Summer Waves

November 9th, 2015

Hi Everyone,

 

To me, summer in Vermont is like a calm peaceful ocean on a cloudless sunny day. Perfectly nice day for most people, but a disappointing and somewhat sad day for the surfers who are waiting for waves. There is nothing you can do if there are no waves to ride.

 

There is this belief that calm contentment brings happiness. That theme is repeated by many different religions. The core of this idea seems to be that Self already has everything it needs to be happy in the present moment. Uneasiness, or discontentment comes from the self consciousness or ego being detached from Self and start thinking about the past or future (for example, should have been, could have been thoughts). This creates swirls of self-conversation that disturbs the naturally calm and quiet state of mind. If we could get back to our original Self for a few minutes, we will be in touch with our inner happiness again, so they say.

 

I, on the other hand, believe that some level of excitement always accompanies my happiness. Whether I’m having the best riding day at Stratton or watching our 2 year old grandson reading a book for the first time, the excitement seems to underscore the feeling of happiness. I even think that the elevated heart rate and happiness necessarily go together. I don’t have to get my heart rate going to induce the state of happiness but happiness in a sedated state does not appeal to me. The notion of calm contentment bringing happiness seems contradictory.
As it turned out, there are two distinct types of happiness – one associated with peacefulness and one associated with being excited.

 

Professor Cassie Mogliner of the University of Pennsylvania, who carried out the research on how the meaning of happiness changes over the course of one’s lifetime, found that, for young people, 60 percent of happiness is about excitement. In contrast, older people associate 80 percent of happiness with contentment. The difference appears to come from the varying degrees of emphasis placed upon the future compared to the present.

 

This opens up a theoretical possibility that if you consciously put a larger emphasis on the future, create the reasons to get excited about it, you then feel younger and the excitement brings happiness. So, how do you create a reason to get excited about the future? If you have a fairly predictable future, embedded in the routines, within a known environment, it would be difficult to expect anything new happening. So, begin a new journey, open yourself to new experiences and a bit of adventure, you will then have something to look forward to and be excited about what tomorrow will bring. Isn’t that why you travel?

Another way to create a reason to get excited about the future is to embark on new learning. Not just learning in the sense of reading and gaining conceptual understanding of things, but ideally it involves both mental and physical learning. The physical aspect of learning will slow down the process of getting bored and carry you through the repetition, only after which comes the next level of mastery. Learning is fun as long as you are getting better. Aspiration and anticipation of improvement in the manageable time frame will bring your attention to the future and you will be excited about the progress of learning.

 

Now which type of happiness do you pursue? Calm contentment or being excited about the future yet to unfold? You know which one I’m after.

 

Come to Ormsby Hill and create the reason to get excited about the future…

 

In pursuit of the best future…
Yoshio

The Inn at Ormsby Hill
1842 Main Street
Manchester Center, VT 05255
802-362-1163
800-670-2841
www.ormsbyhill.com
stay@ormsbyhill.com

Reinvent

November 9th, 2015

Hi Everyone,

 

How do you reinvent yourself? By now, you probably know what you like about yourself and what you don’t. When was the last time you had a significant and noticeable upgrade to those things you liked about yourself so that this version of “you” is something you will be happy with for a couple of years? Is it time to reinvent myself? That’s what I used to ask myself.

 

Moving from Tokyo to Connecticut, and back to Tokyo, and to Pennsylvania, and then to Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong and back to Connecticut again, I had plenty of chance to reinvent myself. The problem was that I kept reinventing the same exact “me.” Not even a slightly improved version of me. Just me.

 

According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, the author of “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”, you think what you feel most of the time. Your environment is the biggest influencer of what’s in your mind. You are cold, you are hot, you are hungry and you are all stressed out. Animals don’t dwell on the thoughts even after an attack by a tiger, but humans tend to think it over and over again. Pretty soon, you start to feel what you think rather than thinking what you feel (i.e. Have you felt sick on Monday morning?) When this cycle of thinking what you feel and feeling what you think becomes memorized in your body, you don’t even need to think consciously any more and the body begins to respond automatically. Dr. Joe Dispenza calls this state of being “Thinking equal to environment” and, when you are in this loop, nothing new can be created from it.

 

The scientists have discovered that most of our decisions, actions, emotions and behavior depend upon the 95% of brain activity that is beyond our conscious awareness. Our body-mind is so highly capable of living our lives on auto-pilot that you don’t need to think consciously to do 95% of what you do every day. That’s pretty amazing. Sometimes you feel your life is becoming slightly repetitive and uneventful, but that’s because your body-mind is doing a good job.
Moreover, your subconscious mind, by design, is operating without checking with your conscious mind so you don’t even know why you are acting the way you are and feeling what you are feeling sometimes. If you are feeling blue today, it is very hard to get out of it by your conscious effort because your subconscious mind has already decided that it’s going to be a bad day independent of what you are thinking consciously. This is one of the reasons why it is so hard to change. The conscious mind may be in the present (for example, I want to lose weight.) but the subconscious body-mind is in the past, faithfully and automatically reconstructing the old “me” from the memorized emotions (Ice cream makes me happy!).

