Thursday, December 09, 2010

Approaching Storm (Predicted, Anyway) Yields Clear Skies

We'll have to wait and see if this storm, like many others, will weaken and dissipate before it gets this far south, but today was a clear day in Kona. The photo above was shot early this morning - the top of Hualalai from Keauhou. The semi-panorama below shows in the foreground the parking lot at the Kaloko-Honokohau visitor center, with Hualalai and Mauna Loa (right) in the background. Hualalai, let me remind you, is only the third highest peak on this island, but it's higher than anything in North America east of the Rockies. Click for larger view.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Oceanic Phone Service Outage

Yesterday Oceanic Cablevision's phone service was "down" for several hours. No dial tone, no calls coming in. We switched from Hawaiian Tel, or whatever they're called these days, about a month ago. 35 years of Hawaiian Tel, no service interruptions. One month (one goddamn month) with Oceanic and we get this.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wiliwili comeback and the drought takes a break.

The wiliwili are back.
In 2005, when the gall wasps were first found in Hawaii, it appeared that "saving the wiliwili [was] in doubt." Five years later, all the introduced coral trees, relatives of the wiliwili, are gone, at least from Kona, but the natives in Pu'uwa'awa'a seem to be back.
Heroic Department of Agriculture entomologist Mohsen Ramadan identified a predator wasp in East Africa. Moving with amazing speed, the state Department of Agriculture released the predator wasps on every island in late November 2008. Government working as it should.
Two years later, this little tree just off the Halapepe Trail at Pu'uwa'awa'a looks just fine:

Future generations owe a debt to Ramadan and the other government workers who found a way to save this beautiful native tree.

As usual, I'm way behind the curve. Our Green Maui announced six months ago, with admirable alliteration, that "The Wiliwili War is Won."
The photo above and the one below are of a small stand of wiliwili just mauka of the highway about three miles south of the entrance to Pu'uwa'awa'a Ranch.

On a related note, at least as far as the lands between Kailua and Waimea, the drought seems to be taking a break, at least. Pu'uwa'awa'a Ranch has been bone-dry, but now there's an undertone of green coming through. The countryside just south of Waikoloa is even greener.

Finally, an ohia lehua on a hillside at 5800' and the moon,

and a really big halapepe plant, just off the eponymous trail.

As always, click on a photo for larger images.
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Monday, November 01, 2010

The Only Thing More Obnoxious Than All The Negative Campaign Ads

Are the sanctimonious politicians denouncing negative campaign ads.

Certainly they'd appear less disingenuous if they weren't preceded and followed by negative ads on behalf of the supposedly outraged candidate.

Thank God it's almost over.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Sunsets, Stilts, & a Snuff Film

First, a couple sunset pictures from Kaloko-Honokohau. Both have the same cruise ship heading out from Kailua (As always, click for larger):

This is part of the largest gathering of (federally endangered) Hawaiian stilts that I've seen in several years of walking at the park. I counted seventeen in all. I love these birds, with their elegant long legs:

Finally, for anyone who hasn't yet seen this, is a snuff-film fantasy from the hysterical, eliminationist wing of the environmental movement. I suppose lots of people have dark thoughts about just getting rid of those who don't agree with them, but it takes a certain cocooned self-righteous mentality to conclude that such a fantasy would make a great advertising campaign (Disturbing content if you disapprove of exploding schoolchildren):

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Greenwell's Effort Falls 335 Votes Short

Kona Councilman Kelly Greenwell's year-long attempt to alienate every single voter in his district fell just 335 votes short of his goal on Saturday. It's unknown at present whether all of the 335 votes he received are attributable to Greenwell's family members or escaped mental patients, but one has to salute a valiant effort by the 69-year-old. Greenwell gave 110%, advocating numerous absurd, unpopular policies, and even managed to get himself arrested on a traffic stop. Good try, Kelly!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stephens Media is Suing Bloggers. TAKE NOTE.

Most people know that Stephens Media owns West Hawaii Today, Hawaii Tribune-Herald, and Big Island Weekly, basically a monopoly of the Big Island's print media. Stephens also own newspapers nationwide.

What Big Island bloggers need to know is that Stephens Media's Las Vegas Review-Journal has partnered with Righthaven, a legal extortion operation, to file 81 (as of July 20) lawsuits against bloggers or website operators who have reposted part of all of LVRJ articles. No "take-down" or warning letters are sent before the lawsuit is filed. As the attorneys representing one of the people sued by Righthaven put it, "This strongly suggests that these suits were filed, not for the legitimate purpose of enforcing copyrights, but rather, to coerce several settlements as part of a massive cash grab facilitated by judicial process."

