Friday, July 24, 2015

John McQuaid Reveals the Secrets of Flavor & Taste of Food

John McQuaid talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat.

There’s all these variations among populations and among people in what people can taste that we’re just beginning to understand.” ~John McQuaid

John had worked for the New Orleans Times-Picayune as a reporter for over twenty years, and in that time has shared in three Pulitzer Prizes stories he had written, and after that he went off on his own to investigate environmental issues that he was interested in. He got involved with the subject of taste after getting burned out on reporting about disasters and the environment and wanted to investigate a topic that was more along the lines of pure scientific research.

John became interested in taste when he discovered that his son preferred spicy food and his daughter preferred comfort foods, and he wondered why, as his two kids were raised in the same environment, their tastes were extremely varied. He always had an interest in how things worked and had been inspired by the book, The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan, and combined his interest in science with his ability to tell stories to create his career as a reporter, among which was an accurate projection of how a super-storm would affect New Orleans three years prior to Katrina hitting the city.

Where taste is concerned, thanks to recent research, our knowledge of taste has progressed beyond the tongue map, which John notes, was based on a scientific mistake committed decades earlier. More sophisticated molecular biology techniques have been developed in the past two decades, research which springs from research on the human genome (DNA), and which have created a revolution in research on taste. The decreasing cost of technology, along with a renewed interest on taste, is currently playing a big role in this research and this, along with interest in companies in developing food products that will better appeal to consumers through the way these taste, helps drive the discovery of new information on the subject.

According to John, one of the discoveries of taste research is that, while we humans only have a handful of sweet receptors in our genes, we have around two dozen where bitterness is concerned. Not everyone, it must be noted, has all such receptors, with John himself being an example, as he doesn’t have one type of bitter receptor and thus does not taste that kind of bitterness. That said, taste also has a cultural component, as John notes that humans may be inherently aversive to spiciness or hot chilis but certain cultures and people can learn to overcome and actually enjoy this particular taste.

Taste has always been useful to humans, particularly as hunter-gatherers. John notes that in the developed world, some people remark that taste has become somewhat of a liability due to the readily-available presence of good-tasting foods on the market that have little by the way of nutrition the way it’s supposed to be.

Where his book, Tasty, is concerned, John sees it as more of a window into present research into taste and expects it to become somewhat obsolete in the next ten years due to the increasing amount of information that comes out of research being done on taste. He does hope that readers will think differently about the food they eat and about taste after they do read his book, which should appeal to foodists and those in the business of food preparation.

John notes that he has become more aware about the food he eats where tastes and flavors and the associated sensations are concerned. His favorite kinds of taste are on the strong side, such as espressos and single-malt scotch, and the taste he dislikes is that of anchovies (because of their strong fishy taste) and liver. He wants to explore the link between taste and emotions in the future. Beyond Tasty, he is also interested in important environmental issues where the understanding on these is not yet clear, as well as international development, such as fighting diseases where a combination of human effort, technology and policy can make a difference.

John McQuaid’s website is

Purchase on Amazon - Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mike Cardoza Takes You into the Secret World of Debt Collection

Mike Cardoza talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, The Secret World of Debt Collection: Beat Collectors at Their Own Game - A Former Collections Executive Reveals How.

"It's not about you. You’re just one electronic account in a blizzard of millions of other accounts [in debt]." ~Mike Cardoza

Mike Cardoza is a lawyer whose passions are dealing and interacting with people, “making deals and doing business,” as well as talking to and, more importantly, listening to them. He spent several years in the United States Marine Corps, serving as a trial attorney, and at present is still a reserve officer in that service. He started a company with a good friend of his after he got out of active service in the Marine Corps, a company that bought and collected consumer debt, and then started a debt collection law firm, which they later merged with a large regional collection law firm. He spent seven years in this industry and gained a deep insight into the debt collection industry, and it was while he was here that he noticed that a lot of consumers were unaware of their rights, which collection companies leveraged on. It was this, as well as the realization that there was no coherent source on the nature of the debt collection industry that people could easily access, that prompted him to write the book, which is intended to educate its readers - individual consumers - on the nature of the debt collection industry in the United States.

The debt collection industry runs in the billions of dollars. Mike notes that the credit card is now the main method for conducting peer-to-peer credit, and that credit has been useful in running the economy. Mike notes that debt and credit aren’t bad things, as these help run the economy, as debt “binds people together” into a common trust, enabling them to succeed together in ways that they wouldn’t be able to on their own. He notes that just about everyone uses debt and is using it productively and wisely, such as using debt to fund their education or their house. He also points out that those who are responsible for merging or acquiring companies consider the debt structure when doing so, with too much or too little debt being a possible point of concern, as companies need a certain level of debt to ensure that these are using their resources optimally, particularly when it comes to making that company grow.

