Thursday, December 28, 2006

Uncredited Greatest Living Hoofer

I just read this article in the New York Times, which brings attention to the fact that "Happy Feet", a movie apparently about the unifying power of dance in a (penguin) community, doesn't credit those tapping feet to it's owner: Tap virtuoso Savion Glover. In an industry where voiceover actors have their names dominating the credits (even in foreign countries where their voices are deleted), it is a shame that Glover's name isn't used in advertising nor credits. He has put in hours of work, in his recognizable, signature tap style, as both dancer and choreographer, in a movie about the power of dance! And his name only appears at the very end as "Animation Motion Capture"! A clip:
Maybe a proper credit for Mr. Glover just slipped everybody’s minds, including Mr. Glover’s. Maybe dance, even in a film whose entire plot hinges on dance, is so far from the concerns of most people that Mr. Glover’s credit escaped everyone’s attention. But that omission seems especially worrisome when the dance being slighted is deeply rooted in the black American tradition.

“I was just so excited that someone was putting dance in the movie,” Mr. Glover told Ms. Kaufman. “I didn’t ask any questions. I was just going on the strength of tap-dancing — someone wants tap-dancing.”

Well, someone did, and maybe Mr. Glover is as happy as he says he is with his, and tap’s, new prominence. But if tap is to be respected, its greatest living exponent must be respected too. To win respect, you have to do more than be the best there is. You have to fight, meaning negotiate, for the recognition you deserve.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Contents of Xmas letter: Too bitter?

Merry Effing Christmas to everybody! My warmest Aloha to you all, especially those of you suffering through bitter snowstorms who weren't really aware I live in Hawaii now (Has it been three years since I sent out Christmas cards? I'm such a slacker!) I love Christmas card mass letters and won't apologize one bit: How else do I get to flaunt my fabulous life?
Well, let's get to it then:
I still work the same dead-end job at the nut-house (Macadamia! I'm not crazy!...Yet)where this year alone we had a fire that damaged pricey equipment and buildings, a plummeting crop price as Mauna Loa (Hershey's) flooded the market with cheap foreign nuts (I'm a free-market economist: Screw all those little old Hawaiian farmers!) and the earthquake which damaged our newly-completed and not-yet-paid-for visitors center. The epicenter for the earthquake was riiight out there (pointing out my office window). I'm still writing a food column for the Hawaii Island Journal, where I attempt to rein in my bitter distaste of the local greasy-spoons long enough to pound out a thousand words (my editor says I have a "uniquely flippant voice": Whaddya think he means by that?!?!) And last week I successfully passed the exam to become a certified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor! While I was chasing this goal, my dearest boyfriend, who promised undying love when he moved here in March, took advantage of my absence to break up with me. Anyone want his Christmas gift? Up for grabs!
There were bright spots this year (besides the fire- hehe!) including a visit last December from my sister Tamia and her husband Rowshan, a visit last spring from my dearest friend Lori, and a visit last summer from my brother Michael. What about the rest of you? Step up! I live in Hawaii and can teach you to Scuba Dive! And I'm not this bitter all the time!
In fact, I look forward to the New Year, where I will curl up with the cat and my knitting and a bottle of champagne and work really hard to pursue my goal of becoming that crazy cat lady with the 200 cats. Screw it. Make it 300!
May you all have a wonderful Holiday Season, and an excellent New Year, and may you see past my vicious sarcasm to the love I have for you all.

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Scuba Instructor! Yay!

