Lahaina Pali Trail

So today I checked out the Lahaina Pali Trail with my good friend, International best-selling author and speaker Patrick Snow.  It was my first time up the trail.  Here are some highlights:

1.  Nice steady gradual elevation.  Not steep

2.  Very open so tons of breeze

3.  Cultural paradise.  This seems to be the remains of an old Hawaiian ‘Ahupua’a trail so there are tons of petroglphs and altars if you know what to look for

4.  Killer views.

Photo stream is linked below

Lahaina Pali Trail

Hostel Living: Dating and Avoiding Being Homeless

So I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the hostel experience.  It’s like living in a big shared apartment with a bunch of random people.  You live together, cook together and pair up and explore cool places together.  If you’re young and single it’s a great way to get an easy date with someone and you can just go off and do whatever:  hike, surf, parasail, etc, etc, etc.  Hostels negotiate pretty cheap deals with tour operators, etc, etc so if you’re broke (in college or just bound by a slave wage from the day gig) you can explore the world pretty cheap at $30 a night or so for a shared dorm room to about $80 a night for a private room.

If you’re prospectively homeless and are a socialite of sorts get a room in a hostel and take a cheap paying dayjob to foot the bills (or join the hostel staff) and you can just mingle and make friends, dates or potential clients and just have unlimited fun adventures.

Food?  Shoot, because of the diversity and everyone cooking together I’ve been snarfing swedish meatballs, Thai food, European style noodles, etc, etc, etc.  This is Day 3 here for me and the total cost to me for meals?  $20.00.  Everyone always cooks more food than they can eat so they wind up sharing with everyone and people refuse to take your money when you offer to give them to chip in, lol.

As for the types of people I’ve met, during my time here I’ve met tons of 20-somethings, 30-somethings and 40-somethings:  kids still in college, stressed out workers, traveling couples on their great world adventure.  And yes, I have collected a ton of numbers, FBs, LinkedIns and Twitters and now have friends around the world I can always hit up in later years for additional adventures.

Tonight’s adventure:  Karaoke Bar with my new found friends hailing from around the globe.  #winning

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”  — William Shakespeare  #quote

Maui Spring Break 2014: North Shore Maui Hostel

So for this adventure I decided to give hostel traveling a try.  I had never gone through a hostel before as my normal traveling companions would consider it “roughing” it but since I’m traveling alone I thought, “hey, why not?”

Hostel traveling is COOL.  If you’re into chill laid back communal living hostels are your thing.

You meet and live with people in a dorm like environment.  You cook meals together and you meet like minded folks to try out different activities.  This particular hostel has van service and rental services or partnerships for just about any adventure you want be it surfing, snorkeling, etc.

Hostels are ideal for low budget travelers.  This one ran about $30 a night and with shuttle service wherever you can skip the car rental if you don’t mind waiting for vans.  Meals? Because you cook together I just chipped in 5 bucks into the pot and got 3 meals out of it snarfing down pancakes and fruit for breakfast, swedish meatballs and rice for lunch and Thai food for dinner.

But that frees you up to converse with other travelers from around the globe.  Today alone I met guys from the Mainland destressing from the day job and co-eds on Spring Break from Europe.  I’ve learned a few words in Germand and Dutch.  Most importantly I’ve met potentially lifelong friends who you can always keep in touch with on FB or SMS or if you’re into business contacts — LinkedIn.  That’s something you don’t normally get going the hotel route as you normally just keep to your own.

 

2013: My Toughest Battle Ever

“You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself and others, you may find happiness that has always eluded you.” — Lisa Kleypas #quote

Reflecting back on the year that was 2013 I can hands down say it was dually both the worst and the best year I ever had.

On one side it was one of the worst years ever. Between being hospitalized, being in a car accident, and having challenges in my career and personal life it was hands-down one of my worst years ever.

But in some ways it was also my best year ever. They say that what does not BREAK you makes you STRONGER. In the past month after passing through my Trial By Fire of the previous 11 months I can honestly say I survived the experience and came through it more powerful than ever. Gone are the chains that have held me back from being all that I ever could be. I stand here on the last day of 2013 looking back on the years of my life and I fully understand who it is I am, what I have accomplished, what has held me back and most importantly, what I am here to do and how I will do it.

