Saturday, July 18, 2009

The "Q" Word is "Q"

This is written for my good friend, Roberto, Quinones, who I affectionately call "Q." He was a dear friend and colleague who recently passed away at the young age of fifty-two from prostate cancer. I can’t say the letter “q” without thinking about him, so I had to write this in his memory. Below is a picture of Q playing Santa Claus at Clinica del Ninos in Rosarito, Mexico where we go each year to provide a Christmas party for the children. Although a new Santa will fill his spot, no one will really take his place.

Q was a very special person in my life and in every life he encountered. I first met him when he started work at juvenile court with the Alternate Public Defender’s office. He was basically there to take my job away. So you see, it would have been very easy to not like him. But the fact that we all did was an indication of what kind a man he was. He was honest, a straight-shooter, cared deeply about his clients, and believed strongly in the system. Not exactly how most people would describe an attorney. In addition, he was a wonderful father, had a great sense of humor, loved life, and always put everyone else’s needs in front of his own. I know people tend to say nice things about people after they have passed away, but Q was the kind of guy who people said nice things about when he was alive.

So once again “Q” came through for me…providing me with a word for the hardest letter in the alphabet. Thank you.

The "P" Word is Party

Ever since I blogged the "N" word, I've had many questions about my launch party for THE ADVOCATE, so I'm writing a bit more about that event. It was in a "p" word...phenomenal. Everyone was so gracious and made me feel so wonderful. I couldn't have done it, however, without the help of my family and friends. We had a barbeque (thank you, David) and book signing. The weather was too hot, but other than that, everything was perfect.

Over a hundred people attended the launch party, many of them not local. My dear friend, Marilee, came the furthest, all the way from Kalispell, Montana. What a treat that was. My sister, Madeline, flew in from Idaho, and my niece, Kimmie, from Washington. I had friends and relatives from San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Kern Counties. Friends arrived from all different walks and times of my life. Some were from my teaching days, others from when I attended law school and then practiced law, from my private businesses, and even from high school (now that goes way back).

The Advocate sales were over one hundred...not bad for my first. And if you missed the west coast launch and you live by that other ocean...come see me in Kennebunk, Maine at Kennebooks Bookstore on July 30th.

Thank you all for attending, for buying my book, and for making me feel like a celebrity. That part was a hoot!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The "O" Word--Okapi

The okapi has been one of my favorite zoo animals since I discovered it some years ago at the San Diego Zoo. I was fascinated by its reddish, dark velvety fur, which I later discovered was oily and hleped repel water in its natural habitat, the Ituri Rainforest. The stripes on the back end of the okapi make it look like it may be some sort of zebra, but in fact it is a member of the giraffe family. The body shape is similar to a giraffe, but with a much shorter neck. However, the okapi does have a long, flexible, blue tongue used to capture the leaves from trees like the giraffe. It is the only mammal that can lick its own ears. Now that's impressive.

The okapi is a beautiful animal. You really have to see one live to appreciate it. There are approximately 10 to 20 thousand left in the wild and only about 40 zoos or institutions house them in captivity. They're not listed as endangered, but are threatened by pouching and habitat destruction.

Okapis are essentially solitary, coming together only to breed. Hey, I've been accused of that...well, not the breeding part, just the solitary part. No wonder I'm fascinated with these animals. Anyway, they're not social animals preferring to live in large, secluded areas (probably so they can write their novels.)

This is not an animal I was aware of growing up. It was, in fact, unknown to the western world until the 20th century, but has been depicted in carvings for almost 2,500 years in old Persia. Ancient carved images of the okapi have also been discovered in Egypt establishing the okapi was known to the ancient Egyptians. It was known for years as the "African unicorn."

How many of you have seen an okapi? What's your favorite zoo animal?