Posts Tagged ‘community’

One Intransigent Eve

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Come what may


The image above was posted onto my Facebook page and a conversation ensued as a result, about helmet usage in water Photography and Cinematography. My esteemed friend and colleague, Steve Fitzpatrick weighed in. Steve had his noggin crushed in a PWC accident by an untrained operator at Tres Palmas in Puerto Rico. He wound up with a Traumatic Brain Injury, as a result. No, if he had been wearing a helmet he still would have acquired TBI.

The cure, what really gives us safe passage (this was discussed in thread) is operating  utilizing your ability as a human being. That is to say, a human is a Spirit, with a Soul, residing for all intents and purposes while on earth, within a body. Being present, spirit, soul and body is what makes us both effective, and at the end of the day helps bring us home to our families.

I am just back from loitering with K 38 Rescue and the Phoenix Patriot Foundation. We got to spend Veterans Day weekend putting on a challenge ride for severely wounded Vets. If you ever get a chance to hang out with a Veteran, I highly recommend it. Try it. You will see what I am talking about.

Tonight I had to do the dread Costco run. We are having some friends over tomorrow for a little get together.

I was in Costco for about 10 minutes, when I had an ominous feeling settle on me. Something was not right. When that happens (It does on somewhat infrequent and rare occasions) I ramp up my situational awareness. I become a predator. You would never know it to look at me. But I am one.

I had the distinct impression that danger was afoot.

My little dinner shopping cruise through the giant warehouse was uneventful. I simply flowed right through it. Chicken, Tri Tip, lots of veggies, coffee, etc. all went into the big white cart. Checkout was a breeze and the teeming crazy crowd I had experienced inside, seemed to have parted like the Red Sea for me.

I headed way the heck out into the back forty, where I had parked my little Mazdaspeed 3, and offloaded the groceries into the hatchback. As I was finishing I noticed that the Tri Tip was MIA. Damn, how could I have lost that? I was planning on making our family recipe Hawaiian teriyaki for everyone.

As I tossed the big 10 pound bag of chicken breasts onto the bags of frozen veggies I saw it. The meat was hiding (always wanted to write that) under the chicken. I checked my receipt. Damn, the checkout people had missed it as well. I had just successfully shoplifted 20 bucks of dead cow from Costco and was way the heck out in the parking lot at night.

I grabbed the bag of meat and receipt in hand jogged back to the entrance, and explained that I needed to pay. I have never stolen anything in my life, and I sure was not about to start now. The Supervisor took me to a register, and thanked me while someone rang me up.

Total detour time maybe 10-15 minutes.

Zipping up the 101 I had dismissed the Costco impressions and wound my way through sedate tempo, but heavy traffic. As I made the turn onto Hwy 33 that winds up to my home and Ojai beyond, I passed a slow moving SUV and accelerated a bit into the decreasing radius turn, just as I have done every day for about 25 years. Headed for the home I share with my wife, Donna.

I saw fresh skid marks leading towards  the concrete A rail barrier that is the N-S traffic divider and slowed a bit, then debris, then cars pulled over. One looked like a black Civic and I remembered that I had been thinking about my son Jon who drives one. A little further down the road, another car, and a motorcycle. Probably more debris strike.

As I pulled into my driveway I called Jon to see what he was up to. I wondered about that Civic I had glimpsed. I think most parents do that. Jon told me about his day up in SB and a mountain bike ride and we laughed about how ridiculously dangerous MTB riding can be. “You know how it is Jon, everything is always okay, till it is not, then blam. Badness.”

And it hit me. I could have been right in the middle of that accident.

10-15 minutes at Costco.

Do the right thing.

You may think no one will ever notice. The world will tell you that. Our Politicians re enforce the message with money and situational ethics.

But somehow, it always matters.

So do you.

I live my life immersed in the Bible. It is not a religious thing. It is just how I refer my understanding of creation to everyday life. I had opportunity to look at this earlier today. It is important for many reasons. Meditating on this mattered to me today.

2 Timothy  Ch 3

Godlessness in the Last Days

1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God

10You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra‚ÄĒwhich persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whoma you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of Godb may be competent, equipped for every good work.

