Category Archives: Random Musings

Oh, The Places I’ve Been

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(by Christina & Jack Dunham)

Burning_Man_aerial

Oh, the places I’ve been
Oh, the things that I’ve seen
If I told you, you’d never believe me
But at least let me try
Or perhaps tell you why
I keep going to Black Rock City

Two Gentlemen So Debonnaire | TheSociaholic

I met an old lady with flair
A maiden with purple blue hair
A pink girl on stilts
Young men in white kilts
Two gentlemen so debonnaire

Men with Flashing Suits | The Sociaholic

I also met devilish horns
Albinos and white unicorns
A man who’s suit flashes
Girls with two-inch lashes
Anubis with towering thorns

Anubis with Towering Thorns | TheSociaholic

And on this same trip I did meet
Some characters most indiscrete
A half-man, half-goat
An 8-inch deep throat
And a gypsy with jingling feet

Silver Green Firefly Art Car | TheSociaholic

On one day we road as a pack
On a silver green firefly’s back

Orange Pink Maze | TheSociaholic

We biked through a maze
Of Orange Pink haze

And ran on a hamster wheel track

Hamster Wheel Track | TheSociaholic

And on the deep playa we tried
A bicycle slingshot we spied

Bike Slingshot | TheSociaholic

The bike in its socket
Took off like a rocket
And thankfully, nobody died

Sunken Ship docked at the pier | TheSociaholic

A sunken ship docked at the pier
From there, pounding waves you could hear

Land Boats Glided Through - Burning Man 2012 | TheSociaholic

Land boats glided through
A pirate ship, too
That was manned by a strange buccaneer

Hand-crafted Vietnamese Iced Coffee | TheSociaholic

We indulged in some sugary eats
Like hand-crafted coffee and sweets

Watermelon Shaved Ice at Burning Man 2012 | TheSociaholic

Watermel’n shaved ice
And gluten-free, nice!
Soft porn and hot donuts were treats

Road on for miles upon miles | TheSociaholic

We road on for miles upon miles
To gaze upon beautiful smiles

Playa Art Car | TheSociaholic
Blew kisses and cheered
At all that was weird
As we ambled along silly aisles

The Man | The Sociaholic

And toward the big man we did walk
Where thousands of others had flocked
To see the man burnin’
Was what we were yearnin’
We should have invested in clocks

The Man Burns | The Sociaholic

The night sky was lit up with fire
As effigy burning transpired
Big ego was burned
And then Wall Street’s turn
As lovers were kindling desire

Big Ego | TheSociaholic

We witnessed brave warriors in flight
As they fought under ThunderDomes light
They leapt from the ground and
Their heads took a poundin’
I sure hope those guys are alright

Thunder Dome  Fight Night | TheSociaholic

In the midst of a freezing cold white out
With our very survival in slight doubt
We were saved by a craft
And sat in the aft
And so to TravNasti, a Shout Out

TravNasti of Danstronauts | TheSociaholic

From OT, Osiris, Disorient
To Distrikt and Robot Heart we went
We danced til we dropped
We rocked it non-stop
Until the sun rose in the orient

Opulent Temple | TheSociaholic

And so to our burn family
Rod, Shaun, Mark, Tim, Pang, Tom, Michi
To the veterans and freshman
Like Shauna and Stefan
Hope this trip has fulfilled fantasies

DeMentha Family | TheSociaholic

Of course to our friends at DeMentha
From Germany, France, Barcelona
To the SF Bay crew
To old friends and new
We had such a blast burnin’ with ya!

Burn Family | TheSociaholic

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Seven Days in the Dust

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By far, the nicest, friendliest people I have ever met reside in Black Rock City, NV.

Biking Around the PlayaIt’s a city that moves at a small town’s pace during the day, where neighborhood cafes serve up piping hot cappuccinos and pastries, and local pubs pour generous pints of pilsners and porters; where adults and children alike pedal bikes around dusty roads, and colorful, fanciful four-wheeled vehicles crawl along at a max speed of 5 mph.

