The Daily Explorer

February 11, 2008

In Memory of Alan Gray

London: February 2008

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A very warm ‘welcome’ to all of our readers! This is our first issue of The Daily Explorer in 2008, and it is compiled for us by our wonderful USA guest correspondent, Nick Elandimer (above). We have chosen to dedicate this issue to Alan Gray, who died suddenly on Christmas Day. Alan was a very special man and will be greatly missed by his family and friends. Towards the end of this issue, you can read more about the wake that was held for him as Ray returned to London at the end of January.

Any comments about this blog are most welcome as we are always keen to hear what you think of the journal we produce for Ray as he moves around the world.  Although Ray is currently in London, he spent Christmas in New York and returned to California for most of January. Nick Elandimer has kindly provided us with news and pictures of Ray’s last few weeks there and gives us an insight into what 2008 has in store for our nomadic traveller.

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Above: Many people will miss Alan Gray, who died on Christmas Day 2007, aged 60. This issue is dedicated to him

I caught up with Ray as he touched down at Heathrow at the end of January, to find out what his Christmas had been like and what he had experienced in his last couple of weeks in California. “Thanks for asking me Nick – you may remember that I had a re-union with a fellow traveller (Michelle) in November last year in San Francisco, having first met her a couple of years ago in Thailand during a retreat in a Buddhist monastery” recalled Ray. “She kindly invited me to spend Christmas week with her and her family on the other side of the country in Long Island, New York” explained Ray.

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Above: Map of the west coast of America – the opposite side of the country to New York where Ray was headed for Christmas with friend Michelle (inset) and her family. Sacramento (circled) is where Ray was returning to after Christmas to re-visit his friends there

“My visa was due to expire at the end of January, triggering my exit from the country, so it seemed a bit strange to be flying from one side of the country to the other, staying a week and then going back” said Ray. “However, I really wanted to go, even though I knew it was going to be freezing cold over that side of the country” added Ray. “I was also fortunate to have met most of Michelle’s family, as her brother lives in San Francisco and her mum had already been over on a visit while I was there, so I had already broken the ice with most of them and they had been very kind to me. It was the second year in a row that I had been invited to a ‘family’ Christmas abroad. In 2006, I spent the week in Perth, Australia with my friend Nikki and her family, so I had an idea of what to expect” he told me.

 

1 In Memory of Alan Gray

Above: Can you guess where this is? Banks of slot machines in the airport terminal building mean it could only really be Las Vegas, where Ray and Michelle had to change planes on their way to New York – “We only had an hour on the ground there, which was not even enough time to enjoy the sunshine outside, the last chance for some time whilst headed for sub-zero New York” said Ray

Most of Michelle’s family had travelled to her mum’s home in Southampton, Long Island for Christmas week. “She has two siblings, her brother Larry who lives relatively near to her in Oakland and her sister Janice, who lives in Boston” explained Ray. Both her siblings have two children each, so we had a pretty full house and Bobbie (Michelle’s mum) had quite a job with keeping everyone fed, which she managed admirably” said a very appreciative Ray.

2 In Memory of Alan Gray

Above: Christmas with the Rosen family in Southampton. From left to right: Larry, Michelle (holding Larry’s daughter Sadie), Janice and son Isaiah and (their mum) Bobbie. Larry and his wife gave birth to their second daughter Lila in November (being held by Isaiah)

Below: Ray and the family were all very relieved that Janice’s son Alden was an expert in making fires, as it was freezing cold outside and he made sure the house was kept at a nice cosy temperature!

3 In Memory of Alan Gray

4 In Memory of Alan Gray

Above: Catering for such a big group can be quite a challenge – “Bobbie was a fantastic host and had quite a job on her hands when it came to meal times each day” said our traveller. “We had some great chats around the table” recalled Ray, “and she is a brilliant cook so we were all pretty spoilt” he added

Below: Christmas Day in the Rosen household follows a well worn ritual – “Everyone gathers together around the Christmas Tree and each person receives one present at a time, until they are all dispensed, which took well over an hour as there were quite a few of them” recalled Ray

5 In Memory of Alan Gray

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Above: Michelle made sure that Ray was included in the celebrations – “She was very thoughtful, placing a present for me by the tree so that I would be able to join in with the proceedings” said Ray

Below: On hearing the news that Ray might be sending his photographs to us for publication in this journal, Isaiah swiftly gave Ray the details of his agent, in case he was fortunate enough to get his picture selected for this issue!

