Some things I learned from yesterday's hike

Yesterday, I joined a Flickr Meetup that began at the Chantry Flats Trailhead, in the mountains above Pasadena/Sierra Madre. We followed the Gabrieleno Trail, for just over 2 miles, until we reached Sturtevant Falls. It was a fairly brisk, cloudy morning. Perfect for photography. The trail follows the Santa Anita Wash, which provided serene sounds of a creek as we trekked through. Gorgeous hike.

Some things I learned from yesterdays hike:

  • Never underestimate the awesomeness that is meeting new people and listening to their stories.
  • Man alive, I'm out of shape.
  • I love watching other photographers' creative process.
  • According to my Fitbit, I climbed 86 floors (equivalent to the Transamerica Pyramid). If that's true, that's pretty cool. But, man alive, I'm out of shape.
  • I need to get out a lot more; there's too much beauty around here (greater Los Angeles) that I take for granted.
  • Kids, don't smoke. Because, even after you quit, you'll pay for it every time you attempt to do any kind of exercise. Especially in higher altitudes.
  • When attempting to cross a creek, don't fall in.
  • If you fall in, make sure your shoes are waterproof.
  • If your shoes are not waterproof, HAHAHAHAHAHA!
  • Rocks, in a creek, can be slippery.
  • A walking stick would have been helpful.

My thoughts exactly

“What’s disheartening about the political process in America is that, after an election, there’s far too few voices who mean it when they say, “Let’s compromise and do what’s best for America,’’ and far too many who say, “OK, what do we have to do to win in 2016?’’”
— Peter King, MMQB 11/12/2012

Three points, Ann.

First, go to and educate yourself.

Second, what point do we have to get to in order for people to start treating others with respect? Everyone wants freedom and basic human rights, correct? Respect should be included. You treat others with respect and you will be respected. Respect their freedoms, and yours will be respected as well. I don’t care about which “side” your political opinions fall on, EVERYONE deserves to be respected.

Third, the first person in any debate/argument/expression of opinions to resort to personal insults is always the loser.

Stop the madness!

Scott Kelby’s post, on Google+. And this post on

Better off today than four years ago?

This is the current "trending" political question.
Here's my answer: absolutely yes.
Here's why: I came to the realization that I control my life and my status. I, through hard, dedicated, smart work, set myself up for success. And while government does play a role in setting boundaries in an attempt to create a level playing field for all of us citizens, I'm still ultimately responsible for setting my limits.
There are millions of choices we're faced with but, the decisions are ultimately up to us. Don't like something? Change it. Like something? Do more of it. It's that simple. No, really. It is.
Let's stop blaming politicians and government for the status of our lives.

Two things that fascinate me (a lot) lately

Two things that fascinate me (a lot) lately:

  1. People who travel the world by motorcycle.
  2. People who ride bicycles cross country.
I want to do at least one but, preferably, I would like to say I did both.
*adding to my bucket list*

On Due Process...

"Innocent until proven guilty" is the single most important aspect of our justice system. It's one of the reasons that we, as US citizens, enjoy the freedoms that we have. It's protection of our rights, for guilty and innocent alike.
We make assumptions all the time. Sometimes our assumptions are no-brainers, sometimes they're murkier. But, it's still important that, no matter our assumptions, we do treat everyone with the same "innocent until proven guilty" philosophy. Otherwise, what would be the point of having our justice system at all? Why not just have flash mobs getting ropes and hanging people from trees based on their assumptions? 
All that aside, please read +Rick Stilwell's comment, as I feel that is the bigger picture. We're (too often) focused on the wrong things.
I wrote the above in response to a comment asking why we're calling the Aurora shooter "alleged" and "suspect" even though the general consensus agrees that he is guilty.
I'm a strong believer in Due Process. It's one of the most virtuous ideals within our justice system. It guarantees that criminals be treated as human beings and challenges us to work to find truth and fact amidst clouds of misinformation, perception, and interpretations.
You can view the original Google Plus post (and comments) here.

The ridiculousness of AT&T

Five weeks ago, I received a notice from AT&T thanking me for being loyal to their U-Verse service for the past 6 months. As my “reward” I had to complete an online form so that they could send me a $10 gift card.

