Trash and Trends: The Keurig® single-cup coffee brewing system

Jeffs Blueberry Cherry Tea Cake

Image from my post “California Cherries”

— NOTE: I’m also submitting this post for the new weekly WordPress challenge on the topic of PLASTIC WASTE REDUCTION, because sometimes, we buy new products that unintentionally add more plastic trash to our waste stream.  To see other submissions for the theme click here.

Coffee is a beverage enjoyed by people all over the world, and like most coffee lovers, it is part of my morning ritual.

Single coffee brews

Image snapped from from the Keurig Web Site

When I started seeing single cup coffee makers like the Keurig® brewing systems, I wondered if it was a fad, or just a passing trend.

I continue to see these systems sold everywhere — so, it seems it is here to stay.

Yes, it is convenient, and perhaps less wasteful if different members of the family can make their own cup —  especially if say, one likes a dark roast and another a lighter type roast coffee.

But of course, I thought about the resulting TRASH.

All those little single serve plastic containers and covers, that most likely will not be recycled, and end up in trash cans — adding to our landfills, where it will stick around for hundreds of years.

And it turns out I’m not the only one thinking of all the trash resulting from these single cup coffee pods.  Excerpt from the website TakePart.com:

About 95 percent of K-Cups are made from #7 plastic, which usually isn’t biodegradable and may contain BPA.

As for the remaining 5 percent of the pods, it’s tough to recycle them because the plastic container is attached to a foil lid—a big no-no for recycling centers.

A 2013 survey from the National Coffee Association found that nearly one in eight American households owns a single-serving coffee machine, and last year Keurig Green Mountain, the manufacturer of the machines and the pods, produced 9.8 billion K-Cups. There’s no way to tell how many of those ended up in landfills.

Which is why it was great to see a 97% Biodegradable single serve coffee pod, made by the Rogers Family Coffee Company.

Single Serve Coffee Biodegradable

The new, mostly biodegradable product made me say “Yeah!” — a product for those who love the convenience of this coffee brewing system, but concerned about the resulting trash problems.

The problem though is that the new versions of Keurig® single cup coffee brewers “lock out” competitor brew pods.

And so then it was….”oh oh… not so fast, Jane, it’s not that easy” (and cue dejected sound from a sit-com ringing in my head)…

From the Rogers Family Coffee Company blog:

In August of 2014 Keurig Green Mountain® replaced the standard Keurig K-Cup® brewers with a new version 2.0. This new version is very similar to previous models except for ONE thing… it includes a new lockout technology that only allows “Authorized K-Cups®” to work.

It does this by visually identifying a special ink on the lidding. Any cup without this “special” ink is rejected by the machine thus ensuring Keurig’s® marketplace dominance. While other companies are quickly working to adopt this special ink to their cups we at Rogers Family Company® believe that your right to choose any option is imperative.

Thankfully, Rogers has come up with an adapter called a “Freedom Clip”…and if you have a newer Keurig® coffee maker and want to use the biodegradable coffee pods, you can adapt it:

Freedom Clip

The Rogers Family Coffee Company is offering these “Freedom Clips” free on their website, along with a free sample of their biodegradable one-cup brews (click here for more).

Are you a coffee lover too, and own these Keurig® systems?

How do you make your coffee?

Recycle GlobeRelated: If you are not sure what the difference is between the terms biodegradable and compostable, check out this Native Leaf blog post to learn more.

 

Beyond being “the father of the birth control pill” – the legacy of Carl Djerassi

carldjerassi photoLast week, the “father of the birth control pill”, Carl Djerassi, died at his home in San Francisco.  He was 91 years old.

Djerassi was a highly accomplished, multi-faceted person.  He was a chemist — best known for his contribution to the development of birth control pills — but also a novelist and a playwright.  Excerpt from the New York Times:

…Djerassi wrote books, plays and 1,200 scientific articles; taught at universities for five decades; created an artists’ colony in California; and obtained a patent on the first antihistamine.

His work on the science of birth control helped engender enormous controversies and social changes, altering sexual and reproductive practices, family economics and the working lives of millions of women around the world.

dialog Djerassi website

Image “Dialog”, 2004. by Roland Mayer. photo by Todd Holloway via the Djerassi Resident Artist Program website

With all of Dr. Djerassi’s accomplishments, what struck me about his life was the reason for starting the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, whose mission is “to support and enhance the creativity of artists by providing uninterrupted time for work, reflection, and collegial interaction in a setting of great natural beauty, and to preserve the land on which the Program is situated”.  From the Djerassi Resident Artist Program website:

The origins of the Djerassi Program lie in a personal tragedy for the Djerassi family. In 1978 Pamela Djerassi, herself a poet and painter, took her own life.

Soon after, while visiting Florence, Italy, with Diane Middlebrook (later his wife) and trying to come to terms with his daughter’s death, Djerassi and Middlebrook considered the patronage that the Medici family had given to artists of their time and how he might, in some small way, be able to extend his support to contemporary women artists.

Djerassi stated that he wanted to help living artist, rather than collecting works of dead ones.

From a Chemical Heritage Foundation Blog Post:

In a 1985 interview with CHF’s Center for Oral History, Carl Djerassi said, “I feel like I’d like to lead one more life. I’d like to leave a cultural imprint on society rather than just a technological benefit.”

With all the awards he received during his lifetime, his contributions to changing the lives of millions of women around the world, and through supporting artists through the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, it seems he has definitely left an imprint on society.

Please visit the Djerassi Resident Artist Program for more information and visit the artists page to see current and past Artists-in-Residence.  The deadline to apply for a 2016 residency is March 15, 2015.

Did you know about Dr. Djerassi and the Resident Artist Program aspect of his life?

For Superbowl XLIX – Bill Nye the Science Guy’s take on “DeflateGate”

I don’t normally post sports-related items on my blog — except when my favorite team the San Francisco 49ers finally made it back to the divisional playoffs in 2012. 

But I can be a sports fan and total sports geek at times, and totally followed and enjoyed the San Francisco Giants’ journey to win the 2014 World Series.

