Friday, February 29, 2008

Google Agenda is Google Calendar?

Today I got a spam invitation in my Yahoo mailbox, from a Gmail account. The Gmail captcha system was cracked by spammers recently. So, spam mails have started to circulate from Gmail IDs. Anyway, the interesting thing about the spam invite I got was the title 'Google Agenda BETA' at the top. See the screenshot below.

Google Agenda BETA

I have normally seen 'Google Calendar BETA' at that spot. Never heard of anything called Google Agenda. And, the text 'Google Agenda BETA' does link to Google Calendar.

So, is Google Calendar also called as Google Agenda? Perhaps in some specific countries? At this time, the URLS and do not exist.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vision Quest Tips

About four years ago, a friend asked about tips/advice on undertaking a Vision Quest. This is what I wrote to her:

1. Intent is most important. For a vision quest (as for spellwork), it's the clear intent and focus that will determine the course of the quest and the vision you receive.

2. Clearing and cleaning the space: personal space, surroundings, body, mind, heart and spirit. There are so many different ways of achieving this. Among Native Americans, the sweatlodge ceremony is a very powerful and effective way of cleaning the body, mind, heart and spirit. The ceremony could even be a small vision quest in itself. The purpose of this activity is to make yourself into a suitable vessel/container to receive the vision. Also important to clean and prepare the physical space where you hope to do your quest: casting the circle, creating a medicine wheel are two ways of doing that.

3. Attaining an altered state of consciousness, conducive to receiving the vision. The altered state can be achieved in many ways - non-physical or physical or a combination of both. Non-physical methods include meditation, sleep, dreaming, hypnosis (self or otherwise), etc. Physical methods include physical hardships such as fasting and/or spending solitary time out in the woods, deserts, mountains, etc., power medicines, sweatlodge, etc.

4. Receiving the vision and afterward. It is important to be centered and grounded enough that when the vision comes, you don't break out in a panic or snap out of the trance. It is also important that you are centered and grounded enough that after the trance or vision "has passed", you can assimilate and incorporate it into your system, come safely "back to base" and back to your "normal" lifestyle. Being able to maintain your center and groundedness depends a lot on your preparation and practice prior to the vision quest. Making your system strong and familiarizing your system with mini-visioning rehearsals would help. If you decide to go through physical hardships such as spending time out in the open and/or using power medicines, be sure to have safety nets, companion(s) to support you, backup plan to locate you in the outdoors, administer emergency medical help, etc.

Blessings and best wishes. I hope you find what you want and need, and that which needs you finds you too.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Do NOT Buy from A1wireless & Wirefly

If you are in the market for new cellphones, do not buy from the following websites:


Both of the above websites are owned by Inphonic Inc, which is now calling itself Simplexity.

If you do a search for Inphonic rebates, you will find that this company is notorious for avoiding the payment of mail-in rebates to its customers. It has even been sued over its bad rebate practices. This was in Nov 2006. In November 2007, the company filed for bankruptcy. But not before it cheated me of $150!

Despite being sued and going bankrupt, the company continues to cheat customers like me out of their rightful rebate money and it continues to remain in business. The laws are not strong enough to protect the customers. When that is the case, the customers should protect themselves. Avoid losing money like I did. Do not buy anything from the two websites run by Inphonic: and

I bought a cell phone from They were supposed to pay me $100 and $50 as mail-in rebates. I fullfilled all rebate conditions to the letter. In fact, in early Nov 2007, I was even able to visit their rebate status website and see that my rebate submissions had been checked and approved, and I'd be getting cheques soon. Just a day or two after I checked my status, when I visited the website again, the only thing I could see was a lame message about the company filing for bankruptcy. The message has vague verbiage about some communication going out to customers expecting rebates, but I have received no communication so far. Calling the rebate status phone lines is of no use because they all play the same recorded bankruptcy message similar to the one put up on the rebate site. Calling the sales lines is of no help - you will only get to talk to Indian call center people who pretend to be dumber than donkeys. So far, there has been no cheque or any communication regarding my rebates.

When Inphonic is not fulfilling its mail-in rebate obligations to old customers, how can the company continue to do business, offering similar mail-in rebates to new customers? Like I said before, the law is not protecting the interests of citizens. Don't lose your hard-earned money to these crooks. Do not buy from them. In most cases, you can get the same or similar deals from more reputable sites like Avoid these guys for the frauds they are.

Testosterone & Being a Man

On Saturday, I listened to a fascinating program on NPR radio station about the male hormone testosterone. The piece was an episode of This American Life series produced by Chicago Public Radio.

The segment of the program I found to be most interesting was the experience of Griffin Hansbury, a man who used to be a woman and underwent sex-change. One of the steps in his sex-change process was to get injected with the male hormone testosterone. She - who is now a he - talked about how the increased testosterone levels made her/his view of the world go through a paradigm shift. He describes how much his thought processes when approaching women changed from what they were "before T" to "after T" (his phrases). Griffin used to be a lesbian woman before T, and during those days, when he saw another woman he was attracted to, his mind would go through a whole narrative sequence on how he should approach the woman and get to know her based on her interests and personality. After T, when he saw a woman he felt attracted to, before any coherent thought even had a chance to form, his mind would be flooded with "pronographic images" involving that woman! In other words, he experienced what it is to be a man.

I thought it was very cool that one person could experience sexual attraction as both a woman and a man in one life time. As I listened to his experiences, it hit me that he was able to know what men go through only because of his testosterone treatment, and almost no other woman (except for rare exceptions) will ever know how men really feel about sex, and why we act the way we do.

If just testosterone could cause such a difference in the personality, imagine how much more differences there must be due to all the other things which go into determining our genders. Men and women might belong to the same species as far as biology goes, but in many aspects of psychology, we might as well be totally different animals.

You can listen to the full episode by visiting this page: 220: Testosterone. If you want to listen to just the segment I am commenting about, you may move the slider of the audio player to the 15-min mark and you should be all set.