Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year, Zombie Style!!

2009 was a difficult year in many ways. Happy New Year to all, and hopes for a better 2010. Like last New Year's Eve, I'll be watching zombie Dick Clark usher in the new year.

SPOILER: He screws up the countdown. Honest to God, isn't it time to call it quits? Haven't they squeezed enough out of the franchise? After he dies, are they going to have him stuffed and wheel him out for another "Rockin" New Year?

It's not that I have anything against old people. Hell, I'm 62 myself. But having a surgically-enhanced cadaver try to sell me on a "rockin" new year creeps me out. I think it's the combination of the stroke and the cosmetic surgery that makes him look like what he really wants in 2010 is a reliable source for sweet, sweet brains. Ugh.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Two Fires Still Burning, Still Choking Kona

As I drove to Hilo early this morning I could see the south wind pushing smoke around the back of Hualalai, hazing up Waikoloa and Waimea. I confirmed with Hawaii County Civil Defense that both the Honomalino fire and the Hokukano fire are still burning. According to both HCCD and Hokukano Ranch, the Hokukano fire is too remote and in too rugged country for ordinary fire-fighting equipment. Both Hawaii Fire Department and Hokukano bulldozers are being used up there to create firebreaks. So another night, at least, of itchy eyes and noses. Too bad, too, about the native forest being consumed.

UPDATE: Make that three fires, according to WHT.

UPDATE 2: A commenter suggests that the fires were deliberately set, and that the fire department is letting them burn. According to WHT, Fire Chief Darryl Olivera said the fires were "likely" due to "natural causes." Aside from lightning, what would those causes be? Olivera also said that it's "more economical" to just let the fires "burn themselves out." Another item for the "your county government cares about West Hawaii" file.

UPDATE 3: According to Damon and WHT, the county is not just letting the fires burn themselves out, but is actively trying to extinguish them. Perhaps our non-stop whining blogging about the fires and smoke prodded the county to issue the press release, but in any case, good on them. No smoke smell yesterday (12/29), but that was apparently due to the north wind, because the smell is back this morning (12/30).

UPDATE 4: The Advertiser says that while lightning is suspected in the Kealakekua Ranch and Yee Hop fires, the causes of the Hokukano Ranch fire (property owned by the Pace family with a history of questionable land practices) is "under investigation."

UPDATE 5: Fire Chief Olivera apologizes and assures us that they are "trying to extinguish the fire as quickly as possible." Still a smoke smell in the air, though (12/31).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

As the smoke from the Pace family fire continues to burn our eyes, let us turn our thoughts from the furtive deeds of rapacious landowners to more pleasant things, like Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pace Family Fire Continues - Smoke-kukano

The eye-burning smoke from the Hokukano Ranch Fire was back today, and word is that the fire is still smoldering. As Chuck noted in a comment at Big Island Chronicle, the fire will only increase the flood danger down-slope of the Pace's property.

We don't know, at present, that the Pace's history of allegedly bulldozing large stands of native sandalwood, and excessive flood-causing grading created unnatural clear areas at the 500o foot elevation, causing the fire. But the history presents a very cohesive narrative to that effect.

The forest areas that the Pace family bulldozed are gone forever, probably, and the fire they set the stage for has taken more.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Waterspouts and the fire

I return from Kaua'i to find I missed the most exciting weather Kona has had certainly since I've been here (1991). Some of the reports say there were several waterspouts. Damn!

Following up on the previous post about environmental criminals, I did not miss (but was prevented from blogging about it by computer problems) the nasty, heavy, eye-burning smoke from the Hokukano Ranch fire (I wanted to call the post "Smoke-ukano Ranch" - gettit?). There is supposed to be (or was, until the Pace family got the land) large stands of sandalwood up there. While early reports indicated that the fire was still confined to the large areas where the native forest has been cleared (either by the Paces or the Greenwells who preceded them) for cattle ranching, the latest Advertiser story calls it "a forested area" which could mean that the rare sandalwood forests (the ones not bulldozed and sold to China by the Pace family) are indeed burning. Since the fire without doubt adversely affected the health of Kona residents, there should be an investigation to see if bad management practices by Hokukano Ranch played a part in this health and environmental fiasco.