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Whilst Ray was staying in Long Island, one of his clients from England was also spending Christmas week in Manhattan. “When I discovered that Adrian, who has become a good friend, was going to be in town with his wife Katie, I really wanted to meet them” said Ray. “So I arranged to take the ‘Hampton Jitney’ from Southampton for the one and a half hour journey into New York city and meet them for lunch at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel” recalled Ray.

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Above: The Hampton Jitney is incredibly popular with residents of The Hamptons and provides a comfortable, regular and rapid transport service into and out of Manhattan

Below: The famous Waldorf Astoria is a fine example of Art Deco architecture in the Big Apple

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Above: Close to the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue is the Met-Life building – “I remember coming to New York when I was a kid as the building then belonged to Pan Am and helicopters used to ferry the rich and famous from the top to JFK airport outside the city” recalled Ray

Below: Ray (left) enjoys lunch with Katie (centre) and Adrian (right)

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After lunch, there was still time to take in some of Manhattan’s wonderful attractions, so Ray took Adrian and Katie on a whirlwind walking tour. “It was the first time that they had come here so I tried to choose some of the most memorable parts of the city to take them to” said Ray. “Our first stop was the main hall at Grand Central Station, which has been featured in so many movies that I was hoping they would recognise it” he added. “We then continued down Fifth Avenue to Central Park for a visit to the Ice Rink before we parted company and I caught the Jitney back to Southampton” he recalled.

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Above: The magnificent main hall at Grand Central Station on 42nd Street has been used as a location in many movies, such as North by Northwest, The Cotton Club, Superman and The Fisher King

Below: The ice skating rink in Central Park is a New York icon and is always very busy during the Christmas period

 

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Above: Most visitors to New York go for some retail therapy, and where better than Bloomingdales, dressed up in it’s Christmas lights ….

Below: ….. and talking of shopping, much of it was done on-line this year, thanks in part to search engines such as Google. Here, Pamela Anderson helps the company promote the two major reasons that make their search engine the best in the world (left), whilst the model on the right illustrates the originality of the clothes available in many of New York’s boutiques

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Returning to California after seeing in the New Year, I caught up with Ray in Sacramento at the home of his friend Nic Meredith to ask him about his plans for 2008. “Now that I am back here in the relative calmness and serenity of the California countryside, I am going to ponder on the question of what I would really love to experience this year, particularly in the areas of professional work and travel” said Ray. “Having spent the last two years enjoying freedom with virtually no commitments or responsibilities, I think I have the appetite for engaging in some meaningful and challenging work – I always thought I would reach this point so it’s no surprise I feel like it – although I want to make sure that I never revert to a conventional routine and maintain the freedom and mobility to travel at a moments notice as long as I can” added Ray.

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Above: Ray returns to the beauty, serenity and tranquility of the Californian countryside at the home of his friends Nic and Regina Meredith. Nic is pictured here in his favourite 1960’s classic V8 Ford pick-up

As well as launching the Conscious Media Network as on on-line business in 2005, Nic has started another company which helps people condition their Brain State and improves their overall well-being, especially if they are suffering from extreme conditions like addictions or depression. “I was really curious to understand what Brain ‘harmonizing’ was all about” said Ray. “Nic had reported that some people were experiencing great results from their series of treatments, such as increased energy, clarity of thought and a more positive outlook, so I wondered how it might alter my own state if I chose to undergo the treatment myself” added Ray. “Nic offered to run a series of sessions for me to find out, which was very exciting and a great preparation for me as I prepared to think about my aims for the year ahead” he told me.

 

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Above: Nic sets up the computer software for Ray’s Brain State Conditioning treatments

I asked Ray to explain to me how Brain harmonizing works. “Stress has been dubbed the primary 21st century disease and when you consider that in the last 50 years, input to our brains has increased more than 10,000 times per second, it is not hard to see why” explained Ray. “The human brain has simply not evolved rapidly enough to keep pace with our world and all of it’s technological advancements. So in the meantime, we have to find some way of re-balancing it through other means and this set of tools offers a way to harmonize, calm and optimise your brain” added Ray. “Over-stimulation clogs up our neural pathways and makes the brain function less efficiently, and tests on a computer with the right software can actually measure this. The software that Nic uses records the brains electrical activity (via electrodes) to assess which parts are on overdrive and which are so overwhelmed they are no longer functioning properly. Then a programme of brain ‘training protocols’ can be recommended which balances both sides again and eliminates the need for things like coffee, alcohol, drugs and other coping mechanisms” said our well informed patient.

