Thursday, February 22, 2018

Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino on Her Mother's Filipino Recipes Cookbook

In this interview, Betty Ann Besa-Quirino talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, My Mother's Philippine Recipes: Filipino Cookbook Recipes from Asian in America.

“It’s always about trying to make a difference in somebody’s day, somebody’s life, or in the community.” ~Betty Ann Besa-Quirino

Betty Ann Besa-Quirino
As a child, Betty Ann had heard her mother say that she wanted to write a cookbook for her friends, with Betty Ann recalling that the way her mother taught others to cook was instructional, in a way that her mother hoped was inspiring, as well. The family house of Betty Ann’s childhood was located in Tarlac City in the province of Tarlac, in The Philippines, along the highway, and as Tarlac was halfway between Manila and Baguio, her parents’ friends - literally busloads of them - would often drop by on trips between these two cities. Betty Ann remembers well the energy and excitement of the preparations, as well as the usually two hours’ worth of camaraderie and bonding that resulted whenever everyone sat down for a meal. She also remarked that her mother essentially got her basic recipes from her own mother, who got these from her own mother, the latter being from Spain, and that her mother was good at using whatever ingredients were available on the family farm for their dishes. Betty Ann thus wrote My Mother’s Philippine Recipes in her honor, remarking that she lived out each ingredient and dish in the book in her childhood.

When she and her family relocated to the United States, Betty Ann wanted to reduce the stress related to the move on her family, and one of the ways she did this was by cooking Filipino dishes, to give her family a sense of contact and familiarity with their past, despite the fact that the ingredients she needed weren’t readily available back then. Her sons have maintained the tradition of cooking Philippine dishes, with Betty Ann noting that “they cook better than me, now,” and that they now teach her new recipes. Her eldest son experiments with different types of cuisine and holds supper clubs, where he sells tickets for people to sit down to a dinner with dishes that he cooks, and as an indication of this, Betty Ann remarked that her son recently cooked so much paella that it needed to be held in a container the size of a Filipino batya (essentially a large, deep bowl roughly two feet wide and eight inches deep). Betty Ann’s youngest son, on the other hand, prefers to cook for himself. Betty Ann also notes that her sons combine their interest in wellness with their cooking, and that Filipino food isn’t always the greasy and unhealthy stereotype.

According to Betty Ann, while there is no single dish that could be identified as representative of Filipino cooking, what distinguishes Filipino dishes is the harmonious mix of various flavors and textures which are combined in a single dish. One example of this, according to Betty Ann, is lumpiang shanghai (commonly known in the US as an egg roll), which is a basic dish with a wide range of flavors and textures and which is the dish that Betty Ann uses as an introduction to Filipino food for those who haven’t yet tasted it. Betty Ann remarks that, when she goes to a get-together with friends, the lumpiang shanghai she brings along is gone within ten minutes. She also gave as an example someone who dismissed her lumpiang shanghai as “same ole same-ole egg rolls” and the person involved, after tasting them, got “hooked” so to speak. She also gave sinigang as another example of the successful interplay of flavors and textures. She remarks that Filipino food is getting more recognized nowadays due to social media, and notes that the food itself will evolve as time goes on.

When it comes to traveling and getting information on new cuisine, Betty Ann likes to listen to the stories told by newfound friends as, within those stories, there is usually a recipe to be found. At present, Betty Ann would like to explore Japanese cuisine more, as she is interested in the methods and techniques to prepare dishes, as well as the dishes’ flavors and appearance.

Betty Ann remarked that, as a writer, she loves to tell stories and create pictures with words, as well as to help inspire others. She always thinks of ways to reach her audience, and to make other people’s life better through her cooking. She thus recommends knowing whom one is talking to and trying to find out how to make their day better.

Purchase from Amazon: My Mother's Philippine Recipes: Filipino Cookbook Recipes from Asian in America by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chamin Ajjan on Seeking Your Soulmate and Ditching the Dating Game for Good

Chamin Ajjan talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book on dating, Seeking Soulmate: Ditch the Dating Game and Find Real Connection.

