Cell phone danger

My 12 and 11 year old kids have asked me at least a couple of times for a cell phone, my response was simply “No. You don’t need it.” In my mind, they are too young to have cell phones.

Yes, some of their friends have cell phones. But it doesn’t mean they should have it too. 

There has been so much information on the Internet about the danger of cell phones, especially for children, that I want to delay my kids’ owning and using cell phones as long as possible.

What age do you think is appropriate for kids to have their own cell phones? At what age did you or will you let you kids have their own cell phones? 

As for myself, I don’t use my cell phone a lot. I don’t use it for any long period of time and to chitchat. I don’t call when I drive.

I used to keep my cell phone close to my body, but now I mostly leave it in my purse or bag.

There are a few simple things you can do to avoid cell phone dangers. Read How to Avoid Cell Phone Dangers.

Time Magazine lists five simple ways to reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation:

Use a wired headset

This keeps the antenna far away from your skull.

Get used to texting

Texting also keeps the handset away from your brain, reducing the radiation risk.

Don’t use your cell phone as an alarm clock

If you use your phone as your wake-up call, you’ll likely need to keep it close to your head; there’s still radiation being emitted even when it’s not taking calls.

Don’t carry your phone in your pocket

There’s preliminary research to indicate that men who carry a phone in their pocket all day could be putting their fertility at risk, and women who carry their phones in their bra could be increasing their risk of breast cancer.

Use a radiation-blocking case

These can reduce cell phone radiation by two-thirds.

Dr. Mercola has the following  advice:

Children Should Always Avoid Using Cell Phones: Barring a life-threatening emergency, children should not use a cell phone, or a wireless device of any type. Children are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults, because of their thinner skull bones.

Reduce Your Cell Phone Use: Turn your cell phone off more often. Reserve it for emergencies or important matters. As long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not actually making a call.

Use a Land Line at Home and at Work: Although more and more people are switching to using cell phones as their exclusive phone contact, it is a dangerous trend and you can choose to opt out of the madness.

Reduce or Eliminate Your Use of Other Wireless Devices: You would be wise to cut down your use of these devices. Just as with cell phones, it is important to ask yourself whether or not you really need to use them every single time.

If you must use a portable home phone, use the older kind that operates at 900 MHz. They are no safer during calls, but at least many of them do not broadcast constantly even when no call is being made.

Note the only way to truly be sure if there is an exposure from your cordless phone is to measure with an electrosmog meter, and it must be one that goes up to the frequency of your portable phone (so old meters won’t help much). As many portable phones are 5.8 Gigahertz, we recommend you look for RF meters that go up to 8 Gigahertz, the highest range now available in a meter suitable for consumers.

Alternatively you can be very careful with the base station placement as that causes the bulk of the problem since it transmits signals 24/7, even when you aren’t talking. So if you can keep the base station at least three rooms away from where you spend most of your time, and especially your bedroom, they may not be as damaging to your health. Another option is to just simply turn the portable phone off, only using it when you specifically need the convenience of moving about while on a call.

Ideally it would be helpful to turn off your base station every night before you go to bed.

You can find RF meters as well as remediation supplies at www.emfsafetystore.com. But you can pretty much be sure your portable phone is a problem if the technology is DECT, or digitally enhanced cordless technology.

Use Your Cell Phone Only Where Reception is Good: The weaker the reception, the more power your phone must use to transmit, and the more power it uses, the more radiation it emits, and the deeper the dangerous radio waves penetrate into your body. Ideally, you should only use your phone with full bars and good reception.

Also seek to avoid carrying your phone on your body as that merely maximizes any potential exposure. Ideally put it in your purse or carrying bag. Placing a cell phone in a shirt pocket over the heart is asking for trouble, as is placing it in a man’s pocket if he seeks to preserve his fertility.(See ElectromagneticHealth.org’s Letter to Parents on Fertility and Other Risks to Children from Wireless Technologies)

Don’t Assume One Cell Phone is Safer Than Another.There’s no such thing as a “safe” cell phone.

Keep Your Cell Phone Away From Your Body When it is On: The most dangerous place to be, in terms of radiation exposure, is within about six inches of the emitting antenna. You do not want any part of your body within that area.

Respect Others Who are More Sensitive: Some people who have become sensitive can feel the effects of others’ cell phones in the same room, even when it is on but not being used.

If you are in a meeting, on public transportation, in a courtroom or other public places, such as a doctor’s office, keep your cell phone turned off out of consideration for the ‘second hand radiation’ effects. Children are also more vulnerable, so please avoid using your cell phone near children.

Use Safer Headset Technology: Wired headsets will certainly allow you to keep the cell phone farther away from your body. However, if a wired headset is not well-shielded — and most of them are not — the wire itself acts as an antenna attracting ambient information carrying radio waves and transmitting radiation directly to your brain.

Make sure that the wire used to transmit the signal to your ear is shielded.

The best kind of headset to use is a combination shielded wire and air-tube headset. These operate like a stethoscope, transmitting the information to your head as an actual sound wave; although there are wires that still must be shielded, there is no wire that goes all the way up to your head.

 

Social networking tools – a blessing in times of need

Social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn are wonderful and powerful tools for keeping people connected in their personal and professional lives. But I didn’t realize that social networking tools can be such a blessing in times of need until recently.

When my pastor at Spirit of Life Bible Church, Frank Sanders, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last month, his family created a CaringBridge site to help keep family and friends informed about Frank’s treatment.

In the last 40 days since the CaringBridge site was created, there were 37 journal entries from his family to update on his status, 590 guestbook entries from friends around the country to share their prayers, support and encouragement, and about 10,500 visits from family and friends to the site.

What an amazing tool the CaringBridge site is! It is a real blessing for everyone.

Without it, family and friends won’t be kept up to date so easily. Without it, Frank won’t hear from so many people and be so encouraged by so many prayers and kind words. Without it, his friends, many of them don’t know each other, won’t feel so touched by each other’s sharing.

The CaringBridge site has become a wonderful and powerful testimony to what a great man Pastor Frank is and how many lives he has touched.

Another website that has been very helpful for the family in this time of need is MealTrain.com. It simplifies the process of giving and receiving meals and makes meal scheduling easier.

Are you an Innie or an Outie?

Are you an Innie or an Outie, Introvert or Extrovert?

Introversion or extroversion is a type of temperament, a central dimension of human personality. It is innate and not something you can change.

Martin Olsen Laney in her book “The Introvert Advantage” talks about the following three characteristic differences between introverts and extroverts.

1. How they recharge their batteries – energy creation

The primary difference between introverts and extroverts and the strongest distinguishing characteristic is their energy source.

Introverts are energized by the internal world – by ideas, thoughts, emotions, and impressions. They are more concerned with the inner life of the mind and enjoy solitary activities. They need their alone time and just to bethemselves. They can be easily overstimulated by the external world. Introverts have the ability to to think independently, focus deeply, and work creatively.

Extroverts are energized by the external world – by activities, people, places, and things. They like to be with people, engage in activities outside and do things. They enjoy crowds and action. Extroverts can express themselves easily and concentrate on getting results.

