Hidden Gems in Southern California

Many tourists flock to well-known destinations in Southern California like San Diego, Disneyland, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. These are all great places to visit, but if you’re looking for somewhere different that’s a bit off the radar, check out the following incredible destinations:

The Channell Islands

My husband and I have lived in California most our lives, but somehow missed these spectacular islands that are classified as one of the U.S. National Parks. After seeing some stunning photos on the Internet, we took a short boat ride to Anacapa Island from Oxnard as part of a weekend anniversary trip.

If you decide to go, be prepared and bring supplies. This trip is for adventurous people in good physical shape. You will need to climb 157 stairs to the top of this rugged little island where there is no food, services, water, or flushing toilets. Now, I HATE outhouses, but I’m telling you – the views of the rocky shoreline, massive cliffs, and jagged peaks were worth it. You can easily hike around the rim of the island in just hours with Inspiration Point a grand reward for your efforts.

We visited in June when bursts of bright wildflowers covered the small island and thousands of adorable baby sea gulls were to be found around every corner. Just beware of their protective mamas who will swoop at your head if you get too close.

We returned a couple of years later and visited the larger Santa Cruz Island for an exciting kayak tour of the historic sea caves. On the boat ride there we saw a whale and two large schools of dolphins. The waters can be rough at certain points, but the caves were amazing. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Some people consider these islands desolate, but if you have an adventurous spirit and love nature, the Channell Islands are considered the Galápagos of North America.

The Huntington Botanical Gardens

This is yet another stunning place that we failed to visit for decades. Located in Pasadena, the magnificent estate is home to more than a dozen spectacular gardens spread across 120 acres. Hard to say which garden is the most dazzling, but the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the California Garden are a few of my favorites.

We didn’t even get a chance to check out the art galleries. The Huntington Art Gallery, houses 18th- and 19th-century British paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, and includes the famous Blue Boy. And to my shame as a writer, we did not visit The Huntington Library itself, one of the largest and most complete research libraries in the United States.

Next time.

Ventura County Wine Trail

Napa may get all the attention as wine country in California, but my husband and I enjoyed sipping our way through the coastal rolling hills near the seaside town of Ventura. We visited two of the nearly 20 wineries and tasting rooms.

You can book one of the many wine tours offered. However, we decided to get a map and explore on our own. Beginning in Ventura at the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 101, we drove up Highway 33 toward Ojai.

Surprises await on this somewhat lonely but charming road – from the “USA’s Smallest Post Office” to the last place anyone saw James Dean alive. Our favorite find was Old Creek Winery which felt like returning to a simpler place and time where friendly folk and dogs welcomed us. We enjoyed our purchased bottle of wine and a picnic outside on tables enjoying the Americana view.

By the way, both Ojai and Ventura are worthwhile stops with charming inns, luxurious spas, and bed & breakfasts along with a wide array of outdoor activities. In the summer time, the Ventura Harbor Village is a hubbub of activity with festivals and live music on the weekends.

Laguna Beach

This charming beach town is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. With over 20 different scenic coves, this beach area offers everything from surfing, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, kayaking, and whale watching excursions.

Just beware, the surf can be rough in places. As a teenager, I decided to body surf despite the churning waters and wiped out on a massive wave (think Beach Boys’ song: Heheheheheheee wipe oooout!). Actually, I blame the Beach Boys for this entire mishap since they went and romanticized this whole surfer chick thing with songs I grew up on like Surfer Girl. SO their fault.

However, the scenery can’t be beat. Add ultra-chic restaurants and shops and one-of-a-kind art galleries and you get the picture. There’s even a Baby Boomer Club with Saturday Night dances. Every summer, they host the Laguna Woodstock where baby boomers party like its 1969.

Heisler Park is a good place to start, located just north of the main beach, with an easy half-mile stroll along a paved path with spectacular views of the coastline and the soothing sound of crashing waves. You can take one of the paths to the beaches and tide pools. Benches, picnic tables, and barbecues abound where you can enjoy the magnificent views. Hubby and I had a picnic on one of the grass areas and it was perfect!

Treasure Island Park is another great spot, located on the grounds of the five-star Montage Laguna Beach, where the truly rich stay. Exquisitely landscaped, several lookout benches line the easy-to-walk winding path. Stairways and ramps lead you down to the beach, where you can walk through a beautiful rock archway during low tide, find a spot in the sand for sunbathing, and a large tide pool. In addition, there is plenty of grass areas for a picnic. I’d suggest bringing some wine and cheese to catch a romantic sunset.

Big Bear Lake

I live in the desert, so nearby Big Bear is a great mountain escape with its gorgeous lake and pristine forests. Boating, fishing, and hiking are just some of the activities in this small, laid-back village.

Last summer, my husband and I cycled around the lake, enjoyed a picnic, zipped down an alpine slide, drove go-karts with speeds up to 30 m.p.h., and took a ride on the scenic sky chair for terrific views. After watching people take the chair lifts to mountain bike down the trails, we put this on our to-do list for next time.

