Saturday, January 31, 2015

ReBlog: These Cats And Dogs Aren't Just Playing Football, They're Here To Deliver An Important Message

I read a great article on The Huffington Post and decided to re-blog it, with full credit to the author, Dominique Mosbergen

Dominique wrote:
These Cats And Dogs Aren't Just Playing Football, They're Here To Deliver An Important Message
Every week, tens of thousands of cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. shelters. That’s millions of healthy, adoptable animals that are put down each year.
The Lucy Pet Foundation reminds us of this sobering fact in a moving, Super Bowl-themed ad, in which padded and helmeted cats and dogs are pitted against each other on a football field. 
The commercial is adorable, but it sure packs a punch
The Lucy Pet Foundation is a California-based charity that’s working to end shelter overpopulation through adoption, as well as through spay and neuter campaigns. The new ad will make its TV debut during Sunday’s Kitten Bowl -- the feline football championship -- on the Hallmark Channel.  

Remarks from Rick:
Please share this video with your friends to help spread the word. I bet most people have no idea 80,000 dogs & cats are euthanized every week. You can make a difference- lets get people talking about this commercial so we can educate the public.

If you are inclined to help animal causes, reduce homeless animals and try to stop the number of animals euthanized every week, please make a donation RIGHT NOW to the Lucy Pet Foundation. Just click here.

Friday, January 30, 2015

China Dragon Starbucks Mug...there is a story to this one

Yesterday's post featured the new Starbucks mug from Hong Kong, and how I've evolved into a daily coffee drinker these past seven years. Truth be told, another Starbucks mug "got me" during my recent world travels, and there is a story to this one. First, I should point out that I have a "thing" for dragons. Perhaps one day I can dazzle you with my enormous dragon collection, but I digress. Back to the China mug. So there I was standing in the queue at Starbucks in Shanghai, when I spotted this beautiful ceramic mug, with a tasteful Chinese dragon design on the exterior, and rich red interior. I had to have it. It isn't that I needed another mug-certainly not in fact. Justification came swiftly as I quickly recalled all the mug designs in my kitchens. 
Nope, no dragons. Being close to the end of the trip, I knew that my luggage was dangerously close to already being filled to the absolute brim, but I was going to carry on this mug if I had to. I picked up the mug, and upon closer inspection the dragon design wrapped around the perimeter of the mug. The detail was exquisite! I knew I had to have it. The queue at this Starbucks was enormous, perhaps 20 people still ahead of me at this point. My hands were full...I looked at the shelf and there were only two of this design remaining. So instead of putting it back on the shelf, risking someone else buying it, I placed it on the top of the shopping bag I was carrying. The bag was filled with goodies from Shanghai Tang (my favorite new designer). The line was moving so gradually edged along until finally it was my turn. 

My Mandarin is nothing short of atrocious, I lack all confidence in speaking, so I blurted out my order in English, which the cashier had some difficulty understanding. I repeated my order, and I could feel the pressure of the line behind me. At some point the order was understood, and I fumbled with my currency to pay as quickly as possible to get out of the way for the next person in line. I shuffled along to pick up my drink, and glanced at the time, realizing I had spent way too long in the queue, so I picked up my coffee, and my shopping bag, and dashed off on my way.

It wasn't until I returned to my hotel later when I realized I had forgotten to pay for this mug. Horrified, I considered what to do next. By this point I was far away from that Starbucks. I knew this was bad karma, and just not something in my nature to do. So later that day, I found another Starbucks while out and about, and went in to pay for the mug. Attempting to explain my situation in English, the cashier didn't quite understand. I left, unable to right my wrong. The next morning, while at the airport I went into the Starbucks in the terminal, knowing the cashiers would speak English very well. I waited on this line...and waited. Eventually I got to the cashier, and ordered something and also explained I wanted to pay for a mug I inadvertently placed in my bag and forgot to pay for. The cashier was stunned at my honesty. The moment I paid for the mug, I felt my conscience clear.  I suppose I owe that to my parents for instilling a sense of what is right and wrong. So thanks to the parental units, God, my Christian upbringing, and my Buddhist studies for keeping my values in tact and well balanced after all these years. So this dragon mug has much more significance now than just the design. It represents good over bad in this world, well at least that's what it means to me

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hong Kong Starbucks Mug

For some inexplicable reason, seven years ago when when I turned 40, I woke up one morning and craved a cup of coffee. Prior to that, I disliked the taste of coffee and rarely consumed it. I fancied myself more of a tea drinker, and still drink tea daily. However, my appreciation for coffee came out of nowhere and all these years later I continue to have a cup of coffee every morning. I jumped on the Starbucks bandwagon, having submitted to the brainwashing signals they transmit from their world headquarters. I fully assimilated into the Starbucks world, resistance was futile.  

