TCM: Some Local Foods

This is the presentation I used at the meeting on foods. It isn’t snapshot not including all there is locally. I am own the road and will post some short travelogue themes for the next twomweeksmof travel and exploration.

To see this full screen click on the square with arrows on the lower right of the presentation above.

TCM: Seminar on BoqueteNing.com

I had several people ask me to do a seminar on how to use BoqueteNing.com I agreed and was surprised by the number of people who were in attendance.

BoqueteNing.com was developed as a community communications tool and has been online for about six years, it has 3300 members and and many more who visit read it daily without ever joining. It is a good source of information for visitors and residents, as well as often a source laughs and entertainment.

The goal from the beginning was a free flow of ideas. Of course children will always be children, regardless of age, so we needed to set some guidelines to prevent food fights and flame wars.

The rules are simple:
“Boquete.ning.com is an open community forum
Neither the admins, nor anyone else posting on this forum is responsible for the posting, ranting, raving or good things posted by anyone else. It is not our intent to censor or delete any discussion relevant to Boquete, Panama. Just keep on topic, Boquete, and do not abuse other members.”

The goal remains No Censorship.


BoqueteNing.com is free to all users including business who are encouraged to post activities and things of interest to the community.

BoqueetNing.com has two administrators, Fran Hogan and I, we both work for peanuts or pizza, when offered, otherwise we volunteer our efforts.

The costs for keeping BoqueteNing and this blog online are paid by me. Those costs are subsidized by people who place ads and most importantly by people who make Amazon purchases through BoqueteNing by using the Search Box for Amazon.com on both sites. That is a painless way for people who planned to buy from Amazon.com to keep us online.

If we ever get ahead of expenses I plan to buy a big bag of peanuts and maybe a pizza for Fran without whom we could not keep Ning somewhat sane.

This is a copy of the presentation

TCM: Dr. Ted Harrison on Stem Cell Therapy, no Snake oil here

As an avid reader my book list includes a lot of Science fiction. One of my favorite authors years ago was Robert Heinlein, recently I reread many of his books, including the Lazarus Long series about life extension. It is nice to see that despite the obstacles placed in the way of embryonic stem cell research in the United States, there has been growth in the knowledge base in the rest of the world. There is both research and practice that is making some of the fiction I read into reality. Modern medicine is now  investigating some of Heinlein’s fantasies, like growing new organs in a laboratory and using them to replace failing body parts. It can be done in a lab today and  in time, hopefully  be done on a practical basis in a hospital, but not yet.

I expected a full house for this presentation, one by a doctor, not a snake oil salesman. Once again I was disappointed, it appears that snake oil, pseudo science and it’s electronic derivatives sell better than reality to many people in Boquete. I do believe those who came and listened are better educated for the experience.

This was a presentation about advances in an area of medical research that can even now in it’s early stages can enhance your life if you have any of a number of serious medical issues.

Stem cells are the undifferentiated cells that when developed and differentiated can become any part of your body. Over the last few years medical science has learned how to use stem cells from non embryonic material which has opened many new lines of research without legal restrictions. As Dr. Harrison explained your own body can now be the source of the stem cells that can be used to heal your ills. A new play on physician heal thyself.


If you want to know more about what a Stem Cell is, this is a link to a tutorial done by the University of Michigan. LINK

We learned that there are currently therapies using stem cells that can resolve some health issues. Some of the areas that are well established are cosmetic procedures, others can eliminate the need for more drastic surgery like a knee replacement. The research continues in many other areas and in time as the knowledge grows Stem Cell Therapy might be the root of a medical revolution; one not encouraged by big pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Harrison pointed out that Stem Cell Therapy in the US, where he is a licensed doctor, has been limited by the FDA. By the nature of stem cell therapy the FDA considers it a drug therapy and has refused to approve the use. His theory being the multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry, which does provide much of the FDA budget, has much to lose when your body can generate what you need to cure your ills.

Other countries have no such restrictions and clinics have opened in other venues, including Panama. In Panama City you can find the Stem Cell Institute and Dr. Harrison said they have treated about 1,800 patients to date. This is the LINK to their website.
Their website has a trove of information for those who want to know more about the present and hopes for the future.

In summary, real medicine is advancing faster than the laws that regulate it. There are new solutions to old health issues and they should be investigated before traditional intrusive treatments are used. It is also critical to investigate the claims of doctors and clinics and be sure they are no selling false hopes today for technologies that have not yet been tested in double blind studies on humans, not lab rats.

