Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Coffee Coffee Coffee!

This post is about....

Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee Coffee!
Oh! Before we go anywhere, video is near the bottom!

So during my recent sabbatical, I discovered an undeniable love for coffee. One of my favorite types of coffee for some time was the Vietnamese drip coffee - some have told to me is a French style drip espresso of old? *shrugs* either way... it's awesome.

What I've discovered is that if utilized correctly, this low tech, high concept stainless steel tool, costing a humble $5.00USD (or less) delivers some of the best tasting coffee I've ever had.

Now, while I'm not coffee expert, I can only draw from my engineering background that by the grinds (in a sense) stewing while dripping, you get an effect similar to French press. During the brewing process, an obvious layer of oils are drawn to the top of the extraction as the coffee begins to drip towards the receptacle (most commonly a whiskey glass).

The result? Well, in my humble opinion, I find that much of the "bitterness" that you don't want from coffee is most elegantly removed. The "bad type" of acidity that tends to some how accentuate the bitterness-related and certainly unwanted flavors are also gone. What is, however, preserved is a wonderfully deep and full bodied coffee; a true representation of both bouquet and spirit, from beans to drink. Additionally, many of the notes, flutters, accents, and details of the coffee are very much present. I've tried this with Ethiopian, Kenyan, and French roasts - so far, I actually like the Ethiopian the best despite this type of coffee style is being traditionally made with French roast. But, meh... I've never been that much on tradition, per se.

If you want to get technical, you can transfer the extraction to a serving mug to eliminate any grinds that may have snuck by, give it some hot water to boost the temperature in a bit of an Americano handle... then it's up to you if you should wish for cream and sugar.

Enough talk... it's VIDEO TIME!

Taste, as many things of the aesthetic world are, is truly judged in the experience of the beholder. If you love coffee, I highly encourage you to give this a try. Master the technique, and, the experience promises to be truly amazing.

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Son's Emergency "Room" Experience

First, I want to thank all of you who generously gave out your love, prayers, support, thoughts, and positive vibes last week when my 8-month-old baby boy, Nathan -- was rushed off to the "emergency room" (officially known as the Emergency Department) at Children's Hospital last Monday.

It was terrifying.

With much gratitude, Nathan is now well. His lungs are clear, he barely has a cough, he's crawling all over the place, and proceeding to pull to stand (and tumbling, once he tries to copy his 13-month-old cousin who has been walking since 10 months).

I posted a little while back that being vulnerable may hold the key to finding strength. As an exercise to this principle, I'd like share this nightmare experience which culminated to us going to the "ER." Also, as an encouragement, if not empowerment, to new parents alike: I hope you find this post as affirmation that no one knows your baby better than you. If your parental instincts raise a red flag, trust it -- you're probably right.

My Son's Emergency "Room" Experience
Two Thursdays ago, my beautiful and most attentive wife - and - mother to our son, noticed that Nathan was developing the slightest hint of a wet cough. For the moment, it didn't seem to be of any concern. However, as the cough developed into cold symptoms, Nathan started breathing faster and being less and less active. Eventually, things got bad enough that I called into the nursing/physician hotline just to get an objective viewpoint.

Sure enough, the worry I developed as a dad was confirmed by best practice guidelines. Nathan's respiratory rate was holding at the high 50's and low 60's. Every once in a while, it'd spike up to the high 60's. He was working hard & became quite apathetic -- really, he didn't want to do anything. This was unlike him since he just started to crawl and pull to stand. His normal self is quite explorative; he typically loves to play with anything he can get his hands on or himself into.

Sunday night, we finally took him into urgent care where a breathing treatment and steroids were administered. It seemed to help. His oxygen saturation improved, and, for the night, it would prove his breathing was better. Monday, we followed up with our pediatrician and everything checked out fine. Unfortunately, one of the signs we were told meant time to go to the hospital presented itself again; respiratory rate greater than 60 breaths per minute.

Around 8PM on Monday, Nathan started holding his breath in a way we never saw before. It was terrifying. Honestly, I didn't know where to begin. Listening to his lungs again got me all in a panic as all those nasty sounds came back, previously banished at urgent care the night before. Ultimately, he calmed down but still was working so very hard to breathe. As parents, we couldn't take it anymore and knew we wouldn't sleep a wink if someone didn't check him out. To the emergency department we went.

