Public art painted from dark, painful experience.

Smears of red, a flag, two faces.
Smears of red, a flag, two faces.

There are three new works of art on display in the breezeway between the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Santa Fe Depot. These pieces concern disturbing emotions felt by combat veterans, and the ongoing battle of many with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I believe–but I’m not certain–that the art you see in these photos was produced by military personnel who participate in the museum’s ArtOASIS program. ArtOASIS was created for PTSD patients in conjunction with Combat Arts, a local organization that provides opportunities for combat troops to express themselves.

These images are raw and painful. They are brutally honest. To paint these dark, secret things requires great personal courage.

Someone walks through the breezeway between MCASD and Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego.
Someone walks through the breezeway between MCASD and Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego.
PTSD. What happens when you get home and realize you will never be this awesome again. Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to the Light.
PTSD. What happens when you get home and realize you will never be this awesome again. Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to the light.
A lone figure lies against the wall of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
A lone figure lies against the wall of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
REAL TALK. Life.
REAL TALK. Life.

I live in downtown San Diego, and walk through the city with my camera. You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter.

Firefighter heroes in a drill downtown.

During my walk this morning through downtown San Diego I saw numerous firefighters and fire engines participating in a Sunday fire drill. It was a simulation of an emergency in a high-rise.

I thought you might enjoy a few photos of these true heroes in action!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Strength and determination in wheelchair rugby.

Today I watched some of the world’s best athletes compete. I headed up to Balboa Park to experience the 28th Annual Best of the West Quad Rugby Tournament in the Municipal Gymnasium. Most people know the sport as wheelchair rugby, or murderball. That last name sounds rather tough, but it’s for a good reason.

The quad rugby players that participated in this tournament are among the best in the world. Some have competed in the Paralympic Games. There were teams from California, Arizona, Texas and Minnesota, and even from London and Australia. The amazing team from Australia was this year’s Best of the West champion.

At the very top level, wheelchair rugby players are unbelievable athletes. They are strong, fast, agile, and can turn and accelerate on a dime. To block opposing players, trap them defensively, or upset an unfolding strategy, players will literally smash their chairs into one another. As if in some sort of crazy demolition derby, the bashing wheelchairs sometimes tip sideways, even turn over. And the players don’t seem fazed in the least. Each is an irresistible force, determined to assist their teammates and find a way through the opposition to score, no matter how.

Here are a few photos that capture a bit of the action.

The composition of one photograph turned out to be exceptionally dynamic, but the image was completely unfocused, so I altered it to appear like a cool oil painting.

You really have to see quad rugby in person to appreciate the heart of these players.

Raw human determination can be unstoppable.

Watching quad rugby is inspirational.

For an explanation of quad rugby, click this photo and it will expand for easy reading.
For an explanation of quad rugby, click this photo and it will expand for easy reading.

The victorious Australian quad rugby team celebrates by joining hands.
The Australian quad rugby team celebrated their championship by forming a circle, joining hands and rocking the gymnasium with a spirited, victorious shout!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Young champions fight childhood cancer!

A huge crowd of families and young heroes converged on Embarcadero Marina Park North for the 2017 Celebration of Champions!
Families, generous supporters, and many young heroes converged on Embarcadero Marina Park North this morning for the 2017 Celebration of Champions!

During my walk along the Embarcadero this morning, I encountered a legion of amazing young heroes! Courageous children who are fighting cancer–and those who have defeated cancer–were gathering with their families for the 2017 Celebration of Champions!

I learned the emotionally moving event is in its 22nd year.  It features young cancer battlers passing a simulated torch, from one hand to the next, as participants run a very short distance. Money raised supports Rady Children’s Hospital’s social, psychological and emotional support programs.

Parents of brave children who lost their battle with cancer also attend the event, in a tribute to loved ones whose smiles and hopeful hearts were in this world too briefly.

Please visit the Celebration of Champions website to learn more–and perhaps provide helping a hand.

