Archive for November 2011

The Monkey and the River

It is said a great Zen teacher asked an initiate to sit by a stream until he heard all the water had to teach. After days of bending his mind around the scene, a small monkey happened by and, in one seeming bound of joy, splashed about in the stream. The initiate wept and returned to his teacher who scolded him lovingly, “The monkey heard. You just listened.”
With the best of intentions, we often build false careers of studying the river without ever getting wet Read more

Children and Art

“I can only take this in small doses,” she said to me as I examined her heart and lungs with my stethoscope with reality TV playing on her hospital room television. I thought she was complaining about my examining her. “It’s enjoyable for a few minutes, and then you really begin to question where these reality television people’s values are.”
My patient, age 22, could teach many people far older than she a thing or two about values and priorities in life. I started to tell her this during my morning rounds — our daily 6 a.m Read more

The Psychology of Health Screening

Imagine it’s time for your annual physical. You visit your family doctor, and along with all the usual probes and tests and queries, your doctor tells you about a disease you’ve never heard of before. Called thioamine acetlyase, or TAA, deficiency, it affects the body’s normal ability to process nutrients, and can lead to severe medical complications — exhaustion, physical deterioration, even early death. Although studies indicate that 1 in 5 adults suffers from TAA deficiency, most are unaware that they even have the disease.
But there is a test that screens for TAA deficiency, your physician tells you Read more

Copenhagen Dining Beyond Noma

Even if you’re not a foodie, you’ve probably heard of Noma, Rene Redzepi’s award-winning Copenhagen restaurant that’s at the forefront of the New Nordic Cuisine movement. And while the rustic-chic restaurant in an unassuming warehouse district continues to win raves from diners lucky enough to snag a table (the wait can take several months), it isn’t the only culinary game in town. In fact, the Danish capital is chockablock with exciting new restaurants, many of which are helmed by former Noma chefs and after sampling a few, I can see why many gourmands feel the world’s most dynamic dining scene revolves around Denmark.
I based myself at Ibsen’s, an art-filled eco-friendly hotel on fashionable Nansensgade, an easy walk from the city center and after viewing artwork at the National Gallery of Denmark, I lunched at Aamann’s, specializing in a modern take on the traditional open-faced Danish sandwich called the smorrebrod. Adam Aamann’s original take-out shop just next door proved so popular that he opened this homey space with dark wood tables and mint-colored walls Read more

A European Embargo On Iranian Oil And Our Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Has France’s President Sarkozy who is now calling for a European boycott of Iranian oil, been reading the HuffPost?
Perhaps, perhaps not . But one thing is certain, the concept of embargoing Iranian oil has been espoused in this corner on numerous occasions over the past weeks and months while barely a word on this issue was to be found in our media at large nor within the fulminations of our government calling for ever broader sanctions against Iran in its pursuit of nuclear weaponry.(Please see “Iran Threatens The Use Of The Oil Weapon”11.21.11)http://www.huffingtonpost.com/raymond-j-learsy/iran-threatens-the-use-of_b_1104956.html and Europe’s Praiseworthy Syrian Oil Embargo. Why Not Now a U.N. World Embargo on Iran’s Oil?? 10.3.11http://www.huffingtonpost.com/raymond-j-learsy/europes-praiseworthy-syri_b_992007.html
Much has been written about commercial sanctions, but rarely about the truly over arching policy initiative that could take down the Iranian renegade regime, removing the risk of the world confronting nuclear armed fanatics Read more

World AIDS Day Remembering Thirty Years

December 1st is World AIDS Day and this year it offers us an opportunity to reflect back on all of the progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the past 30 years and look ahead to what can still be done. Despite major advances since the early days of the AIDS epidemic and the first diagnosis 30 years ago, the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that approximately 56,300 new infections occur each year in the U.S. alone. In fact, every nine and a half minutes, someone is infected with HIV.
As I look back, it is hard for me to believe that it was thirty years ago that I made my Broadway debut in the iconic musical, Dreamgirls Read more

How To Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Whether you stuffed yourself full of Thanksgiving turkey and are now in panic mode about how your waistline is going to handle all those holiday parties, or your weight survived Thanksgiving unharmed but threatens to explode as the holiday season progresses, in this article, you’ll learn how holiday weight gain happens — plus five strategies for avoiding it.
Holiday Weight Gain Reason #1: Schedule Snafus
Once the holidays arrive, your tidy, type-A, strictly scheduled world can begin to unravel with long weekends during which there is ample opportunity to sleep in and be lazy; holiday parties; heavy eating and drinking on weeknights when you’d normally behave; gyms that close or have new, strange hours; and travel that takes you to new locations where exercising can be a stressful chore.
But you can avoid these issues by planning ahead.
For example, check with your gym in advance to find out their holiday hours, and on days where it may be closed or unavailable to you, plan on taking outdoor walks or runs, or having home body weight exercise sessions. On long weekends, set exercise goals that get you moving, boosting your metabolism early, such as squeezing in 20 minutes of exercise before 9 a.m. If you’re traveling, use Google maps to search for gyms near where you’re staying, or pack elastic bands and running shoes, and check out my tips article How To Stay Fit While Traveling.
Holiday Weight Gain Reason #2: Stress
Shopping needs, family obligations, and changes in your daily routine can be stressful Read more

