Monthly Archives: August 2012

“Moonrise Kingdom” movie review – best film of 2012!

Moonrise Kingdom Summary: run to see this movie. Best action/adventure flick of the year.

Okay, so I have been out of touch with pop culture for the past ten weeks or so. Last time I went to the movies I saw the trailer for Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Prior to that I did see Hunger Games, which I liked – but all summer I have been in the wilderness of the Cherokee National Forest and environs. Hiking. Nodding off to sleep by the light of the campfire… away from the grid. Not just going without TV, but no phone or internet. Drinking water that came from the ground, not from a faucet. Going for as long a thirty-six hours without seeing other persons. On those days when there were people at the shelter, recapturing the art of conversation with total strangers around a picnic table at some remote location.

Because of this, I am hopelessly out of touch. Never did see the Lincoln movie….. reliable people told me that once you saw the trailer you could skip the actual movie. It was nice to go to the movies again.


Yes. this is the category if you ask me. You don’t need to blow up more and more stuff or kill a bunch of people in exotic ways, to qualify – and as a matter of fact, those movies that just go from one stunt to another are boring after awhile.  I strongly dislike violent movies. Seen too much of the result in real life.

Wes Anderson

Okay, so I admit that I never gave Wes Anderson much thought.  I saw Darjeeling Limited, which I liked because it was filmed in Rajasthan… but have never seen any of his other movies. Until now.

The Best Movies

The best movies are  the ones which completely transport you to another time and place. Latcho Drom was one such – a movie about the Rom people – also known as gypsies. The Cup was another great one –  sure, it had a plot, but it was fascinating to watch scenes such as how they make dinner in a Tibetan monastery.  Amelie.  Then of course,  Slumdog Millionaire. Oh sure, there have been mainstream movies that met this- such as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but I have to admit, my taste runs toward foreign movies or what might be called “art house” flicks. My all time favorite movie? Casablanca with Bogart and Bergman.

The spirit of New England. Norman Rockwell. The Boy Scouts. (oops, the  khaki scouts)

Being a native New Englander, and having been an Eagle Scout, and  being the official bugler….deciding I  wanted to camp with girls instead of a bunch of twelve year old boys – if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you already know that much about me.   You may not also know that I own a Davy Crockett hat, (“coonskin cap”) complete with raccoon tail (gift from my daughter) – but – I do, and it was

The Hero of the movie is a “Khaki Scout” and we get to see him deal with bullies and True Love, as the rest of the characters evelove in their attitude toward him. It’s not easy to be twelve. The coonskin cap was a nice touch.

a delight to see the hero of the movie wearing one.  And so for me this movie evoked a personal sense of wonderment.  I love the coast of New England, with all its quirks. It’s not just the geography I am talking about here. It’s the way the buildings are, the way the people act, and the way the society runs. The minute detail given to  props and background is letter perfect. People in New England are every bit as unique and wonderful as an Amazonian tribe, it’s just that there is no warpaint or feathered costume. The customs are a bit more subtle, and easy to take for granted. Here is a movie that shows the time and place quite well.Boy Scouts? Khaki Scouts?

I suppose for legal reasons, they could not call it the Boy Scouts, but this movie captured the tone of scouts exactly on pitch.  I started Boy Scouts in 1966, the year after the fictional setting of this movie. The movie was set in Maine I suppose – Maine has the bulk of the islands in New England  – though they never pinned it down; the final credits said it was filmed in Rhode Island. The credits also indicated that Wes Anderson’s dad was a scout leader and the film was dedicated to him. It’s so easy to make fun of the Boy Scouts, and Anderson’s glee was obvious.  I actually thought the scouts were treated with just the right mix of respect, satire and humor, and the scene in the treehouse reflected well on the moral development of young men. ahhhhh…… joy!   Somewhere I still have my merit badge sash. To think of it makes me smile. Was I really just as nerdy as the main character in the movie?  Any boy who has survived the age of thirteen can answer that question for himself.

Emotional subplot, motivation, etc

These are key to any story. The characters walked a very delicate line in this regard. The adult characters were three-dimensional, and Bruce Willis was astounding given his previous action/adventure roles. To get great actors such as Harvey Keitel into small character roles was brilliant.  I thought that they were believable and delicious.

On a personal note, my interest is always picqued when I see a certain shade of radiant coppery-colored red hair – very few such persons here in Hawaii. I howled with wonderment and delight that the main heroine, as well as the one who plays “Social Services,” were crowned this way . OMG.


