Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thought For the Day

If I can see the moon from my backyard, does that make me an astronaut?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Quote Of The Day

It's extraordinary to me that the United States can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can't find $25 billion dollars to saved 25,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases.

- Bono

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Escaping The Heat

Yet another heat wave has hit San Diego.

The Pickster is stretched out on the bathroom floor trying to escape the heat!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Quote Of The Day

I scarcely remember counting upon happiness—I look not for it if it be not in the present hour—nothing startles me beyond the moment. The setting sun will always set me to rights, or if a sparrow come before my Window I take part in its existence and pick about the gravel.
Letter to Benjamin Bailey (November 22, 1817)

Fog In The Canyon

This morning there is a thick marine layer all along the coast. I could feel the moisture in the air as I rode through the canyon on my way to work.

Marine Layer Settles in Canyon

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Truth About Curling Shoes

Tonight Pete and I decided to try our hand again at curling.

When we arrived at the rink we found that some of the 'supplies' had been misplaced. Among the missing gear were the 'sliders' for our shoes. You see in curling you want one foot to be slippery so you can slide along the ice when you throw the rock.

If you are going to curl in San Diego - you have to be resourceful. Here is "The Curling Guy" duct taping my shoe!

I was a bit skeptical at first. But, it really worked!

My "slider" foot. Let's Curl!

My 'Slider' Foot in Action

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lipstick On A Pig - No!

“You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.”

- Sarah Palin Republican VP Candidate

“John McCain says he’s about change too, and so I guess his whole angle is, ‘Watch out, George Bush – except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl Rove-style politics – we’re really gonna shake things up in Washington. That’s not change. That’s just calling something the same thing something different. You know you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

- Barack Obama

“Ultimately, I think the American people will realize that calling a very prominent female governor of one of our states a pig is not exactly what we want to see when we supposedly are going to have this great debate that is the politics of hope.”

- McCain Campaign


PSA. Lipstick on Pigs - Vote No!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quote Of The Day

"All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people"
-Alexander Bullock

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Laugh. Dance. Vote.

Alas, I am not eligible to vote in the upcoming election.

I wish I could. There are several issues I am passionate about.

Fortunately, I can laugh, dance and cheer from the sidelines.

Get your t-shirt here!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bike The Bay

Tippie and Pete - ready to go!

Today was the first annual Bike The Bay. The big draw of this ride is the opportunity to ride across the Coronado Bay span bridge. There are no bike lanes and bikes are not allowed on it. Today they are closed down two lanes of traffic at 7:00 am so that we can ride across!!

The neat thing about this ride is seeing parts of towns I don't normally visit - or only see as a blur as I drive by in the car.

Riding by Chicano Park en-route to the Bridge

Riding over the bridge was a real rush. The view was just amazing. We weren't allowed to stop at all. It was tough to take pictures - so I gave up and just enjoyed the view!

Heading Over The Bridge

Once over the bridge we wound our way through Coronado - past the golf course and The Hotel Del. We left via the strand and enjoyed watching some really cool birds in the wild life sanctuary. Once back on the city side we wound through Chula Vista and National City and at one point came around a bend and I would have sworn I was looking out on Burlington Bay in winter. I immediately did a double take - how did all this snow end up in San Diego?!? Turns out we were riding by a desalination plant and it was salt floating on the water!

Salt floating on the Water

About this stage of the ride (mile 20) I was starting to get tired. I was riding my steel framed bike (a.k.a. as the tank) and my friend 'cheater' Pete was riding a light weight racing bike. My revenge came in the final two miles as we hit a sea of pot holes and raised rail way tracks!!

I am going to sleep well tonight!

Bike The Bay - The Movie

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Swimming With The Sharks

Today is my friend Jac's birthday. In honour of the day we decided to head over to LaJolla Shores and swim with the Leopard Sharks.

We were barely in the water before Jac saw her first shark. It was fun watching her shock and excitement when she realized that they were not small little fishies but full on 4-6 foot scary looking sharks.

Despite LOVING the ocean I suffer from terrible motion sickness. On a waaavvvvy day like today I can only last about 5 minutes with a face mask on. I had a good time floating up above and gabbing with the other folks looking for sharks.

When we were drying off on the beach - two dudes came up to us and asked us if we had seen sharks. They were TOTALLY freaked by just how big and scary looking they were!! We were feeling pretty cool for taking it all in stride.

Swimming with the Sharks - The Movie

Friday, September 5, 2008

Autism - The Musical

In 1980 1 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with autism.

Today it is 1 in 150.

