Talk Like A Py-Rat!

Talk Like A Pirate Day! AARRRR!

Talk Like A Py-Rat
Talk Like A Py-Rat

Avast! Ye scurvy scum! It’s “Talk Like A Pirate Day!” If ye can’t be dialecting like a true prince of pillaging, prepare to be boarded, have yer women stolen and your treasure ravaged before ye are made to walk the plank and yer miserable soul spends the rest of eternity swabbing the decks an’ planning bad Monkees reunions with that cur Davy Jones!

To avoid this fate, click on the link below and get your “Yar!” on and ditch that sissified sniveling excuse of a name for one your feller bilge rats will respect and fear… or have yer throat cut in yer sleep. Aye, the choice is yers, but choose wisely, Sleepy Jean, or you’ll find yer a Steppin’ Stone at the bottom of the sea.

My pirate name is:

A pirate’s life isn’t easy; it takes a tough person. That’s okay with you, though, since you a tough person. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
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Sun rising behind Sphere 112 by Ivan McLean - Newport Beach Civic Center Park

New Sculptures at Civic Center Park in Newport Beach

Outdoor Art Exhibit in Newport Beach

Cub Triptych - Newport Beach Civic Center Park
Cub Triptych – Newport Beach Civic Center Park

Over the last few weeks, you may have noticed some new additions joining the white rabbits inhabiting Civic Center Park in Newport Beach, CA. It turns out that what looked like some origami bears raiding a trash can along MacArthur Blvd. and a colorful tiki doll watching the sun go down in the west are part of nine new sculptures scattered on display throughout Civic Center Park  that made their Grand Opening debut on  Saturday, September 13, 2014. A tenth sculpture is set to join the exhibit in 2015. Continue reading

Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Photography – July 3, 2014

So we had to skip July 2nd and go straight to July 3rd as a cold I had been battling since Sunday finally got the better of me and left me spending the day in bed. At the time, I thought nothing is more painful than having to take a sick day while on vacation! Then while doing some fact checking , I stumbled across this story that occurred yesterday: “Child, 8, Falls to Death in Yellowstone Canyon.” I’d gladly spend my whole vacation sick rather than have a family have to end their vacation like that. My condolences to the family. With much less enthusiasm than I have had in my other posts, here are my pics that include the area where the girl fell.

On this leg of the journey we cut across the middle of the park on Norris Canyon Road and then headed south on the Grand Loop to the Grand Canyone of the Yellowstone to start our day. We then made our way around the Grand loop counterclockwise and out to the north gate to end our day with dinner in Gardiner, MT.

The below gallery contains the best images captured on our fourth day in Yellowstone National Park. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Grand Tetons reflecting on Jackson Lake, Grand Tetons National Park

Grand Tetons – July 1, 2014

For today’s post, we take a break from Yellowstone, and venture southeast from the world’s first national park, and head to Grand Tetons National Park. We drove south along U.S. 191, stopping for photo opps along the way until we reached Jackson, WY.

The below gallery contains the best images from our visit. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone – June 30, 2014

In this post, we continue this summer’s adventure trip to Yellowstone with day 2. This leg of the journey we traveled north on the west side of the loops from Madison Junction and stopped at Gibbon Falls, Artist Paint Pots and spent the majority of our time in Norris Geyser Basin.

The below gallery contains the best images captured on our second day in the park. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Grand Prismatic Spring.

Yellowstone – June 29, 2014

This summer’s adventure was a trip to Yellowstone. On our first day we traveled south from Madison Junction along the west side of the loops making it as far as southeast as Old Faithful with stops at Firehole Canyon Falls, Lower and Midway Geyser Basins, Firehole Lake Drive, Upper Geyser Basin and Biscuit Geyser Basin.

The below gallery contains the best images captured on our first full day in Yellowstone National Park. The slideshow should start automatically, if you see an image you like, you  can mouse over it to show the parts that don’t display in the viewer, or you can click on it and the full image will pop up. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

 

Is Redskins The New Double Standard?

