Have You Seen Banana Trees Growing in Your Place?

Sunday, March 31, 2019
Banana trees in Louisiana, USA

I am fairly sure that all of us have eaten banana. Banana is one of the most consumed fruits in the world. The top five of rank are following:

1. Tomatoes, consumed about 171 million ton yearly
2. Banana, consumed about 114 million ton yearly
3. Watermelon, consumed about 111 million ton yearly
4. Apples, consumed about 85 million ton yearly
5. Grapefruit, consumed about 84 million ton yearly

Surprisingly, banana is the most favorite fruit in America. An American eat more than 27 pound (12.3 kg) per year, and each household buys a banana once a month, at least. 

Bananas come from Latin America countries such as Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras. They export to other countries, including European countries as well.

Top 5 banana importers are following:
1. United States, imported value is US$ 2.8 billion.
2. Belgium, imported value is US$ 1.4 billion.
3. Russia, imported value is US$1.1 billion.
4. Germany: imported value is US$1 billion.
5. Japan, imported value is US$850.8 million

As we understand that banana grows in hot temperatures, especially in tropic regions. The question is: Have you seen banana trees growing in your place or in America or in Europe?

What are Coconut Shell and Husk used for?

Saturday, March 30, 2019
Cactus in the coconut shell and husk

People in South East Asia countries processed coconut shell to make a kind of charcoal. Coconut charcoals not only to be used as fuels (cook traditional foods, goldsmith and industrial uses), but also as ingredient of beauty products.

Coconut husk could be extracted to make coconut fibre (coir). Coir then proceed to make brushes, mattresses and mats (doormats and floor mats). The business usually run by home industries or small scale industries.

Another flower vase

Coconut coir also attract attention from growers of hydroponic systems. Coir is good to maintain water to oxygen ratio, and support the roots of hydroponic plants.

We use coconut shell and husk for handcrafts, one of them is a flower vase. You can see photos of flower vases at above. Actually, we can grow any kind of flowers. In this case, we plant a cactus only.

Do you know about coconut shell and husk?

What is the fastest Racing Motorcycle a 100 Year Ago?

Friday, March 29, 2019
1911 Triumph motorcycle, credit to YouTube.

I used to ride motorcycle a long time ago, around 20 years ago. I remember that my motorbike was a quite small, made in Japan, Honda manufactured. As far as I remember, I never reach limit 100 mile per hour (mph).

Surprisingly, current motorcycles, especially racing motorbikes could reach 350 mph. I think almost close to small airplane with 500 mph. Here is the list of current fastest motorbikes:

1) Dodge Tomahawk, speed limit is 350 mph or 560 km/hour.
2) Suzuki Hayabusa, speed limit is 248 mph or 397 km/hour
3) MTT Turbine Superbike Y2K, speed limit is 227 mph or 365 km/hour
4) Honda CBR1100XX Blackbird, speed limit is 190 mph or 310 km/hour
5) Yamaha YZF R1, speed limit is 186 mph or 297 km/hour
6) MV Agusta F4 1000 R, speed limit is 176 mph or 299 km/hour
7) Kawasaki Ninja ZX-11/ZZ-R1100, speed limit is 176 mph or 283 km/hour
8) Aprilia RSV 1000R Mille, speed limit 175 mph or 278 km/hour

Fastest motorcycle currently, credit to Fastest Motorcycle.

How about with motorcycles a hundred year ago or more? The fastest racing motorbike was “Triumph 3½HP free engine 1911 500cc 1 cyl sv” with speed of 63.53 mph (102 km/hour). It was in 1911, very much slower compared to modern motorcycle.

Have you ridden motorcycle? What fastest speed you ever reach?

Do We have Age Ceiling?

Thursday, March 28, 2019
Jeanne Clement, 122 years old from France, credit to Katie Serena

Average life expectancy of the world is 72 years with women little bit higher (72.7 years) and 68.3 years for men. Top 5 countries with higher life expectancy are following:
1. Japan, 83.7 years
2. Switzerland, 83.4 years
3. Singapore, 83.1 years
4. Australia, 82.8 years
5. Spain, 82.8 years

Do you know life expectancy of your country?

