Archive for October, 2009

The Blue Zones. Lessons for living longer from people who’ve lived the longest. Dan Buettner

The Blue Zones. Lessons for living longer from people who’ve lived the longest. Dan Buettner. 2008. ISBN 9781426202742. A surprisingly useful book from National Geographic.  The author and his team  researched centennarians in four Blue ZOnes, Sardinia, Okinawa, Loma Linda California, and Nicoya, Costa Rica.    The secrets are in how they live, the food, the company, and their life outlook.  He then lays out nine lessons with four or five subtopics for each. The lessons are

  1. Move Naturally
  2. Eat until you are 80% full
  3. Plant Slant
  4. Grapes of Life
  5. Purpose Now
  6. Down Shift
  7. Belong
  8. Loved Ones First
  9. Right Tribe

You’ll meet a 94-year-old farmer and self-confessed “ladies man” in Costa Rica, a 102-year-old grandmother in Okinawa a 102-year-old Sardinian who hikes at least six miles a day, and others. By observing their lifestyles, Buettner’s team has identified critical everyday choices. Check out more and their Vitality Compass at

Direct and Guerrilla Marketing

Direct and Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing on the Internet: the complete guide to making money on-line. Jay Conrad Levinson, Mitch Meyerson & MAry Eule Scarborough. 2008. ISBN 9781599181943. Exactly the caliber you would expect of the King of Guerrilla marketing (30 books and counting). Full of activities, pithy assessments, to do lists , case studies and real life stories. Exactly what you need to get up, get going, and get profitable. See,

e-Riches 2.0. Next generation marketing strategies for making millions online. Scott Fox. 2009. ISBN 9780814414620. Another valuable AMACOM book. Deep knowledge, well assembled, in a very readable style make this a must read for the Internet marketer. The chapters on social networking marketing are worth the price of the book themselves. check out  He wrote Internet Riches. Reviews like “Our company’s Internet marketing and e-business strategy benefited greatly from Scott Fox’s leadership and innovative vision. The successful launch of our websites and e-commerce business could not have happened without his online business expertise.” — Michael Rapino, CEO, Live Nation

Successful Direct Marketing Methods. Interactive, database & custom marketing for the multichannel communications age. 8th Ed. Bob Stone & Ron Jacobs. 2008. ISBN 9780071458290. McGraw Hill has put out a bible in this book . Over 50,000 copies sold. Lots of up to dates stuff on e-marketing, but you read this to get a thorough grounding in the basics of the direct method.  Good case studies as well/ There is no subject untouched in this book and it needs to be on the shelf of every serious marketer out there.

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Guns Germs, and Steel. The fates of human society. Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond at the 2007 Association of Ameri...
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Guns Germs, and Steel. The fates of human society. Jared Diamond. 1997. ISBN 139780393317558.   When first published this book set new ideas in motion as to why over time some  civilizations rise and flourish, while others do not. His insights into the ease of trade and technology movement allowed with the east west alignment of Eurasia vs the NS alignment of North America based on geographic and climatic zones is very useful.  His long cycle analysis of China, New Guinea, Polynesia and other sociaties gave us ideas about species extinction, warfare, and technology acceptance as well as showing how groups benefits from smallness and friendly competition ( unity of China vs fragmentation of Europe) . The base work still stands to help create a “science” of history and it has made it much more relevant to the  average reader.  The authors reputation  has suffered over the years from what appears to be some inability to validate some of his references, especially in New Guinea.  His writing style is pedantic and repetitive, with an inability to “stay on course” to finish an idea with an idea before veering off to a pet thesis.  If you are a history buff this book warrants a serious read and is worth it.

Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot smaller. Oil and the end of globalization. Jeff Rubin

Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot smaller. Oil and the end of globalization. Jeff Rubin

Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot smaller. Oil and the end of globalization. Jeff Rubin. 2009. ISBN 9780307357519. This may be the most important book you read this year. Rubin was the Chief Economist for CIBC World Markets and one of the first to accurately predict soaring oil prices in 2000. He makes some very strong arguments for the return of high oil prices in a swinging up and down cycle, with the highs getting progressively higher and the lows being set at the most recent highs. Our dependence (and the 3rd worlds) on oil has not been reduced even tho’ we are getting more efficient with it. He makes a very good case that we should look at how our life will change and how we should change our investment outlook if:
a carbon tax is a new way for NA to level the economic playing field
Oil prices just continue to go up
Massive deficits create an inflationary economy
Global growth remains at 1-2%
Large government debts need to be paid back with higher taxes and cutbacks
The US dollar not longer is the world reserve currency and the US can not inflate its way to a recovery
Eating local vs globally becomes a necessity vs a luxury.
I suggest you get this book and read it.

Management books part 2

Cover of "Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for W...

Cover via Amazon

Management books part 2

Lead Well and Prosper. 15 Successful strategies for becoming a good manager. Nick McCormick. 2006. ISBN 9780977981335. A small book that would be very useful as a new manager handout. Simple, pragamatic yet as the author points out none of these are easy to do. Its all about execution and commitment. Quick easy read.

Rules of Thumb. 52 Truths for winning at business without losing yourself. Alan M. Webber. 2009. ISBN 9780061721830. Webber was co-founder of Fast Company magazine. Using a friendly conversational style, the author engages you quickly in the 52 truths. after the statement and example he follows with a so what part. I could not put this one down and really enjoyed it. Good for a tedious flight with lots of interruptions.

Living Above the Store.Building a Business That Creates Value, Inspires Change and Restores Land and Community. Martin Melaver. 2009. ISBN 9786023580854. Living Above the Store” brings us into the story of Melaver, Inc., a third-generation, 70-year-old family real estate business, as it evolves toward becoming a thought and product leader in sustainable business practices. It is part business management theory and part case study, where sustainable principles meet sustainable practices, always grounded in day-to-day practice. Very pragmatic and uplifting especially in a time of doom and gloom. .strike another for sustainability.

Jeff Immelt and the New GE Way. Innovations, Transformation and Winning in the 21st Century. David Magee. 2009. ISBN 9780071605878. So how do you follow after Jack Welch? With original ideas and practices to do even better it seems . Have to admire a company that can grow such leaders. Lots to learn here, and its not rocket science after all.

Why Teams Win. 9 Keys to success in business, sport and beyond. Dr Saul L. Miller. 2009. ISBN 9780470160435. Great teams have people working together through

  1. A sense of purpose
  2. Talent
  3. leadership
  4. Strategy/Plan
  5. Commitment
  6. Feedback
  7. Confidence
  8. Chemistry
  9. Identity

This guide and handbook will take you and your team through these parts to help evaluate and change for the better. I really buy into this material as I have seen it work well on my teams.

October 22, 2009 – Ban Krud, Day 2 (Reg is too laid back to write anything, so Amanda is doing the work.)

The Wat Khao Phra Bat temple overlooking Patta...
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October 22, 2009 – Ban Krud, Day 2 (Reg is too laid back to write anything, so Amanda is doing the work.)

Reg was parked on his hammock on the beach under the coconut trees most of the morning until I threw him out of it and dragged him for a walk along Ban Krud beach road taking in the country life of this little village. It was hot but the palm and coconut trees did provide lots of shade. Stopped for lunch at a local beachside restaurant and had a wonderful meal of spicy papaya, squid and shrimp salad, and a green shrimp curry washed down with 2 ice cold Singha beers. Had a few laughs with the waitresses who were trying to teach us Thai. The weather has been wonderful so far but would certainly welcome more ocean breezes which are nearly non-existent. After our walk back from lunch, Reg parked in his hammock again and wasn’t moving for the rest of the afternoon!
A swim and shower and then a quick stint on the net while savouring a delicious sautéed squid appetizer with 2 sauces accompanied with iced tea before Gai came to suggest our dinner menu, based on what the cook had found in the market today. It just couldn’t get any better than that!
Chatted with a lovely couple, John Rolfe (teacher), wife Belle with 3 beautiful children Becky, Benjamin and baby daughter. They normally reside in Pattaya but were enjoying the peacefulness of Ban Krud and away from the dozens of expats that reside in that city. Becky, their oldest child, personality plus, and precocious, kept us entertained most of the evening, especially with her precise boarding school, English

