Teaching My Kids to Survive in ‘Merica

I am a grown woman and have no kids yet and I think about this! I am becoming seriously paranoid about taking national flights. You are a brave mom, teaching them how to fly and not trying to keep them in a protective bubble.

Not an Autism Mom

My two oldest boys took a trip to Texas this summer. It was their second time flying to Grandma’s without an adult. Last year (their first time) I was nervous… but it was a good nervous. It was a ‘my babies are growing up’ kind of nervous.djty5

We talked about wearing their seat belts and using their manners. I made sure they had everyone’s phone numbers just in case they got lost playing in Grandma’s neighborhood. I did the usual ‘mom run-down.’

But this year we had a much different conversation… a more serious conversation.

We talked about how to stay safe around police officers, even if they were only asking for help. I taught them how to hold their hands palms up and to the side, and to never reach in their pockets. And for God’s sake, don’t run up to them, even in an emergency. Some officers will…

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Physics, the big scary monster; Are you sure?

During the course of our studies and in our young professional life we have endured the following comments “why physics?” “But it’s so tough!” “How you get the hang of it?” and the list continues. This article is one small attempt by us to make the readers understand especially the young generation, the undisputable resemblances of our lives to the fundamental concepts of Physics and the impacts the laws of physics have on our daily routines. Thus trying to make Physics look a cute cuddly puppy instead of a teeth-baring shark!

The objective of the article is originated from one of the most common philosophical questions we all encountered, which came first, the chicken or the egg? We ponder… the principles of physics are governing our daily life behaviors or it’s the other way around, where certain do’s and don’ts of our daily routines are depicted and discovered as the basic laws of Physics. We would refrain here from going into the depth of this question because it’s just a matter of whom you follow; Aristotle’s (idea chicken came first) or Plato’s (we saw the chicken first than we made up the idea of what a chicken must look like i.e. ideas are a manifestation of our observations). In this article, we will draw some parallels to illustrate the similarities between our lives and the mesmerizing world of Physics including both the classical mechanics (a study of things we can see) and quantum mechanics (a study of small things not observed by naked eye like atom and smaller particles).

Our first example, an electron in an atom; as we learned in elementary level, an electron revolves around the nucleus in certain discreet orbits (imagine a few circles drawn within a circle, and each inner diameter reduces by a certain fixed factor), now placement of electrons in these orbits/circles is governed by certain rules. So, let’s say by magic, one electron exists in the inner most circle, following the set of rules (the intrinsic spin of the electron, it’s energy) the next electron tends to avoid placing itself in the occupied circle/level, if choice of completely empty levels is available or certain requirements are met. We, humans tend to behave in a similar fashion. Imagine yourself in a mini bus or metro or subway, and you are the first person to get on, you will choose your seat in terms of your personal preference, near/far from the windows, near/far from the door, is this area clean and so on and so forth, the next person who comes in automatically decides one thing, he doesn’t want to sit next to you! Is it because of the lack of an inviting smile from you, a rather unpleasant odor or can it be as simple as the behavior of an electron, he or she is ruled by the need to have his/her own space and although we are not repulsed by the person sitting we still don’t treat is as an inviting thought. In case of humans these rules are their comfort, the person already sitting their aura and the list goes on to end at what mood the incoming passenger is in.

Have you noticed that when you open the door to a brightly lit room slowly, the light peaks in from the narrow opening of the door and slowly spreads, with the door opening completely? Homo-sapiens when confined to a small space tend to stay and walk close to the walls but upon an unexpected turn into an open spacious area tend to leave the comfort of the wall and result in walking in the middle as if trying to fill the empty space. It’s the same story with one person or many. It’s even showed in movies! This example will make more sense to our readers if they have seen Will Smiths “I Robot” where the AI (artificial intelligence) based robots were behaving like humans when confined to dark spaces.

As one of my writer’s Bachelor’s students recently asked “Madam, we are quantum entities or classical?” and my answer was in the most abstract sense was, why not both! We are composed of teeny tiny particles that behave quantum mechanically, they move in discrete ways, can tunnel and so on and when they are treated as a collective ensemble the behavior leads to continuity and such are the behaviors we exhibit in our daily lives flipping the switch between the classical and quantum mechanical roles of our behavior in terms of mood swings, quantized bursts of emotions and energy!

