Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wisdom.

A Message by George Carlin: 

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways ,but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

If you don't share this with anyone....Who cares?

George Carlin

Friday, May 4, 2012

Yow.

Today I lost one of my childhood heros.  He was someone who never met me, but whom I knew intimately.  He was someone who helped me through my most frustrating times and was with me nearly everywhere I went.  As I grew older we spent less and less time together, but I never forgot him.  He was a pioneer, a visionary, a prophet, a genius, a gift to humanity, to music and to me.  His untimely death today came as a saddening shock as well as a stark reminder of my own aging.  While thinking of all the times we had together, a flood of memories returned to me in the storm.  


As I reached the latter part of my teenage years, I was turned on to the Beastie Boys.  I think it was the Paul's Boutique album that finally broke my teenage rebellion of wanting to hate them because everyone else loved them.  I was hooked, and it quickly turned into an obsession that did not wane for years.  I loved everything Beastie, and collected as much paraphernalia as I could on my teenage job wages; posters, t-shirts, CDs, videos, etc.  I prided myself on having every album I could find of theirs and even scored a few underground bootleg ones that have tragically gone the way of thieves during my travels.  I knew all the words to all the songs and jammed them endlessly in my CD player and headphones.  Listening to the Beastie Boys freed me in a way nothing else had.  They were scrappy, loud, in your face, cool as hell, everything I longed to be.  The Beastie Boys are singularly responsible for my life long love affair with hip hop music. 


I remember when I learned the Beastie Boys were coming to perform a concert and McNichol's Arena to promote their Hello Nasty album.  I was beside myself with excitement that only a teenage girl with a fierce obsession can have, and got a ticket as soon as I could!  They were slated to play with A Tribe Called Quest, making it one of the biggest hip hop concerts of its time.  The general admission ticket I purchased got me onto the floor of the concert arena, and because I showed up very early to wait in line to enter, I found myself in the very front row of the show.  It was literally a dream come true, I had actually dreamed of being in the front row of a Beastie Boys concert prior to all of this and there I was, only feet away from my heros.  I was able to sneak in a one-time-use camera and have photo evidence of this epic event of my youth.  I thrived off of that high for years to come.  


One of my fondest memories with the Beastie Boys was when I was living in Vail, Colorado.  It was a gorgeous July afternoon and it had rained all morning.  At about noon the clouds parted and the sun beat down on the mountainsides.  I boarded the gondola and at the top of the mountain, I began to hike into an area where no other tourists or mountain bikers were; total isolation in the Game Creek Bowl.  I had treated myself to a fair share of mushrooms for this hike and the vibrant colors of the forest and the wild flowers coupled with the leftover white clouds billowing above the mountain tops was nothing short of a spiritual experience.  As I reached the top of my hike, I sat in one of my favorite places on all of Vail Mountain and listened to the same five Beastie Boys songs over and over from their album Ill Communication whilst looking out over a view of the Gore Range with a sea of wild flowers majestically laid out before me, straight tripping.  To this day, the instrumental song "Eugene's Lament" with its powerful chords takes me right back to that moment and I am forever connected to the mountains when I hear that Beastie Boys' song.  Often I'll listen to it just to take me back to that special day in my life.


Adam Yauch, known as MCA of the Beastie Boys, passed away today at the age of 47.  I barely remember learning that he had been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but didn't really think twice about it.  I'll be thinking more than twice now. . .


To MCA:  Thank you, thank you, thank you for being in my life.  You mean so much to so many and the world is a better place for having been blessed to witness your talent.  You are an inspiration and you leave a grand legacy.  You are missed!!!!  R.I.P.