I approach my life as a warrior. Always have, always will. Warriors go through life in a constant battle and I viewed 2013 as one my toughest battles ever and my toughest opponent as it literally kept knocking me down and did it’s best to keep me down.

I realized the person I was fighting was myself. And so I stopped fighting. Instead of conquering and defeating my opponent I simply looked at myself and said, “good fight kid.” I gave myself a hug and together we turned to face the oncoming 2014, our next opponent, merged into one and ventured off to meet the new challenger head on.

“Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.”

My Picks: RSPW Best In Wrestling Legacy Awards 2013

Author’s Note:  The RSPW Awards were the Internet’s Oldest Awards running for 20 years  commemorating the Best and Worse in Professional Wrestling each year.  Sadly the awards were retired after the 2009 competition year.  Each year I would post my picks as submitted on the official RSPW Awards Ballot on my blogs.  You can check out my picks for 2008 here , 2009 here and 2010 here and 2011 here.  For postings from earlier years you’ll need to dig through my old MySpace or Blogger blogs (too lazy to hunt and link it).  Not one to let traditions die (and because I just NEED to share my opinion) here are my picks for the Best and Worse of Wrestling in 2013 as based on the old RSPW ballot.
—-
Best Wrestler

Award Description:
To be given to the athlete who was the best overall wrestler of the year.  This includes all facets of wrestling: workrate, technical ability,  interviews, charisma, value to his/her promotion, etc. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.

1st:  Daniel Bryan
2nd:  AJ Styles
3rd:  John Cena

2013 was hands down the Year of the Beard, Daniel Bryan.  WWE rode his wave and featured him in the main event slot taking on the Shield, Cena, Orton and the Wyatts with D.B. having 5 star matches all around.  WWE whiffed on REALLY putting the title on him and making him the “Face of the WWE” but he easily best on the best performances all year.

AJ Styles had the best year in TNA (with Magnus a close second).  Again — epic matches up and down the card.  Promotion changing promos and a solid program catapulted the Phenomenal One back to the top of the card.
John Cena rounds out third.  The franchise of the WWE needs no explanation rounding out great matches and programs with all comers throughout the year

Best Tag Team

Award Description:
To be given to the tag team who were the best overall team of the year.  This includes all facets of wrestling: workrate, technical ability, interviews, charisma, hot team moves, value to their promotion, etc. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.

1st:  The Usos
2nd:  The Shield
3rd:   The Wyatts

The Usos were the best pure tag team in 2013 hands down.  The had solid matches up and down the card with everyone.  The WWE basically pushed them to be the counterpoint to the Shield but the twins brought it to the next level.

By right, the Shield should be #1 but I’m biased so sue me.  Hands down the Shield dominated the promotion leaving EVERYONE in a crumpled mess in their wake.

The Wyatts debuted to big fanfare and got a huge consistent push steamrolling everyone.

Best Heel

Award Description:
To be given to the person who was the best villain this past year. This person should bring out the fans’ wrath. Match quality is not paramount here; this award should be based primarily on how over the wrestler was in the past year.

1st:  Bully Ray
2nd:  Randy Orton
3rd:  Bobby Roode

Bully Ray ran roughshod over TNA as it’s featured heel for the past two years.  Killer promos and awesome matches plus the perfect combination of uber villain and cowardly heel leader of Aces and Eights brings him to #1.

Orton finally got out of the dog house and retook his spot as the top heel in the WWE and the “Face of the WWE.”  No one does it better as a heel than the Viper.

Bobby Roode rounds out #3.  He spent half the year buried but with the BFG series reclaimed his spot as a featured heel through his leadership of the Gentlemen’s Club and his feud with Kurt Angle.

Best Babyface

Award Description:
To be given to the person who best portrayed the hero this past year. This person should get lots of fan support. Match quality is not paramount here; this award should be based primarily on how over the wrestler was inthe past year.

