Thursday, 27 March 2014

It Smells Like Rain

Heaven Scent

A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. Still groggy from surgery, her husband David held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news.

That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency cesarean to deliver the couple's new daughter, Danae Lu Blessing. At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound and nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor's soft words dropped like bombs.

"I don't think she's going to make it," he said, as kindly as he could. "There's only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one."

Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Danae would likely face if she survived. She would never walk. She would never talk. She would probably be blind. She would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on, and on. "No! No!" was all Diana could say. She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away.

Through the dark hours of morning as Danae held onto life by the thinnest thread, Diana slipped in and out of drugged sleep, growing more and more determined that their tiny daughter would live and live to be a healthy, happy young girl. But David, fully awake and listening to additional dire details of their daughter's chances of ever leaving the hospital alive, much less healthy, knew he must confront his wife with the inevitable.

"David walked in and said that we needed to talk about making funeral arrangements," Diana remembers "I felt so bad for him because he was doing everything, trying to include me in what was going on, but I just wouldn't listen, I couldn't listen. I said, "No, that is not going to happen, no way! I don't care what the doctors say Danae is not going to die! One day she will be just fine, and she will be coming home with us!"

As if willed to live by Diana's determination, Danae clung to life hour after hour, with the help of every medical machine and marvel her miniature body could endure. But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Danae's underdeveloped nervous system was essentially "raw," every lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort- so they couldn't even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Danae struggled alone beneath the ultra-violet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.

There was never a moment when Danae suddenly grew stronger. But as weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there.

At last, when Danae turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later-though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero - Danae went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted.

Today, five years later, Danae is a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She shows no signs, whatsoever, of any mental or physical impairments. Simply, she is everything a little girl can be and more-but that happy ending is far from the end of her story.

One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Danae was sitting in her mother's lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin's baseball team was practicing. As always, Danae was chattering non-stop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent.

Hugging her arms across her chest, Danae asked, "Do you smell that?" Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, "Yes, it smells like rain." Dana closed her eyes and again asked, "Do you smell that?" Once again, her mother replied, "Yes, I think we're about to get wet. It smells like rain."

Still caught in the moment, Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, "No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest."

Tears blurred Diana's eyes as Danae then happily hopped down to play with the other children before the rains came her daughter's words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along.

During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Danae on His chest- and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.


--- Copyright © 1998 Nancy Miller
Columbia Homecare Group --- Dallas, Texas


Who You Are Makes A Difference



A teacher in New York decided to honor each of her seniors in high school by telling them the difference they each made.

Using a process developed by Helice Bridges of Del Mar, California, she called each student to the front of the class, one at a time.

First she told them how the student made a difference to her and the class. Then she presented each of them with a blue ribbon imprinted with gold letters which read, "Who I Am Makes a Difference."

Afterwards the teacher decided to do a class project to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a community.

She gave each of the students three more ribbons and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony.

Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom and report back to the class in about a week.

One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company and honored him for helping him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon and put it on his shirt.

Then he gave him two extra ribbons, and said, "We're doing a class project on recognition, and we'd like you to go out, find somebody to honor, give them a blue ribbon, then give them the extra blue ribbon so they can acknowledge a third person to keep this acknowledgment ceremony going. Then please report back to me and tell me what happened."

Later that day the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had been noted, by the way, as being kind of a grouchy fellow. He sat his boss down and he told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon and would he give him permission to put it on him. His surprised boss said,"Well, sure."

The junior executive took the blue ribbon and placed it right on his boss's jacket above his heart. As he gave him the last extra ribbon, he said,
"Would you do me a favor? Would you take this extra ribbon and pass it on by honoring somebody else? The young boy who first gave me the ribbons is doing a project in school and we want to keep this recognition ceremony going and find out how it affects people."

That night the boss came home to his 14-year-old son and sat him down. He said, "The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine. He thinks I'm a creative genius."

Then he put this blue ribbon that says "Who I Am Makes A Difference" on my jacket above my heart. He gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor.

