Tag Archives: san diego

Raining: The Flipside of Down

Washington, D.C.

Rolling through high-heeled streets,
Shimmering in a photo finish.

Small drops with big ideas,
Ya make that steal, or merely cop a feel?

Too much cotton for mirrors on the flipside of down,
But soaking floats color.

So dragging the horizon like an ephemeral plea,
She teases air from smog.

Small drops, what’s the big idea?

She prays for din to break silence,
Before fancying a prey on thunder.

Pattering in gardens of brick and cities of grass,
She won’t ride lightening to wit,
Why take a bolt, when Sun owns color?

Glasgow, Scotland

San Diego, CA

TSA Body Scan: Will you say “No” Nov. 24th — National Opt Out Day?

“If you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested.”

–John Tyner’s battle cry at San Diego International Airport, during an invasive pat down by a TSA screener.  And the new punchline for privacy advocates. On his YouTube video that captured the incident, we hear the overhead announcement, “Security is everyone’s responsibility,”  as Tyner dubs the phrase.
Tree Trunk — Balboa Park, SD
The instructions:  Step into the oversized, closet-like contraption.  Place your palms facing out on either side of your head so that your arms are about parallel with your shoulders.  Spread your legs shoulder length apart.  Now hold still…

If there is any confusion, look around, and you’ll probably see a cutout type drawing that will illustrate the position to assume.

“Is this safe?  How much radiation am I taking in?” I asked with a friendly smile, as I stepped into the box a few months ago at Nashville International Airport.

“You are getting more radiation by using your cell phone than going through this machine,”  the TSA screener responded, equally amicable.

Questions most are asking:  Is it safe for my health? Does it violate my privacy rights?

In the News:

  • San Diego, Calif — Monday, 32-year-old local resident, John Tyner, posted a YouTube video of his probing pat down, after refusing a full body scanner and body search at San Diego International Airport.  In the video, Tyner offers to go through the metal detector on several occasions and apologizes “for the hassle” following the TSA screener’s pat down.  He cancelled his American Airlines’ flight and is now being investigated by TSA.  Irony?  The clip has received more than 50,000 hits as of this morning. “If I don’t do it, nobody will,” Tyner says in the video.
  • New Jersey — Lawmakers are asking airport passengers to refuse the body scan for “National Opt Out Day” on Wednesday, November 24th, one of the busiest travel days.
  • Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, two pilots filed a federal suit against the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, alleging that the full body scans and pat downs are a violation of their Fourth Amendment Rights (protects against unreasonable search and seizure).

Did They Serve Spam or Not?? That is the Question.

Tweet from Carnival Cruise Liner, Splendor: In regards to our last post, we wanted to clarify that while some SPAM was delivered, it was never served to guests. Tweeted November 11, 2010 (day ship docked in San Diego Bay)

San Francisco Examiner; here is the lede: Grazia Gala and her husband, Kishore Pradhan, expected sun, relaxation and rest on their seven-day cruise to Mexico. What happened instead were long lines, cold showers and Spam. –Today’s news

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Glad-to-be-back-on-solid-ground-108337454.html#ixzz15SqgfM1f

Photo Story — Local Take: 4,500 Disembark in SD Harbor

“My son had brought two flashlights, so I think we were the envy of the ship.”

–Passenger Jeanne Ralston

Above: Passengers make their way down everyman’s catwalk as clicks, firing questions, flashes and cheers welcome them home.

Carnival Splendor docks in San Diego Harbor;  Thursday, November 11, 2010 (Veteran’s Day), 9:30-11:15 a.m. The morning is warm and breezy and the mood depends on one’s stage role.

North Harbor Drive:  4,500 passengers and crew disembark in small groups as hundreds of family, friends and onlookers wait.  On the adjacent artery, Pacific Highway, local residents prepare and gather for the Veteran’s Day parade.  Reasons to celebrate abound.  The warm breeze

Above: Jeanne Ralston of Ventura, CA, embraces her daughter, Cindi Wolfe.  Wolfe’s parents and brother were on the ship.

My son had brought two flashlights, so I think we were the envy of the ship,” Jeanne Ralston, age 85, tells the slew of media with an exaggerated eye roll and flash of smile.  Ralston and her husband were sporting dog tags in memory of their son in-law, Navy Commander Duane G. Wolfe, 54, who was killed during duty in Iraq on May 25, 2007.  Ralston said that crew members commemorated Veteran’s Day with a gathering that included a large American flag.

Above: Cindi Wolfe welcomes her family home.

Above: Retha Hoeffken of Cypress, CA, waits for her daughter, 29-year-old Heather Hoeffken, who is on the ship with her fiance.

Passengers praised the crew, however, some sensed indecisiveness and a lack of communication from upper management.