 

I made a conscious decision to come to Vermont so that I can spend six months snowboarding. There is nothing here to automatically reconstruct “me” from the memorized experiences and there are no expectations of what I should be. I put myself in a survival mode so that whatever “me” I create is wholly a consequence of my conscious decisions. I was curious what kind of “me” I will create this time.

 

Did I succeed in reinventing a better version of “me” in Vermont? Is it a happier “me”? Well, I really don’t know if I am better or happier, but I think I am a truer me than when I was a Corporate “me” where I felt I was the only Zebra among Thoroughbreds.

 

I just wanted to be “me” but I did not know who I was supposed to be, so I ended up with a bunch of well groomed Thoroughbreds. It was fun running at high speed with a group of fast horses, so I kept running faster and faster. Sometimes I ran faster than most of them on this side of the field, but no one wanted to bet on me on the race track. The thing was that I quietly enjoyed being the dark horse… with a stripe.

 

By the way, why do I want to reinvent myself? It’s not perfect, but I kind of like “me” and it does not need a major overhaul. I carefully steer clear of over-expectations to avoid any disappointment and try to find many small happiness in my every day life. Why do I need to change what I have?

 

Because you are so much more capable of being better. Because you can be more than what you are today. So, why not try? You don’t need to wait till you have some traumatic experience to change your life. But if you are not quite ready to totally rebuild yourself from scratch, perhaps what you need is to “renew” yourself, not reinvent, so that you erase some of those memorized negative emotions and create more positive ones. Then, you look forward to what is to come in your life and be excited about what you are creating. I like when you talk so passionately about things you like.

 

Come to Ormsby Hill and renew some of your memorized emotions…

 

In pursuit of a better “me”…

Yoshio

The Inn at Ormsby Hill
1842 Main Street
Manchester Center, VT 05255
802-362-1163
800-670-2841
www.ormsbyhill.com
stay@ormsbyhill.com

November 9th, 2015

Hi Everyone,

 

When I was eight years old, all proper middle class Japanese boys my age had to go to a few after-school activities. If I had a choice, I would have rather played baseball until it was dark and I could not see the ball any more, but the game usually came to an end when one of us had to leave because it was time to go to abacus school.

 

An abacus is an exercise in visualization of mathematics. The top bead represents 5 units and the bottom four beads represent one each. You add/subtract left to right (as opposed to right to left as you would if you are adding numbers with pencil and paper) just as the numbers are being called. “Four hundred..”, you add four beads to the third digit column, “Fifty..”, you add five beads to the second digit column, “and Two”, you add two beads in the first digit column. After a few years of abacus schooling, children were adding and subtracting a series of 3 digit numbers by mentally visualizing the finger movement and bead placement on the abacus. I saw some older kids practice this mental abacus along side a bunch of us who were flicking the beads furiously to keep up with the numbers being called out. I could not guess how many hours of practice it took to get to that level, but the message was clear that, with discipline and repetition, any child could learn to use an abacus at a level that was very impressive.

 

Sunday morning calligraphy school was meant to teach children discipline, concentration and subtlety of perfection and nuance. Before we could write anything with our horse hair brush, we had to make black sumi ink by grinding an inkstick against an inkstone with a little bit of water. You must sit on the tatami floor with your back straight and your legs neatly folded under your body. The proper posture was essential in your effort to concentrate and relax at the same time. The harder the inkstick, the richer the blackness it produced; however, it took longer to make sumi ink with a hard inkstick. The time you spent on making ink was rewarded by the quality of ink you produced. This was a lesson in patience and we learned that nothing beautiful can be created with a hasty mind.

 

You wrote on a super thin paper and you only had one chance to do your stroke. You could not go back and correct your stroke as it would be obvious if you went over the same stroke twice. One chance. One chance only. You committed yourself and moved your hand with precise direction and controlled velocity to express the intensity of the stroke. If you messed up, which you did often, you started over again from the beginning. Finally your calligraphy was done and you brought it to the teacher at the front of the room. She looked at it and corrected your stroke by going over it with orange ink, demonstrating visually what the perfect character brush stroke would look like. Then, she drew circles. Three circles for a good job done, two circles for an OK job, and one circle for “Try harder.” You went back to your seat and tried again until you got three circles. If the correctness was the goal, the practice would get you there. If you wanted to cultivate a little bit of individualism, style, and artistic expression of your own, there was absolutely no room for that on Sunday morning. Perhaps mothers sent their children to calligraphy school, not to make us an artist, but to teach discipline and focus.

 

Japanese mothers in the 1960’s were starting to explore cultural training for their children. In addition to almost obligatory math and calligraphy, music lessons were a popular choice at that time. I had my piano teacher come to our house once a week for a one hour of lesson. He gave me a new sheet of music to practice and I was supposed to practice a couple of hours every day, which I of course didn’t. He would come to check on my progress, or more like lack of progress, and critique my playing. He would write down the date we went over a certain piece on the upper right hand side of the music sheet. The problem with this system was that the dates that were supposed to show progress were stuck on one sheet as I never practiced. I wanted to play baseball, you know. Without practice, I never became good enough to progress to the next piece of music. Pretty soon, my sheet of music was looking like a calendar, filled with dates of shame. One week, I was fishing for a crayfish in the pond and did not appreciate the thought of seeing my piano teacher. So I decided to not go home. 2 hours after the piano lesson time, I finally went home only to find out that he was still there as my mother made him wait! Another date of shame was on the music sheet.

