Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Most Spoken Languages

This shows the grouping of languages spoken by 6.3 billion people.

Looks like it is time to learn Chinese

Monday, June 29, 2015

Spaghetti with Fresh Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

This is one of my favorite dishes;  spaghetti with fresh cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.

This is how I make it:
Step 1 - Cook 1/2 pound of spaghetti noodles cooked as directed on package. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

Step 2 - In a fry pan, add
  • 1/4 c of lemon olive oil 
  • cup of cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • cup (or more) of fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 - 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese 
  • the drained and cooked spaghetti you set aside in the first step
Step 3 - Toss all ingredients in the fry pan and cook until heated.

Optional additions, depending on your mood swing
  • red pepper flakes
  • or artichoke hearts,
  • or capers, 
  • or sliced green stuffed olives,
  • or black olives

The Power of Love

I am a nurse and a Qigong Therapist. Qigong (pronounced chee gung) is one of the branches in Chinese Medicine and is used to help treat many illnesses and help people get onto the path of recovery and wellness. The treatments are done in the energetic layer of the human body where Qi (chee) flows.

When I give a Qigong medical treatment, I tune in and sense this subtle Qi energy. I feel it, see it, hear it - I use all my senses to assess and treat a person's illness during that treatment. Over the years, I've noticed that when I bring in the energy of love during a Qigong treatment, everything changes. I can 'see' (and sense) things change, almost as if it is a magical key that unlocks a new door!

The energy of love is very power. It is the energy that connects and binds the universe. It is not, and should not be constrained. Love is an equal playing field. So if someone loves someone of the same gender, it is still just as valuable as any other type of love. Love is love, and just like in my Qigong treatments, this energy of love makes an impact. It changes and improves the results - we become better.

We should honor, embrace, and encourage that energy to grow. This is why, for me, same sex marriage is a win - it helps allow love to flow freely. We need that in our society.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Plotting a joke on mom

"You go up and hug your mom's leg, then I'll come from behind and hug her, too, and then we can both start to tickle her! OK?"

"OK, but is that before or after I grab that banana?" asks the Bambino.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Maslow and Russia

As part of my nursing training many years ago, we studied Maslow to help guide us toward knowing what and where patients may need help in order for them to move forward. This Maslow model included a pyramid of steps leading towards self actualization.

The first in the foundation is focused on a person's physical needs being met, such as food, water, sleep. Then, you advance to the next step, making sure a person is safe - has shelter, clothing, an education. The next level is love, family, community -  a social structure of support. Self esteem is next, and finally the pinnacle -self actualization.

After learning Maslow's pyramid, I held onto this concept as a kind of road map to help identify not only what patients needed, but also our society. It became a way for me to see which missing pieces may be blocking development and growth.

So, in a recent class at Berkeley on Russia current events, when the professor said, "Russia is a society where everyone has a place to live, has food, is provided an education, and has a social construct of belonging," my immediate thought was the Maslow pyramid. Here we had a whole country that met the foundations for esteem and self actualization, but what we actually see is a country where men are usually dead by the time they are 65 years old, most are alcoholics, and an economy that is behind many third world countries. 

Essentially, most of us would never think that Russia is a place filled with self actualized people.

So, is the Maslow's model wrong? Or is something missing in this Russian social construct? 

For me, it says that civil liberties, privacy, and freedom of expression are a basic foundation that are needed to allow a person to grow and flourish. These freedoms are a vital key for self actualization.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Corner Office

"Look!  I now have a new corner office and fancy shmancy desk!" reports Bambino.

"Next, I'll be getting a cool title, like 'Big Brother'!" 

Friday, June 19, 2015

American Genius - Gates + Jobs

National Geographic has a wonderful new mini-series featuring biographies about geniuses. One of these stories is about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. What resonated for me about this story of Gates and Jobs was a brief comment in the film - "the thing to remember about Steve Jobs is that all the things he is remembered for, happened AFTER he was diagnosed with cancer."

It sounded like this diagnosis and awareness of having cancer help to serve as a catalyst, a type of motivator to encourage Jobs to think outside the box, do things differently, take some risks.

What a different mindset!

A typical business leader usually focuses on quarterly profits and meeting Wall Street's expectations, and most people who receive a diagnosis of cancer often become immersed in fear. But for Jobs, this cancer diagnosis seemed to perpetuate him to take leaps into the unknown. It was after this diagnosis when the idea of an iPod and iPhone developed. It was these two creations which completely changed our way of life.

Here is that mini-series about Gates & Jobs.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Singer-Songwriters 1965 - 1975

This week's class on rock and roll history focused on the singer-songwriters of the Canyons, 1965-1975. The professor began with this quote from Joni Mitchell:

"If you ask anyone in the world where the craziest people are, they will say, the United States.
If you ask anyone in the United states where the craziest people are, they will say, California.
If you ask anyone in California where the craziest people are, they will say Hollywood.
If you ask anyone in Hollywood where the craziest people are, they will say Laurel Canyon."

So Joni Mitchell went to Laurel Canyon, and it was here that became an epicenter for creating music in the 60's.

