Archive for the ‘Hawaii’ Category

A fond Aloha to Aloha Airlines

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

I know I wasn’t the only one shocked to find out that Aloha Airlines abruptly stopped flying on Monday.   

At least for most of the 80s and 90s, Aloha was our family’s airline. We never considered flying interisland on anything other than one of Aloha’s 737s.

Things have changed, though. In recent years, Hawaiian has earned some loyalty from me, partly because it is one of only two airlines that fly nonstop to what has become my second spiritual home, Portland. And some of that transpacific loyalty has rubbed off on the interisland end. The last time I flew to Maui was on Hawaiian. I figured, may as well have all my HawaiianMiles in one place and one day take an Oregon vacation on Hawaiian’s dime. But then again, I can actually count, on one hand, the number of times I’ve flown interisland since 9-11, so we hadn’t given any interisland carrier too many of our dollars anyway.

I’ve never flown go!, and considering the measured opinions of one porn-loving ex-CFO of theirs, I don’t think I ever will.

I do remember the last time I flew Aloha. It was back in 2005, to and from Las Vegas (I booked via Hotwire so I didn’t know it was Aloha until after the fact). When Aloha first announced transpacific service, some people had doubts about a two-engine plane (like a long-range 737) making a transpacific flight in one piece. But make it in one piece it did…going and coming. And the narrow-body did give it a bit of a cozy feel. No charge to use the headset (in fact, you could take it with you). And warm chocolate chip cookies going and coming back.

I liked it. Unfortunately, I haven’t made a trip back to Las Vegas since. And Aloha stopped non-stops between Las Vegas and Honolulu.

There is some hope. Transportation carriers have shut down and been resurrected (if only partially) in recent memory. Howard Dicus of KGMB9 News opines:

Even now I wouldn’t rule out a relaunch of Aloha by a new owner using more fuel-efficient jets. I haven’t looked into their economic ability to manage such a deal this year but from an operational point of view it would be interesting to see such a deal with Southwest, Alaska or JetBlue. I would add JAL, ANA or even Qantas, KAL or PAL, but there is a U.S. law barring majority ownership of a U.S. airline by foreign interests.

He thinks that Aloha may have found a buyer with more time, given their on-time record, customer satisfaction, strong customer loyalty, and other intangibles.

Also, there is still a little matter of a lawsuit by Aloha against go!, and assuming that Aloha the company is still in existence, that lawsuit is probably Aloha’s to lose (given that Hawaiian has already done much of the heavy lifting for them). Should they prevail, the damages that would be awarded to Aloha should be enough to lease some fuel-efficient jets to get them back in business.

Bottom line, I agree with Howard. I really don’t think it’s adieu, but rather au revoir. Just like Superman doesn’t mean much without Lex Luthor, I can probably think of several pairs of corporate opposites here in Hawaii:

  • Advertiser vs. Star-Bulletin
  • HMSA vs. Kaiser
  • Bank of Hawaii vs. First Hawaiian

But of them, Hawaiian vs. Aloha is probably the most storied of them all. Competition between the two led both airlines to be consistently ranked #1 and #2 in the nation in on-time performance. “Hawaiian time” applied everyplace BUT the interisland planes. And both had fiercely loyal customer bases.

Mark my words. One day, when the economy is better and credit is easier to come by (and it looks like Mesa is having trouble too…can we say, what goes around, comes around?), we may see a rebirth of Aloha Airlines the brand.

For now, though, the state suddenly has 1,900 more unemployed people than it did last week. My heart goes out to all the Aloha workers.

Aloha, Aloha.  We’ll miss you.

UPDATE 4/2 11:09pm: And now I find out that ATA has gone under too. Yikes.

What’s with those overpasses?

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

It was just two weeks ago, on January 17, that toddler Cyrus Belt fell onto the H-1 freeway, allegedly with the help of (apparently) mentally unbalanced Matthew Higa. Of course, that’s bad enough as it is. But what’s worse is that this event has apparently inspired at least three adults to throw themselves onto the freeway, one of whom actually succeeded in her apparent suicide attempt.

Almost one week to the moment, on the 24th (via the Advertiser’s story the next day):

A woman in her 30s suffered serious injuries after jumping from an H-1 Freeway overpass in Waipahu yesterday afternoon, officials said.

The incident happened shortly before 4 p.m. at the Waipahu Street overpass. The woman jumped onto the east-bound lanes of the H-1, police said.

Emergency medical personnel took the woman to The Queen’s Medical Center in serious condition at 3:59 p.m., emergency services spokesman Bryan Cheplic said.

