Battles and Wars!!

You can win the battles against your opponents by forwarding arguments, emotional blackmail, breast beating and crying but these battles do no good in the long run.

This means that despite knowing that you are at fault you are not inclined to admit them. The greatest impediment in resolving the problem is lack of introspection.

If we examine for a few minutes before going to bed what we have done or talked or what was our behavior towards others, was it justified really or was it the sheer refusal not to admit our faults, we can attain peace and serenity not only for ourselves but for those who we are fighting with.

Second most important fact is to possess the feeling of remorse and admit to the opponent that you were at fault but at the time anger and other negative feelings overpowered us.

By admitting the fault we can fill the opponent with a feeling of confidence and love. Otherwise the beast of mistrust will rear its head again after few days. In the end either of us will be decimated surviver will be left as a repentant fool.

Aloe vera

Aloe has a very long history of use. The sap was used medicinally by the Greeks and Romans, who obtained it from the island of Socotra. The Greek physician Dioscorides recorded the use of the leaves to treat wounds in the first century AD.

Aloe had reached England by the 10th century, where it appears to have been one of the drugs recommended to Alfred the Great by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. In the early part of the 17th century, the records of the East India Company show payments for aloe being made to the King of Socotra, who held a monopoly on the production of drugs from the Socotrine aloe.

Spotted forms of Aloe vera are sometimes known as Aloe vera var. chinensis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is not known whether the Socotrine aloe obtained in Greek and Roman times was from wild or cultivated populations. Today, however, African aloe (both Socotrine and Cape) is collected from wild plants, while in the West Indies, the plants are laid out in plantations like cabbages.

To prepare Aloe vera for market, the leaves are cut near the base of 24-36 year old plants. The resulting latex is collected and concentrated to the consistency of thick honey. A true concentrate produces a clear, translucent gel, which can be applied fresh, or it can be commercially converted into a more expensive ointment.

The gel can also be fermented to produce a tonic wine, to which honey and spices are added. In India, this is used to make a drink called kurmara or asava to treat anaemia and digestive and liver disorders.

The gel can also be inhaled in steam, and the powdered leaves can be used as a laxative. There is a danger that the huge tonnages of gel now sold in the developed world will mean that aloe is regarded as a cure-all for any ailment.

Then and Now

These days, I am taking a look at the posts which I had posted since the beginning of this blog. After going through the older posts in my blog, I am surprised how original I was since 3 to 4 years back. But I did not got much responses.

My statistics were very dismal. In fact they were sustained by the posts which were copied from the internet. These were like sprinkling of the salt on the salad. Even a nutritious food cannot be savored if it does not contain the spices.

I find that the newer ones are not as original as the older ones. They are mixture of my own thoughts, pictures and literature referred from newspapers, scientific books and internet. In fact, I have realized that I cannot write better stuff because my experience of the world around us is very limited. Most of us are content with their work and after the working hours come straight to home.

We watch television which takes away any effort we could have put in for imagining the scenarios. Our eyes and ears are fully occupied by the trivial stuff being screened on the television.

The real life experience only comes when we come in contact with people of all sorts. For example, a barber shop can be good place to listen to gossips and watch the customers.

In India, in these shops in addition to the real customers, a continuous stream of young dandies come and go into the barber shop. Most of them, take the combs without any formality of asking and comb their hair in front the big mirrors. During this exercise, they hum the songs or whistle.

Anyway, what I mean is that literature is born out of first hand experiences and for these either penury will push you into the throngs of the people of all hues or you are of the type who cannot sit in the comfort of the home and prefer to loiter outside.

I am realizing that how original I was writing when I was living at a remote place thousands of miles apart from my family. It is mostly copy and paste nowadays.

Eyelashes: Protector of Eyes

Every organ or part of our bodies is designed to perform some biological function for the survival and fitness of our bodies.

Some of the organs keep working without our ever noticing it until that organ stops working due to some injury or illness. Only then we realize the importance of that organ. One such part of body is eyelashes.

For centuries the eyes have been recognized as an important part of physical beauty, especially for women. Eyes can communicate without the need of words. The human beings have developed great capabilities of eyes.

Attractive women’s eyes are often also associated with favorable social status. And in many cultures long full eye lashes are symbols of beauty.

Eyelashes

On the other hand, loss of eye lashes is seen as a sign of deficiency in women. And so for centuries women have tried a myriad of methods for making their lashes, longer and fuller.

Apart from the beauty part, from an anatomy and physiology point of view, however, eye lashes serve several functions. They are intended to keep foreign particles or small insects from entering the eyes and causing damage or irritation.

Lashes are attached to eyelids in a curved arc designed to channel water away from the eyes, forming another layer of protection from the environment. Lashes are actually sensitive structures, similar to cats’ whiskers. They trigger the blink reflex response when an object comes too close to the eyes

Lashes are simply hairs that grow from the edge of the eyelid. They are arranged in two or three rows. Each eye has between 100 and 150 individual hairs with upper lids having the greater number.

