Tuesday, July 31, 2012


     You've probably seen those pictures making their way around the cyber world-street scenes of cities in India where power and phone lines criss-cross, snake and weave their way in a rats nest, while the captions read as to how this is where we call for "tech support."
      No one is laughing today, as 600 million are without power.  The frightening and economically damaging outage is also a "poster child" for a world where technology leap frogs into new patterns without forethought.  How does a rapidly expanding economy, like India but also think China, manage to continue its growth and yet do so in ways that do not over reach? At least over reach until there are significant break downs, both in services and expectations.
      Money is not so much the problem.  There is plenty of money in expanding quarters of the Indian economy.  The difficulty is in planning-orderly planning and phased growth-as well as government and/or service management.  
     Less serious, but from the same root, is the topic I posted yesterday-old fashioned Network mindsets in a Twitter and social media world.  There is even more fuel on that fire today as NBC is taking more shots for their numb skull promotion cycle, just in advance of their own intent to build drama into a Missy Franklin race. And there is the flap about pulling Twitter rights. Guess we can't have the most rapid media beat the old systems, and on and on and on.
     Planning ahead? Thinking it through?  Making arrangements?  Accommodating new technologies?
     Old systems in conflict with new patterns.  India-though a hot economy, unable to manage into the future.  
      I'm miffed and slightly amused when I see miles and miles of telephone and/or power lines strung along the same route captured in historic photographs.  We can send messages to Mars rovers, satellites and other even more distant space explorers, but we still hang those lines like we did a hundred years ago, or longer.  Yea, OK, I know electricity needs a path, but there are other ways to pipeline it, and there are alternative energy sources. 
      No one believes future technology advances, especially in communications and information sharing, will get less complex or infrastructure dependent, but where do we see evidence of nations, or even hemispheres planning for what is to come?  No one believes we will use less energy, unless of course, the system goes down, like it did in Tech Support Land.
     OK, it's time to chill.  Here's something for your blood pressure.
See you down the trail.

Monday, July 30, 2012


     It is probably time for Olympic organizers, the IOC, and their media partners to get fully into the 21st Century.  Their old fashioned approach is silly.
       Viewers are already all over NBC for their multi hour tape delay of the opening ceremony and the rounds of competition.  I was angry, because as a regular BBC Internet viewer/reader, I was unable to see the Beeb's stuff because of the US deal with NBC.  
       It's a fascinating, even if painful example of how social media platforms have outdated the thinking of Network executives and business hustlers.  Why tape delay in a 24/7 world of instant media?  Sure, the answer is ad dollars are higher if the Olympics play in prime time, instead of real time, which half way around the world could mean the middle of the night or the middle of the afternoon when viewership is down. But that old business model, may be just that-old and out of date., which watches the economics of digital content reports in this link how Twitter activity has jeopardized broadcast coverage.
        If nothing else, this Olympiad should signal a new way to approach coverage of the games.  Instead of add ons or afterthoughts, new media platforms should be a key strategy for those nations where time zone differences
are important.

See you down the trail.

Friday, July 27, 2012



     Sorry for using the tired old example of "the Glass-half empty or half full?"  But at a time when media seems to dwell on issues, problems and crisis after crisis and when political process has ceased to be dialogue but instead is bombast followed by bombast, it is understandable why people consider the future with less than optimism. 
     I've been working with college seniors and juniors in a leadership training and legislative environment. We've worked 11 hour days in amassing a great deal of information, doing evaluation and rendering critical decisions.  I am in awe of their ability to focus and exercise facility of mind.  There is also a sense of obligation to a set of core values that underpin their action.  I will leave this exercise with a renewed sense of hopefulness and expectation. In their hands, there is a future with capability, and excellence. There is also that horizon bending attribute of youthful potential.
     A little context-This is by a student and was done for a 
school video project.  Joe Bush and Zach Hemsey culled the images and wove together this extraordinary timeline.  
     When I was president/ceo of a documentary and media production company I took great delight in "discovering" young talent, people with skills like Joe and Zach.  What boggles my mind is how young these extraordinary visual artists are.
     This is a generation that has grown up with gadgets in their hands, and man can they make them work!
See you down the trail.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


