Monthly Archives: September 2015

WELCOME TO HAWAII

If you’ve read my blogs for awhile you know I’m very partial to Hawaii as a great vacation spot; and, although each of the sandwich isles has their high points, Maui is my favorite.  I’ll explain why later.

Here’s a quick trip through the main islands of our 50th state.

  1. Oahu is the most populous island with almost one million people and the site of the state’s capital, Honolulu. Oahu’s topography consists of two main mountain ranges that are separated by a valley as well as a coastal plain that rings the island.  Oahu’s beaches and shops make it one of Hawaii’s most visited islands.  Some of Oahu’s top attractions are the great surfing on the North Shore, Waikiki, and the Polynesian Cultural Center.  Pearl Harbor is a special place to visit.
  1. The island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, is the largest of Hawaii’s islands, with a total area of 4,028 square miles. It is also the largest island in the United States.  Like the other islands of Hawaii, it was formed by a hotspot in the Earth’s crust.  It is the most recently formed of Hawaii’s islands and, as such, it is the only one that is still volcanically active.  The Big Island is home to three active volcanoes and Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.  The highest point on the Big Island is the dormant volcano Mauna Kea at 13,796 feet.  The Big Island has a total population of 148,677 and its largest cities are Hilo and Kailua-Kona.  It is home to several outstanding, all-inclusive resorts.
  1. Kauai is the oldest of the main islands and is located the farthest away from the hotspot that formed the islands. As such, its mountains are more highly eroded and its highest point is Kawaikini at 5,243 feet.  Kauai’s mountain ranges are rugged, however, and the island is known for its steep cliffs and rugged coastline.  Kauai is known as the Garden Isle for its undeveloped land and forests.  It is very green and lush because it enjoys a lot of short intense showers, particularly late afternoons and nights.  It is also home to the Waimea Canyon and five state parks.  Tourism is the main industry on Kauai and it is located 105 miles north of Oahu.  Kauai’s population is 65,689.
  1. Molokai has a total area of 260 square miles and is located 25 miles east of Oahu. It is accessible from both Oahu and Maui.  Most of Molokai is also part of Maui County and has a population of 7,404.  Molokai’s topography consists of two distinct volcanic ranges.  They are known as East Molokai and West Molokai and the highest point on the island.  Kamakou, at 4,961 feet, is a part of East Molokai.  These mountains, however, are extinct volcanoes that have since collapsed.  Their remains give Molokai some of the highest cliffs in the world.  Molokai is known as the friendly isle and its south shore has the world’s longest fringing reef.
  1. Lanai is the sixth largest of the main Hawaiian islands, with a total of 140 square miles. The only town on the island is Lanai City and the island has a population of only 3,193.  Lanai is known as the Pineapple Island because in the past the island was covered by a pineapple plantation.  Today, Lanai is mainly undeveloped and much of its roadways are unpaved.  There are, however, two resort hotels and two famous golf courses on the island; as a result, tourism is a large part of its economy.  Lanai is a nice day trip by catamaran from Lahaina, Maui.
  1. Maui is my favorite of all the islands because it has a varied, colorful and sensual topography. It has more to do than any of the other outer islands and still retains its laid-back, relaxing feeling.  Maui is the second largest of Hawaii’s islands, with a total area of 727 square miles and a population of 117,644.  Maui’s nickname is the Valley Isle.  There are lowlands along its coasts, with several different mountain ranges that are separated by valleys.  The highest point on Maui is Haleakala, at 10,023 feet.

Maui’s economy is based mainly on agriculture and tourism; and its main agricultural products are coffee, macadamia nuts, flowers, sugar, papaya and pineapple.  Wailuku is the largest city on Maui, right near the airport.

There are five main tourist areas on Maui; four on the west coast.  Starting from the north end, there is Kapalua and Napili featuring a Ritz Carlton and an extensive resort area.