Advent Lessons From a Holiday Orphan

I didn’t grow up as a holiday orphan.
Instead I was raised as a member of large extended families. I ate two Thanksgiving dinners every year: one at noon in Hattiesburg, Miss. with my father’s family followed by an evening meal in Meridian, Miss., a 90-minute drive to my mother’s family home Read more

Managing the Kids Media with Your Ex

Originally created for commonsensemedia.org.
“Is it that bad to let your kids watch Aliens?” My ex-husband posed this question to me — and he was dead serious. Did I mention that our kids are 6 and 8?
For the most part, my ex and I agree on media choices for the kids, and we try to be respectful of each other’s wishes. He’ll call to ask what Common Sense Media says about a movie before taking the kids to see it. I’ll check with him about how much screen time they’ve had at his place so that I can adjust when the kids are with me Read more

Cuando un amigo se va When A Friend Leaves

Lord Phillip Gould , the architect of New Labor, died November 7th
“When a friend leaves, a very empty place is left behind, that can never be filled with the arrival of another friend”. The words are from Argentinean composer Alberto Cortes. The feelings are profoundly mine. “I am ready Read more

Eco Etiquette How To Have A Zero Waste Holiday Season

Send all your eco-inquiries to Jennifer Grayson at [email protected] Questions may be edited for length and clarity.
Any tips for how to reduce waste over the holidays? Despite my best eco efforts, I can’t seem to put a stop to all the useless gifts, disposable decorations, piles of wrapping paper, etc.
-Claudia
If your garbage can is already feeling fuller than usual, you’re not alone: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, American household waste increases an astounding 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, or an extra 1 million tons each year. That’s an awful lot of trash for the sake of good tidings Read more

Mangagement Rings

When you see a man wearing a ring on his left hand, most would assume he’s married, but get this: He may not have hit the altar yet — the ring you see may be a mangagement ring!
Yup, you read it correctly, “man-gagement ring.” Nope, it’s not a company ring he was given for his promotion to the management tier; it’s a ring he was given by his significant other. It’s actually an engagement ring for guys!
Whoa! What the heck? Is this some gimmick by the jewelry industry to get you to spend more? Is it some ploy by feminists to brand men with engagement rings, too? Is it something for insecure partners who weren’t satisfied he changed his Facebook status to “engaged” and want to alert the entire world their man is in a relationship? Even as this author types this article, the spell check on the computer underlines “mangagement” as an alert, a red flag, it found a word it does not recognize!
Amada Gizzi, spokesperson for the Jewelry Information Center, says the concept is starting to take off in America! “Engagement rings for men are a new concept here in the United States. Men and women both wear engagement rings in a lot of countries around the world. For the United States it has never been our tradition Read more

The Hit Men Hit Christmas Exclusive Audio Chatting With Ricky Scaggs and Kip Moore Plus Billy Joels Box

A Conversation with Ricky Skaggs
Mike Ragogna: Why, it’s Mr. Ricky Skaggs, and we ain’t foolin’.
Ricky Skaggs: No we ain’t! (laughs) I’m coming to you live from Medicine Hat, Alberta. I’ve been in up in Canada doing shows, and I appreciate you having me.
MR: My pleasure. Hey, are you on the Treasure Chest tour?
RS: No, actually the shows in Canada were all just bluegrass shows Read more

Charter Reform Must Address Transportation

Charter reform is set to make its way onto yet another ballot this January thanks to a recent County Commission vote. So far, the ballot will include provisions on term limits, commission pay increases, and a ban on outside employment. As with previous attempts by the County Commission to venture into the charter reform discussion, the current proposals fall far short of the systemic reforms needed to impact the quality of life of everyday Miami-Dade residents. Even with these baby steps, taken by the commission in an apparent bid to stave off the wrath of Norman Braman, the commission has botched basic details Read more

Super Committee Occupies My Miami Winter

The Super Committee “fails.” Occupiers are evicted. Cool weather comes to Miami. How do these relate if at all? I try to see the large canvas. I imagine the pieces as on a chessboard, trumping and trumped Read more

