Friday, April 29, 2011

LAUGH . . . And Then Some

A small boy is sent to bed by his father.

Five minutes later . . . "Da - a - a - d . . ."

"What?"

"I'm thirsty.  Can you bring me a drink of water?"

"No.  You had your chance.  Lights out."

Five minutes later . . . "Da - a - a - d . . ."

"WHAT?"

"I'm THIRSTY.  Can I have a drink of water??"

"I told you NO!  If you ask again, I'll have to smack you!!"

Five minutes later . . .  "Da - a - a - a - a - a - a - a - a - a - d . . ."

WHAT!"

"When you come in to smack me, can you bring me a drink of water?"


Laugh Like There's No Tomorrow: Over 2,000 jokes from the Internet

From Day #202 in a complete manuscript compiled by Richard L. Weaver II

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taiwan I: Undiscovered Jewel

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

“Undiscovered jewel” is how our tour guide, Jan de Vries, described “his” island.  Married to an extroverted, lovely, Taiwanese woman, Jan, with his Dutch ancestry, is an assistant Professor and Lecturer in Aviation, Travel, and Tourism, and he loves his island.  Even with its earthquakes, cyclones, tornadoes, tsunamis, and storms (driven to the island from mainland China), and potential volcanic eruptions, it is truly “his” jewel.  Having been connected with the airline industry and traveling extensively (especially with the airline, KLM), he tried to promote “his” island wherever and whenever he could.
    
As we traveled the one hour route from the Keelung Harbour to the city and “101" — the tallest building in the world until last year (2009) when the building in Dubai was completed, he and his daughter Michele (a college student) gave us information about the politics, economics, and culture of the region.  He told us, for example, that Taipei City has a population of close to 3 million people and together with the population of Keelung City, make a population of 6.7 million, but because of the economy, the population is decreasing not increasing as it is in Hong Kong.
    
The reason Taipei and Keelung are so densely populated is because of the steep, mountainous terrain outside of the cities where no one can live — or even travel, Jan told us.  Those restrictions, as well as not being able to walk on the beaches because of the same military restrictions, have been changed recently.  That is why, he said, despite being surrounded by water, few Taiwanese know how to swim.
    
Taipei, our guide explained, is a major industrial area serviced by railways, high speed rail, highways, airports, and bus lines and, thus, connects with all parts of the island.  
    
The island of Taiwan was acquired by Japan in 1895 (after the First Sino-Japanese War), taken over by the Repulbic of China in 1945 (after Japan’s defeat in Worl War II) when in 1949 Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek took over.
    
As our trip into Taipei ended at the Armani shop on the first floor of “101,” our guide (Jan) said, “Those who want to go up the ‘101' go with my daughter.”  (We were told later that the fog and sand conditions prevented a full view of the island.)  “Those of you who want to travel on their own may now leave as long as you return here by 2:55 p.m.”  Then he added, “Those of you who would like to join me, stay with me as I wander from here to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.”
    
Not having a great deal of time, not wanting to venture far out on our own, and appreciating our English-speaking, knowledgeable guide, we decided to stay with him — along with about 14 others.
    
We “wandered” first to the City Hall building, next door to “101,” where we observed the government workers (from behind a glass partition) working at tiny desks with a great deal of paper.  Jan said, the Chinese like paperwork.”  This was, too, an opportunity to use a modern, clean toilet — and most in the group appreciated the stop.
    
After this stop we “wandered” to the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (completed in 1972), Sun Yat-sen is the Father of the Republic of China and the Memorial celebrates “his great character, revolutionary career, and philosophical blueprint” (according to one Internet site) “for a modern China.”  The site is used extensively for cultural, artistic, educational, academic, and recreational purposes.  We visited the museum, and it being a schoolday, many children were visiting.
    
At this point, and after numerous cell-phone conversations with his wife, who was a tour guide on Bus L1 (we were on L2), he asked us if we want to accompany him to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial.  (By this time, we had lost most of those who had begun the walking tour with us.)  Just two couples continued, and our “walking” tour became a trip on the MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit).
    
This was our first and only experience with the transportation system in Taipei, and it is a direct reflection of this overlooked jewel.  It is clean, efficient, and extremely fast.  (When we entered the train (after having secured a plastic “coin” with an embedded memory chip from a machine — also quick, easy, and well-explained (with the help of Jan de Vries) — there was an advertisement overhead of a movie — all written in Chinese — with a picture of Jennifer Aniston!)  This subway is heavily used.  All seats were taken — although all 5 of us found seats each time — and some passengers had to stand.
    
We left the MRT and a beautifully decorated stop (#25) that had marble walls, brass embedded plaques, and clear signage at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial.  Our guide told us this top was unlike any of the others.
    
On the 90th birthday of the late President Chiang (on October 31, 1976), there was a ground-breaking ceremony that marked the official commencement of the construction of this massive complex in the heart of Taipei city that occupies over 60 acres of land.  The two main doors into the main hall each weigh 75 tons.
    
At one end there are massive white gates topped with a royal blue, tiled roof.  The colors of the Taiwanese flag are used extensively: blue, white, and red. The colors of the flag symbolize independence, equality, and universal love.
    
The expansive esplanade separates the white gates at one end from the large memorial building — sitting like a modern block-house on a pedestal, topped by another royal-blue, tiled roof with a red doorknob-like structure on top.  See a picture of it at the Sinotour.com website, and read the essay there entitled, “Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.”
    