The most ominous quote, for Hawaii bloggers, is from the WIRED article (check out the picture of Righthaven's CEO. His picture can also be found in the dictionary, under "smug a$$hole" I'm informed, and believe):
Now he’s talking expansion. The Review-Journal’s publisher, Stephens Media in Las Vegas, runs over 70 other newspapers in nine states, and Gibson says he already has an agreement to expand his practice to cover those properties. (Stephens Media declined comment, and referred inquiries to Gibson.) Hundreds of lawsuits, he says, are already in the works by year’s end. “We perceive there to be millions, if not billions, of infringements out there,” he says.

More information here, here, and here. The "Stop the LVRJ/Righthaven Witch Hunt" Facebook page is here.

So don't re-post articles from WHT or HRH, don't quote from their articles, and (in my opinion) don't even link to them. Isolate the bastards.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two Legal Hikes

The 1801 lava flow that Kona International Airport is built upon crosses the highway just north of the airport. Walking there yesterday I came upon this sobering sight, in a lava tube. Looks like he just lay down there.

The lava is very easy walking, if you remember the first rule of walking on lava - always watch your footing. But during the day, especially if the sun is out, it's very hot. Some days, like yesterday, I like that. It's great walking, though I understand it's a tough landscape to like for a lot of people. To me it has a rugged beauty. Click this next one for larger:

When I say it's easy walking, I mean that it's fairly level, and the footing is very secure -you're walking on bare rock (though like I said, always look where you are putting your foot). There are no trails, because the pahoehoe lava is walkable in almost any direction. I highly recommend walking this area both mauka and makai of Queen K.

Then, a pleasant Sunday morning walk at the Hao Street DLNR trail. About a mile in is a trail directly uphill - an intense half a mile. Turn left at the top, follow that trail (part of the Mahaki Street trail complex) about .4 mile, turn left into the forest, a winding 3/4 mile downhill through the mostly christmas berry forest, back to the main trail and back to the entrance. 4.2 miles or so. Another nice walk.
Ran into a pit bull alone and seemingly lost on the trail. Hope he gets found.

Here's a kahili ginger from the lower trail. I know it's invasive, but just look at it:
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Monday, August 09, 2010

Monday Panorama

Click for larger view. The back of Hualalai and Pu'uwa'awa'a, from where the 1859 Mauna Loa flow crosses the upper road, just north of Pu'uanahulu.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Bees on newly-opened maiapilo, Kaloko-Honokohau NHP, sunset.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Greenwell Continues Charm Offensive; Hokukano Shenanigans

Evidently, Kelly Greenwell is worried that he hasn't alienated enough voters with his " Let's bring some Al Qaeda guys to Hawaii" proposal or his getting himself arrested for a simple speeding ticket. His new cause is protecting the County Council's ability to decide policy in secret. That should turn his campaign around!

Interesting story in today's West Hawaii Today alleging that local residents Jeff Lee and Wade Lee (through an LLC, natch) are logging old-growth sandalwood from land on Hokukano Ranch above Kealakekua, and selling it under the name "Keala Ke Aloha." It's true that Keala Ke Aloha is selling sandalwood, and that Wade Lee is the contact person, according to this site. Unknown if the sandalwood is being taken from old-growth, but if the company is in financial straights and needs quick bucks, it could be desperate. The only part of the story that seems odd is Tom Pace as guardian of the environment.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Semi-Wordless Sunday

Moss on a fallen hapu'u, Makahi Street trail, Kaloko Mauka.

Bishop Estate is back to enforcing "No Trespassing" at the top of Huehue Street. They've added a sign noting the cultural resources and asking "please" no trespassing, which will be harder to ignore in good conscience.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

"Kitty" Galore. Haha, Get It, Children?

Noted in West Hawaii Today; a big layout on the new "kids'" movie "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore."

I remember when the movie "Goldfinger" came out. I was in high school. How we snickered about the naughty character name, Pussy Galore. The name of the new "kids" movie is a play on that name, obviously. Kids won't get it, unless they check the internet or ask their parents. Is the title supposed to convince grown-ups that the movie's for them? Who could think that such a reference is appropriate for a kids movie? Or was it, as so many references in kids movies seem to be, just a sniggering in-joke for the parents?

