26 April 2008

Easter Bread

During Easter, it is common sight to be given easter eggs. However, it is more common to see the kulich, or Easter bread, a type of sweet Russian bread topped with icing sugar and colourful candies.

The kulich, or Easter bread. Note the 'ХВ' marking on top.

In many European countries, there are various traditions surrounding the use of bread during the Easter holiday.

Kulich (Russian for 'Easter cake') is a kind of Easter bread, traditional in the Orthodox Christian faith – Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine etc.

Kulich sold at the confectionary.

Traditionally during the Easter service, the kulich, which has been put into a basket and decorated with colourful flowers, is blessed by the priest. Leftover kulich that isn't blessed is eaten with Paskha (Russian for 'Easter') for dessert. Blessed kulich is eaten before breakfast each day.

Kulich sold at the supermarket.

It is baked in tall, cylindrical tins, and when cooled is decorated with white icing (which is slightly drizzled down the sides), colourful flowers, and the Cyrillic alphabets ХВ (Khristos Vaskresye greeting, Russian for 'Christ is Risen') is decorated on the side. Kulich is only eaten during the 40 days after Paskha until Pentecost.

One of the many varieties of kulich toppings.

Many food stores and confectionaries sold this particular bread on this day. Kulich of varying sizes, shapes and colours as well as decorations replaced the common breads on their shelves.

Kulich sold by the roadside.

I got my own kulich today. I must say, it was one of the best tasting bread I've ever tried in Russia. It's interior was soft and filled with sweet raisins. A humble bread but highly appetising.

My very own kulich.

20 April 2008


The guava fruit is edible, round to pear-shaped, from 3-10 cm in diameter. It has a thin delicate rind, pale green to yellow at maturity in some species, pink to red in others, a creamy white or orange-salmon flesh with many small hard seeds, and a strong, characteristic aroma that is hard to describe.

Green guava – the whole fruit is edible.

The whole fruit is edible, from seeds to rind, but many people choose to cut out the middle which contains hard seeds embedded in the surrounding pulp. The pulp is sweetest and most delicious in the center, with the outer layer being sour and gritty like young pears, while the peel (fruit) is sour in taste but richest in phytochemicals; it is usually discarded but can be eaten as an enriched source of essential nutrients and polyphenols.

In short, the guava is an obscure tropical food that's subtly acidic, with sweetness that intensifies as you eat your way to the center.

Why it's healthy:
Guava has a higher concentration of lycopene – an antioxidant that fights prostate cancer – than any other plant fruit, includint tomatoes and watermelon.

In addition, 1 cup of the stuff provides 687 milligrams of potassium, which is 62 percent more than you'll find in a medium banana. And guava may be the ultimate high-fiber food: There's almost 8 grams of fiber in every cup.

Guavas are often considered superfruits, being rich in vitamins A and C, omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and especially high levels of dietary fiber. Containing about half the amount (37 mg per 100 g) of vitamin C as a raw orange, a single strawberry guava also has good levels of the dietary minerals, potassium and magnesium, and otherwise a broad, low-calorie profile of essential nutrients. Common guava has generally a more diverse and dense nutrient content, including extraordinary richness of vitamin C (228 mg per 100 g).

Guavas contain both major classes of antioxidant pigments – carotenoids and polyphenols, giving them relatively high dietary antioxidant value among plant foods.

How to eat it:
Down the entire fruit, from the rind to the seeds. It's all edible – and nutritious. The rind alone has more vitamin C than you'd find in the flesh of an orange. You can score guava in the produce section of higher-end supermarkets or tropical fruit stalls.

15 April 2008

Soviet Propaganda

Lenin created the first truly modern propaganda machine, and its most colourful, dramatic and original form was the poster.

"For the Motherland! For Stalin! For the World! For Communism!"

Through it, the greatest artists of the time proclaimed government policies, asked for support, and demanded greater efforts – all with the goal of building Soviet power.

"Under the banner of Lenin, under the leadership of Stalin – Forward, to the Victory of Communism!"

Soviet posters are a relatively new area of collecting as they were virtually unavailable in the West until Perestroika. With the decline of Communism, there is more interest than ever in the images from this bold social experiment.

"Under the leadership of the Great Stalin – Forward to Communism!"

