Thursday, May 31, 2018

My First Opinion Gets Published In South Africa

Anyways, my first opinion (after trying for a couple years in Los Angeles), finally got published in Pretoria, one of the capitals of South Africa. Back home, the joke is that I had to come to one of the furthest places from home (over 10,000 miles) to do it and have some money stolen.

Anyways, the OpEd is about how some money got stolen from me in Stellenbosch, South Africa and how the government really needs to start prosecuting thefts, especially against tourist. (Property related crime is incredible in South Africa. There are more than half a million reported thefts in a year.)

Of course, I was upset about it all. But the publication of this story is a good example of how something positive can come out of a bad experience.

It shows how a petty theft can be transformed into a national discussion on justice for the State of South Africa. The victims of the story also thanked me and feel better. I'm really hoping change and justice will come out of this.

It reminds me of the Bible verse in Genesis 50:20 - "You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened. You have nothing to fear. . . ."

You can read my opinion here.

A special thank you to Pretoria News and Independent Online for giving us a voice.

If you're new to my blog and from South Africa, my most popular post on South Africa is on Cape Town. You can read it: Here.

Personally, my favorite places were the Blyde River Canyon and the Crags. Next up: Kruger National Park.

Update on June 5, 2018 - My opinion has also been republished in JoeBerg's The Star and Durban's The Mercury.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Road Trip to Blyde River Canyon

Top: Me, Melissa
Bottom: Mateo & Oliver
(From L to R).
We drove out of the darkness and came into the light, as we drove out of Nelspruit and headed North on our way to the Blyde River Canyon. I was in the worst mood, because I had an argument with the owner and a pathetic American guy the night before. I also slept badly. My mood brought down everyone else. And, because it was raining, the group was also gloomy. But as we started driving North, the weather and my spirits lifted. The grumpiness vanished with the sunlight.

About 30 minutes into the ride, that road-trip-feeling came over. Do you know what I'm talking about?

There was that sense of freedom and adventure and that sense of not caring about anything else in the world, except having a good time.

During the road trip, I told them my stories about taking a road trip with Volker in Germany from Goettingen to Hamburg to Berlin. The stories aren't appropriate to publish here, but we all had a good laugh in the car. (That was a crazy and fun trip, before my days of going to law school.)

When we arrived at our hostel, I wasn't going to start off on the wrong foot again with the owner.

She was French, so I went out and greeted her and said, "Bonjour Madame. Como ce va? Ce va bien?" (Good day, Madame. How are you? Are you good?)

She said, "Bien et toi."

"Bien. Mercie."

Us at the hostel, enjoying ourselves.
And that was the limit of my French. But she was very friendly and told us she upgraded our rooms from a dormitory to a private cabin.

When I walked into it, man, it was amazing. There was even a kitchen and our own restroom.

I told the group, "We have to have a braai. It's a South African barbecue."

We drove about 20 minutes away and stopped at a pub for lunch and drinks. It was so hot, I took off my shirt and the guys followed. It was just so nice to do nothing and be in the sun and to eat and drink.

Then we had to drive further to the supermarket. There, we got food for our BBQ, which included salad, avocados, sausages, pita bread, and Greek cream sauce.

But there was a big problem. In Hoedspruit, where we were, there alcohol wasn't sold on Sundays. And they wanted beer. I wanted red wine. And, so, we drove up and down for hours all over the towns looking to buy alcohol.

At one point, we even stopped to ask some local ladies if they knew. They didn't, and we laughed, because I said, "They must think we're crazy."

I finally pointed them to a local hotel next door to our place. And inside was a collection of classic cars. I fell in love with two, a 1920's Mercedes Benz and an old Porsche. There was also a beautiful Russian blue cat, which reminded me of my blue Siamese, Jeh Pan, except this cat had green eyes instead of his icy blue ones.

At the gift store, there was wine! And we bought two bottles, even though it was bit marked up. We were so happy and commented about how we searched everywhere, and in the end, the wine was just next door to us.

After, we drove away, I showed the bottles of wine to people and cars passing us. They must have thought we were crazy.

