Thursday, May 19, 2016

Our MALTA, Mediterranean SEA Trip, May 2016



Last week we went on a trip to Malta. If you ever want to feel fat and hideous, I highly recommend a vacation to Malta—everyone you walk by looks perfect and thin—and often with a pair of stilettos. People dress like they just stepped off the runway in Milan—no pressure at all. You will find that your envy quickly melts and then you are left with a general feeling of awe. People take their aesthetics quite seriously in Europe. This is the place of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, after all. Another thing I observed was that there seemed to be about 5 young women to a single man. 


Our trips are always so busy and packed. With a baby added to the mix things felt a bit chaotic—with diaper changing and breast feeding in random places and lots of crying, holding and consoling, but we managed to make it work. Everyday we were off doing something—like visiting ancient Temples, going into medieval cathedrals or seeing artwork by Caravaggio. The food was good! I highly recommend McDonald's breakfast (as 22 Euro per person at the Hilton is MUCH too expensive, and frankly, fiscally stupid). Our hotel was situated along the crystal blue sea. The Mediterranean Sea, alone, is a sight to behold; it transitions from aquamarine to cobalt blue the further out you look.  Our hotel was unduly luxurious. The bed in our room made me feel like I was sinking into a heavenly cloud.


The highlights of our trip were scuba diving in the Mediterranean (our first time!), visiting Gozo Island and seeing an ancient temple--Ggantija (3,600 BC—the oldest above ground religious structure on Earth) and also the Azure Window (used as a scene in Game of Thrones). We went to a really cool Aquarium on the main island of Malta too.



We enjoyed plenty of strolls along a promenade that flanked the Mediterranean Sea and we spent a half-day in Valletta which is the capital city of Malta. Valletta took me for surprise. Such an incredibly beautiful, baroque city. It is my favorite city in Europe so far.
Malta is my favorite country that I have been to in Europe. It has an almost 3rd world feel to it but for the population density, it is kept clean and they recycle there. There isn’t lots of garbage on the streets and in the water–like what I’ve witnessed in other Third World countries I’ve visited/lived in like Mexico, Benin, Togo, Liberia, Senegal, Gambia, along the border of Nigeria…etc. I could write entire books on the littering and flippant dumping of garbage  on the land and water that I witnessed in some of these countries.
My husband and I can’t stop raving about our Scuba Diving experience into the Mediterranean Sea. At first it was daunting–I felt like I was suffocating under water until I started reminding myself to just breathe. Eventually I was able to calm myself down and we were able to spend a good 30 minutes under water. Breathing air from an oxygen tank deep in the ocean isn’t as satisfying as ambient air. This said, scuba diving was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. We were so thrilled that my husband will be getting his certification in Scuba Diving over the summer and we plan to go on more scuba diving adventures in the near future.
My list of favorite European cities at this point is. 1. Valletta, Malta 2. Taormina, Sicily 3. Krakow, Poland 4. Rome, Italy, 5. Prague, Czech Republic, 6. Salzburg, Austria 7. Bergen, Norway. (In case you were curious). Of course, I just LOVE Paris and Amsterdam too!

Monday, May 2, 2016

VIDEO: My BABY says "DADA"

My baby turned 6 months old today. We are thrilled with her progress--verbal skills are progressing more rapidly than her rolling, physical movements etc (but she is still doing okay in those areas too).
video


My husband was teaching her this earlier in the day and she was able to say it with a little encouragement.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

I have GOOD NEWS and BAD NEWS for Christian Proselytizers


My parents keep on trying to push Christianity on me. They do this in the way of sending me Christian pamphlets, tracts, non-stop Bible verse text messages, trying to coax me over the phone with Christian apologetic rhetoric, links to William Lane Craig videos, videos made by Ray Comfort and recently, providing me with a large stack of Christian baby books for my 4 ½ month old.

After about the 500th time of dealing with these kinds of issues I finally told my Mom over the phone, “I have something really important to tell you”. I said, “I have good news and I have bad news. How about I start with the bad news?  The bad news is that I will probably never reconvert to Christianity again. I’ve been officially vaccinated from this strain of thinking.”

“What’s the good news?” my Mother asked, quizzically. I paused and thought about it for a moment, “I probably won’t become a Mormon or a Scientologist either.”

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Smart People MOST Privileged? BRAINS, INTELLIGENCE, IQ THOUGHTS>>>



I have been thinking a lot about IQ lately. Just as there are differences in the memory and processing speeds of computers, the same can be said about human brains. The more I think about it, the more I firmly believe that all of the major differences we observe in the human population are tethered back to the brains involved. This may sound overly simplistic, but the reason why some people generally get ahead in life or are greeted with more respect or make more money is due to the capacity of their brain. Everything comes back to the brains involved. Even social behavior and acting in a socially desirable fashion is linked to IQ. There are exceptions to this rule, but I like to focus on generalities because they are much more predictable.