Started Wednesday off in a conference room at the King Kam with the Instructor Examiner, Lori Bachelor-Smith of PADI Americas in California, and seven other IE Candidates (3 of us with Bob from Breeze, 5 who went through the program at Jack's: One of them was from Seattle and another was from Palm Springs, and I think the other 3 were all from Kona). She did an introduction which included all the legal paperwork, then we got started on our tests:
Theory tests were first. We had 90 minutes to complete 5 Dive Theory tests of 20 questions each (I think...). We needed to score 75% or better, with only one makeup available (fail 1/5 can make up, fail 2/5 no pass for you!) Subjects were: Skills and Environment, Physics, Physiology, Equipment, and the Recreational Dive Planner and Deco theory. If you recall, these are the subjects we are supposed to know from Divemaster (which I took quite some time ago) and the part of the IE I was most worried about. With Bob's help in the IDC I was able to bring my scores up to an acceptable level, and on Wednesday morning I scored: 100%, 100%, 100%, 100% and 100%. Not too shabby. I'll take it! And quite an impressive start.
PADI General Practices and Standards Exam was next. We were supposed to score 75% on a 50 question test with no make-ups allowed. This was an "Open book" test using the huge door-stopper of the Instructor manual, and needed to be complete in 90 minutes. This test is more about being sure we can find the information we need. I scored a 98% (Got one question wrong: It was a damn "All of the Above" question. I can convince myself of anything!)
We then piled into the car and went over to the pool at the Kona Aquatic Center for our skills circuit and Confined Water Presentation. I was assigned "Cramp Removal" which I could teach either on the surface or underwater, each having it's pros and cons. I choose surface, volunteered to go first, presented my briefing and my demo, caught my studen't problems and corrected them, used my assistant effectively and did a fine debrief. We needed a 3.5 to pass, with a makeup available. I scored a 4.4 I think.
Skill circuit we needed to score a 17 out of 20 on 5 skills, with all skills not below a 3. We had makeups available. I had to make up the damn remove and replace the scuba unit at the surface, because while I performed it beautifully, I twisted my low-pressure inflator hose under my shoulder strap and didn't notice. I re-did that one skill and scored a 5. Other skills: Mask remove/replace, 5. CESA 4. Hover 4. Regulator remove/replace 5. Fine: Will take it! I was thinking that if the damn twisted strap was the only thing that went wrong, it was fine with me. I also performed all the skills circuit first.
Back to the King Kam conference room for Classroom presentations: Again we had to score a 3.5/5 to pass, and could do one makeup if needed. I was thrown for a loop when asked to teach something NOT in the Instructor manual. The difference in buoyancy between salt water and fresh water: I used slides and books and equipment and a little model of 2 cups: one filled with water and one filled with yoghurt (the m&m floated on the yoghurt and sank in the fresh water). This time I didn't get to go first, but I did manage to go third (I'm more comfortable if I get it over with). Earned a 4.8. Got dinged for being nervous. That's cool: I'll take it!
So that was the end of the first day: 100%, 98%, 4.4, 4.6, 4.8. All Good!
Thursday I awoke and got to Breeze by 6am. We drove down to Honaunau and got down there by 645am for a 730am start. I realized immediately that I had left my weight belt in my car, over 45 minutes away. DOH! So stupid! I was so nervous: I had prepped my presentation and gone over my rescue and made sure I had taken a sea-sickness pill, brought food and water and even had a little bit of breakfast...but the damn weightbelt was still in the trunk of my car parked in Kona. We called another candidates wife, and she packed up a weight belt with extra weights, jumped in her car and arrived at 730am while I was in the middle of my breifing (I went first). We did all the Open Water Breifings all at once on land, then the first group of 4 went into the water and set the float and line in the Aloha sandy patch at about 25-30 feet of water. I went first: I had two surface skills (what is with the surface skills?): Snorkel to Regulator Exchange from the Open Water class, and Surface Approach, Evaluation, and Contact of a panicked diver from the Rescue class. I needed to average a 3.5 on both skills, with absolutely no make-up. I caught the problems, but I felt I was perhaps a little slow. We went on through the teaching presentations of the other 3 students, and I acted the part of a student for all of them. Later Lori said the highlight of the day was watching another student and I mis-performing the Efficient Fin-Kick Skill from the Advanced Open Water Class: He dolphined while I bicycled. After they were done, we surfaced and performed our rescue assessments. I went first and did well. I then acted the part of the victim for all 3 of the other candidates, plus one makeup. Although I had taken a seasick pill earlier, all that bobbing about on the surface with my eyes closed made me a bit dizzy and naseous. But I make a great victim: I float easily, am smaller than some of the guys, and have quick releases on my gear. In contrast, one choice was a sinker (I chose him as my victim: had rescued him before), one choice was large, and the third choice was the unknown: none of us had worked with her or her equipment before. So...I was the victim. And I got a little dizzy. Then, when we were all done and I was floating there without my equipment, wearing the first-aid pocketmask, and the examiner asked if I would play her victim...and she proceeded to demonstrate different holds with the pocketmask. I have no idea what she was saying, because my ears were underwater and the whole time I'm thinking (Do NOT throw up on the EXAMINER! That would be BAD!) But luckily we finished, put all my equipment back on, descended, and returned slowly to shore. After the other group of four was done, we finished our debreifs and got our scores: I got a 4.75 on the snorkel-reg exchange and a 4.25 on the panicked diver approach, and passed the rescue assesment...
So I am officially now a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor! Woo-hoo! And on behalf of PADI Americas, I'm supposed to thank my friends and family for tolerating me during this process! So THANK YOU!!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Last IDC Days: 9 and 10

Well, the IDC is over, and now it is all about some last minute cramming and avoiding that cold that is going around:
Extra Skills Afternoon: Thursday we watched the Pro Rescue Video, and practiced absolutely gorgeous demonstration-quality skills in the pool. I had to sneak out of work 5 hours early to attend, but felt so much more confident about my skill demo afterwards.
Day Nine was mostly in the pool again, this time presenting our last Confined Water skill (Rescue Class) and practicing our Rescues to within an inch of it's life. Day Ten had our last Perscriptive teaching presentations, and the remainder of the classroom work. We also sat for a few final exams. I was proud to bring my scores up from where they had started, but: Constant Vigilance!
Bob counseled me that he thought I was ready and would do well, and furthermore, he was happy that he dogged me for so many missed IDC's until I could actually take this one. I'm happy I got to take what he threatens to be his last IDC for awhile!
Now it is all just down to the Instructor Exam on Wednesday and Thursday...

Monday, December 04, 2006

IDC Days 7 and 8: Unprecedented Disaster!

Threw up.

Yup: Seasick both on the surface and underwater. Light surge, but basically calm seas in the most calm of bays. Dehydration, lack of sleep, lack of taking care of myself is the explanation. Struggled through the swim, the Confined Water exercises, and the Open Water exercises, always a step behind.
Second day was better: Wasn't ill at least. Classroom work. My first prescribed teaching presentation went well. My theory tests are still not up to snuff.
Ah well, it is a learning experience, right?

Monday, November 27, 2006

IDC Days 5 and 6: Assistant Instructor!

I passed the General Practices Exam and am now officially a PADI Assistant Instructor! (So even if I flunk the Instructor's Exam, I still upped my rank from Divemaster!)
We did more Confined and Open Water presentations. It was cloudy this weekend, which was a blessing on my burny skin, but made us all cold. Solution? Briefings and Debriefings in the Hot Tub, of course! Oh it was difficult to be us!
I continue to do okay, but did miserably on my practice Physics test (again. 2nd Time, no improvement). Seems I will be re-learning Physics this week!

Monday, November 20, 2006

IDC Days 3 and 4

Well! The IDC progresses, this week with classroom presentations (scary!) and the beginning of some water work. We practiced our scuba skills to a "demonstration" level: Slow and easy and beautiful like a dance! We also presented our first "Confined Water" teaching presentations: Briefing, Demonstration, Problem-solving, and debriefing one particular skill.
The problem solving is the most fun, and the most nerve-rattling! Course Director Bob gives your "students" each a problem they need to have. You must catch the problem, teach the solution, and communicate effectively. It is rather fun, if I wasn't so scared that I will miss the problems during the Exam!
I did well on the Knowledge Review Classroom presentations: It seems to be all about jumping through the hoops and learning the system.

You are The Sun

Happiness, Content, Joy.

The meanings for the Sun are fairly simple and consistent.