Quakery abounds in medicine with miracle cures based on pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo being offered by people who sell fantasy cures to those who need real help. Stem Cell Therapy is real, but beware of someone at the Tuesday Market offering a magic stem cell pill that when swallowed will fix all your ills. That pill does not exist, yet.

TCM: The Petroglyphs of Panama

Our speaker at the Boquete Tuesday Meeting was Dr. of Anthropology, Luz Graciela Joly Adames, Tenured Professor of Anthropology at the Autonomous University of Chiriquí. One Panama’s most professional has excelled in anthropological research. She has just returned recently from a conference in Cuba about the Petroglyphs of Panama.


She gave us a brief and interesting history of the many stone carvings that have been discovered in Panama. These rock carvings are a written historical record of early Panama. Although the rocks can be dated the carvings cannot.

Petroglyphs can be found through Panama and this a map of known sites in Chiriqui.


One place you can see petroglyphs without a guide book is in Volcan at the Sito de Barriles.

Sito Barriles2

Sito Barriles5

The video below was posted on Youtube by Jere McCormick of Boquete

TCM: Prof. Peter Bormann on Tsunamis on Fat Tuesday

If you missed the meeting today you missed another excellent presentation by Dr. Bormann who travelled from near Jaco Costa Rica to educate us. The quality of many presentations like this is excellent and I am dismayed when half the seats in the BCP are empty. It is makes me question if the effort of those who organize and present is worth the effort for a disinterested community.

The presentation on Tsunamis was a good university survey level presentation. The summary is that if you are on the coast, any coast and feel an earthquake for over 10 seconds in duration put away the surf board and head for higher ground and stay there until you hear an all clear. It can take hours for a Tsunami to hit and they are usually multiple waves, the first not being the largest. Another signal of an impending Tsunami is if the ocean retreats further than normal, then run for higher ground because it indicates a tsunami wave is in route.

When asked if he had any knowledge of Tsunamis in Panama Dr. Bormann said no, but there is little written history. He commented of an island which had an old legend of tsunami flooding and that that legend coupled with observations of nature saved many people when the island was hit by a tsunami. The residents had fled the coast already. It might be of interest that I spoke to locals in Pedesi a couple of years ago. I asked why no one built on the beaches there until recently, they had similar local folktales of waves sweeping the beaches clear of earlier structures.

This is Fat Tuesday, it is also the official Carnaval holiday in Panama so don’t expect much to be open. The exodus from the national Carnaval fiestas will start later today and end tomorrow as people head back into real world again. Be careful drinking and driving, in fact don’t do it.

Here in Boquete the big event is at Fuzion Grill starting at 5pm. I hope to see you there.

Wow, from Chile to OSETI, the optical search for intelligent life

After almost a month on the road it is great to be back in Boquete. Although I never felt the need for ruby slippers, I did need to return to the tranquility of Boquete. After living all my life in Cities, I retired to the hills overlooking Boquete, I love the sounds of Panama including the crowing of my roosters. My holiday schedule was mostly cities, they are a great place to visit for culture, cuisine and energy but I prefer living here and visiting there.

My efforts at a real time travelogue were dashed by a failed power supply and then a loss of some data. I was going to move forward without more about the month away, but several people asked about the trip and wanted to see photos. I will do a post on each city we visited with photos and occasional suggestions for the traveller based on our experience and then a cost of living comparison to Panama.

Yesterday, I thought I had returned to earth after almost 24 hours of sleepless travel getting back to Boquete. Then I went to the Tuesday meeting and listened to Ben Schuetz a Boquete resident discuss his search for intelligent life someplace far beyond Chile.  Ben has been a resident of Boquete since 200, a retired physicist/engineer and amateur OSETI investigator.

The presentation was about the history, current work and future outlook for SETI and OSETI. Everyone knows what SETI is, but few know about OSETI,  “Optical Search for Extraterrestrials”, that is, searching for laser signals from ET.

Ben has created his own OSETI observatory, the Boquete Opera House and Observatory here in Boquete. It is probably the only one chair opera house with a telescope in the world. Ben has also developed and built his own optical search tools. As Ben admitted to a packed crowd in the newly remodeled BCP theater, his search is a exercise that is unlikely to bear fruit or discover ET. It is however his way to enjoy life after his career, we all find our own paths if we look for them.


