Saturday, August 27, 2011

BZTAT Art at BlogPaws 2011

Check out this amazing artwork from BZTAT displayed at this years BlogPaws 2011 conference in Tyson's Corner, VA...

More info on BZTAT...

Artist Vicki Boatright, known as “BZTAT” (pronounced bee-zee-tat), is an accomplished artist with several public art projects to her credit. An avid pet lover and business partner to her cat Brewskie Butt, she is well known to the blogging community.
Vicki specializes in whimsical drawings, paintings and prints of cats, dogs and other companion animals. She creates colorful customized pet portraits, which are unique in their original contemporary style.

Also read more about Okey's Promise...a public art project designed to create awareness about the connections between animal maltreatment, child abuse and domestic violence. Statistics back up my own anecdotal experience as a therapist for trauma survivors. There is a strong link. When animals are in danger, chances are, children are too.

The purpose of Okey’s Promise, named for a small rescued cat, is to create artworks that will be prominently viewed in the community to generate interest and awareness. They will be positive in nature. The purpose is to remind us of the riches we have in helping those who are most vulnerable in society.

You can even get her to create a custom portrait of your pet - how cool!

Pop art portraits are artistic interpretations of your pet that are painted in a colorful and highly customized pop art style. These paintings reflect the unique characteristics of your pet in a semi-abstract pop art style that remains true to the character of the animal in a unique way that only BZTAT can achieve! These paintings take man hours to complete due to BZTAT’s technique of layering various colors to develop her unique style. For a less customized and more economical portrait, see the Contemporary Folk Art portraits.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone...typos are part of my charm!

BlogPaws 2011 Update

Quick update from BlogPaws 2011...hurricane Irene is on the way to the DC area...conference is almost wrapped up...having a great time!

Preston from Preston Speaks chilling:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Washington DC Bound...

So I fly to Washington DC in about 6 hours...I must get some sleep. I waited until the very last minute to pack...I had to take the boys to overnight doggy camp. I don't like them to see me pack, Eli gets especially nervous. Aubry is still such an opportunistic pup who loves change, he gets excited when the wind blows. I miss my boys already, but I know they'll have fun at Cagefree K9 Camp with all the other dogs.

Eli told me (telepathically of course) that he would be a good big bro and keep Aubry out of trouble...

Aubry told me, "ahggghh googlyyygaaa bahbahbhaa" and half kissed and bit my face. Typical. His way of saying 'safe travels, pal'...

I'm looking forward to my trip, even though it's work and not a vacation. I haven't been to DC since 5th grade (safety patrol trip). Will I remember anything? Will I see the Obamas? Will I see a bill become a law?

Who knows...I plan to take lots of pictures (you guys know how I enjoy my historical travel posts).

Ok...must sleep...see you on the other side....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone...typos are part of my charm!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chung King Road...Gremlins Anyone?

I took a little detour from the "main" drag of Chinatown to check out Chung King is what I learned...

Chung King Road is a pedestrian street in the northeast corner of Chinatown, Los Angeles. This street is a part of "New Chinatown," built in the 1930s and 1940s, and is the location of Chinese specialty shops and art importers. In the late 1990s many of the storefronts were sitting unused, and several of them were converted into art galleries. As part of an overall gentrification of the area, Chung King Road is now one of the centers of art and nightlife in Downtown Los Angeles.

Apprently, during the day, the little alley of Chung King Road, Los Angeles — only some 40 feet wide — is bare and quiet.

The occasional lone straggler might make his way through the alley, a shortcut to get to Chinatown’s main attractions. But on art opening nights, which occur on Saturdays every few weeks, throngs of LA art enthusiasts come to check out the latest in a new wave of galleries settling into Chung King Road’s less-than-shiny streetscape.

I agree with what I read...It’s a strange and somewhat romantic scene, with the alley’s lanterns and worn-out gallery facades, as if pulled from some derelict 1950s movie set.

I totally think Gizmo was bought in one of these shops too...just sayin...

Yet, it’s a scene that has become a new center for art in Los Angeles. Some describe it as a displaced Westside arts district — hip, edgy and young. And while the art is breaking boundaries, the galleries are still paying tribute to the culture of Chinatown; many have kept the original storefront names. Check out some of the galleries anchoring the growing art scene in Chinatown.

The best part may just be Foo Chow, the restaurant not only known for great food, but also where scenes from the movie Rush Hour were shot...

Do you have any interesting film locations in your town?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chinatown History and a War Veteran

As I played tourist in Chinatown...I was happy to see an "Open" sign at the Chinese Historical Society of Southern is what I learned and who I met...

Since the 1850s, Chinese Americans have contributed to the historical growth and development of Southern California's life and culture.