In addition to serving great drinks and food, Starbucks is indeed a clever retailer. They have perfect little gifts and things to enhance the Starbucks experience. I own three or four different Starbucks mugs, all of which are oversized and unique. Not long ago, they began featuring regional mugs in each major city. Since I tend to travel quite often, I would see these mugs and resisted the temptation, as I already have plenty of mugs at home, let alone several Starbucks mugs.

Having just returned from Hong Kong, I came back with a Starbucks mug. It was more than I could resist. Tomorrow I'll show you the other Starbucks mug I am I a sucker.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

As update on the kids

Since I resumed blogging, a few faithful readers from years ago have asked about Sheldon and Duncan. So today, as requested here is a quick update on the kids.

Sheldon and Duncan have grown into fine adult poodles, well mannered, smart as heck and total charmers. Like any self-respecting Standard Poodle, they enjoy their multiple residences, and travel effortlessly between Palm Springs, Burbank and the Los Angeles area. Duncan is as mischievous as ever, but is a very sweet natured boy. Sheldon is an absolute lamb...except when he torments his brother and chases him around the house, running, bobbing and weaving between tables, side chairs and plants like total maniacs.
All joking aside, Sheldon and Duncan are best pals and love being together. They go hiking in the foothills, and also love the bike/pedestrian jogging paths to take in all the sights.

Having standard poodles in your home is  like having a housemate. They are not quite the same as having just any pet. They view humans as their equals (and I'm OK with that). They are thinkers--even listen to conversations and respond/react in their own manner. I joke with some of my human friends that I don't need to watch TV or read because these two keep me plenty amused. One of my famous friends recently remarked to me: "I think Sheldon is listening to our conversation." (As we chatted on the sofa, Sheldon was seated next to us listening and eventually turned his head away). I replied to my famous friend, "Of course Sheldon is listening, but I can tell he is bored by you now." At that exact moment, Duncan who was laying on the floor exhaled deeply and sighed, making a loud groaning noise. My famous friend joked that thankfully Sheldon and Duncan didn't buy movie tickets. 

The kids are quite well, even if the are bored by celebrities, they find plenty of entertainment in their dad everyday.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Love animals? Help spread the word

Long term readers know how much of an animal advocate I have been most of my life. I enjoy supporting non-profit organizations who help animals and also help educate the general public about animal causes. There is a really awesome PR event coming up on Super Bowl Sunday, a day known for its TV commercials as much as the football. This year the best bowl commercial may just be on Hallmark's Kitten Bowl which precedes the Super Bowl. It is a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that will forever change the way America thinks about cats and dogs.

You might not have planned to watch the Kitten Bowl, but it is something fun to do before the actual Super Bowl starts. If you have kids, a spouse or a girlfriend or family member who likes animals- this is a fun way to kick off the day (pardon the pun).  Even my pal Mariann from Brooklyn is planning to watch the Kitten Bowl. Shout out to Beth Stern who is also a fan of the Kitten Bowl.

Please PLAN to watch the Kitten Bowl on the Hallmark Channel so you can catch this incredible PSA featuring both dogs and cats playing football.

Lucy Pet Foundation's groundbreaking #DogsVsCats football game commercial airing on Super Bowl Sunday, will feature some of the most high-tech CGI special effects ever done using live animals, and is bound to be among the most discussed ads of the year.

I spend most of my time between Burbank and Palm Springs, and have meet/known lots of talented folks from the Entertainment industry. There is already a buzz going about this PSA spot because of who worked on it. The Director of this commercial is someone with a huge amount of talent whose work you probably have seen. Sam Nicholson is one of Hollywood's most acclaimed visual effects wizards, known best for Heroes, 24, The Walking Dead and Star Trek I. 