Next in line is the Kaanapali Resort and Lahaina, the old whaling port town.  Kaanapali features about seven large hotels and several condo complexes, as well as a great beach.  The Whaler’s Village Shopping Center is shops and museum on the mall.

Lahaina still has some remnants of its whaling past as well as many shops, galleries and restaurants.

Coming down further south is Kihei, a laid-back town with nice parks and beaches.  Lots of condos but not many hotels.

The area further south is Wailea and Makena.  It features more than one-half dozen first-class hotels, lots of condos, four great golf courses and great beaches, all sitting under the gaze of Haleakala.

Then there is upcountry, with the ranches and communities leading up the mountain to the volcano.

Schwartz’s Recommendations for Maui:

  • Submarine ride in Lahaina
  • Railroad trip between Lahaina and Kaanapali
  • Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea (between Kihei and Lahaina)
  • Bike ride down Halaekala or drive up/down
  • Helicopter ride around the island (45 to 90 minutes)
  • Hana and Seven Pools (all-day drive is rough, but you can fly)
  • Snorkel trips from Maalaea Harbor or the Prince Hotel
  • Walk behind the Wailea Hotels (about a mile along the ocean)
  • Bike or auto to end of the road past Makena Resort Hotel to Perouse Bay
  • Sunset cruise(s)—best bets are big catamarans (non-dinner)
  • Tropical Plantation (everything which grows in Hawaii)
  • Take the boat (from Lahaina) for an all-day trip/tour to Molokai
  • All-day boat trip/tour to Lanai on the Trilogy boat (from Lahaina)
  • IAO Valley and Oriental Gardens
  • There are some great hikes and tours to rain forests

Restaurants

  • Nick’s Fish Market at Kea Lani Hotel * 1
  • Mama’s Fish House * 1 (fabulous setting, past the airport, great for lunch after helicopter ride, windsurfing area)
  • 5 Palms at Mana Kai Resort in Kihei 3 (great view, great spot for lunch)
  • Tommy Bahama’s in Shops at Wailea 2
  • Prince Court at Makena Resort 2
  • Gannons in Wailea Golf Club 2 (great view, all day and sunset)
  • Halemaille General Store (upcountry) 2
  • Makena Golf Club 3 (lunch, great view)
  • Aroma D’Italia in Kihei 3
  • Fabiani’s in Wailea 3
  • Longhi’s in Shops at Wailea 2
  • Gerards in Lahaina 1

*Pricey—the rest are more moderately priced and informal.

Numbers indicate food ranking:  1 is tops, 2 is pretty close to tops, 3 is casual and good.

ArtSchwartzSig

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LOOKING AT A CHANGING AMERICA

A recent poll by Gallup says that right now in the USA, political left- and right-leaning Americans are tied in numbers.

A poll of more than 1,000 adults asked Americans to describe themselves on social issues.

  • 5% say they are very conservative
  • 26% conservative in general
  • 33% moderate
  • 21% liberal
  • 10% very liberal
  • 4% don’t know what they are

That’s the first time since 1999 that conservatives have not outnumbered liberals.  So why is this happening?

I believe that no more than 50% of the American people take the time to understand important issues.  The other half are unwilling and unable to discipline themselves into formulating a philosophy of life.

The second factor driving the trend to the left in the U.S. is media, not the news media.  Most Americans don’t even bother with the news anymore.  It is the entertainment industry and social media that are putting forth a more libertine lifestyle.

In cyberspace, progressive websites vastly outnumber traditional websites.  That’s because traditional people don’t use the net as much as their progressive counterparts.  So the stars are lined up in favor of liberal thought, and that is a powerful influence.

Let’s take a look at the social issues themselves.

In 2001, just 40% of the American public believed gay or lesbian relations were morally acceptable.  Now that number stands at 63%, a huge change.

That’s because the entertainment industry has mainstreamed the gay lifestyle.  Look at “Modern Family,” for example.  One of the most successful TV programs, even though it’s a comedy, the message of tolerance sinks in, especially among younger Americans.