The filmmaker was sufficiently confident as to make small references to other films as a sort of inside joke. For example, a scene where the heroine poses for a provocative sketch in her underwear, ala Titanic. Dancing on the beach (my family owned a “hi-fi” just like the one in the movie…) just like in Risky Business. A chase scene out of Indiana Jones.  The phrase uttered by the young hero just before he is struck by lightning.

In summary, just a delightful film. My nomination for best film of 2012. Go see it.


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simplify and minimalize your life?

Today, my friend Tom Jamrog wrote in his blog that he has tackled his hoarding problem head-on.

The Minimalist Movement

He hauled stuff to the dump; he gave things to Goodwill. But most of all , he mentally let go of the need to have “stuff.” He gave the link to a very interesting blog on Minimalism,  which provides a sort of philosophy of why minimalism is something we need to consider in twentyfirst-century America. The Minimalists give you a 21-day plan to free yourself… based on the idea that it takes three weeks of daily practice before something becomes a “habit.” They advocate such things as selling your car, eliminating extra bills, etc.

Zen Habits

There is also a terrific blog named Zenhabits.   The writer(s) of this blog offer a perspective on how to live an intentional life, one in which the activities are focused on a goal or purpose, not on blind acceptance of consumer culture, and which promotes the idea of simplicity in life. It is a way to achieve internal peace and harmony.

Re-entry shock

I have been trending in this direction for awhile, ever since my first trip to Nepal in 2007. While there I saw a paradox of people who had nothing ( as in, no possessions) but who were still largely leading happy lives ( okay, well, my book is about the dismal state of health care in that country – not quite “happy”   for those who had health problems). When I returned had a full-blown case of re-entry shock. This led me to reconsider the materialistic approach of the average American.

Backpacking as an expression of Zen

When not in Nepal, I have completed two summer long backpacking trips. This is also an exercise in zen – deciding to let go of as much material possessions and mental clutter as you possibly can.  Seeing how well you do.

Advice to nurses

On my other blog, I spend a lot of time giving career advice to nurses who are entering a very complex and daunting work environment. I think most nurses go into the profession with the excellent zen-like goal of compassion and lovingkindness, but can lose sight of this along the way. I think nurses need to find a balance between the pace of work life and the need for inner peace exemplified by these blogs.

This does not mean that nurses have to accept every thing that comes their way – it does mean that nurses save their energy to fight the battles worth fighting for to make better patient care.

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hiking the “Priest” with “Snafu”

Turn off the Television

I have been lazing around C’Ville since returning from Florida. I admit I got hooked into watching the Olympics…… I always do. Yesterday though, was Snafu’s day off and she wanted to go for a hike. I hardly needed to be asked….. of course I want to go, this is like being asked to play catch with Joe DiMaggio. Snafu is in the hiking hall of fame and is just plain fun to spend time with her outdoors.

We got out the maps and tried to visualize which hike to take. Shenandoah? nope, done the whole thing in 2010. something local? nope, we are going to go out with a bang. McAfee’s Knob? hmmm….. probably the single most iconic photo opportunity location on the entire Trail in Virginia; too far away though, likewise Dragon’s tooth. So we settled on The Priest. It would be a 9.6 mile roundtrip with 3,000′ of vertical.

Why the Priest, exactly?

because it’s there! (George Mallory, referring to Sagarmatha also known as Mt Everest)

enter it into the GPS and away we go. We did not get on the trail until 11 o’clock. A bit late……

When we got there we took a look at the Footbridge over the Tye River, then got set up for the hike. I brought just a day pack, but still wore my boots and used my poles. Snafu was very sporty in a hot pink top and a floppy hat from Brasil.

Snafu ran ahead of me the same way she did when she was eight. There was no cell phone reception on the lower part of the trail and she didn’t bring hers anyway. But there were other hikers coming down as we ascended, so we resorted to the ancient way of passing messages – each time she passed somebody going down, she would give them something to say to me (usually “I’m not that far ahead, don’t give up”)  and we also played Marco Polo a couple of times.

I used my solo hiking time to reflect on how much better I am, than in May. Yes, I still huff and puff, I still sweat; but I can go continuously uphill for 4.8 miles with much fewer stops. And my mental attitude is well adjusted. I am ready  to take on all challenges that await me for fall semester. When I do , I will get to the mountaintop!

Why climb The Priest?

