Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Bully of Baldwin Park - Ricardo Pacheco

Ricardo Pacheco in a jumpsuit
According to, a bully - Boo l ee - is "a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people." Does Council Member Ricardo Pacheco qualify?

Over the last few days, Ricardo Pacheco has ordered city employees to fine people who have signs, which accuse him of corruption. On Sunday, there was a truck that displayed such a sign, and even though he was not authorized to, he attempted to tow the truck away. But without the authority to do so, he could not.

Let's not forget that Pacheco also attempted to sue a small business owner, Greg Tuttle, for a temporary restraining order because Tuttle was attempting to find out what Pacheco was doing with corporations in Santa Barbara. Pacheco spent $52,000 of city money to file this lawsuit. How that money relates to city business is still in question.

If that's not enough, Pacheco, Lozano, and Garcia have made a decision right before Thanksgiving (hoping that no one would discover it) to put a halt to an investigation into Pacheco's misconduct. Specifically, Council Woman Cruz Baca has accused Pacheco of assaulting her. Lozano halts investigation of Pacheco

Just so that we're clear: Pacheco is a heavy man, who is shoving and shouting at a woman. Citizens are wondering why the investigation was halted, because if he did nothing wrong, what's there to hide.

Steady reports are also coming in that Pacheco has threatened to put people out of business for displaying the signs that accuse him of corruption.

Pacheco's behavior reminds me, of a child who is out of control. We've all seen one. The child doesn't get his way, he starts kicking and screaming at others. Well, it seems like unfortunately, Mr. Pacheco has not grown out of this phase. The sad part is that when people behave like this on other's people's money and with the police force, they tend to amplify the harm that could be done to others.

Mr. Pacheco, if you or your friends are reading this, I have to repeat what the judge has already told you. It's time for you to grow up and move on. The majority of people in the City don't know you, and I think that's good thing, because if they did, they wouldn't like you. And the only reason you were elected again as that I'm convinced that you cheated the absentee vote.

You have to accept the truth: People don't want you representing them and don't appreciate the harm that you're doing to us now. You're a shame for us all and an example of what the worst of the human spirit looks like.

We know that without your title or position, you'll be washed up and have nothing left. Perhaps, in that period you can reflect on all the harm you've done and mature. To avoid ugliness for all of us, we'd hope that you would step down quietly. But knowing you, you probably want to leave in the most unpleasant of ways. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Seeing Guernica in Madrid, Spain

Picasso's Guernica
During my days in Madrid, I got lost over and over again, and in that lostness, I was able to eat great food and see great art. It seemed like Madrid was just one big maze, and in that maze, I could not find my way out. (Nor, did I want to.)

Being in such a maze led me to different tapas bars, and I would stop inside and order a Spanish champagne called Cava, and order some food.

There was one place called the Serafina, and I went there six times. The owner got to know me.

The first night I ordered risotto (Italian rice) with duck and truffle oil. I threw some salt on it and each spoonful was rich and fatty and bursted with flavors of robustness.

Another dish I enjoyed was these pieces of squid, which were cooked in champagne and served with caramelized onions over thin french fries. It tasted sweet and salty and from the sea.

I ate alone each time, but I did not feel lonely. Often times, I would just sit and eat and daydream about a life that could be. Other times, I would reflect on all the art I saw.

Often, I'd read from The Old Man and the Sea. It was the first time I read the novella. I was drawn into the story.

If this is what it's like to be lost, then I hope I'll never be found. Because, after one's found, can one be lost again? And if this is what it means to be lost, then I don't need to be found either.

I went to the Prado again. The first time was better, two years ago, but only because everything was new then. And because it was new, it was all exciting.

This time around, however, I noticed myself studying the paintings and trying to understand what the artist was trying to say. I could see what messages the artist was trying to stress, clearer than last time.

Hemingway stated that studying drawings and paintings helped his writing. Being at the Prado, I could see why.
Fighting Cats by Goya
One new painting I found, was one of Goya. He painted fighting cats. I so wanted to bring it home.

I thought that Jeh Pan, my cat, would appreciate seeing his European relatives on the wall. I think the right one looks more like him.

The day after I went to the Prado, I went to see Picasso's work. It was in seeing his works, that I knew the dead spoke to me. And I understood what they said.

I saw his famous Guernica. When I saw it, I could feel the awakening of a force inside of me; I could feel the great force of his human spirit.

To understand Guernica, you have to understand the Bombing of Guernica. During World War II, the Nazis bombed the tiny village of Guernica, in northern Spain, where women and children were mainly living. The affair horrified people, as the military attacked helpless civilians. The artists of the time were particularly in shock.

Picasso, then living in Paris, read the accounts of the Bombing of Guernica and decided to do something about it. He decided to paint what is now known as the great Guernica.

It's a 25 foot by 11 foot painting (which is very large indeed), done in black and white, in a cubist style, representing the horrors of war through fragmentation and fracturing and splintering and splitting of realities. It took him only 35 days to complete.

In preparation for the painting, he drew several sketches, which I saw as well.