Melissa said we didn't do anything, except drive, eat and go to the supermarket. So, we drove out into the street and parked on the side of the highway. Oliver pumped up the music. And we just watched the sun set behind the mountains. The sky turned a bright red color. Again, the cars passing us thought we were crazy. One truck thought we were trying to hijack him, and he sped passed us at what seemed to be 160km an hour (100 mph).

After, we found some dry wood and started our fire for the braai. We grilled the food in the fire, ate crackers while waiting, and drank red wine.

The roasted Afrikaner sausage was magnificent. It tasted smokey and salty and yummy. We cut it up, put it in the pita bread with the salad and sauce. And it was so yummy. It went well with the wine. The only problem was we needed one more bottle of wine, which was already all gone.

After eating, we looked up at the sky and saw all the scattered stars. There were so many bluish-white lights up there; it was extraordinary. Being alone in the African wilderness, underneath the heavens - which went beyond anyone's imagination - really made you feel small and tiny in comparison to the universe.

I also made jokes about people, and we all started laughing. We told stories. I told them the story about how I met the wiseman of the mountains. And around 11:00P, we went to bed. That was our first day in the Blyde River area.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Meeting the Swiss in Godforsaken Nelspruit

Me, Melissa, Mateo, and Oliver
(From left to right).
I met a French-Swiss couple named Melissa and Mateo in Nelspruit, the capital of the Province of Mpumalanga. Getting to Nelspruit by a shuttle bus was a mission, and it's very dangerous if you're a foreigner. While you walk to the bus stop in JoeBerg called Park Station, aggressive people start following you and asking if you need anything. (I heard they're there to rob you.) So, you just have to keep walking and ignoring them. It's a scary experience.

I paid $16 USD from JoeBerg to Nelspruit, which is the closest entrance to the Kruger National Park from JoeBerg. Kruger is the most famous and largest national park in South Africa. Paul Kruger was the 19th Century President of the South African Republic. He was also a famous war hero for the boers, during their Boer Wars. Under his administration, he was able to apprehend those responsible for the infamous Jameson Raid.

As a result, they named the Kruger National Park after him. The Kruger is about 20,000 square kilometers or 7,722 square miles. To give you an idea of the size of this park, it's about the size of the entire country of Israel. The entire State of Maryland easily fits into the Kruger. So, it's huge. No wonder why there are 9 entrances into the Kruger.

To start with, I had an terrible time in Nelspruit. No wonder my host told me not to go to Nelspruit. Ian said, instead, to go to through the Komatipoort Entrance, which is close by the Crocodile River - where all the animals are at.

I felt like in Nelspruit, a number of businesses try to take advantage of tourists. First, I got into another argument with the Chinese restaurant, because they overcharged me on my bill. (This also happened to me in Port Elizabeth.) Then, there was a place called Nelspruit Backpackers, where the host's fridge was so full, and he had maintenance work start early in the morning. I couldn't sleep; so, I had to leave.

One of the worst experiences I've had in South Africa was at the Old Vic. Although the place was nice, the owner made me uncomfortable by pushing her tours on me - which were extraordinarily overpriced. She looked like someone holding in all her anger and frustration. Her one-day-Kruger-tour cost $137.50 a day. (Let me tell you, none of the locals would pay that price to see the Kruger). Her two day tour was closer to $400.

Also, a Swiss group brought some wine, instead of buying hers. I overheard her tell her manager, "If they bring their own wine again, kick them out."

She told me that if I didn't do a tour (implying with her), I wasn't going to see the Kruger. (Isn't that a little bit like black mail?)

I had to tell the manager, her boss was making me feel uncomfortable. The boss wasn't happy to hear it, especially from her employee, and long story short, we got into a big argument about it all. It left me feeling unsafe. Not hospitable or kind or generous at all.

Anyways, I did end up leaving that hostel with a French-Swiss couple and a Dutch guy. (Their photos are published in this post.) That was the good thing about going to Nelspruit was that I got to meet them.

We all met because the supermarket was 3 miles (about 5km) from the hostel, and the Swiss couple had a car. They drove us all one day to the supermarket, but Mateo struggled to drive, because it was on the other side of the road. And since it was night, I had to help direct him to the market, but even I got us lost twice in the dark.

