Final Concert of the 2016/17 Season


The final concert of the Phoenix Symphony 2016/17 season that Elizabeth and I will be able to attend (we will be away from the country starting in late May) was a great success. Two-thirds of it anyway.

The most successful part was Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. It was greeted by a thunderous applause and a standing ovation the crowd gave the Korean-born pianist Sung Chang after his performance.

Make that two standing ovations. After the second one, he played an encore – Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca” – yes, the very first piece I played the other day on my Steinway to welcome it to its new desert home. Only Chang changed it in parts to make it sound like Gershwin music. So you could say we heard Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca alla Gershwin” last night. ūüôā

This magnificent piano piece, which tests the mettle of even the most accomplished pianists, was originally conceived in 1830 when Liszt was only 19. Lest we forget, Liszt was regarded as the greatest pianist of his time, some think possibly the best in history of music.

Liszt seems to have completed the his first piano concerto in 1849, yet made further adjustments in 1853. It was first performed at Weimar (Germany) in 1855, with the composer at the piano and Hector Berlioz conducting. Right from the start, it was a smashing success as it was last night.

Liszt’s concerto was sandwiched in last night’s program between the two Russian composers – Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.

The concert opened with another a orchestral piece by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy. The orchestration and nuisances of this music are so rich that they have been used in many movies. Here are just some of them:

Columbo, Kim Possible, The Jazz Singer (1927), Wayne’s World, Animaniacs, Freakazoid, Pinky and the Brain, Road Rovers, Taz-Mania, Tiny Toons, Scrubs, Seeing Double, The Ren and Stimpy Show, South Park, Clueless, A Christmas Story, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Moonraker, SpongeBob SquarePants, Pushing Daisies, Sesame Street, El Chavo, The Three Musketeers, among others.

The third piece on last night’s program was Stravinsky’s “Petrushka.” Like most of the 20th century music, it did not do anything for me, even though it was a very difficult and intricate piece for an orchestra to perform. After the performance, Elizabeth told me she felt the same way.

Which is why I said that last night’s concert was a great success 2/3 of the way.

PS: Elizabeth is wearing a dress she bought at Bloomingdale’s in New York last week.

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UPDATE APR 30, 2017


Last night, Elizabeth and I attended a wonderful performance of the Phoenix Symphony at the downtown Symphony Hall.

Today, around noon, we did something we rarely do. We treated ourselves to a delicious brunch at the newly opened Eg N’ Joe breakfast-lunch restaurant in our neighborhood (

Elizabeth had something I have never seen her eat before – a “German pancake.” It is an oven-roasted creation in the shape of a big bowl with various fruity treats inside (strawberries in her case). I had blackberry crepes, which were also delicious.

Well, after that, we needed to do something aggressive to try to work off the extra calories. So we hit the Tom’s Thumb trail on the north side of the McDowell Mtns. It was only the second time Elizabeth has attempted that steep and slippery hike. And she did great. She made it to the 3,100 ft elevation. And back to the trailhead, of course.



Today, I did my annual Good Friday pilgrimage on Calvary Hill Arizona.  It is a 6-mile hike with an elevation difference of 1,600 feet, plus another 6-mile bike ride (see the map).

It took me 3 hours to do this bike-hike–bike round trip¬†pilgrimage¬†from my Scottsdale home. ¬†The temperatures were in the upper 80s, which is normal for this time of the year. ¬†But for some reason I felt quite tired at the end. ¬†It must be that darn desert pollen this year and the allergies that it is causing.

Anyway, I paid my respects to Yeshua as I do on every Good Friday.

“This is my church service,” I explained later on to my son-in-law who is visiting here from Vienna, Austria, with my daughter and their¬†four children this Easter week.

