Archive for February, 2007

Story Updates

I just thought it would be nice to update some of the ongoing stories that continue to grace Honolulu’s headlines.

Update to Walk Wise Hawaii

Hawaii is still not walking too wisely. They’re not driving too wisely either. At the beginning of the ninth week of the year, we have our ninth pedestrian fatality. The laws are more strict, the penalties more severe, but still the body count keeps rising. The only result we seem to have is that the driver of yesterday’s incident fled the scene! Granted, the driver must have been shaken and didn’t want to pay those fine(s) but, man, it sucks to be that driver when he or she is identified. At the same time I think it is important to note that the victim was not in a crosswalk and it was dark. The incident has people screaming for the installation of a traffic light at the location. Good idea. Let’s see how long it takes, shall we? Chinese dragon

So, my idea of restarting the New Year with the start of the Chinese New Year didn’t come to fruition. I guess firecrackers and dragons weren’t enough to chase away all of our highway demons. For both drivers and pedestrians — Auwe!

Update to Fire Hydrants for Dogs

Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) was probably the hardest hit by this with 20-some-odd thefts causing six or better power outages. Now HECO is charged with the task (by default) of replacing all of that stolen copper wiring to re-light those streets that were left in darkness.

Hawaiian Electric Company logo

Sorry, HECO. You’ve had so much drama lately. Natural disasters are one thing, but the man-made variety are just not acceptable.

There’s hope! There is a new 2007 legislative package that includes not only crack down on the thieves, but a hard crunch on those buying the stolen metal. Copper buyers are now required to provide proper identification and an affidavit from the people they are purchasing the goods from.

Under this new law, both the buyers AND the sellers are equally liable for the passage of these stolen goods.Honolulu Police Department logo

Over the grapevine (or the coconut wireless as it were) I hear that HECO will be replacing the copper with a cheaper metal to deter further thefts. For HECO and Hawaii Law Enforcement – Aloha and Mahalo for your patience and endurance!

Living Among the Dead

Oahu Cemetery Sign

You know those times in your life when you flip out? There are times in life when something triggers your brain to behave… differently. Well, mine did just that a couple of years ago. Some of us seek comfort in food (like me), some of us look to nature for quiet contemplation (like me), some of us like to walk in the rain (like me), and some of us are just plain weird (like me). I found a new source of fascination and relaxation – the cemetery.

I told you I flipped out. Of course it does help to have a fascinating one nearby.

I was completely ignorant of any kind of historic significance or stories of interest in connection with any of our cemeteries, except for Punchbowl cemetery of course. I mean, let’s face it, that’s not something people talk about very often. I was ignorant about just what a treasure a cemetery can be. Ignorant that is, until I got my hands on a copy of “Oahu Cemetery, Burial Ground & Historic Site” by Nanette Napoleon Purnell.

As I thumbed through the pages of the book with mild curiosity, I stumbled onto the story of Gil Jamieson, a young boy kidnapped, murdered and buried at the cemetery in 1928. He was only ten. I was suddenly taken back to my childhood when Mom said, “Don’t ever go with anyone in an automobile of any kind – even if they say they say that I have been hurt and they are going to take you to see me.” She said that same line to us so many times as we were growing up, along with the usual “don’t take candy from strangers” thing. So THAT’S why she kept saying that! Now I know why.

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Electronic Enticement & Hawaii’s Keiki

First of all, let’s get one thing straight — people have the right to do whatever they want without having a gestapo breathing down their neck. If visiting porn sites is your thing then go for it. Go for it that is, IF, you are an adult and IF you do not impose your online hobbies on others and certainly not on a minor child.

Most parents want the Internet and the money they have spent on technology to be educational for their children, not morally reprehensible and certainly not dangerous! Children always seem to be the target of online sex offenders, or sex-offenders-to-be. It happens everywhere, it’s all over the news, but it doesn’t happen here. Not to our kids. Uh, just how delusional are we?
It’s not always paradise, gang. An article published a year ago in the Honolulu Advertiser warned possible offenders about new judicial Bills and about the sentencing for those found guilty of this “electronic enticement” — all seven (7) of them. What?!? Seven cases?!?

What makes our kids so damn receptive to this? They are numb to it. It’s all over television, it’s all over the Net and everyone is doing it. It’s accepted. Dammit! What have we done? What can we do to protect our babies (anyone under 18) and, at the same time, the reputation of our beloved medium? That’s right, the Internet needs our protection too. What a Blogger Power!mess.