For the adventurous at heart, parasailing and ziplining are also available.

El Matador Beach

Looking for a spectacular shoreline with white sands, towering cliffs, crashing waves, and craggy rock formations in a semi-hidden location?

Look no further than El Matador, located north of Malibu off the winding Pacific Coast Highway. It’s easy to miss the small, brown sign pointing toward the small parking lot at the trail-head, so watch carefully between Broad Beach and Decker Canyon Roads. Once you find it, be prepared to hike down a 150-foot bluff with the help of some steep stairs.

Not for small children or those who are physically challenged, but if you can make it down the steps you’ll be treated with breathtaking views. The locals know about this beach and you may see some photo shoots taking place – we did!

There is blissfully little to do on this small but glorious stretch of beach, so bring a picnic lunch or some wine and find a hidden nook to enjoy an incredibly romantic setting.

Redondo Beach

By now, you’ve probably noticed that my husband and I are beach bums. We found this beach on accident while looking for a nearby place to stay the night before flying out of LAX the next morning.

The Redondo Pier is a landmark with panoramic ocean views and water activities that include harbor cruises, seasonal whale watching, kayaks, paddleboards, and pedal boats. Truth be known, we didn’t try any of these out, but we loved the views from Tony’s on the Pier where we enjoyed Happy Hour!

The pier is also home to a 16-foot great white shark affectionately known as Georgette, on display in a large tank at Shark Attack on the Pier. If you have grandchildren with you or are young at heart, you may enjoy the semi-submersible yellow submarine (darn, now I’ve got the Beatles song stuck in my head) for underwater viewing of the local sea life.

Sure beats staying at an airport hotel if you’re flying to or from Los Angeles.

Catalina Island

This island is more well-known than some of my previous recommendations, but a sentimental favorite. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there 40 years ago and have returned several times. This is a small, quaint island, with no stoplights or fast food restaurants. A typical traffic jam involves two golf carts and a bicycle built for two.

On our honeymoon, we blissfully rode bikes around Avalon, went horseback riding, toured the famous casino, and sunbathed on the small beach. We also took a bus to Two Harbors, the only other village on Catalina Island. Snorkeling, parasailing, fishing, glass bottom boat rides, paddleboarding, Segway tours, golfing, and hiking are other popular activities.

Decades later, we sailed our boat to the island from Long Beach – which turned out to be one wild ride. My husband and grown children returned again for our open-water dives to become scuba-certified amid the famous kelp forests surrounded by the bright orange Garibaldi fish. Next time we visit, I want to try the new zip-line that’s 600 feet above sea level with one run that is 1,100 feet long with speeds up to 30 m.p.h. Wheee!

As you can tell, Southern California has so many great places to visit, it’s impossible to list them all. But hopefully I’ve given you some ideas to get you started!

Sailing on Water Is Now an Unforgettable Experience

Travelling has become one of the most sought after mode of relaxation for people with stressful jobs and a way to leave the humdrum behind. Travelling is also a hobby enjoyed by many, after all the thrill of visiting new places and experiencing new cultures can be very enriching. But traveling usually involves air, rail and road transport, which can be repetitive and even taxing, as one needs to plan the entire itinerary from reaching the destination to staying and touring the place etc. But what if all these can be done in a single go by just choosing a cruise and book the tickets.

Cruise trips are adventurous and enthralling with many activities planned along with meals, sightseeing, and entertainment. Board the cruise and it is done, it is a hotel which moves from destination to destination all the while you can enjoy the water and great food.


Passengers can be a bit bothered about a vacation on the water and staying on a cruise for a long time. But cruise holidays have some excitements too like:

  • One need to unpack only once, as the hotel is traveling with the traveler and there is no need to carry ones luggage from place to place.
  • Everything is planned beforehand and there will be no confusion regarding dining, relaxation, activities, sightseeing and even spa and games.
  • As the cruise sail from port to port, one can experience a different culture and places in a single trip.
  • Cruise ships go everywhere, whether small port cities or small islands spread across the ocean. Cruises travel through seas, lakes, rivers and the experiences that come with them are diverse and fun.
  • Food, accommodation, amenities etc are all consistent, though the quality may differ from cruise to cruise. Usually, food changes when cruise moves from one exotic port to another and everything is already paid for.
  • Passengers get to meet some new and interesting people, all the while traveling to different destinations.
  • And one of the best perks is that one gets to stay near water and enjoy the vast and ethereal beauty of open waters.


Though cruise vacations are always a great affair and one can enjoy it to the fullest. But there can be some things that can irk the passengers a bit like:

  • Accommodations can be a bit crampy and small; one should always check the square footage before booking.
  • Food and entertainment can get a bit boring at times; so find your own entertainment on board.
  • Daily safety drills can get repetitive, but it’s for safety so one can go with it.
  • Excursions can get expensive at times; so hire a taxi and explore on your own.
  • Some cruises can charge extra for many facilities; better to go through the details before booking.

These setbacks can be very insignificant when it comes to a great experience of a luxurious cruise vacation.


