Wednesday, October 31, 2012

While Watching The Racheal Maddow Show

Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show put out a friendly reminder that the American Red Cross does not like people sending them well intentioned canned goods etc. for disaster relief. "It only creates an extra job for the Red Cross who already have a logistical nightmare on their hands."

The American Red Cross webpage:

The American Red Cross does not accept or solicit individual donations such as food and used clothing, which must be sorted which impedes the valuable resources of money, time and personnel that are needed for other aspects of our relief operation.

[Instead] financial contributions allow the Red Cross to purchase what is needed for the specific disaster relief operation. Monetary donations also enable the Red Cross to purchase relief supplies close to the disaster site which avoids delays and transportation costs .... and also stimulates the weakened local economy.

Obviously, there are varying degrees to how the advisory applies or exceptions, for example, I don't think the Red Cross would mind you dropping off canned goods in person at the disaster zone's Red Cross shelter to keep the onsite kitchen stocked. Otherwise, as the Red Cross website said, you usually end up doing more harm than good. If unsolicited canned goods is a headache for the Red Cross, showing up in person as an uninvited superhero at the disaster zone to aid in the clean-up puts it's own strain on the relief efforts, since volunteers need to be housed, fed, take showers, in an area that is already low on these facilities. On the topic of canned goods, personally, I feel it's unnecessary to give the expensive stuff even if you can afford to part with it. That applies as well to local food drives because nobody expects it and the odds are unscrupulous volunteers will take the expensive canned goods home. That might sound cynical but unless you implanted an RFID tracking micro chip in the donated item I'd place my bets on the side of human instinct.

Strategically, Mitt Romney put his presidential campaign on hold to show his respects. I say strategically because when Obama puts his campaign on hold, but the media zooms in and focuses on Obama, what else is Romney to do except what Romney does best and that's connecting with the American people. I forget but it was either the host of the MSNBC show before or following Racheal Maddow noted that New Jersey will take the next decade to recover. Meanwhile, Romney didn't forsake absolutely all media coverage. His Ohio rally was altered to a disaster rally where of all things the republican organizers asked the audience to bring in canned goods and disaster relief supplies just the opposite of what the Red Cross said they needed in these types of situation. It's reminiscent of Romney's visit to the London Olympics when and where he took the occasion to overcook things too.

The plan was for supporters to bring in hurricane relief supplies to the event and then [hand the] bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to Romney .... To complete the photo op, Romney would .... carry the goods out of the gymnasium and into the Penske rental truck parked outside.

The Making Of Romney's Storm Relief Event
McKay Coppin | BuzzFeed

But there was another problem: what if supporters showed up without materials to drop off? Team Romney prepared for that, too -- the night before the "relief event," campaign aides went to a local Wal Mart and spent $5,000 on "granola bars, canned food, and diapers," which could then be displayed for cameras.

'Just grab something'
Steve Benen | MSNBC

Sunday, October 28, 2012

No Tsunami

The all clear was sounded at 1:40am. The folks at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center didn't get the height of the wave right, *fortunately*. Waves were predicted between 2 to 7 feet. Only at Kahului Harbor, Maui, did one wave front reach 2.5-feet. However, the PTWC's projected energy map (below) was spot on based on the readings of the NOAA pacific bouys. This level of accuracy wasn't even on the radar a few years ago. As shown on the map, the looming spectre of a direct hit on the islands heightened the sense of alarm irregardless of the size of the wave a coming. The projected 7-feet wave might not seem extremely destructive but it's packs enough volume of water to flood the land a few hundred yards inshore. In fact, the distance between the ocean and the Ala Wai canal where I'm at is only a few hundred yards wide and I'd been saturated from two fronts as a 7-foot wave traveled upstream on the Ala Wai. As usual, much of the night's traffic congestion was instigated by people filling up gas and buying survival supplies the last minute. Honk if you like, perhaps the proprietors should forgo the windfall profit and voluntarily shut down their stores, at least, for the hour or two immediately following the civil defense siren so the street stay open for more reasonable people just trying to get home. True, the odds of that ever happening is nil.