Young, healthy, new, fresh. The brain is working, things that were muddled come clear, everything falls into place, and everything seems to go your way.

The Sun is ruled by the Sun, of course. This is the light that comes after the long dark night, Apollo to the Moon's Diana. A positive card, it promises you your day in the sun. Glory, gain, triumph, pleasure, truth, success. As the moon symbolized inspiration from the unconscious, from dreams, this card symbolizes discoveries made fully consciousness and wide awake. You have an understanding and enjoyment of science and math, beautifully constructed music, carefully reasoned philosophy. It is a card of intellect, clarity of mind, and feelings of youthful energy.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, November 13, 2006

IDC Days one and two

This weekend I began the first two days of the PADI Instructor Development Course, in order to hopefully pass the two-day Instructor Exam in December, and be certified to teach Scuba Diving!
I'm taking the class with the immensely talented Course Director Bob Hajack, at Breeze Hawaii here in Kona.
So far I feel unprepared, inexperienced, and lacking in time and money. I hope that changes soon!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tagged with a MEME

I've been tagged by Stilaholic Nartian Knits and since it's not really knitting it gets to be on this blog:
Four Jobs I've Had:
Pastry Chef
Follow-Spot Opperator
Carrot Juice Squeezer
(I would add the current job: Nut Jockey, But I fear people just wouldn't understand.)
Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:
Detroit Rock City
The English Patient (Although this takes some time)
Harry Potter (any of them)
Four Places I Have Lived:
Paris France (briefly. Still counts?)
Santa Cruz California
Cairo Egypt
Durham North Carolina
Four Television Shows I Love to Watch:
Project Runway
Alias (No more!)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (what?)
Firefly (on DVD only now)
Four Places I Have Been on Vacation:
Four of My Favorite Dishes:
Seared Ahi or Ahi Shashimi
Pasta (Amatriciana, Carbonara, Mom's Spaghetti, Kraft Mac&Cheese...)
Ice Cream (pretty much all of it)
Huge Caesar salads
Four Websites I Visit (Almost) Daily:
New York Times
Yarn Harlot
Online Sudoku
Blogger, of course
Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
Under the Sea
In a cafe in Paris, preferably knitting
Almost anywhere but here at Work
In the arms of my BF
Four Bloggers I am Tagging:
Gee...I don't know!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Hawai'i earthquake, right near where I live. 6.7! And plenty of aftershocks! This is what my house looks like after the Earthquake that hit today (okay, we stacked those 3 boxes on the right while searching for the cat). Shelves empty, all glass broken, drawers open, pictures off the wall, cracks in the plaster, door doesn't shut right, and cat headin' for the hills! No electricity, gas shut off, no cable TV but since my television did a faceplant onto my wood floor, it's not like I can notice. Outside it is even stranger: Several cracks across roads and bridges, huge landslides and boulders in the roads, broken water mains flooding the streets. All the streetlights are out (Drive with Aloha people! And an out streetlight means a four-way stop!) but since there are only 3 streetlights in town, we are doing okay.
My mother and I went through the 1989 earthquake in Northern California, so we are jaded Californians about it. When the shaking started, we knew instantly what it was, and for the first few seconds it is a bit of a fun ride. Then the knowledge kicks in, and in our heads we go through the following thought process: "Earthquake! This is fun!...Wait, this is strong! Wait, this is going on too long! Okay, fine, I'll get up and head away from the windows...Hmmm...About a 6, maybe 7..." Funny how I didn't notice things falling. I moved away from the walls and windows, and I watched the walls shake. I guess the structure was more of a worry than the falling items. Immediately afterwards, I went outside, of course. Checked on the neighbors, all whom were looking for pets. The first aftershock came while I was outside, the ground surging in P-waves, like dirt surfing, under my feet.
Ironically, my big strong father is taking it the worst. He was away during the 89 earthquake, and maintains this was the worst earthquake he has felt in his life: Stronger than any in California or Japan. My mother and I set to work cleaning up the glass, but since we have moved alot, been through earthquakes, and, well, we are both pretty clumsy, we had experience in briefly mourning and throwing out the broken shards of favorite things. These items are just possesions. They are with you for awhile and then they break and you move onwards.
What is more important is the blessing of everyone's safety, and family and friends are fine. Utilities are back on, our service-people in safety and utilities sprang to work, and I hear we are under a state of emergency. The beauty of it is how everyone pulls together, sits outside, waves at cars, calls all their friends to make sure everyone is okay. Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, texted, and checked or commented on this site! What aloha!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Esquire

My friend says goodbye to a beloved watering hole here. Beautiful post. Please check it out.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Happy Anniversary: Kama'aina

It is my 4th Anniversary of living in Hawaii. I have been thinking alot about what that means, and thankful for all I have here. As someone who lived many places, I never had a "hometown", and I adopted Hawaii as home because it always existed in my parents heads as "home" and I saw how happy they were on the occasions we were here visiting relatives.
I have a friend here who says that whatever you ask of the island, she will provide. Not in terms of plenty, but in terms of need. Something about paring down that need appeals to me: It's like traveling, where you limit yourself to the contents of your bag, and you are freed in that sparsity. When I moved here, I asked for a clear head, peace, a path, and some diving. The island has provided most of that.
I don't think I can stay here. I don't think I can afford to live here very long: There is not much economic future, and I will never be able to afford a house. And dearest BF, who hates it here, has his sights on a colder, rainier isle that pulls at his heart like home. And that is one thing we can't ask this beautiful, fiery isle to do: We can't ask her to be anything but herself.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Nobel-Winning Author Naguib Mahfouz Dies at 94

I love Naguib Mahfouz's work, and mourn his passing. I have felt those moments of his writing, the quiet dusk Cairene moments when the lights begin to glow from behind your neighbor's turned wood screens, when children playing in the street drift home, and the sounds of life float like the warm desert wind up to your balcony... I raise my glass of sweet mint tea to this man. I send my prayers for him up with the breath of exhaled Sheesha. He loved Egypt and he will be mourned by his beloved nation, and the World.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Limitless Human Potential?

