Racing to sleep

Do you ever feel like you’re racing against the clock to get to bed?

Those are my usual Monday nights. After I get back from chorus rehearsal at about 10 to 10:30 pm, I get home, have dinner of some sort, while simultaneously checking my email. Sometimes I chat with people online, sometimes I chat with friends on the phone. And while I am doing that I am preparing my wardrobe, my lunch, and my gym bag for the next day. Usually I want to get all of this done so I can be in bed by 12 pm at the latest so that I can wake up at 7am to drive to the gym in the morning.

Does this happen every time? No, sometimes I just am too tired to even bother eating anything. Other times I don’t wake up in the morning.

I just thought that it was incredibly funny that all through my youth I would try to stay up as late as possible, and now I just can’t wait to get into my bed to sleep the night away. When did life become so busy that I can’t sit down, relax, have a cup of hot chocolate, and write a blog post before I go to bed?

Well to that I say, not tonight. (As I sit here, writing, contemplating and sipping on a cup of hot chocolate).

What makes me smile?

Lots of things make me smile, and I like lists, so here goes (in no particular order):
1. Kids laughing
2. Mangoes
3. Food that smells remarkably good
4. Cuddling
4. A clever, well-written passage in a really good book
5. Technology and gadgets
7. The combination of warm brownie and cold ice cream
8. Soft unexpected touches
9. Feeling warm sand on my feet
10. The smell of the salty ocean breeze

A Life of Service

Ever since my car accident in 2002, my life’s goal has been pretty clear: to serve and better the lives of children and youth.

This has been kind of hard to explain to other people when they ask me, “Why? Why don’t you just work in the private sector now, make lots of money, and then donate that money to some charity?”

How can you explain your passion? If I were as passionate about singing opera or coding software programs, would I need to explain myself over and over again for those?

I just read an article in Time magazine that helps to explain my drive to serve children and youth, and my hopeful vision to be able to do this on a wider scale in the near future.

Here’s an excerpt and link to the article:

As the Constitutional Convention of 1787 came to a close, after three and a half months of deliberation, a lady asked Dr. Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” replied the Doctor, “if you can keep it.”

A republic, if you can keep it. The founders were not at all optimistic about the future of the Republic. There had been only a handful of other republics in all of human history, and most were small and far away. The founders’ pessimism, though, came not from history but from their knowledge of human nature. A republic, to survive, needed not only the consent of the governed but also their active participation. It was not a machine that would go of itself; free societies do not stay free without the involvement of their citizens.

Today the two central acts of democratic citizenship are voting and paying taxes. That’s basically it. The last time we demanded anything else from people was when the draft ended in 1973. And yes, there are libertarians who believe that government asks too much of us — and that the principal right in a democracy is the right to be left alone — but most everyone else bemoans the fact that only about half of us vote and don’t do much more than send in our returns on April 15. The truth is, even the archetype of the model citizen is mostly a myth. Except for times of war and the colonial days, we haven’t been all that energetic about keeping the Republic.

When Americans look around right now, they see a public-school system with 38% of fourth graders unable to read at a basic level; they see the cost of health insurance escalating as 47 million people go uninsured; they see a government that responded ineptly to a hurricane in New Orleans; and they see a war whose ends they do not completely value or understand.

But there is something else we are seeing in the land. Polls show that while confidence in our democracy and our government is near an all-time low, volunteerism and civic participation since the ’70s are near all-time highs. Political scientists are perplexed about this. If confidence is so low, why would people bother volunteering? The explanation is pretty simple. People, especially young people, think the government and the public sphere are broken, but they feel they can personally make a difference through community service. After 9/11, Americans were hungry to be asked to do something, to make some kind of sacrifice, and what they mostly remember is being asked to go shopping. The reason private volunteerism is so high is precisely that confidence in our public institutions is so low. People see volunteering not as a form of public service but as an antidote for it.

That is not a recipe for keeping a republic.

Read more here.

Saturn is moving into Virgo

Apparently Saturn is moving into Virgo for the next couple of years. According to Alex, my resident astrologer/spiritual advisor, this means that people in general will be more nitpicky about things in their lives.

The following quotes were taken from

Saturn is the planet of concentrated effort—no short cuts—and he will now be spending time in the practical earth sign of Virgo. Virgo excels at performing tasks until these become acquired skills and loves hard work. Virgo is also analytical, discerning and excels at organization, taking care of details and looking after others. Virgo is the sign we associate with service, the harvest and interestingly Vedic astrologers call Saturn the servant.

This is my sign and what Saturn moving into Virgo means for me:

Capricorn Dec. 21-Jan. 19Your ruling planet known for its ability to structure, assign responsibility and doing things properly is moving into discerning, analytical and organized Virgo for the next couple of years beginning in September. The area for you is foreign travel, learning and distant places as well as in-laws, publishing and legal matters. This could see you moving to a distance, signing up for classes and naturally acquiring a new relative or few. What is it you desire in your life that would allow you to broaden your horizons. This is a wonderful time to choose changes with discernment of course.

It seems like some changes are in store for the next couple of years…

Hiking Black Diamond Mines

San Francisco Summers are so deceivingly cold, so for June’s family day, we decided to head OUT of the city, and into the warm East Bay.

I found what sounded like an interesting hike over at the Black Diamond Mines National Reserve, so Bola, Bern and I, after a quick trip to my neighborhood Trader Joe’s, drove about an hour east (and 20 degrees warmer).. but I’ll let the pics speak for themselves.

Bola, Bern and Rey hiking at lack Diamond Mines Part 1
To our left is a little field with a bunch of snake holes… Kinda creepy.

Bola, Bern and Rey hiking at lack Diamond Mines Part 2

Bola, Bern and Rey hiking at lack Diamond Mines Part 3

Bern and Bola hiking at Black Diamond Mines

Bola and Rey hiking at Black Diamond Mines

a Rock Formation

Bola and Bern on the hike down

My printed out guide on said that the trail was a 3.5 mile loop, but it must have been a 5 or 6 mile hike because it took us almost 4 hours! The weather was gorgeous and I was so glad to get out of the cold city for a day.

Busy next few weeks

I am going to be having a crazy next few weeks with all sorts of traveling. Wish me luck as I try not to go insane while living out of a suitcase.

April 6-8 – Las Vegas for family Easter weekend
April 9-13 – San Diego for BUILD college tour
April 27-29 – Washington DC for College Summit core staff retreat
April 30 – Concert at Davies Symphony Hall
May 1-4 – Boston for Merrill Lynch’s Growing Up CEO (I’m chaperoning for 4 BUILD students)
May 12 – BUILD’s 8th Annual Business Plan Competition

God Daughter Bea and the de Leon Family

I spent the weekend with my Tita Badette and her family. They just arrived from the Philippines on Saturday and I picked them up from the airport. I had not seen them in a little over 2 years. Here are some quality pics from the weekend, and you can see more at my flickr page.

I want to take her home!
Bea is my god daughter, and she has grown so big since last I saw her!

Bea at the Beach
Bea at the beach

The De Leon Family
The De Leon Family at the Golden Gate

Fun on the bridge

King and Bea at the Golden Gate Bridge
Bea and I posing