However, I found the crazy, excessive media focus on “DeflateGate” – when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick claimed atmospheric conditions caused footballs to lose air pressure during the playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts — so ridiculous, in light of the other world events that major news outlets should cover.

I did hear Bill Nye”The Science Guy” give his opinion on this whole DeflateGate thing on radio and on TV…and just had to post this recent video on my blog.

Note: He actually takes a very SHARP turn in the middle of the video, saying what many of us are thinking about all this ball talk of late…so here it is from he folks at Funny or Die:

And for the football sports fans, a question:  If the New England Patriots win this game, Tom Brady will own his 4th Superbowl ring to tie with my all-time favorite player, Joe Montana.

If Brady ties Montana’s record, do you think he can then be called the greatest quarterback of all time, especially that this is his 6th Superbowl appearance?

As much as I dislike the Patriots, I dislike the Seattle Seahawks even more (hey, I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan, remember, we are REQUIRED to hate the Seahawks)….So for today, GO PATRIOTS! Plus, Tom Brady is a Bay Area native (San Mateo, California).

Are you watching Super Bowl 49 today to see football or like many Americans, watch it for the commercials and supercharged Half-Time Show?

Related to what Bill Nye talks about in the video, here is my post about the Environmental Tipping Point — are we living in an age of irresponsibility.

Wal-Mart targets Asian-American shoppers with culture-specific Black Friday ads – Tagalish, lip-point and all

Since English is an official language in the Philippines, U.S. based companies that use Tagalog (the national language of the Philippines) orTagalish to target Filipino American consumers always piqué my interest.

I started to collect MacDonald’s ads that use Tagalish…and now add this Wal-Mart Black Friday ad targeting the Asian-American community.

Here is one in “Tagalog” — at least according to the ad title — though really, it is in Tagalish.  Talk about really targeting Filipino-Americans…an actor points his lips in the 31 second ad.

See the other ads in “Hinglish” and Mandarin on Joey DeVilla’s website. The script format is the same in all the ads, including a lola / grandmother in each version.

By the way,  are YOU shopping on the Thanksgiving day holiday? Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, Kohl’s and Best Buy are among the stores open on Thanksgiving Day, while Costco, Home Deport, Pier One and Crate & Barrel are among the stores who refuse to open on Thanksgiving Day.

Related LolaKo.com posts and further information:

The pumpkin flavor craze — do all these products really contain pumpkin?

Lolas pumpkins photoWhat is up with the proliferation of pumpkin flavor everything?

We expect to see pumpkins — the sort used for Jack-O-Lanterns — outside of grocery stores this time of year.

Lately though, the pumpkin thing continues inside the store…from pumpkin spice yogurt and “limited edition” English muffins. Even the Oreo brand is in with their Pumpkin Spice Creme cookies!

Pumpkins used to be a sign that fall is here, Halloween is around the corner and soon, the Thanksgiving holiday will be upon us.

But now, the pumpkin and “pumpkin spice” signals a time of year when all manner of food and beverages are blanketed with this flavor.  Example:

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And just like Christmas songs and Christmas decorations, it comes to us EARLIER each year.

So why is pumpkin and “pumpkin spice” flavor in so many food and beverage products these days (especially since pumpkin by itself is rather bland)?

Starbucks PSL

Starbuck’s PSL (photo via Starbucks.com)

Turns out we can thank Starbucks for the brilliant idea to offer seasonal beverages, and in particular their best-selling Pumpkin Spice Latte  or “PSL”

For around $5, you can get a 20 oz PSL Venti but only for a “limited time”.

But does the drink actually have real pumpkin? Nope, just pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

A brilliant marketing idea, right?  Get people to anticipate a drink (just as we would anticipate the holiday season perhaps) which contains spices that are available all year round!

Here are other pumpkin flavor examples:

The “limited batch” pumpkin yogurt by Chobani, which does contain pumpkin…

The Thomas’ “Limited Edition”  English muffins…which also had pumpkin…

Then there’s the Oreo brand cookie with the prominent pumpkin on the packaging and the words “pumpkin spice creme”…

pumnpkin spice oreo cookies web

Pumpkin Spice Oreo ingredients are: Sugar, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid, Palm and/or Canola Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Artificial Color (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 3 Lake), Paprika Oleoresin (Color)

Do you see any pumpkin on the ingredients list?  Nope!

From the FoodFacts.com blog on the Pumpkin Spice Oreo

We’d like to call your attention to the fact that there is absolutely NO PUMPKIN anywhere in that list. Oh wait, they’re PUMPKIN SPICE Oreos, not PUMPKIN Oreos.

Technically that would mean that these should taste like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and anything else we use to flavor actual pumpkin pie. Funny, we don’t see any of those ingredients on the list either. We do, however, see Natural and Artificial Flavors — which of course is what the folks over at Oreos are using to impart the taste of pumpkin pie spices to the cream inside this cookie.

And then, to make it look authentic (because all of those spices carry a rich, deep color), they’ve added a healthy dose of artificial colors.

There are also pumpkin spice teas, beer and other alcohol beverages….like this pumpkin spice whiskey from Rhode Island-based Sons of Liberty…

This one actually has plenty of locally grown pumpkins and actual pumpkin spices, and sounds good!

Food manufacturers are succeeding with the popular pumpkin spice flavor, so this craze is probably here to stay for a while.   (See the 2013 Nielsen’s graph below showing pumpkin flavor products experiencing tremendous growth).

Nielsen pumpkin flavor chart 2013

So I suppose we can enjoy the fall and all the pumpkin and pumpkin spice stuff out there, especially if you happen to like pumpkin spices (I do!).

Just remember, most will probably NOT have real pumpkin, but hopefully there will at least be REAL pumpkin pie spices.  You just have to look at the labels.

Do you like this proliferation of pumpkin and pumpkin spiced food in the market? Wish it will stay or happy if it’s a fad that will soon fade?

Lolas Turbaned-Squashes photo

Turbaned squashes – photo www.Lolako.com  Click on the photo to find out the difference between a pumpkin, a squash and a gourd.

And by the way, if you want to know the difference between a pumpkin, squash or a gourd, here is the link to my post Autumn Time, Pumpkin Time, with fun photos of many varieties now available…everywhere (just like the pumpkin spice everything).