Some east-bound lanes on the freeway were closed, police Sgt. Lui Pestana said. Traffic was snarled, but the freeway was reopened before 4:45 p.m.

Then yesterday, the 30th, saw two such attempts. In the wee hours of the morning:

A woman in her 30s died early yesterday after she was found lying in the middle of a street in Kalihi below the H-1 freeway.

Police received a call at 3:42 a.m. about a woman walking in the Koko Head direction on the Waianae-bound side of the H-1 near the Vineyard Boulevard/Halona Street onramp. It was unclear whether she was in a lane of traffic or on the shoulder.

Shortly afterward, police received a call about a woman lying in the middle of Halona Street. Police said the woman apparently fell from the freeway onto Halona Street. Preliminary investigation revealed no signs that the woman was hit by a vehicle, police said.

The woman, who has not yet been identified, was taken in critical condition to the Queen’s Medical Center, where she later died. Police said they found no witnesses. The case has been classified as an unattended death.

And just last night:

Police shut down westbound lanes of the H-1 freeway last night after someone apparently jumped off the Liliha overpass.

Bryan Cheplic, spokesman for the Emergency Services Department, said a man in his 50s was taken to the Queen’s Medical Center in critical condition.

Police diverted traffic off the freeway at the School Street and Vineyard offramps after the 7:19 p.m. incident. Police shut down the Punchbowl, School Street and Lunalilo onramps. Lanes were reopened at about 8:30 p.m.

Much has been said about Cyrus Belt, and the focus has been on the apparent neglect on the part of his caregivers, and how to prevent such tragedies from happening to another child. That’s all well and good, but given what has transpired over the past few weeks, if we really want a lasting legacy for Cyrus Belt, I really think the best way is to get the Department of Transportation to install high fencing on all freeway overpasses that carry pedestrian traffic.

I don’t think Matthew Higa, or whoever, would have climbed a 10-foot fence to drop anything over the edge. And who knows? The life this saves could be yours…or mine…or your baby’s.

Just a thought.

Perfection! From 0-12 to 12-0 in nine years

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

I remember when.

I remember when we last had the “perfect season,” in 1998.  A perfect mess.  Zero wins, twelve losses.  19 losses over two seasons.

And now, nine years later, I sit here having witnessed the absolute antipode of that season.  Hawaii finishes with twelve wins, zero losses.  Just plain perfection. 

And I saw this regular season come to a close, like so many times this past season, in a cliffhanger.  An underdog team, climbing the rankings, winning game after game and not getting the respect they deserve, playing in the most important game of their season.  They find themselves down 21-0.  It seems like the carriage would turn back into a pumpkin. But the team refused to say die.  They fought the team to a standstill, brought it back even, then took the lead in the last two minutes of the game.  Finally, their opponents bring it to their 3-yard line…and our heroes get an interception in the end zone.

An ending worth of an Academy Award best picture. Not even the best screenplay writers in Hollywood could come up with a better ending.

Actually, the story is not over yet.  The best ending would be a BCS berth, and then, like Boise State before them, winning the game and capping off the season in major fashion.

This is an exciting time for the University of Hawaii, and the best is yet to come.

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Divided by a Ferry, United by Football

Friday, November 30th, 2007

I’ve been watching the Hawaii Warriors rise up the standings, to the Western Athletic Conference championship and the doorstep of the Bowl Championship Series. I was there in the stadium when Colt Brennan took that hit to the head, and listened with bated breath as I heard the play-by-play of the Warriors’ breaking the Boise State Broncos. And one word describes it.

Remarkable.

Since June Jones inherited a 0-12 program and turned it into a 9-3 contender in just one year, we knew that we had something special on our hands. With all the controversy that has surrounded the man, the fact remains that the Miracle Worker of Manoa has worked wonders. And the miracles continue, taking a disgraced quarterback who was kicked off Colorado and, in three years, turning him into a Heisman Trophy contender and the leader of an offense that has dropped only one game in the last 22.

Never underestimate the power of athletics. Professional sports have been pioneers in racial integration, long before civil rights. North and South Korea have united under a single banner in international competition. And June Jones and Colt Brennan have, if only for a moment, re-united a state on the verge of civil war. OK, granted, that’s an exaggeration. It’s definitely not as bad as Iraq, but recent events have brought divisions to light, divisions at least as big as the channels between the islands.

