Sep 25, 2011

Hitting it up at the Farmers Market ...


I’ve been hitting the local Farmers Market quite frequently for a few months now. Exploring, learning, and shopping at the Farmers Market has been something that I've wanted to do for a long time, but I guess it took me a few years to really get into the habit.

Farmers Market (or local market, as its popularly known here) is a public place where farmers and growers interact directly with buyers and other members of of the community. It's become an important service in most cities, where farmers can make a decent profit by selling retail and buyers  have access to fresh locally grown produce. Farmers Markets are critical for the survival of small family-owned farms and preservation of the agriculture oriented island communities across the country.

Yes, some items may be slightly pricier than what you'd pay at your local grocery store, but if you think about the quality, flavor and freshness you'll totally agree to spending a bit more. Besides, a lot of stuff is also cheaper and still of higher quality and freshness, especially what is in season. The last time I went there Papaya was in season and being sold at MRF 5/- a Kilo. I bought a few, naturally.

By shopping at the Farmers Market I get to buy locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables and stuff while doing my bit to support local commerce and agriculture. Local farmers work pretty hard and I think they need all the help that we can give.

My local Farmers Market is situated at the busy marine drive near the old Fish Market area. On my first visit the market looked like a busy, loud and chaotic place with people shouting indiscernible stuff at each other and laughing at their inside jokes. I had no clue what they were saying. I remember I was overwhelmed by the scene, especially seeing buyers who possessed almost a cult-like knowledge of exactly which stall they wanted to go to, what they wanted to buy and where all the bargains are at. I almost felt like a trespasser, it was definitely not a very inviting place.

Fortunately for me, it was a just a phase, it soon passed. Now I feel quite confident shopping at Farmers Market. I can never be as good as some people I know or who I see there regularly, but I don't think I will be lost in the crowd anymore either.

My local Farmers Market has recently been cleaned up, renovated and reorganized. Its quite family friendly now and I've seen kids enjoy their outing there. If you have never been to your local Farmers Market, I sincerely suggest that you check the place out. You might find some stuff that you have always wanted to try but not normally available at your favorite grocery store. You might even discover something that you like that you've never seen or tried before. Who knows, you may even enjoy shopping there.

See you at the Farmers Market!


Sep 21, 2011

Outlander: A terribly underrated movie ... ?!?


Seen any good movies lately? What are some good movies you've watched recently? Its been ages since I've watched anything recent that was worth blogging about.

I've actually started watching movies that came out few years back. It seems re-watching a movie a few years or even months later can totally change the view you held of a movie. You might end up truly liking a movie that you didn't enjoy before. Its weird, but it does happen sometimes, especially if you watch a decent copy of a movie.

I remember watching Outlander when it came out back in 2008. I didn't think much of it then. Am not saying I hated it, just that I didn't think it was a really good movie then.

I watched it again a few days back, in full HD glory, and it turned out to be a brilliant movie. Kind of makes me think why I didn't like it the first time I watched it. I don't know.

The film begins with a spaceship crashing in to Norway, in the year 709 A.D, the era of Vikings. The lone survivor of the crash, Kainan, is taken prisoner by the Vikings. Soon, mysterious disappearances and brutal deaths take place around the Viking settlement and Kainan, tell them an alien creature called the Moorwen is responsible. Initially and understandably so, the Vikings seem hesitant to believe his story, but soon the intergalactic space traveller join forces with the vicious Viking sword fighters to trap and kill the beast.

The movie sports a great cast. James Caviezel as Kainan the space traveler from a far-off world, Sophia Myles as Freya the daughter of the king and Kainan's love interest. It also stars Jack Huston as Wulfric, the young short-tempered Viking warrior, Ron Perlman as Gunnar, the burly leader of the enemy Viking warriors and John Hurt as Rothgar, the king.

James Caviezel was perfect as spaceman adjusting to Viking way of life and Sophia Myles was beautiful and graceful even as a Viking. I remember she was amazing in Hallam Foe, another movie you might want to check out if you haven't seen it yet.

I don't know why Outlander did so poorly in the box office, but I really liked the movie. I think its a very good movie, and is terribly underrated by most movie critics.

Have you seen Outlander? I would like hear your thoughts in the comments.


Sep 17, 2011

Have you read all Tintin comics yet ???


Hello … 

Today I saw the trailer for the upcoming movie The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn and I have to say, it looks pretty darn interesting. I think its going to be huge.

I wrote here before about reading Adventures of Tintin comics when I was younger and reading them again recently. As kids, me and my friends tried collecting all Tintin books. None of my friends were able to collect them all, and neither did I. There were always a few titles missing.

Times have changed since when we were kids, and now, every Tintin comic ever published is available for download on the internet. I list below all the titles I found online. You can easily download the PDFs here if you ever want to read any of the Tintin comics.

01. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets [PDF, 33.5MB]
02. Tintin in the Congo [PDF, 25.7MB]
03. Tintin in America  [PDF, 13.9MB]
04. Cigars of the Pharaoh [PDF, 16.8MB]
05. The Blue Lotus [PDF, 15.7MB]
06. The Broken Ear [PDF, 16.5MB]
07. The Black Island [PDF, 17.1MB]
08. King Ottokar's Sceptre [PDF, 16.1MB]
09. The Crab with the Golden Claws [PDF, 14.2MB]
10. The Shooting Star [PDF, 15.1MB]
11. The Secret of the Unicorn [PDF, 14.8MB]
12. Red Rackham's Treasure [PDF, 15.8MB]
13. The Seven Crystal Balls [PDF, 15.5MB]
14. Prisoners of the Sun [PDF, 16.1MB]
15. Land of Black Gold [PDF, 15.8MB]
16. Destination Moon [PDF, 16.5MB]
17. Explorers on the Moon [PDF, 16.1MB]
18. The Calculus Affair [PDF, 16.2MB]
19. The Red Sea Sharks [PDF, 16.4MB]
20. Tintin in Tibet [PDF, 17.0MB]
21. The Castafiore Emerald [PDF, 16.7MB]
22. Flight 714 [PDF, 18.8MB]
23. Tintin and the Picaros [PDF, 18.0MB]
24. Tintin and Alph-Art [PDF, 15.0MB]
25. Tintin and the Lake of Sharks [PDF, 9.8MB]
26. Tintin in Thailand [PDF, 2.9MB]
27. The Freelance Reporter [PDF, 2.0MB]
28. Tintin and The Mysterious Visitor [PDF, 1.4MB]
29. They Explored the Moon [PDF, 2.1MB]
30. The Voice of the Lagoon [PDF, 5.3MB]

Here is the link to my Tintin folder at Minus. You can browse through all the covers with descriptions and download any and as many you want.

Hope you enjoy the comics. I know I did. Good times!


Sep 15, 2011

Minus: An impressive file storage service ...



Heard about Minus, yet?

I'm big on backing-up my files. I've had hard drives die on me before, I've had a few hard drives fail on me without any kind of warning. I hope it hasn't happened to you yet, but I'm sure you have heard these stories before from your friends. Its not a pleasant experience to have your hard drives fail, nor is it any fun to lose your precious data. Since my last hard drive suddenly died on my a couple of months back, I've been backing-up my files online as fast as my limited internet connection allows me.

So why back-up online you may ask? Well, redundancy! First, I think big name companies offering "could storage" can do a better job of keeping data safe than you or me can ever think of doing. Also, there are other factors to consider, like offsite data storage, security, reliability, easy setup, process of backing up, automation and the list goes on. I don't know about you, but I seriously don't think I can ever keep on top of all these. I want to spend more time creating my data and less time backing-up and safe guarding my data, so personally, I think online storage is the way to go. I hear people saying, the future is in the cloud, and slowly but surely, I'm beginning to see their way of thinking.

The most important aspect of online storage for me is access to my data from anywhere in the world, at home, at office, while away on vacation, a business trip or even on the cell phone! The ability to access my data and the comforting thought of having it just a few keystrokes away, eliminates a lot of hassles, problems, and delays. You never know when you would be asked for a copy of that document. When you would want to show someone that picture. When you might need a copy of your identity card or passport to submit with that form you need to fill out.

I have previously written about Upload Robots and Dropbox. Now, let me introduce you to a relative newcomer on the cloud storage and file sharing scene, Minus.

So, with so many companies to choose from why What sold me was individual file size (2GB) and bigger free space when you sign up. You get 10GB of free space to start with when you sigh up, compared to 2GB from Dropbox and 4GB from Upload Robots.

Minus may be a new, but I like what they have done so far. They have made uploading as easy as drag and drop. Their user interface is simple, intuitive and very user friendly.

Also, they have this new social feature so you can "follow" your friends on Minus, letting you know if they have shared or uploaded anything. I think it's pretty nice.

Give Minus a try, It only takes a few seconds to sign up and start uploading files. If you sign up using my referral link, we both will get 1GB of bonus space for free.

And remember, back-up, back-up, back-up! I'll go now and try practicing what I preach.


Sep 13, 2011

This service needs to go mobile ... now !!!



So, you are riding your bike, wind in your face, probably enjoying the ride rather than being stuck in traffic. Suddenly, you feel that your bike is becoming a bit hard to maneuver and it starts to wobble. You dread to think, what are the odds of getting a … and bam, realization hits, you have got a flat! Every rider's nightmare. As lucky as you are, your luck is going to run out sooner or later. Mostly, Moore's law plays out really well in these situations, and your tires blows out at the worst possible moment!

This happened to me a few days ago. I was out to run some errands at 8 in the morning. I felt that it was getting difficult to pick up speed and negotiate turns. I felt something was not right, but did not exactly know what, so I looked down and checked my front tire. It was OK. After trying for a few more minutes I stopped and checked my rear tire. I had a flat. Darn it!