Even the NPR Car Talk guys made a joke about this pumpkin craze in this morning’s program, mentioning their “pumpkin chai brake fluid”.  Oh well…what’s next?

Further reading: Article from Vox.com:  The greatest trick capitalism ever pulled was making you want a pumpkin spice latte.

Is lip-pointing a learned or inherited trait? And by the way, it’s not exclusively Filipino…

Western style pointing

My grandson, Gabriel, at the beach, hot cocoa in one hand and the other hand pointing like most…

People living in areas where the index or the “pointer” finger is the norm when pointing may think that this communication method is a universal gesture….but it is not.

According to the paper The Protean Pointing Gesture, lip-pointing — instead of finger-pointing — in one form or another is a method used not just among Filipinos, but also widely used by those living in other parts of Southeast Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Africa, and South America.

If you know Filipinos and Filipino-Americans who grew up in the Philippines, you will know what I mean by lip-pointing.  If you haven’t seen it, here is a great description from Lisa who blogs at mymovetothePhilippines.com:

Filipino lip pointing is actually more than just a simple puckering up. First there’s eye-to-eye contact, followed by variations of lip pursing, combined with a eyebrow, head and neck action, the execution of which all depends on the intention of the pointer.

Non-Filipinos who have observed this gesture find it confusing, and sometimes hilarious.  Foreigners should be wary of this practice.  A Filipina puckering her lips doesn’t necessarily mean she’s asking for a kiss.  She could just be pointing to something on your shoulder.  She might slap you in the face, if you misinterpret.

One of the most common reasons for lip pointing is to give quick directions, of which explaining verbally would take a longer time.

So, if you’re at a mall, and you ask a Filipino who’s carrying grocery bags up to his arms where the rest room is, he might purse his lips then extend his neck to the direction of the restroom in one smooth action.  Or he would purse his lips, lift his head up, and turn it to his left, which means: walk straight ahead, and make a left turn at the next corner. A head bobble before the head lift would mean pass two aisles down before making a left. If he over extends his neck, bends a bit, and stretches his lips outward, it means you’ve got a farther ways to walk.

According to the study, finger-pointing is one of the first gestures a human baby uses to communicate, even before they can speak.  And this is seen everywhere and across cultures.  So does this mean lip-pointing is something one learns?

Lip Pointing learned or natural webBut if it is also common for people from a particular region of the world to lip-point (e.g., Southeast Asia) then is it possible that lip-pointing is also an inherited trait?

If my U.S.-born grandsons (who are part Filipino) decide to move and live in a country where lip-pointing is common, will they easily convert to this method?

Unfortunately, the question of whether lip pointing is an inherited or a learned behavior is not answered in the study, so we will have to wait for further research.

But what do you think…learned or inherited? After all, it is not easy to teach someone how to lip-point.

Speaking of more research, can they can also find out why Filipinos and Thais sniff kiss?

Philippine narket web

Scene from market in the Philippines. Hands full? No need to drop those market bags right away since you can just let the vendor know you want by lip-pointing.

I do wonder if modern Filipinos point less with their lips, and like the rest of the so-called WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic) societies, switch exclusively to pointing with their index finger.  I hope not, as I find lip-pointing an endearing Filipino trait, and one I hope is kept by modern and future Filipinos.

For a funny take on Filipino lip-pointing, check out this YouTube video and Auntie Advice from the HappySlip Channel.

Unless with family, I rarely point with my lips now, compared to when I first immigrated to the U.S…so yes, I now point the WEIRD way.

If you are Filipino living outside the Philippines, do you still lip-point?

And another clip on YouTube featuring the Filipino-American comedian Jo-Koy talking about his 3 1/2 year old and his lip-pointing Filipina mother…

And oh wow, just in time for the 2014 Holiday Black Friday shopping, see this Wal-Mart ad targeting Asian Americans — specifically one in Tagalish featuring an actor who…yes indeed… points with his lips.

A library with no books — and it’s at a university

Cookbooks

How much longer will homes have bookcases with actual books ?

I wanted to look up a recipe for quince (a type of fruit with a lovely scent that has to be cooked before eating) and I debated whether to go to the bookcase and thumb through our cookbooks… or to just search for “quince recipes” on our Samsung tablet.

I had access to both, so I had the choice…

But If you are one of the 550 students attending the brand new Florida Polytechnic University and want to look at books from their library, you won’t be going towards the library’s shelving system to pull out a book because at this university library there are no physical books to check out — all their books are in digital format only.

Is this the inevitable next phase of the digital era?

When a university opens a new library and there are no actual books to touch, to pull out of library bookshelves, when there are no paper pages for fingers to flip through, or actual books to carry to the check out counter, then a new era is truly upon us.

la-et-jc-florida-polytechnic-universitys-bookl-002

Brand new library at Florida Polytechnic University – Photo by Rocket Science Photography / Florida Polytechnic University The university’s campus library has no books.

Excerpt from the L.A. Times article…

…That is, unless a student happens to bring an old-style hardcover or paperback to school.

They might; like most university systems, Florida State makes all of its books available to students through interlibrary loans, giving them access to 6 million volumes.

But the idea of the new Florida Polytechnic library is to move away from paper. Printers for articles accessed online are available but not encouraged. Instead, the staff hopes students will organize their research online with tools that are part of the library service.

There are also some collections of print books that Florida Polytechnic owns, but they are not currently available on campus.

“As for the electronic-only aspect of the library resources,” writes the trade magazine Library Journal, ” [Director of Libraries Kathryn] Miller emphasized that it’s the information that’s key, not its form.

Oh wow…so the environmentalist part of me is happy to know we are saving trees and saving the resources that goes into making paper.  Still…there is something kind of sad about no longer holding an actual book in one’s hands.

juns and minecraft book web

My 9-year-old grandson, Jun reading his Minecraft book. Will he look at this photo when he is a grandfather and feel nostalgic for the days when he held a physical book in his hand — or show the photos to his grandchildren of a bygone era when kids still  held books with their hands?

Is it just me being nostalgic (already!) even if there are still books all around me?