The Pace family placed the ranch on the market earlier this year. Over years, Hokukano Ranch and its owners have been accused of causing flooding with their grading activities (in 2004) and of bulldozing native sandalwood forests and selling the sandalwood (in 1988). An article in the Hawai'i Island chapter of the Sierra Club's magazine claimed that possible a million dollars worth of sandalwood had been shipped from Kona to China in a very short time. The Pace family admitted selling large amounts of sandalwood to China, but denied reports of large-scale clearing, saying that they were merely reclaiming already-bulldozed piles of old trees, and claiming that the profits were a mere $40,000. The article cited discusses the history of the exploitation of Hawaiian sandalwood, noting that the Pace family is merely continuing a sad tradition.

Although they've styled themselves environmentalists, (for example planting stories issuing press releases in 2002 about "blending nature with development" and promising to re-forest the land and to develop not more than 1,000 acres), Hokukano Highlands these days is selling 6400 acres (!) of "ranch properties" with that "wide-open" (i.e. not forested) feeling. The photos show huge tracts of cleared land (though not when the land was cleared). Hopefully, there will be an investigation to figure out where the fire started and why.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Greetings fellow environmental criminals

The EPA has classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant. That means that I am emitting a pollutant as I type this as are you the (theoretical) reader, as you read it. Fortunately, most observers agree that fees for permits that allow individuals to emit CO2 are "years away," and that "in all probability" already-living individuals will be "grandfathered in" without having to apply for a permit to exist. Good news.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

HELCO doesn't care about you: Exhibit "A"

The Kealakaa/Palani intersection remains uncompleted because HELCO has yet to move their power poles, replacing them with special new poles that had to be ordered from the mainland. Aaron noted at the beginning of August that the poles were the only thing holding up the completion of the intersection, and reported later that month that the fancy new poles were on their way from California, and would arrive in 2-4 weeks*. In September he reported that HELCO would be finished replacing the poles by December 2009. Here we are just before Thanksgiving, and there's no sign that HELCO even remembers the project.
Bear in mind that this project has been underway for at least three years*. Remember HELCO holding up various parts of the Queen Kaahumanu project. Go down to the Coconut Grove Marketplace and look makai (that's going to be Exhibit "B"). The only conclusion is that HELCO just doesn't care, on a basic level, about its customers and community.

*they've known about this pole replacement for three years. Why only order them from California after the rest of the intersection was completed? Because they don't care.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

If you've flown into Kona, you've flown over this landscape

The coast south of Mahaiula. Basically, you go to Kekaha Kai State Park and take a left, through this gate:

The road is moderately difficult. Four wheel drive and a good clearance are necessary. From this angle, it's pretty obvious that Hualalai is a volcano:

Now and then, a roadway over the lava goes off to the right as you cruise south, toward the airport. There's a grey sand beach, plenty of cliffs, and a little storm beach with a grove of trees:

A little further south is my favorite site on this part of the coast:

A little more south and you can see the security fence around Kona Airport. A connecting road goes off mauka and connects to Queen Kaahumanu Highway about a mile north of the airport entrance.
This is all the Huehue lava flow came down in 1801 or so, from Puhia Pele, only at the 800 foot level or so:

Near the airport fence, there are several hornitos, little spatter cones. Click for a bigger picture (twice for an even bigger picture) of the detritus at the base of one:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

Views of Waipio and Hi'ilawe

(as always, click on photos for larger view)

Yesterday I got up at 4:30 to be at Hawaii Forest and Trail (on Queen K by the harbor/Kealakehe turn). I got a free Waipio Rim Hike Adventure.
One of my friends from the Aloha theater, Joel Michelson, who works for Hawaii Forest and Trail, could not participate in a photo shoot to publicize the new Waipio Rim Hike, so they needed another old guy for the photos. Wanting to jump-start my new career as a male model, I agreed.

A large mini-bus transported us smoothly past Waimea to the country club, where we transferred to one of their Pinzgauer vehicles for a bouncing ride through one of those eucalyptus groves (planted on former sugar land and someday will be harvested for some purpose or another) to the trailhead.

