Saturday, December 31, 2011

Behind The Scenes at the Natural Balance Rose Parade Float

Last night I attended a reception held at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale, California. It was somewhat of an open house to view the Rose Parade Floats being decorated at their facility. My employer, Natural Balance Pet Foods has an incredible float in the Rose Parade, so I took all of these photos to give you a behind the scenes, advance sneak peek at what it looks like! Incidentally, if you want to learn more about the Rose Parade and our float, listen to my radio show on BlogTalkRadio, just click here.
Our company co-founder Dick Van Patten and I inspected the float, carefully checking the details- millions of seeds, flowers, gains, nuts, vegetables that are used to create the designs. We were both amazed and really proud of our float!
Saffron is used to decorate the crab legs...isn't it just beautiful? I spoke with the person who decorated the crab, and she was so proud that she beamed as she described it to me.

These photos really give you an idea of the size and scale of our well as the depth of colors and beauty. The coral was much taller than it must have stood 7 or 8 feet high I would guess.
Me "clowning around" among the clown fish that are "swimming" along the sides of our incredible Rose Parade Float! The white parts of the fish were decorated with grains of white rice.
I love Anthurium flowers, they remind me of being in Hawaii!
I like this photo a lot- the two big pink swags were covered in fresh roses and smelled divine. Actually it was like paradise just being next to the float, the flowers are all so fragrant. I've never seen anything so beautiful in all my life.
This next photo may be tough to figure out until you see the float in action, but it is the "car" that will bring the dogs back up to the top to have another run at surfing. It will move along a track, with the dogs and their surfboards!

The license plate on the model "Woodie" car on our float pretty much says it all: DOGS RULE! This car is at the very back, top section, behind where the waves will flow. It is really awesome to see it up so close.
This is an odd angle, but I took this photo to give you the perspective of the length of the really is enormous. If you look closely you can see Dick Van Patten shaking hands with visitors. He was so proud of the float!
Another side view of the float, this one has different sizes of Angel on the photo to see the incredible details on the fish stripes. Remember there are no artificial colors or materials used.
Standing among the zillions of fresh roses, each in their own individual vial of water so they stay fresh until parade day. It smelled so wonderfully fragrant it made me smile. I have always liked roses anyway...maybe someday I'll plant a rose garden. Well that just about wraps up today's post. I hope these photos give you an idea of what goes into making these Rose Parade floats. You can watch the live cam of our float by clicking here. Don't forget to watch the parade Monday January 2nd, it starts at 8:00 AM (pacific). 

The Hallmark Channel will run a TV special about the making of The World's Longest and Heaviest Float, an hour before the parade starts, so check that out too! 
One addition- I took this photo from the live cam of our float. This is Tillman doing a practice surf this morning. The side walls will be clear on parade day so viewers will be able to see the dogs more easily. Cool huh?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Surfing Bulldogs Rehearse for the Rose Parade!

Well its the the last few days before the Rose Parade, and the team of family pets at Natural Balance are busy rehearsing for their big show on what is the World's Longest and Heaviest Parade float ever! This photo above is Wally, one of Tillman's friends going for a surf along the float. (You can watch our LIVE CAM to see more)
Meanwhile, fans of Tillman and Friends are already drooling over some of the cool Rose Parade SWAG featuring Tillman and the Natural Balance Pet Foods Float! Check out these T-Shirts, and also the commemorative lapel pins too! Who doesn't like swag, especially when it is about a super cool set of dogs who can surf on their own parade float! Tomorrow I'll post some behind the scenes photos of our float, so stay tuned! Oh, and don't forget to visit the Natural Balance Facebook page for more info!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gearing Up for the Rose Parade- Blog Talk Radio

Interested in learning about this year's Rose Parade? Planning to attend? Check out my radio show with information about the parade, and the inside scoop on one of the most highly anticipated floats this year: Natural Balance, with Tillman and Friends. Listen to this show!

