A LEGO Brickumentary Inspires

I bought A LEGO Brickumentary on Google Play so I could share it with my colleagues. We are looking for a way to educate the public about the proposed Delta tunnel project. This documentary inspired me to think of ways we could engage the public using LEGO bricks to build models of the tunnel boring machines and other project features.

I would be surprised if you did not find some LEGO applications for something in your life. This witty and whimsical documentary shows you the full range of possibilities and invites you to push the boundaries even further. 

You can rent it on Google Play for $6.99 or buy it for $14.99. If you have a Child, Teen or Adult Fan of LEGO in your household, then you should watch this film together. If you are already a LEGO builder then you will want to see this brickumentary and let your imagination run amok.

Just beware. You will experience some serious LEGO envy.

Read Ross Poldark, Watch Poldark on PBS.org

Aidan Turner Poldark.jpg

I missed the first Poldark BBC production and was not sure if I would watch this one. But 5 minutes in and I was hooked. Aiden Turner is certainly the primary reason. Easy on the eyes with a wide range of emotion. He is mesmerizing--even when he is not swinging a scythe. 

I am miserable when the Masterpiece series is spread out over several weeks. In college I got hooked on the first BBC production of Pride and Prejudice and I went to the USC college library and checked out P&P. I read the book as quickly as possible to know the ending. Within a few weeks I read all of Jane Austen. Similarly I ordered the first two of Winston Graham's books in the Poldark series. 

Ross Poldark is the source material for the television production Poldark. I ordered the book from my neighborhood store Time Tested Books. I devoured it over the weekend. I must say that I like the Ross in the book better than the Heathcliff inspired television version. Ross in the book laughed and smiled more. 

Then I watched episode 3 and my objections dissolved. Aiden Turner is just so wonderful to watch. There are also many of my favorite stock British actors giving their usual strong performances.

The second book is Demelza for Ross' wife ne kitchen wench.  I skimmed it as it will be the basis of season 2 and I will reread it when the next installment of Poldark comes out from Masterpiece. I must say I much prefer Winston Graham's writing style to Diana Gabaldan's Outlander series. I also prefer the more PG-13 Masterpiece presentation to STARZ soft porn.

Final note: the podcast Satellite Sisters does a super fun recap of Poldark each Tuesday, which they call "Pol Dark and Handsome." Please listen in a place where you can laugh out loud.

Love & Mercy

In the last few days I have watched two movies about musical creative geniuses struggling with mental illness. They both were creating music and struggling with bipolar disorder or something similar in the 1960s and 70s. It is intense to watch someone struggling with an undiagnosed illness, self medicating and being manipulated by other people. 

The first is the feature film Love & Mercy about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. The second was a Netflix original documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? about Nina Simone. 

Thankfully we have advanced in the treatments available and our understanding of mental illness in the last 40 years. We still have a long way to go, especially to remove the stigma. For example, it is frustrating that when someone is having a breakdown and you call 9-1-1, dispatch send a policeman to take the person to jail not an ambulance to take the person to the hospital.

Not every creative genius is mentally ill and not every mentally ill person is a creative genius, yet there is some connection--some gateway that is left open. 

It helped me appreciate the Beach Boys' music in a new way. And after a week of tumultuous lows and highs of shootings and Supreme Court decisions and funerals, it was healing to listen to Love and Mercy by Brian Wilson:

  1. I was sittin' in a crummy movie with my hands on my chin
    Oh the violence that occurs seems like we never win

    Love and mercy that's what you need tonight
    So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

    I was lyin' in my room and the news came on T.V.
    A lotta people out there hurtin' and it really scares me

    Love and mercy that's what you need tonight
    So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

    I was standin' in a bar and watchin' all the people there
    Oh the lonliness in this world well it's just not fair


    Hey love and mercy that's what you need tonight
    So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

    Love and mercy that's what you need tonight

What Are You Reading?

I have been on a book buying splurge since my recent visit to Powell's. I have read quite a few non-fiction and fiction books and yet I still have piles all around my computer. I am doing my best to pass books I have finished to others who will enjoy them or to the used bookstore. 

At the same time, I sent a copy of You're The Best by the Satellite Sisters to my satellite sister Carole. Surprise! She had the same idea and she sent me a copy! Very fun. 

I just finished Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace.  I write more about this on Leader's Compass blog. I recommend this for people who are interested in how to create positive work cultures, and for anyone who enjoys Pixar animated movies, so that is everyone. 