Is our popular culture crude and debased, or am I just too old? Or both?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jumping on the Bash Kelly Greenwell Bandwagon!

It's been more than a year since my first reasonable, thoughtful, non-inflammatory post about our Kona Councilman, Kelly Greenwell ("Kelly Greenwell: Insane or Reckless?"). Now, with his recent arrest for resisting arrest, bashing Greenwell in in fashion. I think whatever slim chance he had of getting re-elected has evaporated. Some random thoughts:
  • Has he never been stopped by the police before? How does someone get to be 69 years old without learning not to get out of the car and not to be aggressive and confrontational with the police? For that matter, how does one get to be 69 years old without knowing that "Why did you pick me, because other people were also speeding" isn't an effective defense?
  • Was it the combination of being born a Greenwell in Kona and becoming a Councilman that gave Kelly such a toxic level of entitlement? He probably considers himself one of the ali'i.
  • 35 really is a ridiculous speed limit for a four-lane divided highway with no cross streets, and 51 is a perfectly safe speed for that area. Setting up a speed gun there has nothing at all to do with safety - it's an opportunity to increase the number of speeding tickets, nothing more.
  • The police have become more military-like over my lifetime, in their treatment of citizens, but then citizens have gotten more aggressive and confrontational with the police. Sheriff Andy Taylor would have just laughed if the mayor had gotten out of his car to challenge a speeding ticket, and gently steered the mayor back to his car. Another reminder of the age we live in, I suppose.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Furlough Friday Pu'uwa'awa'a Workday

Since today was a furlough day for us state workers, I was able to take part in a planting day at Pu'uwa'awa'a. We were trying to re-introduce forage plants and other native species to a nene sanctuary about 3800' up the mountain. I had forgotten how tiring it is to use an o'o to dig holes in very rocky soil.

This is the view from where we planted native plants today. Pu'u Wa'awa'a (seen from the rear ) with Kohala and Mauna Kea behind.

The planting site.

A fenced-off area in the wildlife sanctuary. Volunteers are looking at a planted Hau Kuahiwi (Hibiscadelphus Hualalaiensis) which, as the Hawaiian and scientific names tell us, is a hibiscus/mallow that grows on Hualalai mountain. The plant is so endangered that no wild specimens exist. These, having been planted, don't count.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Lava formation, Ka'upulehu lava flow @ 1700' level, below the scenic lookout.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More fire, ghost forest, and scenery from last weekend

The fire was stopped by the bulldozed service road. The burned area looks grey. That whole tan (fountain grass) area below the road, containing remnants of the dryland forest, could easily have been burned out. The fire was probably caused by fireworks, according to police. Morons playing with fireworks. The police didn't specify morons. I'm guessing.
Click for larger picture

We're witnessing a decades-long slow-motion battle between native plants and invaders. The native plants aren't winning. 95% of dryland forests are gone, a little more with every fire season.

So we all just lost something even if we didn't know it was there.

And the ghost forest is dispersed by the wind and rain and scattered.

On the other hand, Saturday was a fine day, with fine views below the lookout, Kiholo in the background.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Enock Freire: Guy Enriques Redux?

Suddenly there are huge "Enock Freire District 7" signs everywhere. The candidate and his family wave to me as I drive home, but I live in District 8 and am favorably disposed toward Brenda Ford, based on her record, so my opinion is neither all that relevant or important. Plus, I'm old and cranky and inclined toward cynicism. But all the signs make me wonder.

Feire's website stresses, with Bold Typeface, that he will WORK TOGETHER WITH OTHERS because WE WON'T GET ANYWHERE BY CAUSING DIVISION. Brenda's been a reliable thorn in the side of the majority, and their sponsors. Does that mean that Freire will be a pro-development drone, like Enriques (who also had big advertising), who had big bucks behind him and took out a conservationist council member, becoming a reliable vote for the grease machine? I don't know the man, and I don't vote in his district, but I wonder.

Ane Keohokalole Highway Already Graded Almost to Henry Street

Just to remind everybody: This project was approved last November; groundbreaking was in March (4 months ago). At this point, a year or so in, most government highway projects are just getting to the second revision of the EIS. Actual construction work would be years away. This project is roughly graded, four lanes wide, from the high school to within (my guess) half a mile of Henry Street. Good to see "stimulus" money used to actually improve the infrastructure, and construction moving (for a government project) at lightning speed. Kudos all around.
Looking back (north) at Kealakehe H.S.