Listen to internet radio with Rick Rockhill on Blog Talk Radio

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Carol Channing's Husband, Harry Kullijian Passes Night Before 92nd Birthday

I was sad to hear that Carol Channing's husband Harry Kullijian has died. He passed in Rancho Mirage, California just before his 92nd birthday due to an aneurysm. Harry was a successful person in his own right, in his own business and also as a local councilman in Modesto, California.
You may recall my post just last week- when I saw 'The Carol Channing Christmas Show' and took this photo of Harry and Carol together. Harry looked to be in great health, but poor Carol had been in the hospital with knee problems, so she was hobbling around a bit.

Harry and Carol attended school together in San Francisco, and were reunited 70 years later when Harry read the kind words Carol had written about him in her memoirs "Just Lucky I Guess". Delighted to have found each other again, they married in 2004.
photo from
With a mutual passion for arts, together they founded the "Channing-Kullijian Foundation" to promote and support arts programs and education in schools. Harry and Carol firmly believe that any form of arts can help kids develop their minds in math and science to be successful later in life. Many times, Miss Channing has said that the arts become a "fertilizer for the brain" and allow other areas of intelligence to flourish within a person's mind.

Despite their ages, Harry had accompanied Miss Channing as she toured the US in her one woman show, 'The First Eighty Years are the Hardest'. Last year Carol released a new CD, 'For Heaven Sake' which features songs she loved from her childhood, including spiritual songs her father sang to her.  There is no question Harry loved Carol and enjoyed seeing her doing what she loved--perform for fans.

My thoughts and sympathies are with Carol and the family. Carol, you are a treasure. I'm so glad you were able to reunite with your childhood sweetheart and enjoy some wonderful years together. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Channing-Kullijian Foundation, 101 First Street #555, Los Altos, CA 94022. For more information see the foundation website.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Palm Springs Gingerbread House

Christmas Dinner at my house is a nice long relaxing day. I decided to plan an activity with my guests to kill time while dinner was cooking! I decided on a Gingerbread House project. This photo is the finished result--looks pretty good, huh? I've never done one before, so it was all new to me. I had all the goodies ready in bowls for us to pick and choose:
  • Gum drops in two sizes
  • Spearmint gumdrop leaves
  • Sprinkles
  • Christmas cookies
  • Assorted hard candies
  • Candy Canes
  • Colored sugar sprinkles (red and green)
After mixing up a batch of confectioner's sugar for the icing/adhesive, we went to work:
Here is the basic structure of the Gingerbread House, sitting on a cake pedestal for ease of decorating and access. I actually like the simplicity of this as it is, but that would have defeated the purpose of this being a time-filler activity!
We started using a pastry bag to squeeze the confectioner's sugar icing. But soon we realized it was easier to just use a spatula to just smear it on! One trick I learned "on-the-go" was that the confectioner's sugar needs to set up a bit or it slides off, or doesn't work well as an adhesive. When it is a little crusty in the bowl, you know its ready to use.
Here is the finished Gingerbread House, from the other side. Check out the awesome Santa sugar cookie we put on the back, I think it rocks! Surprisingly, neither Sheldon or Duncan (pictured) showed much interest in it. I thought for sure the gumdrops would go missing. It turned out to be a really fun way to spend some time waiting for dinner. Maybe it will be a new Christmas Day tradition for us in Palm Springs!

Hanging 10 With Rose Parade Surf Dogs

Hanging 10 With Rose Parade Surf Dogs
snapshot of homepage, a website for dog lovers from the publishers of Dog Fancy, Dog World and Dogs In Review magazines, published this article about our surfing dogs on their website. The article is an exclusive interview by Ernie Sloane, editor of Dog Fancy and, providing a behind-the-scenes sneak peak at the preparations for the Natural Balance Rose Parade float. What's really cool is the new video footage of the float this week! Check out this article if you have a chance.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Natural Balance Rose Parade Float Featured in New York Times

Cool article in the New York Times about the Natural Balance Pet Foods float in the 2012 Rose Parade:

HM The Queen's Christmas Broadcast, 1957

Really Cute Christmas Dog Video

One of my Twitter friends, @MyFavPupJasmine posted this really cool Christmas video today. Its GREAT training, and fun too! Merry Christmas! 