Those sketches spoke to me. In those few lines, it was as if I was touching the pulse of a master artist. You could see the control and power in the drawing, and you could feel the force behind the artist.

But nothing could prepare me for seeing the final and actual work. I was in awe.

In Guernica, one piece, I could see the fragmentation, the incoherency, and the horrors of war. I could see how people in power destroyed the lives of the innocent, only to maintain and gain control. I saw the destruction of realities, and the pain and the torture of humanity. For me, if there was any main message, it was this: Is there any meaning behind this quest for control? 

You could see the brokenness of the bull and the horse (both Spanish national symbols). The whole work, echoes to its viewer, whether any kind of reality is left. You could see the horrified mother, who lost her baby in the bombings. And if you study the painting hard enough, you could see the secret harlequins and symbols of death, imbued into it. Nonetheless, it's very present (even if one can't see the themes consciously).

And lost in that hopelessness, though, the artists of that museum spoke to me, even though they're dead. And their message was very clear to me.

Although they have guns, germs, and steel, we can fight back by capturing the animus of the human spirit. These artists did so with their paintings.

I realized I can do so too, and have been doing so, with my words, words that capture the truth of the human essence. For they may have guns, germs, and steel, but we have something more: the expression of the soul - which rages and wages on, even when the guns have been shot, germs have been eradicated, and the steel has been pitted, rusted, and melted.

Picasso and the artist of his time are dead. But they still live on and have a conversation with us.

And they're able to do so, because they gave of themselves and their lives and their energy to stop the present evil of their days. And even if they considered themselves to have failed, they gave everything of themselves to try and fight on.

For certain, I was inspired, inspired by the dead, inspired by the dead, whom still live on in and through their works.

The story goes, that an SS officer entered Picasso's building in Paris (because he couldn't return to Spain), and upon seeing Picasso's picture of Guernica, asked him, "Did you do that?"

Picasso replied, "No, you did."

I was inspired. And that inspiration, gave me great hope in knowing that the work I've done (and will do) is not in vain. For even after my flesh and bones rot away back into earth, I know that an artist's work will live on.

While reflecting upon all this, in a tapas bar in Madrid, drinking my cava, I was reading Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea, who incidentally had conversations with Picasso. I found my favorite line.

In it, it says, "But I will show him what a man can do and what a man can endure." That's right: I'll show them what a man can do and what a man can endure. And the people watching will shout: "Olé! Olé! Olé!"

Thursday, November 24, 2016

In Madrid, buying boots

The lost alleys of Madrid
This is how my winter's journey began.

In the center of Madrid, I woke up at 02:00AM and couldn't go back to sleep; so, I put on my trousers, scarf, jacket, and boots and wandered through the alleyways of the city, lost in the dark and in the cold. People approached me on the streets; they wanted something from me. I wanted nothing from them.

As it's been said:

Let us go then, you and I, 
When the evening is spread out against the sky 
Like a patient etherized upon a table; 
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats 
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels 
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells . . . 
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?” 
Let us go and make our visit.

In my lostness, I found a chocolateria, a chocolate cafe, in one of the alleys. It's been around since 1897. I ordered a beer and a hot chocolate. Odd combination but hopefully the beer would put me out. I have jet lag, really bad. Really, really, bad.

I sat in the corner. A Brazilian family sat a few tables away from me. The boy laughed and smiled to drink his hot chocolate and eat his churro (a Spanish fried donut). His older sister smiles at me. They asked me to take their picture.

The beer was just ok.

But the hot chocolate was thick, goopy, sweet, and it felt silky going down my throat. While I was drinking it, I realized I fell in love again with Madrid. I thought, Oh I wish my whole family could live here. Jeh Pan would love it. Mother would too. So, would my brother. Where else could I go, and find a place like this a walk away?

I went back to my hostel and went to bed. I woke up late in the morning. Really late. I have jet lag really bad. I did everything I could to avoid it, but it didn't work.

I had to walk to the Prado Museum today. On my way, I passed the bakery. I walked a good distance passed it, but the smell of freshly baked bread drew me back.

Inside, there were many people in the bakery. It smelled so good. I changed my plans and stayed inside.

There were so many people inside. I found a space at the counter. This was a place where people ate, standing at the counter, not sitting down.

I asked the lady at the counter, "Que es le favorito postre?" (What is your favorite pastry?)

She told me to get the cream tart. I ordered it with coffee and milk. I ate it. It was warm. It was good. I was so happy to eat such nice food again. The smell was overwhelming. It smelled hearty and like burning beer.

But I was jet lagged, and I hated it. I felt like my body controlled me, rather than I it.

A few days ago, I flew from Los Angeles to New York to Madrid. I always get jet lag bad, flying East.

And it didn't help that I stayed in a bad hostel my first two nights. It was an old apartment with strange people. One guy was in his pajamas, until 05:00PM every night. While I was trying to sleep in my room, to have a nap, to recover from jet lag, he would barge in and use our balcony. He wasn't even staying in our room. And every time he did, he'd wake me up.

