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Twenty Minus Two Is A Lovely Number

Eighteen years ago / I thought the world of you, love / Today, I still do!

Note on picture:  Dug up from the annals of history in commemoration of a special day coming up on July 2nd.  Circa early 1993 in New Delhi, India.  Later that summer, we were sharing the same last name. 


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A gorgeous marigold.


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A Peony Party Three Years Ago: Just As Sweet Even Today!

This is a post first published in my private blog three years ago around this time, June 8, 2008, to be precise.  I offer it here today in remembrance of the lovely visit to the Arb that we paid last weekend.  The peonies had already peaked, but walking through these gardens was just as pleasant.  Isn’t it great to know that some shows like these are guaranteed year after year?  These are certainly shows that must and will go on.  Original article follows…

Peony Party in the Arboretum

So, if you’re a peony lover, what’s not to love about an annual event that celebrates a hundred different varieties of this lovely flower?  Well, yesterday was just the day to do that:  the Nichols Arboretum hosted a ‘Peony Peaking’ event to view the many flowers at the height (or peak) of their blooms in the peony garden, a vast expanse of clearing in the otherwise forest-like area of the Arb.  It was also interesting to note that this garden has the distinction of housing the largest number of varieties of the peony flower in the United States.  Pretty cool, when you think about it, and when you actually see them!  Oh, by the way, it was an extremely hot day yesterday, with temperatures also peaking into the mid-90s, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.  See pictures of the Arb and the paths leading up to the peony garden, and of course, the lovely peonies in all their peaking glory!


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Now, All Americans Can Go To Cuba – Legally!

U.S. Government Reauthorizes Insight Cuba, the Largest Provider of People-to-People Travel to Cuba, to Offer New Cultural Tours; Six New Itineraries with Over 130 Departures through September 2012

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y., June 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —  For the last 50 years, most Americans have been prohibited from traveling to Cuba. Now they can start packing!

As of today, Insight Cuba, the leading provider of legal people-to-people travel to Cuba has been reauthorized by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to send Americans to Cuba.

 When the Obama administration reversed the previous administration’s policy and posted new travel regulations allowing people-to-people educational travel, Insight Cuba was among the first to submit its application for a new license.

 We’ve been preparing for this day for seven years,” said Insight Cuba Director Tom Popper. “Now that we have the license in hand, anyone and everyone can reserve their spot on one of our carefully crafted travel programs to Cuba from August 2011 through September 2012. We’ve created six exciting new experiences, which can be found on our website, providing unique access to people and places the average traveler rarely sees.”

Insight Cuba emerged as a true pioneer in people-to-people travel to Cuba in 2000 and sent the largest number of Americans to Cuba under a specific license since 1963. However, in 2004, U.S. travel restrictions were tightened, eliminating most U.S. travel to the island nation. Despite the new limitations, Insight Cuba continued to strengthen their relationships and reputation in Cuba, confident that one day they would be able to return. As a result, they are now known as the industry expert in U.S. travel to Cuba.

Insight Cuba hand picks exclusive experiences for its groups, which are kept small (maximum 16 participants). With an in-country host/escort, modern explorers can expect frequent serendipitous experiences. The comfort level is high, with four- and five-star hotels and all meals included. Prices (per person, double occupancy) also cover ground transport, domestic flights in Cuba (where required), all entry fees, professional guide services, U.S. Treasury Department license and Letter of Authorization, and travel insurance.  A single supplement of just $300 ($200 for Weekend in Havana) is available.  There are six exciting new itineraries with over 130 departures through September 2012.  The August inaugural departure dates are TBD.
  • Havana & Colonial Trinidad (eight days/seven nights, $2,995-$3,395)
  • Havana & Scenic Pinar del Río (eight days/seven nights, $2,495-$2,995)
  • Bay of Pigs! Havana/Playa Giron/Cienfuegos/Santa Clara (eight days/seven nights, $2,745-$3,095)
  • Cuban Music & Art Experience — Havana/Santiago de Cuba/Bayamo (nine days/eight nights, $3,395-$3,795)
  • Havana Jazz Experience with Jazz Times Magazine (eight days/seven nights, $2,795-$3,295)
  • Weekend in Havana (four days/three nights, $1,695-$1,995)

To learn more, and to see the new travel programs, visit or call 1-800-450-CUBA.

