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Friday, August 21, 2015

Olympian Jason Lezak stops by Cunningham Pool

Olympic gold medalist Jason Lezak

Olympian Jason Lezak stops by Cunningham Pool

Two years after retiring from a stellar swimming career, Olympic champion Jason Lezak is hoping to inspire younger swimmers to follow in his footsteps.

The eight-time Olympic medalist, referred to by many as “The Anchor,” decided to make port in Vallejo on Thursday to give dozens of young swimmers at Cunningham Pool autographs, photo opportunities and swimming pointers.

“I blocked about a week of time this summer to head up to Northern California and just see if teams or people wanted some help,” Lezak said. “I get a big mix of kids at this one and I get to share stories and teach them a few things. I made a lot of mistakes early in my swimming career and when I look back sometimes, I say to myself that I wish I would have done this, or I wish I would have done that. There are some kids here that are really serious about swimming but there are also a lot that are just having a good time.”

Lezak won eight medals, including four gold medals in his career that saw him compete in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. He also owns long-course world records in the 400-meter freestyle and medley relays. He may be known more than anything for his role in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where in the final 25 meters of the 4-by-100 relay race he came from behind France’s Alain Bernard to win the race for the United States and give teammate Michael Phelps his record-breaking eighth gold medal in one Olympic games.

Dylan Powell, who lives in Vallejo and swam at Diablo Valley College, was 12 when Lezak starred in the 2008 games. On Thursday the 19-year-old Powell was thrilled to finally meet his idol.

“I remember watching his amazing, perfect swim in 2008 and it was like a dream finally coming true to finally meet him,” Powell said. “When I walked on deck I thought I was going to pass out. I was like, ‘Here is the guy. Here is the guy I’ve looked up to and he’s seven feet in front of me.’ So it felt great to finally shake his hand.”

Powell would be part of one of Lezak’s demonstrations in the pool as the Olympian discussed how to perform a perfect streamline. A streamline form is used at the start of a race to help create the least amount of resistance to help the swimmer propel as far as they can.

Powell and Lezak had a competition to see who could streamline the furthest. The crowd of swimmers cheered as Powell matched Lezak’s distance.

“I was just honored to be in (Lezak’s) presence,” Powell said. “I was extremely nervous and just wanted to make sure I didn’t slip on the block and do a complete belly-flop into the pool. I just focused on doing my dive right so I could make him proud.”

Vallejo’s Charity Donato, 11, was also thrilled to meet Lezak.

“He was really inspiring and he talked a lot about the Olympics,” Donato said. “I was really happy to meet him and it was cool to be wearing the actual gold medal he won when I had my picture taken with him. I had a bag, a swim cap and a shirt autographed by him.”

The 39-year-old Lezak said the decision to retire in 2013 was not a difficult one.

“The number one thing is my body felt ready to be done,” Lezak said, with a laugh. “Although, since I retired it’s nice because I get to do things like this a lot more often. Sometimes when I was training I wasn’t able to help kids at clinics like this as much as I wanted.”

Lezak also stressed that the most important thing to do while swimming was to have a good time.

“For a lot of the young kids they are here just to have fun,” Lezak said. “At the same time I see some of these young kids and you can see the look in their face and it’s the same one I had. The main focus is to try and keep this about being fun.”
 Olympic gold medalist Jason Lezak, facing, center, talks about ‘streamlining’ while visiting a Vallejo Aquatics Club practice last week at Cunningham Pool in Vallejo. MIKE JORY — VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD

MIKE JORY — VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD Retired Olympic swimmer Jason Lezak signs the back of a Vallejo Aquatics Club member during a visit to Cunningham Pool last week.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's Farewell to Roar

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's Farewell to Roar - An All Day Party!

ROAR is closing for good and we're having a goodbye party to honor this wooden coaster classic.
On Sunday, August 16 in celebration of National Roller Coaster Day, visit the park and ride ROAR one last time!
As a special treat, we're having an All-Day Farewell Party in the area between ROAR and Superman Ultimate Flight from noon to 6 p.m. Here, you can enjoy music, purchase delicious BBQ and be eligible for prize giveaways throughout the day.As part of the party, and be on hand to sample Coke Zero! And of course, you'll also want to ride ROAR now thru Aug 16th!