Will my grandsons’ children no longer have physical books around them — at least as I define books — and will they even still call them “books”?

And when my grandsons go to college, will their university library look like Florida Polytechnic’s library, too?

Lola and Gabriel hands

Hands — the digits of Lola Jane and grandson Gabriel, who was about 3 1/2 years old at the time this photograph was taken. The origin of the word digital is the Latin “digitus” meaning finger / toe.

It is interesting that the origin of the word “digital” is the Latin digitalis from the late 15th century — digitus meaning finger / toe.  

What do you prefer these days when you want to read the latest book or when you look up recipes?

Traditional books or digital, e-book sources?

And if you are a regular visitor to libraries (like we are)…what will you miss?  Will you miss the smell of books and paper?  And what about the tactile process of touching, picking up and selecting books versus the mostly visual act of reading from a tablet or smart phone…

Gosh, will there even be libraries  then, or will these buildings be unnecessary if there is access to any and all information we want anytime and anywhere?

Gutenberg-press-print-drawingRelated Lolako.com post: How long before print newspapers completely disappear

Also see The Digital Scriptorium – from the University of California, Bancroft Library — a growing image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that unites scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research. 

Champurrado to Champorado: origin of a favorite Filipino breakfast

In the Philippines, champorado is a chocolate, riced-based porridge typically eaten for breakfast.  In Mexico, champurrado is a chocolate-based drink (made with masa — lime treated corn dough, or corn flour) also served for breakfast.

champorado Filipino style

Champorado is typically eaten at breakfast but can also be served for dessert

The common ingredient is chocolate — but which version came first?

The answer is the Mexican champurrado, as the cacao trees (source of chocolate) grown in the Philippines originally came from Mexico.  And the connection, of course, is that Mexico and the Philippines were colonies of Spain.

Some of the most popular fruits and plants common in the Philippines —  avocados, pineapples, cashews, guyabano — are native to Latin American countries and arrived in the Philippines via the galleon ships from Mexico during the colonial era.  Rice and fruits like the carambola (star apple) and mangoes were transported from the Philippines to Mexico.

Champorado is a breakfast favorite of my oldest grandson, Jun.  Because there is a lot of stirring involved, he knows it is a special request breakfast and that his Lola has to wake up a little earlier to have it ready before school time.

As with many Filipino sweets, making champorado requires just a handful of ingredients.  Philippine chocolate tablets are the traditional ingredient, but we use cocoa powder in our version.  Recipe:

Philippine Champorado ingriedients w

  • 1 cup of sticky rice – usually marked “Sweet Rice” sourced mainly from Thailand, or the Philippine brands marked “Malagkit”
  • Water & Milk – start with 4 and 1/2 cups of water to cook the rice into a porridge (I add a cup of low-fat milk to the mixture when the porridge is almost done, and depending on the consistency you like, you can add more milk and water)
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – use from 1/2 cup or add more to your liking.  We keep a container of Trader Joe’s brand on hand, sourced from Columbia.
  • Brown sugar can be added during the porridge cooking process or served with the bowl of champorado.

Rinse, then cook the rice with the water over low heat, then gradually add the cocoa powder to make the porridge.  I add the milk and brown sugar when the rice softens and is almost cooked.  Watch over and stir the mixture often.  The champorado is done when the rice is mushy and cooked through.

In the Philippines, champorado is sometimes eaten with salted dried fish (tuyo), as Filipinos love mixing salty and sweet flavors.

For more about chocolate, see Most Craved Food post here, or click on the photo below.

Cacao Photo Group

Cacao tree growing next to a house in the Philippines, bottom photo are cacao seeds drying, and cacao seeds for sale at the market, Central Philippines. Photos Lolako.com

And a little on the early history of chocolate in the Philippines, said to be introduced by missionaries from Mexico in the late 1600’s.  Excerpt from the book “The Philippine Islands”, published in 1898…

The trees are usually planted in gardens near the house, and the chocolate-paste is made at home. A small quantity of the bean is sent annually to Spain; and there is a chocolate factory in Manila for the benefit of those that do not care to trouble themselves with either the growth of the fruit or the preparation of the kernel. The oil of the cocoa is used also for lighting the houses and streets.

It is impossible to find better chocolate than that made by the friars of the Philippines. Special pains are taken with the cacao tree, which is planted in the orchards and gardens of the monasteries, and in the manufacture of the paste and in the making of the beverage.

At Mexican eateries, here is how champurrado is sold (paired with tamales — so, except for the chocolate, completely different from Philippine champorado):

White King brand instant champorado web

White King brand instant champorado mix

Do you make homemade champorado or champurrado?

Or have you bought the instant type Filipino champorado mix at your local Filipino store (like the type pictured at left by White King)?  And if so, was the taste comparable to homemade champorado?

What are your favorite Filipino chocolate related memories?

More food posts from Lolalako.com:

Books on bikes and pedalling to the people

We hear so much about the demise of newspapers and print media these days…which is why it was a delight to hear about the Seattle Public Library’s pilot program to bring books out to the community.  And not by the traditional bookmobile van, but by bicycle.

Seattle is one cool city!

crowd

Photo of books on bike at a farmers market via NPR – Gabriel Spitzer.  The trailer can hold 500 lbs and pops open to display books (and comes with an umbrella stand too!).  On the spot, they can also open up a library card for residents.

Read more or listen to the story here on NPR by Gabriel Spitzer.

Still…I wonder how libraries will look and operate 25 years from now.  Will we still check out actual printed books or will it be all digital media or whatever format is around he bend…

Related Lolako.com post: http://lolako.com/how-long-before-print-newspapers-completely-disappear/

WordPress Photo Challenge – Patterns of colors in costumes

After a hiatus from participating in my favorite WordPress blogging challenge (actually …a hiatus from blogging in general) I am submitting the following photos for this week’s theme from Sara Rosso, Patterns.

I immediately thought of the photos I took at the Marina (Monterey County, California) farmers market this past Sunday, the 5th of May.