At dusk, the city transforms into a bustling metropolis with hip clubs hosting world-class DJs and live bands, and even livelier revelers. No cover, no VIP lines, no pretense.

Bliss Dance - Burning Man 2010 | TheSociaholicResidents let loose in true bacchanalian fashion, with herds hopping from one party to the next, or racing to the horizon to greet the dawn. 30-foot structures explode with dancing fire and the Esplanade glows Vegas-like with its line-up of neon lit car and characters. Lovers wander hand-in-hand through a circus of light and spectacle.

In this city, art is king. From mobile museums and makeshift galleries featuring paintings and photography; to interactive art that pulsate with light or breath fire with a touch of a button; to massive installations – three-story balsa wood temples, large-scale serpentine sculptures, and computer-controlled propane cannons that explode in rhythm.

Love Art in GoldArt is for more than just admiring. It is for touching, exploring, contemplating, climbing, participating and playing.

Black Rock City is located about 100 miles northwest of Reno near the southern end of the Black Rock Desert, past the towns of Empire and Gerlach. It is the site of Burning Man: an experiment in temporary community, a practice in radical self reliance, an opportunity for self-expression for a society of artists and activists, a collective effort with its own culture and traditions, where “transactions of value take place without money, advertising, or hype.”

Burning Man aerial, 2011 | TheSociaholic

The city is laid out like a giant wheel where the “spokes” are numbered radial streets which cross concentric lettered streets. And smack-dab in the middle is an 80-foot high anthropomorphic wooden structure that symbolizes different things to different people. It is neither deity nor demon, a towering effigy affectionately known as “the Man,” the spiritual center for the city’s inhabitants who abide by Ten Principles that include Radical Inclusion, Self-Reliance, and Self-Expression.

Arctica Ice VendingWith the exception of ice offered for sale, no vending is allowed. Gifts, talent, and companionship become currency. Bartering, while frowned upon, occurs by mutual consent. No trash cans are provided, and yet there is no trash to be found. Everyone takes care of their own, and each other. Despite the dust and dirt of the desert, it is one of the most pristine places I have ever seen. The mind-altering experience feels like visiting another planet.

The Playa

Unfortunately, it’s an evanescent city that only exists for one week out of the year, in the days leading up to Labor Day weekend. Covering less than five square miles, it is a fully functioning city of 50,000 locals, with a central post office, airport, mobile clinics, media mecca, law enforcement headquarters, volunteer medics and rangers, a department of public works, and even its own DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles).

At the end of the week, the entire city is completely disassembled, many of its sculptures and structures burned, leaving no trace of the thriving city or its inhabitants. All that is left is a wide expanse of deserted flatlands, bookended by mountain ranges in the distance, sporadically attacked by hurricane-force winds and dust storms, and pierced by triple digit heat. 400 square miles of stark desert lake bed, the largest alkali/mud flats on Earth, simply known as “The Playa.” No running water, no electricity. Nothing.

