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Monday, February 6, 2023

the wings of a butterfly !!

 The first thing that attracted me was its wings – so colourful with a great pattern !! – the wings   are made of very thin layers of a hardened protein called chitin. (human  hair and nails are also made out of this protein.) On top of these chitin layers are thousands of tiny scales that serve several purposes, which may vary for different species of butterflies. 

I've watched you now a full half-hour;

Self-poised upon that yellow flower

And, little Butterfly! indeed

I know not if you sleep or feed.

How motionless!--not frozen seas


Butterflies (Rhopalocera) are insects that have large, often brightly coloured wings, and a conspicuous, fluttering flight. The group comprises the superfamilies Hedyloidea (moth-butterflies in the Americas) and Papilionoidea. Butterfly fossils date to the Paleocene, about 56 million years ago. 

Butterflies have a four-stage life cycle, they undergo complete metamorphosis. Winged adults lay eggs on the food plant on which their larvae, known as caterpillars, will feed. The caterpillars grow, sometimes very rapidly, and when fully developed, pupate in a chrysalis. When metamorphosis is complete, the pupal skin splits, the adult insect climbs out, and after its wings have expanded and dried, it flies off. 

We often admire butterflies for the splendid colours on their wings, and  a dark background can make them shine even brighter. Just like strong colours in nature are often the result of diffraction from microstructures rather than pigmentation, the near-perfect absorption we perceive as black can have a similar origin.   

A butterfly has four wings, two forewings and two hindwings. They are attached to the second and third thoracic segments (the meso- and meta-thorax). Strong muscles in the thorax move the wings up and down in a figure-eight pattern during flight. When the fully-grown adult butterfly emerges from its pupa, its delicate wings are crinkled, wet, and uninflated. The butterfly hangs upside-down and pumps blood into the wings to inflate them. It must then wait for the wings to dry before it can fly. When the fragile wings fray or are torn, they do not repair themselves. 

Butterfly wings are made of two chitonous layers (membranes) that are nourished and supported by tubular veins. The veins also function in oxygen exchange ("breathing"). Covering the wings are thousands of colorful scales, together with many hairs (setae).  The variations in hues and patterns on their wings are not just for show but perform crucial communication functions. The patterns on the wings can help protect butterflies from predators through camouflage, or warn predators that the butterfly’s body is toxic, or help attract potential mates. A major feature of these wing canvases is that they have two sides and they can contain different messages on each side. In general, butterflies use the upper surfaces of their wings to seduce the opposite sex !! 

Butterflies' lives are all about flight. Their vibrant wings are the largest, most visible parts of their bodies, and they spend much of their time in the air. Flying takes a lot of energy, and to get this energy, butterflies drink the nectar from flowers, which require the power of flight to reach. Even when resting, butterflies are often preparing for flight by keeping their wing muscles warm enough to move. 

The most important thing – never touch them, their wings ! – you are not caressing them but could damage them permanently.  When you touch a butterfly's wing, enough scales come off to negatively affect its heat absorption, it could conceivably lead to its death.   The  scales --   rub off easily -- partly to allow the butterfly to escape from predators in a tight situation. Unfortunately, that escape could ultimately lead to the same outcome as getting caught in the first place. 

The lyrics at the start are from a poem that we read in our School days – ‘Butterfly by Wordsworth’.  William Wordsworth (1770 –   1850) was an English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads.  Wordsworth's magnum opus is generally considered to be The Prelude, a semi-autobiographical poem of his early years that he revised and expanded a number of times. It was posthumously titled and published by his wife in the year of his death, before which it was generally known as "the poem to Coleridge". 

Interesting !
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Monday, January 30, 2023

Monk Murali !! - - - retires !!

Retirements are  normal; We have seen so many in our lives with the passage of time…… it is a process where a person stops employment completely.  We are not speaking about anything forced but the natural retirement upon person reaching the prescribed age limit of 58 or 60….  In some ways, it is a happy event that somebody can take rest peacefully and perhaps devote his time and attention to religious or social activity ~ not required to work any longer……not all are fortunate..  retirement is  an emotional event for everyone and it is more emotional for the retiree.    

The first price of popularity is that one is hounded quite often of ‘retirement’……… the great genius writer Sujatha in his heydays was confronted in a student’s forum with the Q  : Sir, when will you stop writing ? Pat came the reply – ‘in the night ~ when I feel too sleepy’………… 

We have seen some great openers – Pankaj Roy, Sunil Gavaskar, Chetan Chauhan,Navjot Sidhu,  Krish Srikkanth, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sadagoppan Ramesh, Shikhar Dhawan .. .. to name a few !!   .. .. today comes the news of retirement of an Indian Opener, whom we loved seeking, cut, drive and pull with ease !! 


In 2012, a decade ago -  in IPL Cricket  24 centuries had been socred ; 6 in that season- Chris Gayle, Ajinkya Rahane, David Warner, Rohit Sharma, Kevin Pietersen and Murali Vijay.  Gayle had made 3 tons in IPL; Warner and Shaun Marsh 2 each… only Indian to have made 2 tons in IPL was Monk ….. Murali Vijay. 

In the First Test at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica – 2011  presented a rare spectacle of two Tamilnadu players opening for India.   It was debutant Abhinav Mukund (Virat Kohli and Praveen Kumar too made their debuts in that test) opening with Murali Vijay ..   There have been few Tamil Nadu batsmen who had opened for   Krish Srikkanth, Woorkeri Venkatraman,  Sadagoppan Ramesh,    

Remember his cavalier knock at Brisbane Gabba on 17.12.2014.   At  12.1 – Dhawan scored a 4 off Johnson completing their first 50-plus opening stand in an away Test ~ coming as it did for the Team after the one at  Lord's 2011.

