Photos of Massing of the Colors in San Diego.

The 62nd Annual Massing of the Colors and Service of Remembrance was held this morning at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. The stirring, patriotic event is organized by the San Diego Chapter of The Military of the World Wars. Its purpose is to honor the flag and support and remember those who have served our country and defended liberty, including those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The parade of color guards this year included about 30 groups, from a variety of local organizations representing ordinary Americans, the military, veterans, law enforcement, JROTC and ROTC, and scouting.

The annual Massing of the Colors has been held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for 62 years without interruption. During a speech, special recognition was given to the Daughters of the American Revolution, who have faithfully participated in this patriotic celebration every single year.

When I arrived at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, a practice run was just finishing up. After a short wait, the parade of color guards commenced.

I will let my photographs tell the story.

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Solve Who, world’s first interactive crime scene simulator!

A crime scene at Solve Who titled Murder at PROstate Farm. A team of detectives gathers clues, watches video interrogations of three suspects, then deliberates to determine who the murderer is.
A crime scene at Solve Who titled Murder at PROstate Farm. A team of detectives gathers clues, watches video interrogations of three suspects, then attempts to determine who the murderer is.

A unique and very cool attraction recently opened in downtown San Diego. It’s called Solve Who!

Neither an escape room, nor murder mystery dinner theatre, Solve Who offers would-be detectives something far more immersive and realistic. Solve Who is the world’s first interactive crime scene simulator!

Enter the front door of Solve Who and you suddenly become a detective investigating a detailed crime scene using your wits, a notepad and pen, and a variety of forensic tools. Groups of up to ten people operate as a team, collecting clues, watching short video interrogations of three suspects, then deliberating to determine the identity of the murderer.

Questions one might ask during the investigation include: Was the crime premeditated? Who had the motive to commit murder? Was there a break-in? Was there a struggle? What was the murder weapon? Are any fingerprints that you find with an ultraviolet light relevant? What is the meaning of a series of emails that periodically appear on one computer? Is any object at the crime scene out of place?

I was given a little bit of a preview this evening and I must say this entertainment concept is absolutely unique and brilliant! The super friendly guys behind Solve Who have worked hard to make the experience very realistic–they have even worked with law enforcement experts to ensure this fully interactive crime scene simulator is very close to authentic. With some crazy humor injected for fun!

It seems to me that Solve Who would be an ideal place for corporate team building, having a night out with friends, or for simply meeting new people. Right now they offer one scenario titled Murder at PROstate Farm, with three new, completely unique crime scenes to appear in the future. Solve Who will also offer beer and wine to participants in the near future.

Check out the Solve Who website here and perhaps make a reservation. You’ll be one of very few people in the entire world to have experienced a realistic interactive crime scene simulator!

A brief video introduction explains how each team of detectives can work together to logically deduce which suspect is guilty of murder.
A brief video introduction explains how each team of detectives can work together to logically deduce which suspect is guilty of murder.
The funny, satirical brochure of PROstate Farm. The insurance agent was murdered, and his three employees are suspects.
The funny, satirical brochure of PROstate Farm. The insurance agent was murdered, and his three employees are suspects.
Inside the mock insurance office. PROstate Farm has policies to protect the insured against icebergs, apocalypse, zombies, talking apes and much more.
Inside the mock insurance office. PROstate Farm has policies to protect the insured against icebergs, apocalypse, zombies, talking apes and much more.
Some of the tools used by participants at Solve Who include forensic lights, magnifying lenses, string for trajectory pinpointing, and more.
Tools used by participants at Solve Who include forensic lights, magnifying lenses, string for trajectory pinpointing, evidence markers, and more.
The crime scene includes many clues--a few are critically important. Deductive reasoning and acute observation are required to identify the murderer.
The crime scene includes many clues–a few are critically important. Deductive reasoning and acute observation are required to identify the murderer.
An overturned chair and a big blood stain on the carpet.
An overturned chair and a big blood stain on the carpet.
Blood splattered on the wall!
Blood splattered on the wall!
Detectives at Solve Who will watch as three suspects are interrogated. It is important to listen to words and watch body language.
Detectives at Solve Who will watch as three suspects are interrogated. It is important to listen to words and watch body language.
Solve Who is a very cool new attraction in San Diego, located at 1570 Fifth Avenue. It is the world's first interactive crime scene simulator!
Solve Who is a very cool new attraction in San Diego, located downtown at 1570 Fifth Avenue. It is the world’s first interactive crime scene simulator!

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!

First Responders to be honored in Little Italy.

First Responders in San Diego will be celebrated this Saturday, August 4th in Little Italy. The event will be held in Piazza Della Famiglia beginning at 5pm, and a special concert at 6pm will feature Marine Band San Diego.