As I wrote this essay I was unaware of its length; thus, I continue it in my Taiwan Essay 2.  In the second part of the essay I discuss my seven reasons why Taiwan is a jewel — an undiscovered jewel.
-----
There may be more than you want to know about the National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, but you can’t fault this website for not providing enough specifics.

At this website there is even more information about the National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, and even more pictures.
-----
Copyright April, 2011, by And Then Some Publishing, LLC.
    
   

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day #249 - Keep your mind young.

SMOERs: Words of Wisdom

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.  Anyone who keeps learning stays young.  The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young." --Henry Ford

Day #249 - Keep your mind young.

SMOERs: Self-Motivation, Optimism, Encouragement Rules! - Daily Reminders for Outstanding Living
An everyday guide full of quotations to uplift your spirits.  This is one of five motivational quotations for Day #249.
Free 30-Day sample: smoers.com

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

And Then Some News

Thursday's Essay Preview

This is the ninth of 17 essays that cover our Southeast Asia cruise (March, 2010).  The first paragraph of the ninth essay reads as follows:  "“Undiscovered jewel” is how our tour guide, Jan de Vries, described “his” island.  Married to an extroverted, lovely, Taiwanese woman, Jan, with his Dutch ancestry, is an assistant Professor and Lecturer in Aviation, Travel, and Tourism, and he loves his island.  Even with its earthquakes, cyclones, tornadoes, tsunamis, and storms (driven to the island from mainland China), and potential volcanic eruptions, it is truly “his” jewel.  Having been connected with the airline industry and traveling extensively (especially with the airline, KLM), he tried to promote “his” island wherever and whenever he could."
                                                                            

Thursday's Essay Excerpt - from the last two paragraphs of the essay



The expansive esplanade separates the white gates at one end from the large memorial building — sitting like a modern block-house on a pedestal, topped by another royal-blue, tiled roof with a red doorknob-like structure on top.  See a picture of it at the Sinotour.com website, and read the essay there entitled, “Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.”
   
As I wrote this essay I was unaware of its length; thus, I continue it in my Taiwan Essay 2.  In the second part of the essay I discuss my seven reasons why Taiwan is a jewel — an undiscovered jewel.

And Then Some News

Monday, April 25, 2011

Star: How Warren Beatty seduced America

Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America
By Peter Biskind


Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.


As I began reading Biskind’s book, I realized this was a period of time I lived through (the 1960's and 1970's) and thoroughly enjoyed.  What is absolutely terrific about Biskind’s approach to Beatty is that he consistently and neatly ties situations to what was going on in Hollywood, the nation, and the world at the time.  Thus, it is easy for readers to orient themselves as Biskind moves the story about Beatty’s life forward.


I was never a fan of Warren Beatty, but just as I follow other Hollywood stars (lightly and with a sense of humor), I followed his career because he was constantly in the news, and not only that, I enjoyed going to the movies.  Also, I think the whole creative art of making movies held some fascination as well, and this is truly a book about how Hollywood movies are made.


I have to confess: I was fascinated with this book.  Why?  First, Biskind is a terrific writer.  The content is well-organized, engaging, and examples and stories are numerous.  Second, I am amazed at Biskind’s information and where he went to get his material.  Yes, it is a big book: 627 pages!  The index is 26 pages in length.  There are 45 pages of notes—552 of them in all!  His sources are outstanding.  Third, Biskind tells a compelling story.  He doesn’t take sides; he simply tells it like it was and you come away with a picture of Beatty as an intelligent, manipulative, shrewd, sexual, innovative, creative, perfectionistic, and complex person.  What a fascinating portrayal.


Do you get a picture of his sexual prowess?  Definitely!  Not all the intimate details, but you definitely get the picture.  Here, Biskind describes the situation: “Beatty used to say that he couldn’t get to sleep at night without having sex.  It was part of his routine, like flossing.  This was who he was.  As the evening progressed, he would disappear with his little black book, looking for a phone.  Simple arithmetic tells us that if he had no more than one partner a night — and often there were several — over a period of, say, three and a half decades, from the mid-1950s, when he arrived in New York, to 1991, when he met Annette Bening, and allowing for the stretches when he was with the same woman, more or less, we can arrive at a figure of 12,775 women, give or take, a figure that does not include daytime quickies, drive-by blowjobs, casual gropings, stolen kisses, and so on” (p. 160). . . . He begins the very next paragraph saying, “There were so many women that it’s hard to characterize his sexual preferences by how he behaved with any particular one.  Different women served different purposes” (p. 160).


You shouldn’t read this book for all the titilating details of his sexual nature, for you will be disappointed.  Whether you are a Beatty fan or not, here is so much more here to absorb, ponder, and enjoy.  It is truly a good read and sheds so much light on the Hollywood film-making process and the professional film-making of Warren Beatty

This book is available at Amazon.com: Star: How Warren Beatty seduced America

Friday, April 22, 2011

LAUGH . . . And Then Some

An exasperated mother, whose son was always getting into mischief, finally asked him, "How do you expect to get into Heaven?"

The boy thought it over and said, "Well, I'll run in and out and in and out and keep slamming the door until St. Peter says, "For Heaven's sake, Dylan, come in or stay out!"

Laugh Like There's No Tomorrow: Over 2,000 jokes from the Internet

From Day #201 in a complete manuscript compiled by Richard L. Weaver II

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hong Kong: City of Pollution

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.    

