Sweet Misery

My daughter likes candies. And that’s a concern and problem for me.

I don’t buy a lot of candies for her, only occasionally for holidays or as a reward. Since candies are her favorite thing, she asks for candies as a reward for good works or achievements.

I try to monitor and control how many candies she eats. So I take her candies away and give her a couple or less than a handful of pieces a week. If I don’t watch over her, she could eat a bag of candies  in two days. 

She still eats more candies than I give her. She gets candies from school or other people. I often find candy wraps here and there.

When it comes to candies, my daughter lacks some self-control. 

I often tell her about the harm candies can do to her health. Her teeth have cavities. Long term affects of eating too much candies can be worse than bad teeth.

I often tell her that she can eat all the fruits she wants every day, without limitation, but candies have to be limited to the minimum. But she is not interested in fruits. She only likes banana. I can have all kinds of fruits on the table, she won’t touch it at all.

Lately I have been doing smoothies and make her eat that, so at least she is getting a little more than just a banana on most days. And that was a great progress for her. For years, she only ate a banana a day, no other fruits.

Yesterday I asked her to watch a documentary film about Aspartame titled Sweet Misery.  Aspartame is in a lot of candies, sodas, yogurts, and snacks.

You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.

I hope someday my daughter will come to her own realization and stop her “candy addiction.” I can’t police her all the time. She has to take the responsibility and have more self-control.  

Other food related films I have watched and would like to watch are Supersize me and Food, Inc.

Breast cancer do’s and don’ts

 My families on both my mother’s side and my father’s side do not have a history of breast cancer. So I am not concerned about it myself.

In fact, I have never done a mammogram in my whole life. Even when I pass the 50 mark in a few years, I do not plan to do it.

However, I often hear about other women having breast cancer. The situation is getting worse.

Recently I read a few articles on breast cancer. If you are interested in the topic, check out the following links. I know there are tons of information out there on the Internet. There is a lot more I can read.  

Do’s and don’ts to prevent breast cancer

Breast Cancer Breakthrough – Cut Your Risk of Death in Half (Also read some comments)

Avoid Routine Mammograms if You are Under 50

NEW Studies Reveal Alarming Hidden Cause of Breast Cancer

The power of social media

Today I attended a presentation at Mn/DOT on social media by Lee Aase, Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. He shared how Mayo Clinic used social media as an effective and inexpensive marketing tool to promote its services, win new patients and stay connected with its customers.

Lee Aase also shared some examples of using social media to garner national attention.

A fun example was about an old couple in their 90’s playing piano at Mayo Clinic. The video posted on Youtube generated 7 million hits. The couple ended up being interviewed on Good Morning America.

Another well known case involved United Airlines breaking Canadian musician David Carroll’s guitar and didn’t take responsibility for it. After several months of going nowhere with United Airlines, David Carroll posted a song titled “United Breaks Guitars” on Youtube which became a hit. So far it has generated 10 million hits. He had posted two more songs – United Breaks Guitars Song 2 and United Breaks Guitars Song 3. United Airlines gave in and offered to compensate him for the damage.

The story was widely covered in news media. I remember reading it. It even has a Wikipedia article.

You can read Lee Aase’s 35 Social Media Theses on the SMUG website. SMUG stands for Social Media University, Global. Aase created it for the purpose of learning and sharing social media. Check it out. You can learn a lot there, without paying a tuition.

Yes, social media tools such as blog, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc. are powerful. Use them to benefit your personal and professional life.

33 simple tips for a good night’s sleep

I feel fortunate that I do not have a sleeping problem. But I know many people do. Some have to depend on sleeping bills to help them fall asleep.

My parents both have insomnia, which is largely caused by their constant worries about me and my brother, about what will happen in the future and what happened in the past, and everything else their minds can think of.

My Mom uses sleeping bills in recent years, but my Dad doesn’t like take medicine, so he toughs it out every night on about 3 hours of sleep. As the result, he often gets tired and weak during the day, especially when it’s hot.

I know my parents are not alone. Insomnia is a common problem among elderly people.

Recently I read the article Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep by Dr. Mercola. I thought it’s good to share.

  1. Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible.
  2. Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F.
  3. Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs).
  4. Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your bed.
  5. Avoid using loud alarm clocks.
  6. Reserve your bed for sleeping.
  7. Consider separate bedrooms.
  8. Get to bed as early as possible.
  9. Don’t change your bedtime.
  10. Establish a bedtime routine.
  11. Don’t drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed.
  12. Go to the bathroom right before bed.
  13. Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed.
  14. Also eat a small piece of fruit.
  15. Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars.
  16. Take a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed.
  17. Wear socks to bed.
  18. Wear an eye mask to block out light.
  19. Put your work away at least one hour before bed (preferably two hours or more).
  20. No TV right before bed.
  21. Listen to relaxation CDs.
  22. Read something spiritual or uplifting.
  23. Journaling.
  24. Reduce or avoid as many drugs as possible.
  25. Avoid caffeine.
  26. Avoid alcohol.
  27. Make certain you are exercising regularly.
  28. Lose excess weight.
  29. Avoid foods you may be sensitive to.
  30. Have your adrenals checked by a good natural medicine clinician.
  31. If you are menopausal or perimenopausal, get checked out by a good natural medicine physician.
  32. Practice Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
  33. Increase your melatonin.

