Archive for January, 2008

Investment Research with a Twist

Buy List LogoWith so many companies turning the management of retirement funds over to their employees, many people are baffled about just how to handle this new duty.

There are a lot of people and websites out there who are offering assistance to people in need of investment guidance but this one has a bit of a twist that I have not seen offered in exactly this way. TheBuyList.com gives investors the opportunity to set up a list of their own stock picks and then compare them to the picks of the professional investors buying assets for various mutual funds, etc.

This site will show you which funds bought a particular stock, how much they bought or sold of that stock and what other securities they bought as well. The idea is that you can compare your decision making to that of those actually involved with the buying and selling of the things your contemplating purchasing. It’s fascinating to look at!

Not only do you get to compare your stock picks with the professionals, you also get to see just which stocks are making up some of the mutual funds you may already own or are looking to purchase. Not all reports are free but, depending on how extensive your portfolio is, you may find their nominal monthly fee to be a very good investment. Only you know what your assets are and just how extensive your own research is.

Do you ever wonder where to invest your funds, retirement or otherwise, and contemplate which stocks to buy? You might want to start some of your research at TheBuyList. Now if they could only add historic prices for these stocks we would have it made!

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Indicted for Dog Slaughter!

A watchdog to bite the perpetrators! I will apologize up front. I am angry and I’m not going to be very nice, or civil even.

This picture came from www.theage.com.au (via Yahoo!) and I hope they won’t yell at me for borrowing it. This little guy looks as angry as me and it seemed appropriate!

I have just about had it with the criminal element! This incident was the last straw for me when I heard about it. The incident in question apparently happened at the end of December but it wasn’t until recently that the media focused on it and I was able to hear about it first hand. That’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s a sickening story but there’s an article in the Honolulu Star Bulletin that gives the series of events more clearly and with the most detail.

Warning: If you’re sensitive to animal cruelty and/or have a weak stomach, don’t read it!

Although this is technically old news, I am even angrier now! These men confessed and now they go to court and plead not guilty?!? What?!? I’d like to throw their attorney in there with them! I wasn’t going to even talk about this because it was so nauseating. But, since I’m angry and still have one more angry story that I will talk about in a couple of days, I figured I might as well face it and get this one off my chest.

This crime is not only a legal issue, it is a social issue as well! Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, says it best in his blog article, Betrayal of Trust. I received an email from the Online Communications Department of the Humane Society’s mainland office that informed me about Mr. Pacelle’s article. Thank you, Meghan, for reaching out!

I wouldn’t waste tax payer money on these disgusting freaks. They did it. We know the did it. They confessed that they did it. What’s left? Lock them up and nail them to the full extent of the law! Sick bastards! We’ve got a new law that was long overdue so we should put it to work! I was not able to talk to anyone at our Humane Society office but I read in another article that they are doing some investigating into it as well.

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

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Join this, join that, make friends here, visit blogs over there, etc., etc., etc. Meanwhile, in usual stupid fashion, my own ignorance has got me again! I thought I joined this, I thought I was doing all the right stuff… will someone tell me how I missed Technorati.com? And why? They are so important to so many and yet nobody sings their praises… or they certainly don’t sing them loud enough!

Aside from my own feelings of unrequited love from our favorite search engine, Technorati must be feeling the same way about me. While they have me listed, treated me very well, provided me with links and warm fuzzies… I have failed in the reciprocation department. I will learn about Technorati’s “personality,” I will feed it links and tags like I should have been doing all along, I will be kind to Technorati and, most importantly, I will love them back!

I knew I was going to have to teach myself and learn a lot of things on my own, but I messed up on this one. At least I’m honest. Sigh. But, it’s nice to learn about someone who wants me to love them back instead of the other way around. If anyone has tricks or guidance for getting the maximum benefit for both Homespun Honolulu and Technorati, I’m all ears! Please share so others can benefit as well! In the mean time, I’ll go work on my Technorati Profile.

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Waikiki Aquarium: a World All Its Own!