It is 4:10 p.m., and our ship will be leaving soon for Taiwan.  We are anchored just beyond the entrance to Victoria Harbour away from the sea lane, and if I were to write about Hong Kong based on what I can see around the ship from here, this essay would consist of nothing — nothing but a gray mist.  We are completely shrouded in pollution.  No day (we’ve had two) has been clear, and those visiting Victoria Peak (about 1,817.6 feet above sea level and the highest point within Hong Kong) — one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hong Kong — said they were disappointed because little could be seen except buildings in the immediate vicinity.
    
The BBC reported on March 22, 2010, the day after we were there: “Air pollution levels in Hong Kong have reached a record high, prompting government warnings to people to avoid going out.”  Hong Kong blamed it on pollution coming south from China.
    
Hong Kong is a big city with a population of 7 million people, and a land area of 428 square miles.  The pollution was the worst we’ve experienced in any city we have yet visited; however, it will be discussed again in the essay on Beijing.
    
Many people love Hong Kong for the shopping alone.  It is a shopper’s paradise.  We hate shopping; thus, if we could not find other redeeming qualities, we would, very likely, hate (barely tolerate) Hong Kong.  Fortunately, we found redeeming qualities on our second day.
    
We made the choice to “do Hong Kong on our own” before we left home.  First, we read the excursion choices and found none interesting.  Second, we looked at how far things were from where the ship would be docked and realized we could conveniently reach destinations of interest.  Third, and from both docking positions (Hong Kong and Kowloon), Princess offered free shuttles (a tender and a bus) into the places where we wanted to go.  The solution appeared simple: do it on our own.
    
On the first day, the shuttle bus dropped us off at a high-end mall, and we walked as quickly as possible from there to the Star Ferry where we traveled for free (a senior-citizen perk) to Hong Kong island.  We sought information and walked a long, beautiful, covered walkway to the Exchange Center bus terminal where we first discovered we needed change, not bills, and we ran upstairs and got some.  The cost was 4.70 HKD per person — about 75-cents each to travel to Aberdeen.
    
We found a place at the very front of the 2nd deck of the bus, and thus had both an exiting and full view of everything on this half-hour trip.  We knew we were in Aberdeen only because the driver turned off the engine, and everyone got off the bus.  That’s a serious hint!  We walked from there to the nearest boulevard overpass (a bridge for walkers) where we could get to the water.
    
As we got close to the water, ladies who motored san pans on the water, begged for our attention and a ride to the floating restaurants and places where people live on their boats.  As we walked, a couple of these little san pans would follow us.  We chose not to take a ride, but walked farther along the river on a nicely manicured sidewalk.
    
We followed our route in return, stopped at a clean public toilet, received more change from one of the friendly store owners along the way, then took Bus #70 back to the Exchange Center sitting atop the bus once again.  It took less than half hour.
    
Once back to the dock area, we walked around.  Our street of demarcation (to help us remember where we were) was Pettinger Street — nearby there were a couple of alleyway markets we wanted to walk.  Every time we were there the area was full of pedestrians.  On the second day in the area, I bought my Hong Kong tee-shirt for 50 HKD (about $3.50 U.S.).
    
It was, indeed, our second day in Hong Kong that made our stay outstanding.  After an evening of moving the ship from a Kowloon dock to a spot outside Victoria Harbour, the trip from the ship back to the dock now necessitated a 40-minute tender ride.  Once again, we walked from the pier into central Hong Kong.  It is an easily navigated area, and we were able to follow both roadside and elevated sidewalks to where the Victoria Peak tram begins.  Just to the left of the tram station is the entrance to Hong Kong Park and Aviary — a serene oasis spectacularly surrounded by towering skyscrapers. (The Aviary was opened in 1992.)
    
Upon entering the park, there is a white staircase where water is flowing down into a pond near where we were standing.  You can walk up into the park next to the flowing water, and when you reach the top of the staircase, there are two nicely manicured small lakes filled with turtles and fish and surrounded by lush greenery and walking paths.
    
We were in Hong Kong Park on Sunday so families and romantic partners wandered the pathways.  Hong Kong Park is a totally manufactured area — nothing is natural or was preserved in the creation of this area carved into the contours of the hillside.
    
Just beyond the pond on the right are two picturesque waterfalls that you can walk behind as you follow the path to the head (top) of the falls.
    
Upon reaching one high point we encountered the Tai Chi Garden.  Entering the garden through the attractive gate, we discovered a tranquil, peaceful, quiet garden where one woman was practicing Tai Chi.  In the garden there is a hallway marked by tall white columns, a waste-high pool of water that is perfectly still but flows over the sides of marble walls, and a tall cylindrical tower with a winding staircase to the top.  
    
On one wall of this Tai Chi Court is a plaque dedicated to the memory of all those who assisted (putting their own lives at risk) in fighting the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in March, 2003.
    
Close to the Tai Chi Court is the Aviary where there are over 600 different kinds of birds.  The walkway is long and winds midway between the ground and enclosed fencing above, and overlooks a flowing stream, waterfall, a small lake, and lush tropical foliage broken by the constant movement of birds with brilliant plumage.  Feeders suspended near the walkway bring the birds to eye level.
    
