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Archive for the ‘Life’s Little Gifts’ 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 been a foodie for a long time. But since I don’t drink alcohol I’ve been a long time connoisseur of soft drinks and beverages of the like. When I moved to L.A. I stumbled across a Soda Pop store called Rocket Fizz that is sure to delight anyone’s taste not only for the bubbly fun stuff but for the nostalgia of yesteryear. It’s one of those stores that make you remember what it’s like to be a kid. It makes me wanna make up names for things… a little like this.

In any case. The main feature at Rocket Fizz is the 9 zillion varieties of soda pop.
I took it upon myself to take the challenge and give it a good try to tasting them all… so in the future look out for the Sooperwater reviews.

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One of the more favorable things I am grateful for in my life has been the amount of inventive and creatively talented people I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by.

Thomas Crenshaw is one such individual who a few days ago put together this little tribute video for one of his (and mine) favorite TV Shows. The video is fun, compelling and burning up the replays on youtube right now.

Enjoy

Thomas Crenshaw

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When we think about personalization and highly engaging experiences often we think about how is something going to be optimized on likes and preferences. How often do we think about experiences that serve our actual physical needs.

This is a brilliant example of how to serve the needs of your clients and going to where they are. This approach must have taken and unwavering focus on the priority and a lot of creativity and collaboration to find the right way to implement the design.

Bravo!

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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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Dear friends, acquaintances and citizens.

I’m going to break FB protocol and add a lengthy status update. The double-edged sword about Social Media today is that it allows us to keep in touch with many people, but it’s format leaves so much to be desired that in topics such as politics we are left to the posting of a link and bound by brevity. It has become the equivalent of running into a crowded conference room, shouting a string of one-sided epithets as if it were a ticking IED (Improvised Explosive Device), then slamming the door and running away.

As we enter this year’s election I make a plea for everyone to remain civil in our attitudes. What good is our democracy if we have to spend the next several years repairing hurt feelings and harsh attitudes at each election? Our lack of trust in each other erodes our ability to stay civil, work together and truly progress.

Politics requires a medium where all sides of issues can be explored or it will only serve to divide. Healthy debate and the challenge of ideas must exist for us to make policy. The first amendment can only serve its purpose when we show restraint and kindness and truly open our minds.

We can disagree without ridicule. We can share a counterpoint without disgust. Humor can be used to relieve tension rather than create it. The mark of true tolerance is being able to share space with a person, with whom you disagree, without feeling fear, offense or that they are the enemy.

Tolerance: The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

However we as a people have not showed restraint enough to achieve true tolerance to make progress.

  • Tolerance is not the same as acceptance.
    • Our culture has confused tolerance for acceptance.
      • Acceptance: The action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group. Agreement with or belief in an idea, opinion, or explanation.
      • Tolerance sits on the opposite end of acceptance. If we are to have any exchange of new ideas, we must embrace tolerance and be clear about the distinction between the two concepts and value them differently.
  • Tolerance must lead to co-existence.
    • In order for us to have productive, happy, healthy communities, we must coexist. We cannot merely live next door to each other with a brewing sense of hostility.
      • Coexistence: a policy of living peacefully with other nations, religions, etc., despite fundamental disagreements.

We call upon all people everywhere to recommit themselves to the time-honored ideals of tolerance and mutual respect.

I sincerely believe that as we acknowledge one another with consideration and compassion we will discover that we can all live peacefully despite different ideologies or interests and despite our deepest differences.

I used to love election years, because it was a time when people stopped worrying more about Beyonce Knowles and focused on issues that really make a difference in our lives. We have lost what it means to have healthy debate. We surround ourselves with people, books and ideas that only support our preconceived notions. Places where we have found acceptance.  We insist on/attempt to categorize others and their viewpoints in terms of “good” and “bad,” “black” and “white.” and pit the opposite into an all-good or all bad judgment.

American politics have always been full of character attacks and salacious headlines. It is time to evolve. If we purport to have kindness and tolerance, we must ensure our attitudes and our hearts reflect it first, before our laws can truly reflect it. Before we can make policy, we must truly understand it, believe it and be able to exemplify it.

The question is “How can we be better than we believe we are, when nothing less will do?”

No matter which leader you have been inspired by all of them promote the ideal that we can rise above our current condition and have hope for the future.

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

-John F. Kennedy

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Barack Obama

“We can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.”

Mitt Romney

This election year we can stand for civility.

The only difference in our candidates is HOW they propose to effect change. One statement or stance does not make them a socialist, a woman-hater, a bigot, or a tyrant.

I would like to restore the definition of hate back to its former glory. Hate: (v) Feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone). (n) Intense or passionate dislike.

Not supporting a certain cause does not imply hate or a judgment about the opposite. It implies support for a preferred resolution over another. Hate is an emotion, which is completely controllable. Can you disagree with someone and not hate him or her? Of course. However the propaganda today would have you believe this is not so. How do you disagree with someone and still love and respect him or her? Mislabeling someone’s proposition for change in a different way than you would suggest as hate only exposes weakness of heart & emotional immaturity. It will render us powerless in the long run.

Taking offense at the prosperity of another only shows a weakness of heart and mind, which will render you powerless.

I make a call to all journalists to raise the bar of integrity of reporting. Retractions & miscued reporting should be treated with the same import as the original article. If there is a headline that is found to be misleading, inaccurate or untrue, you should reprint the retraction as a headline. The small note from the editor in small print on the inside cover does not repair or redeem your credibility. Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Sean Hannity, I don’t care about your opinions just give me the facts. And BTW folks as much as I love John Stewart and Stephen Colbert they are comedians. They exploit situations for the profit of laughing. It’s not real news.

The mark of the greatness of our country is the peaceful transfer of power. I’ve had the privilege to attend the inauguration of two of our presidents. This one sacred event is a powerful example of how civility marks our nation’s attitude.

For most part of my life I have lived in places where ideologically I am a minority. Even as a white, heterosexual, male I have felt the pangs of discrimination. Ridiculed for beliefs, without proper foresight and feared for my well being if I were to publicly express my own opinion. We must all have the courage to be able to express our opinions without fear. A community that ensures that safety is the true mark what tolerance can do for us. It is true freedom, rather than following the rhetoric of groupthink as we have today.

News flash: we do not live in democracy. We do not vote for the president the same way we “Like” a Facebook post, vote for American Idol or Reddit threads.We live in a Democratic Federalist Republic. By design we have checks and balances for the wisdom of restraint. (Here some reference links. Democracy, Federalism, Republic)

We cannot afford to make assumptions:
Let’s all read the Constitution, Bill of Rights, All the amendments. Let’s study political & social history. Let’s study how read the results of a scientific study. Let’s listen more than we talk so that we can discover truth together.

I learned long ago that when you accuse someone/thing incorrectly without all the information you’re exposing to people much more about your own heart than theirs, even if they are making mistakes. And for those who think the reversal is too late? Well if we have no room in our society for forgiveness than we have no real hope for progress.

“If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.”

-Nelson Mandela

Before you make an accusation, verify the facts, dig deeper, truly put yourself in the others shoes and try to understand why they might feel that is a good solution. Do not vilify others.

This is our greatest hour, and the world is watching. Our greatest testament of the power of who we are is the peaceful transfer of power.

From my liberal friends in Wisconsin to my conservative friends in Utah to all my friends on the coasts, we can be united in purpose and service. Recognize each other’s efforts as efforts. Accept the good in people and see their flaws as just that. Flaws. No one is perfect, but we would be remiss to throw the baby out with the bathwater just because we don’t agree with someone’s point of view.

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