Nathan was diagnosed with RSV / Bronchiolitis. His treatment was some pretty crazy suctioning by the respiratory therapist. The respiratory therapist was able to get out around, if not a bit more than, 100 cc's of gunk plus saline, both from the sinuses and from the bronchi. Really, the poor baby just couldn't get the mucus out himself -- it clogged everything so badly that it effected his breathing in quite a scary way.

It's been a week now, and, thanks be... our baby is back to his normal self. Lung sounds are normal, breath rate is healthy, appetite is back, and he's playful, explorative, and wishing he could walk already. Taking him to the "ER" was the best decision we could have made; it gave us the peace we needed and the treatment Nathan needed. A big shout-out goes to the very skilled & compassionate clinicians at Children's who took care of both Nathan and his worried parents. And, another very warm and grateful thanks to all of you... family and friends, supporting us when we needed it most.

Life is quite the journey. Thank you for sharing it with me.

Happy Nathan.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Avoiding The 50/50 FailZone

Relationships. When did things get so complicated?

I don't know about you, but I still remember how I got "married" a couple times in my precious years before 1st grade (try this now-a-days, and you'll be in some of the biggest trouble any 5 year old could ever ask for in a public school).  Anyone else remember these good 'ol days? *Raises hand*

When you look back on human history, we find that relationships were rarely a chosen path for so very many cultures throughout humanity. We find that relationships were arranged, preset, and ordained. There was no choosing in the person(s) we were to end up with. However, there was the choice to make the best of it once we were set in said relationship(s).

In a relative recent turn of human events, romantic relationships between humans wrote a new chapter - DATING.

While I won't profess to be the all-time-expert in relationships, dating, marriage, etc. - I will go far enough to say that I feel a combination of a psychology degree, life experiences, and a wildly happy marriage of nearly 4 years and growing stronger each day, is a solid enough resumé to at least make some "IMHO" commentary on the matter. Agreed? Okay. Here it goes!

The 50/50 FailZone
The dating scene has created a most intriguing element for romantic relationships; it has provided a testing ground. Where prior in human history, you were all in and someone else decided the circumstances for you. Currently, the dating testing ground is extremely fluid. We date each other to test for things like fairness, equality, commitment, "the spark", trust, etc.

As we date longer and longer, we find things become unbalanced. The emotional, intellectual, physical, and sometimes spiritual expressions of the dating scene are not always given equal attention. Most of the time, things are quite lopsided where by the physical and emotional are overexpressed and the intellectual and spiritual are quite often neglected. This unbalanced effort in these four major elements of romantic connections are most intriguingly expressed in the "commitment" and "equality" testing grounds. Everything has to be fair, right? And so, much of the human culture has developed the attitude in seeing fairness in relationships as being 50/50 in most major respects.
"THAT, is why you fail." - Master Yoda.

The problem with being 50/50 is that we, as humans, are imperfect. There is always going to be a mistake. There is always a sense of negativity, resentment, guilt, revenge, apathy, etc. And, as we have all experienced, every relationship has a "rough patch" (hate this term, btw)... a conflict... a problem that surfaces. It is during these times, 50/50 becomes more like 40/40 or even less. Well then the relationship is really only running at 80%. What is worse, as negativity penetrates a relationship, old feelings come up each time, don't they? Things quickly turn into a tit-for-tat mentality. You thought 80% was bad... remember that one breakup because things were more like 40/0?

I feel that where our mentality truly fails us is our perception of fairness within the context of romantic relationships. We all have off-days. We all have moments of weakness. This is where you want your partner to have your back. The only way this happens is if you and your beloved are "all in." I think the best investment model for a successful relationship is the 100/100 deal.

With being 100/100, it is no longer about fairness; it is about the success of the relationship. Example: In my marriage, when I'm having a bad day, I know my wife has my back because she'll step up no matter how much I'm dropping the ball. I may forget something, I may do another thing incorrectly, and I might even hurt her feelings through some unintended mean words I say. However, two things always happen after those moments of weakness. My wife will still have my back, and, I'll have hers.

But, wait! That wasn't fair!!!! Didn't I make up for things? Well, of course I did - well - tried. When we make mistakes, we can't exactly take things back. It already happened at a point and space in time. Again, aiming for 100/100 isn't about fairness. It is about the success of the relationship. My wife also knows that should she have bad days, I have her taken care of and will be at my best 100% of the time. Say we both have bad days, we're at 70%/70%... our relationship is still charged up at 140% of the day... MUCH better than the 50/50 situation.

