Posts tagged ‘life’

April 22, 2012

A fascinatingly disturbing thought by Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson- Transcript

I discovered this amazing video today and couldn’t find a transcript so I decided to write my own :) Enjoy!

A fascinatingly disturbing thought by Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson – COMPLETE Transcript

Alright, just a couple of thoughts: one that’s sort of deeply cosmic and another one that is fascinatingly disturbing– I think.

And you’ll be the judge of this.

Consider a couple of fundamental facts that has been gleaned in the past 60 years- that the ingredients- if you had asked your chemistry teacher 50 years ago, once you looked at that mysterious chart of boxes that sat in front of your class, the periodic table of elements- where did those elements come from?

The chemistry teacher would actually not have an answer for you. They’ll say, well, you dig them out of the earth. But that’s not where they come from.

It took modern astrophysics to determine the origin of the chemical elements. We observe stars (and) we know what goes on in their center. They explode, laying bare their contents. And what we have discovered is that the elements of the periodic table -that which we are made of- derive from the actions of stars that have manufactured the elements, exploded (and) scattered their rich guts across the galaxy, contaminating or enriching gas clouds that then form a next generation of stars populated by planets and possibly life.

And so, when you look at the ingredients of the universe, the number one ingredient is hydrogen, next is helium, next is carbon- sorry- hydrogen, helium, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen. Those are the top ingredients in the universe. And you say well, okay, that’s kind of cool. Well, and you look at Earth- cause we like thinking of ourselves as special- we say Oh! we’re special! What are we made of?

Well what’s the number one molecule in the body? It’s water. But what’s water made of? H-2-O. Hydrogen and oxygen. Hm. Hydrogen and oxygen. In fact, if you rank the elements in the human body, with the exception of helium, which is chemically inert- useless to you for any reason other than just to inhale it and sound like Mickey Mouse. You can’t die from helium unless that’s all you breathe. So, number one in the human body is hydrogen. Matches the universe. Number two? Is oxygen. Matches the universe. Number 3? Carbon. Matches the universe. Number 4? Nitrogen. Matches the universe. And for each of us the fifth element- other- is the same in both places. Ok? Other.

So, we learned in the last 50 years that, of course, not only do we exist in this universe. It is the universe itself that exists within us. And had we been made of some rare isotope of bismuth, you’d argue and say hey, we’re something special.

But there are people who are upset by that fact, saying that well does that mean we’re not special? Well, I think it’s special in another kind of way. Because when you look up at the night sky, it’s no longer we’re here and that’s there, it’s that we are part of that. And that association, for me, is actually quite enlightening and enobling and enriching. Like it’s almost spiritual. Looking up at the night sky and finding a sense of belonging, given what we’ve learned about the night sky.

And so now we ask ourselves- are we alone in the universe? We’re made of the most common ingredients there are. And our chemistry is based on carbon. Carbon is the most chemically active ingredient in the entire periodic table. If you were to find a chemistry on which to base something complex called life, you would base it on carbon. Carbon is like the 4th most abundant ingredient in the universe. We’re not rare. You can make more molecules out of carbon than you can all other kinds of molecules combined.

So, if we ask ourselves: are we alone in the universe? It would be, in spite of my diatribe about UFOs, I tell you in the same breath that it would be inexcusably egocentric to suggest that we are alone in the cosmos. The chemistry is too rich to declare that, the universe too vast. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. There are more stars in the universe than all the sounds and words ever uttered by all humans who have ever lived. To say we’re alone in the universe… no, we haven’t found life outside of earth, yet. We’re looking- haven’t looked very far, yet. Galaxy is this big. We looked about that far. But we’re looking.

And how about life on earth? How- is it hard to form? Just ’cause we don’t know how to do it in the lab, doesn’t mean nature had problems. So it may be, given that information- that given the right ingredients- which are everywhere, life may be inevitable. An inevitable consequence of complex chemistry.

If that’s the case, we look around our own solar system. We look at Mars- all the evidence suggest that mars was once a wet, fertile place. An oasis. There are dry river beds and flood plains and river deltas and meandering rivers and it’s all bone dried out. Something bad happened on Mars. Some knobs got turned in its environment that left it the way it is right now. Some bad knobs got turned on Venus, too.  Runaway greenhouse effect- you saw the clip on that. Nine hundred degrees farenheit on Venus- something knobs got turned there, too.