Retha Hoeffken said she spoke with her daughter yesterday morning for the first time since the ordeal started for her on Monday morning, when she learned about the fire while browsing the web.  Heather told her mother that passengers were not informed that there was, in-fact, a fire on the ship, despite smelling smoke. “When she called me she was crying.  She said, ‘I’ve never been this scared.’  They didn’t get any information,” Retha Hoeffken said.

“I’ve been making phone calls to Carnival, and they said everything was great.  They said they were being well taken care of, and they had flushing toilets and cold water and cold food…  They never asked me her name,” Retha Hoeffken adds. She said that the first thing her daughter wants to do is take a hot shower, upon getting home.

Above: People continue standing along the balconies several hours into the disembarking process.  (It was difficult to see if they were passengers or part of the ship’s crew.)  Every now then, instructions would blare from the ship’s loudspeakers.

Above: A front and center view attracts an on-going crowd, despite the lack of parking.  Plenty of hotels line the other side of North Harbor Dr.  San Diego International airport sits a few miles down the same artery and downtown’s Little Italy is a stone’s throw away.

Above: A family is taxied off the cruise ship docks.  Bystanders wave and cheer.

“Welcome home!”

“Come back to San Diego!”

Late Night Crab Fishing: Size Matters!

Ocean Beach boasts the longest concrete pier in the West Coast at 1,971 feet. Saturday night a couple of weeks back; Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA.

The night is chilly around 10:30 p.m., but I soon lose myself in the waves slapping against the cliffs (walking backwards and stopping often to do so). The scene changes from couples to family, friends, beer and soda alongside fishing gear. My friend asks a man who is leaving for his bait. We walk a little more than 3/4ths of the pier’s length and set up shop.

Inhale…ahhh… Trite truth: the air is scented with sodium induced crispness! Late night crab fishing is definitely an off-the-beaten-path San Diego experience!

It is Loc’s first time out. He spends an hour fishing, but, like everyone else with whom I spoke, his net comes up empty (except for his bait). But he says it’s fun.

A small cage with mackerel is hooked to the bottom of the net.

The net is tethered with a nylon rope and dropped 40 to 50 feet down.

A group of three men walk passed with their gear. “Catch anything?” I yell.
“Nah, going to Mission Beach!” one of them shouts back.

Louis, his wife and their son often spend weekends fishing.  Tonight, he says they caught small lobsters and released them back into the ocean.  Size matters!  Otherwise, you’ll be fined.

“She likes to get her hands dirty,” he says with a smile, while cocking his head back toward his wife.

An evening after a good rain is the best time to fish, Louis advises.

Update 11/11/10: Spoke with a friend of mine that ended up catching a crab after I left (before midnight).

Between Seasons: Will you blossom or wilt?

Balboa Park, Rose Garden (recommend)

It’s October, and I watch a bee graze the stamen (that thin hair-like stuff in the center) of a pale yellow Julia Childs.

Some blooms have wilted, while other buds flourish — hard to tell if it’s spring or autumn.  Isn’t that the case sometimes in life too?

We wilt and blossom in the paradox until nature indicates a clear shift, and we are once again intimate with season.

Classic Kindness Strolls By — Luck?

Sitting at Starbucks…
“You dropped your dollar,” a man behind me in line says as I step away from the register. I thank him, pick it up and take my seat on an armless, cushiony, brown chair.

“That was really nice of him,” the woman sitting next to me comments. I don’t bother opening my book. She tells me she would have returned the dollar too.

Her name is Sandra. She used to be homeless, she says. . “I never thought it would happen to me. I guess sometimes you have to watch what you say.”

We chat for a few minutes. Then I tell her about my blog and ask if she’d be interested in sharing some of her story. She agrees.

Her soft brown eyes set upon mine, and she gingerly pats the back of her afro.

Sandra spent 1½ years on the streets of San Diego starting in December 1990, after getting laid off from her job at Longs Drug store in El Cajon. “I used to go around asking people to give me something to eat. I would never ask for money,” she adds.

Sandra would go to St. Vincent on Imperial Avenue to shower, but she chose not to stay there – too many rules and restrictions.

For her, the streets were more congenial. “Sometimes I was spit at. People would throw things at me. That was just for the first couple of nights. But knock on wood, people were really nice.”

Then on a summer day in 1991, Sandra was near the downtown courthouse, when she recognized an old friend. She called out to her. “She didn’t recognize me at first,” Sandra said. Her friend was in disbelief.

But she offered Sandra a way to put her life back on track:  A home.  “[She] took me under her wings and got me a job. I guess she trusted me enough to live with her.”

I start asking another question, but Sandra lets me know that this is all she is comfortable sharing. And it is more than enough.

I see Sandra every now and then at the CVS in North Park. She’s a cashier. If I get her register, I end the transaction with: Good seeing you again.

