Archive for May, 2013


Word hungry

Word hungry – The Hindu.

Anu Garg’s Wordsmith.org is a community of more than a quarter million subscribers in about 170 countries.

He sends out a simple email every day, A.Word.A.Day, containing a word, its definition and etymology, and an example of its current contextual usage; this to more than a quarter million subscribers in about 170 countries. And he has been doing it since 1994.

Add the fact that this is an immigrant whose first language is not English, a man who has had no “English connection” till high school. Anu Garg is a man with a mission. This Seattle-settled Master in Computer Science, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, went out west two decades ago like any other techie. But eventually the love of words took over and he left corporate life to work full-time on spreading the joy of words. Wordsmith.org was born of this love, with a mission to spread the magic of words and completes 19 years of service to the “wordaholics” this month.

Garg says there is no single incident which triggered this mission of words. “For as long as I can recall, I enjoyed reading. I literally read books from cover to cover. Then I started wondering where words come from. Who made them up? Who said that that opening in a wall was to be called a window? Then I discovered that each word comes with a biography. These words have fascinating stories to tell, if only we take the time to listen. For example, the word window comes from Old Norse in which it meant wind’s eye. How much more poetic can you get?”

Garg says one of the best things about running Wordsmith.org is hearing back from readers. They share their stories about words: anecdotes from childhood, workplace, and beyond, of how words touch everyone, regardless of what we do or where we live. He cherishes this note from a disabled reader: “I am a fully disabled priest stuck out in the swamps about 35 miles north of Savannah, Georgia. A horrible radiation accident many years ago started taking its toll in the early 1980s. Of the two curses, pain and boredom, the latter is the heavier cross. Services such as yours are invaluable to me. Mind challenged, I am sometimes able to go to a nursing home and do services for the residents. You will help in this effort. A mind fallow becomes overgrown with the weeds of confusion and forgetfulness.”

The very first word Garg put up was zephyr, meaning a breeze from the west, but Garg says he had no reason for choosing that word. In fact he has no method for choosing a word at all and likes to think words choose him. “They raise their hands and say, ‘Pick me! Pick me! Write about me and share me with the world.’ Whenever I come across an unusual word in my reading a book, magazine, or newspaper, I make a note of it. Sometimes I actively look in the dictionaries for words that match interesting patterns. For example, Facetious is a word with all five vowels, once and only once, and in order.”

   The approach to words is playful rather than academic. “I like to have people see words come alive. They are born, they change with time, and sometimes they die too. That’s not to say that it’s not educational. We have a fair number of students who subscribe to AWAD.” His subscribers are from all walks of life, from accountants to zookeepers, writers to editors, engineers to professors, and many others, all people who share a joy of words.

Words are like colours on a palette, he says. “You don’t have to use all those colours in a painting, but it helps to be able to find just the right shade when you need it.”

Words perhaps work the same way. The right words help us to portray our thoughts and ideas just as we have them in our mind. Most of us don’t want to use an unusual word just for the sake of using it but if it fits, why not use it? And if you think you don’t know any, then it’s time to subscribe to wordsmith.org.

Boot up your health – The Hindu.

Excessive use of computers can lead to major damage of the body, sometimes beyond repair.

Prolonged working hours, wrong sitting posture and constant keyboard use leads not only to strain in the eyes but also to severe nerve and bone injuries. Motion is the lotion for the joints. Movement and activity circulate joint fluid and promotes cartilage health and bone strength. Sitting for more than four hours daily combined with poor posture can lead to degenerative joints, which affects knees, hips and spine.

One of the major nerve injuries caused due to excessive computer use is repetitive strain injury (a stressed limb caused by a repeated movement done the wrong way). One example is pain in the wrist because of excess keyboard use. Tendinitis and Carpal tunnel syndrome are other major problems caused by excessive strain on the nerves.

While using a desktop, make sure that the wrist is kept straight while typing as bending narrows the space available for the tendon and nerves and puts pressure on them. The elbow should be positioned at approximately 90°.

Cradling the phone to one’s ear while typing also contributes to neck and shoulder pain.

