Rejection and Hope

These two commercial buildings inspired this blog.

While traveling in Australia, I saw “The Reject Shop”. It made me laugh in the way that when you say, “you are kidding”, in unbelief. It is possible, that, that was the marketing plan – to shock. Imagine a retail store with a name like this America. Our society already has so many levels of rejection that a Reject Shop could potentially trigger more anxiety about our hidden racist truths. It is reminiscent of segregation and rejected people.

Rejection resonates as one of our deepest fears because it can be equivalent to a death sentence. Fear of rejection is coded into our DNA. Back millions of years ago in the savannas of Africa, when someone in your tribe was rejected and abandon in the wild to fend for themselves, they would most certainly die. Hence, the fear of rejection goes deep.

There are two types of rejection. Indirect rejection is by society. Direct rejection is from another person.

Poverty is a type of societal abandonment. A lack of housing, food, health care, education, basic hygiene leads to premature death. Without a guaranteed Living Wage or Universal Basic Income, there are people working full time and cannot afford to put a roof over their heads.

Societies with a smaller division between the rich and the poor with majority in the middle are happier. Happier because they feel like they belong. They can afford to participate in society. Government policy and politics, rather than geography make the difference. Look at San Diego vs Tijuana and Detroit vs Windsor.

We all experience rejection on some level. Rejections from lovers, friends, family, bosses, etc. Those rejections hurt too. Feeling unloved hurts.

Then I see “Bank of Hope”. It counterbalances “The Reject Shop”. The Bank of Hope reminds me of how we can bounce back. Setbacks help us discover who we are. Humans are resilient. Never give up. Bank on Hope. Believe. Then make a plan to achieve it. If you discover you don’t belong in a particular tribe, no worries, go find another tribe. Life’s an adventure.

You belong.


Vegan Italian Black Truffle Linguine

Plate of linguine with truffle and cashew sauce

This recipe is super easy and so elegant. Delicious meal for some lucky mom on Mother’s Day!

Serves 2-4 depending on your portion sizes.


1 cup raw cashews, soaked in 2 cups of water for at least 2hrs

Linguine (use about 1/2 pack for 2 servings)

1/2 jar Truffle Carpaccio in olive oil (6.35 oz) (use 1/2 of the jar for every 1 cup raw cashews). I bought mine at Costco. I have seen it on Amazon too.

1-2 tsp Garlic, minced

2 tbsp Fresh basil, chopped (optional)

Crushed red pepper 

Salt/pepper to taste

Boil water, add 1 tsp salt. Add linguine bring to rapid boil. Turn heat off. Cover for 12-14 minutes. Then drain.

While linguine is cooking, drain cashews, saving 1/2 cup of the water. Put cashews and 1/2 cup water into a blender and blend until creamy.

Mix cashew cream, truffle, garlic, basil.

Put linguine on individual serving plates, top w sauce, sprinkle w crushed red pepper, decorate with fresh basil and or truffle.

Buon appetito!


Happy Feet

My new Converse Chucks. When my feet are Happy. I am Happy.

Eons ago, men were the first to wear high heels. Hooking the heels into the stirrups provided stability while saddled on a horse. Much like our cowboy boots or our bicycle clips and pedals.

Today, the purpose of high heels is mainly sexual. Men claim to be more attracted to a woman in high heels. The French shoe designer Christian Louboutin said heels slowed the woman down, giving the man more time to look at her. A woman in motion, outside of male control, has long been viewed as a problem. What better way to tame these fleeing women…” Just reading this, I feel violated.

Heels higher than 2 inches prevent us from driving, walking downhills or on irregular surfaces like grass or cobblestones. High heels can damage knees, sprain ankles, and cause low back pain, potentially leading to a lifetime of arthritis and chronic pain.

Donning high heels also make us physically vulnerable. It prevents us from running away in the face of danger. High heels as part of a work dress code is a form of sexual harassment unless all genders have that as part of their dress code. The height of a woman’s heels is inversely correlated to her education level (University of Berkeley Wellness letter).

I have spoken to many women complaining of low back pain while wearing high heels. When I suggest that it could be their footwear, I can usually predict the answer: They insist that these are their most comfortable shoes (despite having back pain). High-heelers develops contracted short Achilles tendons. It hurts them to stand with flat feet!

Wearing flatter shoes, I can get to where I need to go faster. I am more productive, more competitive. Above all, more comfortable. Difficult to concentrate when my feet are sore. I am happy when my feet are happy.

This is why I am elated to see our VP, Kamala Harris wearing Converse Chucks, a classic American shoe. It tells me she means business: don’t mess with me, she can fend for herself. Exudes strength, confidence, and intelligence. Marches to her own beat. That is the energy I would like my persona to be. So I bought a pair. Comfort and confidence over conformity. Empowering. Those attributes are sexy too.

With these shoes, I feel like I can, as Woody says in Toy Story: Run like the wind Bullseye.

“Laced up and ready to win”


Anti-Bullying and Discrimination Survival

Growing up in a downtown urban community without structured resources, some of my happiest memories are hanging out with the neighborhood kids. We played hide-and-seek almost every day, all day. We had to use our eyes, ears, agility, and speed if we wanted to win. It built stamina and taught us to enjoy exercise. It was how we socialized.
As we got older, we played neighborhood baseball in an empty lot in the middle of the block. All we needed was a bat, ball, and enthusiasm. The bases were marked using a red building brick as chalk. We naturally learned about cooperation and competition. It was carefree training for a future of competitive sports. That was a time when it was safe to play outside without supervision. Unfortunately, that safety no longer exists.
Participating in exercise from an early age created a love for sports. At school, I was a natural at Track and Field. I was winning city competitions starting in first grade because I could run.
I got to experience that winning feels good. If I lost, I learned to pick myself up and work harder to face my next challenge.
Lucky for me, we had a terrific Physical Education program. Our PE teacher was not only knowledgeable and dedicated; she was nurturing. She introduced all these different activities: field hockey, lacrosse, tennis, volleyball, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, yoga, dance, cross county, track and field, swimming, diving, hockey, flag football, badminton, golf. There was something for everyone. The secondary bonus was it kept us busy after school until 6 pm. Unfortunately, with cutbacks, many of these programs are lacking in our current public school system. The onus is now on parents to find the time and money to create this outside of school hours. This privatization of PE can be a burden and creates inequalities.
Being part of a school team brought respect from my peers and teachers. It helped build my confidence and self-esteem. That experience taught me how essential athletics is for a child’s overall development. Athletes have an aura of confidence about them. That aura can shield them from bullying. The bullies tend to ignore and leave the athletes alone. Sometimes, I even felt I got better grades than I deserved from teachers because of my athletic success. My competitiveness in sports gave me confidence that led to my academic competitiveness. I believed anything that a guy could do, I could do better.

Here is another example of how sports can shift a child’s self-confidence. When my son was younger, people would ask him what his favorite sport was. He’d answer, “Basketball”. Next, they ask if he was on a team. My son bowed his head in shame and shook his head. It hurt me to see this. He tried out for the school team but got cut. That following summer, he made a commitment to become a better player. We set up a hoop on the driveway. Instead of day camps, we hired a kid from the local high school basketball team to coach him. The next year, he made the school team. When asked the same questions, he answered with pride and confidence. There was a definite shift in his self-esteem. He stood taller. Something I wish every kid to experience.
Get your kids involved with exercise from a young age. The two main categories of sports are individual and team. Different sports require different skill sets. There are the fine motor movements of golf, the agility of ice skating, the balance of gymnastics, the coordination of soccer, the speed of running, the grace and flexibility of dance, the strength of rowing and lifting, the reaction time of tennis, the precision of archery, etc. They all require focus, concentration, adaptability, and strategy—all excellent life skills. Remember, athletics is a type of intelligence. Develop it from a young age, so it becomes a way of life. Practice academics using the same strategy. Let your kids try a variety of activities to see which they gravitate to.

I have met people who say, “My kids will not be good at sports. I am not good at sports. Academics is our focus”. Nonsense. Don’t project your biases onto your children. They pick up on your attitude. Let them discover their strengths where ever they may lie. We don’t own our kids. They are gifts from the universe. As parents, our jobs are to help them reach their potential, whatever that might be.
Being good at sports may protect against bullying from people that you know. But what about societal bullying? I defined this as pervasive discrimination, racism, and hate that even parents experience. It can seeps into our children’s psyche subliminally. Or what if your child asks you, “Why do some people hate someone who looks like me?” This type of bullying is very harmful. It can adversely affect your child’s health permanently.
My response? Tell them: There will always be haters. You need to rise above them. Believe in yourself, believe that you can do anything, be anything you want. As parents or the primary adult in that child’s life, be a pillar for your kid. Encourage and help them to set goals and to work hard to achieve them. Be the example. Be the person with integrity and work ethic. Be the adult that cheers your child on; be their cheerleader. Give them confidence by letting them know you have their backs no matter what. Never judge. Validate them by letting them know that they are never alone. You will be there through thick and thin for them. Let them know that they can come to you for help. Teach them to love and respect themselves as much as you love and respect them.
These are the best gifts we can give our children.

Love and Respect. These are the best gifts we can give our children.

The above image is of the author performing a one handed cartwheel on beam many years ago.


Instant Pot Vegan Butternut Squash Tagine

An easy family favorite.

Squash and Chick Pea Tagine

If you like the texture of Japanese squash that just melts in your mouth, you will like this recipe. Serves 4-6.

Ingredients –

1 cup dried chick peas (or use 2 x 15. 5 oz cans. The dried tastes much better)

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp cooking oil (avocado or coconut)

3-4 cloves of garlic

1 can tomato paste – 6oz

1 can chopped tomatoes, drained – 14.5 oz (or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped)

1 Butternut squash, peeled and cubed; or Delicata Squash, sliced (no need to peel Delicata). Can use Pre cubed or frozen squash (Trader Joe’s or Costco). Approximately 2 cups.

1 tsp each Paprika, Cumin, Coriander

1/ 2 tsp Turmeric

1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Salt and Pepper to taste

1.5 cups Veggie broth (can use 2 Veggie Bouillons and 1.5 cups water)

4 dates, chopped

Rinse chick peas. Place in Instant Pot and cover with enough water to be at least 1 inch of water above the top of chick peas. Cook Instant Pot High pressure x 40 mins.

Then drain the chick peas and set aside.

Saute the onions (use Instant Pot if you have that function) with oil. When onions are caramelized, turn Instant Pot off. Add rest of ingredients. Mix well.

Set Instant Pot to high pressure x 10 mins. Let it rest for 5 mins.

Serve over brown rice or sour dough bread on side.


Toxic People Survival Tips: Be Empowered by Facing your Fears

Part 2 of: Dealing with Toxic People Over the Holidays

Encounters with toxic people, especially relatives, is a complicated topic. You are invited to a party you want to attend, but the toxic person who is also going will provoke unnecessary anxiety. Social norms use to be to tolerate the abuse from them. Thanks to the Positive Psychology Movement, we are empowered to say enough is enough.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are some suggestions to empower you.

 1. You decide not to go. 

When the negatives outweigh the positives, it is fair enough not to attend. No need to feel any guilt. Know your own limits. Set your boundaries and let yourself be free.

Set your boundaries and let yourself be free.

