing itself should be the province of the great executioner alone.
Trying to take his place and kill is like cutting wood in the place of the master carpenter: The odds are you’ll hurt your own hand.“
– The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu by Brian Browne Walker
“If the people do not fear death, For reasons of extreme poverty or suffering, What is the point of threatening them with death?
If the people fear death, And if the outlaws are captured and killed, Who will dare to break the law?
Yet, the act of killing should always be The exclusive province of the Great Executioner.
Therefore, to kill in place of the Great Executioner is Like hewing wood in place of the master carpenter; Few, if ever, will escape cutting their own hands.
– Translated by Yasuhiko Genku Kimura
“If people don’t fear death How will you frighten them with death? If people always fear death And I seize and execute Anyone who does anything new, Who will dare to move? There is a public executioner who kills. Killing on behalf of the public executioner, Is called cutting wood on behalf of the carpenter. In cutting wood on behalf of the carpenter, There are few who escape hurting their hands.“
– Translated by A. S. Kline, 2003.
“If people are not afraid of death, how can they be threatened by it? But if they always live in fear of death, and still continue in their lawlessness, we can arrest and kill them. Who then would dare? And yet there is a Lord of Death whose charge it is to kill. To take his place and kill would be like carving wood in place of the master carpenter. Few would escape without injuring their hands.“
The above leaflet from the 1960’s created by a master craftsman is a gross and most brazen advertisement loaded with double entendre for WD-40. It is an innuendo that seems to work with the true facts of what WD-40 can do. Even though the ad is a fake, it gives the impression of a real advert from the 1960’s with the stains and frayed edges.
On November 4, 2014, a user posted this image showing a printed advertisement for the WD-40 spray lubricant in a “funny photos” thread on the US Message Board, asserting it was an ad from 1960. As the image got shared on sites such as Facebook, Imgur, and Reddit, the date changed, with the most common claim being 1964.
Several attributes of the advertisement give it away as a fake:
1. If this was a genuine, high-profile ad for WD-40 why is it the only photograph available on the Internet documenting its existence?
2. If you look at this image critically you will note that it is not a photograph at all. The paper on which the advertisement appears looks old and crinkled, but the letters are straight. This implies that the text is a digital overlay on a background image of a crinkled page.
3. The image describes the product as “WD 40” when its name is, and always had been, rendered as WD-40.
4. The image refers to a ‘red knob‘ whereas the distinctive red cap that now tops the WD-40 cans was originally black!
By the way, those of you not familiar with WD-40 must be wondering what the hell it is.
Back in 1953, Norm Larsen founded the Rocket Chemical Company. The fledgling company and its staff of three set out to create a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry.
Working in a small lab in San Diego, California, Norm Larsen, a persistent chemist, perfected his water displacing formula on his 40th try. So, WD-40 stands for “Water Displacement, the 40th formula“, a name that came straight out of the lab book used by Norm Larsen.
The formula of WD-40 is a trade secret. Out of fear of disclosing its composition Norm Larsen did not apply for a patent for WD-40 in 1953. The opportunity for patenting the product has long since elapsed since the application for a patent should have been filed prior to any public use or public disclosure of the invention anywhere in the world. Even today, the original secret formula for WD-40 is still in use.
The Convair Division of General Dynamics at the Kearny Mesa assembly plant north of San Diego, California, built the SM-65 Atlas, for U.S. Air Force. It was the first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) developed and deployed by the United States that became operational in October 1959. The Atlas missile’s warhead was over 100 times more powerful than the bomb dropped over Nagasaki in 1945.
Later on, for almost half a century, the Atlas missile served as a first stage satellite launch vehicle.
The balloon-like paper-thin stainless steel fuel tanks of the Atlas missile were and fragile, and when empty, to prevent them from collapsing, they had to be kept inflated with nitrogen.
Convair used WD-40 as a corrosion-inhibiting coating to protect the paper-thin stainless steel outer skin of the fuel tanks of the Atlas missile from rust and corrosion.
WD-40 worked well to inhibit rust and corrosion. This prompted several employees to sneak out some WD-40 cans out of the plant to use in their homes.
A few years following WD-40’s first industrial use, Norm Larsen reasoned that consumers might find a use for the product in their homes as some of the employees had. So, in 1958, he put the product into aerosol cans and made it available in stores in San Diego.
In 1960, Norm Larsen’s Rocket Chemical Company doubled in size, growing to seven people and sold an average of 45 cases per day to hardware and sporting goods stores in the San Diego area.
On Monday, September 11, 1961, Hurricane Carla, ranked as the most intense US tropical cyclone with a highest wind speed of 280 km/h made landfall near Port O’Connor, Texas.
To meet the disaster needs of the victims of Hurricane Carla along the US Gulf coast, the Rocket Chemical Company filled its first full truckload order for WD-40 to use in reconditioning flood and rain damaged vehicles and equipment.
In 1968, soldiers in Vietnam received goodwill kits containing WD-40 to help keep their firearms in superb working condition by preventing damage from moisture.
In 1969, the company changed its name to WD-40 Company, Inc., after its only product.
In 1973, the company went public. On the first day of listing, the stock price increased by 61%. From then on, the WD-40 Company, Inc., grew by leaps and bounds. In 1993, WD-40 sales grew to more than one million cans per week.
WD-40 is now virtually a household name in America with 80% American households using it. About 81 percent of professionals in many consumer and industrial markets such as aviation, automotive, manufacturing, construction, hardware, home improvement, farming, and sporting goods, use it regularly.
WD-40’s main ingredients as supplied in aerosol cans, according to U.S. Material Safety Data Sheet information are:
(1) Aliphatic hydrocarbons – 50%”.
According to the manufacturer’s website this ratio in the current formulation per se is not Stoddard solvent which is a similar mixture of hydrocarbons.
(2) Petroleum base oil – 25%.
Probably a mineral oil or light lubricating oil.
(3) Low vapor pressure aliphatic hydrocarbon – 12 to 18%.
To reduce the liquid’s viscosity for use in aerosols. The hydrocarbon evaporates during application.
(4) Carbon dioxide – 2 to 3%.
A propellant used instead of the original liquefied petroleum gas to reduce WD-40’s flammability.