The trail is about three miles long, winding through the rainforest, the strawberry guava crowding out the native ohia in places, past native lobelia, with several small waterfalls (like this small one above Hi'ilawe) en route. There are many vistas of Waipio from different vantage points, like this view of Waipio stream meeting the sea:

Plus, as much culture, natural history and Hawaiian legends as you can cram into your skull, all presented professionally. If I had paid the $149 for the hike, I would have felt well-served indeed. Of course, had I paid for the tour, I wouldn't have had to cross a stream several times to get the shot just right and then again a few times for the video. The life of a male model is tougher than I thought!
At one point we trekked down a little stream to the edge of a 1000' drop. A hands-and-feet-tingling moment. The amount of water isn't enough to create a waterfall, though. It dissipates into mist before it hits the ground. The photo doesn't do it justice:

At the end of the tour we got a spectacular view of the storied waterfall, Hi'ilawe:

Finally, here's the song about the waterfall, by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

KGMB and KHNL news "merge" - sad farewells

KHNL/KFVE, KGMB Merger To Cut 68 Jobs
"There are 198 full-time employees at the three stations. KGMB employees were told 130 will be kept, and about 68 from either KHNL or KGMB will lose their jobs."

Among those cut:

Diane Ako;

Sharie Shima (in healthier times).

It's a sad day in TV journo-babe history.

But if it means no more "Think About It" segments, it might just be worth it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Berry Bonanza on Hualalai

Yesterday was a furlough day for me, so I went up the mountain. There are choke ohelo berries up there now. This little plant was only about 4" tall, but look at how many berries it has.

Of course the usual sights were there as well:

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

(Andrew should be getting credit for the Wordless Wednesday meme)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Native Hawaiian Plant You Probably Never Heard Of

The Hawaiian sumac. Found along the Saddle road, just about where the houses end on the Hilo side. Also found along the Hamakua coast. As always, click for a larger image.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009


As a tonic for stories like this about how muslims are the real victims of 9/11, still waiting, after 8 years, for that invisible "backlash" to arrive.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Minimal Word Thursday

Two native plants from Kaloko-Honokohau:

'Ohai -Sesbania tormentosa (endangered, endemic)

Maiapilo - Capparis sandwichiana ("vulnerable," endemic)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Pine Trees and Beach Access

I've enjoyed the four-wheel access to O'oma and Kohanaiki for many years and favor public access, generally. But I had mixed feelings about the recent NELHA gate closure controversy.

First of all, the coastal road goes very close to archaeological structures, and that was one of the reasons given for the gate closure that so outraged the public. Imagine if a developer, or even the government, wanted to put a road that close to a Hawaiian structure. What would some of the same people be saying?

Second, I don't agree that all parts of the coast should be easily accessed by vehicles. The O'oma/Kohanaiki coastline is very clean and well-kept by the users, but something is lost when you have trucks constantly going by right next to the coast, and heavy usage inevitably degrades the ocean environment. Public access shouldn't necessarily mean 4-wheel-drive access.

Third, the new access road through the new development is fine, and connects to the same coast. Access to the new road is limited to southbound traffic, and the egress is southbound only as well, necessitating a turnaround at OTEC or Matsuyama's, but it appears to me that that's a temporary situation, and eventually the access road will have a traffic signal.

So I'm not sorry that the gate has been re-opened, but as I understand things, the plan is still eventually to close off access to protect the archaeological resources. Hopefully at some point we can have a reasonable discussion, instead of a knee-jerk torches and pitchforks uprising, and the resources will be protected from further damage.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Take me for a walk in the morning dew, my honey..

Beautiful morning at 7:30 at 5000'+ on Hualalai.

Ohelo berries:

Pukiawe leaf clusters:

Lehua flower & buds:

The original "Morning Dew" by Bonnie Dobson.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Minimal Word Thursday

From left: Kiawe, Naio, Milo, Ilima. Click for higher res.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Above Opelo Road in Waimea

Almost Wordless Sunday (click for higher resolution):


Atop a little Pu'u in the mist

Foraging for Food Not As Glamorous (Or Germ-free) As You Might Think!

