Prince Kuhio Day:
It is one of only two holidays in the United States dedicated to royalty, the other being Hawai'i's King Kamehameha Day June 11.
It's a big deal too. It's a day off regardless of the day of the week. Most holidays get shifted to the nearest Monday or Friday in order to be more convenient for businesses. But people are out for PKD no matter when it falls.
Only three states existed as independent republics prior to joining the U.S.: Vermont, Texas, and Hawaii.
Unrelated to Hawaii, a unique work-related experience happened to me. I had to move 107 records from an Excel file into a database. It took a lot of massaging of the data to match the structure in the database.
But when I tried to import the data, it worked. Without error. The first time.
That never happens. Nothing like that ever works the first time. There is always a missing semi-colon or un-escaped apostrophe or something equally trivial that causes the import to stick.
It's possible, slightly, that I now have enough experience that I don't make the sorts of mistakes that result in errors for this kind of thing. But my guess is that I just got lucky.
I couldn't get a good photo as a I stood on the upper dune overlooking Hilo Bay. It was dusk and a skyscraper-sized cruise ship was turning around the end of the breaker wall while 8 or so outrigger canoes, with 6 paddlers in each one, raced laps closer to shore. Seeing the two types of boat sharing the same body of water struck me as an apt metaphor for this place. The out-of-towners, mostly white, in a position of affluent distance, relying on technology and a hired crew to move them from one side of the island to another, removed from the worst (but also some of the best) aspects of Hawaii and the Big Island. And the locals, mostly of mixed Asian descent, much closer to the Earth, working hard, using an ancient traditional method to go back and forth over the same short distance.
Leaf blowers are, unfortunately, very common here, especially around banks and government buildings. In this climate, tree-trimming, leaf and yard-waste removal is a year-round effort, but the blowers are unmuffled and really a nuisance. At only one non-residential building have I ever seen someone remove leaves with a rake and broom: at the Hilo Betsuin, one of the local Buddhist temples. I suppose this is in keeping with their stated focus on simplicity and respect for others. Amid the din of their neighbors' leaf-blowers, it was refreshing to see someone take the same amount of time with a broom to accomplish the same goal. I think I understand a little better the appeal that Buddhism has for some Americans - those who wish for a return to a quieter, simpler existence.
There's a guy living in a U-Haul truck by Bayfront Park. It's one of those $19.99/day rentals and he has all his stuff in there. Clean public bathrooms with showers are plentiful here, and I've seen him cooking dinner over a little grill. So although his place is small, he basically has a mobile oceanfront apartment for ~$600/month.
Leisure is an important part of life here - more than anywhere I've ever been - and I think that helps explain why this is also the only place I've been where so many men play with remote-control vehicles. It's very common to see a middle-aged guy in a park, controlling a car or an airplane. In any other state I think the guy would be seen as a loser or an eccentric at best. Here it's just something to do on a pleasant evening.
The poorer you are (to a point), the bigger your car (or truck). The richer you are, the smaller your car.
I want to live in a place that has an active "Maker" community, a place that does "circuit-bending" and other STEM-style activities to take the kids. Hilo has Hawaii Tech Works (http://easthawaii.org/program-areas/hawaiitechworks/) and the local Ace hardware used to have science demos every Sunday. But there just isn't enough population here and the weather is too good to sustain the kinds of clubs that conduct indoor activities.
In small towns with crummy weather you can have book clubs and quilting groups and cooking clubs etc. and you can have those things in big cities regardless of weather. But in towns under 100,000 or so that have good weather people are outside. They have fun and do stuff with other people while fishing, swimming, paddleboarding, etc.
I don't like crummy weather, but if I want to live in a smaller city and have a community of indoor-activity enthusiasts, it can only be in a place with crummy weather.
The people who move here prioritize weather.
We all have priorities. There are 20 or so facets of life that get prioritized consciously or not.
Some put work above friends, often indirectly. They may not intend it, but if they take a job one place and live in a home that is an hour and a half away, they aren't going to have time in the evening to spend with friends.
Some put family before job, meaning they have time together but not much money.
Some put religion before family, resulting in aloof relationships.
The people who move here prioritize weather.
The second priority is what distinguishes them as one group or another. Militant veganism is one secondary priority. Surfing and other water activity is another.
Some even prioritize career, ambition, and making money, although they seem like a small minority. It's that priority that seemed to define most New Yorkers, though. They certainly weren't there for the weather or water sports.
