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Category Archives: USA

Demand Better: Stand Up For Women’s Rights (Marie Claire)

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Happy Independence Day from China! Does that sound ironic to anyone else? Anyway, here’s to America the beautiful…

Badlands National Park

Big Sur, California

North Cascades National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

View of Shasta from Lassen Volcanic National Park

Arches National Park

Rogue River, Oregon

Bryce Canyon National Park

Malibu, California

North Cascades National Park

Happy 4th of July!

Go: Ski Lake Tahoe

Our Cabin

One of the many perks of living back in California is, of course, the slopes. They are the perfect reason to take a long weekend, fly to San Francisco and road trip to Tahoe with some awesome fellow humans. We got a quaint little cabin equipped with a hot tub, ping pong table and fireplace. It was perfectly cozy! Lots of cooking, wine, music and relaxing. This was my first Tahoe trip, so I was excited to do pretty much anything!

We ended up skiing at Heavenly Resort. Five stars from me! Gorgeous mountain, plenty of terrain (97 runs and 30 lifts! see map) and a great little scene after the lifts closed. It was also a warm sunny day, which always makes skiing better. I particularly liked that you had to take a gondola up from lake level just to get to the base of the Nevada side of the mountain. It really gives you a sense of how big it is. The top lift at Heavenly sits at 10,040 feet. The mountain itself is on the state border, so there is a Nevada side and a California side. Overall, an awesome place to race down a mountain, lounge in a hot tub and consume meals with friends. To many more winter events in cabins!

Never lost this guy thanks to the awesome hat.

View of the Nevada desert from the top of Heavenly.

To the Left: CA snow. To the Right: NV desert.

Taking a much-needed rest on the hike uphill. Yes, I opted to hike to a run because I think I'm tough stuff. Clearly, I become less badass at 10,000ft (if I ever was to begin with).

View from the top!

Beers after a day on the slopes.

Lake Tahoe en Hiver

Lake Tahoe en Hiver Deux

The ocean looks like a thousand diamonds strewn across a blue blanket...


Oh, the Places You’ll Go – Burning Man

Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess.  A monumental, groundbreaking piece of literature. One of the best books I’ve had the pleasure to read. A source of joy, inspiration, insight, sheer bliss…really a life-changer : )

….Read at Burning Man 2011. Perfect.





{repost from The New York Times}

U.S. War in Iraq Declared Officially Over

Michael Kamber for The New York Times

Flag bearers carried the colors out at the end of the ceremony marking the end of the United States’ military involvement in Iraq. More Photos »

Published: December 15, 2011

 BAGHDAD — The United States military officially declared an end to its mission in Iraq on Thursday even as violence continues to plague the country and the Muslim world remains distrustful of American power.

In a fortified concrete courtyard at the airport in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta thanked the more than one million American service members who have served in Iraq for “the remarkable progress” made over the past nine years but acknowledged the severe challenges that face the struggling democracy.

“Let me be clear: Iraq will be tested in the days ahead — by terrorism, and by those who would seek to divide, by economic and social issues, by the demands of democracy itself,” Mr. Panetta said. “Challenges remain, but the U.S. will be there to stand by the Iraqi people as they navigate those challenges to build a stronger and more prosperous nation.”

The muted ceremony stood in contrast to the start of the war in 2003 when an America both frightened and emboldened by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sent columns of tanks north from Kuwait to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

As of last Friday, the war in Iraq had claimed 4,487 American lives, with another 32,226 Americans wounded in action, according to Pentagon statistics.

The tenor of the hour-long farewell ceremony, officially called “Casing the Colors,” was likely to sound an uncertain trumpet for a war that was started to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction it did not have. It now ends without the sizable, enduring American military presence for which many military officers had hoped.

Although Thursday’s ceremony marked the end of the war, the military still has two bases in Iraq and roughly 4,000 troops, including several hundred who attended the ceremony. At the height of the war in 2007, there were 505 bases and more than 170,000 troops.

According to military officials, the remaining troops are still being attacked on a daily basis, mainly by indirect fire attacks on the bases and road side bomb explosions against convoys heading south through Iraq to bases in Kuwait.

Even after the last two bases are closed and the final American combat troops withdraw from Iraq by Dec. 31, under rules of an agreement with the government in Baghdad, a few hundred military personnel and Pentagon civilians will remain, working within the American Embassy as part of an Office of Security Cooperation to assist in arms sales and training.

But negotiations could resume next year on whether additional American military personnel can return to further assist their Iraqi counterparts.

Senior American military officers have made no secret that they see crucial gaps in Iraq’s ability to defend its sovereign soil and even to secure its oil platforms offshore in the Persian Gulf. Air defenses are seen as a critical gap in Iraqi capabilities, but American military officers also see significant shortcomings in Iraq’s ability to sustain a military, whether moving food and fuel or servicing the armored vehicles it is inheriting from Americans or the fighter jets it is buying, and has shortfalls in military engineers, artillery and intelligence, as well.

