Friday, April 29, 2005


I have had many discussions about instinct or "gut" feelings here lately. So what is it about your gut that can help you make decisions that you may intellectually not know which way to go on? I think everyone has had this are faced with something and you can't logically make a decision...maybe you lack some of the information, or maybe both the pros and cons add up the same. So then it boils down to intuition.

What is intuition anyway?

Is this a left-over from our evolution? Some sixth sense that modernization has gotten in the way of? Growing up with horses allowed me to develop a real "ear" for this. It has served me well, without fail, throughout my life and continues to do so. I think as life begins to take us over; job, family, mortgage...we become less and less able to hear that voice of intuition. Unless one stops, and shuts off that extraneous noise, one may loose that particular internal auditory sense altogether.

Our lives used to be much simpler; wake, take care of bodily functions, eat, go seek food and survive. Survival was difficult, but that was it. There was time to listen.

You just gotta take the time. Something we have less and less of. But that voice is so valuable...make the time.

You are What You Eat

My colleagues and I were having yet another fun lunch-time discussion. This time on my French comrades' favorite subject; food.

Americans really do have it all wrong. Food is about the social gathering that food entails. It is not about how fast you can get it and how convenient it can be. Often times we compare French eating habits to Americans'. French food by far, has more fat and more calories, yet most French people are fairly slim. Very unlike our current situation in America with record numbers of obesity.

So what is the difference? My friends say that there is much more walking in France. This does not account for the dramatic difference in the health of their population compared to here. There is the major difference of the quality of food. The French diet is varied, fresh, and of smaller portions. There is also not the rush associated with eating as there is here. People in don't eat on the "go" as they do here.

In short, dining is about slowing down, taking your time and enjoying not only the whole experience of eating (smell, taste, texture, appearance) but also the company that goes along with the food. Savoring eat bite, slows you and lets your fullness receptors catch up with brain to shut off the 'eat' command.

My advice? Slow down, enjoy it all and take your time.
And you don't have to do this just with food....It is applicable to so many things in life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Immunology 101

Since I have been really ill this week (hence the delay on the blog), I thought a little lesson on our amazing immune system might be in order.
I believe what I had was viral since some of the symptoms dissipated within 24-48 hrs. However, now I am left with this fantastic congestion and stuffy head...blah!!

So what fights off the nasty things we contract?

For things like colds, viruses and bacteria, antigen presenting cells or macrophages, ingest antigens (viruses or other non-self things) and then present parts of the ingested invader on its cell surface. This presentation allows T-cells to become sensitized to the invader and thus help to a) direct the immune system to fight whatever is making you cough like mad, or b) help create memory in the way of B-cells so that you have immunity to this pathogen. B-cells are why you don't get chicken pox the second time. Once you have it, your immune system has been sensitized to the pathogen's particular antigens and thus your B-cells produce antibodies specific for this pathogen. So the next time your immune system "sees" chicken pox again, it recognizes it quickly and kills it off. Brilliant.

Immunity is a VERY complicated system that we take for granted. It is an amazing feat of engineering at the molecular level. There are many levels of immunity in our body. Our epidermis, for example, is one of the most powerful immune barriers. Most pathogens cannot infect something that is dead. Our epidermis is basically a layer of dead tissue. This is our first layer of defense, our dead skin.

This is why burn patients are so very susceptible to infection. Their epidermis has been removed. They are unfortunately a nutrient rich Petri dish for microbes.

Take care of yourself! And your immune system.
It takes care of you and you don't even know it.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Education from our Furry Friends

I have been an animal lover from my birth and probably from another life before this. Although I love all critters great and small, horses have been my main addiction until very recently. My life doesn't permit my owning of one, but I go pet noses as often as I can.

One of the things I think horses do best for us, is give us a mirror. They only give back what they get. They accept whatever it is you dish out without judgement and without disdain. They often do have an opinion about what you may have given them, but may or may not express that to you at the time. There are horses that you have when you need to learn something and then there are the ones that need to learn something from you. In both instances, the human is the one that comes out ahead if he or she has sense enough to shut up an listen. Horses taught me paitence, how to love without want of anything in return, and how to give because it is its own gift. They are truly a remarkable creature.

"The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man."
-Winston Churchill

They teach us what's on the inside.
Whether we want to see that or not.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A Woman, on Sparring

It has taken thirty odd years for me to grasp that I am not like other women. One place this has proven to be true yet again, is the sparring ring at martial arts. Our school doesn't use pads and sometimes, with us upper belts, it can get a little intense. And I love it. Some days I feel like I am really poor at it and other days, I think, that I was OK.