For read the full article, click Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep.

Beginning of my gardening season

Yesterday was a perfect day for me to work in the garden.

No snow, no rain. It was cool and not cold. The soil was not very dry so when I tilled the soil, it didn’t fly all over me.

This year I started my garden work one month later comparing to last year. We had a long and snowy winter this year.

I did the first half of the work on April 11. Then we had unexpected snow again. Yesterday I was able to finish the second half of the work.

My gardening season always starts with tilling the soil and composting in the spring.

Since I started the vegetable garden in the backyard in 2001, I have been doing composting all year around.

During spring, summer and fall (2/3 of the year in Minnesota), I do composting by simply digging a hole in the garden and mixing in food scraps under the ground, or dumping the food scraps in the trench in the middle of the garden and cover it with some soil on the top.

During the winter months (4-5 months) when the ground is frozen, I just leave the food scraps in plastic bags under the deck. I compost them all when the weather gets warmer. 

When spring comes and the ground has thawed, I till the soil and mix under the ground all the food scraps that has been accumulated during the last few months.

Yesterday I asked my son to help me till the soil while I did the compost thing, he helped for only a few minutes and then run away. He said it looked so disgusting.

Not for me, I love doing it. It’s quite magic. I mix in the yucky food scraps and soon it will turn into black soil.

I feel good that I am able to garden organically using soils enriched with my own compost. It also makes me feel good to reduce trash and help protect the environment.

I worked several hours yesterday and on April 11 and got the garden prep work done – soil tilled and food scraps composted. I felt good.

Then I planted some seeds for lettuces, cilantro and a Chinese vegetable.

Hopefully I can harvest something early June.

Spirit Baptism – what, who, why & how?

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post on Water Baptism.

The following summary on Spirit Baptism was  created by Gina Parker for the new members class on foundational Christian beliefs at Spirit of Life Bible Church in Woodbury.

What is it?

Ezekiel 36:27              God’s spirit inside a person

Joel 2:28                      God’s spirit poured out on people

Matthew 3:11              something Jesus baptizes you with

Mark 1:8                      something Jesus baptizes you with

Luke 3:16                     something Jesus baptizes you with

John 1:29-34               something Jesus baptizes you with (33)

John 3:5                       being born of the spirit

John 7:37-39               rivers of living water (38)

                                       something those that believe on Him can receive (39)

John 14:15-21              comforter (16)

                                       spirit of truth that can be in a person (17)

                                        Jesus (18, 20)

John 16:13                    spirit of truth

Acts 2:38                      gift

Acts 10:45                    gift

Romans 8:11                 spirit of God in a person

Galatians 4:1-7             spirit of Christ (6)

Colossians 1:24-27       Christ in a person (27)

I Timothy 4:14              gift

Who is it for?

Joel 2:28                       everyone

John 7:37-39                anyone who is thirsty (37)

                                       those who believe on Christ (39)

Acts 2:38-39                everyone (39)

Why would one want and need it?

John 3:5                        enter into the kingdom of God

John 14:25-27              receive teaching (26)

John 16:12-15              be guided into all truth (13)

Acts 1:8                         receive power

Acts 2:38-39                 it’s promised (39)

Romans 5:1-5                love of God (5)

Romans 8:9-17              be Christ’s (9)

                                         the ability for your mortal body to be quickened (11)

                                        adopted by God as His son (15)

                                        children of God (16)

                                        heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (17)

Romans 14:17               righteousness, peace, joy

I Corinthians 12:1-11     spiritual gifts     3 categories:     1)  power to “know” supernaturally

                                                                                                      – “word of wisdom”

                                                                                                      – “word of knowledge”

                                                                                                      – discerning of spirits

                                                                                                 2)  power to “act” supernaturally

                                                                                                       – faith

                                                                                                       – working of miracles

                                                                                                       – gifts of healing

                                                                                          3)  power to “speak” supernaturally

                                                                                          – prophecy (forthtelling and foretelling)

                                                                                           – diverse kinds of tongues

                                                                                            – interpretation of tongues

How does one receive this gift?

Isaiah 28:11                  foretold that people would speak in tongues

Acts 2:1-4                     spoke with other tongues (4)

Acts 8:9-25*                after they received the Word of God (14)

                                      when they had Peter and John pray for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost (15)

                                      after they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (16)

                                      with the laying on of hands (17)

Acts 10:44-46            after they hear the Word (44)

                                     spoke with tongues (46)

Acts 19:1-7                  after they believe (2)

                                      after they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (5)

                                     with the laying on of hands (6)

                                      spoke with tongues (6)

What is “speaking in tongues?” (Definition:  speaking in a language not naturally acquired)

*It does not explicitly say they spoke in tongues here when they received the Holy Spirit, but if you look closely at the story, it makes a strong argument for the case that something outward happens when people receive the Holy Spirit.  What did Simon see?  What happened when people received the Holy Spirit that Simon wanted to buy because he called it “powerful?”