Even for a sense of relief, I've never found anything humorous about these non-disaster outcomes. A few years ago, there was a new products exhibition, and one booth had a mega screen which played videos of Hawaii's last hurricane. People would get up in front of the mega screen with the hurricane video as a backdrop, and perform impromptu reditions of a tv weather reporter. Meterologists, I guess is the proper term. Aspiring meterologists, so to speak. There was this kid who got up in front of the hurricane screen and was laughing and being funny with his reportage, and a local tv station showed the kid's antics as part of their coverage of the new product exhibition on the 6 o'clock news. To me, that showed a total lack of empathy for the victims of the hurricane. Suffice it to say that the kid didn't know any better. However, the tv station did know better. If you've ever been to a natural disaster zone, the air is thick with the quiet after the storm. The air is also thick with dispair allevieted to some degree by the numbness of the shock over the level of destruction. Many people have lost personal belongings and numerous items possessed irreplaceable sentimental value. Less fortunate victims will never be able to afford to rebuild their property ever. Also, in the interim, there's no hot water to take warm baths. That's if there's even water flowing in the pipes to come outta the water spout. There's no electricity to cook. Or, for that matter, neither for lights at night. So the nights are dark with an eerie quiet. When daylight breaks it's the same scene.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

T-Minus 2 Hours (HST)

And boy, am I pissed. The sirens started blaring at 8 PM tonight, however when I checked with the Hawaii Civil Defense website, the latest printout already stated that the 5pm British Columbia earthquake HAD already been upgraded to a WARNING at 7 PM. What may I ask is the reason for an entire hour's delay between the 7pm upgrade to sounding the sirens at 8. Mind you, this is for a 10:28pm tsunami arrival. This past June, Hawaii had been experiencing sporadic siren malfunctions due to an electronic signal somewhere in the mainland inadvertantly setting off sirens in a few local communities because those particular local sirens were using the same software programs as their mainland counterparts and when the mainland people ran tests on the mainland sirens, the same test signals remotely triggered the local sirens all the way in the middle of the Pacific. So, I thought perhaps the previous malfunction issue hadn't been fully resolved. But this isn't so.

This is a Saturday night with hordes of local people spending the evening in low lying Waikiki thusly an extra hour is crucial for the non-tourist evacuation. As we speak, there's a huge traffic jam on the Ala Wai Blvd. which has the least number of stoplights. Even when the traffic light turns green, there's no room on the other side of the intersection for the cars to move up. Ridiculous. My bikes are parked in a below sea level parking basement a mere 50-feet across the street from the Ala Wai canal with no higher level parking floors. The canal empties into the ocean downstream about 1½-miles from where I live along the Ala Wai so should a wave traveling up the Ala Wai overflow the banks across the street from me then water will pour into our below sea level parking basement. It is too late to move my two bikes to higher land with all the traffic, I have to walk back home for the second bike, and that's even without being picky about finding a vacant but safe parking stalls, and splitting lanes high tailing it over to the higher elevation. Most likely the forecasted tsunami will have a subtle impact. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Chair in the Oval Office

I bought the chair above for my computer desk over a year ago from Office Depot on Ala Moana Blvd. for $180. Assembly required. Since the very day I put it together, it has not appreciated me sitting on it. Yes, It, apparently has a temperment all to it's own. When I get up, the chair swivels, specifically the seat of the chair points to a different direction from whence I left it. It's a swivel chair so it's suppose to swivel. However, it should only swivel while you're seated and and only becuz you turned it to face in another direction. Not swivel on it's own digression. Why? Becuz when you sit back down without looking, you end up sitting on the armrest. Either the left armrest or the right armrest. It feels the same to the back of your tigh. Or, okole (butt) for that matter. It's plain aggravating. I do get up from the chair frequently, for example, just reaching for things that are out of reach. I know better to look before I sit, but I forget due to poor memory. Not funny.