“because it’s windy up there and when he tilts his head a certain way, it makes a whistling noise as it goes through the hole in his head” (George Mallory’s sister)

the summit was glorious, despite a rattlesnake which was also sunning itself. Wet Noodle was there, a section hiker who I had not met but whose log entries I had read. I missed him because he took time to attend the Rainbow Gathering, which was in North Carolina this year. Likewise, he’d read my log entries at shelters for two hundred miles, from the whole summer. Soon we were going over the list of names of other hikers we knew in common and and he was telling me what he knew about them. I felt bad to hear that Turbo Snail  had torn the ACL on her knee, forced to stop her hike. We laughed about Forrest and how I bestowed him his nickname. Don’t Know Don’t Care  and Lost Cause were accounted for. In it’s own way this was a perfect recap of my hiking trip….. as he repacked his backpack, I told him that he could leave his hikertrash near our car when he passed through the parking lot, and we would dispose of it.

I am still slow, and despite only having a day pack, i just can’t seem to speed up and fly down hill the way I used to. I gave Snafu permission to not wait for me, and she flew off downhill like Atalanta.

On the drive home I learned that Brasil Women’s V-ball team beat the USA  for the gold medal.  I would have loved to see the game, but I would not have traded the chance to hike with a champion, for anything!


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Honolulu Greek Festival Aug 25th and 26th, 2012.

Be sure to click the hyperlinks, underlined or in a different color text.

Greek Festival

I grew up in Marlboro, Massachusetts, where a small Greek community also lived. I was around Greek dancing when I was young. From the perspective of an outsider, Greek dancing has a wonderful element of community, and of course it is a spectacle of celbration and joy.   In Honolulu, the Greek Festival is coming up, two weeks after I return.  McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Beach Park.

When and where

The doors open on Saturday at noon, and continues into Sunday, admission is $3. There is a schedule loaded with all kinds of interesting things. They bring in a terrific band from L.A. which is as authentic as it gets.

The event starts in the afternoon.  You can dance in the heat of the day, but the dancing does not get serious until 6:30 PM or so when the sun goes down. At that time, you can join the trance…… magic happens……  Rules of the venue require it to stop at 9 PM Saturday. The last forty-five minutes are at a fever pitch, and you will think you are somewhere in the Aegean Sea….

This is me with the beard.  My daughter says I am trying to be “The Most Interesting Man in the World” – that would be a switch. I sometimes think I am kind of boring.

I don’t know how my knee will hold out…… we’ll see…… BUT, if it does you will see me there. Making a spectacle of myself, as in the past five years in a row.

My musical past

I used to be a member of The Huddled Masses Orchestra, a band that accompanied folk dancing in Maine. we took our name from the famous poem. When people came to our events, we always showed them how to do some simple steps. If you see me there, don’t by shy. Introduce yourself. You can join the same dance line as me, I promise to keep it simple.

If you have never done Greek dancing, there are some great examples on YouTube these days.

some guidelines about joining in the dance

There is a great article from Go Los Angeles about the unwritten rules of Greek dance.  For a beginner, it sometimes looks chaotic, but it is not.

I am cutting-and-pasting here. One thing I would add is, most of the time any given band does not announce what kind of dance step they are about to play. The musicians assume the audience can tell the difference. ( and in Honolulu, they are many excellent dancers who can do so.). It’s a good idea to wait a minute to figure this out, or to hang with somebody who can.

A few Greek dances are danced as couples or solo, but most Greek dances are danced in a line. The line moves generally to the right and the person on the end with their right hand free is the leader.  Everyone else follows the leader.

When a dance has a lot of variations, there is no particular order to dance those steps, so the leader calls the steps with hand signals. It is important to watch the leader to know what is coming next. If the leader is not using hand signals, you have to watch their feet.

The first rule of Greek dancing is never try to join a line at the right end (beginning of the line). Sometimes you will see the leader offer the lead to another dancer, but no one takes over the lead without an invitation.

Beginners should always join at the back of the line. You will see experienced dancers break into the middle of a line. There are two reasons for doing this. One is to dance next to friends who are already in the line. The second reason that experienced dancers will break into the middle of the line is so they don’t have to trip over beginners who don’t know the steps. So if you don’t know the steps, go to the back. Don’t break into the middle of a line.

Sometimes, if the line is long, you end up opposite the leader at the other end of the circle and it’s hard to follow the steps because you are looking at them backwards. If it’s crowded, you might not be able to see the leader through the crowd of other dancers. If you’re having a hard time getting the steps, you might want to go behind the leader for a few minutes to practice the steps before joining the end of the line.

The most common dance is the Syrto. It is easy to learn because most people dance it without variations and the bands like to play 20 minute Syrto medleys, so there is plenty of time to pick up the 12-step slow-quick-quick slow-quick-quick rhythm. (This doesn’t apply if you get in my line. My feet get bored doing the same 12 steps for 20 minutes, so I throw in lots of variations.)