Entrance to Waikiki Aquarium

From a quiet, simple entrance to a fascinating world on the inside.

World's largest clam

One of the first things you run into is their pièce de résistance… this huge clam! Periodically weighed, this darling is about two or three feet across and probably weighs just over 160 lbs or so.

Little jelly fish

There’s also these cute little floating button-like jellyfish. With all the fish in the sea, we can’t forget the jellies.

Beautiful jelly fish

Although the thought of jelly fish is usually accompanied by a painful, stinging memory (for me anyway), they are still beautiful to behold. I remember how beautiful that blue bubble was as it floated on top of the water next to me. “Wow, that’s neat,” I thought.

Then suddenly…

“Eeeekkk! My leg, my leg!” Oh the pain of it all! Lifeguards suggest meat tenderizer. I don’t remember what they used that day. I was only 7 or 8 years old, I think. I never forgot it. But, aren’t they beautiful? In the aquarium. Not next to you in the water.

Okay, I don’t remember all the types of jellies and it’s the box jellyfish, the ones that show up after the full moon, that will render you a blubbering crybaby, or maybe worse (I’ll talk about them in a later post). All of that aside, I will avoid them now just because they left me with that painful memory.

Those box jellyfish are to the unsuspecting swimmer, just as the vixen-variety of human female is to the male gender — alluring, intoxicating, seductive… ZAP! Suddenly painful, bewildering and cruel! But, aren’t they beautiful?Sea Horse

Sorry, that just seemed like the perfect analogy. Now every male surfer who reads this will start comparing his x-girlfriend(s) to jellyfish! Oh well.

The sea horse is always a fascination. I guess the need to keep them in the low lighting is why we see little of them, aside from what’s on the National Geographic Channel.

There are so many beautiful fish and varieties of plant life to see as you walk through the Aquarium. Visitors can certainly feed off of the excitement of the children who go to the aquarium with their families. Their excitement is fun to watch and very contagious.

I mention this because, much like I was, the kids were dumb-struck at first and then full of excitement at the sight of these beauties that followed just around the corner.

Sharks!

I was so excited when I saw them! These are black-tip reef sharks. Man?! Man? is the Hawaiian word for shark.

Sharks swim by spectators

They’re oblivious to us — calm, serene and oblivious. They just swim by. They must be so used to it after all this time. But, when I got my camera home and downloaded these pictures, I literally gasped for breath. “OMG! Look at them! They’re… right there! So close!”

That Close

That close… so close they went out of focus. Unfortunately, these were taken with my old camera — I actually took these back in March of last year. I just never got around to sharing them.

You know, many of us wonder what on earth is wrong with those people who go into the water with these cartilaginous creatures! (They have not bones, only cartilage; that makes them sound even creepier doesn’t it?) Why would they want to go down in those cages? I get it! I want to go there too!

I want to have that experience! I told my husband that, for Christmas, I wanted to go on the shark adventure they offer on the North Shore of Oahu. He thinks I have forgotten about it. I haven’t. You guys will be the first to know about it, trust me! I promise to share that story right after it happens! I don’t think I’ll be able to contain myself anyway.

Shark Science

Then comes the thirst for knowledge and the desire to understand them better. Taking a closer look, Waikiki Aquarium has not failed us in this area. These are actual displays and there is a lot of texts that accompany them. The lighting is wonderful for the viewers… just not the greatest for my poor old Kodak at the time.

Understanding the Shark

Understanding them from a zoological standpoint is necessary so we understand the need to protect them.

More Sharks

Overwhelmed by their quiet majesty, I loitered near them longer than I did anything else at the Aquarium. Their subtle power, and their environmental necessity, commands our respect and asserts the need for preservation.

They are one of the ?aum?kua (gods or deified ancestors) for many of the Hawaiian people. This is another reason we should care for their environment and protect them — for their historical value! That wouldn’t work would it? Well, maybe if we take only some of the breeds of shark, like the reef sharks, and protect them! Sigh.

