28 September 2017

Presidential Trivia

To distract all my USA FB friends voicing their strong opinions for or against our current President’s tweets/statements on NFL players “taking the knee” (ha ha), here are some Presidential trivia questions. Hope both sides of the debate can work together to find the answers….

1. I was stunned to find out recently who our first President to have been born in a hospital was. Want to take a guess?

2. George Washington, of course, was our first President. Did you know that in both his terms, he was voted unanimously to be the President? Not a single electoral college of any party voted against him. Here is the question – which party did he represent in those two elections?

3. Kennedy, as we know was the youngest person to have been elected President. (Technically, Teddy Roosevelt became President when he was younger than Kennedy but that was not thru an election – previous President was assassinated). How about the oldest President to have been elected?

4. There has been only one President in the history of US who was a confirmed bachelor. Who was it?

5. On the other hand, there was another bachelor who was elected the President. And he married his sweetheart in White House while he was the President. In fact, even had his daughter born in the White House. Who was it?

6. We know many Presidents who have held the position multiple times. Almost always consecutively. (Of course, after Franklin Roosevelt’s 12 years of Presidency, there was a law promulgated that put a cap to 2 terms only). In fact, in the recent past, Obama, George W, Bill Clinton have been all 2 term presidents. There has been only one President who had 2 terms but not consecutively. He won, then lost a rebid and then won again the next time. Making him the only President who has 2 separate numbers for himself(like George HW Bush was 41 and his son was 43…). Who was it?

7. We have all heard about the crazy schedule of Presidents. President Obama, for example, wore the same color shirt and trousers to avoid wasting time in the morning in selecting clothes. On the other hand, there was a President that woke up every morning at 5AM only to practice piano for 2 long hours!! Who was it?

8. Being a President and being the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are two of the highest positions in US (in fact they are the highest positions in two of the three branches – Executive, Legislative and Judiciary wings). There was one President that has the distinction of being both (of course – at different times). Do you know who it is?

9. A sitting President was once pulled over and arrested for going too fast (eventually fined too). Who was it? I will give you a hint – he was crossing the speed limit while riding a horse!!

10. There was one fortunate President who survived two consecutive attempts to assassinate him within a space of 17 days – and I say fortunate since he survived both attempts. Here is the crazy thing. Both were attempted by women. In fact, those were the only instances of a woman ever attempting to assassinate a sitting US President. Who was that President?

Bonus question:
By most accounts, Anne Royall was the first female journalist of this country. She had tried, for months, to score the first ever woman conducted interview of a US President. The President just would have nothing if it. Anne came up with a devious plan. She had found out that the President regularly swam in the Potomac early mornings. In the nude!!! So, she simply snuck up on him one morning while he was in the river, gathered all his clothes and sat on them till he would agree to an interview! Who was that hapless President (no doubt he would consider himself lucky to be in the pre-selfie era 🙂 )

28 September 2017

From the bartender’s corner: Gin #21 – Filliers Dry Gin 28

This is a gin from Belgium. In fact, the distillers – Filliers – originally were farmers who diversified into distilling genever (he original grandfather of modern day gin) back in the 1800s. It was in 1928 that they moved to making gin.

The gin has 28 different botanicals and herbs (thus the number in the name). Most of the ingredients are kept secret. However, they do let you know that other than the standard botanicals like juniper and cardamoms and such, they have Belgian hops and Belgian Angelica roots while the allspice is sourced from Jamaica and the oranges are sourced from Spain.

Overall, very enjoyable gin. I liked it neat better than with tonic water. Although at 92 proof, the tonic water will not drown your Filliers. The nose is distinctly citrusy (you cannot escape the effect of oranges). The palette is more creamy and orange-y (which is what Iiked). There is the slight bitter after taste from the hops and finally the finish has the distinct juniper breath. Very smooth.

26 September 2017

More fun with words!! “nym”s

This time it is about some uncommon but very interesting words that end with “nym”. I am sure, you remember “synonym”, “antonym”, “acronym”, “homonym” and so on from your middle school days. These are a little more esoteric.