TCM: A health insurance option, with some possibilities

Today the Boquete Community Meeting we heard from Digmory Rivera, a  Miami based Health Insurance Sales representative. She showed us to options for health insurance for expats in Panama from International Medical Group. One policy is for full-time residents, the other for snow birds who spend six months or less in Panama. What we also learned is the six month policy allows roll overs and therefore provides an option for continuous coverage.

I played with building some quotes for me, age 64, these are annual rates.

The part-time option for six months looks like this for the same 64-year-old male. You can model quotes at this URL LINK

You can do your quote here. LINK

There are many questions and the web site answers some like pre-existing conditions. There are other questions best addressed to Digmory Rivera info@dmymarketing.com. The prices look pretty good but as always the devil is in the details, the exclusions etc. I suggest reading and emailing Digmory.

MG Plans
Buy Patriot Travel Medical Insurance
Buy Global Medical Insurance

TCM: Heliconias and the environmental reality

Today in Boquete Panama at the Tuesday meeting Carla Black provided some education about the genus of plants known as Heliconias.

According the Wikipedia “Heliconia, derived from the Greek word helikonios, is a genus of about 100 to 200 species of flowering plants native to the tropical Americas and the Pacific Ocean islands west to Indonesia. Many species of Heliconia are found in rainforests or tropical wet forests of these regions. Common names for the genus include lobster-clawswild plantains or false bird-of-paradise. The last term refers to their close similarity to the bird-of-paradise flowers (Strelitzia). Collectively, these plants are also simply referred to as heliconias.”

Carla showed some specimens ranging from small to one cut into sections so she could transport it’s thirty foot stalk. She discussed her garden, one I have not seen for several years and her up coming plant sale June 30- July 1. More on that at her website http://www.heliconiagarden.com/ .

In all of the discussion that happened one part stuck in my head, Carlas trip into the Nogbe Comarca with the Panama Audubon Society. The bird watchers went to see the birds, Carla and her husband Angel went to find Heliconias in the wild. In addition to discovering many heliconias they did not know they observed the destruction of the forests in the comarca. People clearing land for pasture even when they had no animals to put onto the pasture. The destruction of what is a unique environment, in this case only for the hope of future gain, not even a reality.

If I was Christian I would be preaching that we are only Stewards of this planet. Stewardship in a Christian context refers to the responsibility that Christians have in maintaining and using wisely the gifts that God has bestowed. God wishes human beings to be his collaborators in the work of creation, redemption and sanctification. Increasingly this has referred to environmental protectionism. This also includes traditional Christian Ministries that share the resources of treasure, time and talent. [2] wikipedia

If I had a pulpit I would be preaching Panthesim. Pantheism is the view that the Universe (or Nature) and God (or divinity) are identical. Wikipedia. Actually since the Internet made me a minister, perhaps I need to find a pulpit. Unfortunately not being a citizen here my rights to point out the obvious are limited to whispering on this blog.

Many of us came to Panama because of it’s extraordinary beauty. When I arrived in Boquete I said I had no idea there were so many shades of green, all those trees along the path from Panama City. Costa Rica has recognized their treasure and protects huge areas from development preserving them for the future and becoming a tourist mecca. Panama, it’s government and too often it’s people, see what is created by god or nature, as a only something to be used, consumed or destroyed for a profit; this is short term thinking.

Please do not read this a tree hugger manifesto, read it as a plea for balance. There needs to be a balance, nothing will prevent people from chopping trees for lumber, but they could plant more for the future. Nothing will prevent urbanizations and new hotels, but they can be built in a balanced environment. Many tourists and residents would like to see heliconias from their windows and monkeys in the trees, many of us flee from cities to escape concrete and cars. Destroying irreplaceable rain forest for pasture is poor land management. Developers, be they indigenous trying to raise cattle or builders of hotels need a perspective  that is longer term. Think of our children and generations to come.

We lose species daily and one day our grandchildren or their children will see nothing but trees in museums and wonder what it was like before the paved over Paradise. (thank you again Joanie Mitchell and Ron Cobb).

TCM: Hummingbirds

Ralph Dessau gave the Boquete community a great presentation on Hummingbirds. He was gracious enough to send me this information to pass on to all.