As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon and I thought about you. I want to honor you.

"My days are really hectic and when I come home I don't pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school and for your bedroom being a mess, but somehow tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me.

Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You're a great kid and I love you!"

The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn't stop crying. His whole body shook.

He looked up at his father and said through his tears, "I was planning on committing suicide tomorrow, Dad, because I didn't think you loved me. Now I don't need to."

--- Helice Bridges --- sent to me by my friend Jan Christianson


Attitude Is Everything

Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!" He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant.

The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.

I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. "Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations.

You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life."

I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers.

While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices:

I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked. Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared.

I read, 'He's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action." "What did you do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything." "Yes," I replied.

The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled,"Bullets!"

Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything.
--- By Francie Baltazar-Schwartz


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Warung Ibu Oka: an Authentic Balinese Dining Experience

The Bali-style babi guling (roast pig) served at Warung Ibu Oka is most famous for Anthony Bourdain's loving coverage of the restaurant and its product. While Bourdain has moved on in his affections (lechon from the Philippines has now taken first place in his lard-encrusted heart), Ibu Oka's babi guling still exerts a spell over the visitors who swarm to Jalan Raya in Ubud, Bali, taking time out of their schedule exploring Ubud's shopping, dining, and sightseeing to follow in Bourdain's footsteps.

Location of Warung Ibu Oka

Warung Ibu Oka is set in a small, open-air space opposite the Ubud Royal Palace. On the southern end of the space stands the kitchen area, while the rest of the space is reserved for diners: a raised platform with low tables allows diners to enjoy their meal sitting on the floor, while the lower part features round tables with plastic chairs and umbrellas.

The place is open for only four hours a day - starting at 11am, when the first of six whole roast pigs makes its way to the premises atop a motorcycle. Ibu Oka stays open until the last pig is chopped up and served to their hungry patrons.

Make no mistake, Ibu Oka serves Bali babi guling and only babi guling: chopped up and served on paper plates, these heavenly pieces of pork are best enjoyed in combination with boiled white rice, spicy vegetables, and blood sausage.

The complete meal described above is known as babi guling spesial ("special roast pork", IDR 30,000), and offers the best parts of the pig: a square of crisp skin tops the slab of fatty pork meat you get with the dish, and the steaming hot rice is balanced out by the slice of blood sausage and helping of spiced vegetables beside it on the plate.
Babi Guling: the Star of the Show

It's not a pretty sight, if you're used to neat servings of Western food, but it's Balinese soul food exemplified: a substantial rice and meat meal with accents of spices and grease. The contrasts play in your mouth like a melodious gamelan orchestra: the crunch of the crackling plus the softness of the rice, the granular texture of the blood sausage versus the buttery softness of the fatty pork meat.

The roast pork is cooked away from the restaurant location; to make babi guling, whole pig carcasses are stuffed with various herbs and spices according to a secret family recipe: components likely include galangal, lemongrass, shallots, and garlic. After stuffing, the carcass is roasted on a skewer, turning slowly over a fire for several hours until the skin turns a rich, deep brown.

The crisp, savory skin is especially prized by babi guling eaters, but the tender, seasoned meat is what gives babi guling its heft: having absorbed the secret spices during the cooking process, the meat tastes delicate and practically melts in your mouth.
A Family Affair

Ibu Oka only opened for business in 2000, but the product has a long and storied lineage: the food blog A Girl Has to Eat interviewed Agun, a cousin of the restaurant's namesake Ibu Oka, who confided that the business began in his father's time.

Their family had been preparing babi guling for the Ubud royal family: given leave to sell their delicious product to Balinese commoners, the family set up a stall in the market, which eventually led to the restaurant in this prime area of Ubud.

The family still prepares babi guling in the traditional way, starting at the crack of dawn by slaughtering the pigs to be served. "The roasting takes place next to Agun's house and about six pigs are roasted each day, more on festival days and on other important occasions," the blogger explains. "It's the use of the time held tradition of roasting over wood that Agun says is what gives the suckling pig its intense flavor. The fire needs to be extremely hot to both sufficiently crisp the crackling and to ensure that the bones do not break as would happen over a lower heat."

