8 Annoying Habits That Will Make People Unfollow You on Instagram

Posted on Apr 15, 2016 in Funny, Popular


Instagram is popular.  There are over 400 million active users and they claim that about 1 in 5 people that use the internet, post their photos to Instagram. That  is pretty amazing considering Instagram is relatively new to the photography world, having launched 5 years ago.

But it isn’t all fun and games with Instagram.  Like the real world there are annoying people that can really chap your hide.  I read an interesting thread on Reddit this week and it was fascinating.  It was about annoying habits that photographers do on Instagram that make people want to unfollow them.  You can read it here – Annoying Instagram Users

I decided to do some research on the subject and found that there are 9 super annoying things that will make someone want to unfollow you on Instagram.  This isn’t what I say.  This is what people on the internet say when asked. Don’t be “That Guy” and fall into any of these bad habits.

#1 Posting Too Many of the Same Looking Photo Day after Day

Really want to annoy someone on Instagram?  Than post similar looking photos everyday.  If you really, really want to annoy someone, post your face in a similar looking picture everyday.  Like this guy – His name is Mr Pimp Good Name and he is the King of the Selfie.  You can check out his profile here – The King.

The Self Proclaimed King of the Selfie never gets tired of his own face.


#2 Tricking People into Following You, Then Unfollowing Them

This is the one that bugs me the most.  To get followers, people on Instagram will follow other people with the hope that they will follow them back.  It is sort of like unspoken Instagram etiquette to follow back people that follow you.

But some people take advantage of that and quickly unfollow people after they have received the benefit of the other person following them.  I call this person the Tricky Follower in that the fool you into following them.

You can always tell the Tricky Follower because they have thousands of followers but follow no one.


#3 OverPosting or Posting Too Many Boring Photos In A Single Day

Face it.  If you are posting more than 1 photo on Instagram a day you are posting Too Much!  People that follow you can digest about 1 photo from you a day and if you are posting more you are probably boring them out of their mind and they are likely to unfollow you.   Posting too much might get you featured on this Tumblr Account – The Worlds Most Boring Instagram Photos.

Ya didn’t really need to post this stupid pic did ya?


#4 Putting Quotes on All Your Photos

Hey I like photo quotes as much as the next guy but if you are posting pictures and every single one of them has an inspirational quote on them,  you might be overdoing it.  Besides I never find that the people that post inspiration quotes everyday are very accomplished.  If you are posting too many photo quotes you might find yourself dropping in popularity rapidly!

Use your Photo Quotes Sparingly to Have the Most Impact on Someone.


#5  Advertising Too Much (Or Maybe at All) 

The worst. No one likes to feel like they got fooled into watching an advertisement but this can get to be a big problem on Instagram with people that essentially turn their accounts into big billboards for advertisers.   The worst offenders are celebrities typically that have huge followings.  They advertise so much they are called “Adstagrammers”.  Here is an article on it – The Worst Offenders.

Scott Disick is the King of Adstagrammers


#6 Posting Too Many Photo Cliches

This one kills me.  Photo cliches are photos that are so overused that they lose their original importance or meaning.  And Instagram is literally full of them. You know you have seen them.   They lack originality.  They are more style over substance.  And they are boring.  And the internet says if you post too many of them, you are likely to get UNFOLLOWED on Instagram.

Here are some of the all time favorite photo cliches on Instagram.

The Ultimate WanderLust Shot Looking over Nature


 Hey Guess What, I am a Photographer.


I have a floppy hat and shades standing in nature.


#7  Overkill on the HashTags 

And then there are those people that just overkill on the hashtags on every picture.  Most people don’t even read hashtags.  They just glaze over them.  But that doesn’t prevent people from lines and lines of them on every picture. #nofilter,#justsaying,#blessed,#rageblackout, #winning,#luckygirl, # skinnygirlproblems, #helloasshole, #ilovecats, #MuslimRage, #daddycool, #badhashtag.  Get it?  Do these too  much and it will get so obnoxious people will stop following you.


#8 –  Going Ape Shit on the HDR Look

HDR is cool.  HDR is also very not cool.  You have to be careful to use it pretty sparingly or people will get very annoyed with you.  Bad HDR is notorious on the internet and people are getting pretty fed up with it.  If you have never seen bad HDR, you can check out this site to see some real doozies – Cringeworthy Examples of HDR.

Hey even I was guilty of this back early in my photography career and I went way overboard!

I went Ape Shit with HDR back in the day. #sorry, #notsorry.


Don’t be that Guy

Ok, so now you know.  Don’t be that guy.  Try to avoid some of the pitfalls and annoying habits that will make you Public Enemy #1 on Instagram.  Have fun and remember, The only person you should try to better than is the person you were yesterday.

5 Things We Can Learn About Giving Better Presentations from The Donald

Posted on Apr 5, 2016 in Popular


First off, I do not support Donald Trump for President and I am sure that I never will.  I am totally against Donald Trump as President and think it would be a “disaster” using his own words.

But, in saying that I realized the other day that there are a few things I can learn from him. He has done remarkably in getting so many people to follow him.  There are some things that he does very well and making people feel an emotional response when he speaks is probably one of those things.

The New York Kid

I view Donald Trump as the quintessential New Yorker;  bold, brash and unafraid to express an definitive opinion.   In today’s busy world where people have a limited attention span that type of direct communication can be very effective.  When Donald Trump speaks, people listen.  Whether they like it or not, they listen.

For work, I have to present quite a bit.  Sometimes when I am presenting, I can see people’s eyes glazing over.  That’s when I know I might need to use some Donald Trump techniques to get everyone back on track.

Here are 5 things we can learn from Donald Trump to make our presentations better.

#1 – Keep it Simple Stupid

Donald Trump speaks at a 4th grade level.  His simpleton speak is not my analysis, rather the analysis conducted by speech analyst on all the politicians.  Donald Trump had the lowest grade level of any candidate.

By speaking simply, Donald Trump makes sure his big messages are understood.  Also, by speaking simply he doesn’t leave anybody out of the conversation.

In presentations, if we use simple language, avoid acronyms we can help people focus on our big messages.  After all, you are lucky if people remember 1 or 2 things from your presentation.

Simple Jack Could Even Speak to Horses by Keeping it Simple

simple jack

#2 – Repeat your Message, Repeat it Again. (And Again)

There is no one that understands better than Trump that repeating yourself is remarkably effective in getting people to remember your message.  He does it to the extreme and it works so much in his favor. You will never forget what he says because he just keeps saying it.

In presentations, repetition of the same phrase throughout the presentation is very effective.  Pick your theme sentence and say it at least 10 times during your presentation.  It works!

#3  Embellish A Bit for The Sake of The Story

Donald Trump has a great way of throwing a personal story in to many points that he makes.  And he is not afraid of taking it over the top.   When Donald Trump sells steaks he says, “These are the Best Steaks in the World”.  Even though I highly doubt them, I find myself wanting to grill one of those steaks up to try it out.