People say why spend money up there when we can spend money down here.  Because, up there, we might learn something about down here, okay. I don’t want a runaway greenhouse effect down here. Venus is the best example in the solar system of a planet gone bad. Let’s learn about that, first.

So, it turns out that the moment that asteroids impact- when they hit- (they) can cast rocks in their surrounding areas into space with escape velocity. So they never come back to the planet from which it was launched. If Mars was wet and fertile before Earth was, as all evidence suggests, and if Mars had life before Earth had life, It is possible for there to have been bacterial stowaways in the nooks and crannies of the rocks that were cast into space.

This hardy bacteria that we already know exists on Earth. So by extreme temperatures, pressures, freeze dry- with constituted radiation- the hostile environment of space would be nothing to some of these bacteria. It may be that life on Earth was seeded by bacterial stowaways on rocks that were cast free from mars. This is a plausible scenario that is called panspermia- the transference of life from one planet to the next. If that’s the case, that makes all of us descendants of Martians.

Now let me give you a disturbing thought- a fascinatingly disturbing thought and I will leave you on that note.

If you look at the closest genetic relative to human beings- the chimpanzees- we share like 98+% identical DNA, we are smarter than a chimpanzee.  Let’s invent a measure of intelligence that make humans unique. Let’s say intelligence is your ability to compose poetry, symphonies, do art, math and science, let’s say. Let’s make that as the arbitrary definition of intelligence for the moment. Chimps can’t do any of that. Yet we share 98/99% identical DNA. The most brilliant chimp there ever was, maybe can do sign language. Well, our toddlers can do that. Toddlers. So, here’s what concerns me deeply. Deeply.

Everything that we are, that distinguishes us from chimps, emerges from that 1% difference in DNA. It has to because that’s the difference. The Hubble telescope, the grand… that’s in that 1%. Maybe, everything that we are that is not the chimp is not as smart compared to the chimp as we tell ourselves it is. Maybe the difference between constructing and launching a Hubble telescope and a chimp combining two finger motions as sign language- maybe that difference is not all that great. We tell ourselves it is. Just the same way we label our books optical illusions. We tell ourselves it’s a lot. Maybe it’s almost nothing.

How would we decide that? Imagine another life form. That’s 1% different from us. In the direction that we are different from the chimp. Think about that. We have 1% difference and we are building the Hubble telescope. Go another 1%. What are we to they? We would be drooling, blithering idiots in their presence. That’s what we would be.

They would take Stephen Hawking and roll him in front of their primate researchers and say well this one is like the most brilliant among them ’cause he can sorta do astrophysics in his head. Aw. Isn’t that cute. Little Johnny can do that too. Well that’s so cute. In fact, Johnny just did that… let me just get it… it’s on the refrigerator door. Here it is. He did it in his elementary school class. Think about how smart they would be. Quantum mechanics would be intuitive to their toddlers. Whole symphonies would be written by their children. And like I said, just put up on the refrigerator door- the way our pasta collages are on our refrigerator doors.

So, the notion that we’re gonna find some intelligent life and have a conversation with it? When was the last time you stopped to have a conversation with a worm? Or a bird? Well, you might have had a conversation but I don’t think you expected an answer, alright. So, we don’t have conversations with any other species on earth with whom we have DNA in common. To believe that some intelligent other species is gonna be interested in us, enough to have a conversation, they’ll look at our Hubble telescope and say, “isn’t that quaint… look at what they’re doing.”

So, I lay awake at nights wondering whether we as a species are simply too stupid to figure out the universe that we’re investigating. And maybe we need some other species 1% smarter than we are for, which string theory would be intuitive, for which all the greatest mysteries of the universe… from dark matter, dark energy, the origins of life, and all the frontiers of our thought would be something that they would just self intuit.

I’m jealous of that possibility because I want to be around for those discoveries.

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April 19, 2012

Why life as a twenty something is pretty awesome.