Check out this interesting article in the Sunday Los Angeles Times by Lewis Segal. It's title is Five things I hate about ballet.
A snippet:
Ballet has given us visions of limitless human potential and a sense of grace as profound as anything we have ever thought, felt or believed. But all too often, it now commandeers a disproportionate amount of money and attention in the dance world and returns only an increasingly self-satisfied triviality.

Thinking of dancers as beautiful children might seem harmless enough, but in ballet it's part of a system that denies young people any real choices in their lives. The best foreign training processes and company structures develop distinctive artists through career-long mentoring relationships. Ours, however, too often turn out obedient classical athletes by imposing rules about where to be, what to do, how much to eat, whom to believe in and when self-esteem is deserved or not. It's even worse for the ballet women who starve themselves to match a skeletal ideal and then stop menstruating for the length of their careers. Talk about arrested development.

For the audience, this system produces something well worth hating: dancers forever young (because there's always someone new to replace them when they age) who don't really know themselves but have learned how to move skillfully and energetically while thinking critically about how they're doing — not what. It may be a minority opinion, but a life lived by someone else's counts is the ultimate unexamined existence, and it gives an audience nothing when set to music.

Although I agree that sometimes ballet is guilty of all the things he hates, I also feel like through it's discipline and training, I have felt the most alive. There is nothing like that instant when your warm and trained body does something amazing and surprising. It is like that moment at the top of a leap when you hang in the air for a split second that feels eternal. Or that feeling that every cell is breathing, moving, and alive.
I don't know how to reconcile all that yet.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


The ancient Hawaiians had too many possibilities to make mistakes. A very complex systems of Kapu (Taboos) ensured they were constantly offending, making atonement, or suffering the punishments, including death! When one had broken such a serious Kapu, there was only one thing to do: Run. Run as fast as one could to a Place of Refuge, where, once safe inside its walls, one could make atonement and be forgiven.
The Place of Refuge on this island, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, is a thatched temple surrounded by an almost insurmountable wall, at the bottom of a cliff, bordered on most sides by pounding surf. As with most Hawaiian Heiau (temples) it exists on one of the most beautiful pieces of Real Estate on the coast. However, it seems like quite a journey to get there, especially while running for your life from angry warriors.
These days Kapu are long gone, yet we still often need refuge, rest, and forgiveness. Saturday I went diving at Honaunau Bay, the protected bay adjacent to the temple. The bay is designated as a marine sanctuary, and is teeming with diverse life, including many snorkelers and quite a few divers. The topography varies from deep sandy bottom, to a steep sloping coral wall to about 70 feet, up to a vibrant coral garden around 30 feet, then shallower, sunnier corals full of snorkelers and kicked up sand at about 10 feet. It makes a spectacular shore dive due to the varied topography, the diverse life, and the ease of entry and nearby parking. In fact, I mapped this site for my Divemaster certification.
Saturday I took my brother, visiting from the mainland, and we met a friend of mine there for our second dive. We shared two hour-long dives filled with fish, protected turtles, beautiful corals, and even a large snoozing white tipped reef shark! In between dives we shared a walk in the park, pineapples, bagels, and croissants, and a bit of a sunburn. (Wetsuit sunburn: Top is burned and legs are white. Comes from folding down only the top of the suit!)
These days diving feels like my refuge. For that one hour I am floating only in the moment, free of worries, appreciating the world around me. My existence is whittled down to only my breath and my body's placement, and the beauty before me. Through monitoring my breathing, I can extend this moment for about an hour. And then the weightiness of the land crushes down upon me again.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Choreography is Intellectual Property...

But who owns it?
This battle is being played out by Pilobolus, as the New York Times reports here. A Snip:
Ms. Chase said that she was cast out by a new, corporate-minded executive director and board after three decades of service, and was denied ownership of the dances she created. “It was artistic differences and sort of a mean-spirited power grab by the board,” Ms. Chase added.

The companyÂ’s management sees it differently. The executive director, Itamar Kubovy, said Ms. Chase was demanding to do larger-scale works that the company could not afford. She was offered access to her dances and a contract to stay on but declined, he said, and she was voted off the board after she suggested that she wanted to start a potentially rival company. (Ms. Chase denies wanting to start a new company.)

In this example,collaborativeive choreographer admits that she gave her dances to the company, but seemingly only while she was a member in good standing. Should she have asserted rights overcollaborativeive company formed in an artistically collective environment? Who owns the intellectual property undercollaborationion? The article gives two examples of power-house choreographers: Martha Graham left all her dances to the Martha Graham company, and George Balanchine left all his dances to the Balanchine trust. But what kind of intellectual property rights exist for small choreographers? In a business where dancers and choreographers are happy enough to get a little cash for their work, how are we protecting this ephemeral artform?

Sunday, July 23, 2006


On Saturday I was invited by wonderfully generous friends to accompany them on an afternoon sail of the Privateer Lynx, an 1812 era reproduction of a sailing privateer used for historical education.
I helped raise the sails and coil lines. I loved the experience, and would love to take longer voyages with them the next time they are in Hawai'i. They do longer, inter-island sails (the Kawaihae to Lahaina sail is sold out), and you can even go with them back to the mainland West Coast.
Although I enjoy the maritime history of the 16th and 17th centuries more: Spice Islands! Venice! Evil Portuguese raiders! British East India Company! Curry! This privateer and her crew may just pull me into War-Of-1812 era history. We also couldn't resist talking like pirates a bit. Gar!
I love being offshore on a boat. The land is hazy and colorful in the distance, and I try to recognize the once-familiar landscape from the flip-side. We could tell the hotels and the stretch of beaches, but we are used to standing on the shore and looking out. The world flips on a boat, and you stand in the ocean and look at where you have been, knowing that it all looks strange and wrong and tiny. Looking the other way is blue: Blue below, blue above, blue as far as the horizon... My mother said that people in Hawaii are of two kinds: The kind that feels confined by the ocean (they get rock-fever and need to leave) and those that are freed by it. I love the ocean, the possibility of it all. I know that, far from the blue desert that some see, the water is teeming with life, is, in fact, the reason we are able to survive clinging to our little continental rocks. I would love to spend time on a sailing vessel like the Lynx, far from the sight of land, with nothing but ocean and sky, and the small, efficient provisions of a tidy boat. Sometimes we need such drastic changes of perspectives to remind us of our lonliness and peril, to make us thankful for the embrace of land, family, and the familiar.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Maybe its the Road Rage Talking...