“The other person is not an extension of your worth.” ~Chamin Ajjan

As a psychotherapist, Chamin Ajjan notes that writing a book creates credibility, and while she wanted to write one she felt she was too busy, as a working mother, to do so. When an acquisitions editor from Parallax Press saw her blog, liked it, contacted Chamin and suggested she write a book, Chamin then told her husband who then suggested the same thing. And so, Chamin did.

Chamin wrote Seeking Soulmate in a way that the tools within are easily understandable, usable and fun, making it as relatable as possible. She used her own personal and clinical experiences to help her write it, noting that single patients who are in therapy inevitably talk about their concerns about dating. Chamin remarks that dating is something that everybody does at some point in their life, which makes it a commonplace activity that everyone does. She also noted that dating is a vulnerable experience, as people are in a situation where rejection is part of the process, and has dealt with men, women and people from all walks of life, be they gay, old, young and the like.

Chamin remarked that both men and women have the same pitfalls where dating is concerned. One of the most common mistakes she sees is wanting one’s partner to have qualities that one does not, qualities which fill the missing pieces in oneself. This is a mistake, according to Chamin, as one should be whole and healthy and seeking someone to enhance one’s life, rather than to find someone who will fill the missing pieces in one’s life. Chamin notes that people do this because they struggle to look at themselves and their problems and what is missing in themselves objectively. The result of a relationship where one or both partners seek to fill a void in themselves with the other is a problematic relationship, as the other person’s role is not to complete one but to enhance one’s life. The other person will feel that one is a burden to that person, trapped and wanting to escape the situation or retaliate, and one then resents the other person for not giving the things that one would expect in order to feel complete.

One of the other concerns that Chamin noticed is the feeling that one has to sleep with, or wants to sleep with, the other person too quickly. While Chamin sees nothing wrong about having a sexual connection with another, she remarks that doing so too quickly results in lust mimicking love, which creates the illusion of love. This, according to Chamin, is a bad foundation to create a relationship, as it is based on hormones rather than commonalities.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most researched and evidence-based psychological treatment methods in use today. It is about understanding the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behavior, as thoughts affect the way one feels, feelings affect how one behaves and behavior affects one’s thoughts. Changing any one of these affects the other two, and once one figures out the relationships amongst these one can intervene to make changes in one’s life. Chamin notes that it’s not possible for one to tell oneself, “I won’t feel angry/jealous/sad,” but one can change what one does or how one thinks about the situation to make that change. Chamin then gave an example of how negative thoughts about dating affect one’s feeling and how to challenge these thoughts to break the cycle and change that aspect in one’s life. Chamin notes that people have thousands of thoughts every day, most of which are ideas rather than facts; and as these thoughts are ideas, these can be challenged, rather than be allowed to stop one from one’s ultimate goal.

Mindfulness, according to Chamin, is about being aware of what is happening in the present moment instead of being focused on either the past or the possible future. Bringing mindfulness into one’s everyday interactions in a non-judgemental way enables one to learn to sit with those thoughts, be curious about these and then deciding whether or not to go with such thoughts. This is where the power lies in mindfulness, Charmin remarks, as it doesn’t lie in controlling but in letting things be and making choices based on these. Mindful dating is a combination of CBT and mindfulness which is brought into romantic and dating encounters, and this allows one to get in touch with oneself and to create a real connection with the other person. Chamin also remarks that “we live in this very strange time,” when technology intended to keep people connected becomes a source of disconnecting with the person one is dating when it is integrated into the date.

To those who are getting tired of dating, Chamin recommends approaching their date from a mindful space and gave the practice of “tail-dating” as an example. “Tail-dating” is based on “tailgating,” which is done before big athletic meets, wherein one gets connected with oneself, and then gave her own personal tail-dating activities as an example where she troubleshoots what might happen during the date as well as creates the intentions before the actual date itself. She also notes that one should also plan for the date and should be gracious and thankful and, to end the tail-dating, to affirm oneself in order to center and be attuned to oneself.