Hawaiian Dryland Forest Update. The undeveloped land along the new highway is dominated by haole koa and fountain grass, with clumps of christmas berry (at the right). The conifer-shaped bush at left center is another remnant of the Hawaiian dryland forest: the native alahe'e, the indigenous member of the coffee family. After rains it produces masses of fragrant flowers.
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Friday, July 09, 2010

Ghost Forest - One of the world's most endangered ecosystems just got smaller

Click for Larger Version
Earlier this month, there was a "brush fire" around the 27-mile marker on the upper highway between Kona and Waimea. It was a fairly small fire, no homes were in danger, and the story disappeared. This afternoon I went walking below the scenic lookout, and I made my way down and over to the fire area. A few places were still smoldering in the blackened 500 acres, and a few scorched, doomed trees still were standing, but what caught my attention were the white outlines of the trees reduced to ash.

Hawaiian dryland forests are one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet. And we just lost another chunk. Not 500 acres, though. Most of the area burned by the fire was devoid of trees due to a previous fire in 1993 or so, but there were significant stands of native lama and ohia, now ghostly outlines.

The native trees adapted (or evolved) to withstand brushfires of native pili grass, but fountain grass has displaced the native grasses and it burns at a higher temperature, so when it burns, a forest remnant is lost forever, unless expensive and labor-intensive reforestation happens in the future. Fountain grass seeds are fire activated, so the fire helps the invader. And the current terrible drought looks to continue, so expect at least one more fire this year. And the endangered ecosystem will continue to shrink, another remnant of the dryland forest will be lost, leaving only a ghost forest behind. And even that will be gone with the first good rain.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Turkeys are bad mothers (shut your mouth)

Today I arrived home to see a mother turkey with about 12 new, fuzzy chicks in our back yard. About half an hour later the turkey lands on our roof, making those turkey-mother-come-here-where-are-you sounds, obviously having lost track of her chicks. A little while later, the mother and about seven chicks are trying to get down into the yard behind. They disappear.

A little while later I hear a chick's "here I am" urgent peep. I hear it again when I'm in the kitchen but I look out the window and see two turkeys, two chicks and figure everything is cool. The turkeys start out with a lot of chicks so that when 90% are picked off by mongoose, cats, and dogs, they'll still have a new generation. That's how nature works, I get it.

So I'm back at the computer, checking e-mail, the news, politics, Big Island Chronicle, you know, just surfing, when I hear the chick's distress call again. I walk out in the direction I heard it, look down into the neighbor's yard and see two adult turkeys, no chicks. I go back in. I hear it again, but it stops when I slide the screen door open. I go out to where it seems like it was coming from, but can find nothing. The next time it starts, I pause at the screen to locate the source. I go back to the same place and glancing to the left, I see a chick who looks at me and makes for cover. I go back in, get a shoebox, return and find two little fuzzy turkeys. I take the box across the street to our other neighbor, who once said she had a friend who raises turkeys. They already had five of the same brood, in a little pen in their anteroom.

So in one day this turkey mother LOST (not eaten by mongoose, just left behind) SEVEN of her babies. Not to be judgmental, but that's just poor parenting skills. It's really amazing that we have any turkeys at all, based on that sad performance.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Old color movies of Honolulu on VJ Day, 1945 (& maybe a glimpse of Kona)

A lost world.

Very cool video assembled from 16mm film by Richard Sullivan (who also shot the film, according to a comment by his son, here). Interesting shots of how Honolulu looked in August 1945, and at the 3:04-3:08 mark what looks like a woman enjoying the view from the upper road between Kona and Waimea( near where the scenic viewpoint turnoff is now, it appears), looking towards Pu'uanahulu and Kohala. Anybody else see that?

On a related note, the kissing nurse in the famous VJ Day photo passed away this past Sunday.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Kona Association for the Advancement of Alahe'e (KAAA)

Unfortunately, there's no such thing: the alahe'e is a good looking, fragrant plant with clusters of white flowers. Kealakehe residents (or people with kids at the schools there) know that when they're in bloom, they perfume the air of the whole area. Recently, the (badly-needed) widening of Palani has taken out a number of sterling specimens of alahe'e, including the one pictured here. RIP, buddy, thanks for the blossoms. (Click on image for larger.)
In the "plants still alive" category we have a vivid orange lehua, from Huehue Street, in the mist and clouds:
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