Monday, May 4, 2015

And another one bites the dust (aka Elastic Heart)

I was quite taken by this song, Elastic Heart, by Sia, when I first heard it. I was moved by the clarity of her tone and how it seemed to resonate and touch my inner core. Then I saw the official video and had a totally different reaction to the song. The video is a visual representation of two Sia's playing off and pushing against each other, perhaps male versus female expectations? or maybe past versus future? Naturally, I then had to look up the lyrics to get more clarity into what the artist is saying. I was again taken in another new direction - this time realizing it's a break-up song!  I must say, Sia (who no longer shows her face) is quite an eclectic artist.

Lyrics to the "Elastic Heart" by Sia 
And another one bites the dust
Oh why can I not conquer love?
And I might have thought that we were one
Wanted to fight this war without weapons

And I wanted it, I wanted it bad
But there were so many red flags
Now another one bites the dust
Yeah, let's be clear, I'll trust no one

You did not break me
I'm still fighting for peace

Well, I've got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade - it might be too sharp
I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard,
Yeah, I may snap and I move fast
But you won't see me fall apart
'Cause I've got an elastic heart

I've got an elastic heart
Yeah, I've got an elastic heart

And I will stay up through the night
Let's be clear, won't close my eyes
And I know that I can survive
I'll walk through fire to save my life

And I want it, I want my life so bad
I'm doing everything I can
Then another one bites the dust
It's hard to lose a chosen one

You did not break me
(You did not break me, no)
I'm still fighting for peace

Well, I've got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade - it might be too sharp
I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard,
Yeah, I may snap and I move fast
But you won't see me fall apart
'Cause I've got an elastic heart

I've got an elastic heart

Nothin' but net

"Look what Gramps brought me from Kansas!" shouts the Grandkid. "Basketball stuff!"

"We can now play some "One-on-One", or "Twenty-one", or "HORSE", or "Around the World" inside our house.  

"Gramps is teaching me all these games and other sports, too. We are having fun, fun, fun!"

It's Charlotte, not Stockard

Did you see the news? Prince William and Princess Kate named their new daughter Charlotte. So if you were expecting her to be named after Stockard Channing, you are out of luck.

I thought Stockard was kind of a weird name for a girl, but if the royal couple was looking for a name representing a strong female lead character from a movie or play, this name may be on their list.  But it looks like they stuck to the more traditional list of names, choosing the feminine form of Charles - the grandpa.

But it made me wonder, what parent would name their daughter Stockard, a name so close to "stock yard"?  The tauntings in the playground would either make a person tough, or crush them to pieces. So I looked up Stockard Channing in Wikipedia. You will be pleased to know that  Stockard Channing's parents gave her the name of Susan Antonia Williams Stockard. Later, she married a man by the name of Walter Channing, got divorced, and then amalgamated her name to become Stockard Channing. By then, she was an adult and not subject to playground beatings.

So now there is a new English royal, she was born, she was named, and we can go about our normal life again.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


"Gramz, what are you doing?" asks the grandkid.

"I am so embarrassed!"

"Are you done yet? Can we go?"

Worlds Best Teacher

Just in case you missed this on PBS, this is some information on a teacher who received an award for being the best teacher in the WORLD! What makes her the best teacher? Because her model is based on allowing children to choose what they focus on based on their interests.

Imagine how our lives may have turned out differently if we could have had more choice in what we studied.  But I guess, this is what retirement does - it may provide time and opportunity to learn the things you are drawn to.  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Smooching in Public

"Hey! What's going on up there?  Why are we stopping?  Was that one of those smoochy kisses, again?" asks the Bambino.  "Eeew!"

"OK, let's get a move on. We're burning daylight."

"You guys are forcing me to become a back seat driver!"

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Some Reality Shows Have Become Society's New Freak Show

I have Apple TV, so have missed a lot of the reality TV programs. However, I have recently been staying with a friend who just had surgery, so naturally, her TV is often playing during her recuperation. Needless to say, my eyes keep popping out of my head with an abundance of these reality TV shows.

