Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Friday, May 29, 2009

Goodnight Mousey.

Mousey passed away today, at 5 years 8 months. We had hoped she would stay with us a little longer, but she had to go.

We love you very much Mousey. Go find your mommy under the Rainbow Bridge. Eat lots of hay and veggies, and run around. Go find your mommy. We love you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

May 25, 2009

Some hiking

Some roses from hubby

and some cards - it's the day we got married 2 years ago in Buffalo :)

And some home-made Phad Thai from a box that came with the rice noodles and a packet of sauce.

me: hmph, this tastes like rubber bands with ketchup



Went to Sakura sushi the next day, our newest sushi discovery. Their fresh eel sushi is to die for! Mmmmm!!! I want to nod my head vigourously and say "Oishii!!!", with my mouth still full, just like they do on Japan Hour!


Nice big turkey sandwich, with a side of grapefruit and strawberries for lunch the next day before the hubs flew off to Bali

Ooh, I felt so sad as I watched him walk into the airport with all his bags. I think I had a moment of separation anxiety. I went home and promptly had a big bowl of Cheerios.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ToOtin' My Own Lil' Horn

Wow, after more than a dozen tries at this, I finally got to say to myself, "YUMMMMMMM!!!"

Before this, even as the sweet hubs declares every single time that it's delicious and I'm the best cook in the world, I always found something wrong with it - either the salmon was too charred or completely burnt at the skin, or it was too dry, undercooked, unsatisfactory, sauce too strong, too sweet, yadda yadda yadda.

Finally I loved it today!

Yay to me! :D


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Time To Get A New Pastime

We almost moved to a bigger apartment just to store the stuff we had :)) We decided it was wiser to shape up and clean out instead. THAT generated a lot of trash :))

Seriously, this is something definitely worth watching:


Body Worlds 2 in San Diego!

Hubs and I took a trip down to San Diego for the exhibit, and this is my report for the Anatomy I class I am currently taking at the Santa Monica College:

Real human bodies, stripped of skin, plastinized and displayed in full anatomical glory. As curious as that sounded, I had always hesitated giving the exhibit a chance. I was perfectly happy looking at the beauty and sensuality of the person/body on the outside - models, actors, regular beautiful people. Will the exhibit clinically desensitize my admiration of skin-deep beauty? Does it look ugly, disgusting, creepy? Will I freak out? I had great reluctance visiting the exhibit, there is a fear of being tragically unable to see the superficial beautiful person any more.

No better time than now, I decided on taking the chance on re-inventing my paradigm of beauty.

I can say very little about the exhibit itself, for it left me nothing short of awe. Although I will say that my favorites were the exploding man, the capillary distribution and penetration models, and the tiny test-tube fetuses. Every display is valuable, not just for the donors that made it possible, but also for the preservation process, the orchestration of display, and ultimately the education for the people. Suffice to say, the experience has not only disproved my initial fears, it has been a source of great education for something that is easily taken for granted - life, that I function perfectly despite the many physical developments that could have gone wrong. I left the exhibition with a newfound respect, understanding and appreciation for the intricacies and the astounding engineering of the corporeal body. With utmost respect, there is really nothing quite like it that is man-made. And for all this, the body is but one of many factors that come into play for the enactment of life. Beauty is indeed more than skin-deep, and so goes the saying, it is only the tip of the iceberg.

The movie Brain Power was equally fascinating, showing how the human brain has the immense intelligence and capacity to keep the body alive, especially under extreme duress.

In the knowledge and money-driven societies that have evolved, these important instincts seem to have adapted from their raw forms of hunting for food and overcoming or escaping enemies. We now compete for the best grades in school, learn every possible skill we can, take risks in the stock market, gain approval among peers, and push aggressively to emerge winner in the rat race. The anatomical aspect is surely one of many equally fascinating factors of the human functioning in context.

Nevertheless, to know the choices we make every day, from what we choose to eat, to making split-second decisions on how to escape a fire, and that such superb survival instincts are part of our anatomical make-up, is really quite humbling; that time is but perception and dreams are a means of unleashing our creative prowess is nothing less than empowering.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pay Attention To Me

Ear Plugs to Lasers: The Science of Concentration

Viktor Koen

Published: May 4, 2009

Imagine that you have ditched your laptop and turned off your smartphone. You are beyond the reach of YouTube, Facebook, e-mail, text messages. You are in a Twitter-free zone, sitting in a taxicab with a copy of “Rapt,” a guide by Winifred Gallagher to the science of paying attention.

The book’s theme, which Ms. Gallagher chose after she learned she had an especially nasty form of cancer, is borrowed from the psychologist William James: “My experience is what I agree to attend to.” You can lead a miserable life by obsessing on problems. You can drive yourself crazy trying to multitask and answer every e-mail message instantly.

Or you can recognize your brain’s finite capacity for processing information, accentuate the positive and achieve the satisfactions of what Ms. Gallagher calls the focused life. It can sound wonderfully appealing, except that as you sit in the cab reading about the science of paying attention, you realize that ... you’re not paying attention to a word on the page.

The taxi’s television, which can’t be turned off, is showing a commercial of a guy in a taxi working on a laptop — and as long as he’s jabbering about how his new wireless card has made him so productive during his cab ride, you can’t do anything productive during yours.

Why can’t you concentrate on anything except your desire to shut him up? And even if you flee the cab, is there any realistic refuge anymore from the Age of Distraction?

I put these questions to Ms. Gallagher and to one of the experts in her book, Robert Desimone, a neuroscientist at M.I.T. who has been doing experiments somewhat similar to my taxicab TV experience. He has been tracking the brain waves of macaque monkeys and humans as they stare at video screens looking for certain flashing patterns.

