Jan 23, 2014

The World Game

A couple of weeks ago, Delorese Gregoire, the founding director of Winners’ Camp, found a number of these “Imagine” posters.    I was reminded of the time  we brought Buckminster Fuller’s  World Game to the Hilton Dome, as a benefit for Winners’ Camp — then a relatively young organization.  The posters were used to promote the World Game.  The  Hilton Dome was designed by Fuller, so it was the right place for the World Game.

It was the 1980s.

It was the decade when there was the disastrous gas leak in Bohpal.  Famine in Ethiopia.  Chernobyl. The Challenger disaster.  Pan Am flight 103. A hole was discovered in the ozone layer.  The U.S. bombed Libya.   It was the decade that students were massacred in Tianamen Square.

It was also the decade that the first woman was named to the Supreme Court.  The first woman in space.  Sun Myung Moon married more than 2000 couples at Madison Square Garden.  The movie E.T. was released.  The recording “We Are the World” by the supergroup USA for Africa was released.  Gorbachev proclaimed Glasnost and Perestroika, and The Berlin Wall fell.

It was also the decade that Buckminster Fuller concluded “For the first time in history, it is now possible to take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known … All humanity now has the option to become enduringly successful.”   Twenty years earlier, Fuller had predicted the end of poverty by the year 2000.  And in 1977, 1500 scientists and the National Academy of Sciences said in their “World Food and Nutrition Report” that if there were the political will in the U.S. and abroad, the worst affects of hunger and malnutrition could be overcome in one generation.

The World Game was a presentation of resources and resource use on the planet:  population,  food, electricity and nuclear weaponry.  At the time, there were seven members of the “nuclear club.”   Of course the game showed that the U.S. had a small portion of the world’s population and used a huge proportion of its resources.  The game culminated with a demonstration of the dangers of nuclear war wherein chips representing atomic bombs currently on earth were spread across the dymaxion map of the world which lay on the floor of the Dome.  The map was surrounded by the audience and the host-narrator, Tom Crum, had repeatedly used the phrase “Embrace Tiger” throughout the presentation.  As the audience sat dumbfounded at the demonstration of destruction, a young man from Winners’ Camp — aptly named Tiger– jumped over the balcony and began to clean up the map.  Others from the audience joined him in an expression of personal responsibility.  When asked later what motivated him, Tiger said “I said to myself, someone should clean up that map.  And then I realized I could do it.”

Yesterday I heard Bill Gates tell Charlie Rose that the situation with world famine and disease is vastly improved. Now he and Bill Clinton have joined the NGOs that have always toiled to improve the fate of the planet.  What they do is admirable and demonstrates personal responsibility.

Yet wait:  more than a generation has passed and the political will to solve the worst problems of hunger and malnutrition isn’t there.  I wonder if it ever will be?

 

(The poster was produced by First Hawaiian Bank, which in the 1980s had produced a version of it as a New Year’s wish).

Jan 17, 2014

Under Secretary of Happiness

I am hoping that I am the first to alert you to the newly for “Supreme Happiness Under Secretary” office established in Venezula in honor of late leader and USA “friend” Hugo Chavez and Simon Bolivar.     Although I just found out about this yesterday, the Happiness Under Secretary started to work his happiness wand on December 9, which was “Loyalty and Love to Hugo Chavez Day.”

Venezulan President Nicolas Maduro said “The supreme happiness office will look after our handicapped brothers and sisters, those who are homeless, our old folks, our children, addressing the most sublime, most sensitive, the most loved for all those who consider themselves Bolivarian revolutionaries.”  So says Buzzfeed.  Evidently, in 2012, then-President Chavez allocated 40% of the year’s budget for “supreme happiness,” relying on huge oil revenues to fund the expenses.

In my research on the internet, I discovered that many people covering this mentioned Orwell’s 1984, but Buzzfeed went further and said “1984 meets Kim Il Sung with a big doses of Zanax.”

Venezuela has been recognized by the Earth Institute’s 2013 World Happiness Report as the happiest country in South America and twentieth worldwide.  (fyi, USA ranks 17th).  The World Happiness Report is available online, and worth a read if you have the time.

Although measuring happiness is not a joke, the opposition in Venezuela acknowledges that the Supreme Happiness Office has brought happiness when you consider the number of jokes made about it.

 

Jan 16, 2014

Harry’s Bar

This morning I got a phone call from a student at Smith College, thanking me for my 2013 donation to my alma mater.  In the course of the conversation, she mentioned that she spent her junior year abroad in Florence.  Me being who I am, I did not ask her what she thought of Leonardo’s David, I asked her if she went to Harry’s Bar.

She said no.  Maybe it isn’t there any more, but when I went to Europe in 1971, part of my honeymoon search was for Harry’s Bar. We visited Harry’s Bar in Florence and Venice, but didn’t make it to Harry’s Bar in Paris, which I understand from my research, still stands a 5 rue Danou and is the original Harry’s Bar.    For the record, notes  Addison Vought from Berlin in a 1993 letter to the New York Times Harry’s Paris was established as the New York Bar in 1911 by an American ex-jockey.  It became Harry’s New York Bar when it was purchased by a bartender from New York’s Plaza Hotel in 1923, and has been in his family ever since.

The fact that this young student, having spent a year in Florence did not make it to Harry’s Bar and I, spending a short week in Florence, did says a lot about both of us.  Of course, I saw David, as I had done with my friends three years earlier, but our trip to Europe was as much about great food as it was about great art.  Still, it says a lot about me that what I thought to ask her about more than 40 years later.

