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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dining Out With My Mother

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I love spending time with my Mother. Dining out is not necessarily where you go and what you eat. Rather it gives our mealtime the opportunity to focus on each other and enjoy each other’s company.

Of course it helps when the prime rib lunch is served just the way we like it. J.J.’s is rare and mine, medium well-done.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas With Families

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I are truly blessed to be able to spend Christmas with our families.

Our first Christmas gathering was hosted by my niece Jennifer and her husband John at their home. They prepared Southern fare including John’s B.B.Q ribs. It was one of the best ribs ever, according to J.J.

The two of us prepared a veggie and fruit tray plus a cheese, salami and cracker tray. (Foods I can eat.)

The second party was hosted by J.J.’s cousin Nonny and his wife Moira at their home. Their signature dish of Paella was complimented with fresh lumpia (spring rolls), soup, two types of potato salads and a large table filled with irresistible, mouth-watering homemade desserts.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Aloha Everyone,

May you, all your love ones, neighbors and total strangers you come in contact with be joyful and at peace.

Thinking of you and sending you our Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday wishes!

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Schengen Agreement

Aloha Everyone,

Schengen Agreement, signed in June 1985 in Schengen, Luxembourg is an agreement between participating European Union countries. The agreement allows people in European Union countries to live and work anywhere within EU. They can cross borders without a passport. The one requirement is a government issued ID card.

As US citizens, we can travel to EU countries with no visa, but it is limited to 90 days within a 6 months period.

It is an interesting problem as we plan our next overseas trip. J.J. and I are considering trips to Europe in 2018.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, December 22, 2017

Panama Canal Cruise

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I are matching my Mother’s pace of unhurried daily living and focusing attention on precious moments that are priceless.

The two of us have our eyes set on 2018 travel adventures starting with a 14 nights cruise on Norwegian Star through the Panama Canal. We embark on January 5 from San Pedro (Los Angeles, CA) and disembark in Miami (Florida) on January 19. The ports include Cabo San Luca, Acapulco, Puerto Quetzal, San Juan del Sur, Cartagena, and Miami.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Aloha Everyone,

It was entertaining, nostalgic but it seems that the producers are now scraping the bottom to milk on the popularity of Star War films. If J.J. and I are to rate the Star Wars Last Jedi, I would say 6 out of 10. But do we want to keep on seeing more Star Wars sequels? Here is an interesting opinion I found online.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Redondo Beach Towing to the Rescue!

Aloha Everyone,

There is no such thing as a good accident, but if we had to have one, it was indeed a good accident. One minute my sister and I were talking and laughing as she drove her SUV down the Del Amo Fashion Mall parking ramp. Suddenly, we heard a loud scraping  sound, then the vehicle shook and leaned towards right. My sister kept her grip on the steering wheel. She stopped her SUV in the outdoor parking area and the two of us got out to examine the damages. Both tires on the passenger side were flat.

AAA dispatch response was swift and professional. Cleon Jefferson from Redondo Beach Towing appeared with confidence and reassurance that we are in good hands. Cleon quickly assessed our predicament, used the spare tire to replace the rear tire. As we rode on his towing truck, I asked him how long he had been helping drivers in trouble. He laughed and said only 3 months at this job. Prior job was in the oil industry. Cleon told us that he is a fast learner and hard worker and this combination has helped him advance in his careers.

At Allen Tire Company, we again met a team of professionals working with Art Estrada. While my sister and I took our coffee break, they replaced the two damaged tires, determined that the vehicle did not require immediate wheel balancing, and with smiles they sent us on our way.

The accident did not involve another car. We were  not harmed. Except for the two tires, the car was spared. It happened in a relatively protected environment and the roadside assistance we received were swift and professional. My sister and I discussed that this was indeed a good accident as it could have been a lot worse.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, December 15, 2017

Inspiring, Motivating Christmas Messages

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I are placing inspiring, motivational messages in each holiday gift card we are preparing for the youngest generation of our family. It would be interesting to see if any of them would comment or ask what’s it all about.

“Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.”
- Anonymous  

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
- Helen Keller

“A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” 
- Colin Powell

“Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A 'you can do it' when things are tough.”
- Richard M. DeVos

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
- Winston S. Churchill

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Socrates, Moral and Ethic

Aloha Everyone,

This morning, JJ and I woke up the hear the victory speech of Senator-elect Doug Jones who won Alabama’s Special Election.

He said, “At the end of the day, this entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which ZIP code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life.”

US moral values slip to seven-Year lows

Students’ broken moral compasses

Politics and morality

Teaching of ethics and moral philosophy should begin early in childhood. Issues on what is right and wrong behaviors is usually an interesting topic for young children. It takes little effort to have conversations during dinner, riding in a car to and from school, at bath time, play time or bedtime. Any responsible adult may broach the subject and children love sharing their opinions.

“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” -  Socrates

“Wisdom begins with wonder.” -  Socrates

“An honest man is always a child.” - Socrates

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” -Socrates

“Are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul?” - Socrates

“He said that there was one only good, namely, knowledge; and one only evil, namely, ignorance.” 


Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

California Wild Fires

Aloha Everyone,

Southern California has suffered six major wildfires since December 4th. The Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties continue to burn.

As of December 12, the statistics are devastating and staggering:
  • over 90,000 people have been displaced by fires.
  • over 10,000 fire fighters from California and at least 29 other states are involved in saving lives and property.
  • over 1,200 animals are sheltered by animal services in Ventura County and Los Angeles county.
  • nearly 1,700 California National Guards are involved.
  • over 405 square miles have burned.
  • estimated 1,160 structures have been destroyed and additional 25,000 structures are vulnerable.

There statistics do not begin to tell the human tragedies, loss of lives, loss of homes, loss of their family history in homes, pictures and things. J.J. and I are  exploring which program(s) would address the needs of innocent children who are victims of this heartbreaking disasters.
Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Lesson Lab Fall Recital

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I attended The Lesson Lab Fall Recital.

The Recital had 20 student musicians including vocalists with ages ranging from pre-school to a senior citizen. Our three grand nephews ages 9, 10 and 11 dominated the program, performing 5 out of 20 pieces. Each of the boys are taking private lessons on two different instruments.

The venue was the Lakewood First Methodist Church. Audience was primarily family and friends. Teachers on hand appeared very caring, involved and professional. With kind smiles, they encouraged the students on when mistakes were made.

According to the Lesson Lab home page, “We are a group of musicians and educators that are dedicated to making quality music instrument available to everyone. The Lesson Lab will work with local band and vocal teachers to support the curriculum offered in the schools. We are all Cal State Long Beach students, and we are proud to support music in our city.”

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Machine Learning

Aloha Everyone,
During our stay in La Jolla, J.J. and I heard a presentation on Machine Learning. Machines learning is artificial intelligence. It allows computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.
There are three types of problems which machine learning solves:
1) Classification: Example of this is medical biopsy slides. Is it benign or malignant? The task is repetitive and machines don’t tire.
2) Regression: does it fit a pattern and can you make future predictions?
3). Unsupervised or in some case, semi-supervised. Machine learning is employed in a range of computing tasks.
J.J. and I notice that our daily news is filtered based on which stories we have read in the past. I also receive music recommendations based on the history of music played previously on my phone. J.J. asked for a recipe on preparing leg of lamb. For 7 days he kept receiving messages about nearby restaurants that serves lamb dishes.
Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, machine learning is far reaching and changing our day-to-day life.
Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, December 8, 2017

Kazuo Ishiguro, 2017 Nobel Prize Recipient in Literature

Aloha Everyone,

Kazuo Ishiguro is a British novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017. Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan but he lived in England since five when his parents moved. 

Ishiguro’s formal education includes a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy from the University of Kent and master's from the University of East Angelia’s in creative writing course.

Ishiguro’s novels and short stories generally do not entertain his readers. Rather they are thought provoking leaving readers to explore or understand human nature.  

I have read most of Ishiguro’s work. Some I love but others left me disturbed with questions about my own life.  Here are links to Ishiguro’s lecture series aired on NHK World in 2016.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Back to My Mother’s

Aloha Everyone,

I am very grateful of my Mother’s presence in my life. I also count my blessings that she remains active and involved in her children, grandchildren and great-grand children’s lives. My Mother is loved and appreciated as she brings unity and structure to our family unit.

