Squeezed July 13, 2009 by Keith

Testing WordPress posting capabilities on Dreamhost. Hopefully, this works.

Purchasing a piece of history…now what?

Squeezed July 7, 2009 by Keith

Recently a small white house at 2234 University Avenue in Honolulu has gotten nationwide attention. From the New York Times, July 5, 2009:

Opponents lined up quickly when Honolulu Christian Church announced plans to convert a modest residential lot in the Hawaiian capital into parking for its growing congregation.

Surely there were enough spots on the street, opponents said. Turning the small driveway into a parking lot entrance would create safety and traffic problems. The cute old house on the property, built in the 1940s, is worth preserving.

Besides, the president used to live there.

Yes, you heard that right. Barack Hussein Obama II, the 44th President of the United States, lived in this modest house in Manoa, near the University of Hawaii. He lived for about three years here with his mother and grandparents.

The center of the controversy revolves around a nearby church, which is seeking room to expand, pitted against its neighbors who understandably want the residential character of the neighborhood to be preserved.

That controversy hits close to home for me, because Honolulu Christian Church is my church. I’ve been a member for nearly 15 years.

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Pixar grants child’s final wish: To see Up before dying

Squeezed June 18, 2009 by Keith

Imagine being in the final stages of terminal cancer. You’d probably think of what you’d want to do before you die. Like go skydiving. Or go on an African safari. Ten-year-old Colby Curtin’s final wish wasn’t nearly as extravagant. All she wanted to do was see the newly released Pixar movie Up before she died. The story in today’s Orange County Register goes into detail, but I’ll summarize it here.

She got her desire after having seen a preview of Up before Monsters vs. Aliens on April 28. Two days later, her health took a turn for the worse. By June it became clear that she had very little time left. An attempt to wheelchair her to a local theatre fell through, and by June 9 transporting her anywhere was out of the question.

Get your tissues ready.

Desperate, a friend of the family cold-called Pixar, and got a sympathetic ear. The next day, a Pixar employee arrived at the Curtins’ home, DVD in hand, for a special private screening of the movie for Colby. She died later that evening, a mere seven hours after having seen the movie.

What made it more apropos was that the loss of a loved one is a major plot theme in Up. Says Colby’s mother Lisa Curtin:

“When I watched it, I had really no idea about the content of the theme of the movie,” said Curtin, 46. “I just know that word ‘Up’ and all of the balloons and I swear to you, for me it meant that (Colby) was going to go up. Up to heaven.”

Finally, on a whim, I punched up “Colby Curtin” in Google and found out that she has Hawaii ties. A fundraiser was held for her in Mililani, which was covered by KHNL:

All the items at the garage sale are for sale and the money will go to help seven year old Colby Curtin, who has stage 4 cancer. She has a cancer called EHE which is rare in children that young. She has tumors in some major organs and her right hip.

Colby has already undergone 6 rounds of chemotherapy. She lives in California with her parents, but most of her family is on Oahu and Kauai.

I hope KHNL or another news local outlet picks up this story. This story is too incredible not to tell, and would be a welcome change of pace from the news of furloughs and swine flu.

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links for 2009-05-21

Squeezed May 20, 2009 by Keith

The last survivor of the Titanic

Squeezed May 14, 2009 by Keith

Remember Titanic? Of course. Who can forget the largest grossing film of all time? $1.8 billion, unadjusted for inflation. Those who remember the plot of the film (around the historical backdrop) remember that the film deals with a fictional survivor of the April 14, 1912 sinking of the mighty ship.

What I didn’t know is that now there is only one such living survivor in real life, 97-year-old Millvina Dean of England, who was two months old at the time the ship sank, and is now in declining health.

As it happened, Irish author Don Mullan photographed Dean a few weeks ago for an exhibition, and at the time, offered to sell photos autographed by Dean with all proceeds to pay for her nursing home bills. In so doing, he challenged stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and director James Cameron, to match his donation, saying:

If we cannot take care of this gracious and very special lady, now in her 98th year, then all our concern about the Titanic is but a sham. Millvina Dean must be allowed to live out the remainder of her days without any worry or concern about meeting the costs of her welfare.

There are people including director James Cameron and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and Canadian singer Celine Dion who have made enormous profits from the Titanic story and I believe they can and, morally, should help.

On Monday, the two stars and their director responded by donating a combined $30,000 toward Dean’s medical expenses…in essence, giving back a small portion to the last bearer of the ship’s historic legacy.

2,222 of the people who were on the Titanic on April 14, 1912 have passed on…1,517 that day, and 705 others over the 97 years following. Only one is now left. I think it’s a class act by DiCaprio, Winslet, and Cameron to make sure Millvina Dean’s final years are ones to remember.

UPDATE 6/1/09: And she’s gone. No word on what will happen to the money pledged.

Cameras prejudiced against Asians?

Squeezed May 13, 2009 by Keith

Blogger jozjozjoz is having issues with the technology in her camera lately, going so far as to call her camera (gasp) racist.

As I was taking pictures of my family, it kept asking “Did someone blink?” even though our eyes were always open. Sheesh! RACIST!

Did someone blink?

The camera in question was a Nikon S630. I have a Nikon as well, but it’s a D40 DSLR. My first thought when I heard this was this: Nikon is a Japanese company. (In fact, they pronounce it differently there…NEE-kone rather than NIGH-konn.) So you would think that they should have designed this anti-blink feature with Asian eyes in mind. Because as most people know, when we Asians smile (which, after all, is what you do in front of a camera 99% of the time), our eyes all but disappear. Kinda annoying when you’d have to fight with your camera on this.

As I thought about it, though, it made me wonder. Photographers come in two stripes. One type gravitates toward the DSLR, interchangeable lenses, and off-camera flash; the other type wants the camera to do all the work. Point, shoot, done. The camera makers have bent over backward to make cameras easy to use for point-and-shooters, and for the most part they’ve succeeded.

For instance, in modern point-and-shoot cameras, we see autofocus mechanisms that focus in on faces, cameras that release the shutter when the subject smiles, and (as you can see) cameras that detect the dreaded blink.

While this technology is all well and good, sometimes I wonder whether camera technology is becoming too smart for its own good. I’d probably imagine that if the camera hadn’t tried to be helpful, “racism” probably wouldn’t be an issue here. :)

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Twitter Updates for 2009-05-08

Squeezed May 8, 2009 by Keith
  • Co-worker received VM: “I need help logging in. Call me at 555…uh…you know what…I forgot. I’ll call you back.” Click. ROFL!! #
  • Guess it’s looking like the Red and White Song Contest at the Capitol. One side will be singing for joy and the other side the blues. #HB444 #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-05-07

Squeezed May 7, 2009 by Keith
  • Lots of empty seats at Ala Moana Food Court today, even during peak lunch hour. Sign of the times, I guess. #
  • Anyone find it a bit awkward when a protected account follows you out of the blue? Like someone taking but not giving in return? #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-05-06

Squeezed May 6, 2009 by Keith
  • Office tried dialing into our system via modem; “no dial tone.” Their IT folks apparently told her the problem was on OUR side. HUH? #

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Twitter Updates for 2009-05-05

Squeezed May 5, 2009 by Keith
  • The vog’s so thick this morning, I swear, I’m smelling sulfur. #

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