Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cinequest's Picture the Possibilities

The 2012 Cinequest Film Festival kicked off last night with lots of excitement! For those who may not know, Cinequest is a twelve day film festival in San Jose, CA that blends film lovers and film creators. What many don't know is that Cinequest has also created in a non-profit organization called Picture the Possibilities. Picture The Possibilities (PTP) is a dynamic program empowering youth from around the world to create films expressing visions of a better tomorrow in order to invoke change within their communities. I was fortunate enough to speak with PTP Coordinator, Marcela Villegas Castanon for Content magazine. Here is an excerpt from my article:

Do the students/youth develop all aspects of the film? Do they write the screenplays? Do they direct the actors? Do they manage the casting?
Usually, participants turn in story ideas about a month before the program. We review and read all the stories and then we select a topic that is prevalent in all the stories. Since there are 15-20 kids, and we can’t make 15-20 films. We choose about three to four stories. Then we start constructing a script from there.

The first few days, we lecture on how to create screenplays, on filmmaking and finally on editing. So, participants get lectures on the basic fundamentals of filmmaking. Then we go over the scripts we’ve selected and start the pre-production part of the process. We get the props we’ll need, we figure out who is going to be the actors, find our locations. This all happens in one day. Then we have three to four days for filming.

So, you make three to four films in a two-week period?
Yes, we do. Plus, we do a personal profile piece on each of the participants. We basically interview them and ask them to tell us about themselves, their community, about their home life, and about what they want to share with us. They each have an opportunity to express what they want through these profiles. So, we create 15-20 profile pieces and we do the three, sometimes five film pieces in two weeks.

To read the full interview please click here 
(Photography by Ezra Gordon)
Monday, February 27, 2012


The word for people who have a "positive predisposition" for all things French are called Francophiles. These are people who love French food, French decor, the French language, etc. Here is my question... is there a similar term for individuals who have that same type of "positive predisposition" for Ireland?

I have been thinking about Ireland a lot lately. You could probably tell by this post and this post.  Maybe it's because our trip was almost a year ago, or because the landscape was incredibly beautiful, or because I miss actually having a winter. Whatever it is, it has me wanting to go back. I've been daydreaming about discovering the Irish countryside, and spontaneously making plans as we go.

Is there a certain place you daydream of? 
(Photo taken in Ireland in 2011)


I'm in the middle of reading Bossypants by Tina Fey and this book is absolutely hysterical. As I'm reading, I find myself laughing out loud and wanting to read paragraphs at a time to Robbie. Of course, it is not nearly as funny to him since he doesn't understand the whole context, but I can't help myself. After I'm finished I want to go on a cruise with Tina*, or maybe just hang out with her for lunch.

Have you read Bossypants? What books have made you laugh out loud while reading them?
*You'll have to read chapter ten to find out exactly why this will never happen.
Friday, February 24, 2012

Have a Fun Weekend!

Do you have anything fun planned this weekend?  Robbie and I are headed to the snow (or whatever we can find) with some friends. We're hoping to take a break from our "screens", so we'll be turning off our phones and ignoring our laptops. It'll be a quick trip, so I'm planning on relaxing the heck out of Saturday! Do you have any tips to quickly sink into relaxation?

I hope you enjoy your weekend!
(Photo taken the day we jumped out of a plane!)
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Decorating with Maps

Robbie loves maps. Whenever we visit a new city, he loves to grab a map and familiarize himself with our new surroundings. I, on the other hand, have never really cared all that much about looking at a physical map. I'd rather talk to a local, get verbal directions, and then figure it out from there. Recently, Robbie and I re-organized our room and the change-up has been fun. The new set-up has me thinking that I want to hang a framed photo or photos of maps above our bed. Here are a few that have been catching my eye...