Seven Days in the Dust By far, the nicest, friendliest people I have ever met reside in Black Rock City, NV. It’s a city that moves at a small town’s pace during the day, where neighborhood cafes serve up piping hot cappuccinos and pastries, and local pubs pour generous pints of pilsners and porters; where adults and children alike pedal bikes around dusty roads, and colorful, fanciful four-wheeled vehicles crawl along at a max speed of 5 mph. At dusk, the city transforms into a bustling metropolis with hip clubs hosting world-class DJs and live bands, and even livelier revelers. No cover, no VIP lines, no pretense. Residents let loose in true bacchanalian fashion, with herds hopping from one party to the next, or racing to the horizon to greet the dawn. 30-foot structures explode with dancing fire and the Esplanade glows Vegas-like with its line-up of neon lit car and characters. Lovers wander hand-in-hand through a circus of light and spectacle. In this city, art is king. From mobile museums and makeshift galleries featuring paintings and photography; to interactive art that pulsate with light or breath fire with a touch of a button; to massive installations – three-story balsa wood temples, large-scale serpentine sculptures, and computer-controlled propane cannons that explode in rhythm. Art is for more than just admiring. It is for touching, exploring, contemplating, climbing, participating and playing. Black Rock City is located about 100 miles northwest of Reno near the southern end of the Black Rock Desert, past the towns of Empire and Gerlach. It is the site of Burning Man: an experiment in temporary community, a practice in radical self reliance, an opportunity for self-expression for a society of artists and activists, a collective effort with its own culture and traditions, where “transactions of value take place without money, advertising, or hype.” The city is laid out like a giant wheel where the "spokes" are numbered radial streets which cross concentric lettered streets. And smack-dab in the middle is an 80-foot high anthropomorphic wooden structure that symbolizes different things to different people. It is neither deity nor demon, a towering effigy affectionately known as “the Man,” the spiritual center for the city’s inhabitants who abide by Ten Principles that include Radical Inclusion, Self-Reliance, and Self-Expression. With the exception of ice offered for sale, no vending is allowed. Gifts, talent, and companionship become currency. Bartering, while frowned upon, occurs by mutual consent. No trash cans are provided, and yet there is no trash to be found. Everyone takes care of their own, and each other. Despite the dust and dirt of the desert, it is one of the most pristine places I have ever seen. The mind-altering experience feels like visiting another planet. Unfortunately, it’s an evanescent city that only exists for one week out of the year, in the days leading up to Labor Day weekend. Covering less than five square miles, it is a fully functioning city of 50,000 locals, with a central post office, airport, mobile clinics, media mecca, law enforcement headquarters, volunteer medics and rangers, a department of public works, and even its own DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles). At the end of the week, the entire city is completely disassembled, many of its sculptures and structures burned, leaving no trace of the thriving city or its inhabitants. All that is left is a wide expanse of deserted flatlands, bookended by mountain ranges in the distance, sporadically attacked by hurricane-force winds and dust storms, and pierced by triple digit heat. 400 square miles of stark desert lake bed, the largest alkali/mud flats on Earth, simply known as “The Playa.” No running water, no electricity. Nothing. In just a couple of days, my husband and I will be making our fourth annual pilgrimage to Black Rock City, joining a group of 43 other individuals from across the globe. Organized into a theme camp called DeMentha, our little footprint at 3:00 and D will be serving up “minty goodness” with afternoon Mojitos and music to chill by, all under a large shade structure equipped with a cooling mister. I look forward to days spent riding bikes around with friends, and checking out music and art at every stop. Family-style dinners in our communal dining tent at sunset. Free shows, snow cones, movies, popcorn, popsicles. Freedom. Participation in Burning Man continues to test our ability for self-sufficiency and allows us to explore our own eccentricities. Being forced to go without so many creature comforts, one becomes more appreciative of the simple things in life. Giving thanks takes on new meaning. I look forward to my seven days in the dust.In just a couple of days, my husband and I will be making our fourth annual pilgrimage to Black Rock City, joining a group of 43 other individuals from across the globe. Organized into a theme camp called DeMentha, our little footprint at 3:00 and D will be serving up “minty goodness” with afternoon Mojitos and music to chill by, all under a large shade structure equipped with a cooling mister.

I look forward to days spent riding bikes around with friends, and checking out music and art at every stop. Family-style dinners in our communal dining tent at sunset. Free shows, snow cones, movies, popcorn, popsicles. Freedom.

Participation in Burning Man continues to test our ability for self-sufficiency and allows us to explore our own eccentricities. Being forced to go without so many creature comforts, one becomes more appreciative of the simple things in life. Giving thanks takes on new meaning.

I look forward to my seven days in the dust.

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How To Give Life 100%

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Came across “life equations” while searching for inspirational business quotes. Don’t know who originally wrote it (there was no attribution) , but would like to thank them for coming up with something so clever. If you know the original author, please let me know 🙂

How to give life 100 percent | TheSociaholic.com

Homecoming

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Colegio San Agustin – Makati | TheSociaholic.com

August 25, 2012 marks my 25th High School Reunion with Colegio San Agustin Makati.

