W. Kamau Bell + Aithal Books + Farm Vids + Podcast: Grow w Miss Bekah

Writing/Cleaning + Miss Bekah’s Growth/Change Happiness Between Tails

#SelfImprovement #Books #Fiction #Pets #Blogging Are there things in your life you’re working hard to change? Miss Bekah runs two blogs to help readers find their best selves and to follow a healthy vegan lifestyle. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic and guest 1:05 Writing/Cleaning + Miss Bekah's Growth/Change My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. Rebekah of MissBekah Productions Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Miss Bekah A photo by Miss Bekah. Book covers of books I reviewed. A photo of my dear doggie. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

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Ever feel like you’re swimming through molasses? Last week, I had a headachy cold that kept me up nights and too tired to write more than a little. Recording my audiobook had to wait until my voice wasn’t scratchy, drippy, and stuffy.

It was my first cold since the pandemic. How weird to think, “at least it wasn’t Covid again.” This week has been a trial to get back into the groove.

Fortunately Khashayar and I were well just barely in time to perform at our friend’s annual dance bash, the one where we all put on shows for each other. Neither of us had much energy to rehearse while we were sick, but we did our best with a couple of Argentine Tangos.

When one is laid out, thank goodness for audiobooks and TV!

The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian is his endearing and thoroughly personal account of what it’s like to strive to do good work and to be a good person. (btw, “blerd” = black nerd) He doesn’t pretend he’s never misstepped. Instead, he admits his mistakes, and then demonstrates how we can all change — if we want to. The gold is in keeping humble and open-hearted enough to learn from each other while courageously speaking against injustice. A few months ago, he also published Do the Work!: An Antiracist Activity Book, which includes stickers, coloring pages, and more!

Cover of The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell

On stuck-in-bed days, thank goodness for TV, too. And the Los Angeles Public Library for The Biggest Little Farm. Hope does exist! The documentary shows how regenerative farming is the answer. Rather than poison and kill, regenerative farmers turn challenges into nature’s gifts. Got a parcel of land so burned out that a sledgehammer can barely dent it? Enter diversity. The more kinds of plants and animals, the better. Gorgeously filmed, it illustrates how, over only seven years, a ruined parcel of land transformed into paradise. This trailer shows it better than words…

There’s a Biggest Little Farm: The Return out, though I haven’t gotten a chance to watch it. Co-farmer/co-producer John Chester also produced these ultra charming shorts about the farm, starting with Meet Chris…

And Poodle Roo…

And The Guardians…

This week’s guest, Aithal, has been a Happiness Between Tails guest here and here before. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children, and self-published a multi-genre slew of books. His latest is on pre-order, Confessions of an Indian Immigrant: Dawn of IT Opportunities in the Land of Promise.

Know anything about blog tours? Please share in the comments. In the meantime, I’m calling this post the first leg of his blog tour.

Cover of Confessions of an Indian Immigrant: Dawn of IT Opportunities in the Land of Promise by Aithal

Excerpt from Confessions of an Indian Immigrant: Dawn of IT Opportunities in the Land of Promise, written by Aithal and illustrated by Darshini

Suddenly, I hear a man shout. Startled, I looked behind. Ours was the last row, but behind us was a narrow passageway connecting the two aisles. I see a turbaned man with a thick beard. He was wearing a white robe. He had covered his ears with his palms. He was doing his namaz (Muslim prayers). Many passengers, too, were startled by the commotion, while others were unfazed. They were used to seeing this on a plane. Kuwait Airways belonging to a Muslim country was extremely accommodating to a Muslim’s needs.

Remember, this was pre-9/11. I’m sure these Middle-eastern airlines have since modified their rules to be more sensitive to others’ needs.

<Begin pre-9/11>

9/11 has changed airline travel. Once, before 9/11, I was flying back to Mumbai via Lufthansa. I requested the air hostess to allow me to witness the plane landing from the cockpit. To my pleasant surprise, I was ushered to the cockpit, where the pilot asked me to sit behind him and wear headphones so that I could hear the conversation between the plane and the air traffic control. It was a mesmerizing experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. 

The 9/11 terrorists robbed this from many (like me) who just wanted to experience a plane landing.

</End pre-9/11>

After the four-hour flight to Kuwait, we had a layover, where we changed planes and braced ourselves for the fourteen-hour haul to New York.