How to make a Hummingbird Habitat

Hummingbirds are one of Panama’s special delights, but they are so fast that many people don’t even notice them. Yet, Panama is blessed with 59 species. Some live in beach areas, while others thrive in woods or the mountains. In Chiriquí I have seen six different species, the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, the Violet Sabrewing, the Blue-tailed Emerald, The Snowy-breasted Hummingbird and unique to Chiriquí, the Volcano Hummingbird (in Finca Lerida). And if you enjoy  hummingbirds, the best way to attract them is not with sugarwater feeders but with their favorite flowers.

The hummingbird diet consists of two ingredients – flower nectar for energy and tiny insects for protein. We need not worry about the latter, for insects are everywhere, and one benefit of hummers is their help in reducing the insect population. Instead we will focus on the nectar part of their diet – with sugar being its main ingredient. Hummingbirds use huge amounts of energy and must consume over half of their weight in sugar every day.

Nature fortunately arranged it so that certain flowers attract hummingbirds, an evolution that took millions of years. During this period these flowers underwent changes so they could no longer be pollinated by bees or other insects. But if they could produce sufficient nectar, they began instead to attract hummingbirds who then took over their pollination.

This means that hummingbirds, apart from being a delight to the eye, also play an essential role in nature by pollinating plants, which would otherwise become extinct. In simple terms, without the plants the hummingbirds can’t survive and vice versa. My main reason for writing this article is therefore to explain how by creating new habitats for hummingbirds we can prevent such a crisis.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a large garden or a few flower pots. You only have to fill them with flowers that hummingbirds can’t resist. It helps that hummingbirds have excellent taste, so their favorite flowers are also appealing to humans. Their favorite color is a deep red, but orange, pink, yellow and blue also seem to work. Many but not all of their flowers have a trumpet-like, tubular shape, which often prevents pollination by insects.

The plants vary from small, low-growing ones to giant trees. A patient observer can easily identify them by watching the hummingbirds in action, but below are a few that are common to Chiriquí – starting with small plants that are good for potting and ending with some medium-sized trees:

  • Firecracker – also known as Russelia
  • Penta
  • Lantana
  • Hamelia
  • Heliconias & Bird of Paradise
  • Lucifer – Crocosmia
  • Orchids
  • Shrimp Plant
  • Dwarf Poinciana or Pride of Barbados
  • Cordia (In dry areas)
  • Powder-puff – also known as Calliandra

The Firecracker is a veritable hummingbird magnet and ideal for large pots, where the flowers can cascade over the sides. This has the added benefit that the pot can be placed where you can watch the visitors in action.

In Chiriquí the earth is so fertile that plants grow fast. A Dwarf Poinciana grows from a seed to a height of 5 ft in five  months. The easy way to get plants is of course from a nursery. But when they have grown strong, it is often easy to propagate more by cutting off branches and sticking them in some good black soil. And as you gain more confidence, you should also try other promising plants. As long as they are red and of tubular shape, chances are that you won’t be disappointed.

You may also discover, that hummingbirds can be attracted to Hibiscus flowers, but they can be pollinated by insects and do not produce much nectar. So to find more winners it is better to observe hummers in action, for. Jardin es tu Jardin”, a little further up the road from the Panamonte.

An ideal hummingbird habitat must also meet some of their other needs. One is a shelter where they can rest, and a leafy bush without flowers will do very well. And being extremely territorial, they like a convenient perch, from where they can spot intruders on their domain and chase them away. When such a perch is not readily available, I make one from a four to five foot long slender branch, and stick it in the ground at what seems to be a good observation point. If that doesn’t work, I try to another location.

Hummingbirds also love to shower and they bathe regularly, where there is running water. The shower can be provided by a garden “mister”, which may be found in stores like Do-It Center, Melo or Novey, and a bird bath with a fountain should also work. After providing these additions to your garden, you should soon be enjoying the company of some delightful new neighbors. I have tried to be as specific as possible but will gladly answer any questions sent to rbdessau@yahoo.com.

For more information about hummers I also recommend  a visit to:


Ralph has a website at this link.

Some videos he recommends.

TCM: Hospital acquired infection presentation

I missed the Tuesday Community Meeting today in Boquete Panama. Donna O’Toole was kind enough to let me upload her Power Point Presentation. I cannot make much of a comment beyond saying in Panama and everyplace else this is a serious issue to be considered before surgery.

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