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Monday, January 30, 2012

Jesse & Cally Ski Aspen

Our son Jesse is presently concluding a month at Aspen, Colorado, where he and fiancee Cally Wheeler have been house-sitting for a friend of Piper, our daughter who works in Human Resources for the City of Aspen.  Jesse has had the look of a mountain man for some time now, and in this photo, he honors that appearance.  These "kids" have (at last) set a date to be married, so we know where we shall be on June 9th ... in Shaftsbury, Vermont, at the Pullman Farm, where Cally's mother grew up.

Best wishes, Cally and Jesse.  Carry on!

The Happy Couple, and The Rocky Mountains

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Alexandra Arrives Tonight!

Our good friend and respected teaching partner (managerial accounting in the Englishline at UBB-FSEGA, 2009) Prof. Dr. Alexandra Ileana Muţiu, has accepted a visiting appointment for the spring term here at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.
Dr. Muţiu with students at the Botanical Garden in Cluj, October, 2010
Shirl and I will drive to Logan Airport in Boston this afternoon to meet Alexandra's flight from Munich.  Valer Şuteu, a PSU MBA candidate, will come along to help drive home, as his youthful eyes see better at night than do Shirl's and mine, and as Alexandra will probably not want to drive following her long trip from Cluj.

Alexandra, we very much look forward to having you with us here in New Hampshire.  Let's write another article together while you are here!

And to Tibi, Ida and Ingrid, the wonderful family that Alexandra leaves in Cluj for this springtime, we say, "Thank you, very much!"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Toothy tale: a 55-year history.

Drinking my breakfast. Yesterday I spent four hours in oral surgery at Boston University's Goldman School of Dental Medicine, having three titanium implants screwed into my skull (for teeth 8, 9, & 10). (Carnation Instant Breakfast is now called "Carnation Breakfast Essentials.") New front teeth are still several months away, but the worst part is over.   
I decided to go the implant route when my 8-year-old bridge broke out last year. The implants will be worth the investment, since my wife and I plan to see our 70th wedding anniversary, which will be in 2043, at age 100 for me (but far less for her, of course). 
My front tooth problems began when my hockey stick fell into my front spokes on the way to play hockey in a Wilmette, Illinois, park in the early winter of 1956. I hit the curbstone at 13th and Ashland, next to Ann Rheinstrom's back yard. The root canals done then in my two front teeth kept them in my head for some 47 years. Finally, one tooth broke on a lollipop given me by a bank, and I had to have a bridge made.  That was in 2002. I never got used to the bridge, which never felt like my real teeth.
I am told that implants are as close to one's natural teeth as one can get, and that most who have them love them.  I hope that proves true in my case.
Small world department
The Goldman School at BU is a multicultural place.  My implants were installed by my periodontist Dr. Konstantina (Tina) Thomadaki from Greece, where I taught in 2001, and my prosthetic teeth are to be made and installed by Dr. Alex Vojdanoski from F.Y.R.O.M. (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), which Shirl and I visited in 2010.  My overseeing faculty doctors are Dr. Morin from Puerto Rico, where my older brother has lived for 40 years, and Dr. Price, an American whose son has recently invested in a home in Panama, from which I returned four days before the surgery.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Contadora Island Inn

If you happen to get to Contadora, I highly recommend this inn.  Not only is it owned by Melinda and Silvio, it is REALLY NICE!  The people who work there are all dedicated to making the guests comfortable, and the atmosphere could not be more positive and friendly.
Here is a typical Contadora view.

And I know it is not a very pretty picture, but this is the entrance to the villa where the Shah of Iran, Shah Reza Pahlavi, lived while in exile, when he happened to be the richest man in the world. Rather bespeaks the attractiveness of this location, does it not?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Isla Contadora!!!!

The object of our trip to Panama was Contadora Island Inn, Silvio's and Melinda's tropical joint venture into commercial real estate and tourism in paradise.  I have to admit, this is a beautiful place, as the pictures below will attest.  The album begins with our flight from Panama City, in a Cessna 208 Caravan belonging to Aero Perlas.  First, a couple of aerial shots of the new high-rise buildings of Panama City.
Trump Tower, with a sail-like superstructure.

I love the variety of the architecture, and the striking use of white.

After a smooth 25 minute flight, we saw the Pearl Islands emerging from the tropical morning haze..
Final Approach to Isla Contadora... a short field landing, please!

Here is the Contadora Island Inn's owner Melinda, a consummate professional hotel manager.  Our fellow guest shown here is from Switzerland.  Others were from The Netherlands and from Birmingham, Alabama.  We also met visiting folks from Israel and Ohio, and two owners of other hotels were German and American.

Both bicycles and golf carts are offered by Contadora Island Inn for their guests' use.

The Inn's tiny Chinese van was temporarily(?) out of commission with an electrical malfunction.

'Twas a Mafei Zhongyi.  Mean anything to you?
Contadora has many homes of great beauty.
This large home has four or five levels, 

and a baby Suzuki van, which has no headlamps.

Pretty nice, eh?

A closer view.

Two-stroke bikes are still allowed here.  There aren't many, but the young islanders who ride them do so much as I did at 19... with great gusto!

The main beach near the airport.  There are seven available, all open to the public.

This is another Trump project, but it sits empty and unfinished. We heard that The Donald's plans included a ten-story tower, but the property is adjacent to the airstrip.  The tower was not allowed so close to the flight paths, so Herr Trump has walked away from the island.