I have written all of this to drive home a point. We live in perilous times. But God is greater. He desires above all things that you prosper and be in health, and that your soul prospers. He is  the proverbial good shepherd. I suggest we all just submit to that. Would make the world a better place. And it is health to our family and community.



Being Clear

Monday, June 25th, 2012

I ran into a friend the other day, who brought up an interesting point about some of my work.

In essence, this is what he said.

“Do you realize that you often leave it to us, to figure out what you are trying to communicate? That can be really frustrating, as so many of us are busy with other things, and we¬† want to get it. But there is no time to track through all the links and study it all out. You may want to consider just telling us the answer.”

It really is a good point that he made. My fiance, Donna says this same thing to me frequently.

My answer typically has been this: “I do it for a reason. Maybe not everyone should ‘get it’. People tend to value things which they earn.”

But it gave me a lot to think about. Friends are good that way. They sharpen us. Because they really do care.

In edit this weekend, as I worked through post production, I came across this image of a teensy wave washing up a sea glass beach.

Colors are significant in that they illustrated different energy signatures. Water, when it is pure, is clear. Yet in the Sea, it contains the genetic signature of all life. It reflects every color in the spectrum. When polluted, it implements a process which eventually will purify it once again. It will go back to being clear to the eye. Yet below the range of human sight, there still is another universe active within it.

Yes, something to think about, for sure.

K38 Rescue: Precept and Example

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
Shawn aboard "Jay"

Shawn aboard "Jay"

I sent Shawn Alladio a note yesterday afternoon. Here it is.

At least TRY to have a good time tonight, will ya? This is important.

Here is her response.

Shut up! LOL


USCG STAN Team training. Columbia River.

USCG STAN Team training. Columbia River.


That pretty much sums up what many of us feel, who are on the back end of rendering service, when accolades come our way.

Shawn was headed to an awards ceremony. I knew about it. Barely. It is not what we talk about. But a friend had reminded me, and I knew that Dr Andrea Neal, was down to see her in the midst of what for all of us, was an impossible week. And we all keep track of each other. Teams and families are like that. And it was Shawn actually, who taught me to always be watching, everything. Apex Predators. It is how anyone who is under her authority is taught to be.

Here is a basic element of K38 philosophy, that is an embed in our psychology. One of thousands. But an important one.

“Think like a victim. But act like a rescuer.” I am going to let that sink in. Volumes have been spoken and written on this.

Learning Flow

Learning Flow


Even now as I type this, I know that Shawn is headed up to Washington for work. I wish I was with her. We were up last year working with the STAN team at  the USCG Base at Tongue Point, and out on the Columbia River Bar. I liked it, and the Advance Helo Rescue Swimmer guys. It was good to us all, the time together.

Shawn Alladio, Serious instructions with K38 Mavericks Team

Shawn Alladio, Serious instructions with K38 Mavericks Team

I appreciate that Shawn invited me into her world so many years ago. With all the controversy of late, regarding the marginalization of women, and commentary surrounding a radio personality, who intentionally verbally degraded a female Law student on air, and a bunch of decrepit, corrupt politicians doing what they do, I was a bit taken aback, and had to figure out what the uproar was about.

I have an entirely different baseline about service, and women.

I have never had an issue placing myself under the command of a woman. Maybe because I have been under Shawn’s for so long, and her’s is efficient. So well run in fact, that she somehow finds herself in the unenviable process of having to deal with accolades from time to time. We ALL hate them. Any of us in service positions do them to serve. Though gratitude is great. (It is wonderful being appreciated) What we all aspire to do, is to educate, inspire and push OTHERS forward.

Here is the tricky part. When one leads by both precept and example, people lock onto the example first, and precept last. That is why frequently, our culture lends itself to the development of a cult of personality. But leaders, real ones, (politicians by their job description, are not leaders per se) know to actively resist iconization.

Precept and Example

Precept and Example


It weakens your team. You want a strong team, a vital community, that by it’s diversity and understanding and respect of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, you may grow. That is our precept. Get it?