The Chinese Historical Society of Southern
California (CHSSC) was organized November 1, 1975 and incorporated in the State of California in 1976 (they year I happened to be born - go Dragons!)

The Chinese Historical Society of Southern California was established to discover and recognize Chinese pioneers and their history. They strive to increase awareness of Chinese American heritage through public programs, education and research...good stuff!

They offer a variety of educational and fun activities through monthly program meetings, which are free and open to all. They work with colleges, universities, other historical societies and local community groups.

The support of individuals and businesses through tax-deductible donations, memberships and volunteering is crucial to our plans to develop a Chinese Cultural Heritage Center.

Ben Fong was born in Sacramento in 1921 and moved with his family to the East Adams District a decade later. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Ben decided to join the United States Marine Corps but was refused due to the color of the skin. Ben was later drafted in the Army and stubborn and persistent as he was, became a Military Intelligence expert. For Fong, as well as for many other Chinese Americans, the war was indispensable in solidifying the inclusion of Chinese into the larger American narrative.

Now retired, Ben Fong has moved back to Chinatown after getting tired of driving back and forth from the San Gabriel Valley to visit the newly opened Chinatown Public Library, which hosts one of the largest collections of books in Chinese in the country.

Among the many interesting things I learned, Ben shared this timeline with me, letting me know Chinese came over on Spanish ships back when LA was just discovered...

Spanish explorers under Gaspar de Portola enter the area that is now Los Angeles on their way northward.

El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles is founded by Felipe Neve.

The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill starts the California gold rush. This brings many people from all over the world including Chinese.

On September 9, California gains statehood. The first U.S. Census taken after California's admission into the union shows 2 Chinese house servants listed as residents of Los Angeles: Ah Fou and Ah Luce.

California Supreme Court includes Chinese among racial classes prohibited from testifying against whites.

Arrival of first Chinese woman to the United States. Chinese fishermen become established off Catalina Island.

Is there a Chinatown where you live?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Allergic Journey...

Ohhhhhhh allergies, why do you taunt me so? I have battled the sneezing and wheezing of allergies since I was a teen. Its a family thang...mostly on my mom's side. Its all good, I don't blame anyone...accept maybe God, yes God gave me allergies! Why me? How could this happen to me (please sense sarcasm)...

Alas...I'm allergic to many common things, such as dust, pollen and pet dander. Cats have always been the worst for me...I just couldn't live with a cat, no matter how cool they may be :(

Allergy testing showed me that dust and dust mites were highest on the list for me - this is comforting since DUST IS EVERYWHERE and Id have to live like Howard Hughes (later years) to really be free of dust.

Have you ever seen dist mites? Probably not since they are basically microscopic, but here...take a look...these are everywhere, I about barfed when I saw them on a huge poster in the doctors office...little soldiers of hell...

I managed for years taking OTS Allergy medicine like Claritin D when I had an attack.

I decided to get allergy shots when early this year, I experienced some shortness of breath and more wheezing. Tests concluded I had allergy induced asthma. Bummer. Since January I have been on a steady dose of Zyrtec and Singulair, which has helped greatly.

I only take a decongestant when I have an attack (which still happens more often than Id like). I clean my apartment ALL THE TIME it seems. I do have two dogs (one of which may or may not sleep in the bed with me, shhh, don't tell my allergy doc).

I took the doctors advice and decided to get allergy shots. What the heck are allergy shots and I really have to get them once a week for a year? Wow, that's a commitment. Well, when your allergic to pet dander and love dogs as much as I do, once a week isn't that bad (plus I'm lucky enough to be able to work from home one day a week so I can swing over and get my shot).

Really the biggest downside has been lack of parking near the doctor's office at Cedars. Parking is a HUGE hassle///but alas, my dogs are worth it...

Here is the skinny on allergy shots from our friends at WebMD...

Allergy shots, also called "immunotherapy," are given to increase your tolerance to the substances (allergens) that provoke allergy symptoms. They usually are recommended for people who suffer from severe allergies or for those who have allergy symptoms more than 3 months each year. They do not cure allergies, but reduce your sensitivity to certain substances.

How Often Are Allergy Shots Given?

Allergy shots are given regularly (in the upper arm), with gradually increasing doses. When starting immunotherapy, you will need to go to your healthcare provider once or twice a week for several months. The dose is increased each time until the maintenance dose is reached. If the shots are effective, you will go to your healthcare provider every 2 to 4 weeks for 2 to 5 more years. You may become less sensitive to allergens during this time, and your allergy symptoms will become milder and may even go away completely.

How Should I Prepare for Allergy Shots?

For two hours before and after your appointment, do not exercise or engage in vigorous activity. Exercise may stimulate increased blood flow to the tissues and promote faster release of antigens into the bloodstream.

Tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking. Some medications, such as beta blockers, can interfere with the treatment and/or increase the risk of side effects. You may have to stop allergy shots if you are taking these medications.

Talk to your doctor about the safety of continuing the allergy shots if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

What Should I Expect After Allergy Shots?

Usually, you will be monitored for about 30 minutes after receiving an allergy shot to make sure that you don't develop side effects such as itchy eyes, shortness of breath, runny nose, or tight throat. If you develop these symptoms after you leave the doctor's office, take an antihistamine and go back to your doctor's office or go to the nearest emergency room.

Redness, swelling, or irritation within one inch of the site of the injection is normal. These symptoms should go away within 4 to 8 hours after receiving the shot.

Are Allergy Shots Effective for All Allergies?

The effectiveness of immunotherapy varies depending on the severity of a person's allergies and the number of substances to which the person is allergic. In general, however, immunotherapy is effective for allergies to stinging insects, a variety of pollens and dust mites, as well as for allergic asthma. It is also effective for molds and pet dander. Immunotherapy is not proven to be effective for hives or food allergies.

So, have allergy shots cured me? No. Do I have less allergy attacks? Not sure, its hard to keep track. I have had a week or two with no attack, and that's a good thing! I plan to stay the course...I'll report back...

Do you have any experience with allergies? Have you tried shots? Tell us your story...

If I were...a Vegetable?

Time for a fun writing exercise...take 5 minutes and write "If I were a vegetable, I would be a...."

No editing...write what comes to your mind....most important, have fun...GO!

Here is mine:

If I were a vegetable I would be a squash, a yellow squash because that is what I thought of just now. I like yellow, its a good color.

Squash is good raw, with dipping sauce. Its ok steamed too, with pepper.

What would my squash name be? Squashy is juts too obvious? Or is it? Let us see...

"Hello, is Squashy home?"..."Can Squashy come to the movies?"...."Meet our new head of accounts, Squashy...he's very creative!"...."Oh Squashy, you broke my heart you dumb son-of-a-bitch!!"..."You had enough yet Squashy? You gonna give up yet you ol rubber neck fool!"

Oh Squashy, you just take on the flavors of those around you, you got no real flavor of your own, your a mimic veg! Death to Squashy! Long live Zucci!! Zucchini -- Zucci?? Really? Oh give it're banned from the vegetable patch

The Introvert’s Guide To Having an Awesome Time at BlogPaws | Pawcurious Vet Blog: With Pet Blogger and Veterinarian Dr. V | eat. play. love.

Great post from Pawcurious...Im going to this conference, even though its technically for "work"...these things still apply...and I will have my "Flat Eli" with me as my conversation starter!

The Introvert’s Guide To Having an Awesome Time at BlogPaws | Pawcurious Vet Blog: With Pet Blogger and Veterinarian Dr. V | eat. play. love.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fortune Telling...Chinatown Style

What can I say...I'm intrigued by fortune telling, psychics, tarot cards...yes, mostly for entertainment, as I'm a natural skeptic. So for $10 (ok, it was $20) could I refuse an authentic Chinese Fortune Telling while I was in Chinatown...

First, a little background on this art...

Chinese fortune telling, better known as Suan ming (Chinese: 算命, literally "fate calculating") has utilized many varying divination techniques throughout the dynastic periods. There are many methods still in practice in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong today, and they remain in use due to their accuracy and popularity. Over time, some of these concepts have moved into Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese culture under other names. For example "Saju" in Korea is the same as the Chinese four pillar method.

Now for the good stuff...what did I learn about my future from this seemingly harmless, hard to understand 100 year old Chinese man?

Well, he looked at my palm and face with a magnified glass and scribbles on this sheet of paper...

Honestly, I couldn't understand most of what he was saying, but I did get what marked on the paper. He laughed and mumbled a is the gist of what I learned:

- 2011 and 2012 are not good years for me (boo)

- 2013 and 2014 is where things will take off for me, in finance and romance

- I will marry in 2013 to someone between the ages of 25-30 (hmmmm)

- I will have 2-5 kids and must start by 2016 or 2017 (no pressure)

- My best months for luck are May, June, July, August and November (at least this year)

- I am a Dragon - Honest, sensitive, and brave.

- I match well with the following Chinese horoscopes: Rat, Monkey, Rooster (I must stay away from Dog, Cow, Rabbit and Dragon)

- South and East locations are best for me (to live in or buy property) - he said I would do well to buy property in China or India, not in America or Mexico

- Summer is the best season for me, Fall is OK...Spring and Winter are no good

- My lifeline goes until about 90 years of age

- My best years will be when I'm 41-50 years old

- Good elements for me are: Soil, Gold and Fire

- Bad elements for me are: Water and Wood (which I like both of, so I was bummed)

What does all this mean? Who knows, it was 10 minutes of entertainment. Am I changing my life and hunting for someone born in the year of the Monkey, Rat or Rooster? No, not yet...I have until 2013...ha!

