An 808 way of life



Walter White would be thinking intergalatic.




Walter White would have been astounded at the chemistry.



Walter White would use the trick on the treaters.



Walter White did ask, “WTF????”



Walter White would have asked, “why … really?”



Walter White would question his contract.



Walter White would have asked the artist to cease and desist.



Walter White would be so very upset over this ink job!



Walter White would have been appalled!



Walter White would ask, “where did find my Legos?”



Walter White would say, “let them eat cake!”



Walter White would be a little off for the day.



Walter White would be confused.



Walter White would be proud.



Walter White would be proud.


Spheres of control – determination as the driver

say-my-nameNarcissists can be huge performers in their careers because their inflated sense of self-importance drives them onward and upward. The sense of determination to prove to the world they are indeed important is ever present. In their wake is an interpersonal explosion stemming from the exploitation of others. The wave extends higher based on the belief that they are  “special” and unique. Naturally then “they” can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people. Sound familiar?

The world is their audience, and everyone they meet—and everything that happens—is centered on them. If Target had a spokesperson – it would be him.

They are drawn to careers that allow them to receive the attention and power they crave, and to exert influence over others, reinforcing their perceived self-importance. Unfortunately, the same holds true for the psychopath. When in a position of authority, now determined more than ever, “he” becomes a dictator, obsessed with control and power, incensed when someone fails to carry out his instructions to the letter.

Determination, as a variation of a person’s will to live, is what drove Walter White to death — in a literal sense. Can we learn from what we observed? Does life beyond the digital bandland exist?

Spheres of control and persuasion

kingPersuasion is a symbolic process in which communicators try to convince other people to change their attitudes or behaviors regarding an issue – or a carefully crafted argument whose internal previews coerce belief. Persuasion is the next best thing when fulminated mercury can’t get the job done. For Walter White, his primary tools of persuasion were blackmail, lying and the astute ability to call someone’s bluff by utilizing game theory to configure, and thus understand, their options. He’s brilliant when he utters a momentous line: “If you could kill me, you would have already.”

The blissfully ignorant are simply unaware of the “bad sides” of the narcissist. They look the other way, or pretend that the narcissist’s behavior is normative, or turn a blind eye to his egregious misbehavior. They are classic deniers of reality. In a feat of cognitive dissonance, they deny any connection between the acts of the narcissist and their consequences. Are there consequences? Certainly. Is it profound? Yes, in many ways. Regrettably, the narcissist rarely pays the price for his offenses. His victims pick up the tab.

Spheres of control — only one has proprietary knowledge

egoThe narcissist may study a given subject diligently and in great depth in order to impress people later with this newly acquired erudition. But, having served its purpose, the narcissist lets the knowledge thus acquired evaporate. The narcissist maintains a sort of a “short-term” cell or warehouse where he stores whatever may come handy in the pursuit of narcissistic supply, i.e., attention. But he is almost never really interested in what he does, studies, and experiences. Please re-read that last sentence and repeat after me – Wilco tango foxtrot! What does this suggest?

Walter White was able to leverage his power because he kept his information proprietary. It’s the reason he killed Gale Boetticher, and the very reason he hung Jesse out to dry when he was sent down to Mexico to cook for the cartel.

“What? You didn’t read your email?!”


Spheres of control – the power of discipline


The normal person is likely to welcome a moderate amount of attention – verbal and non-verbal – in the form of affirmation, approval, or admiration. Too much attention, though, is perceived as onerous and is avoided. Destructive and negative criticism is avoided altogether.

The narcissist, in contrast, is the mental equivalent of an alcoholic. He is insatiable. He directs his whole behavior, in fact his life, to obtain these pleasurable titbits of attention. He embeds them in a coherent, completely biased, picture of himself. He uses them to regulate his labile sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

To elicit constant interest, he projects to others a confabulated, fictitious version of himself, known as the false self. The false self is everything the narcissist is not: omniscient, omnipotent, charming, intelligent, rich, or well-connected. Does this require discipline? You betcha. A blue-million pounds of discipline.

Spheres of control – and the power to drive it

Power_scrubResearchers found that people who score high in narcissism tend to take control of leaderless groups. The definition of group could be one, 110 or eight. Again, the construct is complex. However, the overt and distasteful trait most visible is an exaggerated sense of self-worth. Possessing ample talents and abilities, the Achilles heel is a lack empathy for others.

Power and narcissism is a melding of overconfidence guided by a self-centered GPS. “Have you forgotten, no one else can do it!”

And while narcissists are more likely to become leaders, results of a Harvard medical study suggests that, once in power, narcissists don’t perform any better than others in that leadership role. Rather than leading, the narcissist becomes a boss whose envy for others is subtle. Underpinnings associated with envy rap hard at the door of those who have what they don’t, who are skilled at what they are not, who can feel what they don’t, and who are happy just being themselves.

Does change ever occur? No, not really. They love the image of themselves.

Spheres of control – wealth paves the way to grandiosity

HeisenbergMillions (hundreds of millions) of people connect wealth with the belief that it provides security and protection. Factually stated, wealth and the pursuit of money is for many people, proof of security. And for many more millions of people, wealth buys happiness (or at least it opens up a world of potential happiness).

The sphere of control as it extends from a monetary front creates a multi-faceted and complex construct. It bolsters the sense of entitlement. Meaning, as a person’s level of privilege rises, that person becomes increasingly self-focused – in a sense, becoming the center of their own world and worldview.

