Mother’s Love

One day a man tempted an ignorant boy
Using his money, in order to achieve his objective

He said, “O young one, bring me the heart of your mother
And money, jewels and pearls will be yours!”

So he went and plunged a dagger into her chest
And took out the heart and returned the way he came

But because of his haste, he fell
And the dusty heart rolled away as he stumbled

The heart of his mother called him, and he was covered in dust,
“My son! My beloved! Are you hurt?!”

The voice, although it was so gentle, yet
It was like the wrath of the Heavens had fallen on the boy

Thus he understood the enormity of his betrayal that nobody
Had committed but him in the history of mankind

So he rushed back to the heart washing it with the tears
Of his eyes that flowed from the flood of sorrow

And he said, “O heart! Take your revenge from me and do not
Forgive, because my crime is unforgiveable.

And if you forgive then surely I will kill myself
Like those before me who have committed suicide.”

So as he unsheathed his dagger to kill himself,
A stabbing that would remain as an example to those who seek lessons,

The heart of the mother called him saying, “Stop your hand and do not strike my heart twice in succession!”

Ibrahim al-Mundhir

إبراهيم المنذر

Science and Art

Last night, my friends from the San Jose Baha’i community hosted a devotional program with the theme revolving around the arts at the San Jose Baha’i Center. The program was exciting and out of the box. Having had held devotionals before at our house, this program was different. The devotionals started with series of prayers from the Holy Writings, where we then transitioned to reading quotes relevant to the arts from Baha’i Writings and other sources. After everyone has shared their thoughts on the Holy Writings and arts, we broke out into groups and engaged in artistic activity; whether it is creative writing, composing music, theater/drama, or traditional arts. It was a great idea to build a sense of engagement in the program that provides both spiritual and mental growth in one setting.

Many great points and views were shared during the discussion portion of the group. Among them include how the arts and science are interchangeable, and how art has evolved in history to finally reach the stage where humanity can foster their talents and have access to tools and instruments related to art with ease. In addition, one of the participants has expressed that art is not only a mean to entertain the public, but also to express oneself of their identity and emotions; a channel to which people can express their thoughts and ideas. Another point made is how powerful arts are, and how it can be used to promote the well-being of community, or lead to tyranny. An example of such power can be seen during World War II where the arts were used to promote the propaganda and the interest of one nation.

From these points, I realized that through the power of art and practicing of the art, people can help discover themselves and shape themselves in a healthier manner rather than idolizing individuals and following their footsteps religiously without reflection.

If art were to be the medium of self-expression, science complements it as the medium of understanding of the self.

Art and Science can be interchangeable, where a mathematical formula or computer architecture can be defined as “beautiful”, and the beauty and mystery of symmetry can be reflected through the lens of geometry.

Whether you are a scientist, an artist, or a mix of both, excel in them. Let it become a portal of human progress and self-development, for both yourself and your community.

The Video

The video that I posted in this blog shows a beautiful correlation between arts and sciences. The amazing discovery by Ramesh Raskar, associate professor at MIT Media Lab and co-founder of EyeNetra, presents how light (or packets of photons) travels. What was magnificent is how light did not create a ripple effect on a tomato due to the properties of tomatoes structure, where light travels internally and then exits in the back (or wherever the light bounces from within the tomato). The idea was derived from a work of art made possible by a scientist (the bullet piercing through the apple photograph, for example), and this is among the many steps of progress in the field of physics, and of art.

Gambetta & Crary – Mozart in Hell

Of course, you’d be aware by now that the music is originally composed by Mozart, or more specifically, Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major (‘Alla Turca’) K. 331 (K. 300i): III Rondo alla turca (That’s a REALLY long title).

Beppe Gambetta is an Italian musician born in Genoa in 1955. An acoustic guitar flatpicker and singer, Beppe has been called a “virtual United Nations of influences: Italian, Ukrainian, Appalachian, Sardinisn, Celtic”. He is a composer, teacher, and researcher of traditional music and instruments.

Dan Crary (aka Deacon Dan Crary) is an American bluegrass guitarist. He helped re-establish flat-picked guitar as a prominent soloing bluegrass instrument. Crary is an innovator of the flatpicking style of guitar playing. He is also a Speech communications Professor at California State University, Fullerton. Crary categorizes himself as a “Solo flatpicker” and has recorded several projects that feature him along with guests, usually other innovators of the guitar in all styles.