The life expectancy depend on many factors, include quality nutrition intake, proper time of sleep (8 hours) and doing exercises.

The question is how long could we live? The scientists estimated that human being could reach live around 115 years. Sure, female will live longer than male. Length of live has a ceiling or limitation.

In fact, two of the oldest persons ever recorded in the world are Emma Morano, 117 years old from Italy and Jeanne Clement, 122 years old from France. No record for human with 125 years old and more.

How about you? How old you wish to live?

What are Factors Make People Move Out of the State?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
A house in South state of USA, just for illustration 

It is said that average Americans move around 11.7 times in their life time. Moving could be within the state, move out of the state and even temporary move out of the country. 

As reported by US Census Bureau, the reasons mainly due to housing, family and other reasons.

In term of number, it is estimated that more than 50 million Americans or 14% of population have been moved yearly. 

Quite great number compared to other nations.

Based on the reported from Carter (2019), the deciding factors to move out from one state to another state are quite similar to  US Census Bureau: 
- job (professional) opportunity
- retirement
- want to close to family members
- life style 
- and health.

Azalea flowers, illustration only

Most population move out is from state of New Jersey, followed by other Northeast states such as New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

The states where people moved in are:
- Vermont
- Nevada 
- and Arizona.

My opinion that life is dynamic in the USA. In 2018, many people move out of New Jersey, but another day (year) or next following years could be from another state. The reasons could be changes as well.

I myself are moving 19 times so far. How many time do you move in your life or until recently?

Carter. SM. (2019). Why people are fleeing this state more than any other. Retrieved from: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/people-are-fleeing-from-new-jersey-more-than-any-other-state.

Is Araby a Story of Failure Love?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Bazaar in Ireland in 1914, credit to V.I. Pozdneev.
          Araby is a James Joyce’s short story that was originally published in 1914 (Wikipedia, 2016). The story is about the boy who preoccupied with a neighboring girl. The chance to attract the girl happen when the boy talk to girl in front of the girl house. The boy offers to go to bazaar, and promise to buy a gift to the girl.
Bazaar that talked by the boy and the girl is called Araby, a Saturday bazaar in Dublin, Ireland. Unfortunately, the boy come to bazaar so late as written by Joyce (2000-2017), “I heard a voice call from one end of the gallery that the light was out. The upper part of the hall was now completely dark. Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger” (paragraph. 36-37).
Finally, I feel pity after reading the story. It is because the uncle who will give money to the boy come home too late. Thus, the boy arrives at bazaar when stalls almost close. He has no opportunity to select good gifts with reasonable price. The story end with light of bazaar turns off.
Joyce, J. (2000-2017). Araby. 
Wikipedia. (2016). Araby (short story). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Araby_(short_story)

Why is Health Care Cost Increasing in the USA?

Monday, March 25, 2019
Health care cost based on % of GDP, credit to Learn Liberty

USA has the most expensive health care service among industry countries. In term of GDP that the country spent more than 15% for health care (please see above graph). This number is 30% higher than Switzerland, Japan, Germany and Sweden. Three times higher than Mexico, Latvia and Turkey.

Health care cost per-person, USA compared to other countries,
credit to Peterson Foundation

In respect to cost per capita, one person is expected to spend US$ 9,024 for healthcare in the USA in 2016 (please see the second graph at above). Cost increasing is more than 10 thousand dollar recently. Much more higher than average of OECD countries.

The question is: why health cost is expensive and tend to increase year by year in the USA? The important factors cause the higher health cost are following:

1. Fewer Physicians
- number of physicians per 1000 (thousand) is 3.9. It is considered low compared to average of 7.6 in OECD countries.

2. Lower hospital bed numbers
- Bed number is 2.83 per 1000 (one thousand) people in the USA compared to other developed nations such as Germany (8.48), Belgium (6.18) and France (6.13). Lower supply means higher cost.

3.Higher drug costs
-Prescription drug spending is much more higher in the USA than European countries. It is because drug price is expensive in the America than other countries.

What do you think?

