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Archive for the ‘Environmental’ Category

For some time I’ve been planning a trip in my head. That trip was to drive or train up the Pacific Coastline and enjoy the scenery and feeling of freedom that this country affords us. When my company decided to apply a new vacation policy and forced me to “Use or Lose” my banked vacation this year I knew this was my best opportunity to make this happen. IMG_0710 1

The original plan was more grandiose but given the time available I decided to drive up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to the SFO/Bay Area and back in a matter of 3 or 4 days, stopping whenever the I felt like it where my and where my curiosity took me. I have a very over scheduled life so a part of the plan was to not be scheduled knowing that there were a few major beat points I wanted to hit.

This trip if taken on the 101 or I-5 would only really take about 4-6 hours. But that wasn’t the point. The point was to take my time and enjoy the atmosphere and environment of the California landscape and especially the oceanfront. There is an amazing amount of freedom being able to consistently see the expansive view of the Ocean and cruising along the coast at moderate speeds.

IMG_0843 1I’ve discovered a lot of the experiences I think I’d like to have are pretty unique. It’s difficult finding people with the time and desire to jump on board with a similar vision so I’ve decided that this would be a solo trip. In a short conversation about our plans for Thanksgiving my good friend Tara offered to come along. I wasn’t sure if she’d actually do it, cause a lot of people tend to say things they don’t deliver on when they hear about something exciting. There was also a bit of trepidation on both of our parts; I wasn’t sure if she’d really want to be a part of the vision of wanderlust with little structure being “a planner” type person and she was afraid of imposing. In the end I think we hit the perfect balance of “structured freedom” that can enhance any experience. We only listed experiences we thought we’d like to have along the way had an end destination in mind for each day, but were not emotionally invested in where we had to be. We each named our “really like to do’s” on  this trip and the “miss-ables”. Ironically we hit every experience we had  listed and added a few along the way. It was a pleasure finding a good travel partner to as traveling tends to be quite revealing about people’s personalities.

IMG_0844 1Traveling on the road can be a great way to realize how small we are the grandness of our world. I loved watching the scenery of the landscape change from Southern California desert beaches to the Mountainous Pine forests of Big Sur. It’s an ever changing environment of Flora, Fauna and Geology set against the constant waves of the ocean coastline. The Pacific Coast Highway provides a unique seamless experience that is unparalleled anywhere in the world that I know of. In the end it was the perfect detachment from the grind of the day to day. A great way to see the amazing scenery and freedom this nation provides for us.

Tara is an avid photographer and videographer. She really was able to capture the essence of the vacation in this short video.

Itinerary

  • Sunday evening: Got a head start on the traffic.
    • Los Olivos: Thanks to the Nichols family for accomodations.
  • Monday
    • Solvang: The Danish City: Breakfast at Solvang Restaurant
    • Monarch Butterfly Grove: Millions of Monarch Butterflies stop here on their migration to Mexico.
    • Pismo Beach: Arguably the Best Beach in California
    • Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo: Novelty stop.
    • Morro Bay: The Rock: A stop at Joe’s Surf Shop.
    • San Simeon Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery
    • Cayucos, CA: A bit of backtracking for a nights stay
  • Tuesday
    • Surfing at the Cayucos Pier
    • Hearst Castle
    • Big Sur
    • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park / McWay Waterfall
    • Nepthune Restaurant
    • Belmont Turnaround point.
  • Wednesday: Head home.
    • Half Moon Bay
    • Santa Cruz
    • Return via the 101 to Pismo Beach
    • Pismo Boardwalk: Meet up with a new friend
    • Follow the Coast home
    • North Hollywood, CA

bigsur_coastline

Other Pacific Coastline trips (I’d like to take)

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner.

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight

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I’ve particularly stayed out of politics on this blog until a few months ago… I guess that was my entry drug. So now I can’t can’t myself. When an old co-worker posed the question on FB.

“Can of worms – OPEN: So all my gun toting 2nd amendment rights loving Facebook friends. I am curious when the “right to bear arms” should apply? So today folks aren’t allowed to walk around with a loaded shoulder-fired missile launcher. But you can legally purchase and license a gun that can fire 30 shots in 30 seconds. So where exactly should the line be drawn and why?”

I consider myself a responsible gun owner and a lifelong hunter. I have taken several safety courses and respect the power to defend and take life if required. Ironically I’m not that  invested in this topic. But by the length of this post you might think I am. It’s just that I hear so many short quips on topics that require so much more than a twitter comment, it’s hard to get all information needed to have a good conversation.

I also  recognize the validity of asking ourselves, when enough is enough. Personally, I tend to believe assault weapons are a bit excessive and should be restricted by several contingencies like certification & training. But here are a few reasons I think make a plausible case to justify weapons that seem oddly unnecessary.

Among the reasons listed for the right to bear arms is for the defense of personal life and the state.

Now you may wonder in a time when we have so many services to protect us. Local & state police, fire, EMT, National Guards, and the branches of the Military, when will we ever need to protect our state?

