Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Mother's Love

There they were.  And suddenly I was 6 years old again, watching Fantasia for the first time.  The Hippos and Alligators on their toes, the bright yellow tutu rustling in time with the classical music.

I watched as the large hippopotamus nudged her child underneath the bright blue water.    A natural grin painted across her small face, as his mother pushed him in a circle around the habitat.  Around and round they went, coming to the surface to catch a breath, then dipping beneath the small ripples.  At 8 weeks old, the young lady named Devi, already has a fierce personality as she "posed" for my camera at the San Diego zoo this past week.

They say there is nothing quite like a Mother's love and apparently that rings true for Hippos, too.  The two were inseparable as they took laps around the 150,000 gallon tank.  And while little Devi ran the show, approaching the glass to take a look at what all the fuss was about.  And of course like a good mother, Devi was never more than a nudge away from her mother's love.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

But first, Coffee.

Coffee, coffee, buzz buzz buzz.  Seriously, if you're like this writer, your day doesn't start until half way through your first (or maybe second) cup.  And while my taste changes from day-to-day, depending on my mood, cravings, or my afternoon plans, my go-to rarely changes.  We all have a favorite drink (and a favorite barista, Tyler you're my BOY) and we're all guilty of judging that person holding up the line by ordering their double-shot-soy-creations.    And in return, we too are judged by our own orders.

So who are you?  What is your poison?

All photos/infographics courtesy of The Coffee Tasting Club.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You Think You Know...

You think you know, but you have no idea.

Does anyone else miss the good ole' MTV days of actual music videos and Real World and MTV's Diary.  Each week we'd tune in and hear the familiar phrase.

You think you know, but you have no idea.

I loved the show, watching the stars who I thought I knew through their music, videos, and celebrity gossip, really share themselves.  Of course this was before Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, before the paparazzi took over the free world.  We only knew what these stars wanted us to know or what their police records could tell us.  I tuned in waiting to find out their secrets, what it is that makes them tick, and what it's really like to be a celebrity.

For you younger generations reading this, I apologize.  You will never know what it's like to not know everything about these people.

You think you know, but you have no idea.  Is a phrase I've suddenly started using on a regular basis.  Whenever I meet someone new, which lets face it, is every time I call a lyft or uber, someone asks about my job.  I'm an Assignment Editor, which Wikipedia defines as:

In journalism, an assignment editor is an editor – either at a newspaper, or radio or television station – who selects, develops and plans reporting assignments, either news events or feature stories, to be covered by reporters.
An assignment editor often fields calls from the public, who give news tips, or information about a possible story or event to be covered. Sometimes, these calls may:

  • Alert editors about a disaster – perhaps something as minor as a car accident or as major as a large industrial fire with mass casualties.
  • Be someone wishing to make a complaint about corporate or governmental practices, or have information or an opinion about a major decision that a local or state government is making.
  • Be something as minor as a child building the world's largest sand castle or a budding entrepreneur wanting to promote his/her product.

Other times, the news tip may come in the form of a news release, which may either promote an event, meeting, etc.; or alert editors and reporters about an upcoming news conference. Sometimes, assignment editors must sift through hundreds of news releases each day. In many cases, possibly dependent on the market, assignment editors use police scanners, listening to traffic between 911 dispatchers and police officers in the field.
Whatever the case, it is the assignment editor's job to determine what news tips and news releases are the most newsworthy, and then decide which reporter to assign a story to. Those assignments are often determined based on the reporter's experience, skills and his/her beat (e.g., police, courts, schools, city hall, county, etc.).
If a major story develops – such as a disaster or economic development – an assignment editor may enlist several reporters (in addition to whoever usually covers that beat) to cover various angles of a story. For instance, if the story is about a plant closing, one reporter may be asked to do the main story about the closing, while other reporters may be asked to do stories on such things as employee reaction, reaction from business and community leaders, a history of the plant (and other plant closings, if appropriate), etc.

Pretty accurate if you ask me.  Sometimes I try and compare the newsroom to an airport and describe my position most like an air traffic control tower.  Anything and everything that lands, takes off or even comes across as a blip on our radar screens doesn't move without the green light from me. 
Holding down the fort on the Weekend Shift
Majority of these people don't understand.  They assume newsrooms are full of sinister looking people dressed like the 1970's pantsuit never went out of style, we get a press release from some bad boy head honcho in the government telling us all ________________ (insert gender/race/ethnicity/job description) are bad for the _________________ (economy, environment, human race... etc).  In fact we do get press releases from these people, going on about how so-and-so is ruining this or that and how we're their only hope at getting the word out to stop them.  We ignore these releases.  We're not hear to further any one's cause.  We're here to tell you the truth, believe it or not.
You think you know, but you have no idea.
It's actually not an easy feat to come up with story ideas on your own.  Better yet try and come up with someone where you can easily tell both sides, remain without bias, and really confirm those facts!  Oh and keep in mind, you've got competition.  There are other stations all vying for your market demographic. Oh and then there's the Internet.  The amount of crap people post, people believe or don't believe.... holy.  I actually got a story yesterday that Elvis, yes that King, has been alive and well, living in San Diego as a homeless man up until his untimely death in a riverbed.  They swear the DNA matches.
You think you know, but you have no idea.
A lot of the job is judgement calls, sometimes they're wrong, sometimes they're right, sometimes they are just plain hard to make but that's what we do.  We make those calls with confidence.
Now you know.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Inspired by the 'classics'