Smart people can find clever, ingenious strategies to secure and grow wealth. Smart people are more likely to invent things or design companies/businesses that provide in-demand products and services. Individuals with higher IQ’s are more likely to become mathematicians, engineers, physicists and doctors—professions that involve subject matter that is exhaustive, complex, and endlessly changing. These individuals’ minds can handle such operations while people with lower IQ’s are more suited for simple jobs, like being a cashier or a janitor. This said, individuals with average or lower IQ’s can use their creativity to produce art, write books or create businesses that might also be just as financially rewarding.

Another thing about smart individuals is that they are more likely to defer gratification to a later date. Instead of grab the small reward now (E.G. Marshmallow Test), they are willing to wait for the bigger reward later. We can see this with doctors. It takes years, at the very least 12-13 just to become a doctor. Many doctors may have the temptation to quit anywhere along the line of pre-med, medical school, a taxing residency and fellowship to get a more easily achievable job offering them money right now. A doctor not only had to be innately smart to comprehend and use an incredible amount of knowledge, but he/she had to also defer their gratification as they made their way down the long path of education.

 Unfortunately, smart individuals are scarce in our world but this is precisely what makes their value go up. This is especially true in a “free market” or “freer market” society—compared to those societies that are less so.  These smart folks can demand more for their time. We, as a society, value areas of expertise (or products, created with such expertise and innate intelligence) because we all benefit.

 Smart people are more ready and able to efficiently unlock the mysteries of the world, unveiling useful knowledge to the rest of us. Everyone benefits. Intelligent people provide immense value to a technologically advancing population. They figure things out more quickly and they can then offer their products or services on the market more cheaply than an individual who wasn’t as smart in the creation of their product.

Another way I like to think about intelligence is like this: If you have a better computer you have access to more information (either stored on your computer’s hard drive or on the internet) more quickly. This becomes increasingly important in a technologically advanced society—one where the speed and accuracy of information acquisition is crucial.

In the same way, a better brain in terms of memory and processing speed is going to be crucial in a technologically advanced society. Why is a brain with a higher IQ so much better you ask? It is better on a fundamental level because so much more can be done with it.  The reason why Galileo and Newton discovered arcane properties of the universe was precisely because of the superior properties of their brains (at least compared to other contemporary brains that surrounded them). We revel in their accomplishments—these leaps of understanding they brought to human civilization. Really though, we must consider the kinds of unique brains they were beholden with in order to tap into the wonders of the cosmos ourselves.

Future technologies may be based on the underlying circuitry of “intelligent brains” and offer this asset to all of us. Products and services will be designed to assist with “mental enhancement”. I look forward to a bright future with increased time to enjoy life. The only way this is going to happen is if we continue forward with a society that pushes and motivates as MANY bright individuals AS POSSIBLE to contribute their skills and innovations and rewards them abundantly for doing so.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Video, My Baby says "Hi"!


A couple weeks ago I was trying to teach my (then) 3 1/2 month old how to say "Hi"
On March 2, our baby Clementine turned 4 months old. She is a dear sweetheart who is now trying to learn how to say "I love you".


video

Friday, March 4, 2016

Time is SO Valuable



The biggest, most significant thing I’ve learned since having a baby is the value of time. Time is an extremely important resource. I’ve always recognized this—just so much more now. For brief moments during the day I will check my facebook or learn something online; and this is only because I am lucky enough to have a readily accessible I-Phone at my fingertips.

What I specifically miss most about my pre-child existence was having the time to learn and write. Sure—I was still busy with tons of housework, volunteering at the hospital, yard work and travelling with my husband—and being terribly, terribly nauseas from the pregnancy—but I had MORE TIME. I found myself researching things on the internet, reading, indulging in knowledge…attempting to learn. I guess I never realized what a privilege and luxury it is to have time to learn or sharpen my creative skills. I never thought about the fact that my own Mother had to forego her intellect and (ANY) novel learning activities because she was so busy trying to maintain a household, constantly cleaning up after us, raising us three children—and we were all roughly a year and a half apart. She recently told me that there was a span of about 3 years in the 1980’s where she received less than 2 hours of sleep each night.

As far as not having enough time…the irony is that I now feel like my mind is flooded with great ideas—but at all the wrong moments. I have ideas just spontaneously pierce my consciousness and I think “I need to go and write that idea down so that I can address it in the future” but I almost never have time to even write down the reminder.

I guess I didn’t realize how tough it can be for stay-at-home Moms. I see why women are joining the work-force in mass and dropping their children off at day care, paying someone $12 an hour to raise their children. This is so much easier than having to constantly change diapers and do laundry and deal with vomit all over your clothing—you feel more like a janitor without even the benefits of the pay. These career women even get to maintain their ego—“I have a respectable career and I have a baby!”

My Mom was a stay-at-home Mom.  I see why she wasn’t really able to spend time learning and reading—there is no time to pursue such luxurious, exciting things as knowledge—every second, every fracking moment you are attending to the needs of someone else.

So much of my day is involved in menial tasks that are often repeated several times each hour and the laundry piles up. There are endless diapers and gushes of spit-up all over my clothes and the baby cries a lot too. There is a lot to be thankful for too.

I am so happy and lucky to have such a healthy and sweet baby. She is wonderful! We love her so much!



Sunday, February 21, 2016