Thursday, September 29, 2011

Today: do nothing

Sailors sleeping on flight deck of the USS Lexington (CV-16)., 11/1943
Sometimes we need some time off from work.  We work 40 hours a week under deadlines and criticism from our peers and managers.  We need that 15 minutes between our workday and our weekends to ourselves, right? 

I came across an article by Ann Daly in the September issue of Austin Woman titled, "The Art of Doing Nothing."  In the article, using an example of a travel blogger, she stresses the importance of "doing nothing" or taking time for oneself after work and on the weekends/days off. 

As she explains, doing nothing equals making space that allows creativity, reflection and innovation.  Doing nothing allows oneself to be "truely present" and enjoy loved ones.  It also allows ourselves to "reinvent ourselves and our future", leading "to a clamer and vibrant spirit."

In the article, she offers several tips to accomplish the "art of nothing," such as: making a list of activities and obligations; from that list, select which can be eliminated or delegated; eliminate or delegate one item at a time; schedule "do nothing" time for yourself; reward your accomplishments; and learn to enjoy pleasant sounds. 

You can read more in the September issue of Austin Women HERE.

Source: "The Art of Doing Nothing," Ann Daly, Austin Woman, Septmeber 2011.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"We eat ham and jam and spam a lot"

"On second thought, let's not go to Camelot, it's such a silly place."

Silly indeed. Yet, it's one of my favorite parts of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I can see Jason Lee play one of the knights.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

MSG is what makes things taste good, but is it good for you?

About two years ago, I began noticing a trend after dining at Chinese restaurants or fast food joints.  After eating lo mein, hamburgers, fried chicken or Mexican food, I would experience abdominal pains, bloating, headaches and hives.  I connected the dots and found a common ingredient in these foods--monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG.

MSG is a crystalline "free" glutamic acid salt that is a flavor-enhancer commonly added to food to make it taste yummy.  This neuro-exciting compound chemical which includes carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sodium and oxygen (C5H8NNaO4), may produce a negative reaction to a person with food sensitivites or intolerance. 

To some people, when MSG is ingested, the autoimmune system reacts as if the food particle is a virus or bacterium.  The effects may affect breathing and metabolism. 

When I ingest a food that contains MSG, it usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour to notice a reaction, which usually includes bloating, stomach pain, inflammation, sharp headaches, and sometimes rashes and or hives.  To help resolve the effects, I drink water to help dilute the chemicals I've ingested.  This sometimes works for me, but for others it may not be enough. 

Since switching to a more organic diet and avoiding foods that may contain MSG, I've notice an improvement in physical health. Decreasing glucose and starches from your menu and replacing it with omega-3, omega-6 and minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium can help reduce inflammation, as suggested by holistic health practicioner Leslie Tatum.

Read up on this chemical compound and determine whether this is causing your food sensitivities. 

Sources:;;;;; "What is Inflammation, really?" Tatum, Leslie, Moxie Magazine, Summer/Fall 2011, pg. 10. 

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

My son's first hit in little league

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Pie Iesu domine, dona eis requiem"

Before I met my wife, Monty Python was not on my list of comedies--I was more of a SCTV and SNL comedy follower. Since then, however, I've become a fan and enjoy watching both my wife and 7-year old son quote along with the various scenes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Therefore, so that you can share my pleasure, here is the first of several scenes from Monty Python's that I'll be blogging for the next several weeks.

Translation: "Merciful Lord Jesus, grant them rest"

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Monday, September 19, 2011

How to receive

During the holidays, I enjoy giving gifts than receiving them--my parents would says otherwise.  Nonetheless, I love watching peoples reactions when they unwrap their gifts. 

I found an article in the Austin All Natural magazine--you've probably seen them on the magazine rack along with other free periodicals at Whole Foods or Central Market--by author and inspiration speaker Amanda Owen on how a giver can balance themselves to be a good receiver. 

In this article, she explains that we are taught at an early age to be givers but not receivers.  I can relate. 

I recall my dad and I watching Jerry Lewis' MDA Labor Day Telethon.  We had been enjoying the performance by the various musicians and comedians, when my dad suggested that we give some money for the kids.  He picked up the phone and started to dial.  When he got a live operator, he provided them the information they needed to make the donation.  That was about 30 years ago, and I still remember how it felt to know we gave money to "Jerry's kids."

Her article, however, points out that many of us weren't raised to be good receivers--evident on how "thank you" letters have become quaint and unusual.  I can't remember the last time I have written a thank you letter.

