Saturday, June 1, 2013

June has arrived

June 2013 is here.

June is the month of marriages and is named after goddess Juno. Juno was the goddess of marriage and a married couple's household.

This month is a month of relief for many students since they don't have homework - excluding those who have taken summer classes. In a nutshell, it is a month for relaxing.

June weather typically is sunny and bright. It's time to get out and enjoy after being indoors during those winter months. Today my wife and I, we are planning on heading towards Northern Georgia mountains - in and around Helen, GA, for a fishing expedition. Our son Chris, is gone for a mission trip in Dallas and will be back only next week.

Important dates in June:

June 14 - Flag Day
June 16 - Father's Day
June 21 - Summer starts

Along with other events in Atlanta, Bill Cosby is performing at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center on June 28th.

Enjoy June.

A-Z of Friendship

Accepts you as you are
Believes in “you”
Calls you just to say “HI”
Doesn’t give up on you
Envisions the whole of you
Forgives your mistakes
Gives unconditionally
Helps you
Invites you over
Just “be” with you
Keeps you close at heart
Loves you for who you are
Makes a difference in your life
Never Judges
Offers support
Picks you up
Quiets your fears
Raises your spirits
Says nice things about you
Tells you the truth when you need to hear it
Understands you
Values you
Walks beside you
XOXO is always pouring
Yells when you won’t listen and
Zaps you back to reality

Friday, May 31, 2013

Toddler rules

Many of my friends happen to be toddlers. We all have gone through this stage at one time or the other. While dealing with these toddlers, one needs to remembers the rules they play by. 

Here are top toddler 10 rules of possession. 

1. If I like it, it’s mine.

2. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.

4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.

5. If it’s mine, it must NEVER appear to be yours in anyway.

6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.

7. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.

8. If I saw it first, it’s mine.

9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

10. If it’s broken, it’s yours.

Carl's Garden

Carl was a quiet man.  He didn't talk much.  He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake.  Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning.  The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us.  He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII.  Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs and drug activity.

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner.  Without fanfare, he just signed up.

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened.  He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him.  Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?"  The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile.  As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down.  As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.

Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg.  He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running out to help him.  Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it.  "Carl, are you okay?  Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet.  Carl just passed a hand over his brow and signed, shaking his head.  "Just some punk kids.  I hope they'll wise-up someday."  His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose.  He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.

Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?"  "I've got to finish my watering.  It's been very dry lately," came the calm reply.  Satisfying himself that Carl really was alright, the minister could only marvel.  Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned.  Just as before, their threat was unchallenged.  Carl again offered them a drink from his hose.  This time they didn't rob him.  They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water.  When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done.  Carl just watched them.  Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.

The summer was quickly fading into fall.  Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him.  He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches.  As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him.  He braced himself for the expected attack.  "Don't worry old man.  I'm not going to hurt you this time."  The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl.

As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl.  "What's this?" Carl asked.  "It's your stuff," the man explained.  "It's your stuff back.  Even the money in your wallet."  "I don't understand," Carl said.  "Why would you help me now?"

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease.  "I learned something from you," he said.  "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you.  We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it.  But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink.  You didn't hate us for hating you.  You kept showing love against our hate."  He stopped for a moment.  "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back."  He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say.  "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess."  And with that, he walked off down the street.

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it.  He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist.  Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo.  He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter.  Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather.  In particular, the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church.  The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life.  In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do you best and make your garden as beautiful as you can.   We will never forget Carl and his garden."

The following spring another flyer went up.  It read:  "Person needed to care for Carl's garden."  The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door.  Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer.  "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said.  The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl.  He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around.  As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him."

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done.  In that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community.  But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer.  He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday."  "Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys.  "That's wonderful!  What's the baby's name?"  "Carl," he replied.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Essays no longer a requirement

Harvard Business School is no longer seeking essays from applicants, starting 2014. Until now, HBS required applicants to submit two essays. Competitive students used to hire consultants to help them write these essays, to improve their chances getting admitted. Many universities still require an essay as part of their application package.

Here is the WSJ blog.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


"Boys, what did I tell you?"

The schoolmaster spoke angrily. He was in trouble because his scholars would not study. Whenever his back was turned, they were sure to begin whispering to one another.

"Girls, stop your whispering, I say."

