Saturday, May 29, 2010

On the Road Again

I wouldn't quite classify this as a Rick's Roadshow, as it is more of just a weekend away to visit family. I'm in Rhode Island for the Memorial Day Weekend, to see my nieces in a dance recital. I flew into Providence quite late, it was well after 1:00 AM Saturday by the time I picked up my rental car. (My connecting flight was delayed in Washington, Dulles due to some thunderstorm activity in the South East and Mid-Atlantic I guess.) I had plenty of work to do so I was on my laptop the entire cross-country flight so it went by quickly. I'll try to snap a few photos in and around Providence this weekend. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
-Rick Rockhill

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LSS: One of those little annoyances

Have you ever suffered from LSS? LSS is the term that refers to Lazy Sock Syndrome. Symptoms are typically when a sock looses its elasticity and slides down one's ankle. Despite multiple efforts to return the sock to its intended position, it gradually slides back down. This is what is known as Lazy Sock Syndrome. It can be quite annoying and a modest inconvenience. Its one of those things that you notice all day, leaving a nagging sense and causing feelings of sloppiness, and being unkempt. There is no easy cure for Lazy Sock Syndrome- it would require an old fashioned treatment of darning socks, replacing the elastic, quite an intricate procedure. Ironically not a treatment embraced by modern society. Often we simply discard the socks or donate to a local shelter. Fortunately LSS is easily diagnosed. Socks will appear wider at the top, with a "stretched out" appearance. Upon close inspection one can detect that the sock(s) will have LSS. This morning I ignored the warning signs of LSS, in favor of a pair of socks that I've been attached to for some time. I put them on in a rush, and dashed out the door. Before I could put my foot on the gas pedal I knew it was going to be an LSS day. I picked the socks and I put my foot right in it, so to speak. It may be time to purge the sock drawer. Or perhaps channel Betsy Ross and have a sock-darning seance.
-Rick Rockhill

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Social Media Marketing on The Palm Springs Savant & Co #113

Are you interested in Social Media? Well that's the topic of today's episode of The Palm Springs Savant & Co radio show on Blog Talk Radio. Tune in live at 10:00 AM PST or listen anytime by clicking here.
Ever wondered how to be more successful in marketing your message? Social media can be a powerful tool when deployed effectively. Whether you seek to promote your business, blog, website or event, learn how to harness the magic of social media. This episode provides a solid understanding of social networks and how they work. Special guest Natalie Malaszenko will discuss the golden rules of engagement, share a few inside secrets for success and some examples of effective online social media marketing. This show packs in useful information for individuals and non-profit organizations right up to mega corporations too. The beginning of this show also includes an update on the growing privacy concerns of Facebook, and the mounting campaign for users to quit Facebook. Users concerned about their own privacy and security online should tune into this show.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pizza Talk