I love taking pictures at the airport right before a vacation because I know that when I look back at my vacation pictures, that’s the picture I’ll want to relive most.

And heres why.

The endless preparation is behind me. No more hotel reviews to read, the search for the cheapest, fastest flight is over and my bags are packed and checked in. I’ve crossed off all the items on my to-pack list, I’m done with the frantic last minute shopping runs. And perhaps the most dreaded of all: my bags are under the luggage weight limit! I don’t know about you but I’m more afraid of the scale at the check-in counter than the one in my washroom.

And while I’m no fan of sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours on end, I know that at the other end of that flight lies a great adventure. That is what is so special about the airport moment: anything is possible beyond it. But so often we focus on the check in lines, the security lines, the washroom lines, the crowds of people and the overpriced airport food that we forget about the exciting journey we’re about to embark on.

Being a twenty something is a lot like that airport moment.

We’ve put ourselves through years and years of school, went to saturday morning heritage classes and took some form of extracurricular activity to become a well rounded person.

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And while most of us are still unsure of where life our lives are headed, we have a vague idea of what we want and know that the road to wherever that is will be filled with lots of laughs and tears. Sometimes more of the latter than the former.

But that’s ok because if airport moments and vacations are anything to go by, I know that at the end of this vacation we call life, the memories I’ll most want to relive are these. Because it encompasses all the work we put in to get here and the anticipation of all the possibilities that lie ahead.

We’ll look back at these 20 something years and wonder why we worried so much. Because everything turned out alright. Because the decisions we made were the right ones. Because we ended up with the right people. And because these really were the good old days.

March 29, 2012

Is this what YOU want to be remembered by?

I read the following quote somewhere on the Internet a couple of weeks ago.

“In 100 years, there will be 500 million profiles on Facebook. Of dead people.”

And then I wrote a really morbid post. In fact, it was so morbid that if I had hit publish, my mom would’ve probably called me within minutes and threatened to disown me if I didn’t delete it. Ya. It was that bad y’all.

So I sat on it. And did what I always do: try to find a positive twist. And find I did.

Instead of thinking of 500 million profiles of dead people, why not use different words.

When you change your language (and therefore the framework with which you approach something), you change everything.

So, yes, it’d still be odd to have “friends” in the other world on Facebook. But wouldn’t it be nice if Facebook, other social networking sites and the Internet as a whole created a memory online. Consolidating all our online selves. Once people pass on in real life. Somehow.

Ok. So let me start from the beginning.

I’ve never met either of my grandfathers. They both passed away long before I was even born.

My mom always tells me that I’m a lot like her father. That he was a bookworm, too. When I visited my uncle’s home in Sri Lanka in 2004, I was so excited to find that he had kept some of my grandfather’s books. (My grandfather had owned literally rooms of books so my uncle couldn’t keep them all and had to donate most of the books to a library.)

I jumped up and down with glee when I first saw the collection. Ya. Books excite me that much. And then I opened the first book to discover there were swordfish bugs.** Or those silver bugs that eat paper and make old books their home. (**Note: I may or may not have just made up swordfish bugs. There is such a thing, right?)

Now I’m all about finding out more about my grandfather through his love of books and the kinds that he read and chose to line his bookcases with, but bugs will stop that quest. In a heart beat.

Now fast forward to today. Imagine he had had a list of fav books on amazon or better yet! Imagine he had written a blog.

I could easily click-clickity away without traveling thousands of miles or back in time to find out everything he believed in. Everything he was, breathed, liked, thought. Everything he wanted to share.

And that’s what is so cool about the future of the Internet, Facebook, Blogging, Vlogging.

Our kids and their kids and every future generation will have not only pictures of their ancestors but videos and words and thoughts and anything else we decide to put out there.

The Internet makes it possible for every kid in the future to have something that was only available for the descendants of:

(a) Einstein, Charles Dickens, any other published author

and

(b) famous actors/actresses, royal families and otherwise wealthy folk

Yup, you’ve guessed it. I’m suggesting that not only is the Internet making it possible for us to break down the barriers of entry with WordPress (the written word) and YouTube (videos) and the like today, but that it will also inevitably allow us to leave behind legacies which was an option only available to the elite few in the past.