 

By age 10, I went to another after-school school that taught mathematics. After going through mathematical concept and theory in the class, the teacher gave us a test at the end of each class. Usually 100 three digit additions, subtractions, multiplication and divisions. Fairly straight forward stuff. The only caveat was that as soon as you finished the test, you could go home if you got everything correct. We would go through the test as fast as we could and bring the answer sheet to the teacher. Being the first one was always accompanied by a little bit of glory. He checked your answers and told us how many wrong answers we had without telling us exactly which ones were wrong. You went back to your seat and started checking every single one of 100 answers until you found the wrong answers by yourself. The ironic fact of life was that you tended to use the same short-cuts and mis-process that caused the wrong answers to begin with, which made finding your wrong answers very difficult. You would go over 100 questions over and over again, but just couldn’t find the wrong answers. Other kids were leaving the class and you were still stuck with this frustrating test, which made you even more careless. Sometimes doing it the right way the first time was the fastest way to get out of the class room, you learned.

 

Our children never went to abacus school. They never practiced calligraphy on Sunday morning. They had no piano teacher waiting for them at our house. They did not have a special after-school math class. Yet, they learned discipline, focus, patience, and subtlety of perfection and nuance just fine. I really wonder if all that shame of not achieving your talent and dates of embarrassment were necessary to learn whatever I learned. I could have just played a PlayStation game to learn the reward of repetitive practice.

 

Skip the piano lesson, if you want, and come to Ormsby Hill…

 

In pursuit of Life’s best lessons…

Yoshio

The Inn at Ormsby Hill
1842 Main Street
Manchester Center, VT 05255
802-362-1163
800-670-2841
www.ormsbyhill.com
stay@ormsbyhill.com

Lucio’s Plan

July 11th, 2015

Hi Everyone,

“So, Lucio. Do you have a contingency plan?”, asked Gregg.

“What do you mean by a contingency plan?”

“Pirates on the high seas. What would you do if you encounter pirates on the Indian Ocean?”

“I will surrender $1,000 to make them go away. They can take my radar and I would not replace it either. They don’t bother small sailing boats because there isn’t anything to steal, but if I do come across them, I’ll give them what they want. If they shoot a hole in the hull, it will cost me more to repair it.”

[What if they shoot a hole in your chest?], I thought about it silently, but there was no sense in asking him that question. He is risking something far greater than a chance encounter with pirates. What if you discover a leak in your water tank half way across the Indian Ocean? What if you get washed away by a huge wave and all your food spoil? What if the sail breaks in a monstrous storm in the middle of the night? What if you sail into one of those mystery zones where all your navigational equipment becomes totally useless? What if you get so sick and could not even get up from bed? What if you get lonely and desperate and start thinking about your daughter? What if you discovered one day, that you did not have passion for this voyage any more? What if you find yourself wanting to quit? What if… What if…

Lucio is getting ready to sail away from Manila to Europe, a six-week journey…. with a good wind. I cannot help but to be envious. Another soul is seeking what is unexpected and un-discoverable in an ordinary life. He says that he is tired of working for money and he will never work for something he doesn’t like. What happened to this man? Is he another man who is suffering from a premature mid-life crisis?

This man too has befallen to life’s pitfall. Why is it that all men who have seemingly achieved the state of an “ordinary” happy life with a caring wife and loving children get a hollow feeling inside? A dog or two would make this suburban life a picture prefect happy family. Why can’t he be happy? Why can’t he be satisfied with the life that most of us work all our lives to get to? Why is it that these men get an overwhelming urge to leave everything behind to seek if there is something else out there?

Life could not be a happy-end at age 36. It is like a 3 year old knocking everything down, after he so carefully stacked wood blocks to build a tower. Something tells us that there is more beyond. In order to find that out, we must leave the comfort of home and search for what lies ahead – whatever that may be. Will we come back? Will we ever be satisfied with what awaits us? Will we ever find what we are looking for?

“I don’t know what I would do once I get there”, says Lucio without defining where “there” is.

“Last time, I sailed across from Hong Kong to Manila in four days and I could not wait to get off the sailboat. After that, I did not want to see the water for a long time.”

[ Silence ]

“What if, after eight weeks of sailing, you get off the boat and suddenly you know that the only thing you wanted to do is to go back to the ocean. Then you know you are in trouble. What would you do if you find something that you were not supposed to find….”

Lucio laughed. We did not know what to do but to smile as we did not really understand what he meant.

“So, do you have radar?”

“Yup. I have two GPS systems too.”

“What happens if two GPS had different reading? Which one do you trust? You need three so that two readings confirm which one is right.”

“Well, either it works or it doesn’t. You don’t usually get different readings. Besides I’ll be sailing along the land most of the time. It is only the Indian Ocean that I have to cross and it’ll probably take two weeks.”

“What are you going to do for two weeks on the open seas where there is nothing but water and the sun? You could not possibly be looking at the water all that time.”