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”
— Washington Irving

“My mom smiled at me. Her smile kind of hugged me.”
— R. J. Palacio, Wonder

“I like it when my mother smiles. And I especially like it when I make her smile.”
—Adriana Triguani, Viola in Real Life

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

UCSD (University of San Diego)

Aloha Everyone,

This evening, JJ and I went for a walk around the University of California San Diego campus. This public research university is located in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, within walking distance from our son’s home.

Situated on 2,141 acres near the Pacific Ocean, it is the seventh oldest of the 10 University of California campuses. Established in 1960, UCSD offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The total student body consists of about 28,000 undergraduate and 7,000 graduate students.

I love the university atmosphere. As we walked around the campus unintentionally eavesdropping on students’ conversation, we can appreciate the youthful energy and confusion. How I would love to be back in university. When I mention this to my son over the phone, he asked me what would you like to study? Without hesitation I said, Russian! I wonder if travel to Russia is in J.J. and my horizon.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, December 4, 2017

Laughter Is A Good Medicine

Aloha Everyone,

What do I love about being around our granddaughter? It is her warm hugs, wonderful smiles and being enveloped by her spontaneous laughter.

Laughter is a good medicine. 
Laughter produces endorphins, known as a “happy” brain chemical that acts as a natural pain killer.
Laughter reduces stress.
Laughter reduces anxiety.
Laughter fights depression.
Laughter boosts immunity.
Laughter makes you feel just terrific.

So in this season of merry making, remember to laugh everyday. For smart phone users, there are free apps that send you jokes on a daily basis.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Benefits of Bedtime story

Aloha Everyone,

"Neural research shows that when parents and caregivers interact verbally with children—which includes reading to them—kids learn a great deal more than we ever thought possible," says G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D., chief of the child development and behavior branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, MD.

These gains range from improved logic skills to lower stress levels. But perhaps the most profound benefit discovered in recent years is the way bedtime stories can rewire children's brains to quicken their mastery of language

But what about reading aloud to the elderly? What are some of the benefits of reading aloud to them? Based on the research done by The Reader Organization in UK, elderly people may slowly stop reading because their vision may not be as acute. Printed words in books and magazines tend to be in small fonts. They cannot see and thus get frustrated. The big font books may be too heavy for them to hold for a prolonged period. As their cognitive abilities dwindles, they may get frustrated when seeing words are difficult to comprehend.

Just as reading aloud to young children, there are many positive benefits of reading aloud to the elderly. It can entertain, introduce new and exciting information, give topics for conversation, help in the recollection of past events, help concentration, alleviate boredom, improve mood and give opportunities for social interaction.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Westfield UTC

Aloha Everyone,

Westfield UTC (University Town Center) is an outdoor shopping center with upmarket retailers, a movie theater & a skating rink. The UTC’s on-going second phase of development, is reported to cost $600-million as an amenity-rich mall of the future. At present, there are 143 plus stores including Macy’s and Nordstrom as its anchor tenants.

My daughter-in-law and I went to get our walking exercises. Here are some interesting retail stores with unique names.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, December 1, 2017

Bath Bombs

Aloha Everyone,

Our granddaughter is involved in her school craft fair and the product her group is manufacturing and selling is bath bombs. Popular with children and adults, commercial bath bombs, based on size and quality, cost up to $9. To make them at home, it can be produced much cheaper.

Ingredients for bath-bombs include baking soda, citric acid, Epsom salts, essential oil, coconut oil, food coloring, water. You also need mixing bowls and molds.

The process is fun but time consuming and it can create a mess. I accompanied my daughter-in-law who joined other moms to assist in packaging and labeling the finished product.

The project teaches children about running a business including:

Coming up with product ideas 
Business planning
Obtaining financing
Acquiring raw ingredients

The children also learned to assume responsibilities, negotiate, compromise and team work.  

If they are able to sell the targeted number of bath bombs, the children will be able to recoup the cost and make money. The profit will be divided equally among the 4 girls involved in this project.

There is strong competition as different groups sell other products.

Aloha -- Cathi