Charmin notes that the message of her book is about enabling oneself to become aware of oneself, so that the same patterns and situations will not be repeated and that one can be the person one is, instead of the person that one thinks the other person would want one to be.

Purchase from Amazon: Seeking Soulmate: Ditch the Dating Game and Find Real Connection by Chamin Ajjan

Friday, February 9, 2018

Franz Sedelmayer & His Story As The Only Man to Collect Money from Vladimir Putin's Russia

In this interview, author Franz Sedelmayer talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by, about his book, Welcome to Putingrad: The Incredible Story of the Only Man to Collect Money from Vladimir Putin.

“Don’t take Putin too serious (sic). Don’t take Russia as a superpower.” ~Franz Sedelmayer

Franz decided to write Welcome to Putingrad as a way to get his own story down while within the historical context of the times that it took place, spending seven years in the former Soviet Union building his business there.

Franz had the opportunity to interact with Vladimir Putin several times over the course of his business dealings. President Vladimir Putin came from a humble background, and Franz describes him as a “Napoleon” where height is concerned, and which thus enables him to project a strong personality to others, although he could change the way he deals with people, from friendly to frigid, as needed. At the time that Franz first met Putin in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Putin was someone who was genuinely concerned about the welfare of the city he served and who was an incorruptible city official who called it as it was and with whom reliable agreements could be sealed with handshakes. Putin went over to Franz’s house several times, over Bavarian food and beer, particularly since he enjoyed conversing in German. Franz also, during that time, became familiar with several people who are now, or were, powerful, influential men in Russia, giving him an inside look.

Franz mentioned that Putin needed to fight for what he got, and he was a recruiter for the KGB, trained to project himself on others as their mirror to lure them in and then lead them for a short time before turning them over to other KGB handlers. When East Germany collapsed in 1989, he went to law school and then was assigned to St. Petersburg to troubleshoot the problems its first democratically elected mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, had created. Sobchak was considered corrupt and gaming the democratic system then in place to enrich himself. This meant that Putin had to work with a corrupt police and general public system and deal with problems like the Russian mafia while attempting to increase business investments in the city.

Franz notes that the loyalty that Putin displayed to the mayor became Putin’s “ticket” to joining the Yeltsin clan. Putin then became the chief of the international department of the Presidential Administration of Affairs, after which he became the head of the FSB (formerly the KGB), then, Prime Minister and then, Acting President in 2000.

Pres. Vladimir Putin (Image from Wikipedia)
Putin joined the UdPRF, which is the Office of Affairs of the Russian Federation, in 1996, when he returned to Moscow, According to Franz, the UdPRF was started by Lenin to seize and distribute the assets of the deposed Tsar and his family, as well as other Russian noble houses. The UdPRF provided everything to Party members and favorites, from good quality health care to cars, and was a billion-dollar organization back then, and those who didn’t toe the party line lost their privileges.

In 1991, Boris Yelstin took over the UdPRF, turning it from an organization controlled by the Communist Party to an organization controlled by the President. This enabled the President to control industry and any freebies given out and, thus, anyone in any organization in Russia. The UdPRF, according to Franz, is a “cash box” from where the Russians get the funds needed to conduct overseas activities aimed at disrupting economies and societies. The UdPRF has also confiscated assets from other people, such as the business Franz used to operate, and is thus a source of graft. Franz remarks that the UdPRF, by its own admission, is worth USD 600 billion, including all the companies under its umbrella, and the organization isn’t on any sanctions list, making it free to operate wherever it wanted.

