Trick or Treat – Based on a Poem by Patricia L. Cisco
We moved to Canada in 2004 and the house we purchased had telephone cables and co-axial TV cables running to all rooms. We then used a dial-up modem connected to the telephone cable for accessing the Internet. Any room which needed a telephone had an stand-alone machine.
With the availability of cheaper digital cordless telephone with four remotely connected handsets and also with multiple facilities like answering machine, call display, etc, the first set of cables to be decommissioned were the two-wire telephone cable that connected every room of the house. We still had the coaxial TV cable running to all rooms. Now the telephone handsets started communicating wirelessly and the handsets could be moved with its battery charger to any room as required.
With the introduction of cable modem, router, and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone system few years later, the two-wire cable was terminated outside the house. We had to now run Cat 5 cable all through the house where ever a computer was to be connected to Internet. In an year in came a new Wi-Fi router and out went the Cat 5 cables.
Introduction of revolutionary Universal Serial Bus (USB) to connect anything and everything to a computer or a computer like device overhauled the cabling system of modern gadgets. Most cellphones and electronic devices started using USB charging. Most electrical outlets in hotels, airplanes, trains and buses came with USB ports built in to facilitate charging without an adapter. Home improvement stores started selling electrical outlets with USB connectors. Thus most of the electrical outlets at our home took a new avatar with USB port.
Introduction of Light Emitting Diode (LED) in home lighting, TV, computer monitors, displays on most home appliances has in effect reduced electricity consumption. Now most devices at home (except appliances like fridge, dishwasher, laundry systems, oven, cooking range, microwave oven, etc) use 12 Volt Direct Current (DC) as power source. Major weight and space consuming element of an LED bulb is the rectifier circuit which converts high voltage Alternating Current (AC) to 12 Volt DC.
With these 12 Volt DC appliances, mostly using USB to connect to power source, isn’t it time that we wire our home with 12 Volt DC cabling with USB ports?
At the end of the nineteenth century, ‘War of Currents’ between the American entrepreneurs Thomas Alva Edison and George Westinghouse resulted in AC being used in homes due to much reduced costs and transmission losses in comparison to DC transmission which required booster stations every 10 km. Nikola Tesla, then working with Edison, was in favour of AC and he disagreed with Edison about the use of DC current. Tesla resigned working for Edison and joined Westinghouse.
Our sun transmits energy as radiation through air without any wire. If we can build solar cell that can give near 100% or even 70% efficiency, it will usher in wireless power transmission.
Tesla dreamt of a global wireless power grid that any home, business, or vehicle could tap into. In 1934 the above drawing of a large transmitter appeared in an article on wireless power transmission. The caption read, “Nikola Tesla, electrical wizard, foresees the day when airplanes will be operated by radio-transmitted power supplied by ground stations.” The closest he ever came to realising his dream of wireless transmission was the Tesla coil, which he created in 1891.
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a wireless charging technology capable of transmitting electricity wirelessly to a moving object nearby. If the technology is upscaled, it may allow electric cars to recharge while in motion. It is nowhere near Tesla’s dream of airplanes flying on electricity.
As the team described in their recently published Nature Study, the transmission achieved was much smaller than would be needed to power vehicles. However, they did reach a kind of mid-range wireless power transfer based on magnetic resonance coupling. Electricity passing through wires creates an oscillating magnetic field, and it’s this field that causes a nearby coil’s electrons to oscillate. This in turn transmits power wirelessly. However, it’s a complex process and is only efficient when the oscillating coils are tuned with respect to the moving object.
Until now, this has been one of the primary problems for wireless energy transmission, because there hasn’t been a way to get the coils to automatically tune to moving objects. The researchers solved this problem by using a feedback resistor and voltage amplifier system to detect where it should be tuned to without help from humans.
This research is part of an overall push toward safer, clean energy highways with more manageable traffic that will eventually support self-driving cars. If this dream fructifies, you’ll be able to charge your electric car while driving on the highway. A coil in the bottom of the vehicle could receive electricity from a series of coils connected to an electric current embedded in the road.
With coils embedded in the roads, we could eventually enjoy a totally automated highway system. Self-driving electric vehicles could be wirelessly charged en route, and GPS and other navigation systems would also be powered wirelessly.
Stanford research team will pave way towards achieving Tesla’s dream of wireless electricity in near future. In case they succeed in their mission, soon we will be using transmitted electricity to power our low powered DC appliances like home lighting, TV, computer monitors, etc. This will allow lot of flexibility and reduce electrification cost. LED lights will become much cheaper as they would have done away with the rectifier circuit.
“Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.” Anais Nin, French-American diarist, essayist and novelist.
State of Kerala, India, was battered by the rains, causing havoc, displacing humans, and above all causing irreparable damage to the environment. Having been involved with rescue missions in such natural disaster while serving with the Indian Army for over two decades and also with the experience gained in Canada for the past 15 years, I thought it appropriate to work out a survival plan for all. If you are adequately prepared to face a range of emergencies, anytime, anywhere; you have a great chance of survival, God and nature willing.