Then you add a heavy dose of the stars themselves being liberal on gay issues and you have a strong change agent.

Those opposed to the gay marriage issue have not been able to vividly articulate their vision; and some who support gay marriage have branded the opposition as bigots, a powerful indictment.

Second issue—having a baby outside of marriage.  In 2002, 45% of Americans found it morally acceptable; today, 61%

Again, that is driven by the entertainment industry and lack of peer pressure to keep child-rearing within the marital arena.

Although some Americans can raise children outside of marriage very well, this trend has badly damaged our society, often leading to poverty and lack of supervision.  Millions of kids are getting hammered.

On the subject of abortion:  In 2001, 42% found it morally acceptable; fourteen years later, 45% do.  This is an area where the entertainment industry and the progressive movement have failed to move the dial.  Most Americans understand that destroying a potential human being is not a righteous act.

Science has now established that human DNA is present at conception, so there really isn’t much debate about it.  If human life is sacrosanct and that is one of the pillars of the American Constitution, then abortion is a troubling situation; unless, of course, there are drastic medical circumstances in play.

So the progressives have not made any inroads when it comes to shutting down life.

Same thing with the death penalty:  In 2001, 63% of Americans found it morally acceptable; in 2015, 60% do.  Again, this goes back to the sanctity of life, even if the person receiving the death penalty deserves the punishment.

I would oppose the state putting anyone to death if the punishment I would give heinous criminals would make them wish they were dead.  They would be totally isolated in a hard labor facility.

Finally, Americans are appalled socially by one act…adultery.

In 2001, only 7% of Americans condoned marital affairs; in 2015, just 8% do.  Few who are married want to be betrayed, so all theory and politics fly right out that window.  America isn’t France!  When it comes to marital behavior, more than 90% of Americans want exclusivity.

Gallup also did a poll on economic issues, and here Americans are far more conservative.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans say they are conservative when it comes to how the government runs the economy; just 19% describe themselves as liberal.

That’s fascinating because we the people twice elected a man who believes that capitalism must be dramatically changed.  Barack Obama is the most liberal president on economic issues the republic has ever had.  Again, I think it goes back to understanding many Americans simply have not grasped Mr. Obama’s political philosophy.

They voted for him because of his charisma and his historic position as the first black man to achieve the White House.

Going forward, many people believe America is in for a big shock.  We don’t know how that shock is going to be delivered, but we know that we are heading in the wrong direction on just about every important issue; and the polls back that up.

Two-thirds of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction.  Whether it’s another brutal terror attack here or an economic collapse of some kind, we can’t tell.

But what we can say with certainty is that the public school system is on the verge of collapse, that chaos in the minority precincts is as bad as it’s ever been, and that the drive to legalize marijuana and other drugs will sap initiative and create millions of addicts.  Also, our foreign policy is in absolute shambles.

With all that in play, Americans are evenly divided ideologically.  But when the bill comes due and something awful happens, this country will likely snap back to more traditional thinking.

ArtSchwartzSig

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THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS

A popular topic of conversation has always been to ask what I did before retiring.  After I give my little spiel about “having the smallest conglomerate in the world,” a lot of people comment that they would like or would have liked to go into business themselves.

So if anyone’s interested, here’s an outline of 11 Traits Those in Business Share in Common and the 7 Mistakes That Can Kill Your Business.  These are guides, not tests.

  • An eye for opportunity

Many successful entrepreneurs begin by sensing a need, then moving quickly to fill it.  This is either an entirely new product or service, or something as simple as opening the only children’s clothing store in a large mall.

  • An appetite for hard work

Most entrepreneurs work long, hard hours.  They focus on their real priorities, especially when times are tough.  (Those who avoid the tough problems by burying themselves in their original area of expertise often fail.)

  • Discipline

It’s not just how hard you work, but the way you work that counts.  Successful owners/managers resist the temptation to do what comes easiest.  Instead, they do what is most essential.