"What's gonna set you free?  Look inside and you'll see.  When you've got so much to say, it's called gratitude. . ." -The Beastie Boys

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The boogie monster.

i've got a monster in my closet, someone's underneath my bed
the wind's knocking at my window, i'd kill it but it's already dead

it waits til the midnight hour to come
to torture me for the wrong i've done
it just sits there and stares at me
and it won't let me get any sleep

i've got a monster in my closet, someone's underneath my bed
the wind's knocking at my window, i'd kill it but it's already dead

at first i was scared when i looked at his eyes
but now that i know him i'm not that surprised
i'm just waiting on the sun to rise
oh how i wish that old sun would rise

i've got a monster in my closet, someone's underneath my bed
the wind's knocking at my window, i'd kill it but it's already dead

i used to wonder why he looked familiar
then i realized it was a mirror
and now it is plain to see
the whole time the monster was me

i've got a monster in my closet, someone's underneath my bed
the wind's knocking at my window, i'd kill it but it's already dead

as sung by Cee-Lo Green with Gnarls Barkley

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Shortcut.

Months have passed since I visited Panama, but I never wrote anything about it; sometimes letting the memories marinate for a while makes them that much richer to share. One of the mellowest and best trips I've ever taken. Though it seems cliché and obvious, the Panama Canal was one of the coolest things in Panama and one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Descending into Panama City upon arrival, I got a bird's-eye-view-sneak-peak at this astounding marvel of engineering. Panama City is on the Pacific Ocean side of the country and one can see beautifully laid out the entrance of the canal, the cranes of the port, and downtown Panama City. When I arrived in the capital, I immediately took a flight to another part of the country and made my way across land back to the city over my two weeks in Panama. This view was a teaser for the sheer awesomeness of the Panama Canal that awaited me at the end of my trip. After traveling the gorgeous Panamanian countryside for two weeks, my day to visit the Canal had arrived. I took a taxi from my hotel to the Miraflores Locks to spend some time seeing what all the fuss was about. I had no idea what awaited me.
The Panama Canal has three sets of locks, two sets on the Pacific entrance of the canal and one set at the Caribbean entrance of the canal. Panama is not flat from north to south through which the canal is cut and raising the ships 80 ft. above sea level is necessary to pass through and over the skinniest part of our continent. In order to do this, a relatively simple system of gravity fed locks was built. Though the idea of the system is simple, the project itself is far from simple and what it still achieves to this day with technology from the early 20th century is fascinating. In the above photo we can see one of the sets of doors and the water waiting to be fed through pumps to level out between the two chambers before the doors can open and let a ship through. Between the sets of locks at each entrance is a huge man made lake where can lazily pass through the canal with ease. The tricky stuff is fitting a ship with billions of dollars of goods through a tiny passage. The water for all the raising and lowering of ships comes from this enormous man made lake that spans the country.
Looks a little lame, I know, but the photos do not show the capacity of what we are looking at until we see it put in proportion by a massive ship. The Miraflores Locks consist of two passages side by side. In this photo we see one chamber full and the one just to the right of it is "empty". We can also see that the full chamber is at a higher water level than the sea level just beyond it where the ships enter and exit the canal.
Oh, the door is opening! What could be passing through?
A massive container ship with a tag-along sailboat squeezed in just behind it. There is a toll charged for each ship passing through the Panama Canal and it varies according to the purpose of the ship. The average toll is something like $110,000, and the small privately owned sailboats and ships pay far less. The highest toll ever paid is something like $400,000. Around fifty ships of all shapes and sizes pass through the locks every day carrying what they may to folks around the world.
Now the lock is filled by the water from the lake. A drastic difference is noticed in the ships elevation and we can now see the tiny sailboat following the cargo ship. After they pass through another set of doors, through Panama and off towards the Caribbean they will go.Oop! Looking the other way, another ship enters from the Pacific; the first set of doors opens to allow the ship to pass.
Rusty old Chinese ship making its way around the globe who knows how many times. This vessel is certainly no rookie to the Panama Canal. I wonder what it's carrying from the Far East.
Chinese guys obviously! Hey boys, have a nice trip!
The other side of the locks pass what is called a tandem. And for obvious reasons. Tandem is when two boats or ships pass in the same chamber. That white one looks a little like a pirate ship kinda.
Hmm, sort of looks like it's carrying prisoners. What's with the striped uniforms these guys have on? Is there a real prison ship sailing our seas every day? Likely no, however, suspicious.
Woah Nelly! That is a beyond enormous ship passing from Caribbean to the Pacific. I had to stay and watch this ship pass through, it was just incredible. The small silver vehicles that flank either side of the chambers are vehicles that guide the ships through the locks by being attached with cables to the front and rear of the ship. The cables are attached after the captain guides the ship to a holding area at each end of the locks where the cables are attached to the ship and then gently brought into the chamber.

