Save Your Pooch - Stay Away from Vets in the Box!

When I first heard that the "big box" pet stores offered veterinary services, I initially thought that it was a convenient solution to managing our busy lives.  After all, they allow you to bring your pet shopping for dog bones and supplies, so why not? Well, corporate veterinary medicine is buying up the individual veterinary practices for peanuts and turning health care for our sweet pets into a profit-driven business.  Surprise, surprise.

If you have a pet, you probably get postcard reminders that your pet is due for its shots each year. What conscientious pet owner wouldn’t take their pet in for immunizations?  Right? We know that humans need vaccinations to provide “herd immunity”[], but this is completely different.

Dr. Schultz, University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, published a study showing the long-term effectiveness of vaccines in the 1970s where they ran decades of tests on dogs that were locked in viral gas chambers, injected with disease, and sprayed with viral aerosols directly in their snouts after they were initially vaccinated.  [It makes me sick to read about this inhumane treatment, but I do appreciate the results that could save thousands of pets.] With all of the disease exposure, none of the dogs were reinfected with the disease.  Schultz found that the initial immunization protected the dogs for 7 or more years. But Schultz faced a revolt from veterinarians who didn’t want to forgo the income they would receive from annual vaccinations and office visits.  So the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Task Force compromised and settled on the recommendation that dogs be vaccinated every 3 years. 

So you wonder why vaccinating every year is a problem?  Well, Dr. Schultz says that 1 in 200 dogs have life-threatening reactions such as anaphylactic shock to vaccines.  And now with corporatization of veterinary medicine, pharmaceutical companies have standardized and rounded the dosage amount to 1 milliliter REGARDLESS OF YOUR PET’S BODY WEIGHT! So whether you have a 3-pound Chihuahua or a 120-pound Great Dane, this one-size-fits-all vaccine will be given to your pet.  Hmm.  “Vaccines can kill,” Schultz says.  “If you don’t need to vaccinate annually and you do, you’re taking unnecessary risks.”

Dr. Robb, Catzablanca Clinic veterinarian, actually tested himself while in veterinary school.  He gave himself just one rabies vaccination in 1983, and has continued to confirm his immunity to rabies by taking regular titer tests (tests to see your level of immunity to the disease).  So for over 30 years, Dr. Robb’s one rabies immunization still protects him from rabies.  You can also give your cat or dog a titer test to determine if further immunizations are necessary. Meanwhile corporate veterinary medicine continues to push for annual vaccinations, even when the AAHA suggests every 3 years.

What’s worse, is that corporate veterinary hospitals and centers DEMAND that their thousands of veterinarians routinely run a litany of tests and recommend treatment and medications based on what a pet presents with. In other words, veterinarians who work for corporations are required and forced to order a series of tests and to prescribe medications and follow-up treatments in the order of $35 billion per year. And of course, we pay for all of these often unnecessary treatment and medication. When veterinarians don’t abide by these requirements or don’t meet their quotas, they’re banished from the practice.

Now that I have 2 sweet puppies, I am relieved that they have Dr. Clay, who owns Chanticleer Veterinary Hospital.  He diagnoses our pups based on symptoms they have and gives us honest recommendations on treatment options. I hope that more people continue to support their private veterinarian and boycott the corporatization of veterinary medicine.  I’m not going to support corporations that generalize medicine for the sole purpose of profits. 


Just before I went into labor with my eldest daughter in 1985 (sounds like so long ago!), I decided to SPRING CLEAN my entire house. Yup! I organized every drawer and closet, and tossed out things I didn’t need. Then I made to-do lists!

Later I learned that this need to clean is called “nesting” and it’s common for mothers-to-be to nest before having a baby. I wanted to get everything in my life organized and in control as I awaited a huge change in my life. Over the weekend, I got that same nesting feeling. No – I’m obviously not pregnant – but living amidst uncertainty, chaos, and disbelief in a country I used to be proud of has been stressful. I organized a spring cleaning schedule for myself and I spent 11 hours cleaning my kitchen on Sunday.

Cleaning and organizing my stuff gives me power over my life. I can understand it. I can control it. I can make it exactly the way I want it. It’s mindless work but it made me happy. I tossed out all kinds of junk that I’ve held on to for years. I cleared out my closet of clothes I’ll never wear again (probably because I’ll never fit in them!). I found quilts and baby blankets.

The whole process was healing. When I woke up this morning I felt accomplished and appreciated how my hard manual labor produced these results. I knew where I placed everything. I felt empowered – like I could take on the world. So listening to my body about nesting for my baby’s arrival 30 years ago AND spring cleaning to prepare for whatever this new administration throws before me is my way of hunkering down for the unknown. 

How Trump's "Alternate Facts" AND the Arguments About Them Helped Him Win

Did you know that only 4% of our president’s statements were completely true? He is a compulsive liar.  According to Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, “When we are overwhelmed with false, or potentially false, statements, our brains pretty quickly become so overworked that we stop trying to sift through everything.” When we’re barraged with a stream of lies (sounds like what we’ve been dealing with for the past year), this cognitive overload makes us give up deciphering what is true and what is false.