Why do people speak in tongues after they receive the Holy Spirit?

I Corinthians 14:2          speak to God supernaturally

I Corinthians 14:4          self-edification

I Corinthians 14:14        so your spirit can pray

I Corinthians 14:22        sign to unbelievers

I Corinthians 14:26        to strengthen the church

Water Baptism – what, when, why & how?

Spirit of Life Bible Church in Woodbury offers new members a class on fundational Christian beliefs. I have attended one of those class in the past. 

Church member Gina Parker teaches two sessions of the class, one on water baptism and one on spirit baptism. She has done a lot of study on those subjects and did a great job with her presentation and handouts.

She has generously allowed me to post the summaries she created for the class here to share with anyone interested. Thanks Gina for sharing your knowledge with others.

Hope you will find them helpful.

I will post the summary on water baptism today and the summary on spirit baptism tomorrow.


Where did the water baptism concept come from?


What is water baptism?

Command of Jesus (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16)
Remission of sins (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16
Command of Paul (Acts 10:47-48)
Washing away sins (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Revelation 1:5)
Identify with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4)
Put on Christ (Galatians 3:27)
Rebirth (a part of salvation) (Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:20-21)
Answer of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:20-21)
Circumcision of the heart (Colossians 2:11-12)

When should someone be baptized in water?
When they’re a…

Disciple (follower) of Christ (Matthew 28:19)
Believer (Mark 16:16, Acts 8:12, Acts 8:37-38, Acts 18:8)
Repentant person (Acts 2:38)
Receiver of the word (Acts 2:41)

Why would someone want and need to be baptized in water?

Obey Jesus (Matthew 28:19)
Salvation (Mark 16:16)
Enter into the Kingdom of God (John 3:5)
Remission of sins (Acts 2:38)
Wash away sins (Acts 22:14-16)
Walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-4)
Put on Christ (Galatians 3:27)
Rebirth (Titus 3:5)
Answer/response of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:20-21)

How is baptism in water done?
Baptize = immerse

Where there is much water (John 3:23)
Go down into the water (Acts 8:38)
Come up out of the water (Acts 8:39)
Buried with Christ (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12)
In the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:16, Acts 10:48, Acts 19:5, Colossians 3:17)

Gitmomer on trust

In the last few days I have been reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Teal Book of Trust: How to Earn It, Grow It, and Keep It to Become a Trusted Advisor in Sales, Business and Life. I like the following quotes from the book.

Without trust there is low morale

Without trust there is low productivity

Without trust there is poor service

Without trust there is strict policy

Without trust there is high turnover 

Without trust rumors are rampant

Without trust there is no open communication

Without trust there is doubt and disappointment

Trust is not a request. Trust is earned

Trust is not spoken. Trust is a feeling

You don’t get respect, you earn it.

Breaking Free with Beth Moore


On January 29, the Women’s Ministry at Spirit of Life Bible Church in Woodbury started an 11-week Bible study based on Beth Moore‘s popular Bible study Breaking Free: The Journey, The Stories.

Last Saturday, we completed the Bible study. I never missed a single session.

When I found out that my daughter’s MMTA piano exam fell on Saturday morning during my last Bible study session, I asked the piano teacher to reschedule the exam time. I ended up having to pay a rescheduling fee. I just didn’t want to miss my study.

Beth Moore is a very gifted Bible teacher. About a year ago I did my first Beth Moore Bible study “Living beyond yourself: exploring the fruit of the spirit.” and I really enjoyed both Bible studies with Beth Moore.

Beth Moore leads participants “through a study of the Scriptures to discover the transforming power of freedom in Jesus Christ. Themes for this study come from Isaiah, a book about the captivity of God’s children, the faithfulness of God, and the road to freedom.”

Below are some notes from the book to refresh my own memory and to share with others interested.

What leads to captivity and keep us in captivity? What hinders us to live a life in freedom? 

  • Unbelief
  • Pride – Pride puts ourselves at the center of our universe.
  • Idolatry – Anything we try to put in a place where God belongs is an idol.
  • Prayerlessness
  • Legalism – Legalism happens when regulations replace relationship, microscopes replace mirrors, performance replaces passion.

 5 primary benefits of a relationship with God

  • To know God and believe Him
  • To glorify God
  • To find satisfaction in God
  • To experience God’s peace – Peace is the fruit of an obedient and prayerful life.
  • To enjoy God’s presence

5 step process from captivity to freedom

  • Recognize the captor, the lies
  • Stand in agreement with God
  • Tear down the lies
  • Put up the truth
  • Take thoughts captive

Lie or lay?

There are some words in the English language that are confusing not only to non-native speakers like me, but also to many native speakers. 

An example I mentioned in a previous post is about i.e. and e.g

Today I did some research and reading on lie and lay. I would like to share what I read and learned. 

1. Understand the definition –  

Lay means to put something [or someone] down. Lay is a transitive verb and requires a direct object

Lie means to rest or recline. Lie is an intransitive verb, so no direct object will follow. 

