Friday, November 30, 2007

Peace


Heritage 1981 Beverly Center, Beverly Hills, California


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Visitors From Biloxi

I have a new 'must do' activity for visitors to San Diego. There is an amazing walking tour of Coronado that departs Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturday at 11:00 am from the Glorietta Bay Inn (across the street from the Hotel Del). It is a leisurely walk and the guide is awesome. Not only is she enthusiastic - but she shares the most amazing tales of the history of the area.

One thing that was really neat about the tour is she took the time for everyone to introduce themselves and tell where they were from. A- and M- from Biloxi are in town - and that is how I came to be on this tour. They both shared with passion their story of surviving Katrina and the long journey to recovery. They shared some of the heart breaking details of insurance coverage that wasn't there when they needed it and the many obstacles that their community is facing as they try to rebuild. They also shared very powerfully how they were touched by miracles and generosity in the midst of their tragedy and that seeing the fires in California they wanted to come and reach out to the people here.

Walking Tour Group at The Hotel Del

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wonder and Astonishment

- by Eugene Peterson (condensed)

Birth: Wonder...Astonishment...Adoration. There can't be very many of us for whom the sheer fact of existence hasn't rocked us back on our heels. We take off our sandals before the burning bush. We catch our breath at the sight of a plummeting hawk. "Thank you, God." We find ourselves in a lavish existence in which we feel a deep sense of kinship-we belong here; we say thanks with our lives to Life. And not just "Thanks" or "Thanks It" but "Thank You." Most of the people who have lived on this planet earth have identified this You with God or gods. This is not just a matter of learning our manners, the way children are taught to say thank you as a social grace. It is the cultivation of adequateness within ourselves to the nature of reality, developing the capacity to sustain an adequate response to the overwhelming gift and goodness of life.

Wonder is the only adequate launching pad for exploring this fullness, this wholeness, of human life. Once a year, each Christmas, for a few days at least, we and millions of our neighbors turn aside from our preoccupations with life reduced to biology or economics or psychology and join together in a community of wonder. The wonder keeps us open-eyed, expectant, alive to life that is always more than we can account for, that always excedes our calculations, that is always beyond anything we can make.

If in the general festive round of singing and decorating, giving and receiving, cooking meals and family gatherings, we ask what is behind all this and what keeps it going all over the world, among all classes of people quite regardless of whether they believe or not, the answer is simply "a birth." Not just "birth" in general but a particular birth is a small Middle Eastern village in datable time-a named baby, Jesus-a birth that soon had people talking and singing about God, indeed, worshipping God.

This invites reflection.

So how did it happen that this birth, this Jesus birth managed to set so many of us back on our heels in astonishment and gratitude and wonder? And continues to do so century after century, at least at this time of year?

In Jesus' birth the wonder is extrapolated across the screen of all creation and history as a God- birth. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us"- moved into the neighborhood, so to speak. And for thirty years or so, men and women saw God in speech and action in the entirely human person of Jesus as he was subject, along with them, to the common historical condition. That God was made incarnate as a human baby is still not easy to belive, but people continue to do so. Many, even those who don't "believe," find themselves happy to participate in the giving and receiving, singing and celebrating of those who do.

Incarnation, in-flesh-ment, God in human form in Jesus entering our history: this is what started Christmas. This is what keeps Christmas going.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Other

"You need your enemy to be ugly. You don't want to discover anything good in your enemy, or you will find yourself in the wrong. When we portray our enemies as utterly depraved, then we feel justified in treating them however we want."

- Mazhar Mallouhi

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Fountain

A fun surprise I found while strolling through an outdoor mall on Saturday evening.

The Fountain at The Grove, Los Angeles, California
Choreographed with Christmas music for the holidays

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stay Awhile

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.


-- Mary Oliver

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Return to Pinkberry

Green Tea Flavoured Pinkberry with Raspberries




Today I was up in L.A. so I swung by my Pinkberry in West Hollywood. It was my lucky day. Not only did I get served right away- but I had the coolest swirler. First, he greeted me with a big smile and an enthusiastic 'how are you?' - and then he sang "The Pinkberry Song" and danced as he swirled up my green tea treat!

I wonder should I get it plain,
or green tea?
It doesn't matter to me.
Don't care how long I have to wait.
I like it in the rain,
or in the wintertime,
like a burst of sunshine...
P-I-N-K-B-E-R-R-Y for me
Pinkberry...


How long would you wait in line?!?


Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Day Of Thanks

The Thanksgiving Table



I spent Thanskgiving Day with friends and eating VERY well. Above is a picture of the Thanksgiving table. My favourite part is the Teepee place markers. Each Teepee has a person's name on it - so we know where to sit!