Four years ago on Good Friday, Master Sananda (Yeshua, Jesus) took me to a place in the McDowell Mountains above Scottsdale that resembled the Calvary Hill in Jerusalem on which he was crucified two millennia ago.  And he left for me to find there some very special sacraments (see my 2013 Desert Quest (PDF))

Ever since that Good Friday 2013, I have been returning to this holy place in the Arizona desert whenever I needed Yeshua’s¬†counsel and guidance. Over time, I identified on this rough mountain trail the 14 stations of the cross. In the fall 2013, I even created the music I¬†play while on this pilgrimage. ¬†It is timed to coincide thematically and geographically with each Station of the Cross.


On my way down, I also stopped and prayed at this beautiful Pachamama rock that resembles a Native American shaman with a buffalo spirit inside. I discovered it originally in 2008, just under the Calvary Hill summit.

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Elizabeth and I just got back from a drive to the west side of Phoenix where we got a Cinco de Mayo cake at the Rancho Mercado, a wonderful Mexican store. (no, this is not our actual cake but it gives you an idea).

The main event, however, happened when we got back in the I-17 to drive back home. The temperature gauge on our car read 111F. Yes, I kid you not – 111F (44C) in early May!

Even for an old desert rat like myself, this is some kind of a record. I have never seen temperatures this high in the Phoenix area for Cinco de Mayo. Even back home in North Scottsdale, the temperature was 107F (42C).

By the way, Cinco De Mayo is a Mexican holiday which commemorates the Mexican Army’s surprising victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862. But here in the southwestern United States, it is yet another excuse to party, drink and sing and be merry.

So Happy Cinco de Mayo!



Yeah! I have finally returned to my favorite trails in the McDowell Mountains above Scottsdale – the Calvary Hill Arizona.

This is a 6-mile hike with an elevation difference of 1,600 feet that emulates the Calvary Hill in Jerusalem, including the 14 stations of the cross. The summit is at the exact same elevation Р2,500 feet. All this was revealed to me by Master Yeshua at Easter 2013 during my 2013 Desert Quest (bob-bike-5-12-133check out my 2013 Desert Quest (PDF) and Calvary Hill Arizona-Sept 2013). Here’s also a map of my that trail.

When I reached the summit, I played two tunes on my flute for the Mountain Spirits and the Santa Tierras (land fairies): Amazing Grace and El Condor Pasa. Here are my earlier recordings of these famous tunes:

Amazing Grace by ALTZAR – Calvary Hill Arizona –¬†

El Condor Pasa in Boynton Canyon, Sedona, Arizona –¬†

And then I sent my love to the Santa Tierras at the Rainbow Shower who I know have been missing my music and attention.

So what took me so long to return? (I have been in Arizona over a month now).

Well, during my last days of working at the Rainbow Shower in Maui, I sustained an injury to my right knee tendons that hampered my walking. And the only thing you can do with tendon injuries is give them time to heal. So instead of hiking, during the last month I have been swimming laps every morning, gong on bike rides 2-3 times a week, and taking short walks around our neighborhood.

So today was the¬†first serious “road test” for me knee. And knock on wood, I am still walking on it. ūüôā

The temperature was in the mid 80s and the vistas beautiful. So I brought some home with me so I can share them also with you all.

On my way down, I also stopped and prayed at this beautiful Pachamama rock that resembles a Native American shaman with a buffalo spirit inside. I discovered it originally in 2008, just under the Calvary Hill summit.

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UPDATE NOV 11, 2016


How was your Veterans Day? (Remembrance Day in Europe and elsewhere – the end of World War I in 1918).


Mine started in dreamtime during the night. I had a dream in which people wearing a camouflage hat I have had for years (at least 8, maybe 10). In my dream, the hat¬†symbolized a “peaceful warrior.” It was part of the outfit¬†members of the new Trump Army wore. The hat features a stylized star with a diamond inset, symbolizing the sun.

You can see here at¬†sunset this evening, along with a view of the American flags at my Eagle’s Nest home in Scottsdale.