Now imagine that.

This puts blogging and vlogging in a whole new light.

And our general online presence.

Everything we put online will live on, long after we’re gone. So every time you hit post, share or publish, ask yourself this: Is this what I want to be remembered by?

And my message to Facebook is this: find a way not to create an online graveyard but a memorial yard. Or something like that. And ensure that all “friends” links of the people who have passed on is disabled along with their walls. Basically find a way to turn a Facebook profile into an online book. One that cannot be changed in any way. But one that can be pulled off the proverbial shelf and read by anyone. Or wait. Maybe not anyone. Shouldn’t Facebook have an option for this somewhere? Kinda like a donor card.

No. Wait.

The remnants of the morbid post I deleted are seeping into this one. Which could only mean one thing: I should stop writing.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for trusting me with your time. If I could, I’d give you some food. (like these beautiful cupcakes)

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But I can’t. So hopefully, I’ve given you some food for thought :)

Have a happy happy day :)

March 12, 2012

Home. Away from home.

As much as you want to experience everything and absorb every ounce of your new host country, sometimes you just want to be home. Even if it is just for a weekend.

But the flight from Seoul to Toronto is 14 hours. Spending 28 hours in a plane for less than 20 hours at home isn’t feasible nor smart.

Enter the greatest invention on the planet: the American base.

Ok so you might be thinking: really? How can you betray and turn your back on your fellow Canadians. And to that, I have this to say:

As much as we hate to admit it, Canada is like America’s little brother. Sure when we’re home we don’t think much of each other. But on the other side of the planet? We’re from the same family. We connect on a level that only siblings can. We bond.

I may not be American. But Taco bell and Subway and Starbucks and People magazine and ouchless hair ties and menus in English spell home for me. That’s exactly what the American base in Daegu is like. That and more.

After 4 long months, I had taco bell for the first time. My fav order at taco bell –fries supreme, no beef, no beans, extra cheese and green onions with 4 packs of hot sauce and 4 packs of mild sauce- doesn’t exist in the American Taco Bell. Apparently, fries at Taco Bell is strictly a Canadian thing. That blew my mind. And made a pretty strong case for why Canadia may be the cooler brother. Just sayin ;)

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Anyway, I ordered a quesadilla and was just happy to be eating non sweet bread with normal, stringy, yummy cheese.

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And then we went shopping. I got so excited when I saw ENGLISH magazines, ENGLISH books, ENGLISH labels. ENGLISH everywhere. On everything. Ok. So I got a little more than excited.

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And stocked up on toiletries. Things I didn’t think I’d see for a long time.

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Macadamia nut cookies from Subway? And a tall latte sprinkled with a generous layer of cinnamon from Starbucks? Yes, please!

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Ok, so Subways and Starbucks are all over Korea. But sitting in the one on base was different. Here’s why: although you’re drinking and eating the same stuff, the atmosphere in a Korean Starbucks is notably different. You are usually the only non-Korean. And while you might be thinking duh, you’re in Korea Einstein, like I said before, it’s just nice to feel like you’re home. Once in a while.

As I was sitting in my American Starbucks in Korea on an American base, I noticed this:

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Even the sidewalks and pole things on the base is the same as back home! How awesome is that!?

But perhaps the thing that blew my mind/impressed me the most was the power outlets in my friend’s apartment. They were all North American! With two flat prongs instead of the two rounded prongs found in Korea.

She even had a normal North American washroom where the shower area is separate from the rest of the washroom. And therefore the whole washroom doesn’t get wet every time you shower.

Living in a foreign country with a foreign culture and people… where you’re notably foreigner, is fascinating. No two days are the same and you’re always learning, always excited about something new you just discovered.

But between it all, you miss home. You miss the little things. Like being able to understand menus and labels. The familiar taste of fastfood.  Being able to speak English without the oscar worthy acting performance.

And it’s nice to have somewhere you can go where it’s just like home. Away from home.

March 7, 2012

4 o’clock

For most of my life 4 o clock meant… Oprah show time!

Obviously there were detours here and there.