The special effects of the dogs and cats playing football are so advanced that they’re up for a Guinness World Record for the technical part of creating this awesome commercial. If you love movies, its worth watching the Kitten Bowl just so you can see this guy's incredible special effects. Check it out:

Here is why this matters. The PSA commercial will draw attention to the 80,000 pets euthanized each week in shelters across the US, due to overpopulation. Anyone who loves animals can understand how that is hideous number of animals killed every week for no reason! 

The Lucy Pet Foundation has a multi-targeted solution to pet
  • Free and Low Cost Mobile Spay & Neuter Clinics across the country (eventually they hope these will all be free)
  • Education
  • Grooming and training of shelter pets to make them more adoptable
  • Working to enact legislation benefitting pets, including banning gas chambers at shelter
So if you love dogs and cats and football, then tell your friends to watch for the Lucy Pet Foundation commercial on Sunday February 1, 2015, during The Kitten Bowl, on the Hallmark Channel at 12/1c.

Want to help? Here's what you can do:
  • Help spread the word to YOUR friends and family to watch the Kitten Bowl
  • Check out the PSA teaser online and share it with your friends on social media so more people see it and talk about it!
This post was brought to you in an effort to raise awareness about Lucy Pet Foundation's upcoming ethical pet population campaign. Lucy Pet Foundation provided all images (other than ours of Gilligan) and information about the commercial, If you are a blogger interested in spreading the word about this campaign, while also enjoying the chance to earn a donation for your favorite rescue, contact and request more information.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pay Attention to Those Little Signs in Life

With age comes wisdom, or so the expression goes. One hesitates to suggest that wisdom has been bestowed upon oneself, yet there are some life lessons one has accumulated during these past 46 years. The importance of living life with a sense of gratitude cannot be overstated. There is always something for which to be grateful, a beautiful sunset, family, health, friends, a fragrant flower, whatever. It only takes a few moments to feel gratitude and contentment. It has such a positive effect on oneself in numerous ways. Training one's mind to lead a grateful life also requires having a positive attitude-- that is, the habit of tending to see more positive aspects of life and not dwelling on the negative ones (i.e. Is the glass half empty or half full?). 

It may seem silly, but the habit of expressing gratitude, to oneself and to others is an important aspect of living life with a sense of gratitude. Make a habit of always saying thank you to others, when appropriate, so it becomes engrained in your nature. Saying the words thank you aloud sets powerful energy into the Universe, and it feels good as well. Equally important are finding those moments each day, throughout the day, to say thank you to oneself, to ones Creator, or just to the Universe. It is much easier than it sounds. Allow your mind to be open to the signs of life to remind yourself to do so. The photo above is at the interior of the driveway exit of a restaurant/hotel in Palm Springs. It is the last thing a guest sees as they exit the property. The establishment understands the importance of saying thank you to its customers. I snapped a photo of this sign one day, as a constant reminder to be thankful. Paying attention to those little signs in life, even if as simple as a "Thank You" sign can help live a life with a sense of gratitude. 
Thank you.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

When is a Coffee more than a Coffee?

Yesterday a friend suggested we meet for coffee at a local cafe in the Magnolia Park area of Burbank.  Always open to try new places, I headed over to Romancing the Bean Cafe with no expectations other than to relax over a cup of java and enjoy some good conversation with my friend. Arriving a few minutes early, I had a chance to check out the place. The decor was well designed- mostly black and white color scheme; it has a funky, casually elegant ambiance. I love the mix of fun chairs and wall bench suit your mood and whatever you want to do. The seating area was well planned; a mix of individual marble top tables for intimate seating, long wooden tables for groups and a kid-friendly table up front was a nice touch too. I watched a mom and her little daughter come in behind me. The little girl must have been 6 or so, and it was her birthday, so her mom let her order one of the brownies or something in the case. I watched the girl's face light up as she brought her little treat to the kiddie table.  The fresh flowers on the tables were a nice touch too.
The menu boats sandwiches, salads, smoothies, justices and of course the usual coffee options. I was struck by how clean everything was (as it should be for a restaurant) but it was obvious someone truly cares about this place--the sense of pride was evident from the exterior windows, to the food display cases, and right through to the very back wall inside.
I suppose a latte is just a latte, but for some reason this one they made for me was perfectly made...the foamed non-fat milk seemed extra delicious...a dreamy mug of soothing java goodness. I glanced around the cafe, observing the blend of young and hip patrons gazing into their iPhones, MacBooks, iPads while sipping their coffee concoction.  The large front windows offered great opportunities for 'people-watching' from passers by along Magnolia Boulevard. The comfy furniture and awesome music selection added to its relaxed atmosphere, making it easy to linger.  I was tempted to have something to eat because everything looked so delicious, but I had already eaten lunch. Perhaps another time. The staff were all so pleasant and made me feel welcome that I knew I would be back.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Designs by Shanghai Tang