Eyelashes are the widest type of human hair and the most richly pigmented. Each hair is, on average, 8-9 mm long, 7 mm of which extend beyond the eyelid. Lashes grow at a rate of about 0.15 mm per day, which means that if lashes are pulled out they take about eight weeks to fully grow back. Like other human hair, eyelashes are produced from follicles under the skin.

Follicles have three stages of growth—an actual growing phase, a declination phase and a shedding phase. Each hair is very strong—capable of supporting 100 grams.

Hair growth in humans is different from hair growth in many mammals that shed their hair all at once. Human hair growth is asynchronous—that is, some follicles are experiencing growth while others are in decline or being shed.

The eyelash growth cycle is variable, lasting between five and twelve months. The first phase is called anagen. This is the growing phase and lasts about 45 days on average. The normal length of a person’s lashes is determined by this phase.

In the second stage of growth, called catagen, follicle cells undergo programmed cell death, a process that takes about fifteen days. About 3% of all lashes are in this phase at any given time.

The lashes then enter a period of rest, telogen, which can last as long as nine months. Up to 15% of hair is in this phase. At the end of this phase lashes are shed in a process labeled exogen. As this phase ends, anagen begins again.

Like all human hair, eyelashes are made of 85% proteins, primarily keratin and melanin. Water makes up 7% of human hair and 3% is composed of lipids. The keratin is made up of eighteen amino acids, 7% water, and small concentrations of trace minerals (e.g., iron, zinc, copper).

Tobacco and Slavery

When America was in the process of colonization by European powers who began settling their people there, they required large numbers of labors to work on their farms. Most of the people who were enslaved and sold in America were Africans.

The transatlantic slave trade involved many millions of people, and its history and legacy have had an impact all over the world. There were European slave traders, ships’captains and sailors as well as African traders and the African people captured and enslaved.

They cultivated the land which were highly fertile and produced crops in vast quantities. Colonizers saw that these crops were commercial in nature. The produce were shipped to Europe and earned huge profits. One of these was Tobacco.

Dunhill Early Morning Pipe Tobacco,

Tobacco is called Nicotiana tabacum in scientific language and English were to make huge profits by selling it just as they did by selling illegally opium produced in Bihar India to Chinese people.

The opium trade had two effects which favored English to defeat the Chinese and dictate the terms in future trade of Silk. These were making the Chinese people addicts and siphoning of the money from China. Anyway we are talking about tobacco.

Original people of the Americas were already growing it when the colonizers got foothold there. It originated in the Andes mountains in South America. It was not only smoked but also used in ceremonies and as a medicine. They smoked it through pipes.

It was Mr. John Rolfe who was one of the first English colonists in Jamestown, Virginia which was founded in 1607. He introduced the sweeter Caribbean tobacco to Virginia. Heavily forested island of Barbados were cleared for cultivating the tobacco. Tobacco was the most profitable export from mainland North America before cotton was established, and from the Caribbean before sugar took over.

Tobacco cultivation requires lots of hard work. Many diseases which were unknown to Americans came along with Europeans and reduced the local population. This made the English to capture the Africans and sell them as farmhands in America.

Tobacco became very popular throughout Europe. Francis Drake first introduced it to England in 1585, and Walter Raleigh made it fashionable. It was seen as a miracle medicine, curing anything from stomach ache to gunshot wounds, and snakebites to bad breath.

About the Power of Breathing

Breathing is our life. It goes on unnoticed until we are having some problem with our body. It is our constant companion from the time we are born and till the time we leave this world. Following our body breathing can calm our mind.

One of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today, poet, and peace and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh has led an extraordinary life. Born in central Vietnam in 1926 he joined the monkshood at the age of sixteen.

Thich Nhat Hanh

He tells us about breathing like this. The breathing is a stable solid ground that we can take refuge in. Regardless of our internal weather- our thoughts, emotions and perceptions- our breathing is always with us like a faithful friend. Whenever we feel carried away, or sunken in a deep emotion, or scattered in worries and projects, we return to our breathing to collect and anchor our mind.

We feel the flow of air coming in and going out of our nose. We feel how light and natural, how calm and peaceful our breathing functions. At any time, while we are walking, gardening, or typing, we can return to this peaceful source of life.

We may like to recite:

Breathing in I know that I am breathing in Breathing out I know I am breathing out 

We do not need to control our breath. Feel the breath as it actually is. It may be long or short, deep or shallow. With our awareness it will naturally become slower and deeper. Conscious breathing is the key to uniting body and mind and bringing the energy of mindfulness into each moment of our life.

Calories or calories??

There are millions of people for whom it is almost impossible to arrange two square meals for the families. So they don’t have any choice of what they eat.

On the other hand, there are affluent people for whom what to eat or what not to eat is a big problem. They are grappling with obesity problems which are the precursor of so many lethal ailments like heart attack, blood pressure, backache and diabetes. They are always conscious of the calorific value of the foods they consume.

