Week #2: Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”

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I had a little craving for nostalgia, for the times I would sit in the corner of a library and read all the books in the world, because I had all the time in the world. I used to love Christie, and “And then there were None” is one of my favourite murder-mystery novels.

However, “Murder on the Orient Express” was disappointing, even though I was assured by librarian it was one of her best selling books. Maybe I’ve outgrown it, but the characters, the story and the ending (especially the ending), were bland and unimaginative.

This book is like a minimum wage job- making you work hard with little intellectual effort, with a disappointing reward. There are at least 10 different characters in this book that are so thoroughly analysed, with a chapter for each of them. You give yourself to these characters, invest time to get to know them, understand them. It’s almost like a relationship. The names are difficult to pronounce, with Princess Natalia Dragomiroff taking the prize. The characters are clearly defined by their race and ethnicity with “Caucasian” coolness and Italian hot temperedness. But it almost seems worth it; After all, it’s an Agatha Christie novel.

Hercule Poirot, a smug, conceited (and racist) detective who’s been featured in a collection of his own novels by Chrsite, is the man who saves the day; in literally a day. He solves the mystery of the murder of an American businessman, Mr.Ratchett (who’s real name is Casetti- Why Agatha, why?). Due to the snowstorm that befalls the train, the murderer could not have left the train. And so, Poirot sets to find the murderer within the train.

It’s difficult to let one understand the emotions I’m going through right now, in this review, because the real disappointment of the book is the ending, I don’t want to be That Spoiler Blogger.

I guess all I can do is allow you to read the book and feel the defeat for yourself.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/62276182@N00/2821350338″>Murder on the Orient Express</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Boredom Buster #1: The Flame Game

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When I was younger, I used to play a lot of stupidly entertaining games with my friends. “Flames” was one of the future predicting games we used to play. Flames is a game that determines the relationship between two people based on their names. We used to enter each other’s names, names of celebrities and our crushes to figure out if we were going to be friends, lovers, attracted to each other, married, enemies or have a casual fling.

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Yesterday, I found an online calculator that took me back to my childhood days! It’s a lot of fun when you don’t know what you’re doing in life. It’s fun even otherwise. Anyway, this is one of my boredom busters- for at least 20 minutes.

I must warn you, this could be highly inaccurate. So please, don’t leave your partners or break ties based on this game.

My sister is apparently attracted to me.

http://flamesgame.appspot.com

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/lel4nd/5599873685/”>Lel4nd</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Po-tae-to, Po- tah- to : How to cook potatoes

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A year ago, I decided to make herbed potatoes by stir frying them. I sliced the potatoes and rubbed them with a herb mixture and put it on the pan. After an hour, they were still uncooked- but they were also burnt. I was too embarrassed to let my mother know that I was such a bad and ignorant cook, so I ate them anyway. I vowed to never cook another potato.

Today, I cooked a potato. I mustered up enough courage to make herbed potatoes. And now, for the poor ignoramus, I will tell you how to cook potatoes. Because I think its a service to mankind.

Boil the potatoes!

Boil potatoes when you usually need to mash them or generally eat with a salad or as a side dish. It usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. You can boil potatoes either whole or cubed. The cubed potato should be evenly cut so that it all cooks through evenly.

To boil a potato-

1. scrub the potatoes clean and transfer them into a saucepan with cold water. The potatoes should be drowning in them.

2. Stir in a teaspoon of salt

3. Bring to boil, and then reduce to simmer. Do not cover the pan.

4. Check the potatoes and then drain them

You now have cooked potatoes.

Bake the Potates!

You can oven bake them by:

– Preheat the oven on 200-250 degree celsius.

– Prick the potatoes with a fork, rub them with oil and season them

– Cook the potatoes for 45- 60 minutes

You can also microwave potatoes:

– Rub the potatoes with oil and prick them with a fork.

– Place the potatoes in the microwave for five minutes at full power.

– Turn them over and microwave for another 5 minutes.

– They should be done, but if they aren’t keep microwaving in 1 min bursts.

You will thank me one day, if you’re an inexperienced cook who’s trying to impress someone with edible potatoes. Or your self esteem has been boosted by my stupid uneducated-ness. Either way, this article has helped you.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/banger1977/2914549247/”>banger1977</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Probably Why You’re not Successful: Sleep

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I’ve been sleeping at 6 or 7 am in the morning these past few weeks. When I do sleep, it’s really disturbed and I just think about all the insignificant things in my life. Like all jobless people, one morning at 4 am, I Googled. Apparently, I could have acute insomnia. Or I could be a hypochondriac, believing innocently, every word, Google hands to me.

Anyway, I did some research. All this time, Insomnia meant the inability to sleep at all, to me. It could, however, involve difficulty remaining asleep or falling asleep, poor quality of sleep or just unrestful sleep.

The lack of sleep can not only affect productivity, but also your creativity. I’ve had a lot of work lately, and I’ve also been trying to read a little more and be productive. But I haven’t been able to do any of it to the best of my abilities. I was supposed to read “The Fountainhead” in a week, but I took a lot longer. Any problem I was given seemed hard to solve too. But there are ways to get yourself back in the sleep game.

Naps

I had my exams last week, which led to the vicious cycle of stress and sleep. Sometimes I wouldn’t even sleep and attend the exam. To help my body recover I’d come back home and sleep for almost 6 hours during the day. But naps can only help to a certain extent. Naps are supposed to be limited to 30 minutes for maximum health benefits- more than that disrupts the nighttime sleep all over again. The best time to nap is between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to match the body’s circadian circle.