Click here for more Thanksgiving Day pictures.

The History Channel has a great website all about the history of Thanksgiving. My favourite is the video and commentary about the presidential pardoning on the turkey. Click here to view.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pay It Forward

Did you ever see the movie Pay It Forward? Trevor is in the 7th grade. His homework assignment -- 'Find a way to change the world and put it into action'.

Trevor's calls his approach to changing the world, "Pay It Forward". There are three simple rules:
  1. It has to be something that really helps people
  2. It has to be something they can't do by themselves
  3. I do it for them, they must then go and do something to help three other people

The teacher likes the idea but doubts it will work. A "little Utopian".

I haven't thought about the movie in years. However, it re-surfaced in my mind recently as I have been witnessing around me wonderful acts of kindness and generosity by those who are overwhelmed with gratitude for the grace that was shown to them in a time a need.

A few weeks ago, I was working with a group that was helping clear debris and search for valuables with families that had lost their homes during the recent wild fires. We had worked at several homes during the day and as the sun was starting to set we were all tired and hungry and running out of steam. A car pulled up on the side of the road and a woman popped the trunk to reveal a cooler full of cold drinks, baskets of fruit and bags of snacks. She called out to us and asked if we would like a snack break. We were all amazingly thankful, but also wondered who was this lady that had appeared from no where. As we chatted with her we learned that she lives in the Tierra Santa area of San Diego. In 2003, her home burnt to the ground during the Cedar Fires. She knows what it means to loose everything. During her time of crisis and need she was overwhelmed by the support she received, not only from family, friends and strangers - but from people she had never met who came and volunteered and helped her get back on her feet. So, she woke this day, she felt compelled to stock up her car and head up the freeway to Rancho Bernardo and drive through the streets looking for volunteers - to feed them, encourage them and express her gratitude! As we talked with her our team lead went and brought over the families who's homes we were clearing. How amazing it was to watch and listen as our new friend share, even as we stood amongst the rubble, her journey of recovery. What started out as tragedy had brought joy and healing to her life. You could see the hope starting to re-appear in the eyes of the families who had lost so much.

A week later, a group of New York City Firefighters and 9/11 survivors came to San Diego to help with the Fire Relief effort. Click here to read about it. There is a foundation called New York Says Thank You that sends volunteers from New York City each year on the 9/11 Anniversary to help rebuild communities around the country affected by disasters. It is their way of commemorating the extraordinary love and generosity extended to New Yorkers by Americans from all across the United States in the days, weeks, and months following September 11th.

This fall I spent some time in the Gulf Coast helping with some rebuilding projects for those in the Biloxi area that were devastated by Katrina. One of the things that struck me most about the experience was the outpouring of gratitude I experience. Clearly, in the midst of tragedy the people of the Gulf Coast has been touched and inspired by those who had come and volunteered and they had been transformed by the acts kindness they had experienced. It was no surprise that a family from Biloxi was the first call to check up on me and see if I was o.k. and if I had been impacted by the fires.

Our friends in Biloxi, who lost everything just two years ago in the hurricane - next week are hopping on a plane to come to San Diego and offer their help to those here who lost their homes in the fire. How amazing it will be for those who survived Katrina to walk along side those who are picking up the pieces after the wild fires.

Paying it forward may seem like a schmaltzy Hollywood plot. But, in real life, grace filled gratitude, can and does change the world!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Growing Push Pin Collection


I recently took the money from the Push Pin fund and picked up a box of large colourful push pins. I then invited the members of the 'Push Pin Collective' to express their creative frustration by decorating the wall with their best push pin inspired creations.

To my surprise - my creative friends were appalled by the small palette I provided them with. I believe the word they used was 'stifling'. Clearly, 50 push pins was inadequate.

So .... the next day boxes of pins started appearing on my desk. The financial donations have now given away to 'in kind' donations. My only stipulation is that any donations I receive must be clearly differentiable from the 'official' corporate office supplies!

This enhanced palette does seem to be bearing fruit. I now have a scene created with push pins that includes a flower, a bird and a glowing sun.

Coming soon - pictures of my newly founded Push Pin Art Gallery!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Do What You Dream



"don't ever waste your days not doing what you dream to do"

Store Front Window In West Hollywood

Peace Out!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ode to the Push Pin Fugitive
(with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

Hide them in a bag
it ain't no gag.

Hide them in a box
I won't get caught.

Push Pins here, Push Pins there.
Push Pins hidden everywhere.