Season Pass holders, be sure to ride Roar during a special Exclusive Ride Time on Saturday and Sunday, August 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Just flash your Season Pass to ride!

Roar is closing to make room for future expansion. The ride opened in May 1999 and since that time, more than 11 million guests have experienced and enjoyed Roar. Thank you to all of Roar's fans for giving it a good run!

Habit #4: Take Care of Your Body - Day #7

Your body is simply the vehicle for experience – and as we all know how important it is to maintain our cars, bicycles or other mechanical vehicles, the analogy can be extended to caring for your biological vehicle. Keeping your body in top physical/physiological form will assist you in growing through the grieving process.
Take control of your physical well-being by doing what you can every day: eat regular meals, full of nutritious foods; and limit junk food.
Get enough sleep, even if that means taking naps during the day – but beware of too much sleep. Sinking into the sofa to sleep the day away is a sure sign of depression.
Watch out for “creeping addictions”: alcohol and drugs (illicit or prescribed; even over-the-counter medications) will only delay grieving, and make it a more difficult process all together.
Exercise regularly. Even just a walk around the block, on a regular basis, can help to restore your mental and physical well-being.

Quotation for the Day

"Pain (any pain--emotional, physical, and mental) has a message. The information it has about our life can be remarkably specific, but it usually falls into one of two categories: 'We would be more alive if we did more of this,' and, 'Life would be more lovely if we did less of that.' Once we get the pain's message, and follow its advice, the pain goes away." ~Peter McWilliams

Habit #3: Relieve Your Anger - Day #6

When I was growing up, I was taught that anger wasn’t “ladylike”, and as I watched my mother swallow her anger with every sip of vodka she took, I knew that way of living was self-destructive.

As you work toward restoring your life after loss, recognize the power of anger for self-destruction – and harness it for growth instead. How? By recognizing that it’s okay to be angry – it’s a healthy human emotion that (when accepted and expressed) enables you to heal. Deal with it in constructive ways – discharging its energy in the following ways.

Quotation for the Day

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."~ Reinhold Niebuhr

Habit #2: Be Positive - Day #5

I know that “being positive” feels almost like an impossibility – and I’m sure you’re wondering how you can possibly do that when you are grieving deeply.

However, as we plan our daily activities, even the simplest one, it’s possible to put a more desirable, or “positive”, spin. That brighter outlook, that positivity expands in a positive direction – leading more swiftly to increased joy and recovery from loss.

Quotation for the Day
"What happened yesterday is history. What happens tomorrow is a mystery. What we do today makes a difference - the precious present moment." ~ Nick Saban

Habit #1: Be Kind to Yourself - Day #4

The first of the habits we’re going to cultivate is often ‘easier said than done’.

Be Kind to Your Self

Many things keep you stuck in a place I like to call “self-bashing”. While you’re grieving the feelings of guilt and anger are especially powerful – they can send you into a tail-spin of blame and self-criticism. The physical effects of grief, such as sleeplessness, lack of hunger, and depression can bring you into that dark place too, where you feel it’s appropriate to be less than kind to your Self.

Quotation for the Day

"Self-care means honoring and respecting the miraculous being that you are. Self-care means learning to listen with the ear of a dedicated mother to your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and then taking full responsibility for getting them met. Self-care means taking 100% responsibility for creating an environment that nurtures your physical, emotional and spiritual selves." ~ Carl Benedict

Habits for Good Health during This Time - Day #3

There are many things you can do to make your grieving harder. Not acknowledging the facts, not getting enough sleep, not eating well…not crying when you need to.

