THE RENEWABLE READER
HOW MY FIVE SONS CREATED THEIR OWN DREAMS The Road Not Taken
As my sons grew up, it didn’t occur to us that they would pursue their own business enterprises. What we learned, in hindsight, was the power of exposure and example. I didn’t grow up around any entrepreneurial influences; I am a first-generation entrepreneur inmy family. As I look back, I realize that example is a very powerful influencer. My motto is what I call the James Brownmentality. When faced with entrepreneurial challenges over the years, I would often think about a James Brown lyric: ”I don’t want nobody to give me nothing; just open the door, I’ll get it myself.”As my sons grew, they developed this same determination. Whenmy son, Edwin, who is a chef, completed his training, I mentioned to him that he might want to work as a chef for someone else for a while, get his bearings in the industry. Well, that went in one ear and out the other. He immediately began putting on tastings and booking catering clients. Not long after, he began personal chef duties for entertainers and athletes. I mentioned inmy previous edition that the mission of Urban Career Institute is to reach the large number of people that haven’t been treated fairly by the education system. From elementary school, students are constantly told that they need to go to college in order to establish a lucrative career and build a successful life. I fully encourage students to expand their knowledge base and skill sets, however, due to societal expectations, both teenagers and their parents are made to think that a college degree is the only way to guarantee a future job. My life, and the lives of my sons, serve as testaments that the prototypical college-bound career path is simply not for everyone. I have five sons, and every single one of them is an entrepreneur. When raising them, their mother and I intentionally never encouraged them to go the nontraditional education route. Because they grew up watching their mom run her own cosmetology business at home, and because they witnessed the love I had for my own entrepreneurial career, it makes sense that they chose to follow in our footsteps. All of my sons are named after great men in our family, and they have certainly done their namesakes proud. My oldest son, Andrew (named after my grandfather), followed his mother’s path and has his own cosmetology chair. My second-oldest son, Leonard (named after my father), followedmy path, and started his own plumbing company, LRS Plumbing and Heating, which has now become one of the go-to plumbing businesses in Los Angeles. My third-oldest son, Kenny (named after
me), has made a name for himself in the world of transportation, having established his own enterprise called“Transportation by KAR”(his initials), working with both Uber & Lyft. My fourth-oldest, Edwin (named after his uncle), initially excelled in the art of drawing. He proved to be the class clown, and after being asked to leave, turned to the only fine art left: Culinary. He and his teacher hit it off very well. Under her direction, he won the LA City Culinary Competition that year. He now goes by the name“Chef E-Dub”and has a food truck, a take-out location, and a personal chef’s clientele of entertainers and athletes. Last but certainly not least, my youngest son, Owen (named after his uncle), manages the plumbing company started by his older brother, Leonard. Leonard began training Owen when he was only 15 years old, and somuch of the company’s success stems fromOwen’s hard work. As a doting father, I would be proud of my sons regardless of their career choices. But the fact that every single of one them recognized their strengths and forged their own path, despite the societal expectations encouraging themotherwise, makes me feel truly blessed. Although their choices went against what might be considered today’s American dream, I can only hope that their lives encourage other young people tomake similar choices, to create their own dream.
GET YOUR KIDS TO EAT HEALTHIER THAN EVER
Do your kids get enough nutrients in their diet? If they’re like most kids, the answer is probably no. You want your children to eat more vegetables and less processed junk, but they certainly don’t make it easy. Even getting the average kid to chow down on a serving of broccoli can be a huge chore. In fact, food manufacturers have built an entire industry that takes advantage of our kids’ penchant for sugary cereal and fast food. However, a diet of highly processed foods can lead to a host of problems. Not only do these poor dietary habits carry over into adulthood, but a poor diet can hinder brain development and may even cause behavioral issues. A study in the American Journal of Public Health found links between poor diet and the development of depression in kids and teens. But how can you encourage your kids to eat healthier? Often, it comes down to presentation. A mound of plain old veggies is not appetizing — not to a 10-year- old and not to a 40-year-old. Instead of presenting vegetables as a boring side dish, think of them as an ingredient. Take lasagna, for instance. This tasty, familiar dish is easy to modify. Instead of using lasagna noodles, use zucchini. Simply slice the zucchini into thin, noodle-like strips, then layer them as you would typical noodles. The same can be done with other pasta dishes, such as spaghetti. Zucchini noodles — or “zoodles”— are delicious in marinara sauce and decadent in Alfredo.