But still they would whisper, and he could not prevent it. The afternoon was half gone, and the trouble was growing. Then the master thought of a plan.

"Children," he said, "we are going to play a new game. The next one that whispers must come out and stand in the middle of the floor. He must stand there until he sees some one else whisper. Then he will tell me, and the one whom he names must come and take his place. He, in turn, will watch and report the first one that he sees whisper. And so we will keep the game going till it is time for school to be dismissed. The boy or girl who is standing at that time will be punished for all of you."

"What will the punishment be, Mr. Johnson?" asked a bold, bad boy. "A good thrashing," answered the master. He was tired, he was vexed, he hardly knew what he said.

The children thought the new game was very funny. First, Tommy Jones whispered to Billy Brown and was at once called out to stand on the floor. Within less than two minutes, Billy saw Mary Green whispering, and she had to take his place. Mary looked around and saw Samuel Miller asking his neighbor for a pencil, and Samuel was called. And so the fun went on until the clock showed that it lacked only ten minutes till school would be dismissed.

Then all became very good and very careful, for no one wished to be standing at the time of dismissal. They knew that the master would be as good as his word. The clock ticked loudly, and Tommy Jones, who was standing up for the fourth time, began to feel very uneasy. He stood on one leg and then on the other, and watched very closely; but nobody whispered. Could it be possible that he would receive that thrashing? Suddenly, to his great joy he saw little Lucy Martin lean over her desk and whisper to the girl in front of her. Now Lucy was the pet of the school. Everybody loved her, and this was the first time she had whispered that day. But Tommy didn't care for that. He wished to escape the punishment, and so he called out, "Lucy Martin!" and went proudly to his seat.

Little Lucy had not meant to whisper. There was something which she wished very much to know before going home, and so, without thinking, she had leaned over and whispered just three little words. With tears in her eyes she went out and stood in the whisperer's place.

She was very much ashamed and hurt, for it was the first time that she had ever been in disgrace at school. The other girls felt sorry that she should suffer for so small a fault. The boys looked at her and wondered if the master would really be as good as his word.

The clock kept on ticking. It lacked only one minute till the bell would strike the time for dismissal. What a shame that dear, gentle Lucy should be punished for all those unruly boys and girls!

Then, suddenly, an awkward half-grown boy who sat right in front of the master's desk turned squarely around and whispered to Tommy Jones, three desks away.

Everybody saw him. Little Lucy Martin saw him through her tears, but said nothing. Everybody was astonished, for that boy was the best scholar in the school, and he had never been known to break a rule.

It lacked only half a minute now. The awkward boy turned again and whispered so loudly that even the master could not help hearing: "Tommy, you deserve a thrashing!"

"Elihu Burritt, take your place on the floor," said the master sternly. The awkward boy stepped out quickly, and little Lucy Martin returned to her seat sobbing. At the same moment the bell struck and school was dismissed.

After all the others had gone home, the master took down his long birch rod and said: "Elihu, I suppose I must be as good as my word. But tell me why you so deliberately broke the rule against whispering."

"I did it to save little Lucy," said the awkward boy, standing up very straight and brave. "I could not bear to see her punished."

"Elihu, you may go home," said the master.

All this happened many years ago in New Britain, Connecticut. Elihu Burritt was a poor boy who was determined to learn. He worked many years as a blacksmith and studied books whenever he had a spare moment. He learned many languages and became known all over the world as "The Learned Blacksmith."


Once upon a time there lived a woman who had no children. She dreamed of having a little girl, but time went by, and her dream never came true. She then went to visit a witch, who gave her a magic grain of barley. She planted it in a flower pot.

And the very next day, the grain had turned into a lovely flower, rather like a tulip. The woman softly kissed its half shut petals. And as though by magic, the flower opened in full blossom. Inside sat a tiny girl, no bigger than a thumb. The woman called her Thumbelina. For a bed she had a walnut shell, violet petals for her mattress and a rose petal blanket. In the daytime, she played in a tulip petal boat, floating on a plate of water. Using two horse hairs as oars, Thumbelina. sailed around her little lake, singing and singing in a gentle sweet voice.

Then one night, as she lay fast asleep in her walnut shell, a large frog hopped through a hole in the window pane. As she gazed down at Thumbelina., she said to herself: "How pretty she is! She'd make the perfect bride for my own dear son!"