“Well, actually we will be pretty busy with three guys taking turns. I have an autopilot, but somebody has to watch out just in case something suddenly appears on its course. And I suppose I’ll read a lot.”

“I got an idea. Why don’t each of you give me a book to read.”

That sounds like a wonderful idea. I can send you a book or two that I recommend. I know just the perfect ones to read on a two week of meditative journey. I’ll definitely do that, Lucio.

Endless questions flow out to this brave man. We are all excited about his humble attempt to do what is incalculable. We are all happy that Lucio gets to do what all of us dream of doing, but never have guts to do it. We are all cheering for him.

“Lucio, what would you do if, after three weeks on the high seas with no signs of land, you sighted a small island with three gorgeous women. They’ve never seen an Italian man and fall in love with you instantly. Your ship was wrecked and the only thing you could salvage was your portable phone. What would you do?”

Lucio thinks a second and says, “You gotta take a risk some time!”
Don’t take unimaginable risks… Come to Ormsby Hill instead.
In pursuit of the best Risk/Return scenario…
Yoshio

 

Snow Rider

May 12th, 2015

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Early season at Stratton Mountain, I caught up with a Ski School instructor on the chair lift to the summit. We’ve already had one snow storm in November, which dumped 13 inches of snow on the mountains, so the slopes looked ready. Prior to that, the day time temperature was cold enough that they were running the snow guns all day and all night to prepare for the 2014/2015 season opening day.

 

Unfortunately for me, when nature decides to snow that much, there is too much to do around the inn that prohibits me from entertaining the idea of catching the fresh powder. I shovel snow around the front entrance, back door, the guest room entrance and deck. I take snow off the front entry roof so that icicles will not grow there. I try to rake some snow off the hedges so that they will not be crushed by the weight of frozen snow. If there are any icy spots on the parking lot, I will spread some ice melt. It is a full day of work to dig out of a big snow day.

 

By the time I got to Stratton on Monday, a couple of 40s warm days have melted most of the snow. By Thursday, the temperature was down to the low 20s again; however, this deadly combination of temperature fluctuations made the trail surface extremely hard and icy. Not too many people come out in such conditions, so the top half of the mountain never got enough traffic to have the shave-offs that provided any hope of grip.
I went down carefully with ample amount of cushion left in my knees to react to suddenly slipping edges. Low temperature and icy surfaces meant that there was a very little friction between the board and hard snow. Controlling my speed and carefully measuring the amount of unexpected movements underneath my board, I tried to remain in control over such an unforgiving condition. It is no time to learn new skills as the consequence of anything other than perfect execution is a hard fall, usually accompanied by pain.

So, when I find myself riding the chair lift with a Ski School instructor, I wanted to ask if there are any tips for skiing in conditions like this . After a casual exchange of “Hi”s and “How are you”s, I started talking about how bad the conditions are. He told me that he has been a ski instructor for thirty some years. He used to work at Jay Peak near the Canadian border, but moved to Stratton because he wanted to get a new certification. There is a panel of judges who decide you are worthy of a certain level of certification and there are seven such judges in the Stratton area, but there are none up there. So he moved down to Stratton so that he can find out what’s in the minds of these judges and become familiar with the way they think of skiing.

 

I never knew such a level of ski certification existed. Apparently, at that level of skiing mastery, it is not about technical skills and much more comes into play. It reminded me of the documentary movie about the Master Sommlier examination. There are now 135 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. There are 211 Master Sommeliers worldwide since the first successful Master Sommelier examination was held in the United Kingdom by the Court of Master Sommelier in 1969. This movie gives a glimpse of what it takes to pass the nearly impossible Master Sommelier examination. Check out the movie “Somm” at the NETFLIX documentary section.

 

Back to snowboarding… As I practice the familiar lines on the Black Diamond trails every week, I figured out that the difference between a good run and not so good run is purely your attitude. You have the skills and technique to negotiate the slope. The steepness of incline is such that the harder you try to control, the more chances you have of losing control. When the unexpected surprises you, your attitude changes. Fear takes over, doubt seeps in and confidence dwindles. Then, it’s over. Instead, you should trust your ability and let your body spontaneously react to whatever is happening underneath. Seek less control and minimize resistance. After all, it is a controlled fall. You are falling undeniably, while balancing to stay up. Respect what gravity is doing to you, and don’t just insist on what you are doing to it.

 

 

So when I met the ski instructor of 30 some years, who moved to Stratton to prepare for the next level of certification, who is skiing in these impossible conditions, I wanted to ask what revelation he had on skiing. He told me about his friend. They grew up together and they were in the same development program when they were teenagers. His friend went onto competitive skiing and achieved much success. He is in his mid 50s now and they still see each other once or twice a year. “You know what…”, he says. “Every time I see him, he starts out by saying, “I am working on a new move…”

 

Come to Ormsby Hill and peek into the minds of Masters…

 

In pursuit of the best snowboarding move…

Yoshio

The Inn at Ormsby Hill
1842 Main Street
Manchester Center, VT 05255
802-362-1163
800-670-2841
www.ormsbyhill.com
stay@ormsbyhill.com

Something To Do

May 12th, 2015

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

That night, Jesse and I were looking for something to do. We successfully managed our 18 hour trip from Bangkok to Koh Samui, an island off the eastern cost of Thailand. The trip was comprised of three mode of transportation: train, bus, and boat, for a total cost of $15 U.S. dollars.