THE ORIGIN OF NEW YEAR’S DAY
The month of January kicks off by welcoming the new year — there are countdowns, fireworks, and of course, the ball drop in a freezing-cold Times Square. But why? Why do we start our calendars when much of the U.S. is in the dead of winter? Why January? The short answer is Julius Caesar and Roman politics. The calendar had long been a political tool in Rome. Depending on who was in power, Roman pontifices would add or subtract entire weeks from the year, manually adjusting the term limits of elected officials. As you could imagine, this caused a lot of chaos, because months frequently slipped out of time with the changing seasons. After becoming emperor, Julius Caesar brought about some much-needed reforms. Inspired by the Egyptian solar calendar, Caesar fixed the Roman year at 365 days and instituted the leap year to keep months aligned with the solstices. He moved the new year from the spring to the day that elected officials traditionally began their year-long terms, Jan. 1. This choice carried spiritual significance, since January was named for Janus, god of doors and gates. What better month to celebrate new beginnings? Under Caesar and subsequent rulers, the Roman Empire expanded its reach, carrying its calendar with it. While much of Europe adopted Caesar’s calendar, New Year’s Day remained a hot-button issue for centuries. Thanks in part to the spread of Christianity and to the colder conditions in Northern Europe, there was a lot of resistance to the January start date. Religious leaders saw it as a pagan holiday, and much of Europe chose to restart the calendar on March 25, during the Feast of Annunciation. Much of Catholic Europe officially recognized Jan. 1 as the start of the new year after Pope Gregory reformed the solar calendar again, correcting certain mathematical errors made in Caesar’s day. There were still holdouts, however. In fact, England and its American colonies continued to celebrate New Year’s Day in March until 1752. So there you have it — we were very close to having our fireworks celebrations in lovely spring weather. Ultimately, the ubiquity of the Gregorian calendar won out, as the demands of our increasingly interconnected world made a shared calendar a necessity. So if you struggle to start your New Year’s resolutions this winter, blame Julius Caesar.
If push comes to shove, you can easily hide vegetables in foods your children already know and love. Did you know you can make brownies with avocado and black beans? Slipping in a few healthier ingredients here and there can deliver those nutrients in a pinch, especially during an especially chaotic school week.
But, if you’re hoping to foster long-lasting healthy habits, the best thing you can do is offer your child a choice. Say something like “You can have
the cauliflower, or you can have the broccoli. It’s up to you!” Let your child have that control. Psychologists and social scientists, including the famed Dr. Maria Montessori, argue that when kids feel in charge of a decision, they are more likely to embrace one of the options — even if it’s a vegetable.
Ultimately, as a parent, you are in charge of your child’s diet. Help them explore new foods and foster a positive culinary environment. Your kids will develop a taste for healthy eating in no time!