See how many of these you know without looking up the internet. Write down the number in the comment section of the post. Then see if you can find the answers to the ones you missed by using Google. If you could not find them – or were particularly lazy, come back to this post for the answers tomorrow.

Remember … each word will end with “nym”.

1. Some places are called by different names by people who live there versus people who do not. For example, most non-Germans will call the country Germans live in as “Germany”. Except Germans who live in Germany usually refer to it as Deutschland. Similarly, India and Bharat. I think Japan and Nippon will be the same way. What are such pair of words called?

2. Continuing with the theme of places, often certain words are derived from names of places. Usually where they originate from e.g. champagne (from district of Champagne in France) or spa (from Spa in Belgium). What are such words called?

3. Remember homonyms? Two words with different spellings but same pronunciations and of course very different meanings. e.g. buy and bye. But what about the opposite? Same spelling but different pronunciations? (and of course different meanings). e.g. “lead” (lead a team) and “lead” (lead in a pencil). What are such words called?

4. Sometimes a word is used not to mean the exact literal meaning of it but of something very closely associated with it. e.g. The “gun” in “a hired gun” is not really referring to the gun itself so much as the person paid to use the gun to kill somebody. Or the “bottle” in “He had one too many bottle last evening” is really referring to the alcohol that was there in the bottle – not the bottle itself. Get it? What are such words called?

5. A word can change its meaning – and often the pronunciation – if its first letter is capitalized. Think “August” and “august” or “turkey” and “Turkey”. What are such words called?

Have fun…

25 September 2017

The human spirit can be amazing…

This morning, I went to spend some time with my patient friends in a hospice center. I had finished with my first friend and then went to the other side of the building to spend some time with another friend. After gently knocking at the door, I entered and found Mr. Ernest (name changed to protect privacy) was laying down in his lounge chair watching TV.

“This is Roy. Do you remember me?”, I asked.
“Of course, I do”, he replied somewhat haltingly.

I am clearly new to this. As it is, walking into a hospice is not exactly for the weak of the heart. And then I have just gotten to know these patients. I am constantly worried and nervous about whether they will understand my accent, how to interact with them and all that.

To break the ice, I asked “Can I start today by getting you something?”
“Sure”, he said.
Getting some confidence back in myself since he was asking for help from me, I asked “What can I get you, Mr. Ernest”.
“A fresh, new body!”

I was cleaning up some stuff on the table as I was having the conversation. I was not sure I heard right or understood what he meant. So, I turned towards him to see what he meant. And that is when I saw the glint in his eyes and the sly smile.

I laughed out so loud that the nurse came in from the corridor to check what the ruckus was all about. He was joking whether I could get him a new body. Turned out the whole morning he had been thinking about the days when he used to play golf in Hawaii and was longing to go out and play golf – just one last time. While the body was not willing (he cannot stand up on his feet), the spirit was undying.

Of course, his joke made the next one hour go by swimmingly.

Driving back from the center, I got lost in my thoughts. I marveled at Mr. Ernest’s ability to not fall in the trap of despondency or self-pity and instead keep up with his good humor and sharp wit.

When I grow up to be as young as him, that is the kind of human spirit I want to have.

23 September 2017

10K race at Vibha Dream Mile

Sharmila had signed up for this run and got me to sign up too. (BTW, she is also the person who got me into running in the first place back in 2005). Anyways, met a lot of friends who had come put in a run/walk and raise money for underprivileged children. One of the rare races where the three of us who used to run together – Amitesh, Samaresh and myself – almost ten years back showed up together again. Unfortunately, Amitesh had to get back to his tennis match after the 5K race. Never got a chance to take a picture with him. Samaresh and I – both put in 10K.

The course was very hilly. Over that distance of 10K, we climbed up about 50 floors according to my Fitbit. My time of around 53 minutes was good enough to get the second place in my age group.