Saturday, January 30, 2010

Time to Re-Program My Mind

Yesterday was my last day at my prior employer. It was an enjoyable and rewarding 13 year career, yet I am ready to move on. Colleagues, co-workers and executives gave me a very nice send-off, quite generous accolades, in fact. I am deeply appreciative. Yet I cannot dwell in the past. I must begin to look forward. To do so I must "re-program my mind". Thirteen years anywhere is a long time, and I owe it to my new employer to come to work fresh, energized and sharp. When I walked out of my office building for the last time as an employee, I let out a deep, heavy sigh. It was symbolic in a sense but was necessary. Sheldon and Duncan were at my side, and both looked up at me as if to say, "What's wrong?" Their tails wagged, and they opened their mouths and smiled at me. It felt great. Before we drove off, I logged onto Twitter and Facebook from my blackberry and entered the simple phrase: "It is finished." Later I was surprised to see the comments from folks who responded knowing, to what I was referring. My decision to leave was driven by an interesting opportunity elsewhere, and it wasn't a decision I made lightly. Although looking back, my subconscious knew I was ready for something new. As I drove home to Palm Springs, my mind was filled with thoughts. I remembered a quote of artist Vincent Van Gogh, who said: "I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process" Very fitting, I thought. It's not intended to be negative, just meaning that my mind was all about the last 13 years and it took over who I am.

I decided I needed a quick celebration. So I stopped off at Cold Stone Creamery, ordered the largest cup of chocolate ice cream they offer, and gobbled it up. This weekend is important for me. I must begin to re-program my mind. Release myself from old habits, thoughts, limitations and prepare for a new adventure. Visualize what I want to become in my new role, and "reboot" my systems. It may include a trip to a day spa, and most certainly a nice dinner with close friends to celebrate. Those would be much needed distractions. But in the background, will be a mental de-fragmentation of sorts. I really need it.

FYI, if you are just catching up, here is the background to all these work changes:
The News...Part I
The News...Part II

-Rick Rockhill

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Things That Matter To Me

These past few weeks I've had a lot of things going on that have occupied my time and thoughts. All good stuff, but I've just been preoccupied with work and career transitions. John and I are grateful to have pets in our lives, they really make things better in every way. Just as an example, the other day I was out running errands, busy with all kinds of trivial things. I was on the go with my head down, not taking the time to smell the proverbial roses, That is, until I returned home and was confronted by Sheldon and Duncan. There they stood, side by side, peering through the side gate- tails wagging in full swing. It was at that precise moment when I was reminded how great these dogs are and how much they mean to me. Poodles are especially smart creatures, experience emotions and "connect" with people in a unique manner. They were so happy to see me return home, it melted my heart. I've said this many times here- dogs make life better. It occurred to me that I've neglected the poodles lately being busy thinking about work. Despite this, dogs love you unconditionally and are always happy to see you. I remembered just how much Sheldon and Duncan mean to me. They are an important part of our family.

above: Here are Sheldon and Duncan relaxing on the sofa next to each other. I'm grateful to have been reminded about the Things That Matter To Me, like my two poodles. What matters to you? What pulls you though the week?
-Rick Rockhill

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Five Feet of Fresh Snow in Palm Springs

With all the crazy rains that pummeled Southern California last week, Palm Springs definitely had its share. We hardly ever get any rain 'tall, but I do believe we received more rain in five days than we typically do in a year. Well anyway it was a lot. One nice outcome was the snowfall on the lovely mountains that frame our Coachella Valley. This view at the top left is the San Jacinto Mountain, just over 10,000 feet elevation. They received five feet of fresh snow during last week's storms. The photo doesn't do it justice, as I have an el-cheapo camera so my sincerest apologies.

above: here is a view of the other mountains, called "San Bernadino" where the highest peak is 11,500 feet.

above: I don't think this photo above did what I intended. Its sort of a pan-o-ramic view of the San Bernadino mountains. I intended to show you how they go on and on... Its part of why I love living here in our desert. Click on it to biggify.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tram
The following photos from here on are from The Desert Sun website. This first one is of the tram car at the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. It goes up to the peak of the San Jacinto mountain. It is the largest rotating tram car in the world, and offers the best views of Palm Springs. You can see how stormy it was here in this photo. I wish I had been able to go up for a tram ride during the storm!

above: fresh snow at San Jacinto Park, (top of mountain). So beautiful- who would have thought this was Palm Springs?

above: a veritable Winter Wonderland. Dean Martin would have burst into song, what was it, "Marshmallow World" I believe?