Extroverts can refresh themselves easily by doing something in the outer world. Their focus is outside themselves.

2. How they experience and response to external stimulation

Extroverts like to experience a lot, and introverts like to know a lot about what they experience. Extroverts thrive on a variety of stimuli, whereas introverts can find it too much.

3. How they approach knowledge and experience – breadth and depth

Generally speaking, extroverts like breadth – lots of friends and experiences, knowing a little bit about everything, being a generalist. Variety is simulating and energizing.

Introverts like depth and will limit their experiences but feel each of them deeply. Usually they have fewer friends but more intimacy. They like to delve deeply into topics and look for richness more than muchness. They absorb information from the outside environment and then reflect on it and expand it.

Finding jobs that match your personality

Introverts tend to be in the “advisor class” – people who work independently. They are creative, imaginative, intelligent, and thoughtful. They are observers.

Many artists, writers, librarians, researchers, therapists, historians, teachers, ministers, IT professionals, accountants, auditors, personal financial advisors, and civil engineers are introverts.

Extroverts tend to be in the “warrior class” – the doers of the world. They need counsel from the advisors, and the advisors need warriors to take action and make things happen.

Introverts make up just a quarter of the general population. Many theorists think that is because fewer advisors are needed.  

We can’t change our personality, but we can learn to work with it, not against it.

I knew I am an introvert. From the little bit I have read so far in the book and shared here, it just totally confirmed what I knew.

I am a librarian and writer. I am more comfortable with writing than speaking in public. I think more than I do. I know more than I do. I prefer small gatherings with few friends, in deeper conversations and in more intimate relationships than big parties with lots of people, in general superficial conversations.

I will share more after I finish reading the book.

Good customer services

I have done a few posts about not so pleasant shopping experiences with overcharging. I don’t want to leave the impression that it’s all bad customer services out there.

No. Actually I think most stores have great customer services. They go above and beyond to make customers happy.

So in this post I would like to share some good customer services I have experienced.

My favorite good customer service experience happened at Sam’s Club in Woodbury.

Last year I went shopping at Sam’s Club for an office event. When I walked to my van, I noticed that the box of 1000 ct. foam cups I just paid for was no longer under the cart. Some how the box disappeared within the short distance from the checkout line to the van in the parking lot. I didn’t left the cart unattended. The only thing I could think of was the strong wind blew the box away from underneath the cart and I didn’t notice it.

I went back to the store and explained to the customer service rep. She helped me look for it and checked my van. We couldn’t find it any where in the store or in the paring lot. So she gave me a replacement box. That was very nice.

Last December I printed 100 photo greeting cards at Sam’s Club. When I designed it at home, it looked fine on my screen. But when I got the photos, someone’s hair was partially cut off. Sam’s Club reprinted the photos for me, even though it’s not their fault. It was a problem with the design. I should have left more space around the edge. I felt bad about having everything reprinted, but I was certainly grateful that Sam’s Club did it.

Any time I am not satisfied with the photo prints, for whatever reason, Sam’s Club always reprints for me, without any question.

Not long ago, I went to Kohl’s to buy clothes for my daughter. I had a 30% off coupon to use, but I left it in my car. I asked the cashier if I should go back to get my coupon, she said it was not necessary. She simply took 30% off from my purchase. I thought that was nice.

Recently I bought a wok at Bed Bath & Beyond. I asked the cashier if they had those coupons sent to local residents’ homes. I wished I had checked and printed one from the Internet. She told me I could go back anytime to get the discount price if I receive the coupon in the mail. I thought that was nice.

One day last year I was in Target with my daughter. Suddenly the power went out and it was pitch dark. It took a few minutes for Target to get their own power going. At the checkout, I was giving $3 store credit for the inconvenience. I thought that was nice. The power outage was area wide, it was not just in Target. Target didn’t do anything wrong to cause the outage. 

Last December I bought a set of flannel bed sheet on sale at Herberger’s. I asked for their store return policy and was told I can return anytime with the receipt, the same policy Macy’s has. I haven’t used the set and intend to either exchange it to a bigger size or return it. It’s great customer service to offer such generous return policy.

Speaking of return policy, I think almost all stores here in this country have return policy and allow items to be returned, even when the packages are opened and items are used ( for certain electronic items a fee will apply). Some thrift stores are exceptions.

I am not sure about other countries, but I know in China, you can’t return items once you bought them.

It’s fortunate that here we can buy and return stuff very easily and with no hassle, for any reason or no reason. In a way, it encourages mindless and careless buying.

Overall, I have more positive shopping experiences than negative ones. We have good customer services and consumer protection in the US.

Ways to protect yourself as a consumer

A reader left a comment to my post Overcharged at the grocery store and shared some of her bad experiences and frustrations as a consumer with being charged incorrectly, with automatic charge on credit cards, with rebates, coupons, etc.

I have had all those bad experience. I learned a few things to protect myself as a consumer.

The first line of protection is to know what I buy and what I pay for. Some people just grab things they want and never pay attention to the prices. But I do. I look at the prices for the items I buy. I may not remember the exact price for everything I buy, but I have a pretty good idea.

At the checkout, I usually look at the screen when items are scanned. If the cashier enters the wrong code, I will notice right away and have it corrected.

After I get my receipt, I quickly glance over it and check the price for the sales items.  If I find any errors, I can get them resolved on the spot. I always save my  receipts.

Every month when I get my bank and credit card statements, I verify all the charges against my receipts.

Nowadays I use my credit card for all purchases whenever I can, for three reasons.

First, it’s very convenient. I don’t need to carry much cash. 

Second, with my Upromise credit card, I can earn 1% cash back for my kids’ college education. Every year I can get at least a couple of hundred dollars back and it’s automatically invested into my kids’ 529 college savings plan.

Third, credit card gives me protection that cash or check can’t provide. 

Whenever I have a problem with any charge and it can’t get resolved directly with the merchant, I contact the credit card company to dispute the charge. I always get the money back. I found the credit card companies are very good at helping me get money back.

I remember a few instances when I had to contact credit card companies to get money back.

Unauthorized charges from an Arabian country in small amounts ($20) over a period of time.

Continuous charges from a telephone company even though I had canceled the service.

Disputed charge from a hotel that provided bad service and no hot water.

Double charges from the same place on the same day.

Here is my favorite story to share.

Many years ago I was living in Madison, Wisconsin. One day I purchased some broccoli on sale. When I got home and looked at my receipt, I noticed that I didn’t get the sales price for the broccoli. So during my next shopping trip, I went to the customer service desk and asked about the incorrect charge.

I had the receipt. But the customer service person said I needed to bring the broccoli back in order for him to figure out the price difference. I was surprised.

How hard was it to figure that out? We knew the price and the weight of the item.

I went home and wrote a letter to the store manager. I explained what happened and said I didn’t need to get the money back, but they should keep it to provide their employees better training.

A few days later, I heard a knock on the door. When I opened it, a guy delivered a nice fruit basket to me from the store as an apology.

Then I wrote a second letter to thank the store manager for the gift. This time I was really impressed by their customer service.

