Thoughts & Sayings (February 2014)


Here are some thoughts and sayings I posted on Twitter and/or Facebook in December 2013 and January 2014. To my knowledge, I made these up (for better or for worse). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Encouraging Words

1. You cannot deny destiny, but if you do nothing, destiny can deny you.

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2. Doing two things at once takes half the time.

busy

Twisted Words

3. I score a goal every time I hit the coffee puck into the trash.

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In Its Own Write

4. I’m writing a book about a pair of normal Romans.

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Holidays & Events

5. A human in a polar vortex is like a polar bear in a zoo.

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6. ’13 was my lucky year. I made it to 2014.

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7. The Mayan calendar ended in 2012. It only took me a year to catch up.

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8. The ring of the cash registers sounds like silver bells.

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9. Before the advent of December 1, there was November 30.

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Random Musings

10. Sometimes what’s in the rear view is more interesting than what lies ahead.

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11. Trains of thought don’t always run on schedule.

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Click here to visit the Thoughts & Sayings page, or click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts & Sayings.

Images courtesy of Microsoft except Roman Coliseum photo by M.G. Edwards.

WAfK Front Cover (mini)M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

World Adventurers’ 2012 in Review


This year was a good one for  my blog, World Adventurers. In 2012, there were 116 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 911 posts. The busiest day of the year was April 4th with 3,919 views. The most popular post that day was Top Ten Things to See in Zambia (with Photos) when WordPress featured it on Freshly Pressed.

According to WordPress, 4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had about 57,000 views and 5,900 followers via Twitter and WordPress in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 13 Film Festivals. That’s a tall order! But just as notable is that readership and views this year more than doubled the past three years combined. How did World Adventurers grow so fast? Frequent posts with good content, photos, and detailed tags to help users find the right posts in search results.

 

 

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy New Years to All! May you have a peaceful and prosperous 2013.

Bihu, Assamese New Year – Guest Post by Pranjal Borthakur


Bihu, Assamese New Year

Guest Post by Pranjal Borthakur

Bihu is a set of three cultural festivals celebrated in the Indian Province of Assam and other regions of the Indian subcontinent. The most popular, Rongali Bihu, celebrates the onset of the Assamese New Year in mid-April (around April 15). The second, Kongali Bihu, occurs in mid-October, while the third, Bhogai Bihu, happens at the end of the harvest season in January. Rongali Bihu commemorates the first day of the Hindu solar calendar and the beginning of the agricultural season when farmers cultivating their fields feel a sense of joy and optimism. The ancient festival lasts seven days and is known for its feasts, lively performances, and merriment. The celebration generally transcends castes and religion and has evolved into a more secular festival that promotes humanity, peace, and fraternity between the classes and faiths.

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The festival begins on the last day of the previous year — usually April 14. On the first day, called Goru (Cow) Bihu, cows are washed and smeared with paste, struck with sprigs of herbs, untethered, and allowed to roam free for the day.

On New Year Day, Manuh (Human) Bihu, celebrants clean up, put on new clothing, and ring in the New Year with vigor. Elders are shown respect, receive bihuwan (gamosa cloth), a hachoti (kerchief), and are asked for blessings. The red-and-white gamosa hand woven on a loom by mothers and daughters (see below) is especially revered as a mark of respect for the Assamese and a prized gift. Husori (carol) singing begins, and people visit family and friends.

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The third day, Gosai (Gods) Bihu, is dedicated to the worship of the gods, with requests for blessings in the New Year, and cleaning house. The remaining days, Hat Bihu, Senehi Bihu, Maiki Bihu, and Sera Bihu, each represent a special significance in the New Year.

Pitha, traditional cakes made from rice flour and fillings such as coconut, and larus or jolpan snacks help make the season more festive.

Music plays a central role in Bihu. Folk songs associated with the Rongali Bihu are called Bihu Geets (Bihu songs). Husori (huchari) are traditional carols that celebrate Bihu. Huchari comes from the Dimasa Kachari words for “land” (ha) and “move over” (char). Rongali Bihu is also a fertility festival, where Bihu dancing celebrate young women’s fertility with its sensuous movements. It is a time for young men and women to seek partners and mates.

 

Bihu Performances

Singing, dancing, and performing is a very important part of the celebration. Dancers dance on an elevated stage in an open area known as a Bihutoli popular throughout Assam. Performances may include Bihu dances, theatrical performances, concerts by solo singers, and standup comedy that entertain audiences late into the night. They keep the audience enthralled well into the early hours of the morning. In the photos below, village children in small groups sing husori and dance in traditional Bihu style.

