The Greenest Rose Parade Yet

If you’ve ever been to the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, then you’ve seen the beautiful flower-covered floats, but have you ever thought about all the work that goes into prepping the floats, the city and the five-mile Parade Route?

Growing up in Pasadena, I’ve been able to witness the transformation the city goes through to prepare for January 1st when the world’s eyes are on Pasadena. It seems like it’s just after Thanksgiving that construction crews head out to Colorado Boulevard to begin setting up the Grandstands, broadcasting booths and porta-potties. As there seems to be a growing global focus on individual and organizational sustainability efforts, I began to wonder what Tournament of Roses has done, and continues to do, to lower the economic impact of the Parade and Rose Bowl Game.

ps-rose-1I’ve been very curious about the Tournament of Roses’s sustainability efforts and was even more intrigued when I read on the Tournament of Roses’ Facebook page that the 2015 Rose Parade President was making an important announcement about an alternative fuel requirement for all floats in the 2015 Parade. After receiving the head’s up about that announcement, I went to the Tournament House, and was thrilled about what President Chinen had to say.

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Learning that all floats for the 2015 and future Rose Parades have to run on alternative fuel sources, and that traditional fossil fuels were banned, is a huge step forward in the Tournament of Roses’ efforts to create a sustainable and environmentally conscious parade. I was so impressed with this decision and read even more about it in the brochure posted on their website.

I think this new initiative is attractive to many different outlets and will draw even more support for the Tournament and the Parade. Additionally, I think this comes as a positive strategic move for the Tournament’s new Chief Executive Officer. Overall, I’m glad to see an organization, so deeply rooted in tradition, making a modern and conscious effort to make new traditions. You can count on me to be proudly sitting on Colorado Boulevard on January 1st, ringing in the New Year and ringing in a new era of greener, more environmentally friendly Rose Parades.

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Nearly Two Decades Later and the World Still Heats Up for Coldplay

Is it me, or is it one week you hear a song all over the radio from a previously unknown band and then, just as you’re beginning to not say, “Who’s that?” every time someone mentions the group’s name, you never hear a track from them again? In a culture where musical artists come and go all the time only to fall off Billboard’s Hot 100 just as quickly as they appeared, it is a testament to a group’s creativity when they  consistently create hit after hit for years. Yes, in today’s scene such talents may seem few and far between, but one band that has heated up the global music stage for nearly two decades is none other than British rock foursome Coldplay.

Lead vocalist Chris Martin’s unmistakable falsetto has defined the group’s modern rock vibe for 18 years and five studio albums, with number 6 due out this May . First achieving worldwide fame with the release of their 2000 debut album “Parachutes” and subsequent  releases of “A Rush of Blood to the Head”  in 2002 and the 2005 world-wide best selling album, “X&Y“, the four mates’ have continue to soar as one of the most popular bands around. The 2008 release of  “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends” earned them the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album of the Year (just one of seven that they’ve won) and the band’s most recent album released in 2011, “Mylo Xyloto“, rings true to the group’s defining sound with a modern twist.

Despite winning 7 Grammys, 8 Brit awards and a host of other international awards, this group doesn’t dare coast along, riding on the coattails of past albums’ successes. They continue to improve and this latest album shows musical ambition and innovation. Compared to Coldplay’s earlier albums, “Mylo Xyloto” is the group’s most diverse album yet. The album takes Martin’s one-of-a-kind voice, lead guitarist Jonny Buckland’s enviable guitar riffs, Guy Berryman’s solid bass playing and drummer Will Champion’s multi-instrument repertoire, and makes every gesture even richer. The result of this textured musical endeavor is a Coldplay listening experience like no other, yet one that longtime groupies and newer listeners alike can’t help but enjoy.