I was behind this car on the commute to work this morning. Sure, it is expensive ($440k?) and fast (205mph?) but only one thought went through my head:
"Why in the World would you have this car in Hawai'i?"
Con#1) The roads are crap. Literally sometimes: My town is a cow rancher town, and the island has a large amount of gravel, dirt, and lava roads, along with roads into steep valleys. Most people have 4-wheel drives. There is a ton of traffic and the large construction trucks cause damage on the paved roads, which leads me to:
Con#2) The crap roads are under construction. I appreciate the use of my tax dollars, and the fine labor of our State contractors. But there is construction all the time. This means that one is sitting in one's stopped overheating car, awaiting the other lane. Recently I have been sitting still for around 45 minutes. For me this means knitting in place. For the Porsche owner, it means he is nowhere near his possible 205 mph, which brings me to:
Con#3) Nowhere on the island can you go faster than 55mph, with most roads being 35mph or slower. This is true legally (I should know, I have two speeding tickets to prove it!) and literally: Due to the above reasons, plus traffic, you just really can't go fast!
Con#4) No one but tourists drive convertibles. It just rains too suddenly and furiously to bother with a lid. I get giggles driving out of the rain, and seeing happy sunburnt tourists in their Mustang convertibles about to drive into a huge rainstorm...Blissfully unaware. And yes, I know they have fast lid devices and such. Still a pain in the ass! And these people have heard of skin cancer, right?
Con#5) All the above mentioned, under-construction, slow, congested paved roads are only one or two lanes. Passing is possible in designated areas, where a fast sportscar would still be within the flow of traffic attempting to pass a huge truck full of lava rock or papayas or macnuts or...Whatever.
Final Con) Even if you had an open, empty, paved, fast, unrainy, unpatrolled stretch of open road...Where are you gonna go? We are on an island!

I must conclude that the owner wanted to show off his possibilities: He spent $440K to drive 35 mph on crappy roads, in order to show the rest of us that if conditions were right, he has enough money to buy a machine that could possibly go 205 mph and leave us in the copious dust.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Little More World Cup Humor...

I heard about these. which apparently come from many sources including YTMND.

Okay: Last time I reference the head-butt, and then I am done:
Zidane Head-butt GAME!

Third World War

Some may just view this as a border skirmish between Lebanon and Israel, but I see the possibility of escalation. In the very least, we are seeing the following signs:
1) Israel proves again that it acts with no hesitation upon its most paranoid of fears. Of course they should protect themselves and their soldiers, and of course they are scared and isolated and vulnerable. They seem to be able to take care of themselves, however, with superior intelligence and targeting abilities, and that whole victimhood thing justifies a swift, violent, and decisive action.
2) Invading Gaza pisses off the Palestinians and the Egyptians.
3) Invading Lebanon pisses off the Lebanese and the Syrians.
4) Nations of the world (mine included) then bitch that it isn't between Hizbollah and Israel, it is between Lebanon, Syria, Iran, China, Palestine vs. Israel and the US. This kind of escalation is soooo very WW1 of us all, isn't it?

An interesting read about the left-wing Israelis protesting the bombings here. (Remember when Reagan said, "We shall not negotiate with terrorists"? Ah, the 1980's!)
A piece by Newt Gingrich, to whom I would not normally link, here.
In the face of all this war-mongering, let me express the following opinion:
Let us not be heavy-handed, bombing entire nations when a few crazy criminals are to blame. We no longer live in a world where Nations go to war against one another. We must defend our world of peace, freedom and economic prosperity against the crackpots of the planet, and we must do so as unified people, above and beyond national borders. Bombing the crap out of a nation because someone within it's borders is insane will get us all killed. Negotiations will not work. We need a cultural war of the mind, an economic war using the seductive power of greed, and an intelligence war.
Yes, I am a pro-war, pro-defense-spending (especially CIA), bleeding-heart, non-appologetic, pro-Islam, free-market-economist, blue-state, (sometimes) Democrat...what? You say I can't be all those things?

Friday, July 14, 2006

You Can Open the Door, Too...

Recently I was talking with my good friend about how long he should wait to call a new lady after receiving her phone number. While this conversation seemed remniscent of a scene from the movie "Swingers", the balance was in this question: How can you be complimentary without seeming desperate? How to be casual, approachable, polite, while still being confident and attractive? How do gender-based expectations differ, in terms of time, desperation, and flirtation?
In a later conversation, I complained about my BF's wishy-washy attitude about plans: He often hints about coming over, and when I wait up, it turns out he is too tired and blows me off to go home instead. Also, I hate always shouldering the responsibility of planning the dates: What movies to watch, what to eat, what time and days to meet... I feel pressured to make plans and do the work, blamed if our experiences are not good, and pushy if I feel he doesn't want to see me. And about that: Shouldn't he want to see me? Yes, I am still a rabid feminist, but I am also tired of always wearing the pants in my relationships. Are men today tired of the mixed messages? Too lazy to be gentlemen? Too afraid of being labeled as misogynist if they exude any power at all? Confidence is always sexy. And confidently expressing that you want to spend time with me is also sexy, as is knowing exactly how you want to spend that time.
Yesterday I read this great post at Crazy Aunt Purl. Please check it out. In it, she references a current article by Tom Chiarella in Esquire about boys, and the men these boys will become.
The Esquire article outlines a growing problem with boys: Their slipping University population, discipline problems, behavioral disorders... Sure, the rabid feminist side of me says that I don't really care to help them out, or distract my feminist focus from girls until I cease to make 60 cents to the dollar these boys will be making. But I have also always said that being feminist is being humanist. Overall, we search for equality of opportunity. So do I care if these boys are wasting their opportunities? Of course I care. Our society is a balance, and the entire group benefits when we lift each other's confidence, opportunities, and economies. We just aren't used to helping boys. Instead, we bitch and moan when the men fail our standards. The quote from Esquire that really made me think:
"The masculine impulse is limits testing, even self-destructive. We don't want to extinguish it," Camille Paglia, feminist critic and cultural provocateur, told me when I called. "In the age of terrorism, who will defend us? Young jihadists sure aren't tempering their masculinity. Americans are in unilateral gender disarmament."