Spend some time on self-care: meditation and mindfulness practice, yoga (online classes or Apps are convenient esp in 2020 ), go for a walk or hike, listen to your favorite music, take a warm bath (with few drops of pure essential lavender oil and or Epsom salts), call a friend, go out with a friend (following local pandemic rules), read a book, watch a movie, journal, book a massage or acupuncture appointment to center your energy, schedule a hair or nail appointment, practice earthing and go hug a tree or walk on the beach. No self-pity. Also, realize if you don’t show up enough times, you might not get another invitation. 

2. Pre-event preparation – Before you go

Do the above self-care in #1. 

Find strength from the support of empathic and compassionate friends or therapist. Practice self-compassion and self-love.

MANTRA: Look yourself in the mirror and look directly into your own eyes and say out loud – I am beyond criticism, I am equal to all, I am fearless. By performing it exactly like this, it re-enforces your embodiment of it.

MANTRA: Look yourself in the mirror and look directly into your own eyes and say out loud – I am beyond criticism, I am equal to all, I am fearless.

Discuss with other invited kindred souls what is acceptable behavior. Enlist their support. 

Ask them to support you, rescue you, or better yet vow to yourself to be your own hero, and come to your own rescue. 

Have a backup, a safe place or person. 

Have an exit plan. 

Practice some come back lines (see During Event #3).

Breathe. You always have your breath. 

For Zoom calls: Say a quick hello and greeting, then stay on the sidelines out of view or click “video” off or leave.

Be in the mindset of curiosity and be open to what might happen next. Avoid anticipation.

Be in the mindset of curiosity and be open to what might happen next.

3. During the Event

Many different options depending on what you are comfortable with and what degree of toxicity exists.

-Turn off your ego (This takes practice).

-Repeat MANTRA from #2. 

-The other person’s behavior is not about you and not your responsibility.  

-Pretend you don’t hear any criticism, don’t engage – no reply is necessary; smile and walk away. Escape by going to the restroom; hanging out with a non threatening subgroup (kids, senior folks, etc); go to your rescue your person.

-Call it out for what it is – for example, directly say: that is rude; that is hurtful; that is inappropriate, and please stop; sarcasm: you have a way of “cheering” up a room/person, mind your manners, etc.

-Say directly to toxic person, “What does what you just said, say about you?” or “You seem uncomfortable with me, I can keep my distance.” Then move on, You are not looking for an answer. You are not engaging.

-Limit it to a simple greeting, set boundaries, and no need to engage. 

-Reply with kindness and compassion. It might throw them off: you looking nice/younger/healthy today; you look like you have been working out. I like your hair/lovely necklace/dress/jacket; you look younger every time I see you; this best dinner; what a great job you did. Sometimes you have to counteract with positive manipulations. 

-Although they subconsciously try to pull you down to where they are, you can try to pull them up with kindness. That takes some centering and grounding on your part. See #1 and #2.

-Set strong boundaries. Let offender know they have crossed the line and behavior is unacceptable.  

-Dissociate. Use your higher cerebral function to zone out. Imagine yourself in a calmer space. Start with relaxing your shoulders and taking a nice slow deep breath.

-Just smile and act confused by what just transpired.

What does what you just said, say about you?

-Give them a second chance to redeem themselves after an inappropriate statement: do you want to re-phrase that? Or can you apologize for that? 

-Do a skillful misdirect – talk about a new planet or some professional sports teams or anything quirky. Practice switching the conversation to gain control.
Feel free to bring up something controversial: religion, politics, guns, abortion, current events, etc. Maybe someone else will jump in and be loud and forceful. Then you can sideline out.

-The itch and scratch technique. Pretend you are itchy. Start scratching. People tend to find that very annoying. You could even add, I hope it is not contagious, maybe you should go wash your hands. This method takes acting skills, some premeditated dishonesty. But you are in survival mode. This phrase likely can only be used once with the same person.

-If you are cornered and accused of this or that: for example, “You don’t like me do you?”. Tell the truth about how you feel: “You are making me feel anxious/uncomfortable. Now excuse me, I got to go”. Then walk away.

-Show empathy and compassion – “I am sorry you feel this way”. If you feel comfortable enough suggest they get some professional help.

-Treat them like child because their emotional development is at the same level. 

-If you see someone else being bullied, interject. It’s the best gift you can give.

-If you are sitting at the dinner table and cannot physically distance, be a witness to the whole scene. Likely the toxic person has a fragile ego and will insult you to protect themselves. Your best protection, since you cannot physically distance, is mentally distance. Do not give anything of yourself. The toxic person does not deserve it. Keep it simple. Just nod. Just agree. Respond with single words: Yes or Sure or OK or Interesting. Keep a flat affect. Be uninteresting and unresponsive.

-Be like a “Grey Rock”. Your objective is to make the toxic person lose interest in you. Don’t feed their needs for drama or attention.

-Gift them with some self-help books. 

-Zero tolerance for racism. Call it out.  

-Feel free to walk away – your body your right. 

-Breathe. You always have your breath. Take a slow deep belly breath to calm and gather your wits. 

-Don’t worry about offending toxic people. They likely will not recognize it.

-Remember your MANTRA from #2

-Keep up the slow deep breathing. Stay centered and grounded. The insult has already passed.

-Acceptance. It is not about you.

-Be honest with yourself – Is the enemy that I see myself just wearing different clothes? Their weaknesses are my weaknesses.

-Each insult helps you understand yourself at a deeper level. It enables you to grow stronger.

See yourself in the toxic person and send them love and compassion thru your prayers.

Remember to show yourself compassion and love. Be your own best friend.

3. Post-event recovery: 

Wind down time.

Refer to #1

Aromatherapy with 100% essential oils – lavender calming, citrus cheering, and peppermint for headaches, cooling. You can put a few drops into bowl of dried flowers or potpourri.   

Make a warm cup of herbal tea. Sit back and elevate your feet. Take a moment to relax.

Remember to be your own best friend. Practice self-compassion and self-love.

Let it go. People can only function at their level of consciousness. 

C’est la vie.

Finally, live your life with kindness and grace. Be grateful for one another.

Congratulate yourself.

Wishing you a happy and sane holiday for 2020 and forevermore. 

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. —– Eleanor Roosevelt

Minions from Universal Pictures

Inspired by Chopra App  —



Dealing with Toxic People Over the Holidays

Part 1.

There comes a time when you realize you should not have to put up with toxic people in your life anymore. Life is too short to waste your time on people who make you feel worse during or after your interaction.

The toxicity can come in the form of angry tantrums, direct insults to you, subtle micro-aggressive phrases, often disguised as jokes that they put you down, to one-upping or body shaming.

Ideally, we should surround ourselves with empathic and compassionate people who cheer us on and encourage us to be our best.

Sometimes it is impossible to avoid toxic people because they come disguised as relatives, friends, or co-workers.

If you are thinking, I don’t have any toxic people in your life, could you be the toxic one? Unaware of your actions and how they affect other people?

Toxic people don’t necessarily realize they are toxic. I believe this negative energy stems from insecurity and a lack of self-worth derived from past unmanaged traumas. We all have this to varying degrees. It is a matter of self control, emotional maturity and awareness. The toxic person bullies and you are expected to tolerate it.

Usually, I would say no matter how you feel, keep your energy to the positive side. But with this year being 2020, I am already at my limit.

I am in despair.

This dilemma is still a work in progress for me.

Continued in Part 2: Toxic People Survival Tips: Be Empowered by Facing your Fears

Disney Cruella


What to consider before posting a negative online review

A dentist cannot have a successful practice without a great hygienist. Several years ago, my dentist, an older man with a large-sized abdomen and cigarette breath, came in to perform his biannual routine examination during a dental hygiene appointment. He never spoke much, but the few words he did say were in a falsetto-like tone that did not match his facial expression. It was like he was wearing a “mask.” Hiding something in an empty joy. Anyway, the office was very well-appointed. There was a beautiful stone waterfall in the waiting room, the staff always pleasant, and I loved my hygienist. Plus, he accepted my insurance. 

As it happened, the dentist said he found a tiny irregularity starting in a crown located in my upper posterior left molar. I would need a new crown. 

“But it doesn’t bother me,” I said. He replied, “It is preventive and needs to be fixed before there are more serious problems.” This is a frequent dental story for me. I fear every time a dentist does something to my fillings and crowns, my teeth weaken. Reluctantly, I agreed. 

The following week, I was back. It was worse than I anticipated. Old crowns are not easily removed; it required a great deal of yanking, twisting, and pulling. The procedure left me feeling drained.   

Then back again to get my new crown. After the dentist installed it, he checked the spacing with dental floss. The floss did not snap like it usually should. But I figured he knew what he was doing. 

To my surprise, a “small salad” was nestling itself into this new gap created by the recent crown after each meal during the next few days. Annoyed, I called my dental office to complain. They apologized and said that the only solution was to replace the crown. That would be too traumatic for me, both mentally and physically. 

I was so upset. My mouth was perfectly fine until he subjected me to a procedure that I did not want. I could get revenge by giving him a scathing one-star Yelp review. A horrible social media comment could hurt his practice. But did I want to do that?

Nevertheless, I had to consider my responsibility to warn other patients about his incompetence. Something in my sub-conscience stopped me from moving forward with a bad review. I didn’t want to hurt him. There were hints he already had his personal problems. 

I looked him up on the state licensing site. Learned that most dentists are not Board Certified like the majority of physicians. He was in his 70’s. Plus, he was in poor health because he was an older, likely long time smoker, obese, and with his fake voice sent me the message that he needed his job. If I were in my seventies, obese, and smoking, I would spend time on self-care. You can’t get this time back. He had to have been someone for whatever reason, had to keep working. His energy was like a man already on edge. His future patients will have to figure it out for themselves as to his level of incompetence.

As a habit, I always try to find the silver lining when something bad happens. How could I put a positive spin on this? My oral hygiene has improved because now I had to floss and rinse after eating anything that required chewing. 

A few days later, the dentist called me and told me he had a solution. He could apply some dental bonding material into the gap. 

It sounded like a good idea. 

So again, I was on the dental chair as he wrapped a wire around my tooth and pulled on it sideways to create a wider space to allow him to place the bonding material in-between the teeth. 

That evening when I went to floss, I discovered he bonded the wrong teeth together! Now I have a gap between two teeth and another two teeth glued together.

I was furious. Truly incompetent! I filed a complaint with my dental insurance company. Still, I could not bring myself to write a bad social media review.

Years before this, I had a boss who harassed me to the point where I felt I had to quit my job. I joked to my colleagues that I had to leave before I strangled him. This was before 9/11, when you could say stuff like that, and no one took you literally. 

After I secured a job elsewhere, I filed a complaint against my ex-boss. A couple of years later, my ex-boss committed suicide. When someone you know (or even someone you don’t know personally) kills themselves, it is the most unsettling experience. There are so many unanswered questions. That experience left me with some undeserved guilt. 

For my dentist with the empty joy, suicide was not an impossible outcome. Maybe that was what prevented me from writing a bad review. In the balance of everything, I decided best for me to move on and find another dentist. 

Over the next few months, the tooth “glue” fell out. 

Fast forward to 2019, and my lower teeth were becoming crowded and uneven. Teeth shift over time, and jaws can get smaller. Crooked teeth are difficult to brush and thoroughly clean. It was recommended I get Invisalign to correct this issue.