The outcropping most associated with this construct is an arrogantly superior and disdainful disposition. One that is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, and brilliance. Underscoring any one word only means that all words are underscored.

Walter White would be proud.

Spheres of control – and the evolution of life – existence

green_vortexThe meek shall inherit the earth but the wise man knows he does not get to decide how long he lives. Certainly we can control when we pass, but no one can control how long we walk this planet. The right to life is a temporary hall pass and we all return to dust in the wind. So why do we operate as though we can control life itself or the people around us? Is control a method by which we gain comfort over the stresses of life? Does it produce a smooth path on which we can tread?

Psychologists who study human behavior will often make the statement that domination is an illusion and fleeting at best. Anthropologists believe, generally speaking, that domination is the faulty backbone of a self-righteousness man (or woman). In essence, the type of person who displays moral superiority intertwined with narcissistic behaviors. It’s complicated, detached, and is derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. Unlike clothing, this isn’t something you outgrow. It’s connected like an appendage. For anyone with an objective lens, it’s nothing more than a Walter White fantasy being played out down the hallway in some planetary sphere we call the corner.


After a few days, I look like I’m a resident of Maui.


What do you see?

I ditched my bag lunch for something better today. Yep.


This is looking like a nice new ride.

2011 Christmas Holiday Photo Recap

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10 Fat Reasons to Avoid the Holiday Overload.

Ten of these are reason enough to avoid them. Eat sensibly over the Holidays.

Santa of yesteryear. Some year huh.

Bacon is a food group for millions of people worldwide.

Kim Jung il posts record visits from his grave.

Some time ago I blasted the evil doer, Kim Jung il, for all of his wrong doings – including the massacre of millions of people in his country. Not to mention the antics associated with nuclear missiles aimed at Hawai’i. (In that instance, the US promptly test fired a little warning shot out into the Pacific to ‘clear the air’ so to speak.) Kim’s ills chilled for a brief bit.

My posts encouraged a deeper dive into the mess behind North Korea’s shanonsense (pronounced: sha-non-sense). As the world turns, Kim dies. Thankfully. My posts, however, are still alive.

Yesterday, my site was visited by a record number of unique visitors – 5,659 to be exact. Crazy I say, just crazy. When you view the stat bar, it tracks along with a steady but basically flat line of visitors … and then we have a spike upward and then back downward. It looks like a bird being flicked from Kim Jung-dead at my posts! HA! Whatever. I’m glad the dude is dead and Kim Jung young-un is now in command. He’ll either turn dema-commie or be killed himself. The fun begins again. Word up. 

Pearl Harbor ignited a fire. America made sure it was extinguished. God bless America.

Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i: external view while upon the Arizona Memorial. FREEDOM isn’t FREE.

Finally, my new car is in working order – with the proper “DA” Euro tag and fire breathing pipes.

December and Holiday parties; please be careful with consumption. Drive sober or get pulled over.

Word to the wise.

Portion control is a bigger issue than this photo. Smaller plates equal smaller servings. Unless of course you go back for seconds.

The Whole Foods Shift – Four Weeks Later.

If you asked me what ‘whole foods’ meant – roughly five weeks ago – I would have said, “a supermarket with some nifty prepared foods that cost more but are real tasty.” Today, I have an entirely different definition. Radically different. We’ve watched: Food Matters (2x), The Beautiful Truth (2x), Food, Inc, Forks over Knives (3x), and read a BUNCH of articles online – along with 12 or so books (cookbooks, etc.).

To save some time, here is my CliffsNotes version of what I learned: Everything we eat has an effect on our health. Our food determines the quality of our blood, which affects our cells, tissues, organs, and even our minds. When we eat healthy foods, we strengthen our bodies. When we eat foods without nutritional value, we weaken our bodies. Choosing foods that supply us with adequate vitamins and minerals is essential to our well-being. Whole foods are foods in their most complete state; they are unrefined and do not contain harmful chemicals and additives which damage our bodies. Incorporating whole foods into our daily diets enables our bodies to become strong and healthy. Once we are physically healthier, we can begin to live a more vibrant, full life.

Eating whole foods is challenging. I don’t mean in the physical eating sense, I mean in the gathering, preparing sense. Earth Fare, our current local version of Whole Foods, Inc., serves us well. It accelerated the process of finding organics and packaged products with fewer than five ingredients.

The other piece to the challenge … getting rid of the crap hiding in the pantry! You’ll find a photo below where some food items are spread out over a small table. Those items represented roughly 60% of what was in our pantry. Many of the items in the photo might seem healthy – but the labels tells a different story. If you laugh you’ve probably got the same issue in your pantry – or worse – you’ve talked yourself into believing your eating habits are nutritional.

I interact with more than 100 people per week and only one or two of them eat whole foods. I’ve not taken a poll, but I believe we’re probably the only ones eating a whole foods diet three meals per day. Every day.

The mental highway we’ve traveled over the past five week landed us in a good space. Again, it’s not vegan, vegetarian, Gerson, or raw foodism. It’s a blend that works for us. Dairy is now limited to organic cheese. Milk was replaced with almond milk. Beef with ahi. Chicken is organic – so is the turkey. Vegetables abound and are organic. Processed foods are avoided. Cereals are organically sprouted and oatmeal is steel cut. Sweeteners are now honey or nothing. It’s a change – for sure. Food tastes different – and the texture is different. Much like anything in life, the first encounters may not be 100% what you’d expect – but knowing it’s good for you enlivens the flavor and the experience.