So our dear readers, I hope we have succeeded somewhat in making you understand that among the sciences Physics is by far the science we can relate to the most and we have dispelled your fears and you will be now more motivated to embrace this fine branch of science.

We wish you a life of continuous serenity and of quantized smart 
decisions!

Let’s talk about the Boot (Diary Entry # 2)

My narrative of travels through Italy

I am absolutely in loveeee with Northern Italy and more specifically the Lakes and towns around them. On this particular topic, I will have two entries, so please stay tuned!

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I enjoy Tai Chi, the whole flow of energy kind of exercise really speaks to me. So, when I got the chance to attend a three-day Tai Chi workshop in Northern Italy, in the province of Varese, I said hell yes! While most of the three days were spent in practices, me and my teacher took full advantage of our evenings and breaks, and explored the towns along and across Marjorie. Lago Marjorie or Lake Marjorie makes the western border of Varese.

Seminario GM°Yang Jun - 2-8 giugno 2016 Varese

Our first stop was the town of Angera; it is a beautiful town on the east of the lake. A perfect place for a stroll, but the most famous place in the town is the Rocca Borromeo di Angera, or the Borromeo Castle. The castle date backs to early 1200. Unfortunately, by the time I reached there, it was closed. Later on, I read an interesting fact about the castle, it has a doll museum Museo della Bambola. The museum is known to have on display over a thousand dolls, some as old as the 18th century. Having missed the opportunity, we decided to take a water taxi across the lake to Arona. At 660ft high, of course we were able to see the castle from the lake! While we were waiting for our taxi, I captured a beautiful rainbow just over the water.

Angera

The next afternoon, we had a little more time so we explored a few towns. We first happened upon Caldé. We were driving, read the name and saw water at the end of the road, so we just drove into this teeny tiny town. The walk along the water was beautiful and soothing. We actually ended up discussing the morning Tai Chi lesson, and practicing a bit in the open air by the water. A wonderful experience!

Calde

We than drove south and reached St Catrina monastery perched on a rocky ridge. Here is an interesting fact about me, I hate stairs, hate them…. but if you want to go in this monastery, suck up you must. It was all fun and joy when I descended down a long winding stairway, but on my walk up, I cursed and bitched every stair I took. Now, I can say the church, scenery and the beautiful view of the lake was worth the muscle ache, but at that time not so much. It did help that when I reached the top of the stairs just across the road there was a beautiful lush green, a gazebo of sort. It helped that I sat there for a while to get my breathing under control.

St Catrina all

Of course, all that exercise made me hungry and we ended up in the perky, colorful town of Levone to have an Italian delicacy, the Margarita! For those who don’t know, it’s a simple mozzarella, basil with tomato sauce pizza. But in its simplicity, is the explosion of flavor.

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We ended our evening by staying a while on a park bench facing the lake. Just discussing Tai Chi, lives, likes dislikes, people, philosophies. It turned out to be a very stimulating yet calming conversation.

Scammers: Where is your Heart and Soul?

Recently a close friend of mine went through “one of the worst moments of her life”. She was almost scammed by a group of people who pose as representatives of government institute, corner you with allegations of some financial crime you have supposedly committed, and finally act as rescuers by asking for immediate payments as show of good faith by the penalized!

The process, as we discussed later was thoroughly orchestrated, focusing on some key features of human psyche.

  • Terror: She was terrorized and driven out of her freaking mind by threats of immediate arrest and holding of 72 hours straight, a court trial, 10 years of imprisonment and finally fines in thousands of dollars.
  • Sympathy: Next step, understanding and sympathy. It went something like, we understand your situation and don’t want your life and career affected by this honest mistake. Since your previous record states that you have never committed any fraud, we will help you resolve this. You need to remain calm and follow the instructions to the dot.
  • Isolation: She was instructed, under threat that there is nothing they will be able to do, if she contacted anybody, her husband, her friends, any other living soul. Any involvement by third party meant she was not interested in solving the problem immediately.
  • Survival: So, if you pay $10,000 within the next hour, covering the lawyer and court fees and the tax evasion she was accused off, they will settle the matter for good. Two conditions were proposed; do not hang up the phone (they are recording everything for court proceedings, she didn’t even go to the restroom knowing somebody will be listening to it) and do not tell anyone.