Today, the gift card arrived. Now, I have to go online to activate the card.

Why not just send me the card? Why do I have to request it before it’s sent? Why not just credit my account $10 and send me a “thank you” email letting me know about the credit?

It’s time we stop making things more difficult than they need to be.

Where I reveal how little I know about social media strategy

As I begin to use Google Plus more and more, I become increasingly disappointed with the lack of content provided by sources and companies I would really like to "connect" with. I have taken some initiative in reaching out to them to ask why their posts are so rare/non-existant. One of the most common answers: There's not enough traffic on G+ to warrant activity. We post where the traffic is".
Completely understandable. Seriously, I get it.
Reminds me of a thought I had while sitting at a standstill, on I-405, during one of my 110 mile commutes to the office. I'm not in traffic. I am traffic.
With that in mind, wouldn't there be an increase in traffic on Google Plus if the "content creators" were to, you know, create content? I know it's tricky but, when you build something, you have to actually build.

The things I didn't weet this week (6/17-6/23)

And it’s a good thing I didn’t. Though, it’s not to say that the things that were published to my Twitter stream were actually worth posting. I mean, come on.

Consider this the equivalent of the Friday evening newscast. Really, nothing of importance.

  • Just clipped my toenails. Don't you love Twitter?
  • Eating a gummy bear then taking a sip of coffee... not recommended.
  • PSA: if your meatloaf requires the diner to use a steak knife, you have failed at making meatloaf.
Note: These tweets are actual saved drafts of tweets from throughout the week. I make a point to empty my drafts folder (for Twitter, Outlook, Wordpress, etc, etc) at the end of each week).

File under "Did I really say that?"

And then sub file under “Who am I?”

I spoke these exact words in department meeting, this week:

"It's a tool that we're not using like it can be used. If we only use a hammer to occasionally hang a picture, that would be fine. But, we can use that same hammer to build something. It can be used for so much more."

Checking in in lieu of a Sunday Musing... or is this actually a Sunday Musing?

Pesky crow has been in my face, lately. Well, I let it distract me. Well, that’s not all true.

Planning to get back on the write/blog track soon. I have a couple posts working through my drafts folder. Not that anyone is actually waiting on the edge of their seat to read it. I mean, seriously.

The last four days (off work) were much needed reprieves from the craziness of the week prior. My body was ready to go but my mind? My mind needed to hide from the world for a while.

I’ll try to nudge it out of its cave tomorrow morning.

what happens after you press the shutter

This morning, I read photographer Joe McNally's thoughts on the 40th anniversary of the "Napalm Girl" photograph, taken by Nick Ut.
"That photo made on that horrible day was made in less than a second. Yet a lifetime spun on its power. With so many photographs being taken everywhere, easily, and thoughtlessly, it’s easy to forget how powerful they can be, and occasionally are. I have always felt that for everyone, looking at a photo that means something to them induces an interior, seismic shift. It may be imperceptible, and not understood immediately, but your compass has been altered, ever so slightly, and you will never be the same again."
 You just never know what will happen after you press that shutter button...

a Sunday musing, 6/3

I keep telling myself to simplify. Even though I understand what it means to simplify, I don't think I know quite how to apply the philosophy to my everyday life. I do know that it is a philosophy that I do want to apply. It's something that I believe that I need if I want to continue on the path I have begun to set for myself. 
If a natural disaster occurred at this very moment, how would I react? What objects, if any, would I grab with hopes of saving? What would I, without a doubt, reacquire in the recovery process long after the disaster occurred? 
I look around the room and I know. My understanding of what is important is changing before my eyes. The people that I hold important, the objects in my possession, aspects of my lifestyle that I would change, all coming into a much clearer picture. A more simple picture. 
No longer waiting for that "natural disaster" to occur. Now is the time to begin making those changes. Now is the time to simplify, truly. 

time to drive yourself

Bored at work? Hate your job?
Are you taking initiative to make it better? Are you challenging yourself, I mean, truly challenging yourself, to improve and grow personally?
If so, and still bored and unsatisfied, are you in the right profession?
If not, get out of there. Make a change!
Don't hold back others because you hold yourself back.