Anyways, I finally got tired of it. Over a year of this rigamarole, take it from me, you do get tired of the same routine after thousands of what would you call it, musical chairs solitaire, etc., day in day out, until you're only this much away from tossing it into the Ala Wai canal or mailing it to Clint Eastwood, maybe that. What I did was I turned the chair upside down and there's a retention clip at the very bottom of the column that houses the gas chamber. The column connects the seat part of the chair to the five-legged base. The retention clip, there's a protective washer that backs up the retention clip there to prevent the edges of the retention clip from grinding away the metal component as the chair swivels clockwise or counter clockwise. The secondary purpose of the washer is to provide the necessary friction to keep the chair from swiveling on it's own. Unfortunately, the washer that was used wasn't thick enough to keep things tight enough and in turn provide enough friction. If the factory had used a nut instead of the slip-on retention clip you could just re-tighten the nut a few turns. I did try facing the five-legged base to different clock positions to see if the heavy point of the seat, logically the backrest portion, was not in fact swiveling to the lowest point of the floor since all floors aren't perfectly level, and the five legs of the base may not be perfectly level to each other which might explain in more scientific terms why the seat of the chair swivels on it's own instead of remaining at the incumbent position, albeit you would tunk that if off level-ness was the culprit there would be a specific compass direction that the seat wouldn't swivel at all if it was already pointed in that direction much like a lazy susan on a level table but not so. Back to the washer. I detached the aforementioned retention clip. Then stacked a second backup washer behind the retention clip to provide the required friction. That simple.

[edit] I did ask the floor salesman about how to prevent the chair from swiveling on it's own, but he didn't have a clue as usual. That's what I meant by, "That simple."

*Found this pic on the Internet today. Note the single backup washer under the retention clip.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stone Lanterns

I ride pass the Stone Pagodas on Kahala Ave. almost every day. How many pilgrims will find solace there when the stone garden is finished and opened to the public. For some reason it appeared that there had been a few more stone fixtures added to the area. What it was though was they had bulldozed the topography more flat so more pagodas were visible from the street. For years, this property had an 8-foot tall wall fronting the street. What lay behind those very walls? Well, walls are for privacy. So I guess privacy lay behind the 8-foot wall. The lantern above is 7-8 feet tall. And it's chiseled out of stone quarried from some perfecture in Japan, not cast concrete for seven dawrfs. Btw, all the houses on Kahala Ave. have U-shaped driveways. Cars don't reverse blindly into the street that's why I like riding through there.

The tall stone lanterns are stationed on opposite sides of the front gate. There's a hollow grill at the top section, so for all I really know, the lanterns might even be functional to illuminate the path once the wires get plugged in. If they're thinking it which I'm only too sure they are, Hawaii Five-O should film elsewhere. It should be off limits if they 10-4. With a pair of Chinese guardian lions, those animals that flank a Chinese restaurant's front entrance, one lion is yin and the other yang. I never knew which is which, or whether yin has to be always on the left and so forth. One lion has a ball in his mouth or his paw on a ball, etc. The other doesn't. I surmise there's yin & yang to the stone lanterns as well. Friendly reminder .... while you're out shopping, every now and then buy the expensive item. There's no virtue in being prodigal, but if you always, always, buy the cheaper item, virtue has it's limits. You'll feel cheap. I've mentioned my frugality in earlier posts, for example, a roll of paper towels last me 6 months. I haven't even opened the last roll of paper towels that I bought two months ago, but it's the kind that's perforated in such a way that you can tear off half sheets. Save trees.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Targeted Online Ads .... plus a few more Romneys

Guess what's playing on YouTube these days? The answer is political ads. And not any political ads, but, rather, local kind political ads. On my screen, political ads for Hawaii Senate races. That's before you get to see the video, but at least somebody knows I vote and I guess their way of thanking me. Also, if  I shop for Maserati's on Ebay, then a few innocent clicks later, I visit The New York Times website, lo and behold, there's a freshly minted ad for Maserati's staring at me on the NYT's website. 'They' track you so well, but how they do it nor who they are I don't know. (*Maserati is a fictional object. Just using it as a figure of speech.*) Meanwhile back at the ranch, how I wish the spell check icon would magically appear back where it use to be on my Blogger's editor page. I don't spell well, and I verify proper spelling at Webster, ect., switching tabs, instead of simply highlighting the word in question. After a while, it gets distracting switching back and forth between tabs.