 

The morning started out adventurous. On the way to the Bangkok train station, our taxi driver was merging into a big main street which was jammed with hundreds of cars inching their way forward. He was a bit too aggressive, playing a game of chicken, and he ended up bumping into the car in front of him. The taxi driver was yelling something, presumably claiming his innocence, and the other driver in front of him came out of his car and was yelling back to him with both arms up. We did not understand a word of what they were saying but we knew exactly what was going on. I turned to Jesse and he said “Let’s go!” We jumped out of the taxi and started running toward the train station, laughing uncontrollably, as we understood that the payment was optional.

 

We had a 12 hour ride on a sleeper train. We weren’t sure if we could get something to eat on the train, but the chance of us finding something appetizing was remote. So we stopped at the only convenience store in the station. We walked around the store aisles twice but we just could not find anything that looked interesting. There were local passengers buying their dinner to bring onto their trains, but none of the stuff they had looked familiar and we weren’t sure if our stomach could handle it. The last thing you want is to be sick on a train with strange object in your stomach. I don’t really remember what we ate but not much beyond Ritz crackers and coke.

 

As the train slowly departed the Bangkok station, it proceeded through the city section where home-made shacks occupied either side of the train track and kids were playing six feet from the moving train. The train was moving slowly through the slum section as if to show some respect for people who were living there. Such co-existence is so beyond the western standards that it almost made me question who was there first, train or people…
As the night fell on the track, the train conductor came to lower the bunk bed and spread clean white sheets, which seemed totally unbalanced with everything else on the train. As I went to the toilet at the end of the train car, I noticed that the same conductor was washing himself between train cars with a bucket of water. There was no shower on the train, but apparently this man wanted to wash off his sweat before he went to bed. You wonder who is more civilized…

 

As we reached the destination station at 6:00am, we got off the train and immediately got on the bus parked outside of the train station. It seemed everyone who got off the train got on this bus as there was no other purpose for this train stop. About a 30 minute ride later, we were at the boat dock waiting for a passenger boat to take us to the island. There were already a bunch of backpackers and young travelers of all nationalities. Checking on the boat schedule, we found out that the next boat was 3 hours away. We were in no hurry and the only goal of that day was to get to the island.

 

Finally, the boat came and everyone moved toward it. As we got on the boat, we were told to put our bags and backpacks on the deck and go inside. As we went inside, all the seats were already taken and we were pushed out to the other side to the front deck. Aboard the packed ship with the over-capacity passengers squeezed on the top of the deck of the boat, we could not move from a square foot of the assigned space for the entire 3 hour journey under the blazing sun. All I could think about was that this is the kind of boat that you read in the newspaper – the over-capacity boat capsized in the open sea full of refugees…. and one Japanese and one American on board.

 

We had been on the island for a couple of days. Obviously we survived the boat trip. The only thing we had to do that day was to get to the island alive. We’ll worry about everything else when we get there. That’s how we felt about this whole journey. Finally when we got there, we worried about nothing. Jesse was 17 years old then. Young, fearless, open to new experiences. No big deal, Dad.

 

12 years later, Diane and I were looking for something to do. I decided to finish my 11 year stint in Tokyo and it was time to return to the U.S. Our son, Jesse, got married that year and I wanted to do something different than commuting back and forth to New York City. After much thinking, I arrived at the conclusion – I want to spend six months snowboarding in Vermont! Somewhere along the line, this idea of a bed and breakfast came up. After a brief investigation, it seemed like something Diane and I could do together. We did not have any hospitality experience but we thought we could figure it out after we got there. 11months later, we bought this beautiful, historic, country estate B&B in Manchester, Vermont. The rest is history. It is a path less traveled, but it is certainly a journey worth taken.

 

As you know, I am a student of retirement and I talk to many guests about how to prepare for a happy retirement. One of the guests said, when asked about his retirement, “Retirement is not something to be figured out. It is a mystery to be lived!” Sometimes you cannot figure out everything before you jump in, but the joy of living a mystery is something you just have to find out in real time.

 

Come to Ormsby Hill and when you cross that Vermont state line, somehow, you feel different…

 

In pursuit of the best mystery…

Yoshio

The Inn at Ormsby Hill
1842 Main Street
Manchester Center, VT 05255
802-362-1163
800-670-2841
www.ormsbyhill.com
stay@ormsbyhill.com

Carnegie Hall

May 12th, 2015

 

Hi Everyone,

 

What do you do when you get snowed in for a couple of days in Vermont? Plan a trip to get out of Vermont!

 

This year, we went to Carnegie Hall to see Keith Jarrett’s piano solo concert. I had never been to Carnegie Hall and did not quite know which seats to select, but I ended up with the front row of something called “Dress Circle.” Carnegie Hall has four layers of balconies, of which the third one is called “Dress Circle.” Reading about the history of Carnegie Hall, I learned that it was specifically designed and built for superior acoustic characteristics. The idea was conceived in 1987 and the construction of the building was completed in spring of 1891.