Monk Seal

No, he’s not dead… he’s just fat and lazy. He’s basking in th sun and relaxing. The scars on this guy may be ones he received from one of our species of shark. However, it’s more likely that these scars were the result of trying to break free from fishing lines, netting and the like. Much like Sea Life Park has done for some of their residents, I think this guy is a lucky resident saved and adopted by the Aquarium.

Another clam outside in the sunlight

There is another clam out in the sunlight that shares its space with these beautiful coral. Those are natural colors — they are living and growing and nobody painted them or added food coloring. 🙂

Our ecosystem is so fragile and so many groups are engaged in the preservation of this underwater world. It’s an ongoing struggle but so very worth it! A trip to the Waikiki Aquarium is so very worth it as well!

Carnival of Aloha Reminder

leiblueme.jpgThis is the one week reminder for submissions to the upcoming chapter of the Carnival of Aloha. Submissions are due in by next week Wednesday, January 30th. The Carnival if scheduled to go live on February 4th!

We’ve got some new friends joining us, I think, so let’s have some fun! Share your events or your stories about Hawaii. Remember, if you’ve been here and you have a story to tell… be sure to share that with us too!

This link, like the one above, will take you to the guidelines and the link to BlogCarnival.com to get your story added to the places we’ll be visiting in the first week of February!

What Do Virginia Slims and VistaPrint Have in Common?

I may be dating myself with this, or at least my longevity on the Internet, but, I remember the company, VistaPrint, from days gone by. They made business cards for free a very long time ago. Now that’s a marketing technique from the past. Well, it must have worked at some level because, man, you should see them now! They’re offering all kinds of things to put your logo or picture on… a lot more than business cards!

The thing that caught my eye and started my mind thinking was the custom postcards. I couldn’t help but think we could use our photos (the good ones of course) to make postcards unique to our blogs, our islands, our cultures, events, whatever, that are not available anywhere else. Then, we can use them for just about any purpose — for sending holiday wishes, reminders, notices, all kinds of things!

Vista Print has taken things a step further at this point — they will even take a mailing list that you provide, and mail the cards for you! This may not work very well for holiday greetings to family and friends, but it sure works for business marketing and fund raising organizations!

I’m trying to date them but I really don’t remember exactly when they appeared. They may have come on the scene about the same time that eBay did. Yeah, I remember that too. My desire for my own identity makes me lean towards products like this. I think the bloggers and online businesses that are offering, or have offered, their t-shirts for sale or as gifts. I think that is so cool! Yeah, they do that too. Anyway, to answer the title question and hopefully not date myself even more in the process, “they’ve come a long way baby!” Now if I can just design a logo or come up with the perfect picture…

A Grief That’s Shared by an Entire Community

This story is one that Oahu residents are still scratching their heads over — the senseless death on Thursday of a child who was not quite two years old. Somehow, a peculiar resident of a small neighborhood in Makiki took little Cyrus Belt to a pedestrian, freeway overpass and tossed this toddler over the side and into the moving traffic.

I’m angry. I know others are angry. A little voice has been silenced and we want to know how such a thing could happen. Pictured below is a view of that bridge, facing in the direction of the east-bound traffic on the H-1. To the left you can just barely see people at the end of the bridge. Read on.

View of pedestrian bridge looking eastward.

Partly from frustration and partly from an anguish that I have not been able to put my finger on yet, people are leaving memorials, cards, balloons, signs, letters, stuffed animals, etc. I say frustration because I could “hear” it in some of the things that were written for Cyrus. The messages say things like, “You’re safe now,” “this was not supposed to happen,” “God please hear our prayers,” and other sentiments calling for awareness and a plea that this be a wake-up call for the community. We can’t fix this tragedy, we can’t do anything to make it better for Cyrus. All we can do is not let it happen again!

Gifts left for Cyrus

This is the memorial that was set up for Cyrus on the bridge where he was thrown to his death. It started in the middle of the bridge but the Department of Transportation had to step in and move the mementos to the end of the bridge for safety reasons. Trust me, it’s not because they wanted to… they had to for public safety. KHON2 has a perfect video to share and explain this.

