Thursday, January 26, 2017

Movie Review - Remember

Watched the movie "Remember" today.  Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau.  I had an idea of what it was about - a Jew survivor searching to kill a Nazi for a friend.

It was a great movie.  I knew it would be a little slow and mindful.  Christopher Plummer is not really a young actor anymore.  The movie starts with Martin sending off Christopher on a hunt for a Nazi soldier from Auschwitz.  What I did not realize before was that Christopher Plummer's character, Zev, has dementia, so he tends to forget all the time. So he keeps reading the letter Martin's character, Max, gave him, to revive his memory.

There were so many things that were good and some that bothered me during this movie.  When Zev goes to buy a gun, the seller just sells him the gun, fully knowing that Zev will not remember how to shoot the gun. Why? And this is where I have problem with gun violence in America.

The good part was that everyone shown was so helpful to Zev.  They realize he is old so they help him get his room, taxi etc.  This is the America I really like - I have always found Americans to be very helpful people.

The movie goes on as Zev is searching through four people who might be this Nazi.  His journey is interesting.  I did not have to use my remote to forward any part of the movie. I will not tell the ending as it is very interesting.

The other part that got me was what Zev's son went through. Zev left the nursing home without telling anyone and his son was so worried about him, looking everywhere, especially knowing that his father has dementia.  And all I could think of was my own parents.  I am so lucky to have parents who have all their mental faculties. I could feel the son's pain, because just for one day I had to find my parents. I knew their general location so I found them. But the the time that I was waiting to hear back from them was hard.

And lastly, I want to write a few words about the Holocaust.  I had not heard the extent of the Holocaust until I came to the USA.  Killing 6 million of any people is unbelievable. I will not even pretend to understand what the survivors went through.  However, it has been over 60 years now, Nazi are no more.  And they were given their homeland, Israel, which they consider holy land, by the support of Britain and USA. But how much longer will it keep getting welfare from USA? And how much land will they keep taking from the Palestinians?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump's nominations

I don't know why so many people have their panties in a twist over Trump's nominations.  All these people have been waiting for someone like Trump to validate their ideas at a national level. Now they have their chance.  Some of these nominations are not qualified for the job, some don't know what the agencies do that they are supposed to head which the others have vowed to dismantle the agencies they are going to head.  

We don't have any say in any of this because American people chose Trump to make that decision for them. Don't know if this is really all they wanted but they will get it. All the liberal, righteous people can stop with the preaching because we are minority now. Uneducated, ignorant and rich people will rule from now on and feel good about destroying this beautiful country. I will not say all nominations are ignorant - however I will say that no one wants to tick of the big boss, Trump!! Republicans have majority right now with the a republican president - they are not going to do anything to mess with the boss's directions.

There is nothing the democrats can do about these nominations.  The republicans have a majority and they will confirm all these nominations. All these confirmations are just a show. 

My worry about all this is what we are trying to teach our younger generation? That it is good to be ignorant - you will still be eligible for a job? That only money talks? You pay enough to a political party and that qualifies you for a job. That you don't really have to know what agency you are heading - you can still be considered for the job? That you don't need to be ethical to be a good human being? 

There is so much wrong with all this....

Monday, January 16, 2017

Movie Review - Gaslight

I finally saw "Gaslight".  Since everyone has been saying, "Trump is Gaslighting us", the movie has been on my list to see.

The movie stars Ingrid Bergman (one of my favorite heroins!) and Charles Boyer as the wife-husband couple. Charles (Gregory) systematically and slowly creates an atmosphere for Ingrid (Paula) where she starts believing she is crazy and forgetful.  He will move items, give her items and then ask her for them. He would decrease and increase the brightness of gas lamps at home and make her feel that she is the only one who can see the change in the brightness. So slowly she doubts everything she does. He isolates her completely from everyone.

Of course the motive is all about money! The ending of the movie is really good. For a 1944 movie, I was glued to the movie and did not want to miss any scene.  Ingrid Bergman earned an Oscar for her work in this.

Now I realize that yes, Trump really is Gaslighting us. He says one thing today and tomorrow will say it did not happen, even though it is recorded and he said it in public.  His advisers do the same thing. They change the meaning of his words and then ask us to look into his heart rather than listen his words. What nonsense!! His goal is to isolate all of us from each other and the world.  And of course his motive is all money and power.