I’m really proud of my wife. She’s gone the extra mile to learn and to help both of us adapt to this major life change. She’s also the chef who configures new dishes in hopes they “stick.” HA! Make no mistake, it’s a significant life change – and it will require attention, care and feeding (no pun intended). You could liken it to a relationship. Thankfully I’m sharing the journey with my sweetie — a whole foods chick. Bak-bak.

Portion control and food control – if you only knew what’s going on behind the scenes.

Food, Inc. is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner.The film examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, in a way that is environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees. The film is narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser.

This film caused me to re-think most every meal I consumed from 1980 to present. Beef and poultry as we know it (today) are NOT healthy. Period. Food, Inc. tells the true story behind poultry and beef production. Chickens raised in a grow-out houses (injected with ?, and fed questionable grain) are not a healthy food choice. Beef production is horrifically bad and processed beef scares me. Shock and awe worked. Food, Inc. arrested our attention and we heard the message. Yes, we heard the message, and we decided to take action.

Twenty minutes ago my wife cleared the pantry of processed foods, and cleared out almost half of what was stored in the refrigerator. The remaining items contain 5 ingredients or less. 

Ok then. We’re not vegan but we’re eating vegan dishes. We’re not vegetarians but we’re eating vegetarian dishes. We’re not whole food Nazis either but we’re eating whole foods as if we live on a farm (from the early 1900’s before chemical companies took over the food industry). We switched to organic poultry, seiten, and ahi (wild caught), and organic turkey breast.

In summary, sourcing truly healthy foods is challenging. This type of transformation means we are reading labels, and taking time to research questionable ingredients. It also means we’ll review scientific data behind food claims, all of which are interesting. We believe we’re on a better path forward. Let’s hope so. More so than ever, we believe you are what you eat.

Connect the dots. First count the black ones.

When in doubt, get out of the water. Run far, far away. Really far. And run some more just for good measure.

I took the car this morning. I’m glad I took the car this morning.

I’m not sure we’re overcrowding the planet. Certain parts of space – yes. Sometimes even my personal space. When in doubt, move out.

Overcrowded. Overshadowed. Over here. Over there. No wonder so many people live in fear.

Diabetes: do we need a cure or cure for the American diet?

Silly is as silly does. A kid-like lifestyle helps dreams come true.

Go dreams go!

October 5 marked the loss of two great people. Steve Jobs and my great aunt, Lucy Talley Dupwe.

When I look around my home, it’s filled with lots of photos of my family.  If the house is on fire, this photo is coming with me. Of all the images I possess, this one photo is very important.

The folks in this photo showed me love, affection, and kindness as youngster. Some of the very best memories of my childhood are connected with them. The three women from left to right – Granny, Momma Sue and Aunt Lucy were so loving and gracious. God bless them all.

Far left – I believe that was Uncle Dee. I didn’t know him. The man to his right is my great grandfather – or Little Daddy, and the lady next to him is Laura Talley (his wife) or Granny. When I think of the house behind them – on Homewood Road in Memphis – well, that was THE place for my summers.

Granny was super laid back. I would sit in her lap for hours – listening to her read the Bible. The fact is, she read the Bible cover to cover at least three times. Need I say more? Next to Granny are two of her children, Sue Avery, or Momma Sue, and Lucy Dupwe, or Aunt Lucy.

Momma Sue was the bomb. She drove a Chevy, had a garden, flew balsa gilders with my sister and me … usually late into the evening during summer. Momma Sue taught me how to fish and gave me the nudge to be creative. I miss her.

Next to her is Aunt Lucy. She was equally as fun. Look at that smile. What do you see? I see a woman who knew how to live. Look at those glasses! I spent a lot of summers at Aunt Lucy and Uncle Floyd’s house. Jonesboro was far away but there was a milk shake stop along the road that had peppermint shakes. What ever happened to that place?

Gosh those are fond memories. Aunt Lucy was like a grandmother to me. I know a lot of people will miss her. Thankfully I am a better person in life because of her love and kindness. I’m one of those people who will miss her.

What else can I say? They all look happy except for Uncle Dee (the man on the far left). He seems to be saying, “take the damn photo and let’s go!”  

Peace be with you Aunt Lucy.


Someday. Some days are something else. Sometimes.

Last time I checked, it’s still raining.

Life above and below the Pacific.

Top 10 ways to know your true wealth. Double down on each.

If you need me, I’ll be out counting fish.

Colorful above and below the water line – that’s how we roll.

Hawai’i we love. The beach is a bonus.

Sunny, green, lush, warm, beautiful, and tropic. Mix in some fruity drinks, soft sand and my sweetie and I’m “all good.”

We love sunsets in Hawai’i. One day we’ll have the pleasure of seeing them month after month!

Aitutaki Lagoon, Cook Islands. Where’s my ticket?

This is just what we need today — a spot with some shade.

Look around and you’ll find what you seek.

Recently I was asked, “where are the people? I thought Hawai’i was crowded with tourists.”

I typically respond with, “you find what you seek. If you travel to Hawai’i to find people, you will find them.” My thought pattern continues with … if you travel to find natural surroundings, raw shoreline, beautiful blue water, lava rock, flowers of every kind, sweet sounding birds, and tasty fish … that’s what you’ll find.

My travels to Hawai’i aren’t about the beach. Sure, I go to the beach (more so at sunset), but I’m much more interested in hiking, walking and exploring. Certainly there are times where I need to move around and actively crop people out of my frame.  But that’s an exception. Cropping people from the frame (or their noise from the HD-mic) is much harder orchestrate at sunset than at any other time of the day.

