Thursday, January 6, 2011

Southern California

Back from Los Angeles last night and arrived near midnight. It was 17 days of rain, cold and some brilliant sunshine. It was relaxing although I spent some early mornings working; checking my email, attending virtual meetings and phone conferences, doing tests, and raising tickets. Despite the work, my vacation was very relaxing. I had to work on Eastern Standard Time which was early morning in California. At least it preserved my vacation day as I would finish by 9 or 10 am California time. The last few days were not good though because I had a cold with some irritating coughing fits. Eventually, we flew back home in brilliant sunshine from John Wayne airport in Orange County.

I spent a lot of time watching old DVD movies that I missed as well as recent movies like ‘True Grit’ (Coen brother’s excellent western remake), ‘The Special Relationship’ (Clinton and Blair) and ‘The Blind Side’ (football feel good movie). I also watched the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena and Orange Bowl football game in a new 60” plasma television. I also watched a lot of business shows (CNBC, Bloomberg), surfed the internet and read a lot of interior design magazines. We also went to the Barnes and Nobles book store, went window shopping, walked the malls and went to the Best Buy electronic shop and outlet shops near Palm Springs.

During the days when the sun was out, we were able to visit interesting places in Los Angeles like the new modern Catholic Cathedral, Frank Gehry designed Disney Music Center, LACMA, Tokyo town, China town and Olvera streets or Mexico town, the new west end (Staples center, Nokia theater, LA Convention Center). We also visited Solvang – a nice little Dutch town near Santa Barbara. This probably was the highlight of the trip for me – driving along the California coast passing quaint little towns like Montecito and Santa Barbara. We also went to the Richard Nixon library in Yorba Linda and the Newport pier at night. We had a nice Christmas party with games and gifts with friends and visited some relatives in nearby Moreno Valley for a New Year’s Eve dinner.  

It was a good time for my kids because they bonded well with their cousins. I finally learned how to play mahjong which I had wanted to do for a long time. I read or watched or thought a lot about the coming year 2011. It’s the Year of the Rabbit which is my birth year based on Chinese Horoscope. The stars seem to foretell good tidings for me on 2011. From my readings, it seems that mortgage rates will remain low, real estate values will still decline (except for some areas like California) with a possible up tick in the last quarter, technology seems to be moving to mobile devices like tablets and mobile phones and USA stocks may recover though some investors may still be hesitant.

The political front may provide some respite with the recent extension of the Bush tax cuts. This provides a second ‘stimulus’ for the economy and some people may hopefully invest in stocks. From my point of view, this will give me some extra cash which will provide an opportunity to de-leverage from debts. My plan is to pay off my second car loan and re-finance my housing loan into a 15-year fixed rate mortgage. I plan to learn more about web television and try to set up a video phone conference utility at home. I also plan to explore the web more (with an Archos 7 inch tablet device) especially in learning about new websites on finance and creative writing. I bought an illustrated companion guide about Stephen King which has some samples of his early writing.

I also bought a few books from Amazon about writing exercises and have a vague plan to complete my first book with the help of writing workshops, writing exercises and dictation. I plan to use my new gadgets and cloud computing to get me through this project. I also discovered a new writer - Trevor Paglen who writes about secret military or intelligence projects. It’s an interesting supplement to the recent books of William Gibson. All in all, my California vacation allowed me to relax, reflect, and discover new things and plan for the future.

My most important New Year resolution is to lose weight, finish my book, be focused and stop procrastinating, be tech savvy with the latest trends and devices and continue improving my financial literacy. I hope to be more organized and de-clutter my life and surroundings. I am inspired by the recent Man of the Year awardee – the Facebook creator who has achieved so much at any early age. I guess it means having the proper focus and drive to achieve one’s goals that is important.

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