With the park experience, Hong Kong suddenly and dramatically became interesting and unique.  The omnipresent pollution, normally worn like a tight body shroud, seemed to lift momentarily within the park; unfortunately, it returned as we left the park and headed back to our ship.
-----
At BBC News the essay, “Regions and Territories: Hong Kong,” gives a great deal of essential facts, information, and links where a fairly complete picture of the area can be obtained.  The website begins with this paragraph: “Once home to fishermen and farmers, modern Hong Kong is a teeming, commercially-vibrant metropolis where Chinese and Western influences fuse.”

At Kwintissential the essay, “Hong Kong - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette,” covers facts and statistics, language, society and culture, as well as etiquette and customs.  This latter section includes meetings and greetings, gift giving, and dining and business etiquette.  Just look at some of the information you get at this website: “.The handshake is commonly used when greeting westerners.
          -The Hong Kong Chinese handshake is rather light.  
          -During the greeting, many Hong Kong Chinese lower their eyes as a sign of respect.
          -There is no need for you to emulate this gesture, although prolonged eye contact should be avoided during the greeting.
          -If you are at a large function, you may introduce yourself to other guests.
          -At smaller functions, it is polite to wait for your host or hostess to introduce you. ”
-----
Copyright April, 2011, by And Then Some Publishing, LLC.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day #248 - Do not grieve over your misfortunes.

SMOERs: Words of Wisdom

"Grieve only to exorcise misfortune's thoughts, then recharge your batteries to resume a full life." --Richard L. Weaver II

Day #248 - Do not grieve over your misfortunes.

SMOERs: Self-Motivation, Optimism, Encouragement Rules! - Daily Reminders for Outstanding Living
An everyday guide full of quotations to uplift your spirits.  This is one of five motivational quotations for Day #248.
Free 30-Day sample: smoers.com

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

And Then Some News

Thursday's Essay Preview

This is the eighth of 17 essays that cover our Southeast Asia cruise (March, 2010).  The first paragraph of the eighth essay reads as follows:  "It is 4:10 p.m., and our ship will be leaving soon for Taiwan.  We are anchored just beyond the entrance to Victoria Harbour away from the sea lane, and if I were to write about Hong Kong based on what I can see around the ship from here, this essay would consist of nothing — nothing but a gray mist.  We are completely shrouded in pollution.  No day (we’ve had two) has been clear, and those visiting Victoria Peak (about 1,817.6 feet above sea level and the highest point within Hong Kong) — one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hong Kong — said they were disappointed because little could be seen except buildings in the immediate vicinity."
                                                                  

Thursday's Essay Excerpt - from the last two paragraphs of the essay



Close to the Tai Chi Court is the Aviary where there are over 600 different kinds of birds.  The walkway is long and winds midway between the ground and enclosed fencing above, and overlooks a flowing stream, waterfall, a small lake, and lush tropical foliage broken by the constant movement of birds with brilliant plumage.  Feeders suspended near the walkway bring the birds to eye level.
    
With the park experience, Hong Kong suddenly and dramatically became interesting and unique.  The omnipresent pollution, normally worn like a tight body shroud, seemed to lift momentarily within the park; unfortunately, it returned as we left the park and headed back to our ship.

And Then Some News

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Shark and the Goldfish: Positive ways to thrive during waves of change

The Shark and the Goldfish: Positive ways to thrive during waves of change
By Jon Gordon


Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.


Oh no, not another business-related parable!  The author writes “A Confession” on page ix: “I recognize the fact that in real life goldfish cannot survive in the ocean’s saltwater—and that fish really can’t talk, either. [He inserts a smiley emoticon here!] This is an imaginary story meant to convey an important message.  After all,” Gordon writes, “Mickey Mouse, Shrek, Nemo, and Superman are invented characters as well.”  I’m very pleased he pointed this out for like my belief in Santa Clause and the Easter bunny, I had always believed that Mickey Mouse, Shrek, Nemo, and Superman were real!  Darn him!!


There are 78 pages in this little ( 5" x 7") book, and close to 30 of them are devoted to illustrations, thus, this is a book of just about 50 pages.  If you have a couple of hours to spare, this is a “fun” book to read, and you’ll still have time left over for other things.


The four principles for thriving during change include: 1) Embrace the wave of change, 2) ride the wave of change, 3) stay positive during change, and 4) thrive because of change.  At the end of the book, Gorden challenges readers in each category by asking questions that he labels, “Food for Thought,” designed as “Individual/Small Group/Team Discussion Questions.”


Although the book is well-written, the story “cute,” and the principles simple, I’m not certain that Gordon offers enough that is new, challenging, or innovative that can’t be found in more substantive books that are well-researched, evidence-based, and experience-proven.


Don Snyder, "The Idea Guy," from Columbus, Ohio, writes in his review of the book at Amazon.com:  “Phenomenal book!  I'm a little hesitant of the "business fable" books (never really understood the hullabaloo regarding "Who Moved My Cheese") but The Shark and The Goldfish is on my personal list of favorite books of the year. There's nothing outrageously original about the message, but isn't that true of all universal messages? The story was engaging and the important themes weren't lost in the fable. Buy copies of this book for your entire team -- they should sell them in groups (Groupers?) so you can gift them to your entire "school" of Goldfish friends!”


Monty Rainey, from New Braunfels, Texas, ends his review at Amazon.com, with these two paragraphs: “I'm looking forward to introducing this story at my next meeting. There are some great training tools here on positive ways to not only face change (in an ever changing world) but how to come out on top of change and make that change work to your benefit.


“If you're looking for a quick and easy read that will change focus and outlook, this is it. I have several employees who all but refuse to read. This one can easily be digested in about an hour, so it perfect for non-readers to get them on the right track and create a positive change for them.”


