Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's about the money

Collectible old Philippine peso bills and coins

Daniel Suelo, is 51 years old and does not have any money in his pocket.  Neither does he have money stashed away in his house or in a bank.  He wants it that way and he's happy..  

He had decided to stop using money altogether. That meant no "conscious barter," food stamps or other government handouts. His mission was to "use only what is freely given or discarded and what is already present and already running," he wrote on his web site, Zero Currency.

His home is a cave on public land outside Moab, Utah. He scavenges for food from the garbage or off the land (fried grasshoppers, anyone?). He has been known to carve up and boil fresh road kill. He bathes, without soap, in the creek.

Is he merely a bum or some crazy vagabond? Hold your judgement.  Read more  about his somewhat Christ-like existence here.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Steps to happiness

Forgiveness and letting go are steps on our road back to happiness.

                                            Tina Dayton


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Monday, May 14, 2012

The ideal Bohol cruiser

Janis Joplin's old song, "Mercedes Benz" always comes to mind whenever I see one of these modified vintage Toyota J40 Land Cruisers, circa 1970s.

The Toyota J40 is the model designation for a Toyota Land Cruiser 40 series made from 1960 until 1984. Most were built as two-door vehicles with slightly larger dimensions than a Jeep CJ.

I may seem like someone with a peculiar taste for cars but if you lived in Metro Manila in which some streets can get suddenly flooded even with just a few minutes of continuous rainfall, having one of these modified 4x4 Land Cruisers with hydraulic supension can be a wondrous joy.

A fully restored edition, if you can find one for sale, usually costs around P450,000. However, I was warned by someone who owns one that it isn't a vehicle that can be parked just about anywhere unattended. Apparently, there has been a growing demand for its parts that these Toyota Land Cruisers have become a prized target by local carnappers.

However, Toyota has come up with newer editions of this workhorse.  Aptly named the Toyota FJ Cruiser, it is a retro style SUV with styling and off road performance reminiscent of the original Toyota FJ40 Land Cruisers.

It was introduced as a concept car at the February 2003 Chicago Auto Show, and was approved for production after positive consumer response.  It debuted at the January 2005 North American International Auto Show in final production form.  The FJ cruiser is built by Toyota subsidiary Hino Motors in Hamura, Japan since 2006 and shares many structural underpinnings from the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.

Not only in the streets of Manila, but in Bohol as well, this FJ Cruiser would make an ideal vehicle to drive around in.

So Lord, won't you buy me ...

Your Sunday Best

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

A song she loved to sing

Mama Paz used to sing Paper Doll while doing her house chores.

I'm gonna buy a Paper Doll that I can call my own
A doll that other fellows cannot steal
And then the flirty, flirty guys with their flirty, flirty eyes
Will have to flirt with dollies that are real

When I come home at night she will be waiting
She'll be the truest doll in all this world
I'd rather have a Paper Doll to call my own
Than have a fickle-minded real live girl

I guess I had a million dolls or more
I guess I've played the doll game o'er and o'er
I just quarrelled with Sue, that's why I'm blue
She's gone away and left me just like all dolls do

I'll tell you boy, it's tough to be alone
And it's tough to love a gal that's not your own
I'm through with all of them
I'll never fall again
Say boy, whatcha gonna do?

written by Johnny Black

Suggested read:  Mother's Day by Wenn
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Leche Flan

Leche flan or crème caramel; a custard dessert with its top layered with soft caramel, is my all-time favorite dessert 

Supposedly French in origin, it has spread across Europe and has become known as flan in Spanish-speaking countries. European restaurants love the ease of making it. It can also be prepared in advance, chilled, and served as needed.

Crème caramel is a variant of plain custard (crème) where some caramel syrup is poured into the mold before adding the custard base. After the custard has set, it is turned out, leaving a caramel sauce on top. Like all custards, flan is made with whole eggs, milk or cream, and sugar. The typical flavoring is simply vanilla.

As a kid, whenever my parents took me to fiestas or wedding receptions in which the meals were served buffet-style, almost always, my mother had to ask the host if I could be given a piece of leche flan first; otherwise, I would just as easily spend the entire affair playing with my cousins and not eat. The main dishes held no interest for me, only the desserts; specifically, the flan. Once I had a piece, I would then eat some of the main sumptuous dishes.