I like good weather. And in fact I can say truthfully that I hate bad weather. Yet avoiding cold weather isn't my top priority. I've met so many people here and in Florida and in southern California that hate cold weather. That's what defines them and that is the only thing they have in common with their neighbors.
I want to live in a place where what I have in common with my neighbors is a little deeper than a common dislike of snow.
Living here for (only!) 25 weeks has been like living in a metaphor. The phrases I use about our time here sound a lot like descriptions of mortality: e.g. "We don't have much time left so let's make the most of it"
What this has meant is that I've tried harder to do something interesting every day. It's not realistic to "live each day as if it were your last" because on your last day of life you wouldn't have to go to the bank or wash the dishes or think about how much dinner costs.
The lesson I've taken, that I hope to follow from now on, is to do something memorable each day.
It doesn't have to be unique, and most of the day can still be spent working, running errands, raising the kids, but as long as I go somewhere new or see something beautiful, or have a new or particularly good experience (i.e. novelty or pleasure) then I've lived in the spirit of carpe diem.
I don't remember a spoof ever being so much better than the original (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AJmKkU5POA) and unline Weird Al's parodies, the music in this isn't at all related to the original.
Some of the "BLR"s are the funniest stuff on YouTube (Like their Spiderman one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7jtpy0lfBU)
Driving a white minivan: boo!
Driving a white minivan to a volcano: yay!
I learned a fact about tsunamis. They stink horribly.
The water that goes into a wave comes primarily from the part of ocean just ahead of the crest; a trough appears because there is a wave behind it.
So a very large wave, such as a tsunami, takes an enormous amount of water just ahead of the crest.
People who have experienced tsunamis say they know when one is imminent because the water level at the shore starts droppping quickly, like a sped-up ebb tide.
A tsunami that is large enoughtakes so much water ahead of itself that the ocean floor is sometimes exposed - all the muck that has sat at the bottom of the ocean for decades or longer is suddenly exposed to the air and the stench can be smelled from a mile away.
A chicken has moved into the parking lot at our building. It has taken control over the bushes surrounding the pavement. A mynah bird has been pestering the chicken for a while, but the chicken always manages to chase it off.
A few people have come by to try and catch it and they have all failed in an entertaining way.
I think it may actually be a rooster. It looks like a chicken but it crowed today in a weak version of ER-er-ER-er-ERRRRRR.
Can chickens exhibit male behavior when no other males are around?
I remember my basic mai tai recipe (or what I call a mai tai) as "2-1-2" which is also the area code for Manhattan (at least before the proliferation of connected devices allowed the addition of "6-4-6").
2 parts sour mix or mai tai mix. (I like to use plain passionfruit juice, which is effectively concentrated fruit juice, but
sour mix is fine.) To make your own mix that doesn't taste of malic acid and fructose corn syrup, mix equal parts brown sugar, water and lime/lemon juice. A cup of turbinado sugar mixed with a cup of water makes simple syrup, and adding a cup of sour fruit juice (such as lime) makes a very good sour mix.
1 part dark rum. I tried the Maui dark rum and it was good, but maybe too dark. Even mixed in a sweet cocktail, I could taste the wood sap of the aging. So a conventional dark rum is probably better.
2 parts seltzer or ginger ale if the run is string-tasting and you need to sweeten it a bit.
Serve over lots of ice
We use coin-operated washing machines and go through a lot of quarters - sometimes a few dozen in a week. Most of the quarters I see are state quarters, with a different U.S. state represented on the back. And many others are the new ones that depict different national parks.
Most of the state quarters I see are for Hawaii (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2008_HI_Proof.png), which suggests to me that state quarters are released to banks in the relevant state, although I don't know that.
And most of the national park quarters (officially named, "America the Beautiful" quarters) I see are for the Volcanoes Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2012-ATB-Quarters-Unc-Hawaii.jpg).
Excluding those, however (as well as the plain old eagle obverse ones), I get a bit of a picture of where our fellow money-users have been. For example, almost all of the other America the Beautiful quarters I've seen show Denali park in Alaska. Many tourists are here after visiting Alaska, and I've met many Alaskans who spend the Winter in Hawaii. The only other one I've seen is Acadia park in Maine.
For state quarters, the most common one after Hawaii is Nevada. And that seems to be the most popular destination for Hawaiians looking for work on the mainland. After Nevada, the most common quarter has been Virginia, but that probably has less to do with my theory and more to do with how money moves - and is past the point of significance anyway.