In presentations, the personal anecdote is very important.  If you are selling something then say it is the best in the world. I do it all the time and find it to be very effective.  “This is the best software we have ever launched and it is changing the way people look at fraud”

Another New Yorker, My Dad was a master at this like Trump.  He used to spin yarns so tall that stories would be unbelievable.  Like when he opened a small insurance company and put a bell on top of the agency saying it had tremendous historical significance.  Fricken brilliant marketing.  True?  Not even close but he got it in the paper!


#4- Say it Like you Really Believe it

Donald Trump takes people along for the ride.  He says something emphatically and people buy into it.  I don’t actually believe that he believes in most of what he says but he says it like it is the most important thing to him and everyone loves it.

In presentations, if you are passionate about what you are presenting, people will follow you and what you say.  If you act like you could care less or you don’t own what you are presenting people will die of boredom.  I know that I have.

Mexico is going to pay for the Wall!

trump believes

#5  Know your Audience

Trump knows what people want to hear.  And then he proceed to tell them exactly what they want to hear.  Now I am not saying that this is right but it has gotten him about 30% of the Americans to respond positively to his story.

What we can take away from this is Trump’s tremendous instinct on tailoring his message to the audience.  Before he goes in to give any speech, he knows the type of people that will be in the room and exactly what they are interested in hearing.

When giving a presentation, I always try to understand who is going to be in the room and what their hot buttons are. If I can tailor my message around what they care about, I know I can generate an emotional response from them and have them listen to what I have to say.

What you want to say, vs what your audience cares about



Thanks for reading!

(Photos from Gage Skidmore, Amanda Ryan)

Scouting for San Diego’s Best Pollo Asado Joints

Posted on Jan 4, 2016 in Popular


Mexican Food in San Diego is Special

My name is Frank McKenna. I was born here in San Diego.  I realize we’re blessed with some of the most authentic Mexican food in the US.  Maybe that’s because we are so close to Tijuana and many people come up here to start restaurants, or maybe it’s because we can get ingredients that make our food unique.

I grew up in the 80’s in Chula Vista and experienced my first Carne Asada burrito at Roberto’s on Broadway.  It was amazing and simple (steak, guacamole and salsa).  To me it was that simplicity that made burrito so memorable and so delicious.  There were no beans, rice or cheese and other things in the burrito to distract from the flavor of the meat.

No Matter Where I Go, I Can Never Find Mexican Food Like We Have Here In San Diego

Since those times, the “Taco Shop” concept in San Diego has grown.  There are taco shops everywhere.  San Diegan’s have embraced foods like the Carne Asada Burrito, The Fish Taco and The California Burrito as foods that identify our city.  And of course there is  sort of city pride associated with Taco Shops like Lolita’s. And rightly so, our food is something to be proud of.

No matter where I go in the world, I am never able to find Mexican food like we have it here in San Diego. Maybe it is the cut of meat, or the spices or the local recipes from our neighbors in TJ but our food is unique.  Mexican food in San Diego has it’s own flavor and it’s own style that you cannot find anywhere else.

We love our Carne Asada in San Diego


Now, Let’s Talk Pollo Asado

Now, lets talk about Pollo Asado.  I think Pollo Asado is some of the best Mexican food around San Diego but it gets overshadowed by the 3 giants – Carne Asado, Fish Taco’s and California Burritos.  I get it.

But Pollo Asado is still awesome and it deserves to be recognized as one of San Diego’s best Mexican food options.  Based on the number of Pollo Asado joints I see opening up, I think it quickly is rising to the top.

Pollo Asado restaurants have been slowly sprouting up all over San Diego and gaining popularity because of their family style eating option where you buy a whole chicken and then share it with the table. But more importantly Pollo Asado is often chosen because the food is deliciously healthy (far more healthy than say a California Burrito).

The Pollo Asado Basic Primer for Beginners

For those of you who have never been to El Pollo Loco or had Pollo Asado, let me give you a basic primer.  

Pollo Asado is flame grilled Mexican Chicken, typically served with a side of pinto beans (olla style) and Mexican rice.

Pollo Asado is typically butterfly’d so that it cooks evenly and it is cooked high over the flame and turned often so it doesn’t burn.

Pollo Asado is truly chicken taken to its highest level of perfection and taste.


Pollo Asado Gained Popularity in Sinaloa Mexico

Pollo Asado restaurants gained huge popularity in Northern Mexico – primarily Sinaloa where the style was primarily to marinate the chicken in a blend of citrus and other spices before putting it on the grill.  Sinaloa as a reminder is also the birthplace of Chapo Guzman.

El Pollo Loco started in Sinaloa in 1975 and other restaurants such as Super Pollo started there as well and quickly began world domination expanding all over Mexico.

El Pollo Loco, now owned by Denny’s expanded to the US in 1980 with their first location in Los Angeles and then spread to over 400 locations in the US. But those locations are all in the Southwest as they tried and failed to get the Pollo Asado concept to work in other parts of the country like Chicago.

The Breaking Bad Connection to Pollo Asado

If you are familiar with Breaking Bad, you’ll know about Los Pollos Hermanos the Pollo Asado restaurant based loosely on El Pollo Loco. The restaurant is started by two brother’s in Ciudad Juarez (which neighbors Sinaloa) switched to fried chicken so they could bury the meth Walt cooked in the large buckets of frying batter.


The Best 10 Pollo Asado Joints in San Diego

I’ve spent a long time with my brothers Patrick and Bill scouting, researching, visiting and tasting Pollo Asado throughout San Diego.  Our search had one mission – find the best Pollo Asado in San Diego.  The only rule was to keep an open mind.  We each had our favorites but we had to approach this as if we were completely new to Pollo Asado and start with a fresh mind.

So we found lots of great places.  All of our Top 10 are outstanding and should be tried.  Here is our compiled list of the best Pollo Asado Joints in San Diego. If you don’t agree, let me know!

#1 El Pollo Grill , Lemon Grove (Best Overall Pollo Asado Meal)

El Pollo Grill is San Diego’s oldest and most popular Pollo Asado joint. It is located in Lemon Grove and it is always packed.

The Local and Yelp Favorite – It has 198 reviews on Yelp and almost all 5 star ratings.  This is the local favorite in San Diego where you might even catch celebrities like Jack Black dining at.  It is clear that El Pollo Grill is the people’s choice.  And for great reason – the chicken and all the sides are delicious.

Best Overall Meal – El Pollo Grill has the best of everything.  The beans, rice and tortillas all make for the best Pollo Asado Dinner.  They even have very decent french fries that really add to the whole experience.  If you are a Pollo Loco fan, then you really need to come here because this place is way better than Pollo Loco.

They are Expanding – For Pollo Grill fans they will be happy to know that a new location is coming soon to Bonita.  This is particularly good news for us because many of our family live in Bonita so we’ll be eating Pollo Grill 7 days a week!

The atmosphere at El Pollo Grill is friendly, fast and always courteous.  This place is consistently awesome and worth a visit as you will never be disappointed.


#2 Jose’s Pollo, Barrio Logan (Most Authentic Experience)


What can I say? This was my personal favorite Pollo Asado place in San Diego but Super Pollo won more votes.  Jose’s is a very special place indeed.

