Crowdfunding campaign for research on novel Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s therapies

A fellow bloggers brother is crowd funding for a very worthy cause! Please read, give, and/or share!

The Blackberry Boys

My brother is doing a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for research on novel Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s therapies. Please watch his introduction and please support this important cause (if you are able to). Or share it. Thank you.

He is the founder and owner of Gardedam Therapeutics, an early-stage biotechnology company engaged in cutting-edge research and therapy development for neurodegenerative diseases.

Gardedam Therapeutics is a privately held, preclinical stage start-up biotechnology company founded by Gergely Tóth, Ph.D., MBA in Palo Alto, California (USA) in 2009. Gardedam Therapeutics has operations in the USA, Hong Kong and Colombia. The launch of the company was enabled by support from and partnership with Graffinity Pharmaceuticals (now Novalix) and C. Rochet, Ph.D. at Purdue University. In 2010 and 2013, in collaboration with C. Rochet Ph.D., the company was awarded two distinct grants by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for a total of US $150,000…

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“Who I Am and Why I’m Here”

My mom has started a blog and is looking for some feedback on how to get started and hone her craft. Would all you lovely people out there read her post and let her know what your thoughts are in the comments? Thanks!

Much to Be Thankful For!

Okay, I may be a a complete dork but after watching “Julie and Julia” I was really really enthused about starting a blog but was not sure what to blog about.
My first attempt started as a travel blog to share our trip to France with our family and friends at home. I was not at all proficient (understatement) at blogging or accessing the internet easily in France.

When we returned home the desire to blog didn’t leave but I had no idea what to blog about. I do a bit of online journalling that is private but my hope was that I might be able to write something that would be of encouragement or source of some joy for other or perhaps build an online community of people with similar hobbies or interests. I admit, my first post on dealing with menopause was not that vehicle! :0) But, the…

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Hey all,

Just a quick note/request for those of you that were subscribed to our blog. We may have lost your subscription during the move and we’d really appreciate it if you’d use the form at the site ( to resubscribe!

Thanks all!

Wednesday Write-Up: The Sound of Drills Gives Me Chills

Dentist extracting tooth.

I just was in one of the most feared places that most people could imagine. The DENTISTS office!!! Yes, that’s right, I have returned from a dentist’s office once more in my lifetime and am still alive!

A couple of weeks ago, I was carelessly inhaling eating a soft cookie, when a part of a rather large filling in my back tooth seemed to dissolve into nothing. I was flabbergasted and a bit anxious as I looked in the mirror and saw an actual hole in my back tooth. I calmed myself down with another cookie and decided to call a dentist the next day.

There is a Facebook group here in Phuket called the Phuket New Era Expats that is a wonderful resource for getting other expats help with anything on the island. I promptly put up a post about what torturer dentist is most liked in my area. I got many recommendations for a place called 32 Dental Clinic which happens to be a 5 minute drive from my house. I decided to go with them, but never called to make an appointment. Why do today that which could be done many tomorrows later?

With the thought that we are leaving for the States in 10 days, I figured I should get my tooth fixed before we go home where dental care costs every cent you will ever make for the rest of your life much more. I finally called yesterday and made an appointment at 32 Dental Clinic for today.

This evening, I was a bundle of exposed nerves (thank God not the nerves of my tooth… root canals are truly my worst nightmare and I never want to have one done… EVER!) and was admittedly mildly panicking as I walked into the office to the sound of screams drills and that weird smell that only a dentist’s office has. Seriously, does every dentist in the world have the same air freshener, or is it the sweet smell of fear from the hundreds of patients coming and going? I don’t know, maybe a dentist reads this blog and can answer this question. I think we would all like to know…

I filled out my paperwork and was ushered immediately into a clean and modern looking exam room. I spoke with the dentist, Dr. Lee, and told her what had happened. She leaned me back, took a look, and gave me a couple of options. I love a healthcare provider that will sit with you and explain all the options and be understanding when you ask questions, like… “What do you have to do to place a crown?”, or “Can you just give me general anesthesia to do this dental work”, or my favorite question for the dentist, “You don’t have to do a root canal, do you?” as I lay in the chair sobbing my eyes out.

I am exaggerating, no tears were shed in the dentist’s chair today, well, at least not by me. I took the option to fill the tooth again (it should last 2-4 years… long enough for me right now). She immediately sat me back and I tried to appear at ease as the dental assistant placed a blue cloth over my whole face with only a hole for my mouth. All I could do was shut my eyes and wait for the impending injection of Novocaine and hope and pray that it would go smoothly.