October 23, Ban Krud, Day 3

Reg was back in his favourite hammock again after breakfast, getting his fill of escape novels. After some coaxing, we decided to bicycle ride and explore more of the village. We noticed a number of new resorts popping up in this area…..soon it won’t be a tranquil haven but a touristy area like Phuket & Phi Phi which would be too bad. Half way through our ride, Reg was overcome by the heat and had to turn back. We stopped again at the beach side restaurant for a cold drink and lunch, then headed back to the resort for a dip in the pool and a snooze in our air conditioned bungalow. Another lazy day, just relaxing and reading. Dinner was a Thai buffet…..the chef out did herself and provided all the guests with a sumptuous feast, many dishes we had never tried before nor will probably ever see again. After dinner Becky, Benjamin and the owner, along with a few other guests led us down the back trail to the canal where we saw a mass of fireflies, it was like a lit up Christmas tree.
A really tough life!

October 24, Ban Krud, Day 4

Our last day in Ban Krud before we catch the bus back to Bangkok tomorrow morning. There is so much to see but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from our hammocks. If you stay here you will understand. We bade farewell to the Rolfe family as they headed back to Pattaya, sending them off with all our chocolates saved from the ship (for the kids) and a couple of completed novels to lighten our baggage. At noon we dragged ourselves out of our hammocks and headed in for lunch. Lunch was another feast of delicious Penang curry with roti, stir fried vegetables and a seafood noodle dish, accompanied by iced tea. Unlike the Thai restaurants in Vancouver, the flavours here are so rich and scrumptious they just burst in your mouth. We even recommended these dishes to a German mother and daughter Zabina & Lina who loved it. We look forward again to tonight’s feast, this last night at this charming place.
According to locals, the weather in Bangkok has been wet and stormy, we are hoping that our day in Bangkok will be sunny so that we can take in some of the sights in the short time we have here.

Management books part 1

Management books part 1

The Management Gurus. Lessons from the best management books of all time. Chris Lauer. 2008. ISBN 9781591842088. A good one from Portfolio books. Includes summaries of such works as Peter Drucker‘s Managing for the Future, Ken Blanchard‘s Mission Possible, and Tom Peters‘s Liberation Management. Useful for your reference shelf. See more at

Beyond Booked Solid. Michael Port. 2008. ISBN 9780470174364. Getting things done meets the four hour workweek. A good grow your business guide- useful pragmatic and practical.

Saving the World at Work : What Companies and Individuals Can Do to Go Beyond Making a Profit to Making a Difference. Tim Sanders. 2008. ISBN. Using extensive interviews with hundreds of employees and CEOs, plus countless stories of people who are making a difference in the workplace and in the world, Sanders offers practical advice every individual and company can use to make the world a better place–now and in the future. Well written and good for a four hour planbe ride, you will come away with some actions steps to follow.

Chasing the Rabbit: How Market Leaders Outdistance the

Competition and How Great Companies can Catch Up and Win. Steven J. Spear. 2009. ISBN 9780071499880. Clayton M. Christensen says this is no silver bullet full of f luff book. Spears finds the causes of high performance companies by going beyond the artifacst such as lean manufacturing to dig deeper. He looks at Toyota, Alcoa, Pratt & Whitney, the US Navy’s Nuclear Power Program, and top tier teaching hospitals. He finds they share an ability to skillfully manage complex internal systems to generates constant, almost automatic self-improvement at rates faster, durations longer, and breadths wider than anyone else does.

81 Challenges Smart Managers Face. How to oversomce the biggest challenges facing managers & leaders today. Tim Conner. 2007. ISBN 9781402209024. Thorough! He collects the 81 challenges under a eight recognizable threads, like planning, hiring, delegating, feedback and so on. Take the quiz at the front of the book – you will come face to face with your own issues. The author is a very seasoned writer, so this one just flows- but it is not a trivial book.