The precision this requires is mind blowing. This massive ship is clearing the walls of the locks by about 1m on each side(approx. 3ft), and it's only six tiny guide vehicles ensuring that it stays exactly on track. Hitting the side of locks can result in a hefty fine, not to mention damage to both the ship and the lock. It doesn't even look like a ship in this picture, it mostly looks like solid land with containers on it. That is snug.
Sweet baby Jesus, that ship is like a floating city of stuff. Containers stacked five stories high, and more than ten rows deep. That's just the stuff on it! The ship itself was a thing of beauty in it's sheer size and capacity Watching this thing pass through is a highlight of any trip I've ever taken. Ultimately, I stayed at the Miraflores Locks for about six hours dorking out hardcore on the marvel that is the Panama Canal. I just couldn't get enough of what I was seeing. The Panama Canal is a true testament to humankind's ability to engineer and build things. Not just because of the canal itself, but of the sheer amount of life and life's things that pass through it. The Panama Canal is everywhere in our lives because nearly everything that arrived to our country on a ship has likely visited Panama. Panama is a unique and advantageous country to manage such an important piece of global commerce.
So as if all this isn't enough. . . There is a new set of locks currently being built to pass ships up to four times as large as the largest ones that pass through now. Wait, what? FOUR TIMES LARGER?!?!? How big can ships possibly be? Truly amazing. Panama plans to open the new locks in 2014, exactly 100 years after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Celebrating women.





Did you know that March 8 is International Women's Day? Neither did I until I spent time outside of our country. It seems that here in United States that we see little or no need to celebrate women, you know, because of all that equality we have here. . .(sarcasm). Today is actually the 101st celebration of International Women's Day and for most of you, I imagine it is the 1st time you have heard of it. It seems that Americans don't feel the need to be involved in anything internationally celebrated, including women.


The first time I heard about Women's Day was when I was traveling in Mexico and Central America. I happened to be in southern Mexico on March 8, 2008 when someone, I will never remember whom, told me "Happy Women's Day". I was confused, I'd never heard of this Women's Day. I asked if it was a Mexican holiday and I was then informed that March 8 is, in fact, International Women's Day, celebrated the world over. I was delighted to know such a day existed, and disgusted at the same time that I had to leave my country in order to learn about this multi-national holiday.
Over the next three years, I was in various countries on March 8, and each time, I was wished well and embraced for simply being a woman. In 2010, while I was living in Bogotá, my Colombian boyfriend brought me flowers and wrote me a sweet note in Spanish waxing sentimental about all the things wonderful about the women in his life. Never have I received such sentiment from anyone here in United States on Women's Day. Not from my father, not from my brothers, not from any lovers or bosses or friends.
According to yogi tradition, women are sixteen times more powerful than men. Only sixteen times? From what I've seen, it's more than that. In my travels, I have seen more than my fair share of impoverished and homeless. More times than I can count, I have seen homeless women with more than one child. I do believe that only one time have I seen a homeless man with children in tow. Studies show that when women are earning money a large portion of it goes directly to nurturing the family she is also raising. Men fall short in this category and have a tendency to keep more for themselves before handing it over to the women who will then spend it on the family. In many cultures, it is the women who control the money in the family and for good reason, have you seen the crap that men buy with their money? For many women in this world, the real work begins when we arrive home from our outside jobs. The saying "Behind every great man is a great woman" did not come from nowhere. Anybody with even the tiniest amount of life experience knows that men are basically a mess without the help of a woman. This is evident as most of the married men I cut hair for are simply repeating their wives' requests, because it's obvious they have no clue what is best for themselves. The wisest men I know happily admit that women are the better of the two. I happen to wholeheartedly agree.
As women, we have a far greater capacity for tenderness and compassion. As women, we have a far greater capacity for nurturing. As women, we have a far greater capacity to bear burdens and to tolerate physical and emotional pain. As women we have a far greater capacity to multi-task and to endure. As women, we have a far greater capacity for creativity and communication. We are more patient, we are more peaceful, we are more generous, we are more compassionate. All of this makes it no mystery then as to why we are more beautiful. We have larger groups of friends and keep better ties with family. We live longer and we live happier.