Early morning is the easiest because most visitors aren’t interested in getting out of bed at 5Am. Shooting midday is fraught with lighting issues – unless you’re under heavy brush or indoors. Either way, finding yourself far away from the masses is a choice.

If you land in Honolulu (Hono-rue-rue), you find six lanes of traffic on BOTH sides of the highway. If you drive downtown you will find a sea of white flesh (yes, mostly Caucasian) and a roar of happiness stemming from a collective notion — “we’re on Waikiki Beach!” Look around and you smell the fatty flesh of tourists. Or, you can choose another route and find a dried red dirt path strewn with Acacia trees … leading far away from masses. Ninety-eight percent of my travels include the later variety.

According to management, we will continue seeking the quiet red dirt path until further notice.


The Devil’s rules will rock the Tour. Someone wasn’t telling the truth about their supplements!

Random cuteness for the week.

Tuesday makes everyone hesitate (MEH). “Is it Friday yet?”

We competed. We endured. We Won. Yes, Caroline Can!

We raced for Caroline today.

We kicked ass.

We won.

Caroline won.

Everyone won.

It was a good day.

Emily, Alex and I won the relay division (and that’s kewl). More than 1,400 people were competing today. Overall, our time placed us 60th out of 518 in the Olympic length triathlon. My individual cycling time (for a 40K) was 1:01:34 – which was 21st out of the 518 (ranking me 21st behind twenty guys under thirty years of age – all of which are pro athletes). Yep, we brought our “A” game.

Enjoy the images. I can assure you, EVERYONE enjoyed this REV3 even.  Ride oneth.

The Diamond was shining today.


Yep. The weather was beautiful and warm. The photo for today was taken on top of Diamond Head and the view from atop is 360° with nothing to obstruct your view. I took this shot looking down on Waikiki and you clearly see Honolulu looming like the major city she is – and then some.

Pigs in a blanket made sense to me. This is beyond comprehension.

The Greatest Threat To Our Children’s Health: Diabetes.

Lead by example. Right?

Canned goods “gettin’ gooder!”

Nurse them with something refreshing. A Coke and a smile!

Are two patties better than one? Does a 32 ounce “cola” make sense?

Rest breaks brought to you by Charmin. Hand washing brought to you by Brawny. Only in America.

Sugarland is supported by the Feds. Can you say fat and happy?

Only in America.

Flowers love the beach. So do we.

She never used dehyrated water and never drank Kool-Aid.

Water stored the old fashioned way: dehydrated.

Jojo’s cuz is at Mardi Gras. Pics just in.

The mirror doesn’t lie.

Random sightings from the world around me: FIVE

Random sightings from the world around me: THREE

Random sightings from the world around me: TWO

Random sightings from the world around me: ONE

Service reminder: service is important. So is proofing.

Bike Porn: can you say frigid?

The new Canon 7D is here! The new Canon 7D is here! And the depth of field is oh so near? Wow.

New Year’s Eve celebration of numbers: 2010 and 18.

From the lanai of our condo the grass is green, the Pacific is blue and the breezes – oh, those are warm too.

Christmas Eve 2010: Wedding Images

The last book I read: “Why redheads are Jesus freaks.”

Four years, one hundred and three days ago I had dinner with the author of this book. Fictionally speaking of course. The dinner was nice – a tad bumpy – but ended with a hug and ‘friendly’ kiss. I wasn’t convinced then, but I am now, that redheads are Jesus freaks. I know, I’m about to marry one. Figuratively speaking of course.

Four years is just about the right amount of time to wait … to marry. When I met Amy I was given some advice from a cousin whom I call an aunt who said, “live at least one season of life with her (Amy) and then you’ll know.” I decided to live four years of four seasons. To make sure – that she is sure (HA!).  I once commented that if we’re still dating after four years will you be around … and her response, “probably not.” Then again, this is the same woman who would have turned and ran if I met her with a half-sleeve tat. Or, if upon meeting her kids that I would have suggested, much less encouraged, that we watch Dog the Bounty Hunter as a family unit (NOTE for the ‘other’ parents: it’s an educational show!).

Fast-forward the TIVO box. In March of this year I traveled to Moloka’i, Hawai’i for some recon work. I leveraged my spring break visit to Moloka’i as means for surveying the island as a possible wedding destination and/or honeymoon location. After my first full day on the island, I was convinced I would marry my Jesus freak on this island in the middle of the Pacific.

Upon my return home I mentally bookmarked the experience, but didn’t do anything. I mean, I thought about the idea and kicked it around in my head  – but that was all.

Ask yourself the question, why get married?

Over the past few months when mentioning the topic (of marriage) to friends and colleagues, most often I received a simple response – why? Typically the follow-up question is, “how many couples do you know who are truly happy.” Sure, we all know couples who appear to be happy, but which ones are faking it?

Marriage counselors and therapists often define “good relationships” as being “good” 50% of the time (together). Define “good” however you wish.  Recently I read somewhere that divorcees who do not remarry within two years of the “decree” are 87% less likely to marry again in their lifetime.

Ok then – why? If you know, tell me.

Honestly, these bits of interaction have been stumbling blocks to my thought process.

In late July I traveled to north Georgia for a speaking gig and had the opportunity to break bread with some colleagues within the professor ranks.  During the course of dinner each of us took time to share life stories. When it was my turn, I’m not sure what happened but I blurted out, “I’m getting married at Christmas in Hawai’i.” A hearty congratulatory round of cheers was followed with, “give us some details.”

