Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Livermore temple trip

Going to Livermore's Shiva Vishnu temple (or any temple, for that matter) is an experience I usually look forward to. It allows me to temporarily get away from the regular hectic nature of life, de-stress, and rejuvenate myself. If I am feeling down or bad about something, a temple trip will help me become more positive.

With this mindset, I looked forward to today's temple trip, and I was not disappointed.

Today is no exception. I went for a Samskritam class, during which we practiced some shlokas - short prayers (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shloka for a far more complete definition of this term). The class will be holding a camp for the students (most of which are children), and I am looking forward to volunteering at this camp. While I have also been attending Samskritam classes (I try to attend in person about once a month), the camp is for the kids to showcase what they have learned and practiced from the classes. I am perfectly fine with being a part of the camp behind the scenes; in fact, I prefer doing that to actually performing on stage.

After the class, I visited the temple itself and prayed to the various deities. Among the various priests I regularly see working here, I saw a priest that my family knows and has a very nice relationship with. He has conducted some important family functions for us over the years, so he also knows and remembers us. I had a chance to pay my respects to him and ask how his family is doing. Afterwards, the lunch served in the community center behind the temple was great. The lunch included rice with cumin and peas, spicy garbanzo beans, a potato curry, yogurt rice, Indian chips, and a sweet. To sum up, the temple trip was great.

I am looking forward to attending this temple once again during the following Saturday, as that is when the Samskritam camp will be held.
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Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Mayan Civilization and its collapse

While I'm still on the subject of Mexico, I came across a news article discussing how/why the Mayan Civilization collapsed. As I mentioned in my prior post, I have an interest in the Mexican heritage/culture/history, and as such, this article, located at: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/02/24/collapse-mayan-civilization-traced-to-dry-spells/
caught my attention.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a historian, nor an expert in matters pertaining to Mexico. I'm writing about this solely out of my interest. If you know something to enlighten me on this subject, I would love to learn about it.

Droughts and collapse of the Mayan Civilization )
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Sunday, June 12th, 2011

US Fulbright Scholar demonstrating incredible mastery in Mandarin

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2011/06/13/305984/US-Fulbright.htm

For some reason, I've always had an interest in the Mandarin language. I only know a few key phrases but gradually add more to what I know. I still remember the time when I had first learned a few Mandarin phrases (hello, thank you, good-bye, etc) when visiting a very close friend's grandmother way back during my high school days. Learned some more over the years, just on the side for fun, and I am completely blown away by the mastery demonstrated by those competing in the Mandarin speech competition. In this competition, the topic was "Taiwan in One Word", and the winner was Dante Benson from the US. He focused his speech around his surname of  “Tan,” (譚), which has a variant meaning for 'to talk', depicting the behavior of those living in Taiwan (in that they talk in a friendly manner). What I find neat is that the contestants and winners are from various parts of the world. In fact, the director of RTI (Radio Taiwan International), Fan Hsiang-Lin, actually said: ' “the level of understanding, care and involvement these foreign nationals had for Taiwan” ' to be significantly more than those of several actual inhabitants/those native to Taiwan.

On a similar note, I've personally known a few people who are not of Chinese background but have demonstrated a significant interest in the language and culture. In fact, a friend of mine from college days, who is from the US and does not have a Chinese/Asian heritage (at least, not that I know of), studied Mandarin and Economics in undergrad, went onto pursue an MBA in International Business Economics, and has been living in China for the past several years. It really inspires me to continue to pursue learning the Mandarin language - over time, at least.
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