Many of the other women and both young and past teenage, have commented how they don't like to spar. I believe there are several reasons for this. Sparring is so different for women. Men are hard-wired for physical contact and aggression. They have testosterone to fight for them. Women are designed to nurture and not hurt one another. Which is why we can be easier victims. We get hit and think, "Oh my, that was NOT nice.." And while we are thinking this, we get smacked again and it's too late.

One of the things martial arts teaches you is how to get hit and become desensitized to it. You take that energy and it ramps you up. My lifetime experiences with horses had already gotten me over the whole pain thing, and the whole something large coming after me. Yet, having a person come after you is different. Men don't know how intimidating they can be. Or how strong. Sparring is the training ground for the mind to keep thinking while a lot of your hard-wiring is wanting to do anything but fight. Instinct is hard to circumvent.

As an assistant instructor, I am adamant that my female students get that through their heads. You gotta do the uncomfortable stuff so if you are in that situation, you have a chance. The disadvantage women have is the lack of desire to hurt someone who hurts them. Any woman will tell you, whether she has kids or not, that if you hurt her children, you die. But if you hurt me, there is this hesitation. We have no problem defending others, but a challenge when defending ourselves.

Sparring gets you over that. Or at least it tries to. It's not always fun or pretty and it is a challenge on a personal level for all of us in different ways. Yet that is part of what it is for. It is to teach you there is calm even in chaos, that there is a rhythm even in the unpredictable, that there is an unforeseen center. You must just hear it, feel it, let it speak to you.

It just takes a while.

I am happy to say that even the most "girly" of our students are becoming self assertive, intense women in the sparring ring. Each one has her own road to hoe on this. I know this transfers to the outside world.

It will serve them well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

But I have to Have an "A"!!

Discussion between my colleagues and myself regarding my college class lead us into a comparison of American education and its expectations and European and Asian educational expectations. I work with two French and one Thai who are all PhD degreed. One of my French colleagues has taught at the junior college level here in Dallas. This was the theme of the discussion...
Why must everyone get an "A"??

Both French and Thai education systems from grade school through college are basically free. There are few expenses. They are also of very high quality. Consequently, not everyone gets A's. As a matter of fact, very few get A's. One of my French colleagues stated that if he had translated his French grades into an American system, it would be a C. Believe me, he is not a C individual!!

But this illustrates a point that has long since bothered me about our American education system. Not everyone is an A student...face it, it's the truth. That doesn't mean the non-A student isn't bright, it just means that it's not his/her thing. So why put A's at the level of mediocrity? A's should not be the average, A's should be on the far right of the bell curve.

Another interesting difference is the structure of the educational progression. For those people not scholarly minded, there are professional, respected trades school routes. These trade schools are of the utmost quality and, once accomplished, garner an excellent wage. True journeyman trades. So another route for those of us who like to do things with our hands.

And the major difference....Being a teacher in the European countries is a difficult to attain, respected, highly paid position. HHhmm....Teaching being treated as the demanding, highly important profession it is....What a concept.

It's too bad we can't learn from the global world we live in more readily.

It Takes You Back

This last week I have been staying up very late or in some instances, being up WAY too early because of studying for my class. On my late night (or early morning depending on your perspective) excursions to the kitchen, I see the tiny lights for the audio gear. I was instantly drawn back to those days of grade school when we went to the planetarium. So strange that audio gear lights would trigger such a memory. I always loved the planetarium. To see the stars and learn what constellations they were apart of…so incredible; so incredible that there were entire universes out there.
As a child, I used to know most of them by name and could lie out in the horse pasture and identify them on sight. Now there is too much light pollution. It has to wait till I go camping, which I hope is soon!

And by the way…the part of the brain responsible for these association, specifically music associations….the auditory sensory region of the cerebrum.

Yes, I have a test tonight...Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Ah, the beauty of online learning

I have one more class to take before applying to the nursing program I want to attend. And guess what it is???
College Algebra. My two years of Calculus apparently are not good enough and the credits are too old. So, I will be taking a regular Algebra class. There are worse things, which I won't list here. However, the up-side of this is I get to take it online. Meaning I only have to show up to the campus to take tests. It is also only one month long. A very busy month, agreed, but only one nonetheless.
But I don't have to go to a class! The internet is my friend!!
For those of you who have not taken an online class, they are actually more work than attending lecture. The versatility online classes give you makes up for the time commitment. As long as you are organized and self-motivated in managing your time, online classes are great. If you are someone who needs a fire built under you by another or by a class instructor, don't do the online thing. It will not go well for you.
So one more class, get my application in by August 31st and wait and see!