First was the "Housewives of Beverly Hills" which was like watching rich, beautiful, caddy, and insecure women still stuck in Jr. High School. Then came the "Million Dollar Listing New York" and it also made me gag.  It blatantly showed the lying of the Realtors in their attempt to close a deal, make a sale, or get a listing. They were even gleeful in their dishonest lingo, behavior, and tactics. It made my stomach turn.

Yes, I was shocked. And this was the exact reaction the producers want. After all, many of these reality shows are modeled after the traveling circus - entertaining the public with freaks, misfits, and the bizarre. But all I could think of was "where is the accountability for this type of inappropriate behavior?"

I realize we need bad behavior examples in our life so we can see how NOT to behave or how NOT to be, but I think we currently have an overload of this type of freakish behavior on TV.

I keep hoping we will grow beyond this and society will demand better role models in TV programming. It would be nice to have TV get out from the muck of showing people bathed in self obsession, lies, deceit, and small mindedness, and instead, present people and situations that can inspire us to become better human beings.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Fastest Messaging System in 500 BC

The Greek historian, Herodotus, wrote that Persia (Iran) was using mounted dedicated couriers during the Persian Wars, from 500-449 BC. Herodotus was quite taken by this messaging process. It was most likely the fastest communication process of its day and stood out as being something extraordinary. 

Herodotus wrote,
"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  

Later, this same communication model was used in the USA (aka Pony Express) and later, this same motto was used by the US Postal Service on their buildings, some 2500 years after it was recorded.

Interesting, huh?

It seems the Persians of long ago realized the importance of fast messaging and built a system to make sure their communication was the fastest and most reliable of its day. This probably helped them win many of their wars. 

For Herodotus, a Greek (who was at war with Persia/Iran), this must have really stood out as one of the game changers since he commented about it in his book.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Just as Tall

"Gramz, LOOK!" says the grandkid.
"I'm just as tall as pops!"

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Contributions from the Muslim World

I'm currently taking a class at Berkeley on the History of the World from a Muslim perspective. The professor mentioned that anytime we hear a word with "Al" in a name, it came from the ancient Islamic world. I did not know this. I went to Wikipedia and learned medieval Islam made these contributions in the world:
  • Alchemy (chemistry)
  • Alcohol
  • Algebra 
  • Algorithm
  • Astronomy
These advances were done during or before the dark ages!
I then remembered a lecture from Neil deGrasse Tyson where he asked the question "why don't we see more Muslims getting a Nobel prize?"

So what changed from those ancient days to now? What happened to this culture being the leader in physics, math, chemistry, and science?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Taking Materials from Nature's Waste & Using Them to Develop Products

At a lecture on how nature is inspiring radical innovation, Jay Harmon shared how carrots are now being used to make fishing rods with plans to use this process in snow boards, car parts, and battle ships. Yes, carrots.

Nano fibers are extracted from the carrot, the water is removed, and then it is mixed with hi-tech resins. This  enables tough, durable components to be moulded to whatever shape, degree of stiffness, strength or lightness required.

Two Scottish scientists developed this process and their first product is fly fishing rods and the company is CelluComp.  Very interesting information and video, especially if you are interested in how problems get solved by studying nature.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Graphene - the next technology revolution

At a lecture at Berkeley, we were reminded how we have had several stages of intellectual advancement, such as the technology revolution (which we have been recently immersed in).
But the next technology revolution is already in gear and is called the Graphene Age.

What is so special about graphene?
  • it is the smallest known material known - 1 atom thick
  • lightest material known 
  • strongest material known (stronger than diamonds)
  • bends
  • can be transparent
  • conducts heat
  • conducts electricity
  • allows nothing to pass through it except water

How can graphene be used?
  • create flexible cell phones
  • create very thin tv’s you can role up
  • create lighter aircraft
  • make batteries that hold a longer charge
  • solar power
  • electric cars making them more affordable
  • anti-corrosive for metal
  • filter water for clean drinking water 
  • filter out salt from the sea 

So if you are like me, and didn't even know we were once again starting on a new roller coaster of technology, here is a brief video to help you be aware of what is around the corner and what the next ride is going to be like.

