Friday, July 25, 2008

Disease has no eyes

I think it was Sandra Cisneros that wrote that diseases have no eyes, they just pick and choose. Today 's news is about the death of Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor that became a spokesman for living despite his battle with pancreatic cancer through his last lecture. He was 47 with three little kids and I wonder why these things happen? How do diseases choose their victims? Why is the timing not convenient? What are we supposed to learn?
As I write this, a family is standing by as their mother also is dying from pancreatic cancer. She too will leave three children behind. Her children are not as young as his, one is a sophomore at Harvard, one will graduate from high school this year and one will be a high school freshman. Still, they are children too, her babies, and they will lose their mother soon. I had all the Carvalho children in my 8th grade English class and they were all brilliant and kind and positive. The influence of their parents, and the love and acceptance helped these kids grow to be this way. Emily, their mom, was at every school function, no matter how big or how small, always with the biggest smile and the most humble demeanor. Even when her oldest daughter was the valedictorian of the graduating class, she remained humble, stood in line with all the other families waiting to get in, made sure her ohana was together, greeted other parents with love and kindness. Diseases have no eyes. It doesn't look to see if it's the right time. It doesn't look at age, or accomplishments, or broken pieces that are left behind. What are we supposed to learn?
I think the lessons are obvious: live your best life, follow your dreams, appreciate your family, stay in touch. I think the arrogance of humans, our feeling of immortality in the face of mortality makes these lessons easy to accept and hard to execute. The philosophical versus the day-to-day grind of it all. How do we balance? What do we give up? How do we let go of the ego? (Yes, I listened to the podcasts on New Earth (?), Whole Earth? Whole Foods - Eckhart Tolle) How do we let go of the need to control? What do you know for sure?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The other woman

I am in a love-hate relationship with the other woman. Her name is Magellan and she has this very calming voice, even when she is giving us the wrong freaking directions. Magellan, our GPS, is actually my husband's girl. She has replaced me as the official map reader and navigator on our travels (travails). This other woman was supposed to curb our stress level and keep our bickering to a minimum. I, as the map reader like to have all the instructions plotted before we leave the parking lot, my husband likes to start up the car and go, which starts us arguing right away, because if he takes the wrong turn out of the parking lot, I have to throw out my directions and look at the map again. Magellan has ended those arguments, but even if she doesn't snap at my husband or give him the silent treatment, she is not always perfect either and this other woman has changed the way the two of us navigate our way through life.

Before Magellan, my husband and I had to up our learning curves on major roads in whatever city we were on. We paid attention to street names, buildings, place markers, construction. We really looked carefully, trying to keep our sense of direction on keen. When we got lost, we tried to get unlost on our own and that has lead to some interesting conversations with people. Getting lost was part of the adventure. Getting lost is how we found that seafood restaurant in San Diego or the great salmon salad in Vancouver. With Magellan, we don't get lost per se. I miss that. Our biggest dilemma is whether we're going to choose the fastest route, shortest route, least freeways or least toll booths. She responds when you call her name and she takes orders. She doesn't, however, play well with others. When we were in Houston, we were following our friends and they had their own gps, so we both put in the same direction, but they did not go the way Magellan wanted to go. She nicely said "recalculating" and "make a u turn at the next light" about five times and after that, guess what? She started giving us the silent treatment. That's what you call habute!

Still, for a British sounding chick, we found out that she can actually pronounce Kilauea Avenue. I guess we'll keep her.

The reason why I

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Audio books when you spend a lot of time in cars

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
We went to our timeshare in Keauhou this year for a mini vacation, but the only ones on vacation were me and my youngest, so we rented a car and drove back and forth to Hilo for work and baseball. The four of us listened to Golden Compass along the way and we all couldn't wait to get back in the car to see what Lyra was doing and how she was going to escape Mrs. Coulter and find her friend Roger. Ahi usually just sleeps when we get in the car, but even he stayed up to listen.

My husband and I talked about this hoopla following the movie, on how Pullman was an atheist and this book was against the church. I read the trilogy a while ago, and yes, there is a Catholic church type of organization with the kind of power that they had in the middle ages, but I didn't see it as atheist then or now.