I think it is a great book for non-readers.

This book is available at Amazon.com: The Shark and the Goldfish: Positive ways to thrive during waves of change

Friday, April 15, 2011

LAUGH . . . And Then Some

A little boy was doing his math homework.

He said to himself, "Two plus five, that son of a bitch is seven.  Three plus six, that son of a bitch is nine . . . ."

His mother heard what he was saying and gasped, "What are you doing?"

The little boy answered, "I'm doing my math homework, Mum."

"And this is how your teacher taught you to do it?" the mother asked.

"Yes," he answered.

Infuriated, the mother asked the teacher the next day, "What are you teaching my son in math?"

The teacher replied, "Right now, we are learning addition."

The mother asked, "And are you teaching them to say two plus two, that son of a bitch is four?"

After the teacher stopped laughing, she answered, "What I taught them was, two plus two, THE SUM OF WHICH, is four."

Laugh Like There's No Tomorrow: Over 2,000 jokes from the Internet

From Day #200 in a complete manuscript compiled by Richard L. Weaver II

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vietnam II: Nha Trang is a Great City for an Excursion

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.    

When we saw very few motor cycles or scooters in Singapore or later in Hong Kong and we saw thousands in Saigon and Nha Trang, we realized it says something specific about Saigon and Nha Trang — motor cycles and scooters are the transportation choice for people with little money.  In Vietnam, they are ubiquitous [seeming to exist everywhere].
    
As we cruised slowly into the Nha Trang area (amidst numerous hilly or mountainous, forest-covered islands), it was hard to know where the city itself was located.  The islands, mountains, and beautiful scenery are amazing, and it is only when the ship makes one final turn, that you see the city spread out along the coast quite far away but directly in front of you, fully embraced by mountains behind.  It is an attractive setting, just as if the town is nestled away from the crowds and hustle and bustle of everyday life.
    
My impression — from reading about it before our trip — was that it would be a very small, country town with attractive beaches, so I didn’t expect the high rises nor the very complete city with many interesting sights.
    
You can’t actually get into the city proper on a ship our size, so we anchored out beyond a row of at least ten pylons that extend across the bay.  Attached to the top of each pylon are two cables, and these cables support a cable-car “ride” from the Nha Trang side of the bay to Vinpearl land.  Wikitravel explains Vinpearl: “From the harbour you can take the cable car over to the island where Vinpearl resort and Vinpearl land is located. They have a small tivoli and some restaurants, attractions here include Underwater World (aquarium), Water Park complete with many exciting water slides and wave pool, Amusement Park with roller coaster, pirate ship, bumper cars, 4D cinema and many modern arcade machines and musical fountain and laser show at night time. . . .”  Nha Trang is well known as Vietnam’s best seaside resort.
    
Our tenders pulled into an area just beyond the cable car entrance, not into the city as I would have expected (and preferred).  There, we boarded a “luxury” bus and headed out to Long Son Pagoda where we saw a huge, white Buddha statue, sitting on top of a hill, 153-steps up.  It is big and very white, and had we not been on a planned excursion, we never would have seen it.  The entrance is small and located in a village along the road, and although there were several other tour buses already there, the entrance is uneven dirt with litter strewn everywhere.  Walking carefully across the uneven, dusty terrain, we entered a gateway made of concrete, which, too, was old, dusty, olive-green from algae and age, and unadorned.  It was as if there was nothing at all special behind the gateway.
    
On the way up to the big, white Buddha, we stopped about half-way to see a large, cement, reclining Buddha.  Our guide told us they used a flake-marble patina to give this concrete mass a “rich-looking” facade.  Although reclining and large, we have now seen our share of them.
    
From the top, we could look out in all directions; however, the various scenes from the top offered nothing we recognized nor anything that was particularly interesting or noteworthy.
    
The second stop on our planned Nha Trang excursion was a Vietnamese silk-picture- embroidery store and local workshop (specially designed to handle large groups of tourists).  The rugs in the store were heavily worn, indicating the amount of tourist traffic and the lack of owner concern for a pleasing, clean-cut, positive look.
    
On the second level of the store we saw 15-20 young, female Vietnamese workers, some working in groups, others working alone — all nicely dressed and in attractive, colorful clothes --- stitching the silk.  These girls use bright-colored threads that they pluck from a bolt and make tiny stitches that result in beautiful silk pictures.  The area already stitched is covered to keep it clean.  (We heard from a man with whom we were talking, and who was on another excursion, that these girls make $2.00 U.S. per day.)
    
A lady we were sitting with in the shop bought a medium-sized, framed, silk “painting” of a vase of flowers off the wall for $55.00 U.S.
    
From the embroidery shop (where enormous “paintings” — embroidery pictures — adorned the walls), we went to the great Po Ngar Cham Towers, the very ancient shrine from hundreds of years ago.  Wikipedia provides this explanation of the Towers: “founded sometime before 781 A.D. and located in the medieval principality of Kauthara, near modern Nha Trang in Vietnam. It is dedicated to Yan Po Nagar, the goddess of the country, who came to be identified with the Hindu goddesses Bhagavati and Mahishasuramardini, and who in Vietnamese is called Thiên Y Thánh Mâu.”  They are certainly a “must-see” sight on any Nha Trang visit.
    