I completed the fourth Mary Russell mystery, so number 5 O Jerusalem is next by Laurie R. King. I also have read more than half of Nadia Bolz-Weber's Accidental Saints. I really appreciate this perspective on following Christ. 

I am also enjoying more poetry, especially Billy Collins.

I also like gifting books. I am on my way to a baby shower and it is the Chinese Year of the Monkey, so I am giving the new mom Curious George and other monkey related books.

What are you reading? What have you given as a gift?

Haunted by The Goldfinch

Confession time: I have paused on page 561 of 771 (US Paperback by Back Bay Books) of Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch beause I am emotionally spent. I have been on a hell of a ride with Theo Decker, aka Potter. He was dealt a shitty hand in life, and stripped of responsible adults, he has few role models to help him make good choices to turn things around. And the trauma of surviving a terrorist bomb barricades his feelings behind a variety of defenses. 

In the 200 remaining pages I suspect we are going to hurtle to a dramatic climax. I trust the author to tell a good story--she's earned my respect on that score. However, I do not trust she will deliver a happy ending. So I am on so on edge I have to put the book down and listen to some podcasts instead of reading.

Theo is also an addict and I am trying to kick my diet Coke addiction. Sadly his lapses give my saboteurs ammunition. I have to remind myself, "Theo is fictional and his choice to continue to take pills have nothing to do with me!" I have to hush the whiney voice in my head demanding a large diet Coke from McDonalds. 

Finally, it is Father's Day, which I have done my best to ignore since I lost track of where or what my Dad is up to (his choice for over two decades.) This year it has been particularly depressing. Reading about Theo's effed up Dad ought to make me feel a little less alone. Perhaps. Instead it reminds me of the void and this void is full of sadness. 

P.S. Finally I screwed up my courage and finished the story. It was very satisfying and I am glad I did. I also googled "The Goldfinch" and delighted to find there is a real painting

New Web Site and Blog Platform for On Your Radar Media

I am excited to take On Your Radar Media Company to the next level. I moved the blog to a new website on SquareSpace that will allow me to offer free publications (in PDF form) and e-books eventually. 

You can link to all of my blogs: Adventures of American Julie, Bay Delta Tourist, and this one. 

My website was designed and built by Scout & Feather. Sarah Dolislager did a beautiful job of combining my photographs with her hand lettering.

Subscribe to the blog so you do not miss a single post.


Tracks Movie Adaptation: 30 years in the making

"It seems to me the Universe gave us three things to make life bearable: hope, jokes, and dogs. But the greatest of these gifts is dogs." Robyn Davidson in Tracks (the movie)

I first read Robyn Davidson's book Tracks as a paperback around 1984. I found it unfathomable in parts. I yearned for adventure but her adventure was extreme. The environment, and the solitude were all beyond my imagination. I saw a preview for the movie and wondered why it had never been made a movie before now. Maybe it needed the actress Mia Wasikowska to come along.

The obvious comparisons are to Cheryl Strayed's book and movie adaptation Wild. Just comparing the two movies, I prefer Tracks. It is much more respectful of the wilderness as another character in the adventure. Maybe too it was camels and dog that make it more accessible.

It is now available to view on Netflix and I am so glad I did!

Robyn Davidson and movie poster for Tracks

A little more like Juliette

Cairo Time

When I was in the CTI Co-Active Leadership program we did an exercise created by Henry House where we typed one another by our dominant energy type. We all have these energies: charm, sex, beauty, danger, humor, eccentric, and intelligence. One is generally strongest and we lead best when we lead from this energy type. First we went through a list of words and determined as a group those that most applied to one another. Capable was the word that got the most votes for me. I was not surprised. It is one of my strengths and a stumbling block when working with others. Eventually I was typed as intelligence energy with beauty as a secondary type.

The second part surprised me. Beauty energy is not about outer physical beauty. It has more to do with attributes that draw people toward you and may be expressed as queenly or remote or ethereal or down-to-earth. My beauty energy is more earthy.

It has been about 5 years since my leadership training and I am still working out how to optimize my energy type and lean in on my beauty energy.

Cairo chess

Recently I rewatched Cairo Time on Netflix. The heroine's name is Juliette and she is strong and beautiful and graceful and smart. Patricia Clarkson's portrayal of Juliette epitomizes beauty energy. And as I watched it for a second time that week, I thought I want to be more like Juliette.

