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Thoughts & Visions




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Thoughts & Visions


  Friday, April 29th, 2016

Pathological Narcissism: A Spiritual Disorder

At the core of the NPD syndrome is the construction of a false self as a way to cope with the external world by compensating for the individual’s feelings of insecurity and uncertainty of identity. The narcissist is hollow inside and derives her sense-of-self from seeing her reflection in the eyes of others.

To lure people into her web, the successful narcissist puts on an attractive social mask. She can be charming, gracious, socially adept, even obsequious. She must also be a consummate actor, skilled at simulating the whole range of human emotions, especially those of love, compassion, and kindness. The more successful she is at simulation, the greater her circle of friends and acquaintances who function as her primary and secondary feeding sources.

Using other people as her “blood bank” requires that the narcissist be a human emotional radar. The successful narcissist is psychologically astute and shrewd so that she can “size up” everyone she encounters for their potential to be her blood-donor.

The false self must be impervious, which requires the narcissist to resist self-examination and introspection. Doing so would open the narcissist to reality-based assessment—a dangerous undertaking because the false self is, by definition, unreal. As a consequence, instead of the insecurities of normal human beings, the narcissist exhibits an impassive and uncritical acceptance of herself.

The inability or unwillingness to be introspective, in turn, results in cognitive dissonance, cognitive gaps, and non sequiturs. Trying to engage a narcissist in serious dialogue—especially about herself or her beliefs and values—can be a disconcerting experience because nothing she says makes sense.

Since the false self is superior and grandiose, it needs no one. The narcissist dreads becoming dependent on others, but asserts and clings to an exaggerated independence. Since her love of herself is all-consuming, she is incapable of love and emotional commitments to other people. This is why the narcissist reacts to sincere declarations of love (verbal or in the form of behavior, such as significant gifts) by emotionally distancing herself and, in some cases, outright abandonment—because she is unable to reciprocate the commitment.

More than immoral, NPD is, at its foundation, a spiritual blight. Since the false self of the narcissist is extremely grandiose, she excludes herself from the moral norms that govern “lesser” beings. That makes NPDs their own gods. In so doing, they are in denial of the fundamentally flawed nature of all human beings.

—Dr. Maria Hsia Chang


  Monday, April 25th, 2016

Stokes Sweet Potato

It was discovered in the United States by Mike Sizemore, 61, who grew up on a farm in North Carolina, the nation’s largest sweet potato-producing state. One day in 2003 he won a prize for his sweet potatoes at a state fair, and an unidentified woman gave him some deep purple sweet potatoes of unknown origin.

Sizemore propagated them and found that he loved the variety, which keeps its deep color remarkably well when cooked. Stokes Purple has a rich, almost winy flavor but is denser and drier than regular sweet potatoes. The key is to bake it for longer than regular sweet potatoes, and at moderate heat, about 90 to 120 minutes at 350 degrees, at which point it becomes pleasingly moist.


  Monday, April 18th, 2016

Asimina triloba

Asimina triloba, the pawpaw, paw paw, paw-paw, or common pawpaw, is a species of Asimina (the pawpaw genus) in the same plant family (the Annonaceae) as the custard-apple, cherimoya, sweetsop, ylang-ylang and soursop. The pawpaw is native to the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern United States and adjacent southernmost Ontario, Canada, from New York west to southeastern Nebraska, and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas. The pawpaw is a patch-forming (clonal) understory tree found in well-drained, deep, fertile bottom-land and hilly upland habitat, with large, simple leaves and large fruits. The paw paw is the largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States.

A strong candidate for the natural distribution of the common pawpaw (Asimina triloba) in North America, prior to the Ice Ages and lasting until roughly 10,000 years ago, was likely the then extant but now extinct megafauna of North America. (Such animals went extinct during the Quaternary extinction event.) With the arrival of humans, and the extinction of such megafauna for distributing Asimina triloba, the likely candidate for distributing these large fruit bearing plants likely became the newly arrived humans. The earliest documented mention of pawpaws is in the 1541 report of the Spanish de Soto expedition, who found Native Americans cultivating it east of the Mississippi River.

Chilled pawpaw fruit was a favorite dessert of George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson planted it at Monticello, his home in Virginia.

Ohio botanist William B. Werthner noted that:

The fruit…has a tangy wild-wood flavor peculiarly its own. It is sweet, yet rather cloying to the taste and a wee bit puckery—only a boy can eat more than one at a time.

Fresh fruits of the pawpaw are commonly eaten raw, either chilled or at room temperature. However, they can be kept only 2–3 days at room temperature, or about a week if refrigerated. The easily bruised pawpaw fruits do not ship well unless frozen. Where pawpaws grow, the fruit pulp is also often used locally in baked dessert recipes, with pawpaw often substituted with volumetric equivalency in many banana-based recipes. Pawpaws may also be blended into ice cream or included in pancakes.