As my lower teeth were straightened, my upper teeth needed to shift in order to create a new stable bite.

Low and behold, the gap left by that crazy dentist came in handy! With the extra space on my upper left, the orthodontist had room to shift my upper teeth. The gap was gone!

Now my teeth look great. My smile looks better than ever. 

This is Karma. 

I should apologize and thank that dentist. 

And I am glad I never wrote that bad review. 


Planned Acts of Kindness

“Do something outside yourself… something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you.” — RBG 2012

In tribute to RBG: Planned Acts of Kindness

Everyday I make it a point to let someone pass in front of me in traffic (especially at the on ramp between 405 and 101). It makes me feel good that I made someone’s day a little easier. It is a planned act of kindness.

Some people get upset at the line-cutter. But you never know what the line-cutter is going through. Rather than getting upset, reframe it so it becomes your act of kindness. The other driver might be late for work or an appointment, forgot to change lanes until it was too late, maybe they always cut in with bad intentions. But that is on them.

Just feel good and hope the other person feels good from your actions.

Kindness will start to ripple.

The both of you might then, later make someone else feel good too.

By getting angry with other people’s thoughtless actions, the only person you end up hurting is yourself. It will make you unhealthy. Stress hormones hastens aging, increases blood pressure, inflammation, etc.

The person who behave with bad intent, will get their negative energy reflected back on them sooner or later. Karma. But sometimes people are really sincere and or need your kindness. I have been in a line cutting urgent situation and really appreciated someone letting me in. Someone who didn’t give me a dirty look but a kind smile and wave. I always wave in appreciation.

“Are they taking advantage of me?” Remind yourself, “It doesn’t matter.” The goal is to bring them some joy.

If we all planned at least one kind thing to do each day, I believe this shift in universal consciousness will heal us and all else that needs to be healed.

Here are some examples of things you can do to show kindness that ultimately comes back to make you feel joy.

  • Greet everyone you meet today with a big smile that goes from your heart to your eyes to their eyes, even if you don’t feel like it
  • “How are you? ” Pause to wait for the answer
  • When you approach a clerical or cashier type person who does not greet you or looks like they are having a bad day, says to them, “Your job is tough” or “How do you do it?” or ‘You look like you have had a long day”. Hope you are off soon and get some rest with your feet up, etc.
  • Listen
  • Open the door for someone
  • Give a helping to hand to someone who looks like they are struggling with heavy groceries (Grateful for those of you who have helped me in Costco parking lot!)
  • Use words like: Please, Thank you, You’re Welcome, My Pleasure, I appreciate you.
  • Give words of support, encouragement
  • Give a compliment
  • Cheer people on
  • Give someone a hug. (ask permission plus mind the Covid )
  • If someone is struggling to pay for something in a store, help them out
  • Pay it forward by paying for the car behind you at a drive thru
  • Offer to pick up groceries for a neighbor or walk their dog
  • Pet sit for someone
  • Leave a big tip for waiter, hairdresser, cleaning people, gardener, etc
  • Give your seat to a new mom with a baby in her arms or anyone else who would appreciate a seat
  • Give up your lower ticket number in the “returns line” to someone who is in hurry or looks stressed (esp at the IKEA returns. Have your ear pods ready and listen to a podcast or book or music. Relax while you wait.)
  • While waiting in line, start up a cheerful conversation with the person beside you
  • Give something to a panhandler. Ask them to tell you their story.
  • Volunteer locally – missions, churches, temples, mosques coach a team, pick up garbage from a public space, pull weeds from the park, plant some flowers
  • Leave some flowers or bottles of water for people walking by your yard
  • Donate to a cause you believe in
  • Donate to local food bank
  • Bring interesting snacks to share with co-workers
  • If you don’t have money to donate, send an email to a politician about your concerns or make suggestions on how to make the world a better place – like climate change, homelessness, lack of affordable health care, etc
  • Mentor a child or student
  • Teach someone to read
  • Become a Big Brother or Sister
  • Bring lunch for a co-worker
  • Cook a meal for a neighbor
  • Drive someone to their doctor’s appointment
  • Donate blood
  • Buy some Girl Scout cookies even if you don’t eat them
  • Discover your own ways to be kind by being mindful of ” How can I be of help or be of service? “
  • VOTE. I have never missed an election. It matters.

Write in the comments if you have acts of kindness ideas to share

Be aware of what you do, say and think. Be conscious of how it affects others and the universe. Act from your heart. With every interaction you have, make your best effort to leave the other person feeling better than they did before they met with you. You will feel better too.

Planning acts of kindness is really a type of healing therapy.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg 1933-2020

In memory of RBG, whose brilliant life gave women the right to live our lives true to ourselves and to control our own destiny. So grateful for you. Sending you love. RIP.


Queer Eye Eggplant Dish

Queer Eye Cast Tan, Antoni, Bobby, Jonathan, Karamo

If you haven’t watched it already, Queer Eye is a Netflix series where 4 guys and a person AKA the Fab Five go around solving people’s life problems. In each episode, they coach someone who is stuck in their life, move on and thrive. Each of the Fab Five specializes in different life topics that the writers of the show believe you need to optimize in order discover your bliss.

What are the life topics? You need to have a beautiful cut hair and updated flattering clothes, which help to increase your self confidence. A home makeover, designed to reflect your personality and lifestyle. How eat better and to cook something delicious. Lastly and the most important aspect, to find clarity in your mental health. They bring joy and laughter through kindness and affirmations by basically being their fun and loving selves.

It is a dream makeover. Oozing with empathy and compassion, while cheering everyone on.

They presented this easy and delicious plant based recipe that I actually made.

It is from the episode “The Anxious Activist”.

WARNING. This recipe is very high in sodium. If you have a medical condition that requires you to limit your daily salt intake, this recipe is NOT for you. Although you could skip the step where the eggplant is sprinkled with salt. But it will taste different and have a different texture. I have not tried it this way.


Brown Rice, Vegetable broth, Lentils, Eggplant, Salt, Onions, Garlic, Bay leaf, cooking oil like Avocado or Almond

1 1/2 cups of dry brown rice to be cooked in vegetable broth (buy rice grown in California, organic preferred. Rice from other parts of USA have been found to be higher in arsenic. If concerned, soak brown rice over night in water. Throw out that water and rinse rice well. Might help remove some of the arsenic).

1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed. Put four cups of water into a pot. Add lentils and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a very low simmer, cover and set your timer for 20-25 minutes. Drain.

1 medium to large eggplant, sliced thinly (like 1/16-1/8 inch). Sprinkle both sides of eggplant slices with salt and let weep for 30 mins, then rinse and dry to remove salt. Note, I just swipe off salt and water with a paper towel. This gives the eggplant a real salt punch, which I like but it does add a lot of salt to the dish. How much salt you can consume is between you and your doctor. Heat some oil in frying pan and fry eggplant until brown. Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch pieces.

2 sweet onions– cut in half and slice thinly

Garlic minced, as much or as little as you like

Pan fry onions, garlic with oil until very brown.

Mixed the above cooked ingredients together. Serve hot with a side salad.

Please leave any comments or questions. Look forward to them.

Side Note about Arsenic in grains:

California Basmati rice lowest in Arsenic. Brown Rice has more Arsenic than white of the same type. Low arsenic in Quinoa, buckwheat, millet. Texan Rice amongst the highest in Arsenic.
I saw this in the ancient Palace of Sintra in Portugal.
Reminds me of Jonathan. at 27 minutes


Happy Box

During this Covid19 shelter in place pandemic, I had the time to clean up my house. I found 3 boxes of things I kept from my childhood.

While going thru my memorabilia, it occurred to me there is a real possibility that I could die from Covid19. Looking at all my stuff, I asked “What are the really important things in my life?”.

All of the material goods and money became meaningless.

I did a Marie Kondo and purged a lot of junk from my life. It is rather satisfying.

Then I created a box I call my Happy Box. In this box I put the things that make me happy. Things that put a smile on my face. They are mostly photos, letters, cards, and kids’ art work. Reminder of happy times.

I can go to this Happy Box whenever I need to cheer myself up.

Kids drawing of mermaid

How to make a good Happy Box? Look for a box with an attached lid that is large enough to fit a sheet of paper and small enough to fit on your lap comfortability. Large shoe boxes are ideal. Then fill it with joy.

Large Shoe Box for a Happy Box
<p class="has-text-align-center has-blue-background-color has-background has-normal-font-size" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><strong><em>In the end, all that you can take with you is what is in your heart</em></strong>. <em><strong>Make it a good one.</strong></em>In the end, all that you can take with you is what is in your heart. Make it a good one.

You are LOVED


Covid19 Ceilings and Video Conferences

Ceiling light

During this time of Covid19, like many of you, I have been making use of Zoom, FaceTime, and other video conferencing services. Until now, many people have not had the need to prop up their smart devices with a stand. Without a stand, during the video conference, their phone slips and I end up talking to a ceiling.

There is a solution.

Toilet Paper roll smart phone stand

You can easily make a smart phone stand with a toilet paper roll. I know there are plenty of these rolls out there because so many people bought so much toilet paper during the pandemic.

Here’s a video on how to make a toilet paper roll smart phone stand.

How to make a smart phone stand with a toilet paper roll

Toxic Shopping Cart Cleaner Alternatives and Homemade Hand Sanitizer (Updated 07/05/2020)

At my local Trader Joe’s and Sprouts the Cart Cleaning Wipes contain “Quats”. I see people using these toxic wipes to wipe themselves down too! What if it is a pregnant woman using this? What if a baby touches this and then puts his or hands in their mouths? What if you are the next person to use this cart that is now covered with Quats?

I asked the TJ store manager about these environmental and human unfriendly wipes. He said that this all the corporation offers. When I mention it to one of the TJ cashiers, the response was,  “Ours contains natural orange oils, so it is so safe you can wipe your hands with it”… Umm, I don’t think so.

Quats are quaternary ammonium compounds, which are endocrine disruptors (see below) in humans and toxic to marine life.

Here is the truth about chemical disinfectants:

Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) cause asthma in workers who breathe too much of it in their jobs. They can trigger asthma attacks. They can also irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. But when used correctly diluted, in a well vented area, it kills virus. It is a “natural”.

Quaternary ammonium compounds (also known as QUATs, QACs, or QATs). Use of QUATs has been associated with the growth of bacteria that are resistant to disinfection. Sometimes this resistance also transfers to antibiotics. In laboratory studies, QUATs were found to damage genetic material (genes). Benzalkonium chloride is a severe eye irritant and causes and triggers asthma. Exposures to QUATs may cause allergic skin reactions.

Triclosan is a suspected endocrine disruptor (see below) and also lead to the development of antibiotic- resistant bacteria.

Phthalates are used in fragrances that are found in air fresheners and cleaning and sanitizing products. They are endocrine disruptors. Research indicates that phthalates increase the risk of allergies and asthma and can affect children’s neurodevelopment and thyroid function. Studies show links between phthalates in mothers to abnormal genital development in boys. Phthalates have been found in human urine, blood, semen, amniotic fluid, and breast milk.

Thymol derived from oil of Thyme (natural). Recently EPA approved for Covid19 disinfection. No long lasting environmental impact.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that vaporize at room temperature. Many VOCs that are released by cleaning supplies have been linked to chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, allergic reactions, and headaches.