Heading to the annual event, which honors young people who fight and have fought childhood cancer.
Folks head to the annual Celebration of Champions event, which honors young people who are fighting and have fought childhood cancer.
A youthful honor guard arrives before the ceremonies begin.
A youthful honor guard arrives before the ceremonies begin.
Later in the day, many young cancer-fighting champions will carry a simulated torch around the grassy park at the edge of beautiful San Diego Bay.
I learned that later in the day, many young cancer-fighting champions would carry a simulated torch around the grassy park at the edge of beautiful San Diego Bay.
Some very young children were excited to be greeted by princesses!
Some very young children were excited to be greeted by princesses!
Young champions would hand off a torch as they completed running a small length of the park's looping walkway.
Young champions would hand off a simulated torch once they finished running a short length of the park’s looping walkway.
Go Champions!
Go Champions!

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WE EMPOWER HER fights domestic violence, sex trafficking.

The generous people of WE EMPOWER HER offer free food to anyone passing by. Their mission is to help create a compassionate world.
The generous people of WE EMPOWER HER offered free food today to anyone passing by. Their mission is to help create a compassionate world.

Please give these good people a moment of your time. I learned about the WE EMPOWER HER effort during my walk this morning along San Diego’s Embarcadero. The organization fights domestic violence and sex trafficking by planting seeds of kindness and compassion in the world. They also offer free mentoring and counseling. As their literature states: You have the Right to be treated with Respect.

Unfortunately, San Diego has a very big human trafficking problem. I suppose it’s our proximity to the world’s busiest border crossing.

The modest event today near Seaport Village had the theme of feeding the hungry. Their Facebook event description states: Let us inspire each other and create a compassionate world.

Sounds wise to me!

Please check out the WE EMPOWER HER Facebook page, and possibly help these people in your own way to do good and help others!

Together we can create a world full of love--a world without violence.
Together we can create a world full of love–a world without violence.
Human generosity, inspiring courage and confidence. The good people of WE EMPOWER HER, setting a wonderful example for us all.
Human generosity, inspiring courage and confidence. The good people of WE EMPOWER HER, setting a wonderful example for us all.

Are you a blogger? Do you want to make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

Courage, wishes and hope on Bankers Hill.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to conquer it.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to conquer it.

Walk up Fifth Avenue in Bankers Hill and you’re likely to see some inspiring chalk art. Words of wisdom prompt those passing by to think about courage, wishes and hope. Here are some photos.

Two of the life affirming messages adorn a community library box located next to the front entrance of a safe haven for the homeless. A brave lion roars nearby. Uptown Safe Haven features transitional housing, supportive services, and hope. It is the project of Episcopal Community Services. The chalk art speaks of their mission.

If you’d like to learn more, or if you’d like to consider volunteering through this program to serve those in need, please click here.

Never stop making wishes. Life affirming chalk art in San Diego's Bankers Hill community.
Never stop making wishes. Life affirming chalk art in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood.
The only thing stronger than fear is hope.
The only thing stronger than fear is hope.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Portraits of political and domestic violence survivors.

People walk through the breezeway between MCASD and the Santa Fe Depot. Three large portraits address the theme of political and domestic violence.
People walk through the breezeway between MCASD and the Santa Fe Depot. Three large portraits address the theme of political and domestic violence.

Unusual, thought-provoking works of art are currently on public display in the outdoor breezeway between the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Santa Fe Depot. I happened to see them the other day while walking through downtown to catch the trolley.

Close family members who have survived domestic and political violence appear in three large photographic portraits. The photos have been boldly augmented with paint to highlight human resilience and courage. According to a nearby description, these works are part of the FOCUS Binational Exhibition and were created by MCASD’s Teen Advisory Group. The artwork reflects an exploration of strategies for coping with violence and trauma.

This thought-provoking work of art suggests an older gentleman has a complex, deeply personal story to be told.
This thought-provoking work of art suggests an older gentleman has a complex, deeply personal story to be told.
A proud portrait augmented with laurels suggests one woman's story ends in triumph.
A proud portrait augmented with laurels suggests one woman’s story ends in triumph.
An arresting work of art glimpsed in downtown San Diego near the Santa Fe Depot. A strong woman rises from the turbulent ocean. Part of MCASD's FOCUS Binational Exhibition.
An arresting work of art glimpsed in downtown San Diego near the Santa Fe Depot. A strong woman rises from the turbulent ocean. Part of MCASD’s FOCUS Binational Exhibition.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Photos of Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Rosecrans.