One should always go through all the basics and details before planning a trip on the water. Things to pay attention to are:

  • Room and accommodation.
  • Itineraries.
  • Food and dining facilities.
  • Trip length.
  • The type of people who will be on board.
  • Guest to staff ratio.
  • On-board payments and extra charges.
  • Ports which will be visited.

From many cruise line options to choose from, one can select a cruise keeping in mind their needs, affordability, and places they want to visit.

Eighty Ways to Make Money From the Pokemon Go Craze

Pokémon Go has exploded to become a certified cultural phenomenon. Every businessman, entrepreneur and game designer is watching Pokémon Go with a mixture of excitement and envy. Smart entrepreneurs and businessmen understand that although it appears to be a simple combination of graphics and gameplay, the underlying design is quite complex and well thought out. There is nothing trivial or silly about it. It is the most successful App launch ever seen. The most savvy entrepreneurs and businessmen have quickly realized there are ways to make money from this craze, even if you are not John Hanke (CEO of Niantic and the creator of Pokémon Go,) or Nintendo.

First the basics:

* Pokémon Go tracks player’s location, which forces people to get off your couch, out of their house, and travel to specific locations called PokéStops and Gyms. Good news, those Pokémon players (called Trainers) are real world consumers, and the PokéStops and Gyms are real world destinations.

* Demographic studies show that most Pokémon Trainers/players are 18-35, and cut across all ethnic boundaries. Although there are a significant number of kids playing (and mothers who may be customers,) it means that most of your local Trainer/players have disposable income available.

* A Pokémon Gym is a real world location where Trainers/players must physically travel to, in order to battle other Pokémon. If your store is near a Pokémon Gym, then Trainers/players will be coming to your doorstop. If you have one near you, you probably already know it.

* A PokéStop is a place where Trainers/players can get free in-game tools used in gameplay. Again, if you have one near you, you probably already know it. A PokéStop can also be assigned a Pokémon Lure which attract Pokémon creatures, which in turn attract additional Trainers/players, also known as potential customers. Retailers, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops have all taken advantage of nearby PokéStops. See examples #14, and #18 below.

* The Trainer/players hunt and capture Pokémon of differing rarity and value. The Pokémon have names and unique identities. That opens up possibilities for small business owners such as the bar that offered specific bounties. See example #17 below.

* Once a Player/trainer achieves Level 5, they must choose loyalty to one of three factions, Team Mystic, color Blue; Team Instinct, color Yellow; or Team Valor, color Red. As a businessman, your potential customer has therefore aligned themselves with a color and a team. That means your yellow merchandise suddenly has greater appeal to members of Team Instinct, your red items to Team Valor, and so on.

* Pokémon Go is a battery hog. Trainers/players are constantly draining their phones. This is a problem for them, and an opportunity for you.

* There are Twitter hashtags and Facebook groups for Pokémon fanatics. This means there are very affordable methods to get your message directly to local targeted Trainers/players.

* Lastly, Pokémon Go has been having problems with their servers. Too many people want to play, and Pokémon’s servers have crashed which has led to frustration and thousands of internet memes. Like the game itself, the frustration can be the source of money making ideas. See the T-shirt example #45 below.

So with that out of the way, here are some ways that people and corporations are making money from the Pokémon Go craze. Look down this list. With some imagination, there are opportunities for you too.

1. The first and most obvious way to make money on this craze is to invest in Nintendo. The smartest investors put their money in before it hit big, but nothing breeds success like success. So who knows what will come next.

2. If you own a Restaurant, a Pub, Coffee Shop, Snack Shop, Ice Cream Shop, etc. and you are located near a PokéStop, place a Lure at the PokéStop and place a sign inviting customers to sit and play. If you don’t know how to place a Lure, walk outside, find someone staring intently at their phone, and ask them.

3. Do you have a Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Snack Shop, Ice Cream Shop close to a PokéStop, BUT NOT CLOSE ENOUGH? Station a server at the PokéStop with food samples and discount coupons.

4. Do you have a Restaurant Pub Coffee Shop, Snack Shop, Ice Cream Shop close to a PokéStop, but not close enough, AND is the PokéStop Lure free? Place Lure at PokéStop. Set up a small sign saying you have placed the Lure (build awareness and gratitude for your shop, and increase your “cool” factor,) and that Lures placed at the top of every hour. Invite players to come have a cup of coffee while they wait. Great way to show your support and to build loyalty. This worked wonderfully for a tavern in Fairbanks Alaska. Yes they have Pokémon there too.

5. But what if you have a Restaurant Pub Coffee Shop, Snack Shop, Ice Cream Shop close to a PokéStop, but not close enough, and OTHER STORES are placing Lures? Place a sign at the PokéStop inviting customers to your shop and offer a free phone charging station. Pokémon Go players are often surprised at how quickly their phone battery drains and will flock to you. Be sure to have some fast charge stations for the Galaxy 6 and 7.