Earlier in the day, I drove in my El Jeepo to Cave Creek to try to buy some cheap household items I need now that Elizabeth has moved all of her kitchen stuff out. The lady at the counter of the Kiwanis second hand store looked at me and asked, “are you military?”¬†I was wearing my “peaceful warrior hat and an American flag scarf¬†around my neck.

“No,” I replied smiling.

“Not in this lifetime,” I whispered to myself. I was pretty much finished with my warrior lifetimes by the start of 19th century. But that’s not something I would want to share at the checkout counter of a second hand store in Cave Creek, Arizona.

“Not unless you count working for¬†10 years as a war correspondent?” I wanted to say. But I didn’t. The items I was buying were cheap enough as it is.

“Just out of curiosity,” I said, “why did you ask me if I was military. Are you offering some special discounts to veterans on this day?”

“Yes, 50% off,” the lady replied.

“That’s great,” I said. “It’s a nice special tribute to our military.”¬†An older man behind me was also smiling approvingly.


By the time I got back home, I already had my own special tribute planned out. I was going to hike the Pinnacle Peak for the first time since coming back to Arizona a month and a half ago. And to do that, I was going to take my El Jeepo to the trailhead for the first time.

The hike itself was easy and uneventful. I have done it a number of times before in various temperatures ranging from freezing to 110F.  Most people I had met smiled at me and said something nice. As I did to them.

Along the way, I also said my prayers. Including the pledge that I dedicate this hike to all the veterans around the world who fought in all noble causes and were willing to sacrifice their lives for them.

Here are some picture I brought back from the trail:


When I got back down to the parking lot where I had left El Jeepo before starting my hike, I saw a young man sort of hovering around it. He was snapping pictures of El Jeepo with his camera.

“Isn’t this a cool car?” he said when he noticed me watching him.

“Glad you think so,” I said. “It’s mine.”

“Would mind now taking a picture of me, too, with my Jeep?”

And so he did.


“I call it El Jeepo,” I explained.

The man cracked up. “That is so cool,” he said, laughing out loud.

It turns out he was the owner of that red motorcycle you can see in the above picture to the left of the two Saguaros.


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UPDATE NOV 19, 2016


One reason this 4,000-ft peak on the McDowell Mountains above Scottsdale is called Tom’s Thumb is – you guessed it – it sticks out like a sore thumb over this¬†mountain skyline. ūüôā Take a look.

I don’t know why, but today I felt compelled to go back to this trail. Maybe it’s because they are calling for a rare rain here in the Arizona desert tomorrow and the next few days.

Anyway, Tom’s Thumb is¬†the hardest of all the hikes in my North Scottsdale neighborhood. The trail itself is actually quite nice, fine gravel, almost sand in places. – by contrast to the Calvary Hill Arizona trail, for example, ¬†which is very rough, big rocks and stones everywhere.

But is is quite steep. Which means, your heart and lungs work overtime on the way up, and your feet, thighs and joints on the way down.  Often slipping and sliding. Ergo, my baseball shoes with cleats.

My baseball shoes with cleats and bright orange socks attracted a lot of attention on the trail, “like traffic signs,” I used to joke when people would comment about them. ūüôā

It was a beautiful afternoon and a great hike with wonderful panoramic views, especially to the north and to the east. Take a look…









Sedona header 6-04-15


Today, Aug 22, I recorded a video message as my farewell to Arizona from this long, hot summer.Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 1.40.38 PM

On Monday, I fly back to Maui. Elizabeth is staying on longer to spend more time with her kids and grandkids.

So without further ado, here’s the message…

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Bob 2015-08-22 at 11.12.45 AM IMG_4340 IMG_4341 Bob 2015-08-22 at 11.12.19 AM

UPDATE AUG 23, 2015…

Pinnacle Peak Рfrom the ground up

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Pinnacle Peak header

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Tamaya_Panorama 8-11-15


Everybody knows that Phoenix is a desert city.  But not everybody realizes that Phoenix is also a cultural desert in summertime.  I have not spent a full summer here since 2007.  So I had forgotten how the desert heat dries out the soul and not just the body. I can take the heat but not a life without music and arts.

