Monthly Archives: July 2018

[Self Discovery] The Serenity of the Sea

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 “My life is like a stroll upon the beach, as near to the ocean’s edge as I can go”
— 
Henry David Thoreau —

Summer in SD

Ever just feel the need to get away? Not to necessarily escape from life, but to take a midweek vacation from all the humdrum stress of your vocation and whatever else might be plaguing or mentally exhausting you.  Lately, there’s been this large itch to jump in the car and not be home – maybe it’s the incredible heat waves we’ve been having in Los Angeles proper, maybe it’s the fact I’ve formally lived in Los Angeles for a decade now; irregardless, lately I’ve had this distant itch that I’ve needed to scratch from sandier locations.

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I work from home and have been working from home for the last five or so years.  It’s a wonderful life, but at the same time – it can make for some stir crazy mornings and cabin fever-esque afternoons.  Thankfully, for the last few weeks, I’ve been blessed enough to tag along while my dad goes on a few work trips down to gorgeous and sunny San Diego, and every now and again I’ve also been jumping in the car with Danny and working from anywhere that cell phone service exists along the Southern California coast.  From Santa Monica, to Long Beach, San Pedro down to Orange County and San Diego – the California Coastline down here has a bevvy of beautiful beaches, ripe and ready for adventures.

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With seventeen miles of coastline and nearly 5000 acres of land, San Diego boasts an incredible amount of beaches per capita, each with their own unique charm, from Ocean Beach to Encinatas and back to Moonlight Beach – you simply can’t go wrong as you bounce from one sandy piece of heaven to the next.  Yes, of course beaches will be crowded – have you met Summer in SoCal?! – so be sure to head there with plenty of time to spare and plenty of sun and sand to be had.

Travel up the coast a bit and you’ll hit the beautiful beaches of Orange County and Newport, including the stunning 1000 Steps Beach.  But I’ll be honest, the only version of the OC I like is the show – and it’s primarily because I can put it on mute. Anyhow, just a hop, skip and a jump up and you’ll reach shores of San Pedro and Angels Gate Park, where notorious scenes from my all time favorite movie were played out in the 90’s.  Can you name the movie? I won’t give it away!  Nestled between two coastlines in a sprawling green park that overlooks the coast, you’ll find the fabled ‘Koren Friendship Bell‘ in all of its vibrant glory and impeccable hand crafted detail.

Los Angeles itself is known as much for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood as it is the menagerie of beaches against its coast.  Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, Point Dume – you simply can’t go wrong.  Now, it’s definitely a personal decision, but Danny and I typically off for the off the beaten path locations with less people – the more of a tourist trap it is, the less peace, quiet and space you’ll have, you know – if you’re into that sort of thing.

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“Don’t underestimate the healing power of these three things:
music, the ocean, and the stars.” 

Hypnotically beautiful with brooding turbulence underneath, the Ocean water mimics the human condition: meeting new highs and pulsing lows, bringing rocky baggage ashore and washing herself clean of the past, pulling new ideas back undertow and ingraining them in her personality. Summer in SD

It’s as if the waters have found themselves in the midst of mindful meditation that you can’t help but immulate: with this wave – I’m breathing in, with this wave – I’m breathing out.

 

No matter the mood or emotion I bring to the water’s edge with me, it’s always washed away and I’m left feeling rooted, as the soles of my feet and tips of my toes edge their way in and around millions of grains of sand that each have thousands of years of stories to tell.  Twisting my head to and fro to see as far as the eyes can see, I’m inexplicably drawn to the cascading of blues that measure where the sky and sea are drawn together in an almost hand painted gradient.  It’s here, that I shed my snakeskin of the past to the salt and air and become again.

Where do you go when your soul needs to refresh?

 

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[Tech Talk] Moment: Take Your Life Back, One Minute at a Time

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Being born in the crux of the 1980’s – December of 1984, to be precise – places me in the precarious position where I remember life before the internet, but have all the benefits of life in the post-technological boom era. I’ve seen televisions get slimmer and longer, watched as phones lost their umbilical cords, observed the evolution of VHS as it forayed into Super VHS, Laser Disks, and then eventually to DVD, Ultra HD, Blu Ray and now 4K; my Sony walkman was upgraded to a disc player, then an mp3 player, an iPod and now I can basically play music from my refrigerator.  And then, last but most certainly not least: the cell phone.  What was at one point an electronic brick that had the basic operations of a fancy calculator, has eventually evolved into an electronic ‘blob’ that’s acquired all the functions of literally anything else you could keep in your office or wallet besides your ID card, like calendars, notepads, a Rolodex, books, your credit cards, maps, DSLR cameras, video games, movies, foreign language dictionaries….the list could go on and on.

When the intellectual power of the world can fit in the palm of your hand, it sounds almost anachronistic to think that there’s a phone application out there whose only goal is to get you off your phone, and back into the moment – but thankfully, there is – and let me tell you, it works.  But let’s take a step back for a second and understand what leads to people being stuck on their phones.

For the most part, your cell phone is like the fridge: you open your cell phone in the morning because your brain is hungry for information, and your phone puts it at the ends of your fingertips.  Drowsy from strange dreams and famished for facts, you eagerly ingest anything your phone gives you – only it’s the fast food of information, not a lot of substance, and definitely not filling.  So, every hour or so, you open it – hoping there’s new food there, forgetting it’s the same fridge you ate from earlier – same shit, new timestamp. Untitled

Not to throw myself under the digital bus, but out of all my friends – I’d say I’m the most addicted to my phone.  I’m sure it’s somewhere in my genes, but my parents and grandparents have been large influences in the terms of technological revolution, so I’m not surprised that I had an affliction for information, and a hearty addiction to my phone. My personal irony, is I first found out about moment through a friend’s

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Instagram story, where they’d posted screen shots of how much time they used to spend on their phone versus how much time they spend after using the application; I was sold, immediately.