Should I Choose Real Estate or 401K Investment?

Thursday, March 21, 2019
401K or Real Estate investing? Credit to Realtor.com

To answer this question is depend very much on who you are, in this case, whether you are:
- risk avoided or risk taker, since real estate and 401K are two different types of business or investing.

401K is retirement plan (benefits) provided by employers in the USA with certain requirements such as full employment status and length of service.

Employee may contribute a percentage of her or his income (deduced per-pay check), and employers match with some percentage, usually around 5%.

This investment is a kind of saving for future use (when retired).

Real estate investing is a pure business where the risks depend on several factors, few of them are:
- a location
- a population
- financial perks
- market trending
- a long term appreciation.

A property for sale

We observed many success stories and create many millionaires of real estate investing, but, some investors faced bankruptcy as well.

Moreover, advantages of 401K:
# Capital gain tax
# Doing nothing for financial security when retirement.
# Protected from creditors when we have financial troubles.

Dis-advantages of 401K
# No flexibility. We can’t use leverage to use “mortgage” to buy homes or loan to buy equipment and hiring employees.

# Government set up a lot of rules about 401K: how much contribution, what investments types in 401K and when to take money out of 401K

Finally, it is up to you to decide whether to invest in real estate or 401K. What do you think? 

Why Will Sumatran Elephants Extinct?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019
A Sumatra Elephant

Decades ago, Sumatran elephants, Elephas maximus with sub-species called Sumatranus, can be found in deep jungle of Sumatra, Indonesia only. Their population more than ten thousands, categorized as endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Currently estimated, elephant number is less than 2 thousands, depleted around 85%. Then, IUCN has changed the status from “endangered” to “critically endangered” species. The main caused is a habitat loss due to human activities.

An elephant’s poop

Human activities that destroyed rain forest as elephant’s habitat included deforestation for timber and palm plantation. Rain forest is a place for elephants for feeding, nurturing and breeding ground.

Another cause of elephant population decreasing is illegal hunting for commercial ivory and mystic use of elephant organs for traditional medicine.

No serious efforts by community to protect Sumatran elephants. Population continue to decrease day by day. There is highly possibility that Sumatran elephants will extinct in near future.

What should we do?

Have You Seen and Tasted Pink Salt?

Saturday, March 16, 2019
Himalayan pink salts

We just saw interesting salt when we visited Walmart super center a few days ago, the pink salt, it is said from Himalaya. The pink salt contains more minerals and trace elements, up to 84. I think this number is quite a lot compare to regular salts (table salt or sea salt).

The advantages of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium that these minerals could counter negative effects of sodium by helping the body to push out the excessive need of  sodium in the system (our body).

Grinder and fine of pink salts

Regular salts contain higher sodium than pink one. Consume sodium in greater quantity could promote high blood pressure. However, consume proper amount of sodium (less than 2,300 mg or one tea spoon) promotes good conditions of muscle functions, control fluid balance and nerve impulses.

In fact, the regular salt has more iodine than pink salt which is an important nutrient to take care an excellent condition of thyroid. Around two billion people is iodine deficiency world wide. Salt is crucial as source of iodine even in industry countries such as USA.

Millennial generations favor to pink salt. How about you? Have you seen and tasted pink salt?

When is the Proper Time to Cut Trees Down?

Thursday, March 14, 2019
Ready to cut it down

Our trees getting old and some are infected by diseases, include fungi and possibly bacteria. We cut down many medium high trees, with size 2 meter (6.6 feet) or less height. We ourselves cut down these trees size, quite easy and no risky than taller and bigger ones.

Chopping into pieces

Our tree which will be cutting down is quite old, tall and big, more than 10 meter (33 feet). We are not able to cut this kind of tree, and in addition, we need permit from city council to do it. So complicated for us.

Hence we call professionals to cut it down. Everything from cutting to chopping to cleaning to getting permit are done by a company. We just pay it.

We did ask to cut our taller tree in the winter (last January), it is the good time. The trees are not growing (dormant) during winter to early spring in the northern hemisphere like we are living now.

Can a Storage be Remodeled as a Nice Home?

