Tribute. Protest. Concert. Encinitas. October 15, 2011

On Saturday the 15th, Encinitas residents and visitors will find the opportunity to dive deep into the culture of our community and will have the potential to really connect with much deeper thoughts and feelings than one typically finds while hanging out at the beach.Maggie Houlihan - Source - North County Times

The day starts with a very special tribute to Maggie Houlihan at Cottonwood Creek Park at 11am. This event will celebrate her life and accomplishments. There will be an open mic for sharing thoughts and memories of Maggie.

Occupy Sign by Brad Kelly
As the tribute to Maggie nears its end, a protest will be starting just one block away, at the corner of Encinitas Blvd. and Coast Highway 101. The Occupy Wall Street movement has crossed the continent and landed in Encinitas in the form of a group called Occupy North County, that is kicking off what is planned to be the first of many protests in the area. They are looking to bring the Occupy message to North County, and to give the opportunity to everyone who wants to participate but has had a hard time getting down to San Diego. Join in and voice your concerns! October 15th has been declared an International Day of Action.

There's probably other things going on, but I've selected a special benefit concert in Encinitas as the event to round out Live Love Rock Benefit Concert Microloans for Mothersthe evening. It's sponsored by the non-profit Class-ACT, and is supporting their Microloans For Mothers program. The program started just one year ago with small loans to five women in Cambodia, and is now providing loans to 35 women, who have started businesses to support themselves and their families. It's an exciting program, with real results. It's also unique, as it ties together art exchanges between kids in the US and Cambodia, as well as support for schools the children go to (both here and abroad). It should be a fun night with music from local band ROCKET SCIENCE and local microbrews. The event starts at 7PM. More info here.

BTW. Full Disclosure. I will be either attending or involved with all of these events. I hope to see you on Saturday!

We the People – Your Voice in Government – At

We the people - Your Voice in Government "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

-The First Amendment, United States Constitution

The whitehouse has opened up the "We the People" section of the website so that anyone can create a petition and get people to sign it. If 5000 or more people sign it, the White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.

That's obviously not a commitment to do anything, but I don't think they can commit to anything. After all, we have three branches of government, and depending on the issue, one of those branches might have the most influence over any action or inaction. The president does own the bully pulpit though, and can certainly take ownership of things he can't directly influence.

Here are three petitions I have signed:


A Protest Turns into a Lesson in Democracy

I’m always open to trying new things. Partly because that’s just how I am, but also because of the conscious belief that stretching oneself beyond his or her comfort zone can lead to anything. From a realization that you’ve found a new treasure of life to enjoy, to finding revelations about our existence, to finding new ways to view our life and reality, a new experience is worth trying.

GOP Don't Destroy the Economy It is with this desire to try new things that I joined and the “Rebuild the American Dream” movement. The past two weeks, we have gone to local congressmen’s offices to confront the staff about their boss’ stance on issues that we feel really matter when it comes to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. We progressives believe that Republicans in general, have been pursuing an agenda that destroys these “inalienable rights.”

Hence, we went to Representative Darrell Issa’s office in Vista on Tuesday, August 2, 2011.Rebuild the American Dream Movement  I actually delayed some customer work in order to make it to this protest which, after all, is the beginning of a movement that I hope and believe will whip up this country into a frenzy. The frenzy that is required to push many in congress to finally make the bold, smart decisions they themselves have delayed for years. Decisions like providing healthcare for all (and saving money by doing this), swinging the pendulum back to a fairer tax system, and giving every American a support structure to live their dream.

Anyway, the only way to start a movement like this is for people to show up. And being a “people” I needed to be there.

We entered the Congressman’s office in two groups with signs proclaiming our concerns and We the People disagreements with Republican policies and pledges. Two staff members, District Director Phil Paule and Senior Policy Advisor, John B. Franklin stood at the office entrance and were almost cordial (crossed arms by Phil Paule) in welcoming us. During my group visit, one protester began by thanking Mr. Paule and Mr. Franklin for their public service.  But the conversation quickly turned loud and argumentative.  Unfortunately our words to the staff were merely bouncing off them, not really being listened to as input to the congressman’s thoughts on issues. Thus, here is where the democracy lesson comes.

While in the midst of rising condescension from Mr. Franklin,Phil Paule - John B Franklin  one protester tried to remind him that Congressman Issa represents all of his constituents.  Mr. Franklin replied that Rep. Issa does not represent all of the constituents in his district, and he DOESN’T NEED TO.  Mr. Franklin further stated that “Rep. Issa was elected by a majority of his constituents who agree with his views and if you don't agree, there's an election in 2012.”