1st:  Daniel Bryan
2nd:  John Cena
3rd:  CM Punk

Daniel Bryan wins hands down.  He was the epitome of the underdog with heart who fought and beat both the system and all the naysayers out there.

Cena and Punk (even though he worked heel half the year) round out 2 and 3 for me.

Best Worker

Award Description:
To be given to the wrestler with, on average, the best workrate. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall.  In 1998, it was recombined into one.

1st: Daniel Bryan
2nd: CM Punk
3rd:  AJ Styles

D.B., Punk and Styles.  No contest here.  Hence why they all stood at the top of their respective promotions.

Best Flyer

Award Description:
To be given to the wrestler who did the most and the best high-flying maneuvers throughout the year. In 1994, this award was split into two:  North American and Non-North American.  In 1998, it was recombined.

1st: AJ Styles
2nd: The Usos
3rd: Kofi Kingston

Styles was the most high profile flyer all year tearing up the cards.  Usos take second also due to prominent high profile spots all over the card each week.  Kofi, though out for a while, takes the 3rd spot.

Best Technical Wrestler

Award Description:
To be given to the wrestler who has the most technical ability. The number of holds and moves you see this person do and the crispness with which the moves are executed makes his/her matches a pleasure to watch. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.

1st:  Daniel Bryan
2nd:  AJ Styles
3rd:  CM Punk

D.B. takes the top spot again as he was basically the star of the promotion for 2013 for the WWE.

Styles takes similar honors for TNA with the added bonus of having actually changed up his game incorporating the ground-based submission work with the leg vine submission.

Punk rounds it out.

Best Brawler

Award Description:
To be given to the wrestler who brawled his/her way through the year most convincingly. This award would go to Frank “Bruiser Brody” Goodish if he were still around. In 1994, this award was split into two: North American and Non-North American.  In 1998, it was recombined.

1st:  Ryback
2nd:  Big E Langston
3rd:  Big Show

Ryback epitomized the brawler with his near yearlong Bully gimmick following Wrestlemania.

Big E. Langston came on strong this year also rocking the card.  Big Show rounds things out.

Most Favourite Wrestler

Award Description:
To be given to the wrestler you like the most, regardless of the reason.

1st:  AJ Styles
2nd:  Daniel Bryan
3rd:  CM Punk

Styles was my favorite for 2013.  I loved the transformation of his character from Phenomenal to “No One” and back to the hybrid form.

D.B. and Punk are my “Best in the World!” wrestlers.

Most Improved Wrestler

Award Description:
To be given to the wrestler who most improved himself/herself in all facets of the sport in the past year.

1st:  AJ Styles

There’s only one name that comes to mind and that’s AJ Styles.  AJ’s been criticized for years for not having much of a personality but the guy was able to transform into a solid lone wolf character and cut promos far beyond what he showed himself capable of in the past.  He also changed up his in-ring style incorporating a more ground-based game to complement his famous high-flying phenomenal style.

Most Overrated Wrestler

Award Description:
To be given to the wrestler who really has little talent, but has a large place in the spotlight nonetheless. This is a measure of how undeserved a wrestler’s push is.

1st:  N/A

Best Wrestling Gimmick

Award Description:
To be given to the wrestler who had the best character gimmick in the past year.

1st:  “No One” AJ Styles
2nd:  Daniel Bryan, Bearded Bad Ass
3rd:  Bad Influence, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian

For me the “No One” character of AJ Styles truly resonated.  Screwed over by everyone AJ followed his own path on his own, kicked ass and took names and won belts.  What better story than that?

Daniel Bryan’s 2013 gimmick was that of the underdog who fought back against everyone who told him he couldn’t and told them to fuck off.  What better story than that?

Bad Influence was the highlight of Impact almost each and every week with comedy gold almost each and every time out.

Best Wrestling Move

Award Description:
To be given to the move that is just the damn best thing you’ve seen this past year. This should probably be a “finishing” move or something really spectacular.

1st: AJ Styles’ “Rolling Leg Lock”

AJ tapped almost everyone in TNA out with the rolling leg lock submission.  Way to kick ass and take names.

