Archive for the ‘Hawaii’ Category

No Lunch Money? You Get Bread and Water

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

It’s no secret that public schools everywhere, and in Hawaii in particular, are hurting for money. Normally, you hear of this problem through the story that our classrooms need this, our teacher need that, and so on. But of course, it costs money to satisfy Junior’s growling stomach. But even with reduced price and free lunches, some parents still can’t bring themselves to give their kids lunch money.

According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, some schools are responding by providing “alternative lunches” until the parents pay up.

The “alternate lunch” varies from school to school but generally consists of a starch such as crackers, a piece of bread, or a cinnamon roll, and either juice, milk or water—far from what is required under the balanced-meal guidelines of the National School Lunch Program.

Quite simply, the unlucky kids, literally, get little more than bread and water.

Says Board of Education member Mary Cochran:

“My concern is that there are different avenues that aren’t being explored. All children should be provided lunch, and if schools can’t be creative enough to ensure that happens, they shouldn’t penalize the children,” Cochran said.

Agreed. The article does mention that ideas such as sending the past due accounts to collections is given. Of course, they could try the proverbial way of paying off a meal you can’t pay for…put the kids on permanent KP duty until the bill is paid. At least they’d still get fed.

Brrrrrr!!!

Friday, February 10th, 2006

When the weather makes front page news in Hawaii, it’s gotta be something way out of the ordinary, something way different from the normal “beautiful trade wind day.”

Well, the weather has been quite wonderful…during the day. At night and early morning, though, it’s another story. We’ve been waking up to weather that’s bone-chilling cold. By island standards, that is. Temperatures in some parts of Oahu failed to top 70 on Thursday and in some parts dropped to 60 or below. Add gusty winds, and very dry air with dewpoints well below 60 (normal is around 65), and…brrrr!!!

These days I’ve been sleeping with sweatshirt, sweatpants, and a heavy comforter over my blanket. And today I wore two full layers on top, a jacket over a long sleeved T-shirt. This is where you can really tell the locals from the tourists…you’ll see the tourist shirtless in a bathing suit, soaking up the warmth, while the local is bundled up in full winter gear, cursing the cold.

Not that I’ve lived such a sheltered life weatherwise. I’ve endured cold, rainy winters in Oregon while I was in college, which themselves would be nothing compared to the sub-zero temperatures in the Midwest. And my last vacation to Las Vegas a year ago saw me running in 30-40 degree weather with strong north winds. I know what “mainland” cold feels like.

It’s perfect weather for running now, but thanks to the cold, I ended up catching one. Ugh. Try having a mild fever at night in the cool weather we’ve been having. I found myself shaking…not just shivering, all out shaking…when I was in the bathroom, undressed and ready to take a warm shower to keep myself comfortable. Fortunately, I’m better now. But unfortunately, I haven’t really had a chance to take full advantage of the cooler conditions.

Temperatures are going to gradually warm up over the next few days, but I hope the cool weather comes back soon. Not that I intend to become a member of the Hawaii chapter of the Polar Bear Club…but still…

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Case vs. Akaka: Another Worst-Case Scenario?

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

2006 was looking to be a quiet year in Island politics. Our GOP governor, Linda Lingle, wasn’t facing any real opposition in November, and if the election were held today she would all but win the election by default.

And suddenly, a bombshell hit, and the Democrats sprang to life. The main event is proving not to be Lingle vs. TBD on November 7, but Ed Case vs. Dan Akaka on September 23.

OK, I don’t get it. The Democrats can’t find anyone stupid brave enough to challenge Linda Lingle. Yet, now we have everyone and his brother running for what will be a vacant seat in the 2nd District. What’s wrong with this picture? Obviously the lack of a “resign to run” law for the U.S. Congress has something to do with it, but should Democrats concede Washington Place in favor of the U.S. Capitol?

Case is definitely not getting much support from his co-workers Sen. Daniel Inouye and Rep. Neil Abercrombie, both of whom are behind Akaka. And the core of the Democratic party, the old guard, who hold grudges against him for not playing nice with them, aren’t really supporting him either.

But I say don’t count Case out yet. He definitely has popular support here in Hawaii and name recognition in the state. In fact, if not for 2,000 votes in the September 2002 primary out of about 180,000, he would have been the Democratic standard-bearer instead of Mazie Hirono. That would have been an interesting race…moderate Democrat vs. moderate Republican. And maybe he would be the one defending Washington Place rather than Lingle.