Overall I have to say, yes, I have been overcharged or wrongly charged many times, but they usually get resolved in my favor. That’s probably why I don’t get frustrated about it much.

Staying connected through Facebook

Lucia, her sister and me in an undated photo over 30 years ago

 

Now Lucia is a mother of two teenage boys

————————————————-

My cousin Lucia lives in Budapest, Hungary. I haven’t seen her for about 30 years.

We grew up in the same city in China. She lived with my grandma and grandpa at that time whom I visited often with my parents.

Today I found out through Facebook that it’s her birthday.  “Today is her birthday” appeard under her name when I clicked on her latest post. And there are some Happy Birthday wishes from her friends.

I didn’t know it’s her birthday. Well, thanks to Facebook, I found that out and was able to send her a Happy Birthday wish as well. 

On Facebook, of course.

I love Facebook and other social networking tools.

Through Facebook, blogs, and other tools we can get back in touch with old friends, keep each other informed about our lives, no matter where we live, whether we are neighbors or far apart across the world. We can share pictures, chat, and stay connected closely.

Facebook also allows us to make new friends whom we will not be able to meet physically.

It’s easy, fast and convenient.

Quick to listen, slow to speak

Quite contrary to what the Bible teaches: quick to listen, slow to speak, I often find myself in the opposite position.

I am slow to listen, quick to speak, especially in dealing with my own family members.

I want to be the person in control. I want to show that I am right. I like to tell people what to do and how to do it. If they don’t do it the way I want, I am quick to speak and criticise.

Today while reading fellow blogger Arina’s post 10 Steps to Expressing Constructive Criticism and to Being Heard, I was reminded that criticism is an art. Even if I am right and there is a good reason for me to criticise someone, there is a better way to do it.  Arina offered some really good advice on how to express constructive criticism in her article.

Finding the good in the bad weather

We are in the middle of another snowstorm in Minnesota.

Snow started falling quickly this Sunday morning and will end Monday afternoon. Much of the metro area could see between 12 and 15 inches of snow on the ground by the time the snow stops Monday afternoon, forecasters said.

If so, it would make this winter the second-snowiest to date in the Twin Cities, and push it into the top 10 snowiest entire winters.

The good thing is this snowstorm is happening on the weekend and on Monday -President’s Day that is a holiday for many people. All city, county, state and federal government offices, schools, post offices, libraries, financial market will be closed. The Monday commuting won’t be as bad as it could be if it were a normal working day.

If you look at the pictures below some of which show snow in Russia, you will feel fortunate that we don’t have it so bad here. It could be a lot worse than what we are getting. It’s all about perspective.

Divine appointment

I experienced a divine appointment today. I don’t know what to call it otherwise. This is probably the first time in my life that I felt that way.

I went to my church – Spirit of Life Bible Church – to attend the marriage seminar with guest speaker Senior Pastor Al Gossan from Lighthouse Christian Fellowship Church in Holland, Michigan.

When I walked in the Church, the seminar had just started. I went straight to the area where I normally sit every Sunday. Almost half of the people in attendance today were from other sister churches in Minnesota and Wisconsin. They came for this special event.

I took a seat next to a Hmong looking woman without any thought.

But after I sat down, I felt a sense of regret. I didn’t know this person sitting next to me. I wished I had took the seat in the next row and sat by someone I know from the Church and who is also a co-worker. We could have chatted during breaks about our workplace as we sometimes do.

But it was too late to change. So I sat there listening to the speakers and without saying a word to my neighbor.

After lunch we came back to continue the seminar. My neighbor, whose name is Sandie, took the initiative and introduced herself. We exchanged a few words. I felt a little embarrassed that I didn’t take the initiative to say “hi” to her first and to welcome her to our Church.

When the seminar ended, Sandie handed me a piece of paper with her name and contact info to keep in touch with each other. She said: “I have a story to tell you.”

Then she proceeded to share her testimony of how she was saved recently and how her husband was also saved and miraculously recovered from alcohol as the result of her prayer.

We stayed for quite a long time and talked.

Her words and story were something I needed to hear. She really lifted my spirit up. I felt encouraged.

I had the strong feeling that my meeting with Sandie and her husband was not a coincidence, but a divine appointment inspired and led by God.

In addition to experiencing the divine appointment, I also enjoyed the teachings by Pastor Al Gossan.

Later I read Pastor Al Gossan’s supernatural conversion testimony online. Reading about his life and conversion was also inspiring for me. 

I was glad that I went to the seminar and had a spirit-filled day.

A portrait of love

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post about Dr. David Jeremiah‘s book The Signs of Life.

I would like to share a portrait of love, as described by Dr. David Jeremiah in the book.

Words of love –

Words can build up as well as tear down. That’s very true. I once wrote an article titled “The power of the written word.”

We shall remember the advice from reformer Martin Luther: “When I have nothing more to say, I stop talking,” or the advice from our mothers: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Even if  you have to confront someone, make sure you speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)

Deeds of love –

Love is both a noun and a verb. While words of love are important, if they are not supported by deeds of love, they will in time sound hallow.

Thoughts of love –

As we think in our hearts, so we become (Proverbs 23:7) Our private thoughts are the building blocks of the people we become. Our thoughts determine our action.

Gifts of love –

God has given to every person three things to manage: time, talent and treasure. It’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). A synonym for love is give.

Steps of love –

Every step we take in this life is taken in pursuit of something. Everywhere we go, we are following someone or something. It’s not wrong if we pursue things for ourselves, but if we are only following our own dreams, our life becomes self-centered instead of God-centered. Pursuing something higher than the things of this world.

Today I heard on KTIS AM 900 Faith Radio an interview with Matthew Barnett, founder of the Dream Center and author of THE CAUSE WITHIN YOU. Matthew Barnett’s life is an excellent example of how he gave up his own dream and by doing so found God’s dream for his life, which is much bigger than his own dream.

Purposeful love –

God’s love is purposeful.

In terms of loving God, it means obeying Him. Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commandments … If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.”

In terms of loving others, it means noticing, discovering, and meeting people’s needs.

Obey God fully and serve others purposefully.

Selfless love –

God’s love is selfless, and that’s in sharp contrast to mere human love.

When God’s love fills our hearts, we begin loving with divine dimensions of love. We become more and more concerned about others – and less and less worried about our own needs.

In our humanness, we can’t be kind to those who are unkind to us. But when we have God’s love in us, He loves people through us. When we love someone unlovable, we show that we are that we are learning the brushstrokes of God’s love.

Unconditional love –

God’s love is unconditional. He loves us without strings.

Sacrificial love –

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Earthly currency vs. heavenly currency

I love listening to KTIS AM 900 Faith Radio. I listen to the station every day wherever I am and whenever I can – in the car or by the desk.

One of my favorite programs is Turning Point by Dr. David Jeremiah, founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church. He offers great messages. And his voice is pleasant to listen to.

Recently he did a series on the signs of life, based on his book with the same title. I liked it even though I only heard a little bit of it on the radio. So I got his book to read.

Here is something from the book that I would like to share.

