lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Monday, August 07, 2006

Beer Saturday musings

It's odd how family traditions evolve. I suppose it applies to customs and rituals that the whole world engages in, too- like Valentine's day or April Fool's day- but a family develops its own rituals and customs.

In my family, the first Saturday of the month meant that we'd go browse at Oxford Bookstore and then have a couple of beers and lunch at any of the Park Street restaurants. We could spend hours in bookshops, and routinely did. Things changed a bit, and the ritual evolved to suit them.

Nowadays, we get food delivered once in a while, but mostly on Saturdays I go on a cooking spree. This is not as easy as it sounds. I have to make allowances for the fact that the lord and master likes his lentils watery while the son and heir hates them that way. I have to factor in that they can't stand spicy stuff or chillies and I love spicy food. Even allowing and admitting all preferences, I can and do cook meals we all three of us can share.

Some days it is pasta with tomato, garlic and cheese sauce and sautéed vegetables, pureed spinach and jacket potatoes on the side. On cool days it might be adai or dosas and various chutneys judiciously toned down with yoghurt to the 'ouch' levels of my sissy menfolk. Some days it is Punjabi style, rajma and kadhai paneer. Some days it is an Andhra menu.

Things change, and new customs evolve. After I stopped reading the Statesman in retaliation to their stopping the London Times crosswords, I don't spend much time with my newspapers folded to the grid and pen poised over the clues. I do the majority of my crosswords online now. These days, Saturday means a heavy load of the Sacred Duty.

There are the two Saturday prize puzzles from the Times and the Guardian, and the extras, the Jumbo puzzles both concise and cryptic from the Times and the quick crosswords too. I am not even mentioning the Azeds and the monthly prize puzzles.

Before I settle down to the Sacred Duty, there are the weekly Solemn Duties of Saturday. This is a ritual that developed after I had to pay two whopping phone bills thanks to viruses- running my weekly checks, updating my anti-virus software, being secure.

But there's always beer, on the first Saturday of the month. It is a constant.

I finish my chores; I practically race through them before I settle down with that tankard of beer to do crosswords. Some days that gets done lickety-split. Everything clicks, my brain is in fine fettle and I complete them all rather quickly. Like last Saturday.

On such days, I visit my blog archives and marvel at the logic that matches Google ads to my individual posts. I write about birds and poetry , and Google places an ad for Birdsong Detective there. There's a strange Daily Online Devotional ad that keeps appearing, and I can't even guess why. Butchers and bakers and crossword puzzle-makers all feature in the ads. Which reminds me, here's a clue:

Oh, Candlestick? Check that out, you don't have to buy to window-shop (5,2,3,3) That's about as cryptic as I can get at you lot, you crossword philistines, you.

After all that daily chores and attending to sacred duties comes ego massaging. I do my weekly check of my site's tracker, and get bemused by it. There are people who come across my blog in Poland, Israel and Brazil. They read me in Russia and China apparently. Reports tell me somebody spent more than an hour reading my blog. Perhaps she came to it and was called away and the minutes mounted up.

But when I saw an odd datum for my blog visitor location, I was thrown into a frenzy of speculation. Be still, my pathetic heart, it couldn't have been him. Araucaria won't have the time of the day for me, or my blog to be realistic.

Hello there, my readers from Himachal Pradesh and Kerala! I really appreciate it that you visit and read me so regularly. Do let me know what you think by commenting once in a while. I'd appreciate that, too.

That brings me to the crux of my musings, however alcoholically I may have meandered to the point.

I am getting spam comments now, all posted to earlier posts and mostly to those that have been linked with other blogs. But four spam comments in a week are a bit much. Oh, I have no problem with anonymous comments as such; I have a secret admirer after all. I wish he'd come out of hiding and declare himself. Be that as it may, malicious programs, or spam-bots posting comments asking my readers to click on some link isn't nice.

Should I change my settings to allow comment verification and say I won't allow anonymous comments? While we are at it, should I change my template? Add pictures? Tell me, dear reader. While I await your judgement, let me go sleep the beer off, hic.



Blogger Priya said...

Beer and blog...Some people sure enjoy their Saturdays! And no, please don't add pictures to your blog, it's just fine as it is, something tells me it gells with your personality:P But of course, we shall discover much more, in good time;)

4:17 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

Some days it is pasta with tomato, garlic and cheese sauce and sautéed vegetables, pureed spinach and jacket potatoes on the side.

Wow. When will you ask me for one of these binges?

Don't change your template, it's fine as it is. Comment verification is a good idea though.

6:01 pm  
Blogger db said...

Things changed a bit, and the ritual evolved to suit them. .. Interesting thing here is that rituals themselves are a product of evolution .. don't you agree ?

This is a ritual that developed after I had to pay two whopping phone bills thanks to viruses ..
1. Use DSL - costs more money, but also more value for money
2. Switch to
Avast Antivirus
... Free to license, and far more effective than any of the big brands like Norton, McAfee et. al ... also much less demanding on system resources and quick to update .. just a matter of 30 seconds as compared to Norton that takes hours *cringes*

1. Comment verification - you should've done that long ago
2. Template - Looks dull .. change it, please
3. Pictures - One speaks a thousand words .. need I say anything more ?