It’s Totally Authentic – I have never been to a place in San Diego where I felt more like I was in Mexico.  The restaurant sits in a large parking lot and there are large BBQ’s everywhere roasting chicken. It feels like a Mexican BBQ in the middle of TJ.   This place has all of the quirky awesomeness you might experience when you dine in Mexico.

Mesquite Grilled – This is the only place in San Diego that I could find that did their Pollo Asado the traditional way over mesquite fire.  The result is extraordinary as each piece of chicken has this incredible flavor.  Not only that, but the owner opens the place at 9 am and cooks every piece of chicken himself.

The Spicy Sauce– The hidden gem of Jose’s is the spicy sauce that has been in his family for generations.  You can get your Pollo Asado natural which just has the smokey flavor or have it rubbed with his spicy sauce which has a nice cumin and saffron spicy flavor.  I recommend both.

Jose the Owner – Jose is from Acupulco and so he provides a very unique style of pollo asado you will only find at his place.  Jose, the owner is one of the reasons I like this place so much.

Jose’s Pollo Asado is served natural or with spicy sauce


#3 Super Pollo, Chula Vista (Delicious Mouthwatering Pollo Asado) CLOSED


Sadly, Super Pollo has closed all of their San Diego locations.  This is a tragedy in the San Diego Pollo Asado scene because this place was amazing.  Sorry friends.

We agonized over our #3 pick quite a bit.  Super Pollo had the best tasting chicken in our opinion but the ambience and the service just wasn’t to the level of Pollo Grill in Lemon Grove.  Super Pollo is amazing though and very worthy of a trip to Chula Vista.  I highly, highly recommend it!

The Flavor is Extraordinary -The citrus marinade really came through and Super Pollo was always consistently perfectly broiled, never burned.   The salsa’s, guacamole, beans and rice were superb and their tortillas appeared to be hand made.

It’s Authentic Like Mexico  -Super Pollo was started in Sinaloa Mexico (the same place El Pollo Grill started) and they have quickly expanded to locations all throughout Mexico. In fact if you have been to Cabo San Lucas or La Paz, you have likely tried their chicken.

Super Pollo in the US uses the same recipes and the same techniques to cook chicken which is why it taste so authentic and has so much great flavor.

It’s An Underrated Place – This restaurant appears to be underrated as well.  There was rarely a line and about half the time we had the place to ourselves. Perhaps it’s the location in Chula Vista which is a little far to go but Super Pollo is well worth the trip to try real authentic Pollo Asado.

The Menu is Just Like you Would See in Mexico


#4 Pollo Don Pepe’s Imperial Beach (Delicious Affordable Pollo Asado)


Don Pepe’s was a small place.  There wasn’t even a sign so it was hard to find but it was located right next to NorthGate Market in Imperial Beach.

Great Side and Great Value –  What struck me most was that the pollo asado was an incredible value, we had enough chicken and sides to feed a family and the cost was less than $10.  The macaroni/cole slaw salad that we tried was excellent and it was a perfect side for the Pollo Asado.

Mesquite Grilled – Their website indicates that the chicken is grilled over fire. They let me watch the chicken being cooked but I couldn’t tell if it was over coals or not.  But the taste was really great, really exceptional.

Toreados – We liked how Don Pepe’s served the Pollo Asado with Toreados which are Jalapeno peppers roasted until they are soft and the skin shrivels.  With Toreados you can take a bite of the pepper when you take a bite of chicken. It is great flavor and is the way many Mexican’s enjoy their pollo asado.


#5 Pollos Compadre – Oceanside and San Marcos  (North Counties Best Pollo Asado)


If you’re in North County there is one clear pick for best Pollo Asado and that is Pollo Compadre which has locations in Oceanside and San Marcos.  As soon as I got out of my car in the parking lot I could smell the BBQ chicken and boy did it smell pretty incredible.

Mesquite Grilled – If you like Mesquite Grilled Chicken and lots of flavor than you will love the way that they do their Chicken and Pollos Compadre.  You can really taste the authentic mesquite flavor in this chicken.  In terms of taste, I would rank them slightly lower than Don Pepe’s even though the style was the same.

Awesome Beans, Rice and Tortillas –  Hey half the meal is rice and beans, that has to account for something right?  Well at Pollo Asado they had some of the best beans and rice of all the Pollo Asado places that we tried.  The tortillas were thick and looked home-made style.  You can make some awesome Pollo Asado Burritos with your side dishes.

Toreados – Just like Don Pepe’s the guys at Pollos Compadre put Toreados and Grilled Onions on the top of the chicken. It adds a real nice kick and we loved it.

The mesquite grilled chicken with Toreados, Rice and Beans from Pollo Compadre.


#6 El Pollo Loco – Many Locations  (Consistently Great Pollo Asado)


I know.  I can’t believe it either.  El Pollo Loco actually has some pretty darn good Pollo Asado.  Their chicken has good flavor and is consistently tender and cooked correctly.  The only downside is that over the years they have changed their marinade to make it less intense.  El Pollo Loco in Mexico has a different level of taste and spice then what you have here.  It is similar to the chicken at Super Pollo.

Consistently Good – The chicken at Pollo Loco is consistently good and we never had chicken that was dried out.  The salsa bar and the sides are also very good although the Tortillas a bit thin (I must say).

On the downside El Pollo Loco is not very authentic.   But if your looking for some great chicken, El Pollo Loco is far better than Kentucky Fried Chicken or some of the other places.


#7 Pollos Maria Carlsbad (Great Atmosphere and Salsa Bar and San Diego’s Oldest Pollo Asado Restaurant)


Pollos Maria is one of the oldest Pollo Asado restaurants in San Diego and opened even before El Pollo Grill in 1985.  Marie Davis the owner was way ahead of her time when she figured that healthy and delicious Pollo Asado would become a big hit in San Diego.  And she was right.  This restaurant has that old school Mexican feel and is a real great homey atmosphere.  The Salsa Bar is top notch of any of the restaurants that we visited and had everything right there and it was fresh, fresh, fresh.

The salsa bar at Pollo Maria is as good as any you will find in San Diego.


Delicious Chicken – The Chicken at Pollos Maria is not as heavy on the marinade that you will find at other Pollo Asado locations.  Nevertheless the chicken tasted brilliant and was very simple just like you would want it.

Family Feel – Pollos Maria embodies what you would expect in a Pollo Asado restaurant  and that is a great place to take your family and share some great chicken and sides.  Pollo Asado is all about the family style of eating and the atmosphere at Pollos Maria makes you want to sit down and enjoy your food.

Pollos Maria is an excellent choice and is the closest location in San Diego from the beach. In fact, if you are in Carlsbad you are only blocks from the beach when you eat at Pollos Maria.

#8 Pollo Amigo Chula Vista (Best Little Hole in the Wall Pollo Asado)


This place is tiny.  But it has been here a long time. You have to be doing something right when you have been in the location for so many years and Pollo Amigo is one of San Diego’s oldest Pollo Asado joints.

It’s Authentic – The place serves some very authentic Mexican food and not only chicken.  The chicken we had was flame grilled and really nice.  They don’t serve flour tortillas which to be is always a sign of a more traditional Mexican restaurant.  I think flour tortillas are more of an American thing as I only get corn tortillas in Mexico.