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My niece Mamu posed with the village kids after their Bihu dance. She enjoyed it so much that she begged to take photos with them in Assamese, “Munu mur photo tana.”

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Children, adolescents, and teens perform suori or dhodhi monthon, a reenactment of the god Krishna’s childhood.

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Various tribal groups take the stage to compete with one another singing husori. The singers announce their arrival with drum beats and come on stage, where they sing songs and perform a ring dance. At the end of the performance, they are thanked with an offering. In one dance, young men engaged in a mock war with one another on stage. It was quite unnerving!

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In some parts of Assam, Kali Puja is also performed as a prayer to the goddess Kali. It typically involves the sacrifice of goats and other animals.

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40 idol of goddess Kali

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44sacrificing black goat

Young unmarried men and women wearing traditional golden silk muga dance the Mukoli Bihu and sing Bihu songs to celebrate female sexuality. The songs have themes of requited or unrequited romance and love. Although the songs describe tragic events, they are treated lightly by the audience. Bihu dance groups from different villages compete with one another for the privilege of joining the Village Bihu Group.

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proud moments for the group

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Other forms of Bihu that are celebrated in Assam include Fat Bihu, an old form characterized by spontaneity that is popular in Lakhimpur, Assam; the Jeng Bihu performed and watched exclusively by women; Beshma, and Baisago.

About Shree Sai Siksha Niketan School

The Shree Sai Siksha Niketan School is located in Guwahati, the capital of Assam Province in India. The school for boys and girls has 51 students in grades 1 through 12. Although the school is financed by private sources and resources are limited, Mr. Borthakur and his dedicated staff and teachers work hard to provide a quality education to these promising students. Since its founding, the school has grown from 12 students and continues to grow. Below are photos of the school’s students performing at the First Annual Day Celebration held in early 2012.

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54 child performing bihu

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51 head girl of school52Below are photos of the school principal and the staff. They are a dedicated group of individuals.

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Students and staff participate in a class activity at the school.

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About Pranjal Borthakur

Pranjal Borthakur is head of the Shree Sai Siksha Niketan School. Married and a father of two, he has dedicated his life to running Shree Sai Siksha Niketan School and offering an affordable education to children in Guwahati. Below are photos of Mr. Borthakur and his family in Guwahati.

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Pranjal’s daughter Asmita (center), son Manas (left), and niece Mamu.

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50 my daughter Asmita in Black specs

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Pranjal’s wife with a group during a school outing.

51 my wife front posing back in school picnic

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Photos from Pranjal’s childhood. Riding horses with his brother Pranab and with his father, Dr. Borthakur, and brother.

me and my brother pranab in our childhood(left me)

my father dr.borthakur,me and my bro

For more information about Assamese culture, the Shree Sai Siksha Niketan School, or to inquire how you can support the school, contact Mr. Borthakur at:

E-mail: pranjalbarthakur@gmail.com

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/@pranjalbor

Web page: http://sssniketan.blogspot.com/

Blog:  http://pranjalborthakur.wordpress.com/

Phone: +917399555359

Address: Pranjal Borthakur, Airforce Gate, Village Raibori, Police Station Palasbari, Post Office Bongora , Guwahati-781015

Map picture

Resolve to Make 2012 A Great Year


Happy New Year! How did you enjoy ringing in the new year? Did you wake up feeling great or with a literal or proverbial hangover? Now that the celebrating has subsided, are you ready for 2012?

This year may be a momentous one with some major milestones on the calendar, from the Chinese Year of the Dragon to the end of the Mayan calendar. Some dates are already set, such as the Expo in Yeosu, South Korea (May 12-August 12), the Summer Olympics in London (July 27-August 12), not to mention the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars in August, and, barring a new framework agreement, the end of the Kyoto Protocol on December 31. Some major events this year are already known, while others are not. No one really knows what will happen in places such as North Korea, where newly-installed “supreme commander” Kim Jong Un takes over as leader; possible sanctions and threats to blockade the Strait of Hormuz; unrest in Syria and other protests sparked by the Arab Spring; the European financial crisis; protests in Russia; potential economic slowdown in China; general elections in the United States and in dozens of other countries worldwide. No one knows what will happen. On December 21, 2012, when the Mayans purportedly predicted the end of the world will occur, we’ll look back at the year 2012, analyze the fall out, and, hopefully, be around to tell about it on December 22. Until then, we can only speculate about the future.