Redskins? Niggers? This Cracker Is Tired of the Double Standard The controversy over the Washington Redskins name has me baffled. Maybe I'm blinded by the white, but I just don't see the term redskin as offensive. At least, not in the same way as I see the word nigger as offensive. Now that's a term that embarrasses me as I think of how it was used to keep the blackskins in check. What? You don't like the term blackskins either? Seriously? Well, let this whiteskin tell you a little story, and maybe you'll see where I'm coming from and maybe even reconsider your stance on the 'Skins.   I've tried my best to raise my son as color blind to people's skin tones as possible. With an aunt from the Philippines, an uncle who is half black, a girlfriend who is Chinese and Japanese, and his mother's side of the family being Jewish, there's not a lot of room for ethnic slurs in our family. In addition, he is growing up in a neighborhood that has a good mix of ethnicities despite being predominantly white. When we signed him up for Cub Scouts, the initial group of kids was made up of two black boys, a Filipino, an Hispanic, and five white boys.  Before my son had learned the names of all the boys, he needed a way to distinguish them from one another when he told us stories about his interactions with them. Keeping in mind he had no previously ingrained descriptors for these boys, all on his own he would refer to the Filipino as the "brownskinned boy" and the black kids as the "blackskinned boys." Now, before you jump to conclusions, he did not learn this from us. If he had learned terms from his parents, they would have simply been as our politically correct society dictates, but we never had the discussion because we didn't want to make races stand out to him. I was not comfortable with these descriptors, and struggled with whether or not to correct him with the PC versions, but decided to let innocence run its course. I was glad I did. One night, I witnessed something remarkably interesting. The two black boys, the Filipino, the Hispanic and one of the white boys were involved in an activity, and my son wanted to tell us something about one of the boys. To distinguish which one he was talking about, he referred to him as the "white skinned boy." That's when I realized I successfully raised my child independent of color prejudices. There was no malice in his words. In every case he used these terms, he was merely describing the boy he wanted to identify with the most outstanding feature that would identify him the quickest. We use the same method to describe people with hair color, why not skin color? So, unless you are offended by your own skin color, why is Redskin so offensive?  Apparently, a fair number of Navajos don't have a problem with the Redskins name either, despite what Amanda Blackhorse would have you believe. On the Navajo reservation, Red Mesa High School has the Redskins as their mascot right now. If this name is truly so offensive, why not start with changing it in your own backyard? Even if you do find it offensive, I don't believe Redskin was intended to be a derogatory terms as the terms for other races coined in roughly the same era were, and for good reason. The Redskins were an indigenous free people who fought fiercely to keep their lands. They weren't a race that was brought here as property to do the white man's bidding. Nor were they like the Chinese, aka Chinks, who were viewed as invaders themselves in the white man's newly won west. No, unlike the others, Redskin was the name we gave to the people we feared most in the west. With fear comes respect. That respect is something no other people of color had achieved in this land for that time period. These were not a people that could be kept in check by merely reminding them of their lowly status to keep them "in their place"—that wouldn't come until after they were broken and the last of their people were moved to reservations.  No, Redskin is a respectful term earned by the fierce warriors who defended their lands. And just as I have taught my son that the color of one's skin is nothing more than a descriptive trait, I have never thought of the Redskin as anything more than that myself. Redskins are a people of red skin. True they are about as red as I am white, but it's hard to put an exact color to skin tones. The red skinned people also happen to be some of the fiercest warriors the white man has ever faced, so therefore, the Redskins ARE fierce warriors. That's a damn good name for a sports franchise. I don't see the problem with it at all. And apparently neither does Red Mesa high School. So if it's good enough for a Navajo school, why isn't it good enough for a football team? Please tell me it's not going to be another case similar to where only blacks are able to use the word nigger when referring to each other. Because if it's okay for one class to refer to other members of that same class by any derogatory term that has been used to describe that class, than let me join in the fun by telling you what a bunch of assholes you are. I know I'm an asshole sometimes, and you're proving by setting this double standard that you're an asshole. That makes it one asshole calling another asshole an asshole, so it's all good, right homey? Glad we're agreed! 'Sup my asshole?  Now, let's talk about getting Cracker Jack and White Bread banned from store shelves…
Redskins is about as offensive as blonde hairs.

The controversy over the Washington Redskins name has me baffled, and I fear, has us heading to a new racial double standard. Maybe I’m blinded by the white, but to make matters even more confusing, I just don’t see the term redskin as offensive. At least, not in the same way as I see the aberration “nigger” as offensive. Now that’s a term that embarrasses me as I think of how it was used to keep the blackskins in check.

