Thursday, February 21, 2008

A placed called "home"

It's slowly approaching upon two years since I detatched myself from the hometown I had always know. San Diego had served me quite well, and since I'm no longer there - I look upon it quite fondly in many ways.

Though, as many of you know, I have since moved to the wonderful Long Beach, California. Sure, if you've listened to early 90's rap (think, Warren G and Snoop Dogg) you might have some preconceived notions of what this city means. I know I did.

But, as a city who is tied for #1 (with San Jose) for their current efforts towards recycling and composting, a city whose harbors supply the demand of nation, and who's people are as diverse as a food connesiour's food palate can be, I have enjoyed calling this "home," for awhile.

There's a grit to the city, a worn in feel. And certainly, there's history.

One examples of that history is how Long Beach (and one it's sub-communties called Lakewood) had gone about naming their streets years ago. Mine is one such example. And since you should well know I'm a huge fan of NPR, I'm going to give them the credit and let their words speak on the history of the street I call home:

Before the Internet, before TV, the medium of choice for most Americans was radio. D.J. Waldie, author of "California Romantica," says you can find some of the stars of radio on Lakewood's street signs. Waldie says a small portion of Lakewood, developed during the Second World War was called Radio Park.

"Because so many of the streets had connections to radio personalities. There's an Autry Avenue..."

As in Gene Autry. The singing cowboy from Texas starred in almost a hundred movie westerns. But from 1940 to 1956, the Autry was host of a national radio show: "Melody Ranch." In later years, Autry left his mark in Southern California broadcasting, owning KMPC, KTLA, and the Angels baseball team.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

we've been dating for awhile...

Howdy, my name is Josh and I love taking pictures. Scratch that, I really love taking pictures.

That phrase shouldn't be a suprise to anyone who's ever been around me for more than 10... possibly 13 seconds. If I have a camera handy, you're gonna see me with the familiar one eye closed, cringed face, and sludged shoulders trying to achieve some angle to snap a picture of you... or some random sight that catches my eye just right. I don't know where this love first budded, but I can tell you most assuredly how it has been watered over the years.

When I was little, I quite easily remember numerous moments of a camera being handed to me. Like bread to a needy child on one of those starving children commercials, my hands went out to reach for the camera with the same hunger. Thankfully, the curiousity was never stiffled, never told to wait, not even for a moment. The camera was put in my hands and I was told to "go ahead." One Christmas I was even told "have fun" when I was even given my own film camera - a Canon point and shoot camera that allowed me to change from landscape, to large portrait, to panaramic film size. With it's dark black and titanium coloring, I took that toy from youth trip to San Francisco vacation to youth trip countless times.

From that simple point and shoot, I graduated to a Pentax film SLR camera that took me on many of my college journeys. And, quite often time, the costly film and development was seen as a more worthile, frankly enjoyable, activity than heading to the grocery store for a liquor run with friends.

As the digital age is well upon us, I have most definately hopped on board, leaving that Pentax to a spot in my trunk where it is always a handy backup. Thankfully I've had some gracious friends, Seth and Ing, who have thrown me a life preserver to stay afloat - loaning me their camera anytime I've wanted to play paparazzi. Further, some "school and church related" photos have been taken using a brand spankin new digital SLR I was able to pickup for our school's yearbook coordinator... AKA, me.

Yet, this blog is not only for reflection, but also for rejoicing. I have a camera of my own now - one that I will no longer have to question the validity for taking it places. She, a Cannond 40D, has been mine since October and we've been getting familiar with eachother. With her, I will have the freedom to "go ahead" as my father helped me to do years ago. The lens will have freedom to travel, and as a favorite Dr. Suess book shares to us, so I will share with the lens and say, "oh the places you'll go," with me.

