Secret to longevity: Adaptive Competence

So do you want to live to be a centenarian? What does it take to live a long, healthy life and potentially reach 100? No smoking? Healthy diet? Lots of hard work at the gym? Or perhaps being from one of the “Blue Zones” (longevity hot spots around the world) such as Okinawa Island in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, or Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, is the secret, whatever happens to be the reasons for people’s longevity in those regions.
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A strange encounter with a hawk

It was late afternoon on Sunday Feb. 13, 2011. I was driving to Palo Alto to meet a friend to go to a concert in Stanford University. I was on the beautiful hilly segment of Highway 84 off of 680 heading west. Suddenly I heard a very loud BANG on my side window right near my head. Something sizable slammed into the window and it was so fast that I didn’t see anything. It caught off me guard. For a moment I thought the window broke but it was fine. I slowed down and looked in the rear view mirror and noticed something on the road so I turned around.
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Chilean miners — leadership, inspiration

On August 5th 2010 a “cave-in” accident in the San Jose copper-gold mine near Copiapo, Chile trapped and buried 33 Chilean miners 700 meters or 2,300 ft (almost half a mile) underground below the Atacama desert. On October 13, after 69 days, all 33 miners were safely rescued and brought to surface while reportedly almost a billion people around the globe watched the rescue operation live on TV. It was an inspirational story of survival that deservedly got a worldwide coverage and attention. Boston.com published a series of photos from the rescue operation from various sources that captures some of the sensitive and emotional moments.
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Lighten your life’s baggage

I moved from Orange County (OC) back to the San Francisco Bay Area last month. It was a painful experience with all the back and forth, packing, dealing with the movers and their hidden and unexpected costs, and the unpacking that in my case may never be complete. For a single guy, I just have way too much stuff:

  • Several hundred books, of all genres, many of which I have only partially read or not read at all; text books going all the way back to my undergrad courses. I checked one online and mine is seven editions behind the latest!
  • Hundreds of original CDs with their cases but many mismatched and some damaged.
  • Postcards and letters from friends and ex’s from ions ago. You can tell how old they are as I don’t think people nowadays write love letters any more, let alone hand-written ones.
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US strikes gold in Afghanistan — literally!

It is June 2010. The gigantic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been pouring over 60,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for over two months — a colossal environmental disaster that will impact the ecosystem and the wildlife in the region for many years to come. It is noteworthy that this disaster is brought to you by none other than BP (British Petroleum), a multinational oil corporation that has its hands bloodied (and oily!) with exploitations around the world including Iran, for well over half a century. Please see my article on the 1953 coup in Iran.

The other big global event that has got world’s attention over the last few weeks is of course World Cup 2010 in South Africa, which has plenty of excitement, upsets and drama of its own.
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Unmind, a way to consciousness

MC Escher, 1955

I finally got a good name for this blog — Unmind, and a good domain name to go along with it, unmind.net. In the About page I talk about the history of this blog and its name briefly.

I can think of a few good interpretations for unmind such as unconventional, critical and outside of the box thinking. Or it can be being irrational, illogical and dealing with matters of the heart. But there is another that I want to explore here.

Eckhart Tolle in his famous book “The Power of Now — A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” talks about mind and thinking as the biggest obstacle to consciousness and enlightenment, the voice, the tormentor, “the worst enemy that continuously attacks and punishes [us] and drains us of vital energy.” The false and unconscious identification with mind gives rise to the “phantom self”, “the ego”.
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Love, loss and the life journey

A friend shared the following photo of a Persian calligraphy on Facebook. It reads something like: “This is how life goes: one day you love someone, and the next day you are alone and lonely. That simple.”

A few commented on it admiring it with comments like “love it”, “beautiful”, “sad but true”. Someone however disagreed saying that “The next day you are not alone…you have a mountain of memories, lessons, shared experiences and love still with you, regardless of that person’s physical existence.”
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The little wine country

One of my favorite pastimes from the San Francisco Bay Area was visiting the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country. The landscape especially in Fall and Spring, beautiful vineyards and estates, a wide variety of good wine especially exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, romantic bed & breakfasts (B&Bs), good spas and hot springs in Calistoga, and gourmet food in famous restaurants such as the culinary Institute of America (CIA) Greystone, all add up to memorable getaways.
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Journalist Roxana Saberi’s release from prison in Iran and return to USA

Prison bars
Image by jellevc via Flickr

The Iranian-American journalist, Roxana Saberi who was accused of spying, arrested, and imprisoned in Iran for 100 days, was released and returned to US. According to an article in Huffington Post, she has said, “singing the national anthem helped keep her going…And it may sound corny, but I’m so happy to be home in the land of the free.”

Well, I am sure that being arrested by IRI and spending 100 days in the notorious Evin prison for no good reason was very harsh to say the least. But yes, her statement is quite corny. As an independent Iranian-American journalist working both in USA and Iran, one would expect that she knows better. Or let’s hope that she knows but has forgotten that the mess in Iran for the past 30 years (including her imprisonment) has indirectly been caused by the predatory ways of Uncle Sam, the government of “the land of the free”, in the first place.
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Film: Dan in Real Life

Fall foliage
By fortinbras via Flickr

Love is not a feeling, but an ability, says the young Latino boy in Spanish to the father of the teenage girl he’s dating. Interesting. Insightful. I suppose it makes sense and I know that one has to have the open heart and the capacity to love. But still I hadn’t heard it in so many words so explicitly. Quoting this on Facebook, jokingly I made a comment that how come no one ever told me this before. A friend upon reading my comment on this recommended that I read “Blue Truth”. I plan to do that. 

Now back to the film. I don’t like the idea of falling in love with one’s brother’s girlfriend but I liked this film — a lot. It made me want to have a big family and live in North Easter USA. It made me miss hard pouring rains, family gatherings and Thanksgivings. I laughed and I cried. It is a good romantic comedy. The closing has a couple of great up songs I believe by the Norwegian Sondre Lerche, who also appears performing at the end of the film. 

As for the cast, it’s hard not to like Steve Carell. He’s unpretencious and naturally lightly funny. John Mahoney as always makes a great dad for grown up men. And Julliette Binoche: not as hot as her early days but I pretty much like anything she’s in with a bias. I still think she should stick to noir French-style films and do less of hollywood light-hearted comedies. 

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