Some of those artists who found themselves in this epicenter were:
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Graham Nash
  • Stephen Stills
  • David Crosby
  • Neil Young
  • Jim Morrison 
  • Linda Rondstadt
  • Jackson Browne
  • Carole King
  • James Taylor
  • John David Souther
  • Tom Waits
  • Chris Hillman 
  • Roger McGuinn
  • Judee Sill
  • the Mamas and the Papas
  • the Eagles
  • Richie Furay (in Buffalo Springfield and Poco) 
Vanity Fair says it was this place, Laurel Canyon, which became an amalgam of influences that included blues, rock and roll, jazz, Latin, country and western, psychedelia, bluegrass, and folk. It certainly was a forerunner of today's “Americana.”

In this video, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash perform Helplessly Hoping.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Q Cooking 101 - Frying Chicken

The Q's demonstrate their new cooking skills; frying chicken.

You're my hero!

"Pops, you are my hero!" says the Bambino. "I love your stories and how you explain things to me. You're the best dad EVER!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mealtime chatter

Family meals are a time to share what's going on. There seems to be lots of drama and fun things happening in Bambino's world.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Universe vs Solar System vs Cosmos vs Galaxy

What's the difference between the Solar System, Galaxy, Cosmos, and Universe?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pool Time with Surfer Dude

"Come on Gramz, it's time to hit the pool!" shouts the Grandkid

"Sure, the drought has left us with hardly any water, but what we have is enough for a wading pool party!"

"Well, maybe not."

Friday, June 12, 2015

What's Up

I first heard 4 Non Blondes on a new Netflix show called Sense8, a show by the Wackowski's - the same ones who gave us the Matrix. I rather liked what I heard. The group is from San Francisco and this is the song "What's Up".

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Shimmering Northern Lights

One of the most wondrous visual experiences I have had was seeing the northern lights. I was so surprised to see how they shimmered and danced over the entire sky.  This video from National Geographic is a lovely reminder of that moment of "ahhhh".

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Where is Russia Headed?

One of the new OSHER classes at Berkeley this semester is a class on contemporary issues with Russia. This class is taught by Dr. Steven Fish, who specializes in democracy and regime change in developing and post-communist countries. Here are some of the questions being addressed in class:
  • Where is Russia headed? 
  • Is it moving toward a harsh form of authoritarianism or something else? 
  • How may we understand the regime that President Vladimir Putin is constructing in Russia? 
  • How, if at all, is Russia’s Soviet past shaping its current politics? 
  • What challenges does Putin’s Russia pose to the international order and to the interests of Russia’s neighbors, and how might the United States respond to those challenges?
This is an interview with Dr. Fish on CCTV where he discusses the Ukraine-Russia situation.

M. Steven Fish is a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley. His publications include Democracy Derailed in Russia: The Failure of Open Politics, which was the recipient of the Best Book Award of 2006, presented by the Comparative Democratization Section of the American Political Science Association, and Democracy from Scratch: Opposition and Regime in the New Russian Revolution. He comments frequently on Russian affairs on Al Jazeera, the BBC, CNN, CCTV, and other radio and television outlets.

East and West Cultural Differences

Our professor displayed two photos on the screen during his final lecture to help us understand the basic differences between the West and Middle East culture.

"The Western home is filled with windows. This family looks out to the world. The world can even look into the home. Everything is exposed and open" he remarks.

"The Middle East home has very few windows. Life here is inward, private, and centered within. Life is hidden from the outside world. When the family leaves their home, they cover up and continue to shelter and hide themselves from the outside world," he concludes.

This visualization of two different home styles does help sum up and explain the different thought processes and some philosophies between East and West.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Gramz, I've Moved On

Grandparents can sometimes see how a grandkid evolves and changes and becomes someone new. For example, Bambino has LOVED trains, but this week, he hardly even looked at the train. This week he seemed to gravitate to toys that do more than just go on a track. He seemed to like trucks with moving parts.

For example, he has a cherry picker truck with a moveable arm and bucket and suddenly focused on this toy. You can almost see his mind working as he moves the arm in a lot of different positions and angles before he finally uses it to dump or connect with another toy.

 He also likes the trucks with moveable gates and ramps to carry other trucks.

After a long while of putting things together, he engages the trucks to move forward, almost as if he now can create the next event in his mental play.

He is fascinating to watch and observe.  It's fun to see his many changes. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Most Played Song

The song "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers is the most played song in America.  It gets played over 9 million times a year - more than any other song.

What this tells me, is there are a LOT of people teetering on a break-up, or this song is part of the standard issue in all those karaoke machines that show up at company parties.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Finding that Creative Flow

In our Rock and Roll history class, the instructor shared how many of the songs on the Beach Boys album "Pet Sounds" were created by Brian Wilson, at his piano, in the middle of a sandbox, in his living room.  Obviously, I had to check it out to see if it was real....and it is! There is even an old photo of Brian Wilson at his keyboard, in his living room, inside that sandbox.

Pet Sounds, as you may know, is considered one of the best albums ever made. It is number 2 out of the 500 best albums, according to Rolling Stone Magazine.

What I think the insight of this story means is, there are many different ways to find that creative element and ride that wave. For Brian Wilson, he found it in a sandbox in his living room.  For others, they will discover and find in a different manner. But what is more important is to realize that the creative flow of energy is often just waiting to be found and tapped into - and it may be there for ANY of us to find and ride. We just have to discover our own special connecting process.