Archive for April 2008

Are you tone deaf?

Monday, April 21st, 2008

As an amateur choir conductor, I’ve always wondered whether there really is a thing called tone deafness. To some degree I’ve encountered some resistance when I try to recruit people to the choir…people say that they don’t sing well.

While researching tone deafness and whether there is really a thing, I stumbled across the site of Jake Mandell, a medical student at the University of Massachusetts. He formulated some tests to see how well people can detect differences in pitch, rhythm, and musical phrases.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it:

1.  Go to and take the “tonedeaf” and “adaptive pitch” tests.

2.  Report back here with your scores (your % correct on the tonedeaf test and the frequency difference you can detect on the adaptive pitch test).

For comparison: when I first took the tonedeaf test, I scored 77.8%.  (The test is intentionally very difficult; even experienced musicians can have trouble scoring above 80%).  I’ve taken the adaptive pitch test a few times and on average can detect pitches about 1.5 Hz apart.

Good luck!  Let me know how you do.

Hawaii Geek Meet: Collective Brainpower

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

The collective brainpower at Ala Moana right now is staggering.

–Me, at about 1:30 p.m. April 20, at Ala Moana Park

And I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that. I don’t think there ever was this many technically-minded folk, of so many stripes, gathered at a single place in this state. Bloggers, twitterers, digital photographers, hams, astronomers…and even a politician, all gathered at Magic Island for a big potluck.

I was there, primarily representing the Emergency Amateur Radio Club (I had my callsign on three places on my body and my walkie-talkie on my belt) but armed with a new digital camera around my neck.

What made it all the more fun was not only reacquainting myself with other people with an online presence whom I’ve met before, but also getting to meet, for the first time, other people whom I know only by, say, their username on services like Twitter or Flickr. As much as Web 2.0 has to offer, there’s still something to be said about face-to-face contact.

Here are some pictures I took from the event.  Some are landscape photos to test out the new camera…they turned out pretty darn good.

This may become an annual thing…if so, I can’t wait ’til next year!

Chunks of Reality: Smorgasbord

Monday, April 14th, 2008

My Odd News feed served up a feast today. For an appetizer, how about some oysters:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti looked down at the litter of empty oyster shells in front of him and savored the sweet taste of victory. For Crazy Legs Conti, the bitter taste of defeat could be washed away only by beer.

The Acme World Oyster Eating championship belt — leather, with a silver dish featuring an oyster on the half-shell — hung on Bertoletti’s skinny hips. The 22-year-old Chicago resident took the title Saturday by slurping 35 dozen of the big bivalves in eight minutes.

Then the main course: some Uruguayan beef:

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) – More than a thousand barbecue fanatics in Uruguay grilled up 12 metric tonnes of beef on Sunday, setting a new Guinness world record while promoting the country’s succulent top export.

Army personnel set up a grill nearly 1.5 kilometres long and fire-fighters lit six tonnes of charcoal to kick off the gargantuan cookout.

Finally, for dessert, how about some ballots a la mode:

NAPLES (Reuters) – Ballot stuffing took on a new meaning in Italy’s parliamentary election on Sunday when a man ate his ballot paper in protest at the country’s politicians.

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.