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Archive for May, 2008

Death of a Grandfather

This will be a personal post. My beloved grandfather, Paul Dhas, passed away on 10 May, 2008. The most unfortunate part of the situation being the fact that I have not seen him in 3 years and was not be able to make it back to India for the funeral. This is one of the first family deaths that affected me this deeply.

His influence remains sprinkled throughout many aspects of my life. From an early age I enjoyed taking care of animals he had (cows, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, mongoose, and more). His love for animals drove me to obtain my Bachelor’s in Zoology. Besides this, his influence in how I live my life can’t be explained in words.

I am currently at my parent’s house and this has provided me with some closure into the whole situation. I will get back to writing more since I am at a better place now.

5/18/08 – 4 miles in 36:50

5/19/08 – 4 miles in 35:00

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3 May 2008: A terrifyingly severe cyclone makes landfall into the impoverished nation of Burma (Myanmar). Dubbed “Asia’s Hurricane Katrina,” Cyclone Nargis produces 215 km/h winds (135 m/h equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane). Initially forecasted to strike Bangladesh (somewhat protected by the mangrove forest) or Burma’s mountainous northwest, Cyclone Nargis became one of Asia’s deadliest storms by hitting land in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta in central Burma and setting off a storm surge that reached 25 miles inland (the picture on the right shows the delta before and after the storm).

Picking and choosing what aid to allow into Burma, the military junta that runs the country should face immense scrutiny. The true degree of devastation unknown, over the course of a week we have watched the death toll rise from 4,000 to over 22,000 with foreign observers saying 100,000 may have perished.

With much needed aid being blocked off by the government, the military leaders appear to be putting their pride and entrenched suspicion of foreigners before the lives of their people. As sad as it may sound, natural disasters often offer a chance for people to witness how great humanity can be with so many willing to help… This sad situation shows that the world cares, but the government in Burma doesn’t. With the number of corpses rising, help HAS to be accepted soon or the rate of disease will grow rampant. I sincerely hope the situation improves.

Without direct access, the only way for me to help the relief effort is monetarily. I have done so through google to Unicef. I hope everyone else does the same.

5/07/08 – 4 miles in 37:06

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A truly amazing concept, a panoramic view of cultural diversity from a diet standpoint. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats dives into the dietary habits of a spectrum of families from different countries featuring pictures of each family behind 1 weeks worth of food. The artists behind this novel concept, photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio, visited some 30 families in 24 countries.

This post does not contain all of the families featured in the book but does show large portion. Some things worth noting include the horrific packaging of foods in developed nations. One quickly sees why the industrialized nations produce so much trash. Other visible facts includes the lack of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other produce in the US families. The reality being the cost and convenience of being able to store prepackaged foods for a long period of time while having foods that are quick to prepare.

I hope everyone examines these pictures and takes something from it.

Japan: The Ukita family of Kodaira City

Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25
Favorite foods: sashimi, fruit, cake, potato chips

Great Britain: The Bainton family of Cllingbourne Ducis

Food expenditure for one week: 155.54 British Pounds or $253.15
Favorite foods: avocado, mayonnaise sandwich, prawn cocktail, chocolate fudge cake with cream

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily

Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11
Favorite foods: fish, pasta with ragu, hot dogs, frozen fish sticks

United States: The Caven family of California

Food expenditure for one week: $159.18
Favorite foods: beef stew, berry yogurt sundae, clam chowder, ice cream

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp

Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23
Favorite foods: soup with fresh sheep meat

Kuwait: The Al Haggan family of Kuwait City

Food expenditure for one week: 63.63 dinar or $221.45 Family recipe: Chicken biryani with basmati rice

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina

Food expenditure for one week: $341.98
Favorite foods: spaghetti, potatoes, sesame chicken

Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca

Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09
Favorite foods: pizza, crab, pasta, chicken

China: The Dong family of Beijing

Food expenditure for one week: 1,233.76 Yuan or $155.06
Favorite foods: fried shredded pork with sweet and sour sauce

Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo

Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53
Family recipe: Okra and mutton

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo

Food expenditure for one week: $31.55
Family recipe: Potato soup with cabbage

Mongolia: The Batsuuri family of Ulaanbaatar

Food expenditure for one week: 41,985.85 togrogs or $40.02
Family recipe: Mutton dumplings

Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village

Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03
Family recipe: Mushroom, cheese and pork

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide

Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07
Favorite foods: fried potatoes with onions, bacon and herring, fried noodles with eggs and cheese, pizza, vanilla pudding

Guatemala: The Mendozas of Todos Santos

Food expenditure for one week: 573 Quetzales or $75.70
Family Recipe: Turkey Stew and Susana Perez Matias’s Sheep Soup

India: The Patkars of Ujjain

Food expenditure for one week: 1,636.25 rupees or $39.27
Family Recipe: Sangeeta Patkar’s Poha (Rice Flakes)

United States: The Fernandezes of Texas

Food expenditure for one week: $242.48
Favorite Foods: Shrimp with Alfredo sauce, chicken mole, barbecue ribs, pizza

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It’s quite easy to complain about the drastic increase in gas prices. Looking at straight facts, the US remains a cheap location to fill up. Out of 155 countries surveyed, U.S. gas prices were the 45th cheapest, according to a recent study from AIRINC, a research firm that tracks cost of living data. The data below shows the findings from the firm.

Most expensive places to buy gas

Rank Country Price/gal
1. Bosnia-Herzegovina $10.86
2. Eritrea $9.58
3. Norway $8.73
4. United Kingdom $8.38
5. Netherlands $8.37
6. Monaco $8.31
7. Iceland $8.28
8. Belgium $8.22
9. France $8.07
10. Germany $7.86
111. United States $3.45

Cheapest Oil Prices

Rank Country Price/gal
1. Venezuela 12 cents
2. Iran 40 cents
3. Saudi Arabia 45 cents
4. Libya 50 cents
5. Swaziland 54 cents
6. Qatar 73 cents
7. Bahrain 81 cents
8. Egypt 89 cents
9. Kuwait 90 cents
10. Seychelles 98 cents
45. United States $3.48



Hidden data not strictly in the numbers above is what each government does with extra revenue received from gas taxes. For example, most of the European countries (with astronomical gas prices) use the revenue from taxes to fund improvements in public transportation. These improvements along with the high price of gas breeds a culture content with using public transportation for all needs.

The former EXTREMELY low price of gasoline in the US led to the purchases of automobiles into virtually every household. On a per capita basis, Americans use three times more oil than Europeans. With the recent increase in prices, people feel the crunch but remain committed in their love affair with cars.

Americans must accept the consequences of overconsumption and learn to adapt. Improvements will come with slight changes to our way of life. Making concerted efforts to reduce gasoline consumption by walking, carpooling, and using public transportation can reduce the price of gas, help the environment, and increase fitness. Accept responsibility, make some changes and let’s improve our world.

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