This morning as I walked through Little Italy, I happened to see several banners stretched above the piazza honoring our community’s First Responders, including our Lifeguards, Sheriff, Firefighters and Police.

A big thank you to all of our heroes!

Real-life superheroes help San Diego homeless!

Visitor to San Diego Comic-Con takes a photo with The Nyght, patrol leader of the Xtreme Justice League, a group of real superheroes in San Diego.
Visitor to San Diego Comic-Con takes a photo with The Nyght, patrol leader of the Xtreme Justice League, a group of real superheroes in San Diego.

Today I was walking around outside San Diego Comic-Con when I met a real-life superhero. His name is The Nyght. He’s a member of the Xtreme Justice League.

The Xtreme Justice League began in San Diego, but now has superheroes operating around the country. Their primary mission is to help local communities stay safe.

These volunteer superheroes, wearing outlandish protective garb, are highly trained for what they do. They conduct safety patrols in rough neighborhoods and offer a variety of public safety services. They report dangerous activity that they observe to law enforcement. They strive to provide positive role models for at-risk youth. They oppose vigilantism–they believe in compassion, nonviolence, volunteerism and heroism.

They also work to help the homeless.

Tomorrow–Saturday July 21, 2018–members of Xtreme Justice League from all around the country will converge in Balboa Park’s Pepper Grove to help San Diego’s homeless. Their event is from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm. If you’d like to help them out, they accept donations of items such as individual tissue packs, socks, sunglasses, water bottles, sunscreen and sleeping bags.

You can learn more about who the Xtreme Justice League is, and what they do by visiting their website here!

The Xtreme Justice League works to increase community safety. They encourage residents to become involved in helping the homeless and reducing crime.
The Xtreme Justice League works to increase community safety. They encourage residents to become involved in helping the homeless and reducing crime. Be your own hero!
The Nyght tells me a little about the Xtreme Justice League, and how they and their members from around the country will help the homeless this Saturday in Balboa Park.
The Nyght tells me a little about the Xtreme Justice League, and how they and their members from around the country will help the homeless this Saturday in Balboa Park.

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!

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8 Ways to Fight Human Trafficking in San Diego.

Rachel Thompson of the Junior League San Diego introduces District Attorney Summer Stephan during the Fifth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally.
Rachel Thompson of the Junior League San Diego introduces District Attorney Summer Stephan during the Fifth Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally.

Today I walked up to Balboa Park to experience the 5th Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Rally. The event was organized by the Junior League of San Diego, and brought together most of the key players in San Diego’s fight against human trafficking.

While legislative progress has been made in the fight, the terrible problem of human trafficking persists. I learned San Diego sees far too much of this type of crime because of our city’s proximity to the Mexican border and its status as a popular tourist destination.

Many tables were set up at the event containing literature about how concerned citizens can take action. Everyone was encouraged to spread the word and increase awareness and involvement throughout the community.

I thought my blog could possibly provide a bit of help. Here are eight things that you can do to learn about and fight against human trafficking in San Diego:

1. Learn how to recognize victims of human trafficking. The following three photos contain vital information that you can use and share.

A flyer from the Office for Victims of Crime provides key information on human trafficking, including warning signs. (Please click this image to enlarge for easy reading.)
A flyer from the Office for Victims of Crime provides key information on human trafficking, including warning signs. (Please click this image to enlarge for easy reading.)
Information from Homeland Security's Blue Campaign explains the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling.
Information from Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign explains the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling.
A checklist of human trafficking indicators. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
A checklist of human trafficking indicators. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

2. Support the Alabaster Jar Project. This organization empowers survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. They provide a safe living environment and transitional housing, plus an array of support services and educational opportunities. Located in San Diego’s North County.

3. Become involved with CAT, or Churches Against Trafficking, a network of churches in San Diego that together provide service, resources and prayer to help solve a difficult problem in our community.

Churches Against Trafficking is a network of churches that provide service, resources and prayer in San Diego against human trafficking.
Churches Against Trafficking is a network of churches that have joined together to provide service, resources and prayer in San Diego against human trafficking.

4. Support the Lynch Foundation For Children. They are working to prevent human trafficking through education. They also assist in locating and recovering runaway children, and support victims’ services.

5. Learn about and possibly volunteer with the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (BSCC), an alliance of government and nonprofit agencies in the United States and Latin America convened along the U.S.-Mexico Border Region to combat slavery and human trafficking. Their 24-hour Emergency Trafficking Hotline is 619-666-2757. The hotline serves victims of trafficking, community clinics and doctors, social service agencies, concerned citizens and law enforcement personnel.

6. Visit the Sex Trafficking Resource Center page of the San Diego Public Library website and learn more facts about this difficult but very important subject. The web page includes a variety of resources, including helpful links specifically for youth.