I had a sketch but no details. I told the group that I hadn’t proposed, I didn’t have a ring and I wasn’t going to ask my girlfriend to marry me until we arrived on the island of Moloka’i. I basically said, “I’m going to propose on the first night and suggest that we marry while staying there.”

The responses immediately fell into two camps:

Camp A: Wow – that’s very romantic.
Camp B: Why?

The facial expressions were priceless. Half the group gave me the “you’re crazy” look backed with a dazed you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-eye-roll.

Camp A (mostly women) smiled (beaming) as if to say, “we approve.”

The leader of the group basically said, “that gave me goose bumps. I’m going to call my husband when I get back to the room and tell him your story.”

Yeah, it gave me goose bumps too.  I felt like I got married at dinner and I hadn’t answered the “why” question.

Press pause on the TIVO box for a moment. Does someone contemplating marriage need to answer the “why” question?


You most certainly do.

If you do not answer the “why” question honestly, you will make a mistake. Trust me on this point. I didn’t answer the “why” question the first time (first marriage) and I made a huge mistake.

Push the TIVO button and zip over to September. In a meeting with my intern group I casually mentioned that I was getting married and the team responded with – “you’re engaged?” My response (literally), “was that a Camp A or Camp B question?” No one understood me so I blurted out, “I’m getting married in Hawai’i at Christmas on the beach – and no I don’t plan on asking her to marry me until we arrive.”

In unison – Camp B facial expressions.

Then the conversation unfolded:

“Have you bought a ring?”


“Why don’t you let her pick it out?”

“It wouldn’t be a surprise.”

“I’ve never heard of such a thing. What about your family and hers …”

“It’s not about them, it’s about us.”

“What if she says no (giggles)?”

“She would say yes today.”’

“Then why don’t you ask her and then get married there?”

Ahh, the “why” question!

My simple response, “because we’re already married – and the ceremony only affirms what we already know.” Then I fielded more Camp B responses. With Pandora’s box open, I had no choice but to cut it off.  I then asked the ladies to Google wedding dresses based on some wedding photos I found (beach weddings taken on Kaua’i and Moloka’i).

You guessed it. Major Camp B responses. You’re going to select her wedding dress?!?!?! The looks included a touch of WTF, BTW.

In order to keep this post somewhat readable I’ll summarize by saying this: the intern group was engaged as the official wedding planners after I shared the “why” (which I’ll do later in this post).

In the back of my head one thought emerged, “where’s my jet pack?”

Zip the remote and review the footage from October. On my birthday all the interns took me to lunch. A few of them went along just to meet my girlfriend and others to consume margaritas. I was there to celebrate another year of life. The wedding planners were there to ensure the dress size was correct, and to execute recon work related to style.

Late in October I focused on rings, event wedding planners and process. My checklist grew from a few simple to-dos to an all-out event list. Think about it. What does it take to execute a wedding? A location, a place to honeymoon, a minister or JOP, a license, music, a photographer, flowers, witness(es), Champagne, cake, etc. Seriously, the list is substantive. I could spend countless paragraphs sharing the details of event planner selection, dresses, rings, my clothes, the flower choices, photography stylists, etc. Just rest assured, all details were covered (except one, and I’ll get to that in a minute).

Zip the TIVO box to early December and the intern event planners review the actual dress, they survey the clothes I intend on wearing, the wedding planner’s flower selection, the beach/locational images, the actual rings (no one was allowed to wear it; they observed), the watch … and my ring. My ring? Well, yes …. I realized that on short notice Amy wouldn’t have a ring to give me, so I bought one for the occasion. The inscription reads, “Me Ke Aloha * Moloka’i * 12/24/10.” Me ke aloha translates to, with love.

Let’s focus on the “why” for a moment.

Why? Here’s why: Amy is the best friend I’ve ever had in my life. Really. She’s loving and kind – not in a motherly way but in a partnering way. She tolerates me and let’s me figure out that I’m wrong when I’m wrong.

Amy doesn’t yell at me. Ever. She doesn’t pick fights and rarely is miffed about anything.

She’s got my back (I’ve got hers too).

She’s very kewl.  How many girlfriends – or wives – or friends do you know that would get out of bed at midnight and drive to the airport to jumpstart your dead battery? I only know one person.

Amy doesn’t do drama, sagging hearts or deliver bullshit when she’s wrong. She doesn’t ever turn the tables.

Amy is ready to go with or without the makeup. No kidding. You can actually touch her hair when she’s gussied up.

She’s perfectly willing to get on the scooter and motorpace me in the rain. Truth.

Amy is smart and intelligent. When in doubt don’t Google it, ask Amy. As a financier, her numerical and statistical aptitude is surpassed only by her ginormous vocabulary, grammatical skills and knowledge, and her literary knowledge. Whew.

On the other hand, she understands what duct tape and a Leatherman make. A toolbox.

She is kind and loving with her children. Naturally it’s one of the reasons why they are such great kids (the other is that their dad is a good father).

Amy is mentally tough and resilient. When pressure mounts, she stays cool.

There is never any pressure to do, go, get or buy. In fact, we both can drive Benzes and certainly we can afford “the house” – but she and I both agree, why?