It is not unfathomable. We have recent examples when mother nature taught us a few lessons:  East Coast Hurricanes,Japanese Tsunami’s/ Earthquakes, Katrina etc.

I just moved to LA which is due for another earthquake according to history. To be prepared I took the FEMA sanctioned CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) certification to know how to help in times of an emergency. It is taught by the LAFD.

The training was started by the LAFD and later adopted by FEMA in response to the 1986 Northridge earthquake, because there was a need to educate people that the community services will NOT be largely available in such a disaster. We take that for granted now and do not recognize their limitations for as good as they are now.

As stated in the course if we experience another earthquake of comparable size will render all public service workers powerless for at least two weeks probably three. This means that the police/fire dept/etc. are going to spend a week digging themselves out of their own rubble. And then the next week or two checking up on the critical population centers (i.e Hospitals & Schools) The rest of the residential population will be left on their own to fend for themselves for most likely up to a month.

This means no one except neighbors and those charities from the outside who can get in will be available to help you. In a town that gives the term “riots” a new name (see the latest episode) it would behoove everyone in the community to be prepared for such and event. When goods and services will be at a high demand and low scarcity.

In such a state when services, and our communities are not functional at all it is a time of extreme vulnerability. Both from within the community and from  possible external invaders. It’s not unfathomable to believe that a gang or terrorist group might want to take advantage of the situation. Having a community that is armed and educated can make a difference.

That is when the law abiding citizens whose right to bear weapons equal to those of criminal’s who will get those weapons regardless of their legality seem appropriate to protect individuals lives.

Now also think about even “regular” emergencies when community services are tasked at a high rate. Like the ferry accident yesterday in NYC. Think about what happens when more than 3 or four units are called any specific incident. That means that either volunteers or other units are called in to backfill the areas that need coverage when the rest of the units are at a high needs demand. And there is a limit. Your high taxes don’t really go that far when it comes to emergency services.

Having said all that I’m in favor of restrictions for assault type weapons, but can indeed see a “need” for the preservation of self and community if it arises. Secondarily I don’t think that gun control laws should be wholly restrictive. It takes a lot more to prevent the gun tragedies we’ve had in the past years than controlling laws. It takes people invested serving in their communities and knowing your neighbors. One of the key principles taught the CERT course is that you should go around your neighborhood, introduce yourself and tell them that you are learning what to do in case of a natural disaster. They even teach you to get a sense of who lives in your neighborhood. What they do. How many people live there. Etc. This might seem ridiculous to people in more tight communities. But in major metro areas this is not always the case. Being involved in people’s lives is always far more effective prevention than the laws. The question is are you your brother’s keeper? The answer is sometimes. Before they decide they want to kill people is usually preferable.

More Reading:

http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/an-opinion-on-gun-control/

http://frontpagemag.com/2012/dgreenfield/america-doesnt-have-a-gun-problem-it-has-a-gang-problem/

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Great Quotes:

04:50min “..Since when like in order to have a happy childhood you have to have boxes of … pink room, with pink curtains with pink stuff in it to be a happy child?”

05:07min “..This was really a choice of how many hours do we have in our life and how do I want to spend those hours, do I really want to work more than 10,20,30 hours a week to that I can pay rent to have a big house. So that I can be like a healthy normal mom. So this was my choice……I know that we’ve spent way more hours than if I would if I had to pay rent.”

05:30min ” I grew up in Argentina and the standards of living, this would be like a really nice house in Argentina”

09:00min – “Material things are just on borrow.”

09:07min “None of this is ours. We try to secure ourselves in these identities. Like my house, my wife, my car, my children, my career. The bigger and the more assured I am myself. And no. This house is just really a prison and I’m tied to the bank.”

09:30min ” This is my mortgage. I wanted to do it intellectual property instead of physical property.”

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Having been  in software design my whole career and a hardcore computer nerd since I was in the Commodore users groups as a kid., the last few years have been troubling. I think the amount of technology has overwhelmed me.

As the format of  how we compute is changing from desktops to laptops to smart devices, I’ve actually become of more ludite like, feeling that my new gadgets are causing more confusion, pain and time sucking than they’ve been helping. Longing for the days of a one button joystick or a plain old keyboard. Retreating to nature without a GPS or phone in hand.

But then you see something like this. Which is actually at the crossroads of total invasion and not requiring any cognition to use and you think ah hah! That’s what I’ve been wanting all along. Not to shun technology altogether but I’ve been wanting something more sophisticated more, savvy so I wouldn’t have to learn something new or have 10 different devices that basically do the same thing.

Nice job Google Guys, let’s get there quicker than not, cause I’m craving for some REALLY smart tools.

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I’ve written no less than 25 partial posts that are sitting as drafts in my dashboard, which I mean to publish someday, since they seem very relevant to the time period right now. But I found this video and it just spoke to my heart. Whether it’s because I love France, Ingenuity, Innovation and “Off the Beaten Path” ideas or otherwise I don’t know.

Enjoy.

Maybe it will inspire me to finish the rest of my oh – so important posts… 🙂

Addendum: Yet another great inspiration.

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