In the end, we made it the supermarket, and we all cheered "Yay!", because it was an adventurous and difficult journey for all of us. It was also really nice to eat dinner together.

But they always seemed scared and lost. So, in the end, I said they were like children. And in the end, I would call them "My Swiss children."

I would joke that I was sorry that I didn't bring Swiss chocolate for them when they were bored or did a good job. They looked at me annoyed.

Well, the three of them took the expensive Kruger tour one day. And the hostel owner seemed pleased she made money off of them.

I, instead, went to a cafe to do some errands and rest. To be fair of the tour, the group came back happy because they saw so many animals. Besides seeing four of the Big Five (more on the Big Five later), they also saw a hyena, hippos, and a cheetah. That's a pretty good day in the Kruger if you see all that.

After the Kruger, we had to make dinner. Melissa made a salad. I cooked some ground beef, and we bought some tzatziki sauce and pita breads to have some Greek food. I bought some hummus as well, but when I opened it, it turned out to be moldy. Not good. (I returned it the next morning for a refund.)

I was in a bad mood though and didn't eat after arguing with the owner. Instead, an American guy (who was the kind of quiet guy that was pathetic because he sucked up to everyone) ate my food.

I told him, "So, you eat my food, after you take the owner's side in the argument?"

He didn't say anything but looked at me pathetically.

Well Mateo and Melissa wanted to go to the Blyde River Canyon. They asked me several times to go, but I was hesitant, because I wanted to see the Kruger. I was hoping that I could find a group or someone else who could drive in to take me.

But after arguing with the owner, I made up my mind to go with Mateo and Melissa to the Blyde River. The hostel wasn't a safe place for me to stay anymore.

That night, I had the worst sleep. There were two guys (from Colombia) and an old American guy who were snoring loudly, loud enough to wake the dead. Oliver woke up too and described it as a concert of snorers.

Then the rain started pouring, which made the room colder. I only slept four hours. (I've decided I can no longer stay in a dorm room of more than 4 people. I can't handle snorers anymore. I wonder why hostels don't have a room reserved for snorers if they could.)

At breakfast, I was grumpy and they could all feel it. I told them, "I'm still in a bad mood from arguing with the owners." The rain was pouring and pouring hard. The weather made everyone grumpier.

The owner of the hostel asked Mateo if she was taking me. When he said, "Yes," she looked angry.

I couldn't understand why. Did she only want me to stay for the money? Or was she mad that I had freedom to go, after all I'm the one who chooses how to spend my money. I didn't get her. She was a complicated person.

Anyways, we packed all our stuff, and the four of us were squished into a tiny car. Oliver and Mateo sat in the front. Melissa and I sat in the back. Melissa had to lift her feet on top of the luggage. I was crunched in the corner.

We drove awhile and ordered a coffee before we hit the road. It was raining and gloomy. And that's how I left Godforsaken Nelspruit. It reminded me of a line Jesus said, "And if some home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place and shake the dust off your feet." (Matt. 10:14 GNT). 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Icy JoeBerg, Now Heading to Kruger

Johannesburg Skyline
When I came to JoeBerg, I was in a bad mood from not sleeping enough and having a number of things go wrong. Two days into being there, an icy wind came from the top of the mountains and blasted through the city. I woke up in the middle of the night, because my head got so cold. I put my hoodie back on and went back to bed. Man, it reminded me of the Antarctic winds that blew through Wellington, New Zealand. The icy air would get into your blood and bones and chill the life out of you.

Where I stayed wasn't very interesting and inconveniencing. The hostel Rottweiler tore a hole in my luggage; thus, I demanded the owner repair it. He did, but not without putting up an argument for his dog's bad behavior. (The hotel was Ghandi's Backpackers; I don't recommend it. From Dusk till Dawn was a lot better.)

The dog also made a hole in my shirt, and I demanded a discount. The manager wasn't happy I demanded another discount. He was a naughty dog, because the manager didn't discipline him.