Well, technically, I’m part of the Wachusett High School Class of 1986, in Holden, Massachusetts. And we celebrated our 25th High School Reunion last year. I didn’t go. Rutland, Massachusetts was only home for a year, not long enough to form any lasting bonds. Most of the friendships I made faded as soon as I left. My memories of the place are all foggy, and I have to consult old photo albums to remind myself of all that I did in my last year of high school.

In my late teens and early twenties, Salisbury, Maryland, was home — a very significant time in my nascent adulthood.  This was where I went to college, had my first serious boyfriend, decided on a career, and learned to be resourceful, tackling jobs from college catering to go-go dancing.  I created many memories here, and made a lot of friends.

A year after graduating,  I went back to Salisbury for homecoming. From the tailgate parties to the football games, the pep rallies to formal alumni dinners, I attended everything, caught up with everyone. Two years later, I visited again. But this time, skipped out on the formal dinner. Three years passed…and I decided the airfare was too expensive. It took my college BFF’s wedding in October last year to get me to go back east again.

On my last visit, I drove right by my old college campus and marched past places I had previously partied, with hardly a glance. I had breakfast with my college roommate, Agata, now Salisbury University‘s International Student Advisor, who immediately got our other roommate, Meme, on speakerphone for a good dose of raucous reminiscing.

Otherwise, nothing looked or felt the same. Gone were the bars and clubs that witnessed my youthful debauchery, and gone were the people that made Salisbury feel like home. Salisbury is a college town, composed of transients and tourists — no one is really from there, and most everyone I knew had left.  It dawned on me, then, that I was simply a visitor in this place.

Maybe the old adage is true… that one can never go home again.

But Colegio San Agustin is different. This is where I grew roots and I developed my identity. I spent the bulk of my toddler and ‘tween years there, graduated with the grade school class of 1983, then attended freshmen and sophomore year before taking off and finishing high school in Massachusetts. At a fundamental level, I’ll always be an Augustinian.

I continue to nurture friendships with many of my Augustinian friends, virtually or otherwise. Posts on our batch Facebook page further set off interactions, encourage conversations, and deepen our common bonds. I can’t think of a group more cohesive than ours. This past May, my husband and I took the long trek from Montara to Irvine for an advanced celebration of our 25th high school reunion and visited with 45 other stateside friends. I felt at home.

Perhaps we can go home again — as long as we recognize that home isn’t a place — it is a community of people that cherish the ties that bind them together.

Colegio San Agustin Batch 87 SoCal Reunion | TheSociaholic.com

Colegio San Agustin Batch 87 SoCal Reunion | TheSociaholic.com

 

Why Genius Demands Down Time

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Christina Dunham | The Sociaholic - Cat Nap

One of my favorite all-time activities – then and now – is taking a nap.

While many believe that sitting still is a luxury very few can afford, it’s exactly the kind of thing that everyone should indulge in. We live in a sleep deprived nation of over-achievers and workaholics consumed with climbing the top of Mt. Never Rest. We brag about lack of sleep and complain of long days, not realizing the stopping for a moment is exactly what’s going to help us with progressing forward.

Does genius demand down time? Inventor Thomas Alva Edison certainly thought so. He is reputed to take several cat naps during the day to help fuel his creativity. As Donald Mitchell, author of Adventures of an Optimist puts it, “lounging can be a purposeless way of being more purposeful by letting your unconscious mind come out.”

Need more convincing? Other famed practitioners of cat napping include Albert Einstein, John D. Rockefeller, Winston Churchill, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Ronald Regan. Besides its recuperative benefits, studies have shown that napping helps improve long-term memory, boosts alertness and creativity, and enhances productivity for up to 10 hours. Even our Pinoy predecessors knew the value of taking a siesta.