Lastly, beer in the summer is a bad choice .. dehydrates you faster ...

8:15 pm  
Blogger Siva Sivaaa said...

From the problems we faced over the last week, I presume you are a BSNL broadband customer. Best value for money. Scratch One.

As our Prophet says, Avast is a good AV program. And so is AVG Free. Scratch two.

Comment moderation - you can enable word verification and prevent pervert bots from spamming. Scratch three.

Template - seems okay as 3 out of my eight favourites use this template. Scratch four.

Pictures - Ram had it right. Scratch five.

Now, where is my share of the Holy Water? :D

8:55 pm  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

no, i will not click on the ads again!

the template is great (i have had it the whole time too. lol).

and I concur, word-verification will solve ur problems.

finally, the person who spent an hour on ur blog - was he/she on a mozilla/safari browser, MAC OS X, and from the US? I might just know the person.

9:52 pm  
Blogger jhantu said...

Seems the verdict is already in, hic!

7:09 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- I hear you, darling.

Rajesh- Don't fish.

Ram- I was using DSL when I acquired those viruses. And um, I use McAfee paid for version now. Plus Adaware and Spyware blaster. A bit like belt and braces, but I figured it's better to be safe than sorry.

Siva- Yup, BSNL broadband it is.
Now I have to learn how to upload pictures, I suppose. Let's see, I will get there by and by.

Karthik- Come on, you are the only one who solved it.

Jhantu- One is thoroughly confused, one is. The beer ought to have worn off ages ago, hic.

10:14 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Now that I am not feeling so blue, I will elaborate.

Ram- You are the only one who finds the template dull, it seems. Priya says it gells with my personality and that is stodgy to say the least, so perhaps I will leave it as it is.

Is Avast all that much superior? McAfee seems okay, takes no time at all, updates are automatic. Let me know.

Siva- Holy water, eh? Think I am Vampire Lady? ;-)

Karthik- You and me both. I rather like this template. That person was using Safari.

1:12 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

Ah, the pleasures of lazy Saturdays. But yours seem full of activity.

Comment verification is a good way to stop spam comments. Activate it, by all means. Don't change the template. This one suits you to a T.

Why were you blue and why are you less blue now?

1:53 pm  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

If it is safari, It is definitely me:D. Am sure there are not too many other Mac users here.

(btw, u are welcome. ego-boosting is my special gift)

oh I see the word-verification!!!

2:05 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- Will post on it soon. I am in mourning. And I am celebrating too, so it is confusing.

Karthik- Yay! Thank you ever so much. I am touched, gratified and thrilled. :-)

Yeah, I changed settings. Reckoned readers wouldn't mind. Rimi would, I suppose, but that miss hasn't put in an appearance yet.

2:25 pm  
Blogger db said...


First of all, what type of connection you use (DSL/dialup) has no bearing on virus proliferation. I suggested DSL as it might help mitigate the lengthy phone bills.

I've tried out practically every anti virus software available, in all possible versions, and till today, I haven't found even one thats more reliable than Avast.. McAfee is good, no doubt - but Avast is far lighter on my memory resources .. and its free for non-commercial use !

9:22 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- We were using DIAS that was offered by Calcutta Telephones. It was a parallel thing, where one's phone isn't tied up and so on.

It is BSNL broadband now, and my firewalls et al seem to be holding up. I was so clueless a few years back. I still am, I suppose.

The bills were the result of Nachi and Blaster worms.

Now tell me how to stop McAfee renewing my subscription automatically. :D

10:26 pm  
Blogger db said...

Lol .. serious or kidding about the McAfee thingy ? .. Ok I assume you're serious .. you have the following options:

1. Call McAfee customer support and tell 'em you don't want their service anymore .. (Good luck with that, hehe)

2. If you've purchased the thing using a credit card, just cancel the credit card, and the subscription won't be renewed automatically .. if it still gets renewed, its someone else's loss, not yours .. *grins*

2:52 am  
Blogger I said...

ha ha just add one more european country
to it :)
you write very well

10:34 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- I was kidding. But seriously, cancel credit card to cancel subscription? The mind boggles. :-)

I- Which? Which? Do tell. And do visit again.

7:04 am  
Anonymous Deepali said...

Actually some smarty pants figured that spamming could be done with a blogger id as well :S

So if spamming really is a concern maybe comment moderation is a better option albeit a bit more of hassle.


From another lurker who passes by usually without leaving comments.

8:21 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Deepali- Hi, Thanks for taking the time to comment.

On the whole, I think I will put up with spam rather than go through the hassle of typing a string of letters each time i want to post replies to my readers. Tried it and got irritated by it, reckoned it irritates my readers too and went back to my original settings.

Do visit again.

10:51 am  

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