I enjoyed the lovely costumes with repeating patterns and colors from a group performing folk dances for Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco De Mayo Color Patterns

Family Cinco De Mayo Color Patterns 1

Huddling together in preparation for their performance — and for photo opportunities — were the cutest little girl and boy, who seem to enjoy the attention and cameras pointed at them…

Family Cinco De Mayo Color Patterns 2

Cinco De Mayo Color Patterns 1Cinco De Mayo dancer at market low res

More about Baile Folklorico – traditional Latin American dances here

Cinco de Mayo events in the United States celebrates Mexican culture and heritage, and are very popular.

And of course, as with anything that can be commercialized, the popularity of Cinco de Mayo celebrations can also be attributed to beer companies promoting the event.  From the website, Hispanic Culture On-Line, Cinco de Mayo history:

The commercialization of Cinco de Mayo started because Coors Brewing Company wanted to improve its image among Hispanics who used to boycott the brewing company for alleged discriminatory practices….click here to read the article

Related article…Cinco de Mayo now a mainstream holiday, from SF Gate / San Francisco Chronicle.

Are there Cinco de Mayo events and celebrations where YOU are?

May the Fourth Be With You – the staying power of Star Wars

So this month, there is the Cinco de Mayo celebration, Mother’s Day on Sunday, the 12th, and oh yes…Star Wars Day, celebrated by Star Wars fans on May 4th.

What…..Star Wars Day? There’s a Star Wars Day…as in Happy Star Wars Day?

star-wars-may-the-4th-be-with-you-HallmarkApparently, as Hallmark has official cards (conventional and e-cards) available for sale, with your favorite Star Wars character and just the right sentiment .

Star Wars Episode IV was released in the U.S. on May 25, 1977.  I saw the movie when I was a teenager living in the Philippines, and up to that point, it was different from any movie I’d seen.

The second installment, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, was released in U.S. theaters on May 21, 1980, and it was among the first movies  I saw in an American theater.

Ever wonder where George Lucas got the inspiration for Star Wars?  Here is an excerpt from Star Wars Wookieepedia…

Lucas had already written two drafts of Star Wars when he rediscovered Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1975 (having read it years before in college). This blueprint for “The Hero’s Journey” gave Lucas the focus he needed to draw his sprawling imaginary universe into a single story. Campbell demonstrates in his book that all stories are expressions of the same story-pattern, which he named the Hero’s Journey or the monomyth.

Lucas has often cited The Lord of the Rings series as a major influence on Star Wars. Lucas learned from Tolkien how to handle the delicate stuff of myth. Tolkien wrote that myth and fairytale seem to be the best way to communicate morality – hints for choosing between right and wrong – and in fact that may be their primary purpose. Lucas has also acknowleged in interviews that the Gandalf and the Witch-king characters in the Lord of the Rings influenced the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader characters respectively.

Over 30 years later, the Star Wars franchise lives on and is today relevant to my  grandsons, age 8 and 6.  They love all things Star Wars (now brilliantly marketed in partnership with Lego products) and of course, there is the animated Star Wars – Clone Wars series.

Yoda May the Fourth be with you s

This Yoda — equipped with lightsaber came to us via a box of a Nintendo DS Lego game.

And so here’s to Star Wars Day…and from our household Yoda (he came in a box with a Nintendo DS Lego game), May the Force — or the Fourth — Be With You!

Did you know…Star Wars is the third highest-grossing film series of all time, after James Bond and Harry Potter?

If you are a grandparent — or grandparent age —  how many movies do you remember from our teen years that are now part of modern popular culture?  Certainly not many that we can enjoy with our grandchildren…not a remake, but in its original format.

Related Links:

Want to learn English — and on a budget?

How about studying English in the Philippines?  It turns out the Philippines is a great destination for students who want to learn how to speak English, and on a budget.

Skyline of the City of Manila, Philippines, seen from the Cultural Center of the Philippines, photo by Mike Gonzalez via Wikipedia

I have met several Koreans (from my grandsons’ Tae Kwon Do classes) who indeed took English classes in the Philippines.  While visiting Cebu, I was also surprised to see all the Korean restaurants and Korean signs, catering to the new population of English-learning students from Korea.

Photo from the Philippine Department of Tourism

Here is the excerpt from a BBC Philippines report from Kate McGeown:

The Philippines is fast becoming the world’s low-cost English language teacher – with rapid increases in overseas students coming to learn English or study in English-speaking universities.

There might be other countries that people think about as a classic place to learn English, such as the UK, the US or Australia.

But there is one key reason that they are switching to the Philippines. It’s much cheaper. And in the competitive market for language students, it means the Philippines is attracting people from countries such as Iran, Libya, Brazil and Russia.

“We have very competitive rates compared with other countries,” says English teacher, Jesy King, citing her school’s fees of $500 (£313) for a 60-hour class – about a third of the price of an equivalent course in the US or Canada.

Another major advantage is the accent.

Filipinos speak with a clear American accent – partly because the Philippines was a US colony for five decades, and partly because so many people here have spent time working in call centres that cater to a US market….

She adds…

The Philippines markets itself as being the third largest English-speaking nation – after the US and the UK – a fact proudly displayed on the Department of Tourism website. And in a way, that’s true. Most people speak at least rudimentary English, and the well-educated speak it fluently.

Yes indeed…here is that section from www.ExperiencePhilippines.org website:

Considered the third-largest English-speaking country in the world, the Philippines offers world-class facilities and services – excellent accommodations, fine restaurants, modern shopping centers and communication services, efficient congress and exhibition organizers and professional tour operators.

Photo from Philippine Department of Tourism

Click here to read Kate McGeown’s article, The Philippines: The world’s budget English teacher and video.

Common modes of transportation in more rural areas in the Philippines.

The “Ube” and Purple Filipino Food

Update January 2015 — I’ve added photos of more ube products found at Asian stores.  From ube flavored crackers, cakes….even ube flavored Otap!  Snack companies continue to add purple ube flavors to their product lines.

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The theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge on the Daily Post is the color Purple.

I thought about food…specifically Filipino food, as I was working on a purple food post.

Indian Eggplant at Moss Landing, California Market Stall

There are many food in shades of purple. There is the eggplant of course, and grapes, purple potatoes, purple cabbage, purple basil, onions — which we call red, but really is often the same shade as purple cabbages.

