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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking the Longest-Living ALS Survivor

Today, March 14th 2018, the world lost 
one of its most brilliant scientific minds 
Stephen Hawking
the longest-living Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) survivor 
who did at age 76.
He was lucky to live in the era of technology,
to be able to use AAC device to communicate and 
work on his theories.
People with ALS condition gradually lose control of muscle movement, 
eventually losing their ability to eat, speak, walk and, ultimately, breathe.
If you have a chance read an extraordinary story 
“Traveling to infinity: My life with Stephen” 
by Jane Hawking (Stephen Hawking’s wife)

Importance of Healthy Breathing and Academic Performance

I want to share very interesting findings about strong correlation between healthy breathing, academic performance, behavior, attention and executive function.
There is clear evidence for poorer academic performance in school-age children with Sleep Disorder Breathing (SDB)
Findings from “Sleep Disordered Breathing and Academic Performance: A Meta-analysis” by Barbara Galland, Karen Spruyt, Patrick Dawes, Philippa S. McDowall, Dawn Elder, Elizabeth Schaughency
Children and adults with sleep disorders were at a higher risk for language problems than healthy sleepers.  The language problems typically co-occurred with problems of attention and executive function (in children and adults), behavior (in children), and visual-spatial processing (in adults). Effects were typically small. Language problems seldom rose to a level of clinical concern but there were exceptions involving phonological deficits in children with sleep-disordered breathing and verbal memory deficits among adults with sleep-disordered breathing or idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder.
Findings from “Airway function disorders can interfere with language, learning and academics,
Sleep Disorders as a Risk to Language Learning and Use” by Karla K. McGregor and Rebecca M. Alper
Children with fragmented sleep were characterized by lower performance on NBF measures, particularly those associated with more complex tasks such as a continuous performance test and a symbol-digit substitution test. These children also had higher rates of behavior problems as reported by their parents on the Child Behavior Checklist. These results highlight the association between sleep quality, NBF, and behavior regulation in child development; and raise important questions about the origins of these associations and their developmental and clinical significance.
Findings from “Sleep, Neurobehavioral Functioning, and Behavior Problems in School-Age Children” by Avi Sadeh, Reut Gruber, Amiram Raviv
Sleep-related obstructive breathing disorders (SROBD) are common in children. While the sequelae of cor pulmonae, and growth and developmental impairment have been well documented, neurocognitive deficits have been less well studied. There is emerging evidence that children with SROBD show reduced neurocognitive functioning especially in the inter-related areas of attentional capacity, memory and cognitive function. In addition, these children show increased problematic behaviour and reduced school performance.
Findings from “Cognitive and behavioural performance in children with sleep-related obstructive breathing disorders” by S. Blunden, K. Lushington, D. Kennedy

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Where does chocolate come from?

"From theobroma tree to chocolate bar" by Basia Panko

Theobroma cacao is also known as cacao tree 

Have you seen a cacao bean or a cacao pod?
From the cacao farms that can feel like enchanted forests, 
to the manufacturing plant, 
each step impacts the final quality of the chocolate.

Chocolate manufacture requires six steps:
  1. First comes fermentation and drying.
  2. Next, the seeds, communally called beans, are roasted.
  3. Cracking and winnowing follow roasting.
  4. After this, the nibs must be refined.
  5. The raw cocoa liquor is then "conched," a lengthy process which drives off the rest of the acidic flavoring compounds.
  6. Last comes tempering the Chocolate.
Most people have only experienced the end result, like a chocolate bar or a cup of hot cocoa. 
The manufacturing of chocolate is a precise and scientific process.


Chocolate is ranked as one of the most favorite flavors in North America and Europe.

How Bean to Bar Chocolate is Made, By Cocoa Runners, July 2nd, 2013

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Glossophobia - Fear of Public Speaking

Glossophobia or speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking.
Basia Panko, 2018

The word glossophobia derives from the Greek γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος phobos, fear or dread. Some people have this specific phobia, while others may also have broader social phobia or social anxiety disorder.