But Whole Foods has it right. Their cart wipes are non toxic:

Good to reduce exposure to unwanted bacteria and viruses. No one wants to get the Flu or Corona virus.

So here’s what you can do. Make your own Alcohol based hand sanitizer sprayer or purchase one. You can then spray all sorts of things with this: Shopping cart handle, credit card pen, touch screens, airplane seat belt buckle, arm rests and tray tables. You have to spray enough the the object looks soaked. Then let it dry.

(But glad to see more and more touch-less credit card transactions. I use my Apple watch to pay for many things now. So convenient. And clean. ) 

Make your own Hand Sanitizer Sprayer

Into your 2oz spray bottle, add few drops of essential oil – the number of drops of pure 100% essential oil you add depends on how strong you want the fragrance. Put a few drops in, see how it smells. You can always add more, combine different oils to make your own scents. I love the smell of citrus, which is uplifting, cheerful. Whereas Lavender is calming. Peppermint is energizing and Patchouli for misc. skin health. Tea tree oil is antiseptic. The tangerine (my favorite) is orange in color so technically it could stain. A word of caution: Citrus oil can irritate some people’s skin, cause allergies more so than other oils and or cause photo dermatitis. All essential oils can be irritating if your skin is sensitive.

I usually add about 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 oz  bottle sprayer. Then fill the rest of the bottle with 70% rubbing alcohol. Leaving some room for sprayer tubing. Cons: spraying makes noise. So if you are in a quiet place, you can hear the spray.

Color of the Hand Sanitizer spray with tangerine essential oil is a light orange (on the left).

The labeled hand sanitizer were purchased from Whole Foods:  The small one fits nicely into a small purse. They can easily be refilled too. 


Hormones are substances that are produced by our endocrine system.

  • In very, very small amounts hormones control growth, reproduction, metabolism, development, behavior, sleep functions, immune function, and stress. These are all functions that are critical for life.
  • These functions are controlled by hormonal messages sent by the endocrine system.
  • Hormones also play a role in many diseases, including diabetes and cancer.Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interrupt or imitate those natural hormonal messages.
    • Since hormones work at very small doses, endocrine disrupting chemicals can also affect health in very small amounts.
    • According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, endocrine disruptors may cause reduced fertility in women and men, early puberty in girls, and increases in cancers of the breast, ovaries, and prostate.
    • A 2013 report from the World Health Organization reports that evidence linking hormone-mimicking chemicals to human health problems has grown stronger over the past decade, becoming a “global threat” that should be addressed.

References – *EPA

Environmental Working Group


Why It Takes 20 Second to Wash Your Hands

It takes at least 20 seconds to wash your hands because you have 23 areas to wash! I went as fast as I could in this video.

Remember faucets are contaminated so turn water off with your towel and throw it away. In this situation, we use cotton hand towels that we reuse after they are washed in hot water, bleach and high heat of dryer.

How to wash your hands correctly

Let me know if you have any comments or questions. Please follow me so you can be alerted to new content. Thanks Everyone!


Hepa vs Double Layer Tea Towel Filter Comparison


My Hepa filters finally arrived. They are vacuum bags that I cut into 3.5 x 4.5 inch pieces.

There are 3 thin layers so I put a tiny amount of glue in the corners to secure the pieces together.

After wearing it all day today in my pocket mask, I really like it, Thinner and lighter feeling than the double layer tea towel. Was not harder to breath. It is more flexible. Hepa filter is not washable though. Remember to remove it and let it air our for 24 hours after use. Wash mask separately.

People who win a mask will get both filters to try for themselves. Would appreciate your comparison in the feed back especially in regards to comfort.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to them!

Many people are asking do Hepa Filter vacuum bags contain fiberglass?

Short Answer is NO.

They are made of Polypropylene.

Here are the references:


This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat.

Everyone’s situation is different.

Essays, Uncategorized

How to Sanitize and care for Your Homemade Reusable Mask (updated 04/30/2020)


Cleaning your reusable mask properly will be important. You want to retains its effectiveness for as long as possible. Having the removable insert will definitely help the mask’s longevity.

Covid19 virus is much more stable in the environment than other viruses which makes it highly contagious. Aerosolized Covid is detectable in the air for up to three hours. According the the reference below, on a cloth face mask Covid19 would be viable for 2 days.

Cart of how long Covid lives on surfaces
Mask with outside down

To take your mask off, your hands have to be properly cleaned. The outside of your mask is considered contaminated so don’t touch it. With clean hands, take mask off by the ear loops. I put mine directly into a paper bag until I can wash it. The paper bag needs to be discarded. If you will need to put it back on again before washing, then put mask down with outside part facing down onto a couple layers of paper towel. Then, with clean hands, handle only the ear loops to put back on your face. The paper towel will need to be discarded.

You will want to wash your reusable mask for 2 reasons. Grime and build up of virus.

How do I sanitize my homemade mask? 

Different options are:

  • Separate your mask and double layer tea towel inserts. Put mask and tea towel inserts into a cotton pillow case. You will need to tie the pillow case up with a knot, shoelace or string or use a wash bag. If you don’t do this, your mask can get destroyed in either the washer or dryer. Put pillow case and its contents in washer and run hot water cycle with small amount of detergent. After washing, put the closed pillow case with mask and filter into dryer with high heat setting. After it is dry, it is ready for reuse. You need one mask and 2 tea towel filters to do this method.
  • If you want to leave mask and filters out to air dry, preferably under a heat vent or direct sunlight, then to be safe, leave it out for at least 48 hours before re-wearing. If you put it out in direct sunlight, 24 hours might be good enough. Make sure you open up the mask and put the outside of the mask up towards the sunlight. You might need about 3 masks with 8 tea towel inserts. Each day of mask use, requires 2 inserts since your should change out your mask insert about half way thru your day (every 3-4 hours if wearing continuously). Washing does cause your mask to lose some fibers. You need to check mask and insert regularly to make sure it has not thinned out or damaged. A Hepa insert can’t be washed. You have to let a Hepa insert sit out for 72 hours because they are made of polypropylene. Hepa filters need to be replaced every 6 months or immediately if it looks soiled, damaged, or filled with virus (you cannot see that with naked eye). Hepa filters are not so expensive. You can make more filters by cutting up a Hepa vacuum bag.
  • You could let it sit for 5 minutes in a diluted bleach solution (colored fabric will get discolored). To make this solution use 1 quart hot water and 2 tablespoons of Regular Clorox Bleach disinfectant (6% Sodium hypochlorite if you are using another brand). Too strong of a bleach solution can destroy fabric. Too weak of a solution will not sanitize. Put mask and tea towel filter into a plastic container like a cleaned large yogurt container. Add enough of diluted bleach solution to cover mask (and dish towel inserts). Never put bleach directly onto fabric. It will destroy the fabric. Avoid splashing, as bleach is an acid and is corrosive. Make sure mask is completely covered with the diluted bleach solution. Gently swirl your mask around then let your mask soak for 5 minutes in the diluted bleach solution. To swirl mask, use either a wooden stick like spare plain wood chopsticks (not lacquered) or wooden spoon to swirl. These wood items and plastic container should now be dedicated to washing your mask only. You can also wear protective gloves especially if you have reusable ones. Don’t want to waste disposable ones. Avoid metal as the metal corrodes but note that the nose wire in my masks are aluminum. The metal will slowly corrode over time if you bleach frequently. Rinse well: 3 times then let it sit in fresh rinse water for 15minutes and rinse again. Use wood stick to hold mask when pouring out the water. This will prevent the mask from falling into sink. Remove mask from water and roll up the mask lengthwise then gently squeeze out water. Hang to dry. If you can, near a heat vent or in the sunlight. This will shorten the drying time. With bleach method of sanitizing, you do not need to wait 48 hours before wearing mask again. Just as long as it is dry. Some important notes about bleach. An unopened container of bleach shelf life is only 1 year and after it is opened expires in 6 months if stored at 70 degrees, in a dark (opaque plastic) airtight container. Light and air will degrade bleach. You want to make sure your bleach is not “expired” otherwise it will not kill the germs, in this case Covid19. Your bleach mixture is only good for 24 hours. It won’t sanitize after that.
  • Other methods are UV light. A hospital in Nebraska is doing this. I am not going to advise this method because UV only sanitizes the surface it shines on and there are too many folds in our mask to make this work. Plus the power of the UV light and the distance from it are other variables difficult for a non professional to calculate. UV light can damage your eyes. Probably not a good idea for your average household. (
  • DO NOT microwave because there is metal in the mask.  
  • REMINDERS – Do inspect your mask for wear and tear. If it feels like it is thinning out or you can see light thru it or damaged, replace it. Hoping this pandemic will be over before you need a new one. Please send me a comment. Any ideas are welcomed.

Congratulations for learning about this. Thank you for contributing to a greater societal good and protecting yourself and the people around you. I know for many, this is a really difficult time. We will get thru this.

Question: How do you personally cleaning your mask? I am either letting it sit for 48 hours or washing with detergent and hot water, hanging it to dry for at least 48 hrs. Reasons for that are 1. Bleach will likely corrode the wire piece, 2. bleach weaken the mask fibers 3. I could not find any bleach anywhere so bleaching not an option for me right now.

Question: How do I prevent my eye glasses from fogging up when I have a mask on?

Here ‘s what I have done- pull the mask up closer to my eyes so hot expelled air is further from glasses and can escape out up at top glasses and not on your glasses. It also means the seal at top of my mask is not air tight. Try to get a better fit with the top of the mask. A true N95 mask would not fog up your glasses if properly worn. You can also try dipping your glasses in a diluted dish soap solution and letting it air dry.

May you be Happy, May you be Healthy.


This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat.

Everyone’s situation is different.


How to Make an Effective Reusable Face Mask


Me with a face mask on

The goal of this article is to show you how to create a mask that is effective against respiratory viruses using materials found in most households. No mask is 100%, as seen by the study in part 1 comparing N95 to surgical masks. My other criteria are that, not only must it meet some known standard of protection, but must also be reusable, washable and comfortable enough that you could wear for hours if you had to.

Logic tells me that we need to practice universal precautions. If everyone, absolutely everyone, is wearing some sort of mask all the time and with the addition of proper hand hygiene, it would really help stem this Covid19 pandemic.

We need to assume EVERYONE has a Covid19 infection because asymptomatic carriers can still spread the infection. This is called presymptomatic transmission. We can technically get sick without face to face contact too. Covid19 can stay in the air for up to 3 hours after someone coughs. Wearing a mask all the time will help prevent that method of transmission.

Let’s go step by step as to how to make an Effective Reusable Face Mask.

What fabric to use? 

For fabric, I recommend using 100% cotton. Cotton is highly absorbable, so things tend to stick to it (but not water resistance). Also cotton is washable in hot water and high heat of dryer and comfortable against your skin. I chose to use the color white because it allows for the option to use bleach in the wash (more about this in part 3).

Thicker bed sheets, pillow cases or dress shirt with high thread count are other options for fabric. I bought 100% white cotton fabric from Joann Fabrics. The fabric was probably too thin to use as a single layer. I hoped the weave would tighten after I pre-washed it in hot water and high heat of dryer. It did, but not enough. With 100% cotton, you need to pre-shrink the fabric in hot water and high heat of dryer before sewing with it. If you don’t, your finished product, in this case your mask, will shrink after it’s first hot water or high heat dryer exposure. I decided that with my current fabric, to use it as a double layer so that it was thick enough that I can not see through it. In your finished product, when you hold it up to the light, you should not be able to see through it. If you can see through it, it is not a good filter.