6. You don’t need a restaurant. If you own a Retail Store near a PokéStop, you can take advantage as well. Trainers/players do more than drink coffee. They purchase things too. You can place a Lure at the PokéStop and then set up a sign inviting new customers to shop.

7. Pub Crawls are already popping up around Portland Oregon and other cities. Sponsor one if you are a bar or pub.

8. Yelp is already making money from the Pokémon craze. They have installed a filter so players know which stores are near PokéStops. Don’t have one near you? Niantic has a support form on their website that you can use to request a PokéStop or Gym.

9. Are you an expert player? Do you at least know how to set up a Lure? Many shop owners do not know anything about Pokémon Go, and may be technophobic. Offer to set it up for them and monitor it during store hours. I have heard rates running from $50/day to $300/day in service fees.

10. You can do the same for locations that are not located near you if you use a rooted phone and a GPS spoofer. I personally DO NOT endorse this idea. You run the risk of being banned, but the how-to information is already online so I would be remiss if I didn’t list it here.

11. PokéStops include some apartment complexes. Are you the rental agent for an apartment complex? Be sure to place a Lure at your PokéStop.

12. Are you an artist? Offer to paint window art featuring Pokémon in stores and restaurants near PokéStops.

13. El Cid in Silver Lake California, has a Pokémon Gym, and a weekday Pokémon happy hour. Why not you?

14. L’inizio Italian Restaurant in Long Island City, New York, increased sales 75% over a recent weekend by investing $10 in Lures at a PokéStop at their restaurant.

15. The US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama offers Group discounts to individual Pokémon players who show the App when purchasing tickets. They advertise 22 locations, including three gyms, and suggest that visitors wander and appreciate all the museum has to offer while they are hunting Pokémon.

16. One Pizza parlor offered discounts and free slices based on a player’s level. They quickly learned that freebies were not a good idea.

17. Pints & Pixels in Huntsville Alabama has offered bounties for specific Pokémon caught nearby.

18. AFK Tavern in Everett Washington, a must-go pub for any serious gamer or geek, is the site of a Pokémon Gym. They offer a discount if you are the leader of the gym. They warn against false claims by boasting that 98% of their wait staff plays. Hmmm, what is wrong with the other 2%

19. You can do the same discount as AFK Tavern even if there is no gym on your site. Simply choose a gym nearby and place a sign at the gym advertising your discount.

20. It may be obvious, but if you have a Food truck, park it at a PokéStop and place a Lure.

21. If you have a portable Barista cart, do the same thing.

22. Are you teaching your kids about setting up a lemonade stand? Help them set up at a PokéStop with a Lure.

23. Capitalize on the biggest complaint players have about the game, and set up a mobile charging station near a PokéStop. Best Buy and other outlets sell extra-long chagrining cords so you can set one end in your cigarette lighter and the other can reach out the window. Charge in 15 minute increments.

24. Eggs need to hatch. In order to hatch the player must walk two, five, or ten kilometers based on the type of egg. If you are normally moving a lot for work or pleasure, you can offer to carry and nurse someone’s egg. How? First there has to be security and trust between the hatcher and the player since you will need to sign into their account, but if you can get past that, you can simply sign in on your phone and start moving.

25. Joggers, you can do the same. Golfers too.

26. Do you ride your bicycle to work or for fun? This is a great opportunity for you too.

27. Hey bike messengers, do this to make extra money. Just stay under 10mph or your movement won’t count.

28. Skateboarders, why not place your Craigslist add right now. You could be hatching eggs by tonight.

29. Pokémon are distributed around the world based in some part by location and environment. Water type Pokémon are often found near water. Similarly, other types of Pokémon are often found in other environments. Offer an Uber type service to drive car less players to other areas of town. The going rate seems to be around $20/hr per person.

30. San Francisco Travel is touting their unique Pokémon areas with detailed directions for Pokémon in parks and famous locations.

31. Do you give already tours of your city? You can add Pokémon Tours as a specialty.

32. Do you know the best spots for Pokémon that other people are not aware of? Just like fishing guides who bring tourists to the best places for Tarpon, you can be a Pokémon Guide and bring people to secret PokéStops with rare Pokémon.

33. Start a Pokémon party bus. That could be wild!

34. Be a Remote Pokémon hunter. Someone from Kansas may want to see if San Diego has Pokémon rarely seen in the Midwest. Trainer/players on Reddit are already bemoaning the difference in Pokémon spawning habits between NYC and Chicago. Similar to nursing eggs, a safe exchange of information is required, but it is certainly not rocket science. Be aware, this is not specifically addressed in the terms of agreement, but if it’s a violation, you may be banned.

35. Target is selling Pokémon T-shirts. They have the license and the products. Now Pokémon is trendy again.

36. Kohl’s is selling Pokémon Backpacks.

37. Hot Topic, the bastion of pop culture merchandise, is selling T-shirts, socks, underwear, earrings, and many other items.