View all my reviews.

Friday, July 18, 2008

iphone update

Dear AT&T,
Why do your plethora of plans have to be so complicated? I have the family plan. Just my teenager and me. He has unlimited texting, I have nothing right now because I don't know how to use my phone for anything besides dialing and answering. So, to lure me into upgrading my ghetto, but perfectly usable phone, you enticed me with the iphone hoopla and not only expect me to pay the cheaper $199 price, but you don't have them in stock, so I have to order it, wait my one month AND decide on a plan, because an iphone is a smart phone, so the options are different. If we go with a family plan, then it doesn't make sense for me to have an iphone unless we all have iphones. However, with the unlimited stuff plan, it doesn't come with texting, so you have unlimited except for texting. Teenagers are all about texting. My other option is to get the family plan for more than my contract price, AND pay an extra $30 per month for the iphone. Your rep. tells me to feel free to change characters, but where am I supposed to go? Dead zones are not the problem. It's all these darn options!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

iphone envy

Despite the articles on how long people waited for iphones yesterday, or how messed up the server was, or how some people were sent away at the end of the day without a new iphone, I still want one. No, I crave one. I get back to Hilo on Monday. Do I think my local AT&T store by Ben Franklin will have one saved special just for me? Probably. . .NOT. Still, I'm going to be there on Tuesday morning to check anyway.
Why do I want an iphone? Because then I can use brightkite the way it's supposed to be used. How ridiculous is that? The more ridiculous thing is that my husband knows that and he's still letting me try and get an iphone. If I find out that I can't do brightkite on my iphone, then I will be truly pissed off.
I think that cell phones should look like mini phone receivers, and be made specifically to call people and receive calls. I don't think that cell phones should do anything else, like make light for commercials, take pictures of girls' panties, film a beef in the parking lot, or any other thing that can be done on a computer, a camera or a video recorder. I believe that phones should have a place to talk and a place to listen and it should NOT look like a deck of cards or take the place of my ipod which I LOVE. HOWEVER, taking a picture of my location and bright kiting it even if I'm in the middle of Kohala, or without any kind of internet service in Keauhou is SO WORTH getting an iphone.
I think if Hilo has no iphone, I will be so sad. I think if Hilo does have an iphone for me, but when I get it I find that I can't bright kite on it, I will be apoplectic (vocab word of the week)! If you already know that I will be disappointed, then don't say anything. Either way, leave me in the dark. It's like I'm waiting for that after Christmas sale to start and I'm jockeying for position in front of those old Japanese women that are threatening to push their way in front of me. If I have to take grandma out to get to that last roll of wrapping paper (read iphone), then believe me, I will.
K-den. Until Tuesday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mana'o on fatness

The problem with being married to a foodie is that our life, both on vacation and off, is a singular pursuit of food. Food is not sustenance. Food is an obsession. It is a one-track mindedness, a quest, a voyage, and a way for my husband to follow his whims. For a control freak like me, this is not very conducive to planning ahead. When we are on vacation, like now, I like to have my whole day mapped out at least the night before with a pretty solid itinerary of the week already down. After 20 years of marriage, I do allow for my husband's whims because of the one-track mindedness. Still, with internet and our handy portable gps, things just get more tiring, which leads back to fatness. Yesterday, it was Chuy's for lunch. Why? Because he met someone on Britekite from Houston and they started corresponding about food. When we got there, I asked him what kind of food they served. His answer. . . "I don't know." That means we had to order a lot of food to figure out what was good. Fatness. For dinner, he wanted steak. The concierge gave us a dining magazine and I had to look up every steak place they mentioned, get to their website, read their menus, read the reviews and that's how we ended up at Fogo de Chao. Why? Because it was all you can eat and they came around with lots of different skewered meats, so that my husband, who agonizes constantly over what he should order, could try different things. Fatness. Today it was dim sum for lunch. Back on the computer, look at reviews, program the gps. We even made my son eat chicken feet because we came all that way. (Pic. above)
For dinner, my husband wanted BBQ, so we went 20 miles away to get all you can eat barbeque. Tomorrow my mother-in-law says she wants to just eat salad. Yeah, I'm not going to even look that one up. Thank goodness for Steve and Barry's where I could get Sarah Jessica Parker's bitten jeans for 8.95 each. Fatness - I had to get a bigger size than I wanted to, but at least I can breathe in my pants.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Summer Read

The Friday Night Knitting Club The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you're looking for a female bonding book, Friday Night Knitting Club was a great read. It centers around single mom Georgia Walker and the people that frequent her yarn store in NY city. The characters are likable in their flaws and strengths and it's a great airplane or beach read with all the right elements: humor, romance, intergenerational wisdom sharing and sorrow.