In New York City, one of my brothers really excelled in making leche flan. However, whenever I had sudden cravings for it, I’d often stop by Dean & Deluca down in Soho and just get myself some crème burlee. In Metro Manila, many restaurants now offer crème burlee, but leche flan remains my prime choice.

There are those who argue that a halo-halo is not complete without a piece of leche flan.

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Food Trip Friday

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Education: On Harvent, Harvard and MIT

College students taking an afternoon break at Baywalk
I am one of those who firmly believe that education ought to be a lifelong endeavor, and reading books is among its effective measures. 

In the past, when conducting job interviews, an important question I pose to applicants has always been, “What was the last book you read?”  This I would ask whether they had already earned their degrees, or still working to complete their undergraduate studies.  A love for reading suggests a willingness to broaden one’s imagination and appreciation for new ideas.

Consequently, a love for reading oftentimes breeds a love for writing as well. Hence, with a passion for both reading and writing embodied, the student begins to develop effective communication skills, which can be used throughout his adulthood.  

* * *

Much to my great surprise about a week ago, I received a package from Margarita Ventinilla-Hamada.   She is the founder and directress of Harvent School in Lingayen and Dagupan City in Pangasinan.

The package contained a manuscript of a soon to be published book, Bible Stories.  It is a compilation of unedited stories written in English by the pupils of Harvent, 5 to 7 years old, who live in the outlying barrios and do not speak English at home.

Herewith its Introduction:

            The King’s language is a rough road for any traveler to negotiate on the way to the Promised Land of knowledge and wisdom.  But pupils in HARVENT SCHOOL’s two campuses (Dagupan City and Lingayen, Pangasinan) are undeterred.  After finishing the Basic Reading Program in English via a seamless time frame, these pupils were treated to story-telling sessions in English twice a week.  These sessions intend to develop their listening skills and higher order thinking abilities, thus revealed in the following pages in which they retell, in their own words, the stories they have heard.

            The number and the length of the stories retold vary from pupil to pupil at the end of a school year.  But what does not vary is this: these five to seven-year olds who do not speak English at home can understand English and can express themselves with it, albeit with errors, after finishing the Basic Reading Program!  This fact shines so clearly through the haze of errors that envelops all beginner learners’ work.  What is interesting to note is that the pupils’ one-liners slowly grow into paragraphs as they become more and more accustomed to writing down their thoughts.

            The undersigned is proud and happy to share the unedited works of these little authors which show their undaunted, zestful struggles to master English, and through these, achieve self-mastery  with which they can conquer the world.

                                                                        Margarita Ventenilla-Hamada

                                                                        12 April 2012

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Meanwhile, back in the States, last December, Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced the launch of an online learning initiative called “MITx.”  It offers about 2100 courses for free through MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW), which is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity. It is a free publication of MIT course materials that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT.

There is no registration or enrollment process because OCW is not a credit-bearing or degree-granting initiative.  Students of this online program are encouraged to work through the materials at their own pace, and in whatever manner they desire.

The first course offered by MITx, Circuits and Electronics, began in March, enrolling about 120,000 students, some 10,000 of whom made it through the recent midterm exam. Those who complete the course will get a certificate of mastery and a grade, but no official credit.

Recently, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a new nonprofit partnership, known as "edX," to offer free online courses from both universities.  Similarly, edX courses will offer a certificate but not credit.

EdX, which is expected to offer its first five courses this fall, will be overseen by a nonprofit organization governed equally by the two universities, each of which has committed $30 million to the project. The first president of edX will be Anant Agarwal, director of M.I.T.’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, who has led the development of the MITx platform. At Harvard, Dr. Garber will direct the effort, with Michael D. Smith, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, working with faculty members to develop and deliver courses. Eventually, they said, other universities will join them in offering courses on the platform.

M.I.T. and Harvard officials said they would use the new online platform not just to build a global community of online learners, but also to research teaching methods and technologies.

But Harvard and M.I.T. have a rival — they are not the only elite universities planning to offer free massively open online courses, or MOOCs, as they are known. This month, Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan announced their partnership with a new commercial company, Coursera, with $16 million in venture capital.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford professor who made headlines last fall when 160,000 students signed up for his Artificial Intelligence course, has attracted more than 200,000 students to the six courses offered at his new company, Udacity.

The technology for online education, with video lesson segments, embedded quizzes, immediate feedback and student-paced learning, is evolving so quickly that those in the new ventures say the offerings are still experimental.