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Above: Ray sits in the special anti gravity chair and relaxes whilst several electrodes are placed on his head. He is wearing earphones so that he can respond to the sounds he is hearing during a number of visualization exercises and task designed to re-balance his brain, based on his personal assessment. One session lasts about an hour and Ray had six sessions in all – “Although you cannot really feel anything as it is happening, it is amazing to see that you can literally move different things on the computer screen by focusing your thoughts on them, suggesting that our brains are far more powerful than we really know” said Ray

Below: The Brain State Technologies software suite is a relatively new breakthrough and is very sophisticated – “Now that I have had the treatments myself, I can really see the power of it and I would not be surprised if a lot more health and well being therapists and practitioners around the world will be using tools like this in the future to compliment their existing knowledge” said Ray. “I think Nic has great vision to see the potential at this early stage” added our global traveller

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So had the Brain Harmonizing treatments had a positive effect on Ray? “Its difficult to say exactly as I did not enter the treatment phase with any particular anxiety or extreme conditions, which are the usual circumstances when someone experiences a significant change in how they are feeling” was his reply. “But I do feel an overall sense of improved well-being, calmness and inner peace and I genuinely believe that these treatments have enhanced that” he told me. “I am now definitely ready to articulate what I would like to create in my life this year” he told me as he eagerly went off for some quiet time.

Whilst in Sacramento, Ray and his friends had heard about a weekly gathering in Oakland at a place called the ‘Love Center’ and had made plans to attend one Sunday morning before Ray’s departure to England. “It is one of those amazing Gospel churches with a charismatic minister and a huge choir of amazing, colourful gospel singers” said Ray as he described it to me. “People who had been there told us that we might feel overwhelmed with love on our arrival as virtually everyone in the 300 strong community wants to personally welcome you and give you a big hug” he recalled. “And that was the case, although I have to say it was a really great feeling to be so included without any conditions at all” he added.

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Above: The Love Center in Oakland is a great place to experience the joy of being alive and is highly recommended by our traveller

Below: The Bishop Walter Hawkins (holding the microphone) and his amazing choir of gospel singers. If you would like to hear what they sound like, watch the short video clip below this picture

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With only a couple of weeks left for Ray to enjoy all that California has to offer in arts and culture, he was invited to attend a local theatre company production of ‘Angels in America’. “I knew there had been a mini series on HBO of the same name, starring Meryl Streep and Al Pacino and it had received very good reviews, so I was quite excited to see the play” Ray told me. Unfortunately, his expectations were not met and it was a disappointment. “It was far too long – well over three hours with two intervals. The play was largely about aids and homosexuality with many different stories weaved together. One of the characters was a married man struggling to come to terms with admitting he was gay, and it dragged on for so long, I felt like I almost wanted to shout out from the audience “Oh for Gods sake, just tell them you are gay and get it over with!” said Ray jokingly. “I never saw the HBO series and I think I will probably give it a miss now, unless any of our readers tell me otherwise” he told me.

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Above: The cast of ‘Angels in America’, which Ray went to see on stage at a small theatre in Sacramento – “I would have been much more upset about going if I’d paid for my ticket” said our less than impressed traveller

Below: As well as going to the theatre, Ray also enjoyed regular trips to the cinema to stay current with the latest film releases – “One particular film just released had special meaning for Nic and myself as it is the first Hollywood movie starring the daughter of two of our friends, and we have known her since she was a baby! The film is called ‘Cassandra’s Dream’ and was written and directed by Woody Allen. It stars Hayley Atwell, Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell and Tom Wilkinson. Hayley’s father Grant lives in California and I was due to meet him for the first time in over 20 years, so I really wanted to see his daughters movie before I caught up with him” added Ray. “Hayley was brilliant in the movie and clearly has a bright future ahead of her”. She is pictured second from the right

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During the last few days of his trip, as he was thinking about the rest of 2008 and what it might hold in store, a chance conversation with friends led to an opportunity for Ray to meet a very experienced Astrologer in Sonoma County. “His name is Walden Welch and he came highly recommended” said Ray. “When I called him, I was initially disappointed to hear that he was fully booked for weeks, but when he called me back with a cancellation, I felt instinctively that it would be great to see him” recalled Ray. So I drove to Sonoma for my meeting with him” added our star gazer.

