Entries Tagged as 'Environment/Ecosystem'

City & County Department Protects Our Home

Where do I go?  Where do we all go?  Did anybody else know that the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Environmental Services (the ENV) does and is doing smoke testing?  Does anybody else even know what smoke testing is?!?  Am I the only clueless one?  Maybe I am, I don’t know.  Anyway, I checked into it and now I’m sharing it with anyone else who did not know the City and County of Honolulu is working hard for all of us and for our home!

Dump No Waste signed carved into sidewalkYou know how we’re always concerned about our ocean and water supplies?

Smoke testing is a proactive, preventative approach to protecting our environment from any more dreaded sewage spills.  The ENV (Department of Environmental Services) pumps smoke into the sewage lines and checks the lines for leaking smoke.  What a great idea!  They use smoke to find leakages and/or breaks rather than using some kind of liquid to further complicate matters.

Wait, wait, wait — relax, don’t get all nervous.  The smoke “is non-toxic, harmless and has minimal odor.  The smoke is not a fire hazard and does not pose a health hazard to humans or pets.”  This smoke will lead the workers to any breaks in the lines that may allow the runoff from heavy rains to infiltrate the sewage lines, further inundate the treatment plants, and ultimately create an overflow situation.   This kind of testing has apparently been going on for about four years.  Where was I?

Canal Drain

I couldn’t really find many appropriate pictures except ones that show how we need to pump up our care of our water — both fresh and ocean.

Trash in water of canal

Pretty yucky, huh?  These are just to prove a point about just how important the protection of our environment has become.

Since my pictures don’t help much with the explanation of the sewage project I’m talking about, let’s be sure we understand this clearly.  It’s not just the leaks where things can get out of the lines; it’s for the prevention of things liCurbside Drainke excessive rain water from getting in to these lines.  If there are places with illegal hook-ups to the sewer system or places where excessive rainwater can get into the line, we could end up with a sewage system finding itself overloaded beyond its capacity.

Remember the Ala Wai?  Something like that. I was not happy and I know a lot of others were even worse.  Was there really an alternative?  Probably not.  The Public Communications Officer over at the Department of Environmental Services pointed that out to me and, while I’ve finally resigned myself to accepting the fact that there were few or no other options, I’m still not happy about it.  Let’s set up a way to avoid having the same thing happen again!

That Public Communications Officer actually returned my call.  He probably thought I was crazy but then he’s just as crazy as I am because he was checking his voice mail on a Sunday!

I just think that this is some of the coolest news I’ve heard in quite some time.  There are places that are “broken” so let’s fix them before they create another sewage fiasco!

They were working in Wahiawa when I read about them.  I guess they’ll be making the rounds.  There are an awful lot of pipelines on this island and this is quite a project!  There are a lot of things that I disapprove of but this is a project that I am happy to spend my tax dollar on!

Working on the sewers and the sewage system has got to be a thankless job.  I’m here to say that I am both very proud and so very grateful for all they’re doing.  Hats off to our protectors over and the City & County of Honolulu’s ENV — “Mahalo!” you guys for caring about our home!

If I’ve missed something or not stated something correctly, please feel free to correct me in the comments below.  Please?  I’m more than happy to receive those corrections.  That way, everyone can benefit from the knowledge you have to share and we can all better understand all of what you guys are doing for us.  Seriously!

Historical Firsts at Hanauma Bay

This wonderful tourist attraction has come a long way.  Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is like swimming in a giant, salt-water aquarium.  There’s just something about snorkeling with all of those fish!

Hanauma Bay just before sunset

I remember the feeling, especially as a young child, of being in another world while swimming with those fish.  At that age you’re so taken by the underwater world that you forget you’re actually just floating at the surface of the water like a big fat jelly fish.   A kid’s imagination can fill volumes.

Of course, at that young age, we also thought we were immune to danger and we heeded few warnings.  We would make that trek around the rocky perimeter to get to the “toilet bowl.”  Do keep in mind that this is based on an approximately 35-year-old memory.