Where involvement in such events as the 2016 US election and the political shift to the Right within Europe is concerned, Franz notes that UdPRF involvement is a given, and that Putin doesn’t have to order it to undertake such actions, as this is SOP for the UdPRF. Franz remarks that the Russians have given cash donations to influential people and put out notices on social media supporting these. According to Franz, the reason for doing this is to create discord and shift values related to ethics, freedom, democracy, morality and the rule of law, with the end goal of creating what are essentially puppet states that can be controlled by Russia. Franz notes that the Russians are well ahead of anyone else when doing this, giving examples of some politicians and influential people in Germany and some other nations who have apparently been recruited by the Russians and who are now in the Russians’ pocket. Franz agreed that the Russians have always been good at recruiting people from other nations, but unlike during the Cold War, when espionage and spreading Communism were the end goals, the current goal is all about money. Franz also remarked that such actions cost a fraction of what it would take to start a war to seize a sovereign nation.

Franz notes that Russia is not, economically, strategically or militarily a superpower, as its GDP is only around one-twentieth that of the United States’. Where Russia’s military is concerned, it is no longer the massive military machine or industrial complex that it once was, according to Franz, so it can no longer engage in long-term conflicts, and it now serves the interests of Putin. Franz cited the example of the Russian intervention in Syria, where the objective was to drive more refugees to the West, which would make the Western nations more unstable, and also remarked that Putin starts a limited intensity conflict somewhere to deflect the attention of the Russian people from such internal concerns as rigging elections and corruption.

Franz notes that Putin and his associates, including oligarchs who want to remain friendly with the Kremlin, are fleecing Russia, taking their wealth out of Russia because they can’t find suitably good places to put these in. Putin and his associates thus use Western laws to protect their own assets while using these funds to help conduct the operations outside Russia. Franz remarks that the Russian oligarchs always seek to curry favor with the Kremlin, and that Putin views and treats them merely as serfs.

Franz remarks that Putin has risen up through the ranks by showing a high degree of loyalty to his superiors, and that Putin, today, wants to hold on to power for as long as he can because, once he loses his position, he has “no place to go.” Franz remarks that anything Putin says today, whether in public or in private, is likely to be the opposite of what is true, which is the biggest change Franz noted in Putin. Franz also notes that, once removed from power, Putin can’t travel to other nations because someone will eventually open a criminal case against him and his associates, and that if he goes to those who legally hold his money, the latter might think it easier to ignore him than to hand over the money.

When asked if Putin still cares about him, Franz remarks that he’s not sure. That said, Franz noted that, unlike others who have attempted to go to court against the Russians, he hasn’t had criminal charges fabricated against him, and that he has been threatened less than others who have done so.

Where the average Russian person is concerned, Franz notes that he or she cannot defend themselves from those in authority, as there is no rule of law. Franz cites Putin saying, “For my enemies, the law, for my friends, everything,” and notes that there is nothing to prevent the Russian state from seizing a business or a company at will, with any resistance resulting in trumped up charges and a stay in jail. Franz notes that the present situation is similar to Stalinist times, and that the police will stop a person for a handout of money which, if not given, will result in confiscation of one’s driver’s license or one’s car, with no legal redress available. It is because of this that Franz strongly advises against conducting any sort of relationship with Russia at the moment.

Franz remarks that changing the Russian system from its present state to one which will uphold the rule of law will take a generation. Russia notes that NATO must reunite and confront Russia for its own good, or else the Russians will, in the long run, remain the winners.

About Franz Sedelmayer

Mr. Sedelmayer is the CEO of MARC LLC, which specializes in international dispute and crisis management, and world-wide claim recovery services. He was educated at the Munich International School, attended the University of Utah, and served in the German armed forces (airborne and signaling).

In 1989 he moved to Russia and became a pioneering entrepreneur, forming the joint venture “Kamenny Ostrov Company JSC” with the USSR Ministry of Interior’s Leningrad City and Regional Police Department to supply law enforcement equipment. He enjoyed a good working relationship with the then deputy mayor, Vladimir Putin, which included his equipping and training the FSB SWAT team “GRAD” pro bono for the Goodwill Games.

In 1996 President Boris Yeltsin nationalized Mr. Sedelmayer’s Russian holdings. He pursued his claim through ad hoc arbitration under the German-Russian bilateral investment treaty. “Sedelmayer vs. Russian Federation” resulted in the very first international arbitration award against Russia.