above: one final view of the snow at San Jacinto Park at the top of the tram. See, Palm Springs has plenty to offer. Incidentally, back down on the floor of the desert where I live, it will be 65 degrees today. Hope you enjoyed these photos of our natural beauty here in Palm Springs. Come for a visit, its fantastic.
-Rick Rockhill

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Friends with Benefits", as they say

One of the nice things about having a few rich friends is that there are private jets in the mix. Living in Palm Springs we have our share of these- whether they are privately owned, jet-share, or just rent-a-jet for a trip, it still amounts to being on a plane with only people you know and like. Perhaps the best part is being able to just take off when you want- no rushing to the airport, waiting for long security lines, taking your shoes off to be screened, etc. It's just easy. You drive up to the airport, on the tarmac, someone walks up to your car, drives it away for you and you walk up onto the plane. Individual super-comfy leather seats, stocked with every amenity one could want. Gourmet food. Beverages served in real crystal glasses. Ahhh. Such bliss. Having friends who fly in their own jet is no fun. That is, of course until they invite you to join them, then its great. I suppose that's what they mean by the expression of "friends with benefits". I sometimes wonder if I could afford to have one if I would. Not sure, oh heck what am I saying, of course I would. What about you, would you? If not that, what other extravagance would you indulge in? Even in a rough economy, it's fun to dream a bit, isn't it?
-Rick Rockhill

Friday, January 22, 2010

Philatelic Friday: Cowboys of the Silver Screen

It's been AGES since I've had a Philatelic Friday post. I've moved away from my thematic posts by day because they became a bit tiresome for me. Well that plus I was so busy with work I scarcely had time to sleep never mind maintain the blog at that level. I was inspired however by some fresh news from the US Post Office that they would be issuing a new series of four collectible stamps called Cowboys of the Silver Screen. This was right up my alley because former Palm Springs residents Gene Autry and Roy Rogers will be part of a four- stamp set honoring these legendary cowboys of the silver screen. The other two are William S. Hart, and Tom Mix. (The stamps go on sale April 17th).

You may recall from prior posts that Gene Autry rose to fame after being discovered by Will Rogers, who was already a strong force in Palm Springs.
Gene Autry first came to Palm Springs to take breaks from filming movies, then in 1940 purchased his first Palm Springs home. In 1961, Gene Autry bought a Holiday Inn hotel that went on (years later) to become the trendy Parker Meridian today. Gene Autry also owned what is now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Major League Baseball team- at the time they were called the California Angels. For over 30 years the Angels held their Spring training in Palm Springs and were a local favorite. Doubtless you recall, back on November 19th I wrote a post about the new bronze statue of Gene Autry that was dedicated here in his honor in Palm Springs, in fact on a road called Gene Autry Trail.
Autry became a very wealthy man, and later the nonprofit Gene Autry Foundation was established and is now run by his widow, Jackie Autry. To date it has donated more than $280 million to various charities in the Palm Springs area. So the legend of Gene Autry continues. I always loved Gene Autry, so I'm thrilled he will have his own postage stamp! Yippee ki yay!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The News....Part II

A few days ago I wrote a post entitled The News...Part I. Today is the follow up: "The News...Part II", rather appropriately entitled, don't you think? Anyway, now for the rest of the story, as they say. News of my departure from Pet Co spread quickly within the pet industry. My phone rang all weekend long with calls from a variety of well-wishers, and some folks just curious about the rumor of me leaving. I can honestly say that over the past 25 years of my retail career, I've enjoyed working in the pet industry the most. Although, I really do miss the confectionery (chocolate) industry a great deal, but let's face it, having a dog or cat in your life is far more fulfilling than a box of chocolates. As I mentioned in Part I, the nifty part of this transition is that although I am changing employers, I will remain part of the pet industry- in particular the pet specialty industry. Pet specialty stores are the best place to buy food and stuff for your pet, so remember that the next time you need something for your kitty cat or dog. Don't be fooled by those slick brands in the grocery store or giant mart store, they don't carry foods that offer the best nutrition. Speaking of nutrition, perhaps its time I share the news of where I am headed. I am excited to share that I will be working for Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods. Now if you followed my posts about the Rose Parade, you may recall that Natural Balance is the company who had the cool float with the snowboarding bulldogs. Don't worry, I won't turn my personal blog into a advertisement for Natural Balance. But I won't be shy about it either. Honestly there are a lot of really great quality natural pet foods, if you ever want my personal opinion for your pet's diet send me an e-mail. I know just about every brand there is, and I'll give you my objective opinion. I'm excited about going to work for Natural Balance. I'm excited to carry on the mission of promoting the highest quality natural foods for dogs and cats. You may have noticed that I am passionate about the topic of feeding pets the best food possible. I sincerely believe that being passionate about what you do makes all the difference. That is my big lesson learned over the past 25 years of my career. Whatever you do- be sure you LOVE IT. It has made all the difference for me. Demonstrate your passion everyday and smile. It's amazing how your energy, passion and positive attitude will affect and influence others. But here is the real secret: it can change the course of events in your own life. You may recall from The News...Part I that I mentioned reading The Mental Equivalent by Emmet Fox. I learned that when you think positive thoughts and exude positive energy, it will bring good luck and good karma. I hope you can apply these little tips to your life.
-Rick Rockhill