At the Frommer’s website the reporter writes about the use of the Po Ngar area today: “The Po Ngar temples are still used by local Buddhists who have adopted the site as their own, and the altars and smoking incense add to the intrigue of the architecture. Detracting from the whole experience are kitsch stands and lots of hawkers. To get there, you cross an expansive bridge spanning the mouth of the Cai River as it flows to the sea. There's a small fish market along the river -- take a left to the riverside as you approach the temples -- a great place to visit in the early morning when boats are just bringing in their catch. The wide river, with its many bright blue and red fishing boats, is a picture.”
    
Our final stop on this excursion was at the Au Lac Vietnam Market.  The most remarkable thing about this visit was how our bus driver negotiated the very narrow passage in, the U-turn necessary at the end, and the way he backed into a very tight parking space occupied by 3 other tour buses.  It was phenomenal to watch his deft touch.  We had little time at the market, and there was nothing to distinguish it from the many other local markets we had visited.  Covered, dimly lit, hot, dirty, ventilated by small fans, it served everything from fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish, to souvenirs, fabric, merchandise (such as watches and jewelry), as well as places to buy snacks and lunches.  It was a labyrinth of small pathways, and we stayed close to our guide throughout this visit for fear of getting lost and not finding our way back to our bus.
    
Nha Trang is a big city, a worthwhile tourist destination, and a valuable cruise stop.  It is much cleaner than Saigon, and had we been left with Saigon as our only Vietnam experience, our views of Vietnam might have been quite different.  The thousands of motorcycles present no problem when seen from the window of a “luxury” tour bus.
-----
At Photo.net the overview provided of Nha Trang, Vietnam, includes this information: “this city of 200K people has beautiful beaches, terrific hotels, and a wide variety of restaurants. Transportation within town is dominated by cyclo-taxis (tricycle w/ bench for passengers, includes peddler), motorcycle-taxis (you hang onto driver), and $5/day 125cc motorcycles (you drive).”  This site includes great photographs as well as some personal reflections.

At Travelfish.com, the essay there, “Things to do in Nha Trang,” discusses each of the various sights.  If you have a -----trip planned, this might be a good site to get an overview.
-----
Copyright April, 2011, by And Then Some Publishing, LLC.


   

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day #247 - Get caught up in the world of thought.

SMOERs: Words of Wisdom

"The great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers, rather than fill it with the accumulation of others." --Tyron Edwards

Day #247 - Get caught up in the world of thought.

SMOERs: Self-Motivation, Optimism, Encouragement Rules! - Daily Reminders for Outstanding Living
An everyday guide full of quotations to uplift your spirits.  This is one of six motivational quotations for Day #247.
Free 30-Day sample: smoers.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

And Then Some News

Thursday's Essay Preview

This is the seventh of 17 essays that cover our Southeast Asia cruise (March, 2010).  The first paragraph of the seventh essay reads as follows:  "When we saw very few motor cycles or scooters in Singapore or later in Hong Kong and we saw thousands in Saigon and Nha Trang, we realized it says something specific about Saigon and Nha Trang — motor cycles and scooters are the transportation choice for people with little money.  In Vietnam, they are ubiquitous [seeming to exist everywhere]."
                                
                         

Thursday's Essay Excerpt - from the last two paragraphs of the essay


Nha Trang is a big city, a worthwhile tourist destination, and a valuable cruise stop.  It is much cleaner than Saigon, and had we been left with Saigon as our only Vietnam experience, our views of Vietnam might have been quite different.  The thousands of motorcycles present no problem when seen from the window of a “luxury” tour bus.

And Then Some News

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thank you for firing me! How to catch the next wave of success after you lose your job

By Kitty Martini and Candice Reed

http://www.amazon.com/Thank-You-Firing-Me-Success/product-reviews/1402769563/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?ie=UTF8&coliid=&showViewpoints=1&colid=&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


Book Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

You need to accept this book on two levels: First, it is an entertaining, fun read.  Second, it is crammed full of interesting, sometimes unusual, ideas designed to spark your imagination and creativity.

I found the book truly fascinating, engaging, and, yes, entertaining.  Remember that Kitty Martini “is a prolific writer, entrepreneur, stand-up comedian, and expert on being fired,” according to the back of the book.  How did the book become so entertaining?  She’s a comedian!!!!!  Candice Reed’s compliment to Kitty reads like this: “Without Kitty and her unique attitude and approach to life this book may never have been born.  Her dry wit and crazy stories are greatly appreciated and well suited to a writer such as myself. . .” (p. vi).

I like the layout of this book.  There are 15 ten-to-twelve page chapters that all begin with a slightly humorous quotations.  The sections within chapters are brief, there are numerous bullet-pointed comments, suggestions, and ideas, additional gray boxes are interspersed throughout chapters that carry “Consider This” ideas (stories, examples, illustrations, research findings, and interesting tidbits), there are a plethora of examples, numerous italicized quotations break up the content, and the additional resources are outstanding.  Overall, it reads well.

The reviewers, for the most part, also like the book.  For example, Caroline Yarnall, of Eastsound, Washington, writes, “I have recommended this book to many of my friends who are without jobs now. A very inspiring book of great ideas and references for those who want to work and be their own boss, which is not easy right now in our economy. I, too, have read it, and it almost makes me want to start up my own little business at home. Good job! Thanks....”