As you will see later, with the mask pattern that I used, I ended up with a mask that was 4 layers thick with a pocket. The pocket allows for the option to put additional protective filter(s). I made a 15 x 15 inch cardboard template to guide cutting out the fabric pieces. The fabric was folded in half and ironed to remove the wrinkles and flatten the fold. Final fabric piece was 15 x 7.5 inch as required by the YouTube video. If your starting fabric is thick enough, you can cut it into 15 x 7.5 inch pieces.

This is the pattern I used: Youtube video . One thing I saw wrong about other Youtube videos was they used pins which puts holes in the mask! No Pins Please. This definitely would reduce effectiveness. Use sewing clips as depicted in this video. It is very well done and easy to follow. Plus love the pocket.

Below is a chart showing how various fabrics compare when it comes to filtering 0.3 micron sized particles . The CEO of Smart Filter, Paddy Robertson has several evidence based presentations with materials they have either tested in their lab or have references to published data. It appears to be trustworthy.

According to this website, out of all the household materials they experimented with, paper towels do not work very well (hence not shown here) but a double layer of dish towels was superior. 

DIY mask materials ranked
Double layer of dish towel is same as surgical mask effectiveness

Based on these results, a mask made of 2 layers of tea/dish towel has the same filtering effects as a surgical face mask. Therefore, I decided to use a double layer of tea towel in the pocket of my homemade mask. (Update: my Hepa filter Vacuum bags arrived and I am also using them too). These 2 materials should be close to effectiveness of a surgical mask.


Breathability of Various Materials

You can see that as the breathability goes up, the effectiveness goes down. Another reason why I like the mask with the pocket. You can personally vary the comfort of the mask with various inserts, knowing that with increases in effectiveness there is also an increase the airflow resistance. Increased air resistance makes every breath a little harder. Having 2 separate parts to the mask allows for more flexibility, easer to replace insert if a part wears out and easier to clean.

Pocket Insert Material. For the pocket of my face mask, I cut out 2 pieces of preshrunk dish towel to 5 x 5.5 inch pieces. The 2 layers were sewn together with a zigzag stitch, then a straight stitch around the edges. I will be experimenting with a Hepa filter when it arrives from Amazon in a few days. Will re-post then as to its comfort level compared with double layer of tea towel. Following up – they are both are not easy to breath thru.

For the nose piece wire, I used aluminum jewelry wire. But 2 pieces of twist tie or gardening wire would work too. A small strip of foam was glued over the wire area for comfort. Other fabrics instead of foam could be felt, fleece or piece of an old sweat shirt. The elastic bands were 12 inches. Other substitutes for elastic bands are rubber bands, ribbon, shoe strings, cutting a wider elastic band into multiple strips.

Mask effectiveness Before and after 3 hrs of use

How many hours can the same mask be worn and still be effective? Smartfilter tested N95 and Surgical masks for up to 3 hours and the masks were still performing well. Unknown how it performs beyond that time. For the pocket masks you can change out the filter at about 3 hours or even change out the mask if your mask tends to get a moisture build up. You have to have a spare ready to go.

Mask Longevity Test at: New 99.4%; 20 days 99.1%; 30 days 99.5%

How many times can I reuse my N95 mask? Smartfilter tested the an N95 mask for up to 30 days and there was only a slight decrease in performance. New mask, 20 days, 30 days respectively: 99.4%, 99.1%, 99.5%.  With the homemade pocket mask, washing creates some fiber loss. How critical this is has not been tested. If depends on many factors, hence be gentle with it. But you can change out the insert for a new one easily – Hepa or a double layer of tea towel are the recommended inserts. The mask itself becomes the framework.


Note: Having a beard reduces face mask efficacy so an additional gaiter mask is necessary. The gaiter covers your beard, reducing virus accumulation in your beard. But a gaiter mask alone can create more aerosolized Covid droplets that linger in the air. I don’t recommend wearing a gaiter alone.

Part 3 will cover how to sanitize your reusable mask. The researchers found that the best homemade masks had 79 percent filtration, compared to surgical masks (62 percent to 65 percent) and N95 masks (97 percent). But some masks only had 1 percent filtration. The best design was made of two layers of high-quality, heavyweight quilter’s cotton, with a thread count of 180 or more. Fabrics with an especially tight weave and thicker thread such as batiks also did well. A double-layer mask with a simple cotton outer layer and an inner layer of flannel got good marks as well. Single-layer masks or double-layer masks that were made with lightweight cotton performed the worst.

Go Dodgers 2020

This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat. 

Everyone’s situation is different.


N95 and Surgical Face Masks Effectiveness Against Viral Infections

During this COVID19 pandemic, proper face masks are difficult to find or outrageously expensive.

So why not make your own? As I embarked on my journey to make face masks to donate to health care providers, I wanted to know how much protection face masks actually provide against respiratory viral infections, (part 1), which videos on YouTube make the best masks (part 2), and how to sanitize and reuse a mask (part 3).


There are 2 interesting distinctions when it comes to masks: the particulate size rating does not necessarily mean the same level of protection against respiratory viral illnesses. The mask you chose must depend on its intended purpose.

Let’s start with particulate size.

The particulate size rating is very useful. When looking for a mask to protect you from smog or allergies, you want a mask that is rated for 0.3 microns particles. You don’t really need a mask that is rated better than that because 0.3 microns sized particles are the hardest particles to capture. Why is that?

Particles that are either larger or smaller than 0.3 microns are in fact easily captured by a 0.3 micron filter. This may sound counter intuitive especially when you think of the example catching a basketball vs catching a ping pong ball with a net which has holes nearly the size of a basketball. A net with holes that are just slightly smaller than a basketball will unlikely to catch a ping pong ball.

But the physics of motion changes when we get down to micron size particles.

Particles smaller than 0.3 microns have more Brownian motion. At room temperature, these tiny particles bounce around randomly. They don’t travel in a straight line. So these particles literally are bouncing “off the walls”. The smaller the particle, the more bouncing. Eventually they will hit a fiber and stick to it. For this to be true though, the net must be rated for 0.3 micron particles.

Corona virus is 0.1 microns in size. It has Brownian motion. It can be captured in a
0.3 micron rated filter.

Let’s look at rate transmission of respiratory viral illnesses for N95 and surgical face masks.

Surgical (medical) masks are not designed for use as particulate respirators and do not provide as much respiratory protection as an N95 respirator. N95 masks are designs to filter at least 95% of inhaled air of 0.3 microns sized particles. Most surgical masks do not effectively filter tiny particles from the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales or exhales. Not all “surgical” masks are rated by the ASTM rating system either. If they are not certified, their performance is unpredictable. Then there is the NIOSH rating system used by N95 masks. The number represents the percentage of the air being filtered. Many “N95” masks on the market are fakes, claiming to be N95 but not up to NIOSH standards.

Do not wear masks with valve

Many people are wearing N95 masks with an exhalation valve. These valves makes it easier to breath and more comfortable. Useful if you are jogging down a busy city street but somewhat useless if you want to stop a pandemic. If you should have a contagious respiratory infection, the exhalation valve allows unfiltered air to escape that could infect another person. If you have a choice, during a pandemic, don’t use a mask with a valve.


The infection rate in studies of influenzas and Corona Viruses (not Covid19) comparing N95 masks vs medical masks were not significantly different: 8.2% vs 7.2%. Currently we have to extrapolate and assume this likely applies to Covid19.

Wearing a mask only provides partial protecting. Multiple other factors are involved in contracting this highly contagious Covid19. Are you practicing Social Distancing? How physically close were you to the infected person? Did they have on a mask? Did you have on a mask? For how long were you with this person? What surfaces did you touch? How good is your health? Do you have any chronic conditions? Could you be taking better care of yourself? What are the barriers do you have that prevent you from taking better care of yourself?

Now we know that the more comfortable surgical/medical face masks perform as well as N95 in the real world against respiratory viral infections. N95 masks are uncomfortable to wear because of increase air resistance and the tighter fit against your face. Because of this discomfort, most people cannot wear an N95 masks for a long period of time.

Ideally, if we ALL, that is 100% of us wore a face mask for 2 weeks and practiced correct hand hygiene, this pandemic could come to a halt. Universal mask precautions. Assume everyone is infected with Covid19.

In Part 2, I will examine how to make a homemade surgical grade mask from household materials.


This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat. 

Everyone’s situation is different.


Natural Immune Boosting Ideas

It is a preventive so you do this before you get sick

  1. Raw Garlic (as Toum*)
  2. Ginger (tea). Also ginger pieces boiled with scallions as a tea*
  3. Chrysanthemum tea
  4. Pineapple ( I can only handle a piece a day. Too much Bromelain can cause canker sores)
  5. Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms cooked (These are the easiest to find. Check out the 99 Ranch Market)*
  6. Manuka honey ( do not heat it or put in hot tea- heat destroys benefits. Can have on toast, in warm tea or straight from the spoon)
  7. No Dairy
  8. No sugar or refined carbs
  9. Make sure your Vitamin D intake is sufficient
  10. Probiotic rich foods
  11. Bone Broth
  12. Get a good night sleep. Be asleep between 11pm to 3pm at least. Seven to 8 hours per night is recommended.
  13. Avoid stress as stress can weaken your immune system. Practice mindfulness.
  14. Home made hand sanitizer with tea tree oil or other essential oils to keep viruses at bay

Other helpful ideas are: humidify the air. Indoor heated air can be super dry. To increase the humidity without a humidifier – try hanging a damp towel over a chair and place near the heat vent or radiator, Vicks steam vaporizer ( It is very powerful. Might see streaks of water on your walls. If not careful could increase risk of mold), boil some water but need to watch it so you don’t burn you place down by causing a fire, Diffuser, facial steamers, steam from a hot cup of tea. The humidity helps ensure more intact mucous membranes in your nose and some viruses seem to thrive in dry air.

Acupuncture can boost your immunity.

I am not going to recommend any supplements here because if taken incorrectly, can potentially affect autoimmune disorders, trigger malignancies, allergies. Plus the quality of supplements in the USA is not reliable. Best one can do is to find a product that is GMP certified or 3rd party tested from a certified lab. Always check with your doctor if you have any personal concerns.


*1. Toum = 3 heads of garlic (it has to be fresh, smashing with a knife is the fastest way to peel them). Put peeled garlic cloves in food processor or blender with 1 tsp salt. Add juice of 1 lemon (1 tsp of juice at a time alternating with 1/2 cup of Canola oil or avocado oil. Do not use olive oil). I usually use a total of 1 1/2 cups of oil. Blend until looks like mayonnaise. After you eat this, your breath will be so bad that no one can come within 6 feet of you. LOL.

*2. Ginger and scallion tea- slice about 1 tbsp of fresh organic ginger and scallions (AKA green onions). Add to boiling water. Steep 10 mins. You can freeze them down so they keep longer.

Freeze Scallions and Ginger pieces

*5. Mushrooms – I slice up the mushrooms and toss in olive oil salt and pepper and then put in air fryer at 375-400 deg for 5-10mins…watch it does not burn. Cooks up fast.

