Archive for December 2005

On Island Winters

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

Alchera Project, Project 40, Option 2. Write a poem about winter from your perspective. Consider all of the normal winter things like Christmas, Hanukah, snowflakes, scarves, so on and so forth. But also consider any traditions you might have during this time of year. The poem should be written in 5-line stanzas with no more than 5 stanzas total and no less than three.

Where I live, the temperature declines
And everyone around me feels the chill
And winter parkas make appearance new
With locals shivering, feeling icy chills
As the mercury below 70 falls.

The alabaster sands in Waikiki,
Warm and sumptuous, must take the place
Of snow that like a blanket lies on ground.
The days grow short and sunset comes too soon
And everywhere the holidays take hold.

But is it truly winter when the air
Is soft and smooth and warm without the bite
Of winter frost? On islands tropical,
Are we less worthy of the Christmas cheer?
Must our Christmas be so sparkling white?

Not so, say I, for foliage all around
Are greener still than any Christmas tree
And last much longer, than th’ ephemeral twig
Which sheds its needles much too soon, and then
Is turned to mulch, and then is seen no more.

92.2%

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

No, I’m not going into detail as to how I arrived at this score. I have my standards. ‘Nuff said.

What Part of the Bill of Rights Does He Not Understand?

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

Remember when we were concerned about the makeup of the Supreme Court, and whether the nominees for the vacancies that have resulted would or would not cause a major shift in the direction of the court? I didn’t think so.

President Bush wants justices that will not “legislate from the bench” and strictly interpret the Constitution. After what has come to light in the past week, with our Glorious Leader deciding that he wants to spy on American citizens in the name of fighting terrorism…I’m not sure what document he’s referring to that he wants to have so strictly interpreted. Surely he’s not referring to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution I know of has a little sentence in there called the Fourth Amendment. It goes like this:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue; but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

What part of “No warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,” does he not understand?

Yes, our country was attacked. Yes, the terrorists are reprehensible scum. But if we allow the terrorists to run us, if we allow them to undermine our long-standing rights of freedom of speech, of religion, and against invasions of privacy, they have already won. They would like nothing better than to see our way of life destroyed. And if they don’t have to lift a finger to do so, if they can keep us in constant fear for our lives, so much the better for them.

If the administration did something like this, what’s next. Will Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World become reality?

Enough already. I’ve added my name to the Democrats’ petition to get the Justice Department to de-classify the legal opinions that led to this decision, and I encourage you to do the same. (Thanks to Eric for letting me know about this.)

We have seen the real enemy, and it’s not al-Qaeda. It’s us.

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.

Seven and Counting…

Monday, December 12th, 2005

Thanks for all your support while I was training with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program! With your help, I raised $1,778 and finished the marathon in 4 hours, 31 minutes, and 33 seconds.

You can read more about it in my sister blog.

Mahalo nui loa!