I heard the drill and grabbed the blue clothe off my face and asked with just a little tremble in my voice if she was going to use Novocaine. She chuckled and said that she was just cleaning the remaining filling and I wouldn’t feel a thing. The drill sounded again as I settled into the chair and literally five (yes, 5!) minutes later she handed me a mirror to show me my beautifully filled tooth! I thanked her profusely and went to pay the bill.  From the time I entered the office until I walked out the door, was 18 minutes. I am not exaggerating at all, I actually timed it!

The total bill for the painless fix on my tooth was 824 baht ($25.57 US), WITHOUT INSURANCE! Back in my hometown, my copayment for a cleaning was $40 US with insurance! Something seems wrong with that, but that is a topic for a person with far more knowledge in that area than I. Regardless, I know where I will be getting all my dental work from now on. Thailand, you rock, yet again!

Now it’s your turn to tell me… How do you feel about the dentist? Would you travel to a foreign country to get dental work done on the cheap?

Wednesday Write-Up: Reality Check

I had a whole blog post written in my head about how rough this week has been for me. How I was able to put a positive spin on my troubles and hardship. I cannot do that now. I cannot speak about how hard it has been for me to have to bathe in our pool, eat amazing Thai food, and sit in our fanned or air-conditioned house. Yes, we haven’t had running water in the house for almost a week, but we are still living very well. Just even writing this makes me feel like a total heel, but I feel it is important to be honest.

It is sad how self-involved I can be sometimes. Especially as so many are suffering in the aftermath of Super-Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. I cannot even begin to understand, let alone write about here, the devastation and turmoil those in the Philippines are struggling through right now. The news and photos on the internet scare me and pull at my heart. A fellow blogger at Journeys of the Fabulist posted about some blogs that she follows that have the inside story (Thanks B!).

I really liked Charly’s Blog, written by a gentleman who was born and raised in the Philippines. Charly has been relaying survivors stories and updates on what is actually happening there. His writing brought tears to my eyes.

Another blog, Fascinations of a Vanilla Housewife, is written by a woman in the Philippines who made it through the storm unscathed and has some excellent links to ways that one can help.

Please check these blogs out and do what you can to help those that have lived through this massive natural disaster. I hope you will also join me in praying (or sending good thoughts) for this country that has been hit hard this year. Now I am now going to research ways that I want to donate and help, while slinking away with my tail between my legs and joyfully preparing to take a bath in our pool.

Monday Montage: Maiden Voyage

I have been thinking for a while now that I would like to add another day to my scheduled blog posts. The problem was that I couldn’t decide on what I should do with it. Then the other day, I was out and about and I started texting my Mom pictures of the things I saw as I went about my day. The pictures I sent her were not of tourist attractions or monuments, they weren’t even that clear, they were just blurry idea’s of what I was seeing at that moment. I realized that I wanted people to see what I see normally while we are traveling, not just the “sights”.

I am hoping that this will this give you, my wonderful readers, a chance to see more of what I see of the places we go. My photography skills leave much to be desired at this point, but bear with me, a by-product of the Monday Montage will be that it will make me take more pictures every day and because of that hopefully my smartphone photography will improve.

So here it is, the maiden voyage of Monday Montage. I hope that you enjoy seeing our journey as well as reading about it on Wednesday and Friday. Thanks again for following along on our adventures!

Our neighborhood park

Our neighborhood park

Wuxing Street on a rainy day

Wuxing Street on a rainy day

My favorite breakfast place down the street from our house. These ladies make the best cheese dan bing (a savory crepe, a slice of american cheese and an egg rolled up and covered in miso syrup) around.

My favorite breakfast place down the street from our house. These ladies make the best cheese dan bing (a savory crepe, a slice of american cheese and an egg rolled up and covered in miso syrup) around.

An advertisment I saw while walking. Did you know that everyone shops here while wearing pink wigs?... Neither did I!

An advertisment I saw while walking. Did you know that everyone shops here while wearing pink wigs?… Neither did I!

The Core Pacific Living Mall at night

The Core Pacific Living Mall at night

Wednesday Write-Up: Same Same but Different

This week has been one of quiet contemplative stress for me. On Saturday we are leaving Lisbon for Paris, France. We are taking Zoë to Disneyland Paris for her second birthday (one more Disney park off the list!) as a surprise. Yes, I know she probably won’t remember it, but she will see the pictures later and know that her parents were awesome and spoiled her rotten (right?!). Lisbon is so much like our home town that it has been easy to acclimate to being so far away from what we know and are used to. For this reason, among others, I am a bit sad to be leaving, but I really do feel that we need to explore Europe a bit more.