Ziziki's for late lunch

Some friends and I went to Ziziki's today for a late lunch and found, to our surprise, that it was a buffet/brunch-like menu only. We chose to stay and enjoy the pleasant surprise. The food was excellent and fresh even though we were late, about 1:30. The cold menu consisted of a Greek salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, purple onions, traditional stuffed dolmas, olive oil and feta cheese, excellent humus and bread, and spinach pastry. The hot offerings were pancakes, egg omelets, mushrooms in a brown sauce with onions, garlic roasted potatoes, baked chicken and beef tips with brown sauce, as well as two kinds of pasta. Dessert was either balaclava or chocolate cake. The cake was great, moist, not too sweet, and chocolate!
All in all, I would recommend this buffet. A surprise that turned out to be wonderful.

Update on Four Little Legs and a Tail...

Mommy and baby are progressing wonderfully. Baby is still nameless, as the right mix of names that are registerable has not manifested itself. To help follow bloodlines, people typically pick some aspects of Dam's name and Stallion's name to create Baby's name. This is not as simple as it sounds. So the name game continues.

Friday, April 15, 2005

My cute little tail!

Such a cutie!!

My cute little tail! Posted by Hello

I can sleep anywhere, any position!

A nose works really well to prop one's head up for a nap.

After lunch nap Posted by Hello


Of course, once mobile, babies are VERY hungry!

Lunch is around here...somewhere.... Posted by Hello

What the.....?

Once on her tiny feet, she had to be wondering where in the world she was and WHO turned on the lights!

Where AM I?? Posted by Hello

Four Little Legs and a Tail!

My friend Dee bred her thoroughbred mare Sammy to Mo Cash, a homozygous Tobiana palomino stallion. What came into the world today is a little palomino (maybe Gruella?) and white paint filly! Isn't she adorable!

Being born is so very exhausting!! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Walmart at 11PM

Ok, I live in a nice, safe part of town, but I guess any Walmart at 11PM is gonna be a little weird. People in all states of dressed ( or not) and the children...Don't the parents know you need to have anything 0 to 10 years of age ( kids, puppies, whatever) in bed on a school night by 8:30 or 9??? It was unsettling. And it was busy..the place was bustling at 11PM.

Yeah, I know, I was there for a reason too...But I wouldn't have had any kids with me!!

You are your environment

Tuesday night I got home to find one of my adopted sister all in a funk. She and her fiance are in the process of renovating their home. The kitchen is a major deal as the appliances are from the Mesozoic Era. She was frustrated and didn't know why....I suggested we do something to cure the funk. Her major gripe is the millennia or two old microwave in the kitchen. So, since I really like to demolish stuff, I took the built in apart and we removed the old microwave (sooo heavy!) and went on an 11PM excursion to Walmart (more on that place at 11PM later...). Found microwave, cleaned vent-a-hood and installed. We also rearranged the kitchen. We both felt so much better from doing something about the surroundings. Just doing that little 2.5hrs worth of work resulted in a better organized, more functional space. And a microwave that won't give us all cancer.

Bottom line, we are our surroundings. If your surroundings are in a state that is incongruent with your internal state; or at least the state you are used to being in, then major discord results. Just like my adopted sister, she didn't make the connection of why she was so grumpy and short tempered to the fact her space was not what she wanted. Doing something about it really made a difference.

And, I got to take something apart!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Feng Shui...or lack there of.

My interest in Feng Shui dates back several years now. Although I may not go by every tiny rule of Feng Shui, I still believe its use can greatly improve your life and increase your internal calmness. It is a long known fact that color influences our mood and overall mental state. Feng Shui utilizes color to affect the energy of a living or working space.

Feng Shui's primary principal is the 'no clutter' principal. This, I whole heartedly believe in. This belief is being tested right now in my work environment. The lab I work in is under major renovation. Consequently, NOTHING is in the same place for more than 24 hrs. And everything is in the floor, on my desk, all over my bench...EVERYWHERE!! So the disarray is incredibly distracting.
However, as most of the walls of the lab now sport a new, fresh coat of white paint, I can easily feel how much nicer it is to be in the rooms that are newly painted. Color has its influence.

In the end, it will be so much better. New color and all the extraneous, useless garbage will be thrown out!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Never settle....ever

I recently was forced to go from Cable modem to DSL. This experience reinforced my belief that once you find exactly what you want and exactly what is right for you, don't go back or settle. DSL sucks! It works when it wants, it kicks you offline, and really irritates you in general. Right now, I have just glanced at the modem box and the other little light is off!! So, now I will have to save this to word, log back on, hope it all stays connected for me to get this blog published and then try and check my email!!
I can get internet on my phone, why not my home machine??
Cable modem, I miss you.