Overcome your fear of public speaking and boost your business with these seven tips.
  1. Start Small. If you're new to the world of public speaking, start small.
  2. Prepare. Nothing helps ease the fear of public speaking more than knowing your material.
  3. Don't Memorize.
  4. Avoid Bullets.
  5. Reduce Stress.
  6. Find a Friend.
  7. Engage the Audience.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Poem for a friend - Happy Valentine's Day!

by Basia Panko
Basia Panko, February 2018

When you have a friend
There are many things you can or cannot
Lend, send and end.

Books you can lend, letters you can send,
But real friendships will never end.

You do not want sadness and tears coming from your friend.
So with a friend you must defend, demand, and extend.

When you offend your friend,
When you get into a fight and make your friend mad,
Simply apologize and make him glad.
Then the only possibility is to mend.
You must know that everything has an end.

When you have a friend that is kind and good,
Don’t exclude, be rude or protrude.
That, for sure, would give him a bad mood.

You must not pretend to a true friend.

Remember that friends are all,
Who pick you up when you fall.
Friends know all your fears,
And they will help you dry your tears.
I can promise you a smile,
When a friend is with you for a while.

When you are scared at night,
Your friend will help you make it bright.
When an animal gives a bite,
Don’t worry, your friend will help you strengthen your might.
When you are feeling blue,
Your friend will always be there for you.

Real friends are loyal to the end.
Now you know what you can or cannot do to a friend.
Basia with a friend

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ecuador, Quito, Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, Amazon River and Spanish Classes Continuation

Capital: Quito
Largest city: Guayaquil
Official language: Spanish
Area: 256,370 km² / 98,985 sq mi
Population: 14,500,000
Density: 53.8/km²

Check our trip to Ecuador on pictures 
Quito, Ecuador's capital, sits high in the Andean foothills at an altitude of 2,850m. Constructed on the foundations of an ancient Incan city, it’s known for its well-preserved colonial center, rich with 16th- and 17th-century churches and other structures blending European, Moorish and indigenous styles. These include the cathedral, in the Plaza Grande square, and ultra-ornate Compañia de Jesús Jesuit church.
Taxis are everywhere and are inexpensive compared to other cities in the world. A taxi ride costs a minimum fare of US$1.45 during the day (from 6AM to 7PM) and a minimum fare of US$1.75 at night. Most rides are short, and local hotspots are close to each other, so it's rare for a ride to exceed 5$ in price. Use only official taxis (yellow with a number painted on the door). Make sure the driver turns on the taxi meter if you don't want to get ripped off and find another taxi if they claim the taximeter device is broken. At night or if they refuse to use the taximeter, negotiate the price before getting in, or wait for the next cab. Carry small denominations of money and have exact change for your taxi fare. Have exact change, or  the taxi driver conveniently won't be able to make change for you. When taking a taxi be sure you are aware of the fastest route; if a driver is using the meter he may take the scenic route. 
Tipping is not done in Ecuador 
Spanish Language School
Banana Spanish School
Address: José Tamayo 935-A y Foch. Quito, Ecuador
Tel/Fax: (593-2) 256 7014
Classes are 55 minutes long, starting at 8:30 in the morning and ending at 12:30 or 1:30 in the afternoon.  There is a 20 minute break at 11:00 am.  For a 6-hour daily schedule, class ends at 3:00 in the afternoon, and there is an additional 30 minute break at 12:30 pm.