Good movie!!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Critical Thinking

It seems like peoples critical thinking is disappearing.  Forget about analysis and deduction. We don't seem to have the patience to read anything.  We don't want our brains to hurt by thinking about anything.  Everyone just wants the answers......I will google anything but please don't make me think!! (I need my time to gossip and play on my phone!)

My students
This is the toughest group of all.  As a chemistry professor for so long, I feel that students take chemistry as a means to get to a goal - med school, pharmacy, vet school etc. What they think is, "If I could just pass chemistry I would get to the life I want."  Which for me translates into, "I am not really interested in this subject, just give me a C so I can move on to my next thing."  Well okay fine! But then at least memorize a little bit.  No they don't even want to make that effort.  Now it comes down to, "Just give me the answers.  I don't want to even bother memorizing because I don't need this stuff anyway."

This creates a very formidable atmosphere to teach in. Thank God there are a few good students who do care about the subject and performing well. Those are the ones who make it all worthwhile.

My Colleagues
Another tough bunch! They are just interested in only themselves.  No one looks at the big picture or creativity or applying themselves. The job for everyone has become more like, "I will impart the information I have been giving for the past years, in the same manner I have been doing and I will go home." Like a robot!

So many times I would like to have a discussion about how to make our students learn better, how to change our teaching methodology, how can we develop professionally while doing all this teaching - but no one has time to discuss.  I barely get to talk about the problems I am having and I feel my time is up.

I would love to have some more time to develop some new strategies for teaching, some new labs for students....but how much can I do alone? It is exhausting.

The People
What happened to them?? I started writing this blog a couple years ago and never got to finish it.  Now seems to be the perfect time to finish it. What happened to the public? Were they always this stupid? I think they were - they just revealed themselves this year. How can anyone elect a person with no character or decency? They showed how they can be swayed by fake news and a fake leader.  I am not just talking about USA 2016, I am talking about all over the world!

When we don't think critically or even just think...we all lose, as a society as people as human of the biggest thing that differentiates us from animals (besides the separate thumb) is our ability to think. And if we give up on that, then what do we have left?

Trump.....4-5 whatever

As the inauguration date is coming closer, I am getting more disheartened by what is going on in the politics.  The republicans have shown their true colors by doing a 180 on everything they did with Obama.  I got angry when they said they did not want to work with Obama, but to to blatantly support a man of no integrity and morals and putting him above country is beyond what I had expected.  It is close to treason.  This is not just politics anymore. It is not about the country it is simply personal and racist.

I cannot write everything that I want to on Facebook, even though I do want people to know how I am feeling. I am getting tired of thinking about the hypocrisy of this whole situation.  Trump is not my president because he is Republican - he is not not my president because he is not a good human being. Period. He has no decency, no morals, no respect, no business acumen (as people say he has) - he is still building on his father's name. He is just an angry white man who got elected by a whole bunch of other angry white people. All are out of touch with reality.

I agree with Rep. Lewis - Trump is an illegitimate president. Read here.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Joys and Perils of Living Single

I have been living along for 20 years now.  It is a loooong time to be alone.  Initially it was the job that took me to places where I had to be single, and then it was the job and destiny that kept me single.

My first single living experience was in Buffalo, NY, for one year.  I had an apartment to myself, I could do whatever I wanted, eat whatever I wanted and since it was my first "sort of real" job, I could buy whatever I wanted.  It was great! I decorated my place, bought the furniture I wanted (some of it made me overdraw on my account - but it was a lesson to be learnt). I learned the hard lesson of cleaning snow from my car and driving in the snow of Buffalo....still gives me the chills.

Second single living was in Vancouver, BC, Canada, again for about one year.  I had a nice little basement apartment, typical of Vancouver living.  I never felt lonely in Vancouver.  There was so much to do, life was all around me.  I had a few good friends to hang out with and the rest, I did not care. I went everywhere I could possibly go.  I did not know if I would ever come back there after leaving so might as well enjoy every moment of it. And I did! The only bad part was not having means to do laundry at home. I had to haul my laundry to a laundromat once in a while.

