Monday, January 30, 2017

Divino Ritmo Dance 8th Annual Showcase - The BEST!

So much to say about this fabulous event but all of my writing efforts being consumed by work related obligations.  More later with detail.  Anyone not attending this event missed something very special.  It was the best of the best.

Friday, January 20, 2017

TRUMP Day - Jan 20th, 2017

Posted at the exact moment that President Trump was inaugurated as 45th POTUS
Deer Valley, Park City, Utah - Jan 8th, 2017

Friday, December 23, 2016

2016 – It is a Good Year; It is a Great Year!

Is this a good year or a great year?  Any year without any real or imagined furthering of my medical paranoias is a good year.  This year witnessed my lowest PSA and cholesterol values in years!  This year witnessed the least number of foot injuries of the last five thanks to excellent medical care by Ken Arakawa and the medicinal benefits of colchicine. This year witnessed the improvements in my chronic cough as well as reaffirmation that my lung function and lung anatomy are normal according to the most basic testing methods. I suppose, I could go through a litany of other tidbits of good news and note the status of every bodily function but that would cause mass exodus from this blog.  Moreover, I cannot reveal the defects in activity and function of the more embarrassingly sensitive organs.  Even if I did, it would only satisfy the morose curiosity as few would be surprised or titillated by the organ dysfunctions and travails of a 70-year-old male. But aside from the inevitable age related apoptosis, as I think about it, with this amount of good fortune, it already qualifies 2016 as a great year.  But there is more.

Yes, this is a Great Year! I am healthy and I continue to travel the world – 18 trips total! Great Britain, South Africa, Mozambique, Canada – western & eastern, Vietnam twice (which everyone know I love very much), the Caribbean, Spain, Portugal, Morocco and many cities in the US – San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Cleveland, New York City, Washington DC, etc, etc.  Only one trip was for work and I even attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.  And I’ve planned for even more exciting trips/cruises for next year thanks to the prompting of two interested friends who are willing to share their experiences in the artic (Svalbard) and all the way down to Antarctica.  Indeed, next year I have too many cruises (five), those mentioned above, one dance cruise to Chile and Peru, one with my sisters that cruises from the Canada to the north-eastern US beginning in Quebec City, and one on the west coast – Los Angeles to Vancouver. I am going to Vietnam at least twice and maybe travel to a contiguous country like Laos for a few days. I travel to ski at least twice a year and next year will be no exception. I will travel to visit my children. Some trips are casual and stark, some are elegant and decadent, some are adventuresome, some are for sport, and some are social and poised.  With some, my job is to trek and explore and observe, e.g., Svalbard, with others it is to listen, and converse and dance, e.g., Crystal Cruises and then there are those for skiing.  Many more cities in the world will be left with my footprint. At this point, I have at least 14 trips planned for next year with one in the process. And maybe even a third trip to Vietnam will top it to 16. 

Some Extraneous Verbiage. I live to savor the smell and taste of cities near and far, the people, the shops and streets, the hustle and bustle of those living their lives, those purposefully loitering the streets and others relaxed and enjoying the moment. To do so effectively, I have to accept the notion that I have invaded their privacy.  But that allows me to dream for a moment what it would be like to be them or live among them. Cities in Spain are like those in Italy, with the old blending melodically with the new, having both the present and the past to savor and appreciate. You can never escape who you were - living with such history, and reminders abound in nearly every city, and cannot be avoided with an endless presence of beautiful ageless monuments of wood, stone and mortar, many in disrepair or perpetually being renovated.  Contrast this with other cities even in beautiful countries like New Zealand that is only a few hundred years old and you will understand what I am trying to convey.  And contrast this to the virtual world that most of our youth live in, and you will no longer wonder why they can be so easily mesmerized into foolish, dark and dangerous deeds.  

I turned 70 years old this year and had nearly as many celebrations.  They were truly meaningful. I hope to live several more decades but I think my next planned celebration for having lived any duration on earth will come IF I can make it to 100 years.  Otherwise, I’ve had enough of birthdays.  But turning seventy when most people would guess otherwise brings me great joy.  Something I did was right, and while my parents also gifted me with many things, sharing their DNA was unquestionably the most cherished.  My father lived to nearly 102, my mother not so lucky – 84 (too many pregnancies did not help), but her brother lived to 95 and her mother - my grandmother to 105.  What’s more, they were all ambulatory and quick witted to the end. CNN posted in recent days a list of those well-known individuals from all walks of life that were lost in 2016. Some lived as little as two decades, some lived until nearly 100. Almost everything can be purchased by those with world fame and endless resources except the most important thing in life – life itself.  I also lost some personal friends this year which is always a powerful reminder of the fleetingness of life, which seems to never linger long in one’s consciousness.  How do many of us live life knowing that we will inevitably no longer exist sometime soon in the future – maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe next decade…..?