2. Know the correct verb form –  

The following table is helpful in choosing the correct verb form: 

Infinitive Definition Simple Present Simple Past Past Participle Present Participle
to lay to put something down lay(s) laid laid laying
to lie to rest or recline lie(s) lay lain lying

What makes things more confusing and complicated is that “Lie” also has a different meaning – A false statement deliberately presented as being true. In this case “lie” also has different verb forms – to lie, lies, lied, lied, lying.

If I can remember these two important points, I will no longer be confused and should be able to use lie and lay correctly.

3. Examples –


Present tense: I lie down on my bed to rest my weary bones.
Past tense: Yesterday, I lay there thinking about what I had to do during the day.
Past participle: But I remembered that I had lain there all morning one day last week.


Present tense: As I walk past, I lay the tools on the workbench.
Past tense: As I walked past, I laid the tools on the workbench. 
Past participle: . . . I had laid the tools on the workbench.

After I “lay” something down, it’s just “lying” there. It’s not doing anything to anyone or anything. 

For more information, visit the following websites: 

Today is the day –

that many people dread – the last day to file tax returns.

Like many procrastinators, I waited till the last day to finally finish everything.

After I dropped off my tax return in the mail box, I felt relieved. like a burden was lifted from my shoulder.

As I talked about in the previous posts A burden lifted – procrastination and procrastination, I know in my rational mind that it’s better not to procrastinate and do it early, but I couldn’t make myself motivated to act. I don’t enjoy doing it. Lack of desire is one of the main reasons that people procrastinate.

Many people have accountants do their taxes. I have always done taxes myself except once. I hired an accountant to do my tax many years ago. I didn’t think he did a good job, so I never hired anyone else again and have done it myself since. I like to take financial matters into my own hand and know how and what to do.   

Today I was reading my Sunday newspapers. There was an article by Kara McGuire: Plan now for fewer tax-time tears in Star Tribune (4/17/2011). I agree with her, filing taxes is much easier if you don’t wait to get organized. I do some of the things she recommended.

The most simple and helpful tip is to keep a folder where you save all tax related documents accumulated over the year. When tax time arrives, you don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for those documents.

I am glad the deadline is behind me now.

Volunteering at library book sale

Since 2006, I have been volunteering at the annual book sale of Wasnington County Library, R. H. Stafford Branch Library in Woodbury.

In a Woodbury Bulletin column dated April 4, 2007, I talked about becoming a volunteer and volunteering for the library book sale. I have enjoyed doing it every year with my two children.

Today was the last day of the 2011 Big Book Sales at the  R. H. Stafford Branch Library in Woodbury. I went with my kids again.

As a tradition, there was the bag sale on the last day of the sale that started on Friday. For $4 a bag, you can buy as many items as they can fit in the bag. It was a good deal. So we had a good turnout.

My job at the book sale was really easy. I was the cashier. I didn’t even have to count and charge by the items, just buy the bags.   

When my shift was over, I took time to browse and pick some books I like. I went home with free books for me and my kids.

Like I said in my column, “I went home not only with a good feeling in my heart, but also with some good books in my hand. I also felt I got more back than I gave of my time and effort.”

I definitely got a lot more back than I gave.

By the way, I was so focused on the event today, I totally forgot my daughter’s piano lesson. I got a call from the piano teacher and asked me where I was. I had to leave quickly. Luckily, we were done picking books and was about to leave. I just couldn’t believe I forgot it. This never happened before.

The incident just shows a book lover can easily get lost in books and forgets everything else.

Simple diabetes risk measurement

My mother has diabetes. She was diagnosed over 10 years ago after she suffered a minor stroke. 

Several relatives on my mother’s side of family had diabestes and/or heart disease. One of my mother’s aunts died during a small surgery not knowing before the surgery that she had diabetes. My grandfather was quite big in size and very likely had diabetes, but we never know for sure because he didn’t like to go to hospital or take medication. I have uncle and cousin who went through bypass surgeries.

So with that family history, I know I am at risk of  having diabetes. But I also know that the deciding factor of my health is not my genetics and my family medical history, but my own lifestyle. I am not helpless and at the mercy of my genetics and family history. I can take responsibility and change the course of my life.

I try to eat healthy and live healthy. Every time I had my routine physical exam, my results are normal.

Today I read a simple tip on how to measure your diabetes risk by Dr. Mercola. For the full article, click here.

Many of you may not realize this, but one of the most powerful tools available to determine your risk of diabetes is a simple tape measure. Your total body fat and overall level of fitness are not the best indicators of insulin sensitivity, your waist size is. Studies clearly show that measuring your waist size is one of the best ways to predict your risk for diabetes.

Determining your waist size is easy. With a tape measure, figure the distance around the smallest area of your abdomen below your rib cage, above your belly button.

If you’re male, these guidelines apply:

  • Ideal waist measurement: between 31 and 36 inches
  • Overweight: between 36 and 40 inches
  • Obese: over 40 inches

For women:

  • Ideal waist measurement: between 28 and 33 inches
  • Overweight: between 33 and 37 inches
  • Obese: over 37 inches 

This is simple enough for me and for everyone to do. I took out a tape measure and measured my waist. It falls within the ideal range for women. So far so good. 