Cinderella Returns

Little Mermaid

I am so glad I raised my children in the 1990s when there were not as many really crappy movies targeting kids as the audience. I have a son and a daughter and on both of their accounts I am glad that the Disney heroines were not yet all princesses all the time. We had Ariel the little mermaid, and Mulan. Even Pocahontas was more empowered and inspired than poor little Cinderella. I went to see the new live action version of Cinderella with my friend Stephanie. It was entertaining to see how they made the mice seem real and created the CGI castle. The moralizing is poured on pretty thick so we are supposed to credit Cinderella attracting the prince--not just with incredible beauty, and a great dress and shoes--but with her kindness and courage. Right. All in all she is a passive heroine. (I liked Drew Barrymore's version better.)


You can really see the divide in our culture. On the one hand you have all these little girls with princess gear and a steady diet of Disney maidens. And then we have kick-ass heroines like Katniss in The Hunger Games, albeit in a dystopian world.


As I rode my bicycle back from the downtown theater I pondered how much power I give the Cinderella story in my life. I like to think I have outgrown its appeal. My romantic sensibilities can still be moved by the idea of rescue even though I do not need rescuing.

I just hope that by the time my grandchildren are born we will have moved on to a better narrative for all.

Woman in Gold Lingers in my Imagination

Painting by Gustav Klimt

Yesterday I went to the movies in the late afternoon (I love being a consultant!) to see Woman in Gold. Helen Mirren stars as Mrs. Maria Altman with Ryan Reynolds in this true story of a woman forced to flee her homeland after the Nazi's were welcomed with open arms by the Austrians. Her family's belongings were stolen including the wonderful painting by Gustav Klimt popularly known as the Woman in Gold.

The performances were spot on. The actors were familiar mainly from BBC dramas. The director did a good job of giving us flashbacks that illuminated the depth of family love and their place in Vienna's society without going on too long and becoming a documentary. I especially like how we saw the same episode from Maria's point of view but each time telling another aspect of the story--just the way memory works when we return to them. Ryan Reynolds did a great job of playing a very smart but awkward young man who discovers his big heart and passion as he evolves in his role as Maria's lawyer.

This movie was so much more emotionally resonant than the trailer suggests it will be. I dreamed about the story last night and continue to return to the story in my mind today. I recommend this very good film.


Desperately Seeking Focus: Or Going Bat*h%! Crazy!

I moved this month. Just about 15 miles from West Davis to Midtown Sacramento and yet my mental maps are are jumbled and my routines disrupted. It is good to shake it up and I like it except when I am shaken! I have not written much in 3 weeks and everyday I say, "Today is going to be a productive day." Except that it is has not been. I do not have a writing block so much as a loss of concentration.

For example, there are lots of things to write about if one pays attention. Just in the last 3 days I had a serious of bat encounters. First at a meeting, this interloper thought he would participate in our discussions of the Yolo Bypass.

acob Katz caught the bat in his hat and then probably scared the bat by bringing it in to show us.

Then I noticed the title of the new detective mystery I am reading is The Bat by Jo Nesbo. He is an Oslo police detective but this murder takes place in Sydney.

Read about Jo Nesbo's first Harry Hole novel set in Sydney on Adventures of American Julie.

The third bat point is from my dog Lulu. She made two new friends at the outskirts of the farmer's market in our new neighborhood. She won over the affections of Dory and Batman, two dachshund hounds. Batman is a very handsome dog.

This illustrates the main thing about writing: the discipline comes first and then the art. From discipline flows art or at least the opportunity for art. Glad to be back in the writing chair.

You can read more about the Yolo Basin Foundation's bat walks and talks in the Yolo Bypass on Bay Delta Tourist.

You can read more about Jo Nesbo's book and Sydney, Australia on Adventures of American Julie.

World Domination Summit Tickets On Sale: Final Round March 18

You do not want to miss the opportunity to attend the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland Oregon this July 9-13. The final round of tickets go on sale March 18 at 9 a.m. PST. For more information:  http://chrisguillebeau.com/wds-2015-tickets-on-sale-soon/ I will be attending for the first time. I bought my tickets in October when the second round went on sale. The first round were for WDS Alumni. I am looking forward to some serious learning and some silly fun. It is part of my personal development plan for 2015.

Check out this video for some high energy inspiration:


Download your Free Guide to Otago Central Rail Trail!

At last! I am pleased to share the first publication from On Your Radar Media Company, "A Cycling Adventure: Otago Central Rail Trail." It is available as a downloadable PDF here.