In elementary school, it meant end of track and field practice.
In high school, it meant end of detention.
In university, it meant nap time.
In my first job, it meant testing time.
In my second job, it meant half of my day was over.
In my third job, it meant meeting time.

And now. Now, it means this.

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February 8, 2012

My Stance on Diets

I read an article on the HBR blog today and it got me thinking.

Somewhere, my grade 6 teacher is proud of me for not being a passive reader and agreeing with what I’ve just read but instead engaging and bringing out my critical thinking skills and you know, all that other stuff they teach you in grade 6.

Anyway, the article was about going offline for a set period of time or, in other words, going on an information diet. And while I’m sold on most things on the HBR Blog, (because lets be real, anything with the word Harvard in it probably shouldn’t be disputed) I really couldn’t disagree with this article more.

I don’t believe in diets of any kind.

The author argues that the “challenge is to find an approach that’s more balanced and healthy” I say that we don’t need to find it.

I think information, like food, should be consumed at one’s leisure. When you’re hungry. And you should stop when you’re satisfied. Not based on some preconceived “norm”. And definitely not based on years of research by people in shiny white lab coats.

Of course this all dips into my other beliefs about life… like what’s the point of holding back now so that our lives are more “comfortable” later on. I’d rather live 40 exciting years than 80 boring years. But that’s me. I’d opt for quality over quantity any day.

I really don’t have much else to say. I just felt compelled to say something having read this article because I felt like if I didn’t, that soon they’ll bring out the calorie counter for information. Based on age and IQ instead of age and height. Or something.

We all need to stop worrying about too little of this and too much of that. And just go with the flow. Do what feels right.

January 8, 2012

2 Months, 2 Homes: Life. Is. Good.

Exactly 2 months ago today, I arrived in Daegu, South Korea.

I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting from this place. All I knew was that it was going to be new and exciting. And that’s usually enough to sell me on something.

And boy, what a ride it has been. From climbing mountains to my first Korean wedding to CSI Korea: the burgled apartment edition to Hello Kitty Cafe to becoming! a! blogger! to this-is-my-42nd-post!!! to making best friends to Pepero day to the most adorable children ever to eating lots of kimchi… And I could go on forever…

But if you’ve been reading my blog (or receiving annoying panic-y calls) not all of it has been so peachy.

I had my first I’m so done with this place and I need to bounce asap moment a couple of days ago.

I had just gotten back from a week in sunny Sri Lanka and Singapore with family and friends to cold, freezing Korea. And everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong in the span of 2 days.

Anyway, as I write this, I’m happy. I’m sitting in my warm, clean new apartment that has more or less consistent hot water (still not perfect but I can manage). NO balcony. Or windows big enough for any human being to climb through. I really can’t complain.

Life. Is. Good.

P.S. My new apartment has a shoe closet even bigger than the last one. I think the universe is trying to speak to me.

P.P.S. So Mr. Burglar guy took my little pouch of sd cards. And the sd to usb convertor thing I had in it. I have a mac which does not have a sd slot. So I kinda can’t upload pics from Sri Lanka until I get another one. I will get on it as soon as I do!

December 9, 2011

Baby Blankets: the edible kind & the wearable kind

Our director is all about stocking up the teacher’s kitchen with lots of goodies. Like the other day, we had these bun things stuffed with vegetables. No I’m not the kind of girl who gets excited about buns. Or vegetables. And this stuff doesn’t even look appetizing.
But what I ALL ABOUT about is microwaveable stuff. Especially yummy microwaveable stuff. This bun Is the mostest softest thing you’ll ever eat. Its like an edible baby blanket.  I know that probably created some weird imagery in your mind. But I don’t know how else to describe it. If you haven’t realized already, my vocabulary isn’t that extensive. Or scholar-like. My point is, this stuff is delicious. Which brings me to my next point…

I feel like family here. So our director used to get pork/beef stuff for the other teachers… until they realized they clearly picked the fussiest eater on earth to add to the team (i.e me). So the logical thing to do would be to buy meat stuff for the other teachers… and vege stuff for me, right? Wrong. The other teachers eat vege too. (like with that bun stuffed with vegetables instance)

Just when I thought it was just my director being all accommodating, Kayla has also jumped on the bandwagon. Pretty much everything we have during school hours is Tia-atarian. And I feel bad. And I’m sure there will come a point where they’ll be like forget Tia and her fussiness. But until then? Until then, I’m gonna bask in all this LOVE.