The longest single stay so far has been in Kansas City, MO - 11 years.  This, as Charles Dickens would start to say, was the best of times and the worst of times.  Academic life kept me busy for most part, I worked hard to get my promotion and tenure, but there was always time for fun.  I managed to take some evening classes, learned about computer science, web design, programming, candle making and yes.....candy decoration :-)  Every Indian friend of mine was married and eventually had kids.  I was lucky to have the best girlfriends who had wonderful husbands.  If it wasn't for them being good, I would not have been able to have an active social life. It seemed like I had three circle of friends; the Indian group, my academic group and my student-friend group. All of them kept me occupied one way or another.

Then came Winchester, VA, for two years. Winchester was the place where I really started watching more TV.  Work was limited to 12 credit hours of teaching.  I would be home by evening and then I would go to work out (diligently) and then.....nothing! I tried to have a little social life but there were three groups in this little city - the punjabis, the bengalis and the south Indians.  All with their own language and groups. The only hindi speaking person was a newly wed couple next door - and they were a little too lovey dovey for me to socialize with. I did do some touristy stuff there....but how long can that last for anyone?

Now I am at West Palm Beach. And as I took a walk in the Okeeheelee trail around the lake, I was thinking, "Wow! I was doing exactly the same thing 7 years ago! Nothing has moved in my life. Things may have gotten a little worse maybe. My pay has not improved, my working condition has gone down and my personal life sucks." So 7 years of complete nothing. Meanwhile, my friends have gotten married, have had babies, kids graduated, bought new homes and cars.....

As I am getting older, I have some more time to look back and see where I have been.  Of course I have more years behind to look at also! And as I am still single, I think about - "Is this really where I wanted to be when I was in my 40s."  I never in my wildest dreams thought I would still be single at this age.  All Indian girls get married by 26-28, so would I.  But ..... well that is another story (or blog).

The best part about living alone is the independence.  I get to chose what to do, what to eat, where to go, where to shop, when to shop, where to spend my money, what movie to see etc etc.  I am not responsible for anyone else but me...and the three plants I have at home.

The downside to living alone is the being "alone" part.  I have to make all my decisions - no one makes them for me, so I better be good at them.  I have to manage everything - domestic, academic, auto, travel etc all by myself.  Sometimes it is too tiring for me to even go and get the milk from the store....but I have to, or I will not get tea. The most boring part is not having friends like myself. At this age, I am limited to being with people I like - not just because I "need" to hang out. All girls my age are married, have kids it's little hard to socialize sometimes.

I spend a lot of time with my lovely TV. Writing has become my new hobby. The laptop is literally attached to my lap now. I do get to do innovative things that I would not do if I was with someone because I may not get time to think as deeply as I do now.

In short, I would say, life has been good.  Not great....just good. I have tried to do my best in my circumstances with my brain power. I have no regrets so far. I have stood by every decision I have made and I still believe that I am better off single than in a bad relationship. Loneliness hurts sometimes, but with being with a person who hurts you all the time it's worse.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

I just finished reading this book by Picoult.  She is an amazing story teller.  Her books always keep me engaged and I finish them sooner than any other author’s books.  

This book is about racism in America.  The problem is too big to tackle but she takes small steps in trying to understand the other person’s perspective, in a very nice way.  The book revolves around a black nurse who is asked not to touch the baby of a white supremacist parent.  At one point the nurse is alone with the baby and the baby dies.  What happened? The white supremacist parents sue the hospital which promptly throws the black nurse under the bus. The black nurse hires a white lawyer and together they go through this journey of litigation. 

It is a really interesting book.  It shows how we go through life without noticing things.  We take so much for granted – like turning on the light at night.  We take electricity for granted but ask that person who does not have electric power.  Similar is our daily life with the color of our skin. We generally go through life being oblivious about our skin color.  When we travel to a very different country than ours then we might think about it.  But otherwise…not really. 

On the other hand, some of us are conscious about our skin color every second of the day.  Depends who you are and where you are! People may call it a “chip on the shoulder”, but that chip got there for a reason.  People are treated differently because of the color of their skin. And we get so tired of it that we come 110% conscious of it. 