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Above: Walden’s office is in the beautiful town of Sonoma which is about a one and a half hour drive from Sacramento

Below: Walden provided Ray with a very accurate and insightful view of the life he might expect in 2008 – “He was really encouraging and touched on quite a few topical issues” said a very happy Ray. “One of the things he predicted was a massive increase in the number of Daily Explorer readers” said Ray

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Two days prior to flying out of the country, Ray visited the home of friends Karin Jordan and Michael Banks in San Francisco. “I realised it may be some time before I would be back in this part of the world and I really wanted to say goodbye” he told me. “Karin was making plans for a surprise party for Michael’s birthday at the end of January, so I had to promise not to mention anything to him and safeguard the conspiracy. Sadly, the party was scheduled to take place the day after I left so I couldn’t attend” he recalled.

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Above: Re-united! Ray and Karin in Mill Valley, San Francisco – “Don’t mention the party!” says Karin

Below: Ray and Mike Banks go back a long way – here they are on holiday in Morocco in 1983!

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Re-unions are potentially a source of great pleasure and Ray had managed to locate an ex-colleague, Grant Atwell after an absence of over 20 years. “I found out that Grant was living about an hour south of San Francisco and thought it would be great to see him” Ray told me. “Having seen his daughter in her first movie only days before, it was even more special as I would be able to congratulate him” added Ray. “So Michael and I arranged to have supper with Grant in Mill Valley and we had a marvellous evening, which continued on into the small hours, with both Grant and me staying over at Michael and Karin’s house” recalled Ray.

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Above: It is 24 years since Ray (right) and his ex-colleague Grant (centre) have seen each other. They were joined by Michael (left) for a wonderful evening catching up and putting the world right – “He hasn’t changed much. He looks a little bit older but is in great shape and still has the same fantastic energy and spirit I always remember” said Ray

Below: Grant and Karin both work in massage therapy so they were very pleased to meet and find out about each others tips and techniques. Here, Grant works on Karin’s forearm

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Above: The end of the trip! Our thrifty budget traveller returns his Thrifty rental car at San Francisco International Airport before his departure – “It has been great driving on the roads over here and much more relaxed than I am used to in London” said Ray

Below: American drivers are a funny lot and our traveller observed a couple of incidents that beggar belief! The driver in the picture on the left has obviously left the gas station in a hurry without a final check, whilst these drivers on the right are on the receiving end of the wit and wind up of some road construction workers

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As you know, our Editor Mozzie Byte has chosen to dedicate this issue of The Daily Explorer to Alan Gray, who died on Christmas Day last year. I asked Ray to tell me about Alan and how he knew him.  “In 1982, myself and a group of people helped to start and build an interesting company in the UK and Alan was one of our team. We had a training business and this meant many of us went out on the road for days at a time, with cases of equipment, maps and training materials needed for each event. Alan ran the whole logistics operation so smoothly, nothing ever went wrong and even if it did, it was always dealt with swiftly and with minimal fuss – he was a legend for being so well organised and unruffled” said Ray. “More than this, he was one of the kindest people I have ever met and someone who followed their own rules in life, doing things exactly the way he wanted to do when many of us were being good ‘followers’ and doing things we may not always have chosen to. In that sense, he was a great role model for me and it is only since I have become a nomad in the last two years that I have any ability to appreciate the strength of character he really had” added Ray.

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Above: Ray takes off from San Francisco in the pouring rain – “I think the weather outside was reflecting how I was feeling on the inside as I headed for Alan’s wake in England. It had been arranged at my friend Helen’s house in Henley on the day I was landing” said Ray

Below: Ray flew back to the UK on Aer Lingus – “There was no change in the weather when we made a stopover in Dublin on our way back to London” added Ray

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Above: Alan sits among the mountains in Spain, not worrying about the past or future, but just enjoying the moment – something he loved to do. “He chose to live in Spain in the early 90’s as he really loved it there. He was going out with my friend Helen at the time and had been for several years and his decision to go eventually led to them splitting up, although they remained very close friends until he died” said Ray