The average person’s view of debt, Mike believes, is rooted in a lack of information about personal debt, pointing out that most of such information would come from a relative who would counsel about not getting into more debt than one could repay, as “debt is bad,” with the more thorough classes on debt being offered at the college and postgraduate levels. People thus do not look at debt with the same detachment that MBAs do, and get entangled in such emotions as shame, fear and guilt.

Mike remarks that several laws, such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), have been passed to modify corporate behavior when it comes to debt collection that these favor the consumer, provided the consumer knows what these are. One of the tenets of the FDCPA, for example, is that a company cannot disclose the details of a person’s debt to a third party in order to shame that debtor into paying. He also notes that collection companies are designed to collect money from what he called the “lowest hanging fruit,” which are essentially the people who want to pay anyway.

Where companies are concerned, offering credit cards to college students and people who have newly entered bankruptcy makes good business sense, as college students will eventually land good-paying jobs that would enable them to pay off their debt, and people who have entered into bankruptcy cannot enter into another bankruptcy for a certain period of time. Mike also notes that defaults enable companies to determine the limits of the depth of their market, and that defaults are thus built into the financial structure and business model of companies.

As Mike notes, only around five percent of the population of the United States is in default in their debt at any one time, and Mike’s advice to someone who is called up by a debt collector is to realize that it’s not about them, and that vague generalities will be used to spook a defaulter to pay up. He also mentions that there are a lot of attorneys who would be willing to handle a consumer’s case for free, as the laws provide for payment of attorneys’ fees.

Mike indicates that he wanted to explore the subject of credit reporting, as this is a growing industry (as of 2015). He notes that Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs), for example, handle a lot of information which could lead to concerns about electronic privacy.

Mike admits that he’s just a normal a person just like any other, who also has times when he is down, and his greatest joy is in using his natural gifts to help others.

Mike Cardoza’s website is

Purchase on Amazon: The Secret World of Debt Collection: Beat Collectors at Their Own Game - a Former Collections Executive Reveals How (Paperback)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Carol Colborn Lives the American Dream of Driving an RV Cross Country

Carol Colborn talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream, a Travel Book.

“Drive if you must, but cruise whenever you can.” ~Carol Colborn

Carol Colborn originally hails from the Philippines, where she had a very busy career. Her last job was being the president and CEO of Bayantrade, which is an e-procurement hub of the Philippines, and prior to that she was managing director of SAP in the Philippines. She was a Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue prior to that, where she handled the automation of revenue collection, and before that she was the general manager of the Megalink ATM consortium of Philippine banks. Given her career as a high-powered corporate and business woman, she admits that she left the care of her children to nannies (“yayas” in Tagalog, the Filipino language) and didn’t have a close relationship with them.

Carol had always been fascinated by the United States, and had wanted to retire there, particularly since her two children had grown up and made lives there. The impetus for her to emigrate to the United States occurred when she realized that the stresses associated with her career took a toll on her health, and at the same time, she needed to look after a sister who eventually died of cancer. Carol saw how lonely her sister was in the last days of her life and it was a wake up call. Being estranged from her husband then, she then decided it was time to emigrate.

Carol remarried shortly after she reached the United States to a man who had a business of his own, and after he retired and sold his business, they decided to go traveling, making the most of the money that they had accumulated to finance their trip (they had planned well for their retirement). They had originally intended to travel the world and teach English as a second language, but they eventually decided against working while they traveled, and since they had enough money on hand, they would travel via RV.

The five-year trip took Carol and her husband to strange new lands across forty-nine American states, nine Canadian provinces and six Mexican states. She notes that there are some eight million RVs in the United States and around thirty million Americans who live the lifestyle, several of whom stay in one place and take up a temporary job to make money before moving on. She also notes that there is a whole range of options to take so that a trip by RV would not be as expensive as one would usually think. The best thing about traveling by RV, according to her, is not needing to pack or unpack, as the RV carried everything they needed, and that one can go wherever he or she wants to go. During the trip, she learned about living minimally just off the essentials. The worst thing about traveling by RV, according to her, are concerns with health care (particularly since she and her husband are already senior citizens), being away from family, and not having the opportunity to develop long-term relationships along the road.