I will work on keeping my waist stay within the ideal range.


Learning about Autism

I don’t have anyone in my family or know anyone in my circle of friends who has Autism, so I had not paid attention to it.

Yesterday Mn/DOT offered a brown bag presentation about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Mn/DOT’s Affirmative Action Office partnered with the Autism Society of Minnesota to raise awareness of ASD and to educate people about working with ASD. 

I went to the session, presented by Sherrie Kenny, CEO/Executive Director of Autism Society of Minnesota, and Larry Moody, a retired engineer with ASD. I found the presentation very informative and interesting. I learned a lot.

I was glad I had the opportunity to learn about ASD. As more and more kids are diagnosed with ASD and more families are affected by ASD, it’s good to be informed and educated about it so we can better recognize, deal with and help people who have ASD.  

April is National Autism Awareness Month. 

Be sure to visit Autism Society of Minnesota. Get in touch with them if you need help with your family or if you are looking for educational resources for your organizations. There is also a lot of information out there on the Internet. 

Be informed, prepared and involved. You never know when ASD will hit someone you know.

Below is a handout from the presentation provided by Autism Society of Minnesota.

Autism is a puzzling neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to:

  • Communicate
  • Socially interact
  • Learn in a conventional manner

 Social Interactions:

  • Difficulty reading nonverbal cues
  • Less likely to look at other people’s faces
  • Difficulty initiating and maintaining interaction
  • Difficulty maintaining joint attention
  • Difficulty repairing social breakdowns


Difficulty with Communication:


  • Delay in development of speech
  • Lack of functional speech
  • Echolalia
  • Unusual rhythm, pitch, or other voice qualities
  • Limited functions of language
  • Poor ability to initiate and maintain conversation
  • Difficulty with gestures
  • Difficulty with pretense or speculation
  • Concrete or idiosyncratic language
  • Lack or inappropriate emotional expression

 Resistance to change:

  • Insistence on specific routines
  • Everything in its place
  • Difficulty coping with uncertainty
  • Unwillingness to engage in others interest or activities
  • Unusual knowledge about a limited topic
  •  Sensory Processing Abnormalities 

Selected resources: 

  • Developing Talents by Dr. Temple Grandin
  • The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships by Dr. Temple Grandin
  • Business for Aspies by Ashley Stanford
  • Asperger Syndrome and Employmen: What People with Asperger Syndrome Really, Really Want by Sarah Hendrickx
  • Asperger Syndrome and Employment: Adults Speak Out about Asperger Syndrome by Genevieve Edmonds
  • Asperger Syndrome and Employment: A Personal Guide to Succeeding at Work – DVD by Nick Dubin
  • Asperger’s on the Job by Rudy Simone
  • How to Find Work that Works for People with Asperger Syndrome by Gail Hawkins
  • Job Success for Persons with Developmental Disabilities by David Wiegan
  • Managing with Asperger Syndrome by Malcolm Johnson
  • Temple Grandin, HBO movie
  • The Way I See It by Dr. Temple Grandin

MN Arts Count

MNArtsCount logo

Since I received the following information from two separate sources in my email today, I thought it’s important enough to pass it on and share with others.

The Minnesota State Arts Board is conducting a census in order to find out how many Minnesotans are involved in the arts! All individuals and organizations that engage in, support, or facilitate creative expression in Minnesota are invited to BE COUNTED!

Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey. The survey should take no more than three to five minutes to complete.  

Make sure you are counted! And also pass it on to your fellow musicians, writers, artists, etc.  

For more information, keep reading the following, or Click Here.     

What is the MN Arts Count?

 The MN Arts Count is a census for individuals who engage in creative expression and for businesses, facilities, and organizations that promote and support creative expression. 

From backyard painters to professional musicians—and everyone in between—all Minnesota artists need to be counted. 

As part of dedicating funding to the arts from Minnesota’s Legacy Amendment, the state legislature has called for the Minnesota State Arts Board to conduct a census of artists and artistic organizations. 

Who should participate in the MN Arts Count?

Individuals: Anyone who, professionally or personally, likes to sing, act, dance, write, draw, paint, sculpt, illustrate, photograph, film, knit, weave, direct, play an instrument, compose, share stories, design, or any other form of creative expression. 

Organizations: Any business, facility, agency, or organization that promotes or supports creative expression. 

Why should I participate?

 For the arts to count for something in Minnesota, we need to count the individuals and businesses, agencies, and organizations who participate in and support all forms of creative expression. 

By particpating in the MN Arts Count, individuals and organizations can help demonstrate the many ways Minnesotans participate in the arts and the importance of supporting the arts. 

How can I participate?

It’s easy! On-line: go to MNArtsCount.com and complete the census

The MN Arts Count survey will conclude April 30, 2011. 

Act today. If you are lucky, you might win a a gift card.