Make no mistake, politics in Hawaii have changed. Case and Lingle both ran on themes of change in 2002. Democrats didn’t get the message and lost Washington Place as a result. But I honestly think that rather than having an bloody internecine battle among Democrats, that Hawaii would be better served by having the race that we should have had in 2002…Case vs. Lingle. But that’s just me.

Case brings up the need to begin a process of transition, and that it’s needed is true. Daniel Inouye and Dan Akaka aren’t going to be around forever, and he probably wants to avoid a situation like that of the late Sen. Spark Matsunaga. But they don’t feel that their work is done yet. Akaka, in particular, still has his namesake bill on his plate, which has still not become law. Good luck trying to get him to retire before it becomes the law of the land. This is supposed to be his legacy, after all.

In the end, though, I will probably support Case in his campaign. I voted for him in 2002 both for governor and for Congress. But I’m still not entirely convinced that running for the U.S. Senate is so well advised.

Ed Case’s opponent in his first state House race in 1994 was Toni Worst of the Hawaii Green Party. I swear I am not making this up. That race was truly a “Worst-Case scenario.” I hope this doesn’t become another one.

Honolulu Marathon: The Traffic Jam Is Temporary

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

It’s no secret that I love the Honolulu Marathon. I love the challenge of running through the streets of my fair city every year for the past seven years. I love the crowd support, the friendliness of the volunteers, and the sheer spectacle of it all. I look forward to doing it every year.

Unfortunately, my sentiments are not shared by everyone. Especially some people who live in East Honolulu. From a disgruntled Diamond Head resident, Barbara Cook, comes this zinger in the Honolulu Advertiser. I’m gonna address it part by part.

Please take your races out of the Diamond Head area. We are so tired of 28,000 people from somewhere else holding us hostage in our neighborhoods. Is this America? I’m not sure. I feel as if I have no freedom on certain weekends of the year — and this was my weekend too that you demanded.

Last I checked, Ms. Cook, it was America. And I’m sorry, Your Highness, I didn’t realize it was your weekend and yours alone. Last I checked, I believe I had a legitimate share to it too, with the freedom to enjoy it as I choose. I chose to spend it with 28,000 of my closest friends. And by the way, your definition of “somewhere else” seems rather limited. About 5,000 of us people from “somewhere else,” myself included, actually live in various locations on this same rock.

There must be another road on the island besides Diamond Head Road. Can’t you find another place to race? Why don’t you bike up Haleakala or run around Moloka’i?

Well, I’ll give you that. There are other roads on this island and races can be (and have been) run on those roads. Case in point…the other major road race that draws five-figure participation, the Great Aloha Run. The race starts at Aloha Tower and ends at Aloha Stadium and yes, it ties up several major highways out in that direction for a few hours.

The savvy observer, however, notices that the GAR is marketed mostly to locals. Very few visitors run it. And for good reason. The course takes you through the heart of Kalihi, with its warehouses and heavy industrial district, then takes you under a freeway viaduct for about 2 miles, then runs alongside a major military base which, with the exception of the Arizona Memorial, doesn’t really win awards for beauty either. Not exactly the image of Hawaii we want to promote.

When you think about it, part of the raison d’être of a major city marathon is to show off the best scenery that the city has to offer. In the case of Honolulu, it’s downtown and points east…Waikiki, Diamond Head, Kahala, and East Honolulu. Obviously the race should to start or finish in Waikiki because all the hotels are there, and Kapiolani Park has the space to accommodate the number of runners.

People who live in Kahala and points east are really fortunate to be living in what is probably one of the most beautiful parts of Oahu, as measured by the number of million-dollar homes. With the rights and privileges, though, come responsibilities…and if one chooses to live in the showcase part of Honolulu, one should be prepared to make a sacrifice for the greater good. Let’s not forget that with all the runners come dollars that power the economy that makes these million-dollar homes possible.

It is not just the race days we have to endure but the weeks leading up to a race as well. Walking on the sidewalk is hazardous as tourist runners, who think they own the place, practically knock you over, and bicyclists who think they own the road fail to stop at stop signs. And don’t get me started on the traffic snarls and parking problems these races present.

In all fairness, there are rude locals as well. And don’t get me started on walkers who insist on walking two abreast on a narrow path, and then give you the stink eye if you so much as dare to say, “Excuse me,” “On your left,” or something like that. But I digress.

I read the letter from the individual who came from a Neighbor Island to watch her family members race, saying it brings families together. I’m all for families getting closer together. Let’s get this race moved to your island and that way you can save on the airfare to Honolulu.

Yes, there are marathons on other islands as well, but some (notably the Maui Marathon) limit participation because they don’t have the resources that Honolulu has. Once that limit is reached, that’s it. Next excuse?