A leading Aussie Press screamed - warming to conditions more familiar to Goa beachgoers than a Gabba Test match crowd, opener Murali Vijay led a perfectly-placed Indian counterpunch that sapped Steve Smith’s Australians of more than their spirit on day one of the second Commonwealth Bank Test. Having been cruelly denied the single that would have carried him to a deserved century the previous week  in Adelaide, Vijay defied Brisbane’s steamy heat and predictions that the tourists’ batting would fold on a fast, bouncy pitch to post a clinical 144. 

Today comes the news that  Murali Vijay  has called time on his international career to explore "new opportunities in the world of cricket and the business side of it".  

Vijay played 61 Tests, 17 ODIs and nine T20Is in an international career that began in 2008 when he replaced Gautam Gambhir in India's XI.  His last appearance in professional cricket was in the IPL, in Sept 2020.  A classical Test opener, who, when at his peak, had a solid technique and immense patience against the new ball - his ability to leave the ball earned him great praise during India's tour of England in 2014 - Vijay finished with 3982 Test runs in 105 innings at an average of 38.28. He made 12 centuries and 15 half-centuries, with a best of 167 against Australia in Hyderabad in 2013.  

"I am excited to announce that I will be exploring new opportunities in the world of cricket and the business side of it, where I will also continue to participate in the sport that I love and challenge myself in new and different environments," 38-year-old Vijay said in a statement. "I believe this is the next step in my journey as a cricketer and I look forward to the new chapter in my life."  

Vijay was a key member of India's Test squad for a five-year period between 2013 and 2018. From December 2013 to January 2015, when India played all their Test cricket away from home - in South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia - Vijay faced the most balls and scored the second-most runs for the team. He was also one of only three players to average more than 40.  

He had a moniker – ‘the monk’ for the calmness at crease !!   Vijay’s calmness at the crease and selfless self-denial evoked a man of the cloth. The tranquillity of his gaze at the greener tops on overseas soil gave many an Indian fans much-needed assurance; substituting the flashing blade for unglamorous left opposition bowlers frustrated.    

Interestingly, though he used to bowl in local matches, his only victim in Test is Moeen Ali out LBW in the 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, July 17 - 21, 2014,  which India won!  

All the best Murali Vijay – we loved seeing you bat .. .. and he was a good fielder too !!  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th Jan 2023. 

Kakasuran !! - the fearsome crow

 Kakasuran !!  - the fearsome crow 

In our literature, Crows are social birds with tight-knight family structures that roost in huge numbers, so what do you call a group of crows? While most people call a group of birds a flock, crows, in particular, have been known by a number of terms. The most popular of these is known as a murder, but a group of crows can also be called a horde, mob, muster, or parcel.

Remember that in elementary school level, we had a lesson highlighting the intelligence of crows – that water at the jug would be too low.  Crow would collect pebbles and keep putting them inside. The water level would raise and crow would quench its thirst.  Miles away, in an  experiment   published in PLOS One, Scientists determined that crows can not only tell the difference between water and sand - they also understand water displacement.  The test involved tubes containing water and a treat floating on top out of reach. The crows filled the tubes with enough rocks or other heavy items to bring the food within reach. They were observed snapping twigs from trees, then stripping it of bark and leaves, and fashioned the node into a hook. They then used these tools to probe into small spaces for food.

One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret - Never to be told, Eight for a wish, Nine for a kiss, Ten for a bird, Eleven is worse; Twelve for a dastardly curse.  In Britain, this has been old belief and in  1780,  a note in John Brand's Observations on Popular Antiquities on Lincolnshire has this lyric.  A version of the rhyme became familiar to many UK children when it became the theme tune of an ITV children's TV show called Magpie, which ran from 1968 to 1980. The popularity of this version is thought to have displaced the many regional versions that had previously existed.   

Interesting !
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Semparuthi poovu !!

On seeing this picture, you may remember that formula film of RK Selvamani starring Prasanth and Roja .. ..  a story of  the love of two teenagers from different social classes. Raja is the grandson of a rich businesswoman,  settled in London coming to India and falling in love with the sister of a poor fisherman Pandy, who works in Raja's grandmother's house.


In recent times, this flower is touted to have magical health benefits – with some stating that their  petals and leaves promote the development of hair follicles and even get rid of bald spots. Hibiscus flowers are rich in amino acids, a crucial component of keratin, which promotes hair growth.  One web states that Hibiscus flowers can be your magical solution if you are experiencing hair loss, premature greying, thinning, dandruff, frizz, dryness, breakage, or split ends. They have long been cherished in Ayurveda for their ability to promote hair growth!. Their petals and leaves are known to promote the development of hair follicles and even get rid of bald spots.  

Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. The genus is quite large, comprising several hundred species that are native to warm temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world. Member species are renowned for their large, showy flowers and those species are commonly known simply as "hibiscus”. The genus includes both annual and perennial herbaceous plants, as well as woody shrubs and small trees.  Several species are widely cultivated as ornamental plants, notably Hibiscus syriacus and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.  

It is not only great in looks but tastes good too – try having a tea made from hibiscus flowers served both hot and cold. The beverage is known for its red colour, tart flavour, and vitamin C content.  Miles away, a Prof   and Ph.D. candidate   from the Department of Life Sciences at the Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH), have found that the gossypetin in hibiscus activates microglia, the immune cells in the brain. Their research claims that these microglia can scavenge amyloid-beta in the brain to improve cognitive function in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.  

செம்பருத்தி பூவு, சித்திரத்தை போல, அம்பலத்தில் ஆடுதிங்கே  

was a big hit a couple of decades back.  From the movie titled Sembaruthi, its  music was composed by Illayaraja to the lyrics of Vaali.     

A Good morning start with a beautiful flower
With regards – S. Sampathkumar