Thursday, August 30, 2012

September is National Service Dog Month

For the past several years I've considered it a privilege to work with and help raise money for non-profit guide dog organizations across the US. 

Right here in Palm Springs, the Guide Dogs of the Desert are a local organization that really helps change lives for the blind and visually impaired. It takes 2 years and $40,000 to train a single guide dog, which is given at no charge to a visually impaired person. My employer, Natural Balance Pet Foods has been a big supporter of guide dog programs for many years. Once again we are partnering with Petco to help with another fundraiser. 

This year, we've expanded it to National Service Dog Month. There are many types of service dogs; and this September we are highlighting Guide Dogs and Military Working Dogs. Our co-founder Dick Van Patten is passionate about helping non-profit animal organizations, so this comes naturally to our company. When we learned about a new National Monument to honor Military Working Dogs, we wanted to help raise money to get the monument built. Part of the funds raised during Service Dog Month will help fund the monument.

This is the first time in history that an animal is being elevated to National Monument status. Approved by Congress and signed by the President, the challenge now is to raise private funds to get the monument built. Check out this video message from Dick Van Patten and Jimmy Van Patten about National Service Dog Month:

I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Washington, DC to go to Congress and help with this project. I met with US Congressman Walter Jones (NC), who sponsored this project in Congress.
John Burnam, Congressman Walter Jones and Rick Rockhill
I'm so honored to be associated with this project, it makes me feel proud to work for Natural Balance Pet Foods. From September 2nd through September 22nd, you can go to any Petco store nationwide and donate at the register to help support National Service Dog Month. 

This September, please consider making a donation at your local Petco to help support and honor Service Dogs. Guide Dogs and Military Working Dogs deserve our support!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Colors of Singapore

I'm fortunate that I am able to travel the world so often. I've been known to fly to Paris for dinner, or London just to catch a show. In addition, my work takes me all over the United States and around the world regularly. I've written about my fascination with Asia many times over the years here. In particular, Singapore continues to hold my interest for a variety of reasons. I have a good friend who lives in Singapore and had a baby not long ago. Sure it's a long flight...but I don't mind the trip to Asia. After a long sleepy flight, one of the things that I enjoy most about Asia-- and Singapore in particular are the vibrant colors. Architecture, flowers and greenery are so lush in that part of the world. Living in the California desert, our terrain is rather brown, so the contrast of the Asian climates can be quite intense. Even this simple footbridge, for example--is so colorful. It is just one example of why I enjoy visiting Singapore. So even after a long flight home and a groggy first day back to work, the colors of Singapore are burned in my mind's eye.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happiness is Having a Poodle

A few years ago when a dear friend recommended a Standard Poodle as a great pet, my initial reaction was to giggle. I mean, really, a poodle? Guys don't have poodles, do they? Wow did I have a lot to learn. Standard Poodles are great dogs. Unbelievable athletes, smart, funny, great personalities, easy to train, excellent family dogs and they LOVE to be with people as much as other dogs. Sheldon in particular bonded with me. He has become my best bud. We spend lots of time together...he comes to work with me, sits by the pool when I do my laps, and pretty much follows me wherever I go. You might recall that Sheldon came along on the road trip to Salt Lake City a few months ago too. I love dogs anyway...and Sheldon has become a great canine pal. Sometimes I think he really understands what I'm saying...he has the all-knowing look. Call me crazy, but I think I'm the lucky one to have such a great dog in my life. Happiness is having a (standard) poodle in your life.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hit and Run...the Movie

Thursday night I attended the Palm Springs premiere of a new movie called 'Hit and Run'. It's a fun laugh out loud action/adventure romantic comedy about a guy (Dax Shepard) living in a remote small town under witness protection with his hot chick girlfriend (Kristen Bell). When she gets the dream job opportunity of her career, she decides to go to LA for the interview. Although her boyfriend wants to take her, he risks leaving his life of obscurity to head back to a place of danger. Together they embark on the road trip, which quickly becomes an action-packed journey. Things get tricky when the bad guys (led by Bradley Cooper) catch up with the young couple and try avenge the past. Hit and Run effortlessly blends action, romance and comedic elements with some truly funny supporting characters; Tom Arnold plays a bumbling misfit Federal Marshall who does an excellent job with physical comedy that isn't often seen in movies anymore. Jess Rowland plays a local cop whose sex drive antics end up helping him save the day as an unlikely sub-plot hero. Kristin Chenoweth is a pill-popping, straight-talking sexy boss to Bell that delivers big laughs and steals the scenes in a big way. Michael Rosenbaum plays "Gil" the crazed ex-boyfriend who just can't let go.

The film is appropriately rated R for strong language (lots of it) and brief nudity, a bit of violence and a few guns firing, but nothing too harsh. Interestingly, Hit and Run has a refreshing moral compass, weaving several messages through the action and comedy. Hit and Run is rollicking good fun. Car buffs will especially enjoy the chase scenes and engine talk. It is the perfect end-of-summer movie; its good old-fashioned fun, with an easy story that holds your attention and delivers enough laughs to make the ticket price well worth it.

