One suitcase, one backpack

A man struggles to remove snow on his car and on the street in PyeongChang, northeastern South Korea, on Jan. 22, 2013, after more than 30 centimeters of snowfall hit the region in more than 24 hours. (Yonhap
Yes, the picture (above) was taken in PyeongChang, where I will be spending the majority of my trip. And yes, I’m constantly being warned to be prepared for (and I quote) “a kind of cold that no one raised in Southern California would ever imagine”.
When I travel, I challenge myself to take the least amount of things possible. This includes clothes, electronics, toiletries, etc. One of the reasons I love Lee Child’s character, Jack Reacher*, so much is that he travels with the absolute bare minimum (a foldable toothbrush in his pocket… that is all). Admittedly, I will never travel that light (I love my toys too much) but, I am getting better at it. 
One suitcase and one backpack is the goal for this trip. 
This morning, I learned that our hotel has laundry service, which will make packing easier. Though a bit on the pricey side, I really believe utilizing hotel laundry is worth it if it means that I can pack less. With the clothes, toiletries, and boots I think I’ll be able to make the one suitcase a reality. 
One backpack should work too. If you know me, you know one of my peeves is “carrying things”. Even though I do, in fact, like “things” (I’m complicated. Duh). In addition to my laptop, camera, and tablet** there’s plenty of room for the other odds and ends including an extra jacket and small toiletry kit for the 12 hr flight. 
The one item I am dreading “carrying”, yet know I will absolutely appreciate having with me? The humongous parka that I bought from Columbia. This jacket is a system. Seriously, there are so many different configurations for this thing that there’s even a little instruction booklet that came with it. I haven’t read all the way through it but, I think I can also turn it into a tent for summer camping. I wonder if Korean Air is going to charge me an extra baggage fee for it. 
*Books good, movie bad. Later books not as good as early books but, the series is still worth checking out if you haven’t already. 
**For those interested, I’m taking my 13″ Sony Vaio, Sony NEX-6 + 2 lenses, and iPad Mini. 

What about your wife?

One of the advantages of working together is that my wife and I are able to share different experiences during the same Special Olympics events. Michelle oversees sports and competition for Special Olympics Southern California, and is traveling to Korea as part of Special Olympics Team USA, where she will oversee the Floor Hockey delegation (athletes and coaches). 
While I’m stuck in a room with a computer*, she gets to experience the “fun” part of the games: the competition. She leaves a day ahead of me, traveling with part of the team, to Seoul. Our schedules, while there, don’t look like they’ll match up at any point but, I’m sure we’ll find a way to spend some time together. We’ll be in different hotels, and different sports venues, for most of the Games. After the Games, she travels with SO Team USA back to Los Angeles while I “float” around Seoul a little longer. 
Michelle is no stranger to SO World Games experiences. She worked the 2007 SO World Summer Games (Shanghai) and the 2009 SO World Winter Games (Boise, ID). She has also worked the 2006 SO National Games (Ames, IA) and 2010 SO National Games (Lincoln, NE). 
I’m very proud of her and the work that she does for the athletes and coaches. It’s her mission to ensure they have all of the support and resources they need to get through the Games. She also goes out of her way to ensure their experiences are safe and enjoyable. 
Michelle’s reputation amongst our colleagues is stellar (to say the least). In fact, in most circles, I’m only known as “Michelle’s husband”, a moniker I’m proud to bear. 

* Let’s face it, being stuck in a room with a computer is actually one of the few places where I thrive. Though it may seem like a punishment, for some, it’s not all that bad for me. But, I really do enjoy being out and about, away from computers. No really, I do!

Layers and long-johns

“I know I’m going to catch Hell for this but, what kind of clothes will I need?”

I asked three people that question. And those three people did, in fact, give me Hell. And, they will continue to throughout the trip. Raised in Southern California, and anti-snow, the heaviest jacket I own would probably be comfortable in 40 degree climate at best. My body temp runs normally hot, so seeing me in shorts while others are bundled up is not an unusual sight.
But, subzero temps not counting windchill? Definitely uncharted territory for me.
Over the past couple of months, you may have heard me say the following:

“How do I pack winter clothes for 18 days?”
“Do I wear underwear under the long-johns?”
“Will I seriously need long-johns?”
“Damn, these long-johns are hella-itchy!”
“Layers… Hmm, layers…”
“Does *insert clothing item here* count as a ‘layer’?”

The local Columbia Outlet received a good portion of my last few paychecks. As a result, not only am I (hopefully) prepared to face the cold, I’ll also be masquerading as a Columbia clothing model while there.

Why I am going to Korea

Recently, I was invited to the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games, in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, to provide additional support for the Games Management System (a software program that Special Olympics uses to run competition divisions, schedules and results). This is the same role that I served in 2011 during the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.

I’ll be there for 18 days, 13 of which I’ll be working the Games. The remaining 5 days I’ll be exploring Seoul with some of my colleagues.

There are a few reasons this trip means a lot to me: First, one of my biggest professional accomplishments is organizing, centralizing, establishing policies & procedures, and training users to utilize the Games Management System in an efficient manor for Special Olympics Southern California. That was a project that took a little over two years of my professional career. And I like to think that my being invited to serve this role is a bit of a reward for that.

Second, this will be my first trip back to Korea since being born and leaving there at eighteen months old. I will admit that it’s drumming up some emotions though, I haven’t quite yet decided what to do with them. I’m very much looking forward to exploring both Pyeongchang and Seoul. Some have asked if I am going to try to locate my birth family while there. No, this won’t be the right time to do something like that. And, I’m not even sure that’s a search I want to take on.