She picked up Thumbelina., walnut shell and all, and hopped into the garden. Nobody saw her go. Back at the pond, her fat ugly son, who always did as mother told him, was pleased with her choice. But mother frog was afraid that her pretty prisoner might run away. So she carried Thumbelina out to a water lily leaf in the middle of the pond.

"She can never escape us now," said the frog to her son.

"And we have plenty of time to prepare a new home for you and your bride." Thumbelina. was left all alone. She felt so desperate. She knew she would never be able to escape the fate that awaited her with the two horrid fat frogs. All she could do was cry her eyes out. However, one or two minnows who had been enjoying the shade below the water lily leaf, had overheard the two frogs talking, and the little girl's bitter sobs. They decided to do something about it. So they nibbled away at the lily stem till it broke and drifted away in the weak current. A dancing butterfly had an idea: "Throw me the end of your belt! I'll help you to move a little faster!" Thumbelina. gratefully did so, and the leaf soon floated away from the frog pond.

But other dangers lay ahead. A large beetle snatched Thumbelina. with his strong feet and took her away to his home at the top of a leafy tree.

"Isn't she pretty?" he said to his friends. But they pointed out that she was far too different. So the beetle took her down the tree and set her free.

It was summertime, and Thumbelina. wandered all by herself amongst the flowers and through the long grass. She had pollen for her meals and drank the dew. Then the rainy season came, bringing nasty weather. The poor child found it hard to find food and shelter. When winter set in, she suffered from the cold and felt terrible pangs of hunger.

One day, as Thumbelina. roamed helplessly over the bare meadows, she met a large spider who promised to help her. He took her to a hollow tree and guarded the door with a stout web. Then he brought her some dried chestnuts and called his friends to come and admire her beauty. But just like the beetles, all the other spiders persuaded Thumbelina's rescuer to let her go. Crying her heart out, and quite certain that nobody wanted her because she was ugly, Thumbelina. left the spider's house.

As she wandered, shivering with the cold, suddenly she came across a solid little cottage, made of twigs and dead leaves. Hopefully, she knocked on the door. It was opened by a field mouse.

"What are you doing outside in this weather?" he asked. "Come in and warm yourself." Comfortable and cozy, the field mouse's home was stocked with food. For her keep, Thumbelina. did the housework and told the mouse stories. One day, the field mouse said a friend was coming to visit them.

"He's a very rich mole, and has a lovely house. He wears a splendid black fur coat, but he's dreadfully shortsighted. He needs company and he'd like to marry you!" Thumbelina. did not relish the idea. However, when the mole came, she sang sweetly to him and he fell head over heels in love. The mole invited Thumbelina. and the field mouse to visit him, but to their surprise and horror, they came upon a swallow in the tunnel. It looked dead. Mole nudged it with his foot, saying: "That'll teach her! She should have come underground instead of darting about the sky all summer!" Thumbelina. was so shocked by such cruel words that later, she crept back unseen to the tunnel.

And every day, the little girl went to nurse the swallow and tenderly give it food.

In the meantime, the swallow told Thumbelina. its tale. Jagged by a thorn, it had been unable to follow its companions to a warmer climate.

"It's kind of you to nurse me," it told Thumbelina. But, in spring, the swallow flew away, after offering to take the little girl with it. All summer, Thumbelina. did her best to avoid marrying the mole. The little girl thought fearfully of how she'd have to live underground forever. On the eve of her wedding, she asked to spend a day in the open air. As she gently fingered a flower, she heard a familiar song: "Winter's on its way and I'll be off to warmer lands. Come with me!"

Thumbelina quickly clung to her swallow friend, and the bird soared into the sky. They flew over plains and hills till they reached a country of flowers. The swallow gently laid Thumbelina. in a blossom. There she met a tiny, white- winged fairy: the King of the Flower Fairies. Instantly, he asked her to marry him. Thumbelina. eagerly said "yes", and sprouting tiny white wings, she became the Flower Queen!

Moral: Always have a big heart.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Goldenrod and Aster

There were once two little girls who lived at the foot of a great hill; and one had such long, yellow hair that she was called Golden Hair, and the other had eyes as deep and blue as the sky, so every one called her Blue Eyes. And up at the top of the hill lived a wise old woman who could turn people into anything she wished.

It was a long way to the top of the hill, and the old woman was so dark and stern to look at that not every one cared to climb the path to the top; but one day the little girls began to wish that they might do something to make other people happy.