Even in trauma, a woman sees through!

Through the whole ordeal, she was scared out of her mind, twice her blood pressure dropped to the point that she almost fainted, yet through it all, her senses did not desert her. She had a paper in hand to write down the names of the so-called officers of the law, case ID, badge numbers and such. When she showed me the paper later, I was impressed as hell. This was what she had on the paper;

  1. She had written “I think it is a FRAUD”, bold letters to highlight her thoughts. She told me she came to that realization, when they kept telling her not to tell anyone, and asked for weird vouchers for payment.
  2. Although she was scared out of her mind and they kept telling her she can’t tell her husband, still somehow her system couldn’t follow this order. Since she couldn’t hang-up, she told her friend to call her husband from her computer. Then, she wrote down the salient features of what had transpired so far, for her husband to read when he arrived home.
  3. Finally, she remembered a friend of her husband, extremely cynical and sharp. On the paper, she also wrote for her husband to “call him”.

Is a woman a genetic Victim?

She is an educated, experienced woman and not an easy person to dupe or scare off. So, to give credit to those degenerates, they were able to almost make her believe because;

  • They knew her name and address.
  • They said over and over that they were tracking the call.

And the cherry on the top was a call from the police station, confirming that there is an arrest warrant with her name, and while she was on the phone with the bastards, they told her they can see that she has an incoming call and it is from emergency responders. They asked her to answer and let them know that they are handling the situation and tell them to delay the warrant. Thus, reaffirming in her mind that they were indeed tracking her phone!

So when her husband came she took the keys from him, gave him the paper so the people on the phone couldn’t listen and told him to call his friend ASAP. In the end, what happened was that while she was getting ready to leave for the bank, her husband and his friend realized it was a scam, made her cancel the call and he took the call when the scammers called back. They tried to bully him into giving the phone to her, he retaliated back by cornering them and asking information about himself, since they are a government agency and know everything about his wife! The cowards hung up on him and he was left to take care of her severely shaken wife.

Aftermath

Later, when she met with her lawyer, to further calm her frayed nerves, he shared a similar story. It was about check fraud. He was sent a retainer from a university based client, and two days after the check was deposited, the client contacted him to send 60% of the money back, because of a family emergency. Now, her lawyer is aware of how the checks work, just depositing a check in the bank is not enough, and it takes a few days for the check to be processed i.e. ensuring there are funds attached to the check. So, the lawyer, apologized that he can’t send the money back and as expected a week later the bank reported the check as fraud.

Also, she reported the information to police, knowing they will not be able to help, but point was to bring the matter to the right authorities so as to generate a database, because I can bet my next month’s check that she wasn’t the first or the last to almost or completely fall for the scam! 

Advice to all

Under no circumstances agree to weird payment methods; the government doesn’t work that way.

Please, immediately call your family or lawyer for assistance.

If they have to arrest you for a crime you actually committed, they will not call you to give you a heads up.

With the right tricks, anyone can be scammed, so stay smart and please support your friends and family.

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about the Boot (Diary Entry # 1)

My narrative of travels through Italy

I love to travel!

Even with my experience as a repeated victim of luggage abuse (check out my earlier post “curse of the luggage”), my need and goal to explore, explore and explore yet a little more is not crushed.

Let’s begin with the “Bride of the Sea,” also known as the “City of Masks,” “The Floating City,” but most commonly known as Venice.

Bride of the sea

I can most definitely rate it as one of the worst experience of my life. Please Stop, don’t go cuckoo; nothing’s wrong with the city or what it has to offer or for that matter me! The problem was my plan sucked, big time. Normally, I am an avid and borderline OCD planner, but this time I had failed to incorporate the fact that it’s Venice (which gets about 20 million visitors per year) and that my visit was in the month of August (just the ever-scorching sun and the pleasures it brings). My intention was a short-day trip, the itinerary included must go to cathedral (I am kind of obsessed with Italy’s cathedrals) and of course a Gondola ride. Keep it simple and fun…boy was I wrong on that front! Here is an overview of the reality of my trip.

