Why speaking your mind? 3 - Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh Testimony

We may have a newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice later today.

It's an important position that would undoubtedly affect our country's future direction in many ways.

Getting information directly or as close to the source as possible with least amount of manipulation/filter is important to me, especially for things with this magnitude of importance. So, I watched the FULL testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

I watched and paid attention to what and how they said.

I believe Dr. Ford was speaking her truth. As much as she could remember for the trauma she experienced as a teenager, that she tried to bury, forget and move on. She answered the questions as straight as possible. It must have required incredible courage to dig that up, open it to public to warn us what kind of person we were going to choose as one of our nation's top justices. She was emotional, but I felt the sense of calm strength coming from someone speaking her truth.

Judge Kavanaugh, on the other hand, whined and blamed like two years old. He played the victim. He did not answer questions, instead, he attacked or questioned the questioners, often with sneer. It reminded me immature teenager, far from the distinguished judge he tried to claim who he was.

I am sure I am biased to some degree just like everybody else. But, this is how I felt. And, even someone who knew, worked with, liked and respected Judge Kavanaugh felt the same way watching the testimony. This person spoke out his opinion knowing carrier risks. That is admirable.

I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn’t Confirm Him"This is an article I never imagined myself writing, that I never wanted to write, that I wish I could not write."

No matter how the confirmation result would be, Dr. Ford's testimony gave us courage to speak out...speak the truth. I suspect, despite all the turmoils she has experienced since her story was out, now she may very well feel relieved knowing she did all she could to stay true to her conscious. 

After 30 years of not being able to speak the truth of my relationship, I'm taking small steps to restart speaking my mind. I feel I'm getting stronger and lighter slowly but surely. My relationship with others are getting stronger as well. Speaking the truth and trying to understand each other is the first step toward long term relationship with trust and respectIf more and more people do this, how much better our lives can be?

Update: Judge Kavanaugh has been confirmed by senate. Let's...at least, I will keep my eye open, speak my truth and stay strong. Hope you do, too.


Iceland Trip 1

I love living in Plano, Texas. But summer here can be hash. Even though I prefer hot to cold, Texas heat can be unbearable at times. To counter, I used to take my children to Colorado Rockies during summer. Hiking and camping in crisp cool air was great break from the heat

For this year, I decided to try a new place for my summer escape, Iceland. It was one of the places I wanted to visit someday. So when I saw a super attractive fare for RT direct flights
 from/to DFW by AA, I jumped on it. 

I used to avoid tours. I enjoyed exploring on my feet, figuring out places, using local transportations, eating at local eateries (even in pre-internet era) and experiencing occasional mishaps turned adventures along the way. I was, and still is, pretty good at these sort of things. 

Nowadays though I don't enjoy exploring trips as much as I used to. Visiting friends and going places with friends entice me more. Neither was available for this Iceland trip, so, I decided to use local tours and was glad to find out there were abundant choices. I was able to go many places without much hassle, enjoy sceneries, and learn some interesting facts from guides. 

The most memorable ones are:

1. Landmannalaugar hike
2. Snæfellsnes Peninsula and western coast
3. South coasts
4. Golden Circle
5. Whale Watch and Blue Lagoon
6. Walking around Reykjavik

Before going into any of these places I've visited, here are things I've learned about Iceland from locals and guides.

Not that many people
- The size of Iceland is roughly equal to the size of Ireland and Northern Ireland put together. (which is about 2.5 times bigger than Switzerland.)
- Population of Iceland is 338K. 2/3 of them, 223K, live in Greater Reykjavik. (Population of Plano, which is just a suburb of Dallas, is 286K.) There's not many Icelanders...
- Iceland has basically two industries. Tourism overtook the top spot from fishery in recent years.
- Currently one in five people are tourists...wow.
- Icelander's heritage basically comes from that of Viking (Norse) and Irish (Celtic).
- Icelandic language is close to the original Norse language Vikings used. Theirs have not changed much while other Scandinavian languages have evolved and simplified over the years.
- Icelandic language are difficult to learn, let alone pronounce correctly. Thus they don't expect you to speak it. They start learning English in first grade. Average Icelander speaks 3 to 5 languages.