I don't know about you but pizza has long been one of my favorite foods. I would eat it every day if I could. Depending on the variety, its so versatile. Growing up in Rhode Island the Italian bakeries had pizza strips, which had a thick, doughy crust with lots of tomato sauce on top. If you were lucky it might also have black olives on it. When you'd pick it up, the other end of the strip would bend down from the weight of the sauce. Then when I lived in NYC, New York style pizza grew on me. You know, that super thin stuff that New Yorkers gleefully folder in half to eat. It was there that I learned to order a "pie" (ie: pizza pie). You would always call up and say: "Yeah, Gimme a a large pie, with mushrooms, pepperoni and extra cheese." Years later when I lived in Chicago it was their famous Deep Dish and stuffed pizza. Thick crunchy crust, loaded with so much stuff that a slice was equivalent to a whole pizza elsewhere. I quickly grew attached to Chicago Style pizza. Places like Giordano's, Gino's East, & Nancy's are still among my favorites. When I moved to California it was the thin crust, gourmet designer-pizzas. The kind that California Pizza Kitchen has made so famous. Suddenly bizarre ingredients on a pizza were commonplace, like BBQ sauce, cilantro, pineapple, etc. I like California thin crust pizza but my heart is still with more traditional thicker crust pizzas. I think its because I feel more fulfilled (translate: stuffed to the gills). In San Diego I grew fond of Leucadia Pizza, although it doesn't hold a candle to some of my other life long favorites. Its just decent pizza in a pinch if you know what I mean. I suppose I should mention those scary in-between years when I indulged in those quick delivery pizza joints- everything from Domino's, Little Cesar's, Pizza Hut and Papa John's. What can I say- they were cheap and fast. Well actually I always enjoyed those too, so who am I kidding anyway? When you come down to it I like pizza. I'd rather have a lousy pizza than a lousy hamburger. Here in Palm Springs we have a few pizza joints, including the venerable CPK. For thin crust I tend to go to a nifty place downtown called Matchbox, they have wood fire oven baked thin pizza topped with with interesting like sauteed cremini mushrooms, Toscano tomatoes, prosciutto, and fire roasted red peppers. When a new pizza place opened downtown called Bill's Pizza, I set out to inspect. The photo top left is from Bill's. From the moment I looked at their menu I was enticed. All their pizza is made on Sourdough crust, claiming it has a low glycemic index value. The dough is made from imported flour from Italy and made fresh daily. Caramelized onions, fresh garlic, sheeps milk feta cheese imported from France, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil called out to me from the menu list. I was in a trance- it all looked so good. The proof of the pudding, as they say is in the tasting. I could hardly wait to get home with my pizza treasure. The hot steam was escaping from the sides of the box, filling the car with delicious favors and smells of dinner to come. Sheldon was in the back seat, leaning forward to check it out, he was licking his lips frantically. Well we both were really. Anyway when we got home I tore into the pizza and was very pleased indeed. Bill's Pizza is certainly one of the best in Palm Springs. The fresh ingredients and perfectly seasoned sauce were a symphony of gourmet flavors. As The Palm Springs Savant, I felt compelled to report on this latest delicious discovery here in our desert. Bill's Pizza is worth coming to Palm Springs for, ok well maybe that's a bit of a stretch but it is pretty darn good. If I ever meet Bill himself I'll tell him as such! But now- back to the pizza commentary at large. I've never been a pizza snob, and I can't say that I "only" like one type. I have traveled the world extensively and always try pizza while in another country. As you might expect the Italians make delicious pizza, although I read somewhere that pizza didn't originate in Italy. Don't confuse me. I'd prefer to live in "Lolly Pop Lane" where I am Mayor of "Lolly Pop Land" and continue to believe pizza is indeed Italian. Imagine being in Italy and having pizza where literally everything was made fresh from the ingredients made right on the farm. I did that once- and I do mean everything was from the land. The little Italian woman had a full working farm with huge gardens; she had olive trees, tomatoes, basil, herbs, raised cows (for milk and cheese), made her own sausages, milled her own grains and flour, it was remarkable. Let me tell you, it was the best darn pizza I've every had in my life. (il più squisito!). So if you ever want a really fresh made pizza, go to the hills of Italy and find that lady's farm. Just tell her The Palm Springs Savant sent you. Or should that be "Il Savant del Palm Springs" sent you.
-Rick Rockhill

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Few Reflections on Germany

Having returned to the US, I've had some time to reflect on my most recent trip to Germany. The German people are an interesting lot- they are both congenial and friendly, yet amazingly deliberate and precise as well. They never cease to impress me with their efficiency and exactness. At times it can be a bit startling, when they respond to a request or question with a very serious "Yes of course" or "No it is not possible". Being direct and frank is in their nature, and I must admit it is rather refreshing. At least one knows where one stands. Walking about, you can't help but notice their architecture is both serious and heavy; dark at times, yet modern buildings have the smooth, sleek glass, and lines designed with incredible detail. Their food is quite good, although rich and heavy- I've no idea how everyone isn't obese over there. Between all the varieties of bratwurst sausages, potato-everything, delicious breads, traditional schnitzels, refreshing beer, and tempting sweets, it was difficult to control myself with all the options while dining. As it was Spargel season, this white asparagus delicacy was available everywhere, as steamed with Hollandaise sauce and boiled potatoes to a rich and creamy soup. Indeed, it was a gastronomic feast!

Walking through the city of Nuremberg was equally stimulating, reminders of the past (good and bad) to more contemporary elements, Germany today is thriving place with genuinely nice people who seems to like Americans. Mind you, I don't speak a word of German, but whenever approaching a stranger for something, I would always first ask "Sprecken ze English?" which I pronounced as "shhpreckken zeee Engleesh?" Typically most would respond sheepishly with "a little bit" but then carry on a completely coherent conversation with me. Most Germans seem to speak English well enough to get by, but always appreciate the little effort (or courtesy) of asking first before assuming they do speak English.