But that’s not the worst of it. What really got my dander up was reading this letter from one M.B. Wilson, which ended:

Take it or leave it? I think we should leave it and move on; it’s a dated and old concept that has outlived its arguable usefulness.

Yeah. Right. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who train for their first marathon each year. Tell that to the Japanese, who revere their marathon runners and want to emulate them, but have few opportunities to do in their home country. Tell that to the millions of runners who, after finishing their first marathon, attempt to meet the qualifying standards for the mother of all marathons, Boston. Tell that to the organizers of the New York City Marathon and others which have had to limit participation in their marathons because people have been trying to bust down the doors. Tell all those people that, and THEN you can tell me.

OK, now that the venom in my poison pen has been spent…

In all seriousness, I really appreciate the sacrifices that East Honolulu residents make so that the marathon can happen each year. I know that for each Barbara Cook out there, there are about ten people who make it an annual event to sit in front of their house and watch all the runners go by. Some even prepare items for the runners, creating unofficial aid stations carrying orange wedges, salted pretzels, and other food items that the official aid stations don’t supply. And believe me, in a marathon like Honolulu, they’re welcome. When I passed through Hawaii Kai with a cramped right calf, I stopped a couple of times to take some salted chips and pretzels, and they helped my cramp immensely.

To Barbara Cook, M.B. Wilson, and all the other naysayers out there, I lay down a challenge. Train for and run the marathon next year. Or if that’s too much, walk over the hill and hang out at Kapiolani Park on Marathon Sunday. And don’t just go home after the first finishers cross. Watch the middle- and back-of-the-packers come in. See the tears of joy in their eyes as they realize a goal that they’ve waited all their lives to achieve. Experience the carnival atmosphere as runners gather together, having accomplished perhaps the most grueling endurance challenge that mankind has devised.

Once you have experienced the positive energy, perhaps you might be more inclined to support the marathon rather than fight it. Know that all the runners appreciate your sacrifice. And don’t forget the pretzels.

OK, I Want Verizon Back in Hawaii

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

I was never really enthusiastic about Verizon deciding to sell its operations in Hawaii to the Carlyle Group. And right now, with what’s going on with my Internet connection right now, I really want Verizon back.

Hawaiian Telcom took over Verizon’s landline services in May, and right now the Internet services are going through what they say is a nine-month transition period under which the network will transfer from Verizon to Hawaiian Tel.

The first real stage of the transition looks like it started on Friday (I remember approving a firewall alert that morning saying that the domain name had changed to hawaiiantel.com). And since then, it’s been good one day, yucky the next. And when I say yucky, I mean getting 300K downloads and 100K uploads from a connection that’s advertised as 1.5M and was rock solid going up to that point.

It looks like the problem is happening at the point between Hawaiian Tel and Sprint. Look at this traceroute.

Tracing route to google.com [216.239.57.99]
over a maximum of 30 hops:
1 9 ms 7 ms 8 ms rtr000006 [72.234.58.1]
2 7 ms 7 ms 7 ms 10.245.225.5
3 593 ms 602 ms 598 ms sl-gw2-prl-6-3.sprintlink.net [144.223.63.89]
4 589 ms 591 ms 584 ms sl-bb21-prl-0-0.sprintlink.net [144.232.30.25]
5 633 ms 646 ms 639 ms sl-bb21-stk-5-2.sprintlink.net [144.232.8.34]

600ms from hop 2 to 3? Normally I get pings on the order of 60ms. Simply put, something is really rotten.

I really hope that Hawaiian Tel gets its act together and soon. I would really hate to have to consider getting Road Runner. I’ve seen the Hawaiian Tel commercials comparing Road Runner to a fat straw that everyone has to share and DSL to everyone getting their own straw. But if it keeps feeling like I’m sucking ice cream through the straw…

Honolulu: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Tuesday, September 6th, 2005

Sarah Dylan Breuer read my entry on my recent Kauai trip and decided to ask the following:

I have a huge favor to ask. I’m interviewing for a job in Honolulu this week. I grew up in Los Angeles (loved it — especially when I could surf often), and now live in Maryland. If you’d like to tell me as much as you feel like saying about the positive and the negative of living in Honolulu, I’d be very grateful. I visited Hawaii as a tourist once years ago; I loved what I saw of Maui and Kauai, but I wasn’t all that impressed with Honolulu. Admittedly, at the time I was twelve years old, and it was mostly about not liking Waikiki Beach so much. Nowadays, I’m sure I’d be grateful for the cultural life of a large multicultural city. Many thanks for any wisdom you feel like sharing!