Below: Alan’s son Geoff came to the wake – “He lives in Scotland so most of Alan’s colleagues, including me, had never met him” said Ray. “We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw that he was the spitting image of his dad!” added Ray

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Above: Prior to Alan’s wake, the tributes poured in from all over the world and were recorded by Helen in a special book for Alan’s family. Everyone present listened intently as some of the wonderful words that people sent in were read to the group. From left to right: Mike Watts, Andrew (Miff) Smith, Gary Pass, Gill Barstow, Kathleen Saunders, Jane Anglin, Jan McLean and Hayley Atwell

Below: Helen’s son Tom (centre) reads out some of the tributes as Geoff (right) enjoys the stories about his dad. Alan played the role of step father to Tom as he was growing up and the two of them remained very close. Angela Hill-Wilson (left) and Melvyn Renison (back) listen and appreciate the stories about the great man

 

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A few days ago, I spoke with Ray on the phone to find out more about how 2008 was shaping up for him. “The main change people will see in my life this year is a return to professional work, although it will be on a very modest scale compared with what it used to be like when I was running First Place Consulting” he told me. “This visit to the UK has enabled me to finalise and agree most of the arrangements and the commitments I have taken on so far will mean I will be working about 35-40 days this year, for two clients. One of them is in the UK and the other is a global company who have asked me to work with executives in Holland, Switzerland, Singapore and the USA. It is perfect for me as it means I can flexibly combine my travel life with my work life and really enjoy them both” explained Ray. Of course, we will bring you further news of Ray’s travel plans as things unfold.

Editors Note: A huge thank you to our USA guest correspondent, Nick Elandimer for being part of our team during the last few months and bringing us all of Ray’s news and pictures from the USA. If you would like to comment on this issue or our new format for 2008, please email me at thedailyexplorer@gmail.comWe will be on-line with our next issue in a few weeks.

MOZZIE BYTE

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Above: As Alan Gray’s life comes to an end, another begins and the circle of life continues! A great big hello from everyone at The Daily Explorer to Hannah Elizabeth Bentley, who was born on 23rd January. Her proud parents, Scanes and Sarah, are in great shape and are delighted! We wish them all well

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6 Comments »

  1. Thanks Ray! It was soooo lovely to see you again! Thanks for the joy of your travels shared.
    Love to all for all and all,
    Grant (“its awfully quiet on this table”) Atwell

    Comment by grant atwell — February 13, 2008 @ 4:52 am

  2. I couldn’t resist reading this issue (having missed several), despite having just got back from the States myself and having loads of work to catch up on. I couldn’t make it to Alan’s wake, so it was great to hear a little bit about it and see some pics. Also fantastic to see pics of Nic, Mike and Grant – although slightly shocking as I don’t notice the gradual aging of those I see every now and again, but realise how much we must have all aged, when I see pics more than 20 years on from my memories (sorry you guys – it could have been anyone!).

    Comment by Polly — February 13, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

  3. What a great piece of work. Especially the tribute to Alan Gray, and all the pics of long lost friends. I was moved to tears. And all the pics of New York, California, and Las Vegas. Now tell me why you don’t like America again?
    Love Omes x

    Comment by omerli — February 14, 2008 @ 10:18 am

  4. Hey Ray!
    How lovely to hear from you again! You look very happy and radiant,it’s beautiful to see! I really missed The Daily Explorer and am so glad to be back on the road again with you ; )
    I like the new look of it, well done!keep up the great work and enjoy your journey. Have a safe trip and may Gods hand be above you always..
    With much love and a big warm hug from the Netherlands!

    Yours,
    Adriana

    Comment by Adriana — March 23, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

  5. I have been seeking my friend Alan Gray for many years – and I’m not sure if this is the Alan I knew from Clifton in Bristol in 1972-1977. He was born in Scotland and lived in Canada with his parents when younger. He had a son from an early marriage and after his divorce moved to Bristol – I believe the son still lives in Scotland. I lost contact in 1979. Can you help me please?

    Comment by Jan Bridger — July 5, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

  6. Hi there. I think this is the same Alan Gray. I did not meet Alan until the early eighties – your description does seem to match to everything I know. I met his son at a memorial service in early 2009 for the first time and there is a picture of him. I hope this helps.

    Comment by The Daily Explorer — July 5, 2011 @ 7:20 pm


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