What’s the optimal interval for a power nap? It seems 20 to 45 minutes does the trick, when the body can benefit from the first two stages of sleep. A complete sleep cycle takes about 90-110 minutes and comprises of following stages:

Stage 1:  Falling asleep, or hypnagogia, the transition state between wakefulness and sleep

Stage 2:  Light sleep, when brain activity and heart rate slows down (about 10-20 minutes after falling asleep)

Stage 3:  Slow-wave sleep (occurs about half-way into the sleep-cycle). The feeling of grogginess and confusion occurs if woken up during this stage.

Stage 4:  Deep sleep (the regeneration stage)

Stage 5:  REM-sleep (the dream stage)

To avoid crossing over into Stage 3 sleep, Thomas Edison would hang on to a handful of ball-bearings, which dropped to the floor as he fully relaxed, thus waking him up. Other inventors have followed suit, releasing a suite of products specifically designed for power nappers. For example, there is the Sleeptracker Pro, worn like a watch, which monitors signals from your body and wakes you up at the best possible point in your sleep cycle. Then there’s the MetroNap EnergyPod, provided to employees by companies like Proctor&Gamble, a dentist-chair like lounger with a half-dome that envelopes your upper body, and a built-in timer to wake you up via a combination of light and vibration.

As Carrie Snow tells us, “No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.”  Next time you find yourself sluggish in the middle of a work-day, retreat to your desk, put up a “do not disturb” sign, and take a cue from Kindergarteners… take a nap.

The Immobile Arts

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Waking up at the crack of noon, I hesitated peeling the eye mask off my face for fear that the explosion of sunlight might trigger a sneezing fit. It was another weekend of back-to-back gigs with my band, and I decide to savor the last few moments of darkness provided by my trusty eye mask, sandwiched between my fluffy comforter and comfy pillow-top mattress.I started counting in my head… 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12… good. That means I’ve had about eight hours of sleep now.

Next on the agenda, 30 minutes of slowly rising into a sitting position to watch SpongeBob SquarePants. First up, it’s the episode where SpongeBob’s klutzy cousin Stanley S. SquarePants comes to visit. As I turn up the volume, the following conversation ensues:

SpongeBob SquarePants (character)Patrick:  Looking for your calling, huh? Hmmm. So what are you good at?

Stanley:  Nothing.

Patrick:  Nothing at all?

Stanley:  Yep.

Patrick:  Interesting. Let’s see how good you are at nothing.

SpongeBob: That’s perfect! Patrick can do nothing better than anyone! You’ll be learning from the master!

Patrick: Come with me. First, sit down on this chair. Clear your mind. Empty it of all thoughts. Until you’re doing absooooluuuuuutely nooooothiiiiiiing (Patrick hunches over with glazed eyes, drool suspended in mid-air, to the sound of a cow mooing)

Stanley sits, but no sooner, his foot starts tapping, eyes start twitching, sweat rolling down his forehead, the ticking clock pounding in his brain. Hard as he tries, he just can’t sit still.

Stanley:  I can’t do it!!!!

Patrick: You’re not worthy of instruction in the Immobile Arts! Leave my presence!!!

Ah, yes. The Immobile Arts. The art of doing absolutely nothing. Now how many of you actually practice this? We are a society of super-achievers and wonder-women, multi-taskers with over-booked calendars. While I am guilty of pushing the limits of endurance and sanity, there is one thing I have learned to do quite well – nothing.

Several years ago, while attending a professional business women’s conference inSan Francisco, I sat in on a talk by a woman who espoused “mastering the tyrant within.” One of the messages that really stuck was that “sometimes, good enough is good enough.” Caught up in a perfection-obsessed world, this was news to me. Growing up, my adult role-models always encouraged me to “do better, do more” and so it was a never-ending quest to get to the top of Mt.Never-Rest.

After that conference, I took inventory of everything I did, and carefully determined which activities demanded perfection, and which didn’t. Super-squeaky clean floors? I can live with dust-bunnies here and there. Community involvement? Only as a volunteer for select events and fundraisers. Corporate ladder?  I like the flexibility of working from home. I don’t need to run the world. As I slowly re-organized my life and re-arranged my priorities, my me-time increased and my stress level dropped significantly.