TelefériQo - 4,050 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level
Teleferico is the world's second-highest cable car - gondola lift. It was opened in July 2005. It's located on the eastern flanks of the Pchincha Volcano which overlooks the whole city. It is running from the edge of the city center up the east side of Pichincha Volcano to lookout Cruz Loma. The ride on a cable car takes less than 20 minutes. It hoists visitors up to an amazing 4,050 meters (12,000 feet). On clear days, one can spot half-a-dozen volcanoes and spy the entire city below. You can also hike up from here to the Guagua Pichincha Volcano - 4,784 m (15,696 feet) above sea level, which is active.
It is $4 for locals, but for foreigners Adult $8.50, Child $6.50. There is also an express lane option for more money. Get a taxi to take you to the teleferico. A colectivo takes you back to the old town for $1As of 2018, a photo ID is required to purchase a lift ticket, and the ticket stub must be retained for the return trip. This policy serves as a built-in alert system in case hikers do not return when expected.
Monday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 8 am-8 pm
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday am-8 pm
Calle de la Ronda
This street in the Old Town was restored by Municipality and FONSAL in 2007. It was transformed with the help and cooperation of the local residents. It's a romantic cobbled street just off the Plaza Santo Domingo (or it can be reached via Garcia Moreno by the City Museum). There are shops, patios, art galleries and modest cafe restaurants now, all run by residents. Cultural events are common at the weekends.
La Vírgen del Panecillo
Adjacent to the Old City, El Panecillo is a large hill on top of which is La Virgin del Panecillo, a large statue of the 'winged' Virgin Mary. She can be seen from most points in the city. Local legend has it that she is the only virgin in Quito. Never walk up the hill, always take a taxi or a bus as the walk up can be dangerous.
Basílica del Voto Nacional
A “must go to” place.
Calle Venezuela and Carchi, Quito 170150, Ecuador
The Basilica of the National Vow is a Roman Catholic Church located in the historic center of Quito, Ecuador. It is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas.
Prices to go inside the church was $2 and to climb to the top and you can see an amazing of your view of the city is another $2 it is definitely worth the visit.
Conjunto Monumental San Francisco
The church dates back from the 1570s and was devoted to San Francis, since the Franciscan order was the first to settle in the area. Hence the city's official name: San Francisco de Quito. The church contains masterpieces of syncretic art, including the famous "Virgin of Quito" by Legarda. The sculpture represents a winged virgin stepping on the devil's head (in the form of a serpent) and is displayed in the main altar. The virgin would later be inaccurately replicated on top of Panecillo hill. The museum next door to the church is arranged through the monastic compound and includes access to the choir.
Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus 
In the Old City, this church is regarded by many as the most beautiful in the Americas. Partially destroyed by fire, it was restored with assistance from the Getty Foundation and other benefactors. Simply stunning.
Ciudad Mitad del Mundo
It is located at San Antonio parish of the canton of Quito, 26 km north of the center of Quito. Mitad de Mundo consists of one dominant monument, smaller monuments that lead up to it, a small village that has been constructed around the equator site and a quaint museum. 
It’s a place where the measurements were first made that proved that the shape of the Earth is in fact an oblate spheroid. Commemorating this is a large monument that straddles the equator called Mitad del Mundo or middle of the world. Note, however, that the true equator is not at the Mitad del Mundo monument. Through the magic of GPS technology, we now know that it is only 240 meters away. The entrance for the park is $4 (included entrance to small museums). For some of the attractions you have to pay extra.
To get there you can take Metrobus to Ofelia and then another bus to Mitad del Mundo. There is also a direct bus from Miraflores in central Quito to Mitad del Mundo ($0.40 Dec 2015). Catch this bus on calle 18 de Septiembre, close to the corner with Av America. It later stops at Universidad Central and all along Av Mariscal Sucre (aka Av Occidental). The ride takes about an hour.
The Intiñan Solar Museum
It is right next to the Mitad del Mundo monument on the other side of the north fence, and located along the true equator as verified by GPS (as opposed to the Mitad del Mundo monument). For $4 you can have a tour of this little museum. They demonstrate the Coriolis Effect and even let you try it (ask for repeating the experiment on your own and they will deny it). Other "experiments" showing effects that apparently only occur on the equator are also scams. The tour is completed by some untrue facts about indigenous cultures in Ecuador and is just straining after effect. In spite of the sprinkling of inaccuracies, some people find the museum much more interesting and informative than the Mitad del Mundo. At the end of the museum tour, you can also receive a stamp in your passport indicating that you've visited the exact equator. When you go to the middle of the world, you can just take a bus ($0.40) straight there, or go with a tour, or hire a taxi driver by the hour. The hourly rate should be in the $12 or less range. Buses leave from the Occidental or Av. America for $0.40 and have "Mitad del Mundo" clearly written large on the front. This is the most economical option and tours of the Intiñan Solar Museum are $4. Entry to the monument nearby is $2, but only worth it for a photo straddling the equator - which you can do at the 'real' equator nearby at Intiñan. Although, some say that the Intiñan's marked line for the equator is also slightly inaccurate, and that the true equator lies closer to the museum's ticket booth if you check by GPS.