Because the floors were old and creaky and squeaky. So, I'd wake up.

There was some guy from the Ivory Coast in our room. He was tall and black and his skin shone because it was so dark. He spoke French, and he spoke it loudly. He tried to look rich and impressive, but I knew he was not rich.

He would talk loudly on his cell phone, until I finally had to tell him, in my frustration, with a pillow covering my face, "Please go outside and talk. I'm trying to sleep."

There was a Japanese girl in my room. She asked me several questions, like what time it was. I think she was trying to flirt, but my body was so tired and miserable, I gave her the time, then tried to fall back asleep, which I could not do.

And somehow, somehow, these Korean guys asked if I spoke English because they needed help calling the bank, but the guy helping them only spoke Spanish. To everyone's surprise, I translated from Spanish into Korean and vice-versa. (I doubt Spaniards learn Korean, and Koreans learn Spanish, but somehow these problems fall on my lap, even halfway across the world). Their problem was solved incidentally.

I thought to myself, Oh, how I hate this place.

Then one night, I woke up at 03:00AM, and two Spaniards from Granada and a half-naked Romanian guy were in the kitchen chatting. They invited me to sit with them. I explained I had horrible jet lag. They poured me glasses of beer. I downed it, hoping I'd be able to fall asleep. They took selfies with me.

Why do these people want to take selfish with me? (He wasn't the first person.) But, they gave me beer. So, why not?

It worked. I fell asleep, but still woke up near midday, when someone entered the room, and the floors started creaking and I woke up again.

There were only two restrooms in the entire place and probably about 15 people staying there. I had to wait so often to use it.

During my time in the hostel of horrors, one good thing happened. I haven't purchased boots in 10 years. My last pair were so old and worn and the bugs had ate through the cushioning, I had to throw them away. I've been so busy, I haven't been able to buy another pair of boots in over a month.

I finally found a place in the central of Madrid, which sold these leather boots, that fit me perfectly. I was instantly in love with them. Because I'm short, I liked the fact that they made me a few inches taller. They were also a good price because the Euro is crashing in currency. I felt like a nobleman (at least in my mind) wearing them.

I tucked my khaki trousers into my leather boots; so, the boots looked stronger. But that was all the good that happened at my days at that hostel.

So, after the second day, I went through my old emails and found the last place I stayed at. I booked my spot, which was cheaper, better, and, right in the center of the City.

Funny enough, the hostel owner recognized me. I told him about my last time there, and he said, in Spanish: "Of course!"

After a few days of staying in the center of the City and eating wonderful food and seeing art that changed my life, I fell in love with Madrid again. I told myself, I wish I could save up enough money so I could live here. I'd bring my family and my mom's cat too. Jeh Pan would love it here.

(Would he really?)

But between us: It's only in dreams.

* * *

Post script: Thank you to my benefactor for the early Christmas present to see my friends in Europe. I really needed the break.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

On what it's like to write a legal brief - the long marathon

These law few weeks, I had to relive what it's like to write a legal brief. Almost every day, I returned home with that dreaded feeling of fatigue and an unthinking mind. (It's the kind of feeling you get from sitting through hours of traffic; your body may not be tired, but your mind is exhausted.) Now that I'm done writing those briefs, I wanted to share what it's like writing them.

A person (who will go unnamed) said to me once I don't really work, because all I do is write. I actually fell into believing this lie, when another friend told me to snap out of it and reminded me the difficulties of writing.

It's true, to an extent what that unnamed person said. Writing a legal brief won't get my hands dirty, and I'm not physically laboring. No.

And a judge once gave a speech to our class and reminded us, that we, as lawyers build the invisible. We don't architect or construct buildings or bridges or tunnels. Our work is not physically visible once complete.

(And that always got to me, because I would say that the work I put into things can take just as much energy as drafting an architect's blueprint for a house or building, and nobody will ever see it. What's worse, what if you write a labor-intensive brief and the judge doesn't even read it. Has happened to me.)

No, essentially, it can seem like the work I do is meaningless and that nobody will ever see it.

* * * *
Before I begin working on my brief, I know, deep inside, that it's going to take a lot of work. So, a bit of necessary procrastination kicks in. It's almost like, I have to mentally prepare myself for the day's writing ahead.

I start the day at my favorite cafe in Pasadena. I order an iced latte with half and half (American, for half cream and half milk), not regular milk. I have to pay extra for the cream. It tastes a lot better with cream.

I wish the cafe would begin using full cream. Maybe, I need to make the suggestion.

I sit down with my iced latte and computer. I drink the latte. I love the buttery taste.

I write emails to my friends. It makes me feel better.

I try to read Scripture, from time to time. (I've been bad at disciplining myself to do it, but when I do, I feel of sounder mind and at greater peace.)

I like to get my bills or other errands sorted out. It makes me feel like I'm getting something done, and it makes me feel like I have some control over my life. When it gets done, I feel like my life is ordered and clean, even when it's really not.