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Good, Bad and Ugly

I love airplanes, small ones, big ones, cramped, spacious -- airplanes represent freedom and travel and anticipation and yearning and sadness and loss. Despite rising airfare and ridiculous charges for EVERYTHING, I still love flying. Last night we left Kona Airport for Houston via Phoenix on US Airways. It wasn't too crowded, so my husband actually got to move to another seat so that we could all spread out. Sweet! Except that 2 1/2 hours into our flight, the captain comes on and says we have a mechanical problem and we're flying back to Honolulu, another 2 1/2 hours away. Yes, safety, I'm all for safety so this is actually THE GOOD. US Airways rocks. The people on the phone are not cocky like Hawaiian Air (yes, my son works for Hawaiian, and I tell him all the time that they are rude, obnoxious and cruel to their customers), the people on the ground (contracted from Hawaiian) are pleasant and accommodating, and the agents in Honolulu were very helpful and calming. We got our new flight on Continental, they put us up at an Outrigger Ohana hotel, gave us vouchers for food, and they really took care of those of us that either needed a wheelchair (us) or needed extra tlc like the 3 kids that were traveling as unaccompanied minors. I'm not their mom and I was freaking out about these kids because I'm sure their parents were just sick with worry. We weren't back in Kona where their grandparents could pick them up and they weren't in Arizona with their parents. I don't know what happened to the kids because they went on different transports with one of the agents, but I think they're ok.

THE BAD Budget keeps abusing us and we still go back to them. As soon as we got our new flights, we called the hotel and the rental car to tell them that we'd be late to check in and pick up our car (less than 24 hours). Budget wanted to charge us an extra $400.00 even if we were still willing to pay for the whole contract and pay for the day that it was going to sit in their lot. Then when my husband asked to speak to a manager, he was transferred to a marketing agent who tried to sell him membership in a travel program. WHAT??!!! Four phone calls, and 2 hours later, he finally cancelled our rental and went back online and re-rented it for $40 more (not $400). Three hours later, Justin, the customer service manager with Budget finally called and said that we would get reimbursed for the extra we have to pay for the car. That's all good and fine, Justin, but we'll see it when we see it. My husband is a long-time fastbreak member. He only uses Budget for his business and personal rentals, and this is not the first time that he has had to do battle with Budget. We'll see.

The Ugly - Ok, I'm sorry for not taking a pic of this lady, but this prima donna chick in row 14 - ugh. She's perfectly fine on the outside, but her ano (her inner aura or essence) was just so rancid. She actually made the whole plane wait for her because she was fussing with her bag, then when we had to deplane, again, waiting for her. She had choken bags, had to get herself and her little girl a porter, refused to go down the escalator and took the elevator that we were waiting for (remember we have a wheel chair). She wouldn't go on the buses with everyone else and wanted two rooms. Remember she was flying coach, and her daughter is like my younger son's age (he was wheeling grandma around and still carrying his backpack). I felt only pity. Life is really hard sometimes. Ugly is also the fact that my husband and the hotel van driver took every single bag off the van while all the other men stood around and waited.

Aloha lives and returns the favor. We ended up first in line at the hotel and we have great rooms. Today is a glass 3/4 full kind of day. We missed my middle son's first scrimmage in Houston, but hey, we're still together, he knows we'll be there soon and we can still make it to the tournament.