Dr. David Jeremiah talks about the two currencies – the earthly currency and the heavenly currency in regard to wealth and money.

What we think of as money, the paper currency we all use, is nothing more than a man-made means of exchange. The pieces of paper have no real value, it’s the goods that have value. Money is the currency of this world and is temporal in nature.

The problem comes when we try to use temporal currency (money) as a medium of exchange in the eternal kingdom. As citizens of an eternal kingdom, we need an eternal currency. We use money to do business in the world’s temporal kingdom. It makes sense that we need an eternal currency to do business in an eternal kingdom.

The currencies in the kingdom of God are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They are the fruit of the Holy Spirit. And they come only from God.

To do business in the world, we need money. To do business with God, we need a heart full of love, joy, peace … the fruit of the Holy Spirit. When we confuse currencies and try to purchase love, joy, and peace with money, when we seek eternal things with temporal means, we are bound to be disappointed and dissatisfied.

Money is amoral – neither good nor bad. It is not money that is the root of evil. It is the love of money, as the Bible says.

I like the terms Dr. Jeremiah used – the earthly currency and the heavenly currency. Now I will think of money and the fruit of the Spirit in a new way.

Suzanne’s Online PJ Party

If you have any interesting pajama stories to share or are interested in reading others’ PJ stories, you might want to check out Suzanne’s Online PJ Party.

I receive a daily email from Suzanne’s Book Club that contains a  5-minute excerpt from a book. I don’t actually read that part, but I do enjoy reading Suzanne’s Dear Reader column included in each email.

Recently Suzanne organized an online pj party. The responses from the readers have been overwhelming. I joined the fun and submitted my entry, as I like to share my thoughts with others.

Here is what I wrote:

Suzanne,

I didn’t grow up with pajamas and don’t wear ps now. I read the pj stories your readers shared with interest, and didn’t plan to write. But your last call for submission and the chance to win some cool gifts prompted me to share some thoughts.

I was born in the 1960’s and grew up in poverty in China. It was during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and life was extremely hard, worse than the Great Depression in the U.S. In those days, people mostly made their own clothes. My grandma and mother made everything for us kids, from underwear to winter coat, from hat to shoes. There was not much to buy in the store anyway.

Usually we wore hand me downs and clothes that had been mended again and again. Once a year during the Chinese New Year, we got some new clothes.

Since everything was handmade, we didn’t have many varieties and choices. We could and had to fit everything we had in small storage space. There were no such closets like we see today. We didn’t have pajamas just for use at bed time. We wore the same undergarment underneath during the day and then in bed at night. Everything served multiple purposes.

Nowadays, I can certainly afford buying pajamas, but I don’t need them. Being a green and resourceful person, I just use some old t-shirts in summer and old sweaters in winter if I am cold as my pj. I don’t see any need to buy something just for bedtime when I have plenty of clothes I can use. Who cares if I wear an old t-shirt or a fancy pj?

Some people said they buy a new pj every year. It’s a nice family tradition, but I question the necessity. Is this really necessary?

One thing is for sure, the more we buy, the more cluttered we are. Clutter has become a big issue for many people in our abundant society, We have so much more than we really need in life.

It’s fun reading with friends like you. Thanks for what you do every day.

Blessings, Qin

Books – buy vs. borrow

The idea for this post came from yesterday when I wrote about Borders’ bankruptcy and the reasons why I don’t buy books but borrow books for my own reading.

I know there are plenty of people who love buying their own books instead of borrowing books, though they might not buy books in the brick and mortar bookstore such as Borders any more. They have plenty of choices to buy books that are cheaper or more convenient.

You can buy books online from Amazon or other online retail stores, or buy directory from a publisher or even an author’s website. 

A strong case can be made for both buying and borrowing books. I think it’s just a personal preference.

The following are some reasons why people prefer one over another choice.

Why buying books

  • The feelings of owing something is satisfying and rewarding.
  • The convenience of ordering books online and getting them delivered right to your door is appealing.
  • The convenience of reading your own books whenever and wherever and taking as long as you need to read is important.
  • You own them and can do whatever you want to with them – making notes, highlighting or underlining words/paragraphs, reread them, lending them to friends, donating to charities, spilling on them, trashing them.
  • For currently popular and bestselling books, there is usually a long waiting list at the library. You don’t have to wait to buy and read your own copies.
  • No worry about the due date. No time constraint or deadline on reading and returning books when you own them.
  • No worry about the late fee if books are returned late.
  • No worry about losing books and being charged for them.
  • Build a book collection
  • Support the authors and book industry

Why borrowing books

  • Save money on buying books
  • Save shelf space for keeping books
  • Save time of maintaining a book collection
  • Save the headache of disposing books down the road
  • Visiting a library is a wonderful experience for the young and old and everyone in between.
  • Visiting your local library gives you a chance to meet people and builds community.
  • Borrowing books encourages more reading – While at the library, you will find and check out books you might not otherwise.  
  • Show support for your local library
  • Support recycling – Libraries have the best recycling program.
  • Reduce consumption – The less we buy, the better for the environment.

I think a good compromise or middle ground of buying vs. borrowing books would be to borrow the books you want to read from the library first. If you really like them, then go ahead and buy a copy, or better, buy a used copy online or at the used bookstores for yourself. This way you get some benefits on both sides. And you will not end up with books on your shelf that you regret of buying.

Readers, what do you prefer? Can you think of any additional reasons why you buy or borrow books? Thanks for your feedback.

Sad news for book lovers

Today is Valentine’s Day.

For everyone who loves books, or to be exact, loves book stores, there is a piece of sad news in the media today.

Borders, the third largest bookstore chain in the US, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The rising popularity of e-books and the stiff competition from online retailers like Amazon are some of the causes for the declining annual revenues for Borders.

The news saddened me. At the same time, I also felt a little guilty. Consumers like me also contributed to the dismal revenue performance of bookstores around the country.

You know I have not visited Borders bookstore for years, even though we have one conveniently located on Radio Drive and Tamarack.

I read every day, but I hardly buy any books.

I am a librarian and deal with books on my job. I have plenty of books to read from my own library or from the local public library. If I read or hear about a book that interests me, I can simply get it from the libraries. No need to buy books at all.

Another reason I stay away from buying books is I usually do not read books I own. I have shelves of books I bought but have never got around to read yet.

Why? They are my own books. I can read them “some day” or “any day” when I have time.

Meanwhile, that “some day” or “any day” never comes. I never find time to read them. Instead I always find other interesting books to read. Since they are borrowed from the library, I have to read them and return them under a deadline. My own books just have to keep waiting. I don’t know if I will ever get around to read them.

So for me, there is no point of buying books if I can get them for free and if I don’t use them. It’s just a waste of money to spend $10-20 on a book. That’s why I do not go to Borders and buy books for myself any more.

The truth is I do not buy any new books except Bible study books, but occasionally I buy used books if I see something I like, at used bookstores, thrift stores or garage sales. If a book I like costs only a dollar or less, there is not much to lose even if I buy it and don’t read it. Hopefully my kids will read the books I have accumulated. If not, they can be donated. I don’t feel too much waste since I didn’t spend too much money on them anyway.

