Thursday, August 28, 2008

Two Diseases I wouldn't mind eliminating

Okay. I'm sure you're saying--wouldn't you want to eliminate ALL diseases? And I'd have to just sit and think about the current world population and what it would be like without any disease--if we could all live our lives as long as humanly possible, save natural disaster, accident or death by the hands of a human. So, I just think about that and I'm glad I'm not God or the universe or your omnipotent force of choice to make such decisions.

But, back to the two diseases I'd love to see eliminated as of this moment--Diabetes and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. According to an artiles by Karen Kaplan in today's edition of the LA times, researches have genetically transformed cells, that previously functioned to create gut enzymes to digest food, to create insulin. Awesome! This was of course an exepriment with rodents, but I love our intelligence (I think it's intelligence) to figure out the inner workings of a cell and solve problems. The same technique could be used to generate motor neurons for ALS patients, and healthy cardiac muscle cells for heart disease, etc. Pretty cool. Let's see where it goes!

Okay, off to the grind.

Noelle Aguayo

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Villas, Shanty Towns and Rice Fields

Ezra, at 19 months, has seen more of the world than I had at 18 years. He has been to Holland, China and the islands of Java and Bali in Indonesia, as well as Santa Barbara, Solvang and Lompoc, California. What a traveler!

The three of us left for Indonesia on August 23rd in the wee hours of the morning. A 14 hour flight brought us to Hong Kong, where we endured a nine hour layover by taking the high-speed rail from the airport to Hong Kong island. We walked through a maze of second story sky bridges around the island, visited Hong Kong park, and found an excellent restaurant off the touristy Times Square on our own. Another 4 and a half hour flight brought us to Surabaya, Java in the evening where we met up with Sietse, Arie Jan's brother and his fiance Li Tho--their wedding being the impetus for our journey to a third world country.

As I type 3rd world country, I have to say the wedding held on a private estate reflected nothing of the poverty and chaos we witnessed in other areas. The wedding was held at a beautiful and exotic Italian Villa called Villa Leduk in Java--a mountainous rural area a few hours from the bustle of Surabaya.

For once I can write palatial and truly know the meaning of the word. Villa Leduk is modeled after Palladio's villas in Vicenzia (sp?) Italy. It has three wings. The main entry leads to a central hall with a large chandelier suspended in its dome. This entry corridor acts as an axis for the main wing, with a grand parlor to the left (as you face the home) with two grand pianos, a fireplace and three clusters of sitting areas in which to gather for tea, listen to performances, etc. Tapestries and artwork, some original and some replicas, spanning many centuries surround you.It is regal in every sense, and yet the gracious hosts and owners, Atmadja Tjip To Biantoro and Bagoes, exude casual elegance, that enables you to relax and sink into the beautiful chairs and couches with acceptance.

The right wing is an elegant dining room which can easily seat 80. Here is a picture of just the main wing from the back of the villa gardens.

Ezra is awake. To be continued . . .

Barack Obama Speaks my Language

I'm up early and the toddler and man are still asleep so I walked down the driveway, retrieved the LA times (what's left of it with all the layoffs!) and read that Barack selected Joe Biden as his running mate. I didn't do a "yippee" or a "darn" as I don't know enough about the man, but I was excited to read it first.

When I say "read it first", you are probably feeling sorry for me, as the whole world probably knows by now. What I mean is that no one else TOLD me. I know this is old news to most, but I am in this sphere where we don't have TV, I don't check my emails at work (I did sign up to be the "first to know" on Barack's mailing list), and I only go online to read the news when I get home--and last night we had double social events, which means I went straight to bed when we finally arrived home.So this morning, I was the one who "discovered" the news. But then the news started spinning.

As I concluded the front page article, I flipped to page A14, where a parallel article on Obama entitled "Political stagecraft is a high-wire act" spinned in a different direction: speculation and criticism of Obama's whole approach as "theatrical" and risky. The reporter criticized Obama's approach of keeping his 2nd a mystery. I personally loved it.

Obama's campaign strategy takes ordinary, predictable political events that are traditionally dreary, business as usual steps in a campaign and transforms them, infuses them with excitement and peaks the interest of the public. Okay, that may be theatrical, but I've got to say, it works! Obama is speaking my language when he pulls me in, tactics or not! Why the hell should it all be mundane? We're sick of that! If anything, he is staying true to his promise of "change" on every level, including how he strategizes in his campaign.

I think Obama is pulling upon his years as a law professor, where he actively engaged his students so their minds were receptive and open. I never took a class from him, but if he was a talented professor, then he must have engaged his students to teach a topic as old as our country--constitutional law. In his book "The Audacity of Hope" he does speak about making the class relevant and stimulating. Thank GOD he's using these tactics in his campaign.

WE ALL KNOW Obama is campaigning for president. We ALL KNOW that means strategizing to engage people, get their attention, get them involved. If he is a master of media attention grabbing, then that's a GOOD sign, as long as it's being used in a way that is good for the country--and so far, he is a stunning success.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Roots Organic Farm

We're back from Indonesia and I must say it was a life changing trip. Since I only have a moment, I will save the Indonesian tales and pictures for another blog session. For now, I wanted to post a link to the latest article written by Kristin Anderson.

I love organic farming and I am so thankful to live in an area where year round produce is a reality!

If you haven't stopped by Roots Organic Farm at the Santa Barbara Farmer's markets--or any of the other 5 markets in Santa Barbara County, you won't be disappointed to give it a try. The carrots are our favorites.