An alarming statistic.

When traditional therapies did not help her son, Elaine Hall sought out creative people (actors, writers and musicians) to work with her son. Discovering the transformative power of these creative methods - she was inspired to found The Miracle Project. Through The Miracle Project, Elaine defies all expectations and leads a group of autistic children through writing, rehearsing and performing their own musical.

"Autism: The Musical" follows the lives of five children in LA over the course of the 6 months leading up to their performance of an original music production. The film is about the human story, the struggles and triumphs behind the statistics.

There are some touching and some side splitting funny moments - but this isn't a feel good movie. What makes the story compelling is that the raw coverage of personal stories of the kids and their parents. Divorce, depression, frustration, an educational system that fails them - and the general unfairness of it all -it is all here.

One of my favourite quotes in the is from Adam's Mom:

"One thing I learned growing up with the Civil Rights movement, is that it's not just enough for you to be doing better. Your whole tribe has to do better, or else you really can't do that much better."

Trailer - Autism: The Musical

The Miracle Project

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Poor Picky

Picky and I have been spending a lot of time at the vet lately. After a series of exams and blood work she was recently diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure (CRF). For the last week, her days have been spent at the vets receiving intravenous fluids. This has brought her blood levels back to near normal. After the first day she started to perk up and I began to see glimmers of her old self. In fact, she was down right demanding. After a month of no appetite - she requested that dinner be served *four* times!

We have been making time each night for some "porch" time. She loves to sit together on the landing and just "hang out".

Picky enjoying some "porch" time after day one on the I.V.

Today was the last day of I.V. fluids and the Pickster is ready to enjoy a weekend reprieve from the vet. Alas, Monday we are back again. Next up is Subcutaneous Fluid Therapy. The plan is I will learn how to administer the fluids so we can get off the frequent visitor plan at the vets. I am the most squeamish person I know - so we will see how that goes!

Picky with bandage on one leg

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Denny's Grand Slam - Vegan Style

After my late night hot dog extravaganza - I decided that something a little tamer and healthier was in order for race day.

Real Food Daily a vegan restaurant in West Hollywood seemed like a good choice for a solid, healthy meal. They are known for their melted cashew 'better than' cheese that they serve over nachos ... intriguing.

I ordered 'The Weekender', which could best be described as the vegan version of Denny's Grand Slam.

The Weekender
Scrambled tofu with onions, tomatoes and melted cashew cheese, two pancakes or French toast, tempeh bacon & hash browns or fruit.

Overall, it was quite tasty and I didn't miss the absent eggs and dairy . Alas, I am not a big fan of the melted cashew cheese on the tofu scramble. The lady beside me ordered the nachos and she raved about them and the cashew cheese they were slathered in. It just didn't seem to dance very well with the tofu scramble. When I make tofu scramble, I put it in a flour tortilla and top it with peach mango salsa. Now that is how you make it sing! The weirdest thing on my plate was the tempeh bacon. Tempeh is really a seed biscuit. It is made from soy, but reminds me alot of the sesame seed snaps we would snack on as kids.

Having had a big healthy lunch - I was off to Sprinkles to purchase cupcakes. These would be my big post race birthday treat!

Waiting in Line for my Birthday Cupcakes!
Sprinkles, Beverly Hills

Sometimes less is more...

Sunday morning I visited a small church in West Hollywood. As I turned off Sunset to pull into the parking lot I saw a couple of families walking down the street, heading to the chapel. I have always loved the idea of a small community based church. This congregation was clearly a reflection of the local neighbourhood. The moment I walked on the small campus a friendly lady in Birkenstocks, tie dyed shirt and rainbow necklace came up to greet me. A welcoming and genuine warm and friendly greeting - not the proper and forced "I guess I should say hello to the visitor" type greeting.

There were only about 40 people in attendance this holiday weekend - but it was clearly visible that these folks were a community bound together and supporting each other on the journey. The service was very simple - no pomp, no slick and polished show. A simple Old and New Testament scripture reading, a few hymns, passing of the peace, a time for sharing and a homily. The service started with a time of sharing of praise and thanksgiving and ended with a time of prayers to lift concerns to God.

In church we like to 'talk' alot about being an intentional community. This Sunday I saw first hand what this really looks like

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pink's Hot Dog Stand

How long would you be willing to stand in line for a hot dog?

Much to my own amazement ... I waited a whopping 1 hour and 45 minutes!