I then decided that the one activity requiring perfection was the art of doing nothing, which I discovered, was a critical part of doing everything else well.

Summer Blockbuster

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I can’t stand chick flicks.

Christina Dunham | Summer BlockbusterFor me, movies like Beaches or The Notebook are simply antidotes for lingering insomnia. Too many chick flicks go over the same thread worn plot over and over again, reassuring womankind that chivalry is not dead and that broken hearts will be mended by a knight in shining armor.

Being jerked to tears is absolutely draining. Seriously. Try watching Titanic ten times in a row and see how deeply you can dig yourself into misery. It’s a fact: what we see, hear and experience affect our emotional and physical state, stimulating happiness, anger, fear and sadness. And there’s already too much drama going on in the real world that I don’t have any energy left over to invest in fictional characters.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there isn’t any value in embracing deep, purging emotions. And occasionally, I do enjoy cheering on a forlorn woman besieged by a romantic quandary, especially if it involves Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig or Anna Faris.

But give me movies with elements of action, adventure or comedy. That’s a different story. Startling explosions and catastrophic calamities, incredible stunts and fight scenes, dizzying car chases and narrow escapes, high-tech gadgets and awe-inspiring special effects, swashbuckling heroes and heroines. The non-stop-edge-of-your-seat-action just gets my adrenaline going. Give me a combo action/adventure/comedy movie and I’m in seventh heaven.

This is precisely why I always look forward to the Summer Blockbuster season.

Take Summer 2012, for example. Hitting the box office are:

  • The Avengers
  • Men in Black III
  • Prometheus
  • The Amazing Spiderman
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Total Recall
  • Snow White and the Huntsman

Oh my! Just thinking about it makes me giddy like a 6-year old. Who cares that, predictably, the heroes always prevail over the evil villains – it’s fun finding out how they get out of their disastrous predicaments.

According to an article in BusinessWeek.com, “the birth of what we know now as the summer blockbuster season was in June 1975, when Jaws was released. The thriller about a giant man-eating shark is not only credited as the first-ever summer blockbuster, it also set the tone for summer movies for years to come.” At that time, movie ticket prices were only $2.00 each. You can’t even buy a soda with that today.

As far as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed action flicks. Perhaps because growing up with three brothers, I didn’t have much of a choice with what movies were rented for our trusty Betamax. From Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan to James Bond, it seems we watched every single kung fu, ninja and action movies produced in the 70s and 80s. I even fancied myself a Ninja at times, silently tiptoeing up the stairs to launch a surprise attack on my Yaya (Nanny) or throwing flying sidekicks at my neighbor’s son. Because he deserved it.

Truly well-made action/adventure films simply stand the test of time. Like the James Bond series. It’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most profitable and the longest running English language film series of all time. With his flawless fashion sense, fast cars, and clever gadgets, James Bond’s character is an often imitated hero. Even my father, Greg Macabenta, wrote, directed and produced a James Bond-type television series when I was growing up – Target: Agent 69 (which of course I was never allowed to see as a young girl. I can’t tell you to this day if I’ve ever even seen an episode).

My husband tells me that perhaps the reason I enjoy action flicks so much is because I like characters that rescue themselves. I just can’t identify with the damsel in distress who dawdles in her ivory tower, waiting for prince charming to arrive. Romantic, yes. Rational, no.

Take this scene from Shrek 3: all the princesses are imprisoned in the castle dungeon and Princess Fiona demands, “We have to do something!!!” Snow White then prompts the girls to “assume the position!” So Sleeping Beauty passes out, Rapunzel primps her long hair, Snow White sits pretty, and Cinderella starts scrubbing the floor.

My hero is Jack Sparrow, not Mia Farrow. Forget Mr. Knight in Shining Armor – I’ll slay the dragon myself.