The furniture should be based on ergonomic design. That means the chair’s back rest should end above shoulder level. Also, the chair should have the facility to adjust height and lumbar support too. An unsuitable chair also contributes to poor posture, such as slouching that puts pressure on the spine.

The height of the chair should allow one to rest the feet on the floor with knees bent at a 90° degree angle. While typing, arms should also bend at 90°. While resting the back the angle should be at 110° and slightly tilted back.

Prolonged use of computers can also cause strain, fatigue, irritation in the eyes and blurred vision. These symptoms are collectively called Computer Vision Syndrome. 

There are some simple steps to avoid this problem. Blink frequently to keep the eyes hydrated as constant staring at the screen can lead to severe dryness. Besides, keep eyes closed for 5-10 minutes every one hour to reinforce the tear film. Reducing the glare of the monitor also helps. Make sure you do not sit too close to the computer.

Moreover, working with a light screen background with dark typefaces is easiest on the eyes. It is great to take breaks by looking away from the screen for ten seconds and standing up every half an hour to do other work while giving the eyes a rest.

Quick tips

Keep the wrist straight while typing and the elbow at a 90° angle.

Don’t cradle the phone on one shoulder while typing.

Sit up straight while working; don’t slouch or lean forward too long.

Blink frequently to prevent dryness in the eye.

Close your eyes for at least 5 minutes every hour.

Look away from the screen every 10 seconds to give your eyes a break.

Related articles

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose - Gertrude Stein

In front of him on the architect’s drawing table was a large sketchpad with rough designs for what would soon be the rose garden. It was one of his pet projects and so far he had given Jamie no hint of what he was planning. As far as he was concerned, roses would get top billing and he was spending a disproportionate amount of time making sure that both his design and his selection of shrub varieties, climbers and ramblers were impeccable. He wanted it to come as a complete surprise.

Just when he first became infatuated with roses, he couldn’t remember. Much as with one’s taste in art, music and other pleasures mature, what had started as an amusing dalliance had developed over many years to become a passionate love affair. In this respect, he was certainly in good company that much he knew. He had lectured on the subject so many times that he could still rattle much of it off by rote.

 

              The names of writers, poets and artists who have commemorated and eulogized the rose would fill volumes. Starting with Sappho, Horace and Virgil, the rose weaves its literary way through the centuries in the prose of Shakespeare, Herrick, Wordsworth, Yeats and the Brownings. To this day books about roses appear and will continue to appear on bookshop shelves with predictable certainty. In the history of art the rose reigns supreme . Botticelli, Manet, de La Tour, Georgia O Keefe were all enthralled by the queen of flowers.Botanists, plant biologists and historians general ly agree that roses were cultivated five thousand years ago. (Fossil evidence in North America suggests that roses flourished at least thirty-two million years ago.) Over the centuries they bloomed in the land of the Pharaohs and were cultivated in Bronze Age Crete; Grecian coins of the fifth century BC depict a rose on one side. Roses just kept growing and growing in the plots and hearts of gardeners all over the globe. By the end of the eighteenth century there were more than a thousand varieties.

Today’s would-be rose aficionado is faced with a dazzling choice of old and new hybrids. Take your pick: from chaste whites and negligee pinks all the way to peppery and damson reds. Blooms the size of a fingernail or as large as a pie plate. Many voluptuously perfumed, most bristling with thorns.Miniature, ground cover, shrub, landscape, patio,standard, climber, rambler there’s a shape and size for every space.

   Next the neophyte rose buyer has to decide what species or variety to choose. Navigating the thicket of options is a bewildering exercise, one that requires considerable study and deliberation, professional help or a sharp pin.