The recipe for the salad dressing at Harry’s Bar Firenze followed me from Italy to Honolulu to Korea, back to Honolulu and then to Kailua.  It was very simple:  6T olive oil, 3 T lemon juice, 1/2 t dijon mustard, a generous pinch of salt and a drop of Tabasco sauce.

I don’t know if it was Harry’s recipe, or the recipe of the particular chef who was there in July of 1971: I tried making it again this morning, and it was definitely not Proust’s petite madeline.  The student who called me said her year in Florence was “life changing.”  I can’t say the same about my visits to Harry’s Bar.

 

 

Dec 4, 2013

Christmas Bake Off

“Focus Group” inventor and fresh egg recommender.

I was just about to write a blog praising the miracle of Betty Crocker’s dry cookie ingredients, having made some oatmeal cookies with just an egg and a stick of butter and a bag of Betty’s best until I discovered that I could not remove them from the cookie sheet … even though they were on tinfoil (I believe it is called aluminum foil, sorry) and the tinfoil had been sprayed with THE ORIGINAL PAM.  They were irretrievably stuck.

You would not believe how many errant pieces of cookie I had to eat before I figured out that none of them would come off the foil, crispy little critters that they were.

Baking is a big deal at Christmas time, and I always recall the story about how the cake mix in a box redefined baking.  I checked online and a story in Bon Appetit tells the tale of John D. Duff and the abundance of molasses that caused him to file a patent for a dried mix that would combine with water to make a cake (or a muffin, or a nut bread).  This happened in the 1930′s, and not in the 1950s as the advertising world would have you believe.

A psychologist, Ernest Dichter (the man who coined the term “focus group”), was the one that figured out that women would prefer to use fresh eggs and be “closer” to their baking experience.  The advertising lore says this is how the cake mix became a big success.  But Bon Appetit goes on to say that it was the frosting that made cake mixes a big success.

Cake mixes are a big deal to me, because I bake cakes with any little kid that comes around our house and then I throw them away after they leave (the cakes, not the kids).  A while ago I got into a grandmother skirmish with my grandchildren’s other grandmother who decided she would bake cakes from scratch with them.  So, basically, I started making brownies.  She has since moved to the mainland so she can’t bake anything with them.  nnbb.

When we lived in Denver, my mother used to order cartons of popover mix.  We loved popovers at our house. It was only when I got married that I found out that popover mix is basically salt and flour.  I doubt my mother knew that, but maybe she did.  The cooks we had never made popovers, but Mom could!  We were impressed.

Here’s one of the best things about buying the dry ingredients in a box.  You can’t really screw up two eggs and a half cup of water.  Ian, chef de cuisine and criticism at our house, tells me that baking is about details and following the recipe exactly.  Unfortunately, that does not fall within my pay grade.  So I am waiting for three D printers to start putting out food.

P.S. I do not bake Christmas cookies with my grandchildren, mostly because the competition has left town.

 

Dec 3, 2013

Why Books Instead of Tablets? Here’s the Answer.

Books, books and more books

Yesterday I saw a news piece on the way Amazon is pounding the big retailers the way the big retailers pounded small business.  They spoke specifically about bookstores going out of business, but they also pointed out that small independent bookstores are springing up again.

This prompts me to comment on BookEnds, the small independent bookstore that is the pride of Kailua. Owned and operated by Pat Banning, BookEnds rose out of the ashes of Honolulu Bookstore.  Remember it? Borders and Barnes and Noble made them think twice about selling books in Honolulu.  Now Borders is gone and Barnes and Noble is giving way to Ross Dress for Less.  I am not kidding.

BookEnds is celebrating 15+ years in business and is a perfect example of what the news piece was talking about.

I am a book reader.  I confess to being a techno-doofus and can’t imagine clicking the pages of a tablet device.  If that doesn’t put me in the minority, it will in the not-too- distant future.  Soon enough, you will be able to read books on the back of your eyelids.

 My four faves, Pat, Ann, Megan and Carol can find you (literally) any book you want because they have new and used books.  They’ve been recycling longer than most of us have thought about it.

BookEnds was, in fact, one of the main reasons we opened Lanikai Bath and Body.  We had several semi-heated arguments with Kaneohe Ranch about not turning Kailua into Westport, Connecticut or Carmel. BookEnds was one of the places we used as an example of businesses a small town needs.

Having tired of arguing we decided then that we had to get into the game to have a voice.  We spent a considerable amount of time to make sure we offered something locally made that women “of a certain age” would love.  Then we put our considerable branding expertise to work and open the wonderful brand Lanikai Bath and Body.  (We’re very proud of it!)

But I digress.  I buy every book I want to read at BookEnds.  If I want a book they don’t have, they’ll order it for me and I’ll get it in a week.  I know Amazon could get it to me in three days, but if I buy from Amazon, then maybe BookEnds won’t be around when I want to browse a cool place with a stocking-stuffer book by a cat called “I Could Pee on This.”

I can look around at BookEnds and find things I never dreamed of.  That’s shopping.  What you do on Amazon is ordering.   Pat, Ann and Megan and Carol always know when a book arrives that I have to have.  On Sundays, I peruse the New York Times Book Review and call BookEnds to reserve at least one title every week.

Like Pat Banning, Brook and I know that running a small business is no picnic.  But our small town is full of them.  For the people who sneer and call it Kaikiki, you are wrong.  The people who own businesses here mostly live here and spend their money here.  The visitors help us keep our small businesses open so local people can shop in Kailua.  If you have a small business you love, shop there.  Please.  And not just on Small Business Saturday.

BookEnds’ is one of the only phone numbers I know by heart :  261-1996.  You should give them a call and congratulate them on their 15 years in business.

 

 

 

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Gloria. Circa 1955.



Gloria. Circa 2012.




Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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