The Pallikaranai Wetland: Part 2 – The Once Pristine Idyllic Wetland Is Now a Wasteland cum Concrete Jungle!


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Why am I interested in wetlands? Because I am concerned. My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai wetland in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India.

 My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai marsh.

My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai marsh.

Pallikaranai marshland (Photo : T.V. Antony Raj)

Pallikaranai marshland (Photo : T.V. Antony Raj)

Four decades ago, this pristine idyllic wetland had a water spread of approximately 5,500 hectares estimated on the basis of the Survey of India toposheets (1972) and CORONA aerial photographs (1965). It serves as nature’s primary aquifer recharge system for Chennai city. It harvests rain water and the flood water during monsoons and thereby mitigates the desolation and suffering that floods could cause in low-lying areas in Chennai.

A large area of the Pallikaranai marshland is now a dump yard (Photo:  anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

A large area of the Pallikaranai marshland is now a dump yard (Photo: anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

Lamentably, over the years, the Chennai Metropolitan authorities without giving any thought to the future recklessly chose to dump over one-third of the garbage, almost 2,600 tonnes per day, of the ever-growing metropolis here in this climactic wetland.

Pallikaranai marsh (Photo: Simply CVR)

Pallikaranai marsh (Photo: Simply CVR)

At present the water spread has shrunk to one-tenth its size due to indiscriminate dumping of city refuse; discharging of sewage; disgorging toxic waste products, etc.

Many nature lovers have photographed the current palpable and saddening state of the Pallikaranai wetland. On June 8, 2013, The Hindu published the article The mired marshby Shaju John. This article was augmented by photographs  captured by him in the post Photo file: The mired marsh.

A significant chunk of non-biodegradable waste is lost in the heaps.( (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

A significant chunk of non-biodegradable waste is lost in the heaps.( (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Thousands of tonnes of trash of all sorts containing non-biodegradable waste find their way to the wetland amidst the dumped refuse.

Fires, lit to dispose off the garbage, are a regular and major health hazard.  (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Fires, lit to dispose off the garbage, are a regular and major health hazard. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

While traveling along the roads around the Velachery wetland one encounters the unbearable stench emanating from the decaying garbage hillock. Despite the widespread clamour to stop burning rubbish in the dump yard that stifles the air and impairs visibility of commuters, the incessant burning goes on.

The smoke from the garbage heaps chokes the air for miles around.  (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

The smoke from the garbage heaps chokes the air for miles around. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Despite the toxic smoke rag-pickers, mostly children living in inhospitable slums frequent the garbage dump.

The burning continues despite widespread clamour for alternatives. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

The burning continues despite widespread clamour for alternatives. (Photo: Shaju John/thehindu.com)

Continual inhaling of the ever-present malodorous germ and virus bound air, the stifling smoke, polluted and poisoned ground water subject the people living miles around the Pallikaranai wetland to major wheezing and carcinogenic health hazards.

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The incredible rate of development, such as the rampant construction of sanctioned IT parks, the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) campus, Hospitals, Colleges, high-rise office and residential buildings, the Velachery MRTS railway station, the flyovers, the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram, etc., in the midst of the marshland also have immensely contributed to the shrinking of the water spread.

A high rise building (Cognizant Technology) on Velachery Tambaram Road.  (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

A high rise building (Cognizant Technology) on Velachery Tambaram Road. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

One of the flyovers constructed  in the midst of the marshland (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and C.R .Sivapradha)

One of the flyovers constructed in the midst of the marshland (Photo credit: N. Lalitha and C.R .Sivapradha)

Velachery MRTS Railway station (Photo - Simply CVR)

Velachery MRTS Railway station (Photo – Simply CVR)

With policies in place to crackdown on poaching, encroachment and illegal waste disposal, there is yet hope for the Pallikaranai wetland.

Pallikaranai marsh, which was once a scenic wetland has lost its charm, mainly on account of rapid urbanisation. (Photo:  M. Karunakaran)

Pallikaranai marsh, which was once a scenic wetland has lost its charm, mainly on account of rapid urbanisation. (Photo: M. Karunakaran)

In 2007, to protect the remaining wetland from shrinking further, 317 hectares of the marsh were declared by notification as a reserve forest by the State of Tamilnadu.

