Tsunami remembrance...

I was busy carrying out my usual duties, when suddenly it seemed that all the noise had died out, except for the cardiac monitor, which beeped with every beat of my patients heart. Then I suddenly noticed that all the staff members in the operating theater were standing still. I looked at my watch & it read 9.25am. The whole of country stood still for two minutes to remember the unfortunate catastrophe that reached our shores two years ago at this very moment.
Immediately after this great catastrophe in 2004, most of the staff members (including specialist consultants) from all government hospitals were mobilized to conduct health camps in the affected areas.
Below are some of the photos I took at Sainthamaruthu Hospital in Ampara District after it was destroyed by Tsunami waves.

The last photo is of an intravenous infusion bottle & infusion set with the needle & adhesive plaster (circled) which was used to connect it to the patient. It got entangled in this tree, what happened to the poor patient to which it was connected?


Busy Bees...

Today morning I saw these bees busy at work. Got some really beautiful photos of them.
I just thought of reading more on them & found some very interesting facts...

Busy at work

Bee Facts:

  • Belong to genus Apis

  • Have been producing honey for at least 100 million years.

  • Have 4 wings, 5 eyes & fly at an average of 13-15 mph.

  • Stroke wings 13,800 beats/minute, thus making a distinctive buzz.

  • Produce beeswax from 8 paired glands on the underside of their abdomen.

  • Honey is created when bees mix plant nectar with their own enzymes & then evaporate it by fanning their wings.

  • Honey contains about 17.1% water, 38.5% Fructose, 31.0% Glucose & Maltose, Sucrose and other complex carbohydrates.

  • Honey supplies 2 stages of energy, Glucose is absorbed quickly & gives an immediate energy boost & Fructose is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy.

  • Average hive temperature of 33ºC is maintained even if the outside temperature is 43ºC or -40ºC.

  • A colony contains one queen, 500 to 1,000 drones and about 30,000 to 60,000 workers.

  • Worker bees live for about 28 to 35 days

  • Bees have an unusual genetic sex determination system, haplodiploidy. Workers are produced from fertilized eggs and have a double set of chromosomes. The males, or drones, develop from unfertilized eggs and are thus haploid with only a single set of chromosomes.

  • Queen may mate with up to 17 drones over a 1-2 day period of mating flights & stores the sperm in her spermatheca, thus she has a lifetime supply and never mates again.

  • Queen bees live for 2 to 5 years.

  • Queens will lay almost 2000 eggs/day.

  • Queen bees mandibular gland produces a pheromone, called queen substance, which workers lick from the queen's body and pass along. It inhibits the ovaries of workers.

  • When the bee stings, the stinger, poison sac and several others parts are torn from the bee's body to be left on the victim & it will soon die.

  • Bees communicate using Dance language & consists of a dance in a circle, for indicating sources & a tail-wagging dance in which the exact distance is indicated by a number of straight runs with abdominal wagging, fewer the runs per minute, farther away the source.

Hovering near a flower, just before landing on it...

Bees still busy at work,
even after the flowers had withered
away in the hot sun


Happy Birthday Google!

Google 8th Birthday Logo

When I went to Google home page to do some searching to find some facts for my next blog post, I was surprised to see the Google logo. It's Google's Birthday!!! Then I did some searches & got these old Google Birthday logos.

Google 7th BirthdayGoogle 6th BirthdayGoogle 5th BirthdayGoogle 4th Birthday.gif

Google derives from Googol which means 1.0 × 10100. It's founders are Larry Page and Sergey Brin. You can read about all the Google milestones here.

I wonder how much we use Google services daily. If Google weren't here, I wonder how different a world we would be in. My list of Favorite Google services are as follows:

Gmail logo


Read more about it here

Google logo

Google Search

Blogger Logo


GoogleToolbar logo

Google Toolbar

Google News logo

Google News

Picasa logo


Google Book Search logo

Book Search
Read more about it here

Google Image Search logo

Google Image search

Orkut logo


GooglePages logo

Google Page Creator

Google Groups logo

Google Groups

Google Spreadsheets Logo

Google Spreadsheets

Google Calendar Logo

Google Calendar

Google Desktop Logo

Google Desktop

Geogle Analytics Logo

Google Analytics

Google Maps Logo

Google Maps

Google Language Tools

Google Labs

Google Labs

Google Earth Logo

Google Earth

Google Notebook Logo

Google Notebook

Google news Logo

Google News Archive Search

For a more complete list of Google Services please visit Wikipedia

Happy 8th Birthday, Google!