If you like it, send her a tweet and say so.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Adventures of Sheldon: The Demise of Reindeer Antlers & Snacks

Today I stopped by the Petco store in Palm Springs to pick up a few snacks for the kids. Sheldon and Duncan like Roll-A-Rounds because they are crunchy slices and Tillman's Treats because they are soft and smell delicious. No matter which one I bring out, they promptly sit up straight and wag their tails. It is so cute to see how much happiness a little treat brings them. In my travels today I bought a pair of reindeer antlers and had Mr Sheldon try them on before giving him a snack. Once the photo session was over, I rewarded Sheldon, and his brother Duncan with a few Roll-A-Rounds. He took the slices from my hand, brought them to his favorite sofa cushion and proceeded to devour every morsel. Five minutes after this photo, however Sheldon decided to play with his antlers...
Needless to say, they didn't last long. The plastic part that sits on top of his head had broken and was all just floppy, no longer identifiable as antlers. Oh well, at least they lasted for the one photo. So it was the end of the treats and antlers, all in less than 7 minutes. That's OK, he's worth it. I can always get more plenty treats for him anytime.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Carol Channing's Christmas Show

Wednesday night I went to see an old friend perform in concert in the Palm Springs area. Broadway and film legend Miss Carol Channing performed in 'A Carol Channing Christmas', at the Agua Caliente Resort & Casino. The evening starred Carol Channing, Rich Little and the American Glee Club. The show was a benefit for Carol's charitable organization for schools. I've long been a fan of Miss Channing. Earlier this year, in January I had dinner with Miss Channing at Melyvn's restaurant. The last time I saw her perform on stage, however was back in 2007 at the McCallum Theatre. Time has marched on, but at 90, Miss Channing continues to have the drive and ambition to perform her signature songs, albeit in a much weaker voice.
Toward the end of the show, her husband, Harry shared with the audience that Carol had been in the hospital. She checked out to perform this show, and would be returning to the hospital again after the show. No idea what she had been in for, but somehow she pulled it together to perform. Without question, she has slowed and can't belt them out like she used to, but she is a national treasure, and I consider it an honor and a treat to be able to see her perform again.

It had been ages since I last saw impersonator Rich Little-- he was actually quite entertaining. Comedian/writer Bruce Vilanch made a brief and amusing appearance in a Santa Claus costume, and told a PG rated joke or two. 

She and her husband continue their focus on arts programs in schools, through the 'Dr. Carol Channing & Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts', a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to bringing arts and music into schools to help kids. You can learn more about their charity here. It was an enjoyable night for a good cause, but mostly it was swell to see Carol on stage again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Helping Animals In Need Through Tree of Hope

Check out this video from the Petco Foundation, and consider helping animals in need through the Tree of Hope fundraiser.

You can also help easily through Facebook- just "like" Natural Balance and they will donate $1 for every new "like" they receive.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Palm Springs Holiday Social Season in Full Swing