Road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram over Pallikaranai Marshland, Chennai, (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram over Pallikaranai Marshland, Chennai, (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve  showing the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh

Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve showing the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh

Nevertheless, it is the opinion of the scientists and researchers involved in the study of the wetland that an additional 150 hectares of undeveloped region located on both sides of the road connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram that bisects the marsh should also be declared a forest reserve.

However, even now, dumping of garbage by the Chennai metropolitan authorities goes on unabated.

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The Pallikaranai Wetland: Part 1 – Flora and Fauna


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Last Sunday I posted an article titled “February 2, 2014 is World Wetlands Day.”

Why am I interested in wetlands? Because I am concerned. My home in Jalladianpet is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai wetland in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India.

A wetland is technically defined as:

“An ecosystem that arises when inundation by water produces soils dominated by anaerobic processes, which, in turn, forces the biota, particularly rooted plants, to adapt to flooding.”

The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation that adapts to its unique soil conditions. Primarily, wetlands consist of hydric soil, which supports aquatic plants

There are four main kinds of wetlands: marsh, swamp, bog and fen. Sub-types include mangrove, carr, pocosin, and varzea. Some experts also include wet meadows and aquatic ecosystems as additional wetland types.

The Pallikaranai Wetland 

City in the background of Pallikaranai wetland (Photo:  anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

City in the background of Pallikaranai wetland (Photo: anidiotstraveldiaries.blogspot.in)

Historically, a large part of South Chennai was a flood plain composed of the large Pallikaranai wetland, smaller satellite wetlands, large tracts of pasture land and patches of dry forest.

The Pallikaranai wetland is a freshwater marshland spanning 31 square miles (80 sq Km). It is the Chennai city’s natural primary aquifer recharge system.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)

The original expanse of the marsh, estimated on the basis of the Survey of India toposheets (1972) and CORONA aerial photographs (1965) was about 5,500 hectares, which has now been reduced to about 600 hectares. Situated next to the Bay of Bengal, about 12.5 miles (20 Km) south of the city centre, it is bounded by Velachery (north), Kovilambakkam (west), Okkiyam Thuraipakkam (east), and Medavakkam (south). It is the only surviving wetland ecosystem of the city and is among the few and last remaining natural wetlands of South India. It is one of the three in the state of Tamilnadu, the other two being Point Calimere and Kazhuveli.

Map of Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest.

Map of Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest.

The Pallikaranai wetland is one of the 94 identified wetlands in India under the National Wetland Conservation and Management Programme (NWCMP) of the Government of India that came into operation in 1985–86.

The terrain consists of fresh/saline water bodies, reed beds, mud flats and floating vegetation.

Flora and Fauna

This wetland is literally a treasury of bio-diversity that is almost four times that of Vedanthangal bird sanctuary in the Kancheepuram District of the state of Tamil Nadu, India, 47 miles (75 km) from Chennai where more than 40,000 birds (including 26 rare species), from various parts of the world visit during the migratory season every year.

The Pallikaranai wetland contains several rare and endangered species of plants and animals. It acts as a forage and breeding ground for thousands of migratory birds from various places within and outside the country. Bird watchers opine that the number of bird species sighted in the wetland is definitely more than in the Vedanthangal bird sanctuary.

Figures of the number of fauna and flora found in the Pallikaranai wetland differ among scholars conducting research here.

Among the many quiet contributors to the mapping of India’s natural treasures is Dr. Jayashree Vencatesan, Smithsonian Fellow and researcher, and managing trustee of Care Earth Trust. She obtained a Ph.D. in Biodiversity and Biotechnology from the University of Madras. She is best-known for her research work on biodiversity, and studies wetland ecology.

Dr. Jayashree Vencatesan

Dr. Jayashree Vencatesan

In 2003, the Tamilnadu State Pollution Control Board assigned her the task of conducting a detailed study of Chennai’s last remaining wetland – the Pallikaranai marsh, which is suffering from degradation caused by human impact. The study had two components — to document the biodiversity and to map the extent of the marsh to define or identify a viable unit of management.

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In her work “Protecting wetlands” published on August 10, 2007, Current Science 93 (3): 288–290, she states that the heterogeneous ecosystem of the Pallikaranai marshland supports about 337 species of floras and faunas:

GROUP NUMBER OF SPECIES
Birds 115
Plants 114
Fishes 46
Reptiles 21
Mammals 10
Amphibians 10
Molluscs 9
Butterflies 7
Crustaceans 5
Total 337

Birds, fishes and reptiles are the most prominent of the faunal groups.