Something to brighten your Monday morning...

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Asking For It

Completely in love with this new campaign called Don't measure a woman's worth by her clothes'.  The Swiss organization, Terre Des Femmes, released the adverts to focus on gender equality.  Based on their assessments, I'm pretty much always asking for it.

What do you think?

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

My Story

We all have that friend that is fantastic at telling stories.  You know, you start telling the story, and suddenly there is a jab in your rib cage and your friend is 'shush-ing' you, "you gotta let ______ tell it"!  Soon it's no longer your story, but theirs, after all they tell it better anyway.

As a journalist you're assigned stories daily.  The stories become yours.  You are the go-to person whenever the story transforms.  "Go ask ____, she wrote it last week".  Sometimes these stories remain yours, sometimes they are passed through thousands of hands, but at the end of the day you remember the first time you got the assignment, your opening sentence, the punch, and the impact.

It was Wednesday, my first day on the new job.  Looking back it seems funny to start on a Wednesday but I was about to have my wisdom teeth removed, so I was to come in, write samples, then have a real start once the swelling went down.  It was April 17, 2013, two days after the Boston Marathon Bombing.  I stepped into the newsroom, observing the world around me, the excitement, terror, the thrill of having a story that completely shook the nation to it's core.  Growing up in Boston, I had woken up that Marathon Monday with a twinge of jealousy that my family and friends had the day off, that they'd be lining up the streets of route 27 in Natick to watch their loved ones run like the wind.  I knew a handful of people running and sent my well wishes.  When the bomb went off my heart stopped.

The days that followed were a media mad house.  The brothers were on the run, on their way to New York was it?  Who were they?  Why did they do this?  Who would be next?  Why was no one answering their phones?  As I tried to block out the media storm, I found myself standing in the center of it, in a fast paced newsroom in downtown San Diego.

"I want you to write this story", my new boss said as she handed me an Associated Press release about the bombing.  My stomach churned as I took a seat at the computer and began to type.

The story was already mine before those first words.  The Bostonian in me had already written the story ten fold.  Over the last two years the story remained mine.  I wrote copy again during Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial, and again during the one year anniversary of the Marathon.  I watched as my friends unable to complete their first race crossed the finish line in 2014.  And now just two years after the first time I told the story, the jury has finally started it's final chapter.

Death by lethal injection.  I read the words over and over again in pure shock.  Was this was I had in store for my story?  No.  That's the hardest part of being a writer; realizing it's never just your story.  It's all of ours.  My version is that of a Bostonian living a little too far away from home, missing the runners from the finish line, whilst the din of a media-driven work place pushes deadlines.  Your version may include the final sentencing as a happy ending, an end to something you weren't sure you really cared about as that Monday, lets face it, didn't change anything in your life.  Another's story may include hundreds of surgeries to fix the body that got caught in the blast that Monday.

We're sitting in a circle, telling each other about that one time, getting nudged in the ribs because someone else tells it better.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

But First Let Me Take a Selfie

Selfies have become the modern idea of a self portrait.  In fact, people have become famous on their self-taken snaps, just look at Kim Kardashian's latest 'accomplishment', a book full of 'selfies', rightfully titled Selfish.  We're all guilty of the fad.  We turn the camera on ourselves, sometimes out of necessity because there legitimately isn't someone else to take a photo, whilst other times we're simply guilty of the "...but first let me take a selfie" situation.  We post our selfies, use various selfie themed hash tags, and receive 'likes' as validation for our lives.

But are we, like Kim, being selfish?  Are we so self-centered that the only way to show who we are, our successes or failures, is by turning the camera backwards?

I've recently taken quite a few selfies and gotten quite a few likes.  Basically I'm #winning on Social Media.
57 likes on Facebook
47 likes on Facebook
Each of the following photos is indeed a selfie, posted for numerous reasons.  Such as "damn I look good today, why not share it", "check out my new tattoo" and "hey look at me smiling on top of a mountain".  The reasons we "selfie" don't really matter and the hashtags that follow are merely the fluff that comes with our online perception.  We get 'likes', proving that yeah "I did look damn good that day, thanks online community".  But is that reality?