Eyeballs Out – book interview

I recently interviewed Rebecca Fabunmi, Mn/DOT Special Assistant to Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. We talked about the 11th book in the Commissioner’s Reading Corner Book of the Month series, Eyeballs Out: How To Step Into Another World, Discover New Ideas, and Make Your Business Thrive by Donna Sturgess.

Tang: Why did you pick this book?

Fabunmi: I wanted to select a book that is relatively new. Initially I was interested in a book on social media and leadership, but it has not been published yet. Then I looked at several choices in the bookstore and decided on this one because I was intrigued by the book’s title and table of contents. In addition, we are under a very tight schedule for the next CRC book discussion, so I wanted a book that is short, easy read. This one stood out for me.   

Tang: What is the book about?

Fabunmi: The author Donna Sturgess, a business leader and senior marketer, shared her experience aboard the state-of-the-art US aircraft carrier – the USS John C. Stennis out in the Pacific and the new insights she discovered from that immersion experience. The book is about harnessing the power of immersion experiences to stimulate new ideas and innovation, and to make your business thrive.

Tang: What do you like about this book?

Fabunmi: I really enjoyed reading the book myself. It’s small and easy to read. I don’t have any family background in military, so reading about the military life on the USS Stennis as it relates to a thriving business was fascinating for me. I like the way the author weaves the different concepts into her story. The concepts such as sacrifice, pride, recognition, excellence, faith, fun at work are not new, however, when you put them in the context in a story, they become alive.

Tang: What are some ideas from the book that you would like to try if you have the power to do so? 

Fabunmi: Some of the ideas from the book are really interesting for the workplace of choice initiative I am working with others on.

In chapter 4 on faith at work, the author talks about building a more compassionate culture and a better kind of business through military and corporate chaplains and other spiritual advisors. It’s important to capture the heart, mind and soul of employees and care for the whole person – physical and mental health as well as social and spiritual health.

In chapter 6 on badge power, the author talks about the power of a badge that comes from its ability to unite people and influence behavior. A public badge system can inspire individuals and companies to participate in a cause by making their dedication and sacrifice visible, and to honor them publicly. 

In chapter 7 on happy moments, the author talks about small moments of pleasure, laughter and humor that can reduce stress and anxiety. They can also help forge the bond between people, connect people personally, and strengthen good teamwork in the workplace.

The USS Stennis had a “Fun Boss” who wore a T-shirt that read in large, bold letters across the chest “FUN BOSS.” His role is to create innovative recreation activities while at sea and on shore. I like the idea of having a “Fun Boss” in every organization.

My favorite is creating a virtual game specific to ones organization for real time strategic planning, risk management and optimal decisions.

Tang:  The author talks about immersion experiences or spectacular moments that can bring out new ideas through immersion in an unfamiliar world of new sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. Have you had any immersion experiences in your work or personal life that brought fresh insights, new ideas, and amazing revelations to you that you would like to share?

Fabunmi: When I was about 16, I walked on the side a cliff with a 16-inch path at least twenty feet above jagged rocks to get to a special beach. I was also carrying something very precious in my arm. It was very scary, but I wanted to do it and I did. In my early twenties, I travelled to Cuba legally as a student with a group of people I barely knew and had a wonderful time. Last year, I went to Germany with a group of students as part of my MBA study, we had difficulties getting back to the US because of the airport closure due to volcanic ash. In every of those immersion experiences which where intense, I was fully engaged and totally focused physically and mentally. They opened up a new world for me. I learned something new about myself, other people and other places.  

Tang: Please share some quotes from the book that are very meaningful for you.

Fabunmi: I have quite a few quotes to share. Here are just some of them:

“You have to be curious enough and passionate enough and brave enough to make the time and effort to pursue big ideas.” — p. 4

“Pride typically has more motivational power than money does … pride serves as an incentive to persevere with a task despite initial setbacks… Companies all over the world can instill this kind of pride in their people by linking to a cause for the greater good.” — p. 37-39

“For some companies, managing the whole person is seen as a way to build a more compassionate culture and a better kind of business.” — p. 44

“… embrace strategy as an interactive activity rather than an annual planning one.” — p. 89

“The secret to discovery is to never believe existing facts.” — p. 91

“Fully immersing yourself in an experience illuminates new ideas.” — p. 96

“…employees at all levels must be responsible for excellence in their own performance.” — p. 120

“Human energy is the most important resource in business today… The maximum energy level of 100 percent is achieved when everyone in the organization is fully engaged” — p. 124-125

Tang: You are part of the CRC team from the beginning. You are the go to person who holds everything together. Looking back and forward, do you have any thoughts to share?

Fabunmi: I have loved working with everyone on this project. It is a great example of collaboration between various offices – library, communication and technology. We got a great team working together. 

5 ingredients to avoid

When I do grocery shopping, I mostly stay in the produce area and buy fresh vegetables and fruit. I don’t buy much processed food. If I do buy processed food, I try to read the labels and avoid certain unhealthy ingredients.

There are two principles to keep in mind when reading food labels. 

The shorter the list of ingredients, the better.

An easy example is buying peanut butter. Some brands have 2-3 ingredients, but most have a lot more ingredients on the label. Choose the one with the short list.