These two interpreted that Mozart piece and transformed it into this magical piece of music.

Asmaa – Month of Name

It is the first day of the Baha’i month Asma’a, or name. I was responsible in gathering prayers and writings for this day. And I was searching for something relevant to the theme of the month, and shed light to why the Baha’i months have names after virtues or titles; such as the Month of Questions, Glory, Greatness and so forth (Baha’i Calendar). I found this excerpt from Abdu’l-Baha’s Divine Philosophy, which I believe is definitely worth sharing with everyone and relevant to the theme for the month of Asma’a. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have:

“Each religion teaches that a mediator is necessary between man and the Creator — one who receives the full light of the divine splendor and radiates it over the human world, as the earth’s atmosphere receives and diffuses the warmth of the sun’s rays. This mediator between God and humanity has different designations though he always brings the same spiritual command.

In one era he is called Abraham, at another time Moses, again he is called Buddha, another time Jesus, and yet another time Mohammad. All turned to the divine reality for their strength. Those who followed Moses accepted him as their mediator; those who followed Zoroaster accepted him as their mediator; but all the Israelites deny Zoroaster, and the Zoroastrians deny Moses. They fail to see in both the one light. Had the Zoroastrians comprehended the reality of Zoroaster, they would have understood Moses and Jesus. Alas! the majority of men attach themselvesto the name of the mediator and lose sight of the real purport.

Therefore did Bahá’u’lláh cry, “O God, deliver us from the sea of names!”

Man must turn to the light and not think that the form of the lamp is essential, for the lamp may be changed; but he who longs for light welcomes it from whatever source it comes. If the Jews had comprehended Moses, they would have accepted the Christ; but they were occupied with the name and when that name was changed they denied the reality.”

– `Abdu’l-Bahá

More from Divine Philosophy can be found here: Link

Goal to Euro – The German Dream

It seems evident that I am running out of cool titles to use for my Goal to Euro series. However, this is my last submission about my trip to Europe during the summer of 2012. I hope you enjoyed the previous posts 🙂

Germany is a robust and powerful country. Positioned in the center of Europe, it witnessed difficult periods in its history. Of course, among the notorious parts of their history was during World War II. During the Cold War era, Germany was slowly rebuilding their community and society after the double whammy collapse (World War I and World War II). The fall of the Berlin wall, which started on November 9th 1989, built the sense of unity and community within the German public, providing them hope that they can finally live as normal beings in this world.

Away from the dramatic historical introduction, I visited two cities in Germany: Freiburg and Berlin.


Freiburg is located on the West of Germany. It is very close to the border of France, and it can be compared by Californians as Davis of Germany. However, it doesn’t smell like cow dung. The city is beautiful and surrounded by beautiful mountains, valleys and greens. Freiburg is famous for its University, and personally, it is a university town where you would find yourself surrounded with young people riding bicycles in their cute downtown.

View of Freiburg

Freiburg is also renowned for its famous cathedral, Freiburg Minster. The last duke of Zähringen had started the building around 1200 in romanesque style, the construction continued in 1230 in Gothic style. So, you can imagine how old that thing is! The cathedral is surrounded by mini-market, or farm-market, where locals sell their goods to the public. And how can I forget about Bratwurst stands, which are among the most tastiest delicacy I look for in Germany!

A view of the Freiburg Minster

People selling some seriously tasty stuff!

It is said that the Cathedral survived the bombing with the reason that the military used cathedrals as protection posts.


Berlin is rich with history, art, and technology. I can attest that this city is the city of whatever artistic medium Germany generates. The richness of culture and diversity in the city is something that is extremely laudable and memorable. Berlin has went through A LOT of things, and let’s not get started on what they’ve been through. However, the city is filled with life! It is an attractive center for young people and tourists (of course…). However, it holds a dark history that looms in the minds and thoughts of the people I’ve talked to. Not to mention, some people wish to forget this dark past.