Anyways, do you remember the political aphorism that, "Republicans worry about what to steal next, while Democrats worry about whether to steal." It's anologous to Mitt Romney denouncing Obama for unkept promises during Wednesday night's debate. Obviously since false promises have always been the Republicans strong suit, what Romney really objects to by using this tactic is Obama's infringement on a GOP's patent. That is, the Republican's own the rights to teflon. The size of the bridge they sell you is irrelevant. You shoulda known better, dummies. Albeit, Obama's promises were the stuff of lofty ambitions that matured into falsehoods largely due his inexperience with Washington DC. Obama was far from a veteran Lyndon Johnson who knew how to twist arms and sweet talk the republican opposition into a deal. Obama's style failed largely on the illusion that he could get oil and water to mix.

Meanwhile, Democrats have just got to stop this feeling bad about failing to fulfill campaign promises while the Republicans make the most of the opportunity and plummet them on the ropes all the while the Republicans never met a campaign promise they would hesitate to renage on (billionaires excepted). At Romney's slightest whiff of unkept promises, Obama should have unloaded on Romney to the tune of, "So you want me to make you more promises, I hear ya loud and clear. Not only will I grant your request, I will hand write said promises on the paper that it's not worth, sign it, stamp it with the presidential seal, frame it, gift wrap it, special delivery it, so you can hang it in your mansion." So is it a worry after the promises fall through? "Now, what?" Nada, a "So, what." Mind you, this is not bipartisanship. Its just that the Repubicans have taken things too far.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tonight's Obama vs. Romney

Obama was flat during tonight's debate and appeared almost battle weary. In the eyes of the tv viewers Obama might have lost the battle, but I'm adamantly voting for Barry election day. Obama's strategy is to play it safe so why dribble the ball on a political stage and risk getting called for traveling and foul out. Romney has to unseat him. Let Romney get up and do gangland Gangnam to get personal with the common people. A Mormon president might work out well who knows. I admire Romney for not backing down on the '47-percent.' That said, Romney is playing a hypocrite by vociferously holding Obama accountable for past promises that didn't pan out. Romney is committing the same cardinal sin of what he's criticizing Obama of being guilty of body and soul, via Romney foot and mouth. He's issues promises without warranty. Promises? ..... you can always make more. Unless this country is a monarchy, it's meritless to hold a president liable for campaign IOU's.

Hypothetically, if Romney wins but can't lift the economy and get us $2 a gallon gasoline in four years, does he plan to step down and refrain from running for a second term which he summarily demands of Obama? Mitt Romney has forked tongue written all over his face. Then he has the gaul of taunting Obama of repeating things over and over so that people begin to believe false things as fact. Remember, WMD's. Bush & Co. kept repeating WMD's until Bush led the nation into a needless war in Iraq. Then after WMDs failed to materialize the republican excuse was, "Oh, we didn't invade Iraq because of WMDs. We invaded Iraq because they're next to Iran and we can now keep a closer watch on Iran." The truth remains, the world is not ready for another republican US president. Not in a mere four years later. Albeit, Obama will have to defy history by being the only president re-elected with the kind of low economic figures he has on his hands. However, I personally feel his hunting down bin Laden will negate that.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gensiro's Stone Pagoda Garden

I'm sure the absence of pics in the previous posts didn't go undetected by your eagle eyes. It's a hold over from the days reading blogs when the Internet was picture-less and abstinence was my way of re-experiencing the nostalgia even though back then I didn't author a blog myself and truth be told I never thought I would be up to the Herculean task. The bandwidth or whatever simply didn't allow picture transmission and at the odd moments that it did, it would take a day and a half and a few crashes to load a single photograph, some pixels missing, some re-arranged.

The nostalgia part is that what made reading all-text blogs so enjoyable was that many of them were written by professional writers during their off hours who articulated their thoughts so shamelessly well and even more amazingly by using the least amount of words. For example, I would post an every which way yard-long question on their comment page and they would obligatorily respond back with an eleven-word answer so coherent and comprehensive that, well, it inspired me to be like them some day, not meaning a clone now, but the realization was that I would save years of my life getting from point A to point B in a straightener line with my thought life. Writing is nothing more than thinking out loud properly, so coherent writing is a free bonus.