YouTube Preview Image

It wasn’t the flushing part we wanted so much, it was the fast rising to the top that was the fun part. The videos on YouTube seem to be mostly of teenagers and adults, or so it seems. I was about 8 or 9 years old (stop doing the math). Like I said, we were immune to the dangers and fearless. 🙂

This particular video had a comment with it that said, Old stomping grounds… Can’t wait to go back!!!” and I can certainly relate to that statement. Thank you mtnbiker04 for capturing this great memory.

It was great fun to have that natural bowl of lavarock and coral throw you back up. Maybe they should have called it the “vomit bowl” or something. Okay, that name would not have been quite so attractive; “toilet bowl” is not the most attractive name either. Over the years, it seems that the waves have made the rim of the bowl smoother than it was back then.

Other things have changed, too.  When we frequented Hanauma Bay all those years ago, there was no building with all of this great educational information.  Suddenly, okay maybe not so suddenly, there’s a whole meeting room with exhibits to see and share.

Tile wall at entrance

This building appeared out of nowhere, it seems, and they even took the time to install this lovely ceramic-tile mural.  This is the Hanauma Bay Education Center.  Where was I?  I’ll admit that the East side of O’ahu received little to no attention from me over the 80’s and 90’s but I was a little busy with college, growing up and figuring out how to earn a living, and other boring stuff like that.

Hanauma Bay TimelineA walk through this Education Center will give you a quick lesson about a portion of the history of Hawai’i while getting a detailed history of Hanauma Bay.  There is a tremendous amount of information here that I found quite amazing.  In 1950 the City & County of Honolulu set aside $150,000 to dig up three swimming holes (I thought these were natural occurrences) and make improvements to the park which quickly became one of Honolulu’s most popular places for residents and visitors.

The next to the last picture on the right-hand side of this photo of the timeline shows some kind of blast.  No, it’s not World War II!  If you get close enought to read the text you find that it’s actually a blast to put us in contact with the rest of the world.  In 1956 a channel was blasted through Hanauma Bay for the installation of the very first transpacific telephone cable reaching from Hawai’i to California!

It sounds so destructive but it created a wonderful place for us and a very welcome environment for the most colorful fish and other marine life!  Another important tidbit of information to be found here is that Hanauma Bay became Hawai’i’s first Marine Life Conservation District in 1967.  Based on these descriptions and my own time line, I would have to say that this is the Hanauma Bay of my past.  This is the one that was created for the enjoyment of the generation that would follow — my generation.

The educational material certainly does not stop with the time line.  There are exhibits of different cultural items related to life in Hawai’i and how the ocean is so much a part of that life.  There are displays of woven fishing baskets and the hooks that were used for fishing so very long ago.  Then we get to one of the most important aspects for this venue, a great amount of detailed information about what helps make Hanauma Bay the bay what it is — coral!

Coral exhibit

The education doesn’t stop here.  The best part is that efforts have been made to further educate the public with talks, films and guest speakers.  The UH Sea Grant Hanauma Bay Education Program, managed by the University of Hawaii’s Sea Grant College Program, has put together these educational films and quest speakers to share their knowledge and information about the jobs they do.  Here is a calendar of events to help you plan your Thursday evenings.

For more information, interested parties can either call (808) 397-5840, visit the Hanauma Bay Education Program website, or ask about being added to Shawn Carrier’s email notification list.  Shawn is an Outreach Education Specialist with the UH Sea Grant Hanauma Bay Education Program and he’s always willing to add you to the list.  My experience in this area has always been good.  He’s going to love me for doing this but I think he’ll get over it.  The more people we can educate the better.

Yes, Hanauma Bay is on the map for travel guides and yes there is much to learn, protect and admire about this natural treasure.  But for life-time residents it’s part of the history of our home and, for some of us, the history of our lives.  We’ve lived part of the history of our home.  You don’t realize the significance of this kind of thing until, well, until it becomes historical.  Man, I feel old.  I told you guys to stop doing the math!  🙂

Who’s Biting Who?

Are sharks wrongly accused?  We don’t often think of them as gentle, peaceful creatures.  These black-tip, reef sharks certainly look peaceful here — swimming around quietly with the other fish in their aquatic home at the Waikiki Aquarium.  If anything, you might even call them friendly.   