There's Hope for Sushi in Kona

After losing all hope of finding good sushi, we found ourselves in Kona again to catch a plane to Houston. We picked up my brother and he suggested Kenichi at the Keauhou Shopping Plaza (78-6831 Alii Drive, Ste. D - 125, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740; 808-322-6400). Prices were about the same as Sansei, (resort prices) but the food was just a cut above and the service was excellent. Of course it helps that everyone knows my brother. He is "Mr. Aloha" in Kona and many of the wait help, hostesses and bartenders know him. Hey, he's an adult, I don't ask.
The five of us did our usual divide up the menu and try from everyone's plate method, so Pono had the standard shrimp tempura, and chicken yakitori. The yakitori were held on the skewers with green onion bottoms. Yummy! My mother-in-law had the carpaccio with ponzu and my husband and brother had the lamb. I'm not a lamb eater, but the men thoroughly enjoyed it. I had the bamboo salmon with cranberry miso and teriyaki sauce on the side. Everything was tasty without being too "shoyuee."
Back to the sushi - besides tobiko, we had a natto temaki, spider roll and the chef's special roll which was spicy ahi, shiso, ume veggies and cream cheese in an upside down roll with ahi on the outside and spicy mayo sauce on top and tongarashi. The soft shell crab in the spider roll was a bit overcooked, but it was pretty good. As for the special roll, the sushi rice was excellent, nicely settled, not too vinegary, the cream cheese was not overwhelming, just enough to cut the bite of the spiciness, the ahi was spicy without masking the freshness of the fish and the shiso added that extra oomph. Plus I got my ginger!
It's difficult to find good Japanese restaurants in Kona, so if you're hankering for slightly upscale Japanese fusion, try Kenichi. Gochisosama.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

To DK Kodama - Auwe - Sansei is over rated

Last night 27 of us went to Sansei in Waikoloa, Hawaii and maybe it was the anticipation and the years of my husband telling me he would take me to Sansei that just made everything wrong from the beginning.
First, the host kept emphasizing that if we were not there by 10 minutes after our reservation, they would cancel our table. We know that, we always travel in that big of a contingent. We got there early.
Second, they wouldn't do separate checks for each family. They did three checks instead of the five checks we requested. Like I said, we do this all the time and much more exclusive restaurants accommodate us with separate checks, as well as more casual restaurants.
Third, several people chose the chef special which was a sampler menu and it took way too long for all the courses to come. The kids were getting antsy and some of us started going to dairy queen across the walkway before the last courses came.
Fourth, my son took from the keiki menu. BIG mistake. Keiki menu should have an age maximum of 4 or 5 years old. He ordered the shrimp tempura plate and got no rice and 3 pieces of tempura. Hello DK, not like your're a skinny buggah like Chai. I not saying you fat, but come on, this is Hawaii, who are you trying to feed here? I had to reorder an adult meal for my boy and he ate all of both of the meals and still went to DQ for ice cream.
Fifth, I must admit, I'm kind of a SUSHI SNOB. I am picky about rice, picky about the amount of seasoning in the rice, picky about the freshness of the wasabi and the shoga, and especially, picky about the freshness of the ingredients. The sign says Restaurant and SUSHI BAR. I ordered an assortment of sushi and it was "eh" (shoulders raised, mouth folded down, "eh). I'm trying to see things from DK's point of view, you know, he's not the one working every night at Waikoloa, it's not his flagship, but brother, your sushi is nothing wow and not worth the price. Sushi Mon in Vegas, in a strip mall off the main road with like 6 tables and a small counter has better sushi for way less and they are speedy with hamachi to DIE for. And shoga, you know that pickled ginger, sliced thin and put on the side of the dish to cleanse the palate between pieces. . .no more. Even Genki has ginger.
Last - where do you get your wait help? This one guy was like standing on the side of the tables and making diagrams and charts, numbering us and redrawing his circles and x's. I saw him do it twice, but it could have been more than that.
The one positive thing: we had a waitress - local girl from Waipi'o. She actually brought the kids ice cream and suggested things on the menu that we'd like, especially since the menu is so cluttered, it's hard to make heads or tails out of anything. The menu needs to be reorganized, feng shui'd, pared down, reformatted, something. Back to this wahine - maika'i loa.
If you disagree, let me know what you liked and which one you went to. I'm not totally against trying Sansei again, who knows. Just my mana'o.