I never expected to work until 70 but here I am still working part time. I come and go as I please but somehow find time to work from near and afar without my employers complaining.  But my travel schedule has accelerated greatly these last few years and I can’t imagine how anyone would want to keep me on the payrolls. Still I thoroughly enjoy the role I have carved out for myself and wish to continue - at least for a few more years. At the very least, it keeps my mind sharp and is gratifying. In some ways, I enjoy working more than ever before indubitably because I no longer NEED to work. I am indeed a lucky man and a happy man.

To repeat, I am a happy man. Not every reason I am happy need be divulged. But I am a happy man because I have tried very hard to understand what makes me happy.  Surprisingly, there are more remedies than roadblocks EVEN FOR A MAN OF 70. Skills that can no longer be achieved such as those on the dance floor must be accepted. I have to accept that I have reached the pinnacle of my dance skills. Its no fun to live in a world where the best you can do is the best you have done in the past. I felt the same way about tennis. I did not want to continue to play tennis when I could no longer become a better player.  That’s just me. Others are satisfied with the status quo.  Not I.

What Else Makes Me Happy?  There is nothing insightful here.  My family, my friends, my co-workers – as always relationships matter. 

What Would I Wish for My Children and Their Children?  I am saddened by the notion that as I enter the last chapters of my life that I will eventually be leaving my children and grandchildren in a more hostile and dishonest world than greeted me in my life.  Presently I do not believe that they will live a better life than I have. What I wish for my children and grandchildren is that this belief in their future is INCORRECT and that they will indeed live a better life than God has bestowed me.  Then I will be truly happy.

Final Thoughts.  Well, was it worth the time and effort to write this blog?  I believe its important to periodically catalogue the good and the not so good moments in a person’s life.  I actually learned a few things recounting the events of the year in writing this blog.  My initial euphoria in writing became heightened as I relived the events of my year of good health, good fortune, work, and travel.  How often do we look back and congratulate ourselves for anything in life?  Are we only relegated to be unnerved by adversity?  We must periodically collect all of the memories of the past and relish those that bring us moments of happiness.  Collect these moments and you will be a rich man or woman or person whichever fits the bill. Indeed!

Taken this season at the Halekulani Hotel

Friday, October 14, 2016

Gabriella's Place: A hidden treasure – perfect for private parties!

The owner, Gabriella with mother Lee in the background.  More pictures to follow including
the bellydancer!

Most businesses are successful if they make money and many do not really care how they do it.  This includes restaurants.  It was therefore such a delightful experience to be lucky enough to schedule my birthday party at Gabriella’s Place in the unlikely town of Nutley, New Jersey on October 8th, 2016 where my family, coming from parts of New York and New Jersey and I converged to experience not only wonderful food that was plentiful and beautifully presented, great and caring service that was from the heart, an amazingly beautiful and skillful belly dancer that captured everyone’s attention including my invigorated and lustful eyes, all packaged in a small family run Lebanese restaurant that was bright, charming, clean and perfect for the just under 30 people that came for this momentous 70th birthday celebration.

To be sure, my 70th birthday comes on November 18th, but I wanted to celebrate this milestone with my sisters who I infrequently see living some 6,000 miles away. And I was planning a cruise to Canada and had a few days in New York before it started.  So, with prompting from my sister, Sue who did much of the planning and hounded and reminded my family on several occasions about the event, we decided to find a restaurant and meet half way between my two family cohorts. This was no small chore for me having to work this from my home in Honolulu.  So it was a bit of an experiment and I talked to several restaurants before settling on Gabriella’s Place.  There was truly no comparison between the warmth and customer service that was afforded me; it almost seemed too easy and I was beginning to wonder.  The restaurant would be closed to other patrons and I guaranteed a party of at least 30 people.  I made the deal without the need for deposit, the cost was all inclusive of tax and tip and the food selection was decided including several courses of appetizers followed by dinner selections and dessert.  Without a liquor license, I was able to bring wine and beer to the restaurant without having to resort to the usual large restaurant markup which undoubtedly saved me hundreds of dollars in costs.   

While I’m not quite the middle eastern restaurant connoisseur, I did think the food was really delicious.  More importantly, my fussy older sisters, who are expert cooks and very discerning in their appreciation for middle eastern cooking – also agreed with my assessment.  Indeed, everyone there was fabulously content with the quality, quantify and diversity of the cuisine being served.   I’ll spare you the details of the selections; everything we had was wonderful.  You can’t go wrong with any selection on the menu.