But what can you do to make it easier? In this, and the next 5 messages, I’m going to be asking you to do those things that I label “self-care” activities, and journaling as you do so. You’re going to be making these activities into habits – things you do without thinking, like breathing

What are the activities comprising “self-care”?
1. Be Kind to Yourself

2. Be Positive

3. Relieve Your Anger

4. Take Care of Your Body

5. Record Your Thoughts as You Recover

You’re already doing number 5 – or at least I hope you are! I’d like you to carry your journal (or a mini-journal/notebook) with you when you go out. So many places will trigger memories that your journal will become your best ally in the coming months.
Why not start by thinking and writing about self-care? What does it mean to you? Can you see your own worthiness – and the importance of nurturing your Self while you grieve?
Suffering a loss is traumatic and often renders us “speechless”; lost in emotions. Take just five minutes today, if that’s all you can manage, and write a sentence or two about how you’re feeling, and how you’d like to feel.

Quotation for the Day
"I define comfort as self-acceptance. When we finally learn that self-care begins and ends with ourselves, we no longer demand sustenance and happiness from others." ~Jennifer Louden ed

Cecil the lion's death

Lisa – In the wake of Cecil the lion's death, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines announced they would no longer allow the shipment of hunting trophies on their planes. South African Airways is now one of the only global airlines that allows the transport of hunting trophies. Add your signature to the petition below that calls on South African Airways to follow these other global airlines and establish a ban on trophy hunting transport.

Sign Petition
Petitioning South African Airways

Tell South African Airways to stop shipping slaughtered wildlife trophies
Endangered African animals such as the rhino, elephant, leopard, and lions are being hunted and poached to extinction. As the national carrier, South African Airways has a moral obligation to safeguard these precious animals, but it recently went back on its commitment to ban transport of these trophy animals. Please sign my petition asking South African Airways to stop supporting wildlife slaughter by trophy hunters.
After Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe, many airlines including Delta woke up and realized it's bad business and poor conservation policy to support the slaughter of some of the most incredible wild animals on the planet -- Delta, United, Virgin, British Airways, Emirates, and many other airlines now have global bans on transport of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo).
As someone with a passion for wildlife photography and who lives in South Africa, I can tell you photography tourism brings more income to the lodges, its surrounding communities, and South African Airways, as the same animals are being photographed, over and over again. Wealthy trophy hunters are exploiting Africa's animals in a cruel, shameful way!
Once an animal is dead, it's gone. One by one they will disappear if the hunting continues, and South African Airways is enabling trophy hunters to slaughter these animals despite global criticism.
Other airlines have listened to customers. We can make this change if we work together to show South African Airways it's bad business to ship slaughtered wildlife.
Please sign my petition asking South African Airways to join other airlines who commit to stop transporting these animals gruesomely killed for fun.

My Advisor, My Companion - Day #2

My Advisor, My Companion - Day #2

""Grief is still my advisor; sometimes it is a friend and reminds me of my humble place in the universe; opening life to the mysterious gifts of awe and gratitude. At other times it casts me down and turns my heart of stone."" -Beth Witrogen McLeod, Caregiving: the Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal, Wiley &Sons, 1999.

Right now, your constant companion is grief – a collection of feelings, as well as the physical and psychological effects of loss. This is not the time in the process to try to push that companion away; rather it is time to embrace it. Sit with it, accept it. One day, you’ll part company, I promise; but not right now.

Grief, for now, is your teacher, your mentor – offering you a way to be more present in the world each and every day of your life. Let’s take some time to visualize grief: what does this companion look like to you?


Buy some colored pencils or markers, if you don’t already have some. Then, open your journal/notebook, and draw a picture of your grief. We’ll return to this exercise at various points throughout the cycle – and I think you’ll be surprised at the changes your companion goes through.

If you’re uncomfortable drawing, then find a magazine, and cut out pictures that define “grief” for you. One of my clients cut out pictures of a large, heavy stone, a human heart, and a child crying. Pretty descriptive, huh?

See what images you come up with – play with the exercise throughout the day. Get creative. Focus on this activity, and it will help you to spend time going “within”.

Then, rest; sleep is a fine way to heal the mind, body and spirit. Until tomorrow, I send you love.


