Monday, December 31, 2018

Ending 2018, Forecasting 2019

The Pig by Pablo Picasso (1906)
It's been a year full of play and wonder and homecoming.  I spent eight and a half months abroad and three and a half months here at home in California. I hope that during the year, I brought you great stories, lessons, and insights from faraway lands and at home.

The year started off rough. I was almost killed in Colombia, when a a motorboat propeller slashed through my head and shoulder. Not fun.

But after recovering, I made my way to Argentina, where my hosts were amazing and hospitable. But I almost got stuck there, because customs wouldn't let me board the airplane to South Africa.

The highlights in South Africa included my days in Cape Town, seeing the Wiseman, and going to the Blyde River Canyon with my Swiss-French friends. Also, the Kruger National Park was awesome.

I made my way to the Island of Mauritius, where I got a lot of writing done. On this trip, I was able to publish three opinions in various newspapers, two in South Africa and one in Washington DC. My most recognized piece came out on Business Day in South Africa. I also talked a lot about North Korean trade in the MorningConsult.

From South Africa, I made my way to Ibiza, where I had a great time partying it up, though I was too poor to get into any clubs. Then, I enjoyed my time in the French Alps - where I reflected and meditated. Getting out was a horrendous journey, and I had to hitchhike for hours upon hours to get into Geneva, Switzerland.

I made a few friends there, and afterwards, I finished my trip in Sweden - where I got to meet old and new friends. I also think I had a better understanding of Picasso, when I visited the Modern Art Museum there.

Also, a number of my investigative corruption pieces did well. In the beginning of the year, I reported on how Baldwin Park's Council Woman Monica Garcia was receiving campaign donations from a predatory loan company. I also talked about the dirty money that former Baldwin Park Police Chief received to run for public office. Later in the year, I also talk about how the dirty Police Chief tried to sneak an extra million dollar contract for his requirement. (Thank goodness it wasn't approved.) One of my most popular articles this year was also on how to make $1.8 million a year, be Gus Romo, our former community development director. The open issue for our city is about the $50 million loan it's borrowing. The question is where is all this money going to go?

On the legal front, I argued in the Court of Appeal for Tuttle's case. I lost. That case has now been filed in California's Supreme Court. (I'll write more on this later; as it deserves it's own article.)

On the immigration front, I'm still working on getting Rafael back. The US government deported Rafael, even though he's married to an American and has two American children. It turns out that the government prosecutors that deported him were corrupt. Both ICE Prosecutors, Jonathan Love and Raphael Sanchez, were convicted of fraud by stealing the identity of those they were deporting and are now serving time. I've been thinking very hard and researching remedies on bringing him and his children home.

Financially, it's been difficult, because although I was supposed to get paid in the Tuttle case, the Court of Appeal said, "No," even though the law says, "Yes." Anyways, hopefully, the California Supreme Court takes up the case. Historically though, they only take up 5% of all cases. So the odds aren't good. But, as I've been told: "Fight, until your last breath."

Anyways, in general, it's been a great year. I've learned to be content with what I have. I'm happy to celebrate my new debt-free status. I enjoy spending time with the people, pets, and problems I actually care about. I can't stress how much I love actually doing it.

And while writing this, I realize how much I've done, how much I've experienced, how much I've learned, and all the people I met. It's been a fulfilling year. It's been time well spent. But I push on.

Regarding the future, 2019 is the Year of the Earth Pig. Traditionally, in Korean culture, pigs are a sign of luck and prosperity - probably because they can get so fat. No wonder, they say "high as a hog." Perhaps, my fortune will change, but even if it doesn't, the point of life is making the best with the handle you're dealt.

Anyways, I've been doing a lot of thinking, and because I'm back and because my profession is in the business of justice, it looks like I'll be doing some litigation for the year of 2019.

Hopefully, the commandment in Isaiah 1:17 governs the year for me: "[A]nd learn to do right. See that justice is done—help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows.”

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