The aim of this paper is to lay down a few steps that will help you take care of yourself and your loved ones during an emergency.
Know Where You Live
A country like India, where the terrain, climate, culture and social conditions differ drastically every square kilometer, knowing the risks in your region can help you better prepare. It may be heavy rains and floods in Kerala; ; in the East; water logging in Mumbai, blizzards and avalanches in J&K and Sikkim; tsunamis and cyclones in coastal regions; earthquakes in the Himalayan regions – the list is endless. Along with natural disasters, there are other types of risks, such as long power outages and industrial or transportation accidents, etc. It could even be spread of a life threatening epidemic raging like the Nipah Virus epidemic which Kerala recently witnessed.
Plan for an Emergency
Every household needs an emergency plan to suit their location and area. It will surely help you and your family know what to do in case of an emergency. It is surely worth the effort. The plan once made must be discussed with every family member and clear instructions as what each member is expected to execute must be clearly defined.
Keep this document in an easy-to-find, easy-to-remember place (with your emergency kit). Photocopy this plan and keep it in your car and/or at work, and a copy close to your phone. If you completed your plan online, keep an electronic version on your computer and also store it in a cloud and must also be saved on everyone’s cell-phones.
Love Thy Neighbours
Please take your neighbours also into consideration while working out your emergency plan – they are always your first responders in case of any emergency and you are also expected to reciprocate.
Neighbourhood Safety Plan
Work with your neighbours or the Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) to identify people who may need extra help during an emergency. Like in the Army, you may also assign ‘buddies’. Assets like doctors and health professionals, military veterans, retired police and administrative officials, and above all the youth group – they are all assets of your neighbourhood. Ensure that you include them in your neighbourhood plan and allocate duties and responsibilities to them.
Revisiting the Plan
Please revisit your plan and also your neighbourhood plan at least once a year. That should be the time you must restock your kit(, change the batteries, food and bottled water. Any breaks like Onam holidays, Pooja holidays or any weekend is the most suitable time when most members are available. Write yourself a reminder to update your emergency plan one year from now.
Make Copies of Important Documents.
Make copies of birth and marriage certificates, passports, licences, wills, land deeds and insurance. Take photos of family members in case a lost persons record is created. Keep them in a safe place, both inside and outside your home. You might want to put them in a safety deposit box or give them to friends and family who live out of town.
Learn about the emergency evacuation plans in place and what you will need to do. You may want to have some basic supplies at work, such as water and food that do not spoil, in case you need to stay put for a while. Check with your employer about workplace emergency plans, including fire alarms, emergency exits, meeting points, and designated safety personnel or floor wardens.
Ask your children’s school or daycare about their emergency policies. Find out how they will contact families during an emergency. Find out what type of authorisation the school or daycare requires to release your children to a designated person if you can’t pick them up. Make sure the school or daycare has updated contact information for parents, caregivers and designated persons.
Plan for pets
In case of an evacuation, remember that pets are not allowed in some public shelters or hotels. In case of an evacuation, prepare to take your pets with you to the home of a relative or friend, or take steps to identify pet-friendly hotels or pet boarding facilities in your area and further away from home.
Special Health Needs
Choose an out-of-town contact who lives far enough away that he or she is unlikely to be affected by the same event. If you have recently moved to a new area, make arrangements through friends, cultural associations or community organisations. Arrange for each family member to call, e-mail or text the same out-of-town contact person in case of an emergency.
When an Emergency Strikes
Preparing an Emergency Kit
Basic Emergency Kit
Emergency Vehicle Kit
Prepare a small kit and keep it in your vehicle to include:
An emergency may occur at any time and human being over centuries have faced many such ones. In case you are adequately prepared, you are in a better position to face it and also help others to go through the ordeal. Always remember “Preparedness is the calm before, during and after any storm.”
(Based on Government of Canada Emergency Preparedness Guide)
For centuries, roses have inspired love and brought beauty to those who have received them. In fact, the rose’s rich heritage dates back thousands of years. People have been passionate about roses since the beginning of time. We have over fifty bushes in our garden.
It was in seventeenth century that French explorer Samuel deChamplain brought the first cultivated roses to North America. Roses are truly ageless. Recently, archaeologists discovered the fossilized remains of wild roses over 40 million years old.
The people of ancient Greece used roses on festive occasions to adorn themselves with garlands of roses, and splash themselves with rose-scented oil. Napoleon’s wife Josephine so adored roses, she grew more than 250 varieties
Red roses are the traditional symbol for love, romance. It reflects beauty and perfection. Myth has it that Venus’ son Cupid accidentally shot arrows into the rose garden when a bee stung him, and it was the ‘sting’ of the arrows that caused the roses to grow thorns. When Venus walked through the garden and pricked her foot on a thorn, it was the droplets of her blood which turned the roses red.