The things I didn't tweet this week (5/20-5/26)

And it’s a good thing I didn’t. Though, it’s not to say that the things that were published to my Twitter stream were actually worth posting. I mean, come on.
Consider this the equivalent of the Friday evening newscast. Really, nothing of importance.
    • "I don't know about you, but I could really go for some tacos right now!" ~Me, any time, any day.
    • I'm sorry, I don't speak passive-aggressive-clear-your-throat. Something to say? Speak up!
  • Four-day weekend coming and I've decided to stay-cation. No long drives nor high gas bills. Just relaxing. #reprieve
Note: These tweets are actual saved drafts of tweets from throughout the week. I make a point to empty my drafts folder (for Twitter, Outlook, Wordpress, etc, etc) at the end of each week). 

A series of action

Actions matter. But they're not to be judged individually. They're to be judged as a series.
Just as a series of positive actions can be undermined by a series of negative actions, the same can occur in reverse. A series of negative actions can be undone by a series of positive actions.
And the more global your perspective on your series of actions, the truer your interpretation of "good" and "bad".

Objects aren't important. People are.

Yesterday we were involved in a minor car accident.
After a long, very good, day at work we headed home. It happened as we traveled north on I-405, passing through Culver City. We were in the carpool lane. Traffic was moving slowly and the car behind us (in the carpool lane) moved to change into another lane (illegally crossing double yellow lines). The driver didn't see the motorcycle coming up, splitting lanes, behind him. The motorcycle driver swerved to try to avoid, lost control of his bike, and hit the "offending" car, another car in the next lane, before sliding on the ground and hitting the rear of our car.
The best part is that the rider got up. He was okay (no injuries). There was only minor damage on the bike and the three cars. Again, the best part is no injuries. I could care less about the vehicle damage.
And that's the lesson learned. We say it all the time, "Objects aren't important. People are."
Another admirable thing: all parties involved kept their cool. No anger, no blame. I saw an extraordinary amount of compassion and courtesy. Not to mention the two other drivers who stopped to make sure everything was okay, and stayed until we all took to the road again. All four drivers were primarily concerned, and relieved, that we were all okay.

As political as you'll ever see me get

Ugh, politics.
Ugh, politicians.
Ugh, rhetoric.
Really, unless you have taken any action to correct the things that you are unhappy about (politically), your complaints are invalid. The easiest, most effective way to take action is by voting. If you don't vote, but still complain about our government, I have no use for your views.
Even more effective? Communicate with your elected officials. Write a letter, send an email, and if you're truly unhappy about the state of things, go to one of their appearances and/or speaking forums. CONTRIBUTE and express in lieu of your passive-aggressive complaints.
With so many dividing issues, passing of blame, lack of accountability and responsibility, decrease in quality, financial struggles and mismanagement, etc, etc I still stop down and truly appreciate how fortunate we are to live in this country. A lot of us don't realize that it is the fact that we have opposing opinions that really makes this country great. It could always be worse. Remember that.
It can always be better. But, it takes true leadership and action, not negativity and passive voices.

Randomness for the week of 5/13-5/19

When I was a kid, a day seemed like a year. If someone told me that I had to wait a month for something to happen, I'd be in agony over how slowly that time passed. That's all different now.
Now, I would love for time to slow down to an agonizingly slow pace.
    • On Tuesday, I received confirmation that my Project UNIFY grant application was accepted, and fully funded. This is a huge project with aspects that will reach into every aspect of our programs to change it for the better. If implemented correctly, we're going to see a tremendous about of growth over the next few years. We'll also see increased efficiency and sustainability in what we do. It changes our approach; it will affect every singe aspect of our organization. And believe me, I'm not exaggerating when I describe it this way. Click here for the SOSC web page on our School Partnership Programs and Project UNIFY. Admittedly, the page needs a complete overhaul, including much more information about what we're doing, but keep checking it for updates if you're interested. 
    • Within the past few months I'v gained a renewed sense of drive and loyalty to my career. It's funny how quickly things can change. At the end of last year, I was ready to make a career change.
    • I'm getting increasingly annoyed with myself for not following through on things I tell myself that I should do. Best example is me constantly saying "I need to eat better. Smaller portions and more cooking at home." Then using the excuse of "my busy schedule" or "I'm too tired" to back out of it.
    • Speaking about (not) eating better: one of the best things I've ever eaten was the pastrami chili cheese fries, from The Hat, I had for dinner last night. So good but, the chances of me ordering it again are pretty slim. That is, unless there are 10 other people I can share it with. So much food. I didn't take a picture of mine, but my friend Elissa took a pic before her and her husband tackled it a few weeks ago. View it here
    • No "Things I didn't tweet this week" post because I simply didn't have a lot of time for Twitter (or any other social network). And, when I did have the time, I didn't "filter" what I did post.
  • Family and friends are surprised when I tell them how much busier things are (as we're all already very busy as it is). I think there's an even greater need, and sense of urgency, to really focus on making time for them as we move forward. Especially important is that my wife and I make it a real point to turn off work and spend real time together.