It was scenes like these, where I found Germany to be serene, relaxing and quite peaceful. Quintessential Old Europe, meets new Europe. A perfect blend for me. I look forward to returning to Deutschland again in the future, where I hope to add a few new words to my vocabulary. If anyone has a few words to suggest, I'd be grateful indeed.
-Herr Rick Rockhill

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why I Quit Facebook

This past week, while in Germany I finally had it. I was checking facebook as usual and had a friend request from some girl in Germany I had never met. I thought it was quite strange. I've also been seeing auto-postings on my behalf all over the place, such as on various news websites: "Rick Rockhill likes this, or Rick Rockhill likes that" or sharing info I posted to multiple friends of friends. Despite MULTIPLE checks of their privacy settings, it became exceedingly difficult to control all the applications the evil facebook empire has been adding as "active" without permission or review of its user base. I feel this is a gross abuse of its members and our private information. Facebook is not just a social community. All of its members are mere "currency" in a world of information. The more information users enter about themselves, the more valuable they become. Facebook can sell groups of people by their interests, likes, religious beliefs, things they "liked" etc to various groups, organizations and companies for profit- all without its users knowing. It borders on an invasion of privacy. All day long, people unknowingly surrender their private information, innocently sharing things like photos, tagging themselves, and others on where they had been. After reading the current outcry from the public and governments, I decided I had enough. I deactivated Facebook. The first day was a bit of anxiety, not checking it constantly. But by the third day I was so relieved that I had done it. Please take a close look at facebook and what you post there and how you use it.Quit facebook today!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg, Germany Part 5

Rick's Roadshow from Nuremberg Germany returns with Part 5. As you may recall I am here attending the Interzoo pet supply trade show. I'm pleased to say that our Austrian colleague brought her dog to the show every day to be in the booth with us. It has been so nice to have a dog with us! I miss seeing Sheldon and Duncan, so it is a treat to have a cute doggie to pet and snuggle with in between meetings. I wish I could tell you his actual name, but it is a German name and I couldn't repeat or spell it. Anyway, here he is, seated on someone's lap. Isn't he sweet as can be? It may sound stupid but it was so interesting watching him follow commands in German. He listened to his mom's voice and watched her very closely to obey every instruction. Such a sweet hund!

above: during several meetings, the cute doggie sat in and joined the meetings. Look closely at this photo, he is seated on his own chair, in the lower right corner. This was not staged- he participated in many meetings just like this. His head watched everyone speak, as if he followed along with great interest. I just love the pet industry!

above: One of the other vendors at the show had a group of German musicians perform at various points during the day. They were mostly kids, with an adult leader. They were really quite good too!

above: The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). I took this photo from the Hauptmarkt square.

above: The Schöne Brunnen, or "The Beautiful Fountain", located in Hauptmarkt square. It is a sixty-foot statue/sculpture fountain of gold filigree and color. It was originally built in 1385 as a cap for the Frauenkirche or Church of Our Lady. This version is a replica built in 1912, as the original one is in a museum.

above: I just liked the archway over this door way. Such detail! I hope these photos continue to show the detail and character of Nuremberg, Germany. Tomorrow I'll have one last entry for Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg, Germany. Hope to see you again!
-Rick Rockhill

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg, Germany Part 4

Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg, Germany continues with Part 4. Yesterday was a hectic day at the Interzoo trade show; my team and I were exhausted from a constant flow of international retailers and distributors flowing through the Nuremberg Messe exhibition center. After work, I set out for some dinner in the old walled city and found this wonderful restaurant corner. If you look closely you can see the nifty details on the side of the house. In the corner, tucked in the ivy lamp is a hanging rope with a hundred or so glass wine bottles. A fun place for sure.

above: this is the side of the house pictured in the top left photo. It has a nice sidewalk garden seating area.

above: tucked in the sidewalk garden area was this fun bench, complete with a German man and woman at either end. It made me want to sit there, but it was rather chilly to be seated outside.

above: I'll leave off the main course of the meal but I wanted to show this photo in particular. They served the first course on a regular plat, but inside a special paper bag, which they tore open when brought to the table. This is a fairly high end restaurant, and I had a delicious tortellini pasta. I've never seen food served this way in a fine dining restaurant, strange, but delicious.

above: after dinner I ordered a cheese plate, which was also served with slices of fresh Italian bread, drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I have really developed a taste for cheese after dinner now. Perhaps one of the things I like best about being in Germany is the food experience. Part of it is a surprise when it shows up at the table. While I usually know if something is beef, chicken or fish, often times I can't work out how it is prepared, so its always an adventure when it arrives. I'm here for a few more days so I have more fun in dining rooms yet to come! Do stay tuned and stop back when you can.
-Rick Rockhill