Very Friendly – Pollo Amigo as the name suggest was a really friendly place and even the customers around me were friendly and engaging.

Pollo Amigo is a great choice for Pollo Asado if your down in South Chula Vista.

#9 Northgate Market – Many Locations (Super flavorful Pollo Asado)


Northgate Pollo Asado was very good.  I personally felt it ranked as one of the highest in San Diego but some of the others felt the chicken wasn’t as cooked as they would like.  Well that was my fault actually since I didn’t realize that Northgate broils their chicken to different levels of doneness. When you point to the chicken you want you can choose a very cooked chicken, or a very raw chicken.  I think I picked a raw chicken but to be honest it suited me fine and it was cooked and juicy, just not cooked enough for the others

Convenient –  With so many locations in San Diego, Northgate is the convenient choice.  You can literally head to the deli and pick up your chicken by the pound and choose from one of many salsas, beans and rice that they have there.  If you want your chicken more well done you can simply take it outside where they will BBQ it up a bit more for you.  There is a guy manning a BBQ out front of Northgate during normal business hours.

Great Tasting –  What I liked best about Northgate is the chicken really had the citrus marinated flavor and it tasted great.  Surprisingly very few of the Pollo Asado restaurants had that citrus marinated flavor that I love so much so Northgate Market deserves kudos for making a really great chicken.

Be sure to tell the counter person how well done you like your chicken at Northgate.


#10 International Market (Best Value Pollo Asado)


International Market has a small window on the side of the market where you can order some really great Pollo Asado.  The Pollo Asado is flame grilled and pretty tasty.

Best Value –  I am not sure if it was a mistake but I paid $10 for a full pollo asado, rice, beans, tortillas and a bunch of salsa.  Now that qualifies the Pollo Asado at International Market the best value that I came across hands down.

This wasn’t the absolute best Pollo Asado in San Diego but it was by the far the best value and the chicken was pretty awesome.  You could really feed a family here pretty cheaply.  There is no real indoor seating so this is pretty much a takeout place only and all the food looked great.


#11 – Ande Pollo National City on Highland  (Brand Spanking New)


We were literally licking our chicken choppers when we passed by this place by chance last week.  What is it?  Well its a place that is under construction called “Pollos Asados” and has the huge sign outside to prove it.

When we peeked inside it looks like they are doing everything right here to deliver a top notch experience.  They are putting the huge grills right out front so customers can watch the chicken broil and they have a very nice contemporary feel to the place.

We have not had a chance to check this place out yet but the reviews on Yelp look very promising.  BBQ chicken on mesquite coals!  Yes Please!  You have got to check this place out.  We sure will this next week.

The Pollo Asado Map of San Diego

Here is a simple little map that you can use. This map ranks my top 10 favorite Pollo Asado Joints in San Diego and shows the area of the county they are in.

Basically all of these places are awesome and if you love chicken, you should try Pollo Asado – It is a great option for healthy Mexican food in San Diego.


Did We Miss Anything?

Now we are not really professional food reviewers but we had a lot of fun touring San Diego eating chicken.  I hope we managed to find all the top spots but if we missed any, just let us know and we’ll send the squad out to try more pollo asado.  We look forward to it. Thanks for reading and happy eating everyone!

7 Reasons Why This Decade is the 1980’s of Photography

Posted on Jun 12, 2015 in Popular


Being a Kid in the 80’s I Realized I Was Coming of Age in Great Times

In 1982, I turned 16 years old and everything was new.  The world was changing even faster than I was. Music genres like punk, new wave, rockabilly, new romantic, heavy metal and others were exploding on the scene.  Fashion was stranger than ever before.  Technology was just emerging and Media was being presented in ways never before imagined.

The 1980’s were a revolution in music, technology, pop culture, fashion and media and not only that, but those individual revolutions were converging together to create one of the most collectively creative and innovative times in history.

I really believe if you were a teenager in the 80’s you were the lucky because you were living in a time when all the stuff kids love was changing for the better.

Now, Being into Photography I Realize that Once Again There is Something Special Happening Right Now

This decade is to photography, what the 80’s were to Fashion, Music and Culture.  And it’s exciting.


The 80’s were exciting times to grow up and they profoundly changed our world.  The digitization of music, the new media channels like MTV and the introduction of things like the Walkman and the PC changed what was important to us and how we looked a the world around us.   And all this created a buzz that people wanted to be a part of.  In the 80’s everyone was starting a band in their garage.  Everybody wanted to be a part of the great things that were happening.

The 2010’s are shaping to do the same thing for photography.   The same excitement, the same buzz, the same collective creativity that emerged in the 80’s is now emerging in photography this decade. People are picking up cameras. Everyone is a photographer. There are more people taking pictures and learning how to take better pictures by getting inspired by each . And The result of all of this, is that we’re seeing some of the most unique and creative photography that has ever been done.

Everybody’s seemingly a photographer these days.  And that’s not a bad thing.


I realize I might be biased having grown up in the 80’s to make this comparison, but I do think something special has happened in photography over the last 5-8 years that we may never experience again in our lives. I just appreciate it for what it is right now.

Anyway, here are 8 Reasons why I believe this decade is the 80’s of Photography.

#1 Because Mobile  (The WalkMan and The iPhone)

In 1980, people would line up to purchase a Sony Walkman from stores like GoodGuys, Circuit City or Crazy Eddie’s.  The Sony Walkman made music instantly available to people because they could carry it with them at all times by popping their favorite cassette in. The Sony Walkman fundamentally changed people’s listening habits and people always seemed to have their headsets in and listening to music (even when they were jogging in their dolphin shorts).  The walkman made music mobile.

The iPhone did much the same thing for photography. It made photography instantly and always available to people to take pictures on the go.  It  changed the way people viewed photography and got people thinking about it all the time just like the Walkman did in the 1980’s. The iPhone made photography mobile.

These two gadgets changed the way people think of Music and Photography.


#2 –  Because Disruption (Instagram is Doing for Photography What MTV Did for Music in the 80’s)

In 1981 MTV launched, and it changed everything about the way music was shared with the public.  The first video they played was The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star” which seemed to accurately predict what they would do to the industry.  MTV challenged the status quo and what the industry considered the way to market music. MTV changed the way people viewed music. Instead of just listening to music, now they could watch it.  MTV abstracted artist songs to give the listener another perspective or deeper understanding of what the song was about.  MTV helped launch the careers of stars like Madonna, Michael Jackson, U2 and Duran Duran.

Instagram’s launch provided the same type of groundbreaking changes for photography that MTV had in the 80’s. It was highly disruptive. Instagram challenged the status quo of photography by making artistic photography available to everyone with an iPhone.  Some say it debased photography but I believe it actually enhanced photography by making people interested in finding interesting pictures to take and finding inspiration in techniques by others. By providing filters, Instagram changed the way people viewed and participated in photography.  Instagram is doing for photography what MTV did in the 80’s for music.