That's an even bigger endorsement than anything that Anthony Bourdain could ever cook up: the reassurance that diners at Warung Ibu Oka experience an authentic, hand-crafted bit of Balinese culture that no Western influence has managed to ruin yet.

Warung Ibu Oka
Branch 1: Jalan Tegal Sari 2, Ubud, Bali (Google Maps)
Branch 2: Jalan Raya Teges, Ubud, tel: +62 361 976 345

The main branch of Ibu Oka is centrally located in Ubud's town square, across the street from the Royal Palace and just down the street from both the art market and the Museum Puri Lukisan.

For other activities you can do within five minutes' walk of the restaurant, check out our list of 10 Things to Do in Ubud, Bali. For more on the country's other eats, read our primer on Indonesian food.

http://goseasia.about.com


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Bacteria can be a weapon fight cancer

Wellington , New Zealand (AFP ) - A recent study from New Zealand showed that the bacteria entered into the patient's body can help fight cancer tumors such as melanoma .

The results showed bacteria can stimulate an immune response type as effective against cancer cell killer .

" By using bacteria , we can stimulate the immune system to fight cancer and the results ( study ) we showed natural killer cells is essential in improving the response , " said Professor Alex McLellan of the University of Otago , as reported by Xinhua news agency .

He added , natural killer cells is stimulated by bacteria to increase the potential immune response against the tumor .

" Interestingly , the natural killer cells do not seem to make any stronger vaccine , it improves the visibility of tumor immune responses induced by vaccination , " said McLellan .

Then , still says he , an immunological approach to cancer ever conducted in the 1890s when the U.S. surgeon William Coley found that patients infected with the bacteria , the bacteria that have a significant impact or even destroy the cancer .

" However , that approach does not seriously studied after the development of chemotherapy and radiation , " he said .

According to McLellan , the next step is to test the findings using human cells , then extend it to cancer patients through collaborators in Germany , he said .


Black chocolate good for heart health

Recent studies have shown dark chocolate good for heart health because it can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis ; thickening and hardening of the arteries .

The researchers include Prof. Diederik Esser of Top Institute Food and Nutrition and the Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University said , dark chocolate can restore the flexibility of the arteries and prevents white blood cells stick to the vessel wall .

In a study published in The FASEB Journal , researchers analyzed 44 obese men aged 45 and 70 years .

For more than two periods in four weeks , the men were asked to consume 70 grams of dark chocolate and 70 grams of dark chocolate with high flavanol content on a regular basis every day .

Flavanols are natural antioxidants found in some plants , including cocoa .

These men were also asked not to consume other foods high in calories during the study , in order to prevent weight gain .

During the study , the researchers also studied 44 healthy blood vessels these men .

The results showed in both groups a decrease in augmentation index ( AIX ) and flow-mediated dilation ( FMD ) respectively of one percent .

Then , the number of leukocytes , plasma sICAM1 and sICAM3 , leukocyte adhesion marker expression was reduced.

This means that consumption of dark chocolate may lower the risk of the participants affected by atherosclerosis .

The results also show the two types of chocolate produce the same benefits for heart health , said Prof . Esser as reported by Medical News Today .

He added that the flavanol content can affect the taste and it can motivate people to eat chocolate .

Meanwhile , the editor of The FASEB Journal , Dr. Gerald Weissman , said the findings could lead to new therapeutic treatments that provide the same benefits as dark chocolate consumption .


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Healthy diet tips to keep your skin glowing and young

(www.pixabay.com-public domain pictures)
Dermatologists from London , Dr Stefanie Williams , share tips on how simple changes in your nutrition affects the skin .

Here are ten tips that she gave as quoted by page Female First :

1 . Reduce Sugar In our skin , the sugar reacts with collagen to form the 'Advanced Glycation End products ' ( AGEs ), which makes the collagen fibers deteriorate . So , a bit of sugar we consume , the better .