    OK, so the joke about West Nile Mosquitoes wasn't in the best of taste, but neither was it dangerously offensive. It seemed a harmless attempt with an unintended racism, but it cost Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou her trip to the Olympic games and earned her ignominy.
     This is troublesome.  It once again moves private communication, in this case via Twitter, into the public arena.  In truth the joke was intended only for her followers, in a sense a private arena.  However we can no longer pretend that social media, even if directed to specific users, is like an old fashioned snail mail letter.  One more encroachment upon personal space perhaps, but the way it is in this age. 
     But even given the questionable nature of the joke, is that really grounds to ban an athlete from participating?  If she had told the joke just to fellow triple jumpers, or her coach, it probably would not have resulted in her expulsion.
      I question the fairness and proportionality of the move to kick her out of the games.  As another athlete said, it is a new age.  So it is, and if you are an athletic star, I guess you should be on your best behavior- always.  Just like Soccer, NFL Football, NBA Basketball players always are, right?
       I think she could have "scolded", but being expelled is
an Olympic blunder.  
     Luke-climber, hunter, fast and preferring the high ground.
    Tree, car, fence, house-all places from which he can watch.
        Brother Hemingway follows older brother.
    But as far as core competency, Hemingway rests well.  He's an expert at taking it easy.

    Luke, in his solitude.
See you down the trail.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


     The Arizona Biltmore is one of those special places. A rich history and an elegance of another age makes it a place
worthy of returning to. It is also a photographer's dream.

    I'm back for a round of meetings and enjoying the visual texture.  People think they see Frank Lloyd Wright's work here. In a sense they do.  The architect was Albert Chase McArthur who was mentored and guided by Wright.

 It's been a hang out for stars since it opened in 1929. In what could be one of pop cultures greatest disconnects, Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas here-in the Valley of the Sun.

 Every American President since Herbert Hoover has stayed here.  One night Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra and Liza Minelli surprised late night patrons with an impromptu performance in the famed lobby bar.

  Of course this time of year it is a tad warm.  At this writing it is 100.  It is bound for 108.  The evening cool may get down to 86!
   See you down the trail. (in the shade)

Monday, July 23, 2012


     "It may be different elsewhere. But a democratic society-in it the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may."
      John Kennedy said that a little less than a month before he was killed.  He was speaking at Amherst College October 26, 1963.
       "In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation."
       I wonder how many writers today concern themselves with such lofty concerns. Maybe they do in little pieces and then over time, taken in mass, it adds up.
        It's  harder to get your voice heard through the mass of signals that fill the public square. Digital media, social networks, cable, broadcast, the whole universe of film and print are choked with content, much of it simply trying to out pace the others.  In some cases outrage and anger get attention. Those may be genuine, but are they the visions of truth JFK spoke of?
       The more I watch Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom the more convinced I am he is serving his vision of truth. Here's why I think so.  
       The modern media, in all of it's iterations, does more to shape our sense of reality, expectations and vision of government than most people make themselves aware of. As consumers of the din we rarely give ourselves the time to ponder the impact of what we consume.  We think more about what we eat, than consider what we put into our heads though we spend hours a day consuming information flow.
        Sorkin's work cuts to the quick.  Some criticize the "preachiness" of it.  I don't see it that way.  I think he is offering a valuable insight into the media machine that shapes our attitudes and affects our sense of destiny. Yes, it is entertainment, but it also holds a mirror to a powerful element of modern life and Sorkin, as President Kennedy opined, lets the chips fall where they may.
     Each year, since our move, we make a point to attend
Coastal Discovery Day up at San Simeon.  The Discovery Center, joined by a host of other nature, environmental, park and educational groups hold a kind of carnival overlooking the Pacific.  It's for kids with lots of hands on activities, but each year we learn something and pick up a few interesting shots.  This year I learned about the hearing chambers and ear drums (bulla) of whales, elephant seals and dolphins.  Amazing technology at work in those sonar sensitive relatives.
  The Falcon expert had a couple of beautiful friends.
    An injured wing has grounded this Pelican, now in the custody of a rehabilitation specialist.  He eats 3 pounds of sardines or smelt each day.  He'd eat more if he were burning calories by flying.