Amy tolerates me listening to Hawaiian music every day.  When I’m home that’s the music that we live our lives by … Aloha. The Hawaiian quilt she’s been working on for the past 18 months+ was started because I asked her to consider it.  Amy didn’t start with a pillowcase. Nope, she started with a king-sized quilt of Hawaiian breadfruit (the traditional starting point for Hawaiian women – otherwise knows as the beginning).

Every morning we hug and kiss – and she always says, “have a good day, I’ll call you later.” And she does exactly that. She reaches out. Amy actually makes the whole process of “relating” easy. It’s void of fussy interaction.  Amy sees the bright side of life and the glass is nearly full all the time.

She likes vintage Five-O, and even though she’s fair skinned (with red hair) she loves the beach, the hikes, the lava, and the Sandwich Islands as much as I do (this is our third trip and our fourth is planned for March of 2011).

Amy is everything I ever dreamed of in a mate. Our inner sanctum is our own. We respect that and each other. She doesn’t ever bandwagon when others kid me. In fact, she’s not too keen on people funning around to test our relationship.

I’m inspired being with her. My heart is lifted and my days (and nights) are brighter. When you add it up (Forrest Gump said it best): “we goes together like peas and carrots.”

Let’s answer why? Because I truly love Amy. Because I have her trust; she has mine.

Get this, I have the “relational license” to plan a secret wedding without her knowledge and know that she’ll say “yes.”  How many women do you know that would be thrilled? I know of only one – and I am moved by that woman.

So, if you’re not doing anything on Christmas Eve, we’ve got lots of room in our palace and on the beach. BTO.

PS – I forgot to share the one item I didn’t snag and ship in advance: a strapless bra. I looked in her storage area but didn’t find one. This is a significant oversight, but I believe we can procure such a garment in town later this week.

PSS – do not call her, she’ll reach out in due time. Remember, this is a surprise.

From here to there on my deck.

Sometimes our message hits home.

If you ask the average college student about their career aspirations, you’ll hear a range of answers. Some of which are expected. On a rare occasion you’ll obtain an answer that is refreshingly honest – along the lines of, “I don’t know!”

When I have the opportunity to stand up and share my personal chapter and verse, I cut through the fluff, the pomp and the circumstance. My story is usually brief, “I was kicked out of UTK and now, after 11 years teaching at a college level, I’m making a difference. And no, I’m not enrolled in a work release program.”

College students of my era weren’t blessed with outsider views. Academia was the only view we witnessed on a daily basis. My 1984 collegiate window was small, inwardly focused and while optimistic, it was clouded because the real-world was blocked.

Looking in the rear view mirror – thousands of miles later, 78 speeding tickets later, five agencies later, five cities later … I know my life would have evolved differently had someone taken the opportunity to share their story. Ergo the reason I do so today.

Would life be different? Would my career path have changed courses? What if?

Given the opportunity, I stand up and share the good, the bad  and the not-so-obvious. Had someone told me to define my “A Plan,” I would have chuckled because I didn’t have a “B Plan nor a C Plan.” I had a get-a-job-plan. Funny how life scares you into making decisions.

What I want to know is what I need to know now – that stems from I’m going to know when I’m 70.

Ha! Sometimes the message hits home.

Pali Pass – and it’s VERY windy there. O’ahu has it all.

Pacific waves rolling on my favorite spot: Hawai’i. Aloha.

Pali pass: even 5-O knows this danger spot.

Valley of the Kings – Waipio Valley

Hawaiian firecrackers are lava red.

Two plants are commonly known as the firecracker flower. The first, Crossandra infundibuliformis is a decorative shrub native to India and Sri Lanka but grown as a decorative plant throughout warm regions around the world. It sometimes is called crossandra when paired with the blossom’s color, such as the yellow crossandra or orange crossandra. Dichelostemma ida-maia, a red wildflower native to Hawaii, northern California and Oregon, is referred to as the firecracker flower. Typically these are seen in or near lava beds with moderate levels of moisture and continuous sunlight. The camera likes these flowers a lot – enjoy.

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world. ~John Muir

Hawaiian sunset – Moloka’i style: what you see is the proper setup … cooler, music, chair, location (ahh, location).

What problem? I thought we rid ourselves of those?

When we look at the cards we’re dealt – in life – or on a daily basis, we make a choice as to the reaction or action we take based on the situation at hand. Believe it or not, there are those around us who hope the reaction is a painful one … in a small, or possibly a significant way. Rather than building and extending rapport, they seek to tear down any hint of a foundation of rapport.

When this happens, it leaves us feeling diminished and angry, because here’s what they’re passively expressing: “I don’t regard you as capable of resolving this issue with me,” or “I’m uncomfortable sharing my real feelings with you,” or “You and your feelings don’t matter here,” and “It’s easier (on me) to forfeit this connection and disappear, than to muster the courage I need to repair it.” I’m not sure if this is any consolation, but they’re showing you how they were treated and abandoned growing up, and unresolved childhood issues are always repeated in adulthood.

Yes, people do want to hurt others and they seek out opportunities to negatively affect their success in life. They seek to negatively impact the lives of folks they dislike or those that are in their way. Throw in an avoidance mindset (for conflict resolution) and you have a very nasty gathering.

For many people, the thought of conflict-resolution is a road block to deeper relationships that provide more enjoyment and satisfaction in life. However, the average person typically doesn’t accept the fact that they share in the problem. People who avoid such situations tend to strengthen the conflict and block true progress.