At the Jack Warner (Bros) Estate
This time of year holiday parties are in full swing. Invitations from friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers quickly fill the calendar, leaving hardly any time to relax. Truth be told, I quite enjoy the social life in Palm Springs. We have such genuinely interesting people in our community. Perhaps one thing I especially appreciate is that most people here don't have an ego. For example, it is not uncommon to be at a party and mingle with folks from a wide range of backgrounds. Hollywood Producers, major business industry executives, local artists, volunteers from a local animal shelter, a cashier from a local grocery store, and a famous actor can be chatting together over a glass of wine, seemingly uninterested in each others' profession. It's quite remarkable really. Of all the places I've lived, rarely does a community mix so easily. 
file photo from Christie's
One recent holiday party was at the Warner Brothers Estate, former home of Hollywood movie mogul Jack Warner. His home was built in the 1950's, and decorated by the famed interior designer to the stars, William Haines. The house still has a hand-painted 200 year-old French wallpaper that Billy Haines recommended. The Warner estate is elegant, with lush gardens and an Olympic style pool surrounded by palm trees, lemon & orange fruit trees and olive trees. It is a stunning property, needless to say.
photo I took of the poolside grounds
As you can see from this photo at left, the gardens are quite cozy and intimate, ideal to catch up with friends with a glass of wine by the fire pit. The grounds of this estate still exude the glamor of Hollywood's Golden Age. That generation of actors and movie makers spent their free time in Palm Springs to get away from the hectic pace of LA. Even today our desert provides the same oasis to a new generation of young Hollywood elite who continue to flock to our desert to get away from it all. Behind the private walls of this estate-- like so many others here in Palm Springs, celebrity guests can relax with friends and just enjoy the holidays. Doesn't everyone deserve a little time to unwind?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Adventures of Sheldon: Help Pets in Need this Season

Sheldon Gryffindor took some time to relax by the Christmas tree this morning, to reflect on the season a bit. Sitting n his favorite side chair in front of a roaring fireplace Sheldon contemplated the fate of millions of homeless pets in the world. Being just one poodle living in Palm Springs, he understands that he alone can't change the world. But he also knows that one poodle can make a difference for another pet in need. That's why Sheldon wants to help homeless pets in shelters, and is asking for your help too. There is so much you can do: consider adopting a pet at your local shelter. Visit your local shelter and donate some food, or perhaps donate a few dollars.
Sheldon knows about the Tree of Hope fundraiser to benefit the Petco Foundation. He made a donation while visiting a Petco store yesterday in fact. 

Sheldon also wants you to know that you can make a donation to help homeless pets in shelters easily without spending a penny. All you need to do go to the Natural Balance facebook page and "like" them. For every new "like" they get by December 24th they will donate $1 to the "Tree of Hope" fundraiser, which helps local shelters all across the country. Tell your friends too. 

Make a difference for a pet in need this season. Sheldon thanks you for your help.
PS- you can follow Sheldon on Twitter @SheldonGryffin

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

NASCAR's Greg Biffle to Participate in 2012 Rose Parade

Te following article was posted on Nascar driver Greg Biffle's website. It is his announcement that he will be riding on the Natural Balance Pet Food Rose Parade Float! Become a fan of the Natural Balance Facebook page and learn more.


photo credit:
CONCORD, N.C. (Dec. 14, 2011) – NASCAR driver Greg Biffle will help Natural Balance Pet Foods make a “splash” in the upcoming 123rd Rose Parade on January 2nd, 2012. In 2010 the Natural Balance float rolled into the Guinness Book of World records as the world’s longest float and in 2011, took the record for the world’s heaviest float.

This year the Natural Balance float will be 116 feet long and feature a tropical floral setting. After extensive training, the dogs on the float will actually surf on 65-foot long waves in over 6,600 gallons of water on a float weighing more than 100,000 pounds. A specially designed “wave” machine is incorporated into the design of the float and creates a wave every minute.

The Rose Bowl Parade will air live from Pasadena, Calif. on ABC at 11:00 a.m. EST. Check out Biffle and Tillman, the World’s Fastest Skateboarding Bulldog at and get a sneak peek at the building of the float at

“I can’t wait to see the float,” said Biffle. “I’ve heard a lot about this year’s float and I’ve seen video of the floats from the last couple of years. Tillman came to our shop at Roush Fenway Racing last month and we got to see him skateboard. I heard he’ll be surfing on the float this year so I can’t wait to see that. It was definitely an honor to be asked to ride on the Natural Balance float because we share the same passion for the well-being of animals.”