Flags and flowers are placed where the fallen now rest.
Flags and flowers are placed where the fallen now rest.

Today there was a moving Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. I attended.

Here are some photos. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, located on Point Loma high above the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay, is the final resting place of thousands of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and their families, who served their country with courage and honor. Many who are buried in this hallowed place fought in different conflicts spanning our nation’s history, right up to the present-day War on Terrorism. Because of its amazing natural setting, many say Fort Rosecrans is more beautiful than even Arlington or Normandy. As you can see, it’s a special place.

A Memorial Day rose adorns a solemn grave marker at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
A Memorial Day rose adorns a solemn grave marker at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
American flags at the grave markers around the USS Bennington Monument. The granite obelisk remembers those sailors who lost their lives when the warship's boiler exploded in San Diego Bay.
American flags at the grave markers around the USS Bennington Monument. The granite obelisk remembers those sailors who lost their lives when the warship’s boiler exploded in San Diego Bay in 1905.
Love and respect are shown for those in the military who pledged to protect their countrymen, and defend freedom. They are honored on Memorial Day.
Love and respect are shown for those in the military who pledged to protect their countrymen, and defend freedom. They are honored on Memorial Day.
Walking among silent rows of white. Many gave the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.
Walking among silent rows of white. Many gave the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.
Many old granite markers at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery recall decades and centuries of history.
Many old granite markers at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery recall decades and centuries of history.
In memory of the Mormon Battalion whose members made the longest military march in U.S. history of over 2000 miles from Iowa to San Diego in 1847.
A marker reads: “Lydia Hunter died from complications resulting from the birth of her only child, a son named Diego Hunter, the first American born in San Diego. Diego was born 20 April 1847, Lydia died 6 days later. May we honor her and each of those women who served with the Mormon Battalion.” Members of the Mormon Battalion made the longest military march in U.S. history. They marched over 2000 miles from Iowa to San Diego in 1847.
People assemble in front of the rostrum where the Memorial Day service will be conducted at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
People assemble in front of the rostrum where the Memorial Day service will be conducted at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
People from all walks of life have gathered together to honor those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
People from all walks of life have gathered together to honor those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
While people take their seats before the opening and introduction, Marine Band San Diego provides music.
While people take their seats before the opening and introduction, Marine Band San Diego provides music.
The color guard comes forward. Those attending the ceremony sing the Star Spangled Banner and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
The color guard comes forward. Those attending the ceremony sing the Star Spangled Banner and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Some patriots in the crowd wave small flags.
Some patriots in the crowd wave small flags.
Veterans salute. Respect is shown for the flag.
Veterans salute. Respect is shown for the flag.
The color guard exited along the side where I sat, allowing me to take a couple of good photographs.
The color guard exited along the side where I sat, allowing me to take a couple of good photographs.
Members of a high school ROTC program carry the United States and California flags.
Members of a high school ROTC program carry the United States and California flags.
Folded flags are presented to families of fallen heroes. Everyone watching was very attentive and quiet.
Folded flags are presented to families of fallen heroes. Everyone watching was very attentive and quiet.
An address about different forms of love during Memorial Day. The moving speech was given by Major General O'Donohue of the 1st Marine Division in Camp Pendleton.
An address about different forms of love during Memorial Day. The moving speech was given by Major General O’Donohue of the 1st Marine Division in Camp Pendleton.
Ceremonial wreaths approach the rostrum. Many organizations presented wreaths, including the Knights of Columbus shown here.
Ceremonial wreaths approach the rostrum. Many organizations presented wreaths, including the Knights of Columbus shown here.