White roses, the purist of colors, represent innocence, purity and charm. White roses are traditionally used in weddings and can represent new beginnings. We believe that white roses can also express remembrance and innocence. Why white roses are so special is no mystery – it’s a myth. Perhaps it started with the Romans who believed white roses grew where the tears of Venus fell as she mourned the loss of her beloved Adonis.
Peach-colored rose is gifted when are you grateful for someone or just want to show your appreciation. It shows appreciation and gratitude or a different way to say “Thank You!” They symbolise innocence and purity.
Cream roses are indicative of charm and thoughtfulness and goes well with pink ‘thank you’ roses. Gifting a bunch of cream roses is an ideal way to show someone that you care – but without any romantic intentions.
” How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.” Victor Hugo
” What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare
Peony is named after Paeon (also spelled Paean), a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. They are also the 12th anniversary flower – because the peony symbolises honour, fortune, and a happy relationship.. It is the state flower of Indiana.
Peonies are native to China. They are highly valued there, and are often referred to as the “king of flowers”. They were the national flower prior to 1929, when they were replaced by the plum tree. Chinese name for the peony is ‘Sho Yu’ meaning “most beautiful”.
Herbaceous peonies (also known as bush peonies) die to the ground in Winter. They re-emerge in March, or when the snow melts. Many find that they are deer resistant, but not always. Peonies are long lived, minimal care plants.
Tree peonies are called tree peonies for the woody stems that they have. Tree peonies have woody stems that defoliate in the fall, but the woody stems stay intact, above the ground. They tend to bloom earlier and with larger flowers than the bush peony.
Itoh or Intersectional peonies are a cross between the herbaceous (or bush) peony and the tree peony. These crosses have produced new, exciting colors. The plants have the lovely leaf form of the tree peonies, but die to the ground in the Winter. Since they are recent introductions and are still in short supply they command a high price.
Itoh Peonies derive its name from Japanese horticulturist, Dr. Toichi Itoh, who successfully created seven peony hybrids from a tree peony bred with an herbaceous peony. Dr. Itoh passed away before ever seeing his creations bloom. Years later, American horticulturist, Louis Smirnow bought some of these original Itoh peonies from Dr. Itoh’s widow and continued Itoh’s work.
Peonies like full sun, and though they can manage with half a day, they bloom best in a sunny spot. They come in every color except for blue. Pink, and white, are the most popular colours. Peonies can live upto a hundred years. In ancient times peonies were believed to relieve headaches and help with asthma.
‘April rains bring in May flowers’ is a common saying in Canada. This year, tulips sprouted as the days warmed up in April, but we had two snowfalls thereafter. Many plants either died or did not grow properly, but we still boast of the best Tulip Garden in Town.
‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ (Genesis 1:27, 28)
God gave man the right to rule over everything on earth. It must not translate into exploitation of nature, but being fruitful. It is all about the power of creativity that God blessed us humans with. It exhorts all humans to be part of creation and one of the best way to execute God’s command would be to tend to your garden. It may be a few indoor pots, a small home-garden or your farm.
May 03 is Garden Meditation Day. This is a day to take some time out for yourself to relax and meditate or the least, visit a garden if you do not own one. It is the time to get on to hands-on work, like digging in the garden, planting seeds, pruning plants and so on. It can actually be a form of meditating.
Research has proved that that when we become involved in physical activities that involve creativity, planning, problem-solving, physical labour, it reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also be a good exercise for weight-loss. The act of tending to your garden, planting saplings, de-weeding, will always make you feel better and also give you the power to be part of creation and being close to mother nature.
A mere look at your garden or plants can generate a lot of emotional changes which will surely have a positive effect on your blood pressure, heart activity, muscle tension, and neural activity. It will surely calm your nerves, soothe your emotions and provide lot of happiness.
Today, we have literally taken the God’s word of ‘ruling over the earth.’ Gardening is the best way to ‘go green’ and support mother nature. A well kept garden, why even a few indoor plants will surely impact the quality of air at your home. It helps keep the house warm in winters and cool in summers, thus reducing carbon imprint and also save a few bucks.
A vegetable garden in your backyard will provide you with fresh and good quality vegetables. In case you resort to organic farming – without use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides – you will have a regular bountiful harvest of organic vegetables.
One summer morning, as I was tending to the roses in the garden, an octogenarian stopped his car and came out to compliment me on the excellent garden. He said “your work has improved the property value of your home by a hundred thousand dollars and your neighbour’s by at least fifty thousand. I retired from being a real-estate agent for over forty years and this I can vouch for from my experience.” A garden or a landscaping is an investment for the future. A well manicured lawn, well kept flowerbeds, well pruned trees – all add ‘curb-appeal’ of your home. It is a sure shot recipe to sell your home faster.
Gardening and landscaping is truly becoming an art form. Planning, planting and watching your own garden grow can fill you with satisfaction and pride. Gardening is truly a life-time hobby. The more you learn the more proficient you get and the possibilities become endless. It is all about taking the first step, getting your hands dirty and your shoes soiled. As time pass by, you will surely enjoy it – especially post-retirement.
So what’s stopping you from starting your own garden and landscape design or even get some indoor plants?