Sunday, January 17, 2010

World Premiere of "Expecting Mary" at the Palm Springs Film Fest

Last nightI attended the world premiere screening of the new film "Expecting Mary", featured at the Palm Springs International Film Fest. Expecting Mary is an independent film with close ties to Palm Springs. Written and directed by Dan Gordon, the Producer was Kim Waltrip and the Executive Producer was Jim Casey, both residents of Palm Springs. Expecting Mary is the story of a young well-to do girl who finds herself pregnant and runs away from him. While hitch-hiking across country, she ends up in a small New Mexico town, in a downtrodden trailer park for a few days. There, in this unlikely place she learns the real meaning of family, friends, and love. It is a wonderful story with lots of genuine laughs, emotional and touching moments and a strong story line. An incredible cast brings the story to life. Linda Gray plays Darnella, a sort of washed up Vegas showgirl, Cloris Leachman is hilarious as Annie, an aged neighbor in the trailer park who raises and cares for pigs. Olesya Rulin (of High School Musical fame) plays young Mary, Elliot Gould is a polka-loving truck driver, Cybill Shepherd is the snobby mother of Mary, Della Reese is the owner of the dumpy trailer park and is hysterical. Lainie Kazan plays Lillian Littlefeather, the last of an Indian tribe who owns a tiny casino, Gene Simmons is Mary's aging rock-star father and Fred Willard is a has-been Vegas agent whose clients are all of the by-gone era. There is a really hilarious scene when a crazed Cybill Shepherd arrives at a small local airport and interacts with the baggage handler, gate agent, and rental car clerk (all the same person, but just changes a hat or jacket). It was a very well done scene with perfect comedic timing. Several cast members were on hand for the premiere, including Linda Gray, Cloris Leachman, Olesya Rulin and Teresa Ganzel (see photo above).

above: at the after party, I had a chance to spend some time with Olesya and catch up on things. At just 23 years old, she is very sweet and developing solid skills as an actress. For those of you who may not know Olesya, she is a Russian born actress best known for her role in the first three High School Musical films as Kelsi Nielsen, along with
Zac Effron,Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale.

above: the official movie poster from Expecting Mary. This is a scene where Darnella (Linda Gray) is out walking a little pig who lives in the trailer park. In full disclosure, imagine my surprise when at the end of the film, as the credits were rolling, I saw my name listed, as thanks from the Producers. Such a sweet gesture (thanks Kim and Jim). My contribution was a connection to get one of the stars to sign on for the film, but I was happy to do so. Anyway, mark this film down as one to watch- it will be a gem of a film in 2010. Not sure of the official release date yet, but I"ll keep you posted when I hear more.
-Rick Rockhill

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The News....Part I

Over the past few weeks or so I've shared a series of somewhat nebulous and cryptic posts with a broad theme of change. They were, in fact my way of dealing with a change in my life I initiated that I was not yet at liberty to disclose. I can now share the news that I decided to end my career at Pet Co to pursue an opportunity elsewhere. Long time readers may recall that I've been with my company for over 13 years- a long time by any standards. I've had a fantastic run with my company and appreciate the investments they have made in my development over the past 13 years. Believe me, this is not a change I took lightly. The circumstances which brought this new opportunity were quite unexpected and sudden. Laws of nature say every action has a reaction, and in this case it couldn't be more true. When I realized it I knew I had to act quickly. It really was a matter of "all the stars aligning" at a precise moment.

Throughout my life I have always trusted my instinct. I am blessed to be guided by a higher power- maybe what some call a guardian angel, but I have never questioned it- I accept it and allow the events to unfold. Without being overly dramatic, this is a major change not only for me, but for my employer as well. You see, I've been a very public "face" of the firm for many years- something of a subject matter expert with broad perspective of the industry and a walking Rolodex.
Yesterday the news of my departure from work was announced internally. It was a complete shock and surprise to many. As the news spread throughout the organization I received a few hundred well-wishing e-mails from colleagues during the course of the day, which was a pleasant surprise.