And third, simply being a part of Special Olympics World Games is an experience that I wish everyone could have. The environment and atmospheres are difficult to describe. I can only sum it up as, amazing. It’s what I imagine a peaceful world should be. And the experience from both 2011 (Athens) and 2013 (Korea) will help as we begin to prepare for 2015 (Los Angeles).

Some things I learned from yesterday’s hike

Yesterday, I joined a Flickr Meetup that began at the Chantry Flats Trailhead, in the mountains above Pasadena/Sierra Madre. We followed the Gabrieleno Trail, for just over 2 miles, until we reached Sturtevant Falls. It was a fairly brisk, cloudy morning. Perfect for photography. The trail follows the Santa Anita Wash, which provided serene sounds of a creek as we trekked through. Gorgeous hike.

Some things I learned from yesterdays hike:

  • Never underestimate the awesomeness that is meeting new people and listening to their stories.
  • Man alive, I’m out of shape.
  • I love watching other photographers’ creative process.
  • According to my Fitbit, I climbed 86 floors (equivalent to the Transamerica Pyramid). If that’s true, that’s pretty cool. But, man alive, I’m out of shape.
  • I need to get out a lot more; there’s too much beauty around here (greater Los Angeles) that I take for granted.
  • Kids, don’t smoke. Because, even after you quit, you’ll pay for it every time you attempt to do any kind of exercise. Especially in higher altitudes.
  • When attempting to cross a creek, don’t fall in.
  • If you fall in, make sure your shoes are waterproof.
  • If your shoes are not waterproof, HAHAHAHAHAHA!
  • Rocks, in a creek, can be slippery.
  • A walking stick would have been helpful.

My thoughts exactly

“What’s disheartening about the political process in America is that, after an election, there’s far too few voices who mean it when they say, “Let’s compromise and do what’s best for America,’’ and far too many who say, “OK, what do we have to do to win in 2016?’’”

— Peter King, MMQB 11/12/2012

Three points, Ann.

First, go to and educate yourself.

Second, what point do we have to get to in order for people to start treating others with respect? Everyone wants freedom and basic human rights, correct? Respect should be included. You treat others with respect and you will be respected. Respect their freedoms, and yours will be respected as well. I don’t care about which “side” your political opinions fall on, EVERYONE deserves to be respected.

Third, the first person in any debate/argument/expression of opinions to resort to personal insults is always the loser.

Better off today than four years ago?

This is the current “trending” political question.
Here’s my answer: absolutely yes.
Here’s why: I came to the realization that I control my life and my status. I, through hard, dedicated, smart work, set myself up for success. And while government does play a role in setting boundaries in an attempt to create a level playing field for all of us citizens, I’m still ultimately responsible for setting my limits.
There are millions of choices we’re faced with but, the decisions are ultimately up to us. Don’t like something? Change it. Like something? Do more of it. It’s that simple. No, really. It is.
Let’s stop blaming politicians and government for the status of our lives.

On Due Process…

“Innocent until proven guilty” is the single most important aspect of our justice system. It’s one of the reasons that we, as US citizens, enjoy the freedoms that we have. It’s protection of our rights, for guilty and innocent alike.
We make assumptions all the time. Sometimes our assumptions are no-brainers, sometimes they’re murkier. But, it’s still important that, no matter our assumptions, we do treat everyone with the same “innocent until proven guilty” philosophy. Otherwise, what would be the point of having our justice system at all? Why not just have flash mobs getting ropes and hanging people from trees based on their assumptions? 

All that aside, please read +Rick Stilwell‘s comment, as I feel that is the bigger picture. We’re (too often) focused on the wrong things.

I wrote the above in response to a comment asking why we’re calling the Aurora shooter “alleged” and “suspect” even though the general consensus agrees that he is guilty.
I’m a strong believer in Due Process. It’s one of the most virtuous ideals within our justice system. It guarantees that criminals be treated as human beings and challenges us to work to find truth and fact amidst clouds of misinformation, perception, and interpretations.

You can view the original Google Plus post (and comments) here.

The ridiculousness of AT&T

Five weeks ago, I received a notice from AT&T thanking me for being loyal to their U-Verse service for the past 6 months. As my “reward” I had to complete an online form so that they could send me a $10 gift card.

Today, the gift card arrived. Now, I have to go online to activate the card.

Why not just send me the card? Why do I have to request it before it’s sent? Why not just credit my account $10 and send me a “thank you” email letting me know about the credit?

It’s time we stop making things more difficult than they need to be.

Where I reveal how little I know about social media strategy

As I begin to use Google Plus more and more, I become increasingly disappointed with the lack of content provided by sources and companies I would really like to “connect” with. I have taken some initiative in reaching out to them to ask why their posts are so rare/non-existant. One of the most common answers: There’s not enough traffic on G+ to warrant activity. We post where the traffic is”.
Completely understandable. Seriously, I get it.
Reminds me of a thought I had while sitting at a standstill, on I-405, during one of my 110 mile commutes to the office. I’m not in traffic. I am traffic.
With that in mind, wouldn’t there be an increase in traffic on Google Plus if the “content creators” were to, you know, create content? I know it’s tricky but, when you build something, you have to actually build.

The things I didn’t weet this week (6/17-6/23)

And it’s a good thing I didn’t. Though, it’s not to say that the things that were published to my Twitter stream were actually worth posting. I mean, come on.

Consider this the equivalent of the Friday evening newscast. Really, nothing of importance.

  • Just clipped my toenails. Don’t you love Twitter?
  • Eating a gummy bear then taking a sip of coffee… not recommended.
  • PSA: if your meatloaf requires the diner to use a steak knife, you have failed at making meatloaf.

Note: These tweets are actual saved drafts of tweets from throughout the week. I make a point to empty my drafts folder (for Twitter, Outlook, WordPress, etc, etc) at the end of each week).