I learned a heck of a lot as a professional athlete (what I was, prior to being a businessman and a photographer-film maker). If one wants to be successful, you hone your strengths, refine those, but you train your weaknesses. Weakness is what kills your performance, and jeopardizes your goals long term. Shawn and I have been discussing this. I know she is writing on the subject. I look forward to the read.

Onboard Instruction

Onboard Instruction

In recent years, K38 Rescue, headed by Shawn Alladio, and a global collective of Rescue Professionals  trained by her, has raised a standard that did not formerly exist. This standard follows the design evolutionary process of the Personal Watercraft, PWC, or RWC (Rescue Watercraft), as we are now beginning to call these boats. A new generation of craft is about to come into our watery arena.

Shawn has applied her company assets as a civilian contractor, and as what I would call a Patriot, thrown everything into training with various branches of our Military and aiding in the development of the usage of the RWC in Military Rescue and various other ops. In a world full of bullshit artists who try to attach themselves and brand by association with the elite of our armed services who are water based, Shawn refuses to talk about it.

So I am.


Because Shawn by her service, has literally changed the course of History, in the usage of the personal watercraft for Rescue, and developed a detailed training modus that builds warriors out of boys who just liked fast toys. I know. I am one of them. Her understanding of, and education on Rescue theory, can revolutionize a life.

Shawn Alladio, Colombia River Bar

Shawn Alladio, Colombia River Bar

It has made a huge difference in mine. I have learned how to better, do no harm, as I go forward into a production. For eight plus years she has tolerated me, my lens and my Hawaiian hard headedness. I think she sort of fixed me. I needed that. I became a Rescue Boat Operator.  Never my plan, it is just what occurred over the years. I highly recommend it, in spite of the boot camp nature and long cold wet nights K38 training involves. In fact, after awhile you really begin to look forward to dark and inclement conditions. Tougher. More challenge.

Training is Living, Living is Training

Training is Living, Living is Training

So last night, this is what happened.

Shawn received an award, presented by the NSBC. Shawn Alladio was inducted into the National Safe Boating Council Hall of Fame on March 7th 2012. To illustrate how remarkable this is, understand that much older men with decades at the helm of other types of craft under their belts, would be typical inductees. Shawn, a female, and private contractor, and a PWC proponent, was being congratulated and honored on her command and the success of her vision. Important thing.

In her world, there really is no such thing as equality. Equality will drown and kill you. It is all about service and strength.

Here is the K38 Rescue blog. She is a member of NASBLA, and a woman whose love of the Sea and Ocean experiences are vast. I am really grateful for what she has done for my Community, the tribe of people who live in and around the water. The skills she mentors  in not only save lives, but enable us to set higher standards, in all that we do.

Headed down to Camp Pendleton

Headed down to Camp Pendleton


The only real reward for that, is in seeing others thrive, and coming home at the end of the day, to those who love us. But no matter how hard we train or how diligent we are, each of us acknowledges that it is grace that leads us home. I know someone who regularly falls asleep to this song.  The source of Grace is praise. I use it a lot. We all should.

Golden Reward

Golden Reward

Living Bali

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Contained within the concept of life,  if one examines the word itself, the thing (noun) is not really what one may assume. A look at the origins of the word, takes you back to a Germanic root, which actually means leave, or more to the point: to remain. Taken yet to a more finite point of purpose in definition, to live, is to OCCUPY, a space, time and place. In living, we fill a space with our heart, mind and spirit.

Here is the story of the Bali Nine.  A group of individuals cut off by country, and set adrift in a waking dream that was an interminable journey towards a new death.



Joanna Witt is a Canadian. Sort of. Married to a Balinese man for many years, she and her growing team of collaborators and artisans have become sort of the ‚Äúit‚ÄĚ suppliers of Silver artisanship in Ubud, Bali. She is one of Donna’s go to people, and watching the two of them creating together is very inspiring. Joanna and Ketut (her talented business partner and husband, with whom she was eying a marital separation) set a very high bar in the practice of the craft and art. They also run silver-smithing workshops for¬† tourists and other interested people.