Crowd to pay respects to Cyrus continues to grow

The Honolulu Advertiser printed a letter that was sent to them for them to share that asked, “How do I put away my grief?” This letter spoke volumes of the mass devastation being felt across Oahu County. People cannot pass over or under the bridge without being brought to tears.

People coming to remember Cyrus.

See for yourself — nobody called anyone, these people may or may not even know each other, but there they are. I didn’t know anyone, but there I was. I tried but I couldn’t stop the tears from falling — I finally gave up and decided I would just let them fall.

I was at work when the story broke on Thursday. I wanted to cry then. People in the office canceled plans they had made for that evening. It was just too much to absorb for many of us. The shock and disbelief was just too hard to figure out and it was too difficult to make sense of it all. “Why? How did this happen? Who could have done such a thing?”

Motorists stop for pedestrians wishing to visit the memorial.

I wasn’t the only one drawn to the scene. People continued to come to this little shrine on the bridge. Motorists gladly stopped to allow mourners to cross Magellan Street.

Traffic backed up but for good reason.

After I tore myself away from the bridge and headed for home I thought to myself that, “I shouldn’t have done that. Why did I do that?” I had to. The amount of parents with small children blew me away! After thinking about it, I realized that… they had to. I can tell you this much, this one is definitely a study for the psychology texts. I’m crying even now and finding it very hard to finish this post that I started two days ago.

The pictures above were taken Saturday afternoon. The pictures that follow were taken this afternoon (Sunday), approximately 24 hours later.

Sunday crowds leaving mementos.

People are still coming to the bridge to leave a piece of their heart with Cyrus’ memory. The only difference is that the memorial is larger and expanding its way down the wall along the side of the street.

The gifts increase in number

Yet this community remains in mourning and waits for answers to questions — answers that will let us stop the emotional turbulence. Afterwards, we can begin to contemplate ways to deal with the legal issues and the processes that will need to be implemented to protect the community and its keiki.

I was speaking to a very nice woman at one of the news channels in one last effort to get more answers before posting this. In the course of our conversation, something this lady said made me finally find something good about this whole scene. It suddenly dawned on me, you guys, that we’re not immune to it all!

We haven’t built up an immunity or steeled ourselves to these tragedies. We still care! This is who we are! The ohana that is our community feels the need to band together and, like any family that has lost a family member would do, we just need to lean on each other for a while. We’ll draw on each other’s strength and deal with the recent tragedies that our community has had to face.

For now, we say aloha to Cyrus. Go with God, little angel, we’ll pray for you!

Finding Hidden Treasures in the Travel Guides

Whether you live in Honolulu or not, it’s always good to know where the Cheap Hotels are! If you don’t live here but intend to visit, the reasons for this are obvious. If you do live here, the various disasters that can and do happen, and the occasional need to do some termite tenting certainly make it beneficial to keep track of the current list of inexpensive places to stay!

What caught my attention was that this site has a blog of its own. I appreciated reading a post that talked about the Honolulu Academy of Arts and I wanted to slap myself for not knowing that the Academy does the once a month thing on the last Friday of the month! Considering all of the hype surrounding First Fridays and Third Thursdays in downtown Honolulu, you would think that I would have known better! Thirty lashes for me on that one!

In addition to my missing the obvious, I also discovered a couple of things included in their list of activities that I want to explore further! I’ll have to link back to them, as embarrassing as it is, to thank them for drawing my attention to some of these things.

For those of you who are writers and/or bloggers, they also have a Writer’s Network which you can join if you want to write about your city! Here’s what they list as the benefits of becoming part of their writing network:

  • Enjoy access to over 18 million visitors a year.
  • Make contact with other writers from your area and around the world.
  • Refer employers to professionally published examples of your writing.

Is it me or does this sound like another networking opportunity? You just never know where you’ll find hidden treasure!