We inevitably absorb some of the lies, and this onslaught of untruths become normalized in our brains and we just begin to accept them as truths and reality. By repeating these lies over and over again, people believe they’re true. This effect is known as an “Illusory truth” and has been demonstrated by recent FAKE NEWS.

But here’s the really disturbing part about lies. Even when the truth comes out to refute a lie, just the act of countering the lie actually reinforces the lie! Yup! The brain hears the first part about the subject but the argument proving that the subject was wrong often gets lost.  So even when there is a deluge of evidence to prove that the statement was a lie, just the act of using those key words reinforces the lie in your brain. Retracted information can actually continue to reinforce the opposite position.

Think: Hillary’s emails.  After the original accusation about illegal emails, every statement made to defend her just further burned a guilty opinion in the public’s mind. Then when Comey conveniently brought up the question of Hillary’s emails just before the election (without any further proof or new evidence), the public heard it as yet another claim about her guilt – even though it was completely unfounded.

Worst of all: The onslaught of lies becomes normalized. Not sure what will become of American government in the next 4 years. I am trying to wrap my head around what this research means and how to state the truth and be heard. 

Why Speed Reading Isn't Good for Gaining Knowledge

In our fast-paced world where information can be had in mere seconds from millions of readily available sources, reading for depth has become an anomaly. Standardized tests require students to read passages quickly and answer multiple-choice questions within a short time span.  The timed test is really unnecessary and produces inaccurate results. The testing organization is not interested if your ability to fully understand, ponder philosophically, and then render an answer.  Nope!  They want to see what you can take away from the question under pressure in a conveniently short period of time. 

In order to ace the ACT or SAT college entrance exams, students flock to take speed reading classes so they can skim over passages to make educated guesses.  When students speed read, however, they don’t comprehend what they read as if they read it at normal speed. You can’t analyze or think critically when you’re reading fast. All you get is the gist of the passage, which is simply superficial knowledge.

So if students take in bits and pieces of what they read, they’re possibly making bad decisions or assumptions that can lead to big problems.  After all, it’s easy to miss important words like “NOT” and completely misunderstand the passage. Applying speed reading to real life, the speed reader would have to spend unnecessary time fixing their mistakes – something they could have avoided by simply reading at a healthy pace to understand the text.

I love the quote by Einstein, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

So rather than rereading what you didn’t understand because you were speed reading, just read for depth the first time.  Block off time when you aren’t rushed or pressured and then read for knowledge.  You’ll be smarter for it, and you’ll do better on any test. 

Presidential Executive Orders

As a Japanese American, I worry about how President Trump can bypass Congress by using the EXECUTIVE ORDER privilege to “protect America.” I am a 3rd-generation American; my parents were both born in Los Angeles and their parents were born in Japan. In 1942, my mother’s family was incarcerated in Rohwer, Arkansas and forced to leave their home and business (Yamasa) in Los Angeles, while my father’s family was incarcerated in Manzanar, California. My entire extended family lost all of their properties, businesses, and personal possessions as they only had a few days to pack up and leave their homes. They lived behind barbed wire for over 3 years.

Then-president Roosevelt signed the infamous Executive Order 9066 in 1942 (following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor), which allowed him to set policy without congressional approval – avoiding public debate and opposition. With just a few days’ notice, all 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans living in the United States were required to relocate to one of 10 internment centers in the United States.

Why? Americans were angry about the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and needed to point their hatred and prejudice toward something tangible.  While Japanese Americans were and are 100% Americans like Irish Americans, German Americans, and the other European Americans, they looked like the enemy – the Imperial Japanese from Japan. Even though the government claimed to fear espionage, not one Japanese American was ever caught doing any such activity. As a matter of fact, the Japanese American 442nd infantry regiment was the most decorated combat team in WWII.  Talk about patriotism: They fought for America while their families were incarcerated. Wow.

As I write this blog, Trump has announced his first executive order: building his wall on the border with Mexico. He is using tax-payer money to start his wall but claims that he’ll have Mexico pay for the rest of the wall (with a 20% tax on all imports from Mexico as part of the Border-Adjustment VAT). This also means that he is hiring an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 10,000 immigration officers.  With just 34,000 beds available for immigration detention, it looks like private prison companies will be utilized to handle the 8 million undocumented workers.

It’s been 75 years since Roosevelt issued the Executive Order 9066.  We as Americans need to stand up for our rights and unite to prevent any deliberate attack on any group of people.  Today it’s undocumented workers – will it be Muslims tomorrow? I’m worried about how Trump will use his Presidential Executive Order privilege to discriminate and further divide this nation. 

Will's Tiny House Project

Will is just about done building his tiny house project.  He started it in July of this year and worked on it every day during the summer.  He got it framed before he headed back to school. Then when school started, he continued to work on weekends when it wasn’t raining and installed the plywood sheets around the house and the roof framing.  Now, over the winter break, he put up the siding, got the roof installed, and started the electrical installation. 