There are also a surprising number of "drummer boy" quarters from 1976. I thought people collected those. Their presence could be a sign of how American history isn't as big of a deal here. Or maybe it's a sign of how old stuff tends to linger here.
I don't know anyone's surname here, and I don't think they know mine. Things operate on a first-name basis
Too many modern baby names are titles of jobs at renaissance fairs:
fletcher, cooper, mason, archer, tanner
One of the (numerous) advantages of "having" to take the bub to the beach every day is that my feet haven't been this healthy in years if nogt decades. The salt water and sand exfoliation have made them look and feel better than I can remember.
Another advantage is that watching the surf wash in and move sand around is a great focus for musing over life's questions.
Today's conclusion is that The Butterfly Effect is hogwash.
The concept (first conceived, or at least written down, by Edward Lorenz) is that a single flap of a butterfly's wings could cause a hurricane weeks later.
Even if we disregard such a bold hypothetical scenario, the concept is appealing, especially when looking over longer spans of time. "If Caesar had crossed the Rubicon one day later, would Hitler have still risen to power nearly two millenia later?"
But watching the beach has taught me that most small changes to the environment are marginalized to the point of insignificance by larger forces.
I can dig a big hole in the sand but after a few waves come in, the hole is obliterated and the beach looks the same as before. Individual grains of sand are in different places had I not interfered, but the beach as a whole is completely unaffected, and certainly no hurricane will or will not exist because of my actions.
Human beings can have an impact on the world and on future events, but the initial action has to be huge, such as an oil spill.
It's narcissistic to believe that our small actions have any effect on the world.
Living in Hawaii has also been a lesson in economics. Part of why the economy is depressed here is that people just don't need as many goods or services here. There is no market for heating oil or boots or building insulation or any other thing related to cold weather.
In cold climates there is a lot of demand for things related to being cold, and not just hot drinks but all of the infrastructure required to serve people hot drinks. As long as people here are content to simply sit outside and eat home-cooked meals, the economy here cannot rival that of northern states.
The tides here are not as significant as they are on the mainland. I realize that it's because when the tides move in along a continent, they have nowhere to go but up. While in the islands, the water just moves around the bits of land forthe most part.
There was obviously a boom time in Hilo in the early 1930s and another in the early 1970s but there seems to be have been little investment into infrastructure since then. The buildings all seem to date from the 70s and have not been maintained. So many towns suffer from overly aggressive real estate development that adds some extra local property tax dollars for a few years and then becomes an eyesore and/or a slum. But Hilo could use a bit more development.
It's odd to see tourists come in and many of them are obviously disappointed that there isn't more to do. This is the first stop in Hawaii for many of the cruise ships and people have money that they want to spend, but can't find ways to spend it.
Actually, the 1890s were a boom time as well, which suggests that there's an economic boom here every 40 years and there should be one happening right now. Or maybe it's just around the corner...
The 1920s were an interesting time for Hawaii. It was effectively an American colony, still decades away from statehood and it was during this "landrush" period that many families built the foundations of the many mini-empires that now dot the island.
It was also a time when the US was trying to hold on to Hawaii however it could because of its strategic military position, and they did not want an independent Hawaii, nor did they want England or France to reassert their claims.
So they enacted the Jones Act
which said that all shipments to Hawaii had to come from the US, in US ships, manned by US crews. This kept Hawaii dependent on the US.
It also had the consequence of making prices high to this day. Unlike other U.S. ports, the ports of Hawaii are unable to receive cargo ships from, for example, China, even though this would be an obvious stopping point on the way to California, for refueling if for no other reason.
In fact, given Hawaii's unique place on the globe, if it weren't for the Jones Act, goods would probably be cheaper here than anywhere else.
Walked over the Mehana Brewery the other day: http://hawaiinuibrewing.com/
Not a long walk although I had to go on a few side roads that didn't have sidewalks - not a big deal but less ideal with a stroller.
My favorite of theirs is the Tsunami IPA but they didn't have that. They had their other 6 available for tasting. Tasting is free and they give generous 3oz pours for each taste.
I got a growler of the Hapa Brown.
I asked where they got their ingredients and the lady said they'd like to grow as much of their own as possible but Hawaii regards hops as an invasive species (it takes over like kudzu once it takes root) so they import the hops from New Zealand orthe mainland.
I appreciate protecting the environment here from invasive species, but there seem to be many many examples of regulations that end up hurting small businesses.
Saw a woman driving while eating today - with chopsticks
They include, "Saudade" (Portuguese)
A somewhat melancholic feeling of incompleteness. Longing for something that might never return.Yearning.