Enter Santa Fe opera. Elizabeth and I have been to many of the world’s most famous operatic and concert venues. But we had¬†never attended a performance at Santa Fe opera. ¬†Ergo, Richard Strauss’ “Salome” on Tuesday night was the primary reason for this trip.

Of course, as always, many other interesting, and at times exciting, things happened as well. So read on…

Aug 10-11 (AM), 2015 – Part 1: PETRIFIED FOREST, TAMAYA RESORT

On our drive from Scottsdale to Albuquerque, New Mexico, we stopped at a rock shop in Holbrook and the Petrified Forest National Park.

The last time we were there was in Oct 2013. All national parks were closed while our Washington leeches argued with each other about who would get a bigger slice of the loot they call income tax.

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Anyway, the weather was overcast which made for a pleasant drive even if that meant the petrified wood colors weren’t the brightest.


After having dinner in Albuquerque, we got to the Tamaya Resort just before sunset.¬†This was my third and Elizabeth’s second visit to this delightful place, hidden¬†in the desert, about 30 miles northwest of Albuquerque.

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The next morning, we went for our usual walk through the beautiful Sycamore forest that brackets both banks of Rio Grande.

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Everything was fine until I pointed out to Elizabeth the trail marks that a snake leaves in the dust. From there on, she was on pins and needles. And not in vain.

Because soon afterward, Elizabeth was the first one to spot about a 4-ft snake crossing the trail right in front of us. She ran back while I tried to nudge the snake to complete the crossing. Tamaya NM map

“Don’t worry, this is not a rattlesnake,” I told Elizabeth who hid behind me as we were passing¬†the spot where the snake had been moments earlier.

The posted signs warned of rattlesnakes in the area. Which is probably what contributed to Elizabeth being spooked so much. ¬†I figure this was probably a Bull snake. They range from 48 to 72 inches in length and are active during the day. ¬†They feed on¬†rodents not humans. ¬†So the two of us would have been a little to much even for this Bull to swallow. ūüôā

But in a battle between reason and fear, the former will almost always lose.  So we spent the rest of our walk with Elizabeth jumping up and down over every sound in the bush, and even a little rabbit.

Rio Grande_Panorama8-11-15

As a result, I ¬†had a hard time talking Elizabeth into posing here near the famous Rio Grande river. She kept looking over her shoulders as if a snake would morph into a giant dinosaur and jump out grab¬†her from behind. ūüôā

So I don’t know how she managed that angelic smile. Must be an actress lurking behind the facade of an artist. ūüôā

The mountain in the background is also famous. Its name is Sandia. Which means Watermelon in Spanish. Guess that’s the color the mountain¬†sometimes takes on at sunset. ¬†Such as in this file photo…


Before we left Tamaya, I purchased this beautiful butterfly sculpture (below left). It¬†now joins the three other butterflies at our home, the Eagle’s Nest in Scottsdale, which flew in there in December 2013.

Butterflies 8-11-15


Also see…





Today, July 4, Independence Day #239, I returned to Tom’s Thumb trail. This time, I came equipped wearing¬†football boots with cleats. ¬†The trail is quite steep and slippery in some places because of loose gravel. ¬†The cleats made a world of difference (also see St Vitus Day on Tom’s Thumb trail).

This time, I made it all the way up to the saddle of McDowell Mtns, elevation 3,700 ft, roughly the same as the foot of Tom’s Thumb. ¬†From there, I can have about 270-degree vistas. The panorama shot above depicts about a 225-degree view from the saddle.

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Along the way, I said similar prayers to those on St Vitus Day , less than  a week ago (see below).

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On my way down, however, I was surprised by a Hummingbird. It was the first time ever that I have seen a Hummingbird on this trail, and never at this elevation (about 3,500 ft).

