Friday, September 30, 2011

Barkworld Expo 'Petworking' Social Media Conference

This weekend I'm attending  'Barkworld', a national social media conference for the pet industry. It includes pet bloggers, pet enthusiasts, pet product companies, retailers, etc. You may recall when I attended last year ('cool dogs' post too). I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and made some wonderful connections which I still maintain. Working for Natural Balance, it made sense for me to attend, which I was happy to do with my friends from petco who were diamond sponsors of this 'petworking' social media conference.
The conference includes a range of activities, including events, presentations, guest speakers, panel discussions, exhibits, and fabulous networking opportunities for anyone interested in joining the fun fray of the social media space for pets and people who love them.

A special guest speaker was the popular Victoria Stilwell, the dog trainer whose show 'It's Me or the Dog' on Animal Planet is an enormous hit in the US and in her native UK. She gave an excellent, passionate presentation that held the attention of the entire audience. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to chat with Ms Stilwell and gush over her 'Positively' reinforcement dog training methods.
As you know, I'm never one to shy away from celebrities! I must say, she was lovely to speak with and very down to earth. She was also signing copies of her book 'It's Me or The Dog' which is a marvelous read, if you are looking for some easy tips on dog training. 
Here are a few quick photos I took from Barkworld:
A neat ice sculpture of a fire huh?
One of the interesting things about attending Barkworld is the range of people who attend. Everything from 'mommy bloggers', to social networking professionals, to major corporations to small business owners, it truly attracts diversity, but most everyone has one thing in common; we all LOVE pets, which makes it easy to strike up conversations with folks.
Doggie Day Care at Barkworld. Should have brought Sheldon
I've been blogging since 2006, and active on Twitter since 2008 under the Twitter name: @RickRockhill. However a few weeks ago I finally created a Twitter account for Sheldon, called @SheldonGryffin and tweet in his voice as well as under my own Twitter account. (His full name is Sheldon Gryffindor, hence the Twitter name). Anyway, it is not unusual for people in the social 'petworking' space to Tweet in the voice of their pet. It seemed crazy to me a year ago, but now I manage two Twitter accounts (well maybe I am crazy, who knows).
Missing my poodles, I found this one to pet for love!
Some of you have multiple blogs- I cam barely maintain The Palm Springs Savant regularly but I do still love it.  

If you are on Twitter, consider following me @RickRockhill and of course @SheldonGryffin as well. We'd both appreciate it. And if you are at Barkworld and reading this post, I hope to meet you this weekend, let's 'Tweet Up'.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Great Night at Johnny Costa's Ristorante

Guide Dogs of the Desert volunteers at Johnny Costa's
Tuesday night it was my pleasure to have dinner at the best Italian restaurant in Palm Springs: Johnny Costa's Ristorante. Many of you know I am a bit of a foodie, and enjoy a good meal. I dine out regularly and have my local favorites here in the desert. I've liked Johnny Costa's for years because it is a family owned-and-operated restaurant with great food. But this night was even more special to me; Johnny Costa's held a fundraiser to benefit National Guide Dog Month, since one of the beneficiaries is the Palm Springs based Guide Dogs of the Desert. Johnny Costa's donated 15% of the in-dining check for every guest on Tuesday evening, which was very generous. Earlier in the day I was a guest on local radio station KNEWS FM 94.3 on the Lee Rayburn show to talk about the guide dog benefit at Johnny Costa's. It was great to see the community support for local events and organizations.

Regular readers know that I've been involved in fundraising for National Guide Dog Month through my employer, Natural Balance, so I was especially happy to see a local Palm Springs business giving back to our community. During the evening, several guide dog users and volunteers were on hand with guide dogs to give locals the opportunity to learn more about what it takes to train a guide dog. 

While I was eating, I noticed a blind woman and her guide dog arrived for dinner; her guide dog brought her right to her table, and sat quietly at her feet. I wondered how she would handle the menu and decide what to eat, knowing that she was blind. I learned from a waiter that earlier in the day she had visited the restaurant's website and used some special software that read the menu to her, so she had made her choice for dinner before she arrived at the restaurant, isn't that cool?

Whether you live locally here in the Palm Springs area, or plan to visit on vacation, be sure to check out Johnny Costa's, they have delicious food and are really nice people too! Incidentally, Johnny Costa himself was a personal chef to Frank Sinatra, so the restaurant has some very cool history and ties to our community here. 

And a special thanks to Vince at Johnny Costa's Ristorante for his generosity and support for the Guide Dogs of the Desert and National Guide Dog Month.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One Last Plea for Guide Dogs...Won't You Help?