The Otago Central Rail Trail is a terrific, accessible adventure on the South Island of New Zealand. You can bike or walk, and this guide gives you all the information you need to plan your own adventure.

It will hopefully be the first of many On Your Radar Media Company cycling and other travel publications. Let me know what you think of the format and if you have any questions I did not answer.

Author JA Pieper on Otago Central Rail Trail

A True Love Story: Eleanor & Park

Terrific novel by Rainbow Rowell

I hate to even mention 50 Shades of something. The media seems to find the movie premiere so titillating. Television, radio and newspapers are falling over themselves to find some way to titter over the movie and its tie ins. I have no plan to see the movie, even though I read the books at the suggestion of a friend who called the trilogy a story of redemption. When you read you can tone down your mental images of the racier parts of the story, but with a movie you are captive to one interpretation. Sometimes, as with Harry Potter film adaptations, the movies match or exceed expectations for bringing the fantasy to life. In the case of 50 Shades the reviews (including one from a friend) it seems that the fantasy is more nightmare.

Meanwhile I just devoured a novel, Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell. This novel illuminates the process of falling in real love. It is not categorized as Young Adult fiction, though when you buy it Amazon suggests you may also like books by John Green (best known for The Fault in Our Stars) whose books are generally found on Young Adult fiction shelves. The main characters Park and Eleanor are teenagers. The novel captures the emotions and thrill of first love. I like how the author has the characters study Romeo and Juliet in English class so she can contrast the superficial love between Shakespeare's young lovers with the deeper soul connection between Park and Eleanor. I could not help but contrast it with the twisted love in 50 Shades.

I also like how Rainbow Rowell portrays domestic violence and the vulnerability of children after divorce without becoming too graphic. When a mystery solves a murder without the gruesome CSI type details and with a focus on relationships it is called a "cozy" in the publishing world. Eleanor & Park is the cozy equivalent in adult fiction.

I finished the book yesterday and I still find myself thinking about the structure of the novel, the themes and the story. Eleanor & Park is wonderful and if you want to read about real romance in a story with substance, I recommend you read this book.

Oh the Glory of Selma!

The movie Selma is a must see. The theme song “Glory” by John Legend and Common is a must listen.

I just returned from watching the movie Selma with my friend Petrea. Coincidentally we had agreed to read The Warmth of Other Suns about the great migration of Black Americans to the north and west to escape the violence of Jim Crow. Then we scheduled our girls night out to see Selma and we had an urgency to finish this terrific non-fiction book.

Isabel Wilkerson’s wonderful account of three individuals who amplified the experience of 6 million Americans fleeing an intolerable situation, sometimes leaving everything behind, to seek freedom and opportunity for a better life. They often met the same racism though less formal. It helped us understand the climate of fear that Black Americans in Selma faced as they asserted their right to vote.

I braced myself for what I…


Grantchester Thrills

James Norton and Robson Green play  Rev. Sidney Chambers amateur sleuth  and police detective, respectively

Grantchester on PBS Mystery is so much fun to watch. I love the casting. I love the time period (195Os). I love the black lab puppy Dickens.

So inspired by the first episode, I ordered the book it is based on James Runcie's cozy mystery novel, The Shadow of Death. I am enjoying the novel just as much. (Now I have read all three books and give them all a thumbs up!)

Noticed one irritating discrepancy between the book and the television script, the victim in episode 1 was an Ulsterman and they had him drinking Jameson whiskey. Whereas the book got it right: he drank Bushmills.

Episode 2 was just as strong, introducing more entertaining characters and deepening others. I am thrilled to report there are a total of 6 episodes to enjoy. And three books by James Runcie.

Rob Bell's Podcast Inspires Sometimes

Rob Bell

Rob Bell

I started listening to Rob Bell's podcast in January. It is hit and miss. Sometimes I find myself tuning it out as Rob gabs on and on. He is best when he interviews someone. The guests are from varied perspectives--entertainment, theology, art, and more.

I am listening to his April 25, 2016* podcast with Krista Tippett. I have featured her on this blog before because I love her podcast On Being. She has a new book, Becoming Wise. I have ordered it but I have not read her book yet. She has a new podcast to accompany it. Both of her podcasts are available on Stitcher. 

I have only found Rob Bell's RobCast on https://robbell.com. Sometimes I am frustrated listening to it because Rob Bell sometimes gets in the way of the guest, or goes on and on about himself. I guess a lot of people like him so much, they like these episodes. I find them annoying and find Rob Bell comes off as precocious. 