I wrestle with myself next on how much longer I should stay at the cafe. People are watching me; that's the kind of people who come here. They watch people and want to be seen. I tell myself: It's good I have so much to do; it makes you look like you have a purpose.

The time is ticking. Should I go? No, stay and kill time. The time is ticking. Should I go or stay? Every time, it's the same string of thoughts; it's the same fight. But, somehow I force myself to go.

I walk to the library, which is about three fourths of a mile. The walking is good, because it helps me think through what I'll need to do today.

There's a small wooden desk with a study wooden chair that's in one of the legal sections at the library that I go to. I try to grab it every time I work. In this case, I've had to go to the law library every day for several weeks.

Out of my bag, I pull out a sheet of paper. Written in the corner, it says: "What you need to do tomorrow?" After I finish every day, I write down all the work that needs to get done for the next day; so, I can pick up where I started. It's my map for the day.

On one day, it said I had to look up certain cases. I go to the shelf. Take down a book. Find the case name. Look up the case online. I read it. I evaluate it. I determine whether it's a good case. Then, I have to figure out how to adjust it; so, that the case actually reads better than what's stated. (The final skill is the heart of lawyering; I can't turn white into black and vice-versa, but I can turn grey into white or black.)

I sit for hours at the library, writing, reading, revising, thinking, and getting stuck. Writers get writer's block. Well, I'm convinced lawyering also comes with lawyer's block too.

It happens in one of two ways. Either, you can't figure out an intellectual or logical problem. Or, you know you're not saying what you want to say in words. A lot of time is spent, just solving how to get passed these intellectual roadblocks.

Often, when this happens too long, after hours of working, I pack up. I walk around the city for awhile. I sit down on a bench and watch the people. I answer texts. I call people. I get another coffee. I eat at the local British pub - where they serve me bone marrow on toast, or is it toast on bone marrow? I can't help but drink the jus (which is rich beef broth, boiled down to a liquid gravy).

Sometimes I tell myself, perhaps it'd be better to have a glass of wine with that. It'd be better with the food. Yeah, but I'd also be more tired later. I don't do it.

I always sit outside. It makes me feel better. It makes me understand my cat, who seems happier outside too.

I talk to the waiter. He asks me, "How's the food?"

"Good," I say. He smiles. I smile back. The smiles are genuine.

After that, I walk back to the library, and somehow, even though I haven't been thinking about it at all on my break, I seem to almost always have a solution to the problem I was working on. And the mental process is always the same.

It's as if I'm chopping a big chunk of wood. First, you have to make a crack in it. Then, you take a spike and drive it into the crack. The crack becomes larger and larger, and then it cracks into a smaller pieces of wood; so, you can chop it.

The intellectual solution almost always begins with a crack into the problem. Then, you see that it's going somewhere, so you drive into that problem - harder and deeper, until it starts to work itself out.

At the end of the day, I can feel it, when I can't work anymore. I start to feel sleepy, even though I'm not physically tired. I know it's time to stop.

I can keep going, but then I'll be driving myself into the ground. At a later point in time, I won't be as sharp and ready. And although I would still be able to work, I would make more mistakes or not be as agile later.

I pack up and drive back home. There's some traffic. Great, I think. My head is tired. Traffic. Tired. Traffic. A car cuts me off. That idiot almost got me into an accident. Calm down, not worth it.

When I get home, I take care of what I need to. Sometimes, the cat will spot me halfway up the street. He'll come charging at me: running and running. When I open the car door, he's right there. It cheers me up to see him running towards me from such a distance.

I pick him up. I hug him and say, "Jeh Pan, how you been, kitty?"

I take him with me inside. Inside, dinner is ready. My mother is always thoughtful. I tell her not about my day because what's so interesting about me staying at the library and reading and writing. Instead, I tell her that the cat spotted me and ran up to me.

She says, "Isn't it cute when he does that?"

I say, "It makes you feel so good."

At dinner, my mother's made me one of my favorite dishes. She steamed the eggs from our chickens and threw in pollack roe and salted the eggs. It's a Korean dish that's been modified with the fish roe, which is a kind of caviar. The egg is fluffy, salty, runny, creamy, and rich. The caviar inside makes it meaty and strong.

I pour the egg over my rice with Japanese sesame oil. I eat it all.

"This is good," I say.

She picks up Jeh Pan and tells him, "Time for you to eat too," in Korean.

He understands. He meows in response.

I thank her. I rest a bit.

After, I change into my gym clothes. I go running in the hills. I run for two hours. There I see the coyotes and the owls looking at me. They know me now, since I run there so often. I know them too.

While running, a flurry of ideas come at me about my brief. The introduction needs to change. Take out sentence. You sound too petty. Make sure to add more context on that idea. Make sure to revise section X or section Y. 

I tell myself, I hope I can remember all this after my run. Ok. There are five ideas that are important. Five. Remember. Five. Five. Five. 

I finish my run. My calves are sore. I drive home. I tell myself, five.

When I come home, I take out a sheet of paper and write down the five ideas.