Plain and simple; No. Our lives are constantly judged by our online presence.  Have you ever met someone who confesses they don't have a Facebook?  Suddenly you're wondering what's wrong with them.  Of course there isn't anything wrong with them, they just choose to use their time offline, remember?  Just picture the 1990s.  You called your friends, wrote letters to those near and far and framed your selfie on top of that mountain, after you waited a week for CVS to develop the film.  And when something truly exciting happened in your life, you picked up the phone, wrote letters and were proud of yourself regardless of what the Internet said.

So when something exciting happened in between my "selfie" taking, I turned to social media to tell my friends, family and acquaintances all about it.

I was part of a news team nominated for an Emmy award. Yes, folks, an Emmy award.  And no matter how many selfies I take or how many 'likes' I get, the possibility of winning that gold trophy to put on my mantle piece is ridiculously exciting.  I posted, I hashtagged, I waited.  A day went by and only a single 'like'.  Meanwhile I posted yet another selfie, earning 40 likes within the hour.  So why does the visual of me on top of the mountain get the likes, but an exciting career changing "on top of the mountain" moment goes unnoticed?
40 likes on Facebook

It got me thinking about reality, virtual vs. actual, what makes us, us?  Sure our physical 'selfies' show off the color of our eyes and the fact we climbed Potato Chip Rock once or twice in our lives, but do measure our successes and failures?  And if we do have a seriously successful moment, how exactly are we suppose to share it in a world of likes and number of views?

We can tell the world about anything we want in a click of a button.  Who we are dating, who we are hanging out with, where and when, what new foods we are or aren't eating.  And of course we can always share the negative side, who do we dislike, disagree with, who do we hate?

Are we really that shallow, that selfish, that we only notice the physically attractive side of social media?  My physical accomplishments somehow mean more in terms of 'likes' than an Emmy nomination, which completely blows my mind.  Perhaps my tombstone will read "Emmy nominated Journalist, wonderful Mother and wife... oh and she was hot when she was 26".

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The View from Cowles Mt.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  And the same rang true with the view from the summit of Cowles Mountain last night.  Standing as the highest point within the city limits of San Diego, the 45 minute hike to the summit offers spectacular views of the entire city, including the beaches, downtown and even Tijuana on a good day.  And it's safe to say these pictures say more than I could ever attempt... #stunnah.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Actually Skeptical

"You know what?  He was actually really nice!"

I could hear the shock in my own voice, when I began to realize what was wrong with the picture.  I had met a new friend for drinks and was surprised that he turned out to be a nice human being.  I was surprised.  I had met him briefly at a bar after a few beers, so when he asked for my number, I didn't think twice about handing it out.  It's not the smartest move for a young woman living alone in a busy metropolitan city, but I threw caution to the wind and agreed to grab a drink with him later in the week.

There we were joking about the perma-stoned attitude of San Diego, the fact that those things you sprinkle on top of your ice cream are called 'jimmies' and not 'sprinkles', and a love of local IPAs.  Can you say new bestie material?  He was genuine, up-front, and was even excited when I ordered a round of fried pickles.  Later in the week while talking to a friend I told her about my new friend.

"You know what? He was actually really nice!"

Immediately she rolled her eyes, explaining how I should be careful, that no one is nice anymore.  That's when it hit me, she's right.

The thing is, we've come to expect the worst of people.  They crap on us, let us down, break our hearts, trick us into giving them what they want for nothing in return.  Whatever happened to a blank slate?  We're so convinced the world is out to get us, especially when it comes to having a drink with a guy.  But I couldn't blame her.  The shock in my own voice as I told her I felt he was genuine was too obvious to ignore.  And I too, judged the world around me, expecting the worst and accepting the genuine surprise when someone holds the door open for me or even says please and thank you.

We're skeptics are heart.  Whatever happened to be genuinely shocked that someone was an asshole?  My father used to be a limo-driver and through out his career drove some high name clientele, including Bill Cosby.  Now of course America's favorite father has been receiving more than enough hate recently, but when my dad revealed he had been one of the worst passengers in his career, we were shocked.  Fast forward a decade later to the present and I tell the "Cosby's an asshole" story and most people don't bat an eyelash, responding with something like "I can see that" or "yeah, doesn't surprise me".  But why doesn't it surprise us?  Are we really that horrible as people?  I can't remember the last time I legitimately hurt, used or abused someone intentionally.  I say my pleases, thank-yous, bless-yous, and I even apologize when you're the one who walks into me.  So what happened to us?