Speaking of love, Kayla told us about this really fuzzy and soft cardigan that she had found.  That was a Saturday. Tuesday most of the teachers had one, each in a different colour. And last week? Last week I got mine. It actually does feel like a baby blanket… and its SO warm. and SO soft.
I feel like they’ve officially initiated me into their inner circle. That’s riiiiiiiiight guys. I’m one of them now. OFFICIALLY.
Do the happy dance.
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December 9, 2011

Live Simply so others can Simply Live.

Kayla: your new washing machine will be delivered tomorrow.
Me: thankyoythankyouthankyou!
Director: but Tia, (in his most serious voice) it’s not pink.

Making fun of Tia and her obsessions transcends all kinds of barriers. Even language ones.

BUT I DON’T CARE. I don’t have to handwash any more. Or bake scones. Or churn butter. Or pop out 39 children.

On a sorta related note, let me get all reflectiverandeflection-ist for a second. So before my washing machine broke, I really wasn’t looking forward to doing laundry. (not that I look forward to looking laundry at all) but I reallyreally wasn’t looking forward to it. Why you ask? Because dryers are kind of a rarity here in Korea. And that means hanging stuff up. one.by.one. None of this bearhug big bundle of clothes to move from washer to dryer in one swift motion. (which I’m awesome at by the way)

But it’s funny. This thing called life. And it finds its way of putting you in your place.

While I wasn’t looking forward to doing laundry before, I didnt think for a second that ATLEAST I dont have to handwash stuff. Take it from me, hanging up stuff once its washed doesnt even compare to manually washing 3 weeks worth of clothing. (not that I actually did… but let’s pretend I did for the sake of this comparison)

And now? Now I’m just really thankful I will have a working washing machine.

Be thankful. Count your blessings. And make the most of it… because… it could be worse.

Cheers to the freakin’ weekend! And washing machines! And the century we live in!

Happy Friday!!

Speaking of Fridays, 5 fridays ago… I was home. In Toronto. At my going away party. WITH ALL THIS YUMMINESS. Each of them arrived with dessert. Or a book. Or both.

I know I’m not the greatest with words. Even worse at talking about my feelings, but I miss all of you. And I’ve watched your “what I’ll miss about Tia” videos at least 395 times. Each. But who’s keeping count…

Andddd on that note, here are some cheesey lyrics. BECAUSE I CAN.

It’s been too long and I’m lost without you
What am I gonna do?
Said I been needin’ you, wantin’ you
Wonderin’ if you’re the same and who’s been with you
Is your heart still mine?
I wanna cry sometimes
I miss you

So just as I was about to hit publish on this already hijacked post, a friend sent me this link:

Go hug your mom. And tell her how much you love her.

Speaking of moms, I’ll be seeing mine at the end of this month!

I’m trying to book my flights for Sri Lanka… And I’m looking at 18+ hours of travel. From TAE to CMB with Beijing and Singapore as transits. I’m pretty sure booking flights to the other side of the world would be easier. Or the moon. I’m thiiiiiiiis close to pulling my hair out. one.by.one.

Thank you for flying tiainkorea airlines, our sincerest apologies for the many detours and pitstops. Please come again!

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November 23, 2011

Dancing in the Kitchen, Crack Cake and Best Friends

Somerfield’s Cadbury Gateau

We had a ritual. No, ritual isn’t even the right word. It was more like a well-choreographed, synchronized dance. We all knew exactly what to do. And somehow, 30 seconds after getting home from Somerfield’s, the three of us would sit around the table. in silence. To enjoy two of life’s simplest pleasures: best Friends. and cake.

It wasn’t just any cake. We called it crack cake. Layers of melted chocolate between slices of warm cake and… a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

It was so addictive. And so good.

And today. Today a conversation about samosas somehow turned into a conversation about our beloved cake.

 

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