      Four basic groups define the genus: species roses, antique roses, early nineteenth-century hybrids, and modern roses. With in each of the first three groups there are up to as many as two dozen different families of rose, and within those families, more roses. In the last group, modern roses, the division is enormous, resulting in many thousands of varieties.Kingston had spent several weeks ruminating over his choice of roses for Wickersham. There was no shortage of space for planting so the starting list was lengthy. Winnowing down the candidates had been both a trial and a pleasure. Adding names and crossing them off conjured memories of garden visits past. He could picture the lovely single Gallica,Complicata,threading its joyful way up through the branches of the old apple tree at Graham Stuart Thomas’s rose garden at Mottisfont Abbey and the exuberant Rosa felipes ‘Kiftsgate zooming fifty feet into the copper beech at the charming Gloucestershire garden after which it was named.The few pictures they had of the original rose garden at Wickersham all showed a typical layout. Orderly beds, some surrounded with low clipped box hedges, filled with nothing but regimented rows of roses. Kingston abhorred this kind of municipal garden look, judging the practice barely one step above the use of multicoloured bedding plants designed to replicate the Union Jack or the city name.

shastas-touch-of-beauty: 

        cute brkfast setting….luvit

The new rose garden at Wickersham would be one of the few areas that didn’t mirror its predecessor . Roses would be mixed in with shrubs, perennials and other plants, allowing them to show off their individuality and form, a technique now in common practice as exemplified at the garden at Sissinghurst. He was, however, going to make one small concession, in recognition of Britainâ’s celebrated rose hybridizer, David Austin, who created an entirely new category of roses known worldwide as English Roses. In any gardener’s dreams, the perfect rose would combine beauty of form, subtlety of colour, irresistible fragrance, resistance to disease and, above all, the ability to flower repeatedly.Such are the roses of David Austin. And Kingston was going to showcase them.                              

dyingofcute:fairy

‘So when did this English obsession for gardening all begin,’ she asked. It was an innocent enough question but she wasn’t to know that it would take Kingston at least ten minutes to answer.

‘First of all, Jamie,’ he said, ‘you have to realize that throughout civilization, the garden has always played an important role as a natural and often significant extension to the house.’ He took a brief pause, resting his knife and fork beside his plate, then continued. ‘For example, I’ve seen Egyptian tomb paintings of 1400 BC that depict a detailed garden plan with placement of trees, vegetation, papyrus fringed pool and an imposing entry gate reached by a canal used to irrigate and fill the pools. Quite extraordinary. ’

He took his time cutting into the pink filet steak, savoring and swallowing a slice, then washing it down with a healthy gulp of wine. ‘You know,’he said, looking at Jamie, who, up until now hadn’t murmured a word, ‘Roman Senator Pliny’s letters describe in considerable depth, the garden at his two country villas near Rome.’

Another two minutes or so went by before Jamie interrupted Kingston’s discursive lesson on garden history.

‘But what about English gardens?’ she asked.

Garden in Chenonceau Castle - Chenonceaux, Centre

Garden in Chenonceau Castle – Chenonceaux, Centre

‘Sorry, I got a little carried away there. Let’s see … well, going back four hundred years, English gardens pretty much followed the vogue of European formality, particularly the French.’ He looked up to the ceiling. ‘Ah, yes, the French—it’s as if they were born with a mandate to prove their mastery over nature by cutting, clipping and pruning everything in sight. If you’ve seen the big chateaux like Versailles and Chenonceau you’ll know the look: symmetrical lines, clipped and regimented trees, straight alleys, parterres and topiaries, that sort of thing.’ He paused to dab a napkin to his mouth before going on. ‘Then, around the middle of the eighteenth century, a new gardening style emerged in England. A relatively unknown Northumberland gardener with the rather lofty name, Lancelot “Capability” Brown, was about to change the face of the country with grander and much more permanent schemes. He widened rivers, created lakes, moved earth to change the contours of the parkland and undertook massive plantings of trees. Little or no attention was paid to flowers.’

https://i2.wp.com/www.eriding.net/images/capability_garden.jpg

‘This new style of gardening on a grand scale was called “English landscape” or “natural style” and one by one the large country houses like Hatfield, Blenheim and Studley Royal abandoned their formal gardens and adopted this new approach to garden design. I read of one estate that planted 100,000 trees, mainly oak.’

‘My God, that’s a whole forest,’said Jamie.