Bloggers have been “called out” by the Blogger Power: Safeguard the Web for Children project to get the message out to the online providers of adult content. The game of “tag” has begun and is moving at a rather rapid pace. It’s simple for the porn sites to do and it’s simple for us to urge them to comply with this small request. Let’s ask them to…

“Please require a password-protected login before allowing even free access to explicit adult content. We understand that selling porn is your business and we respect your right to make a legal living. But understand our legitimate concerns and work with us. You already have the “warning adult content” on your websites. Yet kids, who are not legal customers of your product, ignore the warning. So to prevent them from having direct access to explicit images, texts and sounds, the simplest way is to have a password-protected login. No more “free tours” before a visitor supplies basic information.”

Simple and to the point. Let’s see if we can keep the kids away from the porn so they won’t be exposed to it and think it “accepted” behavior, and this may also help keep the sexual predators away from the kids! This project is a good start. I don’t know who I will tag, but I’ll come back and add their names as I do!

Pounding the Pavement, Aloha Style

Starting at 4:00 am, the buses, both tour buses and school buses, begin loading up the participants who have chosen to park their cars at Aloha Stadium. Before 7:00 am, these buses will take several thousand people downtown for the start of the 23rd annual Great Aloha Run.

The downtown businesses that were smart enough to be open that early made a small killing I’m sure! Looks like Starbucks had a nice morning!

This annual event has become something that a lot of us look forward to each year. The theme for this event was “ke kukini me ke aloha pau’ole” (the race with compassionate love). It is a way to join the community in supporting the community, and a way of achieving a sense of accomplishment after completing an 8.15-mile foot race. Not all race, some join in the event to socialize and just to be a part of things.

Over the last 22 years this event has raised $6.8 million for 26 local charities.

There are walkers, wheelchairs, strollers and, of course, the runners. It may say, “Run” in the title, but the event is open to all who want to participate. Some people walk, some run, some do a little of both. Some people run or walk with family or friends and some go it alone. I, for one, am a loner. It’s my time to be alone with me.

At 6:50 am, ten minutes before the official start of the run, the branches of the military start the show as they begin to run with banners, etc. The “Sounds of Freedom” as this kick-start of the run is called, brings more cheers from the crowd than I’ve heard in a long time. I guess there’s nothing like a war and having troops away from home to bring cohesion and unity to a country. The Fire Boat in Honolulu Harbor sits spraying its support for the participants as we sing the Star-Spangled Banner and Hawai’i Pono’i before the start.

But, Why Run?

The runners can be timed if they choose to be. They will pay a little bit more for the technology and paperwork involved. Some will run just because it’s what they do. People look at runners and shake their heads wondering why they do what they do. I can’t talk too loud; I look at marathon runners and shake my head too!

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What Do PMS and a Good Bottle of Wine Have in Common?

A couple of weeks ago I was completely frustrated while looking for a birthday gift. Unsuccessful, tired and seeing all stores as futile, I was about to give up. I ducked into a cute little wine store that I had never been in before. It looked peaceful, was close by, and it had a cute name, Simply Grape.

When I’m under a time crunch I am not the easiest customer to deal with and my patience is quickly expended. My lunch hour was almost over, I had been in all of the usual haunts, and I still had nothing to show for it.

Hey, I admit it, I can be the customer from hell if my buttons are pushed. But, the staff in this cozy little store asked if they could help so I told them what I was looking for.

They began to think. Hmmm… 29-year-old girl, it’s her birthday, well, maybe… There was some hesitation about bringing this item to my attention. “I don’t know if you would be interested,” someone suggested, “but this one is popular.” I took one look at the label and said, “Damn right I’m interested!”

Look what I got! Yes, you’re reading the label right. I was so stoked when I saw that label – talk about perfect! Perfect for the mood I was in and perfect for the birthday girl who would see the fun in it.

Then I saw the coasters that I could buy to go along with it — cute little rubber slippers for wine glasses! I suddenly realized that these nice people had just helped me fund the perfect gift!

Slipper Coasters Don’t let the label fool you, this is a wine that is definitely to be taken seriously – a red, Barossa Grenache that is 15% Proof. Real wine with a great label!

This store was small, attractive and very welcoming. What enamored me most about the store? It was neat, clean, inviting, and above all; the people were friendly and oh so helpful. They were smiling, sincere, and forgiving of my attitude. The latter is always key for me when deciding to adopt a business into my circle of places to hang out and spend money.

I signed the inside of the birthday card, “To the Bitch-in-Training.” She’ll get this down in time. We all do. In fact, some of us have honed it down to a fine skill, ahem!