Greek Marina at Koko Marina

We were in the mood for Greek food the other day so we decided to go to the place with the easiest access. The Greek Marina in Hawaii Kai is easy to find, easy to park, easy to get into and comfortably unpretentious.

Restaurant

I have a passion for moussaka and my mind focuses on it as soon as Greek food is the topic of conversation.  So, since I was focused there, that’s what was for lunch!
Moussaka

Moussaka is a dish of eggplant and hamburger that is to-die-for delicious. This one was not the best they’ve ever made but it was still good. It was… missing something but we couldn’t quite figure out what. Oh well. The salad as good as always but it can always have more feta cheese!

I do love those Kalamata olives! They are an acquired taste but they’re almost a necessary condiment when eating Mediterranean foods. I don’t know, they’re just a culinary must-have!

Cheese, or the lack thereof, is always the problem with spanakopita (spinach with feta cheese baked in dough), which is another thing that I should have ordered. I’ll just have to order some next time. There’s a good reason to go back!

The Kitchen

There’s a little window into the kitchen where the waiters and waitresses pick up the plates of food to be served to their patrons. I couldn’t resist that photo opportunity!

Grape Leaves

These are grape leaves that the chef has separated with slices of tomato and cucumber. I like grape leaves very much but I haven’t tried theirs yet. There’s reason number two to go back!

Hummus

Hummus is also something I like but I’m not too worried about not having tried any. What I am irritated with myself about is my failure to try their baba ghanouj — a roasted eggplant dip that I absolutely love! There’s a restaurant in downtown Honolulu that makes some really awesome baba ghanouj and I really wanted to compare the Greek Marina’s to theirs. There’s reason number three to go back!

Since we’re talking about Greek food, I guess I should mention that they also have souvlaki. I have very little interest in souvlaki because it’s not exotic enough, or not definitively Greek enough, for me! What is it? Well, to me, it’s nothing more than your choice of meat (usually lamb or chicken) on a shish kabob. It is well marinated, but I always look for things that I cannot get elsewhere!

Baklava

Now for dessert! Most people are familiar with baklava and this one looks like it was loaded with pistachios! I didn’t try it, but Mom, who is the biggest critic of bad baklava, says it was delicious.

Greek Isle Wall

This mural covers most of one of the walls in the restaurant. It is a very representative mural of the Greek Isle of Santorini. What a beautiful place — so fresh looking in its blue and white buildings and surrounded by the beautiful blue ocean! Picture perfect for sure.

Ring

The service was great and our waitress was very sweet and patient. The staff were all very good about humoring me with my picture taking.

Greek Marina
7192 Kalanianaole Hwy. E-126
Honolulu, Hawaii 96825
Phone: (808) 396-8441

You can find out more about Koko Marina here and, after you eat, you can walk around a bit and look at some of the other shops and businesses. Koko Marina calls itself, “The last stop on the way to Hanauma Bay.” I had to think about that statement for a bit and, you know, I think they’re right. I’ll talk about Hanauma Bay in the not-too-distant future, I promise! 🙂

Marketing Like a Dog With a Bone!

Lead Dogs Dog with Bite!

Animals are such wonderful advertisers! I couldn’t resist sharing this little cutie when I saw him! He belongs to The Lead Dogs, Marketing with More Bite. With a slogan like that, how could they not have a canine represent them?

Marketing has become a hot topic and there are companies now looking to combine their Internet marketing with their other brick and mortar avenues! The Lead Dogs have listed ten impressive ways to improve on your marketing efforts here, and you can even download a copy of their $127 “Marketing Wisdom Report” for FREE! There is some very well thought out material and it’s certainly worth taking a look at! While it may not all pertain to you, there are certainly pearls of wisdom to be had.

Even though blogging is not their primary focus, you can still pick up some really useful tidbits from their site and maybe even refer your friends in need of marketing for their business to The Lead Dogs Sales Lead Management.

If you read through some of their materials you will see just how appropriate that little canine is to their strategy. They do not give up on their prospects and they’re “like a dog with a bone” — once the strategy is in motion, they don’t let go. That canine is definitely a good rep!