Love the Advertiser headline:

Adventurer dies on Kauai

Oregonian fell ill after living and foraging in wilderness

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — An Oregon man who gave up his material possessions to live off the land in Kaua'i's Kalalau Valley this summer in an adventure reminiscent of the "Into the Wild" book and movie died suddenly Aug. 14 of an acute respiratory illness.

Kenny Cox, 31, formerly of Eugene, arrived in May and for 70 days lived in the open, gathering and eating fruit, plants and even grass after he ran out of rice and beans. Kaua'i residents who befriended him after he came out of the wilderness area in mid-July recalled him as free-spirited and down to earth.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Top of Huehue in the Afternoon

Two images from an afternoon walk starting at the 5000' level, top of Huehue Street.

A'ali'i seed pods and leaves.

From 3000' -4500' was socked in.

Somewhere, William Wallace is Weeping

The Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill (heh) decides that the interests of the 270 dead, and their survivors, matter less than the current suffering of the only man convicted in their deaths. But the decision wasn't really about Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, or his prostate cancer, it was about a politician and an attorney (surprise!) making a display, to the whole world, of his own moral splendor, his compassion and mercy shining like a peacock's feathers. Self righteousness, or to put it in Christian terms, pride, is at the heart of this . In this case, pride in his own compassion and mercy. Of course, that's assuming there isn't a Libyan oil money angle.

Another view, from Alan Black (who writes that al-Megrari is probably guilty, but convicted on marginally sufficient evidence) :

When the Libyan terrorist was accused, had the case been a regular one, the preponderance of evidence would likely have seen him walk, not proven. Much opinion was given to the security of the conviction at the time (many people thought Iran or Palestinian groups were involved.) Political pressure was enormous for a guilty verdict, and it was delivered, in a special court set up without a jury. Maybe the government feared the possibility of the third verdict. Had the suspect gone free, not proven, the desire for more investigation would have ratcheted up. Maybe another suspect would have been charged. Maybe not. One thing is for sure, the Libyan terrorist's burden of shame would have been meaningless in Libya. Like today, he would have been received as a hero.

The failure of the Scottish court to follow its own evidence standards has lead it to this shameful day. They made the bed. Now they have to lie in it. Coupled with Scottish isolation is the ridiculous nature of the nation's inferiority complex exhibited by the Scottish Justice minister in his television appearances. He preached to Wolf Blitzer on CNN like a Protestant minister delivering the self-righteous sermon in a dreary Scottish church. Ultimately, you can't rely on a country that isn't independent. Or a man who covers his weakness with the self-righteous cloak of phony principle. Scottish independence is needed immediately so that the current narrow form of Scottish nationalism can wither.

"When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities" said by David Hume, the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment philosopher.

Maybe the Justice Minister should have looked at his nation's greatest philosopher before letting the party begin in Libya.

Read more:

William Wallace

Monday, August 17, 2009

Les Paul

I remember these Les Paul and Mary Ford mini-shows:

Did the guitar solo give you chicken skin like it did me?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An eccentric-looking old man!

In September 1964, almost 45 years ago, I saw Bob Dylan at Town Hall Philadelphia. Here's the set he played. A skinny young guy, dressed in black, by himself on the stage, with just his guitar and harmonica ("Like a Rolling Stone" was still a year away). In that era between the beatniks and the hippies, Dylan was the epitome of cool, and for the first and last time in my life I was, in that crowd, at the cutting edge of the avant-garde.

Today there's this story about Dylan being picked up by the cops in New Jersey. The part of the story that caught my eye, or cut me to the quick, depending on how you look at it, was this: "[Residents of a home for sale] called the police after spotting an 'eccentric-looking old man' wandering around their front yard. It was pouring rain, and the man was alone, looking haggard and lost."
Yikes. I guess I really am getting old.

Here's a video from about that time:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Felicia, you're a big disappointment!