Do you decorate with maps? Any recommendations on where to look?
(Photos: map one, map two, map three. All via Pinterest)
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meeting Rick Steves - The Highlights

Although meeting Rick Steves was the highlight of my Saturday, it was not the only aspect of the day. He gave two lectures to the audience and I was able to walk on water (literally, not just metaphorically). His first lecture was based on his best selling book, "Europe Through the Back Door", which focuses on his tips for traveling on a budget. Here are the highlights from his lecture:

  • Understand the mindset of where you are; research the time and context of your destination so that your sightseeing takes on a new meaning.
  • Find ruined castles or other free things. 
  • Find ways to really be in Europe. It is a mental game, so do what you can to psychologically be present. 
  • Stroll, stroll, stroll!!! Europeans enjoy taking the time to stroll through their cities, and you should too.
  • Make sure you have up to date information.
  • Start mild (Ireland, England, etc.) and work your way to exotic (Rome, Greece, Turkey, etc.)
  • Find ways to get away from lines. If you are waiting in lines, then you are doing it wrong. 
  • Travel to the Mediterranean in April and May, and spend June and July north of the Alps. 

Rick's second lecture was based on his book, "Travel as a Political Act". The main purpose of this lecture seemed to emphasize the importance of being a conscientious traveller.

  • Travel allows you to bring back empathy and truth form the rest of the world.
  • The opposite of fear is understanding.
  • People don't think they are better than you, they are just inspired by something different. 
  • When you're told to go shopping and they'll do the thinking, red flags should be raised.
  • The European Union is interested in ethnic region, not just traditional boundaries.
  • Traveling allows us to gain empathy for other people's baggage, so be mindful of that baggage as you travel.
  • If we are honest with ourselves, we will realize that children and familial relationships from other parts of the world are just as precious as in the United States.
  • The Iranian people are good people motivated by fear and love; the same as some Americans. 

After the lectures and meet and greets, we headed over to the kids section of the expo. They had a zip line, bounce houses and bubble rollers. I decided to fork over some cash and get into a Bubble Roller. When you get in a roller, you get zipped up and vacuum sealed into a big bubble, and then can walk (or at least try to), roll, or spin on water without getting wet. I struggled to stand, but had so much fun trying. Bubble Rollers are a new idea to me and I found out that they will even come to your house for a birthday! I thought it would be great for a work event.

Do you have any travel tips you pass on to friends or family? Have you ever thought of your travels as a political act?
(Photos taken for Short Story Long)
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Meeting Rick Steves!

My weekend was amazing. Not only did I enjoy an extra day off work, I also met my travel hero, Rick Steves, over the weekend. I was super excited about the whole experience, and didn't really start feeling nervous until Saturday morning. Robbie wasn't able to come with me for the first lecture, but was planning on meeting me there for the actual meet and greet. Luckily, my roommate Sarah and friend Sobrina were able to join me from the start.

Once we arrived, Sarah and I planned on heading straight to the Travel & Adventure theater to get good seats. As soon as we walked in, Sarah said, "There's Rick Steves". I freaked out! I couldn't help myself. The thought of being in the same room made it all the more real. It turns out that he was conducting an improv Q&A session before his lecture and was taking questions from the audience. There were already a ton of people there, but I was somehow able to score a seat in the second row! (Disclaimer: it was a solo seat and I totally ditched my friends for it. I realize it is horrible, but at the time I couldn't walk away. I was making eye-contact with the man for goodness sake! )

His first lecture was on traveling Europe effectively, while still on a budget. To be honest, I had actually heard a lot of his advice before from his DVD series. Since the girls and I had been separated, Sarah decided to get in the meet in greet line before his lecture actually ended. Genius! By the time he wrapped up and I made my way over, Robbie had found us and we were only ten people back. I had brought two DVDs and Sarah had a travel journal for him to sign; I was responsible for all three. I put Sarah in charge of taking pictures and Robbie was there for moral support (plus, I think he was most excited to see my reaction).

Even Robbie was thrilled for me! Haha!
a) Look at the excitement on my face and b) Check out the Tech issue of Content in his hands!
I was completely nervous as I approached his autograph table. I had an idea of what I wanted to say, but was suddenly second guessing it. Before I realized it, the time had come. I was face-to-face with the man whose television show I watch on an almost weekly basis. As he began to autograph my items, I just started to speak. I told him that I loved his shows and that he is an inspiration to me. I gave him a business card for my blog (I would LOVE it if he read it) and told him I was practicing some of the advice he offers on his website. He says (as paraphrased in my mind), "Write about what you love and make it available for free. Eventually people will pay for your writing". I concluded our meeting by gifting him with the Tech issue of Content magazine.