Then there was also this misbehaved kid, around age 10, that stayed in a hostel. I was trying to figure out the lady and the kid's story. Were they being smuggled from Mozambique? Was she really married? Why was staying in the room with her male "tour guide", if she was married? (He didn't seem like a tour guide to me.) If they were married, wouldn't the kid go back to his father and tell her about mommy and the tour guide?

They all claimed they were Angolans, who speak Portuguese. But they speak Portuguese too in Mozambique. Why were they in JoeBerg? The "tour guide" was also a Jehovah's Witness. It was all so strange.

I told the kid to stop once. He grabbed an American girl's scarf and started choking her by it. Then he stole food from some other guests. And he started begging from me. When he kept pestering me, I told his mother that she needed to control her child.

Was there any good staying there?

Well, on one of the days, I talked awhile to an American university student. That was nice. I got to know him, and he told me he was a double major in public policy and journalism. I advised him to change his major to religious studies instead of public policy, since he really enjoyed learning and studying cults, like Scientology. I told him he could write his honor's thesis on cults; he liked the idea. He said he didn't fit in with his group that were a bunch of "social justice warriors". I started laughing and told him that line was going in my book or screenplay one day.

And on another day, I met with my friend - who is also a client now. I'm doing some consulting work for him.

We ate at the mall. We had a swanky meal, where the people came and went and watched us eat. I wonder what they were thinking, while watching us. Obviously, we were having fun chatting.

I had two cappuccinos and a fried chicken burger and we shared some flap jacks. My friend had tea and bacon and eggs.

It was good catching up with him. I told him about my time from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. For some reason, I felt really accomplished to take my time and finish the Garden Route from Cape Town to PE by bus and hitchhiking and getting lifts from hostel guests.

My friend was like an uncle to me, guiding me on the spots to see and what to do. So, it was nice sharing what happened, the bad and the good and my impressions of the country. I told him though, there's one thing I have to admit about South Africans on the whole, and that is there incredible and amazing hospitality towards me and their sense of duty to protect me.

On my final day at the hostel, I found out more of the unfriendly manager's story - the one who had the naughty Rottweiler. Apparently, he was disowned by his Swiss family for being gay ages ago. He's probably now in his 60's. We figure he's desperate for money, because he may have a fetish for black call boys.

His last lover was a married black man, who also needed money, and hence entered into an affair. One witness believed he was pocketing money from the guests, not reporting it on the books, and keeping the cash.

I don't know how I figure out all this stuff. Don't ask.

Oh, how right and sad was T.S. Eliot when he wrote The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: "Time to turn back and descend the stair, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair — (They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)" The lines reflect a middle aged man, who is growing older by the day, and will never find love or have glory. A sad story indeed.

After eating at the best Chinese restaurant in JoeBerg (a little hole in the wall), I packed my stuff and headed off to the Kruger National Park. On my ride there - I kept wondering how this kind of stuff keeps happening to me, and how is it that I'm figuring out what's really going on with people.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Having a few bad days

random picture, but makes me smile.
The last few days are what you would call "bad days," a string of them in fact. I think it was triggered by having problems filing my Reply Brief. And I was in the mountains, when the court told me I was a day late, where I didn't have a printer, and I didn't have access to the legal research database.

The receptionist ended up treating me badly at my hostel, and when I confronted her about it, it was obvious she wasn't going to apologize. So, I wrote a letter to her owner, and later, the owner apologized to me and the girl receptionist broke down in tears.

I guess the receptionist was going through a bad time and took it out on me. (I think this whole court thing though brought some bad energy back on me; somehow, someway.)

Then, I found out that my brief had a bad case in there. I was very worried.

I sat myself down and counseled myself, up in the mountains. (Not the best idea, but my counselors and advisors were back in Los Angeles, and I was here in the mountains by myself.) I was overlooking a view of the trees and the rocks on a deck.

So, I decided that I wasn't going to make excuses about it; I was going to draft a letter that told the court and my opponents I made a mistake and that I was sorry and could I have permission to file a new brief. I felt really vulnerable about the whole thing, but I decided I was going to own up to what I did. I didn't like how it made me feel, but it was an honest mistake. Without having a legal database available to me and being on a faster timeline, this wouldn't have happened. But it was what it was. (Lessons for next time.)