    Here are a couple specimens of Elephant Seal skulls.
     In the frame below is the skull of a Dolphin.  The bottom piece, in the shadow, is the kind of sensor bone that transmits sounds from long, medium or short distances, using a different portion of the bone to do so.  The differing signals are then processed in a sophisticated brain.
      Skulls of native wild life.

  While it was sunny and bright up at the cove, south toward
Cambria, another micro climate existed, in the fog.
See you down the trail.

Friday, July 20, 2012


     The tragedy in Colorado is heart breaking.  It calls to mind Columbine, which also occurred in that beautiful state.  That incident, and other school yard shootings were
a focus of VIRUS OF VIOLENCE, a documentary I produced and directed featuring Martin Sheen, and Col. David Grossman, one of the world's foremost experts on killing and mass homicides. 
       A group which has spent years researching violence and causal factors is The Center For Successful Parenting-link here. They have funded and published results on brain chemistry and violence, and in the wake of this most recent outrage, it is worth a visit.
       As a reporter I was on the scene of wanton violence and I could never escape a sense of guilt.  My life proceeded as I surveyed  and covered acts that would forever change and scar many others. This weekend most of us will share that disconnect as we proceed with our lives, while in Colorado the pain and suffering is unimaginable. 

See you down the trail.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


     Mitt Romney is creating trouble for himself.  His wife Ann has thrown fuel on the fire. But there are a lot of hypocrites being exposed, even if not their tax filings.
     Yes, Romney should release his previous tax reports, but then so should President Obama and every member of the House and Senate.  That's my take at least.  Every one who stands for election should be honor, if not duty, bound to release their tax reports.  If you stand in the public square and ask your fellow taxpayers to "hire" you, to pay your salary and your benefits then yes, by all means as your employers we should see your records.
     It is disingenuous and worse to demand that Romney release his filings and refuse to volunteer your own. All we can do is speculate how the wealthy Romney might appear to us through his tax records, but his wife hinted as much when she said something about there would be more to criticize.  It could be that way for many of the 100 members of the Senate and the 435 members of the House as well.  
     Official Washington has become a kind of club with privileges, probably excessively so.  If it is good enough for members of Congress, should it not also be good enough for 
their employers-you and me?  I'm talking about insurance, pensions, inside options on stocks, perks, favors and privileges.  If every tax paying citizen is not entitled, then why should "official Washington" be entitled?  
     Plumbing out tax filings sort of gets at that itch. But it is only a little scratch at a big problem.  Government professionals have become a class unto themselves.  We used to mock the old Soviet Union where the pals of the politburo were "more equal" comrades than the proletariat. Well, to quote the Beatles "Back in the US, back in the US, back in USSR, boys!"
     Give 'em up Mitt. Give 'em up Peosi, Reid, Boehner, Ryan and for that matter, Geitner, and every member of the cabinet and everyone on Capitol Hill. What are you hiding?
      We continue to play with our newly claimed hill top.
From collected driftwood and an old thrift shop mirror, Lana created a hanging for the fence.  I love the way it 
captures the neighboring mountains.

    It is dry here, but that is normal for the Central Coast this time of year.  Not so normal for some of you who are suffering through historic droughts.  We hope you get the rain you need, soon.
      See you down the trail.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


      One of the all time great driftwood beaches is the stretch from Shamel Park to Moonstone Beach in Cambria.  
       I wonder what tourists do with all of the pieces they haul off the beach.  I imagine mobiles, picture frames and other art creations populate homes and serve as souvenirs.
     Some of the building though, never leaves the Moonstone, Shamel Park beaches.
     Here's a quick look at a couple of nearly "permanent" driftwood castles.
See you down the trail.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