Some psychologists suggest that passive-aggressive behavior is an outcropping of childhood trauma and stressful parental relationships. I’m no psychologist, but I agree. Avoidance behavior is one of the defenses that’s associated with narcissism. Narcissistic individuals lack authentic ego strength, and this core deficit makes it nearly impossible for them to acknowledge their flaws or failings. They may be quick to point out your shortcomings, but confronting their own invokes intolerable levels of shame and self-loathing.

People will tell you who they are and I firmly suggest you believe them. When someones says, “I’m just not a good person,” LISTEN.

Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity. ~John Ruskin

Hawai’i: another day, another path leading the right way. Some people need to find a path like this and chill. That means you.

A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking. ~Earl Wilson

The ocean is a mighty harmonist. — William Wordsworth

Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think. ~Robert Henri

A Coke and a smile mean the dog days of summer are still rolling. Yeah.

“When words escape, flowers speak.” – Bruce W. Currie

Hawaiian Honu: relax, all is well.

Splashing around at sunset. Moloka’i-style.

Inland for the day. Yes, there is a beach nearby.

If you look really closely you’ll see the ‘crowd’ on the beach. Beach, sand, lava, waves. Crowded.

Nuaailua Bay. Google it (really).

“….let’s go…..”

SPF. A good thing. Even those days when all you need is 15.

Open your eyes. Really. Open your eyes.

“Its marvelous what you can see
when you open your eyes.”

For those “rock stars” – some pigs are more equal than others. Can you say “nose in trough?”

Barking food cures the growls.

HWY 129, me in my element, contemplating Tour highlights. What a day.

Tour de France: it ends soon (on TV). It lives on forever (especially on DVD).

Little Gasparilla: take your SPF, you’ll need it.

Little Gasparilla: another sunrise, another sunset – another memory.

Little Gasparilla: more things to ponder.

Little Gasparilla: shark teeth, bones and such. My take for the week.

Little Gasparilla, Florida. They threwn in the pillows to make it more comfy.

Little Gasparilla: nothing little about the sunrise – from our house.

Gasparilla: another day, another way to relax. What do you see?

Gasparilla: red sky at night.

Gasparilla: sunshine sunrise. Did we say sunny?

“It is the nature of the strong heart, that like the palm tree it strives ever upwards when it is most burdened.” Sir Philip Sidney

The truth will set you free – if you can listen to both sides of truth.

Do you see two sides of the story – or just one side of the equation? When you hear negative commentary about someone do you assume the worst? Let’s say the person who told you something has some kind “proof” to substantiate their claim. Do you listen to what they say about that person and buy into the thinking?

This routine of information processing leads to errors in judgment. It can lead you to think that the person (in question) must be a horrible person.

Or, are you a bit more mature and wise in your view of people and take the input as just part of the story. Do you try to find out both sides of the story before making judgments?

While I believe I am usually a good judge of character, there are times where I miss the mark because I’m not listening to both sides of the equation. More often than note, I view both sides before I make a mental picture about a situation, an outcome or a person. I’ve learned the hard way that looking at all sides tends to provide a clearer view about the realities before me.

I look at both people. I look at what has been said and done – then I decide what is right.

I wish more people could do the same thing. Remember, there will be times in your life when you others to listen to both sides … including your own.

Peace out.

Ever imagine what the beach looks at all day long?

BP had best figure out a new game plan. There is no place to hide.

There is a growing concern across the world about BP. I suggest they don’t look to social media (for now). Rather, look at the plunge of the stock price and how many board members are opting to resign. Shall I go on? For now I am the only person professing the irony of BP’s purchase of the beloved “Gulf Oil” brand two decades ago. Think about it: BP bought Gulf Oil. Fast forward, its decisions are interesting. I mean, it was their drilling rig. Right?

Suggestion: if you can drill 5,000′ for oil then you had best be in a position to turn if off on command.

I believe the rest of the oil industry is now ‘on notice.’ We need you – but I can assure you the world is changing its tune.

One of the few brands that I truly value, Porsche, introduced the 918 with a definitive German flag proving high MPG is on the horizon.

Nuf said. Did I hear boycott anyone? Anyone?

BP Oil tragedy. Think about this fact: BP bought Gulf Oil. Now wrap that around your spinning wheel.

See it, heat it, cool it – seer it.

My new 4-ton, 13 SEER Carrier was installed on Tuesday. The check was hefty but the cooling ability was worth the investment. The existing 15-year old Rheem unit was 10 SEER at the evaporator coil and 7-8 SEER at the compressor. These were not enough to track the house toward iceberg temps that I desire in the summer months. Because the old unit wouldn’t hold a charge I knew it was time.

Out with the old – in with the new.

The new unit is visible nice – it’s new. It inserted nicely where the old unit was positioned so it buckles well to the heating unit. And it COOLS! Whew. I turned the thermostat to 68 and the air at the vent was 54 with 79% humidity. Eventually the humidity dropped to the mid-50’s. Now the house is super-duper chilled.

Next? The roof.

Advertising gone wrong. Lack of funds is usually a lack of “d” and “s” (dollars and sense).

Google has some surprising answers. You just have to know the long-tail entry to find the answers.

Kaua’i, Hawai’i – just an image of the day.

Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day. ~W. Earl Hall

“Grace is the absence of everything that indicates pain or difficulty, hesitation or incongruity.” William Hazlitt

The soul never thinks without a mental picture.

It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. ~Tom Brokaw

We acquire the strength we have overcome. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

When the sun sets each day, depending on your view, it’s either beautiful or not. It’s really dependent on your view – literally and figuratively.

The past is a good place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

You are the music while the music lasts. ~T.S. Eliot

Happiness is where you find it.