Have you ever had your fortune read? Tell me about it...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Playing Tourist in LA's Chinatown

What can I say...I used to "cut through" Chinatown on my commute to work everyday for almost a year. I ate there once back in 2002. Have I ever really explored it? Not until today. I'm glad I did. I had fun taking pictures and learning (basically, playing tourist).

Join me on a self-guided tour....with the help of the Interweb...

As early as 1852, a Chinese settlement was recorded near the site of today's Union Station. The community resettled some 86 years later a few streets over, and in 1938, with the dedication of Central Plaza, became the first modern American Chinatown, owned and planned from the ground up by Chinese.

Start your visit at Central Plaza (947 N. Broadway) where you will be enchanted by the quaint walkways and tiny shops. The sound of clicking mahjong tiles can be heard from upstairs windows where many of Chinatown's family associations hold their social meetings. A popular place for filming, Central Plaza with its distinctive "Gate of Filial Piety" also boasts a statue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, founder of the Republic of China, a wishing well dating to 1939, and a five-tiered pagoda. On the building at 951 N. Broadway, you will find a dragon painted by Tyrus Wong.

A step outside and to the left of Central Plaza brings you to the doorstep of Phoenix Bakery (969 N. Broadway, 213/628-4642). This is the oldest and largest bakery in Chinatown with a citywide reputation for its strawberry whipped cream cakes.

Turn back and walk south along North Broadway. As you pass the curio shops and jewelry stores, stop to take in the beautiful tile murals on the wall at 913 North Broadway. Across the street, note Little Joe's Restaurant, a reminder of the large Italian population that also once lived here. The restaurant has recently been purchased and plans are under way to develop the site and restore the restaurant.

Continuing south, on the left side of the street are Saigon Plaza (a hot mess that felt very much like Bangkok), Chinatown Plaza and Dynasty Center (800 block of North Broadway). Most of the shops and stalls in these bazaars are owned by Chinatown's newest ethnic Chinese immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

These bazaars offer real bargains on clothing, toys, food and knickknacks of all kinds. As you walk on the west side of the street your eyes will be caught by a number of jewelry stores sparkling with 18K and 22K gold and exquisite jade creations.

Pit stop for lunch at Hop Louie ...not bad...with $5 lunch specials and an "A" rating...score...

Of course in true LA fashion, lots of celebrities have dined here...

On the corner of Alpine and Broadway is Cathay Bank (777 N. Broadway), the first Chinese American-owned bank in Chinatown. Also on this block is Far East Plaza, considered the first modern ethnic shopping mall in America. Originally a retail plaza exclusively for food, Far East Plaza still houses several restaurants serving styles of regional cuisine that can be found here and nowhere else in Chinatown. It is home to Wing Hop Fung Ginseng and China Products Center (727 N. Broadway, 213/626-7200), the largest store of its kind in Los Angeles, fragrant with herbs and tea, and overflowing with chinaware, garments, arts and crafts. A pharmacy and acupuncturist are located within.

A little detour will take you into another world: an incense-filled Taoist Temple (750 Yale Street). This ornately decorated temple serves as a focal point of the immigrant community and is one of the most beautiful of its kind. As with any religious institution, please be respectful of worshippers and staff on the premises.

By walking or driving back north along Hill Street you will pass the Chinese United Methodist Church (825 Hill Street) which exemplifies a unique blending of Chinese and American architecture dating to the 1940s. The Pacific Alliance Medical Center (931 Hill Street) at the corner of Hill and College streets is one of the first hospitals in Los Angeles. It was built in 1868 to serve the city's French population nearby and boasts a statue of Joan of Arc on the front lawn. Today, the hospital is run by enterprising Chinese doctors and serves the local Chinatown community.

A little further down Hill Street is West Plaza, built in the late 1940s, and mentioned in Lisa See's novel "On Golden Mountain." The F. See On shop at the corner of the courtyard is actually run by See family members. West Plaza houses businesses on the ground floor and residences upstairs. The plaza is also home to a burgeoning new art community whose avant-garde galleries are interspersed among the curio shops.

At the end of North Hill Street, turn right on Bernard Street where you will find the headquarters of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California (411 and 415 Bernard Street). Both houses were built in the late 1880s by French immigrants. The visitor center showcases artifacts and historical photos recounting the history of the Chinese in Southern California. Call 323/222-1918 for information and Visitor Center hours.

As always...I urge you to get out there and explore the city, town or village you live in!

(Stay tuned for future posts on Chinese fortune telling, Chung King Road and a visit to the Chinese American Historical Society - you know you can't wait)