The 2004 ICPA Annual Meeting was recently held on the beautiful island of Maui, and if you missed it, you missed a lot. Fortunately I was there and I took plenty of notes. Here then, are my recollections of paradise.

Maui is one of the Hawaiian Islands that comprise our 50th state. It is located eight uncomfortable air hours from Chicago and has a four-hour time difference. This means that upon landing you immediately go to bed and wake up sometime in the middle of the night. You will continue this pattern until you return home, at which time you will be so confused that you won't even know who you are. The island slogan for Maui is “Maui no ka ‘oi” which means “Maui is No. 1,” and after several cocktails on the way over, I had to go noka‘oi as soon as we landed.

It is important to learn a few Hawaiian words to help you fit in. “Aloha” is a good word to learn because it means hello and goodbye. It is similar in use to the California word, “Dude.” The Hawaiian word “Mahalo” means thank you. It is similar to the California word, “Dude.” Most importantly, the rest rooms are not labeled “Men” and “Women,” but rather, “Kane” and “Wahine.” I highly recommend that these two words are the first ones you learn, if you catch my drift.

Our host hotel for the conference was the outstanding Grand Wailea. This place is so big that when you check in they give you a map, a compass, and a flare gun just in case you get lost. The coolest feature of the resort is the giant water slide. The slide is about a mile long and hurls you down the mountain at speeds approaching 200 miles per hour, which is fun up until the time you hit the water. When you hit the water at light speed, the effects of gravity, friction, and embarrassment combine to do strange things to your bathing suit. Mine all but disappeared and had to be extracted with barbecue tongs.

The food provided at out four-day feeding frenzy was unbelievably delicious, but unfortunately we were sometimes forced to wait up to 90 minutes between meals. The only problem I encountered was that the salt air of Hawaii must have shrunk all my clothes because the Aloha shirt that fit so loosely at the beginning of the week could not even be buttoned by the end.

We were treated to many native Hawaiian traditions during our stay, beginning when we checked in to the resort. Each guest was greeted with a “lei” — which sounds like a lot of fun when you hear it pronounced but it is just a flower necklace. We also heard plenty of ukelele music. The ukulele is the traditional Hawaiian musical instrument, just as the bagpipes are the traditional Scottish instrument. What both of these instruments have in common is the fact that all of the songs played on them sound identical and you can only listen to a maximum of three tunes before having the urge to run from the room screaming. I purchased several traditional ukulele albums as Christmas gifts for certain…ahem…“friends” back home.

Emcee and professional summarizer Dale Irvin, a popular speaker at financial services meetings, once again kept attendees laughing at ICPA's 2004 Annual Meeting. Irvin is also the author of Insurance as a Second Language. Visit his Web site at For booking information, contact Ruth Levine at (858) 457-9880.