I grew up in Nigeria for eight years – from 6-12th grade.  All that time I was made fully aware that I was the foreigner in that country. Since I was about 8 years old, I was interacting with local kids, in school or playing in the evening.  There were just a few times that I felt comfortable in my skin.  Otherwise I was always aware that I was a foreigner. Nigerian kids would say things to tease me, pull my hair or make other jokes that I had to bear growing up. (Kids are cruel to each other everywhere – why?).

Same thing happened in Ethiopia.  We had privileges that the locals did not. Sometimes I felt bad and sometimes I felt good that I was a foreigner because I was treated differently.  USA also is a place where I have experienced racism.  It was not expected. I had always thought America was free and open and welcoming, so it was quite the shock.  But as I have been living here longer, I am realizing how deep racism is in America.

Well…the learning still goes on.  Globalization is increasing, people are moving all around the world and there are lot of adjustments to be made. With each generation come new challenges …and new hope.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Root of the Problem

Remove the root of the problem not the people who “use” the problem – guns, heroin. That is ignoring the problem.

The shootings are happening all the time.  There is no place that is off limits except the House and Congress because they don’t allow guns - how selfish of them!  But otherwise guns are everywhere. No place is safe anymore.  The mall, the airport, schools, university campuses – anywhere….The 2nd amendment supporters will say we need more guns so we can kill the people who are killing.  I don’t see any example of that.  So, a good guy with a gun is nowhere when a bad guy with the gun appears.  Of course, the answer is – everyone should be armed so one can shoot to kill at any time.  Wow! What a society we are raising.  Learning to shoot – all the time be on our guard so we can kill anytime!! I thought that is why we had the police/law enforcement.  But the police are so damn scared that they would rather shoot an unarmed person.  And if there is a shooter on premise then the whole army of police will show up! Ridiculous. So, there is a great imbalance and nonsense going on here. 

The 2nd amendment promoters have tried to arm everyone – and it’s working.  The shootings are happening more often and more human beings (and animals) are dying.  I wish just for two years they will try an experiment where only the police or law officials had guns. No citizen would have a gun. The need to kill for people does not go – one can kill with knives also, but less people can be killed by knives than with one single gun.  Just for two years – try the experiment.  If we have more gun violence in those years, then I will myself lobby for the gun industry.

The second issue that this bothering me a lot is this heroin epidemic.  More people are dying from heroin overdose than guns.  Officials are trying to study why people are doing drugs….NO…try to find out where they are getting the drugs from and shut that pipeline down.   But that is too difficult.  WHY?? I feel corruption and lack of effort are the answers. 

Regarding as to why people are doing drugs.  America is becoming too dependent on the drug industry – and now I mean the pharmaceuticals.  Any little pain, disorder and they run to the doctor for a pill.  And now many states have legal or medical marijuana available in their states. Oh well…that is a perfect recipe for addiction.  For a nation that is drug starved this is the perfect storm.  The pharmaceutical companies will soon start getting into the marijuana business also!  

Then we will just be a drug addicted-gun totting country out to kill anyone who disagrees with us on whether guns and pain killers are good for you or not.  Meanwhile Trump and his cronies will make all the money, there will be no money for healthcare – so all these people will die early (as the white women already are because of depression and drug overdose). I don’t know where this country is going.  I thought America was the greatest country in the world – what happened to being smart? Being ahead in technology and development? How can a foreign entity sway such a huge nation as USA??  Are we really that dumb? 

Well…. apparently so!

Building Walls and the Willfully Ignorant

Build friendships not walls. Be informed not remain ignorant.

It really bothered me when Trump started his campaign with building a wall between Mexico and USA.  What?? It just showed what kind of leader he was going to be – divide and conquer.  Well the conquer he has done – the division is working slowly. Things really have not gotten any better in his behavior (for me) – I still feel he is a vile hateful and vindictive human being. I don’t think my paycheck will get any better with him as a president – I think I will be paying more in health insurance (no ACA anymore) and my taxes will go up (to pay for that darn wall).  Neither of these things will benefit the people who voted for him but meanwhile all of us will suffer.  It is amazing how quickly he has alienated so many people in this one year. He has created fear and uncertainty.  I used to feel safe and free in this country – but not anymore.