Dr. K .Venkataraman, Director of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)

Dr. K. Venkataraman

However, on August 9, 2013, P. Oppili reported in The Hindu that Dr. K. Venkataraman, Director of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) while discussing the diversity of species in the marshland, as nine species of amphibians, 21 species of reptiles, 72 species of birds, five species of mammals, 38 species of fish, nine species of shells and 59 species of aquatic and terrestrial insects had been recorded, besides a good number of plankton.

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The Pallikaranai wetland is the home to some of the most endangered birds such as the glossy ibis, gray-headed Lapwings and pheasant-tailed Jacana.

Pheasant-tailed Jacana spotted in Pallikaranai Wetland, Chennai (Photo: Sudharsun Jayaraj)

Pheasant-tailed Jacana spotted in Pallikaranai Wetland, Chennai (Photo: Sudharsun Jayaraj)

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Purple Swamphen-Moorhen in Pallikaranai wetland, Chennai (Photo - Sudharsun Jayaraj)

Purple Swamphen-Moorhen in Pallikaranai wetland, Chennai (Photo – Sudharsun Jayaraj)

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FulvourWhistlingDucks (Photo: GnanaskandanK)

FulvourWhistlingDucks (Photo: GnanaskandanK)

Cormorants, darters, herons, egrets, open-billed storks, spoonbills, white ibis, little grebe, Indian moorhen, Black-winged Stilts, purple moorhens, warblers, coots and dabchicks have been spotted in large numbers in the marshland.

Russel's Viper (Source:  umich.edu)

Russel’s Viper (Source: umich.edu)

The Pallikaranai wetland is also home to some of the most endangered reptiles such as the Russell’s viper.

About 114 species of plants are found in the wetland, including 29 species of grass. These plant species include some exotic floating vegetation such as water hyacinth and water lettuce.

Since 2002,  presence of new plants and  reptiles have been recorded.

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Next → The Pallikaranai Wetland: Part 2 – The Once Pristine Idyllic Wetland Is Now a Wasteland cum Concrete Jungle!

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Robert Gibbs, the Morbidly Obese Californian, Has Shed 254 Pounds of Unwanted Fat


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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“If you can still breathe and have a heartbeat there is still time to save your life.” – Robert Gibbs

 On his 23rd birthday, at 764 pounds (346.5 kg), Robert Gibbs says he is a prisoner in his own body. (Source: KPIX/CBS)


On his 23rd birthday, at 764 pounds (346.5 kg), Robert Gibbs says he is a prisoner in his own body. (Source: KPIX/CBS)

The obese Californian, Robert Gibbs, 23, fearing he would lose his life to obesity, recorded a three-minute tearful plea for help and posted it as “ragingrobert” on YouTube in March 2012. The clip was an instant hit. It went viral and was viewed more than 200,000 times in 24 hours.

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To date, the above clip has been viewed 1,512,570 times.

Dr. Phil

Phil McGraw, the host of Dr. Phil talk show.

In 2012, Robert Gibbs weighed 764 pounds (346.5 kg) when he first met Phil McGraw, the host of Dr. Phil talk show. Phil arranged for Robert to go to one of the Wellspring Academies (formerly Academy of the Sierras), in Reedley, California.

“I am glad to see less of you,” Phil said when he met Robert again in 2013. Here is the video from Dr. Phil Show uploaded to YouTube on June 4, 2013.

Robert credits his astonishing loss of weight to diet and exercise and admits that getting started was tough. He climbs stairs at home every day.

Robert  Gibbs says that he now climbs stairs at home every day (Source:  dailymail.co.uk)

Robert Gibbs says that he now climbs stairs at home every day (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

He says that he wants to be an inspiration and instil hope in people who are in the same predicament he was in two years back.

How much weight has Robert lost?

He has shed 254 Pound (115.2 kg) unwanted fat. However, he is still overweight at 510 pounds (231 kg).

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Can Squeezing Breasts Stop the Growth of Cancer Cells?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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According to a new research study, squeezing breasts can prevent malignant breast cells from causing cancer. Really?

Squeezing breasts 'can stop cancer'

The research team at the University of California in Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, believe that new laboratory experiments provide clues to prevent malignant breast cells that trigger the formation of breast cancer. The university wrote in a release, “The manipulation of cell development through physical force instead of the typical drug-focused methods, shows for the first time that application of physical pressure to the breasts can stop the out-of-control growth of cancerous cells and revert them back to normal growth.”