He is best when he interviews Elizabeth Gilbert--except for the excess giggling. The interview with Krista Tippett is solid. Look at the guests on the website and dive into the one that looks most promising to you.

*I realize this appears as though I am writing about the future. This blog was actually completed in April 2016 but I cannot figure out how to change the publication date! Uffda SquareSpace.

Happy Penguin Awareness Day!

Fiordland Crested PenguinIt is Penguin AWARENESS Day not Penguin APPRECIATION Day. Fiordland Crested Penguin

Because man is doing a lot of unhelpful stuff threatening penguins.

Fiordland Crested Penguin

Melting ice and overfishing in Antarctica is crashing the food web the penguins depend upon. For specifics from an eye-witness, read Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica by Fen Montaigne.

Fiordland Crested Penguin

People are doing a lot of good stuff to protect their habitat and make it to another generation. Like Dr. McSweeney in New Zealand.

Beach without penguin

Be aware. Do good stuff before they are gone.

This post "Happy Penguin Awareness Day!" is featured on blogs associated with On Your Radar Media Company.

What will you be reading in 2015?


I went to the movies with my friend Petrea and she presented me with my Christmas gift and a challenge. She gave me a list of 30 books to read to "understand the world" from Vox. She emphasized TO UNDERSTAND THE WORLD. It is almost magical the way books can illuminate and inform. Anyone who reads avidly knows you cannot remain the same after reading a powerfully written book. This list is entirely non-fiction,  We agreed to read Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns and discuss it. Then we will select another one. We are both very busy, and we both read to relax. So we will see how it goes. We are not committing to read the entire list.

If you want to read any or all of the books on the list TO UNDERSTAND THE WORLD, then here are Vox's recommendations:

  • Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marr
  • The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, T.R. Reid
  • And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts
  • The Gift, Lewis Hyatt
  • The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, Richard Dawkins
  • Social Democratic America, Lana Kentworthy
  • Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky
  • Gang of Five, Nina Easton
  • The Art of Political Murder, Francisco Goldman
  • Longitude, Davis Sobel
  • The Design of Everyday Things, Donald A. Norman
  • Bad Pharma, Ben Goldacre
  • Rise of the Warrior Cop, Radley Balko
  • Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding--and How We Can Improve the World Even More, Charles Kenny
  • Marvel Comic: the Untold Story, Sean Howe
  • The Teacher Wars, Dana Goldstein
  • Out of the Vinyl Deeps, Ellen Willis
  • City: Urbanism and Its End, Douglas Rae
  • The Cult of Pharmacology, Richard DeGrandpre
  • The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson
  • The Triumph of Politics, David Stockman
  • The Human Nature of Playwriting, Samson Raphaelson
  • Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
  • What would Jesus Deconstruct? John D. Caputo
  • Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner
  • The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2013 Presidential Election, John Sides and Lynn Vavreck
  • The History of White People, Nell Irvin Painter
  • The Practice of Everyday Life, Michel de Certeau
  • Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak, Edited by Smith Magazine

Is it me, or does this list seem American-centric for an understanding of the WORLD? What would you add to our potential reading list?

What is the best book, new or old, you read in 2014?

by Sonali Deraniyagala

This question was posted on Twitter and 14 different authors responded. I had not read any of their books, so I pulled out my two journals from this year and looked at the list of books I read. I keep track because I have a memory like a sieve and sometimes I can remember the contents but not the author or title. It is my cheat sheet.

I read many memoirs. I read my favorite of the year in January. Sonali Deraniyagala's account of the tsunami that took her family earned these comments: "WOW! Such courage." The book is Wave and it is a relatively quick read. Today is the 10 anniversary of the Asian tsunami, so go to your local independent bookstore and buy it and read. It will also clarify what is important in your life before 2015.

Best fiction novel was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This was a book I traded for on my Tour de France adventure. I loved it and passed it on to Grace Julie. When the ebola crisis hit I felt a connection to the people suffering in Africa that I might not have felt except for reading this novel. This may sound silly unless you are an avid novel reader. A good novel creates sympathies where none existed before--for me an interest and care for the people of Nigeria.


All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque was the best older book I have read this year and part of my reading list for the World War I anniversary. Every time there is a news story on the anniversary I think about this book. It is so profound and so beautifully written. What is friendship? Why war? What does it mean to be an adult?

What is the best book, new or old, you read in 2014?