The Old and the New

While there, I visited the Holocaust Museum in Berlin, which is surrounded by great blocks that represent the number of individuals that have passed away. The museum was dark and mellow. Personally, I was very disappointed by the museum> As I toured the museum, they shared stories of the horrific experiences the jews, romans, and other races faced under the dark Nazi regime. After going through series of chambers in the museum, I noticed that the end of the museum does not provide any ending. It felt as if the whole purpose of the museum was to merely instill the feeling of sorrow and sadness only to individuals. I wish that they would establish a new room in the museum to shed light on how unity, diversity and cooperation is what bring progress to mankind; providing a sense of inspiration and motivation for people to go forward with a positive cause to prevent not only bloodshed, but eliminate the thought of prejudice, too.

Silent tombs above the Holocaust Museum

My dear friend Marta invited me to go to the Flea Market. During summer, every weekend. Berliners, and few other folks from other cities, come to Berlin to sell their goods and artifacts to the public at the flea market. This flea market does not only sell people’s old belongings, but rather they also sell art works and pieces designed by the seller themselves. I actually bought a mixing system that an engineer was selling at the flea market. And personally, it was an amazing invention! Next to the flea market there is a mini terrace similar to those used during the Roman empire. Built out of stone and clunky. However, it is the place where people can go and sing Karaoke! That’s right, Karaoke!

Marta told me that the Karaoke is held every week during the flea market, and over thousand people gather around to hear the voice of the brave person singing to them their favorite song. The atmosphere is wonderful, and the diversity that was present there was glorious! I have placed it as an item in my bucket list to sing in front of a crowd in Frankfurt, as I have chickened out from singing. Shame on me indeed!

Brave enough to sing infront of this crowd?

There is much to share about Germany, but I’ll leave it at that.


It is my wish that I would return to Europe once again and explore the rich culture it carries. My hosts were unbelievably kind, the nations were beautiful, and the community was inspiring to learn from. I hope that all of us can get this opportunity to travel the world and learn how despite we live miles apart, or even few feet apart, we are all just one big family.

Relevant Links

Goal to Euro Video Playlist

Random Act of Kindess idea

Just thought of an idea that I think is fairly simple to implement

The idea is this:

An interface, whether it is a website, an app, or even just set of tweets, that suggests Random Acts of Kindness integrated with a quote from someone famous.

For example, something along the line of this:

Random Act of Kindness #382

Get coffee for someone
“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.”
-Khalil Gibran

Yet, I find myself very limited in my knowledge of coding to find a way to integrate it to a cell phone. But I’ll find a way to make this possible 🙂

Goal to Euro – The Glory of Ukraine

Ukraine is the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after the Russian Federation. Ukraine is also one of the hosts for the Euro 2012 games. However, you all know that by now, and I think it’s more important to talk about how awesome Ukraine is.



Historically, Ukraine was part of different empires in the past. Ukrainian territories were under the rule of three external powers—the Golden Horde, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Kingdom of Poland. After the Great Northern War (1700–1721) Ukraine was divided between a number of regional powers and, by the 19th century, the largest part of Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire with the rest under Austro-Hungarian control. In essence, they were always owned.

We declared war, but we were too fabulous to continue

After series of more wars and Ukranians fighting for their independence, they finally became part of Soviet Russia as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which became one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations. Seriously, if you are Ukranian, you should be proud!

Mother Motherland Monument - This monument is even bigger than New York's Statue of Liberty!

Other matters

Ukrainian is the official language of Ukraine, and Russian is also widely spoken (and trust me, it’s for the best to speak Ukranian over Russian). The younger people speak English quite well. So, you won’t get really lost in translation.

Ukraine remains a globally important market and supplier, particularly, the world’s third biggest grain exporter. In Soviet times, the economy of Ukraine was the second largest in the Soviet Union, being an important industrial and agricultural component of the country’s planned economy.

The dominant religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which has heavily influenced Ukrainian architecture, literature and music.

One of the Orthodox Churches in Kiev

According to the Ukrainian constitution, access to free education is granted to all citizens. Complete general secondary education is compulsory in the state schools which constitute the overwhelming majority. Free higher education in state and communal educational establishments is provided on a competitive basis. Because of the Soviet Union’s emphasis on total access of education for all citizens, which continues today, the literacy rate is an estimated 99.4%.

And of course, you can imagine that at present Ukraine is its own country after the fall of the Soviet State in 1991, and things have gradually shifted to modernize Ukraine. I spent most of my days in Kiev and Dnipropetrovsk, so, let’s shift gears!