Have 1 piece of pineapple- its up to you how much you can tolerate- too much gives me canker sores

Air Fryer Cauliflower, Brussel Sprout Chips and Shiitake Mushrooms

Please let me know what works for you in the comments.

What are your home remedies?

This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat. 

Everyone’s situation is different.


Reduce Flu, Cough, Cold and Covid19 Transmission


Social Distancing

Stay at least 6 feet away from someone who is sick with a (potential) respiratory infection. No more hand shaking. Many cultures don’t hand shake anyway. No more cheek kissing.

Proper Hand Washing

Good to wash or sanitize your hands after after you come into contact with anything potentially contaminated before you touch anything else. On hard surfaces, Covid19 can be found up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Remember never touching any area from neck up unless your hands are clean. For example if you touch a contaminated surface like a door knob, then touch your hair and then you hair contacts your mouth, nose or eyes, a respiratory virus can enter your body. This really happens. Frequent proper hand washing a necessity.

Proper hand washing.

To do this, you need to wet your hands and then rub the soap all over your hands while singing the Alphabet song or count one Mississippi up to 20 Mississippi. It takes about 20 seconds to rub soap onto back and front of both hands (3 areas) ; in between the front and back of the webs of your fingers (4), both sides of both hands (4), then to get soap each one of your digits (10), then all your nails esp the tips (2). That makes 23 areas to rub soap on. It takes about 20 seconds. Try it. The soap coats the bacteria and viruses on your skin. Rinsing with clean running water, washes them off. Note: if you have long nails, acrylic nails, or painted nails – these are difficult to clean and hence always hold some germs. Dry your hands. Turn the faucet off with the paper towel you dried your hands with. Faucets are a source of germs too. Moisturize afterwards to prevent drying of skin.

Don’t forget to wash hands properly

Use hand sanitizer if you can’t wash. Use a brand equivalent in quality to Purell and use at least a dime sized amount of the gel. This process is good to kill viruses and bacteria but not spores. If you can’t wash or sanitize your hands, eat your food like a “Banana”. This means use a wrapper to hold your food if you can’t clean your hands. Do not tough your food if your hands are not washed properly. Do not touch you face or hair unless you have just cleaned your hands. If you have to touch, use the back of your hands or wrist. How to make your own hand sanitizer:

Wear a Mask if You Are Sick or Not

You can reduce spread of Respiratory Infection by wearing a proper mask. You can reduce the spread of your own infection to other people by up to 60-80%.

I like the idea of everyone wearing masks because it prevents people spraying saliva in your face when they talk, accidentally coughing into your face, and coughing into their hands (yes people still do this). Taiwan, an island of 23 million, where they wore masks and took other precautions, had only 50 cases of Covid 19 as of March 2020, with 1 death.

Intuitively it makes sense that respiratory contagions would spread less if we all wore masks. With Covid19, the virus hangs around environment for longer than other viruses. detectable in aerosols for up to three hours.  Below is a link that shows how to make your own mask.

Looking at the diagram below, 6 feet distancing clearly is not enough unless your are wearing a proper face mask.
Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 7.38.11 AM

Picture of woman wearing a mask

“I am wearing this mask so I don’t make you sick” is a beautiful sentiment.

Here is link to make your own non stitched mask from University of Hong Kong. In a pinch, it is better than nothing. This mask should be worn with the face shield. Paper towel does not provide much protection against viruses. is a better one but requires some sewing machine skills.

More on masks in

Coughing Technique

Coughing into Elbow

Please cough into your shoulder or elbow. Do not cough into your hands unless you sanitize or wash them immediately afterwards. I see so many people who continue to cough into their hands and then touching everything around them. They seem to be completely unaware of the germs they are spreading. When you cough into your hands, your hands are covered with germs. Hence you contaminate everything you touch and can make other people sick. If you cough into a tissue, throw tissue away and then sanitize your hands. Don’t put the tissue into your pocket or purse (!)

Now for some fun – Gloria Gaynor singing, “I will survive” while washing her hands for 20 seconds. Love it.

Gloria Gaynor singing “I Will Survive” while washing her hands
Wearing masks:

Use of face masks by ill persons: CDC might recommend the use of face masks by ill persons as a source control measure during severe, very severe, or extreme influenza pandemics when crowded community settings cannot be avoided (e.g., when adults and children with influenza symptoms seek medical attention) or when ill persons are in close contact with others (e.g., when symptomatic persons share common spaces with other household members or symptomatic postpartum women care for and nurse their infants). Some evidence indicates that face mask use by ill persons might protect others from infection.

Pro tip – you should wash your hands even when there isn’t a global virus panic

This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat. 

Everyone’s situation is different.


Part 4: A Must See

National Museum of African American History and Culture

For 3 years, I tried to see the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). First attempt, while in DC I tried to get same day tickets but my hotel wifi too slow and weekend tickets were in high demand, tickets were literally gone in a snap. 

Second time, I was more organized and got tickets 3 months in advance (they are free from NMAAHC website). But in 2019, we experienced the longest government shutdown. All the Smithsonian Museums were closed. I left DC disappointed again. 

This year I again booked advance NMAAHC tickets for MLK weekend. No government shut down but the evening before I was to go, I receive an email saying the History Gallery would be closed for repairs.

No way. Really? What are the chances of this happening? Why does the universe not want me to see this exhibit? But I was not deterred.

Next day, I arrived early to NMAAHC, hoping for better news. Standing outside in the cold January rain with a few other diehard visitors, I got the opportunity to chat with some employees standing guard outside. No one could tell me when the History Gallery would re-open again. Everyone politely advised me to check the NMAAHC website every evening for updates. I was explain my sad story to several employees: this is my third trip from Los Angeles to DC and I could not believe I would miss the History Gallery again. The NMAAHC employees were all empathetic to my plight. As a consolation, they would honor my tickets from the previous year and with those tickets, I could come back tomorrow if need be. Maybe the repairs would be complete but no one really knew. Could only stay hopeful. 

At least now I had all day to explore the top two floors of the NMAAHC. I could take my time. No rushing. The bottom subterranean floors are comprised of History Gallery. The top floor exhibit was about present day Black culture and second floor recent Black history. 

Some of the exhibits were so emotionally moving, so emotionally disturbing. By not rushing, I had time to absorb what I needed to absorb. There were moments, I had a hard time holding back my tears. 

The following examples are new things I learned and I cannot forget. 

1968 Olympics: Smith and Carlos
  1. Slavery abolished by the rest of the world. Everyone knew it was morally wrong. Yet Americans continued and made slavery a permanent status. Profits over humanity.
  2. Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The burning down of a successful Black town when Oklahoma became part of the USA.
  3. Lynchings.
  4. Emmett Till, senseless horrific brutal murder of a Black teenager. Triggering people like  Rosa Parker and Martin Luther King, Jr to speak up and the start of the Civil Rights movement. 
  5. Racial discrimination protest by Tommie Smith and John Carlos during 1968 Olympic Games. This display reminded me of the Colin Kaepernick protest and #BlackLivesMatter movement today. The same struggles continues.
  6. Present day Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana is in part equivalent to government sanctioned slavery.
  7. Immense resilience and strength shown by black people to overcome tyranny. 

A new admiration of black people. How, by their sheer strength and will power, were able forge ahead and developed a new sense of self, belonging and unique culture.

I needed a full day to see the top floors at the NMAAHC. What I thought at first was a misfortune, ended up being a blessing.

Later, that evening, on NMAAHC website, the History Gallery was going to open tomorrow! 

Things happens for a reason. Karma. I really needed 2 days to appreciate the displays at NMAAHC. 

The History Gallery is a must see.  Somber and humbling. 

A one way elevator takes you down several floors. The History Gallery experience depicts the beauty of Africa during the 14th century and its role in world trade. Then it goes onto to depict, in chronological order, how events evolved into present day Black culture in the United States. 

The dark truth of American history is presented with raw honesty. Overwhelming at times. The amount of hate and bigotry in our country created deep scars. 

The History Gallery revealed that we still hold onto the idea of slavery:

  1. Human ego’s willing acceptance of supremacy over another. 
  2. America’s low minimum wage = slave wages.
  3. American employers can work people so hard, it triggers anxiety and depression.
  4. We need reparation as a way of healing the scars.
  5. Passing laws helps, but not enough. We need to change the hearts and minds of Americans in order to achieve equality.

How to change the hearts and minds of Americans so that we can move forward together. 

Here some ideas: 

1. Teach empathy in school. Start early. In Denmark, one of the happiest countries in the world does this. 

2. Retrain the police to end the fear.

3. End Poverty with a Universal Basic Income as a form of reparation.

If you are more fortunate than others build a longer table and not a taller fence

4. Get more resources to predominantly Black schools and neighborhoods. Education matters.

6. If you are more privileged than others, then reach out to help. Raise others to your level. Then you can both move forward together. 

7. Follow these two examples: Germany’s Never Again Movement for its role in WWII; South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission after the fall of apartheid. 

How to personally help: 

  1. Make a donation or volunteer. 
  2. Be a Mentor or Coach. 
  3. Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
  4. Accept the truth about our horrible past and make amends.

“The rest of you, get up. It’s time to go. What makes you human? The better world is still possible. Come fight with me”. Andrew Yang.

A shout out to Shaquetta and Briayna…. These special gals made me feel at home during my trip to DC. 

Grateful to Trevor Noah between the scenes – always enlightening. 

Link to get tickets to NMAAHC: 

Andrew Yang, The War On Normal People, 2018  


Part 3 – Why do Blacks Run from the Police?

Two common questions I hear from non black people are:

“If a black person is innocent why do they run from the police?” 

And this statement, “I am not responsible for what happened during slavery. That happened before my time.”

To answer the latter, Black oppression is still exists today in American society. Since we are part of American society, we all have to take responsibility for Black oppression. The mentality of slavery still exists.

Colin Kaepernick

Attention is brought to this problem with the Black Lives Matter Movement. Leaders like Colin Kaepernick should be admired for using his voice and platform to defend American values like freedom, equality and justice. He is making us conscious of the work that still needs to be done in this country. He should be revered but instead he is reprimanded. Punished by losing his job.

Why do Blacks run from the police? 

White people see the police as someone whose purpose is to protect them. This is not the same narrative for Blacks. Instead, there has been a long history of systemic racism and police brutally against Blacks. Blacks are tired of frequently being stopped, of being harassed and fearful of the outcome of such encounters which includes death. They run to increase their chances of survival. As Michael Dyson says in his book, Tears We Cannot Stop, the difference between white and black encounters with the police is, white people live to talk about it. A view point most white people have not even thought about. 

My son, while being driven home by his basketball coach who is black, was stopped by our local police for no reason. My son describes that the policeman was at the driver window asking some questions while having his hand on his gun. The whole episode really frighten him. I cannot imagine what it is like to have to live a life where this happens to you or to constantly have to be in fear of it happening to you: being stopped by the police for no reason. It can make life impossible.

These unprovoked encounters between the police and Blacks can potentially end up with innocent black men being charged with resisting arrest, police assault, leading to felony charges, prison, reduced employment potential, loss of voting rights, enabling a vicious cycle of poverty and resulting in innocent people driven to crime just to survive. All of this is preventable/unnecessary.

Is Police Culture based on the same culture derived during slavery?