As incredulous as it may seem, I was stranded near the carnival area with no repair shops nearby, and I had no cell phone on me. It was so early in the morning and I've planned to be out for 15 minutes, tops, I had left my cell phone at home. Stuck so far  away from home, with no way to call for help, I weighed my available options, there were none!

So, with the rising sun behind my neck, I started to push my bike to the closest place I knew, a row of repair shops on a narrow lane behind ADK Hospital. I was kind of relieved it was not the front tire that blew out, that would have made it more pushing the bike more daunting a task, may be even a bit treacherous.

Anyway, I made to the shop in about 15 to 20 minutes, and as luck would have it, it was too early in the morning, and all of the shops were closed. I asked around and found out that they opened around 9:30. I thought against waiting there for more than an hour, so I parked my bike, and walked home. Later that morning, I took the bus, went to the repair shop, and had my bike fixed in less than 20 minutes. Cost me MRF 145/-. Apparently, they don't do patching anymore, they just replace the inner tubes.

So, it got me thinking, wouldn't it be nice if we had a number to call in situations like these. Something like a towing, bike repair, road assistance service? Wouldn't that be great?

I don't know if a service like this exist in Malé, but I do know that this service is available in Addu and Fuah Mulak. I have used the service myself in Addu a few years ago, when I some how managed to puncture my tire riding on the famous Link Road. I called a number advertised all over town and two guys came on a motorbike with all the necessary tools. I had my tire patched up and my bike ready to go in less than half hour. I think that time it cost me MRF 25/-.

If this service is available in Addu and Fuah Mulak (and probably other atolls) I wonder why it is not available in Malé, with more vehicles on our roads, and seemingly more hazards on our roadways? Also, how about an insurance policy to cover unfortunate incidents and unplanned expenses like these? I'd definitely buy such insurance! Wouldn't you?

Your thoughts?


Sep 4, 2011

Goldies: To keep or not to keep ... ?!?



I grew up in a home where pets, lots of them, were the norm, but it’s been ages since I’ve had a pet. Mostly because I've been living in rented spaces for the last several years and most of my landlords tend to frown upon at the idea of having pets in the building.

Anyway, I’m back home now, and I thought, I wanted a pet. I wanted to learn and enjoy the responsibility that comes when one gets a pet. Also, I needed some kind of interior decoration piece in my living room to try and make it a bit more homely and inviting. So I made up my mind to start small and get a simple Goldfish bowl. Could be a great starter kit, I thought? Also, the Feng Shui of it didn't sound bad either. the goldfish symbolizes wealth and prosperity in ancient Chinese culture. Am not Chinese, but that can’t hurt, right? One more thing, it is said that having an aquarium in the house helps in the relaxation process, I don’t know, I can’t confirm that!

So, I headed out to my local pet store and bought a medium sized Goldfish bowl, two Goldfish and a packet of food pallets. Cost me around MRF 300/-. Not bad, eh? I came back and set them up in my living room right next to my cactus plant.

It looks good! Visitors to my place seem to enjoy it, especially kids. Kids love feeding the fish.

But here comes the messed up part, some people I know don’t like Goldfish being kept in a bowl.

Friend: You shouldn’t keep fish in a bowl.
Me: Say, what?
Friend: You should never keep fish a bowl, especially Goldfish. It’s not healthy.
Me: They look pretty healthy to me.
Friend: No, seriously, you shouldn’t keep Goldfish in a bowl. It’s not healthy, they will not have enough space to swim around and they will not have enough oxygen. Also, the bowl will get dirty pretty quickly and that will harm the fish. Fish in a bowl are never happy. It's animal cruelty!
Me: What are you on about? Goldfish bowls are the most popular pets. Every other kid has a Goldfish bowl at home. Also, can you imagine a pet more iconic than a goldfish in a simple glass bowl? If it was animal cruelty, don’t you think PETA would get involved? I’ve never heard of PETA going after Goldfish bowls! I’m not killing a crocodile for leather, nor m I skinning a bear for fur, I just keep a fish in bowl! I don't seem the harm in it.
Friend: It’s basically the same thing. It's animal cruelty.
Me: Bro, I feed them and clean the bowl regularly. They are well cared for.
Friend: Doesn't matter, you should never keep fish in a bowl. Do you have any HD movies I can copy?

That was several weeks ago, and I am still keeping the fish. I feed them a pinch of pallets and flakes regularly. I make sure they gobble it up in under a minute so I don't overfeed them. I clean the water every 3 days, and scrub the bowl every other week. The fish look OK, they seem happy.

I can understand one's dismay towards irresponsible pet owners, but what I don't understand is advancing a holier-than-thou ideology that large-scale heinous crimes committed against animals is morally equivalent to keeping a pet at home. Thats hypocrisy, and I find it amazing what people are ready to believe after reading a slogan on a brochure from an animal rights organization.

What do you think? Should I get advanced aquarium system with a bed filters and oxygen pumps just to keep two Goldfish, or would that be an overkill?