Amanda offers three steps to follow which may help balance "what you give with what you receive," such as: ask people to do their share; respond favorably with compliments; and start a daily journal that documents your appreciations.

To follow Amanda's suggestions, I have decided to dedicate Fridays to a weekly blog thanking people who have played an important role in my life that week.

You can read the entire article on page 15 HERE.


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Confessions of a Gym Dweeb Part 10



For the past few months, I have been visiting the gym.  The best thing about going to the gym is that my health and physical strength has improved compared with previous years.  But although I feel great, I haven't been successful in getting rid of my belly fat. 

I came across an article in the August 2011 issue of InStyle magazine that provided suggestions on how to loose the tummy fat.  Since InStyle is a women's magazine, I'll only highlight those I think men can benefit doing. 

  • "Switch to green tea" - Scientists at Tufts University in Massachusetts have found that green tea, which contains catechins, a natural antioxidant, helps trim body fat--along with exercise, of course. 
  • Do cardio instead of focusing on crunches.
  • Avoid pasta and white bread and opt for wheat, whole grains and berries.
  • Shop fresh (organic) food, protein and herbal teas instead of canned foods and carbonated drinks.
  • Strengthen your back muscles to maintain good posture to help suck in that gut.
In another article I came across suggested that doing the "bicycle" motions can help flatten the belly.  An article in Redbook by Maridel Reyes states that "activating muscles on the front and sides of your belly works twice as much harder than crunches.  The article, only available in print, goes on to instruct how to do the bicycle at home without a actual bicycle. 

Sources: "10 ways to a flatter tummy," InStyle, August 2011;; "The #1 Move for Flat Belly," Maridel Reyes, Redbook, October 2011, pg. 100

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Give your pet a longer and healthier life

As a pet owner, I have to admit that I could do a better job caring for my dog, Chato.  He's been living with me for over 13 years--according to an Online Calculator, he's about 65 years old. 

Chato has been with me during my most life changing events.  He's seen it all.  Kind of cool, huh.

A few days ago, I came across an article that offered eight suggestions on how to give your pet a longer and healthier life.  I've put together a list below from the article, but for a full text visit

1. Dry kibble should be with meat meals (we buy Dogwell Vitality and Halo Purely );
2. Keep your pet physically fit;
3. Provide mental stimulation;
4. Keep your pet groomed;
5. Train your pet to be well-mannered;
6. Spay and neuter your pets;
7. Have your vet give your pet a annual physical exam; and
8. Provide safe shelter for your pet.

Source: L Style G Style, July / August 2011

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Monday, September 12, 2011

"A digital form of the ebola virus"... the person who stole the iPhone 5, as explained by Lars Wotiz, President of Apple's Torture Division.

Via Youtube.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

10 years ago (September 10, 2001)...

... we were coming back from spending a week visiting Western New York. 

My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and I attended her grandfather's wedding outside Calendonia, New York.  It was my first time in that part of the state--I visited New York City, which is six hours away, when I was young--so I didn't know what to expect.

From what I recall, the weather was warm and sunny that week.  For some reason I want to say it was unseasonably warm for that area. 

While there, we visited Niagara Falls, Letchworth State Park, and Batavia, New York, where my wife was born. 

Having had such a good visit, we both debated whether to return to Austin so soon.  As we waited in the ticket lobby to check in, we noticed a flight to New York City. 

"We could go to New York City," my girlfriend suggested. 

I thought seriously about it.  We probably even calculated how much room in our credit cards we had to go to New York City as we waited in line.  Even after we checked in at the ticket counter and made our way to our gate, we thought about making a last minute change in destination.  The only thing that kept us from going to NYC was that we had to return to work and school.

Yes, there was something in the air that day, September 10, 2001.  I'm not a "9/11 Truther," but I think unsubstantiated chatter was detected by our law enforcement the week leading to September 11th.  It was evident that morning in the airport when I noticed heavy airport security and Buffalo PD roaming around the terminal. 

When I was at the gift shop, a couple of police officers caught my attention.  One of them walked into the gift shop and looked at every shopper, including myself.  After purchasing my items, which included two NYPD caps, and exiting the gift shop I noticed more police gathering together.  I didn't think much after that, though.  Of course, perhaps they were looking for something different, but it was quite odd that border security in Niagara Falls was noticeably tight during our visit days earlier.    

