Monday, June 29, 2015


This trip marks my first return to the good 'ol US of A in a year.  It feels calming to return to my native soil where the world around me just makes sense.  I can freely communicate and there are no concerns about exchanging money, how to catch a bus, or if I’ve somehow managed to cause an international disaster over some sort of silly faux pas[1].

It’s been several months since I’ve touched US ground and I cherish hearing the phrase from the immigration officer, “Welcome home, sir.”

Island of Moloka'i.
-Hawai'i [USA]
I have long been fascinated with Hawai’i.  For me, this place is more than a tropical escape; it is a different reality.  Sure, everybody wants to sit on a tropical beach and watch beautiful people doing interesting things… all while drinking cold beverages from a beach chair.  But that’s not what interests me, my interest is much deeper.

I am from the mountains.  The mountains make perfect sense to me.  I understand their volatile weather.  I appreciate their harshness.  I respect the ruggedness required to live amongst these uplifted tectonic plates.  I sense the unseen ravines, ridges, and false peaks behind what is “up ahead.”

I don’t have this same level of comfort in these tropical places.  I don’t feel the ocean.  I don’t have the same intuition of the weather.  I don’t fully grasp the intricacies.  I am a student, and I do learn, but it is not my own skin.

Hawai’i does offer me isolation.  Though it is clearly geographically isolated, I am surprised that I feel the same mental removal from the drudgeries of life on these volcanic remnants that I can find in the mountains.

The language attracts me.[2]  There seems to be more feeling behind “aloha” than a friendly “hello”.  I like that ALL the vowels are pronounced ALL of the time.  It seems straight-forward and genuine to me that only the important letters are used and all letters used are important.  It is what I imagine of the indigenous peoples of Hawai’i.

Music here seems to be a more integral part of life.  Here, everyone sings.  Dancing has significance through the stories it tells.  I love hearing the combinations of ukulele and and the open ringing chords of slack key guitar.[3]

The water is simply awe-inspiring.  The water is better than bathtub temperature and the plethora of life it sustains is readily evident.  Here, the ocean surf lasts forever and is easy to catch, even for unskilled mountain-lovers like myself.  At the same moment, this is the home of giant waves and the surf is large, demanding, and destructive.

It’s nice to step back into the humid air!

Papakolea (Green Sand beach).
-Island of Hawai'i, Hawai'i [USA]
The deliciousness of this trip was not the food, but the friendship that brings me here.  In this case, I have traveled to Hawai’i to witness the wedding of a dear friend and spend time with his families; which makes them my families.

To me, this wedding is more than the typical ceremony.  It is a commitment.  I feel deep satisfaction when I see these two people willingly agree to accept each other.  I don’t believe that I see this often.  In fact, I believe I rarely see it.

I’m speaking of the commitment in which two people look each other in the eye and knowingly commit to difficulties, hard work, and frustration because they know that the fleeting and elusive moments of happiness and companionship are worth more than several lifetimes of meaningless struggle.  They have confidence that no matter what life may bring them, they will rely on each other and find a way through it.

Thank you for reminding me that these relationships exist and are still cherished.  It is an honor for me to be included and involved in this beautiful ceremony with these types of people that I am privileged call friends.

Once again, I must thank the gods of travel for guiding and directing my paths for incredible and unexpected stories.  This trip did not disappoint!!!

Hawai’i has brought me surfing, volcano exploration, interesting food combinations, bizarre accommodations, laughter, and rekindled friendships.  Mahalo!

"Turtle Restin' Beach".
-Island of Hawai'i, Hawai'i [USA]

1.  I know it’s terribly egotistical of me to believe that I could possibly be important enough to cause an international disaster....  but, what the hell....   -return to the story

2.  The Hawai'ian language (olelo Hawaiʻi), along with English, is the official language of the state of Hawai'i.  After several years of decline (from the 1830's to the 1950's), there has been a gradual increase in attention to the language.  The Hawai'ian alphabet has 13 letters: five vowels (long and short) and eight consonants.  One of the consonants is a glottal stop (called ʻokina in Hawai'ian).
    Vowels:  A, E, I, O, U
    Consonants:  H, K, L, M, N, P, W, '

There are four basic rules in the Hawai'ian language:
    -All words end in a vowel.
    -Every consonant is followed by at least one vowel.
    -Every syllable ends in a vowel.
    -Two consonants never appear next to each other.