Another I learned was the Japanese word "genki", which translates roughly as "well" as in "feeling well" or how some people use the word "wellness". My understanding of the word is that it means "healthy in body and spirit"
There is a subtext here, that English has plenty of words to express anger but not enough to express fear, tenderness, or nostalgia
The new year marks the end of our second month in Hilo, 1/3rd of the way through our adventure. Our building is currently under lockdown because a man, after shooting two police officers (in the legs) ran toward the building.
This is the second manhunt in Hilo in the past month. The first was when two men escaped from the local "correctional center"
There is a good ol' boy / redneck-y feel to this place sometimes. I don't fear for my own safety, but we're never far from guys who like to get into trouble.
Christmas was a nice meal (all vegan, and quite tasty) with friends and about a dozen kids altogether. Met a guy who maintains some of the detectors at one of the telescopes. He's in charge of keeping the equipment very cold using liquid helium. He doesn't even work for the researchers, but for the hardware manufacturer. Like most things, radio telescopy is a very specialized industry.
New Year's was low-key. In the afternoon, people started shooting fireworks (legal in HI) in their neighborhoods and we had a good vantage point from the lanai. By midnight there were hundreds, if not more, small fireworks displays throughout the city. The air stank of burnt sulfur and a cloud of haze hung over the city, despite it being an otherwise clear night. It was a good example of a bottom-up celebration. I had never thought before about how municipal fireworks shows are really a very patriarchal tradition.
Been going to the beach more, almost every day. There are lots of beaches to choose from, just in walking distance, although most are quite modest. The tides here are very consistent and low tide is always in the early afternoon, meaning when we go there is usually lots of sand but also lots of flotsam and jetsam. It's OK when it's sticks and leaves, less OK when it's band-aids.
The bub throws rocks in the water and I enjoy the breeze and the sunset.
Saw an obese woman kayaking. I kept waiting for her to capsize, and she seemed prepared for that. It never happened while I was looking but seemed inevitable since the center of gravity of her+boat was above the water line.
I've never seen so many joggers here as I did on the day after New Year's Day (Jan 2). Last year my resolution was to stop bothering with New Year's resolutions, and so far that's the only one I've ever kept.
I've been over-indulging in macnuts. The ones with onion powder are addictive. The bags claim to have 10-12 servings per bag, but for me it's more like 3. Unfortunately there are over 2,000 macnut calories in the bag, so eating a whole one in less than 24 hours is not healty.
These past 6 weeks have been the first in my memory when I didn't catch a cold.
One of the big events coming up is that the state of Hawaii has banned the use of plastic shopping bags. I think it's the only state to have such a ban. Some people (we're among them) have been hoarding bags since it's what they use for trash bags. I've heard people speak in concerned tones about when is the exact date of the ban; it doesn't seem to have been well-publicized.
Hilo has a major port where cargo ships dock, and Hilo thus has the good fortune of having cheaper prices than other cities on the island, which all rely on trucks driving it the additional distance from Hilo. Because Hawaii imports almost all food, and because so much of that food comes in on the cargo ships, there is an interesting economic phenomenon where markets are frequently glutted and then made scarce again. A ship may arrive, with - for example - many cases of Bush's black beans. The buyers get a good price because of the volume and some of that price gets passed on to the grocery stores, which keep the prices relatively low in order to be competitive with the other stores. And the price may be 1/2 or even 1/3 of the normal price; something that is normally $3.99 could be $1.49 after the ship comes in. This creates a culture of bargain-hunting. I have seen people leave the supermarket with 5 bags full of nothing but cup-a-noodle, because the supply is full and prices are low.
My shopping style is to go to a store knowing what I want, and then buy the cheapest one they have. But in this culture, with such huge variation in price, I have adopted the local practice.
Our local Ace hardware store in Hilo (333 Kilauea) hosts a "Hardware Science" activity every week, demonstrating a science principle in a fun way. They have a book written by "Wizard IV", the purported intellectual descendant of Wizard I (Michael Faraday) and Wizard III (Don Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard).
Intrigued, I searched and found the site whelmers.com a site with some of the 20,000 science activities collected over the past 200 years, designed to not overwhelm the audience/students, but merely "whelm" them.
He explains a concept that has occurred to me before only in a very rough way, that culture is in some part determined by the qualities of the language of that culture. If a language does not include, for example, the subjunctive mood (woulda coulda shoulda) then that culture is unable to express 'what might have been', and thus actually experiences less self-doubt and regret.