Two black-tip reef sharks swim quietly at Waikiki Aquarium

The ones at Sea Life Park hide at the bottom of the tank during the daylight hours but these guys swim by and glance at admirers with mild curiosity.   I remember the first time I saw them up close and personal like this.  I was beside myself with awe and admiration and couldn’t take my eyes off of them.  Even now the sight of them nearly has me in tears. 

Obviously, I’m not the only nut case that has an attraction to this particular ocean creature.  Bobbie, over at The Right Blue, can share the drama from a fish’s-eye view.  Nobody shares the water more intimately with the sharks and the other aquatic wildlife, more than divers do. With that in mind, nobody can feel the pangs of animal cruelty like a diver can either!

The underside of a shark swimming overhead

Yes, they are scary to behold but that’s because some fiction writers (love them as I do) and our own beloved Hollywood movie makers have distorted the true character of these aquatic marvels in the interest of providing us with some great entertainment. 

The truth of it is, these ocean dwellers have little to no interest in us.  We taste junk!  They obvioulsy don’t know our race very well because they mistake us for seals and sea lions and the like.  In other words, they mistake us for lunch.    In reality, their biggest danger is us. 

We need them.  They are essential to the balance of the ecosystem and without them our oceans may end up like so many swamp lands that are either tarnished, polluted, or completely destroyed after the upheaval of their environmental balance.  There have been instances where the loss of just one essential life form was enough to throw the entire ecological system of an area out of whack.  

My philosophy is that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  Our attempts at “fixing” things are exactly what’s leaving them broken!  Our sharks may be joining the humpback whales on the endangered species list if we’re not careful.  Remember insisting on buying dolphin-safe tuna?  We’re going to need a new label soon:  “Dolphin & Shark-Safe” tuna!  

Terroristic Weather Report

Why am I writing this?  I have no idea.  Well, I had all of these pictures to start a blog post or two and I just have to talk about things that annoy me.  I have to admit, this all took some thinking on my part because the series and sequence of events all blended together at some point.  Let’s go back a few weeks and take it from the start.  Back on December 26th, Oahu’s power lines were hit by lightening.  They say lightening doesn’t strike twice but Hawaiian Electric Company took it in the electrical wires five (5), yes five times that day.

Kahe Point Power Plant

HECO Finds the Cause

I’m glad that Hawaiian Electric Company was able to pinpoint just how this calamity happened.  I will agree that nobody likes a company that sends them bills in the mail.  But, oddly enough, I’ve felt the need to jump in and back HECO up on this.  Mother Nature does what Mother Nature wants and I’m afraid HECO was outflanked this time.  Most people were out of power for something over 12 hours — it was 20+ hours for us.  I have no problem being without power for a while but I really hate throwing away all of that food.  Ugh!  In spite of it all, HECO still offered to provide financial restitution to those who apply for it.

Mother Nature the Terrorist

We’ve been through a sufficient amount of natural disasters recently that have left some areas a little shell-shocked.  there have been heavy rains causing some very damaging flooding, we’ve had high winds taking the roofs off houses, and there have been combination storms that have kept us in the dark for several hours.  Now that these events are over and we’re sufficiently on edge, what happens when the weather service warns of a windy storm on its way?  State officials and the Department of Education decide to close all public schools.  “They what?!?” They never did that when I was in school!  We always braved the wind, rain, waves, mud, etc.  It did not take long for the private and charter schools to follow suit.  Fine, whatever.

Wait, it gets better.  All State and City & County offices are closed!  “You have GOT to be kidding me!”  Let’s see, Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day so the general consensus was that they all wanted a four-day weekend.  Fine, whatever. What happened on that Friday?  Nothing.  No hurricane.  Maybe a drizzle, maybe not.  Traffic was a lot lighter.

A Trashy Day Off

Road Work Ahead sign

Absolutely amazing.  Road work?  It’s a holiday; what are they talking about?  Who put that sign there?  I’m nosy, I need to know.  I don’t see any road work, they must have forgotten to pick the sign up during the week — maybe they left in there on Friday when they were suddenly closed for the day.