A pidgin language is also spoken in Hawaiʻi but it is not the Hawai'ian language referred to here.   -return to the story

3.  Slack-key guitar is a style of guitar music that originated in Hawai'i.  Its name refers to its characteristic open tunings (in Hawai'ian it is called "ki hoʻalu" meaning "loosen the key").  Most slack-key tunings being with the guitar in standard tuning and "slacking" one or more of the strings until all six strings form a single chord (frequently G major).   -return to the story

Ding Ding

First, and foremost, I must say that the word "ding" is truly an amazing word.  By repeating the word, to make it ding-ding, the original amazingness is only, well, more amazing.

To illustrate my point, let's start with some of the many definitions of this word.  Please note that the spelling and grammar rules as they pertain to this word should be very important, but have been completely manufactured by myself.  Definitions that I wish to explore are[1]:
  • Ding Ding:  name used for females of Asian descent in which the repetition of the word adds a distinct amount of cuteness.  Known variations include: Ling Ling, Qing Qing, Ting Ting, Xing Xing, Ying Ying
  • ding ding:  a person lacking general intelligence;  i.e. - someone who is a few to many beans short of a full burrito.  Known variations include: ding-a-ling, ding-dong
  • DingDing:  a mysterious force that can only be truly defined upon finding it;  e.g. - "I am constantly searching for the Great DingDing that will give meaning to all life."
  • ding-ding:  used to describe someone who likes all the bells and whistles;  e.g. For example, "That ding-ding's truck has more lights on it than a UFO." See also "whacker" or "wanker".
  • dING dING:  slang term used by police to describe firefighters.  The origin stems from the sounds of a bell on an antique fire truck.
  • dingding(s):  used to describe various parts of the human anatomy, for either males or females.  Known variations include: ding-a-ling, ding-dong
  • ding/ding:  an illegal slot machine
  • dingding:  presumably[2], some sort of sexually act as defined by a 50+ year old Vietnamese-esque woman in Bahrain as she asked, "I give you ding ding?" while pointing to my groin region.
See?!?!? Isn’t this an amazing word full of amazing insights into the English language?!?!?[3]

For this story, not only will I using as many possible variations of the word “ding” as possible, but will largely focus on the first definition of the word, in which Ding Ding is the name of a female of Asian descent.

Without further ado, please allow me to introduce you, dear reader, to Ding Ding.

Now, let's not prematurely assign any judgements to someone that has Ding Ding as a name.  The particular individual that I wish to speak about was someone that you might have initially presumed to be a real ding ding (someone who is not entirely more than half-empty in the great ”bucket of intelligence”).  No, amigos, in this case, Ding Ding is the name of a Taiwanese woman who was my cabin-mate in a mountain village in Japan; a village from which I was exploring the great DingDing of Skiing.

It WAS clear that Ding Ding was a ding-ding.  She had all the fancy smancy technological devices; she had top name-brand clothing; and, she ALWAYS looked as if she had just stepped right off of the runway.... ALWAYS!

As it turns out, Ding Ding made her living as a travel writer, although she could have done quite well other occupations in which attractiveness and a womanly-shaped body are highly sought after.  Indeed, Ding Ding had more curves than the bell on a Dingding’s truck and wore tighter clothes (which greatly accentuated her various dingding(s)) than a bouncer in front of a southern back-alley ding/ding.

As it turns out, Ding Ding and I were cabin-mates for several days.  At the end of each day, I would return from my search of the great DingDing of Skiing to said winter cabin to find Ding Ding doing a variety of tasks.  I could never find a pattern to these tasks that Ding Ding performed from which I might be allowed to gain any insight to her purpose of being in our little Japanese cabin.  These tasks included:
  • Making instant ramen-type noodles.
  • Meticulously packing and re-packing her bags.
  • Trying an various footwear that could be found around the cabin.
  • Contemplating whether 18 really was the answer to all questions in the universe.

But I digress...