I know I am not a good consumer for business. Whether we have a Borders or not, it doesn’t affect me personally, But I do feel sorry and sad for Borders employees who will lose their jobs or customers who love visiting and browsing bookstores.

Poems by Mother Teresa

Today I read a couple of poems written by Mother Teresa, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient. Mother Teresa is such an inspiring person, so are her poems.

Life

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

Do It Anyway

People are often unreasonable,
illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

 

Generational characteristics

In the last few weeks I have been reading “The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation Is Rocking the Workplace” by Lynne Lancaster and David Stillman.

The following are some notes from my reading about the generational characteristics.

Traditionalists (born before 1945)

Major events/influences: Great Depression, WWI and II, Korean War.

  • Loyal
  • Patriotic
  • Disciplined and work ethics
  • Deferred gratification – Waste not, want not
  • One company career
  • Respect for authority
  • Top down approach

Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)

Major events/influences: Cold War, Vietnam, human rights, women’s rights, gay rights, drugs, sex and Rock ‘n Roll, Suburbia, TV.

  • Idealistic
  • Optimistic
  • Competitive
  • Question authority
  • Big brands

Generation X (born 1965-1980)

Major events/influences: Both parents working, home alone, latch-key children, high divorce rate, Sesame street, MTV, Game Boy, PC.

  • Entrepreneurial spirit and creative
  • Self-reliant
  • Work well individually
  • Instant gratification
  • Flexible
  • Skeptic
  • Highly adaptive to change and technology
  • Unimpressed by status
  • Work-life balance
  • Not one job with one company
  • Practical
  • Fun
  • Accepting different lifestyles, roles and cultures
  • Anti-brands

Generation Y / Millennials (Born 1981-2000)

Major events/influences: expanded technology, social media,  diversity, globalization, grow up in a very child-focued, structured and over planned world, single parenting.

  • Close relationship with parents
  • Collaborative and team oriented
  • Globally concerned
  • Environmentally sensitive
  • Realistic
  • Tech-savvy, creative and innovative
  • Multi-tasking
  • Instant communication and feedback
  • Can-do attitude
  • Self-indulgent, entitled
  • Personal fulfillment
  • Diverse and inclusive
  • Used to have a voice and a choice
  • Create your own brand

The Less You Need/Want, the More You Have

Here are a few quotes from the post The Less You Need, the More You Have on the scarcity mentality and the abundance mentality that I really like. After reading this, I have to say, I have a really abundant life. I think I already knew it. But it’s good to be reminded from timt to time.

When I finally realized that the things I actually needed were incredibly minimal, I began to see how amazingly abundant my life was.

Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.

The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production. The also have a a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.

The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flow out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

To me, the biggest difference between the scarcity mentality and the abundance mentality is that the scarcity mentality cares what other people have, while the abundance mentality doesn’t.

The abundance mentality finds value in what one already has, while the scarcity mentality is always seeking more.

Step back and look at your life. Remove just what you need from that picture – water, basic food, a few changes of basic clothing, minimal shelter. Look at all that’s left – all of the possessions, relationships, experiences, thoughts, and other things. That’s an abundance, one that can provide you with more than you can ever explore and enjoy.

Nine Lessons in Wealth-Building from The Millionaire Next Door

The Millionaire Next Door

Years ago I read the book  The Millionaire Next Door: Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy (1996) by marketing professors William Danko and Thomas Stanley. It was during a time period when I read all interesting books I could find in the library on personal finance.

Today I saw a blog post by Robert Brokamp titled “Nine Lessons in Wealth-Building from The Millionaire Next Door” I think it’s worth reviewing the lessons from the book and sharing with readers.

Here is a summary of Robert Brokamp’s post. For the complete article, please click here.

Lesson #1: Income Does Not Equal Wealth

Lesson #2: Work That Budget

Lesson #3: Know Where Your Dough Doth Go

Lesson #4: Know Where You Want Your Dough to Go

Lesson #5: Time Is Money

Lesson #6: Love the Home You’re With

Lesson #7: Love the Spouse You’re With

Lesson #8: Don’t Drive Away Your Wealth

Lesson #9: The Rich Are Different — They’re Happier

The main premise of the book is that people who look rich may not actually be rich; they overspend — often on symbols of wealth — but actually have modest portfolios and, sometimes, big debts. On the other hand, actual millionaires tend to live in middle-income neighborhoods, drive economical cars, wear simple watches, and buy suits off the rack.

Overcharged at the grocery store

Something happened to me today at the Cub Foods that is a good illustration of what I talked about in my previous post It pays to check your bills.

On my way home I went to the Cub Foods at Sun Ray shoping mall to pick up a couple of items. I rarely go there shopping, but since I drove right by today, it was convenient for me to stop by.  

As I walked by the organic section, I noticed that the organic baby carrots were on sale, $3 for 2 bags. So I picked two bags.

After I went through the check-out line, I took a look at my receipt as I uaually do. I noticed that the baby carrots were charged full price at $1.99 each. So I went to the customer service desk to verify the price. The clerk said he would refund the overcharge to me.

I thought Cub Foods and some other grocery stores have the policy that if an item is charged incorrectly, i.e. the price on the receipt does not match the sales price, the customer will get the item for free.

So I asked the clerk about the policy. He wasn’t surprised. I think he already knew it. He refunded me the full price for the two bags of baby carrots instead of just the overcharge.

I know plenty of people don’t bother with checking receipts or using coupons. They don’t care about saving a dollar here or being overcharged a dollar there. It’s not worth for them. But I love saving money, even if it’s just a dollar.

I got two free bags of organic baby carrots by being attentive and asking. It’s a good deal for me.

Kindness returned thousandfold

During one of my recent phone calls to my parents in China to ask about their Chinese New Year happenings, my mother mentioned that she visited a middle school teacher of hers.

My mother is 77 years old. Her teacher is already in her 90s. How many people will  still visit their teachers at that age?

Here is the story my mother told me as why she visits her teacher every year during the Chinese New Year to bring her some gifts and to show her respect and appreciation.

My mother came from a poor family in the country with three brothers and two sisters. My grandfather had a fabric store. It was burned down and they were left penniless. My mother’s little sister was sold at a young age to another family because they couldn’t afford to feed everyone.

One by one they left the country to go to the city for a better life. My mother first lived with a relative as a maid attending their garden and helping with the chores. She never had enough to eat.  Later my grandmother and my mother sold food on the street for a while.

In those old days, girls were considered the second class citizen. She wanted to go to school, but didn’t have a chance.

My grandfather thought only sons needed to go to school. Girls would be married out of the family anyway. Besides their family didn’t have money to send kids to school. So my mother never went to school as a kid.

After the Communist Party came to power in 1949, free public education became available. My mother took the opportunity to go to school part-time, for a couple of hours in the afternoon, against my grandfather’s will.

Mother had to work extra hard to catch up, because she never went to school as a kid. She secretly sold blood to make money and to help her parents support the family.