“My guess is that what we end up doing five years from now will look very different from what we do now,” said Provost Alan M. Garber of Harvard, who will be in charge of the university’s involvement.

Read more here.

With these free online courses being offered by these top universities, which is accessible by anyone from any part of the world as long as he or she has a PC and an Internet connection, Tim Berners-Lee’s ultimate vision may be finally coming into fruition. Hopefully, our students -- like these kids from Bonifacio Elementary School in the photo below -- will someday have access to high quality continuing education programs for free.

Pupils of Bonifacio Elementary School in Tondo, Manila


Suggested reads:

Overblown-Claims-of-Failure Watch: How Not to Gauge theSuccess of Online Courses

Margarita Ventenilla-Hamada on Jose Rizal


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Thursday, May 10, 2012


Recent research on peanuts indicates they contain antioxidants that can rival the antioxidant content of many fruits. Roasted peanuts rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than carrots or beets.

Peanuts are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acids that help to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol".  They are also a good source of dietary protein composed of fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth and development.

Research conducted by a team of University of Florida scientists, published in the journal Food Chemistry, shows that peanuts contain high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols, primarily a compound called p-coumaric acid, and that roasting can increase peanuts' p-coumaric acid levels, boosting their overall antioxidant content by as much as 22%.  P-coumaric acid  is believed to reduce the risk of stomach cancer by reducing the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines

Peanuts are excellent source of resveratrol, another polyphenol antioxidant, which has been found to have protective function against heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer's disease, cancer and viral/fungal infections.

Studies suggests that resveratrol reduces stroke risk by alteration of molecular mechanisms in blood vessels (reducing susceptibility to vascular damage through decreased activity of angiotensin, a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would elevate blood pressure) and by increasing production of the vasodilator hormone, nitric oxide.

Moreover, another study published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that boiling peanuts enhances their antioxidant concentration. It has been found that boiled peanuts have two and four fold increase in isoflavone antioxidants biochanin A and genistein content, respectively. 

Peanuts are an excellent source of vitamin E (a-tocopherol); containing about 8 g per100 g. vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant which helps maintain the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting from harmful oxygen free radicals.

Peanuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. 100 g of peanuts provide about 85% of RDI of niacin, which contribute to brain health and blood flow to brain.

Peanuts are rich source of minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

Just a hand full of peanuts per day provides enough recommended levels of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, and protein.

Peanuts are also a source of coenzyme Q10, as are oily fish, beef, soybeans and spinach.

Peanuts are delicious, crunchy, and their oil seeds have been known to humankind since ancient times. They are actually legumes, but they contain almost all the qualities that true nuts like almonds have.

Scientific name: Arachis hypogaea.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Relationship 101: Wedding Anniversary

A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, 
tolerance and tenacity.  The order varies for any given year.

                                                        Paul Sweeney


Our World Tuesday
Fabulous Friday

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cloud over the wind farm industry

A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in one location that is used to produce electrical power. There are two main locations of these wind farms; offshore and onshore. Offshore wind farms utilize the sea winds. The Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm has a capacity of 662.5 megawatt that is capable of generating electrical power to more than 200,000 homes in Texas. Another notable wind farm is the Dabancheng Wind Farm in China with 118 turbines and is one of Asia’s biggest wind farms.

They can be a sight to behold, but unfortunately, I have no pictures of wind farms.

A wind turbine is a machine used for converting the kinetic energy in wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used directly by machinery, such as a pump or grinding stones, the machine is usually called a windmill. If the mechanical energy is then converted to electricity, the machine is called a wind generator.

Wind turbines are devices that generate electricity from the wind. 

It converts kinetic energy or energy that is created due to motion, into mechanical energy. Mechanical energy is used in numerous ways every day. One of its most important uses is as electrical energy. This electrical energy in turn allows us to power our light bulbs, refrigerator and television set.

Imagine wind turbines as electric fans, but instead of electricity producing air, it works the opposite. Wind turbines are connected to a generator and in turn convert wind into electricity. There are two groups of wind turbines, the vertical-axis design and the horizontal-axis variety. The horizontal-axis turbines have the main rotor on top of the tower and need to be pointed into the direction of the wind. The vertical-axis turbines on the other hand have the main rotor faced vertically and does not need to be positioned in the wind direction. It is the horizontal-axis that is the most commonly used while it is the vertical-axis that is highly advantageous.