Any student of science or health conscious person is aware that calorie is unit of energy. Our bodies continuously require energy to properly perform normal functions of the body. Even while doing nothing, our body consumes energy called basal metabolic rate.

Calorie and calorie are slightly different. In nutrition science, Calorie with capital C is equal to 1000 calories. Sometimes, Calorie is also called kilo calorie. 1 Calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise 1 kilogram of water 1 degree centigrade at sea level.

The calorie content of foods consumed  by a human being was determined in the late 1800s by Wilbur O. Atwater, an agricultural chemist. He built a device called a “Respiration Calorimeter” to make direct measurements of heat released by humans from the food they consumed.

At 4 feet by 8 feet, Atwater’s calorimeter was big enough to allow a person to step into it. The device measured the amount of heat released by that person, along with the amount of oxygen consumed and carbon dioxide given off.

Wilbur Olin Atwater (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Using this device, Atwater was able to measure the precise amount of energy contained in thousands of food items. He found that carbohydrates and proteins are worth 4 Calories per gram and fats about 9 Calories per gram. This 4-9-4 system is how labels are determined today. In some cases, dietary fiber is subtracted from the total carbohydrate count because it is assumed that it provides no nutritional calories. Also, alcohol, if present, is accounted for as 7 Calories per gram.

Basal metabolism reactions occurring inside our bodies consume 70% of the calories. Rest 30% if not consumed shall be deposited in the body mostly in the form of fat.

Life and Death

What is life after all. Yesterday, in the night, around 9 O’clock, while returning from the club, I saw the dog lying on the grass by the side of the road. Its body was writhing in convulsions; froth was issuing from its mouth. It was dying and its mental faculties had lost all reasoning. Its mates were sitting melancholy by its side nearby. They were silent.

Only, yesterday it was alive, today it is leaving this world. May be someone has beaten it mercilessly. Nobody cares much about street dogs. Yesterday, it was fighting for food with other dogs. Animals of same species or for that matter seem to settle score there and then; they don’t keep animosity or love in the balance. We humans, keep the hatred and love stored in the mind where it get the interest also meaning it continues to accumulate and results in tensions and unhappiness. Animals will fight and forget it that instance.

Next day in the morning, though I was not having the courage to go and see it lying there, I went there. It was lying without any worries about gathering food, serene, it was sleeping an eternal sleep freed of all hardships. I recalled to my mind the phrase ” a dog’s life”

Life is becoming difficult

Life is demanding heavy price and is becoming villainous as the age is increasing. The body is becoming weaker and less capable of resisting the attacks mounted by ailments which were at bay when the body was strong.

With each passing day, new ailments are sprouting. Suddenly this winter there is a pain in the knee while walking, the right arm got frozen in the summer and there is a problem in teeth and passing the urine and sugar levels in the blood streams are rising.

And the popular adage in the programmers’ circle that whatever comes by itself usually goes away by itself does not seem applicable in the case of life. I think whatever is coming and visiting this body loves to stay here because the body is not a strong owner now who once shooed away these visitors.

Also I was wrong in assuming that life will be easy and without any care when we will retire but it is not the case. We have become so much accustomed to our office that it seems to us an inseparable part of the life.

When you retire after putting a third of your life span, a sudden shock happens and from that day one is jobless, money will stop to flow and we will have to start expending whatever we have amassed over these years.

But we have to be very careful and every single penny will assume importance. The reserve of money will start sinking. Frugality will become the key word.

How the time will pass without work is unimaginable at present but we are powerless.

Chocolates are Good

Chocolates have been found good for health in moderation. They contain cocoa which is storehouse of thousands of chemicals which are good for human health.

It contains organic chemicals called poly-phenols. These chemicals have been proven to reduce the bad LDL Cholesterol and boosts HDL Cholesterol. This is good for our heart and arteries.

Cocoa

The benefits of these poly-phenols do not stop here. They are very active compounds and catch the free radicals which are very harmful to our body. Free radicals are atoms, compounds which have free unpaired electrons on them and are very reactive and can oxidize many useful compounds in the body and cause diseases like cancer, Alzheimer and other deadly diseases. These phenols render them ineffective and harmless.

Chocolate Goodies

Similarly chocolates contain a chemical called “Anadamide” which boost the mood and removes the gloominess. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word “Ananda” which means bliss.

Chocolate acts as a stimulant. It contains two compounds namely Caffeine and Theobromine which are stimulants. They also contain poly-phenols a class of chemicals called Catechins. These compounds help in reducing the risk of stroke in humans.

It contains Cortisol a chemical which boost the morale and reduces the stress levels. 1.5 ounces (42 grams) of chocolate per day for two weeks have been found to do the trick.

But chocolates have a downside to health. They contain a lot of sugar which is bad for health. Many other foods also contain many of these useful compounds but not as many are present in this single packaged. So in moderation chocolates are good for health.