Gautham Venugopalan, a leading member of the research team said: “People have known for centuries that physical force can influence our bodies, When we lift weights our muscles get bigger. The force of gravity is essential to keeping our bones strong. Here we show that physical force can play a role in the growth – and reversion – of cancer cells.”

The researchers grew malignant breast epithelial cells within a gel injected into flexible silicone chambers. Next, they applied compression during the first stages of cell growth, and effectively squashed the cells. After some time, the squeezed malignant cells began to grow in a more normal and organised way. Once the breast tissue structure was formed the cells stopped growing, even when the compressive force was removed. Non-compressed cells continued to display the haphazard and uncontrolled growth that leads to cancer.

“Malignant cells have not completely forgotten how to be healthy; they just need the right cues to guide them back to a healthy growth pattern,” said Mr. Venugopalan.

On Monday, December 17, 2012, the findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco..

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Japan Hosts Charity Breast Squeeze Event

In a lighter vein, a charity event took place in Toky, Japan, on Saturday and Sunday August 25-26, 2012, as part of the “Erotica will Save the World” event a 24-hour live-streamed fundraising event took place.

Japanese men and women thronged to enjoy two days of erotically-charged festivities.

The most popular event was the “Breast Fundraiser”, that encouraged people to donate to charity. When people donated money they were allowed to squeeze the breasts of one of ten adult film stars.

All money raised were donated to STOP!AIDS, a charity aimed at promoting the awareness, treatment, and prevention of AIDS.

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A letter to Angelina Jolie by an Indian Transman


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By Satya

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

Dear Angelina Jolie,

Thank you for coming out. I mean about your mastectomy. You have no idea what this can mean for a transman like me who went through the exact same procedure as yours; well almost!

You didn’t have to come out, but you did. Especially since during your mastectomies you kept it private and carried on with your work. I know how difficult it gets with film producer types. I am a filmmaker in Mumbai and you won’t believe it, but once during an edit session, Mr. Moneybags, finding me alone in the cutting room, asked if we could compare our d*** sizes! He giggled and said he hadn’t ever seen one of someone who has had a sex change operation.

Your piece in the New York Times ‘My Medical Choice’, undoubtedly must have been that  - a medical choice. You spent three months, since this February, on a procedure called ‘Preventive Bilateral Mastectomy; ‘Preventive’ since you are the carrier of the BRCA1 gene that puts you at 87% risk of breast cancer and 50% risk of ovarian cancer. I spent several years trying to convince doctors that I needed a mastectomy for preventive reasons too. Years of forced living in a gender identity that wasn’t my own, began to immobilize me. In a society that understands only two genders and in a medical system that sees abnormality in everything outside of it, going on is eventually impossible. But your risk of celebrity cancer turned out to be higher than my risk of a commoner suicide. Still, I am happy for you. The mere idea that someone can remove their breasts, at 87% risk or no risk, is just good enough for me for now.

And of course you wrote this piece for women! And I am hoping that you meant transwomen too, some of whom I know would kill to have your new breast implants. How atrocious is the idea being peddled that you wrote it to benefit the Pink Lotus Breast Centre, where your procedure was performed, or for the biotech company, Myriad Genetics, which owns a patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes giving them exclusive right to develop diagnostic tests for, at a current cost of more than $3000 in the USA. The fact that most breast cancer seems to be sporadic and has nothing to do with a BRCA1 mutation, pales beautifully in front of your sheer courage to talk about your own mastectomy in the media.

It is interesting though that all the media attention has been on your courage in losing your breasts, and not equally on your desire to have them reconstructed. Your doctors could have expected you to simply get back to the business of life without them. After all they were lost to a very high possibility of a most dreaded disease. But they didn’t. If you were non accepting of your loss, they could have put you through that monster of an American psychiatric-diagnostic-manual called ‘DSM-4 ‘ to prove your mental illness and therefore the need to cure you through breast reconstruction. But they didn’t. On the contrary, they became your facilitators. They saw you, as you saw yourself, a woman, one with those very definitive markers of femininity : breasts. Why do cosmetic surgeries for women skip the pathologisation that is mandatory for trans people all over the world? Why is it that medicine cannot facilitate trans people in the same way and grant them the same dignity of self identity?