So, I did that. I revised my brief. I apologized in writing. I asked for a new refiling. I prayed to God everything would be ok, and I moved on with my life.

Still, I was really worried that I worked over 100 hours on this brief, only for the Court of Appeal not to accept it. Can you imagine having that bounce in your head over and over again? (Anyways, that's what getting older has taught me: To give it up and not worry. That's what Jesus said - How does worry help your situation? It doesn't.)

The day before I left to Port Elizabeth, I took my opponent's brief and threw it into the campfire. I didn't know it'd attract so much attention. At the last hostel, I burned some papers and no one asked about it.

But there, they all asked me - What are you burning?

I said - "My enemy's brief. I had to respond to it. I've submitted my response. That thing had some bad juju in it."

And I swear, in my head - I could hear the ghost and ghouls moan, as those papers burned. (They were just full of deception and untruths. As Orwell once said, these "writing are largely the defence of the indefensible". Not nice.)

When I got to Port Elizabeth, not a nice city indeed, I went to a cafe to work. But I got overcharged there. Then the manager accused me of lying. And she started screaming at me. I was not happy and I argued back. Another manager came out and assured me later they made the mistake.

But it left me with a bad feeling. I just wasn't happy I was being accused, without them having questions first.

When I got back to the hostel in Port Elizabeth, at 03:00A, a strange guy was walking around in my room naked and started screaming. I told him to go to bed, and he said, "What did you say?"

I thought if this guy is this clueless, I'm not answering again.

He woke me up at 06:00A, and I realized I didn't sleep well that day. I was not having a good day.

The next day, I had good news followed by more bad news. I checked my email, and there was some good news too. The Court of Appeal accepted my reply. Phew! That was a big load off my chest. Thank God (literally).

Then, I received a text from my host while boarding my flight that he wasn't going to host me in JoeBerg. I was going there just to see him and his family.

I wasn't in a good mood about the message, but I was grateful that the Court of Appeal accepted my brief.

After landing into JoeBerg, I was at the airport, and I sat there for three hours trying to figure out what to do next. Some friends wanted me to come to Coffee's Bay. Another wanted me to go the Dragon's Mountain with him.

Where to go? What to do?

Imagine being stranded in the middle of nowhere, not knowing what to do. I called up someone. She told me, try to see it as if God is redirecting you.

I told her, "I believe that. The problem is I don't know what to do or where to go."

I ordered a coffee. I drank. I thought. I had no idea.

I read some Scripture, trying to get some direction, some insight, some wisdom. Nothing direct came.

I ordered more food, some cheap squid rings, and decided to check into a hostel in JoeBerg, instead of catching a flight somewhere else.

Why not? I was already here.

At the hostel, a Rottweiler came up to my luggage and bit into it not releasing it. He was just playing but he left a few tears in my luggage. I was definitely irritable about it.

I told the owner of the hostel that he needed to give me a discount on one of the nights here. He reluctantly agreed. I mean: Come on; it's your dog, and you're not disciplining it. 

I thought to myself, This is really a bad day. Then, I would have started laughing at myself, except I was too tired and cranky.

Currently, as of May 13, 2018, I believe this entire country is in a transition. Most of the people I meet have an attitude of entitlement and anger and hence, a lack of gratefulness.

In some ways, it's really become a society where people prey off each other and take from each other, all the way up and all the way down to the street thieves and other African invaders - like the Nigerians who sell drugs here.

I think the problem is that being at a place like this gets to you, especially if you stay here too long. (To be honest, I wouldn't recommend investing long term in South Africa, until things turn around. Can you trust the money you invest with the people here? Not sure.)

The final piece of good news is that I had the dorm room to myself. Nobody else. No snorers. No crazy guys from the Ghana. No drug addicts. No thieves. Nobody having sex in my room. No random and drunk girls trying to crawl into bed with guys. (Happened at the last hostel, but not to me.) No one calling me Bruce Lee or Ching Chong. No naked guys running around screaming.