Mixed in with the relief that this island was once again spared the effects of a hurricane, I'm somewhat ashamed to say, is a feeling of disappointment that once again I missed the thrill of a passing storm. I remember Hurricane Iwa in 1982. I was working for the post office at the Honolulu Airport, and even though most businesses and government offices were closed, we were considered essential, so I drove to work just before things got diciest. The sky was a gray-green color I've never seen before or since, large items were flying through the air above the freeway, the winds were pushing my little VW Rabbit around...and I felt completely exhilarated. Ah well, probably just the low pressure.

Now everyone who feverishly checked and re-checked the satellite images and forecasts has to go back to...whatever it was they did before. Normal life. How boring.

But normal life is still good. This is part of the trail I walk 5 days a week. Not too shabby.

It's some compensation for missing horrendous damaging wind, rain, and surf, I suppose.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Turtles at Kiholo

Or, more particularly, in Wainanali'i Pond:


I joined the dazed hoard lurching dazedly through Kona's shiny new Target store. Like Kona Commons across the street, Target has landscaped their parking lot with native plants, white hibiscus and kou, although the kou trees are native with an asterisk, canoe plants that the Hawaiians brought with them.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Inside J's Castle

The interior of J Yoshimoto's secret laboratory, deep in the basement of an abandoned County building. Lights are flashing, beakers are bubbling, sparks are sparking. J Yoshimoto and his assistant, Ken, are dressed in lab coats.

J: Tonight, Ken, will be my greatest triumph. They said it couldn't be done. They laughed at me. But I'll show them. I'll show them all. Tonight I will get five votes out of four people!!
Throw the switch!!!

Ken: Yes, master

Loud alarm, smoke

J: Tonight, Ken, we will walk, you and I, into Pete Hoffman's office with our five votes, and he'll be powerless to stop it because only four people talked! TAKE THAT, LAWS OF TIME AND SPACE!! MBWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Ken: How do you do it, master?

J: I know, I am pretty awesome.

Ken: No, seriously, how did you do it? I mean, I know you outsmarted Naeole, but....

J: Stop right there!

Ken: What, master?

J: Ken, never go for the easy joke.

Ken: Yes, master

The Other Side of Big Island Politics

A new website. The author introduces herself:

Through my own blog, I hope to share the “other side” of the story that is not “reported” by the other sites.

Now you may be wondering how I will portray the “other side” of a story. I firmly believe that good critical thinking, and sound reasoning will reveal the truth. For example, anybody can be quoted in the newspaper, but how credible is that source? Does the source have a history of bias? Can that source back up a claim when challenged and stay on point? These are just a few of methods of analysis I use when determining the truth for myself.

She defends the council majority and J, and believes that J, in particular, has gotten a bad rap from the press.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Don't Sacrifice Our Native Forests Because Syd Singer Likes the Taste of Strawberry Guava

Damon published this "open letter" to Mayor Kenoi from Syd Singer, who calls himself a "Medical Anthropologist." Singer claims to speak for "thousands" of residents opposing release of a scale insect to control strawberry guava because they "enjoy" the fruit. Apparently the "thousands" are under the impression that the scale insect has wiped out strawberry guava in Brazil. It hasn't. People in Brazil are still able to enjoy the flavor.

Singer says "As the current economic recession drags on, more and more people will come to appreciate and rely on our wild foods." If Big Island residents become roving bands of hunter-gatherers, foraging for food in the forest, I submit that a few scale insects will be the least of our problems.

Despite his being a medical school dropout, Singer's website features medical advice galore. I have to admit I have some sympathy for his crusade to persuade women to stop wearings bras. I, uh, support his efforts in that regard for purely, uh, aesthetic reasons.

Hawaii's native forests are a treasure, in our hands to preserve for future generations. If we permit them to be destroyed, turned into impenetrable thickets of strawberry guava because we like the taste of the fruit, what superficial, selfish, spoiled little brats we would be. It's an infantile position.

One of the great things about this island is the tolerance of the off-beat, unconventional, and bizarre. That doesn't mean we should have pseudo-scientific cranks and charlatans setting our public policy, though.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

12:34:56 on 7/8/9

Enjoy the very mild excitement of a once in a lifetime occurrence.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Shocking News - Political Involvement in Government Process in Hawaii

Inouye's office apparently made a call to get Central Pacific Bank a Federal bailout.