Nearing 4Pm I realized the day had been the typical blur – and my mind raced ahead to the County Clerk’s office where a small, tiny decal awaited my check. The only ‘thing’ in my way was the distance between the office and the Clerk’s office just 18 miles away. The sun was shining – the birds chirping – the blue sky was clear – the clouds few and puffy white – the music a little sweeter – the inevitable Firerock Pale beckoning my tastebuds.

All was good.

Within five miles of the office the traffic slowed to a 5mph crawl. I knew something was up – but I had no idea how bad or what it was. The clock ticked away slowly at first and when the hand touched 4:15 I knew that the Clerk’s office would be closed if and when I arrived.

As I opened the sun roof of my car (I rarely do that) I felt the sun on my face, the wind in my hair and smelled the cigarette smoke from a man smoking in the car next to me. For an instance I thought, “how dare you ruin this moment” – but I continued to smile. Sure I was annoyed. But what could I do?

Stop for a moment.

Have you ever stepped up to the bathroom sink, reached for the toothpaste and squeezed the tube but nothing was left in it? At that moment you either threw it down in anger or shrugged your shoulders and brushed without the paste … or found another tube somewhere hidden under the sink.

No matter – it was what we decided that determined how we felt and in doing so it attracted more of what we felt.

Back to the drive home, I shrugged my shoulders and said aloud, “toothpaste.” I then laughed. I raced, mentally ahead in wonderment of what lay ahead at the dreaded intersection of Topside Road and Alcoa Highway. It’s notorious for accidents – and I’ve witnessed more than 10 at that location over the years.

Nearing the intersection I could see that we were being diverted onto Topside – and that seemed odd until I saw three fire trucks and countless police cruisers. THP had a video camera set up and was filming the extraction of ‘bodies’ from a car. A pickup truck was in the northbound lane – smashed and lifeless. Police were allowing northbound lane traffic to pass single file but nothing was going south.

As our single file lane neared the intersection I saw a black bag – then two. My heart sank deep and I realized the crash involved fatalities.

At that moment I was angry, annoyed, happy and a whole bunch of other things all at once. Angry that it happened (isn’t it time that we change the rules of road for that intersection!!!), annoyed that police were on the spot but are no where to be found (daily) when traffic is attempting to turn left onto Alcoa Highway, and happy … well sort of happy …. that I was alive.

The tiny decal for my car’s license plate isn’t that important after all.

What is important is that I appreciate each day as if it were my last.

In that moment I figured out why I’m so damn happy when I’m in Hawai’i. Why I’m so content when I visit – why I’m so eager to return again and again. Why? Because I noticed EVERYTHING and in doing so time slows down and I’m in the moment. I’m into life itself and I soak it up as if I have just a few days to live. I’m in the moment so vividly and clear that I soak up everything – including those things that typically annoy me. But when I’m there (in my paradise) I’m super-happy. Not because it’s Hawai’i, but because I’m living life.

As I turned the corner onto Topside I realized something very, very important: happiness is a state of mind. Either you’re in it. Or you’re not.

I’m in it.


If Paul Harvey were alive, he’d offer the rest of the story:

APRIL 9th, 2010

In a press release, Sgt. Bud Cooper said Jean Smith, 82, of Oak Ridge, and Clara Miller, 75, of Clinton, were killed in the two-vehicle crash.

At 2:50 p.m., Smith, who was driving a 2006 Toyota Camry, was attempting to turn left onto Alcoa Highway northbound from Topside Road when she failed to yield and pulled out in front of a Dodge Ram truck driven by Brandon L. Barnes, 23 of White Pine, Cooper said. Barnes hit the driver’s side door of the Camry.

According to the press release, Smith was killed instantly. Miller was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where she died as a result of injuries from the crash, Cooper said.

Cooper said Barnes was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital and is being treated for his injuries.

End homelessness in Knoxville.

What will it take to truly end homelessness?

No one seems to be sure of an answer. If it were approached the way in which our leaders approach war with other nations, I believe it would end much sooner.

The underlying question with that premise is would it end? I believe that homelessness is a component of human nature that can not and will not end. Ever.

How many of us, as children, wanted to run away from home because of some tragedy or other circumstance that we were experiencing? It could have been a grand parent passing away  – or that we landed ourselves into trouble by tracking the dog in the house. Whatever the case, running away seemed plausible. Naturally we had no where to go – we only had the urge to run. In the brief moments that we thought about the path, we eventually realized we would be displaced from our home. And then, in essence, homeless.

There are thousands of people in this world who are running from something. From themselves. From demons in their neighborhoods – from life itself. I believe that there are thousands more people living in temporary shelters that are equally homeless. Furthermore, there are thousands living in poverty-like conditions – right here in America – who might have a roof overhead, but it’s leaking, the rats consume much of the exposed food and the bugs and filth are pervasive.

“People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes.” Sheila McKechnie

Back to the question: can we end homelessness? The answers — yes, no, maybe, possibly. It depends on the person.

Can we positively impact how homeless people are cared for and improve the community (wherever we live) at the same time? The answers — yes, yes, and yes.

When someone asks you to give of your time, money, resources, possessions or mental capacity to positively impact this ’cause’ just remember the answer to the question – ‘can we end homelessness’ – is dependent on you.

Tattoos gone wrong. Just wrong, wrong, wrong!

Hawaiian tattoos originate somewhere along the coast, and inland. Certainly the views encourage creativity.

Life can be simple. Really simple.