Kingston smiled and plowed on. ‘Anyway, by now just about every kind of style had been tried in gardens known to civilization, and it wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century before any significant changes in English garden design or philosophy started to emerge. By the time Victoria assumed the throne in 1837, a steady succession of plant hunters, starting with Sir Joseph Banks in 1768, had been setting out from England, scouring remote parts of the globe, bringing back with them shiploads of new plants and trees. This changed everything. These men literally risked their lives and endured all kinds of danger and hardships simply in order to bring back seeds and plants. Their exploits—believe me, Jamie—make Indiana Jones look like an amateur. On one trip alone, the Scotsman George Forrest brought back over three hundred new species of rhododendron from China. Nurseries were soon overflowing with these new selections and, as you can imagine, gardeners were more than eager to try them. As the quantity of plants, shrubs and trees grew exponentially, two distinctly different styles of gardening were in the making.’

Kingston waited while Jamie topped up his wine glass. He took this as a sign that she wasn’t going to doze off quite yet and that the lubrication was meant as encouragement for him to go on.

flowersgardenlove:backyard delight

‘Towards the end of the nineteenth century,’ he said, in a professorial tone, ‘a veritable battle was taking place between two English gardeners. One was author William Robinson, the other, the architect Reginald Blomfield. Their divergent views were easy to distill. The cantankerous Robinson insisted that only the gardener, with his knowledge of horticulture could decide on the layout of a garden. The opinionated Blomfield insisted it must be the architect’s province since only he knew anything about design. Robinson championed the idea of “natural” garden design with hardy rather than tender plants used in the scheme. Drawing much of his inspiration from the simple cottage-style gardens of the time, he became a fervent crusader of natural gardening, writing books and periodicals, encouraging readers to grow old-fashioned hardy plants in the same manner as the cottagers. His book, The English Flower Garden, first published in 1883 went into fifteen editions in his lifetime.’

Anyway, by the end of the nineteenth century most English gardens—with the exception of cottage gardens, of course—were starting to reflect the trend to a formal style of gardening. As is the case here at Wickersham, you’ll find most of today’s preeminent gardens use architecture in its varying forms: stone and brick walls, stairs and archways; pergolas, water features, gates, fountains, sundials, statuary, manicured lawns, clipped yew hedging forming compartments and boundaries, wide grass walks with paved footpaths and plantings, all of which are the result of careful planning and design. I’ll quote Blomfield, who may get the last word, since the designs of most gardens nowadays are essentially based on his precept that horticulture stands to garden design much as building does to architecture; the two are connected but very far from being identical. He said “The designer whether professional or amateur, should lay down the main lines and deal with the garden as a whole, but the execution, such as the best method of forming the beds, laying turf, planting trees and pruning hedges, should be left to the gardener, whose proper business it is.”

After a moment silence of silence, Kingston spoke again. ‘I’m curious, have you always been interested in gardening or is it a more recent thing, as it were?’

Jamie brushed a strand of hair from her forehead. ‘To be honest, mostly since inheriting this place. I mean I’ve always enjoyed gardens and the little bit of gardening I’ve done but I have to confess, up until now, I’ve been one of those self-indulgent people who like gardens solely for the pleasure they give. It’s not that I don’t like plants and flowers, the nitty-gritty, the hands in the dirt thing, the Latin names, it’s just that I prefer the sensory aspect of gardens, as a means of escape, for the serenity, as a quiet and beautiful place for contemplation.’

dyingofcute:lovely outdoor spot if you’re not going on vacations

‘You’ll have a wonderful time over here then. There’s no end of extraordinary gardens to see. Quite a few in this neck of the woods, too.’ He looked up at the ceiling moulding. ‘Let’s see, Hestercombe is close by and there’s a lovely small garden at Tintinhull. Then there’s Hadspen House—as I recall, the gardeners there are Canadian. Barrington Court, East Lambrook Manor. You could spend all summer doing nothing but visit gardens, Jamie.’

dyingofcute:exclusive garden

sitaaram:PhotosDay! on We Heart It. http://weheartit.com/entry/7189718