The more recognizable the ingredients are and the easier you can pronounce the ingredient, the better. 

If you don’t recognize something, if you feel like you need a science degree to pronounce it properly, there is a good chance the ingredient is a man-made chemical. 

If I do buy processed food (anything packaged), I try to avoid those products that contain the following ingredients. They are some of the most unhealthy of all ingredients.

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  • Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans-fats)
  • Artificial Colors
  • Artificial Flavorings
  • Artificial Sweeteners (such as Aspartame)

Today I read this article by Dr. Mercola on Aspartame. I recommend everyone to read the article and also read some of the hundreds of comments.

“Heroes of MnDOT” honored at the State Capitol

Today MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton honored seven individuals, MnDOT’s Critical Incident Stress Management team and all 1,800 MnDOT Snow Fighters at the award ceremony of “Heroes of MnDOT,” held at the State Capitol Rotunda at 10 AM.

“The purpose of this inaugural program is to acknowledge employees who acted courageously or provided meritorious service in response to extraordinary or dangerous circumstances. I believe it is important to have such a program to recognize when our employees carry out these extraordinary acts and pause to honor their fortitude and commitment.”

2011 Heroes of Mn/DOT include:

Donald MachacekFor his selfless and quick action that saved the lives of a mother and her two children in July of 2010.

Thomas Shields – For his selfless and quick action that saved the life of an infant in December of 2006.

Julie TodoraFor her quick response that saved the life of a heart attack victim in December of 2010.

Judy Jacobs – For her extraordinary support of the City of Wadena following the June 2010 tornado.

Kristine Hernandez and Jessica WiensFor their extraordinary support of Wabasha County during the September 2010 flood relief effort.

Jolyn CrumFor her selfless and quick action that saved the life of a Mn/DOT co-worker in January of 2011.

Critical Incident Stress Management Team(DeLorah Curry, Desiree Doud, Garland Jackson , Tony Kilpela, Jason Penaz, Brad Powers, Bob Wryk, Larry Quade) – For their extraordinary support of MnDOT employees and staff during critical incidents.

Snow FightersFor their extraordinary service during the snow and ice season of 2010-2011 and for keeping the citizens of Minnesota safe.

Since Sorel became the MnDOT Commissioner in April 2008, he has proved himself as a great leader. In my eyes, he is small in stature, yet giant in character, wisdom and leadership.

Sorel has done great work at MnDOT to improve morale, team work, commitment, trust and transparency. He advocated continuously for servant leadership.

When Mark Dayton became the new governor of Minnesota, Tom Sorel was the first commissioner to be reappointed in the new administration. MnDOT employees were happy to keep him as their commissioner.

“Heroes of MnDOT” is another program Sorel initiated to show his recognition and appreciation for employees who go above and beyond their duties.

 “It always will be my honor to pay them tribute,” Sorel said.

“All Things New” Easter Special

Tonight I went to the North Heights Lutheran Church in Arden Hills with my daughter and other friends to watch the 2011 Easter show “All Things New” about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.   

It was quite a big production for a church, featuring a cast and crew of over 300 people, live animals and a flying angel.

I was very impressed by the scale of the production, and by the talents and dedication of the people involved. They are volunteers and not professional actors, but they have done a great job.  

Everything went smoothly. There were even volunteers directing traffic in the parking lot.

The show will continue on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays till April 23.

What kind of sleeper are you?

Normal sleeper, deprived sleeper or short sleeper?

In an interesting Wall Street Journal article (WSJ 4/5/2011) – “The Sleepless Elite: Why Some People Can Run on Little Sleep and Get So Much Done” by Health Journal columnist Melinda Beck – the author talks about the different sleepers and explains why for a small number of people getting a full night of sleep is a waste of time and the reasons behind it.

Normal Sleeper – Most adults have normal sleep needs, functioning best with 7 to 9 hours of sleep, and about two-thirds of Americans regularly get it. Children fare better with 8 to 12 hours, and elderly people may need only 6 to 7.

Deprived Sleeper/Wannabe Short Sleeper – One-third of Americans are sleep-deprived, regularly getting less than 7 hours a night, which puts them at higher risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and other health problems.

Short Sleeper – Short sleepers, about 1% to 3% of the population, function well on less than 6 hours of sleep without being tired during the day. They tend to be unusually energetic and outgoing. Geneticists who spotted a gene variation in short sleepers were able to replicate it in mice—which needed less sleep than usual, too.

I would agree with the research findings. Short sleepers are energetic, outgoing, optimistic, very upbeat and ambitious. They are usually high achievers, because they do have more time in the day to do things and keep finding more interesting things to do than sleep. They’re thinner than average (I am sure they eat healthier than the average), even though sleep deprivation usually raises the risk of obesity. They also seem to have a high tolerance for physical pain and psychological setbacks.

Some examples of short sleepers are Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Leonardo da Vinci. They were too busy to sleep much.

According to the research in the article, out of every 100 people who believe they only need five or six hours of sleep a night, only about five people really do. The rest end up chronically sleep deprived.

One-third of U.S. adults get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night.