MTV and Instagram Made Us Appreciate Music and Photography More


 #3-Because Extremism – HDR is Like That Bad Haircut You Thought Made you Look Cool

The 80’s was a decade of some pretty awesome and horrendous styles. Big Hair, Fannie Packs, LegWarmers, Shoulder Pads made us all look oh so cool. We can look back and laugh at our 80’s hair but at the time we knew we were bad ass.  The bigger the hair the better. I like to think that HDR is the photographic version of 80’s big hair.  You think it looks so cool at the time but then you sort of look back and cringe at some of the pictures you took.  We could not get enough big hair in the 80’s or enough HDR in the 2010’s.  I think this type of extremism is just a product of lots of people trying to push the medium to a new level.

Everyone wanted this hair, but only a few could achieve this excellence.


 Every photographer has a few ludicrous HDR shots in their portfolio that they thought looked so cool at the time. (like this horrible shot I took)


#4-Because of “That Look” – The Influence of Style and Image (AKA Style over Substance)

To be in a band in the 80’s you had to have the look.  If you had the look, your band was often considered better than it actually was.  It was a time when fashion and music blended together and it was hard to figure where one ended and the other ended.  Did the look make the band, or did the band make the look?   When I used to read wanted ad’s for bands it always had the requirement “must have the look” to even be considered.

In this decade, I see the same phenomenon with photography.  Often times that hipster look is associated with better photography.  If its got a heavy grain, or VSCO filter the photograph is more popular.  I see this not as a bad thing but as a reality that style and image are having a profound impact on photography in this highly creative time.

It’s hard to figure out where the line between photography ends and style and image begin these days.


#5 – Because of Vintage – Looking to the Past to Find Inspiration and Authenticity

The 80’s was the first decade that looked backwards in time for inspiration in design, music and fashion.  As the world got more complicated, they longed for something simpler from another era. There was a large vintage movement where styles from the 50’s and 60’s were adopted with a twist and presented as new.  I think kids at the time wanted to feel like they were part of something authentic and real.  Two examples of that are the Rockabilly and the Mod movements where people would actually adopt the style of those counter-culture groups and start bands.

In the 2010’s we see the same influence of vintage on photography.  As camera’s get more advanced and more digital, people long for the realness and simplicity of film.  Companies like VSCO emerged to emulate the old vintage look for photographers.  Camera companies like Fuji made cameras that looked old.   The inspiration for many photographers comes from looking back in time and adding a twist, just like we did the 80’s.

The Rockabilly and Mod Movements were examples of the Vintage Craze which started in the 80’s


#6  Because Globalization – Mr Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall

In 1987, President Reagan made this statement as a challenge to Gorbachev to extend freedom and open doors.  The 80’s were all about tearing down walls and increasing communication across barriers.   I can think of no better symbol of that than the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

Recently, I see websites like 500PX  and SmugMug bringing together photographers from all over the world to share amazing photography.  I am in awe of the talent and techniques used by photographers all over the world and I learn from them.  But more importantly, photography is showing me other cultures.  It teaches me about the beauty of the world and the distinct beauty of different cultures.  Photography this decade is tearing down the walls that divide us geographically.

Globalization Opens Doors and Minds.


 #7 Because Technology (The PC, The Video Game, IPhones and Apps all Changed Things)

IBM released its first popular personal computer in the 80’s.  Apple launched the Mac.  The Atari 2600 brought video games into peoples homes for the first time. The CD was introduced in 1981 and moved music from analog to digital for the first time.  Technology emerged in the 80’s and was brought to the average consumer where it was once only available to technology geeks or huge corporations.  Technology became accessible to everyone in the 80’s and it changed just about everything we did.

In this decade, the Iphone made photography available to everyone at all times and it gave everyone the ability to share their photos anytime.  Apps democratized software and gave everyone a chance to create tools that could be used by millions.  The opportunities created by Apps lead to wildly popular photography apps like Instagram, VSCO, and AfterLight which put powerful tools into the average consumers hands.  Technology has made photography and tools more accessible than ever before.

Technology Enables More Creativity to More People


Because Innovation and Creativity Breeds Innovation and Creativity

Why do times like right now happen?  I believe innovation and creativity spreads and creates a passion within other people to do the same.  As more people started bands and made great music in the 80’s, other people followed.  Great genres of music were created and scenes sprouted up in cities all over the world.

Today photography is experiencing that same innovation and creativity.  People are taking more pictures.  They’re studying other peoples pictures and learning from them.  Sure there are probably more bad pictures being taken today than at any time in history but there is also more good ones and maybe even more great ones because people are out their trying.

We’re living in some special times for photography.  That is for sure.

Fart Blanche- Five Steps to Gaining Unlimited Farting Freedom

Posted on Apr 16, 2014 in Funny, Popular

If you think “Fart Blanche” is out of your reach, think again.

Carte Blanche;  which literally translates to “blank check” in French has been used for years to convey one’s freedom to do whatever they want.  Carte Blanche is a sort of unconditional authority typically reserved for Kings or mega celebrities like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

Fart Blanche on the other hand refers to another blank check of sorts – the power to fart unconditionally and without penalty.   Unlike its sophisticated sister, Carte Blanche which is rarely granted, Fart Blanche is a power that can be enjoyed by just about everyone – even the common man.


Surprisingly Fart Blanche is rarely taken advantage of by most people. Unless your over the age of 80 or on a remote island you’ll probably rarely, if ever, feel that you have the power to fart at will without consequence or embarrassment.

If you feel that way, this guide is for you.  We here at the Fart Institute are going to empower you by teaching you several techniques that will provide you with flexible, dynamic and endless capability.  You will learn to leverage Fart Blanche with a seemingly endless array of techniques that have been passed down from clever fartsters to other clever fartsters through the years.

Step 1 – Learn Basic Masking Techniques , Otherwise Known as “The Great Fart Swindles”

The first group of techniques are the Masking Techniques.  Often called the Great Fart Swindle, masking techniques involve farting in coordination with others around you so that blame falls squarely on their shoulders.

By no means did I invent these techniques.  Many of you more clever types have probably stumbled across these and used this yourselves.    Masking techniques enable Fart Blanche through a variety of ways.

Swindle #1 The Pile On Method

A friend farts.  They say, “Sorry I farted” and being the opportunistic person you are, you release your fart silently to take advantage of the brief window of time in which they will be blamed.  Your friend is none the wiser but you essentially doubled down on his fart and he will get blamed for the both farts.  Surprisingly the double potency of the fart might surprise them but they will be clueless about it.

Swindle #2 – The Double Dog Method

Similar to “the pile on”, however you use your friends dog as the pawn in your Fart Blanche.  Dogs fart quite a bit (particularly larger dogs).  The Double Dog isn’t fail safe however since smart dog owners can tell the difference between their own dogs farts and even other dog farts.  Masking a human fart with a dog fart should only be used in emergency situations.

Swindle #3 – The Bad Baby Method

The Bad Baby technique has been used by parents for years and is quite common.  Since babies poop frequently, an opportunistic parent – typically the father – will fart and blame it on the baby.     Contrary to what many people think, Fart Blanche, with a baby is not cruel, in fact babies do not even realize they are being blamed for their parents farts.


Step 2 – Study, Learn and Practice “Mixologist Techniques” Used by Ancient Wise Men and Tom Fooleries

The greatest curators of Fart Blanche have used Mixologist techniques for years. Great Fart Mixologists are often so clever and so astute that people in close proximity to them might even exclaim “wow that smells great!” after they have farted.  How do they do it?  In theory, its quite simple.