38. Fathead.com is selling Pokémon Wall decals.

39. Party City is selling Pokémon piñatas. There will be a lot of Pokémon parties this summer.

40. According to Gizmodo, McDonalds has a deal that will set up every McDonalds as either a PokéStop or Pokémon Gym. Supposedly the partnership will soon make its debut in Japan. Makes sense since most McDonald’s have Wi-Fi and Nintendo and McDonald’s have a history of doing promotions together.

41. With McDonald’s as a proof-of-concept, other sponsorships may be on the way.

42. Expect sponsored specialty items such as rare Pokémon as well.

43. Are you older than 30? Were you a Pikachu fan when you were a child? Sell your old childhood Pokémon stuff on eBay to a new younger audience. Special editions and unopened games seem to bring in the best prices.

44. If you are artistic, you can design and sell red, yellow, and blue t-shirts for teams Valor, Mystic, and Instinct. Design them, and then use a print on demand service such as Café Press for production and fulfilment.

45. Or, take advantage of the sever issues and design t-shirts with slogans such as “I’m only here because the Pokémon server is down.”

46. If you are a bit naughty, you can take your T-Shirt design a step further with slogans such as “Stop playing with your balls!” and “I wish my husband went down as often as the Pokémon servers.”

47. Alibaba.com has dozens of backpack manufacturers with small MOQ (minimum order quantity) which you can use to create Team Valor, Instinct, or Mystic backpacks.

48. Alibaba.com has manufacturers of water bottles at very low prices and available in Yellow, Red, and Blue. Do you sense an opportunity?

49. Alibaba.com also has manufacturers of Figurines. You can set up an Amazon shop and be a specialty Pokémon store.

50. Many Trainers/players are spending more time in the sun than they realize. Alibaba.com has manufacturers of inexpensive promotional item priced sunscreen available in Red, Yellow, and Blue. Sell them or give them away with your store name on them.

51. Are you a bakery or cake decorator? Bake and sell Pokémon themed cakes. Or bake and sell cake pops decorated as Pokémon balls.

52. Can you sew? Make Team Valor, Team Instinct, or Team Mystic bandanas for dogs.

53. Can you knit? Make Pokémon hats.

54. Can you make homemade bath bombs? Pokémon bath bombs would be a hit. Sell them online.

55. Are you a Pokémon intermediate player? Write a How-To guide for beginners. Post it online and sell display ads.

56. Are you a Pokémon expert? Write a strategy guide for experienced players. Post it online and sell display ads.

57. Are you ethically gray? Write a cheating guide. Post it online and sell display ads.

58. Are you good at sewing? Create Pokémon cosplay outfits.

59. Do you own a Barbershop or salon? Offer Pokémon style haircuts.

60. As long as you are already walking for Pokémon Go, talk to your neighbors and offer to be a dog walker.

61. And since you are already walking, and you like dogs, sign up for charity apps like Wooftrax.com. Money is donated to animal shelters for every mile you walk, and you are already walking to catch Pokémon and hatch eggs.

62. Another way to take advantage of walking is to register for Wegolook.com. This is a service where you visually “look” at things on behalf of remote buyers. Check it out.

63. Did you love the Ice-cream truck as a kid? Become a mobile retailer and sell Pokémon merchandise at PokéStops. Bring your truck, a display, and Lures. You can even play music. Please tell me that you know that Pikachu song. Make a schedule, and post your schedule ahead of time at each of the stops. Have a friend set Lures 15 minutes before you arrive, then show up with 15 minutes to sell. Time it right and you can easily do 20 stops a day.

64. Alibaba.com has many ball cap manufacturers with small MOQ (minimum order quantity) which you can use to create Team Valor, Instinct, or Mystic caps.

65. Sell Pokémon plush toys (from Alibaba.com) from your mobile store.

66. Sell Pokémon Team themed mobile power banks (from Alibaba.com) from your mobile store. Make your customers happy by pre-charging them.

67. Are you are Retailer too far from a stop? Set up a pop-up shop.

68. Create Pokémon theme birthday parties for kids. Be the one stop shop for moms. You supply everything from paper plates and cake to decorations and party gifts. All with a Pokémon Go theme. Mom just hires you, and you do all the rest.

69. If you are good with coding, pulling data, and API’s, you can put up a site that shows local Pokémon server status and weather reports for people considering venturing out on Pokémon hunts. Monetize it with display ads.

70. Some people are selling their accounts, already leveled up. eBay and Craigslist has postings, with accounts unaffiliated with Teams going for the most. This may violate terms of agreement however, so warning, you may get banned.

71. Be Pikachu at events. You can buy a Pikachu mascot costume for as little as $50.

72. Are you an outdoor personal trainer? Incorporate Pokémon Go into your on-the-go workouts. Pokémon Go has proven the success of gamification of exercise and fitness.

73. Are you an indoor personal trainer? Incorporate Pokémon Go egg hatching into indoor track workouts.

74. Be a 1:1 teacher for new users. Advertise on Craigslist.

75. Do you practice sports medicine? There will be a lot of people walking who have never gotten off their couch before. Advertise to first time Pokémon players.

76. Are you a chiropractor? Same thing goes for you. New clients are out there ready to limp in. Pokémon players are very keyed in to social media.