There are many similarities between Portugal and Sonoma County, California, such as the landscape, the weather, and the wine (although I have to say I like the wine here better, and only have to pay 2 Euros for a bottle—sorry Sonoma County). The biggest difference I have seen between Portugal and Sonoma County is the family friendliness.

Many of you parents out there may never have experienced this, but when I was living in America I was sometimes shunned from places because I was toting along a child. On any given day, I can peruse my Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest feed and I will see parents apologizing for bringing their children along with them, whether it be to a restaurant, or on a airplane flight (seriously… those people that made up candy bags for the whole plane apologizing for taking their babies on the plane thats viral on Pinterest…I just want to slap them…thanks for starting that trend lady).

I can’t really blame those parents for wanting to apologize though, because at the same time, there are people complaining about parents bringing their children to those places. It is a strange conundrum that American parents find themselves in. Everyone seems to love that you are having kids, but then once you have them you are supposed to hide them away, only letting them emerge from their room to go to an educational play date or a labeled child area, such as a park or playground. And if you decide to take your child everywhere with you, which I did, you had to be prepared for rolled eyes, sarcastic and rude remarks, and an overall feeling of being unwelcome whether your child was being a perfect angel or was throwing a full blown tantrum.

Being here in Portugal, I have had to deal with some post traumatic stress from my time raising Zoë in California. I am incredibly careful, to the point of paranoia, about Zoë making noise in a restaurant (heck, even taking her into a restaurant made me grind my teeth preparing myself for the looks) or running around the table while Chad and I finish our espresso when we finish a meal. When I would go grocery shopping, I would freak out that Zoë would grab something off the shelf, which I would then have to remove from her steel grip, causing a tantrum and I would have to leave the store red-faced and shamed.

What I have found in this lovely country, is that people love your child(ren) and want you to take them with you. More often than not, we will get frowns when walking into a restaurant, and as soon as they see our little curly haired cutie, their faces light up and the rest of the time we are there, they try to engage and entertain Zoë. She often leaves with a piece of candy or a lollipop, I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t stick to the “she will have no sugar until she is 2 years old” plan we had before she was born. Regardless, people seem to love children here and I have not had one eye roll or rude remark since being here. My parental PTSD is abating now with the therapy of family values in this wonderful country.

Something else that is different that goes along with the family friendliness here, is that the safety rules are a bit different from America. If someone was to give Zoë a piece of candy back home, I would tell her not to eat it, but to let me check it first. You can never be too safe when it comes to razor blade and drug laced candy back home. Here, in Lisbon, and the rest of Portugal for that matter, it seems a non-issue, everyone gives her candy, from the fruit vendor to the restaurant owner. It’s just what is done here, with no ill-will, but just to make your kid happy. I like this difference. This makes me feel that Zoë is safe and that I am able to keep her safe. The bad guys are not so prevalent here (I know that there are bad guys everywhere, but I seriously doubt someone will give her an LSD laced sticker here).

It will be interesting if we ever go back home to beautiful Northern California, how will I teach Zoë not to speak to ANY strangers, when here I tell her she should always respond with a hearty “Olá” when someone addresses her. You will have to tune in and see what happens with that, because, honestly, I have no idea how I will make the distinction to her as she grows older.

This culture has so many similarities to Sonoma County California, but still the differences are noticeable. These differences are why I love to travel…I want to see what the world holds for me, what different cultures deem as acceptable and as taboo. I crave this change of culture, scenery, and especially food (you knew I would mention food at some point right?!). More adventures to be had in the near future and more stories to tell you! Thank you all for reading!

London Calling

“London calling, now don’t look to us/Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust” The Clash – London Calling


A gate in front of Buckingham Palace ©

Welcome to a 12-hour blitz tour of London. This is not a trip that was taken with children. No, in fact it was a brutal hike around the sights, over long walks, through the bitter cold (it was snowing even), and not an in depth affair. It involves diving into subway tunnels, catching subways, (did I mention long hikes?) and only stopping to catch a bite or a beer and continue on our way.

This was a scouting affair, perhaps for a longer ordeal, and I kept my eyes peeled for just how it may be once we are abroad as a family unit. But this was business, in fact on a business trip, with a coworker, and we were determined to cram the metropolis of London into a single day.