I think there were only four of the Gabriella’s Place family members scurrying around attending to the guests but they were all wonderful, responsive and patient with the numerous requests.  I remembered to corner Gabriella and her mother Lee and snapped a few pictures of them to preserve my memory.  Service was warm and friendly, and I think they truly enjoyed serving us and participating in the event.  I certainly appreciated everything about that night and I thank you Gabriella and Lee and family for making this truly a special occasion.

What a perfect place for a private party.  I think they can handle as many as 40 people but it was perfect for my party at just less than 30.  There was room for the belly dancer to dance, for the guests to mingle and for me to dance around like a teenager.

At one point in the evening, I was playing with my iPhone and a glass splinter pierced my finger bringing me an unexpected jolt of pain.  Noticing this moment of discomfort, after the splinter was removed and without prompting, Gabriella went back into the restaurant to retrieve some rubbing alcohol and some bandages for me to cleanse and cover my wound.  Where else in the world would you get such caring attentive service? 

I can only recommend Gabriella’s Place with the highest enthusiasm.  And if you are contemplating a private party affair with around 30-40 people, I’m certain you will be just as happy as I am.  And you will thank me for my review and post one yourself. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Y is pronounced “yee” and not “why”

What an unusual name of a person - to have only one letter representing your name.  Well, at the very least, it makes it easy to spell.  “Y” is the name of a person who I admire and respect - who works as a floor supervisor at BeBe Tailors in Hoi An, Vietnam.  She is charged as one of a half dozen supervisors at the three Hoi An BeBe locations in ratifying the decisions of the staff as they attend to the needs of tourists and other visitors.  These are mostly individuals who have travelled from foreign lands to enjoy the exotic beauty of Hoi An while simultaneously commissioning the custom tailoring of dresses, blouses, shirt, suits, coats or anything else that can be made of their quality fabrics and materials.  She is the final word, the expert, the experienced authority, the sage.  Her astuteness and powers of observation are acute and instantaneous. Her understated pronouncements and refinements are always accurate and precise.

I can think of few parallels between my life and hers but one that comes to mind is worthy of contrasting.  As a newborn intensive care doctor, I ran around the intensive care unit from bed to bed, assessing each babies condition, deciding on a course of action and making swift decisions in management. Some of those decisions required thought and no action, but mostly required adjustments in breathing machine settings, medications, changes in fluid management, placement of tubes or catheters in various locations and/or calling upon other experts to provide their input and consultation.  But this was not done in isolation.  There were dozens upon dozens of babies to simultaneously manage. 

Running from bedside to beside, keeping track of each baby’s situation, dealing with the various crises of the day simulates an atmosphere much like a circus, with multiple shows taking place simultaneously.  The chaos and cacophony that is present is unnerving. I ran around intently and unswervingly, serious and focused, and poised for action.  This was serious business and there was little time for levity. I expected everyone to jump when I said jump.  I took myself very seriously. The truth is that most took me as a maniac of sorts, nobody wanted to contest my authority.  Type A personality doesn’t do justice to the demeanor and directive behavior displayed.  It was all the serious business of life and death.

Contrast this to Y – so back to BeBe.  The procession of clients in the change room area consisted of a series of adjoining stalls with movable curtains to provide partial privacy when changing. Each customer was attended by a series of attendants to get things done.  Y would enter the area and float effortlessly from shopper to shopper; the attendants would cede to her presence and authority.  Demure and imperceptible, she would rapidly diagnose what was needed for the next alteration, as she tugged and pulled on the garment here and there.  The attendants would scurry around supporting Y’s lead and directives. Then magically her famous chalk would appear – striking the garment with strokes at strategic locations to guide the tailor in his/her next iteration. Sometimes she would strike so many marks, it felt like she was drawing a picture.  Other times, she would pull out thread and needle, and attack the garment with stitches to reshape it to more perfectly fit the body of the customer.

Invariably she would start with one customer and move to another and then back to the first.  There was no apparent rhyme or reason to her movement but it was done with intent and purpose, grace and fluidity.  There was little drama and Y’s comforting approach, her quiet manner and her non-intrusive method made her nearly invisible.  Customers quickly realized her expertise and took comfort in her opinions and recommendations. It was if she was brilliantly conducting an orchestra. Contrast this to the lurching, aggressive, demonstrative, and in your face conduct that yours truly displayed in the intensive care unit.  

People like Y are rare in the world. Hard working, competent, non-intrusive, demure and understated. But to also be a natural born leader, liked and respected by those working under your rule, to exude subdued expertise and confidence, and to demonstrate the attributes of a positive role model for others to follow is a rare combination of talents.