<Begin confession>

Since it was my first plane ride, fourteen hours didn’t sound that bad. However, when I look back, I shudder whenever I think about it. However, it’s two hours shorter than the sixteen-hour nonstop flight I take now from Los Angeles to Dubai.

</End confession>

Finally, the activities picked up as we neared our destination. Eventually, I heard the familiar noise of the motors as the tires lowered themselves from the plane’s belly. I felt the bottom of my stomach drop as the plane lowered. After a few judders and shakes, I lurched as the tires touched the runway. The engines reversed to recede the speed. I gulped hard. My ears popped to adjust the altitude.

I was in the US of A.

Aithal’s description of his book

In the always-connected, always-online digital age and social media world, we tend to forget how life was before the ubiquity of laptops, tablets, mobile devices, smartwatches, and so on. The terms such as outsourcing, offshoring, nearshoring, and many more did not exist. The Indian IT industry was in its infancy.

Aithal takes us on an exciting walk down memory lane as he weaves his narration to pen his experiences migrating from Mumbai to New York—a culture shock. As the title suggests, the story combines his experiences in settling down in America and the dawn of IT opportunities. Both, adjusting to the social life in the US—where he faces the challenges of day-to-day life–and the professional life.

Peppered with humorous anecdotes in his early years of settling down in the US, the story makes an easy read with revealing details that many second-generation Indian-Americans are unaware of.

My Journey by Aithal

I came to New York, USA, from Mumbai, India, in 1989. I’m sure every Indian (or any immigrant from other countries) has a story to tell. And their children—born here—roll their eyes, thinking, “here we go again. Yet another snooze-fest.” However, I always think of it as an 80-20 rule…80% goes in from one ear and out of the other. However, they absorb 20% of our stories. I, too, am a culprit of repeating my experiences several times (after I crossed fifty, I hope I’m forgiven.) “Dad, I’ve heard this a million times,” our daughter would say as she would look at our son and roll her eyes. They would quickly exchange a ‘here-we-go-again’ look. However, I know that they would absorb at least 20%. 

Things were way different back then. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was a 5-year-old. Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin were at the ripe age of sixteen. I came to this country when there was no email (technically, it existed but was not widely used. It was mostly used in the universities), no social media, and no smartphones (the current generation has no clue what Thomas Guide is or what a TripTik is.) Pagers were just getting pervasive, and folks were getting used to them. There were phone booths on every street corner. Manhattan’s 42nd Street was infested with peep shows. Mugging was rampant. The famous assault now known to us as Central Park 5 had occurred just a few days before I arrived in this country and had not completed its ‘news cycle’ and was still making its rounds in the media. It was a culture shock, coming from a country devoid of gun culture to one that loved guns.

I decided to pen my experiences in the form of a memoir. I’ve titled it Confessions of an Indian Immigrant: Dawn of IT Opportunities in Land of Promise.

** Aithal’s updates after posting this: 1) Why am I advising you to check out this link here? Because Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law is Narayana Murthy. The same guy who I write about in my book. 2) Here’s a great review of my book. **

Read or watched anything interesting lately?

Avebury: the other henge and the biggest by da-AL

Some of Avebury henge’s residents.

Stone circles — when it comes to henges (prehistoric wood or stone earthworks ringed by a bank and a ditch) — Stonehenge comes to mind. Our visit to the United Kingdom included London, the British Museum Part 1Part 2 – and Part 3, Bath, and the Kelpies of Scotland. Stonehenge, unfortunately, didn’t fit with our self-drive itinerary…

Welcome to g-r-e-e-n Avebury henge and village!

News to me, the U.K. is home to many stone circles! Archeologist Aubrey Burl cites 1,303 in Britain, Ireland, and Brittany. Theories abound as to why henges came to be erected.

Henges are regarded as sacred sites and living temples by some.

Visiting the henge at Avebury village proved a stroke of good fortune — it’s the largest in the world.

Wikipedia: The postulated original layout of Avebury, published in a late 19th-century edition of the Swedish encyclopaedia Nordisk familjebok. Original illustration by John Martin, based on an illustration by John Britton

Moreover, it’s comprised of t-h-r-e-e rings surrounding the southwest English village.

Avebury henge now. Wikipedia by Detmar Owen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.

It took hundreds of years to construct Avebury henge. One of its stones weighs over 100 tons!

Inside the round dovecote are cubbies for birds to nest.