Best Feud

Award Description:
To be given to the feud that gave us the most heated and best wrestling match(es) of the year. In 1994, this award was split into two: North American and Non-North American.  In 1996, due to lack of participation on the non-NA side, it was recombined.

1st:  AJ Styles vs. Dixie Carter and the World
2nd:  Daniel Bryan vs. The Regime
3rd:  The Shield vs. The WWE

AJ’s year long feud with Dixie and the world was my personal highlight of TNA.  It was the perfect culmination of all his frustrations with his TNA career.

Ditto Daniel Bryan in his feud with Triple H and Orton.

The Shield had the storybook rookie year finding strength in numbers and taking out the entire WWE roster.

Worst Tag Team

Award Description:
To be given to the name tag team who were the worst overall wrestlers in the past year. Minimal technical ability, lousy interviews, non-existent workrate, the charisma of a rock, and lousy team moves should describe this pair.

1st:   N/A/

Worst Heel

Award Description:
To be given to the person whose casting as a bad guy just didn’t work well. Maybe there was just no heel heat drawn or maybe the fans actually cheered this person, but for whatever reason the heel image just didn’t get over.

1st: N/A

Worst Babyface

Award Description:
To be given to the person whose casting as a good guy just didn’t work well. Maybe there was just no face heat drawn or maybe the fans actually booed this person, but for whatever reason the face image just didn’t get over.

1st:  N/A

Most Deteriorated Wrestler

Award Description:
To be given to the person whose skill has deteriorated the most over the past year. This person should be a shadow of his/her former self.

1st: N/A

Most Underrated Wrestler

Award Description:
To be given to the person whose ability merits a far greater push than the person receives. There may be many such people, but the winner of this award should have the most ability with least push.

1st:  Dolph Ziggler
2nd:  Zach Ryder

You’d never think Dolph was a former world champion.  The guy wins the title after Mania and seems to be on the verge of greatness.  He gets injured, returns and gets buried the rest of the year — despite arguably being the most talented guy on the roster.  Smdh

I honestly have no idea what more can be done.  This guy HAD a huge following and SEEMED to be on the cusp of a solid push but zzzzzzt.

Worst Wrestling Gimmick

Award Description:
To be given to the wrestler who had the worst character gimmick in the past year.

1st: N/A

Worst Wrestling Move

Award Description:
To be given to the move that is the worst thing you’ve seen this year. This shouldn’t be given to a move that was flubbed by a wrestler – the move was performed correctly, but was just too stupid for words. This move should probably be a “finishing” move or something that was meant to be spectacular.

1st: N/A

Worst Match

Award Description:
To be given to the worst wrestling match you’ve seen this year, either live, on TV, PPV, or in an arena, or on tape. If it took place in the past year, it is eligible.

1st:  N/A

Most Disappointing News item

Award Description:
To be given to the wrestling news item that most disappointed you when heard of it. When you first learned of this news story, you couldn’t believe that it was true, and when you learned that it was, you were bummed out for a while.

1st:   N/A

Most Obnoxious Personality

Award Description:
To be given to the person who just rubs you the wrong way. This could be anybody involved in the wrestling biz.

1st:   N/A

Best Second

Award Description:
To be given to the manager who outperformed their peers at ringside and behind the microphone in interviews.  This award was discontinued after the 2001 awards and reinstated in 2006.

1st:   Paul Heyman

Heyman reminds me of just how great old school wrestling managers were.  Whether it was Punk, Lesnar or Axel, Paul E. made his guys always look and sound good.

Best Announcer

Award Description:
To be given to the commentator/announcer who makes the most insightful and entertaining comments while pushing his product.  “Ring announcers” don’t qualify here.  As of 1992, the difference between this and colour commentator will be enforced.

1st:   N/A

Best Colour Commentator

Award Description:
To be given to the colour commentator who provides the most insightful and entertaining comments.

1st:   JBL

So glad this guy came back…

Worst Announcer

Award Description:
To be given to the commentator/announcer who makes the least insightful and entertaining comments while pushing his product.  “Ring announcers” don’t qualify here.  As of 1992, the difference between this and colour commentator will be enforced.

1st:   N/A

Worst Colour Commentator

Award Description:
To be given to the colour commentator who provides the least insightful and entertaining comments.

