Matt and Erica Chua: Where South Americans Vacation

South America is full of beach towns, deciding which ones to visit is the hard part.  As we traveled we took our cues from the locals as to where to visit. The same way New Yorkers have the Hamptons, South Americans have their established get aways where the main past time is relaxing.  These towns are the perfect vacation spot for travelers as well.  There are many hotels and restaurants to choose from as well as plenty of entertainment options.  While there are hundreds of different places where the locals flock, I have highlighted three popular spots.

Cartagena, Colombia

The colonial town of Cartagena offers something for everyone with a beautiful old town, a booming downtown and a long stretch of sandy beach in between.  The colorful architecture and the cobblestone streets of the old town are a photographers paradise.  The street cafes and boutique shops offer plenty of distractions as you stroll.  The wide variety of places to stay, eat and grab a drink could keep you busy for a long time and the ocean views are stunning.  It’s easy to relax and take in this charming city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, the beach is inviting and the downtown offers modern amenities and swanky restaurants.  We loved spending time in Cartagena after spending so much time in bustling Medellin, it was the perfect get-away from big city life.

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Matt and Erica Chua: Where South Americans Vacation

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Asheville, NC

Asheville, NC is cool.


And Southern (albeit reluctantly).

A serenely hippie dippie college town that could easily take the NCAA regional title in meditation, woodworking, haute cuisine, energy healing, Frisbie throwing, and self-awareness if any were collegiate sports.

My phone camera isn’t functioning. Maybe it has dropped into the Asheville mindset and decided I should just experience the city instead of taking pictures of it, man.

jyb_musingsAnd I agree.

Suffice it to say that it feels like Haight-Ashbury went to rehab and then was sent to a half-way house on the other side of the US and over time these Haight-Ashbury refugees found a way to make a sober-ish life while still honoring their eccentric individuality and pacifist world view. And learned how to make a contented community among themselves.

The inhabitants are not burned out but turned on(and aptly named their town Ashville) where they seek out (not eek out) an all-natural gluten-free, and gloriously Granola-fied life. To the beat of street musicians playing jazzy sounding bluegrass music.

I kinda love it. With soy milk, of course.

Winner, Winner (Kentucky Fried) Chicken Dinner in The RP’s KY Political Brief “Breaking Bad” Contest


Wow.  The greatest television show in the history of the program is over. And it was a brilliant sendoff.

(I have only one qualm:  Why did Walt tell Lydia that her flu-like symptoms were the result of ricin poisoning? Doesn’t that give her the opportunity to get medical help?  I only see two explanations — it is too late for Lydia’s salvation, or this yet another example of Walt’s hubris/sloppiness thwarting his intentions.)

Nearly two dozen members of the RP Nation submitted entries in our first/last annual “Breaking Bad” series finale (“Felina”) prediction contest.  Most of our entries were quite creative, but WAY WAY off.  So many of you had Skyler, and even poor Holly, dying; others were convinced Walt would off his former Gray Matter partners.  And no one forecast the cameo return of the most hilarious comedy pair since Lucy and Desi — Badger and Skinny Pete.

Check out all of the entries here.

BUT we did find a winner — and it turns out he is a future recovering politician — Madison County (KY) Attorney Marc Robbins.  Here’s Marc’s entry:

Walt rescues Jessie (bitch), blows away Todd and crew, and takes the ricin.


Screen shot 2013-09-29 at 10.24.05 PM.JPGMuch to Marc’s discredit, his summary was quite brief; we all knew from the flash forward several weeks that Walt took the ricin from his old home; and Walt doesn’t “blow away” Todd — Jesse strangles him (kudos to Stuart Cobb for guessing that detail!)  And what’s with that Facebook profile pic, Marc?!!!?!?

But one of the central unanswered questions was how Walt would treat Jesse should they meet again — and with Walt returning to his somewhat sympathetic roots, Marc was on the money.  So he wins my two lower Rupp Arena tickets for the UNC Asheville game in November.  Mazel Tov, Marc Robbins!