Additional Facts:

  • In addition to the ABC broadcast, the 123rd Rose Parade will be broadcast on the Hallmark Channel, HGTV, KTLA (Tribune), NBC, RFD-TV and Univision. The Parade is also seen in more than 200 international territories and countries. 

  • The Natural Balance float is 54th out of 91 parade entries. It is preceded by a high-school band and succeeded by the Southern California Peruvian Paso Horse Club Riders.

  • The parade will make an unprecedented pause for 45 seconds when the Natural Balance Float, a float of "high visual interest", passes the viewing stand, in order to ponder "dogs that surf". 

  • For the very first time in Rose Parade history there will be a robotic camera on the float.

  • The Natural Balance Float is powered by Ford's latest version of the 6.8L 3v engine which will be available this April in the new Ford F-650 Super Duty Truck.
  • This entire post was taken directly from
  • I am employed by Natural Balance, but love sharing news about our super cool Rose Parade Float!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The World's Longest & Heaviest Parade Float TV Special

Some of you already know that I work for Natural Balance Pet Foods, so I wanted to share this year's details about our super cool float in the 2012 Rose Parade. This year, Tillman and Friends will be SURFING on real waves for the parade. We're planning to break all the world records, once again with the longest and heaviest float. We're building a 116 foot long float decorated with a tropical floral style theme. 

You have probably heard of Tillman, the world-famous skateboarding, surfing and skim boarding Bulldog. (He has millions of hits on YouTube). He and his other canine friends have been having all kinds of fun training to actually surf on 65 foot long waves during the Rose Parade. Our float will be filled with more than 6,600 gallons of water that will weigh over 100,000 pounds! We had to have a specially designed wave machine built into the float design which sends a real wave every minute.  

If you haven't figured it out by now, I love working for Natural Balance; we have so much fun. We're not one of those big stuffy corporations; we're a family owned and operated pet company. It has been especially awesome watching the dogs train this year. A few weeks ago, we had an open casting call to find other talented dogs who could surf with Tillman. All the dogs are regular family pets who are just really talented. 

If you want to get the inside scoop about our amazing Rose Parade float, you can watch an upcoming TV special about "The World’s Longest & Heaviest Float" on the following channels around the US in the upcoming days:
WPIX/New York 12/18 5:30 - 6:00 pm
KTLA-LOS ANGELES 12/18 5:00 - 5:30 pm
WGN-CHICAGO 12/18 12:30 - 1:00 pm
WPHL-PHILADELPHIA 12/18 4:30 - 5:00 pm
KDAF-DALLAS 12/18 11:30 - 12:00 pm
WDCW-WASHINGTON DC 12/18 6:00 - 6:30 pm
WFSL-MIAMI/FT. LAUD 12/18 5:00 - 5:30 pm
KWGN-DENVER 12/18 1:30 - 2:00 pm
KTXL-SACRAMENTO 12/18 4:30 - 5:00 pm
KRCW-PORTLAND 12/18 8:00 - 8:30 pm
KSWB-SAN DIEGO 12/18 5:00 - 5:30 pm
WXYZ-DETROIT 12/31 2:00 - 2:30 pm
KBCW San Francisco
Ch 44/Cable 12
12/31 2:00 - 2:30 pm

 HALLMARK CHANNEL* 01/02 @ 9:00 - 10:00 am EST
6:00 - 7:00 am PST

*The World's Heaviest Float from 2011 will be airing back to back with this years 2012 float special on The Hallmark Channel so you can see both amazing floats.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jason Altieri, Jim Casey, Ginny Foat, Mayor ProTem
Yesterday my dear friend Jim Casey, was honored in our community with the 339th 'Golden Palm' Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.
Jim is president of Integrated Wealth Management, one of the fastest growing and most highly respected wealth management and investment organizations in the US. Jim has added jobs to the valley with the expansion of several offices, including his flagship office on Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Jim is also an executive committee member and board member of the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the Desert AIDS Project. He serves as co-chair of the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, which raises money for the non-profit Desert AIDS Project.