Museo del Banco Central
Av. Patria, btw. 6 de Diciembre and 12 de Octubre.
Phone 02/2223-258
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun and holidays 10am-4pm
Prices Admission: Adult $2, Students/Child $1
Located across from the Casa de la Cultura and adjacent to the Parque El Ejido, you'll find perhaps Ecuador's most renowned museum with different rooms, devoted to pre-Columbian, Colonial and gold works of art, among other topics. Some of the famous pieces include whistle bottles shaped like animals, elaborate gold headdresses and re-created miniature scenes of life along the Amazon. The museum is well-organized, and it takes about 3-4 hours to see everything. Guides who speak several different languages including English, French and Spanish are available for a small fee. NOTE: The Banco Central also has a small exhibit downtown, across from La Compañía church. This exhibit usually shows currency or stamps. $1. Casa de la Cultura station in Ecovía bus.
Casa de la Cultura has galleries featuring local Ecuadorian art, as well as hosting theatre, cinema, and dance performances. The building also is home to a big auditorium where concerts from a variety of local and international artists are performed. Depending on what you do, the entrance can range from free access towards several dollars. The price for the concerts depend on the artist, and can range from 25$ to 100$. The easiest way to access is in Casa de la Cultura station in Ecovía bus. 
Museo de la Ciudad
The Museo de la Ciudad is in the Old Town, on Garcia Moreno Street, directly opposite the Carmen Alto Monastery. A lovely museum with two floors encircling two quiet courtyards, the "Museo de la Ciudad" provides more of a social history of Ecuador than other museums in Quito. Re-enacted scenes from daily life of Ecuador's citizens through the years include a hearth scene from a 16th-century home, a battle scene against the Spanish, and illustrations of the building of Iglesia de San Francisco church.
García Moreno S1-47 y Rocafuerte
Bulevar 24 de Mayo y García Moreno,
Telf.: (593-2) 2283 883
Tuesday-Sunday 9:30am-5:30pm (the last addition at 4:30pm)
Last Saturday of the month it is 50% off
Prices: Adult $3.50, Child (3-11yo) $1.50
Museo de Arte Colonial
This museum features a permanent exhibit of Spanish colonial furniture and a vast collection of sculptures and paintings from the School of Quito from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. “Outstanding museum set in an old home with courtyard.” Calle Cuenca & Mejía (Old City) Phone: 593(2)228-2297 Tuesday – Saturday 9:30am-5pm, Sunday, Monday - closed. Price $2
Museo Mindalae
(Museo Etnohistorico de Artesanias del Ecuador Mindalae)
An extremely original project in the north part of the Mariscal District, this museum provides an 'ethno-historical' view of Ecuador's amazingly rich cultural diversity. You can find out about the country's different peoples, from the coast to the Andes to the Amazon, and their crafts in a specially-built and designed structure. The museum has a restaurant for lunch, a cafe and a fair-trade shop.
Reina Victoria N26-166 and La Niña Quito, Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 10am–5:30pm
Admission $3 adults, $1.50 children