The immediate area includes the only pub enclosed by a henge, a dovecote (where domesticated pigeons and doves nest), a church, a manor, a beekeeper (an affable French man who taught us much as we sipped afternoon tea with locally baked scones)… and assorted sheep.

The community of Avebury features impressive historical buildings.

What’s your theory as to why stone circles exist?…

Equines Empowering Women by Anne Leueen

Did you know that owning and caring for a horse or a donkey empowers women? Here blogger Anne Leueen fills us in…

HorseAddict

In the developing world two-thirds of the livestock keepers, that is a total of approximately 400 million, are WOMEN

The Brooke, a charity that focuses on working equines,(horses, donkeys and mules) is a major supporter of the women and of their working equines. The Brooke works in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East reaching over two million working horses donkeys and mules. The Brooke is not a rescue organization but with vets, animal welfare specialists as well as advocacy and development specialists works to improve the lives of working equines and to educate and support their owners.

Photo from Brooke Website

Here is what the Brooke has to say about their work with women.

Owning and caring for equines, alongside earning income from their work, raises women’s social status and recognition in the community. Equines help with household chores, which frees up time for women to participate in…

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Video: Taupo, New Zealand: From a Duckling to Rafting by da-AL

Taupo Public Library.

At the risk of sounding like I’m getting paid for this (all us bloggers are wealthy, no?) New Zealand truly has everything! We loved urban Auckland, relaxing Rotorua, the stunning Redwoods, amazing Huka Falls, and astounding Craters of the Moon and Pirongia, as well as Hamilton Gardens. (Later in Australia’s Gold Coast, we visited familyand birds of Australia Part 1 of 2 plus Part 2 of 2, then we marveled at the Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast, enjoyed a delicious meal on the beach, saw some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, had fun with Rita Rigby, met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there, and enjoyed Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there!

In Taupo, we had great fun! We stayed at Sharon Drinnan’s small family farm cottage (you can reach her at DrinnanClan@Farmside.co.NZ). Sharon was so kind that she even made sure we saw this charmer who’d hatched only hours earlier!…

Can one ever get enough of looking wonderfulnesses that includes a dog as black and cute as mine? This dog belongs to our hostess, Sharon…

After breakfast, we drove into town. On the way — “Stop the car!” I yelled, intending to photograph a mamma pig with her small piggies. She, however, had other plans! Before I knew it, she’d corralled the babies into a far corner, then returned to confront me!…

Don’t mess with Mother Pig.

Anyone who visits Happiness Between Tails knows I adore libraries. Taupo has a great one! (More later about the Pūkana expression on the red Māori sculpture)…

The city of Taupo lies along the shore of Lake Taupo — where we enjoyed a river rafting adventure. We had too much fun to take photos. However, after our adventure, my husband took these photos of me with our river guide, Tau Thompson of Tongariro River Rafting when another river guide photo-bombed us. Those Pūkana expressions we’re making (same as on the library statue). Facial expressions are essential to Māori performance…

What’s your best facial expression?

Who are you calling stupid? by Jean-Paul

I admit it. I’m a terrible friend to you. I’m sharing the following sample of London-based blogger Jean-Paul so that you’ll be snared like I am. Experience the same one-two-punch love-hate I have with his site. #1) I love that he’s so talented!!! (though I am jealous!), and #2) I hate that every time I visit, I can’t resist spending way more time there than I plan for — even his friends who comment are clever!! Read on, my forewarned friend…

Photo by blogger Jean-Paul of “myhusband&i: two guys making out & trying to make it”

“Who are you calling stupid?” by Jean-Paul

When it comes to math, I’ll admit I’m a complete dummy. At school, I understood a lot, but arithmetic? It was all mental to me. My husband, on the other hand, has a brain like a push button calculator.

“You’re not stupid,” said Guido after dinner last night, “you just need some math practice with imagination. I have an idea,” he said, “sit back right this second and imagine yourself in a farmyard.”

As you can see, we really do need to get out more.

This was worrying. I had a sneaking feeling I was going to be asked to talk algebra to a chicken. I’ve only ever visited a farm once in my entire life, and I seem to recall a pungent odour. It was strong enough to make me squeeze my nostrils all day long.

“Okay,” I said involuntarily pinching my nose, “what’s next?”

There was a pause.

“What are you doing?” Guido asked, eyebrow raised.