I've known Jim for nearly 10 years and have seen first-hand just how deeply involved he has been in our community supporting a dizzying array of non-profit groups including: Guide Dogs of the Desert, Desert Aids Project, Palm Springs Art Museum, The Living Desert, Mc Callum Theatre, Human Rights Campaign, La Quinta Arts Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of Palm Springs, Leadership Coachella Valley and the College of the Desert Foundation- just to name a few!

On top of his profession and non-profit activities, he became a film producer. A little over two years ago, he met local Independent film Producer Kim Waltrip and together they formed a Palm Springs based production company Kim & Jim Productions. In a short time, they have produced three feature films, a musical special for PBS and have multiple other projects in the hopper.

Jim has set a wonderful example about the importance of leadership within your community. Follow what you believe in, take action, get involved and help your community be a better place. Thanks to Jim for his leadership and support for Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Exquisite Turkish Rugs

When I was a kid, my dad had a number of really beautiful and exquisite hand woven rugs where he worked. Quite honestly I do not recall which were Persian, Turkish or from elsewhere in the Orient, but I always remember how interesting they were to me. I remember my dad talking about how old and valuable they were. Childhood story book tales of 'Magic Carpet' rides were strangely fascinating to me. Some thirty years later I still have appreciation for, and a fascination with, hand woven rugs. Whenever I see one of those high end Oriental Rug stores an involuntary force makes me stop; invariably I find myself having a "mental drool" session--that is until the prices snap me back to reality.
Tree of Life design
Regular readers know I travel overseas regularly. On several visits to Turkey I had opportunities to shop for and acquire hand woven Turkish rugs for my home. Incidentally, the term "rug" usually means a floor covering smaller than the whole room and is not attached to the floor (versus a carpet which is large and usually refers to something wall to wall type covering). Anyway Turkey is full of Rug shops, all ready to sell to the unsuspecting tourist. 

If you want to buy an authentic Turkish rug, be prepared to negotiate and haggle. Don't feel badly about doing so, it is merely how business is done in that part of the world. It always starts with some offer of apple tea, or Turkish coffee, followed by lessons on how the rugs are made. Explanations of hand woven versus machine, silk versus wool, natural dyes versus synthetic, etc. And like any good salesman, they always show you the nicest, most expensive rugs first. After you hear the price you pass out, and they gradually bring a selection of rugs that may fit your budget.
Never, ever ever pay full price. Period. Depending on the time of year (late season yields better bargains) you should be able to get a rug for 30% to 40% of the original asking price. However don't engage in the bargaining process unless there is a chance you will buy. This post isn't intended to be about the bargaining process but a word to the wise...
Now, about the rugs. It all depends on what you can afford. I've seen many rugs that were exactly what I liked, but were more than I could afford. Nothing else they show you ever compares to the very best, so you just have to get it out of your mind, and allow yourself to like something else in your price range. Hand woven, silk rugs with high knots per inch and natural dyes are of the highest quality. However, hand woven wool rugs with high knots per inch can also be very very beautiful.

Look at the rugs carefully. Turn the rug upside down to inspect the back. A rug with a more complex, detailed design will have a higher number of small knots. The greater the number of hand tied knots per square inch (KPSI) means higher price. It makes sense considering the work that goes into the rug. I've read that rugs with 150 knots per square inch is average, while high quality rugs may have a knot count of 500 to as many as 2,000 per square inch.
During my most recent visit to Turkey, I went to see some local women making rugs by hand. The Turkish government is trying to maintain the skills of younger generations by providing incentives for young people to learn the trade of authentic hand weaving. I met several of these people working that day.
I saw them making silk rugs. It starts with these dry silk cocoons which were harvested from the silk worm, and dried for later use. They don't look like much at all, in fact I initially thought it was made just to fool tourists, but it is the authentic way silk is produced. 
When they begin to make a rug, the cocoons are placed in water, and then threads of fine silk are made by pulling them with a dried bunch of sticks or something. Look closely, you will see the tiny strands being pulled up from the cocoon pods in the water. It is remarkable how anyone would have ever figured this out centuries ago from something so basic in nature.
Perhaps the fact that this is basically the same process that was started back in the 13th century that fascinated me. The modern western world has my generation far removed from this kind of basic textile production, although then again I am a city kid. Anyway I digress.