 

Around the same time that Carnegie Hall was being constructed in New York City, Edward Swift Isham, a Chicago lawyer, purchased an old Vermont farm house in 1885 and turned it into a 10,000 sqft summer house. Isham renamed the house Ormsby Hill and welcomed many guests, including Mrs Julia Grant, a wife of General Ulysis Grant, on July 29th, 1895. Atop rolling hills in the valley, sandwiched between the Taconic mountain range and the Green Mountains, it must have been an idyllic place for Isham to spend summers, where his grandfather, Dr Ezra Isham, came to practice medicine in 1800.
Ezra and Nancy Isham had six children and their oldest son, Pierrepont, born in 1802, studied law under Judge Richard Skinner and established his law practice in Bennington. Pierrepont married Samantha Swift, a daughter of the first minister to serve Manchester’s Congregational Church, was appointed to the Vermont Supreme Court and later lived in New York City where he died in 1877. Pierrepont and Samantha had three children, Edward Swift, Mary and Henry. Edward’s sister, Mary, married Major Sartell Pretice and had four children. Marry’s oldest son married Alta Rockefeller, daughter of John D. Rockefeller.

 

Over on the other side of ocean, Japan was coming to the end of the Samurai era, when Commodore Perry came to Shimoda with the infamous Black Ship and demanded to open the country for trade with America. Japan had been a closed country for 220 years (1633 to 1853), since the Tokugawa shogunate enacted the policy whereby no foreigner could enter, nor could any Japanese leave the country on penalty of death.

 

My great great grandfather, Bunnai Endo, was born in 1853 in a Samurai family. At that time in Japan, there was a class system that indicated social hierarchy and everyone was classified as either Samurai, Farmer, Engineer, or Merchant. My great grandfather, Zensaku Endo’s birth registration shows Bunnai Endo as his father and he was a Bushi (samurai class). Bunnai taught children of Samurai families at a school generally called “Terakoya”, and later became the first principal of the Minami Koizumi Elementary School in Sendai, Japan. The Office of School Principal, which still to this date proudly hangs the pictures of all the School Principals in the past, has the framed photograph of Bunnai Endo on the wall. How do I know that is my great great grandfather? I have the same picture that was handed down to me by my father.

 

Between 1887 to 1891, at Andrew Carnegie’s request, Carnegie Hall’s architect William Burnet Tuthill toured and studied European concert halls famous for their acoustics. He also consulted with architect Dankmar Adler of the Chicago firm Adler and Sullivan – a noted acoustical authority who was responsible for Chicago’s Auditorium Building, itself completed in 1889 and known for superb acoustics. A favorite quote from Isaac Stern said, “Everywhere in the world, music enhances a hall, with one exception – Carnegie Hall enhances the music.”

 

The five-day opening festivities of Carnegie Hall in 1891 attracted the cream of New York society such as the Whitneys, Sloans, Rockefellers, and Fricks who paid $1 to $2 to see the performance. It is fascinating to think that the Ishams and Lincolns might have been among the people who attended the opening of Carnegie Hall. 124 years later, Kelly, Diane and I went to Carnegie Hall on a snowy evening to see Keith Jarrett play solo piano. With the packed audience completely mesmerized with his piano playing and deep harmonic sound enveloping the entire hall, Keith Jarrett came back to the stage three times for encores. What a night!.

 

Come to Ormsby Hill and reimagine the 19th Century Isham life…

 

In pursuit of the best acoustic moment…
Yoshio

The Inn at Ormsby Hill
1842 Main Street
Manchester Center, VT 05255
802-362-1163
800-670-2841
www.ormsbyhill.com
stay@ormsbyhill.com

Water Crystal

February 16th, 2015

 

Happy New Year – Everyone,

 

In a relatively low-budget independent film called, “What Bleep Do We Know?” (2004), the main character, Amanda, played by Marlee Matlin, goes down to the subway station and notices a woman on the platform showing photos of water crystals taken by Dr. Masaru Emoto. She explains that, from beautiful words and music come beautiful crystals and from mean-spirited, negative words, come malformed and misshapen crystals.

Dr. Emoto published these results in a photograph collection book titled “Message from Water 1” (1999). He reported that the combination of non-resonating vibrations can result in destructive energy and nothing can be created from it. When vibrations resonate with each other, it always creates a beautiful design, thus most of the earth is covered with beautiful nature. He first observed this phenomenon when he froze the water from pristine rivers and lakes from the country side and compared it to frozen city water. He was able to see beautiful crystals from water from the country, but nothing formed from the city water. He took photographs of the water crystals that were formed by water from different places and found similar patterns.

 

He further tested his theory by examining the shape of crystal created from water that was exposed to kind and beautiful words, like “I like you” and “I love you” and compared them to water that was exposed to hostile and ugly words. For each of these experiments, he used water that was distilled twice for hospital use to eliminate any chance of pre-existing conditions. The results were astonishing.

Although Dr. Emoto’s findings are considered pseudoscience and none of his claims were scientifically proven, the notion that beautiful sound waves (and thoughts as energy waves) could be absorbed into water and create resonance that results in a beautiful water crystal is romantic. If you imagine that infinite number of combination of waves absorbed into water molecules, creating an unique resonance signature in a particular space, at a particular time, it makes sense that we never see two identical snow crystals.