Just like many of my trans brothers, sisters and lovers, I become complicit. I agreed to pathologize my gender identity. I agreed to let the psychiatrist issue me a certificate for Gender Identity Dysphoria [GID]. If I was to lose my breasts, I needed those gatekeepers to let me in. You had the BRCA1 to open the big wide doors of reconstructive surgery for you. And I had my GID certificate. I let them say, I am mentally ill. I let them say it on paper. I signed on an affidavit stating this was my consent and that I was totally responsible for whatever the surgeries would result in.

In a world with greater understanding, removing my breasts should have been seen as my ‘aesthetic choice’ ; a choice exercised in the severely limited societal understanding of gender, as being either only male or only female. But you’d agree that medicine being organized on the central idea of disease or, as you now have made so public, the possibility of it, is ill equipped at the moment, for such fine abstractions as mine. I knew success when I saw my psychiatrist scribble on his over qualified letterhead: “Diagnosis: G.I.D.’ Just like you, I too finally, made a ‘medical choice’. That I was as smart in 1997, as you are in 2013, makes me feel rather pleased with myself! Perhaps, this is a sign? Perhaps I will be a celebrity soon! Perhaps I will meet you at the next Cannes film festival and we can rule the world together?! Two Celebrity Bilateral Mastectomy Survivors, with reconstructed breasts on one, is better than none?! No?!

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Re-posted from THE TIMES OF INDIA

The author Satya is the founder & facilitator of the Indian Trans Group, Sampoorna.

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‘Worse than AIDS’ – sex ‘superbug’ discovered in Japan called disaster in waiting


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superbug-gonorrhea-aids-sex

Doctors are warning that a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea could be more deadly than AIDS, and are urging members of US Congress to spend $54 million for the development of a drug that would fight it.

“This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly,” Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, told CNBC.

The new strain of gonorrhea, H041, was first discovered in 2009 after a sex worker fell victim to the superbug in Japan. Medical officials reported that the medication-resilient ‘sex superbug’ was discovered in Hawaii in May 2011, and has since spread to California and Norway, the International Business Times reports.

Nearly 30 million people die from AIDS-related causes each year, and the H041 superbug could have similar consequences, according to Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine.

“Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days,” Christianson said. “This is very dangerous.”

The gonorrhea strain has not yet claimed any lives, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have asked Congress for $54 million to find an antibiotic to treat the strain.

In a Capitol Hill briefing last week, health officials said an education and public awareness campaign is crucial in minimizing the effective of HO41. William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition for STD Directors, said that if the ‘sex superbug’ spreads, it could quickly kill many people before a treatment is discovered. And that risk becomes increasingly more likely if Congress does not provide the funds to find a cure, he said.

“It’s an emergency situation. As time moves on, it’s getting more hazardous,” he told members of Congress.

“We have to keep beating the drum on this,” he added. “The potential for disaster is great.”

In the United States, there are 20 million new STD infections each year, which results in about $16 billion in medical costs, the CDC reports. More than 800,000 of these cases gonorrhea infections, most of which occur in young people ages 15 to 24. Gonorrhea is sometimes difficult to detect, since it shows no symptoms in about half of all women. Those who fall ill to the deadly strain may not notice it until it’s too late.

“That’s what’s kind of scary about this,” Smith said.

Although health officials have widely reported that cases of H041 were discovered in California, Hawaii and Norway, the CDC has disputed those claims and told CNBC on Monday that the infection has not been confirmed anywhere outside of Japan. The CDC did, however, make an announcement in 2011 that it was noticing greater gonorrhea bacterial resistance to certain types of antibiotics in Hawaii and California.

CDC officials said that the US and Norwegian cases were treated effectively with antibiotics not routinely recommended and that these cases were mistakenly identified as H041. But the agency continues to urge Congress for research funding, indicating that the risk of infection is high regardless of where the cases occurred.

Christianson is urging people to practice safe sex and get STD tests if they are in a new relationship, since a superbug infection could be around the corner.

“This is a disaster just waiting to happen,” he told CNBC. “It’s time to do something about it before it explodes. These superbugs, including the gonorrhea strain, are a health threat. We need to move now before it gets out of hand.”

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Re-posted from RT.com
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What I Have Learned (sometimes the hard way)


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I’ve learned- that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.

I’ve learned- that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back.

I’ve learned- that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.

I’ve learned- that it’s not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts.

I’ve learned- that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you’d better know something.

I’ve learned- that you shouldn’t compare yourself to the best others can do.

I’ve learned- that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I’ve learned- that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I’ve learned- that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I’ve learned- that you can keep going long after you can’t.

