Friday, September 26, 2014


Motto: "Proud to Serve" 


      It's Fleet Week in San Diego with many opportunities for the community to honor and celebrate the men and women of the military.
      It is during this time, on September 21-22, 2014, that the public is invited to visit the Naval Air Station North Island, and to enjoy free tours of three active US Navy ships. The chance to personally board and walk around these huge technological wonders is an opportunity that Ron and I could not resist.
      We found it interesting to drive through the main gate, and then drive through the base, normally off limits to the public, to the parking lot. NAS Coronado is the largest command center in the southwest region of the US. It resembles a small city and employs over 24,000 military and civilian personnel. It is also famous for being the Birthplace of Naval Aviation.
      After parking and going through security, we walked a short distance to where the buses were loading to head over to the ships. We were in line for about one hour. It started out as a cloudy morning, however, the sun finally came out and it was warm. Once we reached the docks, we had the options of boarding a destroyer, an aircraft carrier, and an amphibious transport dock.
      Our first stop was the destroyer, USS Pinckney (DDG 91), home based in San Diego. The uniformed Navy personnel conducting the tours and greeting the visitors were polite and friendly. There was plenty of time for questions during the one-hour tour. It did require walking up (and then down) six floors of narrow steep stairwells that were definitely not made for tall persons—at 5'7” that would include me. We also got to sit in the captain's chair at the bridge of the vessel.

      Our next visit was the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) which was launched in 1972 and weighs 101,600 tons. It is the super carrier of the US Navy and one of the largest warships in the world. Formerly based in Coronado, the home port is now Everett, Washington. At 1,092' in length, it is twice as long as the Pinckney (520 ft). It was fascinating to see the magnitude of the deck where aircraft are launched with the help of a catapult.To get to the flight deck, we rode the gigantic airplane elevator without walls.
      Finally, we boarded the USS Somerset (LPD 25), an amphibious transport dock based in San Antonio, TX. Commissioned in 2014, it's the newest ship in the Navy. Its namesake and motto “Let's Roll” are to honor the bravery of the passengers and crew on hijacked United Airlines flight 93 that crashed in Somerset County, PA. In addition, street names from Somerset are hung along the hallways throughout the ship.
      We then returned to the center, where there were dozens of aircraft, military boats, and vehicles for viewing. Most of them could be boarded, which was extremely popular with the children. We found the representatives at each display to be very informative.
      After four and one-half hours of walking and standing in the sun, we were tired and ready to head out. Unlike most events, this one did not offer food for purchase so we were hungry as well. On the way home we stopped at our favorite restaurant, the Coronado Brewery, where Ron enjoyed his usual bratwurst burger and beer.
      Thank you to the men and women in uniform who so valiantly serve our country. They deserve our support and prayers in this time of uncertainty in the world.




Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Photo from
     It seems as though top events often come to “America's Finest City.” AARP'sIdeas@50+ was definitely one of those. A long list of celebrities and experts that this event brought to San Diego included Martha Stewart, Guy Kawasaki, Kevin Spacey, Erin Brockovich, Arianna Huffington, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michio Kaku, Ph.D. The presentations were open to everyone; however, you needed to arrive at least 15 minutes early to get a seat for the most popular ones.
     Held annually, the next one will be in Miami, Florida, May 14-16, 2015. At a cost of $35 it's a great value.
     I enjoyed the opportunity to see Martha Stewart, who at 73 is still working and adventuring around the world. As business woman, writer, TV personality, and former fashion model, her lifestyle is beyond what most of us could ever imagine. Her home in Bedford, New York, has 350 miles of riding trails, and she still rides weekly. She hikes in Acadia National Park, which is near to her 35,000 square- foot home in Seal Harbor, Maine. A weekday might include a full day at the office in Manhattan, which is a one-hour drive from her home. The chauffeur drives her back in the evening after a dinner with friends in the city.
Always a proponent of helpful food, she drinks a green juice daily which is usually made with organic vegetables from her own garden. Exercise with a trainer is also on the regimen, three-four times a week. Her latest book, Living the Good Long Life: A Practical Guide to Caring for Yourself and Others, provides advice on living healthier and better as we age.
     A speaker who offered some amazing predictions about the future of the brain was the physicist
Michio Kaku. His recent book, Future of the Mind, reveals the latest secrets of the brain that are now being revealed due to the new technology in computers and high tech brain scans. This includes a “smart pill” that can enhance our cognition; being able to upload our brains to a computer; sending thoughts and emotions on a “brain-net;” controlling computers and robots with our minds. Scientists are now able to take rough photographs and videotapes of dreams with MRI machines. Among the future benefits could be advances that may someday eliminate the pain of mental illness and dementia.
     Another excellent presenter was Arianna Huffington, who is the author of 14 books, including the current best-seller, Thrive. She is the cofounder, president, and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. After collapsing from exhaustion in 2007, she learned to look at life in a new way. Making the point that our eulogies are never about money and success, but the other stuff: “what we gave, how we connected, how much we meant to our families and friends, small kindnesses, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh,” she has redefined success to creating a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder. She is from Greece, where aging is considered to make life richer.
     As we exited at the end of each day, the loud sound of drums could not be missed. We finally got up enough courage to sit down and join the drum circle that was open to everyone with instruments provided. It was a fun experience, no skill required. This might be a new- found hobby of mine—joining up with drum circles, after all I did play the bass drum in my high school band.
     Favorite quotes from the occasion:
 “Find what you love, and do it regularly.” -Martha Stewart
  “Life is like a train journey, some of the scenery is good and some is ugly, but the train keeps                          moving on.”                 -Arianna Huffington
“It's not about aging, it's about living—don't be defined by your age—embrace it.”
                                    --Jo Anna Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer, AARP

“Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.” -Rumi (a popular 13th century Persian poet that Arianna Huffington frequently quotes.)




Thursday, September 4, 2014


      It's Labor Day 2014, and I'm heading over to the Broadway Pier on the 9:30 am ferry. It's always a treat to ride the boat between Coronado and downtown San Diego, however, today it is particularly special because I'm going to visit one of the “ten best sand sculpting competitions in the world.”
     The US Sand Sculpting Challenge & 3D-Art Experience is normally held on Labor Day weekend at the B Street Pier in San Diego; this is the 4th and last day of the event. It consists of two levels of competition: World Masters, which are the best from around the world, and local teams. The first day was Friday, which would have been interesting; that's when they begin carving their masterpieces from large blocks of hard sand from river banks. They finish one day later. It's hard to believe they can accomplish these works of art in such a short time.
By Kirk Rademaker
      I first observed the Shoo-B-Doo-B-Doo sculpture near the entrance. The artist, Kirk Rademaker, is known as the Sand Guy and is one of the stars of Sand Masters on the Travel Channel. He is a local, and is often seen at the Coronado beach where he produces sandcastles in front of the historic Hotel Del Coronado.
By JOOheng Tan

      I continued my walk along the pier to see all of the masterpieces including the 2014 winners. The First Place masterpiece was titled, “Seed” or “Anything that provides Imagination for later work.” The artist, JOOheng Tan, is from Singapore. His works, showcased in 50 cities in 20 countries, have won numerous awards. The London Daily Mail refers to him as the Vincent Sand Gogh.

By Sue McGrew

      The second place winner was awarded to the sculpture, “Triquetra.” by Sue McGrew an American artist. She is also featured on the Travel Channel's Sand Masters. The sculpture is in the shape of a triangle with three large peepholes that depict a woman in various stages of her life: young, middle-aged and old. The following statement, that Sue wrote in long hand, was hanging in the wind near her work of art:
To those looking in, life is a mystery that can never by seen in full except by ourselves. Each day is just a sliver, a window into a stage of our life. We can try to freeze that moment in time with a picture, but it hardly captures the instant.”

By Melineige Beauregard

      The third place honor was given to “Peace of Mind,” by Melineige Beauregard. She is a world famous artist from Canada who won 2nd place at the 2013 Sand Sculpting Challenge. She describes her art as “a means of communication, a way to transmit the energy of life, to affirm its vastness and its beauty.”

We need a bigger boat
By John Gowdy
      The winner of the People's Choice award was called We need a bigger boat by John Gowdy. John is a retired fire captain from New Jersey who is now living in Italy. He is internationally acclaimed as an artist in several medias.
      I continued walking along the pier, enjoying all ten master works and the many team sculptures. At the end of the pier, there's a lovely view of Coronado and the bay with many boats passing by on this popular holiday weekend. In addition, I had the pleasure of seeing two tall ships: American Pride-USA and America-USA, from the nearby Festival of Sail—shooting their cannons directly in front of me.
      In addition to the sculptures, a festive atmosphere prevails here with live music, dozens of food vendors and art booths. I noticed the crowds increasing as the day went on—I was glad that I arrived early to avoid the lines.
      Afterwards, I walked about six blocks to enjoy a cup of coffee in the air conditioned Starbuck's, located at the Headquarters. This is the old police department complex that was renovated and reopened in 2013. It has become one of my favorite places to stop for coffee because of the location and surrounding architecture.



By Helena Bangert