"Let us climb the hill," they cried, "and ask the old woman to tell us what we may do."

So Golden Hair took Blue Eyes' hand, and they started up the mountain side. It was a warm day, and they were obliged to stop many times to rest under the great oak trees which grew on either side of the path. They made baskets of leaves and filled them with berries as a gift for the old woman. They chased the squirrels and watched the gay little fishes darting about in the brook. On and on they walked in the rocky path, until the sun went down and the birds forgot to sing and the squirrels went to bed. Before long the stars peeped out and the moon shone down on them, and they were a long way from home—but they kept on climbing and climbing.

At last they came to the top of the hill, and there, at her gate, stood the old woman looking so stern that the two little girls were frightened, but Golden Hair said, bravely: "We came to ask you what we might do to make every one happy." And Blue Eyes said: "We want to stay together, please."

Then the old woman opened her gate wide for the two little girls to go inside, and she smiled a queer smile, as if she were thinking of magic things; and no one ever saw Golden Hair or Blue Eyes again. But in the morning the green grass on the hillside was full of waving, yellow goldenrod, and close by it grew nodding purple aster.

They say the old woman of the hill walks through the grass every moonlight night touching the goldenrod and aster - and she could tell, if she would, how she changed Golden Hair and Blue Eyes into flowers.



Monday, May 27, 2013

Call Center

Kumar was trying to get a job in one of the call centers in India. The Personnel Manager said, “Kumar, you have passed all the tests, except one on your grasp of the English language. Unless you pass it, you cannot qualify for this job.”

Kumar said, “Me ready.”

The manager said, “In one sentence use the words ‘yellow’, ‘pink’ and ‘green’.”

Kumar said, “Telephone goes green, green, and I pink it up, and say, ‘Yellow, this is Kumar, can I help you'?”

Kumar now works at a call center in New Delhi.

We all must have spoken to Kumar at one time or the other.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lifelong ambition

In the traffic court a young woman was brought before the judge to answer about a ticket she received for driving through a red light. She explained to the judge that she was a school teacher and requested an immediate disposal of her case so she could get to the school on time.

A wild gleam came into the judge's eyes. "You're a schoolteacher, eh?" he said. "Madam, I shall realize my lifelong ambition. I've waited years to have a schoolteacher in my court. Now sit down at that table and write 'I will not drive through red lights' 500 times!"


A legacy

Friend of my many years!
When the great silence falls, at last, on me,
Let me not leave, to pain and sadden thee,
A memory of tears,

But pleasant thoughts alone.
Of one who was thy friendship's honored guest
And drank the wine of consolation pressed
From sorrows of thy own.

I leave with thee a sense
Of hands upheld and trials rendered less,
The unselfish joy which is to helpfulness
Its own great recompense.

The knowledge that from thine,
As from the garments of the Master, stole
Calmness and strength, the virtue which makes whole
And heals without a sign.

Yea more, the assurance strong
That love, which fails of perfect utterance here,
Lives on to fill the heavenly atmosphere
With its immortal song. 

Credits: John Greenleaf Whittier

The cap that mother made

Little Anders had a fine new cap. His mother had made it for him with her shining knitting needles and balls of bright yarn. Most of the cap was red, but Mother had used up all her red yarn before the cap was done. So she knit part of it green and made the tassel blue.

Anders was very proud of his new cap. He pulled it down over his ears and marched through the house. His brothers and sisters told him what a fine cap it was.

But caps, Anders knew, are made for out of doors. He must go for a walk at once, to show his beautiful cap of red and green and blue.

A farm boy was passing by leading his horse. He noticed Anders' beautiful cap of red and green and blue and made him a deep bow. How proud Anders felt!

Then he met a big boy he knew. The big boy wore high boots and he had a bright new jack-knife in his hand. The big boy stopped short to look at Anders' beautiful cap of red and green and blue. He even went up to Anders and felt the blue tassel.

"I like your cap," said the big boy. "I will give you mine for it and my new jack-knife too."

Now Anders had never had a jack-knife and he wanted that bright new one very much. He thought he would be almost grown-up if he owned a jack-knife. But of course, he would not give up his beautiful cap of red and green and blue that Mother had made, for all the jack-knives in the world. So he shook his head and walked on.

