Friday, December 30, 2011
2011: IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR
Frank Sinatra had several good years, as he reminisced in song. When he reached his autumn period, there was some mention of aged wines. Well, in many ways, in this season of my life, I was re-born, and certainly enjoyed wines...and scotch and beer and martinis...to initiate...what...I'm not sure.
In February, I golfed 198 holes just at the Ala Wai Golf Course. This is the so-called busiest course in the world, and just getting starting times can be difficult. I've lost count, but when I return to this venue later this afternoon, I go with my monthly card already filled.
But all was not perfect for Sinatra. Good comes with some bad. I landed at Narita Airport on March 12, only hours after that 9.1 earthquake and tsunami. It was a nightmare trying to find my way with a bunch of suitcases to the Tokyo Westin Hotel. Over the next few weeks I traveled throughout Japan, but never quite got to Fukushima. In these week of crisis, I first escaped to Beijing, but then, got a little closer in Seoul, and returned to Tokyo. I also experienced a 7.1 and another 7.0 earthquake.
The nuclear catastrophe, however, inspired me to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where I learned something totally unexpected. All that radioactive Uranium and Plutonium with half lives of hundreds of thousand years are "gone," yet both cities are thriving. How can that be? What it is, and this after considerable discussion with my virtual network, is that the longer the half life, the less the radioactivity danger. An Atomic Bomb does catastrophic damage through the explosion and heat, but that dreaded Plutonium-239 has almost no radiative health effects, and you can even eat it (mind you, I wouldn't breathe small particles, as I wouldn't also for asbestos)...and survive. The isotopes of Fukushima, however, have very short half lives, and therefore are very radioactive: Iodine 131 (8 days--which means 1000 days later, or seven half lives, the radiation has largely abated) and strontium/cesium (30 years--meaning it would take almost 4000 years to become relatively "safe"). Mind you, seven half lives mean that 1/128 of the radioactivity still remains. The Japanese government essentially is saying, though, that the danger abates at five half lives, or, in the case of strontium/cesium, people can return after 360 years (where 1/32 of the dangerous radioactivity still remains). Of course, what they will do is skim off and cart away the hot layer, and with rain "helping", let the people from much of the contaminated region return "soon." That would not be smart.
So far, not a particularly good year. Much of May through September involved a lot of golf and more wine. There is something about peace of mind and freedom to do almost whatever you want in Hawaii that might well exceed climbing Mount Everest or winning the lottery. It all depends on your goals.
On 3October2011 I started my around the world journey. I broke my record with 24 different alcoholic drinks between Honolulu and Bangkok. Incredibly enough, I arrived alive and the next day was back to normal. However, I underwent part one of my life-changing epiphany: it occurred to me that 24 drinks (note that in the photo above I was on my 24th and looked okay) in that period was crazy. You will note that while the rest of my trip was not close to the lifestyle of anyone into Alcoholics Anonymous, there was a definite improvement.
The trip continued, the highlights being the cuisine at eight Pellegrino Best 100 Restaurants. I participated in an Occupy gathering and was ketchupped in Stockholm, was bitten by a spider in Rio (which, nevertheless, is the greatest city in the world), tangoed in Buenos Aires, and returned to San Francisco. Plus, there is cumulative value to just talking to taxi drivers, tour guides, government officials, company executives and friends in Bangkok, Tokyo (and a dozen other cities in Japan), Zurich, Amsterdam, Stockholm, London, Rio, Buenos Aires, Lima, Cuzco, Las Vegas, Reno and San Francisco. I posted HuffPos entitled:
The highlight, though, had to be Machu Picchu, for I completed my tribute to Pearl. I will now move on with the rest of my life, my Epiphany 2. This 43 days around the world adventure will probably never be exceeded, yet, that doesn't stop me from thinking about one final extravagance next year to hit more Pellegrino Best 100s, only go to places I will enjoy (these global missions were laced with ordeals, for like getting to Machu Picchu, India was painful to experience just to arrive at the Taj Majal, and vaccinations, assorted security dangers and general deprivation associated with Africa were only marginally worth the sacrifice so that I could spread Pearl's ashes on Mount Kilimanjaro), while minimizing lectures and HuffPos. I might even abandon this blog. I seem not be making much of a positive difference for Planet Earth and Humanity, as no one even comments. I continue to be amazed and really disappointed that 250 people daily click on this blog site (go to right column, click on Visitors and then on VISITOR CHART), and I get almost zero comments.
But tomorrow, you will be astonished, entertained and otherwise enhanced by my predictions for what could be a fateful year for you: 2012. I can already predict that next year will be the most monumental one of your entire life.
The American stock market was the only major venue in the plus this year. China and Russia were down by 21% or so. The Dow Jones Industrials fell 71 to end the year at 12,216, +5.5% for year. Even the S&P was slightly up, and we were the only major stock market to actually increase this year, unlike China and Russia, down by around 21%. Gold rose $5/toz to $1563, while oil ended the year at $99/barrel (WTI) and $108/barrel (Brent).