When the middle school teacher heard about my mother selling blood, she paid a house visit. She thought my mother was a good student and wanted to encourage her to attend more school. There she found out about the financial situation in my mother’s family. She helped my mother get more financial assistance from school, raising her stipendium from 4 RMB to 8 RMB (ca. half a dollar to a dollar) per month.

That was an important moment in my mother’s life. She never forgot the kindness of that teacher.

After my mother finished middle school, she went on to go to a two-year pedagogical college to become a teacher. She chose that kind of college because no expenses for the students were needed. In addition, students got monthly allowance from the school. My mother used the money to support the family.

My mother became a math teacher and taught at a high school in our neighborhood for many years.

To this day, my mother still visits her middle school teacher at least once a year. She said she will remember the kindness from the teacher for the rest of her life.

One simple act of kindness has been returned thousandfold. And it is still reaping reward after so many years and several decades.

Guest post

My post on print book vs. e-book is the guest post #24 on Will Manley’s popular blog Will Unwound for librarians. Librarians are very engaging readers. They always have a lot to say in their comments. 

I got invited to write an article on this topic by the editor of Sentinel Literary Quarterly. This must be an interesting subject for people.

Family Fitness Fest

The first-ever South Washington County Family Fitness Fest took place at East Ridge High School this evening at 6:30-8:30 pm. I wanted to go when I first heard about it in an email I received from school and had it marked on my calendar.

My kids were not as enthusiastic as I was, but I talked them into going together. We also invited one of my son’s friend to go with us.

Shortly after we arrived, I was stopped by one of the event coordinators. She saw me with a bunch of kids and asked me if the reporter for Woodbury Patch, Jolie Mouton, could do a short interview with me on why I came to the event. Being a writer myself, I wanted to fully support what other writers do. So I had a brief conversation with Jolie. I told her I am on the Health & Wellness Committee at work and I am interested in anything related to health and wellness.

When Jolie wanted to take a picture of me and my kids, they run away and didn’t want to participate. So I ended up being by myself in the picture. I am not so excited about that picture.

I didn’t get to the mini yoga session as I wanted to. But I listened to the motivational message by Carrie Tollefson, Olympian runner. 

I really liked the healthy snack – build your own yogurt parfait. We mixed yogurt with several different fruit. Yummy!

As a bonus, my daughter also won a door prize – a gift card.

It was certainly a fun event for us. We were glad we went.

Thanks to all the organizers, volunteers and sponsors. It takes a lot of work to make it happen.

Websites worth bookmarking

In this post I want to share a few websites I bookmarked lately and visited today. I plan to add more from my list of favorites on my computer.

BibleGateway.com is a searchable online Bible in over 100 versions and 35 languages.

The Bible on One Page:

BibleStudyTools.com is the largest free online Bible website for verse search and in-depth studies. The online library includes 39 versions of the Bible, parallel Bible, Bible verses by topic, commentaries, concordances, Bible dictionaries, Biblical encyclopedias, historical Christian and church books, Bible reading plans, etc.

CaringBridge.org is a website that connects people experiencing a significant health challenge to family and friends around the world. It offers a personal and private space to communicate. Authors add health updates and photos to share their story while visitors leave messages of love, hope and compassion to show support in the guestbook.

MealTrain.com helps organize meals for a friend after the birth of a new baby, surgery or illness. It simplifies the process of giving and receiving meals and makes meal scheduling easier.

Dumbing us down – John Taylor Gatto on public education

Friday evening I went to a presentation by John Taylor Gatto at Macalester College.

Gatto’s presentation, sponsored by the Institute of Theological & Interdisciplinary Studies, was thought provoking. So are his books.

John Taylor Gatto was named New York City Teacher of the year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. In 1991, he quit because he no longer wished to “hurt kids to make a living.” He then began a public speaking and writing career.

Gatto is the author of the following books:

In his article “Against School: How public education cripples our kids, and why (2001), Gatto says: “Once you understand the logic behind modern schooling, its tricks and traps are fairly easy to avoid. School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they’ll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology – all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.”

Gatto promotes homeschooling. He thinks compulsory schooling cripples children’s imagination and discourage critical thinking.

Efe Agbamu – Minnesota’s Secondary Principal of the Year

Efe Agbamu, principal of Park High School in Cottage Grove, resident of Oakdale and a fellow church member of Spirit of Life Bible Church in Woodbury, has been awarded the 2011 “Minnesota’s Secondary Principal of the Year,”  an honor given by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals. Agbamu will now compete to become the national secondary principal of the year. That winner will be named in September.

According to the Star Tribune article “Park High School principal wins state award” on January 30, 2011, “The award for middle and high school principals recognized Agbamu for her ability to achieve academic and community goals, for improving teaching and learning and encouraging a positive school environment for staff and students. Agbamu, who has been at the school for four years, instituted an International Baccalaureate (IB) program at the school in 2009. IB programs generally involve more challenging courses and make students internationally competitive.”

Establishing the International Baccalaureate program was Agbamu’s greatest achievement at Park High School. It is a program that is benchmarked against international standards. It is taught around the world.

The Minnesota Department of Education describes the International Baccalaureate education as a “superior education.”

With the IB program, students are taking much more challenging classes. This year, the number of students who take AP and honors classes at Park has almost doubled the number from last year.

For more info about IB at Park High School, click here.

Agbamu is well educated herself and has three degrees – one from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, a doctorate degree from Hamline University and the superintendent’s license from Minnesota State University Mankato.

Agbamu moved to the United States from her native Nigeria in 1992. She is married with three children and lives in Oakdale.

The Year of the Rabbit

Happy Chinese New Year to all who celebrate this special festival!

2011 is the Year of the Rabbit.

In China, today is the first day of the Chinese New Year in the lunar calendar, but here in the U.S., today is still the New Year’s eve, due to the 14 hours of time zone difference (US Central Time).

My daughter was born in the year of the Rabbit 12 years ago. And my son was born in the year of the Tiger 13 years ago. They each have their animal as their middle name – Bunny and Tiger.

Please read the year of Tiger for more info about the Chinese New Year tradition.

The most important things that happen during the CNY are:

  • Having the family reunion dinner (really a feast) on the eve of CNY. People often travel far away to go home for the reunion dinner.
  • Visiting familes, relatives and friends during during the first couple of days of the CNY.
  • Giving  children (usually also young people who are not married yet) lucky money in the red envelops, as a form of blessing.

I called my parents and my brother yesterday and today to see what they were doing and wish them Happy New Year. I wish I could be home with them for the reunion dinner.

Fasting experiment

I wrote about my day of fasting yesterday. Today Celes Chua had an interesting article on the same topic on her Personal Excellence Blog. She is doing “A 3-Day fasting experiment” (Feb. 7-10, 2011)

Here is Celes’ article. Please visit her forum if you want to follow her experiment.

A 3-Day Fasting Experiment (7 Feb – 10 Feb)

by Celes Chua

Fasting Experiment
Image ©

In the past couple of days I’ve been reading up about fasting, specifically water fasting, with much interest. I intend to try a water fasting experiment myself next week and will be updating daily with a journal of my experience.

What’s Water Fasting?