In southern West Virginia, pawpaws are made into a native version of banana nut cake or fruit cake baked inside canning jars, then heat-sealed, reputedly keeping the food for at least a year; however, due to the risk of botulism, preserving cake in a canning jar is not recommended.

  Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Never beg to be loved.

  Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Never waste your time trying to explain yourself to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.

—Dream Hampton

  Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Sometimes we have to let go of what is killing us, even if it’s killing us to let go.

  Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

She realized none of it was real and set herself free.

  Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

One of the most courageous decisions you’ll ever make is to finally let go of what is hurting your heart and soul.

—Brigitte Nicole


  Saturday, April 9th, 2016


Eragrostis tef, teff, Williams lovegrass, annual bunch grass, taf (Amharic: ጤፍ? ṭēff; Tigrinya: ጣፍ? ṭaff), or xaafii (Oromo), is an annual grass, a species of lovegrass native to Ethiopia and Eritrea. The word “teff” is connected by folk etymology to the Ethio-Semitic root “ṭff,” which means “lost” (because of the small size of the grain).

Eragrostis tef (or Maskal Teff) borrows its name from Greek, to mean “the grass of love” from eros—love, and agrostis—grass. For its survival, teff uses a type of photosynthesis, called Carbon 4, which developed early in the ice ages and allows teff to be most efficient in temperatures as high as those of the human body, as opposed to wheat whose optimal temperature is at 60°F.

Teff has an attractive nutrition profile, being high in dietary fiber and iron and providing protein and calcium. Because of its small seeds (less than one millimeter in diameter), a handful is enough to sow a large area. This property makes teff particularly suited to a seminomadic lifestyle.

Between 8000 and 5000 BC, the people of the Ethiopian highlands were among the first humans to domesticate plants and animals for food. Teff was one of the earliest plants domesticated. Teff is believed to have originated in Ethiopia and Eritrea between 4000 BC and 1000 BC. Genetic evidence points to E. pilosa as the most likely wild ancestor.


  Monday, April 4th, 2016

Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice is a long-grain variety of fragrant rice (also known as aromatic rice). Its fragrance, reminiscent of pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius) and popcorn, results from the rice plant’s natural production of aromatic compounds, of which 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline is the most salient. In typical packaging and storage, these aromatic compounds dissipate within a few months. This rapid loss of aromatic intensity leads many Southeast Asians and connoisseurs to prefer each year’s freshly harvested “New Crop” of jasmine rice.

The name “jasmine” refers to the color of the rice, which is as white as the jasmine flower.

Jasmine rice is grown primarily in Thailand (Thai hom mali or Thai fragrant rice), Cambodia (angkor kra’oup or Cambodian jasmine rice), Laos, and southern Vietnam. It is moist and soft in texture when cooked, with a slightly sweet flavor. The grains cling and are somewhat sticky when cooked, though less sticky than glutinous short-grain rice (Oryza sativa var. glutinosa), as it has less amylopectin. It is still about three times more sticky than American long-grain rice.


  Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Sasha Stylized

Drama noodle.

  Friday, March 18th, 2016

Book of Hours (I,59)

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

—Rainer Maria Rilke


  Monday, March 14th, 2016

Mustard Greens (Brassica juncea)

Brassica juncea, mustard greens, Indian mustard, Chinese mustard, Jie Cai (in Mandarin) or Kai Choi (in Cantonese) is a species of mustard plant. Brassica juncea or mustard greens are, as the name implies, the leaves of the plant which produces mustard seeds. Also known as gai choy, Indian or Japanese mustard, or California pepper grass; the leaves can be flat, crumpled or lacy-edged. Mustard greens originated in the Himalayan region of India and have been grown and consumed for more than 5,000 years.

One of the most pungent and interesting of all the greens, as well as a very generous source of vitamin A and K, mustard greens are widely used in French, Chinese and Southern U.S. cuisines. Goes very well sauteed with chopped bacon and red potatoes, or simply stir fried in olive oil with a minced garlic clove.

Subvarieties include southern giant curled mustard, which resembles a headless cabbage such as kale, but with a distinct horseradish-mustard flavor. It is also known as green mustard cabbage.

Brassica juncea is more pungent than the closely related Brassica oleracea greens (kale, cabbage, collard greens, et cetera), and is frequently mixed with these milder greens in a dish of “mixed greens,” which may include wild greens such as dandelion.

  Monday, February 29th, 2016

My brothers and sisters,
not because we are afraid
but believing that God is faithful to forgive,
let us rid ourselves of what we no longer need to carry.

  Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry them down as a present to the man—a little balm and a little honey, gum, resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds.”

—Genesis 43:11