Pretty safe
- Icelanders boast their safety. Locals credit this to "everybody knows everybody" small society.
- Murder is average 2 per year. Prison population is 35 or something. New prison is being built through. Most violent crimes are domestic nature.
- Iceland has no military. It pays 2% of GDP to NATO. It has coast guard, which consists of two ships and one airplane.
- Women typically feel safe to walk around alone at night. Per locals, there is no unsafe areas to walk around in Reykjavik.

Everybody is middle class
- Only first name is used to call or address someone.
- No class or formality used to address someone. No title used, not even "Dr." Just first name.
- Icelander use no family name. Last name is "son/daughter of first name of father". If father is not in the picture, "son/daughter of first name of mother"
- Healthcare and all education are free, including college and graduate school. There are thirteen colleges in Iceland throughout the nation.
- People are highly educated and unemployment rate is low, like 2%.

Rapid change in economy
- Until 100 years ago, Iceland was the poorest country (in Europe?). They only had some barely surviving farmers, nothing to export or make money.
- When a fish processing factory opened in Reykjavik, some started to make money.
- In recent years, with flourishing tourism, it became the second richest country in Europe per capita after switzerland.
- Iceland has three sheeps per every citizen, but they do not export mutton or wool items. (not cost competitive)
- Icelandic horses are direct descent from horses Vikings brought. They are small in size, but don't call them "pony". Icelanders are proud of their horses and very protective of them. They export some out of the country, but once out they can not come back in.

Mild climate
- Weather is unpredictable and changes constantly. Weather forecast in two days in advance is useless.
- Locals use Norwegian based app called "YR" for forecast. (I downloaded. Pretty handy.)
- Fairly warm considering the latitude, thanks to the Gulf Stream. Seasonal and daily high/low difference is small.
- Layering clothing are must, but heavy winter coat is not needed in summer months.
- In Reykjavik, average summer high is 14 celsius low is 8. Average winter high is 2.5 and low is -2.5. Not that much snow falls, either.

Volcanos, magmas, and geothermal energy
- Iceland is part of the Mid Atlantic Ridge, where Eurasian and North American plates separate (in North Atlantic) and the only substantial portion of the Ridge above the sea. The Ridge separates roughly 1 inch per year.
- Magmas are relatively close to the surface in Iceland. This makes easier to use geothermal to warm water and generate electricity.
- Iceland has numerous waterfalls. Some contributes to tourism, others for hydropower generation.
- Energy from hydro and geothermal covers all electricity needs in Iceland.
- Everything is pretty expensive in Iceland except electricity, hot water and trash/recycle, which runs average US$100 per month per household.
- Because power is cheap (and are renewable) and winter is dark, Reykjavik lights up like Christmas (Las Vegas) between October to the end of April.


Why speaking your mind? 2

One of the quotes I love is "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

I used to think what it meant was to “Be true to your core values no matter what others think of you.” That was why the word "feel" always bugged me. I often crossed out "feel" and replaced it with "believe".

Feeling, I thought, was fleeting and unpredictable. Something that brushes or blankets you. You should not trust and act on it. Ignore or control, instead. Belief, on the other hand, was more permanent and deep-rooted. You can rely on it to decide and act upon. It's what you should align yourself to…

I was wrong. It took me a long time, but I now realize it is almost opposite.

Beliefs are basically ideas we subscribe to. They typically come from outside. Are they good for us? Depends. Some have motives to undermine our wellbeing. Or they may be used to undermine us by someone else. We need to choose what we believe carefully.