MOM REALLY DOES KNOW BEST 3 Wives’ Tales Proven True
“Make a face like that, and it’ll stay that way forever.”You may have heard something like this from Mom’s book of wisdom. Maybe you never disputed the idea that mother knows best. But as you grew up, it slowly became clear that hair doesn’t grow back faster and thicker if you shave it, cracking your knuckles doesn’t cause arthritis, and gum doesn’t stay in your stomach for months after you swallow it. After a whirlwind of wives’ tales over the years, many common claims have been put under scrutiny. Wives tales have been known as pseudoscience and blind intuition, but even as many were disproved, some surprisingly proved to hold weight. Here are three wives’ tales that have proven to be true. Garlic Cures Colds For decades, moms have professed the healing properties of garlic, suggesting it can cure colds and help the body fight sickness. It turns out they were absolutely right. Garlic has antiviral properties that strengthen the immune system and nutrients that help combat illnesses. The effects of garlic can actually be more effective than over-the-counter flu medications. Some studies show that regular consumption of raw garlic lessens the likelihood of getting a cold, so if you feel a tickle in your throat, try a clove before you open the medicine cabinet. Heartburn Means a Hairy Baby It’s hard to list wives’ tales without bringing up one about pregnancy. Many are solely based on intuition, but a few that sound odd are legitimate. In 2007, a
study done by Johns Hopkins attempted to debunk the myth that heartburn during pregnancy
would mean a hairy baby at
birth. Instead of proving it wrong, they found that 82 percent of women with severe heartburn during pregnancy gave birth to hairy babies. Turns out the hormones that cause heartburn in pregnant women also affect fetal hair growth.
Joint Pain Predicts the Weather Did you ever look at your mom with skepticism when she would predict rain because her knees hurt? If so, you might owe your mom an apology, because there is a scientific connection. The drop in barometric pressure that’s common during storm weather causes pain in arthritic joints.
CHICKEN CHOP SUEY
TAKE A BREAK
Inspired by The New York Times
2 large or 4 medium chicken thighs
2 teaspoons sugar
3 pounds bok choy, cut into 3–4-inch ribbons 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
In large pot, boil three cups of water. Add chicken and reduce to simmer, cooking for 30 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool. Once cooled, remove skin and bones, chop, and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid. In a large skillet over high heat, heat vegetable oil. Once shimmering, add bok choy and cook for 1 minute, stirring throughout. Add half of reserved cooking
liquid, cover skillet, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer bok choy to a plate. Add remaining cooking liquid and chicken to the pan, maintaining high heat. Heat chicken, then add oyster sauce, sugar, cornstarch-and-water mixture, sesame oil, and bok choy. Season to taste, toss together, and serve over rice.
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How My Five Sons Created Their Own Dreams
Why Start the New Year in Winter?
Trick Your Kids Into Healthy Eating
3 Wives’ Tales That Are True Chicken Chopped Suey
What Happens to Military Service Dogs?
Reuniting Brothers in Arms There are around 2,500 military working dogs currently in service, and their efforts help save the lives of countless soldiers and civilians every day. One of these brave military dogs is Sgt. Fieldy, This wasn’t the only IED Fieldy found. His sharp nose and dedication helped save thousands of lives. After his deployment, Caceres returned home, but Sgt. Fieldy served several more tours without him. While Fieldy continued to protect soldiers and civilians by tracking down IEDs, Caceres worked tirelessly to make sure he could bring Fieldy home when his service was over. Military working dogs can be adopted by former handlers, law enforcement, or qualified civilians when they retire. After three years apart and a total of four tours served, Sgt. Fieldy was reunited with Caceres. In 2016, Fieldy received the K9 Medal of Courage Award, and in 2018, he won the American Humane Hero Dog Award for his service. Sgt. Fieldy Comes Home
an 11-year-old black lab who was trained to locate the No. 1 threat in Afghanistan: IEDs. Sgt. Fieldy was deployed to Afghanistan with his handler, Cpl.
“These dogs are out there with us,” said Caceres when he and Fieldy accepted the Hero Dog Award. “The dangers we face, they face them too. They deserve to be recognized. We ask so much of them, and all they want is to get petted or play with a toy. They’re amazing animals, and Fieldy is just an amazing dog. I can’t begin to express the gratitude I have for him.”
Nicolas Caceres, in 2011.
Early in their deployment, their vehicle struck a pressure plate while they were on patrol. Fieldy and Caceres were all right, but one of the other Marines in their company was badly injured in the explosion. The injured Marine could not be evacuated by helicopter until the landing zone was secured. Fieldy found another IED in the area and alerted Caceres. The bomb was quickly disarmed, and the injured soldier was taken to safety.
If you are interested in supporting our nation’s working dogs or would like to adopt a retired working dog yourself, you can learn more at Missionk9rescue.org.
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