Kiev or Kyiv (Ukrainian: Київ; Russian: Киев) is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine. It has a very sophisticated infrastructure, which is quite modern, tons of soviet era type buildings in its outskirts and also a few buildings that survived from the 18th century and older.

To dispel any misunderstanding about Ukraine and stuff, it’s a safe country, and only if one acts like a fool, drunk and quite stupid would end up in the wrong side of things (much like anywhere else in the world). Of course, during the Euro 2012 games there was an increase in the number of police around the city. However, in essence, the citizens of Ukraine are extremely hospitable and quite friendly. So, avoid listening to your media sources, and do plan a visit to Ukraine.

Oooooh, Panorama!

However, Ukraine does suffer from corruption and poverty. From what I’ve learned is that even though it is very cheap for those from the West to visit Ukraine, the cost of living (more specifically rent) is highly rigged. In addition, political unrest is present due to the jailing of the previous Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.

And if they do....?

Despite the hardships, there are Ukranians who are fighting to bring justice, freedom and progress for their nation. And Ukranians are quite patriotic about their culture, identity and people. Most of the Ukranians I’ve met are highly educated individuals with great vision whose aim is to work for the benefit of not Ukraine alone, but for mankind.

What Next?

Consider Ukraine as a country in your list of countries to visit. It is honestly among the most beautiful places historically, culturally, and definitely great for legit Ukranian food 😀

Follow me on Twitter @abehjat

In Soviet Ukraine, Adib Comes To You!

Relevant Links

Goal to Euro Video Playlist

Goal to Euro – Kiev’s Olympic Stadium

Poland and Ukraine are the hosts of the Euro 2012 games. The games are held at 8 stadiums that are distributed between these two nations that hosts the soccer matches.

For Poland, they are:

And for Ukraine, they are:

The Sun newspaper provided a nice infographics of the stadium and their capacity, this can provide an idea of their capacity and shape:
Euro 2012 Stadium

Each stadium is unique and beautiful in design and architecture. My journey in Kiev gave me the opportunity to visit one of those massive and beautiful stadiums; the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex, or simply Olympics Stadium. The stadium is the premier sports venue in Ukraine and the second largest in East Europe after Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. The complex also features several other sports facilities and is designed to host the Olympic Games (the stadium hosted some football matches at the 1980 Summer Olympics).

The first match that I attended for the Euro 2012 in Kiev was the Sweden vs. France match. For that game, I was supporting France because I assumed France’s reputation and performance will still last against the Swedes, and the Swedes have so far been defeated twice. But I was wrong…

Before entering the stadium, I visited the area around the stadium to get an idea of how massive it is. My conclusion: It is massive! Not to mention, the architecture was beautiful. The exterior of the stadium is lined with great symmetry, and its height gave it a unique sense of majesty as it scratches the sky with its greatness.

The following is a video of me walking around the stadium:

The cafes and bars surrounding the stadium were FULL of football (or soccer for your Americans) fans, and this only happens during the games. I’ve visited the area when there are no games, and it is more packed with tourists who come there to see the massiveness of the stadium and weep to the fact on why they haven’t bought EuroCup tickets.

One encounter around the stadium was a group of Brazilian fans that were singing in the cafe and preparing for the beautiful evening. Cool thing about this is that Jenia, my beautiful host, and I have met few Brazilians prior to arriving to the stadium. And one of the Brazilian fans told me that he will be performing in a cafe before the match. I didn’t expect to see him again, but lo and behold, here he is singing songs in one of the cafes:

Hours have passed, and adrenaline is pumped in my veins. I am finally ready to rock out! My dear co-host, Yulia, and I head to the Olympics stadium ready to watch the amazing game. The lines to the stadium were long, but they have organized the entry points pretty well to allow a good influx of fans to enter the stadium:

Walking past the check-point, it was all celebration and partying. There was face-painting, people dressed in carnival clothes, marching bands, and everything you can think of that falls in line the concept of carnival, celebration or things to do before watching an amazing football match!

In the stadium, I was seated next to the Swedish fans. The concept of supporting France is now distant in my mind like Pluto and the Sun. The fans were roaring! Chanting Swedish songs, Seven Nation Army (White Stripes), or their national anthem. Of course, there were “boo’s” when France got close to the Swedish goal-post.