Traditions have to begin somewhere. So to my mother and step-mother, to my sisters and step-sisters, to my aunties, to my nieces, to my dear friends, to my cousins, to my co-workers, and to determined women the world over, Happy Women's Day from United States. Thanks for keeping it all from falling apart.
Dedicated to my mother, the woman who taught me to fight for what I want without even showing it.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lingering feelings.


Was there a situation where you ever wished you could have just one extra day to experience what was going on? One extra day to explain yourself? One extra day to enjoy the perfect vacation? One extra day to be with a loved one who has passed on? Today is your extra day.

Because humans are so imperfect, we have created an imperfect calender that requires that every four years we add a day to our calender to make up for the flawed system and get us back on track. February 29 happens to be the lucky and illusive day that we get giddy over every fourth year. We call it leap year, which is a strange name, what exactly are we leaping over? I prefer to think of it as linger year. This extra day is not only our way of making up for a calender we haven't gotten right, but it's a chance to linger just a little bit longer before moving on with the year and beginning the month of March.

Call me crazy, but I am thinking of today as my extra day. My extra day I wished I could have had in so many situations seemingly stopped short. My extra day to be on vacation, my extra day to explain my mistakes, my extra day to hold my lover before we forever part, my extra day to see my baby nieces and nephews before they become adults right before my eyes and it's my extra day to be with my Grandma Hansen. All the times I have ached for just one extra day, I will live in one day. I will close my eyes, breathe deeply and let my mind go. I will return to the places I desperately miss, I will have my final say, I will breathe in the scent of my lovers forever burned on my brain, I will squeeze the chubby cheeks of babies and I will ask my grandma for gum from her purse as though no time has passed. And when I open my eyes, I will be smiling.

Today is your day to be well if you are sick. Today is your day to study just a bit more for the big test. Today is your day to lie on the beach in Mexico. Today is your day to hold the hands that are no longer with us. Our work obsessed society has destroyed any concept of doing things for ourselves, for nothing more than to feel good. I suggest that today everyone takes ten minutes to close their eyes, breathe deeply and let your mind go and linger in all the places you wish you had just one more day. No regrets, just a chance to really experience the best times of our lives all over again. You will be amazed and the clarity of your memories when you really give them a chance to surface and become alive again. Whatever you have to do can wait for ten minutes, but the extra day you will live in your most perfect memories will last a lifetime.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spider in my shower.

A poem by Sarah.

There's a spider in my shower
It's on the tile with the flower
Do I scream or do I cower?
Nah, I think I have more power

I look at it and say
"Stop looking at me naked and get out of my way!"
It decided it would rather stay
Today will be the spider's last day

While I splash and while I sing
I get an idea, my brain goes "ding!"
I throw water at the thing
Down goes spider, hope it enjoys dying


*Inspired by spiders in showers the world over.





Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Light me up.

The other day I was realizing that between the two lamps in my bedroom that they collectively require six light bulbs. My bedroom does not have a main light, so one of the lamps connected to a light switch serves as my main light. Though this lamp can use three bulbs, it only has two that are currently functioning, taking the grand total of light bulbs for one bedroom to five. Then it hit me, five light bulbs?!?!? Now it's not that I ever have all five of them going at any one time, but five bulbs seems excessive. And as if five wasn't enough, I then realized that I have four florescent bulbs in my bathroom, one bulb on my balcony, and I even have lights inside my closet. The bathroom bulbs go on and off all day, but the balcony and closet lights are rarely used, if ever. Not only do I have like seventeen bulbs in my room, but I also use a 1500 watt space heater connected to one of six outlets in my bedroom walls, and have a rather powerful heater/exhaust fan in the bathroom(totally necessary). Am I some kind of electricity hog? I can't believe that I have so much potential to waste electricity.