The threads are pulled into a looming machine which create twisted strands of silk thread. They explained to me that silk has a very high "tensile strength" and can be twisted easily into fine strands. The thread from just one of these silk cocoons can stretch up to an amazing 82,000 feet. Remarkable, huh?  Now for the really cool part.

The women who were learning the skill of hand-knotting were developing a skill they could use to make rugs in their own home for income. In this photo, the lady is tying individual tiny hand knots on each vertical strand you see. She uses different colored thread, following a distinct pattern, working horizontally one row at a time. It is very very slow work as you can imagine.
This photo may give you a better idea. Here is another rug in production. Above the bar is a photo of the pattern the person will follow for all the hand knots. Depending on the size of the rug and the pattern, a single large rug could take 8 months to make. Again, no wonder why they are so expensive- these are not mass-produced machine made rugs.
Here is one of my Turkish rugs, which Owen seems to be quite fond of for napping in the afternoon sun. I sometimes think the pets get as much pleasure from them as I do. Not surprisingly they prefer to lounge on the rug instead of the bare tile floor. But why is it that Own insists on running to the carpet when he has a hairball? ::sigh:: Oh well, if I wanted to live in a museum I wouldn't have pets. Nothing in my home is more important than the living creatures within, even my beloved Turkish carpets.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Adventures of Sheldon & Duncan: Photos with Santa

Our Photo with Santa at Petco
Today I brought Duncan and Sheldon to the Petco store in Palm Springs to have their photo taken with Santa. From the moment they saw the front door of Petco, they were excited...they know that means good stuff for them! We made our way to the area where Santa was, conveniently in the Natural Balance food section, which is what they eat, of course :-) Duncan was eyeing the Duck and Potato dog food rolls, which he **loves** as a snack in between meals. Fortunately I got them both to sit like good boys, long enough to snap a few photos. 
Sheldon Gryffindor drives to Petco
After the photos, Sheldon used his own Twitter account 'SheldonGryffin' to upload and share his photo with Santa. He has been building a nice base of followers. We also posted the photo on Petco's Facebook page, as they were running a photo contest. As you might imagine, Sheldon is quite the social poodle, and loves to go for rides around Palm Springs. You can tell how much fun he was having by the smile on his face in this photo above. It was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit, so "thanks" Petco, for hosting the "Photos with Santa" event today!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Janet Jackson Helps Raise $1Million for Our McCallum Theatre

Last night I went to see Janet Jackson in a special concert performance in support of the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. Just before the concert started, I saw Katherine Jackson, Janet's mother and Jermaine Jackson, her brother enter the theatre, which signaled that this was to be a special night. Over the years, I've attended quite a few of the McCallum's Annual Fundraising Gala events and regular season concerts, but this one was quite different. It was a full-fledged major rock concert show with major sound and light production and a cast of dancers and back up singers. The choreography was visually  interesting (although semi-provocative at times), with a smooth rhythm that complemented the music. Janet sang and danced throughout the concert with the energy of woman half her age. 