Swedish fans cheering loudly:

Swedish fans singing their national anthem:

Swedish fans chanting Seven Nation Army:

What was impressive for me is that during Half-Time, they water the field to make the field more moist and playable (I assume so):

At the end of the game, people headed home in festive mood. I admired the fact that people were calm and had maintained civility; unlike what the media loves to publicize. Therefore, don’t trust what the media says all the time 🙂

Below are videos from the Italy vs. England game. I was supporting Italy with the English fans on my left. It was a wonderful experience. Here is a video of us doing the wave!

You can see more videos of my trip, including the videos from the stadium, here: Goal to Euro Playlist

I hope you enjoy this post and I’m looking forward to share more with you all about Ukraine, soon!

Relevant Links

Goal to Euro Video Playlist

Goal to Euro – Hosts of Krakow

This European trip wouldn’t have been possible without the kindness and hospitality of my hosts. When I arrived to Krakow, I’ve been blessed to get to know three wonderful beings that made my trip pleasing and interesting.

I would like to introduce Marta, Marcin, and the little one (I forgot her name, and I feel extremely bad about it. My pathetic memory 🙁 ):

The wonderful hosts

With every travel I embark in, I personally like to talk and learn more about the experiences and culture of the local people. Touristy places aren’t that attractive for me. When I arrived, Marcin has helped me and provided me with excellent information in regards to the places that I should visit that represents the essence of Poland; including but not limited to: Main Square, Jewish Quarters and Schindler’s Museum.

Marcin is a professional double bass jazz player. When I arrived to my hosts’ home, we both shared our thoughts about the music we listen to and how music is taking a unique course. I was curious about the direction of Jazz in Poland itself. Marcin told me that each European country has its own unique taste in Jazz, and what is pleasant in Poland may be unpleasant to the ears of those from other European countries. In addition, he stated that improvisation has become a large part of Jazz music within European countries, as the musicians are integrating traditional folk elements into jazz. On the side, he does paintings, too. Marcin, by profession, studied medicine. But music was his calling 🙂

Marta, on the other hand, is one of Poland’s renowned national poet. She has written few books, and has exhibited her works across Poland and the world. One amazing experience I recall with her was when we were discussing about the source of Poland’s economy. All she did was call a number, talk for few minutes, and later she provided me with a detailed answer. She then explained that she called the Minister of Aviation/Transport. And this call was made at around 9 PM – 10 PM. In essence, Marta is a very strong and passionate woman. She currently teaches Literature at The Pedagogical University of Cracow and in Warsaw University. On the side, Marta enjoys doing photography, and I recommend you to see her work 😀

That’s all for now, until tomorrow, where I hope I’ll start writing about my journey in Ukraine!

More about Marta: Wikipedia Link

P.S. Chuck Norris is actually in the adverts in Poland, thus the main photo:

Relevant Links

Goal to Euro Video Playlist

Goal to Euro – Adib explains Krakow

On Friday and Saturday I spent the time to explore the city Krakow. Krakow is one of the oldest and second largest city in Poland. Historically, this place is renowned for its culture, education and art of Poland. In essence, the cultural and economic center of Poland.

Krakow is also located next to the Vistula River. And this river is significant as it separates the old Krakow with the new, more modern Krakow. To explain, let’s look at the following map:

Map of Krakow

As you can see, old Krakow city is surrounded by parks. Let me note that these parks used to be castle walls. But according to residents, it was torn down by authorities and instead they created parks. Residents don’t complain much about it, but they prefer to see those walls.

South of the Old Krakow city is the Jewish Quarter of Krakow. This place has its own vibe and life compared to old Krakow. It’s more silent during the day, but for some reason, the nights are filled with parties. I guess that’s how you live up the Middle Eastern culture. Night life all the way 😀

Once you cross the bridge from the Jewish Quarter, this part of Krakow is slowly transformed to the Soviet Era and modernized touch. You’ll notice the architecture is different here compared to the old Krakow city and Jewish Quarter.

Not to mention, Krakow is the home for the famous Schindler! Krakow has a museum dedicated to the history of Krakow during the World War II period. The museum is called Schindler’s Museum, and the building is Schindler’s own factory, and I was very glad to have had the opportunity to visit it.