I agree more with WHT than Aaron about the County's all-too-predictable capitulation to the Palamanui developer's desire to be relieved of the conditions they agreed to. Postpone the road, following the traditional philosophy of county government that burdens on infrastructure must precede the infrastructure. But they also want the condition allowing no buildings within 1500' of the highway deleted. To their credit, the Leeward Planning Commission delayed its vote.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Huehue Street in the Late Afternoon

The cloud forest at the top of Huehue Street on a typical afternoon lives up to its name, 5 p.m. is usually foggy. Friday was no exception. A cool refuge from the glare and heat of town.

The pukiawe was blooming. Click for larger photos.

As were the ohia lehua.

Koa at the top of the little pu'u.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Noted Child Molester Passes Away

But not, unfortunately, in jail. Idiot Meredith Vierra just said that "everyone in the world" is mourning him. It's everyone minus at least one.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kelly Greenwell - Insane or Reckless?

West Hawaii Today reports that Kona's sterling councilperson, Kelly Greenwell, is proposing that Guantanamo prisoners be released here on the Big Island, not for incarceration, but for the healing process to begin, our island being such a beacon of tolerance and love. Having them here would give us a"new stew" where "various cultures can meet and learn to get along."

Admittedly, the Big Island seems to be lacking in medieval-minded religious fanatics intent on destroying tolerance and secularism, and wishing to deny women the right to go to school or drive a car. I for one am fairly happy with that situation.

On a positive note, Greenwell admits that the idea might "seem insane." That's good, the first step to getting well being admitting you're sick and all that. What's the procedure for having a councilman's mental status evaluated?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Top of the world, Ma!

The photo in the blog title shows Mauna Kea (l.) and Mauna Loa (r.) from about 60 feet below the highest point on Hualalai. Here it is again: (click for a higher res picture)

Cloudless blue sky all the way to the top, which we didn't reach until well after 10. A nice father's day excursion.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back to the "Hilo Way"

Remember when the words "Eastern Bloc" referred to the Soviets, not to power-obsessed Hilo politicians? It's not a coincidence, as Tiffany notes.
Universal negative reaction on the internets, as far as I can tell.

Back to the days when county expenditures decreased in direct proportion to distance from the county building? We'll see.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

18 months in jail - an outrage?

The villagers are sharpening their pitchforks and in "shock" over Judge Strance's reduction of the prison term for the drunk driver who killed a woman in 2006, from 10 years to 18 months.

Knowing only the facts as given in West Hawaii Today, I am in a state of partial ignorance. But lack of knowledge of the case hasn't seemed to stop anyone else from commenting, so here goes:

In 2006 the defendant was clearly an out-of-control 22 year old. According to the prosecutor, Judge Strance found the defendant's turnaround in jail "extraordinary." Was it? I have no idea, but assuming for the sake of argument that the young woman has made an extraordinary change in her life, are justice and the community better served by confining her in a holding pen for another 8 years or by allowing her to become a productive, and positive member of society?

Nothing is easier than demanding harsh sentences for everyone. Doing justice is hard.

Monday, June 08, 2009

BitDefender - bad product, horrible service -Update

For the past 2 1/2 years I've used BitDefender, which has had a good reputation.

Three weeks ago, I had a virus attack (while browsing using Google Chrome) that disabled BitDefender, as in, the program would not start, would not reinstall.

Every time I re-booted, a seemingly random file opened. After 5 minutes, a popup diagnosing an infection would open, and, shortly, a "scan" would start. After 10 minutes, Windows-resembling error messages with red X's would appear and something would try to install itself.

I contacted "Support", attaching (to save time - hahahaha!) two diagnostic tests I knew would be the first thing they'd ask for. One week later, after several emails, "Support" sent me two more diagnostic programs to run, which I did, and returned the results. Ten days later (now) and still no response. My last two messages have been demands for a refund.

They have a phone "Support" line as well, you know. Twice I was placed on automatic hold "due to the high volume." I listened to elevator music for 15 minutes, then the connection went dead. Twice.

I'm not alone.

PC Tools Spyware Doctor with Antivirus

UPDATE: 25 days and counting from the time BitDefender was notified that a virus had disabled their product - 25 days without a solution!