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Mylo Xyloto Concert at the Hollywood Bowl in May 2012

Considered a concept album, the included songs follow the narrative of the protagonists, Mylo and Xyloto, who live in an oppressive and dystopia society, but after meeting through a gang, they fall in love. If anyone is concerned about the fate of these star-crossed lovers whose story was inspired by the anti-Nazi White Rose Movement and old school American Graffiti, have no fear. Frontman Chris Martin tell us that the album is based “on a love story with a happy ending.” Thank goodness! #truelove

“Mylo Xyloto” features an explosion of colorful and upbeat tracks, with the thoughtful inclusion of expertly placed acoustic-driven songs such as “U.F.O.” that hearken back to unforgettable Coldplay ballads like “Fix You“. New and old listeners alike will enjoy the soaring choruses and stronger electronic sound, especially found in the track, “Paradise”.

“Paradise” is surely cornerstone track on the album. The song is delightfully catchy and exemplifies all the “Mylo Xyloto” strives to be. It features organs, strings and an echoing chorus that all but requires you to sing along. The defining rock vibes, like the sounds booming guitar and drums, found in Coldplay’s earlier works are appreciably present and are paired with modern techno compositions from producer Brian Eno.

Two other features that up the album’s ante: playfully energetic tracks, such as “Hurts Like Heaven,” and a collaboration with one of today’s pop queens, Rihanna, in the song “Princess of China“.

The lively elements that shine across the entire album help Coldplay maintain its title as one of the most popular rock bands around. The electrified choruses, upbeat tempos and A-list collaborations that line this album prove to listeners that these four Brits are creative as ever and their work only continues to improve. If the innovation heard on “Mylo Xyloto” is any indication of what Chris, Jonny, Guy and Will have in store for the release of their sixth studio album, “Ghost Stories“, listeners will be in for a treat.

iCan’t Buy Any Other Phone

Think back to 2007. Do you remember the days of the grey and black, rounded back, 2 megapixel iPhone that was offered exclusively on Cingular Wireless? I sure do. Christmas 2007 was an unforgettable occasion for me as I was among the first of my friends to replace a mundane flip phone with the gift at the top of everyone’s list: the iPhone. And now, more than six years and four models later, iCan’t buy any other phone!

ImageWhen I am eligible for a phone upgrade, I head to the AT&T store just to peruse  the latest phone options, but before I even step foot in the door,I have already made up my mind. Salespeople have tried to sell me nearly every other product, though I always leave with the same device, just a new model. I have witnessed the transformation of iPhone hardware and software. Over the past six years I’ve enjoyed the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 4 and now the iPhone 5S with its revolutionary fingerprint scanner.

If you’re looking to buy a new smartphone, I suggest you do what has made me happy for nearly one-third of my life, and purchase an iPhone. I am an iPhone user through and through, and firmly believe it is the cell phone people should be using today. It is popular around the world and very user friendly.

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Though other devices are appealing, the iPhone continually rises above the competition with its innovative features, performance and design. Even the closest competitors fall short with their attempts at innovation. The most common marketing trend I’ve heard from iPhone’s distant is how their phones offer bigger touchscreen displays.  Thought this might sound beneficial in theory, it is not practical as it hardly fits in a jeans pocket or small purse. How much bigger do you need? Whereas those other phones take two hands to manage, the iPhone fits perfectly into my palm and my favorite accessories

4 iphone tilesAs I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to appreciate the features that make iPhone so unique. To help balance my school, work and extra curricular schedule, the calendar feature conveniently syncs all my Apple devices with my online Google calendar. Also, iMessage makes communications with friends and family so much easier. iMessage allows me to talk to any iPhone user (so almost everyone I know) for free over Wi-fi. I can just as easily talk to my mom at home or my best friend, Morgan, who recently moved to Switzerland. Other devices do not offer such user-friendly and free methods of instant communication. Lastly, the incredible front and back facing cameras allow me to take professional quality and selfies that would make Barack Obama green with envy.

Apple and its products continue to design products that make our lives easier and provide us with an enjoyable user experience. I am very happy with my current iPhone 5s and its performance, but I’m sure the Apple team up in Cupertino is already onto the iPhone 7 or 8. I’m not sure if I’ll be camped out in front of the Apple store the night before the new phone is released, but I can say that I will continue to be an iPhone user for the next third of my life, too.

-Kimberly