The “Dinner is Served” 

You’re at dinner.  The waiter delivers your plate of spaghetti.  You look down, examine it and exclaim “ wow it smells great”.  But little do you know that someone at the table cleverly farted at the precise time that they spaghetti arrived at the table.  By essentially “mixing” their fart with the strong scent of your spaghetti they were leveraging their power of Fart Blanche.  They Farted. You were none the wiser, in fact you unknowingly might have even liked it.

The “Beef Jerky” 

Western Cowboys  in the 1800’s developed a technique so fool proof that it has survived even to this very day.  The technique requires the mixologist to always carry a packet of Beef Jerky with them.  When they fart, they immediately tear open a package of beef jerky and begin offering it people around them.   By offering the beef jerky (perhaps even wafting the package around) bystanders believe that what they are smelling is beef jerky thus providing a offender with an effective smoke screen.

 The “New York City”

New York City is essentially awash in Fart Blanche activity thanks to the proliferation of sewer man holes that scatter the city.  The drill is so commonplace that frankly no one cares and virtually everyone participates – particularly in the summer months.   It works like this.  You walk by a sewer.  You Fart.  People behind you think its the sewer.  It’s a New York Classic.

Keep a pack close by for those times when you’re in a crunch.


Step 3 –  Become Well Practiced in Recognizing “Fart Blanche” Opportunities

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that certain circumstances will provide automatic fart blanche.  These are not necessarily techniques as much as they are circumstances where you are free to fart without penalty.  You must train your mind to always be alert and to recognize these circumstances and then pounce on them like gas-filled hippo.

Let me give you some examples of common Fart Blanche opportunities;

A Hurricane

Wind Speeds in excess of 75 miles per hour are highly conducive to fart blanche.   Your fart will be a quarter of a mile away in the blink of an eye.

A Cyclone

A cyclone spins with such fury and speed that it will collect everything in its path and fling it sometimes miles away.  The bad news is that your house or car may blow away, but the good news is..so will your farts.

A Tornado

Perhaps you are seeing a trend here.  You’ve heard of storm watchers?  Soon, you will be looking for them too when you master these techniques.  Most natural disasters are not necessarily something anybody wants – anybody but you that is – Mr Fart Blanche Man.


Step 4 – Avoid Common Fart Blanche Pitfalls, Errors, Misconceptions and Mistakes

Face it, Fart Blanche is as much about knowing when to fart as it is knowing when to avoid farting.  Novices are prone to error when trying to achieve farting freedom and frankly that puts both themselves and those around them in potentially dangerous and uncomfortable situations.  Let me spell out some of the more common mistakes so you can avoid them.

Loud Noises Around You Do Not Give you Fart Blanche

We’ve all been there.  We’re in a loud room or at a party and think that because it’s so loud we can squeak one out and it won’t be noticed.  The fact is that this is simply not the case.  Finger pointing, blaming and outright hostility ensues as those around you attempt to cast blame on everyone for the fart.  You achieved nothing.  The party is ruined.

You Do Not Have Fart Blanche on an Airplane

I don’t know if it is the altitude or the misconception that airplane seat cushions have some sort of magical capability to turn farts into air freshening scent but everyone on a plane thinks that they have fart blanche.  Again, nothing could be further from the truth so avoid it.

Just because you are running on the  Treadmill does not grant you Fart Blanche 

People run. People Fart.  People Fart when they run. It happens.  I get it.  Just don’t think it gives you Fart Blanche, particularly in a crowded gym.

You have Fart Blanche at the Top of a RollerCoaster, but never the bottom

RollerCoasters are tricky.  It’s never a pure 100% Fart Blanche opportunity.  Yes you have it on the top and while you are diving down the tracks.  No, you do not have it when you are at the bottom and chugging up the tracks.  Remember – heat rises.

United Airlines had to run this educational program in airports last year, “You are free to move about the Cabin, Not Fart about the Cabin”


Step 5 – Learn a Few Basic Recovery Techniques to Avoid Detection and Getting Branded a careless “Fartster”.

This is a fact.  Once a fartster, always a fartster.  That is to say, once the cat is out of the bag and someone has determined you have farted, then you will always be blamed for every fart thereafter.  As such, avoiding detection whenever possible is highly advisable.  Here are some common and quite effective detection avoidance techniques.

The “Dirk and Dash” 

A friend of mine, Dirk Anderson,  popularized this technique years ago and it is a pretty incredible fart-recovery technique.   If you fart (either on purpose or in error) you will have a matter of seconds to act before detection.  Dirk’s method involved quickly blaming someone else for farting and then quickly leaving the room in utter disgust.  The Dirk and Dash simply involves blaming someone and then leaving them holding the bag.

The “Motor Boat” 

Eoin Blue (One of the Great Fart Swindlers of All Time), introduced an oft-used technique that has quite a bit of merit.  If you launch an audible fart, you merely put your lips together, blow and make a motor boat sound.  Most people will have trouble distinguishing the fart and the motor boat sound and will assume you were just motor boating around.  Ironically, they might even motor boat around with you for awhile.

The “Vinyl Chair” 

Vinyl chairs (and some leather and plastic chairs) have built in fart recovery systems which might come as a welcome relief.  If you fart, you merely shift in your chair.  When you shift the rubbing on vinyl sounds like a fart.  You fooled everyone.

The 100% Denial

When all else fails and you simply cannot create a distraction or avoid being blamed you’ll need to resort to denial phase.  Inevitably, everyone at some point in their life, will be blamed for a fart.  The difference between a careless fartster and a professional is in the ability to effectively and persistently deny the fart.  Here at the Fart Institute we have a little saying and that is, ” You need to really know the right time to admit guilt for farting.  And that time is never”.


What do you think?

What do you think?  Do you think you can achieve true Fart Blanche?  Do you have any methods of your own that we here at the Fart Institute should consider? We’d love to hear from you. Drop us an email.

5 Reasons Why You Should Give Tijuana Another Chance

Posted on Aug 31, 2013 in Popular


My first trip down to Tijuana Mexico was when I was 15.  I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near the God-forsaken place and was strictly forbidden to go.  After nearly getting arrested by 3 Mexican Federales for being in a bar underage I swore to them that I would never set foot in Mexico again if they let me go.  They let me go.  I returned to Mexico (often).

That was over 30 years ago that I made the first trip to Tijuana.  I have to tell you that as a kid living in San Diego during the 80’s getting nearly busted or insanely drunk in Mexico was a right off passage at the time.  TJ was a different world back then.  It was relatively safe.  It was incredibly fun and it was a great escape to just get a taste of some real Mexican culture, food and beer.

The Bad Years

Prior to 9/11/2001, Tijuana was the most visited foreign city in the world.  It was easy to get to from San Diego.  It was cheap. And you could just walk back and forth across the border with little scrutiny.  It was so popular that 40,000,000 tourist made the trek every year.  Disneyland by comparison only brought in 14 million.  The place was booming.

