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Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 2 comments

Pet Sounds

 

Nolan Dalla Cat

Alex — Our 11-year-old stray adopted from a shelter in Washington, DC

 

A few years ago, a famous Italian winemaker came to the United States on a mission.  He was determined to open up a new restaurant in the Seattle area.

The winemaker and aspiring restauranteur was in the process of hiring his staff.  While conducting job interviews with each applicant, he made it a point to pose one rather unusual question to each of his prospective employees.  It didn’t matter if the position was for manager, cook ,waiter, or dishwasher.  The question was always asked.

“Do you own any pets?”

Pets?  This seemed like a very strange question.  Especially for a job interview at a restaurant.  After all, the applicants weren’t applying for jobs in a pet store.

But the winemaker had his personal reasons for posing such a seemingly oddball question.  Immediately after asking about their pets, he watched the eyes and monitored the expressions of all those who were sitting across the table, eagerly hoping to be part of his new restaurant.  He listened carefully to the way each applicant spoke about their pets.  Were they excited?  Were there expressions of love in their voices?  For those who did not own a pet, was there a desire to get one someday?  For those who no longer had a pet, did they grow up with dogs and cats?  If so, how did they feel about them?

Naturally, this was a curious thing.  The winemaker was asked what any of this had to do with owning and operating a successful restaurant.

“Why do you ask every applicant if they own a pet?” he was asked by the person who told me this story.  The winemaker’s answer was intriguing.

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Posted by on Aug 15, 2012 in Blog, Essays | 2 comments

The Dawn of Enlightenment and the Dusk of Superstition

Nolan Dalla Living Room

 

There was some encouraging news last week.  A series of polls was conducted in several nations.  The polls intended to measure religious faith and atheism.  The findings were published last Friday.

The bottom line is — religion is on the decline.  Or, as I prefer to think of it — enlightenment is on the rise.

That’s positive news to those of us fatigued by the insufferable influences of religion on politics and society.  How refreshing to learn that increasing numbers of people everywhere are rebuffing the archaic superstition of some giant “sky daddy,” rejecting the whimsy of a paternal heavenly dictator who sees and knows all.

If the poll numbers are to be believed, the shifts in faith (and lack thereof) are stunning.  Globally, belief in religion declined 9 percent since a similar poll was taken back in 2005.  That’s just eight years ago.  This number is based on 50,000 people who were polled in 57 different countries.

In the United States, the number of religious followers declined by 13 percent.  But that number pales in comparison to Ireland, where religiosity declined by a whopping 22 percent.  To be fair, the weakening of Irish faith may have a lot to do with recent scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church, which remains the dominant faith in Ireland.

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Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Personal, What's Left | 0 comments

Hitting Life’s Reset Button

Life's Reset Button

 

If you could go back and live your life all over again, would you?

I suppose most of us would answer – it depends.

Let’s say you could turn back the clock  and relive your life with the benefit of all the knowledge you now possess.  Given the inherent wonders of knowing what the future would bring, most of us would agree to a replay.  Let’s say you could go back to 1969 and bet on the New York Jets or take full advantage of MicroSoft’s 1986 IPO, you’d be very wealthy indeed.

Then there is the “Dead Zone” prospect of going back and purposefully changing the future.  For instance, who among us would not feel compelled to try and alter the terrible course of events which occurred on September 11, 2001?

But what about going back in time and facing utter uncertainty?  Would you choose to live your life over again and then be willing to accept the consequences if things were to turn out very differently?

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Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Travel | 1 comment

Three Dogs and a Mexican (Part 2)

 

It was a Sunday.

Boulevards normally jammed with traffic were less so and moved more freely.  It was a day of leisure.  People were out and about.

The park was busier than the day before.  Children ran in circles.  There was laughter.  Music played.

And, my eighth run began alongside the concrete aqueduct.

Just as the day before, I ran about a mile, and then veered off the right.  I scaled the first wall effortlessly and ran a considerable distance before coming upon the same cinder block barricade I remembered from the previous day.

I had arrived at the blue tent.

But this time, the tent had an occupant.  A small-framed man, perhaps 30 or so, sat upright on what appeared to be a sleeping bag.  I did not want to startle or disturb the man.  So, I quietly made my way over the wall and began to proceed down the path to continue my run.

Suddenly, one of the dogs started barking.  And the other dogs too, joined in unison.  The canine alarm bells had gone off.

I could not see the man’s face clearly.  But, he must have been fearful.  After all, few passersby run along the aqueduct and certainly no one scales over two barricades – on a weekend, no less – to invade the solitude this man had etched for himself in what was a gigantic foreign metropolis.

Alerted by the barking mutts, the man quickly rose to his feet when he saw me.  He appeared startled, and it was easy to understand why this was so.

Seeing a invader passing along the aqueduct, in a place off-limits to pedestrian traffic, had to be a terrifying prospect for this frightened man resting in solace, who was clearly Hispanic, probably Mexican — and almost certainly an illegal alien.

That’s right — an illegal alien.  Chew on those words for a moment.

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Posted by on Jul 24, 2012 in Blog, Essays, Travel | 2 comments

Three Dogs and a Mexican (Part 1)

 

This is the story of a man you will never know.

This is the story of a man you will never see.

Yet, it’s the story of so many who live amongst us – hidden away within the crevices of all towns and cities, invisible to the contemporary consciousness.

Los Angeles’ arteries are not highways — but rather its aqueducts. They are a meandering maze of concrete vessels bringing life to millions. Mostly unseen and largely ignored, they lie burrowed amid a gigantic quilt of industrial parks and busy freeways choked with traffic and frustration, channeling clear water from the snow-packed High Sierras down to valleys, and ultimately to our sinks, bathtubs, toilets, garden hoses, swimming pools, and restaurants.

There is one man  the who calls the aqueduct his “home.”

This is the story of how I came to stumble upon that man and how I became aware of the numerous challenges he faces each day.  It is the story of an unintended series of personal events which reminds us that compassion and generosity are not measured by volume of deeds but rather by the simplest acts of human kindness.

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