Hoard them, Hoard them, while you can
Hide them, hide them, from 'the man'.


The whole Push Pin repossession debacle has got me thinking --- am I the only person in the office who has surpassed the legal limit of push pins? What exactly is the legal limit?!?

One of my colleagues has a bulletin board that is completely bare. Nothing posted on it, not one push pin to be found anywhere in her office. Now there is a model employee. Something for me to aspire to.

I have been doing some undercover investigation - and it turns out I am not the only offender out there. In fact, the pictures below show separate stashes of pins ... all in the SAME office. I won't be naming any names - but there is a push pin fugitive among us.

Full Box Left Out in Plain Sight To Taunt Me



Another Stash Hidden Away In A Bag

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Making Friends Of Enemies

"Isn't it cheaper and smarter to make friends out of potential enemies than to defend yourself against them later?"

- Bono

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Compassion

It is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there. God's compassion is total, absolute, unconditional and without reservation. It is compassion of the one who keeps going to the most forgotten corners of the world, and who cannot rest as long as he knows that there is still human beings with tears in their eyes.

Henri J.M. Nouwen
From Compassion A Reflection on Christian Life

Monday, November 12, 2007

Found Treasure

Click here for additional pictures.
To enlarge pictures below - click on them.

Path Of Fire Through A Canyon



Our Team Sifting Away



Found Treasure (Box of Coins In The Foreground)



Flag Flies Amongst The Remains




The Team



Saturday morning I headed off to Rancho Bernardo to join one of the fire recovery teams. On my way I picked up an older gentleman from church. He was eager to volunteer - but doesn't drive on the freeway anymore. We chatted on our way on up the 15 and in a matter of moments we made a profound connection. It turns out my new found friend is a fellow Canadian. Although he has lived in the States for over 40 years, he was born and raised in Saskatchewan! I lit up right away and started talking 'Canadian'. S- could celebrate with me the recent triumph of the Canadian dollar and reminisce about the days when a trip home to Canada meant a shopping spree with everything 30% off! He also informed me of the dismal track record of the Hamilton Tiger Cats this season.

In the Taco Bell parking lot, we met up with about 50 other volunteers and received our team assignments. Last time I was sifting with several teenage girls. They were so unbelievably patient. Searching for and painstakingly piecing together pieces of shattered china figurines. This time I had a car load of teenage boys. Teenage boys, being teenage boys, - were full of enthusiasm and all sorts of helpful driving suggestions. One boy is a member of the AVID program at school --helping with the fire recovery will help fulfill his community service requirements. Besides, they said, helping with the recovery is something they wanted to do.

We were only a block from Taco Bell when we turned down a street and saw the shocking site of a grove or black scorched trees. All of a sudden the car went silent. Seeing and experiencing the impacts of a natural disaster or different then watching them on TV. One of the boys started to share his story. He lives in Escondido. When the fires broke out, he was evacuated and went to stay at his step parent's place in South County. They stayed up around the clock watching the fire coverage on TV. They kept watching the lists of streets and home numbers scroll by showing the homes that had been lost -worried that they would see their home on the list. The fire was in their neighbourhood a few blocks away. One of the fires in South County started to spread and he had to evacuate a second time. This time he went and stayed with a school friend. The boy that had come along with him today to help sift through the ashes.

Our team was assigned to help a family that had been on vacation in Las Vegas when the fires struck. They never had a chance to save any of their valuables. The man had been an art collector. Unfortunately, none of the art work survived. Very early on we started to find coins. They were in the area of the children's bedrooms. They were so blackened we aren't sure if it was the contents of a kid's penny jar or an actual coin collection. We were just glad to find something that had survived. We sifted for hours and hours and retrieved a mound of coins!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day



In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

— John McCrae


Click here for an explanation of the symbols of Remembrance Day.



Lest We Forget

The Marlboro Marine

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thought For The Day

"the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time”

-- James Taylor

Friday, November 9, 2007

Got Ash?

During my walk today I came across this sign on the side of the road.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Courage

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.”

-- Mary Anne Radmacher

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Push Pin Fund

A grassroots movement has sprung up to replace my recently repossessed push pins (click here for the history of the fund).

Seems like every time I turn around another quarter is taped to the white board or someone has dumped their penny collection into the marker tray.


The Growing Fund to Replace My Push Pins


The fund will be used to buy some creative and fun pin replacements. Below are just a few of the great options I have found. What do you think? Let me know via the comment section!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life's A Campaign?


You are suggesting that even if no one believes a word you say, you can be successful. That seems like a book about sadness.