In the Philippines’ Laoag City, three wind power developers were given the green light to build new wind farms last year, reinforcing Ilocos Norte’s bid to become the home of renewable energy (RE) in the country.

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, according to a Philippine Inquirer article, said the Lopez family-run Energy Development Corp. (EDC) would operate a $310-million facility in Burgos town. Energy Logics will put up its own plants in Burgos and in neighboring Pasuquin town at the cost of $380 million.

The UPC Renewables, an affiliate of the Italian UPC Group, will also build plants in the villages of Balaoi and Caparispisan in Pagudpud town.

The new wind energy sources were part of the governor’s report in her state of the province address, marking her first year in office.

“Today, we decide to break our dependence on fossil fuel and within the next few years, we must generate 50 percent of the energy used by the province from renewable energies,” Marcos said.

“We were the first [to harness wind power in the Philippines]. We will not stop until we achieve all our dreams.”

Now the bad news

Despite being hailed as a leader in "green" innovation, wind farms might cause a warming effect on local climates, concluded a new study. The newfound revelation casts a shadow over the alleged accomplishments of wind power, and will likely ignite controversy among lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Researchers at the State University of New York at Albany observed satellite data circling areas around wind farms in Texas, where four of the largest farms in the world are stationed. The researchers’ data, published in the Nature Climate Change journal, uncovered a warming trend of up to 0.72 degrees Celsius per decade — using data from 2003 to 2011 — in regions over the wind farms, compared with nearby areas without farms.

In contrast, scientists report that the Earth’s average temperature has increased by only 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1900.

"We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms," reported the study’s authors, which is likely due to the impact of the energy discharged by farms, as well as the turbulence ignited by turbine rotors. "These changes, if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate."

Many experts say wind power complements the generation of solar power, because solar power is only generated during daytime hours, while nighttime hours often experience stronger winds. However, the study’s authors and their colleagues deduced that turbulence behind the farm’s turbine blades force cooler air to the ground at night, and mix in warm air higher in the atmosphere, resulting in an elevated overall temperature.

"Given the present installed capacity and the projected growth in installation of wind farms across the world, I feel that wind farms, if spatially large enough, might have noticeable impacts on local to regional meteorology," Liming Zhou, one of the study’s authors, wrote in an email to Discovery News. "The year-to-year land surface temperature over wind farms shows a persistent upward trend from 2003 to 2011, consistent with the increasing number of operational wind turbines with time."

But John Dabiri, director of the Center for Bioinspired Wind Energy at the California Institute of Technology, warns that jumping to conclusions as to what are the best energy "solutions" — particularly when such action involves government interference — may be imprudent. Zhou and his colleagues’ findings show "that we need to think carefully about the unintended environmental consequences of any large-scale energy development," Dabiri averred, "including green technologies."

The purported research, if validated by future studies, should help reveal the fatuity of doling out massive taxpayer-backed subsidies to so-called green energy "solutions." In an effort to abate climate change, the advocacy of wind energy is possibly adding to climate change (even if the impact is "localized" and minimal). Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of birds die every year from turbine blades.

Globally, wind farms last year had a 21-percent increase (over 2010) in their capacity to produce electricity, and this capacity is expected to rise further as more, and larger, farms are constructed, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. China is reportedly building 36 wind turbines every day, while Texas holds the reign as the number-one producer of wind power in the United States.


Suggested reads:

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting enough sleep?

Between 6-to-8 hours is the amount of nightly sleep that confers the lowest heart risk, according to a new study. People getting less than 6 hours a night were twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack and 1.6 times more likely to have congestive heart failure than those who slept more. 

People who slept too much — more than 8 hours a night — were also more likely to have chest pain and coronary artery disease. 

Lack of sleep has been linked to diabetes and high stress hormones, blood pressure, heart rate and inflammatory markers, which are all bad for the heart. The ill effects of too much sleep are harder to assess, but over-sleepers may be more likely to be depressed and exercise less, which increases heart risks. 

On the other hand, a rejuvenating midday nap or siesta -- anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour -- can benefit one's overall well being.

