Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for You

is for You.

Yes, you.

Y can be for a lot of others...

But it is YOU I want to thank for being a part of this blog. Thank You!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X-factor

X is for X-factor.

The X-factor referred here is the television music competition franchise created by Simon Cowell. It originated in the United Kingdom and it is now held in various countries.

The "X Factor" of the title refers to the undefinable "something" that makes for star quality. The prize is usually a recording contract, in addition to the publicity that appearance in the later stages of the show itself generates, not only for the winner but also for other highly ranked contestants.

Sam Bailey certainly has that X-factor. Follow her progress, in the video below, from audition to the final and eventually wins the X-factor in 2013.

Be entertained by her X-factor/talent. Yes, be entertained. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Watermelon, Water, Waterloo

W is for Watermelon.

Watermelon is available here all year round.

See what we can do with this sweet watery fruit or draw inspiration from it.

Notice the square watermelon. That is grown in Japan.

Source: Yahoo! images

W is also for Water, precious, precious water.

Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. Without access to safe water communities are unable to take their first essential step out of poverty.

WaterAid has been working in Mali since 2000. Over the last decade we have worked with local partners and influenced decision-makers to help more than 205,000 people access safe water and more than 208,000 people access safe sanitation.

W is also for Waterloo.. in relation to ABBA, of course. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Vegetables

V is for Vegetables.

- Vegetables and fruits are an important part of a healthy diet, and variety is as important as quantity.

- No single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients you need to be healthy. Eat plenty everyday.

A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check.

Eat a variety of types and colors of produce in order to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Try dark leafy greens; brightly colored red, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits; and cooked tomatoes.

The above is borrowed from the Harvard School of Public Health website. It goes on with more information..

Eat more vegetables and fruits each day

1. Keep fruit where you can see it. That way you’ll be more likely to eat it.

2. Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety is the key to a healthy diet.

3. Skip the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with more nutrients and more slowly digested carbohydrates.

4. Make it a meal. Try cooking new recipes that include more vegetables. Salads and stir fries are two ideas for getting tasty vegetables on your plate.

This one is interesting. There' also a suggestion of a Healthy Eating Plate vs. USDA’s MyPlate. Take a look.

This is the Healthy Eating Plate...

And this is the USDA's My Plate..

The Healthy Eating Plate, created by experts at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, points consumers to the healthiest choices in the major food groups. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, though it has been revised to reflect some key findings, still doesn’t offer the most complete picture when it comes to basic nutrition advice.

The Healthy Eating Plate is based exclusively on the best available science and was not subjected to political or commercial pressures from food industry lobbyists. Here’s a table showing how the Healthy Eating Plate compares to the USDA’s MyPlate, section by section.

Details on the comparison is available on Healthy Eating Plate vs. USDA’s MyPlate. Worth reading.

Source: Harvard School of Public Health

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for the Unseen

U is for the Unseen.

This is the last week of the A to Z Challenge. Though it's been challenging trying to keep up, it has been an interesting journey these past three weeks, and which now takes us to the letter U.

I have no idea why the word Unseen popped up. Let's go with it then.

Do you believe in the Unseen? The paranormal type I mean.

The ethnic Chinese of Taoist/Buddhist faith, of which this writer is a part of, just the beginning of this month took part in the ritual of tomb-sweeping, i.e., visiting tombs of departed relatives with food, incense, and other related offerings including money and clothes used in the other world.

This is a yearly affair around this time of the year. If you have seen a Chinese Taoist/Buddhist cemetery you would realise that it's very unlike the Christian ones. Chinese cemeteries have that air of 'scariness', or maybe it's just me or maybe it's the culture of belief of the afterlife and ghosts that gives us that feeling that our cemeteries are eerie.

For that reason, I make it a point never to take pictures in a cemetery when I make that annual pilgrimage to my grandparents' graves.

Speaking of taking pictures, I know someone who inadvertently snapped a picture of a ghostly figure appearing next to his friend whose picture was being taken. This took place at a staircase in a popular shopping complex downtown. Not sure if he still has that shot in his phone. That was quite some years ago.

Personally, I haven't had any such encounter. Thank goodness for that. But my roommate at a hotel in Auckland (that's right, New Zealand) had the experience. She saw one the very first night itself. Maybe because 'she' knew my girlfriend saw her, she thought it was ok to 'harass' my girlfriend after that. And she did, on the last night (fourth night) of our stay in this 5-star hotel. We were staying in one of the hotel suites.

(Lesson here - should you see a spirit/ghost, do not maintain eye contact or never let it know that you saw it. Pretend you didn't know it's there. Chances are it will also ignore you.)

I only knew about my roommate's encounter when she told me about it on the morning of the fifth day while we were waiting for our cab to the airport. My friend was not scared one bit. Such a brave lady! I would have asked for a room-change.

Want me to go on?

At dawn of the last morning of our stay, i.e. the fifth morning, I noticed my girlfriend (we slept in separate beds) was groping as if searching for something under the pillow and the sheets. At breakfast, I asked her about it and she said 'someone took off my pullover'.

You see, she had her pullover over a cotton short-sleeved blouse when we retired for the night. But come morning the pullover had been taken off and she suspected the 'thing' did it. Then she revealed that she had seen her the very first night itself. She was writing a postcard to send home. That was about 2AM when she saw a ghostly figure in white with wet long hair coming out from the bathroom. Yikes!

Why wasn't she scared, I asked her. She said she wasn't because she had with her not one but two amulets that her mom gave her.

A little about amulets. Over here, amulets are a part of the Chinese Taoist/Buddhist belief system. They are usually issued from the temple and mostly through a temple medium. He (usually it's a he) goes into a trance in which his body is being taken over by the temple deity and then he hears out anyone with a problem who need a solution. Together with the solution or advice provided (conveyed through a translator) amulets are sometimes issued when the occasion warrants it. I have seen these trance sessions and even been chased once by a medium, but that's for another day.

Back to the hotel episode, here's a tip to ensure a good night's sleep in a 'foreign' environment.

The next time before you retire for the night in a hotel room or in any strange place, do one of the following methods (someone in the know shared) on how to ward off spirits for an undisturbed good night's sleep.

1. Place your footwear each facing opposing directions by your bed. (See images.)

2. Sleep in the nude.

3. Sleep with your underwear at the head of the bed.

Nos. 2 and 3 are probably more for men but I practice the first one all the time - usually more than one pair. Yes, even in Auckland that time. Which explains, you think?

I didn't share it with my roommate because I thought she might think that I was overly superstitious. But you try it the next time you travel. I know it guarantees me a good night's sleep every time. It would too, for you. Tell me about it when you get back.

Image source: Yahoo!