Thursday, November 26, 2015


As a kid I had asthma and got sick all the time.  Then I took up tennis and played competitively through college.  After graduating, I kept exercising regularly and adapted to social tennis on a periodic basis.  Then I discovered platform tennis, and after being diagnosed with arthritis in my left hip, I converted over to platform tennis as my favorite sport. Now that we’ve moved to Southern California, I’m playing pickleball.

As I got older, I became more religious about getting a workout.  I do something every day.  Sure, I miss once in awhile, but it’s about the same order-of-magnitude as days where I miss a meal or a night’s sleep.

Why be so fanatical about exercise?  Because it keeps me healthy in body and mind.

When not playing racquet/paddle sports, I enjoy walking. And once in a while I play golf, but I’m not into extreme and extended workouts. 

Everyone needs to find what works for them regarding frequency, duration and type of exercise. 

I’m more healthy now than when I was a kid.   A regular workout also helps keep me loose and prevents the arthritis from getting worse.  And on Thanksgiving after I've exercised, I don't have to worry about eating a large meal.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Reading is something I look forward to as a reward when I get my writing, errands and other activities completed.  After a hard day, curling up with a good novel before going to sleep seems to complete the day. 

I read both fiction and non-fiction with at least one of each going at any time.  Non-fiction is for reading in the living room and fiction in the bedroom.

I used to read late into the night, but now I often get sleepy after a few pages and fall asleep.  This can also happen when I’m in my easy chair and I doze off in the middle of a page.

Some is physical in that I’m tired at the end of a busy day.  Some is the material.  A really exciting novel keeps me awake if I’m not completely exhausted.

In the last fifteen years I’ve been listening to audio books when driving in the car by myself.  I “read” about fifteen books a year this way.  I primarily listen to fiction and find it a very effective way to pass the time such as when in a traffic jam.  Rather than fidgeting, I can enjoy the hunt for a murderer, spy or kidnapped heiress.   And now I don’t get upset when driving behind people who don’t move when the light changes, who disrupt traffic while talking on cell phones or who block a lane when they should be merging.  Rather than getting impatient, I now sit back, relax and listen to the novel.  Hey, if it takes me longer to get to my destination, then I have more time to enjoy the story.

That’s much more sensible than wanting to take my aggressions out on other drivers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Memories of My Dad on This Veterans Day

On this Veterans Day, my thoughts turn to my father. My dad, Murray Befeler, was born in New York on November 24, 1913.  He grew up first on a farm in upper New York and then in Brooklyn, the youngest of seven children.  His mother died when he was about seven and his father remarried.  He dropped out of school in about the tenth grade and lived for awhile with his brother, my Uncle Jack and his wife, my Aunt Miriam.

I never knew much about his childhood as he would never talk about it nor his Jewish heritage.  I only met my uncle and aunt in 1965 when I visited them in Brooklyn on my way back from Europe.  Later when I was in Poughkeepsie for a training class with IBM, I took the train to New York City for a visit.  Uncle Jack and Aunt  Miriam came to visit us in Long Beach in the early seventies.  I also went to Uncle Jack’s funeral in about 1983.

My dad became a photographer and moved as far away from his family as he could, first to San Francisco and then to Honolulu.  My dad had a very difficult childhood according to Uncle Jack, but I never learned any particulars.

In 1942 Murray was credited as a base correspondent through the Navy Department and served as the Honolulu bureau chief for the still photography pool and in 1943 was assigned to the army. He had his home-base in the Star Bulletin building on Bethel Street.  During the invasion of Iwo Jima my dad played a key role in the history of Joe Rosenthal’s famous flag raising photograph.   While on Guam he often sent home money he earned by staying sober during the intense nightly poker games played by the war correspondents. 

After the war was over, he started his own business, Photo Hawaii, which he ran until his death. .

In 1954 my dad went to the Pacific to do a ten-year-after-the-war photo shoot. When he returned he had a heart attack, the result of a weakened heart from having rheumatic fever as a child.  From that time on he came home in the afternoons to rest.  He was an early riser and worked mornings and often had jobs in the evening as well.  He did a lot of work for United Air Lines, Matson and the Hawaii Visitors Bureau.  He often covered arrivals of important people at the Honolulu airport.  He once took pictures of the Truman family and got a thank you letter from Margaret Truman.  He later did a lot of aerial shots of Honolulu from a helicopter.

In 1968 he had another heart attack and couldn’t come to our wedding when my wife and I were married.  He died in August of 1968.  At his funeral a huge crowd turned out to pay him tribute.  I flew his ashes out to sea in a helicopter and dropped them into the Pacific.

My dad always wanted the best for me. Because of his heart condition, he couldn’t play sports, but he watched me play tennis.  He paid my way through Stanford, but then said that was enough education, so I was on my own for my MBA.

He had very high ethical standards.  He was honest and told the truth.  One time when someone telephoned whom he didn’t want to talk to, he said to tell them he was out and he went into the yard.

He tended to be outspoken and said what he believed.

He was extremely intelligent, even though he had little formal education.  He told puns such as when viewing a lava flow saying, “isn’t that lavaly.”

My dad was a creative photographer, and I’m looking at some of his pictures on the wall as I’m writing. Last night I watched a program on PBS about Iwo Jima. I took out a book I had saved titled Immortal Images by Tedd Thomey. It quoted Joe Rosenthal about the famous flag raising photograph: “If the fact that I took this picture is important, then I deem it important to recognize the part played in the handling of it by many people. At Guam the picture-pool coordinator, Murray Befeler, had to see that my films were processed. The darkroom men had to do their job well to get good negative results. The censor had to pass the picture and Murray had to decide it was good enough to be scheduled via radiophoto, or it would have been passed over and been nothing but a piece of film.”

Thursday, November 5, 2015


A lot of my writing is about older people. Now I am becoming one of them. Throughout my life at various times, I have worried about dying.  When I was a child, fear of death kept me awake at nights. 

We all want to live a long life, but after my mom and step-dad died in the same year, I had thought more about quality-of-life versus length of life.  Both of them died in their sleep, which is the best way to go, but they had both reached a point where they were no longer enjoying being alive.

After seeing my wife’s mother struggle and finally succumb to lung cancer, it’s obvious I’d prefer to die in my sleep rather than suffer through a painful illness.

We always feel sad when someone dies young, robbed of a full life.  But it’s equally sad to see someone in a vegetative state in a nursing home who is still alive but without any mental capabilities left.

My wife and I used to joke about getting hit by a bolt of lightning together when we were eighty.  Now eighty doesn’t seem that far away anymore.

People my age think about the financial aspects of how long we will live.  Do we have enough money if we live to eighty, ninety or one hundred?  What if special care is required?

This is the crap-shoot of the aging process.  We don’t know how long we’ll last, what condition we’ll be in and what quality-of-life we can maintain.

So death remains the inevitable outcome with the uncertainty of how and when.

The old adage of living each day as if it were the last still applies.  “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”  Life is a precious gift and I need to stop, “smell the roses” and appreciate what I’ve got.  With death as “the great equalizer,” life still remains our own special opportunity to live, love, give and be present.