Working in the news it's hard not to be.  You hear a police call and immediately assume the worse.  Perhaps we're simply preferring ourselves not to be let down by yet another flaw in humanity.  There are bad people out there, evil exists, and all that stuff.  But what about the good?  Is our skepticism based on reality or just the fear of disappointment?

My new bestie never called again.  Perhaps he wasn't so nice after all. The next day, while telling my friend, she simply replied "yeah, doesn't surprise me".

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Give me Tetley's or Give me Death

I'm a sucker for a good cup of coffee or tea.  And while most people argue you're either a tea person or a coffee person, I find I flip flop based on a number of things.  For instance, at home I would never even consider making coffee.  It wouldn't even cross my mind unless I had one of those fancy espresso makers so the coffee actually tasted like something other than dirty water.  And if I am out, say at Starbucks, I rarely order tea, cuz' lets face it, no one actually knows how to make a good cuppa' on this side of the pond.  Give me Tetleys or give me death, seriously.

So how does one make a good "cuppa" tea, you ask?  Thank goodness you're asking.

Rule #1: Never EVER make tea in the microwave.

As a child, I'd venture over to friends homes for sleepovers.  Their parents knew my father was English and I was big on tea.  What they failed to comprehend was how to make that tea.  Microwaves are our go-to here in the U.S.A. they're convenient, easy, and fast.  Mmmm taste that radiation.  And while some things are great in a microwave (left over mac and cheese please!) tea is not one of them.  Add the extra 2 minutes and use a kettle, you'll taste the difference immediately.

Rule #2: Know your tea type.

White, black, ooolong, green? What does it all mean!  Lets start out with your basic black teas.  These are the Liptons, Nesteas and the whole lot.  English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Earl Greys, mmmm the list continues.  Black teas are great with milk and sugar (the only way to really drink these) but many Americans prefer to drink them with a dab of honey.  Then there's your white teas.  These tend to be light and floral, and known as the purest of all teas.  Pure, because it's also the least processed.  You'll find these teas in the porcelain pots of Asia.  Speaking of Asia, lets move onto green tea.  The trendiest of all the teas, suddenly every hipster in the world has some sort of Matcha Green Brown Rice tea blend in their thermos.  Green tea can be fantastic, don't get me wrong.  It's our "Asian food go-to", yes I'll have a cup with my shrimp fried rice, and can be great if you're trying to loose weight.   Honestly I could write an entire article on the health benefits of each type of tea alone, but I won't go there.  Figure out what you like, what you want out of it, and if you're still not getting it, then click here for the shorter version.

Rule #3: Talk about timing.

As a kid, my father used to joke about the tea "turning to beer".  That's when one of us would forget about the cup steeping on the counter and when we returned, it'd be the color of a dark stout rather than the ale color we'd prefer.  Timing is everything. Leave it too long and we're looking at a strong cup that may kick you in the butt.  Too short, and you've got a watery mess.

Rule #4: Curl up and sip.

Some of the most important and meaningful conversations one can have are over a cuppa', so curl up, sit back and enjoy your cup.  Whether it's a literal conversation with a loved one, new friend, or often in my case my little Sushi cat, listen, sip, and love.

Here's to your next cuppa.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

"Mom, Can I stay up Late"?

As far as I'm concerned there are two types of people in this world; You are either a "morning person" or a "night owl".  There is no in between, end of story.

As kids our parents would recite "early to bed, early to rise..." and that saying about the early bird getting the worm.  We're taught it's a good thing to get out of bed at a reasonable hour, earlier than our minds might like.  As we grow into our teenage years we stay up later, flourishing in the rebelliousness of the promise of night, and sleep in past the mail delivery.

As adults, we tend to fall back into our parents mantra or remain content with our late nights and longer mornings, hence the two types of people.  And what makes it more interesting, these patterns really don't have much to do with the amount of sleep we're getting.  If I go to bed at 8 p.m. and wake up at 4 a.m., I am getting the same amount of sleep as someone who goes to bed at 2 a.m. and wakes up at 10 a.m.

But who is right?  Is one better than the other?  Turns out a recent study is proving perhaps what we always knew, Mom and Dad were right.  The study found that staying up later leads to a higher risk for numerous unhealthy conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure and even cardiovascular disease.

And while I may so no "in between" people, you know those annoying ones who can get up at the crack of dawn and stay up till all the cows come home, the study included this third group.  They found that "night owls" tended to have more belly fat and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Scary right?  We all know getting enough sleep is key to health, but when you go to bed?  Go figure.  Unfortunately I'm not the best judge when it comes to falling asleep.  Most nights my insomnia steals more than just the covers.  But I've compiled a list of strategies to getting not only a good nights sleep, but an early one too.