Centro Cultural Metropolitano
Located right by the Presidential Palace (Palacio de Carondelet), this museum regularly holds exhibits by leading contemporary Ecuadorian and international artists. A must see if you go to the Old City.
Centro Cultural Carlos Fuentes. A new cultural center located in Av. 6 de Diciembre and Wilson, right in front of an Ecovía "La Mariscal" stop. Contains art galleries, cultural spaces and a great bookstore and coffeeshop.
Casa del Alabado 
Calle Cuenca N1-41 (Between the Plazas of San Francisco and Santa Clara), Phone: 593(2)228-0772. The Museum of Precolombian Art, Casa del Alabado, is a nonprofit cultural institution supported by individuals and private companies. The museum's sole purpose is the preservation Pre-Colombian works of art. It is located in down town Quito, a city that was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. The museum is hosted in a Spanish residence built in 1671 as an inscription states in its doorway: “praised be the holy soul, the façade of this house was finished in the year of the Lord 1671.” "Praised be" in Spanish language is written as "alabado," hence the name of the museum, Casa del Alabado. Open 9:30-5:30 Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00-4:00 on Sundays and Holidays. $4 for Adults, $2 for audio guide, $1 for children 6-12 and seniors.  
Centro de Arte Contemporaneo
The Centro de Arte Contemporaneo (CAC), located in the Old Town in Montevideo y Luis Avila streets., in an old refurbished building which used to be the old military hospital. It is a big museum with multiple shows and cultural events going on at once in its galleries, including concerts and performances. It is one of Quito's main contemporary cultural hotspots. The building also has a beautiful view of the city and surrounding valleys.
Arte Actual FLACSO
Contemporary Art space in the north of the city, which is managed by FLACSO (a social sciences university). Features regular curated exhibitions of local and Latin-American contemporary art. La Pradera E7-174 y Av. Diego de Almagro. FLACSO.
No Lugar Arte Contemporáneo. Contemporary Art space in Centro Histórico (García Moreno y Oriente), has a gallery and artist residency with constant shows and programming.
Alianza Francesa. More than a French language education center, this cultural institute also houses a library, and also has spaces featuring curated exhibitions of local and international contemporary artists, as well as having a dedicated theatre and alternative film screenings. Also hosts an annual big music festival called "Fete de la Musique." Check their website for more info. Avenida Eloy Alfaro N32-468 & Rusia. Phone: 593(02)224-6589
Museo Guayasamin
This museum houses the collection of one of Ecuador's most renowned contemporary artist, Oswaldo Guayasamin. It has a fine collection of pre-Colombian, colonial and independence art, as well as housing many of the titular artist's works. You can also visit the nearby Capilla del Hombre, which is an incredible building/monument built posthumously to house some of Guayasamin's vast canvasses on the condition of Latin American Man. A must place to visit.
Museo Camilo Egas
This museum houses the collection of another of Ecuador's famous artists: Camilo Egas, who had a body of work ranging from "indigenismo" towards abstract expressionism. Also features galleries with more contemporary artists. Venezuela N9-02 & Esmeraldas (Old City).

Quito Botanical Gardens
The Jardin Botanico is located on the southwest side of Parque La Carolina. All of Ecuador's ecosystems is represented with a wide variety of flora. You can take a guided tour or just wander. The highlight for many people are the two glassed-in orchidariums.
Yaku: Parque Museo del Agua
Yaku is a children's friendly science/cultural/park museum that is focused on the importance of water and water resources. Be prepared to get a little wet! It has a wonderful view as well. Calle El Placer Oe11-271, or Calles Bolívar & Rocafuerte.
Museo Interactivo de Ciencias (MIC)
MIC is an interactive science museum, especially suited for kids and young adults who want to learn a little more about physics, math, nature and the flora and fauna of Quito. Sincholagua y Av. Pedro Vicente Maldonado Chimbacalle neighborhood.

Amazon River and Rain-forest

 Basia in Ecuador, February 2018

Ecuador; Amazon Adventure with Gate 1Travel
Amazon adventure