Freedom to Read...

I was searching for Robert Knox's 'An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon' when I stumbled upon this two great free resources. I was amazed to see how much free content they had & we are so ignorant as not to use them.

Project Gutenberg

This was started by Michael Hart in 1971 & named the project after Joannes Gutenberg who innovated the printing press.
By August 2006 there are 19000 free ebooks in Project Gutenberg.
Material is added only after it has received a copyright clearance according to US copyright law.

Google Book Search
Google offers full view of books that are out of copyright. (Also google continues to offer those books that are still in copyright, which can be searched for keywords & will be presented with a small snippet of the surrounding text to the relevant keyword & there will be links to stores where you can buy the book)
They simply provide full text view of books according to the copyright law of the viewers country. There is a link where PDF formats of the relevant ebook can be downloaded if they are out of copyright.
Also from yesterday (August 12) they are offering 42 Banned Books

Google Book Search

Also see a List of digital library projects


Kandyan Dancer Orchid

These are Kandyan Dancer Orchids from our garden. This belongs to the genus Onicidium, which has more than 300 orchid species.
I could not find the exact species name of this orchid though.
These have been named after it's resemblance to Kandyan Dancers, a traditional form of upcountry dancing in Sri Lanka, where the dancers wear highly ornamented costumes.

< Kandyan Dancers in the Procession on my Wedding day

Also visit Oncidium to read more on this genus of Orchids


Birth time...

These are cut ends of two banana stems. As you can see, the middle part has grown a little bit. When I saw this, I remembered an ingenious method used by ancient Sri Lankans to calculate a new borns birth time (as most of the people did not have watches or clocks).

When a baby is about to be born, an elderly will go near a nearby banana tree. When he hears the first cry of the baby, he will cut the banana tree with a knife in one stroke. Then they will summon the village astrologer.
The astrologer will visit the place. He will measure the growth of the inner part of the cut end. Using this he will calculate the interval since baby was born & his arrival, thus calculating birth time of the baby.
Another difference can be seen in this ancient practice. Rather than taking the time when the child is delivered, they had considered the time at which the baby had taken the first breath as the birth time. But most of the time there is only a few seconds difference between these two.



arGmail by Google

What is Gmail?
ItÂ’s GoogleÂ’s free webmail service, also known as Googlemail in UK & Germany due to copyright issues. Initially launched in April 1st, 2004.

Initially launched with 1GB of free space & was increased to 2GB at its first anniversary. Now it provides over 2.7GB & counting at a rate of 0.000032470826991374936580416032470827 megabytes per second which is 1GB per year

Conversation View:
GoogleÂ’s innovative method of categorizing emails, where Gmail keeps related emails together, so all emails related to a single email are kept in a single stack. Gmail users can delete a whole conversation or individual emails from a collection of emails from a conversation.

Gmail has labels rather than folders, where one email could have more than one label.

Integrated Search:
Gmail incorporates GoogleÂ’s powerful search capability, making finding an email sent or received very easy

Gmail allows web interface in addition to free automatic forwarding & POP3 access. For mobile access, point mobile phoneÂ’s web browser to http://m.gmail.com.

Spam Filtering:
Innovative Google Technology filters spam using sophisticated filters.

Virus Protection:
Gmail scans all attachments for viruses & tries to remove if found. Gmail does not allow attaching executable files, as they are the major source for distribution of viruses.

Relevant Text Ads:
Gmail displays only relevant text ads. No Pop-ups or Banner ads.

Saves a draft copy of current message & saves any attachments, once per minute, to prevent loss of data.

Optional Dots:
The Gmail usernames must be of 6 to 30 characters comprising of letters, numbers or dots & cannot include hyphens(-) & underscores(_). But Gmail ignores dots when resolving addresses. So my.name@gmail.com is as same as myname@gmail.com & m.y.n.a.m.e@gmail.com. Also Gmail is case Insensitive.

Gmail supports a tag to be added to your email address where it can be written as my.name+tag@gmail.com. This can be used to track email address provided to different services & people.