Had lunch at a small restaurant, on the side of a canal, site and food perfecto!

view from my resturant

As long as I stayed away from the out of control places like Piazza San Marco, that host both the St Mark’s Cathedral and the Doge’s Palace I was safe. Because dear readers it was “bloody over crowded” the Piazza as well as the Cathedral inside, lines everywhere. The Cathedral’s exterior is a sight to behold, but even my ogling was restricted to a minute or so, because let’s not forget the ever present, ever blazing sun. My experience now reminds me of a recent article I came across about the reality of some of the great touristic places, like the great wall of China among other examples. In pictures its majestic and ideally lacking a single human or otherwise being. Reality check people, it is so over crowded that all you see is heads in front of you. I was met with more or less the same scenario in the Piazza St. Marco and at the Rialto bridge. The only thing I saw, were the people!

Cathedral

Couldn’t do the Gondola ride I promised myself, too hot! But the heat didn’t stop me from appreciating the beauty of the gondolas, they were just so pretty.

gondolas

Other than that, I learned the best way to enjoy Venice is walk, walk and walk, aimlessly (preferably in the shades). You get to see the small nooks and crannies, the small channel of canals with gondolas, small cafes with your favorite expresso (coffee is not a temperature-dependent pleasure), the freshly squeezed orange juice and the water melon wedges to battle the ever-present heat.

Unfortunately, it was one of those times, I couldn’t wait to return home.

 

 

 

 

Verbal Abuse at work place continues to be the norm; is there no hope?

My husband hates his job!!!

Thanks to his one of a kind, supreme something of a boss. Irrespective of the circumstances, his communication with his boss usually starts or ends up with the boss favorite and go-to deliveries:

“I am so disappointed in you.”

“So you are the one holding the group back.”

“Why didn’t you collect data? Even if it is bad data,” and then there is “why do you collect bad data?”

“Let’s meet on Friday,” code for, let me tell you how you haven’t done anything throughout the week (although I know you have been leaving office past midnight), so you would be pulling a full weekend, again!

“If I don’t get the results I want, I will be making some personnel changes here.”

“You are playing with fire.”

Additional aspects of the dealing include, never saying thanks or appreciating a job well done, agreeing on a certain plan of action and the next day countermanding it with something else, always bitching about the incompetencies of others, always trying to prove how he is so much better than others and what a great opportunity it is to work with him and so on.

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My husband’s reaction to the above over the time-period of a mere few months varied over a range of moods and mind-sets.

“It is his way of motivating me, to push my boundaries and work harder.”

“I cannot get a break with this guy.”

“I have a zero-social life and a wife whom I see on average two hours a day.”

“I don’t remember the last time I came home in daylight!”

“Why is this happening to me?”

Daily, it takes conscious effort at his end to gather himself up for another brutal day at work. So, we discussed strategies and scenarios to identify his boss’s behavior to a condition, disease, something to make dealings with him tolerable. Yes, I know; why not go for another job? He is actively looking, but till he gets something, he is stuck! So, the possible theories we came up with to justify the boss’s behavior included;

He has mood swings.

He has mood swings and probably drinks.

He thrives under pressure and aims to keep others on the same frequency.

He just plain hates him.

He is a bully and a genuinely unpleasant person.

This is his screwed-up way of motivating.

Over the period of few months, we tried justifying and dictating my husband’s dealings following the above parameter. The result is, he still hates is job and his boss is most definitely a bully and a verbal abuser.

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The reason I decided to identify and address this issue is because I recently learned that statistics show that irrespective of region and profession, majority of us have current or past direct experience of verbal abuse (mostly abusive conduct includes threatening, intimidating and humiliation). However, mostly people tend to rationalize, endorse and in most cases, deny or disregard such occurrences by sweeping them under the rug. And as expected, verbal abuse is above gender bias, so no one is safe! This approach of “mine to command and control” is severely affecting the short-term efficiency of students, assistants, employees and such, and in long term, it is inducing bitterness, loss of self-worth and an innate hatred towards people in the higher hierarchy, thus making work place a living hell for all. In my opinion, this is the result of constant negligence on behalf of the administration and a lack of a reasonable “check and balance” at workplace. The bosses get away with verbal abuse because they think they can, an idea implanted in them by the administration itself.

The slogan, “Everyone is in it, so what’s your problem?” is not working anymore.