I don’t want to write too much since it’ll be TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read), but here are some photos of the things I’ve seen and caption to explain it:


Vistula River

Walking along side Vistula River in Krakow

Vistula River 2

Castles, Ferries and Vistula River in Krakow

Old Krakow Building

A building on the outskirts of Old Krakow

Vistula River Bridge

View of the River from a bridge

South Krakow - New City

Construction of new buildings across the Vistula River

Vistula River and Church

A view of Vistula River and Church

Politically Correct Trash

I found this hilarious...found by the River

Locks of Love

These are locks that represent a relationship that have been put up by couples 🙂

More pictures are on Facebook. But the following are the videos.


Rynek Główny (Main Square) of Old Krakow is filled with culture, restaurant and cafes. It’s rich with life and definitely among the places to see if you are visiting Krakow the first time:

After spending some time downtown, it was time to move to Blonia Park. Blonia Park is a historical area that is 48 hectres. I’d recommend you read more about it on Wiki. Here is a glimpse of Polish football fans going towards the screening of the EuroCup 2012 match between Poland and Czech Republic:

To enter Blonia Park, there was a security checkpoint to ensure the safety and security of spectators. I intentionally took this video to bring comfort to my mother’s worry:

Once I entered the park, this place was PACKED with people waiting to see Polish football players to score a goal against Czech Republic. People chanted, blew their Vuvuzelas, and sang the anthem as loudly as possible in hope that their sporty spirit will inspire the Polish players to rock the game:

After the Czech Republic and Poland match, there was a group that was conducting Modern Dancing for those who are not too fond of EuroCup. Caught the end of the program, but hardly seen much. But here is a small clip of it:

Relevant Links

Goal to Euro Video Playlist

Goal to Euro – Ironman, Bratwursts and Chuck Norris

I have finally arrived in Poland after a 24 hours flight. It was a very tiring flight, but I can’t hold back some of the random experiences that I have faced in the past 24 hours.

SFO Gates

Release the Deutschland!

I departed from SFO (San Francisco). It was 2:55 PM, the gate was bombarded by middle-aged Germans and random other folks. The air was tense as it seems everyone is trying to flee the USA. Like forcing two magnets of the same polarity to attract.

I had the window seat, and based on my amazing research on planes, I’ve selected the window seat that faces the wings. I flew on one of those jumbo jets that are two story high. I was seated next to this awesome fella, whom I forgot his name (how embarrassing). This fella is 2 meters tall, curly haired dude and was a fresh graduate from Gymnasium (German High School). He came to San Francisco to celebrate his graduation, spending his 5 days roaming around and exploring the city. During our conversation, we exchanged music, movie tastes, learned a bit of German and talked about our culture. But the best moment was in the middle of the flight, he pulled his Iron Man mask, and pulled it over his head. To me, this was HILARIOUS. To others, this looked like a suspicious terrorist attack. Until we started talkng loudly on how Tony Stark is trying to maintain his budget and is traveling economy class. Here is a glimpse of this fella:

Ironman and Adib

No comments about my face

When I landed in Frankfurt Airport (FRA), I had an hour to arrive to my gate to go on to my next flight. Of course, the assumption was that the gate won’t be packed and hopefully I’ll get there. WRONG!

I cannot explain the number of security checkpoints I had to go through to go from one terminal to the other. I have been stamped by the German Authorities three times (entering the country twice, and exiting once). In essence, I missed my flight. I forgot to mention that for the two entry checkpoint, I had to go through the scanning and security check. God forbid the lines.

FRA Hallway

Long hallways are long...So, about catching my flight?

While waiting for my next flight, I gave myself the honors to go roam around the massive airport. Personally, I was going into the Duty Free to find a cologne to wear since I feel I stank from the long sitting down trip from SFO. And I realized since I was in Germany, there was only one thing to do – Bratwurst, and of course, Mezzo Mix (Fanta and Coca-Cola mix drink. Trust me, it tastes like heaven).

Chocolate stand in FRA

German chocolate simply pwns!


German's greatest national pride!

That’s all I’ll share for now for my trip. Tomorrow I’ll document my experience in Krakow, and share the story of my awesome hosts, and the city I am in.