Sometimes, it seems like you are saying, "Do what you think will win, not do what you think is right".

There is nothing in this book about being good or being competent.

I found it a recipe for sadness. It strikes me as fundamentally wrong. It strikes me as a self-hurt book.

I am not trashing your book. I am trashing your philosophy of life.


- Jon Stewart about Chris Matthews' new book Life's A Campaign

Thought For The Day

Fear rarely leads to the best in moral thinking and behaviour.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Red Sky At Night

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.
Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning


About 10:30 pm tonight I walked down to the mail box to post a letter. I looked up and was greeted by this amazing red sky!

Being Present

What really counts is that in moments of pain and suffering someone stays with us. More important than any particular action or word of advice is the simple presence of someone who cares.

In a time so filled with methods and techniques designed to change people, to influence their behaviour, and to make them do new things and think new thoughts, we have lost the simple but difficult gift of being present to each other.

We have forgotten that it is often in "useless", unpretentious, humble presence to each other that we feel consolation and comfort. Simply being with someone is difficult because it asks of us that we share in the other's vulnerability ...

These reflections offer only a glimpse of what we mean when we say that God is a God-with-us, a God who came to share our lives in solidarity. It does not mean that God solves our problems, shows us the way out of our confusion, or offers answers for our many questions. He might do all that, but His solidarity consists of the fact that he is willing to enter with us into our problems, confusions and questions.

The mystery of God's love is not that he takes our pains away, but that He first wants to share them with us.

The truly good news is that God is not a distant God, a God to be feared and avoided, a God of revenge, but a God who is moved by our pains and participates in the fullness of the human struggle.


--Henri Nouwen excerpts from Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Peace

Reverse 911

A few people have forwarded this to me, so I thought I would share the link for signing up for the Reverse 911 alert system.

Residents who live in San Diego County, which includes all 18 cities and the unincorporated areas of the County, are encouraged to register their cell phones, VOIP phones and e-mail addresses for emergency notifications by visiting www.alertssandiego.org commonly known as the Reverse 911 system .

AlertSanDiego will provide emergency alerts to your cell phone and e-mail address including evacuation notices. This is in addition to the land line calls received by those who have land line phones.

NOTE: the website did not work with my Safari Browser on the Mac. It did, however, work o.k. with Firefox on the Mac.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Freeway Madness

Tonight's Headline

I-5 snarled after discovery of pipe bomb

5:01 p.m. November 2, 2007
SAN DIEGO – Sheriff's bomb-arson investigators detonated a pipe bomb that was found in a backpack on the side of Interstate 5 near La Jolla Village Drive on Friday. The investigation caused a traffic nightmare as authorities closed the freeway in both directions for nearly four hours.




Like we didn't have enough mayhem on the freeways last week with the fires and half a million people evacuating. Today, Friday afternoon, the 5 Freeway was closed in both directions.

I was meeting up with a friend at CPK for lunch. Along the way down the freeway I notice a car parked on the side of the road and several people scampering along the embankment - clearly looking for something in the ice-plant. There was someone on the top of the embankment calling down to them, co-ordinating the effort.

It registered as odd, but I didn't think much of it. On to more important things like catching up with a friend and enjoying my favourite Thai Crunch Salad.

We ran a bit late on lunch and both of us needed to scramble to make meetings at work. So we quickly said good-bye and then battled the traffic getting out of the parking lot. Odd to be so backed up, but it was Friday lunch. The real fun came when I went to hop on the freeway to zip the 10 minutes back to work. Both on ramps (North and South) had police cruisers blocking them. The freeway itself was completely barren. Not one car! ?! Perplexed, I took surface streets up to the next on ramp. Closed again. By this time I am in massive grid lock of confused people trying to figure options. The traffic report had just played, but unfortunately all I was able to decipher was that the 5 freeway was closed. I listen to only Spanish Language radio in the car. It is great for my Spanish studies, but bad for getting a clear grasp of what is going on in the world. I decided to take surface streets, my normal bike route along the coast. It took me over an hour to make the normal 10 minute trip back up to work.

Once I got back to my office I pulled up the local news to see what was up (click here for the arcticle). A pipe bomb was found on the embankment where I had seen folks searching earlier - just a few minutes from my home and by the on/off ramps I use daily. A little too close to home.

There has been way too much excitement the last few weeks. Here is hoping for a quiet weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Live Life With Intention

Walk to the edge.
Listen hard.
Laugh.
Practice welleness.
Play with abandon.
Continue to learn.
Appreciate your friends.
Choose with no regret.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.

-- Marry Anne Radmacher