Boy behind “red” onions at his family’s vegetable market stall, Philippines

Purple shade foods — beets and onions — for sale at the Old Monterey Farmers Market

However, when it comes to purple foods, I think Filipino food wins in the “most” category.  This is all thanks to the ube — pronounced “ou-beh” — a type of purple yam from the Philippines.

Filipinos are accustomed to purple food from the flavor and coloring of ube — and it must be ingrained in us.

Ube flavored food varies from a light shade of lavender to a deep, dark purple.  It does not matter the shade as I think I can speak for most Filipinos and Filipino-Americans here, that when we see purple or an ube-shade of food, we immediately think…oh look, purple…yes, it’s ube…its good….get it….eat it!

The purple ube by itself is a health food, with anti-oxidant properties.   But perhaps how we prepare it in the Philippines — whipped with milk and sugars, or stuffed in breads, cooked with biko or other rice flour based desserts — takes away its health benefits.  Or maybe there is still enough ube in there to count for something…

Here are some of my ube food photos.  It is common to see these at San Francisco Bay Area Filipino grocery stores and eateries.

Pan de ube — bread stuffed with the purple yam jam!

Philippine sticky rice with coconut dessert “Biko” plain (brown) and purple ube flavored.

Philippine “kakanin” or snack food called Puto, in plain white, or purple, ube flavored.

“Sapin-sapin” a type of layered, sticky, rice flour based snack food and dessert, ube flavored

It is also common to find ube flavored drinks, ice creams and ube snacks at  Filipino eateries, and even fast-food restaurants. This is from Chow-King, advertising halo-halo (an icy treat that translates to “mix-mix”). Click on the photo for Lolako’s Halo-Halo post.

Woman selling snacks contained in banana leaves, at the market, Philippines. The tube shaped items are filled with sticky rice cooked in coconut milk, then steamed. The cupcake looking items are “puto”, a fermented rice flour sweet snack, also cooked inside a banana leaf. You can see purple, or ube flavored ones along with the yellow and pink putos.  Click on photo for more on the Philippine banana-wrapped snack foods.

Ube flavored snack contained in banana leaves

The food snack and Chinese style pastry  “Hopia” typically has yellow mung beans, but lately I have seen these with ube flavored filling, too!

Purple Yam is available in a powdered format, if you want to add a natural food coloring (and some ube flavors) to your food.

Jeff made pan de sal — a traditional breakfast bread in the Philippines — with ube, using this brand of powdered ube.

The recipe is from Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s cookbook, Memories of Philippine Kitchens. They are owners of the restaurant Purple Yam, in Brooklyn, New York.

Homemade ube pan de sal with store-bought ube spread.

Frozen UbeFrozen, whole ube is also available at most Asian or Filipino markets.

You can also buy frozen ube that is already grated —- so you can save time if you want to make ube halaya.

Booth at Pistahan Festival in San Francisco – August 2012

Ube Waffles with caramelized macapuno (coconut) syrup by Pinx (www.PinxCatering.com)

Philippine ube “flower bread”

Picture is a small dish of super purple, ube “halaya”…sweet favorite of grated and mashed ube, cooked with milk (cooked by stirring, then stir, stir and then more stirring).  It is usually topped with bits of coconut curd.

We noticed at our local Filipino store, there are more products with ube flavoring!

Ube flavors snack companies

Ube flavor crackers and more

I was surprised to see ube flavored otap — a type of puff pasty popular in certain parts of the Philippines.  When I was a kid, otap was just plain otap, and now there is ube otap?

Ube is now in so many products…which confirms how much Filipinos love this food flavor.  Or again, maybe it is the color that reminds us of ube “halaya” and other traditional desserts, and food and snack manufacturers know we will likely try it.

What do you think?  Way too strange or…I’ll try that!

Related links:

Purple yam, Dioscorea alata (in cross-section above courtesy Deepugn – via blog In the Company of Plants and Rocks)

 

Blog post “Will the real yam please stand up”, from the blog, In the Company of Plants and Rocks.

Excerpt…Plants of the genus Dioscorea, the true yams, are perennial vines.  The yams themselves are root tubers…

 

Ube Flavor Ice Cream from Magnolia – Ramar Foods Intl.

 

 

Lolako’s Purple yam…or corn and cheese ice cream…anyone? On the unique, ice cream flavors from the Philippines.

 

 

Champorado – chocolate rice porridge

Champorado – chocolate rice porridge

And more of Lola Jane’s Filipino food posts:

  • Champorado origins – a chocolate rice porridge and favorite Filipino breakfast
  • Burgers…and Bangus?  Why the bangus fish is often thought of as a Philippine national symbol
  • About ginamos & tuyo…and can you bring in your luggage when traveling to the US
  • About Sinangag, and how much I missed rice while in boot camp in the US Air Force
  • Use of Banana Leaves in Filipino food

pumnpkin spice oreo cookies webAnd just as Philippine food companies use purple and ube flavors in more and more products, see this post about the pumpkin and pumpkin “spice” flavor trend in the U.S.

Tagalish SPICY McBites

I still don’t get why McDonald’s has these Tagalog / English — or “Tagalish” — ads in U.S. published, Philippine newspapers…well, aside from keeping those fast food dollars going to McDonalds, instead of Philippine fast food giant, Jollibee.

English, along with Tagalog is an official language in government, and most newspapers in the Philippines are published in ENGLISH.

It must be working for them.  Here is another one…this time, spicy chicken McBites.

Tagalish Spicy McBite Ad

Ad reads:

A different new taste in the flavor world.  New Spicy Chicken McBites from McDonalds — each bite of chicken brings unparalleled spicy taste.  Taste it soon as it is available only for a limited time.

View the rest of the Tagalish ads in Lolako’s category “Language and Advertising – Tagalish Ads”

I, too, speak, and write in Tagalish.  I do wonder though, as a Filipino-American, do these “Tagalish” ads make you feel like McDonald’s cares about your culture, or, knowing that the Philippines is the 3rd largest, English-speaking country in the world, do you feel insulted?

