Manual of Life - Alternative Definitions

When people in a northern country can walk around the house with no socks on, without having to keep the heating on.

See related:
False dawn


Manual of Life - Alternative Definitions

Made for each other

A couple that simultaneously bursts into tears at the end of this montage.
Every single time.

See related:
Muggins (sl.)


Manual of Life - Things You Didn't Realise Till You Did #74

The first line still holds true.

So, another leisurely meal, another arbitrary thought. Try this one on for size -

There is no original Western European or American first-name that begins with 'Z'. All of them are predominantly Middle Eastern in origin, with some East Asian ones thrown in for flavour.

Go on, think about it.

Most of the first-names that you can think of come from the belt of land that stretches from Greece to Afghanistan (on a longitudinal basis), and from the languages that originated therein (Arabic, Hebrew or Cyrillic). There are a few Chinese names that I can think of off-hand too, and I can't quite speak about names in the South Asian countries, but the chunk seems to be Middle-Eastern/Central Asian in origin.


On the other hand, there are tons of first names in Western Europe and America that begin with the letter 'C', but none in that West Asia/Middle Asia belt (excluding the East).


All those history lessons about the many invasions of India from the armies of Central Asia suddenly make so much sense. Even a quintessentially Gujurati name like Zaveri has its roots in those incursions.

Update: We have the odd-one-out (thanks be to the wise FĂ«anor) - Basque. In my defence, the language is denoted as an 'isolate', so it really doesn't bear much in common to its neighbours. Still, a valid exception.


Manual of Life - Things You Didn't Realise Till You Did # 39

Cricket is the only non-table-related professional sport* in which the players wear (full-length) pants/trousers.

It goes against the very grain of why all other sports wear shorts - mainly, that one's movement is less restricted, one's skin can breath properly, and in many cases, it is more aerodynamic.

So why is it so? It surely can't be about sunburn, because there are solutions for that. It can't possibly be about the worry that scrapes endured while fielding might get infected, because have you seen how they play rugby?

And even if you argue that a batsman is better off wearing trousers so that the pads don't chafe and get a better grip, why in heck must the fielding side endure hot days wearing these horribly restrictive leggings?

Unless, it's merely about the 'gentleman's game' aspect of cricket. But hey, even tennis was like that, and see how it's evolved.

So. What gives?


The exception to this rule seems to be American sports. Baseball. American football. Also, other 'gentleperson' sports. Golf. And equestrian events (as Feanor pointed out).

NightWatchmen from the comments gives perhaps the best defence - while shorts may help in summer and warm countries, you wouldn't want to be standing around in the outfield at Manchester during the English 'summer' wearing shorts.

* Which excludes billiards and snooker. And chess. And no, leotards do not count. And we're discounting sports where pant-type garments are worn purely for protection, such as motorsports or ice-hockey.


Pet Peeves #43

"Ok, so write me".

Yah. Just like you want me to "sing you"? And "call out you"? And "post that letter you"? And "hand that mug you"?

Stupid American English.

PS. Even if you go with the "if you can 'call me', why not 'write me'" argument, there's no excuse for the sentence, "I wrote you". What am I, some frikkin' imaginary character in a book you're drafting? Oh yeah? Well, come see the pretty lines on my knuckles. No, no, a little closer...

Friday Fun: Fact/Fiction

(This may or may not be true)

I love seeing how people react to different situations.

To this end, once while in college, I painted my two littlest toe-nails a lovely pink colour, and walked about wearing floaters.

It took four minutes before the first person on the road spotted it, but it took three days before any of my friends did.

Draw your own conclusions.


"This is how it works
You peer inside yourself,
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took;

And then you take that love you made
and stick it into some...
someone else's heart,
Pumping someone else's blood;

And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed,
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again"

- Regina Spektor, On the Radio


Manual of Life - Alternative Definitions

Guilty Pleasure

Walking into a store full of delicate and glinting things, wondering over their frailness for a while, before yelling 'I can't take it anymore!' and sweeping a whole shelf full of the oh-soooo-breakable things onto the floor with an exaggerated flourish, and then rampaging some more across the store, all the while savouring the horrified looks on the people around you

....and then disarming the outraged employees/store owner by producing the exact amount of money they cost, which you had been saving up for months just for such an occasion.

See also:
Candid camera pranks

If you are going to do this, please don't pick a small, independent store which has taken great care to craft the things. That's just mean. Pick a nice public store-chain, at peak hour, and select their most ugly products.


Friday Fun: Food Fiesta

We're back by popular demand!

And to start off with, a simple soup. Because it feels like winter will never end here. And because I've been lazy with experimenting. And you can't go wrong with soup.

This does take longer than most of the previous dishes, but a large part of that doesn't involve you doing much.


Onion-and-Couscous Soup

Time required:
About 45 minutes.

Keep ready (to serve 2 people):
Butter & oil, both 1 tbsp
Garlic, 1 plump* clove, crushed
Onion, 1-2 large ones, finely sliced
Coriander, cumin & turmeric powder
Tomato paste, 1 tsbp
Birds-eye chili, just the one, deseeded and finely chopped
Cinnamon, one medium stick
Stock, vegetable or chicken, 1 litre
Couscous**, a fifth to a quarter of a cup
Spring onions, handful, chopped
Coriander leaves, handful
Salt & pepper, to taste

On a medium-low heat, brown (but do not burn) the onions and garlic in the butter and oil, stirring occasionally. Depending on the type of hob you use, this should take about 10-15 minutes. It has to go a nice deep brown.

Turn the heat down, then add the spices, the chilli, the cinnamon, and the tomato paste and stir for about five minutes, so that the spices really release their essence. Add the stock, boil, then nearly-fully cover it and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

Then add the couscous and spring onions and let simmer for another five minutes. Season. Garnish with coriander.

Serve with toasted, buttered pitta bread.

Why you should try this:
It's a cold evening. Your friends and family are making snide remarks about the inbuilt shock absorbers you're adding to your body. You cannot stand the thought of another greasy meal from outside, or another sandwich (heathen!), or anything heavy that will make you feel like a ship's anchor. And you're unsociable enough not to care about what your breath smells like.

This is the dish for you.

It's just heavy enough to fill you up, without making you waddle around the house. It's just spicy enough to kick your nerves awake without roasting them where they lie. And it doesn't need you to shop for more than four things (you do have some spices at home, right?).

Personally, I just love the oily effect of onions and butter on the surface of this soup. And I love couscous.

1. You could try this with red onions, but they tend not to go so brown.

2. You could make this a more filling dish by adding strips of cooked chicken to it. Not shellfish though, doesn't go as well.

3. If you want to make this really filling, add a couple of potatoes to it. Dice them, and add them along with the spices.

* plump. plumpityplumpityplump. plump plomp plooomp. plimp plomp. plump plump pi plump.
** I realise that couscous can be hard to source in some places. Why this should be so is one of life's unfairnesseseseses (or something). So, if you can't get hold of some, use pearl barley instead.


Manual of Life - Ways to Keep Yourself Entertained #21

1. Take 10 steel pins. Or 20, if you are particularly bored.

2. Squeeze the top third of the index finger of one hand between the thumb and middle finger (of the same hand), so that the fleshy underside bulges out.

3. Carefully insert one pin through the outermost part of that bulge so that it just pierces the skin, but not the flesh.

4. Slide the pin through, so that equal parts of it are visible on either side of the flap of skin (which is holding the pin in place), so that it looks as if you've stuck the pin through your finger.

5. Repeat for all the other fingers, and thumbs.

6. Go waving it about and freak everybody out/become a demi-god in the eyes of children.

7. The toes come next, if you're very bored.