    Fifty-seven (57) years ago today, Disneyland opened in Anaheim California and America was changed.
      We were married and making our first trip to California when I saw the magic kingdom for the first time.  Lana had been there as girl, shortly after the opening in 1955, but to me it was always the place I saw on television or in magazines and desired to visit. Until that day in 1969 when we passed through the front gates and onto a sun blessed main street it had been an aspiration.  
       I was overwhelmed by the light, the color and yes the true happiness the place exuded.  Years later I would meet with Roy Disney and other of the wizards and learned how things were painted, planted, laid out were all done to maximize the visual aura and appeal. It worked.  Of course the natural infusion of light is simply a California "special effect," but everything else was designed to capture, hold and maintain a youthful innocence, suspension of disbelief and joy.
       It was a natural extension of California light, color and mood, enhanced by the design and creative genius of Walt, Roy and their teams.  I have since learned there are real life main streets that come close to the same vibe as the Disney version.  Not surprisingly, most of those idyllic  villages are also in California, dotted around the golden state. Yet you can find them elsewhere, though too rarely.
      I wonder, though, if local communities would work as hard to maintain those charming towns, villages and small cities if it were not for the model of Main Street in Disneyland?  All too many places in America have seen their hometown main streets disintegrate under the competition of shopping malls. 
       And in what might be the ultimate "proof" of my hypothesis is how so many shopping mall developers have now begun to create "life style" centers, you know those rows of shops, restaurants and plazas that look like they were modeled after Main Street in Disneyland.
       It was July 15, 1955-the middle of the year, the middle of the optimistic '50's in the middle of the century that a kind of magic was loosened on America.  Where else but in
California would it be forever right, to be forever young of heart?

Spotted at a winery

See you down the trail.

Monday, July 16, 2012


    This weekend's Bastille Day in France kicked my imagination into high gear.  Yea, yea, I know history calls that era in France, "The Reign of Terror." Well, the French do tend to over do things on occasion, but this latest LIBOR mess has me fantasizing on what to do with bankers!
    The good and real news is that some solid experts are paying attention to the weasel cretins in banking.  The Systemic Risk Council, funded in part by the Pew Trust is on the case. Here's a clip from the PEW website.
    Here in the U.S., the Dodd-Frank law was designed, in part, to eliminate systemic risk — that is, the idea that the failure of one institution could be big enough to bring down an entire economy. Implementing financial reform has taken longer than expected, though, and that has many watchdogs increasingly on edge. 
Count Sheila Bair among the concerned. Last week, Bair, the former chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, announced she will be leading a new private sector group called the Systemic Risk Council whose mission will be to encourage reform. 
The council’s members are a who’s who of regulators, lawmakers, and academics, including Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; Brooksley Born, a former chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; and Paul O’Neill, who served as Treasury secretary under George W. Bush.  
     I urge you to learn more at this link. It is a high powered group.
       As I see the other banker shenanigans, thinking of Stephen King style scenes, I'm hopeful Shelia Bair and SRC will help.  Just in case you too harbor thoughts of malice toward  the slimy thieves of banking, here's a thought from Thomas Jefferson.

If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their  currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks…will deprive the people of  all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered…. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs. – Thomas Jefferson in the debate over the Re-charter of the Bank Bill (1809)
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” – Thomas Jefferson

    It was another enchanted night at the Painted Sky in Harmony.  One of the greats was back in the room.
     Michael On Fire is the progenitor of a love fest, or maybe a happy reunion looking for a place to happen. He is a story teller, charmer and entertainer who lights a room, fills it with image and music and delivers lyrics that get inside your heart and head. He's like a troubadour Horton Foote. A writer who conveys power and history in his message.
      As in the words of one of his songs he "makes thunder and brings back the sun." Michael is one of the most intelligent lyricists working, but he also delivers a poetic history.  His Apache Warrior is a case in point.  
      To write as intuitively and sensitively as he writes, you need to bleed your soul. You don't sing of "meeting angels I've abused" without uncorking a deep musical spirit. His tunes ring in a rhythm and cadence that moves your feet and stirs your heart. You rock in the joy and marvel at the story.
      Playing with a band he marshals a power that surrounds you. As an acoustic artist accompanied by only a drum he is like a sculptor who shapes meaning with an elegance of economy. A guitar, a voice and a drum beat evoke visions.
      Michael is an artist whose music delights and haunts.
Over the decades I've seen big acts, major stars, impressive tours, but there is something about Michael on Fire that connects like no other. He is singularly peerless. You simply need to see or hear him. I will make a point of catching him whenever he is in the region.  Watch for his tour coming your way.
      A post on an earlier visit and a sample of his music can be found at this link. You can enter Michael's site by linking here.
      DAY FILE

See you down the trail.