But here is where you must, nay, should participate in the blog:

1. She needs a name. She's my lady, we've been dating for awhile, and she needs a name that suits her beautiful figure.

2. Please tell me something you'd like to see a picture of. Obscure and challenging ideas are welcomed.

3. And if you're curious to see where I've gone already - feel free to click here: My Photos

Monday, December 10, 2007

Let's Paint, Exercise, and Blend Drinks

It's been awhile since I've choked with laughter, cried in hilarity, and giggled with infatuation. And when I say awhile, I mean Saturday, December 8th 2007. For it was on that day that I was exposed to an element of public broadcasting I was completely unaware of, yet am ever so thankful I was treated to through the knowledge of Seth. (Thanks man!)

As with many sentences that pop up in today's pop culture, this one starts off like this: "So I was checking out something on YouTube..." It was there that I saw a man, on his own public access television show, attempt to give his spin on our modern world of multitasking. In half mockery/desire to inform he proceeded to run on a treadmill (in full suit of course), eat a pie, paint a canvas of the pie he was eating, while also taking viewer's phone calls. (Are you picturing this?)

This was only one episode. In another he was running on a treadmill (full suit), painting a picture, once again hearing feedback from his callers, but this time he was teaching us how to make a blended drink - which looked disgusting as he only put in 3 of his 7 ingredients.

Now, if you're picturing this... let me add that within the first three seconds of him starting the treadmill, he's out of breath. Then, to add to that, his painting looks pre-school esq. Further, his callers are usually gang members throwing insults at other crews, or people speaking vulgar at him mid-mumbling-sentence... he then tries to throw a philosophical spin on their less than perfect comments. And last but not least, whoever is running the video in the recording booth adds the cheesiest of 80's graphics and special effects.

I know my words are feeble to the actual experience of watching the show. Yet, I would like to preface the experience before you click start. As mentioned before, he takes live calls from viewers. Those viewers... well, they have potty mouths. So, if you're willing to ignore that aspect, you'll appreciate everything:

Also, just in case my thoughts haven't convinced you to click one of the above videos, feel free to read Josh M's blog about the same topic for a little extra encouragement: Josh M's Blog

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Application needed...

I think I've started three different blogs since I last posted. Each time I sat down to write, words were penned, but it never seemed the words were timely. So I let them pass and let new words come to mind - but they too were not timely. Yet today, something timely has come up and I feel it's important to pen, and actually post.

If you have paid any attention to the news within the last few days, you'll have noticed that Southern California has been under a bit of a fire crisis. From Malibu to San Diego, were seeing our natural terrain turn to scorched earth, taking the lifelong possessions of many along the way.

This scenario is not new to Southern Californians. Whenever the Santa Ana winds blow, the news shares countless reminders that we're under a fire watch. As a child, I saw news reports play out warning after warning... warnings that then become live reports beside a mountain that was ablaze.

As predictable as the fire season is, and as painful as the devastation can be to families, there's another constant that is present each time these headlines flash on our television screens - the fact that I want to be a wildfire firefighter.

The exact moment occurred to me a few years ago - while watching helplessly the Cedar Fire tear through areas of San Diego. I was watching childhood fishing spots, communities where I played high school sports, so many communities being bulldozed by fire... and all I wanted to was skip my college classes and drive south.

As a young boy, I didn't mind digging holes in the ground for no reason, chopping wood for hours upon end, or staring at the creation of fire endlessly into the evening. I started wondering if these kinds of items could be put on a resume for "Why I should be a Volunteer CDF (Calif. Dept. of Forestry) Firefighter." These are men who are called at a moments notice, told to show up with their gear of minimal hand tools (think shovels and saws) and directed to cut fire lines into the terrain. Sometimes they are driven, sometimes told to hike, and other times parachuted from an airplane.

Their tireless work during fire season reminds me of my work in the education system - hours of toil and focus to accomplish a task that may help countless, or only a few. And though my danger of getting burned is only by the harsh words of parents, theirs is very real, and something we all are appreciative of - though one I wouldn't shy away from.

And so whenever the winds start blowing, and I'm forced to watch my state from a distance, I wonder if there is a way I can become a CDF member, available to be called in and help save not just my hometown, but anyone's...

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why I love Trader Joe's...

Where else is there a place that every time you walk out door you feel better than you walked in? For me, that place is Trader Joe’s. It’s always an opportunity to explore taste, explore healthier options of life, and make acquaintances with just great people.