Curse of the luggage

Me      •         Airports       •         Luggage

Let me start by saying, I love to travel. The idea of exploring new places and cultures excites me to no extent. However, my years of traveling has brought from within me an innate hatred towards the airports treatment of my “check-in” luggage.

Here is how it all began; the very first time, I travelled internationally, my luggage was delayed. I received it after 24 hours. Traveling to a new country and I don’t even have a change of clothes! Words can’t describe my fear and feelings.

From then on, I think I gained the status of “favorite toy” of the primary luggage gods and on some occasions, the airport gods.

The next time I travelled, our pilot declared technical issue just before take-off. As a result, we stayed in the plane for two hours. And on occasion, they had to completely turn off the plane, so no light and fresh air.

Interestingly, the next few years allowed me to travel largely nationally, and in those trips, I remained incident proof. So, I guess my favorite toy status was limited to international flights only.

Once upon a time, travel destination Asia, my check-in and carry-on luggage stars collided and shook my travel mood once again. Of course, as an experienced traveler, I know the weight and size constraints of my carry-on luggage, but also as an experienced traveler I know almost never, it is put to test in terms of size. So, this one time I had gotten carried away, and stuffed a lot of things in my carry-on. And of course, it had to be that time the airline staff made me put my bag in one of those carry-on size measure bins near ticketing. I had two choices; take out stuff to fit the bin or check the bag. I tried my best to get stuff from carry-on to put in my shoulder bag (my larger bags were already checked and submitted), but no dice, so I just spent $140 and checked in my carry-on.

Other small level infractions include, squashing of my luggage, which led to me parting ways with a delicate, perfume bottle and a wooden box with intricate painting of cherry blossoms in a Japanese theme. And here is a fun fact, I had them stick on it the “fragile” sticker and right in front of me, the attended helping the lady on the ticketing counter, tossed it on the conveyer belt! Wheeeee…. went my fragile luggage.

Next destination Europe!

Guess what, I ended up traveling with a bag with no wheels! Come on, me, my family, no one figured this out, even when my brother had to drag the bag from the house to the car. It just didn’t register, a.k.a. the luggage gods had completely shut down that part of our brain. So, imagine my shock, I land in Europe with an approximate 50 lbs of weight, drag yes, carry, hell no! Here is the other cool bit of information; the other bag, its handle was broken. I hope the airport workers had fun tossing my luggage. No more, sliding out the handle to wheel the bag away in peace. I cannot revisit in writing, the amount of pushing, dragging, tossing, turning and at some point, kicking, I had to do to move, slide in, and slide out the bag on & off the trolley and later, on & off the train.  Thank God, people were picking me up at my final destination, so at least they could carry the wheel-less bag between the two of them and I was stuck with awkwardly wheeling the handless-bag.

The next few times, I traveled within Europe, gave me mixed experiences. Maybe the gods were confused, as to travel within Europe should be considered a regional like trip or an international one. The times, I was traveling light, just a carry-on, I had drama free travel. The time, I checked-in my luggage, my favorite hard shell magenta colored bag, that depending on occasion could be used both as a carry-on and with the extra zip as check-in, came back to me, with one wheel ripped off! I swear, it seemed like someone hated that particular wheel and just tore it out.

However, my unlucky stars were back to their original axis the next time I travelled internationally (outside Europe). First, I have lost count of the times I weighted and re-weighted my bags to make sure I know exactly how much each bag overweighs, so that I can estimate the over-weight fee properly. But naturally, the minute I put them on the scale at the ticketing booth, my world went off its axis. Because, the final weight was not even in the same galaxy of my estimate, I ended up paying a fee almost1/3 of the ticket cost, for the additional luggage. As if that was not enough, when I reached North America, my luggage, all three checked-in bags were misplaced! Thank God, they were delivered the next day at my house. In the meantime, the attendant at the lost/misplaced luggage booth, gave me a one night survival kit. A 5 by 4-inch black baggie, the contents were a small tooth brush and paste (the size of my finger), a wet tissue, lotion and a deodorant stick.

After all is said and done, I am not giving up, although, I do hope the luggage and airport gods give up on me. I shall strive to realize a luggage-incident-proof trip for as long as I shall live.

To be continued…

Please, don’t hesitate to leave sympathetic comments or share your luggage abuse story