The prize for the most humorous entry goes to recovering blogger, Bob Layton.  Here was his entry:

Bob Layton ·  Top Commenter · University of Kentucky Alternatively, Walter goes straight to the compound, is in the process of busting Jesse out when the neo-Nazis arrive. During the ensuing brawl, Walter, Jesse, and the neo-Nazis all spill through the fourth wall, onto an adjoining soundset where Buddy Bizarre is rehearsing a glitzy musical number called the French Mistake. Walter and Jesse then find their R.V., and hand in hand, ride off into the sunset.

While the competition was far tougher in this category (honorable mention to Adam Gibson, Sandy Levy, and Mike Mabry), Bob gets kudos for his evocation of two of my favorite things: marriage equality and Jewish humor (Buddy Bizarre and the French Mistake are references from Mel Brooks’ extraordinary film, Blazing Saddles).

So for kissing the tuchus of the judging panel, Bob wins autographed copies of both The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis and John Y’s Musings from the Middle.

Guess I got what I deserved
Kept you waiting there too long my love.
All that time without a word
Didn’t know you’d think that I’d forget
Or I’d regret the special love I have for you –
My Baby Blue.

Saul Kaplan: Surprise!

How many times has your boss said, no surprises? Bosses want everything to go down exactly as planned.  Of course they never do.  Maybe instead of trying to avoid surprises we should plan more of them.  When is the last time you genuinely surprised someone?  Did you delight a customer today with the element of surprise?  Did you do something so totally unpredictable that people all around you took notice?  Predictability is overrated and boring.

When the Saints tried an onside kick to begin the second half of the Super Bowl everyone on and off the field was taken by complete surprise. I thought at the time that the game was over right then and there.  The key was the element of surprise.  If you look at the statistics behind onside kicks it was a genius move by Sean Payton, the Saint’s head coach. Turns out that only 26% of onside kicks in the NFL work when they are expected late in the game.  The success rate goes up to 60% if the ploy is unexpected.  The Saints not only had the underdog, post Katrina thing, working for them the odds were in their favor.  The onside kick was a brilliant use of surprise and the Colts never recovered from it.

Lady Gaga is all about the surprise.  We expect her to surprise us with her look and art every single time.  Lady Gaga delivers.  Her appearance at the Grammy Awards was no exception.  Whether you are a Lady Gaga fan or not you have to be impressed with her capacity to surprise, provoke, and entertain.  Her outfit at the Grammy’s was unlike any I have ever seen and her duet with Elton John was equally memorable.  Lady Gaga is determined to be remarkable and to consistently surprise.  No easy task to be surprising when everyone is expecting you to be.  It isn’t my favorite genre (if you can call her music a genre) but I have to hand it to Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta for being surprisingly entertaining.

photo-saulMy friend Tony Hsieh has built an incredible movement and company at Zappos.  The company is built around the simple idea of surprising each and every customer with service beyond expectations.  It seems so logical and yet most customer service is awful and disappointing.  Not service from Zappos.  Just ask my wife and daughters who have been delighted on many occasions ordering shoes from the company.

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Saul Kaplan: Surprise!

Give ’em Hell, Guv!

When it comes to a full-throated defense of Obamacare, there’s been no stronger advocate than my old boss, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.  Whether you agree with him or not (I am certainly proud of his passionate defense of the expansion of Medicaid in our poor state), you’ve got to admire the chutzpah of a Southern Governor defending the signature program of a President who has been crushed in his state twice.

In his op-ed in today’s New York Times, “My State Needs Obamacare. Now.” Beshear reminds me of Harry Truman, sticking it to the modern version of the do-nothing-but-complain Congress:

Frankly, we can’t implement the Affordable Care Act fast enough.

As for naysayers, I’m offended by their partisan gamesmanship, as they continue to pour time, money and energy into overturning or defunding the Affordable Care Act. It’s shameful that these critics haven’t invested that same level of energy into trying to improve the health of our citizens.