77. Are you a Physical Therapist? Incorporate Pokémon Go into your rehab routines. Swedish Medical Hospital in Seattle has incorporated Pokémon Go into rehab work for some child burn victims and are thrilled with the response. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan is using Pokémon Go to encourage children to move and bend during Physical Therapy.

78. Do you do foot massage? Set up at PokéStops. You will be heaven sent for many tired Pokémon hunters.

79. Design and sell bumper stickers and window decals for teams Valor, Mystic, and Instinct.

80. Make and sell Pokémon Team badges so team members can find each other at Gyms and Pokestops. Pokémon Trainer/players are making new friends, and being on the same team is a great icebreaker. Help them identify each other with a team badge they can wear.

81. BONUS. Love is in the air and Pikachu is playing cupid. For a small fee, POKEDATES will set you up on dates with other Trainers/players.

Now that you have all these ideas, look for Pokémon groups. Portland is hosting family friendly gathering at a city park with thousands of people indicating they are interested in going. This is a bonanza for anyone selling merchandise. Arrive with a mobile charging station. Tweet about it, message your local Pokémon Facebook groups. Use social media. Buy targeted advertising on Facebook, and use Pokémon as one of your keywords. The phenomenon is real.

Please note: Pokémon, Pokémon Go, PokéStops, Nintendo, Niantic, Pikachu, and all images and characters associated are trademarked and protected property of the original owners. All images and references used is in this article are for editorial purposes only and are not meant to imply permission or authority to use.

Coretta Scott King, a Remarkable Worker for Civil Rights

Main Facts

Coretta Scott King played an important role in the African American Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. She was the spouse of Martin Luther King Junior, the famous civil rights activist. After her husband’s death, she became the leader of the movement and also became involved in the women’s movement.

Studies and Family Life

She was born on April 27th, 1927. She came from Marion, Alabama. She was skilled in singing and violin playing and pursued formal studies in music. She won a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston; this is where she met her future husband. In 1953, Coretta and Martin married and moved to Montgomery, Alabama. Her husband worked as a pastor and she supported him in his work. Their marriage produced four children, who all followed the example of their parents as civil rights activists.

Multifaceted Work

She worked closely with her husband to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Coretta participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. She also worked as a public intermediary and as a go-between for peace and justice organizations. She criticized the sexual discrimination in the civil rights movement and emphasized the contribution of women in it in a 1966 issue of New Lady Magazine.

After her husband’s assassination on April 4th, 1968, Coretta continued her work for the movement. She established the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Its base was Atlanta, Georgia, and she became its president from the beginning until 1995, when her son took over.

Further Contribution

She was a regular article contributor for social topics and from 1980, she became a CNN commentator. During that decade, she also expressed her opposition to apartheid and took part in protests in Washington. She had early voiced her support for gay and lesbian civil rights and called civil rights activists to oppose to any sort of bigotry that sought to strip a large group of people of their dignity in 1988.

Death and Tributes

She had a heart attack and stroke in August 2005 and died on January 30th, 2006 in Mexico. Her memory lives on largely because of her bold work for civil rights in the United States. She also became the recipient of honorary degrees from several educational establishments. In 2007, the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy was founded in Atlanta.

Coretta demonstrated strength and dedication to a cause that was much bigger than herself. She did not waiver in her vision for equality and human rights even after the death of Martin. She continued to write regular articles on social issues and published a syndicated column. Coretta was also behind the 15-year fight to have her husband’s birthday instituted as a national holiday. Her contributions are worthy of recognition.

Wars, Religion, and Peace

The Rev. Bailey Smith, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention said: “With all due respect to those dear people, my friend, God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” The audience responded with enthusiastic applause.

Emerson said: “Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding.”

Robert Kennedy once said: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… those ripples build a current which can sweep down the walls of oppression and resistance.”

It is often believed with suicide bombers that their motivation for going into war is to receive a reward in heaven. But an American, Sergeant Jones, had a different strategy with new recruits. He sold life insurance instead!

It wasn’t long before Captain Smith noticed that Sergeant Jones was having a staggeringly high success-rate, selling insurance to nearly 100% of the recruits he advised. Rather than asking him about this, the Captain stood at the back of the room and listened to Jones’ sales pitch.

Jones explained the basics of GI Insurance to the new recruits, and then said, “If you are killed in a battle and have GI Insurance, the government has to pay $200,000 to your beneficiaries. But, if you don’t have GI insurance and get killed in the battle, the government only has to pay a maximum of $6,000.

“Now,” he concluded, “which group do YOU think they are going to send into battle first?”

Today, I want to look hard at the connection between religion, war and peace. When we look at the reports from Syria, it is so easy to get discouraged, isn’t it? What an incredible mess is there. What a tragedy!

Like you I have witnessed the funerals of our military who have died from roadside bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq; I have seen them come home without arms or legs, or psychologically damaged, suffering from PTSD. Their amazing courage to go on despite all that they have endured is inspiring. I know about the tragedy of families who have lost loved ones, families who have lost father or mother to war, and the little children left alone with only a picture to greet them when they get up each day.