To date Mr. Sedelmayer is the only claimant who has collected on a claim from this sovereign debtor. His dispute has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Economist, der Spiegel, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Newsweek (Russia), Bild, Reuters, Dagens Industri, SvD and Dow Jones among others. Mr. Sedelmayer has appeared on BBC, NPR, BR, CNN, ZDF, DW, SVT, Echo Moscow, Russian State Television’s RTR and NTV.

Purchase from Amazon: Welcome to PutingradL The Incredible Story of the Only Man to Collect Money from Vladimir Putin by Franz Sedelmayer

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Ilan Wurman on A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism Book

In this interview, Ilan Wurman talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism.

“Originalism is a capacious concept.” ~Ilan Wurman

The genesis for A Debt Against the Living began when Ilan was studying in law school. He had heard about originalism and when he went looking for a short, general introduction on the topic he couldn’t find one, and it was over the course of the years that he realized that such an introductory book needed to be written. Ilan subsequently wrote A Debt Against the Living, which serves the purpose of being the introduction to originalism that Ilan wished he could get his hands on while he was in law school. The title of the book is based on a phrase found in an exchange of letters between James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, and the book is readable and accessible for the general reader. It is a distillation of the arguments and findings about originalism and the United States Constitution, and is also aimed at anyone who’s curious about the Constitution, originalism and how it is judiciously interpreted. (Ilan also remarked that, in his opinion, some forms of legal documentation would be better written in the conversational manner that the book was written in.)

Ilan remarks that the Constitution is a law that the people of the United States enacted to bind the governing officials of the country, which means that it is important to one’s everyday life, as it touches on everything within the country itself.

Originalism is the idea that the American Constitution should be interpreted according to its original public meaning. It is also, more fundamentally, the idea that there is a distinction between what a law is and what that law should be, and this distinction underlies the continuing validity of any law; and as the Constitution is a law in itself, the supporters of originalism argue that this distinction should also be applied to the Constitution itself. Originalists believe that the words of the Constitution should be interpreted the same way the words of any communication which is intended as a public instruction should be interpreted. This means that the words should be interpreted based on the audience to whom the communication and instruction was directed to, and leads to a determination of whether or not a law needs to be changed, particularly if it is no longer considered to be a “good” law.

Ilan points out that the older version of originalism was based on “original intent,” where the intent of the original framers was the basis of a judicial ruling. Present-day originalism looks at the original public meaning of the words, regardless of secret intent behind the words themselves, taking into account the context in which those words were written, as well as the legal effect of what that particular meaning has in the world at large.

One of the largest alternatives to originalism is living constitutionalism, or “common law” constitutionalism, which believes that precedent matters more than text. With this alternative philosophy, judicial precedent develops over time, as society evolves, and this philosophy gives judges the authority to change the meaning of the law, regardless of the original text and intent of the Constitution, to make it more adaptable to changing circumstances. In this view, the Constitution needs to be updated as time goes by, particularly if the mechanisms in place make it hard to make changes. This can get tricky, as unelected officials can then make fundamental changes to law based on their personal belief on what needs to be updated, regardless of what the people believe.

Ilan points out that originalists need to defend the Constitution as still being valid after all this time, as it balances the twin, competing objectives of creating a regime of self-government and protecting natural liberty. He points out that his is achieved in the Constitution through such mechanisms as separation of powers, the bill of rights, checks and balances and the enumeration of powers. Ilan also noted that the Constitution was deliberately written in “broad strokes,” as it was intended to be an enduring document which takes into account possible future circumstances.

Ilan remarks that the appointment of originalist judges in the various circuits has an impact on how the United States will operate, and gave an example of a farmer whose consumption of wheat for himself was impacted by law, because of the imposition of federal law, as well as the admissibility of evidence in court, given the circumstances under which that evidence was obtained.

Purchase from Amazon: A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism by Ilan Wurman