Tonight was no exception, and even more proof to my point. You see, as I was checking out with my groceries, I began to make conversation with the new TJ employee who was being helped by a season veteran. As jokes and laughs were shared, I brought up a question I had been pondering:

“By chance, is there any way I can buy some of the small hand baskets from you guys?” I continued and explained I teach and my Jr. Highers don’t have lockers… and I’d like an easy, stored under the worktable, solution for them to place their multiple books after they’ve lugged them to my class.

Shortly after this request, and my sharing that I intentionally want them to say Trader Joe’s and not just plain ones I could find at Target that I was told, “Pull around back…”

Yes ladies and gentlemen, my friendly, oh so helpful checkout girls were going to provide me with 12, awesomely complimentary hand baskets!

My smile beamed wide as I heard her words, and continued as I pulled my car around back. Once loaded in the car, I tried to find a way to say thank you – and every idea was returned with, “No worries,” or “You don’t need to.” Finally, the TJ girl said, “beer…good beer!” So, in gratitude for this oh-so-lovely gift, I shall return to Trader Joe’s in the next few days with a thank you card, and two six-packs of hometown San Diego beer.

At the end of this blog, it is my hope you take the time to trek into your local Trader Joes and share in conversation with some of best employees retail has to offer.

Friday, August 17, 2007

First Day of My Life...

Everyone wants love. Whether from family, friends, to a romantic interest, it’s something fun and filling to feel. And with romantic love, I’d reason to guess that many want just one story of love that’s worth telling for a lifetime.

As some of you may already know, I’d much rather watch a romantic comedy movie than any action-packed thriller or horror flick. With that in mind, I occasionally get sidetracked by thoughts of my future, love included. It’s then that songs enter mind and I begin reminiscing over lyrics that make me daydream a thousand thoughts.

One such song has an accompanying music video that moves me to incredible extremes. I encourage you, whether a fan of the group Bright Eyes or not… whether a fan of seeing love felt or love lost, to take three minutes to watch and see love that has found itself on the doorstep of those in the video.

To disclose, there are all types of people in the video – opposite sex, same sex… but I urge you to watch and see the small facial gestures and expressive thoughts as those in the video listen to the same song you’ll hear out loud.

Bright Eyes - First Day of My Life

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I’m back home… sorta.

You’d think I could start off this blog by using the words, “I’m back home” with confidence. Though, after visiting Alaska, I’m not sure I can say those words with as much gusto as before.

If you have ever listened to me ramble about the outdoors, you’ll have picked up boastings of Northern California, Colorado, and the sites I’ve been privileged to… Mammoth, American River Valley, and Pikes Peak with all of the Rockies’ splendor.
Yet, with the soil of Alaska having touched my toes, I now have another land to place above all on my list. As a close friend described, “Alaska is like Colorado on steroids.”

A land known for it’s midnight sun summers and darkly cold winters is a land that makes any other nature setting seem tainted and less genuine. I can’t describe to you the feeling being there has in me – other than it’s hard not to buy a log cabin, kindle the wood fire stove, hunker down for a season or two, and find some rejuvination as I live off what the land provides. Okay, maybe I’d take a trip or two to Fred Meyer (the best grocery store/department store ever) would be in my future… but you’re getting the idea.

Besides some of the most incredible nature to experience, I was also blessed to have spent time with some amazing kids and their incredible families. Our group of 23 from Bethany split into two sites to teach Vacation Bible School to areas that do not have much/anything at all when it comes to reaching out to youth.

I was stationed in the city of Big Lake where I worked mostly with the high school youth, and for 3/5 of the week became song leader for our site. Sure I can’t sing, but the kids, preschool through high school, didn’t care and I had a blast acting like a fool for them. By the end of the week, you couldn’t bear to say goodbye to the kiddos, and didn’t like the thought of leaving the new family members you made with their parents.

Truly, it was an experience to make you feel more blessed than you’ve ever been… not only by the outdoors, yet also by the people that welcomed you with arms of love and smiles of appreciation.

Ultimately, Alaska is a place to experience creation… a place I will surely touch again.