Well, Sarah, I’m not going to sugar coat this, but nor am I going to invoke Oregon’s Tom McCall and say “for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live” either. I’m gathering this both from personal experience and from what other people have told me.

Live in paradise, pay the price. That’s the main thing to remember about Hawaii. And the price of everything is much higher here. Of course, the main thing that mainlanders first notice when they visit an island supermarket is, “Milk costs HOW MUCH?” I’m not sure how comfortable your existence has been up to this, but if you come here, expect to pinch pennies a little. The main inflationary item, efforts to control the price of which has made news and drawn scorn on the mainland, is gasoline. Hawaii no longer has the undisputed highest gas prices in the nation (whether the price cap had anything to do with it is debatable), and Honolulu has it better than not only the neighbor islands, but many places on the mainland as well…but even with the cap in place, expect to pay through the nose for a tank of gas.

You are fairly fortunate that if (when?) you move here, you’ll have a job offer in hand. Too many people come here on whims and end up working minimum wage for years at a time. And minimum wage doesn’t pay the bills…see above. Tourism has been booming nowadays, but higher-paying professional jobs are still harder to come by. so in that sense you would be lucky.

But on the plus side…well, where do I start? Enviable weather, people with an active lifestyle (hiking, jogging, and yes, surfing too), an ethnically diverse population, lots of history, and natural beauty just minutes (or less than an hour) away. There truly is more to Honolulu than just Waikiki Beach, and I think as an adult that’s what you’ll discover. And if you love nightlife, Honolulu has it here too.

Keep in mind that Hawaii’s population is so diverse than no one ethnic group has a majority, so people need to cooperate to get along here. On one hand, Hawaii is fairly color-blind, but on the other hand, pride in one’s ethnicity, be it Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and white too, is paramount in island culture. As long as you’re respectful, open-minded, and willing to try new things, you should have very little trouble fitting in in Honolulu, or anyplace in Hawaii for that matter. Hawaii tends to attract these types of folks. Bigots will find little sympathy here.

Good luck in your job interview and I hope you can make it here to the islands!

Shaka, Mate

Friday, August 19th, 2005

And we thought it was ridiculous when an Army general in Iraq decided to clamp down on the “shaka” sign between Hawaii soldiers.

Apparently our brothers down under are dealing with similar circumstances. Say the word “Australia” and what probably comes to mind is the word, “mate.” It’s so much a part of Australian national identity, and the main part of exported Australian culture.

So you can imagine the uproar when security guards at the Australian parliament were prohibited from using “mate” when greeting visitors. Apparently that didn’t sit well with the Prime Minister, who had the order rescinded.

What’s next? Banning Southerners from saying, “y’all”?

Yeah, Let’s Just Send Them All To Kaho‘olawe

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

From Point Five:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, today announced the creation of the “Send a Terrorist to Hawaii” program, designed to stop Islamic extremism within the United States…

Congress will be considering funding the program in committee next week. The Justice Department is asking for $300 million to fund first class flights, hotel stays, helicopter trips, snorkeling, whale watching, and a “night life stipend” in order to seduce crazed Muslims into a decadent western lifestyle filled with booze, drugs, and hookers.

Hmmm…would the military like Kaho‘olawe back for target practice?

Finally, Something To Cheer About for Hawaii Schools

Friday, May 13th, 2005

Hawaii is lagging behind in No Child Left Behind. Or so you’ve been led to think. It’s no secret by now that we have a lot of schools that need extra help to meet NCLB standards, and many of them are in so-called “restructuring.” Having a lot of schools in dire straits means our system is failing, right?

Not necessarily, say two Stanford University researchers. Paul E. Peterson and Frederick M. Hess contend that our situation is not necessarily a symptom of a failing system, but a result of having set high standards for our kids to meet.

The results of this study were front page, above the fold, in today’s Star-Bulletin. Its bottom line was that Hawaii just missed the top 5 (yes, the TOP 5) in rigor for its standards, when its proficiency test numbers are compared against the state’s results of the National Assessment for Educational Progress in 2003 and graded on a curve. State proficiency levels ranged from 5% above NAEP (for #1 South Carolina) to more than 36% above (the average level).
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Of Woodpeckers and Honeycreepers

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

Today the ecological and environmental world was abuzz when it became public that a bird long thought extinct was conclusively sighted in Arkansas. In fact, the ivory-billed woodpecker was last sighted over 60 years ago. There were unconfirmed sightings over the past few years that led to fruitless searches, but now they have videotaped evidence to back them up.
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