Simply Grape, a Wine Boutique
Davies Pacific Center
841 Bishop St., #153
Honolulu, Hawai’i

Phone: (808) 447-9000
Fax: (808) 447-1100

NFL Cheerleaders Excite Downtown Honolulu!

On Wednesday, February 7, the kick-off rally for the Pro Bowl took place in Downtown Honolulu. People looking out their office windows couldn’t miss the giant NFL football that had been placed just behind the stage area. While Honolulu’s Mayor, Mufi Hannemann, and the Royal Hawaiian Band were there to welcome the NFL in style, the real crowd pleasers were the team mascots and the cheerleaders who were also in attendance, and doing what they do best! Even though it was still early in the week, we did manage to have a few of the players present – the ones who had already touched down at Honolulu International Airport.
It started to rain but people still pressed forward to get a good view of the sexy beauties, the likes of which are rarely seen in this usually mundane business district. Everyone stayed put and the people with cameras had to fight the rain, dripping umbrellas and the surrounding pools of water to get pictures of the young beauties that kept smiling through it all. Fortunately for me, the rain and I get along quite nicely and I really don’t mind getting drenched. Unfortunately for me, soaking wet business attire and air conditioning do not get along quite so well.

All of this fuss is just for the NFL’s All-Star game? Yes, Super Bowl XLI, the highlight of the football season, has come and gone but we’re not ready to say farewell to the season just yet. Selected Players from the NFC (National Football Conference) and the AFC (American Football Conference) will hit the turf just one more time on February 10th at Aloha Stadium. Banners like the one to the left are flying from the light posts along King Street through downtown Honolulu and portent the start of just one more football event. The votes of fans, coaches and other NFL football players create the team rosters that list the players who will grace our presence in the Pro Bowl this year.

While the Indianapolis Colts are, of course, the stars of the NFL and will be represented nicely by five of their players: Harrison, Wayne, Manning, Saturday and Glenn, the San Diego Chargers lead the league with a record-breaking ten players in attendance!

Mahalo NFL!

Aloha StadiumWhile Honolulu welcomed the NFL with open arms, the NFL had a nice surprise announcement of its own. NFL Charities granted $100,000 made up of various amounts to a selection of sixteen Hawaii-based, non-profit organizations. Even more surprising, for me, was the fact that the NFL has been doing this for over ten years now. NFL Charities focuses its grant-making on youth, education and sports-related medical research. It’s always an admirable thing to see such a large for-profit organization giving back to the communities they touch in the course of their activities.

Mahalo to the NFL for giving football fans just one more week of gridiron entertainment, and a very big aloha and mahalo for the generous grants provided to the members of our non-profit community!

Passion is a Dangerous Thing!

Hawaii Opera Theatre (HOT) has labeled their 2007 opera season the “Season of Dangerous Liaisons.” The first of the three operas for the season, Camille Saint-Saens’ “Samson and Dalila,” is definitely that. Most people know the traditional story of Samson and Delilah from the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible — the story of a man of great faith who helps the Hebrew people free themselves from the Philistines. The problem is that Samson has difficulty freeing himself from his own desire for the ever-seductive Delilah. The opera is not too far off the mark.

As we sat waiting for the opera to start, I thumbed through the program reading about the artists, the contributors, the advertisers, etc. While reading the synopsis, written by John W. Freeman and provided courtesy of Opera News, I was struck by something unusual. “The outer walls of the temple disappear to reveal Samson’s former lover, the Philistine woman Dalila, who invites him to come that nigh to her nearby dwelling.” Wait, back up… Samson’s what? Two words explain a lot: “former lover.” He left her so she is the jilted lover! Hello?!? Duh!

We all have heard that expression that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Is she evil like we have always been led to believe? I think not! She’s an emotionally wounded, ego-battered woman. Get it? Hell hath no fury like Dalila’s. She’s beyond that. In short, Samson’s in big trouble and he probably deserves it.

All of that aside, the director’s note in the program tells us that this opera began as an oratorio, a musical work for voice and orchestra that tells a sacred story without the use of costumes, scenery or dramatic action. The director, William Florescu, says that this presents a challenge for a director. I can also say that the melodic content of this work, or the lack thereof, is the start of the challenges that this opera presents. Fortunately, this particular detail has no reflection on the singers, the orchestra, or the director. It just is what it is. The role of Samson was a personal disappointment for me, not the least of which was the voice. If someone thinks that voice was a tenor, my favorite of the male vocal ranges, I would hate to see what they consider to be a baritone.

Hats Off to HOT!