Various ceremonial wreaths are displayed in front of the assembled people. Tokens of love, gratitude and respect.
Various ceremonial wreaths are displayed in front of the assembled people. Tokens of love, gratitude and respect.
Finally, taps is played while the cemetery flag is lowered to half staff. Salutes included three rifle volleys, a musket volley, and a cannon.
Finally, taps is played while the cemetery flag is lowered to half staff. Salutes included three rifle volleys, a musket volley, and a cannon.
A bagpiper, after playing Lament for a Soldier, exits across the green grass, where the fallen lie eternally.
A bagpiper, after playing Lament for a Soldier, exits across the green grass, where the fallen lie eternally.
The ceremony is over, and those visiting the cemetery fan out to pay their respects. The Marine Band remained seated for a bit of concluding music.
The ceremony is over, and those visiting the cemetery fan out to pay their respects. The Marine Band remained seated for a bit of concluding music.
A Navy officer walks down a cemetery driveway, which overlooks the channel entrance to San Diego Bay.
A Navy officer walks down a cemetery driveway, which overlooks the channel entrance to San Diego Bay.
Walls around the cemetery contain columbarium niches for cremated remains.
Walls around the cemetery contain columbarium niches for cremated remains.  Naval Air Station North Island and downtown San Diego are visible in the background.
Walking along the columbarium. Its plaques identify loved ones.
Walking along the columbarium. Its plaques identify loved ones.
These two guys had bouquets in their backpacks. They are gazing along the Point Loma peninsula in the direction of Cabrillo National Monument.
These two guys had bouquets in their backpacks. They are gazing along the Point Loma peninsula in the direction of Cabrillo National Monument.
A deeply moving sight. Solemn rows of white on rolling green hills. Volunteers have adorned every grave with an American flag and rose.
A deeply moving sight. Solemn rows of white on rolling green hills. Volunteers have provided every grave with an American flag and rose.
Member of the next generation among those who came before.
Member of the next generation among those who came before.
The living walk thoughtfully through Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
The living walk thoughtfully through Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
More grave markers and a small plaque nearby.
More grave markers and a small plaque nearby.
The markers in this memorial area honor veterans whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science, or cremated and the ashes scattered.
The markers in this memorial area honor veterans whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science, or cremated and the ashes scattered.
After the Memorial Day ceremony, some people linger to view the ceremonial wreaths. The plaque behind the rostrum contains President Lincoln's famed Gettysburg Address.
After the Memorial Day ceremony, some people linger to view the floral tributes and the flag-draped Casket of the Unknown Soldier. The plaque behind the rostrum contains President Lincoln’s famed Gettysburg Address.
And now almost everyone has departed.
And now almost everyone has departed.
Plaque near Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery entrance has lines from The Bivouac of the Dead, a poem by Theodore O'Hara.
Plaque near Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery entrance has lines from The Bivouac of the Dead, a poem by Theodore O’Hara.
The main entrance plaque at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. The flag flies at half staff.
The main entrance plaque at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. The flag flies at half staff.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is also a California Registered Historical Landmark.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is also a California Registered Historical Landmark.
Several monuments near the cemetery entrance memorialize tragic events in U.S. military history, including ships lost in action.
Several monuments near the cemetery entrance memorialize tragic events in U.S. military history, including ships lost in action.
Flags in the breeze. A cloudy day. People atop the hill gaze down at the unseen eternal ocean.
Flags in the breeze. A cloudy day. People atop the hill gaze down at the eternal ocean.
Looking beyond grave markers toward a hazy blue horizon.
Looking beyond grave markers toward a hazy blue horizon.
A beautiful old tree rises from the Earth. Life persists.
A beautiful old tree rises from the Earth. Life persists.
A slow, thoughtful walk.
A slow, thoughtful walk.
Youth replaces a red rose that was blown by the wind to the ground. He doesn't realize that someone is watching.
Youth replaces a red rose that was blown by the wind to the ground. He doesn’t realize that someone is watching.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you like to read short pieces of thought-provoking fiction? You might enjoy checking out Short Stories by Richard.