  • Decide when you are going to get up in the morning and aim for that time every single day.  Seriously make yourself get up, even if you don't have anywhere to be.  Soon enough your body will begin to wake up naturally at the same time, regardless of Monday morning work meeting or Saturday morning yoga class.
  • Avoid the snooze button.  I just got a new phone and I actually turned off the snooze features.  (I know what you're thinking... no snooze? She's crazy!)  Now if I want to sleep for a few more moments, I have to take the extra step with setting an additional alarm.  And usually by the time I pick up my phone open settings, and begin figuring out how to get 8 more minutes, I'm not going to be able to fall back asleep anyways.
  • And when it comes to looking at your phone, don't!  Put away all your screens (yes even Netflix) at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Design a routine.  Remember as a kid, you knew bedtime was approaching because your mom was drawing a bath.  You knew it would soon be time to rinse away the dirt of the day, pick a book and get tucked in.  Why should that change as an adult?  Design a routine for yourself.  Whether it's dimming the lights 30 minutes before, or perhaps drinking an herbal tea or reading a chapter in the latest best seller.  If you're really stumped, draw yourself a bath, after all it worked when you were 6.
  • Love your bedroom and make it only for sleeping.  If you're like me, you're always in bed doing something.  Reading, writing, eating (ahh the crumbs!) or hanging out.  Get out of bed!  Bed is meant for sleeping only, so don't go there unless you're ready for those zzz's.
It's funny how quickly routines seem to keep us in line, instead of having your morning coffee at the table, take it for a walk around the block.  Energize yourself.  Not only will it pay off in the long run, but it's going to help you sleep better at night too.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Monday, May 04, 2015

Worth Every Hairball

It's the age old question; Are you a cat person or a dog person?

Those of us who say we love dogs exude happiness, we metaphorically wag our tails and like long walks, sniffing each other and of course all those bones and treats we bury in our backyards for a late night snack.  We're cuddlers, we're quick to love, quick to forgive, and we'll be your best friend until the grave.

Unfortunately if you're a cat person the stereotype isn't as pretty.  We're abrasive, quick to judge, smirking at you like we're better.  We lick ourselves clean while you roll in the dirt, and retreat to our corners of solitude with a feline attitude that can knock even your sad puppy eyes off the radar.  We'll most likely die alone in our apartment until the neighbors notice a strange smell.

But what if you're both?  What if you, like most everything in the real world, fall into the in between, that grey category of wanting both a welcoming meow and a loving bark when you come home from a long day?  I've met dogs that I could steal and dogs that I wouldn't mind leaving on a deserted island.  And the same of course goes for cats, the majority of them are independent neurotic and want your love only when it's most inconvenient, but then you meet a cool cat and viola!  You're hooked for life.

So why are cats and their lovers so misunderstood?

Haven't you ever had a cat nap on your lap and give you that oh-so-magic purr for hours on end?  Seriously, purring is more than just emotional support.  Studies show that when cats purr within a range of 20-140 Hertz, we may actually be benefiting.  It's been proven to lower stress, lessen symptoms of despnoea and even strengthen bones.  Maybe those crazy Cat Cafes have got exactly what you need to add a few years to your life.  After all cats do have 9.

Aside from the purring, cats are super low maintenance.  They come "litter-trained", and if you're as lucky as I am, your kitty may even learn how to use the toilet!  Not only do you not have to clean up their mess or buy those endless doggie bags, but you don't have to bathe them. Seriously do they ever stop licking themselves?

Still not convinced they're awesome?  Have you ever played with a cat?  Why don't you just start there.  They're incredibly agile, flexible and love to nibble on your toes.  My cat even plays fetch with his favorite toy (a squeaking care bear, yeah thanks Mom) oh and did I mention he plays with himself?  It's one of the most entertaining things to watch.

Ok so us cat owners definitely have less mess, will probably end up living longer and endless hours of entertainment but what's more, a recent study showed cat owners may be more intelligent than dog owners.  Some argue it all comes down to the type of personality suited for a dog vs. a cat.  A cat person may be more likely to read the newspaper in the morning with coffee, while a dog person may be out walking their dog or on a jog.  Cat people tend to be more introverted, independent, and sensitive, whilst dog people tend to be more lively and social.  Then again we're just going with stereotypes here.

So I'll ask you again; Are you a cat person or a dog person... or

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, May 03, 2015

The 'Marmite' of Yoga

"What are your plans tonight"?

It's a simple enough question, one I personally get asked numerous times a day by colleagues, clients, family, friends, etc.  And my answer recently has been one and only one; "Going to Bikram".