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg, Germany Part 3

Welcome to Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg, Germany Part 3. Yesterday was a full day at the Interzoo pet trade show in Nuremberg. I spent the whole day working with future international clients at the show. I can speak enough Italian and French to get by without insulting anyone, and my English isn't so bad either! We had a few German-speaking folks on hand so we pretty much had things well in hand all way. I must admit, I do enjoy the international aspect of my position. Natural Balance is a well respected pet food brand across the world, especially in Asia and Europe. After the show finished we went to dinner and I snapped a few photos:

above: a nifty old clock tower sort of structure.

above: this is the big abbey in the center of the old city, its so beautiful.

above: I walked past this building last night and was struck by the detail on the top, isn't it cool? Well that's all for today, I was mostly at work all day! Tomorrow I'll try to take a few photos from the Interzoo show, so do stop back again.
-Rick Rockhill

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg, Germany Part 2

Another busy day at work but not without a few interesting stops along the way. Today Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg, Germany Part 2 continues my week-long coverage here in this historic old city. Last night we had the most incredible thunder and lightning storm. The entire sky was illuminated with huge thunderbolts. I opened the blinds to enjoy the light show against the dark night sky. Much of yesterday was spent at the Messe exhibition center, working with the team to ensure our trade show booth was set up and displayed properly. After a long day, we escaped and set out to explore some of the city and find something to eat. I was surprised at how nice the weather was, as the weather forecast called for rain, but it was sunny and clear.

above: Inside the walled city, there are all sorts of interesting old structures, including this ammunition tower.

above: parts of the walled city have wooden doors like these. They add charm to it, don't you think?

above: Later we found this really old part of the city and stopped for a late lunch.

above: After a hard day at work, a cold beer was in order...

above: I had Spargle Soup (white asparagus soup), with some warm, freshly made pretzel bread. Wow, it was delicious. I also had some bratwurst and sauerkraut. It was a delicious meal! I'm really enjoying Nuremberg, its a charming place.

above: later, on the way back to my hotel I snapped this photo. Its a little blurry but I think it still conveys the charm of how this city feels at night. I hope you enjoyed today's installment of Rick's Roadshow. I'll be back again tomorrow!
-Rick Rockhill

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg Germany, Part 1

It's a new day and a new destination. Welcome to Rick's Roadshow: Nuremberg, Germany, Part 1. I say "Part 1" because I'll be here for the best part of a week attending the Interzoo Pet trade show. I started the day in Frankfurt, having flown in from Manchester, England on business. I quite like Germany, the people are exceptionally friendly, happy and genuinely like tourists. After getting situated in Nuremberg and doing a bit of requisite work, I went out on a stroll for a late lunch. As usual I had my camera to capture anything that caught my interest. Before long I found a splendid place for lunch, which consisted of a cheese and tomato sandwich with a delicious, vitamin-enriched German beer.

above: My vitamin-fortified German Beer.

above: I wrapped things up with a slice of chocolate-banana cake, with dark chocolate shavings. Wow that was delicious!
A Dinner to Remember...


above: Last night I was entertaining one of our customers and brought them to a place I enjoyed the last time I was here: Nassauer-Keller. It dates back to the 13th century and is located undergound...

above: these are the steps leading down to the restaurant. The ceiling is quite low...

above: once inside, the restaurant has a very nifty atmosphere, complete with vaulted brick ceilings, arched doorways, and a medieval German presence throughout.

above: I swear this suit of armor was watching us all dinner long...reminded me of an old Scooby Doo episode.

above: This is the main dining room. Its quite small and has an intimate feeling to it. It was a great dining experience. The food was all fresh and very delicious. We never felt rushed at all, and thoroughly enjoyed the meal and entire experience. It was German hospitality at its best! If you are ever in Nuremberg, do check out Nassauer Keller, its located on Karolomenstrase, kitty-corner from the big abbey church. Stay tuned for tomorrow, I'll have some sights from around Nuremberg to share.
-Rick Rockhill

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rick's Roadshow: Chester, England