Surprise!  They were indeed on the road side, on a holiday, picking up somebody’s opala (trash) that was dumped unceremoniously on the side of the road.

This stuff fries me!  It’s bad enough when people dump garbage and abandon vehicles in obscure locations, but when they dump it on the side of the road in a residential area, especially a rural relief area (that’s what I call them) that exists so very close to the city but is still so very peaceful and simple, it absolutely makes my blood boil!  Dump it in your own damn yard, you slobs!  Grrrr!

When I saw what was going on and successfully checked my temper, I realized that I needed to talk about this.  It took me all of about thirty seconds to turn my car around and head back to take these photos.  Doing so rattled the City & County workers.  Does that make me the terrorist?  🙂  I think I’ve mentioned before that people are afraid of cameras.  But, when they heard my snarky reaction to the whole thing, they happily joined my rant and understood the intent.

City & County of Honolulu truck

This is what was left after they filled their trucks the first time.  They reassured me they would be back for the rest but this gives you some idea of just what a big pile it was.  A comment was also made that citizens like us hire people to do a job, pay to have the trash hauled away, and this is where it ends up.  It’s hauled away alright but I’m sure the homeowner did not have this kind of disposal in mind!

Opala tossed on the side of the street

You know, if you’re doing a job that requires this kind of heavy hauling and disposal and you do not want to pay the fees at the dump, I suggest that you find some other line of work.  Those fees are part of the cost of doing business.  They are a legitimate, tax-deductible, business expense.  But then again, maybe you don’t pay your taxes either?  There was something else that troubled me — there seemed to be more than one line of business here.  There was a lot of flooring debris making up this pile but there were also several cans of paint.  Those paint cans do look old.  Alright, I suppose a homeowner could have done this themselves.  Auwe!

Opala sliding down towards the river

The City & County workers were the ones who pointed out that I “should see what’s over the wall.”  The river is right below this and we wonder why there are so many signs about dumping and cautions about contaminated water?

For the record, later that same day I saw a State employee leaving the Capitol and I said, “Don’t tell me you guys are working?”

“Yep, only half-day though. Since we had Friday off we came in to work half-day.”

Aha!  So they guilted themselves into working on the Monday holiday to make up for what didn’t happen on Friday.  Okay, you guys are forgiven.

Shore breaks off Maile

There may have been a storm but this is where it really went.  The only real evidence of any storm that I saw was the kicking shore breaks on the west side of Oahu, a nice 30+ miles away from where the City & County was taking away all of that trash.  The water looked so inviting but the warning signs and little orange flags kept everyone out of the water.  Just watching the water and smelling the salt air is enough to make us forget the problems and focus on the beauty that is our home. Why did I write this?  I don’t remember.

Do We Have Cabin Fever?

Dove of Peace

Normally I would just ignore a story like this but I decided to read it.  I’m still angry about the so-called “hunter” who killed someone’s pet not too long ago.  This time is different.  An officer, charged with keeping the peace and protecting the environment for the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, overstepped his bounds. I need to side with the hunters and their families on this one. 

I used italics and quotes around the word hunters at the beginning of this post because the idiot who killed someone’s pet was anything but!  He was stupid, obnoxious, on private property, and a slew of other things I could say.  I grew up around people who hunted regularly and  something like that was unheard of! 

I never liked the sport because I tend to hate anything that involves the killing of animals.  But, we really need to look at the big picture.  The goal is to catch the animal, not to torture it.  The animal is not discarded, it is used to feed those who are lucky enough to benefit from such a catch.   I speak from experience when I tell you that wild boar blows away the fatty pork you buy in the grocery store! It makes the best laulau. 

Okay, all of that aside, we need to remember that the wild pigs on Oahu are not indigenous to our islands, they are destructive to our rain forests, and they probably have a huge hand in all those leptospirosis warning signs we see posted near many of our rivers.  In short, the hunters (the real ones) are doing us a favor.   

I will say that, yes, on one reported occassion, there were youngsters who broke the rules and were trespassing.  Those rules are there to protect our property and safety.  Agreed.  But, I’m sorry, you don’t pull a gun on a bunch of minors because they were being stupid.  What was he thinking?!?  I am also of like opinion with those sharing the details that a loose canon like that should not be carrying a gun, nevermind any other kind of weapon.   