I've written in the past about Bikram and his set of 26 postures, the amazing weight loss results, and it's numerous other health benefits.  But at the end of the day, the practice isn't just a work out, it's an addiction.  Yes, My name is Miss Barnacle and I am an addict.

Okay all together now; "Hi Miss Barnacle".

The thing is, Bikram isn't just a yoga practice.  It's intense, you have to prepare the entire day for the 90 minute class, be aware of what you're eating, how much water you're drinking, whether or not that glass of wine from last night is going to hurt detoxing from your pores.  And then there is the whole alone with your own thoughts for 90 minutes thing.  Talk about therapy.  There is no middle ground, you either love what it does to your life or you hate it.  Bikram is the Marmite of yoga.

And lets face it, if you're going to fall in love with something, become addicted and let it run your life, you can get hooked on far worse things than yoga!  So here are some surefire signs that you've become an addict, after all the first step is admitting you have a problem.

You need to do it.
Think about it like this, if you're an average American you're showing up to work 5 days a week.  Now look at your yoga attendance.  Is it on par?  Or perhaps you're going 6 or 7 days.  And if so, that trumps showing up for the money.  Addicts might argue yoga is money for the mind, soul and body, but that's getting into all that yogi hooey.  And even if you're not actually making it to class everyday, there isn't a day goes by when you don't think "I could definitely use some Bikram today".

And when you do make it to class, running late is your worst nightmare.
Every Bikram yogi knows not to be late.  First of all the teacher won't let you in, you'll distract the rest of class, and be that person.  Not to mention running to class, your elevated heart rate is definitely going to screw up your first few postures.  Bikram teaches you to be on time, emotionally and physically, that's for sure.

And speaking of being on time, you're suddenly prepared for anything.
Class prep starts 24 hours before you actually step into the yoga studio.  Your practice actually starts to control your life.  What you eat, when you sleep, how much water you drink.  Suddenly you're thinking about whats going in and out of your body in the best way possible.  You start to do things to make your practice easier, like smaller meals 4 hours before class, going to bed earlier, passing on that late night drink and sipping water religiously through out the day.  But seriously whether you make it to that class or not, you're ready for anything.

It's so good you're willing to bring anyone to class.
After all it changed your life, it'll change theirs.  One my teachers always says if you want to build, fix, or create the best relationship you'll ever have bring that person to a Bikram class.  She's right.  The few people I've introduced have continued to practice after I forced them to get sweaty.  Preach your practice sister!

And you're totally thinking about taking the studio's 30-day challenge.
Unfortunately I'm unable to take the challenge as my 90-hour, 7 day work weeks get in the way of class scheduling, but I'm constantly thinking about quitting just so I can do the 30-day challenge.  Bring it on Bikram!

Being Naked no longer matters.
When I first started practicing I wore a shirt over my sports bra, now I'm down to booty shorts and just a bra.  Regulars show up wearing itty bitty pieces of fabric, just covering their bits, which lets face it can be very intimidating.  Give in to the addiction and soon enough, you too will shed the clothing.  Not only can you check out your new hot bod, but the more clothes you've got on, the harder class is going to get.  Not to mention covering up your body makes it a lot harder to work on your alignment.

Other types of yoga are BS.
I took a yoga class the other day and thought, what the ____ did I just waste an hour doing?  And before you, a yoga-lover, roll your eyes, let me admit I'm not a hater.  I love me some yoga, but after Bikram's 26 postures in a heated room, I'm just a bigger fan.  Not only do you get to know the postures (the same 26 postures are preformed from China to NYC) but the heat makes your body bend in ways you never thought possible.

Have I convinced you yet? Go get addicted.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Saturday, May 02, 2015

Saturday Inspiration: Pacific Crest Trail Hike

Andy took a walk.  Ok so it wasn't just a walk, he set out on a 2600 mile journey along the Pacific Crest Trail and took a "selfie" at every single mile.

Andy writes:
Simply put, I did the hike for the challenge, and this was the hardest simple thing I could think of. In life I get rewarded for finding short cuts to things, being creative in the face of a challenge, problem solving, etc. But there's a lot of things I want to achieve in life, and as I've grown older I have begun to worry that they may not happen. So I wanted to test my limitations, fears and commitment by doing something that had no short cuts. You either hike every foot of the trail (from Mexico to Canada) or you don't.
Taking a photo of myself every mile wasn't about vanity, but rather a way for me to fully commit to the whole hike. If I were to quit or skip ahead at any point, myself and everyone else would know it. Apart from that, I simply wanted to document my transformation in a memorable way. Unlike a meandering walk in the woods, the PCT is a fairly well defined path that is in part quantified by it's length, which is why I chose every mile as the framework for my pictures and video.
Not sure about you all but, I'm ready to get out there. Who's with me?

