Mele Kalikimaka!

We've gone digital!
Too many trees would die if we printed out our Holiday note, so here ya go. . . .

Mele Kalikimaka everyone.  Mary and I hope you had a good 2019.  This letter will catch you up on the latest changes in our lives – There have been some.

The year started off with the arrival of our 4th Grandchild.  Vito Giotto graced Caitlin and Mike just before the end of 2018.  Jen and Brandon have Frannie (6) Arlo (almost 4) and Auggie (almost 2).  We were able to fly out to North Carolina, where all the kids live now, early in 2019 to visit.  

Mike and Caitlin just bought their first house in Black Mountain NC.  Jen and Brandon are living the farm life in Marion NC.  We are heading out to visit from Dec 23rd-Jan 3rd.  We’re very proud of the people they’ve become, and the people they are raising.  


The exodus of our kids and their kids from California has been tough on us – we really miss them, but it also made our decision to move from California an easier one.

In May of this year we purchased a home in Kailua Kona, on the Big Island.  In September we sold our Cambria home.  The move was traumatic, in that we had to divest ourselves of much of our accrued “stuff” for the move to Kona.  It was liberating and long overdue.  Life on the island is exactly what we envisioned – much time in the water, getting exercise swimming, SUPing, kayaking, and outrigger paddling.  Mary has found her groove running on Ali’i drive and I hope to do some paragliding on the islands soon.  The house needs a deep makeover, so we plan to make lots of dust and noise in February and March.  When the project is complete, it will be the house we've always wanted.

Arlo and Auggie

Mary is in protracted negotiation with the state to get her Hawaiian Massage Therapist license.    They seem to be very nice, but the process is quite frustrating for someone who's been licenced in CA for years.  
She’s looking forward to working at one of the resorts in the area. 

I am starting my last year with United. Counting down my last 20 or so landings before Dec 2020 when I become redundant at 65.  I like my job, but unlike Mary, I’m looking forward to NOT working.  There is much active recreation, ceramics work, and relaxing to be done.

The older we get, the more we realize how important our friends and family are to us.  Our life spans are finite, and we cherish the time we have available to spend with all of you. 

Happy Holidays!

Tim and Mary O’Neill
75-289 Malulani Dr.
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
(808) 238-0473 Landline

Is Bear Grylls an Idiot, or What?!?

Ok, I know that there are quite a few who speak less than kindly about Bear Grylls and his cheesy survival shows on TV.  And I don't want to be perceived as "piling-on", but after watching one of his programs today about survival in the New Mexico desert all I can blurt is WTF!?
Repeat after me - ''If I'm stuck in the desert, and fighting for survival, I won't compound the perils by taking stupid chances doing unnecessary but visually interesting stunts.''
 In this episode Bear decides to throw a rope across to a rock pinnacle because he doesn't have enough rope to rappel to the bottom of a 30' ravine.  As he shimmies across the gap, his makeshift grappling hook gives way and he almost (wow it was thrilling) falls. . .  What you'll never hear on one of his shows is "Geez, that was a really dumb idea - on second thought, maybe it would be better to take the safer, long way around."  And that's my point - He's not teaching you anything you'll really need to know for survival.  He's pandering to the couch-sloths that inhabit most of America.  The lazy majority that bitch because they have to walk  waddle the 100 feet from their parking spot to the Wal Mart - they are Bear's audience.  They are the folks who go to Yosemite and only leave the car when an opportunity to pick up a bag of Cheetos presents itself.  What's really funny (to me anyway) is that his audience is probably reacting to his antics with the same incredulity as I am - just for different reasons.

The 'don't-doers,' that are Bear's audience, can't conceive of the idea that someone would actually go into the wild for fun and adventure.  The fact he's peeing into a snake skin and then wearing it, as a necklace, for 2 days in case he needs to drink it is no more absurd than the fact that the crazy mofo is out in the boonies in the first place.

Those of us with some survival knowledge and a love of the outdoors, are just marveling at his ability to look at a situation and find the most treacherous and idiotic solution to the problem.  He is, in short, someone I refer to as a 'SHIT-MAGNET.'  He's a guy who discovers a river and then decides to jump 80' into it without any idea how deep the water is.  Or a guy who climbs down a chimney and discovers he's rim-locked - No way back up, and no way down. . . He's not teaching survival - He's showing you how people die.  He's just playing with fate.  The secret to survival when you find yourself in a character-building moment is to act carefully and reasonably.  The second you feel desperate, you will start doing desperate things.  The most devastating occurrence, when in a remote survival situation, is injury.  Stay healthy and you will have time to fix the situation.  Don't drink dangerous water or eat foul meat, or glissade down a steep slope on a yak carcass, at breakneck speeds - it makes great TV, but it's not good survival technique.  We're talking about life & death here - you have to consider the risk/reward of taking a risky short-cut, or eating dodgy food that will likely give you a GI problem and deplete you of hydration as you vomit and diarrhea your way to civilization.

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching this guy eat a raw lizard, drink his own piss and squeeze brown effluent out of a 20 lb. elephant turd as much as the next guy, but don't sell it as a survival show.  It's as much a survival show as the 'wild mustangs' he lassoed were wild, and as real as the volcanic gasses created with smoke machines. Bear is a TV personality and he's making a good living as such - more power to him.  I just wish he wasn't hyping his antics as education.  On that score he is an idiot.

If you want to learn about survival read these books:

If you must watch TV for your survival education at least watch Survivorman.  He's still a TV host, but at least he doesn't advocate risking injury and death when you are in a pickle.

So, IS Bear Grylls an Idiot?  No, he's probably not - But YOU are, if you try to survive using his methods and advice.

What this is all about -

Everyone who lives dies, yet not everyone who dies, has lived. We take these risks not to escape life, but to prevent life escaping us.

One of my fellow PG Forumers has this as his tagline. I like it, even if it sounds a bit trite. At the age of 53, I'm probably ripe for a midlife 'crisis' of some kind, but there are no Harleys, affairs with 25-yr-olds, or tattoos in my near future. I imagine that's because I still feel alive and young enough that death is either going to come spectacularly, or much later on. . .

I guess you could call me a flyer - I've flown some form of aircraft since I was 14 yrs old. For the last 35 years I've made my living flying airplanes. Now, as a 747 pilot I'm more of a manager and less of a pilot. I fly 15 hour international flights that guarantee that I will be tired when making the approach and landing. For that reason, I employ automation and procedures to minimize the opportunity for error. I guess that's why I fly these crazy paraglider competitions.

My slick little paraglider is undoubtedly the lowest performance aircraft I've ever flown - although flying one is the closest thing to spreading my wings and just flying. Paragliders are the easiest aircraft to learn to fly but they take quite a while to learn to fly well. And flying cross country flights is very challenging. I think the challenge is where it's at for me. The focusing nature of being no more than 20 minutes from landing, unless you find lift, keeps me consumed in concentration until I cross the goal line. As I've said before, this sport can seem very trivial to those that 'don't get it' - and I understand. It's just like me 'not getting' why somebody would want to collect Beany Babies . . .

But it doesn't make the impact on my life any less that you, or my wife, don't understand why I do it. My wife does understand (from experience) that if I don't get to fly for a week or two, I get edgy and restless. And I think that she intuitively understands that I need to get into the air - as much as I need to breath the stuff . . .

What's my point? I don't know, really. I just had my 15 yr. old hound-dog put out of his misery this week. . . He lived a full life and crawled into the garden to die under his favorite tree. I think he was satisfied with his life and lived until he was ready to die. I wish the same for us all.