Without further ado, now back to our story du jour .... In a land not far from Waikiki town, at the very last lot on Kahala Ave., there is beach front house with a front yard that. Oh forgot, we have pics today. No need for words. What it is though is a works in progress at it's early stage. I pass by there daily and it's always a sight if you happen to see billionaire Gensiro, 70-80 years old, directing the landscaping or standing across the street surveying what Google Maps missed on the last flyby.

Pan right.

Pan left.

This is more how the finish product will eventually look.

As you can see for yourselves, we're back at Gensiro's Museum and Statue Gardens a few hundred yards up Kahala Ave. The neighbors were originally pissed off with the ecentric billionaire's extravagant plan. You simply can't do this next to our mansions even though Gensiro's beach front mansion was more a mansion than theirs. That however was the neighborhood reaction at the very start. Today, they've probably embraced his grand illusion which he's managed to realify undaunted as his style has always been on his visits to Hawaii throughout the years. Simply put, it's 50 or more marble statues on a single plot when Hawaii doesn't have any public marble statues anywhere that I know of. The Statue Garden is far from finished and whether the focus will shift to the Stone Pagodas is anyone's guess.

Meanwhile, the Kahala neighbors should walk softly here because on an earlier day the Kahala land owners stole the land from the original Bishop Estate Land Trust through legal maneuvering. Bishop Estate's beneficiary is the Hawaiian ancestry Kamehameha Schools. The legal premise was that Bishop Estate owned too much land at the detriment of leasees and because these residents were super rich they were able to get the courts to convert their leases to fee simple. Less well off people living on other parts of the island were renting Bishop Estate land but the same concept escaped them preoccuppied as they were scrapping out a living and shopping for cans of Spam on sale at Long's Drugs. If there were the kind of justice in the world how the Kahala millionaires promoted it, these lessor people were more the type of individuals deserving and entitled to a leasehold-to-fee simple conversion rather than their Kahala counterparts who flew in on their private jets to stay a week or two each year at their Kahala mansions. Of course the lot of poor asses weren't included in the same ruling on the weight that the legal landmark was not a class ruling. What distinguished it apart was that Kahala already had class galore and the fruits of the suit was strictly their private reserve and their's alone.

A glimpse of the sheer number of marble statues on just one sector alone.

It's beyond me how the curator decides to group the different individual statues.

What would a statue garden be without a yawning lion.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Don't Ask Me Why

There was a table with free food samples at the grocery store today. They were serving either won ton or gyoza's, both items look alike to the untrained eye, but the product that they were really marketing was their brand of specialty sauce, so I sumise they needed something tasty to pour the sauce over. That would contaminate or enhance the sauce's taste test. However, won tons are so expensive, that when it's free, who's to quibble about the sauce. Btw, the sauce was terrific, and thank you girls if you're reading this. Before I'm misunderstood and misinterpretated, the food sample table was in the aisle that I happened to be in. I don't search out free food samples with binoculars or even know which day of the week the food samples ladies show up. A few weeks ago, I saw this older guy walking around  in the fruits and veggie section snacking on something the way a person would snack on M&M's and I'll add totally oblivious to the world around him. I assume it was loose grapes freshly picked off the vine. He definitely wasn't chewing on salad potatoes by the size of it. I thought it was despicable. Mind you not his bliss.

However if you dwell too long on these things you just might forget to buy things on your very own shopping list. I've never been one to write it down. A few minutes later I came across this food sample table offering coconut squares. Lo and behold the guy from the fruits and veggie section shows up and asks his personal buffet server to dish him out a sample of something that was still sizzling in the crock pot. It resembled very thinnly sliced sukiyaki style meat. The larger point is that they didn't have it on display for the taking quite yet. However by order of the moocher's royal request the server gives him portion of the sliced meat in a paper cup. The guy wasn't carrying any vegetables or any can goods. Nothing. He probably would leave the store just as empty handed. I bet he does this as a routine. Knows the best stores, the best itinerary, and so forth, for free food. I have a hunch that some of these nibblers are well-off people in real life. The way I grew up always made me a bit sqeamish about accepting free food samples. Til this day I feel a little guilty inside.