While shopping in Hong Kong recently, an upscale fashion brand called Shanghai Tang caught my eye, and has quickly become something of a small obsession of late. It all happened because of this black leather blazer. The Mandarin collar, elegant styling perfectly tailored, and nice detailing like purple silk lining made me fall in love with totally unnecessary article of clothing. It was
Here's how it looks on me!
beyond what I would have typically permitted myself as an impulsive indulgence. I found myself texting photos to friends asking their opinions, but within 24 hours I had returned to purchase the blazer. The store I returned to was a larger retail location with a huge men's department, and also a wonderful home furnishing section. After choosing a few dress shirts, ten polo shirts, two rugby shirts I thought
I have this in every color
I had done enough damage...until I saw this.

My eyes met these wonderful dragon bookends and I was powerless to resist. In Chinese lore, the dragon is believed to bring protection, fortune, strength and power to a family. I have a thing for dragons, my home is filled with them, so what's one more dragon themed item, I told myself. Soon they too were in my shopping bag. As I continued to look around the store, I was completely enthralled by the designs and decided that Shanghai Tang is my favorite new brand. I can hardly wait to return to Hong Kong to do more damage here...I just may need to check out their only US retail store location at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami. I'll keep you posted if I get there before I'm back in HK. In the meantime, check out their website to see for yourself why I like this brand so much. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

At the risk of sounding shallow.....

At the risk of appearing shallow, I thought I'd share these photos of my Jag. After taking a nice road trip this past weekend, I realized that I love this car even more than when I first bought it. I've had a few different Jaguars over the years and found them all quite comfortable, nice amenities, perform well on the road and are sexy as heck. But this particular Jag is my favorite thus far. This color is what they call British Racing Green, which is quite handsome in my opinion. I've never considered myself a major car fanatic, but I am passionate about driving Jaguars. It is a great car to drive in Palm Springs, with nice open roads lined with tall palm trees. It may be superficial, but driving this car makes me feel happy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Here's Something Important: A New Cookie Jar

Ever since I was a toddler, Snoopy was my favorite character above all others. Nearly everyday I would read the Peanuts comic strip in the Providence Journal newspaper to keep up on the antics of Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown and the gang. The animated Peanuts TV specials were so great...they brought Snoopy to life and gave him a "voice".  My plush Snoopy was my preferred stuffed animal to snuggle up in bed at night. All these years later, I still have a soft spot for Snoopy. When I saw this Snoopy & Woodstock ceramic cookie jar on Amazon, I just had to have it. Mind you-- the cookie jar isn't for people's to store dog treats for Sheldon and Duncan. It only took a day for them to figure out that their cookies were inside the Snoopy jar now.  The best part of it all is that Snoopy greets me every day in the kitchen, and makes me smile.

As a side note, if you didn't hear, there will be a new Peanuts Movie feature film released in November 2015. Needless to say I am giddy about it. Have a look:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