I do not believe in coincidences. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Early on when the chain of events unfolded that brought about the possibility of this new career, I saw a friend of mine who is a great listener. He sensed my mind was heavy with thought and conflict. He handed me a copy of The Mental Equivalent, by Emmet Fox- a fascinating document about the power of positive thinking. From it, I learned the importance of making up one's mind about what you do want, and completely eliminating all thoughts of what will hold you back, or don't want to happen. By doing so, the positive energy would help make it happen. I did just that. I used a dash of common sense, a dash of dreams with a dash of good business sense and set the events in motion. The rest just unfolded naturally.

Looking back I am amazed at the timing of it all. It's cool that my friend gave me a book which turned out to be just what I needed to sort everything out and get my head around this matter. I don't think it was mere coincidence that I saw my friend on that day, and that he happened to have a book handy, or that he happened to think it would help me. I believe the timing of seeing that friend and the book were almost "sent" to me. Of course I had free choice to ignore it, not read the book, or not choose to even follow what the author wrote. So you see why looking back, I feel there was a set of truly amazing occurrences that all happened at precisely the right time. I never questioned it, I accepted it. Sometime next week I'll share more details. All I can share at the moment is that I shall continue to work within the pet industry and look forward to continuing my passions about improving the health of dogs and cats.

Now here's another amazing element: Last summer a friend of mine who reads numerology predicted this change, although I had completely forgotten about it. She described the end of a "very long cycle" and pointed to the December/January time frame when something big would change and it would be karmic. I'll leave out the rest of what she said, but it was quite positive.

So I'll leave it at that. For those of you who have sent e-mails or left comments trying to decipher the last weeks of cryptic posts, THANK YOU for your concern. I am happy to report that all is quite well. I am quite sure this is destiny following its natural course. More to come on this next week, in The News Part II.
-Rick Rockhill

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An Evening With Miss Carol Channing

I'm so excited to share this post with you today. Last night I had the pleasure of attending an intimate dinner party with the Broadway legend Miss Carol Channing. She and her husband live right here in our desert, but this evening was a special opportunity to spend an evening with Miss Channing. It was part of the speaker series at Melvyn's restaurant, my favorite hot spot in Palm Springs. Before dinner, Carol socialized with dinner guests, making small talk and cracking jokes with us individually. She has such a great personality and is very down to earth. You may be surprised to learn that she appeared in 5,000 Broadway stage performances in her career. Carol Channing has earned three Tony Awards, a Lifetime Achievement award, a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination too. Miss Channing is probably best known for originating the Broadway the musical productions of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as the ditsy bombshell Lorelei Lee, and in Hello Dolly as the matchmaking widow Dolly Gallagher Levi. She has also received an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts by California State University and works tirelessly today to raise money for schools to provide arts programs to children. On January 31st she turns 89 years old, yet she is full of life and spry as can be.

above: a publicity photo from her last book: "Just Lucky I Guess, a biography of Sorts"

above: Miss Channing stands next to her husband Harry Kulijian, as he speaks about her work to help increase Arts programs at schools in California.

above: I asked Carol to perform her famous comedy sketch of "Cecilia Sisson" a hilarious routine for which she is famous. She had the room in stitches and fits of laughter. Carol still speaks with her signature style, raspy-voiced silly, at times dithering routine where she searches for words, stammers and pokes fun at herself. It's been a classic part of her persona and still holds true today. She is truly one of a kind.

above: Carol sang a few songs, but it was her rendition of "Hello Dolly" that had the room thrilled and singing along. I last saw Carol in concert here in Palm Springs nearly three years ago at the McCallum Theatre, with Debbie Reynolds (Carol stole the show that night).

above: this is one of my favorite acts she performs- the Cecilia Sisson bit I mentioned earlier. Her comedy and timing is spot-on.

above: It was really great to have the opportunity to spend time with Carol and chat directly with her for so long. She is a true living legend in the entertainment industry, and I'm honored to have shared a meal with her. Oh by the way, Carol will be receiving a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in a few months. I'll be sure to report on that right here.
-Rick Rockhill

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Adventures of Sheldon & Duncan: The Cracker Calamity

The past few days I've been quite busy entertaining at home. Nothing huge, but a few nights in a row I hosted wine and cheese type thingies for friends and business associates. Needless to say I went through the house each day cleaned, tidied up and made sure everything was immaculate. After Friday's reception, I wrapped up the remaining cheeses, veggies and placed them back in the refrigerator. The miscellaneous crackers seemed best in a gallon zip lock bag, to keep them fresh for the next night when I was expecting another group of folks for wine and cheese once again. Saturday afternoon I ran a few errands-taking me out of the house for an hour or two at most. When I returned home I discovered what shall henceforth be known as The Cracker Calamity. No doubt you recall other such adventures, such as The Spanish Moss Incident, The Paper Towel Massacre, The Hapless Happenstance, or even The Mud Bath Muddle.