Somewhere in the south of Thailand

Coconut Tree
Image by reg_nordman via Flickr

October 21 – Thailand

Here we are at last on the final leg of our journey. Got off the ship just after 9:00 am this morning and were met by Rob Scarr of Image Limousine ( A very organized limo service and his driver got us to our destination in about 6 hours with a couple of stops along the way. Even though it was a long drive down to the south end of Thailand, it gave us a chance to experience a lot of the countryside. We finally, after a few wrong turns, pulled into this beautiful resort in Ban Krud (thank you Kyle).
We are not supposed to divulge this location therefore name of this resort will be withheld at the present time but if you ply us with unreasonable amount of wine and a great meal, our tongues might be loosened! We were escorted to our lovely beach bungalow which overlooks a 12 km long beach on the Gulf of Thailand. After getting ourselves settled, we took a quick stroll along the beach, then parked ourselves in one of the hammocks tied up between the many coconut trees along the beach and listened to the lapping of the waves. Ahhhhh….this is pure heaven!
A quick dip in the resort’s pool and a shower in our “honeymoon” shower a little later got us refreshed and ready to tackle dinner. Dinner was wonderful. They started us with their specialty for new guests – very lightly deep fried Frangipani flowers (the national flower) accompanied with a light plum sauce. The next 2 dishes were a lovely local fish (eagle fish) steamed with ginger, garlic, lemon grass and onion and lightly spiced, a stir fried vegetable dish and a green chicken curried dish. Wonderful blend of flavours in all dishes. Dessert was fresh sliced pineapple to clean the palate. A great end to a long day.

October 19th 2009 – Singapore

The Paragon, a high-end shopping mall, along O...
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October 19th 2009 – Singapore

A long awaited visit with Amanda’s step sister Nevina and her husband Fai made this visit a very memorable one. Our bus dropped us off on Orchard Road which boasts world class shopping against a backdrop of stunning modern architecture. They drove us past the famous Raffles Hotel to our first venue of interest, the Singapore Flyer. This is a very huge ferris wheel, very state of the art and it offers a stunning panoramic view of Singapore Island. It shows where the land has been reclaimed to expand Singapore’s shore line, the confluence of the Singapore and the Kallang Rivers and the new resorts and casinos being built downtown. They then showed us an architectural layout of the city and it’s proposed changes in the urban planning building. This city takes planning to incredible levels.
What a beautiful, pristine city Singapore is. Amanda’s craving for all the hawker style foods took us to one of the many hawker centers where we totally indulged in a variety of Asian dishes that Reg had never tried. Today was Monday so many of the hawker stalls and fresh markets were closed, especially the satay vendors, Nevina had to purchase satay the day before and bring it along. It was all sooooooo good!
Having overindulged more than a little we took a stroll in the Chinatown area taking in the older architecture, streets and alleys, markets and also stopping in at the Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in the city. Later Nevina and Fai took us to their lovely home to meet their two daughters Bernadette and Beatrice. Two delightful, very confident and self assured teenagers.
Unfortunately our time in Singapore was all too short (4 hours) and we had to board the bus for our return to the ship @ 2:30 pm. Amanda was still stuffing her face with special sweet dried pork on the trip back to the ship! It’s definitely a place to return to and spend more time in. A wonderful day in such a charming city. Thanks Nevina & Fai!

October 20, 2009

Our last sea day before we disembark at the port of Laem Chabang (Thailand). We say farewell to all our new friends and especially our dinner mates, Lex & Margaret from Glasgow, Gary & Elaine from Calgary, Janet and Ted from New Jersey with whom we shared many laughs at the dinner table. We wish all of them a safe journey home and hope that we will meet up again some day, perhaps on another cruise. It has been a great 16 days and a tremendous experience and insight into the Asian culture. Next off to Ban Krut in Southern Thailand!