This is the largest beach.  The flat-bottom boat at the far end is permanently beached.  Just off this beach is the ruin of a once-luxurious hotel, frequented, so they say, by the likes of John Wayne, back in the 1970s.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Romanian+Panamanian+New Hampshirian Noncoincidence of the Day

Marion and Melinda
As I was about to take a dip in the rooftop pool at Melinda's building in Casco Viejo, Melinda and another woman came onto the terrace looking for me.  Standing in my swimsuit, I met Marion MacGillivray.  I soon learned that Marion is the woman who sold Contadora Island Inn to Silvio and Melinda, after operating it herself for about eight years.  Then, Meli told me that Marion used to live in New Hampshire.  "Where in New Hampshire?" I asked.  She replied, "On Stinson Lake. I used to drive often over Ellsworth Hill and into Campton."  We had lunch.  Marion, it turns out, is an American citizen of Scottish birth and South African upbringing, and has had a fascinating life.  Much of it has been devoted to education, especially of troubled former foster children, which is what her school did on Stinson Lake.  She is a friend of my PSU colleague Prof. Scott Meyer of the sociology department, who is also a friend of Shirl.  So, my Romanian former teaching assistant has bought a Panamanian hotel from my former New Hampshire neighbor.  Hmmm.

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama *

For my International Business students, these photos will add some color to their "nuts & bolts" paperback reader, Niebert's A Tour of International Trade.

Miraflores Locks: the final (or first) 27 feet of elevation lost (or gained) on the trip from (to) the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean (or vice versa).
Bahia Negra: A German ship (of Liberian Registry) coming through the locks toward sea level and Panama Bay.

Fifteen minutes later, here comes Charlotte!  There are two locks here, one on each side of the house.

Charlotte C. Rickmers is a Panama Max: Capacity of 4500 loaded containers.
Note that more of her is visible because the water level in the lock has
begun to drop her to sea lavel.

*Thanks to my brother Sky McDougall for reminding me of this old palindrome.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Panama Taxi

Casco Antiguo, Panama City, Panama
View from Melinda & Silvio's balcony
 Shirl and I spent yesterday getting to Melinda's apartment in Panama City. The airplane was almost an hour late from Newark, but Melinda's chosen “English-speaking taxi driver” David Torres was waiting with a sign that read “Dunca McDougall.” His new, white, Hyundai Tucson was prominently adorned with strategically placed stickers bearing the BMW logo. At first, I asked if it were an X3. He said, “No, a Tuck-son,” using the same pronunciation of “Tucson” that is used in Romania. I laughed, and told him of my white Santa Fe, and of Fritz, my “new” 1990 BMW 525i. He told me that those stickers had saved him $43,000. (I laughed. We share in our tastes for cars.)
On the twenty minute drive from the ultramodern Panama Airport to Casco Antiguo, a part of the Old City, where Melinda and Silvio have an apartment next to Plaza Simon Bolivar, we learned that David has been around the world. He has lived at times in Bulgaria and Moldova, and to get from one to the other, has also visited the Romanian Southeast. David worked two years in the U.S. as a truck driver. He asked where we were from, and when Shirl told him she was from a small town near Boston, he asked, “Worcester, or Marlboro?” Shirl is from a town just between those two cities, and David knows Shirley's hometown of Westborough, Massachusetts, which he said reminded him of a European village. So, he has also spent time in Western Europe. As it turns out, David speaks many languages at a “get by” level. Here this morning, over coffee and orange juice, Melinda tells me that he also has spent considerable time in the Far East, though I do not remember the countries there that she mentioned.

So, a Panamanian taxi driver is not to be underestimated. But, an international traveler soon learns not to be quick to underestimate those he meets in his travels. ¿No es verdad?
Plaza Simon Bolivar, also as seen from Meli's balcony.
Our evening ended late, as at almost 1:00 AM, Meli, jet-lagged as she was from her 10 January flight from Europe, went to bed, while Shirl and I, thirsty after our travel, went to Casablanca, the restaurant downstairs in Meli's building, and had a beer and a glass of Chardonnay.   While enjoying our nightcaps, we were serenaded by Rojillo, a 70 year-old guitarist, who offered us two songs before he himself called it a night. I gave him a generous tip for his stylish renditions of “Strangers in the Night,” and “Guantanamera.”

Sunday, January 8, 2012

First-in-the-Nation Primary

The New Hampshire Republican Primary election will be held on Tuesday, January 10, 2012.  It is almost all one hears about on the television news.

Last night, I drove to Manchester with two purposes.

First, I visited my good friend Col. William R. (Bill) Benoit in the Catholic Medical Center, where he is recovering from Catheter Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation (an arthroscopic heart surgery).  Bill is an Army fixed-wing and helicopter pilot who retired from the U.S. Army in 1981 after serving for 28 years, then taught operations management at Plymouth State University for another 22 years.  He is an amazing guy, and I am happy to report that I found him last night in remarkably good spirits, and looking forward to a complete recovery.

Then, I went over to the political "sign-waving" rally outside of the auditorium at St. Anselm College in Manchester, where the Saturday evening candidates' debate would be held.  It was my first such event since 1960, when I heard a speech in Skokie, Illinois by Richard Nixon.  I found it interesting, and met some good folks, but it was not my favorite kind of a gathering, and I doubt I shall attend another (at least not for another 52 years).