Being the Palm Springs Savant, and having my own ties to the entertainment industry, I'm pleased to share that 'Hit and Run' is yet another major motion picture with a Palm Springs connection. After the premiere, I chatted with Executive Producer Jim Casey and Producer Kim Waltrip, of Palm Springs based Kim and Jim Productions. They both enjoyed working on this project--which filmed in just 28 days. Kim described the production as fun but with "lots of dust" which I understood when I saw the awesome car chase scenes. Hit and Run is written and co-directed by its star Dax Shepard. It is great to see young producers who live here in our fair desert community creating such a broad range of entertainment genres. Hit and Run is sure to garner the affection of its target audience. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter @HitandRunMovie..tell your friends what you liked best about Hit and Run when you see it.

If you are looking for a fun R-rated movie, check out Hit and Run, it will leave you laughing out loud in all the right places.

Watch the trailer here:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Take the Time

I'll assume you are about as busy as I am. The days-weeks-months-years-decades just seem to fly by. It seems like only yesterday I was 30. Heck it seems like yesterday when I turned 40. Alas, time has a way of escaping us all. Indeed. I often quote Ernest Hemingway who said: "Time is the least thing we have". Whether you are busy raising kids, starting a business, singing in a band, waiting tables, enjoying retirement, searching for a job, or running a mega corporation, time slips away from all of us. It is the great equalizer. So why is it so difficult for us to slow down and appreciate things to live in the moment? My father died when I was quite young. If I learned nothing else from his death, it was the importance of living life to the fullest and appreciating every second that we are alive. That's why I tend to have a certain "joie de vivre". Its why I live in Palm Springs too, I love it here.

Even something small like treating oneself to that glass of champagne once in awhile. What are you waiting for? Go ahead, smile. Have a glass and let the bubbles tickle your nose. Whatever your equivalent to the glass of champagne may be, go for it. The point is, give yourself permission once in awhile to live. If you wait too long, you could be dead. And you wouldn't want that to happen now would you?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Learning How to Make Arita Pottery

I would hardly consider myself a craftsman. I'm not especially creative or artistic either. However during a recent visit to Japan a colleague brought me to the town of Arita, located in the Nishimatsuura district, Saga Prefecture of Japan. Arita is known for producing Arita porcelain, a traditional handicraft art for over 400 years. Thus, pottery and porcelain from this area is not only very famous but highly valued. It was a rainy Sunday, so we explored the town of Arita in detail. While there I had the opportunity to meet a porcelain master who gave me a lesson in making pottery. 
I watched the pottery master as closely as I seemed fairly simple, I thought. It didn't help that he only spoke Japanese and I didn't. Not one to shy away from a challenge I sat down at the pottery wheel. He motioned for me to wet my hands in the basin. I placed my hands around the base of clay, and put my foot on the pedal to activate the wheel...
...soon a form began to take shape before my eyes. I was fascinated by the process of how it worked. My hands nervously slid inside the cone that had formed. The master made hand motions to explain what I should be doing. He was speaking but of course I couldn't understand so I relied on his hand gestures to take my cues. Soon I realized that I had clay splattered on my shirt and jeans, so they brought an apron for me.
I resumed a position at the wheel, but had lost my momentum.  The master stood and showed me how to make the rim of the shape more narrow. I wasn't even sure what I was making, it just turned into a cup. I wondered if the master was laughing inside about my poor pottery skills, but I was having fun anyway.
Soon it was time for the next lesson. I thought it might be interesting to make a rice bowl. The porcelain master seemed impressed at first, as a bowl formed quickly. Feeling over confident I tried to get fancy and squeezed the wet clay too hard, while the wheel was spinning. Soon my bowl changed before my eyes into a floppy, wobbly ribbon edged blob. I panicked. The master smiled, and leaned in with his hands and fixed it for me in no time at all.
He was exceptionally patient, and very helpful. Despite the fact that neither of understood the verbal language we spoke, we seemed to communicate enough that I could follow his direction. I learned about the right speed of the wheel, the importance of keeping your hands very wet, and how the pressure of your fingers and palms can create various shapes. It was really quite interesting actually.
By the time I finished my lesson, I had created these items: a dish, bowl, cup and vase. When I saw them all together I was surprised at what I had created. I breathed a sigh of relief that I wasn't a total failure at the pottery wheel, and that the porcelain master didn't throw me out for making such a mess.
Then it was over to the painting table area. The master wanted me to try my hand at painting something. He brought a small plain dish that had been made previously. From the same type of paint used 400 years ago, I used a very fine-tipped artist brush to create a design on the dish. I decided to paint a ship design. As mentioned at the beginning of this post I am hardly an artist but I did my best with this design.
Here is the finished design I painted myself...a ship in the sea. As you will notice the paint is black on a white dish. When I left the master explained they would put all my pottery items in the kiln to properly dry. My dish would be glazed and dried as well, and when it was finished the black paint would appear blue when totally dry. In approximately 30 days it should all be complete. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished items. When they arrive I'll take photos and post them on this blog. Without a doubt it was a gratifying and rewarding experience; not to mention a huge honor to be taught Arita style pottery from local porcelain master. It was an experience I shall never forget.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Few Views of Korea

Having just returned from a few weeks in the Orient on business, I'm still reflecting on all the places I visited with my business associates. I was so busy I barely had time to process it all, but luckily I had my iPhone with me so I snapped lots of photos. I thought I'd share a few here. All of these are from an area in the very south of South Korea called Gyeongju, which is quite old and rich in history. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.


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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