Although most Soviet posters were issued in editions of 5000 to 50000, they are extremely rare today. The primary reason is that most posters – as intended – were posted, and survived only weeks or months. They usually were recycled or lost due to the ravages of war or neglect, while others were destroyed for political reasons.

"In countries of Capitalism – Road of Talent; In countries of Socialism – Road to Talents!"

The Soviet art of propaganda falls into six main periods:

The Bolshevik Era (1917-1921) was a life and death struggle for the Bolsheviks and their ideology. Helping to fight enemies within and without, the early Soviet poster was remarkable for its revolutionary fervour and powerful symbolism.

"To whom does the national income go? In capitalist countries, the lion's share goes to the exploiters; In USSR – the working class."

The New Economic Policy (1921-1927) was a period of recovery and relative freedom for a country ravaged by war, famine and bitter discontent. The commercial and film posters of the 'Roaring Twenties' were remarkable for their avant-garde constructivist style.

"Don't be naughty!" – A Soviet officer (holding a book on Soviet WWII victory) to a malicious, atomic-bomb-wielding, American Uncle Sam.

The First and Second Five Year Plans (1928-1937) were Stalin's draconian push to convert Russia into a fully communist industrialised power. The great photomontage posters of the First Five Year plan echoed the heroic side of this effort, only to be followed by the purges of the late '30s and the retreat from avant-garde art in the Second Plan period.

"Nations of the world do not want the recurrences of disasters of war."

The Great Patriotic War (WWII) (1939-1945) brought a revival of the great age of the Bolshevik poster. The Soviet struggle for survival forced a return to symbolism that fanned the patriotic fires of the heartland.

"The sniper hits from afar, but always for sure!"

The Cold War (1946-1984) brought a return to 'Social Realism', with utopian views of Russia and Joseph Stalin predominating. In its middle years, the best images featured Vietnam and the space race. As Perestroika (1984-present) dawned, the most powerful images were protest posters created and posted at great personal risk.

"USSR – Long live the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union!"

10 April 2008

Four Seasons

A new life with blossoming buds.


Enduring through the mid-year heat.


Wilting as the late sun sets.


Gone with the chilling winds.


05 April 2008

Sexual Disorders

Have you ever had trouble making love to your partner? Was your sexual experience an unpleasant one? Have you ever had embarrassing cravings for unnatural sex? Do you feel ashamed of your own sexual organ?

Many people experience sexual disorders. Still considered a taboo, most people prefer not to discuss their shame and rather opt to suffer in silence. Therefore, allow me to shed some light on this for the good of everyone.

Sexual disorders cover a wide range of aetiological factors and causes, notably the main groups being psychogenic and organic. However, in this article only the psychogenic causes will be discussed.

Part 1: Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction covers the various ways in which an individual is unable to participate in a sexual relationship as he or she would wish. There may be lack of interest, lack of enjoyment, failure of the physiological responses necessary for effective sexual interaction (e.g. erection), or inability to control or experience orgasm.

Something keeping you from having good sex?

Lack or loss of sexual desire:
Loss of sexual desire is the principal problem and is not secondary to other sexual difficulties, such as erectile failure or dyspareunia. Lack of sexual desire does not preclude sexual enjoyment or arousal, but makes the initiation of sexual activity less likely. This Includes frigidity (female impotence), and hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

Sexual aversion:
The prospect of sexual interaction with a partner is associated with strong negative feelings and produces sufficient fear or anxiety that sexual activity is avoided.

Lack of sexual enjoyment:
Sexual responses occur normally and orgasm is experienced, but there is a lack of appropriate pleasure. This complaint is much more common in women than in men. This includes anhedonia (absense of sexual pleasure).

Failure of genital response:
In men, the principal problem is erectile dysfunction, i.e. difficulty in developing or maintaining an erection suitable for satisfactory intercourse. If erection occurs normally in certain situations, e.g. during masturbation or sleep or with a different partner, the causation is likely to be psychogenic. Otherwise, the correct diagnosis of nonorganic erectile dysfunction may depend on special investigations (e.g. measurement of nocturnal penile tumescence) or the response to psychological treatment.