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Friday, May 01, 2015


I've written about change in the past, it's inevitability, the uncertainty it brings and how we cope with something different suddenly placed across our laps.  Yet still, each major change in our lives seems to take us by surprise.  We stand reeling, wondering how we got here, why it's happening right now, how are we to deal with this unexpected change?  And as the change begins to sink in, we feel silly for being so surprised.  Everything changes, our emotions, our careers, our relationships, our body image, our hair styles, the color of the trees; Everything changes over time.

And while in the past many of my "change"-themed pieces have been about changes of the heart or mind, this particular piece is inspired by change in appearance, both in attitude and, down to the very basics, a physical change.

In the last month I have lost around 20 pounds.  Yes, you read that right, and no it's not healthy, but it happened none the less.  And whilst my closet doubled in size as my "skinny" jeans are now my normal jeans, my fashion choices aren't the only change I'm dealing with.

Suddenly strangers are nicer, the smiles on the street quadrupled, the "hellos" and "how are yous" flood in with complements.  It's not the first time I've been treated differently because of weight loss, yet I'm surprised yet again with not only my physical change but the change of those around me.  Suddenly the outfit I wore three weeks ago is "stunning" or "beautiful" today.  So like any "good" writer, I began scribbling down all the comments I've been getting, both good and bad.

 "You look so god damned beautiful today".

"Oh my god, tell me your secret you're looking so tiny"!

"Hey Snow White, give me a smile".

"Are you ok? I mean you're looking amazing, don't get me wrong... but... yeah".

 "Wow you are beautiful, I never noticed before".

"You are actually really sexy".

"Wow whatever you're doing is definitely working for me".

"You look really tired, is it because you're no longer fat"?

"I didn't realize you were actually skinny".

"Don't you think you've lost enough"?

"You're looking good these days".

"You should stop loosing weight, you're definitely losing way too much".

Skinny or fat, I am actually beautiful.  It's funny how a few pounds less and the comments come flooding in.  The neon sign pointing to my flat stomach is suddenly fully lit, and I'm the center of attention.  And frankly it's beyond insulting. So I sit and smile and pretend the change doesn't phase me, but truth be told it's unexpected, each and every time I'm thrown off guard.

It got me thinking about what changes with weight loss or gain.  The biggest change isn't the size of your waist line but the way people perceive you and your actions. And it's not just about compliments.  People begin asking for lunch or dinner recommendations, and commenting on the salad you are eating today, even though it's the same meal you had 20 pounds ago.  You've lost 20 pounds which in society's eyes means you're not only physically different but you're worth more, your opinion on what to wear, eat, do, suddenly becomes more important because you're winning.

But what if the transformation was like most change unexpected?  You didn't change your diet or hairstyle, you didn't change your wardrobe or personal interests.  Yet still the world sees a physically different person and treats you as such.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Friday, April 24, 2015

The Darkness and The Babadook

I've always had a love-hate relationship with scary movies.  I've been drawn to them in fascination, transfixed on the ability to scare us as humans with anything and everything under the sun.  I always wondered why certain people feared clowns over poltergeists or drowning over being burnt alive.  Growing up, I would stay up late, watching the shows and movies I knew would give me nightmares.  I didn't want to be scared, that sick feeling in your stomach, the quickening of your heart rate that leaves you breathless; it's one of the worst feelings in the world.  But to understand fear, to really break apart whatever it was that scared me, that's where my fascination lies.

Recently I've been watching more and more scary movies.  Going through the most recent blockbusters and picking up a few lesser titles and giving them a chance.  So when a friend suggested I watch Babadook, I got on my Netflix and hit play on a rainy afternoon.

The film is a far cry from the monsters of current Hollywood.  It's not a ghost or some spirit that drags you across the ceiling, leaves strange cult-like marks on your skin or bathroom walls, and the gore is minimal.  Without spoiling the entire film, Amelia is a broken single mother who lost her husband in a tragic car accident while they were driving to the hospital to give birth to her son, Sam.  It's been 7 years, but Amelia can't seem to get out of her own sadness and it's taken a toll on Sam, labeling him as the odd one out at school.  Sam discovers a children's book called "Mister Babadook" about a monster that appears friendly at first, but if you "let it in" will show it's true colors.  Of course strange things begin to happen at night and the monster reveals itself within their home.  Unlike the current ghost stories or monster movies, Babadook is more than just a monster that lives in our closet or underneath our bed.  He lives within us, he is the darkness, the sadness, and despair that exists in the depths of humanity.

The film got me thinking about monsters, the idea of evil introduced to us as children.  In a way perhaps preparing us for the real world.  For when we grow up, we realize there are monsters inside us all.  For Amelia and Sam, one thing is clear, they desperately love one another, but are terrified of themselves and the potential darkness within each of them.  The Babadook feeds off their instability, Amelia is unable to cope with the loss, leaving Sam without the traditional form of mother's love.