Pazzo's Pizza

Lab dinner tonight was at a new pizza place. Pazzo’s Pizza at the NE corner of Frankfurt and Preston. It is a European style pizza place; very fresh ingredients, thin, thin crispy crust and virgin olive oil. Overall….it was the best pizza I have ever had. Delicious!! I had the Arroto which was olive oil, portables mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, feta cheese and bell peppers. It was excellent. The service was just right for the establishment. They did have alcohol but it is currently ‘free’ because the liquor license was not completed yet. Chianti the whole way around made a nice dinner. We all split a strawberry cheesecake slice. Dessert, too, was great. Not to sweet, great texture. I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend the place. Moderately priced for an individual pizza…and they do take away.

What era is that music from??

I have recently been introduced to Rhapsody, the online streaming music library. And I am completely hooked. Having grown up as the youngest of 5, and with Mom being a musician, there was always an extreme variety of music in the house. Consequently, my music genre knowledge is abysmal. Actually more like nonexistent. So Rhapsody is like a self-paced music education. Burning each track is $.75, so a full CD is just slightly cheaper than store-bought. But, you like ALL the songs! And since I work in a dungeon---I mean an interior lab at work…no windows and NO radio's perfect.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Are we there yet?

I work downtown at a large Medical School/ Teaching hospital. Thus I have a lengthy drive. About 48 miles round trip. I have spent the last 11 years being both an observer and a victim of traffic. And I don't understand it. There are those places that are all of a sudden just..... slow. No merges, no stalled car, no flaming auto. Just......slow. Then it is all fine again. So strange.
Or like today, when it is a snail's pace the whole way. I mean the whole way. I was 15 minutes late to martial arts class. I hate to be late.
And for no apparent reason...the traffic..was....just.......slow.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Trying to say what you mean

Language has always fascinated me. I think if I had the whole career thing to do over again, (really OVER again) I would be a linguist. To think there are whole other sets of languages that are like my own but with all this different sentence structure and meaning and its own collection of vocabulary. I work in a multi-cultural environment. Everyone but me speaks two and three languages. Needless to say, I feel like a second class citizen because I don't speak something other than English....Fluently.

Language is so dynamic. It evolves just as culture does. It has its own evolutionary existence. I just love it when my multi-cultural cohorts say something in English (their English is exemplary) and yet say English but in their mother tongue, structurally. Or better yet, have a native of England speak to you in English and STILL not get it. Even though the words are the same the meaning and everything else is not.
It is fascinating. There are words in other languages that we don't even have...Because we don't need the word.

So cool!
Do you grok it?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Hope for the turtles

Sea turtles are one of my favorite marine critters. It is always a wonderful experience to see them when I go diving. The tsunami in December devastated Sri Lanka's nesting grounds of all five species of sea turtles. It was much feared that this would devastate the already endangered populations of these turtles. However, nature perseveres. The BBC reports that the turtles are returning to lay their eggs just as always. Hopefully, the tsunami will not have harmed the life cycle of the turtles after all.

Season of renew

Although Spring is my second favorite time of the year (autumn is my first) it is still so wonderful. The new, lush green grass. (Don't forget to walk barefoot!) Blue skies with puffy clouds. Mother Nature is shaking off the overcoat of winter and everything is new. And the critters...
It is always entertainment to watch the horses this time of year. They find reasons to frolic, run like the wild creatures of their ancestry and generally behave like 5 year old children. They make me remember to stop and enjoy all the glorious things that are right under our noses and we are too busy to see.
Don't forget to stop and touch, feel, taste and sniff everything that comes your way. It is all life.

At least before summer really gets here and inhaling will actually sear the cilia right off the epithelia of your respiratory system!!

Monday, April 04, 2005

My xB

I drive a Scion xB and am still amazed at the people who come to me and ask questions about my little refrigerator-box-on-wheels. Yes, I know it is square. But it gets great gas mileage (28-30mpg) and is so light-weight that it is fairly zippy. Not Boxster zippy obviously, but still faster than a suped-up lawn mower. And its "cram-ability" is truly inspiring. So I like it and would recommend it for those who can tolerate a car that polarizes people so. People either love it or hate it!

I lost another hour...!

How is it that one little hour can alter your daily patterns to such a degree? Maybe I'm the only one overtly affected by this leaping forward. I was curious as to why and when daylight saving began. Apparently because the vast majority of us want it and the longer daylight evenings that it brings. Yes, the longer evenings are nice, but those first few days are rough.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Another Test...

We had another test at my martial arts school, The Dragon School. We only had two people testing and both were testing for gold belt. Each did well and progressed on to green belt. It never fails that each time I watch a test, I remember how hard that first test was. But you really don't realize that till much later.

Friday, April 01, 2005

In the beginning...

Well, I have actually started a blog....This is really uncharted territory for me, so this should be both an adventure and a great learning experience!