This is like studying for the bar. This is like a marathon. I just want it to be over already.

I shower. In the shower, I'm thinking, you still have a long way to go before you rest.

I lie in bed. It can only be about five minutes before I fall into sleep. I know that I'll be doing almost exactly the same things tomorrow. I want this to be done already. But I tell myself, don't think such things. What would be the point? The negative thought would just consume more energy, and if I don't manage this right, I won't finish? And if I do, it won't be the way I want to finish.

The last thought I can remember is: I hope this will all be worth it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Ricardo Pacheco and Baldwin Park Retaliate Against Free Speech Again

After Greg S. Tuttle placed a banner on his wall which says "Stop Ricardo Pacheco Corrupt Politician", the City of Baldwin Park, under the orders of Ricardo Pacheco, issued him a warning to take down the banner or be fined with a citation.

In response, the attorney, Carol Sobel wrote a letter to the City that having such a banner was an expression of Free Speech and that the city was in violation of the Constitution to fine someone for presenting it.

After receiving the letter, instead of withdrawing the warnings, the City ignored the letter. Then, the City instead issued a fine to all those who had the banner.

I don't know if my readers are getting bored of reading the same types of First Amendment retaliation stories on my blog. But, it's almost always the same type of response in Baldwin Park. If City officials or directors don't like what you say, they try to bully you into taking back your speech. I mean, how many more lawsuits and court orders do we need, to educate the city officials that the people of American have the right to speech, even if it is offensive or distasteful.

Long time readers from my blog will remember the Mayor sued me for a restraining order because I booed him at the park. Judge said I had First Amendment rights.

The Mayor also ordered me arrested, strip searched by a woman officer, and jailed me for passing out leaflets. The City was sued in that case and settled for a good sum of money.

Then, two council members and the Mayor sued my client, Greg Tuttle, because he was watching what they were doing at their corrupt conference in Santa Barbara. The judge told them, again, that citizens have a right to Free Speech and to participate in democracy.

I don't think the Mayor of the Council Members in this city are ever going to get it. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What I did when I was younger . . . Practice Investing

Dear Christian, Lyle, and Alex, and others,

In my days in far, far aways lands, I met several people, both young and old, whom were lost in their direction in life. It made me realize some of the practices I actually did correctly, while I was a student in university. Although I wrote two posts on what I wish I knew, here's one lesson I did correctly. I wish I could've told one of those people the following lessons: While you're young, practice investing.

I meet many older people these days, and they tell me they're worried about their retirement because they don't have enough. But when they were younger, what were they doing with their resources?

Everyone knows that one should save when they're younger and be disciplined about it. But for some reason, why is it that at the prime of people's life, they didn't invest?

It's like everyone knows that the tortoise beats the hare, in Aesop's fable. Although the tortoise was slower, he kept along; while the hare, being faster, sprinted and rested, and sprinted and rested. In the end, the tortoise won the race, even though he wasn't expected to, and he was much slower.

The tale can be lesson in investing as well. We admire the 21 black jack player, who could break the casino's bank and make a killing in a few plays. But we don't pay attention to the old man, who invested a certain amount of money in his bank account every month for 40 years.

Think about this: Why is that? (So, we all know that slow and steady wins the race, but people don't practice such principles. They can only regret it, looking backward.)

And more importantly, investment is not limited to money. The most important asset to invest at your age is it invest in your skills, experience, and education.

That resource requires time. And it's something that money can't buy or take away.

Remember, the rich and poor have the same amount of time. The rich can't buy more. And the poor can't sell more. Everybody has 24 hours in a day, and they all have seven days a week. When you're young, you can use time to your advantage, especially because none of you have families yet either.

When I was at university, I worked dogged hours, starting the day at around 09:00AM and finishing at 01:00AM to 02:00AM. I lived on campus; so, I didn't have to commute, saving even more time. Essentially most of my time was spent on learning, and it paid off greatly later. I was able to graduate with two degrees in arts and science.

You don't have to take things to such extremes. But all the formal education I invested in, really paid off later, and all of it opened different doors later in my future. I couldn't foresee this at the time I was in university.

Also, I want you to remember, investing in yourself isn't just limited to just a formal education. That's only part of it.

While I was away, I met a local who told me he'd never hitchhike because it was too dangerous. I don't know if it's because the younger generation is different, or the people I'm meeting just lack confidence, but I'm finding that younger people have seemed to lost their taste for adventure and that drive to experience and see the new.

I can't tell you how much my experience in foreign countries changed my life. When I was 18, I was poor, but still managed to get to England - where I studied my physics. I bought the nose-bleed seats to watch live Shakespearean plays. I remember I had no money to eat at one point; so, I picked wild black berries and learned to make jam. I had to buy rabbits from the butcher (it was during the time of Mad Cow Disease, and Swiss beef was extraordinarily expensive). Nonetheless, I really loved my time in one of the greatest summers England ever had.