Let’s see, I do believe that the Honolulu Police Department would classify that as assault and terroristic threatening.  Even HPD would not hire an abusive person like that.  In the real world, we all know that you don’t uphold the law by behaving like a criminal yourself! 

If the DLNR officer in question is that caustic and confrontational, he should join the Army and go to Afghanistan.  This is not a war zone, it’s a community — a crowded one where tempers do flare, but it is a community nonetheless.  

Sending out a special aloha to Ollie Lunasco, the current President of the Oahu Pig Hunters Association, and to the community on the North Shore that I don’t write nearly enough about.  I have to admire you guys for standing up for what’s right and for following up and not just letting it slide — that’s a Neighborhood Watch at its best!   

Great Outdoors and Rambunctious Drivers!

I miss the Jeeps I used to see all over the place.  They don’t seem as popular nowadays.  Maybe that’s because Oahu doesn’t have as many rocky, Jeep-appropriate places anymore.  Sigh.  I used to terrorize my poor little car right after getting out of high school.  I would take the poor thing over the roughest terrain! 

Yep, I was climbing mountains as far as my little car could go.  Jeeps weren’t popular with my parents either.  Shucks!  My poor little Datsun (that’s a Nissan for those who don’t remember the Datsun make of car)  is gone now, but the desire to do the rugged, outdoors thing still remains!  

Black Jeep-like Vehicle

When you think of outdoors you think of hiking, biking, running and waterfalls! Kauai! Kauai would be a fun place to have a Jeep! Wailua Bay Car Rentals has Kauai Jeep Rentals!   Now that’s what you call a sports utility vehicle!  Okay, a bumpy ride but still a fun one!  I would love to drive one again.  Especially since I can’t go four-wheeling with my Datsun anymore.

If I ever move up in the economic world, I suppose my choice of recreational vehicle will have to be a Jeep.  As much as I love the motorcycles, I’m a coward and, I’ll admit it, a not-so-safe driver.  Hey, at least I’m honest.  Besides, you still get the wind through your hair with a Jeep, just with fewer tangles!

Now, if the people over at Wailua Bay ever read this, they’ll be sure to require insurance if I ever try to rent a Jeep from them!   But then, if I’m on Kauai, I be a tourist!  A kama’aina, yes, but a tourist nonetheless!  They do have other Kauai Car Rentals so don’t worry about that.  Of course, they also have rentals on Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Molokai.  Hmmm… Oahu huh?  Do you think they should be worried?  🙂

Okay, now that I’ve scared them, I will share that they also have Kauai Vacation Rentals — right on the beach!   Now they won’t slam the door in my face when I try to rent my Jeep from them.  If you’re venturing to Kauai, call them at 1-800-591-8605! 

Species Preservation and Protection of the Honu

Indigenous to the State of Hawaii, the Green Sea Turtle or Honu, has been a much beloved creature for many, many years. The charm of this gentle sea creature, along with the fact that it is regarded as one of the ‘aumakua from Hawaiian mythology, has made the honu a popular resident.

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle

They really do make great neighbors! They’re quiet, slow-moving, and they simply stop over for a suntan and a nap near coastal homes. These herbivores have seen a revival in popularity in recent years. Stores and small shops carry their image on many kinds of goods. There are earrings and necklaces, statues and stationary, and stickers for just about anything you can put a sticker on, including automobiles.

Pretty Shells

They are seen on shore in several places, resting, or basking if you will, and keeping the beaches company. They come close to shore to eat the seaweed found there. It is illegal to disturb or approach them. Well, it was. They were considered a threatened species and have been protected by both the Federal Government and the State Government. The word is out that this may not continue much longer.

Tortoise with a turquoise shell

The good news is, they have recovered! Apparently they have recovered quite nicely because there is talk out there about removing them from the endangered/threatened species list. I have mixed emotions about this. While I’m happy they have recovered in number, it concerns me that they may end up right back on that list before we know it.

Hawaii is not the only place that protects this animal. Places like Honu.org may have more to report down the road but, for now, I haven’t heard anything except speculation by the media. Time will tell and I will keep you posted!