Family Matters

As the executive director of the Family Resource Center of South Florida, a child welfare agency in Miami, I report to you sadly that the incidence of child abuse and neglect goes up sharply during the holiday season. The disparity between the joyous hype, on one hand, and the stress of loneliness and/or shaky finances and/or interpersonal conflict, on the other hand, can set us up to feel despair. Moreover, the excessive usage of alcohol and other intoxicants is often the springboard to domestic violence, and child abuse and neglect. During this season, greater numbers of sexually abused, physically battered and emotionally traumatized children come to the attention of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) because their parents were out of control, physically absent or emotionally indifferent.
The holiday season is upon us, with abundant messages from advertisers, radio and television that we should be full of joy, indulge in all sorts of food and drink, and consume to our heart’s content, or our credit card’s limit Read more

Champagne Parties on a Beer Budget

Entertaining shouldn’t be a burden, emotionally or financially during the holidays. It will be go, go, go for most of us through the New Year and instead of feeling stressed, think of throwing a dinner party as a great way to reconnect with friends and family. With these tips you can throw a classy bash on a holiday budget without the stress.
Spread some holiday cheer this season with these five fabulously frugal dinner party tips:
The Invite Read more

More Than Art Basel Wynwood A Gritty YearRound Epicenter for Art

Once gritty streets now gussied up, concrete boxes turned galleries, cafes in what were once crack dens, and twenty-somethings trying to carve out their niche, or at the very least find it, battle for attention with neon lights, pastel-colored buildings, near-naked flesh, and skin turned orange from too much sun.Miami is a fascinating place to be. Miami during Art Basel is like Oz on amphetamines.
During the first week of December, for the last decade, the contemporary art world descends upon Miami for what can only be described as a 24/7 feeding frenzy. Everyone is either trying to collect, create, or be the next big thing Read more

Welcome to Miami Where Every Piece Matters

Telling someone I live in Miami will, without fail, elicit an opinion of the city based on either South Beach or the airport — neither of which, of course, is actually in Miami, and at least one of ‘em’s in hell. “It’s beautiful!” I’ll hear back, just as often as receiving a complaint there’s no English to be heard on the winged way out.
Any one-dimensional opinion is correct, in its way — Miami is gorgeous and horrible and expensive and cheap and stabby and friendly — but it isn’t just gorgeous or just horrible, expensive, cheap, stabby or friendly. (It’s also wearing something amazingly, mind-bogglingly short.) The fascinating thing about Miami is that it has so many more faces, so many communities unlike the last one, so much in contrast to any snap judgment on hand, and even many, many more tongues.
The forces that shaped this very Magic City — revolution, flight, drugs, riot, riches, greed — left scars that fragment its population, making it possible for those outsiders to experience the Miami that boasts the fourth richest population in the world in purchasing power and rarely the Miami in which fraying safety-net programs are all that stand between a mangled American dream and starving to death in a cramped apartment near the airport expressway Read more

Paradise Found Dinner in Paradise

Some 30 miles west of the heart of Miami lies paradise — Paradise Farms, that is, a five-acre organic oasis that earns its name, growing produce including heirloom tomatoes that burst like berries in the mouth and are almost as sweet. They taste of the soil, they taste of summer. Farmer and proprietress Gabriele Marewski doesn’t spray them. She sings to them Read more

Why We Need to Protect the Soul of South Florida

The Everglades are the economical and ecological soul of South Florida. Our lives, our health, well being and economic prosperity are all linked to restored and functioning Everglades’s ecosystems. Everglades’s ecosystems directly support fishery, recreational and tourism industries as well as supplying water and flood control for agriculture, businesses and residents. Healthy Everglades’s ecosystems will make South Florida more resilient to adverse effects of sea level rise such as salt water intrusion into our drinking water aquifer Read more

Were Number 6 Were Number 6

Fans at football games are not chanting: “We’re No. 6!” Well, maybe they are in Dolphins Stadium these days, but you get the point.
Miami was once first in the nation in per capita charitable giving and now we are sixth. Sixth Read more

Why Wont Little Havana Turn Blue

This post was cowritten by Benjamin G. Bishin and Casey A. Klofstad.
“As goes Florida, so goes the nation” is a sentence that has become etched in our minds over the course of recent presidential elections. Florida is a bellwether for the rest of the country for three reasons Read more

Why I Did Not Vote for the Mayors Budget Proposal

In my summation of the reasons for voting against the budget presented by Mayor Gimenez, I told the story of a minister who compliments a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The minister remarks: “You two must have a very special formula to have lasted fifty years together.”
The husband, with great pride, answers: “Yes; our formula was proposed by my wife: She said I would make all the big decisions and she would make the small decisions. Come to think of it, we haven’t had a single big decision to make…”
And so it has been with the county budget. The mayor allowed us to make some small decisions, but he has not yielded an inch on the major features of his proposed budget.
For example, the commission reinstated most of the budget for agricultural services and libraries Read more