Vietnam Oct 16-17

Image by reg_nordman via Flickr

Nha Trang, Vietnam Oct 16 2009.

Boasting some of Vietnam’s best beaches and considered the driest resort area in Vietnam, Nha Trang is a step back in time. The markets are rough and ready, very dirty, but so authentic you c an smell them a long way away. The street food we liked the most was a tiny crepe called Banh Xeo which is filled with seafood, pork, bean sprouts, cooked to perfection and eaten with fresh green leafy vegetables in a delicious fish sauce called “nuoc mam”…yum yum. Follow that up with a large super thin crispy egg cracker (similar to an Indian pappadum), with green onion, egg, a spicy sauce and poppy seeds and lightly toasted on a brazier. Wash it down with a Vietnamese ice cafe – super living. Local beer is Tiger and 333, its cold cheap ($1.00) and tasty.
We visited the Long Son Pagoda where an enormous white Buddha sits on a hill behind the Pagoda and another large Buddha lying down on another level. It commemorates the Buddhist monks who protested the abuses of the Diem regime in the early 1960s by setting themselves on fire. Then we visited the Po Nagar Cham Tower Complex ( old remnants of the Cham sites) dedicated to the black goddess Uroja. Lastly the Bao Dai Villa which was the summer home of the last Monarch of Vietnam, who ended up living in France. It stands on a hill with a beautiful panoramic view of Nha Trang Bay. The local fishing boats are painted bright red and blue and really show up in this rustic fishing village and port of Cau Da. Traffic is wild in this little town and scooters are the major means of transportation. The best way to cross a street is to follow a local! The surviving French-colonial buildings are also quite attractive.
And of course there is shopping. All the name brand goods you can imagine are up for negotiation. The US buck reigns supreme as well.
All in all quite a nice visit…and a look at how Vietnam people really live.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – October 17 2009

The economic center of Vietnam, an incredibly busy sprawling city (population of over 7 million with 4 million scooters) with lots of bustling market places, street vendors, and colonial architecture including the Notre Dame Cathedral built in 1876, in a city that is still growing. It was just wild crossing these streets as you’re basically vending your way through scooters, cars, bicycles, buses, trucks and pedi-cabs coming from all directions. Crosswalks and street stop lights are almost non-existent and no protection anyway. You must stride out into what looks like certain death, never faltering or stepping back and lo and behold the scooters, cars, trucks and buses thread their way around you. It is still best to follow the lead of a native until you get the hang of it. Amanda chose the “clutch of death on my arm and closed eyes while walking” technique. It also works, though I will carry these clutch mark scars for a long time!
Vietnam maintains a GDP rate of 8% even in the world economic downturn. Taiwan is the biggest investor in Vietnam and light industry (e.g. textiles) is booming. Considering that they are starting from almost nothing their adoption of the pursuit of money is quite amazing. Everywhere you look there are private shops and commerce is thriving. The rich are getting very rich in Vietnam.

Of course there is a plethora of variety in name brand goods and knock-offs, in a huge bargain hunters paradise called Ban Thanh market where you wheel and deal amongst the experts. As this was the cheapest place to shop in all of Asia, we took advantage of it and spent hours dealing in the markets, also tasting some wonderful pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and enjoying the array of various Asian fruits and vegetables. And of course the coffee. This country deserves to be known as having wonderful coffee. I had several cups at different spots just to make sure. The secret to Vietnamese coffee making is…..25 grams of their blend per cup, exactly plus the patience to let it drip completely (Yes Kyle I bought some to bring home for you to try).

The only thing we didn’t like about this was the commute to Saigon. As the ship was too big to enter Saigon’s port, it was docked in the brand new Phu My container port, 1 ½ hours each way from Saigon. That cut down considerably on our visit as well as letting more than a few of our fellow travelers free opportunity to whinge. It was still a wonderful visit and definitely a place we recommend highly to everyone.
We look forward to our final port of call, Singapore, before disembarking in Bangkok and a 5 day total veg out at a quiet beach resort.