  • Independence

Typical entrepreneurs have a strong drive toward independence, plus the ability to be a good team player when the need for cooperation arises.

  • Self-confidence

Entrepreneurs must be extremely self-confident to accept the risks involved in starting a business.  This helps them overcome enormous obstacles to achieve their goals.  In addition, they can temper their self-confidence with objectivity and change course and cut losses when necessary.

  • Adaptability

Successful entrepreneurs adjust to the changing demands of a growing business and develop the skills to deal with them.  They become managers of other people’s work so their business can grow quickly and achieve spectacular success.

  • Judgment

Entrepreneurs make wise decisions without taking too much time to make up their minds.  When they lack the knowledge to make sound decisions on their own, they seek information and advice without hesitation.

  • Ability to tolerate stress

Entrepreneurs face many crises on the road to prosperity.  To survive, they often unwind with sports and hobbies.  Many are encouraged by the understanding of their spouses and families.

  • Need to achieve

Successful entrepreneurs have a single-minded, almost compulsive desire to succeed.  Although financial rewards are important, they are often secondary in the drive towards personal achievement.

  • A focus on profits

Running a business brings many rewards—independence, community prestige, personal satisfaction—but entrepreneurs never lose sight of the need to make a profit.  They know that return on investment is the ultimate measure of success.

  • Self-awareness

Almost ALL entrepreneurs start with some weaknesses.  Those who succeed recognize their limitations and are always ready to seek and use outside help when the situation demands it.

Seven Mistakes That Can Kill Your Business:

  • Running out of cash

In the euphoria of starting a business, it’s easy to overlook the gap between making the first sales and banking the money.  Often the wait is too long and many new companies run out of cash.  A cash-flow budget helps you predict highs and lows in time to take corrective action fast.

  • Not knowing your customers

Changes in your customers’ preferences and your competitor’s products can leave you in the dust—unless you get to know who your audience really is, what they want now, and will likely want next.

  • Doing it all on your own

You might be the key to everything but you cannot DO everything and grow at the same time.  Even modest initial success can overwhelm you unless you hire staff and delegate responsibility.  But how do you hire the right person in the right place at the right time—and at the right price?

  • Ignoring employees

Motivating and managing your employees is one of your greatest challenges.  More employees mean more “people problems.”  Left unresolved, they can destroy morale, productivity and profits.

  • No business plan

If you rely purely on instinct to guide your business instead of a written plan, you’re headed for trouble.  A plan helps you focus on where your company is going and why…and how you’re doing along the way.  Creating a plan is simple, if you follow the guidelines.

  • Computer chaos – you have to be computer literate

Computers offer many benefits, but unless you know how to harness their power you risk a nightmare of confusion and waste, in time and money.  Learn the key decisions you should make before buying or changing systems.

  • Ignore the numbers – it’s not how much money to have in the bank

As an owner/manager, your primary goal is to make a profit.  You need to know where you stand on a regular basis (monthly), with a timely system of recording and analyzing key financial data.

ArtSchwartzSig

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GAINING ACCEPTANCE FOR BETA SIGMA GAMMA

Back in the days of our youth and enthusiasm, Beta Sigma Gamma was a really great experience.  We had lots of fun, debated many issuers into the night, and thought we were on the leading edge of a wave that would spread to all the colleges and make a significant contribution to the civil rights movement.

It didn’t work out that way and it’s a great disappointment to see the Strattfield segregation of college campuses today in housing, clubs and activities.

I described how it all got started and how I joined in blogs dated 3/6/13 and 6/12/13.

Here’s a little more to the story in seven vignettes of life at Beta Sig.