All in all, it was a really great day and an exciting interaction. I can't believe I met my hero and was able to give him examples of my work. Robbie and the girls were extremely supportive and helped me laugh off my nervousness after. It was such a fun afternoon!

I'll be back for part 2 tomorrow with highlights from his lecture!

What do you say when you are meeting your hero?
(All photos taken for Short Story Long)
Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Monday!

I hope you enjoyed your weekend! Mine hasn't technically ended since President's Day is an observed holiday at my company. Score! There is something so relaxing knowing I have an additional day off at the end of the weekend. I had a very exciting Saturday (more on that soon!), but there wasn't a moment the last two days where I felt rushed or guilty for lounging around. It was very relaxing.

Do you have to work today? If not, do you have anything fun planned?
(Photo: via justlookandbeamazed)
Friday, February 17, 2012

Have an Inspired Weekend!

Last night, Content Magazine hosted a Launch Party to celebrate our first print run! A few months ago, we participated in Kickstarter and set out to raise enough money for a full print run. Guess what... we succeeded! It was amazing to see all of the individuals who believe in Content's vision, and who are choosing to support it. I am so inspired by everything that is going on with Content and the creative culture it is fostering. I'm grateful to be a part of something so exciting and I can't wait to see where it leads.

(Photo taken at the Launch Party)
Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Hear Patience is a Virtue

As I'm writing, I'm feeling a bit of what Joanna Goddard calls the winter blues. It's funny because California has been having absolutely amazing winter weather; we've had sunshine all over the state. To be honest with you, I think I'm feeling sad because I'm feeling impatient, not because of the weather. I have goals of where I want to be and things I want to be doing, but I'm not there yet.

I understand and appreciate the necessity of building a foundation and "paying my dues". It is through this time that I am gaining the experience to be successful later on in life. It's just that sometimes I grow frustrated with the waiting. Does that happen to you?

How do you cope with frustrations regarding where you are now compared to where you would like to be?
(Photo taken in Yosemite in 2011)
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meeting My Hero

Hello friends! I have some exciting news… (before you jump to too many conclusions, no I am not pregnant, we are not moving, and life is pretty much staying the same). My news centers around the Travel and Adventure Expo being held in Santa Clara this weekend. First of all, I’m excited to walk around, check out the newest travel accessories, and see what the vendors have to offer. All of that will be really fun for me.

However, the real excitement is happening Saturday morning at 11:30am. My travel hero, Rick Steves, will be giving a lecture on traveling in Europe on a budget! I’m so excited to see him in person. But wait, it gets better. Rick will be conducting a meet and greet after the lecture. A meet and greet! I will be able to shake hands with the man who has helped me fall in love with Europe! Ahhhh! To be honest, I’m so excited that I can hardly stand it. I get nervous and a little overwhelmed thinking of what I want to say to him.

I’ve decided to bring a copy (or two) of my favorite DVDs for him to sign. Robbie thinks I’m dorky for wanting to do this, but I don’t care! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet a hero. I don’t have time to care if I look like a dork. Unfortunately, Robbie won’t be able to join me for the first lecture on Saturday, so my dear friend Sobrina has decided to come along. She seems to be super excited as well (although I think some of it is excitement around seeing my nervous red face when we first meet him). I’m thrilled that she’ll be joining me because Sob is such a good friend that I don’t have to worry about geeking out in front of her. She’ll just laugh alongside me and snap my picture. Oh geez, just thinking about taking a picture with Rick Steves is getting me excited again. Let’s face it: he’s my Justin Bieber.

Who is your hero? Have you had the opportunity to meet them?
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What to Where - Dublin

Dublin is a big city with a hometown feel. The Irish are independent people, who don’t take kindly to people telling them what to do. This is most evidenced by their brightly painted doors. While under English rule, the Royal Family ordered all doors to be painted black to mourn the death of King James. Instead of obeying orders, some Irish neighborhoods painted their doors bright colors in defiance. It is this kind of rebel spirit that brightens a glooming, rainy city.