I am aware, as you are, of the suicide rate amongst our veterans. Daily, we see the horrors of war on our television news casts. It affects us all either directly or indirectly.

We also live in a time of unprecedented gun-related violence in America. The President was giving a good bread-and-butter speech for his State of the Union address this week, when suddenly he soared into greatness when he asked Congress to unite to do something about gun violence. He singled out those who had come to the State of the Union from the Sandy Hook massacre and other killings, including Gabby Giffords, who touchingly was trying to clap her hands together but could not. He pleaded for Congress to vote their consciences. I had tears in my eyes.

The very best person I have found to sum up the connection between religions and war is a Quaker scholar, William Frost.

He says that there are things about religions that don’t necessarily cause war but do help to facilitate it.

1. He faults all major religions for having sacred texts that portray violence approvingly, whether done by God or some heroic figure. The war’s success is guaranteed by God, and imitation of that behavior then becomes approved. For instance, when I was a boy I loved the story of David and Goliath. I also thought that Joshua was a good guy when he defeated the natives who already lived in the so called Promised Land. Today, I have other opinions.

2. Religions have rituals or prayers that are supposed to enlist the help of God in war, which teach that those fighting are fighting for a holy cause. Think of prayer before battle. Remember the Crusades, when even children were sent to battle, or even a football game in the NFL where one side prays to defeat the other.

3. If you lose your life in a Holy war, God will compensate you in the next life. Martyrdom is the highest mark of religious devotion, as every suicide bomber knows.

4. Religions teach that their adherents are the chosen ones, with rights and privileges, particularly involving a right to land ownership. And these folks go to war if they feel persecuted, either in the past or present, and are unable to get justice, or if there are enough of them to unify politically into a nation state, they will seek power through war, especially if the land is sacred or a “Promised Land.” Nationalism that is linked to fighting for land and family then becomes a religious duty.

5. Political or spiritual leaders come from an upper class and see in the religious teaching a way to maintain their power. The Queen of England is also head of the Church, the Pope of a nation state.

6. Priests and religious leaders are willing to use secular power to institutionalize or enforce correct doctrine, worship and ethical practices. Think of the Taliban here preventing girls from going to school or proponents of Proposition 8 here in California, which banned gay marriage.

7. States fail to uphold minority rights and give in to majority faith practices that would weaken or remove minority rights. Think here of the American deep south before Martin Luther King, Jr. Or South Africa and Apartheid, which was justified on religious grounds.

8. Different faiths live close to each other, but their teaching and practices are seen to be incompatible. Think here of Northern Ireland, or Israel and Palestine, or Bosnia.

9. A religious group sees its teaching as universal and is therefore intolerant of other perspectives, either in or outside its tradition. Although less so today, this was the history of the Catholic Church for a very long time.

10. A faith’s influence is restricted to the spiritual realm only. Its teachings are considered irrelevant to politics. Therefore, a different value system applies that can go to war if necessary without the interference of the faith group. Think of the established church in Germany, which largely ignored the treatment of the Jews in history or by the Nazis at the time of the Second World War, or people of faith who go to Church on Sundays, mosque on Fridays, or the synagogue on Fridays, and then do whatever they like for the other six days of the week because their faith is compartmentalized.

Whenever we can identify one or more of these links to religion and violence, history tells us that we are on the wrong track. The separation of church and state in America arose to address these problems. Whenever this separation is firmly in place, both religions and the state thrive. When the line gets blurred, violence becomes more likely.

In a famous Armistice Day sermon, Harry Emerson Fosdick, knowing these links to war and religions, said: “I renounce war for its consequences, for the lies it lives on and propagates, for the undying hatred it arouses, for the dictatorships it puts in place of democracy, for the starvation that stalks after it. I renounce war, and never again, directly or indirectly, will I sanction or support another.”

The problem for me in a statement like this is what to do when we are attacked by another nation state? Do we sit by and let it happen? St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and modern proponents of the just war theory teach that ajust war is waged in self-defense, or in defense of another.

In 1993, the U.S. Catholic Conference said: “Force may be used only to correct a grave, public evil, i.e., aggression or massive violation of the basic human rights of whole populations.”


Right intention: Correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention, while material gain or maintaining economies is not.

Probability of success: Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success.

Last resort: Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical.

I am very glad that the Catholic Bishops and others have worked on the ethics of war. Imagine America at war without any ethics at all. You might want to argue that our ethics do not need overhaul. But the alternative to no ethics would be to ignore just war principles, and that would be horrific.

The current debate about drone use is an example. Is it proportionate? Is it used in self defense? Does it avoid, wherever possible, civilian deaths? For today’s wars often kill more civilians than soldiers, which offends just war theory.

In the midst of all of these questions stands one man in particular who is regarded highly by all religious traditions. A prophet to Islam, a rabbi in Judaism who, although rejected for Messiahship, stands as a great ethical teacher; someone who New Age thinking greatly respects; someone who the Buddha would rejoice with in their common ethics; someone whose teachings have been incorporated into Hinduism: Jesus of Nazareth took a different course than all the major religions, including the one that developed from his own teachings. In doing so, he has influenced them all.