Grief is a Five-Letter Word - Day #1

Daily Email Affirmations

by Passalacqua Funeral Chapel
Grief is a Five-Letter Word - Day # 1

Loss is everywhere, sprinkled throughout our lives, from childhood into old age. Some losses are shrugged off without much thought or acknowledgement – others are managed, navigated and quickly set aside, but others are so big we can’t ignore them. They lay us on the floor with sorrow, and the grieving process takes hold of us completely.

Recognizing the actual regularity of loss, and the proven ability you have to work through loss and move forward with your life allows you to take control of your daily experience. You are the creator of your own experience. These emails will help you to work through grief, and come out the other side a stronger, more complete person. Each message will offer an action, an activity to help you put things in perspective, honor your place in the process, or care for your body and mind in some other way. It is our goal to help you “push the clouds away”, a bit at a time. Activity: Get a pad of paper, a blank journal, or simply a notebook. (I’ve found that writing in a beautiful journal can be inspiring – but some people would rather use an inexpensive notebook.)Buy a pen you love to use – something that writes smoothly and effortlessly. It’s time to start chronicling your experiences. One reason grief disrupts so many aspects of your life is because your loss is not isolated – now is the time to reflect on the other losses in your life. In so doing, each will become an opportunity to experience grief, and release it.

List all the beings (animal companions, childhood friends, lovers, or partners) and all the places you’ve lost. Take a moment to honor each loss, perhaps closing the ritual by lighting a candle – a time-honored action of reverence. Here’s an example list from my own life:

1. My first cat, Beethoven

2. My childhood home

3. My first dog, B-B (short for “Beast”, a teacup Poodle!)

4. My marriage

5. My husband

6. My favorite teaching job

7. My mother and father (one dead and the other estranged)
You get the idea, right?

What you’ll learn from this exercise is the recognition of your resiliency – you are strong, and you will survive this latest loss. Embrace the process, don’t resist it.

My List:
1)  My childhood cat, Alley Oop
2)  My first pet as an adult, my cockerspaniel, Misty
3)  My childhood neighborhood, Blackwood Street, La Puente, CA
4)  My neighbors, Patty & Marcella
5)  My Dad, Dave....first to divorce & then to passing.
6)  My Mom, Carol
7)  My husband, Mike, to divorce
8)  My stepdad, Joe
9)  Nanny Arlene
10)  Corey, my boyfriend and daughter's father.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Rocky Fire

Thousands of people were ordered out of their homes early Monday after wind-whipped wildfires burned dozens of buildings across northern California.
Described as "unprecedented" by authorities, the largest blaze — which is known as the Rocky Fire — tore across the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco. It almost tripled in size to 84 square miles over the weekend.
A firefighter monitors a burn operation to head off the Rocky Fire on Sunday near Clearlake, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
The scale of the blaze has prompted officials to order 12,000 people to evacuate their homes, according to The Sacramento Bee newspaper. Several roads were also closed.
The fire has already destroyed 24 homes and 26 outbuildings and was threatening 6,300 homes, officials said.
Photo Gallery: Rocky Fire Blazes Through California

"It's jaw-dropping to see some of the things it is doing," California state fire spokesman Jason Shanley told the newspaper.
Many of the California fires were sparked by lightning and the danger was expected to continue as the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag warning for Modoc County on Monday. A separate blaze the known as the Frog Fire continues to burn in that area.
Officials urge "extreme caution" during Red Flag warnings "because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire."
U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Dave Ruhl died in the fire around 100 miles south of the Oregon border on Saturday. Four others were burned in a fire near Sacramento.

An air tanker drops fire retardant to keep the Rocky Fire from jumping Highway 20 near Clearlake, California, on Sunday. NOAH BERGER / EPA Image: Burn operation near Clearlake, CaliforniaImage: An air tanker near Clearlake, California

California Wildfires - Rocky Fire
I never thought about where firefighters slept when they are our fighting these enormous wildfires in California, until a firefighter friend posted a picture showing where he was sleeping while out on the Rocky Fire in Clear Lake, CA.   STAY SAFE CHARLES and all of the other firefighters !!
from Charles "This is where Im sleeping tonight. The good old air conditioned sardine can"

'This is where Im sleeping tonight. The good old air conditioned sardine can.'
Here is an inside shot I found