They insist that the Affordable Care Act will never work — when in fact a similar approach put into effect in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney, then the governor, is working.

So, to those more worried about political power than Kentucky’s families, I say, “Get over it.”

The Affordable Care Act was approved by Congress and sanctioned by the Supreme Court. It is the law of the land.

Get over it … and get out of the way so I can help my people. Here in Kentucky, we cannot afford to waste another day or another life.

Click here to read the entire op-ed.

No Labels Calls for a Ceasefire

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Control Alt Delete

Too little, too late. I am sorry Bill Gates.

Sure, this public admission and act of contrition is certainly admirable….but it is also too late to undo the harm done already—in fact, about 30 years too late.

Kudos for finally acknowled…ging this soul-stirring error of judgment.

But the fact that you can never completely undo the damage of this “executive decision” means the rest of us will have to continue living with the consequences.

jyb_musingsAnd by the way, genuine acts of public contrition require a heartfelt apology and desire to make whole those harmed. It does not include trying to artfully dodge responsibility by blaming bad acts on others—like IBM.

I am starting to think it would have been better if you’d just said nothing at all about this topic instead of this embarrassing half-baked apology.

And obviously not reading Jonathan Miller’s book and taking to heart advice on crisis management

Jason Atkinson: This Land was Made for You and Me

An annual pilgrimage begins this week. Thousands of Americans are excitedly unpacking boxes from Cabelas and Orvis and planning to leave the office early. Fox News skipped over for the Weather Channel. The stock market turned off, topo maps unfurled. Politics and the center-right’s distrust of the federal government put aside while a battery of American-made trucks and SUVs head out onto public lands for the start of hunting season.

In the West, the federal government is the single largest non-tax-paying landowner. This includes 53 percent of Oregon, 84 percent of Nevada, 45 percent of California, all owned and managed by the Feds — a landmass larger than much of the eastern seaboard. For decades, local counties with struggling schools, understaffed sheriffs departments and closing libraries have posed the question the federal government either prove they own the land or pay taxes. These sagebrush rebellions flare their heads every few years but rarely go anywhere, because circuit courts are packed by urban lawyers who have no idea what the modern West is really about. But the fact is simple, rural places adjust to federal land policy, whether on fire or not.

AtkinsonJasonNewHeadshotThis time of year, those of us in rural America, and those who have romantic visions of joining us, lay down our politics in order to pick up our fly rods, our bows, shotguns and rifles. Elk hunters to pheasant hunters, waterfowlers to steelheaders, we all head out to Uncle Sam’s tree farm. While our Uncle is not going to gift this land to the states any time soon, those hunting and angling, family traditions that are a higher priority than Sunday church in the fall, are as important to conservation as any federal policy.

Public lands need to stay in public hands. And the folks who live and hunt on public lands are the long-term key to environmental protection. Caretakers in their own right, the hook-and-bullet community is active in protecting and managing herds, raising money to restore fish habitat, and changing the ethic from use-and-abuse to natural restoration. Just yesterday, in a school parking lot in southern Oregon, picking up my 5th-grader, Grandpa Skip Rheault told me: “We waited 37 years to draw that unit (a wildlife lottery system), and that was probably the best hunt the boys and I’ll ever have in our lives.” I didn’t have a chance to ask about his success before he stopped me, smiling broadly, adding, “We didn’t even take an elk. Saw a lot of cows and spikes, but we only wanted a 6-point or better. Just seeing those healthy elk was worth the wait.”

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Jason Atkinson: This Land was Made for You and Me

Julie Rath: Finding Your “It” Leather Jacket

Photo courtesy of GQ

Lately I’ve been shopping for three different clients looking for each one’s own “It” leather jacket. Each guy already has a leather jacket that he wears, but the fit is off in all cases. The biggest mistake guys make with leather jackets is buying ones that are too roomy and too bulky. A leather jacket should fit snug to the body; you shouldn’t be able to fit anyone else under there with you. Armholes should be cut high, and sleeves should hit no lower than at the base of your wrist. Don’t be surprised if you have to go one size down from your usual to get the right fit.