He said, “Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. You have learned how it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say this to you: Offer the wicked man no resistance. You have heard in the past; ‘You must love your friends but hate your enemies.’ But I say this to you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you… for your Father in heaven causes the sun to rise on bad men as well as good men, and his rain to fall on the honest and dishonest alike. If you only save your greetings for your friends, are you doing anything exceptional? Never repay evil for evil. Do all you can to live at peace with everyone: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, let him drink… Resist evil, and conquer it with good.”

Now this teaching, considering that it came out of the context of the Middle East, is extraordinary indeed! It cannot be used to justify war, but it does call to peace whoever will hear it. The peace envisioned is personal first, and then can be extrapolated into larger spheres. So does it work on the streets in Oakland? Do guns work on the streets in Oakland?

Interestingly, nonviolence does work. It worked in South Africa. It worked in India with Gandhi, who read from Jesus’ playbook. It worked in America with Martin Luther King, Jr. It is the gold standard still today about how to treat other human beings non violently. It has not been tried in the Middle East.

But does it work in our personal lives, or is it too hard?

Making peace with any enemy is hard work, and sometimes it is simply not possible. But I find that trying to make peace with an enemy is far more enlightened than preserving or escalating conflict, because, if we succeed in making an enemy into our friend, we create holy ground.

Reaching for the enemy has to be done one person at a time, until a tipping point is reached.

In Bogotá in 2001 on Independence Day, The Mennonites, who have particularly embraced the teaching of Jesus on nonviolence, were gathered on a street corner because they had been denied presence near the Congressional Building for their peace protest. They watched the dignitaries drive by in their limos. SUVs stuffed with soldiers drove by. The protestors sang and held periods of silence as tanks began to arrive.

Their message went on: “Peace comes through peacemaking, not war making.”

The soldiers grew more restive. More tanks arrived.

A gentle pastor began to pray, and more riot police walked up to him to create a blockade between him and the crowd who had gathered. He called for justice where injustice reigns, freedom for the oppressed, regard for life over lust for money and power. He prayed for the return of the land to peasants, safety for Colombia’s poor who suffered so much, and wisdom for legislators who had not done justice, loved mercy or walked humbly. He asked the legislators to follow the historical Jesus’ teaching on reconciliation, nonviolence and love. He then started to close in prayer as yet another tank lumbered up.

His wife had all this time been eying one particular policeman whose eyes indicated another reality. Disobeying all the rules of nonviolence she walked up to him, looked him in the eyes, and put her hand gently on his arm. And he whispered, “May God bless you!”

But you say to me, what can Ido to bring about peace?

Bob Filner, a Jew, had been taught by his parents that racism is the number one evil in the world. He was taught that it was his task to combat racism wherever he found it. As a teenager he was drawn to Martin Luther King, Jr., his speeches and writing.

Bob was doing his final exams on Mother’s Day in 1961, and on that day a Greyhound bus had been run off the road and set on fire in Anniston, Alabama, with its Freedom Rider passengers being almost beaten to death. Bob decided that he could make a difference if he, too, became a Freedom Rider. So he finished his exams and then immediately went to Nashville for several days of training in nonviolence.

Then with four others he got on a Greyhound and headed south. Authorities wouldn’t let the bus stop in Alabama, so on they went to Mississippi. In Jackson they were greeted by a jeering crowd of hundreds. The four of them got off the bus to desegregate the Greyhound Bus Lobby, the coffee shop and the restrooms. The police descended and charged them with “inciting a riot” and took them off to the Jackson Jail. They were sentenced to six months and, because all the cells were full, they were sent to occupy death row cells in the Mississippi State Penitentiary.

Most of them served two months before being released on appeal. Many were beaten and subjected to psychological torture.

But they survived with dignity, and their lives were changed forever.

In 1961 hundreds of Freedom Riders were incarcerated. Their actions stirred the conscience of America, and the whole century-old legal structure of segregation came tumbling down. Bob had changed history. One person acting on his conscience is a very powerful force.

The officers who arrested him would have never done so if they had known that he was a Congressman or the Mayor of San Diego. You say, “But in 1961 he was not a Congressman or the Mayor of San Diego.” And that is right. But that is who he actually was just a few years later, so the seeds were all there in 1961 when he was a teenager. The police had no idea who they were holding…

None of us knows what we can do or what we may be called upon to do. But know this: If you want to act on the basis of your personal conscience on any matter to make the world a more peaceful place, you become a force that changes history.

That is what The United Religions Initiative and the Cooperation Circle of The Interfaith Experience are about-one person at a time; for we teach and model unconditional love and building bridges between faiths.

We know that this is likely to be hard, that the road frequently calls us uphill. But also know that history is always on the side of those whose conscience strives to free humanity from its bondage to fear and oppression…

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection… With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan-to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” (Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.)

So be it!