The next person he met was a little old lady. When she saw Anders' beautiful cap of red and green and blue, she spread out her skirts and made him a curtsy.

"How dressed up you are, little boy!" said the little old lady. "You look fine enough to go to the King's ball."

"Well, I will go," said Anders to himself. "My beautiful cap of red and green and blue that Mother made; is fine enough for any ball."

And off Anders started to the King's palace. At the gate stood two fierce looking soldiers, with guns over their shoulders and shiny steel helmets on their heads. They stopped Anders and one of them asked, "Where are you going, little boy?"

Anders smiled at them and said, "I am going to the King's ball."

"But you cannot do that," said the second soldier. "Everybody at the ball has to wear a uniform."

Just then the Princess happened to cross the courtyard. She was dressed for the ball in a beautiful gown of white satin, trimmed with golden ribbons.

"This little boy does not need a uniform," said the Princess, "he has such a fine cap of red and green and blue. I will take him to the ball.”

So Anders walked beside the Princess, up the white marble steps and into the King's palace. On every side there were ladies in beautiful dresses of silk, satin and velvet, and gentlemen in fine uniforms with gold braid and buttons. They all bowed deeply as Anders and the Princess passed by. Anders felt sure it was because of the beautiful cap of red and green and blue, that Mother had made.

At last Anders and the Princess came to a big hall, where there was a long table set with snowy white linen. The plates and goblets on it were of shining gold. There were great dishes piled high with rich cakes. There were bowls of shaking jellies, pink and green, and baskets of fruit of many kinds. The Princess sat down in a chair of gold and told Anders to sit in the one beside her.

"And now you must take off your cap, my dear little boy," said the Princess.

And then she took hold of Anders' beautiful cap of red and green and blue and tried to pull it off. But Anders was too quick for her and held on to his cap with both hands. How could he let his fine cap be taken away! He might never get it back again.

"Give me your cap," said the Princess, "and I will give you a kiss."

Now Anders knew that it was very kind of the pretty Princess, to kiss a little boy like him, but he just could not let her have the beauti­ful cap of red and green and blue, that Mother had made.

The Princess coaxed and coaxed. She filled Anders' pockets with cakes. She took her fine gold chain and slipped it around his neck and she gave him a kiss on each cheek.

"Please give me your cap," begged the Princess, but Anders still held it tightly with both hands.

Just then the doors at the end of the hall opened and in came the King himself. He wore a beautiful cloak of blue velvet trimmed with white fur. On his head rested a great golden crown. Beside him walked gentlemen in fine uniforms, carrying hats with long plumes.

The King stopped by Anders' chair. He smiled at his daughter, the pretty Princess, and he smiled at Anders.

"What a fine cap you have, my little fellow!" said the King.

"Yes," answered Anders proudly. "My mother knit this cap for me of her best yarn. Everybody seems to want my beautiful cap of red and green and blue."

"How would you like to change with me?" asked the King still smiling. He put his two hands up to his head and took off his golden crown. Then he came close to Anders. He held the golden crown in one hand and with the other he reached out to take Anders' beautiful cap of red and green and blue.

Quick as a flash Anders slipped down from his chair and ran through the long hall. He dashed down the steps and out into the yard. The cakes tumbled out of his pockets, but Anders did not stop to pick them up. The clasp of the beautiful gold chain, which the Princess had given him, unfastened and fell off, but still Anders did not stop.

His two hands clung to his cap. His beautiful cap of red and green and blue was safe on his head. Anders ran and ran until at last he was at home. He burst into the cottage all out of breath.

"Why, Anders," his mother cried out, "why are you running so fast? And tell me where you have been all this long time."

As soon as Anders could catch his breath, he told his mother all the strange things that had happened to him. His brothers and sis­ters crowded around to hear his story.

When he had finished, his big brother spoke up, "If I had been there, I would have taken the King's crown. You were silly not to take it, Anders. A King's crown is worth a lot of money. You could have sold it and bought high boots and a velvet jacket and a velvet cap with a long plume, much better than your knitted-cap."

Anders blue eyes sparkled and his cheeks grew very red.

"I was not silly," he answered. "All the money the King's crown could bring, would not buy me a finer cap than the beautiful cap of red and green and blue that Mother made me."

And Anders ran straight into his mother's arms and she gave him a big hug and many, many kisses.