1st:   N/A

Best Interviewee

Award Description:
To be given to the person who gives the best interview in the biz. This could be a wrestler or a manager.

1st:   CM Punk
2nd:   Jericho
3rd:  Miz

Punk, Jericho and Miz always brought it on the mic

Best Angle

Award Description:
To be given to the best angle you’ve seen in the sport this year.

1st:   AJ goes all in for himself, kicks ass, takes names and wins title
2nd:   Daniel Bryan shows all the haters he’s the best
3rd:  Magnus realizes his full potential and captures the TNA World Heavyweight Title

AJ’s story of telling the world to fuck off and going on a winning streak, kicking ass, taking names and winning titles — on his own, really resonates.  Tired of being held back and screwed over he takes his destiny in his own hands and achieves it.  What’s not too like?

Bryan’s story of showing all the haters he has what it takes to be the best also resonates.  He took on and beat all comers and won the belt several times — even if the powers that be screwed him he still showed them the strength of his heart.

Magnus’ story of continuing to work at his dream and come back from defeat until he finally realized it was the storybook storyline of the year — only slightly eclipsed by the stories of AJ and D.B.

Best Organization

Award Description:
To be given to the organization/promotion that has the best product. This is the organization whose TV and house shows you just can’t miss.

1st:  WWE
2nd:  TNA
3rd:  AZW

Best TV Show

Award Description:
To be given to what is on average the best wrestling TV show. In 1994, TV shows and major shows were given separate award categories.

1st:  WWE Raw
2nd: TNA Impact!
3rd:  WWE Smackdown

Honestly…I liked Impact better than Smackdown.

Best Major Show

Award Description:

1st:   N/A

Best Promotional Move

Award Description:
To be given to the best move made by a promotion this past year. This could include giving somebody a push, demoting someone, firing someone hiring someone, or anything of a promotional nature.

1st:   TNA pushes homegrown talent and phases old timers out
2nd:  WWE fleshes out TV formula and gets more talent TV time
3rd:   WWE inducts Bruno Sammartino into the Hall of Fame

I think TNA hit the hammer on the head toward the later part of the year with their decision to push AJ Styles, Magnus, Bobby Roode and Bad Influence.

In the case of the WWE, I have noticed they’ve made great strides to get more TV time for everyone and are now making more use of the mid card and undercard with more purposeful roles for the talent.

Bruno being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame was a HUGE move.  It legitimized everything.

Worst Angle

Award Description:
To be given to the worst angle you’ve seen in the sport this year. It may be the worst because of taste or because of execution.

1st:   N/A

Worst Promotional Move

Award Description:
To be given to the worst move made by a promotion this past year. This could include giving somebody a push, demoting someone, firing someone hiring someone, or anything of a promotional nature.

1st:   N/A

Other Awards:

BEST THEME MUSIC

1.  “Off the Chain” (remix) — Bobby Roode:  Just epic sounding

BEST ENTRANCE

1.  Usos — Sivatau.  EPIC way for them to make their entrance with the Sivatau war chant/dance.


2.  EC3 — Ethan Carter, III’s entrance is pretty epic with the overblown video and music and choreography of his entrance.

BEST PROMO

1.  AJ Styles, “I’m doing my own thing.”

Celebrating the Career of Clara Iwata

On Saturday December 28, 2013 friends and colleagues of Clara Iwata gathered at the Empress Restaurant in the Chinese Cultural Plaza to celebrate and honor her retirement after 41 years of service to the University of Hawai’i.  I was honored to have been asked to serve as MC for the gathering and share some opening remarks.  Below is a transcript of my remarks.

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Caption:  My wife Shelley and me with our dear friend Clara Iwata, Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thank you friends for taking time out of your schedule to be here today to celebrate and honor our dear friend Clara Iwata as she retires after 41 years of service.  As I look out into the crowd I am amazed to see so many people many of whom I personally have not seen in years.  But we all have one thing in common:  we were all each impacted in our lives by this special woman Clara who we gather here today to honor.