I remember the moment when I really decided that men needed to feel the confident joy in their masculine power. It was, oddly enough, in Cairo, where I was incessantly accosted verbally and physically by these men. I came to the conclusion that the bullying wouldn't be necessary if these men had the economic, cultural and religious freedom to be powerful, to take care of the societal elements that have traditionally been theirs. To support families, build nations, and not feel shame. I disagree with Camille Paglia on this one point: Young Jihadists have had their masculinity tempered already by their collective history and limited opportunity. They are desperately trying to control their lives and express their masculinity, and this instinct turns heinously destructive. This is the final, sick end to boys "acting out".
What is a post-modern feminist to do? I don't want to fall into that feminine thought-trap of "men are just reacting to the feminist movement, and they are unsure of their roles, and it is aaaallllll our fault!" But I do have the instinct to jealously protect the gains girls and women have made. Tom Chiarella offers:
We don't have to feel threatened by the gains girls have made. We need to study them, to use them as a model for boys. The solution may be to grab on to that which is male and use it as a means to fix the problem rather than as a symptom of it.

That which is male... I want to encourage the men in my life to be the best people they can be, to exude confidence and chase their dreams. I want them to feel the joy of masculinity without fear that they are somehow oppressing me if they tell me what movie they want to watch. No fears of my feminism: Nothing makes me feel more like a woman than a smart, confident, happy man.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Be Careful With Me!

You Are Mystique

Sneaky and duplicitous, you're likely to use your powers for evil.

You're eternally young looking, people don't realize how old you really are!

Powers: Shapeshifting - you can impersonate other people or become a monster

Saturday, June 17, 2006


The geography of my commute to work often yeilds rainbows: In the morning, as I head West, the sun is behind me, and in the evening, as I head East, the sun is again behind me. As I roll from sunny workplace to rainy hometown, the light and the water droplets often welcome me home.
I tried to snap photos of the huge, entire rainbow, which stretched in a complete semi-circle, as I was driving. This seemed a bit unsafe.
The coolest thing about this photo?
This is the view from the DUMP!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In which I give my 2 cents on Worl Cup Soccer!

Just read this.
Adrastas keeps me well-informed as it is. I have attempted to roll my tired ass out of bed at 6am to watch a few games with my BF, but to no avail. I like my bed too much, and I must be honest: I don't like soccer.
I love the excitement of the World Cup, the grace and sportsmanship of the players, the political and human drama of teams like the Ivory Coast and Iran. I love to see sport as a way we all realize that all over the world, we are the same. We love, we suffer, we overcome, and we play.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Reasons I Shall Grow Up To Be That Crazy Cat Lady Who Lives in The Purple Victorian With the 200 Cats:

1) I already scare children. And Dogs.
2) I like cats, and can see how they could just multiply on you. They are cute! Just look at that photo!
3) I once had a job where I took care of a house and its 14 cats. No problem!
4) Went to do the dishes just now: Sink was full of Cocktail Shaker, Wicked Sharp Knives, and Catfood tins and lids. And this was several days worth of dishes.
5) Can read a mean Tarot Card spread. (Tarot Deck of Choice: Tarot of the Cat People.)
6) Astrological Sign: Leo.
7) Hobby: Knitting. Lots of balls of wool about for cats to play with. Secondary hobby: Wine!
8) Am working on a mane of wild grey hair. At this point hair more wild than grey, but working on it.
9) Used to be too much of a feminist to get married. Now I am just over the hill. And babies aren’t cute: They look like shrunken old bald men. And weddings are dreary affairs with bad dresses and bad cake.
10) Recently enjoy company of cat more than company of friends. Hmmmm. Probably not a good sign.
11) Able to scare off bachelors in record time, just by being uppity, weird, opinionated, aggressive, or showing them the above list.
12) Enjoyed that Cairo streets were overrun with cats. Feel a religion that worships cats makes perfect sense. Saw ONE rat while in Cairo: It was being pursued by twenty cats. Giggled with glee.
13) Come from weird family: Mom used to bark at neighborhood dogs to scare them away. Dad used to brandish rifles at neighborhood boys to scare them away. At one point in childhood, sister and I had 12 pets between the two of us. (Unfortunately, she erred on the side of Fowl.)
14) Often have whole long conversations with my cat. He is very opinionated and sarcastic, but tends towards whiny as he gets older. We disagree about Communism (He is black and white and red all over, and quotes “Mao” a lot).
15) Can dance wildly in the moonlight. Often do.
16) Can cook well. Have a book of secret recipes. Use strange herbs. Don’t yet own a cauldron (hmmm. Must get one) but sometimes cook in the fireplace. Own lots of wicked sharp knives and scary implements. Diners often report strange feelings and effects after eating my desserts.
17) Take on aspects of cats: Sleep a lot. Stretch a lot. Puurrrr. Often stretching leg over head. Distracted by bright shiny objects and yarn. Dislike fowl. Want constant attention and affection. Snobby.
18) Have been formulating this retirement plan for quite some time. Lots of people know about it, and almost all of them laugh and say, “Yeah! You will make a good crazy cat lady!” I take this as a compliment…right?
19) This list is growing…

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Who Needs Regression Therapy...