We are a country that wastes the shit out of resources, which is clearly represented by the availability in my single bedroom. It got me thinking about when I was living in Guatemala. Oh let the comparisons unfold. In Guatemala, I lived in a three story open air house built out of cinder blocks, concrete, rebar, and a tin roof. The top level of the house was completely open air and was something of a lounge. We had a few light bulbs up there, but hardly used them. Most of the electricity of the top level was taken by the stereo system which consisted of a few speakers. The middle floor of the house was one bedroom and our kitchen. The kitchen had a tiny fridge and one light bulb. Our two burner stove was connected to a small gas tank and therefore required no electricity. The bedroom on this middle floor had one light bulb and a TV that was on sometimes. The ground floor of the Guatemalan house had three bedrooms and the bathroom. Each bedroom had one light bulb as well as the bathroom. And true to Central American form, the shower head was also electrified.

So if we add up the number of bulbs in the entire three stories of the Guatemalan house, the total comes to seven; one upstairs, two on the middle floor and four on the main floor. Due to the open air structure of the house, we didn't use the lights during the day and our house was well lit at night because there was a street lamp style light on the pathway in front of our house. Seven light bulbs in the entire house in Guatemala, and I have six between two lamps in one bedroom in Los Angeles. Sheesh.

Now here's the best part. At any one point in my entire home, there is probably something like twenty bulbs going, and likely more than that when we are all home. One night in Guatemala, I had the light on in my room, my housemate Gary had the light on in his room as well as his TV and space heater. At the same time, the light bulb was on in the kitchen and my brother Brady who was visiting was taking a shower, also requiring electricity. I was standing on the second floor chatting with Gary when all of a sudden flames and sparks started shooting out of the side of the house where the main electricity was connected to the wires passing overhead. I hollered at Brady to turn the shower off immediately so he didn't get killed, and then the house went dark. Four light bulbs, a TV, a space heater, and an electrified shower head caused a melt down. We had blown the entire house. Standing in the dark Brady whimpers, "But I'm all soapy". Poor Brady. Once we realized the electricity was out for good he had to finish his shower in the cold and in the dark.

All's well that ends well and eventually the crappy Guatemalan electricity was fixed. But to this day, I love to reminisce and make comparisons to that time in my life and this story is one that just came up when I realized what a bunch of electricity pigs we are in this country. Here's to excess. Now go turn off all of the things in your house that you aren't using.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cast yer vote.

As 2012 has arrived, we find ourselves in an election season revving up to be a timeless one. I mean, who are we kidding, voting for president in the last year on Earth carries some ominous qualities. Moving on. I came across this photo. Remember when that guy ran for president? Speaking of timeless elections, Perot was the only guy in modern history to be a legitimate third candidate. Twenty years ago he sure gave Bush and Clinton a run for their money. And we all know how history turned out with that one. I bought this t-shirt at a thrift store, don't remember where or when, but obviously a score. I had this t-shirt with me for many years and most of the time I sported it, people would comment. I traveled with it to many places and it was good to me for throughout the years.
*
But why do I have a photo of it? The Perot t-shirt, though a classic, was just sitting in a box in my mom's attic for a while. When I came across it while looking through my things, I decided it was time to get rid of it. I attempted to sell it on eBay, to no avail. Apparently Perot memorabilia isn't that hot of a seller. However, I have a wannabe hipster younger brother, Alex. Alex was clearly the only worthy recipient of this fine piece of vintage election apparel. I had no doubts that he wanted the shirt. Ecstatic and nearly moved to tear, Alex received the shirt. Before parting ways with Perot after a long and beautiful relationship, I snapped this photo so that as my brain ages I can remember it like it was yesterday.