Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hawaii - October/November 2015


Jerry was invited to attend the International Technology Partners Conference. The 150 attendees were primarily semiconductor industry (or related) global company Board Chairmen, CEO's and Presidents. Corporate names that would be familiar are: Intel, Samsung, Hitachi, Honda, Toshiba, Cisco, Nikon. 

Conference Area: Fairmont Hotel, Maui

The conference hosted fabulous dinners providing opportunities to network, socialize and hopefully to generate more business
Getting to Hawaii and dealing with a room issue was a little rough. Our 6:00 AM pick-up was fine. However, we were uncomfortable about the departure gate. American Airlines twice insisted that B157 was the departure gate. "B"stands for Bradley. Normally, we would leave from Terminal 4 with gate numbers in the 40's. 

Although a few A/A flights were scheduled to leave from Bradley later in the day to various Asian cities, there was no indication of our Maui flight.  We soon concluded that our plane had to be departing from Terminal 4. Fortunately, our luggage had wheels and with Terminal 4 not too far from Bradley, we were able to get over to the right Terminal and onto our plane in time.

It was exciting to be back in Hawaii. We found ourselves enveloped in the "Aloha spirit." 

Disembarking passengers were greeted with floral leis. Our rental car was tuned into Hawaii music. At check-in, the hotel greeted us with leis, welcome drinks and a real "Aloooooooha! 

Soft, romantic Hawaii music was playing throughout the hotel property. Soft tropical breezes circulated through the reception area and corridors. The view from the reception area was spectacular: Blue water, swaying palm trees and a few puffy white clouds. 

We thought this was a "WOW" until the porter opened the door to our (almost) 1000 sq. foot suite: Huge bedroom , a living room area, the very large bathroom, wet bar, microwave, small refrigerator, wrap around balcony and yes, of course, the two radios were playing soft and romantic Hawaiian music

Time For A Selfie

We could not be happier until we heard: Drilling, hammering, clumping, clattering, machinery noises and other unfamiliar sounds. It turns out that the hotel was going through a seasonal renovation as were the other hotels. (Our hotel was getting solar installed). 

Phone calls, meeting with the reception staff and meetings with the assistant manager did not help. The hotel was fully booked. Other than possibly moving to a room with twin beds or a room that would be in full sun during most of the day making it impossible to sit on the balcony, we were stuck! Yes, we did get a nice gift basket - wine, fruit, munchies, etc., it still did not help the situation. 

With promises that the work hours would only bet between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM and that the noise would soon subside due to the project was almost finished on or section of the hotel, we poured a stiff rum and coke, grabbed some "goodies" that we got at Cosco (which is next to the Maui airport) and headed to the beach.

Okay. The situation would be tolerable if we stayed out of the room during the "9 to Five" (Thank you Dolly Parton) work hours. And, why should we stay cooped up in our 1000 sq. foot suite when we can enjoy the 85 degree weather?

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Walking To The Beach


The Sea "Take-eth, The Sea "Returnith..."

The most amazing situation occurred while we worked our way through the surf. 

The Hawaiian islands were feeling the effects of the Hurricane that hit Mexico. Waves, while normally small and calm, were rough and turbulent. While in the warm water and looking back at the beach area, a large wave sneaked up from behind and pounded us into the sand. Arlene lost her prescription dark glasses. 

Jerry spent an hour snorkeling trying to find the glasses. No luck! Off to the drug store for clip on dark glasses. 

The following day, Jerry checked with one of the beach attendants to see if (by chance) the glasses turned up. 

24 hours later - Arlene's glasses appeared. Apparently her glasses washed back onto shore and were turned in to the attendant. Amazing!

We find that the most fun is eating alone, enjoying each other's company and taking in the spectacular views. Between the Cosco run and supplemented with food from Safeway and local markets, we had many of our meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner on our balcony.

 Floral Lei and Aloe Vera

Hawaiian sunsets are always gorgeous!

For the last six months or so, we have been feeding a crippled Oxnard seagull. The bird seems to be territorial - it keeps coming back - with our regularly feeding the bird, it is certainly more healthy. Well, it seems that history repeats itself. A local finch, with a missing foot, came onto our balcony area. We started feeding it. The finch returned everyday for some "goodies."

While Jerry was starting his conference at 7:30 AM (Breakfast meetings) and finishing up with networking dinners, my schedule was just as strenuous:

7:00 AM - Walking on the beach

Another Day In Paradise

8:00 AM Yoga

9:00 AM Water Aerobics

10:00 AM - Exhausted but still with an opportunity to relax!


There was a real feeling of "Aloha spirit" at the networking dinners

Following dinner, there was a time for an evening stroll.