Fasting is the process where you abstain from food and/or water for a set period of time. In water fasting, you don’t get to eat but you are free to drink as much water as you want. A popular form of fasting is juice fasting, where you consume nothing but juices (greens or fruit juice).

Fasting shouldn’t be confused with starving, where one suffers from severe lack of nutrition, vitamins and minerals. During fasting, your body burns your fat reserves (adipose) for energy. The person does not suffer any deficiency of protein, vitamins, minerals or fatty acids. Starving happens when a body has no reserve fat fuels to burn (happens for anyone with body fat from 5-10%) and starts eating into its own muscles and organs for energy instead. Carrington (Physical Culture, 1915) put it well in these words:

“Fasting is a scientific method of ridding the system of diseased tissue, and morbid matter, and is invariably accompanied by beneficial results. Starving is the deprivation of the tissues from nutriment which they require, and is invariably accompanied by disastrous consequences.”

Starving happens when fasting ends. The amount of time one can fast without going into starvation mode depends from individual to individual, such as the fat %, body weight, body condition and so on, but the average person can actually last 40 days just drinking water alone (with proper supervision of course; please do not attempt to do this yourself without doing due research first). According to A. J. Carlson, Professor of Physiology, University of Chicago, he states that a healthy, well-nourished man can live from 50 to 75 days without food, provided he is not exposed to harsh elements or emotional stress. Loren Lockman, the founder of a fasting center, has been supervising people through pasts in the past 10 years from fasts as short as a few days to as long as 10 weeks. If you do a simple search on Youtube for “fasting”, you’ll find vlogs of different people doing 10-day, 25-day and 40-day fasts.

Why Fast?

Why fast? That’s a perfectly valid question. I first heard about fasting when I was young, in primary school. At a certain point in the year, there would be references to people who were fasting. For example, during PE classes, the teachers would exempt certain students from doing sports because they were fasting. Most Malay students would also not eat during recess breaks. I later found out that this was a practice followed by Muslims, whereby they would refrain from eating and drinking (from sunrise to sunset) for one month (Ramadan). This would happen every year.

At that time I never thought much about it. I thought it must be an act that required a lot of discipline and self-control, so I was respectful of those who followed that. I didn’t think I would be able to get through a day, from morning to night, without food. I’d probably die or become nutritionally deprived.

Fast forward to today, and things have changed .

Natural Way To Heal

In the past few days, I’ve been reading up about fasting. I’m quite intrigued to learn about the practice and the many purported benefits of fasting. Apparently, there is a small, but actively growing, interest in fasting as a holistic form of therapy and wellness. I won’t turn this article into a fasting literature, but suffice to say there have been many accounts on how fasting is the natural way for the body to heal. (I’ll include links and resources at the end of this post where you can check out) When left on its own, our body is actually capable of healing itself through many ailments and illnesses. Eating and taking medication interfere with our body’s natural ability to heal. This is why we rarely have appetites when we’re sick, because the body does not want to ingest anything and wants to go through the self-healing process. Check this excerpt by Loren:

…Virtually all symptoms that we experience are evidence that the body is attempting to heal itself. Sinus congestion, fever, swelling, even pain, are created by the body on purpose, and are nothing more than evidence that the body is working to address some problem and restore balance, or homeostasis. When the body is given an opportunity to cleanse and heal, all manner of symptoms may arise, and they often do.

Sometimes, those who don’t understand this will believe that the fast has made them sick. In fact, by ceasing to squander the body’s energy on unnecessary activities (including, temporarily, eating!), much more energy is available to cleanse and heal. The appearance of symptoms simply indicates that these processes have begun. It is always the body that heals itself. Remedies of all kinds generally treat symptoms, not causes, and it is only by eliminating the cause of a problem that we can expect to solve the problem.

Taking a decongestant may relieve the discomfort, but it does nothing to eliminate the actual problem, which was a toxic substance in the body. With its means of elimination paralyzed by the drug, the body is forced to store these toxins, furthering the body’s build-up of them, and eventually creating chronic disease.

If you’ve been eating a Standard American Diet for 20, 30, 40 years or more, your body probably has a lot of stored debris. Additionally, as the body becomes overburdened with the toxins brought in from outside (exogenous) sources from our diet, water, and the environment, it’s also becoming overburdened with toxins created inside the body (endogenous). These endogenous toxins are the waste products of cellular metabolism. When a system is heavily burdened, it’s unable to process and eliminate the cellular wastes quickly enough, and these wastes build up.

These very same toxins are kept in our fat cells, or our adipose tissues. Since we’re constantly eating every day, we provide our bodies with a ready stream of energy (food is converted to glucogen through glycogenolysis), which leaves our bodies with little reason to break down our adipose tissues. Glucose is our body’s immediate preferred fuel. Only by cutting out our glucose source (by not eating or by reducing our caloric intake) will our body turn to our fat reserves for energy (this process is called catabolism). This is when the toxins finally get processed, broken down and released, resulting in a physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthier you.

Immense Benefits of Fasting: Mental Clarity, Increased Creativity, etc

My interest in taking on fasting is multiple-fold. Firstly, I’m very curious about the many benefits I’m reading about fasting and would like to test it out for myself to see if they’re true. I’ve been reading accounts of how people feel heightened levels of mental clarity, significantly increased creative output, inner calmness, a new-found relationship with themselves, supremely vivid dreams, and so on during their fasts. These tend to happy from Day 3 onwards of their fast. One of the big reasons is because since there’s nothing to digest, our body stops diverting energy to our digestive systems and instead directs them to our brain, leading to higher level output (i.e. thinking and creative work).

In particular, I’m quite keen about the whole benefit of “increased creative output” :D. I’ve been experiencing increased bouts of creativity and “flow” with the raw food diet, so I can imagine how much stronger it’d be during a water or juice fast (where the body doesn’t need to digest the food).

Emotional Purging

Secondly, I’m also quite keen about the whole emotional and physical purging process. I can imagine my body has lots of toxins piled up from all the years of eating meat products (before I turned vegetarian), and then all the cooked/fried stuff I ate (before I turned to a raw diet). It’d be nice to do some major cleansing in my system through this fast, kind of like a system reboot.

When I first went on a 21-day raw-food trial back in 2009, I went through a phase in the middle where I had a sudden craving for meat. That was immensely bizarre because I had totally no desire whatsoever to eat meat ever since I switched to a vegetarian diet in Jan ’08! In my mind I was going “What the f* is this about?!” After pushing past it, that craving suddenly disappeared totally and in its place were anger and latent memories of a past experience (which I subsequently processed and would eventually blog about here). This was one of the first times when I realized that many physical sensations  (including hunger, cravings, ailments) are actually unprocessed emotional and mental baggage that manifest themselves on a physical level. Given that food is something that we ingest daily to become part of our body, and that food/eating is commonly advertised as a synonym for happiness/love, it’s not surprising that a lot of our issues get buried in food/eating as well. So I’m really quite curious to see what comes out of experiment this time with fasting, where I’m not going to get to eat at all.

Weight Loss?