“I just think it’s important that I embrace this part of the exercise before we move on to any complex multiplications or differential equations. Though I’ll admit, I’m becoming anxious about whether I should go put on rubber boots?”

Take it from me, this was a totally bona fide concern. If you’ve ever walked around a farmyard, then you’ll know there are some big brown stinky things you really don’t want to stand in. Did I mention the flies?

“Don’t worry about that. This is the cleanest farm ever.”

This was reassuring, but I held onto my nostrils just in case of an unexpected whiff of ammonia. I couldn’t see any flies though.  Which was even more re-assuring on account of my limited one arm swatting abilities.

“Now imagine there are 13 animal heads and 40 legs in front of you,” said Guido.

One moment I’m in a loft apartment eating a perfectly adequate mid-week lasagna and the next I’ve suddenly been put out to pasture herding a bunch of unidentifiable livestock. As you can tell, I like to take my visualisation pretty seriously. Which is more than I can say about the math. I mean, where was the straw?

“Now tell me,” said Guido, “how many sheep and how many ducks can you count?”

I closed my eyes. I could actually see the sheep just standing there staring at me. They seemed pretty friendly with only the occasional baa. The ducks, on the other hand, were all over the place quack quack quacking and waving their wings about. Anyone would think they’d just been told the hunting season had started.

There was another short pause.

“Well?” asked Guido.

“Hang on,” I said, “I’ve counted the sheep, but the ducks are proving problematic. Have you got any stale bread I could feed them?”

It was, I think, at that point, Guido began to understand the challenges my teachers had all those years ago.

“Hmm, I think we’ll leave this lesson for now,” said Guido wisely pouring me a glass of wine.

Back from the country, safely at our kitchen table, I let go of my nose. In the end, I couldn’t teach Guido that much about the sheep but what I did tell him was if something walks like a duck and talks like a duck then it’s usually a duck. And there’s nothing stupid about that.

Happy Sounds Video, New Zealand Redwoods and Corrugated Pets by da-AL

Turn your sound up high to listen to the ASMR happy sounds of redwood trees creaking in the wind, sounding like old-fashioned rocking chairs…

Most people know of the redwoods of California, where trees are so awe-inspiring that they’ve got names and their Avenue of the Giants. But did you know that New Zealand has its own redwood forest? For our New Zealand vacation, we’d seen a bit of Auckland, then Rotorua, later Huka Falls and Craters of the Moon and Waitomo Glowworms Caves, then Taupo and Pirongia and Hamilton Gardens. Later in Australia’s Gold Coast, we visited family and birds of Australia Part 1 of 2 plus Part 2 of 2, and then we marveled at the Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast, enjoyed a delicious meal on the beach, saw some wild things and cute things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, had fun with Rita Rigby, met the beasts of Brisbane and the beauty there, and enjoyed Sydney this much and that much, as well as the purring there!

Now we got out of our car and hiked up, up, up…

da-AL strolls up to New Zealand’s redwood forest.

Back in the early 1900s, New Zealand officials admired our redwoods — and then planted some of their own! — resulting in the Redwoods Forest of Whakarewarewa. New Zealand soil is so dense with nutrients that the trees grew faster there than they do in the U.S. Like California’s, New Zealand’s big trees provide homes to an abundance of wildlife, including endangered creatures.

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Trees actually talk to each other, creating an ecosystem among themselves that feeds everything from below their roots to far into the air! Redwoods can live for thousands of years — unless humans cut them down or pollute them to death. Alas, the largest was felled around 1945. The most massive tree on earth now is the General Sherman, at 83.8 meters (275 ft) high by 7.7 m (25 ft) wide. The world’s oldest tree lives in California too — a bristlecone pine that’s 5,068 years old. Let’s hope we don’t kill them or their kin.

A little further along, we stopped to pet corrugated animals in the city of Tirau!…

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What’s the biggest tree you’ve ever seen?

Guest Blog Post: Six Warm Piglets by Cecilia Mary Gunther

photo of piglets feeding

Warning: reality check, then Cuteness Overload! It’s not for nothing that the human star of the glorious pig movie, “Babe,” went vegetarian…

thekitchensgarden

If you were hanging out in the Kitchen’s Garden Lounge of Comments yesterday you would have read that a piglet was lost in that first cold night.  I found him dead on Poppy’s side of their quarters.  Being the Lady Pig Farmer is not always easy. All our focus these first few days is keeping the babies safe and well fed. This task feels mutually exclusive at times.

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