Whoa! I am so pissed off at my third grade teacher who taught me that we elect representatives to go to Washington D.C. to represent all their constituents.

Wow, now I know how the country is run and I am a much wiser man.

Photos Provided by Sean Rowland.

Save the American Dream 

7 Spiritual Laws of Success

The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success are the laws of nature applied to our everyday life.  Application of these laws will enable us to live a more enlightened existence.

Sunday- The Law of Pure Potentiality
“Om Bhavam Namah” “I am absolute existence”

  • Cultivate stillness
  • Commune with nature
  • Practice non-judgement

Monday- The Law of Giving & Receiving
“Om Vardhanam Namah” “ I nourish the universe and the universe nourishes me”

  •  Practice breath awareness
  • Cultivate a sense of gratitude
  • Acknowledge your needs

Tuesday- The Law of Karma (or cause & effect)
“Om Kriyam Namah” “ My actions are aligned with cosmic law”

  • Witness your choices
  • Consider the consequences
  • Listen to your heart

Wednesday- The Law of Least Effort
“Om Daksham Namah” “My actions achieve maximal benefit with minimal effort”

  • Practice acceptance
  • Accept responsibility
  • Be defenseless

Thursday- The Law of Intentions & Desires
“Om Ritam Namah” “ My intentions and desires are supported by cosmic intelligence”

  • Be clear of your intentions & desires
  • Trust in the outcome
  • Practice present moment awareness

Friday- The Law of Detachment
“Om Anandham Namah” “My actions are blissfully free from attachment to outcome”

  • Practice detachment
  • Embrace uncertainty
  • Surrender to the field of pure potentiality

Saturday- The Law of Dharma (or purpose in life)
“Om Varunam Namah” “My life is in harmony with cosmic law”

  • Attend to your silent witness
  • Acknowledge your talents
  • Help & serve others


These concepts are based on the book by Deepok Chopra "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success – A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams" © 1994.

I was on TV!!

I had a great opportunity come my way a couple weeks ago to promote my new green business. I ran into my friend Heather Reider one late afternoon at It's a Grind in Encinitas. I hadn't seen her in a couple years, but she was on the phone and with her kids, and since I was on my way out I had planned to just wave hello and be on my way. But she happened to be on the phone with her partner Mary Goulet, and they just had a cancellation for their Momstown TV Show, and I had talked with Mary earlier in the year about my new business but I wasn't ready to come on the show because the website wasn't live yet, but now it was and they asked if I could fill in for the missing guest, so the next morning at 8:30 am I was at the studio ready to be interviewed.

Here are the clips (there are three):







Cambodia’s Reliance on Outside Aid; Chinese and Western Influence

While in Cambodia I said several times in conversation that I thought I would need to live there for a couple years to really understand the country – who really has the power and influence, the money and how that interacts with the general population. Who knows – maybe that two year stay will occur at some point.

At this point I would obviously not call myself an expert, but there certainly were some obvious things going on, and a scan of reports on the internet has solidified some ideas I had, particularly regarding Chinese influence and investment.

The most obvious thing you see while in Cambodia, is a huge disparity between the rich and poor. We worked with many people and children who survive on less than one dollar a day, however, every day we saw many very expensive vehicles traveling the streets of Phnom Penh. We also drove and floated past many properties that I could only call Mansions. There is also a lot of construction going on of opulent government and commercial buildings.The conclusion I came to was that someone either was hording the wealth, and/or some outside entity saw opportunity, and was playing the game "Monopoly", buying up all the green and blue and yellow properties, putting up hotels, and expecting the value to increase. With my little bit of knowledge and experience, I would say both of those things are true.

The other thing that was obvious was the reliance Cambodia has on outside aid. There was no sales tax when I bought stuff there, including gifts and computer networking gear. There also is no income tax collected from those millions of people surviving on one dollar a day. But there are NGOs (non-governmental organizations) everywhere, providing services to the people you would normally expect the government to provide. And my quick article scan confirmed that close to half the country's budget is paid for by the West, and China has started to make significant contributions as well. Apparently there are some taxes collected when outside entities make investments in the country, though there is also a lot of bribe money that changes hands as well to make projects happen, and to direct projects to those entities with connections and money.

The quick answer we usually received when we asked people who owned the mansions and cars, was that the person had some sort of tie to the government. My understanding is that many governmental officials also have side-businesses that they direct projects to, to enrich themselves and their friends (similar to Dick Cheney and Halliburton).