“Stop Rail Now” Opens Office

Before zoning out and letting my mind wander off on Monday, I did manage to focus for just a bit so that I could check in on the grand opening of the Stop Rail Now office.

Petition Sign

Stop Rail Now Co-Chairs

Some people seem to think that the rail will be a good addition to our landscape and that it will help alleviate the problems with transportation and traffic. I don’t think so.

I’m sorry but I am inclined to be more supportive of the research done by the staff at the University of Hawaii and I will go with those who are in the know rather than those looking to make a name for themselves. I will even go so far as to say that if you work downtown, or nearby, and if you’re a registered voter, go ahead and print out the petition, send me a message or leave a comment here so that I can contact you. I will collect them from you and deliver them to the Stop Rail Now office myself!

We have the right to vote on this project! Get your co-workers to sign it too! As long as this is what people want to do and as long as they’re registered to vote, then go for it!

Supporters milling around after grand opening

This movement is not without its supporters, as you can see. If you have questions or need assistance, contact the office at (808) 536-4384.

627 South StreetWe have to maintain the beauty of our island! Honolulu has just been rated as the “greenest city in the nation.” I think we should focus more on keeping it that way and focus on keeping our skyline free of rail tracks and other mechanical paraphernalia.

At the very least it is a decision that should be made by the citizens as a whole, not unilaterally by a hired official.

Stop Rail Now
627 South Street, Suite 4
Honolulu, HI 96813

Nature, Warnings and Contemplation

On Memorial Day most normal people do normal things.  They visit the cemetery, they watch news reports about the National commemorations and celebrations, they go on picnics or to the beach, etc.  I, on the other hand, go running and exploring places I didn’t know were there.

Kitty in the Brush

As I meandered around, somewhat tuned out and in a mental zone I found what may have been a feral cat staring at me from the brush along side a rather steep ditch.  He may have just wandered away from home to explore like me, but he looked pretty odd there in that spot, just staring at me.  Oh, oh… not too far away, there might be lunch!

Red Cardinal in the Brush

I spotted this bright fellow in the brush not too far away from the kitty in the brush.  I don’t think the cat saw Mr. Cardinal though.

Pool in the river looks like perfect swimming hole.

Then I saw this — wow! So pretty, so serene, so…. (screeeeeeach)  There’s that sound of the phonograph needle scratching the record again!

Here’s what we have instead:

Health Hazard Warning Sign

I’ve grown to hate the sight of this sign.  As soon as I see something pretty and inviting I always seem to be greeted by one of these warnings!

Oh well, at least someone is keeping us safe.  It’s still pretty to look at — even though it’s very close to the highway.  You would never think there was so much beauty that people speed by every day.  It’s a great place for contemplation.  A great place to think about something, or about nothing.  All this can be accomplished while trying not to get run over or annoy drivers.

The Vog is Clearing Over Oahu

The sky is looking pretty clear, at least for the time being. Our tradewinds returned yesterday afternoon and, while still very present, the vog started to dissipate.

This Sunday morning I can look out the window and comfortably say that it is not raining.  Recently, I have had to look down at the street to see if it was wet.  This morning, the sky is blue and the asphalt is dry!

Looking Up the Pali

These pictures show what it looked like at the end of the last week.

Vog over the Freeway

Even the afternoon traffic was looking like the beginning of the holiday season with everyone heading out for shopping or an evening football game. It’s the afternoon; headlights are not supposed to be so bright!

Looking Windward

It looks like rain but it’s bone dry.  After walking for a while and waiting for droplets it suddenly dawned on me that I was standing in the middle of it.  I assume that the vog will all come back as soon as the trades stop blowing, but for now, we’ll enjoy the clear sky.

I don’t remember it ever being like this and I have heard even people in the media say the same.  While it does make for beautiful sunrises and sunsets, I think we’re done with the novelty of it all.  I’m sure those with breathing problems and the parents with asthmatic children are very done!   I just worry about how people on the island of Hawaii deal with it!  Maybe it all floats away from there and wafts over to linger over the rest of the islands.  How’s the air on Maui anyway?