...When there is the internet!
Apparently in my past life I was in Moorish Andalusia, balancing my checkbook:
Your past life diagnosis:
You were female in your last earthly incarnation.You were born somewhere in the territory of modern Spain around the year 1350. Your profession was that of a banker, usurer, moneylender or judge.
Your brief psychological profile in your past life:
As a natural talent in psychology, you knew how to use your opportunities. Cold-blooded and calm in any situation.
The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:
Your task is to learn determination and persistency. Youd should not allow to let misfortunes take influence on your strong will.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


My very best and oldest friend visited me for a week, and it was great having her here. We realized we have known each other for almost 21 years now. Two-thirds of our lives...
We went to Akaka Falls, and the Volcano.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dahab of our Dreams

I first fell in love with the Sinai in Dahab.
This tiny stretch of cafes and campsites hugs the coast of the Red Sea, and is filled with Egyptians making their living, backpacking tourists, and Scuba divers. I went there right before I was to become a diver.
The recent bombings at the Lantern, the Al Capone and the Ghazala Supermarket are especially cruel, because they targeted local, Muslim, working or holidaying Egyptians. (Not that bombing swanky hotels, rich foreigners or vacationing Israelis is allowable, but it does fall into familiar patterns.)The idea is to cripple the local population and instill them with fear, while scaring away foreign tourists and their money.
I feel for the victims and their families, and their communities, and the entire industry. Dahab is not a rich place: the divers that camp there are budget travellers who scrape together their piastres for a campsite and an omelet at one of the beachside tables.
I have a clear memory of snorkeling in Dahab. When I lifted my face from the water, I could see the dry, red cliffs of the Sinai and the one small beachside road. It was dry, dusty, and dramatically lonely. And with one tilt of my face back into the water, a huge, lush beautiful world opened before me, filled with color and corals and life. I felt like this was the beauty of the Sinai: At first glance one thinks it is a dry desert triangle of bombs and conflict wedged between warring nations. But right under the surface is a riot of color, life, emotion and hope. This is the Dahab I remember, the Dahab I will tell divers about, the Dahab I fell in love with, the Dahab of my dreams.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Flying with Eagles

Went Diving yesterday off the Kohala coast. May actually be getting a part-time job as a Divemaster (Dive-Mistress to you!).
The highlight were two Spotted Eagle Rays flying in formation. They appeared in the distance out of the blue haze, hung in the water above a coralhead, then peeled off: One circling us and heading off into the blue, the other turning and leading us shoreward, then flipping and swimming off into the blue as well.
These photos are not those rays, but one that hung out with my brother in Palau. Rays are incredibly graceful and amazing to share the water with. They hang in meditative gracefulness, with no fear or skittishness, and then with the tiniest of flaps, disappear into the blue. They remind us of one of the joys of diving: The feeling of flying.
Apparently non-divers only feel that weightless joy in their dreams.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Pololu Valley Sunday

Off to Hawi for Sushi Rock and a short coast-side hike. This is what Pololu looked like!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Inbox Fun!

If you think your day at work is bad:

Rob is a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana. He performs underwater repairs on off shore drilling rigs. Below is the E-mail he sent to his sister. She then sent it to radio station 103.2 on FM dial Ft. Wayne, Indiana, who was sponsoring a worst job experience contest. Needless to say, she won.

Hi Sue,

Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother. Last week I had a bad day at the office. I know you've been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it's not so bad after all.

Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job. As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a suit to the office. It's a wetsuit. This time of year the water is quite cool. So what we do to keep warm is this: We have a diesel powered industrial water heater. This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea. It heats it to a delightful temperature. It then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose, which is taped to the air hose. Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I've used it several times with no complaints.

What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wetsuit. This floods my whole suit with warm water. It's like working in a Jacuzzi. Everything was going well until! All of a sudden, my butt started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse. Within a few seconds my butt started to burn. I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done. In agony I realized what had happened. The hot water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit. Now since I don't have any hair on my back, the jellyfish couldn't stick to it. However, the crack of my butt was not as fortunate. When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my butt.

I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator. His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically. Needless to say I aborted the dive. I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totaling thirty-five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression. When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet. As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to rub it on my butt as soon as I got in the chamber. The cream put the fire out, but I couldn't poop for two days because my butt was swollen shut.

So the next time you're having a bad day at work, think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your butt.

Now repeat to yourself, "I love my job, I love my job, I love my job." Now whenever you have a bad day, ask yourself, is this a jellyfish bad day?

(My Brother Michael took this gorgeous jellyfish photo in Palau. To see his other photos, see the link in the sidebar or find some HERE.)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Aloha Kai!

Met Kaiea yesterday! Three months old already and son to my favorite cousin!



More good stuff about Kai can be found here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

See, there is snow in Hawai'i...

March on the East Coast used to mean the last, huge blizzard before Bates Ice Cream faithfully opened on April First (Rain, Snow, or shine: Ice cream even if you had to ski across town to get a cone). March in Hawai'i means the last big snowcap on Mauna Kea, dwindling whales, and Spring Break tourists! Today there is also snow on Mauna Loa.

An article about Bates Ice Cream in Carlisle, Massachusetts.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Inbox Fun

I always knew there was something hardcore Rock and Roll about Pandas! Rock on, Ursine Ace, Gene, Peter, and Paul!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Not an Oil Painting!

The view from my balcony right after sunset tonight. Wonderful clouds!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mauna Kea Artificial Reef?

There is a proposal to sink a retired vessel off Kona as an artificial reef.
The boat would be in 100 feet of water on a sandy bottom. As long as the vessel is drained of any hazardous fuels or chemicals, artificial reefs can be a beautiful addition to the health of the marine environment. I am reminded of the wrecks in Truk Lagoon. While these boats went down in tragic wartime conditions, they now are blooming with life: corals, anemones, and fish nurseries. The wrecks give the life a structure to adhere to, and lift the corals towards the sunlight, providing a reef home in a sandy spot that would not otherwise support life.
From a selfish diving point of view, this wreck would add to the Scuba tourism in this County. It would also offer a place for wreck dive certification and technical diving training. And as much as I personally tend to smack coral-crawling tourists about the head, mostly scuba tourism increases ecological awareness.