UPDATE: June 21! 30 days with no recommendation from BitDefender. A truly pathetic Support department. Don't buy BitDefender.

UPDATE #3: June 24. BitDefender finally responded, apologizing for the delay and saying they've corrected the issues. So I suppose it's "safe" to buy BitDefender again, as long as you don't mind a 33-day delay in answering if you have problems.

National Trails Day Trail Cleanup at Pu'uwa'awa'a

Yesterday was the National Trails Day volunteer day at Pu'uwa'awa'a. About 50 volunteers cleared a section of the Reservation trail. The work part looked something like this:

It doesn't look like hard work, but four miles of bending and tossing leave an old person like myself fairly sore.

The 'ohia were in bloom, and provided a nice visual backdrop for our work. Click on pictures for larger versions.

The spikey leaves behind the yellow ohia lehua are silver oak, an invasive species planted in abundance many years ago at Pu'uwa'awa'a.

When we finished, we adjourned to the new pavilion at the top of the pu'u. Nearby were new plantings, like these mao hau hele, a native hibiscus, Hawaii's state flower:

So I'm back blogging, having restored my computer to good health, no thanks to BitDefender, my former anti-virus program. BitDefender allowed an infection (I think coming in through Google Chrome) which rendered the computer useless for three weeks, during which BitDefender's alleged "Support" sent me file after file of diagnostic tests to run, and then failed to offer any suggestions or any actual, you know, support.

So hooray for being back, hooray for National Trails Day, and Down With BitDefender.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Following up on the bulldozer fiasco - pushing the story along

Aaron blogged about this letter to West Hawaii Today. The letter writer wonders, as I did, about the connection between C&H Ishii General Contractors. So I did a simple search for "Ishii" on the County website.

In 2005 a Ben Ishii appeared as representative of the Department of Public Works at this meeting and this meeting. He was still representing DPW in 2008 and 2009.

Is Ben related to C & H? Was DPW the agency involved in the bulldozer fiasco? Beats me, though Hilo readers (haha, if any) might know. Just trying to push the story forward.

Friday, April 24, 2009

How I spent the last few weeks

As I noted earlier, I've been cast as Boo Radley in Aloha Performing Arts Company's production of To Kill A Mockingbird, which starts May 8th at the Aloha Theater. Tickets here.

In the script (SPOILER ALERT) Boo, after saving Atticus' son Jem from his evil, drunk, racist attacker, is supposed to carry the boy to the Finch "house." The boy playing Jem is a healthy lad weighing about 155 pounds. I've lost enough weight (through exercising, nothing alarming) so that at this point I only outweigh the kid by ten pounds or so.

The first couple times, I had a difficult time picking the kid up, but, once I had him off the ground, managed carrying him the short distance OK. Then, on April 6, as I picked him up, I felt something "give" in my hip, then a fair amount of pain, and fell backward. Earlier that day, I'd started a prescription for levaquin, an antibiotic. The label gave the usual side effects for an antibiotic, nausea, diarrhea, stay out of the sun, blah blah blah, as did the main sheet that the drug store gave me. Inside the bag was a second warning sheet that I didn't see until later that evening, which gave additional side effects: tendonitis or tendon rupture, especially in patients over 60. (let's see, birthday 1947 - D'oh!) I didn't discover the second warning sheet until I came home, in pain and, not being able to sleep(because of another side effect, insomnia), went Google and found out through medical information sites and public feedback sites full off horror stories (posted, naturally, in ALL CAPS) from folks who had been HORRIBLY INJURED by the "POISON" Levaquin. In fact, I could (and, I suppose, still can) sign up for legal representation to sue the manufacturer.

When I went back to the doctor the next day, in pain but not in a very happy mood, the first thing he said, after hearing about the injury, was "It was the Levaquin!" Thanks, doc. He said I'd probably just strained a muscle and told me it would be better after a couple days rest. It wasn't. The next Monday, I got some X-Rays to rule out any structural damage, but everything seemed OK. Though I was still very sore, I resumed my walking regimen and was surprised to notice a suddenly appearing bruise behind my knee, which meant it had been not just a strain, but some tearing of the muscle where it joins the tendons at the hip. The "few days" was amended to (considering my age ) six weeks or more. Still due to the Levaquin, though.