Janet genuinely seems to enjoy performing for a live audience; she is still as cute as ever. Her smile is infectious and makes you feel happy just seeing her on stage. There is no question Miss Jackson is hugely talented; I felt she gave a stand-out performance last night, singing primarily a range of her hit songs from her long career. At times it was difficult not to think about her brother Michael, whose music legacy endures boldly across the pop music landscape.Their similarities in voice, manner and presence was uncanny. Janet paid homage to her late brother in one of the later sets, which evoked a huge audience response.
A page from the Gala program
I was thrilled to hear that last night's event raised $1 million for the McCallum Theatre. The sold-out concert was a significant step in broadening the base of the McCallum's base. From my vantage point in the concert, I observed a bizarre blend of core (older) McCallum contributors grooving along with a much younger base of Janet fans. I suspect last night may have been the first time many of the younger fans in the audience had ever even considered buying a ticket at McCallum. 

Without a doubt there were some in the audience who perhaps didn't realize the type of music Janet Jackson performs. For that very small minority the volume proved too much, and they quietly exited after a few songs. That made more room for the rest of the audience who wanted to stand and dance. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of older McCallum attendees who stayed the entire night and did their best to appreciate a different music style.

I would imagine the choice of Janet Jackson as the headliner for their annual fundraising gala was considered to be quite a departure in style and genre for some if its core supporters. That being said, it is my opinion that this was a bold but very wise move, as they attracted the attention of a broad base of residents in the Coachella Valley who may be future patrons in the next generation. Or at the very least they will now have the McCallum on their radar as an entertainment venue in their hometown.

I can honestly say that I've been a Janet Jackson fan since I was a kid, but for some reason my iTunes account only had one of her albums. I enjoyed the concert enough that when I returned home, I purchased her current album Janet Jackson Number Ones. It was nice to be reacquainted with her long music career and relive my younger years, even if just for awhile.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rick's Roadshow: Vienna, Austria

I have been traveling again here and there. Recently I had a brief business trip to Vienna, Austria. My time was exceptionally limited but in between meetings and such I snapped a few photos along the way, as I always try to do while traveling. Vienna is a delightful European city, and exceeded my expectations during my brief visit.
Vienna has old world charm but is thoroughly modern in what it has to offer to visitors. The architecture alone is amazing, a wide range of influences including Renaissance, Roman, Greek, Gothic and German. With every step I gazed in awe of the details along windows, edifices, doorways and bridges. The cathedrals and small churches are inspirational and inviting.
No visit to this region would be complete without a beer garden, sausages and local Viennese cuisine. At the suggestion of my business colleague, lunch one day was at Plachutta, a well known group of restaurants locally owned. I had the Wiener Schnitzel which is one of their specialties for sure. In general the food in Austria was very good, and the locals are quite friendly. Just next door to the restaurant was Moulin Rouge (see below) but I was too busy to every go in at night.

The Vienna Opera House at night

An example of the architecture I enjoyed so much

Spending time in meetings with business colleagues is important, but it is also good to spend time in the evening relaxing and enjoying the local culture. This was exactly the case one evening when I attended the symphony to hear "The Sound of Vienna" a classical concert of Strauss and Mozart. Held in the magnificent Kursalon, built in 1865 in a Renaissance style, it is a truly splendid setting to hear the music of these celebrated and revered composers.
During the intermission, I ventured outside onto the terrace of the concert hall. It was a foggy night, but I was struck by the beauty of this view. The building was dramatically illuminated, and the dome of a nearby cathedral was just visible through the fog. It was a memorable evening without a doubt.
The concert included several intervals of ballet, as well as several opera performances mixed in. Sitting in the audience, I tried to imagine what it was like to live here in Vienna during the time when Mozart walked these streets, and presented his music of the day. I closed my eyes and gave thanks for the blessings of my life, to have had the opportunity to experience such beauty and culture. Needless to say Vienna made quite an impression on me. I would recommend a visit to this wonderful city should you have the opportunity to visit sometime.


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.

This blog is independent and free of any type of financial affiliations. Some images used are from the internet and sometimes hard to credit them, so if you own any and want them removed just send me a message.

No copyright infringement intended. I am not responsible for defamatory statements bound to government, religious, or other laws from the reader’s country of origin or residence. The intention of this blog is to do no harm, defame, libel or offend anyone.