My Movies

"I love watching me in my own movie!" reports Bambino.

"I'm probably the only one who gets my jokes!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Kind of Kindergarten

Architect Takaharu Tezuka explains how one school created a kindergarten that doesn't fight against kids' natural impulses. It counts on them.

I like the freedom created in this design and the encouragement to explore and engage.

Restaurant 1515 in WCR

I take our team to lunch each month to explore the dining around the Walnut Creek area. This time we had lunch at 1515. I had the fresh tomato basil soup, then the grilled salmon entree. It was wonderful! The rest of the team had pizza or sandwiches, with them all reporting a big thumbs up.  Dessert was yummy, too.

I think this is my new favorite restaurant!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wondering about Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who was already famous for inventing the polygraph. He imagined a female superhero, one who would be an unconventional, strong, and liberated woman. She would succeed and triumph because of her wisdom and love rather than fists or firepower.

But then, with WWII, Wonder Woman became more physical and fought against Axis military forces as well as an assortment of colorful super villains, often using a lasso to disarm her opponents.

By 1987 she had become sexy and even at times, submissive. She was tamed.

It shouldn't surprise us that the current Wonder Woman is no longer closely aligned with the originator's vision. It seems we continue to change women to fit into the role we are most comfortable with.

I think this is one reason why I would like to see a strong untamed woman in the role of world leader - one that doesn't require a tiara or bustier to win our adoration, but someone who is wise and committed to the common everyday man.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The English Artist William Dobson

The de Young Museum in San Francisco is currently showing a special exhibit from National Gallery of Scotland, and one of the paintings is by William Dobson. The painting is of Charles, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of the king, so William Dobson was an artist that at times was commissioned by the King.

Now, William Dobson is the name of one of my uncles, but because the painting was created around 1642 rather than now, I knew this was not MY uncle. I also knew I have several William Dobson's in my English family tree, so wondered if this was one of my long lost grandfathers. Could we be related??

This William Dobson was born in London in 1611, the son of a decorative artist also called William Dobson. William Dobson (the famous English artist) was married twice, first to Elizabeth (who died in 1634) and then in 1637 to Judith Sander. There is no report of any children, however.

Around sixty of Dobson's works still survive, mostly are half-length portraits dating from 1642 or later. His work is in many of the National museums in London, Scotland, and New Zealand. He lost his patronage and was then briefly imprisoned for debt, later dying in poverty at the age of thirty-six.

Here is William Dobson's selfie (which looks an awful lot like one of my cousins)

and here is the full painting.

According to,"this is  Dobson’s most accomplished self-portrait. In the center, Dobson is flanked by Nicholas Lanier, one of the great connoisseurs of the time, and Sir Charles Cotterell, the youngest of the artist’s patrons. The painting symbolizes a popular philosophical debate in which the artist is asked to choose between Pleasure and Virtue, drawing on the mythological Choice of Hercules. Lanier, in his flashy clothes, represents Pleasure, gesturing persuasively and concealing a bust of Apollo. Cotterell, symbolizing Virtue, wears sober black and protects Dobson with an embrace."

I don't know yet if this artist, William Dobson, is a relative of mine or not, but many in my family are considered artsy, so if there is an artsy fartsy gene, maybe we got it! Or maybe, being an accomplished artist, is just due to consistent practice and hard work.

Needless to say, William Dobson of 1611-1646 really did create some lovely portraits in his mere 36 years of living.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Monitoring the Wading Pool

"Gramz, I got a new job in Cancun" reports the Bambino.
"I have to keep track of all the toddlers in the wading pool."

"Looks like I'm the only one I'm monitoring."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fueling Up

"Gramz, I can't believe I still have to fuel up this way when there is all this good food all over the place" says the Grandkid.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cancun Dessert

"Does this music come with dessert?" asks the Bambino.