The things I didn’t tweet this week (5/6-5/12)

And it’s a good thing I didn’t. Though, it’s not to say that the things that were published to my Twitter stream were actually worth posting. I mean, come on.
Consider this the equivalent of the Friday evening newscast. Really, nothing of importance.
    • Harley stopped next to me playing Taylor Swift on his radio. Lesson from this moment? Do what you want. F everyone else.

How I should "earn this"

Tom Hank's character tells Private Ryan, in the movie Saving Private Ryan, to "earn this". That scene is important, really driving home one of the main points of the story. Private Ryan, while reminiscing about that moment, expresses how much he tried to live his life in order to earn what that group of soldiers did for him.
Applied to my life, I use the "earn this" mantra more and more often. Are my actions worth it? Is what I do something that will "earn" a positive result? Am I working to ensure that what I do, in both work and personal life, worth what I achieve?
And, it's also fun to use the "earn this" mantra to other things, like:
    • Remember the ginormous meal you just ate? "Earn it" by working out, cycling, hiking, etc.


    • Want something specific from your wife, friend, or family? "Earn it" by doing something for them as well.


  • That new camera/lens/other photography equipment you want to buy? How do you plan to "earn it"?

Sunday musing on Flickr and korean tacos

No "deep" thoughts for today's musing. I'm anxious for a for a few things coming this week. Nothing bad, just want things to start moving. Patience is, and always will be, something I continually strive towards.
I did grill this evening (no pictures because I simply wanted to enjoy my evening). I made Korean-inspired tacos. I grilled some bulgogi (purchased pre-marinated from Fresh and Easy), grilled a bunch of corn tortillas, added some shredded cabbage and Sriracha for some delicious tacos. Next time I do this, I'm skipping the pre-marinated pack and doing my own because, 1) the marinade (flavor) wasn't strong enough for me, and 2) the quality of the meat wasn't all that great.
I'm slowly working through my Flickr photostream, reorganizing sets and collections, adding titles, descriptions, tags, and really trying to set it up so that it's easy for me to keep things organized moving forward. I'm still a little unsure about "investing" more effort into Flickr; I just need to see some more innovation come from them. Right now, the features I want aren't there. But, I feel a bit loyal to them (as I've been with them since Nov 2004).

The things I didn't tweet this week (4/29-5/5)

And it’s a good thing I didn’t. Though, it’s not to say that the things that were published to my Twitter stream were actually worth posting. I mean, come on. Consider this the equivalent of the Friday evening newscast. Really, nothing of importance.
    • Coffee was so good, this morning, I wanted to swim in it instead of drink it.
    • Zooey, I love ya but you're just way to overexposed right now. Irritatingly so.
  • Same with you, Betty White.
These are tweets from my drafts folder, written during the week but not actually posted for some reason or another. 

Sunday grill

Sunday grill by patricktphoto
Sunday grill, a photo by patricktphoto on Flickr.

With the warm weather becoming a constant, I'm getting back into the habit of grilling more often. Sundays seem to be perfect as they're usually the only days when I don't have work or other commitments.

This afternoon I opted to marinade some salmon fillets in Soy Vey Teriyaki sauce before tossing them onto the grill. I paired those with some grilled asparagus (tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt).

Oh, so good.