Saturday night, after I picked up my race packet, I headed over to Pink's Hot Dog Stand in Hollywood. It was almost 9 pm and I was worried they would be closing. Wow, was I wrong. When I arrived the line was down the block, wrapped around the corner, through the the parking lot (a measly 10 double parked places) and into the back alley. Oh, and closing time ... 3 am!!

Line up at Pink's Hot Dog Stand - Saturday Night

So what in the world would possess me to stand in line sooo looong for a Hot Dog?!?

It turns out -- the journey is more important than the destination.

Pink's is a local landmark and people travel from all over for their hot dogs. I quickly realized that standing on the side of the road I was meeting the most fascinating people. No hot dog was going to top the experience of hangin' out and chatting with these folks. I spent much of my wait with a couple who had just come from UCLA medical center. They were visiting a friend who was recovering from a recent lung transplant. We were beside each other for at least half an hour before I read the text on her pink cap. It said, "quiet, hair growing". Her bald head was evidence of her two year battle with Ovarian cancer. As I looked for the "healthy" hot dog option - she was embracing the moment for all it was worth and checking out the most decadent chilli cheese fries and a hot dog with pastrami on it! Part way through our wait she tired and went out back to sit. I think she had almost given up hope on us when her husband and I finally rounded the corner at 11 pm with her order.

The hot dog stand is celebrating 69 years. Over the years, very little expansion or modernization has been done . When you *finally* make it to the order window - it is the cook himself that takes your order. No pen and paper, no computer - just "what would you like" and then as you stand and watch ... your meal is made. The engineer in me wants to re-design the process, stream line things, optimize -- but there is something insanely comforting in the this old fashioned hot dog stand. As you wait and wait and wait in line .... you cease focusing on the destination - you pause and embrace the present moment and the company of your fellow travelers.

Order window. The cook takes your order and makes it while you wait!

11:30 pm - Mission Accomplished.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Nike Carnival and Street Party

Nike threw a *HUGE* party for my birthday. Wasn't that nice of them!

13,000 people were invited to run a 10K ... and numerous more came to dance, sing and cheer us on from the sidelines.

Technically this *was* a race. The top runners sprinted through all 10K in about half an hour! Trailing the serious runners by half an hour to an hour were tourists like myself. I as ran as hard as I could and arrived at the finish line red in the face and sweaty - but I also stopped to take pictures along the way, waved to the old folks in their lawn chairs and gave high fives to the kids as we passed by. The whole event had the vibe of a local carnival or neighbourhood street party and I enjoyed every minute of it!

The adventure started on the way to the Coliseum! L.A. traffic is always an adventure - but when you add in the road closures for the race and 13,000 runners, friends, family and spectators trying to find parking -- the traffic chaos was off the charts. It took me an excruciating two hours to crawl the few miles from where I was staying to the parking at USC

Roads in Downtown L.A. blocked off for the Race

The stress of traffic congestion disappeared the instant I arrived. The whole place was alive. The lawn of the Coliseum was a sea of excited people in their Red 'Just Do It' t-shirts. It was fun to see the families participating in the race together. I ran much of the race with a Mom and her 8 and 10 year old kids and a father with his young baby in a carrier on his back!

The race was staggered in waves. Everyone lined up based on their average time per mile. The serious runners were up front - tourists like myself were back in a later wave. The race course, from start to finish, was lined with folks cheering us on. In one particularly rough neighbourhood - the sidewalk was crammed with smiling parents in lawn chairs and little kids jumping around with excitement trying to get a high five from the runners as they passed.

Folks At A Bus Stop Cheering Us On

All along the race route there were performances of music and dance from the various race cities. There was everything from Mariachi Bands from Mexico, Chinese Lion heads dancing, Brazilian drums and L.A. kids bustin' a move to hip hop tunes. Add to the performances the neat architecture and a cool old church - and there was a steady stream of amazing sites and sounds to enjoy.

Shanghai Dancers

Local Kids Breakin'

I was so busy taking it in I forgot that it was a hot and humid evening and that I had been running for almost an hour. I slowed down for a moment to catch my breathe at the 7.5KM mark and a friendly volunteer jumped out and offered to take my picture.

Only 2.5KM Left To Go!

At the finish line we rec'd a finisher's bracelet and lots of free granola, yogurt and berries to celebrate our success..

You would think that everyone would be tired out after the run - but the atmosphere at the finish line was electric. Kanye had a very enthusiastic crowd and he rocked the house with more than an hour of hits - Touch The Sky, Homecoming, Champion, Stronger. It was fun to watch the runners jumping up in down to the music with their cups of granola in their hands!

Kanye On Stage

Closing Fireworks

My photos and video from the run are here on Flickr.