Sleep Schedule

I started to stick to a sleep schedule that I set out for myself. I tried making the “Snooze” button nonexistent as well. That button can actually ruin a lot for people who are trying to be successful. I’ve read somewhere that successful people always wake up early. And the snooze button is just an obstacle in our way. When you look at it like that, you have a little more hope in getting up earlier.

Sleep Diaries

Psychologists suggest sleep diaries as well. Diaries can help one record how long they sleep, how many times they woke up in the middle of the night and the general patterns of a person’s sleep. They also help determine why insomnia or other sleep related conditions are caused, as you can even write what you ate before sleeping or how much exercise you got before sleeping.

Smoking/Caffeine

I don’t smoke, but smoking is apparently a big reason that stops people from sleeping and being productive. Smoking urges and pangs occur in the night and generally makes sleep difficult. Although most movies portray successful people in expensive suits with a cigarette in their hands, please do not imitate. Caffeine should also be limited to increase sleep at night.

I wrote this article to help others like me. Happy Sleeping! 🙂

Try apps like:

http://sleepgenius.com

http://mysleepbot.com/tour

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/4293345631/”>Alan Cleaver</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

#Week 1: Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”

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I just got through “The Fountainhead” and it took me a little more than a week- therefore, the delay in this post.

“The Fountainhead” is about a man I’ve characterised in my head to look like Robert Downey Jr., named Howard Roark. He’s a man who loves what he does and does not see any truth in the world society dictates. He’s a modern architect in a time when Victorian and other decorative art forms were appreciated and respected. But he doesn’t care. He will design the way he loves designing, with the reward only being the building itself and not what reviews society gives him.

He’s juxtaposed with a rather weak minded man, Peter Keating. Peter Keating is the topper in his class, knows all about architecture, lands a great job and becomes “successful”. The reason he’s weak is because he is dictated by society in every step of his life. In fact, it’s weird, but, even though the entire book scorns Keating, most of us would identify ourselves with him. We would work hard to get good grades, get to college, get some work experience and finally- be rich. And many times, we wouldn’t love doing what we do. In the end, he sits down to paint and do something he really loved doing, but just isn’t good at it anymore and doesn’t have the time to be good at it. He’s invested too much of his energy in something society thought he was good at.

Before I read it, I read a little about the philosophy that Ayn Rand developed, which has been celebrated by many academia. It’s called “Objectivism”. I wasn’t entirely convinced and neither did I understand the concept in the beginning, but I’d like to think that I have a cursory understanding (at least) of it now.

Rand repetitively says, through the words of Roark, that the only social system that is moral is one that celebrates individualism and “selfishness”. Although, she says, most societies preach selflessness, being selfish is only another way of saying being persistent in the pursuit of happiness. And that is the only way one can be happy.

Although this sounds deep, and it is- it appealed to me in a different way. I felt like the entire book was written based on truth. After reading the book, I grudgingly thanked Ayn Rand for harshly making me realise- Society is a scam.

The story is interesting, following Roark’s determined journey to defy this immoral society, made “hotter” by the character of Dominique Francon (who is played in my head by Saffron Burrows) who’s Roark’s controversial lover. Both Francon and Roark are strong characters, but are also idealistic. They want a world that is unrealistic and implausible, just like Rand.

Anyhow, the book is a great read and is really fast paced except towards the end. The characters are not complex enough, I felt, as they all had either a “objectivist” outlook or not. But then, Rand had written the book to convey the philosophy, and the characters served their purpose.

Overall- Please read to feel inspired about life and pathetic about the pattern of life that society has left for you to follow.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/5425907494/”>DonkeyHotey</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Styling the bump: Maternity inspiration

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I am not one for too much celebrity gossip, but I can’t (like everybody else on the internet) take my eyes off Blake Lively in her “maternity wear”. (http://www.preserve.us/blog/celebration/bringing-up-baby/ ) She looked beautiful. The Sami & Lavi floral top and maxi skirt were sold out almost as soon as the photo was posted on the internet!

But people are acting like a reinvention of maternity clothes has never been seen before. The pairing of the skirt with the floral top is given credit of styling genius. However, I’ve been looking around and I found a lot of other people who’ve been styling their maternity clothes- spot on.

Melizza, from pincushiontreats.wordpress.com, has been “creating treats, one stitch at a time” for her readers. As I was looking through her blog posts, I found some of the clothes that she had stitched herself and created a wonderfully fresh and creative look with each post.

Take a look:

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Do check out Melizza’s blog: pincushiontreats.wordpress.com

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/bellymotherbaby/921981665/”>christyscherrer</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

We are what we eat: The food we eat reflects our personality

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Jennifer Aniston starred as the vivacious Polly Prince in the movie, “Along Came Polly”. Polly was adventurous, averse to commitment and got high on life. She loved to travel, didn’t know where life would take her and loved it. I remember this particular scene where she goes on a date with a man (Ben Stiller) and she suggests a Moroccan place. She loves experiencing food with her hands and enjoys the spicy food. Unlike Ben Stiller, who we come to see as a completely different person as compared to Polly.

It turns out, the kind of food you prefer predicts your personality too. According to research by John Hayes and Nadia Byrnes at Penn State University, personality is a key element to why people like spicy food. They believed that capsaicin, a major ingredient in chilli and spicy food, could be a determinant to a person’s personality.

A study using 200 participants tested their “Adventurous High risk” attitude and correlated it to their preference for spice. They used a test known as the Arnett’s inventory of Sensation Seeking, which determines the participants’ risk taking behaviour. The results showed that people who scored higher on this test also loved spicy food a lot more!

Have we become what we eat?

Watch this hilarious scene to find the different personalities of food and people:-

Along Came Polly – The Restaurant Scene – YouTube

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