And when I was 19, I studied in Seoul, Korea, and Beijing and Shanghai. When I was 20, I did my field work at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

So, of course I feel grieved and sad, when I see that you three always spend your summers in Baldwin Park, (the City of No Hope) especially because there's new and fascinating worlds to be explored. (But you have to make it happen.) And it's meant to be done, when you're young.

For this, I'm grateful for my both my parents - who encouraged my brother and I to travel a lot. They always told us, it's a lot harder to see the world, when you get older. And I can now see, they were correct.

I end with a lesson that a professor of education, Chip Anderson often told his students. He said that studies indicate that what people do from 18-26 become permanent lifestyle habits for the rest of their lives. It was an encouragement for students to practice good habits during that time.

I can say that what Chip said is true. I generally see that people become set in their ways, and what they do at this age is what they do in later ages: for better or worse. So, invest now.

Time is a precious resource. And you have it. No wonder why the Scriptures say: "Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days." What it means is that you have to make a choice everyday to seize the day, because if you go with the flow, your time will be wasted.

I guess that's it. Those are the three lessons that I've reflected upon for you on my days away in a land, known to only a few, and known well by the sea, sun, and sands.

Friday, November 11, 2016

What the Trump-Clinton election taught the world?

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons we can learn from the Trump-Clinton Election of 2016 is how establishments are so out of touch with the majority of the American people. At least in my lifetime, I haven't seen all the media polls, regardless if it was newspapers or television, be so wrong.

I'm asking people, and quite often, how did this happen? I haven't received a satisfactory answer.

One person told me it was methodology. Another person told me that people weren't honest with answering the polling questions. But is that enough to count for almost every news outlet being wrong?

I think either one of two possibilities happened. Either, the media giants had their own personal agenda to promote Hillary and skew the polling results, or the media is really out of touch about what a significant number of American people want. Or, it could be both.

One professor, who wanted Hillary to win, predicted Trump would win. He created a model by looking at over two hundred years worth of American data and put together 13 factors that tells you if the incumbent party or the opponent wins. His article is here.

It's becoming clear, however, that major establishments, (corporations and government agencies) are becoming out of touch with the common wants and desires of the American people.

The other week, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company asked me personally why I no longer wanted his company's product. I wrote him a lengthy email, explaining why. (He didn't respond, but I hope it gave him more perspective.)

I think Mr. Bernie Sander summed up the lesson of this election well. He said, "Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and establishment media."

To understand what's going on, I think all of us should become better scholars of history. Human affairs, I believe, repeat in a cycle. There's birth, growth, maturation, decline, and death. And it starts all over again.

So, where are we in the cycle?

When I was away, in a far, far away land, I was studying the Gilded Age of American history. The Gilded Age was from 1870 to the 1900's, which I think no human being alive would have remembered. It was right after the reconstruction period of the Civil War. It was called the Gilded Age from a story Mark Twain wrote, about a world full of social problems, which was thinly covered with gold. (So, the outside looked beautiful, but it was corrupt inside.)

The most famous political machine of the day was Boss Tweed and his Tweed Ring. By today's estimates, he could have stolen a billion dollars from New York City's treasury. The three players who brought him down was a cartoonist, a lawyer, and the New York Times. Doesn't that sound like some of our political players today?

Here's what the all-knowing Wikipedia says about the Gilded Age: "The political landscape was notable in that despite some corruption, turnout was very high and national elections saw two evenly matched parties."

One big social problem of the Gilded Age was the discussion of illegal immigration, except back then it was from the Irish, and not the Mexicans and Central and South Americans.

Another big problem that the Gilded Age faced was the growing inequality gap, where the rich became richer, and the poor poorer. Sounds familiar?

If we truly are in the New Gilded Age, I predict that this will be period of the rise of social movements, protest, unrest, and the rise of religious and charitable institutions. (Isn't this already happening on a small scale in Baldwin Park?)

I end with this. When historians write about the time in American history, it's clear that the election of November 16, 2016 thrusted us (and America's consciousness) from one age to the next, for better or worse. When you and I woke up on November 17th, we entered a new era. The old has gone. The new has come. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

On Trump or Clinton?

I've said very little about our national elections, and I'm still going to say very little. But to not say anything wouldn't do justice to my international audience, and believe it or not, I have a lot of international readers: mainly from these three countries - Germany, New Zealand, and Russia.

I'm going to say two things about this election. First, I no longer have faith in the democratic vote in the United States. After discovering the vote-by-mail fraud in Baldwin Park, I figure my vote doesn't count. So, why even vote?

In criticizing our democratic system, Stalin said it best, ""The people who cast the votes don't decide an election, the people who count the votes do."

Some may say the voting fraud is localized to Baldwin Park. Ha!

Only if you knew how many experts across the country have been contacting me about what I know about voting fraud. We've been exchanging notes. I think the entire system is rigged (but more on that later).

If you don't believe me, investigative journalist Greg Palast proved how George W. Bush rigged the Florida election. Although the British papers published his article, the American ones wouldn't, until months after the election was finished.