The poodles were trying to greet me, bouncing all over the place- that is until I gazed upon the sofa, which was covered with crumbs of crackers. It seems that I forgot to "poodle proof" the kitchen before I left, and one of them managed to pull the gallon zip lock bag of crackers off the counter and proceeded to shred the bag to get to the crackers. I yelled loudly at Sheldon and Duncan as I stood in front of the sofa. They knew they were in trouble, and sheepishly walked over to the sofa with their heads hung low. I spoke loudly and firmly, addressing them with the rhetorical question: "WHO DID THIS?". Without missing a beat, Duncan stepped forward and sat down in front of the sofa and looked up at me. Sheldon stayed far behind his younger brother. I could almost hear Sheldon thinking "This one is all yours Duncan, don't get me involved". Owen, the kitty sat even further away, and he was thinking: "I told you, I told you not to touch those crackers." As I inspected the shredded plastic bag, I realized most of the crackers were still in the bag. I guess they didn't care for the crackers...of course they must have been dry and flavorless to the poodles!

above: its difficult to see it in this photo, but there were cracker crumbs all over the floor as well..

above: Duncan and Sheldon stared at the evil vacuum cleaner as it whirred and hummed. Owen remained safely under the bar stool where errant machines with suction could do no harm to furry little kitties. In not time at all, The Cracker Calamity of 2010 was but a distant memory.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Palm Springs Film Fest Awards Gala

The 21st Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off this past week. I'm a huge film buff, and especially enjoy independent films that rely on film festivals to be seen and gain awareness. The black tie Awards Gala is a major event that attracts tons of media and paparazzi, along with thousands of fans all looking to catch a glimpse of their favorite star. The film festival itself has grown to one of the largest in the world, with hundreds of films from around the world being screened on 15 screens in Palm Springs over the span of the festival. I always enjoy attending the festival and the Awards Gala. I've been quite busy this past week so I'm posting these photos later than I had planned, but I hope you still enjoy them.
The Red Carpet Arrivals

above: Actress Eva La Rue outside the Palm Springs Convention Center

above: Eva La Rue arrives on the red carpet

above: The throngs of media and papparazzi go wild as Mariah Carey arrives on the red carpet

above: before the event, Mariah Carey was all smiles and still sober...

above: Jeremy Renner

above: The great Helen Mirren
The Awards Gala

above: Inside the convention center, the room was filled with tables illuminated by glowing centerpieces

above: close up of the centerpieces, the flowers were really beautiful.

above: two kinds of desserts: a chocolate souffle

above: ...and a white chocolate mousse
The Awards Ceremony
Mary Hart, of Entertainment Tonight was the the master of ceremonies once again. She lives here in Palm Springs and brings a touch of glamor to the night. My photo of her didn't come out too well so I'm not posting it. I was fortunate to be the guest of a friend whose table was right up front, so I was able to get mostly pretty good photos as each person was on stage.

above: Anna Kendrick receives the Rising Star Award for her performance in "Up in the Air" with George Clooney.

above: Helen Mirren receives the Career Achievement Award, well deserved in my opinion!

above: Clint Eastwood speaks at the awards gala

above: Jeff Bridges accepts the Desert Palm Achievement Award in recognition of his 28 year screen career. He has been in a surprisingly large number of films.

above: Jeremy Renner receives the Breakthrough Performance Award for his role in The Hurt Locker. He was a really nice guy.

above: French actress accepts the Desert Palm Achievement Award.

above: Michelle Pfeiffer was on hand to present the award to her friend Jeff Bridges.

above: The great Morgan Freeman accepts the Career Achievement Award. His role in Invictus was incredible.

above: Sean Penn speaks about the Awards Gala

above: Songstress and newcomer actress gives her now famous acceptance speech for the Breakthrough Performance Award for her tiny role in Precious. If you have not seen it yet, here is the You Tube video of her...


This blog is about life experiences & observations and stuff I am interested in. It is simply a side hobby and creative outlet; generally, with a tongue-in-cheek tone. I don't take it too seriously, nor should you. I do not profess to represent every point of view. Nothing on this site is a paid post.

It is for entertainment purposes only it, so just lighten up and just enjoy it. Life is short, live in the moment.

As the author, thoughts/views have no affiliation to my clients, business colleagues or my company.

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