Back at rehearsal, it was still too painful to pick the boy up from the floor, so they came up with the change that I would pick him up using the fireman's carry, which allowed me to get him on my shoulders from a standing position. Though my hip was still tender, that was workable. The pain was lessening, although there were minor setbacks when I rolled my foot on loose rocks while hiking up in Kaloko. Things were fine until they built the set last weekend. Now there's a stairway going up to the porch. Tuesday, I carried him just fine until I tried to take that first step, which really was a doozy. Once again, I crumpled to the floor (or in this case, the stage), hopefully not whimpering audibly.

Now, just for me (and my hip) the script has been re-written so I merely help Jem to his house. I'm still limping a tad, but thanks to the incomparable Therapeutic Massage of Sandra Bennett, LMT I'm doing much better. After all, the show must go on.

So I've spent the last several weeks resting, stretching, taking pain pills, and trying to sit on my right cheek.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pulitzer Prize for Maui Poet W.S. Merwin

Ian Lind notes the poor quality of the Honolulu dailies' coverage of the Pulitzer awarded to Maui poet W.S. Merwin and points us to the much better Maui News story. Missing from all the stories were any actual poems, so here:

For The Anniversary Of My Death

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

W.S. Merwin

Our County Government at Work - The Hilo Way

From today's West Hawaii Today.
First, you sell a bulldozer worth $125,000 for $60,000. The taxpayers are out $65,000.

Then, you lease it back for "at least" 5 years at $14,725 a month, so the taxpayers are out another $883,500.

That's $948,500, so far.

But wait, there's more! The county also has to pay maintenance, so the total may be up to a cool million.

The only question: Who is C & H Ishii General Contractors' connection with county government?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Good to see the bees swarming the newly-opening maiapilo.

I wrote in January about supposedly disappearing bees. This is a follow-up, so it's not quite as idiotic and useless as it seems.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Peach colored lehua!

Too pink to be called just "orange." Salmon, maybe.

Here's the beginning of the trail at the end of Kaloko Drive. Notice anything you don't see on the sign?

The walk gains 1500' in a mile and a half, so it's more than a leisurely stroll. But the trail is pleasant:

Lichen growing on fallen koa:

Finally I got a super-secret part in To Kill A Mockingbird. I can't tell you which, but it rhymes with "do badly."

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Between Four Seasons/Kona Village and Kiholo, for several miles, the land consists mostly of the a'a lava from the eruption (1750-1800) out of the pit craters near the end of Huehue Street in Kaloko Mauka. Around the 84 mile marker there is access to the wedge of pahoehoe lava between the two forks of a'a. The point at the tip of that wedge is called KaLaeMano (Shark Point).

It's just over two miles from the highway to the ocean, and there a new road and "interpretive center" near the coast, which according to the workers down there, isn't open to public access yet, although community groups have begun using the facility. In the old days (before about 2002) the only way to the shore was to hike in from Kona Village (to the south) or Kiholo (to the north) or drive to drive in from the Queen K highway at the 84 mile marker following arrows and lines spray painted on the lava. While the interpretive center violates the prior wilderness feel of the area, it actually represents a victory because more extensive development of the area was planned until this case (disclosure: I was one of the attorneys involved) tied things up for ten years or so.

It was a day that I felt like a hot walk, and in that regard, walking on bare lava in the middle of the day is just what the doctor ordered. I planned on swimming when I got to the ocean. But the seas were a little too frisky for me to try to climb down a cliff and swim. So I just walked some more.

In the hearings before the LUC, one of the things that came out was that one of the things that KaLaeMano was known for were its many salt pans. Because there are no streams on this side of the island, and virtually no plans near the ocean for several miles in either direction, the salt from KaLaeMano was known for its purity. I still have a small container of salt on my mantle that was given to me as part of that case.

A salt accumulation:

Two views of the coast:


Despite no swim (and falling about 2 minutes into walk and cutting my hands) it was an enjoyable, if hot, 5.2 mile walk.