Essentially, Jeb Bush, brother of George Bush, was governor of Florida at the time. Him and the Florida Attorney General and a company called Choice Point eliminated a number of black, democratic, and Hispanic voters by labelling them felons, when they weren't. Felons aren't allowed to vote in Florida. Presto! You kick off all these democratic votes.

Second thing. Although I'm only 34 years young, this is the ugliest, nastiest, and most uncivilized presidential election I've seen. From the primaries onward, everything has been about tearing and destroying the competition, instead of speaking about merits and facts. Really, we as a nation have to think long and hard about why we accept character assassination as a form of truth and as a quality of someone we want as a leader.

It reminds me of our local politicians here. Whenever we tell them truths they hate, they call us names, ranging from fabricator, wife beater, and being a person with an ax to grind.

No matter what happens, as a seer and an oracle, I can guarantee what's going to happen tomorrow for this county. Believe me. Listen carefully.

I know. I know for sure and certain.

And it's this: The sun will still rise tomorrow.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What I wish I knew when I was younger . . . On fighting through failure: Lazarus rise

Rembrandt's Sea of Galilee:
The disciples thought they were going to die at sea
Dear Lyle, Alex, Christian, and others,

On my days away, in far and distant lands, in a place remembered only by the sun, sea, and sands, I met a runaway youth, who was a nice enough lad but was living his life wastefully. It made think about the lessons I wished I knew when I was younger.

Here's the second letter on what I wish I knew when I was younger. The first letter was on practicing integrity. You can read it here: On Practice Integrity

The second lesson that I wish I knew was that you must fight back and defeat failure at all costs, and the only way to do so is to have more love and life inside of you than what's overtaking you.

After I graduated college, I was lost in an emotional and spiritual, violent storm, a very dark and tragic one indeed. The external forces that were taking me down, which included not having future plans or being able to go to the law school I wanted to, was more a result of my broken character and flawed values. I just didn't realize it, until the perfect storm came into my life. (Apparently, the Swedes say there's something about a perfect storm; it's supposed to be a force so violent that it can claim your life but tempered enough for one to survive it.)

I often kept blaming the depression and unhappiness that ensued, on what I couldn't accomplish, which primarily was getting into prestigious graduate school. You know you're doing this, when you say, I'd only be happier, if I had X, or Y, or Z.

At that time, for some reason, at that point in my life, I just couldn't achieve the score I needed to get in. I had everything else.

It sent me into a depression and a self-talk, where I felt like I wasn't good enough. It made me feel like all the years of my education, all the hard work I put in, all the sacrifices I made, and all the time I spent, was in vain. (That's the reason I said in my first letter, I tell you, I wish I put more time into the relationships around me.)

How did I cope?

I was runaway kid when I was young. And runaway kids tend to become runaway graduates, and runaway graduates tend to become runaway adults. I ran away to Australia and New Zealand, and my parents both thought staying there for six months would do me some good.

Little did any of us know that a six week stint would turn into three and a half years, a permanent job, a masters degree, and receiving permanent residency, but that's all beside the point.

I had to stay away for that long. When the eye of the storm came into my life, which was a brief period where I could think straight and have a sober mind, I felt like the Spirit of God, gently asked me a question:

"Now that you've tried living your life your way, are you willing to try to living life in a godly way? Are you willing to die to everything you've dreamed of, worked for, and surrender your will to live the way I want you to live?

"If you do, I'll give you back new dreams, a new life, and a new vision."

The answer was a resounding, No - at least at first.

I wanted to be important. I wanted prestige. I wanted lots of money. I wanted to be recognized. I didn't want to live my days in New Zealand as a nobody, (which incidentally didn't happen; it was an amazing time there).

But after wrestling with the question for enough time, I think I died to what I wanted and what others wanted from me.

That voice was right: I had tried my way long enough, and I failed, absolutely, totally, and completely. Just as Apostle Paul in the Scriptures was blinded and led out of the desert by the spirit of God, I too had to trust the same thing was going to happen to me. And, it really did!

I suppose this message applies to anyone who has experienced a failed dream or a midlife crisis or is experiencing one right now.

One of two things, will happen. You'll realize that you're never going to achieve what you thought you could. Or, you'll realize you've achieved it, and it didn't bring you the satisfaction that you thought it would.

So, why am I writing this letter, and what's the point of all this?

Well, the first reason I'm writing this letter, is I remember trying to do research on what to do, when you fail like you realize you weren't going to be who you thought you were. Essentially, I was looking for anything that had to do with rebounding or coping with failure. And, all the literature was horrible or cheesy and useless.

In short: It sucked. That's why I'm writing this.

The point is this, if you failed, to the point where it shatters your soul, you probably were on the path of selfish ambition, as I was. Such a path is dangerous. No wonder why the Scriptures say: "Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not."

Then, realize, that it's time to start over and die to one's self, as mentioned in the last letter. Keep in mind, dying is a painful process. Then, you'll have to practice new values, to live again.

While going through all this, something that helped me keep perspective was the thought: "There is hope in the future. You have time to come back from all this. Just start now."

I think this applies, even to those who are retiring or retired. There's a second life to live.