So in the midst of a pending large shift in her marriage,  while raising two children, opening new stores, and I am sure, trying to figure out what the future may look like, Joanna found herself drawn into the prison which housed the cast off souls of the Bali Nine.

She and Nyoman, one of Studio Perak’s lead artisans, took a good look around and decided to throw these people a life line. Maybe they might grab ahold…. They called the endeavor which features a unique collection of works fashioned by members of the Bali Nine,  the Hope Project. You can find the collection at Studio Perak locations on Bali.

I understand a bit about prison life. As a young Bible student, I got to go into one of the Federal Penitentiaries a few times with a man who had a prison ministry. It was a great lesson in serving. I would bring surfing and ocean video and tales, and hang with the inmates and talk about what may lie ahead and how to grab the lifeline. We would just be there, a break from the routine and a window to a free life.

As Donna and I sat in one of Joanna’s shops and recorded the story, her account communicated the utter despair she found. I understood exactly what that meant.

In the struggle of building and tutoring these people in silversmithing on a weekly basis, she did something very important. Joanna and Nyoman put souls back into motion.

The significance of that is something which makes my eyes tear up. It is kind, brave, and all manner of strong. It is living.

On Bali, life is Art. My friend, Joe Cardella has a saying: Art Saves Lives.

Yes indeed, it certainly does.

The gallery below is what life looks like here for Donna and I right now, as we steadily meet and engage as many people as possible. Much to do, and we only get to live here for a heartbeat. But we occupy, thanks to these people and the grace of this place, this community.

‚ÄúOnward‚Ä̬† Joe Cardella


Monday, September 19th, 2011
Ventura's Western Gate

Ventura's Western Gate


catalyst |ňąkatl-ist|
a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.
‚ÄĘ figurative a person or thing that precipitates an event : the governor’s speech acted as a catalyst for debate.
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: from catalysis , on the pattern of analyst.


As I stood next to a wheelchair with reclining back, which was now the principal means of conveyance for Mamie Cohen, I sort of found myself laughing a bit inside.

Today, (Monday) is her Birthday. She is 89 years old and lives at Samarkand in Santa Barbara, a beautiful and well run retirement home that offers the type of care she requires.

As I gazed at the woman who I have become acquainted with and affectionate for,¬† I realized that my girlfriend Donna’s Grandmother had undergone quite a transformation in these past few years. She looked beautiful and at peace. The best I have seen her appear, as if she had grown younger. The image before me made me wonder, but I already knew that inside, Mamie had changed. Her disposition was a new one to me.

Last week at an Art Show-Luau at the Stoneworks Gallery in Ventura, Donna told me how one of the dancers, a muscular tatooed man, had come up to her at the event, and in full wardrobe, said these words: “I know you! You are Mamie Cohen’s grand daughter. You need to come see her more often!”¬† Turns out he is one of her care givers. I had not recognized him as he coaxed Michele Chapin and others, into a dance on stage. I had been too busy laughing as I was required to race from one thing to another in what was possibly one of the most rewarding, and hectic weekends of my Photography career.¬† (More on that in an upcoming series of three blog posts).

Donna told me that he and Mamie had taken to watching football together. Now that was¬† a shocker. Mamie had been quite an Artist when she was younger. I actually have one of her paintings, a beautiful seascape of Baker Beach and the Golden Gate, in Donna and I’s home. Thinking of her watching football with a Hawaiian dancer was simultaneously incongruous and hilarious.

Michele Chapin and the Dancer

Michele Chapin and the Dancer

As the Birthday party ended at the Crane home in Montecito, Mamie turned happily to Donna and I after two choruses of Happy Birthday, and said something that made me grin: “You know? I really think I am beginning to like football quite a bit”

We seldom ever realize the affect our sharing and kindness has on others. But in this case it was an abject lesson to me of how one man, and in turn many people within a  Community, could be tremendous catalysts for healing and restoration.

As the ladies who run the Easy Lift bus came to take Mamie and her wheelchair back to Samarkand, I realized that I had needed that Birthday experience. It was an abject lesson. Everybody does indeed, matter.

Amber Dreams

Amber Dreams

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.