This explains why running to get away from law enforcement before there is any confrontation would be an attractive option. But white people think that this is an admission of guilt. 

Dyson explains in his book that during that “talk”, black parents have to have with their kids, they tell their kids to be afraid of the police. When encountering the police, they are told to lower their eyes, don’t upset the police. In addition. always keep your hands in view and calmly ask permission to do anything before you do it. Move slowly. Describe every move before you make any movement. And explain why you are doing it. Do not startle the police. 

As for the police, we know they have guns. But they don’t know if whom they stop has one. Years ago, I had a policeman as a roommate. He worked in daily fear, always hyper vigilant. Cops on the beat usually are on high alert, with immense tension depending on the neighborhood. Hence some the police are on the verge of aggression. Add racism into the mix, it can explode.

Once on my lunch hour, I had to go to a section of town that was a little shady (strip clubs, multiple warehouses, railway yard) to pick out some granite slabs for my kitchen renovation. When I was headed back to my office, the road I drove in on was barricaded. Nothing was around that I could see. Since there were no sidewalks, I thought I could just drive around it and be on my way. I needed to take this way back to work because the other direction was a long way around via a loop which was at least several miles more. And I was short on time. Suddenly a patrol car appears. Policeman gets out and proceeds to just shout in my face. His face was right in my face. Shouting things like where do you think you are going? Did you not see the barrier? You think you could get away why this? He had lost it. He was out of control. I could not see how I could ever be a threat to him – an Asian female about 100 pounds.

I needed to calm him down and get out of there. There were no witnesses. No help. I was shaking. I said to him, “Ok Officer, no worries. I was just trying to get back to work. I am a physician (with emphasis). I have patients waiting for me and I didn’t want to be late”. Back in the day, the police, firefighters, doctors and nurses had a bond together since we were all serving the public as first responders in potentially crisis situations. When they brought patients into the ER, we needed to count on each other, to help each other out when need be. I hoping this guy who was yelling in my face would remember that we are on the same team. Luckily, I was able to leave that situation in one piece, only a little scared and late for work. I was convinced that if I had been Black, he would have shot me. I could feel his out of control aggression. Unfortunately, when under direst like that, not easy to ask his name or think about looking his badge number.

The attack dog kills the submissive dog. This equation needs to change.

I know a 90 year old black man who grew up in Mississippi. He is an extremely positive person, with an aura of happiness and joy about him. He claims he has never had a negative encounter with the police. When asked how he has been able to achieve this, avoidance, attitude and luck are at the top of the list. But when he does encounter law enforcement, he behaves like a “police psychologist”. Somehow, he was able to make the police feel safe and calm. That sounds crazy but cops have their own problems just like anyone else. Sometimes you need to show them empathy and compassion. Although not easy to do when they are shouting at you with a gun in hand. Another possible explanation is he chooses not to remember the negatives. I want to believe it is not a unicorn.

Make them feel happy that they met you

( )

Now, whenever I can, if I see a policeman, I go over to them with a friendly smile, introduce myself and say hello. “Hi officer how’s your day going? I know it’s not an easy job you have”. Many times they are alone and I will say to them, “I think you should patrol in pairs. Much safer to be with a partner, don’t you think? What about a K9 partner? They should give you a dog”. They almost always smile with that and say something like, “Don’t I wish”. Then to show respect, I say, “I really appreciate you and the job that you do for us. I know it is a difficult job. If there is anything I can do for you, let me know”. We can be of service to the police.  

Of course there are bad apples in every profession and they need to be weeded out and held accountable. Body cameras help. Change needs to start somewhere. 

Everyday, we need to set positive intentions with purpose and then go for it

It is good practice to have police know your name and your face and you know theirs in a friendly, relaxed and safe situation. 

Here are other things that I have done and recommend you try :

-Make a phone call to your local police station and ask about what community out reach programs they have. Then organize a neighborhood meeting with them.

-I have invited them to neighborhood gatherings to talk about crime in our area and recommendations for crime prevention in our community.

-Invite their K9 unit and let you meet their dogs (By the way, those dogs are impressive! When one came into my house, that dog immediately without pause sniffed and checked out everything. I think he could smell my cat in the back room or maybe that is the routine the dog does every time to protect his human partner). Really really beautiful animals.

-We had another meeting where they explained how the helicopter system work.

-Make a trip down to your local police station and bring some Girl Scout cookies or other treats as an offering.

-Ask them, “How can our community help them with their jobs?”.

It is good to know names and faces.

How will we know that racism is gone from American society? People like Colin will tell us. 

We must defend those who cannot defend themselves:

Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By….Leviticus 19:16

Let’s make a difference. What can I do to help? 

Many Thanks to my patients who shared their stories with me.


The police lynching of George Floyd on May 25, 2020: the racism is this country is deep, the violence is deep. The infrastructure exists to allow this to happen again and again for 100 and 100s of years.

Racism – teach empathy in schools – start in preschool thru to HS. When this generation becomes our future parents they can teach their kids empathy, compassion and love.

Violence – solve poverty with Universal Basic Income, restoring self esteem.

Police Brutality – The police need to be vetted before they even start their training. No room for bigoted, racist police or authority figures.

VOTE – We need to stop electing the “status quote politicians”. We need fresh ideas. We need to change the infrastructure.

Enough is enough.

Josie Huang, KPCC reporter, being tackled by 5 armed men. Do you think they were fearing for their lives? Before smart phones, how many police got away with these crimes? No one of color is safe. Josie, that could have been me.

Dyson, Michael Eric. Tears We Cannot Stop (pp. 14, 63, 170). St. Martin’s Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

The need to be number 1, is costing America its soul.


Part 2. My Family’s Experience with Racism

Near the turn of the 20th century, my grandfather immigrated to Canada. United States was not an option for him because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, formally known as Immigration Act of 1882-1943. The Chinese are the only race ever to be excluded from USA. Below is a cartoon from 1870 which depicts the “Chinese Wall” that America had created to stop out Chinese immigration. (Since 2016, history is repeating itself, with the President wanting to build another wall: the “Mexican Wall”).

Historic “Chinese Wall” with history repeating itself in 21st century with the “Mexican Wall”

Back then, to enter Canada, the Chinese had to pay a hefty head tax. To earn the amount equivalent to the head tax, it was like being an indentured servant. The labor of building the railroad was difficult and dangerous. In addition, the Chinese endured racial discrimination. After the completion of the railroad, they were limited to working in food preparation and washing laundry. These were safe jobs because they were considered women’s work and therefore unthreatening to white men.

The differences between what my grandfather experienced and what the American slaves experienced were: 

  1. He came by choice to the “golden lands” of  the west 
  2. He knew his family. They were never sold
  3. He never had his self-esteem beaten out of him 
  4. He never had his identity taken away from him
  5. He remained a free man

What my grandfather went thru does not even come near to the oppression of Blacks in America.


Part 1: An Immigrant’s Introduction to American Black Culture

-You can never walk in another person’s shoes- 

Part one of four parts – Arrival in the USA

April 1992, I moved from Canada to Los Angeles, landing in LAX during the week of the Rodney King Riot. 

Welcome to America. 

Welcome to America. LA Times: Looting and Fires Ravage LA

Afraid, I stayed up all night glued to the television. The police had warned the public they might not respond to our calls of help because  they were, “preoccupied”. The sky was dark with smoke. There was anger, vandalism, arson. 

To better understand the etiology of all this, I read the book Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley. 

Another Jolt.

I did not know about the horrible injustices described in the book. But I empathized with the anger.

My first impression as an unbiased observer:  Blacks deserve reparation. They need to get some compensation for the hard and difficult work their ancestors did as slaves.

Robbing them of generational wealth. While white society benefited. Leaving many Blacks to struggle in poverty. Unsurmountable barriers against them when they try to move forward.

The Karma of landing in Los Angels that April forced me to pay attention to racial discrimination in America. It was shocked into my consciousness.

This was the start of my journey. What could I do to help solve this inequity?  Still after all these years, as much as I thought I knew, I really know very little. 


Try these Hot Cinnamon Rolls for the Holidays

These super fast home-baked organic cinnamon rolls are from Costco. When you and your friends/family are together for the holidays, this is one of the comfort foods. On top of being organic, they are also vegan/plant-based.

Prior to baking it in my toaster oven, I did not space the rolls out like it recommended on the label. Makes for a prettier presentation with the rolls touching side by side. In the box, there are 3 individual containers containing 5 rolls per container. Fifteen cinnamon rolls did not last long at our house. Label does say potential milk contamination. So many labels say this for (maybe) liability reasons. But if you have a serious allergy or intolerance, better not risk it as cross contamination is a real thing.

For the purist, this is a cheat. But a good cheat nonetheless. Not the healthiest but not the worst. Who has time to make this from scratch? Your time is better spend relaxing and enjoying your family and friends.

I love Costco and the affordable organic options they have. My biggest concern with Costco is the packaging overkill. The double packaging leads to excess garbage. I sent Costco an email about my concerns. If you agree with me, please take the time to send them an email too. Hope they take heed especially if many of us write in.


Finding the Perfect Gift

A Holiday Inspiration: Expanding Your Happiness

What is a gift? A gift can be a natural talent, an emotion like joy, an object or a service. By discovering your own gifts you are better able to give a gift to another. I was inspired to write this because of the holiday season and at the same time listening to Oprah and Deepak Expanding Your Happiness 21-day Meditation experience (I am a huge fan of of those two).

This meditation series introduces Oprah’s prayer. It is like a mantra to get her into her Flow Zone. This is what she said to herself prior to each one of her shows. “Use me God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself. How can I be of service? ”

Wow, that is powerful. Oprah’s mantra, along with mindfulness, has helped me find my gifts.

But what if you are stuck and can’t seem to be able to discover your gifts? They could be hidden behind all the mind chatter. You need to go to a deeper level of consciousness to discover them. Meditation, even 10-20 minutes everyday is a start to help you get rid of the useless chatter in your head that fogs up your concentration. Many great minds meditate for 2 hours or more every day! This training provides a background for your mind to be receptive to inspiration and knowing.

Your purpose and gift(s) will be something that flows so easily for you and it will feel grounded. It resonates within you and the universe. It will feel uplifting and a sense of belonging (to your authentic self). Hopefully, purpose won’t feel like work but bring you joy whenever you engage in it.

Of course, you can have more than one purpose. Or it can evolve over time. Gandhi’s method of finding purpose or gift is: the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. That is the secret to expanding your happiness. Give from your heart. 

When you are serving others, on the soul level, you are really giving yourself the perfect gift.

Whether you give service or something tangible, feel joyful when you give and bless the person to whom you give. Through out this coming new year, be conscious of opportunities to bringing joy to those you love and care about. Sometimes, you will get an aha moment and know that that will be “the gift to give”. Joy is always the perfect gift.

In this same meditation series, Deepak talks about Karma Yoga. The Karma path is whenever  you give in the spirit of freeing someone else from “care and want” and while at the same time your action brings you bliss. When choosing a gift let your ego go. It’s not about you but the recipient. Ask yourself, what would bring them joy?