For this part of the program we are going to give everyone a chance to take the floor for a few minutes to say their peace with Clara. I kind of liken this to a funeral but the difference is Clara is ALIVE AND WELL and she can hear all the great things we have to say about her and let her know how much we truly love her.  I’ll be going first and then afterward Beng Poh and Carl will take the floor to share their thoughts and then we’ll open up the floor to all of you.

So here are my thoughts when I think about Clara.

I truly believe in life that each person we meet or each person who comes into our life comes in for a reason and that there is a special lesson they teach us through their example.  When I think of Clara I believe the lesson she taught me is to “live simply, and love deeply.”

Clara leads a very simple life.  She catches the bus and walks EVERYWHERE.  She eats vegetable sandwiches each and everyday.  Very simple living.

But Clara also loves VERY DEEPLY.  I’ve lost track over the amount of times she would spend picking up lunch for the ENTIRE OFFICE walking all over creation to whatever restaurant it is we felt like eating that day at and she would pick up lunch for us — day in and day out.  She always put others before herself but she did it willingly and without complaint.

Clara spent her career as a clerk.  We all know how much clerk’s DON’T make but as you heard she was able to travel the world on her humble salary.  She led a blessed life because she lived simply and loved deeply.  So through Clara’s example we see that it’s not how much you make in life — it’s how you make the most of what you have.

And so that’s the lessons I take from my time spent with Clara seeing her do her good works and that’s what I pledge to take with me in the years ahead — to follow her example.  To live simply and to love deeply.

God Bless you Clara as you enter your next great adventure in life.  Thank you for all you’ve done for me and us.

Honoring A Beloved Mentor and Teacher

On Tuesday, December 10, 2013 the 3 PELP cohorts gathered to celebrate the retirement of our beloved leader, mentor, teacher and friend, Linda Johnsrud, Executive Vice President and Provost of the University of Hawai’i System.

I had the unique privilege of being asked to deliver some introductory remarks at Linda’s retirement party on behalf of the PELP cohorts.  Below is a transcript of my speech.
Linda's Retirement

Caption:  With UH Executive VP / Provost Linda Johnsrud at her retirement party, Tuesday, 12/10/13

Dear friends and PELP ‘ohana.  Good evening and welcome to our celebration in honor our of leader, mentor, teacher and friend Linda Johnsrud as she embarks on the next great adventure in her life.  My name is Jonathan Wong, a member of PELP Cohort II and it is my honor to deliver some short remarks to open our evening.  There’s no formal program to tonight per se but on behalf of us I did want to express to Linda how much she means to us and how much we’ll miss her.  Afterwards we’ll present her with some gifts and give her a chance to say a few words and then we’ll open the floor to all of you if you have some final words for Linda.

First things first, Linda.  On behalf of all of us we want to thank you for sharing with us your knowledge and your wisdom throughout the PELP experience.  I know for myself and I’m sure for most of us PELP was a career defining moment.  For me it put into the larger context the work we do as educators, as Hawaii educators, in helping our people achieve our potential as a community to remain globally competitive.  It made me realize that though we do great work there is much to do to get our people to where we need to be.  So for myself that gives me the resolve I need to show up to work each day despite all the challenges of the daily grind and the fortitude to push forward to achieve our strategic plan and our mission.

As developing leaders you set the example and are the gold standard.  When I think of the type of leader I hope to become that type of leader is the one modeled by Linda:  grounded yet with eyes on the big picture.  Firm but fair.

As educators we take on a sacred commitment to pass on to future generations our collective knowledge so that our children and our children’s children can lead better lives than we did.  Such to is the case when one generation of leaders passes the torch to the next.  Tonight we honor Linda Johnsrud as she retires from a textbook and exemplary career but we also gather as her PELP children.  Linda is but one woman — a remarkable one for sure, but as she rides off into the sunset she can rest assured that the next generation of leaders she raised — all of us, stands ready to continue the work she started.

Godspeed Linda, thank you from all of us and happy retirement 🙂

From the Archives:

 
PELP Graduation:  Diplomas

Caption:  PELP Graduation Day with UH President David McClain and VP Linda Johnsrud, Friday, May 8, 2009.