After a few days of the usual pleasantries and the unusual tasks, I endeavored to greater understand Ding Ding.  It was as this point that, with her limited English and my nonexistent Taiwanese[4], that I learned that Ding Ding[5] traveled all over the world and did as she pleased.  She was not bound by the social frameworks of time and money.  No, she traveled and tasked as she pleased and at her leisure.

Well, suffice it to say, that this greatly interested me and prompted me to inquire as to her ability to afford such luxury.  She confidently confessed that she was able to enjoy this auspicious lifestyle by writing a few stories about her travels and submitting them to a Chinese travel magazine.  Well, I must say that these ideas greatly sparked my imagination and caused further inquiries on my part.
Ding Ding continued by greatly encouraging me (which involved a LOT of bowing and reticent looks) to write about my travels.  She was confident that “you like!  for you, lotsa money!!!!”.  Then and there, I vowed to Ding Ding that I would begin writing immediately and take advantage of living a lifestyle similar to hers[6].  The world was to be my oyster and I was to live on the riches of the pearls that it would produce!

And so it is, that with my vow complete and my search of the great DingDing of Skiing temporarily assuaged, I left our magically little mountain cabin.

So, Ding Ding, wherever you are, I begin to complete my vow and thank you for the words of encouragement.  If we ever meet again, I hope that we can drink a cold ding (but not dings) and have one helluva ding while wearing dings and research the possible definitions of dingding.


Auspicious signage.
-Niseko, Hokkaido [Japan]

1.  For your ease of reading, definitions are defined in the order in which they appear in this story of ours.   -return to the story

2.  For the record, only presumption was involved.   -return to the story

3.  Other interesting definitions for the word "ding":
     -Colloquial term referring to the alcoholic beverage "Strongbow".
     -Virginian slang for cocaine [dings].
     -Australian slang for a lively party or celebration (variations: humdinger, wingdinger).
     -Person wearing a Canadian tuxedo (jean pants with a jean jacket).
     -Cantonese for the word "damn".   -return to the story

4.  Indeed, my linguistic knowledge of Taiwan was so poor that I couldn't even distinguish whether dearest Ding Ding spoke Taiwanese Hokkien (spoken by about 70% of the population of Taiwan) or Taiwanese Mandarin (the official language of Taiwan).   -return to the story

5.  Isn't it amazing how her name just rolls off the tongue?!?!?   -return to the story

6.  I must to admit, that at that time, while still under the influence of Ding Ding’s charms, that I would have committed to most anything.   -return to the story

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Hello and welcome!

This here is my first venture into writing.  As such, I feel that I should provide you with a brief background and explanation.

After years of unique and interesting experiences[1], several requests from friends to talk about my life, and a desire to begin telling some[2] of my stories, I've decided to start writing about select experiences.  There isn't any real rhyme nor reason to my writings, at least not at the moment... I'm just telling stories in the way that I tell stories.

At the moment, there are two basic categories of posts, stories and current travels.  I endeavor to write a story and/or post my current travels about once a week.  For your ease of navigation, you might follow these general ideas (of course, you could just visit frequently and read everything that I sling out there...):

General Idea #1:  The stories are titled with one to two words.  Most of these stories have happened in the past and I'm just beginning write them down. These follow no particular chronological order nor any sense of cohesiveness; it's just me rambling away.

General Idea #2:  My recent travels are posted under the title "Travel Log".  This is where I'm at in the world, at least sort of... I hope to make these more a log of my travels, hence the name I have given them.

As you will undoubtedly notice, I have a tendency to write long and complex sentences.  For better or worse, this is how I think.  Instead of trying to trying to change, I'm going to allow you, dear reader, a dark and scary look into my thought processes.  May all that is holy protect you as you suffer through this ride!

For an even more terrifying observation into my psyche, check out the footnotes... just sayin'...

I sincerely hope you enjoy.  I am ultimately writing for myself.  So, please don't mind the edits, changes, and various what-nots that will take place as I work towards a finalized version.

1.  You should read this as "crazy situations resulting from misguided wanderlust and a panache for finding myself hip-deep in atypical situations".   -return to the story

2.  Only some, mind you... I wouldn't want you to know ALL of my stories...   -return to the story