Until then…

I’ll leave this here, which is placed right underneath my host’s apartment:

Chuck Norris

Not sure if Soviet Russia Joke, or Chuck Norris Joke?

Relevant Links

Goal to Euro Video Playlist

The first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Economics

It is a sad day for the people in the field of Economics. Today I’ll write about Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in the year 2009. She passed away this morning at Indiana University’s Health Bloomington Hospital. Elinor was a political scientist; however, she had a deep interest in the science of Economics; more specifically, in understanding how people interact with one another and how they utilize common pool resources, such as forests, fisheries, oil fields, grazing lands, and irrigation systems. She was renowned for her work and efforts in “her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”. She was the first, and to date, the only woman to win the prize in this category.
In other words = LIKE A BOSS!

Elinor Ostrom receiving the Nobel Prize


Elinor was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She grew up in a family of mixed religious background (Protestant and Jewish), and pursued the degree of Political Science at UCLA (from Bachelor’s all the way to Ph.D.). According to her colleagues at Indiana University, she often spoke about what it was like to be a child of the Great Depression, helping her family grow food in a large garden and knitting scarves for soldiers during World War II.

At the workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis

In 1973, she co-founded A Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University with her husband, Vincent Ostrom. Examining the use of collective action, trust, and cooperation in the management of common pool resources, her institutional approach to public policy, known as the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework, has been considered sufficiently distinct to be thought of as a separate school of Public Choice Theory. Public Choice Theory models people, institutions and groups as mainly self-interested. In particular, it studies such agents and their interactions in the social system either as such or under alternative constitutional rules. In the realm of political science, for example, Public Choice Theory takes shape in the form of votes, politicians and bureaucrats; where the voter behavior influences the behavior of public officials.

Noble Prize “for her analysis of economic governance”

Ostrom, who won a share of the 2009 prize for her groundbreaking research into how people overcome selfish interests to successfully manage natural resources, and are capable of creating rules and institutions that allow for the sustainable and equitable management of shared resources. In essence, how resouces can be managed successfully by the people who use them, rather than by governments or private companies. She shared the prize with Oliver Williamson, a University of California economist.

The Research

To demonstrate the significance of her work, we can share the following example that was shared by Zoe Chace of NPR’s Planet Money:

One of the knottiest issues in economics is the tragedy of the commons. But Elinor made it not so tragic, after all. In 1968, young Elinor read an article by Garrett Hardin which posed a classic economic problem: A cow pasture open to everyone.

The problem states that everyone would then put their cows on and they would overharvest. That’s the classic tragedy of the commons – everyone uses something, but no one is in charge. So nobody takes it upon themselves to take care of a common good. According to Garret Hardin who posed the problem, he stated that the people who faced this problem are trapped and have no solution. Leading to the conclusion that they require an outside factor to interfere to solve their problem; either the government had to step in and police the pasture or the pasture had to be divided up between the people who used it and privatized.

That was the only way to solve the tragic problem, as Hardin saw it. But Ostrom found tons of examples where this didn’t play out. In fact, in the Swiss Alps, there was this exact situation: A pasture with cows on it in the mountains.

These cows found Garrett Hardin's problem disappointing

In the Alps, it’s patchy. And so it snows well in one location, and another one, not much. Therefore, depending on where you placed your cows, you’ll either be lucky, or unlucky, depending on the climate throughout the whole year. Hence, if you fenced it off into small sections, then most of the farmers would be out of luck every year. But just put a fence around the whole thing and everyone benefits.

This might be common sense, but considering that economics of the past revolved around the fact that people are only motivated by self-interest, Ostrom’s research expresses the reality that people are not purely motivated by self-interest, and that people have the potential to arise to a better conclusion and outcome through cooperation and pertaining a common goal.

Struggle and Success

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After she was awarded the Noble Prize, she gave an interview at NPR regarding the struggles she faced as a young woman pursuing her education:

Ostrom spoke with NPR’s Michele Norris about how as a young woman she wasn’t allowed to study trigonometry because she was going to be “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.”

Michael McGinnis, a friend and colleague who was at her bedside when she died, said that Ostrom donated her share of the $1.4 million Nobel award money to the workshop — the biggest by far of numerous several academic prizes with monetary awards that the Ostroms had given to the group over the years.