Jerry's conference was fascinating. The presentations looked at our society as it migrates to 2020!

In between sessions, Jerry still had to work: He responded to PMI emails, phone calls and faxes.

However, when the conference was all over, it was time to relax for the remaining two days in "Paradise."

Jerry brings from the room "Rum & Coke," Appetizers and the "Aloha" spirit

Much like the Shangri-la hotel (Kowloon) that changes the elevator carpet every day designating he different day, the Fairmont regularly changes the hotel carpets three times each day depicting morning, afternoon and evening.


There was a lot of wild life at the hotel property:
"Modern Art"

Evening: Siting on our balcony, feeling the soft and warm ocean breezes and listening to romantic Hawaiian music - would could be better!

When it was all said and done, "Maui" and the "SEMI" Conference was still an ""Aloha" time to be -- together!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Chicago and Milwaukee: October 2015

Jerry had to visit customers in Milwaukee and Chicago. By coincidence, at the same time of his meetings, there was an international film festival going on in Chicago. So, we decided to combine his work with film coupled with local culture and great food.

Local Pub Near Chicago Hotel

Great Flat Bread Pizza and The Best Mussels
Below is the reception area of a PMI customer. The fireplace is "crackling" during wintertime.

We wanted to get a quick bite before leaving Milwaukee. Another meeting was planned (two hour drive) outside the Chicago area. The nearest place was "Big Daddy's" - a picturesque, hole-in-the wall, barbecue pub in Milwaukee's inner city. Big Daddy, a short, stocky Afro-American actually exists - he was sitting at the bar - wearing weathered clothes, suspenders and he was keeping an eye on things.

The first few days was on the chilly side - mornings started out in the 30's. By mid-day, some of the temps were actually in the 70's. Walking down Michigan Ave is one of our favorite things to do - there is an "electricity' in the air - a unique and special ambiance unlike most world cities. Also, Fall had arrived.

We noticed that there were more beggars on the streets - one person was "stationed' at each corner. After a while, we noticed that all of the beggars rotated from one corner to another about every 15 minutes. Perhaps, there is some sort of city ordinance that disallows begging in one spot for a lengthy period of time.

Our Chicago boutique  hotel (The James) was not the Four Seasons. However, it was above average as a hotel property and it had a great location: a few blocks from Michigan ave, across the street from Trader Joe's and minutes walking distance to Whole Foods, ATT,  Apple, Nordstrom's, Marshall's, Neiman-Marcus and, of course, some fabulous restaurants.
The Chicago skyline is probably one of the best in the world. The building architecture throughout the area is magnificent. We took a river cruise - something we wanted to do for years but never quite had the time. (It's time to make time!)
River Cruise Boat

Enjoying Chicago's Skyline (Our First Selfie)
The tour guide was fantastic - the beautiful city took on another perspective - it came alive even more with the guide's anecdotal tidbits.

Between movies (sometimes three a day), we found other things to do such as rushing through the Chicago Science Museum and the Chicago Art Institute. There were two fascinating exhibits at the science museum: a captured WWII German submarine and a tour of "coal mine."
A Real U-Boat
Rough and Dangerous Work!

 One of the best parts of the trip was to revisit some of our favorite Impressionistic paintings!

Miscellaneous Chicago experiences:
  • Most of the taxi drivers that took us from "A" to "B" migrated from Africa. They were highly educated, well off, etc but gave up a good life style to come to the USA, start over so that their children would have even a better life.
  • There is a large, multi-storied brick building - plenty of stain glass windows. Bloomingdales, a bank and other establishments use this old building. It used to be one of the main synagogues.
  • Looking at the retail store fronts is always interesting - particularly in Chicago and New York. Furs, especially fur on shoes, holes in clothing, mixed styles and thick shoe soles seem to be the trend. 
  •  We happened to be walking down Michigan Ave. one evening and came across two police officers (blackman and Hispanic woman) walking their beat. We struck up a conversation with them - quite enlightening. Much like Los Angeles, there have been (at times) 20 - 30 weekly gang-related killings. The reason? The gang infrastructure has been broken. Overall, there is little leadership - little control. This translates into each block/street now has its own gang and decentralized territory. While we were talking, a 20-something black man comes up, entered into the conversation and mentioned that he (and other young men) have to try and create "law and order" because the police don't come into "the hood" for fear of being shot. Police morale appears to be low re pensions have been reduced, no political leadership/support, many medical issues due to the weight of wearing/carrying all of their equipment. The policeman took off his Kevlar vest and handed it to us so that we could get the feel of the weight. Seemingly, they can't wait until it's time to retire.
It was a great week. Jerry's meetings were successful. We experienced a variety of movies. Food was delish. Museums always provide a fun and enlightening experience.