  1. After Getting Approval from the UCONN administration to take over one of the new housing units, we were able to gain acceptance from the other fraternities because we had a stockpile of musical groups that were available for parties. Our musician members, led by Donny Conn, helped to get entertainment for these parties.  In addition, we had a number of members who were outstanding athletes so we shined in intramural basketball and track.
  1. Picketing the Barber Shop. There was one barber shop among a few stores on the south end of the campus.  In our attempt to further our cause, we decided to picket the barber shop because they didn’t want to cut the hair of our black members.  So we mounted a picket line and were immensely proud of ourselves for creating a stir and making a statement.  We were brought back to earth when some of our black members said, “Why did you bother?  They don’t know how to cut our hair.  We’d rather go into Hartford to get a haircut.”
  1. The Great Debate. When I was president, about 1953, someone (don’t remember who) proposed we install a quota system to limit the number of members by religious or racial preferences.  It was a contentious proposal and sparked a series of very heated debates.  Some of the discourse got really hot and I was concerned it would tear things apart.  Fortunately, when it came to a vote, the quota system idea was soundly defeated.
  1. Robert Wagner—yes, the famous actor and the young star of the movie Blue Moon—came to dinner with Robert Benchly. Wagner was our age so it was an exciting evening.
  1. Myron “Buzzy” Bazarian, one of our member’s who was a classical music student needed to make some extra cash so he would occasionally play in one of Donny’s musical groups. The only problem was he didn’t have his own bass.  An elaborate scheme was hatched where Buzzy, with two helpers, would jimmy open a basement window at the music building so a bass could be borrowed for the evening.  The bass was returned the next day exactly the same way.  It was a successful caper, never to be exposed.
  1. Not To Be Outdone by all the other fraternities, we felt we had to have an induction ceremony for our new pledges. It was led by our prankster-in-chief, Donny Conn.  The only difference was this became a comical satire of pledge induction ceremonies.  Everyone was laughing so hard, we never saw anyone get inducted.
  1. In 1953, We Helped encourage and support the founding of a Delta Pi, a women’s sorority based on the same principles of equality as Beta Sig. We now had two successful living models on the UCONN campus.

Beta Sigma and Delta Pi closed their doors in the late sixties after almost two decades in existence.  Explanations for their demise vary, but enrollments declined as the Viet Nam War and political unrest raged.  It was a time when interest in Greek organizations on campus waned and Beta Sig and Delta Pi had no large national organization for support.

Some might ask, “Does It Matter”?  Yes, the experiment worked.  Every day we learn of another hateful act of violence or divisive language fueling clashing ideologies across America.  Somehow the need for tolerance and understanding through personal engagement with those of differing views seems very relevant indeed.  Although Beta Sig and Delta Pi no longer exist in brick and mortar, their spirit prevails.  Bravo for the good guys.

Sad to report, the light of my good friend and founder of Beta Sig, Donny Conn, passed away recently, on September 2nd.

ArtSchwartzSig

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FIGHTING THE RISE OF ANTI-SEMITISM

Here are some thoughts from David Brooks of the New York Times and the Simon Wiesenthal Center on this problem and their view on the antidote.

First, David Brooks:

“Anti-Semitism is rising around the world.  So the question becomes:  What can we do to fight it?  Do education campaigns, marches or conferences work?

“There are three major strains of anti-Semitism circulating, different in kind and virulence, and requiring different responses.

“In the Middle East, anti-Semitism has the feel of a deranged system for distorting a world gone astray.  Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, doesn’t just oppose Israel, he has called it the ‘sinister, unclean, rabid dog of the region.’  He has said its leaders ‘look like beasts and cannot be called human.’

“President Hassan Rouhani of Iran reinstated a conference of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.  In Egypt, the top military staff attended a lecture on the deranged Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  The region is still rife with the usual conspiracy theories—that the Jews were behind 9/11, drink the blood of non-Jews, spray pesticides across Egyptian lands.

“This form of anti-Semitism cannot be reasoned away because it doesn’t exist on the level of reason.  It can only be confronted with deterrence and force, at the level of fear.  The challenge for Israel is to respond to extremism without being extreme.  The enemy’s rabidity can be used to justify cruelty, even in cases where restraint would be wiser.  Israeli leaders try to walk this line, trying to use hard power, without becoming a mirror of the foe, sometimes well, sometimes not.

