But we really do have more bounce in California…

This song has been stuck in my head since the weekend, when I heard it during a sketch on an old episode of SNL.

Turns out, "(More Bounce in) California" pokes fun at the Golden State, but that didn't stop Californians from making it a stadium anthem (literally) a few years back when the song was newer but I was spending months at a time ignoring California from the other side of the Colorado River.

See, California's a place where we revel in our foibles (and, often, in caricatures of our more serious problems — but that's a whole other story) so it doesn't really matter that the song isn't really meant for us to enjoy; we'll own it anyway.

Not only is Soulkid #1's song stuck in my head; it also inspired a California playlist of 36 songs that cast the state and some of my favorite locales sometimes in flattering terms and other times, not so much.

But hey, without stuff like earthquakes, smog, taxes and especially traffic, what would we Californians have to talk about?

Hey, I know (of) that guy!

The Desert Sun: #insideCoachella since 1999 in print, online ... on Twitpic

This weekend, I saw two somewhat familiar names in unexpected places.

Friday night, while looking at stories from the first Coachella in 1999, I realized that the city hall-turned-festival reporter was someone who I had just e-mailed last month.

The next afternoon, as I was sharing the resulting conversation with that TDS alum on MyCoachella.com, I all but ignored news alerts that were flashing onto my phone about some guy pitching a perfect game, brushing it off as "ehh, some baseball thing."

The name sounded familiar, and yep, that is indeed Carthage H... on Twitpic

It was only when I took a good look at the Sunday sports section, well after midnight, that it occurred to me the name Philip Humber kind of rang a bell. Some quick Googling revealed that yes, that "some guy" was from Carthage, Texas, and he was a senior at Carthage High School when I was a freshman there.

Now, I don't think I ever crossed paths with Humber in Carthage, but my mom worked with his mom, and I'm glad there's now something a bit more flattering than a murder being turned into a Jack Black movie for the town to hang its hat on.

What's more, my reason for reveling in Humber's achievement felt a lot like my connection to one of the first TDSers to cover Coachella — tenuous, sure, but cool nonetheless.

recentering myself

As I'm sure you all know by now, I've been around the world (and I, I, I... I can't find my baby — but that's a whole other story).

Still, if you were to plot the geographic center of where I spend most of my time, do most of my traveling and feel most at home, it'd probably be close to the aptly named Desert Center.

After spending this past weekend in East Texas for Dad and Kathy's wedding, it feels as though that center has moved at least over into New Mexico.

It was the first time I'd been back to the region in eight-plus years, but I was surprised to find that East Texas still very much feels like home.

Maybe it's that Carthage hasn't changed all that much since I moved away, nor has the bigger city of Longview, for that matter. Maybe it was the familiar faces who are still around (or back in) town. Or maybe it's just the fact that I spent seven rather formative years in East Texas.

Whatever the reason, one thing's certain: I'll be back well before another eight years go by.

It’s time to wise up.

I'll admit: I've been pretty bad at taking my own good advice. More than three years after I delivered a graduation speech asking my fellow J-school graduates to keep learning as we moved into the professional world, I've realized that I've lost sight of my own mandate to "learn from the past and grow into the future."

Sure, I've learned more about my craft since I've left journalism school, and I have a Storify account that proves I've dabbled with a bit of new technology. But I feel like I do a better job of living a college-like life on the weekends and at the bars than at The Work, where I could also use some skills from that same era — though not the same daypart.

Luckily, the tide started turning in recent weeks as some colleagues and I hatched a plan to be more intentional about sharing successes with and learning from each other, and I also took a step or two of my own in the right direction today.

Tonight, I drove out to UC Riverside to hear former Des Moines Register editor and current USC J-school director Geneva Overholser give a lecture on the promise to be found amid the tumultuous times the news business is going through that was full of food for thought — and grist for the Twitter mill, of course.

Who knew that a university right in our backyard held an annual journalism lecture that's attracted the likes of Katharine and Don Graham, George Will, Tom Johnson, Tom Curley and Walter Isaacson?

Well, I only knew about it because I happened to see it listed on the UCR home page today, and I was only poking around there and on Cal State San Bernardino's website after realizing that The Work really does still offer tuition assistance.

I mean, it's listed in the employee handbook that I got when I started in '09, but I figured that program went the way of the acronym VDT — which also appears in the handbook and seems to mean "computer" — when the economy tanked, if not long before. But there it was again (the tuition assistance section, not the archaic acronym) in the newly overhauled handbook we got earlier this year.

So now I've got that tool in my toolbox, but more importantly, these past few weeks have reignited my drive to not just get the job done and not even to simply do good work but also to be a more thoughtful, ever-learning journalist.

My evenings have officially gone a los perros…

Lately, I've been trying to reverse the downward spiral of my Spanish skills by watching more Univision. Plaza S├ęsamo and Notivalle were a good start, but I also wanted to find a telenovela to get all kinds of involved in.

Tonight, I'm pleased to announce that I've found that novela, Una Familia con Suerte.

It first caught my eye Thursday night as Jodi and I were finishing up dinner at Kimy Sushi. Well, to be exact, the Posh Spice-looking character caught my eye. But the rest of the show looked equally colorful.

I immediately told my TiVo to start taping it but realized that Thursday night's episode was set to air for two hours, as was every other night's episode. This was going to be a big commitment.

So I hemmed and hawed over the weekend, but after a car chat with Claudia in which she expressed similar dreams of novela-based obsessi— er, education, I resolved to at least give this show a try.

Tonight, I watched Monday night's episode, and I'm officially hooked. It's got outlandish sound effects, colorful characters (like the straight guy who's pretending to be gay for some reason but just professed his love for this outgoing female co-worker) and — obviously — all sorts of drama.

What really bowled me over, though, was that this drama wasn't just limited to the human characters. Yes, the dogs also have their own sexy subplot... and they talk:

See, the mama dog is owned by the aforementioned Posh-ish character, who is quite incensed and wonders what her society friends will think if they find out her little princess of a pooch had puppies with a plebeian pop, so she's making canine custody matters, well, quite a bitch to figure out.

Srsly, y'all... A spicy villain and pooches talking about their doggy drama all in one scene? I can handle two hours a night of that, no doubt. It's like this novela was made just for me!