Dear Friends,

I am writing today to ask for your help. We're almost at the end of National Guide Dog Month, and
we’re still shy of our goal to raise $1 million. We need your help to make any donation online before September 30th. You can donate online right now at

A single guide dog costs more than $40,000 and takes two years to train. There is no government funding for guide dogs, so they rely on private donations to keep the programs going.
Every seven minutes someone in America becomes blind or visually impaired, so the need is great; won’t you help with a donation in any amount?

Please consider making a donation online before September 30th at it is quick and easy to donate.

Thanks in advance for your support for National Guide Dog Month. Feel free to share this post with anyone else you know, we need to get the word out to hit our million dollar fundraising goal these last few days.

Best Regards,

If you would like more information about the cause:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Our Fundraising Drive Needs Help....

Regular readers know that I try to help raise money for non-profit accredited guide dog schools in the USA. September is National Guide Dog Month, and we're trying to raise $1 million. The facts on blindness are startling-- every 7 seconds someone in America goes blind or visually impaired. Guide Dogs truly help provide independence to the blind, and are given to blind people for FREE. There is no government funding for guide dog schools, they solely rely on private donations. Here is where you come in. Our fundraising drive this month is going just OK. We're behind in our goal to reach $1 million this month. 

So I'm asking you to consider doing a post on your own blog, Facebook or Twitter to get the word out. And if there is any way you can donate even a few dollars, it would really make a difference. You can find loads of information about the cause from a bunch of places online, such as Wikipedia, from my employer's website, Natural Balance, or through the online donation page.
AND, if you donate $20 online, you even get this super cute plush guide dog, isn't that awesome? Well anyway thanks for anything you can do, we need some help raising money this year. 

To donate NOW, click here, its FAST AND EASY. (special thanks to the petco foundation a registered a 501(c)(3) animal charity who is helping collect and disperse 100% of funds we raise).

Monday, September 5, 2011

It Was a Very Good Labor Day

Being of a certain age, some holidays just don't have as much meaning as they once did. Don't get me wrong, I respect the reason and history of Labor Day, but these days it is just another day. As a kid, it was an important time marker. Growing up in New England, it signaled the last day of the beach season. Back in those days, it meant school started the day after. It was also the last day to stay up late for a few months. Now well into my adult life, I barely notice Labor Day has even arrived. 

Despite this, I was bound and determined to enjoy Labor Day this year. I spent a goodly part of the day sitting poolside with my laptop, writing. For me, that was a great way to spend a holiday. I splurged this morning and put cream and brown cane sugar in my coffee (normally I take it black). Mmmm that coffee sure tasted delicious. My day was off to a great start. There were some puffy clouds in the desert sky all day, but they never interfered with my patio time at all. As dusk approached I went for a nice long walk with Sheldon and Duncan. When we returned home I noticed another one of those absolutely stunning sunsets from my front courtyard. Fortunately I had my iPhone handy and was able to snap this picture above. Lovely, isn't it?
All three of us trotted to the south patio to admire more of the beautiful evening sky. The San Jacinto mountains were "painted" in orange and red hues. I happened to glance in the pool and saw the reflection of some palm trees in the water's surface. If you look closely you can even see the same orange color on the water's surface. It was a very good Labor Day for me. How about for you?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meet 'Vegas' the Guide Dog Puppy-in-Training

I am humbled by these amazing dogs. Its an honor for me to even play a small part in helping these non-profit guide dog schools across the USA. Check out this cool video (I'm in it!) then please make a donation online:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Palm Springs Buddha

One of my favorite routines is to sit on my south patio and watch the sun rise. It is so peaceful, only the sound of an occasional bird or the palm fronds swaying in a gentle breeze. It is also my time to meditate and relax, even if it is as little as 10 to 15 minutes, it makes a real difference in the day. I especially enjoy watching how the sun's rays gradually illuminate the eastern side of the giant Buddha head statue on the patio. The photo above left gives you the idea of what I mean.
By the time the full sun is out, the Buddha takes on a different look and feel, don't you think? It has a peaceful look in the early hours, and then a majestic full energy in the full light of day. It reminds me to keep things in perspective, and to maintain that all-important balance in our lives. So 'The Palm Springs Buddha' may not be known to others, but he sure is known to me!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rick's Roadshow: Shuffling Through Shanghai, Pt 1

Rick's Roadshow from Shanghai, China continues with a few photos for you. Shanghai is one of the largest cities in China (population, not actual land size). It is situated sort of South East, on the coast and is a really beautiful modern city. In fact I was really impressed by Shanghai and look forward to returning. It has become a true global city with major brands and companies located there, from banks, retail, restaurants, tech-stuff to Starbucks too.
view of Shanghai at night from top one of the tall buildings sky deck

Shanghai has many beautifully lighted buildings along the river

I was enthralled by this building that seemed to rise forever

even the trees were lit up with green led lights

a temple in the middle of the city


I'll be back with some more cool photos from Shanghai, so stay tuned for more.


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.

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