The article didn’t mention anything about diet. I think your diet also affects your sleep. If you eat light and healthy, you need less sleep. If you eat heavy and junky food, you are more easily get tired and need more sleep.

People who go on a vegan diet or do fasting often report that they need less sleep afterwards and feel more energetic.

I agree sleeping longer than 8 hours for adults is a waste of time. But some people may be wired differently and need more sleep than the average population.

My kids are normal or maybe “long sleepers.” On weekends, they can sleep past 9 or 10 o’clock if allowed. I can get inpatient if they don’t get up by 9 am. It does feel like a waste of time for me to sleep the morning away. 

I thought I am a short sleeper. I am a night owl and a not-so-natural early bird. I don’t go to bed until after midnight, sometimes well past midnight. I don’t take naps or load up on caffeine to get me through the day. I rarely get tired on 6 hours of sleep.

But after reading the article, I have to say I am not a natural short sleeper, for two reasons. On weekends, I tend to sleep a little longer since I don’t use an alarm clock to get me up. And on weekdays, I need an alarm to wake me up in the morning.

If I could put things into numbers and categories, I guess I am a 80% short sleeper and 20% deprived sleeper, that’s my own rough estimation :-)

Are you a short sleeper?

To find out if you are a natural short sleeper, ask this question that is more revealing than anything else: When you do have a chance to sleep longer, on weekends or vacation, do you still sleep only five or six hours a night?

And I would add another question: Do you need an alarm to wake you up every day?

What I wish every city would have

A coworker of mine living in St. Paul often sends her son to low cost or no cost camps in St. Paul when there is no school. A friend of mine who is a teacher in St. Paul public school told me that families with school age kids have a lot more such opportunities in St. Paul than we have in Woodbury. 

Now St. Paul has a new website called Sprockets. It is a one-stop shop and a network dedicated to the after-school and summer programs for kids and teens in Saint Paul. It’s a collaboration of community organizations, the City of Saint Paul and Saint Paul Public Schools.

I wish every city would have something like this. It would make parents very happy and make their job of finding after-school, out-of-school and summer programs so much easier. 

There is one summer camp – Eagle Summer Camp– in St. Paul that even Woodbury students in grades 5-8 can attend. 

Here is more info about the Eagle Summer Camp. It’s a very popular summer camp and fills up quickly. If you are interested, register early.

The Eagles Summer Camp is being held the week of Monday, July 25th through Friday, July 29th.  Hours are from 8am to 3pm.  The camp is funded by 3M in partnership with the Roseville Area School, South Washington County Schools, and the Saint Paul Public Schools; priority in registration is given to students from these districts through April.  Transportation to and from the camp is provided to students from these three districts with funding from the state through its Equity and Integration Program funds.

A published poet

[I am writing this post at midnight on April, 1. This is not a April Fool’s joke :-)]

Today my son received his copy of “A Celebration of Poets” (Fall 2010), published by Creative Communication. He had his first poem published in that collection.

When I said to my son: “Andy, you are a published poet now.” He didn’t seem to be as excited and proud as I was. 

Last September my son and daughter each entered a poem to the poetry contest by Creative Communication. To my surprise my son’s poem was accepted for publication, but not my daughter’s poem. I thought my daughter’s poem is a great one. 

Later I found out why. The reason of rejection was she used the word suicide in her poem. There are certain words they don’t want to have in all the poems they accept, suicide being one of them. It doesn’t matter that my daughter used the word in a funny way.

I was disappointed as well as my daughter, but I could understand the reason behind. I thought the editor was very responsible and responsive.

Here are my son’s published poem and my daughter’s unpublished poem, well both are published here now :-)  to kick off the “April is National Poetry Month!”


 by Andy, 12
Green is grass, plants and trees
Green is the taste of mints
Green smells like parsleys and limes
Green is the sound of breeziness and quietness
Green is calm, bright and energetic 
Green is money
Green is growing and prospering
Green makes me feel happy
Green is the nature outside
Green is everywhere …

The opposite

by Amy, 11
I am Sally Sue, and I will do
The exact opposite of what you tell me to.
If you say sit, I will stand.
Tell me orchestra, I will join band.
If anyone tells me to go to bed,
I will be lying there wide awake instead.
Tell me to walk, and I will run.
Give me chores, I will have some fun.
If anyone tells me to flee,
Standing right there I will be.
Because I do the exact opposite as you can see.
If you get sick of me, tell me to live.
And I will die, just by committing suicide.
Time to write some more poems.
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Sidewalk Poetry Contest

If you have ever walked in St. Paul, you might have seen sidewalks paved with poetry.

I saw them and walked on them. I thought it was a very cool idea.

If you are interested in writing everyday poems for city sidewalk, you can enter the 2011  Sidewalk Poetry Contest for a chance to win one of the five prizes of $150 and citywide honor! Winning poems will be permanently published in city sidewalks.

Sorry you have to be a St. Paul resident to be eligible. I wish we could have this in Woodbury too.

Even though Woodbury residents can’t enter the contest, we can still write poems.

Yes, there is a poet in each of us.