Weight loss is obviously something one would experience during a fast since you’re not eating anything. I’m not really looking at this as a benefit to get out of fasting since majority of the accounts I read mentioned that they regained most of the weight after reverting to their regular diet. If I get to keep the weight off that’s nice, otherwise I figure the raw diet is already helping me lose weight (vs. my previous diet) as it is.

Enabling Others To Learn and Grow

The third reason is that I’m always looking to explore new territories of growth and to share them here so others can learn from my experiences. By taking on the fast and publicly sharing them here at TPEB, I can imagine that this will be a helpful resource to those who might be interested to try this for themselves in the future. I know I’ve found Steve Pavlina’s raw food journals helpful in my foray into raw foodism, so I believe that these fasting journals will be helpful for others in time to come.

Building a New Relationship With Food

And fourthly (somewhat related to the 2nd reason), I’m interested to build a new relationship with food. After moving into raw foods, it made me see food in a whole new light and made me realize how much I was using food as an emotional outlet (even more so than I realized). It also made me understand on a whole new level what it really feels to be hungry and require food, vs. when it’s just a desire to eat and fill out an emotion. The answer is that probably 99.9% of the time it’s the latter and not the former. The fact that pretty much all processed foods and cooked foods include sugar, salt and additives in one way or another and they affect our sense of true hunger, which aggravates emotional eating problems.

I read with interest of Frederick (a raw vegan expert)’s 23-day fasting account, where  he lost the physical sensation of hunger after the first 3 days. For the remaining 20 days, he literally stopped feeling hungry for food. I thought that must be a really interesting state to be in – it basically rips apart everything we hear about food and eating today, where we need to have 3 meals a day, that skipping a meal is bad for health, and so on and so forth.

Fasting, not eating food, will probably make me see food in a different light than how I’m seeing it now. The people who’ve undergone fasting talked about how they felt hunger in the first 1-3 days and stopped feeling any physical hunger after that. It also made them realize what true hunger really felt like (hint – it’s not what we’d think it is). Someone who has a true ideal relationship with food and his/her body will eat only when required, stop when body is full, not experience any sudden cravings or desire to eat, and will be in a healthy body weight and fat percentage, because the body has no use for any excess fat whatsoever (unless you live in an extremely cold climate like Antarctica).

My Experiment

I intend to fast for 3 days, starting from next Mon, 9am (7 Feb) to Thu, 9am (10 Feb). I’ll not eat anything in these 3 days and will only drink water. I guess that means eating while I can during Chinese New Year tomorrow and the day after . If everything goes well, I might continue on the fast to 5 days or even 7 days. I don’t intend to go anywhere beyond 7 days, though I’ll see how it goes.

I just posted about my fasting experiment in the forums yesterday and so far a few members have expressed interest in joining in. If you’re interested to participate (even if for a day), feel free to join us in the forums. Even if you’re not, you are still invited to join in the discussions. Note that isn’t meant as a big scale challenge like 30DLBL or 21DHL but a personal experiment that I’m sharing with everyone at the blog. Join in if you want to; otherwise you can just watch if you prefer. Either way I’ll be doing the fasting experiment and sharing it with you guys.

I intend to post about my fasting experience via daily logs at TPEB. During this experiment, I’ll share what I’m going through as transparently as I can, from the pros to the cons. I intend for the journals to be helpful to those who are curious about fasting or who intend to try out fasting themselves in the future.

Safety?

Most reactions surrounding a fasting decision will probably be rooted in fear. I know because I can imagine myself reacting that way if someone tells me that he/she wants to fast.”What? You want to fast? No! It’s dangerous! You’ll die! It’s not good to go hungry!

As I’ve mentioned above, our body has sufficient fat reserves to last us for 40 days, with some even stretching as long as 10 weeks. Our body will not burn muscle as an act of natural preservation. By default, our body follows this set process to get energy:

1) Glycogenolysis (Normal eating – Energy from glucose)-> 2) Catabolism (Fasting – Energy from fat storage) -> 3) Starvation Mode (Starvation – Energy from muscles)

Each pound of fat is 3,500 calories, so that’s quite a lot of calories for the body to burn during the fast before it’ll ever resort to burning from muscles. Only when there are no more fat reserves left (less than 7% or 10% body fat for males and females respectively – Wiki), will the body then turn to burning muscles and organs for energy (which is starvation and highly dangerous – most fasting should end well before this)

I’m well in the acceptable weight range with sufficient body fat that can be burned before I enter starvation mode. Girls tend to have higher fat reserves than guys, though it’s really a case-by-case scenario based on your weight, fat percentage and physical condition.

Of course, I’m also not going to press-on and force myself not to eat if I’m convulsing and suffering some averse bodily reactions or anything like that. I’ll stop if I think something seems amiss. After all, disciplining myself is really not my forte at all!

From what I’ve read, the first 1-3 days are the hardest because that’s when your body adjusts to not getting energy from glucose. After the initial adjustment is done, the physical sensation of hunger disappears. The days beyond should be progressively easy, as long as I keep my activity level light. Since the body is in a fat-burning metabolism (vs. a glucose-burning metabolism), my energy is best conserved for brain work. I might go for light strolls, but otherwise that’s about it.

If you’re interested to join in the fast, do spend some time to read up (I’ve provided resources below) and proceed at your own risk. It goes without saying that fasting is notfor pregnant ladies, thin/extremely thin people who have limited fat reserves, people taking heavy medication, people with severe illnesses and conditions, etc. When in doubt, consult a medical healthcare expert!

Preparation

As preparation for my fast next Monday, I intend to eat minimal fruits and juice over the weekends. This will help me ease into the 3-day fast or however long it’s going to be. As mental preparation, I’ve been trying out a light fast on just oranges and apples today and it’s going well so far.

At the end of the fast, I’ll slowly break out of it by first taking in fruit juices, and later on fruit. Eventually I’ll resume with regular raw meals after 1-2 days. Basically you should consume things that are easiest on your digestive system as it eases back into regular mode. So juices -> fruits -> vegetables -> cooked food -> diary -> meat-based food (if you eat meat).

Some Fasting Resources

If you’re interested to read more about fasting, here are some additional resources:

That’s it for now! If you’ve anything to share in the topic, join us in the forums to continue the discussions!

A day of fasting

Today (Monday, 1/31/11) I joined other members at Spirit of Life Bible Church in Woodbury in a day of prayer and fasting, to pray for our Pastor Frank’s healing and recovery. He was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

My 24 hour fasting started last night and ended tonight. I didn’t eat anything for 24 hours except drinking water.

This was the first time I ever fasted. I felt OK, no fatigue. My stomach didn’t make any noisy protests. Only my head felt a little bit heavy in the late afternoon.

The concept of Biblical fasting refers to the denial of the needs of the flesh in order to enhance our spirit and get closer to God. Fasting allows us to focus on spiritual growth.

Fasting is not only good for the soul, but it is also good for the body and mind.

Fasting gives the body a rest. It allows the digestive system to rest and heal itself. It allows the body to eliminate toxins. Fasting helps to clarfy the mind.

God is the best healer and the greatest physician. He can heal anyone and do miracles. I turst He will heal Pastor Frank.