After 2001, the border tightened up to prevent terrorism and that was TJ’s first blow.  The second and more deadly blow came in 2007 when Mexican Cartel drug violence hit the city hard.  Murders in TJ climbed to close to 1,000.  By comparison cities like Chicago have about 600.  The drug violence started to scare tourist off.

Iconic places like Ave Revolucion which were crawling with tourist began to empty out and things got real bad.  It got so bad that many of the bars, restaurants and nightclubs began to shutter their doors.  The tourist were not coming anymore.  The place was becoming a ghost town.

Why I think TJ deserves another chance.

There is one thing that drives hard core taco fans back to TJ every so often – The TJ Street Taco.  The obsession and craving for these delicious little tacos is so compelling that San Diegan’s will ignore any danger and head down. Thats precisely what we did yesterday and I was really surprised at what I found.  Things certainly have changed since the 80’s in Mexico. Some for the better and some for the worse but I think it gets a bad rap.

Here are 5 Reasons that I think we San Diegan’s and all tourist for that matter should give TJ another chance.

1) The Food is Outstanding

As I said there are certain food that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.  TJ has some of my favorite restaurants that blow away anything you can find in San Diego.  Carnitas Uruapan, El Rodeo, Taco’s El Paisano and pretty much any street taco vendor you can find are going to give you a meal you won’t forget.  We gorged ourselves (3 people and the Taxi Cab driver) on all the tacos and drinks we could manage for less than $20.  That was amazing.

I love the street Taco experience in TJ. Look at this guy carve up Adobada for Tacos.


The Taco man waits for your order.  When you say go.  It’s pretty much on your plate within a minute.


Everything is fresh and your Taco’s are made to order.


The meat is cooked directly over hot coals.  The flavor that it gives the meat is out of this world.


2) You can ride a Zonky before they become extinct

The Zonky is in danger of becoming extinct.  Zonky’s are basically Donkey’s painted with stripes.  Why they paint Donkeys with stripes goes way back to the days of early black and white photography.  When tourist would head to Mexico around the turn of the century and take pictures on the Donkey’s they would complain that you could not see the donkey.  So some genius got the clever idea to paint the donkeys with stripes so that they would show up.  That is classic Mexican ingenuity at work and a great story of Tijuana.

Olden Day tourist hated when the donkey’s didn’t appear in their photos.


Reason #2 to go back to TJ is to get a picture on a Zonkey before it passes you by forever.  Things are changing in TJ rapidly and the loss of tourism and changes in culture have resulted in the disappearing Zonkey Vendor.  There used to be 25 vendors, now there are only 3.  My friend Vanessa sent me an article that is a very interesting read about the effort to save the TJ Zonkey – Save the Zonkey

Tu loved her picture on the Zonkey


Reason 3 – Great Street Photography Opportunity

The street photography opportunities are insane in TJ.    I didn’t see many photographers down there while we were cruising through and people generally seemed very accepting of the camera.  I found that TJ makes a great backdrop and place to practice your street photography without upsetting to many of the locals.  On the contrary, I found people to be very friendly and engaging when I was there.

Some colorful and engaging street scenes in TJ








Oh yeah so I guess there are still the occasional street fights (but this was on the American side of the border actually)


Reason 4 – The Art Scene is Up and Coming

The Art scene in TJ is booming.  In fact, Ave Revolucion is remaking itself as the art district of TJ and they are doing a pretty good job from what I can tell.  We saw some fantastic murals up and down the street.  In fact the art scene is so explosive in TJ that San Diego’s Museum of Modern Art arranges field trips for people to take to the city to see what is happening there.  If you’re not going to TJ for the food, you can check out some fantastic art.



#5 – It’s a lot friendlier and less violent than you think

People were a lot friendlier and more open in TJ than I ever remember.  I remember going to TJ and Taxi drivers ripping you off, bars ripping you off, Waiters ripping you off.  Pretty much everyone was out to get your money and there were so many tourist that they generally didn’t care if you were pissed off.

Tijuana is completely different.  Our taxi driver charged us LESS than I thought he should and he was extremely patient.  The Taco Stands were all smiles and were happy to see us.  The Street Vendors were engaging, friendly and said things like “Welcome to Tijuana” and “We’re neighbors” when we told them we were from San Diego.

Drug Violence is way down in TJ the last two years and the murder rate has dropped tremendously.  The Mexican Government has a new strategy for dealing with the drug cartels and for the moment it appears to be working to drop the violence.  TJ is still TJ but it’s not as bad as people are making it out to be.

A San Diego Tradition

As a local San Diegan, I think TJ is a huge part of the culture and heritage of the city.  I think if you’re new to San Diego, visiting or just haven’t been in awhile that you should keep that tradition alive and visit the city.  A lot has changed in TJ, its worth another chance.

10 Interesting Photos to Show How Life is Different in Vietnam

Posted on Aug 4, 2013 in Popular

Life in Vietnam is much different than our own.  Let me show you in 10 different photos how it is.

1) Most people own their own businesses. Everyone is an entrepreneur. 

They don’t work for companies.  They work for themselves. Have you ever noticed that when Vietnamese come to the US that they open their own business rather than working for another company? Thats the culture. This fellow is in both his house and his place of business.  You can take naps when things are slow.  And they often are.

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2) The homeless and poor all have a job.  

There is no such thing as begging in Vietnam.  Well there is but it is not nearly as prevalent there as it is here in the US.  The government supplies Lottery Tickets to poor people so that they can sell them on the streets.  These are lottery ticket ladies.  They are sometimes smiling, and sometimes not.

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3) They are healthy, live longer and rarely obese.

It is no secret how healthy Vietnamese food is.  It is very low in calories. Their fruits and vegetables are all organic.  And despite the fact that they almost always seem to be eating they are all thin.  In the US we eat much less often but our food is of poor quality compared to what you will find in Vietnam.  This man munches on a Banh Mi which is a Vietnamese French Baguette sandwich.  Much of the Vietnamese food is influenced by French cooking.

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4) They are happier because they have less.

We think that the more you have the happier you are.  That is not true.  The Vietnamese have less than us but our happier and more joyful than us.  Their lives are fuller because they spend time with each other rather than things.  This lady was happy because I took her picture.  She didn’t even ask to see it.  She was just happy because I saw something in her important enough to take her picture. It made her feel good.

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5) They rarely drive cars.

There are cars in Vietnam but very few.  They drive bikes and scooters everywhere.  Most of the world is like this.  This man drives his bike to the market in the morning.  There are very very few gyms in Vietnam.  Why do they need a stationary bike when they can use a real one?

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6) They let their kids live the way we used to let our kids live here.

Remember walking to school?  Remember playing football in the middle of the street?  Remember when kids could roam freely without their parents dreading that something terrible was going to happen?  That is still the way that they are in Vietnam.  Their kids are free to be kids.  This little girl is having a little seat in the middle of the road.  No worries though.  It is a country road and the scooters and bikes move slowly.  They will move around her and not harm her.