Suggested reads: 

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Authentic Pancit Malabon comes to town

Pancit Palabok
One of the foods I missed the most, being here in Panglao Island, were the Pancit Malabon or Luglog and Palabok.  These noodle dishes are easily found at Manila’s eateries, but not in Bohol.  Jolibee’s has palabok, but the serving I find too austere … plus I feel like it has been prepared by a food technologist rather than by a cook.

Anyway, much to my surprise and delight, while walking through the food court of BQ Mall at Tagbilaran City the other day, I saw this food stall that carries authentic pancit Malabon and palabok.  So, before I went to see The Avengers, I had a plate of its palabok.  And right after the movie, I headed back to order pancit Malabon.  They were both good and priced affordably.

Pancit Malabon
Pancit Palabok is made of rice noodles with bright orange thick sauce sprinkled with a variety of toppings. Pancit Palabok comes in various versions, but the famous one hails from Malabon in Metro Manila.  Its ingredients usually include tinapa (smoked fish) and chicharon (crushed deep-fried pork rinds).

Pancit Malabon, on the other hand, is a noodle dish with a yellow-orange color due to its main ingredients of patis (fish sauce) crab fat, shrimp, squid, oysters, hard-boiled eggs, and strips of pork.  Unlike the palabok, this noodle dish contains some vegetables. It is aptly named Pancit Malabon because it originated from Malabon.

Edwin's Special Pancit Malabon
4th floor Food Court - BQ Mall at Tagbilaran City
For special orders contact Alvin or Riza
Cell phone: 0908-455-6604 or 0932-147-3785


Yummy Sunday

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

RX for Cancer Survivors: Healthy diet and exercise

Steamed fish and green salad

The American Cancer Society urges cancer survivors to exercise more and improve their diets to help prevent the disease from coming back.  The society recommends the following:

Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight

Extra weight is linked to increased risk of the cancer coming back and decreased survival rates among breast, prostate, and colorectal (colon) cancer survivors, and possibly others.  Being overweight is a risk factor for these 3 cancers (and others), and many people with cancer are over­weight at the time of diagnosis. For these survivors, setting lifelong goals to achieve and maintain a healthy weight are among the most important health-related goals that can be set.

Healthy ways to control weight include:

- Limiting high-calorie foods

- Drinking fewer beverages high in fat and/or added sugar

- Eating more low-calorie foods like vegetables and fruits

- Adding more physical activity throughout the day

Be Active on a Regular Basis

Many studies have shown that being physically active has a tremendous impact on quality of life of cancer survivors. Now, studies have demonstrated that physical activity after cancer diagnosis is also associated with a lower  risk of the cancer coming back and improved overall survival among multiple cancer survivor groups, including breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancer.

Among breast cancer survivors, a recent analysis showed that getting exercise after diagnosis was associated with a 34% lower risk of breast cancer deaths, a 41% lower risk of dying from all causes, and a 24% lower risk of breast cancer recurrence. Among colon cancer survivors, studies suggest exercise cuts deaths from colon cancer and all causes, and cuts the risk of the cancer coming back by up to 50%.

Our recommendations, and those of the American College of Sports Medicine, encourage survivors to aim to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, and to include strength training exercises at least 2 days per week.  For survivors who have not been previously active, gradually working up to these recommendations is the way to go. 

Fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

Recent reviews suggest that food choices may affect risk for recurrence and overall survival among survivors. The majority of these studies have focused on breast cancer, but more evidence has also emerged for colon and prostate cancer survivors. 

Similar to what we've seen for cancer prevention, it looks like it's the overall dietary pattern that is important for cancer survivorship -it's not one food, or even one food group, that makes the difference.  It's likely the combination of many different nutrients coming from many different foods --working together -- that offers the best protection. 

Studies suggest that the best protection comes from a diet that:

- Is high in fruits, vegetables and, whole grains

- Includes more fish and poultry instead of red and processed meats

- Includes low fat instead of full-fat dairy products

- Includes nuts and olive oil instead of less healthy sources of fat, such as butter or trans fats found in many processed snack foods

The bottom line

Do we have all the answers related to nutrition, physical activity, and cancer survivorship? No. But do we have enough information and evidence to recommend that anyone who's been diagnosed with cancer should strive to be at a healthy weight, live a physically active lifestyle, and add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to their meals and snacks?  Absolutely.  It's an important message that I'm sharing with everyone I know who has been diagnosed with any kind of cancer.  

Read more here.

Tropical fruit platter


Food Trip Friday

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