I've thought about the "what if" many times.  Had we gone to NYC, we would have experienced that horrific day.  Knowing me, we would have been up early to visit the many sights in Manhattan.  Although the twin towers were a tourist destination, I would have probably avoided the Financial District. Possibly the only reason we would have been in the area was to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. 

It was good that we returned to Austin.  When we landed in Austin, I recieved a call from my dad that my mother was going into surgery after a serious fall that busted her knee.  I dropped off my girlfriend at her apartment, went home to pick up clean clothes and made my way to McAllen. 

The following morning was like any other morning, except my mom was in bed recovering from surgery.  The housekeeper was cooking.  My dad was getting ready for his classes.  I woke up early to go into the district office--I worked for a state legislator from McAllen.

I turned on the TV to Good Morning America.  After muddling around, I made my way to the shower. In my half-foggy brain, I was contemplating how I was going to tell my parents that I was getting serious with my girlfriend.  I was to tell them that she was the one. 

When I returned to my bedroom I noticed Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson breaking in on an interview to report what looked like a fire at the Twin Towers.  I sat for a while to watch the images of the burning tower as an eyewitness described the situation.

After getting out the ironing board, I turned to the TV again and heard the the eyewitness and Diane Swayer say "Oh, my God" as UA Flight 175 crashed into the second tower.  Diane's fear could be heard in her voice as she struggled to keep composure.  I couldn't turn away from the tube. 

For the rest of the day, my family and I watched the various new coverage.  Indeed, we feared the unknown.
You can read my previous post on September 11th HERE.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Star Trek TOS aired 45 years ago

45 years ago, while the nation was undergoing social change, Gene Roddenberry introduced us to a racially diverse starship crew in a future where equality was real.

A few months ago, while visiting the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle, I listened to a "oral history" interview of Nichelle Nichols who played Nyota Uhura in Star Trek.  In the interview, she shared a story of when she met a very important "Trekkie"--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

She had provided Gene Roddenberry notice of her intent to resign from the cast of Star Trek.  Roddenberry asked Nichelle to think it over and come back to him after the weekend.

Nichelle met Dr. King, Jr. that weekend at an event.  She stated that Dr. King, Jr. told her how excited he was that she was on the show and how he and his wife let their children stay up late to watch Star Trek because of her. 

When Nichelle shared her plans to leave the show, she said that his grin of excitement disappeared and turned serious.  According to Nichelle, Dr. King, Jr. told her she couldn't leave the show because she provided an example of what people are capable of becoming despite color.  Nichelle continued as Uhura through the original series as well as the animated series and films. 

Roddenberry provided a nation struggling to adapt to racial integration with an image of our world in the 23rd century where individuals, regardless of color, work together to resolve a problem.


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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Alternative ways to medication for kids

I came across an article in Natural Awakenings that offered home remedies or natural alternatives to common medications for kids.  As argued in the article, medicating symptoms with drugs can interfere with one's natural defense system.

The article provides some alternatives you can use instead of medication; however, it does suggest consulting with a health practitioner first.
  • For bug bites, try grated potatoes or mud.
  • For cough or congestion, try applying a "herbal vapor rub of menthol and tea tree oil to the bottom of the child's feet" before putting socks on.
  • For constipation, try "apricots, peaches, pears, plums and vitamin C."
  • For growing pains, add calcium and magnesium supplements to a kids diet.
  • And during allergy season, switch from milk to citrus juices.


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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Yes you can save money on organic foods

My wife is on a organic food kick.  Ever since we watched Super Size Me and Food, Inc., our meals have become more health-conscience, which in a way is a good thing.  Honestly, I've found myself reading the labels as well and avoiding anything that contains too many chemicals like MSG or artificial sweeteners.  Of course, shopping at Whole Foods or Sprouts can be a bit pricy, right?

The September issue of Vegetarian Times contains an article that list ten ways one can save money when buying organic foods.  I've composed a list from the article, but for more description of each suggestons visit

1. Known which organic fruits and vegetables are on the Environmental Working Groups' "Dirty Dozen" list.  You can find the list here;

2. Consider store brand organic products in the center aisles;

3. Clip and use coupons from,, and;

4. Visit farm stands and farmers markets;

5. Buy multipurpose veggies;

6. Only buy organic herbs and spirces you need;

7. Grow a herb, fruit and veggie garden;

8. Freeze fruits and vegetables for later use;

9. Learn how to can produce; and

10. Buy produce that aren't cut up and do it yourself.

Source: "Eat clean for less," by Katherine Edwards, Vegetarian Times, September 2011, p. 74

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