Joke Queen, from Los Angeles, writes in her Amazon.com review: “I bought Thank You For Firing Me for a friend who recently got downsized--to cheer her up and giver her some hope. I started reading it, and couldn't put it down. The authors thought of every possible type of worker and life situation, not just the usual info. There were ideas for everyone from office workers to welders to artists and stay at home parents. After reading the book, my friend was able to boost her income getting paid by the minute as a customer service rep for a huge company that outsources to people who work from home. That was just one of tons of resources they listed and ways to survive while you're in a career or job transition. Great book!! I also liked that it was entertaining, as well as informative and resourceful.”

This book is available at Amazon.com: Thank you for firing me!  How to catch the next wave of success after you lose your job

Friday, April 8, 2011

LAUGH . . . And Then Some

Two blonds are walking down the street.  One notices a compact on the sidewalk and leans down to pick it up.  She opens it, looks in the mirror and says, "Hmmm, this person looks familiar."

The second blond says, "Here, let me see!"

So the first blond hands her the compact.

The wecond one looks in the mirror and says, "You dummy, it's me!"

Laugh Like There's No Tomorrow: Over 2,000 jokes from the Internet

From Day #198 in a complete manuscript compiled by Richard L. Weaver II

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vietnam I: Saigon is a city of filth and poverty

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.    

I hesitated before using that title for this essay, but, unfortunately, the negative value conveyed by the title is well-deserved and well-earned over and over.  I asked a couple seated next to us in the diningroom for their impressions of Saigon (Ho-Chi Minh City) and they said, “the tremendous poverty and filth.”  It is inescapable and omnipresent.  One problem for us is simply that our last port was Singapore, which is completely the opposite: by 180-degrees.
    
It will be difficult to provide, in words, the images we observed — especially on the shuttle in-and-out of Phu Muy (the Saigon port) and into the city (Saigon), and I assure you, I will give it my best effort in this essay.
    
Our tour/excursion was called “Ho Chi Minh City On Your Own,” and we chose this tour because it transported us directly from the port into the city by air-conditioned “luxury” bus.  I emphasize the word “luxury” simply because it reinforces what we (Americans) have and what the local Vietnamese have — which is next to nothing.
    
Perhaps as a symbol of what was to come, part of the road getting out of the dock area (nearly empty of containers), was unpaved dirt.  I could just imagine what it would be like if it was raining, and I didn’t have to imagine what it would be like in the dry season when any kind of breeze (and there was a severe wind! — on our return to the ship) would stir up dust and dirt from this rather wide and long area of the road.  Dust (a lot of it!), was all over, and the air was beige all around the ship when we came back to it around 4:30 p.m.
    
The wind at Phu Muy was so severe when I stood at the front of the ship I could hear it howling, and the Princess flag was blowing fiercely.  Then the captain came on the public-address system to announce our departure was delayed because of the wind.  He said, some of the turns the ship had to make upon leaving Phu Muy, were such that with the wind, the ship could list significantly.  Once underway (our delay was minimal), the captain warned us to take care when walking around the ship.
    
The “highway” into Saigon is two lanes on either side of a divider, but the lanes were narrow and not well-paved, and among the commercial trucks (most are very old), cars, buses, and the thousands of motor bikes, movement was slow.  Our driver was terrific for his ability to negotiate in-and-out, stop just before hitting vehicles in front of us, and, using his deep,  aggressive-sounding foghorn-like horn (which he used a great deal), keep other drivers in their proper lane.  Most responded promptly.
    
Some of the slowness of the trip resulted from rough road that was, in general, poorly maintained, and it looked like there was some intention of widening the highway, but the work on the expansion never appeared to be making any kind of rapid progress.  Peasants worked on it in places; however, it was all without the assistance of modern equipment.  At one point, a large (old) vehicle designed for rolling newly laid gravel smooth, sat at a tilt, idle because one of its huge tires was flat.
    
Although there was a low barrier along the side of the road, there were numerous openings mostly used by motor bikes and scooters to come and go from the highway — which simply added to the difficulty of negotiating this driving experience.
    
The highway, however, was the least of the observations a new traveler to Vietnam will experience on this route.  The most visually profound is on either side of the highway where a true and honest examination of Vietnam’s history and culture can be observed.  Our trip was approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes each way, thus, the opportunities to observe were plentiful (more than sufficient!).
    
Most of the side roads loading to the “highway” were of dirt, and most of the “houses” along these were old, weathered (and ramshackle), close together, and open to the dust, dirt, and pollution found everywhere.
   
 In the villages all along the highway, there were small old stores with open fronts (no doors), tightly attached to one another and full of every kind of merchandise.  Many specialized in one kind of product such as roof fans, clothes, motorbikes, lumber, or fabric.  Many were restaurants — all open, small, and serving the village.  Also, many had a motorbike or two in front, and it wasn’t unusual to see small children playing in the store or in the dirt just outside it.
    
Between one village and another you would often see open, green, agricultural areas and sometimes rice paddies.  This being the dry season, there was far less water in the fields than at other times of the year.  At some points you could see livestock (cows!) Grazing, but this seemed more unusual than common.
    
Occasionally, we would cross a river, and the boats on the river were as primitive as the houses.  You could see homes built on stilts all along the rivers, almost as if one was built on top of another.  Sometimes you could see laundry hung, but even if you had a home on the river, life there seemed impoverished.
    
All along the highway local people set up small stands to sell shiny trinkets, dark glasses, children’s games, snacks (such as fruit or bread), but seldom did I see anyone stopped to buy anything.  Many vendors had set up a piece of cloth or canvas to protect them from the sun.  Temperature in the sun was between 90 and 100-degrees.
    