The implication of this idea is intriguing if you remember that the adult human body is approximately 70% water (90% for infant babies). We are constantly surrounded by waves of sound, light and colors, smell, heat, and energy, which are all vibrations creating resonance within us.
Our thoughts and emotions are constantly affected by these waves and we create our own cocktails of energy waves that affect others around us. You know your mood affect your family and people you work closely with, but your thoughts affect them just as much.

 

When we listen to a truly moving performance by an artist who can emote such an overwhelming feeling beyond her technical deliberation, we get emotional and our eyes well up with tear. Is that resonance we are feeling inside? We also know that when you share a happy occasion with other people, it increases the happiness you are feeling but also make others happy too. The happy energy oscillate with greater amplitude when resonance is created among the people who are sharing that moment with the same frequency. Happiness is contagious because it resonates. We experience resonance all the time. Perhaps, Dr. Emoto’s claim is not that far fetched.

Come to Ormsby Hill and immerse yourself in untainted vibes of Vermont!

 

In pursuit of the best resonance…

Yoshio

Snow Rider

February 16th, 2015

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Early season at Stratton Mountain, I caught up with a Ski School instructor on the chair lift to the summit. We’ve already had one snow storm in November, which dumped 13 inches of snow on the mountains, so the slopes looked ready. Prior to that, the day time temperature was cold enough that they were running the snow guns all day and all night to prepare for the 2014/2015 season opening day.

 

Unfortunately for me, when nature decides to snow that much, there is too much to do around the inn that prohibits me from entertaining the idea of catching the fresh powder. I shovel snow around the front entrance, back door, the guest room entrance and deck. I take snow off the front entry roof so that icicles will not grow there. I try to rake some snow off the hedges so that they will not be crushed by the weight of frozen snow. If there are any icy spots on the parking lot, I will spread some ice melt. It is a full day of work to dig out of a big snow day.

 

By the time I got to Stratton on Monday, a couple of 40s warm days have melted most of the snow. By Thursday, the temperature was down to the low 20s again; however, this deadly combination of temperature fluctuations made the trail surface extremely hard and icy. Not too many people come out in such conditions, so the top half of the mountain never got enough traffic to have the shave-offs that provided any hope of grip.
I went down carefully with ample amount of cushion left in my knees to react to suddenly slipping edges. Low temperature and icy surfaces meant that there was a very little friction between the board and hard snow. Controlling my speed and carefully measuring the amount of unexpected movements underneath my board, I tried to remain in control over such an unforgiving condition. It is no time to learn new skills as the consequence of anything other than perfect execution is a hard fall, usually accompanied by pain.

So, when I find myself riding the chair lift with a Ski School instructor, I wanted to ask if there are any tips for skiing in conditions like this . After a casual exchange of “Hi”s and “How are you”s, I started talking about how bad the conditions are. He told me that he has been a ski instructor for thirty some years. He used to work at Jay Peak near the Canadian border, but moved to Stratton because he wanted to get a new certification. There is a panel of judges who decide you are worthy of a certain level of certification and there are seven such judges in the Stratton area, but there are none up there. So he moved down to Stratton so that he can find out what’s in the minds of these judges and become familiar with the way they think of skiing.

 

I never knew such a level of ski certification existed. Apparently, at that level of skiing mastery, it is not about technical skills and much more comes into play. It reminded me of the documentary movie about the Master Sommlier examination. There are now 135 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier in North America. There are 211 Master Sommeliers worldwide since the first successful Master Sommelier examination was held in the United Kingdom by the Court of Master Sommelier in 1969. This movie gives a glimpse of what it takes to pass the nearly impossible Master Sommelier examination. Check out the movie “Somm” at the NETFLIX documentary section.

 

Back to snowboarding… As I practice the familiar lines on the Black Diamond trails every week, I figured out that the difference between a good run and not so good run is purely your attitude. You have the skills and technique to negotiate the slope. The steepness of incline is such that the harder you try to control, the more chances you have of losing control. When the unexpected surprises you, your attitude changes. Fear takes over, doubt seeps in and confidence dwindles. Then, it’s over. Instead, you should trust your ability and let your body spontaneously react to whatever is happening underneath. Seek less control and minimize resistance. After all, it is a controlled fall. You are falling undeniably, while balancing to stay up. Respect what gravity is doing to you, and don’t just insist on what you are doing to it.

 

 

So when I met the ski instructor of 30 some years, who moved to Stratton to prepare for the next level of certification, who is skiing in these impossible conditions, I wanted to ask what revelation he had on skiing. He told me about his friend. They grew up together and they were in the same development program when they were teenagers. His friend went onto competitive skiing and achieved much success. He is in his mid 50s now and they still see each other once or twice a year. “You know what…”, he says. “Every time I see him, he starts out by saying, “I am working on a new move…”

 

Come to Ormsby Hill and peek into the minds of Masters…

 

In pursuit of the best snowboarding move…

Yoshio

Looking for Mr. Kind

December 8th, 2014

 

Hi Everyone,

 

“I’m going to be a kinder person today!” That is what I told myself as I walked to the subway station in the morning. Why? Because if I did not remind myself that I should be a kind person, my body would be on automatic pilot to get me to my work as efficiently as possible without any divergence of any kind. In a crowded subway station in Tokyo, with hundreds of people commuting to work with a clock-like precision, one needs the help of auto-pilot.