Take heart! All is not lost! The soprano voice of Malgorzata Walewska, playing Dalila, was powerful and in full control of the music and the role. Her control of the lower ranges of her part made up for a lot. I held my breath waiting for her voice to waver or crack and make me cringe. It never did. I have to remind myself here that this is a vocally-trained individual. I think I’ve been watching too much American Idol.

The chorus was wonderful and the orchestra was perfect! The costumes, props and stage set were appropriate, very well put together and manipulated seamlessly for the audience. The lighting was fantastic and used in a very effective away — creating moods and plot-related thoughts that would never have been there without it!

Overall, I give huge kudos to Hawaii Opera Theatre for making an attractive, artistic event out of something that could have easily flopped without their careful and talented oversight. If you’re an opera fan and planning to be in Honolulu between now and March 6th, Don Giovanni and Madama Butterfly are up next! Please support the arts!

Aren’t Fire Hydrants for Dogs?

One would like to think that if a fire hydrant is not being used to put out fires, ithydrant.jpg should only then be used by the neighborhood canines. Last year, however, some people had a different idea and were actually seen walking around with them. Why would anyone steal a fire hydrant?!? They wanted the copper. I didn’t even know that there was copper inside of fire hydrants, but there is. Who would have thought of such a thing? Who would have cared? The criminal element looking to make a fast buck seems to care a lot.

Copper theft! That’s how it started — with the fire hydrants, but then these vandals, thieves, or whatever you want to call them, went after the street lights and took the copper wiring from inside of those. This left portions of the freeway in darkness. Last summer, these morons darkened seventy street lights along the H-2 freeway. Apparently the demand, and hence the cost, of metal has gone up significantly and some have seen fit to take advantage of it.

There were arrests made last year but all the culprits received in the way of punishment was a one-year jail sentence and five years of probation, or something like that. Needless to say, after this off-the-wall copper theft cost the city over $200,000, prosecutors were not happy with the light sentence that the perpetrators received. The worst part of the whole thing is that the heists are continuing, and in broad daylight! I am just amazed at the audacity of these losers! Get a job!

Until the city is able to stop this nonsense, be advised that if your pooch is going for a walk in the evening, he may not be able to find his favorite fire hydrant. It might be missing altogether. Of course, even if it’s there, the street might be too dark for fido to see it anyway.

But It’s Just a Cemetery, Right?

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl is, for me, one of those places that are taken for granted by residents. I really wanted to talk about O’ahu cemetery, which I will later, but I had to do Punchbowl first… just because. Even though I was born and raised on the island of O’ahu I had never been to a funeral there, never stepped foot on the soil there, never drove through the gates, never that is… until last week.

Geographically, this cemetery is located right in the middle of everything on Pu’owaina Drive in Pu’owaina Crater. This crater is an extinct volcano in the area often referred to simply as Punchbowl. Likewise, the cemetery is often referred to simply as Punchbowl Cemetery, since “National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific” is such a mouthful. 

Gazing into the cemetery from the front gates, there is a huge stone statue set back against the side of the crater. Thinking it a statue of Christ, I didn’t really think anything of it except that I thought it strange to be so large in a military cemetery. I can’t imagine any burial place being more non-denominational than a military one. As I got closer and my gaze became more focused I realized that the statue was not who I thought it was.  

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Move Over Geico Gecko

As much as I love that little Geico gecko, he has to move over for these guys. In 2004 the Kapiolani Health Foundation put together a way to decorate Honolulu and draw attention to women’s health issues. It worked and it was the talk of the town for several months.

Geckos in Paradise, as it was called, was labeled “Hawaii’s first ever community outdoor art exhibition and charity fundraising event.” This all-over-town exhibit made its debut in October, National Breast Cancer awareness month.

For the most part these guys hang out with their sponsors, which are made up of Honolulu businesses, non-profits and individuals. Every once in a while, just like a gecko does, they appear where you least expect them. That’s when I try to grab a picture because they are so darn cute! This Bank of Hawaii sponsored gecko stayed at the beach for far too long before finding his way home!

I know these are way too many pictures but I have to include this patriotic gentlemen sponsored by, and living at, the Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki. Some nice person decided to make him a tourist and gave him a lei and a lauhala hat to wear. While picking my mother up one evening, he was just too much for me to pass up.

These reptiles are five feet long, made of fiberglass and have been individually painted by various local artists. The picture off to the left should give you some idea of size. This one looks like he is about to jump on the unsuspecting woman sitting quietly on a bench in Honolulu’s downtown business district. There are fifty of these colorful works of art, which is way too many for me to include here. So, I think you should go see all fifty of them for yourself!