7. Visit the San Diego District Attorney’s human trafficking online page. It’s a resource that contains a good deal of vital information, including Signs of Human Trafficking, What You Can Do, Community Resources and Safety Tips.

The FBI had literature available concerning human trafficking. The phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888.
During the event, the FBI offered literature concerning human trafficking. The phone number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888.
Can you see her? It's time to open our eyes. Victims of the sex trade, domestic servitude, and forced labor have been invisible, until now.
Can you see her? It’s time to open our eyes. Victims of the sex trade, domestic servitude, and forced labor have been invisible, until now.

8. Check out these other local shelters and organizations. They need mentors, volunteers and resources:

Children of the Immaculate Heart

Generate Hope

Mary’s Guest House

North County Lifeline

PLNU Beauty for Ashes Scholarship Fund

Shining Stars

Salvation Army’s Door of Hope

San Diego Youth Services

These citizens are working to stop human trafficking. Will you join them?
These citizens are working to stop human trafficking. Will you join them?

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

Art captures memories of San Quentin inmates.

Spaces from Yesterday is a collaborative exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery featuring the art projects of three San Quentin inmates.
Spaces from Yesterday is a collaborative exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery featuring the art projects of three San Quentin inmates. (Click image to enlarge for easier reading.)

There’s a fascinating exhibition right now at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. It’s titled Spaces from Yesterday and features the artwork of three San Quentin inmates.

The artwork was created in collaboration with San Quentin State Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho, who also has a few related pieces in the exhibition. But the work that I found most interesting came directly from the hands of the inmates.

All three of the artists summon happy memories from their childhood. These images are warm, but also hard-edged and unpeopled. One work, The Hallway by Dennis Crookes, almost looks like a long, harsh, narrow prison hallway that finally leads to a home’s light-filled kitchen.

I could find no explanation why these three were incarcerated in the San Quentin correctional complex, which contains California’s only death row for male inmates. That would seem to be an essential part of the story, and might explain certain qualities of the art. But the anecdotes that are written do reveal a common yearning for a past life that is fondly remembered.

The following photos show a description of each piece, followed by the actual artwork.

Spaces from Yesterday will be on display through January 28, 2018. Those interested in art, creativity, and often hidden aspects of human life should check it out. Admission to the SDSU Downtown Gallery is free.

Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho and Dennis Crookes began planning The Hallway collaboration while Crookes was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.
Prison art teacher Amy M. Ho and Dennis Crookes began planning The Hallway collaboration while Crookes was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.
The Hallway, Dennis Crookes, acrylic on canvas, 2016.
The Hallway, Dennis Crookes, acrylic on canvas, 2016.
The Garage, a collaboration with inmate Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., contains warm memories from a playful childhood.
The Garage, a collaboration with inmate Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., contains warm memories from a playful childhood.
The Garage, Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., mixed media on cardboard, 2016.
The Garage, Bobby Dean Evans, Jr., mixed media on cardboard, 2016.
Chanthon Bun painted memories from a childhood that included a play fort in an abandoned lot, comic books, baseball cards and a fish pond he created with his siblings and young relatives.
Chanthon Bun painted memories from a childhood that included a play fort in an abandoned lot, comic books, baseball cards and a fish pond he created with his siblings and young relatives.
The Last Summer, Chanthon Bun, acrylic on canvas, 2017.
The Last Summer, Chanthon Bun, acrylic on canvas, 2017.

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!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Photos outside beautiful new downtown courthouse.

Gazing up from Union Street at the unique new Superior Court building in downtown San Diego.
Gazing up from Union Street at the unique new Superior Court building in downtown San Diego.

Yesterday I walked past our beautiful new downtown courthouse. The opening of the high tech half billion dollar San Diego Central Courthouse has faced several delays, but the very unique exterior has already added more character to San Diego’s gleaming skyline.

Here are some photos. The rooftop canopy is rather unusual, as you can see. The crystal-like lattice of geometric reflections and shadows that it produces delights the eye.

The new San Diego Central Courthouse is nearly completed. It stands north across the C Street trolley tracks from the Hall of Justice.
The new San Diego Central Courthouse is nearly completed. It stands north across the C Street trolley tracks from the Hall of Justice. A pedestrian bridge connects both buildings.
Flags in a pleasant breeze. The new courthouse, most expensive in California, has faced various construction delays.
Flags in a pleasant breeze. The new courthouse, most expensive in California, has faced various construction delays.
This Superior Courthouse of California is across Union Street from the old courthouse, which will be torn down.
This new Superior Court of California building is across Union Street from the old, less-functional courthouse, which will be torn down.
Fascinating reflections and shadows on glass windows beneath a projecting rooftop canopy.
Fascinating reflections and shadows on glass windows beneath a projecting rooftop canopy.

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!