There’s no reason to worry about 2012. We can only control what falls in our own sphere of influence, which for most people amounts to whatever affects us directly. What do you have planned for yourself this year? Have you considered making some life changes? I believe in making and achieving goals, and I consider New Year’s resolutions worthwhile. Realistic resolutions can help frame a goal and give you a specific objective to achieve. You may not achieve everything you set out to do in a given year, but if you achieve at least one resolution or make progress toward one, you’re better off than you were. I met half the resolutions I set for myself in 2011 and set some new targets to achieve in 2012. The ones I did not achieve will be carried over to this year. They range from publishing a new book to losing weight to strengthening my faith to learning the guitar. Some will be easier than others, but I resolve to tackle them all in the next 12 months.

Even if you’re not the type of person to make New Year’s resolutions, there’s one goal you can resolve to achieve this year. Make this year a better year than 2011. Make it the best it can be. It doesn’t matter if you had a good or bad year last year. Life can always be better. Resolve to make 2012 a great year.

What a beautiful day


Happy New Year!  Last night I stayed up long enough to witness the New Year, and then I headed for bed.  No big parties for me.  I watched a bit of TV, but otherwise I celebrated quietly.  This is the first year in ages that Dick Clark did not usher in the new year on ABC’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve”, a New Year’s staple.  Regis Philbin sat in for him.  The show was pretty much dedicated to Dick this year.  I only watched for about 10 minutes.  When I was young I remember faithfully watching the ABC, NBC and CBS New Year’s Eve TV celebrations every year.  Now I have very little interest in watching network television.  I must be getting old.  At 12:00 a.m. some people set off some firecrackers near our apartment building.  At first I wondered whether I heard gunfire (you never know in a big city!) but then I realized the calendar had turned to 2005 and people were celebrating outside.  Welcome to the New Year!

This break has done wonders for me.  Life slowed down tremendously during the time between Christmas and New Year.  I needed that.  Even though I went in to work to study Korean each day, it still felt like a vacation to me.  I was able to spend the day with my wife and son.  The weather was gorgeous.  It is January 1st, but today felt like mid-September just before fall hits.  It was clear and sunny but not cold at all.  I heard that it may have hit 60+ degrees today.  I’m glad…although I grew up in cold climates I don’t really like snow.  People do crazy things in the snow, and it makes life a lot more inconvenient.  I do enjoy winter sports like skiing, but as long as the snow stays in the mountains I’m happy.  Today we headed to the mall to do a little New Year’s shopping.  The mall was packed with shoppers.  We ate at a little hole-in-the-wall Philly-style Greek-Italian restaurant.  It was greasy but delicious.  I doubt we’ll have many of those in Korea.  American restaurants abound–so I hear–but there aren’t too many mom-and-pop American style restaurants in Seoul.  We’ll see.

The break is over soon, and I am sad.  I really enjoy having time to work and study and play at my leisure.  On Monday the grind will start again.

Happy New Year


Happy New Year, dear reader!  2004 has been quite a year for us.  It started in the Seattle area, where I was working for a local accounting firm as an IT consultant.  It ended in the Washington, D.C. area working for the Foreign Service, studying the Korean language in anticipation of our departure to Korea.  Although the tsunamis put a huge damper on this year’s festivities worldwide, life is good in our home.  I am very thankful for the changes in our life and the unique opportunity we have to travel and work overseas.

Have you made a New Year’s resolution?  I usually make a few, but this year I haven’t thought about it much.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been too busy.  If I were to make some resolutions, they would have to be as follows:

  1. Finish Korean language class with an adequate testing score
  2. Arrive in Seoul safely
  3. Take a real vacation

Weight is always something to watch, but fortunately I don’t have to check off a lot of the typical New Year’s resolutions.  The three goals listed above are definitely achievable.  I feel a lot better about learning Korean now.  It will always be an uphill battle for me, though.  I’ll know soon whether we make it to Korea safely without event.  Hopefully the worst that will happen is dealing with a fussy child on a trans-Pacific flight.  The third may not happen anytime soon because I first need to adjust to working in Seoul, get through my job’s busy season, and prepare for the upcoming APEC Conference in late 2005.  If the APEC Conference in Seoul is anything like it was in Chile this year, it should be interesting.  I’m sure that President Bush won’t have to pull his security guard into meetings like he did in Santiago.  We may not be able to go on an extended vacation until next November or December.  I have plenty of vacation saved up already.

I hope you had a wonderful 2004.  Please pray for the safety and restoration of those affected by the tsunamis in Asia and Africa.  Let’s hope that 2005 is better than 2004 for everyone.