As you walk through City Center, into Temple Bar, and around the Trinity campus, try to add a little color to your outfit. Personally, I like to add some color with a sweater or scarf, but I love the boldness of these pink shorts. Sometimes all you need is one piece to brighten your day.

(Photos: Taken in Dublin in 2011;
Monday, February 13, 2012

Road Trips

As a kid, my family was never a big "road trip family". In fact, my mother would much rather fly down to southern California than spend the eight hours it would take in the car. We would drive if we had to (2-4 hours), but we never went on a road trip as a vacation.

Since childhood, I have embarked upon (and enjoyed) a couple of different road trips. My first major trip came when I helped move my friend Tracy from Chicago to California. For some crazy reason we moved her in the dead middle of winter: February. The result was a fun story that deserves a post itself, but we were able to pull off the 2,200 mile journey in 3 days! Yikes!

My second major road trip was my honeymoon. Robbie and I decided to drive up the coast of California and into Oregon. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was wonderful to spend so much alone time with Robbie after such a stressful time of our lives (I hated wedding planning). Plus, we were able to set the pace for our entire trip and go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. It was an unconventional way to celebrate our new marriage, but I wouldn't have wanted any other trip.

Did your family "road trip" when you were a kid?
(Photos: station wagon and blue bug)
Friday, February 10, 2012

Have a fun weekend!

Do you have anything fun planned this weekend? Robbie and I will be celebrating my step-dad's birthday with the rest of my family. We're headed to Bogey's Pizza in San Jose, which is one of his favorite places. I'm also hoping to catch one of the Sharks games this weekend (they're leading their division and I hope they keep it that way!).

I hope you can make the most of your Saturday and Sunday!
(Photo: Family fun in Disneyland in 2010)
Thursday, February 9, 2012

What to Where - Istanbul

Istanbul is the largest metropolitan province in Turkey. It is full of history, ancient architecture, and friendly people. After you've had an opportunity to visit the markets and tour the city, be sure to take some time for yourself. As I've said before, just because you're traveling doesn't mean you can't look nice. I recommend putting on a piece that will make you feel like you are on vacation and special; perhaps something you picked up from your earlier trip to the market. Once you've settled on your outfit, take time to relax with a cup of tea, while enjoying the beautiful view around you.

Have you been to Istanbul? Have you ever thought of visiting?
(Photo: one and two)
Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Flu

I got hit with an awful case of the flu over the weekend. It started Sunday evening, after the big game and lasted through midday yesterday. I initially thought that I may have eaten too much of my friend Ali's delicious guacamole, but the fever and full body aches were a dead give away that my new found friendship with my toilet could not be caused by over-indulgence alone.

Luckily, my sweet husband took great care of me while I was in such a pitiful state. He set me up to watch really good television (Parenthood) and a great movie (The Help), and even made me lunch-in-bed. I don't think I've completely recovered, but I'm feeling much better and stronger today. I will admit I did enjoy resting up, but I was starting to get super antsy being in bed for so long!

Do you have any sick-day rituals? Or go-to remedies? 
(Photos: one, two, three, four)
Friday, February 3, 2012

Have a Super Weekend

Are you doing anything fun for the big game this weekend? Robbie and I are having people over to watch it at our house. I'm excited because we will have old and new friends joining us, and its always fun when two groups of people, from separate parts of life, meet. Do you have any predictions of who will win the big game? Everyone is saying the New England Patriots will win and its making me want to pick the New York Giants, simply because they are the underdog.

What is your prediction? Will you be watching the game or ignoring it completely?
(Photos: Tom Brady and Eli Manning)
Thursday, February 2, 2012

Guess Where!

I've hosted guessing games on Short Story Long before, and had loads of fun putting it together. So much fun in fact, that I decided to host another guessing game today! Can you guess where this photo was taken?

And the virtual high five goes to...

Michael! Brad was correct in that they are the Fingal's Cave, but it is located in Scotland. Thank you all for playing!
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