What?

You don’t like the term blackskins either?

Seriously?

Well, let this whiteskin tell you a little story, and maybe you’ll see where I’m coming from and maybe even reconsider your stance on the ‘Skins.

I’ve tried my best to raise my son as color blind to people’s skin tones as possible. With an aunt from the Philippines, an uncle who is half black, a girlfriend who is Chinese and Japanese, and his mother’s side of the family being Jewish, there’s not a lot of room for ethnic slurs in our family. In addition, he is growing up in a neighborhood that has a fairly diverse mix of ethnicities despite being predominantly white. When we signed him up for Cub Scouts, the initial group of kids was made up of two black boys, a Filipino, an Hispanic, and five white boys. Could it have been more diverse? Yes. But there was no lack of color here.

Before my son had learned the names of all the boys, he needed a way to distinguish them from one another when he told us stories about his interactions with them. Keeping in mind he had no previously ingrained descriptors for these boys, all on his own he would refer to the Filipino as the “brownskinned boy” and the black kids as the “blackskinned boys.” Now, before you jump to conclusions, he did not learn this from us. If he had learned terms from his parents, they would have simply been as our politically correct society dictates, but we never had the discussion because we didn’t want to make races stand out to him. I was not comfortable with these descriptors, and struggled with whether or not to correct him with the PC versions, but decided to let innocence run its course. I was glad I did.

Now We’re Getting To The Meat And Redskin Potatoes

One night, I witnessed something remarkably interesting. The two black boys, the Filipino, the Hispanic and one of the white boys were involved in an activity, and my son wanted to tell us something about one of the boys. To distinguish which one he was talking about, he referred to him as the “white skinned boy.” That’s when I realized I successfully raised my child independent of color prejudices.
There was no malice in his words. In every case he used these terms, he was merely describing the boy he wanted to identify with the most outstanding feature that would identify him the quickest. We use the same method to describe people with hair color, why not skin color? I don’t get offended when I am called “Blondie.” So, unless you are offended by your own skin color, why is Redskin so offensive?

Not All Redskins Are Bad

Apparently, a fair number of Navajos don’t have a problem with the Redskins name either, despite what Amanda Blackhorse would have you believe. On the Navajo reservation, Red Mesa High School has the Redskins as their mascot right now. If this name is truly so offensive, why not start with changing it in your own backyard?

Even if you do find it offensive, I don’t believe Redskin was intended to be a derogatory term as the slurs for other races coined in roughly the same era were, and for good reason. The Redskins were indigenous free peoples who fought fiercely to keep their lands. They weren’t a race brought here as “property” to do the white man’s bidding. Nor were they like the Chinese, who were labeled as “Chinks,” who were viewed as invaders themselves in the white man’s newly won west.

No, unlike the others, Redskin was the name we gave to the people we feared most in the west. With fear comes respect. That respect is something no other people of color had achieved in this land for that time period. These were not a people that could be kept in check by merely reminding them of their lowly status to keep them “in their place”—that wouldn’t come until after they were broken and the last of their people were moved to reservations.

Instead, Redskin is a respectful term earned by the fierce warriors who defended their lands against invading whites. And just as I have taught my son that the color of one’s skin is nothing more than a descriptive trait, I have never thought of the Redskin as anything more than that myself. Redskins are simply a people of red skin. True they are about as red as I am white, but it’s hard to put an exact color to skin tones. The red skinned people also happen to be some of the fiercest warriors the white man has ever faced, so therefore, the Redskins ARE fierce warriors. That’s a damn good name for a sports franchise. I don’t see the problem with that. And apparently neither does Red Mesa High School.

 

Time To Thicken Up That Redskin

So if it’s good enough for a Navajo school, why isn’t it good enough for a football team? Please tell me it’s not going to be another case similar to where only black people are able to use the slur “nigger” when referring to each other. Because, if it’s okay for one class to refer to other members of that same class by any derogatory term that has been used to describe that class, than let me join in the fun by telling you what a bunch of assholes you are. I know I’m an asshole sometimes, and you’re proving by setting this double standard that you’re an asshole at times as well. That makes it one asshole calling another asshole an asshole, so it’s all good, right homey? Glad we’re agreed! ‘Sup my asshole?