How long before print newspapers completely disappear?

I subscribe to our daily, local print newspaper, The Monterey County Herald.  Occasionally, I also read the Salinas Californian, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle (especially if I want to read SF 49ers coverage during football season).

Mostly, I read newspapers to keep up with local news, and to read about local events and businesses.  It makes me feel connected to my community.  Jeff also enjoys working on the daily Sudoku and crossword puzzles.

Photo by, and courtesy of Stefano Corso

My daily newspaper habit is one I will soon have to give up.

For one, reading news in a digital format is better for our environment (even though we recycle all our paper products!).   And two, with all the changes and restructuring we hear about in the newspaper industry, it seems that a move towards the digital-only world is inevitable.

For now though, I am not ready to give up my daily print newspaper habit, and cannot yet imagine reading all my news on-line.

I  also feel that my subscription supports the life of our local newspaper, especially as print newspapers make operational changes, or disappear completely.  Examples:

  • Denver’s Rocky Mountain News stopped operating in 2009
  • San Francisco Bay area newspapers that have folded in recent years include the Oakland Tribune, a daily newspaper that started in 1874.
  • East Bay newspapers like the Contra Costa Times (founded in 1947), Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald and East County Times have disappeared and re-branded as simply the Times (newspaperdeathwatch.com)
  •  The nation’s oldest newspaper,  the 175-year old Times-Picayune, recently announced staff reductions and a switch to a 3-day a week print schedule.
  • Some newspapers — like the Seattle Post Intelligencer — have ceased print operations and switched to digital, on-line ONLY format.

Retirees living in the Monterey Bay may prefer the familiarity of print newspapers, and that could keep print newspapers around here longer than other communities.  But, it is just a matter of time really, before all news outlets are in digital format only, and there will be no choice but to adjust to a new way of consuming news.

Blog post UPDATE: As of February, 2014, I no longer subscribe to our print newspaper…sigh :( and get most of my news on-line and through other sources.  Getting an easy to use / easier to read tablet, and the increasing cost of a newspaper that seems to get thinner with less content contributed to this decision

I imagine my grandsons as adults, remembering the old days of newspapers….

Grandsons racing to get newspaper delivery and mail, 2009.

“Hey Gabriel, remember when we use to argue over who would retrieve Lola’s newspaper, and then race outside to get it?  Can you believe they actually printed their news on paper during Lola’s time, and how outdated the news was by the time she read it?”

To which Gabriel responds “Oh yeah….they read OLD news.  I remember you use to ask Lola for the page with the ‘funnies’ and those word-find puzzles too, Kuya Jun.”

It is sort of like my memories of changing music formats…are you old enough to remember the 8 track tape, reel-to-reel, and cassettes for the Sony Walkman or boom box?  Even CDs are fast becoming obsolete, with the advent of the iPod and digital music downloads.

Engraving of printer using the early Gutenberg letter-press during the 15th century – artist unknown, via Wikipedia

Do you read your news in print format, on-line, or both?  Is your local paper still alive in the daily, print format?

Related Links: The transition to digital journalism – from KDMC, Knight Digital Media Center (UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism), and Wikipedia article on Publishing  

Environment tipping point…are we living in an age of irresponsibility?

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently published their 5th Global Environment Outlook – a 525 page report analyzing the world’s environmental situation.

And… it is no surprise that the situation does not look good.  Excerpt from the report by Jenny Barchfield (AP) via SFGate, UN report warns environment at tipping point:

…In a 525-page report on the health of the planet, the agency paints a grim picture: The melting of the polar ice caps, desertification in Africa, deforestation of tropical jungles, spiraling use of chemicals and the emptying out of the world’s seas are just some of myriad environmental catastrophes posing a threat to life as we know it.

“As human pressures on the earth … accelerate, several critical global, regional and local thresholds are close or have been exceeded,” the report says. “Once these have been passed, abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet are likely to occur, with significant adverse implications for human well-being.”

Such adverse implications include rising sea levels, increased frequency and severity of floods and droughts, and the collapse of fisheries, said the report, which compiles the work of the past three years by a team of 300 researchers.

The bad news doesn’t end there. The report says about 20 percent of vertebrate species are under threat of extinction, coral reefs have declined by 38 percent since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions could double over the next 50 years, and 90 percent of water and fish samples from aquatic environments are contaminated by pesticides.  

I don’t know about other print newspapers, but ours (The Monterey County Herald) had this news on Page 7, on June 7, 2012.

If our home —  the beautiful planet, Earth — is “being pushed towards their biophysical limits”, then this news deserves more attention.

If indeed, catastrophic changes are looming, then should this news be on the FRONT PAGE?

Our home is on the verge of major disaster, and we put the news on page 7???

We do not want to think about this, so do we just ignore this information…to our own peril?

It’s time to wake up everyone.  This is the collective problem of all inhabitants of our fragile planet!

Is it possible to CHANGE the health of our planet and to stop and reverse these distressing environmental trends?

From UNEP executive director Achim Steiner:  “This is an indictment.  We live in an age of irresponsibility that is also testified and documented in this report.

“In 1992 (when the first of the agency’s five reports was released) we talked about the future that was likely to occur. This report 20 years later speaks to the fact that a number of the things that we talked about in the future tense in 1992 have arrived,” Steiner said. “Once the tipping point occurs, you don’t wake up the next morning and say, `This is terrible, can we change it?’ That is the whole essence of these thresholds. We are condemning people to not having the choice anymore.”

Steiner called for immediate action to prevent continued environmental degradation, with its ever-worsening consequences.

“Change is possible,” he said, adding that the report includes an analysis of a host of environmental preservation projects that have worked. “Given what we know, we can move in another direction.”

Here is the newspaper article about the UN report, on page 7 of our  Monterey County Herald.

Are you thinking what I am thinking…is this all there is?  Come on, Monterey Herald!

Does the placement of this article speak to how we all feel about the environmental problems we collectively face?  To bury the already tiny mention, in the middle of the newspaper?

If you care at all about the state of the world we leave behind for our children and grandchildren, then we have no choice but to take responsibility for the problems we have caused, and act now…before we reach the tipping point.