She responds: Good seeing you too.

Or vise-versa. Either way, it’s nice.

So WORTH It: SD Human Rights Watch Film Festival

San Diego, CA — Balboa Park

Museum of Photographic Arts — Photograph from MoPA website.


In between the salty streams we collectively found ourselves laughing.

Last night, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival featured Pushing the Elephant, a film in which the story’s protagonist – 2009 UN Humanitarian of the Year – defiles the face of war by valuing the faces of survival.

During the conflict in Congo, Rose Mapendo’s husband is killed, and she is forced to bargain her 10 children in various ways, in particular her daughter, Nangabire. Through her reunion with Nangabire, Pushing the Elephant seamlessly juxtaposes scenes from the life Rose and her family currently live in a beautiful suburban U.S. neighborhood with the wreckage of surviving the Congolese conflict.

The strength and wisdom Rose gained by forgiving the crimes against her family and community stuns.

After some deliberation with her eldest son, now the man of the household, Rose visits Congo and revisits her memories.

She listens to those left behind, imparts perspective and bestows hope to her community.  At one point, while kneeling alongside community members by a small slab of gray stone that marks the grave sight of a mother and wife, Rose says a prayer and thanks God for growing a tree in the space as a sign of rebirth…

The Festival runs thru September 25, 2010.  For a full schedule, checkout www. mopa.org.

War exists because people lack love.

— Rose Mapendo

San Diego Health and Wellness: Want to Quiet the Cacophony of Thoughts?

San Diego provides a great opportunity for enhancing health and wellness.  During a recent trip to Manhattan and Washington, D.C., I was surprise to learn how many friends and acquaintances relate such ideas to L.A.  So, I thought a story on health and wellness in the San Diego area was in order.

On a Sunday morning…

Meditation is about connecting with your emotions, Courtney Kimpo, our instructor tells us.  About a dozen people, some seated on blankets resting on the bamboo floor and others seated in chairs, prepare to practice meditation (on Tuesday evenings that number jumps to 50 people or more).   Flickering candles line the floor before Courtney.

Today, we will go into relaxation, followed by concentration, and heart-centered meditation, she says.

Sounds easy enough.

But sitting in my chair, I am thankful that we are commencing with some stretches at the top of this hour-long session.  Having practiced meditation before, I can tell you that well-intentioned surrender to these gentle directives can ignite a misfiring of synapses.

A melodic flute charms the space, and we flow into part one: Relaxation.  Relax the muscles in your forehead, your face, Courtney coaxes with soft ease…

Open your eyes slightly and focus on the candlelight or the darker shades of bamboo on the floor, she suggests as the class transitions into concentration.  She guides our breath and our attention like a thread.  We end the session with a vibration of sounds that crest into a concert of “Om.”

I do not see colors or shed tears of joy, but I feel my heart beat.  I sense my spirit.  I brush something pure.

After the session, I ask Courtney if she has any suggestions for those of us for whom meditation does not come easy.

“Begin slowly.  Begin with patience.  Begin with a positive reading — something that brings you inspiration.  Try to connect with the joy of your heart center and know that everyone has challenging moments with meditation.”

A few minutes later, back out on Adams Avenue, I see Courtney again.  “Do you know what I really want to say?” she asks.


“What I really want to say is if you are having a hard time getting into meditation, come to a Pilgrimage of the Heart meditation.”

I smile, and think to myself, see you next week.

Located in Normal Heights (10 minutes from downtown), Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga studio offers free meditation on Tuesdays and Sundays.

San Diego Eats: Local Picks with Freshness and Flavor

I’m from the NE, where food preparation is arguably among the best in the country.  However, the west coast owns the freshness factor.  That being said, the following restaurants boast the preparation that an east coast food snob desires with a combination of ingredients that can only be served up on the west coast.  As you probably guessed, the price point reflects the food, but no worries, it’s not rock star style.  Keep in mind lunch and happy hour options for a financially savvy dining experience.

Sushi:  Hane (Sorry, no website!  Dare I say, it’s better than Nobu!)

Location:  Banker’s Hill

Atmosphere:  Understated.  Clean lines with a splash of color.

Fresh, melt in your mouth sushi!  Try the negitoro for a culmination of that descriptor.

Modern California Fare:  Market Restaurant

Location: Del Mar

Atmosphere:  Casual modern elegance. Warm hues that mix well with the selection of fare — unassuming, creatively, and fresh!

The combination of ingredients and subtle flavors will strike any true foodie’s fancy.

Spanish:  Tapas Picasso Restaurante

Location:  Hillcrest

Atmosphere:  Funky and intimate; a happenstance myriad of artwork with an aesthetic rhythm.

Rich textures and food combinations with personalized service and attention to detail.  And let’s beat a dead horse — it’s fresh!