The film takes a twist when the monster possessed Amelia, begging the question; is she possessed or is the Babadook just a darker part of Amelia.  Either way, Sam takes action promising his mother that he will love her no matter what, that she cannot see how deeply she too loves him because she let the Babadook in.

Monster or no monster, the film has great merit when it comes to fear.  The idea of letting something in, letting in manifest internally as fear, that's what fear is all about.  Carl Jung, founding father of analytical psychology once said; "To confront a person with his own Shadow is to show him his own light".

As the film closes, the monster hasn't left but is trapped in the basement with all of Sam's father's things.  The monster will never leave, it's simply put into the depths of Amelia's home, perhaps into the depths of her heart until she lets in the loss, sadness, and perhaps goes into the basement to look through her late husbands things once more.  She acknowledged her monster, her Babadook, which perhaps as Jung implied is the only way to truly see the light.

The film didn't leave me looking underneath my bed at night, but looking deeper within myself.  What darkness lies within us?  And can we ever really escape it?  Or are we destined to keep it in the basement of our hearts until the next garage sale.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning isn't just about riding your closet of winter clothes, especially for those of us living in a place where the sun always shines and crop tops are a legitimate option even in the dead of winter.  Spring cleaning is about welcoming a new season, new dreams, new goals, new new new!

So ask yourself, what is it that needs to change?  Start with a bad habit.  Maybe it's biting your nails, maybe it's jumping to conclusions a little too fast, or perhaps you've got one hell of a sweet tooth.  Whatever it is, take a step towards riding yourself of the habit.

What about the things that scare you?  Are they holding you back?  Start by acknowledging the fear, create awareness around it, commit yourself to facing it head on.  And the same goes for beliefs.  Dump the beliefs that have been holding you back.  The "I can'ts" must go. You can.

So you're starting to rid your life of the negatives, why not fill those holes with positives.  Track your life, what works? What doesn't work?  What is worth spending time on?  Fit in the things and people that matter.  Repair or build upon the relationships that have been swept to the side.  Tell them you love them, no matter what kind of love it is.  Get healthy.  Seriously, the winter months are over so that spare tire isn't doing you any good anymore.  The better your health, the better your energy.

And sure your wardrobe could use an update, it's spring after all.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fleet Night of Science

Last Thursday, we ventured to the first Fleet Night of Science at San Diego's Ruben H. Fleet Science Center.  After living in cities like London, with it's vast and mostly free museums, and Boston where the intellectuals of Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern come together to share knowledge, Balboa Park's Science Museum fails to impress.  But with 8 (yes, only 8) exhibits, you too can check out the museum (for the steep entry fee of 17.95).  So when complimentary tickets fell into my lap for the museum's first "Adult" night, I couldn't come up with a reason not to go.

I arrived around 7:00 p.m., 30 minutes after the night began, to find the museum's main entry way had been transformed into a craft beer hall.  Local brews decorated the room and at just $4 a bottle, everyone seemed to be in good spirits.  I ordered a Ballast Point IPA and took a seat at the first table I saw.  Large blue plastic bins were placed in front of us, various ingredients like baking soda, a yellow liquid, and water were strewn about.  That's when I noticed the plastic covering on the floor.  This was going to be messy.  I removed myself and my beer from the table and decided to sit this one out.  Soon the dozen or so people around the rectangular table were pouring the ingredients into zip lock bags.  A quick shake and bang, exploding zip lock bags galore.

Unfortunately the upstairs exhibits were closed to the public, while the DJ stood over the crowd mixing jazz with electronic beats.  I mingled through the crowd, clinking my beer with the throngs of couples and academic types.  A neurosurgeon introduced himself, explaining he was there to give a talk about neurons, that by chance was starting in 10 minutes.  I followed him into the theatre and took my seat.

He began with an introduction to the brain, what makes us tick? What does the brain do? He then brought out a container of cockroaches, removing one from the plastic tank and asking for an anesthesiologist from the crowd.  A young woman raised her hand and placed the roach in a cup of freezing water. Numb and done.  He then asked for a surgeon to come to the front.  Another young woman arrived, doing as he instructed, she cut off the leg of the roach and hooked it up to sensors, to measure electromagnetic waves from the tip of the roach's toes to it's brain, which was sitting 3 feet away in the cup of cold water.  Hooking the sensors to a microphone, we were soon hearing it's "brain waves" each time the furry toes of the roach were poked.  I couldn't help but feel sorry for the roach as I got up and ordered another beer.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April Showers bring...

© The Traveling Barnacle

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