My Brother took these photos in Truk Lagoon:

This is the kind of life we could look forward to on an artificial reef:

Massive Rain and Storms, here and on the West Coast.

I listen to the pounding rain outside as I read news of snow in San Diego, rain in Tucson, icy pileups on the Golden Gate bridge. I wrote this 2 years ago during the massive rainstorms that flooded the island. At the time I was surrounded by wild devastation, and the personal sorrow of losing a friend.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

(Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)

How odd it is to witness a storm that drenches this rock with so much water, then exist for days on end with not a drop to drink (or shower, or flush). The Storm mimicked my mood: pride, tension, a release of pent up energy, then the rain, wind, waves, then the floods and destruction.

The drought of the sinks would almost be bearable: an adventure, a few days of change in routine. Paper plates, showers at work, laundry piling up. Catching rainwater and skimming the leaves out to flush the toilets… Somehow it connects us to the earth and the fury and consequences of nature. Schools have closed, shops and restaurants are cut back. Port-a-potties everywhere and no fountain drinks at McDonalds. But our thirst is made so much worse by the abundance of water everywhere. The whole damn Pacific Ocean surrounds us! Everywhere the rain has caused rivers and lakes that weren’t there before; people’s houses are flooded, my carseat is wet! Oddly enough it was probably the weight of the flooding that caused the watermain to break in the first place.

So this is our punishment for our comfort, ego, hubris…This is our slap for becoming comfortable in the public services that protect us. A dry reminder of our powerlessness in the face of nature, and a wakeup call for our lonely rock. We are perched on this tiny violent shard with Nature’s anger knocking on our door. It is truly an amazing, humbling place.

And exhausting. I have been tired this week. I think I am just pushed too far. Tired of straining leaves out of the toilet tank. Tired of worrying that I will hydroplane off the road and lose my car in class 5 rapids in the drainage ditch. Tired of the rain and the mold in my house. Tired of fighting for friendships gone. Last night I went dancing. I just told it all to get away. Didn’t take a shower at work. Didn’t scrounge for food. Made tea out of precious drinking water… you get the point… So I went dancing: not clubbing, but just dancing hosted by crunchy hippies playing good music. Got my heart rate up and sweated like I had a future date with a shower. Danced to my tiredness, irritation, powerlessness, the storm, and the drought of it all. Drought of water, ease, understanding, patience and friendship. It was great. I was warm, sweaty, expressing. Went home and fell asleep. When I woke up early this morning (early, so I could get to work early and shower), stumbled to the kitchen to start my tea, and to the bathroom… Oh! The simple joy of turning the tap and having water come out! Fresh, clean, hot, potable water! (I would call it a rain dance if it hadn’t been raining forever, already) I may dance again tonight. Or I may go home and experience the simple joys of laundry and doing dishes.

My friend R told me a story of this storm: She lives next to our friend the Magician. During the storm his dove-cote fell over and all his doves got out, and were being tossed about in the wind and rain. She was the only one home, and she was running around in the yard, trying to catch and secure six retired magic doves. The image was so tragic and beautiful: her jungle of a yard on the cliff being blasted by wind, rain and surf. The delicate white doves being slammed into trees, tossed in the wind. The grey/green of the air during a storm like that filled with white feathers. She was able to catch five doves. The sixth dove was blown out to sea and never seen again. I understand why ancient Hawaiians developed their spirituality around Nature. I am not afraid of sharks, storms, eruptions or being blown out to sea. None of these deaths seem particularly tragic: they seem somehow connected to the energy of the planet. Feeding the volcano, so to speak. What does seem tragic is being hit by a bus, an overdose, wasting away with no hope and a beaten self-image... letting a friendship go for the comfort of a bottle and a line in the sand. I think about that dove. I have a secret hope that one day it will appear in some magician’s hat, with no excuses nor explanations, just pop up like an old forgotten friend.

Nature’s balance.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What Other Divers are up to:

From Yahoo News:
A team of American-led divers has discovered a new crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster and is covered with what looks like silky, blond fur, French researchers said Tuesday.
Scientists said the animal, which they named Kiwa hirsuta, was so distinct from other species that they created a new family and genus for it.
The family was named Kiwaida, from Kiwa, the goddess of crustaceans in Polynesian mythology.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Congrats to Davis!

A wonderful benefit of living near family:
Went to Hawaii State High School swimming meet to cheer on my cousin, who shall no longer be fast due to the added weight of all his gold medals!



Set the 50-yard freestyle record at the state championship meet in 20.73, breaking the mark of 20.80 set by Punahou's Nick Borreca in 2001, won the 100 free in 46.28 seconds and was part of the Warriors' winning 200 free and 400 free relay teams to help Kamehameha win its first boys team state championship.

(From Honolulu Advertiser)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sunset Tonight during the drive home:

Dreams of Whale Songs...

Went Diving Yesterday with Kohala Divers.

It is March, so the humpback whales are just about ready to leave: Some have left already. Last month diving was like swimming through sound. I couldn't see them, but their songs filled the water around me, and I finally saw one breach (on the surface).
This month there are just less of them. Less Tail Flukes, less spouts, and less songs underwater. I am sad to see them go.
Before the whales come, the whole island feels tense. We ask each other, "Have you seen one yet?" and we tell third party tales of someone somebody knows who saw one already... But everyone is tense until they see the first one. We get excited then disappointed in rocks and waves masquerading as spouts. And then one day in December or so, we finally see one! A single spout right off the coast: We stare at the blue water for another 10 minutes, willing it to reveal it's leviathan secrets.
All winter I have been dreaming of the whales. My dreams are filled with whales jumping joyously out of the sea, spinning slowly, and splashing back into the waves with a crash. And yet I did not actually see one breach until last month, and that whale was far away. So my tension and expectation lasted longer this year. Finally I just needed to get into the water and swim through their songs...