Do you think there should be more coverage about this report?  Who is responsible for addressing these  environmental threats?

Tagalish Chicken McBites

And also, another multi-culture, “Tagalish” ad, with this new one from McDonald’s.

Except for the second sentence, the text is both in English and Tagalog for this ad.

Details read: Flavor so big, you will be surprised….Each bite provides delicious flavor…Taste the new Chicken McBites from McDonald’s before it’s gone.

Click here to view more Tagalish ads, in LolaKo’s Language & Advertising category.

Another green message placemat

Another paper placemat beverage ad, with a “green” message, this one spotted at one of our local Korean restaurants (and yes, lucky for Monterey Bay residents, we have a nice selection of Korean restaurants to choose from).

“You can always ask us for more.  Waste less for Earth.”

This time, the ad is for Hite, Korea’s largest beer company.

The previous one wasLOVE the earth, HATE the waste”, on a mat and ad for Jinro, a Korean soju beverage company (also owned by the company, Hite)

Click here for the accompanying article: Green message trends…soju and place mats.

Spring forward again – it’s Daylight Saving Time (DST)

It’s that time again, when we observe Daylight Saving Time (DST) and move an hour of daylight from morning to evening, by turning our clocks forward an hour.

More daylight to enjoy sight-seeing (photo of picturesque Pacific Grove, California)

I posted an article about DST in November last year — click here to view “The Story of Daylight Saving Time”.

The site WebExhibits is a good place to learn more about DST and has this interesting spelling and grammar article:

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time.

Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight. It is a saving daylight kind of time. Because of this, it would be more accurate to refer to DST as daylight-saving time. Similar examples would be a mind-expanding book or a man-eating tiger. Saving is used in the same way as saving a ball game, rather than as a savings account.

Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an ‘s’) flows more mellifluously off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.

Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved. Daylight Shifting Time would be better, and Daylight Time Shifting more accurate, but neither is politically desirable.

How many clocks do you have to change today?  Just smile and remember, DST is all about saving energy.

Picturesque Pacific Grove, California

Are we drowning in data…and can Cowbird connect us?

Founded by Jonathan Harris, Cowbird is a new form of storytelling and participatory journalism, on a multi-media platform.
We live with simply too much information these days…and we are overloaded with data.

At the same time, communication is getting shorter and shorter.  Is it because we have so much to communicate? And with so many  modern tools…are we connecting in a more meaningful way?

We have gone from crafting long, hand-written letters, to phone calls…to emails….to text and now, to tweets. Is another level of compressing our communication waiting to emerge, even shorter than tweets?  And if so, what will it look like?  Are we going to just use mono-syllabic words and just grunt at each other?

The comedian Jim Gaffigan has a comic bit about this, related to how we order fast food meals.  He jokes that since we have it down to uttering a number to get a meal…”#1″ or “#2″…will this next evolve (or in this case, is it devolve) to just grunts when ordering at the drive-up window?

I heard Jonathan Harris talk about Cowbird on the radio program To the best of our knowledge recently.   He is betting that we have compressed our communication so much that we need to go another direction to create something with more meaning, and a way of connecting our stories (and he believes that technology has not yet touched on connecting these stories).

And his project, Cowbird is a place on the Internet for just that…a place to connect and express ourselves in a deeper, more lasting, meaningful way.

It really is communication PLUS, because your personal story may be part of a larger “saga” and organized in a way that will touch millions, as a part of shaping and recording the human experience.

It is also a means to connect the stories behind and perhaps beyond the news events.

For example — here is the link to stories related to the Occupy Movement.  At the time of this post, there were almost 500 in this category.

Neat site — and a great idea by Jonathan Harris   What do you think?  Have you participated in Cowbird, or plan to?

 “Of all our truest hopes and desires for our work is that, what we find, we ourselves never knew. It came as a shock. It came as a surprise. It was new. We could never have known what we were going to do before we did it, and in that sense, we discover too. Here is what I’ve got to say to you: there are things in your life you will see; there are stories you will hear; if you don’t write them down, if you don’t make the picture, they won’t get seen, they won’t get told.” Emmet Gowin

Words have wings

I was listening to the radio on the drive home from San Francisco and heard this proverb from Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat:

Paròl gen zèl.” – words have wings (and she also said “words have feet”).

I have not heard this proverb or a similar one in English or Tagalog (Filipino).  The topic on the radio was “Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work”, and is on Edwidge Danticat’s reflections on art and exile, and what it means to be an immigrant artist.  It was produced by the Cambridge Forum.

Trail near water headed to the Pacific ocean, Andrew Molera State Park, Big Sur, California. A good place for contemplation, or thinking about a proverb or two...

I though of this proverb upon waking up today, and it is true, words do have wings.  In terms of something as basic as gossip, and writers and artist who change our thinking and our perception about the world through their art, words indeed do have wings (and feet).

And it turns out the Haitians have a rich menu of proverbs.  The website konbitkreyol.org — from the Haitian Student Organization at Florida Atlantic University — has a section of Haitian proverbs in Creole, with English translations.

Haitian proverbs are concrete sayings popularly known, repeated, and passed down through generations. During Konbit Kreyol’s general meetings proverbs are sometimes taught in “Creole 101″ mostly through skits performed by members.  Haitian proverbs express a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical.

Here are some interesting ones (of the many listed on the site):

  • Lang pa lanmè, men li ka neye-w.” — The tongue is not the sea, but it can drown you
  • Lè kabrit gen twòp mèt, li mouri nan solèy. — When a goat has too many masters (owners), it dies (tied) in the sun
  • Lespwa fè viv.”  — Hope makes one live…
  • Li pale franse.” — He speaks French. (so is likely is deceiving you)
  • Milat pov se neg, eg rich se milat. — A poor mulatto is black, a wealthy black is mulatto.
  • Pa pèdi founo pou yon sèl pen. — Do not lose your oven over just one bread.
  • Se sou pye mango chaje yo voye wòch.” — It is on the mango tree full of fruits that they throw stones.
  • Ou bat tanbou epi ou danse ankò.” — You beat the drum and you dance again.

Seagulls --- Monterey Bay, California