Moment, created by Kevin Holesh, is a saucy little minx; silently and invisibly running in the back of your phone, unless you ask for alerts, that is..  You feed it screen shots of your application use, and it lets you know how you’re fairing by cataloging your total use, including use by specific applications.

After observing myself for a few days, I decided to enlist in the free 7 day boot camp, Bored & Brilliant, which is a great introduction into getting off your phone and back to reality; shortly after I bit the bullet and got the Pro version, and did the 14 day boot camp. I’ll be honest, I’m actually on my second iteration of it because I really need the practice of leaving my phone alone.  The boot camps walk you through 21 essential tasks that will curb your enthusiasm for your digital reality and replace it with tangible moments, from not taking your phone into the bathroom, to cleaning up your home screen to remove all social apps, turning off your notifications and actually calling the people you love.  Through the app, I have small reminders on my phone to let me know, in 20 minute intervals, how long I’ve spent and I’m a huge fan of their ‘No Screen Time’ alarm: I set mine for 7-9pm at night, and it literally annoys me into putting my phone face down with a loud reminder every time I engage it.

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When I started using the application, I was on my phone up to three hours a day – now, it’s rare if I break an hour.  Plus, over the last three weeks, I’ve gone to sleep earlier, woken up without anxiety, spent more time with my cats, finished more books, had more fun conversations with friends, shared my time with my husband and have been overall immensely happier than before.  I’ve not only recommended the application to all my friends, but I’ve gone as far as downloading it on both my dad and Danny’s phones.

To download Moment for the iPhone yourself – head here! For you Android users, cue the sad violins but there isn’t currently an application for you – good news though: there’s a signup to get notified the second it’s available on multiple platforms.  For more on the applications genesis, and how it can help you take your life back – head to their website.

What do you do to curb your cell phone addiction and what tips do you have for others wishing to do the same?

 

[Reading is Sexy] Altered Carbon: A Show Finally As Good As The Books

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There’s an old adage that admittedly most of the younger generation knows only variations of; I grew up with my parents informing me that I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but it quickly became “Don’t judge a song by it’s cover” and “Don’t judge a movie by the TV show (/ Video Game / Etc)”.  But, per usual, I digress.  Over the last year, there’s been an explosion of amazing Science Fiction shows entering our sphere of entertainment – from dystopian movies like Elysium, Interstellar and The Arrival to television shows spanning from Black Mirror, Dark Matter, the latest Star Trek: Discovery, Dark, The Expanse and Incorporated (ps. Kudos to Netflix and SciFy for their creative and mind bending content!).   Until now, I hadn’t much found one as enthralling in both story line and technological potentially as Netflix’s Altered Carbon, and the second I found out it stemmed from a novel series by Richard K Morgan – I had to see how they measured up to each other.

Set in the 2500s, in a world that’s evolved out of our current San Francisco, Digital Human Freight is currency and your memories are stored in a cortical stack from birth; though your body has an end date – your soul no longer does.  Takeshi Kovacs is a man of many hats, and sleeves – Quellest, Envoy and now Detective, he’s been brought back from the ether to solve a murder…or, has he?  Over the course of ten high-octane, vividly lit episodes, we dive into Kovac’s past, present and potential futures.   Thanks to Netflix’s formatting, we sped through the series in a weekend, injecting ourselves over and over with Altered Carbon’s universe and potentialities.  It’s a slippery slope for me to fall digital head over digital heels with a concept, because I will do my best to uncover anything and everything about it; loopholes, cut chapters, the unnatural evolution of characters.  Low and behold, I discovered that Altered Carbon (like most good things that just came about this year), is a remake.

Originally a trilogy of novels, the Takeshi Kovac’s series – consisting of Altered Carbon, Broken Angels and Woken Furies – is even more apocalyptic, militaristic, sexualized and dystopian than even the series would have one imagine.  I’ve never once believed that Netflix held back on a show, but the raw carnal nature of Kovac and Miriam’s relationship was heavier in the book, as were the guts, gore and good stuff that I thought they would have surely capitalized on for television; not that I minded though, I love when books and shows truly can deviate.  Now, the first half of the book was spot on – however, slowly but surely the show begins to deviate and take liberties of its own.

I have to say: both the novels and the show become worthwhile, altered, story lines – but each remain equally compelling for their own reasons.   Not surprisingly, the critical acclaim the show has received almost matches the book., which earned the prestigious Phillip K Dick award back in 2003 when it was penned.  Now that I’ve migrated to the second novel in the series, Broken Angels, and have the third to look forward to (Woken Furies), I can’t help but think of how the show could surpass or manipulate the books to become it’s own universe all together.  For as much as I love the adaptation to television and the presence of more of a female protagonist in Ortega, I very much prefer the novels, with their raw grit and truer dystopian lone wolf feel to Kovacs.

To learn more on the series, show and author – head to the links below; I promise you: this is a ride you will not want to end.  To those of you that both read the series and watched the show, what did you think of the nuanced differences and what did you prefer?

Richard K Morgan: Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Read the Books: Altered Carbon | Broken Angels | Woken Furies

Watch the Show.