No, I had the room to myself. I slept for ten hours. And that's the thing about bad days, they clear up as rainy days eventually do.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Crags, South Africa

Aslan the cat, at the Wild Spirit
I made it into the mountainous region of the Crags in South Africa. There was a really cool hostel, maybe one of the best. It's called the Wild Spirit. Highly recommended. Jenny, the owner, is amazing; she's an activist too that bankrupted four developers from developing on South Africa's coast.

There, I didn't do much. I met a lot of cool people, including a French couple named Karen and Fabian. We spent time together and ate together and drank wine together. Fabian and I took a walk to a waterfall and saw a family of baboons in the distance.

It was a wonderful time there, even though
Karen, Fabian, and me.
there wasn't much to do, except read and enjoy nature and all the people there. 

One night, Jenny gave a lively talk about her life and why she came to make the farm and all the challenges of having a spiritual hostel like hers. All of us in Baldwin Park should go one day to South Africa just to visit Jenny and her family and Aslan the cat - who was a wonderful cat indeed.

I was sad again to see Fabian and Karen go. I had to finish up my briefing in the Crags, and from there, I sent it off to the California Court of Appeal. It was an effort. Hopefully, it's received well.
The local pig on the farm near by.

Wild Spirit is one of those places, where you have a campfire and tell stories with everyone. It really was a magical place. And I enjoyed it thoroughly, though I had some issues with it. But those resolved too.

I learned some high Dutch there, called Afrikaans. But at some point, I knew it was time to leave. So, I did.

Two South African guys gave me a ride in their pickup truck, where I sat in the back with two girls. I ate biltong (South African beef jerky), while they drove me. 

Then I had to hitchhike for about 8 minutes, and a car picked me up and dropped me off at Port Elizabeth. 

That's it folks. I finished the famous South African Garden Route, from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. I certainly didn't see all of it. It's about 470 miles, 760km. But with my stop to Simon's Town and Stellenbosch, it was much longer.

Me, finished writing my brief and sending it.
I loved it, but I'm not sure if I'd come back with all the crime in South Africa. Needless to say, it's a beautiful country.

I talked to my mom, complaining about something and said, "But, Mom, I'm on vacation."

And she said, "Paul, taking a year off isn't a vacation."

I started laughing. That was cute.

Paul Cook's South African Garden Route Itinerary.
You can feel the winter is coming in South Africa. Every day it gets colder.

Let's see where I take off to next. =) Signing off from the Eastern Cape of South Africa,


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The May 2017 Corruption Report on Baldwin Park

Council Member (CM) Ricardo Pacheco,
CM Raquel "Monica" Garcia & Mayor Manuel Lozano
(From left to right). 
The City Officials of Baldwin Park have been bad, but what's new? Only this time, it's actually making the news.

This article is divided up into four parts. The first part is why we need to stop corruption. The second part is what's new with the BP Officials that have been reported. The third part is what's being reported. The fourth part is what should be being reported.

I. Why we should care?

If City Officials are going to be this open about stealing our taxpayer dollars and taking bribes to buy their vote, then we really should all band together and stop paying taxes. We should also pass a law, through referendum, to stop them city officials from taking out loans, which bonds us and future generations to paying off useless debt so that these they and their business friends and their family can all get rich. Enough is enough.

Taxpayer money is supposed to go to serve all of us. According to Lincoln, "“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, or can not so well do, for themselves[.]"

That means the government should spend on projects that (1) benefit all of us and (2) are big - like roads, schools, etc. The purpose of taxpayer money is not to be stolen by a few people like Mayor Lozano and his cronies.

Right now, taxpayer money should be going into stopping all the murders that are being committed int the city and halting gang activity. There needs to be brighter and more street lights to stop evening crime. And there needs to be a reduction of taxes, which seems to be growing all the time and taking from us.

Secondary projects must aim at a better education and cleaning up our toxic water.

In doing so, a more educated body can improve a better and technical workforce, which can improve everyone's life.

II. What's current and not reported.

1. Currently, Baldwin Park has been forced to finally go out to bid for their tow services. The last 50 years, Royal Coaches has had a monopoly over the city, and Baldwin Park has constantly renewed their contract without having to go to bid, illegally by the way. Baldwin Park has relented, probably because they're being watched.