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7)  There is no road rage

The roads in Vietnam are more crowded than our own.  There are very few rules on the road; very few stop signs, traffic lights and lanes in the roads are more guides than the law. Despite the seemingly mass chaos I never witnessed a single instance of road rage.  That is because people cooperate.  They don’t feel angered when someone cuts in front of them because it never happens.  In the US we are angered constantly by someone not following the rules.  In Vietnam they are free from those mental blocks.   These fellows are taking their big ice block right down the middle of the road and people are working with them to help them rather than getting upset.


8) The Kids Don’t Have Toys.

When you go into a Vietnamese home one thing is noticeably absent.  You don’t see kids toys.  Here in the US, kids have tons of toys that can often fill up an entire room.  There are a few toy stores in Vietnam but nothing close to the Toys are US warehouses that we have.  In Vietnam kids spend most of their time playing with each other rather than with their toys.  This little boy wanted a toy so he made one.  He carries a machine gun fashioned from 3 sticks of bamboo.  He was firing on men in the river when I first spotted him.

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9) Life centers around the water.

The water is very important in Vietnam.  Not only does it provide them with their primary source of protein – fish and other sea life but it is one of their primary methods of personal and commercial transportation.  Boats are wooden here.  They use old motors that are remarkably efficient in the shallow rivers.

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10) They don’t throw things away.  They fix things.

In the US we love new shiny things.  We look forward to throwing away something and getting a newer better version of it.  If our smart phone is more than 6 months old we feel terrible about it.  In Vietnam things are rarely thrown away.  Vietnamese have developed certain Macgyver like expertise in fixing just about everything.  There is something about Vietnamese ingenuity that has helped them survive.  I am always amazed by the creative ways that the Vietnamese can fix things.

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The Improbable Journey of Frankie and James

Posted on Jul 19, 2013 in Popular


The deed recorded in 1913 and photographed by one T Fader, The San Diego Deputy Recorder at the time, spelled out all of the rules for Lot 94 of what was known as the Point Loma Villas at the time.  For a paltry sum of $10, Amelia Bridges had just purchased title to what must have been the most sought after location in San Diego.

The Ball Bearing Changes the World

The Lot located on the top of Point Loma with sweeping panoramic views of what must have been a much emptier San Diego was the ideal place for Amelia Timkin Bridges grand plans.  Amelia was the daughter of Henry Timkins who had left her lots and lots of money – certainly much more than the $10 that she had just spent on Lot 94.

Henry Timkins was an inventor that had good timing.  He invented the “Tapered Roller Bearing” in 1898 right at the time when it was needed for the production of cars, trucks and tractors.  By 1923, 90% of the country’s production came from Timkin.   His bearings were used in everything (trains, conveyors, elevators and aircraft engines).

Henry Timkin was a rich man indeed and he had a mustache that any hipster Brooklyn artisan pickle maker would be proud of.



The Document that Frankie and James Blatantly ignored.

Amelia Bridges sat reviewing the deed before signing it to make sure everything was in order.  There were the usual restrictions; no more than 5 personal residences could be built on the property, no stores or factories could be built on the land, no house less than $10,000 could be built on the land, no intoxicating liquors should be sold on the property and of course no Turkeys, Ducks or Geese could be farmed on the land.

Then there were the restrictions that unfortunately were a big part of San Diego History at the time and not well publicized or known even today.  In the deed, Amelia must have glanced at item #6 and not have even given it a second thought even though today it would be unthinkable.  “6. That said property shall never be sold to any but members of the Caucasion Race“.  huh?  Double Take. Really?

2422 Alcott Court

If you can’t read that very clearly, here it is in Black and White


Now the Amelia Bridges of today would probably never have signed a deed with this type of restriction, in fact she went on to become one of San Diego’s greatest philanthropist donating much of her wealth to create the buildings and museums that you might visit in Balboa Park.

Rich White Pure European People and San Diego’s Dirty Secret

I always wondered why I never see any For Sale signs on houses in La Jolla.   In fact the only way to find an open house in La Jolla on a Sunday is to look for balloons in front of the house.  That is the tip that you can go inside and take a look.  Well, the fact is that La Jolla, just like Point Loma used to be a place where only rich white people wanted other rich white people to live.

Going back to the early 1900’s, La Jolla had such a deep anti-semitic feeling that a “La Jolla Covenant” was created.  This gentlemen’s agreement restricted Jewish people from buying homes, creating businesses and joining country clubs.  The Real Estate Associations were the worst and they forbid putting up of For Sale signs since they didn’t want Jewish people to know which houses were for sale.  When properties were sold they often contained standard language that the property could only be sold to people of “pure European Ancestry”.

For a town that has lead the battle to let Seals feel welcome on their beaches, La Jolla certainly didn’t always make everyone feel welcome. To this day, La Jolla does not allow For Sale signs claiming that it is an “eyesore” and hurts the neighborhood.   I live in La Jolla and my neighbor Mitt Romney seems to know a thing or two about signs that are an eye-sore in La Jolla.  After all his campaign had them plastered all over the neighborhood while he was running for President.

A few of the million eyesore Elect Romney signs that littered La Jolla last year.


The Improbable Probability Realized.

In February 2013, 100 years after Amelia Bridges reviewed and signed that deed for $10 a small article was published with the title, “Point Loma’s Historic Building X hits the Market”.  Between the time that Amelia had signed the paperwork and 100 years later that parcel of land became one of the more historic places in San Diego.

She built a mansion on the property for $130,000.  Rife (a famous inventor) lived there and went on to create astounding microscopes used in Science.  The building was taken over by the US Military during the war and used as a Submarine Command Post.

This and countless other historic things happened from that home, in fact, many other famous San Diego buildings in Balboa Park were conceived and paid for people living in that home.


Well Michael and Bridget ended up getting that historic home several months later and in doing so blatantly ignored the rules set forth by the Union Title Trust Company which forbid any non-caucasion from buying the home.   When Michael discovered the original deed and its language it was actually quite laughable in its absurdity but also made them think just how poorly non-whites were treated in San Diego just a short time ago.

It’s ironic that there were restrictions on selling the land to say hispanics which today makeup almost 35% of the entire population of San Diego, not to mention Pacific Islander and other races that makeup a large portion of the community.   How times have changed.

Into the Mansion

It was just a year ago that Michael and Bridget adopted Frankie and James. Oliver now has two brothers and life is looking up for them in their new estate.  It’s fun to look at the boys in the posh setting and soak in the beautiful irony of what it is.

The elegant music room as it was.  High Falutant Hoity Toity’s would drink their Champagne discussing “Tennis”


Today, Frankie and James explore cupcakes in the same room.


Fancy Billard Tables undoubtedly were used to spread mountains of cash out before each bill was carefully ironed by an army of servants.


Today, Frankie and James pose for Fancy pictures in the same rooms.


Large rooms with fancy furnishings and over abundance of rocking chairs.  Everyone had to have a rocking chair.


Frankie doesn’t need a rocking chair.  This chair will do just fine.


Just the beginnings of that improbable journey

Historic Building X in San Diego really is a crown jewel of the city.  The history, charm and beauty of the place has to be seen to be believed.  The Bridges were generous and incredible philanthropist to the city.  The home that the built still contains all the love and generosity that they put into it.

As for Frankie and James, I am sure that this is only the beginning of their improbable journey.  Where it leads, time will tell.