I'm pleased to bring another installment of Rick's Roadshow: Chester, England. As this is a business trip, it is difficult to have much time for sight-seeing and personal travel. Therefore I bring my camera virtually everywhere I go, so if I'm on my way to an appointment, I snap some photos along the way! That enables me to maximize my time. At any rate I was fortunate to have some time in the city of Chester, England. Chester is located in Cheshire, due west from Manchester, just south of Liverpool, and is nearly on the border of Wales. Originally established by the Romans back in 79 AD, it was an important Roman province until the 5th century, when the Saxons took over. Chester is known for its wall perimeter, and the many medieval black and white buildings (see photo above). Its defensive wall perimeter is mainly medieval and Victorian and is one of the best preserved in Britain. Some sections of the wall date back to 120 AD. This is one old city!

above: here is somewhat of a close up of the wall entering into part of the city's shopping area. You can see the famous Eastgate clock, in honor of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, which was added in 1899.

above portion of the Dee River, with a lazy paddle boat floating downstream.

a nice combination of old arches and original medieval black and white buildings.



above: For some reason I liked the way this building is situated, with the center bit and the brick chimneys.

above: more from The Rows, Park Street and St Werburgh Street area.

above: a portion of the original defensive wall gate. Its amazing what is still standing in this wonderful town. Chester is a hidden jewel. The residential neighborhoods are very nice, and there are loads of great shops too. I'd definitely recommend a visit particularly if you enjoy history. In addition to what I mentioned above, there is a 1,000 year old cathedral, a 2,000 year old Roman Amphitheatre, the oldest racecourse in the country, and very interesting collection of Anglo-Saxon ruins. A visit to England' s countryside should include Chester and Wales; it makes for a nice weekend excursion away from London. Someday perhaps I'll cover some other favorite parts of Britain in a future Rick's Roadshow series. Tomorrow I leave the UK and head to Germany. Rick's Roadshow continues...
-Rick Rockhill

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rick's Roadshow: Bath Spa & Buckingham Palace

Rick's Roadshow continues with updates from the beautiful city of Bath, which is 95 miles southwest of London. It is an ancient city, dating back 2,000 years when the Romans lived here. Bath is the only known place in the UK with a natural hot spring still flowing continuously. It was here the Romans built the massive Spa facility- much of which still stands today, having been unearthed over many years. Today visitors can explore the site and follow the exact steps the ancient Romans did when they enjoyed the healing powers of the hot mineral waters. It is an important historical site, and is the most popular tourist attractions outside of London. I've been to Bath many times previously, but as it was John's first visit to the UK I'm showing him a few highlights of England on this brief visit.
above: the lovey River
Avon, flowing through Bath provides a calming ambiance to this city.

Above: a view from above of the
great Roman Baths, built as a temple in 60 AD in honor of the goddess Minerva. It is an impressive structure.

above: I paused for a few minutes to reflect
on the history of this great site and think about the people who enjoyed these waters over the past two thousand years.

The Roman influence of Bath can be fou
nd everywhere throughout. I love the carvings like this one above.

above: This gives you a sense o
f the architecture style in the city.

above: another photo of the B
aths, with a view of the spire of Bath Abbey in the distance.

above: a quick photo insid
e Bath Abbey, which is stunning.
Now, Back to London
No visit to London is complete in my mind without a visit to Buckingham Palace. Despite the fact that I lived in London, and have also visited the Palace on numerous occasions, it still seems exciting to me each time I return. And so, here are a few quick images of the beautiful "Buck House" as locals like to call it. Keep in mind that while this is the London residence of The Queen, it is really sort of a work residence; she actually prefers Windsor Castle or Balmoral Castle, as they are truly her "homes". However, duties of State and her responsibilities as Monarch, as ceremonial they may be, keep her in London.

above: another v
iew of The Palace, with the side gate in view.

above: anyone who has ever visite
d Buckingham Palace has taken this exact photo. The gates are truly magnificent, and captivate everyone.

above: the St James Park, that leads up to Buckingham Palace is quite relaxing with this lake.
A Spot of Afternoon Tea

after visiting the Palace, we stopped for Afternoon Tea at the fabulous and legendary Fortnum and Mason's, at the St James restaurant on the fourth floor. There are only a handful of places in London who serve tea as well as Fortnums. I also recommend The Dorchester Hotel, The Ritz or The Savoy. I couldn't take any other photos, as there was Lord seated next to us as we took our tea, and I didn't want to be an ugly American. Well that's all for today. Thanks for visiting Rick's Roadshow. The journey continues, so stay tuned.

-Rick Rockhill

Disclaimers...

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.