When I read the stories in the news about the Superferry controversy, I had a thought…that what Kamehameha I accomplished in 15 years (between 1795 and 1810), the Superferry could undo in less than a month. Seeing the surfers blockading Nawiliwili Harbor brought to mind images of Tiananmen Square; the dissident student against the government tank. The environmental issues aside, it brought to light a hard fact. We live on islands. Islands imply isolation. And isolation can lead to fear and distrust of others; in this case, a fear of invasive species, over-development, and the Neighbor Islands becoming suburbs of Honolulu.

Healthy fears, to be sure.

But one thing I do know. When called upon, Hawaii stands behind its own. Witness the meteoric rise of Jasmine Trias through the ranks of American Idol. Not to take anything away from Jasmine and her wonderful voice, but in retrospect it really was the support of an entire state that landed her in the #3 spot.

This will no doubt happen again. We’ve all but adopted Brennan, watching as he hits his receivers with the accuracy symbolized by the firearm with which Brennan shares a name. (“Colt .15,” I like to call him.) And now, it all comes down to one game, one last opportunity to prove to the nation that we are serious. 

One thing is for sure: Come this Saturday, we’ll be seeing a state united and banding together behind its team, helping push it into a BCS bowl. Because, in a state where surfers on Kauai will risk getting run over in an attempt to stop a 350-ton boat coming from Oahu, we need something that will reunify this broken state.

Parking Turns Ugly in Kakaako, Sparks Debate

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail about CompUSA, that was forwarded from someone else, from someone else, from someone else, ad infinitum. The length of it prevents me from posting it in its entirety, but you can read it here.

Normally, I take most forwards that comes in my mailbox from this person with a grain of salt. It irritates me no end when e-mail forwards reach me telling me to do this thing or warning me that that thing is going to happen, because more often than not they’re hoaxes.

So naturally, I was skeptical at first. I couldn’t find the 24/7 Towing company mentioned in the e-mail in the phone book (either white or yellow pages), and basically said unless I found compelling evidence, I wouldn’t put much stock in that e-mail.

But then, I visited HawaiiThreads.com and this was one of the hot topics there. And apparently, there is a name and face associated with the originator of this e-mail. The Charlie who signed the e-mail is apparently one Charlene Aldinger, director of public relations at Bishop Museum, says the Honolulu Advertiser.

Apparently, her daughter parked in the lot at about 7:45 a.m. before the store opened and went across the street to get something to eat with the intention of going back to the store to get some headphones. The car was towed at 8:18 a.m. Another customer found herself in the same predicament. Turns out the car was towed all the way to Waipahu, and that’s where the fun…if you call it fun…began.

Long story short, Ms. Aldinger took about three hours to get the car (a rental, apparently) back from the impound. And then, out came the curare-tipped keyboard.
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The Hawaii Chair: Gyrating to Fitness?

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

Ryan at HawaiiBlog did a double-take when he found out about the newest gimmick that the fitness “industry” has come up with to bilk money out of unsuspecting consumers.

Introducing the Hawaii Chair:

“Anyone who has been to or seen anything on Hawaii has come across this unique dance form. The traditional Polynesian Hula dance encourages the combination of cardiovascular exercises with small, controlled movements throughout the buttocks and abdominal region, promoting weight loss and increased abdominal muscle tone.

The Hawaii chair will bring the hula dance into your office, and home… That’s right, you get all the benefits without all the hassle. No traveling to expensive classes. No wasting precious time, it’s all in your home and office. Get all the benefits and none of the fuss.”

Opines Ryan: “Huh. And here I thought the hula was an ancient, spiritual performance in which the culture and history of a dwindling indigenous population is preserved and fiercely protected by practitioners that are revered and respected. Turns out it’s just an ‘exercise’ that’s still too much work for lazy people.”

I’m with Ryan with this one. Hawaiian culture has taken cheap shots before, but this takes the cake. And at $419.94 a pop (six monthly payments of $69.99)? Goodness gracious.

My personal observations? I took a look at the video on their site and on YouTube, and it seems to me like what’s being pictured isn’t the hula at all, but rather the Tahitian tamure, which is much more gyration-oriented that hula. From what I’ve seen, hips sway in hula, but they don’t shake.

Besides, everyone knows. It’s all in the hands.

One contributor to HawaiiThreads.com likens it to “a toilet for octogenarians.”

And another contributor observes:

Hula as a weight-loss plan…yeah, I’ve seen it done as such, but I gotta tell you, many of the best dancers I’ve ever seen have been momona [Hawaiian for chubby]. They don’t gotta be skinny to be captivating and graceful.