“Anarchy for the UK/It’s coming sometime and maybe” Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the UK


The London Eye – ©

I flew into England on a Tuesday, mid-day, and made my way to the hotel room. Jet lag wasn’t too bad, partially because I was able to sleep, and partially because I used No-Jet-Lag. No-Jet-Lag is a great homeopathic remedy that aids in digestion, discomfort, and the general feelings of being forced into an unfamiliar sleeping pattern. In addition my little daughter has a knack for keeping us awake at night and I was so exhausted on the flight I simply passed right out.

The rest of the week was uneventful, we were staying in the small town of Kettering, about an hour north of London, and it is primarily an industrial city. It has a spectacular, beautiful church, but not much else in the way of culture. So I was very anxious to have the weekend to explore London.

We had a car, and originally I was planning on hitting up London fairly frequently. But that was before the realization of working long days in a foreign country became my reality. Plus I heard that traffic is intense in the city, and I was fairly sketchy with the left hand driving.

Fortunately my coworker had taken the train to London before, and knew how to navigate, and purchase our tickets beforehand. We had to purchase tickets on the East Midlands train line, either first class or main cabin, and they ran about 95 Pounds for a two-way ticket. Of course that was off peak and during the week they run quite a bit more… around 120 quid.

“It looks like King’s Cross station. Except a lot cleaner and empty, and there are no trains as far as I can see.” Harry Potter


Kings Cross Station – ©

The train arrives into St. Pancras Station. It is a beautiful station, directly next to and attached by tunnel, walkway, and tube to the better-known Kings Cross Station. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see the 9 ¾ platform, because it was a busy and rather confusing terminal. There are many signs and directions but it is an organized mess, and one that those in the know shuffle through in an almost magical way. The rest of us, the tourists, and there are many, simply stare in confusion at their guidebooks, wall-guides or shuffle up to the counter to ask for assistance.

The best advice I can give at this point is to make sure you have purchased an unlimited daily tube pass. Make sure it is for the 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 zones, which refer to the different areas of London that the tube travels along. These are of primary interest to tourists, as they go to the most popular areas and cover the most visited sites.


The Tube. Go check out the site for details.

Once we alighted from the train we decided to step outside and take a look around. It was snowing. Being from California, the only time I like the snow is when I am  well prepared, and perhaps snowboarding. I do not like standing in skinny jeans, with a hoodie, and a thin pleather jacket as my only defense. Needless to say I was shivering in seconds and walking like a madman to our first destination.

We had heard the British Museum was fairly close to Kings Cross, so we decided to go there first. They had a display on ancient Egypt that both my coworker and I were keen to see. Normally I am not much of a museum traveller. I prefer to see what the country that I am in has to offer. Museums could be anywhere, and they have exhibits that could be seen everywhere. In my opinion the world is a living museum. I’ll save the dead civilizations for when I am somewhere less interesting… But this was an exception, a good starting point and, more importantly, out of the snow.


British Museum. Outside/Inside. Awesome ceiling.  ©

I have to say, a quick journey through the British Museum only touched upon the awesomeness it contained. I strongly advise a visit if you get the chance and are into that sort of thing. It has FREE admission and it is open from 10-5:30 weekdays, and until 8:30pm on Fridays. It is excellent for children; I saw many of them, in strollers, toddling along, and in their parent’s arms. Check out the website for the list of current activities.

We spent about an hour there, and then had the realization that to really explore and see all there is to see, we would have to have a dedicated day unto itself. So we rushed out, wanting to catch the rest of London before the day was through.

We made our way back to Kings Cross and headed toward London Bridge by way of the tube. We had heard rumor of a the Boroughs Market, which is a “farmers market” in the loosest sense of the word. If you have ever been to Portland for their weekend market, or any of the other great foodie/farmers/weekend markets you will know that there are great ones and good ones. After struggling through the crowded market, with a mulled wine in hand, and unable to purchase food past the crowded lines, we gave up. And rated this a sub-par market…

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You can’t see through the tourist’s heads… ©

On our way out we went looking for food. Hoping to find a nice English pub with some delicious warm vittles to sate our appetites. Fortunately close by was a pub, with delicious pies, (I had a cilantro, chicken, sun dried tomato one), and it was in an old bank. Simply awesome, and they brewed their own beers, as many do… But unfortunately I simply can’t find the info of where we went.


“Ring out, Market Bell, for the fruit of the earth!” Southwark Cathedral Blessing

The day was fast flying by; it takes a long time to see a lot. So we were anxious to continue. Since the Southwark Cathedral was on our way across London Bridge, we decided to step inside.