Finally, it's important to remember that there is a power, a great, ancient and mysterious one that laid the foundation of the earth and universe. And if you believe in it, you're sure to defeat failure.

And that power is this: The dead comes back to life. (For the Christian and Jewish Scriptures refer to it, over and over again.) What has died, can never die.

For the war is in you and in me. Love, life, and light must conquer self, death, and the darkness inside to prevail. I don't always win this battle, but it's important to keep trying.

I hope that helps.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Breaking News: Greg Tuttle Sues Mayor Lozano and Council Members in Small Claims Court

Manuel Lozano
On Nov. 2, 2016 at around 06:30PM, Greg Tuttle, small business owner and activist served Mayor Manuel Lozano, Council Member Ricardo Pacheco, and Council Member Raquel Monica Garcia for malicious prosecution and invasion of privacy, for taking his picture without his consent, in Santa Barbara small claims court. Trial is scheduled on January 5, 2017.

Here's the background of the claim. On January of 2015, Greg Tuttle witnessed Ricardo Pacheco and Monica Garcia meeting with big business to discuss city business in Santa Barbara. He also figured out that Lozano took city money to go on this conference, but Lozano failed to show, until he found that Tuttle would be there.

Pacheco spent $52,000 in city money, alleging that Tuttle was dangerous, crazy, and a lunatic and obtained a restraining order to shut him up and chill him from investigating him more. Paul Cook, a local attorney in Baldwin Park, took up Tuttle's case free of charge.

After Cook up Tuttle's case, Lozano and Garcia joined in the lawsuit, and also filed a restraining order against Tuttle. At trial, Cook defeated the Mayor and the Council Members. The judge commented on the case and said that Monica had some serious problems, and that the entire lawsuit was meritless because Tuttle was doing what every good citizen should do, and that is participating in democracy.

Tuttle decided to sue Lozano and Garcia and Pacheco in small claims court for malicious prosecution and an invasion of privacy. He sued in Santa Barbara because that is where the event took place.

This is Lozano's second malicious prosecution suit because this is the second time Lozano sought a temporary restraining order against people who speak out against him. You would think by now, he would've learned his lesson: but nope.

Tuttle believes that he's setting an example for citizens all of the world that it is possible to hold public officials accountable.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What I wish I knew when I was younger . . . practice integrity

When you can't see where you're going, it's important to know
where True North is. 
Dear Alex, Lyle, and Christian and others:

During my days away, in far far away lands, I've been thinking about what I wish I knew when I was younger. I'm going to try to write three lessons I wish I knew when I was in college that I had to learn the hard way. Here's the first one.

If I could go back in time and change things, I would drive home the point that it's more important to do the right thing, even when it costs you, even when it costs you big. Isn't that what integrity is really all about?

Growing up, especially with a Korean father who demanded success, it was always stressed to me that merit, recognition, fame, and victory were the most important thing and that my self-worth was based on that. On some level, it's not bad to be driven, and men must be proud of their works and achievement. We can't give birth; so who are we if we don't have merit and achieve. But there are limits.

So, that kind of value isn't a bad thing on it's own, but eventually, I came to a point, where short cuts are presented for quick results. And that pressure builds and builds in you. And the fires and pressures, I assure you, will test the core integrity of your being.

I seen it so often in premedical students, whose immigrant parents told them they had to be a doctor. Some just couldn't compete. And I saw others, cheat and almost get kicked out of school. Once, I was in a class, where the student stole a microscope for lab and studied at home. He was destined for a great dental school, but then he was barred from acceptance. In his mind, at that point in time, he believed while no one was watching, he wouldn't get caught. But he did.

My own personal failures didn't involve cheating, but it involved making bad decisions and choices. It also had me putting relationships second. (If I could also go back in time, I wish I could've deepened my relationships with my college classmates too.)

Those failings I think became evident in a national interview I had. I just bombed it. And it was a big deal for UCLA that I was even selected. And I bombed it. And I think, I caved into the pressure of wanting to win, instead of doing what was really important.

In the end, fear took control. I had a pesky inner voice that said if I didn't win, I'd have no future. Looking back that was a lie. And, I listened to it.

Then, none of my future plans panned out. No wonder why the Scriptures say: "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death." (Proverbs 14:12 NIV) A simpler way to put it, is this: What you see, isn't what you get.

And the whole saga forced me to have a conversation with myself and see the deeply flawed values of my life. In time, those values had to die and new ones had to be awakened.

Driving home that point, the other day, I read a great quote by Peter Drucker, the great business managements scholar. He said, "Communication aiming to convert demands surrender." And that's exactly what I had to do: Die to my dreams, die to my beliefs, and finally, to die to myself. (The entire process is a lifelong discipline that I think I'll always wrestle with, and I don't know if I'll win every one of those battles with myself.)

So, if I could take it back, I'd tell myself: You do your best, and that's all you could do. Never, ever, ever, compromise yourself. (Of course, that's easier said than done.) And don't worry about the future; today has enough worries of its own.

I hope this helps.