“In Europe, anti-Semitism looks like a response to alienation.  It’s particularly high where unemployment is rampant.  Roughly half of all Spaniards and Greeks express unfavorable opinions about Jews.  The plague of violence is fueled by young Islamic men with no respect and no place to go.

“Thousands of Jews a year are just fleeing Europe.  European governments can demonstrate solidarity with their Jewish citizens by providing security, cracking down—broken-windows style—on even the smallest assaults.  Meanwhile, brave and decent people can take a page from Gandhi and stage campaigns of confrontational nonviolence; marches, sit-ins and protests in the very neighborhoods where anti-Semitism breeds.  Expose the evil of the perpetrators.  Disturb the consciences of the good people in these communities who tolerate them.  Confrontational nonviolence is the historically proven method to isolate and delegitimize social evil.

“The United States is also seeing a rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents.  But this country remains an astonishingly non-anti-Semitic place.  America’s problem is the number of people who can’t fathom what anti-Semitism is or who think Jews are being paranoid or excessively playing the victim.

“On college campuses, many young people have been raised in a climate of moral relativism and have no experience with those with virulent evil beliefs.   They sometimes assume that if Israel is hated, then it must be because of its cruel and colonial policies in the West Bank.

“In the Obama administration, there are people who know that the Iranians are anti-Semitic, but they don’t know what to do with that fact and put this mental derangement on a distant shelf.  They negotiate with the Iranian leaders, as if anti-Semitism was some off quirk, instead of what it is, a core element of their mental architecture.

“Groups fighting anti-Semitism sponsor educational campaigns and do a lot of consciousness-raising.  I doubt these things do much to reduce active anti-Semitism.  But they can help non-anti-Semites understand the different forms of this cancer in our midst.”

Probably the most aggressive and effective organization fighting anti-Semitism in many parts of the world is the Simon Wiesenthal Center directed by Rabbi Marvin Hier here in Los Angeles.

From a recent recap, here are some of their activities:

“From Washington, D.C., Ottawa and Buenos Aires, to deeply troubled areas in Europe, including Belgium, France and Scandinavia, and across Asia, the Center has been there, working to thwart the haters, preserve the memory and lessons of the Holocaust, and proudly share the values and history of our people.

“In Lithuania…The Center has been one of the only voices in opposition to the annual celebration of Lithuanian independence.  The celebration has been hijacked by the Union of Lithuanian Nationalist Youth, who espouse enmity toward minorities and seek to rewrite their country’s Holocaust history by glorifying Nazi collaborators and actively participated in the mass murder of their fellow Jewish citizens.

“In France…The CEO of French cellular company Orange declared the company would divest from Israel so it could be ‘one of the trustful partners of all Arab countries,’ evoking 1930s western companies seeking to be ‘partners of the Nazis.’  The CEO backtracked after widespread protests from the Center and others.

“In Israel…Center leaders presented at the Global Forum, addressing such high-level issues as anti-Semitism and terrorism, anti-Semitism on campus, and the role of international organizations in combating anti-Semitism.

“In Azerbaijan, a leading moderate Muslim nation, Center Associate Dean spoke to a major international conference about the dangers of digital terrorism and hate and the pervasive online threats against Jews, Christians and Muslims.

“When the Palestinians demanded that the international soccer organization FIFA ban Israel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center was the only group to stage a counter-protest.  Dr. Shimon Samuels exposed anti-Israel and anti-Semitic literature at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.  And finally, we continue to be on the frontlines in combating the insidious BDS anti-peace campaigns targeting Christian churches and so many of our nation’s campuses.

“The Center is uniquely positioned to raise an alarm against anti-Semitism and to effectively counter campaigns to de-legitimize the Jewish State.  As an official Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations, UNESCO and the European Union, we have access to governments and international diplomacy.”

Anti-Semitism never seems to go away.  It appears to ebb and flow with the need by insecure people to find a scapegoat.

ArtSchwartzSig

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