Feelings are signals. Something deep inside us, mostly what we were born with, perceives our particular situation and moves us or sends us signals to take actions. What sends us signals deeply cares about us. So, which should we trust more?

I was in a relationship I could not speak my feelings for decades. My attempts to say them honestly to understand and be understood were constantly denied or twisted around. How I was feeling was diminished or ill-interpreted and projected back to me as something I could not comprehend. It was confusing to say the least. Self doubts and second-guessing creeped in. Damages from this long term toxic relationship gradually eroded my confidence and weakened my power over myself.

It is complicated, but now I see a series of mistakes I made in this relationship. One of them was not valuing my feelings enough and letting myself emotionally isolated. I did not speak out what was happening and how I was feeling to the people around me. The only person I was speaking out to was the person I was having issues. Exactly the wrong person in my case. I thought getting others involved was not moral thing to do because it was my personal problem I was responsible for. If I had valued and trusted my feelings over some moral beliefs, I would have been speaking out to more people instead of trying to endure abuses with sheer effort. Talking to many more would have helped me to see the situation objectively and clearly. Some could have given pointers what to do to solve problems earlier.

Now I know better. I am re-learning to receive feeling signals with fewer nasty filters and manipulated translations. Speaking out is helping to articulate what I am feelings. It may be a long way to go, but I will keep working. Because those are the signals I should pay attention to, understand what it wants to tell me clearly, so I can take necessary actions.


Why speaking your mind? 1

I experience many, often fragmented, thoughts throughout my waking time, and sometimes during my sleep. Some are practical and clearly actionable. Others are not and can go around in circles.

Even if I experience certain thoughts repeatedly, without putting those into words, either spoken (to others, not just in my head) or written, they are likely forever fragmented. It nearly impossible to figure out the meaning of those thoughts and what to do about them.

If I want to know how I should or should not act based on those thoughts, I'd better, at least try to, understand properly why I am having those thoughts to begin with. 


EXP EDITION on VICE documentary

光希 (Koki) のKPOP group "EXP EDITION"が、VICEに取り上げられました。

「The World's Most Controversial K-Pop Group」というタイトルが付いているだけあって、CONTROVERSYが焦点。母親としては腹立たしくなる場面も出て来ます。目標を持った若者達が助け合いながら努力しているのを、どうしてここまで問題視する人たちがいるのか?ちょっと理解に苦しむところ

私が言えるのは、今までここまで叩かれても、やり続けて来て成果を出し始めてるってことは、彼らのやる気が本物だということ。根拠のない批判はそのうちに立ち消えていくはず。They are the men in the arena. Critics do not count.

今、EXP EDITIONは東京にいて、8月10日まで新宿のShowboxでライブをやっています。興味ある人いたら行ってみてください。スケジュールはこちら


Texan industrialist turned his polluting company into environmental leader

I manage programs for NT Renewable Energy Group. We had a honor to have Dale Crownover, CEO and President of Texas Nameplate Company, as a speaker for our July meeting.

The reasons I wanted to invite him were...
 - He runs small local manufacturing business.
 - He and his team have been improving their pollution producing business practices over the years to the point that they are recognized for their environmental stewardship.
 - He spends his personal time to encourage others to green up their practices.

His story was fascinating. We were encouraged by knowing company like this exists in our own backyard.

There are three things he talked about and did not show up in below linked sites.
 - He trademarked the phrase "Our nameplates are green." 
 - He often faces strong resistance from other business owners when he talks about going green.
 - They invented iScrubber, a closed-loop automated solvent scrubbing system. He let his major competitor come in to observe the system even though his management opporsed. They worried the competitor might imitate the system and their company might lose its competitive advantage. Surprising results? Two separate competitors asked Texas Nameplate perform that part of process for them. Texas Nameplate picked up extra business and revenue by generously opening the door to its competitor and sharing information to go green. Abundance mindset resulted in win/win. How cool is that?

Texas Nameplate Website

Detail story about the company...