This has been quite an exciting project for Will because he laid out his own building plans, created a budget, purchased all of the materials, and organized the build schedule with his mentor.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, Will had zero building skills prior to the start of this project.  He has learned all of the aspects of building a real house because a tiny house is a real house. 

Will plans to major in electrical engineering with a possible double major including mechanical engineering.  By spending a year building a tiny house, he has a valuable perspective from the builder’s point of view.  By understanding the importance of the end-user’s skill set and knowledge, he’ll be a more effective engineer.

Trump's First Energy Plan = Frack the Hell out of America!

While I have anticipated the worst scenario for Trump’s anti-Climate Change agenda, I was hopeful that he might consult the experts before moving forward on his campaign promises.  But that did NOT happen. In order to fund his promises of building roads, schools, and public infrastructure, Trump plans to do the unconscionable:

Claims = By getting rid these plans, increase American wages by $30 billion over 7 years.                
Reality = Trump is getting rid of energy regulations and giving oil, shale, and natural gas companies free reign to produce dirty, polluting energy.

2.FRACK America to get methane (natural gas) out of shale wells across the US
Claims = America has untapped domestic energy (our personal properties and federal lands!)
Reality = To get the methane, oil companies will drill thousands of wells using one million gallons of water with known chemical carcinogens in EACH WELL, destroying personal property and federal parks.  This will contaminate our drinking water. See Gasland.

3.Revive the COAL INDUSTRY in America
Claims = Trump says that mining coal is clean (seriously?) and the coal industry is hurting (good!).

Reality = There is no such thing as “clean coal;” it’s an oxymoron. Let's create American jobs building clean, sustainable energy, not dangerous and polluting coal energy!

4.Create ENERGY INDEPENDENCE by FRACKING for national security

Claims = Drilling for natural gas on our soil gives us independence from OPEC
Reality = We need to stop using oil, natural gas, and coal to mitigate Climate Change, and develop clean energy from hydrogen, solar, and wind.

It’s time to step out of our comfort zones and take action.  Call your senators to stop Scott Pruitt from heading the EPA and Rex Tillerson from becoming our Secretary of State.  Then, support energy reform.  I’ll be posting Kids 4 Hydrogen’s recommendation for an energy solution this week.  Curious?  Check out our website at to see a viable energy solution that can meet our pressing deadline to reduce CO2 within 10 years.

See the America First Energy Plan

Women's March in Santa Cruz

The cloudy skies gave way to blue skies over Santa Cruz to welcome the 1000s of enthusiastic, peaceful people for the WOMEN'S MARCH in Santa Cruz today. I loved reading the clever posters demanding to be heard and watching little children, tweens, teens, college students, parents, seniors, and disabled people wearing bright colors and marching from City Hall to the Louden Nelson Center today.

With my friend Julie Monroe, posters, and my Go-Pro, we felt HOPE and EMPOWERMENT from what seemed like 15,000 marchers!

Check out my video clip!


I first saw the potential of aquaponics when I was at Disneyworld/Epcot on Living with Aquaponics ride (check out this YouTube video). They had a tomato TREE that grew year round and produced 100s of big beautiful tomatoes. That year, we built a greenhouse for our mini-aquaponics system that included 2 fish tanks, 1 filter tank, and 4 media (rock) beds for veggies.  This unique growing system uses NO DIRT, just water to raise fish and grow plants. The fish poop creates a natural fertilizer for the plants, which in turn, cleans the water for the fish.  It’s really remarkable that you don’t need any fertilizers or chemicals at all!

This year, Merit Academy’s aquaponics class added a floating raft bed to the aquaponics system.  Instead of plants growing in rocks and water (media beds), these plants grow in Styrofoam beds that float on top of the water.  We’re excited to compare the media beds to the floating raft beds to see which systems produce more veggies. Teaching students innovative food production techniques inspires them to solve world hunger and sustainability problems that we face today and in the future.

Protecting the Affordable Care Act

Being snowed in for 3 days with my daughter Nicole gave us the opportunity to talk about political issues that we hadn’t had time to discuss with our busy lives. I was proud to hear about her marching and activism to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Yup! She and her fellow ER docs have been advocating for the sick and the poor who have benefitted from the ACA during the Obama Administration.  At Harbor UCLA Hospital, most of her patients have utilized the ACA (aka ObamaCare) for their medical care, and without the ACA, the people who need medical assistance most will not be able to afford it.  Only the young, healthy, and wealthy benefit by repealing the Affordable Care Act.  

Many Americans don’t know that “ObamaCare” IS the Affordable Care Act.  Can you believe it? Nicole says that some of her patients are confused by the rhetoric and state that they want to get rid of ObamaCare! She is surprised that she has to explain to her low-income patients that they need ObamaCare and that without it they would lose medical care, medications, and treatment. 

Dr. Trevor Wilson, one of Nicole’s co-residents at Harbor UCLA, wrote a letter that you can sign to join their movement to save the Affordable Care Act.  Click here to sign and be added to the list of supporters.