Navigating through the stairs, escalators, subway station corridors, traffic lights and elevators, I move without thinking. If I deviate from my morning routine, I wouldn’t know what that would do to my estimated arrival time. If I arrived at my office building 5 minutes late, a line would form in front of the elevators allowing only so many people to enter into the elevator hall to fill the just-arrived elevator box. You are so focused on moving efficiently and avoiding any collision, you block out any other input that has no effect on your efficient commute. Sometimes I see a woman losing her shoe on the stairs, or an umbrella dropping out of man’s brief case, but I don’t stop to pick it up because…. you know, I need to stay in the formation. There are at least 50 people between me and that person and somebody else will pick it up and bring it to the Lost and Found. It doesn’t have to be me, I have to get to work on time. I cannot miss my 9:00am conference call. And so forth.

One day, I was being purged out of the subway car as the door opened and my eyes were automatically searching for the most efficient route to get to the exit. In a corner of my eye, I saw a woman getting sick and squatting on the platform. Should I stop and ask if she needs a help? But I am already past her and to go back against the waves of people would be a total disruption to this orderly flow of subway commuting. The sea of people has already washed me away from her and I am further and further away, almost at the top of the stairs.

 

Then, I changed my mind and decided to go back and ask her if she needed any help. By the time I got to her, some older lady had already reached out to her. Relieved, I turned around and headed to my work, re-experiencing this incident over and over again in my mind. Why did I not stop and turn around the first minute that I saw her? What if her condition was so time sensitive that a few minutes delay would have caused an irreversible consequence? I felt that I needed to make myself react more quickly and not allow my auto-pilot to override what I was feeling. I had to remind myself to be kind.

 

So began my experiment to be a kinder person. The first test subject was the old man at the subway station Kiosk where I bought my newspaper every morning. This particular Kiosk was located in the center section of the platform and carried all your commuting essentials, i.e. 3 major newspapers, Nikkei business newspaper, 3 sports papers, a dozen weekly magazines, candies, snacks, soft drinks, disposable umbrellas and even men’s ties and ladies stockings. The inventory is all within his reach, yet the typical protocol is for the purchaser to pick up the desired item from the shelf and bring it in front of the Kiosk person along with his payment. The Kiosk person never touches the goods. Over the years, the efficiency of Japanese subway Kiosk buying behavior has been elevated to a level surpassing a vending machine. The speed at which the transaction needs to be completed during the busy hours has eliminated any unnecessary movements and exchange of words.

 

As the Kiosk became a human vending machine, I noticed that no one said “good morning” to the Kiosk person. So I decided to say “Good morning!” to him every day to see if my unexpected opening will awaken his human side. If I am kind to him, maybe I can pull him out of this efficient automatic response mode and make him smile. I say “Good morning!” and put my coins down. He has already identified my face and the kind of newspaper I’m going to purchase, thus narrowed down the combination of change that I might require. A second later, he hands out the exact change, fulfilling the Kiosk person function perfectly, but absolutely no response to my friendly greeting. He does not even look at me. Next day, I say “Good morning!” and put my coins down. Exact change comes back lightening fast, but no eye contact. I did that for 5 days straight and never got any response back from him. He is tough. Not all acts of kindness are acknowledged.

 

The next experiment was to adjust my behavior by being conscious about my intention to be kind. If I remind myself to be a kinder person every morning on my way to the subway station, I may notice all those chances to be kind, which I was previously screening out. I decided to turn off the auto-pilot and let myself react more spontaneously.
This worked really well. Immediately I started to notice people dropping things, getting lost, looking for help all around me. This phenomenon extended beyond my commuting time and into the weekend so that I was helping the biker get his big motorcycle up on an icy road in early spring, catching the sliding snowboard that fell from the rack with the owner nowhere to be seen, shutting off the water faucet in the cafeteria when a hastily leaving person did not shut it off completely, helping an old man who collapsed on the street, babbling stories that were in cohesive, and so on.

 

The city is full of incidents that a small random act of kindness can help someone or something to make it better. You probably saw them before, but you somehow screened out most of them. Now that I opened my eyes to any situation that my random act of kindness could participate in, I was catching at least one opportunity everyday. Then, my friends started to notice what I was doing. They were kidding me at first, but pretty soon, they too were starting to see these opportunities to be just a little kinder. Wow, being kind can be contagious.

 

Our subconscious mind is so capable of navigating the daily routine on auto-pilot, but by doing so, it screens out all those seemingly unnecessary stimuli to the point your life almost feels repetitive and boring. You now have to seek out other artificial stimulation to sprinkle your life with excitement. You shop, you travel and you game. Why not open yourself to kindness and you discover that there are so many things you can do. Best of all, when you find yourself being spontaneously kind in a random situation, it makes you feel good. It makes you happy.

 

Come to Ormsby Hill and turn off your auto-pilot. You might bump into kindness you thought you never had…

 

In pursuit of a kinder me…

Yoshio