I suppose the best way to describe the 50/50 FailZone in relationships goes beyond fairness, justice, equality, or even commitment. This zone of failure exists because the in the 50/50 model, you have two individuals trying to exist within acceptable vicinity. In the 100/100 model, you have a team who rejects the individualism that can cause separation. You have a singular team who will stop it nothing to succeed; to find themselves in a place of happiness, fulfillment, and pleasurable joy.

That is the power where you have a relationship that is "all in." That is the power when all players involved are at 100% effort no matter what the other player is doing.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lessons From My 6 Week Sabbatical

For 6 weeks after I completed my post as a rehab director, I took a much needed sabbatical to refocus myself and gear up for the next leg of life's journey. There have been many lessons learned; both professional, and, personal. These following is a collection - in no specific order, nor grouping - of the lessons I've learned from taking a 6 week break from professional working life.

Lessons From My 6 Week Sabbatical
  • Time is the only currency that is held a constant equalizer in the human experience. We are given time, we spend our time, and we never get it back.
  • My family needs my availability in depth and frequency; dedicated weekends aren't always enough.
  • Make your work empower your living; living to empower your work - that may take you down a road of emptiness.
  • I *really* needed to spend more time with my family; work consumed me far more than I realized. Trying to take on directorship, MBA program, and a growing family was too much for me. You must pick your priorities - there is always later for those other goals in life.
  • The money is out there; there are those who work 18 hours a day... others work 8. Certain jobs pay more, certain jobs pay less. Those jobs that "make a lot of money" may not make so much on the hourly rate.
  • For me, lifestyle is everything. Sure, the earning potential is available should one pursue it, but, look at what it may cost you. Those best years of your life that you could be spending in the enjoyment of wonderful experiences... how enjoyable will such experiences be later? What's worse... what if you never get the chance to enjoy them?
  • A career should be aimed on how you want to spend your life. If you are rewarded by the achievement, the promotion, the money, and the grind... by all means, work 80-100 hours a week!
  • Most company jobs pay poorly and offer benefits, or, pay well and offer poor benefits. The jobs that pay well tend to be less stable. The jobs that offer excellent benefits tend to be more stable. However, neither of those jobs promise to be rewarding. When you seek a job, be sure you identify that x-factor... the elements which will keep you engaged in your work.
  • Time is too precious to be devoted to the dollar; devote it to meaningful pursuits in matters which impact the lives of others.
  • Live life like you're on vacation!
  • Take your time to enjoy the simpler things.
  • Take the time to enjoy things that are "free."
  • Take time to sip coffee slowly.
  • Enjoy the local cuisines - explore - try new things.
  • Nature is a beautiful thing. Take a walk on the weekend.
  • Star Wars Wisdom - Savor "the moment":
    • Obi-Wan: But Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future.
    • Qui-Gon Jinn: But not at the expense of the moment.
  • Disneyland is NOT too expensive; it is only "expensive" if you are measuring the worth by the number of rides you go on, crammed in a very stressful window of time.
  • I really love coffee! Has anyone tried Vietnamese style iced Espresso Coffee? Amazing! (typically available at your local Pho shop)
  • Source pic linked.
  • Planet Earth has some really amazing captures; my favorite were the water based ones.
  • I need to make more time for my hobbies.
  • Have you ever just sat down on a bench at Disneyland? Just sit there on Main Street. Grab a coffee or tea. Just sit. You'll see the magic.
  • I turned out to be quite a good consultant!
  • I'm a good teacher, and, hope to get into formal teaching in some respect in the future - whether it be professorship, or, teaching via continuing education or a related outlet.
  • I have a passion for problem solving; it's something I'm naturally good at - it's something that I find fulfilling. Fulfillment is important. I need to continue to focus on that aspect of life.
  • When I reflect on all the wisdom I've gathered from patient/client encounters, I always get the feedback consistent with my studies in psychology; when people have thanksgivings and/or regrets at the full of their lives, they do not seem to consider the physical. It's never about the money, the cars, the houses, the land, the properties, watches, jewelry, etc. Their hearts long for the people, the experiences, the chances they never got to take - or - never had the braves to take.
  • Invest in people.
  • Take risks!
  • Have fun!
  • Be generous with your mind, and, your heart.
  • Make your path one that is filled with loving footprints left in the lives of others.
Some Closing Thoughts:
My lovely and beautiful wife, Christina, and I took our son, Nathan, to Disneyland an uncountable number of times during these 6 weeks - noted, he was in the 6-7 month age range at the time. He was a champ! There was much driving, lots of stroller and Ergo carrier time. There was turkey legs, chicken this, chicken that... fried chicken, ice creams, sodas, pastas... I mean, we ate a LOT. We also went out for breakfasts, took local mini-hiking trails, took pictures around town... we really took it slow. It was life like we were retired... And, you know what? It was awesome.