Also, William Salazar has an extensive criminal record. They're going out to bid; finally.

(Royal Coaches has been a parasite in the city for 50 years.

2. Baldwin Park created an illegal monopoly on marijuana - making all the businesses having to go through one distributor named Rukli, Inc. Governments love to talk about the free and open market. How is a government created monopoly forever a good thing? (Isn't this disgusting how openly corrupt these people are?)

III. What's current and being reported.

The local newspaper, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune has been finally factually reporting the truth. This is good for a change.

1. Baldwin Park got sued again, because it's being alleged that weed businesses payed off Ricardo Pacheco and didn't get a marijuana license. Lawsuit challenges marijuana monopoly in Baldwin Park

2. It looks like the City wants to buy a marijuana warehouse for one of it's business. I didn't know the City was now in the business of supporting only one business in the weed trade. Caltrans asked Baldwin Park to build affordable…

IV. What should be investigated?

1. Under court order, Baldwin Park has refused to release the bank statements of their hidden bank account called the "Baldwin Park Franchise Fund." This is where the tow money was going. We want to see who's getting a cut of it.

2. Manny Carrillo. We still need to see how the "unofficial treasurer" of Baldwin Park has been laundering money through the city's two sham nonprofits - the Baldwin Park Community Center Corporation and the Baldwin Park Charitable Relief Fund.

3. Where does Lozano really live? A mayor is supposed to live in his city. But reports have come in that Lozano doesn't stay in his Baldwin Park house, and that he owns at least 10 cars, even though he drives a little red Honda.

Where's he going? Who is he seeing?

A number of reports have come in that Manuel Lozano's brother is growing marijuana nearby. Although it needs to be confirmed, this needs to be investigated.

4. Voter fraud.

Although Trump has been alleging that California is the voter fraud state, two precincts in Baldwin Park have been known to have notorious voter fraud by absentee vote. This is like when Vernon had voting fraud discovered - where whole families that didn't live in Vernon was voting by absentees. What was happening was that one family member would fill out these votes, even though other members didn't even know they were voting. They would turn them in for everyone. Some of these individuals were also living in sham addresses.

I suspect this fraud is tied to the Federal Urban and Housing Development Fund, which Baldwin Park won't release under the Public Records Act. I suspect that an unspoken condition of getting this money is by helping in perpetrating this kind of fraud. City of Industry was notorious for this.

Read article here: Are Section VIII Housing Vouchers Linked to Voting Fraud?

There have been numerous reports, especially from city employees, that the Mayor's brother Guadalupe picks up the votes and delivers them to the County Registrar.

5. How many of these public officials and directors have criminal records, especially in Texas? Manuel Lozano was an undocumented felon who made his stardom in marijuana. Is it a surprise that he's returning back to his cash crop?

I don't think so.

Read about it here: Is Baldwin Park's Mayor an Undocumented Criminal - Identity Disorder Series Part II


If this open and blatant in-your-face corruption continues, it won't be long until people question the legitimacy of our public officials everywhere. And if that happens, we really need to vote to get rid of taxes, until this problem is fixed.

Maybe there is hope. The FBI arrested Adelanto's Mayor yesterday. That's exactly more of what we need!

Federal agents search Adelanto mayor's home, City Hall amid corruption probe. According to the Times, "The raids come amid an ongoing investigation into corruption in the city, which came to light last year after charges were filed against Mayor Pro Tem Jermaine Wright, who was accused of accepting bribes to fast-track a marijuana business, among other things."

The article also says: "Wright, 41, allegedly met with an undercover FBI agent posing as a marijuana cultivator last year and agreed to vote, in exchange for $20,000, in favor of a measure expanding the parts of Adelanto where marijuana could be grown, according to a criminal complaint."

Baldwin Park government has at least three relations to Adelanto.

One the Pachecos used to own a home there. Two, when Taylor was chief, Taylor was thinking of applying for the Chief of Police job there. Three, marijuana businesses have been complaining that the director of community development, Gustavo Romo, didn't get them their weed licenses. Romo also consults for Adelanto.