The poverty and low standard of living is rampant, and there are very few places between the port and Saigon where we saw even a middle-class style of living.  The suburbs around Saigon revealed the same poverty and filth we saw all the way from the port.
   
 In addition to the poverty, there is filth, garbage, and debris everywhere.  At times the local people used the side of the highway as their garbage dump.  
    
Our self-tour of Saigon included seeing Reunification/Independence Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Opera House, the Rex Hotel, and the local market (covered, hot, dark, ventilated with small fans, full of all kinds of merchandise from souvenirs, fresh produce, fish, and food for lunch).  With aisles barely wide enough for a single person, it was smelly and dirty.
    
The filth and poverty could not be escaped or overlooked.  It was an eye-opener, and as our Princess cruise lecturer, Petra, explained to us when describing Vietnam, it is a genuine “step back in time.”  Indeed it was.
-----
At Suite101.com there is an essay by Louise Campion, “Exploring Ho Chi Minh City: The Frenetic Hub of Southern Vietnam.”  She begins her essay with the paragraph, “For many travelers first arriving in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam is a shock to the system. This sprawling city spans 18 districts and is an economic center offering an insight into some of Vietnam’s fascinating history.”  She discusses the history and culture and ends with a short section, “Street Food Spectacular,” in which she says the city is a great place for great food.

At Arson and Arsenic, the essay, “Making my way through ho chi minh city,” offers tourists a number of useful and interesting insights into the city.
-----

Copyright April, 2011, by And Then Some Publishing, LLC.



   

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day #246 - Make reading a daily habit

SMOERs: Words of Wisdom

"In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. . . . It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish." --S.I. Hayakawa

Day #246 - Make reading a daily habit.

SMOERs: Self-Motivation, Optimism, Encouragement Rules! - Daily Reminders for Outstanding Living
An everyday guide full of quotations to uplift your spirits.  This is one of eleven motivational quotations for Day #246.
Free 30-Day sample: smoers.com

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

And Then Some News

Thursday's Essay Preview

This is the sixth of 17 essays that cover our Southeast Asia cruise (March, 2010).  The first paragraph of the sixth essay reads as follows:  "I hesitated before using that title [Vietnam I: Saigon is a City of Filth and Poverty] for this essay, but, unfortunately, the negative value conveyed by the title is well-deserved and well-earned over and over.  I asked a couple seated next to us in the diningroom for their impressions of Saigon (Ho-Chi Minh City) and they said, “the tremendous poverty and filth.”  It is inescapable and omnipresent.  One problem for us is simply that our last port was Singapore, which is completely the opposite: by 180-degrees.
                       
                         

Thursday's Essay Excerpt - from the last two paragraphs of the essay

Our self-tour of Saigon included seeing Reunification/Independence Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Opera House, the Rex Hotel, and the local market (covered, hot, dark, ventilated with small fans, full of all kinds of merchandise from souvenirs, fresh produce, fish, and food for lunch).  With aisles barely wide enough for a single person, it was smelly and dirty.

The filth and poverty could not be escaped or overlooked.  It was an eye-opener, and as our Princess cruise lecturer, Petra, explained to us when describing Vietnam, it is a genuine “step back in time.”  Indeed it was.

And Then Some News

Monday, April 4, 2011

The end of work as you know it: 8 strategies to redefine work on your own terms

By Milo Sindell and Thuy Sindell

http://www.amazon.com/End-Work-You-Know-Strategies/dp/1580089976/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276346584&sr=1-1

Book Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

The eight strategies are share expertise, initiate change, demand autonomy, create meaning, spark creativity, seize recognition, maintain balance, and build legacy.

The book is published by Ten Speed Press which is the publisher of the annually revised book , What Color Is Your Parachute?, which is the “number one job-hunting book of all time.”  Why mention this?  Ten Speed Press has a solid reputation to maintain; thus, it is unlikely (or certainly less likely) they will publish a weak book.

This 119-page book doesn’t offer ground-breaking insights and revelations; however, it is solid material that makes good sense — common sense.  Each chapter begins with a short situation that becomes a success story, then the authors quickly get to the point in each of the 13-14-page chapters, and the authors offer practical suggestions and ideas for how to have a similar success in your (the reader’s) own life.

There are no notes, and the resources are simply additional related resources that can be consulted.

This book is available at Amazon.com: The end of work as you know it: 8 strategies to redefine work on your own terms

Friday, April 1, 2011

LAUGH . . . And Then Some

A car gets a flat on the interstate one day.

The blond driver eases it over onto the shoulder of the road, carefully steps out of the car and opens the trunk.

She takes out two cardboard men, unfolds them and stands them at the rear of the vehicle facing oncoming traffic.

The lifelike cardboard men are in trench coats exposing their nude bodies and private parts to approaching drivers.

Not surprisingly, the traffic becomes snarled and backed up.

It isn't very long before a police car arrives.

The officer clearly enraged, approaches the blond of the disabled vehicle yelling, "What's going on here?"

"My car broke down, officer," says the woman calmly.

"Well, what in the hell are these obscene cardboard pictures doing here by the road?" he asks.

"Hel-l-l-l-oooooooo!!!" says the blond.  "Those are my emergency flashers!"

Laugh Like There's No Tomorrow: Over 2,000 jokes from the Internet

From Day #197 in a complete manuscript compiled by Richard L. Weaver II