And then I realized why. Here’s the post I had made this morning about the Fourth of July and the Hummingbirds:


Independence Day 2015. Only in words. Because we are no longer independent. We only have different oppressors now from those 239 years ago. Our new rulers have usurped our government and turned it against the American people.eagle-crest

All the while, we have had the Eagle, a symbol of freedom, as our idol, both in our crest and in our hearts. And just look where it got us.

So on this Independence Day 2015, how about we turn a new leaf, adopt a new idol, one which, like the eagle, symbolizes freedom and courage, but also beauty, grace and love: The Hummingbird.

Hummingbird US crestThe Hummingbird’s purpose in life is to travel great distances spreading love and life itself. So it stands for endurance and gentility. The Hummingbird never harms anyone. So it also stands for peace.

Would’t that be a marvelous new role model for America?

Just think of how far we could get as a nation if we were to travel around the world doing good, spreading love and life?

The sky would be the limit. No. We could go right around the universe and back.

And now, while you contemplate that, here are some Hummingbird images for this Fourth of July.

Rainbow Hummingbird 2 Hummingbird and flower Bee Hummingbird Rainbow Hummingbird 1


‘You’ll have to keep coming back and dying countless times until you also learn it was all for naught.”

Along the way, I kept saying prayers for the souls of all IMG_4213participants in the American revolution.

“You all gave your lives¬†in pursuit of¬†glory and honor, or for domination of one over another,” I said. “As I had also done countless times in my past lifetimes. But now those of you who have ascended know¬†it was for naught. We were all all just actors in a play without beginning or end. Until we learn to write our own ending – in love¬†and light not blood.”

“So I salute¬†all those who realize that today, ¬†And to those who are still trying to get the upper hand battling one¬†another, I say, ‘I also pray for you to learn sooner rather than later:¬†that¬†you’ll have to keep coming back and dying countless times until you also learn it was all for naught’.”

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Here’s what our home in Scottsdale looked like, front and back, on the Fourth of July…

During a family barbecue this afternoon, I blurted it out without thinking that this was the first time in 8 years that¬†we had spent the Fourth in Scottsdale. Upon checking my diary and the travelogues, by golly, that was true. It has been that long. We have missed out on a lot of good old Arizona desert heat. ūüôā

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Today, June 28, is a very special day in history (JUNE 28, ST VITUS DAY… A MOMENTOUS DATE IN HISTORY).  So this afternoon, while Elizabeth took her kids and grandkids to a circus in downtown Phoenix, I headed up to McDowell Mtns over Scottsdale.

This time, I went to the backside mountains (east), where the trailhead for a pretty arduous hike to Tom’s Thumb begins (see¬†CLIMBING UP TO TOM‚ÄôS THUMB,¬†EASTER UNDER TOM‚ÄôS THUMB, EASTER PARTY,¬†

The weather was good but hot. The temps ranged from 105F to 108F, higher at lower elevations.

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I made it to just under the Thumb, elevation 3,500 ft, before deciding to turn back. I wanted to make sure I had enough left in my gas tank to get back down to the trailhead. Take a look at how small Pinnacle Peak looks from this vantage point, and then compare to the shots from ground up the last time I climbed it (below).

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‘You’ll have to keep coming back and dying countless times until you also learn it was all for naught.”

Along the way, I kept saying prayers for the souls of all IMG_4197participants in the Battle of Kosovo, and all those hundreds of millions who have died in various senseless wars during the last 626 years.

“You all gave your lives¬†in pursuit of¬†glory and honor, or for domination of one over another,” I said. “As I had also done countless times in my past lifetimes. But now those of you who have ascended know¬†it was for naught. We were all all just actors in a play without beginning or end. Until we learn to write our own ending – in love¬†and light not blood.”

“So I salute¬†all those who realize that today, ¬†And to those who are still trying to get the upper hand battling one¬†another, I say, ‘I also pray for you to learn sooner rather than later:¬†that¬†you’ll have to keep coming back and dying countless times until you also learn it was all for naught’.”

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Pinnacle Peak Рfrom the ground up

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Pinnacle Peak header

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