 ”From a standpoint of being able to defend against an external threat, they have very limited to little capability, quite frankly,” Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the outgoing American commander in Iraq, said in an interview after the ceremony. “In order to defend against a determined enemy, they will need to do some work.”

The tenuous security atmosphere in Iraq was underscored by helicopters that hovered over the ceremony, scanning the ground for rocket attacks. Although there is far less violence across Iraq than at the height of the sectarian conflict in 2006 and 2007, there are bombings on a nearly daily basis and Americans remain a target of Shiite militants.

Mr. Panetta acknowledged that “the cost was high — in blood and treasure of the United States, and also for the Iraqi people. But those lives have not been lost in vain — they gave birth to an independent, free and sovereign Iraq.”

The war was started by the Bush administration in March 2003 on arguments that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and had ties to Al Qaeda that might grow to an alliance threatening the United States with a mass-casualty terrorist attack.

As the absence of unconventional weapons proved a humiliation for the administration and the intelligence community, the war effort was reframed as being about bringing democracy to the Middle East.

And, indeed, there was euphoria among many Iraqis at an American-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. But the support soon soured amid a growing sense of heavy-handed occupation fueled by the unleashing of bloody sectarian and religious rivalries. The American presence also proved a magnet for militant fighters and an Al Qaeda-affiliated group took root among the Sunni minority population in Iraq.

While the terrorist group has been rendered ineffective by a punishing series of Special Operations raids that have killed or captured several Qaeda leaders, intelligence specialists fear that it is in resurgence. The American military presence in Iraq, viewed as an occupation across the Muslim world, also hampered Washington’s ability to cast a narrative from the United States in support of the Arab Spring uprisings this year.

Even handing bases over to the Iraqi government over recent months proved vexing for the military. In the spring, commanders halted large formal ceremonies with Iraqi officials for base closings because insurgents were using the events as opportunities to attack troops. “We were having ceremonies and announcing it publicly and having a little formal process but a couple of days before the base was to close we would start to receive significant indirect fire attacks on the location,” said Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the military in Iraq. “We were suffering attacks so we stopped.”

Across the country, the closing of bases has been marked by a quiet closed-door meeting where American and Iraqi military officials signed documents that legally gave the Iraqis control of the bases, exchanged handshakes and turned over keys.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey of the Army, has served two command tours in Iraq since the invasion in 2003, and he noted during the ceremony that the next time he comes to Iraq he will have to be invited.

 ”We will stand with you against terrorists and others that threaten to undo what we have accomplished together,” General Dempsey said during the ceremony. “We will work with you to secure our common interests in a more peaceful and prosperous region.”

This Happened Here

An absolute disgusting display of useless force. Police pepper sprayed students who were sitting, arms linked in peaceful protest. Professors at UC Davis said some of the brightest, best students were involved. Shocked, appalled, ashamed. If we were a developing country vying for stability, I would expect trouble like this, a lack of logic. In America, we preach freedom, openness, blah blah blah. We go around acting superior, trying to clean up the world. It’s all bull shit. I am again ashamed to be a part of a country where the majority are clueless, close-minded fools, unable to think on their own.  However, I am proud there are young university students with minds, conscience and will. They are rays of hope for a confused world.

Yes, I am ranting. I just watched a documentary on Bagram and Abu Ghraib, so I am in a particularly anti-American police/military/politics mood. Come on team, we should be better than what the country has become! We should be taking care of each other because we have that ability. In my book, it is unacceptable to harm another human being. To see the people who are meant to protect civilians inflicted harm for NO reason, makes my stomach turn. See for yourself:



I want to highlight the “at least” in the statement above. Exploration, new spaces and places, keeps you on your toes. Experience as much of this world as possible. Even if you were in perpetual motion, there would still be more to see and do because, really, life is fleeting. So, a friendly reminder to step outside your comfort zone, go places you haven’t been, switch things up. As people get older, we tend toward becoming creatures of habit. Challenge that. Don’t vacation in the same spot every year, don’t do the same hike every weekend, take a different route to work, walk more, do things that you are unsure about, things to which you cannot anticipate the outcome, play with fire (or at least spice life up a bit). Make the city you live in a new adventure everyday. If anything, open your eyes, slow down and notice the details. While I used to define adventure and travel as new (generally impoverished) countries, I’ve learned to appreciate the domestic and local. Living back in LA, a place I’ve spent years, has become more interesting with this perspective of details, slowing down and being open to any and every thing. It’s amazing how much more you can take in when you are open. Anywho…

I am currently in Austin, Texas–place #5 (ish) this year I’ve never been. I am thrilled to explore it with one of my bests who happens to be a native. Just stepping into the airport, I felt more invigorated and alive. I don’t know if Austin is ready for this energy and excitement. Time to step out and explore (read: eat, play, meet people, and wander). With love y’all.