Other ingredients for achieving leather jacket greatness:

1.// Think leather jacket, not leather blazer or leather trenchcoat. The former feels dated, and the latter might get you arrested.

2.// Choose the right color for your complexion: if your skin tone is cool, go with black; if warm, go with brown.

3.// Don’t be afraid to up the style quotient when deciding what to pair it with. After all, you are wearing your “It” leather jacket, so you might as well wear it with personality. Try it with a slim tie for a night out as seen above.

4.// Refrain from putting a jumble of things in your pockets. This not only adds bulk, but it will also stretch out that killer fit you worked so hard on.

5.// Just say “no” to patches, logos, racing stripes, hoodies and excess distressing.

Win 2 UK Basketball Tickets in The RP’s Kentucky Political Brief “Breaking Bad” Contest

Call me a glutton for Los Pollos Hermanos and the blue crystal, but I believe that Breaking Bad is not only the best television show in the medium’s history — it eaked by The Sopranos in its extraordinary, explosive, Gus “Face Off” Season 4 finale — but that it is simply the best thing that has ever appeared on any video medium, be it the telly, film, Web streaming or even RPTV.

And I mean it.

So like many of you, I’m counting down the minutes until the Series Finale this Sunday night at 9:00 PM.

The suspense is eating at me like acid in a bathtub. Will Walt live?  Will Jesse escape the Neo-Nazis and then call them “bitches”?  Will Lydia and Todd consummate their uber-bizarre flirtation? Will Hank rise from the dead?  Will “Better Call” Saul open a vaccum cleaning store in Nebraska? Will Walt Jr. legally change his name to Flynn? Will Holly reveal herself as a dwarf imposter? Will Huell EVER LEAVE THAT HOTEL ROOM?

Best yet — will Walt turn himself in, enter witness protection, and start a new family — with a Final Big Reveal:  Breaking Bad was merely the prequel to Malcolm in the Middle?

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Let us know what you think in the comments section below — and for those of you who subscribe to The RP’s Kentucky Political Brief (KPB) — be prepared to win big prizes in the KPB’s “Breaking Bad” contest:

  1. The KPB subscriber whose predictions most closely track the actual series finale will win my awesome two lower-level Rupp Arena tickets to the University of Kentucky’s home basketball game against UNC Asheville on Friday, November 8.
  2. The KPB subscriber whose predictions are so funny, that they make our trusted panel of RPs (Myself, Michael Steele, Jeff Smith, Rod Jetton and John Y. Brown, III) laugh the loudest, will win autographed copies of both The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis AND John Y. Brown, III’s Musings from the Middle.

Rules of entry:

Click on the flag to sign up for The RP's Kentucky Political Brief

Click on the flag to sign up for The RP’s Kentucky Political Brief

1.  Only subscribers to The RP’s Kentucky Political Brief (KPB) can enter.  If you haven’t subscribed, it’s easy and it’s FREE: Click here, fill out the form, and you will receive a FREE email in your inbox every weekday morning with all of the latest Kentucky political news — on Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Alison Lundergan Grimes, Steve Beshear — every link to every important story in this exciting election season.

2. To win, you must make your entry in the comments section of this post, below.

3. Only one serious entry and one funny entry per person.

4. All entries must be submitted below on this post by 8:30 PM EDT, Sunday, September 29.

5.  The winning entry for the UK tickets will be determined solely at the discretion of Jonathan Miller, using his subjective review.  Hint: A critical determination in the accuracy of your entry will be in predicting who dies in the episode, and at whose hands they perish.  In particular, a detailed description of Walt’s fate will be essential.

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Win 2 UK Basketball Tickets in The RP’s Kentucky Political Brief “Breaking Bad” Contest

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