Monday, March 11, 2019
A Storage sold at Home Depot

We just visit a “home depot,” the American retail to sell construction products (tools and any home improvement supplies) and services. We saw the retail sells several type of barns, storage and small mobiles home.

The prices range from US$ 3 thousands to US$ 8 thousands, depend on sizes, materials and models. We just “window shopping,” since we have a small storage that in a good condition in our backyard, hence, we have no plan to buy a new one in near future. 

A model of storage,(credit to “About Home Improvement”)

In addition to normal function as a storage (to store a lot of things), many people re-model or design the barn or a storage room to serve as a multi-functional room. They install the storage with such as kitchen set, toilet and bed. This is a kind of “mini house.” The remodel could cost from several hundreds up to thousands dollars.

Then put the remodeled storage in the corner of backyard. Look so nice in the corner. Guests or even when their children growing up could use this “mini house” as a temporary home.

Do we need permit to put a storage in our backyard in the USA? Generally speaking, no need for a storage or a barn with size less than 8 x 10 feet. There is a restriction for bigger storage by local administrations (states governments).

Do you have a storage? Is it a multi-purpose storage?

What is Painting Stylistic of Rococo?

Thursday, March 7, 2019
Sample of Rococo painting, Vladimir Hozatski
Rococo is style of late Baroque which emerged in Paris, France in 18th century. The Rococo style was result of responding to grandeur, symmetry, and strict regulations of Baroque art.
The word Rococo came from word “rocaille” of French to do decoration by “shell-covered rock.” The Rococo was characterized by curving lines and lightness. It always depicts love, nature and youth.
Then, Rococo influenced other arts such as interior design, decoration, literature, music, theater, painting, sculpture and architecture. The style was spreading from France to Germany, Austria and all over the Europe.

La Surprise,” painted by Jean Antoine Watteau (Source: Trapasso, 2013)
As suggested by Trapasso (2013) that the father of Rococo style in painting was Jean Antoine Watteau (French, 1684–1721). His painting depicted the daily life of Flanders and the Netherlands. His painting called “La Surprise” could be seen at above Figure.
The style emerged due to many factors, they are including corrections to former restricted styles; respond to another religious reform; challenge to backdrop of social and political stabilities; and follow to development in science and technology.
The three prominent styles that had been emerged in art history, namely Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo. These styles had their own uniqueness and characters. Many well-known artists come from this period whom contributed to world painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, music, design interior, theater and philosophy.
Trapasso, E. 2013. A Brief History of Rococo Art. Retrieved from

Is Bitter Melon Good for Health?

Monday, March 4, 2019
Bitter melon on the plate

Bitter melon is quite abundant in South East Asian countries, It is believed from India originally. The melons also grow well in regions of:
- Africa
- South America
- some parts of Asia
- South East Asia
- The Caribbeans.

The shape and green color look like a cucumber:
- slender
- a little bit long.

Actually, cucumber and bitter melon are the same family, Cucurbitaceae. But, the scientific name for bitter melon is Momordica charantia

Bitter melons are sold in the market

The color will change to orange or yellow when ripen. One of bitter, and might be even most bitter vegetable eaten by human.

The ripen the melon the bitter it taste. It is harvested a year round.

Some ethnic shops such as Asian shops and Mexican shops sell the bitter melon in the USA market

Cuts of a bitter melon

The melon was eaten (cook) as vegetable and sometimes drink as juice. Nutritional values are good for health.

Just for comparison, bitter melon contains:
- more calcium than spinach
- more potassium than banana
- more beta-carotene than broccoli.

Ready to cook

In addition that bitter melon also rich of:
- vitamin
- magnesium
- iron.

Some people in Asia and other developing country are using bitter melon as traditional medicines for:

- fever
- cough
- improve skin health
- prevent malaria
- chicken fox
- measles.

Moreover, researchers from industry countries are studying possibility to extract bitter melon to preven growing and spreading of breast cancer cells.

But be careful, since bitter taste, thus might problem for some people stomachs. After a while, their stomach might be adjust to bitterness of this vegetable.

Have you tried it?