In women, the principal problem is vaginal dryness or failure of lubrication. The cause can be psychogenic or pathological (e.g. infection) or estrogen deficiency (e.g. postmenopausal). It is unusual for women to complain primarily of vaginal dryness except as a symptom of postmenopausal estrogen deficiency. This Includes female sexual arousal disorder, male erectile disorder, and psychogenic impotence.

Orgasmic dysfunction:
Orgasm either does not occur or is markedly delayed. This may be situational (i.e. occur only in certain situations), in which case aetiology is likely to be psychogenic, or invariable, when physical or constitutional factors cannot be easily excluded except by a positive response to psychological treatment. Orgasmic dysfunction is more common in women than in men. This Includes inhibited orgasm (for both male and female), and psychogenic anorgasmy.

Premature ejaculation:
The inability to control ejaculation sufficiently for both partners to enjoy sexual interaction. In severe cases, ejaculation may occur before vaginal entry or in the absence of an erection. Premature ejaculation is unlikely to be of organic origin but can occur as a psychological reaction to organic impairment, e.g. erectile failure or pain. Ejaculation may also appear to be premature if erection requires prolonged stimulation, causing the time interval between satisfactory erection and ejaculation to be shortened; the primary problem in such a case is delayed erection.

Nonorganic vaginismus:
Spasm of the muscles that surround the vagina, causing occlusion of the vaginal opening. Penile entry is either impossible or painful. Vaginismus may be a secondary reaction to some local cause of pain, in which case this category should not be used.
This includes psychogenic vaginismus.

Nonorganic dyspareunia:
Dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse) occurs in both women and men. It can often be attributed to a local pathological condition and should then be appropriately categorised. In some cases, however, no obvious cause is apparent and emotional factors may be important. This category is to be used only if there is no other more primary sexual dysfunction (e.g. vaginismus or vaginal dryness). This includes psychogenic dyspareunia.

Excessive sexual drive:
Both men and women may occasionally complain of excessive sexual drive as a problem is its own right, usually during late teenage or early adulthood. When the excessive sexual drive is secondary to an affective disorder or when it occurs during the early stages of dementia, the underlying disorder should be coded. This includes nymphomania (excessive sexual impulse in female), and satyriasis (excessive sexual impulse in male).

Part 2: Abnormal Sexual Preference, Paraphilia

Paraphilia is a term that describes a family of persistent, intense fantasies, aberrant urges, or behaviors involving sexual arousal to nonhuman objects, pain or humiliation experienced by oneself or one's partner, children, or nonconsenting individuals or unsuitable partners.

The recurrent urge or behavior to expose one's genitals to an unsuspecting person. Can also be the recurrent urge or behavior to perform sexual acts in a public place, or in view of unsuspecting persons.

Exhibitionism; cartoon of flasher.

The use of inanimate objects to gain sexual excitement. Partialism refers to fetishes specifically involving nonsexual parts of the body.

The recurrent urges of behavior of touching or rubbing against a nonconsenting person.

Frotteurism; man grabbing girl's behind.

The sexual attraction to prepubescent or peripubescent children.

Sexual masochism:
The recurrent urge or behavior of wanting to be humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer for sexual pleasure.

Sexual sadism:
The recurrent urge or behavior involving acts in which the pain or humiliation of a person is sexually exciting.

Transvestic fetishism:
A sexual attraction towards the clothing of the opposite gender.

The recurrent urge or behavior to observe an unsuspecting person who is naked, disrobing or engaging in sexual activities, or may not be sexual in nature at all.

Other rarer paraphilias include telephone scatalogia (obscene phone calls), necrophilia (corpses), partialism (exclusive focus on one part of the body), zoophilia (animals), coprophilia (feces), klismaphilia (enemas), urophilia (urine), emetophilia (vomit).

Part 3: Sexual Disorientation

Homosexuality refers to erotic attraction, predisposition, or activity, including sexual congress, between individuals of the same sex, including gays and lesbians.

The practice of dressing or masquerading in the clothes of the opposite sex; especially the adoption of feminine mannerisms and costume by a male.

The desire to change one's anatomic sexual characteristics to conform physically with one's perception of self as a member of the opposite sex.

Do you have an identity crisis?

Well, I guess if you suffer from any of the disorders above, my advice is: go see a shrink or psychiatrist, or admit yourself into a mental hospital and get some serious help!

Enjoy sex! Play safe!

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