I may be a man of faith, but I am not a religious man. By that, I am not usually interested or affected by the pomp and circumstance of organized religion. But I have to tell you, entering a cathedral, (though sneering at the “suggested” donation of two pounds. 4… if you wanted to take pictures) and hearing the chamber choir singing toward the vaulted ceiling, I was immediately struck to the core. Below my feet lay the dead saints, resting their bones in solitude, and around me was a building dedicated to God. I couldn’t help but be struck by the beauty and the grandeur, even while being aware of the cost of such a building. Both in money and the blood of the peasants who put forth their pennies to men who claimed to hold the key to heaven. Despite that, I was still blown away at the devotion of said believers and their fervent desire to please God. I was even a little choked up at the sounds and the vision of such a “holy” sight.

It was short lived and we made our way out of the building. Realizing that the day was once again passing quickly. We rushed across the bridge, confused by which one was in fact London Bridge, (hint: it’s the least assuming and ugliest), and hurried toward the more interesting tower bridge.

There is a walk that goes along the north side of the river, and is quite beautiful, even if cold in the middle of February. It winds between the different bridges and we eventually arrived around 4:30pm at the Tower of London.


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The Tower- Full of Ghosts – ©

This was the sight I was unprepared for… Any pictures I post are poor representations, though I tried to capture it with my panorama feature of my iPhone. I had to leave my camera behind at home, as I had to carry too many technical items for work…

This historical sight will forever linger in my mind. The sight is far more than a tower, it is in fact a monumental castle, and one that has permanently altered and affected western history in ways that will be forever felt.

Staring at the walls, I couldn’t help but think of the sheer madness of America’s founding fathers. The fact that they could defy the crown, and the empire, and the history of their world… It simply must have been unthinkable. This castle, an image of the power that was controlling the world for hundreds of years, must have been even more formidable when it was a living, breathing thing.

We had even decided to spend the £20.90 to enter, and take the tour. However, buyers beware, the castle closes at 4:30pm. An unfortunate turn of events, and one that we were forced to face as we were simply too late to enter.

After a few turns around the castle, and staring in awe at the walls that hold haunted halls, we decided to carry on. A quick turn about tower bridge and we were on our way toward Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.


Tower Bridge. Disneyland style crowds. ©

Sadly, we encountered a frustrating turn of events: The circle line that runs to the St. James and Victoria stops was out of commission. This meant more walking, in the bitter cold, to a different line, further away.

I will save the reader the confusion of the journey, as it was a rare weekend in which we travelled. And usually the line that runs to these locations is convenient and easy. For parent’s with kids it is usually an easy jaunt. Even with strollers.

“Panic on the streets of London/Panic on the streets of Birmingham/I wonder to myself/Could life ever be sane again ?” The Smiths – Panic


 Eventually we made it up the Victoria line to Green Park station. It was a beautiful walk through there, the quietest park in London, at least when it’s cold out, and we reached Buckingham Palace.

To be honest, I have no respect for royalty (American independence beat into my brain?) and I really found the palace underwhelming. The beefeaters, (those that guard the palace), were stoic, and the changing of the guard only happens ever other day at 11:30 am during off season. Good to know if you go out for that sort of thing.

It was dusk at this point and we realized we were close to Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament, where Big Ben resides.

We made our leisurely way past the signs for the Princess Di memorial walk, around St. James park and down toward the final sights of our trip.


Westminster Abbey was phenomenal; I want to go back when I can go in, and with my ladies by my side. But the real treat was the final sight as night set in. As we turned the corner we could just see the glowing clock, lit up as it has been throughout history. And I honestly wondered if we would see Peter Pan, flying by with Tinkerbell, and straight on till morning….

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ” Peter Pan


We lingered on, staring at Big Ben as the night ticked on. It was only with the chiming of the clock that we were startled out of our gaze. As we turned we could just see the Eye of London, the giant wheel that is London’s newest visual addition, and we remembered that we were indeed back in modern times.

We made our way back, somewhat tired and subdued, to Kings Cross station. I departed from my coworker and called up a local friend. The rest of the night was spent checking out Camden. It is London’s hip and yet run down side of town, but one that is great to experience… without the kids. Definitely not kid-friendly. But fun. Yes… fun…

That was my less than 24 hour tour. I have more notes I may add later but that is all for now. Feel free to ask any questions, and I will be glad to respond…