I’ve learned- that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I’ve learned- that either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I’ve learned- that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.

I’ve learned- that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I’ve learned- that money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I’ve learned- that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.

I’ve learned- that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you’re down will be the ones to help you get back up.

I’ve learned- that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.

I’ve learned- that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.

I’ve learned- that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

I’ve learned- that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.

I’ve learned- that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed it.

I’ve learned- that your family won’t always be there for you. It may seem funny, but people you aren’t related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren’t biological.

I’ve learned- that no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I’ve learned- that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you are to learn to forgive yourself.

I’ve learned- that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief.

I’ve learned- that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I’ve learned- that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.

I’ve learned- that we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I’ve learned- that you shouldn’t be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.

I’ve learned- that two people can look at the same thing and see something totally different.

I’ve learned- that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process.

I’ve learned- that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don’t even know you.

I’ve learned- that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.

I’ve learned- that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I’ve learned- that the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

I’ve learned- that it’s hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people’s feelings and standing up for what you believe.

Re-posted from Bible.com

 

United States: A Cold, Inhospitable, and Cruel Country for the Poor


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Poor-in-US-2.jpg

“Family in Need. Due Lay off. Any help Appreciated. Thank you God Bless.” (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The United States can be a cold, inhospitable, and cruel country for the poor, where mercy and compassion are not particularly evident.

Poverty continues to grow each year, and the middle class continues to shrink as unemployment stays high. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011, due to rising living costs, nearly half the Americans have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income. In other words, more than 146 million Americans are categorized as poor or have a low income, and this does not include those classified in the “near poverty” category. These figures follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that has hurt millions of workers and families.

Though the federal government claims that the recession is over and things are getting better, the number of layoffs last month in the United States was 30 percent higher than a year ago. What the poor in this country really need are jobs.

Mole people living under New York City

Mole people living under New York City.

Poverty has driven thousands of people out of their homes and has transformed them in to mole people, living under major U.S. cities – in abandoned subways, railroads, flood and sewage tunnels and heating shafts. They are also called “tunnel people” or “tunnel dwellers”. Mole people are found in New York City, Las Vegas and even in Kansas City, Missouri.

Besides the thousands of mole people living under the major U.S. cities, there are thousands living in tent cities, thousands that living in vehicles. It is pathetic to know that more than a million public school children do not have a home to go back to at night.

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Anger Management: A Few Tips to Control Our Temper


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Anger

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Managing anger is challenging, especially when someone provokes us willfully.

We must understand that feeling angry is part of being human. Anger is a normal and healthy emotion that helps us detect and respond instinctively to threatening situations like being attacked, insulted, deceived or frustrated. Even so, uncontrolled anger turns destructive and lead to problems that take a toll on our health, our personal relationships at home, at work, between friends and acquaintances. Uncontrolled anger could change the overall quality of our life and make us feel as though we are at the mercy of an unpredictable destructive power brimming within us. Anger becomes a problem when it harms us or others.

Charles Spielberger, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger defines anger as “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage.”

Anger, like other emotions, produces physiological and biological changes: our heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of our energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

Adrenaline and noradrenaline are catecholamines that play major roles in regulating the ‘inner world’ of the body by the brain. Adrenaline is a key cause of responses to metabolic or global challenges to homeostasis, such as glucoprivation, and of manifestations of emotional distress. Noradrenaline (synonymous with norepinephrine), the main neurotransmitter of the sympathetic nervous system, is responsible for tonic and reflexive changes in cardiovascular tone. Both external and/or internal circumstances can cause anger. One could be angry with a coworker or supervisor or could be angry due to an inadvertent event such as being in the midst of a traffic jam, or confronted with a canceled flight, or one’s anger could be the result of brooding and worrying about one’s personal problems. Even remembering traumatic or aggravating events can trigger angry feelings too.

Some Myths About Anger

  • Suppressing anger or ignoring it is unhealthy.

But venting anger is no better. Tirades and outbursts often worsen a situation than making it better.

  • Showing an aggressive attitude and intimidating others when angry help us earn the respect of others and carry out what we want.

If we cannot control ourselves or are not ready to listen and understand opposing viewpoints, then no one would ever show us respect even though they might be afraid of us. Real power comes not by bullying others.

  • Anger is an uncontrollable emotion.

We cannot always control the circumstances and the situation we have ourselves got into or how it makes us feel, but we can control the way we express our anger – without being oral or physically abusive. We always have the choice on how we should respond.