Something that the developers of the Hawaii Chair didn’t realize. I wonder if any of them had ever been to the islands. Didn’t think so.

Since When Did Hawaiian Tel Switch My DSL Back to Dialup?

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

That’s a question I’d really like to get answered, because for the past two weeks my download speeds have been sucking wind. This is starting to piss me off.

I think it was late last month that I noticed that I was getting only half my normal download speed. Tried the normal routine when download speeds drop…reset the DSL modem. It still didn’t work. I figured it was a corroded telephone wire (I have several telephone extension cords daisy-chained from my computer to the telephone jack in the dining room), and one of the connections were rusted, so I swapped out the cord. Still, yucky speeds.

Then I found out I’m not alone. Small comfort, I guess.

Even Erika Engle, business columnist at the Star-Bulletin, remarked that her DSL connection seemed like it was “on LSD.”

Apparently, new bandwidth that HT was expected to get Wednesday may not get turned on until late next week. Argh!

What is really teeing my off is how hard it is to get information straight from the source. Verizon had a system status page that showed where in the nation network problems were occurring. How hard it would be for Hawaiian Tel to create something similar, link it off the portal page, and maintain it? I mean, sure, download speeds are not guaranteed. But if something like this is going to happen, wouldn’t it be a good idea, from a public relations point of view, to let ALL your customers know?

Maybe I should have stayed with dial-up. At least then I wouldn’t be complaining so loudly when my speed drops to 600K like I am now. My expectations have been forever changed.

Beware: Ala Wai Water May Eat You Alive

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

One word: Yecch.

When I read this story in today’s paper, it gave me the heebie-jeebies. A Honolulu mortgage broker, Oliver Johnson, is fighting for his life after a fall into the sewage-contaminated Ala Wai Boat Harbor gave him necrotizing fasciitis, otherwise known as the flesh-eating bacterium.

It reminded me of the story of a young five-year-old named Alyshia Shimizu who battled the same disease in 2000, though not under the same circumstances. She’s doing OK now, but will have to undergo skin grafts while she’s still growing.

Alyshia was lucky. Her case, which destroyed about a third of her skin, came about after a cut got infected. Johnson, however, fell into Germ Central on Friday, complained on Saturday about leg pain, was admitted to the hospital on Sunday and by Tuesday was on life support in severe septic shock. Johnson has already lost his left leg above the knee, and will likely lose the other leg and at least one arm.

Tourists: Even though the signs have been lifted, be really careful out there, and take a really good shower once you’re done swimming.

Strange Orb in Hawaiian Sky Causes Temporary Blindness

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

Hospitals in Honolulu reported numerous cases of temporary blindness after patients reported seeing a strange bright orb moving from east to west across the sky on Monday.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said ophthalmologist Terrence Aki, MD. “All that light just stunned their eyes. Fortunately, I haven’t seen any cases of permanent damage.”

Said Cy Minn, “I just couldn’t help myself. That really bright light in the sky…I just couldn’t help looking at it.”

Weather forecasters report that it could be the long-awaited return of the sun, but some people remain skeptical. Says Morris “Mo” Chee, “Nah, cannot be. The sun disappeared six weeks ago and hasn’t been back since.”

Yes, it’s satire. Read the whole story here.

March Goes Out Like A Lamb? Hardly

Friday, March 31st, 2006

So goes the saying, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, somehow this lion didn’t undergo its metamorphosis.

Keeaumoku & Makaloa St., March 31, 2006, 12:45 p.m.

This was the scene just a block from my office. I wanted to have lunch at Ala Moana as I normally do, but I saw this lake that was the intersection of Keeaumoku and Makaloa Streets, and I turned around and had lunch at Hanazen (little Japanese eatery at the Makaloa corner of Wal-Mart).

In short, Honolulu got hit with perhaps its heaviest rain yet. Upscale shopping mall Kahala Mall was flooded, starting at the theatres and spreading throughout the entire mall. The Honolulu Centennial festival scheduled for this weekend has been postponed. Flooding was also reported in Manoa (where seventeen months ago to the day a flash flood inundated homes and flooded the UH-Manoa library), Makiki, and McCully.

Well, if anything, all that rain may dilute the 48 million gallons of raw sewage that is now fouling Waikiki Beach.

Forecasters are predicting a return to normal tradewind patterns this coming week, but hey, they predicted that weeks ago. And with the rain in its 41st day, we can now say it’s beyond biblical proportions.

Oh, for some sunshine!