Insight Cuba is a leading expert in Cuba travel, and a division of Cross-Cultural Solutions, an independent not-for-profit organization and leader in international volunteering and people-to-people cultural exchange with over 25,000 alumni since its inception in 1995. Insight Cuba has developed in-depth programs in Cuba, encompassing both spontaneous and planned activities. These immersive, unforgettable experiences have helped make Insight Cuba the largest, most highly regarded provider of specific-licensed people-to-people cultural travel to Cuba.



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Whole Wheat Angel Hair Pasta: A Superb Alternative!

An alternative to what, you ask?  To the refined flour angel hair pasta, of course!  Because, whole wheat angelhair pasta is so much more healthier for you, of course!  And what can you do with it?  Actually, that question ought to be:  what can you NOT do with it?  You can do pretty much anything you wish including serving it up al dente with a dab of salt and butter, of course, but if you wish to get perhaps just a little more fancier than that, you could pair it with some Italian meatballs (duly cut up into smaller bite-sized pieces), and seasoned with a teriyaki sauce.  I also tossed in some green peas, both for color, flavor, and texture.  The result!  Mmmmm! Mmmm! Mmm!

Sprinkling on the parmesan is only optional.  If you did, you’d truly be a foodie: imagine your verve in combining the flavors from two world cuisines:  Japanese and Italian!


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Federer Loses to Tsonga in Quarterfinals

I’ll miss you, Roger! (and I *do* think you’ll get to #7 some day)

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Six-time champion Roger Federer was eliminated in the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the second straight year, wasting a two-set lead before losing 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

Federer looked to be heading for another routine victory on Centre Court after dominating the second-set tiebreaker. But the Frenchman broke once in each set to level the match, and broke again to start the fifth.

Federer never recovered and must wait another year for a chance to equal Pete Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon titles. The third-ranked Swiss lost to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals last year.

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Happy 4th Anniversary, iPhone!

I’m ready for the iPhone 5! Thank you, Apple, you know I love you!

Four years ago today, Apple released the original iPhone. The hype that preceded the release of the so-called “Jesus Phone” was nothing short of staggering.

Analysts, tech blogs and consumers oscillated between hyping the phone as the second-coming or deriding it as much-ado about nothing. In 2007, I was both an Apple fan (I purchased my first iPod in 2002) and a mobile phone fanatic. Still, I had my doubts about the iPhone because of its outlandish price, its carrier lock (and the carrier of choice) and the lack of third-party applications. I thought, OK, the iPhone will probably sell pretty well, but it’s not going to change the mobile phone industry.


The details and investment into the narrative surrounding the iPhone’s launch wasn’t like other tech products — or even other Apple products. It was more like a highly promoted, well publicized and much buzzed about movie. The only question was, would the iPhone be an Ishtar (a highly publicized failure), or a Titanic (surpassing even the most hopeful expectations)?


In four years, the iPhone has utterly transformed the mobile industry. One can debate how much Apple innovated versus refined when it comes to certain features (touch screens and app stores existed before the iPhone), but when we look at the mobile industry, there is a very clear line between what happened before June 29, 2007 and what happened after. I would argue that every major smartphone that has gone into production since the iPhone’s release has, in some way, been a response to the iPhone itself.


The iPhone not only transformed the mobile industry, but changed Apple as a company. In 2007, Apple was nearly ten years into a fantastic business turnaround. Propelled by the early success of the iMac and pushed further into the black with the iBook, iPod, iTunes and the transition to Intel processors, the iPhone took Apple into an entirely different direction.


As our lovely infographic showcases, Apple’s stock has nearly tripled over the last four years. The company now has a market cap of more than $300 billion, exceeding that of Microsoft. Apple’s revenues are now higher than Microsoft’s too — something that would have been a laughable suggestion four years ago.


Four years after the first iPhone was released, a lot has changed in the mobile space. Smartphone adoption has finally gone mainstream. The fortunes of Nokia, RIM and Palm (now HP) have significantly changed. The big leader in the mobile OS space is Android, Google’s open source OS that debuted a year and a half after the original iPhone.


One thing that hasn’t changed (aside from Apple’s aversion to Flash on mobile devices) is the hype and furry that the iPhone still incites in both its supporters and its detractors. Rumors of the iPhone 5 are likely to continue to build throughout the summer, ebbing the hype to the point that all of us will ask, “Can anything really meet these expectations?” Only this time, we know how this story ends.


After all, if the iPhone was Titanic, the iPad was Avatar. Now we just have to wait for the sequels.




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A lovely white petunia.