Some Dynamics of Anger

    • We become more angry when we are stressed and body resources are down.
    • We are rarely ever angry for the reasons we think.
    • We are often angry when we didn’t get what we needed as a child.
    • We often become angry when we see a trait in others we can’t stand in ourselves.
    • Underneath many current angers are old disappointments, traumas, and triggers.
    • Sometimes we get angry because we were hurt as a child.
    • We get angry when a current event brings up an old unresolved situation from the past.
    • We often feel strong emotion when a situation has a similar content, words or energy that we have felt before.

Source: Get Your Angries Out

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10 Tips to Tame Our Temper

Anger management is all about becoming aware of our underlying feelings and the need to develop healthy ways to manage our emotions and physical actions when we are in rage. The staff of Mayo Clinic have compiled a set of 10 simple anger management tips to tame our temper:

No. 1: Take a timeout

Counting to 10 isn’t just for kids. Before reacting to a tense situation, take a few moments to breathe deeply and count to 10. Slowing down can help defuse your temper. If necessary, take a break from the person or situation until your frustration subsides a bit.

No. 2: Once you’re calm, express your anger

As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non-confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.

No. 3: Get some exercise

Physical activity can offer an outlet for your emotions, especially if you’re about to erupt. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other favorite physical activities. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.

No. 4: Think before you speak

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.

No. 5: Identify possible solutions

Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child’s messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything, and might only make it worse.

No. 6: Stick with ‘I’ statements

To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes,” instead of, “You never do any housework.”

No. 7: Don’t hold a grudge

Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want.

No. 8: Use humor to release tension

Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Don’t use sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.

No. 9: Practice relaxation skills

When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as, “Take it easy.” You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.

No. 10: Know when to seek help

Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you. You might explore local anger management classes or anger management counseling. With professional help, you can:

      • Learn what anger is
      • Identify what triggers your anger
      • Recognize signs that you’re becoming angry
      • Learn to respond to frustration and anger in a controlled, healthy way
      • Explore underlying feelings, such as sadness or depression

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Under control

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Handling Money Is a Dirty Business


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

Dirty Money -2

Dirty Money: bacteria growth on one-dollar bill

According to a recent study, the money we handle every day – notes and coins - are dirtier than the handrail on an escalator or a staircase, or a book you pick up at a library? So, if you do handle money at any time it is advisable to wash your hands afterward.

In 2002, Southern Medical Journal published a study that found bacteria-laden paper money. Over 80% of cash tested carried germs harmful to people with lowered immunity. According to the study, 7% of bills showed traces of bacteria that cause serious illness, including Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia. Only 7% of the banknotes were germ-free.

According to SmartMoney.com, a study conducted in 2008 at Switzerland’s University Hospitals of Geneva found that some flu virus cells could last for up to 17 days on Swiss banknotes.

A study conducted by researchers at Oxford University concludes that paper money in Switzerland is among the dirtiest in Europe, second only to the money used in Sweden and Denmark. “Europeans’ perceptions of dirty cash are not without reason,” Ian Thompson, the professor from Oxford University who tested the cash, said in a news release. “The bank notes we tested harbored an average of 26,000 bacteria, which, for a number of pathogenic organisms, is enough for passing on infection.”

The study shows that Swiss banknotes – with denominations ranging from 10 to 1,000 francs – contain 32,400 bacteria. Even the newest, and therefore cleanest, notes tested contained 2,400 bacteria. The dirtiest currency was the Denmark krone with 40,226 bacteria followed by Swedish krona with 39,600.

Dirty money research

Over half of Britons think money is the filthiest item they touch (Picture: PA)

According to the result of a survey released by MasterCard on March 25, 2013, almost 60% of the people in Europe believe banknotes and coins are the dirtiest items they can come into contact with daily: dirtier than escalator handrails, buttons on ATMs and payment terminals, and library books.

A credit card company like MasterCard may have its own economic interests in pushing people away from cash. “(The bacteria) comes from multiple hands,” MasterCard’s Hany Fam told CNN’s Richard Quest. “These notes have a long time in circulation, they’re handed, hand to hand, from different people, and it’s inevitable that germs accumulate on them… No, I’m not just advocating credit cards: I’m just saying that consumers are increasingly flocking to other forms of payment – not only for cleanliness, obviously, but for ease, for convenience, for lots of reasons.”

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