Finally, what's the difference between Adelanto and Baldwin Park?

Didn't Pacheco just buy a new car, get laser eye surgery, and now has new suits - not from K-Mart?

That's it for now. Signing off from the Eastern Cape of South Africa,


Monday, May 7, 2018

Homesickness and Brief Draft Done - Day 310

Shot yesterday in a Cape forest,
 listening to Avicii - "Waiting for Love";
Rest in Peace. =(
Around Day 310 - I finished a draft of my Reply Brief yesterday in a place by the sea. It took me two weeks, which also meant I made friends with the staff at my hostel. I said goodbye to a cleaning lady who also happened to be a witchdoctor (she called herself Sweetness) and the bartender and the owner. It was an amazing hostel, and twice, I met some fun travelers: one was a set of young English tourists and then I met some young professional Germans.

(But to be honest, I didn't care for the obese French chef, who talked the talk but didn't deliver well on his meals. One day, the chef ate his breakfast in front of me: five chicken breasts and three fried eggs. I thought about all the poor chickens that died to feed this man.) All these people, except the chef, left something with me, and I was sad to leave. Maybe that's why I'm kind of burnt out; you meet new people, you establish a connection with, and then you have to say good bye. It's fun the first 10 times, but then I think it starts to wear on you.

I wanted to stay longer, but something inside of me also told me it was time to go. I wrestled inside to stay or leave, but I had sensed it was time to go.

I was in pretty bad shape after drafting the brief - meaning it took a lot out of energy out of me. As I was writing it, I kept telling myself that I didn't want to do this anymore and that I hated writing briefs. I'd rather write fiction or a screenplay or a book, where more people could enjoy reading it. I'm sure only about 20 people read my legal docuemnts. After all, I want to be in the business of change.

After reviewing my brief though, it looked like a nice and polished and shiny gem. It needs one more final polishing before I send it through.
Korean yin yang.

But there was different pieces of evidence that I've changed as a person. For one, I asked my designer to change my legal logo; it would be cool if it could reflect bright Korean colors of our yin yang in my logo.

I asked my lawyer if I could wear royal scholar clothes to court. (No one has given me a response. I remember being fascinated in Tokyo that I saw elderly ladies taking the subway and going to tea, wearing their kimonos. I look at myself wearing nothing but Western clothing and wondered if I shouldn't do the same too. I remembered when I was only 20 - I took a Qantas flight to Brisbane, Australia and the staff were all wearing ties and handkerchiefs made of Aboriginal design of a crocodile and different animals. I was fascinated by that. I wonder if I shouldn't have a tie made for me that reflects Korea as well. Maybe Los Angeles too. I'm definitely Angelino.)
Can I wear clothes like this to court?

Maybe I'm rambling, because on this part of the trip, I feel more Korean than ever, because the South Africans (both white and black) keep asking me about Korea. I tell them I'm from Los Angeles. I tell them I'm American, but they still want to know more about Korea. And the blacks in particular are so fascinated by my straight and black hair. Since there's not so many East Asians on the Cape, they just haven't seen it.

I had another identity change. I changed the font in my brief; no more New Time Roman. I'll go crazy if I ever write a brief in New Time Roman again. I went and researched for a font for probably 7 hours on the internet to find a new one, and when I transformed my brief in it - it was beautiful. I loved it! I loved this new font. The font seemed to breathe a new life into my writing, and they seemed to work together well, a kind of yin balancing yang.

I was burnt out mentally from writing too. So, I made my way to a forest in the mountains. The place is beautiful. Lots of young and friendly people who like to talk. The last place was a bit more subdued and quiet. But they had a cat there, and I miss him too.

Well, I miss home, my friends, my family, and my own bed. But I literally have miles to go before I sleep. So, that's what's on top. Next, I'll publish more on Baldwin Park. Judging by all the newspaper articles being published on them, I think they're in a bit of hot water.

Finally, I was sad to hear Tim Bergling (aka Avicii) committed suicide at 28; our world lost another brilliant artist. Rest in Peace. I'll miss you and your music too.