The trip was an internal one for Carol, for it was during this time, by her account, she became a wife, a wanderer and a writer. It was also during this trip that she came to an understanding of herself as a Filipino, then as an American, and then as a Filipino-American. Carol noted that she felt an affinity towards the United States - and even Canada and Mexico - and despite the fact that she felt some discrimination as an immigrant and a newly-minted citizen, this didn’t stop her from being fascinated by, and drawn into, the culture she had found herself in. For a time, she had wondered if she was losing touch with her Filipino roots, but the time eventually came when she realized that she had her own identity, which made her re-pledge allegiance to the Philippines and thus attain dual citizenship.

The one place that really stood out for her was their trip to the Arctic Circle. It was summer then, and the colors of the plants that they saw on the way there were vibrant, and despite feeling the heat of the sun blazing at their destination, it was also so cold that Carol and her husband didn’t stay outside their RV for too long - just enough to take a picture and admire the view.

The book came about from the blog posts she had written as well as all the pictures she used to document the trip. She realized she already had enough material for a book. There was also a story in there involving conflicts, issues with health and getting used to another culture. She said there was no room for disagreements in an RV.

Carol is excited by life in general and is cautious about overextending herself physically. She already has four more books in the works, and she and her husband are presently setting their sights on Europe and Asia, planning to use an RV wherever possible. She hopes to make an impact in the future by creating some sort of niche that acts as a bridge between Philippine-American relations.

Carol Colborn’s website is and her blog site is

Purchase from Amazon: Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream (Paperback)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Poonam Dhandhania Tips on Meditation, Manifestation, Healing and Success in Life

Poonam Dhandhania talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, not just The Small Book of Meditation.

"Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens with you, it happens for you, and it’s playing the music for you." ~Poonam Dhandhania

Poonam Dhandhania has been counseling people for the past eleven years and has been working with recovering drug and alcohol addicts for the past five years. She had also been practicing meditation for the past fifteen years, she experimented with various types of meditation, such as OSHO meditation, and also investigated various kinds of healing, such as Reiki and the Silva Method, and has recently investigated clinical hypnotherapy and clinical sound healing. She used the knowledge she learned to work with recovering addicts, and, as she was doing so, was encouraged to write a book on inner healing, which resulted in not just The Small Book of Meditation, which not only deals with meditation but also deals with forgiveness, letting go of anger and becoming more aware of one’s own thoughts to asses which things need to be released.

Poonam described three of the methods that she uses, and which she explores in her book. Reiki is the first method she learned, and this system is involved with the energy of life and how one becomes a channel for this and thus effect healing, both in close physical proximity and in distant physical proximity. The Silva Method emphasizes using the mind to enable a practitioner to manifest things in one’s life, and this includes visualizing reaching one’s mental alpha level of brain activity, which is the level which meditation strives to achieve. NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, revolves around enabling one to program one’s thoughts so that one can, through control of thoughts, achieve one’s personal desired level of success.

The healing in the book is intended for oneself, or how to reach a better understanding and awareness of oneself to lead a life with better relationships with not only oneself but with everyone else. Poonam went the route of traditional publishing, sending out e-mails to publishers, and in this respect she was successful in landing contracts with two publishing companies - Omji Publishing House in India and with GMTA Publishing in the United States. She admits that she published the book because she wants to help others, and any monetary benefit to her would be secondary in nature.

Poonam notes that “I don’t have time” is the first thing that pops into peoples’ heads when it comes to meditation, particularly when it comes to dealing with the busy nature of modern life, and she also notes that all it takes is five minutes to just sit down and center oneself so that one can recharge one’s batteries, so to speak, and thus become better at work and in one’s life. Poonam also mentioned that there are two kinds of yoga - the yoga of the body, which includes breathing exercises, and the yoga of the mind, which is what Poonam deals with. Poonam also notes that meditation is not about stopping one’s thoughts but becoming aware of these, and that regular practice of meditation will eventually enable one to achieve a meditation where no thoughts are present.

Healing of the mind, Poonam also notes, is related to thoughts, with positive thoughts impacting the body positively and negative thoughts impacting the body negatively. She notes that a person with positive thoughts occurs to others as being bright and vivacious, while negative thoughts make a person uneasy, which will manifest in one’s body as “dis-ease.” Being aware of one’s thoughts thus enables one to identify which thoughts are negative and which are positive, and then to let go of the negative ones in order to center, balance and ground oneself.

In addition to healing, Poonam is also excited about life in general and is always happy to try out new things. Never the party girl, she focuses instead on a cause which she espouses, and that is to help others. Poonam Dhandhania’s website is

Purchase on Amazon: not just The Small Book of Meditation