Customized ‘From’ Address:
Gmail can be customized to display as been sent from another of your addresses Eg: my.name@yahoo.com

Google Talk:
Gmail allows users to chat with Google Talk Network users with in Gmail window. So users can chat with their contacts if they are online.
Also it includes Contact pictures & auditory notification when new messages arrive. But voice calling is not supported by Gmail.

Google Calendar:
Gmail incorporates powerful Google Calendar where events can be added using natural language phrases & numerous more powerful features.

View as HTML:
Gmail allows attachments of Microsoft Office, OpenOffice & .pdf type files to be viewed as HTML pages rather than downloading the attachments or when in a hurry, using a mobile device or when the software needed to view the file is not installed.

Vacation Auto Responder,
Contact Groups,
Many Languages (even some left-to-right languages),
RSS Feeds,
Address & Package Tracking as Shortcuts,
Offline Access with Google Desktop,
Photo Upload to Gmail with Picasa,
Archiving Emails,
Gmail for Your Domain

Privacy Issue:
Some amount of Privacy concern is there regarding Gmail, mainly because all emails are automatically under go software-based scanning to determine relevant text advertisements.

Supported Browsers:

Microsoft IE 5.5+
Netscape 7.1+
Mozilla 1.4+
Mozilla Firefox 0.8+
Safari 1.2.1+
Opera 6.03+

Standard with chat:
Microsoft IE 6.0+
Mozilla Firefox 1.0+

HTML view only:
Microsoft IE 4.0+
Netscape 4.07+

Deactivation of Account:
Gmail account is deactivated if not used for 9 months, which is far more than most of the other free webmail providers.

How to get a Gmail Account:
Gmail is still in Beta testing stage & opening a Gmail account is still by using an invitation

By Mobile Phone:
Mobile phone users from US, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and Turkey can receive invitation code by filling form in Gmail website.

By Google Invitation:
If you own a .edu email address or Blogspot blogger, you may receive an invitation from Google. Occasionally in search page an invitation is provided on the top bar.

By a Friend:
Gmail users can send Invitations to their friends.

If you cannot get a Gmail Invitation, please feel free to ask for an invitation from me. Use the provided email form in the left Sidebar of this blog to send the request to me. Please remember to include your email address as well .

P.S.: I get so many requests, but few of the invitees do not seem to open the Gmail accounts. Please if you wish not to open a Gmail account, forward the invitation to one of your needy friends or back to me.
Also note that the Gmail invitations sent to other webmail services sometimes get categorized as Spam or Bulkmail. So please check those folders as well, if you requested for an invitation. Please be patient, If you requested for an invitation, I will definitely send you one.



Cover Designs of the Talents souvenire books
Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura is the youngest medical faculty of Sri Lanka established only in 1993.
With the heavy burden of studies, medical students only rarely venture into performing arts. But with Variety stage show Talents, which commenced in 1995, the hidden talents of the medicos were exposed. Since then, with the blessing of the staff of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, this show is held each year entirely by Medical students. This variety show includes singing, dancing & drama. Proceedings of the show are utilized to fund projects which will enhance the students’ aesthetic & sporting skills.
It is amazing how small dreams turn into major events. I joined the second Talents show as a first year student in 1997. In 1999 with Saliya we made a performance ‘Sri ape lankawe sinhalaya’, which is a hilarious song, based on the rapidly losing cultural values. In it we used a multimedia projection, where we projected a morph between a traditional dress to a short skirt, etc. It was a major success & we were commended by so many & we were asked to do a similar one next year too.
But after seeing the video editing equipment at the faculty while we were editing videos for the previous one, I was dreaming of having a live coverage of the event projected to a giant screen. I never thought that it could be done with our meagre resources. I discussed about it with some of my friends & thought of giving it a try. Then we discussed with our Dean of the Faculty, who without a hesitation released the necessary equipment. After a dozen of sleepless nights, we could manage to get prepared, only by the eve of the event. Since then we are having a giant screen projection of the event edited live at the scene.
This year it had come to a climax where the National Television Station of Sri Lanka (Rupavahini Cooperation) are covering the stage show & it will be telecasted tomorrow (22nd June) at 10.00pm.

^ Cover Design by Mahendra Ekanayaka ^ Cover Design by me
^ Cover Design by Kavinda Rajapakse
^ Cover Designed by Sangeeth