Now, let’s talk about getting Cracker Jack and White Bread banned from store shelves. Otherwise, let’s thicken our skins a little bit and move on, be they black, white or Redskins.

Google Self Driving Car, Ready or Not

Google Self Driving Car
Are you ready to be driven in Google’s self driving car?

Today the Google Self Driving Car Project posted a video called “First Drive,” showing a small group of people who are among the first people outside of Google to experience a car that drives itself. What was rolled out of the trailer looked something along the lines of a cross between a Fiat 500 and a Smart For Two with a blender mounted on top, and prompted one participant to exclaim, “Isn’t that cute?” As any car aficionado will tell you, cute is not the adjective we hope to hear when describing the physical representation of our psycho-mechanical lust. But let’s face it, without a steering wheel, Google’s automated car wasn’t designed for us.

So who is it designed for? Commuters. Admit it, rush hour is not the place for driving enthusiasts. Bumper to bumper traffic, just gets the blood pressure up, not the oil pressure. Imagine a commute where you could finalize a work presentation, type up your morning blog post, enjoy a video chat with your kids, or snooze! I’ve commuted by train and see the Google Self Driving car as another mode of transportation offering everything that commuting by train offers, only better. The Google automated car would remove the problem of how to get to and from the train station on either end of the commute by taking you from your home directly to your office, restaurant or shopping center without having to wait to transfer to a bus, catch a cab, or another train. Your commute time would improve, and the time spent commuting could be more productive (or restful) without having to transfer or wait for connections.

As much as I hate to admit it, traffic would probably improve as well. It’s highly unlikely the Googlemobile is going to weave in and out of traffic cutting people off and causing a chain reaction of brake lights behind it just to gain half a car length over its previous position. A group of cars all moving at the same pace will move more efficiently than a group of cars all moving and different speeds, so once again there will be less honking, and a lot less braking to compensate for the oil and water mixture of the overzealous and overly timid drivers begrudgingly sharing the road today. It sounds Utopian, and that’s what scares me.

Never mind the fact that I like to drive, and prefer to be in charge of my own destiny, not having a machine make those decisions for me. Machines break, computers crash, software has bugs, and networks get hacked. The last place I want to be is in or on a highway near one of these cars when these things start to go wrong. We could isolate them to their own roads, but then they are no better than a glorified commuter train. No, to make them worthwhile, they have to have the same road access and function as a car. And perhaps that’s the answer. Instead of removing the steering wheel, perhaps these cars should offer their self-driving feature as an option instead. This would allow for human over ride if things did start to go buggy, and aid in getting the car off the road. After all, how do you steer a car with no steering wheel if it has to be pushed?

There is a lot of potential here, though, and kudos to Google for advancing the technology this far. But there are a lot of questions left to be answered before you’ll get me into one. I’m not ready to relinquish my driver’s seat to a machine just yet. So, I’ll take the wheel, thank you, along with my manual transmission, and hold onto them myself, at least until you pry them from my cold dead fingers.

By Vernon Heywood

Watch Your Assets: Keeping Relevant in the Work Place

The company you work for is nothing without your assets, and neither are you. It’s your assets—your skills—that got you the position in the first place. Whoever made the hiring decision saw how they could utilize your assets to achieve the company’s goals. But those skills that got you hired may not be enough to keep you employed.  If you don’t maintain your assets to be as sharp as possible; keeping abreast of changes in your industry, monitoring the competition, and polishing your marketability, they will become dull and of little use to your employer and you’ll find yourself either discarded or being replaced with a newer more up to date model.

These skills go beyond those you use on a day to day basis to achieve your employers goals, they also include the well-honed implements you used to land that job. These assets are just as important to keep sharp and polished as the rest of the items in your toolbox. Your contacts, networks, associations, and social profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter among others, are just as important to keep up to date. You should be sharing items in your social networks that demonstrate you are an authority in your field, and networking with other influencers and professionals in your industry. At no time should you ever put these tools on the shelf to devote all your efforts to your employer’s task before you.