Once you learn the recent history of Cambodia, it makes it easier to excuse them for the dysfunctional nature of their government, even if it is still frustrating. In the early 70's, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were killed during the Vietnam war. And it was just 30 years ago that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge was pushed from power, after killing millions of Cambodians. During the horrific time of 1975-1979, the combined effects of slave labor, malnutrition, poor medical care, and executions resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.7 to 2.5 million people, approximately 21% of the Cambodian population. Those deaths were especially concentrated with educated Cambodians, who were considered suspect in the campaign to re-create the country in his vision. The result is a very young population comprised of many who still or until recently grew rice in the provinces.

The latest news that keeps recurring has to with Cambodians being pushed off of land they have lived on for many years, to make way for shiny new houses, roads and casinos. The landscape is continually changing as investment dollars keep flowing in, with a government whose pockets are greased and who don't seem to have much regard for the poor who get significantly impacted by their actions.

It is an opportunity for good-hearted people from around the world to converge and provide energy, support and funds to help the less advantaged people of the country. And my enthusiasm for helping stays strong by remembering that any effort that helps lift up a human, even if temporary, is of great value, and is worth doing. But I also wonder if the macro environment could undo in a second what might take years to build and create.

If you have a few minutes, here are links to some articles and info I found this morning:

The Center for Khmer Studies

Cambodia balances East and West

Chinese ‘Black Gold’ to Flow from Cambodia

China's growing influence in Cambodia

Sino-Cambodian relations

International analysts say China’s policies in Cambodia are only one aspect of its engagement with the region as a whole

CAMBODIA : Chinese influence on the rise

Lunar Landing

By Jessica Wawrzyniak


Moon Landing

Today Dave (the President of ClassACT and one of my traveling buddies) put it aptly when he said, "I feel like we are aliens here". Indeed we are. It's as if we're constantly parading through the streets as people stare, and smile, sometimes giggle amongst themselves, and very often come up to us in slightly overwhelming numbers in order to harass us into buying something for a "very chip pry foh yoo". Every once in a while we'll hear the word "barang" casually floating through the air as if we don't know that they're talking about the "foreigners". Yes, it's true, at times we are treated as if we have just emerged from a glittering golden spaceship, but the general feeling we get (and this may very well be a completely naive assumption) is that they like us. This might be due to the flocks of gleaming children that surround us with questions of "howahyoo?watisyournam?wheayoofrom?howmanybrothasistadohave?" anytime we arrive anywhere. Most common is a timid request to have their picture taken. Once one kid builds up the guts to ask you and you acquiesce, then prepare yourself to take a hundred additional photos as the children suddenly charge forward with more assertive demands for their picture taken.

What truly cements the E.T. Experience for us here is that this is a world unlike any we have seen. Our little stint in Siem Reap led us to explore mystical temples thousands of years old that we couldn't imagine in our dreams. This was the stuff of another kind of fairy tale (the kind without Snow White and Cinderella), I am talking about something otherworldly, ancient, and exotic. It was here that we shared a one-of-a-kind moment with the universe: Just before dawn, as we stepped carefully up to our first moonlit view of Ankhor Wat (, we looked up into the sky and saw a rainbow. This was no ordinary rainbow. It spanned the entire sky and there was no sun in sight. It was 5am. This was a MOON rainbow. We stared on, stumped by this wondrous sight. Then, it began to rain. And it didn't stop. We spent the entire day outside splashing through puddles and navigating temples – I haven't felt so much like a kid in a long time. This was truly an epic adventure, but more details on our temple hopping will come soon. I'm not done talking about the moon.

It's always interesting to find those minute differences between cultures – I'm talking about how different cultures emulate the sound of a rooster, or what the word for "ouch" is in each language. Well, the other day I discovered that the whole Man-in-the-Moon thing, is a total lie. Now that my life has been turned over to Cambodian rules (and boy are things different here), I have come to accept that there is no longer a man, rather a RABBIT that resides in the moon. Try looking at the moon, squint hard enough, and you will see it.

Today is the first day that my traveling companions and I classified our stomachs as feeling "almost normal" – after about 3 weeks of constant surprises and inhibiting instability, things have finally settled down. Overcoming this great hurdle is always a momentous victory for travelers, but it is ironic that after all this trouble, and after coming so far digestively, that tomorrow my two great bodyguards, Niels and Dave, will be flying back home to the US of A. I am sad to see my friends go, and I would like to give a personal public thank you to them both for being such great companions. It's been a crazy ride. Still, I will forge on.

We could very well be the aliens landing in the very real world, or just some good ol' run o the mill Americans landing on the moon, but however you see it, we are someplace we have never been before. And that makes all the difference.