Firefighting helicopters suck water from San Diego River!

One of the San Diego Fire Department's two firefighting helicopters fills it water tank using a hose lowered into the San Diego River in Mission Valley.
One of the San Diego Fire Department’s two firefighting helicopters fills its water tank using a hose lowered into the San Diego River in Mission Valley.

I was lucky late this afternoon to capture some cool action pics! After work, I was eating at Jack in the Box in Hazard Center when I saw a helicopter swooping rapidly down toward the nearby San Diego River. A hose was dangling underneath, so I knew it was a firefighting helicopter arriving to suck up some river water!

I hurried down to the center of the action to watch and snap a few photographs. It’s the first time I’ve witnessed this activity up close.

Someone on the river path said there was a fire to the northwest in Linda Vista, but I couldn’t see any smoke. I watched five different instances of helicopters filling their tanks, then the action ceased. The fire must’ve been quickly contained.

A wildfire must be nearby because here comes a firefighting helicopter swooping rapidly down over Mission Center Road toward a wide spot in the San Diego River!
A wildfire must be nearby because here comes a firefighting helicopter swooping rapidly down over Mission Center Road and the raised trolley tracks toward a wide spot in the San Diego River!
The chopper slows and carefully makes its descent in order to suck water into its belly tank to eventually drop on a wildfire.
The chopper slows and carefully makes its descent in order to suck water into its belly tank to eventually drop on a wildfire.
The air from the rotor blades causes spray to fly up from the surface of the San Diego River. Several joggers and walkers on the nearby paths stopped to watch.
The air from the rotor blades causes spray to fly up from the surface of the San Diego River. Several joggers and walkers on the nearby paths stopped to watch.
The long hose quickly sucks a good quantity of water from the river. The pilot is highly skilled, hovering the helicopter above the water, steady as a rock.
The long hose quickly sucks a good quantity of water from the river. The pilot is highly skilled, hovering the helicopter close above the water, steady as a rock.
A couple minutes later one of the San Diego County Sheriff's three firefighting helicopters arrives! You can see the external belly tank underneath the chopper's body!
A couple minutes later one of the San Diego County Sheriff’s three firefighting helicopters arrives! You can see the external belly tank underneath the chopper’s body!
This firefighting helicopter got so close to the water I had to hold my breath. These brave hero pilots are amazingly precise.
This firefighting helicopter got so close to the water I had to hold my breath. These brave hero pilots are amazingly precise.
ASTREA is the Sheriff’s Department aviation unit. Up this aircraft goes, quickly swinging overhead and heading to the northwest. Someone thought there was a fire in Linda Vista, but I didn't see any smoke in any direction.
ASTREA is the Sheriff’s Department aviation unit. Up their aircraft goes, quickly swinging overhead and heading to the northwest. Someone thought there was a fire in Linda Vista, but I didn’t see smoke from the bottom of Mission Valley in any direction.
A San Diego Fire Department chopper has sucked up more water from the river and flies again toward the northwest! The fire must have been small, because the action above the river didn't seem to last for more than 15 minutes.
A San Diego Fire Department chopper has sucked up more water from the river and flies in a big hurry again toward the northwest! The fire must have been small, because the action above the river didn’t seem to last for more than 15 minutes.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! Sometimes I randomly stumble upon fascinating, newsworthy events! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Tuna fishermen bronze sculpture and memorial.

Three bronze fishermen on Shelter Island together reel in a huge tuna.
Three bronze fishermen on Shelter Island together reel in a large tuna.

A monumental bronze sculpture in Shoreline Park on Shelter Island has become an iconic image. The Tunaman’s Memorial, by artist Franco Vianello, dedicated in 1988, honors the courage and hard work of generations of tuna fishermen in San Diego. The 9,000 pound sculpture depicts three individuals pole fishing from a boat of the once-large tuna fleet out on the Pacific Ocean. The history of San Diego’s tuna fishing industry contains generations of life stories. These unwritten stories involve fishermen who immigrated from many different nations, including Italy, Portugal and Japan.

One polished side of the sculpture contains names of fishermen who were pioneers in our region, and those who were lost at sea. An inscription reads: Tunaman’s Memorial honoring those that built an industry and remembering those that departed this harbor in the sun and did not return. Anthony Mascarenhas.

The Tunaman's Memorial on Shelter Island is a 7,000 bronze sculpture honoring generations of fishermen.
The Tunaman’s Memorial on Shelter Island is a 9,000 pound bronze sculpture honoring generations of diverse fishermen.
Tuna fishing in local waters was once a major industry in San Diego.
Tuna fishing in local waters was once a major industry in San Diego.
Polished side of Tunaman's Memorial contains names of San Diego fishing pioneers and those who were lost at sea.
Polished side of Tunaman’s Memorial contains names of San Diego fishing pioneers, and those who were lost at sea.
This iconic sight on Shelter Island provides a glimpse back in history, at those in our community who worked the sea.
This iconic sight on Shelter Island provides a glimpse back in history, at those in our community who worked the sea.

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