It was a stark contrast of what I have been doing in my professional career. From a professional standpoint, I've been nothing but a high speed bullet train on the express line to "success." I had developed a strong track record of being promoted in the fasted time allotted to any position I've held. I reached a directorship in record time, and, demonstrated high octane performance in terms of running the business - stellar metrics were attained in such expediency for which my superiors thought it'd take me at least a year to do what I achieved in months. I had developed many business connections in a very short amount of time which were proving to also benefit my work. At the same window of time, I was hitting those MBA courses with ferocity - even achieving acknowledgment on the Dean's List. It was a path of true busyness. However, the bullet train, like any other train, made stops along the way. One of the stops in this direction was a very hard November of 2013. During this month, my family suffered. To be vulnerably honest, it came to a point that one couldn't pay me enough money to keep up the pace. It wasn't worth it. My time wasn't worth it. My family wasn't worth that price.

The health restored and even elevated to my family is more than enough confirmation that slowing down, taking a slightly different route, and, amending my philosophical operand was the best choice I ever could have made. Now, I do plan on finishing the MBA in marketing. The pursuit of the degree, and, especially the content along the way has been much of what has lead me to this point - a very happy point I might add. I've learned a LOT. I can't wait to learn more. More so, I can't wait to apply the art and science of business for the benefit of others. I aim to utilize my training and education in a unique way - to go beyond the clinical, the educational, and the financial. I hope that in the end, I am able to contribute to the lives of others in extraordinary ways through revolutionary innovative solutions.

We'll see! ;)

Final Thought - "The Story of the Fisherman and the Businessman":
While I've researched this story a little bit... it seems to have many versions - a popular version seems to be based out of Mexico - and - since I'm in San Diego, I'm going to give this version the "local nod." And... it goes a little something - like - this.... enjoy!

There was once a businessman vacationing south of the border. His path crossed a small Mexican village along the coast. There, he saw a fisherman in a small boat coming back to shore with a few tails of yellow fin tuna – fine catches.

Impressed by the catch, he asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch these fish?”

“Not long at all,” said the fisherman.

Further impressed, the businessman asked “Why don’t you stay out longer and catch even more fish?”

The fisherman replied, “This is more than enough to feed my whole family.”

Then, the businessman asked, “What do you do with the rest of your day?” 

The fisherman said, “Well, I usually sleep in late – wake up whenever I want. I play with my kids. Go out and fish when I need to. I take afternoon siestas (naps) with my wife. After dinner, my friends and I go out for some tequila – we play guitar, sing and dance into the night. I live a full and happy life.”

The business man thought for a moment. “Look. I have an MBA from Harvard. I can help you be more successful!”

“From now on, you could wake up early in the morning and spend more time fishing; try to catch as many fish as you can. You can sell the fish and make lots of money. Soon, you’ll need to buy a second boat and hire a crew – eventually you’ll have your own fishing fleet and can own your own processing plant. Your fish is fresh and naturally caught – you can set up your headquarters in a larger and nicer city… Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles! You could own your own business with branches all over the world!”

“What happens after that?” the fisherman asked.

The businessmen laughed, “Well! You’d be so successful, you could take your company public – into the Stock Exchange. You would make millions upon millions… live like a king in a mansion. You could buy anything you want and do everything you like!”

The fisherman asked, “Well, how long would that take?”

“Well… maybe 15… 20 years,” answered the businessman.

“And after 20 years, what would I do?” asked the fisherman.

The businessman said, “Then – you could retire… find a nice quite island or coastal village. You could go out and fish whenever you want - pursue your hobbies, spend time with your wife, enjoy your kids, and go out with your friends late into the night!”