At many Greek Festivals they teach a couple of the dances once or twice a day so that beginners get a chance to learn the steps properly. You can also ask some of the more experienced dancers to show you the steps in between songs or when the band takes a break.

If you find the line dances intimidating, you can still join in the Tsifteteli, the Greek version of a belly danced which can be danced as a couple or solo. There are no steps, just get out there and wiggle.

The other dance you will see people dancing alone is the Zembekiko, or drunkard’s dance. This also has no specific steps, but involves stumbling around precariously to the rhythm of the music. In the Zembekiko you will see several dancers down on one knee clapping around a particular dancer, and then they’ll trade off. There are no rules. You can dance alone or you can join the clapping for someone else. As long as you’re having fun, you’re doing just fine.

Now go out and hit the dance floor. Opa!


the three Greek dances they are guaranteed to play

If you wish to prepare, be advised that a reasonably coordinated person can usually pick up the steps to the most commonly done dances, very quickly. (click on the underlined sections)

1) Syrto, part one and part two. Also, here is a link to a really clear teaching video about the Kalamatiano, a related dance.  the best, in my opinion.

2) Zonaradiko – which is Bulgaria would be called a pravo….. or in Israel, the Hora.

3) Tsamico – in 3/4 time. when you watch this one, don’t be distracted by the first two guys in line – the third and fourth guy are doing the “basic step” and that’s all a beginner needs to know.  The first two guys are strutting their stuff, which is very entertaining, everyone else has a spot in the front row!


If you can do the ones above, you will be able to participate in two-thirds of the action.

The band usually also plays a Hasapiko or two; these get a bit more complicated. The local Greek community will always do some zebekeiko.  (there seem to be ten ways to spell this word…). This is a solo dance, and you will be impressed by the high level of skill and passion.

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Some day I will organize my Junk Drawer

Gentle reader:

I have three blogs.

Nursing in Hawaii is where I give advice on issues of the day especially nursing labor force issues.

Nepal Critical Care 2013 is where I write about Global Health Nursing.

and then – this one.

I thank you for staying with my travels this summer. I return to Oahu and to school next week though, and I will be retitled and refocusing this one so that it is no longer focused on my backpacking trip. I enjoy writing about non-nursing topics. In the past I threw these in with the other two blogs – for example, writing about wanting to buy a Pocket Trumpet or attending a Capoeira class. But I wish to use the first two blogs to write about nursing and global health, and all the internet advice says you get more hits if you keep it focused and not so – quirky.



The price of being eclectic

If you have stuck with me, you should now by now that I am eclectic and I live on a sparsely-populated fringe of pop culture. I love music but not the stuff you hear on the radio. I am Catholic and have worked with Christian Missionaries but I have studied Buddhism and Hinduism. I keep up with current affairs but don’t watch much television. I can do masonry, electrical wiring, sheetrock, carpentry and plumbing but I presently own just a few tools. I can phonetically read Cyrillic and Devanagari and used to sing in Polish when I was with the polka band back east. I enjoy playing sports but not watching.  I know how to defibrillate but I try not to rely on the remote when watching television.

Yeah, that’s me.

Junk Drawer?

Sometimes I think my life has been like one of those junk drawers people have in their kitchen – the place where stuff gets thrown when you don’t have a better spot and you hope to sort it out later. So, this will now be the place where I write about: The Royal Elephant Brass Band; strange things that happen in Honolulu; interesting people I meet; the process of creating my second book which I hope to embark upon; my family; Brasil; and everything else.

and so, I am renaming this blog. “Junk Drawer” will be part of the title. I don’t expect to write here every day, and I can’t say what the topic will be. If you choose to unsubscribe, now is the time, and there will be no hard feelings…….




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Trip to Port Charlotte – “God’s Waiting Room”

while on the mainland, i made a quick trip to visit my folks in Florida.


They have been married sixty-one years this summer.

So, we were driving in the car, and instead of sitting in front with my dad, (so as to make use of leg room) I opted to sit in the back seat. My mom has had knee surgery in the past and she too could use the leg room.


flashback to childhood and all previous times I was in the car with these two.

my mom started singing. She is liable to burst into song at any moment. many childhood memories of her, doing some chore such as washing the dishes, while whistling. she always had an amazing sense of pitch and could whistle the same tune  in more than one key.

the tune? “Side By Side”

You may not be familiar with the tune. click here for a You Tube. ( alas, this video is a clip from the movies in 1944; I wish I had Alicia doing it…)

it was very sweet of her.

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