When something bright or novel flashes, it tends to automatically win the competition for the brain’s attention, but that involuntary bottom-up impulse can be voluntarily overridden through a top-down process that Dr. Desimone calls “biased competition.” He and colleagues have found that neurons in the prefrontal cortex — the brain’s planning center — start oscillating in unison and send signals directing the visual cortex to heed something else.

These oscillations, called gamma waves, are created by neurons’ firing on and off at the same time — a feat of neural coordination a bit like getting strangers in one section of a stadium to start clapping in unison, thereby sending a signal that induces people on the other side of the stadium to clap along. But these signals can have trouble getting through in a noisy environment.

“It takes a lot of your prefrontal brain power to force yourself not to process a strong input like a television commercial,” said Dr. Desimone, the director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at M.I.T. “If you’re trying to read a book at the same time, you may not have the resources left to focus on the words.”

Now that neuroscientists have identified the brain’s synchronizing mechanism, they’ve started work on therapies to strengthen attention. In the current issue of Nature, researchers from M.I.T., Penn and Stanford report that they directly induced gamma waves in mice by shining pulses of laser light through tiny optical fibers onto genetically engineered neurons. In the current issue of Neuron, Dr. Desimone and colleagues report progress in using this “optogenetic” technique in monkeys.

Ultimately, Dr. Desimone said, it may be possible to improve your attention by using pulses of light to directly synchronize your neurons, a form of direct therapy that could help people with schizophrenia and attention-deficit problems (and might have fewer side effects than drugs). If it could be done with low-wavelength light that penetrates the skull, you could simply put on (or take off) a tiny wirelessly controlled device that would be a bit like a hearing aid.

In the nearer future, neuroscientists might also help you focus by observing your brain activity and providing biofeedback as you practice strengthening your concentration. Researchers have already observed higher levels of synchrony in the brains of people who regularly meditate.

Ms. Gallagher advocates meditation to increase your focus, but she says there are also simpler ways to put the lessons of attention researchers to use. Once she learned how hard it was for the brain to avoid paying attention to sounds, particularly other people’s voices, she began carrying ear plugs with her. When you’re trapped in a noisy subway car or a taxi with a TV that won’t turn off, she says you have to build your own “stimulus shelter.”

She recommends starting your work day concentrating on your most important task for 90 minutes. At that point your prefrontal cortex probably needs a rest, and you can answer e-mail, return phone calls and sip caffeine (which does help attention) before focusing again. But until that first break, don’t get distracted by anything else, because it can take the brain 20 minutes to do the equivalent of rebooting after an interruption. (For more advice, go to

“Multitasking is a myth,” Ms. Gallagher said. “You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.” She points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.

“People don’t understand that attention is a finite resource, like money,” she said. “Do you want to invest your cognitive cash on endless Twittering or Net surfing or couch potatoing? You’re constantly making choices, and your choices determine your experience, just as William James said.”

During her cancer treatment several years ago, Ms. Gallagher said, she managed to remain relatively cheerful by keeping in mind James’s mantra as well as a line from Milton: “The mind is its own place, and in itself/ Can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n.”

“When I woke up in the morning,” Ms. Gallagher said, “I’d ask myself: Do you want to lie here paying attention to the very good chance you’ll die and leave your children motherless, or do you want to get up and wash your face and pay attention to your work and your family and your friends? Hell or heaven — it’s your choice.”


You know the people in the streets that try to intercept you to ask you 'Do you know who Jesus Christ is?" so they can convert you? And the lady in the slow line who's getting impatient and tries to get anyone's attention so she can roll her eyes at someone? Or even the relentless hawker in the street trying to sell you a touristy T-shirt?

Well, me being constantly caught up in my own world and the 3 feet radius around me, I tend to look like a likely candidate for prey. You know how they like to spring the surprise element on innocent people like me jus-mindin'-my'own-bizness. Usually the hubs spots a character like this a mile away, and warns me so that I don't get sucked into giving these people their time of day. "No eye contact!' comes the warning. And I promptly look up and start looking around just like the dork I am.

I don't know what my point is here, the article reminded me of the above.

Sometimes I multi-task simple things, like listening to music and running or writing this, one's pretty much mechanical, the other requires my cognitive attention.

Or I try washing the dishes at the same time the hubs is talking to me, you know I think it's a no-brainer task and I AM listening to him. At least that's what I think. And the hubby is always pulling me away from the dishes so I can pay him full attention currency.

:) I guess that's a lot more important than trying to show that I can multi-task.

And maybe it'll be an excuse to get a dishwasher sometime.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I Know What You Did, I'm Your Wifey, So Just Say What You Did!

So, I come home, and in the trash -

Yes I look in the trash, and I'm sure many normal people do that, to make sure the recyclables are in the recycling bin, and the trash trash in the trash bin; because it is my little two pennies worth of saving the planet and I should be allowed to do that.

- so I look in the trash, and I see,

A can of Reddi Whip - that's whipped cream from a nozzle.

I bought it for the big boy's birthday brownie a few days ago.

And so in staged horror I exclaimed,

"Sweetie! What happened to the Reddi Whip??!" - I shot daggers at the hubs caught off-guard.

"Uhh, it's gone!" answered the sweetie from the other side of the apartment, backing up against the wall.

I picked the can out of the trash.

"How can it be gone, sweetie?? I just bought it!" Me shaking the bottle with unreasonable abuse, not wanting to understand him.

"It can't be gone! Did you finish it??" says I again adamantly.

"It's gone!" says the hubs indignantly.

Sound of an empty can being shaken. Stubborn stubborn.


"It's gone, sweetie. IT MAL-FUNC-TIONED, and I had to empty it ALL down the sink!" says he, eyes glazed over.

I stopped in situ and looked up in disbelief.

And then I could not help but laugh.

Lame, but so adorable ;)