Over the last year or so, that’s exactly what I did. I had withdrawn from my online social presence as work became more and more demanding. My Facebook page became a scrolling haven for regurgitated memes, my Twitter account a dwindling record of places I checked into less and less frequently as the shared check-ins from FourSquare fell by the wayside, and Google+ was just a catch basin for posts that could be shared across all three networks. But duty called, and I answered, ready willing and able to do whatever needed to be done, for the company that I was sure would take care of me as well as those as dedicated as I was, took care of it. My mistake.

Go ahead. Laugh. I’m laughing at myself.

Sure, I had been burned before, but I was naive enough to believe this company was different. They touted their own version of the Boy Scout Law, you know, “trustworthy, loyal, helpful…” But this company promised integrity as well. Upon hearing upper management talk about integrity in company meetings it was hard to believe they weren’t sincere, so like a runaway teen in a religious cult, I not only swallowed the Kool-Aid, but I helped mix it as well.

However, I am not here to bad mouth this or any other company. The fault here lies with me, not with them. Their loyalty is to their shareholders and the bottom line. It’s business, period. What I am here to tell you, is that like your employer, you need to watch your bottom line as well, if not better, than they watch theirs.

What you need to remember is that these tools, all of the assets you provide for your employer, are yours! Not the product they create of course, but the tools used to create the product. They are only on loan to your employer for as long as they feel the need to rent them, but like any rental item, the upkeep of those tools lies with the owner, not the renter. The benefit of performing this regular maintenance will serve you two-fold: Not only will you continually prove your value to your employer, but you will also be showing your peers outside the company what a valuable commodity you are, and perhaps improving your bottom line before your company improves theirs by securing a more lucrative job offer.

Don’t become irrelevant in your job, or in your networks. Keep your tools sharp and in good working order. Watch your assets. In doing so they will be ready when it is time to loan them to the next renter, and more valuable. Stay current and stay relevant. There will be other renters looking for the latest and the greatest, and there is nothing wrong with raising the rent when it’s time to sign the new lease.

Joy Ride in the Sierras

Mustang Xing... Double Yellows and Other Lines
Mustang Xing… Double Yellows and Other Lines

When the demands of our hectic everyday lives become too much, a road trip through the Sierras can be just the release needed to unwind and re-center. On a recent trip to Sequoia National Park we came upon some tourists who were looking to do just that.

As the distance between the front of our vehicle and the rear of their’s rapidly shrunk, it soon became apparent that they had lost themselves on the General’s Highway, the main road that travels through the park and on into Kings Canyon.  They were two gentlemen driving a yellow convertible Mustang, who were meandering all over the road… I’ve seen picnic baskets with less weaving.  So we settled into a nice 30 mph pace on the 45 mph twisty two-lane road without passing lanes and began speculating as to where they were from. The car was obviously a rental, and they had luggage, not camping gear, piled in the rear seat.

We had narrowed the occupants down to Europeans who had previously driven nothing larger than a vintage Fiat 500, and to them the Mustang must have been as bloated and cumbersome as an Excursion is to the typical mid-size sedan owner which explained their inability to keep the vehicle on the non-head-on collision side of the double yellow line. We also surmised that they lived in the city and had never seen a mountain road, because the Mustang could obtain speeds of near 50 mph in wide open straight-a-ways. Unfortunately these are few and far between and our happy-go-lucky tourists were much more likely to be travleing at 15 mph on even the widest of turns.

But there was something else starnge. It seemed to take two of them to manage the gear shift. Each took turns leaning toward the center and reaching across and with each motion, the car would veer even further to the left or the right. Odd. Especially since this was obviously an automatic.

Just as they seemed to finally get the shifting situated, and picked up the pace to a respectable rate, we approached a section of one-lane road that was controlled by a signal which would alternate between east and westbound traffic. While we waited for the eastbound traffic to clear the driver hopped out of the Mustang and began talking very loudly in a foreign language, which I still say was European, as he began to adjust his loose fitting shorts… and wipe his shirt… and then wash his hands… and legs… and… ew. That wasn’t a gear shift the passenger was shifting was it?

Look fellas, the Sierras is a great place to get  release, but that’s not what we had in mind. We appreciate the tourism dollars, but save the peep show for the hotel room, and leave the “joy riding” back in your home country.

Suddenly texting while driving doesn’t seem quite so bad. Someone wanna pass him a wet wipe?

 

Writer, Photographer, SEO Consultant