On a Chilly Winters Night

Even in Southern California, we experience a dose of winter temperatures every so often. On a chilly evening it is nice to cozy up in front of a roaring fireplace to enjoy quiet music, some wine and cheese and just let one's mind wander. The flames are so mesmerizing-- the way they dance and flicker. The feeling of the warmth on my face is soothing.  The occasional crackle of the fire, shifting logs and glowing embers can be so enchanting as well.
Even as a kid, growing up in New England, the fireplace was a normal ritual we enjoyed throughout the long winters. Perhaps this is another reason why I enjoy the fireplace today as an adult--the fond memories of childhood.
For those of you experiencing genuine cold winter climates, I admit our "chilly" evening temperatures are the Springtime highs you long for right now. So perhaps the whole fireplace thing is just a romantic notion. Ambiance, setting, mood, and so forth. Whatever the reason, creating this setting is more than just keeping warm, it is a state of mind.  When I took this photo it made me feel warm inside. At that point I forgot about the temperature outside. It didn't matter. Because after all, its what's inside that counts, isn't it? 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

My Penchant for Martinis

Long time readers may recall, back from the early days that I have a penchant for martinis. I suppose it was from watching too many James Bond flicks as a kid. That being said I distinctly remember the day when I was old enough (and daring enough) to order a martini for the first time. I didn't know the first thing about them, and certainly wasn't savvy enough to know to order a certain brand of vodka or to specify olive preferences, etc. Needless to say, that first martini as a stupid twenty year-old kid tasted absolutely horrible to me. I remember taking one sip and it thinking it tasted worse that the worst medicine I had ever taken in my life.

I avoided martinis for the next ten years.

One day, when I was living in Chicago, I went to dinner with Peter and Bill, two of my closest friends on the planet. There we sat, at the bar waiting for our table in a trendy restaurant in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. My friends ordered vodka martinis, with blue cheese olives. I was fascinated. I ordered one too. I watched the sexy bartender set them up, fill the shaker and shake it frenetically. The exterior of the metal shaker instantly was covered in an icy film... I watched as the opaque liquid flowed into the beautiful martini glass, with tiny slivers of ice floating throughout. It was nothing short of a glass of liquid magic. As I raised the martini glass to my lips, I was mesmerized by the moment. The ambiance, the music, the lighting, the bartender...and then it happened. This chilled magic beverage touched my lips, and tongue, and I swallowed the first sip of a vodka martini in ten years.    My tastes had matured over the past decade, and I was ready to appreciate the drink that always seemed to help 007 get the girl.

Ever since that moment martinis have been my cocktail of choice. Once is sufficient...never more than two..three can lead to untold behavior. So when I am in the mood to celebrate, or just jovial, a Grey Goose vodka martini with blue cheese stuffed olives is my beverage of choice. I had some friends stop by to kick off the weekend, so martinis were in order. Only one, for me. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Time to Celebrate

One of the cardinal rules by which I live is to find joy every day, and always take time celebrate the things that matter in life. Whether it is a birthday, anniversary, holiday, birth, or a life transition, it is good and right to pause and mark them in a fitting manner. 

For me, this meant it was time to crack open a bottle of Krug Brut Champagne, a vintage of I had been saving for some time. Perfectly chilled, I  served it in a seductive champagne flute glass; this bubbly was exactly what I had in mind to celebrate life. Indeed I am joyful on this day. The air is fresh, the sky is blue and the sun in shining. While one's entire life may not always be filled of champagne and strawberries, it helps to take the time to appreciate the moments that are wonderful. As the tiny bubbles of the Krug Brut ticked the roof of my mouth, I closed my eyes and thanked God for the blessings of life.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I'm back

At the Conrad Hotel in Hong Kong
After a nearly two year hiatus from blogging, I'm quite pleased to resurrect my little old blog. I'm a free spirit now, on several levels. It is time to dust it off and return to the pleasures of writing here once again. Life is exceptionally good, and always interesting, therefore I blog.

I'm grateful for all the blessings and wonderful experiences in my life, therefore I blog.

Like most people in their mid 40's, I'm evolving and transitioning along on this journey of life, therefore I blog.

Things certainly have changed since I started this blog in 2006. As I return to the blogosphere, my posts will certainly be quite different than when it all started nine years ago. Not only have I spiritually and emotionally evolved, I have also changed physically--I lost 20 pounds this past year. It still surprises me to look back at photos of myself and how bloated I looked. Today I'm lean, fit, happy and healthy. More on that some other day.

Over the past few years I've developed some strong ties within Asia. I am proud to consider several special people in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Thailand and Japan as my friends and some even like family. Those people and experiences have changed my life forever.  For now, this brief post is simply a chance to say "I'm back!"


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.