Remember your soul expands when you help others. The joy of helping others is its own reward. Here are some examples gifts that bring joy: shoveling your neighbors walkway, picking up their newspaper or mail when they are away, baking them some goodies, walking their dog, offering help to an older person with groceries or taking them on an outing or doctor’s office or walking with them, giving a meal to a panhandler who you know who can’t find a job because no one will hire them, pay for the pizza lunch ordered by the guy beside you who is wearing his custodian uniform and likely is making minimum wage, volunteer at a local organization that you believe in, give a great big smile, and a tiny flower, etc (future blog on the “etc” part coming soon).

This holiday and throughout the year, always give in the spirit of bringing joy to someone else. The joy is the perfect gift. Make this the purpose of all your gifts. It does not have to be tangible.

As the recipient of any gift, never look disappointed. Always be grateful and appreciative no matter what. Someone thought about you. That’s the REAL gift. Remember it is the thought that counts. For those people who make the disappointed face, it is telling of their soul.

Deepak’s advice: Go beyond your ego and experience Unity consciousness where you perceive no division between you and anything you perceive.

My advice: finding the perfect gift starts with finding yourself.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

The above photo is from our office’s Charlie Brown Holiday Tree. Inside the pyramidal boxes are Rishi Organic Valerian Dream tea bags. The gift of sleep. That is powerful too 🙂


Olive Oil Secrets

World’s oldest Olive trees are found in Greece with estimated age between 2000-3000 years old. Drought tolerance, disease and fire resistance has contributed to their longevity.

We toured the The Governor Olive Mill on Corfu, Greece.  This particular farm grew the olive variety Lianolia, native to Corfu. It has the reputation of producing an exceptional quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) with unusually rich content of beneficial polyphenols. Harvesting begins in early October, usually within a 3-week window, and the pressing of the olives must been under 24 hours. A fast harvest and processing time is needed to preserve the nutrients. Green olives have more beneficial compounds than the more ripe black ones.

During our tour, we learned 4 important facts about olive oil.

The beneficial olive oil compounds are destroyed by Heat, Oxygen and Light. Hence quality olive oil must be made by Cold press (versus chemical extraction and warmer temperatures). Extra virgin is defined by lower Fatty Free Acid (FFA)) content. The better Olive oils have a low acidity. . EVOO should have acidity of < 0.8% acid (Less than 2% is called virgin, 2% to 3% acid content is called “pure”). The highest quality oils have < 0.3% and this fact should listed on the container. As olive oil begins to degrade, the FFA content increases. To reduce the exposure to oxygen, the milling should to happen quickly ie < 24 hours. Finally the bottle or cantainer must be completely opaque. You should not be able to see the oil at all, meaning zero light exposure. Those dark glass bottles would not be good enough, if you are a purist.

Olive oil should not be used for cooking as heat destroys the health benefits. Also olive oil has moderate smoke point of 350 F degrees. This means Olive oil will start to create smoke at around 350 F (range 325-374 depending on the quality of the oil). When an oil started to create smoke, carcinogens start to form. I recommend if you have to fry with olive oil, do it at low heat, quickly and use a cheaper brand because you are losing the healthful nutrients anyway. Hence, heating olive oil means you are just using it for flavoring and not the health benefits.

Best to consume olive oil raw, uncooked such as in salad or with bread or directly in a spoon like a medicine. If you do the latter you need to remove from your diet some saturated fats or carbohydrate calories to remain calories neutral ( 1 tbsp EVOO = 120 cal). Also once the container of EVOO has been open, best to consume it within 30-60 days. With exposure to oxygen, EVOO starts to degrade.

A good EVOO should have a fruity smell (not rancid). It should taste slightly spicy, bitter and fruity. It creates a tingle in your mouth and throat as you swallow it.

When purchasing high quality Extra Virgin olive oil look for certifications of California Olive Oil Council (COOC) or North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA). Much better if it is organic and the acidity is listed on the container. Make sure your container is opaque such as in a can or a non see through glass bottle. In my local groceries stores, I could not find any with EVOO in opaque containers. Trader Joe’s had an organic Tunisian Olive Oil no the acidity is listed but there is a date. That date says expiration is 2 years form canning. Not sure if canning happened here in USA or Tunisia. EVOO should be consumed within 12- 18 months of harvest. So I cannot vouch for the quality of TJ’s EVOO but I will email TJ and ask what their date means and update you when I find out. The Governor EVOO is rather pricey in the USA but there are high quality EVOO from California. I will be ordering those once my supply from Greece runs out.

Now that you know what to look for in a top notch Olive Oil, here is a list of the health claims from from the The Governor Olive Oil Mill, specifically for their EVOO. We were told that they alone can make these claims because it was their oil that was used in several medical studies. On the tour, the owner showed us a binder full of medical studies where they supplied the oil.

The Governor EVOO, “Our premium olive oil has been subjected to exacting scientific testing, and has been found to contain extraordinarily high levels of polyphenols, with a rare concentration of Oleocanthal. These compounds are at the heart of our extra virgin olive oil’s benefits”.

The Governor extra virgin olive oil has been awarded a prestigious health claim report from 3 universities: The National Kapodistrian University of Athens, in cooperation with UC Davis Olive Centre; Hunter College, in cooperation with the University of New York; and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Health benefits of EVOO based of daily intake of 20 gr (1.46 tbsp) of Olive oil containing >5mg of Hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol or its derivatives:

Biological Properties of Oleocanthal:

Action against Alzheimer’s disease, osteoarthritis, inhibition of the cycloxygenase enzyme COX-1 and COX-2 , anti-cancer activity, prevents skin aging, antibacterial action. Researchers estimate that the amount of oleocanthal in 50 ml (about 3.4 tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil exerts effects similar to 10% of the adult ibuprofen dosage for pain relief.

Biological preterites of Oleacin:

Antioxidantive action, anti-ageing action, anti-Inflammatory action

Biological properties of aldehydic form of oleuropein aglycon has protective effects against Diabetes

Oleic acid, the most prominent fatty acid in olive oil, has been found to reduce inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein, and beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer (30).

Keep in mind that chronic, low-level inflammation is usually fairly mild, and it takes years or decades for it to do damage.

EVOO protects against heart disease via numerous mechanisms (16):

  • Reducing inflammation: Olive oil protects against inflammation, a key driver of heart disease
  • Reduces oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol: The oil protects LDL particles from oxidative damage, a key factor in the development of heart disease
  • Improves blood vessel health: Olive oil improves the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels
  • Helps manage blood clotting: Some studies suggest that olive oil can help prevent unwanted blood clotting, a key feature of heart attacks and strokes
  • lowers blood pressure: One study in patients with elevated blood pressure found that olive oil reduced blood pressure significantly and lowered the need for blood pressure medication by 48% (

These benefits mirror the Mediterranean diet which is low in saturated fats and high in olive oil (mono-unsaturated fats)

With very low acidity (0.17%) – The Governor EVOO, Total phenolic compounds: 1.427 mg/Kg (Harvest 2018) – (CERTIFICATE OF ANALYSIS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST)

One tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil contains the following:

  • Saturated fat: 14%
  • Monounsaturated fat: 73% (mostly oleic acid)
  • Vitamin E: 13% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin K: 7% of the DV

Given the biological effects of olive oil, it’s not surprising that people who consume the greatest amounts of it are significantly less likely to die from heart attacks and strokes.

In fact, the evidence is strong enough to recommend that people who have or are at a high risk of developing heart disease include plenty of extra virgin olive oil in their diets ( remember when you add calories to remove (esp the unhealthy ones) calories eslewhere) in your diet or you will gain weight.

Let every bite of food help you heal.

Final note: This blog is in no way meant to give any medical advice, diagnosis or treat.



Fabulous Greece

Our summer trip to Greece was fabulous. We saw the country from the comfort of a 7 day Princess Mediterranean and Aegean cruise ( I know purists will criticize a cruise is not really visiting Greece. But it is what it is). We started in Rome and ended in Athens. The ship was clean and beautifully new and up to date. The variety of delicious plant based foods was sufficient to satisfy my vegan appetite. Every restaurant, the service was top notch and did their best to accommodate my dietary needs. Kudos to Princess.

Our first stop was Salerno (close to Naples), Italy. We took a private tour of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius and Naples. For 4 people, this was more economical than a group tour plus we got to see much more.

Next port was Kotor, Montenegro. In the morning, we kayaked, swam at the beach and biked back into town for lunch. Then we walked around the impressive ancient walled city of Kotor.

The next port of call was Corfu. Here we toured an Olive farm. This tour is worthy of its own blog (next month in November).

Then off to Crete where we snorkeled. It was refreshing but no comparison to Great Barrier, Belize or Hawaii. Nothing to see except a few small fish. The city of Chania was worth wandering around.

Then to island of Mykonos. Too much to do on your own for one day, so we took another tour that included the highlights of the town’s maze of blue and white buildings and across the water to the ancient ruins of Delos. Out tour guide told us some trivia that is too “cool” to forget. She said the building were painted white with lime, which is alkaline, hence making the buildings antimicrobial. This apparently helped to reduce the spread of the Plague. In addition, the white color reflects light to help keep homes cooler during hot summers. The Loulaki blue roofs because that color is abundant and inexpensive. The town was purposely built like a maze, so it allowed easy escapes for the locals from invading pirates. Invaders would get lost in the maze of all white. I can vouch for the latter!

Final destination was fabulous Athens. Friends had advised not to stay too long in Athens because of congestion, heat, and pollution. Due to time constraints and this advice, we only stayed in Athens for 2 nights but could have easily enjoyed a few more days .

We arrived in Athens in the early morning. Luckily we were able to check into our Airbnb early too. It was perfectly located on a side street off the main pedestrian walk way, Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. From there we could walk to plenty of cafes that were conducive to people watching. It is a very walkable city. Close by was a lively night market. The night view of the acropolis was spectacular.

Athens Night Market

I was impressed by how the Greeks we met were so easy going: life is to be enjoyed and worries pushed aside.

On our first day we took a Segway tour of Athens (Athens Segway Tours). During our introductory lesson, we were told number one rule is: do not hit any pedestrians! That was good to know especially as we zoomed through winding paths in the busy market place weaving in-between pedestrians. It was a blast.

The next day we took a comprehensive full day tour of Athens (Keys Tours was discounted by purchasing tickets from our bank’s travel site). It included a tour of the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum. Warnings: don’t leave the museum unless you have a ticket in hand – that includes going to book store or cafe. We did that and they absolutely would not let us back in. (Being part of a tour, our guide had on 1 ticket for our whole group. It was impossible for him to get more than one ticket). Also, wear pants, shorts or some very good underwear if you don’t want o expose yourself. The glass floors become glass ceilings for the floor below so if you look up, you can potentially see underwear, etc. Could have been better designed, such as installing reflective see thru glass facing the floor below. But maybe this is part of the whole experience(?).

Acropolis Museum Ceiling

As part of your full day tour with Keys Tours, we had lunch at the lovely Arcadia Restaurant. I was served a delicious plant based meal. Highly recommend this restaurant. It is within walking distance from the Acropolis Museum.

On another note, it was shocking to see how much the Greeks smoked. That was the only downside. Suppose you could bring a N99 face mask. But on average, Greeks people live longer than Americans despite the smoking. Some explanations for this are: they have fewer gun deaths, lower suicide rates, more doctors and hospital beds per capita, they are able to express their emotions better than we do hence less stress despite high unemployment and financial crisis.

Comical Store Window in Mykonos

Comments and Questions always Welcomed!