The people who supported Trump are willfully ignorant.  All they want is a white man back in the “white” house.  How could a black man live in their “white” house! The women have so much more to grow. They would support a sexist, racist etc etc man in the house than a white woman who is generally balanced and will do only good for the country.  There is so much going on here that I cannot put into words.  We as women have a lot to grow and support each other in general.  There are multiple problems here – one I think is women have been dominated and controlled by men for so long that it will take them a long time to get out of that control. Especially the white man.  He is the most privileged man on this earth.  

One day all is going to fall apart and suddenly we will realize that we are all together in this world. All of us have something to offer, we are all in this together.  The earth does not belong to the richest – they just claim their stake on it. One day – it will all change!

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Human beings need support of each other: physical, emotional or financial, whatever kind, but we cannot exist in isolation.

For the first 25 years of my life, I felt the on and off support of many people in my life - my parents, aunts, uncles, my brother and of course my friends. But this support did not come with love or dedication. It came as a responsibility and duty and that is where it ended. There was no heart or love in it. I always knew I had a home somewhere in this country or the other, but I did not feel that I belonged anywhere. Every home was a stop to somewhere else. I was like a gypsy.

After 25 years when I graduated with my PhD I really did start to become isolated.  I started living on my own and without revealing too much...its been a loooong time. The first three-four years were hard, since I was moving so much and settling in new places. It is hard to make friends and develop a support system.

I became financially independent since 25 (actually since 21, but graduate student living was below the poverty line - no savings!). I have not needed money from anyone since then. And that I am really happy about. I will never give up this independence.

Emotional and physical support have been hard to come by.

At home it has been hard to find support. There were challenges on every turn - especially where my marriage was concerned (which is a big deal for any girl). Whether it was - when to get married or to whom to get married to, or what kind of a guy was right for me, and then later after I gave up and got married to the next guy I met (big mistake!) then....staying married or getting divorced. There was no support from my old friends or family when I was getting divorced. During the hunt for a guy, during the marriage, during the divorce, everyone was thinking only about themselves. No one was thinking about me. I felt completely isolated. The couple new friends who helped me through those tough times will forever have my gratitude.

My friends have been my strength for me in all my gypsy years. I have managed to make good connections wherever I have lived and I still have maintained some of those connections (some get lost in time). I can count the number of my close friends on one hand. It is hard to trust anyone these days. People have their own motivations for making friends. I will not hang out with a group of 15 people and call them my friends - I need my 2-3 close friends who I can talk to heart to heart over a cup of tea. I can usually tell in a few meetings whether I can trust a person or not - although my heart and trust have been broken a couple times.

Work has been equally challenging. Every place that I have worked at - there has been a female chemist colleague who has sabotaged me - once an american Caucasian and once a Vietnamese, once a Chinese-Nicaraguan. WHY? I don't know. I knew it was happening and I would go to my bosses to ask for their support, but nothing happened. No support. It got so stressful for me that I had to change my job each time to get away from these females. But there is no running away for me. I just don't know what it is about me that makes them hate me so much. And yet again, I have a boss who does not have the guts to support me.

And then.....*cue in the angelic music*....a male colleague stands up for me. For the first time in my life I feel vindicated. I did not realize that this is how it feels when someone believes in you and stands up for you. No one has ever believed in me for anything. All the time when I was crying out for support at so many times in my life - no one was there. But now - someone believes me. I don't know what the outcome will be, but it felt really good to have someone on my side, for once in my life.

I think all this lack of support for so many years, compounded by living alone (in so many places) for so many years has made me different person. I look inward to solve my problems. I don't talk easily to people about my problems - what is the point? No one understands my situation like I do. Most people are also not interested in listening - they have their own issues and most people don't have time for anyone.

But I know the value of support. I hope I have stood up for people when they needed me to, I hope I have supported my friends in whatever way they needed - financial, emotional, mental, professional :-)

When I think about what I would want in a good friend or from a person I trust - it is unconditional support. And usually unconditional support is packaged with unconditional love, trust and honesty. Of course it has to be reciprocated. I will not break anyone's trust and faith they have placed in me. That is the ultimate betrayal.